Inspirational Psalms

…in his pride he thinks that God doesn’t matter.

Psalm 10:4


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A Profound Form of Prayer
Written by Fr. Dennis Billy, CSsR   

0315_C1.jpgHow does contemplative prayer fit into Catholicism's teaching on prayer?

March 2015

Contemplation is one of the most profound, yet often misunderstood, types of prayer in the Christian tradition. Profound because it plumbs the depths of the human soul and exposes it in silence before the mystery of God. Misunderstood because many of us mistakenly believe it pertains to a select few, not ordinary people like us. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Contemplation is for everyone.  It touches something very deep in our hearts. It taps into an important aspect of our human makeup and encourages us to relate to God in the most authentic way possible. We are called to contemplation because all of us long, at some level, to rest in the presence of the Lord. Contemplation is necessary if we wish to share in God’s friendship and be led by his Spirit.

 


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"Hold me so I can kiss mum"
Written by Fr. Joe Maier, CSsR   

"to our neighbors and  friends: How arrogant we are to dare tell your stories. But humbly we ask your pardon and forgiveness if we have goofed and not told the story properly or showed any disrespect in any way.”

— FR. JOE MAIER, CSSR

Editor’s note: Decades-long service under abominable conditions by a Redemptorist priest embodies Liguorian’s February theme, the Whole of Humanity. Fr. Joe Maier, CSsR, has administered to Bangkok’s poorest families for more than forty years through Mercy Centre in the Klong Toey slums of Bangkok, Thailand. The center’s people offer hospice, shelter, education, love, and hope to the poor and suffering. Fr. Maier has published numerous articles and two books to give a voice to the afflictions of his brothers and sisters in Christ. What follows is an excerpt from his article in the Bangkok Post relaying how a four-year-old girl coped with her grief following the death of her young mother. To learn more about the human condition, read Fr. Maier’s books recounting the stories of those he’s encountered: The Open Gate of Mercy: Stories from Bangkok’s Klong Toey Slum (2012), and The Gospel of Father Joe: Revolutions and Revelations in the Slums of Bangkok (2008).

 

The sorrow is intense. Maybe it’s the time of day. Maybe it’s the weather. But I don’t think these things matter much. She’s four years and a few weeks old, and we just brought her “home”—in tears. Even at four, she knows her mum won’t ever pick her up from school again like she promised. We’d all gathered at the temple for the cremation. Miss Aye was playing outside with her kindergarten chums when the loudspeaker announced, “Time to begin the ceremonies.” She left her friends and walked over and sat by herself on the bottom of the steps going up to the platform of the crematorium. Everyone told her that she couldn’t go up the twelve stairs to where the body of her dead mother was. At four years old, she couldn’t understand all the fuss and bother nor possibly digest what had happened to Mum. So as the platter of mai jan being offered to everyone passed by her, she reached up and picked one off the platter. Mai jan is a small lotus flower made of rice paper with a tiny joss stick (similar to incense) and a candle attached. The holder places the symbolically sacred symbol on the funeral pyre, partaking ceremoniously in the cremation. Miss Aye threw her mai jan on the ground and just stared at it, breaking all protocol. Everyone was aghast because you don’t do that. No one ever shows insolence toward mai jan. It’s like showing no respect for the dead; that you’re not docile; that you don’t follow the rules. Then, even more ghastly to tradition, she picked up the mai jan, ran up the stairs and placed it on her mother’s picture. She hugged the picture and cried and cried. You could hear her sobbing: “Mummy, don’t go away. You will be all alone. I won’t be able to hug you and tell you that I love you.” Her mum, only thirty-eight and pretty even in death, died of tuberculosis and AIDS. Suddenly Miss Aye stopped sobbing. In the breach of silence, our best house mum and I climbed the stairs together. She was lying there, motionless but in tears, holding the picture of her mum. Our best house mum motioned to a dozen children, her school peers. They all ran up and hugged her, collapsing into a gaggle of four-year-olds, consoling her as only four-year-olds can do.


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Ferguson: Healing Amid Heartbreak
Written by Dave Luecking   

0215_Cover.jpgCatholics began helping right after the shooting and continue to serve with Jesus' word as their guide

February 2015

Within hours of the shooting on that hot Saturday afternoon in August, Sr. Cathy Doherty, SSND, understood the magnitude of the death of Michael Brown. A shooting death, any death, yields an aftermath and an implicit call for healing; but this was something bigger. As she greeted parishioners at the 5 pm Mass at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014, the Guadalupe pastoral associate learned not only the basic news of the event but a detail that foreshadowed the strife and unrest that lay ahead: The street where Brown was killed was still closed five hours after the shooting. “That’s when I realized it wasn’t ‘just’ a shooting death,” Sr. Doherty said. “There was a difference in this one.” In this one, which took place a couple of miles from Our Lady of Guadalupe, a white Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson, shot and killed Brown, 18, an unarmed African American Ferguson resident. Brown’s body lay in the street for more than four hours because, with gunfire in the area, police were concerned about the safety of the men removing the body. The delay helped fuel the subsequent unrest. Race and a shooting death proved a volatile mix. Violence erupted—both in the immediate aftermath and three months later when a grand jury determined Wilson wouldn’t be indicted. In total, rioters torched nearly two dozen businesses, broke windows in about fifty others, and looted them all. People lost their livelihoods, their life’s work ruined, while surviving businesses suffered due to fewer customers. Schools were closed, and children wondered why Mommy and Daddy were so frightened. Through the chaos, the Catholic Church has been present in Ferguson—following closely the admonition of Pope Francis: “To love God and neighbor is not something abstract, but profoundly concrete: it means seeing in every person the face of the Lord to be served, to serve him concretely.” From the spiritual aspect of prayer to the tangible works of Catholic charity, the Church has worked to bring healing to the area.


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Bearing Gifts
Written by Thomas J. Craughwell   

The Epiphany is the perfect time for a closer look at the Magi and their gifts

January 2015

Cologne’s magnificent cathedral stands on a rise overlooking the Rhine. As is true of so many Catholic churches, the cathedral’s architect designed it in the shape of a cross. On the church roof, at the point where the upright and the crossbeam meet, there is a tall, thin spire that’s topped—not with a cross as you’d expect—but with a multipointed golden star. The reason: directly below the star-crowned spire lie the relics of the Wise Men, the Magi who followed a star out of their homelands in the East and came to Bethlehem to worship the Christ Child, the newborn
king. We’ll return to the relics in a moment, but first let’s look at the great feast of the Epiphany and how the Fathers of the Church interpreted the story of the three kings and found profound meaning in their choice of gifts. The term Epiphany comes from the Greek word epiphaneia, which means “manifestation.” When the angel appeared to the shepherds of Bethlehem, he announced to the Jews that the Messiah they had longed to see for centuries had come at last and was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. But Christ had not come into the world only to bring salvation to the children of Israel, he had come to save all of humanity, and so when three Gentiles—the three kings—arrived at the stable in Bethlehem, the Christ Child made it manifest. In short, he revealed himself to them as the Savior of the entire world.


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To Light and Guard: Angels in the Bible
Written by Dianne Bergand, CSA   

December 2014

Angel of God, my guardian dear,
To whom God’s love commits me here,
Ever this day be at my side,
To light and guard, rule and guide.
Amen.

Who didn’t recite this prayer as a child? Or what Catholic-schooled student wasn’t told to make room on her or his desk seat for his or her guardian angel? Pictures of guardian angels looking after children who stand innocently in the face of danger abound. But, what does all this mean to our faith? And where does the idea of guardian angels come from?

 


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Restoring Christian Unity
Written by Edward Mulholland, PhD   

1114_C1.jpgNovember 2014

Fifty years ago, on November 21, 1964, the Second Vatican Council issued a decree that began with the words highlighted on the next page. Unitatis Redintegratio (“the restoration of unity” or the Decree on Ecumenism) was not the first document issued by the Church calling for unity among Christians, but it marked a change of tone and, since its publication, many Church efforts claim it as their inspiration. With a half-century of hindsight, it is useful to recall the lessons of the decree, to take a summary look at past and current efforts stemming from it, and ask ourselves what we can do to live out its lessons. As the first sentence bears out, the document deals with the unity among Christians. It does not speak of the relationship between Catholics and Jews or other non-Christian religions (which was addressed in Declaration on the Relationship of the Church to Non-Christian Religions [Nostra Aetate].) As the word “restoration” implies, the document focuses on those communities which were in full communion with the Catholic Church but broke away. The “unity” discussed is indeed a project for the future, but it was at some point also historical fact. On the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, January 25, 1959, St. John XXIII shocked a group of cardinals by announcing both a Synod for the Diocese of Rome and an Ecumenical Council for the Universal Church.

 


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End of Life Decisions: What is Our Moral Responsibility?
Written by Fr. Thomas Nairn, OFM, PhD   

October 2014

The experience of serious illness and dying is often ambiguous, even for Catholics. We know that Christians are called to face the reality of death and dying with the hope and confidence that our faith brings. We hear in the preface of the funeral liturgy that “life is changed, not ended.” Yet our natural feeling toward death often remains as one of loss, separation, and fear. Ambiguity can also surround our experience of medicine and health care. We accept cures that are commonplace today that were unheard of as little as a generation ago, but we also know the story of medicine as one of outcomes that are poorer than promised, of partial cures that create further difficulties, and of continuing decline. The same technology that changed the face of medicine has also made decisions at this stage of life more complicated. What is our moral responsibility as Christians?


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Dorothy Day and the Little Way
Written by Robert Ellsberg   

September 2014

On June 15, 1955, a siren sounded, signaling a nuclear-attack drill. The entire population of New York City obediently sought shelter in basements and subway stations, or, in the case of schoolchildren, under their desks. According to the authorities, this first in a series of civil-defense drills was a “complete success.” Well, almost. It was marred by a middle-age, whitehaired woman and twenty-six others who refused to play this war game. Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, and her companions instead sat in City Hall Park, where they were arrested and later sentenced to jail. The judge who imposed bail likened the protesters to “murderers” who had contributed to the “utter destruction of these three million theoretically killed in our city.”


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Our Faith Calls Us To Action
Written by Fr. Allan Weinert, CSsR   

0914_C1.jpgAn Alternative Rite of Passage

September 2014
 
A Diocese in Kenya Works to Rid Society of the Mutilation of Girls
 
Although female circumcision is now illegal, the practice is still popular among certain tribes.
 
Jane Kiura loves her village of Kajuki, located in the Meru Diocese in central Kenya, but she wants to completely get rid of a brutal practice in Kenyan culture so her teenage daughters and other girls don’t have to suffer mutilation like she did. When Jane was a young woman, she went through a ritual called female circumcision, a rite of passage intended to teach young women their adult responsibilities as wives. The ritual signaled a readiness for marriage and motherhood. In traditional Kenyan culture, an uncircumcised girl was thought to lack the wisdom to raise a family. Regardless of her age, she was looked upon as a child who could not be expected to know how to look after a husband, let alone a household.

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