Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ave Maria by Bing Crosby and the Robert Mitchell Boychoir

Te Deum 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This is Home by Switchfoot

Tim Tebow uses eye black to convey messages of the Good News

As an LSU fan it is easy to pull for the Gators of the SEC and for Tebow in the Sugar Bowl! Hat tip to Spirit Daily on this one. The following comes from the site:

As much as for his signature jump pass, Tim Tebow is known for inscribing Bible verses on the eye black he wears for games.

Tebow’s choice for last season’s BCS championship game against Oklahoma, John 3:16, drew a reported 93 million Google hits that day.

Phil Sandlin/The Associated Press archiveFlorida quarterback Tim Tebow was photographed Nov. 21, 2009, before the game against Florida International in Gainesville, Fla. "I was just putting on my eye black and I realized that if I put a Bible verse on it, somebody might actually get something out of it," Tebow said Monday. "It’s just gained more and more momentum and steam, more and more people have recognized it, and now it’s just got a life of its own."

Tebow is undecided on what he will be wearing in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Friday night, although he’s not lacking for advice from fans.

"I really lean toward something that’s going through my heart," he said. "If there’s something going through my heart that week, or whatever it is, I think people understand more and learn more from it."

Here are the verses Tebow has worn over the past two seasons:


Regular season: Philippians 4:13 — "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

BCS championship game: John 3:16 — "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."


Sept. 5 vs. Charleston Southern: Proverbs 3: 5-6 — "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Sept. 12 vs. Troy: Mark 8:36 — "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?"

Sept. 19 vs. Tennessee: Romans 8:28 — "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

Sept. 26 at Kentucky: Isaiah 40:31 — "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."

Oct. 10 at LSU: Thessalonians 5:18 — "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

Oct. 17 vs. Arkansas: Psalms 23:1 — "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

Oct. 24 at Mississippi State: Ephesians 4:32 — "And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you."

Oct. 31 vs. Georgia: Philippians 4:6-7 — "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

Nov. 7 vs. Vanderbilt: Colossians 3:23 — "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men."

Nov. 14 at South Carolina: Joshua 1:8-9 — "This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LordLORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."

Nov. 21 vs. Florida International: Romans 1:16 — "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek."

Nov. 28 vs. Florida State: Hebrews 12: 1-2 — "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."

SEC championship game, Dec. 5 vs. Alabama: John 16:33 — "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

"Replace, Not Reform!"

Newt Gingrich: "Victory or Death!"

This is an amazing speech by the former Speaker and he hits the nail right on the head!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Days after attack, Pope Benedict XVI visits soup kitchen

Hat tip to the Catholic Fire on this one.

A warm welcome for Pope Benedict XVI as he prepared to eat a warm meal with Romes neediest.

Viva il Papa

The crowd shouted long live the pope.

But days earlier, he was greeted very differently by a 25-year old unstable woman who attended Christmas Eve Mass at St. Peters Basilica.

Witnesses captured these images, the woman jumping over barricades, pushing the pontiff to the ground.

During the popes visit to St. Egidios soup kitchen, his first trip since the attack, security was tight and guards escorted Benedict XVI inside where he shared a meal with 150 homeless and poor people.

Benedict XVI
Thank you for this opportunity! I am very happy and I thank everyone with love and expertise have prepared the food - I really felt the power of this kitchen, congratulations!

Benedict XVI told the poor, that he is close to them and loves them, and called on everyone to always remember those in need and help them.

After the meal, the pope handed out gifts to about 30 children at the center.

The popes visit to the soup kitchen is part of a tradition his predecessor John Paul II started in 1998.

Louisiana Christmas Day by Aaron Neville

A Thousand Deaths

Today we remember St. Thomas Becket. The following comes from the American Catholic site:

A strong man who wavered for a moment, but then learned one cannot come to terms with evil and so became a strong churchman, a martyr and a saint—that was Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, murdered in his cathedral on December 29, 1170.

His career had been a stormy one. While archdeacon of Canterbury, he was made chancellor of England at the age of 36 by his friend King Henry II. When Henry felt it advantageous to make his chancellor the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas gave him fair warning: he might not accept all of Henry’s intrusions into Church affairs. Nevertheless, he was made archbishop (1162), resigned his chancellorship and reformed his whole way of life!

Troubles began. Henry insisted upon usurping Church rights. At one time, supposing some conciliatory action possible, Thomas came close to compromise. He momentarily approved the Constitutions of Clarendon, which would have denied the clergy the right of trial by a Church court and prevented them from making direct appeal to Rome. But Thomas rejected the Constitutions, fled to France for safety and remained in exile for seven years. When he returned to England, he suspected it would mean certain death. Because Thomas refused to remit censures he had placed upon bishops favored by the king, Henry cried out in a rage, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!” Four knights, taking his words as his wish, slew Thomas in the Canterbury cathedral.

Thomas Becket remains a hero-saint down to our own times.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nativity Scene at St. Peters Square gets the finishing touches

It was John Paul II wish to turn St. Peters Square into a miniature nativity scene every year for Christmas. Its been 27 years since the first one was set up, but every year since, mystery surrounds what the finished piece will look like since its kept a secret until inauguration day.

Pier Carlo Cuscianna, Director, Technical Services Vatican Governorate
We like to think of it as a surprise, in fact its not unveiled until the 24th, in the evening, Christmas day.

Year for Priests

Thank you Sisters for the prayers! Here is more on the Year for Priests:

Hat tip to Illegitimi non carborundum!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

On Priesthood in the Year for Priests

A new video on the priesthood from gives Catholics a detailed look at the priesthood from the perspective of some of the men who live the call in this Year For Priests declared by Pope Benedict XVI. Please say a prayer for the great priests in your parish and around the world.

Longford Cathedral Destroyed by Fire

Please say a prayer for the people of Ireland. The 169 year old Cathedral of Longford has been destroyed by fire. We need to pray for the Church in Ireland and for all the good people of this Diocese as they pull together after the loss of their beautiful Cathedral. The following comes from Vultus Christi:

Saint Mel's Cathedral of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois burned to the ground last night. Carrick-on-Shannon and Drumshanbo (County Leitrim) where I was blessed to spend time again this past August with Father Dan Leary, are in the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnois. Saint Mel's Cathedral was one of Ireland's finest churches.

The blaze began shortly after 5.a.m. Midnight Mass had been celebrated in the Cathedral by His Lordship, the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise, Dr. Colm O'Reilly, who later said the Cathedral was burned out from end to end.

Construction on the Cathedral began in 1840. Hours before the beginning of the blaze, the Cathedral was filled with the faithful attending Midnight Mass. There are no indications as what caused the blaze.

The fire comes on top of severe weather conditions: floods and freezing. It compounds the moral sufferings of the Irish clergy and faithful, already grief-stricked and demoralized in the wake of the Murphy Report on the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Dear readers of Vultus Christi, join me in prayer for the Church in Ireland. She is being tested by fire. May her faith emerge shining like pure gold. Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, pray for us!

Hat tip to Fr. Z on this one, and Patrick Madrid as well.

How the Faithful Responded to the Attack on the Holy Father

We are so blessed to have a Pope like Benedict XVI! Incidents like we had yesterday make you realize how blessed we are. All of us need to remember to pray for him everyday! The reaction to the attack on him seems to have missed some of the real story. To help us all understand what it was like to be there and to how the Holy Father reacted it is good to get some reaction from the faithful. The following comes from the Opinionated Catholic site:

By now, nearly every reader of the Mirror of Justice is aware that the Holy Father was knocked down by a mentally unstable woman as he proceeded up the aisle at the beginning of the Mass. The incident took place only about ten yards away from where we were sitting, although none of us were able to see what had occurred other than my daughter, Katie, who could see security gathering around and then a man being carried out of the basilica (who turned out to be Cardinal Roger Etchegaray who suffered a broken hip when knocked to the marble floor with the Pope.) I'm glad that I didn't see the security guards with their hands on their guns moving down the aisle, as that would have made me more apprehensive about what might be unfolding.

What may not have been fully conveyed by the news media is the remarkable reaction and response of the congregation as this episode unfolded, as well as the beauty and serenity of the rest of the Mass, despite the unsettling beginning. As the young woman vaulted over the rail and lunged at the Pope, those in the immediate area naturally gasped in surprise. But then complete silence fell over the entire basilica. We all remarked afterward how the reaction was so different than one usually experiences when something occurs in a crowd, typically a loud buzzing moving through the crowd as people describe what they had seen and discuss what it means and what may happen next. Instead, other than some whispering, everyone was prayerful and quiet, waiting for what seemed like a considerable time but instead proved to be only a couple of minutes. Cheers then rang out when he resumed his entrance.

When the Pope continued up the aisle, passing by our row, he did not look to be greatly shaken and returned to nodding and smiling at the worshipers gathered. The rest of the service was so beautiful and meaningful that we had nearly forgotten the interruption at the beginning by the time the Mass ended. The Holy Father recessed down the aisle, stopping to greet children in the congregation, before proceeding to the manger scene for the placement of the baby Jesus. While the eight of us will always remember that we happened to be there for the unfortunate incident, the focus of our conversation and attention afterward was on the Mass and the meaning of Christmas.

If there is a silver lining to the small cloud that overshadowed the beginning of the Mass, it may be that the news media has given more attention as well than usual to Pope Benedict's Christmas message, a call to turn away from selfishness and self-absorption and find spiritual fulfillment in God.


There has fallen on earth for a token
A god too great for the sky.
He has burst out of all things and broken
The bounds of eternity:
Into time and the terminal land
He has strayed like a thief or a lover,
For the wine of the world brims over,
Its splendour is split on the sand.

Who is proud when the heavens are humble,
Who mounts if the mountains fall,
If the fixed stars topple and tumble
And a deluge of love drowns all-
Who rears up his head for a crown,
Who holds up his will for a warrant,
Who strives with the starry torrent,
When all that is good goes down?

For in dread of such falling and failing
The fallen angels fell
Inverted in insolence, scaling
The hanging mountain of hell:
But unmeasured of plummet and rod
Too deep for their sight to scan,
Outrushing the fall of man
Is the height of the fall of God.

Glory to God in the Lowest
The spout of the stars in spate-
Where thunderbolt thinks to be slowest
And the lightning fears to be late:
As men dive for sunken gem
Pursuing, we hunt and hound it,
The fallen star has found it
In the cavern of Bethlehem.

G.K. Chesterton

Pope Benedict: Urbi et Orbi 2009

The following comes from the CNS:

Pope Benedict today delivered a message of Christmas hope, saying a world beset by conflicts and a “grave financial crisis” needs the light of Christ.

The pope spoke at his Christmas message and blessing “urbi et orbi” — to the city and to the world — from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. St. Peter’s Square, decorated with a Christmas tree and a Nativity scene, was filled for the occasion.
He expressed a special thought for the “little flock” of Christians who remain in the land of Christ’s birth, and for the Christian community in Iraq, which has been subject to increasing violence and intimidation.

For the full message click here.

The pope then offered Christmas greetings in 65 languages, saying in English: “May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Savior has been born for us.”

How Religious Is Your State?

I came across this at Patrick Madrid's site and found it to be pretty interesting:

The Pew Forum has come out with a new study showing the relative levels of religious activity based on four measurements: "the importance of religion in people's lives, frequency of attendance at worship services, frequency of prayer and absolute certainty of belief in God."

Which of the 50 states has the most religious population? Since there are many ways to define "religious," there is no single answer to this question. But to give a sense of how the states stack up, the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life used polling data to rank them on four measures: the importance of religion in people's lives, frequency of attendance at worship services, frequency of prayer and absolute certainty of belief in God. Mississippi stands out on all four, and several other Southern states also rank very high on the measures.

See how the states rank according to each of the four measures in the interactive graphic by clicking here.

States with sample sizes that are too small to analyze are combined. As a result, the lowest ranking is 46 rather than 50,

Not surprisingly, the ten most religious states are in the South, in the heart of the Bible belt. I applaud them. Also, not surprisingly, about half of the dozen least religious ones are the heavily "Catholic" states of Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, California, and Connecticut. Sad. Very sad.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Is the Blessed Virgin Mary appearing in Egypt?

This is pretty amazing! What do you think? Could the Blessed Virgin being appearing in Egypt? Have a look and let me know what you think:

A Coptic Christian friend in Dallas tells me that this news is huge in Egypt right now. From an L.A. Times Middle East blog:

Hundreds, if not thousands, have been lining up for hours every night at the Virgin Mary Orthodox Church in a Cairo neighborhood just off the Nile. Many of them claim that a mysterious light hovering above the church's domes is an apparition of the Virgin Mary who will bring Christian Copts prosperity and relief in a time of national and religious struggle.

The crowds began appearing Thursday evening when a number of residents spotted a flickering light. No one was sure where the illumination was coming from, and word quickly spread that the light took the shape of the Virgin Mary wearing a blue gown and standing in the sky between the church's two high crosses.

Since then, many Copts, and more than a few Muslims, have spent their evenings camping outside the church to either be blessed by a glimpse of the "miraculous" scene or to figure out just what's happening in the night sky. It has turned into a pilgrimage for the curious and the devout at a time when Egypt is beset by poverty, high unemployment and a bruised sense of identity, especially after the national soccer team's recent loss to Algeria knocked it out of contention for the World Cup.

"The scene on Saturday was huge when we saw the lightning and white pigeons flying around us. White pigeons always accompany apparitions like these," one Copt told The Times.

Skeptics say it's St. Elmo's Fire. Take a look at the video below, shot by a cellphone camera from the crowd, and see what you think. There's another video of the current alleged apparitions here. The local Coptic bishop has issued a statement saying that the apparitions are real, for what that's worth. And here's a short video clip from a year 2000 claimed apparition of Mary above a Coptic church in Assiut. The most famous of these latter-day apparitions atop Coptic churches was the nightly visits lasting from 1968 to 1970 over St. Mary's Coptic Orthodox Church in Zeitoun, Egypt. The parish church has plenty of amazing photographs of that event on its website. Tens of thousands of Christians and Muslims saw it happen.

And now Copts believe it is happening again. Here's that clip from the church in Warraq. Interestingly, in all these claimed apparitions of the Virgin in Egypt, she is accompanied by luminescent white birds. 'Tis all a mystery.

Hat tip to New Advent and on this one!

Blessed Christmas to All!

With this lovingly designed nativity scene in the church Bendern in Liechtenstein, I wish you all a blessed and gracious Christmas.

Blessed Christmas!
Gesegnetes Weihnachtsfest!
Un Natale Benedetto!
Creciun binecuvîntat!
Святого Рождества!
Swentego Bożego Narodzenia!
Благословен Коледа!
Блаженний Різдва!
Beneïda Nadal!
Bendita Navidad!
Požehnal Vánoce!
Blagoslovljen Božić!
Velsignet jul!
Välsignad jul!
Zalig Kerstmis!
Õnnistatud jõule!
Mapalad Christmas!
Bienheureux Noël!
Ευλογημένος Χριστούγεννα!
אשרי חג המולד!
Áldott karácsonyi ünnepeket!
Berbahagialah Natal!
Sasodīts Ziemassvētkus!
Švč Kalėdų!
BEATU Milied!
Um Natal abençoado!
Благословљен Божић!
کریسمس مبارک!
المبارك عيد الميلاد!

Virtually Visit the Vatican!

Visit the Vatican for Christmas! Just click here! Merry Christmas everyone! May God bless you and your families with every good gift!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christ is Born in Bethlehem!

Proclamation of the Birth of Christ from the Christmas Martyrology:

The twenty-fifth day of December.

In the five thousand one hundred and ninety-ninth year of the creation of the world from the time when God in the beginning created the heavens and the earth;

the two thousand nine hundred and fifty-seventh year after the flood;

the two thousand and fifteenth year from the birth of Abraham;

the one thousand five hundred and tenth year from Moses
and the going forth of the people of Israel from Egypt;

the one thousand and thirty-second year from David's being anointed king;

in the sixty-fifth week according to the prophecy of Daniel;

in the one hundred and ninety-fourth Olympiad;

the seven hundred and fifty-second year from the foundation of the city of Rome;

the forty second year of the reign of Octavian Augustus;

the whole world being at peace,

in the sixth age of the world,

Jesus Christ the eternal God and Son of the eternal Father,
desiring to sanctify the world by his most merciful coming,
being conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and nine months having passed since his conception,

was born in Bethlehem of Judea of the Virgin Mary,
being made flesh.

The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ according to the flesh.

You can learn more about All Angels here!

Silent Night

God is in the Stable

Don Bosco wins National Title

Don Bosco beats Saint Peter's to win Non-Public Group 4 NJ HS football final

My Don Bosco Prep Ironmen are National Champs! Here is the story from the Yahoo/High School Rivals site:

The question needs to be asked: If New Jersey only had one team in the RivalsHigh Top 100 rankings for most of the season, how could a team from the state - Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep - ascend to the top of the rankings and win the 2009 national championship?

The answer actually is easy.

In a season filled with upsets and parity in all of the traditional football power states, Don Bosco Prep stood out:

Video of Don Bosco's win in the state title game.
  • It dominated its in-state competition;
  • It defeated two top out-of-state competitors;
  • It was overpowering from start to finish.

    “This is a special experience for the kids,” Don Bosco athletic director and assistant coach Nunzio Campanile said. “We thought this was a special season but you never know how the polls will play out.”

    For Bosco, seeing how the polls would turn out was actually its most stressful ‘game’ of the season.

    The school jumped to No. 2 nationally when the calendar turned to November and remained there after capturing its fourth straight New Jersey state title on Dec. 5.

    Then it had to sit and wait and see how the season played out in Florida, California and Texas.

    First, Fort Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas – the undisputed top team going for its second straight national title – was stunned in the Florida 5A semifinals by Manatee on Dec. 11.

    The next day, the No. 3 team - powerful Huntington Beach (Calif.) Edison – lost in the California state playoffs to Servite.

    All that was left was Texas.

    Austin (Texas) Lake Travis rose to No. 2 and went on to capture its third straight Texas 4A, Division 1 title last Saturday but it did not do enough to pass Don Bosco.

    “Everything we’ve done just paid off,” senior lineman James Kittredge told “All those grueling days, getting after each other in the heat.

    “It turned out just the way the coaches promised. They said it could happen. They weren’t lying.”

    Campanile credits tough scheduling for the team’s success.

    “We try to challenge our kids,” he said. “We try to find out what they are all about. Those games against De La Salle and Prattville keep our kids motivated to work hard.”

    Those games helped Don Bosco get the nod as national champions as well.

    New Jersey had such a dramatically ‘down’ year this fall that it wasn’t worthy of inclusion in RivalsHigh’s 12-state tournament to determine where the best football is played.

    But Bosco showed two teams what Jersey football is about.

    On Sept. 12, Don Bosco dominated Concord (Calif.) De La Salle, 30-6, holding the eventual CIF Open Bowl champion to under 100 yards of offense. De La Salle finished the year ranked No. 39.

    Two weekends later, on Sept. 25, Don Bosco had its defining moment against Prattville (Ala.) High.

    Bosco roared to a 25-0 lead before Prattville came back to get within one at 25-24. Bosco responded with the next ten points to close out the game.

    “The Prattville game was big for us,” Campanile said. “Traveling 1,000 miles and having our backs against the wall and a hostile crowd, told us a lot about this team.”

    Prattville eventually advanced to the final of the Alabama Class 6A and finished the year ranked No. 96.

    Two out-of-state wins aside, Bosco also beat the best in their state, rolling over Montvale (N.J.) St. Joseph’s, Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic, Jersey City (N.J) St. Peter’s Prep and West Orange (N.J.) Seton Hall Prep were all needed to push the Ironmen to the title.

    Those schools, which have challenged – and beaten – Don Bosco in the past, were no match this season.

    As it turns out, no school was.

  • Michelangelo's Madonna and Child in Rome for Christmas

    One of the most mysterious works of art by sculptor and painter Michelangelo is the Madonna and Child. Its considered a sketch, but its still unclear what piece he did it for or if he left it unfinished.

    Now, this stunning drawing sketched in pencil can be seen until January 10th in one of Romes most popular museums. The work made its way from Florence to Rome for Christmas.

    Pina Ragioneri
    Director, Foundation Casa Buonarroti,
    It represents a very special and profound moment of Michelangelos religious vision, his reflection on the relationship between mother and child, which is not a calm relationship; its an uneasy and dramatic relationship.

    Domenico Calcagno
    Secretary General, Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic
    One should pay close attention to the Virgins expression, because its not one of neglect that is lost in space, rather her look expresses her inner thoughts. She knows there will be suffering which will shape her sons life and her own.

    According to experts, Michelangelo made the sketch in the year 1525. It was recently restored, and during the process there was proof the artist had doubts about the works composition. At first he sketched the Madonna looking down at the Child, much how Rafael depicted her. But finally, Michelangelo decided to draw the Madonna turning away from the Child.

    Restorers also discovered that in the XIX century, the drawings margin was cut, perhaps for framing purposes. Its believed the alteration removed the Madonnas veil.

    A small masterpiece from the Renaissance that has become one of the most admired Nativities.

    New York City Christmas

    I spent some time today in New York City with some of our Brothers and I was able to get a few pictures. It was so cold in the City! I think it was 24 degrees when we arrived (the wind made it feel colder)! But it was a great day. The above photo is of the nativity scene in St. Patrick's Cathedral. The Cathedral was beautifully decorated for Christmas and the Lady Chapel had some great white poinsettia plants.

    The above photo is of a World War I memorial that I had never paid much attention to until today. It is located off Fifth Avenue in Central Park. I was walking toward the Metropolitan Museum of Art and stopped for the photo. It is a fantastic memorial to our brave soldiers from the Great War.

    The bottom two pictures come from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

    The Museum continues a long-standing holiday tradition with the annual presentation of its Christmas tree, a favorite of New Yorkers and visitors from around the world. A vivid eighteenth-century Neapolitan Nativity scene—embellished with a profuse array of diminutive, lifelike attendant figures and silk-robed angels hovering above—adorns the candlelit spruce. Recorded music and lighting ceremonies add to the enjoyment of the holiday display.

    The exhibit of the crèche is made possible by gifts to The Christmas Tree Fund and the Loretta Hines Howard Fund.

    Veni Veni Emmanuel

    Wednesday, December 23, 2009

    Christmas Light Hero

    Ransom Captive Israel

    US Navy Presidential Ceremonial Honor Guard Drill Team

    Go Navy!

    Christmas tree lights up Saint Peter's Square

    The following comes from the CNA:

    Friday afternoon at sunset, Pope Benedict XVI will flip a switch to turn on the Christmas lights adorning the 27 meter tall tree standing next to the nativity scene in the center of St. Peter's Square. The Pope met earlier in the day with those responsible for bringing the Christmas tree to the Vatican from the Belgian region of Wallonia.

    The Pope thanked the delegation present at the audience, including the Economy Minister of Wallonia, the Belgian ambassador to the Holy See, Bishop Aloys Jousten of Liege and all others involved in the promotion of the project and the "delicate" transportation of the six-ton tree to its present location.

    The tree that was brought to us from the "dark and shadowy" forest is now in the light and covered in decorations like "many marvelous fruits," Benedict remarked.

    "Leaving behind its somber robe for a sparkling radiance. It has been transformed."

    "It becomes the carrier of a light that is no longer its own but bears witness to the true Light that comes to the world," said the Pontiff, likening the tree to the shepherds at the birth of Christ.

    Pope Benedict added that the tree's presence could be compared to our existence in the world, "we are also called to bear good fruits to show that the world has truly been visited and redeemed by the Lord."

    In its own way, said the Holy Father, this tree "proclaims the coming of the Son of God" to all who see it, "he who has come to make all things new and to call all creatures, from the humblest to the highest, to enter into the mystery of the Redemption and to be include in it."

    The lights covering the enormous tree will be turned on at sunset on Friday evening by the Pope himself. He will flip a switch that has been installed in the Apostolic Palace overlooking the Vatican Square. The tree has been in place since Dec. 4, but due to the monumental task of constructing the nativity scene and decorating the tree, they weren't made public until now.

    Bulgaria – A Salesian Archimandrite

    The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

    On 12 December, during a solemn liturgy celebrated in Sofia Cathedral , Bishop Christo Proykov, Exarch and President of the Bishops’ Conference of Bulgaria, appointed the Salesian Fr Petr Němec archimandrite.
    Taking part in the ceremony were the Nuncio Apostolic in Bulgaria, Archbishop Janusz Bolonek, the Salesian Provincial in Prague Fr František Blaha and 12 priests from the diocese.

    In his homily, Bishop Proykov ha described the vocation journey of Fr Němec and the witness given by his family. His brother and sister-in-law, Salesians-Cooperators, already parents of 5 children adopted 6 youngsters. The Exarch emphasised that for a priest the most precious and greatest good is and has to be God.

    At the end of the ceremony bull of appointment was read. After saying a prayer Bishop Proykov gave Fr Němec a pectoral cross and the ”epigonàtion”, a liturgical ornament in the Byzantine rite worn by Bishops, Archimandrites and other dignitaries, a symbol of the Word of God.

    Bishop Proykov had wanted to bestow this honour on Fr Němec, on the occasion of his sixtieth birthday, which occurred the previous day as a mark of recognition for the work of the Salesians in Bulgaria.

    The Salesians, present in the country since 1994 with one community work in two centres. For the last two years they have also been working in the Gypsy area of Stara Zagora where they are building up a new project. They organise summer camps for children and young people from all the diocese, train leaders for the youth groups, and are responsible in the diocese for a number of activities such as Caritas, the formation of priests, catechesis, vocation promotion and the ecumenical movement. The Rector of the Salesian community Fr Petr Cvrkal has been elected President of the Conference of Religious in Bulgaria.

    In Bulgaria 83% of the population is Orthodox, 13% Muslim, 0,6% Catholic and 0,5% Protestant. There are three Catholic dioceses: two of the Latin rite, at Sofia-Plovdiv and Ruse, and one of the Eastern rite a Sofia.

    In the Eastern Catholic Churches the title “Archimandrite” is almost exclusively an honorary one. In exceptional circumstances it is conferred on priests of the Latin rite who are very close to the Eastern rite because of their studies, liturgy or charitable work. The term “Archimandrìtis”, which in Greek literally means “chief of a sheepfold,” recalls the image of the Good Shepherd and is also used in reference to a monastic community. In Eastern Christian Churches the archimandrite can be the Superior of a monastery or of a Congregation.

    Christmas 1950

    Streets of Daily Life

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009

    Uncovered days before Christmas: Is this the home of Jesus at Nazareth?

    This is a timely story from the Daily Mail Online:

    The remains of the first dwelling in Nazareth that has been dated back to the time of Jesus have been unveiled - just days before Christmas.

    The find that could shed new light on what the hamlet was like during the period the New Testament says Jesus lived there as a boy, Israeli archaeologists said.

    The dwelling and older discoveries of nearby tombs in burial caves suggest that Nazareth was an out-of-the-way hamlet of around 50 houses on a patch of about four acres.

    It was evidently populated by Jews of modest means who kept camouflaged grottos to hide from Roman invaders, said archaeologist Yardena Alexandre, excavations director at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

    The place was so small Jesus would almost certainly have known all the houses - and might even have prayed there.

    Based on clay and chalk shards found at the site, the dwelling appeared to house a 'simple Jewish family,' Alexandre added, as workers at the site carefully chipped away at mud with small pickaxes to reveal stone walls.

    Nazareth holds a cherished place in Christianity. It is the town where Christian tradition says Jesus grew up and where an angel told Mary she would bear the child of God.

    'This may well have been a place that Jesus and his contemporaries were familiar with,' Alexandre said. A young Jesus may have played around the house with his cousins and friends, she said. 'It's a logical suggestion.'

    The discovery so close to Christmas has pleased local Christians.

    They say if the people do not speak, the stones will speak,' said a smiling Rev. Jack Karam of the nearby Basilica of the Annunciation, the site where Christian tradition says Mary received the angel's word.

    Alexandre's team found remains of a wall, a hideout, a courtyard and a water system that appeared to collect water from the roof and supply it to the home. The discovery was made when builders dug up the courtyard of a former convent to make room for a new Christian center, just yards (meters) away from the Basilica.

    It is not clear how big the dwelling is - Alexandre's team have uncovered about 900 square feet (85 square meters) of the house, but it may have been for an extended family and could be much larger, she said.

    Alexandre said her team also found a camouflaged entry way into a grotto, which she believes was used by Jews at the time to hide from Roman soldiers who were battling Jewish rebels at the time for control of the area.

    The grotto would have hid around six people for a few hours, she said.

    However, Roman soldiers did not end up battling Nazareth's Jews because the hamlet had little strategic value at the time. The Roman army was more interested in larger towns and strategic hilltop communities, she said.

    Alexandre said similar camouflaged grottos were found in other ancient Jewish communities of the lower Galilee such as the nearby Biblical village of Cana, which did witness battle between Jews and Romans.

    At the site, Alexandre told reporters that archaeologists also found clay and chalk vessels which were likely used by Galilean Jews of the time. The scientists concluded a Jewish family lived there because of the chalk, which was used by Jews at the time to ensure the purity of the food and water kept inside the vessels.

    The shards also date back to the time of Jesus, which includes the late Hellenic, early Roman period that ranges from around 100 B.C. to 100 A.D., Alexandre said.

    Prince of Peace

    The Salesian Rector Major’s Christmas Greetings

    The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

    Quoting the message of the Angel to the shepherds (Lk 2, 10-11), the Rector Major Fr Pascual Chávez sends his Christmas Greetings, also this year, to Salesian Family.

    “Do not be afraid, Listen I bring you news of great joy, a joy to be shared by the whole people. Today in the town of David a saviour has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord.” Fr Chávez invites the members of the Salesian Family to “go to the manger” as the shepherds did to contemplate the mystery of the Incarnation and to tell everyone, especially the young, “what they had been told about the Child” and to praise the Lord for the great gift given to us in Jesus.

    You can hear the Rector Major's greeting in English by clicking here.

    A New Kind of Bullfighting

    This is something I wouldn't put on the bucket list!


    Chanted by Benedictine Catholic Monks in Spain (San Domingo de Silos Monastery)

    And the Light shineth in darkness: and the darkness did not comprehend it...
    et lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non conprehenderunt... erat lux vera quae inluminat omnem hominem venientem in mundum...
    That was the True Light, which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.

    Hat tip to the Anchoress on this one!

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    Never Let Go by David Crowder Band

    150th Anniversary of the Salesians of Don Bosco

    On December 18, 1859, Don Bosco asked 18 young men to start a congregation. They all agreed to give up their own dreams to make Don Boscos own dream come true. Thats how the Salesians were born.
    The congregation started with 18 young men. Today there are more than 16,000 members spread out over 130 countries. Whats more, 26 other groups have sprung from the original Salesian congregation.

    Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva, SDB Rector Major of the Salesians
    Today, the cultural and religious situation is very different. But Don Bosco would expect the same generosity, the same dedication, and the same enthusiasm with which those original 18 young men were able to leave behind their own ambitions that were real. They gave up their own dreams to make Don Boscos come true.

    The 150th anniversary will be celebrated the 18th of December when every member of the Salesian congregation will renew their religious vows. In essence, their commitment to promote the glory of God and the good of all souls, especially those who are most in need of guidance and education. Father Chavez says, thats what Don Bosco would expect.

    Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva, SDB
    He would expect that there would be more of an awareness that we are consecrated people. Completely devoted to God our father by way of obedience, humility and chaste, and at the same time totally committed to helping our youth through education and evangelization with the same pastoral fire that burned in his heart.With this anniversary, the leader of the Salesians has called on members to renew their convictions while looking for and promoting new vocations.

    Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva, SDB
    The more I contemplate the world and all its problems and upsets, the more Im convinced that the answer is in religious life. Which religious life? First of all, a life characterized by being a truly good life. Thats to say, that you mold your life according to your faith, thats identified by the teachings of Jesus who was obedient, humble and chastened. So then, the religious person wants to be obedient, humble, and chastened, like Jesus was.

    One of the hallmarks of the Salesian spirituality is educating the youth. It doesnt strictly consist of passing on concepts, but in helping the maturity process, so as to give the most of oneself.That was the case of one of the first young men Don Bosco reached out to: Michele Magone, leader of a dangerous band of thugs.

    Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva, SDB
    When it was time for recess he would bolt outside like a cannonball. But when the bell rang for class time or to go to church, he would get sad and Don Bosco would tell him, Why dont you learn to be happy in everything you do, not just the things you enjoy?

    Father Chavez believed one way to help young people is by helping the families, especially during the initial years of marriage. When the family is healthy, its easier for vocations to come about. He knows what hes talking about, because he discovered his own religious calling thanks to his mother.

    Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva, SDB
    One day, while I was talking to her, ten days before she died suddenly, she asked me, Why dont you think about it? Ive always asked God for a priest as a son. At that moment, Im not sure why, it was very easy to say, Im that son youve asked for. She died three days later, and four days later I went to talk to my former assistant.

    In short, with their 150th anniversary, the Salesian congregation will give the Catholic church a larger devotion to consecrated life while helping young people and young families. An ambitious life project not only for 16,000 Salesians, but also for friends of the Salesian family.

    Death's Dark Shadow

    Pray Forward

    Miracle Approved for the cause of Blessed Andre

    It seems that Blessed Andre is on the road to canonization! On Saturday a miracle for his cause was approved:

    In Rome this morning, the Holy Father, Benedict XVI held a private audience with Mgr. Angelo Amato, SDB, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. During the audience, the Holy Father authorized the Congregation to issue a decree concerning a miracle attributed to the intercession of Blessed Brother André, CSC, founder of Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal. Born on August 9, 1845 at Saint-Grégoire d'Iberville in the diocese of Saint-Hyacinthe, just south of Montréal, Brother André died on January 6, 1937 in Montréal. He was declared Venerable on June 12, 1978 by Pope Paul VI and was beatified on May 23, 1982 by Pope John Paul II in Rome.

    With joy filled hearts, the administration and the personnel of Saint Joseph's Oratory of Mount Royal has learned that his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI has just acknowledged as scientifically inexplicable, a healing due to the intercession of Blessed Brother André. Cardinal Jean-Claude Turcotte, Archbishop of Montréal, was elated by the news. “Brother André takes pride of place among the builders of our diocesan Church.”

    The vice postulator for the cause of the canonization of Brother André, Father Mario Lachapelle, CSC, indicated, “The road to the canonization of Brother André is now open! The moment finally seems to have come. Today, one of the most significant pages in our collective history has been written.”

    Read the whole story here.

    Pope Benedict: Christmas is God's answer to drama of humanity

    The following comes from the CNA:

    Pope Benedict XVI led the Angelus from the window of his Vatican chambers on this crisp, clear winter morning of the fourth Sunday of Advent in Rome. In his pre-Angelus address to thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, he echoed the words of the prophet Micah in Sunday´s liturgy, inviting the world to look to Bethlehem for peace.

    The Holy Father began his address by quoting Micah's prophesy from 1,000 years before Christ's birth, 'But you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel; Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.'

    "So, there is a divine design that knows and explains the times and places of the coming of the Son of God into the world," said Benedict XVI of the prophesy.

    "It's a design of peace ..." one that comes with the arrival of the Lord on Earth, he said.

    "He himself will be the peace," adds Micah in his prophesy.

    Benedict XVI said that Bethlehem is thus is a "city-symbol" of messianic peace, although, he lamented, "Unfortunately, in our days, that doesn't represent an achieved and stable peace, but one tiringly sought after and hoped for."

    God doesn't give up, though, he continued, and so this year, as in all years, "he will renew in the Church the mystery of Christmas, prophesy of peace for every man and woman."

    The Pontiff highlighted the power and timelessness of the message, saying, "Today, as in the time of Jesus, Christmas isn't a fable for children, but the answer from God to the drama of humanity in search of true peace."

    "Even if we don't understand it fully, we trust ourselves to his wisdom and kindness. We seek, before all, the Kingdom of God, and Divine Providence will aid us."

    Pope Benedict concluded with a "Merry Christmas to all!" that echoed through the pillars of the Square and was met with cheers from the crowd.

    Sunday, December 20, 2009

    Glory of it all by The David Crowder Band

    "Moral Tsunami"

    Rev. Thomas Euteneuer speaks about the clear teachings of the Church and the "moral tsunami" that has hit our culture by failing to listen to Pope Paul VI and Humane Vitae.

    Professor Janet Smith wrote a wonderful article called Humanae Vitae: A Generation Later that is well worth looking into. She also wrote has another piece on the prophetic nature of the encyclical.

    Hat tip to Mary's Anawim.

    Our Heavenly Home

    Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko: Modern Hero declared Venerable

    The Holy Father has declared Fr. Jerzy Popiełuszko to be venerable!

    Jerzy Popiełuszko was a charismatic priest who was first sent to strikers in the Warsaw Steelworks. Thereafter he was associated with workers and trade unionists from the Solidarity movement who opposed the Communist regime in Poland.

    He was a staunch anti-communist, and in his sermons, interwove spiritual exhortations with political messages, criticizing the Communist system and motivating people to protest. During the period of martial law, the Catholic church was the only force that could voice protest comparatively openly, with the regular celebration of Mass presenting opportunities for public gatherings in churches.

    Popiełuszko's sermons were routinely broadcast by Radio Free Europe, and thus became famous throughout Poland for their uncompromising stance against the regime. The Służba Bezpieczeństwa tried to silence or intimidate him. When those techniques did not work, they fabricated evidence against him; he was arrested in 1983, but soon released on intervention of the clergy and pardoned by an amnesty.

    A car accident was set up to kill Jerzy Popiełuszko on October 13, 1984, but he escaped it. The alternative plan was to kidnap him, and it was carried out on October 19, 1984.The priest was beaten and murdered by three Security Police officers. Then, his body was dumped into the Vistula Water Reservoir near Włocławek from where it was recovered on October 30, 1984.[1]
    News of the political murder caused an uproar throughout Poland, and the murderers and one of their superiors were convicted of the crime. More than 250,000 people attended his funeral, including Lech Walesa on November 3, 1984. Despite the murder and its repercussions, the Communist regime remained in power until 1989. In 1997, the Roman Catholic Church started the process of his beatification; as of 2008 he has Servant of God status.
    Learn more about him here.

    The Huron Carol

    Christmas Carol written in 1643 by French Jesuit Father Jean de Brebeuf while he was on mission to convert the Wendat Amerindian nation that lived on the southern shores of Georgian Bay and the eastern shores of Lake Huron proper. Jean de Brebeuf was later martyred by the Iroquois, and he was canonized St Jean de Brebeuf in the 20th century.

    This version of the song is sung by Toronto-based singer Heather Dale. And she is singing it in three languages: Wendat, French and English.

    Translation of the Wendat lyrics:

    1. Estennialon de tsonoue Jesous ahatonnhia
    Onn'a ouateoua d'oki n'onlouandaskouaentak
    Ennonchien skouatrihotat n'onlouandilonrachatha
    Jesous ahatonhia, ahatonhia! Jesous ahatonhia! /

    1. Have courage, you who are human beings: Jesus, he is born.
    The okie spirit who enslaved us has fled.
    Don’t listen to him for he corrupts the spirits of our thoughts.
    Jesus, he is born.

    2. Aloki onkinnhache eronhialeronnon
    iontonk ontatiande ndio sen tsatonnharonnion
    Ouarie onnaouakoueton ndio sen tsatonnharonnion
    Jesous ahatonhia, ahatonhia! Jesous ahatonhia! /

    2. The okie spirits who live in the sky are coming with a message.
    They’re coming to say, “Rejoice! Mary has given birth. Rejoice!”Jesus, he is born.

    The very first Canadian Christmas Carol was written in 1643, by Father Saint Jean de Brebeuf, 1593-1649 It was meant as a gift and teaching aid for the Huron People. Father Brebeuf was a Jesuit Missionary and Linguist stationed at Ste. Marie Among the Hurons.

    Written originally in the Huron language; the carol at some point in time, was translated into French. Mr. Jesse Edgar Middleton translated the carol into English in 1926, from a French Translation and gave it a new name.

    I had wondered about the differences in wording between the Huron Carol and Middleton's Twas In The Moon Of Winter. Mr Steckley; a translator at Humber College; pointed out, it was Middleton who created the lyrics for Moon of Winter probably because of difficulty with the flawed French Translation.

    Even when all the translation difficulties are taken into consideration, The Huron Carol or Twas In The Moon Of Winter Time does not lose Father Brebeuf's message.

    Father Saint Jean de Brebeuf lost his life March 16 1649, during the Iroquois uprising of 1648/1650, when he was captured and slain by the Iroquois. On June 29 1930 Father Brebeuf was canonized by Pope Pius XI.

    To learn more please click here!