Monday, August 31, 2009

Texas Miracle



This is an amazing story! These 3 men sure were blessed by God. They come from a town called Blessing! Here is the AP story:

Three Texas boaters missing for a week were reunited with their families early Sunday after they were found alive, sitting on top of their capsized catamaran 180 miles from land, the Coast Guard said.

The crew of the Affordable Fantasy spotted the men Saturday night off Port Aransas and rescued them from their 23-foot catamaran, said Petty Officer 3rd Class Renee Aiello. A Coast Guard boat met them and brought them back to land, where emergency management services crews were waiting for them. They declined medical attention.

They were identified as Curtis Hall, 28, of Palacios; Tressel Hawkins, 43, of Markham; and James Phillips, 30, of Blessing, who owned the boat.

The three were reported missing Aug. 22 after they left Matagorda, about 90 miles southwest of Houston, on a fishing trip and never returned. Port Aransas is about 130 miles from Matagorda.

The three went to sleep that Friday night and were awakened by water coming in, said Shane Phillips, whose husband, James, was relaxing Sunday with his five children.

"They tried to start the pumps to get the water out," she told the Houston Chronicle. "They would not start."

They fired off three flares hoping to get the attention of workers at a nearby oil rig, but no one responded. The boat capsized that night.

The Coast Guard officials said they survived because they stuck with the boat. The men also rationed bubble gum and crackers and used a hose to suck fresh water out of the internal "washdown" tank. Fishermen often keep such a tank to wash fish slime off their boat when they are out in the salt water.

"It's not the cleanest, not the greatest and it tasted like diesel," Shane Phillips told the newspaper.

The Coast Guard had called off its search Friday after scouring 86,000 square miles of water without finding them.

"It's like finding a needle in a haystack out in the Gulf of Mexico," Aiello said late Saturday. "It's obvious they had a will to survive, and they did it for seven days."

Hall's fiancee, Rebecca Kern, said it was difficult to describe her emotions.

"It's just been a roller coaster of emotions all week, the not knowing, getting upset and fearing for them out there. We weren't going to give up," she said. "We knew they were out there on that boat and we had to bring them home."

Sharing the Word of God

Sunday, August 30, 2009

New York City Portrait

New York city portrait, HD time lapse, April 2006, music by Moby from Max Moos on Vimeo.


Thanks to Patrick Madrid for posting this one. Amazing! Double click it and watch it in HD on the full screen!

Doers of the Word

Saturday, August 29, 2009

A Townhall, healthcare and C.S. Lewis

Of all tyrannies, a tyranny excercised for the good of it's victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barrons than omnipotent busybodies. The robber barron's cruelty may sometimes sleep. his cupidity at some point may be satisfied; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with approval of their own conscience.
C.S. Lewis

U2 and GreenDay: The Saints Are Coming


Can you believe that Hurricane Katrina was already 4 years ago? I would rather not dwell on the pictures of destruction as we remember that terrible day in 2005. But, this video reminds me of New Orleans and the hope that we all have for the city and its future! Our Lady of Prompt Succor, pray for us!

Happy Birthday: by Flipsyde


This an amazing, sad, and moving video and song.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Harry Shearer: Does Obama care about New Orleans?


This is a posting that everyone who loves New Orleans should read. I think comedian Harry Shearer makes some great points and raises some very good questions.

British MEP Daniel Hannan talks about Freedom


Daniel Hannan is a Conservative MEP for the South East of England and author of The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain.

Reason senior editor Michael C. Moynihan sits down with Daniel Hannan, the Milton Friedman-loving member of European Parliament representing South East England, to discuss his infamous showdown with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Enoch Powell, his opinion of the British National Health Service, and what the Republicans could learn from the recent successes of Britain's Conservative Party

A Man for Our Season

The following Patrick Madrid article comes from the Inside Catholic site:

My first conversation with Archbishop Charles J. Chaput happened over dinner at a mom-and-pop Chinese restaurant in South Dakota in late 1990. He was the bishop of Rapid City; I was working for Catholic Answers and had been invited to conduct a weekend apologetics conference there. From that first meeting, I could tell immediately that I was in the presence of a truly excellent bishop.

"Bishop Charles," as all the Catholics I met that weekend called him with proud affection, personified "down to earth." He was not merely being polite; he clearly was interested and engaged with those around him, listening thoughtfully and offering insights, advice, and the occasional funny anecdote with an easy joviality that put people at ease, while always maintaining the dignity of his role as shepherd of the flock.

I was impressed with Bishop Charles's humility; his palpable love for Christ and the Church; his quiet, understated wisdom; and his obvious pastoral dedication to the spiritual and physical wellbeing of his flock. I've met many bishops over the years, and I knew from that very first conversation with him that I was in the presence of not just a good bishop, but a great man.

A few years later, Bishop Charles become Archbishop Charles Chaput when, on March 18, 1997, he was appointed the new archbishop of Denver. I can recall the profound disappointment among my Catholic friends in South Dakota, all of whom were truly sad to be losing their beloved bishop; and yet, at the same time, they were joyful for the Catholics of Denver, knowing what a great gift they were receiving.

As the years passed, I have watched Archbishop Chaput's pastoral ministry with great interest. My intuitive perception of him in 1990-- that he is a good bishop and a great man -- was continuously reaffirmed, especially by his courageous, outspoken leadership on critical life and family issues that form the front lines of today's culture wars.


But although Archbishop Chaput is an adroit and effective leader in the cause of proclaiming and upholding Truth, he always manages to engage his opponents with charity and respect, never talking down to people nor becoming rancorous with them, even when they do not respond in kind. His love for Jesus Christ shines through his words and actions as genuine charity for all those around him, including those who oppose the teachings of the Church.

In a recent interview, when asked if he ever became frustrated by the current cultural landscape and the public's seeming indifference to society's collapse, he responded in his usual forthright and courageous manner:

It seems human history has been a series of times of us not taking the warning signs seriously. I think the reading for the first Sunday of Lent this year is the story of Noah and the flood. They were eating and drinking and carrying on and the flood came. They just weren't willing to take the warnings that God sends us and I think it is true about our time that we are not taking the situation concerning the Church and the world seriously now. . . . I don't know what we can do about it except to be persistent in our preaching and in our continuing to give the warning and that God bring fruit from that if He chooses. We shouldn't give up.


More recently, as a way to further his commitment to preaching the truth to a world that is not inclined to listen, Archbishop Chaput authored the best-selling book Render Unto Caesar, in which he lays out a masterful blueprint for "serving the nation by living our Catholic beliefs in political life."

In one chapter, titled "Men without Chests," he offers this sobering insight into our cultural predicament, the result of the widespread tendency to ignore God's laws in favor of secularism:

A truly secularized United States would be a country without a soul; a nation with a hole in its chest. Such a state could not stand above tribalism in public affairs. It would become a tool of the strongest tribe. American belief in the sanctity of individual rights depends on a God who guarantees those rights and to whom the state is subordinate and responsible. And this view is not an opinion. It is the historical fact that provided the foundation for the rest of our public life.

"Secularism," he continues,

is a cult -- the kind of rigid separationism where the state treats religion as a scary and unstable guest -- hollows out the core of what it means to be human. It treats the most important part of life, the moral and religious, as a private quirk. It starves a nation's spirit. And it has never been a natural step toward democratic maturity. The rise of American secularism did not occur by chance. It didn't happen inevitably as a result of modern progress. As . . . scholars have chronicled, it came about through the intentional political struggle of secularizing activists in education, science, the media, and the law.

Of course, turnabout is fair play. Believers can push back.

Here we see the beauty of Archbishop Chaput's strategy for "serving the nation by living our Catholic beliefs in political life": He shows us how to "push back" without being pushy; how to engage the political process while avoiding the extremes of politicizing our religious beliefs and turning our politics into a religion. In short, as the title of his book quotes Our Lord's teaching, we must render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is God's.

St. Paul echoes this theme in Romans 13:7: "Pay all of them their dues, taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due."

As everyone who takes his faith seriously knows, being a faithful Catholic amid the tumult and temptations of the modern world is challenging enough. But to be a courageous Catholic -- the kind that Archbishop Charles exemplifies so vividly -- requires an unswerving commitment to always and everywhere "speak the truth in love." I thank the Lord with all my heart for this good bishop's good example.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Mother's goodbye saves her baby!

This is a miracle and an amazing story! Thanks to the milk of human kindness on this one:

When Carolyn Isbister put her 20oz baby on her chest for a cuddle, she thought that it would be the only chance she would ever have to hold her.

Doctors had told the parents that baby Rachel only had only minutes to live because her heart was beating once every ten seconds and she was not breathing.

Isbister remembers:

I didn’t want her to die being cold. So I lifted her out of her blanket and put her against my skin to warm her up. Her feet were so cold.

It was the only cuddle I was going to have with her, so I wanted to remember the moment.” Then something remarkable happened. The warmth of her mother’s skin kick started Rachael’s heart into beating properly, which allowed her to take little breaths of her own.

We couldn’t believe it – and neither could the doctors. She let out a tiny cry.

The doctors came in and said there was still no hope – but I wasn’t letting go of her. We had her blessed by the hospital chaplain, and waited for her to slip away. But she still hung on.

And then amazingly the pink color began to return to her cheeks. She literally was turning from gray to pink before our eyes, and she began to warm up too.

The sad part is that when the baby was born, doctors took one look at her and said ‘no’.

They didn’t even try to help her with her breathing as they said it would just prolong her dying. Everyone just gave up on her,” her mom remembered.

At 24 weeks a womb infection had led to her premature labor and birth and Isbister (who also has two children Samuel, 10, and Kirsten, 8 ) said, “We were terrified we were going to lose her. I had suffered three miscarriages before, so we didn’t think there was much hope.” When Rachael was born she was grey and lifeless.

Ian Laing, a consultant neonatologist at the hospital, said: “All the signs were that the little one was not going to make it and we took the decision to let mum have a cuddle as it was all we could do.

Two hours later the wee thing was crying. This is indeed a miracle baby and I have seen nothing like it in my 27 years of practice. I have not the slightest doubt that mother’s love saved her daughter.”

Rachael was moved onto a ventilator where she continued to make steady progress and was tube and syringe fed her mother’s pumped breastmilk.

Isbister said, “The doctors said that she had proved she was a fighter and that she now deserved some intensive care as there was some hope. She had done it all on her own – without any medical intervention or drugs. She had clung on to life – and it was all because of that cuddle. It had warmed up her body and regulated her heart and breathing enough for her to start fighting.

At 5 weeks she was taken off the ventilator and began breastfeeding on her own. At four months Rachel went home with her parents, weighing 8lbs – the same as any other healthy newborn. Because Rachel had suffered from a lack of oxygen doctors said there was a high risk of damage to her brain. But a scan showed no evidence of any problems and today Rachel is on par with her peers.

Rachel’s mom tells us, “She is doing so well. When we brought her home, the doctors told us that she was a remarkable little girl. And most of all, she just loves her cuddles. She will sleep for hours, just curled into my chest. It was that first cuddle which saved her life – and I’m just so glad I trusted my instinct and picked her up when I did. Otherwise she wouldn’t be here today.”

When a parent holds their baby on their chest, skin-to-skin, it is referred to as Kangaroo Mother Care.

The benefits for all babies of KMC are that they stabilize faster with skin-to-skin care than in an incubator (very few stabilize in an incubator well during the first six hours of life). KMC babies also have stable oxygen rates and breathing thanks to the steady regulation of Mother’s respiration. The heart rate is stable (mother’s heartbeat regulates baby’s heartbeat). The temperature is most stable on the mother – in skin-to-skin care mothers chest automatically warms to warm a cold baby, and mothers core temperature drops if her baby has a temperature.

Sleeping within an arm’s reach of baby (as long as a parent does not smoke) also regulates all of his physiological needs in the same way ~ they are kept steady thanks to Mom’s warm, even-paced body. We lose far fewer babies to prematurity, irregularity of breathing or heartbeat after birth, and SIDS all with the natural help of skin-to-skin holding, or Kangaroo Care.

Read More About skin-to-skin benefits for ALL babies (full term and premature) here: kangaroomothercare.com

New Documentary Exposing the Abortion Industry: Blood Money


This is amazingly tragic. I am left speechless from the trailer. Where is the soul of our nation?

A group of filmmakers have recently filmed a documentary that aims to expose the terrible reality of abortion, focusing on the financial aspect of the multimillion dollar abortion industry.

The film, entitled "Blood Money," includes numerous interviews with leaders of the pro-life movement, in which they lay out the facts about the abortion industry and the effects that abortions have on women. Learn more at
Life Site.

Hat tip to Catholic Fire on this one.

Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck on the real passion of American Voters


Interesting stuff.

Domincan Sisters can't build fast enough!


Very good news! God bless them! Here is the CNA story:

Though the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor are celebrating the completion of the construction of their Motherhouse, they are already near capacity, with 17 new sisters entering at the end of this week. The community has grown from four sisters to 99 in less than 13 years and shows no signs of slowing down.

The community of sisters, which has an average age of 26, was founded in 1997 by four Dominican sisters responding to John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization.

Though their primary apostolate is Christian education, they are open to other areas of evangelization as well, a fact evidenced by their new catechetical show on EWTN called “Truth in the Heart,” the multiple summer catechesis camps they host each year and their frequent vocation talks.

CNA recently spoke with the sisters’ vocations director, Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP, who credited the community’s tremendous growth to “God’s goodness and mercy” in providing “spiritual mothers” for the world. She also pointed to the example of John Paul II who “embraced all the world” and gave witness to truth, joy and suffering.


Drawing Women to the Community

Spiritual motherhood is what drew Regina Rispoli, 23, to Ann Arbor, Michigan from her home in Florida. She described the sisters as not only caring for the physical needs of God’s children but their “spiritual well-being as well.”

Rispoli noted that the sisters strive to live out their spiritual maternity by nurturing them through prayer and love.

“Like any mother,” she said, “they look at you with a love that is both unconditional and expects much - they expect us to become, with God's help, saints!”

Rispoli related to CNA her experience of how she knew she was called to be a spiritual mother. While she was visiting the sisters, Rispoli passed a statue of the Blessed Mother holding the baby Jesus and saw that beneath her mantle there were “children of all colors and in clothing from all over the world.”

When she saw Our Lady, she understood that the spiritual motherhood of the sisters is “to at once be one of the children under Mary's mantle, reaching up to Jesus, and to also offer that kind of hospitality to the 'children' God sends us, whatever age they may be.”

It was then that Rispoli knew her vocation. As she explained it, I “understood that I was being invited into that kind of motherhood.”

Another woman who will join the sisters this week is 21-year old Amanda Ayar who met the community in 2005 when she was invited to attend a final profession of vows. She recalled, “As soon as I saw the Sisters they all seemed to be glowing and filled with so much joy, and I think it was at that time that I knew in my heart that I would end up in this community one day."

Ayar noted that even though it hasn't been easy turning from the lifestyle the media offers, she had a longing for “something more than the world had to offer.”

“I'm so excited that it's finally happening. I'm finally becoming a Sister! I feel as though my longing to be with God and to serve Him always as His bride is finally coming to be and I'm very excited about that,” she exclaimed.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary consist of women from 32 states as well as Canada. Sr. Joseph Andrew explained that the sisters are drawn to the community because they are real, faithful and joyful. She added that women come because the sisters share a common, clear vision, place emphasis on the Eucharist and use Mary as the example for their spiritual motherhood. Finally, said Sr. Joseph Andrew, women are drawn because the sisters are “on Fire with the Love of Mother Church and all her children!”


Assisting with Discernment

To help the women learn more about the sisters, the vocations director explained that the community offers three 24-hour discernment retreats each year. Attracting over 400 participants from all over the U.S. and Canada, as well Australia and countries in Eastern Europe, she explained that the retreats teach them how to “open up before God in an all-night Eucharistic Adoration and then how to ‘unpack’ what He has been trying to say to them all along.”

Perhaps, Sister Joseph Andrew surmised, “it took the motherly love of the Sisters for them to trust God enough to begin to really listen to Him.”

When women express interest in the community, Sr. Joseph Andrew works hard to stay in touch with them to assist them during their time of discernment. “I walk with each one both prayerfully and through email,” she explains, saying that it helps the young women know that she cares.


The Motherhouse

On August, 29, one day after the 17 new women arrive to join the community, the sisters are planning to host an event celebrating the completion of construction on the final new additions to their Motherhouse.

The construction, which started last May, brought the total number of monastic cells to 100, explained Sr. Maria Guadalupe Hallee, OP, director of mission advancement. “If all 17 Aspirants enter, we will have 99 Sisters – again, we are at capacity.”

“In short,” she added, “we can hardly build fast enough to keep up with the growth of the community.”

To celebrate the completion of the latest phase of construction, the Bishop of Lansing, Michigan, Most Reverend Earl A. Boyea, will bestow a blessing on the Motherhouse. According to Sr. Maria Guadalupe, the celebration will consist of the Liturgy of the Word, a homily, the Litany of the Saints, and then the blessing of the people and of the building.

After the blessing, a few sisters will make remarks, followed by tours of the public areas of Motherhouse.

For more information about the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, visit: http://www.sistersofmary.org.

Another Salesian Saint?

The Following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

Father René-Marie Picron could be the next Salesian to be proposed as a Servant of God. In the view of the postulator general, Fr. Picron is the person in Salesian Africa today who has enjoyed the greatest reputation for holiness.

This appeal to Salesian holiness in Africa is more relevant than ever due to providential circumstances: the second extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Church in Africa (October 2009); the 150th anniversary of the founding of our Congregation and the special year dedicated to the memory of Blessed Michael Rua; fervent prepara-tions for the second centennial of Don Bosco’s birth; the pilgrimage of the saint’s relics; and the centennial of the arrival of Salesians in Africa (2011).

Father Picron was above all a great missionary. He completed his studies in the Salesian school in Ixelles-Liege, entered the Congregation, and made his first vows on August 29, 1924. In 1933 he was ordained a priest at Grand-Halleux, Belgium. He left immediately for the Congo. He was pastor at Kafubu, a few miles from Lubumbashi. He was the delegation superior for Congo, then provincial in Belgium from 1952 to 1959, when North and South Belgium, Congo, Rwanda, and Burundi made up a single Salesian province. It was Father Picron who energetically fostered the religious independence of the Congo.

So when the Central Africa Province was created in 1959, he made himself available for this province. Over ten years he was director, master of novices, teacher, confessor, spiritual director, province delegate for the past pupils, music teacher, and animator of various mission activities. When his health began to decline in 1972, he retired to the formation House in Butare, Rwanda, where he continued his special service as confessor and spiritual director until he died. His body lies in the gardens at the novitiate in Butare.

It will be up to the provincial, Fr. Gabriel Ngendakuriyo, to carry out preliminary investigations, and if these are convinc-ing, to present the Rector Major with a formal request for introducing the cause.

Vocation story of Pope Benedict XVI



When Joseph Ratzinger was a child, Cardinal Michael von Faulhaber of Munich visited his parish. Young Joseph was so impressed that he set out to become either an artist or a Cardinal when he grew up.

Those first impressions led to playing with the idea of becoming priest.

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger
Popes brother

"We had a small house altar, which our uncle had made for us. We also had paraments, albs that is, and tunicals. The seamstress who sowed the dresses for my mother and my sister, sewed these paraments, practically tunicals for us. It was great fun. And we paid attention to how it is done in church, to be able to re-enact it as accurately as possible."

The age of fun and games was over and soon the time came for big decisions. In 1939, at the age of only 12, Joseph Ratzinger entered the Freising seminary.

There he lived through the most difficult years of World War II. One of the consequences of the war was the interruption of the school year.

In 1943, 16-year-old Joseph was called up to duty, like all his fellow classmates and friends, and assigned tasks in Munichs anti-aircraft defense.One night, an SS official woke everyone up in the barracks where the soldiers were sleeping. Playing on their fear and fatigue, the official tried to convince them to enroll as volunteers in the SS. Joseph said no because he wanted to become a priest. The official humiliated and made fun of him.

Monsignor Thomas Frauenlob
Former dean, Minor Seminary, Traunstein, Germany

"He always said that his calling to become priest came very early. But it was in this confrontation with National Socialism, this huge lie which took hold, that he moved to becoming a priest." When we returned to Freising after the war in January 1946, his seminary was in ruins. Thats why the first task for future priests was to rebuild it.

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger
Popes brother

"Rebuild is saying too much. It was very seriously damaged, run-down and dirty. But there my brother and I helped rebuild it.

"They studied hard in the seminary in Freising and later at the University of Munich until June 29, 1951, when Cardinal Faulhaber, the same man that so impressed Ratzinger as a child, ordained him a priest in the cathedral of Freising.

It was an unforgettable moment that Joseph Ratzinger remembers as the most important day of his life.


Hat tip to Roman Catholic Vocations for this one!

Cardinal Bertone to priests: preach on confession!

This comes from the Catholic Culture site:

In a message on the occasion of Italy’s 60th National Liturgical Week, which is devoted to the Sacrament of Penance, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB reminded participants of Pope Benedict’s exhortation that priests should catechize the faithful about the Sacrament of Penance. Quoting the Pontiff, Cardinal Bertone writes, “Like all the sacraments, the Sacrament of Penance too requires catechesis beforehand and a mystagogical catechesis for a deeper knowledge of the sacrament: ‘per ritus et preces’ [through rites and prayers] … Catechesis should be combined with a wise use of preaching.”

“These days, the correct formation of believers' consciences is without a doubt one of the pastoral priorities because, unfortunately, as I have reaffirmed on other occasions, to the extent that the sense of sin is lost, feelings of guilt increase which people seek to eliminate by recourse to inadequate palliative remedies,” Pope Benedict observed in another remark quoted by Cardinal Bertone. “The many invaluable spiritual and pastoral tools that contribute to the formation of consciences should be increasingly developed.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Modern Lourdes Miracle

The miracle of Lourdes continues as a new modern miracle is reported at Catholic News Agency. Hat tip to Spirit Daily for this one! The following comes from CNA:

A woman who suffered from a severe nerve disease now no longer uses her wheelchair and has even gone for a run, after she visited to Lourdes earlier in August. The woman credits the baths at Lourdes for the ‘gift’ of her improved health.

Antonia Raco, 50, had been in a wheelchair for four years because of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. She made a trip to the shrine at Lourdes on August 5.

''Ever since I came back I have been walking, doing everything normally, and I've even run,'' Raco told ANSA.
Raco, who is from a village near the southern Italian city of Potenza, said she would rather talk about the change as “a gift, an act of mercy, rather than a miracle.”

She reported to ANSA that when she was in the healing bath at Lourdes, “I felt a voice encouraging me and a strong pain in my legs.”

On Tuesday, Raco will be examined by a specialist at the prestigious Molinette Hospital in Turin. The hospital’s specialist, Adriano Chiro, has been treating her since 2006, according to Italian news reports.

Lourdes, France has been the site of pilgrimage and devotion since the 1858 Marian visions of peasant girl St. Bernadette Soubirous at a grotto.

Following the guidance of the Virgin Mary, Bernadette scraped away soil besides the grotto until a spring of water began trickling out.

The spring produces 27,000 gallons of water every day. Many miracles have been attributed to the shrine’s waters and Our Lady of Lourdes

The 13th Day: The Movie of Fatima


This is one of those films you have to see when it comes out! I hope it makes it to North America soon! Check out the films website.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Amazing Life inside the Womb


This is really amazing... The video is very touching and the song will grab you as well. The song is performed by a family of six, conveniently called MuSix, performing their song "My Tears". Let's continue to pray and work for a Pro-life America! Hat tip to Catholic Fire for this one!

Cardinals tell their vocation stories

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Jim Caviezel on being Pro-life

The following is part of an interview of the actor Jim Caviezel on his pro-life position:

Part of what had spurred the adoption was a pro-life challenge. Could you share a little about that?

This guy I know said, 'You’re pro-life. Tell you what, if you really believe in what you speak, adopt a child — not any child, he’s got to have a serious deficiency,' (and I will become pro-life). He never changed his (position), but it convicted me. I don’t think he thought I would step up to the plate.

I was listening to Johnny Mathis the other day and I said, “What an amazing voice.” I have yet to hear another person sound like Johnny Mathis. How are we so arrogant to think the 51.5 million babies who have died in this country… Look, I am for helping women. I just don’t see abortion as helping women. And I don’t love my career that much to say, “I’m going to remain silent on this.” I’m defending every single baby who has never been born. And every voice that would have been unique like Johnny Mathis’. How do we know that we didn’t kill the very child who could have created a particular type of medicine that saves other lives?


You can read more of this at Catholic Digest.

Braveheart: One of the best movies!


This is a great movie... It still really moves me when he calls out the word!

Today is the anniversary of the death of William Wallace. He died on August 23, 1305.

How Starbuck's saved his life!


I came across this today at Spirit Daily. It is a really beautiful story of a man finding himself in God and service to others. The following comes from CBN:

You've heard of people going from rags-to-riches. Well, this is the story of the man who went from riches-to-rags.

Michael Gates Gill was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. And when he lost it all, he found true happiness -- with God's help.

Sweeping trash at Starbucks is the last thing the once affluent Mike Gill ever dreamed he'd be doing. But don't ask him to give it up.

"My story is irrefutable evidence that sometimes loss can bring a new found peace and happiness," Mike said. "Because I'm happier today talking to you right this morning as a barista at Starbucks than I ever was in the big six-figure job with the corner office and a big mansion."

The son of famed New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, Mike partied with A-list celebrities, attended Yale, and worked for decades at the world's largest ad agency, handling accounts like Ford and Christian Dior.

Then it was gone.

"I'd been fired from my job, I lost my big house, I was divorced, I was virtually broke, and I'd just been diagnosed with a brain tumor," Mike said.

When Michael hit rock bottom, he found himself brooding over a cup of joe. Well, Starbucks happened to be hiring that day, and when asked if he wanted a job, for some reason, he said yes.

And from that point on, after a lifetime of manipulating people, Mike began to realize that joy comes from serving, not from being served.

"We're made to try to find, with God's help, our own way to help others. Whether taking out the garbage, cleaning the toilet or simply serving someone a cup of coffee and seeing the smile on their face, and giving a little service to people that makes them happy and increases their joy of the day, really makes me happy," he said.

Mike felt newfound respect for people from different backgrounds, those he used to consider inferior. The surprises kept on coming.

You have to fall pretty far down the ladder to go from a 35-bedroom mansion to a one-bedroom attic apartment. But that's what happened to Mike Gill. But believe it or not, he actually prefers his modest surroundings to this.

And that's a third floor attic, no elevator, with just a few inexpensive furnishings inside. And Mike wouldn't have it any other way.

"It's like, you know how when you're going through the airport and you're carrying too much stuff, rushing to meet a plane? I was doing that. The Bible says you're possessed by your possessions. And now I don't have any possessions," he said.

On his way to finding that peace, Mike wrote a diary, which turned into the bestseller, How Starbucks Saved My Life. Now, Tom Hanks is turning it into a movie starring himself as Mike.

"He said he loved that idea that at any time in life, you could discover a whole new kind of life that would make you happier than anything you've lived before," Mike said.

So in the wake of losing your home, job, marriage or health, look for blessings.

"When you get external shocks, the best way to react is to take a big breath and go somewhere quiet and open your heart to God," Mike said. "And He will give you all the love and joy you need to have a happier life than you would have ever imagined."

Their Former Way of Life

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of a Civilization of Love

This is a book that I just picked up today! It looks like a must read! Here is the story from CNA:

A new book on Our Lady of Guadalupe intended to explore her history and her message of love has debuted on major U.S. bestseller lists.

“Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of a Civilization of Love” debuted at number six on the August 14, 2009 release of the New York Times bestseller list. It has also appeared on the bestseller list of the Wall Street Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.

The book is authored by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, and Guadalupe expert Msgr. Eduardo Chávez. It traces her history as a religious and cultural symbol from the sixteenth century to the present.

The Knights of Columbus held their First International Marian Congress on Our Lady of Guadalupe in Phoenix on August 6-8. The festival drew a crowd of 20,000 in what was said to be the largest Catholic celebration of the year in that area.

Carl Anderson is also the author of the bestselling 2008 book “A Civilization of Love.”

Msgr. Chávez was the postulator of Guadalupe visionary St. Juan Diego’s cause for canonization and is one of the most prominent experts on the Guadalupe apparitions. He is the first dean of the Catholic University Lumen Gentium of the Archdiocese of Mexico.

The web site for “Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of a Civilization of Love” is at http://www.GuadalupeBook.org

Friday, August 21, 2009

Aggie Vocations

Wow, I found this at the Opinionated Catholic site and I have to agree with him! As an LSU guy it is hard to applaude the Texas A&M program, but this is the exception! The Aggies seem to produce more Catholic vocations than anyone around. The following comes from Opinionated Catholic:

Because we should shout the good news from the mountaintop - here is an update on Aggie Vocations.

As of today, August 18, 2009, here are the numbers:


*Current Aggie priests/permanent religious = 128
*Current Aggies in seminary / religious formation = 42
*# of Aggies who entered seminary or religious formation:
2009 = 8
2008 = 7
2007 = 8
2006 = 14 (record number)

*For the last 12 years - average number of Aggies per year entering seminary/formation = 8.17

*2009 ordinations = 3 priests + 1 transitional deacon

*2009 religious = 2 final vows + 1 first vows + 1 entering novitiate
These numbers have translated into helping many orders and dioceses around the country. For instance:

The Austin diocese, one of the biggest pipelines from Aggieland, has a record number of seminarians for this fall = 46 (a record number for the third year in a row)!

The New Orleans province of Jesuits who has about a dozen Aggies.

5 Aggie in the Nashville Dominican sisters.

The only "vocations crisis" we have is getting all of the vocations directors in front of our students.

Gig 'em Aggie Catholic Vocations!

Aymond installed as Archbishop of New Orleans

Gregory Aymond Installed as 14th Archbishop of New Orleans
Archbishop Gregory Aymond, a son of Gentilly,
assumed leadership of the Catholic church in Southeast Louisiana on Thursday, pledging to an audience at St. Louis Cathedral "to ask God daily for the mind and heart of Jesus Christ, that I may be a good shepherd to you."

They were among Aymond's first words to the battered regional church of 380,000, delivered a few minutes after he stepped inside the cathedral to receive, first a round of rolling applause - and then long, unexpected and robust cheering from more than 1,000 invited guests.

Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, handed Aymond his shepherd's staff, the symbol of leadership, about 2:30 p.m., making official the appointment of Aymond, the first native son to head the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

In his first address to New Orleans Catholics, Aymond, 59, did not mention Hurricane Katrina, nor the travails of the church that four years ago suffered the loss of 20 percent of its members and $287 million in wealth.

Rather, he called the church to continuing faithfulness to God. And repeatedly he said God would respond, using variations of his own episcopal motto: "God is Faithful."

In New Orleans, the nation's second oldest archdiocese, "God has been faithful to us for more than 200 years," Aymond said.. "He has acted in our history and he will continue to do so."

As a New Orleanian familiar with local devotions, Aymond ended asking the special help of Our Lady of Prompt Succor, the Catholic patroness of the city, and St. Louis King of France, the saint whose memory the cathedral honors.


He offered some lighter moments, though.

"Please be nice to me," he began. "My mother would want that."

Aymond remarked that he now becomes one of four living New Orleans archbishops, dating back to legendary Philip Hannan, who ordained Aymond a priest 34 years ago and who at 96, sat nearby.

For the rest of the story please click here.

US Vocations Choosing Traditional Orders

This is a study of interest to all of us who are working to foster more vocations to the Church. The study was conducted by CARA and I found it posted at Zenit:

Vocations in the United States are attracted to religious congregations by the example of the members, particularly by their testimony of joy, a down-to-earth attitude, commitment and zeal.

This was affirmed in a recently released report from Georgetown University's Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. The report on "Recent Vocations to the Religious Life" was prepared for last week's National Religious Vocation Conference, which took place in New Orleans.

In the study that surveyed new members of the various religious orders and institutes, 85% said that they chose a particular community because they were "very much" attracted by the example its members.

Of these new vocations, some three-fourths reported that they initially felt drawn to religious life by a sense of a call and the desire for spiritual growth.

The research, which was conducted over the past year with institutes representing 80% of all religious in the country, shows that the groups that are most successful in attracting and retaining new members follow a more traditional style of religious life.

In this style, "members live together in community and participate in daily Eucharist, pray the Divine Office, and engage in devotional practices together."

As well, the report continued, they "wear a religious habit, work together in common apostolates, and are explicit about their fidelity to the Church and theteachings of the Magisterium."

"All of these characteristics are especially attractive to the young people who are entering religious life today," it affirmed.

Generation gap

One aspect of religious life that most attracted these new members, according to the report, is common prayer. The majority stated that this is what also most sustains them now, especially daily Eucharist and the Liturgy of the Hours.

The research noted significant generational gaps in the communities, especially between "the Millennial Generation -- born in 1982 or later -- and the Vatican II Generation -- born between 1943 and 1960."

Younger respondents are more likely than older members to report attraction to religious life due to the desire to be "more committed to the Church and to their particular institute by its fidelity to the Church."

The report noted that many of these also said that their decision about a particular institute was "influenced by its practice regarding a religious habit."

In general, the U.S. religious are aging, with 75% of finally professed men and 91% of women reaching age 60 and over this year.

Overall, the majority of religious who are under age 60 are in their 50s.However, the report noted that although most groups are undergoing aging membership, a few institutes continue to attract new members and some are "experiencing significant growth."

On average, the new male members were 30 years old when entering an institute, and the females were 32.New energyThese new members are from a more diverse ethnic background than the current group of finally professed religious, which is 94% Caucasian.By contrast, the new vocations include some 58% Caucasian, 21% Hispanic/Latino, 14% Asian/Pacific Islander, and 6% African/African American.The majority of these, 68%, considered a religious vocation by the time they were 21, and 53% said that they thought about it before age 18.

As well, 27% of female respondents and 19% of the males considered the vocation even before age 14.Many of the institutes reported a variety of vocational and discernment programs, targeting young people in various age groups.

The most common programs are "Come and See" experiences, live-in events, discernment retreats, and mission or ministry activities.

However, beyond these programs, the study showed that the members themselves, and their example of living religious life, were the most important factor in influencing people to choose their institute.

Currently, there are at least 2,630 new vocations in the initial stages of religious formation throughout the country.The study noted that many of the religious expressed the hope in a "younger generation that they believe is bringing a new energy and optimism to religious life."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Salesian Bishops from around the world to meet

There are currently 119 Salesian Bishops and 6 Salesian Cardinals around the world. That is a great blessing to our congregation! This 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesian Congregation is prompting our Rector Major to call a special meeting of all Salesian Bishops to discuss the charism of Don Bosco! The following is from the Salesian News Agency:

A meeting of Salesian bishops, requested and organized by the Rector Major and his council, will take place at Valdocco May 21-25, 2010, comprising also the liturgical feast of Mary Help of Christians.

The frequent requests of Salesian prelates and the special post-GC26 moments which the Congregation is living through -- the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation (1859-2009), the centennial of the death of Blessed Michael Rua (1910-2010), and preparations for the bicentennial of Don Bosco’s birth – all this has moved Fr. Pascual Chavez and his councilors to organize another meeting with Salesians whom the Church has called to be pastors of various diocese around the world.

The meeting will look at the topic of the Salesian charism at the service of the Church; it will allow insight into the bishops’ point of view to help guide the Congregation in the current phase of the Church’s life as well as agreeing on possible cooperation in areas of common interest like education, the young, catechesis, and ecclesial movements.

The agenda for these days, still be put together, will include a visit to Colle Don Bosco and, especially, the cathedral of Turin, where the Holy Shroud will be exposed in the spring of 2010.

There are currently 119 Salesian bishops
.

New archbishop of New Orleans to be installed today

Bishop Aymond named Archbishop of New Orleans




Bishop Gregory Aymond takes over today as the new Archbishop of New Orleans! His installation will be broadcast online at 3 PM Eastern. For more on the story check out this link. Also, Whisphers has been following the story as well.

Pope Benedict: Proper formation is crucial to renewing the priesthood


The Holy Father spoke yesterday of the need for ongoing formation of clergy and the need for solid formation for seminarians. Here is the CNA story:

At today's general audience, Pope Benedict XVI looked at the life of St. John Eudes and the importance of ongoing formation of the clergy. Pope Benedict urged the faithful to pray for priests and candidates to the priesthood, saying that their proper formation is crucial for the renewal of the priesthood.

Benedict XVI presented St. John Eudes, whose feast day is remembered in the liturgical calendar on August 19, in the historical context in which he lived, that of the seventeenth century, a century marked by spiritual personalities of the caliber of St Vincent de Paul and St. Louis Mary Grignon de Montfort.

The Pope mentioned that St. John Eudes and the Curé d'Ars, patron of the Year for Priests, were canonized on the same day, May 31, 1925, by Pius XI, "offering to the Church and the world two extraordinary examples of priestly holiness.”

St. John Eudes ministry took place within the context of the teachings of the Council of Trent in 1563, the Pope explained.

That council “set out rules for the establishment of diocesan seminaries and the formation of priests. The Vatican was well aware that the entire crisis of the Reformation was conditioned by insufficient formation of priests, who were not prepared for the priesthood in the right way, intellectually or spiritually, in the heart or in spirit,” Benedict recalled.

The application and implementation of standards, the Pontiff explained, was slow in both Germany and France and so, St. John Eudes, who was a parish priest, founded a congregation specifically dedicated to the formation of priests. “The path of holiness, which was his path and which he proposed his disciples, had a solid foundation in trust in the love that God revealed to humanity in the priestly heart of Christ, and the maternal heart of Mary,” the Pope added.

The Holy Father recommended a particular saying of St. John Eudes to the faithful to help them grow in holiness: "Give yourselves to Jesus, to enter into the immensity of his great Heart, which also contains the Heart of his Holy Mother and all the saints, and loose yourselves in this abyss of love, charity, mercy, humility, purity, patience, submission and holiness.”

Turning his attention to modern efforts to improve the formation of priests, Pope Benedict noted Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Exhortation “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” which was issued after the 1990 Synod.

John Paul II's Exhortation “incorporates and updates the rules of the Council of Trent and particularly emphasizes the necessary continuity between the initial and ongoing formation,” Pope Benedict explained. “The foundation laid in the spiritual life is that irreplaceable 'spiritual school' in which we ‘learn Christ ' and allow ourselves to be progressively conformed to Him, the one and only High Priest and Good Shepherd.”

During this Year for Priests, Benedict XVI concluded, let priests and seminarians, inspired by the day’s saint, spiritually “enter into the heart of Jesus,” becoming men of true love, mercy, humility and patience, renewed in holiness and pastoral zeal.

After his address, Pope Benedict sang the Our Father in Latin with the faithful gathered for the audience.


For more on this please click here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Two Salesians make First Profession

This past Sunday my province of Salesians in the Eastern US was blessed by two first professions! Br. Mihh and Br. Paul will be wonderful blessings to the many young people they will minister to as Salesians of Don Bosco. Here is the write up from the Salesian News Agency:

When Bros. Minh Duc Dang and Paul Phuoc Trong Chu professed their vows into the hands of Fr. Thomas Dunne, SUE Provincial, at Holy Rosary Church in Port Chester on August 16, God’s smile went back at least as far as Deuteronomy 28:25. It seems he still likes to make use of the Diaspora.

Minh and Paul both came to the U.S. with their families in 1992. They both came from Ho Nai in Bien Hoa Province, Vietnam, but neither had met before they entered the Salesian formation program in the U.S.

The Salesian Province of Vietnam has been outstanding in recent years for the number and quality of its missionaries now to be found in all parts of the globe. Maybe God is rewarding this generosity in other ways too. Both U.S. Salesian provinces (SUO and SUE) have young men who have come to the Salesians not by missionary mandate, but because they have grown up there and been attracted to Salesian community and work. The same can be said also or the Australia-Pacific Province.

In Minh’s case, his vocation was given a helping hand by a brief visit back to Vietnam, which included catching up with an uncle, a Salesian priest there. He wasted no time contacting the Salesian vocation office in South Orange, N.J., on return to the U.S.

Paul was already moved to serve the Lord, first as an altar server, which had to wait until he came to the U.S. Active, then, in the Vietnamese Eucharistic Youth Society with St Dominic Savio as its patron, he was gently led to the Salesians. Fr. Dunne recognized God’s ‘pursuit’ of the two young men in these fascinating stories of their vocation, now reaching the point of their first religious profession.

Fr. John Corapi: The Mystery of Christ


This is a beautiful talk given on the mystery of Christ by Fr. John Corapi. The rest of the talks can be viewed by clicking below.
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Catholic Texas

Texas is really growing and the Catholic Church is growing along with the state! The Lone Star State is the place to be. Check this out from Whispers:

On a related note, every top-tier posting on the nation's appointment docket might now be put to bed, but the new vacancy in Texas' capital makes for a significant trio of Lone Star dioceses set to receive new chiefs.

What the three lack in prominence, see, they more than make up for in numbers, with each showing ever-expansive growth over recent years. Bottom line: it's all worth keeping an eye on.

Beyond the Austin church -- its membership doubled since 1990 -- Bishop Edmond Carmody of Corpus Christi (diocesan pop. 400,000, tripled from 1980) reached the retirement age of 75 in March, while the nation's most-Catholic diocese -- the million-plus Brownsville church, where Catholics comprise nearly nine-tenths of the Rio Grande Valley's inhabitants, all told -- likewise looks toward a successor for Bishop Raymundo Peña, who sent his letter over in February.

Its Catholic contingent likewise trebled in size since the 80's, the latter especially portends even more of a boom -- at the close of its first synod in 2007, fully half of the Brownsville fold was reported to be age 25 or younger, a stat one'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else on these shores.

All three fall in the province of Galveston-Houston, home to the American South's
first cardinal... himself still awaiting another auxiliary -- or, better still, two -- to help keep after his own charge, all 1.5 million of it.

At mid-decade, Texas' 5 million Catholics overtook Baptists to become the mega-state's largest religious group.

St. Helena and the True Cross


Today is the feast of St. Helena of the True Cross.  The above video is very interesting and tells us why Helena is always seen holding a large cross.  The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Converted to Christianity late in life. Married Constantius Chlorus, co-regent of the western Roman empire. Mother of Constantine the Great. Her husband put her aside for a second marriage with better political connections. On his death, her son ascended to the throne, brought her home, and treated her as royalty. She used her high position and wealth in the service of her religious enthusiasm, and helped build churches throughout the empire.

At the age of 80 she led a group to the Holy Land to search for the True Cross. She and her group unearthed three crosses in 326. At the suggestion of Saint Macarius of Jerusalem, she took them to a woman afflicated with an incurable disease, and had her touch each one. One of them immediately cured her, and it was pronounced the True Cross. She built a church on the spot where the cross was found, and sent pieces to Rome and Constantinople; the Feast of the Holy Cross on 14 September celebrates the event. Thus in art, she is usually depicted holding a wooden cross.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Divine Vocation


This is a beautiful vocation story video done by the Dominican Sisters in Summit, NJ. The religious life and monastic life is still drawing young people. Let's continue to pray for those who say yes that they might remain faithful!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Happy Birthday Don Bosco!

Today is the 194th anniversary of the birth of St. John Bosco! Our Rector Major Fr. Pascual Chavez is calling us to prepare ourselves and all of our ministries for the coming Bi-Centenial on our beloved Father and teacher in the year 2015. Here are his words to a group of young people gathered in Colle Don Bosco today (via ANS):

“Go beyond…” is the task that Fr Pascual Chávez, Rector Major of the Salesians and 9th Successor of Don Bosco, left to young people taking part in the European Salesian Youth Movement`s `Confronto`. Gathered in the upper church at Colle Don Bosco, the 300 plus young people concluded their time together which began on 11th August, by celebrating Don Bosco`s birthday.

The Rector Major, addressing himself to young people in the SYM, both those present and worldwide, began his homily by inviting an attitude of joy and thanksgiving. “Human history, including its darker and more tragic pages, or those which have thrown God`s existence into doubt, speaks throughout of God`s ongoing love in so many people who have been involved, in His name, in efforts of justice, peace, civilisation, humanity and salvation, amongst whom Don Bosco, Mother Mazzarello and other Salesian educators and saints".

This grace is extended, in this 150th year, in the gift that Don Bosco gave through the Congregation and the Salesian Family.

Scenes from a Parish


This looks very thought provoking and like something I really want to see. We have parishes all over just like this one. The film (Scenes from a Parish) looks insightful and challenging. Thanks Deacon Greg for posting this one!

When a young, irreverent priest arrives at Saint Patrick Parish in Lawrence, Massachusetts, he discovers the unexpected—boiling ethnic tensions in a changing working-class community. Filmed over four years, Scenes from a Parish tells the wildly diverse personal stories of Father Paul O'Brien and his unruly flock, as they struggle to hold onto faith in the face of desperate circumstances.Ty Burr of the Boston Globe declares, "Steer the faithful, and everyone else, to "Scenes from a Parish," a surpassingly lucid little documentary. It raises more questions about the church's place in a changing world--and touches more emotions doing so--than any big-budget studio folderol."

True Food, True Drink

Saturday, August 15, 2009

CATHOLIC VOCATION STUDY REVEALS DRAMATIC CHANGES

The photo above is from the celebration of Br. Matt DeGance's perpetual vows on August 8th! The Salesians and the young are richly blessed by your consecration and service! Congrats Br. Matt and may God continue to bless you and your family!

We have so much to be grateful for and our Church is so richly blessed by the great dedication and devotion of so many good and holy priests, sisters and brothers! Also, a new study has found good reason to be optimistic about religious vocations! The following was composed by the Salesian Vocation Office:

The demographic composition and preferred lifestyle of religious communities in the U.S. are undergoing dramatic changes according to a first-of-its-kind survey of newer members.

The landmark “Study of Recent Vocations to Religious Life” was undertaken by the Center for the Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA), on behalf of the National Religious Vocation Conference (NRVC). The study sought to determine best practices for religious institutes in attracting and retaining new members.

The study found that people are very much answering the call to religious life in the United States. The study showed that a new generation of religious men and women are showing a renewed appreciation of our Catholic worship, identity, and communal living. It also showed that they face many challenges and are making a choice that family and friends don’t understand, but they are embracing their call with faith and enthusiasm.

Growing diversity
In 2008-2009 the study showed that there were over 1500 new candidates for religious life with an increased diversity in ethnicity, age, and life experiences among new members.

Among those in pre-novitiate and novitiate programs:
-21 percent are Hispanic, 14 percent are Asian or Pacific Islander, and 6 percent are African/African American, which is a shift from 94 percent white among finally professed
- 73 percent attended Catholic schools for at least part of their education
- 68 percent considered religious life before age 21.

Spirit attracts
Approximately 75 percent are drawn to religious life very much by a sense of call and desire for prayer and spiritual growth. An overwhelming 85 percent say what attracted them to a community was its members, citing their sense of joy, commitment, and zeal.

Beyond the example of professed members, the most significant draw for new members is community life and prayer.
• Most new members want to live, work, and pray with other members of their community.
• Younger new entrants look for an institute’s fidelity to the Church; older new entrants are drawn to its mission.
• New entrants prefer to live in large communities (8 or more). Institutes in which members live alone face challenges attracting new members.
• Many younger members seek to wear a religious habit, a practice that has diminished in most religious institutes in the past 40 years.

If you build it, they will come
Many younger members report not having known men and women religious when they first felt drawn toward that life. Some report relying on a friend or mentor for recommendations. Younger members made use of online vocational resources, including community Websites.

Effective strategies for attracting and retaining new members include programs and promotions, such as “Come and See” weekends, in which those discerning a vocation can spend time with community members; retreats; ministry experiences; and an engaging online presence. Having a full-time vocation director or vocation team and leaders who involve the entire community in promoting vocations also helps.

Hope in the future
Religious institutes acknowledge the challenges of diminishing numbers, generational differences, and diversified ministries. New members express hope in the future of religious life. One study participant said religious life “has been here a long time, and it will continue in whatever shape that God wants it to be.” Another said: “Community life--if it’s lived well, if it’s joy-filled--attracts people.”

Friday, August 14, 2009

Pope to close Year for Priests in Rome with huge meeting

The Holy Father is calling for a big finish to the Year for Priests with a gathering in Rome. Here is the story from CNA:

The Congregation for the Clergy, headed by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, announced this week that the Pope Benedict XVI plans to close the Year for Priests by convoking a huge meeting of priests from around the world between June 9-11 in Rome.

Every Catholic priest in the world—there are around 407,000—is invited to the meeting, which will have the theme of “Faithfulness of Christ, Faithfulness of the Priest."

The program, announced by the Congregation for the Clergy today, indicates that the first day of the gathering will take place at the Basilica of Saint Paul-Outside-the-Walls and will have as theme "Conversion and Mission." The activities will include prayer, a conference to discuss the subject, Eucharist adoration, an opportunity for Confession and a Mass.

On day two, June 10, the theme will be "Cenacle, invocation to the Holy Spirit with Mary, in fraternal communion." The venue for the morning reflections will be the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, while in the evening a “priestly vigil” will be held at Saint Peter's Basilica. The vigil will consist of priests offering their testimonies, singing and adoration of the Eucharist. Pope Benedict XVI will be present at the vigil and will greet the priests.

The Year for Priests will be brought to a close on Friday, June 11, which is the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Pope Benedict XVI will preside over a Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica to conclude the Year for Priests. The final day of the meeting will have "With Peter, in ecclesial communion" as its theme.

Congressman Kevin Brady Explains the Obama Health Care Bill



This is an amazing disaster and will be a terrible blow to freedom in America and will be terrible for the life of the elderly and unborn. Hat tip to Patrick Madrid on this one.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Salesian Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez on new Honduran Government

Our Salesian Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez is speaking out once again about the political situation in Honduras. God bless him and the people of Honduras during this difficult time for them. The following comes from the Let's Get it Right site:

On July 4, 2009, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez read a statement signed by the 11 Catholic bishops of Honduras stating their position on the political situation and their hopes for Honduras. (English transcript included in the video.) At the end he makes a personal plea to Mel Zelaya to not return to Honduras right now to avoid a blood bath. He reminds Zelaya, a close personal friend of the Cardinal, of three of the commandments, and that to date, not one person had died in the conflict in Honduras.

The second part of the plea was shown over and over again on television during that day.Additionally, another priest made an emergency call to CNN just prior to Zelaya's meeting with the OAS that day, pleading with Zelaya not to return, begging him not to be the cause of bloodshed.

As we know, Mel Zelaya ignored the pleas and tried to return to Honduras. His plane was refused landing and one person was killed in the riot outside the airport grounds.Cardinal Rodriguez was nominated as a potential successor to Pope John Paul II in April 2005.

Archbishop of Caracas: "Keep faith in our education system"

The government of Venezuela is trying to remove religion and God from their schools. It is sad to see this ongoing secularization all over the place. Where are we going to be without faith? How are we going to get back to common and sense and a lived faith in the public square? We have a lot to pray about these days. The following comes from the CNA:

The Archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, told reporters this week that the Venezuelan government suffers from “a completely negative attitude in its desire to remove religion and God from the classroom.”

Directly criticizing a proposed reform of educational laws that would eliminate religion from the state-dictated curricula, Cardinal Urosa said, “Christian families and Catholic educators must firmly demand that the option of children to receive instruction in the faith professed by their parents be included.”

Cardinal Urosa said the proposed reform was “very ambiguous” and gives the state a monopoly on education, with no regard for the legitimacy or the rights of “intermediate societies such as the Church and citizens’ organizations to operate private schools.”

It would also “eliminate religion from schools” by overturning current law which states that parents have the right to have their children receive two hours of religious education as part of the school curriculum.

The cardinal noted that the new law is clearly inspired by the model of a secular state and the opposition to religion that has its roots in the French Revolution.

“It is an anthropologically demonstrated fact that religion is an integral part of human existence and that therefore, society as such as the right to practice it,” he added.

Cardinal Urosa criticized the quick passage of the bill during the late night hours as a show of disrespect for the will of the people.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some prayerful chant from the monks

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Amid typhoons, earthquakes ... the Lord still smiles

Have you heard anything about these disasters in Asia? Japan suffered from a 6.5 earthquake today and a Tsunami alert was issued. Also, the Typhoon Morakat has really wreaked havoc on the East. Terrible mudslides have been occuring with more than 600 missing in Taiwan. The following is a report on the weather and natural disasters in Asia this week. The news comes from our Salesian province of Australia:

One would need to live on another planet -- and these days even that would hardly count -- to not know that parts of Asia have been badly pummeled by typhoon Morakot -- Taiwan and the mainland China coast have been seriously affected. Morakot has also brought heavy rains to South Korea and Japan, all suffering from serious mudslides and loss of life. And now Japan has been hit by a 6.5 magnitude earthquake.

Reports from our own Salesians are coming in slowly, as could be expected amid the general difficulties they are experiencing, including with communications.

A correspondent from Taiwan tells us that in Taipei’s St. John Bosco Parish, the kindergarten and living quarters of the Salesian community are OK. Tainan’s school compound, 200 miles to the south, is at least fortunate in that it is on higher ground -- that helps where flooding is concerned, but less so for wind! With some buildings more than 40 years old, there are problems from leakage, grounds literally awash and/or covered with leaves, but the structure still stands. But it’s a case of “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”! The area has been three days without fresh drinking water. The school has large tanks, but they are already dry, so the school has to do what it can -- buy water, borrow some from the firemen’s tanks, collect it from the roofs.

Boys Town at Chaocou is 45 miles southeast of Tainan. They have had a tough time. Last month 49-year-old Fr. Francis Wang Chun-run, in charge of the boys, passed away. His replacement has not yet arrived. The treasurer of the house is blocked by weather conditions in Hong Kong. Fortunately the boys are home for a break! The director in Tainan has sent a “relief” priest down from the city, and he found that the normal one hour for that distance became four, due to floods. He also found the compound at Chaocou flooded and the older buildings leaking. But, as our correspondent notes, God is good and, all considered, our people and our work are bearing up well.

We hope to have additional reports from other weather- or earthquake-affected areas, in due course.