Monday, November 30, 2009

Steve Young on Brees vs Brady

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Muppets: Bohemian Rhapsody

Hat tip to Deacon Greg on this one! Awesome!

Salesian Cardinal Zen clarifies Pope's message to Chinese Catholics

Our Salesian Cardinal Zen is speaking out once again about the Church in China.

Saints vs Pats on Monday Night Football: Predictions

You were made for more!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Salesian Rector Major elected as President of the Union of Superiors General

Fr. Pascual Chavez has been confirmed as president of the Union of Superiors General (USG) for the next three years (2009-2012).

The election took place during the general assembly of the USG on November 27 at the Salesianum in Rome, following the 74th Biannual Assembly, November 26-27. The almost unanimous vote reflected esteem and appreciation for the work undertaken by Fr. Chavez in recent years.

Fr. Chavez was elected president of the USG for the first time on November 24, 2006.

The election of the vice president and other members of the USG Council followed.

These are the members of the new council:

President: Pascual Chavez Villanueva (Salesians of Don Bosco)
Vice President: Joseph Maria Abella Batlle (Claretians)
Thomas Handgraetiner (Canons Regular of Prémontré - Norbertines)
Bruno Marin (Benedictines of Subiaco)
José Rodriguez Carballo (Order of Friars Minor)
Adolfo Nicolas (Society of Jesus)
Rino Benzoni (Xaverians)
Javier Alvarez-Ossorio (Congregation of the Sacred Hearts – Picpus)
José Ornelas Carvalho (Priests of the Sacred Heart - Dehonians)
Mario Aldegani (Murialdo Josephites)
Kieran O’Reilly (Society of African Mission)
Emili Turù (Marist Brothers)

The Miraculous Medal and St. Catherine Labouré

The Miraculous Medal, also known as the Medal of the Immaculate Conception, is a medal created by Saint Catherine Labouré in response to a request from the Blessed Virgin Mary.

St. Catherine was born on May 2, 1806 and at an early age she entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in Paris, France. She stated that on the night of July 18, 1830 she awoke upon hearing a voice of a child calling her to the sisters' chapel (located in the Rue du Bac, Paris), where she heard the Blessed Virgin Mary say to her, “God wishes to charge you with a mission. You will be contradicted, but do not fear; you will have the grace to do what is necessary. Tell your spiritual director all that passes within you. Times are evil in France and in the world.”

The chapel in which Saint Catherine experienced her visions is located at the mother house of the Daughters of Charity in Paris. The bodies of Saint Catherine Labouré and Saint Louise de Marillac, a co-founder of the Daughters of Charity, are preserved in the chapel, which continues to receive daily visits from Catholic pilgrims today.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Praying for Priests

I came across this at Spirit Daily. It originally came from the Catholic Exchange site:

One of the decisive moments in the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux was when she realized that priests could sin. As a fourteen-year-old girl, Thérèse had a great desire to enter the Carmelite monastery at Lisieux where several of her sisters were already nuns. The local bishop, despite her pleadings, was cautious about allowing such a young girl to enter religious life. Nevertheless, he encouraged her to take part in a pilgrimage to Rome to strengthen her vocation.
Near the end of her life, Thérèse reflected on the importance of this pilgrimage: “Ah! what a trip that was!” she wrote in the memoir that was later published as The Story of a Soul . “It taught me more than long years of studies; it showed me the vanity of everything that happens and that everything is affliction of spirit under the sun.” The trip also gave her a new sense of the continuity of the Church: “I trod the same soil as did the holy apostles, the soil bedewed with the blood of martyrs. And my soul grew through contact with holy things.”

Mission: Pray for Priests
The most important result of this trip, however, was the clarity that it gave St. Thérèse about the purpose of her vocation. Despite her desire to become a Carmelite, before the trip to Rome Thérèse did not understand why St. Teresa had established a special mission for Carmelites nuns to pray for priests. “Having never lived close to [priests], I was not able to understand the principle aim of the Reform of Carmel. To pray for sinners attracted me, but to pray for the souls of priests whom I believed to be as pure as crystal seemed puzzling to me.” She now came to understand the humanity of priests: “I lived in the company of many saintly priests for a month and I learned that, though their dignity raises them above the angels, they are nevertheless weak and fragile men.”

St. Thérèse did not despair upon discovering this aspect of the priesthood, but rather began to understand the importance of praying for priests. If even holy priests “show in their conduct their extreme need for prayers,” she wrote, “what is to be said of those who are tepid?” As Thérèse eventually came to understand the vocation of her community, “the sole purpose of our prayers and sacrifices is to be the apostle of the apostles.”

Becoming Other Christs
Ordination to the priesthood, although it bestows a special grace of the Holy Spirit that configures the priest to Christ, does not remove the human defects that a man possess before ordination. When exercising ministry in the Church, a priest acts in the power and place of the person of Christ himself, and his personal unworthiness or even sinfulness does not prevent Christ from acting in the sacraments. Nevertheless, as the Catechism forthrightly admits, “in many other acts the minister leaves human traces that are not always signs of fidelity to the Gospel and consequently can harm the apostolic fruitfulness of the Church” (CCC 1550).

“I understood my vocation in Italy and that’s not going too far in search of such useful knowledge,” St. Thérèse wrote. Thanks to the revelations of recent years, one no longer needs to travel to Italy to perceive the human weaknesses of priests. Our response to this, however, should not be cynicism or despair, but, like St. Thérèse, we should develop a renewed awareness of the need to pray for priests. In this Year of the Priest, we should commit ourselves to praying for priests, seminarians, and the men whom God is calling to His service.

A Christmas Wish

Thanks to Patrice at Rural Revolution for this great poem!

Christmas Wish

’Twas the month before Christmas
When all through our land,
Not a Christian was praying
Nor taking a stand.
See the PC Police had taken away,
The reason for Christmas - no one could say.
The children were told by their schools not to sing,
About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.
It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say
December 25th is just a ‘Holiday.’
Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit
Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!
CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod
Something was changing, something quite odd!
Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa
In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.
As Targets were hanging their trees upside down
At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.
At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears
You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.
Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty
Are words that were used to intimidate me.
Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen
On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton!
At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter
To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.
And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith
Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace
The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded
The reason for the season, stopped before it started.
So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'
Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.
Choose your words carefully, choose what you say
Not Happy Holiday!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Don Bosco is coming to the US!

The Friend of the young and the poor is coming to the US and the world! The urn of Don Bosco's relic is on pilgrimage around the world. Here is the schedule for DB's relic tour in our provinces in the USA:

US West: Saturday, Sept. 11 -- Tuesday, Sept. 14 : in northern California
Wednesday, Sept. 15 -- Sunday, Sept. 19: in southern California

US East: Monday, Sept. 20 -- Sunday, Sept. 26: in southern states
Tuesday, Sept. 28 - Sunday, Oct. 3: in northern states

More details will follow as they become available!

The Pledge of Allegiance by Red Skelton

Happy Thanksgiving and God bless America!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rich Mullins Sharing

A Holy Stocking Stuffer

Are you looking for stocking stuffers for Christmas yet? Well here is a good suggestion from the Benedictine Sisters. The following comes from the CNA:

A community of Benedictine sisters living in the Diocese of Kansas City - St. Joseph have released a Christmas CD titled “Christmas at Ephesus.” Proceeds from their new CD, comprised of traditional carols as well as the sisters' compositions, will go toward the building of a new monastery. The Benedictines of Mary Queen of Apostles are still new to the Kansas City Catholic community, invited by Bishop Robert W. Finn in 2006. A traditional monastic community of women who desire to emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary by living in quiet seclusion at the Priory of Our Lady of Ephesus, they are a joyful group who sing while at work, at prayer or at play.

Last year the sisters recorded their first CD, “Echoes of Ephesus,” described by the prioress, Mother Therese McNamara, as a window into the life of the community. “People didn’t know about us,” she said. “But since that CD, they’ve been bringing us their prayer requests, for priests and for vocations, and priests have been coming to us for retreats.”

The sisters recently broke ground for a new monastery near Gower, Missouri. The proceeds from the Christmas CD will go toward that building plan.

The sisters have been encouraged by the success of the CD released last year. Nearly 60,000 copies were sold or given out. Their music and charism caught the attention of Ian Byrne, a Kansas City businessman and lead singer for the local Irish band The Elders. Through Byrne, the sisters connected with Steve Phillips, a recording engineer and musician with the band. With his assistance, the CD was recorded at Conception Abbey, where the acoustics are just right. Production costs were reduced by packaging the discs in cardboard cases.

Mother Therese is pleased with the results. “A lot of the arrangements are our own,” she said. “We recorded a fresh translation of Silent Night from the original German. One of the sisters did the translation and another set it to music. The church’s organ was broken so composer Franz Gruber played the accompaniment for Stille Nacht on his guitar.”

Some of the songs are familiar carols; others are original compositions by the sisters. Almost every day, one of the sisters is inspired to write a song, Mother Therese said. “We’re not professionals,” she said. “We just love to sing.”

The CDs, Christmas at Ephesus and Echoes of Ephesus, can be purchased for $20 online at the community’s website:

You can order the CD here.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fr. Robert Barron on the movie "2012"

Catholic youth shut down Kansas City, jump-start it with faith

From the CNA:

From November 19-21, 21,000 teens and 3,000 adult chaperones descended on Kansas City for the National Catholic Youth Conference (NCYC), but instead of the usual damage, the teens left a wake of grace that impacted the city.

According to the Catholic Key, the NCYC, whose theme this year was “Christ Reigns,” brought Catholic youth together for three days of prayer, adoration, praise and worship, fellowship, talks, Mass, and dancing. Teens came from all across the continental United States as well as Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

“One of the things that makes the conference truly unique,” MC of the conference Steve Angrisano told CNA, “is, other than going to World Youth Day, I don't think there's an experience you can have that really conveys to a young person how big the Church really is.”

“You have all these groups that come from places where their entire youth group is eight people and they are in an arena filled with young people who are Catholic and who believe what they believe and stand up for what they believe,” he continued. “I think it truly is one of the most encouraging things that they can see. They may sometimes feel alone, but they are not alone.”

Conference organizers were faced with a problem when registration exceeded the capacity of the Sprint Center, where all the general sessions were going to be held. The organizers scrambled to find a “satellite” location so that they wouldn't have to turn anyone away.

The solution was the grand ballroom of the H. Roe Bartle Convention Center, which was linked to the Sprint Center “big screen, high-definition, closed-circuit television. It worked so well that the masters of ceremonies at each site, musicians Steve Agrisano at Sprint and Jesse Manibussan at Bartle, were able to sing duets together across downtown Kansas City,” reports Kansas City's Catholic Key.

“I think one of the most unique experiences was doing something like that,” said Angrisano. “We could talk to each other and even sing the song together from 10 blocks away, that was a real interesting experience.”

To prevent any of the teens from feeling like second class citizens, groups were rotated between sites so that no one was relegated to the Bartle ballroom for more than one session. Bennett Coughlan, a conference participant from the Diocese of Winona, Minn. whose group was in the ballroom for the opening session told the Catholic Key, “I thought they were treating us like overflow, and I didn’t like that,” he said. “But we started a conga line, and it went on so long. After we got started, Jesse made it so much fun.”

The NCYC also featured a 22,000 person Eucharistic Procession along the ten blocks from the Sprint Center to the Kansas City Convention Center led by Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn.

“I could have never dreamed how devoted the kids were. They were praying the rosary and singing songs as they walked,” said Angrisano. “It was a real statement. It wasn't just a stroll through the neighborhood. We were there to say “Christ Reigns,” which was the theme of the conference. And I think I really saw that in the way they all lived it.”

If you think you would like to give your life completely to the service of the Church and the young please click here.

Susan Boyle: I Dreamed A Dream

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Song for Karol

Pope Benedict: Christ the King brings peace and defeats the 'dominion of death’

The following comes from the CNA:

In his message on the Feast of Christ the King to the tens of thousands of people gathered on St Peter's Square, Pope Benedict XVI explained that the "power" of Christ is different from that of "the great of this world." Choosing Christ the King, he said, does not guarantee success, but peace and joy.

"Choosing Christ does not guarantee success according to the criteria of today’s world, but ensures that peace and joy that only He can give,” Pope Benedict added. “This is shown, in every age, by the experience of many men and women who, in Christ's name, in the name of truth and justice, have been able to resist the lure of earthly powers, with their different forms, until their fidelity was sealed with martyrdom.”

The Feast of Christ the King, he continued, is "a celebration of relatively recent introduction, but it has deep biblical and theological roots."

"It begins with the expression ‘King of the Jews' arriving then to that of ‘universal King,’ Lord of the cosmos and of history, so far beyond the expectation of the same Jewish people."

Benedict XVI expounded on the regal power of Jesus: “It is not that of the kings and great of this world, it is the divine power to give eternal life to free us from evil, to defeat the dominion of death. It is the power of love, which knows how to derive good from evil, soften a hardened heart, bring peace to the bitterest conflict, turn the thickest darkness into hope.”

“This kingdom of grace cannot impose anything, and always respects our freedom,” he added. “Christ came to 'bear witness to the truth', as stated before Pilate. Whoever receives his testimony, comes under his ‘banner,’ according to an image that was dear to St. Ignatius of Loyola.”

“Choosing Christ,” the Pope concluded, “does not guarantee success according to the criteria of this world, but ensures that peace and joy that only He can give."

After the Angelus, the Holy Father commemorated the beatification in Nazareth on Sunday of Sr. Marie-Alphonsine Danil Ghattas, in the presence of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Archbishop Fouad Twal, and the prefect for the Congregation of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato.

Sr. Marie-Alphonsine was born in Jerusalem in 1843 into a Christian family, which included nineteen children. “She discovered her vocation to religious life early on, and passionately pursued it despite initial difficulties raised by her family,” the Pontiff said.

“To her goes the credit of founding a congregation formed only of local women, with the aim of religious education, to overcome illiteracy and raise the conditions of women of that time in the land where Jesus exalts his dignity. The Central point of this new spirituality and intense devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the beacon of life wholly consecrated to God was the Holy Rosary, her constant prayer, her lifeline, her source of grace.”

“The beatification of this most significant female figure is of particular comfort to the Catholic community in the Holy Land and is an invitation to trust always, with firm hope, in Divine Providence and the maternal protection of Mary,” Pope Benedict concluded.

Also, Benedict XVI recalled yesterday’s “Pro Orantibus” Day, dedicated to cloistered religious communities, on the day of Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple.

"I welcome the chance,” he added, “to extend my cordial greetings to them and renew my invitation to all to support them in their needs. I am also glad, on this occasion to publicly thank the nuns who have in turn occupied the small monastery here in the Vatican: the Poor Clares, Carmelites, Benedictines and, recently, the Visitation sisters. Your prayer, dear sisters, is most valuable to my ministry."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

More Photos of Quito, Ecuador

I am finishing up my 3 weeks here in Quito at the Salesian Center for Ongoing Formation. It has been a wonderful experience of community (with Salesians from 11 different countries participating) and study of our beloved founder Don Bosco!

This is a photo of Mother Mariana de Jesus and Our Lady of Good Success taken in the Monestery of the Conception. This active Monastery of Conceptionist Sisters is the oldest in Quito and opened in 1575.

One of the side altars in the Conception Monastery. I took many other shots here but most of them didn't come out!

The Guards outside the Presidential Palace.

La Compania Church. This is the Jesuit Church of Quito and is a real masterpiece.

Sights in the streets of Quito.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

David Crowder Band: Here is Our King!

Praying for priests at St. Mary Major

This is one of the five most important basilicas in Rome: St. Mary Major, where the first Thursday of every month is dedicated to a very special event.

During this Year for Priests, many people gather here to pray so that priests can be holy.

So it is very important that we all join together to pray for our priests, pray for each and every one of them, then they may be holy as God wants.

It is important to pray for vocations, because as the Cure of Ars says, the vocation to the priesthood is the most exciting adventure that can touch a man on earth ".

The Vatican organized this vigil and welcomed all to attend.

Pope Benedict XVI summoned The Year for Priests as a tribute to the dedication of the priests. Its patron is the Cure of Ars.

Since 2000 the number of priests has risen by 1%.

The number of new priests has grown particularly in Africa and Asia, perhaps thanks to vigils like these.

Don Bosco and Cardinal Bertone

Cardinal Bertone, Secretary of State and Salesian of Don Bosco gives his vocation story in the story below and in the video linked below:

Like many priests, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertones formation was enriched by the love for the youth which characterizes Salesian institutes and oratories. In this interview, Cardinal Bertone affectionately recalls those who accompanied him along the path of his vocational discernment.Cardinal Bertone: In a special way, the Salesian educators, and particularly at the beginning, the master of novices. I lengthened the novitiate four months because I was so young. Theoretically back then, the novitiate began at age 15 and ended at 16, with the first profession. I still hadn't turned 15 when I entered on August 16th, 1949, and therefore, I extended the novitiate until I turned 16 in December of 1950. That's when I made my religious profession. Afterward, the Salesians and excellent confessors accompanied me.I should mention that at the beginning I asked advice regarding this decision from a confessor -- an 84-year-old priest -- who heard confessions behind the main altar of the Basilica of Mary, Help of Christians, and to whom I regularly went to confession. He gave me his counsel. He told me: "Look, this is a very large task. You will have to prepare yourself very well. But remember that I have been a priest for 60 years and I have never regretted it." So, encouraged by this testimony too, I followed this path, though in visiting home, I had a bit of a problem, a bit of nostalgia. But my parents told me: "Finish the whole testing period and the study program, because it was you who made this decision. And after that, you can make a more mature choice." And at the end, I made the decision to continue to priestly ordination, which happened July 1st, 1960.Along this path, what was the role of the Salesians' founder, Don Bosco?Cardinal Bertone: Certainly Don Bosco was an extraordinary model of a priest, and his followers, his sons, who were my professors and educators, represented him very well. They offered me beautiful testimonies that sparked in me the desire to follow this path and encouraged me in it. In my life, Don Bosco has always been present. He has guided me in my growth toward the priesthood and afterward as a priest, in the missions that I have had as a Salesian, from being major rector of the Pontifical Salesian University, here in Rome, and formator of many candidates to the priesthood -- very many.Later on he has guided me in my life as a bishop: first as the archbishop of Vercelli and then in Genova and now, as the secretary of state, as the closest collaborator of the Pope. Don Bosco taught me to be faithful to the Pope, to give my life for the Pope and for the Church, something which I try do with my limits, but with all my strength.

You can watch the video interview here.

22,00 Young Catholics Gather in Kansas City and form huge Eucharistic Procession!

Please pray for the 22,000 young Catholics who are gathered this weekend in Kansas City for the National Catholic Youth Conference! Some of the men in formation from my community are there as well. Let's pray the that the Holy Spirit touches each of these young people's hearts in a special way!

The pictures above is of the Eucharistic Procession formed by the 22,000 young people! Archbishop Naumann led the Procession and the benediction. The keynote was given by Cardinal DeNardo of Houston. Hat tip to The Catholic Key for the photos.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An interview with Fr. Benedict Groeschel

The following was taken from the National Catholic Register:

Father Benedict Groeschel has spent a lifetime evangelizing, preaching, teaching, writing books and reforming religious life.

Recently celebrating 50 years as a priest, the Franciscan Friar of the Renewal shows little sign of slowing down, in spite of a serious car accident several years ago and a minor stroke earlier this year. He still appears live on EWTN each Sunday evening and is getting ready to release yet another book.

In a wide-ranging interview with Register correspondent Celeste Behe Oct. 25, Father Benedict, 76, discussed growing up, discovering his vocation and the highlights of his many years in religious life.

You celebrated your first Mass at your home parish of St. Aloysius in Caldwell, N.J. Today, 50 years later, you returned to St. Aloysius to celebrate Mass once again. What were your thoughts upon entering the church?

I went to live at St. Aloysius in 1933 with my family; I’m the oldest of six children. In that church, most of my brothers and sisters were baptized. We all made our confirmation there; I was ordained and said my first Mass there; my parents and my brother were buried from that church. It’s so beautiful to have one’s family united in a parish.

You and your family had strong ties to the parish.

In those days, the parish was the center of social life; it determined who you were. In Jersey City, where I grew up, if someone asked where you were from, you told him the name of your parish. Most of the time, the churches were called by their popular names, like St. Al’s or St. Pete’s or OLPH. And if you lived in Brooklyn, you weren’t from New York, you were from Sacred Heart. I was in New York working at Children’s Village, an agency for homeless and delinquent kids. There I met a fellow from Jersey City who was a Baptist. I asked him, “Where are you from?” He said, “St. Mary’s.” I said, “You, too?” That was his identity.

When did you feel that you had a vocation to the priesthood?

I knew that I was supposed to be a priest when I was 7 years old. I was somewhat disappointed because I wanted to be a fireman. Near our house in Jersey City was the firehouse with the beautiful engines and the firemen who would give the kids candy and nuts. We used to listen for an alarm so that we could watch the firemen sliding down the poles.

Then in second grade I had a wonderful teacher, Sister Theresa. She would go out every day to bring food to a poor old woman who lived in a tenement. One day I went up the fire escape and looked in the old lady’s window. Now, the only movie I had seen was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which you may recall has a very awful witch in it. So I looked in the window, and there was the witch, about six inches away from me. I jumped off the milk box that I’d been standing on and ran up the street into the Church of Our Lady of Victory, praying because I had seen a witch. While I was praying, something told me to be a priest. It was an extremely clear thought that did not come from myself. It was like the “something” that clicks in the mind of an inventor and suddenly the idea is there. So I came out of the church knowing that I would be a priest, but I didn’t tell anybody.

You speak fondly of the Dominican Sisters of Caldwell who taught you in school. Did they encourage you in your vocation?

Sister Consolata, who taught me in the third grade, gave me a holy card and wrote on the back “ora pro me.” My dad said, “Why did she write it in Latin?” I asked Sister Consolata, and she said, “Because you’re going to be a priest.” So there it was: Sister blew my cover!

These very good sisters gave me a wonderful example of Christian life and faith. Sister Theresa had taken care of the poor woman, so I also wanted to take care of poor people. And what’s the most obvious thing to do but become a priest? So I started reading about being a friar. I decided to be a Capuchin friar, and for many years, I was chaplain of Children’s Village.

The Dominican Sisters were excellent teachers. I am heartbroken, just heartbroken that they are gone. Recently, I met three of my classmates. We talked about where to have dinner, and we decided to have it at the motherhouse. We had a picnic supper because no one lives at the motherhouse anymore. It’s very sad.

What did your family have to say when they learned that you were going to be a priest?

My family always knew that I would be a priest, and they had always supported me. But I still couldn’t help thinking, “Who wants to be a priest? I want to be a fireman!” And it didn’t help that the parish priest’s house looked more than a little foreboding.

You became a Capuchin in 1951, but in 1987 you and seven other Capuchins left to start the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. What led you to make that move?

We felt that the Capuchins needed to have a reform. Right now, the Capuchins are varied in different areas; in some places, we would be quite at peace with them. Generally, they are in the area of getting life back together. You see, the whole Church is moving toward a Catholicism that is more authentic, more observant, more enthusiastic, and theologically more orthodox. I profoundly disagreed with the rather laissez-faire, casual kind of liturgy and Catholicism. There are good people on that side, and I disagree with them and they disagree with me. But I have to tell you this: They’re all getting old. I have never found one person under the age of 32 who agrees with their position. Very interesting!

For the rest of the interview please click here.

St. Francis de Sales on Discerning a Vocation

"To know whether God will have a person become a religious it is not to be expected that God Himself should speak, or send an angel from heaven to signify His will. It is not necessary that ten or twelve confessors should examine whether the vocation is to be followed. But it is necessary to correspond with the first movement of the inspiration, and to cultivate it, and then not to grow weary if disgust or coldness should come on. If a person acts thus, God will not fail to make all succeed to His glory. Nor ought we to care much from what quarter the first movement comes. The Lord has many ways of calling His servants."
- St. Francis De Sales

If you would like to consider a Salesian Vocation as a Brother or Priest please click here!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

St. Dominic Savio and the Conversion of England

With all of the talk of Anglicans seeking to join the Catholic Church I was reminded of the vision and prayer of St. Dominic Savio. Maybe we are seeing the darkness disappear as Dominic foretold it? In 1857 St. John Bosco related to Blessed Pius IX a vision of St. Dominic Savio:

'One morning, while I was doing my thanksgiving after Holy Communion, I was taken by a strong distraction. It seemed that I was on a very vast flat land surface, full of people surrounded by thick darkness. They were walking, but did so as though they had lost their way and could not see where they set their feet. Someone beside me said, "This region is England."

'Then I saw the Supreme Pontiff, Pius IX. He was dressed in a majestic fashion, carrying in his hands a splendorous light, and advancing amidst the multitude of people. As He advanced, the darkness gradually disappeared and the people were bathed with so much light that it seemed noon time.

'The friend said, "This light is the Catholic Religion, which must illuminate England." '

Pius IX said to Don Bosco: "This narration confirms in me my determination to work without rest in favor of England, which is already the object of all my solicitudes."

(From the Biographical Memiors of St. John Bosco)

Visit Rome Virtually!

How about a virtual tour of Rome? Take one by clicking here!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI: Protect the dignity of childhood

Following today's general audience, Benedict XVI appealed to the international community to respect the rights of children around the globe.

The Holy Father recalled that November 20 marks the United Nations Day of Prayer and Action for Children, saying, “My thoughts go to all the children of the world, especially those who live in difficult conditions, and suffer because of violence, abuse, sickness, war or hunger.”

“At the same time,” he continued, “I make an appeal to the international community to increase its efforts to offer an adequate response to the dramatic problems of infancy. May a generous commitment on everyone's part not be lacking so that the rights of children may be recognized and their dignity given ever greater respect."

Carmelite Monk Coffee and a Wyoming Monastery

Hat tip to New Advent on this story of the Carmelites. These monks make great coffee and it is helping them to build a monastery in Wyoming! Here is the story from The Boston Piot:

A small Carmelite monastery in Clark, Wyo., has seen its coffee sales take off in the last couple of years, and the growing awareness of its coffee business has brought an added benefit to the community -- more members.

"In the past two years, the monks themselves have grown from six to 15 monks and all the new monks are under 25, some right out of high school," said Susie George, a neighbor of the monks who helped with marketing and computer work for the coffee business, in a letter e-mailed to Catholic News Service.

One young man from Australia said he has found his place in life there.

Carmelite Brother Paul Marie told CNS in a Nov. 4 phone interview that he was searching for more in life than just "conforming to society" and the Wyoming religious order has provided that for him.

Brother Paul said he discovered the monastery by searching for religious orders online but was initially attracted to the Carmelite order because of the joy and spiritual aspect of the community and the fact that some of his favorite saints -- including St. John of the Cross and St. Therese -- were Carmelites.

He also found he has a place in the cloistered monks' coffee business.

Brother Paul started his work in packaging and then helped in operations, shipping the coffee products and ordering coffee beans. They call their product Mystic Monk Coffee.

Now he heads up the team, thanks "to his previous business experience -- he managed an electronics department store at the age of 17," Carmelite Brother Elias told CNS by e-mail.

One of the most enjoyable aspects of the job is "working with a lot of good monks," said Brother Paul.

Originally from Australia, he said tea is much more popular than coffee in his home country, but he has grown to love coffee. His favorite type of Mystic Monk Coffee is what the monastery calls Midnight Vigils Blend, with the name based on the monk's midnight prayers.

While Wyoming's climate isn't made for growing coffee, the monks import coffee beans from many of the world's coffee-growing regions, frequently blending them to get just the right taste and aroma.

The monks have a new Christmas blend. Brother Paul said it is their "most complicated blend," using eight different kinds of beans, each roasted at different temperatures.

Because business is growing, "we have installed a new coffee roaster and had to move our packaging operation into our monastery garage," Brother Elias said.

Orders are coming in from all over, he added. Some customers live in Malta, Sweden, New Zealand, Guam and Israel.

According to George, the monastery's neighbor, the Carmelite monks' coffee business has blessed the Clark community by providing employment, including giving a job to a young man who "came all the way from Missouri to be around the monastery and the monks realized that he could use a good steady job to help him figure things out."

But she pointed to an "unexpected blessing." "My daughter, Bridgett, who was looking for a husband for some time, found the man of her dreams at the monastery -- a young man who came to work for the monastery ... to find direction in life," George added.

"The example of (the monks') lives dedicated to prayer and serving God cannot help but affect all who come into contact with them," she said.

More information about the Wyoming monastery and its Mystic Monk Coffee is available at the Web site

Saint of the day: Rose Philippine Duchesne

Today we remember a great saint who failed at most things... except holiness! The following is from the Patron Saints Index:

Born to family with wealth and political connections; her father, Pierre Francois Duchesne, was a lawyer, businessman, and prominent civic leader in Grenoble, and her mother, Rose Perier, was a member of a leading family from the Dauphine region. From age eight she had a desire to evangelize in the Americas, sparked by hearing a Jesuit missionary speak of his work there. She received a basic education at home from tutors, and religious education from her mother. Educated from age 12 at the convent of the Visitation nuns in Grenoble, she joined them in 1788 at age 19 without the permission or knowledge of her family. Initially they were violently opposed to her choice, but finally gave in.

Religious communities were outlawed during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution, and her convent was closed in 1792. She spent the next ten years living as a laywoman again, but still managed to act like a good member of her Order. She established a school for poor children, provided care for the sick, and hid priests from Revolutionaries. When the Terror ended, she reclaimed her convent and tried to reestablish it with a group of sisters she had maintained in Grenoble. However, most were long gone, and in 1804 the group was incorporated into the Society of the Sacred Heart under Saint Madeline Sophie Barat. They then reopened the convent of Sainte-Marie-d'en-Haut as the second house of Sacred Heart nuns. Rose became a postulant in December 1804, and made her final vows in 1805.

In 1815 Mother Duschene was assigned to found a Sacred Heart convent in Paris. On 14 March 1818 at age 49 she and four sisters were sent as missionaries to the Louisiana Territory to establish the Society's presence in America. Diseases contracted during the trip to America nearly killed her, and after she recovered in New Orleans, the trip up the Mississippi nearly killed her again. She established her first mission at Saint Charles, Missouri, a log cabin that was the first free school west of the Mississippi River. She eventually six other houses in America which included schools and orphanages. She ran into some opposition as her teaching methods were based on French models, and her English was terrible; her students, however, received a good education, and her intentions were obviously for their best.

She was ever concerned about the plight of Native Americans, and much of her work was devoted to educating them, caring for their sick, and working against alcohol abuse. Finally able to retire from her administrative duties, Mother Duchesne eangelized the Pottowatomies and in the Rocky Mountains at age 71, and taught young girls of the tribe. This work, however, lasted but a year as she was unable to master the Pottowatomi language. She was known to the tribe as "Woman-Who-Prays-Always".

She spent her last ten years in retirement in a tiny shack at the convent in Saint Charles, Missouri where she lived austerely and in constant prayer.

David Crowder Band: Obsession

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I found this at Fr. Z's site today and wanted to share it. It is a letter to priests from our Salesian Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, SDB:

Made public yesterday was a letter from Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. to priests of the Catholic Church in the People’s Republic of China, for the occasion of the Year for Priests which was called to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the saintly "Cure of Ars".

"In the Letter that the Holy Father addressed to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and lay faithful in the People’s Republic of China on 27 May 2007, a number of guidelines are indicated for the future journey of the Church", explains the cardinal in his letter which was published in Chinese, English and Italian. "Among those I wish to emphasise reconciliation within the Catholic community and a respectful and constructive dialogue with the civil authorities, without renouncing the principles of the Catholic faith. In this regard, despite the persisting difficulties, the information that has come from different parts of China points also to signs of hope".

Cardinal Bertone also expresses the view that, "at a distance of only two years since the publication of the papal Letter, it does not seem that the time has come to make definitive evaluations. Using the words of the great missionary of China, Fr. Matteo Ricci, I believe we can say that it is still more a time of sowing than of reaping".

"There are", the secretary of State tells Chinese clergy, "various practical ways in which you can make your valuable contribution: for example, by visiting Catholic and non-Catholic families frequently; ... increasing efforts to prepare and train good catechists; fostering greater use of charitable services directed especially to children and to sick and old people; ... organising special gatherings where Catholics could invite their non-Catholic relatives and friends in order to become better acquainted with the Catholic Church and Christian faith; distributing Catholic literature to non-Catholics".

"In this Year of the Priesthood, I wish to remind you of the source where you can find the strength to be faithful to your important mission, ... the Eucharist. ... A truly Eucharistic community cannot retreat into itself, as though it were self-sufficient, but must stay in communion with every other Catholic community".

Addressing bishops, Cardinal Bertone says: "Your paternal solicitude will suggest to you, according to the possibilities and conditions of each diocese, suitable initiatives for promoting vocations to the priesthood, such as prayer days and meetings or the opening of places where priests and faithful, especially the young, can come to pray together under the guidance of expert and good priests acting as spiritual directors".

"The Holy Father Benedict XVI realises that ‘in China too, as in the rest of the Church, the need for an adequate ongoing formation of the clergy is emerging. Hence the invitation, addressed to you bishops as leaders of ecclesial communities, to think especially of the young clergy who are increasingly subject to new pastoral challenges, linked to the demands of the task of evangelising a society as complex as that of present-day China’".

"The saintly ‘Cure of Ars’ teaches us that the worship given to the Eucharist outside of Mass is of inestimable value in the life of every priest. This worship is closely joined to the celebration of the Eucharist".

After then highlighting how, "if we are united in the Eucharistic Christ, all of the miseries of the world echo in our hearts to implore the mercy of God", the cardinal secretary of State emphasises the need "to seek reconciliation with concrete gestures. ... In order to obtain it, there is an urgent need to pay attention also to the human formation of all the faithful, priests and sisters included, because the lack of human maturity, self-control and inner harmony is the most frequent source of misunderstandings, lack of co-operation and conflicts within Catholic communities".

The Cause of Pope John Paul II Moves Forward

This is wonderful news! It is good to see positive things out there in the news these days. Let's pray the Beatification of John Paul the Great will follow quickly as well. Here is the story from CNA:

Vatican analyst Andrea Tornielli reported this week that the first step toward the beatification of John Paul II has already been completed. He explained that officials at the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints have given the green light for the proclamation of the late Pope's heroic virtue.

Tornielli added that only the signature of Pope Benedict XVI is needed for the proclamation to become official, noting that it “could come during Christmas, when the prefect for the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, will include it in cardinals’ agenda.” Once the decree is signed, he said, Pope Wojtyla will be given the title of “venerable.”

“Once the decree is officially promulgated,” Tornielli continued, a miracle will then need to be attributed to the intercession of John Paul II.

One case, the curing of a French nun from Parkinson's Disease, could be the miracle recognized by the Congregation.

“The case will first be analyzed by doctors with the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, later by theologians and finally by the cardinals. Only then, after a final and definitive confirmation by Benedict XVI, could Pope Wojtyla be beatified,” Tornielli explained.

Nick Vujicic interviews Bethany Hamilton

Nick Vujicic is a man who was born with no arms or legs. He is a man of great faith and here he interviews a girl who lost her arm in a shark attack a few years ago. Bethany Hamilton is an amazing inspiration too!

Discerning a Religious Vocation

How does one know if they have a vocation? Well, there are lots of things that we can do to better understand God's will for us. The following are some of the basics. This comes from the Archdiocese of New Orleans:

Perhaps you’ve had some deeply personal experience of God. Perhaps you’ve served in the Church and found the experience to be fulfilling. Perhaps you’ve observed a priest or religious who appears genuinely happy in their vocation. You’ve begun to wonder, “Is it possible that God is calling ME to a religious vocation?” How exactly does one “know?”

A vocation is a calling from God. It's highly unlikely that you will ever see any skywriting from God that says, "Be a priest," "Be a sister," or "Be a brother." No! God typically works in quiet and tugs gently at our heart.

Knowing if you have a religious vocation comes from discernment, a process of prayer and probing that gradually uncovers the deepest desires planted by God in a person's heart. The process of discernment varies by individual, but there are several common elements to all discernment:

PRAYER. You have to pray faithfully to discern a religious calling. That means setting aside time each day to sit quietly with God and let the Lord slowly reveal the plan for your life. Attending Mass frequently and attending retreats and days of prayer really help.

EXPLORATION. You have to ask questions, probe, investigate. Tell a priest, sister, or brother that you think you might have a religious vocation. Ask them how they discerned God’s call in their life and if their vocation is fulfilling. Call the Vocation Office and learn about opportunities to visit seminaries, convents, and houses of formation. Attend vocation retreat weekends and join a vocation discernment group. Be proactive as you explore the possibility of a vocation.

GUIDANCE. You will need guidance as you discern a vocation. You will need someone to assess the movement of the Holy Spirit in your life. Ask a priest, sister, or brother to be a spiritual guide. Meet regularly and let the Spirit speak to you through your spiritual guide.

If you do these three things faithfully -- PRAY, EXPLORE and SEEK GUIDANCE -- one day you will "know" in your heart if you are called to a religious vocation.

When the tug at your heart just won't go away, you need to ACT. Contact the Vocation Office at the diocese or religious community. And remember: entering religious formation doesn't mean you will become a priest or religious, but only that you want a much more focused time for discernment.

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Priest's Utter Dependence on God

This I found at the Anchoress site today and I think it is pretty profound. It is the prayer of Fr. Vincent Nagel at his ordination:

They say that at ordination -and it’s not doctrine, but it makes sense to me- when you’re lying on the floor prostrate on the pavement, and the whole congregation and the bishop and the priests are all calling down the Holy Spirit on you, whatever you ask God in the name of his Son our Lord Jesus Christ for the sake of your vocation, he will grant. . . .

I had no doubt about what to ask. I was sick, and it was killing me, but I specifically didn’t ask to get better. I said, “Lord you know that I will forget to follow you and depend on you . You know that I will not turn to you anymore as your child if I feel I can make it on my own. So you have to break my heart always, you have to keep me poor and humble, you have to keep me incapable of anything without you. You have to make it clear to me that I can do nothing without your grace, and that will never be clear to me if I think things are going well. You have to break my heart.”

I understood that my sickness was a part of that. I didn’t want more sickness; what I wanted was utter dependence on God so that I would be true to my priesthood, true to hi

If you are thinking about a vocation to work with young people as a Priest of Brother then please click here!

Don Bosco on Vocations!

The following address was made by Don Bosco to all of his boys on the Feast of Saint Joseph (March 19, 1876) and are recorded in Fr. Arthur Lenti's Don Bosco: History and Spirit, Volume 5. The harvest is great but the laborers are few! That was Don Bosco's theme. Is it any less true today? I invite anyone who might be considering a religious vocation to read these words of Don Bosco prayerfully:

One day our Divine Savior was walking through the countryside in the neighborhood of Samaria. Gazing about him at the plains and valleys and seeing a bountiful harvest, he pointed it out to his apostles that they too might enjoy the sight. Soon, however, they noticed that there was on one to harvest it. Turning to the apostles and certainly alluding to something far more sublime, Jesus said to them, “The harvest is great but laborers are scarce.”

Throughout the centuries the Church and people of all nations have reechoed this anguished cry.

You quickly grasp that by fields and vineyards our Divine Savoir meant the Church and all mankind and that the harvest he had in mind was the souls to be gathered into his granary. How abundant a harvest it is! Millions of souls live on this earth and vast is the work which remains if everyone is to be saved! But the workers are few-not just priests but all those who in one way or another work for the salvation of souls. Certainly, priests are more directly involved in harvesting souls, but they are not alone, nor are there enough of them. All those who work for the salvation of souls are called apostolic laborers, just as all who help in harvesting are themselves harvesters.

See how many kinds of laborers we need to work a field. Some plow, others clear the ground, break up clods, rake the soil, sow seeds and cover them with earth. Then a dozen other tasks have to be done before the wheat is finally harvested and stored.

The Church, too, needs all kinds of laborers, and I mean all kinds. No one can ever say, “My conduct is blameless, but I would never be any good working for God’s greater glory.” Don’t think that way, because everyone can do his share.

The laborers are few. What a blessing it would be to have enough priests for every city, town, village, and hamlet-enough to convert the whole world. Since this is impossible, others must lend a hand. Besides, how are priests to give full time to their ministry if they had to make their own shoes and clothing.

A priest must have help, and I believe I am not wrong in saying that all of you here present-priests, students, artisans, and coadjutors- can become true evangelical laborers in the Lord’s vineyard.

How? In many ways: for instance, you can all pray, and this is the most important element mentioned by Our Savior in remarking on the scarcity of laborers. Therefore pray to the Master of the vineyard to send laborers into His harvest.

Prayer strongly appeals to God’s goodness and as it were compels Him to send workers. So, let us pray for our own country and for foreign lands, for the needs of our own families and cities, for souls still shrouded in the darkness of idolatry, superstition and heresy.

Let us all pray most heartily and insistently to the Lord of the harvest.

Another thing we can all do, extremely helpful and effective, is to give good example. How much good we can accomplish this way-good example in word, encouraging each other to do what is right and offering salutary advice. One person may have doubts about his vocation, another may be set to make an irreparably harmful decision. Timely good advice and encouragement can avert that. Often indeed a single word can mark the difference between choosing the right path or the wrong.

St. Paul used to exhort the faithful to be a “lamp set aflame and burning bright”. Oh that such a light were visible in us, and that everyone were edified by our words and deeds! If we only had that burning love that makes us put everything aside in order to help others! If we only had that perfect chastity which enables us to wipe out all vices, that meekness that conquers all hearts! Then I believe that we would draw the entire world into our nets.

These and a thousand other ways are open to all workers in the Lord’s vineyard, be they priests, clerics or laymen, regardless of age and postion. Everyone, you see, can help gather in the Gospel harvest as long as one is motivated by zeal for God’s honor and the salvation of souls.

Now you may wonder, “What are you driving at, Don Bosco? What are you trying to tell us and why?”

My dear sons, the cry, “The laborers are few,” did not resound only in past eras, but it is more imperative than ever in our present day and age. The harvest allotted to our Congregation grows daily at such a pace that I may well say that we do not know where to begin or how to go about our task. That is why I would like to see all of you very soon working hard in the Lord’s vineyard.

An extraordinary number of requests for new residence schools, houses and mission stations reach us from different parts of Italy, France and foreign countries such as Gibraltar, Algeria, Egypt, Arabia, India, China, Japan, Australia, Argentina, Paraguay, and practically all South America. Everywhere the scarcity of evangelical workers is thoroughly shocking when we consider how much good can be done and remains undone through lack of missionaries. Heartrending news comes to us from Father Cagliero. In Argentina a priest does not ask his penitent “How long has it been since your last confession?” but “Have you ever gone to confession?” Not infrequently men and women between the ages of thirty and forty reply that they have never been to confession. And this is not due to dislike of the Church, but only because there was never an opportunity. So you can imagine how many will find themselves at death’s door, desirous of making their confession and receiving absolution and this consolation cannot be theirs because very rarely is a priest available.

But I do not intend to urge you to journey to such distant lands. Some can, but not all, and there are reasons. First, we have an urgent need right here, and again, not everyone called to the Salesian Congregation is inclined to go so far. But in view of such need and such a lack of evangelical laborers, how could I remain silent? Realizing that you can all in one way or another work in the Lord’s vineyard, how could I keep from revealing my heart’s desire? Yes, really, I would hope to see you all eager to work like so many apostles. This the goal of all my thoughts, cares and efforts. This is the reason for our crash courses, and for the greater opportunities we offer you to don the clerical habit, and for other special study courses.

How was I to remain silent in the face of so many and such ugent needs? How was I to turn a deaf ear to people appealing to us from all sides? I feel that it is God Himself speaking through them. Can I remain silent and not try to increase the ranks of missionaries, when God makes it so clear that He wants to accomplish great things through our Congregation?

Let a strong brotherly love reign among us so that what happened in the Church will also occur in our Congregation. Besides the apostles there were seventy-two disciples, deacons, and other evangelical co-workers; they all worked in harmony with each other, all bound together, firmly united in love. That is why they succeeded, as they did, in changing the face of the earth; so too, with us. Whereever we may be, whatever tasks may be assigned to us, let us strive to save souls, and above all, our own. Do that, and it is enough.

For more information on Salesian Vocations please click here. Maybe God is calling you to assist in the harvest?

Interested in the Salesian Sisters? Then click here!