The Feast of the Holy Archangels …Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, pray for us

The Feast of the Holy Archangels

Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael

The Holy Archangels

The Chaplet of St. Michael mp3 audio download


For the text of the Chaplet of St. Michael

How can you not just love the holy angels of God, and in particular the Archangels:  Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael?
(I’ll answer that:  You just have to  love them…they’re too AWESOME!)

The Holy ArchangelsPrayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May GOD rebuke him we humbly pray, and do thou o’ prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of GOD cast into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.
A St. Michael Website


The Holy ArchangelsPrayer to the Archangel St. Gabriel

O God, who from among all your angels chose the Archangel Gabriel to announce the mystery of the Incarnation, mercifully grant that we who solemnly remember him on earth may feel the benefit of his patronage in heaven, with Jesus who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.
A St. Gabriel Website



The Holy ArchangelsPrayer to the Archangel Raphael

Glorious Archangel St. Raphael, great prince of the heavenly court, your are illustrious for your gifts of wisdom and grace. You are a guide of those who journey by land or sea or air, consoler of the afflicted, and refuge of sinners. I beg you, assist me in all my needs and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “medicine of God”, I humbly pray you to heal the many infirmities of my soul and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor
(name it) and the great grace of purity to prepare me to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A St. Raphael Website

Islam and the West … In Conversation with Fr. Samir Khalil Samir S.J.

Fr. Samir Khalil Samir is one of the world’s leading experts on Islam.  Bruce and I had the blessing to be able to speak with him about the religious and political tensions between east and west, and in particular between Christianity and Islam.  His thoughtful insight helped us greatly to appreciate the realities that exist between us culturally and what hope there might be for peace and coexistence in the future.

For more on this subject check out:


From the book description:

How was Islam born? What does the Koran represent for Muslims? What relationship has developed between Islam and violence, between Islamic culture and the West? How can a real integration of Islam take place in European societies? What are the conditions for a constructive encounter between Christians and Muslims?

Pope Benedict on Prayer – The Liturgy: “Where God Himself teaches us to pray”

Liturgy(Vatican Radio) – The Liturgy is the school of prayer where God Himself teaches us to pray. But in order to celebrate the Liturgy well, to really experience the re-enactment of Christ’s Paschal Mystery we must make our hearts God’s Altar and understand that the Liturgy is the action of God and of man, as the Second Vatican Council teaches us. In his latest instalment in his cycle on the School of Prayer, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his Wednesday audience to prayer and the liturgy. Emer McCarthy reports:

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
in recent months we have made a journey in the light of the Word of God, to learn to pray in a more authentic way by looking at some great figures in the Old Testament, the Psalms, the Letters of St. Paul and the Book of Revelation, but also looking at unique and fundamental experience of Jesus in his relationship with the Heavenly Father. In fact, only in Christ, is man enabled to unite himself to God with the depth and intimacy of a child before a father who loves him, only in Him can we turn in all truth to God and lovingly call Him “Abba! ! Father. ” Like the Apostles, we too have repeated and we still repeat to Jesus, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1).

In addition, in order to live our personal relationship with God more intensely, we have learned to invoke the Holy Spirit, the first gift of the Risen Christ to believers, because it is he who “comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought,”(Romans 8:26).

At this point we can ask: how can I allow myself to be formed by the Holy Spirit? What is the school in which he teaches me to pray and helps me in my difficulties to turn to God in the right way? The first school of prayer which we have covered in the last few weeks is the Word of God, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Scripture in permanent dialogue between God and man, an ongoing dialogue in which God reveals Himself ever closer to us. We can better familiarize ourselves with his face, his voice, his being and the man learns to accept and to know God, to talk to God. So in recent weeks, reading Sacred Scripture, we looked for this ongoing dialogue in Scripture to learn how we can enter into contact with God.

There is another precious “space”, another valuable “source” to grow in prayer, a source of living water in close relation with the previous one. I refer to the liturgy, which is a privileged area in which God speaks to each of us, here and now, and awaits our response.

What is the liturgy? If we open the Catechism of the Catholic Church – an always valuable and indispensable aid especially in the Year of Faith, which is about to begin – we read that originally the word “liturgy” means ” service in the name of/on behalf of the people” (No. 1069) . If Christian theology took this word from the Greek world, it did so obviously thinking of the new People of God born from Christ opened his arms on the Cross to unite people in the peace of the one God. “service on behalf of the people ” a people that does not exist by itself, but that has been formed through the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. In fact, the People of God does not exist through ties of blood, territory or nation, but is always born from the work of the Son of God and communion with the Father that He obtains for us.

The Catechism also states that “in Christian tradition (the word” liturgy “) means the participation of the People of God in “the work of God.” Because the people of God as such exists only through the action of God.

Read more

St. Padre Pio and the Theology of the Body – a reflection by Msgr. John Esseff – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff shares some of his insights on an article he is preparing on St. St. Padre PioPadre Pio and the Theology of the Body. There’s a fascinating connection that can be made. He begins by offering a detailed sharing of his first encounters with St. Pio and then discusses how his stigmata and gifts relate to our understanding of our relationship with Christ.

BKL#18 – Building a Kingdom of Love w/ Msgr. John Esseff – Suffering, Dying, and Rising with Jesus

Msgr. Esseff remembers his encounters with St. Padre Pio.   He also reflects on the Gospel for this particular Msgr. John EsseffSunday, which places its focus on the suffering, death and rising of Jesus.  That this world is not our “forever” destiny.   We were created for Eternal Life.  Now will it forever in Heaven or will it forever separation from God in Hell.  The central act of Jesus Christ was to suffer, die and rise.  It takes the deepest wounds that we and redeems it.  In today’s world, we will suffer in the Paschal Mystery in order to witness the glory of God to the world.  He shares the compelling story of a boy named Eddie Walsh who is a tremendous witness of the Gospel Truth.

From the NAB  Mk 9:30-37

 Jesus and his disciples left from there and began a journey through Galilee,
but he did not wish anyone to know about it.
He was teaching his disciples and telling them,
“The Son of Man is to be handed over to men
and they will kill him,
and three days after his death the Son of Man will rise.”
But they did not understand the saying,
and they were afraid to question him.

They came to Capernaum and, once inside the house,Msgr. John Esseff
he began to ask them,
“What were you arguing about on the way?”
But they remained silent.
They had been discussing among themselves on the way
who was the greatest.
Then he sat down, called the Twelve, and said to them,
“If anyone wishes to be first,
he shall be the last of all and the servant of all.”
Taking a child, he placed it in the their midst,
and putting his arms around it, he said to them,
“Whoever receives one child such as this in my name, receives me;
and whoever receives me,
receives not me but the One who sent me.”


Msgr. John A. Esseff is a Roman Catholic priest in the Diocese of Scranton.  He was ordained on May 30th 1953, by the late Bishop William J. Hafey, D.D. at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton, PA.  Msgr. Esseff served a retreat director and confessor to Blessed Mother Teresa.    He continues to offer direction and retreats for the sisters of the missionaries of charity around the world.  Msgr. Esseff encountered St.  Padre Pio,  who would become a spiritual father to him.  He has lived in areas around the world,  serving  in the Pontifical missions, a Catholic organization established by Bl. Pope John Paul II to bring the Good News to the world especially to the poor.  Msgr. Esseff assisted the founders of the Institute for Priestly Formation and continues to serve as a spiritual director for the Institute.  He continues to  serve as a retreat leader and director to bishops, priests and sisters and seminarians and other religious leaders around the world.   



To obtain a copy of Msgr. Esseff’s book byvisiting here


Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building a Kingdom of  Love


IP#173 Gregory Erlandson – Our Sunday Visitor and the Year of Faith on Inside the Pages

What a delight to have the chance once again to talk with Gregory Erlandson, president and publisher of  Our Sunday Visitor Gregory ErlandsonPublishing, one of the finest resources out there for nurturing our faith.   Greg has that wonderful “eagle-eye”  view of not only all things Catholic, but of the world as a whole and he uses it to help see how we can fit into our society and culture as faithful believers.

It was great to discuss not only current events affecting the Church today, but also the greater need for interior renewal which is the true “fuel” for the New Evangelization.  Faith is ultimately about a relationship with God.  He warns us that being lukewarm in our faith can be deadly for the Church.  That we can  become such weak witnesses that we bear only the name Catholic, which unfortunately can cause disillusionment or even scandal in the hearts and minds of those around us.   Therefore, the New Evangelization needs to begin with each of us personally.  When that renewal happens, we will then be a Church that can authentically and vibrantly witness our  life-giving  faith to world badly in need of the Gospel message.

Our Sunday Visitor has so many fantastic resources to nurture that relationship, whether your at home with the kids or working out in the world, a catechist/DRE or a pastor trying to reach out to your families through the internet, OSV can add in that “connection”.

Click here to find out more on their website



St. Robert Bellarmine and Galileo w/ Dr. Matthew Bunson (the other side of the story)

A Doctor of the Church, a distinguished Jesuit theologian, writer, and cardinal, born at Montepulciano, October 4, 1542; died 17September, 1621.

When you look up the word “prudence” in the dictionary, you may find his picture.  Why?  Does the name “Galileo” ring a bell.  Many think they know the story…but do you?  If you’ve never heard St. Robert Bellarmine’s role and thoughts on the matter, than you haven’t heard the whole story. Take a listen to Dr. Matthew Bunson break open the “Galileo issue” from a truly Catholic perspective.  Fascinating.

For more on this great saints life check out the article found on New Advent

St. Robert at the Church of St. Igantius in Rome



St. Catherine of Genoa…it’s all about Divine Love – Discerning Hearts

Jesus in your heart! Eternity in your mind! The will of God in all your actions! But above all, love, God’s love, entire love!
St. Catherine of Genoa

St. Catherine of Genoa’s life is one that testified to the power that regular confessions and frequent Communion can have in helping us see the direction (or drift) of our life with God.  Isn’t it interesting that people who have a realistic sense of their own sinfulness and of the greatness of God are often the ones who are most ready to meet the needs of their neighbors. Catherine’s life testifies to that as well.  She’s best known for her “Treatise on Purgatory” .  She gave tirelessly to the needs of the poor and sick.  Beautiful, married young to…well, should we be charitable and say…”an unpleasant fellow ” (Ok, he was a jerk) at 16.  During the course of ten years within the marriage, Catherine began to slowly slide into worldliness, not necessarily a sinful life, but not the one of holiness she had desired before her marriage.  And then it happened, Catherine experienced a powerful encounter with the Holy Spirit in a dramatic life-changing mystical moment at the age of 26.  Again you can read more about in  “Treatise on Purgatory“.  Her life of prayer and service to the poor and needy would effect her husband as well; his conversion is a strong testament to the fruits of her relationship with God.  She reminds me a little of Mother Teresa, in that her deep, deep prayer led her to serve Him in those around her.

Since I began to love, love has never forsaken me. It has ever grown to its own fullness within my innermost heart.”St. Catherine of Genoa.   And it’s true…God is love, expand and make more room for Him and He will fill the space.

From Approved Apparitions:

“Catherine lived in holy obedience to God as He guided her to do His Will as He spoke to her interior,

“My daughter, observe these three rules, namely: never say I will or I will not. Never say mine, but always ours. Never excuse yourself, but always accuse yourself. When you repeat the `Our Father’ take always for your maxim, Fiat voluntas tua, that is, may his will be done in everything that may happen to you, whether good or ill; from the `Hail Mary’ take the word Jesus, and may it be implanted in your heart, and it will be a sweet guide and shield to you in all the necessities of life. And from the rest of Scripture take always for your support this word, Love, with which you will go on your way, direct, pure, light, watchful, quick, enlightened, without erring, yet without a guide or help from any creature; for love needs no support, being sufficient to do all things without fear; neither does love ever become weary, for even martyrdom is sweet to it. And, finally, this love will consume all the inclinations of the soul, and the desires of the body, for the things of this life.”

 Though Catherine lived a life of austere penance she did so for she understood how deadly is sin to the soul as a child of God can quickly turn to become a child of the Devil, if they choose to willfully disobey God through their actions. As Catherine explained, “If it were possible for me to suffer as much as all the martyrs have suffered, and even hell itself, for the love of God, and in order to make satisfaction to him, it would be after all only a sort of injury to God, in comparison with the love and goodness with which he has created, and redeemed, and, in a special manner, called me. For man, unassisted by God’s grace, is even worse than the devil, because the devil is a spirit without a body, while man, without the grace of God, is a devil incarnate. Man has a free will, which, according to the ordination of God, is in nowise bound, so that he can do all the evil that he wills; to the devil, this is impossible, since he can act only by the divine permission; and when man surrenders to him his evil will, the devil employs it, as the instrument of his temptation.”

IP#172 Nigel Cliff – The Last Crusade on Inside the Pages

What a great read and so very timely! Author Nigel Cliff’s fantastic “The Last Crusade: The Epic Voyages of Vasco da Gama” is now available in QP.  Nigel chronicles the clash of the Islamic East and the Christian West in a way I that I had not experienced before. Tracing the roots of the Islamic experience and it’s occupation of the Iberian Peninsula helps with the needed background for this story.  Then he takes us on the thrilling adventures of the 28 year Portuguese explorer who set out for the elusive sea-based trade route to the east which would not only allow Christendom to penetrate into the heart of India, but would allow a Crusade to halt the economic grip of the East from crushing the West in Europe.  A contemporary of Christopher Columbus, it seems as though the tale and accomplishments of Vasco da Gama are mostly overshadowed today…but no longer thanks to the work of Nigel Cliff.  A terrific non-fiction historical read that illuminates the events of today.

You can find the book here


“A useful addition to a continuing lively discussion of Christianity and Islam, situated both in respect of religions and culture, as well as empires and trade.” (Kirkus )

The Exaltation of the Holy Cross: reflections by Msgr. Esseff – Discerning Hearts

Msgr. Esseff reflects on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  He describes in detail the true horror of this means of execution and what it meant to be crucified in the time of Jesus.  But he also talks about the great love that God has for us in embracing the Cross for our sake and what it means for us today.  A very powerful reflection.

Be sure to visit Msgr. Esseff’s website “Building A Kingdom of Love