Tuesday, May 24, 2016

New Blog from Malta

To all those who used to check my blog, I have a new blog, also in English and updated with a new post every day from my home in Malta. Check it out here and put it on your favorites. Thanks for visiting, and remember you are all in my thoughts and prayers.


Saturday, April 23, 2016

A link to my new blog from Malta

For those who would like to continue checking my blog, please go to a new blog I started from my home in Malta. I am hoping to at least include this note for those who used to visit this blog, and would like to continue getting some inspiration and pauses for reflection. My new blog address has my name in Maltese, which is Dun Giljan (Father Julian).
So please click here, and I will see you in my other blog, while this blog continues to be available for you to browse through over the 1500 entries I placed here since  January of 2012. Good luck, and please remember me in your prayers, as I will always remember you in mine. Fr Julian.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Sorry - Thank you - I Love you

I want to take this opportunity of my last entry from my parish in Bend to say Sorry, Thank You and I Love you – the three words that I encouraged everyone to say more frequently throughout these past 2 and a half years.

I say Sorry to anyone whom I have offended or hurt by anything I did or said. Sometimes corrections were necessary, but I tried to do them gently. My ultimate goal was to involve everyone in this parish and reach out to those who could have benefited from being here every weekend. Morris West in his book-made-movie “The Shoes of the Fisherman” wrote “Give me a priest who can suffer for his people, challenge them, and lets them know how much he loves them.” Yes, I did throw a few challenges at you, but that’s only because I wanted you to get better in your Christian life, on your spiritual journey, and to help our parish in the process. I am grateful for all those who responded and again I apologize for sometimes pushing you too hard. But remember that it’s because of your example that others have joined our parish family – your example was a convincing homily, a tribute to the faith you profess, and now the journey has to continue.

I say Thank You for all the blessings you have brought to me, and for letting me become an important part of your lives. Whether it’s baptizing a baby, sharing First Communion, visiting and anointing our seniors, burying many of them, as well as marrying many couples in love, every celebration and ceremony was touching and meaningful because I always try to put my heart and soul in everything I do. Thank you to those who worked closest to me, Father Joseph, our hard-working Parish Staff, our Acolytes, altar-servers, many Eucharistic Ministers and readers, sacristans and ushers, our great Music Ministry, the members of the Altar Society, Catholic Daughters and the Knights of Columbus. We experienced a lot of healing in this parish over the past 2 and a half years. Being thrown into a cauldron of emotional upheaval when I was asked to come here, I did not do anything drastic, but I listened, I prayed, I smiled, I forgave, and most importantly I focused on the future, not cried over the past. And together we saw harmony and peace descend calmly on this parish.
I say today I Love You, because you will always have a special place in my life and in my heart. I have a good memory and remember faces well, as well as names, from the children in our school and Faith Formation program, as well as entire families. I say I Love You because you have made me a better person, a better priest, a better shepherd – your sense of appreciation and affirmation is deeply acknowledged and recognized. Yes there were many tears of sadness because of a loss, but there are also tears of joy because of the gain we all achieved as a community.
In my first homily here, I told you also about my favorite quote: “God never asks us about our ability or inability, but always about our availability.” And you all know that was a priority of mine in this parish. My door was always open to whoever needed help. I take with me to Malta many memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Both in my 22 years in New York, the years in John Day and the 8 years in the Cathedral at Baker City, as well as the past 2 and a half years here in Bend, I had nothing but blessings and opportunities to bring peace, healing and leaving behind me a unified community. I pray that it will stay like this and gets even better as the years go by.                                         

Since I will not have a computer or quick access to the Internet when I arrive in Malta, stay tuned for when these posts resume. Since I will be in a different country and continent, Blogspot may think I am a hacker, and may present some security issues. If I cannot place any posts, I will eventually start a new blog and will give you the new address. Thank you.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

My home churches

The new parish church of St. Julian's
These are the two churches where most probably I will be celebrating Masses over the next few weeks and months. They are my home parish churches of St Julian's, the older one known as Lapsi (Ascension) church, and the new one built in 1969, a modern church built to serve the growing community of St Julian's. As I will be leaving the USA on Thursday, there may not be any posts over the next few days and weeks. Hopefully I can continue this blog from Malta. If not, I will start another blog and I will give you the new address at that time.
The old Lapsi church decorated for Christmas in 2010


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Great Truths about Life

1) No matter how hard you try, you can't baptize cats.
2) When your Mom is mad at your Dad, don't let her brush your hair.
3) If your  sister hits you, don't hit her back. They always catch the second person.
4) You can't trust dogs to watch your food.
5) Don't sneeze when  someone is cutting your hair.
6) Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the  same time.
7) You can't hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
8)  Don't wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
9) The best place to be when you're sad is Grandpa's lap.

1) Raising teenagers is like nailing Jell-O to a tree.
2) Wrinkles don't hurt.
3) Families are like fudge . . . mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
4) Today's mighty oak is just yesterday's nut that held its ground.
5) Laughing is good exercise. It's like jogging on the inside.
6)  Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.

1) Growing old is mandatory;  growing up is optional.
2) Forget the health food. I need all the preservatives I can get.
3) You're getting  old when you get the same sensation from a rocking chair that you once got from a roller coaster.
4) It's frustrating when you know all the answers, but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
5) Time may be a great healer, but it's a lousy beautician.
6) Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.

1) You believe in Santa Claus.
2) You don't believe in Santa Claus.
3) You are Santa Claus.
4) You look like Santa Claus.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Achievers at an advanged age

Grandma Moses still painting in her 90s
1.    At 100, Grandma Moses was painting.
2.    At 94, Bertrand Russell was active in international peace drives.
3.    At 93, George Bernard Shaw wrote the play "Farfetched Fables."
4.    At 91, Eamon de Valera served as president of Ireland.
5.    At 91, Adolph Zukor was chairman of Paramount Pictures.
6.    At 90, Pablo Picasso was producing drawings and engravings.
7.    At 89, Mary Baker Eddy was directing the Christian Science Church.
8.    At 89, Arthur Rubinstein gave one of his greatest recitals in New York's Carnegie Hall.
9.    At 80, Albert Schweitzer headed a hospital in Africa.
10.    At 86, Pablo Casals was giving cello concerts.

Michelangelo, still painting also in his 90s
11.    At 88, Michelangelo did architectural plans for the Church of Santa Maria.
12.    At 88, Konrad Adenauer was chancellor of Germany.
13.    At 85, Coco Chanel was the head of a fashion design firm.
14.    At 84, W.'Somerset Maughan wrote "Points of View."
15.    At 83, Alexander Kerensky wrote ‘Russia and History of Turning.'
16.     At 82, Winston Churchill wrote a History of the English Speaking People.
17.    At 82, Leo Tolstoy wrote "I Cannot Be Silent."
18.    At 81, Benjamin Franklin effected the compromise that led to the adoption of the U.S. Constitution.
19.    At 64, Francis Chichester sailed alone around the world in a 53 foot yacht.
20.    At 65, Winston Churchill became British Prime Minister for the first time and started epic struggle against Hitler.
21.    At 71, Gold Meir became prime minister of Israel.
22.    At 75, Ed Delano of California bicycled 3,100 miles in 33 1/2 days to attend his 50th college reunion in Worcester, Mass.

Pope St John XXIII, called the Vatican Council at 80 years of age.
23.    At 76, Cardinal Angelo Roncalli became Pope John XXIII and inaugurated major changes over five years to start a new era in Roman Catholicism.
24.    At 96, George C. Selbach scored a 110 yard hole-in-one at Indian River, Michigan.  He is still playing golf at 98.
25.    At 100, Eubie Blake, ragtime pianist and composer, died (1983).  On his birthday five days before, he explained, "If I'd known I was gonna live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself.
26.    At 119, Shigechiyo Izumi of Japan, documented as the oldest person who has ever lived, reached this age on June 29, 1984.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Angelus

Painted by Jean Francoise Millet, “The Angelus” is a famous painting from 1859, much revered by the French peasantry. Millet lived between 1814 and 1875, wretchedly poor, but with a great ambition to paint. And as he painted he also became a great teacher by the subjects he chose to paint. These two peasants pictured have spent a whole day at hard labor, but still went along without complaint, going about their tasks gladly and cheerfully. Then as evening comes, they pause in their work for silent prayer. We can almost hear the sounds of the bell in the distant church steeple and feel the solemnity of the occasion. At 6 PM, they pause to pray the Angelus, and thank God for none of the worldly goods, but for love, health and life. How happy people must be when they focus on these three gifts.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Spiritual Vitamins - N to Z

Nervous? Take Vitamin N. Never, never will I leave you nor forsake you. (Heb 13:5)
Overwhelmed? Take Vitamin O. Overcome evil with good. (Rom 12:21)

Perplexed or puzzled? Take Vitamin P. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. (Jn 14:27)
Quitting? Take Vitamin Q. Quit refusing to believe in me, but have faith in me (John 8: 45-46)

Restless? Take Vitamin R. Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him. (Ps 37:7)
Scared? Take Vitamin S. Stay with me, and do not be afraid; for the one who seeks my life seeks your life; you will be safe with me. (1 Sam 22:23)

Tired? Take Vitamin T. Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. (Isa 40:31)
Uncertain? Take Vitamin U. Understand that I am the Lord. No god was ever before me, nor shall any other god come after me (Isa 43:10)

Vain? Take Vitamin V. Vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. (Acts 5:16)
Wondering what to do? Take Vitamin W. What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? (Mic 6:8)

eXhausted? Take Vitamin X. eXercise yourself for devotion. (1 Tim 4:7)
Yearning for hope? Take Vitamin Y. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff - they comfort me. (Ps 23:4)

Zapped? Take Vitamin Z. Be Zealous for good deeds. (Titus 2:14)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Spiritual Vitamins - from A to M

Anxious? Take Vitamin A. All things work together for the good of those who love God. (Rom 8:28)
Blue? Take Vitamin B. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. (Ps 103:1)

Crushed? Take Vitamin C. Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Pet 5:7)
Depressed? Take Vitamin D. Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Eager ? Take Vitamin E and Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. (Ps 100:4)
Fearful? Take Vitamin F. Fear not, for I am with you, do not be afraid, for I am your God. (Isa 41:10)

Greedy? Take Vitamin G. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put unto your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back. (Luke 6:38)
Hesitant? Take Vitamin H. How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news, who announces salvation. (Isa 52:7)
Insecure? Take Vitamin I. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Phil 4:13)
Jittery? Take Vitamin J. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (Heb 13:8)
Know nothing? Take Vitamin K. Know that the Lord is God, it is He that made us . (Ps 100:3)

Lonely? Take Vitamin L. Love God and love each other. (1 John 4: 21)
Mortgaged? Take Vitamin M. My grace is sufficient for you; power is made perfect in weakness. (2 Cor 12:9)

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Bleeding Heart

My favorite flower will soon be in full bloom, and as these photos can tell, the Bleeding Heart speaks of love, optimism, hope and sheer beauty. Its technical name in botany is Lamprocapnos spectabilis. It is also affectionately also known as old-fashioned Venus's car, Lady in a bath, Dutchman's trousers, or Lyre-flower. It is a perennial plant native to eastern Asia from Siberia south to Japan. It is a popular ornamental plant for flower gardens in temperate climates, and is also used in floristry as a cut flower for Valentine's Day. It usually has red heart-shaped flowers with white tips which droop from arching flower stems in late spring and early summer. 
White-flowered forms are also cultivated. I pray that bleeding hearts will be only visible on this plant, and not in the lives of so many heart-broken people and families, of which there are probably much more than we think.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Historic painting

Click to enlarge this historic painting
I share with you today a historic photo which you may call very anachronistic and impossible to see in real life. It is of course a painting of various known people placed together in a scene that spans over 2000 years, maybe even more. You have to enlarge it as much as possible to see each person, but I’m sure you’ll be able to spot some of these characters in no particular order. They include heroes as well as villains, great leaders as well as characters we all would like to forget. Among them you can surely spot:
Beethoven, Mozart, Dante, Pele, Einstein, Hitler, Charlie Chaplin, Vladimir Putin, Stalin, Lenin, Bill Clinton, Saddam Hussein, Winston Churchill, Shakespeare, Abraham Lincoln, Mao Tze Tung, Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Prince Charles, Michael Jordan, Salvador Dali, Queen Elizabeth, Shirley Temple, Mother Teresa, Karl Marx, Elvis Presley, Audrey Hepburn, Bill Gates, Bruce Lee, Charles DeGaul, Picasso, Napoleon, Marilyn Monroe, Marlon Brando, Yasser Arafat, Pavarotti, Gandhi and many others.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Children’s questions to Mary

Yesterday I shared with you some questions that children may want to ask Jesus. Now a few questions to His mother Mary…..
Dear Mary, did you say the prayers with Jesus when he woke up – we say our prayers even before we go to bed.
Dear Mary, did you say grace before meals and pray for those who have nothing to eat? – we pray Jesus’ favorite prayer when we say “Give us this day our daily bread.”
Dear Mary, did you have a pet dog or cat or maybe even a donkey? – we have a dog, some fish and a cockatiel who squeaks a lot.
Dear Mary, did you stay with Jesus when he was doing his homework? – did he do all his homework in time, and finish all his projects in time?
Dear Mary, did you have a Bible at home? – we have a Bible from which we read daily, and another big one with leather cover and lots of pictures in it.
Dear Mary, did you speak to the Holy Spirit? – I know you saw him at Pentecost, but did Jesus ever speak about him to you?
Dear Mary, did you ever tell Jesus about where he was born? – was he ever disappointed that he wasn’t born in a nicer place?
Dear Mary, did you ever tell him what the shepherds said about him, and what gifts the Kings gave him? – I bet he would have preferred some toys!
Dear Mary, how really worried were you when Jesus was lost for 3 days? – you must have panicked a little, as my parents do when I get lost sometimes.
Dear Mary, when Joseph died, did Jesus work for you, so that he can feed you with some income?
Dear Mary, you must have been heart-broken when you see Jesus being killed and crucified on the cross. We remember you every year as we pray to the Sorrowful Mother.
Dear Mary, what feelings went through your mind when they placed Jesus’ lifeless body on your lap when he was taken down from the Cross? We remember you as pray to you as the Pieta’.
Dear Mary, we love the prayer of the Rosary and wish more people would say it more frequently. I say it daily, along with our entire family at night before we go to sleep.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Children’s questions to Jesus

Dear Jesus, we have a few questions for you – you know how children are always inquisitive about everything they see around them. So here are a few questions for you….

Dear Jesus, we love your flowers – how we wish that the blind can see them!
Dear Jesus, you made a great invention when you made birds fly, and sing so beautifully to each other.
Dear Jesus, where did you get all that water in our seas – we enjoy swimming in it!
Dear Jesus, how do you keep the sun up, without falling – and so we can see what we’re doing with its bright light.
Dear Jesus, how do you light all those lamps and stars in the sky, for everyone to see and for no one to count.
Dear Jesus, how do you fit in my heart, since it is so small – but the important thing is that you stay there.
Dear Jesus, why do some people don’t like you, since you are so beautiful – please forgive them and bring them back to you.
Dear Jesus, do you ever sleep – you’re always so busy and taking care of everyone?
Dear Jesus, did your mom sew that nice robe you wear? – maybe from some money your daddy earned at his carpenter’s shop?
Dear Jesus, did your mom ever bought you any toys – to play and share with your friends?
Dear Jesus, will we be able to play while in heaven? – they told us in religion classes that in heaven we will have a different body.

Dear Jesus, there are many children who have never heard of you – could you reach out to them and visit them, whenever you have some free time?
Dear Jesus, your mom is really beautiful – we have many of her statues in our church, and they are all so pretty.
Dear Jesus, you are really patient with us – this shows how much you love us and desire that we stay close to you.
Dear Jesus, did your mom let you play with other children – probably as long as they were nice and well-behaved.
Dear Jesus, prepare for us a nice place with you in heaven – I’ll be there with my parents, with my brothers and sisters and my grandparents, I hope we can all fit in there!
Dear Jesus, come and live with us for a few days – my dad will fix a room for you to stay in...or you can even take my bed and stay in my room.
Dear Jesus, come and play with us – we will be happy to play your games, and share ours with you.
Dear Jesus, have mercy on those who use bad words, so that they can love you more – our teacher told us to say “Blessed be God” when we hear them curse.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Divine Mercy Sunday

The Sunday after Easter will always be known as Divine Mercy Sunday, as people pray the novena handed down to us by St Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun and visionary, who was pushed away by many church authorities in her time and after her death. But Pope St John Paul, a Polish himself, re-opened her case and authenticated her visions, and even canonized her in the year 2000, precisely on Divine Mercy Sunday. The faithful pray the novena by reciting 50 times "For the sake of His Sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world." The image of Jesus as depicted here was described by Saint Faustina, with two rays of light emanating from the heart of Jesus, one in white and one in red. The phrase "Jesus, I trust in you" is frequently included.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Humility prayer of a person getting older

Lord, you know better than myself that I am growing older and will soon be old. Keep me from becoming too talkative, and especially from the unfortunate habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject and at every opportunity.
Release me from the idea that I must straighten out other peoples' affairs. With my immense treasure of experience and wisdom, it seems a pity not to let everybody partake of it. But you know, Lord, that in the end I will need a few friends. Keep me from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point.
Grant me the patience to listen to the complaints of others; help me to endure them with charity. But seal my lips on my own aches and pains - they increase with the increasing years and my inclination to recount them is also increasing.
I will not ask you for improved memory, but only for a little more humility and less self-assurance when my own memory doesn't agree with that of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be wrong.
Keep me reasonably gentle. I do not have the ambition to become a saint - it is so hard to live with some of them - but a harsh old person is one of the devil's masterpieces.
Make me sympathetic without being sentimental, helpful but not bossy. Let me discover merits where I had not expected them, and talents in people whom I had not thought to possess any. And, Lord, give me the grace to tell them so.

Friday, April 1, 2016

8 gifts that do not cost a cent

Yet they can be the hardest to give.

No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response.  Just listening.

Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds.
Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."

It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note (or e-mail) may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did a super job" or "That was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day.

Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others. There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness is the pain of the being alone, while solitude is the glory of being alone. Treasure solitude!

The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really it's not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Easter Vigil photos

Blessing of the Paschal Candle
The celebration of the Easter Vigil in our parish was the climactic moment for our Liturgical Year as 9 members were baptized and three others also confirmed, while one was received into full communion of the Catholic church. 5 members of the same family also received sacraments, the mother and her two sons and a baby daughter were baptized, while the  father was confirmed, besides receiving their first Holy Communion. These photos show the ceremony in progress.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Easter Lily

Just as the poinsettia takes center stage at Christmas time, the Easter Lily does the same at Easter time, adorning our sanctuaries and being used to decorate our altars for the Easter season every year. The Easter Lily was discovered by a missionary priest in the 19th century on Ryukyu Island, off Japan. It is a stem rooting lily, growing up to 3 feet high. It bears a number of trumpet shaped, white, fragrant, and outward facing flowers, with pointed green leaves. Its technical name is Lilium longiflorum. The missionary who found it eventually tried to take some bulbs to England, but was stranded in Bermuda, where they bloomed for the first time on April 16, 1854. They reached Philadelphia in 1876.
From the 1890s to the early 1920s, there was a thriving export trade of bulbs from Bermuda to New York. A disease affected the Bermuda lilies: this was identified by Lawrence Ogilvie. Then most Easter lily bulbs arriving in the United States were imported from Japan before 1940s. The supply of bulbs was suddenly cut off after the attack on Pearl Harbor and Easter lilies became extremely valuable in the United States. Once the plant and flowers have withered, you can plant the bulb in any garden, and they will come up again. In warmer climates, they will sprout again by the following August, otherwise, wait for next spring.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Easter decorations at St Francis

I share with you today two photos from each of our churches here in Bend. The new church is decorated by Rick and Lupita Wesseler, assisted by a new couple, while the historic church is decorated by Judy Kennedy, assisted by a few other helpers. The new church has the empty tomb represented in front of the main altar, this year also having a sunrise effect. All around, flowers adorn the tabernacle and other sections of the sanctuary. 
The historic church is resplendent with Easter lilies and seasonal flowers and two angels in front of the altar. The Paschal Candle is prominently displayed in both churches next to the pulpit. More photos from Holy Week can be seen at www.stfrancisbend.blogspot.com
The Monstrance with the Blessed Sacrament and the crucifix in the background

Monday, March 28, 2016

Mother Angelica of EWTN dies at 92

Mother Angelica (1923-2016)
Mother Mary Angelica of the Annunciation, foundress of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), passed away on Easter Sunday, March 27 after a lengthy struggle with the aftereffects of a stroke. She was 92 years old. Born Rita Rizzo on April 20, 1923, few would have predicted that the girl from a troubled family in Canton, Ohio, would go on to found not only two thriving religious orders, but also the world’s largest religious media network.
On Aug. 15, 1944, at the age of 21, Rita entered the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Cleveland and took the name by which the world would come to know her — Sister Mary Angelica of the Annunciation. In 1969, she began recording spiritual talks on audio for mass distribution. She recorded her first radio program in 1971, 10-minute programs for WBRC.
Encouraged by her new friend and patron Nashville lawyer Bill Steltemeier, she recorded her first television programs seven years later — half-hour programs called Our Hermitage. It didn’t take long for her to warm to the idea of a faithful Catholic media apostolate.

While utilizing a secular studio to produce programs for a Christian cable television network one day in 1978, Mother Angelica heard that the station owned by the studio planned to air a program she felt was blasphemous. “When I found out that the station was going to broadcast a blasphemous movie, I confronted the station manager and objected,” said Mother Angelica. “He ignored my complaint, so I told him I would go elsewhere to make my tapes. He told me, ‘You leave this station and you’re off television.’”
“I’ll build my own!” responded Mother Angelica. That decision was the catalyst for EWTN, as it led to the sisters’ suggestion to turn the garage into a television studio.

Mother Angelica in the early years of EWTN
Eternal Word Television Network was launched, fittingly, on the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, Aug. 15, 1981. That garage became the first television studio and eventually became the control room — the nerve center — for EWTN’s global television programming. From its humble beginnings in a garage at an Alabama monastery, EWTN expanded over the years into an influential TV, radio and online operation. Its channels now broadcast to 264 million households around the world.
Mother Angelica appeared regularly on the network, hosting "Mother Angelica Live," a show on which she led religious discussions with TV viewers. She founded and grew a network that appealed to everyday Catholics, understood their needs and fed their spirits. After stepping down from leading EWTN in the early 2000s, Angelica suffered a stroke that impaired her speech and limited her mobility. EWTN's success was recognized by the leaders of the Catholic Church. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI awarded one of the Vatican's top honors to Angelica and the network's former chairman for their work.

EWTN today transmits 24-hour-a-day programming to more than 264 million homes in 144 countries. What began with approximately 20 employees has now grown to nearly 400. The religious network broadcasts terrestrial and shortwave radio around the world, operates a religious goods catalog and publishes the National Catholic Register and Catholic News Agency, among other publishing ventures.

Her funeral will be held on Friday April 1 at the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in Birmingham, Alabama, with various vigil services, rosaries and prayer services between Tuesday and Thursday.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

He is Risen! Alleluia

"Why do you search for the living among the dead? He is risen - he is not here!"
May the Easter blessings come upon all of you who visit this blog, and may the joy we experience today, remain with us all year long, especially with those who have suffered so much in their lives. May the Light of Christ illumine their every way, and lead them to happier days ahead.

He is truly Risen!Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!
He brings a Prayerful Life to someone searching for meaning and direction.
He brings Peace to those who are always worried and uptight.
He brings Victory out of defeat.
He brings Joy to those who cannot seem to smile anymore.
He brings a Beautiful Baby to her who was premeditating an abortion.
He brings Light to those who are living in darkness.
He brings Enlightenment and Understanding to those couples whose marriage has been more of a struggle than a Joy.
He brings Hope out of despair.
He brings New Life to those worried about dying.
He brings Peace to this world ravaged by war and fighting and oppression.
He brings Love and Reconciliation to those harboring thoughts of revenge and hate.
He brings Optimism in a world tormented by pessimism.

A Blessed Easter to all visitors of this blog.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Figolli and Pysanky

Maltese figolli
Just as Christmas has its special food, like puddings, mince pies, cookies and fruitcake, so does Easter, and in particular, I refer to two places where these special treats are so popular that they deserve a special mention today, the vigil of Easter. I’m referring to Malta with its figolli and Ukraine and its Pysnaky eggs.
More figolli wrapped and ready for sale
The Maltese figolli are popular treats made from 2 sheets of dough, filled with almond paste, but the dough is usually cut in shapes of hearts, baskets, rabbits, bears, butterflies, shapes of children or anything imaginative. A chocolate egg is placed on top, after the shape is covered with hard icing and decorated like any other cake. 
Holy Thursday bread from Malta with sesame seeds and almonds
Another popular treat in Malta is the Holy Thursday bread, made like a donut shape with almonds and sesame seeds. They are traditionally given to the 12 parishioners whose feet are washed at the evening Mass, but many people buy these loaves, have them blessed and enjoy them on Holy Thursday. They are of course very crusty on the outside and fresh on the inside. 
Pysanky eggs from Ukraine
The word pysanka (plural pysanky) refers specifically to an egg decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs. Artists go into incredible detail as they decorate these eggs with beautiful colored designs, each color is symbolic of a virtue or a positive trait. With the advent of Christianity, the symbolism of the egg was changed to represent, not nature's rebirth, but the rebirth of man. Christians embraced the egg symbol and likened it to the tomb from which Christ rose. With the acceptance of Christianity in 988, the decorated pysanka, in time, was adapted to play an important role in Ukrainian rituals of the new religion. Many symbols of the old sun worship survived and were adapted to represent Easter and Christ's Resurrection.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday processions

The Sorrowful Mother statue from Rabat, Malta from 2010
As we commemorate the passion and death of Our Lord today, I go back once more to Malta and share with you some photos of a typical Good Friday procession, which is held in various parishes this afternoon, into the evening. Life size statues are carried shoulder high by strong men, as children, adults and many parishioners participate in a solemn and reverent procession depicting various scenes from the last few hours of Jesus. Children also dress up as Old Testament and New Testament characters, carrying various symbols. 


                ACCUSED HIM, ABUSED HIM;


                         ASSAILED HIM, NAILED HIM.

                             FOR YOU AND ME, HE DIED,

                                 I CRIED...............................

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Holy Thursday in Malta

Altar of Repose in a church in Rabat, Malta
Holy Thursday is a very special day for all priests and Catholics alike. Traditionally the Chrism Mass is held in the morning in most Dioceses, while in the evening the re-enactment of the Last Supper is celebrated with the foot-washing ceremony held in each church. In Malta and other countries, a very elaborate and decorative Altar of Repose is set up with flowers, candles, angels and other religious symbols. After the Mass in the evening, parishioners would visit these altars which are set up in every church and chapel, praying in vigil late into the night, and even sometimes on Friday morning. These photos show only a sample of some altars decorated during my last visit to Malta in 2010. Click on each photo to admire the painstaking detail people go through to decorate these altars, which are frequently disassembled on Friday afternoon, just before the Good Friday Service.
Altar of Repose in a Carmelite church in Valletta, Malta
Altar of Repose in another church in Valletta, Malta
Altar of Repose in my childhood church, St Julian's, Malta

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Holy Triduum

Holy Week is just days ahead, Lord.
In some ways, it will be an ordinary week:
I'll still have to go to work, to school, to the store.
I'll still need to care for my family and friends.
I'll still have to do laundry and take out the trash.
I'll still have to deal with life's everyday problems:
    my responsibilities won't diminish or take a break...

And I'll do all this in a world that largely ignores  the names we give this week's special days:
                        Palm Sunday, 
                            Holy Thursday
                               Good Friday
                                  Holy Saturday
                                     Easter Sunday
So I ask you to help me, Lord, to make and keep this week holy...

I hope and pray this week will be peaceful - in spite of all I have to do...
I hope and pray these days will be prayerful: that I'll make some time to spend with you alone and time to go to church on these holy days...
I hope and pray that in my mind and heart these days will be different from any others,
in how I see and experience the world around me, in how I plan and spend my time...

Help me know and live these days as set apart, some solemn and some joyful:
      a time to grow in faith, and hope and love,
      a time to grow in my relationship with you...

Let this week not be like all the others, Lord - but let this week and all its days
be truly holy. Amen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Archbishop Emeritus of Malta dies.

Archbishop Joseph Mercieca (1928-2016)
Archbishop Joseph Mercieca was born in Victoria on the island of Gozo in Malta. He was baptised on 14 November 1928 and received the other sacraments at the parish church of St George in Victoria. He entered the Gozo seminary to study for the priesthood but continued his studies in Rome at the Gregorian university and the Lateran university. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1952 by Joseph Pace, the Bishop of Gozo at St James' Church in Victoria, Gozo. In 1958, he was chosen to be the rector of the Gozo Major Seminary. In 1969 Father Mercieca was appointed, by Pope Paul VI, to judge the Roman Rota.

Five years later Pope Paul VI appointed him Auxiliary Bishop of Malta to assist Archbishop Gonzi. He was consecrated bishop by Archbishop Mikiel Gonzi on the feast of St Michael in St. John's Co-Cathedral, Valletta. Succeeding the said Msgr. Gonzi as archbishop of the metropolitan see of Malta on December 12, 1976, during his thirty years in office, Mercieca - who was virtually unknown before his episcopal appointment - managed to restore stability in the Maltese Church after the bruising political dispute with the Labour Party in the Gonzi years. Threading carefully a new dispute with the Labour government during the 1980's regarding Church schools and church property, he maintained his characteristic tranquillity when he was twice surrounded by angry mobs, when a bomb was placed outside his residence in Mdina, and when the curia was ransacked, ensuring to a large extent that the long-lasting divisions of the 1960's would not return anew. He spent the next thirty years as the spiritual shepherd of the Archdiocese of Malta.

1976, myself as a deacon with Archbishop Gonzi and Mercieca at his consecration
Mecieca is credited with restoring stability in the Maltese church following Gonzi's dispute with the Malta Labour Party in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1995, he was appointed a member of the Xirka Gieh ir-Repubblika. Mercieca offered his resignation to Pope John Paul II on 11 November 2003. He remained Archbishop until 2 December 2006, and was succeeded by Paul Cremona in January 2007. Archbishop Mercieca had a brother who is also a priest serving in his home parish of St. George in Victoria. Mercieca retired from the pastoral government of his see on December 2, 2006, passing away after years of failing health aged 87. The funeral will be held on Wednesday March 23, and he will be buried in the Mdina Cathedral. Archbishop Emeritus Mercieca is the bishop who ordained me and my 13 classmates in June 1977.
Mercieca, 2nd from left with the Long Island Bishop, John McGann in 1990
Archbishop Mercieca with Pope St John Paul II