Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Prayer of Divine Protection: Psalm 91

An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. - Luke 22:43

Psalm 91

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

They say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."

 Surely he will save you
from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.

You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you say, "The LORD is my refuge,"
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.

For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.

 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

"Because they love me," says the LORD, "I will rescue them;
I will protect them, for they acknowledge my name.

They will call on me, and I will answer them;
I will be with them in trouble,
I will deliver them and honor them.

With long life I will satisfy them
If you examine the photograph closely, sunlight is creating a beautiful and interesting reflection of Jesus on the right side of the window.

The stained glass window was photographed inside Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church. The Catholic church is located in Boonton, NJ, USA.

Photograph Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar

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Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

(Pray for nine days)

O my Jesus, you have said:
"Truly I say to you,
ask and you will receive,
seek and you will find,
knock and it will be opened to you."
Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of...
(State your intention here.)

Recite the following prayers...

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place all my trust in you.


O my Jesus, you have said:
"Truly I say to you,
if you ask anything of the Father in my name,
he will give it to you."
Behold, in your name,
I ask the Father for the grace of...
(State your intention here.)

Recite the following prayers...

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place all my trust in you.


O my Jesus, you have said:
"Truly I say to you,
heaven and earth will pass away
but my words will not pass away."
Encouraged by your infallible words
I now ask for the grace of...
(State your intention here.)

Recite the following prayers...

Sacred Heart of Jesus,
I place all my trust in you.


O Sacred Heart of Jesus,
for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted,
have pity on us miserable sinners
and grant us the grace which we ask of you,
through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
your tender Mother and ours.

Recite the following prayers...

St. Joseph,
foster father of Jesus,

The statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus was photographed inside St. Cecilia's Church. The Catholic church is located in Rockaway, NJ, USA.

Photograph Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Virgin Mary Appearing in Egypt

Numerous reports in various articles throughout the internet have claimed that the Virgin Mary is appearing at the Coptic Orthodox Church in El-Warraq, Cairo, Egypt. Is it a sign from God that Christians and Muslims should work together for a common cause? Is the claims of an apparition of the Virgin Mary a call for Christians and Muslims to live together in peace?

The Daily Star - Arts & Culture - Late nights in Egypt with the 'Virgin Mary'

The following excerpt is written by Agence France Presse from The Daily Star:

CAIRO: Every night in the run-up to Christmas, thousands of Egypt’s Coptic Christians have been gathering in a Cairo suburb eager for a glimpse of a vision that has given hope to their marginalized community.

It is three hours past midnight in Al-Warraq, a poor working class neighborhood, and a 10,000-strong crowd is silently staring at the sky. Then the appearance of a mysterious light over the church’s bell tower jolts the gathering into a frenzy of cries and ululations. They imagine it is an apparition of the Virgin Mary.

Thousands have been coming nightly since the first sighting of the Virgin Mary on December 10, in the hope of being blessed by her light. The prospect of benediction is being depicted as a much-needed morale boost for the Christian minority, which complains of systematic discrimination and marginalization.

Tea vendors and sweet sellers snake through the crowd where thousands of families have gathered with young children and babies.

“The first person to spot … the Virgin Mary was a Muslim neighbor,” said Father Fishay, a priest at the Warraq church. “He took a video and pictures and distributed them to everyone.”

Hassan, the Muslim neighbor in question, was sitting at his coffee shop at around 8:30 p.m. when he saw a strong light coming from the church. Others began to notice the light and saw a bird circling overhead. At around 2 a.m., Fishay said, a vision of the Virgin Mary appeared.

News of the apparition prompted hundreds to rush out with mobile phones to capture the momentous event. “It’s her, with her blue-and-white clothes,” enthused Rami, 36. “There is no doubt about it. It cannot be an illusion.”

“The church closes its doors in the evening,” said Fishay in his measured manner. “We were not there when the image appeared the first time, so we decided to come back the second night.”

Nabil, 32, his wife Mariam, 28, and their three children came from Shubra al-Kheima, some 20 kilometers away, to receive the Virgin’s blessings. “Her appearance means she approves of us and if she blesses us,” Mariam opined. “We will stay ’til morning.”

Her husband said the sighting proves that Christianity is still alive. He is angry over the recent publication of an article in a periodical of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s highest seat of learning, questioning the foundations of Christianity. “The apparition of the Virgin Mary,” he said, “means that Christianity is real and the Bible is real.”

Around 10 percent of the 80 million population, Egypt’s Christians complain they are kept out of jobs in the army, judiciary and universities.

“It is not possible to know the reason for the Virgin’s appearance,” Fishay said.

“Maybe it will end the state of tension between Muslims and Christians and an end to extremism. Maybe it’ll bring back forgiveness like there once used to be in Egypt.”

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Friday, December 25, 2009

The Birth of Jesus

Merry Christmas!

The Birth of Jesus - Luke 2:1-20

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."

When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."

So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

The upper stained glass window detail was photographed inside St. Rose of Lima Church. The Catholic Church is located in East Hanover, NJ.  The lower stained glass window was photographed inside St. Virgil Church, Morris Plains, NJ, USA.

Photograph Copyright 2009 Loci B. Lenar

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Weeping Icon of St. Nicholas, Hempstead, New York

Courtesy of John Sanidopoulos

The following report regarding the St. Nicholas Icon and video is found on the website of the Saint Nicholas Center:

The video was taken by Bishop Savas while he was chancellor of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America in June 2008.

He wrote:

Long story short: I took this video in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of St Paul in Hempstead, New York, around 3:15 p.m. on June 22, 2008, Sunday of All Saints. This icon of St Nicholas the Wonderworker began to stream a clear, sweet-smelling liquid during the celebration of the Divine Liturgy in the morning. I don't know what to make of it. It smells of myrrh. I don't know if I would have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes, handled it with my own hands, inhaled the aroma for myself. Take a look and see for yourselves. +S

Apparently it began gushing myrrh on Pentecost Sunday and it was examined by the Greek Archdiocese a week later on the Sunday of All Saints when this video was taken. The weeping stopped within about a month of when it began.

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MacKillop to become Australia's First Saint

MacKillop to become Australia's first saint - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

The following excerpt is from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation:

Australia will have its first Roman Catholic saint after Pope Benedict approved a decree recognising a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Mary MacKillop.

The approval means Blessed Mary is likely to be formally declared a saint at a canonisation ceremony next year.

Blessed Mary (1842-1909), who founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph, is revered by Catholics for her work, especially with needy children, former female prisoners and prostitutes.

She was beatified by pope John Paul II in 1995.

The miracle approved on Saturday involved the healing of a person who had cancer and was cured after praying to Blessed Mary.

Sister Anne Derwin from the Sisters of Saint Joseph says many have been inspired by Blessed Mary's work in education and with the poor.

"It's not only the sisters, but many other people, men and women, who love the way Mary MacKillop lived her life," she said.

"They try and live in that spirit too, and do great things for people."

Sister Derwin says the Pope's decision is a significant event for the church in Australia.

"Mary herself wouldn't have expected this sort of limelight, but it makes us feel excited that the gift she was given for the church, for the world, is being recognised as valuable," Sister Derwin said.

"And that was a gift to focus on those most in need in our society."

Mary MacKillop was born in Melbourne, worked throughout South Australia and died in North Sydney.

She co-founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart in 1866 but was excommunicated from the Church at one stage for allegedly disobeying authorities.

However she continued to spend her life caring for those less fortunate.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Healing Mass Celebration at World Apostolate of Fatima, USA

Mother MaryFatima - Our Lady of Fatima - World Apostolate of Fatima, USA - Blue Army Shrine

The World Apostolate of Fatima, USA, will continue in 2010 to celebrate Healing Masses with Father Paul Ruge. Father Paul is the chaplain and spiritual advisor at the Catholic shrine.

The National Blue Army Shrine of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is located in Warren County on 674 Mountain View Road, Washington, New Jersey 07882. The shrine is part of the World Apostolate of Fatima and is devoted to spreading the message of Our Lady of Fatima.

The first scheduled Mass will begin with Divine Mercy Prayer at 3:00 PM on Sunday, January 3, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. Healing Masses will also include the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick right after the Homily.  For any changes or updates on the Healing Mass schedule, please call the shrine at the following number (908) 689-1700.

The Healing Mass Schedule for 2010:

Sunday, January 3, 2010
Sunday, February 7, 2010
Sunday, March 7, 2010
Sunday May 2, 2010 
Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Sunday, October 3, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010

In time of sickness, it's always prudent to seek the appropriate medical treatment from a doctor.

However, James 5:14-15 states that during times of illness, we should focus on the Word of God and also seek help from our minister or priest by "summoning the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven."

News of Interest Regarding the Shrine:

On October 18, 2009, the World Apostolate of Fatima (USA), and EWTN held a televised event of One World Praying for Life and Peace.  Some visitors that attended were blessed to witness the Miracle of the Sun during the prayer service.  For additional details about the story, please visit the following links:  Miracle of the Sun Witnessed at Fatima Shrine in New Jersey or Signs, Wonders, and Miracles

Photograph By Loci B. Lenar

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Miraculous Healing of Ethan Stacy

The following inspirational story of God's miraculous healing of Ethan Stacy's leukemia appeared on the Christian Broadcasting Network: - By the time Ethan’s parents took the long painful walk through the cemetery to see the place where they would bury their son, Ethan Stacy was within days of death.

Ethan was already under the care of a hospice nurse. His body was rapidly shutting down.

According to Dr. Melissa Rhodes, Ethan had AML, an aggressive type of leukemia. She serves in the oncology unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., where she was one of Ethan’s physicians.

“Children who are actually born with leukemia don’t usually do very well,” Dr. Rhodes says. “The best that we could offer was to put Ethan through difficult chemotherapy and still not know that he would make it through.”

In fact, chemotherapy is so toxic for newborns that doctors gave Ethan’s parents the option not to treat their son. After two weeks in the hospital, Chad and Mandy made the painful decision to take their son home.

 “The chemo could kill him,” Chad says. “There are all kinds of risks.”

“We came home and I remember lying in bed and praying,” Mandy says. “We said, ‘God, give us an answer’. We both woke up the next morning and both said, ‘Nope, we’re not going to put him through it’.”

Most doctors at Vanderbilt supported that decision. “We figured if Ethan truly had the kind of leukemia that we felt he had, then even with full treatment he may not do well,” says Dr. Rhodes. “For that reason we felt it was right to honor the family’s decision.”

After only a few days at home, Ethan’s baby acne, which is common in newborns, had become infected. So they went back to the hospital. That’s when the tumors began to show up…

“We noticed a lump in his calf,” says Mandy. “We paged the doctor, and they told us that it could be a blood clot or a build up of the leukemia cells, which is called chloroma.”

Tumors started popping up in other places such as Ethan’s feet, hands, and his forearm.

“Leukemia itself means cancer of the blood; it’s a blood disease,” explains Dr. Rhodes. “But in this particular kind of leukemia it can also go out into the tissues. That’s what we believe was happening with Ethan. He actually had leukemia in his skin, in his hands, his feet, and his legs, as well as in his liver and spleen which is more common. So he was showing that he had a very advanced disease at that point.”

Ethan was now about three weeks old, and his condition really started to decline. He stopped eating and began to experience sleep apnea.

“The nurse told me that he might develop what’s called sepsis, which would be a total body infection, and that he would go peacefully or he might hemorrhage,” Mandy recalls. “I would see blood in his diaper or maybe coming out of his ears. I was so scared to open up his diaper to even change it.”

When the hospice nurse arrived, Chad and Mandy knew they were near the end but Chad, Mandy and their friends continued to pray… believing God for the impossible.

“I remember rocking him and singing, ‘Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you’,” Mandy says. “I knew that if I just focused my mind on Christ that’s the only way that I could make it through.”

The night that Ethan faced his greatest medical crisis, something happened. “Mandy late that night started feeding, and he started taking his bottle a little bit at a time,” Chad says.

The next day, Ethan was a little stronger… But was he having one final rebound before death?

 Mandy says, “I remember sitting at the kitchen table and saying, ‘I believe God’s healing him. I can see God working.’ Then he just gradually started getting better. And over the next week, we were back up to six ounces of formula every three hours.”

Over the next two weeks, Ethan improved! And when Mandy took him back to Vanderbilt to check his blood counts? “His platelets level was like 415,000 -- in normal range, where it had been 39,000 at his lowest point.”

This stumped Dr. Rhodes and her colleagues. “Ethan had gotten about as sick as a baby could possibly get and then spontaneously got better. So we wanted to look. We did the bone marrow test, which showed no evidence of leukemia. The tumors gradually went down over a period of probably a week or so. It was just remarkable to witness it.”

Chad and Mandy knew they had witnessed a miracle when they repeated the bone marrow biopsy in July with the same results.

Today, Ethan Stacy is a strapping two-year-old, who loves playing with his dad and big sister Kaylee. It goes without saying that the Stacys are thankful.

"The prayers of my friends and church members meant everything to me,” Chad says.

Mandy agrees. “It’s just awesome that we have a God like that… I just can’t get over the miracles. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for him because I know it’s going to be big.”

To view the inspiring story on video, please visit the following link: Stacy Family Witnesses a Miracle in Their Son

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy in Song

'THE CHAPLET OF DIVINE MERCY IN SONG,' comes from producer, Trish Short and was performed on EWTN.

I recommend listening to the beautiful combination of words and music. For additional information about the song, please visit the following link:

The Chaplet of Divine Mercy was written by St. Faustina Kowalska as a result of visions she had from Jesus Christ, who revealed Himself as the Divine Mercy. I would suggest praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for God's peace to enfold nations, religious denominations, and people. 

For information regarding St. Faustina, please visit the following link:  Catholic Online

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Call for Peaceful Coexistence Between Christians and Muslims

Cardinal Bertone calls for religious freedom and respect for human rights in Arab countries

The following article appeared on the Catholic News Agency (CNA):

Rome, Italy, Dec 12, 2009 - In what constitutes the first interview for a documentary on the Vatican produced by the Al Jazeera network in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, encouraged the fostering of religious freedom and respect for human rights in Arab countries, especially in the Middle East.

According to L'Osservatore Romano, Cardinal Bertone explained that dialogue between Catholics and Muslims is an "important factor for peace and respect.” He also encouraged "a peaceful coexistence of all with all," explaining that the Church "defends the rights of all: the right to live, the right to education, the right of association, the rights of all minorities."

In that sense, he said, "it is necessary to ensure freedom to worship for everyone, dialoguing and working together to help those who are most in need." "The Church,” he added, "promotes the welfare of peoples regardless of their religion." Given that fact, he urged the defense of minorities, especially Christians "who are in Muslim countries,” a task that "we must pursue together."

Cardinal Bertone went on to discuss his telephone conversation with the Patriarch of Baghdad, Cardinal Emmanuel Delly, after the terrible attacks that hit the offices of the Chaldean Patriarchate, among other areas.

Addressing the people of the Middle East, the Cardinal urged "Arab Christians to stay, because they play a positive role, although some may make mistakes." This is an issue that is often raised when policy makers from the region visit the Vatican, he said.

The Al Jazeera Documentary

The new documentary, which is intended to show the reality of the Vatican to the Muslim world and will be broadcast by in six months, also includes interviews with several cardinals. Among those prelates are: Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue; Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture; Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy for Vita.

According Kenawi Mohamed, Cardinal Bertone's interviewer, "the decision to make the documentary stems from the desire to make known the universal reality of the Catholic Church and the Vatican to the Arab and Muslim world, in particular the Vatican, an independent entity guided by the pope, who is both a spiritual leader and head of state."

Kenawi said the documentary, which has been well received by members of the Roman Curia, "can serve to help the Arab world better understand the figure of the pope and the role of the Holy See in the current international scenario.”

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Saturday, December 05, 2009

Vatican and Russia moving towards full establishment of diplomatic relations

Holy See and Russia moving towards full establishment of diplomatic relations

The following article appeared on the Catholic News Agency:

Vatican City, December 4, 2009 (CNA) - At the conclusion of the meeting this week at the Apostolic Palace between Pope Benedict XVI and Russian President Dmitrij Medvedev, the Vatican announced that full diplomatic relations between the Holy See and the Russian Federation will be established.

According to a statement from the Holy See’s Press Office, the meeting included "an exchange of views on the international economic and political situation in light of the encyclical, 'Caritas in Veritate'” and a discussion on "the current challenges in terms of security and peace.”

“There was also discussion of various cultural and social issues of common interest, such as family values and the contribution of believers to Russian society."

Following the discussions, which lasted just under 30 minutes, the Pontiff and the Russian president exchanged gifts, with the Russian leader presenting the Holy Father with a picture of St.Basil's Cathedral in Red Square and 22 volumes of the Orthodox Encyclopedia. "I won’t know how to read them," the Pope joked, to which Medvedev replied, “Someone will help you.”

For his part, Pope Benedict XVI gave the Russian president a gold medal from his pontificate and the first copy of the Russian translation of the encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate.”

Kremlin spokesman Natalia Timakova said, "President Medvedev told Pope Benedict XVI during the meeting today that he has signed a decree on the establishment of full diplomatic relations with the Vatican. He has instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to lead the talks for establishing diplomatic relations and raising the status of each party’s representatives, at the embassy level and the Apostolic Nuncio."

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Optimism About the Road to Catholic-Orthodox Unity

Orthodox Patriarch Optimistic About Unity - Catholic Online

The following article appeared on Catholic Online:

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is affirming that progress is being made on the path to Catholic-Orthodox unity.

ISTANBUL, Turkey ( - Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I is affirming that progress is being made on the path to Catholic-Orthodox unity, and says uprooting the obstacle caused by the "thorny question" of papal primacy will be key for continued progress.

The patriarch of Constantinople made this affirmation when he welcomed a delegation from the Holy See for Monday's feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Orthodox Church.

The Vatican delegation was headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper and Bishop Brian Farrell, president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

Bartholomew said the presence of the delegation in Istanbul "confirms the desire to eliminate the impediments accumulated in the course of a millennium to attain the fullness of communion."

An Orthodox delegation makes a similar visit to the Vatican for the June 29 feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.

"We attribute great symbolic meaning to your presence here, as it also reveals the desire of the Most Holy Church of Rome to do everything possible to regain our unity in the same faith and in sacramental communion, according to the will of the One who has called us to unity so that the world will believe," Bartholomew I said in his message.

He said the path to communion, as lived by the two Churches for the first Christian millennium, "has been undertaken with the dialogue of love and truth."

And, the patriarch affirmed, this dialogue "progresses, by the grace of God, despite the occasional difficulties."

The current theme being tackled by the joint Orthodox-Catholic commission is the question of papal primacy in the first millennium, before the split between the two Churches.

The commission met in Cyprus in October.

"Everyone is aware that this thorny question has caused great contention in the relationship between our two Churches," Bartholomew I observed. "For this reason, to uproot this impediment between us would surely foster our path to unity."

The study of the history of the Church in the first millennium "will also be the cornerstone for the evaluation of other subsequent developments in the course of the second millennium," he affirmed, invoking the gifts of humility and dialogue to accept the truth.

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