Tuesday, June 30, 2009
The treatment for terminal cancer that Annapolis resident Mary Ellen Heibel took at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2004 and early 2005 worked beyond anyone's wildest hopes, wiping out malignant tumors in her lungs, liver, stomach and chest. Her doctor did not expect it, nor could he explain it.
Surely the outcome was remarkable, but was it - in the sense applied by the Roman Catholic Church in such cases - a miracle?
In a few weeks, a committee appointed by the Archdiocese of Baltimore will begin exploring that question, examining 11 witnesses, including Heibel, pressing her doctors, nurses and friends in an attempt to understand what happened. The findings gathered at the archdiocese's downtown offices will be shipped to Rome, and ultimately will bear on a campaign to have Francis X. Seelos, the 19th-century Maryland priest to whom Heibel had turned in prayer for help, canonized as a saint.
For only the fifth time in its 200-year history, the archdiocese has launched a test of faith and science to help the Vatican determine whether one of its own was not only exemplary in virtue during life but now has the power in death to intercede with God. In the end, it will be up to the pope to rule on whether Seelos is to join the men and women held up by the church through the centuries as models of holiness.
"Did what happened come about by the intercession of Blessed Seelos? That's what we have to discover," said the Rev. Gilbert J. Seitz, the judicial vicar who heads the committee, emphasizing that its job is not to judge the case but to gather information in a process akin to taking a deposition.
The Rev. William Graham, a canon lawyer and member of the committee, says the purpose of the examination is to determine what took place and whether it can be attributed to natural causes.
Heibel and her husband, John, parishioners at St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Annapolis, await word from the archdiocese on when they should appear before the committee to tell their story and answer questions.
In the meantime, they continue their weekly routine at St. Mary's of early morning prayers seeking the help of Seelos, the Redemptorist priest who in several ways remains present at the church where he served two brief stints in the mid-1800s. The German native beams from stained glass in the nave, watches from a photograph on a wall near the church office, sits in a statue on a bench in the garden. A chip of his breastbone the shape and size of a pinkie fingernail is preserved in a reliquary kept in the rectory.
For years Seelos - who also served as a pastor in Baltimore and Cumberland - has been a physical presence for Heibel, 71, a slim mother of four, grandmother of 11. In a brass necklace reliquary about the size of a silver dollar, the retired antiques appraiser wears a fragment of his bone no longer than the "L" in relic.
She has carried Seelos with her this way since early 2003, when she was diagnosed with and underwent surgery for esophageal cancer at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington. About a year later, doctors there found that the surgery had missed a cancerous lymph node. So began a seven-week, five-day-a-week regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.
She prayed with Seelos. She asked fellow parishioners to do the same.
For the rest of the story please click here.
Monday, June 29, 2009
Priest not born of an Angel
says Fr Jozo Zovko ofm:
“A priest is not born of an angel but of
a mother. He is chosen from amongst the
people, is anointed with the Sacrament of
Priesthood and returned back to the people,
to the Church – into their care, their prayer
and their love. The priest is a sign of the
omnipotence of our God. Pray for priests.
Love them. Support them. Help them to be
holy. We are weak and fragile. If your knees
are not bent in prayer for us, we stumble and
fall. We need your prayer.” - Fr. Jozo Zovko ofm
Hat tip again to Fr. Anthony on this one!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This is pretty amazing... disturbing actually. In 2007 a five-strong team of police officers investigated a church's literature because someone said a leaflet inviting the public to an Easter service was "offensive".
Two mounted policemen were later joined by three armour-clad officers who jumped out of a police van to examine the Easter invitation leaflet.
This is something we need much more of! Hat tip to the American Papist for this one! I love seeing the reaction of folks to the sight of a procession like this. Wouldn't a procession like this, made in all of our parishes across the nation, bring an outpouring of God's grace to the people of America? Great job Our Lady Star of the Sea!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
I may have run this video in the past, but I saw it on the Catholic Fire and thought that during this year for priests it would be a good thought on vocations. God bless these monks in their formation of their new monastery!
Friday, June 26, 2009
In a short letter addressed to all Salesians, the Rector Major officially announces the celebration of the centennial of the death of the first successor of Don Bosco, Blessed Michael Rua. The commemorative year will begin on January 31, 2010, and conclude on the same day in 2011, the day on which “Father Rua took the tiller, to continue the journey on which the Founder had embarked,” following Don Bosco’s death in 1888.
As Father Chavez points out, for the Salesians 2010 will be “a continuation of this present jubilee year; it will help us to bring to fuller maturity our consecrated Salesian vocation.”
The Rector Major indicates for the Salesians three “focal points” to be borne in mind for spiritual and pastoral planning for the coming year, at personal, community, and province level. He promises to develop them further in a future letter.
Father Rua, “the faithful disciple of Jesus in the footsteps of Don Bosco,” is for each Salesian the model for “preserving fidelity to the vocation of consecration,” a fidelity which needs nourishing by drawing “deeply from the wells of the life of the disciple and the apostle, from the fountains of fidelity to our vocation: Sacred Scripture, through lectio divina and the Eucharist.”
The second “point” indicated by Father Chavez is inspired by the commitment Father Rua assumed: “In Mirabello I shall try to be Don Bosco.” The Salesian Constitutions, whose importance and spirit need to be rediscovered, are the point of reference in order to be Don Bosco today, the role being asked of every Salesian.
The last point starts from the passion which the first successor of Don Bosco had for Da mihi animas. “The mission called him to respond to the needs of the young and to find pastoral ways suited to reaching them with the proclamation of the gospel,” the Rector Major says, inviting Salesians to take up the commitment to the evangelization of the young as the last general chapter requested and according to the strenna for 2010.
The celebration of the first centennial of the death of Father Rua—the Rector Major points out in his short letter—ought to help Salesians to be “conscious of the historical situation, that from the death of Don Bosco until our own days, the Congregation has had a great and significant development, taking steps forward, having second thoughts, making fresh starts, reflecting deeply. The identity of the Congregation can be understood better, in fact, through its history, knowing the forms and expressions it has assumed at different times and in different places.”
Thursday, June 25, 2009
This is a pretty timely film that we should all try to see. A drama set in 1986 Iran and centered on a man, Sahebjam (Jim Caviezel), whose car breaks down in a remote village and enters into a conversation with Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who relays to him the story about her niece, Soraya (Mozhan Marnò), whose arranged marriage to an abusive tyrant had a tragic ending.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
The Tigers won their sixth national championship Wednesday night, defeating Texas 11-4 in the deciding game of the College World Series championship series at Rosenblatt Stadium.
After striking out Texas center fielder Connor Rowe to end the game, LSU pitcher Louis Coleman threw his glove high into the air and was tackled by catcher Micah Gibbs. It didn't take long for the rest of the LSU players to join the dog pile on the mound.
It is the first national championship for LSU coach Paul Mainieri, a former Tigers player, who was hired in 2006 to return the program to prominence.
The Tigers blew a 4-0 lead against the Longhorns, but scored five times in the sixth inning to blow the game open.
For more on this story check out Deacon Greg's blog.
Father Kapaun, was born in Pilsen, Kansas in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas on Holy Thursday, April 20, 1916. He was ordained as a Priest for the Diocese on June 9, 1940 and entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944. Separated from the service in 1946, he re-entered the Army in 1948 and was sent to Japan the following year. In July of 1950 Father Kapaun was ordered to Korea. On November 2 of that same year he was taken as a prisoner of war.
In the seven months in prison, Father Kapaun spent himself in heroic service to his fellow prisoners without regard for race, color or creed. To this there is testimony of men of all faiths. Ignoring his own ill health, he nursed the sick and wounded until a blood clot in his leg prevented his daily rounds. Moved to a so-called hospital, but denied medical assistance, his death soon followed on May 23, 1951.
The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun's canonization. In 1993, it was announced that Fr. Kapaun would receive the title of "Servant of God".
"The Lord wants us to be saints," he affirmed, "in other words, entirely his, not concerned with building a career that is interesting and comfortable in human terms, not seeking success and the praise of others, but entirely dedicated to the good of souls, ready to do our duty unto the end, aware of being 'useful servants' and happy to offer our poor contribution to the spreading of the Gospel." Pope Benedict to Priests
Benedict XVI is urging priests to not become resigned to empty confessionals, but to help people rediscover the beauty of the sacrament by deepening their understanding of the Eucharist.
The Pope stated this in a letter to the priests of the world, on the occasion of the Year for Priests, which begins Friday in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars.
The saint "taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life," the Pontiff affirmed. "It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament."
He taught them about the Eucharist, but it was "most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass," the Holy Father said.
He added that the saint "was convinced that the fervor of a priest's life depended entirely upon the Mass" and "was accustomed, when celebrating, also to offer his own life in sacrifice."
This identification with the sacrifice of the Cross led him from the altar to the confessional, Benedict XVI affirmed.
He continued: "Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this sacrament. In France, at the time of the Cure of Ars, confession was no more easy or frequent than in our own day, since the upheaval caused by the revolution had long inhibited the practice of religion.
"Yet he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the Sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence.
"He thus created a 'virtuous' circle."
Hospital for souls
The Pope explained that St. John Mary spent long hours in church before the tabernacle, inspiring the faithful "to imitate him by coming to visit Jesus with the knowledge that their parish priest would be there, ready to listen and offer forgiveness."
Over time, he said, penitents started coming from all over the country, and the priest would be in the confessional for up to 16 hours a day.
Thus, the Pontiff said, his parish became known as "a great hospital of souls."
He quoted the saint who said: "It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him."
The Holy Father urged priests to learn from St. John Mary Vianney to "put our unfailing trust in the Sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the center of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the 'dialogue of salvation,' which it entails."
He noted that "those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God's forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the 'flood of divine mercy' which sweeps everything away by its vehemence."
"He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God's own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor," Benedict XVI stated.
He continued, "To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God's love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with him and dwelling in his presence."
The Pope affirmed: "In his time the Cure of Ars was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord's merciful love.
"Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of love."
He affirmed that the saint "sought to remain completely faithful to his own vocation and mission," lamenting that "a pastor can grow dangerously inured to the state of sin or of indifference in which so many of his flock are living."
The Pontiff noted the priest's sacrifices on behalf of the souls who came to him in confession, quoting his words to another confrere: "I will tell you my recipe: I give sinners a small penance and the rest I do in their place."
"Souls have been won at the price of Jesus' own blood," the Holy Father stated, "and a priest cannot devote himself to their salvation if he refuses to share personally in the 'precious cost' of redemption."
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Monday, June 22, 2009
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Earlier this week, members of the President’s Council on Bioethics were told by the White House that their services were no longer needed. President Obama’s decision was made and implemented in his typical style—gracious, pragmatic, and imprudent. According to the New York Times, the council was disbanded because it was designed by the Bush administration to be “a philosophically leaning advisory group” that favored discussion over developing a shared consensus. The new bioethics commission appointed by Obama will have a new mandate to offer “practical policy options.”
In other words, the Obama administration already knows where it stands on all those pesky moral issues like human cloning, chimeras, and euthanasia, and just needs a group to provide advice on how to implement its preferred policies. Whereas the previous councils wrestled with such questions as “What is the nature of human dignity?” the new one will most likely be addressing more practical policy options, such as “How much should we pay women to harvest their eggs for cloning?”
During his trip today to the town where St. Padre Pio lived and ministered, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass, visited a house dedicated to caring for the suffering and the tomb of the famous Italian saint. At the tomb of Padre Pio, the Pope recalled the devotion that the Capuchin saint, canonized in 2002, had to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
"All his life,“ the Pope said, "his apostolate took place under the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin and by the power of her intercession. Even the House for the Relief of Suffering he considered to be the work of Mary, 'Health of the sick.'"
"To the intercession of Our Lady and St. Pio of Pietrelcina, " he continued, "I would like to entrust the Special Year for Priests, which I opened last Friday on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May it be a privileged opportunity to highlight the value of the mission and holiness of priests, to serve the Church and humanity in the third millennium!"
The Holy Father also briefly recalled the U.N.'s World Day for Refugees, held yesterday.
"There are many people who seek refuge in other countries fleeing from situations of war, persecution and natural disasters, and hosting them poses many difficulties, but is nevertheless necessary,” Benedict XVI stated.
“God grant that, with the commitment of everyone, we do as much as possible to remove the causes of such a sad phenomenon."
This is a great article from Archbishop Chaput on the meaning of our faith.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father; God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God; begotten, not made; of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made.
We've said those words thousands of times at Sunday Mass. We know them so well that sometimes we don't think about them. But they're vital to what it means to be Catholic.
A man born of a Jewish mother is Jewish by virtue of his birth. He may be very religious, or lukewarm, or an atheist. But he's still, in a real sense, a Jew. Being Catholic is a very different kind of experience. Baptism is necessary to be a Catholic, but it's not enough as we grow in age. As Catholics, we become defined by what we believe, how we worship, and how actively we live our faith in public and in private.
It's not possible to be what some people call a "cultural" Catholic. Catholic culture comes from an active Catholic faith. Unless we truly believe and practice that faith, "Catholic culture" very quickly becomes a dead skin of nostalgia and comfortable habits.
When Catholics say that Jesus is eternally begotten of the Father and of one Being with the Father, we're joining ourselves to 17 centuries of Christian Faith. Those words come to us from the very first ecumenical council of the Church, the Council of Nicaea in 325. The Nicene Creed settled a long and important dispute over the identity of Jesus Christ and shaped the course of Western history.
Catholics have always struggled to understand the mystery of what it means for Jesus to be both fully human and fully divine. That mystery is the creative tension at the heart of Christianity. In the fourth century, a gifted priest named Arius tried to relieve that tension by claiming that "God begat [the Son], and before [the Son] was begotten, [the Son] did not exist." In other words, for Arius, Jesus might have a uniquely intimate relationship with God, but He was a creature like you and me.
Arius had a brilliant mind, and many bishops and scholars supported him. But in the end, the Council Fathers saw that if Jesus were created by the Father, He couldn't be eternally co-equal with the Father. And that means Christian revelation begins to fall apart. If God isn't a Trinity of eternally equal persons, then the Incarnation is false, because God didn't ultimately become man. And if the Incarnation is false, then so is the Redemption, because God didn't die on the cross to deliver us from our sins. What Arius proposed would have actually destroyed the entire gospel message of salvation.
That's why the Council of Nicaea described Jesus as one in being or one in substance with the Father. And that's why we say those same words every Sunday. The Nicene Creed has helped shape Western civilization's understanding of who God is and who man is. And over the centuries, it has had an impact on art, music, morality, ideas of justice and human dignity, our political institutions -- everything. Faith drives culture. What we believe shapes how we think and what we do. That's why what we believe -- or don't believe -- matters.
The Council of Nicaea demonstrates just how important an ecumenical council can be -- not just for the Church, but also for the world. Indeed, "ecumenical" comes from the Greek, oikoumene, meaning "the whole world." The Church has had 21 ecumenical councils from Nicaea to Vatican II, and many have been hugely important for the course of history. This would be a different world without Nicaea or Chalcedon or Trent.
Or Vatican II.
The Second Vatican Council didn't correct a new heresy or define a new doctrine. Nor was it merely the idea of John XXIII. Several cardinals had privately urged Pope John to call a council -- including Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, who later became the council's leading conservative, a man whom some reformers loved to criticize.
John XXIII set the goal of Vatican II in his opening remarks: "The greatest concern of the ecumenical council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously." To do that he wanted the council not to "reinvent" or "re-imagine" the Church, but to renew the methods, forms, and structures of the Church according to the needs of the modern world, always "recognizing that the substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way it is presented is another."
In other words, the Church today has exactly the same goal as in 1956: the proclamation of the Lord Jesus Christ for the conversion and salvation of the world, through the truth of the Catholic Faith. The methods and structures may differ, but the mission remains.
The genius of Vatican II was its scope. Over a three-year period, in 16 documents, it examined, purified, renewed, and reaffirmed nearly every aspect of Catholic life. In a very logical way, the council's four major constitutions give us a catechesis on the whole Christian Faith.
For example, Catholics have always believed that lex orandi, lex credendi -- in other words, we worship as we believe, and believe as we worship. So in 1963, the council issued the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy as its very first document, because our worship at the Eucharistic meal and sacrifice of the Mass is the cornerstone of our belief and of everything else that makes us distinctively Catholic.
In 1964, the council defined who and what the community of Faith is in Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church. Christ founded the Church before anyone wrote the first word of the first Gospel. The Church came first. The Holy Spirit inspired the Evangelists to write down God's Word fully and truthfully, but it was the community of believers that reflected on it, organized it, and interpreted it. The Church precedes the Bible, not the other way around.
In the last weeks of Vatican II, the council issued the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. The council's work was then complete.
Too many times over the past four decades, people have claimed to be the Church or to speak as the voice of the faithful and then acted or taught in ways that seemed to oppose what the Church actually believes.
When people say, "We are the Church," of course that's true. We're all the Church, because the Church is the community of the faithful. But a "community of the faithful" implies that there's someone and something we have the duty to be faithful to. We don't invent the Catholic Faith, nor do we own it. We receive it; we live it in community; we witness it to others; and we pass it on fully -- if we're good stewards -- to our children. That's what life in the Church means. And that's why it's worth reflecting on the content of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.
Blessed John XXIII often described the Catholic Church as the "mother and teacher of all nations." In opening the Second Vatican Council, he said that "the Church, surrounded by divine light, spreads her rays over the entire earth." That's what the Latin words Lumen Gentium mean: "light to the nations." That's what God created us to be. That's the reality of the Church we all belong to -- not some religious corporation or the Elks Club at prayer; but the glory of Jesus Christ alive and risen, and God's light to the world.
Not all of Lumen Gentium is easy reading, but it's worth the effort, because this document does a wonderful job of teaching us who and what the Catholic Church is. The Dogmatic Constitution presents the Church in a range of beautiful images from Scripture and Catholic tradition. Each of the images is important and true, but none can stand alone outside the context of the others.
The Church is a sheepfold of safety, with Jesus as the only gate. It is also God's flock, and also His tillage -- the land He cultivates to bring new life to the world. The Church is God's building, with Jesus as the foundation and each of us its living stones. The Church is the spotless spouse of Christ and the family of God. It is an exile and pilgrim in the world. The Church is also a sacrament -- a sign and instrument of communion with God and unity among men and women.
Above all, the Church is the mystical Body of Christ and the new Israel; the new, messianic People of God with Jesus as our head. It is the new royal priesthood, with all Christians living in fundamental equality through baptism, but like a family, having a diversity of duties and organized in a hierarchy of roles.
Religious and consecrated persons bear witness to the Beatitudes by living poverty, chastity, and obedience in a radical way. Laypeople, because they live in the daily secular world, have the missionary task of humanizing society and converting it to Jesus Christ. And the ordained have the vocation of service to the Church; feeding the faithful through the Eucharist and other sacraments; and teaching, sanctifying, encouraging, and governing for the sake of God's people. But all members of the Church have exactly the same call to holiness according to the circumstances of their lives.
Lumen Gentium reminds us that no one is saved except through Jesus Christ, and that the Catholic Church is the true Church of Christ, necessary for salvation. As a result, no one can be saved "who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it, or to remain in it."
But God is also a merciful Father; He seeks the salvation of all men and women. Therefore, Lumen Gentium also teaches that those "who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or His Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and moved by grace, try in their actions to do His will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience -- those too may achieve eternal salvation."
But perhaps the most moving quality of Lumen Gentium is the way it begins and ends with a person. It begins with the person of Jesus Christ as the savior of humanity and the meaning of history. And it ends with the person of Mary, His mother and our mother, and an icon of what we can all be -- and what the Church will be -- in her perfection. When we claim that "we are the Church," Mary's humility, obedience, fidelity, and love are what we should mean.
Last October marked the 43rd anniversary of one of the final documents of the council, Christus Dominus (Christ the Lord), or the Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops in the Church. The first line of the conciliar text reads, "Christ the Lord, the Son of the Living God, came to redeem His people from their sins, that all mankind might be sanctified." It reminds bishops that our first duty is to proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ -- to give up our own lives and live as Jesus Christ for the service of the persons in our care.
Vatican II described the vocation of bishops as a call to serve rather than a call to power. When a bishop struggles to put on Jesus Christ over his own sins and weaknesses, he begins to understand why the council talks about the pastoral office of bishops in the Church, and not outside or above it. Bishops have the same need for redemption as the people to whom we belong. The only difference is that God will hold bishops even more accountable because of the leadership to which He ordained us, and because of the graces of the office we receive.
Christus Dominus is a curious mix of housekeeping and theology. Much of the document deals with very practical matters -- redrawing diocesan boundaries, how long pastors should serve in parishes, when to ask for an auxiliary bishop, and the role of the diocesan staff. But all of the practical issues in Christus Dominus rest on the document's spiritual foundation, which comes from Lumen Gentium and the ancient traditions of the Church.
The early Church Father St. Ignatius of Antioch, no stranger to Church controversy, reminded and cautioned Christians that "those [who] belong to God and to Jesus Christ -- they are with the bishop."
Every bishop is a successor to the apostles and a pastor of souls. He has the duty to safeguard the liturgical life of the local Church. He must proclaim the gospel and teach the true Catholic faith in his diocese. Every bishop should give an example of personal sanctity in charity, humility, and simplicity of life. He should help the poor and suffering. He has the obligation to sanctify, encourage, correct, and govern the local people of God. And above all, every bishop needs to do these things with fatherly love and fraternal charity, because the Church is a family -- a family of faith -- not a political party or an impersonal institution.
This is why bishops are always so reluctant to excommunicate anybody, even a grave public criminal or a Catholic public official who directly opposes Church teaching on a serious matter. A good father will do almost anything, and bear almost any insult or burden, to keep his daughter or son in the family.
And he owes that same fidelity to his priests. Vatican II commands bishops to support their priests, and to treat them as sons and brothers. In Catholic teaching, a priest shares intimately in the mission of his bishop through the Sacrament of Orders. A priest is never simply an "employee" of the Church, and the bishop is forbidden to treat him that way.
For the rest of the story please click here.
Saturday, June 20, 2009
The Congregation for Clergy is launching a new Web site for the Year for Priests, which begins today. The enthusiasm surrounding this occasion is echoing in initiatives across the globe.
A letter from Cardinal Cláudio Hummes, prefect of the congregation, expressed the hope that "this may be a time of grace that will produce great apostolic fruit, especially of fidelity and intense renewal in the work of the ministry."
He explained that their new site offers spiritual resources and documents for priests and lay people to celebrate the year, in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
The cardinal affirmed that the Year for Priests "has been warmly received throughout the world" and the "positive effects will make themselves felt very quickly."
He invited ordained ministers to "participate in it with every effort and creativity" and to "be unconditional disciples and audacious missionaries" for Christ.
Another initiative was organized by WorldPriest, a group of Catholic communications professionals based on both the United States and Ireland.
In addition to online resources, the group coordinated four Masses which will be celebrated on different points of the globe today, uniting English-speaking Catholic communities to pray for priests.
Each Mass will take place at 3 p.m. local time, beginning with one in Sydney, Australia, celebrated by the archbishop of that city, Cardinal George Pell.
Next, Carmelite Father Sebastian Koodappattu will preside over a Mass in Kerala, India, followed by Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam in Ireland's Knock Shrine. Monsignor Michael Curran will complete the circle with a Eucharistic Celebration in New York.
In addition, a special Mass will be televised by WorldPriest on Sunday in honor of the World Day of Prayer for Priests, which the group promotes every year.
Father Brendan Kilcoyne, president of St. Jarlath's College in Tuam will preside over this Mass that will be broadcast by the RTE national television station.
National initiatives in England and Wales are available through the new online portal created by the bishops' conference there.
This Web site contains resources for priests, and allows users to browse through the online offerings of each of the 22 dioceses in the conference.
Thus, for example, one can access the new Web site from the Archdiocese of Birmingham that features a multimedia "virtual seminary," posters, prayer cards, priestly testimonials and a seminary blog.
Father Eddie Clare, committee chairman of the National Office for Vocation, affirmed that one important outcome of this year will be a "renewed emphasis on vocations."
He added, "The more we value our priests and their irreplaceable presence at the heart of the Church, more men may consider that this may be their calling in life."
One institution that is offering visual demonstrations of the irreplaceable role of priestly ministry is the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
In a new Web site launched for the Year for Priests, it is featuring slide show presentations about its ordained alumni and the ways they have served the Church.
The year will run until June 19, 2010, and will center on the theme: "Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of Priests."
Friday, June 19, 2009
LSU starter Anthony Ranaudo threw six shutout innings, and the Tigers pounded Arkansas with 15 hits including four home runs to advance to the College World Series championship final, 14-5, over Arkansas on Friday.
The margin tied LSU's second-largest in College World Series history.
LSU (54-16) won its 13th-straight game and will face either Texas or Arizona State on Monday at 6 p.m. CT. The championship final is a best-of-three series broadcast live on ESPN.
The five-time national champions have never played in the championship series, as the format was adopted in 2003.
Ranaudo (11-3) dominated the Razorbacks, needing only 78 pitches including only 19 balls to get through six innings. He struckout five and was nearly untouchable.
Offensively, LSU opened a 4-0 lead in the third inning and never looked back. The Tigers added solo homers by Blake Dean, Jared Mitchell and Ryan Schimpf, and a two-run shot by pinch hitter Tyler Hanover in the ninth.
On the eve of Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the tomb of Padre Pio, Brother Francesco Dileo, Rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, where the Pope will celebrate Mass this Sunday, said his visit will encourage the faithful to imitate the saint from Pietrelcina and thus follow Christ with more devotion.
In an interview with L’Osservatore Romano, the rector noted how “Padre Pio once said, ‘I will make more noise dead than alive.’ And in fact, the number of pilgrims is much higher compared to the end of 1968,” with some seven million visiting the shrine annually.
Speaking about the number of faithful who come to San Giovanni Rotondo to pray to the saint for a miracle, Brother Dileo said he receives an enormous amount of letters from people praying for Padre Pio’s intercession. The letters are directly addressed to Padre Pio, “as if he were still alive, to ask for some physical or spiritual healing,” the brother said.
“I am firmly convinced that the grace of God that touches the hearts of men and makes the faith blossom and be reborn continues to work in this place, even after the death of Padre Pio,” he said. “I think it is difficult to encounter the life of this saint without sensing a desire to renounce sin and change one’s conduct.”
Referring to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit this coming Sunday, Brother Dileo said, “The picture of Benedict XVI in prayer in front of the remains of our beloved brother saint will certainly be more eloquent than many words.”
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Jesus Prayer for Priests
Father, I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belong to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Keep them in your name that you have given me so that they may be one just as we are one.
I gave them your word, and the world hated them because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from evil. Consecrate them in truth. As you sent me into the world, so I send them into the world.
I pray not only for them but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one as you, Father, are in me and I am in you, that they also may be one in us that the world may believe that you sent me.
Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that the love with which you love me may be in them and I may be in them. (John 17)
All Catholics are encouraged to remember their priests through prayer, the celebration of the Mass, and Eucharistic adoration on June 19 and throughout the Year for Priests.
For more information on the year for priests please click here and here.
Also, to learn about the Plenary Indulgence for the Year for Priests please click here.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
St. Gregory Barbarigo was born in 1625, of a very old and distinguished Venetian family. A brilliant student, he embraced a diplomatic career and accompanied the Venetian Ambassador, Contarini, to the Congress of Munster in 1648. Then he became a priest and was soon thereafter consecrated as the first Bishop of Bergamo by Pope Alexander VII. Later on he was elevated to the rank of Cardinal and also given authority over the diocese of Padua. He guided his flock with pastoral wisdom and deep understanding. St. Gregory Barbarigo worked unceasingly in carrying out the reforms set forth by the Council of Trent. Through his efforts the seminaries of both Bergamo and Padua were substantially enlarged. At Padua he also added a library and a printing press. He died in 1697. His feast day is June 18th.
How is freedom born? The trailer for a new documentary being released by the Acton Institute that tells the story of how modern understandings of individual liberty were developed. Check out http://www.thebirthoffreedom.com for information about premieres and related materials.
The American founders said that all men are created equal and are endowed with certain unalienable rights. That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They called this a self evident truth. 87 years later, Abraham Lincoln reaffirmed this idea on the Civil War battlefield of Gettysburg. And in 1963 these same words echoed from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial as Martin Luther King, Jr. urged America to fulfill the promise of its founding.
But humans are separated by enormous differences in talent and circumstance. Why would anyone believe that all men are created equal? That all should be free? That all deserve a voice in choosing their leaders? Why would any nation consider this a self-evident truth?
For the millions around the world who have never tasted liberty the question cries for an answer.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Homers by centerfielder Mikie Mahtook, shortstop Austin Nola and designated hitter Blake Dean, as well as a solid performance by starter Louis Coleman, paced No.1 LSU to a 9-1 victory over Arkansas in the second round of the College World Series Monday night at Rosenblatt Stadium.
The Tigers (53-16) extended their winning streak to 12 straight games and will play again Friday at 1 p.m. CT against the winner of Wednesday’s elimination game between Arkansas (40-23) and Virginia (49-14-1).
For the rest of the story click the LSU Sports Net.
Benedict XVI is warning of a "serpentine secularization" that penetrates the Church and is manifested in "formal and empty Eucharistic worship."
The Pope celebrated the feast of Corpus Christi today in Rome, presiding over Mass in the Basilica of St. John Lateran and then processing with the Blessed Sacrament to the Basilica of St. Mary Major.
In his homily, the Holy Father illustrated the importance of faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, telling the thousands of pilgrims that this faith "cannot be taken for granted."
"Today there arises the risk of a serpentine secularization even within the Church, which can convert into a formal and empty Eucharistic worship, in celebrations lacking this participation from the heart that is expressed in veneration and respect for the liturgy," he cautioned.
According to the Pontiff, "the temptation is always strong to reduce prayer to superficial and hurried moments, letting oneself be carried away by earthly activities and worries."
And nevertheless, he added, the Eucharist is "the bread of eternal life of the new world that is given us today in the holy Mass, so that starting now the future world begins in us."
"With the Eucharist, therefore, heaven comes down to earth, the tomorrow of God descends into the present and it is as if time remains embraced by divine eternity," the Bishop of Rome explained.
He didn't hide his joy at being able to accompany the Blessed Sacrament along the path to St. Mary Major; he invited the faithful to raise up this prayer: "Stay with us, Christ, give to us the gift of yourself and give us the bread that nourishes us for eternal life.
"Free this world from the venom of evil, of violence and of hate, which contaminate consciences; purify it with the power of your merciful love."
Monday, June 15, 2009
As …for the televised Sunday mass at St. Louis Cathedral, it would be disheartening to see PBS strike “sectarian” programming. “
The Public Broadcasting Service (“PBS”) is poised to vote on June 14-15 on a revised programming policy for its affiliated television stations which, among other policies, would not permit them to air “sectarian” programs. Part of its decision will include a definition of “sectarian.”
PBS’ proposed definition appears to include such programs as “The Face: Jesus in Art” and “Walking the Bible”, but excluding programs which consist of religious services (such as the Mass).” (Archdiocese of New Orleans)
The Mass held at St. Louis Cathedral, which is televised daily in addition to the Sunday liturgy reaches people all across the greater New Orleans area, who otherwise would not be able to participate in the liturgy. This Mass is seen in prisons, nursing homes, and hospitals, in addition to many others who for one reason or another can not attend a traditional mass.
PBS has met with the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and states that the PBS committee-council would find community reaction to the above proposal helpful in their decision making process. If you or your staff have a reaction to this proposed decision, please send an email or fax to: Helen Osman, Secretary of Communications, USCCB at email@example.com or 202/541-3129 before June 12, 2009. We will forward these comments to PBS immediately.
For more information concerning the discontinuing of “sectarian” programming on PBS please see the Archdiocese of New Orleans Statement on the matter.
This week marked 22 years since President Reagan's speech at the Berlin Wall.
This column is written for, and addressed to, America's Christians only. Well, maybe devout Jews as well, but no one else. People of other faiths, or no particular faith at all, probably won't comprehend the looming danger or see anything to be concerned about.
But this is a three alarm, red alert wake-up call for people who are serious about their Judeo-Christian religion. The end of our religious freedom in America could be at hand.
Can you believe it? In "the land of the free, the home of the brave," the one country in human history whose original purpose was to create and preserve absolute religious freedom for all? The nation whose foundational documents, its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and its subsequent Bill of Rights, specifically guaranteed that government would absolutely keep its grubby hands off its citizens' freedom to exercise their faith however, whenever and wherever they choose?
I've always been awed by the incredible courage of the early Christians (many of whom were Jews). Human beings just like us, bound up in their cultures as we are in ours, who became willing to sacrifice everything – everything including their very lives – rather than repudiate or abandon their faith in God. They were tortured and persecuted in so many ways, but I think the most terrifying trials came in the Colosseum in Rome when Christian men and women were herded out into the arena, sometimes tied to posts, and left to be torn to pieces and devoured by ravenous lions.
"Speechless: Silencing the Christians," by Don Wildmon, lays out determined strategy of coalition of liberal secularists, homosexual activists and Fortune 500 companies
I still shudder when I imagine myself one of those fervent believers, just wanting to worship and serve God as I believe He wants me to, being forced to face the unreasoning, snarling beasts that will literally devour me, just because of my professed faith. Another reason I'm thankful to be living here and now instead of there and then.
But now that time is seeming less distant! Our new president, his administration, a Congress and much of the judiciary ruled by ultra-liberal, "progressive" and humanistic men and women, egged on and abetted by the ACLU, are actively making plans and devising bills that will force Christians to either obey the new laws, or be fined, jailed – or who knows? Perhaps physically punished, imprisoned, or worse.
You think I'm exaggerating? Think again.
We've already surrendered the freedom for our children to pray voluntarily at school. Teachers have been fired and students expelled for mentioning God in the classroom or praying before a game. Judges have been removed from the bench because they portrayed the Ten Commandments in the courtroom or in front of the courthouse.
The 9th Circuit Court agreed with one angry atheist that the two words "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance are unconstitutional and forbade schools in nine Western states to let kids say it as we all have since 1954. That odious verdict was reversed, but the battle goes on. The ACLU is intimidating cities, counties and states to remove all crosses and scriptures and Christian emblems from buildings everywhere in the country.
While school boards and the NEA are falling all over themselves to teach grade school kids about sex, make condoms available to teens and mandate courses that validate homosexuality – all the while seeking to assure that nobody mentions Jesus or God – these same powerful folks make accommodations for Muslim students, providing prayer rooms and "time outs" so they can practice their religion! More and more schools, bowing to pressure, are adding courses for American Christian kids to "learn more about Islam."
Iconographer Marek Czarnecki of Seraphic Restorations in Meriden, Connecticut, has graciously given the USCCB the rights to use the icon of Christ the Great High Priest during the Year for Priests. Any parish or diocese that would like to use the image in conjunction with this special year is also permitted to do so.
This icon (egg tempera and gold leaf on wood panel, 28” x 22”) is “based on a fifteenth century Greek prototype; here Christ is shown in Latin Rite vestments with a gold pelican over His heart, the ancient symbol of self-sacrifice. The borders contain a windig grapevine and altar prepared for the celebration of the liturgy of the Mass; in the borders are smaller icons of Melchizedek and St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney.” Incidentally, it is St. John Vianney whom Pope Benedict XVI, with the announcement of this special year, has declared the Universal Patron of Priests.
Czarnecki explains: “I wrote the icon about seven years ago [for seminarians and priests] to be able to see Christ in themselves, and themselves in Christ. We often hear that the icon is called a window; in this case, it’s also meant to be a mirror.” The Good Shepherd reminds the priest that he is to “lay down his life for his sheep.”
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Saturday, June 13, 2009
"The King's good servant, but God's first." -- St Thomas More
In a spirit of hope and Christian charity, OneNationUnderGod.org is launching a prayer campaign specifically focused on the conversion of Catholic politicians to further foster a Culture of Life in our country.
This effort will commence on June 22, 2009--the feast day of St. Thomas More, whom Pope John Paul II proclaimed the patron saint of statesmen and politicians. A 16th-century English chancellor who refused to accept King Henry VIII as the head of the Church of England, St. Thomas More held a passion for the truth that enlightened his conscience and led him to know that, just as man must be one with God, so politics must be with morality.
Many Catholic politicians support policies that reject a fundamental right to life. Although these policy makers have been indelibly configured to Christ and the Church through Baptism, by denying these basic human rights, they stand outside full communion with the Church.
In the 1995 encyclical Evangelium vitae, John Paul II reiterates what the Catholic Church has always taught: that lawmakers have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that contradicts humanity’s fundamental right to life.
Months ago, we discovered that 50 percent of Catholic politicians currently serving in the 111th Congress have accepted large donations from pro-abortion lobby groups while reinforcing their support for abortion rights legislation. These elected officials are deeply confused about Catholic teaching on the morality of abortion.
Catholic legislators who support abortion rights fail to recognize that legitimate social policy must be guided by absolute truth. Many of these legislators cite “primacy of conscience” to justify their support for abortion rights, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia. However, a properly formed conscience recognizes the essential truth of Catholic teaching—that human life is sacred and inviolable from the moment of conception until natural death.
Over the past few weeks, we have contacted bishops of these pro-abortion Catholic members of Congress, to shed light on the politicians’ pro-abortion voting records and the money they have received from abortion lobbyists. We have respectfully asked that they continue to minister to these lawmakers. Their spiritual direction gives invaluable insight to our Catholic legislators, reaffirming “that life is entrusted to man’s responsibility.”
Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput recently stated that “tolerating grave evil within a society is itself a form of evil.” He continued that, if “we claim to be ‘Catholic,’ we need to prove it by our behavior. And serving other people by working for justice, charity and truth in our nation's political life is one of the very important ways we do that.”
Through thespiritual gifts of our Catholic faith we invite you to join our Prayer Campaign for the Conversion of our Catholic Politicians who hold such great influence over the lives of the innocent. Specifically, we ask that you adopt a Catholic member of Congress and pledge a daily spiritual devotion for their enlightenment and for the continued inspiration of their bishop.
Through prayer we call on the power of the Holy Spirit to guide our Catholic brothers and sisters toward a more profound understanding and appreciation for human life. May He assist them in defending life in all its stages--therefore transforming the 'culture of death,' as described by John Paul II, into a 'culture of life.’
To view the list of politicians and bishops and to sign up to participate go here
This morning the Pope received the rector, priests and seminarians of Rome's Pontifical French Seminary. The institution, having been run for 150 years by the Holy Ghost Fathers, is now to pass under the aegis of the Conference of Bishops of France.
Having given thanks to God "for the work accomplished by this institution, founded in 1853, where some 5,000 seminarians have been prepared for their future vocations", the Holy Father highlighted how "the task of forming priests is a delicate mission. ... Future priests require many aptitudes: human maturity, spiritual qualities, apostolic zeal and intellectual rigour", he said.
"Those whose duty it is to discern and form [seminarians] must remember that the hope they place in others is, first and foremost, a duty they themselves must shoulder".
Benedict XVI then went on to recall that the change of administration "coincides with the beginning of the Year for Priests", due to be inaugurated on 19 June. "This", he said, "is a grace for the new team of priest formators from the Conference of Bishops of France".
In closing his remarks, the Pope expressed the hope that "during the period they spend in Rome, the seminarians may familiarise themselves with the history of the Church, discovering the true dimensions of her catholicity and her living unity around Peter's Successor, and always maintaining love for the Church alive in their hearts".