Thursday, July 31, 2008

Can you believe this? A Free Catholic School!

Now this is pretty amazing! God bless them!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Just for fun: Ron Burgundy - Jim Caviezel Interview

This is pretty funny! You have to laugh sometimes!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Calling Out Your Name - Rich Mullins

To learn more about Rich Mullins click here.

Monday, July 28, 2008

HISTORIA DE UN LETRERO (The Story of a Sign)

I first saw this film at Amercian Papist and thought it was worth posting here too. This beautiful little film won the Cannes Film Festival for Short Films and is well worth watching! The maker of the film is an a friend of the makers of Bella!

With a stroke of the pen, a stranger transforms the afternoon for another man in this emotionally stirring short film by Alonso Alvarez.

Alonso Alvarez Barreda was born in Mexico City in 1984. He met Alejandro Monteverde, who was still in film school, and since then Alejandro became his friend and mentor. Alonso wrote, produced and directed his first short film, called El Algodonero. His second short film, Historia de un Letrero, was named best short film in the Festival Internacional de Cine en Corto and also won the Hispanoamerican jury award in the Short Shorts Film Festival in Mexico City. It has also been an official selection at the San Diego Latino Film Festival, Cine Festival in San Antonio, Texas, Short Shorts Film Festival Monterrey and Morelos, and in the Short Film Corner in Cannes.

Currently, Historia de un Letrero is part of the regular programming on National TV in Mexico. Alonso lives in Los Angeles.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rebel With a Cause: Bobby Jindal's Spiritual Journey

The Wall Street Journal put out a wonderful article on the faith of our Louisiana Governor. It's a simple look at the faith of this wonderful man of real change!

40 Days for Life

The following was taken from the 40 Days for Life site:

Want to end abortion? First you pray.

Prayer is at the center of 40 Days for Life. During the campaign, we are calling on prayer warriors across the nation to fall on their knees before the Lord, asking Him to hear our plea and heal our land. Pray at church. Pray outside an abortion facility. Pray at work. Pray in the car. Pray at home with your family. Pray!

People of faith are also invited to fast throughout 40 Days for Life.
Christ said there are demons that can only be driven out by prayer and fasting. A fast is not a Christian diet; it is a powerful means of drawing closer to God by blocking out distractions. Fast from food. Fast from television. Fast from excess time in front of a computer. Fast from apathy and indifference. Fast from whatever it is that separates you from God.

We believe that when God's people fast with a broken, repentant, and contrite spirit, our heavenly Father will hear from heaven and heal our lives, our churches, our communities, our nation, and our world.

Rich Mullins: Sometimes by Step

Happy Sunday morning! I really do enjoy Rich Mullins music and I find this to be one of his best... very prayerful! God bless!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood

Consuming Kids is a new documentary due out in the Fall of 2008. The above video is a short trailer for the film. The film is being produced by the Media Education Foundation and should be well worth watching by every parent in America!

The Media Education Foundation produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical reflection on the social, political and cultural impact of American mass media. The following is a summary from their website:

With virtually no government or public outcry, the multi-billion dollar youth marketing industry has been able to use the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world. American kids now influence an estimated $700 billion in annual spending, targeted virtually from birth with a relentless bombardment of sophisticated commercial appeals designed to sell everything from Hollywood merchandise and junk foods to iPods, cell phones, the family car and vacations. The result is that childhood itself has been commercialized. Drawing on the insights of experts, industry insiders, and children themselves, Consuming Kids traces the evolution and impact of this disturbing and unprecedented phenomenon, exposing the youth marketing industry's controversial tactics and exploring the effect of hyper-consumerism on the actual lived experience of children.

This is sure good food for thought.

World Youth Day in Madrid: Seeking to Recover Christian Identity

Vincenzo at Sancte Pater has an interesting story on the coming World Youth Day in Madrid in 2011. We should start praying now for their success!

Pope Benedict, Love and the Holy Spirit!

This is another great spot from the people at H2O News:
One of Benedict XVI's petitions during the vigil at World Youth Day was that the youth open themselves “to the power of God's love” to transform the world.

“Mature your faith through your studies, work, play, music and art. Sustain it through prayer and feed it with the Sacraments so that it may become a source of inspiration and help to all of those around us.”

After telling the youth that he was “very happy” to be with them, the Pope said that “life is not a simple accumulation, it is much more than a simple success.”

“To be truly alive is to be transformed from the inside, to be open to the strength of God's love. If you welcome the power of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to transform your families, communities and nations.”

Referring to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Father encouraged the youth to recognize them. “Free these gifts. May wisdom, intellect, fortitude, knowledge and piety be the signs of your greatness.”

Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the Holy See's unofficial newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, described the Pope's address as “one of the best of his pontificate.”

Friday, July 25, 2008

Trace Adkins: Arlington

This is just a fantastic song... and video! I am in a country mood today, and this suits my patriotism and respect for the men and women in the service of our nation as well! God bless them...

Handing on the Faith: Returning to Tradition!

I thought this was a very interesting article from FIDES on teaching the faith to the young. I have been taking a spirituality course these days and the emphasis is very much still on the teaching of Karl Rahner. I would agree with the Bishops here that this approach is too limiting. We have to present the richness and tradition of the Church and begin with Jesus Christ! They make the point that after the Second Vatican Council we fell away from this practice. I think the results are fairly obvious! Religious Education fell into a true tailspin. Let's pray we continue to return to the richness and tradition of the faith in order to more clearly proclaim our faith in Christ! Let me know what you think of the article:

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - The Pope said recently in Australia addressing leaders of other Christian Churches and communions: “As we promote Christian values, we must not neglect to proclaim their source by giving a common witness to Jesus Christ the Lord. It is he who commissioned the apostles, he whom the prophets preached, and he whom we offer to the world.” (Benedict XVI, Meeting with leaders of other Christian Churches and communions 18 July 2008).

We all know that after the Council both in the missionary field and the pastoral field a strange idea began to spread that Christ should only be announced after people's problems have been solved, or, in the case of young people, the announcement should be an educative proposal. A theory which would appear to be consequential to the anonymous Christianity of Karl Rahner. Except that that St Paul tried it in the public square and we all know what happened. On the same subject the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, says: “The announcement of Christ is not a final completion, the event which ends the journey. It is the foundation. It is the educative, visible and concrete reference. That Christ's appeal is the beginning of an educative path - not as an academic method, but as a total experience - is clear to everyone. It is impact with that appeal which causes a profound jolt, an intuition in the face of the demands of life. And this triggers a movement of conversion, a journey; the feeling that the fullness of the human person lies therein ” (Tracce, n 7,2008, p 113).

We either trust in the power of Jesus Christ - and Christ crucified - as did Paul after his unsuccessful experience in the public square in Athens, or give greater value to our own wisdom and methodology. We may then understand what the Pope wished to say to the Italian Bishops in plenary assembly in May this year, when he said that for the Church the educative challenge coincides with handing on the faith to the young generations: man only knows himself when he encounters Christ, Vittorino rhetorician in ancient Rome was known to say. The announcement of Christ is one, even when it is an announcement for one who has dedicated his life to Christ in missionary work and the priesthood. The announcement of Jesus, true God, 'made man for us men and for our salvation', contains and reveals the fullest concept of the human person.
John Paul II taught this all through his 27 years of pontificate, beginning with his first encyclical Redemptor hominis (1978) , where he cites the well known passage of Gaudium et spes 22: “"The truth is that only in the mystery of the Incarnate Word does the mystery of man take on light … Christ the new Adam, in the very revelation of the mystery of the Father and of his love, fully reveals man to himself …… For, by his Incarnation, he, the son of God, in a certain way united himself with each man.” (n 8).

Priests and missionaries know that to be faithful to their proper call which is not to be social workers, they must announce, not the latest values, even if they are justice and peace, instead they must announce Jesus. They are not unionists charged with organising pro-justice marches and initiatives, instead they are ministers of reconciliation, charged with extending the Church as the home of reconciled men and women. The only way to make the world more human is to extend the Church. The importance of this to ensure that young people are not misguided in the educative path will be clear to every bishop who has shouldered his task to be a doctor and a teacher who exhorts, corrects, encourages and warns.

Handing on the faith to the younger generations means in a word, returning to the tradition: which in the catechumenate is emphasised in the symbols of the Creed and in the Our Father and which in actual fact means handing on Jesus Christ as the very meaning of life – He told us “I am the way, the truth and the life” – from which even the smallest fragment of the universe, sensible or supernatural, draws its value. Let adults – priests – be aware of their grave responsibility.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

G-E-A-U-X! Go, Saints, Go!!!

Saints Camp Day 1

Could this be the year?!?!

From Gangster to Evangelist: The Story of John Pridmore

John Pridmore was a gangster in the east end of London and has since his conversion gone around schools and parishes spreading the Word of God. Here he is in Dublin city centre giving his testimony at a Rosary Youth Rally.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Champions of Faith: God and Baseball!

I showed this video to my Freshmen the last semester that I was at Don Bosco Prep and I think the boys appreciated it. It is great to hear baseball hero's share the faith and love that have for God! For more information on this film go to Champions of Faith!

Saint Bridget of Sweden: Co-Patroness of Europe

Today is the Feast of St. Bridget of Sweden! She is one of those saints that I have only come to learn something about in recent years. Her order, the Bridgettines, have a beautiful retreat house in Darien, CT. You can read more about the order here.

The following comes from

St. Bridget was the daughter of the royal Prince of Sweden, named Birger, and of Ingeburdis, a descendent of the Gothic kings. From these pious parents she inherited a great love for the Passion of Our Lord. Her father consecrated all Fridays to special acts of penance, and from her childhood St. Bridget loved to meditate upon the Passion of Christ. In obedience to her father, at the age of fourteen she married Ulfo, Prince of Nericia in Sweden, by whom she had eight children, the last of whom, Catherine, is now honored among the saints. Later, the holy couple bound themselves by a vow of chastity and made a pilgrimage to Compostela in Galicia. On their return to Sweden, Ulfo, with his wife's consent, entered a Cistercian monastery, where he died soon after, in the odor of sanctity. After his death St. Bridget renounced her rank of Princess and changed her habit. In 1344, she built the great monastery of Wastein, which became the motherhouse of a new Order, that of the Brigittines. She next undertook a pilgrimage to Rome and to Palestine. Having satisfied her devotion at the holy places sanctified by the life and Passion of Our Redeemer, she returned to Rome, where she lived a year longer. During this time, she was sorely afflicted by sickness, but endured it with heroic patience and resignation. Her son, Birger, and her daughter, Catherine, were with her in her last moments. Having giving them her final instructions, she received the Last Sacraments and died in 1373. She is the patroness of Sweden. Her feast day is July 23.

In 1999, Pope John Paul II chose St. Bridget as a patron saint of Europe. For more information on St. Bridget go to the Patron Saints Index!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Sum Suthen-ism's!

The following comes from an email my uncle sent me from Louisiana! Very cool:

Only a Southerner knows the difference between a hissie fit and a conniption fit, and that you don't "HAVE" them, you "PITCH" them.

Only a Southerner knows how many fish, collard greens, turnip greens, peas, beans, etc., make up "a mess."

Only a Southerner can show or point out to you the general direction of "yonder."

Only a Southerner knows exactly how long "directly" is, as in: "Going to town, be back directly."

Even Southern babies know that "Gimme some sugar" is not a request for the white, granular sweet substance that sits in a pretty little bowl in the middle of the table.

All Southerners know exactly when "by and by" is. They might not use the term, but they know the concept well.

Only a Southerner knows instinctively that the best gesture of solace for a neighbor who's got trouble is a plate of hot fried chicken and a big bowl of cold potato salad. If the neighbor's trouble is a real crisis, they also know to add a large banana puddin!

Only Southerners grow up knowing the difference between "right near" and "a right far piece." They also know that "just down the road" can be 1 mile or 20.

Only a Southerner, both knows and understands, the difference between a redneck, a good ol' boy, and po' white trash.

No true Southerner would ever assume that the car with the flashing turn signal is actually going to make a turn.

A Southerner knows that "fixin" can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adverb.

Only Southerners make friends while standing in lines, ... and when we're "in line," we talk to everybody!

Put 100 Southerners in a room and half of them will discover they're related, even if only by marriage.

In the South, y'all is singular, all y'all is plural.

Southerners know grits come from corn and how to eat them.

Every Southerner knows tomatoes with eggs, bacon, grits, and coffee are perfectly wonderful; that red eye gravy is also a breakfast food; and that fried green tomatoes are not a breakfast food.

When you hear someone say, "Well, I caught myself lookin'," you know you are in the presence of a genuine Southerner!

Only true Southerners say "sweet tea" and "sweet milk." Sweet tea indicates the need for sugar and lots of it -- we do not like our tea unsweetened. "Sweet milk" means you don't want buttermilk.

And a true Southerner knows you don't scream obscenities at little old ladies who drive 30 MPH on the freeway. You just say, "Bless her heart" ... and go your own way.

To those of you who are still a little embarrassed by your Southerness: Take two tent revivals and a dose of sausage gravy and call me in the morning. Bless your heart!

And to those of you who are still having a hard time understanding all this Southern stuff, ... bless your hearts, I hear they are fixin' to have classes on Southernness as a second language!

And for those that are not from the South but have lived here for a long time, all y'all need a sign to hang on y'alls front porch that reads "I ain't from the South, but I got here as fast as I could."

If you're a Northern transplant, Bless your little heart, fake it.

Saint Mary Magdalen: Witness of the Resurrection

Today is the Feast of St. Mary Magdalen! Mary Magdalene is mentioned in the Gospels as being among the women of Galilee who followed Jesus and His disciples, and who was present at His crucifixion and burial. It was Mary who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday to annoint Jesus' body. Also, She was the first to see the Risen Lord, and to announce His Resurrection to the apostles. She is referred to in early Christian writings as "the apostle to the apostles."

The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

When Mary Magdalen came to the tomb and did not find the Lord's body, she thought it had been taken away and so informed the disciples. After they came and saw the tomb, they too believed what Mary had told them. The text then says: "The disciples went back home," and it adds: "but Mary wept and remained standing outside the tomb." We should reflect on Mary's attitude and the great love she felt for Christ; for though the disciples had left the tomb, she remained. She was still seeking the one she had not found, and while she sought she wept; burning with the fire of love, she longed for him who she thought had been taken away. And so it happened that the woman who stayed behind to seek Christ was the only one to see him. For perseverance is essential to any good deed, as the voice of truth tell us: "Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved."

from a homily by Pope Saint Gregory the Great

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cubs Win! Cubs Win! I would love to be saying that in October!

Pope Paul VI was Right: The Vindication of Humanae Vitae

July 25th is the 40th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the papal document which reaffirmed the Church's teaching against contraception. 40 years ago Humanae Vitae "prophesied" that marriages and society would suffer if contraception became widely used. This has proven to be the case without doubt.

Professor Janet Smith wrote a wonderful article called Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later that is well worth looking into. She also wrote has another piece on the prophetic nature of the encyclical.

Here are some ideas for priests who want to preach on this topic from Human Life International: PREACHING HUMANAE VITAE. If you would like to read more check out Mary Eberstadt’s excellent article:"The Vindication of Humanae Vitae.”

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Update: World Youth Day 2011: Spain!

SYDNEY--The Catholic Church will hold its next World Youth Day in the Spanish capital Madrid in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday as he closed the festival in Sydney at a giant open-air mass.

"World Youth Day 2011 will take place in Madrid, Spain," the pope told hundreds of thousands of worshippers gathered at Sydney's Randwick racecourse for the celebration of Catholic youth. "Until then, let us continue to pray for one another and let us joyfully bear witness to Christ before the world," he said. The announcement sparked jubilation among the estimated 5,000 Spanish pilgrims who travelled to Australia for the event. Church sources told AFP that Madrid was Benedict's personal choice as the next World Youth Day host. It marks a return to the Catholic Church's heartland after the event in Sydney, a largely secular city. It will be the second time Spain has hosted the largest Christian gathering on earth after it staged the event in 1989 in the city of Santiago de Compostela. The event was last held in the German city of Cologne in 2005. While Spain is a traditionally Catholic nation, the church feels it is particularly under threat from growing secularization. The Spanish church is at loggerheads with the country's socialist government, which is seeking to review historically strong ties between church and state and move to a more secular system. Relations between the church and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government have deteriorated to such an extent that the Spanish Episcopal Conference advised Catholics against voting for the socialists at elections in March. Zapatero's first term in office was marked by confrontation with the church over the government's liberal social reforms including gay marriage and easier divorce. The socialist government argues the promotion of secular values is key to modernizing Spain, which has become more multicultural and undergone a liberal transformation in the three decades since the death of dictator General Francisco Franco. The church remains influential in Spain, a country which is officially 80 percent Catholic but where only about 40 percent practise the religion. The first World Youth Day was held in Rome in 1986 and is now held in an international host city every two to three years.

Pope Benedict: "Youth...Prophets of a New Era"

Build on a solid foundation: This is the Holy Father's final words to the thousands of young people heard in the closing homily of World Youth Day. The peaceful invasion of faith in Sydney ended with the announcement of the next WYD in Madrid in 2011.
And Benedict XVI has challenged the youth. Build "a new era in which love is not greedy and selfish," said the Holy Father, "but rather is pure, faithful and sincerely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, a love that promotes their good and shines with joy and beauty. A new era of that hope which frees us from superficiality, from apathy and from that isolation that brings death to our souls and poisons human relations. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking to be prophets of this new era, messengers of His love, able to attract people to the Father and to build a future of hope for all humanity."

World Youth Day: Images from the Vigil and Mass

World Youth Day Evening Vigil With Pope Benedict

SYDNEY, Jul 19, 2008 (CNA) .- Alongside the WYD cross and the icon of Mary, and under the "magnificent constellation of the Southern Cross," the Pope delivered a message to pilgrims gathered at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney for the final night of WYD08, inspiring them to offer hope, strive for unity and to transform their families, communities and nations empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

World Youth Day: God is with us!

The World Youth Day pilgrims are on the move and heading for the overnight vigil. Let's pray that the Holy Spirit touches the hearts of the young people!

The Holy Spirit satisfies man's greatest need for unity. From the forlorn child in a camp in Darfur, an upset teen, an anxious parent in the suburbs, or even in the depths of our hearts, the same human cry of longing for recognition, affiliation and unity emerges. Speaking with the youth at the great vigil at Randwick Racecourse, Benedict XVI emphasized that God is always with us. The Pope recounted St. Augustine's journey to the faith. At first, he was incredulous and doubtful, but then he became convinced of the presence of God throughout history and scrutinized the mystery of the Trinity, symbol of the journey that we all must make. Inspired by the thought of St. Augustine, we must make unifying love our measure, enduring love our challenge, life-giving love our mission.

God cannot be silenced. This is the message delivered by the Pope to the Church in Australia during the homily of the Mass celebrated with bishops, seminarians, and young religious. Benedict XVI also spoke on the theme of abuse. These evil acts, he said, constitute such a serious betrayal of trust that they "must be unequivocally condemned", having damaged the witness of the Church and caused great pain. Further into the homily, the Holy Father declared with urgency the priority of promoting a safer and healthier environment, especially for children, inviting all to reflect on the precious treasure that has been entrusted to us in our young.

"Oh man, I want to be holy!"

This was a nice article that I found on A young religious speaks about feeling right at home and at the heart of the Church at World Youth Day. God bless her and may God move many, many young people to consider His calling to follow Him in Priesthood and religious life!

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 18, 2008 ( Though Sister Maria Mori is from Australia and carries out her ministry in her home nation, she says an event like World Youth Day is what really makes her feel at home. The streets of Sydney are flooded with priests and men and women religious, making the youth event a chance for a very special of community life. In their clerics and habits, the consecrated men and women stick out from among the sea of youth, as obvious as the iconic Opera House or the Harbor Bridge. Sister Mori, an Ursuline Missionary of the Sacred Heart, has been a woman religious for four years and is the only Australian-born member of her congregation serving in Australia. She's also one of only three to have taken her vows in Australia. Sister Mori, 38, is a high school teacher at Emmanuel Catholic College in Success, Perth. She said participating in World Youth Day is like being in the heart of Catholicism again, Rome. Young vocations to religious life are scarce in Australia, and she acknowledged that she misses being around sisters of her age. "It's really awesome," Sister Mori affirmed. "I feel like I'm in Rome again. People come up to me in the streets of Sydney and say, ‘You're Australian and you're a religious?' They didn't think religious existed in Australia as they ‘don't see them around.'" "Just being around other religious and saying, ‘I'm a religious' is awesome," Sister Mori continued. "People have been really cool. Every day I randomly meet religious from other countries and they're so happy that I'm a consecrated religious from Australia; and we always promise to pray for each other. It's beautiful." Sister Mori reflected on the beginnings of her own call to the consecrated life. She said that childhood stories her grandmother told her of the witness of the saints made her think, "Oh man, I want to be holy!" Though, she added, "I got in trouble a lot as a kid. It's a call to be close to God and to serve others." "I really wanted to be a missionary," the sister continued. "My dream is to be a missionary overseas, but it seems like God wants me to be a missionary in my own country, which is really, really important."

Pilgrims on the move: Walking to Randwick Racecourse

Pilgrims are on the move to the overnight vigil for World Youth Day! Let's continue to pray for all of the young people. You can read more about this stage of the WYD event by clicking here.

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 18, 2008 ( The part of World Youth Day that most resembles a traditional pilgrimage is under way -- hundreds of thousands are walking toward Randwick Racecourse where the vigil with the Pope and closing Mass will take place. Over 200,000 pilgrims traversed about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) of Sydney on foot, starting from its north side, crossing Harbor Bridge and moving around Darling Harbor as they headed to Randwick Racecourse. The site has been converted into a massive outdoor cathedral ready for Saturday's vigil and Sunday's Mass with Benedict XVI. The first pilgrims set out from their sleeping spots as early as 4 a.m. Saturday morning local time for a walk that began at 5:30. Some extra walkers were drawn in along the way by the infectiously uplifted spirits. New South Wales Premier Morris Iemma was found with the pilgrims along the route. He told ZENIT that "World Youth Day has been a real awakening because I don't think people really understood what it was about." "It's woken people up to the role faith can play and the impact it can have in building understanding and peace, and has been an example to us and the world of the role that faith can play in goodness," he added. Iemma said that Sydney does not want the Youth Day spirit to end on Sunday. "These youth say they're astounded by the beauty of Sydney -- but these same people have already left a great impression on us in return, and we'd like to keep those lines of communication open beyond just this week." Papal tribute The leader added that he attributes a lot of the success of the event to the Pope himself. "Pope Benedict says he's been bolstered by the reception he's had and he's been impressed with the welcome and the organization, but I believe the reception is a tribute to his success and messages." The message is getting through. Nineteen-year-old Sydneysider Lydia MacDonald admitted that she was originally skeptical and critical of the event and the supposed "discomfort" it would bring her daily life. Now she finds herself caught up in the streams of pilgrims. She told ZENIT: "I'll probably go to church more because I've seen the energy of the living faith now." As the pilgrims snaked over Sydney's streets on the last leg of their journey, the general consensus was that the walk was more joyful and unifying than what they had imagined. Organizational success Walking with the youth on Harbor Bridge, ZENIT caught up with Deputy Premier and Minister of Transport John Watkins, who expressed his satisfaction at the results of years of planning. "With known numbers of 125,000 international visitors, plus up to 80,000 national travelers, plus the great unknown of up to 300,000 Sydneysiders, it's like putting on five or six New Years Eve's per day, but the buses and trains have done a great job," said Watkins. "What we've seen is not only functionality from all transport systems, but we have received so much from the activities and well-mannered pilgrims themselves -- it's been very positive for our city -- we've really embraced this event. It's changed the nature of the way this city is." Watkins' sentiments were echoed by local police. "I've never seen a crowd like this, it's even better than an Olympic crowd," New South Wales police Commissioner Andrew Scipione told the Herald Sun today. "Hundreds of thousands of young people moving through the city not affected by drugs and alcohol has been such a wonderful experience." As the pilgrims approach Randwick, they will see seven banners motivating them on their journey -- each one depicting one of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. Pilgrims were also encouraged to bring warm gear for the sleep-out at the racecourse as winter night temperatures were expected to fall to 7° Celsius (about 44° Fahrenheit). The vigil with the Pope begins at 7 p.m. local time.

"There is the successor of Don Bosco!"

I found this story from the Salesian News Agency and thought it was cool!

(ANS – Sydney)
– "There is the successor of Don Bosco!" called out a girl from Birmingham, England in Australia these days to take part in the 2008 WYD, as the Rector Major left the aircraft on his arrival in Sydney.

The girl who had met the Salesians at “Savio House” in Bollington, England, recognised Fr Chávez as he arrived yesterday morning at Sydney airport. Accompanied by Fr Andrew Wong, Councillor for the East Asia -Oceania Region, the Rector Major went to the Salesian house in Engadine, Sydney, where he took part in a Mass attended by about 1000 young people.

Presiding at the mass at which the young people took an active part was Fr Michael Court parish priest of the “St John Bosco Parish”. Fr Chávez, speaking during the mass invited the young people to use the WYD as a opportunity for the beginning of a radical change of heart.

The mass was followed by a evening of international songs and dances during which the Rector Major moved easily among the young people, chatting to them and being photographed.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A full Day for Pope Benedict: The Way of the Cross, Ecumenical Prayer, and Dialogue with Non-Christians

It was another full day at World Youth Day for the Holy Father! He met with other Christian leaders to pray for peace, prayed the Way of the Cross with the youth and met with leaders of other faiths! Our Holy Father is a busy, busy man!

Don Bosco's Dream and Pope Benedict

You may be familiar with the dream of St. John Bosco and the two pillars but many of you may not. I was looking at the Abbey-Roads 2 blog and it reminded me of the story. On May 30, 1862, Don Bosco recounted that in a dream he had seen an immense sea on which a great many ships were arranged for battle against a larger and taller ship. He also saw others that were defending the tall ship. These are Don Bosco's words as taken from volume VII of the Biographical Memioirs:

"In the midst of this endless sea, two solid columns, a short distance apart, soar high into the sky. One is surmounted by a statue of the Immaculate Virgin, at whose feet a large inscriptions reads:" 'Auxilium Christianorum' ('Help of Christians') . The other, far loftier and sturdier, supports a Host of proportionate size, and bears beneath it the inscription: 'Salus credentium' ('Salvation of believers').

"The flagship commander - the Roman Pontiff- standing at the helm, strains every muscle to steer his ship between the two columns, from whose summits hang many anchors and strong hooks linked to chains. The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on it course. At times, a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole in its hull, but immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

"Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up; firearms and beaks fall to pieces; ships crack up and sink to the bottom. In blind fury, the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming. Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up, but struck a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy, and wild rejoicing seeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope's death coincides with that of his successor's election. The enemy's self-assurance wanes.

"Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns; first, to the one surmounted by the Host, and then the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point, something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other.

"Some auxiliary ships, which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship, are the first to tie up at the two columns. Many others, which had fearfully kept far away from the fight, stand still, cautiously waiting until the wrecked enemy ships vanish under the waves. Then they too head for the two columns, tie up at the swinging hooks and ride safe and tranquil beside their flagship. A great calm now covers the sea."

The following pictures are of Pope Benedict's arrival, by boat, to Sydney Harbor. I included a picture of the Holy Father arriving by boat in Cologne, Germany as well. I don't think we can know for sure if Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI were the Pope's of Don Bosco's dream but it is worth praying over. Certainly both of these men are leading us back to the Eucharist and to strong devotion to Our Lady. It is worth noting that Mary, Help of Christians (Auxilium Christianorum) is the patroness of Australia! Also, standing right behind the Holy Father on the ship is the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tersicio Bertoni, SDB (Salesian of Don Bosco)! Let's pray that all of us remain anchored to these great pillars following the leadership of a wonderful Holy Father!

More on World Youth Day in Australia!

Pope Benedict in the Streets of Sydney!

You can feel the excitement of the folks as they get a glimpse of the Holy Father in the streets of Sydney! Watching the videos really makes me wish I was there!

The Holy Father Meets Young People

Pope Benedict met with a gathering of disadvantaged youth today and you can read his address from Rocco Palmo's Whispers in the Loggia site here.

World Youth Day from Sydney: Live Coverage from EWTN

You can get live coverage of the events from World Youth Day from EWTN! CLICK HERE!

World Youth Day and Reconciliation

I read this article on Confession and World Youth Day and thought I would share it. It is more hopeful news from WYD in Sydney! I was able to be a part of World Youth Day in Denver and in Cologne and found both of these experiences to be beautiful and faith filled. Especially in Cologne, as a priest, I was able to see the impact of the Sacrament of Reconciliation! It seems to be the case in Sydney as well! Let's pray that the Holy Spirit uses this wonderful event to reignite the Church in Australia and the World! Here is the Zenit article:

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 16, 2008 ( The archbishop of Sydney says that World Youth Day is helping to restore a key element for the life of the Church -- the sacrament of reconciliation. To this end, Cardinal George Pell has made sure the sacrament is readily available in the host city this week. Priests, who received with their accreditation a schedule for hearing confessions, are located throughout the city in real and makeshift confessionals. You see them under the trees of the Domain, around the waters of Darling Harbor and in the alcoves of every city church. Notre Dame University has set up six key confessional zones, which Alton Pelowski of Michigan reports are never without penitents. "It's astounding to see the reverence and determination of each young Catholic pilgrim searching for meaning," she told ZENIT. Probably the most actively attended site for the sacrament is the Adoration and Reconciliation Center at the Sydney Convention and Exhibition Center, which reports steady lines of penitents rolling up directly after attending their morning catechesis. Other accessible venues are at the Opera House, the Domain, and eventually the pavilions of the Randwick Racecourse, which on Saturday and Sunday will be the site of the vigil and closing Mass, presided over by Benedict XVI. Gift of the Church Cardinal Pell told ZENIT that he was determined to repeat the outpouring of the spirit necessary for full reconciliation with Christ he witnessed in 2000 at the World Youth Day in Rome. The cardinal said that when young people have the chance to receive the sacrament of reconciliation, they normally go. "We've seen ourselves at the cathedral school and in our World Youth Day groups that nearly all of them do, and the non-Catholics want to come too," he added. "Though they can't receive absolution, they can come for a chat and to bare their soul." Cardinal Pell said he is "convinced that a significant element behind the anger and hostility in many young people results from displaced guilt, and all this talk about the primacy of conscience doesn't help either." "People feel guilt," he continued, "although they may not call it guilt, which they try to bury deep inside them, only for it to emerge in all sorts of unexpected directions." "In an age where there is the burgeoning business of psychology, counseling, etc.," the cardinal said, "it's sad that there's been a fall away from the practice of confessing to a priest, and World Youth Day is helping renew this -- one of the most important gifts the Church offers."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

World Youth Day: Opportunity for New Evangelization

Father Thomas Rosica, director of the television network Salt and Light, and organizer of World Youth Day in Toronto, speaks to us from Sydney on the secret of the success of these days.

"World Youth Day is one of the greatest inventions of the Church for the new evangelization, and it was the genius of Pope John Paul II to give these very important moments to the whole Church and to the world because it's a chance for all of us, those of us who are young, and those that are not so young to really celebrate our faith, to be public about it and to realize that we're not alone. So the genius of bringing young people together from around the world, to really celebrate our Catholic-Christian identity is a wonderful experience. It's a festival, it's a moment of joy, it's a moment of solidarity, and it's a moment that creates Catholic community, it's networking at its best, so what's going on in Australia these days is extremely wonderful."

Fr. Rosica makes clear that it is not the number of people in attendance that makes World Youth Day a success.

"These events were never about numbers, from the beginning. Perhaps we make mistakes if we try to compare events to Rome, the Jubilee, or to Manila, or to Cologne, because in fact the greater the numbers, the more difficult it is for the message to pass, to go through. This World Youth Day is a very good number of people, it's the whole world that's represented, it's a moment of faith, of growth, of teaching, of celebrating, and of being together, so we should be very careful."

The Holy Father's First Address at WYD 2008!

Opinionated Catholic has the full text of the Holy Father's first address to the young people! Check it out!

World Youth Day: Recieve the Power!

Here are a couple of videos from H20 News from World Youth Day! Let's pray that the young people all over the world... RECEIVE the POWER!

"This is main youth festival for the Friday night of World Youth Day. What's the vision behind this event?"

There was a number of communities, Catholic communities, that all had a vision for wanting to provide an event that would really center on receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. The exciting thing about Receive the Power Live is that you don't have to be a World Youth Day registered pilgrim to come. Anyone is free and welcome to come to Receive the Power Live. We've been able to connect with some amazing people as you say. The Matt Maher Band from the US, they're probably the number one Catholic worship band. It will really blow their minds in terms of the music that they will hear because it's contemporary music, it's music that you can actually dance to. And then we are so blessed and so privileged to have Darlene Zschech and Hillsong United who are acclaimed all over the globe for their worship music. Bishop Joe Gresh is going to be amazing he absolutely rocks. He is one of the best preachers your ever going to hear and he has such a passion for young people. We have John Pridmore who as you probably heard he's an ex-gangster from London who has an incredible testimony about coming to a conversion experience.

All ministry, all mission begins with opening ourselves up to the Holy Spirit and putting our faith into action. Right here, right now. Receive the Power Live. Friday night.

More News from WYD!

Pope Benedict XVI left the Kenthurst retreat center today and moved to Sydney where tomorrow he will attend World Youth Day.
Before departing Kenthurst, the Pope met with a dozen young zookeepers from the Sydney Zoo, which houses a number of typically Australian animals. Benedict XVI, visibly intrigued and amused, touched each animal one by one. Before his departure, the zoo workers presented the Holy Father with a stuffed koala toy.

The Welcome Ceremony, which includes the entry of the Holy Father by ship into Sydney's Rose Bay, will be held tomorrow.

The various groups of pilgrims, who have already been hosted for some days in cities across the country, will begin to gather in downtown Sydney today for prayer meetings and catechesis, and times of friendship and socializing. The local Catholic parishes and schools are prepared to welcome and house them, as well as an Islamic institute which will house mostly Latin American pilgrims.

World Youth Day Cross and Icon

Here are some more wonderful stories from H20 News!
The Cross and Icon of World Youth Day have been venerated by millions of young people all over the world. The Cross was presented to the youth of the world by Pope John Paul II. The national tour of the WYD Cross and Icon have gone through every diocese, in every state, in Australia. It has been a chance to feel the spirit of WYD08, and to add their own steps and prayers to the 21 year-long pilgrimage of young people who have carried these symbols of Christ's love for humanity in every corner of the world.

After tens of thousands of kilometers, the journey of the Cross and Icon have arrived at their final destination in Sydney. “This really is a very special moment. Because, as Fr. Chris said, this Cross, which has travelled all round Australia, witnessing to Pope John Paul II's vision, that young people can take a message of love, of peace, of reconciliation to the world and transform, enrich and renew cultures. Bring in a true culture of life and love. This Cross has travelled around, attached how many thousands of people. As Fr. Chris said, have had their own special, personal moment of the Cross. And now, it has made this final journey into the very heart of our beautiful city of Sydney. It's travelled from Circular Key, up through Pith Street right through the very center of our city. And here we are at Central Station, which is the hub of the transport of this, of this city. So, in a way, we're saying as we stand here today that the Cross now is in really the heart of this great and beautiful city of Sydney.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Former Columbian Hostage Makes a Pilgrimage to Lourdes

In the photo to the left you can see freed French-Colombian hostage Ingrid Betancourt, center, her mother, Yolanda Pulecio, and son Lorenzo light candles in the grotto at the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes in Lourdes, France, July 12. The Catholic politician was abducted in 2002 while she was running for president of Colombia. (CNS photo/Jean-Philippe Arles, Reuters)

The following is a follow up to the beautiful story of the rescue of hostage Ingrid Betancourt from her Colombian captors. She says that her devotion to prayer and the Blessed Mother sustained her in this terrible trial. The former Colombian presidential candidate has made a pilgrimage to the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes less than two weeks after she was freed from years in captivity.

French television showed the former captive walking to the Marian grotto at the shrine in the French Pyrenees on July 12. Surrounded by police and other pilgrims, she was greeted by the Bishop of Lourdes. She prayed before a crowd of thousands in thanksgiving for her life and for her freedom. Betancourt was abducted in 2002 by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), as she was running for president of Columbia.

The Colombian army staged a bloodless military rescue operation and liberated Betancourt and 14 others on July 2. She continues to pray for the many other captives still held by the FARC. The following is the Catholic News Service story on these events:

LOURDES, France (CNS) -- Accompanied by her mother, sister and children, former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt made a pilgrimage to the Sanctuaries of Our Lady of Lourdes less than two weeks after she was freed from years in captivity. French TV showed the 46-year-old walking July 12 to the Marian grotto at the shrine in the French Pyrenees. Surrounded by police and pilgrims, she was greeted by Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes. The Catholic politician prayed before a crowd of thousands in thanksgiving for her life and freedom. Betancourt was abducted in 2002 by the rebel Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, while she was running for president. On July 2, the Colombian army staged a bloodless military operation and liberated Betancourt and 14 others. "Take care of those who are left behind me," Betancourt said, referring to the estimated 700 hostages still held in Colombia. "They need your strength, your hope and your life." Speaking earlier to journalists in Paris, the politician said she had "tried to maintain dignity" by meditating and praying, despite being bound and beaten by her captors. She added that she hoped to travel to Rome in August to meet Pope Benedict XVI, who had made several appeals for her release. "I know I talk with God and God replies -- people prefer to speak about the force of circumstances, rather than miracles, but I think miracles happen to everyone all the time," said the ex-hostage, who also holds French citizenship. "I have to do two things: forget and find spiritual peace, and be able to forgive. When I do this, I'll also have to recall my memories. But perhaps, in time, these won't be so painful."

God bless her and her family! We need to continue to pray for those still held in captivity as well.

Salesian selected to be at Pope's boat-a-cade arrival

I found this story at the CNA and was so happy to see it! Sister Maryanne is a wonderful Salesian and we traveled together to World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany back in 2005. She may hold the record for attendance at WYD: she has attended 7 of these events! Here is the story, written by Cecile San Agustin, from CNA:

North Haledon, NJ.- Salesian Sister MaryAnn Schaefer, admissions director at Mary Help of Christian Academy in North Haledon, NJ, couldn't dream of a better place to celebrate her 25th jubilee as a religious sister than at World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.

WYD in Sydney will be an especially unique experience for Sister Schaefer. She will be cruising on Sydney Harbor in one of the 13 boats escorting Pope Benedict XVI's "boat-a-cade" during the Pope's arrival July 17. By chance, she was picked for this opportunity as a member of, WYD's networking site.

"I received the e-mail on July 1 and I couldn't believe it. I had to have one of the sisters reread it to make sure it was real," said Sister Schaefer.

This will be her seventh WYD experience in which she has led young people - already attending WYD in Denver, Manila, Paris, Rome, Toronto and Cologne. And even though she is a WYD pro, Sister Schaefer still gets excited about these international encounters of seeing the Pope and most especially, bringing the young people closer to Christ.

"The young people just completely change seeing the Holy Father, if you saw the look on their faces," said Sister Schaefer. "They get a sense that the Church they belong to is something more than just their parish and they see the global Salesian community from all over the world and see how many young people are like them and are taught by Salesian religious (through the international Salesian community rally at WYD)."

This time around in Sydney, she will be leading 31 young people - many of them students, alumni and parents of Mary Help of Christians here and friends of the Salesians in Louisiana, Florida and the neighboring Newark Archdiocese and Metuchen Diocese. They will leave tomorrow for Sydney and will meet up with a group led by Salesian Father Steven Ryan, provincial councilor for Youth Ministry / Vocations of the Salesians of Don Bosco, which is based in South Orange.

To prepare for the pilgrimage during the past year, Sister Schaefer and the pilgrims hosted sharing sessions at St. Joseph Chapel on the campus of Mary Help of Christians Academy. At the sessions, the catechetical themes of WYD reflected on the Holy Spirit.

A special WYD cross was made for the Salesian contingent, which has traveled to every single participant's home for a week as a symbol of the journey for the community. According to Sister Schaefer, the cross will be coming with them to Sydney as the make their pilgrimage to the final Mass with Pope Benedict XVI.

In Sydney, the Mary Help contingent will be arriving right before WYD festivities begin which allows them to make a stop in Engadine, a city 45 minutes by train from Sydney, where they will serve in a nursing home run by Salesian Sisters.

Once WYD activities start, the group will evangelize the love of Christ as an "animating team" for catechesis sessions at Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Sefton, a suburb right outside of Sydney, in which thousands of English-speaking Catholics worldwide will gather together to share in faith.

"We will be leading a music group for the catechetical sessions and Mass," said Sister Schaefer, who said she is in complete awe of the opportunity.

During the three days of catechetical sessions, they will meet a host of international bishops - Bishop Joseph Aind of the Diocese of Dibrugarh, India; Bishop Denis Browne of the Diocese of Hamilton, New Zealand; and Bishop William Morris of the Diocese of Toowoomba, Australia, who will give a talk each day.

When the pilgrims return home, those who are students at Mary Help will be doing presentations each month on the 10 patron saints of WYD as a way to keep the memory alive and to pass on the WYD message to their peers.

Sister Schaefer said the experience of WYD has been a memorable part of her life as a religious these past 25 years. "Being part of WYD since Denver in 1993 has strengthened my personal relationship with Jesus, as well as my relationships with the young who I have been serving for the last 25 years. It has confirmed my choice of charisms, that of St. John Bosco and St. Mary Mazzarello, as a Salesian Sister."

In three years time for the next WYD, wherever that destination may be, she hopes to once again be leading young people on this journey of a lifetime.

Salesians Sister in America: Celebrating 100 Years of Working For the Young!

July 16, 1908 is the Official anniversary day of the first 4 Salesian Sisters arrival in the United States thru NY Harbor. Fr. Felix Cianci of St. Michael’s, Paterson, NJ, greeted the Sisters and provided them their first home in North America. As a former student of the Sisters and as a fellow Salesian I am so happy to be able to celebrate with them! May God bless them another 100 more years of service here in our wonderful country and all around the world!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Video News from WYD in Australia!

Here is the latest on World Youth Day from H20 News!

Three days to rest and another four to convene with the young people at World Youth Day. This is the program being followed by the Pope in Australia, his longest voyage and the largest event ever hosted in the history of Australia. From the Papal plane he gravely condemned the sexual abuses committed by priests and assured: “We will do everything possible to cure and find reconciliation with the victims.”

After arriving at the airport, the Pope was transferred by automobile to the Kenthurst Study Center residence, a formation center for the prelature of Opus Dei, where he will rest until the evening of July 16.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that the Pope is “absolutely tranquil and reposed.” After celebrating the Mass he had time to walk around, read his speeches, and talk about the preparations for World Youth Day, which he will be attending starting Thursday.

World Youth Day in Sydney has begun today and will be concluded by the Holy Father on July 20th. In his homily at the opening Mass, Sydney's Archbishop, Cardinal Pell, asked the youth to be faithful to Christ, whatever sacrifices such a choice may entail. Don't spend your life, he explained, without taking a position, thinking that it's better not to choose so you don't have to change the way you live. Tens of thousands of young people from all over the world were present, surprising the skeptic observers of secularized Australia. Tomorrow, after the Pope's arrival, World Youth Day will become even more lively.

You can follow all the activity from WYD by checking for updates at World Youth Day: Cross Media. They will keep their site updated with stories and videos of the events. Let's continue to pray for all of the young people gathered together in Sydney!

Our Lady of Ocotlán: Another Miraculous Image of Our Lady!

When I was a Deacon and still in Mexico preparing for my ordination I had the chance to spend a week in the missions. It was during Holy Week of the year 2000 that I first vistited Ocotlán. I was asked to go into a mission region of Ocotlán where there was no priest to help with the Holy Week services! It was a wonderful experience and I met such humble people there of great faith! Here is a very interesting story of the miraculous image of Our Lady of Ocotlán that I heard about when I visited there in 2000. It really is an amazing story and I am surprised that we have heard so little about it! Most of what you read below comes from the Santiago de Compostela website on Catholic devotions:

It was a serene time of day -- late afternoon -- near the Spring of 1541. The sun over the Mexican city of Tlaxcala was bidding farewell to this hilly capital and casting luminescent colors across a diminishing sky. Amid all this natural brilliance, Juan Diego Bernardino -- a poor native Indian -- climbed up the western slope of the hill of San Lorenzo (Saint Lawrence) and entered into an oak tree forest. In those days the trees ran alongside a cliff.

This tender-hearted soul had just drawn some water for his sick family from the Zahuapan River. His relatives had been one of the many unfortunates stricken by a terrible smallpox epidemic, that was claiming the lives of nine out of ten Tlaxcalans. Many of the villagers believed that water would cut their burning fever or even cure them. They had an extra high regard for the water of the Zahuapan, trusting it to have special medicinal properties for skin diseases.

Prior to embarking on this mission of charity, Juan Diego -- who worked for the Franciscan friars in the convent (monastery) of Tlaxcala -- had obtained their permission to do so. He had taken a water jar, walked down the hill from the monastery, filled up his container, and started walking to Xiloxoxtla, where his family lived.

Suddenly, without warning, an extraordinarily beautiful lady emerged from "out of nowhere" in front of Juan Diego. She wore a white tunic and a blue mantle, and her expression was most kind, attractive, and amiable. Upon appearing, she greeted Juan Diego by saying:

"May God preserve you, my son. Where are you going?"

Juan Diego was so surprised and overwhelmed by the sight of such heavenly goodness and beauty, he could barely speak. Startled and awestruck, he responded, "To carry water from the river to my sick ones, who are dying without remedy."

This answer charmed and pleased the celestial lady. She took delight in Juan Diego's concern, compassion, and ingeniousness, and graciously extended him the following invitation: "Come follow me," she said.

"I will give you another water with which contagion will be extinguished, and not only your relatives will be healed, but whoever drinks of it; because my heart, always favorably disposed to the destitute, can no longer endure seeing such misery without helping them."

Though a frequent journeyer to this area, Juan Diego had never before seen this "healing water" spoken of by this lady. Still, he sprightly followed his lovely benefactress to a ravine on the bottom slope of the hill. Here was a grove where our Lady revealed her fountain of Holy Water.

"Drink of this water as much as you desire, assured that through even the smallest drop, the sick will receive not only relief, but perfect health." A beautiful rendering of Our Lady of Ocotlán revealing the medicinal water to a reverently overjoyed Juan Diego.

"Perfect health?" How wonderful! Juan Diego thought, as he gladly emptied his pitcher of the water from the Zahuapan and refilled it with the marvelous water from this newfound source of medicine.

The beautiful lady had more to reveal. Before she departed and bid Juan Diego to be on his joyful way, she gave him a message to deliver to the Franciscans in the same Tlaxcalan monastery, where he worked. She instructed him:

"Advise the religious, on my behalf, that on this site they will find an image of me, representing my perfections. Through it I will distribute my mercies and clemencies. Once found, I desire that it be placed in the chapel of San Lorenzo."

The First of Many Miracles

With his benefactress' words singing in his heart, Juan Diego raced home to Xiloxoxtla, trusting, overjoyed, and unslowed by the heavy pitcher of water on his shoulders. As soon as he arrived, he attended to his family by giving them drinks of water from the kind lady's well. What followed overwhelmed them all and rapidly caught the attention of the entire village.

Just as the beautiful lady had promised, not only did his family's sufferings lessen, but they were completely taken away. Instantaneously all their pains vanished. The very moment each one drank the holy water, they all regained perfect health.

Beside themselves with joy, Juan Diego and his family quickly went outside to share their good fortune with their neighbors. News of this amazing occurrence swiftly traveled -- through "the native grapevine" of Xiloxoxtla -- along with the knowledge that the recipient of a "message from heaven" was among them.

Before he could retreat to a quiet place, or return to the monastery in Tlaxcala, Juan Diego was besieged with curious, faithful, and needy neighbors. They all wanted to hear for themselves the wonderful story of Zoapiltzin ("The Lady Woman") in the oak tree forest. Where was her miraculous spring? What did she look like? What did she say? Is she coming back again? etc.

While he told and retold the story of the apparition and the miraculous well, he administered the precious liquid to the townsfolk. Everyone who was sick or had a sick relation received a few drops, and unexplainably, just as the Zoapiltzin had assured, everyone who drank the water recovered on the spot.

Night set in on Juan Diego's "heavenly hospital," and before he realized it, it was too late for him to return to the monastery. Eager to fulfill his mission from above, he reluctantly went to sleep in his family's house, but arose with the first rays of dawn. On this morning, it didn't take much to rouse him from bed and speed him on his way. Everyone who drank the water recovered instantly. To read more about this wonderful story and the miraculous events please click here!

I think this story is truly amazing and it is one that most of us have never heard of! I am glad to have had the chance to hear of these miraculous images from my Latin American Salesian friends! Let's pray that as the miracles of our own day continue to unfold we might give them the attention they deserve!

Tony Snow: Catholic Man of Faith

I found the following article by Mary Kochan at the Catholic Exchange and it is well worth reading! I encourage you to read Tony's Snow's address to the graduating students at Catholic University in 2007 as well! God bless!

The news that Tony Snow, a Catholic convert and national media figure, had lost his battle with colon cancer in the wee hours of Saturday morning was not a surprise, but it was still a sad disappointment. He is survived by his wife Jill and three children. God comfort them.

Tony Snow always considered himself a very lucky man — even during his years of struggle with the same cancer that had taken his mother when he was 17. His gratitude for his many blessings bubbled out of him like a wellspring of joy and his joy was contagious. His was the very model of an integrated life — the same person in public as in private, the same person on Sunday as on Wednesday, and the same person playing as working.

He wore his Catholic faith unabashedly and without pretense and he was not cowed by political correctness from publically asserting the value and truth of the Christian faith and hope. So precious to him was the deepening of faith that accompanied his illness that he called the cancer, “the very best thing that ever happened to me, other than marrying my wife.” In a July 2007 article for Christianty Today, “Cancer’s Unexpected Blessings,” he dilated upon what he thought his illness had given him:

I don’t know why I have cancer, and I don’t much care. It is what it is — a plain and indisputable fact. Yet even while staring into a mirror darkly, great and stunning truths begin to take shape. Our maladies define a central feature of our existence: We are fallen. We are imperfect. Our bodies give out.

But despite this — because of it — God offers the possibility of salvation and grace. We don’t know how the narrative of our lives will end, but we get to choose how to use the interval between now and the moment we meet our Creator face-to-face….

[R]emember that we were born not into death, but into life — and that the journey continues after we have finished our days on this earth. We accept this on faith, but that faith is nourished by a conviction that stirs even within many nonbelieving hearts — an intuition that the gift of life, once given, cannot be taken away. Those who have been stricken enjoy the special privilege of being able to fight with their might, main, and faith to live — fully, richly, exuberantly — no matter how their days may be numbered….

The moment you enter the Valley of the Shadow of Death, things change. You discover that Christianity is not something doughy, passive, pious, and soft. Faith may be the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. But it also draws you into a world shorn of fearful caution. The life of belief teems with thrills, boldness, danger, shocks, reversals, triumphs, and epiphanies. Think of Paul, traipsing though the known world and contemplating trips to what must have seemed the antipodes (Spain), shaking the dust from his sandals, worrying not about the morrow, but only about the moment.

There’s nothing wilder than a life of humble virtue — for it is through selflessness and service that God wrings from our bodies and spirits the most we ever could give, the most we ever could offer, and the most we ever could do….

Through such trials [as a diagnosis of cancer], God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?…

What is man that Thou art mindful of him? We don’t know much, but we know this: No matter where we are, no matter what we do, no matter how bleak or frightening our prospects, each and every one of us, each and every day, lies in the same safe and impregnable place — in the hollow of God’s hand.

He declared numerous times, and ever more strongly as the disease conquered his body, that he put his trust in God, that surrender was the way to approach both death, and life:

It’s not just saying “God, it’s in your hands,” but understanding whatever may come afterwards is a matter of not trying to get God to do stuff for you, except maybe to mow down some of the barriers that separate you from God, because for all of us, our vanities get in the way.

Monday, July 14, 2008

St. Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch, NJ

I have been at the Seton Hall Institute for Clergy Formation this week. It was a great week to work on my Spiritual Direction skills (or to learn a few)! It was also a great week because it was right on the Jersey Shore! I took some pictures just to give you a sense of the place.

For more information about St. Alfonso Retreat House click here!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Welcomes Salesian Youth to Australia

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez visited Australia in April of 2007. He spoke to the World Youth Day (Melbourne Team) about the upcoming World Youth Day, Sydney 2008 and retells some of his previous experiences of Days in the Dioceses and the gift of hospitality. The video of his message is posted below!

The Cardinal was with the young again this week for the Days of the Diocese events in Melbourne with Salesian young people. He encouraged his young listeners to be open to the Spirit and to (1) be a friend of Jesus, (2) be people of prayer (3) be missionaries carrying the Good News of Jesus to the world. As hundreds of thousands of young people gather in Sydney let's continue to surround them with our prayers!

Tony Snow Dies of Cancer

Tony Snow, a conservative writer and Fox News commentator who cheerfully sparred with reporters in the White House briefing room during a stint as President Bush's press secretary, died early Saturday of colon cancer. Snow was 53 years old.

Here is a quote from Tony from the article Cancer's Unexpected Blessings:

Through such trials, God bids us to choose: Do we believe, or do we not? Will we be bold enough to love, daring enough to serve, humble enough to submit, and strong enough to acknowledge our limitations? Can we surrender our concern in things that don’t matter so that we might devote our remaining days to things that do?

When our faith flags, he throws reminders in our way. Think of the prayer warriors in our midst. They change things, and those of us who have been on the receiving end of their petitions and intercessions know it.

God bless Tony and his family in this difficult time.