Monday, December 29, 2008

The Real Rudy

You can tell what I do during Christmas break: watch movies! Here is the real Rudy story!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

l like being a Catholic!

This awesome song was inspired for WYD 1993. It needs to be updated for PB XVI but it's still a great song!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Preparations for the Holy Father's visit to the Holy Land

The preparation for Benedict XVI's possible visit to the Holy Land, which could take place in May 2009, has given positive impetus to the relations between Israel and the Holy See.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem� concluded the meeting of the Bilateral Permanent Commission between the Holy See and the State of Israel on December 18. This meeting confirmed the decision to reach agreements that have been� suspended since the signing of the Fundamental Treaty of December 30, 1993 in order to begin reciprocal diplomatic relations.

The negotiations have nothing to do with the Pope's visit, but, as sources in the Holy See explained, the trip is of interest because of the positive image that the Papal visit will leave, as the presence of the Church in the Holy Land, the issue at the center of the negotiations, has great importance to the Holy Father. The communiqu� also stressed the "atmosphere of great cordiality and goodwill."

In recent days, a Vatican delegation met President Shimon Peres to discuss the details of the Papal visit, which could affect Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Images of the Nativity from Piazza del Popolo in Rome

Images of the traditional Nativity scene display, more than 200 from all around the world, in Piazza del Popolo in Rome.

Benedict XVI: Bethlehem reflects on each child

God is with men who attend to and follow his word, only if man changes will the world change. This was the Christmas message of Benedict XVI delivered in his homily at the Midnight Mass, an intense celebration of the ancient Kalenda chant announcing the birth of the Savior. In St. Peter's Basilica before the cardinals, archbishops and bishops, the Diplomatic Corps, and the faithful, the Pope raised an appeal that Bethlehem reflect upon every child: on street children, child soldiers, exploited children, those without family. We must do everything possible to end the suffering of these children, because evil can be won. Christmas is hope, as the trees that bring cheer to homes demonstrate: look to Christ who comes. And bring an end to hatred and violence in the land where Jesus was born, the Middle East.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas in Iraq 2008

"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
-Isaiah 9:6-7

A Catholic resident kisses the feet of a statue of Jesus Christ after attending a holy mass on Christmas Day at the Virgin Mary church in central Baghdad December 25, 2008

Worshipers attend a mass on Christmas Eve at a Syrian Catholic church in Hamdaniya town, east of Mosul, 390 km northwest of Baghdad, December 24, 2008. (AP)

Iraqi Christian children light candles at Saint Teriza church after Christmas Day mass in Basra, 550 kilometers (340 miles) southeast of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Dec. 25, 2008. Christmas Day was this year for the first time declared an official holiday in Iraq. (AP/Nabil al-Jurani)
Iraqis today celebrated Christmas Mass without fear.
An Iraqi Christmas bonfire:

Iraqi Christians gather around a fire during Christmas Eve mass at The Great Virgin Mariam Church in Hamdaniya area, 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of the northern city of Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2008. (AP Photo) Hat-tip to Gateway Pundit for some of these photos and the verse!

Christmas in Medjugorje

Thanks to Ed of In God's Company blog for this beautiful image from St. James Church of Christmas in Medjugorje!
Below is the monthly message of the Queen of Peace to the visionaries:

Message of December 25, 2008 "Dear children! You are running, working, gathering - but without blessing. You are not praying! Today I call you to stop in front of the manger and to meditate on Jesus, Whom I give to you today also, to bless you and to help you to comprehend that, without Him, you have no future. Therefore, little children, surrender your lives into the hands of Jesus, for Him to lead you and protect you from every evil. Thank you for having responded to my call."

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

Have yourself a Merry little Chritsmas

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Vatican Christmas: Blessing of the Crib

This is from last years Midnight Mass. Merry Christmas to all and God bless you!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Jobs... a list of my jobs!

So the Anchoress sent me this question and I will do my best to answer it... then send it on to 5 more lucky bloggers!

"It’s simple. Just list all the jobs you’ve had in your life, in order. Don’t bust your brain: no durations or details are necessary, and feel free to omit anything that you feel might tend to incriminate you. I’m just curious. And when you’re done, tag another five bloggers you’re curious about.”

Here goes: I will go in reverse

*Seminary Director for Salesians of Don Bosco
*Coordinator of Youth Ministry at Don Bosco Prep High School
*Theology Teacher at Salesian High School
*Seminary pastoral assignment at San Marin de los Flores in Guadalajara, Mexico
*Seminary pastoral assignment at Mount Carmel Medical Center
*Theology teacher at Salesian High School and Don Bosco Prep
(the stuff from below is before I entered the Salesians)
*Cafeteria worker at LSU... go Tigers!
*Warehouse work at Mervyn's, KMart, and Capitol Wholesalers.

So there you have it! Now... who to pick on next?

How about:

Patrick Madrid
Catholic Mom of 10
Fr. Anthony Ho
Life in the Abundant Lane
The Happy Nun!

No Bethlehem wine for Christmas: Salesian Winery faces difficult days

The Cremisan winery an almost forgotten landmark in Bethlehem, is sandwiched in between Israeli apartment blocks and Palestinian luxury villas and is the home of a Salesian community.

Cremisan is on the border between the West Bank and Jerusalem, with the main building officially in Jerusalem and the storeroom on the other side of the parking lot in the West Bank. The long winding road to the monastery is just past one of the coordinating offices between Israel and the Palestinian Autonomy.

The main monastery building, which dates from the last century, has stone floors, worn shiny with use and scrubbing, and high arched ceilings. The walls are several meters thick, providing defense against winter chill and summer heat. Prominently pictured on walls throughout are Pope John Paul II and Don Bosco, founder of the Salesian order, to which the monastery belongs. However, these are troubling days for the winery and for all Palestinian Christians. The following is from the Catholic News site:

The Salesians have been producing the wine for the past 125 years as a direct means of support for their pastoral and educational work among the poor of Bethlehem and to provide a livelihood for many local Palestinian families.

Now, for the first time in more than 100 years, the churches and religious establishments in Jerusalem, Nazareth and other parts of Israel are being deprived of Cremisan wine, Middle East Online says.

Christian hotels and pilgrim houses in Israel are now being forced to buy Israeli wine. Because wines for export are shipped through the Israeli port of Haifa, no export to the UK and Europe has been possible for several months.

Christians in the Holy Land and abroad buy the wine not just for its quality but because its purchase assists the economy of Bethlehem, which has been devastated by the drop in pilgrim numbers as result of the political troubles in recent years.

Cremisan began to export to the UK in 2006 through a not-for-profit company, 5th Gospel Retreats, and to Germany through Cremisan Germany.

The majority of sales are of altar wine which is a pure, unadulterated wine certified for celebration of the Mass by the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem. It is sold principally by mail order and delivered in the UK to an increasing number of churches and religious establishments.

This is the latest obstacle in a series of increasing difficulties faced by the winery this year. Supplies of glass bottles have been held up as well as several truckloads of freshly harvested grapes, thus rendering them useless for wine production.

All lorries and vans to and from Cremisan have been forced to travel south to the checkpoint at Hebron, such that a journey to Jerusalem of 10 minutes has become a journey of at least 6 hours, including waiting at the checkpoint followed by security checks, with no certainty as to whether permission to pass through would be granted.

During 2008 the path of the Israeli Separation Wall was extended to include the Cremisan vineyards. Once completed, the wall will sever Cremisan from the Bethlehem villages where all the workers live, allowing entry to the winery only through a new checkpoint.

The Salesians are currently negotiating for their staff to be allowed permits to work so that they do not lose their livelihoods and the winery will not lose its skilled workforce.

There is now no Cremisan altar wine available for UK churches, including both Catholic and Anglican parishes.

In October Fr Franco Ronzani, Rector and Director of Cremisan, sent a letter of explanation and thanks to the UK clergy for their continued support, expecting the shipments to be made in November.

When the news finally came through two weeks ago that the wine was not being allowed through the checkpoint, 5th Gospel Retreats immediately informed the clergy why their wine would not arrive as promised in time for Christmas.

The response from the clergy was one of sadness and concern at the treatment of the Salesians and their wine. They are asking 5th Gospel Retreats to make representations to the Israeli Embassy and the British Government, as well as to the authorities of the Catholic and Anglican Churches in both the UK and Jerusalem.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Food for thought: A reflection from an atheist of an encounter with a good man

I have enjoyed some of the comedy of Penn and Teller in the past but never really knew anything about them. It seems that Penn is an outspoken athiest who feels that faith and religion have brought more harm than good to people. I was disappointed to find that to be his opinion, but was pleased to hear his recent reflection on meeting a real Christian. It offers so me great reflections that each of us might do well to reflect on. I found the following on Patrick Madrid's new blog:

This is an amazing little video commentary from comedian Penn Jillette (from the act Penn & Teller), a profane, outspoken atheist who has been vicious at times in his public attacks on religion. Even so, this video clip is worth watching. He speaks candidly about a post-show encounter he had recently with a Christian audience member who gave him a Bible. He asks rhetorically a very important question that makes perfect logical sense, coming from an atheist. I just wish more Christians were in a position to answer it.

It may well be that, down the road, according to God's merciful providence, Penn Jillette will come to believe in God. You never know.

We should all pray that Penn Jillette does one day encounter the Lord in his life. God bless all those who have the courage needed to boldly offer Christ to others!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Shoes

Friday, December 19, 2008

Vietnamese Priest warns Church: "Prepare for more persecutions!"

In our age of constantly changing news cycles we don't tend to follow a story more than a few days. Some weeks ago we saw the focus fall upon the conflict between the Catholic Church in Vietnam and their national government. We need to continue to pray for the Church there as things seem to be getting worse for the faithful. Archbishop Ngô Quang Kiệt, the Archbishop of Hanoi, has lately received a great deal of attention as he stands up for the rights of the faithful. Groups of government thugs have even called for his arrest and death! Also, group of nuns are being opposed by the government for instructing orphans in the faith! They are accused of ‘training a generation of unfortunate youth to be an anti-revolution force to oppose the liberation of the country'. You can read more on that story here. Also, I found the following story on the Catholic News Agency:

Vietnam’s Redemptorist provincial superior is resisting calls from a Hanoi government official who is pushing for the Hanoi members of the Redemptorist order to be transferred out of the city. The priests have been critical of the trial of eight Catholic protesters recently found guilty by the city government.

The pressure comes after more than a year of disputes between the Church and the Vietnamese government surrounding property confiscated by the government. The government demand prompted one priest to warn the Church to “prepare for more persecutions.”

Recently, several Catholics who had protested for the return of the confiscated property were convicted of destroying property and disturbing the public order. Despite the protesters receiving suspended sentences, many local Catholics considered the trial to be a sham.

In the wake of the trial, the People’s Committee of Hanoi asked Redemptorist Superior Fr. Vincent Nguyen Trung Thanh to transfer the Redemptorists who supported the Catholics on trials out of the city.

On December 12 Chairman Thao sent a letter to Fr. Vincent Nguyen and Bishop Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, president of the Vietnam Conference of Catholic Bishops. The chairman demanded that the bishops and the provincial superior “educate, and immediately transfer out of the area of the capital” four priests.

The priests are Fr. Mathew Vu Khoi Phung, the superior of Hanoi Monastery; Fr. Peter Nguyen Van Khai, Fr. Joseph Nguyen Van That and Fr. John Nguyen Ngoc Nam Phong.

The chairman said he considered the transfer to be a “necessary condition to improve state-Church relations,” VietCatholic News reports. Fr. Vincent Nguyen, writing to the committee, defended the religious involved and said they have “not done anything against current Church Canon Law,” Fr. J.B. An Dang told CNA. “I have no rights to transfer my brothers who have done nothing wrong,” he stated. “In this case, they even have carried out greatly their pastoral duties,” he added. “They have devoted themselves to their priesthood. They have stood on the side of the poor and those who have suffered injustice.”

Responding to accusations from committee chairman Nguyen The Thao, the provincial superior said the religious “did not say anything wrong. They simply told the truth.”

Fr. Vincent Nguyen addressed concerns that the refusal would lead to more tensions in Church-state relations and could provoke more government crackdowns in an interview with Radio Free Asia (RFA). He said he did not believe submitting to government demands could help improve relations. “The Church-state relation depends on many factors. The way the government treats people, its religion policy, the land law... There are a lot,” he said.

The provincial superior called for sincere dialogue and self-restraint from government officials. “The Church needs to prepare for more persecutions,” Hanoi priest Fr. Joseph Nguyen warned, suggesting that a careful reading of Chairman Thao’s letter shows that he did not actually expect the Redemptorists to be transferred. “He expected and truly wanted the Church leaders to say no,” Fr. Joseph Nguyen claimed. “The tone of the letter was so hostile, and so demanding. It also upset readers with the word ‘god’ in small case. It was not in tune with the claimed intention. “What Thao really wants now is a good excuse for administratively coercive measures. Please pray for the Church in Vietnam. As Christmas draws near, we are still at the Golgotha on the Good Friday,” he concluded.

You can read more on this issue and the struggle of the Vietnamese Catholic faithful here.

Update on the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

I have posted on this group of Sisters before, but I thought this video was very worth looking at. God bless this group of young religious! They must be doing something right! The CBC did a great job on this.

I love to see and hear good news about vocations. Many of you may have heard of the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. They are a Roman Catholic religious order that was started out of Pope John Paul II's call in Vita Consecrata. They are based in Ann Arbor, MI and was founded by four sisters in 1997. The community's apostolate is Catholic education. They currently run the Spiritus Sanctus Academies, private and independent K-8 Catholic Schools in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lansing, and also have small groups of sisters teaching in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston, Sacramento, Venice and Phoenix at both the elementary and secondary levels. They also offer spiritual retreats, and spreading the faith by giving talks at colleges, Catholic groups, vocation fairs and other places. In the past 11 years they have grown from 4 Sisters to over 70! God bless them and continue to send them vocations!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cardinal Arinze Presents "Letter to a Young Priest"

Cardinal Arinze offers advice to young priests! The following comes from Zenit:

A priest who lives his celibacy with joy, fidelity and a positive spirit is a testimony that cannot be ignored in today's world, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.

The cardinal, who just retired last week from his post as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, affirmed this today when he presented on Vatican Radio his book "Riflessioni sul sacerdozio. Lettera a un giovane sacerdote" (Reflections on the Priesthood: Letter to a Young Priest). Excerpts from the volume were published by L'Osservatore Romano.

"The Church has always had great esteem for the celibacy of priests," the cardinal wrote. "Christ lived a virginal life, taught chastity to his disciples, and proposed virginity to those who are willing and able to follow a similar call."

"In priestly life, perpetual celibacy for the Kingdom of Heaven expresses and stimulates pastoral charity," he added. "It is a special fount of spiritual fruitfulness in the world. […] It is a testimony that stands out before the world as an efficacious way to follow Christ."

The cardinal said that in today's world, "immersed in an exaggerated preoccupation with sex and the violation of its sacredness […] a presbyter who lives his vow of chastity with joy, fidelity and a positive spirit is a testimony that cannot be ignored."

Through priestly celibacy, the prelate continued, "the presbyter consecrates himself more directly to Christ in the exercise of spiritual paternity." He is more available "as a minister of Christ, spouse of the Church," and he can "truly present himself as a living sign of the future world, which is already present through faith and charity."


The priest "should not doubt about the value or the possibility of celibacy because of the threat of loneliness," Cardinal Arinze contended, because solitude is also present to a certain degree in every state of life, also in matrimony.

Thus, he affirmed, it would be erroneous to try to avoid loneliness, "diving more and more into activities and continuously organizing new meetings, trips or visits." Instead, what the priest needs "is silence, tranquility and recollection to be in the presence of God, to give greater attention to God and to encounter Christ in personal prayer before the tabernacle."

"Only then will he be able to see Christ in every person that he encounters during his ministry," the prelate stated.


The retired Vatican official acknowledged that fraternity is also important in living celibacy. "The ideal is that the bishop makes it so that priests live in pairs or trios by parish, instead of alone," because "they need each other to make their potential grow to the maximum."

The priest's master and teacher is Christ, the cardinal recalled, and even if it is not possible to imitate him in the tiniest detail, "this does not exempt us from following him in the closest way possible."

Cardinal Arinze also mentioned the other two evangelical counsels in the life of the priest: obedience and poverty.

Obedience to the Pope, the bishop and their representatives is based in faith, he said, "and it is the instrument by which the priest gives God the opportunity to avail entirely of himself so as to fulfill the mission of the Church."

"God protects the priest who respects and obeys his bishop with firm fidelity and nobility of character," the cardinal said.

And the virtue of poverty, he continued, involves the priest's use of his money, avoiding anything that could lead to attachment to earthly goods or be an inclination to excessive spending. The priest, he said, should remember the poor, the sick, the elderly and all those with needs. His means of transportation, his house and furnishings, his way of dressing -- all should avoid being like the rich and powerful.

The cardinal suggested that a test of priestly generosity is to ask himself how well he lives charity, and how many poor people -- needy seminarians or consecrated persons -- will mourn his death as the loss of a father in Christ and a benefactor.

Benedict XVI offers thanks for the gift of the Christmas Tree, a sign of Christmas spirituality

Benedict XVI thanked the German-speaking pilgrims of Lower Austria, and the governor of the region, for the gift of the Christmas tree which has been placed in St Peter's Square. In his address, the Holy Father stressed the importance of Christmas traditions, which are renewed each year and offer believers the opportunity to spiritually prepare for the Birth of the Savior.

The eyes of the Christian world are on Jesus of Nazareth, the God who comes, inviting men and women to renew their lives and to base them on the presence of God in the world. Pope Benedict noted how the Christmas spirit will spread in the Apostolic Palace, thanks to the gift of the tree.

Vocations, basketball and the Bishop!

I enjoyed this interview with Bishop Burbidge. He speaks after the second annual Roman Catholic Diocese of Raleigh Men in Black vocations basketball game. Never argue with the ref... especially if he is your Bishop! God bless their efforts!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pope Benedict Prepares WYD Themes

The following comes from Catholic News Service:

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen the themes for the next three World Youth Days in order to help young Catholics better prepare for the international gathering in 2011.

The Vatican published the list of themes for 2009-2011 in a Dec. 16 press release.

The next international gathering will be held August 16-21, 2011, in Madrid, Spain.

The theme for the 2011 event is "Rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith." The quotation is taken from the second chapter of St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians.

"We have set our hope on the living God" is the theme chosen by Pope Benedict for the 2009 celebrations, which will be held on the diocesan level.

In 2010, also on the diocesan level, young people will focus on the theme "Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"

The Pope chose all three themes ahead of time "to help build a spiritual itinerary that will lead to the international WYD scheduled to take place in Madrid," in 2011, said the Vatican press release.

Pope Benedict to Taiwan Bishops: Evangelize!

Benedict XVI's speech to the Bishops of Taiwan at the end of their Ad Limina to Rome.

Do not be afraid of evangelizing because God is with you, the Pope said in his speech to the Bishops of Taiwan at the end of their Ad Limina visit.

Benedict XVI explained that the Church must be one big family and emphasized how important it is to be good Catholics and good citizens in the society where one lives.

Bearing in mind the faithful who live in main land China, the Pope sent a request through the Bishops to Catholics in Taiwan: to pray for the great Chinese Catholic family that they may continue to live united.

Benedict XVI encouraged the bishops to care for the pastoral needs of migrants and to attend to their material needs, making charity an effective practice.

The Life of Christ in Art!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Holy Father to University students: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for man's salvation

Benedict XVI meets Roman University students and faculty before Christmas: 'Salvation comes from Christ and is offered to all, without distinction'

"Let Paul speak to you, Christian teachers and students of Rome today, and let him draw you into the experience that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God for salvation for all who believe." Thus Benedict XVI turned to the seven thousand students and teachers of the Roman universities that gathered Thursday evening in Saint Peter's Basilica for the traditional pre-Christmas meeting with the Pope. After the celebration presided over by the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, Agostino Vallini, Benedict XVI spoke to the Roman universities, taking his point of departure from the Pauline Year's way of formation, initiated by the diocesan university apostolate.

"The Christian, who was revolutionary in the historical and cultural context of Paul, retains a force of novelty that is always present, explained the Holy Father, and is still capable of bringing down other walls that reappear in many different contexts, in every age. The source of that strength lies in the Spirit of Christ, announced by Paul with the news of the salvation brought by Christ to humanity: in His death and resurrection, salvation is offered to all people without distinction."

At the end of his address, Benedict XVI presented a digital copy of the Letter of Paul to the Romans to 12 university representatives.

"If I Die Before You Wake" Tribute to Armed Forces

This video is a tribute and a thank-you to all those who have served our country. The song is "If I Die Before You Wake" by Dustin Evans.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

"Bella": The Movie that Celebrates Life

Bella, the movie that won the People's Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival in 2007, was presented world-wide in 2008. A Metanoiafilms production that stars Eduardo Verástegui, Mexican actor and producer; the movie recounts a love story, as Eduardo himself explained:

"A love story that goes beyond romance; the story of a man who had everything in life, or better, what he thought was everything: money, fame and many other things."

Bella has changed the life of many people, Verástegui said, including his:

"A movie that has changed my life; I had never worked on a project as significant as Bella."
"It is a movie that celebrates life, that celebrates our values, our culture, our music, our food and many other things."

Verástegui expresses his hope:

"When people see our movies, those produced by Metanoiafilms and in this case Bella, that they may feel inspired, full of love, faith and hope."

Filmed on the streets of New York in the span of only 23 days, this movie was produced with a budget of approximately 3 million dollars and has earned more than 8 million dollars in the US.

It was launched on line in 2008 at
For more information on the movie, visit

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let's keep CHRIST in Christmas!

Keep CHRIST in CHRISTMAS! This is a phrase we have heard many times over the past several years. It seems for many, even those in the Church, the traditional Christmas is not inclusive enough. All of this is very tedious and silly, but the thought that we might lose so many of our rich traditions is real. We need to stop all of this and not permit the secularization of the world to influence our own celebration of the King of Kings! The story below is an illustration of the cultural battle we are in.

Martin Beckford of the Telegraph writes the following:

Enduring favourites such as Hark the Herald Angels Sing and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen are being altered by clergy to make them more "modern and inclusive".

But churchgoers say there is no need to change the popular carols and complain that the result is a "festive car crash" if not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

It comes just a day after a Church of England vicar banned his congregation from singing O Little Town of Bethlehem because he believed its words do not reflect the suffering endured by modern residents of Jesus's birthplace.

Another clergyman has rewritten the Twelve Days of Christmas to include Aids victims, drug addicts and hoodies.

Steve Goddard, co-editor of the Christian website Ship of Fools, which is running a competition to find the worst example of a rewritten carol, said: "It's a festive car crash.
"Half the congregation sing familiar words from memory, while the rest stumble over revised alternatives. Our readers are telling us straight – for some new versions there should be no room at the inn."

Among the "theologically-modified, politically-corrected" carols encountered by visitors to the website are Hark the Herald Angels Sing in which the line "Glory to the newborn King" has been replaced by "Glory to the Christ child, bring".

The well-known refrain of O Come All Ye Faithful – "O come let us adore Him" – has also been changed in one church to "O come in adoration", both changes apparently made for fear the original was sexist.

"[One reader] wrote in asking if the original line was considered too gender-specific," Mr Goddard said. "But as he rightly pointed out, Jesus wasn't hermaphrodite, neither was he a girl."

Churchgoers at one carol service will not be allowed to sing the words "all in white" during Once in Royal David's City in case they appear racist, while another cleric has removed the word "virgin" from God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.

If you would like to read more on this please check out the Ship of Fools site. I found the graphic on top at the Xenohistorian site. The eco-santa below was found there as well!

Closure of the 150th anniversary of the Apparitions at Lourdes

There were almost 30,000 pilgrims this weekend to walk the aisles of the sanctuary of Lourdes. 30,000 people came to celebrate with joy the end of the Jubilee of the Apparitions to Bernadette. A second or third visit of this jubilee year for some, for others it was the very first visit:

“It is a first visit. It is something I was waiting for with anticipation... it was really a joy to be here .. I've never experienced such a joy."

"In this, the 150th anniversary of the Apparitions of the Virgin, we came to receive many graces because this moment of grace is particular to the occasion of this Jubilee."

"We are already receiving God through the Eucharist in our own churches, but in this place with all the faithful from all the nations, we feel that Christ is there with us every day. "

In Lourdes, the pilgrims are not only from France. English, South American, Spanish, the whole world is here. But the most committed to Lourdes by far are the Italians. 6000 of them had already booked their long pilgrimage to the shrine. Here they feel a little closer to God and can show their devotion to the Virgin Mary.

"... It is an experience that everyone should do because it's an experience that matures us, which strengthens us. "

"Just because the Jubilee ends it doesn’t mean we stop praying or coming to Lourdes. On the contrary, we must continue and draw strength from Mary and Bernadette forever. "

On Sunday evening pilgrims gathered for a large torch-lit procession, the light symbolizing their prayers and fervor. It was a moment of intense emotion for pilgrims who came to Lourdes this weekend for the closing of the Jubilee.

A Dangerous World: 33 Minutes

I found this video at the Patrick Madrid site and it is well done and a disturbing to think about. Our nation has so many enemies from outside and within. We have so much to pray about. God is good and is protecting us, but we need to be aware of the dangers that we face. Let's pray for a spirit of peace in this difficult time. Here are the basics on the video trailer:

The 33 Minutes film trailer gives viewers a seven minute preview of the groundbreaking film about missile defense in America. The HD film will be released February 2009, and will outline what immediate steps need to be taken to protect America and its citizens. More information on the film can be found at website.

Queen of Peace Prayer

O Mother mine, Mother of goodness, love and mercy, I love you infinitely and I offer myself to you. By means of your goodness, your love and your grace, pray for me. I desire to be yours. I love you infinitely , and desire you to protect me.

From the depth of my heart I pray you, Mother of goodness, give me your goodness. Let me gain Heaven by means of it. I pray you, by your infinite love, to give me the grace, so that I may love every man, as you have loved Jesus Christ. I pray you to give me the grace to love your will.

I offer myself to you completely and desire that you follow my every step. You are full of grace and I desire that I will never forget this. And if, by change, I should lose grace I pray you to restore it to me once more. Amen.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI: "God is the foundation for human rights!"

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles are a wonderful group of Benedictine Sisters who also have as their apostolate praying for priests! I have to send them my name! The following comes from their website:

The Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles is a traditional monastic community of women who desire to imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary in the giving of herself to God to fulfill His Will, especially in her role of assistance by prayer and work to the Apostles, first priests of the Catholic Church.Society in these latter days is in obvious dire need of re-evangelization and sanctification through the ministry in particular of the sacred priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church. Although times have changed, the divine mission committed to the first Apostles, as well as the needs of those to whom they were sent, have not. It is our ideal to imitate Our Lady's retirement from the world in quiet seclusion, as well as her apostolic charity. Consecrated entirely to her and filled with her spirit, which is none other than the Holy Spirit of God, we aspire to be, to the successors of the Apostles in our times, what she was to them in the beginning: behind-the-scenesencouragement, assistance and support.

Our charism, therefore, is to be united at the foot of the Cross with Our Lady who receives the mercy and grace, that blood and water which Our Lord's Heart cannot contain, for His priests in the person of St. John. We are simply vessels in her hands; she fills us, and only to pour us out again. This explains our joy! With the sacred contents, she nourishes and strengthens the priest in his spiritual life, washes him from thecontagion of the world, and quenches his thirst after preaching the Word. Being sentto bring God's mercy and His life to the nations, they are a "light shining in the darkness".

Rest in Peace: Cardinal Avery Dulles,1918-2008

This morning Cardinal Avery Dulles, SJ died. The Cardinal was 90 years old. To read more please check out Whispers.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Father Donald Calloway's Conversion Story

This is a long video for this site, but if you have time, the conversion story is impressive! You may want to learn more about the apparitions of Our Lady in Medjugorje as well. Here are the basics:

Medjugorje Apparitions started on June 24th, 1981. At about 6 pm, when six young people - Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragićević, Vicka Ivanković, Ivan Dragićević, Ivan Ivanković and Milka Pavlović, saw on the hill called Crnica, several hundred meters above the place called Podbrdo, a young woman with a child in her arms, who gave them a sign with her hand to come nearer. Surprised and scared, they did not approach her.

The next day, June 25th, 1981, at the same time, four of them: Ivanka Ivanković, Mirjana Dragićević, Vicka Ivanković and Ivan Dragićević, felt strongly drawn towards the place where they had seen the person the day before which, they had recognised as Our Lady. Marija Pavlović and Jakov Čolo joined them. The group of Medjugorje visionaries was formed. They prayed and spoke with Our Lady. This is why June 25th is celebrated as the Anniversary of the apparitions. According to the testimony of the visionaries, from that day onwards, they had daily apparitions, together or separately, wherever they were. Milka Pavlović and Ivan Ivanković never saw Our Lady again.

Attracted by Our Lady’s apparitions and messages, people – first the parishioners and then from other villages and from all over the world – started to gather and pray.

Thanks to Our Lady’s apparitions, Medjugorje – a simple village parish – became a place of gathering for a multitude of pilgrims from the whole world (in the first 20 years, more then 20 million), and one of the biggest prayer centres in the world, comparable to Lourdes and Fatima. Innumerable witnesses say that, precisely in this place, they have found faith and peace.

To learn more please click the link here!

Global Cooling: Snow in New Orleans!

Now this is something you don't see everyday! It's global cooling!

A new Servant of God for the Salesian Family

We have more good news for the Salesian Family! We have another Servant of God to celebrate! I am always encouraged to see more and more people who have reached great sanctity as Salesians! The following comes from the Salesian News Agency in Rome:

Yesterday the nullaosta of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints was issued regarding the process for the beatification of Fr Andrej Majcen SDB, missionary and confessor.

Promoting the Cause are the Salesians of the Provinces of Slovenia and of Vietnam who knew Fr Majcen and can attest to the exemplary nature of his Christian and Salesian life. Many of the faithful have also expressed their conviction concerning the holiness of Fr Majcen visiting his tomb and praying for his intercession.

Fr Andrej Majcen (1904-1999) was a missionary in China and in Vietnam (1935-1979) and then after returning to Slovenia, a confessor until the end of his days; forty four years of missionary apostolate and twenty of missionary promotion in Slovenia. His reflections and meditation, collected in his diaries (more than 6000 hand-written pages), are the expression of a profound Christian life and a personal striving for spiritual growth.

The nullaosta of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints makes Fr Andrej Majcen the 29th Servant of God in the Salesian Family.

Remembering the Battle of Fredericksburg

The Battle of Fredericksburg, fought in and around Fredericksburg, Virginia, from December 11 to December 15, 1862, between General Robert E. Lee's Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac, commanded by Maj. Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, is remembered as one of the most one-sided battles of the American Civil War. The Union Army suffered terrible casualties in futile frontal assaults on December 13 against entrenched Confederate defenders on the heights behind the city, bringing to an early end their campaign against the Confederate capital of Richmond.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On Christian Manhood

Find more videos like this on Catholic Mountain

The video comes from Catholic and is really a great challenge to Christian men to be who they are called to be!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Spanish Bishops: "Don't be afraid of the cross of Christ!"

Bolivian lawmaker announces plan to tax Catholic Masses

This is not good news for the Church in Bolivia and something we have to pray doesn't expand to other countries. The Bolivian media is reporting that after the vote on the country’s new Constitution on January 25, the government of Evo Morales will consider a plan to tax the Church for the Masses that are offered at the request of the faithful. To read more on this story please click here.

First Vietnamese-American in Congress is former Jesuit seminarian

This is a great story of our new Vietnamese-American Congressman from Louisiana!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Remembering Archbishop Sheen: Loyal son of the Church!

On October 3rd, 1979 the Archbishop experienced one of the greatest moments of his life when Pope John Paul II embraced him in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The Holy Father said to him, “You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You are a loyal son of the Church!” On December 9th of 1979 God called the Archbishop from this life to his eternal reward.

Don Camillo's Procession: Priceless!

I watched this today on the Hermeneutic of Continuity site and thought it was just amazing! Enjoy!

Remembering Carlos Abascal Carranza: Mexican Defender of Life

I invite you to pray for the repose of the soul of one of Mexico's greatest fighters for the rights of the unborn. Carlos Abascal Carranza died after a courageous battle with stomach cancer on December 2, 2008. He was the son of Salvador Abascal Infante, a leading Mexican politician who had founded the Unión Nacional Sinarquista in 1937 as a political party that owed its political philosophy to Catholic Social teaching. Having graduated as a lawyer in 1973 with a thesis on the relationship between the spiritual and temporal power Carlos Abascal pursued a career with Afianzadora Insurgentes, a company that dealt with guarantees in the financial sector of which he rose to be chief executive, and was later president of the Confederación Patronal de la República Mexicana and Vice-President of the Mexican Institute for the Doctrine of Social Democracy.

In 2000 he joined President Vicente Fox’s cabinet as Secretary of Labour and Social Provision and in 2005 was appointed Secretary of the Government. After leaving the government he was one of the most prominent campaigners against the abolition of restrictions on abortion in the Federal District. He was 59 years of age at his death.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Is A Demographic Winter Coming Soon?

This preview is a good intro to what looks to be a very interesting film. If the worlds demographic trends continue we are in for a very difficult time. People of faith have to pray that we live out our lives joyfully and filled with hope. Too many people today sadly live without hope. Watch the trailer and look for the film! The following is from the lifesite news:

While the world focuses its energies and its fears on a purported global-warming crisis, a new, not-yet-released documentary claims that if there is any global crisis, it is not global warming, but rather demographic winter.

As the website for Demographic Winter: The Decline of the Human Family, explains, the phrase "'Demographic Winter' denotes the worldwide decline in birthrates, also referred to as a 'birth-death,' and what it portends."

"The ongoing global decline in human birthrates is the single most powerful force affecting the fate of nations and the future of society in the 21st century," says demographer Philip Longman in the film. The film argues that the global decline in birthrate, if unchecked, will have devastating social, political and economic effects; it also argues that the issue is studiously ignored in mainstream circles, due to the politically incorrect nature of the solution to the crisis - that is, the rebuilding of the strength of the family as the core unit of society.

"We are headed toward a demographic winter which threatens to have catastrophic social and economic consequences," say the filmmakers. "The effects will be severe and long lasting and are already becoming manifest in much of Europe."

The documentary is directed and produced by award-winning director Rick Stout, whose previous film ventures include music videos and specialty videos for celebrities. He is joined by producer Berry McLerran, executive director of Family First Foundation, and executive producer Steven Smoot, the president and founder of Family First.

In making this film, Stout, McLerran and Smoot join their voices with an increasingly vocal chorus of experts and politicians who have begun to waken to the reality that if the global birth-rate continues to sink below replacement level, then the consequences will be dire, particularly for the West where the birth-rate has in many cases plummeted far below replacement level.

Production on the film began in May 2007, at the World Congress of Families in Warsaw, Poland. Over the following months, the filmmakers traveled to Berlin, Osnabruck, Rome, Paris, and Moscow, conducting interviews with sociologists, demographers, economists, psychologists, parliamentarians, government representatives, as well as interviewing private citizens on the street.

Their research proved time and again the underlying thesis of the film - that the only and most obvious solution to the demographic winter facing the world is to strengthen the place of the family in society. "Of all the causes we have in the world today, many of which particularly capture the time and space of the media and academia, it is singularly peculiar that the disintegration of an institution as important as the human family should want for attention," says the synopsis of the film.

"The years have not been kind to this most important institution…particularly the last four decades. Worldwide, families have broken down at a historically unprecedented pace. There are certainly records of how now extinct societies have experienced similar declines before their demise, for what we now face is unique in that it has a global spread. This has ominous portent."

"This film will bring the voices of experts from all over the world for the first time to a general audience, an audience still being taught in their schools, on television, in film and in print, the failed ideas and philosophies of the past that we need to reduce our population and that families are merely a social construct and not crucial to society in their traditional form. Demographic Winter will correct these errant ideas in a powerful voice using forty years of social science, demographic and economic research."

You can learn more by checking out their website.

Ave Maria by The Priests

The Priests perform with The Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome at St. Peter's Basilica.

Sorrow in the Vatican over the death of the Russian Orthodox Patriarch

The Holy See expressed its sorrow after receiving the sad news of the death of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, His Holiness Alexy II. The Vatican then acknowledged his decisive role in the rebirth of Christianity after the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Holy See expressed its sorrow after receiving the sad news of the death of the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow and all Russia, His Holiness Alexy II. The Vatican then acknowledged his decisive role in the rebirth of Christianity after the fall of the Soviet Union.

A message released by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, recognized the importance of his patriarchal ministry "in a period of great change".

"His leadership - the message declared - enabled the Church to face the challenges of transition from the Soviet era to the present with renewed interior vitality."

Alexy II – the Cardinal added – "was instrumental in fostering the enormous growth of dioceses, parishes, monasteries and educational institutions which have given new life to a Church sorely tested for so long".

Alexei Mikhailovich Ridiger, Alexy II, was born on February 23, 1929 in Tallinn, Estonia. After the death of Patriarch Pimen I, in 1990, Alexy was designated as the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The Monastic Life, an opportunity for the Church

"The monastic life and its meaning in the Church and the world today"was the theme of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life,

which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.

Monsignor Pierre Raffin, Bishop of Metz, France, tells us that the decline in the number of monks and nuns in the world
has an impact on the development of monasticism.

Monasticism was born in the East and developed greatly in Western Europe, and while for some years it has become less important in Western Europe and the East, it has taken root in new cultures in Africa, Asia, and also on the American continent. At times, the encounter of monasticism with these new cultures is not always an easy thing, and we can say that in this area we have not found the answers yet and we continue to look for them.

The monastic life is a free and personal choice of life, but no less radical, which is not always obvious.

"It's more complicated to live this radicalism in a world of consumerism where before entering a monastery people have been accustomed to a life of comfort. ... Having your car, your cell phone, your computer."

"There then must be a break with all the conveniences of the modern world, which are not bad in themselves, and then in its place, an asceticism, a break from that which is very important."

But what can these monastic congregations bring to the church today? Msgr. Raffin did not hesitate to answer: their place is central and unique...

"Historically speaking, the monastic life has been the first form of religious life, from which even today all other forms of consecrated life follow, and precisely because of their greater radicalism, they should stimulate and inspire these other forms of religious life."

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Building A Future Full of Hope!

If any of you are independently wealthy or would like to give to a good cause, then send a check to the Dominican Sisters of Summit, NJ! They have a huge renovation project and are in need of funds. God bless them!

The Monastic Family of Bethlehem and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary and St. Bruno

Benedict XVI: Natural law is an essential value

The necessary conditions for understanding the absolute value of natural law must be created in the culture and through politics and civil society.

This was reiterated by Benedict XVI, in his speech to the International Theological Commission.

The end of the Commission's five year mandate has given the Holy Father the opportunity to review the themes covered in this period.

In particular on the role of theology, the Pope noted that one must give an answer to the human need for transcendence and guidance.

But theology must ask the question concerning the truth of faith, and not simply question its practical and social effectiveness.
The fundamental virtue of the theologian is to seek obedience to the faith, which makes him a collaborator with the truth.