Monday, February 28, 2011


The following comes from

For Father Erich Fink, bringing about the conversion of Russia is a lifelong dream -- one that began when he was working in the fields of Germany at only age 10.

Now the priest does pastoral work in Berezniki, in west central Russia. He says that the call made by Our Lady of Fatima -- to pray for Russia's conversion -- is still pertinent today.

Father Fink spoke with the television program "Where God Weeps" of the Catholic Radio and Television Network (CRTN) in cooperation with Aid to the Church in Need.

Q: Father, Russia was a childhood dream of yours. Why?

Father Fink: I think it was a call of Mary of Fatima. I knew about Russia through my father. He was in Russia for seven years as a young man during the war; three years as a soldier and four years as a prisoner of war. He always talked very fondly about the Russian people. He spoke of the Russian women who would throw bread over the prison wall to them, knowing that it was illegal and punishable by death. He later returned to Germany and married my mother.

We suffered greatly during those early years. As children we looked for how we could help our family in these difficulties and we discovered the Fatima prayer. Our Lady of Fatima promised to alleviate especially family problems so we started praying the rosary. It was during this time that the message became clear to me: World peace was dependent on the conversion of Russia. I then decided that I wanted to work there.
Q: How old were you?

Father Fink: I was 10 years old. Within five years I knew clearly that I wanted to become a priest. And already at that time, I wanted to go to Russia and assist in this conversion.
Q: Was there a particular person that inspired you?

Father Fink: No person inspired me. I remember I was in the fields; we were farmers, and I had this inspiration and I knew then that at some point in time I was going to become a priest and the desire to go to Russia was very strong. I used all possibilities for this to happen. I heard that Tatiana Goracheva was coming to Germany. I looked for and met her…
Q: Tatiana Goricheva was a Lithuanian dissident who was imprisoned for many years and told her conversion story …

Father Fink: Yes, she was an atheistic philosopher and she converted. She then started to preach and give testimony of her newfound faith and as a result she was arrested and exiled. I met her and told her that I wanted to work as a priest in Russia. She said: "It is unrealistic and in your lifetime Russia will not change."
Q: What was the greatest challenge that you encountered when you first went to Berezniki?

Father Fink: My greatest problem at that time was the language. I only knew the alphabet and I could not speak even a sentence.
Q: What are the challenges you face while working in Russia?

Father Fink: From the morning to the evening people come to me and ask for spiritual and material help. At every moment, I have to decide, however, how to provide help and ask myself this: "Is it a sincere desire for spiritual help? What is the right way for us to provide social assistance?" I also have to help the people, to lead the people to be independent in making decisions and finding their own solutions in improving their lives. These are the great challenges.
Q: What would you say is the biggest challenge facing the Catholic Church in Russia?

Father Fink: We must give a testimony of the divine dignity of every human person. This is the greatest need in Russia. We have so many problems: alcoholism, drug addiction and children on the streets. Every person has a divine dignity. This dignity can be nourished with a holistic approach that not only involves social works but also has to involve spiritual nourishment. The Catholic Church has the possibilities to do this. The Orthodox Church has less experience in these social works and we -- Catholics -- can help. We, however, have to understand the Russian mentality in order to be able to provide the right help and at the same time we must understand and love the Orthodox Church. We have to understand that we are guests and the conversion and renewal of the faith can come only through and in the Orthodox Church. In order to help the Orthodox Church we must understand the Church.
Q: Father, if you were to make an appeal now to Catholics, what would your appeal be?

Father Fink: My appeal is to have an understanding for Russia. I see, especially in Europe and the West, that there are so many doubts: It’s not a democratic system and so on. This doesn’t help. Russia must be a strong country in order to solve all her problems, and it’s on the right track. Russia needs moral support from all the faithful and that they be joyful at the developments. But we need not only understanding, we need prayers. In Fatima when Our Lady asked that all Catholics pray for the conversion of Russia we knew that Communism was finished. Many now are thinking that it is not necessary to continue praying for Russia. We need prayers and spiritual support now more than ever because Russia is, only now, starting her conversion; she has not been converted yet.
* * *
This interview was conducted by Mark Riedemann for "Where God Weeps," a weekly television and radio show produced by Catholic Radio and Television Network in conjunction with the international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need.

The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Prophets

The Joy of Being Christian

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hosanna by Paul Baloche

Diocesan Enquiry Concluded for Servant of God Fr Constantine Vendrame

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

On Saturday 19 February 2011 in Shillong the Diocesan Enquiry for the beatification of the Servant of God Fr Constantine Vendrame (1893-1957) was concluded.

Presiding at this occasion was the Archbishop Dominic Jala SDB. Among those present, in addition to the members of the Tribunal and the Vice Postulator Fr Mawrie Barnes Lister, were Fr Angelo Granziera, parish priest of Colle Umberto and San Martino di Colle Umberto - in the Province of Treviso, Italy – who in these years has built up a fraternal friendship and collaboration with the Salesian missions of North-East India, and Mons. Tarcisio Bolzan, parish priest of Susegana, in the Province of Treviso, who was born and baptised in the parish of San Martino di Colle Umberto, where the Servant of God Fr Constantine Vendrame grew up as a boy, who has been appointed to present the documents of the process at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints where the Roman stage of the Enquiry will be conducted.

Constantine Vendrame was born at San Martino di Colle Umberto, in the Province of Treviso, on 27 August 1893. In 1913 he entered the Salesian novitiate at Ivrea. After gaining some experience at the oratory in Chioggia, he did his compulsory military service which further tempered his character. In March 1929 he was ordained priest, and in October received the missionary crucifix in the Basilica of Mary Help of Christians. At 31 years of age he left for India. In the space of five years the parishes entrusted ministry grew in an extraordinary manner the number of baptisms increasing from 400 to 1449.

He worked especially in the North-East of India. He constantly visited the villages, meeting the people and the children: he made himself one of them building up human contacts. He went into the houses of the poor and the sick helping them, listening to them, and after he had become their friend he spoke to them about Jesus and his life. He appreciated the importance of women in the culture of the Khasi. Like Don Bosco, always in the vanguard of progress ha made use of the mass-media to evangelise the villages, showing the film of the life of Jesus. Many people attended these shows and immediately afterwards asked to be baptised.

Fr Vendrame concentrated on the formation of lay catechists who would evangelise the communities and accompany him on his travels. As a good Salesian he cultivated the festive oratories and taught hundreds of children. He also took Christianity to the Hindus, the Muslims and others so that he was compared to Saint Francs Xavier or Saint Paul. He was extremely humble and very prayerful: he always seemed to be in union with God. Very devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, he built two churches, one at Malawai and another at Wahiajer. He died on 30 January 1957 in the Dibrugarh hospital.

Where Have You Hidden Beloved?

Where have you hidden,
Beloved, and left me moaning?
You fled like the stag
after wounding me;
I went out calling you, but you were gone.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

WYD Madrid 2011-"Festival of Forgiveness" for Confessions

Salesian Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai Makes 3 Requests at Ordination

The following comes from
The newly appointed secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples prayed at his episcopal ordination for peace and the Church in China, he reported this week at his homecoming Mass in Hong Kong.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, a native of Hong Kong, said this Monday during a public Mass in the city where he grew up and served for decades as a priest of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

The archbishop noted that St. John Bosco had advised that candidates to the priesthood may make three petitions to God, and that at his episcopal ordination, "I made three petitions."

The Salesian, who is the first Chinese to occupy a senior post in the Curia, was ordained to the episcopate Feb. 5 by Benedict XVI in the Vatican. He was named as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in December.

"Before my ordination," he revealed, "I asked for the peace on earth, and the spread of Gospel in China."

His said his third petition was for three more petitions.

The archbishop then traveled on Wednesday to Taiwan, where he will make his first pastoral visit as secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. His visit is under way through Sunday.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Christ is Risen by Matt Maher

Fr. John Corapi on Sharing Our Faith With Others

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tunisian police nab alleged murderer of Polish Salesian Priest

The following comes from the CNA:

Authorities in Tunisia have arrested the alleged murderer of 34-year-old Polish priest Fr. Marek Marius Rybinski, who was found dead on Feb. 18.

Police are holding local maintenance worker Chokri Ben Mustapha Bel-Sadek El-Mestiri in connection with the murder.

The body of Fr. Rybinski – a Polish Salesian missionary – was discovered last Friday in the parking lot of the local Salesian school, which is located in the Tunis suburb of Manouma. Although the Associated Press reported that his throat was slit, the Vatican-based Fides news agency stated that the priest was beheaded.

Bishop Maroun Elias Nimeh Lahham of Tunis told Fides on Feb. 23 that El-Mestiri was “a jack of all trades at the missionary house” and “was given 2,000 dinars (around $1,400 U.S. dollars) three months ago by Fr Rybinski, to buy materials to do maintenance work at the school.”

“El-Mestiri had spent the money, how we don't know. Fr Rybinski, seeing that the materials hadn't been purchased, began asking for the money to be returned.”

Archbishop Lahham said that the worker allegedly “panicked and killed the missionary.”

“Initially, given the manner in which he was killed, it was thought that this was carried out by extremists,” he added.

In an interview with Vatican Radio broadcast on Feb. 19, Archbishop Lahham recounted the incidents leading up to the murder. He reported that several weeks ago the local Salesian Fathers had received a threatening letter written in excellent French. The correspondence was addressed to “the Jews,” demanded money and threatened to kill everyone in the house if they failed to cooperate.

The archbishop said the letter was signed “with a Nazi swastika,” and explained “for the ordinary people” in the area, “if you are not a Muslim you are a Jew.” He recalled a recent demonstration in front of the local synagogue in which an Islamic group “told the Jews to leave because the army of Muhammad was on the way. ”

On Feb. 23, he told Fides that “whether there is a relationship between the murder” and the “threatening letter” remains to be seen.

Last weekend, hundreds participated in demonstrations including students from the Salesian school and their parents, who mourned the priest's untimely death and brought photographs, cards and flowers to the school in remembrance. On Feb. 18, Archbishop Lahham presided over a Mass in honor of Fr. Rybinski at the Cathedral of Tunis.

The Life of Pope John Paul II in Animation


The following comes from

Benedict XVI is promising prayer for those being "severely tested" by the earthquake in New Zealand.

Today at the end of the general audience, the Pope mentioned the victims of the quake that struck Christchurch at 1 p.m. Tuesday, local time. The current death toll is at 75, but some 300 people are still unaccounted for. More than 100 people were rescued the evening and night of the quake.

"At this time, my thoughts turn especially to the people [of New Zealand] who are being severely tested by this tragedy," the Holy Father said. "Let us ask God to relieve their suffering and to support all who are involved in the rescue operations. I also ask you to join me in praying for all who have lost their lives."

Rescue teams as well as condolences arrived from around the globe.

From nearby Australia, Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, president of the bishops' conference, assured solidarity with the New Zealanders.

"It is with great sadness that the bishops of Australia and the Catholic people of this nation watch the unfolding events following the massive earthquake in Christchurch yesterday," said his message to Bishop Barry Jones of Christchurch. "The proximity of our countries and the solidarity we share in times of disaster lead us to feel enormous grief for what your people are experiencing. [...] You and the people of Christchurch are very much in our prayers at this time, and we pray that Our Lord will continue to accompany you."

Christchurch is one of New Zealand's bigger cities, with a population of some 350,000.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

This is the Stuff by Francesca Battistelli

Blessed Luigi Guanella to be Canonized a Saint

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

On Monday 21 February at 12.00, in the Consistorial Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace, the Holy Father Benedict XVI held an Ordinary Public Consistory for the approval of the Canonisation of three Blesseds including Fr Luigi Guanella (1842-1915), apostle of charity, a close friend of Don Bosco, and for three years a member of the Salesian Congregation. The ceremony of canonisation will take place on Sunday 23 October 2011 in Saint Peter’s Square.

Luigi Guanella was born at Fraciscio di Campodolcino (Sondrio) in 1842. In 1866 he became a priest and said: “I want to become a flaming sword in the holy ministry.” His pastoral work was similar to that of Cottolengo and Don Bosco, who he met in Turin.

He made his Salesian temporary profession for three years in 1874, at the Salesian house in Lanzo Torinese. In his first two years as a Salesian he was the director of the oratory of San Luigi Gonzaga in the Borgo san Salvario, Turin, and then in November 1876 he was given the task of opening a new oratory at Trinità di Mondovì. In 1877 he was entrusted with the care of the adult vocations which Don Bosco called “the work of the Sons of Mary.”

Recalled to the diocese by his Bishop, in 1881 he founded the Servants of Charity and the Daughters of Saint Mary of Providence, which from the diocese of Como quickly spread throughout Italy and then in America, Asia and Africa. In Rome, with the help of Pope Pius X, he built the Basilica of Saint Joseph. Following the Marsica earthquake in January 1915, Fr Guanella was among the first, together with Fr Orione, to come to the aid of the people. He died a few months later and was beatified in 1964.

Fr Guanella and Don Bosco, both friends and priests living at a time of great social change but also inequalities, responded as apostles of charity and spent their whole lives involved in the work of the salvation of each and every person and in the building of a better society.

The close link between the two, and the devotion of Fr Guanella for Don Bosco is reflected in a prayer which Fr Guanella wrote in the monthly magazine of his foundation, “Divine Providence” in August 1908: “May the great soul of John Bosco who from on high protects the Congregation of his Sons the Salesians, now too numerous to count, be pleased to turn his gaze on the Institutes of Divine Providence and extend the kindness of his protection on all those who beloing to these works and especially on his devoted admirer and student. Fr Luigi Guanella”.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Call My Name by Third Day

Air 1 - Third Day "Call My Name" LIVE from Air 1 Radio on Vimeo.

Bishop of Tunis fears murder of priest signifies growing Islamic extremism

This is a sad time for Christians in the Middle East and North Africa.  The Bishop of Tunis feels that this violence against Christians might continue.  Please pray for the repose of the soul of our deceased Salesian confrere, Fr. Marek Rybinski, SDB.  The following comes from the CNA:

A Catholic bishop in Tunisia expressed fear of growing Islamic extremism in the area after a 34 year-old Polish missionary priest was found brutally killed on Feb. 18.

As local protests took place in the wake the murder, Archbishop Lahham Marun Elias of Tunis told Vatican Radio on Feb. 19 that he believes “an Islamic movement” directed against “all non-Muslims” is growing in influence within the country.

The body of Fr. Marek Marius Rybinski – a Polish Salesian missionary – was discovered last Friday in the parking lot of the local Salesian school, which is located in the Tunis suburb of Manouma. Although the Associated Press reported that his throat was slit, the Vatican-based Fides news agency stated that the priest was beheaded.

Over the weekend, hundreds participated in demonstrations including students from the school and their parents, who mourned the priest's untimely death and brought photographs, cards and flowers to the school in remembrance. On Feb. 18, Archbishop Lahham presided over a Mass in honor of Fr. Rybinski at the Cathedral of Tunis.

In an interview with Vatican Radio broadcast after the Mass, Archbishop Lahham recounted the incidents leading up to the murder. He reported that several weeks ago the local Salesian Fathers had received a threatening letter written in excellent French. The correspondence was addressed to “the Jews,” demanded money and threatened to kill everyone in the house if they failed to cooperate.

The archbishop said the letter was signed “with a Nazi swastika,” and explained “for the ordinary people” in the area, “if you are not a Muslim you are a Jew.” He recalled a recent demonstration in front of the local synagogue in which an Islamic group “told the Jews to leave because the army of Muhammad was on the way. ”

He went on to say that Fr. Rybinski, who served as a bursar for the community, departed from the mission house around noon on Feb. 17, leaving his car at the mission. The next day, “we found the computer in his room turned on. We therefore believe that someone called him with an excuse to get him to leave the house.”

“That person kidnapped Fr. Rybinski,” the archbishop said, “and then killed him the next day. His body was found in a warehouse at the school. The murderer, or murderers, are people who are familiar with the buildings, because the warehouse is hidden behind the school, and they also knew that Fr. Rybinski had the keys.”

“I saw his body at around 1:00 p.m. before the blood was coagulated, a fact confirmed by the coroner. So the murder took place a few hours before.”

Archbishop Lahham said that police have increased the number of guards in front of local churches in order to protect them. He added that the Tunisian government has assigned blame for the murder to a “group of extremist terrorists,” underscoring that until recently, Tunisia has traditionally been a country of peaceful co-existence between cultures and religions.

For more info please click here.

Dominican Sisters Rapid Expansion

The following comes from the CNA:

One of the fastest growing orders of women religious in the United States is expanding to California where the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, took over administration of a Sacramento Catholic school this school year.

Perhaps more significantly, the Dominican Sisters have outgrown the motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., and are planning to build two new houses of formation in California and in Texas. Each would hold about 100. The order’s lifestyle intrigued Oprah Winfrey, who featured the sisters twice on her show in 2010. As a result they have been nicknamed the “Oprah nuns.”

“We had 22 young women enter in August, and we have had between 10 and 20 new vocations per year for the past five years,” said Sister Thomas Augustine, director of California Mission Advancement. “It has happened to us before that by the time we finished adding onto the motherhouse in Ann Arbor we were already out of room! This time we are hoping to stay ahead of things so we are planning for two new houses of formation.”

Founded in 1997 by four Dominicans from the Nashville Dominicans, just 31 of the 110 Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, have made final vows so far. The remaining religious are in various stages of formation or education and discernment, said Sister Thomas Augustine.

“We’re not turning anyone away. We’ll sleep on the floor. We’ll live in kitchenettes, closets and landings. We have in the past,” Sister Thomas Augustine said.

The land in Loomis near Sacramento was purchased by Fred and Joan Cordova, a couple who received a direct-mail piece and called in 2005 to say they wanted the order to come to California and would buy the sisters land.

There are now eight sisters in the Sacramento diocese. Four are teaching at Presentation School, an elementary school that saw its enrollment jump by 44 students to 196 when the sisters took over in the 2010-11 school year, said Kevin Eckery, spokesman for Bishop Jaime Soto. “This is the first increase in enrollment in five years,” Eckery said.

Under the city of Loomis’ planning and building regulations, the sisters expect their application to be approved Jan. 18 and after negotiating details and meeting regulatory requirements to be able to build by 2012, Sister Thomas Augustine said. Funding for construction still needs to be raised, she said.

The religious’ primary apostolate is teaching. Sisters are sent out in small groups. They are teaching and administering Catholic schools in California, Texas, Arizona, South Carolina, and Michigan. A new mission will open next year in Columbus, Ohio, Sister Thomas Augustine said. Fifteen sisters are obtaining their teaching credentials this year and will go out to teach next year.

“We deliver a Catholic education because we are in the business of saving souls,” she said.

The order is part of a worldwide resurgence among religious orders who embrace the traditional religious life as part of Pope John Paul II’s call for a new evangelization, Sister Thomas Augustine said.

“The thing to note is what we all have in common: the habit, living a common life, devotion to the Eucharist and Our Lady, absolute fidelity to the Church’s teachings and the influence of John Paul II,” said Sister Augustine, who was a New York lawyer before she joined.

Find more information at or contact Sister Thomas Augustine at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Joy Unspeakable by Todd Agnew

K-LOVE - Todd Agnew "Joy Unspeakable" LIVE from K-LOVE Radio on Vimeo.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, Rest in Peace

I found this at Lead Kindly Light.  The former abortionist turned Catholic Pro-life advocate Dr. Bernard Nathanson has passed away. The following is a quote from Joan Andrews Bell:
“He was like St. Paul, who was a great persecutor of the Church, yet when he saw the light of Christ, he was perhaps the greatest apostle for the Gospel. Dr. Nathanson was like that after his conversion. He went all around the world talking about the babies and the evils of abortion. Being his godmother was such an amazing thing, to see him come to Christ."

For the whole story on this great convert to the faith can be found here.

Pope Benedict to Priests: Be stout-hearted

The following comes from

Benedict XVI is encouraging priests to seize the opportunities to grow in "spiritual and theological maturity" so that they can be "stout-hearted" enough for whatever the future holds.
The Pope said this on Saturday when he received in audience a group of students and faculty from the Pontifical Filipino College. Blessed Pope John XXIII founded the college 50 years ago and the papal audience was commemorating the anniversary.
The German Pontiff encouraged the students to "grow in faith" and to "strive for excellence in your studies." He also told them to "grasp every opportunity afforded you to attain spiritual and theological maturity, so that you will be equipped, trained, and stout-hearted for whatever awaits you in the future."
Complete gift
Speaking about the martyrs of Rome, the Pope assured: "I am confident that each of you will be inspired by their union with the mystery of Christ and embrace the Lord's call to holiness which demands from you as priests nothing less than the complete gift of your lives and labors to God."
The Holy Father also gave practical counsel regarding the students' use of time. He suggested a "healthy balance between local pastoral concerns and the academic requirements of your stay here, to the benefit of all."
The Pontiff's final reflection regarded the special opportunity afforded the priests by their studies in Rome.
"[D]o not forget the affection of the Pope for you and for your homeland," he said. And he urged them to return to the Philippines with an "unshakeable affection of your own for the Successor of Peter."
The Holy Father encouraged the "desire to strengthen and maintain the communion which binds the Church in charity around [the Pope]." 
"In this way," he said, "having completed your studies, you will surely be a leaven of the Gospel in the life of your beloved nation."

A Prayer of Humility

Pope Benedict: New start available for those who accept Christ

The following comes from the CNA:

"A new form of existence driven by love and destined to eternity" is possible through imitation of Christ, said Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday.

Before the traditional noon Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square on Feb. 20, the Pope spoke of the day's Mass readings. He said the readings "speak ... of the will of God to make men participants in his life."

The words, "Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy," from the Book of Leviticus were an invitation to the chosen people to be faithful to the covenant with the Lord, the Pope said. They also "founded social legislation on the commandment 'you shall love your neighbor as yourself'."

"If we listen, then, to Jesus ... we find that same call, that same audacious objective. The Lord says, in fact, 'be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect'."

"But who could become perfect?" asked the Pope. "Our perfection is living as children of God fulfilling concretely his will."
Man corresponds to God's paternity by praising and glorifying him through good conduct, he explained.
"In what way can we imitate Jesus?" the Pope asked.

He offered the answer in the continuation of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount found in the Gospel of Matthew. "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father," says Jesus.

Pope Benedict explained that "he who accepts the Lord into his life and loves him with all his heart is capable of a new start. He is able to fulfill the will of God, realizing a new form of existence driven by love and destined to eternity."

The Pope then quoted Paul, who asks the Corinthians in his first letter to them, "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?"

"If we are truly aware of this reality and our life is profoundly molded to it," said the Pope, "then our testimony becomes clear, eloquent and effective."

Man's entire being is combined with the love of God and "the splendor of his soul" is reflected in all of his life and eternity, he added.

Love, said the Pope, quoting from the book "Imitation of Christ," is a "grand thing," a good that makes all heavy things light, gives man tranquility in difficult moments and allows him to rise above earthly matters. And, "rest," he said, "is born of God and only in God can it be found."

The Pope then looked forward to Feb. 22, the Church feast of the Chair of St. Peter. To Peter, he said, "Christ entrusted the task of teacher and shepherd for the spiritual guidance of the people of God, so that they might raise themselves up to heaven."

He concluded with an exhortation to "all shepherds to assimilate that 'new style of life' which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and taken up by the Apostles."

And, he prayed that Mary, the Mother of God and the Church, might "teach us to love each other and accept each other as brothers, children of the heavenly Father."

Saint of the day: Peter Damian

The following comes from the American Catholic Site:

Maybe because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor. It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs.

Peter escaped poverty and the neglect of his own brother when his other brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing. His brother sent him to good schools and Peter became a professor.

Already in those days Peter was very strict with himself. He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer. Soon, he decided to leave his teaching and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of St. Romuald at Fonte Avellana. They lived two monks to a hermitage. Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia. He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself. When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.

The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him. Abbot Peter founded five other hermitages. He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself. The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, between two abbeys in dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.

Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He worked hard to wipe out simony (the buying of church offices), and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance. He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty and too comfortable living. He even wrote to the bishop of Besancon, complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.

He wrote many letters. Some 170 are extant. We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote. He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings. The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin.

He asked often to be allowed to retire as cardinal-bishop of Ostia, and finally Alexander II consented. Peter was happy to become once again just a monk, but he was still called to serve as a papal legate. When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever. With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on February 22, 1072.

In 1828 he was declared a Doctor of the Church.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


The following comes from

A recently published book compiles testimonies of the "shock" resounding through the world at the election of Karol Wojtyla to the papacy.
"What courage these cardinals have to elect a Pope from a country that is on the other side of the Iron Curtain!" was the first reaction of the Holy See's secretary of state at that time, Cardinal Agostino Casaroli, after the proclamation in St. Peter's Square of Karol Wojtyla's election.
Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, former prefect Congregation for Bishops, recalled these words on Wednesday during the presentation in Rome of the book "Shock Wojtyla: L'inizio del Pontificato" [The Beginning of the Pontificate]. The Italian-language book was published by San Paolo with the coordination of Marco Impagliazzo.

In 15 essays by various authors, the book examines the reactions from different perspectives -- the Catholic world, public opinion, the media, international relations -- witnessed throughout the world after the announcement of Oct. 16, 1978.

The volume is the first of a series that, with the support of the Italian Episcopal Conference, seeks to historically reconstruct John Paul II's pontificate.

Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Community and author of the idea of this project, stated during Wednesday's presentation, "The time has come to move from the patrimony of sentiments aroused in us all by Wojtyla's pontificate to historical research."

According to Riccardi, John Paul II "was not only a shock but also the therapy given the two fundamental crises of Christianity in 1978."
He explained that one crisis was in Eastern Europe, where "fear inspired by communism made one think that the Church could no longer do anything, and where Wojtyla instead represented hope."

The other, Riccardi added, was in the West, "where the idea was affirmed of an unstoppable crisis of Christianity in face of secularization, in regard to which the election of the Polish Pope demonstrated how the age-old institution of the Church was still capable of youth and imagination."
International relations

Lucio Caracciolo, director of the Italian review "Limes," noted that the election on Oct. 16, 1978, was an event capable of changing international relations.
He continued, "It certainly marked the end of the 'ostpolitik' of the Holy See," which in regards to the Eastern countries behind the Iron Curtain "became far more incisive and centered on the figure of the Pope, who did not accept the status quo, and who had a unique and perhaps unrepeatable impact on history."
Caracciolo affirmed that whereas in European foreign ministries "prudence prevailed, in the conviction that the Soviet Union would last a long time, Wojtyla, on the other hand, looked with other eyes to other times."

"Faced with a change," he noted, "the diplomacies reacted with a conservative attitude, denying that new things could happen."
Caracciolo concluded, "The election of John Paul II tells us, instead, that new things can happen."
Communist reaction

Hanna Suchocka, the first Polish prime minister under the presidency of Lech Walesa, recalled, "The first shock was Wojtyla's image on the day of his election," as he "emerged from the darkness raising his arms to greet the throng in St. Peter's Square."

"It was an even greater shock for the communist authorities," she affirmed.
"Today we know that the documents that were being prepared to establish contact with the Pope who would be elected in the conclave were elaborated skipping over the mediation of the Polish Church and 'above all' of the archbishop of Krakow, Wojtyla," added Suchocka.

When John Paul II's election was announced, she said, the communist authorities tried to find positive elements, saying, "better a far away Pope than a close primate."
However, Suchocka continued, they knew "how dangerous it was for the system, as Wojtyla knew its weak points and could not be influenced."
She noted that Wojtyla's election "presented the double face of Polish society: fear of the communists and the unstoppable popular celebration that filled the squares and couldn't be controlled."

And on the day of the election, Suchocka recalled, John Paul II, leaving protocol to one side, "invited all 'not to be afraid.'"
"No one could understand the profound influence of these first words," she affirmed. "All this was the initial shock that became something constant in a pontificate that changed the Church and the world."
Be not afraid

Cardinal Re expressed a similar opinion: "'Do not be afraid,' 'Open the doors wide to Christ.' Summarized in these phrases is the line of the whole of John Paul II's pontificate."
The prelate also recalled the words pronounced by the Pontiff in Warsaw on the occasion of his first trip to Poland: "Christ cannot be excluded from history."

"Everything that moved John Paul II influenced politics and history, but it was born from the faith," stressed Cardinal Re.
He recalled the Pope's impressive "human dimension, the capacity to speak to the crowds, the profundity of his thought, his knowledge of the world thanks to his listening to so many persons, the fascination he exerted on youth."

The cardinal added that above all what was impressive was "the intensity of his prayer."
He concluded: "As he said in the shrine of Mentorella, the Pope's first task is to pray. This affirmation corresponded to his deepest conviction."

Some Happy Sisters

I found this great video at Aggie Catholics!

Saints of the Day: The Shepherd Children of Fatima

The following comes from the Spero News site:

On February 20 is celebrated the feast commemorating three children whose mystical experiences in Portugal would stun the world.

Between May 12 - October 13, 1917,  Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia, Portuguese shepherds from Aljustrel, saw apparitions of the Virgin Mary at Cova da Iria, near Fatima, a city 110 miles north of Lisbon.

At that time, Europe was embroiled in what was billed as The War to End All Wars while the Allied Countries and the Central Powers contended over European real estate and control of the seas. Portugal was in political turmoil at the time, having overthrown its monarchy in 1910. The new government, influenced by secularist thinking of the time suppressed religion.

During her first appearance, the Virgin Mary asked the children to return to that spot on the thirteenth of each month for the next six months. She also asked them to learn to read and write and to pray the Rosary "to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war." They were to pray for sinners and for the conversion of Russia, which had recently overthrown Czar Nicholas II and was soon to fall under communism. Up to 90,000 people gathered for Mary's final apparition on October 13, 1917. It was there that many had a terrifying vision in which the sun appeared to dance and fall from the sky.

Less than two years later, in 1919, Francisco died of influenza in his family home. He was 11 years old. He was buried in the parish cemetery and then re-buried in the Fatima basilica in 1952. Jacinta died the next year of influenza in Lisbon. She was just 10. During her illness she offered her suffering for the conversion of sinners, peace in the world and the Pope. She was re-buried in the Fatima basilica in 1951.

Their cousin, Lucia dos Santos, became a Carmelite nun and was still living when Jacinta and Francisco were beatified in 2000. She died on February 13, 2005. This year, on the third anniversary of her death, at a special Mass in the cathedral of Coimbra, Portugal, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins CMF, president of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, announced that an exception was being made so that the usual five-year wait could be waived and the diocesan stage of the cause for her beatification would begin. 

The shrine of Our Lady of Fatima is visited by up to 20 million people a year and is particularly dedicated to prayers for peace and reconciliation.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Eucharistic Adoration: reverse momentum

Fr. Robert Barron comments on Why Exorcism Films Still Fascinate

Friday, February 18, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron Comments on New iphone Confession Application

Prayer need: Salesian Missionary Priest Killed in Tunisia

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

Fr Marek Rybinski, a young Polish missionary in Manouba, Tunisia, was found killed this morning in the Salesian school there. The motive is not known.

Fr Rybinski had been seen by the confreres of the community yesterday morning about 10.00. Since he wasn’t at evening prayer or at mass this morning Fr Lawrence Essery, Rector of the Salesian community in Manouba, becoming alarmed and not finding him in his room he contacted the local police. They arrived shortly afterwards and began a search for Fr Rybinski. Tragically his body was found in a store room with his throat cut. He is the second religious to be found dead in this recent period of social unrest.

At 9.30 yesterday morning Fr Rybinski had spoken on the ‘phone to Sr Eva Siuda, at the Mission Office in Warsaw, and asked her to send a fax confirming that a sum of morning had been transferred – transferred in fact in December  – for the releasing of which the bank was making difficulties.

On 31 January, the feast of Don Bosco, the Salesians in Manouba had found an anonymous letter pushed under the door threatening them with death unless they paid up. Officially the police have not given their opinion about the motive whether of theft or of religious fundamentalism.
Don Rybinski, only 33 years of age originally from the Warsaw Province in Poland was ordained priest in May 2005. In September 2007 he arrived in Manouba where he became community bursar.

“Marek was extremely efficient and through his contacts with the Polish Missions Office where he had worked previous to his arrival in Tunisia. He was able to help to finance various projects for the good of the school,” Fr Essery told ANS in a message.

He had been appointed chaplain to the Polish community by the archbishop of Tunisia and had spent a lot of time preparing the youngsters for Confirmation.
This evening  in the Cathedral Archbishop Maroun Elias Nimeh Lahham of Tunisia will preside at a Mass  for Fr Rybinski.

As soon as he heard the news the Rector Major of the Salesians,  Fr Pascual Chávez Villanueva, expressed his consternation and his sorrow.

“So many graces have been poured out in my life…”

Seminarian Philip Johnson from Deacon Watkins on Vimeo.

Thanks Deacon Greg for posting this. Please pray for this young seminarian that God's healing hand will strengthen him and give the good health he needs to follow his vocation to the priesthood. He gives a beautiful talk and I am sure he will continue to move the hearts of many with his witness!

Fr. Fessio on Light of the World: Faith and Reason, Islam, and the Liturgy

Pope Benedict: St. John of the Cross shows that faith gives man 'wings'

The following comes from the CNA:

The spirituality and teachings of the “Mystical Doctor of the Church” offer an example of a man whose burdens where lightened by a love for Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said during today’s general audience.

The Pope spoke of the 16th-century St. John of the Cross, continuing his series of general audience teachings on doctors of the church.

John was born near Avila, Spain in 1542 and ordained a priest in 1567. On the day of his ordination he met the future St. Teresa of Avila. As Pope Benedict pointed out in his Jan. 2, 2011 audience, the two later carried out a difficult but fruitful reform of the Carmelite order.

It was during the 1570s that John of the Cross served in Teresa’s convent as her confessor and spiritual director. They were years of “close collaboration and spiritual friendship that enriched them both,” said the Pope.

Also at this time Teresa produced her most important written works, he explained. And, despite great suffering at times and even undergoing torture while he was unjustly jailed, John also began writing and developing his “mystical doctrine.”

After a lifetime of service throughout central and southern Spain, John of the Cross was chosen to embark on a new mission to Mexico in 1591. However, he became ill and died while preparing to make the voyage.

His last words came while he and his Carmelite brothers recited the morning prayer. “Today,” he told them, “I’m going to sing the Office in heaven.”

The Carmelite priest was eventually canonized in 1726 by Pope Benedict XIII. In 1926, Pius XI made him a Doctor of the Church. He is remembered now as the “Doctor mysticus,” or mystical doctor, Pope Benedict said.

His major works focus on the purification of the soul and the complete union of man with God through the Trinity.

In one of his volumes, titled “Dark Night of the Soul,” St. John focused on the “passive aspect” of the soul’s purification through God’s contribution, noted the Pope.

“Human effort alone, in fact, is incapable of reaching the deepest roots of a person’s bad inclinations and habits,” he explained. “It can halt them but not eradicate them completely.

“To do this, a special action is needed from God which radically purifies the spirit and disposes it to the union of love with Him.”

Pope Benedict explained that this process was described as “passive” by the 16-century saint because the process was carried out by the mysterious action of the Holy Spirit which “consumes every impurity.”

“In this state,” said the Pope, “the soul is subjected to every type of trial, as if it finds itself in a dark night.”

In “Dark Night” and his other major works, St. John of the Cross helps people to understand his “vast and profound mystical doctrine, whose objective is to describe a sure way to achieve holiness, the state of perfection to which God calls all of us,” he added.

In both its active and passive moments, the process “requires our determined effort, but it is God who is the real center, “ explained the Pope. “All man can do is dispose himself and humble himself before the loving work of God in the soul.

“In this sense, John is for us a model of humble dedication and of faithful perseverance on the road to spiritual maturity.”

His was not an easy life, lived “on the clouds” of mysticism, said the Pope. Rather it was a “tough” life that can show people still today that faith in Christ is not an “extra weight to the already sufficiently heavy burden of our lives.

“If a man brings about in himself a great love, this love almost gives him wings,” said the Pope. In this case, it is easier to deal with “all of the bothers of life, because he carries within him a great light.”

“This is the faith,” said the Pope, “being called by God and allowing ourselves to be loved by God in Jesus Christ.”

It is the “light” that gives us strength to carry the burden, he concluded. “And sanctity is not a task to be accomplished on our own ... but it is precisely this ‘openness,’ opening the windows of our souls so that the light of God might enter, not forgetting God because precisely in the openness to his light we find strength, we find the joy of the redeemed.”

Thursday, February 17, 2011

One month till St. Pat's!

Ukraine: Emerging from the catacombs

Pope Benedict to Youth: Spread Joy of Christ

The following comes from

Benedict XVI urged the youth present at today's weekly general audience to spread the peace and joy of Christ, and to make room for him in their hearts.

The Pope said this today at the weekly general audience after he delivered his catechesis on the figure of St. John of the Cross, priest of the Order of Discalced Carmelites and doctor of the Church (1542-1591).

After greeting those present in Paul VI in various language, he addressed the youth, the sick and newlyweds.

"You, dear young people," he said, "make room in your heart for Jesus and spread his joy and his peace."

Addressing the sick, the Holy Father urged them to "offer your moments of trial to the Lord so that the doors of hearts will open to the proclamation of the Gospel."

"And you, dear newlyweds," he concluded, "always be witnesses of the love of Christ, who has called you to realize a common project of life."

St. Ignatius's Discerning Spirits

Saints of the day: Seven Founders of the Servites

The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Named the fifth mendicant order by Pope Martin V, it was founded in 1233 by

Saint Alexis Falconieri
Saint Bartholomew degli Amidei
Saint Benedict dell’Antella
Saint Buonfiglio Monaldi
Saint Gherardino Sostegni
Saint Hugh dei Lippi-Uguccioni
Saint John Buonagiunta Monetti

They were beatified on 1 December 1717 and canonized in 1887 as The Seven Holy Founders. On the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1240 the Founders received a vision of Our Lady. She held in her hand the black habit, and a nearby angel bore a scroll reading Servants of Mary Mary told them,

You will found a new order, and you will be my witnesses throughout the world. This is your name: Servants of Mary. This is your rule: that of Saint Augustine. And here is your distinctive sign: the black scapular, in memory of my sufferings.

From their first establishment at La Camarzia, near Florence, Italy, they removed to the more secluded Monte Senario where the Blessed Virgin herself conferred on them their habit, instructing them to follow the Rule of Saint Augustine and to admit associates. Official approval was obtained in 1249; confirmed in 1256; suppressed in 1276; definitely approved in 1304; and again by Brief in 1928. The order was so rapidly diffused that by 1285 there were 10,000 members with houses in Germany, France, Italy, and Spain, and early in the 14th century it numbered 100 convents, besides missions in Crete and India. The Reformation reduced the order in Germany, but it flourished elsewhere. Again meeting with political reverses in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, it nevertheless prospered, being established in England in 1867, and in America in 1870. The Servites take solemn vows and venerate in a special manner the Seven Dolors of Our Lady. They cultivate both the interior and the active life, giving missions and teaching.

An affiliation, professing exclusively the contemplative life is that of the Hermits of Monte Senario. Reinstated in France, 1922. Cloistered nuns, forming a Second Order, have been affiliated with the Servites since 1619 when Blessed Benedicta di Rossi called the nuns of her community Servite Hermitesses. They have been established in England, Spain, Italy, the Tyrol, and Germany.

A Third Order, the Mantellate, founded by Saint Juliana Falconieri under Saint Philip Benizi, c.1284, has houses in Italy, France, Spain, England, Canada, and the United States. Secular tertiaries and a confraternity of the Seven Dolors are other branches.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Believers by Joe Nichols

Monastery of San Benedetto: At the birthplace of Benedict

God bless these young men as they restore this ancient monastery! I pray they are blessed with many vocations and much success!

The Monastery of San Benedetto (priory), Norcia, Italy. Roman catholic Monks, following the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia.Founded in 1998, Rome , Italy, transferred to Norcia in the Umbria region in 2000 ad.

Saint of the Day: Joseph Allamano

Today we remember one of Don Bosco's former students; Blessed Joseph Allamano.  The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Fourth of five children; nephew of Saint John Cafasso. His father died when Joseph was three years old. Studied at the Salesian Oratory in Valdocco, Italy; Saint John Bosco was one of Joseph’s spiritual directors. He entered the diocesan seminary of Turin, Italy in November 1866. Ordained on 20 September 1873. He was the Spiritual director of the Turin seminary. Appointed rector of the Consolata Shrine on 2 October 1880; he remodeled the shrine, and made it a source for spiritual renewal throughout thediocese. He remained the Rector of the shrine for 40 years!  He founded the Consolata Missionary Priests and Brothers on 29 January 1901; the first missionaries reached Kenya in 1902. On 29 January 1910 he founded the Consolata Missionary Sisters for women with a missionary vocation. 
Pope John Paul II proclaimed on 13 May 1989 that Allamano be made Venerable after he recognized that the late priest had lived a life of heroic virtue.
The miracle attributed to him for beatification was ratified on 17 October 1986 following the conclusion of a diocesan tribunal. John Paul II approved the miracle on 10 July 1990 and beatified him on 7 October 1990..