Bill Grippo invites community to join him in participating in this year's Best Advent Ever from Matthew Kelly and Dynamic Catholic. You can watch a video about it and sign up to participate AT THIS SITE. Reflections start on Sunday, November 29.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Thursday, September 3, 2020
The Second Vatican Council reminds us that Mary is a member of the Church who “occupies a place in
the Church which is the highest after Christ and also closest to us.” (LG, #54) She is the first and the
greatest of all the Disciples of Christ.
Our Lady of the Assumption is the Patroness of the United States as well as the Patroness of the Diocese of Trenton. When Pat and I went on pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to Italy, Portugal, Spain and France, we saw many images of Mary’s Assumption. In Israel, we even visited a room reported to be the place of Our Lady’s “Dormition’ or sleep. Earliest Christians believed that Mary did not die, but went to sleep and was taken up to heaven, body and soul.
Romans 6:23 tells us “The gift of God is eternal life. The wages of sin is death.”
Genesis describes the creation of Adam and Eve in the state of grace. They were living in total relationship with their Creator, walking and talking with God. There was neither sickness, nor death until they succumbed to the temptation of Satan and ate the forbidden fruit. Immediately, they recognized their sin and God removed them from the Garden. Sickness and death were part of the penalty for their sins. God also promised to send a Redeemer to reconcile their descendants to Him.
All of humanity is born with original sin, often falling into sin throughout our lives and we have suffered the effects of both sickness and death. Our faith teaches us that at our death we are judged for the way we lived our lives. Our souls will be taken to heaven, purgatory or hell, while our bodies will remain in the grave until they join our souls at the final judgment.
However, “in anticipation that she was to bear the Son of God, Mary was preserved from the time of her conception from original sin….No sin would touch her, so that she would be a fitting and worthy vessel of the son of God.” (CCC, #491) Mary lived a life dedicated exclusively to Christ, her Son, and to his mission. We know from scripture that in life Mary suffered the pains of loss and hardships despite her life of holiness.
In her Assumption, Mary experienced immediately what we will experience eventually, a bodily
resurrection like Christ’s own. “The Immaculate Virgin…when the course of her earthly life was finished,
was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so
that she be more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of death.” (CCC, #966)
For centuries, this belief had been a beloved tradition of the faithful, but it hadn’t been defined by the Church as a revealed dogma until 1950, when Pope Pius XII declared Mary’s Assumption to be an official teaching of the Church. That declaration was the fruit of years of work as the Holy Spirit guided Church leaders and theologians to a deeper and clearer understanding of Mary’s role in the scriptures.
A dogma is an official document of the Catholic Church- In March 1948, during the Pontificate of Pope
Pius XII; a new ecumenical council was called. This council would be an extremely opportune time for
the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary. This followed the appearance of Our Lady in
Fatima starting on May 13, 1917. Our Lady told the children to recite the rosary and do penance in
reparation for the sins of the world.
To spread the message of Fatima throughout the world, Fr. Alonzo took a statue of Our Lady of Fatima from the Capelinha in Fatima on tour to Madrid and throughout Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In Catholic Spain, the “Miracle of the Doves” occurred. Wherever Our Lady’s statue appeared, it was surrounded by white doves hovering over it as an honor guard. Many miracles also occurred.
In Heaven, Mary is the Mediatrix and dispenser of graces. She has appeared in many places and at many times to ask us to repent and to pray the Rosary daily.
Many of our saints and leaders have had devotion to Our Lady and to her rosary. Pope Pius V asked the Catholic world to pray the rosary to intercede for us during the invasion of Europe by the Muslims in 1571. On October 7, the invading Muslim navy, which vastly outnumbered the Christian forces, was destroyed by a terrible storm. The few ships which survived returned home and the invasion ended. October 7 is celebrated as the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.
Saint Louis De Montfort was a champion of the rosary and one of the great Marian saints. He wrote many books about Our Blessed Mother, including The Secret of Mary, The Secret of the Rosary, and True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. He recommended recitation of the rosary to priests as a means of converting many souls.
St. Alphonsus Liguori had a love of the Virgin Mary from his youth, which he inherited from his mother. He gave up his law practice and laid down his sword at the feet of a statue of Mary. He no longer wanted to be a servant of the mundane, but a servant and knight of the Queen of Heaven.
Venerable Fulton J. Sheen was consecrated to the Blessed Mother at his birth. He had a deep love for Mary and dedicated his life to spreading her devotion and the Rosary. He wrote The World’s First Love: Mary, the Mother of God.
St. Teresa of Calcutta was called the Missionary of the Rosary. As a young girl, she made an annual pilgrimage with her mother to the Shrine of Our Lady of Cernagore. It made a deep impression on her heart and helped her to respond to her religious vocation.
St. John Paul II had a deep love of the Mother of God and was a champion of the rosary. He promoted the Sodality of the Rosary and the Legion of Mary. He visited many Marian Shrines. After he survived an attempted assassination, he brought the bullet, which was recovered, and placed it in the crown of the Statue of Our Lady of Fatima, saying she was the one who protected him. He also added the Luminous Mysteries
St. Maximillian Kolbe was a Polish Rosary priest who founded the movement called the Militia Immaculata and intended the rosary to be part of the daily spiritual practice of its members. He emphasized the importance of the Miraculous Medal and the Rosary. He founded a magazine called the Knight of the Immaculata. He is called The Martyr of Charity
Do you know other Titles by which Our Lady is known?
Saturday, August 22, 2020
Prayer: Benevolent Lord, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, your pilgrim people gathered here this night ask for courage, the courage to live out in our daily lives the faith we profess with our lips. Amen
Last October I was asked to give a talk on Our Blessed Mother, In May we were
blessed with two wonderful rollos on Our Lady by Fr. Ed and Ronnie Martella,
both of which quoted the sacred scriptures and the many ways in which Mary is
our model, our teacher, our spiritual guide and most of all and forever, our
It would seem that Cursillistas like to talk and to listen to talks about Mary. Saturday Morning Sabatina is dedicated to Our Lady on every Cursillo weekend. Non-Catholics just seem to wonder what all the fuss over Mary is about? Let’s meditate on that question for a moment.
This particular meditation is not an easy one. It involves the Supernatural reality of God and the spiritual realm beyond our reach but not beyond our knowledge. These are themes which our culture seems so preoccupied with; that of zombies, vampires and other creatures who have no basis in reality. But please be assured, this meditation involves very real supernatural creatures and takes place before the dawn of time. I would ask you to take a deep breath, slowly let it out and close your eyes and please keep them closed throughout and do not open them until I ask you to.
Let’s take this journey now, all of us together, above the clouds, to the place
where God dwells. Envision fire and
smoke; you hear the clashing of steel blades as swords are drawn and advanced
and you hold your hands over your ears to try and block the roar of a great
battle raging in the heavens. The scene
is difficult to fathom.
You blink several times to try to clear your eyes of the smoke and discern the scene that lies before you. At the center of this scene a tiny baby is lying in a manger on a bed of straw and creatures of unimaginable beauty are kneeling and worshiping this human child. There is a brilliance radiating from this infant that is impossible to explain or resist.
Picture yourself being drawn closer to this make-shift crib. You slowly make your way nearer to the child. You have seen many newborn babies in your lifetime 10 tiny little fingers and 10 tiny toes. Surely this child must be like one of them, yet, you know in your heart that he is not the same. This child is special. This child will one day deliver you from death.
Before you can reach the infant, the procession halts; your eyes are transfixed on one of the most singularly beautiful and imposing of all the heavenly hosts. This creature does not kneel in adoration but instead rises to his full stature and refuses to bow in adoration. He is also persuading others to refuse as well. He draws his sword against his fellow creatures and asserts his superiority in a loud voice: I will not bow. I will not serve! With this declaration,
The roar of battle suddenly cesses, the smoke clears, the die is cast….
Another Voice now fills the void, a Voice at once both irresistible and fierce. This Voice seems to penetrate to the depths of your very soul. It actually appears to come from within you and outside of you at the same time. With one declaration this utterance banishes the rebels in a flash and as they fall from heaven you hear these words spoken loudly, clearly and unmistakably:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, between your seed and hers, she will strike at your head while you strike at her heel.”
....and so the battle lines are drawn henceforth for all human ages.
this simple sentence: Such perfection
and economy in God’s words; even in that one single word “strike”
Pay close attention to who it was who struck the first lethal blow to end this fiery battle, “she will strike at your head; “She”, this young child barely a woman raised the Sword of the Spirit and quietly, almost inaudibly, yet containing all the power of heaven, overturned the darkness of pride with these few words: “behold the handmaid of the Lord”; (the servant of God) Mary “bowed”, Mary would “serve”. It was Mary’s humility which dealt a lethal blow against the enemy’s prideful words (I will not serve).
God’s humble handmaid was not finished yet but continued in battle.
Once again she raises the sword and advances on the power of darkness: ”be it done unto me according to your word; with complete faith and trust in God she slashed the power of evil and the light of heaven shone once more upon the earth.
You bow your head as finally, the death knell for God’s enemy and ours is sounded with these final precious Words: “and The Word was made Flesh and dwelled among us”
And so it was and so it is that the battle for Eternal happiness was won by a
young virgin in an obscure village, surely a victim in her time of sexism and
oppression, to whom God entrusted HIS only begotten Son. The seed of Mary who would finally strike at
the head of the evil one and deliver us from death to life everlasting. He came in relative anonymity.
As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be; He reveals Himself to those who seek Him, to those who dare to believe and trust and humble themselves just like Mary did.
You can open your eyes
Doesn’t it make sense that she to whom God entrusted His Son as “mother”, would be given to us as our mother as well? She is the one who cooperated with God in winning back our heritage as God’s children.
And so it is that Our Blessed Mother, down through history, has shown herself
as “mother” to us; interceding for us, holding back the Arm of God’s just
punishment for all the generations who have abandoned HIM time and again.
At Lourdes, Fatima, Knock, Medjugorje , and countless apparitions down through history, Mary, Our Mother stoops from her lofty home in heaven each and every time she hears the prayers of her children; for never was it known that anyone who fled to her protection, implored her help or sought her intercession was left unaided.
Health of the sick, refuge of sinners, Star of the Sea, Mystical Rose, Mother of Mercy, Mary, undoer of knots, and my personal favorite: Our Lady of Perpetual help. She has surely been of perpetual help to us her children since the moment Jesus gave her to us from the Cross.
On and on her fame, her love and our devotion to her grows. Down through the ages she remains ever faithful, always leading us to her Divine Son. Does It strike us as strange that each apparition bears the same message from heaven: turn your hearts back to God, Do not offend my son any longer for He is already greatly offended. Time and time again like a loving mother taking pity on her errant children.
As we gather now in a time of pandemic do these words mean anything to our
world? Surely they must; coming from the
lips of the Queen of Heaven, who as a young girl suited up with the armor of
the Lord and rode into battle wielding a blazing sword which struck down the
enemy of our souls and secured for us eternal happiness, if we will but follow her example and choose
If we will but adore and serve. As Aaron Neville pointed out, everybody serves somebody. Let us dear Cursillistas echo the words of Sacred Scripture: “Now is the appointed time”; Let us choose this day Who we will serve. Let us say with the prophet: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.
The title of this rollo is Our Lady in August because this month on the 15th we celebrated the high feast of the Assumption of Our Lady into heaven. She hopes to greet each of us there one day, her children safely home at last.
Yes, over the last several months and indeed the last many years as Cursillistas we have heard many rollos on Our Blessed Mother and yet there is still much more to be said about Mary and so now we open the floor for the echo of this rollo-- your echo. The echo of each one of us who stand as a witness to the story of our mother, Mary, and what she has meant to us-- to you in your lifetime. Let’s begin right now to sing of Mary, pure and sinless…..Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
This morning I had the
wonderful weekly opportunity to share with Al Martella and a regular group of
men who have been on a conference call weekly since the Pandemic began. It is truly enriching.
Today Al asked each of us to
share how we are coping with the pandemic personally! The responses were heartfelt, emotional,
personal and prayerful.
I was the last speaker, the
clean up “batter” so to speak.
I based my thoughts on the
Tripod (Piety, Study and Action)
My first step in coping with
this is to continue and strengthen my own prayer life… I attend 2 weekday
Masses and one on Sunday and made myself useful by assisting the Church team in
organizing the return to Church effort.
I start my day with morning prayer, and do a good amount of spiritual
reading. I try to go out of the house
and sit in a park, by the complex pool or outside of Dunkin Donuts (cannot give
up that first Cup!!) I am reading the
biography of John Paul 2! It is 1000
pages and I read it as spiritual reading and Study. His life is amazing, inspirational and gives
me strength and guidance! That first
step of Piety is an absolute in handling this pandemic for me personally.
The next step for me is the discipline and a study of my own physical and mental health. I have made a significant effort to improve my health at my Baby Boomer age. I made the commitment to lose some excess pounds and lost 10 to date. I have visited my physician for a check up and she was really happy with the results of the visit. I have committed along with my daily reading and spiritual growth to do some form of exercise “daily”, walking a measured distance or swimming and some light weight lifting. The benefit of exercise is extremely helpful for your mental and emotional state during this very stressful time in our lives. I find that if I watch too much TV, especially during the day it encourages depression to occur over this pandemic. Shut or limit the TV!! Use the sun that God gave us to energize yourself, the Vitamin D is significant in building up the immune system in your body and it is “free”!!
The final point I made in my
witness is Action! I take action with my
family, checking in with them and preparing meals for the more local
siblings! I find being present, social
distancing with a backyard picnic or just sitting around a fire pit are simple
ways to promote family life. I also find
that preparing and delivering a bowl of Italian meatballs lifts everyone’s
spirits very high.
I have also remained very active in my community without meeting with people in large groups. I attend zoom meetings, raise money for the food bank, continue to develop plans for a YMCA in my community and I keep my finger in the life of our school system. Reaching out to others in whatever way you can will take your thoughts off yourself and put your energy with others!
So let’s close, thanking God daily for all of our gifts and family. Let’s continue our daily prayer and study, while taking care of our health to the best of our ability!
DeColores and as Bishop Sheen would close: GOD LOVE YOU!!!!
Saturday, July 18, 2020
Tuesday, July 7, 2020
Some of you may recall that from December 2012 to December 2014, I underwent a series of medical issues that threatened to take me. I was homebound for much of that time with nursing care from my wife and visiting nurses. I spent weeks in the hospital. Many of you prayed for me and helped lift my burden. During those difficult times, I turned to God and had some of my closest moments to Christ. I knew I was not alone. My greatest concern was for my wife who had to take care of me and who worried about me. She needed our prayers as well.
For most of that time I was unable to attend Mass. As a daily communicant I missed being there and receiving the Eucharist. I watched on TV but it isn’t the same. For the past three months we all experienced the loss of Mass and communion. Somehow, it was worse for me this time than when I was sick. I know Christ is still present in our lives, but I longed so much to return to Mass and communion.
Our entire society has also changed during this pandemic. Uncertainty surrounds us. There are protests, violence, anxiety and fear. Some people are still out of work; some are still confined to their homes for fear of contracting the virus.
We would all agree we are living in very trying times. Uncertainty is all around us. We wear masks, and avoid crowds. We have changed many of our habits. Even here in Church, we are distanced from each other, and are warned to avoid congregating after Mass. It is as though we are living in a different world and we wonder if things will ever get back to what we called NORMAL.
Only one thing remains constant. Jesus is with us, guiding and protecting us. In the Gospel today He offers to help us carry our burdens and troubles. “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” When I think of a yoke, I remember the yoke borne by oxen and mules, heavy wooden objects placed on their shoulders. I shrink from taking something like that upon myself. But it is Christ’s yoke, and He promises to help bear OUR burdens. His yoke is easy, and He helps us carry our burdens. What a great deal He offers us!
As I was undergoing my surgeries and recoveries, I knew that Christ was helping me to bear them. Your prayers and the love and the care of my wife made Christ real and alive during that crisis.
Today, as I look around at the mess that the world is in, I remember what I went through in my illness and I recall what helped me get through it. I continue to trust in Christ and you can, too. God is in control and we, Catholic Christians can turn to Him in prayer and trust.
Last week, Vice–president Pence said, “Even when things don’t seem like they’re going the way we expected, they’re going the way [God] expected.” He continued, “If we will but hold fast to Him, we’ll see our way through these challenging times, we will restore our nation’s health, we will renew our freedom, and we will inspire people across this land with our witness of the love and compassion and strength that comes in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
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Saturday, May 16, 2020
What a joy it was to see all those who were able to join us on the Zoom call last evening for School of Leaders.
Each time we gather, no matter the medium, we are given a chance to learn and grow from each other. We open ourselves to what God has for us, wants to tell us and give us though our time with each other and the talks. Each talk touches on similar but different aspects of the theme for the time. And the Holy Spirit does what the Spirit does and brings the talks together.
But in addition to that is the chance for those in community to respond to the talks, ask questions, seek clarification, and deepen the discussion with their own experiences and resources that have discovered, and last night was no different.
Last night, the idea of praying our most well known prayers; The Our Father, The Hail Mary and others, using different words was presented. What a wonderful way to break open a prayer, to really reflect on what the prayer means. We also were told about The Chosen, the story of Jesus, told through the lives of those closest to Him. At this link you can see something of a preview of the show.
Thanks to Barbara Kittle, from the Diocese of Newark, for opening me up to these wonderful resources.
At the most recent Pennington ultreya, held by conference call, several of us shared different resources we’ve discovered or that have been recommended to us. As the question on the card for Piety asks: what spiritual aids have been of help to you? And we shared on how these resources have been spiritual aids to us. We were reminded that we are blessed to have so many options and chances to access that we can sometimes feel overwhelmed, but we need to discern which of the resources are meant for us, through which ones does God speak to us? Good advice to follow.
Kathy, Robert and Bob- great job, thanks again for the chance to connect, share and be with each other.
Peace, Ronnie Martella
All praise and glory are Yours, almighty Father:
You have given us Your Son Jesus to save us from sin.
We praise You for choosing Mary to be His Mother, for teaching her to believe Your message, for helping her accept Your holy will.
Strengthen us by Your Holy Spirit to be like Mary:
To ponder Your word in our hearts,
To obey Your will, To love Your Son, To sing Your praises every day.
Father, we praise You through Jesus Christ, Your Son in the love of Your Spirit, for ever and ever.
When Robert asked me to do a talk on Mary, two songs came immediately to mind: I kept them in the back of my mind while I looked at the Catechism and other sources to prepare the talk- but the two songs stayed with me, coming to the front of my mind and on to my lips at different times. I wondered why but I continued reading and preparing the paper….
The first source I went to was the Catechism. For me the Catechism is something that at first glance is kind of cut and dry but when I read and really take in what is there I discover so much more.
And the catechism tells us:
To be sure, there are as many paths
of prayer as there are persons who pray, but it is the same Spirit acting in
all and with all. It is in the communion
of the Holy Spirit that Christian prayer is prayer in the Church.