Saturday, December 31, 2011

Where Graces Flow

The Vatican in 2012

The Gift of Time


O Jesus, through the immaculate heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the holy sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your sacred heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all the apostles of prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month.

The Vatican's Top Stories for 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

God With Us by MercyMe

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Celtic Thunder: Christmas Day 1915


Celtic Thunder singing Christmas 1915.
Written by Cormac MacConnell

1915 on Christmas Day
On western front the guns all died away
And lying in the mud on bags of sand
We heard the German sing from no man's land
He had a tenor voice so pure and true
The words were strange but every note we knew
Soaring ore the living dead and dammed
The German sang of peace from no man's land

They left their trenches and we left ours
Beneath tin hats the smiles bloomed like wild flowers
With photos cigarettes and bottles of wine
We built a soldier's truce on the front line
Their singer was a lad of 21
We begged another song before the dawn
And sitting in the mud and blood and fear
He sang again the song all longed to hear

Silent night, no cannons roar
A king is born of peace for evermore
All's calm, all's bright
All brothers hand in hand
In 19 and 15 in no man's land

And in the morning all the guns boomed in the rain
And we killed them and they killed us again
At night they charged we fought them hand in hand
And I killed the boy that sang in no man's land

Silent night no cannons roar
A king is born of peace for evermore
All's calm, all's bright
All brothers hand in hand
And that young soldier sings
And the song of peace still rings
Though the captains and all the kings
Built no man's land

Sleeping in heavenly peace

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Emmanuel - Songs Of Praise


These are some amazing choirs!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pope Benedict: Countdown to Christmas


The following comes from the Vatican News site:

At sundown on Saturday, December 24, when the life-size Nativity Scene in St Peter’s Square is unveiled. This in turn will trigger a prayer vigil that will culminate in the chanting of the Kalenda, in a tradition re-established by Pope Benedict XVI, that ancient proclamation of Christ’s coming drawn from the Roman martyrology, announcing the beginning of Christmas time.

At 10 pm Rome time Pope Benedict XVI will lead celebrations of Christmas midnight mass. On Sunday from the central balcony of the Vatican Basilica he will read out his Christmas message and send out his blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and to the world) On Saturday 31 December at 17:00, the Pope will preside over the Vespers which will end with the traditional thanksgiving hymn, “Te Deum”, in conclusion of the civil year. 


On January 1, Benedict XVI will celebrate mass at 9:30 in St. Peter’s, on occasion of the International Day of Peace, which this year, is entitled: “Educate Youngsters in Justice and Peace”.


In a break with tradition during Mass for the Feast of the Epiphany Pope Benedict will confer Episcopal ordination on Mgr. Charles John Brown, Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland and Mgr. Marek Solczynski Apostolic Nuncio Georgia and Armenia.

On Sunday January 8, Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord, Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate mass in the Sistine Chapel. During the celebration - as per tradition – the Holy Father will confer baptism on small infants, the children of Vatican employees. 


All of these ceremonies will be broadcast live by Vatican Television with commentary available in six languages by Vatican Radio. A live stream can be accessed on www.vatican.va/video.

Friday, December 23, 2011

O Holy Night by Susan Boyle

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wexford Carol by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir


The Wexford Carol originated in Enniscorthy, County Wexford (hence the name). It dates back to the 12th century and tells the story of the nativity of Jesus. It is one of the oldest known Christmas carols.

Pope Benedict: Christmas is more than an anniversary



The following comes from Zenit.org:

Benedict XVI says that we have the same opportunity the shepherds of Bethlehem had: acknowledging and receiving the Christ Child, who comes "today," now, to each of us.
The Pope emphasized this point at today's general audience, saying that it is important to understand that Christmas is more than an anniversary of a past event, of Jesus' birth.
"Christmas, in fact, is not a mere anniversary of Jesus' birth -- it is also this, but it is more," the Holy Father said at the last general audience of 2011. "It is the celebration of a mystery that has marked and continues to mark mankind's history -- God himself came to dwell among us, he made himself one of us; a mystery that concerns our faith and our very lives; a mystery that we experience concretely in the liturgical celebrations, especially in the Holy Mass."
So, the Pontiff said, we can live out now and participate in an event that occurred more than 2,000 years ago.
"During the Holy Mass on Christmas night, we will repeat as a refrain to the responsorial psalm, these words: 'Today a Savior is born for us.' This adverb of time 'Today,' which is used repeatedly throughout the Christmas celebrations, refers to the event of Jesus' birth and to the salvation that the incarnation of the Son of God comes to bring," he explained. "In the liturgy, this event reaches beyond the limits of space and time and becomes actual, present; its effect continues, even amidst the passing of days, years and centuries. In indicating that Jesus is born 'today,' the liturgy does not use a meaningless phrase, but underscores that this birth affects and permeates the whole of history -- even today, it remains a reality to which we may attain, precisely in the liturgy."
Entering God's world
Christmas, the Pope said, is a renewal of the conviction that God is really present, "still 'flesh' and not only far away: though also with the Father, he is close to us. In that Child born in Bethlehem, God drew near to man: We can encounter him now -- in a 'today' whose sun knows no setting."
The Holy Father said this point is important because "modern man -- a man of 'the sensible,' of the empirically verifiable -- finds it increasingly more difficult to open his horizons and enter the world of God."
The Redemption is a historical reality, he emphasized, but Jesus, the Son of God, "became man and remains man."
He added: "The Eternal entered into the limits of time and space, in order to make possible an encounter with Him 'today.' The liturgical texts of Christmas help us to understand that the events of salvation wrought by Christ are always actual -- the interest of every man and of all mankind. 
"When, within liturgical celebrations, we hear or proclaim this 'Today a Savior is born for us,' we are not employing an empty, conventional expression; rather, we mean that God offers us 'today,' now, to me, to each one of us, the possibility of acknowledging and receiving him like the shepherds in Bethlehem, so that he might be born in our lives and renew them, illumine them, transform them by his grace, by his presence."

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night by Libera

Pope Benedict to Children: Tell your friends you have found Jesus

The following comes from Zenit.org:
Benedict XVI is inviting children to a missionary spirit, encouraging them to tell their friends that they have found a great Friend in Jesus.
This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received a delegation of children from Italian Catholic Action, with whom he exchanged Christmas greetings.
The Holy Father thanked the group for their visit, then went on to remark on a theme they have been studying this year, the invitation made to Bartimaeus in the Bible: "Arise, He is calling."
This call, the Pontiff explained, "has already been repeated often in your lives, and it is repeated again today. The first call was in the gift of life. Always be attentive to this great gift, appreciate it and be grateful to the Lord. Ask Him to give a joyful life to all the boys and girls of the world, that they may all be respected and none may lack what they need to live."
"Another important call was baptism," the Pope continued. "At that moment you became brothers and sisters of Jesus Who loves you more than anyone else and wants to help you to grow. Another call was First Communion. On that day your friendship with Jesus became closer and more intimate. ... Respond generously to the Lord Who calls you to be friends with Him. He will never let you down."
"Dear friends," the Holy Father concluded, "I would like to ask you for one thing. Take this beautiful invitation -- 'Arise, He is calling' -- to your own friends and tell them: Look, I have responded to Jesus' call and I am happy because I have found a great Friend in Him, a Friend I meet in prayer, Who I see among my friends, to Whom I listen in the Gospel. My Christmas wish for you is that, when you make your nativity scenes, you imagine you are saying to Jesus: come into my life and I will listen to you always."

Pope Benedict Approves the Canonization of 7 New Saints

Father Barron on The Indiana Jones Movies

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Breathe of Heaven by Amy Grant

Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa to Priests and Seminarians

New Saints: Pope approves miracles of Blesseds Marianne Cope and Kateri Tekakwitha


The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI formally recognized miracles attributed to Bl. Marianne Cope and Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha on Dec. 19, clearing the way for both women to be canonized.

The two women, who both lived in the United States, were among numerous individuals whose sainthood causes were advanced by decrees authorized by Pope Benedict XVI on Monday.

Sister Grace Anne Dillenschneider, vice postulator for the Cause for the Diocese of Syracuse, told CNA on Dec. 19 that the date for Bl. Cope’s canonization has not yet been confirmed.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints had already approved Bl. Cope’s second official miracle, which involved the medical recovery of a woman in Syracuse who was cured of a fatal and irreversible health condition.

Born in western Germany in 1838, Bl. Marianne Cope entered religious life in Syracuse, N.Y., where she served as a teacher and principal and established two hospitals before traveling to Hawaii, where she spent several years caring for lepers.

She died in 1918 and was beatified in 2005.

Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, known as "the Lily of the Mohawks," was born in 1656 in upstate New York.

Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother was an Algonquin who was raised Catholic.

A smallpox epidemic killed both of her parents and left her with poor eyesight and a badly disfigured face at a young age.

Despite objections from her relatives, she was baptized at age 20, after meeting several Catholic priests.

An outcast from her community, Bl. Tekakwitha lived a life of deep prayer, with a strong devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.

She died in 1680 at the age of 24. Witnesses said that the scars on her face disappeared after her death.

Bl. Tekakwitha was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1980, the first Native American to be declared blessed.

On Dec. 19, Pope Benedict also authorized promulgations recognizing miracles attributed to the intercession of 10 other individuals, allowing them to move forward towards beatification or canonization.

In addition, he recognized the martyrdom of more than 60 individuals, including priests, religious and laymen, who can now move forward in the process towards beatification.

The Pope also approved decrees recognizing seven individuals as having lived out heroic virtue and being venerable. These individuals will each need a miracle attributed to their intercession before they can be beatified.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Atheist Dies and Meets Jesus


What Christ Looked Like from 60 Minutes

Sunday, December 18, 2011

An Angel by Celtic Woman

Pope Benedict: Mary's Virginity guarantees Christ's divinity


The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI said today that the virginity of Mary guarantees Jesus’ divinity because it proves the Incarnation is solely the work of God.

“The human being that begins to live in her womb takes the flesh from Mary, but his existence is derived entirely from God,” the Pope said Dec. 18 in his final Sunday Angelus address before Christmas.

“The fact that Mary conceived while remaining a virgin is, therefore, essential to the understanding of Jesus and our faith, because it witnesses that it was God’s initiative and above all it reveals who is conceived.”

So while Jesus is “fully human” and “made of earth,” he “comes from above, from heaven” and is truly “the Son of God.”

Thus, said the Pope, “the virginity of Mary and the divinity of Jesus reciprocally guarantee one another.”

Pope Benedict made his remarks to several thousand visitors gathered in St. Peter’s Square. He drew upon today’s Gospel reading, in which the Angel Gabriel told Mary “behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.”

The Pope noted that this fulfilled the “age-old promise” of Isaiah, who prophesied seven to eight centuries before that “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and call him Immanuel.”

Pope Benedict then explained the importance of the fact that Mary was “very upset” at the Angel Gabriel’s news and asked “how can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”

“In her simplicity, Mary is wise,” said the Pope, “she does not doubt the power of God, but wants to better understand his will, to fully comply with this will.”

While Mary is “infinitely surpassed” by the mystery of the Incarnation, the Pope reflected, she also “perfectly occupies the place that, at the very heart of it, she was assigned.”

Her “heart and mind are fully humble,” and because of this “singular humility, God expects the ‘yes’ of this young girl to achieve His purpose” while still fully respecting “her dignity and freedom,” he said.

“Mary’s ‘yes’ means both motherhood and virginity,” Pope Benedict observed.

He finished his reflection on Mary's virginity and Jesus' conception by highlighting the spiritual significance of her faith. Mary's willingness to trust deeply in God and his plan, despite being a virgin, allowed her to "welcome Jesus and his divine life within."

"This is the mystery of Christmas."

Taizé Proclaims Joy to the World

The following comes from Zenit.org:

The prior of the ecumenical Taizé community is inviting a "conscious choice, to opt for joy," saying this will enable us to face reality and even suffering.

Brother Alois Loser affirmed this in his annual letter to the ecumenical Taizé group. This year's note came from Chile, following the second international Taizé meeting in Latin America, held Dec. 8-12.

"We undergo trials and suffering in our lives, sometimes for long periods," Brother Alois reflected. "But we always want to try and rediscover the joy of living. Where does this joy come from?"

He went on to consider the joy that "resists discouragement;" that does not "depend only on passing circumstances" and "comes from trust in God;" that "even in times of trial," can "remain buried like embers under the ashes, without going out."

Unlimited compassion

The prior observed that "opting for joy does not mean running away from life’s problems. Instead, it enables us to face reality, and even suffering."

"Opting for joy," he said, "is inseparable from a concern for other human beings. It fills us with unlimited compassion."

A taste of God's joy, even if it is fleeting "turns us into women and men of communion," Brother Alois stated. And he added that "individualism as a road to happiness is an illusion."

"The road to happiness, in the steps of Jesus, lies in the gift of ourselves, day by day. Through the lives we live, in great simplicity, we can express God’s love," he said. "[...] Over-accumulating material possessions kills joy. It keeps us trapped in envy. Happiness lies elsewhere: By choosing a simple lifestyle, working not just for profit but to give meaning to life, sharing with others, everyone can help create a future of peace. God does not give a spirit of timidity but a spirit of love and inner strength."

Repairing

Brother Alois concluded the Letter From Chile with a reflection on forgiveness, which he said "can never be used to condone injustice."

"On the contrary," the prior continued, "believing in forgiveness makes us freer to recognize our own faults, as well as the mistakes and injustices around us and in the world. It is up to us to repair anything that can be made good."

God's forgiveness is unfailing, Brother Alois declared. And Christ "distinguished between the person and the offense committed. Until his last breath on the cross, he refused to condemn anyone. And instead of minimizing the fault, he took it upon himself."

This leader on the path of ecumenism acknowledged that "there are situations where we do not manage to forgive. The wound is too big."

He suggested remembering in those moments that while "God’s forgiveness never fails," for us, "it is sometimes only by stages that we succeed."
Yet, he proposed, "The desire to forgive is already a first step, even when that desire remains engulfed in bitterness."

"By forgiving, God does more than wipe away the offense," Brother Alois added. "He gives a new life in his friendship, rekindled day and night by the Holy Spirit.

"Welcoming and sharing God’s forgiveness is the road that Christ has opened. We move forward on it in spite of our weaknesses and our wounds. Christ does not turn us into women and men who have already reached the goal. [...]

"And we can all make this discovery: Forgiveness received or extended creates joy. Knowing that one is forgiven is perhaps one of the deepest, most liberating of joys. It is the source of the inner peace that Christ wants to communicate to us. That peace will lead us far; it will radiate outwards for others and for the world."


Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Vatican Lights it's Christmas Tree



The following comes from Zenit.org:

The symbols of Christmas -- such as the tree and the crib -- point to the great mystery of the Incarnation and are important references, according to Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today as he received a delegation from Ukraine, the country which donated this year's main Christmas tree for St. Peter's Square.

The tree, a spruce from the Zakarpattia region, was lit up today. It is just over 100 feet tall and is decorated with 2,500 silver- and gold-colored ornaments.

The Pope greeted the bishops accompanying the Ukrainian delegation: His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk, major archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc; Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv of the Latins, and Bishop Milan Sasik of the eparchy of Mukachevo of the Byzantine rite, as well as members of the Orthodox Church led by the Archbishop of Poltava and Myrhorod.

This tree, said the Holy Father, is "a significant symbol of Christ's nativity because, with its evergreen boughs, it reminds us of enduring life. The spruce is also a sign of popular religiosity in your country, and of the Christian roots of your culture. My hope is that these roots may increasingly reinforce your national unity, favoring the promotion of authentic shared values. Over the centuries your nation has been a crossroads of different cultures, a meeting point for the spiritual richness of East and West. By tenaciously adhering to the values of the faith, may it continue to response to this unique vocation."

The tree and nativity scene, Benedict XVI went on, "are elements of that typically Christmas atmosphere which is part of our communities' spiritual heritage; a climate impregnated with religiosity and family intimacy that we must seek to conserve, even in modern societies where consumerism and the search for material goods sometimes seem to prevail."

"Christmas is a Christian feast," he stated, "and its symbols are important references to the great mystery of the incarnation and birth of Jesus, which the liturgy constantly re-evokes. The Creator of the universe, by becoming a child, came among us to share our journey; He became small to enter the heart of man and renew it with His love. Let us prepare ourselves to welcome Him with faith."

Friday, December 16, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron: On atheism and Christopher Hitchens

You may know that Christopher Hitchens, the well known atheist, has passed away. We surely pray for the repose of his soul. Fr. Robert Barron has spoken thoughtfully of the arguments of Hitchens and the Christian response:


God's Friendship


The following comes from Zenit.org:

Benedict XVI says God's greatest answer to prayer is the gift of His friendship and presence.

The Pope said this today at the general audience, as he continued his reflection on Jesus' prayer. Today, he took up two accounts from the Gospel: when Jesus prayed before healing the deaf and mute man, and his prayer at Lazarus' tomb.

After his insightful commentaries on both of these narratives, the Holy Father brought forth lessons for our own prayer.

"Each one of us is called to understand that in the prayer of petition to the Lord, we must not expect an immediate fulfillment of our requests, of our will; rather, we must entrust ourselves to the Father's Will, interpreting each event within the perspective of his glory, of his design of love, which is often mysterious to our eyes," the Pontiff encouraged.

He said that in our prayer, "petition, praise and thanksgiving should coalesce, even when it seems to us that God is not responding to our concrete expectations."

"Abandonment to God's love, which precedes and accompanies us always, is one of the attitudes at the heart of our conversation with him," he reminded.

The Bishop of Rome cited the Catechism of the Catholic Church in its commentary on Jesus' prayer at the raising of Lazarus: "Jesus' prayer, characterized by thanksgiving, reveals to us how to ask: before the gift is given, Jesus commits Himself to the One who in giving gives Himself. The Giver is more precious than the gift; He is the ‘treasure’; in Him abides His Son’s heart; the gift is given ‘as well’”(Matthew 6:21 and 6:33) (2604).

Benedict XVI commented, "This seems to me to be very important: before the gift is given, to adhere to him who gives; the Giver is more precious than the gift."

He said that beyond the things that God might give us, "the greatest gift he can give us is his friendship, his presence, his love. He is the precious treasure we should ask for and treasure always."

The Pontiff added: "The two prayers of Jesus that we have meditated upon -- which accompany the curing of the deaf-mute and the raising of Lazarus -- reveal that the deep bond between the love of God and the love of neighbor must enter into our prayer also. In Jesus, true God and true man, attention to the other -- especially to the needy and the suffering -- being moved before the sorrow of a beloved family, leads him to turn to the Father, in that fundamental relationship that guides the whole of his life. But the opposite is also true: communion with the Father, constant dialogue with him, drives Jesus to be uniquely attentive to the concrete situations of man in order to bring to them the consolation and love of God. The relationship with our fellow men leads us to the relationship with God, and [our relationship] with God leads us anew to our neighbor."

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Archbishop Carlson sees signs of hope for vocations

The following comes from the CNA:

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, the head of the U.S. bishops’ committee on vocations, believes Catholics should be encouraged by great signs of hope for the future of the priesthood in America.

Archbishop Carlson told CNA on Dec. 12 that although there is a “great need for more seminarians” in the United States, several recent “positive trends” in seminary enrollment should “give us hope as a people of faith.”

The archbishop said that Apostolic Visitations in 2005 revealed that the vast majority of diocesan seminaries throughout the country are “healthy houses of discernment and formation,” filled with seminarians of a “very high caliber,” who bring with them “a variety of backgrounds, experience and talents.”

He pointed to recent statistics from Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which indicate a “steady increase in the number of theologians studying for the priesthood” over the last eight years.

These men, said the archbishop, often have college degrees and work experience and “have left successful jobs and comfortable homes to pursue the call to the priesthood.”

He also sees “a very high level of perseverance to priesthood in the men who are enrolled in major seminaries nationwide.”

Dr. Mary Gautier, senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, said she expects recent the declines of recent decades to remain stable in the coming years. Gautier noted that priestly ordinations have risen slightly in the last decade, and numbers of men in the final stages of seminary have remained “very stable” for the past 15 years.

As for women religious, Gautier expects to see numbers decrease in the near future, continuing a decline that has been taking place for several decades.

She explained that a huge “bubble” was created several generations ago when large numbers of women entered religious life. As these women are reaching the end of their lives, they are not being replaced by an equal number of new women.

This coming Jan. 9-14, the Catholic Church in the U.S. will celebrate National Vocation Awareness Week, which is intended to encourage prayer, education and support for those considering a religious vocation.

Archbishop Carlson stressed the importance of fostering a “culture of vocations” that will allow young people to discern in a supportive environment at home, school and church.

However, as we continue to pray for the priests of tomorrow, he said, “we can certainly rejoice in the positive trends that are occurring in our seminaries today.”

The official 2011 statistics for the United States report that there are 3,394 diocesan seminarians and 1,853 religious seminarians. The number of novices for women’s religious orders was not given.

Celtic Thunder - Heartland

This is an amazing song written by Phil Coulter:

WHEN THE STORM IS RAGING,
AND THUNDER ROLLS,
DELIVER US FROM THE OCEAN
SAVE OUR SOULS.

Chorus

A THIARNA DEAN TROCAIRE (This is Irish Galic for Lord have Mercy)
A CHRIOST DEAN TROCAIRE (This is Irish Galic for Christ have Mercy)
A THIARNA DEAN TROCAIRE
A CHRIOST DEAN TROCAIRE.

WHEN THE WINDS ARE HOWLING
VIGIL KEEP
SHELTER US AND SAVE US FROM THE DEEP

Chorus

A THIARNA DEAN TROCAIRE
A CHRIOST DEAN TROCAIRE
A THIARNA DEAN TROCAIRE
A CHRIOST DEAN TROCAIRE
THANK YOU LORD YOU HAVE BROUGHT US SAFE TO SHORE
BE OUR STRENGTH AND PROTECTION EVERMORE.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Getting Ready For Christmas Day by Paul Simon

Saint of the day: John of the Cross


The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Born in poverty. Cared for the poor in the hospital in Medina del Campo, SpainCarmelite lay brother in 1563at age 21, though he lived more strictly than the Rule required. Studied at SalamancaSpainCarmelite priest,ordained in 1567 at age 25. Persuaded by Saint Teresa of Avila to begin the Discalced or barefoot reform within the Carmelite Order, he took the name John of the CrossMaster of novicesSpiritual director and confessor at Saint Teresa‘sconvent. His reforms did not set well with some of his brothers, and he was ordered to return to Medina del Campo. He refused, and was imprisoned at ToledoSpain, escaping after nine months. Vicar-general of AndalusiaSpain. His reforms revitalized the Order. Great contemplative and spiritual writer. Proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius XI on 24 August 1926.

Faith Seeks Understanding: Why did God create the world?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Beautiful by MercyMe

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron at Our Lady of Guadalupe

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Call My Name by Third Day

Pope Benedict's Christmas Wishes

The following comes from the CNA:


Pope Benedict XVI revealed his three Christmas wishes for this year, just before remotely switching on the lights of the world’s largest Christmas tree.

“When we look at it our eyes are lifted up, raised toward the sky, toward the world of God,” said Pope Benedict from his papal apartment as he spoke via video link to the people of the Italian town of Gubbio in Umbria on the evening of Dec 7.

Their tree is over 2,000 feet tall and consists of hundreds of tiny light bulbs. The enormous display sits on the slopes of nearby Mount Ingino.

“My first wish,” he said, “is that our gaze, that of our minds and our hearts, rest not only on the horizon of this world, on its material things, but that it in some way, like this tree that tends upward, be directed toward God.”

He said that “God never forgets us, but he also asks that we don't forget him.”

The Pope’s second wish was that everyone remember that we “need a light to illumine the path of our lives and to give us hope, especially in this time in which we feel so greatly the weight of difficulties, of problems, of suffering, and it seems that we are enshrouded in a veil of darkness.”

The light that “truly illuminate our hearts” and give us “firm and sure hope” can only be found in “the Child whom we contemplate on Christmas, in a poor and humble manger, because He is the Lord who draws near to each of us and asks that we receive Him anew,” he said.

“My final wish,” concluded the Pope, “is that each of us contributes something of that light to the spheres in which we live: our families, our jobs, our neighborhoods, towns and cities.”

Pope Benedict also reflected on the season of Christmas and prayed that everybody will be a “light for those who are at our sides” so that we overcome our selfishness which so often “closes our hearts and leads us to think only of ourselves.”

He urged everyone to “pay greater attention to others, that we may love them more” during the Christmas season. “Any small gesture of goodness,” he said, “is like one of the lights of this great tree: together with other lights it illuminates the darkness of the night, even of the darkest night.”

The Pope then touched a computer tablet device and remotely illuminated Gubbio’s Christmas tree.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Aspenglow by John Denver

Pope Benedict reflects on Mary as the 'Woman of the Apocalypse'


The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the biblical description of a “woman clothed with the sun” in his remarks at Rome's Spanish Steps on the 2011 Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“What is the meaning of this image? It represents the Church and Our Lady at the same time,” the Pope told the crowd assembled before the nearby statue commemorating the 1854 definition of Mary's Immaculate Conception. “Before all, the 'woman' of the apocalypse is Mary herself.”

The 12th chapter of the Biblical Apocalypse – also known as the Book of Revelation – describes the glorification and persecution of “a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Though not named, this woman is described as the mother of the Messiah. In poetic language akin to the Bible's other prophetic books, Saint John says she faced the threat of “a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,” and “fled into the desert where she had a place prepared by God.”

Pope Benedict, offering white roses in his traditional yearly act of Marian veneration, gave listeners his insight into the connection between the Virgin Mary and the Church – portrayed in the Apocalypse through the single image of the sun-clad woman.

“She appears 'clothed in sunlight,' that is, clothed in God,” observed the Pope. “The Virgin Mary is in fact completely surrounded by the light of God and lives in God … The 'Immaculate One' reflects with all of her person the light of the 'sun' which is God.”

“Besides representing Our Lady, this sign personifies the Church, the Christian community of all times,” he continued.

The Church, he explained, is “pregnant, in the sense that she carries Christ” and “must give birth to him to the world.”

“This is the labor of the pilgrim Church on earth, that in the midst of the consolations of God and the persecutions of the world, she must bring Christ to men.”

Because the Church continues to bring Jesus into the world, Pope Benedict said, it “finds opposition in a ferocious adversary,” symbolized in scripture by the “dragon” that has “tried in vain to devour Jesus,” and now “directs his attacks against the woman – the Church – in the desert of the world.”

“But in every age the Church is supported by the light and the strength of God,” the Pope said. “She is nurtured in the desert with the bread of his word and the Holy Eucharist.”

“And in this way, in every tribulation, through all of the trials that she finds in the course of the ages and in the different parts of the world, the Church suffers persecution, but comes out the victor.”

Pope Benedict said the Church should not fear persecution, which is bound to arise, but will be defeated.

“The only pitfall of which the Church can and must be afraid is the sin of her members,” he warned, highlighting the key difference between the Church and the woman who is its prototype.

“While in fact Mary is immaculate – free from every stain of sin – the Church is holy, but at the same time marked by our sins.”

While sinless herself, Mary remains in solidarity with the Church struggling against sin.

“That is why the people of God, pilgrims in time, turn to their heavenly mother and ask for her help,” explained Pope Benedict.

He stressed the world's need for the hope brought by the “woman clothed with the sun” – “especially in this difficult moment for Italy, for Europe and for different parts of the world.”

“May Mary help us to see that there is a light beyond the veil of fog that appears to envelop reality,” he declared.

“For this also we, especially on this day, never cease to ask with filial trust for her help: 'O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you.'”

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pope Benedict: Mary shows what the Church can be

The following comes from the CNA:

The Church's nature and destiny are revealed in the Virgin Mary's perfect holiness, Pope Benedict XVI taught on the Dec. 8 Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

“In her sinless perfection, Mary is a great sign of hope for the Church and for the world, a sign of the marvels that God's grace can accomplish in us, his human creatures,” the Pope said in his remarks at the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

Christ's mother, he explained, received the fullest possible measure of the same grace given to believers through the sacraments of the Church.

“The expression 'full of grace' indicates the marvelous work of God, who wanted to give us back the life and liberty, lost by sin, through his only begotten Son,” said the Pope, reflecting on the Archangel Gabriel's greeting to Mary.

“We too are given the 'fullness of grace' that we need to shine in our lives,” he pointed out, citing Saint Paul's teaching that God “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing” and “destined us to be (his) sons” through baptism.

The Pope explained that Mary's complete preservation from original sin – a perennial teaching of the Church, formally proclaimed by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854 – was a “special grace and privilege of almighty God,” given to her “in anticipation of the merits of Jesus Christ.”

By this privilege, she became a prototype of the Church – which is “the virgin mother of all Christians,” in the words of St. Hildegard of Bingen cited by the Pope.

The same Pope who formally defined the Immaculate Conception, also confirmed Mary as the patroness of the United States under that title in 1847.

After leading the crowd in prayer, Pope Benedict offered his special greetings to English-speaking pilgrims on the feast day.

“In these days of Advent, in company with the holy and immaculate Mother of God,” he said, “let us prepare to welcome her son into our lives and into our hearts.”

“May God bestow His blessings of joy and peace upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.”

Pope Benedict reflects on Jesus’ relationship with ‘the childlike’


The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI told pilgrims at today’s general audience that through prayer Jesus calls the “childlike” into a loving relationship with him and the Father.

In his “cry of exultation,” Jesus “gives thanks to the Father because he has willed to reveal the mystery of salvation not to the wise and learned, but to the ‘little ones,’” the Pope told several thousand pilgrims gathered in the Vatican’s Paul VI Audience Hall on Dec. 7.

Pope Benedict continued his weekly catechesis on prayer with a mediation on the “jewel” of Christ’s prayer, his “Hymn of Joy,” which is found in the Gospels of St. Matthew 11:25-30 and St. Luke 10:21-22.

This prayer, he said, is the “apex of a path of prayer in which Jesus’ profound and intimate communion with the Father in the Holy Spirit and His divine sonship clearly emerges.”

At the beginning of the Scripture passages in question, Jesus says, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” This form of address has a twofold meaning, explained the Pope.

First, it shows "Jesus’ awareness and certainty of being ‘the Son’ in close and constant communion” with the Father. This, he said, is the “central point and source of Jesus’ every prayer.”

The second meaning is that it “recalls the great biblical narrative of the history of God’s love for human beings that began with creation.” Jesus, said the Pope, is the “summit and fulfillment” of “this story of love.” Thus, through his use of the phrase “Lord of heaven and earth” we also “recognize how Jesus is the one who reveals the Father,” as well as “the possibility of access to God” to humanity.

Pope Benedict also reflected on how God’s divine revelation does “not occur within earthly logic,” which would say that it is “the wise and powerful who posses important knowledge and transmit it to those who are more simple.” No, God’s logic turns that on its head as “his communication is addressed precisely to the ‘childlike.’”

This childlike state consists of nothing less than a “pureness of heart” that “allows us to recognize the face of God in Jesus Christ.”

“It is keeping our hearts as simple as those of children, without the presumptions of those who are locked in themselves, thinking they have no need of anyone, not even God,” he said.

Jesus concludes his prayer with the offer of rest to those who are “weary and burdened,” because his “yoke is easy” and “burden is light.”

The Pope observed that in his prayer, Jesus asks that “we go to Him, the true wisdom” since the “yoke” he speaks of is “neither a doctrine to learn nor an ethical proposal, but rather a Person to follow: He himself, the only-begotten Son, in perfect communion with the Father.”

This means that “we also can address God with the confidence of sons and daughters,” said the Pope.

And when we call God “Father” when we pray, the Pope taught, we also “have to keep the heart of a child, the heart of those ‘poor in spirit,’ in order to recognize that we are not self-sufficient, but that we need God, that we have to seek Him, listen to Him, speak to Him.”

Through prayer, he said, we open ourselves to receiving this gift from God, “his wisdom who is Jesus himself, in order to accept the will of the Father in our lives and to find consolation in the weariness of our journey.”

At the end of today’s audience, Pope Benedict wished pilgrims a happy feast day ahead of tomorrow’s Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a national holiday throughout Italy.

The day should remind us of “Mary's singular acceptance of God's salvific plan” and that she was “preserved from any stain of sin in order to be the holy dwelling place of the Incarnate Word, she always trusted fully in the Lord,” he said.

The Pope then concluded his audience by leading pilgrims in the singing of the Pater Noster, before imparting his apostolic blessing.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Blessed Marianne Cope to be Canonized


I found this great news at the Deacon's Bench site:


A nun who dedicated her life to caring for exiled leprosy patients is a step closer to sainthood.
The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints on Tuesday recommended to the pope that Blessed Marianne Cope be canonized, confirming previous rulings that a second miracle was due to her intercession.
In 1888, Cope succeeded Father Damien in caring for leprosy patients banished to the Kalaupapa settlement on Molokai. She died of natural causes in 1918 and was buried there. She could become the second saint with Hawaii ties; Damien gained sainthood in 2009.
"This is like the green light," said Sister Patricia Burkard of Tuesday's action. Burkard, a member of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, N.Y., hand-delivered a small box holding the reliquary of bone fragments from Cope's remains to Hawaii and toured the islands with the relic in May. It is on permanent display in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in downtown Honolulu.
Mother Marianne, born in Germany and raised in Utica, N.Y., is only of five so-called Blesseds in the country. She was only one of 50 religious leaders to respond positively to an emissary from Hawaii who requested for nuns to help care for Hansen's disease patients on Kalaupapa, the religious order said, earning her the title of "beloved mother of the outcasts."
In 2004, Pope John Paul II declared Mother Marianne "venerable," the first step toward canonization after the Vatican recognized her intercession for the unexplained cure of a New York girl dying of multiple organ failure. The Vatican must authenticate the second miracle for her to be declared a saint, which is expected to happen next year.

For the rest of the story please click here.

Saint of the day: Ambrose


Today we remember Ambrose of Milan, Saint and Doctor of the Church. The following come from the Patron Saints Index:

Born to the Roman nobility. Brother of Saint Marcellina and Saint Satyrus. Educated in the classics, Greek, and philosophy at Rome, Italy. Poet and noted orator. Convert to Christianity. Governor of Milan, Italy.
When the bishop of Milan died, a dispute over his replacement led to violence. Ambrose intervened to calm both sides; he impressed everyone involved so much that though he was still an unbaptized catechumen, he was chosen as the new bishop. He resisted, claiming that he was not worthy, but to prevent further violence, he assented, and on 7 December 374 he was baptized, ordained as a priest, and consecrated as bishop. He immediately gave away his wealth to the Church and the poor, both for the good it did, and as an example to his flock.


Noted preacher and teacher, a Bible student of renown, and writer of liturgical hymns. He stood firm against paganism and Arians. His preaching helped convert Saint Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose baptized and brought into the Church. Ambrose’s preaching brought Emperor Theodosius to do public penance for his sins. He called and chaired several theological councils during his time as bishop, many devoted to fighting heresy. Welcomed Saint Ursus and Saint Alban of Mainz when they fled Naxos to escape Arian persecution, and then sent them on to evangelize in Gaul and Germany. Proclaimed a great Doctor of the Latin Church by Pope Boniface VIII in 1298.


The title Honey Tongued Doctor was initially bestowed on Ambrose because of his speaking and preaching ability; this led to the use of a beehive and bees in his iconography, symbols which also indicate wisdom. This led to his association with bees, beekeepers, chandlers, wax refiners, etc.

How do we know we are encountering God?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pope Benedict: Advent is a time of self-examination, repentance


The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI used his Sunday Angelus remarks to encourage Christians to embrace self-examination and repentance during Advent.

“As we prepare for Christmas, it is important that we find time for self-contemplation and carry out an honest assessment of our lives,” he told thousands of pilgrims in a rain-soaked St. Peter’s Square Dec. 4.

“May we be enlightened by a ray of the light that comes from Bethlehem, the light of he who is ‘the greatest’ and made himself small, he who is ‘the strongest’ but became weak.”

The Pope focused upon the historical figure at the center of today’s gospel passage, Saint John the Baptist. He noted how the gospel presents John as “a very ascetic figure dressed in camel skin” who feeds on locusts and wild honey in the desert of Judea. John’s appearance was such that Jesus once contrasted him with those who wear fine clothing in royal palaces, the Pope noted.

“The style of John the Baptist was meant to call all Christians to choose a sober lifestyle, especially in preparation for the feast of Christmas,” said the Pope. Christmas is “when the Lord, as Saint Paul would say, ‘became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich’.”

John’s mission “was an extraordinary appeal to conversion,” the Pope explained. John’s baptism was tied to “a fiery invitation to a new way of thinking and acting,” and, above all, “to the announcement of God's justice.”

“Therefore, John’s appeal goes far beyond and deeper than a call to a sober lifestyle: it is a call for inner change, starting with the recognition and confession of our sins.”

St. Peter’s Square itself is also preparing for Christmas. Its traditional nativity scene is currently being built in the center of the square and will be inaugurated on Dec. 24.

Tomorrow will see the Vatican Christmas tree erected next to the square’s central obelisk. The 100-foot-tall spruce is a gift to the Pope from the people of the Zakarpattia region of Ukraine.  It will be decorated in lights and blessed on Dec. 16.

The Pope concluded his address by entrusting the Advent journey “towards the Lord who comes,” to the intercession of Mary, “the virgin who awaits,” as we “prepare our hearts and our lives for the coming of Emmanuel, God-with-us.”

Why Is There So Much Disorder In The Universe?

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Rich Mullins Interview

Saint of the day: John of Damascus


Hat tip to the Catholic Fire on this one!

Saint John Damascene (also known as St. John of Damscus) was born In Damascus, Syria around 676 AD into a rich family and spent the early years of his adult life serving as the official representative of the Christian community to the Muslim Caliph. He later abandoned this political task to join the monastery of St. Sabas near Jerusalem where he became a priest and ultimately bishop.

St. John Damascene is known as one of the last of the Fathers of the Church. He was a strong defender of the use of images (icons) in Christian worship against the iconoclasts and wrote a book "On the Orthodox Faith" that sums up the doctrinal heritage of the earlier Greek Fathers. In this great synthesis we find a systematic treatment of the central Christian doctrines, especially the Trinity, Creation, and the Incarnation. St. John Damascene's treatment of the Sacraments is also extensive, and his emphasis on the real bodily presence of Jesus in the Eucharist is very strong. Notable too in his teaching is a fully developed doctrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary including her perpetual virginity, her freedom from sin throughout the whole of her life, and her bodily assumption into heaven.

St. John Damascene's influence on later theology was considerable indeed. In the Latin Middle Ages, he was known to Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas. All throughout the Middle Ages his works were known and widely used by Eastern Christian Theologians, especially the Slavs. He died died some time between 754 and 787 AD and was declared a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1890.

Archbishop Sheen: Three Greatest Confessions of History



Saturday, December 3, 2011

I'm Coming Home Again by Rhydian Roberts

A Catholic Bucket List!



The following comes from Our Sunday Visitor:

You can read the rest of the story at OSV but here is their Catholic Bucket list!

1. Go to Rome.

This is, I suppose, pretty obvious. We’re talking Eternal City. The City. The one they based Minas Tirith on in “The Lord of the Rings.” Older than New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., put together — not to mention London, Paris, Berlin and the concept of the nation-state — this is the place where the civilization called “Europe” looks to when they want to think about what civilized people were doing while the English, French and Germans were painting themselves blue and running around naked in the woods. Yes, while all that we think of as “modern Europe” was drunk on mead, living in mud huts and setting up rows of rocks as their greatest cultural achievements, Rome was already ancient.

Rome is, of course, where the pope lives and St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and much of the rest of the greatest of pagan and Christian civilization finds a natural home. It is a place that has endured plagues, seen sumptuous festivals both heathen and Catholic, been occupied by everybody from barbarian hordes to the Nazis, and doggedly remained the See of Peter even when the pope was goofing off in Avignon. Plus, you got your Italian food, your easy mileage to places like Assisi, Florence and the resting place of Padre Pio (as well as 50 bazillion other places chockablock with the memory — and bones — of 50 bazillion saints, including Peter and Paul).

2. The Great Cathedrals.

After the pagans of northern Europe were Christianized by the former pagans of southern Europe, they did what people in love do: gave extravagant gifts. The greatest extravagant gifts the northern Europeans gave God and their descendants were the great cathedrals. Words can really not do justice to them. Unlike my still-unrealized dream of visiting the Eternal City, I have actually had a chance to see a medieval cathedral in the form of Yorkminster in England. It is a stunning fulfillment of Christ’s words that the very stones would cry out “Hosanna.” That the whole thing was crafted into being over the course of centuries by human beings with no internal combustion engine is itself a miracle. That a whole civilization across Europe could create not one but many of these splendors in the form of Notre Dame, of the cathedrals at Cologne, Reims, Innsbruck, Salz-burg, Vienna and on and on is breathtaking. To walk through one is to feel yourself be changed by the experience.

3. Go on a pilgrimage.

There are two basic ways of doing this and some Catholics never get around to doing either, which is a shame. The first way is to go on a pilgrimage. This generally means taking a walk — a long one and, if you want the full Catholic meal deal, doing it in the company of a bunch of strangers who have nothing in common with you but the fact that they are also on pilgrimage. A recent portrayal of this is Emilio Estevez’s fine little film “The Way,” which concerns people on the famous Camino de Santiago that takes pilgrims from France to Spain and, more importantly, to an interior encounter with God.

The pilgrimage is actually older than Christianity, and its roots can be found in Old Testament religion as pilgrims went up from the towns of Israel to the great feasts of the Old Testament calendar celebrated in Jerusalem at the Temple. Psalms 120-134 are known as the “Songs of Ascent” because they were sung by pilgrims climbing up to Mount Zion from the lowlands of Israel.

Catholic culture adopted the pilgrimage first in paying visits to the Holy Land and the scenes of Jesus’ ministry, passion, death and resurrection and then to the graves of saints and martyrs such as St. Thomas Becket (whose pilgrimage was the setting for the most famous tale of pilgrims in history, the 14th-century “Canterbury Tales”). When the Holy Land became off limits due to Muslim conquest, this inspired inventive Catholics to create the second form of pilgrimage: the Stations of the Cross. If you can’t make it to Jerusalem due to airfare costs or Saracens, you can still walk with our Lord in the convenience and safety of your own sanctuary.

4. Seek out Catholic literature.

Speaking of the “Canterbury Tales,” there is a vast ocean of great Catholic literature every Catholic should at least take a dip in before they die (though deep-sea diving is perfectly fine to try, too). Most people can’t immerse themselves in all of it, but everybody can bite off and chew on some of it. The primary Catholic book is, of course, The Book: the Holy Bible. Don’t be afraid. It doesn’t bite. If you are not sure where to start, get yourself a handy Ignatius Study Bible, edited by Scott Hahn and Curtis Mitch, and read deeply. Beyond this, the Church Fathers are a delight to read, particularly the eloquent and fascinating Augustine. Mike Aquilina has some great books out, such as “The Fathers of the Church” (OSV, $13.95), which give you a nice introduction to them.

5. See the Bard on stage.

Ha! I’m going to recommend Shakespeare anyway since he is not only the greatest dramatist but the greatest Catholic dramatist in this or any other language. Only I will recommend you see Shakespeare’s plays rather than read them (since that’s what he wrote them for, never envisioning the suffering legions of ninth-graders who would have to analyze “Hamlet”). Great productions abound and, since this a bucket list, I will go ahead and say that you need to hie thee to either the Globe in London or to the Ashland Shakespeare Festival in Oregon (or to some great production in New York) and see it done live. Start with a comedy if you feel intimidated, then move on to a history such as “Henry V” or a tragedy like “King Lear.” If you can’t do the stage, there are some great film adaptations right there on Netflix.

6. Get to know G.K.

I would be remiss if I did not mention great novels, poetry, social criticism, theology, biography, literary criticism, history, philosophy and comic wit. Since I cannot give you a library of authors in this space, I will give you a man who was a library: G.K. Chesterton, perhaps the greatest genius writing in English in the 20th century. Hilariously funny, deeply sympathetic to the common man, a humble lover of God and neighbor, a colossal genius, and one of the deepest thinkers who ever lived, Chesterton wrote about everything and wrote brilliantly. Dive in anywhere, from his Father Brown mysteries to his “Orthodoxy” and “Everlasting Man” to his great poem “Lepanto” — and that is just the tip of the vast iceberg of his work. You can’t go wrong. There’s something hilarious, profound and beautiful on every page.

7. Classical Catholics.

I won’t kid you. I’m no expert in music. But since the point of this list is to point to some of the best there is, not to pretend that I am an expert in the best there is, then no list is complete without noting summits of Catholic music such as Palestrina. Now I am the exact wrong person to guide you through Palestrina, just as I am the exact wrong person to Sherpa guide you up Mount Everest. But even a hairless chimp like me can point to the summit and say, “That’s one big beautiful mountain right there!” Also on the bucket list is Mozart. And I will throw in J.S. Bach as an honorary Catholic for his St. Matthew Passion.

8. In beat with the Faith

In addition to the high-falutin’, there is also the vast quantity of great music created by Catholic culture at the grass roots, such as Cajun music or the wonderful stuff that wafts from the fiddle of Canada’s Natalie MacMaster, or even jazz (so much of it born in the Catholic milieu of New Orleans). Did you know that Dave Brubeck wrote a Mass? The greatest Christmas carol of all time — “Silent Night” — was written by a Catholic. And much of our heritage of folk songs and hymns come down to us from sundry Catholic cultures. Your No. 8 bucket list assignment: Go poke around and see how much Catholic culture has been the matrix for some of the world’s greatest popular music. You’ll be surprised. It’s at the back of everything from the Beatles’ “Let it Be” and “Eleanor Rigby” to the collected works of Bing Crosby. Not all of it is great, but even when it is outright depraved (as with Madonna and Lady Gaga), it is remarkable how inescapable the Catholic influence is. Even as he blasphemes, the devil cannot help but offer his homage to the Church. Every knee shall bow. You can do worse than reflect on the fact that the world cannot escape the Gospel, no matter how hard it tries.

9. Works of mercy

Where to start? Monasteries with whole buildings made from the bones of monks. The Hill of Tara, which is ground zero for the conversion of Ireland by St. Patrick. The Lord of the Rings. The Hound of Heaven. The Summa Theologiae. Dante’s Divine Comedy. Tuscany. The list can go on and on. But if St. Lawrence is to be believed, the real action in terms of the treasures of the Church is the poor, blind, disabled, hungry, sick, alien, orphan and widow. So an absolutely vital part of any Catholic bucket list is to find some way to be part of helping the least of these. This is particularly important since shortly after you kick the bucket there will be a brief interview at the Pearly Gates in which care for the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and homeless will figure prominently in the discussion. (We know this because Jesus gave us a cheat sheet for the exam known as the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46. He’s an “easy A” teacher and always gives us the correct answers ahead of time.) Therefore, I recommend a stint at a soup kitchen, a junket to an impoverished Third World nation to build wells, a trip to Mexico to help build an orphanage or one of the myriad other corporal and spiritual works of mercy with which the Catholic Church abounds.

10. Make peace with God.

It can be argued that the greatest thing about the Catholic faith is that it both teaches us how, and gives us the means, to die really well. Since you are going to kick the bucket, you may as well do it in style, prayed up, forgiven in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, anointed, full of the grace of viaticum, and at peace as you make the Great Change. Heaven is, after all, the ultimate pilgrimage destination!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Revelation Song by Kari Jobe

Fr. Barron comments on David and Spirituality of the Priesthood


Pope Benedict on the Our Father

The following comes from the Zenit.org site:

Benedict XVI is beginning an examination of Jesus' prayer in his Wednesday catecheses, and today he considered Our Lord's prayer like a "secret channel irrigating his existence, his relationships and his acts."
Until today, the Pope had drawn from the Old Testament for his teaching series on prayer, most recently concluding with a reflection on the Psalms.
In today's audience, he spoke of Jesus as the "Master for our prayer; indeed, he is the fraternal and active support each and every time we turn to the Father."
"The whole of Jesus’ life -- lived in a family profoundly tied to the religious tradition of the people of Israel -- stands against the backdrop of this extraordinary prayer. The references we find in the Gospels demonstrate this: His circumcision (cf. Luke 2:21) and His presentation in the temple (cf. Luke 2:22-24), as well as the education and formation He received at Nazareth in the holy house (cf. Luke 2:39-40 and 2:51-52). We are speaking here of 'about thirty years' (Luke 3:23), a long period of hidden, daily life -- even if marked by experiences of participation in moments of communal religious expression, like the pilgrimage to Jerusalem (cf. Luke 2:41)," he explained.
Personal relationship
The Holy Father noted how Jesus' prayer is "found always at the crossroads between insertion into the tradition of his people and the newness of a unique personal relationship with God."
"In our prayer also," he said, "we must learn increasingly to enter into this history of salvation whose summit is Jesus; [we must learn] to renew before God our personal decision to open ourselves to his Will, and to ask him for the strength to conform our will to his -- in every aspect of our lives -- in obedience to his plan of love for us."
Benedict XVI proposed that Jesus' prayer is an invitation to examine our own prayer lives: "In looking to the prayer of Jesus, a question should arise in us: How do I pray? How do we pray? What sort of time do I dedicate to my relationship with God? Does there exist today a sufficient education and formation in prayer? And who can be its teacher?"
"Christians are called to be witnesses to prayer because our world is often closed to divine horizons and to the hope that leads to an encounter with God," the Pope affirmed. "Through a deep friendship with Jesus -- and by living a filial relationship with the Father in Him and with Him -- by our faithful and constant prayer we can open the windows to God's heaven. Indeed, in walking along the way of prayer -- without regard for human concern -- we can help others to travel the same road: for it is true also of Christian prayer that, in travelling along its paths, paths are opened."