Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Hope Is In You Lord by Aaron Shust

Why do I have to confess to a priest?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Father Barron visiting the Colosseum

Monday, November 28, 2011

You Are More by Tenth Avenue North

Tenth Avenue North - You Are More from Provident Label Group on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

People Get Ready by U2

I was in the mood for U2... in the spirit of Advent.

May's Miracle

Saturday, November 26, 2011

I Love You This Much by Jimmy Wayne

Pope Benedict to Youth: Look at passing of time with eyes of faith

The following comes from

Benedict XVI noted today the end of the liturgical year, and invited youth to consider the passage of time with faith.
In his customary greetings to youth, the sick, and newlyweds at the close of the general audience, the Pope spoke of the liturgical season.
"Dear young people," he invited, "harmonize your personal journey with the Church's, which flows from the liturgy, and prepare yourselves to live the time of Advent as a time of interior waiting on the Messiah, Our Savior."
The Holy Father added: "Dear sick, ask God for the gift of hope, and offer even your sufferings for this; and you, dear newlyweds, always trust in Divine Providence, which guides and accompanies Christian families."

Fr. Robert Barron: The Priority of Christ

Friday, November 25, 2011

Knockin' On Heaven's Door by Bob Dylan

Mama, take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s gettin’ dark, too dark for me to see
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Mama, put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore
That long black cloud is comin’ down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door

Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door
Knock, knock, knockin’ on heaven’s door

Fr. Barron on Why the New Missal Will Be Good for the Mass

The following comes from the NCR:

In just a few days, Catholics in this country will notice a rather significant change when they come to Mass. Commencing the First Sunday of Advent, the Church will be using a new translation of the Roman Missal. I would like to emphasize, at the outset, that this in no way represents a return to “the old Mass,” for the Latin texts that provide the basis for the new translation were all approved after Vatican II. So why the change? What had come increasingly to bother a number of bishops, priests and liturgists over the years was that the translation of the liturgical texts, which was made in some haste in the late ‘60s of the last century, was not sufficiently faithful to the Latin and was, at least in some instances, informed by questionable theological assumptions. And so, over the course of many years, two groups in particular — ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) and Vox Clara (a committee of bishops, liturgical experts and linguists from around the English-speaking world) — labored over a new translation. This work was approved by the U.S. Bishops’ Conference and finally by the Vatican, and Advent 2011 was determined to be the time to begin use of the new Missal.

What marks these new texts? They are, I would argue, more courtly, more theologically rich, and more scripturally poetic than the current prayers — and this is all to the good. An unmistakable feature of the Latin liturgical texts is their nobility and stately seriousness. They were composed by people who clearly knew that liturgical prayer is a manner of addressing almighty God, the Lord of heaven and earth. Accordingly, they utilized not the language of the street or of the market or political forum, but, instead, the speech appropriate at the court of a King to whom supplication is being made. Or to situate things more in the context of our culture: They employ the kind of speech one might use in addressing the president in a formal letter or the recipient of an honorary degree at a university commencement exercise. Now, when these texts were rendered into English in the late ‘60s of the last century, they were translated in accord with certain definite cultural tendencies of that time. Starting in the 1960s, we began to prize speech that is blunt, clear, direct, casual and unadorned. And we developed a prejudice against language that seems fussy or overly ornamental. To see a vivid illustration of this shift, compare the sermons of John Henry Newman or Fulton J. Sheen to almost any sermon delivered today.

But what this gave us, many came to see, was a certain flattening out of the language of the liturgy, a rendering pedestrian of that which ought to be elevated. I will give just one example from hundreds that I could have chosen. Here is the prayer that we currently offer as the opening collect for Tuesday of the first week of Advent: “God of mercy and consolation, help us in our weakness and free us from sin. Hear our prayers that we may rejoice at the coming of your Son.” Pretty clear, direct, straightforward. Now here is the new translation of the same Latin prayer: “Look with favor, Lord God, on our petitions, and in our trials grant us your compassionate help that, consoled by the presence of your Son, whose coming we now await, we may be tainted no longer by the corruption of former ways.” We notice first that a great deal of the Latin original was simply not translated in the earlier version, but we also remark that the formality and courtly elegance of the Latin is preserved in the new version.

Next, let us consider the increased theological density of the new translations. It appears to have been a conviction of the translators in the ‘60s that overly theological language would turn people off and make the liturgy less immediately appealing. A particularly clear example of the application of this principle is the old translation of the post-Communion prayer for the 30th Sunday of the year: “Lord, bring to perfection within us the communion we share in this sacrament. May our celebration have an effect in our lives.” That prayer, I think you’ll agree, is rather bland and inelegant, landing, as one wag put it, “with a thud in heaven.” But it is also remarkably lacking in theological density and precision. Effect? What kind of effect? Good, bad, sacred, secular, psychological? Now listen to the new translation of the same Latin prayer: “May your sacraments, O Lord, we pray, perfect in us what lies within them, that what we now celebrate in signs we may one day possess in truth.” In a rather pithy formula, we find both a subtle theology of grace as well as a presentation of the eschatological dimension of the sacraments. Now we know fairly precisely what the “effect” is that we’re praying for.
Finally, let us look at the richly poetic and scriptural quality of the new translations. Once more, it seems to have been a conscious decision of the earlier translators that much of the poetic imagery of the Bible — so evident in the Latin originals — should be trimmed from the English versions. I will give one example of dozens I could have chosen. The older translation of the opening Collect for the First Sunday of Advent runs, in part, as follows: “All powerful God, increase our strength of will for doing good, that Christ may find an eager welcome at his coming …” And here is the new version of the same prayer: “Grant your faithful, we pray, almighty God, the resolve to run forth to meet your Christ with righteous deeds at his coming, so that, gathered at his right hand, they may be worthy to possess the heavenly Kingdom.” Our longing for Christ was pretty blandly communicated in the earlier version as “eager”; but in the new translation, it is given wonderfully rich expression as “running forth to meet” the Lord. If the new prayers sometimes won’t seem as immediately understandable as their predecessors, we should remember that poetry is generally harder to grasp than prose, but infinitely richer than prose in its evocative and descriptive power.

There has been, over the past several decades, an enormous debate concerning this process of translation. If you doubt me, dip into blogs written by liturgists — if you dare. But the Church has given us these new texts, and I think it is wise for us to accept them in a positive spirit. We will find in time, I believe, that they will deepen and enrich our prayer together.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

My Hope Is In You Lord by Aaron Shust

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Saint of the day: Pope Clement I

The following comes from the CNA:

On Nov. 23 Roman Catholics remember the fourth Pope, St. Clement I, a disciple of the apostles who inherited the authority of St. Peter in the first century. Eastern Catholics celebrate his feast on Nov. 25.

The details of Clement's life, before his conversion and even afterward, are largely unknown. Some aspects of his writings have led scholars to believe that the fourth Pope either came from a Jewish background, or had converted to Judaism earlier in life before entering the Catholic Church.

Tradition suggests that Clement was the son of a Roman named Faustinus, and that he joined the Church in Rome during its early years through the preaching of Saint Peter or Saint Paul. He went on to share in the missionary journeys of the apostles, and may even have assisted the first Pope in running the Church on a local level.

After the deaths of St. Peter's first two successors, the canonized Popes Linus and Cletus, Clement took up St. Peter's position of primacy in the Church around the year 90. One of his most important tasks, during nearly 10 years as Pope, was to resolve serious problems in the Church of Corinth, which St. Paul had also struggled to discipline.

Clement's own letter to the Corinthians, though not part of the biblical canon, offers an important look at the role of authority and charity in the early Church. Its introduction suggests that Pope Clement composed it while his own local Church faced persecution from the Roman Emperor Domitian.

In the letter, the Pope describes how the Corinthians had once been “distinguished by humility,” being “in no respect puffed up with pride” and “more willing to give than to receive.” But in time, “the worthless rose up against the honored, those of no reputation against such as were renowned, the foolish against the wise, the young against those advanced in years.”

“Let us give up vain and fruitless cares, and approach to the glorious and venerable rule of our holy calling,” Pope Clement wrote in his call to repentance. “Let us attend to what is good, pleasing, and acceptable in the sight of him who formed us.”

Order and discipline, he noted, are at least as important in the Church as they are in the rest of creation, where the powers of nature follow God's decrees. The Pope also warned the Corinthians to follow “those who cultivate peace with godliness,” rather than “those who hypocritically profess to desire it.”

The Church Clement headed was one that honored tradition and right order as fundamentals of its life.

“It behooves us to do all things in order, which the Lord has commanded us to perform at stated times,” he told the Corinthians. God, he said, “has enjoined offerings and service to be performed ... not thoughtlessly or irregularly, but at the appointed times and hours.”

“Where and by whom (God) desires these things to be done, he himself has fixed by his own supreme will, in order that all things being piously done according to his good pleasure, may be acceptable to him.”

The fourth Pope's writings reveal much about the early Church, but little about his own life. According to one later account, he died in exile during the reign of the Emperor Trajan, who purportedly banished Clement to Crimea (near modern Ukraine) and had him killed in retaliation for evangelizing the local people. In 868 the Greek missionary St. Cyril claimed to have recovered St. Clement's bones.

St. Clement I probably died around the year 100. He is among the saints mentioned in the Western Church's most traditional Eucharistic prayer, the Roman Canon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Sing with the Angels and Saints

Monday, November 21, 2011

Lover of the Light by Mumford and Sons

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Awake My Soul by Mumford and Sons

Pope celebrates Mass in Benin: "Let us allow Christ to free us from the world of the past!"

On the pope's final day in Benin, he celebrated Mass with the faithful and asked them to renew their faith in Christ. 


Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Following in the footsteps of my blessed predecessor Pope John Paul II, it is a great joy for me to visit for the second time this dear continent of Africa, coming among you, in Benin, to address to you a message of hope and of peace. I would like first of all to express my cordial gratitude to Archbishop Antoine Ganyé Cotonou, for his words of welcome and to greet the Bishops of Benin, as well as the Cardinals and Bishops from various African countries and from other continents. To all of you, dear brothers and sisters, who have come to this Mass celebrated by the Successor of Peter, I offer my warm greetings. I am thinking certainly of the faithful of Benin, but also of those from other French-speaking countries, such as Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and others. Our Eucharistic celebration on the Solemnity of Christ the King is an occasion to give thank to God for the one hundred and fifty years that have passed since the beginnings of the evangelization of Benin; it is also an occasion to express our gratitude to him for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of African Bishops which was held in Rome a few months ago.

The Gospel which we have just heard tells us that Jesus, the Son of Man, the ultimate judge of our lives, wished to appear as one who hungers and thirsts, as a stranger, as one of those who are naked, sick or imprisoned, ultimately, of those who suffer or are outcast; how we treat them will be taken as the way we treat Jesus himself. We do not see here a simple literary device, or a simple metaphor. Jesus’s entire existence is an example of it. He, the Son of God, became man, he shared our existence, even down to the smallest details, he became the servant of the least of his brothers and sisters. He who had nowhere to lay his head, was condemned to death on a cross. This is the King we celebrate!

For the rest of the story please click here.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Amazing Grace by The Priests

Monstrance connected to Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos to be returned to New Orleans

st_alphonsus_monstrance_sunburst.jpgTHe following comes from the NOLA site:

Days before it was to be auctioned off in New York City, a 19th-century altarpiece associated with Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos has been removed from the sale and will be returned to New Orleans. "We are in final negotiations to bring the monstrance back," archdiocesan spokeswoman Sarah McDonald said Tuesday.
The monstrance, which is made of gold-plated silver, stands 4 feet high and weighs 13 pounds. It used to be in St. Alphonsus Church in the Irish Channel, where Seelos occasionally heard confessions, and it is depicted in the church's ceiling fresco.Among the topics of negotiation, she said, is the price to be paid to Sotheby's, the New York auction house that had planned to sell the monstrance today along with other examples of 19th-century furniture and decorative arts.
For the purposes of the auction, Sotheby's had said the monstrance is worth between $40,000 and $80,000.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond said last month that that amount was more than the archdiocese could afford. But after people learned of the impending sale, "we received many calls ... offering assistance," McDonald said.
She declined to say whether a donor or group of donors was buying the vessel. Darrell Rocha, a Sotheby's spokesman, said he could offer no information beyond the fact that the monstrance has been withdrawn from today's sale.
Aymond is "directly involved" in the negotiations, McDonald said.
He is attending a bishops conference in Baltimore and was unavailable for comment Tuesday.
25nw.miracle2Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, C.SS.R, a Redemptorist priest in New Orleans in the late 1860s.
The monstrance, a bejeweled vessel shaped like a cross surrounded by a sunburst, contains a glass case, called a luna, in which the consecrated host is displayed for the adoration of the faithful. Catholics believe that, upon consecration, the host becomes the body of Jesus Christ.
The piece's name derives from the Latin word monstrare, meaning "to show."
Although it is definite that the monstrance will return to New Orleans, no one knows yet when it will return or where it will go, McDonald said.
Charles "Jerry" Rosato, a longtime antiques dealer who collects religious artifacts, said he bought it in the late 1990s from the Rev. Alton Carr, St. Mary's pastor, for $5,000 because the parish needed money.
The sale was approved by Monsignor Earl Woods, a friend of Rosato's who was archdiocesan archivist at the time. Woods has since died, and Carr has not returned calls seeking comment.
Rosato consigned the monstrance to Sotheby's because he needed money to pay off a $30,000 Hurricane Katrina-related loan and, he said, the monstrance was the only thing he could use as collateral.
Aymond said last month that the sale violated church law, which forbids the sale of a sacred object to anyone not affiliated with a church.
"Besides being a relic of someone who could be canonized with local ties, a monstrance holds the body of Christ and should never be auctioned off for money," Aymond said then.
The prospect of the monstrance's return is "fantastic," Rosato said, adding, "That's exactly what I wanted."
st_alphonsus_monstrance_vertical.jpgView full sizeThe bejeweled altarpiece once seen at St. Alphonsus Church was scheduled to be sold at Sotheby's auction house.
The monstrance was made in France in 1857. It was in St. Alphonsus Church when Seelos, a native of Bavaria, was in New Orleans. He was assigned to St. Mary's Assumption Church, across Constance Street from St. Alphonsus, because many German-speaking Catholics worshipped there.
However, he occasionally crossed the street to celebrate sacraments for English-speaking worshippers at St. Alphonsus, said the Rev. Byron Miller, the chief advocate for Seelos' canonization.
He was "a tireless sacramental priest," Miller said.
Seelos, who arrived in September 1866 and died of yellow fever 13 months later, has been beatified because a miraculous cure was attributed to his intervention. As a result, "Blessed" precedes his name.
He is one miracle away from sainthood.
More important than the monstrance's connection to Seelos is its iconic importance to the Irish Channel community, said Bill Murphy, who was an altar boy at St. Alphonsus.
The church was closed in 1979 and has since been used as an art and cultural center.
Miller, who called the altarpiece "the prodigal monstrance," said he was "ecstatic" about its impending return.
"It never should have left the city," he said.

Pope Benedict to people of Benin: Seek Jesus through Mary

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI urged the people of Benin to seek Jesus Christ through the intercession and example of his mother Mary.

“She shows us, with simplicity and with a mother’s heart, the one Light and Truth: her Son, Jesus Christ who leads humanity to its full realization in the Father,” said the Pope in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mercy in Benin’s largest city of Cotonou Nov. 18.

“Let us not be afraid to invoke, with confidence, her who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces.”

The cathedral visit was the Pope’s first stop after touching down in Benin. After arriving at the packed church, he prayed at the tombs of two previous bishops of Cotonou—Archbishop Christoph Adimou and Archbishop Isidore de Sousa.

He described them both as “heroic workers in the vineyard of the Lord,” and gave particular mention to Archbishop de Souza’s “decisive role” in helping the country’s transition from communism to democracy in 1991.

The Pope explained that often in the “salvation history” of both individuals and nations, “divine mercy” consists “not only in the remission of our sins” but also “the fact that God, our Father, redirects us, sometimes not without pain, affliction or fear on our part, to the path of truth and light, for he does not wish us to be lost.”

The model of how to respond to “the mystery of divine love,” he said, was the Virgin Mary since “by her yes to the call of God, she contributed to the manifestation of divine love in the midst of humanity.”

Thus, “she is the Mother of Mercy by her participation in the mission of her Son: she has received the privilege of being our helper always and everywhere.”

“Under the shelter of her mercy, deadened hearts are healed, the snares of the devil are thwarted and enemies are reconciled,” he said, adding that “in Mary, we have not only a model of perfection, but also one who helps us to realize communion with God and with our brothers and sisters.”

As “Mother of Mercy,” she is “a sure guide to the disciples of her son who wish to be of service to justice, to reconciliation and to peace.” Christians should “not be afraid to invoke, with confidence, her who ceaselessly dispenses to her children abundant divine graces.”

The Pope concluded by asking God for the help of “Our Lady of Africa,” that she may “intercede for Africa before your divine Son, and obtain for all of humanity salvation and peace!”

He then imparted his apostolic blessing before leading the congregation in the singing of the Marian anthem, the Salve Regina.

Bridging the Great Divide: Musings of a Post-Liberal, Post-Conservative Evangelical Catholic

Friday, November 18, 2011

What Life Would Be Like by Big Daddy Weave

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fr. Robert Barron on Being a Priest Today

Hat tip to the Catholic Fire site.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Every Time I Breathe by Big Daddy Weave


The following comes from the Blaze site:

The mood among many U.S. Roman Catholic bishops was captured in a recent speech by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. His talk, called “Catholics in the Next America,” painted a bleak picture of a nation increasingly intolerant of Christianity.

“The America emerging in the next several decades is likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country’s past,” Chaput told students last week at Assumption College, an Augustinian school in Worcester, Mass. “It’s not a question of when or if it might happen. It’s happening today.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meets Monday in Baltimore for its national meeting feeling under siege: from a broader culture moving toward accepting gay marriage; a White House they often condemn as hostile to Catholic teaching; and state legislatures that church leaders say are chipping away at religious liberty.

Many Catholic academics, activists and parishioners say the bishops are overreacting. John Gehring of Faith in Public Life, a liberal advocacy network for religious voters, has argued that in a pluralistic society, government officials can choose policies that differ from church teaching without prejudice being a factor.

“Some perspective is needed here,” Gehring, a Catholic, wrote on his organization’s blog.

Still, the bishops see themselves as more and more on the losing side of these disagreements, and they are taking steps they hope will protect the church.

For the rest of the story click here.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Lose My Soul by TobyMac

A Good Examination of Conscience

The following comes from the Standing on My Head blog:

Many Catholics only trot off to confession when they feel bad about what they've done. But how we feel about our sins is not necessarily an accurate indicator of the severity of the sin.

We usually feel bad about our sin with three different emotions: fear, shame and guilt. Fear is simply the fear of getting caught. "Geesh! What if somebody found out about that!!" This is a very powerful emotion, but not really the best motivation for going to confession. It might be a doozy of a feeling, but it's self interested. You don't mind the sin that much. You just quiver at the thought of being found out or being punished.

The second emotion is shame. This is a bit better than fear of being caught, but not much. Shame is the emotion we feel when we face what we've done, and that sin contradicts our nice self image. "I can't believe I've done such a thing!! That's just not me!!" Yes it is. It's just not the 'you' you thought you were. Shame is also not a great motivation for confession, but it's better than nothing. The emotion of shame is strong, but it's really just a knock in your pride.

We often mistake fear of getting caught and shame with guilt. The three emotions can certainly be tumbled all together when we've done wrong and we classify that jumbled mess of emotions as 'guilt'. But real guilt is when we acknowledge that we've done wrong and feel bad simply because we have done evil.

This is why a good examination of conscience is vital--because we step around all the emotions and simply ask ourselves what we've done objectively. This is important because, while we may feel very frightened, ashamed and guilty about some sins--they may not actually be the most serious sins. Likewise, there are other sins that we may not feel frightened, ashamed and guilty about at all which are, in fact, more serious because they are direct actions of disobedience towards God or a form of violence towards others which we do with full knowledge and full consent.

This is where the criteria for mortal sin come in. With a good examination of conscience we can see what we've done and ask ourselves if it is grave matter, whether we had full knowledge that it was grave matter, and if we did it anyway with full consent. If so--mortal sin--even if we don't feel terribly guilty about it. Or, on the other hand, if not--then not a mortal sin --even if we do feel terribly guilty about it.

The other thing a priest can help us do in the confessional is discover the level of our culpability. A sin is a sin is a sin. No difficult circumstances or good intention can make a sin something other than a sin. However--it is true that circumstance and intention can lessen or increase one's culpability for sin.

So, for example, if a teenage girl has an abortion and she really believes the doctor that it is 'just a collection of cells' and she really is in a terribly tight situation health wise and financially and socially, and she is desperate and ignorant--she has committed a terrible sin, but her culpability would be much less than that of the abortionist who knows exactly what he is doing and is killing for money. The circumstances and intention should never be used as an excuse or a justification for sin. However, they may lessen (or increase) the culpability and this is what one can discuss with a priest.

Finally, the good examination of conscience has some excellent benefits. It helps you to be not so nervous before confession. The more objective you are about your sins the less you will feel nervous and ashamed. You will also be able to deal with the ones you feel are the 'biggies' by the fact that the good examination of conscience will have revealed other sins to you which perhaps are more profound and deeper in your soul even if they are not as passionate and emotion laden as the 'biggies' you are so ashamed of.

Remember too that confession gives us the grace to overcome our sins. God's help is planted down deep at the root level of our lives. His grace is planted there through confession, and as we live in grace that seed of glory grows and becomes a great tree in which all the bird-like angels of the air can come and roost.

The Calling

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beautiful, Beautiful by Francesca Battistelli

Beautiful , Beautiful Francesca Battistelli from abimelec velasquez cardona on Vimeo.

Don't know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be
Awakening my heart, breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me, all that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful

Now there's a joy inside I can't contain
But even perfect days can end in rain
And though it's pouring down, I see You through the clouds
Shining on my face

Like sunlight burning at midnight
[| From: |]
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me, all that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful

I have come undone
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me, all that I need
You are so beautiful

Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me, all that I need
You are so beautiful, beautiful

Beautiful, beautiful

Fr. Robert Barron on the new translation of the Roman Missal

Saturday, November 12, 2011

You Love Me Anyway by Sidewalk Prophets

Friday, November 11, 2011

A New Salesian Vocation Website!

You can find out more about St. John Bosco and the Salesian Vocation in the Eastern US and Canada here at our new vocation website!

Fall Apart by Josh Wilson

Monasticism Rising

The following comes from the Catholic Online site:
For more than nine centuries, Trappist monks and nuns have witnessed to the gospel of Jesus Christ through a cloistered, communal life wholly ordered to contemplation. Cistercian communities across the U.S. are reaching out in new ways to revive awareness and interest in the monastic vocation. To help answer the needs of men and women discerning a call from God to become a monk or nun, the Trappists have developed creative online resources.
PEOSTA, IA (Cistercians of the Strict Observance) - For more than nine centuries, Trappist monks and nuns have witnessed to the gospel of Jesus Christ through a cloistered, communal life wholly ordered to contemplation. Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as "Trappists" are an order of the Roman Catholic Church who founded their first monastery in the U.S. in 1848.
Cistercian presence in the U.S. has since expanded to include 17 monasteries across the nation. Yet recently, monastic membership has drastically decreased-50 percent since the 1940s-leading those 17 communities to explore more modernized means of fostering new membership.
Young, single individuals still in the process of discerning their life's vocation represent the ideal demographic of monastic candidates. But Trappist monks and nuns have found it challenging to connect with such a group immersed in today's largely secular society. 
Father Alberic, member of New Melleray Abbey in Peosta, Iowa, identified secularism as the number one factor generating the 50 percent decline in membership over the last 70 years. He describes secularism as "a radical setting up of life and relationships without reference to God."
In contrast, Trappist monks and nuns structure their days with prayer, communal liturgy and Scriptural study, striving to maintain mindfulness of God in all that they do. "Our life doesn't make sense to people who live without conscious reference to God," said Father Alberic.
The secular "setting up of life" common in present times "has never been tried before in the history of the world," Father Alberic observed.  Families used to pass down faith traditions from generation to generation and their religious beliefs dictated how they should live their lives day to day. Today's culture indicates that continuity between parent and child has since dwindled.
According to Father Alberic, most people nowadays enter monastic life in their 30s or 40s-much later in life than ever before. "It just takes people longer these days to mature and leave their parents and decide what they want to do with their lives," he said. "With the cultural conditions we are in now, it's harder for people to make such a long-term commitment. Very difficult for young people especially."
In response to the changing cultural conditions, Cistercian communities across the U.S. are reaching out in new ways to revive awareness and interest in the monastic vocation. To help answer the needs of men and women discerning a call from God to become a monk or nun, the Trappists have developed creative online resources.
Father Alberic, the regional secretary for formation, leads development efforts for,  coordinating content contributed by fellow Trappist monasteries. As a way to incorporate dynamic, engaging content on the site, Father Alberic established two blogs, "A Nun's Diary" and "A Monk's Diary."
Although it's not common practice for Trappist monks and nuns to keep records of daily events, much less publish them online, regular updates to these blogs come from the personal journals of an actual monk and nun for the purpose of giving others insight into an otherwise hidden vocation.
The website also includes a feature called the Twelfth Century Chat Room. While not a chat room in the modern sense, this portion of the site shares a modernized transcription of a "chat" that took place 900 years ago between Aelred, one of the great wisdom figures of the Cistercian tradition, and a young man who just entered the monastery. "Candidates have told me again and again that that conversation had addressed some of their questions and concerns about becoming a monk," Father Alberic said.
Father Alberic and his Trappist brothers and sisters hope that the chat room, diaries and other information on the site will engage people's curiosity. The very nature of a monastic community that spends much of its time in silence and solitude creates a level of mystery. The unknown makes it difficult for those seeking a deeper purpose in life to learn about or understand the Trappists' ascetic lifestyle.
Ultimately, Father Alberic's goal with the information on is to encourage people to visit a monastery. "Vocation in life always comes from relationship," Father Alberic said. "You meet a community and feel a sense of solidarity."
From the day a visitor arrives, he or she lives the life-rising before dawn to pray the first of seven Liturgy of the Hours prayers, participating in community liturgy, studying and meditating on Scripture, and working side by side with the other monks or nuns doing manual labor.
While taking part in the community dramatically increases the chance of someone staying, many people decide 

it's not for them, Father Alberic explained. Only a very small percentage of the people go on to take the solemn profession of vows, in which a monk or nun makes a lifetime commitment before family, friends and God to live the monastic way of life. "It's not a life many people are capable of living," he said.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Cave by Mumford and Sons

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Someone Worth Dying For by MikesChair

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Busted Heart (Hold on to Me) by For King and Country

Pope Benedict offers advice to priests

The following comes from

Benedict XVI is recommending three conditions for a priest to grow in conformity with Christ, and the first is being fascinated by Him -- His words, gestures and very person.
The Pope offered his recommendations at the celebration of vespers on Friday to mark the opening of the academic year at the pontifical universities.
Mindful of the 70th anniversary of Pius XII's institution of the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations, the Holy Father focused his reflection on the priesthood, though he clarified that his words are applicable to others, since it is "important for all, in fact, always to learn more to 'remain' with the Lord."
"There are some conditions for there to be a growing consonance between Christ and the life of the priest," the Pope stated: "the aspiration to work with Jesus to spread the Kingdom of God, the gratuity of the pastoral charge and the attitude of service."
The Bishop of Rome first emphasized that in the priesthood, "there is the encounter with Christ and being fascinated, struck by his words, by his gestures, by his very person. It is distinguishing his voice from many voices. (...) It is like feeling the radiance of the Good and Love that emanate from him, feeling enveloped and involved to the point of desiring to remain with him like the disciples of Emmaus."
The minister of the Gospel is one who is drawn in by Christ, the Holy Father said, "who knows how to 'remain' with him, who enters into harmony, in intimate friendship, with him, that all be done 'as God wishes.'"
Fully fulfilled
Next, Benedict XVI spoke of the priestly calling to be "administrators of the Mysteries of God 'not for personal gain but with a generous soul.'"
"The Lord's call to ministry is not the fruit of special merits but a gift to be received and to which there corresponds a dedication of oneself not to one's own project but God's, in a generous and disinterested way, that he might dispose of us according to his will even if this does not concur with our desires of self-realization," he stressed. "(...) We must never forget -- as priests -- the one legitimate ascent for the ministry of shepherd is not that of success but that of the cross."
Finally, the Holy Father exhorted priests to live as servants, both in the sense of being role models for the faithful and as servants of the sacraments.
"It is one life, then, profoundly marked by this service: from the attentive care of the flock, from the faithful celebration of the liturgy, and from the prompt solicitude for all of the brothers, especially the most poor and needy," he said. "In living this 'pastoral charity' on the model of Christ and with Christ, in whatever post the Lord calls one to, every priest can fully realize himself and his vocation."

Monday, November 7, 2011

We Are by Kari Jobe

An Interview with Archbishop Chaput

Can we Completely Understand the Trinity?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Anything Like Me by Brad Paisley

Fr. Robert Barron comments on Abortion: Shocking Numbers out of New York

TV Spots to Invite Catholics 'Home' at Christmas

The following comes from

A ministry dedicated to bringing fallen-away Catholics back to the Church through media will be getting its message to 250 million people this Christmas season.

Catholics Come Home will air a one-minute invitation to return to parish life and get to know the Church. The spot will run more than 400 times from Dec. 16 to Jan. 8, reaching every U.S. diocese.

According to a statement from the ministry, Catholics Come Home hopes to inspire as many as 1 million souls to come home to local parishes. They've based this goal on statistical census results from Catholics Come Home media initiatives that have aired in 30 past partner dioceses: Where these ads have aired, Mass attendance has increased an average of 10%, and helped over 300,000 people home to the Church, just since 2008.

The bi-lingual Catholics Come Home commercials are scheduled to air on CBS, NBC, Univision, TBS, USA, TNT, CNN, Fox News, and other networks during shows such as 60 Minutes, NCIS, NBC Nightly News, the Today Show, Jay Leno, O'Reilly, major sports, and highly rated sitcoms.

Be Prepared

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Our Lady of Guadalupe unites all Americans

The following comes from the CNA:
The under secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, recently stressed that Our Lady of Guadalupe brings together the people of North and South America.

Pointing to Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, “Ecclesia in America,” Carriquiry noted that Our Lady of Guadalupe “is the patroness of America, and she makes us—Americans and Latin Americans—into a family of sons and daughters and brothers and sisters.”

“This is what we need to be promoting through the bonds and ties of communion between Catholics, between Churches, but also between lay Catholics in the United States and Latin America.”

In an interview with CNA, Carriquiry said the two peoples of North and South America are united by the Catholic faith. “The first Christian presence in the United States … passing through New Orleans to the great California, was Catholic,” he recalled.

In addition, he continued, the presence of Hispanics in the heart of the Church in American culture “will continue to grow and they will be half of all Catholics in the U.S. within 10 to 15 years.”

The Catholic faith will again unite these groups, Carriquiry argued. “It is important that these two peoples are not in opposition to one another, distracted with one another and isolated from one another, but rather that they have a much more intense relationship of mutual enrichment,” he said.

Carriquiry, a native of Montevideo, Uruguay, is the highest ranking layman in the Roman Curia. He is married to Lidice Maria Gomez Mango and has four children and three grandchildren. He was a close collaborator to Pope Benedict XVI, first at the Consilium dei Laicis and later at the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

He also participated as an advisor at the Latin American Bishops’ Meetings at Puebla in 1979, Santo Domingo in 1992 and Aparecida in 2007.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Shine by David Crowder Band

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fr. Barron comments on "dumbed down" Catholicism

Pope Benedict: Holiness is the vocation of all the baptized

The following comes from the Vatican News site:

During his Angelus on Tuesday, Pope Benedict said “the Feast of All Saints is a good time to lift our gaze from the realities of the world… to the enormity of God, who encompasses all eternity and holiness. “
He said holiness is the vocation of all the baptized, and all the people of God are called to be saints.
The Pope then turned his thoughts to Wednesday’s commemoration of All Souls.
“From the early days of the Christian faith,” he said, “the Church on earth, recognizing the communion of the whole mystical body of Jesus Christ, has with great respect honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers for them.”
The Pope said “our prayers for the dead are not only useful, but necessary.”
The Holy Father reminded the faithful to keep the bonds of affection with our loved ones who have died, not only through prayer, but also through actions like visiting cemeteries.
He said this reminds us all that we are meant for another life after death.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rich Mullins in Concert

Pope Benedict reflects upon death on All Souls Day

The following comes from the CNA:

On All Souls Day, Pope Benedict XVI reflected upon death and the hope that Christian faith brings to it.

“As human beings, we have a natural fear of death and we rebel against its apparent finality,” Pope Benedict said to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience.

“Faith teaches us that the fear of death is lightened by a great hope, the hope of eternity, which gives our lives their fullest meaning. The God who is love offers us the promise of eternal life through the death and resurrection of His Son.”

Therefore, said the Pope, “in Christ, death no longer appears as an abyss of emptiness, but rather a path to life which will never end.”

In the Catholic Church, the month of November is dedicated to praying for the dead. Today priests around the world are given special permission to say three Masses – one for the Pope, one for the dead and one for a personal intention. It is also customary to visit family graves on this day. In some Spanish speaking countries – such as Mexico – this has evolved into a pious national festival known as the “Day of the Dead.”

The Pope said that a visit to the cemetery “to pray for loved ones who have left us” is a good reminder of the “Communion of Saints” and that there is a “close link between we who still walk upon the earth and our countless brothers and sisters who have already reached eternity.”

And yet many of us still fear death, observed the Pope, giving three reasons why this is the case. He pointed to fear of the unknown, the apparent destruction of “all that was beautiful and great” in our lifetime, and also a fear of judgement, in particularly for those actions that “with skill, we often remove or attempt to remove from our consciousness.”

The Pope said that modern society often tries to approach death using the “criteria of scientific experimentalism,” so that the “great question of death must be answered not with faith, but with testable, empirical knowledge.”

But this approach, he cautioned, can end up in a form of spiritualism where, in an attempt to have contact with the world beyond death, we almost imagine “a reality” that is “a copy of the present.”

This worldview reduces man to “a horizontal dimension” and causes life to lose “its deeper meaning.”

The life of a person is understandable, Pope Benedict said, “only if there is a love that overcomes all isolation, even that of death.” The practical impact of this is that “only those who can recognize a great hope in death, can also live a life based on hope.”

The Pope then reminded pilgrims of the numerous occasions where Christ confirmed the reality of life after death, including upon the Cross on Calvary when he “addressed the criminal crucified on his right,” with the words, “Truly I tell you, with me today you will be in Paradise.”

“Christ is the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in him will never die,” Pope Benedict said in conclusion.

Before imparting his apostolic blessing, Pope Benedict also prayed that the economic meeting of the G-20 Head of State or Government in Cannes, France, over the next two days “will help to overcome the difficulties that, worldwide, impede the promotion of an authentically human and integral development.”

The Pope rounded off his public duties for the Solemnity of All Souls with a 6 p.m. visit to the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica, where he prayed at the tombs of his papal predecessors who are buried there.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Inspirational Story of Garvan Byrne


The following comes from

The Church has to meet the challenge of helping migrants to keep their faith, even if their destination countries provide less support than their native cultures, says Benedict XVI.
This is the theme taken up by the Pope's message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated Jan. 15.
The message was released by the Vatican today.
"Today we feel the urgent need to give a fresh impetus and new approaches to the work of evangelization in a world in which the breaking down of frontiers and the new processes of globalization are bringing individuals and peoples even closer," the Holy Father wrote. "This is both because of the development of the means of social communication and because of the frequency and ease with which individuals and groups can move about today. In this new situation we must reawaken in each one of us the enthusiasm and courage that motivated the first Christian communities to be undaunted heralds of the Gospel's newness."
The Pontiff observed how migrants often are "constrained to consider [Christ] no longer relevant to their lives, to lose the meaning of their faith, no longer to recognize themselves as members of the Church, and often lead a life no longer marked by Christ and his Gospel."
He said that their emigration often implies leaving behind "peoples characterized by their Christian faith" and finding themselves in countries with a Christian minority or where faith "has been reduced to a cultural fact."
"Here the Church is faced with the challenge of helping migrants keep their faith firm even when they are deprived of the cultural support that existed in their country of origin, and of identifying new pastoral approaches, as well as methods and expressions, for an ever vital reception of the Word of God," the Pope continued. "In some cases this is an opportunity to proclaim that, in Jesus Christ, humanity has been enabled to participate in the mystery of God and in his life of love. Humanity is also opened to a horizon of hope and peace, also through respectful dialogue and a tangible testimony of solidarity. In other cases there is the possibility of reawakening the dormant Christian conscience through a renewed proclamation of the Good News and a more consistent Christian life to enable people to rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ who calls Christians to holiness wherever they may be, even in a foreign land."
The Holy Father exhorted Christian communities to be close to migrant workers and their families, not only "accompanying them with prayer, solidarity and Christian charity," but also "fostering new political, economic and social planning that promotes respect for the dignity of every human person, the safeguarding of the family, access to dignified housing, to work and to welfare."
He also mentioned international students and their particular situation. At the presentation of the World Day message, it was announced that these students are expected to number 7 million by the year 2025.
"Christian communities are to be especially sensitive to the many young men and women who, precisely because of their youth, need reference points in addition to cultural growth, and have in their hearts a profound thirst for truth and the desire to encounter God," the Pope said. "Universities of Christian inspiration are to be, in a special way, places of witness and of the spread of the new evangelization, seriously committed to contributing to social, cultural and human progress in the academic milieu. (...) If these students meet authentic Gospel witnesses and examples of Christian life, it will encourage them to become agents of the new evangelization."
The Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers is in the process of organizing a world conference on the pastoral care of international students. The congress, scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 3 in Rome will focus on the theme "International Students and the Meeting of Cultures."