On the Fourth Sunday in Lent, March 22, 2020, the people of St. Anthony of Padua parish held a special day of Eucharistic adoration in a time of containment.
It is important that we, as Catholics, cooperate willingly and gladly with the authorities, as an act of love, to help slow and stop the spread of the new COVID-19 virus. Therefore, all public liturgies and gatherings in our diocese have been suspended since March 18.
So we did something else.
The doors of St. Anthony's have been open every day from 9 o'clock to 9 o'clock. People can come and pray quietly, and pay a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, and maybe light a candle. The church is big enough that even if there are ten people at a time, we can still be 20 or 30 yards apart.
Last Sunday, we set the monstrance on the altar with the Blessed Sacrament for all 12 hours. There was always somebody in the church. Sometimes there were a several people - we kept our bodily distance from each other even as we grew closer to the Lord.
In the course of the day, about 75 people spent any-where from a few minutes to a few hours in prayer. It was truly beautiful.
We "behaved ourselves" - that is, there was a great deal of respect both for the sacredness of the Eucharist and the gravity of our pubic health. Therefore -
all else equal, we will repeat this Day of Adoration on Sunday, April 19 (the Second Sunday of Easter).
Friar Bob Showers OFM Conv.
A Collect for Clubwomen:
General Federation of Women’s Clubs
Keep us, O God, from all pettiness.
Let us be large in thought, in word, in deed.
Let us be done with fault-finding
and leave off all self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense
and meet each other face to face,
without self pity and without prejudice.
May we never be hasty in judgement,
and always be generous.
Let us always take time for all things
and make us grow calm, serene and gentle.
Teach us to put into action our better impulses,
to be straightforward and unafraid.
Grant that we may realize that
it is the little things of life that create differences,
that in the big things of life, we are as one.
And, O Lord God, let us not forget to be kind!
On the last day of February, 2019, between 50 and 60 people gathered at St. Anthony of Padua Church in Angola, Indiana to intercede for those persecuted because of religion. The local Knights of Columbus led the parish in an evening devotion that had been prepared by the national K of C. The service featured a "travelling icon" of Our Lady, the Help of Persecuted Christians. We prayed for those persecuted BECAUSE they are Christians, and for those persecuted BY Christians.
"In every age, Christians have suffered for their faith, from the Roman Coliseum to the recent beheadings perpetrated by ISIS. Brave women and men, embracing the cross of Jesus, have gone to their deaths rather than deny their faith, and the blood of these martyrs serves as the 'seed of Christians', enlivening faith in others. Today, the witness of martyrs continues in an especially intense way in the Middle East, where priests are murdered for offering Mass and families are driven from their homes for displaying a cross.
"With this Marian Prayer Program, we honor the martyrs over the centuries as we call particular attention to the suffering of today's Christians ... Featuring the newly commissioned icon of Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians, the prayer program is the latest in a series of efforts undertaken by the Knights of Columbus to aid those who suffer for their faith. ..."
- from the introduction to the the prayer booklet used that evening
Fr. Bernie Zajdel OFM Conv. presented the following message from Pope John Paul II, his "Message for World Mission Sunday, May 28, 1996."
The identity of the Christian as witness is marked by the unavoidable and distinctive presence of the cross. There can be no authentic witness without it. Indeed, the cross is the necessary condition for all who have firmly decided to follow the Lord. "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23) All the witnesses of God and Christ, beginning with the Apostles, have known persecution because of him. "If they persecuted me, they will persecute you." (John 15:20) This is the legacy which Jesus left to his followers and which each one must accept and incarnate in his own life. Golgotha is the only way to the Resurrection.
The cross, in fact, is the imitation of Christ in faithful witness and patient and persevering daily work. The cross is swimming against the tide, making decisions according to God's commandments despite misunderstanding, unpopularity, marginalization; the cross is the prophetic denunciation of injustice, of trampled freedoms, of violated rights; the cross is having to live where the Church is most opposed, obstructed and persecuted.
The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network - also known as the Apostolate of Prayer - has added a new app to the Vatican's growing line-up of phone and tablet apps, available both for Apple and for Android decives.
CLICKTOPRAY is a well done prayer app. (Apple / Android) You must first register - this step helps prevent a lot of abuse, and you can imagine that many people will try to abuse this. The user agreement (yes, I read those!) makes clear that this app is owned by the website of the Apostolate of Prayer, which in turn is under the authority of the Pope. You must agree to act "in accordance with the principles of good faith, accepted moral standards and public order".
The app has 5 buttons on the bottom row.
CAMPAIGNS promotes different prayer campaigns at irregular intervals - right now everyone is being asked to pray a rosary for World Youth Day.
PRAY WITH THE POPE is the main button. Here you are given the Pope's monthly intentions, as promoted by the Apostolate of Prayer. This includes "the Pope video", which is my favorite part. Each month, Pope Francis makes a one-minute video asking for prayer.
So far all of this has been available on the Apostolate of Prayer website for several years now (although the app seems easier to use than the graphics heavy website). The next button is a great new addition: PRAY WITH THE NETWORK. This is where you can add your own personal intention. Then the Pope and millions of people all over the world will pray for you. What a wonderful ability! This shows the potential power for good of modern electronics.
The fifth button is called DONATE. All these marvelous electronic capabilities cost money, so you are asked for support. The app's online giving system seems secure and reliable.
Vatican App - offical Church documents available online (a portal for www.vatican.va)
The Pope App - papal texts and live-streams of papal events
Vatican News - from the Vatican News Service, with text, pictures, video and audio
Vatican Audio - just replays of stuff from Vatican Radio (a very buggy app still in beta)
What are some of your favorite Catholic apps? Mention them in the Comments, or send a text to firstname.lastname@example.org. Peace!
This blog is brought to you by friar Bob the St. Anthony/St. Paul's Apostolate of Prayer. To become part of our prayer network, please drop a line to Patti Webster at email@example.com
Each year at Advent, the church offers us the opportunity to listen to the prophets of the Old Testament whose promise of a Messiah filled the people with hope at times of hopelessness. The Old Testament promise was fulfilled at the first coming of Christ into our world whose birth we are preparing to celebrate at Christmas.
Advent also invites us to make ready for His second coming, and to make room in our hearts for His arrival here and now--the Third Coming of Christ. It is with deep trust in God’s unconditional love for us that we acknowledge our failings in the presence of each other and seek his forgiveness.
John the Baptist is the great prophet of the New Testament who calls us to ready our hearts. John is the Prophet of Joy and the Forerunner of the Messiah.
God of mercy and compassion, as we come together to prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ, may the truth of His word bring love and hope to the darkness in our lives. Help us to bring down the hills and fill up the valleys, to straighten the crooked and to smooth out the rough until a highway runs right to our hearts, where Christ will make His home, for He lives and reigns, forever and ever. Amen.
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.
The Word of God comes to us in the concrete realities of life — even as we go about our daily work, as we raise our families and build our societies, and sometimes when we find ourselves in the wilderness. Hearing the Word of God requires that we listen. So I ask myself:
- Do I pray every day?
- Do I go to Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation?
- Are there things in my life that get in the way of God’s word for me?
John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
God has given us the holy sacraments as vehicles of His grace — we hear the Word of God in the celebration of the sacraments.
- How long has it been since my last confession?
- Do I prepare myself to receive communion?
- Do I ever think about or let myself be inspired by the promises of my baptism and confirmation?
- Do I keep the vows of my marriage or ordination?
- Do I visit the sick?
John said to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce good fruits as evidence of your repentance; and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.”
- God has given me the gift of faith. Do I take it for granted?
- Do I look down on people of other religions, or on those who have no religion?
- Do I think I’m better than anyone else?
And the crowds asked him, “What then should we do?”
Sometimes I need God’s guidance. Do I ask for it? Do I listen?
John said to them in reply, “Whoever has two tunics should share with the person who has none. And whoever has food should do likewise.”
- Do I have a tendency to hoard and possess what is not necessary and still yearn to have more?
- What brings me contentment and security?
- Am I generous with my money and contribute whenever I can to charities which help to alleviate poverty?
- Do I make time in my schedule for other people?
- Do I reach out to the lonely?
Now the people were filled with expectation, and all were asking in their hearts whether John might be the Messiah.
We long for the salvation of God. We long to understand the meaning of our existence, to see an end to our problems, to receive God’s help in our suffering. We long to know that we are loved.
- Do I dare to hope in God?
- Do I trust God in my weakness? And come to God in my strength?
- Do I show love?
John answered them all, saying: “I am baptizing you with water, but one mightier than I is coming. I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals. He will baptize you with the holy Spirit and fire.”
Sometimes we have other gods besides the one true God. Sometimes we take it into our heads that salvation comes from our own will power and discipline, from some political party or program or some political messiah, from some philosophy or from wealth, comfort, food or entertainment.
- Who or what is my god?
- Am I humble before the Lord?
- Do I long to receive the baptism of God’s fire?
Exhorting them in many other ways, John preached good news to the people.
- What is my attitude towards the most vulnerable in the community?
- How compassionate am I towards those who have personal struggles?
- As an employer, do I treat my employees with respect and equality? As a parent? As a teacher? As a person of influence?
- As an employee, am I trustworthy and honest? As a son or daugher? As a student? As a citizen?
- In my relationships, am I self-centred?
- Am I more concerned with satisfying my personal needs than putting the needs of others first?
Now Herod the tetrarch, who had been censured by John because of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and because of all the evil deeds Herod had committed, added still another crime to his list by putting John in prison.
John the Baptist was a messenger of God, a prophet preparing the way for the coming of the Saviour by encouraging the people to repent. Prophets are often ridiculed, persecuted or simply ignored. As we strive to witness to the values of the Gospel in today’s society, we too, are likely to meet ridicule and ignorance.
We will be challenged by the prophets of our times, and tempted, in our turn, to ignore them, ridicule them or cheer their persecution.
- How do I react to such experiences?
- Do I easily ‘give in’ and compromise my values by finding ways to avoid the challenges?
- Do I resent it when some members of the Church call upon me to change my attitudes or preconceptions?
- Who and what helps me during the difficult moments of my life?
John the Baptist was the herald of the Messiah and made him known when at last he came. In his love Christ has filled us with joy as we prepare to celebrate his birth, so that when he comes he may find us watching in prayer, our hearts filled with wonder and praise.
On becoming Catholic - our parish group meeting every Thursday for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA) includes 11 candidates. Tonight we began with the following prayer, which I would like to share with you.
Come to God, Go to the World
Come to me, you with broken, mended hearts
who know the pain and joy and confusion of love and life.
Come with your wounds and scars and failures
for from these shall flow patience, courage and strength.
Come with your experiences no less than your education
for wisdom springs more from how you live than from who you are or what you know.
Come with the rock-hard stubborness of Peter
and the missionary zeal of Paul.
Come with the loyal love of Mary Magdalene
and the undying friendship of Lazarus.
Come with the natural poetry of Francis
and the visionary leadership of Joan.
Come with the childlike simplicity of Bernadette
and the doubt-plagued faith of Mother Teresa.
Come. And go.
Go out to the farthest corners of the world.
Go to the least, the lowest, and the loneliest.
Go reveal the riches hidden among the poor.
Go give health to the sick, and comfort to those who mourn.
Go with the fire of the Magnificat burning within your heart
and the Body of Christ alive within the soul's tabernacle.
Go break down the barriers dividing my people.
Go tear down the walls of ignorance and fear.
Go lift up the fallen and raise up the weak.
Go with the Spirit to sustain you.
Come and go! I am with you always!
The reign of God is at hand!
See! I give you my word.
Joseph R. Veneroso, M.M.
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