Monday, January 31, 2011

How Great is Our God by Chris Tomlin

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Don Bosco's Prayer to Mary, Help of Christians

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christian,

how sweet it is to come to your feet
imploring your perpetual help.

If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children, 

how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me?

Grant then to me, I implore you, 

your perpetual help in all my necessities, 
in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations.

I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering. 

Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners.

Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life. 

Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians,

that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Children of God by Third Day

Pope Benedict: Joan of Arc's fearless witness invites greater love for Christ and the Church

The following comes from the CNA:

St. Joan of Arc was united in prayer to Christ even at the end of her short life, when she yelled his name while being burned at the stake, the Pope said, holding her up as a model of strength.

Pope Benedict XVI shared the story of St. Joan of Arc and her heroic sanctity at the general audience in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall on Jan. 26. More than 3,000 people were gathered in the auditorium for the occasion.

She was just 19 years old when she was sentenced to death, but the French teenager was one of the "strong women" at the end of the Middle Ages, "who fearlessly brought the splendid light of the Gospel into the complex events of history," said the Pope.

Born to a peasant family in a time of war between England and France, Joan brought herself to the attention of an important nobleman at the time. She was just 17, but hoped to achieve peace by imploring a settlement between the two Christian nations in the name of Jesus.

The nobleman, convinced of her Christian goodwill by local theologians, allowed her to try. When her efforts failed she soon found herself at the head of an army defending the French city of Orleans.

The Pope recalled that she lived among the troops for a year, evangelizing them with her strong witness of faith, until her capture by enemy forces.

She was put on trial by ecclesiastical judges and condemned to death. As Joan's life was taken on that day in 1431, her last moments were spent invoking the name of Jesus aloud.

"The Name of Jesus invoked by this saint in the last instants of her earthly life was like the continual breath of her soul ... the center of her entire life," said Benedict XVI.

"(She) understood that Love embraces all things of God and man, of heaven and earth, of the Church and the world."

Joan knew that loving Christ was obeying Him and she lived in constant dialogue with Him, said the Pope.

The saint's will to liberate her countrymen "was an act of human justice, which Joan performed in charity, for love of Jesus," said the Pope. This example of sanctity is especially relevant as a "beautiful example" for laity who are involved in politics today, he added.

She saw the reality of the Christ's Church in heaven and that on earth, said the Pope. Her words that "Our Lord and the Church are one ... takes on a truly heroic aspect in the context of the trial, in the face of her judges, men of the Church who persecuted and condemned her."

"In the Love of Jesus," recalled the Pope, "Joan finds the strength to love the Church up to the end, even in the moment of condemnation."

She was exonerated 25 years later by Pope Callixtus III and canonized in 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.

Pope Benedict XVI noted a close connection between Carmelite St. Therese of Lisieux, France and the medieval saint. St. Therese "felt very close to Joan, living in the heart of the Church and participating in the suffering of Christ for the salvation of the world," despite her very different circumstances in life as a cloistered nun.

"With her shining witness St. Joan of Arc invites us to the highest degree of Christian life, making prayer the 'conducting wire' of our days, having complete trust in fulfilling the will of God whatever it may be, living in charity without favoritism, without limitations and finding in the love of Jesus, as she did, a profound love for the Church."

Friday, January 28, 2011

Holy Holy Holy Lord God Almighty .. [Agnus Dei] by Michael W. Smith

Coming soon: There Be Dragons

 It looks like it will be very good. I found this at Eric Sammons site.

There Be Dragons is an upcoming historical epic written and directed by Roland Joffé, a British filmmaker well known for directing The Mission and The Killing Fields. It is a drama set during the Spanish Civil War which features themes such as betrayal, love and hatred, forgiveness, friendship, and finding meaning in everyday life. The film, scheduled to be released in Spring 2011, includes the story of revolutionary soldiers, a journalist, his father, and a real life priest, St. Josemaría Escrivá, a recent Roman Catholic saint and founder of Opus Dei, who has been called the saint of ordinary life.

Here is the official movie site.

Life is Good: March for Life 2011

I found this nice video at the Anchoress site.  Check out the video... and check out the site!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Subscribe Now!

I am stealing this idea from the Anchoress, but I think it is a very good one:
Let's be friends!
It never occurs to me to push the RSS feeds, but after reading this, I realize I probably should!
Then you can get me in your email box, all day long…gosh, that sounds like a threat more than a promise!
Anyhow, you can subscribe to this site by putting your email address into the little box that says “Subscribe!” in the right hand sidebar.  You can also become a Google Friend and join in that number at Google connect to the right!
Let's be friends y'all!

Of God's and Men: The Monks of Tibhirine

I hope this gets some wide circulation!  It is based on the book The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love and Terror in Algeria (St. Martin's Press). 

The Monks of Tibhirine is the true story of Christians willing to die serving a Muslim flock during the political nightmare that unfolds in Algeria during the 1990s. The decapitation of seven French Trappists kidnapped from their monastery in the village of Tibhirine provides the thread for this real life drama of sacrificial love-of Christians who put their lives at risk for their Muslim friends, and Muslims who risk death for Christians.

Thanks Deacon Greg for putting this up today!  I am really looking forward to seeing this film!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Praise the Father, Praise the Son by Chris Tomlin

Pope Benedict on Social Communications

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The digital world, everything that has to do with information technology, social networks and the use of “gadgets” is always under threat from behaviour which is less than “honest” and truthful, a use which is “dehumanised”; and this is one of the concerns expressed by the Holy Father Benedict XVI in the message which every year sets the scene for the World Day of Social Communications which this year reaches its 45th anniversary.

The subject for the Day this year “Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age”, highlights the concern not only of the Church but of all people interested in the technological means which in recent years have become an integral part of our daily life in having a human face: those means which enable the establishment of real social networks, but which in spite of their capacity for bringing people together do not in themselves ensure any profound relationship between people.

Adding names to a list of “personal friends” does not demonstrate our ability to make healthy, positive and constructive friendships – nor does it make it impossible –; it depends, as with all technologies, on the use one makes of these means.

The Pope’s insistence that people use well these “digital blessings” is very relevant, since the temptation to use them in a superficial and less than human manner is always present.

Often in the people who make use of the virtual spaces there is a split between their faith and the way they behave on line. When they find themselves in front of a screen which gives them access to the Internet they easily adopt attitudes which are hardly in keeping with the message of the Gospel and fidelity to the Truth. They behave in ways which can lead to “alternative lives” or to living in a world far removed from reality, that which requires a commitment and an effort to live with other people.

Young people, precisely because they are at home in the digital world, and for whom any kind of technology can easily become an integral part of life, are in this context the very ones who can be a humanising and evangelising presence in the “digital arena” whenever they accept the challenge put to them by Benedict XVI: to make use of all these means for good, their own and that of their peers, which is also the invitation presented again by the message of this year.

But this challenge for the young brings with it another, equally serious, for adults. To the extent that parents, teachers and those who shape public opinion, Catholics or not, succeed in putting before young people and children everything possible that is good and honest through technology (and this depends on good example), the dark clouds of lies and falsehood which in many cases cover the digital world could be dispersed and the tremendous potential for good together with its important role in the building of the Kingdom would come clearly into view.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pope Benedict: Many still don’t know Christ or have "forgotten" him

The following comes from the Asia News site:

The proclamation of the Gospel "affects everyone, always and everywhere" and, nowadays, "we cannot be content when we consider that, after two thousand years, there are still peoples who do not know Christ" , and "the prevailing relativism" is increasing the number of those who think and live "as if God did not exist." This, the warning that Benedict XVI addressed to "all the baptized" to remember Christ’s mandate to “go forth and proclaim ", on the occasion of World Mission Day, celebrated on Oct. 23, ahead of which his message was published today.

Entitled "As the Father has sent me, so I send you" (Jn 20:21), the Papal document begins stating that "the ceaseless proclamation of the Gospel also revitalises the Church, her fervour, her apostolic spirit; it renews her pastoral methods so that they may be ever more suited to new situations – also those that require a new evangelization – and animated by missionary thrust: “Missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others! It is in commitment to the Church's universal mission that the new evangelization of Christian peoples will find inspiration and support” (JOHN PAUL II, Enc. Redemptoris Missio, 2).

"This objective - continues the message - is constantly renewed by the celebration of the liturgy, particularly by the celebration of the Eucharist, which always ends by reiterating the risen Jesus’ command to the Apostles: “Go…” (Mt 28:19). The Liturgy is always a call ‘from the world’ and a new sending ‘into the world’ to bear witness to what one has experienced: the salvific power of the Word of God, the salvific power of Christ’s Paschal Mystery. All those who have met the risen Lord have felt the need to proclaim him to others, as did the two disciples on the road to Emmaus".

“The beneficiaries of the Gospel proclamation are all peoples. The Church “is missionary by her very nature, since it is from the mission of the Son and the mission of the Holy Spirit that she draws her origin, in accordance with the decree of God the Father” (ECUM. COUNCIL VATICAN II, Decr. Ad Gentes, 2). This is “the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize” (PAUL VI, Ap. Ex. Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14). Consequently, she can never withdraw into herself. She is rooted in particular places in order to go beyond them. Her action, in obedience to Christ’s command and under the influence of his grace and his love, becomes fully and truly present to all men and women and to all peoples in order to lead them to faith in Christ (cf. Ad Gentes, 5).

This task has not lost any of its urgency. Indeed alomgside “peoples who do not know Christ and have not yet heard his Message of salvation”, “there is an ever greater number of people who, although having received the proclamation of the Gospel, have forgotten it or abandoned it and no longer associate with the Church; and many sectors, even in traditionally Christian societies are today reluctant to open to the word of faith. Cultures are changing, nourished also by globalisation, by movements of thought and by the prevailing relativism, a change that leads to a mentality and a life-style that disregard the gospel Message, as if God did not exist, and that exalt the search for well-being, easy money, a career and success as the aim of life, even to the detriment of moral values”.

It is the “joint responsibility of all” because "the Gospel is not an exclusive possession of those who have received it, but it is a gift to be shared, good news to be passed on to others. And this gift-commitment is entrusted not only to some, but to all the baptised". "All activities are also involved in this. The Church’s attention and cooperation in missionary activity in the world cannot be limited to some particular moments or occasions, nor can they be considered as one of many pastoral activities: the Church’s missionary dimension is essential; therefore it must always be kept in mind. It is important that both individual baptised persons and ecclesial communities should be involved not only spasmodically and occasionally in mission, but constantly, as a way of Christian life. Mission Day is not an isolated moment in the year, but a precious occasion for pausing to reflect on whether and how we respond to the missionary vocation: an essential response for the life of the Church."

Benedict XVI ends by highlighting “evangelization is a complex process and includes various elements. Among these, in missionary animation particular attention has always been given to solidarity. This is also one of the objectives of World Mission Day, which, through the Pontifical Mission Societies, appeals for help to carry out evangelizing activities in mission territories. It involves supporting institutions necessary for establishing and consolidating the Church through catechists, seminaries, priests; and also giving one’s own contribution to improve the living conditions of people in nations where poverty, malnutrition, above all infantile malnutrition, diseases, lack of health care services and education are most serious. This, too, is part of the Church’s mission. Proclaiming the Gospel she takes human life to heart in the fullest sense. It is unacceptable, the Servant of God Paul VI declared, that in evangelization the themes of human promotion, justice, liberation from every form of oppression, obv iously with respect for the autonomy of the political sphere, should be neglected. To ignore the temporal problems of humanity would be “to forget the lesson which comes to us from the Gospel concerning love of our neighbour who is suffering and in need” (Ap. Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, 31.34); it would be inconsistent with the behaviour of Jesus, who “went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness” (Mt 9:35)”.

"Therefore through co-responsible participation in the Church’s mission, the Christian becomes a builder of communion, of peace and of the solidarity that Christ has given us, and he or she collaborates in fulfilling God’s plan of salvation for all humanity. The challenges it meets call Christians to journey together with others, and mission is an integral part of this journey with all. In it, albeit in clay pots, we bring our Christian vocation, the priceless treasure of the Gospel, the living witness to Jesus dead and risen, met and believed in the Church."

March for Life and the Media Malpractice

I found this at the Anchoress site. Nothing the mainstream media does surprises me anymore.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ronald Reagan on God's Greatest Gift

Carmelite Nuns Reflect on their Vocations

Last March, four Carmelite nuns left their cloister -- where they had lived for 60 years or more -- and moved into a Sisters of Mercy convent to allow the monastery to be renovated. The sisters reflect on their vows and life behind the walls.

You can read the whole story here.

For Every Unborn Life

A Prayer for the Unborn by Pope Benedict XVI:

Lord Jesus,
You who faithfully visit and fulfill with your Presence
the Church and the history of men;
You who in the miraculous Sacrament of your Body and Blood
render us participants in divine Life
and allow us a foretaste of the joy of eternal Life;
We adore and bless you.

Prostrated before You, source and lover of Life,
truly present and alive among us, we beg you.

Reawaken in us respect for every unborn life,
make us capable of seeing in the fruit of the maternal womb
the miraculous work of the Creator,
open our hearts to generously welcoming every child
that comes into life.

Bless all families,
sanctify the union of spouses,
render fruitful their love.

Accompany the choices of legislative assemblies
with the light of your Spirit,
so that peoples and nations may recognize and respect
the sacred nature of life, of every human life.

Guide the work of scientists and doctors,
so that all progress contributes to the integral well-being of the person, and no one endures suppression or injustice.

Give creative charity to administrators and economists,
so they may realize and promote sufficient conditions
so that young families can serenely embrace
the birth of new children.

Console the married couples who suffer
because they are unable to have children
and in Your goodness provide for them.

Teach us all to care for orphaned or abandoned children,
so they may experience the warmth of your Charity,
the consolation of your divine Heart.

Together with Mary, Your Mother, the great believer,
in whose womb you took on our human nature,
we wait to receive from You, our Only True Good and Savior,
the strength to love and serve life,
in anticipation of living forever in You,
in communion with the Blessed Trinity.

Pope Benedict: "Conversion to Christ brings the whole Church to unity"

Divisions among Christians exist today as they did in St. Paul's time and there continues to be a single source of healing – repenting and turning to Christ – said the Pope on Sunday.

As he did the week prior at the general audience, Pope Benedict XVI again took up the theme of Christian unity during his Jan. 23 address before the Angelus prayer.

The subject is pertinent as the annual, global celebration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity continues. Observed from Jan. 18-25, this year's Christian unity week focuses on the Acts of the Apostles and the very first Christian community in Jerusalem.

The Geneva, Switzerland-based World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Vatican Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity partnered with the churches of Jerusalem to come up with the theme and materials to be used during the week.

In his address, Pope Benedict said its origins in Jerusalem is "meaningful." The service of Christians in the Holy Land and the Middle East amid their trials, he said, is "even more precious" considering their testimony which has marked by the sacrifice of human lives.

In this context, the "cues for reflection" offered by the Christian communities there are received with "joyfully," while they offer the world an opportunity join together with them as a sign of communion, he said.

The Pope went on to say that Christians must base their lives on the four elements that make them a "sign and instrument of the intimate union with God and of unity among men in the world."

These four are listening to the God's Word transmitted through the strong Tradition of the Church, fraternal communion, the Eucharist and prayer.

According to the materials for study and prayer offered by the WCC and the Vatican's council for Christian unity, they are "the pillars of the life of the church, and of its unity."

Pope Benedict explained that only by "remaining firmly united to Christ, can the Church fulfill her mission effectively, despite the limits and the faults of her members, in spite of division."

He pointed out that Christian division was already evident in the first century when St. Paul saw discord in the Christian community of the Corinthians. The second reading on Sunday is a reminder to this, he said.

Paul wrote to them, "I urge you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree in what you say, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and in the same purpose."

Knowing of the community's problems, he asked them rhetorically, "Is Christ divided?"

In doing so, said Pope Benedict, Paul "asserts that every division in the Church is an offense to Christ; and, at the same time, that it is always in Him, the only Chief and Lord, that we can unite ourselves again, because of the inexhaustible force of his grace."

This is where the call, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," from Sunday's Gospel comes in, said the Pope.

"The serious commitment of conversion to Christ is the way that leads the Church ... to full visible unity," he said. He pointed to the increasing number of ecumenical encounters as a sign of this.

There are also ecumenical delegations present in Rome at the moment as well as theological dialogue set to pick up on Jan. 23 between the Catholic and Ancient Oriental Churches, he added.

Before praying the Angelus, he prayed that Mary, "Mother of the Church, always accompany us on this path."

The Pope will conclude the observation of the Week of Prayer with vespers at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-walls on the feast of St. Paul's conversion on Jan. 25.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Gone Country by Alan Jackson

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver

Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB: encourages prudence in discussing possible second John Paul II miracle

Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB speaks about the possible second miracle of Pope John Paul II.  This comes from the CNA:

The prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, has cautioned against rushing to attribute a possible second miracle to John Paul II.

The cardinal refused to confirm the accuracy of reports of a second miracle, but stated, “only at the end, when the investigation is over, will it be appropriate to speak about it.”

A second miracle would open the door to his canonization.

Cardinal Amato explained in a Jan. 15 interview with L’Osservatore Romano that the congregation has advised the postulator of the late Pope’s cause for canonization to “avoid allowing the second miracle to have the same overexposure in the media as the miracle for his beatification.”

“Exposing the doctors and experts to any kind of conditioning factor must be avoided,” he said.

Cardinal Amato also referred to the curing of a French religious sister, Marie Simon-Pierre, which has been validated as a miracle attributed to John Paul II. The miracle opened the way to his upcoming beatification on May 1.

Sister Marie was suffering from Parkinson’s, the same disease that afflicted John Paul II. “John Paul II’s death had a great impact on Sister Marie, as he died from the same disease she had. And she thought perhaps the deceased Pope could help her, since he knew the seriousness of the illness,” the cardinal explained.

Asked about the canonization of John Paul II, Cardinal Amato said it will take place only if devotion to the late Pontiff takes root in Catholics. “In other words, if the people appeal to the Servant of God to receive graces,” he explained.

Everything involved in the process must be verified, as rushing to judgment “does not bear good fruit,” he added.

Cardinal Amato said that despite the speed with which John Paul II’s cause has moved forward, it has not occurred “at the expense of accuracy.” The recognition of the miracle “took place in a linear fashion, according to the stages and dynamics of this process, with guidance from specialists and scientists from the medical team.” He noted that the experts worked independently of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints.

The cardinal then praised Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the postulator of the cause, noting that his work “is extremely serious and must be carried out accurately.”

Friday, January 21, 2011

Welcome Home by Michael W. Smith

K-LOVE - Michael W Smith "Welcome Home" from K-LOVE Radio on Vimeo.

Archbishop-elect Savio Hon Tai-Fai, SDB: “a builder of bridges with China”

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

The Chinese Salesian archbishop-elect Savio Hon Tai-Fai, recently appointed by Pope Benedict XVI as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, assumed his new office on January 21. “I would like to be a builder of bridges with China,” he said.

In an interview with the Fides Agency, in connection with his new role he said: “I thank the Holy Father Benedict XVI for having chosen me and especially for the concern and love he shows for Asia and for China in particular. I would also like to thank Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Propaganda Fide Department, for having welcomed me with great joy and cordiality. I notice that within the Congregation the atmosphere is very good, and I am very happy about this: I will be able to work with the collaboration of very competent people.”

He also expressed his great desire concerning his role in the missionary department: “In this, my new and delicate role, I would like to be an instrument in building bridges with China. At the beginning of this task I am very excited, and I am also aware of the responsibility of this role which covers such a broad field: taking care of the pastoral life of over 1,000 ecclesiastical areas. I hope that the evangelization of the Church and the missionary work of this Congregation can be given a fresh impetus, especially with regard to those countries of ancient traditions and cultures, such as China and India.”

Pope John Paul II's Intense Prayer Life Was Sign of Holiness

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Running on Faith by Eric Clapton

Santa Maria de l'Estany Abbey, Spain

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2 Pillars of John Paul II's Holiness

The following comes from

The prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes says that Pope John Paul II's sanctity rested on two pillars: faith in the presence of God and a missionary spirit.

This was the conviction expressed by Cardinal Angelo Amato to L'Osservatore Romano, in an interview about the May 1 beatification of the Polish Pontiff.

He spoke of two essential attitudes embodied in John Paul II.

"The first is great faith in the presence of God in history, because the Incarnation is important, effective and conquers evil: The grace of the Eucharistic presence of the Lord overcomes all the barriers and anti-human regimes," the cardinal said. He recalled how the Polish Pope had to live through Nazi and Communist regimes, seeing "the implosion and destruction of both."

"The second attitude is his great missionary spirit," Cardinal Amato continued. "The Pope's journeys were true and proper missionary activity. He reached the confines of the earth to proclaim the Gospel of Christ."

Speedy but sure

The cardinal also commented on the course of the cause of beatification. He spoke of its quick progression, initiated when Benedict XVI "immediately granted the dispensation of the five years prescribed," so that the cause "began almost immediately after the death of John Paul II." It went on to proceed quickly, he said, because of "a sort of preferential passage: having made the exception, the cause was without a list of others waiting in front of it, so that it could proceed without the impediment of other procedures under way."

The Vatican official affirmed there was utmost care in the case, carried out with "great solicitude, great professionalism on the part of the postulation," so that on Dec. 19, 2009, Benedict XVI was able to sign the decree on the heroic virtues." Cardinal Amato added that the examination of the miracle "was studied with great care, I would say with fastidiousness, also because there was great media pressure about this."

"The doctors, whether French or Italian, in no way sped up the time, and subjected everything to in-depth examination," he affirmed. "We gave the same liberty to our medical consultation, so that the experts could proceed according to their conscience and their science."

Hence, the prefect declared, "The speed of the cause was not at the expense of accuracy and of the procedural course, or of professionalism in presenting the personage. After all, the reputation of sanctity was so widespread and established that our task was made easy."

Cardinal Amato suggested that the faithful did not exercise "pressure" but rather "support."

"The 'sensum fidelium' is what we call, in technical terms, the reputation of sanctity and the signs, which are indispensable for a cause," he explained.

"'Saint immediately' [what the crowds chanted as soon as the Pope died] is a good thing, but it must be 'sure saint,' because haste does not bear good fruits," Cardinal Amato added.

String of saints

The cardinal proposed that this first time for a Pontiff to beatify his predecessor in the last 10 centuries is a sign "of continuity, not only in the magisterium, but also in personal sanctification."

"However, in the last two centuries we have a series of Bishops of Rome whose sanctity has been recognized, even if in different degrees: Pius X, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I. Pontiffs who have passed the testimony not only of the magisterium and of the guidance of the Church, but also of the example of sanctification," he noted.

Asked about a personal memory of John Paul II, Cardinal Amato recounted his "great sense of friendship, of respect."

"He chose me as secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," the cardinal remembered. "I was ordained bishop by him on Jan. 6, 2003: There were 12 of us, the last to receive episcopal ordination from Pope Wojtyla. I met him every month, as secretary of the Doctrine of the Faith, as requested by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, who was my direct superior. And John Paul II listened for a long time, he always listened.

"The thing that struck me most was his capacity to listen. We spoke, he listened. And only later, when we saw one another again at lunch, would he make his observations. His desire to understand in-depth was evident."

George Weigel releases second part of John Paul II's biography

Author George Weigel has completed the last part of his story on Pope John Paul the Great!  I am reading this great book now!  I found this story at Catholic Fire:

The acclaimed biographer George Weigel has published the last part of his biography on John Paul II, The End and the Beginning. This book covers the last six years of the Pope's life and sheds light on his fight with communism based on new information from previously classified documents.

Spiritual Adoption

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph, I love you very much. I beg you to spare the life of [baby’s name] the unborn baby that I have spiritually adopted who is in danger of abortion.”
- Prayer of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pope, rabbi express pleasure over coming beatification of John Paul II

The following comes from the CNA:

In their own words, two old friends of John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Rabbi Elio Toaff of Rome, are both happy for the recognition of his life through his coming beatification.

On Jan. 14, Benedict XVI signed an official decree recognizing the holiness of his predecessor, a major step on the late-Pope's path to sainthood. On the same day, the Vatican announced that the beatification would be celebrated the Sunday after Easter, which is observed as Divine Mercy Sunday in the Catholic Church.

Since the announcement, excitement has been building and people from all over the globe such as his former personal secretary Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz and Knights of Columbus chief Carl Anderson have expressed their happiness.

Two especially important figures in the life of Venerable John Paul II have now added their voices to the chorus of praise being offered for their friend.

At the Angelus on Jan. 16, Pope Benedict XVI announced the news to people gathered in St. Peter's Square. "Dear brothers and sisters, as you know, next May 1 I will have the joy of proclaiming Venerable John Paul II, my loved predecessor, "Blessed."

The date, Divine Mercy Sunday, is "very significant” because it is at once a day proclaimed by John Paul II himself and also "the eve on which he finished his earthly life."

"All who knew him, all who esteemed and loved him," said the Pope, "cannot but rejoice with the Church for this event."

Speaking moments later in Polish, he told Poles that he shares in their joy over the chance to recognize their countryman. "This news was much awaited by all and, particularly, by you, for whom my venerable predecessor was a guide in faith, truth and liberty."

Benedict XVI hoped that they would undertake a "profound spiritual preparation" for the spring beatification.

Joining the Pope in expressing his happiness for the announcement was the retired Chief Rabbi of Rome, Elio Toaff.

According to Italy's La Stampa, the rabbi reacted to the news with joy. "Clearly the beatification is a fact internal to the Catholic Church," he said. "In any case, it is a recognition of a great Pope and a great man who I knew very well. And this cannot give me anything but pleasure."

Rabbi Toaff was the head of the Jewish community from 1951 – 2001, which coincided in large part with John Paul II's pontificate from 1978 - 2005.

In a report on Sunday morning, Vatican Radio recalled his brotherly relationship with the pontiff which began with a private meeting in Rome in 1981. John Paul II later made a historic visit by invitation of the rabbi to the Synagogue of Rome in April 1986, a big step in Jewish-Catholic relations in the city and in the world.

As Pope Benedict recalled in a message to the rabbi for his birthday last May, the two religious leaders shared a commitment to dialogue and a "sincere friendship."

St John de la Peña Abbey, Huesca, Spain

Monday, January 17, 2011

John Paul II Named World Youth Day Patron

The following comes from

A standing ovation greeted the news that Pope John Paul II has been named a patron of the next World Youth Day, which will take place Aug. 16-21 in Madrid.

Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, the Vatican dicastery in charge of World Youth Days, made this announcement on Friday to a group of over 230 delegates gathered in Madrid for the organization of the forthcoming event.

The announcement came shortly after the Vatican communiqué that John Paul II, who initiated the first youth days during his pontificate, will be beatified on May 1 by Benedict XVI.

The cardinal recalled how Karol Wojtyla regarded himself as a "friend of young people" and said he was very happy "to be able to communicate the news during this meeting of delegates."

The delegates, representing 84 countries and 57 ecclesial realities worldwide, held a four-day organizational meeting that ended Saturday outside Madrid.

Cardinal Ryłko presided over the meeting along with Archbishop Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid.

Auxiliary Bishop César Franco of Madrid, general coordinator of the 2011 World Youth Day, explained that John Paul II is added to the list of other patrons for the event: St. Isidore the Worker, St. Francis Xavier, St. John of the Cross, St. John of Avila, St. Rose of Lima and St. Rafael Arnaiz.

Decisive stage

Cardinal Ryłko, in a press conference about last week's gathering, stated that they are in "a decisive stage in the itinerary of spiritual, organizational and logistical preparation of Madrid's 2011 World Youth Day."

Later, to a group of volunteers, he stated, "It will be very important for many young people coming from all corners of the world to see your capacity for hospitality, your spirit of sacrifice during World Youth Day, at times in hidden tasks, but not because of that less important."

The cardinal added, "Don't say to your friends, 'You must come to World Youth Day,' but 'It is worthwhile!'"

Cardinal Rouco Varela noted the "lively, agile and dynamic" nature of the meeting, where delegates were given "firsthand information on their needs and expectations."

The meeting participants were given information on the various aspects of the event's organization: housing, maintenance, transportation, registration, visas and volunteer work.

They also visited the main venues for the event ceremonies: the Cuatro Vientos airfield, and the surroundings of Cibeles Square.

Barbara Koorbanally, a South African representative, mentioned several initiatives of the young people of her country in preparation for the event. For example, she noted that a replica of the World Youth Day Cross -- which has been going across Spain since September of 2009 -- is being taken throughout South Africa to prepare young people for the event in Madrid.

Tiago Oliveira, a delegate from Brazil, pointed out that young Brazilians "see in Spain a sister country, so they are very excited." Some 20,000 young people from this country are expected to attend the event.

A Discussion with William F. Buckley Jr.

Trooping the Colour

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Historic Church of the Diocese of Lafayette Burns

The Church of the Immaculate Conception in Washington was established in 1756. The church building destroyed Friday was built in 1856. The church predates the founding of St. Landry Parish.

The fire was reported at 9:43 a.m. Friday, and is believed to have started between 9:15 and 9:30. Three women who were cleaning the historic church reported seeing smoke coming from vents in the church. By 9:46, the church was engulfed in flames. The cause remains under investigation. No one was hurt.

I found this at the Opinionated Catholic.  Very, very sad news for the Church of South Louisiana.  Here is the story from the Advertiser:

Lisa Arnoth loaded her son into her car, but took a moment to gaze down the street toward the gutted remains of one of St. Landry Parish's oldest churches. Small fires still smoldered in the heap of charred wood and twisted metal, all that remained of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, a 155-year-old building that was the spiritual heart for many in Washington.

"I took my first Communion there, " Arnoth said. "I took catechism classes there. I was an altar girl. My grandfather and I used to go to Mass there every Saturday. He's gone now. There were a lot of memories in that Church, a lot of memories going down."
Fire raced through the church in minutes shortly before 10 a.m. Friday morning and quickly burned it to the ground, officials said. No one was hurt. On Friday, women who had finished cleaning the church earlier, said they saw smoke coming from vents in the building. However, the cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to District 3 Fire Chief Nick Vidrine.
Father Albert Nunez has served the congregation for more than eight years.
"As you can imagine, there are a lot of memories for the people here," he said. "The Church is its people. But there are a lot of memories."
Only a few hours before, congregants gathered for early morning Mass. Nunez said Mass would continue today as scheduled at nearby St. Joseph Hall on the campus.
"I feel a great sense of loss, but thank God no one was hurt."
Firefighters from Washington, Ville Platte, Opelousas and Leonvville battled the blaze. The Washington police, as well as St. Landry Parish deputies, were also at the scene.
Clara Darbonne, a euchasristic minister for the church, administers communion to Immaculate Conception's elderly shut-in parishioners. Everything seemed normal at the church as she set up for Saturday Mass, and then set out to make her rounds
"I can't believe I didn't see smoke or anything," she said. "I'm just thankful they got the tabernacle out and that no one was hurt."
For the whole story please click here.

Pope recognizes heroic virtue of American priest, Fr. Nelson Baker

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict officially recognized the heroic virtues of 20th century American priest Fr. Nelson Baker, which moves the beloved champion for the poor further along in the process towards sainthood.

Fr. Baker – who was born in Buffalo, New York in 1842 – lived to be 95 years old and is heralded for building what's been called a “city of charity” in Lackawana, New York. By the time of his death in 1936, his initiatives for the poor included a minor basilica, an infant home, a home for unwed mothers, a boys' orphanage, a hospital, a nurses' home, and an elementary and high school.

On Jan. 14, Pope Benedict recognized the heroic virtues of Fr. Baker, which is the second step in the priest's cause for canonization. After a candidate is initially listed as a Servant of God, the promoter of the cause must prove that the candidate lived heroic virtues. When documents and testimonies are presented to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome, and the candidate is approved, he or she earns the title of "Venerable.” Two documented and medically authenticated miracles are then needed, one for beatification and one for canonization.

“Father Baker was known for his tremendous works of charity during his 60 years of priesthood,” Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York said on Jan. 14. Archbishop Dolan expressed delight in the Pope's action on his blog, “The Gospel in the Digital Age.”

The Diocese of Buffalo said on Friday that they “rejoice” at the news , adding that the latest move “is the next step in what we hope and pray will be the eventual beatification and canonization of Father Baker.”
After his upbringing in Buffalo in the late 19th century and a period of enlistment as a solider in the Civil War, Fr. Baker  enjoyed economic success running a feed and grain business with his good friend Joe Meyer. He often spent much of his time and money, however, contributing to the local Catholic orphanage. Despite the apprehension of his father, brother and business partner – yet to the delight of his mother – he eventually discerned that he wanted to join the priesthood.

Though he was a good 10 years older than most of his fellow seminarians, Fr. Baker relished his experience in the seminary, earning top marks in his studies, organizing sports and drama events and being considered a leader by his peers, noted Sister Mary Monica of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in her biography of the priest. During his time at the seminary, things took a brief turn for the worse when a bought with erysipelas – a disease that could be cured with antibiotics today, but in the nineteenth century was often fatal – hospitalized him for 11 weeks and threatened to take his life.

He slowly recovered, and eventually went on a pilgrimage to Rome with his fellow seminarians in 1874, stopping at the Shrine of Our Lady of Victories in Paris. It was there he began an intense Marian devotion that would influence the rest of his life's work.

Fr. Baker was ordained a priest in 1876 and was assigned to be the superintendent of a group of Catholic institutions at Limestone Hill – an area now known as Lackawana – which were wracked with insurmountable debts. Using his business savvy, Fr. Nelson gave every penny of his savings to the institutions and hand wrote thousands of letters imploring Catholics to become members of the "Association of Our Lady of Victory" for a fee of 25 cents a year. Over the years, his tireless work helped the facilities flourish.

After decades of unyielding service to the community, Fr. Baker died in 1936 at the age of 95. He was named a Servant of God in 1987 by the late Pope John Paul II, and his legacy lives on in the current work of Our Lady of Victories Institutions, which annually serves more than 3,500 children and families in need.

Sacred Music from King's College

Monastic Procession

Friday, January 14, 2011

Validation: "YOU, yes YOU, are great!"

I found this at the Anchoress site and thought it was too cool!

Pope John Paul II to be Beatified May 1!

The following comes from the NPR site:

Pope Benedict XVI today "signed off on the miracle needed for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, and set May 1 as the date to honor one of the most beloved popes of all times as a model of saintliness for the church," the Associated Press writes.
In that story, the AP goes on to report that the pope "said in a decree that a French nun's recovery from Parkinson's disease was miraculous, the last step needed for beatification. A second miracle is needed for the Polish-born John Paul to be made a saint."
Which led us to go in search of more about exactly what beatification is.

The Catholic Education Research Center has a post on "the process of be coming a saint." As it says, beatification follows an initial investigation and means either that the person has been "declared 'blessed' by virtue of martyrdom" or has been "credited with a miracle. ... After beatification, another miracle is needed for canonization and the formal declaration of sainthood."
On the Vatican's website, it's said that beatification is "limited to a Servant of God whose virtues to a heroic degree, or Martyrdom, have been duly recognized."
Vatican Radio has more about the beatification of Pope John Paul II here.
On the nun's recovery, the Catholic Herald says that:
"Sister Marie Simon-Pierre was diagnosed with aggressive Parkinson's in 2001 and had to quit her job at a maternity ward in Arles, Provence. After John Paul's death in 2005, her order began praying for his intercession. According to the testimony, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre woke up with her condition cured after having written John Paul II's name on a piece of paper."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Images of the chapel that may house the body of John Paul II in St. Peter's Basilica

Works are underway in St. Peter's Basilica to make space for Pope John Paul II's tomb following his expected beatification this year, the religious news agency imedia reported on Thursday.

Preparations are being made in the Chapel of St. Sebastian, on the right-hand side of the nave, between the Chapel of Michelangelo's Pieta and the Chapel of the Holy Sacrament, the French agency said.

According to tradition, the remains of popes who are beatified are moved up from the crypt to the nave of the basilica, the agency added.

Italian media have reported Pope Benedict XVI is likely to sign a decree on Friday at the earliest authorizing the beatification of the Polish pontiff, who died aged 84 on April 2, 2005 after 27 years as pope.

On Wednesday, the Congregation of the Causes for Saints approved John Paul's first miracle, a key step on the path to beatification.

The commission confirmed that French nun Marie Simon-Pierre was miraculously cured of Parkinson's disease through the intercession of the Polish pope, who also suffered from Parkinson's.

Italian media have suggested two possible dates for the beatification ceremony: Sunday April 3, the day after the sixth anniversary of John Paul's death, and Sunday October 16, the day he was elected pope.

The process of canonising John Paul kicked off immediately after his death. Banners waved in St Peter's Square during his funeral in 2005 read "Santo Subito!" (Sainthood Now!)

Once the ex-pontiff is beatified, one more miracle will be needed to achieve full sainthood.

The story above comes from the Vancouver Sun.