Category Archives: Family

Bringing Jesus to a 105 year old – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

This afternoon I had an absolutely wonderful experience. It all started last week when I was talking to a Eucharistic Minister who brings the Holy Eucharist to some people who are homebound. I asked her about an old friend of mine who used to come to our Charismatic prayer meeting many years ago. She was also always in church and I enjoyed talking to her. Her family has been very active in our church and community and I know so many of them.  It has been a while since she has been in church and I missed her. The Eucharistic Minister told me that this woman was doing well and has mentioned to her that she would love to see me.  I told the EM that I would love to go with her the next time she went.  Today was the day. It was to be a surprise visit.

I don’t want to mention this woman’s name, because I didn’t ask her for permission to use it. But I do want to tell you some interesting things about her and our visit and the presence of Jesus.  This friend has been homebound for several years. She has a really good excuse, she is 105 years old. When you see her she certainly doesn’t look her age. When you talk to her she seems so young at heart. Her mind is as sharp as a tack. When we first walked in her daughter (who I also know well), who didn’t know I was coming, greeted us with a huge smile and welcomed us in. We then went in to the room where the 105 year old was sitting at the kitchen table. The smile on her face when we walked in lit up this rainy, dark and dreary day. It was enough to absolutely warm your heart.

We spoke for a while reminiscing about old times in the prayer group and in the parish. I was so surprised at the details that she remembered. She seemed so happy to talk about the old times, but also seemed so happy about talking about her present life. She related how she loved Jesus and Mary and the prayers that she can offer. She was sad only because she couldn’t be a part of the church activities. She also was quite concerned for a dear relative who had fallen and broken some bones. We prayed for that relative.

After talking for a while, we prayed the rosary. She knew every prayer so well. She was so excited to tell me about her rosary. It seems that a friend of a friend had gone to Rome and had an audience with Pope Francis. This friend mentioned that he had a friend who was 105 years old and still prayed the Rosary. The pope then reached in his pocket and pulled out a rosary, blessed it and told the man to give it to the 105 year old.  That is the rosary that we used. It is absolutely beautiful and to know that the Pope had sent it to her, was very uplifting.

We then did what this person does every time before receiving the Sacred Host.  We prayed an Act of Contrition and then an Our Father.  She then received the Host with such a beautiful, warm, glow on her face. It was so moving to watch. We then talked for a while and prayed together.  I prayed for her specifically while laying on hands.  I also gave her and the EM and her daughter a blessing. Truth be told……I was the one who received the blessings.

So why do I bring this one occasion up? It is because things like this happen continuously in the Church. Bringing Jesus to the homebound (or nursing home etc.) is one of the most satisfying things a Minister of the Eucharist can do, whether they are ordained or an Extra-ordinary Minister. This last Sunday I brought the Eucharist to several people in one nursing home and then on Monday I brought the Eucharist to another nursing home.  The experience of doing that is so satisfying.

I really encourage all Eucharistic Ministers to reach out to the homebound and bring them Jesus.  So many EM’s help out at mass with the distribution of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and this is great and well needed in most parishes.  But an even better way to minister to people is by visiting the homebound. It is a ministry that brings Jesus to others and allows Jesus to come to you in a very special way. God is good.

Our Lady of Fatima at the United Nations –  by Deacon Marty McIndoe

The United Nations in New York City

On May 12th, the day before the 100th anniversary of the first apparitions at Fatima, my wife and I had the privilege of attending a special gathering at the United Nations in NYC entitled, THE CENTENARY OF FATIMA AND THE ENDURING RELEVANCE OF IT’S MESSAGE OF PEACE.   It was a most rewarding experience.  The Fatima apparitions have been the beginning of so many changes in the 20th century.  They began on May 13, 1917 just as Europe was immersed in WWI, a very devastating war and supposedly the “war to end all wars”.  It was also the year of the Bolshevik Revolution and the beginning of the Communist threats to the world.  The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three young shepherd children in a remote region of Portugal and gave a message of the need to turn to Jesus, do penance, and pray in order to keep further horrendous wars away.   Her message was filled with Hope and Love but also quite disturbing in showing the way the world was headed.   She was concerned with bringing Peace and Hope and Eternal Life to all of the peoples of the world by having them follow Jesus.

The conference itself looked at the message of Fatima and what had occurred since then.   There is still a great need for peace in our war torn world.  The threat of communism seems to be gone, but there are many other threats to world peace.   The conference had five speakers and lasted about two hours.   I would like to give a brief synopsis of what each speaker said.  There is no doubt that this 100 year old message from the Blessed Virgin Mary is still very relevant to us today.   All of the speakers were excellent in their content and in the emotional attachment to what they were saying.  Tears flowed from both men and women as they spoke.  I was impressed by the dedication of each speaker.

The Dais for the speakers.  The statue of Fatima is to the right.

Archbishop Bernadito C. Auza opened the conference and was the mediator.   He is the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.   His topic was “The Lessons of the Fatima Message of Peace for the Cause of Peace Today”.  The Archbishop recounted what had happened at Fatima and how it had led to many changes in the world.   He told the story of Pope John Paul II’s dedication to Fatima and how the Pope was very instrumental in the collapse of communism in Europe and in Communist Russia itself.   The Archbishop reflected the call for hope but also the need for continued conversion.   He was very pastoral in his tone, and appears to be an excellent representative of the Church to the United Nations.

Johnnette Benkovic was the second speaker.   Johnnette is the foundress and president of Women of Grace.   She is also an author and TV and radio host.   She is an excellent speaker and her topic was,   ‘Mary and the Dignity of Women’s role in a Culture of Peace”.   Johnnette did an excellent job of reminding us how women, who by their very nature are life giving and protecting, must work hard for peace.   She did say that women are not always fulfilling this role of working for peace and must step up to do so.   She definitely believes that women can be very instrumental in helping bring about peace.

The Statue of Our Lady of Fatima at the Dais.

Dr. Andrea Bartoli was the third speaker.   He is currently the Dean of the Seton Hall School of Diplomacy and International Relations.   His topic was “The Importance of Religious Leaders Serving as Examples of Peace, Tolerance, Solidarity and Justice”.   Dr. Bartoli shared several stories from his work in various nations to deal with the ravages of war.   He was quite emotional in sharing some of the things that happened to the people he was trying to help.   There was no doubt that this man is a man of faith and compassion who has worked hard to foster peace (he is an expert in conflict resolution) and to help those who suffer because of a lack of peace.   He challenged all, especially those who are religious leaders, to work hard for peace and to help those who are suffering from a lack of it.   His call was basically to be like Jesus.   We need more diplomats like him.

Dr. Maria Santos Pais was the fourth speaker.   She is the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Violence Against Children.   Her topic was, “Children as a Zone of Peace”.   Dr. Pais is from Portugal and it was apparent that she was well aware of the Fatima story.   She also seemed well aware of the terrible things that are happening to children throughout the world today.   Some of the statistics that she gave us were quite disturbing.   Dr. Pais was very clear in showing us that children are peacemakers, but unfortunately are often victims of the lack of peace.   She gave a very emotional talk.   Please pray for the children of the world.

The Shepherd Children of Fatima to whom Mary appeared.  Pope Francis proclaimed Francisco and Jacinta Marto Saints as he celebrated the 100th anniversary mass in Fatima.  Lucia only died in 2005 and her cause is pending.

Dr. Anna Halpine was the fifth and last speaker.   She is the Foundress and CEO of the World Youth Alliance.   Her topic was, ‘The Fatima Shepherd Children: the Role of Children in the Cause of Peace”.    Dr. Hapline did an excellent job of showing how these poor shepherd children responded so well to the call of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She continued talking about children of the world living in such difficult situations.   Her talk was very complementary to the previous talk given by Dr. Pais.   The last two speakers helped us all to focus on those who suffer so much from a lack of peace, the children.  It is so sad to think that we have created a world where children suffer so much.

This sculpture is in the United Nations plaza.

In review, the conference was very much like the original message of Fatima.   It is disturbing in pointing out what mankind has done by war and by a lack of peace.   It also pointed out that we must work hard to accomplish peace.   There is hope, but we must actively seek it and work for it.   The message of Our Lady is very appropriate today.   We must seek Jesus, pray and do penance and work hard for peace.   Having this conference take place at the United Nations was quite encouraging.  The Statue of Fatima was brought there for this conference and then brought over to the Church of the Holy Family nearby.   This is the second visit of this statue to the United Nations.   It first came to the UN in 1952.  The Blessed Virgin Mary is most definitely the Queen of Peace.   May peace come forth to this world and may all peoples receive the gift of heavenly peace.  I end with the prayer that Mary taught at Fatima; O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen…

The Statue at Holy Family Church near the United Nations

 

BORED AGAIN CATHOLIC – How the Mass Could Save Your Life by Timothy P. O’Malley – reflections by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               You probably noticed that in the topic I called this a reflection, not a book review.  My purpose is to share with you how this book touched me.  I will leave a real book review to those more skilled in the process, like Pete Socks from Catholic Stand.  To begin with, you must know that I absolutely love the mass.  I am a daily communicant and I believe that the mass is the “source and summit” of my faith.  When I saw this book I immediately pre-ordered it.  I highly respect Timothy P. O’Malley as an author and he was writing about a topic that was dear to my heart.  I did worry about the first part of the title, BORED AGAIN CATHOLIC.   I saw it as a cute spin on “born again” but I never considered the mass boring.  The second part of the title was more to my liking, HOW THE MASS COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.  I know this statement to be true.

               From the very beginning I saw what Timothy P. O’Malley was getting at in looking at the “boredom” of the mass.  He shows how there is good boredom and bad boredom.  The good boredom is the space where you can allow God to work.  In it we can ponder on the wonders of God at work in the mass.  The bad boredom is really a time where we allow ourselves unhealthy distractions from what God is doing.  The author gives great examples of good boredom and bad boredom.  He really makes you think about how the mind and its thought processes can lift you up spiritually.  There is no doubt that the author has a great love for the mass and for liturgy in general.  I see a lot of myself in him.

               The book takes just about every part of the mass and applies personal stories, as well as scripture and quotes from theologians, Saints, Popes etc. and creates a space for your own personal reflections.  It even includes questions at the end of each chapter to help you reflect on what was just given to you.  Some of the questions even challenge you to actions that will help you in better understanding the gift of the mass and liturgy.  I cannot think of any adult or teen that wouldn’t learn and grow by reading this book.  Whether you are a seasoned Catholic, or a new Catholic, this book is for you.  I can also see that it could be used to help non-Catholics better understand the mass (and hopefully decide that they too need the mass).

               As I said earlier, I am a daily communicant who really loves the mass.  This book gave me some new insights in to the mass and liturgy, even though I have been doing this since I became Catholic in 1973.  It gave me a better appreciation for the signs used in the mass.  His discussion of how when his mind might wander and then get caught up in the smoke rising from the incense in to the light of the sun made me better appreciate the use of incense (which we really do not use enough).  I loved the author’s suggestion of how we really should enshrine THE BOOK in our homes.  For many years we always kept a large bible open in a prominent area of our living room.  Somehow we got away from this.  I now plan on starting doing this again.

               I really loved the chapter dealing with the homily.  As a person who often does both weekday and Sunday homilies, I was moved by what Dr. O’Malley said.  He recalled how one day he took his toddler to the back of the Church because the toddler was fussy.  He admitted that he himself was fussy because the homily was not on target and was too long.  He recalled that the homily was not on target because it did not connect to the Gospel.  It was filled with too many personal stories.  Now, I have no problem with some personal stories, but I realize that everything that I say during a homily must connect to God’s word.  I recalled what was said to me by the Bishop who was ordaining me.   He handed me a book of the Gospels and said, “Believe what you read, Teach what you believe, and Practice what you teach”.  I actually keep a small plaque on my desk saying this so that I always remember what being a deacon is all about.  We too often hear that the Catholic Church suffers from poor homilies.  Actually, I have been lucky that the bishops and priests and deacons that I have been exposed to usually give great homilies.  This book inspired me to be better in my preaching.  It also reinforced my love of liturgy and the mass.  I know that I could tell you more, but I really believe that the best thing that I can tell you is to go out and get the book and read it.  Actually, don’t just read it, ponder it.  God is so good.  Thank you Dr. Timothy P. O’Malley for this gem.

COMPLAINT DEPARTMENT by A.J. Avila

Complaint Department  (Link to original post)

Posted on November 29, 2016 by ajavilanovels  (link to A.J. Avila’s blog)

Why does it seem to be human nature that our first instinct is to complain?

Take, for example, my husband’s gripe that the Swiss cheese I bought didn’t have enough holes in it. That’s right: he complained that it didn’t have enough nothing.

Why do we see the negative so much more readily than the positive?

I sure got an earful of it the time my parents asked me to pick them up when returning from a vacation in Hawaii. I had invited my brother to come with me to the airport, and as we were watching passengers disembark from the plane, I nudged him. “You know what?” I said. “After we get the luggage, I’ll ask Mom and Dad how their trip was. I bet they say nothing good about it at all.”

“You’re on,” he answered.

Eventually our folks showed up, and after the customary greetings, we gathered their luggage and found the car. My brother sat up front with me, and my parents took the two back seats.

“So,” I said as we exited the parking lot, “how was your trip?”

Well, you would have thought it was a vacation in Hell itself instead of a tropical paradise. The plane ride going out was bumpy, and the one coming back was worse. The hotel room was dirty, and the window faced away from the ocean. Prices were horribly high, and the food was terrible, especially the poi.

[SIDENOTE: Okay, I have to give them that last one. Poi does taste terrible.]

During the trek home, my parents recounted in detail their horrendous experience, and the story got worse the farther we drove. My brother and I, occasionally glancing at each other, had to restrain giggles at my prediction about their predicament. I actually had to bite the inside of my cheeks to keep from bursting into laughter.

Yet . . . to be fair, how many times have I spent all my energy complaining instead of complimenting?

I used to work at a bookstore, and my manager told me that studies had shown that if a customer had a complaint, he was likely to repeat it to something like a dozen persons. On the other hand, if he had a compliment, he was likely to repeat it to maybe a couple of people.

In other words, when we are happy with something, instead of expressing gratitude, silence is usually the norm. I have to admit I have been exceedingly guilty of such silence.

When I realized this about myself, I resolved to take steps to alter my attitude. So now, if I, for example, eat at a restaurant, besides leaving a tip, I also leave a bit of praise about my meal. If I stay at a hotel, along with my room key, I drop a compliment at the front desk. A comment on how well the checker at my local store processed my order costs me not a cent and only a moment of my time.

When I started doing this, I admit I was a bit shocked at how eyes would widen and jaws drop. And that reaction was always followed by the blossoming of a smile.

Why is it so hard to do this? Take just a moment to make somebody’s day?

The truth is that it’s not.

So I guess my only complaint is about doing nothing but complaining.

Forgiveness, a Truly Miraculous gift by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Detective Steven McDonald and his son, NYPD Officer Conor McDonald.

               In a previous post I talked about miraculous healings that have occurred in the scriptures and throughout history in to this present day.  I even shared some that I personally witnessed; but what about the person that doesn’t seem to receive a miraculous healing?   Does that mean that God has ignored him or her or that God is not at work?   First of all I think that God is at work in all things.  Secondly, what we see as a lack of healing, or lack of a miracle, is just another way that God has chosen to work.  Often the real miracles are those that are not apparent.  I would like to give you an example of this in the Life of Detective Steven McDonald of the New York Police Department.

               On July 12, 1986, New York Police Officer Steven McDonald went in to Central Park with Sergeant Peter King as part of their normal, everyday duties.  They were on alert for petty crimes as well as looking for clues to a recent string of bicycle thefts in that area.  They saw a group of suspicious looking teens who began to run as soon as they saw the police.  The police officers chased them, Steven McDonald going in one direction, and his partner in another direction.

               Steven McDonald stopped several of the boys to question them.  He tells us that he spotted a bulge in the sock of one of the youngest boys and believed it to be a gun.  He bent over to examine it and a tall 15 year old boy came and pointed a gun at the police officer’s head.  Officer McDonald said that he then heard a deafening explosion, saw a muzzle flash and felt the bullet strike him just above his right eye.   He immediately fell flat and the boy shot him a second time hitting him in the throat.  Then, while still lying on the ground, the boy shot him a third time.  Officer McDonald recalled, “I was in pain; I was numb; I knew I was dying, and I didn’t want to die. It was terrifying.  My partner was yelling into his police radio: “Ten Thirteen Central! Ten Thirteen!” and when I heard that code, I knew I was in a very bad way. Then I closed my eyes…”

               When the first officers to respond arrived on the scene, they found Sergeant King on the ground, covered in Steven’s blood, cradling him in his arms.  Sergeant King was crying. They knew that every second counted so they carried Steven into the back of their vehicle and rushed him to Harlem’s Metropolitan Hospital, twenty blocks away.  There the medical staff saw the severity of the shooting and worked hard to stabilize him.  They did not expect him to live.  The Chief Surgeon told the Police Commissioner, “He’s not going to make it. Call the family. Tell them to come say goodbye.”   But Steven’s will to live stood firm.  His survival is a miracle itself, but his injuries left him completely paralyzed from the neck down.  He couldn’t even breathe on his own.

                 Officer McDonald had been married just eight months to his 23 year old wife, Patti Ann.  She was three months pregnant.  Together they would have to face the unbelievable changes that being paralyzed causes.  Not quite fair for a young married couple.  It would be very easy for them both to be filled with self pity, hatred and spite.  But these two practicing Catholics decided to choose another course.  At Detective Steven McDonald’s funeral, 30 years after his attack, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Steven McDonald inspired New York City by choosing a spiritual journey over self-pity and spite.  He inspired not only NYC, but the world.  To me, Steven McDonald exemplifies how God can work, even in the worst of situations.  I know it was a miracle that he survived, but there was no miracle to bring him healing of his paralysis.  Perhaps the biggest miracle is what Steven did with his life.

               About six months after being brutally assaulted with gunfire by Shavod “Budda” Jones, Officer Steven McDonald made a statement, through his wife, saying, “I forgive him and hope he can find peace and purpose in his life”.  This defined the rest of McDonald’s life.  Jones was sentenced to ten years in prison for attempted murder.  McDonald said, “Strangely we became friends. It began with my writing to him. At first he didn’t answer my letters, but then he wrote back. Then one night a year or two later, he called my home from prison and apologized to my wife, my son, and me. We accepted his apology, and I told him I hoped he and I could work together in the future. I hoped that one day we might travel around the country together sharing how this act of violence had changed both our lives, and how it had given us an understanding of what is most important in life.”  However, three days after his release from jail, Jones died in a motorcycle accident.  That hope was never realized, but McDonald continued his crusade for forgiveness and peace.

               The New York City Police Department kept McDonald on their roster in a special position.  He was eventually promoted to the rank of Detective.  Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association called McDonald “a true American hero.”   At his funeral Lynch said, “Steven McDonald was the most courageous and forgiving man I have ever known.  Despite the tremendous pain in his life, both physical and emotional, his concern for his fellow police officers and for the people of New York City never wavered. Since that fateful day in 1986, Steven dedicated his life to fighting hate and encouraging forgiveness through his actions. He was a powerful force for all that is good and is an inspiration to all of us. His, was a life well lived. We join his family, a true New York City police family, his friends and fellow officers in prayer and mourning the loss of a truly special man.”

               The influence of Detective McDonald was felt not only in New York, but worldwide.   He took his message of forgiveness and peace to Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Israel.  He met with world leaders such as Pope John Paul II and Nelson Mandela.  He spoke at two Republican National Conventions.  He was interviewed by Barbara Walters on TV and attended many civil and religious functions in his area.  I was fortunate to see and hear him and can attest to the fact that he was a man of deep faith, and love of God and His people.  He was a die-hard hockey fan of the New York Rangers.  His relationship over the years with them has been a source of real blessing to so many.  The Rangers named an award in his honor.

               About six months after the shooting, Steven’s son Conor was born.  Conor followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather and great-grandfather in becoming a NYC Police Officer.  I have a good friend who is a NYC Police Officer who worked with Conor and praised him for being such a good person and good Police Officer.  A family of faith and desire to serve keeps bringing forth good men.  In an article by Johann Christoph Arnold, he states,

                              “When visiting Steven in his Long Island home (since meeting in 1997, we have become close friends), I am often struck by the extent of his incapacitation. Life in a wheelchair is hard enough for an elderly person to accept, but to be plucked out of an active, fun-loving life in your prime is devastating. Add to that a tracheotomy to breathe through and total dependence on a nurse and other caregivers, and life can seem pretty confining at times. Steven is matter-of fact about this:

                              “There’s nothing easy about being paralyzed. I have not been able to hold my wife in my  arms for two decades. Conor is now a young man, and I’ve never been able to have a catch with him. It’s frustrating – difficult – ugly – at times.”

                              So why did he forgive? Again, he himself says it best:

                              “I forgave Shavod because I believe the only thing worse than receiving a bullet in my spine would have been to nurture revenge in my heart. Such an attitude would have extended my injury to my soul, hurting my wife, son, and others even more. It’s bad enough that the physical effects are permanent, but at least I can choose to prevent spiritual injury.”

                             ” When I was a very young kid, Dr. King came to my town in New York. My mother went to hear him speak, and she was very impressed by what she heard. I hope you can be inspired by his words too. Dr. King said that there’s some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us, and that when we learn this, we’ll be more loving and forgiving. He also said, “Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it’s a permanent attitude.”  In other words, it is something you have to work for. Just like you have to work to keep your body fit and your mind alert, you’ve got to work on your heart too. Forgiving is not just a one-time decision. You’ve got to live forgiveness, every day.”

               This is a lesson that the world needs to take in.  Steven McDonald spoke and lived out that lesson.  Sure, it was a miracle that he lived through the gunshots and it would have been a great miracle if he could have been freed from his paralysis, but to me the greatest miracle is what Steven did for so many other people working through his disabilities.  His faith and desire to spread the message of forgiveness and peace resounds throughout the world.

               Detective Stephen King, New York City Police Officer, husband, father, devout Catholic and ambassador of forgiveness and peace died of a heart attack on January 10, 2017 in his Long Island home.  His life continues to touch many.

              

 

 

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton and How She Personally Brought a Miracle to My Family by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               January 4th is the feast day of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton.  She is the first native born American to be canonized the Church.  She is a convert, was married with children, and the woman who started the first Catholic School in the United States.  She was a prolific reader and loved the scriptures and the Eucharist and the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She also gave me the gift of my daughter (see below).

               Elizabeth was born two years before the American Revolution and was from the upper class of New York City.  She married a wealthy man and was extremely happy for many years.  Unfortunately, her husband became quite ill and lost his import business.  She cared for him and his younger siblings when his parents died.  Elizabeth brought her sick husband to Italy to help his health, and they stayed with friends, but he finally died there from tuberculosis.  While in Italy she was influenced by their friend’s Catholic faith and converted to Catholicism.  She returned to the United States to settle in Baltimore.  There, at the suggestion of the president of St. Mary’s College, Elizabeth started a secular school.  It didn’t take long for Elizabeth to decide to change it to a Catholic School.  She started an order of sisters known as the “Sisters of Charity” (following closely the rule of St. Vincent de Paul in France) who helped children by establishing schools and orphanages.  Even though Mother Seton contracted tuberculosis herself, she worked tirelessly guiding the order.  Mother Seton died in 1821 at the age of 46, only sixteen years after becoming Catholic.  She was beatified by Pope John XXIII in 1963 and canonized by Pope Paul VI on September 14th, 1975.

               Mother Elizabeth Ann Seton is very special to me.  I attribute the gift of our daughter to her.  My wife and I desperately wanted children but after many years of trying and then going to doctors, we decided that God wanted us to adopt.  The doctors never found anything wrong with either of us, but we were never able to conceive.  Back in the 70’s it was very difficult to adopt.  I didn’t have the money to go through a private adoption and I was worried if we would ever have any children.  One day, both my wife and I felt, through prayer, that the time was right for us to go through an agency to try to adopt a baby.  We really wanted a newborn, but most agencies just laughed when we told them.  However, we felt inspired to not give up and to keep trying.  We called the Long Island Adoption Services number and they told us to give a call to New York Foundling Hospital in Manhattan.  They said that this hospital offered classes twice a month on ways to adopt.

               When we called NY Foundling Hospital, the woman on the phone seemed so excited.  She told us to come in to the next meeting that they were having on September 14th, 1975.  We signed up for that and drove in that day.  We found ourselves in a room with eleven other couples and one single person.  The social worker came in and said she would explain different ways to go about adopting.   She first said that she would show us pictures of some older children that were awaiting adoption.  Most of them were special needs children that really tugged on your heart.  They were also older children.  She then explained ways that you could adopt younger, normal (I really don’t like that word, but that is what she used) children.   At that time, Korean children were popular and she explained how to get them.  She also told us that there were a number of black American children available and how to get them.  She then paused for a moment, quite dramatically, and said that she had something very important to tell us.  Both Martha and I were sitting there a little stunned by all that had been presented to us.  We were quite curious what was left to tell.

               The social worker said to us that for the first time in about eight years, their “white infant” list was growing short.  Their adoption committee decided that they could not advertise that they were taking new names for this list because too many would apply.  Since they placed only two or three babies per year, they decided to open the list only to the people who showed up at the next adoption class, the one we were attending.  Martha and I both looked at each other, recognizing that this was no coincidence that we were here.   We knew God was at work.  We immediately put our names in and were told that we would be contacted in within 30 days by a social worker.  Martha and I walked out of the class and went downstairs and went in to the chapel to thank God.  We knew we were there as part of His plan.   I remember a large statue of Elizabeth Ann Seton just outside the chapel.   If I didn’t know better, I would have thought that she winked and smiled at us.  We later found out that New York Foundling Hospital was operated and founded by the Sisters of Charity who were founded by Elizabeth Ann Seton.   We were told that the process could take several years, first we had to be checked out, and then we had to wait until we were next on the list and a baby arrived.  Martha and I drove home to Long Island praising and thanking God.

               A little before Christmas in 1976 we were called and told we were next up.  It was a great Christmas for us.  On January 4th, 1977, we were called and told that our daughter was born the day before and we could pick her up at New York Foundling Hospital on January 7th.  I looked on the calendar and we were called on the Feast of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton.  We had remembered that when we were driving in to the initial session in September 1975 at New York Foundling, the radio was covering the news that Elizabeth Ann Seton was just canonized that day.  We had received our daughter through the Sisters of Charity, the order she founded.  We saw the hand of God at work in all of this and felt that St. Elizabeth Ann Seton was an integral part of his plan, and knew we had to name her Elizabeth Ann McIndoe.  Our social worker told us that she had been doing this for many years and had never seen a baby go to a couple that shared so much of the same ethnic background as the child.   Not only was our daughter from basically the same Irish, English and a little Italian background, but her mother was Catholic and her father protestant, just as Martha and I had been.  Our social worker told us that Elizabeth’s birth mother became pregnant in High School and would not abort her baby due to her Catholic faith.  I thank God that her birth mother saved her life and offered her for adoption.  She was a very strong, faith filled young woman.  Our social worker told us that many of the babies that they placed were born to drug addicted mothers and needed special medical help.  Elizabeth was born from a drug free mother and in perfect health.   God is so good. 

               The evening before we had to pick our daughter up in Manhattan a winter storm was brewing.  We woke up to find about 11 plus inches of snow on the ground.  The roads were not good and we had to drive almost 60 miles in to the city.   I called the hospital and told them that we planned on coming no matter what the weather.  It was a slow trek in to the city, but we made it.  Nothing was going to stop us from getting our daughter.  A last worry was parking near the hospital.  If anyone has been to NYC, they know that parking is always a problem.   When you have a snow storm, it becomes much worse as there is no place to put the plowed snow.  I remember coming up to the hospital, praying that God would get us a parking spot close to the hospital.  Just as we pulled up to the entrance we needed, a parked car pulled out and gave us a place.  God answers prayer, even for parking spots.

               We drove home with our little miracle adopted baby.  We were so very happy.   To this very day, exactly 40 years later, our daughter has brought us so much joy.  She has also given us three wonderful grandsons who light up our life.  There has never been a time that I haven’t thanked God for the precious gift he gave us, through adoption, of our daughter, Elizabeth Ann.

               Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, we thank you for your role in bringing us our FANTASTIC daughter.  God works through His Saints.  God is so good!

 

 

 

12 Facts about Saint Padre Pio by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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The incorrupt body of Saint Padre Pio.

1 – BIRTH AND FAMILY:  Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in Pietrelcina, Italy on May 25, 1887. He was the fourth of eight children of Grazio Maria Forgione and his wife, Maria Giuseppa De Nunzio.  His family was very religious and attended daily mass.

2 – SHEPHERD AND CAPUCHIN PREPARATION:  In his youth, Padre Pio tended a handful of sheep. At the age of ten he contracted typhoid fever and nearly died. After his recovery he wished to become a Capuchin friar, and his father thereafter spent several years in sailing back and forth to America (a common practice at that time) to obtain work in order to finance more schooling for Padre Pio, in preparation for the priesthood.

3 – CHILDHOOD VISIONS AND VICTIM OF DIVINE LOVE:  In childhood Padre Pio experienced paranormal visions with such frequency that he took the episodes for granted and assumed that others experienced similar phenomena. He confided this information only later in life to a priest and was surprised to learn that such occurrence is rare. Padre Pio also suffered from a desire to be a “victim of divine love,” a religious concept whereby a person wishes intensely to endure constant and severe suffering, to atone for the failings of mankind.

4 – BECOMES A FRANCISCAN (CAPUCHIN):  On January 6, 1903 at the age of 16, he departed to the town of Morcone to join the friary of Saints Philip and James of the Capuchin Order of the Friars Minor, a “mendicant” order. (Capuchins live in poverty by design; they own nothing and live essentially as beggars in the world.) To symbolize their poverty Capuchins never shave their faces and never wear shoes—only open leather sandals. They never wear hats but attach brown woolen hoods to their garments. They spend a significant portion of each day in prayer, maintain long periods of silence, and always travel in pairs. At the friary, Padre Pio lived in a cell furnished with a table, chair, washstand, and water jug; he slept on a cornhusk mattress. He received the Capuchin garments in a ceremony on January 22, 1903. On that day the former Francesco Forgione adopted the name of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.  As a symbol of austerity, Capuchin friars never used surnames, thus for legal purposes Padre Pio signed his name as “Padre Pio of Pietrelcina al secolo Francesco Forgione.”  He took the name of “Pio” in honor of Pope Pius I, whose relic he often saw at his local chapel.

5 – SUFFERING SERVANT ORDAINED A PRIEST:  Throughout his lifetime Padre Pio suffered from a severe but undiagnosed stomach disorder that caused persistent pain and vomiting. Beginning in December of 1908 his superiors sent him home on numerous occasions. Inexplicably the symptoms disappeared each time he departed the friary; transfers to friaries at other locations failed to alleviate the symptoms. At the age of 23 he traveled from his hometown of Pietrelcina to the cathedral of Benevento in Morcone. There Archbishop Paolo Schinosi ordained Padre Pio as a Roman Catholic priest on August 10, 1910.

6 – RECIEVES STIGMATA:  Padre Pio developed marks of stigmata initially in 1910 at San Nicandro.  A doctor examined Padre Pio and diagnosed tuberculosis of the skin. Following the medical diagnosis Padre Pio returned to his hometown for a time. On October 28, 1911, he moved to the friary of San Nicandro at Venafro, where Padre Agostino was vicar. Padre Pio was personally humiliated by the painful markings and kept his hands hidden at all times. The wounds disappeared for a time, only to reappear more acutely nearly a decade later.  The Stigmata reflects the wounds of Jesus on the cross.  The hands and feet and side all bleed.   Padre Pio was the first Priest to receive the Stigmata (St. Francis of Assisi was a Deacon).

7 – VISIONS AND BI-LOCATION AND LEVITATION:  Padre Pio received visitations from the Virgin Mary, Jesus, and angels. In addition to the visitations and stigmata, Padre Pio was reportedly prone to bi-location phenomena, appearing in two locations simultaneously. The most remarkable of these reported incidents occurred on January 18, 1905 shortly before midnight. Padre Pio was in the choir at the friary when, according to his description, his mind traveled to a location in Udine where a child was being born prematurely just moments before the death of her father. In 1923 he met the girl and “recognized” her. The girl’s mother recalled very clearly the death of her husband and the vision of a Capuchin monk in Udine on the night when the girl was born.  Also, Padre Pio had been observed levitating during a period of prayerful ecstasy.

8 – PADRE PIO AS AN ARMY PRIVATE:  With the outbreak of World War I in November 1914, many Capuchins were drafted into the Italian army. Padre Pio was drafted into the 10th Company of the Italian Medical Corps in Naples, under the name of Private Francesco Forgione. His stomach discomfort continued, and army doctors diagnosed chronic bronchitis. They granted him a medical leave of absence, and he returned to Pietrelcina.

9 – STIGMATA FOR LIFE:  Beginning in August 1918, Padre Pio developed permanent, painful stigmata that bled intermittently for the next 50 years and disappeared only a few days before his death. A series of doctors examined the wounds of Padre Pio and verified the existence of the condition, but left no written comment or explanation. Luigi Romanelli, chief physician of the City Hospital of Barletta, examined the priest’s wounds five times over the course of one year. Professor Giuseppe Bastianelli, physician to Pope Benedict XV agreed that the wounds indeed existed but made no other comment. Angelo Maria Merla of San Giovanni Rotondo noted that the wounds were not tubercular in origin. The wounds bled severely at times, although medical examiners reported no fever, nor anemia or change of blood pressure associated with the condition. According to witnesses the wounds of Padre Pio emitted a distinctively fragrant odor, and all other abrasions to Padre Pio’s body healed normally during those years, including an incision to repair a hernia.  As with the earlier incident, Padre Pio felt humiliation at the visible stigmata, but stated nevertheless that he welcomed the pain for all mankind; his greatest wish was to die.

10 – POPULARITY, VATICAN INTERVENTION AND PROPHECY OF A FUTURE POPE:   Padre Pio became very popular with the people he encountered.  They began to see that he was capable of performing miracles.  Many healings were attributed to him.  His popularity became a source of concern for the Church and the Vatican began to restrict his activities to minimize public interaction. Padre Pio himself was uncomfortable with his newfound popularity and the attention he received because of his stigmata. A Church investigation into his stigmata concluded that his condition was not faked.  By 1934, the Vatican began to change its attitude towards Padre Pio and he was again allowed to perform public duties. He was allowed to preach, despite never being officially licensed by the Church to do so. Pope Pius XI encouraged people to visit him.  In 1947, Fr. Karol Wojtyla visited Padre Pio who prophetically told him he would rise to the highest post in the Church.” Fr. Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II in 1978.

11- INTERNATIONAL FAME:  Padre Pio became internationally famous. He was known for his piety, charity and the quality of his preaching. He famously advised, “Pray, hope and don’t worry.”  Besides his stomach problems and stigmata, he had other illnesses as well, including cancer which was miraculously healed after just two treatments.  However his arthritis, which plagued him in his later years, never went away.

12 – DEATH AND SAINTHOOD:  Padre Pio died of an apparent heart attack at the friary of Our Lady of Grace in the Italian village of San Giovanni Rotondo on the morning of September 23, 1968. Over 100,000 people attended his funeral.  After his death, the friars and other associates were eager to begin the lengthy process of canonization, whereby the mystic might be named a saint of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II beatified the memory of Padre Pio at a Mass on May 2, 1999 in St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, as a final step in preparation for sainthood.  Pope John Paul II recognized Padre Pio as a Saint on June 16, 2002.  Over 300,000 people attended.  His feast day is September 23. He is the patron of civil defense volunteers, adolescents, and the village of Pietrelcina.

Based on information from encyclopedia.com and Catholic.org.  Photo by Doug Lawrence

 

 

 

3 EASY THINGS EVERY DAD SHOULD BE DOING – By Adam Minihan

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Full disclaimer, I am a “new dad”.  I don’t have 5, 10, or 15 years of experience under my belt. I have 4 children, a 3 year old son Luke, a 1.5 year old son Jude, one baby in heaven, and one baby on the way! I am constantly learning how to be the best dad I can be, with many of these learning moments coming from my faults. With that being said, I am not writing this attempting to fool anyone into thinking I have this whole dad thing figured out (I mean, we haven’t even hit the rebellious teenage years yet.).  Nonetheless, I write this with conviction as I have witnessed many authentic, God-fearing, wife-loving, child-raising fathers in my life, my own father being a prime example.

Here’s 3 easy things every dad should be doing:

1. Love your wife. Children are so observant. I am constantly amazed when I hear one of my boys attempting to hum a song I was humming 2 minutes ago.  Or after dinner when I start taking dishes to the sink, being followed by Luke and/or Jude, with a cup in hand, hurling his cup into the sink attempting to do his part. Our kids watch and replicate so many of our actions which is why they need to see their dad loving their mom.  My sons will learn how to treat women by observing how I treat their mother.  Likewise, if I am blessed to have a daughter(s), she will learn how she should be respected and the inherent dignity she has as a woman by the amount of respect and dignity I show her mother.

2. Have family prayer.  Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton famously said, “The family that prays together stays together”.  If you don’t have a family prayer routine, start small and continue building up. As the spiritual leader of the home, lead your family in prayer before meals. At first it may seem awkward and uncomfortable but typically that discomfort is only on your end. Push through that discomfort and it will soon become as natural as breathing.

When it’s the kiddo’s bedtime, we all have nightly routines. Take a bath, brush teeth, comb hair, get pajamas on, and maybe a bedtime story. Before that bedtime story, you, your wife and children kneel down by their bed and have a bedtime prayer. It can be as simple as, “Now I lay me, down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.” It’s quick and easy but sets an example of praying before bed… an example that I carried on from when my parents taught me.

3. Bless your children. Before my boys go to sleep or any time I have to leave for a couple days on business, I make the sign of the cross on their forehead while praying, “May almighty God bless and keep you and may you always stay under the protection of our Mother Mary.” It’s quick and simple. Takes me all of 5 seconds. Our Lord ordained men as heads of the Domestic Church, which is a miniature of the Universal Church. This means each man is a priest of his home. A great way to embrace the role as a priest of your family is by blessing your children. My boys have come to love and expect this nightly ritual and always give me a happy grin as I pray it. (For a great book on this topic, Click here.)

 


About Adam Minihan:
Adam is the Vice President of an award-winning local Catholic radio station and the host of The Catholic Man Show. Adam and his best friend/co-host, David Niles, had 0 experience in the radio business before being presented with the opportunity to start a Catholic station in 2014. Taking a leap of faith, they launched St. Michael Catholic Radio and it has now grown into covering the whole Tulsa Market, airing multiple local programs, and carrying EWTN content.  Adam is married to his beautiful bride Haylee and they have 2 young boys Luke and Jude. They live in Tulsa, OK where they are active in many Catholic bible studies, church functions, apologetic groups, and Cursillo. You can follow Adam on twitter
 or like St. Michael Catholic radio on Facebook!

 

St. Martha Is Not So Very Well Understood by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 807Church built at the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus

In all actuality, I believe that Martha has been given somewhat of a “bum rap” over the ages.  Yes, in the Gospel account of Martha and Mary, Jesus does seem to chastise her some for being anxious about serving, but if you really look at what happened, and the other Gospel accounts of Martha, you see a picture of a very faith filled servant who really loved Jesus.  You can also see how much Jesus really loved her.  Martha and Mary and Lazarus, all siblings, were all loved by Jesus and it is apparent that he spent a great deal of time in their home.  John 11:5 says, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister Mary, and Lazarus.”  They were special to Him.  It is also interesting when the three names are listed in scripture, Martha always comes first.

Beginning in Luke 10:39, we hear how Jesus goes to the home of Martha and Mary and Lazarus and how Martha immediately begins preparations to serve him.  She was definitely being a good hostess.  In Middle Eastern culture, this is a VERY important thing.  Meanwhile, Mary just sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him.  Now Martha became quite anxious about all that had to be done, and how Mary was not helping, and she asked Jesus to tell Mary to help in being a good hostess.  Jesus then tells Martha that she is too anxious and worried and that Mary was doing the better thing.  If you look at the wording, Jesus is saying this in a loving, albeit difficult, way.  He said this out of love for Martha.   He didn’t want her to be so caught up in worry that she forgot about Him.  We can really learn a lesson from this.  Worry and anxiety usually do little to help us in our walk with Jesus.  They usually cause us physical and emotional damages.  We need to learn how to serve Jesus, but without anxiety.

The next time we hear about Martha in the Gospels, it is apparent that she learned the lesson that Jesus was teaching.  Martha is grieving the death of her brother, Lazarus, and even though she is sitting in the house with family and guests, when she hears that Jesus is nearby, she leaves the home to meet Jesus.  Mary stays home with the guests.  When Martha meets Jesus, she shows great faith and courage.  She tells Jesus that she fully understands the great power that He has and knows that even now, He can show that power.  It is an interesting conversation that Jesus and Martha have.  Check it out in John 11: 18 plus.  In the conversation, Martha shows her strong faith and Jesus leads her along to show even stronger faith.  The faith that Martha shows leads Jesus to declare that He is The Resurrection and the Life.  He then does one of His most powerful miracles and raises Lazarus from the dead.  We too need to have the faith that Martha shows.  We too need to let Jesus help us grow in our faith so we can see the powerful miracles He does around us.

The next time we hear about Martha, Jesus has come to visit her, and Mary, and the newly risen Lazarus.  The Gospel concentrates on how Mary anoints Jesus with costly perfume, while it simply says, “Martha served”.   This implies a great peace about her service.  There is no more anxiety, but simply service.   That is our call today, to simply serve Jesus and not be anxious or worried.  Martha, very much filled with faith, is now a true servant of God.  We should ask her intercession to help us in doing that.

The name Martha is not very common today, and I think that part of the reason is that Martha has, as I said earlier, been given a “bum rap”.  I was fortunate enough to have the Lord lead me to a Martha, my wife of 47 plus years.  She is somewhat like the Martha of the Gospel in that she loves to take care of the home, cleaning often.  I never had to worry about dropping in with a friend, the house was always tidy and clean.  And, like St. Martha, my wife worries and has some anxiety.  But also, like St. Martha, she is a person of great faith and I know that I would not be where I am today, spiritually, and physically, without her.  Service and faith are a great combination.   May St. Martha always teach us that.

Freedom and Obligation – by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, adapted by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas delivered the 2016 Commencement Address at Hillsdale College this year.   I feel that he had a lot of great things to say for our current generation.  As a matter of fact, his statements are great for all generations.   Personally, I am very disappointed in many of the directions that this country and this culture are taking.  Justice Thomas is too, and shed some light on some of our difficulties and made recommendations to overcome them.  The link to his full address on the Hillsdale College website is given below if you wish to read the whole thing.   I have taken excerpts of some of the most important parts for this article.  For God and Country.

This has been a most difficult term at the Court. The difficulty is underscored by the sudden and tragic passing of my colleague and friend, Justice Antonin Scalia. I think it is fitting to say a few words about him. Many will focus on his intellect and his legal prowess. I do not demur on either count. But there is so much more than that. When I think of Justice Scalia, I think of the good man who I could instinctively trust during my first days on the Court. He was, in the tradition of the South of my youth, a man of his word, a man of character. Over the almost 25 years that we were together on the Court, I think we made it a better place for each other. I know that he did for me. He was kind to me when it mattered most. He is, and will be, sorely missed.

As the years since I attended college edge toward a half century, I feel a bit out of place talking with college students or recent graduates. So much has changed since I left college in 1971. Things that were considered firm have long since lost their vitality, and much that seemed inconceivable is now firmly or universally established. Hallmarks of my youth, such as patriotism and religion, seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts. So in a sense, I feel woefully out of place speaking at commencement ceremonies. My words will perhaps seem somewhat vintage in character rather than current or up-to-date. In that context, I admit to being unapologetically Catholic, unapologetically patriotic, and unapologetically a constitutionalist.

In my youth, we had a small farm. I am convinced that the time I spent there had much to do with my firm resolve never to farm again. Work seemed to spring eternal, like the weeds that consumed so much of our time and efforts. One of the messages constantly conveyed in those days was our obligation to take care of the land and to use it to produce food for ourselves and for others. If there was to be independence, self-sufficiency, or freedom, then we first had to understand, accept, and discharge our responsibilities. The latter were the necessary (but not always sufficient) antecedents or precursors of the former. The only guarantee was that if you did not discharge your responsibilities, there could be no independence, no self-sufficiency, and no freedom.

In a broader context, we were obligated in our neighborhood to be good neighbors so that the neighborhood would thrive. Whether there was to be a clean, thriving neighborhood was directly connected to our efforts. So there was always, to our way of thinking, a connection between the things we valued most and our personal obligations or efforts. There could be no freedom without each of us discharging our responsibilities. When we heard the words duty, honor, and country, no more needed to be said. But that is a bygone era. Today, we rarely hear of our personal responsibilities in discussions of broad notions such as freedom or liberty. It is as though freedom and liberty exist wholly independent of anything we do, as if they are predestined.

It is all too commonly thought that we all deserve the same reward or the same status, notwithstanding the differences in our efforts or in our abilities. This is why we hear so often about what is deserved or who is entitled. By this way of thinking, the student who treats spring break like a seven-day bacchanalia is entitled to the same success as the conscientious classmate who works and studies while he plays. And isn’t this same sense of entitlement often applied today to freedom.  At the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Benjamin Franklin was asked what the gathering had accomplished. “A republic,” he replied, “if you can keep it.” Nearly a century later, in a two-minute speech at Gettysburg, President Lincoln spoke similarly. It is for the current generation, he said, to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

So many who have gone before us have done precisely that, dedicating their lives to preserving and enhancing our nation both in war and in peace, taking care that those who have given the last full measure of devotion have not done so in vain.

America’s Founders and many successive generations believed in natural rights. To establish a government based on the consent of the governed, as the Declaration of Independence makes clear, they gave up only that portion of their rights necessary to create a limited government of the kind needed to secure all of their rights. The Founders then structured that government so that it could not jeopardize the liberty that flowed from natural rights. Even though this liberty is inherent, it is not guaranteed. Indeed, the founding documents of our country are an assertion of this liberty against the King of England—arguably the most powerful man in the world at the time—at the risk of the Founders’ lives, fortunes, and sacred honor. Over the lifespan of our great country, many occasions have arisen that required this liberty, and the form of government that ensures it, to be defended if it was to survive.

At the risk of understating what is necessary to preserve liberty and our form of government, I think more and more that it depends on good citizens discharging their daily duties and obligations.  Having been a young graduate myself, I think it is hard enough to solve your own problems, which can sometimes seem to defy solution. And in addressing your own obligations and responsibilities in the right way, you actually do an important part on behalf of liberty and free government.

I often wondered why my grandparents remained such model citizens, even when our country’s failures were so obvious. In the arrogance of my early adult life, I challenged my grandfather and doubted America’s ideals. He bluntly asked: “So, where else would you live?” Though not a lettered man, he knew that our constitutional ideals remained our best hope, and that we should work to achieve them rather than undermine them. “Son,” he said, “don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” That is, don’t discard what is precious along with what is tainted.

Today, when it seems that grievance rather than responsibility is the main means of elevation, my grandfather’s beliefs may sound odd or discordant. But he and others like him at the time resolved to conduct themselves in a way consistent with America’s ideals. They were law-abiding, hardworking, and disciplined. They discharged their responsibilities to their families and neighbors as best they could. They taught us that despite unfair treatment, we were to be good citizens and good people. If we were to have a functioning neighborhood, we first had to be good neighbors. If we were to have a good city, state, and country, we first had to be good citizens. The same went for our school and our church. We were to keep in mind the corporal works of mercy and the great commandment: “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” Being wronged by others did not justify reciprocal conduct. Right was right, and two wrongs did not make a right. What we wanted to do did not define what was right—nor, I might add, did our capacious litany of wants define liberty. Rather, what was right defined what we were required to do and what we were permitted to do. It defined our duties and our responsibilities. Whether those duties meant cutting our neighbor’s lawn, visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, or going off to war as my brother did, we were to discharge them honorably.

As I admitted at the outset, I am of a different time. I knew no one, for example, who was surprised at President Kennedy’s famous exhortation in his 1961 Inaugural Address: “Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” That sentiment was as common as saying the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem, as pervasive as shopping at Army-Navy surplus stores. Today there is much more focus on our rights and on what we are owed, and much less on our obligations and duties—unless, of course, it is about our duty to submit to some new proposed policy.

My grandfather often reminded us that if we didn’t work, we didn’t eat, and that if we didn’t plant, we couldn’t harvest. There is always a relationship between responsibilities and benefits. In agrarian societies, that is more obvious. As society becomes more complex and specialized, it is more difficult to discern. But it is equally true. If you continue to run up charges on your credit card, at some point you reach your credit limit. If you continue to make withdrawals from your savings account, you eventually deplete your funds. Likewise, if we continue to consume the benefits of a free society without replenishing or nourishing that society, we will eventually deplete that as well.  If we are content to let others do the  work of replenishing and defending liberty while we consume the benefits, we will someday run out of other people’s willingness to sacrifice—or even out of courageous people willing to make the sacrifice.

.               As the years have moved swiftly by, I have often reflected on the important citizenship lessons of my life. For the most part, it was the unplanned array of small things. There was the kind gesture from a neighbor. There was my grandmother dividing our dinner because someone showed up unannounced. There was the stranger stopping to help us get our crops out of the field before a big storm. There were the nuns who believed in us and lived in our neighborhood. There was the librarian who brought books to Mass so that I would not be without reading on the farm. Small gestures such as these become large lessons about how to live our lives. We watched and learned what it means to be a good person, a good neighbor, a good citizen. Who will be watching you? And what will you be teaching them?

I implore you to take a few minutes to thank those who made it possible for you to come this far—your parents, your teachers, your pastor. These are the people who have shown you how to sacrifice for those you love, even when that sacrifice is not always appreciated. As you go through life, try to be a person whose actions teach others how to be better people and better citizens. Reach out to the shy person who is not so popular. Stand up for others when they’re being treated unfairly. Take the time to listen to the friend who’s having a difficult time. Do not hide your faith and your beliefs under a bushel basket, especially in this world that seems to have gone mad with political correctness. Treat others the way you would like to be treated if you stood in their shoes.

I have every faith that you will be a beacon of light for others to follow, like “a city on a hill [that] cannot be hidden.” May God bless each of you now and throughout your lives, and may God bless America.

 

Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, a publication of Hillsdale College.

Link to Hillsdale College:  http://hillsdale.edu

 

 

 

 

A Catholic – Christian Response to Violence- by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 344This is the entrance to modern day Bethlehem, the city where the Prince of Peace was born.  It is only one reminder of how violence changes things for the worse.

Sometimes I find it so difficult to face the news of the day.  I know that there are so many good people in the world today that are doing so many good things, but then we are confronted with some people who just seem to be totally influenced by pure evil.  The recent attack in Dallas, Texas has caused me to write this post.  Five Police Officers were killed and six more wounded while they were trying to keep peace at a protest against police violence.   Police Officers have one of the toughest jobs in the world and the vast majority of them do an absolutely fantastic job.  I was really struck by the fact that when the gunfire began at the Dallas rally, Police Officers began shielding, with their own lives, the people that were protesting against them.  That is just an example of how the Police Officer operates.  He or she is trained to Protect and Serve.  In response they are often treated very poorly.

I think that this is just a small portion of the problem we have today.  People seem to think that acts of violence are a way of achieving certain goals.  We then throw in to that racial bias and you can see how messed up we really are.  We have groups like Black Lives Matter who say that Police unfairly attack blacks.  Now, there may be some occasions when this happens, but that is rare.  In 2015 Police Officers had to take the lives of 494 white people and 258 black people.  That hardly seems racist.  It is absolutely terrible that any lives had to be taken, white or black.  But, violence is a large part of our society.  There are some people who believe that making gun ownership illegal would solve that, but as a former law enforcement officer myself, I can tell you that people will get the guns whether they are legal or not.  There are plenty of statistics to show that certain cities that have outlawed guns still have a high rate of people being shot.  We really need to go down much further in to the problem to try to stem violence.

Violence seems so present in our society.  I used to work in the Family Court and I could not believe what some husbands and wives did to each other.  Even young children seemed to act out in fits of violence.  It is hard to find a movie or tv show that doesn’t have a great deal of violence in it.  I look at the video games out there, and they are filled with violence.  This isn’t something new.  Even when I was growing up the cartoons had a lot of violence.  We seem to be a people that are fascinated with violence.  Along with that, there seems to be a shrinking respect for LIFE in all of its forms.   Here in the United States over one million mothers take the lives of their children through abortion each year. Soon to be St. Theresa of Calcutta said, “We must not be surprised when we hear of murders, of killings, of wars, of hatred. If a mother can kill her own child, what is left but for us to kill each other?”  Euthanasia seems to be growing too.  We can’t be a people that JUST say, Black Lives Matter; we need to be a people that say, EVERY LIFE MATTERS.

So, as Catholics growing in our faith, how do we deal with this?  First of all, PRAYER is very powerful.  I was so moved at mass today when our Pastor dedicated the whole mass (including selecting special Eucharistic Prayers) to ending violence and establishing PEACE.  We must make it our constant prayer to ask for peace.  We also must change our lives to turn away from violence.  Instead of watching those extremely violent movies and TV shows, turn towards ones that offer less violence.  In our every day actions, we need to try to be more peaceful.  When that car driver cuts you off, don’t swear or raise a finger at him, pray for him.  We need to tone down yelling in our relationships within our family.  We must try to do things that lead toward peace.  Let us recall the words of Pope Francis, “May the God of peace arouse in all an authentic desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence cannot be overcome with violence. Violence is overcome with peace.”

Our Church has given us tools to help keep us from being influenced by the evil one who loves to lead us towards violence and death and disunity.  Attending mass is one of the best ways to grow in to the person Jesus wants us to be.  We become more like him, when we receive him.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation helps not only us, but the people we live with.  I already mentioned prayer, but I want to mention it again because it is so powerful.  I especially recommend asking Our Blessed Mother, Mary to intercede for us.  She loves us all as her children and wants us to live together in peace and in harmony.  We call her the Queen of Peace.   We must follow the Church’s lead in calling all people to respect LIFE in all of its form.  Respect for LIFE should be at the heart of who we are.  Be a people who say, EVERY LIFE MATTERS.  Stand up for the Christian values that have been taught us and live them out.  When we end mass we are told, “GO FORTH”; that means that we have now been empowered by the Lord and sent out to make a difference in this world.  We really need to change this world.

 

 

What God Has Joined Together – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

KTWeddingEarlier this year I presided at the wedding of my Godson (through RCIA) and his lovely wife.

My wife and I just celebrated our 47th wedding anniversary.  So far, for June, I have presided at three different weddings.  I really enjoy presiding at weddings because I love to see the joy of the couple and I know how important weddings are to the Church.  I thought it would be a great time to look at this gift that God has given us in Marriage.  For us as Catholics, the Church tells us that The Sacrament of Matrimony is one of the seven sacraments of the Church.  We then immediately know that, as a Sacrament, it is an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace.   This Sacrament of Marriage is one part of the two “Mission” sacraments, along with the Sacrament of Holy Orders.  We speak of having a vocation to Holy Orders (Bishop, Priest or Deacon) and/or a vocation to Matrimony.  In actuality, deacons can have both.   They both are so important in the mission of the Church.  Remember that Vocation literally means a calling from God.   Let us look at this special calling from God when we discern that we are called to be married.

Unfortunately today the Church has seen a drop in the number of people who want to get married in the Church.  So many young people have pushed God to the side in their lives and a Church wedding isn’t that important to them.  I find this to be sad, as I believe very strongly that when a couple enters in to the Sacrament of Marriage, it is a forever gift of Divine Grace to them.  I certainly would not want to say that people who marry outside of the Sacrament are not helped out by God in their marriage.  God works through all things.  However, those people who know what Sacramental Grace is all about, would definitely want to have the Sacrament of Marriage.  I also know that the Church, because it holds this Sacrament up so high, makes it somewhat hard to receive it, if the right conditions are not met.  Those who have had a previous marriage know that they must first deal with that previous marriage by either annulment or “defect of form”.  Each case varies so much that it is impossible to cover it all in this article, but your local priest or deacon will help you.

In the book of Genesis we hear how God first creates man and the animals but then sees that man needs something more than animals to fulfill his life.  It is then that He creates woman from the very side of man (bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh).  Genesis also clearly states that God is VERY pleased with what He has created.  Genesis also tells us that when God created man and woman He created THEM in His very image.  For me, that means that if I really want to see the image of God, I cannot look at just a man or just a woman.  I need to look at both of them to see His image.  A man and woman joined together in marriage reflect who God is.  The love and care and concern and nurturing and fruitfulness of their relationship reveal God himself.  God created us as equals, but also quite different.  As the French say, Vive la difference (literally, long live the difference).  We cannot help but to see that the idea for marriage between a man and a woman comes to us directly from God at the very beginning of creation.

Our God is a God of LIFE!  He decided that we would join in with Him in co-creating Life.  He made the difference between man and woman a means of bringing forth new life.  Anyone who has been pregnant or been around someone who is pregnant cannot help but to be in awe at this gift of life.  When a man and woman come together to bring forth life, they are living their own source and summit of their marriage (yes, I know these words are often used concerning the Eucharist which is the high point of our Christian life and worship).  It is definitely the high point of their call.  However, just like God, married life should be totally surrounded by LOVE.  A man and woman who are called by God to come to the Sacrament of Matrimony are called by the great LOVE that they have for each other.  It is this LOVE, which is the very essence of God that brings LIFE in to a marriage.

Life in a marriage is much more than just having children, although that is certainly important.  Life in a marriage means that the man and wife help to bring LIFE to each other, every day.  They are there to help each grow in relationship to each other and in relationship to God.  They are there to support and encourage each other and to assist each other in the ministries that God calls them to.  In my marriage, each of us has different ministries.  Some we do separate from each other, and some we do together.  No matter what, we support each other in our ministries.  Certainly one important ministry is raising our children.  This is a joy filled, but difficult, endeavor.  We need each other to assist one another and support one another.  But, we also need to have time alone for each other.  When I do marriage preparation (Pre-Cana), I always tell the couples that they need to have time alone with each other.  There should always be some kind of “date night”.  I know that this is sometimes difficult to do, but we really need to do it.  Let grandparents or aunts and uncles or friends come in to watch your children while you go out.  If money is tight, you don’t need to spend a lot.  Sometimes a walk on a beach or in the woods, or downtown, is all you need.  The Church realizes that the family is the basic building block of the Church and the bond between the man and woman is the basic building block of the family.  We also know that marriage is a rich symbol of the relationship that Jesus, the groom, has with his Church, the bride.  When we see man and wife loving each other and caring for each other and supporting each other, we can see what Jesus does for the Church.

I don’t think that it is an accident that the first miracle recorded in the Gospels that Jesus performs is the turning water in to wine at the Wedding Feast of Cana.  Jesus, in doing this, shows us that with him we can have the very best wine, not just some lower grade.  With Jesus in our marriage, we can have the very best marriage.  One that people will recognize as a gift from God.  Jesus talks about marriage in his Gospels.  He recalls the Genesis account on the creation of woman and said that “therefore a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and THE TWO SHALL BECOME ONE FLESH”.    He then tells them that “Consequently they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man separate.”  This is why the Church takes such a tough stand on divorce.

Marriage, as good as it is, is still difficult at times.  Having two different people living together in the same space and having to make important decisions is not easy.   That is where God’s grace comes in.  I have no doubt in my mind that if my wife and I hadn’t invited Jesus in to our marriage, we would not be together today.  Now, after 47 years of marriage, I can tell you that even counting the difficult times, it is the best thing that I have done.  I give thanks to God for the way He works through both of us and I pray that you, in your marriage, will open yourselves up to inviting Jesus in more and more each day.  With Jesus, marriage can be full and sparkling and enjoyable, like the very best wine.

 

A Father of 23 Children Looks at Father’s Day – by Deacon Bob Mongillo

DadMongillo2Deacon Bob and Barbara Mongillo and their family

When Deacon Marty asked me to write about being a father, and fatherhood, I was both honored and humbled that he asked me.  As I was thinking about what to write, in a limited amount of words, I began to put my thoughts together.

As I began to compose this, I am sitting in the surgery waiting room at St Charles Hospital after just kissing my daughter Ivana good bye as she went into surgery.  And two thoughts came into my mind; fatherhood is sometimes when you have to make choices and put those you love dearly in the hands of professionals, who are Gods helping and gifted hands here on Earth.

Today, Friday, Ivana has surgery and Kyle graduates from grammar school.  How I wish I could split myself in two but that is not possible.  So, one of the characteristics of being a father is making choices.  I so wanted to see Kyle walk down that aisle, after learning how to walk after 10 years, and being a successful recipient of a kidney transplant almost 4 years ago. Thank God for technology!!

I can probably be most effective about my experiences of being a father by telling you my story.  Next week it will be 36 years since I married my childhood sweetheart, Barbara.  Together we have 23 children. 6 biological children and 17 adopted special needs children. But we never make any distinction between the two. They are all Mongillo’s.  I love being a Dad. I never imagined that I would be a father to this number, but if I had to do it again, I would do it all again the same way.

My Dad was a traditional Dad. He was the breadwinner and Mom was the nurturer.  I am completely the opposite of that.  I love being a part of the everyday lives of my children.  I love sharing in their triumphs and always support them and sometimes have to get them back on their feet when the chips are down.

I always try to see the good and positive in each one of them.  I also strive to give them wings so they can too can become better Moms and Dads.  And, soon becoming a Grandpa for the sixth time, is a gift.

Both Barbara and I try to plant a seed in each one of them.  And we are blessed to see the fruit of these seeds in their actions and words.  Being a Dad is a true gift from God.  There are not enough words to describe this role. Being successful in my career was important, but far less important than being a good father.  God has been good to me and blessed me.  He has helped us in our time of need.  When three of our children were called home to God, He gave us, and continues to give us, the strength to cope with loss.  So, as we set aside this special day to honor Dads, I wish all the Dads blessings today and every day.

DadMongilo familyBob and Barbara’s children in their home.

DadHookedOnA very special gift.

 

Deacon Bob Mongillo is currently a deacon at St. Francis de Sales Parish in Patchogue, NY.   He was Born in Woodhaven, Queens, NY and married Barbara in June 1980.  He is the father of 23 children.  He lived in East Meadow for 22 years before moving to Patchogue.  He was ordained a deacon in May 2001 from St Raphael’s, East Meadow.  He served as Deacon, Business Mgr and Director of Parish Social Ministry, St Rosalie parish in Hampton Bays, NY  for 10 years.

A Look at Memorial Day – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Arlington-National-Cemetery

Memorial Day, and the whole Memorial Day weekend isn’t just about the beginning of summer and having great BBQ parties.  It is a time for us to stop and remember and pray for those men and women who sacrificed their lives in service to our country.  Pray also for their families and friends who still miss them.  I think about my grandmother who sent all three of her sons off to war in Europe (WWII).  My birth-father was in the Normandy Invasion and even though he physically came home, he suffered from “shell shock” (now called PTSD).  His brother, my uncle Milo, came home missing one leg.  My birth-father’s youngest brother, Karlo died in WWII in Italy when he was only seventeen years old.  I can’t help but to see how this has affected my family.  My birth-father and my uncle Milo suffered a lifelong disability, and my uncle Karlo never had the chance to get married, have children, or live life.  War is terrible.  Unfortunately, mankind is still violent and we need to have armies to protect us.  I myself am a U.S. Army Vietnam era veteran and proud of my service, but I always pray for PEACE.  I ask you to join me in honoring those who gave up their lives for freedom and to also pray for an end of war and terrorism.   Remember that this freedom that we have, came at a great cost.  I think that this weekend is a great time to look at some statistics that reflect that cost.  Below I have cited the war death statistics for the major wars since WWI.  Please note that there have been numerous deaths in smaller conflicts not listed.  This does not include those who were wounded.

Some very sobering statistics:

WWI                                      116,516

WWII                                     405,394

KOREA                                    52,246

VIETNAM                                58,209

AFGHANISTAN                        2,229

IRAQ                                          4,488

ALSO:  Every day approximately 22 veterans commit suicide.  This is part of the price of war.  We need to do whatever we can to keep this from happening.

I would like to ask you to join me in a prayer.

Memorial Day Prayer – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Heavenly Father, you inspire strength in men and women to protect and to fight for freedom.  On this Memorial Day we remember, in a very special way, all those men and women who gave their life so that others might be free.  We think of the words of your son Jesus when he said, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Father, we offer you a prayer of thanksgiving for the sacrifice that these men and women have made.  We thank you for the freedom that we have because of them.  We thank you for the freedom that so many other countries have because of them.  We ask you Father to bless their family and friends who miss them so much.  Help them to take comfort in knowing that their lives helped bring about freedom.  Help all of us to never take for granted the freedom that we enjoy, or forget the tremendous price paid for that freedom.  We earnestly ask that war stop.  We ask you to help all of the leaders of the world to find ways of seeking peace instead of war.  We ask you to soften the hearts of those who want to take freedom away or who want to impose their own rules upon others.  We ask you to destroy terrorism.  We know that there are so many threats to our freedom.  Help and protect all those who currently serve in our Armed Forces.  May we always be proud of them.  May you lead and guide our Country in all things.

The Two Most Sacred Places in the World by A.J. Avila

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Goodness, how God loves women!

God loves women so much; I’m tempted to say He’s unfair to men.

What is God’s greatest work of creation? It’s not stars and planets. It’s not plants or animals. It’s sentient beings with immortal souls. And we know of only two kinds of those: angels and humans.

Well, angels don’t reproduce. Cherubim might be portrayed as chubby little babies, but they’re nothing of the sort. Angels don’t have sexual relations with each other. Angels don’t get pregnant, and they don’t give birth.

But women do. God has allowed women the biggest role (next to His own) in the incredible work of bringing new immortal souls into creation.

Oh, men have their part in that, and I don’t mean to downplay it. But it is a fact that if, after a man and women have relations, the man gets hit by a bus, any baby can survive that. If the woman gets hit by a bus, however, both mother and child die. Her role, biologically speaking, is far more crucial.

Twice I’ve been pregnant, and both times I was amazed at what I was doing. Those first little butterfly-like kicks in my body signaled that the life growing inside me was indeed a separate entity. In time the kicks grew stronger, and I could sometimes even tell where an elbow or a knee was. Yes, I had morning sickness, swollen ankles, and of course a painful labor at the end of it. But it was worth it. Oh, how it was worth it! You can never feel as close to another human being as you do to the child growing inside your body.

Sometimes I think the reason God allows only men to become priests is because He had to give them something to make up for denying them all of that.

And when you think about it more deeply you can see that these two roles: mothers and Fathers (as in Catholic priests) are complementary. Mothers, through childbirth, bring the people to God. Fathers, through the Eucharist, bring God to the people. As Dr. Peter Kreeft once put it, the two most sacred places in the world are wombs and altars.

Only once has this role been changed, and it was for a very special occasion. The Blessed Virgin Mary, through childbirth, brought God to the people.

My own mother has been gone almost ten years now. So that means I have two mothers in heaven: my biological mother and the mother Jesus gave me from the cross.

This Mothers’ Day let us pay homage to both of our mothers, for they both co-operated with God’s great work of creation.

Miracles from Heaven by Deacon Marty McIndoe

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“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”   Albert Einstein

 

My wife and I just saw the movie, “Miracles from Heaven” starring Jennifer Garner, Kylie Rogers, Martin Henderson and Queen Latifah.  It was certainly a movie that I would recommend to anyone.  It is based on a true story about an initially happy Christian family living in Texas.  When the movie opens, everything seems as it should be.  There is good family communication, a beautiful farm that they live on, and every Sunday they attend an active Evangelical Church with good music and worship.  The father even says to the mother, “this is the good life”.  Then, the ten year old daughter, Anna, becomes ill.  She has a rare, incurable, digestive disorder where her body cannot handle food.  This disorder causes her severe pain, and there doesn’t seem any hope from the medical world.

The girl’s mother, played extremely well by Jennifer Garner, will do anything to help her daughter.  She struggles with doctors until she finally forces herself upon a specialist in this field at Boston Children’s Hospital.  Even this specialist doesn’t give her much hope.  The mother never gives up on her daughter, but does give up on her faith in God.  The family exhausts all of their financial resources trying to bring comfort to their daughter.  The scenes where she is suffering so badly, while the family cannot do anything to help her, are quite intense and you certainly feel the mother’s anguish.

Then, something happens.  The daughter is climbing a tall dead tree in their yard in Texas.  A branch breaks and Anna plummets thirty feet in to the hollow tree.  It takes rescuers many hours to get her out.  When they do, she is brought unconscious to the hospital.  When Anna awakens, the symptoms of the incurable disease are gone.  Anna shares with her mom how God spoke to her in heaven about how he was healing her.  I don’t want to get in to too much detail because I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but her healing is seen as a real miracle by all involved, including the doctors.  This miracle brings back the faith of her mom as well as the faith of many involved.

At the very end, the mother speaks to their church and says some things that are very important.  She recognizes the miraculous healing of her daughter, but also shows how she saw miracles happen throughout the whole journey involving many different people in what would be seen as doing ordinary things.  There is a lot of power there, especially when they flash back on these things.  After the movie ends, they have pictures and videos of the real family.  Make sure you stay for those.

As Catholics, we believe strongly in miracles.  Our history is full of them.  We also know that miracles don’t always happen in the way we want them.  To me, the strength of this movie is not just the actual miraculous healing, but in the family and friends and what they did during the difficult times.  God works miracles in so many ways.  More often than not, he works them through every day, ordinary actions of love.  I would really suggest you take the time to see this movie.  It is so much better than so many movies we are exposed to.  The faith, love, and gift of family and friendship that this movie offers is so refreshing.  God bless.