Mother Angelica’s last gift to us.


I was watching the solemn mass last night on EWTN held in memory of Mother Angelica. It was beautiful.

The homily was given by a priest very close to mother Angelica who was privileged enough to be with her through her last few days. He said that she did suffer terrible pain towards the end. On good Friday she was crying out from the fractures in her bones, caused by spending so much time bedridden. But, he said, she did seem to calm down after 3pm – the time our Lord gave up His spirit.

It seems obvious to me that mother Angelica was participating in our Lord’s pain and passion. I can say this with confidence because she had proved at earlier times in her life that she understood the value of suffering.

The priest said that despite the concern expressed by her doctors and fellow nuns, she had asked to go onto a feeding tube a few weeks before to prolong her life as long as possible. This was because she understood the infinite value in one more glance to God, one more act of redemptive suffering offered with love. This of course is the exact opposite mentality of the euthanasia movement who wish to eliminate all pain and suffering, and old-age ‘uselessness’.

He reminded us that she suffered a huge brain hemorrhage in 2001 which meant that from that time on she spent most of her time back in the cloister. God had called her back into a life of prayer and contemplation, where she was going to be most valuable to Him.


We are so quick to dismiss suffering. It is almost always an unwanted gift, but none the less, one of the most valuable.

In my own experience of suffering I have learned that it is how we suffer that is important. Just like fasting, I believe suffering only bears fruit if it is offered with a prayerful loving and generous heart. I believe suffering to be the biggest untapped spiritual resource we have as Christians.

Let’s choose to embrace our little crosses and allow ourselves to participate in Jesus’ pain and passion, not just at the end of our lives, but today and everyday, just like mother Angelica did.

Someone make that woman a saint!

Catholic Bishops ask Rome to change Good Friday prayer for the conversion of the Jews – because it is not politically correct enough.



Archbishop Kevin McDonald

By Joseph Shaw (Chairman of the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales)

The Bishops of England and Wales recently had a meeting, and among their decisions was one concerning a prayer of the liturgy which they decided they didn’t like in its current form. This prayer is used once a year, in about six churches in England and Wales, and never in English: it is always said in Latin, because it belongs to the Vetus Ordo (Traditional Mass) service for Good Friday.

A remarkable attention to detail, perhaps. But the bishops’ objection to the prayer wasn’t to do with it being difficult to understand (it doesn’t use the word ‘ineffable’, the word which so annoys objectors to the new translation of the English Mass.) The retired Archbishop Kevin McDonald explained it this way: it is ‘a prayer for the conversion of Jews to Christianity’.

This is true – more or less. The prayer runs like this:

‘Let us also pray for the Jews: that our God and Lord may illuminate their hearts, that they acknowledge Jesus Christ is the Saviour of all men.’


Archbishop Kevin McDonald

The prayer is based on St Paul (eg 2 Cor 4:3-6), who looked forward to Jewish people, as a body, coming to the Faith in the final phase of history . The Fathers of the Church saw the ‘conversion of the Jews’ as one of the prologues to the Second Coming (Romans 11:25-26). While individual Jews become Christians along the way, the acceptance of Christ by ‘the Jewish people’ is not about a targeted programme of proselytism, such as Evangelical Christians sometimes promote. Whether aggressively conducted or not, Jewish sensitivities to this kind of thing are easy to understand in the context of their history.

It was in light of these sensitivities that Pope Benedict re-wrote the Prayer for the Jews to be used in the Traditional Mass, after he lifted restrictions on the celebration of it in 2007. It is his, 2008 version, that we are talking about, not the one this one replaced. He removed some of the rather dramatic language used by St Paul (eg 2 Cor 3:14) – about how God would one lay lift the ‘veil’ from the Jews’ hearts – but he left in the hope that they would accept Christ one day.

What is it about asking God to give Jews the grace of conversion that Archbishop McDonald and the English Bishops don’t like? They prefer the equivalent prayer used at Good Friday in the Novus Ordo, the liturgy reformed after Vatican II. He told us:

‘The 1970 prayer which is now used throughout the Church is basically a prayer that the Jewish people would continue to grow in the love of God’s name and in faithfulness of his Covenant, a Covenant which – as St John Paul II made clear in 1980 – has not been revoked.’

Exactly what St John Paul II meant by that phrase has been long disputed. It is in another reference to St Paul, who said the Jews are loved by God because, despite the coming of Christ, God does not revoke his promises (Romans 11:29). Could it mean that Jews are saved by something other than the Cross of Christ? It can’t possibly mean that: even people outside the Church are saved, if they are saved, by the merits of Christ, as the Catechism makes clear:

848 ‘Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.’


Jewish worshipers pray at the Western Wall.


Denying that Christ died to save all mankind puts us into very dodgy ground. The universal nature of Christ’s saving act is a fundamental teaching of Christianity. It is offered universally; it is accepted, Christ tells us, by ‘few’. But every sin ever committed is infinitely counterbalanced by the Christ’s self-sacrificial love, his death on the Cross, and it is this, and this alone, which has opened heaven to us all.

We might be wondering, at this point, whether the reformed liturgy most Catholics go to, actually expresses this fundamental doctrine. Not only does it, but it contains explicit prayers for the conversion of the Jews.

Here’s one: ‘Let Israel recognize in you the Messiah it has longed for’

Here’s another: ‘Christ, Son of David, fulfilment of the prophecies, may the Jewish people accept you as their awaited Deliverer [Latin: Messiah].’

These are from the Liturgy of the Hours, not Mass, but they are part of the Church’s public prayer, and should be said by all priests. And bishops, of course. (They come up in Morning Office of 31st December, and Vespers of Easter Sunday.)

Have the Bishops of England and Wales not noticed that the 1970 liturgy does exactly what they object to about the Vetus Ordo liturgy? Should someone tell them?

More on the issue can be read here.


When God’s Love Hurts.


Fulton, before the accident.

When God’s Love Hurts – By Cassandra Poppe

“On the Way of the Cross, you see, my children, only the first step is painful. Our greatest cross is the fear of crosses. . . . We have not the courage to carry our cross, and we are very much mistaken; for,whatever we do, the cross holds us tight — we cannot escape from it. What, then, have we to lose? Why not love our crosses and make use of them to take us to Heaven? But, on the contrary, most men turn their backs upon crosses, and fly before them. The more they run, the more the cross pursues them, the more it strikes and crushes them with burdens. . . . If you were wise, you would go to meet it like Saint Andrew, who said, when he saw the cross prepared for him and raised up into the air, “Hail O good cross! O admirable cross! O desirable cross! receive me into thine arms, withdraw me from among men, and restore me to my Master, who redeemed me through thee. “ — St John Vianney

Crosses. Suffering. The human race has been plagued with hardship ever since that fateful day in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve desired more than the goodness God had already given them. And from that point on, most viewed suffering as a punishment from God – until that first Good Friday when Our Lord transformed punishment into a blessing. It seems natural for us to try to alleviate hardships when they come. A painkiller, a massage, an adjustment to the thermostat. How many little things do we do each day, each hour, to tweak the comfort level around ourselves? As these first 2 paragraphs were written, I have already adjusted my posture, scratched an itch and taken a sip of my drink. All actions taken almost without thinking and all done to increase my comfort.

But what happens when our discomfort becomes full blown suffering? Suddenly our pleasure and comfort seeking instincts are challenged and no matter what remedies we try, our suffering is not eased. Cancer. The loss of a loved one. Crippling persecution. An accident. These crosses do not refine and perfect our souls in little ways, as the everyday annoyances in life can. No. These crosses are life changing, redirecting our souls directly towards Calvary, to bring about in us a profoundly holy transformation. But only if we are able to see the love that is hidden within the cross.

While we may not cheerfully embrace our crosses, our Catholic faith teaches us of the immense value in suffering. We have Crucifixes to remind us of Our Lord’s suffering and sacrifice, inspiring us to mortify ourselves for love of Him. We understand that suffering is a part of life and a tool we must use well for the sanctification of our soul. Others avoid suffering, seeing it as either a punishment or from Satan.

And while this view may be correct in certain circumstances, we must always remember that all suffering is allowed by Our Lord. If He allows it to happen, we must treat it as an invaluable opportunity to grow in holiness, and give glory to God. No matter what. I do not say this lightly, as it is indeed both a joy and a burden to be trusted by Our Lord. He requires much of those He loves – sometimes more than we think we can handle. But we may rest in the fact that as long as we remain firmly at His side and under the loving watch of Our Lady, all things are possible.

When Our Lord redirected our lives that fateful January morning, I felt it more than I heard it. That deep percussion-like boom one hears when a firework is sent skyward, before it explodes. This was immediately followed by my husband’s unintelligible cry. Flying to the kitchen window, I saw what will haunt me forever. My four year old little boy was slowly moving away from the burn barrel, completely engulfed in flames from his waist to his head. His hands were clenched at his sides, moving them up towards his face in slow motion, pieces of his fleece jacket peeling away and falling behind him.

What followed could rival the goriest scenes in a horror movie. Grey, cadaverous forehead. Deformed ears. Skin still bubbling from the heat trapped within. Long strands of flesh hanging from little hands and arms like a partially unwrapped mummy rising from its tomb. Shrieks of pain. Tears of terror. As my son was laid at my feet on the kitchen floor, I collapsed before him, unable to do anything for him before the ambulance arrived. And so I prayed. The two prayers that came to me were, “Mother of God, be with us,” and “Thy will be done.” And looking back, I understand why.

From that moment on, Our Sorrowful Mother took me as her child, showing me that sometime God’s love looks very ugly on the surface. I had gotten a taste of this truth before, when my husband and I struggled to make our marriage work, and again when I cared for my father in his home as he died of cancer. But this by far was the most crippling form of suffering I could have endured. I wanted to take on Fulton’s burns as my own. “Lord, let me suffer these pains for You!” I prayed. “He is too little!” But I see now how that would have been the easy route for me. I already understood redemptive suffering, binding physical pains to the wounds of Our Lord on the Cross as an offering of love. But I could not do that for my son. This emotional anguish was new – and so instead of suffering with Our Lord, I suffered at the foot of Fulton’s cross with Our Lady. If she saw the love hidden within the Our Lord’s Cross, surely I could find the love in Fulton’s suffering. And that is what I needed to find. Otherwise, his suffering made no sense. I did not want to be a bystander on Calvary, disgusted by the scene before me, or to be one to rage against God amid the pain.


I have known far too many bitter souls in my life who, do not take the time to examine their crosses and embrace them for the gift they are. Help me find the gifts, Sweet Mary. Help me find the love! And what love there was! Just as word spread of Christ’s suffering and brought about conversions, so too did Fulton’s suffering inspire others to the faith. I received letters from people who have returning to a life of prayer because of Fulton’s powerful story. Some grasped for the first time what it means to ‘offer it up’ and embraced their own crosses with a new found love for God. They saw through Fulton’s and my experience, that love cannot be complete without some form of willing suffering or sacrifice, choosing to participate in God’s plan through the cross laid upon their shoulders, even when they could not yet see the love.


Truly, His call to take up our crosses and follow Him was a call to suffer for Him that others may be saved. And for the first time I understood the words of St. Paul when he said, “In my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” (Col. 1:24) when hearts previously unmoved by Christ’s Passion were moved by the sufferings of a little boy. Praise God!

Two years after the accident, the love continues to reveal itself. Patients in the hospital are learning Fulton’s ‘brave breath’ techniques to help them get through the pain. His burn cards, a social reintegration solution we invented together, have given confidence to other burn patients who are struggling with re-entering society. And his mere presence in restaurants or the mall have brought people to tears, once they talk to him and see how strong he is. He has brought hope and healing to adults who suffered various crosses in silence, inspired for the first time to face their own past hurts. His scars show them their own woundedness, and come to realize their scars are proof of their strength, not their weakness.

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Fulton, through the cross he carries and the scars he bears, has touched far more souls than he ever could have before the accident. And only in Eternity will we know how many hearts he helped return to the Church and into the loving arms of Our Father. Please Lord, may I be numbered among them, for I have learned so much.

My trials have taught me that every crisis forces one to redirect his life. We are handed a cross, designed especially for us, and asked to choose. We cannot choose whether we will take the cross. No. The cross is ours to bear no matter what. But we can freely choose how we respond to it.

Do we accept that cross and prayerfully carry it to its completion? Do we give hope to others along the way? Or do we curse our cross as it grows in weight and model for others how to stumble and rage against the One who gifted us?

I have tried both responses to the carefully chosen crosses Our Lord has sent me in my life. I can assure you that while cursing those things in our lives that cause us to suffer may feel more natural, embracing our suffering is by far the easier response, for it is the only response that coincides with God’s will.


My prayer for you this Holy Week is that you open your heart to the cross God has given you and cherish it as a priceless gift. Just as Christ’s Passion draws hearts to love Him more, may you draw others closer to Our Lord through your suffering. Praise His name through your pain. May God be glorified through you!

“Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. And Jesus hearing it, said to them: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God: that the Son of God may be glorified by it.” John 11:3-4


Fulton’s next big surgery is coming up on April 14th 2015. Please pray for Fulton! Come and see his progress on his Facebook page ‘Pray For Fulton’

Cassandra Poppe’s blog is Let us kneel

Station 4 – Jesus meets His Mother.

4th station 1

The 4th Station – Jesus Meets His Mother.

Jesus had been abandoned by his followers and denied by Peter. He was alone even as the crowds milled around him in the crowded streets. In the midst of that searing loneliness Jesus met His mother. How deeply Mary felt the pain of her son’s journey to Calvary. How she suffered to see Jesus abused and on his way to death. She was powerless to change the course of events, she could only be there. There was only that moment of seeing one another, of deep recognition, of shared faith that never wavered even in this absolute darkness. Mary’s presence was all she could give to her suffering Son. 


Fr. Sam Explains…

The fourth station of the cross has to be one of the most moving encounters we have in our possession as Church. In it we see the whole summit of Our Salvation. Mary our Beloved Mother encounters her son on the tragic path towards his death. No mention of this is in scripture. Why? Do you think any words could express this encounter? Do you believe they even exchanged words? What could be said?

Mary and Jesus stand united under the tree of the Cross, both of them perfectly fulfilling the will of God. They are the perfect contrast to Adam and Eve who chose to disobey God under the tree of knowledge;

“In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one person the many were made sinners, so through the obedience of one the many will be made righteous.” – (Romans 5:18-19)

The loving gaze between Mary and Jesus spans the whole of Salvation. Mary gazes with agonizing love into her sons eyes as her heart wrenches, ‘Behold Mother, I make all things new’. From this tree comes life through death, gone is death from life.’ 

4th station 2

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A Family Perspective…

A major turning point in my own conversion was the first time I watched ‘The Passion of the Christ’ film. The bit that really got me was when Jesus met his mother on the road to Calvary. Mary is standing in a side street almost paralysed by grief, watching Jesus pass by. It is as if she is hesitating to go to Him because the reality of what is happening is too awful. Then suddenly He falls under the weight of the cross.

Mary has a flashback of when Jesus was a toddler and a time He fell and hurt Himself: she of course drops what she was doing immediately and runs to comfort her little boy telling Him “I am here”.

As soon as she has this memory, she forgets any sort of horror or fear of the crucifixion taking place and immediately runs to her Son. All she sees is her Son, her beautiful Son and she screams out to Him “I am here!” because that is all she can do.

At the time my own son was 2 years old and I related immediately to Mary as a parent. To imagine anything like this happening to my own son was too much to bear. I suddenly understood her helplessness, her grief and the haunting words spoken to her by Simeon 33 years previously “…and a sword shall pierce your own soul too…” (Luke 2:35)

When I viewed the Stations of the Cross through Mary’s eyes I began to see it from a new perspective – unconditional love of a parent. I asked myself – “What was Mary feeling? What if this was my child?” It brings home the fact of Jesus’ total humanity, as well as His divinity.

If you have not yet had the chance to visit your church and walk around the Stations of the Cross, please try to do so. I would also very much recommend watching ‘The Passion of the Christ’ – but be advised, it is the most moving, realistic depiction of the crucifixion I have ever seen and certainly not for kids. It is available on YouTube.

Thought for the week…  

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.” – Mother Teresa


Dear Jesus…

Help me walk along side my loved ones when they suffer.Help me be able to say “I am here” just like your Mother did.

Thank You, I love You Jesus. Amen.



Passion Sunday – Year C

“Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Gospel: Luke 22: 14–71, 23: 1-56,

1 Then the assembly rose as a body and brought Jesus before Pilate. 2 They began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man perverting our nation, forbidding us to pay taxes to the emperor, and saying that he himself is the Messiah, a king.” 3 Then Pilate asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” He answered, “You say so.” 4 Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no basis for an accusation against this man.” 5 But they were insistent and said, “He stirs up the people by teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee where he began even to this place.” 6 When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. 7 And when he learned that he was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him off to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time.

8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had been wanting to see him for a long time, because he had heard about him and was hoping to see him perform some sign. 9 He questioned him at some length, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. 11 Even Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him; then he put an elegant robe on him, and sent him back to Pilate. 12 That same day Herod and Pilate became friends with each other; before this they had been enemies.

13 Pilate then called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was perverting the people; and here I have examined him in your presence and have not found this man guilty of any of your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us. Indeed, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 I will therefore have him flogged and release him.” 17 18 Then they all shouted out together, “Away with this fellow! Release Barabbas for us!” 19 (This was a man who had been put in prison for an insurrection that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) 20 Pilate, wanting to release Jesus, addressed them again; 21 but they kept shouting, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no ground for the sentence of death; I will therefore have him flogged and then release him.”

23 But they kept urgently demanding with loud shouts that he should be crucified; and their voices prevailed. 24 So Pilate gave his verdict that their demand should be granted. 25 He released the man they asked for, the one who had been put in prison for insurrection and murder, and he handed Jesus over as they wished.

26 As they led him away, they seized a man, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming from the country, and they laid the cross on him, and made him carry it behind Jesus. 27 A great number of the people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. 28 But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29 For the days are surely coming when they will say, “Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.’ 30 Then they will begin to say to the mountains, “Fall on us’; and to the hills, “Cover us.’ 31 For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

32 Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him. 33 When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified Jesus there with the criminals, one on his right and one on his left. 34 [Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”] And they cast lots to divide his clothing. 35 And the people stood by, watching; but the leaders scoffed at him, saying, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is the Messiah of God, his chosen one!” 36 The soldiers also mocked him, coming up and offering him sour wine, 37 and saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!” 38 There was also an inscription over him, “This is the King of the Jews.” 39 One of the criminals who were hanged there kept deriding him and saying, “Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 He replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” 44 It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, 45 while the sun’s light failed; and the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, crying with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Having said this, he breathed his last.

47 When the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God and said, “Certainly this man was innocent.” 48 And when all the crowds who had gathered there for this spectacle saw what had taken place, they returned home, beating their breasts. 49 But all his acquaintances, including the women who had followed him from Galilee, stood at a distance, watching these things.

Gospel Summary

The chief priests and the scribes, unable to sentence Jesus to death them-selves, handed Him over to the Romans. Pilate could not find Jesus guilty of any crime and so to appease the angry crowd, he had Him flogged. But the worked-up crowd continued to shout for Jesus to be crucified. Eventually Pilate gave in – even though he knew he was condemning an innocent man to death.

Jesus was led away and given His cross to carry. When it became too much, the soldiers forced Simon of Cyrene to help Jesus carry the cross. Then they crucified Him. He was stripped, mocked and brutally murdered. And all the time He continued to beg His Father to forgive the people doing it to Him. He was recognised as innocent by the criminal hanging next to Him and by the Roman Soldier at the foot of the cross.

Then the sky grew dark, and at 3 o’clock Jesus shouted “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” Then Jesus died on the cross.

Relating the Gospel to our lives today.

If you have not yet had the chance to visit your church and walk around the Stations of the Cross, please try to do so. I would also very much recommend watching ‘The Passion of the Christ’ – but be advised, it is the most moving, realistic depiction of the crucifixion I have ever seen and certainly not for kids. I saw it first in my early twenties and it had a major impact on me. It is available on You Tube.

Holy Week is such a mixture of emotions – from the high of Jesus’ entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, to the washing of the disciple’s feet and the institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper, to the agony in the garden and finally Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and then the excitement and joy of the Resurrection. Quite frankly it is emotionally exhausting!

But don’t be afraid of this emotion. We have Mother Mary to guide us through this next week and show us what it truly means to love Jesus.

It is when we view the events of Holy Week through the eyes of His Mother that we can begin to understand that it is all about love. We have a God that loves us so much that He would rather send His only Son to die for our sins, rather than risk spending eternity without any one of us. Through Jesus’ crucifixion we are saved. Through His glorious Resurrection we are assured of eternal life! Thank You Jesus! Thank You for doing for me what I could not do for myself! Thank You for loving me so much!

  • Jesus died on the cross for me.
  • He has taken away my sins.
  • Through His resurrection, I am assured of eternal life.

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for dying on the cross for me. Thank You for taking away my sins. Thank You for doing the work I am not able to do for myself. Thank You for assuring me of eternal life through your Resurrection. You are the Son of God, You are the Light of the world, You are the Way the Truth and the Life.

I Love You Jesus, Amen.