Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lifesong by Casting Crowns

Casting Crowns - Lifesong from Casting Crowns on Vimeo.

'Providence' at Hand During Movie Filming, Says Writer-director Estevez

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

I've stopped using the word coincidence" to describe how the upcoming film "The Way" got made, said its writer-director-producer, Emilio Estevez. "It was providence. ... It was the divine."

"The Way," which stars Estevez's father, Martin Sheen, tells the story of four Westerners walking the 500-mile pilgrimage route from the French Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

Sheen, who joked during a Feb. 18 interview with Catholic News Service that "I did my own walking" in the movie without a stunt double's help, recalled the first time he tried to make the pilgrimage himself.

"It was in 2003, and we were between seasons filming 'The West Wing,'" Sheen recalled. "I really wanted to make 'the way,' but we really didn't have enough time. So I did what every good American did: I rented a Mercedes and drove the route," he laughed.

But it was in Burgos, Spain, on that vehicular trek that Estevez's son, Taylor, met the woman who would become his wife. "That was the first miracle," Sheen said, adding he urged his own son to write a documentary or drama about the pilgrimage.

Estevez, sitting next to his father, recounted other occurrences he attributed to divine providence.

For one thing, he was able to conduct his filming in 2010—not in 2011, as Spanish officials had expected.

When Spaniards saw his tight, 40-day shooting schedule—"40 days— the normal time it would take a pilgrim to walk from St.-Jean (France) to Santiago," Estevez said— they told him, "It rains every day. Your 40 days will become 60."

Instead, "it rained two days," Estevez said. "And both days we were scheduled to shoot interiors."

Estevez also received permission from officials to film inside the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela. "We didn't get it until 48 hours before we arrived" at the city that concludes the pilgrimage, he said, adding that his was the first dramatic film to have received permission.

In the film, Sheen plays a doctor estranged from his son (Estevez). When he learns that his son has perished in a storm in the Pyrenees on the first day of his pilgrimage, Sheen makes the impulsive decision to cremate his son's remains and go on the pilgrimage himself, carrying his son's remains with him.

Along the way, the doctor meets a carefree Dutchman (Yorick van Wageningen) who says he's making the pilgrimage to lose a few pounds, but gorges himself at nearly every opportunity; a bitter Canadian (Deborah Kara Unger) who says she'll quit smoking once she's completed the journey; and an Irish writer (James Nesbitt) with writer's block.

After a Feb. 18 screening of "The Way" at Georgetown University, Sheen told the audience during a question-and-answer session that the story structure is similar to that of "The Wizard of Oz," with Sheen's character as Dorothy, Dutchman Joost as the Cowardly Lion, Canadian Sarah as the Tin Man and Irishman Jack as the Scarecrow.

And therein lay another miracle during the film shoot. While looking for sites in the Spanish countryside to introduce the Jack character, Estevez found a field with baled hay -- a perfect tie between Jack and the Scarecrow.

"The Way" is more than just a movie to Estevez and Sheen. It was a chance for them to work together. Estevez called his father's acting in the film "the performance of a lifetime."

For his part, Sheen said the expected father-son roles were reversed in filming. "That's what the film is about," he added, "how the father is led by the son, because of the journey of the boy."

The movie is also an homage to Sheen's father and Estevez's grandfather, Francisco Estevez, to whom the film is dedicated. The elder Estevez was born in the Galicia region of Spain. Sheen said that when growing up in Dayton, Ohio, he heard his father speak often of the pilgrimage route, commonly known to Spanish speakers as "El Camino," which fueled his desire to make the pilgrimage himself.

Estevez said four preview screenings of "The Way" on behalf of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students brought such a great response "we may have to change our marketing strategies."

The early strategy, Estevez added, was to market merely to "humans," not to any specific demographic.

But Estevez said that in advance of the movie's Sept. 30 U.S. opening, he and Sheen will conduct a 30-day, 30-city cross-country promotion bus trip from Los Angeles to New York. "The Way" opens April 15 in England, Ireland and Malta. 


The following comes from

Various youth groups headed to a Madrid meeting with the Pope are stopping in Portugal on the way.

Several itineraries for the Aug. 16-21 World Youth Day in Spain have included Fatima in the schedule, either before or after the events with Benedict XVI.

The director of Pilgrimage Services at Fatima, Natalina Ferreira, reported that 64 groups are so far scheduled for a stop in Fatima, 45 before Youth Day and 19 afterward. The majority of these groups are made up of around 100 pilgrims, though one group, from Latin America, has 2,500.
Native Portuguese youth are also planning a stop with Our Lady before heading to Spain.
Ferreira noted as an example the group from Lisbon, with one group of 2,000 and another of 350 stopping at the Fatima shrine.

Ferreira spoke of the efforts at the shrine to welcome the pilgrims, noting Masses held in Italian, English and Spanish, as well as Portuguese, expanded openings during the days when most of the youth will be in Fatima, and the reservation of various prayer spaces.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Pope Benedict's Vocation Prayer

O Father, raise up among Christians numerous and holy vocations to the priesthood, to keep the faith alive and guard the gracious memory of your Son Jesus through the preaching of his word and the administration of the Sacraments, with which you continually renew your faithful.

Give us holy ministers of your altar, who are careful and fervent guardians of the Eucharist, the sacrament of the supreme gift of Christ for the redemption of the world.
Call ministers of your mercy,who, through the sacrament of Reconciliation, spread the joy of your forgiveness.

Grant, O Father, that the Church may welcome with joy numerous inspirations of the Spirit of your Son and, docile to His teachings, may she care for vocations to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life.

Sustain the Bishops, priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, and all the baptized in Christ, so that they may faithfully fulfill their mission at the service of the Gospel. This we pray You through Christ our Lord.

Mary, Queen of Apostles, pray for us.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dear X by Disciple

Tomb of St. Philip the Apostle Discovered in Turkey

The following comes from Fox News:

A tomb believed to be that of St. Philip the Apostle was unearthed during excavations in the ancient Turkish city of Hierapolis.

Italian professor Francesco D'Andria said archeologists found the tomb of the biblical figure -- one of the 12 original disciples of Jesus -- while working on the ruins of a newly-unearthed church, Turkish news agency Anadolu reported Wednesday.

"We have been looking for Saint Philip's tomb for years," d'Andria told the agency. "We finally found it in the ruins of a church which we excavated a month ago."

The structure of the tomb and the writings on the wall proved it belonged to St. Philip, he added.

The professor said the archaeologists worked for years to find the tomb and he expected it to become an important Christian pilgrimage destination.

St. Philip, recognized as one of Christianity's martyrs, is thought to have died in Hierapolis, in the southwest province of Denizli, in around 80AD. It is believed he was crucified upside down or beheaded.

Hierapolis, whose name means "sacred city," is an ancient city famous for its hot springs and a spa since the 2nd century.

The Turkish news agency notes a wealth of current archaeology projects underway in the country, which has seen a potpourri of cultures over the centuries: Assyrians, Phrygians, Persians, Romans, Byzantinians, Ottomans and more.

Fr. Robert Barron on Biblical Family Values

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Love Has Come by Mark Schultz

What does the Eucharist mean to you?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Words I Would Say by Sidewalk Prophets

Monday, July 25, 2011

Before the Morning by Josh Wilson

Pope Benedict: Society depends on well-formed consciences

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict reflected today on King Solomon's choice to ask God for a well-formed conscience, a gift that the pontiff said is essential for societies and people to become truly good.

“In reality, the true quality of our own life and that of society depends on a person’s rightly formed conscience, and on everyone’s capacity to recognize good, separating it from evil, and to try and bring it about patiently to contribute to the cause of justice and peace,” the Pope said.

Politicians, he added, “naturally have more responsibilities, and thus, as Solomon teaches, need God’s help even more.”

The Pope made his remarks just before reciting the traditional noontime Angelus prayer at Castel Gandolfo. His reflection was based on today's first Mass reading, which comes from the book of Kings.

In the reading, King Solomon asks God for an “understanding heart,” which the Pope said can be understood as “a conscience that knows how to listen, which is sensitive to the voice of truth, and therefore is able to discern good from evil.”

Although Solomon's request was motivated by his role as the king of Israel, Pope Benedict noted that his example applies to everyone.

The Pope said that each person has a conscience so that he can, in a sense, act as a “king.” People are able to exercise this royal command by choosing to follow their conscience, doing good and avoiding evil.

He brought his remarks to a close by asking the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, to help people form “a conscience always open and sensitive to the truth, to justice, to serve the Kingdom of God.”

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Praise You In This Storm by Casting Crowns

Casting Crowns - Praise You In This Storm from Casting Crowns on Vimeo.

Fr. Adelard (Del) Labonté, SDB, Rest in Peace (1925-2011)

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Fr. Del Labonté, SDB.  Fr. Del was a member of my community and passed away peacefully early this morning.  Fr. Del was a joyful, holy Salesian and a great blessing to our community.  He will be greatly missed by our seminarians who cared a great deal for him!  Here are the words of our provincial Fr. Tom Dunne, SDB on the passing of Fr. Del:

At 12:30 this morning, Fr. Adelard Labonté, S.D.B, passed to the Lord in his room at St. Joseph Senior Residence in Woodbridge, NJ. 

Fr. Del’s last hours were spent with his sister Antoinette, Fr. Steve Leake, and Fr. Dominic Tran. Fr. Del prepared for death in prayer while the beloved French hymns of his childhood played quietly in the background. 

At this point, the Orange community and the family are making funeral arrangements for Fr. Del’s funeral and burial. The local communities will be receiving a faxed message presenting these plans later today.

Let us pray for the eternal repose of our beloved confrere, Fr. Adelard Labonté, We pray that as Fr. Del received his wish to die on the day of Mary’s remembrance (the 24th of the month), he will be escorted into the fullness of God’s blessings by his Heavenly Mother, Mary Help of Christians.

Two of Fr. Del's nieces (Jan and Marilyn) as well as 2 of our novices (Adam Dupre and Marc Stockhausen) were with Fr. Del as well on Saturday.  The Sisters and the staff at St. Joseph's are to be commended for the beautiful care that they gave to Fr. Del these past few months.  Fr. Jan Bernas was also a great consolation to Fr. Del with his great attention and fraternal concern.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

What Faith Can Do by Kutless

World Youth Day Madrid to counter secularized culture

The following comes from the CNA:

In August Pope Benedict XVI will visit a Spain that faces aggressive secularism and controversies concerning abortion, sexual ethics and marriage. But World Youth Day organizers hope the event can trigger a revival of faith.

In May Archbishop Jose Ignacio Munilla Aguirre of San Sebastian, Spain said he hopes Bl. John Paul II will inspire the young people of Spain to attend the global youth gathering this August.

“In recent years they have endured years of secularization,” he said of Spain’s youth. “We are praying to John Paul II for his intercession, that he touch the hearts of those who need to be touched so that they will come.”

Pope Benedict XVI, during his two-day November 2010 pilgrimage to Spain, drew on the country’s Christian roots and noted the need “to hear God once again under the skies of Europe.”

That need could be met at the upcoming World Youth Day, where over 420,000 young people from around the world have registered.

But the event will take place during a time of tension caused by a secularizing government and society. Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid in November 2010 said that here has been a “revival of radical secularism” that has prompted laws aimed at the basic institutions of society such as marriage, the family and the right to life.

In October 2009, more than two million people took part in a pro-life march in Madrid to oppose an abortion law that allows abortion on demand up to 14 weeks into pregnancy and for limited abortions up to 22 weeks. However, opponents failed to stop the law.

The country has recognized “gay marriage” since 2005, and the Socialist government has implemented a compulsory school curriculum which has come under many legal challenges. Critics say that the curriculum promotes secularism and sexual immorality, imposes an official view of gender ideology, incites 12-year-olds to engage in sexual activity, and violates the rights of parents and their children.

In a population of over 46 million Spaniards, 42.5 million are Catholic. However, less than 15 percent of the total population participates in Church life.

Even so, the Church still has a significant presence and influence.

There are 22,890 parishes, 126 bishops, and almost 25,000 priests in the country, and over 54,000 vowed religious, 2,800 lay members of secular institutes, and almost 100,000 catechists. There are 1,258 minor seminarians and 1,866 major seminarians.

Over 1.4 million students attend 5,535 institutions of Catholic education, from kindergartens to universities. Church-run institutions include 77 hospitals, 54 clinics, one leper colony, 803 homes for the elderly or disabled, and 391 orphanages and nurseries. The Church also runs 293 family counseling centers and other pro-life centers.

Pope Benedict’s visit will take place from August 18 to 21.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The City Limits

Timelapse - The City Limits from Dominic on Vimeo.

Archbishop Dolan: On Eucharistic Adoration

The following comes from Archbishop Dolan's blog site:

“What makes this place tick?” I quizzed the exuberant pastor as he showed me around the parish, renowned for its high rate of Sunday Mass attendance; first-rate school; excellent religious education for kids, teenagers, young adults, and adults; remarkably effective stewardship; and successful initiatives of social justice, pro-life efforts, evangelization, and neighborhood presence.

I wanted the “recipe” so I could bottle it and send it around!

“Follow me, I’ll show you,” Father replied.

Through the school, filled with kids; on to the religious ed office, where catechists were planning the evening session; into the kitchen where people were cooking casseroles for the inner city soup kitchen; then to the senior citizen center where the lunch crowd was breaking-up; through the offices where volunteers were counting the Sunday collection . . . we didn’t stop . . . the pastor kept going . . . until we reached the chapel of the former convent, where, oh, perhaps six to eight people, of diverse ages, were in quiet adoration before Jesus, really and truly present in the Holy Eucharist, there in the monstrance on the altar.

“We’ve had perpetual Eucharistic adoration now for four years,” the pastor whispered. “We started slowly, about seven years ago, first with a day-a-week, then seven days, twelve-hour-a-day, until we had a well-oiled system in place. For the last four years, it’s been 24/7, with at least two people assigned every hour, all volunteers, and with many, many more during the waking hours. Our prayer hotline is legendary. I’m convinced this Eucharistic adoration is the key to the vitality, growth, and effectiveness of our parish.”

That recollection came to me as I read the story recently in a national newspaper of the “International House of Prayer’s 24 Hour Worship” in Kansas City. The article explained how a neighborhood had been revived, a congregation renewed, and lives changed by non-stop prayer sponsored by a small Christian evangelical church.

“Pray always!” the Good Book tells us, and Jesus exhorted us to make sure that our prayer was patient, persistent, and persevering.

Eucharistic adoration accomplishes this. It tells the world that “we can’t give what we don’t have,” and that, if we do not constantly turn to God in prayer for His grace and mercy, we’re finished. The best thing people of faith can do is pray . . . I can’t think of a better place to do that than before our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.

George Weigel recently wrote of “Miracles in Soho.” This dirty, crime-ridden, pagan, Sodom and Gamorrah-like west end of London now boasts a thriving parish, St. Patrick’s, a center of help, peace, outreach, welcome, service . . . and constant prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist. It’s a paradigm for the New Evangelization, George wrote after a recent visit, filled with young people excited about their faith, all centered around our Eucharistic Lord.

I am very grateful to the dozens and dozens of parishes throughout the archdiocese that encourage and offer Eucharistic adoration, some occasional, some on given days of the week, some perpetual. May the numbers increase!

The Church is renowned for all that we do — Catholic charities, health care, schools, youth work, love, service, and evangelization — and rightly so.

But what we do must flow from who we are — people of faith, prayer, adoration, our hearts on fire with our Lord, our best friend, the way, the truth, and the life.

If what we do does not spring from who we are, we are listless and ineffective.

When the first disciples asked Jesus about following Him, He did not say, “Come do a bunch of stuff with me.” Nope – He invited them to “Come, stay with me!” Eucharistic adoration is a great way to answer that invitation.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pope will meet his former students at Castel Gandolfo

It's a tradition that started well before Benedict XVI became pope. Every year, he holds a private meeting with his former students to discuss theology. This year, the theme will be “The New Evangelization.”

Before becoming pope, Joseph Ratzinger was an accomplished professor for roughly 26 years. He taught at several German universities and wrote more than 40 books during his academic career.

Since 1977, every summer he meets with a group of his former students. When he was elected pope in 2005, he decided to continue the tradition in Castel Gandolfo, a small town south of Rome, known for being his official summer residence.

In past years, the group has discussed Islam, the Passion of Christ, the role of religion and culture and the Second Vatican Council.

His students include dozens of university professors, priests, nuns and also lay people from different parts of the world, some of whom learned from Ratzinger well before he was appointed Archbishop of Munich.

The meeting will be held from August 26th to the 28th. On the last day, the pope plans to celebrate Mass with his former students.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Archbishop Chaput pledges to "renew hearts" in Philadelphia

The following comes from

Philadelphia's ninth Roman Catholic archbishop said his first Mass here Tuesday, donned a Phillies baseball cap, stretched an Eagles football shirt across his chest, promised to eat a cheesesteak soon, and declared it a privilege to be leading the church in "one of America's truly great cities."

"I do not know why the Holy Father sent me here," Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, 66, said at a morning news conference at archdiocesan headquarters.

But in an apparent reference to the recent grand jury report that lambasted the archdiocese for allowing sexually abusive priests to remain in ministry, he vowed "to help those hurt by the sins of the past" and "renew the hearts of our people."

The archbishop of Denver since 1997, Chaput succeeds Cardinal Justin Rigali, whom he praised as "one of the great churchmen of my lifetime."

He will be installed Sept. 8 as head of the 1.5 million-member archdiocese in Philadelphia, Bucks, Montgomery, Delaware, and Chester Counties.

His voice choking briefly, Chaput said that "leaving a place is easy," but that "leaving people [in Denver] who have shaped me with their friendship . . . that's very, very hard."

Rigali, 76, who introduced Chaput at the news conference, appeared tired and drawn despite his broad smiles. The grand jury sharply criticized him in February, saying he had failed to adequately investigate allegations against dozens of priests accused of sex abuse and other misconduct with children.

"I apologize for any weaknesses on my part," he said, adding that it is "a formidable task to be a bishop. You ought to try it."

In March, Rigali suspended more than two dozen priests pending an archdiocesan investigation. Gina Maisto Smith, the former Philadelphia prosecutor who is leading that investigation, said after the news conference that her team expected to continue its work despite the change of archbishops.

With her findings still months away, she said, it appears that it will fall to Chaput to decide whom among his priests to dismiss and whom to restore to ministry.

Archbishop here since 2003, Rigali will lead the archdiocese as apostolic administrator until Chaput's installation, then retire to the Diocese of Knoxville, Tenn., at the invitation of Bishop Richard Stika, a friend. He will remain a cardinal for life, and may continue to serve on Vatican congregations and as a papal elector until he turns 80.

In response to questions from reporters, Chaput said he had not read the devastating 2011 or 2005 Philadelphia grand jury reports on clergy sex abuse and its cover-up, but would do so soon. He said he would meet with victims of abuse and their families.

He also said he looked forward to getting to know his priests and "the issues" of the archdiocese. As in many other dioceses in the Northeast, Philadelphia's Catholic population has been static for many years, and many parishes and schools have been closed because of declining enrollment.

Chaput said it was too soon to describe his designs for his new archdiocese. Citing a jest by a famous physicist, he observed that "prediction is difficult - especially about the future."

But later he remarked that his two American Indian names - he is a member of the Potawatomi tribe on his mother's side - mean Good Eagle and Wind That Rustles.

"That's who I am," he joked. "A good eagle who rustles the leaves."

At the news conference, a group of high school and college students presented him with the Philadelphia sports team hats, and chided him for his known allegiance to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos football teams.

Afterward, he mingled with the audience. "Do you all work for me?" he asked a group of archdiocesan employees, who laughed and nodded and pumped his hand.

Later he joined in saying Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul. Although Chaput is now archbishop of Philadelphia, by custom Rigali served as principal celebrant and sat in the bishop's seat.

"You welcome him just as you welcomed me eight years ago," he said in his brief homily, and asked the members of the archdiocese to pray for their new archbishop.

At the start of the Mass, security guards removed a barefoot woman who moments earlier had placed a red rose on the altar and then approached Rigali and Chaput as they proceeded through the Communion rail.

Chaput, who sat alone at a side chair, did not address the crowd of about 450, but helped to dispense Communion.

"I'm sure he'll do wonderful work with the backing of all of us," Antonia Pugliese, 67, a member of the cathedral parish, said after the Mass. "But he'll have his work cut out for him."

Pope Benedict: Beautiful Churches a Sign of God's Presence

The following comes from
Benedict XVI says that beautiful cathedrals and abbeys are "striking signs" of God's presence on earth, and he is inviting the faithful to share the ideal of those who built them.
The Pope made this invitation today when he addressed French-speaking pilgrims who had gathered at the summer papal residence to pray the midday Angelus.
The Holy Father referred to the time of vacation as a moment "for cultural and spiritual enrichment."
"Through the innumerable places and monuments that you visit, you can discover the beauty of that universal patrimony that refers us to our roots," he suggested.
The Pope made this invitation: "Be attentive in allowing yourselves to be swept up by the beautiful ideal that inspired the builders of cathedrals and abbeys, when they built these striking signs of the presence of God on our earth. May that ideal become yours and may the Holy Spirit, who sees the depth of hearts, inspire you to pray in these places, rendering thanks and interceding for humanity of the third millennium!"

Saint of the day: Apollinaris, First Bishop of Ravenna and Martyr

The following comes from the Magnificat site:

When Saint Peter, setting out for Rome, left Antioch after seven years as its spiritual Head, he took with him several of the faithful of that city, among them Apollinaris, a disciple of Jesus Christ. He consecrated him bishop a few years later and sent him to Ravenna as its first bishop.

His first miracle was on behalf of the blind son of a soldier who gave him hospitality when he first arrived in the city of Ravenna. When the apostle told him of the God he had come to preach and invited him to abandon the cult of idols, the soldier replied: “Stranger, if the God you preach is as powerful as you say, beg Him to give sight to my son, and I will believe in Him.” The Saint had the child brought and made the sign of the cross on his eyes as he prayed. The miracle was instantaneous, to the great amazement of all, and news of it spread rapidly. A day or so later, a military tribune sent for him to cure his wife from a long illness, which again he did. The house of the tribune became a center of apostolic action, and several persons sent their children to the Saint to instruct them there. Little by little a flourishing Christian assembly was formed, and priests and deacons were ordained. The Saint lived in community with the two priests and two deacons.

The idolatrous priests aroused the people against him, as we see the enemies of Saint Paul do in the Acts of the Apostles. He was left half-dead on the seashore, after being severely beaten, but was cared for by the Christians and recovered rapidly. A young girl whom he cured after having her father promise to allow her full liberty to follow Christ, consecrated her virginity to God. It was after this that, in the time of Vespasian, he was arrested and interrogated and again flogged, stretched on the rack and plunged into boiling oil. Alive still, he was exiled to Illyria, east of the Adriatic Sea.

He remained three years in that country, having survived a shipwreck with only a few persons whom he converted. Then he evangelized the various districts, with the aid of his converts. When an idol ceased to speak during his sojourn in one of these regions, the pagans again beat him and threw him and his companions on a ship which took them back to Italy. Soon imprisoned, he escaped but was seized again and for the last time subjected to a flogging. He died on July 23rd of the year 79. His body lay first at Classis, four miles from Ravenna, and a church was built over his tomb; later the relics were returned to Ravenna. Pope Honorius had a church built to honor the name of Apollinaris in Rome, about the year 630. From the beginning the Church has held his memory in high veneration.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Christ is Risen by Matt Maher

Cardinal Zen on China's War Against the Catholic Church

The following comes from the Time Magazine blog:

For the third time in a year, China has declared war on the Vatican, according to one preeminent Cardinal. The Chinese government-sanctioned Catholic Church ordained Joseph Huang Bingzhang as a Catholic bishop July 14 in the city of Shantou, in southern Guangdong province. The move was made despite the express opposition of the Pope. This marks the third ordination without papal approval since last November, and has been viewed by the Holy See as an "unnecessary" and "spiteful" course of actions, according to Hong Kong's Bishop-Emeritus and current Cardinal, Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, SDB.

Zen, who wore a large, silver Jasmine flower pin — a recent Chinese symbol of revolution — on his left side while talking with TIME, said the church's main objection centers on the Chinese government's insistence on calling its state-run Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association legitimately "Catholic," yet impeding the papal prerogative within China.
"You can start a new church, but don't call it a Catholic church," says Zen.

For many decades, the officially atheistic Chinese government and the Catholic Church were largely at odds, even while the CPCA's stated goal was to help the religious community. Estimates of Chinese Catholics have ranged from four million to 14 million people. Two years ago, however, relations between the Vatican and Beijing largely normalized and ecclesiastical leaders leaders dared to hope that they would be allowed some autonomy in China, Zen says.
This proved to be false when the government ordained Joseph Guo Jincai as a bishop against the Pope's will last November, and then ordained Lei Shiyin as a bishop on  June 26. The latter ordination was the most offensive to the Vatican, according to Zen, because the now-excommunicated Lei was under official investigation by church authorities (several unconfirmed reports say this is for breaking his vow of celibacy by having an affair with a woman that resulted in the birth of a child.)

"All of this brings disgrace on our leader," Zen said. "This is a war."

Priests within China have struggled negotiating their allegiance to both the Pope and their country. While the Vatican has made official proclamations attempting to exert its influence, the government has allegedly used rougher measures.
Zen alleged that two separate Catholic bishops have been detained by the government for nearly 14 years, and their families are not allowed to visit them. Whether or not these accounts are in fact rumor, in the past decade, according to Zen, nationalism has begun to win out. "Before there were people, who in their heart were loyal to Rome. Unfortunately, recently, the Holy See has been forced to accept candidates who the Holy Father has called 'opportunists,'" he says.
But the July 14 ordination was the biggest insult of all, according to Zen. Four of the seven bishops who lead the ordination attempted to go into hiding as a way of avoiding participation, Zen says, but they were found by armed authorities and forced to ordain Huang.

Zen said he received multiple confirmations from Catholics within China as to the veracity of this story, but the perception is almost more important than whether or not the Chinese really did threaten even state-backed priests: if the Vatican believes its autonomy is under attack, then discontent is sure to mar all further interactions in China. "This last ordination is particularly bad," Zen said. "This is causing pain and division and surely is not contributing to 'harmony' which [the Chinese government] always say is their purpose."

Yet while the Vatican may direct its protestations at Beijing, Zen underscored that he did not believe the central government even knew, let alone cared, about the ordination conflict. Instead, he said, any force directed at priests and complete disregard for papal authority is more likely the dominion of the CPCA and the larger State Administration for Religious Affairs.

These bureaucratic organizations are led, according to the Pope in a 2007 decree, by "persons who are not 'ordained', and sometimes not even baptized," yet they "control and take decisions concerning important ecclesial questions, including the appointment of Bishops."

Monday, July 18, 2011

Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia!

The following comes from New Advent:

A Vatican source has confirmed that on July 19 Pope Benedict XVI will appoint Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver as the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Several news outlets reported on July 18 that Archbishop Chaput will lead the Philadelphia archdiocese, beginning this coming September.

Archbishop Chaput’s appointment was confirmed to CNA late on Monday by a Vatican source who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.

On June 30, the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops picked the name of a potential Philadelphia archbishop from a list of three candidates – known as a “terna” – to recommend to Pope Benedict.

However, after praying over the issue during the Fourth of July weekend, Pope Benedict decided not to select any of the recommended candidates, and specifically chose Archbishop Chaput for the post.

The Denver archbishop is no stranger to Pope Benedict, who spent a significant amount of time working with Archbishop Chaput during the apostolic visitation of the Legion of Christ between 2009 and 2010. Archbishop Chaput also led the visitation of Bishop Bill Morris in the Diocese of Toowomba, Australia in 2007.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, who has lead the Philadelphia archdiocese since 2003, submitted his resignation on April 19, 2010 when he reached the retirement age of 75. That resignation is expected to be accepted by Pope Benedict tomorrow.

On a Mission: Young adults dedicated to evangelization

The following comes from the CNA:

Every year, teams of young adults from around the country hit the road, armed with suitcases, sleeping bags, and hearts burning for Christ. Each team leads retreats six days a week, and when not on retreat, they share their faith whenever and wherever possible.

After nine months traveling around the United States in a van, including a recent visit to Rhode Island, these young people are tired from their travels, but spiritually energized.

When NET (National Evangelization Team) began in 1981, Mark Berchem, NET founder and executive director had no idea that it would grow to 10 teams in the United States and be replicated in Australia, Canada, Ireland and Uganda.

“We were just trying to share with young people the tremendous difference it makes in one's life to know, love and serve Christ,” he said.

According to NET Ministries, in an average nine-month season, each NET team, composed of young adults ages 18-28, will travel 20,000 miles, serve 7 to 8 dioceses, facilitate close to 150 retreats, stay in 125 host homes, and reach 8,500 young people with the Gospel.

Many team members develop lifelong habits of prayer, frequent reception of the sacraments, and ongoing service in the church, Berchem explained. Most describe serving with NET as the best and hardest year of their life.

“What makes NET successful is the combination of relying on the power of the Holy Spirit, having team members who are willing to serve generously, and holding up to them the high calling of following Christ,” he explained. “Teaching the retreat skills is easy. Living a radical Christian life is difficult, but attractive to young people.”

With a busy ministry schedule, the NET van is home sweet home.

“Put any group of people into a van for a year and you will see many challenges and potentially great growth,” Berchem said. “Different personalities rub the rough edges off of one another. You have to learn how to respect, forgive, honor and serve one another or it will be a long year.”

Joseph Moreno, 27, of California, said that traveling in the van was the best investment and time of fellowship for his team.

“You get to know each other really quickly when you drive in a van together,” he said.

After an 8-hour drive from Virginia, Moreno and his fellow teammates reached the Diocese of Providence to offer a retreat at St. Francis of Assisi Church, Wakefield, and live with local host families for a week.

“We had our No Obligation Day while in Rhode Island and needless to say, being so close to the beach made our Californians very excited,” the team explained.

The Castro family of Narragansett hosted three of the NET girls this year, their second time hosting a NET team.

“It is an awesome experience to meet new people, invite them to be part of our family life and show them around South County including visits to Iggys and Brickleys,” said Diane Castro. “The fondest memories of hosting Netters are enjoying home cooked meals with them and the evening jam sessions with the host families and NET team. We look forward to hosting more teams in the future.”

The Craig family from St. Francis of Assisi Parish, Wakefield, said that it felt like the young missionaries were a part of the family.

“It was an enjoyable and fulfilling experience meeting a group of faith-filled young people,” said Tina Craig. “It is extraordinary that after seven months traveling in a van and sleeping on floors, they are so cheerful and never complain.”

Dan Mahoney, 24, knows first hand how powerful the experience of NET is and he was happy to share what he learned with his parish. Mahoney first learned of NET in the third grade when his parents hosted a team at a U.S. naval base in Germany. Mahoney served as a team leader for NET from 2007-2008.

“I absolutely loved NET,” he said. “It was nice to truly be a missionary. You give up the comforts that you get used to and when you just have a backpack, sleeping bag and suitcase you learn what you truly need. You get a lot closer to God and rely on him and your teammates in hard times. My prayer life changed 1,000 percent.”

Returning home from NET was difficult, Mahoney explained, remembering the challenge of adjusting back into everyday life.

“You go from such a group of positive people where everybody is striving for that same goal of growing holier,” he shared. “To come back into the world where that’s not always what’s going on was hard. I have to make sure I set that prayer time for me. Even that means waking up 45 minutes early. It has to be a priority.”

Dan’s mother, Carol Mahoney said that NET challenged her son to be a leader in his faith.

“Some people join the military, some go to NET,” she said. “In some ways, it’s the same-you get up at 5 a.m. and off you go. We were excited when he said he wanted to do NET. It was the greatest thing in the world for him.”

Teammates learn what it means to truly love and to truly be loved. And most often, it is not the ministry skills that the young people notice on a NET retreat, but the love that the team members have for one another. According to NET, about 15 percent of NET team members seriously discern a religious vocation after serving.

“Over 50 NET alumni have been ordained as priests, over 30 are living as religious sisters, and dozens are currently in the seminary or religious formation,” said Berchem. “Of course, the vast majority pursues the vocation of marriage and enters into strong Catholic marriages where many would say, ‘I learned to love on NET.’”

Rome Exhibit Displays Bloody Shirt of Blessed John Paul II

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Pope Benedict: Encourages Catholics to Nurture Faith!

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict called on Catholics to nourish their faith in order to “prevent evil from taking root” in their lives. His words came during his July 17 Angelus address which took place in Castel Gandolfo.

The Pope reflected on Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus tells the parable of the wheat and the weeds, reported Vatican Radio. The Pope added that Jesus used parables to explain the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.

“Jesus compares the kingdom of heaven to a wheat field, to help us understand that something small and hidden is sown within us, which has an irrepressible life force. “

“Despite all obstacles,” he continued, “the seed will grow and the fruit ripen. This fruit will be good only if the ground of life has been nurtured according to divine will. Therefore, in the parable of the wheat and the weeds, Jesus warns us that, after the master had planted, 'while people slept,' his 'enemy' sowed the weeds.

“This means that we must be prepared to guard the grace received from the day of baptism, while continuing to nourish faith in the Lord, which prevents evil from taking root,” said the Pope.

He then drew from St. Augustine's comments on the parable. “St. Augustine, commenting on this story, notes that 'many are first weeds and then become good wheat' and adds: 'If those, when they are bad, are not tolerated with patience, they will never reach this laudable change’.”

The Pope welcomed the English-speaking pilgrims in attendance: “Today's Gospel encourages us to let the good seed of God's Word bear fruit in our lives and to trust in His mysterious plan for the growth of the Kingdom. Let us work for an abundant harvest of holiness in the Church and ask to be Christ's righteous ones found on Among the Day of Judgment.

“Upon all of you I invoke the abundant blessings of the Lord's joy and peace!”

Parable of the Tares

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Mother of 6 Priests and 4 Nuns dies at 94

The following comes from Salesians in India:

Kolkatā formerly known as Calcuttā is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal.

The Mother of 15 children died at the age of 94 on 14 July in her home in Kerala after an illness due to old age complications which lasted two years.

The deceased, Mrs. Elizabeth Anikuzhikattil, affectionately called Aleykutty, a devout Syro-Malabar catholic woman, gifted ten of her children to the Church. Of her eight boys, six are priests and one a bishop. Among her seven girls, four are religious, two Sacred Heart Sisters (Kerala) and one each Salesian Sister and Franciscan Missionary of Mary.

Mrs Elizabeth`s eldest child Annie is a Daughter of Mary Help of Christians serving in Mysore while her eldest boy Mathew is bishop of Idukki.

``Don Bosco`s promise of heaven for her is surely fulfilled,`` SMSed Archbishop Dominic Jala of Shillong.

``A priest is the greatest blessing to a family and all who offer their sons to the church will be blessed for many generations. They are assured of heaven,`` said Don Bosco.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Do Everything by Steven Curtis Chapman

The story behind the mosaic in St. Peter's Square

St. Peter's Square was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in 1657. He along with his successors designed the imposing columns, the two beautiful fountains and the 162 saint statues that surround the square. But among so much beauty, there was clearly something missing. In the heart of Christianity there was no image of the Virgin Mary. A college student first brought this to the attention of Pope John Paul II in 1980. It was during an audience in Easter that the young man spoke to the Pope about this. Architect Javier Cotelo was there and remembers it well. Javier Cotelo Architect "Holy Father, the square is incomplete: I looked and there are many saints ... All the saints are there, but I haven't found an image of the Virgin presiding over the square. "Bene, bene” said the Pope, “well then we must complete the square.” Back then, that young student was in Rome to take part in a conference called UNIV, which is organized by members of Opus Dei. He told his story to Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo, the successor of Josemaria Escrivá. When Portillo heard that John Paul II wanted an image of the Virgin in the square, he asked Cotelo to find the best spot for newest addition. Javier Cotelo Architect "It was hard because the square was full of statues and of saints, and it didn't make sense to add another. It had to be an important location, unique, yet not overwhelming.” After many visits to St. Peter's square and countless hours of work, the answer came on May 17, 1980. The best option was to design a mosaic in one of the buildings next to the plaza. Javier Cotelo Architect "The site is located between St. Peter's Square and the Cortile di San Damaso. There was a window there, which was probably not necessary because there are five or six already on the building and also a few more facing San Damaso." These are the sketches that were handed to the Pope on two occasions. First in July 1980 and then in January 1981. Six months later, he was told the Vatican mosaic workshop was preparing the image for that exact location. The mosaic was installed on December 7, 1981. A day after, John Paul II blessed it from his window. Three days later he thanked all those involved, including Alvaro del Portillo. Javier Cotelo Architect "The Pope invited Monsignor Alvaro del Portillo for breakfast two days later. It was quite common for the Pope to invite people over for breakfast. That's when the Pope told him how grateful he was for adding the image of the Virgin. He also gave him the piece of cardboard that was used to make the mosaic.” That piece of cardboard is still in good condition. The image of the "Mater Ecclesia" is inspired by the oldest image of Mary found inside St. Peter's Basilica. In December 2011, it will be 30 years since the image was placed. It's the one piece that made the square complete. Therefore, in a way, it's the last stone added to St. Peter's Square.


The following comes from

To stop the economic problems of the world, it’s not the instruments that must change, but the people who use them, says the president of the Vatican’s Institute for the Works of Religion.
Gotti Tedeschi made this claim Wednesday at a conference on "Consequences of the Economic Crisis," held at the Italian embassy to the Holy See.
"Benedict XVI tells us that we must not blame the instruments when in reality we are the ones who used them badly," Tedeschi said, commenting on "Caritas in Veritate." "It is not the instruments that must change, but man. Medicine, the economy, etc. are instruments; what makes them ethical or not is how man uses them."
At "the origin of this crisis is not having respected wholly the life and dignity of man ('Humanae Vitae'), and the type of progress that many must follow, an ideal progress ('Populorum Progressio')," he proposed.
In other words, the crisis was born from the gradual loss of awareness of the dignity of the human person, which in the end is reduced to one problem: "Is man a child of God or the evolution of a bacteria?" Tedeschi asked. "And if the end justifies the means then, consequently, life has no meaning. The difference lies in the fact that, in the secular vision, life does not have a supernatural" dimension.
He considered how the wager was "on the growth of the GNP in a consumerist way, namely, with the reduction of births."
This has resulted in the rapid growth of the number of elderly, who thus "cannot be endured from the economic point of view."
Rules or people
The vice president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, Maurizio Lupi, stressed that the crisis is yet to be surmounted; hence, it is appropriate to ask: "What is the judgment on our responsibilities."
The "Pope states that our weakness is not pausing to judge, when judgment is what enables us not to be removed from reality," he said.
In "Caritas in Veritate," the Pope destroyed that concept that for years spread in the West on the ethical neutrality of the economy, because man must be the central figure, Lupi affirmed.
He also suggested that the solution is not in bigger government.
"More rules, more state and less market" is a temptation to resist, Lupi stated, "especially if we understand that it is the person who is able to come out of the crisis. The problem is not to add more rules but to elicit the best from the person."
To illustrate his point, he offered the example of two businessmen in north Italy who received compensation for a natural calamity that destroyed their businesses. The older one received the funds and closed down, the younger one, instead, reopened. Lupi said that in the second case, the businessman chose to reopen because he was not just thinking of himself, but also of his family and the workers of his small village.
"The underlying challenge, therefore, is to reinforce the fundamental nucleus, the family," he said. "Economic policies that ignore this divide the ethic of the economy. It is not a Catholic thesis, though we Catholics propose it forcefully."
The Italian official also considered the educational challenge. It is not just a question of laws and economic aid, he suggested, but of having a proper concept of the person, the family and the business, elements that give life to the very foundation of action.


The following comes from

With Poland beginning its presidency of the European Union, a Mass organized by the Polish embassy to the Holy See gathered ambassadors in St. Peter's Basilica and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti celebrated.
The secretary for relations with states in the Vatican Secretariat spoke in his homily Tuesday about the urgency of conversion.
He lamented a "loss of European roots."
"Blinded by progress and well-being, the men of today are only interested in material goods and forget God, or live as if he didn't exist," the archbishop said.
He recommended taking inspiration from the example of St. Benedict, patron of Europe. It was the day after the feast of the saint, whom Benedict XVI had mentioned Sunday in the Angelus address.
Archbishop Mamberti exhorted the Old World to "find in its culture and in its roots the necessary strength for a spiritual and humanist rebirth."
United Europe
At the end of the Mass, the archbishop and the members of the Diplomatic Corps recollected themselves before the tomb of Blessed John Paul II.
Hanna Suchocka, Polish ambassador to the Holy See, thanked the participants and expressed the wish that the Polish Pope will be considered by all as the "patron of a united Europe able to breathe fully with her two lungs."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

A Ragamuffin Band - Man of No Reputation

Inside the Vatican with Martin Sheen

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oh My Lord by Michael Tait

My Soul Sings by Delirious

Pope Benedict to Parents: Take your kids outside!

The following comes from

Benedict XVI is encouraging parents to teach their children to value nature.
The Pope made this invitation today after praying the midday Angelus with pilgrims gathered at the summer papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.
In his words to the French-speaking faithful, he said, "I would like to recommend that during this time of vacation, you revivify your spirits by contemplating the splendors of Creation."
"Parents," he said, "teach your children to see nature, respect and protect it as a magnificent gift that presents to us the grandeur of the Creator!"
Alluding to today's Gospel, in which Jesus proclaims the parable of the sower, the Holy Father added that with parables, "Jesus used the language of nature to explain to his disciples the mysteries of the Kingdom."
"May the images he uses become familiar to us," he said. "Let us remember that the divine reality is hidden in our daily lives like the seed in the soil. May it bear fruit in us! I wish you all a good Sunday!"

Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago: Puerto Rico's First Blessed!

The Catholic Church remembers today Blessed Carlos Manuel Cecilio Rodriguez Santiago! He is the first (surely not the last) blessed to come from Puerto Rico! Most of the following comes from the site

He was the second of five children born to Manuel Baudilio Rodriguez and Herminia Santiago; one of his sisters is a Carmelite nun, one brother a Benedictine monk, the first Puerto Rican to be an abbot. He was known as Charlie (or Chali) by his friends! When he was 6 the family store and home were burned to the ground and the family moved in with his mother's family. Carlos spent time with his pious maternal grandmother Alexjandrina Esteras. At age 9 he wrestled a rabid dog that had snatched up his 1-year-old, and was badly wounded in the fight; the cousin is now his 70's. Suffered from ulcerative colitis from age 13, which interrupted a brilliant scholarly career; he completed high school, but it was several years before he could move on to college.

Carlos never passed up a chance to serve as an altar boy. Worked as an office clerk until 1946. Tried to attend the University of Puerto Rico, but his health prevented it. After a few lessons, he taught himself to play piano and organ. Loved to spend days hiking in the countryside.

He was an office clerk at Caguas, and at the University of Puerto Rico Agriculture Experiment Station. Carlos was a translator, converting English documents to Spanish. He used his translating skills to write, and his modest salary to publish Liturgy and Christian Culture magazines. With the help of Father McWilliams, he founded a Liturgy Circle at Caguas. With Father McGlone, he organized the chorus Te Deum Laudamus.

His principal apostolic work was at Catholic University Center, Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico where he evangelized to students and teachers. Organized another Liturgy Circle (Circulo de Cultura Christiana: Christian Culture Circle). He published Christian Life Days to help university students enjoy liturgical seasons. Carlos was a member of the Brotherhood of Christian Doctrine, Holy Name Society, and Knights of Columbus. He taught catechism to high school students and encouraged liturgical renewal among clergy and laity. He worked for active participation of the laity, the use of vernacular language, and devotion to the Paschal Vigil - all prior to Vatican II.

His health declined further and he suffered from rectal cancer. He went through the misery of aggressive surgery in 1963 and at one point he felt himself abandoned by God. However he soon rediscovered his faith and his enthusiasm.