Category Archives: November

Holy kleptomaniacs, thieves of Purgatory

Madrid, Spain – Eucharist and the souls in purgatory. Painting in Iglesia catedral de las fuerzas armada de Espana


-by Br Raphael Arteago, OP

“Every November, Holy Mother Church urges her members to become devout kleptomaniacs. Holy kleptomania may seem like an odd virtue to promote, but I would like to suggest that applying this concept with regards to the holy souls in purgatory can be a fruitful way to grow in friendship with our departed brothers and sisters.

Souls in purgatory are in such a state that they can, in a sense, be stolen for heaven. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “death puts an end to human life as the time open to either accepting or rejecting divine grace manifested in Christ.” What is more, souls who die in “God’s grace and friendship,” yet are still “imperfectly purified,” can be forgiven in “an age to come” (CCC 1030–1031), namely in a state of purification before entering the blessedness of heaven (Matt 12:31).

It is by the recommendation of Holy Scripture that the Church prays for these souls. Judas Maccabeus “made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin” (2 Macc 12:46), and the author of Revelation notes that “nothing unclean shall enter” the Kingdom of Heaven “but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev 21:27). Yet it is not only Scripture that extends this solemn responsibility to the Church, since the early fathers of the Church do so as well. Speaking about the dead, Saint John Chrysostom says, “let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation?” God uses our prayers and sacrifices offered in union with Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross to bring about some of the deepest designs of his heart, namely the salvation of souls and the renewal of his creation in Christ, the Eternal Word of the Father.

The great saints of the Church have heeded this call in a variety of ways, yet one example in the life of Saint Juan Macias highlights the sacred responsibility that the living members of the Church have in praying for the dead. Saint Juan Macias, a cooperator brother of the Order of Preachers who lived in Lima, Peru, during the sixteenth century, loved the rosary and had a special devotion of praying for the Holy Souls in purgatory. Such was his love for the rosary and the Holy Souls that he was described as the “thief of purgatory.”

Saint Juan Macias, in his response to the dual commandment of charity to love God and neighbor above all else, became a holy kleptomaniac for souls, as he zealously stole them from the purifying fires of purgatory and delivered them unto the blessed light of heaven. The charity which God inflamed in the heart of St. Juan Macias was one that recognized the profound importance of prayer within the providence of God.

Becoming a holy kleptomaniac, like St. Juan Macias, stretches the heart in mercy to those Holy Souls who long to behold their beloved Creator and Redeemer. It is a sacred and heroic task fueled by God’s grace that when done with devotion and love merits stolen treasures worth far more than any thief deserves.”

Pray for me when I am in Purgatory, I beg you.

Love,
Matthew

Nov 2020 – Indulgences


-by Rembrandt (van Rijn), The Return of the Prodigal Son, c. 1661–1669. 262 cm × 205 cm. Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg

https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2020/10/23/201023b.html


-by Br John Bernard Church, O.P., English Province

Indulgences occupy a curious place in the Catholic world. While readily appreciated by some, to many they are simply a peculiar oddity, a relic of a medieval imagination. So, when the Apostolic Penitentiary announced that, due to COVID, it was extending plenary indulgences for November throughout the whole month, unsurprisingly the news didn’t make the morning newspaper splash.

I would certainly count myself among those who have hesitated to find a fitting place for indulgences in the spiritual life. But they are a part of the faith we profess, so there is every reason to try to understand what they’re about and why they matter. A good starting point is to turn to the Apostles’ Creed, and the two articles that form the basis of a theology of indulgences: “I believe in…the communion of Saints, the forgiveness of sins…”.

To take the latter first, the primary means of forgiving our sins lies in the confessional. But when sins are forgiven, they still leave a trace: an attachment to vice remains even when the life of grace has been renewed. Thus at their simplest, indulgences extend the logic of the Sacrament of Penance, by addressing the residue of sin. Hence the formal definition of an indulgence is the “temporal remission of the penalties due to sin whose guilt has already been forgiven (CCC 1471)”.

Perhaps a helpful analogy would be the physio that follows an operation. If I break my arm in a bicycle accident and do some serious damage, the primary means of healing is the necessary operation that restores functionality to my arm. And although this operation may be sufficient for getting me back on my bike, some physio exercises will aid the healing process and strengthen my arm. Indulgences are similar, in that they work to accompany the restorative healing we receive in the Sacrament of Penance.

The analogy is of course imperfect, but there is another aspect of it worth considering. If you want a healthy arm, physio and strengthening exercises are good to do anyway, even if you haven’t just fallen off your bike. And the same is true of indulgences: the sorts of acts to which the Church attaches them are those which are good to do anyway.

Spending time in front of the Blessed Sacrament, reading scripture, praying a rosary, saying the Divine Office, or even something as simple as making the Sign of the Cross, are all means by which divine charity grows within us. The indulgences attached to these acts simply encourage their practice. Healing the wounds in our relationship with God comes about through an openness to His grace, enabling His love to grow within us. Making room for that love to grow is always a worthy pursuit, no matter the circumstances.

There is further aspect to indulgences that relates to the other article of the creed, the one we are yet to consider: the communion of Saints. Our incorporation through Baptism into that supernatural community which is the Mystical Body of Christ means our actions are efficacious well beyond the narrow circle of our own lives. As we grow in charity, that divine currency of our sanctification, we can apply the gifts we receive to those who have gone before us. The bond of love that ties together the entire Christian community (Ed. the Church is ONE, militant, suffering, Triumphant). empowers us wayfarers on earth to cooperate in the salvation of the souls in purgatory.

This is especially worth considering given the Vatican’s extension for indulgences for November is for those that apply to the deceased. Such is the power of the Cross that our salvation is both deeply personal and fundamentally communal: each can be the beneficiary of the charity of the other.

As we reach the halfway point for November, it is perhaps worth considering whether there is time in the latter half of the month to obtain a plenary indulgence for the souls in purgatory. After all, surely Confession, Communion, prayers in a cemetery, and prayers for the Pope are all good to do anyway…”

Love, & His mercy,
Matthew

Nov 10 – Heresy of Monophysitism


-Deesis mosaic Hagia Sophia, Constantinople.


– “humine” better shown as a uniform light blue/purple, an even mixture of white (divine) and dark blue/purple (human); both natures diluted/diminished. Catholic teaching: there is a fully human Jesus and a fully God Jesus, but one Jesus. Two natures in one (B)being. Neither is diminished/diluted.

Monophysitism originated as a reaction to Nestorianism. The Monophysites (led by a man named Eutyches) were horrified by Nestorius’s implication that Christ was two people with two different natures (human and divine). They went to the other extreme, claiming that Christ was one person with only one nature (a fusion of human and divine elements). They are thus known as Monophysites because of their claim that Christ had only one nature (Greek: mono = one; physis = nature).

Catholic theologians recognized that Monophysitism was as bad as Nestorianism because it denied Christ’s full humanity and full divinity. If Christ did not have a fully human nature, then he would not be fully human (and the Incarnation did not happen), and if he did not have a fully divine nature then he was not fully divine (and we are not saved by God, Himself).


-by Br Nicodemus Thomas, OP

“Today’s patron, Saint Leo (the Great) is indeed great. The fifth-century bishop of Rome reigned as Pope during the last years of the Western Roman empire. His list of accomplishments is impressive. He heroically met with Attila the Hun to save the Italian peninsula from invasion, and he was a father to the Roman people whom the emperors abandoned. However, the Church does not call St. Leo “great” merely because of his patrician birth or his political savvy. After all, the empire was falling apart and would end officially a decade after his death. So it might seem, if we only examine his secular accomplishments, that St. Leo is called “great” for reasons that do not merit the title.

During the fifth century, St. Leo preached against a group called the Monophysites who argued that there is a single nature in Christ. In other words, they claimed that Jesus Christ is not both really God and really man. Saint Leo, both in his famous Letter to Flavian and in his preaching, refuted their heresy and elucidated the mystery of the Incarnation for his brother bishops. Leo’s theology is not written in inaccessible language or specialized jargon. Rather, this Doctor of the Church explains to his universal flock the beauty and fittingness of the Incarnation. In Leo’s Christmas homily, he explains: “[Jesus] came to overthrow the devil, the origin of death, in that very nature by which he [the devil] had overthrown mankind.”

The profundity of Leo’s reflection shines forth in the closing lines of his homily when he exhorts Christians to recall their dignity because they become “partners in the Divine nature.” The Pope is not claiming that Christians are now the divine essence; we have not become part of God, in a pantheistic sense. Rather, since God assumed our nature in the person of Jesus, Leo is arguing that we should “throw off our old nature and all its ways and as we have come to birth in Christ, let us renounce the works of the flesh.” In other words, we are able to be radically changed because “through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit.”

 How are we changed into temples of the Holy Spirit? Leo reminds us in a homily from today’s Office of Readings, “[Jesus] overflowed with abundant riches from the very source of all grace, yet though he alone received much, nothing was given over to him without his sharing it.” This means that we are capable of receiving grace in Christ because he assumed our nature, a grace with transformative power. Through grace we are able to receive the theological virtues, the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and ultimately eternal life itself.

So why is Leo Great? Leo is not only great because he was a follower and imitator of Christ like all of the saints, but also because he preached Who Jesus is to all people. Therefore, the Church calls Leo “Saint” on account of his holiness and she has called him “great” on account of his teachings which not only make us wiser but also help us to know Jesus Christ. So let us celebrate St Leo, because as he reminds us Who Christ is, he also reminds us who we are. Although we are not all called to be great theologians and teachers like St Leo, through Christ we are called to be saints.”

Love & truth,
Matthew

Prayers for Priests in Purgatory

“All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (CCC 1030).”

“Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, pray for the souls of priests and religious brothers and sisters.”

“Eternal Father, we offer you the most Precious Blood of Jesus, for the souls of priests who in purgatory suffer the most and are the most abandoned.”

“Oh Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Priest, Who during Your earthly life generously cared for every poor person who was afflicted and abandoned, I beg You, look with favor on the souls of priests in purgatory who suffer most atrociously and who are abandoned and forgotten by everyone. Look at how these Holy Souls, tormented by the voracity of the flames and with an agonizing voice plead for pity and help.

Oh most merciful heart of Jesus, Who in the Garden of Olives, in the midst of bitter solitude, victim of most cruel spiritual torments and bloody agony, begged: “Father, if it is possible take this chalice away from Me! Yet let not Mine, but Your will be done.” By this, Your submission and painful passion and agony, I beg you to have pity on the Holy Souls for whom I am praying to You and to relieve their suffering and to console them in the midst of their abandonment, as Your Celestial Father consoled You by sending you an angel. Amen.

Our Lady of Suffrage, Mother of Mercy, we favorably invoke you for our own sake and for the sake of the souls in purgatory. I would like to escape from that tremendous prison, by living a just life, avoiding sin, and doing everything with the fervor of a holy soul. But what can I do, without the help of heaven?

Dear Mother, cast your glance upon me and obtain for me the grace that the last day of my mortal life may be the first day that I will begin to enjoy the glories of heaven. Hope and Mother of the afflicted, run to the aid of those in purgatory. Be merciful towards my relatives, my friends, my benefactors, the souls who love Jesus and who love you and toward the abandoned souls.

Oh Mary, by the Cross on which Jesus died, by the Most Precious Blood with which He redeemed us, by the chalice which every day is offered up to the Eternal Father during the Mass, obtain grace and liberation for all of the souls in purgatory. Listen to the sighs of your sons & daughters in purgatory and opening the doors of this painful prison, let them all ascend into Heaven with you today. Amen.

– Our Lady of Suffrage, pray for us and the souls in purgatory. Eternal Rest grant unto them, oh Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them. Amen.”

Love & prayers for our professed and ordained, certainly God will grant the grace you seek to do His will on earth,
Matthew

Nov 2 – All Souls, Church Suffering, Church Penitent, Church Expectant


-painting in Mexico City Cathedral of the holy souls being purified of every attachment to sin in the fire of Purgatory.  Please click on the image for greater detail.

Church Suffering, Penitent, Expecting

“Jesus, remember me when you come into Your Kingdom!” -Lk 23:42

“Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of Himself. As gold in the furnace, He proved them, and as sacrificial offerings, He took them to Himself.” -Wisdom 3:5-6

“On this day is observed the commemoration of the faithful departed, in which our common and pious Mother the Church, immediately after having endeavored to celebrate by worthy praise all her children who already rejoice in heaven, strives to aid by her powerful intercession with Christ, her Lord and Spouse, all those who still groan in purgatory, so that they may join as soon as possible the inhabitants of the heavenly city.” —Roman Martyrology

“…the fire which both burns and saves is Christ Himself, the Judge and Savior. The encounter with Him is the decisive act of judgment. Before His gaze all falsehood melts away. This encounter with Him, as it burns us, transforms and frees us, allowing us to become truly ourselves. All that we build during our lives can prove to be mere straw … and it collapses. Yet in the pain of this encounter, when the impurity and sickness of our lives become evident to us, there lies salvation. His gaze, the touch of His heart heals us through an undeniably painful transformation ‘as through fire.’ But it is a blessed pain, in which the holy power of His love sears through us like a flame, enabling us to become totally ourselves and thus totally of God.”
-Pope Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi, Encyclical Letter, November 30, 2007, par. 47; http://www.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20071130_spe-salvi.html


-by Br Charles Marie Rooney, OP

“It is no accident that each year, All Souls Day follows on the coattails of All Saints Day. In fact, if we look closely, we behold in their sequence a revelation of the Mystical Body of Christ and the place of our life and death within it.

Yesterday, we acclaimed the deceased who persevered in grace and now sing divine praises in a heavenly key. We especially heralded the hidden heroes—the innumerable “little” or “medium” saints known only to their family members, parishioners, religious brothers, etc.—and likewise the “big” saints whose time of earthly veneration has alas receded. (After all, there are too many “big” saints for even a calendar year to hold.) And so we beseech their aid—the aid of all of them, the whole “Church Triumphant”—that we, too, might join their ranks in glory and song.

Today, by contrast, it is our aid that is beseeched, and so we pray. We pray for those deceased who have need of prayer but cannot pray for themselves—whose wills, fixed by the separation of body and soul at death, entered eternal life rightly ordered toward God but not without earthly attachments, spiritual barnacles still unscraped by the agent of grace. Thus they endure purgation, for which they are named the “Church Suffering.”

We, the “Church Militant,” bear a unique charge in their regard. Since God has a penchant for deploying instruments, He deigns to use us, the woefully imperfect, to be the means of perfecting post mortem those judged worthy of eternal perfection. Indeed, He asks us to be the means for all of them, i.e. not solely those deceased loved ones whose anniversaries we already celebrate and whose names remain in our daily intentions.

Thus appears the nexus of life, death, and salvation. Death, it is said, is the great equalizer, the one fate all men must face, and in its face, our “condition is most shrouded in doubt” (GS 18). About the details of death and life hereafter, we have the certainty of faith but not the clarity of vision. We do not yet see with our eyes nor fully understand with our minds the realities that we know by grace. And so at death—whether our own or that of a loved one—the truth claims we’ve made all our lives long about God and the meaning of reality rush to the fore with a towering urgency, demanding that we live them to the end in their fullness.

On this side of our personal eschaton, there is need for a genuine ars moriendi—an art of dying, through which we ourselves are sealed by the grace of final perseverance. For those already on the other side, there is need for constant prayer on their behalf: our loved ones and all the suffering are best served not by sentimental memorialization but by the holy and pious works of [making] atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin (2 Macc 12:45).

Like complements, All Saints Day and All Souls Day, along with the entirety of November—the month of the Holy Souls—spur this confrontation with death, for which we must always keep watch and be ready (Matt 24:42, 44). Indeed, the Christian stands uniquely prepared for death because he has in a real way already died in Christ. Saint Paul is crystal clear: You were buried with [Christ] in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses … nailing [them] to the cross (Col 2:12–14).

Steeped in sanctifying grace, we actually possess heaven now, and yet we await the full reception of our inheritance in glory (see Gal 4:1–7, Rom 6:5–11, Rom 8, Eph 1:3–14, 2 Tim 2:11). Moreover, this same sanctifying grace, flowing from the headship of Christ, unites the Church—Militant, Suffering, and Triumphant—into one Mystical Body spanning space and time, heaven and earth. Life on earth is thereby rendered an arduous pilgrimage in grace, through which our fleshly bodies—good but afflicted with concupiscence—are animated by our resurrected souls—redeemed but in constant need of divine aid—unto their separation at death, after which they await reunion in bodily resurrection at the end of time. En route, we draw into the Way as many as we can, and we intercede for those who trod before us in grace but still await entry among the Triumphant.

This interplay between November 1 and November 2, between All Saints Day and All Souls Day, sums up the dynamics of salvation. Only in virtue of the astounding love of God can we the Church Militant stand confident before death—before our own and those of all the Church Suffering—and rejoice with the Church Triumphant: O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through Our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:55, 57).”

Love, Joy & Hope that is Him,
Matthew

Nov 1 – All Saints, “Do we need friends in Heaven?”


-please click on the image for greater detail.


-by Rev Euan Marley, OP, Prior at Blackfriars, Cambridge, English Province

St Thomas Aquinas denies that anyone needs friends in heaven to be perfectly happy (Iª-IIae q. 4 a. 8). The key word here is ‘need’. We are given perfect happiness by the vision of God. To see God is to see something beyond our imagination, beyond in fact the capacity of any created intellect without the special grace which God gives us to see God. If we are invited into that vision of God, we receive perfect happiness from that vision, even if we are alone with God for all eternity. That is in heaven. Of course in heaven we have perfect friendship with all the saints but it is a result of the happiness of seeing God, not a necessary condition of beatitude.

Here on earth, it is quite different. Whatever happiness we can attain on earth is very much dependent on other people. To the line in the song from the musical ‘Funny Girl’, which runs ‘People who need people’, I think St Thomas would respond by saying, ‘Yes, that would be people in general’. To be human is to be in need of other human beings. This is not just for practical things, though St Thomas thinks that a human being could be self-sufficient in this life, which I find rather unconvincing. Even if human beings could feed and clothe themselves unaided, something hard to imagine in our increasingly complex world, where so much of our well being involves the interaction of others, there is still a deeper need to do good to other people. Aristotle argues that friendship is more than just mutual need, and the example he gives is the rich man who wishes friends so that he may do good to them.

We might think that this desire to do good is motivated by pride, but that is confusing the contaminating effect of pride on human actions: pride gets everywhere, with the deep desire of human beings to have added to the well being of others. The humble sharer of good things does not force them on other people but offers such goods as they possess freely and without reserve. The shared goods include the goods of contemplation, to quote Thomas, ‘indiget enim homo ad bene operandum auxilio amicorum, tam in operibus vitae activae, quam in operibus vitae contemplativae’ (a human being needs the help of friends to act well, as much in the works of the active life as in the works of the contemplative life). The order is odd here, as I would think most people would find it less obvious that the contemplative life needs friendship rather than the active life. In fact contemplation has always grown best in the soil of friendship, which is why so many spiritual lives are associated with orders, religious societies and religious movements.

So what of the friendship of the saints in heaven for us here on earth, which is what today’s feast is about? The friendship of the saints in heaven is a purer friendship than our human friendship because it is not based on any need they have, except what we might call the need to allow their joy and love to overflow into this world. They offer that friendship in obedience to God, Who allows them to be our friends on earth. For us, living in this world, there is need for their friendship because that is the way that God has ordained things.

It is a friendship which is both in the present, and in our future aspirations, as we see in the Beatitudes. The Beatitudes are framed between two verses in the present, ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, theirs is the kingdom of Heaven, and ‘Blessed are those who are persecuted because of justice, theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.’ The other six Beatitudes speak of the future, they shall be comforted, they shall inherit the earth, they shall be satisfied, they shall find mercy, they shall see God, they shall be called sons of God. Really though, the Beatitudes are about the present. The future promises remind us that we have still to live our lives to the end, that human life will continue, and that it will always be a struggle. In faith and hope, the kingdom is already present. The expansion of the eighth beatitude calls on us to be happy and to rejoice, because great is the reward in heaven. Heaven is all friendship, and that friendship is already ours on earth.”

Love, & the friendship of the saints, ora pro nobis!!!!  Pray for us, all ye holy men & women of God, pray for us!!!
Matthew

Nov 13 – St Francis Xavier Cabrini, MSC, (1850-1917), a saint’s face

I visited Mother Cabrini’s room behind glass, left as she died, while I lived in Chicago.  The shrine to her was beginning construction.


-by Josemaria Guzman-Dominguez, OP

“The heart changes the countenance,

either for good or for evil.

The sign of a happy heart is a cheerful face.” (Sir 13:25-26)

And the sign of disappointment? A frown. Of embarrassment? Blushing cheeks. Of pain or anger? Clenched teeth. What about profound sadness? Teary eyes. And what is the sign of roaring merriment? A mouth open with laughter.

A saintly face, then, manifests a saintly heart. What do those look like?

In a beautiful paragraph at the start of The Quest Elisabeth Langgäser writes:

Let us . . . examine the face of Mother Cabrini, the first saint of North America. Let us look at it honestly and without fear, this quiet, sublime countenance full of kindness and gentle humor. It is broad and plain, like the face of an Italian peasant woman, with big black eyes that are sheer love. The mouth too is large, an animated mouth whose corners curve slightly upward; a mouth made as if made for merriment and for storytelling. The cheeks are full. They are ripe and like fruits that must soon be picked. Here and there is a faint shadow – the shadow of a mystery. For the flesh of a saint harbors a secret that is fearful and repulsive. It was crucified and hammered into ripeness by the fists of Satan. In the battle with the Adversary it has already been touched by decay, already carries the mark of death and has become an object of horror to the world. But also it has already passed beyond decay. It has already survived its death and is on the point of manifesting in itself immortality and the resurrection of the dead.

On Mother Cabrini’s face, on the face of any saint, contraries meet: silence with storytelling, recollection with laughter, sublimity with commonality, light with shadow, youth with decay, death with resurrection. The saints’ flesh, their faces, carry opposites because their hearts do too. In unredeemed nature, these contraries would wound flesh, disfigure faces, and rend hearts irreparably, to the point of destruction. For contraries do not abide together so easily. One opposite could dominate over the other so that a face becomes a caricature. Or two contrary dispositions might be in a person, which almost splits him into two, such as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Or, out of fear, human qualities could be so muted that a person becomes bland and expressionless.

But the saints hold contraries together in a harmony of paradoxes revealed even on their faces. They can do so only because their hearts were transformed by (even into) the heart of Christ Jesus. This heart knew sorrow and utmost joy. It felt anger and compassion. It was pierced and resurrected. We wonder at the saints, their flesh, their faces, their hearts, because they were, and will be once more at the resurrection, one with Jesus’ flesh, face, and heart. And the human heart of Jesus is one with the heart of God; on His face we see God’s face.”

Love, joy, peace only He can give,
Matthew

Nov 3 – #AllSurvivorsDay


-PLEASE click on the image for greater detail

“And I saw a great white throne and the One sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from His presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.” -Rev 20:11-15

Help Us Celebrate Survivors on #AllSurvivorsDay 2020

“All Survivors Day, November 3, is an international opportunity to raise awareness of sexual abuse, stand in support and recognition of survivors, and to come together to change the culture that surrounds sexual violence. Whether you are holding an in-person event in your local community or will be adding your voice using the #AllSurvivorsDay hashtag, using social media can help spread the word about the day and get people on board with the cause….

..In 2018, the All Survivors Day coalition brought together survivors in 35 countries across 3 continents for the purpose of bringing attention to the issue of sexual violence and showing collaboration in creating a world in which all survivors are recognized, believed, and supported.

In 2019, we are looking to build on this success and spread the word about All Survivors Day even further, and especially on social media. We are hopeful that on November 3, 2019, organizations that participated in ASD 2018 will be willing to participate in this social media campaign. This year, we will be focusing on sharing ways that the public can support survivors and help protect children from abuse. Those ways include:

Advocating for public policy that benefits survivors and helps prevent abuse, such as statute of limitations reform, increased funding for prevention programs and education, and mandatory reporting legislation.
Demanding federal and state leaders take action to prevent future cases of sexual abuse, such as by opening state AG investigations or convening federal working groups to address the issue of sexual violence in any sphere, public or private.
Supporting organizations and causes that promote healing, prevention, and change…

* All survivors deserve to be heard and believed. Learn how you can help support survivors and protect children from abuse today at SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* We believe survivors. SNAP stands in solidarity with all those who have been sexually abused worldwide. We thank you for your bravery and courage to tell your stories and speak truth to power. Learn more at AllSurvivorsDay.org.
* On average, there are over 320,000 victims of sexual abuse in the U.S. every year. Survivors are everywhere! If you’re feeling alone or need support, we are here for you. Speak with someone in your area today SNAPNetwork.org/snap_locations.
* Sexual violence hurts all of us and can be prevented. Learn how to play your part SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* Supporting survivors of sexual abuse is easier than you may think. Visit SNAPNetwork.org/you_can_make_a_difference to learn steps you can take to support your fellow survivors and prevent future abuse of others.
* #AllSurvivorsDay aims to create a world where it’s easier for victims of sexual abuse to find the help they need to heal and come forward.
* Silence is complicit with sexual abuse. Kids are safe, abusers are exposed and parents are warned only when victims are able to report their crimes and only when we are able to have conversations about sexual abuse and the ramifications that come with it. Learn ways you can diffuse the silence at SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* Talking with your children about sexual violence is an important yet difficult conversation to initiate. However there are many benefits to having this communication early on. Visit SNAPNetwork.org/talking_to_kids_about_sexual_violence for tips on how to have these conversations in open and age-appropriate manners.
* Talking about sexual abuse with your friends, family and even your children, can be difficult. Learn ways to navigate this conversation at SNAPNetwork.org/take_action.
* 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually assaulted before they turn 18. November 3 is #AllSurvivorsDay, a chance to stand in solidarity with the women and men who have been abused in homes, churches, military bases, sports teams. Help us bring awareness, healing and hope for survivors and learn more about #AllSurvivorsDay at allsurvivorsday.org
* Sexual abuse happens more often than you think. Join us November 3 for #AllSurvivorsDay as we stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse and work together to find healing, justice and solutions. allsurvivorsday.org
* We support #AllSurvivorsDay because we #BelieveSurvivors and stand in solidarity with all those who have been abused, whether it occurred in the home, a church, in the military, a school, or in sports. Learn more about All Survivor’s Day and what you can do to get involved: allsurvivorsday.org
* Sexual abuse is more common than you think. On #AllSurvivorsDay, we are bringing attention to the men and women who survived their abuse. If you are a victim of abuse and need somewhere to turn, visit allsurvivorsday.org to find a list of our partner organizations. We are here to help.
* We recognize the brave men and women who have spoken up about their abuse at the hands of priests, nuns, and other religious figures on #AllSurvivorsDay. We also know that it’s not just a burden for survivors to bear – we ALL can help prevent sexual abuse. Learn what you can do to help at allsurvivorsday.org.
* #AllSurvivorsDay is a chance to recognize the women and men who have suffered in silence, shame, and pain. You are believed. You are loved. We are here for you. Get the help you need at allsurvivorsday.org.
* 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be a victim of a sex crime before they turn 18. On #AllSurvivorsDay, we recognize the brave men and women who have come forward to tell their stories of abuse, hold perpetrators accountable, and make the world a safer place for children.
* Stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual abuse on November 3 for #AllSurvivorsDay! Band together with local supporters outside your cathedral or state capitol to show support for survivors and to push (Church/State/School) officials to take sexual abuse seriously! Learn more here: allsurvivorsday.org
* On November 3, we’re uniting to call attention to the barriers survivors face when coming forward, finding support, and fighting to hold perpetrators accountable. *Join us as we recognize #AllSurvivorsDay and learn how you can show support in your own community – allsurvivorsday.org
* Survivors of sexual abuse often have to stand up and speak out alone. On #AllSurvivorsDay, we are standing with them! Join us in Philadelphia for a public display of support for all victims of sexual abuse and assault, included those abused in churches, universities, their own home, military or sports settings, and more. Join us – allsurvivorsday.org
* All survivors need support – join survivors of sexual abuse and their allies from around the world as we stand in solidarity on November 3 in front of churches, state capitols and more for #AllSurvivorsDay. Learn how you can get involved and show your support here: allsurvivorsday.org
* On November 3 we are standing in support of those who have been victims of sexual abuse by parents, clergy, teachers, military, sports teams and more. Join us on #AllSurvivorsDay as we honor those who share their stories and speak for those who can’t. allsurvivorsday.org

Love & healing & being believed,
Matthew

2020 UPDATE!!!!!

Dear Matt and Kelly —

Many words could be used to describe 2020: weird, challenging, and whirlwind are a few that we’ve seen. But when it comes to our movement and SNAP’s efforts to protect the vulnerable, heal the wounded, and prevent abuse, we have another word for 2020: banner.

Over the past year we have seen great strides made in transparency and accountability, and that progress is due to the impressive and tireless work of victims and their supporters, as well as advocates, across the globe. Here are some highlights from 2020 that we think helped push our movement forward:

Growing our Survivor Network

In 2020, more than 2,200 new survivors and supporters joined our network and we held more than 390 support groups this year. Thanks to the tireless efforts of SNAP volunteer leaders, we were able to transition our support groups from in-person to online, helping keep attendees safe but connected despite quarantine and stay-at-home orders.

We are so grateful to all those who helped lead or co-lead a group this year and hope those who joined these groups got the support and understanding they needed.

Amplifying the Voices of CSA Survivors

In partnership with the great people at The Army of Survivors, Darkness to Light, and Together for Girls, SNAP helped with the first-ever Child Sexual Abuse Survivor’s Town Hall. This effort, part of the larger Survivor’s Agenda movement, helped ensure that the voices of those who were hurt as children would be heard and that steps to prevent the abuse of children in any context will be included in the Survivor’s Agenda action plan.

A special thank you to our very own Brian Toale, volunteer leader of SNAP New York, for participating in the town hall and to Kevin Bourgeois, volunteer leader of SNAP New Orleans, for facilitating the support group at this event!

Reports Released: McCarrick, Colorado, Florida, and more

From the bombshell investigation into Theodore McCarrick’s rise and fall to reports released by attorneys general in states like Colorado, New York, Michigan, and Florida, more and more facts are coming to light about how cases of abuse are mishandled and covered up within the institutional Catholic Church.

Of course, not every report released has equal value, but the more information that gets into the hands of parents and the public about clergy abuse, the more people can educate themselves about the reality of this ongoing scandal. In 2021, we are looking forward to the release of information from states like New Jersey and Illinois and we will be continuing to push for an investigation in every state and at the federal level.

New Zealand Sets a Model for the World

To show an example of the power that nationwide investigations can have, look no further than New Zealand. The New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into Historical Abuse in State Care and in the Care of Faith-Based Institutions released a report this year that goes into significant detail about the extent of abuse within institutions in their nation.

The numbers in this report are stunning. Nearly 50% of those placed into government care were abused, and 40% of those victims were abused by religious institutions entrusted with that responsibility, helping demonstrate the truth that we all know too well: child sexual abuse is a problem in every faith-based institution.

Jewish Survivors Gather and Organize for Change

SNAP is honored to have played a small role in assisting two new organizations this year as they expand their advocacy efforts into the Jewish community. ZA’AKAH, led by Asher Lovy, is advocating for survivors from within the Orthodox Jewish community and JSHAN is a survivor network of Jewish survivors who experienced harassment and abuse and are coming together for healing in a mutual group setting.

The more allies that get involved in the movement for justice and dignity for survivors of sexual violence, the better! We are glad to support the efforts of ZA’AKAH and JSHAN and encourage you to learn more about these organizations and their important work.

Twenty-Four Arrests – a Harbinger of More to Come

We keep hearing about “historic” abuse, as if the Catholic Church had miraculously changed its playbook. However, at least twenty-four clerics and Catholic staffers in the US were arrested in 2020 for contemporaneous sexual violence. Some, like Fr. Francis Trauger and Fr. Manuel LaRosa Lopez, were even tried, convicted, and sentenced to jail. Because so few children report (the average age to report is 52 years old), this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Each of the brave victims who came forward in these cases deserves credit and recognition for helping prevent future cases of abuse. These survivors are truly making a difference and helping keep the vulnerable safe.

Survivors Gather Virtually Amidst the COVID-19 Pandemic

Our 2020 SNAP Conference was a little different since we couldn’t be together, but we are proud of our first-ever virtual conference and are thrilled that more than 500 survivors and supporters from our network registered for this first-of-its-kind event. If you missed it, you can catch up by watching some of the keynotes and workshops here!

In 2021, SNAP is going to build off the momentum of this virtual conference and will be sharing details soon about the “mini-conferences” that we will be holding throughout the year.

National Media Brings New Attention and New Faces to the Fore

In 2020, national media outlets shared powerful stories of trauma, resilience, and the power of survivors in many significant and moving pieces. From the story of how two impoverished black survivors in Mississippi were mistreated by Catholic officials and advocated for by our very own Mark Belenchia to the disturbing revelations from USA Today and the AP on how many perpetrator Catholic priests remain hidden among communities to the extensive research done by ProPublica to map transparency efforts, the media really helped our movement.

To see some of the stories that we liked this past year, check out our News of the Day page on the SNAP website.

Much, much more happened in 2020, and through it all, survivors and advocates were leading the way. We are honored to have joined with you to make these strides and help create change just as SNAP has done for thirty years, and we look forward to making many more strides in 2021.

We have exciting projects in store for next year including expanded outreach to the Spanish-speaking community, further expanding our digital footprint, and partnering with more organizations and advocates than we have before. We appreciate your support of these initiatives and hope you will continue to partner with us next year.

Goodbye, 2020. Here’s to an even better 2021!

Sincerely,

Your friends at SNAP

SNAP
http://www.snapnetwork.org/

Nov 1 – Reality


-for more detail, please click on the image

“How shining and splendid are Your gifts,
O Lord which You give us for our eternal well-being
Your glory shines radiantly in Your saints,
O God, in the honor and noble victory of the martyrs.
The white-robed company follow You, bright with their abundant faith;
They scorned the wicked words of those with this world’s power.
For You they sustained fierce beatings, chains, and torments, they were drained by cruel punishments.
They bore their holy witness to You Who were grounded deep within their hearts; they were sustained by patience and constancy.
Endowed with Your everlasting grace, may we rejoice forever with the martyrs in our bright fatherland.
O Christ, in Your goodness, grant to us the gracious heavenly realms of eternal life.”
-10th century

Not only do those in heaven pray with us, they also pray for us. In the book of Revelation, we read: “[An] angel came and stood at the altar [in heaven] with a golden censer; and he was given much incense to mingle with the prayers of all the saints upon the golden altar before the throne; and the smoke of the incense rose with the prayers of the saints from the hand of the angel before God” (Rev. 8:3-4).

And those in heaven who offer to God our prayers aren’t just angels, but humans as well. John sees that “the twenty-four elders [the leaders of the people of God in heaven] fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Rev. 5:8). The simple fact is, as this passage shows: The saints in heaven offer to God the prayers of the saints on earth.


-by Br Vincent Mary Bernhard, OP

“Reality is not always something we can choose for ourselves, and oftentimes we neither understand nor acknowledge it. So what is reality, properly speaking? Reality speaks to the truth of an objective state of affairs in which we exist, forming our perceptions about ourselves and those around us. In light of this “objective state of affairs,” we often speak of people needing to “wake up to reality” and to live in a way that is “realistic”—and the Church invites us to do the same. She does just this through the feast days and solemnities of the liturgical year. By reflecting on the events of Christ’s life and the witness of the saints, we are shaken from our mental slumber and spiritual routine to ponder anew the reality that is the Christian life.

Today is the day that the Church awakens us from our spiritual lethargy, so that we may recognize the reality of sainthood. Far from being a “catchall” for the unknown saints in heaven, this solemnity is a final and dramatic reminder that the Church gives us as the liturgical year draws to a close. There is a multitude of saints in heaven, and we are called to join them before the face of God.

The Church upholds the example of the saints, not only showing how they attained heaven but that they attained heaven; the glory of resting in the heart of the Father is not only possible but within reach. Further, these saints are still united with us in the Mystical Body of Christ, and the same divine life sustaining them in glory is perfecting us here and now. “Exactly as Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ,” we read in Lumen Gentium, “so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from Whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself” (LG 50). We are called to the same glory as the saints in heaven and are united with them right now as their brothers and sisters.

As Jesus Christ intercedes on behalf of the human race in heaven, so also do those who participate in His glory share in His intercessory prayer before the Father. The saints remain before the face of the Father as those transformed into the likeness of the Son, and because they exist in this reality, they pray on our behalf for our salvation. Their prayers are efficacious inasmuch as their wills are perfectly united to the divine will, and their power is evident inasmuch as they are united to us through Christ. We are, therefore, existing within a reality that transcends space and time, intimately connected with the saints in heaven through our life in Christ.

We are reminded today of this reality: our call to sainthood and the intimate relationship we share with those who have entered eternal glory before us. Let us call upon the aid of the saints in heaven as we are renewed in our vigor and zeal, that we may take heaven by storm. May the saints, through their witness and prayers, help us surrender to the reality of the Father’s love for us, the Son’s call to us, and the Holy Spirit’s saving work within us, so that we may be more perfectly conformed to Christ’s image and come to participate in his glory with the saints in heaven.”

Love,
Matthew

Nov 30 – “Act like a man!!”, Viriliter Agite!!!, Aquinas on Andrew



-statue of St Andrew, St Peter’s Basilica, Rome

“What is man that You are mindful of him, and a son of man that You care for him?” (Ps 8:5)


-by Br Irenaeus Dunlevy, OP

“In the face of gender theory and feminist ideologies which challenge the notion of manhood, the Church needs real men. We need to respond to the Biblical command viriliter agite found frequently in the Vulgate. The phrase translates as “act like a man” in one form or another in Scripture (1 Cor 16:13, Dt 31:6, Ps 30(31):25, 2 Chr 32:7, 1 Mac 2:64). One man who obeyed was St. Andrew, and his very name suggests it. St. Thomas Aquinas explains, “Andrew is interpreted ‘manly’; for as in Latin, ‘virilis‘ [“manly”] is derived from ‘vir’ [man], so in Greek, Andrew is derived from ανηρ [anēr: man]. Rightly is he called manly, who left all and followed Christ, and manfully persevered in His commands.”

Commenting on St. Andrew, St. Thomas gives us 5 tips on how to viriliter agite.

Obey Promptly: “Aristotle states, ‘Those who are moved by God do not need to be counselled; for they have a principle surpassing counsel and understanding.’ St. Chrysostom pronounces the following eulogium of them: ‘They were in the midst of their business; but, at His bidding, they made no delay, they did not return home saying: let us consult our friends, but, leaving all things, they followed, Him, as Elisha followed Elijah.’ Christ requires of us a similar unhesitating and instant obedience.”

Build Up: “And so Andrew, being now perfectly converted, does not keep the treasure he found to himself, but hurries and quickly runs to his brother to share with him the good things he has received. And so, the first thing Andrew did was to look for his brother Simon, so that they might be related in both blood and faith: “A brother that is helped by his brother is like a strong city” (Prv 18:19); ‘Let him who hears say, ‘Come’ (Rv 22:17).”

Hunt Souls: “This gives us the situation of the disciples he called: for they were from Bethsaida. And this is appropriate to this mystery. For ‘Bethsaida’ means ‘house of hunters,’ to show the attitude of Philip, Peter and Andrew at that time, and because it was fitting to call, from the house of hunters, hunters who were to capture souls for life: ‘I will send my hunters’ (Jer 16:16).”

Preach with Courage: “Every preacher should have those names, ‘Peter’ and ‘Andrew.’ For ‘Simon’ means obedient, ‘Peter’ means comprehending, and ‘Andrew’ means courage. For a preacher should be obedient, that he might invite others to it: ‘The obedient man shall speak of victories’ (Pr 21:28). He should comprehend, that he may know how to instruct others: ‘I had rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others’ (1 Cor 14:19). He should be courageous in order to face threats: ‘I make you this day a fortified city, an iron pillar, and a bronze wall’ (Jer 1:18); ‘I have made your face hard against their faces, and your forehead hard against their foreheads. Like adamant harder than flint I have made your face’ (Ez 3:8).”

Commit: “Our Lord declared that it belongs to the perfection of life that a man follow Him, not anyhow, but in such a way as not to turn back. Wherefore He says again (Lk. 9:62): ‘No man putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’ And though some of His disciples went back, yet when our Lord asked (Jn. 6:68, 69), ‘Will you also go away?’ Peter answered for the others: ‘Lord, to whom shall we go?’ Hence Augustine says (De Consensu Ev. ii, 17) that ‘as Matthew and Mark relate, Peter and Andrew followed Him after drawing their boats on to the beach, not as though they purposed to return, but as following Him at His command.’ Now this unwavering following of Christ is made fast by a vow: wherefore a vow is requisite for religious perfection.”

Viriliter Agite!!!
Matthew