Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bishop Baker of Birmingham calls for a Day of Prayer for the Nation

The Bishop of Birmingham, Bishop Robert Baker, calls for a day of prayer for our nation! I pray the other bishops pick up on this and follow his lead! Thanks to the Annunciations blog for this news!

OCTOBER 7, 2008


As our government leaders attempt to bring stability to financial institutions of our nation and give hope to market and trade sectors of our economy, I ask that the Catholic Community of Northern Alabama, in the Diocese of Birmingham, set aside Tuesday, October 7, 2008, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, as A Day of Prayer for our Nation and World.

With further rumors of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran, complicating an already precarious situation on the international scene, we need also to pray for peace in our world.

I ask that each Sunday over the next several weeks, parishes and Religious houses include in their Sunday General Intercessions the following prayers:

“That the Holy Spirit may guide our government leaders as they address the problems facing our nation’s economy and as they seek proper paths to peace in our world, we pray to the Lord…”

“For the guidance of the Holy Spirit as voters choose the best possible candidates as leaders for local, state, and national offices, people who will protect the least vulnerable among us, especially the unborn, and promote the cause of life in all its forms and family life, we pray to the Lord…”

On Tuesday, October 7, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., I will dedicate the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes on the grounds of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville. This is the 150th anniversary year of the apparitions to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France.

I ask that Catholics of the Diocese have recourse to the prayer of the Rosary daily during the Month of October we as a nation put God back into the center of our solutions for all our national and international problems.

Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, S.T.D.

Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama

Needed Comic Relief!

This is too funny... and true! Thanks Fr. Z!

The urgent need to proclaim the Gospel

The Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr. Pascual Chavez, commissioned the newest group of Salesian Missionaries! This is the 139 group that has been sent from the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians to proclaim the Good News! The group consisted of Salesian priests, brothers, sisters and lay people. The Salesian News Service article is below:

Yesterday, 28 September, in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians in Valdocco, Turin, there was the celebration of the missionary mandate and the presentation of the crucifix for the 139th Salesian missionary expedition. Presiding at the Mass broadcast live on streaming by www.missionidonbosco.tv and televised by Telepace, was the Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Pascual Chávez. The celebration was introduced by the reading of an account of the first Salesian missionary expedition, which took place in the same Basilica on 11 November 1875.

Fr Vaclav Klement, Councillor for the Missions, introduced the missionary groups and individuals, Salesians and lay people mentioning where they were going to; Sr Ciri Hernández, General Councillor for the Mission of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians then introduced the 7 Sisters ready to leave, speaking on behalf of Mother Antonia Colombo and the 192 Chapter Members gathered in Rome. Side by side with the Salesians and the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians on the 139th missionary expedition were some lay volunteers from Poland, Italy and other countries brought together by the Warsaw Missionary Centre and the International Volunteers for Development.

In his homily, Fr Chávez presented almost in its entirety the Message of the Holy Father for World Mission Day this year, since it was “particularly illuminating and constructive.” In it Benedict XVI, recalls that the missionary mandate is an absolute priority for all the baptised, “servants and apostles of Christ Jesus,” and proposes the apostle Paul as the model of an apostolic commitment consumed with “the need to evangelise.”

During his homily, interrupting his reading of the message, the Rector Major proposed an extraordinary missionary expedition for 2009, the year in which the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Salesian Congregation occurs. “At least 100!” declared the IX successor of Don Bosco, asking from each Province the gift of a missionary.

Afterwards, Fr Chávez invited the new missionaries to have Jesus as their model for evangelisation and to make their own, as the apostle Paul suggests, his sentiments: “to serve our neighbour with the greatest humility.” “Here then the model of real inculturation, which is indispensable for evangelising and touching the heart of the culture of peoples and like leaven transforming it.” The Rector Major went on: “Being part of the «missio ad gentes» implies freeing ourselves from all that could separate us from the people to whom we are being sent, from our presumptions, from our knowing it all, from our academic qualifications, from our economic resources, and humbly to begin, like children, to learn their language, to get to know their culture, to appreciate all that they have that is good, true, beautiful, in a word to love them as Christ loved even to giving his life for them.”

“Your commitment to the mission and the Holy Eucharist are your path of sanctification,” Fr Chávez said before completing his homily and entrusting the new missionaries to the intercession of the apostle Paul and of Mary Help of Christians, Star of Evangelisation.

In presenting the crucifix to the departing missionaries, the IX successor of Don Bosco said: “receive the sign of the love of Christ the Redeemer. May it be for you the support and the model of a genuine and faithful love. May you be the smile and the tender presence of Jesus among the young people to whom you are being sent.”

Among those present at the celebration, in addition to many other Salesians, were Fr Stefano Martoglio, Provincial of the Special Circumscription of Piedmont and the Val d’Aosta, and Fr Maurizio Spreafico, Provincial of the Middle East.

Saint of the Day: Jerome

Today is the feast of St. Jerome! This great saint and scripture scholar gave us the translation of scripture that we call the Latin Vulgate which is still in use today. The following comes from New Advent:

Born at Stridon, a town on the confines of Dalmatia and Pannonia, about the year 340-2; died at Bethlehem, 30 September, 420.

He went to Rome, probably about 360, where he was baptized, and became interested in ecclesiastical matters. From Rome he went to Trier, famous for its schools, and there began his theological studies. Later he went to Aquileia, and towards 373 he set out on a journey to the East. He settled first in Antioch, where he heard Apollinaris of Laodicea, one of the first exegetes of that time and not yet separated from the Church. From 374-9 Jerome led an ascetical life in the desert of Chalcis, south-west of Antioch. Ordained priest at Antioch, he went to Constantinople (380-81), where a friendship sprang up between him and St. Gregory of Nazianzus. From 382 to August 385 he made another sojourn in Rome, not far from Pope Damasus. When the latter died (11 December, 384) his position became a very difficult one. His harsh criticisms had made him bitter enemies, who tried to ruin him. After a few months he was compelled to leave Rome. By way of Antioch and Alexandria he reached Bethlehem, in 386. He settled there in a monastery near a convent founded by two Roman ladies, Paula and Eustochium, who followed him to Palestine. Henceforth he led a life of asceticism and study; but even then he was troubled by controversies which will be mentioned later, one with Rufinus and the other with the Pelagians.

To learn more about St. Jerome please click here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Psalm 104: God is Good!

National Parks Timelapse from Cody Westheimer on Vimeo.

On a day when so many are distressed, it is important for us never to forget the goodness of God!

Psalm 104
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.

You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken.
You cover it with the deep as with a garment;
the waters stood above the mountains.
At your rebuke they flee;
at the sound of your thunder they take to flight.
They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys
to the place that you appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass,
so that they might not again cover the earth.
You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.

From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.
You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,
to bring forth food from the earth,
and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.
The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly,
the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.
In them the birds build their nests;
the stork has its home in the fir trees.

The high mountains are for the wild goats;
the rocks are a refuge for the coneys.
You have made the moon to mark the seasons;
the sun knows its time for setting.
You make darkness, and it is night,
when all the animals of the forest come creeping out.
The young lions roar for their prey,
seeking their food from God.
When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens.
People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening.

O Lord, how manifold are your works!
In wisdom you have made them all;
the earth is full of your creatures.
Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
creeping things innumerable are there,
living things both small and great.

There go the ships,
and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it.
These all look to you
to give them their food in due season;
when you give to them, they gather it up;
when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.
When you hide your face, they are dismayed;
when you take away their breath, they die
and return to their dust.
When you send forth your spirit, they are created;
and you renew the face of the earth.

May the glory of the Lord endure for ever;
may the Lord rejoice in his works --
who looks on the earth and it trembles,
who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my meditation be pleasing to him,
for I rejoice in the Lord.
Let sinners be consumed from the earth,
and let the wicked be no more.
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

John McCain: American Hero!

A new campaign video for '08 hopeful Sen. John McCain shows rare footage of him as a POW in the Vietnam War.

Don Bosco Prep Ironmen defeat De La Salle!

In a fantastic ending, Don Bosco Prep edged De La Salle, 23-21, when kicker Patrick Murray made a 19-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining. I really would have loved to see that game myself! I am so proud of all those Ironmen!

The following article comes from the SFGate.com:

In the days preceding the matchup between two of the most successful high school football programs in the country, the De La Salle coaching staff spoke about its team being a bit "overmatched" by the visitors from New Jersey.

For one half, De La Salle outmatched Don Bosco Prep of Ramsey, N.J., but the Ironmen didn't want their cross-country jaunt to go for naught.

Don Bosco kicker Patrick Murray made a 19-yard field goal with 10 seconds remaining for a 23-21 victory over host De La Salle - The Chronicle's No. 1 team and the sixth-ranked team in the country, according to ESPN - in front of a crowd of 6,500 fans at Owen Owens Field in Concord.

The Ironmen's victory snapped De La Salle's 15-game winning streak.

"It's the greatest feeling in the world," said Murray, who missed an extra-point try on the Ironmen's final touchdown.

The Spartans (2-1), who led 21-7 at the half, didn't score in the second half, and Bosco rattled off 16 straight points.

The De La Salle offense totaled 202 yards in the first half but managed only 49 in the second as Don Bosco, ranked 28th in the country, applied more pressure. The Spartans, who had four turnovers, struggled to find any rhythm.

"It was a tale of two halves," De La Salle coach Bob Ladouceur said. "I thought we did it to ourselves. We didn't make any first downs. We made critical mistakes. We blew some pass-protection assignments. ... We didn't do anything right in the second half. ... We were awful. We choked that game."

Don Bosco quarterback Brett Knief found TJ Azese for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 8:31 left in the third quarter to make it 21-14.

Then Bosco (2-1) climbed on the back of running back Dillon Romain (150 yards, 25 carries). The Ironmen made it 21-20 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter when Knief found Ryan Cobb for a 3-yard pass. Murray missed the extra-point attempt to keep it 21-20.

He would get his redemption, though.

De La Salle quarterback Blake Wayne (11-for-23, 183 yards) once again showed his toughness and field leadership, and Terron Williams-Ward (two touchdowns) and Noah Perio (touchdown, interception) enjoyed standout performances in the first half.

The Ironmen totaled 188 yards in the final 24 minutes after having only 85 in the first half, controlling the field-position game.

"We felt we could run the football," Bosco coach Greg Toal said. "We weren't going to change what we came in here to do. We thought we could knock them off the football, and we're were going to stay with it. I said, 'Don't panic.' "

Williams-Ward scored his first of two first-half touchdowns on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line with 1:59 left in the first quarter.

Romain made it 7-7 with a 1-yard touchdown with 8:23 left in the second quarter after Wayne threw an interception at midfield.

Williams-Ward scored on an 8-yard run around left end on a pitch from Wayne with 4:07 left in the second quarter to make it 14-7.

Perio ran a Bosco punt back 51 yards with 43 seconds left in the half and caught an 11-yard pass five plays later with 17 seconds left to make it 21-7.

Remembering the Catholic Martyrs of China

Today the Catholic Church remembers the martyrs of China. As many as 20,000 Christians were killed for their faith during the Boxer rebellion and today we commemorate some of them. Pope John Paul II canonized a group of 120 of them on October 1, 2000. To read more about them please look to the article below:

The Church was built on the blood of the martyrs. Nowhere is this more evident than in Rome, the Eternal City, with its Coliseum consecrated by the blood of the early Christians. Rome is a living testament to the holy sacrifices of men and women who have died for Christ and for the truths of his Church. The image of our first Pope, Peter—being crucified upside down—appears on the front door of the basilica named after him.

Not far from St. Peter’s is Sant’Ignazio di Loyola, where honor is given to those who gave their lives far from Rome. Andrea Pozzo’s ceiling fresco depicts the spiritual children of St. Ignatius who brought the faith to other lands. China was one of those lands, and her soil, like Rome’s, is crowned with the blood of Christian martyrs, many of whom faced their violent deaths singing the Te Deum ("We praise thee, O God: We acknowledge thee to be the Lord"). We should not call China a "pagan land," for she too has given witness to the Catholic faith; she too has laid the foundation upon which the Church is built.

The history of Christianity in China is long, beginning in the seventh century with the Nestorian missionary Alopen, a Syrian follower of the heretical Bishop Nestorius. Alopen was quite successful in disseminating the Christian faith—although in an imperfect form—to many of China’s elite. Nestorianism, though, was suppressed in 845 by the Tang emperor, Wuzong, who believed that the foreign religions of Christianity and Buddhism would corrupt the purity of China’s Confucian culture.

Unlike the Catholic missionaries who arrived in China centuries later, the Nestorians were not executed for their faith in Christ, but their monasteries were closed and the Syrian clergy were expelled from China. During the Tang dynasty (618–906) China held several thousand Nestorian monasteries. Other than the very limited successes of the Franciscan missionaries of the thirteenth century, it was not until the sixteenth century that Catholic missionaries successfully planted the seeds of Christianity in the vineyard of East Asia.

To continue reading please click here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pope Benedict: Before evangelizing, St. Paul encountered Christ!!

The following comes from H2O News via Gloria TV: The relationship between Saint Paul and the Apostles was marked by deep respect, Pope Benedict XVI said during the catechesis of this morning’s General Audience. The importance that St. Paul gives to the living tradition of the Church and transmits to his community, said the Pope, shows the error of those who claim that St. Paul was the inventor of Christianity. Before he began to evangelize, Paul met the Lord on the road to Damascus, he attended the Church, observing the lives of the Twelve and those who followed Christ through the streets of Galilee.

Benedict XVI: "The more we try to trace the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth through the streets of Galilee, the more we can understand that He was born of our humanity, sharing in everything but sin. Our faith is not born of a myth, nor from a mere idea but rather from an encounter with the Risen One, in the life of the Church."

Fr. Benedict Groeschel Speaks About Modern Culture

Father Benedict Groeschel talks about how today's culture can lead people to an isolated lifestyle. For more formation resources for single Catholics visit

Also, for a great article on Fr. Benedict click here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Money Crisis Video: Must See TV!

I thought this was worth sharing. Thanks to the Anchoress for posting it.

Go out to all the world and proclaim the Good News!

The Salesians of Don Bosco have been sending missionaries to serve the young and the poor since the first group was sent to Argentina in 1875. The following story comes from the Salesian News Agency in Rome: The 139th Salesian missionary expedition will shortly be leaving from the Basilica of Mary help of Christians in Valdocco, Turin. Presenting crucifixes, the sign of the missionary mandate, will be Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva, Rector Major of the Salesians and the IX successor of Don Bosco, during a Mass at which he will preside.

As in recent years this expedition will include religious and lay people, young people and adults of the Salesian Family and others. Receiving their crucifix will be 28 Salesians, 7 Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, 2 lay people from the Mission Community of Don Bosco, in Bologna, 6 young volunteers from Poland and 29 from Italy. In the group there is also a married couple who with their three children aged 5, 2 and the third of six months wil be leaving for Madagascar. Some of the missionaries especially the lay people will be devoting one or two years to the mission to which they are being sent, while others their whole lives.

The Departure of the Misisonaries will come as the culmination of the Harambèe 2008, promoted by the International Voluntary Service for Development and the Italian Salesian Missionary Organisation. Harambèe, which begins on Saturday 27 September, at Colle Don Bosco, will bring together young people who are involved in missionary promotion or who have spent some time during the summer as volunteers in poor countries. On Sunday morning, after having arrived in Valdocco, the young people will listen to the Rector Major speak on the subject: “Living the Gospel serving individuals and society.” After this they will take part in the Mass in the Basilica.

The ceremony will be broadcast live on Telepace and in streaming on www.missionidonbosco.tv with production by Missioni Don Bosco – Media Centre in Turin.

Little Rock Vocations!

The Holy Spirit continues to do good things in the South! I had to add this news article from CNS on the promising vocational signs coming from Little Rock, Arkansas. We have 2 young men in our own Salesian formation program this year from Arkansas as well:

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CNS) -- The Diocese of Little Rock is emerging from a 41-year priest vocations slump, with 29 seminarians currently studying in seven different schools in the United States, Italy and Mexico. The diocese has not seen numbers that high since 1966, the last full school year before St. John Home Mission Seminary closed in Little Rock. The workload of Msgr. Scott Friend, diocesan vocations director, has increased significantly compared to vocation directors in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s who oversaw as few as seven seminarians. He keeps busy meeting prospective seminarians, helping the men complete entrance paperwork and visiting each seminary or college to check on the men. This year the diocese accepted eight new seminarians. Msgr. Friend attributed the increase to a variety of factors, some of them interrelated. Among the factors cited by Msgr. Friend are: family support, Catholic schools and parish religious education, peer-to-peer youth ministry, good priest role models, the Knights of Columbus, the Serra Club and lots of prayers.

Vocations are clearly a team effort and if we all do our part God will bless us for sure! Let's keep praying and working for vocations!

Cistercian Abbey Stift Heiligenkreuz; Gregorian Chant

"Stift Heiligenkreuz", which means the "Abbey of Heiligenkreuz", is a beautiful and living Cistercian monastery, close to Vienna, the capital of Austria. Stift Heiligenkreuz is the second-oldest Cistercian monastery in the world and the oldest continuously active and inhabited one, now full of young vocations. In September 2007 it was blessed by an official visit by Pope Benedict XVI.

Stift Heiligenkreuz, peacefully situated in the middle of the "Wienerwald", the Vienna woods, is one of the most beautiful medieval monasteries in the world. It was founded in 1133 by St. Leopold III of the House of Babenberg. Leopold’s son, Otto, had been sent to Paris for an international education. Otto came in contact with Cistercian monks and soon decided to enter a Cistercian monastery. When Otto visited his father in Austria he asked him to build a similar monastery for Lower Austria. This was the reason St. Leopold built Heiligenkreuz as well as Klosterneuburg to the northwest of Vienna.

Currently the monastery has 77 members, 18 affiliated parishes and a Pontifical Theological Academy (founded 1802) with around 180 students.

Let's join Pope Benedict, who spoke of the need for more monasteries, and continue to pray for more monastic vocations to the Church!

Below is a video of Pope Benedict's visit to this beautiful monastery.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Cause of Salesian Bishop Stepan Czmil is Introduced!

The list of Salesians on the path to beatification and canonization continues to grow! I feel so blessed to be part of the Salesian community and to share this beautiful vocation! The following is a story of Salesian Fr. Stepan Czmil, SDB whose cause has just been introduced. He actually a secret Bishop ordained for the Ukrainian Catholic Church. Here is the story from the Salesian News Agency:

The Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, meeting at Lviv between 2 and 9 September, agreed to the request of the Salesians to introduce the process for the beatification and canonisation of Fr. Stepan Czmil, the first Salesian Ukrainian priest of the Byzantine-Ukrainian Rite.

Fr Czmil, born in 1914 at Sudova Vyshnia, in Ukraine, left his country 1932 on account of the religious and political difficulties in Ukraine. With other young men he arrived at the aspirantate of in Ivrea, and after going to the novitiate at Villa Moglia, Chieri, the young Stepan Czmil made his first religious profession as a Salesian in 936. Having completed his theological studies in Rome he was ordained a priest in 1945. He left as a missionary for Argentina, and then returned to Italy where in Rome he was Rector of the Pontifical Junior Seminary for Ukrainian boys of the diaspora, between 1961 and 1967 and from 1976 until the day of his death on 22 January 1978.

About twenty years after his death, John Paul II recognised the validity of the ordination of Stepan Czmil as a Bishop which took place secretly on 4 April 1977. Fr Stepan Czmil, together with two other priests, was ordained Bishop by Cardinal Josef Slipij, Metropolitan of Leopoli, in the Studite monastery in total secrecy.

Cardinal Lubomir Husar, Major Archbishop of Kiev and President of the Synod of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, who had known Fr Czmil personally, testifies: “Fr Stepan was so holy that his holiness did not appear, it was indeed deep within him and it flowed from him, throwing its light on those who came in contact with him … To speak of the reputation for holiness of Fr Stepan, is more than right and proper because he really was a saint!”

Bishop Andriy Sapelak SDB, Bishop emeritus of Santa Maria del Patrocinio in Buenos Aires of the Ukrainian, has written: “The beatification and the canonisation of Fr Stefano Czmil would be an enrichment for the Ukrainian Church. A small piece in the mosaic of the holiness of our people, because through Fr Stepan we shall be enriching ourselves with the holiness of Don Bosco, who with his inspirational holiness opened the doors of holiness not only to religious, martyrs and to the faithful but especially to the young, following the example of fourteen year old Saint Dominic Savio, his pupil.”

St Peter`s Basilica, 15 October 1961. Ordination of Bishop A Sapelak. On the left Fr Stepan Czmil and Bishop Sapelak.

Update: Archbishop Chaput’s book makes NYT Best Seller List

According to the American Papist Archbishop Chaput's new book is beating Joe Biden's! He says that just three weeks into the publication of “Render Unto Caesar,” Archbishop Charles Chaput’s new book has made the New York Times Best Seller list. The archbishop’s book is currently one place ahead of “Promises to Keep,” written by Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Joe Biden.

I have to check out the Archbishop's book myself!

Check out the video interview of Archbishop Chaput with National Review here.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Pope Benedict challenges new Bishops to be like St. Paul!

Here is a short video from H2O News (via Gloria TV) on the Holy Father's words to new Bishops:

According to St. Paul, the first spiritual and apostolic commitment of a bishop must be to advance in the way of evangelical perfection, noted Benedict XVI in his speech addressed to the new bishops, participants at a conference organized for them by the Congregation for Bishops.

To meet the challenge of secularism in this contemporary society, it is necessary that the Bishop meditate on the Word of God every day in prayer, so that they can be effective proclaimers of the Gospel, authentic scholars in presenting and defending it, enlightened and wise teachers in transmitting it. Be close to priests, to pastors and to young people, the Holy Father recommended; You, who are able to admonish and teach them.

Vietnam: Update on the Crisis

To see an interesting short video from French 24 News on the current situation in Vietnam please click here. The person offering incense is actually Bishop Francis Xavier Nguyen Van Sang, the bishop of Thai Binh, a diocese not too far from Ha Noi.

Scores of Vietnamese Catholics have erected statues and crosses on the construction site of a public park in Hanoi, protesting that the land rightfully belongs to the church.

Images obtained by FRANCE 24 showed that the construction of the park continued Monday behind security barriers covered with barbed wire. Scores of praying Catholics were allowed to quietly protest near the site, carefully watched by security forces.

The images were discreetly taken on a mobile phone, days after the Associated Press Hanoi bureau chief claimed he was beaten by police, on Sept. 19, and his camera seized as he attempted to film the start of the construction. The ministry denied this, adding that the journalist had violated Vietnam's laws by taking photos at a prohibited area.

The government has accused the protesters of disrupting public order and says their actions are in violation of the law.

The site is the former nunciature of the Vatican in Vietnam, a mostly Buddhist country that is nonetheless home to nearly 6 million Catholics - the second largest community among Asian countries. The property, like many others, was requisitioned by the communists after the French colonials left in 1954.

For a moving slideshow of images click here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Caller to Rush shares personal story of their encounter with the McCain's and Palin's

RUSH: Kurt in Pittsburgh , hello, sir. Nice to have you on the EIB Network, and how about the Steelers defense?
CALLER: How about those Steelers, huh?
RUSH: How about that?
CALLER: Hey, listen, Rush, longtime listener, first-time caller, one of those Bible, family, gun clingers from western Pennsylvania .
RUSH: Thank you.

CALLER: And I wanted to share a story with you. A week ago last Saturday we went to the Palin-McCain rally in Washington , Pennsylvania , was the day after he announced her, and we have a five-year-old daughter with Down syndrome, and we made a sign that said: 'We Love Kids with Down Syndrome.' So when they pulled in in their bus the sign did catch their, McCain and Palin and the rest of their family, it caught their eye, we could tell, they gave us a thumbs-up from the bus, so we were all excited just by that --
RUSH: Wait, wait, wait. Who gave you the thumbs up, McCain and Palin?
CALLER: McCain, Palin, Cindy McCain, we could see them from the bus. We were in a position where we had eye contact with them --
RUSH: Oh, cool!
CALLER: My wife was holding our daughter.
RUSH: Very, very, very cool.
CALLER: It was really cool, Rush. I was like, 'Wow, that's awesome,' because I love Governor Palin and so I thought that's really neat. So then we moved around as the bus was getting ready to pull out, we kind of positioned ourselves so we could just wave them on and a Secret Service agent came up to us and said, 'Hey, can you come with us?' I was like, 'Do we have a choice?'
RUSH: (laughing) You shouldn't have worried. It's not the Clinton administration.
CALLER: Right. So we accompanied them up the hill, we went right to the bus, where it was, and Governor Palin, Senator McCain, Cindy, Todd Palin, they're all standing there. We're in this inner circle with just us and them, and the Secret Service agent, and they came right up to us and thanked us for coming out, said they loved our sign, and Governor Palin immediately said, 'May I hold your daughter?' and our daughter Chloe, who's five, went right to her, and I have some pictures I'd love to send you maybe when I'm done here, but Governor Palin was hugging Chloe, and then her little daughter brought their baby Trig who has Down syndrome from the bus, he was napping, and Chloe went right over and kissed him on the cheek, and my son Nolan who's nine, he thanked her.
RUSH: This is amazing.
CALLER: I will send you all the stuff, Senator McCain was talking to my son, and we thanked him for his service, and he asked my son if he wanted to see the bus, and we were hanging out and it was very surreal. I felt like we could have had a pizza and a beer with them, they were so warm.
RUSH: You know what? I want to put you on hold. I want Snerdley to give you our super-secret, known-only-to-three-people here, e-mail address.
CALLER: I will send you everything, Rush.
RUSH: And then could you send us these pictures? Would you mind if we put them on the website?
CALLER: I would be honored, and my main thing is they are warm, kind, genuine people, and they represent the best of this country.
RUSH: That's right. And when you send these pictures, make sure you identify them. I mean, we'll know Palin and McCain, of course. Identify yourselves.
CALLER: I will, I will identify everybody in the picture, Rush, and God bless you for being a beacon of hope and truth in this country.
RUSH: Oh, no, no. It's nothing, it's nothing. You're doing the Lord's work.
CALLER: Well, we're very blessed and I want people to know what a blessing it is to have a child with Down syndrome. These kids, they're angels.
RUSH: That's the thing. There's always good to be found in everything that happens. It may be a while before it reveals itself.
CALLER: Absolutely. Right, and when she hugged my daughter I said, here's the difference, this candidate embraces life and all its limitless possibilities.
RUSH: All right.
CALLER: That's what she is.
RUSH: Terrific, okay, I gotta run here, but I'm going to put you on hold.
CALLER: Thank you, Rush.
RUSH: Thank you, Kurt. I really appreciate it.

Funny Mae and Feddy!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Who am I?

Who am I?

* I am a Republican.

* I am under 45 years old.

* I love the outdoors.

* I am an avid hunter.

* I am a member of the National Rifle Association.

* I have a reputation as a reformer.

* I am known for taking on the Republican establishment.

* I have a lot of children.

* I served less than two years as governor before being named to the national ticket as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

I am Theodore Roosevelt!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Vietnamese Government Threatens Church Leaders

Hanoi People’s Committee has just released a statement falsely accusing the Hanoi Archbishop and have threated to punish him severly.

State media on Sunday evening carried a statement from Nguyen The Thao, the chairman of The People’s Committee of Hanoi City in which he accused Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of inciting riots, falsely accusing the government, ridiculing the law, and disrespecting the nation. Is his arrest their next step? Let's pray for the Church of Vietnam that God will see them through this crisis.

The following story comes from the Indepenent:

The young Vietnamese seminarian is terribly nervous but he also wants to talk. Hours earlier police in riot gear had arrived at Hanoi's Catholic Cathedral, blocked off roads and started work building a park on a property that once housed the Vatican embassy and is still claimed by the Church.

Leading me to a quiet room in the French-built cathedral complex he tells me: "Our priest came and said we had to go outside because the police were here. The police were wearing riot gear and they were hitting people. The media came but the police made them go away."His last comment is a vast understatement. Such is the Vietnamese authorities' desire that this latest twist in a long-running conflict with the country's Catholic minority should be hushed up, that when the bureau chief of the Associated Press had arrived that morning to take pictures he was arrested, taken to a police station and beaten up. The journalist, Ben Stocking, recieved stitches for cuts to his head. He had been taking pictures of bulldozers starting to dig up the land and of the few dozen Catholics who had gathered for a prayer vigil and who were being videoed by plainclothes police.

After less than five minutes, I too receive a firm hand on my shoulder from a policeman and his colleague, who demand that I leave. Foreigners are not allowed here, they say. Where is my passport and visa? I tell them (honestly) that they are at my hotel. They demand that I fetch them for inspection. I tell them (dishonestly) that I will do just that.
Memories of McCain

At Hoa Lo Prison, aka the Hanoi Hilton, the uniform of Lt Cmdr John McCain hangs behind glass. The now US presidential candidate spent five years here as a prisoner of war. The display contains no mention of the torture he was subjected to, rather a series of photographs of prisoners playing table tennis and enjoying Christmas dinner.

Only a small part of the prison remains and it now houses a museum. The remainder has been replaced by an upmarket block of flats. From the prison yard I can see children running around in the apartments' playground.

There’s the rub...

Every day people come to exercise around Hoan Kiem lake. Tai Chi, press-ups and aerobics, all shapes and sizes. Who needs expensive gyms? Best is the mutual massage conga; a line of elderly ladies who massage the shoulders of the person in front and then about-turn so that no one misses out.

For more information on the situation please click here and there are more photo's and information here.

Cubs win! Cubs win!

The Cubs clinch the second straight NL Central title!

Vietnamese Catholics Continue to Suffer

I wanted to post an update on the situation in Vietnam. You can see the large group of priests and lay faithful gathered outside of the Church property in the pictures. There were over 5,000 people gathered there last night to pray. You can read more on the initial situation here. Let's continue to keep these good people and this situation in our prayers. You can read the letter from the Archbishop's office below:

Archbishop's Office of Hanoi

Hanoi, September 19, 2008

Letter of urgent appeal

Priests, religious, faithful,
peace lovers and fellow justice supporters.

Since Sep. 19, 2008 morning, at the piece of land of the nunciature at 42 Nha Chung St., which belongs to Archbishop's Office of Hanoi, a great mass of police and security forces, militiamen, and police dogs has besieged Hanoi archbishop's residence and blocked Nha Chung street. Another team in huge numbers has demolished the fence, some other construction; and digged out the lawn in the front door of our nunciature.

Archbishop's Office of Hanoi has repeatedly requested the building and its land to be returned to the Church but so far our aspiration has not been met. All in a sudden, on Sep. 18 evening and Sep. 19 morning, state television reported the demolition plan with distortional information to prepare public opinion for this illegal deed.

This development is going against the policy of dialogue that the government and the Archbishop's office are conducting. This act is a deed that smears the legitimate aspiration of the Hanoi Catholic community, ridicules the law, and disrespects the Catholic Church in Vietnam. It is also an act of trembling morality, and mocking society’s conscience.

The discuss on the ownership of the nunciature is still on the way but the authorities of Hanoi City and Hoan Kiem district have employed their armed forces to back the destruction of our property.

The archbishop's residence and the convent of Hanoi Adorers of the Holy Cross congregation have been besieged. All normal activities have been delayed.

Hence, Archbishop's Office of Hanoi strongly protests and requests

1) The government to stop besieging Hanoi archbishop's residence, and end the demolition our property.
2) The government to restore the property to its original status, and return it to us so that it can be used for religious and community welfare purposes.
3) Relevant agencies and Hanoi City must accept responsibilities for all potential consequences born of this property appropriation. We have our rights to use all of our capabilities to protect our property.
4) The President, the Prime Minister of Social Republic of Vietnam, the authorities of Hanoi City, and relevant agencies to immediate interfere to put an end for this act.

Facing this crisis, the archbishop’s office of Hanoi informs everyone asking for your communion and solidarity in this difficult time.

Throughout the diocese, in churches, chapels and anywhere Catholics live, please hold vigil prayers simultaneously, or come to pray at the archbishop’s office.

In this period of ordeal, please monitor all developments at the archbishop’s office, and be in high vigilance against one-way and distortional information from state newspapers and television.

This letter and the urgent protest letter of archbishop’s office are to be read at all churches and handed out to everyone.

Be united in Christ.

Vice Chancellor of Hanoi Archbishop’s office
Rev. John Le Trong Cung

With all this going on there was also, at the Redeptorists parish in Thai Ha, someone desecrated the shrine to the Blessed Mother. Sadly the police watching the place did nothing to stop them despite the appeal of the parishioners. Some pictures are available here.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

LSU Gets it done!

Every year when we play Auburn it is down to the last few moments... Thankfully my Tigers pulled it out! Get the wild story here!

Chinese Catholic Bishop Released From Prison

The following comes from the Catholic World News:

Beijing, Sep. 19, 2008 (CWNews.com) - Bishop Julius Jia Zhiguo of Zhengding, China, has been released, nearly a month after his arrest by Chinese officials, the Cardinal Kung Foundation has announced.

Bishop Jia, who was taken into custody on August 24-- the final day of the Beijing Olympics-- returned to his home under a police escort on September 18. He remains under house arrest, his movements closely monitored, with no visitors allowed.
The 73-year-old bishop was arrested after "underground" Catholics in his Zhengding diocese defied police orders by joining Bishop Jia for Mass for the feast of the Assumption on August 15. Leaders of the "underground" Church had been warned against religious assemblies during the period of the Olympic Games.

Bishop Jia, the most visible leader of the "underground" Church in China, spent 15 years in prison, from 1963 to 1978. He has arrested 12 different times during the past 4 years. On each occasion he has been held for interrogation and then released. He has been living under house arrest since 1989.

Father Corapi's Challenge to America

To read the article by Fr. Corapi please click here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Sarah Palin and a Soldier's Prayer!

A Soldier's Prayer

Almighty Father, Whose Command is over all and Whose Love never faileth,

let me be aware of Thy presence and obedient to Thy will.

Keep me true to my best self, guarding me against dishonesty

in purpose and in deed, and helping me so to soldier and to live

so as to stand unashamed and unafraid before my fellow soldiers,

my loved ones, and Thee.

Protect those in whose love I live.

Give me the will to do the work of a man and to accept my share

of responsibilities with a strong heart and a cheerful mind.

Make me considerate of those entrusted to my leadership

and faithful to the duties my country has entrusted to me.

Let my uniform remind me daily of the traditions

of the Service of which I am a part.

If I am inclined to doubt, steady my faith;

if I am tempted, make me strong to resist;

if I should miss the mark, bestow upon me courage to try again.

Guide me with the light of Thy truth ~ and keep before me the life of

Him in Whose example and deliverance I trust.

In the name of my Lord,


~ Authored by an unknown World War II U.S. Navy Serviceman

Hanoi to demolish the nunciature, not to return it to the Church

A fellow Salesian alerted me to the following news story about the situation of Hanoi Catholics this morning. Please pray for the Church in Vietnam and for the leaders of that country that religious freedom and liberty might be respected!

After a long wait of more than 8 months for the requisition of the nunciature, today Hanoi Catholics have been told the government would not honor its promise. Hundreds of police have been deployed to protect building workers demolishing the building.

At 3:30 am local time today, hundreds of police besieged Hanoi archbishop palace, St. Joseph Cathedral, and blocked all the roads leading to the nunciature. Dozens of bulldozers moved into the area and started digging out the lawn. At 6 am, Hanoi television and radio announced that the government decided to demolish the building to convert it and the land around into a public playground park.

Priests in St. Joseph Cathedral rung bells continously to ask for help. Hundreds of Catholics hearing the bells rushed to site to protest. At a point a woman and a priest pushed through police cordon, got inside to stop the workers. But soon they were arrested.

At the meantime, thousands of priests and faithful protest at the site.

The incident at Hanoi nunciature is one in a series of provocations from the government. At 1:00 am, a group of gangs attacked an altar at Thai Ha where Redemptorists celebrate open Mass for protestors. The altar was ransacked, and statues of Our Lady were sprayed with vehicle used oil.

Another group of gangs verbally attacked priests and protestors with cursing and foul languages during a procession last night.

In addition, yesterday, police started a new wave of arrests. Hanoi Redemptorists confirmed that at least one protestor, Mr. Pham Tri Nang of Thuong Le, Dai Thinh, Me Linh, Vinh Phuc, was arrested.

Hanoi Redemptorists also disclosed on Wednesday the People’s Committee of Hanoi “invited them” to have a talk on the dispute. But, the talk turned out to be a chance for officials to ridicule them.

During the meeting, Hanoi Redemptorists stated that they had received 4 different documents from the Committee. All of them were supposed to be the evidence to support the state theory that Fr. Vu Ngoc Bich donated the land. However, two of them stated that Fr. Vu donated the land on Oct. 24, 1961, another on Nov. 24, 1961, and the other on Jan. 30, 1961. Also, the papers showed characters in a Unicode font that could not be available in 1961, as simply computer did not exist at that time.

Vu Hong Khanh, the vice chairman of Hanoi reacted angrily. “I will sort them out and among them, choose the best,” he said challenging that the priests would have no way to challenge the ownership of the land. He even went further teach them how to preach their flock. Found himself being ridiculed harshly, a priest stood up asking Khanh not to teach him how to be a priest.

For more on this story check out the VietCatholic News Agency.

Beyond the City

Excerpts: Beyond the City from Philip Bloom on Vimeo.
This is like a video retreat... enjoy!

Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Tracy Lawrence: Time Marches On

This is a great country song! I was just in the mood for a little country music moment! Enjoy!

Saint of the day: Joseph of Cupertino

Today is the Feast of St. Joseph of Cupertino! The following is from Catholic Online:

St. Joseph was born at Cupertino, in the diocese of Nardo in the Kingdom of Naples, in 1603. After spending his childhood and adolescence in simplicity and innocence, he finally joined the Franciscan Friars Minor Conventual. After his ordination to the holy priesthood, he gave himself up entirely to a life of humiliation, mortification, and obedience. He was most devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary and promoted devotion to her among all classes of people.

His mother considered him a nuisance and treated him harshly. Joseph soon became very slow and absent-minded. He would wander around, going nowhere, his mouth gaping open. But he had a bad temper, too, and so, he was not at all popular. He tried to learn the trade of shoemaking, but failed. He asked to become a Franciscan, but they would not accept him. Next, he joined the Capuchins, but eight months later, they sent him away because he could not seem to do anything right. He dropped piles of dishes and kept forgetting to do what he was told. His mother was not at all pleased to have the eighteen-year-old Joseph back home again, so she finally got him accepted as a servant at the Franciscan monastery. He was given the monks habit and put to hard work taking care of the horses. About this time, Joseph began to change. He grew more humble and gentle, more careful and successful at his work. He also began to do more penance. Now, it was decided that he could become a real member of the Order and start studying for the priesthood. Although he was very good, he still had a hard time with studies. The examiner happened to ask him to explain the only thing he knew well, and so he was made a deacon, and later a priest. After this, God began to work many amazing miracles through St. Joseph. Over seventy times, people saw him rise from the ground while saying mass or praying. Often he went into ecstasy and would be completely rapt up in talking with God. He became so holy that everything he saw made him think of God, and he said that all the troubles of this world were nothing but the "play" battles children have with popguns. St. Joseph became so famous for the miracles that he was kept hidden, but he was happy for the chance to be alone with his beloved Lord. On His part, Jesus never left him alone and one day came to bring him to Heaven. Pope Clement XIII canonized him in 1767. He is the patron saint of air travelers and pilots.

It is said that the life of this saint was marked by ecstasies and levitations. The mere mention of God or a spiritual matter was enough to take him out of his senses; at Mass he frequently floated in the air in rapture. Once as Christmas carols were being sung, he soared to the high altar and knelt in the air, rapted in prayer. On another occasion he ferried a cross thirty-six feet high through the air to the top of a Calvary group as easily as one might carry a straw.

The people flocked to him in droves seeking help and advice in the confessional, and he converted many to a truly Christian life. However, this humble man had to endure many severe trials and terrible temptations throughout his life. He died on September 18, 1663.

To read more about this amazing saint click here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Holy Father Conteplates Mary's Smile!

The Holy Father finished up his trip to France this week and we have some beautiful images and words from his visit to reflect upon. It was wonderful to see so many enthusiastic young people and so many religious gathered with him wherever he went! The following story comes from the Zenit.org website:

LOURDES, France, SEPT. 15, 2008 (Zenit.org).- For those who suffer and are struggling, the strength to carry on can be found within the smile of the Virgin Mary, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today at the homily he gave today, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrow, during the Mass with the sick at Rosary Square at the Marian shrine in Lourdes. Some 70,000 people participated in the Mass.

The Holy Father offered a refelction on the smile of Mary, who he called the "teacher of love."

He noted that the tears Mary "shed at the foot of the cross have been transformed into a smile which nothing can wipe away."

"Christians have always sought the smile of Our Lady," Benedict XVI explained, "this smile which medieval artists were able to represent with such marvelous skill and to show to advantage."

"This smile of Mary is for all; but it is directed quite particularly to those who suffer, so that they can find comfort and solace therein," he said. "To seek Mary’s smile is not an act of devotional or outmoded sentimentality, but rather the proper expression of the living and profoundly human relationship which binds us to her whom Christ gave us as our Mother."

The Pope continued: "To wish to contemplate this smile of the Virgin, does not mean letting oneself be led by an uncontrolled imagination. Scripture itself discloses it to us through the lips of Mary when she sings the Magnificat: 'My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit exults in God my Savior.'

"When the Virgin Mary gives thanks to the Lord, she calls us to witness. Mary shares, as if by anticipation, with us, her future children, the joy that dwells in her heart, so that it can become ours. Every time we recite the Magnificat, we become witnesses of her smile."


The Holy Father said that St. Bernadette Soubirous "contemplated this smile of Mary in a most particular way" when Our Lady appeared to her.

"It was the first response that the Beautiful Lady gave to the young visionary who wanted to know who she was," he said. "Before introducing herself, some days later, as 'the Immaculate Conception,' Mary first taught Bernadette to know her smile, this being the most appropriate point of entry into the revelation of her mystery."

"In the smile of the most eminent of all creatures, looking down on us, is reflected our dignity as children of God, that dignity which never abandons the sick person," the Pope said. " This smile, a true reflection of God’s tenderness, is the source of an invincible hope."

Benedict XVI continued: "The endurance of suffering can upset life’s most stable equilibrium, it can shake the firmest foundations of confidence, and sometimes even leads people to despair of the meaning and value of life.

"There are struggles that we cannot sustain alone, without the help of divine grace. When speech can no longer find the right words, the need arises for a loving presence: We seek then the closeness not only of those who share the same blood or are linked to us by friendship, but also the closeness of those who are intimately bound to us by faith."


"I would like to say, humbly," the Pope proposed, "to those who suffer and to those who struggle and are tempted to turn their backs on life: Turn toward Mary!

"Within the smile of the Virgin lies mysteriously hidden the strength to fight against sickness, in support of life. With her, equally, is found the grace to accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God.

"In the very simple manifestation of tenderness that we call a smile, we grasp that our sole wealth is the love God bears us, which passes through the heart of her who became our Mother."

"To seek this smile," he said, "is first of all to have grasped the gratuitousness of love; it is also to be able to elicit this smile through our efforts to live according to the word of her Beloved Son, just as a child seeks to elicit its mother’s smile by doing what pleases her."

Fr. Benedict Groeschel Speaks to Youth

Fr. Benedict speaks to the young people at Youth 2000 event. He speaks of the universal cry to know God.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Music video: Mighty to Save!

This is a beautiful song from Hillsong Australia:
Everyone needs compassion
A love that's never failing
Let mercy fall on me
Everyone needs forgiveness
A kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations
He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave
So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
Fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything i believe in
Now i surrender
Shine your light and let the whole world see
We're singing for the glory of the risen King...Jesus

John McCain: A Man in the Arena

Monday, September 15, 2008

Incredible but true: Our Lady of Las Lajas!

Another fantastic miracle story that I heard about from the Columbian Salesians that I met when I was in Quito is Our Lady of Las Lajas. This story is really miraculous! Some of it might remind you of Our Lady of Guadalupe, but Las Lajas is a lesser known miracle. The Feast of Our Lady of Las Lajas is on September 16.

Historians and scientists are at a loss to explain this fabulous image on the wall of a Colombian cave. It may forever remain a mystery.

Back in the eighteenth century, María Mueses de Quiñones, a local woman from the village of Potosi, Colombia, often walked the six miles between her village and the neighbouring one of Ipiales. One day in 1754 as she was making the journey, she approached the place called Las Lajas (the Rocks), where the trail passes through a deep gorge of the Guaitara River. Maria never liked this part of the trail because there were rumours a cave in the Lajas was haunted. Superstitions remained among the converted Christian Indians.

Maria was carrying her daughter Rosa, a deaf-mute, on her back. And by the time she had climbed to the Lajas she was weary and sat on a rock to rest. The child got down from her back to play. Next thing Rosa was by the cave shouting: “Mommy, there is a woman in here with a boy in her arms!” Maria became very frightened. This was the first time she had ever heard her daughter speak! She didn't see the figures the girl was talking about, nor did she want to. She grabbed the child and ran on to Ipiales.

When she told what happened nobody took her seriously at first. However, as the news spread some asked if maybe it was true. After all, the child was now able to speak. A few days later the child Rosa disappeared from home. After looking everywhere the anguished Maria guessed it: her daughter must have gone to the cave. She often said that the woman was calling her. Maria ran to Las Lajas to find her daughter kneeling in front of a splendid woman and playing affectionately with a child who had come down from His mother’s arms to let the girl enjoy His divine tenderness. Maria fell to her knees before this beautiful spectacle; she had seen the Blessed Virgin.

Fearful of ridicule, Maria kept quiet about the event. But frequently she and Rosa went to the cave to place wild flowers and candles in the cracks of the rocks.
The months went by, with María and Rosa keeping their secret. Until one day the girl fell gravely ill and died. A distraught Maria decided to take her daughter’s body to the Lajas to ask the Lady to restore Rosa to life.

Pressed by the sadness of Maria’s unrelenting supplications, the Blessed Virgin obtained Rosa’s resurrection from Her Divine Son. Overflowing with joy, Maria went home. It didn’t take long for a crowd to gather. Early next morning everyone went to Las Lajas, each wanting to check the details for themselves.

That was when the marvellous picture of Our Lady on the wall of the grotto was discovered. Maria Muese de Quinones could not recall noticing it until then. The child Jesus is in Our Lady’s arms. On one side of Our Lady is Saint Francis; on the other is Saint Dominic. Her delicate and regal features are those of a Latin American, perhaps an Indian. Her abundant black hair covers her like a mantle (The two-dimensional crown is metal and was added by devotees much later on). Her eyes sparkle with a pure and friendly joy. She looks about fourteen years old. The indians had no doubt: this was their queen.

As devotion to the image grew, a good road replaced the old trail. In the early 20th century a tasteful gothic church was built over the cave.
But who put this magnificent image there? The author has never been identified! Scoffers say the wily Dominicans sneaked in a good artist, and the gullible indians are still being fooled.

But tests done when the church was built show how stupendous this image actually is. Geologists from Germany bored core samples from several spots in the image. There is no paint, no dye, nor any other pigment on the surface of the rock. The colours are the colours of the rock itself. Even more incredible, the rock is perfectly coloured to a depth of several feet!

So the mystery remains unsolved. Did angels do it? Or did God Himself do it at the dawn of creation, when he contemplated the most excellent of all His creatures? The One whom He would make Queen of Heaven and Earth. And to whose maternal care the future nation of Colombia would be entrusted.

To learn more about Our Lady of Las Lajas click here.

Prayer Need: Galveston

We need to continue to pray for all the victims of the Hurricanes. Let's pray in a special way for all the victims on the Texas coast these days. The following story comes from Alertnet.
GALVESTON, Texas, Sept 14 (Reuters) - The bridge to Galveston Island is littered with yachts, kitchen tables and a large drowned dog. One couple flees to the Texas mainland on foot, their belongings stuffed into a baby stroller.

Despite living in a place known for a legendary hurricane in 1900 that killed 8,000 people, residents of Galveston are stunned by what Hurricane Ike has done to their lives.

Shunta Celestine rode out the storm with her three children in a brick home that she thought would survive Ike's fury when it made landfall early on Saturday.

It did hold but she lost her two cars and most everything inside the home.

"The water filled up so fast, everyone tried to go to higher ground, but it seemed the higher you got, the higher the water went," said Celestine as tears ran down her face.

"It was hell. We climbed on to the table, deep freezers, anything we could get on and then we prayed."

Block after block of the historic coastal community are flooded with a putrid mix of sewage and sea water.

Andrew Rourke, a firefighter, was on the island during the storm, got off duty at dawn on Sunday and came by his father's house to see how it fared.

"I expected to find some debris in the yard," said Rourke. "But this house is gone."

"The pictures are the only thing we can save, the rest is under water."

It is not known how many of the beach city's 60,000 residents ignored the mandatory evacuation order but thousands are believed to have stayed behind.

Many harked back to their luck in 2005 when Hurricane Rita prompted a large-scale evacuation but spared Galveston, making landfall 100 miles (160 km) to the east.

After Ike, some 2,000 residents have asked to be evacuated from the island, state officials said.

Celestine does not have food or water or power and the children walk around the water-soaked living room in a daze.

Her neighbor Brittney Majors came to the rescue with emergency meals and water. She moved to Galveston just a few months ago and works at Whataburger, a fast-food chain.

"Everything I had is gone," Majors said. "I have the clothes on my back, shoes on my feet. That's what I've got." (Writing by Mary Milliken; Editing by John O'Callaghan)

Pope Benedict in Paris and Lourdes


Our Father/Te Deum~Pope Benedict, Paris Vespers 2008 sept.12

September 12 – 15, the Holy Father Benedict XVI will make an Apostolic Journey to France, on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes. The first two days, September 12-13, the Pope will spend in Paris, and on the afternoon of the 13th, he will travel to Lourdes, where he will remain until September 15.

To learn more about the Holy Father's apostolic visit to France please click here.
Below you will find the Homily of Pope Benedict for the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross from Sunday, September 14 at Lourdes.