Monday, June 30, 2008

The Pope's Artist!

This is a very talented woman who has had the honor to paint portraits of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI. She is very talented to say the least!

Sunday, June 29, 2008


Today is the Feast of Ss. Peter and Paul! It is also the day we begin the Pauline Year!

Out of the whole world one man, Peter, is chosen to preside at the of all nations and to be set over all the apostles and all the fathers of the church. Though there are in God's people many bishops and many shepherds, Peter is thus appointed to rule in his own person those whom Christ also rules as the original ruler. Beloved, how great and wonderful is this sharing in his power that God in his goodness has given to this man. Whatever Christ has willed ot be shared in common by Peter and the other leaders of the Church, it is only through Peter that he has given to others what he has not refused to bestow on them.

Jesus said: "Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." On this strong foundation, he says, I will build an everlasting temple. The great height of my Church, which is to penetrate the heavens, shall rise on the firm foundation of this faith.

Blessed Peter is therefore told: "To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven. Whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven."
- from a sermon by Pope Saint Leo the Great

On June 28, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI decreed June 2008 to June 2009
to be "The Year of St. Paul" commemorating the 2,000th anniversary of the Saint's birth. The Pope declared:
"Meetings for study will be promoted and there will be special publications on Pauline texts, to promote the immense richness of the teaching contained in them, true patrimony of humanity redeemed by Christ. .... Also, in every part of the world, similar initiatives will be organized in dioceses, sanctuaries and places of prayer by religious institutions, institutions of study and assistance, which carry the name of St. Paul or which have been inspired by him and his teaching."

Inspired by the Spirit of St. Paul and the Pope's declaration, friends of St. Paul established this website for the purpose of facilitating and assisting communications among the many others friends of St. Paul to honor St. Paul and his teachings.

In April 2005, Pope Benedict made his first visit outside Vatican City going to the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls to pay homage to St. Paul’s legacy.

In his June 28, 2007 decree at the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Wall, the Pope declared, "Special attention can also be given to pilgrims who from various places will want to go to the tomb of the Apostle in a penitential way in order to find spiritual benefits.”

Above is a short documentary about the Basilica of St. Paul’s Outside the Walls, with Passionist priest and historian Fr. Victor Hoagland.
For more information on the Year of St. Paul please click here.

Friday, June 27, 2008

More Pictures from Quito, Ecuador!

I took this picture walking down the street on a Sunday afternoon in Quito. These street children were pretty good musicians and attracted a crowd!

This picture was taken inside the monastic chapel of Saint Mary Ann de Paredes. She is often called the Lily of Quito. A community of 24 cloistered sisters still carry on the tradition of St. Mary Ann (or St. Mariana).

The following pictures were taken at our Salesian Retreat House in Cumbaya, Ecuador. The retreat house is for silent retreats only and was built in a really beautiful monastic/mission style! Cumbaya is just a 30 minute drive from Quito and was really beautiful. It sits between a couple of other volcanoes as well!

The pictures below were taken in Cumbaya as well and were from one of our Salesian grammar schools. One of the parents painted these fantastic paintings on the walls of the courtyard where the kids play! The paintings depict a young John Bosco during his famous dream at the age of 9. The Blessed Mother shows him the work that God is calling him to: to transform the animals into sheep with loving kindness! Also, you can see the image of Don Bosco with St. Dominic Savio and Blessed Laura Vicuna.

Our Lady of Perpetual Help

The following was taken from the Patron Saints Index:
The picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour is painted on wood, with background of gold. It is Byzantine in style and is supposed to have been painted in the thirteenth century. It represents the Mother of God holding the Divine Child while the Archangels Michael and Gabriel present before Him the instruments of His Passion. Over the figures in the picture are some Greek letters which form the abbreviated words Mother of God, Jesus Christ, Archangel Michael, and Archangel Gabriel respectively.

It was brought to Rome towards the end of the fifteenth century by a pious merchant, who, dying there, ordered by his will that the picture should be exposed in a church for public veneration. It was exposed in the church of San Matteo, Via Merulana, between Saint Mary Major and Saint John Lateran. Crowds flocked to this church, and for nearly three hundred years many graces were obtained through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The picture was then popularly called the Madonna di San Matteo. The church was served for a time by the Hermits of Saint Augustine, who had sheltered their Irish brethren in their distress.

These Augustinians were still in charge when the French invaded Rome (1812) and destroyed the church. The picture disappeared; it remained hidden and neglected for over forty years, but a series of providential circumstances between 1863 and 1865 led to its discovery in an oratory of the Augustinian Fathers at Santa Maria in Posterula. The pope, Pius IX, who as a boy had prayed before the picture in San Matteo, became interested in the discovery and in a letter dated 11 Dececember 1865 to Father General Mauron, C.SS.R., ordered that Our Lady of Perpetual Succour should be again publicly venerated in Via Merulana, and this time at the new church of Saint Alphonsus. The ruins of San Matteo were in the grounds of the Redemptorist Convent. This was but the first favour of the Holy Father towards the picture. He approved of the solemn translation of the picture (26 April 1866), and its coronation by the Vatican Chapter (23 June 1867). He fixed the feast as duplex secundae classis, on the Sunday before the Feast of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and by a decree dated May 1876, approved of a special office and Mass for the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer. This favour later on was also granted to others. Learning that the devotion to Our Lady under this title had spread far and wide, Pius IX raised a confraternity of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour and Saint Alphonsus, which had been erected in Rome, to the rank of an arch-confraternity and enriched it with many privileges and indulgences. He was among the first to visit the picture in its new home, and his name is the first in the register of the arch-confraternity.

Two thousand three hundred facsimiles of the Holy Picture have been sent from Saint Alphonsus's church in Rome to every part of the world. At the present day not only altars, but churches and dioceses (e.g. in England, Leeds and Middlesborough; in the United States, Savannah) are dedicated to Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. In some places, as in the United States, the title has been translated Our Lady of Perpetual Help.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

WYD 2008 and The Revival of the Australian Church

With World Youth Day just around the corner, and renewed interest in the local church, Australians are already being affected by the anticipation. Archbishop Hickey of Perth hopes pilgrims, as well as Australians, will grow from the experience. Let's pray that there is a wonderful movement among the young next month! You can read more about the revival of the Church in Australia here.

Also, Shannon Donahoo, a Catholic teacher from Melbourne writes:
In the past, World Youth Day has had a fairly low profile in Australia. However, with the announcement that the next WYD will be held in Sydney, that is set to change. It is likely, of course, that there will be some criticism: is WYD worth it or is it just a holy "bread and circuses" exercise?

To understand the importance of World Youth Day, it is important to understand what it is like being a young Catholic today.

Often young people are Catholic more because they are sacramentalised and educated in the Church's schools than because they have met Christ in their hearts. They are often unsure of the Church's teachings, the reasons for these and even how one is supposed to practise the faith.

And if a choice is made to identify oneself as a Catholic, and not as a "Catholic but ...", there is the risk of isolation. We often hear people complaining about the lack of young people in the Church - specifically at Mass - but place yourself in the shoes of those who do practise the faith. "Am I the only young Catholic?" It can feel that way for many, but thankfully such people are not alone. WYD demonstrates that.
You can read the full article here.

Blake Shelton: Home

Having been here in Quito, Ecuador for over 3 weeks, I am about ready to go home too! Country music says it all! I will be home tomorrow! God bless!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Year of St. Paul is upon us!

Sunday, June 29, is the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul (Liturgical Year A, Cycle II). At 6 p.m. on Saturday, at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI will solemnly open the year of St. Paul, marking two millennia since his birth. At 9:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday, he will give the pallium to metropolitan archbishops at St. Peter’s. The pallium is a wool liturgical garment. You can read more about this Holy Year here.

Our Lady of Medjugorje

Today is the 27th anniversary of the visions of Our Lady of Medjdugorje. I was able to visit this wonderful place in 1987 with my family and came away with the feeling that this was a place that was truly blessed by God. I really believe these visions are real and that Our Lady is speaking to us through the apparitions. I believe the visit gave me the courage and strength to follow my own vocation. I will always defer to the judgment of the Church, but I know that Medjugorje was a spiritually rich place for me and my family. You can read more about these apparitions here. Let's pray that we might continue to be open to the message of repentance, peace and hope that Our Lady offers to all of us! God bless!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Children's Pilgrimage to Fatima

Last week in Fatima there was a Children's Pilgrimage that led thousands of young people to this famous apparition site and place of prayer. You may remember that on May 13,1917, Our Lady appeared to three children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, while they were caring for their sheep in a place called the Cova da Iria. She told them that she was from heaven and she also asked them to come to this same place for six months on the 13th of the month. Lucia, the oldest, asked if she would go to heaven and Our Lady told her that they all would go to heaven but Francisco must say many rosaries first. You can find out more about Our Lady of Fatima here.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More was a famous lawyer and writer. He was born in London in 1477. His father had been a lawyer, too, and a judge. Thomas was always grateful to his father for being so loving and for not spoiling him. Thomas' first wife, Jane Colt, died very young and More was left with four small children. He was married again, to a widow, a simple woman who could not even read or write and More decided to tried to teach her. Thomas made home life enjoyable for his family because he was so pleasant to be with. He was a real gentleman and father. During meals, one of the children would read from the Bible and then they would have fun and tell jokes. St. Thomas often asked poorer neighbors in to dinner as well. He always helped the poor as much as he was able and He loved to delight his guests with surprises. He even kept some playful monkeys as pets. Yet few could have imagined how deeply spiritual St. Thomas really was. He prayed long hours into the night and performed penances. He was very much aware that being a true Christian took the grace and help of God.

Thomas held important government positions and was for three years Lord Chancellor, another name for prime minister. King Henry VIII used to put his arm affectionately around Thomas' shoulder. Yet although the saint was a most loyal subject, he was loyal to God first of all. In fact, when the king tried to make him disobey God's law, Thomas refused. Henry wanted to obtain a divorce from his wife to marry another woman. However, the pope could not give permission, since that is against God's law. Henry was stubborn and at last he left the Roman Catholic Church. He wanted everyone to recognize him as the head of the Church in England. Thomas could not do that and he chose to remain faithful to the Catholic faith and to God. He was condemned to death for that, yet he forgave his judges. He even said he hoped he would see them in heaven.

At the scaffold, where he was to die, St. Thomas kissed his executioner on the cheek. Then he joked, saying that his beard should not be cut off because it had not done anything wrong. He was martyred on Tuesday, July 6,1535, at the age of fifty-seven. Along with his friend, Bishop John Fisher, Sir Thomas More was proclaimed a saint by Pope Pius XI in 1935. This saint is universally admired because he believed so much in the truth of his faith that he was willing to die for it. Thomas More risked losing everything: his fortune, his position, his own security and the safety of the individuals he loved most. But he held fast to the faith, even to the point of sacrificing his life. He makes us ask ourselves what we might do in a similar situation.

Our Lady of Good Success

Venerable Mother Mariana de Jesus Torres was a Conceptionist nun from Spain who went to the Quito colony in Ecuador in 1576. Our Lady and Our Lord appeared to her and gave her many revelations, beginning in 1610, that included prophecies, especially relevant for the Church in our time. Those considered the most significant of all the prophecies was that of the crisis in the Church. Another prophecy was that Pope Pius IX would promulgate the dogma of the Immaculate Conception and that this same pope would preside over a Vatican Council which would teach infallibly on the Papacy, including the Pontiff's supremacy and the charism of infallibility in matters of faith and morals! Amazing! Ven. Mother Mariana was also instructed on the details of the life-sized statue to be made, that Our Lady should have a crosier and keys with the Child Jesus in her left hand:

" . . . so that men will understand how powerful I am in placating the Divine Justice and in obtaining mercy and pardon for every sinner who comes to me with a contrite heart, for I am the Mother of Mercy and in me there is only goodness and love. Let them come to me, for I will lead them to Him." The statue, made by a sculptor in Quito, was miraculously completed by the Archangels Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael in the early morning of January 16, 1611.

In 1619 Our Lord invited our Venerable Mariana to share His Cross more deeply, " . . . for at all times I have need of valiant souls to save My Church . . ."

On the Feast of the Purification, 1634, Mother Mariana was before the Blessed Sacrament, when she saw the Sanctuary light go out. There are five meanings of this sign: You can read more about these prophetic messages here.

Images of Our Lady in Ecuador

The following is a sample of the different devotions to Our Lady that are popular here in Quito. There are others as well, but these are the most well known. I will post later on Our Lady of Good Success. That is an interesting story as well! I found the information on Our Lady of Quinche at
Our Lady of the Presentation of Quinche is a handsome wood sculpture carved in the 16th century by Don Diego de Robles, an extraordinary artist who is also credited with other popular and venerated images of Mary. History tells us that those who had ordered the image couldn't or wouldn't pay the sculptor for it, and he traded it to the "oyacachi" Indians for some large cedar boards he needed. At a later time, popular fancy enriched the facts with the legend that the Virgin had appeared earlier to the Indians in a cave and had promised to deliver them from the dangerous bears which devoured the children. The Indian chiefs were astonished when they saw Diego Robles arrive carrying the image of the Virgin, whom they recognized as having the same features as the Lady who had appeared to them in the cave and had spoken to them. The statue remained under the care of the Indians fifteen years, when the bishop of the place ordered it moved to the village of Quinche from which it finally took its name in 1604. The image is a fine carving in cedarwood, measuring 62 centimeters in height. The handsome sculpture is hidden by large brocade garments, covered with jewels and embroidered with gold and silver threads, which only allow the serene dark face to be seen. The Virgin holds a scepter in her right hand and with the left hand she holds the Child, who lifts a hand in blessing and in the other hand displays a gold globe crowned with a cross. The pedestal at her feet and the large half moon, both of pure silver, and the heavy crowns made of gold and precious stones which adorn the heads of Jesus and Mary, evidence the generosity of the people of Ecuador who like to see their patroness resplendent, dressed with the best finery. The face of the Child Jesus has features resembling those of the mestizo children of those mountains. Mestizo is also the color of the mother, synthesis of the Inca and Spanish souls. She has a delicate oval face with a slender nose, thin lips and a small mouth; her slanted eyes and her sad gaze with half closed eyelids give her a unique gentleness. This is why she is so popular in Ecuador, specially among the Indians who affectionately refer to their protector in heaven as "La Pequehita" (the little one). There are an amazing number of songs in honor of the Virgin of Quinche, in "Quechua," "Jibaro," and many other dialects of the region as well as in Spanish; many have been sung for 300 and even 400 years. The image was crowned in 1943 and her feast is celebrated each year on November 21. The present shrine was declared a National Sanctuary in 1985.

The Virgin of Quito is a popular cult image venerated throughout the northern Andes; its composition is derived from the biblical description of the "Woman of the Apocalypse." As described by Saint John, the woman was clothed in the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. After battling a dragon (Satan, with the apple of original sin in its mouth, missing from this object), she is given wings to escape. This small devotional image is one of a multitude to replicate the famed sculpture in the Church of San Francisco in Quito, attributed to the mestizo sculptor Legarda. This image is also seen overlooking the city of Quito and is beautifully lit at night. You can find out more about El Panacillo here.

The picture of Our Lady of Quito, an image of Our Lady with the seven swords piercing her heart, was first placed in the boarding school of the Jesuit Fathers in Quito. On April 20, 1906, Father Andrew Roesch along with thirty-six boys of the academy witnessed the first miracle of this famous picture of Our Lady of Sorrows; while in the refectory they saw the Blessed Mother slowly open and shut her eyes. The same miracle occurred several times after this, once more in front of the boys at the school, but this time in the chapel, to which the picture had been taken. Subsequently the canonical process of examination was carried out by the ecclesiastical authorities, and the Vicar General ordered the picture to be transferred in procession from the College to the Church of the Jesuit Fathers. At the church the prodigy was repeated several times before the crowds gathered there, and many conversions took place. Again and again, the wonder repeated itself, at one time for three consecutive days. The image was also said to have shed tears on April 29, 1906. You can find out more on this by clicking here.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Myanmar – The long march continues

It is a 45 days since the cyclone Nargis struck Myanmar causing chaos and destruction, and as Archbishop Charles Maung Bo SDB, of Yangon says, leading to the loss of about 150,000 human lives. You can read more on the Myanmar story here.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Ecuador, Volcanoes, and Gas Prices!

I was able to get this picture of the Chimborazo Volcanoe yesterday. It is not an active volcanoe but here is an interesting fact: The summit of Chimoborazo constitutes the furtest point from the center of the Earth because of the high elevation (20,700 feet), the location of the mountain at the equator and the oblateness of the Earth. It really is a beautiful sight to see!

Yes, that is the actual price of a gallon of gas here in Quito, Ecuador today! And yes that price is in dollars!

Here is yet another volcano here near quito. It is actually about 4 hours suth of Quito. Tungurahua is an active volcano also known as the "The Black Giant." It has a 600 ft. wide crater and is still rather active. The last major eruption was back in 1944, but it still grants frequent tremors to nearby towns on a regular basis!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

President Reagan's Sense of Humor

This is well done and includes some really great lines! I really do think we could make the exception for cloning if we could bring back Ronaldus Magnus!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eduardo Verástegui: Star of Bella

"I realized I was empty". The famous Mexican actor and producer Eduardo Verástegui experienced a strong conversion after the making of a Hollywood movie (Bella). If you have not seen the movie then you should rent or buy it asap! It really is special. I believe the sincere of faith of all those who produced it comes shining through. Eduardo is a prime example of that conversion and sincere faith.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Being a Good Priest Means Being "A Master of Prayer"

I found the following story on the CNA and thought it was well worth posting. The Holy Father is reminding us priests of our first responsibility to be men of God. I pray I can put his words into action!

Brindisi, Jun 16, 2008 (CNA).- On Sunday evening Pope Benedict wrapped up his weekend visit to the Archdiocese of Brindisi-Ostuni by speaking to a gathering of all the priests, deacons and seminarians of the archdiocese. Being a good priest, the Pope said, requires that one become a “master of prayer.”

As he spoke to the clergy in Brindisi’s St. Lawrence Cathedral, the Holy Father told them that, to ensure "your faith is always strong and vigorous, it is important, as you well know, to nourish it with assiduous prayer. Be, then, models of prayer, become masters of prayer."

Benedict XVI then reflected on how the entirety a priest’s ministry flows from his prayer.

"The moment of prayer is the most important moment in a priest's life, the moment in which divine grace acts most effectively, making his ministry fruitful. Prayer is the first service to be offered to the community," he said.

"Another opportunity of spiritual growth for your community", the Holy Father pointed out, "is the diocesan synod, the first since Vatican Council II and since the unification of the two dioceses of Brindisi and Ostuni. This is a chance to relaunch the apostolic commitment of the entire archdiocese, but it is above all a special moment of communion which helps you to rediscover the value of fraternal service."

The ongoing synod has the task of "helping your local Church, in all its elements, to rediscover the meaning and the joy of service: a service for love. This holds true, above all, for you, dear priests, molded after Christ 'Head and Pastor' and always ready to guide His flock. Recognize the gift you have received, and be joyful for it! Be generous in performing your mission! Base it on assiduous prayer and on permanent cultural, theological and spiritual formation!" the Pope exhorted.

Looking ahead to the Pauline Year, which Benedict XVI will inaugurate on June 28, the Pope called on the archdiocese to look at it as “an occasion for a generous relaunch of missionary activity, for a more profound announcement of the Word of God, welcomed, meditated upon, and translated into a fruitful apostolate, as happened with the Apostle of the Gentiles."

Polish Volleyball Star Gives Her Life For Her Unborn Child

I found the following story through and thought it was something I wanted to post. It is very inspiring!

TANROW, June 13, 2008 ( - A Polish volleyball star who was buried on June 9 is being compared by local Catholics to Blessed Gianna Beretta Molla because of her heroic sacrifice for her unborn child.

Agata Mroz, who was originally known for her athletic prowess, was buried in her hometown of Tarnow. Mroz was pregnant with her first child when doctors discovered she had a fatal case of leukemia. After consulting with her husband, Mroz delayed a bone-marrow transplant until after she gave birth to her daughter Liliana on April 4, 2008.

Polish fans dubbed the national team which Mróz led the "Golden Girls," due to their looks and their successes in international competitions. The national team won the European women's volleyball championship in 2003 and 2005.

Auxiliary Bishop Marian Florczyk of Kielce, Poland has said that Mroz's testimony is an example of "love of life, motherhood, the desire to give life, the heroic love of an unborn child." On June 4, a few hours after Mroz's death, Polish President Lech Kaczynski announced that she will be posthumously awarded the Polonia Restituta, one of Poland's highest awards for extraordinary and distinguished service.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Salesian Project Europe

The video above speaks about the recent desire of our Rector Major Fr. Pascual Chavez to reinvigorate the Salesian presence in Europe.

Vocations in Vietnam

I found this story to be encouraging and surely good news for the Church! Let's pray for the end to these restrictions that more and more young people might have the chance to follow God's will and their vocations! It comes from the Aid to the Church in Need site.

“Because we have so many vocations – and the number of seminarians we can take is limited by the government – people have to wait for a long time before entering seminary.” - Archbishop Kiet of Hanoi

According to a leading bishop, vocations are flourishing in Vietnam despite government restrictions.

In an interview with Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital, described how a growing number of seminarians started their studies this year. He said, “We have many vocations, this year our seminary received 300 seminarians, in two years time the number will be 400.”

Most senior seminaries are only allowed to accept new students once every two years, due to the communist government’s restrictions on the training and ordination of priests. Archbishop Kiet added, “Because we have so many vocations – and the number of seminarians we can take is limited by the government – people have to wait for a long time before entering seminary.”

Due to governmental controls on the numbers in seminaries, the Church cannot accept all the applicants they would like for priestly training. Asked the reason for the high number of vocations, Archbishop Kiet told ACN: “There is a tradition with Vietnamese Catholics – they have a strong sense of vision, in families parents like their children to become priests or to serve God.”

Although Vietnam’s constitution provides for freedom of worship, restrictions still remain, and the Church must obtain special permission before building new seminaries or places of worship. The government’s 2004 Ordinance on Religion and Belief has meant an easing of restrictions, and in 2006 the authorities gave permission for the expansion of St. Joseph Major Seminary in Xuan Loc Diocese. The new building will accommodate students from four dioceses.

In response to a number of urgent and important requests for help, ACN last year offered more than $1,800,000 in aid to the country, and ACN’s Asia section’s largest number of grants for the formation of priests and religious went to Vietnam. Archbishop Kiet also told ACN that religious congregations are growing, and that there are “many conversions, and many catechumens in cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi” with catechesis classes and adult formation held all year round.

The situation of the Church in Vietnam has improved, in part thanks to the efforts of the Vatican to maintain official dialogue with the authorities, despite the lack of formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See since the country was unified under communist rule in 1975. Relations have been improved by a more or less annual visit to the country from the Holy See – this year a Vatican delegation is due to arrive in June.

Up to 8.7 percent of the population in Vietnam is Catholic and reports suggest that there are 2,228 parishes and 2,668 priests.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Good Man: Emerson Drive

Happy Father's Day again!

Team Hoyt - Dick and Rick Hoyt

Happy Father's Day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

America's Army: The Strength of the Nation

I found this at the From the Duke blog site. Today is the 233rd birthday of the US Army! God bless our soldiers all over the world!

Myanmar – The story of Stella

This is an interesting story from Myanmar of a woman who survived the Hurricane as she was preparing to give birth! God bless her, her family and the people of Myanmar!

Flag Day!

Did you know that on June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag? I read the following on the Library of Congress site.

Since 1916, when President Woodrow Wilson issued a presidential proclamation establishing a national Flag Day on June 14, Americans have commemorated the adoption of the Stars and Stripes by celebrating June 14 as Flag Day. Prior to 1916, many localities and a few states had been celebrating the day for years. Congressional legislation designating that date as the national Flag Day was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1949; the legislation also called upon the president to issue a flag day proclamation every year.

According to legend, in 1776, George Washington commissioned Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross to create a flag for the new nation. Scholars debate this legend, but agree that Mrs. Ross most likely knew Washington and sewed flags. To date, there have been twenty-seven official versions of the flag, but the arrangement of the stars varied according to the flag-makers' preferences until 1912 when President Taft standardized the then-new flag's forty-eight stars into six rows of eight. The forty-nine-star flag (1959-60), as well as the fifty-star flag, also have standardized star patterns. The current version of the flag dates to July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became the fiftieth state on August 21, 1959.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Tim Russert, RIP

Timothy John Russert, Jr. (May 7, 1950 – June 13, 2008)
The following is an article on Mr. Russert from the Catholic News Agency:

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- NBC News Washington bureau chief and "Meet the Press" moderator Tim Russert, who died June 13 at the age of 58, was remembered for his warm lifelong ties to the Catholic Church and his support for Catholic education as well as for his career covering politics.

Russert collapsed of an apparent heart attack at work.

An active Catholic who apparently kept a promise to God to never miss Sunday Mass if his son was born healthy, Russert spoke often and fondly of his Catholic school education and of the role of the church in his life.

"Americans valued his tremendous command of the political electoral process and his commitment to discovering each aspect of the story that contributed to people having a better awareness of the issues of public life and candidates for political office," said Archbishop George H. Niederauer of San Francisco, chairman of the U.S. bishops' communications committee, who was attending the U.S. bishops' spring meeting in Orlando, Fla.

"But those of us who shared his Catholic faith and his deep love for it appreciate his sharing of the story of his own faith and his loyalty to the life of the Catholic Church in this country and the many charities to which he contributed his time and talent," the archbishop told Catholic News Service.

Russert had been scheduled to give the Catholic Common Ground Initiative's Philip J. Murnion Lecture June 27 at The Catholic University of America in Washington.

In opening the 2000 convention of the National Catholic Educational Association, Russert recalled his years at Canisius High School in Buffalo, N.Y., and John Carroll University in Cleveland, both Jesuit schools. Russert said his father, a sanitation worker who never finished high school, "worked two jobs all his life so his four kids could go to Catholic school, and those schools changed my life."

"Sister Mary Lucille founded a school newspaper and appointed me editor and changed my life," he added. Teachers in Catholic schools "taught me to read and write, but also how to tell right from wrong."

Msgr. Francis Maniscalco, former communications secretary for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, described Russert as a formidable journalist but also "just a very good man" and "very much a down-to-earth Catholic."

"He took his religious faith seriously," said Msgr. Maniscalco, who is currently the Respect Life director and public policy adviser for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

The priest said Russert was a "serious Catholic" as shown in his book, "Big Russ & Me." He also recalled how Russert helped the bishops' communications department put together a group of Washington-based journalists at the time of the clergy sex-abuse crisis to discuss media coverage of the issue.

He fondly remembered how Russert was "always double-checking to see if he could get an interview with Pope John Paul (II)," and periodically reminding Msgr. Maniscalco the interview had been loosely promised by the Vatican.

Russert told church workers attending the 2005 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering that "if there's an issue that Democrats, Republicans, conservatives and liberals can agree on, it's our kids." With "15 million kids largely living off the streets" and 12 youths shot dead daily in the United States, addressing the issue is imperative, Russert said.

"Who are our children? How do we get into their hearts and minds," Russert asked, "to get them to see the value of our values?"

In dealing with his own son, Luke, Russert added that he tells him, "You are always, always loved, but you are never entitled."

Russert, his wife, Maureen Orth, and their son had just returned from a trip to Italy to celebrate Luke's graduation from Boston College.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada said in a statement that Russert "was a warm and gracious family man with a great zest for life and an unsurpassed passion for his work" whose work was an inspiration to many.

"Tim asked the tough questions the right way and was the best in the business at keeping his interview subjects honest," Reid said.

President George W. Bush said in a statement that Russert "was an institution in both news and politics for more than two decades. Tim was a tough and hardworking newsman. He was always well-informed and thorough in his interviews. And he was as gregarious off the set as he was prepared on it."

Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá, Prince of the Pampas

The Argentinian producer San Jose has produced a documentary on the life of the first Blessed of the native tribe Mapuche- a lay Salesian, Ceferino Namuncurá, beatified in Argentina in 2007.

The young man is known as "Prince of the Pampas", and so the DVD is entitled, "Ceferino Namuncurá, Prince of the Pampas."

Ceferino Namuncurá was born on August 26, 1886 in Chimpay, in the Black Rio province of Argentina. His father was chief of the area until Ceferino reached the age of 11, and he grew up as a traditional Mapuche. He moved to Buenos Aires to study in 1904 and then went to Frascati, Italy, where he was received by Pope Pius X in Rome that same year. Since childhood, he was afflicted with tuberculosus until the end of his life, and his illness prevented him from beginning the necessary training with the Salesians to become a priest as he wanted. He died in Rome in 1905, before reaching 19 years of age, at the hospital "Fatebene Fratelli." He is buried in Fort Mercedes, Argentina.

"Blessed Ceferino is the first Argentinian born, yet the third native Indian of the continent, to be beatified." Each year on his birthday hundreds of people make a pilgrimage to Chimpay to pray, asking his intercession for good health, and offering thanks.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Feast of St. Anthony

I found this on the site and thought it would be nice to add for St. Anthony!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Senator McConnell tells it like it is!

Thanks to The Anchoress for putting this on her site. I thought it was too telling not to add! I found the video on Gateway Pundit.

When the Democrats took over Congress on January 4, 2007, the average price of regular gasoline was $2.33 per gallon. Today gas is over $4.00 per gallon.

Ronald Reagan - A Time for Choosing Speech

The great Ronald Reagan could give this speech today!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Quito at Night!

The Virgin of Quito (El Panacillo)

Quito at Night!

Church of St. Dominic
The Cathedral of Quito

Church of St. Francis

Church of St. Blase

Baby Miraculously Survives Abortion, Expected to Live 'Normal' Life

Have you seen this? This is really amazing! God bless the baby!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Pictures from Quito!

Here are just a few photo's from Quito. I am here for another 3 weeks or so for a class on Salesianity. I will periodically add more shots! I included a procession that I saw yesterday for the Feast of Our Lord, Our Good Hope! The weather here is very mild 62 degrees! God bless!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist

More U.S. women joining the convent
More U.S. women are joining the Convent!

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!

Saltwater Car!

If you liked the idea of the Aptera then check this out... a salt water car!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

George Will on the Colbert Report

Just for fun...! And, George Will is so right on! He is able to teach in a few sentences the wisdom of conservatism. God bless him! Enjoy the laugh!

Which Church Father are You?

I found this quiz on the Sancte Pater website! I took the short quiz and found that: You’re St. Melito of Sardis!

You have a great love of history and liturgy. You’re attached to the traditions of the ancients, yet you recognize that the old world — great as it was — is passing away. You are loyal to the customs of your family, though you do not hesitate to call family members to account for their sins.

Find out which Church Father you are at The Way of the Fathers!

Give the quiz a try and find out which Church Father you are!

Friday, June 6, 2008

President Reagans Speech at Point-du-Hoc, Normandy

A heroic President remembers our heroes!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Trace Adkins: You're Gonna Miss This

More on my very country mood! I love this one from Trace Adkins! I think the song is very true. We tend to miss the special times of our lives by looking ahead too much. Let's not miss the current moment and all that it has in store for us! God is good!

American Soldier in Iraq: A Story of Faith!

I came across this video on Godtube and thought it was well worth posting. Our soldiers face so much every day and so many of them really need prayers. This video shows a soldier who seems to be growing and sharing his faith even in the most difficult of situations. God bless him and all our men and women in uniform!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Soccer Kid: Pro-life Commercial

I found this on Maggie's Aggies and thought it was priceless! It is actually a commercial with a pro-life message! Very funny and very well done!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dominican Sisters in Nashville

You may have already heard of the Nashville Dominican Sisters, but here is a video that I thought was pretty interesting. The Church has so many good signs of hope and there are signs all around that religious life is on the upswing! We need to keep praying and working for holy vocations. God is much more generous than we are so He will send the vocations that we need if we continue to put our trust in Him! Keep smiling and God bless!

Monday, June 2, 2008

American Soldier Live - Toby Keith with Trevor Scott

Sing it kid! God bless him and God bless our troops!

Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien on Pro Life Issues

The Scotts have a great pro-life hero in Cardinal O'Brien... God bless him and his fight for the respect for life in Great Britain!