Archive | SpiritBlog RSS feed for this section

Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity – Day 5

July 22, 2018

0 Comments

St. Mary Magdalene

For all who work in entertainment and the arts

Lord, God, we ask you today to send forth in great abundance, through your Mother’s Most Immaculate and Pure Heart, the graces needed to convert and change the hearts of all those who work in the entertainment industry and in the arts. Grant them the gift to see the true beauty and dignity of the human person and thus create accordingly. Let them always place the virtue of chastity and purity at the forefront of their creations. Through the intercession of St. Mary Magdalene, may all writers, producers, artists, musicians and poets come to love you just as much as this holy woman did. Free from the bonds of slavery all those addicted to pornography and all those involved in prostitution. May Your Most Precious Blood this very day cover the multitude of sins committed against the flesh and wash clean the hearts of those who are deceived by the evil one. Holy Spirit breathe the fire of your love into the hearts, minds and souls of every single person involved with entertainment and art, that they may be directed by Your voice and Your love in the work that they produce, and as such, give You high honor and glory for all the world to see. Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory Be.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us. 

Attributed to:
Couple to Couple League of Indianapolis

Continue reading...

Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity – Day 4

July 21, 2018

1 Comment

For all doctors, nurses, and all who work in the fields of medicine and pharmacology

Lord, God, we ask your very special blessings and graces to be showered forth upon those who serve you in their ministry to others in the fields of medicine and pharmacology. Help them always to maintain a high respect and dignity for all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Grant to them a deep and abiding love and awe for the creative powers you have endowed to your creatures. May they use technology and medicine for your greater honor and glory and with the utmost respect to the moral law and natural order. Lead many doctors and nurses, sweet Jesus, to the Good News of Natural Family Planning. Give them all the great gift of humility and a fervent desire to know and to do Your Will. We thank you with overflowing hearts, Lord, for those doctors and nurses who have embraced your calling and who promote only Natural Family Planning to their patients. Give them fortitude to go against the tide and bless them, their practices and their families one-hundred fold. Give special strength, O Divine Physician, to those who hear your voice but are afraid to come. Keep knocking patiently and perseveringly upon their hearts and may they know and accept Your love for them. Holy Spirit breathe the fire of your love into the hearts, minds and souls of all in the medical and health fields that they may be sanctified to grow in love of chastity and purity and thus gain an earnestness to bring these holy virtues to the souls that they minister to. Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory Be.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us. 

Attributed to:
Couple to Couple League of Indianapolis

Continue reading...

Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity – Day 3

July 20, 2018

0 Comments

For all the unmarried

Lord, God, we ask your very special graces and blessings to be showered this day upon all the unmarried. Help them to embrace and love deeply the sweet virtues of chastity and purity. Give to them the resolve they need to remain pure in a world that is hostile to such teachings. Take all of our precious youth, dear Mother, under your protective mantel where they may be kept unstained, unsullied, and unblemished. Lord, Jesus, call and beckon those who have strayed and sinned to come back to your loving arms, and to start clean again through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Guide, with your loving hands, Lord, all engaged couples that they may remain pure and chaste throughout their courtship. Give special aid, O Spotless Lamb, to those who have never heard about the virtues of chastity and purity. Soften their hearts and lead them to the well of chastity where they may drink of the pristine and uncontaminated waters. Help all of our children and the parents who love them, sweet Jesus, to guard attentively the minds and souls of their precious little ones so that they may be kept from impure images, art, music, books and movies, that may work to usurp their beloved innocence. And, sweet Jesus and dear Mother, we pray especially for those souls who bear the cross of homosexuality. Lead them to embrace chastity and may your most Precious Blood deliver them from the deceit and the lies of the evil one. Holy Spirit breathe the fire of your love into the hearts, minds and souls of all the unmarried that they may grow ardently in their love and understanding to acquire the virtues of chastity and purity. Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory Be.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us. 

Attributed to:
Couple to Couple League of Indianapolis

Continue reading...

Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity – Day 2

July 19, 2018

0 Comments

For all married couples

Lord, God, we ask your very special graces and blessings upon all married couples. Help them to grow in their understanding and in their love for the virtue of chastity and purity. Lord, help those couples who have never heard about natural family planning to be led to this information. Shower special graces upon your people, O Lord, that hardened hearts may be softened to hear your message of the Good News about the Gospel of Life and Love. Help all married couples develop the virtue of self-control and a total self-giving love. Help them to contemplate and meditate upon the Most Holy Trinity and to imitate the Godhead in their love for one another and for their family. We ask for your special aid and graces for those couples who are striving to live chaste lives but are finding it difficult amidst the temptations and the confusion wrought by this world. Help those couples who are practicing Natural Family Planning to persevere and to always maintain a generosity to life. Holy Spirit breathe the fire of your love into the hearts, minds and souls of all married couples that they may live their marriage vows with dignity and with respect to the moral order for the greater honor and glory of God. Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory Be.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us. 

Attributed to:
Couple to Couple League of Indianapolis

Continue reading...

Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity – Day 1

July 18, 2018

0 Comments

For all priests, bishops, cardinals, and our Holy Father

Lord, God, thank you for the gift of holy priesthood. We ask you to take each one of your most precious sons into the depths of your most Sacred Heart where they may be protected from the world’s contagion and from the deception of the evil one. Help them to cultivate a strong devotion and love for their most pure and holy Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. Give strength and courage to your chosen ones that they may defend life always and promote marital and virginal chastity especially when it seems difficult to do so. Grant to them a greater understanding and love for the Most Holy Trinity so that they may see within the Godhead this mystery of total self-giving and self-sacrificing love that brings forth and sustains all life. Give them a great zeal and ardent desire to bring You pure and chaste souls. Strengthen them and grant them the grace to remain always faithful to the total vow of chastity that they have taken for the sake of the Kingdom. Holy Spirit breathe the fire of your love into their hearts, minds and souls that they may go forth and preach the Gospel of Life and Chastity to every soul whom they have been entrusted with. Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary, One Glory Be.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us.

Attributed to:
Couple to Couple League of Indianapolis

Continue reading...

Novena for a Rebirth of Chastity and Purity July 18-26

July 16, 2018

0 Comments

Join the Marriage, Family and Life Office in praying a novena for chastity and purity in the world. We will begin this novena on Tuesday, July 18 in preparation for the USCCB’s NFP Awareness Week and complete the novena on the feast of Sts. Joachim and Anne.

The prayers for the day on each day of the novena will be posted here daily at CatholicHotdish.com and the complete novena may be found at archspm.org on the event’s page.

Mary, our Mother, perfect model of purity and chastity, pray for us.

Continue reading...

For the Love of the Game: Where Fraternity and Faith Meet

May 17, 2018

0 Comments

Eddie Rosario

Fr. Ubel with Puerto Rico native and Twins Left Fiedler, Eddie Rosario

By Father John Ubel

Like all grade school students of my era, I was taught that Christopher Columbus discovered America. Of course I assumed then that he touched foot on what is now American soil. I would later learn that Leif Erickson and Viking explorers were likely the first Europeans to set foot in North America proper, landing on the northern tip of Newfoundland around the year 1000 A.D. But Columbus did anchor near San Juan, Puerto Rico for two days in November 1493 A.D. on his second voyage, and when I gazed upon the tomb of Juan Ponce de Leon, known as the discoverer of Florida, in the Catedral de San Juan Bautista, suddenly the travails of the early explorers felt real. By appointment of the Spanish Crown, he was its first Governor in 1508-09.

Traversing the streets of old San Juan is reminiscent of many old European cities, with El Morro, the massive six-story 16th century fortress dominating the old city. The morning of our Cathedral visit coincided with the arrival of a giant cruise ship in port. The narrow streets were packed by 9:00 a.m. Our “tour guide” from the parish staff was José Lara Fontánez, who clearly loves his Cathedral as much as I love ours. We had mailed 345 pounds of medicines, to be distributed to the needy in San Juan and beyond. The island wide power outage delayed the post office pick up by a day or two, but they arrived safely. On top of that, I was delighted to present a gift in the amount of $25,000 to be used for Cathedral restoration, following Hurricane Maria. Ten minutes into our visit, my phone rang–it was Premier Bank. I gave authorization for the immediate transfer of funds and we all cheered when the transfer was final. What a thrill for me! I received a heartfelt thank you note from the rector, Fr. Benjamin Perez Cruz, who invited me to visit again in 2021 for the 500th anniversary celebration of the Cathedral!

Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

Fr. Ubel presents gift check to the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista

With a typical high of 85 and low of 74, it is not difficult to plan for the day, unless it rains! And it did briefly, but powerfully one day. The cab driver lamented– “You see this? When it rains, the roads become a river!” And trust me, when the sun re-appears, it’s like a steam room! In its infancy as a territory, Puerto Rico relied heavily on its sugar crop, but by the mid-20th century, that shifted to manufacturing and tourism. Puerto Ricans received U.S. citizenship in 1917 and Puerto Rico officially became a U.S. Commonwealth in 1952. There are signs that tourism is slowly, very slowly coming back. I suspect this is one reason why Major League Baseball was intent on keeping its commitment to this two-game series. They added LED lights to the stadium (just as we did here at the Cathedral!) and repaired the significant damage to the artificial turf in Estadio Hiram Bithorn, built in 1962 and named after the first Puerto Rican who played in the Majors for the Chicago Cubs in 1942.

The scoreboard was reminiscent of the old Met Stadium. It was “no frills” baseball without the constant images flashing across giant video screens. Instead, we were treated to strolling musicians in the stands, with people breaking into dancing and singing right in their seats between innings. Cowbells, whistles and a cacophony of sounds seemed ever-present. It was a completely different feel in the stadium. We sat directly behind a friendly family– Mom, Dad, their identical twin sons aged about 12 or 13 and grandpa. They were all smiles during the game, though ironically the “twins” inexplicably sported Indians gear! On the first night I enjoyed fresh squeezed lemonade and a hot dog, and on the second night, felt ambitious an opted for a piña colada. If it had any alcohol, it was the weakest drink I’ve ever had– but it was tasty!

Back at the hotel after the first game, our group visited with a man at the neighboring table who worked for Major League Baseball. We began discussing the various charitable outreaches being made during the series. When I noted our own outreach to the Cathedral, he was genuinely appreciative. Not five minutes later, into the restaurant walked Rob Manfred, the Commissioner of Major League Baseball. After a few minutes, the Commissioner himself approached our table! He asked how we were enjoying our experience, and before long he invited us to a private event the next day unveiling a memorial marker in honor of Roberto Clemente, a national hero in Puerto Rico who tragically perished in a plane crash on New Year’s Eve in 1972 while on his way to provide disaster relief to Nicaragua. The entire visit was a wonderful experience of faith, fellowship and baseball, with a few surprise extras. The incredible support of the good people of the Cathedral parish truly made it an unforgettable visit.

Continue reading...

The Last Jedi and the Renewal of an Institution (Spoilers)

April 18, 2018

0 Comments

by Christopher Menzhuber

Christopher Menzhuber

The tension between authentically renewing institutions and destroying them has been around as long as institutions have been with us. Many people would agree the Church -as an institution- should be in a constant state of renewal yet few would agree on what that means. The root of such disagreement lies in our understanding of what Jesus came to do: establish a Church or destroy religious institutions altogether?

For those who believe Jesus came to destroy institutions, “Christ … appears as the revolutionary of love, who pits himself against the enslaving power of institutions and dies in combat against them (especially against the priesthood),” writes Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (Pope Benedict XVI) describing this view while criticizing it in his book Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today. From this perspective, organized religion is seen as an obstacle that must be removed before faith can freely animate a community of prophetic individuals to follow their individual consciences and fully realize the power of love in the world. In short, it is thought that if the kingdom of God is to prevail, the institutional Church must end.

In the most recent installment of the Star Wars saga, “The Last Jedi” released December 2017 and grossing over a billion dollars worldwide, Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) echoes this sentiment about his own Jedi religion. “I only know one truth: It’s time for the Jedi to end.” By creating tension between a would-be reformer and the Jedi as a religious institution, director Rian Johnson may be depicting a galaxy not-so-far away as he explores the dynamic of renewal in the Star Wars universe.

Master Skywalker embodies the perspective that organized religion suppresses faith. Reflecting on their legacy of mistakes, Luke has come to see the Jedi as proud usurpers of the Force, which does not rely on the Jedi to exist. “To say that if the Jedi die the light dies is vanity,” he tells Rey. In another important scene, Skywalker attempts to destroy the sacred Jedi relics exclaiming “I’m ending all of this,” an action that would erase all memory of the Jedi and liberate the Force from the Jedi’s confining traditions.

Over and against this perspective is the young protagonist Rey (Daisy Ridley), who has been inspired by the legends of the Jedi, and maintains the hope that by being formed in the tradition of the Force she can bring light to the galaxy and find some inner illumination. “The galaxy may need a legend.” she says. “I need to know my place in all of this.”

Does the film espouse one view over the other? The moral character of both perspectives gives us some more insight. Luke, embittered by personal failure, is moving toward self-destruction. Moreover, we also learn he has closed himself off from the Force, and has actually never even read his own Jedi Bible. Drawing a real life analogy to the Church one can see in him the Christian archetype who has grown cynical, who has abandoned the life of prayer, and who despite significant education remains ignorant of his own tradition. Under the pretext of reform this person undermines the very things that give Catholicism its distinctiveness like the sacramental priesthood, moral teaching, and authority of the magisterium, the result of which is tantamount to destroying the memory of the Church.

Rey appears in sharp contrast to Luke: idealistic and energetic; perhaps a little naïve and proud; she wants to be a part of the venerable Jedi tradition. Her scant knowledge of the Jedi is accurate but woefully incomplete. When challenged about what she really knows of the force she stammers only bits and pieces: “Lifting rocks and getting people to do what you want.” Think here of people who grew up without any real religious formation but hear God calling them in a world incapable of providing meaningful answers. They long for the adventure that comes from accepting a truth which places demands upon them and calls forth acts of courage. Far from viewing the Institutional Church as confining, they embrace the ancient but ever-growing Catholic Tradition because it connects them to the greatest story ever told.

While the movie appears to relish the conflict between perspectives, it also seems to tilt in favor of preserving institutions when we catch a glimpse of the salvaged Jedi texts suggesting the Jedi tradition will continue. Rey is acknowledged as a Jedi and her rudimentary grasp of the force turns out to be exactly what the rebellion needs. Luke rediscovers his faith and it sets him on a path seeking forgiveness which “is the heart of all true reform,” writes Benedict.

Overall, “The Last Jedi” takes a more thoughtful departure from its predecessors as it embarks on its own journey of renewal. Whether you can see in it a comparison to what’s happening in the Church or perhaps read it as a metaphor for the renewal of the franchise itself, you may find “The Last Jedi” has an interesting portrayal of the tension between authentically reforming an institution versus destroying it. And if you find those themes to be interesting, you will probably enjoy the book “Called to Communion: Understanding the Church Today,” by Catholicism’s own Jedi Master, Benedict XVI.

Continue reading...

Glimpses of God in the everyday world

December 15, 2017

0 Comments

By Christopher Menzhuber

If we believe God knocks on the door of every heart, . . . would He be working through Kesha and her new song Praying?

“I hope you find your peace, falling on your knees praying.”

In her first song to be released in almost four years the pop artist Kesha urges a nameless person who put her “through hell” to pray and change. Given the superficiality of Kesha’s other hits, “Praying” could be one more declarative ballad about triumphing over one’s enemies along the lines of Katy Perry’s “Roar,” Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song,” or Queen Elsa’s “Let it Go”. But the emotional song also seems to contain the deeper religious message that interior peace comes with forgiving our enemies. And surprisingly, the music video reinforces this message in a couple of remarkable ways.

In the video we watch Kesha being brought from a kind of spiritual death to life, with the climactic moment unfolding at the summit of Salvation Mountain, a giant slab of painted clay in California topped with a Christian cross and dominated by the giant words “God is Love.” Kesha struggles out of fishnets and outruns monsters to arrive at the sunny peak, where she kneels down to pray.

“Sometimes I pray for you at night,” Kesha sings of her offender as she approaches the cross. It’s a lyric she described as particularly important to her in an interview with Zach Sang and it expresses she is willing the good of the other, which is at the heart of a Christian understanding of love. Then she respectfully touches the cross, which puts her in touch not only with other great men and women who have discovered peace through forgiveness, but Jesus Christ who asked his Father to “Forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.”

It is therefore entirely fitting, that of all the many possible symbols of human goodwill, it is the Christian Cross that makes an appearance at the moment of forgiveness. The cross is the ultimate sign and source of self-sacrificing love. Furthermore, by connecting the cross to her moment of forgiveness “Praying” conveys the high cost of forgiving our enemies and even how it lies beyond our own power. “Some things only God can forgive.” Kesha sings.

If to Christian ears it sounds a little obvious to say we should forgive our enemies, it is far from being so in our contemporary culture which seems to be growing increasingly fascinated with Karmic redress. Many people seek satisfaction by blaming someone or some odious group– fill in your own worst enemy – for the problems and suffering in the world. Zach Sang even expresses his own incredulity at the idea of forgiving one’s enemies. “Every time I disliked somebody or I feel like somebody’s done me wrong or hurt me, all I do is wish – I wish bad things upon them, but that’s not the move?”

Kesha’s spirituality is likely too pantheistic to be considered Christian, but what she has done is made a powerfully emotive piece of art with a keen Christian message. The gritty style of the video will not appeal to everyone and the many symbols used probably have several interpretations. But the simple truth is that if more people prayed for their enemies –strengthened by the cross – the world would be a more peace-filled place.

Continue reading...

Travels to Tanzania are inspiring

December 4, 2017

0 Comments

Father Michael Skluzacek, center, during Mass while on his trip to Tanzania. Courtesy Father Michael Skluzacek

By Father Michael Skluzacek

The Mass for the dedication of a new church is one of the most inspiring liturgies there is. I recently had the great privilege to concelebrate the Mass of Dedication for the new church of St. John the Baptist in Ngujini, Tanzania.

I traveled to Tanzania in early November with four other pilgrims: Renée Hosch from St. John the Baptist in New Brighton, Father Cory Rohlfing and Laura Stierman from St. Jude of the Lake in Mahtomedi, and Molly Druffner from St. Michael in Stillwater.  Molly is the Director of Partners 4 Hope Tanzania, and serves as a missionary in Tanzania with her family.

Ngujini is an “outstation,” served by Father Dr. Beda Kiure of Immaculate Conception Parish in Bwambo. In April 2016, Molly Druffner came to St. John the Baptist in New Brighton and did an appeal for funds to build a church at Ngujini.  Parishioners at St. John the Baptist responded with overwhelming generosity, and work soon began on the church.

Over the next 18 months, parishioners set to work in building a beautiful church that seats more than 200. Villagers of all faiths pitched in to help, and the project became a unifying force and source of pride for the entire community.

As the new church neared completion and the date was set for its dedication, Bishop Rogath Kimaryo of the local Diocese of Same (Sah’may) decided to name the church St. John the Baptist in honor of the people of St. John the Baptist in New Brighton. As gifts for the new church, I brought over several altar cloths from the New Brighton St. John’s, as well as three chalices given by Knights of Columbus.

During the liturgy, when those chalices were brought out, and the altar cloth was placed on the newly anointed altar, I was deeply moved by the significance of our two parishes being united in the Eucharist. Every time that Mass is celebrated at Ngujini, St. John’s in New Brighton will be present there, through the sacred furnishings that adorn the Body and Blood of Christ.The Body of Christ that is the Church is present in the Body of Christ really and truly present on the altar.

When I was on sabbatical in Tanzania two years ago, I baptized three baby boys at an outdoor Mass at Ngujini. Now, on that very site stands a beautiful new church.

I was asked to give a speech at the end of the dedication Mass. I extended the greetings of the people of St. John’s in New Brighton to the people of St. John’s in Ngujini. I spoke of how we will always be united in Christ whenever the holy Mass is celebrated.

As I was speaking, three little boys, about 2 ½ years old, approached the sanctuary with their parents. The boys squirmed and wondered what was going on, but I realized that these were the three boys I had baptized two years ago. I saw in their parents’ eyes the gratitude and the love that unite God’s holy people through the saving grace of the sacraments.

 

Continue reading...