We go through each day replenishing our bodies with food and drink, being sure to get in at least three meals a day. What many have failed to do, is replenish the soul. Our bodies are temporary and no matter how much we exercise, eat, diet and make them over, they will be dust. Our soul is eternal and lives on forever. Which do you think is the priority?
Please join us as we journey on the path of salvation. St. Thomas the Apostle offers many spiritual opportunities for you to deepen your walk and knowledge of Jesus. We will offer a different spiritual ministry each month that may speak to your heart. If one or more grabs your attention, please give it a chance by trying it. The Holy Spirit speaks to us continuously and by many different paths. It could be through a friend, enemy, holy Scripture, a spiritual book or one of these ministries. Begin now by asking God to give you guidance each day to draw closer to Him and discerning His holy Will for your life.
Since the 16th century Catholic piety has assigned entire months to special devotions. The month of June is set apart for devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. “From among all the proofs of the infinite goodness of our Savior none stands out more prominently than the fact that, as the love of the faithful grew cold. He, Divine Love Itself, gave Himself to us to be honored by a very special devotion and that the rich treasury of the church was thrown wide open in the interests of that devotion.” These words of Pope Pius XI refer to the Sacred Heart Devotion, which in its present form dates from the revelations given to Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque in 1673-75.
The devotion consists in the divine worship of the human heart of Christ, which is united to His divinity and which is a symbol of His love for us. The aim of the devotion is to make our Lord king over our hearts by prompting them to return love to Him (especially through an act of consecration by which we offer to the Heart of Jesus both ourselves and all that belongs to us) and to make reparation for our ingratitude to God.
INVOCATION– O Heart of love, I put all my trust in Thee; for I fear all things from my own weakness, but I hope for all things from Thy goodness. (Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque)
PRAYER TO THE SACRED HEART
O Sacred Heart of Jesus, living and quickening source of eternal life, infinite treasure of the Divinity, and burning furnace of divine love. Thou aret my refuge and my sanctuary, O my amiable Savior. Consume my heart with that burning fire with which Thine is ever inflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Thy love, and let my heart be so united with Thine, that our wills may be one, and mine in all things be conformed to Thine. May Thy divine will be equally the standard and rule of all my desires and of all my actions. Amen (Saint Gertrude)
Holy Souls in Purgatory
The Church commemorates all her faithful children who have departed from this life, but have not yet attained the joys of heaven. St. Paul warns us that we must not be ignorant concerning the dead, nor sorrowful, “even as others who have no hope … For the Lord Himself shall come down from heaven … and the dead who are in Christ shall rise.
The Church has always taught us to pray for those who have gone into eternity. Even in the Old Testament prayers and alms were offered for the souls of the dead by those who thought “well and religiously concerning the resurrection.” It was believed that “they who had fallen asleep with godliness had great grace laid up for them” and that “it is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” We know that a defiled soul cannot enter into heaven.
Excerpted from Liturgical Meditations, The Sisters of St. Dominic
Duration of Purgatory
Purgatory is not eternal. Its duration varies according to the sentence pronounced at each particular judgment. It may be prolonged for centuries in the case of the more guilty souls, or of those who, being excluded from the Catholic communion, are deprived of the suffrages of the Church, although by the divine mercy they have escaped hell. But the end of the world, which will be also the end of time, will close for ever the place of temporary expiation. God will know how to reconcile His justice and His goodness in the purification of the last members of the human race, and to supply by the intensity of the expiatory suffering what may be wanting in duration. But, whereas a favourable sentence at the particular judgment admits of eternal beatitude being suspended and postponed, and leaves the bodies of the elect to the same fate as those of the reprobate; at the universal judgment, every sentence, whether for heaven or for hell, will be absolute, and will be executed immediately and completely.
By the practice of Indulgences, the Church places at the charitable disposal of the faithful the inexhaustible treasure accumulated, from age to age, by the superabundant satisfactions of the saints, added to those of the martyrs, and united to those of our Blessed Lady and the infinite residue of our Lord’s sufferings. These remissions of punishment she grants to the living by her own direct power; but she nearly always approves of and permits their application to the dead by way of suffrage, that is to say, in the manner in which, as we have seen, each of the faithful may offer to God who accepts it, for another, the suffrage or succour of his own satisfactions.
— The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
A partial indulgence can be obtained by devoutly visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed, even if the prayer is only mental. One can gain a plenary indulgence visiting a cemetery each day between November 1 and November 8. These indulgences are applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory.
A plenary indulgence, again applicable only to the Souls in Purgatory, is also granted when the faithful piously visit a church or a public oratory on November 2. In visiting the church or oratory, it is required, that one Our Father and the Creed be recited.
A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed. This is a good prayer to recite especially during the month of November:
Eternal rest grant to them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
OUR MOTHER OF EUCHARIST AND GRACE
A Church Of Alleged Marvels
One is always a bit wary of what seems too dramatic or “magical” and this is the case, perhaps, with holy gold or glitter or those rose petals that suddenly have very detailed holy images on them. The latter is a phenomenon particularly prevalent in the Philippines, where the first major report of such marvels — rose petals falling from the sky, with images of Jesus, Mary, the Holy Family, the Crucifixion on them — occurred at an apparition site, alternately approved and rejected by the Church, at Lipa.
For this reason, we’ve kept a dutiful distance from many such reports.
In many parts of the world or at least the West, those involved in devotional and charismatic practices have asserted that at times a strange “glitter” falls, like decorative manna. This is a particularly difficult phenomenon to accept in the way of its strangeness and glitziness, although it was reported during the apparitions at Fatima, Portugal, during 1917 in an ephemeral form which soon vanished, leaving no material. Some has been analyzed [see link to story at the bottom] and found to be plastic; others charge that it smacks of alchemy.
But what about when it’s a very credible and devout priest detailing the events for you?
And what do you do when miracles appear to be erupting in your parish?
If you’re Father Francis Groarke, pastor of Old St. Thomas in Glenn Mills, Pennsylvania, about forty miles from Philadelphia — the oldest church in that state, and one of the largest (8,800 families) — you accept the graces and fruits and, using the sacraments, build around them.
Father Groarke is not a man who has any doubt that what has been occurring is supernatural.
A year ago last August, the parish was visited by one Carmelo Villanueva Cortez of the Philippines, who conducted a service for 1,100 after Mass.
“He had an apparition of the Virgin Mary in 1991 and she told him to travel the world with the petals,” explains the priest. Cortez, of course, is not without controversies. Some believe he presses religious medals into blank rose petals before handing them out — thereby causing the “miraculous” imprint.
“We bought ten dozen roses and there were 1,100 people in church,” the pastor says. “There were three bottles of water and Carmelo told me and two deacons to drink it. Then he put it on a gauze and it changed colors and there was an aroma like roses. We took the two dozen roses and broke them into petals and put them in big bowl and took water and mixed it with the petals and then he put the petals under the necks of everyone. It took two-and-a-half hours. When held up, there were images: the Last Supper, Padre Pio, St. Michael, amazing.”
Most remarkably, Father says some of the petals transmuted into Communion bread. Manna! “I watched it do this in front of my eyes,” says Father Groarke. “There were four petals in my hand and before my eyes they became Communion hosts. I tasted it and it tasted just like a host.” He repeats:
“Before my eyes they changed.”
Tough to believe. Listening to Father Groarke, hard to disbelieve.
Soon, even more extraordinary phenomena reportedly occurred.
The week after Carmelo’s visit, Father Frank visited with the local family that had hosted the Filipino mystic and has a “holy room” in their house, filled with statues that allegedly began to exude after encountering Carmelo years before. As the priest celebrated Mass with about fifteen people, “the whole place started smelling like roses,” Father Groarke was kind enough to inform us, “and all the statues were covered with gold glitter. They gave me a statue of a sleeping Saint Joseph and it was oozing perfumed oil and I brought it home and put it behind [a statue of] the Blessed Mother in church.”
The Blessed Mother — the Virgin of Grace and the Eucharist — was going to bless the church in a special way for a year, said the family, presenting it to him.
The Virgin exhibited what Saint Joseph had: a sort of “gold dust” that at times all but completely covered her, a glitter that comes and goes. Similar phenomena — known in Spanish-speaking countries as “escarchas” — has been reported elsewhere, including the Church-approved apparition site of Betania in Venezuela, where it was seen, among other places, on the face of mystic Maria Esperanza. At the Pennsylvania church, it “comes and goes, sometimes more than others,” testifies the priest.
When the church ordered four dozen roses [from Amazon, roses that came wrapped up from China], the smell of them immediately permeated the church — all over, says Father Groarke, with an implausible pervasiveness. “The virgin is just letting you know she is around,” remarks the priest.
“When, a year ago Christmas, a man from the parish gave father a larger version of the sleeping Saint Joseph, and it was brought to the “holy house,” it too was soon “completely covered with gold dust.
“The Virgin was supposed to go back and I also brought a statue of Saint Michael and when we returned, it too was covered with gold dust and the body was exuding oil loaded with salt,” says the priest, clearly still astounded by the events. “This is how God exorcises things,” he says. Does the Lord want that ritual brought back? An estimated twenty pounds of salt now have been blessed. “We used to use salt under baby’s tongue during baptism,” recalls the pastor.
The emphasis, with all the alleged miracles, is not an obsession with the phenomena but devotion, notes the priest — Carmelo’s message and mission.
Without those, marvels are fleeting wonders.
The church has kept the statue of Mary and, says Father Groarke, “This is more crazy: we’ve had four miraculous cures of cancerous tumors in seven months: brain, lung, two in the breast. They’re gone. The people who were healed attributed it the time they spent here.”
“One of the petals that I got last summer was a petal of Our Lady of Fatima, plain as day; the next day it became a monstrance. It’s all kind of unfolding. I don’t understand how all this stuff works. I just see the fruit of what results.”
“Here’s a further manifestation,” adds Father Groarke. “One of my parishioners is from Wilkes-Barre and went up to visit family graves for November and on one of the graves is a statue of the Virgin Mary on a pedestal with four columns around it.
“The statue was completely covered with gold dust.”
How could Carmelo cause all the glitter, all the vulnerary oil, that salt, after he had left? And that glitter on a statue 120 miles away?
Quite a lot going on, in this parish that was established in 1729 — half a century before the Declaration of Independence! (A message here also?)
This is a church that is alive with the Spirit. There are actually two churches in the parish, with six Masses on Sunday. The acronym for the main lesson is what they call “CARE”: Confession, Adoration, Rosary, Eucharist. “The bigger miracle is the people who have come back to the church,” he says.
“I have been a priest for 45 years and I’ve never been closer to the Lord,” says Father Groarke.
Prayer: Jesus, rearrange my priorities. Help me to live a little bit more like you each day. Help me to trust in Your Divine Providence by freely and generously giving to those in need and supporting my parish.
The Precepts of the Church
- You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
We must “sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord” (Sunday), as well as the principal feast days, known as Catholic holy days of obligation. This requires attending Mass, “and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.”
- You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
We must prepare for the Eucharist by means of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). This sacrament “continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.”
- You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
This “guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.”
- You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
“The fourth precept ensures the times of ascesis and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.” See below for more about fasting & abstinence.
- You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
“The fifth precept means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.”
Note that these precepts of the Catholic Church are required, unless you have a legitimate reason for not meeting them. For example:
- If you are sick, tending to a sick child, or camping in the wilderness on Sunday and cannot get to Mass, it is not a grave violation to miss Mass that day.
- Children, the elderly, and pregnant or nursing women do not have to fast on normal fast days (Ash Wednesday and Good Friday).