Saturday, April 30, 2011

Life of Pope John Paul II

John Paul II Priests

The following comes from the Headline Bistro:

It was a constant refrain. During my happy years as a rector at the North American College in Rome, I had the annual pleasant duty of reading the spiritual autobiographies of our incoming class of forty-five or so new men.

Over and over again I would read, “The example of Pope John Paul II has been a major factor in my discernment of a vocation to serve Jesus and His Church as a priest.”

While I’m not all that fond of the term, I have to admit the happy reality that we now have an entire generation of “John Paul II priests.” Although I would also claim to be a “Pius XII priest,” a “John XXIII priest,” a “Paul VI priest,” and, I hope, a “Pope Peter I priest” – I, too, gratefully claim the badge “John Paul II priest.”

What attracted these seminarians, these priests, even these bishops, to the man now called “Blessed John Paul II”?

One factor would be the centrality of Jesus. He would laugh at the term, “John Paul II priests.” He’d remind us, “No! We are disciples, priests of Jesus Christ.”

For John Paul II, Jesus Christ is the answer to the question asked by every human life. His existence on earth was a daily response to the invitation given the disciples on the Sea of Galilee, “Come, follow me.”
Thanks to his Christ-centered life, millions more made Jesus the focus of their lives. They would converse with the Lord in prayer, gaze upon Him in the Eucharist, serve Him in the poor, find His other disciples in the Church, and ask Him what He wanted them to do with their lives. For a number of them, the reply was, “be a priest.”

It would be John Paul who would powerfully remind the Church that, while all were called to be configured to Christ, some men were invited to be “re-ordered” at the core of their being to be configured to Christ as head, shepherd and spouse of the Church through the sacrament of Holy Orders.

The second factor: Blessed John Paul II moved a generation of priests by his courage. This is the man who kept repeating those words of God the Father and God the Son, “Do not be afraid.”

He sure had every earthly reason to be scared: born into the decimation of post-World War I Poland; losing all of his family by the time he was only twenty-one; the Nazis; then Stalin’s tyranny; Communist lies and oppression.

Yet he radiated a conviction, a confidence, a courage that a skeptical and frightened world craved. And young men were among them, reluctant to commit their lives to a question mark, but itching to embrace an exclamation point! They were tired of living in doubt and fear.

The third factor would be that John Paul reminded these men that they were God’s work of art; they had an eternal destiny; they were at their best when — according to his oft-repeated law of the gift — they gave themselves away in love, like Jesus on the cross.

Yes, you could do that radiantly through marriage and family, through consecrated religious life, as committed single disciples.

But a good number of men knew you could do it in a particularly effective way as priests.
For them, the Church became a resounding “yes!” to everything noble, liberating, virtuous and heroic in life. For them, the Church was a radiantly attractive spouse, and fidelity to her would be their new project in life.

So, for every one you read about in shock on the front page of the paper, there are ninety-nine who are faithful and generous.

If you ask these priests what keeps them that way, they’ll probably corner you and say, “No, not what, but who.”

And the who is Jesus, His Mother, His Spouse, the Church, His Real Presence … and the example of a man we now call “Blessed.”

Blessed John Paul II: A Saint Like Don Bosco

Michael Brown at Spirit Daily predicts that Blessed John Paul II will be a saint on the level of St. John Bosco! I think Don Bosco and Blessed John Paul are working together now for sure on behalf of the needs of the World! St. John Bosco, pray for us! Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

Check out the post at Spirit Daily here.

Biographer says JP II's legacy will take 'several hundred years' to unpack

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope John Paul II’s teachings will take centuries to fully explore and understand. That’s according to his official biographer, George Weigel.

“It’s going to be several hundred years before the Church really takes on board the breadth and depth of this man’s explication of the Gospel, and in that sense we’re going to be thinking, and arguing, about John Paul II for hundreds of years,” Weigel told the Catholic Herald on April 28.

The U.S. author devoted 15 years of his life researching his biographies “Witness to Hope” and “The End of the Beginning.” In that time he concluded that Pope John Paul was an “utterly normal human being” but one who was radically open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

“I think everything he did, as a literary man, as a philosopher, as a priest, a bishop, a statesman, a pope, grew out of his radical Christian discipleship,” he said.

“Very few of the billion Catholics in the world are going to have the range of talents that Karol Wojtyla had,” Weigel noted.

But “every baptised person has the opportunity to live a life of radical discipleship. And that’s our connection to him,” he said.

Weigel suggests that the most obvious legacy of Pope John Paul is the generation of young Catholics committed to Christian orthodoxy. “I look at my own parish in suburban Washington and see young couples raising Catholic families, who all took some form of inspiration from John Paul II. And I suspect this is replicated all over the world,” he said.

As for those who say the late Pope responded inadequately to priestly sex abuse cases that came to light late in his pontificate, Weigel said that criticism is off the mark. “The way to think about John Paul II and the priesthood is to recognise that he was a great reformer of the priesthood. The priesthood was in terrible shape in 1978 when he became pope; it was in remarkably better shape 26 years later. That’s the context,” he said.

Catholicism: Pope John Paul II

Friday, April 29, 2011

Pope John Paul II in Boston, 1979

Biggest Picture in history of John Paul II shines from St. Peter's Square

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Afterlife by Paul Simon

Statue of John Paul II unveiled near Vatican

Divine Mercy image in Chicago's Daly Plaza reaching thousands

The following comes from the CNA:

One of the fastest-growing devotions in the Catholic Church is reaching the heart of downtown Chicago through the work of the Heralds of Divine Mercy. The organization is publicly displaying a large image of Christ during a nine-day campaign of 24-hour prayer and evangelism.

“The Divine Mercy Project is really about having an opportunity to witness to the culture, in environments we're normally pushed out of,” said Michael C.X. Sullivan, a 40-year-old lawyer who developed the idea earlier this year. “It's specifically for the conversion of Chicago, America, and the world.”

The prayer vigil is taking place in Daly Plaza, a crowded area that features a number of civil administrative buildings. There, the Heralds of Divine Mercy are displaying a large cross along with a ten-foot-tall image of Christ based on the visions of St. Faustina Kowalska. While some participants remain in prayer, others take their turn distributing cards that promote the message of God's mercy.

Sullivan said his five-year-old son had become an enthusiastic evangelist, along with the many other participants who have manned the image in shifts all day and night. “He shoots out across Daly Plaza,” Sullivan said, “running right up to people and giving them the card.”

“Most people receive it, and look at it, and you see their countenance shift – there's a kind of a brightening. However, you also see a real darkness in some people, a hardness in them. So we say a prayer for them, if they don't want to receive this gift.”

CNA caught up with Sullivan on April 25, the fourth day of the campaign. During the afternoon, a “Life Mob” of about 50 pro-life Catholic young people had showed up with a large “rosary” made of dozens of helium filled balloons.

The young participants held down the large chain of balloons as they recited the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, a prayer that is associated with the image and typically prayed on rosary beads.

“Then they let go of all these balloons,” Sullivan recalled, “so there was this rosary floating up in the sky in front of city hall, in front of this icon of political corruption.”

“I broke out in laughter – it was just awesome.”

The vigil has taken on a more joyous tone since Easter Sunday. During Good Friday and Holy Saturday, however, the large image of Christ was covered with a purple cloth, indicating the solemnity of those liturgical days. The gesture intrigued many passers-by, who wondered what would appear when it was unveiled.

“The vigil participants were out there praying, and people were asking them, 'Why is this covered?'” said Sullivan. “Our culture is one that doesn't want to wait in expectation. Just having it veiled, for those days, was a witness to a more sacramental worldview.”

Now that the image is visible, Sullivan says it is awakening many Chicagoans' quietly suppressed faith.

“We've had people who work in the nearby buildings, sometimes coming up and just kneeling before it,” he observed. “There is this multitude out there that is crying out in silence for God's presence – in all levels of society, whether they're cleaning ladies or at the top of the ladder in media, news, banking, or politics.”

“When they see this sign – this sign that Christ exists, that there are people of faith who are willing to be out there 24 hours a day – they identify with those people. It's feeding and nourishing that inner life of faith in them.”

“I think our culture is ready for Catholics to become more 'evangelical' – more demonstrative, taking the strength of our faith into the public square without compromise.”

He believes that the Divine Mercy image, which shows rays of blood and water flowing from Jesus' heart, is a striking means of evangelism – especially in a highly visual culture, where images can have more impact than words.

“I think our Lord knew that we were entering into this time of a highly visual culture,” Sullivan said. “We have no idea how many people are being touched just by driving by and seeing it. We're seeing police officers drive up and stop near it, and they have this look in their eyes. There's something that is happening to them.”

“We trust that the Lord will use this image as a means of touching souls – because he said he would.”

St. Faustina Kowalska, the 20th century Polish nun whose visions inspired the image, said that Jesus asked her to have it painted and displayed as a sign of God's love during the upheavals of modern history. Sullivan and his fellow vigil participants expect to pass out 20,000 cards bearing the image, along with a prayer and a passage from St. Faustina's diary.

While the Divine Mercy Project seeks to evangelize the public, it also has the goal of encouraging Catholics to perform the “corporal works of mercy” – acts such as feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and sheltering the homeless. These acts, Sullivan noted, are an essential part of the message given to the world through St. Faustina.

“Jesus said that the strongest faith is of no avail without works,” he said. “Christ demands deeds of mercy.”

The Heralds of Divine Mercy are already getting requests from at least five other U.S. states, where devotees want to launch similar campaigns in the public square. Sullivan believes that the project has national potential, as long as Catholics are willing to step out and take the necessary risks.

“You can say 'Jesus, I trust in you' to your heart's content,” he said, “but if there's no risk involved in that trust, then where is the proof? As Catholics, we really have to put more on the line.”

“Our fears and anxieties keep the power of our faith locked up,” said Sullivan. “But when we lead with prayer, and take risks, God shows up.”

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pope John Paul II: Do not let your hearts be troubled

Called To the Monastic Life

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pope Benedict: Only in God can we discover life's meaning

The following comes from the CNA:

On the first day of his Easter vacation, Pope Benedict XVI told Christians to turn to the risen Christ if they wish to discover the purpose of their lives.

"Only if we turn to God, to pray, can we discover the deepest meaning of our lives, and our daily journey will be illuminated by the light of the Risen One," he told those gathered in the courtyard of the papal holiday residence at Castel Gandolfo, 15 miles southeast of Rome.

"Truly the Lord is risen! Hallelujah! The Resurrection of the Lord marks the renewal of our human condition. Christ has conquered death, caused by our sin, and brings us back to eternal life," the Pope said one day after celebrating Easter at the St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

Drawing upon various sources the Pope asked, "How can we meet the Lord and become His most authentic witnesses?”

Pope Benedict turned to St. Maximus of Turin for the answer, recalling his quote: ‘Whoever wants to reach the Savior, first must put his faith into the right hand of God and ... he must learn to constantly gaze with mind and heart upon the heights of God, where Christ is risen."

Pope Benedict then led those in attendance in praying the "Regina Coeli" or "Queen of Heaven."

In the weeks following Easter Sunday, the Regina Coeli is the standard midday prayer of the Holy Father and the wider Catholic Church. It replaces the usual noontide "Angelus" prayer. The "Regina Coeli" recalls the resurrection of Jesus Christ with special reference to his mother Mary.

The Pope concluded his address by looking forward to his forthcoming visit to Venice on this the feast day of the city's patron, St. Mark the Evangelist.

Marian Aparitions in the Ukraine

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Throne: By Michael W. Smith

Have a blessed Easter Week!

His Resurrection!

Friday, April 22, 2011

We Fall Down by Chris Tomlin

Blessed Maria Gabriella: A saint for Christian unity

Today the Church recalls the memorial of Blessed Maria Gabriella. Her short life was dedicated to the cause of Christian unity. The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Born to a family of shepherds. As a child she was described as obstinate, critical, protesting, and rebellious - but loyal, and obedient; she would say no to a request - but act on it at once. At 18 she became gentler, her temper abated, she became involved in prayer and charity, and joined "Azione Cattolic," a Catholic youth movement. At 21 she entered the Trappestine monastery of Grottaferrata. When she was accepted, her attitude finally became "Now do what You will."

When the community's leader explained a request for prayer and offering for the great cause of Christian Unity, Maria Gabriella felt compelled to offer her young life to the cause. Though she'd never been sick before, she suddenly developed tuberculosis. In a mere 15 months spent in prayer for Unity, it took her to her death.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pope Benedict: Indifference to God brings indifference to evil

The following comes from the CNA:

An indifference to God leads to an indifference to evil. That was the message from Pope Benedict XVI at his April 20 Wednesday Audience in St. Peter’s Square, his last before Easter.

On the eve of Holy Thursday, the Pope dwelt upon Christ’s agony in the Garden of Gethsemane when the apostles slept as Jesus suffered the torment of his impending crucifixion.

Pope Benedict said of those moments, “It’s our very sleepiness to the presence of God that renders us insensitive to evil: we don’t hear God because we don’t want to be disturbed, and so we remain indifferent to evil.” He said that such a disposition leads to “a certain callousness of the soul towards the power of evil.”

The Pope was keen to stress that Christ's rebuke to his slumbering apostles – “stay awake and keep vigil” – applies to the entire history of the Church. Jesus message, the Pope said, is a “permanent message for all time because the disciples’ sleepiness is not problem of that one moment, rather of the whole of history, ‘the sleepiness’ is ours, of those of us who do not want to see the full force of evil and do not want to enter into his Passion.”

The next three days are the most sacred in the Christian calendar. Those three days, known in Latin as the “Triduum,” observe the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ nearly 2000 years ago in Palestine. The Pope observed, “The liturgies of these days invite us to ponder the loving obedience of Christ who, having become like us in all things but sin, resisted temptation and freely surrendered himself to the Father’s will.”

The next major event on Pope Benedict’s calendar will be his “Chrism Mass” tomorrow morning in St. Peter’s Basilica. There, around 1,600 clergy from the Diocese of Rome and Roman colleges will renew their ordination promises.

The Making of So Beautiful or So What by Paul Simon

The following comes from the Christian Post:

Paul Simon’s last album was entitled Surprise, but it’s his newest album that is quite surprising.
It’s all about God, Jesus, angels, and the afterlife. And the album cover looks like a multi-colored DNA helix, causing speculation that this album is really about a search for the meaning of life.

The lyrics of the album’s first cut, "Getting Ready for Christmas Day," are taken directly from a 1941 sermon by famed Atlanta preacher Rev. J.M. Gates.

“I took a big chunk of this guy’s sermon, which was recorded in 1941,” said singer/Songwriter Simon. “It was like it was meant to be there.”

The catchy, African-inspired and bluesy rhythm of that first track underscores the chorus:

Getting ready for the power and the glory and the story of the Christmas Day.

For more of this article please click here.

The Mission of Jesus

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Passion of the Christ

Sunday Night Live - Jesus of Nazareth by Pope Benedict XVI

Archbishop Sheen’s sainthood cause moving ahead

Our Father from Catholic Core on Vimeo.

The following comes from the Kresta in the Afternoon site:

The beatification cause of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen will advance this May when Bishop Daniel J. Jenky of Peoria will present Pope Benedict XVI with the position paper summarizing the life and holiness of the famous television evangelist.

“America is in need of a saint like Archbishop Sheen. He brought so many people closer to Christ during his life here on earth and continues to do so even today through his many writings, television and radio shows,” explained Fr. Andrew Apostoli, the vice postulator tasked with preparing and advocating Sheen’s cause.

The formal filing of the position paper, called a “positio,” with the Congregation for Saints’ Causes is the initial step in the Vatican’s process to determine whether Archbishop Sheen should be beatified and canonized as a saint.

Sheen was raised in Peoria, Ill. and ordained a priest of the Diocese of Peoria in 1919.

Bishop Jenky became the Bishop of Competence sponsoring Sheen’s cause in 2002. He is also president of the Peoria-based Archbishop Sheen Foundation. The bishop will present the position paper on Sheen’s cause to the Pope on May 25 at the end of the weekly general audience.

In November 2010 the Diocese of Peoria suspended its promotion of Archbishop Sheen’s cause because of a dispute with the Archdiocese of New York over the final resting place of his remains. The diocese resumed its work in January 2011.

Msgr. Stanley Deptula, executive director of the Archbishop Sheen Foundation, said that once the Congregation for Saints’ Causes officially approves the paper they will begin the investigation into an alleged healing attributed to Sheen.

“The foundation believes the healing is a miracle granted through the late archbishop’s intercession,” Msgr. Deptula explained. Details about supposed miracles are often not discussed while the claim is under investigation by the Vatican.

Deptula and Apostoli will accompany Bishop Jenky to present the positio, as will Msgr. Richard Soseman, the foundation’s foreign liaison; Dr. Louis Varela, the foundation’s chairman of the board; and Maria Alicia Varela, a foundation board member.

Archbishop Sheen was a charismatic author and a radio and television personality. He broadcast his famous television program “Life is Worth Living” from New York City, where he was ordained an auxiliary bishop in 1951.

Sheen later served as Bishop of Rochester. After his death in 1979, he was buried in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Relics of Don Bosco Arrive in Taiwan

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

After having travelled around Hong Kong and Macao, Don Bosco’s casket arrived in Taiwan, which is also a part of the Salesian Province of China. The relics stayed on the island between 7 and 10 April, arousing faith and enthusiasm in a large number of people.

The Salesians in Taiwan had been preparing to welcome Don Bosco’s relics since October, but given the small percentage of Catholics on the island, about 01.4% of the population, until the last moment they had not known what sort of turn out there would be. In addition, for the local culture the pilgrimage of a relic was something difficult to understand, and the customs and other formalities at first seemed rather complicated.

In fact the visit of the casket became a great celebration involving not only the Salesian community and Family, but very many Christians and people of other faiths or none.

On 7 April, the day the casket arrived in Taiwan, the President, the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister sent bouquets of flowers and greetings for the occasion. During the previous week many groups and parishes in different parts of the island had begun to call and announce that they were coming to venerate the relics. In this way during the four days stay of the casket, the Don Bosco parish church open 24 hours a day for the occasion was never empty. On average each day 1000 people visited the church and venerated the casket so much so that the 4000 momentos of the visit were insufficient; priests were kept busy hearing confessions and about 20 Masses were said all well-attended.

The most moving occasion during the visit was on 9 April with the celebration of the Spirituality Day of the Salesian Family. At the National University of Taipei, Fr Domingos Leong and Sr. Tommasina Lee FMA gave two talks and then answered questions. Then in another session Fr Francesco Tsang and the Salesian Cooperator Wong Li Mang spoke about their personal experience. The day continued with a social event and then Mass with the renewal of their promise by 35 Salesians-Cooperators, a youth festival and a prayer vigil led by the youngsters until the evening.

Many people recalled that on the same day 125 years ago, in 1886, Don Bosco, during his visit to Barcelona, had dreamed about the future expansion of his work into countries in the Far East.

The following day after a special farewell ceremony led by Fr Simon Lam, Provincial of China, the casket began its journey to the “Mary Help of Christians” Province of Myanmar.

Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz Abbey Sing Gregorian Chant

Remembering the Election of Pope Benedict XVI

Monday, April 18, 2011

Savior, Please by Josh Wilson

Josh Wilson- Savior Please (Legendado em Portugues) from daniel pc on Vimeo.

God Wants Us To Be Happy

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron comments on Pope Benedict XVI and How to Read the Bible

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Gethsemane by Ted Neely

Youth challenged to create new Renaissance with social media

The following comes from the CNA:
The Secretary of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council on Social Communications says he wants to challenge young Catholics to “be geniuses and creators of a new Renaissance” using social media.

Monsignor Paul Tighe likened the blossoming of social media to the ancient architectural wonders created during the first Renaissance. “The magnificent churches of Rome were built during the first Renaissance using the new technology, art and engineering of the time. Young people can now do the same today using the wonderful new technologies at their disposal including new media,” he said in an April 15 interview with CNA.

The pontifical council Msgr. Tighe works for was established in 1948 by Pope Pius XII primarily to monitor and critique the film industry. Since then its work has expanded as modern forms of communications have proliferated. Presently the Council is helping to overhaul the Vatican’s presence on the Internet, bringing all the Church’s major news agencies together onto one website. That includes the newspaper “L’Osservatore Romano,” Vatican Radio and Fides news agency.

Msgr. Tighe now wants young Catholics to realize the potential of this digital age.

“The first thing is that for young people ‘new media’ isn’t actually new. It’s just everyday life to them. So I want them to have a sense of how things were before and how exciting this digital age actually is. It has big potential,” he said.

He also noted that the social media can be used to draw people to Christ. “It’s interesting how the new technologies are being used by young people as a way of seeking friendship with others. That’s not just a cultural phenomenon. It’s actually in our nature – made in the image and likeness of God - to seek friendship. I’d hope young people can then open up to that ultimate other, God, through the same means.”

Msgr. Tighe pointed to websites such as “Sacred Space” which, he says, provide online “silence and solitude” for anybody seeking God.

Meanwhile, the project to bring all the Vatican’s media outlets onto one website should be complete by Easter Sunday this year.

Mother Teresa: The Legacy

Happy Birthday Pope Benedict!

Happy 84th birthday Pope Benedict!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns

What Would JPII Do?

The following comes from Zenit:

What would Pope John Paul the Great make of some of the world's problems today, and his own beatification?

To obtain a few insights, I asked John Paul II's biographer, George Weigel. Author of "Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II," the most comprehensive study of the soon-to-be beatified Pope, Weigel recently published its sequel, "The End and the Beginning," which tells the dramatic story of John Paul II's battles with communism as well as the late Pontiff's final years.

Weigel believes that with regard to Europe's ever-increasing spiritual and moral malaise, John Paul II would be doing "just what he tried to do for decades, and what Benedict XVI has tried to do since 2005 -- rouse Europe from its spiritual torpor, which is killing it."

To offer further insight into what he might have said today, Weigel suggests looking at one of John Paul II's last major statements on the continent: his 2003 apostolic exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa" (the Church in Europe). Weigel summarizes the text as an analysis of Europe's crisis of cultural morale rooted in the Continent's "abandonment of the God of the Bible."

In "The End and the Beginning," Weigel writes that the apostolic exhortation offers a "penetrating analysis of contemporary Europe's crisis of cultural morale" and the most "developed exposition" of the 21st-century implications of Catholic social teaching since his 1991 encyclical "Centesimus Annus."

Moreover, the papal biographer says that "Ecclesia in Europa" "stands as John Paul II's last gift to the world Church of his distinctive reading of the cultural, social, economic, and political signs of the times in the developed world."

Almost 10 years on, and that profound analysis remains just as relevant today. In a passage from it quoted in Weigel's book, John Paul II wrote of Europe's "growing need for hope, a hope that will enable us to give meaning to life and history and to continue on our way together." That need, the Pontiff wrote, has grown out of a "kind of practical agnosticism and religious indifference whereby many Europeans give the impression of living without spiritual roots and somewhat like heirs who have squandered a patrimony entrusted to them by history."

Europe's diagnosis

In "Ecclesia in Europa," John Paul II observed an "inner emptiness that grips many people," a widespread "existential fragmentation [in which] a feeling of loneliness is present," a weakening of the family and a "selfishness that closes individuals and groups in upon themselves." He also noted "a growing lack of concern for ethics and an obsessive concern for personal interests and privileges [leading to] the diminished number of births."

And despite the fall of communism just over a decade earlier, he lamented that Europeans hadn't found an expected new freedom but rather an existential angst: "One of the roots of the hopelessness that assails many people today is their inability [to] allow themselves to be forgiven," he wrote, "an inability often resulting from the isolation of those who, by living as if God did not exist, have no one from whom they can seek forgiveness."

But he stressed it was through "the biblical conception of man" that Europe had once drawn "the best of its humanistic culture, found inspiration for its artistic and intellectual creations, created systems of law and, not least, advanced the dignity of the person as the subject of inalienable rights." It was the Church, as the bearer of the Gospel, "that helped spread and consolidate these values which have made European culture universal."

At the end of the apostolic exhortation, John Paul II naturally closes on a hopeful note, but not without qualification. He suggests that Europe is not guaranteed a future, but must choose to have a future. "That would mean choosing to have children," writes Weigel, reflecting on the document's final passage. "That would mean choosing a firmer foundation for Europe's human rights commitments than pragmatism or utilitarianism. That would mean, above all, a Europe reclaiming the spiritual and moral patrimony of its biblical and Christian heritage, a crucial and irreducible part of Europe being Europe."

Economic crisis, war

On the global economic crisis, and in particular the vast fiscal deficits affecting the U.S. and Europe, Weigel believes John Paul would have clear insights into some of the causes. "He would quickly grasp the demographic character of the fiscal crisis in Europe: When you stop creating the human future through self-induced infertility, bad things are likely to happen," he said. "I like to think he would hope the U.S. could show a way forward for developed societies, all of whom are grappling with the fact that the welfare state as we have known it is simply unaffordable if it remains a preserve of the state."

What would John Paul II have made of the Arab Spring? Would he, for example, have supported the military action in Libya, ostensibly based on humanitarian grounds? Weigel responds by stressing that John Paul II "did not understand his role as Pope as that of global referee, determining when the use of armed force was legitimate; that was the responsibility of statesmen, as he understood things."

But he added: "I think he would be saddened by a maniac like Qaddafi, as he was saddened by other maniacs, including Saddam Hussein. He did speak to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) in 1992 about the 'duty' of 'humanitarian intervention' in cases of impending or actual genocide, but without specifying on whom that duty fell, or how it was to be met."

Weigel stressed that Benedict XVI has also said similar things, "without making the analysis of 'who' and 'how' any more precise." But he believes this is "a major hole in the Church's thinking that badly needs filling," and he added that "saying that 'war doesn't solve anything,' as the bishops of Libya recently said, is not a serious analysis of anything."

John Paul II's beatification on May 1 promises to be a great celebration, fitting for someone whom the Italian Cardinal Camillo Ruini this week described as a "giant man and Pope." John Paul II beatified more Catholics than any other pontiff in history (1,340) – principally to offer the faithful role models whom they could follow. But what would he make of his own elevation to the altars?

"Karol Wojtyla spent his entire adult life conforming himself to the will of God as that manifested itself through the Church," Weigel said. "He didn't want to be a bishop, but he accepted the task; he didn't want to be pope, but he accepted that. I expect that, with that characteristic twinkle in his eye, he'll accept what is being done to him on May 1."

Peace is Coming

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Actor Martin Sheen says his Catholic religion saved him

I came across this at the Spirit Daily site:

Charlie Sheen’s father Martin Sheen says his Catholic religion has taken him through very tough times.

Sheen, now 70, gave an interview about his upcoming film projects that appeared in last Saturday’s Irish Times.

Though he broke with the church for a while, Sheen says he came back into the fold after suffering a heart attack at the age of 40.

“It’s always a crisis that brings you back. And we begin to ask those two fundamental questions, if your gonna reflect on your life and take serious responsibility for it: who am I, and why am I here? And you reflect on those. I damn near died; I had the last rites,” he says.

“I started going to Mass again but it was out of fear and apprehension that I would die . . . and so it was another four years that I actually committed to come back. I came back to the Church of Vatican II, which I didn’t have a clue had gone on in my absence.”

Perhaps Sheen was thinking of his son when he spoke about how Catholicism can provide a concrete and real way forward when other vices fail.

“We all yearn for the sacred, we are always looking for a transcendence; some people go about it with drugs or alcohol or sex or power or ego, whatever, and when they prove not satisfying and we come to our senses, we begin to realize that there’s another costly journey,” says Sheen.

“It has to cost you something; if something worthwhile doesn’t cost you something, you are left to question its worth. And so I decided to go on that journey and, you know, I’m still at it.”

His latest role, in the Irish production Stella Days, sees him playing a Tipperary priest in the 1950s who loves music and film, but feels as if he has nothing in common with his parishioners. Father Daniel Barry seeks to raise funds for a new church by opening a cinema in the town, but meets opposition at every juncture.

Sheen’s mother was born and raised in Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary, and the Catholic faith is one that he follows as best he can, so the movie was a natural fit.

“I was raised Catholic, my parents were devout Catholics,” Sheen told The Irish Times. “My mother had family rosary most nights in the house, I remember growing up. But when something is given to you, it’s not unusual to let it slip through . . . I loved the church and the faith. But it wasn’t really something personal, it wasn’t costing me anything.”

No word yet on when Stella Days will be released in Ireland, or what the plans are for the film over here.

Check out a video interview here.

Pope Benedict: To be holy is to love God, others

The following comes from the CNS:

Everyone is called to holiness, which is simply striving to imitate Christ, particularly in loving God and loving others, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Ending a long series of general audience talks about saints and doctors of the church, the pope spoke about the meaning of holiness and how it is achieved.

Addressing an estimated 12,000 people in St. Peter's Square April 13, Pope Benedict said there are three simple rules for living a holy life:

-- "Never let a Sunday go by without an encounter with the risen Christ in the Eucharist; this is not an added burden, it is light for the entire week."

-- "Never begin or end a day without at least a brief contact with God" in prayer.

-- "And along the pathway of our lives, follow the road signs that God has given us in the Ten Commandments, read in the light of Christ; they are nothing other than explanations of what is love in specific situations."

The pope said he knows most people, aware of their limits and weaknesses, think it wouldn't be possible to be a saint.

The doubts, he said, are one of the reasons the church proposes "a host of saints -- those who fully lived charity and knew how to love and follow Christ in their daily lives" -- to be remembered on specific days throughout the year. The saints come from every period of the church's history, every part of the world, every age group and every lifestyle, he said.

"I must say that, personally, for my faith, many saints -- not all of them -- are true stars in the firmament of history," the pope said. "But I also want to say that for me it is not just the great saints, who I know well, who show me the path to follow, but the simple saints -- the good people who I have known in my life and who will never be canonized."

The unnamed saints "are people who are, so to say, 'normal,' without visible heroism, but in their goodness each day, I see the truth of the faith, this goodness that has matured in the faith of the church. For me, their goodness is the surest form of apologetics for the church and a sign of where truth lies," the pope said.

"It is in the communion of the saints -- canonized and not canonized -- that the church lives," Pope Benedict said.

"We enjoy their presence, their company and we should cultivate the firm hope of imitating their journey and of joining them one day in the same blessed life, eternal life," he said.

Pope Benedict said the Holy Spirit wants to transform each and every Christian into "tiles in the great mosaic of holiness that God is creating in history."

"How great and beautiful and also simple is the Christian vocation seen in this light. All of us are called to holiness," he said.

EWTN Live: St. Francis De Sales

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bleed Red by Ronnie Dunn

Pope John Paul II's Feast Day Set for Ocotber 22

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope John Paul II’s biographer is welcoming the announcement of a new feast day for the soon-to-be beatified pontiff. The Vatican has declared that Oct. 22, the day he became Pope, will now mark the occasion.

“I think it's an entirely appropriate date, for this was the day that Karol Wojtyla formally began his service to the universal Church and issued that ringing cry to freedom and evangelism: "Be not afraid! Open the doors to Christ," George Weigel told CNA.

As is customary with beatified persons, the feast day will be inserted into the Church calendar of only those places where Pope John Paul II lived and worked – the diocese of Rome and the dioceses of Poland.

In other places, local bishops will have to formally ask the Vatican for permission to mark the feast day. The same restrictions also apply to the naming of churches for Pope John Paul.

In a break with custom, though, the Vatican is giving Catholics throughout the world a year to celebrate a Mass in thanksgiving for the beatification.

In an April 12 statement the Vatican said this is due to “the exceptional character of the beatification of the Venerable John Paul II, recognized by the entire Catholic Church spread throughout the world.”

The Vatican has also unveiled the specific prayer, or collect, to be used at any feast day celebration or thanksgiving Mass. It reads:

“O God, who are rich in mercy

and who willed that Blessed John Paul II

should preside as Pope over your universal Church,

grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,

we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,

the sole Redeemer of mankind,

Who lives and reigns.”

Weigel welcomed the new prayer.

“The evocation of the divine mercy, the face of the Father that John Paul II believed was being turned to the world in a special way at this moment of history … also brings to mind the late Pope's inaugural encyclical, ‘The Redeemer of Man,’” he said.

Pope John Paul will be beatified on May 1 and will then be given the title “Blessed.” “Beatification” is the second step in a three-stage process the Catholic Church has created for declaring a deceased person a saint.

A Visit to The Vatican Library

Saint of the day: Margaret of Castello

Today the Church remembers Blessed Margaret of Castello. The following comes from Catholic Online:

It must have been about the year 1293 when some women of Citta-di-Castello in Umbria, who had gone one day to pray in their parish church, found within, a destitute blind child of about six or seven, who had been abandoned there by her parents. The kind souls were filled with pity for the little waif, and, poor though they were, they took charge of her - first one family and then another, sheltering and feeding her until she became practically the adopted child of the village. One and all declared that, far from being a burden, little Margaret brought a blessing upon those who befriended her. Some years later, the nuns of a local convent offered her a home. The girl rejoiced at the prospect of living with religious, but her joy was short-lived. The community was lax and worldly; Margaret's fervor was a tacit reproach to them, nor did she bring them the profit they had anticipated. Neglect was succeeded by petty persecution, and then by active calumny. Finally she was driven forth ignominiously to face the world once more.

However, her old friends rallied around her. One couple offered her a settled home, which became her permanent residence. At the age of fifteen, Margaret received the habit of a tertiary from the Dominican fathers, who had lately established themselves in Citta-di-Castello, and thence forth, she lived a life entirely devoted to God. More than ever did God's benediction rest upon her. She cured another tertiary of an affliction of the eyes which had baffled medical skill, and her mantle extinguished a fire which had broken out in her foster parents' house. In her desire to show her gratitude to the people of Citta-di-Castello, she undertook to look after the children while their parents were at work. Her little school prospered wonderfully, for she understood children, being very simple herself. She set them little tasks which she helped them to perform; she instructed them in their duty to God and to man, instilling into them her own great devotion to the sacred Childhood, and she taught them the psalms which, inspite of her blindness, she had learned by heart at the convent. We are told that when at prayer she was frequently raised a foot or more from the ground, remaining thus for a long time. Thus she lived, practically unknown outside her own neighborhood, until the age of thirty-three, when she died amidst the friends who loved her, and was buried by their wish in the parish church, where many remarkable miracles took place. The cult of Blessed Margaret was confirmed in 1609.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Shape I'm In by Joe Nichols

Quotes From Saints Regarding The Catholic Mass

Monday, April 11, 2011

If I Stand by Rich Mullins

Cardinal Angelo Amato: JP II beatification process marked by professionalism, accuracy

Our Salesian Cardinal Amato speaks here about the beatification for Pope John Paul II. The following comes from the CNA:

A powerful sense of the late Pope John Paul II's holiness – and not popular pressure – has driven his beatification cause forward so swiftly, according to the Vatican’s top saint-making official.

Cardinal Angelo Amato said the investigation into the former Pope’s holiness has been “conducted with extreme accuracy and professionalism.”

His remarks came in a speech at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross that was published in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano April 5.

Some critics have complained that the former Pope’s cause is being rushed through to satisfy ordinary Catholics’ demands that John Paul be declared a saint.

But Cardinal Amato, head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said that is not the case.

He acknowledged that spontaneous chants of “Santo Subito!” (Saint Now!) erupted in St. Peter's Square on the day of his death, April 2, 2005.

And he said the cause moved quickly at first because the newly elected Pope Benedict XVI had waived the normal waiting period for considering the cause.

However, he maintained there was no special treatment or exceptions made in studying the evidence.

“The invocation of the people of God was received, but the millennial prudence of the Church suggested to meticulously obey norms passed by John Paul himself in 1983,” Cardinal Amato said.

“Santo subito', yes, but above all 'Santo sicuro' (sure saint). An incautious haste was not to prejudice the accuracy of the procedure.”

The cardinal took pains in spelling out the procedure for examining a person's sanctity.

Special importance, he said, is given to the “sensus fidei,” or the universal agreement of the faithful about the holiness of the person whose cause is under investigation.

He listed several elements that must pass the test of “sensus fidei.” A person must have a reputation of sanctity among the people, a “fame” for having lived a saintly life beyond “common goodness.” The deceased must also be a point of reference for intercession in heaven on behalf of the faithful.

The candidate cannot just be a “good” person, he must be “holy” in the likeness of Christ to be considered for sainthood. It's not about recognition of greatness in theology or for single charitable acts, said the cardinal, “but a constant attitude - a habit - of charity, as a continuous expression of grace.”

This reputation of sanctity must lead to a “spontaneous” eruption of devotion and support for the potential saint after his death.

“One cannot begin a process if there was no widespread, genuine and spontaneous reputation of sanctity,” said Cardinal Amato.

“The faithful, in fact, are endowed with the divine grace of an undeniable spiritual perception in locating and recognizing the concrete existence of the heroic exercise of the Christian virtues in certain baptized people.”

He pointed to examples such as Blessed Teresa of Calcutta or St. Pio of Pietrelcina in this regard.

These criteria for recognizing the saintly reputation of a candidate are just the first of several steps in the process, said the cardinal, but they are all part of the “sensus fidei” and “indispensable” to beginning a cause.

It is primarily generated by the faithful and “not by the hierarchy” of the Church, the cardinal explicitly noted. The “voice of the people” who venerate the holy person are often joined by the “voice of God” through which graces, heavenly favors and even miracles are granted through the person's intercession.

Finally, the “voice of the Church” enters to examine and evaluate the person's heroic virtue and miracle - except in cases of martyrdom - and then the process moves on to beatification and canonization.

“This full theological concept of sensus fidei ... has powerfully emerged in the case of the preparation of the beatification process for John Paul II,” said Cardinal Amato.

He said that the late-Pope's Catholic orthodoxy was clear in his writings and teachings. Witness accounts were pored over and heroism was found in his manifestation of faith, hope and charity.

“Such heroism confers on the pontiff a perfection that surpasses the forces of human nature, signifying that the virtue is not only human effort but a gift of grace from God and a consequence in the heart of he who does not place obstacles (to it), but collaborates with it.”

His cause was approved by theologians and clergy of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints and he was declared “venerable” in Dec. 2009.

The healing of French Sister Marie Simon Pierre Normand of Parkinson's disease through Pope John Paul II's intercession was carefully examined and declared “inexplicable” thus constituting a miracle. On Jan 14, 2011 Pope Benedict XVI signed the decree approving the miracle and at the same time officially gave legitimacy the sense of the faithful about the late-Pope's reputation for holiness.

“The undeniable and constant pressure from the faithful and mass media on the urgent conclusion of the cause - contrary to what could be thought - did not disturb the procedure. Actually it permitted action with greater attention to the screening of testimonies and events,” admitted the cardinal.

While the “door is opened” to canonization with Pope John Paul’s beatification, Cardinal Amato cautioned that time - and a miracle - will be necessary for him to be declared a saint. He invited people to spend that time “getting to better know the holy life of the blessed and imitating his virtues.”

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Church's Urgent Need: An Outburst of Charity

The following comes from Zenit:

The Church is in urgent need of an "outburst of charity," that oil that heals all fractures and that led the Church itself in ancient times to be referred to as "agape," according to the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa made this reflection today when he gave his third Lenten sermon in the presence of Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia.

The preacher continued with his Lenten series on love, saying that after the first two meditations on the love of God as gift, the time had come for a reflection on "the duty to love, in particular, the duty to love our neighbor."

Father Cantalamessa began by noting: "A strange phenomenon has been observed. The river Jordan, as it flows, eventually forms two seas: the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea; but while the Sea of Galilee is teeming with life, and contains some of the most abundant fishing waters on earth, the Dead Sea is exactly that: a 'dead' sea, there is no trace of life in it or around it, only saltiness. [...]

"The explanation, at least partially, is this: the Sea of Galilee receives its waters from the Jordan, but it does not keep them to itself, it lets them flow out so that they irrigate the entire Jordan valley. The Dead Sea receives the waters and retains them for itself, it has no outlets, not a drop of water comes out of it.

"This is a symbol. To receive love from God, we must give it to our brothers and sisters, and the more we give, the more we receive."

Father Cantalamessa went on to consider the newness of Christ's new commandment, observing that in fact, it was an ancient law.

"How than does Jesus call it 'his' commandment and the 'new' commandment?" he asked. "The answer is that, with him, the object, the subject and the reason for loving one's neighbor have all changed."

Neighbor now includes one's enemies, the preacher said. And the person who loves "is not another person; it is I." "And most of all, the model or measure of the love of neighbor has changed."

"With Jesus," he explained, "there is a move from a two-person relationship: 'What the other person does to you, do the same to him,' to a three-person relationship: 'What God has done to you, do the same to the other person.'"

Channel of love

Father Cantalamessa then clarified what kind of love this must be, speaking of what must be at its root.

"What is required of love is that it be true, authentic, not a pretense," he said. "Just as wine, to be 'genuine,' must be squeezed from the grape, so must love come from the heart."

Nevertheless, the preacher clarified, it would be a "fatal error to see charity of the heart and charity in deed as being opposed to one another, or to use interior charity as a kind of alibi for a lack of active charity. [...] [I]t is not a question of lessening the importance of charitable works [...] but of ensuring that they have a firm foundation against selfishness and its infinitely wily ways."

Hence, genuine Christian charity must begin from the heart, but this is more than a "shift of emphasis from the external practice of charity to the interior practice," the Capuchin continued. "That is only the first step. Internalization leads to divinization! [...] When a Christian loves like that, it is God who loves through him; he becomes a channel of God’s love."

Charity and the Church

Referring to the apostolic writings, Father Cantalamessa asserted that the "first sphere of the exercise of charity must be the Church and more specifically the community in which one lives, the people one relates to each day."

He explained: "In ancient times it was customary for a while to apply the term ‘charity,' agape, not only to the fraternal meal that Christians shared together, but also to the whole Church."

The preacher said that same defining mark is needed today: "The Church is in urgent need of an outburst of charity which will heal her fractures."

He then gave some concrete recommendations to work on charity.

Mutual judgments is one area of work, he said, though he admitted that this is a complex issue. "How can anyone live without judging at all?" he asked. "Judgment is implicit in us, even by a look. It is impossible to observe, to hear, to live, without making assessments, in other words, without judging. [...] In fact, it is not so much the judgment we must remove from our heart, but the poison from our judgment! That is, the resentment, the condemnation. [...] It is negative judgments which are taken up again and banished by the word of God, those which condemn the sinner as well as the sin, those which are aimed more at the punishment than the correction of a brother."

Esteem is another concrete point of work, Father Cantalamessa proposed.

"To esteem one's brother, one must not esteem oneself too much, not be always sure of oneself," he said. "[...] 'To minimize' should become our favorite verb in relations with others: to minimize our own merits and the defects of others. Not to minimize our defects and the merits of others as we often tend to do."

Then he spoke of slander, which he said today has a different name: "It's called gossip and seems to have become an innocent thing, but in fact it is one of the things that most pollutes our lives together. It is not enough to avoid speaking ill of others, we must also prevent people from doing so in our presence, making it clear, perhaps by our silence, that we do not approve.

"How different the atmosphere is in a work-place or community where St. James' warning is taken seriously! In many public places there used to be a notice saying: 'No smoking here' or even: 'No blaspheming here.' It would be a good idea in some cases to replace them with 'No gossiping here!'"

Father Cantalamessa concluded by recommending St. Paul's words to the Philippians, as if they were addressed to us: "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, one in love, one in heart and one in mind. Do nothing out of jealousy or vanity. Instead, out of humility of mind, everyone should give preference to others, everyone pursuing not his own interests but those of others. Make your own the mind of Christ Jesus."

"Adoro Te Devote"

Saturday, April 9, 2011

By Your Side by Tenth Avenue North

A Generation Thanks Pope John Paul II

The following comes from

With his 26-year pontificate, soon-to-be Blessed John Paul II guided, educated and inspired a whole generation of Catholics.

These Catholics often refer to him as John Paul the Great, and point to his witness when they speak of their vocations -- to the priesthood, to religious life, to marriage -- and to the universal call to sanctity, wherever God places them.

A survey of this generation brings to mind the variety of gifts about which St. Paul speaks: different kinds of service but the same Spirit and Lord, and "the same God who produces all of them in everyone." They might be serving in the Vatican or serving in the kitchen and the laundry, but they find in John Paul the Great a model to follow.

ZENIT spoke to a handful of JPII generation Catholics -- from a variety of walks of life, but drawn together by their experience of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto with the largest pilgrim group from the United States: the delegation from Erie, Pennsylvania. They all speak of the gratitude they feel for the Polish Pontiff.

Greg Schlueter led the organization for the Toronto pilgrimage and is coordinating JP2Journey -- an online week-by-week recap of the pilgrimage experience.

"If it's true that to see reality correctly we must see it 'God-bathed,' as Frank Sheed has suggested, then I can't help but thank God for the tremendous gift of John Paul II, who has substantially given me the lens," Schlueter reflected.

Schlueter told ZENIT how his vocation as a husband and father of seven is marked by the soon-to-be beatified Pope.

"John Paul II's vision opened my eyes to more clearly see and know Jesus Christ, in and through whom I'm coming to more fully understand our essential identity and mission as family: we image the Trinity. Our mission flows from this identity. We have been designed to participate in the very life of the Trinity, to make (God Who is) love known!" he said. "What a high and noble dignity!"

In fact, this conviction led Schlueter to found to invite families to discover and live their identity.

"I'm overwhelmed when I think of these tremendous personal and corporate blessings that have come by way of John Paul II, and am so moved that we can seek his intercession now as a blessed of heaven," he said.

Every day in every way

Father Edward Lohse, a priest of the Diocese of Erie, ordained in the Polish Pope's 11th year as Peter's Successor, is serving the Church at the top of its leadership. He's been working for nine months as an official of the Congregation for the Clergy.

He also speaks of a debt of gratitude to John Paul the Great. Father Lohse remembers the Holy Father's "witness of what it means to be a priest, striving each day to be faithful to Christ, to the Church, and to the people he was called to serve."

"By word and example, he showed us how to love with the heart of Christ," Father Lohse reflected. "[...] I sensed that when he preached about Christ, he was speaking not of some abstract truth, but of someone he knew personally, of someone whom he loved, and of someone who loved him."

Statia Brown is another member of the JPII generation who found her calling to serve God by forming a family. "Pope John Paul II has taught me how to praise God every day in every way," the mother of two explained. "He was a man who gave everything to the Lord. In my vocation as wife and mother his example has helped me to give the Lord the joys and trials of everyday life."

Totus tuus attitude

Far from being perceived as a distant ecclesiastic off in Rome, John Paul II affected the generation of Catholics who grew up and matured under his reign to such an extent that some of them consider him a friend.

Father Dan Hoffman, a priest of Erie studying canon law at the Catholic University of America, said the Pope "continues to inspire me to be a true witness of Christ to others by living my life with a 'totus tuus' attitude."

"I want to be a priest and a man that totally belongs to Christ and his Church and inspires others to give their lives totally to them as well," Father Hoffman said. "He will always be a true friend and companion to me."

John Paul II's legacy promises to continue for years to come. As his own spiritual children form the next generation of Catholics, the mark of the Polish Pope is sure to endure.

Jim Gallagher is one of those who will pass the seal of the JPII generation to the next wave of faithful. He works in education and is the father of seven. His first encounter with John Paul II was at the other North American World Youth Day: the one hosted by Denver in 1993. He and his wife hope to bring their seven children to Rome for the next Jubilee Year in 2025.

He described John Paul II's zeal and fervor as "infectious."

"Although John Paul II addressed multitudes of Catholic faithful, he emanated the presence of Christ in such a way that I felt his message was intended for me personally," Gallagher recounted.

Wife and mother Stephanie Muhs is herself convinced that John Paul II will be remembered forever.

"I am so grateful for the life of John Paul II," the New York youth minister affirmed. "Experiencing the joy he had, even in his suffering, really convicted me to live for Christ even when it hurts. Life is not always easy, but when we keep our eyes fixed on Christ, and our hearts open to him, we win! And in the end, John Paul II was a winner. His life will forever be remembered as saintly and full of love."

Fr. Robert Barron: What does it look like when we cooperate with God's plan?

Friday, April 8, 2011

How Deep The Father's Love For Us by Phillips, Craig, and Dean

Movie explores faith in Cristero War against forced secularism

The following comes from the CNA:

The director of the upcoming movie “Cristiada” describes his film about the armed resistance against the attempt to secularize Mexico by force in the 1920s as an inspiring tale of faith and religious freedom.

“Our film follows the stories of five ordinary people from across the country who chose to stand up for their rights,” director Dean Wright told CNA on April 4. “Ultimately, once they found themselves in this little civil war, they had to decide what they were willing to do and how far they were willing to go to stand up for freedom.”

The director has said Catholics have been “overwhelmingly supportive” of the film and filmmakers are “very excited” about the high level of interest in the movie’s portrayal of a tumultuous period in Church history.

In 1926 Mexico’s President Plutarco Elias Calles began strict enforcement of anti-clerical laws, sparking opposition from the Catholic Church.

These laws were discriminatory and quickly became “a frontal attack” on Catholic beliefs, Wright explained. The Mexican bishops suspended all public worship in Mexico in hopes of forcing a resolution.

“There was no negotiation, and people were left in the middle,” the director said. They protested and marched in the street, actions which President Calles interpreted as a threat to his rule.

“He responded with violence, in an attack on a church in Guadalajara. Dozens if not hundreds were killed.”

Opponents of Calles organized into home-grown armies of Cristeros, “soldiers for Christ” who united to stand up for their freedom of religion. They took up the rallying cry “Viva Cristo Rey,” which means “Long live Christ the King!”

“Cristiada,” planned for release in late 2011, is the first movie Wright has directed. He has previously worked as a visual effects executive producer on movies like “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Chronicles of Narnia” series.

He was introduced to the Cristero War through his friendship with Mexican producer Pablo Jose Barroso, who sent him a script he had developed about the event.

Wright was intrigued by the “incredibly inspirational people” whose lives form the basis for the movie.

“They’re ordinary people who are thrust into a position of monumental decisions that affect not just them and their family but their whole community and their nation.”

Actor Andy Garcia plays Enrique Gorostieta Velarde, a very respected and successful general who would take command of the Cristero armies.

“He was living the life of a man who feels his best days are behind him,” Wright explained. He was accused of being an atheist and had “issues with the organized Church.”

“His goal was to help reestablish the right to freedom of religion for everyone,” the director said, but in the course of the film “we see him rediscover not only the meaning of his life, but the meaning of his faith.”

Other characters in “Cristiada” are not so admirable.

Fr. Jose Reyes Vega, played by Santiago Cabrera, is a priest “you won’t see canonized,” Wright dryly remarked. He took up arms against the anti-clerical government, seeing war as the only way to bring his country back “from the brink of complete loss of faith.”

“He makes mistakes,” the director added. “And he causes an incident that almost single-handedly kills the Cristero movement.”

The priest was responsible for the burning of a train in which dozens of civilians were killed. The attack caused people to become extremely fearful of the Cristeros.

“This is something he is haunted with the rest of his life,” Wright said.

Peter O’Toole plays Fr. Christopher, a priest who unlike Fr. Vega is committed to peace.

President Calles is played by Ruben Blades, a onetime candidate for the presidency of Panama. The director said Blades is “fantastic” in portraying a man who is “pushed and pushed by the successes of the Cristeros.”

“His counter-reaction … creates an image of someone almost Nixonian in his belief that everyone is out to get him.

“That’s how things go so far afield and why it becomes so bloody,” explained Wright.

Other characters include General Gorostieta’s wife Tulita, played by Eva Longoria, who is instrumental in keeping the leader motivated.

Eduardo Verastegui plays Anacleto Gonzalez Flores, a brilliant lawyer and an ardent pacifist. Flores was executed by the Mexican government in 1927 and beatified as a martyr by Pope Benedict XVI in 2005.

Actress Catalina Sandino Moreno plays Adriana, a composite of real-life women involved in helping the Cristeros.

Oscar Isaac plays Victoriano “El Catorce” Ramirez. He received his nickname “The Fourteen” after he single-handedly killed 14 federales sent to kill him.

“His story becomes that of legend, and he ultimately becomes a great leader and a general in the movement,” Wright said.

The filmmaker also alluded to the story of a young teenager named Jose.

“It’s heartbreaking at times what he has to go through, because he has that purity and innocence of faith and belief.”

“Cristiada” raises questions about whether someone would risk his or her life or do what the Cristeros did to ensure the freedom of their families, Wright said. It also raises the question of whether the Cristeros had to fight, or could have secured freedom through peaceful means.

The director connected the events of the film to U.S. history and to the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We came here from religious persecution, we came for freedom of speech,” he pointed out.

Wright also said he was amazed that the Cristeros War, an event “so universal in its appeal,” has never really been explored as a movie. If someone took away Americans’ freedom of belief “we wouldn’t stand for it.” “Well that’s what was happening in Mexico.”

“Thankfully, the war ended, and Mexico is a free country,” added Wright, a self-described Christian.

Wright said he met with priests and Barroso met with many bishops and cardinals while making the movie.

“It resonates with many of them, especially in the U.S.”

The persecution caused a northward mass exodus from Mexico, and there are a number of bishops with Cristero heritage in prominent positions in both countries.

“I believe they will be very happy with the story and the movie that resulted from all of that,” Wright said.

What made John Paul II truly Great

The following comes from the CNA:

Secular media often breezes over the most important of details. The oft repeated headline after the announcement of John Paul II’s May 1st Beatification was, “Pope Benedict XVI puts John Paul II on the fast track to Sainthood.”  HELLO!  Did you notice the Sister who was miraculously healed of Parkinson’s? Secular doctors examined her and couldn’t explain it. Doesn’t that deserve a headline? 

But I can forgive the media because I tend to overlook life’s most important details too. What made John Paul truly great was that he never did. 

There are few people throughout history with the impact and charisma of John Paul II. Who can forget watching his funeral and seeing world leaders sitting like little school boys and girls before his coffin, still reverent, still humble in the presence of this imposing figure with size thirteen shoes! But lest we breeze over the most important details, what made this man of immense shoes truly great was his immense love for every person he encountered. 

In "Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way" he wrote, “I don’t like the word ‘crowd,’ which seems too anonymous; I prefer the word ‘multitude.’” Even though he led the world’s 1 billion plus Catholics, he didn’t minister to the masses, but to the individual. He noticed each person in his path. He also reflected in the same book, “I simply pray for everyone every day. As soon as I meet people, I pray for them, and this helps me in all my relationships…I welcome everyone as a person sent to me and entrusted to me by Christ.”  

This attention to each person is summed up in an encounter of John Paul II with San Diego’s Bishop Robert Brom. 

Brom's first meeting with the Pope occurred in 1963 during the second session of the Second Vatican Council. Brom was a seminarian at the North American College and Pope John Paul was the auxiliary bishop of Krakow. Brom and several classmates were leaving the Church of the Gesu after a visit there when some Polish seminarians with Bishop Wojtyla were entering. At that time Brom and his classmates briefly met the man who would thereafter become the Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow and the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years.  Subsequently, Brom forgot all about the exchange. 

In 1983 after his appointment as Bishop of Duluth, Bishop Brom in the context of his first Ad Limina Visit met Pope John Paul for what he thought was the first time.  However, John Paul, looking into Brom's face said, "I think we have met before." Brom assured the Holy Father that they'd never met. "I believe we have," insisted the Pope, but Brom was equally sure they had not. After all, a meeting with the Pope isn’t easily forgotten! 

Some days later, during the same Ad Limina Visit, the secretary to the Holy Father, then, Monsignor Stanislaw Dziwisz, now Cardinal, approached Bishop Brom to say, "Don't argue with the Pope, he remembers when he met you." "When?” Brom asked. "In November of 1963 outside the Church of the Gesu in Rome." Brom's memory refreshed, he asked Monsignor Dziwisz, "How can he do that?" to which Dziwisz explained that for John Paul to meet another person is to encounter God.

It was only years later in another Ad Limina Visit toward the end of the Pope's life that John Paul brought up the subject again. One on one he asked Brom, "How many times have we met, and when was the first time?" to which Brom responded properly. John Paul slapped the desk and with a smile said, "Finally you remember!"

Pope John Paul II’s influence, position, and impact on the course of history made him a very, very “big deal.” But his superhuman love for each individual he encountered is what made him truly “great.” And it’s that holy love of God beating in the heart of a man that is about to get him beatified. It’s not his power, social impact, or his charisma as a leader.

It was this superhuman love that enabled this octogenarian with Parkenson’s wearing a roman outfit to draw more teens than Justin Beiber. It’s this love that moved people to tears standing a mile away from him in a crowd of a million plus. They felt personally loved because they were. 

Here is my confession, which I’m comfortable making because it’s probably yours too: In the midst of my busy life it’s easy for me to forget to tell the people I love that I love them; to unintentionally let quality family time slip between my fingers; to forget to call friends; to forget to take care of myself; to get so caught up in the “tasks” of my work that I don’t have time for the people my work is serving. It’s so easy to overlook the most important things in life, namely, the people God has placed around me. 

I need to take a lesson from one of the busiest men in history who never overlooked what mattered most. Blessed Pope John Paul II, help me to be truly great.