Category Archives: Spiritual Life

Anniversary of death of Pope John XXIII, the Mosul martyrs, and a Trappist

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In daily life most of occasionally remember the passing of a loved with a visit to the cemetery, saying a prayer for the peaceful repose of the soul, perhaps having a Mass offered for the loved. These are normal Catholic practices in remembering the dead. But when you are a pope similar things happen, but just like with loved ones, there comes a point that we just don’t actively remember anymore. Do we actively remember the dead? In my family, I think I am the only one to keep the memory of loved ones known, and try to beg God for mercy on the dead. This is a sad stage in our the evolving of our society.

Today happens to be anniversary of death that I am recalling, four people from widely different backgrounds and vocations:

  • Blessed Pope John XXIII‘s 50 years since his death
  • Aunt Helen, 2002
  • Dom Basil Pennington, OCSO, monk, abbot, and author, Spencer, MA, 2005
  • Father Raghed Ganni and 3 subdeacons killed in Mosul, Iraq, 2007
John XXIII, was the supreme pontiff less than 5 years, was the smiling pope who called the Second Vatican Council, Aunt Helen was a wife and mother, Dom Basil was a Trappist monk of St Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, MA who was a prolific writer on the spiritual life and on Cistercian life, and Father Raghed Ganni and the subdeacons we gunned down for being Christian in a context of Islamic persecution. Of note, pilgrims from Blessed John’s native region in Italy will be at Mass today and meet with Pope Francis. It is a good thing to remember our loved ones. They still are a part of our lives; they make up our DNA.
Let’s offer a prayer for all these people asking God the Father of Mercies to be gentle and loving. But let’s ask these people to ask God to bestow mercy upon us.

Order of Malta in Lourdes, France –a pilgrimage with the sick

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The 55th International Pilgrimage of the Order of Malta Lourdes, France has finished. It is reported that 6,500 people from 35 different countries –members of the Order of Malta, volunteers and pilgrims– went to take care of 1,300 who live with illness as part of their daily life. The American Association has participated in the Annual Order of Malta Pilgrimage to Lourdes since 1986.

The official title of the Order of Malta is The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta – founded in Jerusalem on 15 February 1113 with a bulla from Pope Paschal II – is a sovereign subject of international law and a lay religious order of the Catholic Church. Matthew Festing is the 79th leader of the Order. The Order maintains bilateral diplomatic relations with more than 100 States, 18 official representations and permanent observer status at the United Nations, the European Union and numerous international organizations. 

The Order of Malta is active in 120 countries, with 12 Grand Priories and Sub-Priories and 47 national Associations, as well as numerous hospitals, medical centers, day-care centers, first-aid corps and specialist foundations. The American Association is headquartered in New York City, and founded in 1927.

I have great affection for the Order of Malta, their history and the work they do for the faith and the sick. Each year people seek divine help through a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes to pray, to go into the healing baths and to enjoy the friendship of others living with illness. The witness of these people, the healthy and the ill, is a tremendous boost to my own struggles in life. Friends of mine in the Order give good example of what it means to live the Beatitudes and the Works of Mercy, spiritual and corporal.

The American Association of the Order of Malta, like their counterparts in other parts of the world, take time for their own conversion, learning the Catholic faith, helping the ill, bringing Holy Communion to the hospitals, prison ministry, working their parishes, and healthcare work in other countries like Haiti.

Our Lady of Philermo, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.

Blessed Gerard Tongue, pray for us.

Making a home with God

‘My Father and I will come to him’ – that is to say, to the holy of heart – says the Son of God, ‘and we will make our home with him.’ It seems to me that when the psalmist said to God: ‘You make your dwelling in the holy place, you who are Israel’s praise’, he had no other heaven in mind than the hearts of the saints. The Apostle Paul expresses it quite clearly: ‘Christ lives in our hearts through faith’, he tells us. Surely it is no wonder that the Lord Jesus gladly makes his home in such a heaven because, unlike the other heavens, he did not bring it into existence by a mere word of command. He descended into the arena to win it; he laid down his life to redeem it. And so after the battle was won he solemnly declared: ‘This is my resting place for ever and ever; here I have chosen to dwell.’ Blessed indeed is the soul to whom the Lord says: ‘Come, my chosen one, I will set up my throne in you.’


Saint Bernard of Clairvaux

Without perseverance no one can please God, St Catherine of Siena taught

Who we read impacts the way we live. Catherine of Siena, whom the Catholic Church honors today, has much to say to the modern person. In one of her letters we read the following, which ought to bolster our approach in our daily work.


To Sano Di Maco and All Her Other Sons in Siena: In the Name of Jesus Christ crucified and of sweet Mary:


Dearest sons in Christ sweet Jesus: I Catherine, servant and slave of the servants of Jesus Christ, write to you in His precious Blood: with desire to see you strong and persevering till the end of your life. For I consider that without perseverance no one can please God, or receive the crown of reward. He who perseveres is always strong, and fortitude makes him persevere.

Pray like a child

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“Pray simply like a child, and God will hear your prayer”

the Elder Siluan

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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