Monday, December 31, 2012

The Faith of Christians

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron on Papal Infallibility

Coach Lou Holtz: Catholics Come Home

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Louisiana's Richness: Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Pope Benedict: Is there room in the inn today?

The following comes from

Benedict XVI is asking if Mary, Joseph and the Infant Jesus can find room in the inn even today, or if we too are guilty of turning away God himself.
The Pope made this question during tonight's Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.
The Holy Father suggested that our attitude toward the homeless, towards refugees and migrants "takes on a deeper dimension: do we really have room for God when he seeks to enter under our roof? Do we have time and space for him? Do we not actually turn away God himself?"
The Pontiff lamented that the "faster we can move" with all of modernity's "time-saving appliances," the less time we have. "And God? The question of God never seems urgent," he said. "Our time is already completely full."
The Bishop of Rome asked if God has any place even in our thinking.
"If thinking is to be taken seriously, it must be structured in such a way that the 'God hypothesis' becomes superfluous," he said. "There is no room for him. Not even in our feelings and desires is there any room for him. We want ourselves. We want what we can seize hold of, we want happiness that is within our reach, we want our plans and purposes to succeed. We are so 'full' of ourselves that there is no room left for God. And that means there is no room for others either, for children, for the poor, for the stranger."
Sounds of heaven
In contrast, the Pope noted the song of the angels, who begin their hymn with the words "Glory to God in the highest."
"God is glorious," Benedict declared. "God is pure light, the radiance of truth and love. He is good. He is true goodness, goodness par excellence. The angels surrounding him begin by simply proclaiming the joy of seeing God’s glory. Their song radiates the joy that fills them. In their words, it is as if we were hearing the sounds of heaven. There is no question of attempting to understand the meaning of it all, but simply the overflowing happiness of seeing the pure splendour of God’s truth and love. We want to let this joy reach out and touch us: truth exists, pure goodness exists, pure light exists. God is good, and he is the supreme power above all powers. All this should simply make us joyful tonight, together with the angels and the shepherds."
The Holy Father went on to speak of the second part of the angels' message -- "peace on earth among men" -- considering the role of religion in history's wars, and in peace.
"It is true that religion can become corrupted and hence opposed to its deepest essence, when people think they have to take God’s cause into their own hands, making God into their private property," he said. "[...] [Y]et it is not true that denial of God would lead to peace. If God’s light is extinguished, man’s divine dignity is also extinguished. Then the human creature would cease to be God’s image, to which we must pay honour in every person, in the weak, in the stranger, in the poor. Then we would no longer all be brothers and sisters, children of the one Father, who belong to one another on account of that one Father. The kind of arrogant violence that then arises, the way man then despises and tramples upon man: we saw this in all its cruelty in the last century. Only if God’s light shines over man and within him, only if every single person is desired, known and loved by God is his dignity inviolable, however wretched his situation may be."
God's peace
The Holy Father invited prayer for the places where Christ lived and for the town of Bethlehem. "Let us pray that Israelis and Palestinians may be able to live their lives in the peace of the one God and in freedom," he said. "Let us also pray for the countries of the region, for Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and their neighbours: that there may be peace there, that Christians in those lands where our faith was born may be able to continue living there, that Christians and Muslims may build up their countries side by side in God’s peace."
The Pontiff concluded the homily by again encouraging the faithful to give space to God.
"The shepherds made haste," he said. "Holy curiosity and holy joy impelled them. In our case, it is probably not very often that we make haste for the things of God. God does not feature among the things that require haste. The things of God can wait, we think and we say. 
"And yet he is the most important thing, ultimately the one truly important thing. Why should we not also be moved by curiosity to see more closely and to know what God has said to us? At this hour, let us ask him to touch our hearts with the holy curiosity and the holy joy of the shepherds, and thus let us go over joyfully to Bethlehem, to the Lord who today once more comes to meet us."

Pope Benedict's Urbi et Orbi Message

The following comes from the Vatican Website:

“Veritas de terra orta est!” – “Truth has sprung out of the earth” (Ps 85:12).

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, a happy Christmas to you and your families!

In this Year of Faith, I express my Christmas greetings and good wishes in these words taken from one of the Psalms: “Truth has sprung out of the earth”. Actually, in the text of the Psalm, these words are in the future: “Kindness and truth shall meet; / justice and peace shall kiss. / Truth shall spring out of the earth, /and justice shall look down from heaven. / The Lord himself will give his benefits; / our land shall yield its increase. / Justice shall walk before him, / and salvation, along the way of his steps” (Ps 85:11-14).

Today these prophetic words have been fulfilled! In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth do indeed meet; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven. Saint Augustine explains with admirable brevity: “What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? The flesh. Ask whence Christ has been born, and you will see that truth has sprung out of the earth … truth has been born of the Virgin Mary” (En. in Ps. 84:13). And in a Christmas sermon he says that “in this yearly feast we celebrate that day when the prophecy was fulfilled: ‘truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven’. The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman ... The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe” (Sermones, 185, 1).

“If we believe”. Here we see the power of faith! God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith! We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born! “The earth has yielded its fruits” (Ps 67:7). Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.

Yes, may peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenceless and reaps innocent victims. Once again I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.

May peace spring up in the Land where the Redeemer was born, and may he grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end to long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.

In the countries of North Africa, which are experiencing a major transition in pursuit of a new future – and especially the beloved land of Egypt, blessed by the childhood of Jesus – may citizens work together to build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person.
May peace spring up on the vast continent of Asia. May the Child Jesus look graciously on the many peoples who dwell in those lands and, in a special way, upon all those who believe in him. May the King of Peace turn his gaze to the new leaders of the People’s Republic of China for the high task which awaits them. I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world.

May the Birth of Christ favour the return of peace in Mali and that of concord in Nigeria, where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians. May the Redeemer bring help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grant peace to Kenya, where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship.

May the Child Jesus bless the great numbers of the faithful who celebrate him in Latin America. May he increase their human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land, and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime.
Dear brothers and sisters! Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have becomeincarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you!

Monday, December 24, 2012

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks by Night

The First Christmas from the Gospel of Luke

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Pope's childhood letter to Baby Jesus

The following comes from EWTN News:

A Christmas letter that Pope Benedict XVI wrote to Baby Jesus when he was seven years-old demonstrates his devotion to the Sacred Heart and his desire to be a priest.

The letter is on display this Advent in the village of Marktl am Inn in Bavaria, where he was born.

"Dear Baby Jesus, quickly come down to earth. You will bring joy to children. Also bring me joy," he wrote in the 1934 letter, published on the Church-affiliated Italian website

"I would like a Volks-Schott (a Mass prayers book), green clothing for Mass (clerical clothing) and a heart of Jesus. I will always be good. Greetings from Joseph Ratzinger," he wrote in German cursive hard writing called Sütterlinschrift.
The letter, found during the renovation of a house that Joseph Ratzinger's occupied when he was a professor in Regensburg, was published on Dec. 18. The message was discovered in the estate of his sister Mary, who kept the letter after the Pope's house was converted into a small museum dedicated to him.

In Korazym’s view, the “letter was uncommon for a seven-year-old since he did not ask for toys or sweets, which were always in front of the Ratzinger family's nativity for his three brothers."

The first thing the Pope wanted was a Schott, one of the first prayer books with the missal in German and a parallel text in Latin. At the time there were two editions in the country, one for adults and one for children.

But little Joseph also asked for "green clothing for Mass."

The Pope and his brothers used to play the "game of the priest," and their mother, a seamstress, would help them by making clothes similar to those worn by priests, according to an "Inside the Vatican" interview his brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, gave a few years ago.

He also asked for a heart of Jesus, referring to an image of the Sacred Heart, which his family was very devoted to.
His brother noted that "each year the Nativity would have an extra miniature statue, which was a great joy … We would go with dad into the woods to gather moss and twigs of fir."

In his biography, Pope Benedict the XVI wrote that the volumes he received were "something precious and I could not dream them to have been more beautiful."

Along with his letter is another one by then 10-year-old Georg, who wanted sheet music for a song and a white chasuble, the outer vestment worn by priests when they celebrate Mass.

A third letter by "Mary," a 13-year-old who wanted a book full of drawings, was also discovered.

According to Korazym, "the letters were all on one sheet because the Ratzinger family was not rich."

Pope Benedict and his family lived in Aschau am Inn, a small town west of Munich, from 1932 to 1937.

"The Pope was very glad to find the letter and its contents made him smile," said his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, when he inaugurated the small museum at the end of summer.

"For him, the smell of musk still belongs to Christmas," he added.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Susan Boyle sings at Christmas in Rockefeller Center

Pope asks Christians to reassess priorities at Christmas

The following comes from the CNA:

The Dec. 20 edition of the Financial Times featured a rare article by Pope Benedict XVI in which he advises Christians to use Christmas as a time to “reassess priorities” and reflect on how to live out their faith with eternity in mind.

“While Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep reflection, even an examination of conscience,” he says in the article.

“At the end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene?” he asks readers.

Seeing an article in a newspaper by the Pope is a very unusual occurrence.

This particular story made it to print after the paper’s editorial office saw Pope Benedict’s recently published book “Jesus of Nazareth: the Infancy Narratives,” which inspired them to request him to write about Christmas.

The Vatican press office said Dec. 20 that Pope Benedict has granted interviews in the past to the BBC, a few months after his trip to the United Kingdom, and to the Italian national television station RAI in the program “A sua imagine” during Easter.

On both occasions, like today's Financial Times article, he spoke about Jesus Christ.

But this time he reflects on how Christians should examine how they can live out their faith in the world with a view to the eternal.

“Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God, was the response of Jesus when asked about paying taxes,” he says in the piece that ran opposite the editorial page.
He notes that this response emerged from a question meant to trap Jesus into taking sides about Roman rule in the land of Israel.

“Jesus' answer deftly moves the argument to a higher plane, gently cautioning against both the politicization of religion and the deification of temporal power, along with the relentless pursuit of wealth,” he says.

The 85-year-old pontiff notes that “the birth of Christ challenges us to reassess our priorities, our values, our way of life.”

Christians should use Christmas as an opportunity to read the Gospel more, he counsels.

“It is in the Gospel that Christians find inspiration for their daily lives and their involvement in worldly affairs – be it in the Houses of Parliament or in the stock exchange,” he states.

“Christians should not shun the world, they should engage with it,” he adds, “but their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology.”

The Pope also praises Christians' work for a more equitable sharing of the earth's resources, done out of a belief that they have the duty to care for the weakest and most vulnerable.

“Christians oppose greed and exploitation out of a conviction that generosity and selfless love, as taught and lived by Jesus of Nazareth, are the way that leads to fullness of life,” he explains.

And he says that because the goals of peace and justice are shared by so many, “much fruitful co-operation is possible between Christians and others.”

“Yet Christians render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God,” he insists, pointing out that Christians cannot always comply with governments’ demands.

Pope Benedict then responds to the frequent assertion that Christians “refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today” because of “an antiquated worldview.”

Christians will not comply, he says, because “they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it.”
He ends his Christmas reflection by speaking about Italian nativity scenes that include ancient Roman buildings in the background.

These displays show Jesus' birth as an end of the pagan world "in which Caesar's claims went virtually unchallenged."

“From the manger,” the Pope writes, “Christ calls us to live as citizens of his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that all people of goodwill can help to build here on earth.”

Fr. Robert Barron on The Hobbit

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Give Up Yer Aul Sins: The Birth of Jesus

Pope Paul VI Moves Toward Sainthood

The following comes from the CNA:

Pope Benedict XVI authorized an investigation on Dec. 20 which could result in proclaiming the late pontiff, Paul VI, a saint.

The Pope formally allowed the move as the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints wrote a decree stating that Paul VI had “heroic virtue,” the first step necessary in the canonization process.

The pontiff met with congregation head cardinal Angelo Amato on Thursday to let him begin the review of the “Humanae Vitae” author.

During their meeting, the Pope also authorized the congregation to continue several other canonization processes, which are usually long and complex.

They include Italian Blessed Antonio Primaldo and Colombia native Blessed Laura of St. Catherine of Sienna, as well as one Mexican, Blessed Maria Guadalupe, after miracles were attributed to all three.

He also gave the go ahead to continue the process for several martyrs, people with “heroic virtues,” and people who have had miracles proven to be attributed to them.

The list includes 33 Spaniards killed in the country's civil war between 1936 and 1939, a period when the revolutionaries killed numerous religious and practicing Catholics.

“It is more than likely that Paul VI will be beatified in 2013 at the end of the Year of Faith,” wrote La Stampa journalist Andrea Tornielli in Vatican Insider.

He noted that, just like with John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI “has closely followed the steps that has led to today's decree.”

Paul VI was the one who named Pope Benedict a cardinal, which allowed to participate in choosing a pope in two conclaves held in 1978.

The late pontiff, born Giovanni Battista Montini, was the son of a middle class lawyer, who was also a politician and journalist.

He was ordained a priest aged 22 and served as pope from 1963 to 1978, and ended the Second Vatican Council after his predecessor, pope John XXIII, had initiated it one year earlier.

He was the last pope to be crowned after he dissolved many of the Church's old traditions.

Paul VI also concluded the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the largest revision of the Church's Liturgy and the first major revision since the Council of Trent, held 400 years earlier.

He published the controversial encyclical “Humanae Vitae” in 1968 which reaffirmed the Church's stance against contraception, as well as firm affirmation of the merits of priestly celibacy.

According to Vatican journalist Tornielli, the congregation will investigate an alleged miraculous healing of a then unborn child took place 16 years ago in California.

Doctors told the pregnant mother to abort after finding a serious problem in the fetus, which normally results in brain damage.

But she entrusted her pregnancy to Paul VI and the baby, now around 15 years old, was born without problems.

The congregation may also investigate an alleged miracle after a nun with a tumor was suddenly cured.

The Church has three main steps in making a deceased person a saint, with the first providing proof that the person had “heroic virtue.”

This means the person has practiced outstanding faith, hope and charity as well as extraordinary virtuous actions with readiness over a period of time. The person who the Church declares to have had heroic virtue is given the title “Venerable,” and is also called a “Servant of God.”

The second step is “beatification,” which means the Church recognizes the person is in heaven after a miracle is proven titling them “Blessed.”

And the final step is “canonization,” where the Pope himself officially proclaims the person a saint.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Pope Benedict: Children of a God Who is close

The following comes from the Vatican news site:

Advent is a time of joy because in this season expectation of the Lord's coming  is wakened in the hearts of believers. His presence among men and women shows a close God “who is with us in the Church”. Benedict XVI explained this to the faithful of the Roman Parish of San Patrizio a Colle Prenestino, to which he made a Pastoral Visit on Sunday morning 16 December. The Holy Father celebrated the Mass of the Third Sunday of Advent and afterwards returned to the Vatican for the recitation of the Angelus.
The Marian prayer was also marked by the festive Christmas atmosphere of “Gaudete” Sunday, but the Holy Father did not omit to express his “closeness in prayer” to the families of the victims of the violence perpetrated in the elementary school in the United States of America. “I was deeply saddened”, he said, “by Friday’s senseless violence in Newtown, Connecticut”, and he expressed this hope: “let us dedicate ourselves more fervently to prayer and to acts of peace”, to combat the spread of  tragedies like this one.

Among those who listened to his moved words, were also 5,000 children from the Centro Oratori Romani [Roman centre of after school recreation and prayer centres] who had come to St Peter's Square for the traditional blessing of their Baby Jesus figurines to put in their cribs at home. The Pope encouraged them as he did with the Polish faithful of the “Christmas Charity for Children”, expressing the hope that their charitable and ecumenical project would bring joy to the hearts of many little ones.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fr. Robert Barron: The Tale of Two Emperors

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Want To Live Like That by Sidewalk Prophets

SNL: Silent Night

Pope Benedict Offers Prayers for Victims of Conn. Shooting

Hat tip to the Gateway Pundit:
Pope Benedict Offers Prayers for Victims of Sandy Hook Elementary School Shootings–
“May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain.”

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Need A Miracle by Third Day

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cherokee Story

This is a fantastic story for the season of Advent:
A grandfather was teaching his grandchildren about life. “Inside of me there is a terrible fight going on, it is a fight between two wolves. A good and a bad wolf. The bad wolf is fear, anger, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, lust, resentment, self-pity, lies, deceit. The good wolf is joy, peace, patience, love, hope, forgiveness, compassion, friendship, truth. The same fight is going on inside you, inside every person." The children thought about this for awhile. Then one said: “Which wolf wins the battle.” The old man said: “The one you feed.” Each of us has to ask ourselves the question... Which wolf am I feeding? Let's pray for one another these days of Advent that we might continue to grow in holiness by feeding the good wolf!

Vatican II-The Greatest Meeting of All Time: A Commentary by Fr. Barron

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Pope Benedict: Remember God's Faithfulness

The following comes from

In this Year of Faith, Benedict XVI is encouraging Catholics to nourish their faith by discovering the fidelity of God, and savoring the "memory" of his action in human history.
In today's general audience held in Paul VI Hall, the Pope continued with his reflections on God's revelation. 
"Faith," he said, "is nourished by the discovery and the memory of the God who is always faithful, who guides history and is the secure and stable foundation on which to build one's life."
The Holy Father spoke of God's revelation in history as entering into a "loving dialogue with man," a divine plan that "gives a new meaning to the whole human journey."
He reiterated his call to delve into Scripture during this Year of Faith, since the Bible is "the best place to discover the events of this journey."
"Reading the Old Testament, we see how God's interventions in the history of the people that he has chosen for himself and with whom he makes a covenant are not facts that pass and fall into oblivion, but become 'memory,'" the Pontiff reflected. "Together they constitute the 'history of salvation,' kept alive in the consciousness of the people of Israel through the celebration of the saving events."
Of course, the Old Testament is fulfilled in Christ, the "culmination of God's history with humanity," the Pope said.
The Old and New Testaments witness to the stages of God's "great plan of love," he continued, "a single plan of salvation addressed to all humanity, progressively revealed and realized by the power of God."
Benedict XVI concluded by suggesting that this liturgical season of Advent is a particularly fruitful time to reflect on God's action in history and plan for salvation.
"As we all know, the word 'advent' means 'coming,' 'presence,' and originally meant specifically the arrival of the king or emperor to a particular province," he explained. "For us Christians it means a wonderful and overwhelming reality: God himself has crossed his Heavens and stooped down to man; he has forged an alliance with him entering into the history of a people; he is the king who descended into this poor province that is Earth, and has made a gift to us of his visitation by taking on our flesh, becoming man like us."
"Advent," the Pope said, "invites us to follow the path of this presence and reminds us again and again that God has not withdrawn from the world, he is not absent, he has not abandoned us to ourselves, but comes to us in different ways, which we need to learn to discern. And we, too, with our faith, our hope and our charity, are called every day to see and bear witness to this presence, in a world often superficial and distracted, to make shine in our lives the light that illuminated the cave of Bethlehem."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

History of Our Lady of Guadalupe: New Evangelization

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

LA GUADALUPANA and The New Evangelization

The following comes from

On the first full day of an international congress on "Ecclesia in America," Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus, offered reflections in light of the message given by Our Lady of Guadalupe to St. Juan Diego.
The three-day conference under way in the Vatican is to reflect on themes brought up in the synod on the Americas, which was convened 15 years ago by Blessed Pope John Paul II.
Calling to mind the Virgin Mary in her title as Empress of the Americas, Anderson noted: On Dec. 12, 1531, "the last day of the apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe, when St. Juan Diego took a different path in order to find a priest for his dying uncle, Our Lady met him on his detour and posed these questions: 'My youngest son, what is going on? Where are you going? Where are you headed?'"
"Today, during this Congress, we ask the very same questions: What is going on? Where are we going? Where are we headed?"
The supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus went on to say that just as it was during the 16th century in Mexico, today there is a clash of civilizations that has increased over time due to globalization.
"Juan Diego spoke of the plague killing his uncle. We confront another illness -- one just as deadly. And like Juan Diego, it is the care for the human family which brings us here today. Her intervention can come none too soon. The wisdom of Ecclesia in America is apparent," he said.
A blueprint
Anderson applauded the apostolic exhortation's view of the American continent as various countries, but a single entity with a clear vision of a "humanity encountering Christ." Calling the exhortation a "blueprint for the New Evangelization," Anderson stated that "it presents a vision of an 'enculturated' evangelization, in which our diversity is sanctified and purified in its communion in the Church by orienting us toward Christ and therefore to our brethren as well."
"Five centuries ago, our hemisphere was given the perfect example of an enculturated evangelization when Mary appeared to Saint Juan Diego. Her message of reconciliation, unity and love brought forth the great evangelization of an entire hemisphere. By her very presence, Our Lady of Guadalupe became the first and great model of Christian unity presented to all peoples and rising above national and ethnic partisanship," he said.
Anderson also drew a comparison between the time that the apparitions of Guadalupe and today's day , where there is an expectation of war.
"Do we not see in our contemporary culture, a culture which in the words of Evangelium Vitae, 'it is possible to speak in a certain sense of a war of the powerful against the weak?'  Do we not also see with Blessed John Paul II 'a structure of sin' in a culture that concludes that 'a life which would require greater acceptance, love and care is considered useless, or held to be an intolerable burden, and is therefore rejected in one way or another?'" he asked.
Anderson said that this type of war brought about a culture of death which was explained by Blessed Pope John Paul II during his papacy. "The encounter with this culture is fundamental to the new evangelization and it is fundamental to the future of the Christianity in our hemisphere," Anderson said.
Charity and laity
The head of the Knights of Columbus went on to speak on the role of Our Lady of Guadalupe as a model for all Christians and the role that charity and the laity play in the new evangelization in the Americas.
Concluding his address, Anderson told the participants of the international congress that it is crucial for the Church in North, Central and South America to "take the opportunity to find cultural unity through a shared religious identity and value system."
"In a cultural context where the Church is seen as preaching from “outside” the culture, the witness of the laity and of all Christians inside the culture is critical. This was the witness of the first Christians that sparked an interest in Christianity in this very city in what we might call the first wave of evangelization. This is the model that converted the entire American continent. And this is the model for the New Evangelization as well, not only in America, but throughout the world," Anderson concluded.

Give Me Your Eyes by Brandon Heath

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lead Me by Sanctus Real

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Keep Your Eyes Open by Needtobreathe

Pope Benedict: Preparing the way for Emmanuel

The following comes from the Vatican Radio Site:

Thousands of pilgrims wrapped in scarves and hats withstood a gelid northerly wind that swept St Peter’s Square Sunday to pray the midday Angelus prayer with Pope Benedict XVI, who urged them to prepare their hearts and lives for the coming of the Lord. Emer McCarthy reports Listen: RealAudioMP3 

On the second Sunday of Advent the Pope dwelt on the figure of John the Baptist, presented in Luke’s Gospel. He spoke of him as ‘the voice’ crying out in the desert of today’s consumerist society, “where we seek joy in things”. Instead the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced as an outward celebration, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to people.

“Our aim today” he continued “is to listen to that voice, to give space and welcome Jesus, the Word that saves us, to our hearts”. 

In comments in French Pope Benedict said “Advent invites us to go out to meet the Lord, and therefore we set off on a journey. This reality is very familiar to people forced to leave their region, for various reasons, including war or poverty. Migrants are aware of the precarious nature of their situation and often encounter little understanding. May they be welcomed and have a dignified life! In preparation for Christmas time, may a joyous and fraternal solidarity come to aid their needs and support their hopes! Do not forget that every Christian is en route to his or her true home: Heaven. Christ is the only way!”

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s Angelus reflections

Dear brothers and sisters!
In the season of Advent, the liturgy particularly emphasizes two figures who prepare the coming of the Messiah, the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Today St. Luke presents us with the latter, and does so with characteristics that differ from the other Evangelists. "All four Gospels place the figure of John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, as his precursor. St. Luke has further moved the connection between the two figures and their respective missions ... Already in their conception and birth, Jesus and John are brought into relation with each other "(The Infancy of Jesus, 23). This setting helps to understand that John, as the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, both of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and therefore prepares men to spiritual worship of the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus (cf. ibid. 27-28). Luke also dispels a mythical reading that is often made of the Gospels and historically contextualizes the life of John the Baptist: "In the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor ... during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas" (Lk 3, 1-2). Within this historical framework lies the true great event, the birth of Christ, which his contemporaries will not even notice. By God the great men of history form the backdrop to small! 
John the Baptist is defined as the "voice of one crying in the desert: Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths" (Lk 3:4). The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God, as it comes down to John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness (cf. Lk 3:2). Thus he plays an important role, but always in relation to Christ. St. Augustine says: "John is the voice. Instead of the Lord says: "In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1). John is the voice that passes away, Christ is the eternal Word who was in the beginning. If you take the word away from the voice, what is left? A faint sound. The voice without the word strikes the hearing, but does not build up the heart"(Sermon 293, 3). Our aim today is to listen to that voice, to give space and welcome Jesus, the Word that saves us, to our hearts. In this time of Advent, let us prepare to see, with the eyes of faith, God's salvation in the humble stable in Bethlehem (cf. Lk 3:6). In a consumerist society, where we seek joy in things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is not only experienced as an outward party, but as the feast of the Son of God who came to bring peace, life and true joy to people.
We entrust our journey towards the Lord to the maternal intercession of Mary, Virgin of Advent, so we may be ready to welcome, into our hearts and life, Emmanuel, God-with-us.
I would now like to offer a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist reminds us of the need for repentance and purification as we prepare a way for the Lord and await in hope his coming in glory. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Les Misérables - Extended First Look

Alfred Hitchcock's Surprise Ending

The following is from todays Wall Street Journal. 

I remember as a young boy watching the black-and-white "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" on TV and being enthralled from the start by the simple nine-stroke line-drawing caricature of the famed movie director's rotund profile. The mischievous theme music set the mood as Hitchcock appeared in silhouette from the right edge of the screen, and then walked into the center replacing the caricature. "Good evening." There followed his droll introductions, so unlike anything else on television.

Such childhood emotions came over me again when in early 1980 I entered his home in Bel Air to see him dozing in a chair in a corner of his living room, dressed in jet-black pajamas.

At the time, I was a graduate student in philosophy at UCLA, and I was (and remain) a Jesuit priest. A fellow priest, Tom Sullivan, who knew Hitchcock, said one Thursday that the next day he was going over to hear Hitchcock's confession. Tom asked whether on Saturday afternoon I would accompany him to celebrate a Mass in Hitchcock's house.

I was dumbfounded, but of course said yes. On that Saturday, when we found Hitchcock asleep in the living room, Tom gently shook him. Hitchcock awoke, looked up and kissed Tom's hand, thanking him.

Tom said, "Hitch, this is Mark Henninger, a young priest from Cleveland."
"Cleveland?" Hitchcock said. "Disgraceful!"

After we chatted for a while, we all crossed from the living room through a breezeway to his study, and there, with his wife, Alma, we celebrated a quiet Mass. Across from me were the bound volumes of his movie scripts, "The Birds," "Psycho," "North by Northwest" and others—a great distraction.
Hitchcock had been away from the church for some time, and he answered the responses in Latin the old way. But the most remarkable sight was that after receiving communion, he silently cried, tears rolling down his huge cheeks.

Portrait of Alfred Hitchcock holding up a clapperboard on the set of the film Psycho.
Tom and I returned a number of times, always on Saturday afternoons, sometimes together, but I remember once going by myself. I'm somewhat tongue-tied around famous people and found it a bit awkward to chitchat with Alfred Hitchcock, but we did, enjoyably, in his living room. At one point he said, "Let's have Mass."

He was 81 years old and had difficulty moving, so I helped him get up and assisted him across the breezeway. As we slowly walked, I felt I had to say something to break the silence, and the best I could come up with was, "Well, Mr. Hitchcock, have you seen any good movies lately?" He paused and said emphatically, "No, I haven't. When I made movies they were about people, not robots. Robots are boring. Come on, let's have Mass." He died soon after these visits, and his funeral Mass was at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Beverly Hills.

Alfred Hitchcock has returned to the news lately, thanks to an apparently unflattering portrait of him in a new Hollywood production. Some of his biographers have not been kind, either. Religion, too, is much in the news, also often presented in an unflattering light, because clashing beliefs are at issue in wars and terrorism. The violence provokes some people to reject religion altogether. For many who experience religion only in this way—at second hand, in the media, from afar—such a reaction is to a degree understandable.

What they miss is that religion is an intensely personal affair. St. Augustine wrote: "Magnum mysterium mihi"—I am a great mystery to myself. Why exactly Hitchcock asked Tom Sullivan to visit him is not clear to us and perhaps was not completely clear to him. But something whispered in his heart, and the visits answered a profound human desire, a real human need. Who of us is without such needs and desires?

Some people find these late-in-life turns to religion suspect, a sign of weakness or of one's "losing it." But nothing focuses the mind as much as death. There is a long tradition going back to ancient times of memento mori, remember death. Why? I suspect that in facing death one may at last see soberly, whether clearly or not, truths missed for years, what is finally worth one's attention.

Weighing one's life with its share of wounds suffered and inflicted in such a perspective, and seeking reconciliation with an experienced and forgiving God, strikes me as profoundly human. Hitchcock's extraordinary reaction to receiving communion was the face of real humanity and religion, far away from headlines . . . or today's filmmakers and biographers.

One of Hitchcock's biographers, Donald Spoto, has written that Hitchcock let it be known that he "rejected suggestions that he allow a priest . . . to come for a visit, or celebrate a quiet, informal ritual at the house for his comfort." That in the movie director's final days he deliberately and successfully led outsiders to believe precisely the opposite of what happened is pure Hitchcock.

Fr. Henninger is a Jesuit priest and professor of philosophy at Georgetown University.

Vatican office to launch Pope smartphone app

The following comes from the CNA:

The president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, announced that his office is designing a new app on Pope Benedict for smartphones.

Called “The Pope,” the new app for iPhones and iPads will be sent to Apple for approval next week, said Gustavo Entrala of the Spanish communications firm 101.  

The app will allow users to follow the Pope's speeches and homilies live and to see what is happening at the Vatican, Castelgandolfo and the pontiff's getaway spots outside Rome, thanks to a series of webcams.

It will be available free of charge at Apple's app store by the end of the year. A version for Android is also currently being designed.

Users will also be able to receive notifications about the Pope's activities and link up with various Vatican entities, such as Vatican Radio and the news

Killing The Least Among Us

The following comes from the Aggie Catholic site:

Servant of God, Jérôme Lejeune, was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th Century. He discovered Trisomy 21, the cause of Down Syndrome, and received many honors during his life. But, he was an even greater human being who was named a "Servant of God". The cause for his canonization is ongoing.

He was also an outspoken advocate of the dignity of all life, especially those who had abnormal genetic issues. As the American tendency of doctors to kill sick children started to spread to Europe, he said:

“They brandish chromosomal racism like the flag of freedom…. That this rejection of medicine—of the whole biological brotherhood that binds the human family—should be the only practical application of our knowledge of Trisomy 21 is beyond heartbreaking….”
If a child in the womb is diagnosed with Down Syndrome, it is aborted in 90% of cases. We need prayers. Servant of God, Jérôme Lejeune, pray for us! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

I Need A Miracle by Third Day

Cardinal Dolan: The Annual Advent Argument

The following comes from Cardinal Dolan:

A blessed Advent!

I discussed it with folks visiting me over the weekend, right after Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral for the First Sunday of Advent.

It’s the yearly debate about Advent, and it goes something like this: The first person began, “Why do we start to celebrate Christmas so early?  The decorations are up in early November; the carols begin before Thanksgiving; the tree goes up now . . . no wonder we’re sick of Christmas by December 26th!”

Another will chime-in, “Yeah, remember fifty years ago when we were kids?  The tree would not go up until Christmas Eve; carols would never be heard till real close to Christmas; there were some added days of fast and abstinence during Advent; even Christmas Eve was a day of penance!  Wasn’t that better?  We so looked forward to Christmas because we waited!”

But – - as the Annual Advent Argument continues – - the next person observed, “But, there’s nothing we can do about it!  Society begins the Christmas season on Thanksgiving, and ends it on December 25; the Church starts preparing for Christmas during Advent – - purple vestments, advent wreathes, no carols or decorations in church – - then begins the Christmas season with Mass on Christmas Eve, and ends it on theEpiphany  (the Sunday after New Year’s).  The Church is out of it and will just have to change.”

What to do?  Well, we can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, as much as we might be nostalgic for a very serious Advent.  So, on the one hand, I guess we’ll have to make some peace with our culture’s way-too-early celebration of Christmas.

But we can hardly forget about Advent altogether! Spiritually, it’s part of our Catholic birthright; and, even from a human point of view, we’ll enjoy Christmas a lot more if we wait . . . as the old saying goes, “pleasure delayed is pleasure enjoyed.”

For instance, just last Thursday, I enjoyed an evening at St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Seminary in Crestwood.  It was a magnificent Evening Prayer, followed by the seminary Thanksgiving Dinner (a week after the feast itself, since the community had been at home for their own family Thanksgiving.)  Great, I thought:  we’ll have turkey, dressing, gravy, pumpkin pie . . . bring it on!  But, we get to the table for a very delicious meal, and no meat!
“We’ve begun our forty day Advent fasting to prepare for Christmas, and we Orthodox abstain from meat,” my host explained.

They haven’t “lost” Advent. Neither should we!

So, here are a few ideas I might propose to preserve at least some seriousness about Advent:
–last night I was at our seminary for Advent Lessons and Carols.  It was splendid!

For a little over an hour, we had readings from the Bible about all the preparations for and prophesies of the coming of the Messiah, with the classical Advent hymns, and even one or two actual Christmas carols at the end to remind us of our goal.  It was a real concentration on the waiting of the People of Israel for the Messiah, a genuine Advent experience;

–Let’s take the two magnificent Advent feasts of Our Lady – - December 8, the Immaculate Conception, and December 12, Our Lady of Guadalupe, – - very attentively;

–don’t forget the advent wreath, the advent calendar, and the Jesse Tree;      

– okay, if you have to, put the tree-up now, but maybe only gradually decorate it, a few more ornaments each day, for instance, so it’s not in “full bloom” until December 24.  I was at Holy Trinity Parish at West Point Saturday, for example, and the trees were already up, but not decorated so there was a sense of expectation; or, even at St. Patrick’s Cathedral the crib is already up – - since thousands visit daily – - but the manger is dramatically empty, with the baby Jesus not arriving until Christmas.  While the visitors admire the crib scene, they realize someone is missing – - Jesus! – - and are reminded what Advent is all about;

–How about fasting from meat on the Fridays of Advent, like we do in Lent?

–A good, sincere confession before Christmas!  (Our Advent Reconciliation Monday, with confessors available for four hours in every parish, is December 17  this year);

–Pay attention to the daily Mass readings for Advent, preferably, of course, at Mass itself; but, even if you can’t attend, get a missalette and meditate on the Readings from the Bible;

–Acts of charity for the poor;

–And, finally, let’s look on the bright side; okay, we admit that society – - including ourselves – - start celebrating Christmas way too soon, usually forgetting about Advent preparation.  But, at least we can thank God that such noble sentiments abound this time of the year:  friendship, generosity, family unity, rallying for the poor and hungry, attention to babies and children, gift-giving, happy memories, goodwill.  I’ll take that anytime of the year!

However, wherever, whenever you do it . . . please do Advent!  It’s too significant to forget!  Christmas will be a lot happier if we prepare and wait . . .

Again, a blessed Advent!