New Project: Music in Honor of Our Lady of Fatima!

In Honor of Our Lady of Fatima, and to Commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun, the Smooth Stone Foundation is producing a CD of choral music from Portugal with Tim McDonnell!

The year 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fátima in Portugal. Beginning in May of 1917 and for several months following, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to three shepherd children in the Portuguese countryside, enjoining them to prayer and sacrifice for a world in turmoil. This culminated with the final apparition and the Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917. Since that time, the message of Fátima has encouraged countless faithful to pursue holiness in their lives, families, and professions.

“I Heard a Voice from Heaven …” is a project to record several exquisite pieces of sacred choral music conducted by Dr. Timothy McDonnell to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the miracle that has brought hope to millions since 1917. Portugal has been a bulwark of Catholic culture for centuries, and the country’s unique contribution to Catholic sacred music is impressive. Our hope is that the numinous and hallowed sounds of choral masterpieces from the Land of Fátima will inspire the prayerful recollection of Our Lady’s message of prayer and hope in a world still beset by confusion, strife, and conflict.

I Heard a Voice from Heaven …

CDs with the music will be made in spring of 2017.

The official page for the project is here:

Through The Eastern Gate

By which gate did the Jesus enter Jerusalem?

The readings from Palm Sunday record the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.

“As he went, they strewed the road with their garments; and when he drew near the descent of mount Olivet, the whole company of his disciples began rejoicing and praising God for all the miracles they had seen. Blessed is the king, they said, who comes in the name of the Lord; peace in heaven, glory above.” (Luke 19:37-38)

The praises with which the crowd greets Jesus are from Psalm 118. They signify that the crowd recognizes him as the Messiah of whom the psalm is written. The account from the Gospel of John recognizes Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem as fulfilling the words of Zechariah:

“Next day, a great multitude of those who had come up for the feast, hearing that Jesus was coming into Jerusalem, took palm branches with them and went out to meet him, crying aloud, Hosanna, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, blessed is the king of Israel. And Jesus took an ass’s foal, and mounted on it; so it is written, Do not be afraid, daughter of Sion; behold, thy king is coming to thee, riding on an ass’s colt. The disciples did not understand all this at the time: only after Jesus had attained his glory did they remember what they had done, and how it fulfilled the words written of him.” (John 12:12-16)

Here John refers to the prophesy from Zecharaiah 9:9: ” See where thy king comes to greet thee, a trusty deliverer; see how lowly he rides, mounted on an ass…”

Psalm 24 also describes the triumphant entry of the Lord into Jerusalem:

“Swing back, doors, higher yet; reach higher, immemorial gates, to let the King enter in triumph! Who is this great King? Who but the Lord, mighty and strong, the Lord mighty in battle? Swing back, doors, higher yet; reach higher, immemorial gates, to let the King enter in triumph! Who is this great King? It is the Lord of Armies that comes here on his way triumphant.” (Psalm 24:7-10)

But which gate did Jesus enter through?

Jesus entered Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate, which is also called the Golden Gate, or the Gate of Mercy.

“The Golden Gate is located on the eastern side of Jerusalem’s old city wall, thus one of names it is known by is an Eastern Gate. It faces the of Mount of Olives right across the Kidron valley. The Golden Gate is a structure that consists of the two gates that lead directly to the Temple Mount. The southern part of the gate is called the Gate of Mercy (Shaar Harashamim in Hebrew) as in ancient times Jews would pray in front of the gate asking Almighty for mercy.

“Muslims also refer to it as Mercy Gate (Bab al-Rahma) and sometimes as the Gate of Eternal Life. In the New Testament it is mentioned as a Beautiful Gate. The northern part is called Gate of Repentance (Shaar Teshuvah in Hebrew). During the time of the First Temple period this was the closest entrance to the Temple of Solomon.

“Jews believe that the Mashiach (Messiah) will enter Jerusalem from the east through the Golden Gate and as he enters the Temple Mount he’ll bring redemption to the Hebrew nation.” (“Gates of Jerusalem”)

Why did the Jews believe that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate?

The Jews connect the Messiah with the Eastern Gate because of the prophesies of Ezekiel and Zechariah and Ezekiel. Ezekiel writes:

“Then he brought me back to the eastern gate of the outer precincts, that was fast shut. Shut this gate must ever be, the Lord told me, nor open its doors to give man entrance again, since the Lord, the God of Israel, entered by it.” (Ezekiel 44:1-2)

Zechariah writes:

“And then the Lord will go out to battle against those nations, as he did ever in the decisive hour. There on the mount of Olives, that faces Jerusalem on the east, his feet shall be set; to east and west the mount of Olives shall be cloven in two halves, with a great chasm between, and the two halves shall move apart, one northward, one southward.” (Zechariah 14:3-4)

Ezekiel prophesizes that the Eastern Gate will eventually be sealed shut, because the Lord entered through it. Zechariah describes the messiah as going out through the Eastern Gate to do battle on the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives, or Olivet, is just outside the Eastern Gate, and lies on the road from Bethany to Jerusalem. At the foot of the Mount of Olives is the Garden of Gethsemane. The Gospe of Luke tells us that, after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, “Each day he went on teaching in the temple, and at night he lodged on the mountain which is called Olivet.” (Luke 21:37)

According to Luke’s account, Jesus would have left Jerusalem through the Eastern gate every evening following his triumphal entry to get to the Mount of Olives, and returned again every morning through the Eastern Gate to teach in the Temple. This continued until the evening of the Passover, when, after the Last Supper, he went out through the Eastern Gate for the last time to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane. There he was arrested, and entered Jerusalem through the Eastern Gate for the last time as a prisoner.

When was the gate closed?

The Eastern Gate was first closed by Muslims in 810 and then reopened in 1102 by the Crusaders. Saladin walled it up again after regaining Jerusalem in 1187. Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent rebuilt it together with the city walls, but walled it up again in 1541, and it has remained walled up ever since.

Thus, was the prophesy of Ezekiel fulfilled. “Shut this gate must ever be, the Lord told me, nor open its doors to give man entrance again, since the Lord, the God of Israel, entered by it.”


“Gates of Jerusalem.” Jerusalem on My Mind website. Accessed Mar 22, 2016.

Holy Bible. New Advent website. Knox Translation. Accessed Mar 22, 2016.

Price, Randall J. Rose Guide to the Temple, Rose Publishing, 2013. Quoted in “Golden Gate.” Wikipedia. Accessed Mar 22, 2016.

Help Support the Immokalee Pregnancy Center

The Smooth Stone Foundation is sponsoring a table at the Eight Annual Banquet for the Immokalee Pregnancy Center.

The Immokalee Pregnancy Center offers free and confindential consultations and services for women facing a crisis pregnancy. Their services include:

  • Pregnancy tests
  • Ultrasound exams
  • Peer counseling
  • Accurate information
  • Compassionate Care
  • Community referrals
  • Adoption support and referrals
  • Post-abortion counseling

The Immokalee Pregnancy Center does not provide or offer referrals for abortion or contraception.

The theme of the Banquet is “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.” The banquet will be held at St. John the Evangelish Parish in Naples on Thursday, February 25th, from 6:30 to 9:00 pm.

You can register for the banquet here by following this link.

Please join us in supporting their life-saving work, and let us know if you would like to join us at our table. We hope to see you there!

Restitution and Reparation

Are we obliged to repair damage unjustly done to the property of others?

“We are obliged to repair damage unjustly done to the property of others, or to pay the amount of the damage, as far as we are able.

If we have unknowingly, by purchase or gift, obtained possession of stolen property, we are bound to restore it to the rightful owner, as soon as we learn the truth.

“Justice requires reparation of the evil we do, in so far as we have ability to make that reparation.

“If one refuses to restore stolen property or to repair damage he has unjustly done to the property of others, he cannot be forgiven.

“A person who has accidentally damaged the property of another is not obliged to repair the damage unless required by civil law. Employees are bound to take reasonable care of the property of employers.”

Are we obliged to restore to the owner stolen goods, or their value?

“We are obliged to restore to the owner stolen goods, or their value, whenever we are able.

“If the rightful owner is dead, the property must be restored to his heirs. If there are no heirs, it must be given to the poor or for some other charitable purpose.

“If poverty or some other circumstance prevent the thief from making restitution immediately, he must resolve to do so as soon as possible, and must make an effort to fulfill his resolution.

“If we find an article of value, we must strive to discover the owner, in order to restore the article. The more valuable it is, the greater our obligation to discover the owner and restore it to him. If after all our earnest efforts we fail to find the rightful owner, we may keep the article.”

What does the Tenth Commandment forbid?

“The tenth commandment forbids all desire to take or to keep unjustly what belongs to others, and also forbids envy at their success.

“We are permitted to desire the property of others only when we propose to obtain it by legitimate means, such as by purchase or exchange.”

Among those guilty of violating the Tenth Commandment are:

  1. “Those who desire or resolve to steal or cause loss to others, even if the resolution is not carried out;
  2. Children who wish for the death of their parents in order to obtain their property;
  3. Those who wish for war, epidemics, storms, fire, legal troubles, social outbreaks or other calamities, in order to profit from the resulting high prices for their products; and
  4. Those who deny the right of private property, such as Communists.” (My Catholic Faith)

Most Reverend Louis LaVoire Morrow, Bishop of Krishnagar. “Article 113: “Reparation of Damage to Property.” My Catholic Faith: A Manual of Religion. Kenosha, WI: My Mission House, 1963. pp. 236-7.

Fasting and Abstinence

The Second Precept of the Church requires Catholics “to fast and abstain on the days appointed.”

The season of Lent has begun, a great season of penance. The Catholic Church requires Catholics to fast and abstain from meat on various days throughout Lent.

Fasting regulations:

  • Only on full meal per day is permitted
  • Up to two smaller meals, not to exceed the main meal in quantity, are allowed
  • Amount of food eaten should be less than normal
  • Eating in between meals is not permitted
  • Drinking is permitted at any time, including alcoholic beverages, although alcohol is discouraged in the spirit of penance
  • Fasting is required on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
  • Fasting is encouraged on Holy Saturday until the Easter Vigil, but not required
  • All Catholics age 18 to 59 are bound by the laws of fasting

Abstinence regulations:

  • Meat is not permitted. Meat is defined as “flesh and organs of mammals and fowl.”
  • Soups and gravies made with meat are not permitted
  • Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are allowed
  • Butter, milk, eggs, cheese, margarine, and gelatin are allowed
  • Abstinence is required on Ash Wednesday and all Fridays throughout the year, except solemnities
  • On Fridays outside of Lent, Catholics in the United States may substitute an act of penance or act of charity in lieu of abstaining from meat
  • All Catholics age 14 and older are bound by the laws of abstinence

Note that these regulations only apply to Latin Rite Catholics. Eastern Rite Catholics are bound by the particular laws of their own sui iuris Churches.

In addition to observing the laws related to fasting and abstinence, Catholics are encouraged to give up something for Lent.

For Catholics wishing to enter more deeply into the season of penance, it may be instructive to know the old laws of fasting and abstinence. While these regulations are no longer in force, they can be helpful in understanding what was traditionaly required of Catholics during Lent.

There are three significant differences between the older requirements of fasting and the current regulations.

First, according to the old regulation, meat could only be eaten at the main meal on the day of a fast. Two smaller meals were allowed, just as they are now, but these smaller meals were required to be meatless. The requirement of limiting meat to one meal per day is called partial abstinence.

Second, Catholics were obligated to fast on all weekdays of Lent, not just Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The only exception to this was the Solemnity of St. Joseph on March 19th.

Third, Catholics were obligated to fast on days outside of Lent. In addition to the weekdays of Lent, Catholics were also required to fast Ember Days and on the Vigil of Pentecost, the Vigil of the Immaculate Conception (Dec. 7th), and the Vigil of Christmas (Dec. 23rd or Dec. 24th, as they chose).

Fasting and abstinence has never been required on Sundays and solemnities or Holy Days of Obligation. The Solemnity of St. Joseph was and is a Holy Day of Obligation that always falls during Lent, although the obligation to attend Mass is and was dispensed for Catholics in the United States, even before the liturgical reforms of Vatican II.

The old Liturgical Year specified twelve Ember Days throughout the year, three in each season of Advent, Lent, and Paschaltide, and three in ordinary time. The Ember Days were the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays after: the first Sunday of Lent, Pentecost, September 14, and December 13. Ember Days were celebrated to implore God’s blessings on the fruits of the earth and as special occasions to pray for the clergy. Ordinations would always take place on Ember Saturdays.

It is no understatement to say that the law of fasting has been dramatically reduced for Catholics. The truth is that by reducing the number of required days of fasting during Lent from 40 (or 39, excluding the Feast of St. Joseph) to two, the obligations to fast during Lent have been almost entirely dispensed. This is to say nothing of the days of fasting that used to be observed outside of Lent, of which there used to be twelve. Now, of course, there are none. Thus the total number of days of fasting throughout the year has been reduced from 51 to two.

Adding the forty days of Lent to the twelve days of fasting outside of Lent, we arrive at 52 days of penance throughout the year, a number which a certain sybolic significance. There are 365 days per year, so the number of fasting days per year is approximately one seventh (52 / 365 ≈ 1/7). Thus the number of days of fasting to the year was the same proportion as Friday to the rest of the week.

While these old regulations are no longer in force, they are instructive it showing us what the Church has traditionally meant by a season of penance. They also show us that a fast of forty days is not beyond the capability of ordinary Catholics, as it used to be the expectation for everyone. Those who desire or are inspired to observe a fast of forty days in imitation of Our Lord should be encouraged to do so. Fasting for forty days is not impossible, and God will give those who undertake the penance the grace they need to do His will.

Why does the Church Command us to fast and to abstain?

“The Church commands us to fast and to abstain in order that we may control the desires of the flesh, raise our minds freely to God, and make satisfaction for sin. It is not because meat and other foods are in themselves evil.

“‘I chastise my body and bring it into subjection lest perhaps after preaching to others I myself should be rejected’ (1 Cor. 9:27). One who cannot fast should do some other penance.

“The forty days fast observed in Lent is in imitation of Our Lord, Who fasted forty days in the desert. It is a preparation for Easter. Friday as a day of abstinence commemorates Our Lord’s Good Friday.

“Fast and abstinence are pleasing to God only when we also refrain from sin and engage in good works. We should honor Our Lord’s passion during Lent by abstaining from worldly pleasures and amusements.

“Even from merely natural motives, fast and abstinence, far from ruining the health as some people claim, on the contrary are a preservation of health. Reputable physicians will bear out this fact.

“Fast and abstinence should not be carried to excess, to the injury of our health.” (My Catholic Faith)

EWTN. “Fast and Abstinence.” Accessed February 2, 2016.

EWTN. “Holy Days of Obligation.” Accessed February 2, 2016.

Most Reverend Louis LaVoire Morrow, Bishop of Krishnagar. “Article 123: “Second Commandment of the Church.” My Catholic Faith: A Manual of Religion. Kenosha, WI: My Mission House, 1963. pp. 258-9.

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “Fast & Abstinence.” Accessed Feb 2, 2016.