Holy Spirit, Come

Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan +J.M.J.

 Invoking the Holy Spirit—the Third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity—is to be a constant exercise of love and adoration on the part of all Christians. Our genuine attention to the Consoler is to lead to imitation of Him and even to our abandonment to Him and all that He desires.

Pentecost Sunday highlights our desperate need for the Paraclete—a pressing need that we have every moment of each day.

The saintly Father Dolindo Ruotolo (1882-1970), a member of the Third Order Regular Franciscan Congregation, was known for his unabashed affection for, and obedience to, the Holy Spirit.

At the end of his excellent work entitled “Vieni, O Spirito Santo!” (“Come, O Holy Spirit”) is found some Prayers in which the incredible favors of the Holy Spirit are requested.

These Prayers are short but intense and are appropriate for daily use. Here are a few of them.


O Holy Spirit, sweet Guest of my soul, remain with me and assist me so that I may remain always with You.


Eternal Divine Spirit, I offer You all the prayers of the Virgin Mary and of the Apostles gathered in the Cenacle, and to those I unite all my prayers, begging You to come quickly to renew the face of the earth.

For the Gift of Tears

Almighty and most merciful God, Who made a fountain of water gush forth from the rock to quench the thirst of Your People, obtain from the hardness of our hearts the tears of compunction, so that we may cry on account of our sins and merit to obtain their remission through Your Mercy. Mercifully infuse into our hearts, Lord God, the grace of the Holy Spirit, which helps cancel—through our cries and tears—the stains of our sins, and obtains for us from Your generosity the effect of our desired pardon. Through Jesus our Lord. Amen.

To Expel Impure Thoughts

Almighty and most merciful God, hear favorably our prayers, and free our hearts from the temptations of impure thoughts, so that we may merit to become a worthy dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Deign, Lord, to purify our souls from impure thoughts, to guard them intact, and to illuminate them with the grace of the Holy Spirit. You Who enlighten every man who comes into this world, alas! Enlighten our hearts with the splendor of Your grace, so that we may always think of those things that are worthy and acceptable to Your majesty, and love You sincerely. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

No disciple of Christ worthy of the name would deny that the Holy Spirit is to be our sure Refuge and Guide. No authentic friend of Jesus would argue that presently in our world, the calming presence of the Counselor is recognized and adhered to as it should be.

We sadly but readily admit that the Holy Spirit and His wise wishes are not held in the required esteem. Obstacles have been built that stand in the way of His renewing the earth. Yes, He can surely overcome those hurdles. But often His approach is that He wants us to do what we can to break through those barriers so that His gentle and persuasive influence may be felt.

Therefore, our hearts must first be converted if there is any chance that the world will be. Our closeness and submission to the Holy Spirit paves the way for His further work in our society.

Our prayer to the Holy Spirit is simple: Come, Holy Spirit . . . Holy Spirit, come . . . transform our hearts so that we may join in Your labor to renew the face of the earth.

Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, pray for us!


The Ascension of Our Risen Lord Jesus Christ

Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan J.M.J.

 About 1,600 years ago, Saint Augustine of Hippo (354-430) captured well the essence of the Solemnity of the Ascension by asserting: “Today our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven; let our hearts ascend with Him.”

Believers in the Savior especially focus this week on the Risen Christ Who is seated at the right hand of His Father, interceding for His Chaste Bride, the Church. Saint Augustine, the “Doctor of Grace,” boldly contends: “For just as He remained with us even after His ascension, so we too are already in Heaven with Him, even though what is promised us has not yet been fulfilled in our bodies.”

How do we remain with Christ, despite suffering in this “valley of tears?” Again, the author of the Confessions weighs in with his inimitable insight, borne of divine grace and nourished by frequent prayer, penance and study: “He is here with us by His divinity, His power and His love. We cannot be in Heaven, as He is on earth, by divinity, but in Him, we can be there by love.”

Authentic charity, which according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church “upholds and purifies our human ability to love, and raises it to the supernatural perfection of divine love” (#1827), empowers us to remain always with Jesus, the Source of charity. Although we do not see Him with physical sight as did the Twelve, we do see Him with the eyes of faith. Charity is the bond that unites us to the Redeemer.

The fact that Jesus ascended to His Father does not mean that we have been abandoned. As Saint Augustine argues: “He did not leave Heaven when He came down to us; nor did He withdraw from us when He went up again into Heaven.”

What this Bishop and Doctor of the Church writes must be repeated. We are already in Heaven and Christ is still on earth! This amazing truth is filled with vital ramifications for all Christians.

The God-Man, particularly by virtue of the Most Holy Eucharist, is now as present on earth as He ever was. Through the theological virtue of charity, He remains with His friends and reminds us that by sanctifying grace we are already at the Almighty’s heavenly throne. With all hyperbole placed aside we can lay claim now to our true home in the Kingdom of God.

The challenge for each disciple is to live with his eyes fixed both on Christ and on Heaven, realizing that one will never be complete until he enjoys everlasting life intimately with the Lord of Glory in Paradise.

As the Church commemorates the Ascension, she remembers that Jesus is with His people now on earth, while His brothers and sisters, thanks to charity, are with Him in Heaven. Saint Augustine benefited from this wisdom. His life was bettered because he recognized Christ here and knew that he himself was joined with Jesus around Heaven’s banquet table.

We are spiritually enriched when we notice the living Jesus beside us on earth and recall that we are with Him in Heaven. The mystery of Christ’s Ascension is experienced by us when we are filled with charity, the legacy which the Master has left to His children.


The Conversion of Charles Colson

Posted by Dr. Martin Albl:

Some thoughts on the death of Charles Colson, an evangelical Christian who was also a collaborator with Catholics such as Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, the founder of the journal First Things.

“Pride is the complete anti-God state of mind.”

These words, from C. S. Lewis’ classic Mere Christianity, had struck a nerve in Chuck Colson, the former trusted aide to President Nixon who died this past month at age 80.

As Nixon’s loyal confidante, Colson had wielded great power and influence. Yet even after Nixon’s landslide re-election in 1972, Colson felt an inner emptiness.

It was Tom Phillips, a successful CEO represented by Colson’s law firm, who first read Lewis’ words to Colson, challenging him to look honestly at himself and at his motivation for participating in the shady activities of the Nixon White House.

Lewis describes pride, or self-conceit, as the sense that one must constantly be better than others. This feeling leads inevitably to enmity not only between people, but between people and God.

Lewis explains, “In God you come up against something which is in every respect immeasurably superior to yourself. Unless you know God as that—and, therefore, know yourself as nothing in comparison—you do not really know God at all.”

Colson realized that Lewis was describing his own pride—his own driving ambition that had led him to a successful career as a lawyer and to his position at Nixon’s side. He realized too that this same “spiritual cancer” dominated the White House, a cancer that would result ultimately in the Watergate scandals.

The night after his meeting with Phillips, Colson wept uncontrollably. He knew that he needed to change his life, but he didn’t know how to do it. Colson, moreover, was suspicious of sudden, emotionally charged “religious conversions.” In the military, he had seen men experience such “conversions” during times of stress, only to fall back to their old lifestyles once the stress had passed.

At this point Lewis helped Colson again. During a week’s vacation, Colson carefully studied Mere Christianity, and found answers to his intellectual questions about the truth of the Christian faith. Convicted in both heart and head, Colson was then able to commit his life to Christ.

Colson’s new-found faith was quickly tested, however. Convicted of obstruction of justice, Colson spent seven months in prison. Receiving no special treatment, Colson shared in every aspect of the prisoner’s life: the uncertainty, the loneliness, the constant threat of physical violence (Colson’s own life was threatened.)  But Colson believed that God helped him to overcome these hardships, and he was able to work with others in establishing prayer and study groups in the prison.

After his release, Colson continued his Christian witness of both heart and head. With his heart reaching out to those still in prison, he established the Prison Fellowship, an organization offering faith-based programs for prisoners and working for prisoner rehabilitation and the reform of the prison system.

Working equally hard for the religion of the head, Colson insisted that in a society dominated by moral relativism, Christians must be able to express and defend their worldview in an intellectually coherent manner.

Through organizations such as Prison Fellowship and the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and through the countless people he has personally touched, Colson’s dual legacy lives on.

The Brown Scapular’s Perennial Allure

Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan J.M.J.

Yesterday—Wednesday, May 16th—is the traditional Memorial of Saint Simon Stock (about 1165-1265), the English Carmelite who, on July 16, 1251, received the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel from the Mother of God herself.

For centuries, millions of Catholics have been spiritually enriched by the wearing of the Brown Scapular and have desired this sacramental.

Six students at O+Gorman High School in Sioux Falls were enrolled in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel during this Month of Mary. Four young ladies and two young gentlemen displayed enthusiasm as they sought this exterior manifestation of Our Lady’s love for us and our love for her.

Where would we be without the celestial intercession of the Ever-Virgin?

Our Lady of Mount Carmel, pray for us!

Saint Simon Stock, pray for us!

Pentecost Novena Begins Friday

In today’s Gospel, Jesus prepares his Apostles for his Ascension by teaching them about the Advocate who is to come.  “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth,” (John 16:12-13).  Jesus consoles his Apostles as he explains that it is better for them if he goes and they receive the Holy Spirit.  The Apostles will be blessed to live in a new era where they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will experience a deeper intimacy with God than ever before.  New Testament accounts demonstrate how the Holy Spirit filled them to such an extent that they had the courage to preach and to be martyrs, they could perform miracles, they confounded some of the wisest scholars, and most importantly, they were filled with a persistent love that inspired many to encounter the all-loving God of whom they spoke.

After the Ascension (celebrated this Thursday or Sunday), the Apostles were filled with fear at the loss of their Savior.  They could do nothing but hide and pray as they questioned what would happen next.  After nine days, the Holy Spirit descended upon them granting them the gifts of the Holy Spirit and leading them out courageously to preach the Good News.  The Holy Spirit, a divine Person who loved them intimately, entered into their hearts and transformed them.  For each of us too, the Holy Spirit is inviting us to know him personally and intimately.  Those nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost became known as the first novena.  We too are invited to pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit beginning Friday so that we may also experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost.

Our Lady of Fatima, Our Mother

Posted by Monsignor Charles Mangan +J.M.J.

 Happy Mother’s Day, O Mary!
95 Years after Our Lady’s Visit to Fatima

“If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted,
and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors
throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church.
The good will be martyred;
the Holy Father will have much to suffer;
various nations will be annihilated.
In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.”

 Uttered by Our Blessed Lady on July 13, 1917, these words, which form part of the Second Secret, were relayed many years later by Sister Lucia in her Third Memoir, dated August 31, 1941.

Our Blessed Mother’s message has often been called “Heaven’s Peace Plan.” God knows exactly what will lead to tranquility in our world and in the hearts of individuals. And it was the Ever-Virgin who announced this recipe for peace.

Specifically, what were the “requests” that Our Lady identified as her own? Here, Mary asked for two things: 1. The Collegial Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; 2. The Holy Communions of Reparation to be made on the First Saturdays of five consecutive months. Thus, the Holy Father, along with his brother Bishops joined to him, would consecrate Russia to Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart, and the Faithful would “make” the five First Saturdays, which include the worthy reception of the Most Blessed Sacrament, in a spirit of reparation to the same Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The conversion of Russia and the presence of peace was the collective promise for adherence to Our Blessed Mother’s pleas. Yet, unspeakable chaos would result if Mary’s requests were rebuffed: venerable Russia would go on a diabolical rampage, thus causing indescribable tribulation for both the Church and the society. Those who love and obey God would carry heavy crosses unto martyrdom—and even His Holiness the Pope himself would suffer much. Whole countries would be wiped out.

What stands at the end of the Second Secret is a prophecy that can only bring abundant and lasting joy to our souls: “In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” This is consolation par excellence. Despite all the problems and turmoil for which our age is duly noted, Our Blessed Lady’s Immaculate Heart will claim decisive victory over our dark era.

Yes, the Immaculate Heart will triumph over

+hatred based on religion, race, ethnicity and economic status;

+animosity towards innocent human life, especially that of preborn children;

+a government’s attempts to stifle religious freedom while imposing its own brand of contempt for the Creator and His Laws;

+misguided, libertine ideas about sexual morality that are aimed at corrupting our youth;

+rank injustice perpetuated against our society’s “have-nots.”

The more we grow in the life of grace, which is the life of Jesus Christ, the more we appreciate and long for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart. We pine for Our Lady and the overwhelming Peace of Christ that she will introduce in our midst.

Let us do our part. Prayer and penance were never so sorely required.

Happy Mother’s Day, O Mary!
Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

 (Originally published on pages 12 and 13 of the March-April 2012 issue of the Immaculate Heart Messenger.)



Confidence in God’s Love

Today’s Gospel from John is the same as the theme of this website.  Before his passion and death, Jesus teaches his apostles, “I am the vine and you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5).  Jesus here speaks boldly and absolutely: without me you can do nothing. With this statement, he uncovers our human temptation to doubt him.  It can be easy, even as followers of Christ, to think that he cannot help us or that in some circumstances he chooses not to do so.  In these instances, we proceed on our own without placing ourselves confidently in his hands.

Jesus calls us to confidence.  He calls us to boldly believe in his goodness and his loving attention towards each of us.  God is so greatly aware of our needs, and he desires to care for us as a Father.  He delights in us and seeks our greatest good, yet we often pull away from him because we doubt the promises of his love.  Jesus reminds us that everything we have comes from him, and he desires to give us much more if we are willing to ask in confidence.  “All that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours,” (Mark 11:24).  Let us grow in trust in him, joyfully embracing our identity as beloved sons and daughters of God!

Our Blessed Lady’s “Living Faith”

Posted by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan J.M.J.

Our Blessed Mother possessed a “living faith”, meaning that she believed actively all the truths revealed by God on the basis of His authority. If He revealed them, then that was enough for Our Lady.

Mary’s was a dynamic faith. The profundity and fervor of that faith intensified with each passing day.

In his very helpful treatise entitled La Madonna (Padova: Gregoriana, 1966), Passionist Father Giacomo Pesce hailed the Ever-Virgin Mother of God as a “model of faith.” Mary possessed a faith that was heroic, prudent and fruitful. But that is not all. Mary’s faith was proven. Just as silver is tried in the fire and gold in the furnace, and the Lord tests hearts (see Proverbs 17:3), so the faith of Our Lady was tried and shown to be splendid!

Mary believed in her Pure Immaculate Heart that her Son Jesus was the Creator of the world even when He was weak and suffering in Bethlehem’s rustic cave. She knew Him to be the King of Kings while she and her chaste husband Saint Joseph fled with the Child to Egypt in order to escape the treacherous grasp of the evil King Herod. She was convinced that He was the Omnipotent One despite His neediness and subjection to others. She acknowledged Him to be the “Joy of Paradise” notwithstanding His infant tears. She admitted that He was the wisdom and the strength of God although He grew in age, wisdom and grace before God and men. She confessed that He had descended from Heaven in order to conquer Satan and redeem humanity never mind His exhausting work as a carpenter at the side of His Foster-father.

Why did Jesus, who miraculously multiplied the bread and fish, not provide the Holy Family of Nazareth with a plethora of money? Why did Jesus, the true Messiah, stir up hatred and aversion against Himself? Why was Jesus the target of more spying than any murderer or thief? Why did the Father allow His Divine Son to be so mistreated? Why did the Father not permit the Sacred Divinity of His Son to be recognized? Why did the Father allow His Divine Son to take on the likeness of sinners even to His ignoble death on the Cross?

Father Pesce marveled at the incredible faith of Mary. “All these questions Our Lady heroically overcame. In all these terrible trials, the Virgin Mary repeated: ‘Behold the handmaiden of the Lord!’” (page 303)

In capturing his own wonderment, Father Pesce names ours, too. “We admire the Madonna who did not vacillate during the most difficult hours; on the contrary, she became a very brilliant beacon for all Christians.” (ibid.)

As sons and daughters of God the Father, brothers and sisters of God the Son and temples of God the Holy Spirit, we have inherited the magnificent faith of Mary our Spiritual Mother. With the abundant grace provided by the Lord, Our Blessed Lady went forward in faith. We treasure her example and seek to imitate it.

We rightly conclude with a prayer offered by Father Pesce: “Virgin Mary, we believe all that God commands us to believe. Reinvigorate our faith. Increase it in such a way that we believe with all our hearts.” (page 304)

Mary, model of faith, pray for us!

(Published in Missio Immaculatae in the August/September 2006 issue on pages 14-15. Used with permission.)