October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

 

 

Getty Images

October 7 is the First Friday of the month, traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. This month, October 7 is also the Feast of Our Lady of the Rmaculate Heart stresses her maternal love for each one of us. Make a special effort to honor the Two Hearts by praying the rosary that day.

 

And, as the entire month of October is dedicated to the rosary, let us remember the old phrase, “The family that prays together, stays together.” When was the last time your family prayed the rosary at home? By doing so you sanctify the home, praying the rosary in the “Domestic Church.” While I typically pick different grottoes in the diocese in which to pray the rosary and invite everyone to join me, the more impressive thing is to pray the rosary at home with your family members. Please plan to pray the rosary together as a family and build up and sanctify family life.

Additionally, October is Respect Life Month. Please find all the different ways to celebrate Life as a family by focusing on these resources and various life issues found here: https://www.respectlife.org/respect-life-month.

In the September issue of Legatus magazine, the president, Steven M. Henley, highlighted the family as the most important “school,” long before the kids put on their backpacks and leave the home to go to school. In that sense, we recall the words of blessing the parents at the end of the baptismal ritual, reminding the parents that they are the “first teachers of their children in the ways of faith.” Given that mandate, then there is no such thing as vacation from the school that is the home. Pope Francis echoed those words in his encyclical Fratelli Tutti (All Brothers, fraternity of the human family), families are called to a primary and vital mission of education. Therefore, it is not enough just to send them to religion classes or to a Catholic school. The transmission of the faith belongs to the parents. And as the article brings out so well, “school should be in session all year long in our home.” Hopefully it is at home where parents teach their children the 10 Commandments, long before they hear about it in a religion class. Hopefully it is at home where parents teach their children to make the sign of the cross, along with the basic prayers, long before they hear it in a religion class. Hopefully it is at home where parents teach their children the importance of Sunday Mass, whether on vacation, traveling to another city for a sports tournament, and making the Mass a priority on a busy weekend. The school of faith is always in session. There’s no vacation—no fall or spring breaks. The school of faith is always in session!

We are well into the new academic year. Pens, pencils, notebooks, book bags, and other items necessary for a good learning environment are currently in use. What about the rosary, the Litany of the Sacred Heart, or the Litany of the Blessed Mother? These are the items that we use at home, in the school of faith. “The family that prays together stays together.”

COURAGE/ENCOURAGE

In paragraph 2013 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, regarding Christian holiness, it is stated, “All Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullest of Christian life and to the perfection of charity. All are called to holiness.” I have heard that quote many times and it is beautiful, reminding us that regardless of our state in life: single, married, ordained or vowed, we are all called to holiness. Holiness is not just for a few. However, what you don’t hear quoted as often is paragraph 2015, “The way of perfection passes by way of the Cross. There is no holiness without renunciation and spiritual battle.” Who wants to hear about renunciation and battle? Well, that is how you make spiritual progress. There are many people struggling with sexual issues such as pornography or same-sex attraction who are looking for help in leading a chaste life. Yes, they too are called to holiness! That is good news! It is not an unrealistic expectation. The Lord doesn’t call us to holiness and then not give us the ability to achieve. It can be difficult and that is why it requires renunciation and spiritual battle. And, in 1980 the first Courage group met in New York City to pursue the five goals of chastity, prayer, and dedication, fellowship, support, and a good example. In my next column, I will explain more fully the five goals of courage and also explain “Encourage,” a ministry dedicated to the spiritual needs of parents and friends of those who identify as LGBTQ+.

 

October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

Heavenly Blessings Flow Upon the Humble

TWENTY-EIGHTH SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME

The readings from this reflection: 2Kings 5:14-17; Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; 2Timothy 2:8-13; Luke 17:11-19

Naaman Healed in the Jordan River (Getty Images)

It is an exciting story in the fifth chapter of Second Kings: the healing of leper Naaman. Naaman, the commander of the army of the king of Aram, was sent to prophet Elisha—who started his ministry with “double portion anointing” (2 Kg. 2, 9.15).

Though the biblical meaning of the name Naaman is “pleasant,” his response to the prophet’s message was not pleasant and so he resisted the prophecy. The problem with this commander was, he had already planned how God should act and intervene in his life. So the first lesson we learn from this is, never approach God with our own plans. God has his own plans for us and he will meet us where we are.

Naaman yielded to the reasoning of his servants, because those servants spoke some sense into him. Let us keep in mind that wisdom comes not only from people of high profile, but also from those whom we consider as illiterate or ordinary people.

“Elisha sent him the message: Go and wash seven times in Jordan …” Simple acts with faith and obedience to God’s will produce great results. “Naaman went down and plunged into Jordan seven times at the word of Elisha, the man of God.” The result was astounding, even beyond his wildest dreams: “His flesh became again like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean of his leprosy.” In my experience, I have witnessed that traditional and simple prayers have brought great results; confession, with a true contrite heart, led to the healing of mind and body; prayer of praising and thanksgiving, gave peace of mind. Despite being an outstanding warrior and commander of the army, Naaman was a leper. No matter how powerful, influential, and wealthy we are, keep in mind we are vulnerable. We receive heavenly blessings when we humble ourselves and obey the Lord.

Naaman asked the prophet’s permission to “have two mule-loads of earth.” It was a thoughtful reminder of the ‘holy ground’ where he felt and experienced the Holy and Mighty One of Israel. He wanted to cherish that experience for the rest of his life. We have to go out of the church not with the weight of the soil, but with the ‘light’ of Jesus having him in our heart. The healing led Naaman to a change in his belief; it convinced him that the God of Elisha, the prophet, is the true God. Certain experiences either good or bad happen in our lives, to deepen our faith in the Lord.

CLEANSING OF LEPERS

In today’s Gospel, too, we see healing of lepers. The cleansing of the lepers was an identifying marker of Messianic era: “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: … the lepers are cleansed” (Luke 7, 22).

The healing of the lepers takes place step by step: crying out from a distance, believing in Jesus’ words, healing on their way to show themselves to the priests, returning to Jesus praising God, and prostrating at the feet of Jesus.

Those 10 lepers were people of simple faith: they simply believed in the words of Jesus who said, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” They did not have any demand that Jesus should touch them or show some signs contrary to Naaman the leper.

A traditional believer may take everything for granted and may be spiritually deaf. The Samaritan, an outsider, was more responsive. A longtime member of a parish may not be the most spiritually-mature and deep in faith.

The 10 lepers “raised their voices” and asked for Jesus’ mercy. Jesus responded. Only one “returned, glorifying God in a loud voice.” Our prayer of thanksgiving should be as loud as our clamoring requests.

We have to acknowledge everything that we receive from the Lord. Let us be like the Samaritan who returned to thank the Lord.

Father Thekkanath is the Pastor of St. John Parish, Leopold, MO, and St. Anthony Mission Church, in Glennon, MO

October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

Never Underestimate the Power of Our Lady Over Evil

GettyImages

David Carollo, Executive Director of the World Apostolate of Fatima USA, recorded an increase in rosary sales since The Atlantic magazine published an article in August that attempted to link the rosary to violent, right-wing extremism in the United States. After a frenzy of grave concern of what many considered anti-Catholic sentiment, the magazine changed its headline from “How the Rosary Became an Extremist Symbol” to “How Extremist Gun Culture is Trying to Co-Op the Rosary.”

The article said, “These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal.” Well, I don’t know about that. I do know that I’ve been carrying and praying the rosary since seventh grade. Does that make me a threat to others?

(more…)
October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

Is God your Source or just a Resource?

Twenty-sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

The readings from this reflection: Am 6:1a, 4-7; Ps 146:7, 8-10; 1Tm 6:11-16; Lk 16:19-31

Getty Images

The emphasis of riches and wealth in the Gospel account of Luke is overwhelmingly obvious to any reader of the Gospel. As in previous Sundays in this liturgical cycle, Jesus invites three groups of persons to be aware of the blessings that riches or wealth provide but also reminds that whatever riches or gifts we possess, each has its source in God. The three groups highlighted in the Gospel according to Luke are the disciples of Jesus, the Pharisees, and the crowds that followed Jesus with no specific desire of committing themselves to the Gospel proclaimed. To paraphrase the words of a little-known writer, Tony Evans, our only source is God, and the riches we have and the gifts we possess are all resources that flow from that one source. Recognizing this will help us appreciate their value in our lives as we seek to be stewards of these blessings from God.

Our Gospel passage this weekend highlights this fact in a vivid way and how we need to be aware of this, especially in our relationship with our brothers and sisters. The parable points out two principal characters both described in an interesting way in our Scriptural translation. First, there is “a rich man who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day.” Jesus does not give a name to this rich man, but rather describes him by his lifestyle and actions. However, the second character in the story is given a name, Lazarus, which means: God is my helper. But, he is also described according to his situation: “a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who would gladly have eaten his fill of the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table.” The interesting detail we immediately see here is that both are described in relationship within the situation of another.

(more…)
October’s Focus is Life & Family as First School

The Eucharistic Miracle of Santarém

During the national three-year Eucharistic Revival, The Very Rev. Shoby Chettiyath, V.G., the diocesan Vicar General, will write a series of articles exploring the various Eucharistic Miracles of the World. A companion for readers in this series is, “The Eucharistic Miracles of the World,” an international exhibition designed and created by Blessed Carlo Acutis, the Servant of God. All rights reserved; used with permission. More information may be found at www.miracolieucaristici.org/en/liste/list.html

This most important Eucharistic Miracle we highlight in this article took place on Feb. 16, 1266, in the city of Santarem, of the District of Fatima in Portugal. The fact remains that the consecrated host has been preserved for more than 750 years, intact and drenched in Blood, in the church of St. Stephen of the Holy Miracle. The most ancient documents describe how the miracle happened: A young wife suffering from the infidelity of her husband in the sacrament of marriage, consulted a sorceress to regain his faithfulness and save her marriage. The Sorceress told her to go to the church and steal a “consecrated Host” to use for sorcery. The desperate woman went to the Church of St. Stephen to attend the Mass and after receiving Holy Communion, took it out of her mouth and wrapped it in a veil that immediately became stained with Blood. The unfortunate woman, overcome with fear and confusion, rushed home and locked the miraculous Host in a trunk. In the middle of the night, a bright light coming from the trunk woke the wife and the unfaithful husband. When she explained to him what she had done, the couple knelt in front of the trunk and repented. In the early morning, the parish priest was informed of the event and came to the couple’s house to take the Host and carry it back to St. Stephen’s Church in a solemn procession, followed by a crowd of religious and faithful. The Host continued to bleed for three more days. Then later the priest kept the Host in a wax pyx at the church and soon word spread, bringing many to visit the church to witness. In 1340, when a priest opened the tabernacle, he found the wax pyx was broken into many pieces: in its place was a crystal vase containing the Blood mixed with the wax. The Sacred Host is now preserved in an 18th century Eucharistic throne above the main altar. “Throughout the centuries, on various occasions the Host gave new emissions of Blood, and in some cases various images of Our Lord were seen in the Holy Eucharist. Among the witnesses of this prodigy is St. Francis Xavier, the apostle of the Indies, who visited the shrine before going on the missions. Every year since the miracle occurred, on the second Sunday of April, the precious relic is processed from the home of the couple to the Church of St. Stephen. The couple’s home became a chapel in the year 1684.” Numerous studies and canonical analyses were carried out on the relics. The Host changed into bleeding Flesh and Blood flowed out of the Blessed Sacrament. Both relics are preserved to this day in the Church of St. Stephen in Santarém. Some Popes granted plenary indulgences to this Eucharistic miracle: Pius IV, St. Pius V, Pius VI, and Pope Gregory XIV. Still today, it is possible to admire these precious relics in the Church of St. Stephen of Santarém. ©TM

The Very Rev. Shoby Chettiyath, V.G., serves as Vicar General, Moderator of the Curia, and Vicar for Religious in the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. He is Parochial Administrator of St. Francis of Assisi Parish, in Nixa, MO.