Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Exalt Thee by Chris Quilala

A Prayer of Don Bosco to Mary, Help of Christians

Most Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christian,
how sweet it is to come to your feet
imploring your perpetual help. If earthly mothers cease not to remember their children,  how can you, the most loving of all mothers forget me? Grant then to me, I implore you,  your perpetual help in all my necessities,  in every sorrow, and especially in all my temptations. I ask for your unceasing help for all who are now suffering. Help the weak, cure the sick, convert sinners. Grant through your intercessions many vocations to the religious life.  Obtain for us, O Mary, Help of Christians, that having invoked you on earth we may love and eternally thank you in heaven.

Mother Teresa and John Paul II Letters Concerning Medjugorje

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Already Preparing for WYD 2013 in Rio

The following comes from the Vatican News site:

World Youth Day is a workshop that is always open. Cardinal Stanisław Ryłko knows something about that, already looking forward to the next event in Rio de Janeiro in 2013. When answering questions from by our newspaper, the President of the Pontifical Council for Laity underlined the great preparatory work that usually separates the celebration of these great ecclesial events “ever new”. It would be an error, in fact, to think of them as repetitive. They express, explained the Prelate, the continuity of the Gospel and at the same time “the continuity of the Church”. The Cardinal knows well each of the mechanisms moving behind these celebrations, having been the head of the youth section for Santiago de Compostela in 1989, for Częstochowa in 1991 and for Denver in 1993, then Secretary in 1995 and, since 2003, President of the Vatican’s dicastery for the laity.

From Madrid 2011 to Rio de Janeiro 2013, there is a long road ahead.

Yes, but time is running out. This is why we have already started working from Madrid. I had my first meeting with the Archbishop of the Brazilian city and with a representative of the National Bishops’ Conference. We fixed a schedule for the up coming events. Meanwhile, the great wooden cross that always arrives before WYD will be like a plow in Brazil, tilling the ground for seeds. It will arrive in the Archdiocese of São Paulo and there start a pilgrimage to each of the country’s 274 dioceses over the 2 years preparation for the event.

So the pastoral challenge continues?

The objective of every WYD is to build a bridge between the extraordinary event of these international meetings with the Pope and the ordinary and concrete lives of young people who live in today’s world. And it is on this terrain that one measures the quality of youth ministry.

Where does one start?

It’s very important to insist on the fact that after you have turned the spotlights off and everyone goes back to daily life, you need to follow up WYD with pastoral ministry. During the meetings in Madrid there were so many seeds sown, thanks to the presence and words of Benedict XVI, both so penetrating. But now comes the harvest time, the time of verification: we need to see how what we have invested in the Universal Church has been received and cultivated in the local ones. Above all, the young people who have chosen the consecrated or priestly life deserve special care, so that their vocation is not just a momentary spark.

What embodies the experience of Madrid?

More than anything, the spiritual atmosphere during the Way of the Cross at the Plaza de Cibeles. The representation of the Christ’s Passion during WYD is not a mere accessory. On the contrary, it ought to be the catalyst, because it is necessary that young people encounter Jesus. Many of them, moreover, have intuited already that one of the placese where this can happen is in the Paschal Mystery. Hence, the importance of the Via Crucis, which in this year’s event really brought out the symbiosis between tradition and today. It was truly a strong moment for WYD Madrid, because it condensed into itself two important aspects: On the one hand, the elegant images and the words of the meditation really made the Paschal Mystery of Christ alive in the now of a young man in the 3rd millennium; on the other, the songs and music were truly impressive, a marvelous synthesis of words, images and young people, who were literally pulled into the mystery.

Pope Benedict to Seminarians: Carry your cross with faith and courage

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI has encouraged the new class of seminarians at the Pontifical North American College in Rome to be unafraid to carry the cross of Christ.

“Dear Seminarians, do not be afraid to take up the challenge in today’s Gospel to give your lives completely to Christ,” he told the new students during his Sunday Angelus address on Aug. 28 at Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence 15 miles to the south of Rome.

“Indeed, may all of us be generous in our commitment to him, carrying our cross with faith and courage.”

Moments earlier the American students, along with several thousand other pilgrims, listened as the Pope explained in more detail the need for all Christians to embrace the cross. The Pope invited all present to surrender their will to Jesus who, in return, will transform their ways of thinking for the better.

“The Christian follows the Lord with love when he accepts his cross which in the eyes of the world appears as a defeat and a ‘loss of life’, while that man knows that he does not bear his alone but with Jesus, sharing the same path of self-giving,” the Pope said.

In doing so, he added, “we allow ourselves to be transformed through divine grace, renewing our way of thinking in order to discern the will of God, which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The Pope based his comments upon Sunday’s Gospel in which Jesus rebukes St. Peter for reacting negatively to the revelation that the Christ must “go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

This prediction by Jesus presented “a clear discrepancy between the loving plan of the Father” observed the Pope “and the expectations, desires, projects of the disciples.” He said it’s a discrepancy that often continues to this modern day.

“When the fulfillment of one’s life is only aimed towards social success, and physical and economic well-being, man is not thinking according to God but according to man.” Such an attempt to refuse God’s “project of love,” said the Pope, “almost prevents man from carrying out His masterly will.”

Hence, said the Pope, the challenge of Jesus to the first apostles, “if any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me,” is equally applicable to anybody who seeks true happiness in the modern world.

The Pontifical North American College was founded in 1859 in response to an appeal by Pope Pius IX for an American seminary in Rome. Its present building sits on Rome’s Janiculum Hill only minutes from St. Peters Basilica. Regarded as one of the most flourishing seminaries in the city, the college is currently home to over 300 students and priests.

Monday, August 29, 2011

You Are God Alone by Phillips, Craig, & Dean

Our Lady of Good Deliverance

This is a favored image for both St. Vincent de Paul and St. Francis de Sales and each prayer before it frequently.  For more on this image please click here.

She used to stand in the church Saint-Etienne-des-Grès in the Latin Quarter, but that church was destroyed during the Revolution and all its content sold. Madame de Carignan, a pious rich lady bought the statue and venerated her in her private home until she was arrested during the Reign of Terror (a period of 11 months following the Revolution, which cost 20-40,000 people their lives.) In jail she used to pray to Our Lady of Good Deliverance with others who had been arrested for their faith, in particular the Sisters of St. Thomas. When all of them survived and were freed in 1806, Madame gave the Black Virgin to the Sisters.

Under the patronage of this Virgin the Royal Confraternity of the Charity of Our Lady of Good Deliverance had been founded in 1533 and comprised thousands of aristocratic and common members. It was meant to be "a saintly society" dedicated to the honor of God and "his very dignified Mother, the glorious Virgin Mary … to keep a singular devotion alive in all real Christian men and women." This association was founded by a priest named Jean Olivier, who was "greatly pious, devoted to Our Lady with strong affection, in the service of the Queen of Angels".(*1) The group organized processions and ministered to prisoners, even paying their debts if they were imprisoned for not being able to pay them.

Our Lady of Good Deliverance was invoked as a helper in all kinds of calamities and suffering, whether of a spiritual or material nature. She was also called upon as the Victorious One in the fight against the Huguenots and other "heretics."

The great saints of Paris, most notably Vincent de Paul and Francis de Sales prayed before her. Young Francis spent some years in Paris as he was trying to find his way in life. His poor soul went into a downward spiral of despair as he became more and more convinced that he was doomed to eternal hell fire. One day he went before Our Lady of Good Deliverance to pour out his heart. Soon he was moved to pick up a prayer tablet that was hanging from the railing of her chapel. He read the prayer, "…rose from his knees, and at that very moment felt entirely healed. His troubles, so it seemed to him, had fallen about his feet like a leper's scales."(*2) Immediately he made a vow of celibacy before God and his Mother. The prayer he had sent to Heaven was the Memorare:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother. To you I come; before you I stand sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate! Despise not my petitions, but in your mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Not long after this event another priest with great love for Our Mother who ministered to the poor and to prisoners in Paris, spread the fame of this prayer. To this day it is recited all over the world at the conclusion of the Rosary.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Better is One Day by Matt Redman

Transverberation of the Heart of St. Teresa of Avila

The following comes from the Mary's Child blog:

Today Carmelites around the world celebrate the feast of the Transverberation of St. Teresa of Avila, Virgin, and Reformer of the Carmelite Order. The transverberation is a mystical grace wherein the Saint's heart was pierced with a "dart of love" by an angel. I quote St. John of the Cross, "It will happen that while the soul is inflamed with the Love of God, it will feel that a seraph is assailing it by means of an arrow or dart which is all afire with love. And the seraph pierces and in an instant cauterizes this soul, which, like a red-hot coal, or better a flame, is already enkindled. The soul is converted into an immense fire of Love. Few persons have reached these heights."

Saint Teresa died in 1582 after proclaiming that she was "a daughter of the Church". Her body was buried in a wooden coffin. After nine months it was exhumed and to everyone's amazement, though her clothes were decaying, her body was incorrupt. While the Carmelite nuns reclothed her a delightful perfume spread throughout the monastery. Later, her heart was removed to be enclosed in a crystal vessel and placed in a jeweled silver reliquary. When this was being done they beheld a glorious and wonderful sight: a wound from the angel's dart was visible! It can still be seen today at the Carmelite Monastery of Alba de Tormes in Spain. Her heart has kept it's color and since the nineteenth century three sharp thorns are visible at the base of the heart.

Tony Melendez Remembers JPII

These videos are a wonderful memory of Pope John Paul II's visit to America in 1987. They are also a wonderful testimony of what God can do through us, despite our limitations if we only say yes!

Friday, August 26, 2011

I Am Free by Newsboys

Pretty much one of the best Christian songs ever....!

Fr. Robert Barron comments on World Youth Day

Remembering the Smiling Pope

August 26 is the 33rd anniversary of the election of Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I, the Smiling Pope. He was the Son of Giovanni Luciani and Bortola Tancon, poor working folks; baptized the same day at home by the midwife as he was in danger of death. He entered the seminary at Feltre in October 1923, and the Gregorian seminary at Belluno in October 1928. Deacon on 2 February 1935. Ordained at Belluno, Italy on 7 July 1935. He was Parish priest and taught religion at the Technical Institute for Miners in Agordo. He was Rector of the Gregorian seminary from 1937 to 1947. He received his Doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Gregorian University, Rome in 1947. Chancellor of the diocese of Belluno in 1947. Bishop of Vittorio Veneto on 15 December 1958. He attended the Second Vatican Council. He was made Patriarch of Venice in 1969. Created Cardinal on 5 March 1973. He was the Pope for less than five weeks.

For more on this good and holy man please click here.
Practice your Italian below!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What A Wonderful World by Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwoʻole

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Glorious Day by Casting Crowns

Pope Benedict 'almost moved to tears'

The following comes from the CNA:

Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain recalled that Pope Benedict was “emotionally moved many times, almost to tears,” during World Youth Day 2011.

The cardinal said Benedict XVI was especially touched by the theatrical presentation of the Stations of the Cross, which he had initially not planned to attend.

Speaking to the COPE radio network on Aug. 22, Cardinal Rouco said the Pope changed his mind upon learning that the stations would be presented following the traditions of the Holy Week celebrations in Spain, using a combination of chant and prayer.

The cardinal also encouraged Catholics to re-read the Pope’s numerous speeches, which he called a treasure trove of “preaching, proclamation of the word and explanations to young people” based on the gospels and on the World Youth Day theme. This year’s theme was, “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith,” taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

“That was the common thread in all of his homilies, speeches and remarks,” the cardinal added.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

"Come and kneel before Him now!"

The River by Lind, Nilsen, Fuentes and Holm

Pope Benedict's Homily to the Young at WYD

From Pope Benedict's homily to the young people at the closing mass of World Youth Day:

Dear young people, today Christ is asking you the same question which he asked the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Respond to him with generosity and courage, as befits young hearts like your own. Say to him: “Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.

Jesus’ responds to Peter’s confession by speaking of the Church: “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church”. What do these words mean? Jesus builds the Church on the rock of the faith of Peter, who confesses that Christ is God. 

The Church, then, is not simply a human institution, like any other. Rather, she is closely joined to God. Christ himself speaks of her as “his” Church. Christ cannot be separated from the Church any more than the head can be separated from the body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). The Church does not draw her life from herself, but from the Lord.

To read the rest of the homily please click here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Heart of Gold by Johnny Cash

Looking back at World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain

The following comes from the Vatican News:

Pope Benedict left Madrid on Sunday evening after a four day visit to the Spanish capital where some two million young men and women had gathered for World Youth Day 2011. As he boarded the plane for Rome, the Pope reiterated his call to the young people of the world to be 'firm in the faith', and to live their lives as corageous witnesses to the Gospel of Christ.
Our correspondant Emer McCarthy has been following events in Madrid and reports on the concluding moments of this visit:
It was only a four day visit. But it made a world of difference. First and foremost to those millions who had answered Pope Benedict XVI’s call not to be ashamed of the Lord, to be the ‘apostles of the 21st century’. As they boarded buses, trains and planes for the long journey home, tired, dirty and sun burnt, they were still smiling, still chanting that call that had echoed through the storm across Madrid on Saturday night “We are the youth of the Pope!”.
“Young people readily respond when one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ”, Pope Benedict XVI said as he prepared to board the papal plane at Barajas airport, on his journey to Rome. “Now those young people are returning home as missionaries of the Gospel…and – he added, speaking to the 800 bishops and thousands of priests and women religious who had accompanied the young people on this pilgrimage - they will need to be helped on their way”.
His last words of encouragement to that nation of youth: “There is no reason to lose heart in the face of the various obstacles we encounter in some countries. The yearning for God which the Creator has placed in the hearts of young people is more powerful than all of these”.
It was only a four day visit but it also made a world of difference to Spain, a country and a people, weary of the uncertainties born of the current economic and cultural crisis. This was visible not only in the press, which passed from front page reporting on the protests that had erupted on the eve of the Papal trip to the Pope’s call for ethics in political and social spheres to help overcome the crisis- but also among the people of Madrid, “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I probably never will again”, an elderly lady told me as we waited in line at a coffee shop.
The Pope’s parting words were of praise. “Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul”.
And of thanks, in particular to the army of 30 thousand young volunteers: “To love means to serve, and service increases love. For me, this is one of the finest fruits of your contribution to World Youth Day”.
The 26th edition of the largest gathering of youth on the planet, for those of us who watched it unfold before our eyes, leaves indelible images in its wake. Cibeles Square, first transformed into an open air party, the sheer noise of the young people’s voices as they welcomed the Pope. And again when that street party paused for the Way of the Cross, and the only sound that moved the still evening air was the haunting notes of an ancient Spanish prayer.
The majestic El Escorial, and the smile upon the Holy Father’s face, the ‘Professor Pope’, speaking of the ideal of the University to the next generation of teachers. The Jardines del Beun Retiro and the image of hundreds of priests young and old, representing a Babylon of languages, standing beneath the shade of trees long after public security had closed down access to the confessionals in the Festival of Forgiveness, to make sure that every last pilgrim, who so desired, could reconcile themselves to the Lord, as the sun set on Madrid.
The image of the Pope, in a midsummer storm, serenaded by the BXVI generation during Saturday’s prayer Vigil, and that same congregation of nations in silent prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
For me, one image sums it all up: in essence, it reveals why they came in their millions to Madrid, to hear Pope Benedict’s message: that of a WYD poster with graffiti sprayed over it that read: “We are atheists”, and under this a reply, “You don’t know what you’re missing, we’ll pray for you”. This is the BXVI generation, they came, they heard and they understood, the apostles of the 21st century.

Queenship of Mary

The following comes from the American Catholic site:
Pius XII established this feast in 1954. But Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.
In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen” and Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the eleventh to thirteenth centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.

The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In his encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Courageous by Casting Crowns

Take the World Youth Day experience back home, says Pope Benedict

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI left Spain on the evening of August 21, after giving a challenge to the million-plus young people who came to World Youth Day in Madrid over the past six days.

“Now I ask you to spread throughout the world the profound and joyful experience of faith which you had here in this noble country,” said the Pope, on the tarmac at Madrid’s Barajas Airport.

“By your closeness and your witness, help your friends to discover that loving Christ means living life to the full.”

Pope Benedict led nine events during his four-day visit for World Youth Day. The peak moment was Sunday's Mass at Cuarto Vientos airbase, with a congregation said to contain up to 2 million people.

Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sophia came to Barajas to bid the Pope farewell on behalf of the Spanish nation.

“Holiness, you have addressed words of love and hope, encouragement and confidence to a youth that treasures values like solidarity,” said King Juan Carlos.

“I give the most heartfelt thanks for your visit to Spain. Thank you for the hope and the vision that you have given to our youth.”

In response, the Pope told them that “Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul.”

The Pope thanked World Youth Day 2011's organizers, giving special mention to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity; Madrid's Cardinal Archbishop Antonio Rouco Varela; and the event's General Coordinator, Monsignor Cesar Augusto Franco Martinez.

About two hundred young people got to come onto the tarmac to wave goodbye to the Pope. As with his arrival at the same location, he was “protected” by a line of mini-Swiss Guards, Spanish schoolboys dressed in the uniforms of the illustrious Vatican army.

“I leave Spain very happy and grateful to everyone,” said the Pope.

“But above all I am grateful to God, our Lord, who allowed me to celebrate these days so filled with enthusiasm and grace, so charged with dynamism and hope.”

He said the past week's “feast of faith” should inspire “great confidence” in God's love and care, keeping the Church “young and full of life, even as she confronts challenging situations.”

“This is the work of the Holy Spirit, who makes Jesus Christ present in the hearts of young people in every age and shows them the grandeur of the divine vocation given to every man and woman.”

The Pope said that young people respond when “one proposes to them, in sincerity and truth, an encounter with Jesus Christ, the one redeemer of humanity.”

He concluded by urging the bishops of the world, and teachers of the faith at every level, to build on the lessons that young people have received in Madrid.

“Do not be afraid to present to young people the message of Jesus Christ in all its integrity, and to invite them to celebrate the sacraments by which he gives us a share in his own life.”

The Pope then departed on his chartered Alitalia flight which will return him to Rome this evening.

And so ended World Youth Day 2011. Its effects around the world may have just begun.

Pope Benedict's Homily to Seminarians at WYD

The following is a portion of Pope Benedict's homily to seminarians at the World Youth Day events in Madrid, Spain. To read the entire homily please click here.
How should you behave during these years of preparation? First of all, they should be years of interior silence, of unceasing prayer, of constant study and of gradual insertion into the pastoral activity and structures of the Church. A Church which is community and institution, family and mission, the creation of Christ through his Holy Spirit, as well as the result of those of us who shape it through our holiness and our sins. God, who does not hesitate to make of the poor and of sinners his friends and instruments for the redemption of the human race, willed it so. The holiness of the Church is above all the objective holiness of the very person of Christ, of his Gospel and his sacraments, the holiness of that power from on high which enlivens and impels it. We have to be saints so as not to create a contradiction between the sign that we are and the reality that we wish to signify. 

Meditate well upon this mystery of the Church, living the years of your formation in deep joy, humbly, clear-mindedly and with radical fidelity to the Gospel, in an affectionate relation to the time spent and the people among whom you live. No one chooses the place or the people to whom he is sent, and every time has its own challenges; but in every age God gives the right grace to face and overcome those challenges with love and realism. That is why, no matter the circumstances in which he finds and however difficult they may be, the priest must grow in all kinds of good works, keeping alive within him the words spoken on his Ordination day, by which he was exhorted to model his life on the mystery of the Lord’s cross. To be modeled on Christ, dear seminarians, is to be identified ever more closely with him who, for our sake, became servant, priest and victim. To be modeled on him is in fact the task upon which the priest spends his entire life. We already know that it is beyond us and we will not fully succeed but, as St Paul says, we run towards the goal, hoping to reach it (cf. Phil 3:12-14).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Adoration of The Blessed Sacrament at World Youth Day

The following comes from the CNA:

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

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

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

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

The origin of Eucharistic monstrances dates back to the 13th century with the establishment of the feast of Corpus Christi.  They were developed primarily in Flanders and Germany, where the Arfe family had its origins. 
The famous Monstrance of Arfe is the masterpiece of German silversmith Henry of Arfe, who finished it in 1524 after nine years of work.

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

St Bernard of Clairvaux in his own words

Holy Father to Youth: Seek out Christ in the Poor

The following comes from
Faced with human suffering, God expects youth to give the best of themselves, Benedict XVI told World Youth Day participants at the end of the Way of the Cross this evening.
The Pope and the youth celebrated Christ's passion and death with a Via Crucis along the streets of Madrid. Reflections from the Little Sisters of the Cross accompanied each station, and sculptures used in Spain's celebration of Holy Week were set along the procession.
Regarding these images, the Pontiff said that "faith and art combine so as to penetrate our heart and summon us to conversion."
"When faith's gaze is pure and authentic, beauty places itself at its service and is able to depict the mysteries of our salvation in such a way as to move us profoundly and transform our hearts," he reflected.
The solemnity of Christ's death on the cross was marked with silence and the sound of drumbeats.
"The cross was not a sign of failure, but an expression of self-giving in love that extends even to the supreme sacrifice of one's life," the Pope stated. "The Father wanted to show his love for us through the embrace of his crucified Son: crucified out of love. The cross, by its shape and its meaning, represents this love of both the Father and the Son for men."
Benedict XVI urged the young people to "take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles."
In all human suffering, he said, "we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us."
The love of Christ should increase our joy, the Holy Father continued, encouraging the youth to "go in search of those less fortunate."
"You are open to the idea of sharing your lives with others, so be sure not to pass by on the other side in the face of human suffering, for it is here that God expects you to give of your very best: your capacity for love and compassion," he said. "The different forms of suffering that have unfolded before our eyes in the course of this Way of the Cross are the Lord's way of summoning us to spend our lives following in his footsteps and becoming signs of his consolation and salvation. … Let us eagerly welcome these teachings and put them into practice. Let us look upon Christ, hanging on the harsh wood of the cross, and let us ask him to teach us this mysterious wisdom of the cross, by which man lives."


This will be made official tomorrow, but it looks like Brazil will be the site of World Youth Day 2013!  Here is the story from
The next International World Youth Day is set for 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, revealed a Vatican spokesman.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi revealed the date and location of the next youth day last week, but said that Benedict XVI will make the official announcement Sunday, at the close of this year's youth gathering in Madrid.
The International World Youth Days have been spaced three years apart since 2002, but the Rio de Janeiro youth day will take place in two years. Father Lombardi said the change was made to avoid the youth event coinciding with the Soccer World Cup, which will be held in Brazil in 2014.
Rio de Janeiro, emblematic city of the country with the greatest number of Catholics in the world, was chosen over Seoul, capital of South Korea, a country with a large Catholic community, indicated sources of the press.
For Brazil, this is the third international event it will host in the coming years, including the Soccer World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016.
After Buenos Aires in 1987, the Brazilian city will be the second of Latin America to host the international event.
Ten International World Youth Days have taken place outside Rome: Buenos Aires, Argentina (1987); Santiago de Compostela, Spain (1989); Czestochowa, Poland (1991); Denver, Colorado (1993); Manila, Philippines (1995); Paris, France (1997); Rome, Italy (2000); Toronto, Canada (2002); Cologne, Germany (2005); Sydney, Australia (2008); and Madrid, Spain (2011).
Three International World Youth Days have taken place in Rome (1984, 1985, and 2000), and 15 Diocesan World Youth Days have been celebrated in those years when an international celebration is not planned. Diocesan youth days take place on Palm Sunday.
The first World Youth Day World took place on Palm Sunday in 1984.
Close to 20 million young people have attended these international meetings, which were initiated by Pope John Paul II.

A Week in the Life of a Priest

Friday, August 19, 2011

I Can Only Imagine by Winona Judd


The following comes from the

There will not be a great transformation in the Church starting tomorrow, admits Benedict XVI. Though there are a half million young Catholics gathered in Madrid to celebrate World Youth Day with the Pope, the "seeds" of this experience are like the seeds of the Gospel -- part is lost.
But, the Holy Father said during a press conference on the papal plane in flight to Madrid, for many people, World Youth Day will be the "beginning of a friendship with God and with others." It will open them to a "universality of thought" and make them aware of a "common responsibility." So these days do give much fruit: "God's sowing is always silent; it does not appear in the statistics. … And we trust in this silent growth, and we are certain that, although the statistics do not say much about it, the Lord's seed really grows."
The Bishop of Rome answered questions ranging from how truth relates to multiculturalism, to how to give hope to young people overshadowed by a worldwide economic crisis. He was quick to affirm that World Youth Day was a divine inspiration given to his predecessor, Blessed John Paul II.
"I would say that these WYDs are a sign, a cascade of light -- they give visibility to the faith, visibility to the presence of God in the world, and thus give the courage to be believers," he said. "Often, believers feel isolated in this world, somewhat lost. Here they see that they are not alone, that there is a great network of faith, a great community of believers in the world."
The Pope noted how World Youth Day fosters friendships that cross the borders of cultures and countries. "The birth of a universal network of friendship that unites the world with God is an important reality for the future of humanity," he affirmed, "for the life of humanity today."
He recommended seeing WYD as a sign and part of a great journey. "It creates friendships, opens borders, makes visible that it is beautiful to be with God, that God is with us," he said. And, "in this connection, we wish to continue with this great idea of Blessed Pope John Paul II."
Truth and freedom
Benedict XVI reiterated one of his hallmark teachings when he was asked about the relationship between truth and multiculturalism.
The Pope noted that one of the great debates linked to Christianity today regards monotheism and an incapacity for dialogue with others.
"It is true that in history there have been abuses, both of the concept of truth as well as the concept of monotheism," he said. "There have been abuses, but the reality is totally different, as truth is only accessible in liberty."
He explained that a behavior can be imposed with violence, but truth cannot. "Truth opens only to free consent and, for this reason, liberty and truth are united intimately, one is condition of the other."
Separating truth from ethics and from man's great problems, the Pontiff warned, leads to "exposing man to the will of those who have power."
"We must always be in search of truth, of values," he affirmed. "We have fundamental human rights. These fundamental rights are known and recognized and, in fact, this puts us in dialogue with one another. Truth as such is open-minded, as it seeks to know better, to understand better, and it does so in dialogue with others. Thus, to seek truth and man's dignity is the best defense of liberty."

What's Next for School Choice - and New Media

Pope Benedict to Youth: A life built on Christ leads to happiness

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI told the hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims at World Youth Day in Madrid that they will be happy and at peace if they center their lives on the “solid rock” of Jesus Christ.

Build “your lives upon the firm foundation which is Christ,” he urged. “Then you will be blessed and happy and your happiness will influence others.”

“They will wonder what the secret of your life is and they will discover that the rock which underpins the entire building and upon which rests your whole existence is the very person of Christ, your friend, brother and Lord, the Son of God incarnate, who gives meaning to all the universe.”

The Pope made his remarks on the evening of Aug. 18 at the Plaza de Cibeles. The gathering was his first face-to-face meeting with the massive throng of cheering young people gathered from dozens of countries across the globe.

As the popemobile made its way to the plaza through the crowds, Pope Benedict smiled and waved to the thousands of youth waving their national flags and enthusiastically yelling their greetings.

The night's events included a local group of university students singing for the Pope, an official welcome from Archbishop of Madrid Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, gifts being presented by several young people from the various regions of the world, and a liturgy that included a procession and Gospel reading.

“Today Madrid is also the capital of the world’s young people, and the gaze of the whole Church is fixed here,” Pope Benedict said. “Let us pray that his message of hope and love will also resound in the hearts of those who are not believers or who have grown distant from the Church.”

In his homily, the pontiff drew from the Gospel of Mark reading that contrasts the wise man who built his house on rock and the foolish man who built his house on sand.

When “we do not walk beside Christ our guide, we get lost on other paths, like the path of our blind and selfish impulses, or the path of flattering but self-serving suggestions, deceiving and fickle, which leave emptiness and frustration in their wake,” he said.

But if “you build on solid rock, not only will your life be solid and stable, but it will also help project the light of Christ, shining upon those of your own age and upon the whole of humanity.”

The Pope lamented that many people today create “their own gods” and believe that they need “no roots or foundations” other than themselves.

“They take it upon themselves to decide what is true or not, what is good and evil, what is just and unjust; who should live and who can be sacrificed in the interests of other preferences; leaving each step to chance, with no clear path, letting themselves be led by the whim of each moment.”

He noted that although these temptations are “always lying in wait,” it is important not to give in, since they lead to a fleeting and illusory half-life which fails to satisfy.

“We, on the other hand, know well that we have been created free, in the image of God, precisely so that we might be in the forefront of the search for truth and goodness,” he reminded the youth. We are “responsible for our actions, not mere blind executives, but creative coworkers in the task of cultivating and beautifying the work of creation.”

Pope Benedict encouraged the young pilgrims to use the upcoming days to get to know Christ better. If you are “rooted in him, your enthusiasm and happiness, your desire to go further, to reach the heights, even God himself, will always hold a sure future, because the fullness of life has already been placed within you.”

In his closing remarks, the Pope dedicated “the fruits of this World Youth Day to the most holy Virgin Mary, who said 'Yes' to the will of God, and teaches us a unique example of fidelity to her divine son, whom she followed to his death upon the Cross.”

“Let us meditate upon this more deeply in the Stations of the Cross. And let us pray that, like her, our 'Yes' to Christ today may also be an unconditional 'Yes' to his friendship, both at the end of this Day and throughout our entire lives.”

The Pope will pray the Stations of the Cross with the pilgrims at Cibeles Square on the evening of Friday, Aug. 19 after meeting with college professors and religious sisters earlier that day. On Aug. 20, he will meet patients at a local hospital and take part in a prayer vigil that night with the young people.

Pope Benedict’s World Youth Day visit will culminate on Sunday, Aug. 21 in an outdoor Mass which is expected to draw over 1 million people.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

There Is No One Like You by David Crowder Band

Pope Benedict to Youth: Be Still and Pray Like Mary

The following comes from

Pointing to Mary as a teacher, Benedict XVI is recommending a time for silence and mental prayer so as "to feel how beautiful it is when God speaks with us."
The Pope continued today with his audience series on prayer, addressing a crowd gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. After a break in the general audiences during July, he has returned to the theme of prayer with addresses on Bible reading and monastic silence.
Today he asked: what is meditation.
"It means to 'remember' all that God has done and not to forget all his benefits (cf. Psalm 103:2b). Often, we see only the negative things. We also need to hold in our memory the good things, the gifts that God has given us; we need to be attentive to the positive signs that come from God, and remember these," he said.
The Holy Father acknowledged that there might be more familiarity with vocal prayer, but he explained that meditation, what "Christian tradition calls 'mental prayer,'" does not involve words, but is "rather a making contact of our mind with the heart of God."
In this, the Pontiff stated, "Mary is a true model." He noted how St. Luke speaks of her as "keep[ing] all these things and ponder[ing] them in her heart."
"In our own time," he reflected, "we are absorbed with so many activities and commitments, concerns and problems. Often, we tend to fill up all the spaces of the day, without having a moment to stop and reflect and to nourish our spiritual life -- our contact with God. Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our days -- with all its activities -- moments to recollect ourselves in silence and to ponder all that the Lord wants to teach us, how he is present and acts in the world and in our life: to be able to stop for a moment and meditate."
Benedict XVI suggested that there are many ways to meditate.
This prayer is "to create within ourselves an atmosphere of recollection, of interior silence, so as to reflect upon and assimilate the mysteries of our faith, and all that God is doing in us -- and not only the things that come and go," he said.
The Pope suggested drawing from a short passage of sacred Scripture, or a page from a spiritual author, or taking advice from a confessor or spiritual director. He also recommended the rosary as meditation. Or, "we can also dwell upon some intense spiritual experience, on the words that have remained with us from our participation in the Sunday Eucharist."
From there, he explained, it is about "reading and reflecting ... pausing to consider it, seeking to understand it, to understand what it says to me, what it says today -- to open our soul to all that the Lord wants to say to us and teach us."
Making time
Benedict XVI affirmed that "consistency in giving time to God is a fundamental element for spiritual growth."
But then, he said, "it will be the Lord himself who gives us a taste for his mysteries, his words, his presence and action, to feel how beautiful it is when God speaks with us. He will make us understand in a more profound way what he wants of us.
"In the end, this is the goal of our meditation: to entrust ourselves ever more to the hands of God, with trust and love, certain that, in the end, it is only in doing his will that we are truly happy."

Holy Father Arrives in Spain for WYD

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Cost of Living by Ronnie Dunn

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Toward the bicentennial: three stages in knowing Don Bosco

The following comes from the Salesian News Agency:

Just a few days before the beginning of three years of preparation for the Bicentenary of the birth of Don Bosco, ANS asked Don Francesco Motto, Director of the Salesian Historical Institute, to suggest how we can learn more about this saint from Turin.
Understanding Don Bosco is a subject dear to the heart of the Rector Major, Don Pascual Chávez. Taken up in the first theme of the 26th General Chapter – Return to Don Bosco – it was put forward again to Salesians in his letter of 31 January 2011, in which he outlined the journey of preparation for 2015: a knowledge of Don Bosco’s life story, his educational method and his spirituality.
Don Motto’s suggestions – available in the Service section of ANS – are not limited to the mere knowledge of the historical data and, as outlined by the the Rector Major, include consideration of the educational and spiritual context.
The Salesian historian starts from the simple question: ‘Which Don Bosco?’ - "given that there are dozens of images of Don Bosco in books, reviews, journals, videos, film and fiction." He quotes the remark of Don Chávez’s in the Strenna for 2012: "Our approach to Don Bosco, using appropriate methods of historical research, has led us to better understand and assess his human and Christian greatness, his practical brilliance, his skills as an educator, his spirituality and his work, which are fully understood only if deeply rooted in the history of the society in which he lived."
For Don Motto there are three stages in getting to know Don Bosco better:
  Go back to genuine and certain sources, "meaning authentic texts from Don Bosco, his writings, edited by him or by his sons, on-line or on paper";
  Go further into the sources – even those which are most certain and valid – going beyond "a superficial and simplistic reading. It is necessary to understand the ideas and mental constructs of Don Bosco, his own values and those he adopted, his style of written and spoken language, his method of drafting and re-drafting... A theological reading of the sources can be enhanced by a social, economic, or political reading. The supernatural must take account of natural factors. Don Bosco is not an ‘island’ in the sea of his times."
Read the themes of the historical Don Bosco, whether religious, moral, dogmatic, political, cultural, economic..., in the light of analogous problems and recent events, so that they can be useful to us today.