Saturday, July 31, 2010

Paddy Kelly Conversion Story

Hat tip to Ministry Values for this powerful story of conversion! The following comes from Stephen Ryan at the Ministry Values site:
World famous rock star gives life to Jesus. Led there by the hand of the Queen of Peace the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In 1994 his album “Over the Hump sold more than 4.5 million copies throughout Europe. In Germany it is the biggest selling album of all time. Bigger than the Beatles.

The group has sold over 50 million records worldwide.

At twenty years old he was a teenage sensation, a huge rock star and lived in a 17th century castle in Europe He had all the riches, fame, fortune and the adulation of millions. His name is Paddy Kelly.

He and his group the Kelly Family sold out the huge Westtaleanhalle in Dortmund Germany nine times in a row. A feat no other musician has since accomplished. They filled football stadiums, some shows with over 250,000 .

He was born in Ireland to American parents. He was the star of the incredible singing group “The Kelly Family” He has eleven brothers and sisters and most sing in the band. They started out singing in the streets of Europe but quickly their incredible singing talents took them to the top. Paddy Kelly became a huge idol with adoring female fans. He needed body guards in public. He was hounded by paparazzi where ever he went and traveled by private jet and helicopters. He was recognized everywhere he went. He had it all... this amazing young man had everything, but despite the fame and money he began to feel empty, isolated..

He felt lost... He felt his soul was dying. He had lost his mother when he was five years old but toured the world with his family that gave him love and support.

Even with the love of his family he began to fall into depression even despair. It all began to break down for Paddy Kelly. He lost the sense of who he was and all his ideals and false securities began to break down. He felt like he wanted to end his life.

Nothing made sense to him anymore. Material goods and money, not even music made him happy.

This was when a deep search for the truth began. He asked himself “If all this doesn't make me happy then what is the sense of life. Why do I exists” . He then asked the question “Who can tell me who I am ? Who has the true answers to my questions. As he began to ask these questions, he realized he had no real friends he felt alone and empty. At a moment of deep crisis, standing on a ledge of his room he sensed in him a voice telling himto “Hold on Hold on” .. and after this moment passed he wept bitterly at what he almost had done.

Soon after he began to search his spiritual side.. He read about eastern religion like Buddism even the Koran but it was the Gospels that seemed to pull him in a new direction. He felt the Gospels were alive.

At a chance meeting with a gathering of priests near his palatial home the 17th century castle he felt his spirit grow. Still he struggled with depression and sadness and then one day...he was “zapping” his televison and by chance he came across a program about Lourdes, the shrine dedicated to a apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

To read more please go to Ministry Values:

Salesian ministries in Haiti recovering, but much remains to be done

The following comes from the Catholic News Service:

Describing the devastation in Haiti after last January's earthquake, Salesian Father Mark Hyde compared the scene to what he had witnessed a year earlier. Visiting Salesian schools in February 2009 as director of Salesian Missions, based in New Rochelle, Father Hyde saw "thousands of children all over the place, having fun, going to classes." Older students were enrolled in teacher training and other professional programs. Having seen campuses bursting with life last year, he said that when he returned shortly after the quake, it was all the more difficult to look upon "all that rubble, no children around, the desolation."

Salesian Missions has been given responsibility for coordinating all Salesian mission efforts for Haiti worldwide. Father Hyde went back to Haiti in April and again in July, and he's about to return for another visit. There is still an enormous amount of work to do, but the scene is more hopeful. Several Salesians are living in a temporary residence that was under construction in April but is now finished. Temporary classrooms have been completed and painted, and "they're looking very spiffy," Father Hyde said in an interview with Catholic New York, archdiocesan newspaper. They have been equipped with chalkboards, desks, stools and wooden benches, and 3,000 children are attending classes, he said. Those classes are part of the Salesians' Little Schools of Father Bohnen, a network of small, tuition-free schools begun by Salesian Father Lawrence Bohnen in the 1950s.

Before the earthquake, more than 20,000 impoverished children were attending 132 Little Schools -- some not much more than a tent or other temporary shelter with a few seats and a chalkboard. Now there are 20 of the schools, so there's a distance still to go before the Salesians' educational mission is fully restored. But the progress is a solid start, and it reveals the faith, hope and hard work of the Salesians and the Haitian people. Father Hyde remarked that on his April visit, he saw Haitians chipping away at the rubble of a four-story building. "They were breaking down the concrete into little pieces that could be moved," he said. "They had totally demolished the top two floors with little sledgehammers. "They have a tremendous spirit of work and determination, and also of carrying on in the midst of obstacles," he added. "They keep on plugging away."

The Salesians began educating the poor in Haiti at the invitation of the Haitian government -- the Salesian Sisters (the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians) in 1935 and the Salesians of Don Bosco (priests and brothers) in 1936. Salesians in Haiti now number about 85 sisters and 70 priests and brothers. Father Hyde said the Salesians are the largest providers of education in Haiti after the government.

Father Hyde said Salesian Missions and the Salesians in Haiti developed "a three-pronged plan" after the quake; their goals are "saving lives, rebuilding lives and rebuilding the Salesian educational infrastructure in Haiti." Work is continuing on all three. The Father Bohnen schools have a new, temporary plywood office. The schools used to serve bread for breakfast and a lunch of rice and beans. The children now get breakfast only, but new kitchens are being built by Salesian teachers and the students in Salesian professional programs, so that the lunch program can be restored.

In Petionville, the College Dominique Savio, a Salesian high school, sustained only "cosmetic damage," Father Hyde said. It's now in session for 500 boys and girls. A Salesian youth center in Thorland has been turned into a temporary camp for 8,000 refugees whose homes were destroyed in the quake. The youth center had a three-story building that collapsed in the quake; no one was inside. A large, multipurpose building -- used as a gym and auditorium -- lost its front and back walls, but its sidewalls still stand; Father Hyde said that under its roof, children were playing soccer and dancing on the stage. Some of the refugees in the temporary camp are growing corn outside their tents, he added. "Haitians are resilient," he said. "They are going with the flow, and they make the best of the circumstances."

Funding for reconstruction is coming from Salesian nongovernmental organizations worldwide. Salesian Missions in New Rochelle has pledged to fund the rebuilding of the youth center at Fort-Liberte, and will soon launch an appeal for donations. "It is my hope that a new Haiti will rise, much better than the old Haiti," Father Hyde said. "But it's going to take time."

Take a Virtual Tour of The Basilica of St. Peter

The Journey Home: Fr. Donald Calloway

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Deliverer by DC Talk

Still by Hillsong

Dreams to Reality: Poor Clare Nuns Building Desert Monastery

The Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration of Our Lady of Solitude Monastery in Phoenix, AZ are making their dreams come true! God bless them.

You can read and see more on their dreams at this site. Please pray for these good sisters and for more vocations to their community!

How India Remembers Mother Teresa

The following comes from Zenit:

Almost 100 years ago, on Aug. 26, 1910, a baby girl named Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu was born. The little girl would grow up to be hailed as one of the most influential women of the 20th century: Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Though born in what is today Macedonia, Mother Teresa's influence is perhaps most notable in the land where she founded her Missionaries of Charity: in India.

ZENIT spoke with Father Joseph Babu, spokesperson of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, about how Mother Teresa continues to be a major influence in the nation, now almost 13 years after her death.

ZENIT: Could you evaluate the impact Mother Teresa had on Indian society? And what are the main changes that have occurred since she died?

Father Babu: Mother Teresa has a universal appeal in India; people cutting across religions and cultures give her high regard and even consider her a saint. That is why people of all faiths go to her tomb and pray to her. There are also birth centenary programs organized in different parts of India and in all these, people of all religions participate. Here in New Delhi the CBCI [Catholic Bishops' Conference of India] is organizing public functions to honor her and the president of India is the chief guest of the public function on Aug. 28.

Many changes have occurred in her religious congregation as it continues to grow and attract many young women to join in their work. Sister Nirmala Joshi, who took over from Mother Teresa, being a Hindu convert [has] the distinctive advantage of getting across to all sections of Indian society, and she [has done] an admirable job of leading the Missionaries of Charity to new heights. She was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian honor in India, for her exemplary work.

ZENIT: Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. What remains of her teaching?

Father Babu: Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel prize for her charitable work for the poorest of the poor and she continued to inspire many people to carry on working for those who have been consigned to the margins of society.

She was simple but very inspiring and the Indian Church was proud of her presence and contribution to the society. Many people, including non-Christians, also take inspiration from her life and work; they also associate with her sisters in doing charitable work.

ZENIT: What were her requests to the Church in India?

Father Babu: She was not worried about the criticism of those who said that she was glorifying poverty, or did not work for social change and so on. She would gently say that she was called to do the little she could do; others could do what they are capable of.

ZENIT: What are the main problems that Catholics in India are facing today?

Father Babu: No overseas missionary can come to India for a long stay and work; even those few overseas missionaries left in India are asked to quit India no matter how long they have served here. The depleting foreign aid to some of the Church and institutions is under constant scrutiny, and that makes the going tougher.

ZENIT: Can you tell us some anecdotes of the devotion that people have for Mother Teresa?

Father Babu: Some state governments have named public roads after her, issued postal stamps and commemorative coins in her honor. When she died, the Indian government gave her a state funeral. A Hindu, named Mr. Navin Chawla, currently the chief election commissioner of India, has written her biography, and another Hindu, Mr. Raghu Rai, has photographed her and published a book in her honor.

ZENIT: There has been a lot of discussion about Mother Teresa's "dark night." It is described in the book "Come Be My Light" as a "martyrdom of desire." What do you think about it?

Father Babu: I would not be able to comment on this point much because it is to do with her interior life. However, it could be presumed that as in the case of every human person, she also went through moments of doubts, fears, uncertainties. It would therefore be an honest admission of her humanness, which is integral to her spiritual life.

ZENIT: Receiving the Nobel, Mother Teresa disconcerted people by expressing her horror at abortion, seen as the greatest destroyer of peace today. Could you describe the work of the sister for mothers with unwanted pregnancies?

Father Babu: What Mother Teresa was emphasizing was the value of human life in the context of rampant misuse of science to terminate life rather than to nurture it. Abortion is always and everywhere a heinous crime against humanity. Mother would never get tired of repeating it, [in accord with] the Church's teaching.

Under the guise of controlling population, when people [would promote] the liberty of terminating life, Mother would oppose it saying, "Give [the children] to me and I will look after them." Rightly so she has taken care of thousands of abandoned children all across the world. And that was her message to all: Human beings are to be loved and cared for; they are gifts of God.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Turning Home by David Nail

Mother Teresa National Prayer Breakfast Speech

An address at the National Prayer Breakfast (Sponsored by the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives)
February 3, 1994

On the last day, Jesus will say to those on His right hand, "Come, enter the Kingdom. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick and you visited me." Then Jesus will turn to those on His left hand and say, "Depart from me because I was hungry and you did not feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me to drink, I was sick and you did not visit me." These will ask Him, "When did we see You hungry, or thirsty or sick and did not come to Your help?" And Jesus will answer them, "Whatever you neglected to do unto one of these least of these, you neglected to do unto Me!"

As we have gathered here to pray together, I think it will be beautiful if we begin with a prayer that expresses very well what Jesus wants us to do for the least. St. Francis of Assisi understood very well these words of Jesus and His life is very well expressed by a prayer. And this prayer, which we say every day after Holy Communion, always surprises me very much, because it is very fitting for each one of us. And I always wonder whether 800 years ago when St. Francis lived, they had the same difficulties that we have today. I think that some of you already have this prayer of peace - so we will pray it together.

Let us thank God for the opportunity He has given us today to have come here to pray together. We have come here especially to pray for peace, joy and love. We are reminded that Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor. He had told us what is that good news when He said: "My peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you." He came not to give the peace of the world which is only that we don't bother each other. He came to give the peace of heart which comes from loving - from doing good to others.

And God loved the world so much that He gave His son - it was a giving. God gave His son to the Virgin Mary, and what did she do with Him? As soon as Jesus came into Mary's life, immediately she went in haste to give that good news. And as she came into the house of her cousin, Elizabeth, Scripture tells us that the unborn child - the child in the womb of Elizabeth - leapt with joy. While still in the womb of Mary - Jesus brought peace to John the Baptist who leapt for joy in the womb of Elizabeth. The unborn was the first one to proclaim the coming of Christ.

And as if that were not enough, as if it were not enough that God the Son should become one of us and bring peace and joy while still in the womb of Mary, Jesus also died on the Cross to show that greater love. He died for you and for me, and for the leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street, no only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and everywhere. Our Sisters serve these poor people in 105 countries throughout the world. Jesus insisted that we love one another as He loves each one of us. Jesus gave His life to love us and He tells us that we also have to give whatever it takes to do good to one another. And in the Gospel Jesus says very clearly: "Love as I have loved you."

Jesus died on the Cross because that is what it took for Him to do good to us - to save us from our selfishness in sin. He gave up everything to do the Father's will - to show us that we too must be willing to give up everything to do God's will - to love one another as He loves each of us. If we are not willing to give whatever it takes to do good to one another, sin is still in us. That is why we too must give to each other until it hurts.

It is not enough for us to say: "I love God," but I also have to love my neighbor. St. John says that you are a liar if you say you love God and you don't love your neighbor. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbor whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live? And so it is very important for us to realize that love, to be true, has to hurt. I must be willing to give whatever it takes not to harm other people and, in fact, to do good to them. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is not true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

It hurt Jesus to love us. We have been created in His image for greater things, to love and to be loved. We must "put on Christ" as Scripture tells us. And so, we have been created to love as He loves us. Jesus makes Himself the hungry one, the naked one, the homeless one, the unwanted one, and He says, "You did it to Me." On the last day He will say to those on His right, "whatever you did to the least of these, you did to Me, and He will also say to those on His left, whatever you neglected to do for the least of these, you neglected to do it for Me."

When He was dying on the Cross, Jesus said, "I thirst." Jesus is thirsting for our love, and this is the thirst of everyone, poor and rich alike. We all thirst for the love of others, that they go out of their way to avoid harming us and to do good to us. This is the meaning of true love, to give
until it hurts.

You can read the rest of her speech here at EWTN.

Mother Teresa's speech begins 49 minutes into the video:

Seventh-century fresco discovered in the Basilica of Santa Sabina

Hat tip to the Anchoress on this one!

Hidden under plaster, depicting the Madonna and Child with Saint Peter and Paul the hidden treasures of Rome for seven centuries found during restoration work on the atrium of the church porch St. Salti, check a Byzantine fresco under the plaster of a painting of the seventh century Basilica of Maria Grazia FILIPPI A restoration due to the ravages of time. The search of the original colors Gotti intonaco reddish. And the discovery of another of those treasures that Rome seems to sip the joy of those who continue to search for. Hidden for more than seven centuries, a stunning Byzantine frescoes emerged from the atrium porch of the Basilica of Santa Sabina, one of the most antichc evidence of early Christian architecture of the capital. Beautiful, elegant and precious for survival is rare - with mosaics and paintings of that time in Rima. "It 's amazing ability to surprise in this city forever - soprinten stresses the tooth for the Historic Arts and statistical Pole museums The Scarlett Vodret today at 11, will present, together with the rector of the basilica Francesco Ricci, restoration soon concluded, was enough simply detach and plaster revealed a masterpiece that should be gone in all the ins & art history books. "

You can read more here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Give You My Heart by Hillsong

New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton hands out boxes of food to oil spill families in Venice, La.

Sean Payton delivers! In this case he is delivering food to those in need in South Louisiana. God bless him for supporting the community the way he does. The story comes from the site:

Two days before he was to open training camp, New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton stood in the hot south Louisiana sun hoisting boxes of food and personal supplies into a steady stream of vehicles slowly pulling past him in Venice.

For a man who has heard more than his share of cheers since leading the Saints to the Super Bowl championship, Payton was hearing a different kind of appreciation on Tuesday.

"I thought he was a wonderful coach before, now I think he is a wonderful man," said Catherine Reels, 55. "I think the world of him helping like this."

Payton, through his Play it Forward Foundation, teamed up with Feed the Children to help 2,800 families affected by the BP oil spill.

Payton and fellow Saints coaches, as well as country music artist Sammy Kershaw, kept busy handing out 25-pound packages of food, 10-pound boxes of personal care items such as paper towels, toilet paper and personal grooming needs, bottled water and bags of fresh fruit.

"After two or three months, it's easy for people to like they've slipped through the cracks," Payton said. "The real thing we're about today is hope. Letting people know they are not forgotten."

The food distribution was the first of eight planned Tuesday and Wednesday.

You can read the rest of the story here.

Cloistered French nuns to make Gregorian chant album for Universal Music

The following comes from the CNA:

An order of cloistered Benedictine nuns in France has signed a deal with Universal Music to produce an album of Gregorian chant. The abbess said that after time in prayer the nuns decided the effort could touch people’s lives.

The nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation (Abbey of Our Lady of the Annunciation), near Avignon, France, won a worldwide search to find the world’s finest female singers of Gregorian chant, Decca Records reports. The search surveyed over 70 convents, including some in North America and Africa.

The nuns’ order dates back to the sixth century and their convent remains closed to the outside world. Vowed sisters remain in the convent until their death and any visitors must communicate with them through a grill. Those women who choose to live in a cloister do so to fully offer themselves to God and to commit themselves to praying for the world and the Pope.

When it came time to hold negotiations with the record label over the album, the Benedictine nuns maintained their cloister.

"I passed the contract through the grill, they signed it and passed it back,” reported Dickon Stainer, managing director of Decca Records.

The prospect of producing an album while respecting the rules of the convent means that record company bosses will not be allowed into the abbey, and that the nuns will film their own television commercial and photograph their own album cover.

"We never sought this, it came looking for us," said the abbess. "At first we were worried it would affect our cloistered life, so we asked St. Joseph in prayer. Our prayers were answered, and we thought that this album would be a good thing if it touches people's lives and helps them find peace."

The album will feature the most ancient form of Gregorian chant, the first music ever to be written down.

Other artists on the Universal Music label include Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse, U2 and Lady GaGa.

“Although the nuns do not leave the convent, the whole world will now hear the true beauty of their singing,” Stainer commented.'

Decca Records executive Tom Lewis was also enthusiastic about the prospective album.
"When you hear the sound of nuns chanting, it's like an immediate escape from the challenges, stresses, noise and pace of modern living. You're given a glimpse of a secret world of peace and calm," he said.

The nuns’ album “Voices – Chant from Avignon” will be released worldwide in November.
In 2008, the Cistercian Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz released their Universal Music album “Chant: Music for Paradise,” which sold over one million copies.

Sister Briege McKenna, a nun with the gift of healing and who ministers to priests

Shortly after her own healing, the Lord led Sr. Briege into a ministry of healing. In prayer he told her, "You have my gift of healing. Go now and use it." It was because of this Sr. Briege began to pray with people whom the Lord in his love and mercy healed of many different kinds of sicknesses. Sr. Briege insists "I am not the one who heals. It is Jesus alone who heals us." She often refers to the Gospel encounter between the blind Bartimaeus and Jesus. The question Jesus asked Bartimaeus is the same question he asks all of us. "What do you want me to do for you?" With faith we should answer "Lord, I want to be healed."

Learn more about Sr. Briege and her ministry here.

Jubilee year brings over 100,000 pilgrims to shrine of St. James

The following comes from the CNA:

Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Jul 26, 2010 / 03:10 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- St. James reminds us to be faithful to our apostolic tradition as Christians, the Archbishop of Santiago of Compostela said on Sunday as tens of thousands of pilgrims, the Monarchs of Spain and many members of the Church hierarchy flocked to the famous shrine of St. James for his feast day.

With the feast day falling on Sunday, 2010 is being celebrated as a jubilee year for pilgrims. Over 100,000 pilgrims a year walk great distances along the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) to reach the saint's tomb.

The Eucharistic celebration in the Basilica of St. James on Sunday was concelebrated by more than 30 bishops, including Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela Julian Barrio.

During Archbishop Barrio's homily, he said that the solemnity of the patron saint of Spain, "motivates us to be conscious of our Christian condition, commending ourselves to his patronage in order to be faithful to the apostolic tradition that lays the foundations for our faith, revitalizing our identity ... "

Emphasizing the necessity of allowing God to be present in one's life, he said "man is a pilgrim open to the transcendent, capable of transforming society through the love of God poured out in his heart."

Over the past two millenia, Archbishop Barrio noted "there has never been a lack of tests for Christians," and that St. James openly professed his faith amidst persecution. However, he cautioned, "in spite of the suffering (persecutions) cause, they do not consititute the most serious danger for the Church.

"She suffers, in fact, the greatest damage from what contaminates the faith and the Christian life of her members and communities, eroding the integrity of the mystic Body, weakening her capacity of prophecy and witness, tarnishing the beauty of her face."

Underscoring that Christian commitment needs to continue today in spite of pessimism and the temptation to give up earthly responsibilities, he said, "we must not ignore the necessities of the faith."

Living in a world where "wheat and chaff" grow together, "the effort to reduce evil must be persistent, knowing that the offering of the Gospel is a humanizing route for the future," the archbishop said.

Pope Benedict XVI also remembered the feast day after Sunday's Angelus, recalling the "deep" roots of the tradition of venerating St. James and saying he hoped to make his own pilgrimage there in November. "Following the footsteps of St. James," he prayed, "let us continue the journey of our lives while bearing constant witness of faith, hope and charity."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Something To Be Proud Of by Montgomery Gentry

Pope Benedict: One Who Prays Is Never Alone

The following comes from Zenit:

The voice of one who prays is interwoven with the voice of the Church, since "no one who prays is ever alone," says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made this reflection today before reciting the midday Angelus with those who had gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

The Holy Father drew from the Gospel of today's liturgy for his reflection, which presented Christ's teaching of the Our Father prayer.

He noted how Jesus draws the lesson from "his own prayer, with which he addresses God, his Father."

And this prayer, the Pontiff observed, is among the "the first words of sacred Scripture that we have known since childhood. They fix themselves in the memory, they form our lives, they accompany us until our last breaths."

Addressing the Omnipotent

Benedict XVI reflected on how the Our Father "incorporates and expresses human material and spiritual needs."

"It is not an asking to satisfy one’s own wants," he said, "but rather to keep alive one’s friendship with God, who -- the Gospel always says -- 'shall give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him!'"

The Holy Father referred to a text of St. Teresa of Avila, who exhorted her sisters: "We must beg God always to free us from every danger and to take away every evil from us. And however imperfect our desire, we must make an effort to persist in this request. What does it cost us to ask so much, given that we address the Omnipotent?"

The Bishop of Rome went on to note that each time we pray the Our Father, "our voice interweaves with the voice of the Church, because no one who prays is ever alone."

He concluded, citing a 1989 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “Each one of the faithful must try to seek and can find in the truth and wealth of Christian prayer, taught by the Church, his own way, his own style of prayer … he will thus let himself be guided … by the Holy Spirit, who leads him, through Christ, to the Father."

The Garden Is the World

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Christ is Risen by Matt Maher

Fr. Barron on Praying for Christopher Hitchens

Saturday, July 24, 2010

American Saturday Night by Brad Paisley

Benedict XVI working on third and final volume of ‘Jesus of Nazareth’

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI's vacation time is now being dedicated to writing the third volume in what could safely be called the "Jesus of Nazareth" series. The new work will seek to shed light on the story of Jesus' childhood from the Gospels.

Fr. Federico Lombardi "broke" the official news in his weekly "Octava dies" editorial program for Vatican television although news had already spread that the Holy Father was working on an addition to the first two books. Some Italian journalists had reported that it would be a book, others a mere appendix to the previous two volumes. Fr. Lombardi referred to it as a "volume."

Following a first book on Jesus' public ministry and a second on the Passion and Resurrection, the Vatican spokesman said that "Benedict XVI has now laid his hands on the third and final part, dedicated to the 'Gospels of childhood'."

It will concentrate on the accounts of Jesus' early life from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Fr. Lombardi also said that the second book of the "Jesus of Nazareth" series is now being translated and is expected to be released in Spring 2011.

On the significance of the Pope's work on the new volume, Fr. Lombardi pointed out, "It's clear ... how close it is to his heart to bring this great design started years ago to a close."

The Vatican spokesman recalled the "crucial importance" given to the first volume during the bishops' synod in Oct. 2008 on the "Word of God," when various speakers referred to it as "a model of theological and spiritual reading of the Gospels" and "a guide for believers to find - through the Gospels - the person of Jesus."

Fr. Lombardi hoped for a similar the result of the third volume, exclaiming, "Take us to meet Jesus!"

He concluded by noting that through the Pope’s dedication to the Church and the faithful, even during his "holidays," we can see that we are "at the heart" of his service.

According to Fr. Lombardi, during the first two weeks of his summer vacation, the Pope also revisited one of the volumes of his "Opera omnia," the collection of his life works which have begun to be published in German and Italian.

Pilgrimages of Europe: Medjugorje

Friday, July 23, 2010

Our God by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmon

Confession essential to being a priest, says Cardinal Meisner

The following comes from the CNA:

Cardinal Joachim Meisner spoke to a large group of priests last month about the important role of the sacrament of Confession for their ministry. Sin, he said, is the greatest obstacle in our relationship with God.

In its most recent edition, the Italian Catholic monthly 30 Giorni (30 Days) printed the Cardinal Archbishop of Cologne's address on the importance of Confession. He originally gave the talk to thousands of priests during the international convention held in Rome for the close of the Year for Priests this past June.

Cardinal Meisner pointed out in the talk that the neglect for the sacrament of Reconciliation is "one of the most tragic 'failures' that the Church has experienced in the second half of the 20th century," which, he said, translates into a "tremendous" spiritual loss.

He explained that when lay Catholics ask him what they can do to help their priests, he tells them "Go to them and confess!" because a priest that doesn't hear confessions "becomes a social worker of religious character."

By neglecting his duties as a confessor, the priest misses out on "the experience with the greatest pastoral result: collaborating," he explained. Through Confession and thanks also to the help of the priest, the sinner, he said, "leaves the confessional newly sanctified.

"In the confessional the priest can penetrate into the hearts of many people and from this they get impulse, encouragement and inspiration for the very succession of Christ.

Cardinal Meisner told the group of priests at the convention that sin is "the greatest obstacle" to perceiving God through them and impedes His presence in their existence "and for this there is nothing more necessary than conversion ... "

"It's about, to say it briefly, the sacrament of Penance."

The German cardinal added, "A priest that does not put himself frequently on one side or the other of the confessional screen experiences permanent damage to his soul and to his mission."

In closing, Cardinal Meisner stated that Confession contributes to the priestly identity and grants the priest "access to a life where he can think of nothing else other than God."

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lead Me by Sanctus Real

Sainthood cause of ‘Rosary priest’ proceeds to Rome

The following comes from the Catholic Culture site:

The Archdiocese of Baltimore on July 20 concluded the diocesan phase of the canonization cause of Father Patrick Peyton (1909-1992), the “Rosary priest” famous for the adage, “The family that prays together stays together.” In compiling the 16,000-page report, investigators interviewed 80 witnesses, including Dolores Hope and actor Joseph Campanella.

Salesians Affirm: Soccer Needs a Patron

The following comes from

In the wake of the FIFA World Cup, which ended July 11, it has been pointed out that soccer as a sport lacks a patron.

Journalist Albert Christian Sellner suggested in the Austrian paper, "Der Standard," that St. John Bosco would be a good candidate for the role.

Sellner noted that in the international soccer tournament, even though FIFA prohibited the use of religious symbols and gestures, many athletes were seen publicly expressing their faith.

He pointed out that Diego Maradona, manager of the Argentine national team, was often seen with his rosary as the games were being played.

The Salesian News Agency picked up on this proposal to have Don Bosco, founder of the congregation, named as the patron of soccer.

In a July 13 article, it noted that St. John Bosco is associated with the characteristics of soccer: "youth, friendship, artistic skill and celebration."

It affirmed that the saint often "roamed the streets of the city looking for boys and a suitable place to gather them together, demonstrating all his own personal skills in games, artistry and creativity which helped him in his mission of education."

Thus, as Sellner stated, "At his death over 200,000 youngsters had enjoyed the benefits of his friendship."

The journalist affirmed that Benedict XVI "would have the chance of making a mark in the world of soccer" by proclaiming Don Bosco as its patron.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Chicken Fried by Zac Brown Band

Holy Land: Path in Between

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Oh The Glory Of It All by David Crowder Band

The Prophet Elijah

Monday, July 19, 2010

Free by Zac Brown Band

Pope Benedict: Summer is a time to re-focus on the Word of God

The following comes from the CNA:

Before Sunday's Angelus prayer from the intimate courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the need to listen to the Word of God. As Mary does in Sunday's Gospel, we must learn to choose the "best portion" in our relationship with the Lord.

The small inner square of the apostolic was bustling with people at noon on Sunday, taken over by a group of Spaniards promoting the canonization cause for a young man killed in the Civil War and an especially vocal group of young Salesians from Poland called the "Bosco Team."

During his pre-Angelus catechesis, Holy Father noted that with the arrival of summer comes vacation time and, thus, a "favorable moment" to bring our focus back to what is most important in life: "listening to the Word of the Lord." We are reminded of this, he said, in Sunday's Gospel reading, which is centered around Jesus' visit to Mary and Martha.

The sisters host Jesus in their home, Pope Benedict XVI recalled, Mary sitting at his feet and listening to him and Martha occupying herself with serving the "exceptional" guest.

We can almost see the scene, said the Pope, "one sister who moves about busily, and the other entranced by the presence of the Teacher and by his words."

Martha scolds Mary for not assisting with the duties of serving and enlists Jesus' help to get her sister to give her a hand. Reflecting on this scene, the Pope exclaimed, "Martha wishes to teach the Teacher!"

And, instead, pointed out Benedict XVI, Jesus says with affection, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled over many things. And yet only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the best portion, and it shall not be taken away from her."

On this, the Pope explained that "The word of Christ is very clear: no contempt for the active life, none either for generous hospitality; but a clear call back to the fact that the only truly necessary thing is another: listening to the Word of the Lord; and the Lord in that moment is there, present in the Person of Jesus!"

Turning to the meaning for today, he observed that "Everything else will pass and will be taken from us, but the Word of God is eternal and gives meaning to our daily activity."

The reading from St. Luke, then, applies to our vacation time "because it recalls the fact that the human person must work, commit himself to the domestic and professional occupations, but before everything he needs God, who is the interior light of Love and Truth," said Pope Benedict.

"Without love, even the most important activities lose their value, and they don't give (us) joy. Without a profound meaning, all of our doing is reduced to sterile and disordered activism. And who gives us Love and Truth if not Jesus Christ?

"Let's learn then, brothers and sisters," he concluded, "to help each other, to collaborate, but first still to together choose the best part, which is and will always be our greatest inheritance."

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Smile by Uncle Kracker

Raphael tapestries travel to London for the pope's visit

Tapestries by Raphael that decorate the bottom of the wall of the Sistine Chapel will travel to London for Benedict XVI's visit to the United Kingdom from September 16 to 19.

Building a Family-Friendly Society

The following comes from Zenit:

Marking the July 10 feast of one of the Church's beatified married couples -- the parents of St. Thérèse -- the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family outlined two projects aimed at building a family-friendly society.

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli celebrated the feast of Blesseds Louis Martin and Marie-Zélie Guerin Martin with a Mass in the basilica of Alencon. In an address, he illustrated why the family is a resource for society, and highlighted three objectives the Church faces today.

He encouraged "witnessing, with the help of the grace of God, to the beauty of the family founded on marriage, that is on the will to give oneself and commit oneself without reservations." He invited building "a society friendly to the family" and urged belief "in the family as an irreplaceable factor of humanization and essential resource for society."

Recalling the World Meeting of Families held in Mexico City last year, and looking to the next meeting, scheduled for 2012 in Milan, the cardinal outlined priorities for his dicastery.

In the midst of their normal activities, he said they are working on two projects: one ecclesial and one secular.

Sharing notes

The first regards the family as a leader in evangelization, and best practices in family ministry.

Cardinal Antonelli explained that "numerous countries are the site of very beautiful and very fruitful pastoral experiences, giving value to families as responsible protagonists in day to day evangelization, in relations with peers, in social life and in the activities of the Church."

The council's project aims to collect and share "the most significant and appropriate experiences to inspire and stimulate others."

In this context, the Vatican official spoke of an upcoming conference to be held in Rome in November, with the participation of Benedict XVI in a prayer vigil as part of the event.

This will be an occasion to foster "communion and communication between the Churches," the cardinal said. Concretely, these experiences include programs to prepare couples for marriage and ministry in support of families.

Letting facts speak

The second project focuses on data collection to show the importance of the family for society.

Studies will look at how the traditional family "greatly benefits society, whereas the so-called new forms of family are harmful to it."

"This study and investigation are proposed to the episcopal conferences of certain countries chosen as samples in order to present their results at the 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan in 2012," the cardinal explained.

He said the objective will be to increase awareness in public opinion based on the "eloquence of the facts" and also to "encourage the laity and associations in other countries."

Holy models

Cardinal Antonelli alluded later to the testimony of the Martin family, affirming that today's families need "cultural and political support."

"Families founded on marriage offer society essential goods through the generation of new citizens and the increase of social virtues," he said. "Thus, they have a right to a just cultural, juridical and economic recognition."

Martha and Mary

Saturday, July 17, 2010

You by Britt Nicole

K-LOVE - Britt Nicole "You" LIVE from K-LOVE Radio on Vimeo.

Scripture is the story of God’s new creation, Archbishop Chaput tells Bible conference

The following comes from the CNA:

Scripture is “the one story that really matters” because it is the story of God’s “new creation,” Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has said in a lecture on Friday morning. Calling on Christians to live their lives “in Christ,” he said Catholics should allow God’s “new creation” to take root in themselves.

Speaking on Friday at the Catholic Bible Conference at St. Thomas More Parish in the Denver suburb of Littleton, the Archbishop of Denver said the story of Scripture is “the greatest story ever told – a story of God’s creative power, man’s betrayal, God’s redemptive love; and a new destiny for humanity greater and more beautiful than anything any of us can imagine. What man has violated -- including himself -- God makes new and better.”

Criticizing a kind of “tamed” Christianity, he explained: “There’s nothing tepid or routine about a real encounter with Sacred Scripture … God’s Word is profoundly good, but it is never ‘tame’.”

When Jesus said “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled” (Lk. 12:49), the archbishop commented, “he spoke not as an interesting moral counselor, but as the restless, incarnate Word of God, the Scriptures in flesh and blood, on fire with his Father’s mission of salvation.”

“Scripture is passionate; it’s a love story, and it can only be absorbed by giving it everything we have: our mind, our heart and our will. It’s the one story that really matters; the story of God’s love for humanity.

Explaining the “structure and meaning” of Scripture, he said the beginning, middle and end of Scripture correspond to man’s creation, fall and redemption. These “three key acts” embody “God’s plan for each of us.”

Because modern Christians are often “uneasy” with the biblical account of creation, Archbishop Chaput said they often miss its “important truths” about God’s goodness, the inherent goodness of Creation, and the centrality of man and woman.

“In Genesis, humanity crowns the created world as a final, perfected expression of God’s love,” the archbishop added.

He described the Book of Genesis as “a poetic account, not a newspaper report – but nonetheless a reliable expression of the truth about the history of humanity.” At some point, mankind’s first parents “turned away from God’s will” and wounded themselves and all subsequent generations.

“Every one of us is born a victim and carrier of that original wound. It separates us from God,” he explained, noting that only God can save mankind.

Archbishop Chaput emphasized the reality of sin and the foundational nature of original sin. Sin “defaces who God intended us to be,” but Jesus does more than erase our sins. He also “elevates us for sonship” and gives us “a share in God’s own nature.”

He noted the imagery of the “new creation” throughout the Gospel of St. John, saying this imagery climaxes with “the resurrected Jesus breathing the Holy Spirit upon the apostles, just as God breathed his Spirit into Adam.”

However, the archbishop explained, Jesus’ Resurrection is the central image, as according to St. Paul it “ushers in a new creation.” He then noted that the gospel authors’ naming of the day of the Resurrection as the first of the week “hints that the new creation has only just begun.”

“Those who believe in Jesus Christ, and conform their lives to him, take part in this new creation,” he taught the crowd of attendees, noting that baptism makes us “a new creation in Christ.”

Describing the Holy Spirit as “the key” and “the engine” of the new creation, the archbishop said Christians need to be “led by the Spirit.”

Turning to St. Paul's writings, the Denver prelate said we are presented with two roads: “the way of the flesh that surrenders to the disordered passions … or the way of obedience to the Holy Spirit, which allows God to take root in us and bear the fruits of love, joy and peace.”

This use of the word “fruit” by St. Paul is “very deliberate,” Archbishop Chaput said, explaining that fruit must be carefully cultivated. In baptism the Holy Spirit is “planted in our souls,” but, he said, receiving the sacrament is no reason for passivity because “ … the extent to which God’s new creation takes root in us depends upon our efforts, sustained over time, to help it grow.”

“We succeed as Christians only in the degree to which we allow God to graft us into the life of his Son,” he explained, noting each person’s “unique and unrepeatable role” in the salvation history of which God is the author.

The way for Christians to grow in their life in Christ is to create a daily time for prayer, silence, and Scripture study, as well as by worship, the archbishop taught.

This life also advances by “submitting our pride and our lives to our mater et magistra – the Church who is our ‘mother and teacher,’ precisely because she is also ecclesiam suam, ‘his Church,’ the Church Jesus Christ founded, guides and loves for the salvation of his people.”

Archbishop Chaput closed his talk by urging Catholics to “Live the life God calls you to right now … and in your witness, God will renew the face of the earth."

New cardinals likely to be named as older members reach retirement

Friday, July 16, 2010

God of Wonders by Third Day

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Soccer player who scored winning World Cup goal promises to make pilgrimage

The following comes from the CNA:

Spanish soccer player Andres Iniesta, who scored the winning goal during the World Cup final in South Africa, has promised to walk the Way of St. James, which leads to Santiago de Compostela.

The Way of St. James is a pilgrimage route that for centuries brought the faithful from across Europe to the city of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the saint are venerated.

According to the Spanish newspaper, Marca, months before the 2010 World Cup, the members of the Spanish team sent the newspaper sealed envelopes with the promises they would keep if they won the title.

Marca opened the envelopes after Spain’s historic victory on Sunday and found that Iniesta, along with Fernando Torres and Carlos Marchena said they would walk the Way of St. James.

Iniesta also revealed his promise in an interview prior to the World Cup. Speaking on Spanish television he said he would make the pilgrimage “somehow…I’ll do it however I have to!” His teammate Sergio Busquets, who was with him, made the same promise.

The Spanish media is reminding the players of their promise and although no plans have been officially made, reporters were convinced many fans would share the pilgrimage with them.

This year, Pope Benedict XVI will travel to the city for the Holy Year of St. James 2010, which is celebrated each year that July 25, the saint's feast, falls on a Sunday.

The next Year of St. James will be celebrated in 2021.

Below you can see a short video about the pilgrimage to Santiago:

Thy Word by Amy Grant

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

You are My All in All by Nicole Nordeman

500 year-old monstrance to be used at 2011 World Youth Day

The followinc comes from the CNA:

Pilgrims attending World Youth Day in Madrid next year will see a monstrance from the 15th century that is known as “the finest example of Spanish silverwork of all time.” The Monstrance of Arfe will used during a time of Eucharist adoration led by Pope Benedict XVI at the international youth gathering.

According to a press release, the monstrance “is popularly known for being used during the Corpus Christi procession each year in Toledo. It measures almost 9 feet tall and is made of gold and silver.”

Francisco Portela, professor of Art History at the Compultense University of Madrid, said the monstrance “is the finest example of Spanish silverwork of all time” and underscored that WYD would be a worthy occasion to bring the masterpiece to Madrid.

Juan Sanchez, the dean of the Cathedral of Toledo, where the monstrance is kept, said, “We were pleased to allow the monstrance to be used for WYD, knowing that it will be used for such a great purpose.”

The origin of Eucharistic monstrances dates back to the 13th century with the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi. They were developed primarily in Flanders and Germany, where the Arfe family had its origins.

The famous Monstrance of Arfe is the masterpiece of German silversmith Henry of Arfe, who finished it in 1524 after nine years of work.

The Eucharistic adoration led by the Holy Father will take place on August 20 at the Cuatro Vientos Airfield, where the vigil will be held on Saturday night. Young people will be able to “contemplate and admire a work of art that is unique in the world and is being used as its creators imagined, and they will rediscover the value of art in the liturgy,” organizers said.

Don Bosco, patron Saint of Soccer? Why not!

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The journalist Albert Christian Sellner in the pages of the Austrian daily “Der Standard” has proposed Don Bosco as the patron of football and suggested to the Pope that he should promote this recognition.

In the weekend edition of 3-4 July, Sellner notes that many footballers pray and look up to heaven as they are playing and yet there is no official patron for the profession. In spite of the fact that FIFA had forbidden the use of religious symbols and gestures most of the players don’t seem to take any notice and openly express their religious faith. Maradona, for example, during the World Cup has been seen with some rosary beads as the matches are played.

In fact many professional and social settings have their holy protector; St Isidor of Seville is the patron of the Internet, St Clare of Assisi of the television, St Joseph of Copertino of space travel , the Archangel Gabriel of telecommunications. Although some sports have patrons such as St Sebastian for athletics, football still lacks its holy protector.

National Teams could turn to saints from their own country such as England and St George, France and St Joan of Arc, Italy and the meek St Francis of Assisi, Slovakia and St Martin.

And who could be the patron of football? The reply of Sellner, and others involved is unequivocal: Don Bosco. The reason? The characteristics of football: youth, friendship, artistic skill and celebration are all associated with Don Bosco.

In his article Sellner gives a short biographical sketch of the saint from Turin mentioning how he roamed the streets of the city looking for boys and a suitable place to gather them together, demonstrating all his own personal skills in games, artistry and creativity which helped him in his mission of education. “At his death over 200 thousand youngsters had enjoyed the benefits of his friendship”.

Sellner gets to the point. As John Paul II declared Don Bosco “Father and Teacher of Youth,” “Benedict XVI would have the chance of making a mark in the world of football by proclaiming Don Bosco patron of football.”

It was a Salesian who brought to the attention of the ANS Office the article in the Austrian daily with a liberal slant – Fr Bernahard Maier chaplain to the Austrian Olympic and Para-olympic squads. Sellner’s suggestion recognises the great contribution Don Bosco and his Salesians have made to games and sport as occasions for education and human development, emphasising their value in bringing people together over the competitive.

We hope to see further developments …

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Today Is the 93rd Anniversary of the July 13 Secret of Fatima

It has been 93 years since the Fatima secrets were given to the three young seers. The following comes from Inside the Vatican:

Ninety-three years ago today, on July 13, 1917 -- precisely when Lenin was beginning to foment the Russian revolution in Petrograd (see -- three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal, for the third time in three months on the 13th of the month (May 13, June 13, July 13), saw a Lady appear before them in the air, an apparition, and heard her speak a message.

It was about noon.

Such was the origin of the "secret" of Fatima -- of three secrets, to be precise.

At that moment, in mid-1917, Europe was, for all intents and purposes, committing a type of suicide. World War I was three years old. Hundred of thousands of young men were lined up in trenches on the Western front, and in some battles, like Verdun, hundreds of thousands were killed in a matter of hours, as lines of human flesh surged forward, were mowed down, and surged forward again -- in vain.

In the West, there was stalemate.

In the East, the Russians changed their government, pulled out of the war, and the Germans, essentially, won.

In those months in the middle of 1917, the civilization that had once been called "Christendom" energetically sculpted its own tombstone. (We are putting the finishing touches on that work in our own time.)

Wherever there had been a Christian government, a Christian legislation, a Christian ethos, a Christian world, it was being dismantled.

In central Europe, the Catholic Hapsburg government of Austria-Hungary, heir of the Holy Roman Empire with roots deep in the middle ages, was overthrown. The Emperor Karl and his wife were exiled to the island of Madeira, and the modern, secular states of Austria and Hungary were born.

In Russia, once called "Holy Russia," the Romanovs were overthrown by Lenin, and communism became the official religion of the state, dogmatically atheistic, and the Russian Orthodox Church went into eclipse, fiercely persecuted. The new rulers turned churches into latrines.

In Germany, after the war, the Weimar Republic replaced the rule of the Protestant Hohenzollern Kaiser, and shortly thereafter the National Socialists came on the scene, while in England, the Anglican monarchs, heads of the Church, increasingly gave way to Parliament as Britain too grew ever more secularized.

The three children of Fatima must have dimly conceived of these events, as their elders and parish pastors must have spoken of the terrible war, and of the overthrow of traditional values which was occurring everywhere, and even all around them, in Portugal.

Read more here!

Everlasting God by Lincoln Brewster

Ministering in a Nation Without God

The following comes from the site:

Mosques and churches were forcibly closed in Albania in 1967; religious practice wasn't allowed again for almost a quarter of a century. In fact, Albania is known as the world's first atheist state.

Today in post-Communist Albania, it's hard to estimate how many Catholics are among the nation's 3.6 million people -- perhaps around 10%, with another 20% being Orthodox.

To this scenario journeys Dr. Anna Maria Doro, a member of the Catholic lay Community of Sant'Egidio. She's been helping in Albania for 10 years.

In this interview given to the television program "Where God Weeps" of the Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN) in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need, Doro gives an inside look at Albania and how it's changed and continues changing.

Q: What struck you the most when you first went to Albania? What touched you personally?

Doro: What touched me was the difference between the two countries [Italy and Albania]. It is very near Italy and only 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Port of Brindisi to the port in Vlore in Albania.

Albania had not changed -- it was something like a hundred years ago: very few cars on the streets, bad streets and shortages of electricity. The life of the people is linked to a very archaic agricultural system and many shepherds. But what touched me was the warmth of the people. The Albanians are very welcoming toward foreigners. Hospitality is highly valued and even if they are in a difficult situation, they share what they have with their guests.

Q: If I read correctly, there was an electric fence that went around the country?

Doro: There was a kind of a fence, for example along the border with Yugoslavia surrounding the lake. There are no trees on the border to this day. The trees were all cut in order to prevent the people from leaving the country. To leave the country was forbidden and the people who were caught were executed and their family prosecuted. I met people who could not finish their studies because a distant cousin tried to escape.

Even movement within the country was forbidden so people in the mountains, who were economically deprived, were forbidden from migrating to the urban areas because it was a privilege to live in the city, which was accorded to the loyal members of the regime. There was a total cultural isolation and the people were forbidden from listening to foreign news and music and as a consequence, the people were unaware of events in the outside world during that period and they were fed with a distorted view of the outside world.

Q: The attack on the Church was terrible; persecution was hard. What examples can you give us of how this attack on the Church occurred?

Doro: They started with the killing of about 60 priests and many nuns and arresting all of the priests. There was a suppression of religious orders and the closure of Catholic schools. I met a Stigmatine sister in Shkoder. Their convent was closed. There were about 90 of them. They went back to their homes and continued to be nuns and people brought children to them to be baptized in secret. Some of these sisters were novices and they waited and could only wear their religious habits again in 1991 when they were in their 70s.

Q: You are a medical doctor. You've been working in Albania since 1995 and you are going as a volunteer that is, you go on your holidays to Albania, you give 15 days and in fact you are going to be leaving very soon? What medical challenges do you see? You are working with children. What challenges do you see in the medical structure and infrastructure in Albania?

Doro: The Sant'Egidio Community helps particularly in the health and educational sectors. The health sector is ill-equipped like most of the public sectors in Albania. So we assist with donations for medicine and health equipment for hospitals. And particularly in the north, which is the poorest part of the country, we are supporting 14 pediatric clinics especially to help in the fight against childhood malnutrition. Since 1991 the economic situation in Albania has improved of course, but there are still plenty of needs in the health sector and people are still suffering. The infrastructure is lacking and there are still shortages in electricity and this is very difficult for the people.

Q: There somehow seems to be silence about the country from the international community. Do you feel this and why?

Doro: For 40 years it was impossible to know anything about Albania. Now, the situation surely is different. From a general point of view, I would say, that Albanians are very interested about other countries and languages but there is no reciprocity among the Western Europeans and the U.S.. The Italians, for example are misinformed about Albania. Their perception is based on the first Albanians they encountered in 1991: poor refugees. Now the situation is different. The Albanian emigrates overseas should assist in changing the perception by the international community and through tourism. There are many wonderful sites in Albania.

Q: How does the Church work in this reconstruction effort?

Doro: The Church has done very important work in Albania. It aided in the reconstruction of the society in terms of human development and in the communication of the Gospel. This started initially in the beginning especially with the aid of the universal Church. Many missionaries -- priest and nuns -- came from Italy, Kosovo, Croatia, India, the Philippines and Germany. They help to rebuild the churches, schools and clinics. In the beginning the Church was forced to become a proxy administrator because the state was non-existent or ineffective. I think that the Church is a very important point of reference not just for Catholics but for everyone including those without a clear religious identity because the Church is a witness of Christian love which is free of charge -- compassion and love, which is uncommon in that society.

Q: Is the Church highly trusted by the people because it lived with the people during their difficult times, perhaps more than the state?

Doro: Yes, it is very trusted and respected not only by the state but by the other religions because the Church helps everyone without distinction and the people recognize this.

Q: How is the relationship between the Muslims and Catholics in Albania? It seems to be quite harmonious?

Doro: Yes it is up to now. Catholics and Muslims co-exist. Catholics would visit the Muslims during their feasts and vice versa. Now there are some signs of fraying in the relationships because of the events internationally that are reflected as well in Albania, but generally the relationship is quite good and there are a lot of intermarriages.

* * *

This interview was conducted by Mark Riedemann for “Where God Weeps," a weekly TV & radio show produced by Catholic Radio & Television Network in conjunction with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

Fr. Robert Barron on BP Oil Spill

Monday, July 12, 2010

What Life Would Be Like by Big Daddy Weave

Pope Benedict urges Christians to live with Christ's logic of charity

The following comes from the CNA:

In his first Angelus prayer from the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father recalled the parable of the Good Samaritan. He said that the story from Luke's Gospel should lead us to change our thinking and living to Christ's logic, that of charity.

Beginning his pre-Angelus words to the faithful, the Pope first thanked God for giving him the possibility to enjoy a time of rest.

He then reflected on the question posed to Jesus by the scholar of the law who asked in today's Gospel reading what he should do to inherit eternal life. The Holy Father pointed out that, since the Lord knew the man was an expert in Sacred Scriptures, He invited the doctor to respond to the question himself.

The expert, "in fact, formulates (the answer) perfectly," said the Pope, "citing the two principal commandments: to love God with all your heart, all your mind and all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself."

And when Jesus responds to the scholar's question, "And who is my neighbor?," the Pope said, he does so "with the famous parable of the 'good Samaritan,' to indicate that it is up to us to be a 'neighbor' to whoever is in need of help."

This parable "should lead us to transform our mentality according to the logic of Christ, which is the logic of charity: God is love and worshiping him means serving our brothers with sincere and generous love," he explained.

The logic of Christ offers us a standard that flows from "the universality of love” which “turns attention to the needy person encountered 'by chance,' whoever they may be," the Pope said, citing his 2005 encyclical Deus Caritas Est.” "Along with this universal rule, there is also a specifically ecclesial responsibility: that 'in the Church herself, as a family, no member should suffer through being in need'.”

"The Christian plan," he concluded, "learned from the teaching of Jesus, is "a heart that sees" where there is need of love and acts consequently."

Before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father remembered the Feast of St. Benedict of Nursia, who was made a patron of Europe in 1964 by Pope Paul VI. Immediately after pronouncing the name of the saint, the packed square erupted in applause with a shout of "Congratulations!" for the Pope's "name day."