Sunday, February 28, 2010

Beautiful Things by Gungor

Two years after World Youth Day, Sydney sees upsurge in vocations and ordinations

World Youth Day continues to bear good fruit! 2 years after the event took place in Australia the Church continues to see good things happen. Here is the story from CNA:

A record number of men are entering seminary for the Archdiocese of Sydney and up to six men will be ordained to the priesthood this coming June, a rise that observers partly attribute to the influence of World Youth Day 2008.

On June 11, between four and six men will be ordained priests by the Archbishop of Sydney Cardinal George Pell. This is the largest number of men ordained into the Archdiocese of Sydney since 1988, the archdiocese reports.

Two Uganda-born men who studied at the Seminary of the Good Shepherd in Homebush, Australia will be ordained in their home country and will return to serve in Australian parishes.

“While Australia has been battling against a shortage of priests since the late 1980s, it now looks as if interest in the priesthood and men seeking priestly vocations is once more on the rise,” the archdiocese said on Friday.

In February, 10 men were accepted as candidates for the priesthood by the Seminary of the Good Shepherd, and they have since begun their first year of study.

"There is no doubt there has been an upsurge in interest in a priestly vocation," said seminary rector Fr. Anthony Percy.

Fr. Percy attributed the trend to World Youth Day 2008 but also to past World Youth Day Events and to the Year for Priests, proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI in June 2009.

Another sign of vigor in Catholic Australia is Sydney’s Theology on Tap program, which attracts between seven and eight hundred people to P.J. Gallagher’s Irish Pub in Parramatta on the first Monday of each month. They drink, socialize and hear speakers on theology, faith, the Church and life in general.

"Today many young people are seeking deeper meaning to their lives and not just looking for a career but for a vocation which can answer the big questions of life," Fr. Percy added. "In this post modern culture there are no values, no standards and no foundations on which to build minds. But young people really want these things and in a world of dysfunctional families and society generally, they are looking to the Church for stability."

Pope Benedict prays for Chilean earthquake victims

The following comes from the CNA:

After the Angelus on Sunday, the Holy Father directed his words to the population of Chile and victims of its massive earthquake. He prayed that quake victims receive relief and courage from God.

"My thought also goes to Chile and to the population hit by the earthquake," Pope Benedict XVI said.

Chile was hit by an 8.8 magnitude earthquake very early on Saturday morning, at a strength 500 times that of the January earthquake in Haiti, ABC News reports. At least 214 deaths have been confirmed and the government estimates millions of people are without homes.

"I pray for the victims and am spiritually close to the people tested by such a grave calamity; for these I implore from God relief from the suffering and courage in this adversity," the Holy Father said at St. Peter’s Square.

He assured victims of the support of the Church, adding "I'm sure that there will be no lack of solidarity of many, especially ecclesial organizations."

Meet Libera

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lent is an Invitation and a Means to Transfiguration

The following comes from

"Jesus took Peter, John, and James and went up the mountain to pray. While he was praying his face changed in appearance and his clothing became dazzling white. And behold, two men were conversing with him, Moses and Elijah, who appeared in glory and spoke of his exodus that he was going to accomplish in Jerusalem. " (Luke 9)

Why, on the second Sunday of Lent does the Church offer us an account of the Transfiguration?

The inclusion of this account is an ancient practice. We also hear the account on the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Whether during Lent or on its own Feast, it is meant to focus us on the "end" of the Christian life and vocation. We will all be transfigured, as the Lord Himself was transfigured, when our redemption is complete in the Resurrection of the Body. Then, we will live in the new heaven and new earth. This reality is meant to affect the way we live our lives now. It also opens up another aspect of the purpose of our ascetical practices during these forty days.

From the earliest centuries, the Christian Church emphasized the centrality of the Transfiguration of the Lord. Our experience of our life in the Lord - and in His Church - is only the beginning of what is to come in the kingdom. Our life is already a participation in that new reality. The Church, in the words of the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council, is a "seed of the kingdom" to come. Our life within the Church is a participation in the eternal realities of the life to come in a new heaven and a new earth - but it begins in the here and now.

The Transfiguration invites us to reflect on what that can mean for us right now. This event on the Mountain was meant to strengthen the faith of these three disciples. They were about to witness the events that would lead their Lord and Master along what would appear to be an ignominious path, up Golgotha´s lonely hill, to be crucified, a fate reserved for common criminals. Their own faith would be shaken, tested and tried. He loved all who were His own in this world (John 13:1). He wanted to encourage them.

However, this One who came from eternity and took upon Himself the limitations of time, was about to open the portal of eternity. He would reveal to Peter, James and John the eternal now of His own glory. He was doing so much more than simply encouraging them. He was showing them who He was – and who they would become in Him. He was revealing to them what had already begun; and giving them a vision that would forever change the way they viewed themselves, their daily lives and their mission, after He would return to the Father.

As they lived their lives no longer for themselves but for Him they began to undergo their own trials and walked the way to their own transfiguration. This is the path of all who bear His name. We entered through the waters of the womb of Holy Baptism into the life of the Church which is His Body. We are "in process", works "in progress". We are being re-created and transfigured in Him. He has brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven, through the Paschal mystery. Oh, I know, this is "heavy" stuff as we used to say. But it is the Gospel message and the Catholic faith.

On that Mountain, Jesus revealed before mortal eyes the Transcendent Truth of who He is - and who Peter, James and John ...and each one of us - will become in Him. They were invited to exercise their freedom and embrace the path that He had prepared. So are we, right now. He was grounding them in the eternal Truth, and opening up for the countless millions who would hear this story from their faithful witness a glimpse of the Glory that is to come as we also choose Him in our daily lives.

Peter would later write of this experience: "His divine power has bestowed on us everything that makes for life and devotion, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and power. Through these, he has bestowed on us the precious and very great promises, so that through them you may come to share in the divine nature, after escaping from the corruption that is in the world because of evil desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with ...

To read the rest of the article please click here.

College students lead eucharistic adoration in Rome

Friendship, Pope John Paul II and a miracle of Padre Pio

When Wanda Poltawska was a young girl, she participated in Polands resistance against the Nazis. She was captured by the Gestapo and was deported to Ravensbruk concentration camp.

Thats where Adolf Hitlers personal doctor, Karl Gebhardt subjected her to horrific medical experiments. Wanda says her curiosity to find how far human cruelty would go, was the only thing that kept her alive. After the war, she went home completely demoralized and began searching for a priest to help her reconcile with humanity.

You can read the whole incredible story of the miracle here.

Prayer Need: Massive Magnitude 8.8 Quake Hits Chile

Please pray for the people of Chile. Here is the story from Fox News:

A massive 8.8-magnitude earthquake struck Chile early Saturday, collapsing buildings, killing dozens and downing phone lines. President Michele Bachelet declared a "state of catastrophe" in central Chile and said the death toll was rising.

Chile's top emergency official said at least 78 people were killed

There have been a number of aftershocks to hit Chile since the quake, the largest one registering at magnitude 6.9, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

"It has been a devastating earthquake," Interior Minister Edmundo Perez Yoma told reporters.

Tsunami warnings were issued over a wide area, including South America, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, the Philippines, Russia and many Pacific islands.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's tsunami warning monitors reported a wave measuring nearly eight feet hit near Talcahuano, Chile, about 90 minutes after the quake hit. Other waves of up to four feet hit other coastal areas. The NOAA has placed its alert on the highest level — severe.

"We have had a huge earthquake, with some aftershocks," Bachelet said, appealing from an emergency response center for Chileans to remain calm. "Despite this, the system is functioning. People should remain calm. We're doing everything we can with all the forces we have. Any information we will share immediately."

Bachelet said "without a doubt, with an earthquake of this magnitude, there will be more deaths."

In the 2 1/2 hours following the 90-second quake, the U.S. Geological Survey reported 11 aftershocks, of which five measured 6.0 or above.

She urged people to avoid traveling in the dark, since traffic lights are down, to avoid causing more fatalities.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley tells Fox Nows: "We are doing a few things. First, our Embassy is reaching out to the Chilean government to offer assistance. Chile has both significant capabilities and strong building codes. Second, the Embassy has activated its Warden system to communicate with Americans in Chile and make sure they are okay. You should check with the Pentagon as well to see what SOUTHCOM is doing."

Crowley added: "We have more than 100 personnel at the Embassy. They are all okay and accounted for."

The quake hit 200 miles southwest of the capital, Santiago, at a depth of 22 miles at 3:34 a.m., the U.S. Geological Survey reported.

The epicenter was just 70 miles from Concepcion, Chile's second-largest city, where more than 200,000 people live along the Bio Bio river, and 60 miles from the ski town of Chillan, a gateway to Andean ski resorts that was destroyed in a 1939 earthquake.

In Santiago, the capital, modern buildings are built to withstand earthquakes, but many older ones were heavily damaged, including the Nuestra Senora de la Providencia church, whose bell tower collapsed. An apartment building's two-level parking lot also flattened onto the ground floor, smashing about 50 cars whose alarms and horns rang incessantly. A bridge just outside the capital also collapsed, and at least one car flipped upside down.

In the coastal city of Vina del Mar, the earthquake struck just as people were leaving a disco, Julio Alvarez told Radio Cooperativa in Santiago. "It was very bad, people were screaming, some people were running, others appeared paralyzed. I was one of them."

Bachelet said she was declaring a "state of catastrophe" in 3 central regions of the country, and that while emergency responders were waiting for first light to get details, it was evident that damage was extensive.

She said the initial death toll was 16, "but we cannot dismiss the possibility of more," and encouraged people to stay home and not travel unless strictly necessary.

Several hospitals have been evacuated due to earthquake damage, she said, and communications with the city of Concepcion remained down. She planned to tour the affected region as quickly as possible to get a better idea of the damage.

The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center called for "urgent action to protect lives and property" in Hawaii, which is among 53 nations and territories subject to tsunami warnings.

A huge wave reached a populated area in the Robinson Crusoe Islands, 410 miles off the Chilean coast, Bachelet said. There were no immediate reports of major damage there, she added.

"Sea level readings indicate a tsunami was generated. It may have been destructive along coasts near the earthquake epicenter and could also be a threat to more distant coasts," the warning center said. It did not expect a tsunami along the west of the U.S. or Canada but was continuing to monitor the situation.

The largest earthquake ever recorded struck the same area of Chile on May 22, 1960. The magnitude-9.5 quake killed 1,655 people and left 2 million homeless. The tsunami that it caused killed people in Hawaii, Japan and the Philippines and caused damage to the west coast of the United States.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Basilica of Guadalupe receives largest pilgrimage in history: 100,000 pilgrims

This is a good sign! The following comes from Fides:

The largest pilgrimage in history, nearly 100,000 pilgrims, has made its way to the Hill of Tepeyac. After three intense days of walking, at dawn on Wednesday, February 24, a pilgrimage from the Diocese of Toluca reached the Basilica of Guadalupe. With great faith, devotion and love, many believers have come here to venerate the Mother of God. The nearly 95,000 pilgrims from different municipalities belonging to the State of Mexico have completed a course of about 50 kilometers. Together with the pilgrims from the Diocese of Toluca, there are also many communities of faithful from the Diocese of Atlacomulco and on this occasion, for the first time, the new Archdiocese of Tenancingo.

The last part of the trail began at the community of Cuajimalpa. The march started at approximately 10pm on Tuesday, February 23, to reach the doors of the Basilica at 6am on Wednesday, February 23. On the day of arrival, the pilgrims rested near the Shrine of Guadalupe and attended the morning Mass presided by the Bishop of the Diocese of Toluca, Bishop Francisco Javier Chavolla Ramos. In this celebration, the pilgrims sought the intercession of the Virgin of Guadalupe in obtaining God's blessing on the diocesan activities, for the permanent mission, and for the lives of the individual believers.

The Diocese of Toluca sent Fides the text used for the preparation of the pilgrimage to the Basilica of Guadalupe, which helps to understand the meaning and significance of the pilgrimage, and offers a reflection on encountering Jesus through Mary.

David Crowder Band "Everything Glorious"

Painting of Blessed Laura Vicuna modified after unpublished photo discovery

The following comes from the CNA:

The recent publication of an actual photo of Blessed Laura Vicuna, patron of abuse victims, has prompted plans to modify a mural of the young Chilean painted on the outside wall of a shrine dedicated in her honor.

The current mural, painted by Italian artist Caffaro Rore shows her as a young girl with European features.

According to a press release, the mural will be modified by Argentinean architect Alejandro Santana, known for his work on both the Cathedral of Bariloche and the life-sized Stations of the Cross in Junin de los Andes – both located in Argentina.

Santana told the Chilean daily “El Mercurio” that “the photo that has just been made public is very revealing, and it shows many things, particularly her tearful eyes.”

“This picture really conveys what Laura Vicuna experienced,” said Santana. “I will try to portray a Laura who suffered her entire life, who was deprived of a father, a family, good health and a true picture of her face after her death.”

Laura Vicuna was born in Santiago, Chile on April 5, 1891. Her father died when she was only two and her mother had trouble making ends meet. She decided to move to Argentina with her two children.

According to the Salesian Sisters of John Bosco, once the family moved to Argentina, Laura realized that her mother had distanced herself from God and was living with a farmer named Manuel Mora. This caused Laura a lot of angst, so she offered her life to God for the conversion of her mother.

Over summer break in 1902, when she was 11-years-old, Manuel Mora tried to abuse Laura. She resisted, which angered him and he stopped giving her the money needed to attend a school run by the Salesian sisters. The sisters, however, allowed her to continue going to school, free of charge.

Then, on January 22, 1904, affected by the cold, harsh winter, Laura died in Junín, Argentina. God fulfilled his half of the bargain, and her mother was converted.

On September 3, 1988, Pope John Paul II declared Laura Vicuna a blessed.

Bishop Felipe Bacarreza Rodriguez of Santa Maria de los Angeles in Chile, said the traditional representation of Blessed Laura “was a good idea given the lack of a true picture of her.” However, he explained, now that an actual photo of her has been found, the old mural will have to be replaced.

The bishop noted that the actual photo of Blessed Laura shows a face that is “more serious, more profound, and has features that reflect the life of Laura.” He added that the recently-discovered photo “will inspire greater devotion to her.”

Who is St. Benedict?

“The seminaries and the seminarians lost everything...putting them back to "normal" life is a priority.”

The following comes from Fides:

The Apostolic Nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, has sent a report on the present situation of the seminarians and an appeal made to the Pontifical Mission Societies of England and Wales (Missio), which Agenzia Fides re-publishes below.

The Situation

Both the National Major Seminaries (Theology and Philosophy) collapsed, killing 15 seminarians, one professor and some members of the personnel, as well as leaving a number of seminarians wounded, two or three of whom have had amputations. Many who were trapped under the rubble were saved after days, whiles some others were able to get out by themselves. There were 159 seminarians and 8 resident Formators and professors at the Theology Department, and 97 seminarians and 2 Formators at the Philosophy Department.

The conference of Bishops has decided that the 28 fourth year Theology seminarians will finish the academic year. They will be housed in tents and every facility will be in tents as well (classroom, kitchens etc). Then they will be ordained deacons during the summer.For lack of facilities, the other theology seminarians will be sent back to their dioceses. Their respective Ordinaries and the professors will organize courses for them from time to time, but they will lose the academic year. This decision might still be modified, given the revolving situation as to financial resources and other considerations.The 97 Philosophy seminarians will be sent back to their respective Dioceses. They too will lose the academic year. Those in the pre-Philosophy years (15, I guess) belonging to the Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince will be housed in accommodation still to be identified.

The Needs

The seminaries and the seminarians lost everything. Nothing except some of the books in the library on the third floor was saved. So, the greatest needs of the seminarians are clothing, toiletries, tents to sleep in. Many of the seminarians have been sent back to their dioceses, but the dioceses are also extremely poor and in great need of assistance.The putting into place of the tents to house the 28 fourth year theology seminarians, as well as to shelter the facilities attached (classrooms, kitchens, services etc.)The board and lodging for the said seminarians, as well as for all those remaining in their dioceses. We still have to have an estimate on this. Most of the parishes in Haiti refuse to house the seminarians if the diocese does not pay something for board and lodging, because they cannot provide for their subsistence. Haiti was very poor before and even more so after the earthquake.

Purchase of Bibles and fundamental texts (Vatican II, Catechism of the Catholic Church etc.) The ones they had were all lost in the rubble.The easiest, most flexible and fastest way to help these unfortunate seminarians is through financial aid that we can use according to the most urgent needs of the moment.The Archbishop added: “Thank you also for your efforts in favor of our traumatized seminarians. We believe that putting the seminarians back to "normal" life is a priority. Nobody here (except very few of us!) wants to sleep inside buildings. That's another challenge we have to consider in rebuilding.”Monsignor John Dale, the National Director for Missio-England and Wales commented: “Missio will stand alongside the Church in Haiti as it attempts to restore some sense of normality to shattered lives. We will be there to help Archbishop Auza and those who are working to care for the carers of the future. Missio will be there for as long as the people of Haiti need us and for however many years it takes.”

Pope Benedict headed for Fatima in May

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Prayer Request from Iraqi Sisters

Please pray for the Christians of Iraq:

From: Angelo H Camacho To: Sent: Thu, Feb 25, 2010 12:33 pm Subject: URGENT PRAYER REQUEST
Just got this tragic news from our Dominican sisters in Iraq... prayers, please
Fr. Camacho

Dear Brothers,

Please read the following e-mail sent by Sr Donna Markham, O.P., the Prioress of the Adrian Dominicans, about our Dominican Sisters in Iraq and the entire Christian community in Mosul:

Dear Sisters, This evening I have received very tragic news about the situation in Iraq. I have just returned from being with the 5 Iraqi sisters who are with us in Adrian. Today, all the Christians have fled from Mosul.

There have been murders and rapes of Christians there and for now they are fleeing to the Christian villages. Sister Maria is very frightened about the safety of the sisters and the Christian people. As of now,the five elderly sisters who have been holding down the Motherhouse are choosing to remain there because they do not want to lose their Motherhouse to the terrorists. She said most Christians are making plans to evacuate from Iraq and, as a consequence, she does not know what will happen with her Congregation. She said they will follow the Christian people where they go, but where that will be is uncertain. The sisters' families remain in grave danger and, as you can imagine,the young ones with us and with Springfield are terrified. As of now, nothing is being reported in the US press. She asks if any of us know people in Washington whom we could contact and tell the story, to please do so. Most importantly, she asks for our prayers. Love, Sr. Donna

Please keep this situation in your prayers, and, as Sr. Donna asks, if anyone has any contacts in DC who could bring this to the press or to Congress, please consider doing so.

Fraternally, Fr Brian Mulcahy, O.P.

I found this in my email from Ed at In God's Company 2.

Story of the Blind Painter

The Documentary from John Bramblitt on Vimeo.

John Bramblitt is an artist living in Denton Texas, his art has been sold in over twenty countries and he has appeared internationally in print, TV and radio. His work has received much recognition including the ‘Most Inspirational Video of 2008′ from YouTube and three Presidential Service Awards for his innovative art workshops.

While art was always a major part of John’s life it was not until he lost his sight in 2001 that he began to paint, and it was then that he says, “Art reshaped my life.” John’s paintings are intensely personal, and are mostly taken from real people and events in his life. John’s workshops are unique in the art world in that they not only span the gap between beginning and professional artists, but also include adaptive techniques for people with disabilities. According to John, “Everyone has an artist somewhere in them; sometimes they just need a little help letting it out.”

Fr. Barron on Conversion

Pope Benedict reflects on vocations during Lenten retreat

The following comes from the CNA:

Thursday marks the fifth day of meditation and prayer for this week's Lenten retreat at the Vatican. Over the past few days, Salesian Father Enrico dal Covolo has offered reflections for the Holy Father and members of the Roman Curia during the annual retreat which began last Sunday and will continue until Saturday morning.

This fifth day of the Lenten spiritual exercises is deemed "Christological Day." Within Fr. dal Covolo's three meditations on Thursday, there are two morning sessions on "The history of the vocations of the first disciples," based on the Gospel of John. The afternoon meditation will illustrate the "priestly biography" of Venerable Servant of God Fr. Giuseppe Quadrio.

Organized to encompass the theme, "Lessons from God and the Church on Priestly Vocations," every day of the week has a focus. The retreat started with the "Day of Prayer for Priestly Vocations" with the "Day of Prayer for Missionaries" following. Wednesday was "Penitential Day" and Friday will mark "Marian Day."

The days consist of two morning meditations derived from bible passages relating to vocations, while a single afternoon session offers insights into the lives of exemplary priests including St. John Vianney, St. Augustine and "country priest," Fr. Georges Bernanos. Friday's afternoon meditation will center on the life of Venerable John Paul II.

The retreat includes daily recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, Vespers, Adoration and Eucharistic Benediction.

Fr. Enrico dal Covolo will conclude the week-long retreat on Saturday morning with his 17th meditation titled "The call of the first 'deacons'."

Mountain Sunrise

Cineflex - Norwegian sunrise from Leif Johan Holand on Vimeo.

In the Lord put I my trust; how say ye to my soul,
Flee as a bird to your mountain?


Thy righteousness is like the great mountain;
thy judgments are a great deep:
O Lord, thou preservest man and beast.


Which by his strength setteth fast the mountains;
being girded with power.


Thou art more glorious and excellent
than mountains of prey.

For more mountain psalms click here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pope John Paul II beatification process nearly complete

The beatification process of Pope John Paul the Great is almost complete! Here is the story from CNA:
Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II’s personal secretary for 40 years, told participants at a Colombian conference that the late-Pope's beatification process “is practically finished.”

In Colombia, where Cardinal Dziwisz traveled to participate in a conference on the legacy of John Paul II, the cardinal remarked that the beatification process of the pilgrim Pope “is practically finished.”

“In order for the beatification to take place, it is important that the Church recognizes a miracle in which he has interceded. There is a case that is currently being investigated and it is of themiraculous healing of a French nun suffering from Parkinson’s.”

Regarding the date of the beatification, the cardinal said, “It is not known, but his tomb is visited by thousands who thank him for favors.”

“Not only do Christians want to see him made a saint, but Jews and Muslims as well.”

Speaking later of the affection and fervor of the people towards John Paul II, Cardinal Dziwisz said, “He changed the world from the political and religious points of view; he taught that the solution to problems lies in solidarity and in love. He overcame all the thresholds. His teachings should be applied today to help this world in crisis.”

Responding to those who criticized the short length of JPII's cause for canonization, the Polish cardinal admitted it has been a speedy process, “but one cannot say it has been done poorly. It has been an effective time for delving deeper into the legacy he left. The same ones who criticized him because they did not like his moral positions are the same who are criticizing him now.”

Addressing the claim that John Paul II whipped himself and slept on the floor, the Archbishop of Krakow said, “I cannot confirm it or deny it. He was a man of great spirituality, his principal characteristic was having a spirit of prayer and contemplation. In many convents today the practice of penance through flagellation exists, and it has given us other great saints such as St. John of the Cross and St. Theresa.”

Speaking to his Colombian audience, Cardinal Dziwisz added that Pope John Paul II “always said that Latin America is the continent of hope. He loved Colombia and had many friends here, cardinals and priests, because the presence of Colombia in Rome has always been significant.”

Also during his Colombia visit, in an interview with the Colombian daily, “El Tiempo,” the cardinal shared John Paul II's requests and actions just before he died.

After saying that the late-Pope "died like a holy man," the cardinal added that JPII "said goodbye to his colleagues, to Cardinal Ratzinger (now Benedict XVI), even to the housekeepers. He asked that the entire Gospel of St. John be read to him and thus he prepared to go.

“There was an incredible peace.”

Pope Benedict on Retreat

Seven Reasons Why You Should Go to Confession During Lent

This is good advice from Canterbury Tales! Go to confession!

1. Priestly absolution is an awesome gift that Jesus gave us.
Jesus gave us this Sacrament and wants us to enjoy His grace through it. He told His first priests, the Apostles:
Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, their sins are forgiven (John 20:22).
Christ gave us this sacrament of grace and forgiveness because He loves us. It is a divine gift of mercy and love - not merely an obligation.

2. You are a sinner.
We are a sinners and we need to examine the sinful patterns of our hearts and have a priest give us absolution, counsel, and penance.
"If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 Jn 1:8).
We are often not honest with our hearts and it takes an objective "physician of souls," to help diagnose us spiritually.

3. Confession is a means of grace.
Confession shouldn't be terrifying. It is peaceful. We get excited over baptisms, weddings, and ordinations. Why not the remedy for our greatest Christian struggle? Why not be excited about Christ's forgiveness being declared by His appointed deputies - the priests of His Church.

4. You may have committed mortal sin.
There is a such thing as mortal sin:
If any one sees his brother committing what is not a mortal sin, he will ask, and God will give him life for those whose sin is not mortal. There is sin which is mortal. (1 Jn 5:16)
Mortal sin is deadly and it separates our souls from the pure eternal life that exists within the Blessed Trinity. Contrition and priestly absolution restores our hearts to a position of love toward God and our neighbors. It ratifies our repentance.

5. Guilt is unpleasant.
Often Satan weighs us down with guilt. Guilt can be a good thing if we transform it into repentance. Of course, Satan hates this and God and the angels love it. So free yourself from guilt and hear a tangible person with spiritual authority say, "I absolve thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."

6. Confession unites you more fully to the Church.
When you make your confession to a priest, you acknowledge that you have sinned not only against God, but against every single other Christian because by your sin, you have weakened the universal witness of every single Christian. You have given the non-believer the excuse that "All Christians are hypocrites." When you go to Confession you acknowledge that you have caused every Christian to suffer by your sins.
"If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together" (1 Cor 12:26).
The priest, who represents both God and the Church by his ordination and office receives your repentance and you have the assurance of not only God's forgiveness, but also the implicit forgiveness of the entire Church.

7. Receiving the Eucharist becomes even more powerful.
When you receive the Holy Eucharist you receive the true Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ our Redeemer. When you confess your sins in a sacramental way, you also have a stronger sacramental union with Christ in the Eucharist. Also, if you are living in mortal sin, you should NEVER receive the Eucharist because you blaspheme Christ and set yourself up for greater judgment and eternal damnation! Consequently, confession heals and deepens your devotion to Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

Hat tip to New Advent!

Fr. Corapi on Abortion and Humanae Vitae

Salesian Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Delivers Aid to Haiti

The following is from the CNA:

Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the president of Caritas Internationalis, visited Haiti on Monday to deliver aid from Honduras and to express solidarity with the country after its devastating January earthquake.

The cardinal went to Port-au-Prince’s destroyed cathedral and visited the rubble of the archdiocesan offices where Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot and a number of his colleagues were killed.

According to Caritas Internationalis, he then proceeded to the Renaissance Hospital and the Champ de Mars makeshift camp, where tens of thousands of people have taken refuge.

Cardinal Rodriguez met representatives of the Haitian Bishops’ Conference to discuss relief and reconstruction efforts. He also spoke to international and national staff at the Caritas Haiti headquarters.

“I want to thank all the Caritas of the world for their support. It is essential we go on, in order to rebuild Haiti culturally and spiritually as well as materially,” he commented.

He thanked the apostolic nuncio to Haiti, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, as well as Caritas Haiti President Bishop Pierre Dumas and Director General of Caritas Haiti Fr. Serge Chadic for hosting his visit.

Caritas members in 40 countries have collected $198 million in private donations for quake relief. Governments and institutions have pledged $36 million to Caritas for the effort.

Caritas reports that it has fed over 500,000 people, given shelter kits to 43,000, and given medical treatment to 12,000 in Haiti. The two-month relief effort will be followed by a three to five-year reconstruction program focusing on housing, education, and livelihoods.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bring the Rain by MercyMe

Bring the Rain (MercyMe) from Bryan on Vimeo.

Houston Astros mourn nun who kept faith in the team

I found this Houston Belief story at New Advent. What a great post and inspiration! God bless this wonderful Sister with eternal peace:

One spring season when the Astros were in a particularly bad slump, Sister Damian Kuhn made her way to owner Drayton McLane's office, dressed in her traditional blue habit and veil.

“She was our No. 1 fan, and she always took it personal,” recalled McLane. He told her it was time to start praying.

After a long sigh, she replied, “Drayton, my knees are bloodied. It's going to take more than that!”

Now McLane and the baseball team's players are struggling over a different loss — the death of Sister Kuhn on Monday, just months shy of her 90th birthday.

She, as a good Roman Catholic, and McLane, as a good Baptist, connected after he noticed the nun's unabashed enthusiasm for the team whenever she managed to snare a ticket for a game at the Astrodome that otherwise would have gone unused.

“She was hard to miss in a crowd,” McLane said, since her head was covered with a habit instead of a ball cap.

Thinking it was unbecoming for a nun to shout, she once told the Houston Chronicle that she tried hard to just clap and give high-fives. She never jeered or heckled, and always believed that next crack of the bat might be an Astros' home run.

Then 10 years ago, she saw it as a gift from God when the team moved to Minute Maid Park. That's because she was living across the street at the convent for the Annunciation Catholic Church and Incarnate Word Academy.

Bagwell was her favorite

McLane, acknowledging the nun's vow of poverty, bestowed her with season tickets that allowed her to sit behind home plate at the new stadium.

One of her best memories was being flown by the Astros on a private jet to the first day of spring training. “She got to watch the players practice and didn't get home until dark. She never forgot it,” said longtime friend Margaret Buckle, of Houston.

Sister Kuhn also marked her 80th birthday by throwing out the first pitch of the game to one of her favorite players, Jeff Bagwell. Their bond went beyond the ballpark as they occasionally shared pasta together at Carrabba's Italian Grill.

When her health began to deteriorate, the Astros sent a golf cart to transport her to games. In return for the Astros' kindness, Sister Kuhn made what McLane likes to call “heavenly fudge” that she regularly delivered to him.

Sister Kuhn was the oldest of five girls born to Buddy and Ruby Kuhn on Sept. 24, 1920, in Houston.

Her love affair with baseball was inherited from her father, who was a scrappy pitcher for a company team in Houston before the Astros existed.

“Buddy Kuhn was known all over,” recalled one of her sisters, Doris Olexa of Beaumont. “And our mother was taking Agnes (renamed Sister Damian Kuhn) to the games when she was only a baby.”

For as long as anyone can remember, she wanted to become a nun. “She even went around with a towel pinned on her head, pretending to be a nun,” Olexa said. “She never had any other desire. She loved her faith.”

Sister Kuhn then committed herself to the teaching order of the Sisters of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament in Houston at age 18.

Students were devoted

She served as a home economics teacher at the Incarnate Word Academy for 57 years until some mini-strokes forced her into retirement. Many of her students — such as Rose Carrabba, whose family owns the Italian grill — remained devoted and kept in touch with her.

Life as a nun didn't stop Sister Kuhn from having fun.

The Buckle family remembers taking her and another nun with them to Knott's Berry Farm in California after a wedding ceremony.

“I lost track of her there,” Buckle remembered. “Then looking up, I saw two nuns in full habits dropping at what seemed like 90 miles per hour from one of the scariest rides that nobody in my family would do. They were laughing their heads off.”

Room full of memorabilia

And Sister Kuhn's devotion to the Astros also knew no limit. At another Buckle wedding, the family spotted Sister Kuhn with a tiny earphone, concealed by her habit and connected to an old-fashioned transistor radio.

“She later smiled while denying having the game on during the ceremony,” said Buckle's son, Chris.

Even though she could no longer get to the ballpark, she never missed a game this last season on the small TV in her room.

Her health worsened at Christmas when she had a stroke that prevented her from speaking.

“She still understood everything and would smile and nod ‘yes' when asked if the Astros would be ready for next year,” said Sister Brigid Cummins.

Yet she must have sensed the end was near. Last summer, she gave away most of the Astros' memorabilia that decorated her room — from the ball she pitched to the signed photographs she possessed — to family members. All that remained was former first baseman Jeff Bagwell's No. 5 jersey, pinned in its place of honor on her wall.

Sister Cummins folded up the jersey to give to Sister Kuhn's family after she died.

Fr. Robert Barron on Lent

First Salesian Work in New Zealand

This comes from our Salesians in Australia via Australasia news:

Confreres often just assume that there has been a Salesian presence in New Zealand for many years, and have been surprised to hear that there has not been -- until now! Perhaps they confuse Australians and New Zealanders, as others confuse Canadians and Americans, and the jokes that run between “sparring partners” of this kind are legion, but for very many good reasons, Salesians have now established their first official presence in the sovereign nation of New Zealand, or Aotearoa (“The Long White Cloud”) as many of its indigenous and Pacifican immigrant inhabitants prefer to call it -- for indeed this is one of the “good reasons” for the Salesian presence.

The founding presence of the Salesians of Don Bosco in New Zealand opened its doors to the faithful of the parish at Massey, an outer suburb of Auckland, on the first Sunday of February. Three Salesians have been assigned to this new work: Fr. James Adayadiel, a missionary in the Australia-Pacific presence for many years, and a founding figure in our work in Samoa, is the pastor. He is assisted by Fr. Mika Leilua, a Samoan priest, and Fr. Mathew Vadakkevettuvazhiyil, a missionary on loan from the East Africa Province. There are two churches in the parish: one is in Massey itself (St. Paul’s), and another at nearly Ranui (St. Malachy’s). The faithful come from all parts of the world, but especially Samoa (and other islands in the Pacific), India, and Asia. We have begun our work in the parish, immediately establishing close contact with all the already established groups. Fr. Mathew has already set up contact with the young, and is a regular presence in the parish school.

On Saturday, February 13, the Salesians celebrated Don Bosco. We were not “in charge” for Sunday, January 31, so we shifted the celebration to this day. Past pupils and friends of the Salesians from Australia, Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, and other places formed a community of about 50 people at a Mass celebrated by Fr. Raphel Lobo, an ex-Salesian from the Bombay Province.

The Australia-Pacific presence rejoices in this encouraging new start of Don Bosco’s mission among the people of New Zealand. The people are already asking for information about Don Bosco, his Salesians, and the Salesian work. The best sign of a good Salesian work is good Salesians!

"I was born"

Monday, February 22, 2010

Obama's Plan Pays For Abortion

This is a very big prayer need. The following comes from Catholic Fire:

President Obama's new trillion dollar 'health care' plan proposal was posted on the White House website today.

Steven Ertelt at Life News reports:

President Barack Obama has proposed changes he thinks should be included in the changes made to the Senate health care bill as Democrats move ahead with their plan to railroad the bill thorough Congress via reconciliation. However, Obama does not propose any changes to the massive abortion funding.

In fact, analysis from
one pro-life organization finds Obama's plan actually increases the total potential abortion funding.

The current Senate bill contains massive abortion funding that could force taxpayers to fund hundreds of thousands of abortions and it has other pro-abortion problems.

But the new Obama health care proposal, unveiled today in advance of the White House health care summit, leaves intact that Senate language funding abortions.
Read more here.
In response to President Obama's release of a new health care proposal,
Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser offered the following response:

"In a last gasp to save his top domestic priority, President Obama is taking a new approach to health care: 'bipartisanship.' Yet his proposal released today missed the mark on the most significant area of bipartisan agreement: limiting public funds for abortion.

"Over seventy percent of Americans oppose funding abortion through health care reform legislation. And last fall, one quarter of the President's own party joined Republicans to support the consensus Stupak-Pitts Amendment to exclude abortion coverage in the House.

"In the face of obvious bipartisan consensus against abortion funding, the President remains deaf to the voices of American taxpayers. President Obama's most precious domestic priority is on life support, but he still refuses to jettison abortion coverage. It appears that abortion ideology is more precious to this president than his top domestic priority.

"On behalf of the majority of Americans who opposed funding abortion with our tax dollars, I urge participants at Thursday's health care summit – GOP members especially – to defend the American conscience. National consensus will only be reflected in clear language to ensure taxpayer dollars will not fund abortion or any health care plans that cover abortion. This is the federal status-quo, and it's what an increasingly pro-life America demands."

Lent: a season of penance and conversion

The following comes from the Catholic News Agency:

Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the significance of Lent in his words before the Angelus on Sunday at the Vatican. Today’s Gospel, he said, illustrates how Lent provides time for "a long retreat" in which we can rebuild in order to face the temptations of the devil.

The Holy Father outlined Luke's Gospel account in which Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit, walked out into the desert where he was tempted by the devil over the course of 40 days.

The temptations were not just an "incident" along the path, said the Pope, but "the consequence of Jesus' decision to follow the mission entrusted to him by the Father.”

"Christ came to the world to free us from sin and from the ambiguous attraction of planning our lives apart from God." The Pope added, that he didn't do it with "sonorous proclamations, but by fighting first hand against the Tempter, up to the Cross."

"This example is valid for everyone," the Pope observed, "the world improves starting with ourselves, changing, with the grace of God, that which isn't going right in our lives."

Referring back to the Gospel, Pope Benedict pointed out that when Jesus fights Satan's temptations to material needs, power and pride using Sacred Scripture, "He puts the only true criteria, obedience to the will of God, before human criteria."

"This is also a fundamental teaching for us," reflected the Holy Father, "if we carry in our minds and hearts the Word of God, (and) this enters into our lives, we can repel every type of trick from the Tempter.

"Lent," he concluded, "is like a long retreat, during which to reenter into ourselves and listen to the voice of God, to defeat the temptation of the Evil One."

We can use this time of "spiritual competition," to "live together with Jesus, not with pride or presumption, rather using the weapons of faith, prayer, listening to the Word of God and penance."

"In this way we can arrive to celebrate Easter in truth, ready to renew the promises of our Baptism."

The Holy Father will begin Lenten spiritual exercises in the Vatican "Redemptoris Mater" chapel with a series of meditations offered by Salesian Fr. Enrico dal Covolo on "Lessons from God and The Church on the Priestly Vocation" beginning Sunday afternoon and continuing until Saturday, Feb. 27.

You Are Called!

Fr. Corapi powerfully speaks about the call to priesthood. Hat tip to the Called by Name site!

Interview With Preacher for Papal Spiritual Exercises

The preacher for this year's spiritual retreat for the Holy Father is a Salesian! Here is a recent interview with him on a variety of topics from

Benedict XVI and the Roman Curia will have the chance next week to delve into their priestly vocations, seeking renewal in light of lessons from God and the Church on the call to be alter Christus.

The annual seven-day spiritual exercises for the Pope and the Curia begin Sunday.

Mindful of the Year for Priests currently under way, the meditations will be preached by Salesian Father Enrico dal Covolo, on God's lessons and the Church's lessons regarding the priesthood.

Both in education as well as in preaching, Father dal Covolo, 59, is hardly a beginner: Ordained at age 31, the Salesian now has preached more than 200 retreats. He is a professor of ancient Christian literature and a specialist in the Fathers of the Church. Since 2002, he has been a consultor for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and a member of the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences. Within his religious congregation, he is general postulator for Saints' Causes in the Salesian family.

ZENIT asked Father dal Covolo about the theme of the exercises and why vocations to the priesthood are not as numerous as hoped.

ZENIT: What are God's lessons and the Church's lessons on the priestly vocation?

Father dal Covolo: In these days of exercises, "God's lessons," will take up the two morning meditations; and the second theme, [the "Church's lessons"], the afternoon meditation.

As we know, "God's lessons" are given through the sacra pagina, that is, through sacred Scripture, according to the ancient and venerated method of lectio divina, articulated in its fundamental stages: lectio, meditatio, oratio, contemplatio.

The "Church's lessons," instead, will be exercised through the words of the popes and certain documents of the magisterium quoted occasionally; but above all through one of the most important "lessons" that the Church can give: that of priestly holiness, realized in a few famous models. We will be concerned with these models in the afternoon meditations, dedicated to some "medallions" of exemplary priests.

ZENIT: In what way and what arguments will you use to address the slow growth of vocations?

Father dal Covolo: The arguments I will address are linked to the fundamental stages described by the biblical accounts of vocation: God's call, man's response, the mission, doubt, God's confirmation.

This "canvas" is also dominant in the general intention of the different days: Monday will be the "vocational day"; Tuesday, the "missionary day"; Wednesday, the "penitential day"; Thursday, the "Christological day"; and Friday, the "Marian day."

I have also attempted to choose the "medallions" in correspondence with the topics of the different days. These are, in order: St. Augustine, the holy Cure of Ars, Bernanos' country priest; the Venerable Giuseppe Quadrio; the Venerable John Paul II.

ZENIT: How do the spiritual exercises for the Curia unfold and what are the reasons that motivate them?

Father dal Covolo: The spiritual exercises take place for the Roman Curia in the first week of Lent, from Sunday afternoon to Saturday morning. Participating in them, in addition to the Holy Father and the papal household, are cardinals and superiors of the different dicasteries.

They take place in the Apostolic Palace, in the Redemptoris Mater chapel that Pope John Paul II had restored in an extremely thought-provoking way. I will make sure, during the preaching, to make reference to the chapel's decoration. Among other things, also represented on the back wall is the Venerable John Paul II with the Redemptoris Mater chapel in his hands.

As I have already pointed out, the structure of the exercises is made up of three meditations, two in the morning and one in the afternoon: there are 17 meditations in total, including the opening and closing ones.

The motive of the spiritual exercises is always the same, valid for all the faithful: "to put one's life in order," to use the words of the great master of spiritual exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola.

But above all in the cultural climate that surrounds us -- and especially at the beginning of Lent -- all priests, from the Pope on down, feel every year the need to renew the grace of their ordination, and the profound motivations for their service to the Church.

ZENIT: In your opinion, what are the causes of the crisis in vocations and what remedies are proposed?

Father dal Covolo: The reasons for this crisis are well known.

On one hand, an unbridled materialism, which tends to crush all spiritual longing. The predominant cultural bosses -- especially through the media -- seem to do everything possible to make the plan of life of the Risen Crucified One "unbelievable."

On the other hand -- though this is also seen in the vocation to marriage -- is the resistance of many young people to take on definitive commitments.

The remedy? The fundamental remedy is care of the "contemplative dimension" of life: prayer, the sacraments, meditation, lectio divina. In the second place, educational solicitude so that these young people will have "significant experiences" of gift and service. Only in this way will they realize that the promises of consumerism are deceitful, and that only the gift of self really satiates their thirst for happiness.

Finally, I allow myself to ask ZENIT's readers to pray, as a special intention, for the week that is beginning. It's not that I want to give a "good image" at all costs. What I hope for is that these days of grace might mark progress in holiness, b
oth for the participants in the exercises as well as -- more generally -- for all the faithful and for all men of good will.