Posts by popemichael

Saint Stephen and some thoughts on ministry

Posted by on Dec 26, 2019 in Catholic Action, Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Dear friends in Christ,

Yesterday Our thoughts in meditation led Us to the sixth chapter in Acts. This morning (Feast of Saint Stephen), the first nocturn Scripture is taken from the same chapter of Acts.

“But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4) There is much fruit in this for all Christians, but especially for those in the clergy called to the Office of preaching. Notice that the Apostles appointed deacons, so that they could give themselves continually to prayer. Prayer is mentioned first, because all Christians are called to constant prayer. “And he spoke also a parable to them, that we ought always to pray, and not to faint,” (Luke 18:1; We recommend reading the parable that follows.)

The Vulgate refers us to the first chapter of Acts (1:14): “All these were persevering with one mind in prayer with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” As Christians we should also be persevering together in one mind, as the Christians were before the first Pentecost. The Apostles were awaiting the Holy Ghost and were observing the first Novena (nine days of prayer) between the Ascension and Pentecost. The balance of the Christians were praying, asking God’s blessing on the Apostles, just as all Christians are called to pray for the Pastors, God has appointed over them, the Pope, the Bishop of their diocese and the Pastor of their parish.

The Vulgate also refers us to the second chapter of Acts (2:42): “And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers.” After Pentecost, the early Christians were persevering in three things, the doctrine of the Apostles, the Mass and in prayers. Jesus told the Devil: “It is written, Not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4) Notice the order here. The doctrine of the Faith comes first. And we learn this doctrine by the teaching and preaching of the Apostles and their legitimate successors in the ministry of the word.

“And it came to pass, as he spoke these things, a certain woman from the crowd, lifting up her voice, said to him: Blessed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps that gave thee suck. But he said: Yea rather, blessed are they who hear the word of God, and keep it.” (Luke 11:27-28) Saint John Vianney, the holy Cure of Ars comments on this passage from Sacred Scripture: “Perhaps it seems to you, my brethren, that Jesus Christ teaches us that he who hears the word of God with the earnest wish to profit by it, is more pleasing to God than he who receives Him in Holy Communion. Yes, without a doubt, my brethren, we have never really understand what a precious gift the word of God is.” Without the word of God, we are not properly prepared to appreciate the Holy Eucharist, and thus receive it but coldly at best. The word of God coming in the written form from the Holy Ghost in Sacred Scripture, and taught to us orally by those God has sent to us through His holy Church prepares us to properly receive the Holy Sacraments.

The prophet Amos (8:11) tells us of a time to come: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, and I will send forth a famine into the land: not a famine of bread, nor a thirst of water, but of hearing the word of the Lord.”

Let us return to Acts: “But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4) Only after those, who possess the Office of preaching have become men of prayer, devoting themselves constantly to prayer, then they devote themselves to the ministry of the word. “If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” (I Corinthians 13:1) Charity only comes through prayer and without charity (We recommend spending much time in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, and in reading Saint Alphonsus work on this chapter. https://amzn.to/2t07kUG) our preaching will be worthless.

There are two stories where a pastor approached another priest for advice. Both pastors started enumerating all of the preaching and projects they had done in order to make their flocks more fervent, but saw no success in their work. Both pastors were asked by the other priest: “Have you fasted? Have you prayed? If not you have done nothing.” We, as Pastors, are tempted to begin with the ministry of the word without the necessary preparation of prayer and fasting. Pray that pastors do not fall into this trap. Remember that your Pastors NEED your prayers and sacrifices as well. We all have responsibility for the Church, our Diocese and our Parish and the Pastors God has placed over us.

How can we sit idly by, when there is a famine of hearing the word of God. (Amos 8:11) Yes there is a famine of hearing the word of God. We see the evidence every where.

In Acts we read that the Apostles appointed deacons to take care of the simpler chores of ministry to free them for prayer and the ministry of the word. Today, pastors are constrained even to take secular employment in order to support the ministry of the word, and this takes us away from prayer and the actual ministry.

“But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.” (I Corinthians 7:33) In the early ages of the Church, the Bishop of a diocese was considered married to his Church. If a Pastor must take secular work in order to support the ministry of the word in his parish, his diocese, or in the case of the Pope, in the world, then he also feels this division. Let us pray and work that this necessity may be lifted from pastors.

Above all, let us acquire the spirit of prayer, so that even when we are divided and distracted by worldly concerns, we are still close to Almighty God,

Have a blessed Christmas season,

With Our Apostolic Blessing,

+Michael pp

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The Real Meaning of Penance

Posted by on Dec 5, 2019 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

John the Baptist said: “Do penance: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 3:2) A footnote in the Bible says: “Penance: Which word, according to the use of the scriptures and the holy fathers, does not only signify repentance and amendment of life, but also punishing past sins by fasting, and such like penitential exercises.”

Dear friends,

Before we consider the above, We would like to remind everyone that Saturday, December 7th is the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception, a day of fast and partial abstinence. Wednesday, December 18, is Ember Wednesday with the customary fasting and partial abstinence. Friday and Saturday (20 and 21) of that week are also Ember Days with the Customary fasting. Abstinence is full on Fridays as it is on all Fridays, and partial on Saturday.

Penance here consists of three things. The first is repentance of our sins, which is a good things to remember in this penitential season of Advent. And so repent of your sins and confess them to a priest sent from God. The next essential step is amendment of our life. The Fathers of the Church tell us that conversion is a complete change of customs and habits. Go now and sin no more, Jesus advised two different people in the Gospels.

Once we have repented and asked God to help us change our customs and habits in order to amend our life, then we are ready to undertake penitential exercises. These go beyond the weak fast laws of today and should be tailored to bring our body into subjection. (I Corinthians 9:27)

When we read the word penance let us remember what it truly means.

Have a Blessed Advent,

+Michael pp

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A Sacred Moment

Posted by on Oct 26, 2019 in Sanctification | 0 comments

A Sacred Moment

Dear friends,

Yesterday We had a sacred moment. While reading and taking to heart some material, We had a sacred moment. Recently we closed down the VIE Catholic radio station and replaced it with podcasts, flowing from programs we produced here to make these podcasts. The new format makes it easier for people to hear what they want to hear, when they want to hear it, which is a great improvement over the internet radio station approach. The project is called Encouragement For Today, and don’t we all need encouragement in our Christian walk? https://www.encouragementfortoday.com/ One of the podcasts is Sacred Moments, and We believe is an important concept. We all need to have sacred moments, whether from a podcast or from something we read, something that comes to mind, an event in our life, etc. If we are not returning to God spontaneously on occasion, then we need to check into our spiritual life. We pray you find the podcasts inspiring and look forward to your feedback.

+Michael pp

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September Ember Week

Posted by on Sep 15, 2019 in Sanctification | 1 comment

I could use two secretaries. I do almost nothing during the day but write letters. I am a conventual preacher, reader at meals, parochial preacher, director of studies, overseer of eleven monasteries, superintendent of the fish pond at Litzkau, referee of the squabble at Torgau, lecturer on Paul, collector of material for a commentary on the Psalms, and then, as I said, I am overwhelmed with letters. I rarely have full time for the canonical hours and for saying Mass, not to mention my own temptations with the world, the flesh, and the Devil. You see how lazy I am.”

In looking at Our own life, We could rattle off a list of things as this man did in a letter above over five centuries ago. In fact, as We were writing this, an interruption came in, and We see a squabble brewing elsewhere, that We will have to deal with. Actually this man omitted something very important, setting aside time for prayer. (I will tell you who he was in a moment.) Four times a year, we are given three days to bring us back on course, the Ember Days. This year in the fall, they are Wednesday, September 18, Friday September 20 and Saturday, September 21. In addition to the customary fasting the Ember Week is ideal for focusing on our spiritual life and getting back on track, if we have wandered off. And consider the distractions of summer, that can take us from what is truly important. We are entering fall. It is time to tune up our spiritual life and restore prayer to the first place, if it has slipped from there.

This man was Martin Luther, and this letter written before he defected from the Faith. A fall from a serious life of prayer leads to apostasy. Pray or die are our options. This Ember Week, we plan on spending Our spare time in considering some changes in Our life. This week sees Us occupied every day with something that would go on the list above.

“But he that is with a wife, is solicitous for the things of the world, how he may please his wife: and he is divided.” (I Corinthians 7:33) As we can see from Martin Luther, our lives can become divided even without having a wife. Our own division is caused in part by Our wife, the Church. In the early centuries of the Church, Bishops were considered to be married to their own church, which we call a diocese today. So, when a man became Bishop of a diocese, he was Bishop until death did part him from his diocese. He was not transferred to another.

“But one thing is necessary. Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42) Let us also choose to be at the feet of Jesus as much as duty will allow. Today’s sermon is on Spiritual Communion, and although We leave in thirty minutes for two Masses and 350 miles traveling, it is not yet printed out. We hope to prepare it also for the new podcasts, which are replacing the internet radio station, which became too much of a burden with our limited resources here. Also for the Olive Tree.

Let us withdraw from the world as much as duty will allow this Ember Week and enjoy the best part. Let us make Spiritual Communions as well: “I believe that Thou, O Jesus, art in the most Most Holy Sacrament! I love Thee and desire Thee! Come into my heart. I embrace Thee; oh, never leave me! Never let me leave Thee!”

Oremus,

+Michael pp

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Spiritual Communion

Posted by on Sep 2, 2019 in Pope Michael, Sanctification | 0 comments

Saint John Vianney tells us that the whole life of a Christian should be a preparation to receive Holy Communion.

Dear friends in Christ,

Except for helping a friend get to and from work today, this morning there were no plans. After making a 350 mile round trip for a mission in south central Kansas We are ready for a break and planned on finding something to send to you. And then the work arrived. First something for Our Daily Passion Podcast website. And then a thought, which We are expanding.

In this time of apostasy it is difficult to find a place where a Mass is celebrated that is pleasing to Almighty God. Several things have made Our trips to southern Kansas difficult, causing several of Our bi-weekly visits to be cut off. We were discussing the spiritual losses from inability to assist at Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist.

How should we prepare to receive Holy Communion? We see above our whole life is a preparation. Much can be said on this, but We ask you to consider this in your hour of prayer. We began with thinking about Spiritual Communion, and opened the appropriate file. While We were reviewing Our notes, a thought came to Our mind. What about preparing something more specific on preparing for Holy Communion. And then another thought for later on, preparing a series of considerations to help us become far more sincere in living the Catholic way of life, for Catholicism is not a religion, but a way of life.

Let us return to Spiritual Communion. Saint Alphonsus tells us: “How pleasing these spiritual Communions are to God, and the many graces which he bestows through their means, was manifested by our Lord himself to Sister Paula Maresca, the foundress of the convent of St. Catharine of Sienna in Naples, when (as it is related in her life) he showed her two precious vessels, the one of gold, the other of silver. He then told her that in the gold vessel he preserved her sacramental Communions, and in the silver one her spiritual Communions. He also told Blessed Jane of the Cross that each time that she communicated spiritually she received a grace of the same kind as, the one that she received when she really communicated. Above all, it will suffice for us to know that the holy Council of Trent greatly praises spiritual Communions, and encourages the faithful to practise them.” He continues that we can make a Spiritual Communion anytime we want. Unlike actual Communion, we do not have to be fasting. In fact Spiritual Communion is a good preparation for Sacramental Communion.

One may find prayers in prayer books that will help, but our prayer must reflect the dispositions of our heart and not be mere words. When We make a brief visit to the chapel or at other times We recite a prayer adapted from Saint Alphonsus, who preovides several prayers. (We hope to publish something on this, first for the Olive Tree and later something in more depth.) “I believe that Thou, O Jesus, art in the most Most Holy Sacrament! I love Thee and desire Thee! Come into my heart. I embrace Thee; oh, never leave me! Never let me leave Thee!” Do we truly desire Jesus to come into our heart and soul and change them?

Through Spiritual Communion we can come close to Jesus and welcome Him into our hearts, which is what we desire. Let us bring the holy practice of Spiritual Communion into our prayer life, especially as part of our more formal times of prayer, such as morning and evening prayers.

We now return to labor on this Labor Day in the United States.

+Michael pp

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