Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Prayer for the Feast Day of St. Pio

Today is the feast day of the great St. Pio of of Pietrelcina, a special friend of mine and hopefully of yours too! This holy priest was the only priest in the history of the Catholic Church to bear the Stigmata. A powerful intercessor for us in Heaven, he bore this special suffering for 50 years. Ask him to pray to God for what you need and to accept God's Holy Will in your sufferings.  St. Pio, devoted son of Mary and loving bearer of the Passion of Our Lord, pray for us!





God our Father, by Your Spirit You raised up St. Pio of Pietrelcina to show Your people the way to perfection. You made him a pastor of the Church to feed Your sheep with his words, and to teach them by example.

Help us by his prayers to keep the faith he taught, and to follow the way of life he showed us. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.



"Walk cheerfully and with a sincere and open heart as much as you can, and when you cannot always maintain this holy joy, at least do not lose heart or your trust in God."
—Padre Pio



For more information about this holy man of God, please visit The Padre Pio Foundation of America. www.padrepio.com

Friday, September 12, 2014

Taking A Stand

If I have any typos here, it's because my friendly cat is trying to snuggle with me as I sit in my recliner trying to balance a laptop—and a furry friend who wants a little lovin'. I'd like nothing more than to snuggle with him, but I'm on fire today. When you are on fire, you have to do something! You have to act!

My morning paper's front page was ugly, and it wasn't just because I hadn't had a cup of coffee yet. Personal opinion replaced fact on the front page. Silly me—when I was in journalism school, I was taught that feature and opinion writers had their place in another section of the paper, not the front page. I freelanced for one of the big dailies in Michigan and my feature articles were never on the front page. Why? Because, you see, the front page is supposed to be reserved for NEWS.  Unless, of course, you're an editor who wants to celebrate and create scandal, and has a bias...and wants to feed a massive ego. Then, of course, it's okay to pass off opinion as fact. 

A feature columnist, who calls herself a Catholic, is at it again this morning. I already fired off a private email to her last week; do I have to compose another one? No, it won't do any good, because she simply ignored it.  I expected this and wasn't surprised, but my hope was that I planted a seed. That's all you can do; let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

So I'll simply reprint the letter here, in hopes that it will inspire you, my fellow faithful Catholics, to do the same: to not just fume privately about someone who openly, publicly berates the Faith he or she openly professes to be a part of, but to actually speak up if you haven't already.

Do we have free speech? Do we have freedom of the press? Of course we do, and I wouldn't change that. However, this freedom comes with responsibilities, don't you agree? Like the responsibility of being balanced and fair. This columnist has NOT been balanced and fair. Every column of hers that mentions Catholicism is a slam on the Faith. That is where the problem lies, and I'm tired of my Church being trashed by this columnist. In Christian charity, I've left out her name and some other details, but you get the idea. After you finish reading this, I hope you are inspired to stand up for the Church as well in whatever way you can in your community. Be kind, be charitable, but be firm. And don't forget that these people need our prayers desperately.






Dear Ms.      :

I've been a reader of your column for many years now, and I feel compelled to write to you as a fellow Catholic, a fellow writer, and even a fellow parishioner (I grew up at your parish, although I have since moved to another area).

It always puzzles and saddens me when a fellow Catholic uses opportunities to make snide comments about his or her faith, and I have found many of these instances in your columns over the years. Today is no exception, with your comment about how several archdioceses were not to be "outdone." It was an unnecessary slam on a very significant claim that some of the monies that go to ALS are used for embryonic stem-cell research: stem cells taken from babies that have been denied a proper chance at life. I am not going to get into a debate with you right now about IVF or abortion, but you do need to know that priests and bishops do not sit around all day thinking of ways they can't be "outdone." I assure you that Catholics are not dreaming of ways to make sure charities don't get the money they need to help sick, innocent people. Prayerful consideration, I am sure, is the case with this moral decision and all others. 

True, the people of the Church are not perfect, but that is simply because we are talking about human beings. So yes, we do have problems, and yes, there are things we can work on. I understand that you have a platform to talk about all sorts of topics, and it is your right to do so. However, I feel that I have to stand up for the Church, my Church, which I love deeply. I am tired of seeing her ridiculed, made fun of, and torn down. I write Catholic fiction books for children that are used in the curricula of Catholic schools across the U.S. and Canada. I am PROUD of my faith and feel it is my mission to pass along this love to pre-teens. In my novels, I teach these children not only to live their Catholic faith, but to love and cherish it, too. I do this for the young souls that God loves so very much. You are not helping the Church you profess to be a part of—and these children—with your snide comments. 

We all get it: You are mad at the Church.  I won't ask why, but do you not see the harm you are doing in your remarks? The Church is wounded; we all know that, but positive, helpful comments to build it up will do so much good, instead of little hurtful remarks that tear it down. I know you must have stories of wonderful, faithful, and holy priests and sisters you have met over the years...of your encounters with a favorite saint, or how you felt at Mass one Sunday morning when the priest elevated the Sacred Host and you just KNEW it was Our Lord Himself, or how your rosary beads comforted you during a sorrowful time as you prayed. I know you have these types of stories, Ms.    . Please write more about them!

Think of all of the good you could do as a Catholic writer with such a wide readership. Please help all of us as we build up the Catholic Church, not tear her down.

In Christ,

+JMJ+
Nancy Carabio Belanger  www.harveyhousepublishing.com


Monday, September 1, 2014

Interior Mortification

Isn't it funny how, when God wants you to work on a certain virtue, He sends you the most perfect opportunities to do so? We all have things we need to work on, and patience and distraction are two of mine. I do tend to get irritated and impatient for the silliest reasons. I've gotten better over the years, but just when a person thinks he or she has started to master it (or at least gotten a bit better at it!), God says, "No, you need to work a little harder! Here's some practice for you!" Ah...time for interior mortification! Don't you just love being Catholic?

So there I was, arriving early at daily Mass just in time for the group rosary to start. I enjoy saying the rosary in a group setting from time to time, but I definitely prefer to say it solo most of the time. An older gentleman came and sat down behind me. When it was time to start, I knew trouble was brewing within me from the first "Our Father."  This man was one of those people who rush through the prayers before the rest of the group, so that the timing is way off. Instead of a steady cadence where we were all saying the lines at the same time, he would race through the sentence so that he would finish up several beats before the rest of us. When all of us were slowly saying "Holy Mary, mother of God," the man was already a couple of steps ahead of us on "Pray for us sinners..."

I inwardly cringed. This was going to be a loooong rosary. I have noticed that with responses at Mass as well, and it makes me wonder why people do this. It really messes up my concentration and I forget where I am supposed to be: with the rest of the congregation and the priest, or with the man or woman beside me who is in a hurry? Racing through the prayers is not going to have Mass end earlier. This has always puzzled me. Yet, here was a perfect opportunity for me to work on the virtue of patience!

I wondered how I was going to get through this rosary with the patience I knew I was going to need...for five decades. I sent up a silent prayer that I would not be distracted, that I would not be irritated by this gentleman behind me. After all, maybe there was a reason he was racing through it. Maybe he was hard of hearing and couldn't hear the cadence. Maybe he was so wrapped up in the prayer that he wasn't understanding the cadence. I turned to him and he smiled at me. He seemed sort of lonely, and I wondered if his wife had passed away since he was alone. Maybe his rosary intention was for something very dear to his heart, just as mine was.  Then I started to wonder what things I did that others found annoying. I smiled back, feeling bad, and decided that I could accept this minor annoyance. I could offer it up. I could let it sanctify me! We continued to pray the rosary slowly as the man behind me raced ahead, and I found that, surprisingly as the decades progressed, I was becoming calmer, not more irritated! By the end of the rosary, I realized that I had experienced something very profound, and it had come from the Holy Spirit.  Instead of feeling crabby and irritated about the whole thing, I had come to have compassion for the man. After all, he was praying: What was wrong with that?! 

The next time you are tempted by the evil one to be irritated and distracted, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. And be grateful for the opportunity to turn it into something good for your soul!



"Don't say: 'That person gets on my nerves.' Think: 'That person sanctifies me.' "

—St. Josemaria Escriva

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