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The reasons which ought to lead all men to seek God — Intimations of Immortality by Dr. Jeff Mirus

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Intimations of Immortality

by Dr. Jeff Mirus

When I was growing up in the 1950s and early 1960s, my world was a Christian world, at least nominally. My earliest efforts at apologetics were all designed to explain the “oddities” of the Catholic Faith to Protestants, and to show why their version of certain Christian ideas was wrong while the Catholic version was right. Since then much has changed. Now we are just as likely to be starting from scratch with people who don’t accept any version of Christianity, or perhaps any serious version of God either.

So from time to time we may profit from reviewing some of the reasons people ought to be interested in God, and especially interested in seeking a revelation from God that can set us on the right path. While people are often brought to a serious examination of the existence of God and the truth of the Christian Faith through personal experiences—whether tragic or triumphant—there are also some intellectual starting points that can get us wondering about these things. I’ll briefly review four of them here.

Our Own Sense of Continuation

There are several indicators of the existence of an immaterial, intellective soul that is necessarily immortal, but the one that impacts us most is simply our own sense of identity and our continuation in that identity. There is no evidence that any other creature has such a sense, that any other bodily creature understands itself as a unique individual with an identity which “ought” to continue beyond the vicissitudes of this earthly life. And no other creature manifests anything like a religious sense.

It is otherwise with us. No matter what age we are, no matter how many changes and struggles we’ve lived through, no matter how many times our cells have died and been replaced in the constant cycle of growth and decay, we still think of ourselves as “ourselves”. I look out from a 62 year-old body feeling exactly like the same “me” who was once fifteen. I am astonished that I should be old, and that life should be drawing inexorably to its close. This is unfathomable; it is a contradiction of everything I instinctively feel about myself. I cannot imagine my own non-existence. I cannot imagine a time when I will be unable to reflect on myself, on who I am. So it is with every man and woman who has ever lived.

Ralph McInerny, in his memoir of his life at Notre Dame (see I Alone Have Escaped to Tell You) makes the telling statement that even after his beloved wife of 50 years died he went on each day feeling immortal. That captures what it means to be human very well. We expect to continue as ourselves, and this leads us inescapably to ponder whether we have a persistent spiritual identity capable of transcending our current bodily existence. This in turn opens our minds to a spiritual world, and to the possibility of a God who is the very ground of our being. As the expression goes, nature abhors a vacuum. If we instinctively expect continuation, yearn for continuation, and seek continuation, then this is reason enough to presume that we will continue, and to examine carefully the question of whether in fact what our instincts tell us is so, and how this can be.

Our Perception of the World

Another profitable line of thought which is very near to us arises from our normal reactions to the world around us. There are at least two questions concerning our experience of the world which strike most of us fairly forcefully in a rather philosophical way. The first is the question of where it all came from. Ultimately, the human mind is not satisfied with the idea that the universe is eternal (which is far harder to believe than that an eternal God created it, given that everything we know about the material world suggests that it is contingent). Nor are we satisfied with the idea that the universe “just happened”, a concept which makes no logical sense to anyone who can think his way out of a paper bag.

It is not even too much to say, I think, that the human mind tends to be unsatisfied with the notion that the world could have evolved randomly from some primordial chemicals without any teleology (or tendency toward an end) having been built into it from the beginning. On the one hand, pure atheistic evolutionism simply pushes the God question beneath a few more layers of cosmic dust. On the other, the imagination has to stretch farther to see the plausibility of atheistic evolutionary theory than it does to see the plausibility of an uncaused Cause. We don’t claim to be able to encompass the Cause in our minds; but logic drives us to assume Its existence. Thus the questions “Where did this come from?” and “How was it designed?” set both the human mind and the human heart to work.

The other obvious question is why, in such a highly ordered universe, so many things are out of sync. How is it that the law of the jungle rules the beasts, that natural disasters occur, that men mistreat each other, that we lack so much in equality, justice and peace? No sooner does our experience of reality enable us to see how things are supposed to work than it shows us the proverbial sticky wicket. It is almost as if something that began flawlessly has somehow been broken, but we don’t see how. In Orthodoxy, G. K. Chesterton explains that the doctrine of Original Sin fit his experience of reality perfectly, and Blessed John Henry Newman saw things exactly the same way. We anticipate in this Christian doctrine the answer to the question, but the question itself should at least prompt us to seek an answer.

Our Sense of Justice

In An Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent, Newman also offered a third line of thought, a highly developed argument based on the personal conscience (see Newman’s Final Argument). It is a universal experience, Newman rightly states, that we instinctively apprehend a difference between right and wrong; we also apprehend that we are under an obligation to do what is right, and we sense strongly that we will be subject to some sort of judgment on this score. Very few indeed are those who have never entertained such thoughts, or who manage to keep them at bay so continually as to forget them altogether.

At the same time, we cannot escape the observation that what is right is very frequently ignored, and that justice in this world is so imperfect as often to be laughable. Too often justice is a standard to which men are more likely to hold others than themselves, yet it remains a standard all the same, and people very typically look forward to a harmonious day when perfect justice will be achieved. Some, it is true, have sought this perfect justice through utopian schemes, and have ended by attempting (unjustly!) to effect it by force. But many, many more have thought it likely that the imbalances of this life would be redressed in another life. If we find ourselves with an outraged sense of justice then, and if nature really does abhor a vacuum, we must be made for a time and place when justice will be done.

Now a sense of right and wrong presumes some sort of law, which in turn presumes a lawgiver; and a judgment rather obviously demands a judge. This realization actually suggests two parallel lines of thought. First, it reinforces the idea that there must exist a God who somehow represents the Good and cares enough to punish those who violate it. Second, it leads us to a near-certainty that such a Judge would certainly wish to reveal Himself so that we should know clearly what He approves and what He abhors. In other words, the argument from conscience points directly at Revelation. It leads us naturally to inquire whether such a revelation has, in fact, been made.

The Christ

Though destined for universal acceptance, Christ entered the world at a particular time in history; His person, His preaching, and His works impress themselves upon the minds of men now at one time and now at another. It cannot be said that every human person, in his lifetime here on earth, will have heard about Jesus Christ. For many, indeed, He would be the end of a sincere search for revelation, if they could but know Him. But not all have known Him; not all, through ordinary human means at least, can know Him.

Nonetheless, a great many have now heard of Him, or have the opportunity of hearing of Him if they are in fact sincerely searching for God and His Revelation—as their consciences and personal reflections naturally lead them to do. For it is again a universal experience of the human mind (unless a man is in proud rebellion or has been carefully taught to the contrary) that one would expect to find a revelation from God precisely in that realm of activity which deals with God most directly, namely religion. And so one who has not already found this revelation ought to be spending some reasonable amount of time and energy in examing the different religions on offer throughout the world.

Now in thus canvassing the various religions, great and small, which vie for our allegiance, it becomes evident that very few claim to be based on a divine revelation, as opposed to the mere insights of their founders. And of those which claim a divine revelation, even fewer (exactly two, Judaism and Christianity) claim to be based on a revelation which was objectively validated by wonders that God alone could perform. Of these two, one claims to be the fulfillment of the other, and its founder is said to have risen from the dead—a claim as arresting as it is unique, and a claim also supported by a considerable historical testimony. My point is simply this: Someone who sincerely seeks answers, and who has heard the claims made on behalf of Jesus Christ, truly owes it to himself to take a closer look.

The Big Picture

The larger issue here is that too often atheists and agnostics dismiss believers by arguing that the claims of religion cannot be proven absolutely, such that on rational grounds doubt becomes impossible. That is true, but it puts the shoe on the wrong foot, as if the unbeliever has no call to look into the matter unless someone first convinces him of a particular religious position. To the contrary, any person who reflects on himself, on the world around him, on the moral order, and even on what he has heard of the claims of Christianity ought to be very serious about exploring and answering the God question. He certainly ought not to seek to ignore it, to isolate himself from its influence, or to heap scorn on those who do not give up so easily. Inquiring minds—which are the very best minds and the only responsible minds—really do want to know.

END OF POST

The Virgin Mary came from heaven to remind us of Gospel truths

From “Ireland’s Biggest FREE Newspaper” ALIVE!

Again and again on his recent trip to Portugal Pope Benedict tried to waken up Catholics to God’s call to them to proclaim Christian hope in today’s secularist world. And to not be afraid of criticism or ridicule.

“The faith,” he said, “needs to come alive in each one of us. A vast effort at every level is required if every Christian is to be transformed into a witness capable of giving an account to all of the hope that inspires him.”

Benedict remarked that “the Virgin Mary came from heaven to remind us of Gospel truths that are the source of hope for a humanity so lacking in love and without hope for salvation.”

And he described Fatima as being “like a window of hope that God opens when man closes the door to him.”

Speaking to artists Benedict explained that the Church’s “key mission in today’s culture is to keep alive the search for truth, and thus for God; to bring people to look beyond penultimate realities and to seek those that are ultimate.”

It is sometimes assumed that Benedict accepts the idea of a smaller Church with a strong identity. “But he made it clear in Portugal that ‘pruning back’ is not his strategic goal,” said one reporter.

Rather, the Holy Father encouraged young people to bear witness to all their contemporaries to the joy that Christ’s strong, gentle presence evokes.

“Tell them that it is beautiful to be a friend of Jesus and that it is well worth following him,” he said.

“Show, with your enthusiasm, that, among all the different ways of life which the world offers us, the only way in which we find the true meaning of life and hence true and lasting joy, is by following Jesus.”

The Pope noted that the Church “has some quarrelsome and even rebellious sons and daughters,” but it is in the saints that she recognises “her most characteristic features, it is in them that she tastes her deepest joy.”

Benedict was in Portugal for the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the two youngest visionaries, Francesco Marto (aged 10 when he died in 1919) and his sister Jacinta (aged 9 when she died in 1920).

He was concerned that individuals and agencies could go on thinking they were Catholic when, in fact they had lost the faith and their very identity.

Catholic agencies need to make sure they protect their Catholic identity and keep “a proper synthesis of spiritual life and apostolic activity,” said the Pope.

“Pressure from today’s culture, which constantly holds up a lifestyle based on the law of the stronger, on easy and attractive gain, ends up influencing our ways of thinking, our projects and the goals of our service,” he cautioned.

It also “risks emptying them of the motivation of faith and Christian hope which had originally inspired them,” he told a gathering of Catholic helpers and volunteers.

Benedict has spoken a number of times about the danger of groups losing their Catholic identity, as happened with several groups in Ireland.

The Holy Father is expected to announce shortly that he is creating a special ‘Council for New Evangelisation’ aimed at promoting a stronger missionary outreach in once Christian countries.

Hat Tip/ALIVE!

END OF POST

It’s the Pope’s turn to retaliate in Catholic civil war by Gerald Warner

Well, here’s a tasty piece from friends across the pond in Scotland…

It’s the Pope’s turn to retaliate in Catholic civil war

by Gerald Warner

Scotland on Sunday

HT/PM – CATHOLIC TRUTH SCOTLAND

‘NEVER let a good crisis go to waste” was the political maxim formulated by Hillary Clinton. It has been adopted by the fading trendies in the Catholic Church who still carry the burnt-out torch of the Second Vatican Catastrophe, in their Intifada against Pope Benedict XVI.

The sex abuse scandal in the Church – the product of the post-Conciliar nihilists’ own iconoclastic destruction of traditional Catholic morals and spirituality – has audaciously been conscripted to serve their desperate agenda to overthrow the Pope, secure a “progressive” successor and eventually replace the Papacy with some kind of lay soviet (well, that is what happens to your brain if you inhaled substances other than incense, back in the 1960s).

Such an inversion of the truth is not without precedent: the Venerable Pius XII saved 860,000 Jews from the Nazis; but today, thanks to defamation by a German playwright, propagated by “liberal” Catholics, the one individual who did more than anyone on earth to help the Jews is demonised and bracketed with Heinrich Himmler. Now, the Spirit-of-Vatican II groupies are going after Benedict XVI on the child abuse ticket.

“Radical” Catholics are attacking the Vatican, like the chav mobs that sporadically besiege the houses of paediatricians. Our television screens are filled with geriatric ex-Jesuits, feminist nuns, “progressive” theologians and every variety of Lollards and Fifth Monarchy Men. Even their 1960s poster-boy Hans Küng (yes, he is still alive) has emerged from obscurity to throw his pebble at Benedict.

Who was to blame for child sex abuse but precisely the generation of Vatican II revolutionaries who are now wringing their gnarled hands in hypocritical outrage? As the official Irish government report into abuse in the archdiocese of Dublin proves, this orgy of evil was overwhelmingly perpetrated in the post-Vatican II era. During the 1970s and 1980s, when it was at its height, there was only one mortal sin in the Catholic Church: attempting to celebrate or attend the Latin Tridentine Mass.

Contrast the vicious persecution of traditionalist priests and laity with the extravagant indulgence extended to serial child abusers. Today, their chickens have come home to roost. These were the children of Paul VI, of aggiornamento, of the great Renewal: now they must be made to take ownership of their own scandal. It is they who are in denial, not the Pope.

They are being supported by the media, whose agenda is to pressurize the Catholic Church into moral relativism, to withdraw its condemnation of abortion, contraception, divorce, homosexuality, embryo experimentation, ordination of priestesses and every other precept that conflicts with the secularist New World Order.

That will not happen. The fatuity of much of the attack is blatant. Evidently priests abused altar boys because of clerical celibacy. There is no compulsory celibacy in the Church of England, yet vicars and boy scouts have been mainstays of the Sunday tabloids for a century. The Dublin report recorded a ratio of 2.3 boy victims to one girl: the last thing these men wanted was a wife.

The much-hyped Wisconsin scandal, used to traduce Benedict XVI, is another example of forcing the wrong pieces into the jigsaw to fabricate the required picture. The local police investigated Father Murphy in 1974 and refused to believe his accusers. More than 20 years later, when Murphy was dying, his case was referred to the then Cardinal Ratzinger. In 1998 he declined to unfrock the now repentant offender who died four months later.

The Milwaukee district attorney had refused to prosecute Murphy because the statute of limitations had run out; the Vatican faced the same canonical problem. Why are the Milwaukee authorities not blamed instead of the Vatican? Why was Cardinal Ratzinger expected to unravel a case that had baffled the local police 24 years earlier?

Unfrocking would not have deprived Murphy of his priesthood – that is irremovable. It would only have prevented him functioning as a priest, which he was no longer capable of doing.

It is time for the Pope to retaliate. He should adopt the liberals’ strategy of not wasting a crisis. The media are howling for the heads of bishops. Very well: give them dozens, even hundreds. This is an opportunity to get rid of every mitred 1960s flower-child obstructing the return of the Tridentine Mass, liturgical reverence and doctrinal orthodoxy. The episcopal gerontocracy, along with the flared-trousered seminary rectors promoting the ordination of social worker priests and blocking genuine vocations, is ripe for a cull. The abuse scandal is only a part of the larger crisis that has engulfed the Church since the Second Vatican Catastrophe – it really is too good to waste.

R.I.P. Ron Provost

Love’s the greatest healer to be found…

To The Family and Friends of Ron Provost:

This past Sunday I offered my heart in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass for the soul of my friend of many years, Ronald Provost.

I will again this Sunday.

Since hearing of Ron’s death earlier this week I’ve found myself, even now, conflicted over his passing. If truth be told, my friendship with Ron occurred during a time when dissipation of life ruled both our days and our nights. Alcohol, drugs, false philosophies and lying political movements, all of which, could never set us free. No, underlying this dissipating cloud was our shared need–and at times–desperate search for, love and truth. Yes, this is what Ron and I shared in common during our time together on earth, the search for love and truth–the meaning of life.

For many years this search of ours always ended in terrible defeat. On too many occasions we found ourselves in the position of men full of sorrows and woe. Yet, thankfully, it was at those very times–when one or the other of us was most in need–that we were there for the other, even though neither of us possessed the cure to what ailed us. ..If it’s true that the human mind can only take so much, and it is, it’s true because of the absence of authentic love and truth within these frail human hearts of ours—something only God can provide in full, and does. It is just as St. Augustine states, “O’Lord our hearts are always restless until they rest in you.”

With his passing, my friend has flown on ahead of us all and met up with the heart of God’s love and truth in fullness—Jesus Christ. Little did we in our day discuss together this merciful God of Love who for our sake became the man of all sorrows for his creatures; and thus the only way, truth, and life capable of leading these thirsty souls of ours up and into the needed love, peace, joy, and rest that is the eternal beatific vision of God the Father in Heaven…

Ron knows well today the meaning of life: to come to know, love, and serve God in this life and be with him forever in the next… On this, I’m not conflicted. And so, may his soul ever increase in such blessedness as a true child of the Light. This is the prayer of my heart I’ll be offering up along with the Virgin Mother of God, all the angels and saints, and you my brothers and sisters this coming Sunday…

Rest in peace Ron Provost.

I send herein the love of our family and continued prayers on behalf of the entire Provost family, relatives, and friends.

A closing song for my friend I think he’d enjoy; followed by the Sacred Scripture readings of the day, on this his memorial…

 

Reading I

Dn 3:14-20, 91-92, 95

King Nebuchadnezzar said:

“Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

that you will not serve my god,

or worship the golden statue that I set up?

Be ready now to fall down and worship the statue I had made,

whenever you hear the sound of the trumpet,

flute, lyre, harp, psaltery, bagpipe,

and all the other musical instruments;

otherwise, you shall be instantly cast into the white-hot furnace;

and who is the God who can deliver you out of my hands?”

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar,

“There is no need for us to defend ourselves before you

in this matter.

If our God, whom we serve,

can save us from the white-hot furnace

and from your hands, O king, may he save us!

But even if he will not, know, O king,

that we will not serve your god

or worship the golden statue that you set up.”

King Nebuchadnezzar’s face became livid with utter rage

against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.

He ordered the furnace to be heated seven times more than usual

and had some of the strongest men in his army

bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego

and cast them into the white-hot furnace.

Nebuchadnezzar rose in haste and asked his nobles,

“Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?”

“Assuredly, O king,” they answered.

“But,” he replied, “I see four men unfettered and unhurt,

walking in the fire, and the fourth looks like a son of God.”

Nebuchadnezzar exclaimed,

“Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,

who sent his angel to deliver the servants who trusted in him;

they disobeyed the royal command and yielded their bodies

rather than serve or worship any god

except their own God.”

Responsorial Psalm

Daniel 3:52, 53, 54, 55, 56

R. (52b) Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever;

And blessed is your holy and glorious name,

praiseworthy and exalted above all for all ages.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you in the temple of your holy glory,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you on the throne of your kingdom,

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you who look into the depths

from your throne upon the cherubim;

praiseworthy and exalted above all forever.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

“Blessed are you in the firmament of heaven,

praiseworthy and glorious forever.”

R. Glory and praise for ever!

Gospel

Jn 8:31-42

Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him,

“If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,

and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are descendants of Abraham

and have never been enslaved to anyone.

How can you say, ‘You will become free’?”

Jesus answered them, “Amen, amen, I say to you,

everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.

A slave does not remain in a household forever,

but a son always remains.

So if the Son frees you, then you will truly be free.

I know that you are descendants of Abraham.

But you are trying to kill me,

because my word has no room among you.

I tell you what I have seen in the Father’s presence;

then do what you have heard from the Father.”

They answered and said to him, “Our father is Abraham.”

Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children,

you would be doing the works of Abraham.

But now you are trying to kill me,

a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God;

Abraham did not do this.

You are doing the works of your father!”

So they said to him, “We were not born of fornication.

We have one Father, God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me,

for I came from God and am here;

I did not come on my own, but he sent me.”

END OF POST

A Spring of Grace in the Desert: Novena To Merciful Love

FIRST DAY

Introductory Prayer
My Jesus, I am deeply sorry when I consider the many times I have offended you.
However, with a Father’s heart you have not only forgiven me but with the words “Ask, and you shall receive” you invite me to seek from you whatever I need.
With complete confidence I appeal to your Merciful Love to give me what I request in this novena. Above all, I ask for the grace to change my behaviour, from now on to prove my faith by me deeds, to live according to your precepts and to be aflame with the fire of your charity,

Meditation “Our Father”
“Our”: while God has only one natural Son, in his infinite charity he wishes to have many adopted children with whom he shares his riches; and by having the same Father we are all brothers and sisters, and so should love each other.
“Father”: is the title which is fitting for God, because we owe him whatever we have in the order of nature and in the supernatural order of grace. This makes us his adopted children. He wants us to call him Father, so that we may love, obey and honour him as children, and to revive in us the love and confidence to obtain what we ask.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, be to me a Father, protector and guide in my pilgrimage, so that nothing may distract or mislead me on the road which leads to you. And you, my Mother, who looked after Jesus with such gentleness and care, educate and help me to fulfil my duty, and lead me along the paths of the commandments. Say to Jesus: “Receive this child; I recommend him/her to you with all the insistence of my maternal heart”.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

SECOND DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Who art in heaven”

While God is everywhere as Lord of heaven and earth, we say “who art in heaven” because the though of heaven moves us to love him with more veneration and to aspire to the things of heaven while living as pilgrims in this life.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, I know that you raise the fallen, free those in prison, reject nobody who is afflicted and look with love on all who are in need. Therefore, I beg you to listen to me, because I need to talk to you about the salvation of my soul and to receive your salutary advice.
My sins frighten me, my Jesus; I am ashamed of my ingratitude and distrust. I am greatly worried because instead of using the time you gave me to do good, I spent it badly, even by offending you.
I turn to you, Lord. You have the words of eternal life.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

THIRD DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Hallowed by thy Name”

This is the first thing that we should desire; the first thing that we should seek in prayer, the intention that should inspire all our works and actions: that God be known, loved served and adored, and that every creature should submit to his power.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, open to me the doors of your mercy; imprint on me the seal of your wisdom. Ensure that I am free from every unlawful affection and that I serve you with love, joy and sincerity.
Comforted by your divine word and commandments, may I always grow in virtue.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

FOURTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Thy kingdom come”

In this petition we ask that the kingdom of his grace and heavenly favours would come in us, that is the kingdom of the just, and the kingdom of glory where he rules in perfect communion with the blessed.
Therefore we also ask for an end to kingdom of sin, of the devil and of darkness.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
Lord, have mercy on me and mould me in the likeness of your heart.
My God, have mercy on me and free me from all that prevents me from reaching you.
Ensure that at the hour of death I shall not hear a dreadful sentence but your salutary words: ” Come, you blessed of my Father”, and my soul shall rejoice to see your face.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

FIFTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven”

Here we ask that God’s will be done by all creatures with fortitude and perseverance, purity and perfection. We ask that we ourselves may achieve this by whatever means and in whatever way we come to know it.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, give me a lively faith; make me observe faithfully your divine commandments and to travel the way of your precepts with a heart full of your love and charity.
Let me taste the sweetness of your spirit, and have a hunger for the fulfilment of your divine will, so that my poor service may be acceptable and pleasing to you.
My Jesus, may the omnipotence of the Father bless me. May your wisdom bless me. May the most kind Charity of the Holy Spirit bless me and protect me for eternal life.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

SIXTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Give us this day our daily bread”

Here we ask for the Bread which is the Blessed Sacrament; and also the ordinary nourishment of our soul which is grace, the Sacraments and heavenly inspirations.
We also ask that the nourishment necessary for our bodies be given to us in moderation.
We call the Eucharistic Bread “ours” since it was instituted because of our need and because our Redeemer gives himself to us in Communion.
We say “daily” to express our ordinary dependence on God for everything, body and soul, every hour and every moment.
In saying “give us this day” we make an act of charity, asking on behalf of everyone, without worrying about the future .

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, you are the Fountain of Life. Let me drink the living water which flows from you, so that, having tasted you, I may thirst only for you. Immerse me completely in the abyss of your love and mercy, and renew me with your Precious Blood with which you have redeemed me.
With water from your sacred site wash away all the stains with I have soiled the beautiful robe of innocence which you gave me in Baptism.
My Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me pure in body and soul.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

SEVENTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.

We ask God to forgive our debts, that is, our sins and the punishment deserved because of them; an enormous penalty which we could never pay except through the Blood of Jesus, through the talents of grace and nature which we received from God, and with everything we are and have.
In this petition we undertake to forgive others their debts to us, without taking revenge on them, but rather forgetting the injuries and offences which they have caused us.
Thus God places in our hands the judgement he will give us, if we pardon, he will pardon us; if we do not pardon, he will not pardon us.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, I know that you call everyone without exception. You dwell in the humble, you love the person who loves you, you champion the cause of the poor, you show mercy to all and despise nothing your power has created. You conceal people’s defects, await their repentance, and receive the sinner with love and mercy. Lord, open also to me the spring of life; pardon me and wipe away everything in me which is contrary to your divine love.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

EIGHTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“Lead us not into temptation”

In asking the Lord not to let us fall into temptation, we know that he permits temptation for our good, our weakness to overcome it, divine fortitude for our victory. We know that the Lord does not refuse his grace to the person who does what is necessary to overcome our powerful enemies.
When we ask him not to let us fall into temptation, we ask not to contract more debts than those we have already incurred.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, be the comfort and protection of my soul; be my defence against every temptation and cover me with the shield of your truth. Be my compassion and my hope, my defence and my refuge against all dangers to soul and body.
Lead me in the vast ocean of this world, and deign to console me in this trial.
May the abyss of your love and mercy be a safe haven for me. Thus I can be free from the snares of the devil.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

NINTH DAY

Introductory Prayer and Request as on the First Day.

Meditation
“but deliver us from evil. Amen”

We ask God to deliver us from all evil, that is, from evils of the soul and of the body, from eternal and temporal evils; from evils past, present and future, from sins, vices, disordered passions, evil inclinations and the spirit of anger and pride.
By saying “Amen” we ask with intensity, love and confidence, because God wishes and commands us to ask in this way.

Request
My Jesus, I turn to you in this difficulty. Should you wish to show compassion to this wretched creature of yours, may your kindness triumph. Though your love and mercy pardon my sins. Though I am unworthy to obtain my request please grant it to me if it be for your glory and the good of my soul.

( Here ask the favour you desire to obtain through this novena).

Prayer
My Jesus, wash me with the Blood from your divine side, and let me return without stain to the life of your grace.
Lord, sustain my weak spirit and console my worried heart. Tell me that, because of your mercy, you will not cease to love me for a single moment, and that you will always be with me.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory be to the Father.

Pope Benedict XVI: The Memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lourdes: Message for World Day of the Sick

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

grotte_1024x768.jpg1. On 11 February, the memorial of the Blessed Mary Virgin of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick will be celebrated, a propitious occasion to reflect on the meaning of pain and the Christian duty to take responsibility for it in whatever situation it arises. This year this significant day is connected to two important events for the life of the Church, as one already understands from the theme chosen ‘The Eucharist, Lourdes and Pastoral Care for the Sick’: the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of the Immaculate Mary at Lourdes, and the celebration of the International Eucharistic Congress at Quebec in Canada. In this way, a remarkable opportunity to consider the close connection that exists between the Mystery of the Eucharist, the role of Mary in the project of salvation, and the reality of human pain and suffering, is offered to us.

The hundred and fifty years since the apparitions of Lourdes invite us to turn our gazeprocession_1024x768.jpg towards the Holy Virgin, whose Immaculate Conception constitutes the sublime and freely-given gift of God to a woman so that she could fully adhere to divine designs with a steady and unshakable faith, despite the tribulations and the sufferings that she would have to face. For this reason, Mary is a model of total self-abandonment to the will of God: she received in her heart the eternal Word and she conceived it in her virginal womb; she trusted to God and, with her soul pierced by a sword (cf. Lk 2:35), she did not hesitate to share the passion of her Son, renewing on Calvary at the foot of the Cross her ‘Yes’ of the Annunciation. To reflect upon the Immaculate Conception of Mary is thus to allow oneself to be attracted by the ‘Yes’ which joined her wonderfully to the mission of Christ, the redeemer of humanity; it is to allow oneself to be taken and led by her hand to pronounce in one’s turn ‘fiat’ to the will of God, with all one’s existence interwoven with joys and sadness, hopes and disappointments, in the awareness that tribulations, pain and suffering make rich the meaning of our pilgrimage on the earth.

2. One cannot contemplate Mary without being attracted by Christ and one cannot look at Christ without immediately perceiving the presence of Mary. There is an indissoluble link between the Mother and the Son, generated in her womb by work of the Holy Spirit, and this link we perceive, in a mysterious way, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, as the Fathers of the Church and theologians pointed out from the early centuries onwards. ‘The flesh born of Mary, coming from the Holy Spirit, is bread descended from heaven’, observed St. Hilary of Poitiers. In the Bergomensium Sacramentary of the ninth century we read: ‘Her womb made flower a fruit, a bread that has filled us with an angelic gift. Mary restored to salvation what Eve had destroyed by her sin’. And St. Pier Damiani observed: ‘That body that the most blessed Virgin generated, nourished in her womb with maternal care, that body I say, without doubt and no other, we now receive from the sacred altar, and we drink its blood as a sacrament of our redemption.320px-mass_at_lourdes.jpg This is what the Catholic faith believes, this the holy Church faithfully teaches’. The link of the Holy Virgin with the Son, the sacrificed Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, is extended to the Church, the mystic Body of Christ. Mary, observes the Servant of God John Paul II, is a ‘woman of the Eucharist’ in her whole life, as a result of which the Church, seeing Mary as her model, ‘is also called to imitate her in her relationship with this most holy mystery’ (Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, n. 53). In this perspective one understands even further why in Lourdes the cult of the Blessed Virgin Mary is joined to a strong and constant reference to the Eucharist with daily Celebrations of the Eucharist, with adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament, and with the blessing of the sick, which constitutes one of the strongest moments of the visit of pilgrims to the grotto of Massabielles.

The presence of many sick pilgrims in Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members, who bear the signs of the passion of the Lord. Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that ‘the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed’? (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Salvifici doloris, n. 26).

rosaire_1024x768.jpg3. If Lourdes leads us to reflect upon the maternal love of the Immaculate Virgin for her sick and suffering children, the next International Eucharistic Congress will be an opportunity to worship Jesus Christ present in the Sacrament of the altar, to entrust ourselves to him as Hope that does not disappoint, to receive him as that medicine of immortality which heals the body and the spirit. Jesus Christ redeemed the world through his suffering, his death and his resurrection, and he wanted to remain with us as the ‘bread of life’ on our earthly pilgrimage. ‘The Eucharist, Gift of God for the Life of the World’: this is the theme of the Eucharistic Congress and it emphasises how the Eucharist is the gift that the Father makes to the world of His only Son, incarnated and crucified. It is he who gathers us around the Eucharistic table, provoking in his disciples loving care for the suffering and the sick, in whom the Christian community recognises the face of its Lord. As I pointed out in the Post-Synodal Exhortation Sacramentum caritatis, ‘Our communities, when they celebrate the Eucharist, must become ever more conscious that the sacrifice of Christ is for all, and that the Eucharist thus compels all who believe in him to become “bread that is broken” for others’ (n. 88). We are thus encouraged to commit ourselves in the first person to helping our brethren, especially those in difficulty, because the vocation of every Christian is truly that of being, together with Jesus, bread that is broken for the life of the world.

4. It thus appears clear that it is specifically from the Eucharist that pastoral care in health 18.jpgmust draw the necessary spiritual strength to come effectively to man’s aid and to help him to understand the salvific value of his own suffering. As the Servant of God John Paul II was to write in the already quoted Apostolic Letter Salvifici doloris, the Church sees in her suffering brothers and sisters as it were a multiple subject of the supernatural power of Christ (cf. n. 27). Mysteriously united to Christ, the man who suffers with love and meek self-abandonment to the will of God becomes a living offering for the salvation of the world. My beloved Predecessor also stated that ‘The more a person is threatened by sin, the heavier the structures of sin which today’s world brings with it, the greater is the eloquence which human suffering possesses in itself. And the more the Church feels the need to have recourse to the value of human sufferings for the salvation of the world’ (ibidem). If, therefore, at Quebec the mystery of the Eucharist, the gift of God for the life of the world, is contemplated during the World Day of the Sick in an ideal spiritual parallelism, not only will the actual participation of human suffering in the salvific work of God be celebrated, but the valuable fruits promised to those who believe can in a certain sense be enjoyed. Thus pain, received with faith, becomes the door by which to enter the mystery of the redemptive suffering of Jesus and to reach with him the peace and the happiness of his Resurrection.

5. While I extend my cordial greetings to all sick people and to all those who take care of them in various ways, I invite the diocesan and parish communities to celebrate the next World Day of the Sick by appreciating to the full the happy coinciding of the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Lourdes with the International Eucharistic Congress. May it be an occasion to emphasise the importance of the Holy Mass, of the Adoration of the Eucharist and of the cult of the Eucharist, so that chapels in our health-care centres become a beating heart in which Jesus offers himself unceasingly to the Father for the life of humanity! The distribution of the Eucharist to the sick as well, done with decorum and in a spirit of prayer, is true comfort for those who suffer, afflicted by all forms of infirmity.

May the next World Day of the Sick be, in addition, a propitious circumstance to invoke in a special way the maternal protection of Mary over those who are weighed down by illness; health-care workers; and workers in pastoral care in health! I think in particular of priests involved in this field, women and men religious, volunteers and all those who with active dedication are concerned to serve, in body and soul, the sick and those in need. I entrust all to Mary, the Mother of God and our Mother, the Immaculate Conception. May she help everyone in testifying that the only valid response to human pain and suffering is Christ, who in resurrecting defeated death and gave us the life that knows no end. With these feelings, from my heart I impart to everyone my special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 11 January 2008

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

Pope Benedict XVI on St. Augustine: Wednesday Audience 01.16.08

Wednesday Audience: St. Augustine Encourages Our Trust in an Ever-living Christ

VATICAN CITY, 16 JAN 2008 (VIS) – Continuing the catechesis he began last week on the subject of St. Augustine, in today’s general audience, held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope considered the final years in the life of that Doctor of the Church. The Holy Father highlighted how, four years before his death, St. Augustine had appointed a successor, Heraclius, as bishop of Hippo, because he “wished to dedicate the years that remained to him to a more profound study of Holy Scripture”.“What followed were four years of extraordinary intellectual activity” during which time the saint also “intervened to promote peace in the African provinces which were being assailed by barbarian tribes from the south”, said the Pope. He then quoted St. Augustine’s own words – “it is a higher glory to stay war itself with a word, than to slay men with the sword, and to procure or maintain peace by peace, not by war” – and highlighted how the siege of Hippo by the Vandals in 429 brought great suffering to the saint.

010594386700.gif“Though he was old and tired, Augustine remained at the breach, comforting himself and others with prayer and meditation on the mysterious designs of Providence. … If, indeed, the world grows old, Christ is ever young, and so I invite you: ‘Do not refuse to be rejuvenated with Christ, Who tells you not to fear as ‘your youth will be renewed like that of the eagle’,” said Pope Benedict quoting from the sermons of Augustine. “Hence Christians must not be dejected but make every effort to help those in need”, he added.

After recalling how “Augustine’s house-monastery used to open its doors to welcome his colleagues in the episcopate who came asking for hospitality”, the Holy Father noted that the Doctor of the Church, finally free of commitments, took advantage of his time “to dedicate himself with greater intensity to prayer. He used to say that no-one, bishop, religious or lay person, however irreproachable their behaviour, could face death without adequate penance, and it was for this reason that he continually and tearfully repeated the penitential psalms which he had so often recited with his people”.

The bishop of Hippo died on 28 August 430, said the Pope, “at some uncertain date his body was transferred to Sardinia and thence, around 725, to the basilica of San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro in Pavia, where it rests today”.

“We discover him ‘living’ in his writings”, said Pope Benedict. “When I read the works of St. Augustine, I do not get the impression that here is a man who died more or less 1600 years ago, rather that he is man of today, a friend, a contemporary who speaks to me, to us, with his fresh and topical faith”.

In the saint’s works, “we see the permanent relevance of his faith, of the faith that comes from Christ, the eternal Word incarnate, Son of God and Son of man. And we see”, the Holy Father concluded, “that this is not yesterday’s faith, even though it was preached yesterday, it is today’s because Christ really is – yesterday, today and forever – the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thus St. Augustine encourages us to entrust ourselves to this ever-living Christ and so find the path of life”.