Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
World Youth Day is a workshop that is always open. Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko knows something about that, already looking forward to the next event in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. When answering questions from by our newspaper, the President of the Pontifical Council for Laity underlined the great preparatory work that usually separates the celebration of these great ecclesial events “ever new”. It would be an error, in fact, to think of them as repetitive. They express, explained the Prelate, the continuity of the Gospel and at the same time “the continuity of the Church”. The Cardinal knows well each of the mechanisms moving behind these celebrations, having been the head of the youth section for Santiago de Compostela in 1989, for Częstochowa in 1991 and for Denver in 1993, then Secretary in 1995 and, since 2003, President of the Vatican’s dicastery for the laity.
From Madrid 2011 to Rio de Janeiro 2013, there is a long road ahead.
Yes, but time is running out. This is why we have already started working from Madrid. I had my first meeting with the Archbishop of the Brazilian city and with a representative of the National Bishops’ Conference. We fixed a schedule for the up coming events. Meanwhile, the great wooden cross that always arrives before WYD will be like a plow in Brazil, tilling the ground for seeds. It will arrive in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and there start a pilgrimage to each of the country’s 274 dioceses over the 2 years preparation for the event.
So the pastoral challenge continues?
The objective of every WYD is to build a bridge between the extraordinary event of these international meetings with the Pope and the ordinary and concrete lives of young people who live in today’s world. And it is on this terrain that one measures the quality of youth ministry.
Where does one start?
It’s very important to insist on the fact that after you have turned the spotlights off and everyone goes back to daily life, you need to follow up WYD with pastoral ministry. During the meetings in Madrid there were so many seeds sown, thanks to the presence and words of Benedict XVI, both so penetrating. But now comes the harvest time, the time of verification: we need to see how what we have invested in the Universal Church has been received and cultivated in the local ones. Above all, the young people who have chosen the consecrated or priestly life deserve special care, so that their vocation is not just a momentary spark.
What embodies the experience of Madrid?
More than anything, the spiritual atmosphere during the Way of the Cross at the Plaza de Cibeles. The representation of the Christ’s Passion during WYD is not a mere accessory. On the contrary, it ought to be the catalyst, because it is necessary that young people encounter Jesus. Many of them, moreover, have intuited already that one of the placese where this can happen is in the Paschal Mystery. Hence, the importance of the Via Crucis, which in this year’s event really brought out the symbiosis between tradition and today. It was truly a strong moment for WYD Madrid, because it condensed into itself two important aspects: On the one hand, the elegant images and the words of the meditation really made the Paschal Mystery of Christ alive in the now of a young man in the 3rd millennium; on the other, the songs and music were truly impressive, a marvelous synthesis of words, images and young people, who were literally pulled into the mystery.
Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged the new class of seminarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome to be unafraid to carry the cross of Christ.
“Dear Seminarians, do not be afraid to take up the challenge in today’s Gospel to give your lives completely to Christ,” he told the new students during his Sunday Angelus address on Aug. 28 at Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence 15 miles to the south of Rome.
“Indeed, may all of us be generous in our commitment to him, carrying our cross with faith and courage.”
Moments earlier the American students, along with several thousand other pilgrims, listened as the Pope explained in more detail the need for all Christians to embrace the cross. The Pope invited all present to surrender their will to Jesus who, in return, will transform their ways of thinking for the better.
“The Christian follows the Lord with love when he accepts his cross which in the eyes of the world appears as a defeat and a ‘loss of life’, while that man knows that he does not bear his alone but with Jesus, sharing the same path of self-giving,” the Pope said.
In doing so, he added, “we allow ourselves to be transformed through divine grace, renewing our way of thinking in order to discern the will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
The Pope based his comments upon Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus rebukes St. Peter for reacting negatively to the revelation that the Christ must “go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
This prediction by Jesus presented “a clear discrepancy between the loving plan of the Father” observed the Pope “and the expectations, desires, projects of the disciples.” He said it’s a discrepancy that often continues to this modern day.
“When the fulfillment of one’s life is only aimed towards social success, and physical and economic well-being, man is not thinking according to God but according to man.” Such an attempt to refuse God’s “project of love,” said the Pope, “almost prevents man from carrying out His masterly will.”
Hence, said the Pope, the challenge of Jesus to the first apostles, “if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” is equally applicable to anybody who seeks true happiness in the modern world.
The Pontifical North American College was founded in 1859 in response to an appeal by Pope Pius IX for an American seminary in Rome. Its present building sits on Rome’s Janiculum Hill only minutes from St. Peters Basilica. Regarded as one of the most flourishing seminaries in the city, the college is currently home to over 300 students and priests.
Monday, August 29, 2011
She used to stand in the church Saint-Etienne-des-Grès in the Latin Quarter, but that church was destroyed during the Revolution and all its content sold. Madame de Carignan, a pious rich lady bought the statue and venerated her in her private home until she was arrested during the Reign of Terror (a period of 11 months following the Revolution, which cost 20-40,000 people their lives.) In jail she used to pray to Our Lady of Good Deliverance with others who had been arrested for their faith, in particular the Sisters of St. Thomas. When all of them survived and were freed in 1806, Madame gave the Black Virgin to the Sisters.
Under the patronage of this Virgin the Royal Confraternity of the Charity of Our Lady of Good Deliverance had been founded in 1533 and comprised thousands of aristocratic and common members. It was meant to be "a saintly society" dedicated to the honor of God and "his very dignified Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary … to keep a singular devotion alive in all real Christian men and women." This association was founded by a priest named Jean Olivier, who was "greatly pious, devoted to Our Lady with strong affection, in the service of the Queen of Angels".(*1) The group organized processions and ministered to prisoners, even paying their debts if they were imprisoned for not being able to pay them.
Our Lady of Good Deliverance was invoked as a helper in all kinds of calamities and suffering, whether of a spiritual or material nature. She was also called upon as the Victorious One in the fight against the Huguenots and other "heretics."
The great saints of Paris, most notably Vincent de Paul and Francis de Sales prayed before her. Young Francis spent some years in Paris as he was trying to find his way in life. His poor soul went into a downward spiral of despair as he became more and more convinced that he was doomed to eternal hell fire. One day he went before Our Lady of Good Deliverance to pour out his heart. Soon he was moved to pick up a prayer tablet that was hanging from the railing of her chapel. He read the prayer, "…rose from his knees, and at that very moment felt entirely healed. His troubles, so it seemed to him, had fallen about his feet like a leper's scales."(*2) Immediately he made a vow of celibacy before God and his Mother. The prayer he had sent to Heaven was the Memorare:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother. To you I come; before you I stand sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate! Despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.
Not long after this event another priest with great love for Our Mother who ministered to the poor and to prisoners in Paris, spread the fame of this prayer. To this day it is recited all over the world at the conclusion of the Rosary.
Saturday, August 27, 2011
Today Carmelites around the world celebrate the feast of the Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin, and Reformer of the Carmelite Order. The transverberation is a mystical grace wherein the Saint's heart was pierced with a "dart of love" by an angel. I quote St. John of the Cross, "It will happen that while the soul is inflamed with the Love of God, it will feel that a seraph is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraph pierces and in an instant cauterizes this soul, which, like a red-hot coal, or better a flame, is already enkindled. The soul is converted into an immense fire of Love. Few persons have reached these heights."
Saint Teresa died in 1582 after proclaiming that she was "a daughter of the Church". Her body was buried in a wooden coffin. After nine months it was exhumed and to everyone's amazement, though her clothes were decaying, her body was incorrupt. While the Carmelite nuns reclothed her a delightful perfume spread throughout the monastery. Later, her heart was removed to be enclosed in a crystal vessel and placed in a jeweled silver reliquary. When this was being done they beheld a glorious and wonderful sight: a wound from the angel's dart was visible! It can still be seen today at the Carmelite Monastery of Alba de Tormes in Spain. Her heart has kept it's color and since the nineteenth century three sharp thorns are visible at the base of the heart.
Friday, August 26, 2011
August 26 is the 33rd anniversary of the election of Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, the Smiling Pope. He was the Son of Giovanni Luciani and Bortola Tancon, poor working folks; baptized the same day at home by the midwife as he was in danger of death. He entered the seminary at Feltre in October 1923, and the Gregorian seminary at Belluno in October 1928. Deacon on 2 February 1935. Ordained at Belluno, Italy on 7 July 1935. He was Parish priest and taught religion at the Technical Institute for Miners in Agordo. He was Rector of the Gregorian seminary from 1937 to 1947. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome in 1947. Chancellor of the diocese of Belluno in 1947. Bishop of Vittorio Veneto on 15 December 1958. He attended the Second Vatican Council. He was made Patriarch of Venice in 1969. Created Cardinal on 5 March 1973. He was the Pope for less than five weeks.
For more on this good and holy man please click here.
Practice your Italian below!
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
The following comes from the CNA:
Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain recalled that Pope Benedict was “emotionally moved many times, almost to tears,” during World Youth Day 2011.
The cardinal said Benedict XVI was especially touched by the theatrical presentation of the Stations of the Cross, which he had initially not planned to attend.
Speaking to the COPE radio network on Aug. 22, Cardinal Rouco said the Pope changed his mind upon learning that the stations would be presented following the traditions of the Holy Week celebrations in Spain, using a combination of chant and prayer.
The cardinal also encouraged Catholics to re-read the Pope’s numerous speeches, which he called a treasure trove of “preaching, proclamation of the word and explanations to young people” based on the gospels and on the World Youth Day theme. This year’s theme was, “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith,” taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
“That was the common thread in all of his homilies, speeches and remarks,” the cardinal added.
The saint of the day is the Apostle Bartholomew. Here is the bio from Catholic.org:
St. Bartholomew, 1st. century, one of the 12.
All that is known of him with certainty is that he is mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the twelve apostles. His name, a patronymic, means "son of Tolomai" and scholars believe he is the same as Nathanael mentioned in John, who says he is from Cana and that Jesus called him an "Israelite...incapable of deceit." The Roman Martyrology says he preached in India and Greater Armenia, where he was flayed and beheaded by King Astyages. Tradition has the place as Abanopolis on the west coast of the Caspian Sea and that he also preached in Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt. The Gospel ofBartholomew is apochryphal and was condemned in the decree of Pseudo-Gelasius. Feast Day August 24.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
The following comes from the American Catholic site:
In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen” and Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.
The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In his encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
The following comes from the CNA:
Pope Benedict XVI left Spain on the evening of August 21, after giving a challenge to the million-plus young people who came to World Youth Day in Madrid over the past six days.
“Now I ask you to spread throughout the world the profound and joyful experience of faith which you had here in this noble country,” said the Pope, on the tarmac at Madrid’s Barajas Airport.
“By your closeness and your witness, help your friends to discover that loving Christ means living life to the full.”
Pope Benedict led nine events during his four-day visit for World Youth Day. The peak moment was Sunday's Mass at Cuarto Vientos airbase, with a congregation said to contain up to 2 million people.
Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia came to Barajas to bid the Pope farewell on behalf of the Spanish nation.
“Holiness, you have addressed words of love and hope, encouragement and confidence to a youth that treasures values like solidarity,” said King Juan Carlos.
“I give the most heartfelt thanks for your visit to Spain. Thank you for the hope and the vision that you have given to our youth.”
In response, the Pope told them that “Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul.”
The Pope thanked World Youth Day 2011's organizers, giving special mention to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Madrid's Cardinal Archbishop Antonio Rouco Varela; and the event's General Coordinator, Monsignor Cesar Augusto Franco Martinez.
About two hundred young people got to come onto the tarmac to wave goodbye to the Pope. As with his arrival at the same location, he was “protected” by a line of mini-Swiss Guards, Spanish schoolboys dressed in the uniforms of the illustrious Vatican army.
“I leave Spain very happy and grateful to everyone,” said the Pope.
“But above all I am grateful to God, our Lord, who allowed me to celebrate these days so filled with enthusiasm and grace, so charged with dynamism and hope.”
He said the past week's “feast of faith” should inspire “great confidence” in God's love and care, keeping the Church “young and full of life, even as she confronts challenging situations.”
“This is the work of the Holy Spirit, who makes Jesus Christ present in the hearts of young people in every age and shows them the grandeur of the divine vocation given to every man and woman.”
The Pope said that young people respond when “one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ, the one redeemer of humanity.”
He concluded by urging the bishops of the world, and teachers of the faith at every level, to build on the lessons that young people have received in Madrid.
“Do not be afraid to present to young people the message of Jesus Christ in all its integrity, and to invite them to celebrate the sacraments by which he gives us a share in his own life.”
The Pope then departed on his chartered Alitalia flight which will return him to Rome this evening.
And so ended World Youth Day 2011. Its effects around the world may have just begun.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Pilgrims attending World Youth Day in Madrid next year will see a monstrance from the 15th century that is known as “the finest example of Spanish silverwork of all time.” The Monstrance of Arfe will used during a time of Eucharist adoration led by Pope Benedict XVI at the international youth gathering.
According to a press release, the monstrance “is popularly known for being used during the Corpus Christi procession each year in Toledo. It measures almost 9 feet tall and is made of gold and silver.”
Francisco Portela, professor of Art History at the Compultense University of Madrid, said the monstrance “is the finest example of Spanish silverwork of all time” and underscored that WYD would be a worthy occasion to bring the masterpiece to Madrid.
Juan Sanchez, the dean of the Cathedral of Toledo, where the monstrance is kept, said, “We were pleased to allow the monstrance to be used for WYD, knowing that it will be used for such a great purpose.”
The origin of Eucharistic monstrances dates back to the 13th century with the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi. They were developed primarily in Flanders and Germany, where the Arfe family had its origins.
The Eucharistic adoration led by the Holy Father will take place on August 20 at the Cuatro Vientos Airfield, where the vigil will be held on Saturday night. Young people will be able to “contemplate and admire a work of art that is unique in the world and is being used as its creators imagined, and they will rediscover the value of art in the liturgy,” organizers said.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Separating truth from ethics and from man's great problems, the Pontiff warned, leads to "exposing man to the will of those who have power."
Pope Benedict XVI told the hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid that they will be happy and at peace if they center their lives on the “solid rock” of Jesus Christ.
Build “your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ,” he urged. “Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others.”
“They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe.”
The Pope made his remarks on the evening of Aug. 18 at the Plaza de Cibeles. The gathering was his first face-to-face meeting with the massive throng of cheering young people gathered from dozens of countries across the globe.
As the popemobile made its way to the plaza through the crowds, Pope Benedict smiled and waved to the thousands of youth waving their national flags and enthusiastically yelling their greetings.
The night's events included a local group of university students singing for the Pope, an official welcome from Archbishop of Madrid Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, gifts being presented by several young people from the various regions of the world, and a liturgy that included a procession and Gospel reading.
“Today Madrid is also the capital of the world’s young people, and the gaze of the whole Church is fixed here,” Pope Benedict said. “Let us pray that his message of hope and love will also resound in the hearts of those who are not believers or who have grown distant from the Church.”
In his homily, the pontiff drew from the Gospel of Mark reading that contrasts the wise man who built his house on rock and the foolish man who built his house on sand.
When “we do not walk beside Christ our guide, we get lost on other paths, like the path of our blind and selfish impulses, or the path of flattering but self-serving suggestions, deceiving and fickle, which leave emptiness and frustration in their wake,” he said.
But if “you build on solid rock, not only will your life be solid and stable, but it will also help project the light of Christ, shining upon those of your own age and upon the whole of humanity.”
The Pope lamented that many people today create “their own gods” and believe that they need “no roots or foundations” other than themselves.
“They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment.”
He noted that although these temptations are “always lying in wait,” it is important not to give in, since they lead to a fleeting and illusory half-life which fails to satisfy.
“We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness,” he reminded the youth. We are “responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative coworkers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation.”
Pope Benedict encouraged the young pilgrims to use the upcoming days to get to know Christ better. If you are “rooted in him, your enthusiasm and happiness, your desire to go further, to reach the heights, even God himself, will always hold a sure future, because the fullness of life has already been placed within you.”
In his closing remarks, the Pope dedicated “the fruits of this World Youth Day to the most holy Virgin Mary, who said 'Yes' to the will of God, and teaches us a unique example of fidelity to her divine son, whom she followed to his death upon the Cross.”
“Let us meditate upon this more deeply in the Stations of the Cross. And let us pray that, like her, our 'Yes' to Christ today may also be an unconditional 'Yes' to his friendship, both at the end of this Day and throughout our entire lives.”
The Pope will pray the Stations of the Cross with the pilgrims at Cibeles Square on the evening of Friday, Aug. 19 after meeting with college professors and religious sisters earlier that day. On Aug. 20, he will meet patients at a local hospital and take part in a prayer vigil that night with the young people.
Pope Benedict’s World Youth Day visit will culminate on Sunday, Aug. 21 in an outdoor Mass which is expected to draw over 1 million people.