Category Archives: Sacraments

The Real First Thanksgiving – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

The Great Cross marks the spot where the Spanish first landed in St. Augustine, Florida on September 8, 1565.  The statue of  Father Francisco Lopez marks the spot where the first THANKSGIVING mass was celebrated.

We always think that the first Thanksgiving happened in 1621 with the Pilgrims who settled in Massachusetts. In this Thanksgiving the local Indians came to the Pilgrims and brought them native food. There is no doubt that this really happened, but was it really the first Thanksgiving in the Americas? History says no. The first Thanksgiving occurred about 56 years before that in 1565. This one, like the Pilgrim Thanksgiving also involved European settlers and American Indians.
On September 8th, 1565 (the day the Church celebrates the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary), Spanish settlers landed at what is now St. Augustine, Florida. The first person to come on land was Father Francisco Lopez, the chaplain of the expedition. He came on land holding a cross. The leader of the exposition, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, then came on land while Father Francisco was holding the cross. The leader then kneeled down in front of the cross and kissed it. The rest of the exposition came on land and did some preliminary set up and then gathered to celebrate mass in thanksgiving for the safe passage they had been given. Catholic’s know the mass as the celebration of the Eucharist. Eucharist in Greek means Thanksgiving.
Immediately following the mass, Father Francisco, now the first pastor of the first settlement in the Americas, declared that they would celebrate a fraternal meal by inviting the Timucua Indians to dine with the settlers. The landing site of the Spanish was right next to a large Timucua village. The two peoples celebrated a Thanksgiving feast together. This was certainly the first Thanksgiving meal celebrated in the Americas.
Our traditional Thanksgiving dinner usually consists of roasted turkey, potatoes and vegetables that were probably used at the Pilgrim’s Thanksgiving in Massachusetts. The Indians provided these foods to be shared with the settlers. The Spanish Thanksgiving in St. Augustine, Florida was quite different. Historical records show that it consisted of food brought by the Spanish settlers. This food was salted pork, garbanzo beans, ship’s bread and red wine. It also, most likely, consisted of some foods gathered by the Spanish settlers when they stopped in the Caribbean Islands. The Timucua Indians probably provided corn, fresh fish, berries, or beans.
The two Thanksgiving dinners had much in common. They both included the European Settlers and the Native Americans. They both were done in Thanksgiving to God for all that He had done. They both included food that was shared by all. They both had a sense of Thanksgiving to God as well as a sense of fraternal gathering. The main difference is that the Catholic Thanksgiving began with a Thanksgiving meal that goes all the way back to the Apostles and the early Church and has been celebrated every day since then by the Church.
The Pilgrims came to the America to escape from governmental persecution of their Puritan religion. The Spanish came to America with direction from their government and with a twofold mission; first to bring the message of Jesus’ salvation, and second to gain new lands for Spain. It is interesting that the first thing done is to have the Chaplain of the exposition bring a cross on to the new land and then, almost immediately after, to celebrate the Eucharist. The fraternal dinner with the Native Americans was to follow the mass. This is very much like the early Church which first had the celebration of the Eucharist followed by the Agape fraternal meal. Even today, in many families, we go first to mass on Sunday and then have a family Sunday dinner. The real first Thanksgiving gets the order right: first give thanks to God and then celebrate our fraternal love with each other. This is something we should do every day, not just once per year.

RCIA – A Journey of New Life – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Many Catholics have heard the initials RCIA used within their church but often do not fully understand what this program is. It is important for all Catholics to know about this program since all Catholics have a place within the program. I would like to take some time to briefly talk about what the program is and then give some reflections on it. I came in to the Church through the RCIA program about 44 years ago and today, as a Deacon, I run our parish RCIA program. I see it as a source of real life to me and to so many others. RCIA simply stands for Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults. The program is the way that adult members learn about Jesus and His Church and then come in to it.
One of the principal ways that all Catholics are involved in RCIA is through their witness. Hopefully the life we lead and the faith we share make others interested in our Lord Jesus and in His Church. When we touch others through our own lived out faith it makes them want to learn more about the faith. RCIA is a way that they can do that. We often have people that were never baptized and never lived out the Christian faith. We also have people who have been baptized and have lived out the faith in a Protestant Church. Some of our RCIA people were baptized Catholic but never received Confirmation and Holy Communion. Some have received all the sacraments and have left the Church but have now returned. RCIA is for all of them.
It is impossible to put a time limit on the RCIA process. How much time we need is based upon the needs of each member in the group. For some, several years may be involved. For others it may be less than one year. We divide the RCIA program in to four distinct groups. Let us take a look at these four groups:
1 – INQUIRER: This is often known as the Period of Evangelization and Precatechumenate. Here we preach the basic Christian message and explain the role of the Church in living out the Christian life. We use this time to try to teach and inspire. We also use this time to discern whether the person is ready to make the formal step of becoming a full Catechumen.
2 – CATECHUMEN: When the RCIA team discerns that the inquirer is ready to make a faith commitment, we have a ceremony in front of the Church community at a Sunday mass where the inquirers make a decision to become a full Catechumen. The inquirer declares their intentions to the community and the community welcomes them. The process of further teaching continues by the RCIA team and the Church community continues to pray for them.
3 – ELECT: On the first Sunday of Lent, the Catechumens attend a special diocesan celebration where the Catechumens publically express their desire for baptism to the diocesan bishop. Their names are recorded in the Book of the Elect. Instructions continue during the days of Lent. There is usually additional prayer and spiritual direction given to the Elect leading them up to the Easter Vigil service. At the Easter Vigil the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Holy Eucharist are given to the Elect in front of the Church community. The Elect are now fully initiated in to the Catholic Church. However, their training continues.
4 – NEOPHYTES: The newly initiated Catholics continue their training with RCIA during the Easter season. This is known as a time of MYSTAGOGY. It continues to the Feast of Pentecost. The neophytes share their experiences of the Easter Vigil and continue to learn more about the Catholic faith.
As I mentioned earlier, some people come in to the program already baptized and with different levels of faith experience. Some need Confirmation and Holy Eucharist; some need just confession and a profession of faith. Depending upon the circumstances, these people can also receive these at the Easter Vigil or at a later date. Pentecost is often used.
The RCIA program tries to deal with each individual’s needs. Some people may need more time than others and some may need to straighten out difficulties like previous marriages. The good RCIA leader and team learn to deal with the various needs of the person apart from the training within the program. It is a program that calls people to follow Jesus within His Church community. The Church community has to realize that they too are part of this process. They help the Inquirer, the Catechumen, the Elect and the Neophyte through prayer and example. I have seen that the community itself grows in a positive direction due to their contact with the RCIA people. It is truly a program that brings life, not only to the individual, but also to the community.
When I did my RCIA process, it was quite different from ours today. I (my wife came also), and another candidate, met weekly with our parish pastor and he taught us. It was good for me, and I became very close to the pastor through it. Today we have a team of several individuals and during our sessions we take turn doing the instructions and we emphasize group discussions. We also spend time reflecting on the Sunday reading. One thing that we added is to discuss where we have seen the Lord working in our lives during this last week. This has proved quite fruitful. RCIA must help its people come in to a relationship with Jesus, as well as His Church.
As a person who has taught in the RCIA program for many years, I can tell you that the program continues to help me grow in my own faith. It is very heartwarming to see people grow in their faith and in their love for Jesus and His Church. Please make sure that you pray for all those who are part of the RCIA program. It is a real blessing to the Church.

 

The 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation; a Lament – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

This year, on October 31st we will have the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. I keep seeing signs saying that we will be celebrating this anniversary. To me, I can’t celebrate this. It reminds me of when an old friend of mine decided to have a party celebrating the one year anniversary of his divorce from his wife. I could not fathom celebrating the fact that these two people who had loved each other and had forged a beautiful life together with four children decided that they could not work out their differences but decided to split apart. I had seen the damage that this divorce did to each of them as well as to their children. How could I celebrate this? I feel the same way about the Protestant Reformation. How can I celebrate the fact that the Church that Jesus had called to be ONE had divided? Jesus prays in John 17: “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” That prayer for unity suffered a massive blow beginning on October 31st, 1517. I lament that.
You need to understand that even though I am proud to be Catholic and consider it to be the ONE Church founded by Jesus; I do have a great love for my Protestant brothers and sisters. I grew up as a Protestant (Methodist) before I converted to the Catholic faith. I give thanks to God for all that He showed me as a Methodist. I was given a Trinitarian baptism (not all Protestant Churches do this) and was taught to love God and to love the scriptures as a Methodist. Even today I pray and share faith experiences with my Protestant brothers and sisters. The Vatican II document, Decree On Ecumenism keeps referring to our Protestant brothers and sisters as “separated brethren”. We need to see that there is still a connection between us. However, the sense of unity is gone. I have seen estimates varying between 33,000 and 51,000 as to the number of “Christian” denominations. It seems that whenever one pastor disagrees with another as to the correct interpretation of scripture or how to live out that interpretation, they start a new church. This is so very sad and so far away from what Jesus and the scriptures call us to. Saint Paul in 1 Corinthians 1:10 says, “I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” We certainly do not have that in Christianity today. I am thankful that the Catholic Church lives out that Unity throughout the four corners of the world.
When Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses, he had very legitimate gripes against what the Church was doing. Most of this was due to the fact that the Church was building Saint Peter’s in Rome and it was a costly undertaking. The Church started to sell indulgences and Martin Luther’s gripes were mostly about this and the power of the Pope and the existence of Purgatory. Martin Luther even removed seven books from the Bible that had been accepted from the beginning, and by every Church council, because they taught about the doctrine of Purgatory and praying for the deceased. These books are still missing from most Protestant Bibles. Luther also wanted to remove Hebrews, James, Jude and Revelation because they did not go along with his thoughts on grace and works. Fortunately these still remain in the Protestant Bible.
It doesn’t appear that Martin Luther really wanted to break the Church apart. However, that is exactly what happened. The Catholic Church responded with its own reforms to deal with the abuses, but it came too late. Others joined Martin Luther in professing other ideas about how scriptures were to be interpreted and these “reformers” started several different religions. Unfortunately, not only was unity lost, but many of these churches gave up the sacraments, sacramentals, Saints, Mary, Apostolic succession of Holy Orders and a central Magisterium that the Catholic Church kept. These new religions ignored what the Church had been doing from the very beginning. It is interesting that today many Protestants (especially many ordained ministers) are coming home to the Catholic Church as a result of their study of Church history and the early Church fathers. The numbers doing this are staggering (see the Coming Home Network at http://www.chnetwork.org).
Instead of Celebrating this 500th Anniversary, I lament it. I feel bad that so many people today are really in love with God and have committed their lives to Him, but don’t have the Sacraments to help them and don’t have Mary to be with them. Even Martin Luther was upset at the reformers who lost these things.
Here are some quotes of Martin Luther about the Blessed Virgin Mary (taken from Church Pop https://churchpop.com/2017/03/07/5-surprising-quotes-from-martin-luther-on-the-blessed-virgin-mary/) :
1) Mary has no equal among creation
“She became the Mother of God, in which work so many and such great good things are bestowed on her as pass man’s understanding. For on this there follows all honor, all blessedness, and her unique place in the whole of mankind, among which she has no equal, namely, that she had a child by the Father in heaven, and such a Child….
“Hence men have crowded all her glory into a single word, calling her the Mother of God…. None can say of her nor announce to her greater things, even though he had as many tongues as the earth possesses flowers and blades of grass: the sky, stars; and the sea, grains of sand. It needs to be pondered in the heart what it means to be the Mother of God.”
2) Mary was without sin
“God has formed the soul and body of the Virgin Mary full of the Holy Spirit, so that she is without all sins, for she has conceived and borne the Lord Jesus.”
3) Mary was a perpetual virgin
“Christ, our Savior, was the real and natural fruit of Mary’s virginal womb… This was without the cooperation of a man, and she remained a virgin after that. […] Christ… was the only Son of Mary, and the Virgin Mary bore no children besides Him.”
4) On the veneration of Mary
“The veneration of Mary is inscribed in the very depths of the human heart.”
5) Mary is the mother of all Christians
“Mary is the Mother of Jesus and the Mother of all of us even though it was Christ alone who reposed on her knees… If he is ours, we ought to be in his situation; there where he is, we ought also to be and all that he has ought to be ours, and his mother is also our mother.”
6) You can never honor Mary enough
“[Mary is the] highest woman and the noblest gem in Christianity after Christ… She is nobility, wisdom, and holiness personified. We can never honor her enough. Still honor and praise must be given to her in such a way as to injure neither Christ nor the Scriptures.”
And Martin Luther said the following about the Eucharist (taken from Bread From Heaven : https://bfhu.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/martin-luther-on-the-real-presence/)
Who, but the devil, has granted such license of wresting the words of the holy Scripture? Who ever read in the Scriptures, that my body is the same as the sign of my body? or, that is is the same as it signifies? What language in the world ever spoke so? It is only then the devil, that imposes upon us by these fanatical men. Not one of the Fathers of the Church, though so numerous, ever spoke as the Sacramentarians: not one of them ever said, It is only bread and wine; or, the body and blood of Christ is not there present.
Surely, it is not credible, nor possible, since they often speak, and repeat their sentiments, that they should never (if they thought so) not so much as once, say, or let slip these words: It is bread only; or the body of Christ is not there, especially it being of great importance, that men should not be deceived. Certainly, in so many Fathers, and in so many writings, the negative might at least be found in one of them, had they thought the body and blood of Christ were not really present: but they are all of them unanimous.”

I pray that someday all Christians may be one and experience the fullness of the Sacraments, the presence of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the unifying force of the Magisterium. May we continue the prayer of Jesus, “that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” May we truly be ONE, HOLY, CATHOLIC AND APOSTOLIC CHURCH (Nicene Creed, 325 ad). Until then, I will lament our disunity.

Note: the Catholic Church is the only institution in History that has lasted 2,000 plus years. I know that Satan would love to destroy the Church, but so far he has only wounded it (several times). I trust in the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18 when He said, “Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.”

 

 

One Remarkable Man: Brother Joseph Dutton by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Brother Joseph with some of his leper friends  More pictures at the end.

God gives us the gift of remarkable people to remind us that mankind can be so much more than it often is. One of these remarkable people is Brother Joseph Dutton. Brother Dutton was born Ira Dutton on April 27, 1847 on a family farm in Stowe, Vermont. When he was only four years old, his family moved to Janesville, Wisconsin. Ira was an intelligent boy and industrious student. He worked hard to be able to attend college. After college the Civil War began and he joined the Army on the side of the North. He was assigned duties as a quartermaster. This not only kept him out of battle, but also provided training for what God would call him to do. At the end of the war he met a woman that he fell in love with. They were married, but sadly she left him after a year and asked for a divorce. This really upset Ira because he loved his wife and took his marriage vows very seriously.

Ira took a job where he disinterred the bodies of Civil War soldiers from the battlefield graves to be able to move them to the new National Cemeteries. Ira knew this was an important job, but it was also gruesome and depressing. To deal with his depressing job, and the separation from his wife, Ira began drinking heavily. He was able to remain sober for the day job, but was usually drunk for the rest of the time. He did this for about ten years. Ira saw that alcohol was destroying him, so when our Nation was celebrating the 100th year of the Declaration of Independence in 1876, Ira declared independence from alcohol. At this time he made a decision to get right with God and he began searching out different religions. Ira decided to become a Roman Catholic. When he was baptized, he took on the new name of Joseph. He then moved to a Trappist Monastery in Gethsemane, Kentucky to live and pray and work with the monks. Joseph never took formal vows. He left after almost two years knowing that God was calling him to a life of serving others.

When Joseph attended a religious conference he heard about the work that Father Damian was doing with the Lepers in Hawaii. Joseph immediately felt called to go to Hawaii and help Father Damian. Joseph felt this was a way that he could lead a life of penance and also help others. He immediately began making preparations to go to Molokai. He contacted both Church and Civil authorities to obtain permission to go. He never thought to contact Father Damian. Joseph was set and headed for the long journey to Molokai. The day that he arrived on Molokai, July 19, 1886, a very surprised Father Damian greeted this man. Joseph told Father Damian that he had come to devote the rest of his life to serving the lepers and helping Father Damian. One can only imagine how pleased Father Damian was. Father Damian had made numerous requests to both Church and Civil leaders to send him help. None of them seemed to be able to. Now, Joseph appears and becomes Father Damian’s right hand man (and later successor). Even though Joseph was not part of a religious community, from that day on Father Damian called Joseph, Brother Joseph. He has been known as that ever since.

The day after his arrival, Brother Joseph learned how to clean and care for the lepers wounds. This was quite a hard thing for most people to do since lepers are very contagious and at that time it was a disease that ended in death after grueling suffering. Brother Joseph found that the time he had spent disinterring Civil War bodied had prepared him to be able to deal with seeing and treating the lepers wounds. Brother Joseph proved to be a hard and tireless worker. Even though he and Father Damian had quite different personalities, they became very close. They both shared the same desire to serve God’s people who suffered from leprosy. They also both shared a strong love of God. Father Damian once said of Brother Joseph, “..a middle aged, well educated man. He resides here with me and as a true brother helps me caring for the sick. He too, though not a priest, finds his comfort in the Blessed Sacrament. You will admire with me the almighty power of Grace in favor of my new companion.”

Even though Father Damian knew he was dying from leprosy himself, his new friend brought him new hope that the colony would continue. Both of them worked hard together to make the leper colony as good as it could become. On April 15, 1889, Father Damian died from the disease. They had a funeral mass of celebration (something that they did very often with each death in the colony). After his death, the full responsibility of the Leper Colony fell upon Brother Joseph. He was thankful for his training as an Army quartermaster. It helped him in making sure the Colony had all the supplies that it needed. Brother Joseph was also responsible for significant building projects in the community. Finally another priest was sent to the colony, Father Lambert Carmardy to help.

In 1898 the United States formally annexed Hawaii as a U.S. territory. This made Brother Joseph very happy. Brother Joseph was a true Patriot and from the moment he came to Molokai, he hoisted the US Flag every morning and brought it down every evening. He gave the lepers in the colony a sense of his own patriotism. Now this land was US soil and they all rejoiced. The annexation also brought more help to the colony. The government sent funds and help to improve life in the Colony.

In 1908, Brother Dutton heard that the US White Fleet would be coming past Hawaii. Brother Dutton wished that somehow the Fleet would sail past his Colony. President Theodore Roosevelt heard of this wish and sent a Presidential Order to Admiral Charles Stillman Perry to go by Molokai and give a military salute to the Colony. The ships came in battle formation and each ship dipped their colors in salute and Brother Joseph and the Colony dipped their flag in salute for each ship. It was a huge moment for Brother Joseph and the Colony to receive such an honor from the President and the US government.

Even though Brother Joseph was living a life of isolation from the world, he corresponded with many friends. Word of Father Damian’s death and all that Brother Joseph was doing reached out to the world with great interest. Brother Joseph received many letters (and donations) and requests for pictures of him. Brother Joseph was never interested in making himself a hero. He responded to his popularity by saying, “All these writers make me out a hero, while I don’t feel a bit like one. I don’t claim to have done any great things; I am merely trying in a small way to help my neighbor and my own soul”.

After serving almost forty five years at the Colony, Brother Joseph Dutton died in 1931. He was mourned and missed by all in the Colony. World leaders paid tribute to him but one of the best is by President Calvin Coolidge. He said. “Whenever his story is told, men will pause to worship. His faith, his work, his self sacrifice appeal to people because there is always something of the same spirit in them. Therein lies the moral power of the world. He realized a vision that we all have.”

In 1949, Blessed Sacrament Church was built on the land that Brother Joseph’s family farm occupied in Stowe Vermont. It has beautiful Murals painted by Andre Girard on the outside walls of the Church. These murals tell the story of Brother Joseph and the Leper Colony on Molokai. The people of Stowe wanted to tell the story of their remarkable native, Brother Joseph Dutton and to give him honor. I believe that we all should tell the story and give honor to Brother Joseph by the way we live our lives. As President Coolidge said, “he realized a vision that we all have”.

Note: On June 23rd, 2015 the Diocese of Honolulu took the first of many steps to Sainthood for Brother Joseph. They created the Brother Joseph Dutton Guild to gather information for the cause.

St Philomena Church in the leper colony.

Blessed Sacrament Church in Stowe Vermont on the farmland where Brother Joseph was born

Some of the murals depicting Brother Joseph on Molokai located on the outside of the Church in Stowe Vermont.

A close up of the mural depicting Brother Joseph meeting Father Damian

Spurned at Church by A. J. Avila

Spurned at Church

When we go to Mass, we don’t necessarily expect the folks there to be warm and welcoming. After all, it’s human nature to occasionally be aloof. We’re weak, sinful people, and we don’t leave our foibles at the church door before coming inside.
But we do expect—have a right to expect—that the people we encounter there will at the very least be polite, especially during that one time in the service when we greet one another: the Sign of Peace.
So imagine my surprise when at one weekday Mass I put out my hand to shake that of the young lady in front of me and got snubbed.
Well, a lot more than snubbed. One look at my hand offered in friendship and she crossed her forearms in front of her head, turned her face aside, and shuddered with what I can only describe as utter disgust.
As though touching me would make her vomit.
Before you even ask, yes, I bathe, and yes, I use deodorant.
Now I realize some people are germaphobes, but a simple “No, thank you” or “I don’t shake hands” would have sufficed.
Needless to say, I was shocked. More than shocked, I was deeply hurt.
Of course I immediately forgave her and offered up the pain to God for her sake.
In case you’re wondering if she ever shakes anybody else’s hand, I wouldn’t know. Since this was a weekday Mass, the church wasn’t very full and we two were the only ones within arm’s reach of each other.
When something like this happens, it bumps up against what I find to be one of the most difficult verses of the Bible: “And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints” (Romans 8:28).
“All things work together unto good.” All things, including this.
So I had to stop and ask myself how this worked unto good.
It reminded me of an incident from the life of St. Teresa of Avila. She’d been poorly treated, and she complained to Jesus about it. He answered her, “But Teresa! That’s how I treat My friends!”
She immediately snapped back “No wonder You have so few!”
Yet . . . how on earth could what happened to me be something positive? How could I see it as God treating me like one of His friends?
Then I remembered another difficult Bible verse: “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up those things that are wanting of the sufferings of Christ, in my flesh, for his body, which is the church” (Colossians 1:24).
St. Paul is telling us he actually rejoiced in his sufferings.
Okay. I can tolerate what happened. I can even get to the stage where, intellectually, I can thank God for it. But in all honesty, I don’t think I’m far enough along in my spiritual journey to where I can rejoice at being treated like last week’s garbage.
Definitely something I need to work on because, you know, suffering makes us more like Christ, and that is cause for rejoicing.
As for that young lady, I sincerely hope that if both of us make it to heaven, she’ll be glad to shake my hand then.
She might even allow me to give her a hug.

You can visit A. J. Avila’s blog at Reflections On My Catholic Journey

Growing Closer to Jesus through Eucharistic Adoration – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               There is no doubt that the mass is the source and summit of our faith.  I attend daily mass because I need the mass to help me grow spiritually in my life, and I also enjoy the whole experience of mass.  As Scott Hahn tells us, it is like heaven on earth at mass.  I usually get to mass at least 20 minutes early to just sit in front of the tabernacle and have some quiet time with Jesus.  This time is precious to me and enriches my prayer life.  Once a week I preside at a Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction service at a local chapel inside the Saint Joseph Prayer Center.  We expose the Blessed Sacrament from 1pm to 5pm every Tuesday so people can just stop in and spend time with Jesus.  I bring the Blessed Sacrament out at 1pm and stay for about one hour in prayer.  It is very powerful prayer.  I then come back around 4:30 and just before 5pm do Benediction.  When I bless the people with the monstrance, I can feel, and almost see, the power going out to them.  It is a wonderful experience.

               It seems to me that quite a few parishes have let Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction fall in to disuse.  I find that sad because it is such a great way to grow spiritually in our relationship with Jesus.  I have heard stories of parishes that have begun providing Adoration and Benediction and how it has helped their parishes.   I am writing this short post to hopefully encourage you, and your parishes, to take advantage of this great form of prayer.  Since not everyone is familiar with this, I will give a few definitions and some quotes from the Saints about it.  If you haven’t done Adoration in a while, please try it.  I believe that you will be glad that you did.

               ADORATION – time spent in front of the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.  This could be as simple as going to church early and just sitting in prayer in front of the TABERNACLE (where the consecrated hosts are kept).  It could also be a simple Adoration where a CIBORIUM (container with consecrated hosts are kept) is placed upon the altar for people to adore.  A formal ADORATION is where a MONSTRANCE or OSTENSORIUM (ornate vessel that allows you to see the consecrated host) is put in a prominent place for adoration.  During formal Adoration services there are usually songs and prayers and scripture readings and incense, along with silence.

               BENEDICTION – This is usually done at the end of formal Adoration.  The bishop, priest or deacon picks up the MONSTANCE and blesses the people with it drawing the sign of the cross over them.  It usually ends with songs of praise being said or sung.

               When Jesus gave us the gift of the Eucharist, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, He told us that It would bring us life.  I can attest that in receiving and adoring the Eucharist, I find the fullness of life.  Many Saint have talked about this.  Here are a few quotes from them (make sure you read the last quote):

“Christ held Himself in His hands when He gave His Body to His disciples saying: ‘This is My Body.’ No one partakes of this Flesh before he has adored it.” – St. Augustine

“If we but paused for a moment to consider attentively what takes place in this Sacrament, I am sure that the thought of Christ’s love for us would transform the coldness of our hearts into a fire of love and gratitude.” – St. Angela of Foligno

“What wonderful majesty! What stupendous condescension! O sublime humility! That the Lord of the whole universe, God and the Son of God, should humble Himself like this under the form of a little bread, for our salvation”  and

“…In this world I cannot see the Most High Son of God with my own eyes, except for His Most Holy Body and Blood.”  – St. Francis of Assisi

“How many of you say: I should like to see His face, His garments, His shoes. You do see Him, you touch Him, you eat Him. He gives Himself to you, not only that you may see Him, but also to be your food and nourishment.” – St. John Chrysostom

“I throw myself at the foot of the Tabernacle like a dog at the foot of his Master.” – St. John Vianney

“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.” – St. John Vianney, Cure d’Ars

“God dwells in our midst, in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar” and

 “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” – St. Maximilian Kolbe

“Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you – for you alone? He burns with the desire to come into your heart…don’t listen to the demon, laugh at him, and go without fear to receive the Jesus of peace and love…  and

“Receive Communion often, very often…there you have the sole remedy, if you want to be cured. Jesus has not put this attraction in your heart for nothing” – St. Therese of Lisieux

“How I loved the feasts!…. I especially loved the processions in honor of the Blessed Sacrament. What a joy it was for me to throw flowers beneath the feet of God!… I was never so happy as when I saw my roses touch the sacred Monstrance…” – from St. Therese’s Autobiography: Story of A Soul

The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease.” – Pope Saint John Paul II

PALM SUNDAY, HOSANNA – BEING PEOPLE OF PRAISE by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               It is hard to believe but Holy Week is about to begin.  This is my favorite liturgical time of the year.  This week we are able to relive the last few days of Jesus’ life on earth.  Through the liturgy we can join Jesus in living out each of these days.  It is Holy Week that shows us the Salvation given to us by God and all of the gifts that surround that, especially the Eucharist.  It is in this week that we can truly feel the LOVE that God pours out to us in Jesus.  This week begins with Palm Sunday.  On Palm Sunday we celebrate the King of Kings, the beggar King, the King of Peace, who triumphantly rides in to the Holy City of Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey.  The people are elated to see Him.  They had just heard of how He had raised Lazarus from the dead, even though Lazarus had been dead for four days.  This miracle worker was coming in to the City of God and the people were singing His praise.   This was the One who would finally set them free.  They waved palms and proclaimed from Psalm 118, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel.”  They sang songs of praise.

               Praise is a very important part of the Church’s liturgy.  All bishops, priests and deacons and brothers and nuns are required to pray the Liturgy of Hours each day, several times a day.  Many lay people also join in with them in this prayer form.  This prayer consists of a large number of prayers of praise.  If you look at our mass, we are constantly offering prayers of praise.  We even say, “It is right to give you thanks and praise”.  My initial entrance in to the Church life began back in 1972 when I began attending a Catholic Charismatic prayer meeting.  These prayer meetings are filled with praise and I have naturally adapted that in to my every day prayer life.  I begin each morning praising God and do so many times throughout the day.  Praise of God lifts me up and gives me strength and peace.  I love to Praise God.  It seems the natural thing to do.  I think about when Jesus was told by the Pharisees to tell the people to stop singing their praises.  He replied to them, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”  All of nature gives praise to God.  Isaiah 55:12 says, “For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”  You only have to stop for a few moments and observe nature to see how it praises God.  I remember going on retreat for a week to the city of Assisi, the home of St. Francis, and waking up in the morning to the chirping of a multitude of birds.  What a beautiful song of praise they sing.

               We too, the highpoint of God’s creation, are especially called to give Praise to God.  Psalm 117:1 says, “Praise the LORD, all you nations. Praise him, all you people of the earth.”  When we praise God we are drawn closer to Him.  We are then more open to allowing Him to perform miracles in our lives.  Praising Him helps bring us humility.  It also causes our enemies to flee.  Praise is such an important prayer form, and so easy to do.  It can be used from the very beginning of the day until the very end.  It can be as simple as, “I praise you Lord.”   The people of Jerusalem gave praise to Jesus on His triumphal entry in to the City of God.  Unfortunately this praise was short lived.  It was only a few days later that many of these same people were crying out, “crucify Him, crucify Him”.  Our songs of praise cannot be like that.  Our prayers of praise must also be part of our acceptance of who Jesus was and is today.  We must study Him in the scriptures and hear about Him in homilies and receive Him in the Eucharist.  That way our prayer of praise can be lasting and true.  To encourage praise, I have included the following scriptures.  I also highly recommend listening closely to the words at mass, and the songs at mass, and try praying the Liturgy of the Hours.  God bless you in your songs of praise.  Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ, King of Endless Glory.

SCRIPTURES CALLING US TO PRAISE GOD:

Psalm 150:1-6 Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!

Exodus 15:2 The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Judges 5:3 Hear, O you kings; give ear, O you princes; I, even I, will sing to the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel.

2 Samuel 22:4 I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies …

2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will give thanks to you, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises to your name.

Psalms 35:18 I will give you thanks in the great congregation: I will praise you among much people.

Psalms 35:28 And my tongue shall speak of your righteousness and of your praise all the day long.

Psalms 43:4 Then will I go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy: yes, on the harp will I praise you, O God my God.

Psalms 138:1 I will praise you with my whole heart: before the gods will I sing praise to you.

Daniel 2:23 I thank you, and praise you, O you God of my fathers, who have given me wisdom and might, and have made known to me now what we desired of you: for you have now made known to us the king’s matter.

Jeremiah 17:14 Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for you are my praise.

Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;

 

              

A Healthy Body, Mind and Spirit by Deacon Marty McIndoe

There is so much emphasis today on taking care of the body.  I just read a statistic from STATISTIC BRAIN that says Americans spend about 24 BILLION dollars on annual gym and health club memberships each year.  That is a lot of money!   People go to health food stores and shop for healthy products.  This is quite commendable.  The body is a very special gift that God has given to us and we should take good care of it.  What I find disturbing is that people are often very concerned with the physical body and forget about the true wholeness of who we are.  We, as a person, consist of so much more than just the physical body.  We have a mind that needs to be taken care of, and a spiritual side that needs to also be cared for.  Unless we properly feed and exercise all three parts of our person, we will suffer.  I would like to take a look at the body, mind and the spirit and how we can help them to grow healthy.  I see three main things to consider: Intake, Avoidance and Exercise.  I will look at all of these in relation to the body, the mind and the spirit.

BODY – The body is a wonderful creation.  It gives us mobility, sight, hearing, touch, sex and reproduction and the ability to experience so much in God’s creation.  Anyone who studies the body quickly realizes that it is a complex mechanism.  God knew what He was doing when He created our body.  It is up to us to keep the body what it is meant to be.  In order to do that, we need to consider three main things:

1 – Intake:  The foods and drinks that we take in should be healthy for us.  We really should be eating whole grain foods, and lots of fruits and vegetables and nuts.  There is a lot to be said for true organic foods as well as healthy meats.  Our body also needs a great deal of water.  Water not only replenishes the body but also helps to remove toxins.

2 – Avoidance:  Fast foods, processed foods, “recreational” drugs, soda.  Red meats should be kept at a minimum and only healthy oils such as Olive and Canola oils should be used.  It is also good to keep alcoholic beverage to low or moderate use.

3 – Exercise:  Walking, running, swimming and aerobic exercises are very important.  Weight lifting is also a positive thing to do.

 

MIND – There is a saying that “the mind is a terrible thing to waste”.  This slogan was adopted by the United Negro College Fund in 1972.  It was actually one of the most successful campaigns in television history.  The saying is so true.  Our mind needs to be educated and stimulated.  There is no doubt that the mind/brain is very complex.  It, like the body, needs sustenance, avoidance and exercise.

1 – Intake:  The brain/mind is made to take in as much information as possible.  For me that means reading good books and studying various subjects.  I take many various courses, both online and in person.  I also read many different types of books and I love researching things on the internet.

2 – Avoidance:  Pornography is a very serious assault on what the mind is meant to do.  Spending time mesmerized in front of the television is also counterproductive.

3 – Exercise:  When you are reading you are definitely exercising the brain.  When you study for courses you are exercising the brain.  When you just take time to think, you are exercising the brain.   Things like cross word puzzles are great too.

 

SPIRIT – The “thing” that gives us our personhood is the Spirit or Soul.  This is the most precious gift of all.  With that we are like God in that we will live forever.  The Spirit is ultimately what is in charge of the body and the mind.  It works along with the mind to bring us thoughts and reason.  It lifts us up to far above the ordinary.  This Spirit needs Intake, Avoidance and Exercise too.

1 – Intake:  There is no doubt that graces are given to our Spirit by the sacraments of the Church.   Baptism starts the journey and the Holy Eucharist is food for the Spirit.  Confirmation strengthens the work of the Spirit within us and gives us many gifts.  The Sacrament of Reconciliation can lift the Spirit out of the difficulties that sin causes us.  Holy Orders and Matrimony empower our Spirit to work in the vocation that God calls us to.  Even the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick heals the Spirit as it heals the body.  For me, the reception of the Eucharist each day is my daily bread that enlivens my Spirit.  The sacrifice of the mass, and participating in it, again lifts our Spirit.  The pondering of God’s Word in the Bible feeds the Spirit.

2 – Avoidance:  We must stay away from the occult, even things such as Ouija boards.  We must stay away from all the temptations of the Devil.

3 – Exercise:  We should make ourselves available to all of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  We should read and pray the bible.  We should spend a considerable amount of time each day in prayer.  Specialized prayers such as the rosary and divine mercy chaplet are great forms of spiritual exercise.  The Church’s Liturgy of the Hours is a fantastic way to pray.  I always recommend that people find a Spiritual Director.

 

In conclusion, we must remember that the Body, Mind and Spirit are all so interconnected that failure to take care of any one of them may harm the whole person that we are.  Because of this interconnection, some things that I mentioned in one subject will actually help not only in that subject but in others as well.  We are one unbelievable miracle and creation of God.  We must take care of who we are.

Romans 12: 1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

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.

THE BENEFITS OF DAILY MASS by Deacon Marty McIndoe

               Attending daily mass is so important to me, and I have been reaping the benefits of it for several decades.  I am retired now and it is easy for me to attend the 9:00am mass, right after I am finished with the gym.  When I was working, I had to attend the 7:00am mass and then go to the gym and then to work.  Either way, I made the decision to go to daily mass and to go to the gym.  I figured I needed to be healthy both spiritually and physically.  It is hard to separate the two.  I would like to share with you some of the benefits I have seen by going to daily mass in hopes that you too will try to attend daily mass or that if you already do, you may find support for what you are doing.

1 – Being in the Presence of the Lord.  I try to get to mass about 20 minutes early so that I can just sit in His presence.  I offer Him praise and sit quietly listening for any Word he may give me.  So often I have grown in my love of Him and grown in my ability to learn to trust Him in all things.  Our God is an awesome God and His love for us knows no limits.  It is so good to be in His presence.  It is unbelievable how a short time alone before the Lord in the tabernacle can improve your prayer life all day long.

2 – Listening to His Word.  Every day at mass we have two readings and a responsorial psalm.  The first reading is usually from the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and the second reading is from the Gospels.  The Church does a wonderful job of presenting cycles of readings so that you basically go through all of the important parts of the whole bible in three years.  Sundays are set on a three year cycle and weekday readings are set on a two year cycle.  If you only attend Sunday mass, you do not get the fullness of the readings cycle.  Beginning each day listening to God’s Word and the homily about it can really impact you all day long.  The Church also follows different Liturgical Seasons such as Advent, Lent, Easter, Pentecost and Ordinary time.  The weekday readings emphasize the importance of these Seasons on a daily basis.  Immersing yourself in God’s Word is power giving.

3 – Receiving the Body and Blood of Jesus.  Jesus made it extremely clear that if we want to be filled with the fullness of life, we need to eat His body and drink His blood (Read John Chapter 6).  I would have to say that His Body and His Blood fill me with graces constantly.   Sometimes there is a reason that I cannot attend the morning mass (snow, Doctor, etc) and when that happens, I feel such a loss.  We are used to taking daily multi-vitamins and daily coffee etc. to pick us up, but to me, nothing picks me up better that receiving Him at daily mass.  The strength given to me by that lasts all day and affects every part of the person that I am.  I believe that I have an abundant life because I receive my Lord every day in the Eucharist.

4 – Experiencing Community.   Daily mass has less people in it than does Sunday mass.  Because of this, you get to meet these people and share your lives with them.  I know this can be true of Sunday mass, but daily mass emphasizes it.  You learn of your fellow parishioners ups and downs and you share a better level of community.  In our parish, every Wednesday we go over to our parish center and share with each other what the readings of the day have meant to us.  We usually have about 20 attend and it is a wonderful experience.  Also, at daily mass you get to know the things that are happening as they happen, not one week later like at Sunday mass.  We always have people who are struggling with health and life issues and daily mass allows us to be more supportive, especially on the days that they need it the most.  Community is a very important gift.

5 – Know your Priests and Deacons.  Daily mass gives us more of an opportunity to know the clergy that support our parishes.  They also get to know you better.  There is usually more time for meeting with the clergy.  You can also get to appreciate the homilies that they give.  You can bring support to them, and they can bring support to you.

               In closing, I cannot emphasize enough how important daily mass is to me.  I feel that I am a much stronger Christian because of it.  I know that I am closer to the Lord, and hear His voice better because of it.  It is also wonderful to know that people all over the world are hearing the same scriptures and receiving the same Lord at the same time I do.  You certainly get a fuller appreciation of the gift that the Church is to the world.  There are so many great books on the mass, but one that really touched me is Scott Hahn’s “The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth”.  In it we see that we are really sharing in a little bit of heaven every time we attend mass.  I personally want to do that every day.

               I will end with some quotes that Dr. Taylor Marshall found about the Eucharist.  They say so much.  He says: These quotes remind me of the hidden mystery of the Holy Mass. I plan to review them before Mass during Lent. I’d encourage you to do the same if you also struggle with distractions. I may print them out on a card and put them in my missal:

  1. When the Eucharist is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar. ~ St. John Chrysostom
  2. The angels surround and help the priest when he is celebrating Mass. ~ St. Augustine
  3. If we really understood the Mass, we would die of joy. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  4. The celebration of Holy Mass is as valuable as the death of Jesus on the cross. ~ Saint Thomas Aquinas
  5. Once, St. Teresa was overwhelmed with God’s Goodness and asked Our Lord “How can I thank you?” Our Lord replied, “ATTEND ONE MASS.”
  6. “My Son so loves those who assist at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that, if it were necessary He would die for them as many times as they’ve heard Masses.” Our Lady to Blessed Alan.
  7. When we receive Holy Communion, we experience something extraordinary – a joy, a fragrance, a well-being that thrills the whole body and causes it to exalt. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  8. There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  9. When we have been to Holy Communion, the balm of love envelops the soul as the flower envelops the bee. ~ Saint Jean Vianney
  10. It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass. ~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

That last quote from Saint Pio is profound. The entire cosmos is sustained by the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass…

 

 

The Gift of Healing; and some miracles I have witnessed by Deacon Marty McIndoe


               In 1 Corinthians 12 verse 9, St. Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit gives us the gift of healing.  We have heard numerous accounts of Jesus healing people, and even of the disciples healing people, but do we still believe that healings occur?   Is this gift still present to us today?  Do we have to be a Saint in order to have this gift?  I personally believe that this gift is still very present among all of God’s people.  I have seen several miraculous healings with my own eyes.  I would like to take a few moments to look at this precious gift of healing that God has given his people.
               First of all, it used to be assumed that illness and sin go hand in hand.  You just have to read the bible to see how often the two are put together.  I think that we have to be careful to avoid thinking that sin causes sickness.  Sickness seems to just happen to people, some good people, and some sinners.  It doesn’t discriminate between the two.  There is no doubt that some sins might bring about sickness.  For instance, promiscuity and sex outside of marriage may very well bring about sexually transmitted diseases.  Not properly taking care of our body, can also bring about illness. These things are pretty obvious, but most illnesses are caused by various factors that don’t include sin.  We are called to live as holy people, outside of sin, but many who do still get sick.  It just happens.
               We are very fortunate to live in a time when medical science can deal with many illnesses and bring about healing.  God created our body to be able to heal itself in many ways (minor cuts, etc.) but there are so many illnesses that need the help of medical science.  I really believe that God has given to our doctors and nurses and other medical personnel the gift of healing.  He has given them the ability to go for intense schooling to help treat our illnesses.  He heals through the very work that they do and we should recognize that.  Probably the best way to receive any healing is through the combination of medical help and prayer.  A good friend of mine who is undergoing medical treatment just told me that he can feel the power of prayer at work through the treatments.  I think this is so true.  All healings are really miraculous, even those through “normal” medical means.
               Sometimes there seems to be times when the gift of healing is made manifest in very remarkable ways.  I remember one time attending a Priest’s and Deacon’s conference at the Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio.  On one evening of the conference they opened it up to the public to attend a “healing mass”.   There were several priests at that conference who were known for having a healing ministry within the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, and they were going to pray for healings.  I was sitting in a huge tent with fellow priests and deacons and members of the public, when I noticed a man coming in who was blind.  He had two family members with him to help him.  He sat about four chairs away from me.  I remember thinking that he must really be hoping to be healed.  The mass started and after we all received the Eucharist, the priests began leading us in a healing service.  One of the priests went down among the people sprinkling them with Holy Water.  When he came to us I remember feeling the water hit me and I heard a loud crying out sigh from the blind man.  I looked over and he was praising God and dancing in place.  He took off his dark glasses and was looking all over.  The people who brought him were crying.  I kept looking over to him and he began to look through his wife’s purse, picking up individual items and staring at them incredulously.  He had been healed.   It was a remarkable sight to see.
               Another time my wife and I were on retreat at the St. Augustine retreat center on Staten Island.  We were attending a healing retreat given by Father Francis MacNutt.  Fr. Francis was known for having the gift of healing.  There were several healings at that retreat, but one that I really remember was of a young college age girl who walked with difficulty and wore one shoe that had a platform on it making it about six inches higher than the other shoe.  She explained to us all that she had been in a very bad car accident and that they had to operate and take out about six inches of her leg bone that had been crushed.  The raised shoe platform was to make up for that six inches of missing bone.  Even with the platform shoe on, she walked with great difficulty due to other damages to her hip.  Father MacNutt prayed over her for an extended period of time.  I remember hearing someone near her during the prayers saying that they saw the leg growing.   I had to really doubt this and it was getting late so my wife and I went to bed.   The next day we saw this woman walking perfectly normal with no shoes on.  I still remember her playfully, or should I say joyfully, running up and down the stairs.  She had to go around for the rest of that day with no shoes on because now both legs were the same length and the raised shoe was a problem.  I know, this is hard to believe, but I saw it.  I also remember her mother coming to pick her up from the retreat and seeing her back to normal.  She was in shock.   Yes, God does do miraculous and remarkable healings.   I have seen others and heard of others and have no doubt that miraculous healings occur.
               The problem that I have is that I don’t understand why some people are healed and some are not.  Right after that Staten Island retreat, I came home filled with expectant hope of healings for some people that I knew.  One of them was a young teen age boy with cancer.  His parents attended the prayer meeting in our parish and I knew them to be faith filled people.  I remember going over to their house to pray with their son fully confident that he would be healed.  Unfortunately he wasn’t, and died shortly after.   I do believe that in death we receive the greatest healing possible.  Still it is hard to lose a young person like that.  Unfortunately, this has been repeated several times.  I know that God heals, and I also know that death is the door to great healing, fullness of life in Him. 
               We cannot know why some people are healed, and some don’t seem to be.  But we must know that prayers and the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick do work.  We also must trust that in any of our sicknesses and our pains, God can use them to bring about the good.  It is all about a God who showers us with miracles every day because of His great love for us.  No matter what, He is at work in our life and leads us to the fullness of life in Him.

The Church, from the very Beginning…was Catholic! By Kenneth Henderson – Part 2 of 3

israel-286

The Synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus and His disciples visited many times.

We can see by the year A.D. 110, in the writings of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of Saint John, yes “that” John, that the Church had bishops that had authority. That they were to obey the clergy and deacons, just as they would the apostles. They were also supposed to regard the bishop as a “type” of the Father. (…hmmm, sound familiar?) Also note that the Eucharist was only valid if the bishop or by a person authorized by the bishop were to celebrate it. They had a council and a college of apostles and without these it could not be called a church. Why? Because Jesus provided an authoritative teaching body in the Church to maintain the Truth, guided by the Holy Spirit. Ignatius even calls the Church, the Catholic Church! Sounds like what we refer to today as the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Read for yourself.

Ignatius of Antioch

Follow your bishop, every one of you, as obediently as Jesus Christ followed the Father. Obey your clergy too as you would the apostles; give your deacons the same reverence that you would to a command of God. Make sure that no step affecting the Church is ever taken by anyone without the bishop’s sanction. The sole Eucharist you should consider valid is one that is celebrated by the bishop himself, or by some person authorized by him. Where the bishop is to be seen, there let all his people be; just as, wherever Jesus Christ is present, there is the Catholic Church (Letter to the Smyrneans 8:2 [A.D. 110]). –> Read online in its entirety here

For, since you are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, you may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as you indeed do, so without the bishop you should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery 1, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall [at last] be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries 2 of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all. For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would do fire.

Be you subject to the bishop as to the Lord, for “he watches for your souls, as one that shall give account to God.” (Heb 13:17) Wherefore also, you appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order that, by believing in His death, you may by baptism be made partakers of His resurrection. It is therefore necessary, whatsoever things you do, to do nothing without the bishop. And be you subject also to the presbytery, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall be found in Him. It behooves you also, in every way, to please the deacons, who are [ministers] of the mysteries of Christ Jesus; for they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would a burning fire. Let them, then, prove themselves to be such. (Letter to the Trallians 2:1-2 [A. D. 110]). –> Read online in its entirety here

1- presbytery translates in English as priest, ministers.
2- Mysteries of Christ, also translated as Sacraments 

In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of the apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. I am confident that you accept this, for I have received the exemplar of your love and have it with me in the person of your bishop. His very demeanor is a great lesson and his meekness is his strength. I believe that even the godless do respect him (Letter to the Trallians 3:1-2 [A. D. 110]). –> Read online in its entirety here

The early church was NOT an unorganized band of Christian followers, but a very organized group, even though they were most of the time practicing their faith “underground” due to persecution. There were no factions or splinter groups that were allowed to stay in operation, but as Ignatius points out, if you were not in union with and under the authority of the bishops, then you were not following the Church that Jesus Christ established.

In the Martyrdom of Saint Polycarp, also a disciple of John the Apostle, written around A.D. 160 we can see that the Church at the time was Catholic and shows that the church was seen as a unified Church.

The Martyrdom of Polycarp

When finally he concluded his prayer, after remembering all who had at any time come his way – small folk and great folk, distinguished and undistinguished, and the whole Catholic Church throughout the world – the time for departure came. So they placed him on an ass, and brought him into the city on a great Sabbath (The Martyrdom of Polycarp 8 [A.D. 160]). –> Read online in its entirety here

We also see in the writings of Saint Irenaeus in A.D. 189 that he refers to a unified Church. Of important note, this writing comes from his Letter Against Heresies. He is pointing out in the letter that any who teach a gospel outside of the unity of the Catholic Church are teaching heresy.

Irenaeus

The Catholic Church possesses one and the same faith throughout the whole world, as we have already said (Against Heresies 1:10 [A.D. 189]). –> Read online in its entirety here

Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth: so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. For she is the entrance to life; all others are thieves and robbers. On this account we are bound to avoid them, but to make choice of the things pertaining to the Church with the utmost diligence, and to lay hold of the tradition of the truth. For how stands the case? Suppose there should arise a dispute relative to some important question among us. Should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant intercourse, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question? For how should it be if the apostles themselves had not left us writings? Would it not be necessary [in that case] to follow the course of the tradition which they handed down to those to whom they did commit the church? (ibid. 3:4). –> Read online in its entirety here

Did he say that we are to lay hold of the tradition of the truth? Yes, he did. And how did he say we should solve disputes and questions about what we should believe? We should have recourse to the ancient churches, which at this point in history were only around 200 years old. Still, that is a long time. Yet, here we are 2000 years later, and yet those outside of the Catholic Church, do not follow his advice.

 

LOOK FOR PART 3 ON WEDNESDAY

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.

 

Holy Orders in the Church – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

OrdinationZoomHR098My ordination by Bishop John R. McGann on October 4, 1980 in Sacred Heart Chapel in Brentwood, NY.  I am kneeling and my wife is standing behind me.

Most Dioceses have their ordinations in the month of June, so I thought this would be a good time to look at Holy Orders in the Church.  The word ORDER comes from the ancient Roman language and means an established civil body, or governing body.  All organizations need some form of hierarchy, and the Church is no exception.  However, the Church is not like any other organization, it is supernatural in nature, established by Jesus himself.  When the Spirit came upon the apostles at Pentecost it made a significant change in them.  It empowered them to spread the good news and to develop the church.  Our modern design of Holy Orders (Bishop, Priest and Deacon) dates back to the very beginnings of the Church.  Since the Apostles were all good Jews, as Jesus himself was, and since God was at work from the very beginnings with the Jewish nation, it is not surprising that our Holy Orders closely resemble the Jewish priesthood.

In the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament), the chosen people were constituted by God as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”  He even chose one of the twelve tribes, Levi, and set it apart for liturgical service.  The priests were “appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins.”  Our present day liturgy reflects that close relationship to the Jewish priesthood of Aaron and the Levites.  Here is a sample from the Church’s liturgy:

The Church prays in the consecratory preface of the ordination of bishops:

God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, . . .
by your gracious word
you have established the plan of your Church.

From the beginning,
you chose the descendants of Abraham to be your holy nation.
You established rulers and priests
and did not leave your sanctuary without ministers to serve you. . . .

At the ordination of priests, the Church prays:

Lord, holy Father, . . .
when you had appointed high priests to rule your people,
you chose other men next to them in rank and dignity
to be with them and to help them in their task. . . .

you extended the spirit of Moses to seventy wise men. . . .
You shared among the sons of Aaron
the fullness of their father’s power.

In the consecratory prayer for ordination of deacons, the Church confesses:

Almighty God . . .,
You make the Church, Christ’s body,
grow to its full stature as a new and greater temple.
You enrich it with every kind of grace
and perfect it with a diversity of members
to serve the whole body in a wonderful pattern of unity.

You established a threefold ministry of worship and service,
for the glory of your name.
As ministers of your tabernacle you chose the sons of Levi
and gave them your blessing as their everlasting inheritance.

 

The Church today has, just as the early Church had, three main offices of ordination.  The first, and highest, is the Bishop.  The second, and closely related, is the Priest.  The third is the Deacon.  The Bishop and Priest are together seen as Sacerdotal (priestly) while the deacon is seen as helpers to the Bishops first, and Priests second.  Usually the Bishop is seen as a Pastor of a diocese and is often needed as a teacher.  The Priest offers the mass in local churches and the Deacon is called to serve where He is directed to by the Bishop.  All three are ordained.  You can see how early this structure was by looking at a quote by St. Ignatius of Antioch, who was born only 17 years after Jesus died.  He said, “Let everyone revere the deacons as Jesus Christ, the bishop as the image of the Father, and the presbyters (priests) as the senate of God and the assembly of the apostles. For without them one cannot speak of the Church.”

The Ordination of Bishops, Priests and Deacons are done only by Bishops who are in the line of apostolic succession.  That means that when Bishop John R. McGann ordained me, back in 1980, I know that he was ordained by a Bishop who was ordained by a Bishop who was ordained by a Bishop…..going back all the way to the Apostles.  This is called Apostolic Succession.  The Church keeps records to ascertain that this occurs.  The power of ordination has thus been passed down by the Apostles to all of us who are validly ordained.  So what is this power?  Quite simply, it is the power of the Holy Spirit.  This is a permanent grace given to allow the ordained minister to carry out his mission within the Church that Jesus himself formed.

We know that no Bishop or Priest or Deacon is perfect, indeed they are human, but the grace of the Holy Spirit still works through them for the building up of the Church.   It is Jesus, and His Spirit that ultimately works through the ordained minister.  The unworthiness of the minister does not keep Jesus from working through him.  St. Augustine states this quite strongly when he says, “As for the proud minister, he is to be ranked with the devil. Christ’s gift is not thereby profaned: what flows through him keeps its purity, and what passes through him remains dear and reaches the fertile earth. . . . The spiritual power of the sacrament is indeed comparable to light: those to be enlightened receive it in its purity, and if it should pass through defiled beings, it is not itself defiled.”

The man who is ordained must go through a substantial training and preparation program.  At the heart of it has to be his own conversion to Jesus and His Church.  St. Gregory of Nazianzus says it so beautifully, “We must begin by purifying ourselves before purifying others; we must be instructed to be able to instruct, become light to illuminate, draw close to God to bring him close to others, be sanctified to sanctify, lead by the hand and counsel prudently. I know whose ministers we are, where we find ourselves and to where we strive. I know God’s greatness and man’s weakness, but also his potential. [Who then is the priest? He is] the defender of truth, who stands with angels, gives glory with archangels, causes sacrifices to rise to the altar on high, shares Christ’s priesthood, refashions creation, restores it in God’s image, recreates it for the world on high and, even greater, is divinized (make divine) and divinizes.”  And the Cure of Ars says, “The priest continues the work of redemption on earth. . . . If we really understood the priest on earth, we would die not of fright but of love. . . . The Priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus.”

Being a Bishop or a Priest or a Deacon is not an easy thing.  However, it is a great thing.  I thank God for calling me and giving me the strength and power to minister as a Deacon.  God knew what he was doing when he set up the Church.  The call to ordained ministry is an important call.  We should all do what we can to encourage men to look in to the ordained ministry.  We should also say a “thank you” to those who serve us now.  God is good.

 

Praying for Healing – by Deacon Marty McIndoe

Israel 600The Pool of Bethesda (with the five porticoes) where Jesus healed a man who had been infirm for 38 years.  It is interesting that the Romans built their own temple right next to it that was for their god of healing, Aesculapius.

I believe very strongly in the power of prayer.  When anyone asks me to pray for them, or for a loved one, I immediately tell them that I will.  So often these prayers are for some kind of healing to take place.  Since my own real conversion to the Lord in 1972, I have seen so many of these prayers answered; but I have also seen so many that seem to be unanswered.  It often appears to be quite a confusing process.  If we pray for someone, and they are healed, it is fantastic.  If we pray for someone and they are not healed, it seems so sad.  A big question to ask is, do we give someone false hope in saying that they may receive a healing?  Another question is what do they think of God who sometimes seems to heal people and sometimes seems to ignore them?  The Church tells us that God wants us to pray to Him for help in every situation.  Scriptures are full of examples of miraculous healings at the hands of Jesus and at the hands of the Apostles and other members of the early Church.  Throughout the ages we have had so many accounts of Saints who have brought healings to people.  It seems that every place where there has been a Marian Apparition, healings abound.  There is no doubt that miraculous healings do occur, but certainly not apparently in every case.

In my own life I have seen miraculous healing occur in me, as a result of prayer.   Around 1980, I went for an annual checkup.  This was done in a clinic where they did all of the body fluid tests, and X-rays and then sent a report to my personal physician.  A few days after the tests, my physician called me and told me he wanted to see me in his office as soon as possible.  I went in and he told me that the chest X-ray that they took showed a mass growing between my heart and my lung.  He also told me that since this report came from a clinic where a lot of people were treated at the same time, a mistake could have been made.  He had me go for a new chest X-ray.  The new X-ray confirmed that there was a sizeable mass growing between my heart and my lung.  My doctor then referred me to a thoracic surgeon.  By now I was quite concerned and I asked my local parish charismatic prayer group to pray for me.  They all gathered around me and laid hands upon me and prayed for a healing.  I went to the thoracic surgeon and he did another X-ray, this time in his own office.  He examined the X-ray and confirmed again the mass being there and said he wanted to schedule me for surgery.  I asked him if it was cancerous and he told me that he really wouldn’t know until a biopsy was done on the removed mass.  I was scheduled for surgery about two weeks away.  I again went to the weekly Charismatic prayer meeting and again they laid hands on me and prayed over me.  A few days before the surgery was scheduled, the surgeon sent me to an X-ray facility for what they called a triangulation X-ray.  He said he needed this to determine the exact depth and location of the mass so he could operate properly.  This was before MRI’s.  After that X-ray was taken, he called me back to his office and told me that somehow the mass had totally disappeared.  He was dumbfounded as to why, but I told him that I had been prayed over for a healing.  He said that was the only explanation he could offer.  He scheduled me for follow up X-rays (I figured that all these X-rays would cause cancer, but I had to do it) and none of the follow ups, to this very day, have shown the mass re-appearing.  I felt very strongly that it was the Lord who had healed me because of the prayers I went through.  God is so good.   I have had other healings in my life too, but this was the most dramatic, and best documented.

I have also witnessed many miraculous healings of others.  In 1982, I was attending a Priest’s and Deacon’s Conference at the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  Although this was open only to Priests and Deacons and Seminarians, on Thursday evening they had a Healing Mass and opened it to the general public.  Several priests, known for healing ministries, were there and concelebrated the mass.  Fr. Ralph DiOrio was one of those priests and he came down walking among the people sprinkling them with Holy Water while prayers for healing were being said.  I was sitting in a row with several priests and deacons and some laypeople.  One nearby man, who came in with sunglasses and a red tipped walking cane, was helped to his seat by his wife.  It was obvious that he was totally blind.  When the Holy Water landed upon him, he let out a large cry and immediately took off his glasses and started looking around.  He kept exclaiming, “I can see, I can see”.  He and his wife were overjoyed and their eyes were filled with tears of joy.  Throughout the rest of the evening the man kept looking all around in wonder.  I especially remember him looking through his wife’s pocketbook and looking at various items and pictures.  I am not sure if he had ever seen during his lifetime.  He acted as if this was the first time he had vision.  It was a very wonderful evening with many healings being attested to.

Another time my wife and I were on a retreat at Mount Saint Augustine in Staten Island.  Fr. Francis MacNutt was leading the weekend.  He was known for the many healings that occurred when he prayed with people.  There was a young woman in her early twenties that was there who had difficulty in walking.  She had one normal shoe and one shoe that had about a six inch lift on it.  She shared that she had been in a bad auto accident and that her leg bone was so damaged that they had to remove six inches from it.  She also suffered from some hip injuries.  She walked on her own with the lift shoe, but not very well.  Fr. MacNutt prayed over her and as hard as it is to believe, her leg started extending. By the time the prayers were over, she had to remove the lift and her regular shoe and walk around barefoot.  She not only walked, she ran around leaping and jumping for joy.  I remember that for the rest of the weekend she had to go around barefoot because her legs were now the same length.  At the end of the weekend, her mom came to pick her up and the minute she saw her daughter leaping and running around in bare feet, she completely broke down in pure joy.  If I hadn’t been there to see the whole thing, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.  But it HAPPENED!  God is good.

I have worked on many healing prayer teams over the last 40 plus years and I have seen many other healings.  I have visited Marian Shrines and have seen healings and the evidence of healings.  I have been at other conventions and retreats and seen healings.  I know, without any doubt, that they do exist.  BUT, I have also prayed with many people who have not been healed.  I find it so difficult to understand why.  Shortly after the healing of the woman with the shortened leg, I came home and went to pray with the teenage son of a member of our prayer group.  This young boy had advanced bone cancer.  I felt for sure that if we kept praying over him, he would be healed.  Unfortunately, he never was, and he died at seventeen.  I kept asking the big WHY?   I don’t pretend to have the answer to that.   Why does healing occur in some people, and not in others?    I really dislike it when people say that it is because they do not have enough faith.  In my experience, this is not true.  Many people with very strong faith have not been healed.  We can only answer the question by stating the obvious….we cannot understand the plans of God.  We can only trust in Him.   We also limit ourselves to what we experience.  Our experience is the limited life span that we as humans normally have.  However, our God has given us the gift of unlimited life for all of eternity.  A child, who dies young, even though we see it as very tragic, is going to live forever.  Our own lifespan now, whether it is only a few hours or over one hundred years, is miniscule compared to all of eternity.  That person who is “taken away” from us will be reunited with us for all eternity.  That is what the Good News is all about.  We have LIFE now, so we can LIVE forever.

So where does that leave us when we need healing or when we are asked to pray for healing?  First of all, we should depend upon the medical profession to help us.  God has given many gifts to the doctors and nurses and others who care for us.  Secondly, when there is serious illness, we should go to our local priest and ask to be given the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.   In addition to these we should pray and ask others to pray for us.   One of the people that we should ask to pray for us is the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She loves her children so very much and wants the best for them.  Her prayers for us are so powerful.   We should also realize that when we don’t see an apparent miracle, God, through our prayers, has been at work in the situation.  Sometimes the healing is more on the spiritual side then on the physical side.  Our prayers work, but not always the way we think that they should.

I believe that we are always called to be filled with the HOPE of a MIRACLE and always continue on in praying for those who need it.  We should pray for the fullness of life and pray for the best of life.  But, we should also know that God has a plan that is much better than we can imagine.  We need to be able to say, “Jesus, I trust in you”.   His plan for us is for all of us to live together with Him forever and forever and forever.  God is good!

A reading from the first apology of Justin Martyr in defense of the Christians, c. 100-165

No one may share in the Eucharist except those who believe in the truth of our teachings and have been washed in the bath which confers forgiveness of sins and rebirth, and who live according to Christ’s commands.

For we do not receive this food as ordinary bread and as ordinary drink; but just as Jesus Christ our Savior became flesh through the word of God, and assumed flesh and blood for our salvation, so too we are taught that the food
over which the prayer of thanksgiving, the word received from Christ, has been said, the food which nourishes our flesh and blood by assimilation, is the flesh and blood of this Jesus who became flesh.

The apostles in their memoirs, which are called gospels, recorded that Jesus left them these instructions: he took bread, pronounced the prayer of thanksgiving, and said: “Do this in memorial of me.  This is my body”.  In the same way he took the cup, pronounced the prayer of thanksgiving, and said; “This is my blood”, and shared it among them and no one else.  From that time on we have always continued to remind one another of this.  Those of us who are well provided help out any who are in need, and we meet together continually.  Over all our offerings we give thanks to the Creator of all through his Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

On Sundays there is an assembly of all who live in towns or in the country, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read for as long as time allows.

Then the reading is brought to an end, and the president delivers an address in which he admonishes and encourages us to imitate in our own lives the beautiful lessons we have heard read.

Then we all stand up together and pray.  When we have finished the prayer, as I have said, bread and wine and water are brought up; the president offers prayers and thanksgiving as best he can, and the people say “Amen” as an
expression of their agreement.  Then follows the distribution of the food over which the prayer of thanksgiving has been recited; all present receive some of it, and the deacons carry some to those who are absent.

Those who are well provided for, if they wish to do so, contribute what each thinks fit; this is collected and left with the president, so that he can help the orphans and the widows and the sick, and all who are in need for any other
reason, such as prisoners and visitors from abroad; in short he provides for all who are in want.

So on Sunday we all come together.  This is the first day, on which God transformed darkness and matter and made the world; the day on which Jesus Christ our Savior rose from the dead.  For on the day before Saturday he was crucified, and on the day after Saturday, that is the Sunday, he appeared to his apostles and disciples and taught them the truths which we have put before you for your consideration.

 

Justin Martyr – Christian apologist, born at Flavia Neapolis (northern west bank of Israel), about A.D. 100, converted to Christianity about A.D. 130, taught and defended the Christian religion in Asia Minor and at Rome, where he suffered martyrdom about the year 165. Two “Apologies” bearing his name and his “Dialogue with the Jew Tryphon” have come down to us. Leo XIII had a Mass and an Office composed in his honor and set his feast for 14 April.