The Catholic Feast of The Virgin Mary

Today Catholics celebrate the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, as decreed by Pope Francis. Viva la Virgen!

As Bishop Biron puts it, “if Mary is the one through whom Christ was born, and the Church is Christ’s Mystical Body, then she must be the Mother of the Church.”

Pope Francis’ visit to Romania

As he continues efforts to bolster ties between Orthodox Christians and Catholics in Eastern Europe, Pope Francis arrived in Bucharest on Friday, the 31st of May 2019. It is the start of a three-day pilgrimage to majority-Orthodox Romania — the first papal visit since John Paul II in 1999.

After having been welcomed at Otopeni Airport by the country’s president, Klaus Iohannis, the Pope was driven through the capital where crowds lined the streets to see his motorcade.

Pope Francis will meet the patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church during his visit to the country, where Catholics are a minority.

During his trip, Pope Francis will celebrate mass at country’s most famous Marian shrine, Sumuleu Ciuc, in Eastern Transylvania and is scheduled to beatify seven Greek-Catholic bishops who were martyred during communist rule, when Catholics were brutally persecuted.

He will also meet the patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the latest of his foreign trips to Christian countries where Catholics are a minority.

“I’m coming to you to walk together,” Francis said in a video message released on the eve of his visit.

Read more about it here and here.

Catholic IQ test

I stumbled upon a very interesting website where people can take a rather long quiz to test their Bible knowledge. The site is:

The quiz contains a lot of questions related to the Bible and Christianity (Catholic Christianity, to be more precise).

If you have some free time, I invite you to check it out and to see how many of the questions you can get right.

Blessed Easter to Catholics and Evangelicals

As Catholics and Evangelicals celebrate Easter today, I want to wish them a blessed Easter Day! Khristós Anésti! Christ has risen!

I also want to invite everyone to pray for the people in Sri Lanka, after several terrorist attacks at 3 SriLankan churches & 3 luxury hotels killed over 185 people and wounded more than 400. May the Lord comfort those suffering. Those who have been killed, eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord. Jesus has risen! May they find strength in Him on this most holy day. We ask this in Jesus’ name.

Bishop Barron – about pain

As Catholics celebrate Good Friday, I invite you to read a very interesting article about the metaphysics of pain, written by Bishop Robert Barron. I will quote this part, which has really caught my attention through its profoundness:

“Once we understand that God’s love is more powerful than suffering, we have lost, at least in principle, the motivation to sin.”

Let me know your opinions about the points brought into discussion by Bishop Barron in the article.

Roman Catholic priest converts to Orthodoxy

A roman Catholic priest converting to Orthodoxy. You don’t see this often. Former Roman-Catholic priest, father Constantine, converted to Orthodox Christianity in 2014. He was converted by his grace archbishop of St. Petersburg in Chapel of Orthodox Academy of St. Petersburg. Father Constantine later became a monk and now serves the Orthodox Church as a monk.

Do you think he did the right thing? Express your opinions in the comments section below.

Bishop Fulton J. Sheen – Nice people

I have just come across this video in which Bishop Fulton J. Sheen talks about the difference between people who are considered “nice” and those who are considered “awful”. I was not familiar with Bishop Sheen before, and the video randomly appeared on my YouTube feed, but I must say that I intend to research more about his work because I was really impressed with his preaching style.

I love how he incorporates humor in his speeches and how he takes long pauses to stress certain important ideas when he talks. His mannerisms are also quite fascinating. I definitely recommend you check out this video and let me know what you think about it and about Bishop Fulton J. Sheen in general.

(Great) Lent 2019

Lent is the annual six-week period of Christian observance that precedes Easter. The dates of Lent are defined by the date of Easter, which is a movable feast, meaning that it falls on a different date each year. From its start on Ash Wednesday until its conclusion on Easter Sunday, Lent has been a traditional time for fasting (or giving something up) or abstinence. Its observance (although not its liturgical period, as Sundays are not considered fasting days and are therefore not counted) lasts for 40 days. In a way, it is thought that they mirror the 40 days that Jesus spent fasting in the wilderness before starting his ministry. On a deeper level, the number “40” can also be seen to mirror the 40 hours that Jesus spent in the tomb prior to His resurrection.

A penitential period, Lent involves the dual disciplines of abstinence and fasting. During Lent many Christians commit to fasting or to giving up certain foods, habits or luxuries (the money saved being often donated afterwards to charity). This is done both as a form of penitence and as a spiritual tool to tame the body and ‘sharpen the spirit’ for prayer, reflection and contemplation in preparation for the celebration of Easter.

The Lenten Fast (which is the period that most people consider to be ‘Lent’) starts on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Saturday (not to be confused with Easter Saturday, the Saturday after Easter). This is a period of 46 days. However, the six Sundays within the period are not fast days (Sundays are always feast days in the Christian calendar) and therefore not counted in the 40 days of Lent.

The liturgical period of Lent also begins on Ash Wednesday, however it ends on the evening of Holy Thursday (Maundy Thursday). In addition, Palm Sunday (or alternatively the day before Palm Sunday) is sometimes considered to be the last day of Lent. This is incorrect and based on a misunderstanding about the liturgical periods of Lent and Holy Week. They are not exclusive of each other, and Lent in fact continues into Holy Week (see above), meaning that the liturgical season of Lent ends on Holy Thursday.

The color most associated with Lent, purple (during this period purple church vestments are used) is symbolic in two ways: it is the traditional color of mourning (recalling Jesus’ death) and also symbolic of royalty (celebrating Christ’s coming as King).

In Eastern Orthodox Christianity Lent is called ‘Great Lent’ and is the most important fasting period of the year, in preparation for the most important celebration of the year, Pascha (Orthodox Easter Sunday). As in Western Christianity, the period of Lent differs in its dates from year to year, with the dates defined by the date of Pascha, which is a moveable feast. Great Lent begins on Clean Monday (the beginning of the 7th week before Pascha) and runs for 40 days (including Sundays) until Lazarus Saturday (the day before Palm Sunday). Fasting continues until the morning of Pascha.

Lent 2019 starts on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 and ends on Saturday, April 20th 2019 for Roman-Catholics, and on Monday, March 11, 2019 and ends on April 27th 2019 for Eastern-Orthodox.

Further reading: Lent on Calendarpedia and Wikipedia.

The Confession – Korean short film

“The Confession” is a Korean Christian short film, directed by John La Raw from Myanmar. You can watch it on YouTube for free, and I’ll embed the video below:

The film was dedicated to “The Year of Mercy” and received five International film festival awards so far, and nominated in various International film festivals.

If you haven’t watched it, I invite you to do so and share your opinion about it in the comments section below or in the video’s comments section on YouTube.

To summarize the plot of the movie (spoilers ahead): “The Confession” tells the story of a young priest who listens as an elderly man confesses to the sin of involuntary manslaughter he committed twenty years ago. The elderly man is riddled with guilt and visibly pained by the choice he made to flee the scene and avoid the police after having hit a man with his car while returning home from a party where he had consumed alcohol. When asked why he decided to confess this sin this late, the elderly man states that he has end-stage cancer and doesn’t have much time left to live. As the details of the man’s crime continue to unfold, the priest suddenly realizes that he has a very personal connection to the story: the victim was his father and he, the priest, had witnessed his father’s death from the sidewalk. The priest recalls through several flashbacks how he had cried over his father body and had pleaded in vain for someone to help his father while the drunk driver never stopped to take his father to the hospital. Enraged, the priest confronts the elderly penitent man and when the latter collapses because of his poor health condition, the priest helps him take a seat in the church and tells him to rest while he goes to pray. Kneeling before the cross of Jesus Christ, the priest says The Lord’s Prayer and cries. He then returns to the elderly man and tells him that he forgives him, that he offers him absolution of his sin. When the elderly man retorts, stating that he doesn’t deserve his forgiveness, the priest tells him that he should not be so hard on himself and that his (the priest’s) father had not died in that accident, but rather he was taken to the hospital by someone else and he had survived. Relieved by the thought that he is not a murderer, the man rejoices and offers to pay back for all the compensations to the priest’s father, but the priest informs him that his father had recently died and advises the elderly man to give money to charitable causes, a thing that the elderly man agrees to do. The next scene shows the priest returning home and taking his father’s photo as tears fill his eyes. He addresses his father’s photo and asks for his forgiveness because he had lied to the elderly penitent man about the fact that he (the priest’s father) had survived the accident.

What to do to avoid Purgatory

Purgatory is a Catholic doctrine that the Eastern Orthodox, the Evangelical and the other Christian subgroups reject. According to the Catholic Church, “purgatory” is the name given to the final purification of all who die in God’s grace and friendship without having been perfectly purified.

While it is not uncommon for purgatory to be pictured, in popular imagination, as a place rather than a process of purification, the idea of purgatory being a physical place is not in accordance with the Church’s doctrine. Fire, also present in the description of purgatory in secular works of fiction, is not part of the Catholic Church’s doctrine.

The purgatory of Catholic doctrine

At the Second Council of Lyon in 1274, the Catholic Church defined, for the first time, its teaching on purgatory, in two points:

  1. some souls are purified after death;
  2. such souls benefit from the prayers and pious duties that the living do for them.

The Council declared:

[I]f they die truly repentant in charity before they have made satisfaction by worthy fruits of penance for (sins) committed and omitted, their souls are cleansed after death by purgatorical or purifying punishments, as Brother John has explained to us. And to relieve punishments of this kind, the offerings of the living faithful are of advantage to these, namely, the sacrifices of Masses, prayers, alms, and other duties of piety, which have customarily been performed by the faithful for the other faithful according to the regulations of the Church.

A century and a half later, the Council of Florence rephrased the two points, again rejecting certain elements of the purgatory of popular imagination, in particular fire and place, against which representatives of th Orthodox Church spoke at the council:

[The Council] has likewise defined, that, if those truly penitent have departed in the love of God, before they have made satisfaction by the worthy fruits of penance for sins of commission and omission, the souls of these are cleansed after death by purgatorial punishments; and so that they may be released from punishments of this kind, the suffrages of the living faithful are of advantage to them, namely, the sacrifices of Masses, prayers, and almsgiving, and other works of piety, which are customarily performed by the faithful for other faithful according to the institutions of the Church.

The avoidance of speculations and non-essential questions was highly recommended at the Council of Trent, on the 4th of December 1563, when the same two points were repeated:

Since the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Spirit, in conformity with the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers in sacred councils, and very recently in this ecumenical Synod, has taught that there is a purgatory, and that the souls detained there are assisted by the suffrages of the faithful, and especially by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar, the holy Synod commands the bishops that they insist that the sound doctrine of purgatory, which has been transmitted by the holy Fathers and holy Councils, be believed by the faithful of Christ, be maintained, taught, and everywhere preached.
Let the more difficult and subtle “questions”, however, and those which do not make for “edification” (cf. 1Tm 1,4), and from which there is very often no increase in piety, be excluded from popular discourses to uneducated people. Likewise, let them not permit uncertain matters, or those that have the appearance of falsehood, to be brought out and discussed publicly. Those matters on the contrary, which tend to a certain curiosity or superstition, or that savor of filthy lucre, let them prohibit as scandals and stumbling blocks to the faithful.

Mother Angelica’s advice on how to avoid purgatory

In an episode of her famous TV shows on EWTN, aired on the 1st of August 2000, Mother Angelica replied to one of her callers, who asked her if she could provide some advice on how to avoid purgatory.

I have found her answer to be remarkably beautiful and inspiring and I would like to share it with you, and to ask you to watch the video in question (embedded below) and meditate on her words for a bit. Pray to God for discernment and guidance, so that you may always do His Will and, subsequently, follow the narrow path and enter through the narrow gate.

In Mother Angelica’s opinion, skipping purgatory and going straight to Heaven should be easy as long as we do the Will of God in the present moment. The past is dead (it does not exist anymore) and the future – unborn. But we are now, and we should strive to do our duties in this life every single moment according to God’s Will.

How can we know God’s Will? Well, that’s an issue for another article. 🙂 Feel free to share your opinions about the video and about Purgatory in the comments section below or in the comments section of the YouTube video. God bless you!