Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Glorious by Paul Baloche

Phil Robertson is "Happy, happy, happy!"

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson: “Happy, Happy, Happy” from christianitydotcom on GodTube.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Because He Lives by David Crowder Band

Archbishop Chaput: The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for the brave; not the complacent, and not cowards

The following comes from the CNA:

Violence and grief in the Boston area have rightly dominated our news media for the past week. The latest terrorist bloodshed is not at all senseless. It’s the work of calculated malice. Innocent people, including children, have paid the price for other people’s hatred. Our most important task right now is to pray for the victims and their families.

God exists, and God can heal even the worst suffering, despite every human attempt to ignore him and every terrible sin that seems to “disprove” his presence. And yet it’s fair to ask: How can a good God allow this kind of evil to happen?

The answer is both simple and hard. There’s nothing soft-focus or saccharine about real Christianity. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for the brave; not the complacent, and not cowards. The world and its beauty give glory to God; but we live in it with divided hearts, and so the world is also a field of conflict. God’s son died on a cross and rose from the dead to deliver us from our sins. He didn’t take away our freedom to choose evil. Until this world ends, some people will do vile and inhuman things to others.

The irony of human dignity is that it requires our freedom. It depends on our free will. We own our actions. And free persons can freely choose to do wicked things. Spend an hour browsing through Scripture: It’s the story of a struggle between good and evil that cuts bloodily through every generation in history. And the story is made bearable, and given meaning, only by the fidelity of God – the constancy of his justice, his mercy, his solace, his love.

Within hours of the Boston bombings, public officials were telling the nation that terrorists would not be allowed to destroy “our way of life.” It’s the duty of leaders – an important duty – to reassure and strengthen their people in times of tragedy. Our country has a vast reservoir of goodness built up by generations of good people. America’s best ideals are well worth fighting for. But we also need to remember that our way of life is as mortal as every other great power; and sooner or later, America will be a footnote in history. Only God is forever.

In the coming weeks, in the wake of the Boston tragedy, we’d do well to ponder what “our way of life” is beginning to mean. No one deserved to die in Boston. Terrorism isn’t washed clean by claims of psychological instability or U.S. policy sins abroad. And no one should be eager to see in the carnage of innocent spectators God’s judgment on a morally confused culture here at home.

And yet, something is wrong with our way of life, and millions of people can feel it; something selfish, cynical, empty and mean. Something that acts like a magnet to the worst impulses of the human heart. We’re no longer the nation of our founders, or even of our parents. Some of their greatness has been lost.

The character of our way of life depends on the character of my way life, multiplied by the tens of millions. We shouldn’t waste time being shocked or baffled by the evil in the world. It has familiar roots. It begins in the little crevices of each human heart – especially our own.

In the days ahead we need to pray for the dead and wounded in Boston, and their families. And then, with the help of God, we need to begin to change ourselves. That kind of conversion might seem like a small thing, an easy thing – until we try it. Then we understand why history turns on the witness of individual lives.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Washed By The Water by NEEDTOBREATHE

Dr. Peter Kreeft: God or Atheism -- Which Is More Rational?

Archbishop Chaput: "America is mission territory—whether we recognize it yet or not..."

The following comes from the Catholic World Report:

The following is an excerpt from the Foreword to Russell Shaw's book, American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America, written by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M.Cap., of Philadelphia:

What people really believe, they act on. And when they don’t act, they don’t really believe. For all of us as American Catholics, this issue of faith is the heart of the matter. Real faith changes us. It hammers us into a new and different Rshaw_americanchurch_lgshape. We too often confuse faith with theology or ethics or pious practice or compassionate feelings, all of which are important—vitally important. But real faith forces us to face the deeply unsettling command given to each of us in the First Letter of Peter: “As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct” (1:15).

Holiness means being in the world but not of it. It means being different fromand other than the ways of our time and place, and being conformed to the ways of God, as Isaiah says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Is 55:8, 9).

To the degree Catholics have longed to join the mainstream of American life, to become like everyone else, to accommodate and grow comfortable and assimilate, rather than be “other than” and holy, we’ve abandoned who we really are. Clergy and religious face this temptation just as vividly as laypersons. Like the Jews in the days of Jeremiah, too many American Catholics have too often forgotten the covenant. We’ve “burned incense to other gods, and worshiped the works of [our] own hands” (Jer 1:16). We’ve ignored the final command Christ gave to all of us when he said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” He was speaking to each of us, right here and right now. Catholics are a missionary people led and served by a missionary priesthood.

So I think this, then, is the lesson of the last fifty years for all of us. We need to return to Christ’s call to “repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). We need a Church rooted in holiness. We need parishes on fire with faith. And we will get them only when we ourselves fundamentally change; when we center our lives in God; when we seek to become holy ourselves.

Throughout his long ministry, Blessed Pope John Paul II urged Catholics again and again to take up the task of a “new evangelization” of the world. Seeking an armistice with the spirit of the world, both outside us and within us, is an illusion. The Church in the United States faces an absolutely new and absolutely real kind of mission territory every day now, filled with intractable pastoral challenges. We’re a nation of wealth, sophisticated media, and excellent universities. We’re also a nation of aborted children, the unemployed, migrant workers, undocumented immigrants, the homeless, and the poor.

We live in a nation of great material success and scientific self-assurance but also a nation where the inner life is withering away, where private spiritualities replace communities of real faith, and where loneliness is now the daily routine of millions of people.

America is mission territory—whether we recognize it yet or not; whether we live in New York or Atlanta or Phoenix—and we need a new Pentecost. We need to be people who are men and women of prayer, people of courage, people of service, men and women anchored in the sacramental life of the Church. …

Russell Shaw has lived his own life of Christian witness with uncommon integrity, humility, and keen intelligence. His skill animates every page of [The American Church]. He has captured the story of the Church in the United States with honesty and love, and it’s a privilege to call him my friend.

Visit the Ignatius Press website to learn more about the book.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Pope Francis: life is 'journey of preparation' for heaven

The following comes from the CNA:

“The whole journey of life is a journey of preparation” for heaven, Pope Francis said during his homily at Friday morning Mass.

The Pope reflected on the Gospel passage from St. John for today in which Jesus tells the disciples not to be afraid or troubled because he goes to prepare a place in the Father’s house for them.

“Prepare a place means preparing our ability to enjoy the chance, our chance, to see, to feel, to understand the beauty of what lies ahead, of that homeland towards which we walk,” he remarked.

Members of the Vatican Typography office attended the Eucharistic celebration on April 26, alongside the Vatican Labor Office and Vatican State Police inside St. Martha’s House chapel.

The Pope noted that Jesus talks “like a friend, even with the attitude of a pastor.”

“Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me,” says Jesus, according to today’s Gospel.

“In my Father’s house there are many rooms, if it were not so would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” Christ asked the disciples.

The Pope called these “really beautiful words” and asked the congregation what they thought that “place” was like.

“What does prepare a place mean, does it mean renting a room up there?” he asked.

He explained that life is a journey of preparation that involves expanding our eyes, minds and hearts.

It means “beginning to greet him from afar. This is not alienation: this is the truth, this is allowing Jesus to prepare our hearts, our eyes for the beauty that is so great. It is the path of beauty and ‘the path to the homeland,’” he preached.

But sometimes “the Lord has to do it quickly as he did with the good thief.”

“He only had a few minutes to prepare him and he did it,” he affirmed.

“But Father,” the Pope said recounting a common objection, “I went to a philosopher and he told me that all these thoughts are an alienation, that we are alienated, that life is this, the concrete, and no-one knows what is beyond.”

“Some think this is so but Jesus tells us that it is not so and says ‘have faith in me,’” the Pope stated.

He compared Jesus to an engineer and an architect when he recalled Jesus saying he would prepare a place in his Father’s house.

“And Jesus goes to prepare a place for us,” he concluded.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Gospel Choir of Britain's Got Talent

Simon Cowell Made Fun of This Gospel Singer And Then Was Blown Away from believe836 on GodTube.

Pope Francis: Let's not be 'sleeping Christians'

(Via Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday called on Christians to await the coming of the Lord with trust and joy.

Speaking to crowds of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the Wednesday General Audience, the Pope continued his catechesis on the Creed and reflected on three Gospel texts that – he said – help us to understand the mystery of the Last Judgment and the second coming of the Lord.

“Just as human history began with the creation of man and woman in the image of God” – the Pope explained - “so it will end with Christ’s return and the final judgment”. 

The parables Pope Francis chose to examine are the parable of the wise and foolish virgins that, he said, reminds us that we must be spiritually prepared to meet the Lord when he comes; the parable of the talents, that emphasizes our responsibility to use wisely God’s gifts, making them bear abundant fruit, and here he said: “ I would ask the many young people present to be generous with their God-given talents for the good of others, the Church and our world”; and finally, the parable of the final judgment that “reminds us that, in the end, we will be judged on our love for others and especially for those in need”. 

Pope Francis said that through these parables, our Lord teaches us to await his coming not with fear but with confident trust, ever watchful for the signs of his presence and faithful in prayer and works of charity, so that when he comes he will find us his good and faithful servants.

42: A Review by George Weigel

The following comes from George Weigel:

Baseball and movies don’t often play well together. William Bendix as a Marine who dies happy in “Guadalcanal Diary” because he’s just heard that the Dodgers have won is an icon of 1940s Americana; the same William Bendix as the Bambino in “The Babe Ruth Story” is a sad business, to be consigned to the (bad) memory bank. “The Natural” and “Bull Durham” have their moments, but when push comes to shove, they’re both, finally, about something other than baseball. “61*,” Billy Crystal’s made-for-HBO flick about Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and the chase for Ruth’s single-season home-run is a terrific story of male friendship (and gave this lifelong Yankees-deplorer a soft spot for the 1961 Bronx Bombers); but computer-graphic reconstructions of old ballparks being what they were when it was made in 2001—i.e., not that persuasive—“61*” just misses being a great baseball movie.

Now comes “42,” the long-awaited cinematic telling of the Jackie Robinson story, which I recently saw on a snowy April Sunday afternoon in the Twin Cities. I wouldn’t call it a great movie (like, for example, “The King’s Speech”); but it’s a very, very good movie, and an entirely plausible challenger to “61*” as the best baseball movie ever made. Chadwick Boseman captures some of the fierce intensity, and a lot of the raw courage, of the man who broke baseball’s color line. It wasn’t easy to imagine Han Solo, Indiana Jones, or President James Marshall (“Air Force One”) as Branch Rickey, the cigar-chomping, ultra-Methodist general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers whose Christian decency and shrewd business sense led him to take on the entire baseball establishment by signing Jackie Robinson; but Harrison Ford pulls off that role with aplomb. Kudos, too, to Nicole Beharie for capturing the steely grace, beauty and guts of Rachel Robinson, Jackie’s wife, who put up with all the racism that her husband endured and who, with him, embodied for millions of Americans the meaning of the civil rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome.”

Columnist George F. Will once wrote that Jackie Robinson was second—a “very close second”—to Martin Luther King Jr. in the pantheon of African Americans who reversed a nation’s racial attitudes and helped create what is, today, the most racially egalitarian society in history. “42” is a useful reminder of just how much those men, and others, had to overcome: Robinson’s teammates are, to put it gently, unenthusiastic about his presence among them; the Phillies’ race-baiting manager, Ben Chapman, mercilessly harasses Number 42 when he comes up to the plate; the Cardinals’ Enos Slaughter deliberately spikes Robinson on a routine play at first base; Pirates’ pitcher Fritz Ostermueller throws a killer pitch that smashes into Robinson’s temple (in the days before batting helmets); potty-mouthed fans remind us just how foul American racial epithets could be—and how children were taught to imitate the sins of their parents.

And through it all, Jackie Robinson, in that first, crucial season, stuck to the promise he had made Branch Rickey: he would have the courage not to fight back, save in playing some of the most electrifying baseball ever seen, especially on the basepaths.

Branch Rickey was dubbed “the Mahatma” by a Brooklyn sportswriter who thought the Dodger g.m.’s style akin to that of Mohandas K. Ghandi, whom John Gunther once described as “an incredible combination of Jesus Christ, Tammany Hall and your father.”  And to the credit of screenwriter Brian Helgeland, “42” doesn’t gloss over Rickey’s Christian faith, or Jackie Robinson’s, and the role that Christian conviction played in forging their relationship and their ultimate victory. Still, when the packed crowd in that Minneapolis theatre burst into applause at the end of the movie a few weeks ago, I didn’t read it as an endorsement of Methodist theology or piety.

Rather, it seemed to me welcome evidence that, amidst vast cultural and political confusions, Americans still believe in moral truths, moral absolutes, and moral courage—and yearn for opportunities to celebrate them. There’s an important lesson in that for the country’s religious and political leaders.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen: Priest, Religious & Martyr

The following comes from the Women of Faith and Family site:

St. Fidelis was born in 1577, at Sigmaringen, Prussia.

He was ordained a priest in 1612, and immediately afterwards was received into the Order of Friars Minor of the Capuchin Reform at Freiburg, taking the name of Fidelis. He has left an interesting memorial of his novitiate and of his spiritual development at that time in a book of spiritual exercises which he wrote for himself. This work was re-edited by Father Michael Hetzenauer, O.F.M. Cap., and republished in 1893 at Stuttgart under the title: "S. Fidelis a Sigmaringen exercitia seraphicae devotionis".

From the beginning of his apostolic career he was untiring in his efforts to convert heretics nor did he confine his efforts in this direction to the pulpit, but also used his pen. He wrote many pamphlets against Calvinism and Zwinglianism though he would never put his name to his writings. Unfortunately these publications have long been lost. Fidelis was still guardian of the community at Feldkirch when in 1621 he was appointed to undertake a mission in the country of the Grisons with the purpose of bringing back that district to the Catholic Faith. The people there had almost all gone over to Calvinism, owing partly to the ignorance of the priests and their lack of zeal. In 1614 the Bishop of Coire had requested the Capuchins to undertake missions amongst the heretics in his diocese, but it was not until 1621 that the general of the order was able to send friars there. In that year Father Ignatius of Sergamo was commissioned with several other friars to place himself at the disposal of this bishop for missionary work, and a similar commission was given to Fidelis who however still remained guardian of Feldkirche. Before setting out on this mission Fidelis was appointed by authority of the papal nuncio to reform the Benedictine monastery at Pfafers. He entered upon his new labors in the true apostolic spirit. Since he first entered the order he had constantly prayed, as he confided to a fellow-friar, for two favors: one, that he might never fall into mortal sin; the other, that he might die for the Faith. In this Spirit he now set out, ready to give his life in preaching the Faith. He took with him his crucifix, Bible, Breviary, and the book of the rule of his order; for the rest, he went in absolute poverty, trusting to Divine Providence for his daily sustenance. He arrived in Mayenfeld in time for Advent and began at once preaching and catechizing; often preaching in several places the same day. His coming aroused strong opposition and he was frequently threatened and insulted. He not only preached in the Catholic churches and in the public streets, but occasionally in the conventicles of the heretics. At Zizers one of the principal centers of his activity, he held conferences with the magistrates and chief townsmen, often far into the night. They resulted in the conversion of Rudolph de Salis, the most influential man in the town, whose public recantation was followed by many conversions.

Through the winter Fidelis labored indefatigably and with such success that the heretic preachers were seriously alarmed and set themselves to inflame the people against him by representing that his mission was political rather than religious and that he was preparing the way for the subjugation of the country by the Austrians. During the Lent of 1622 he preached with special fervor. At Easter he returned to Feldkirch to attend a chapter of the order and settle some affairs of his community. By this time the Congregation of the Propaganda had been established in Rome, and Fidelis was formally constituted by the Congregation, superior of the mission in the Grisons. He had, however, a presentiment that his laborers would shortly be brought to a close by a martyr's death. Preaching a farewell sermon at Feldkirch he said as much. On re-entering the country of the Grisons he was met everywhere with the cry: "Death to the Capuchins!" On April 24, 1622, being then at Grusch, he made his confession and afterwards celebrated Mass and preached. Then he set out for Sevis. On the way his companions noticed that he was particularly cheerful. At Sevis he entered the church and began to preach, but was interrupted by a sudden tumult both within and without the church. Several Austrian soldiers who were guarding the doors of the church were killed and Fidelis himself was struck. A Calvinist present offered to lead him to a place of security. Fidelis thanked the man but said his life was in the hands of God. 0utside the church he was surrounded by a crowd led by the preachers who offered to save his life if he would apostatize. Fidelis replied: "I came to extirpate heresy, not to embrace it", whereupon he was struck down. He was the first martyr of the Congregation of Propaganda.

He was beatified in 1729, and canonized in 1745. St. Fidelis is usually represented in art with a crucifix and with a wound in the head; his emblem is a bludgeon.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Blessed Are The Ones by Audrey Assad

Pope celebrates his saint's day with cardinals: 'absurd' to look for Jesus without the Church

(Vatican Radio) “It is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church”: this was Pope Francis’ message as he marked his name day, the Feast of St. George, this Tuesday celebrating Mass in the Pauline Chapel with the Cardinals present in Rome. Emer McCarthy reports:

In his homily, the Pope thanked the cardinals for coming to concelebrate with him: "Thank you - he said - because I really feel welcomed by you". Commenting on the readings of the day, the Holy Father highlighted three aspects of the Church: Its missionary activity, born of persecution; the fact that it is a Mother Church which gifts us the faith that is our identity and that you cannot find Jesus outside of the Church; the joy of belonging to the Church bringing Jesus to others. In short the joy of being an evangelizer:

Below we publish a Vatican Radio transcript and translation of the Holy Father’s Homily for Mass with the Cardinals in the Pauline Chapel.

I thank His Eminence, the Cardinal Dean, for his words: thank you very much, Your Eminence, thank you.

I also thank all of you who wanted to come today: Thank you. Because I feel welcomed by you. Thank you. I feel good with you, and I like that.

The [first] reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread! Some, people of Cyprus and Cyrene - not these, but others who had become Christians - went to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too. It was a further step. And this is how the Church moved forward. Whose was this initiative to speak to the Greeks? This was not clear to anyone but the Jews. But ... it was the Holy Spirit, the One who prompted them ever forward ... But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became 'nervous and sent Barnabas on an "apostolic visitation": perhaps, with a little sense of humor we could say that this was the theological beginning of the Doctrine of the Faith: this apostolic visit by Barnabas. He saw, and he saw that things were going well.

And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children. It became more and more of a Mother. A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity. But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother Church. Because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church. The great Paul VI said: "Wanting to live with Jesus without the Church, following Jesus outside of the Church, loving Jesus without the Church is an absurd dichotomy." And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging. Identity means belonging. This belonging to the Church is beautiful.

And the third idea comes to my mind - the first was the explosion of missionary activity; the second, the Mother Church - and the third, that when Barnabas saw that crowd - the text says: " And a large number of people was added to the Lord" - when he saw those crowds, he experienced joy. " When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced ": his is the joy of the evangelizer. It was, as Paul VI said, "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And this joy begins with a persecution, with great sadness, and ends with joy. And so the Church goes forward, as one Saint says - I do not remember which one, here - "amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of the Lord." And thus is the life of the Church. If we want to travel a little along the road of worldliness, negotiating with the world - as did the Maccabees, who were tempted, at that time - we will never have the consolation of the Lord. And if we seek only consolation, it will be a superficial consolation, not that of the Lord: a human consolation. The Church's journey always takes place between the Cross and the Resurrection, amid the persecutions and the consolations of the Lord. And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken.

Let us think today about the missionary activity of the Church: these [people] came out of themselves to go forth. Even those who had the courage to proclaim Jesus to the Greeks, an almost scandalous thing at that time. Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church. Jesus Himself says in the Gospel: " But you do not believe, because you are not among my sheep." If we are not "sheep of Jesus," faith does not some to us. It is a rosewater faith, a faith without substance. And let us think of the consolation that Barnabas felt, which is "the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing." And let us ask the Lord for this "parresia", this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward! Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, "hierarchical and Catholic." So be it. 

Santo Subito!

The following comes from Vatican Insider (Hat tip to the Good Deacon):

"A saint now!" The canonisation of Wojtyla is getting closer quickly and it could be celebrated next October. In fact, in the past few days, the medical council of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints has recognized as inexplicable one healing attributed to the blessed John Paul II. A supposed "miracle" that, if it is also approved by theologians and the cardinals (as it is very likely), will bring the Polish Pope, who died in 2005, the halo of sainthood in record time, just eight years after his death.

It all happened in great secrecy, with maximum confidentiality. In January, the postulator of the cause, Mgr. Slawomir Oder, submitted a presumed miraculous healing to the Vatican Congregation for the Saints for a preliminary opinion. As it is known, after the approval of a miracle for the proclamation of a blessed, the canonical procedures include the recognition of a second miracle that must have occurred after the beatification ceremony.

Two doctors of the Vatican council had previously examined this new case, and both gave a favourable opinion. The dossier with the medical records and the testimonies was then officially presented to the Congregation, which immediately included the examination in its agenda. In the past few days it was discussed by a committee of seven doctors, the council (presided over by Dr. Patrick Polisca, Pope John Paul II's cardiologist), Pope Benedict XVI's personal physicians and now Pope Francis's. The medical council also gave a favourable opinion, the first official go-ahead by the Vatican, by defining as inexplicable the healing attributed to the intercession of the blessed Karol Wojtyla.

This is the overcoming of the first fundamental hurdle, given that the alleged miracle must now be approved by theologians and then by the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation, before being subjected to the Pope for the definitive "yes". In any case, the approval of the council is considered the most important step; in fact, neither the theologians nor the cardinals are involved in the clinical evaluations concerning the case.

From the steps taken, the desire of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints to work quickly is evident, as it had already happened for the beatification of Pope John Paul II, celebrated by his successor Benedict XVI the 1st of May, 2011. This fast lane that continues to be open for Wojtyla indicates that even Pope Francis is in favour of the canonisation of the Polish Pope.

It is still premature to talk about dates for the canonization, but the rapidity with which the examination of the miracle process is happening still leaves open the possibility of celebrating it on Sunday October 20th, very close to the liturgical holiday assigned to the blessed Wojtyla, which is on October 22nd.

Feast of St. George: Dragonslayer!

Today is the feast of St. George! We can sure use more men of valor like him today! Much of what follows comes from the patron saint website: He lived during the reign of the Roman Emperor Dioceletian in the 3rd century and partially into the 4th. St. George served in the legions of Rome and made a reputation for himself as a fearless officer and highly respected leader of men.

Over the years there were many legends about him so that when the crusades were launched from England, hero-worshipping crusaders returned from the Holy Land with some well exaggerated stories about their beloved St. George!

St. George resigned his commission in the Roman army rather than participate in any of the pagan rituals expected of the soldiers. He also resented the merciless persecution of the Christians, whose ranks he joined in a total committment to Jesus Christ. The fight he put up for Christianity was to prove to be his undoing, and the terrible retribution on the part of the tyrant Diocletian was all the more intense against the man whom he considered a traitor for having gone over to the side of decency.

It is certain that St. George was put through unspeakable tortures, which he bravely endured, before finally being beheaded in Nikomedia, a town in Asia Minor. His courage gave heart to the many converts for which he was responsible and his defiant spirit lingered on to inspire Christians to greater effort in behalf of the Savior, despite the great danger involved.

The Emperor Constantine, some years later, erected the Church of St. George in his memory, setting a precedent for many other churches which were to be erected in his memory in the years to come. St. George symbolizes the struggle against paganism and the never-ending combat between good and evil. In the roster of soldiers who have become Christian saints, the name of St. George leads all the rest.
To learn more about St. George check out the Patron Saints Index!

When a knight won his spurs in the stories of old
he was gentle and brave he was gallant and bold
with a shield on his arm and a lance in his hand
for God and for valour he rode through the land

No charger have I, and no sword by my side
yet still to adventure and battle I ride
though back into storyland giants have fled
and the knights are no more and the dragons are dead

Let faith be my shield and let joy be my steed
gainst the dragons of anger the ogres of greed
and let me set free with the sword of my youth
from the castle of darkness the power of the truth

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pope Francis Moving the Beatification of Archbishop Romero Forward

The following is from John Allen at NCR:

A Vatican official responsible for the sainthood cause of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador announced Sunday that the cause has been "unblocked" by Pope Francis, suggesting that beatification of the assassinated prelate could come swiftly.  

Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia spoke Sunday in the Italian city of Molfetta at a Mass honoring the 20th anniversary of the death of Bishop Antonio "Tonino" Bello, known as one of Italy's premier "peace bishops."

In addition to being the president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Paglia also serves as the postulator for Romero's sainthood cause.
The Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints has been studying the Romero case since 1996, after the church in El Salvador formally opened the procedure in 1990.
At the end of his 20-minute homily Sunday dedicated to the memory of Bello, Paglia said: "Just today, the day of the death of Don Tonino, the cause of the beatification of Monsignor Romero has been unblocked."
Through an aide, Paglia told NCR on Monday that he "confirms" the announcement made Sunday in Molfetta, and hopes to have additional details to add shortly.
Paglia had been received by Pope Francis on Saturday, and presumably the decision to authorize moving forward with the cause came out of that session.
Romero was shot to death while saying Mass in El Salvador on March 24, 1980. While he is seen as a hero to many because of his solidarity with the poor and his opposition to human rights abuses, his cause has also been viewed with suspicion in some quarters, partly because of Romero's links to the controversial liberation theology movement.
Although both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI have said publicly that Romero was a martyr for the faith, there's also been some question as to whether his death meets the classic test for martyrdom of being killed in odium fidei, meaning "in hatred of the faith," or whether the motives were more social and political.
If Romero is judged a martyr, he could be beatified without having a miracle attributed to his intercession.
Immediately after the election of Francis, there was speculation both in Rome and in El Salvador that history's first Latin American pope would generate new momentum for the beatification of Romero.
Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Salvador, said March 26 he knows Francis personally, "and I know he is absolutely convinced that Romero is a saint and a martyr."
"Everything points to his beatification being on the cards," Chavez said, "although we follow God's time frame which is not the same as ours."
In an interview with NCR shortly after Francis' election, Paglia likewise confirmed his commitment to the cause.
"Romero is an example of a pastor who gave his life for others," Paglia said at the time.
"Beyond any canonical problems in terms of whether he died directly in odium fidei, Romero continues to be a point of reference for millions and millions of people, believers and non-believers alike."

Brandon Vogt's Interview with Dr. Matthew Bunson - On Pope Francis

The following comes from Brandon Vogt: 

 As soon as the world learned that Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio had been elected pope on March 13, publishers scrambled to produce new books on his life. However, Dr. Matthew Bunson, senior correspondent for Our Sunday Visitor, was already ahead of the game. During the interregnum period between popes, he was busy writing about Pope Benedict's abdication and the forthcoming conclave. After Bergoglio was elected, Matthew quickly turned to his past research on Bergoglio, much of it coming during the 2005 conclave when Bergoglio was widely believed to be the papal runner-up. 

On April 5, after three weeks of intense work, Matthew successfully released the first original English-language biography of the new pope. Simply titled Pope Francis, the new book offers background on the Pope's upbringing, snippets from his homilies and writings, and clues to what we can expect from his pontificate. 

Matthew recently sat down with me to discuss many of these topics and to introduce the simple and humble head of the Church.

Pope Francis to Youth: Ask Jesus what he wants and be brave

.- Just after ordaining 10 men to the priesthood, Pope Francis called on young Catholics to ask Jesus “what he wants from you and be brave!”

“There are many young people today, here in the square. Let me ask this: have you sometimes heard the voice of the Lord through a desire, restlessness, inviting you to follow him more closely? Have you had any desire to be apostles of Jesus?” Pope Francis asked the crowd in St. Peter’s Square.

He urged the youth present in the square for the April 21 Regina Caeli prayers to strive for high ideals. “Ask Jesus what he wants from you and be brave!” he exclaimed.

Pope Francis also encouraged people to pray for those who are discerning their vocation and wondering what God’s will is for their lives.

“Behind and before every vocation to the priesthood or consecrated life,” he said, “there is always strong and intense prayer from someone: a grandmother, a grandfather, a mother, a father, a community ... .”

“Vocations are born in prayer and prayer, and only in prayer can they persevere and bear fruit,” he remarked.

Pope Francis made his remarks after having ordained 10 men as priests for the Diocese of Rome in St. Peter’s Basilica, a celebration that coincided with the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which was created by Pope Paul VI.

In his remarks before reciting the Regina Caeli prayer, he emphasized the importance of the day and asked for prayers for the new priests.

He finished his words by invoking the intercession of Mary, that she would “help us to know better the voice of Jesus and to follow her to walk in the way of life.”

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Pope John Paul II: Everyone has a personal vocation

The following comes from the Paths of Love:

For Pope John Paul II, vocation is fundamentally something personal that takes place between a person and God. Yet there is still a certain "objectivity" to vocation; for being a human person means being oriented to the truth, and truth is objective.

In the first place, then, a vocation is that which God uses to direct each and every one uf us to his task in life. "Jesus has a specific task in life for each and every one of us. Each one of us is hand-picked, called by name by Jesus! There is no one among us who does not have a divine vocation!"  Some are called audibly by God, but the usual kind of call is internal, through the inner working of the Spirit. "What is a vocation? It is an interior call of grace, which falls into the soul like a seed, to mature within it."

We cannot give an everywhere valid account of how a vocation takes place, since "apart from the universal elements that are found in every vocation, each call takes place concretely in ways that are always new and always different—and let us add, always beautiful and wonderful, because God is always wonderful in all that he does." But we can give a general picture, as the Pope does in several places.
Do not be slow to answer the Lord’s call! From the passage of the Book of Exodus read to us in this Mass we can learn how the Lord acts in every vocation (cf. Ex 3:1–6, 9–12). First, he provokes a new awareness of his presence—the burning bush. When we begin to show an interest he calls us by name. When our answer becomes more specific and like Moses we say: "Here I am" (cf. v. 4), then he reveals more clearly both himself and his compassionate love for his people in need. Gradually he leads us to discover the practical way in which we should serve him: "I will send you." And usually it is then that fears and doubts come to disturb us and make it more difficult to decide. It is then that we need to hear the Lord’s assurance: "I am with you" (Ex 3:12). Every vocation is a deep personal experience of the truth of these words: "I am with you."

Pope Francis: Always be merciful pastors of the People of God

The following comes from Vatican Radio:

Marking the 50th World Day of Prayer for Vocations this Sunday, Pope Francis ordained 10 men to the priesthood for the diocese of Rome. The men were drawn from Rome’s Major Seminary, the diocesan college Redemptoris Mater and the seminary of the oblates of Divino Amore. 

The homily delivered by the Holy Father is based on the one that appears in the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests, with one or two personal additions. In fact, reflecting on the sacraments that these men would soon administer upon the people of God as ministers of the Supreme Priest, Christ, he asked the ten men to “always be merciful pastors” to their people.

Below we publish the homily as per the Pontificale Romanum for the ordination of priests:

Beloved brothers and sisters: because these our sons, who are your relatives and friends, are now to be advanced to the Order of priests, consider carefully the nature of the rank in the Church to which they are about to be raised. It is true that God has made his entire holy people a royal priesthood in Christ. Nevertheless, our great Priest himself, Jesus Christ, chose certain disciples to carry out publicly in his name, and on behalf of mankind, a priestly office in the Church. For Christ was sent by the Father and he in turn sent the Apostles into the world, so that through them and their successors, the Bishops, he might continue to exercise his office of Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd. Indeed, priests are established co-workers of the Order of Bishops, with whom they are joined in the priestly office and with whom they are called to the service of the people of God.

After mature deliberation and prayer, these, our brothers, are now to be ordained to the priesthood in the Order of the presbyterate so as to serve Christ the Teacher, Priest, and Shepherd, by whose ministry his body, that is, the Church, is built and grows into the people of God, a holy temple.In being configured to Christ the eternal High Priest and joined to the priesthood of the Bishops, they will be consecrated as true priests of the New Testament, to preach the Gospel, to shepherd God’s people, and to celebrate the sacred Liturgy, especially the Lord’s sacrifice.

Now, my dear brothers and sons, you are to be raised to the Order of the Priesthood. For your part you will exercise the sacred duty of teaching in the name of Christ the Teacher. Impart to everyone the word of God which you have received with joy. Remember your mothers, your grandmothers, your catechists, who gave you the word of God, the faith ... the gift of faith! They transmitted to you this gift of faith. Meditating on the law of the Lord, see that you believe what you read, that you teach what you believe, and that you practise what you teach. Remember too that the word of God is not your property: it is the word of God. And the Church is the custodian of the word of God.In this way, let what you teach be nourishment for the people of God. Let the holiness of your lives be a delightful fragrance to Christ’s faithful, so that by word and example you may build up the house which is God’s Church.

Likewise you will exercise in Christ the office of sanctifying. For by your ministry the spiritual sacrifice of the faithful will be made perfect, being united to the sacrifice of Christ, which will be offered through your hands in an unbloody way on the altar, in union with the faithful, in the celebration of the sacraments. Understand, therefore, what you do and imitate what you celebrate. As celebrants of the mystery of the Lord’s death and resurrection, strive to put to death whatever in your members is sinful and to walk in newness of life.You will gather others into the people of God through Baptism, and you will forgive sins in the name of Christ and the Church in the sacrament of Penance. Today I ask you in the name of Christ and the Church, never tire of being merciful. You will comfort the sick and the elderly with holy oil: do not hesitate to show tenderness towards the elderly. When you celebrate the sacred rites, when you offer prayers of praise and thanks to God throughout the hours of the day, not only for the people of God but for the world—remember then that you are taken from among men and appointed on their behalf for those things that pertain to God. Therefore, carry out the ministry of Christ the Priest with constant joy and genuine love, attending not to your own concerns but to those of Jesus Christ. You are pastors, not functionaries. Be mediators, not intermediaries.

Finally, dear sons, exercising for your part the office of Christ, Head and Shepherd, while united with the Bishop and subject to him, strive to bring the faithful together into one family, so that you may lead them to God the Father through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Keep always before your eyes the example of the Good Shepherd who came not to be served but to serve, and who came to seek out and save what was lost.

The Great John Paul on his Vocation

Saint of the day: Anselm

Today the Church remember St. Anselm. The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

St. Anselm was born to the Italian nobility. After a childhood devoted to piety and study, Anselm wanted to enter religious life, but his father prevented it, and Anselm became rather worldly for several years. Upon his mother's death, Anselm argued with his father, fled to France, and became a Benedictine monk at Bec, Normandy. Studied under and succeeded Lanfranc as abbot. Archbishop of Canterbury. Theological writer. Counsellor to Pope Gregory VII, Pope Urban II, and William the Conqueror. Opposed slavery and obtained English legislation prohibiting the sale of men. Fought King William Rufus's encroachment on ecclesiastical rights and the independence of the Church, and was exiled. Resolved theological doubts of the Italo-Greek bishops at Council of Bari in 1098. Strongly supported celibate clergy. King Henry I invited him to return to England, but they disputed over investitures, and Anselm was exiled again to return in 1106. One of the great philosophers and theologians of the middle ages. Doctor of the Church in 1720 by Pope Clement XI.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Russel Shaw calls for US 'Catholic subculture' to regain identity

To counter decades of Catholics becoming absorbed into secular American culture, noted author and journalist Russell Shaw is proposing a new Catholic “subculture” committed to evangelization.

“We're no longer evangelizing the culture, we've been evangelized by it, and it's not good for the secular culture, and it's destroying us as a religious community,” Shaw told CNA on April 16.
“My critique of Americanism and of cultural assimilation is very real,” he explained. “What has happened has turned out not to be in the best interest of the Catholic Church in the U.S., but no one started out with bad intentions.”

Shaw is the author of “American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall, and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America,” which is published by Ignatius Press and was released at the end of March.
The book contains a foreword by Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, who discusses the dangerous temptation for Catholics to “become like everyone else....rather than be 'other than' and holy,” agreeing that American Catholics have largely “abandoned who we really are.”

Shaw's work, originally titled “The Gibbons Legacy,” begins by examining “Americanism,” which was a “naively optimistic” view of the compatibility between Catholicism and the American ethos of individualism, popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Americanism was championed by such figures as Archbishop John Ireland of Saint Paul and Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore. It was opposed by Leo XIII and by Orestes Brownson, a Catholic intellectual who argued that there is a “radical incompatibility” between the American ethos and traditional Catholicism.

“Whether Brownson was or wasn't correct in his time, it's to a great extent turned out that way today, in the wake of four decades of profound and alarming change in the character of American secular culture,” Shaw said.

He noted the falling number of priests and religious in the U.S., as well as declining participation in the sacraments, an exodus from the Church and the large amount of “Catholics in name only,” attributing these figures to the cultural assimilation of Catholics into the mainstream.

The story told in “American Church,” Shaw said, is one “without villains,” but is it is about “generally decent, good people trying to do the right thing, but often in retrospect not doing the right thing, blundering, making large mistakes, which we're only now coming to realize and understand clearly.”
“And which we need to rectify before it's too late,” he stressed.

Among his reasons for writing the book, Shaw said, is to examine questions of Catholic identity and history in the U.S. and to “call what I think are the right answers to the attention of as many people as possible.”

That way, he explained, “instead of just muddling through and hoping for the best, we can proceed in a rational, self-conscious manner to achieve the sort of goals and objectives that we want to achieve, rather than sometime in the future ending up in a state of affairs that we didn't anticipate and don't particularly like, which could happen.”

As a solution to the problem of the faithful being absorbed into secular culture, Shaw proposed the creation of a new “Catholic subculture” that promotes Catholic identity while being evangelistic rather than being focused inward like the “Catholic ghetto” of the early 20th century.

Shaw agrees with those who would denounce an inward-focused Catholic subculture whose institutions are laughable to secular culture. However, he maintains that a healthy Catholic subculture is necessary for the Catholics to thrive as Catholics: “absent a subculture, you won't have any group identity.”

“You'll be what we are now, a rather amorphous group, a label for convenience's sake: 'the Catholic Church in the U.S.', but a splintered group in which a very large number of the putative members are not really Catholic in any meaningful sense at all.”

“In the late 50s through the 70s, we gave up on the Catholic subculture in a big way, and that's the era when we lost a lot of the older Catholic institutions, and those that remained went secular,” he observed.

More than half a century ago, Shaw noted, Catholicism was “well on its way to becoming a profoundly effective culture-forming factor in the United States.”

But now, he explained, the Church has no significant influence on the broader secular culture because so many American Catholics have plunged “unconditionally” into that culture.

The solution, a new subculture, must be based in “a Catholic identity which is outward looking and which is profoundly and radically committed to evangelization” of the larger culture, the author emphasized.

This subculture must sustain its members and maintain Catholic identity.

“You have to get your identity, values, and commitments right, or you're going to be in serious trouble,” he said.
Shaw sees promising signs of the framework for this Catholic subculture, including new media ventures such as Catholic News Agency, new Catholic educational institutions such as Ave Maria University, and “the return to a more orthodox brand of Catholicism on the part of at least some older academic institutions, such as Catholic University of America.”

He added that a new subculture will require both those deeply immersed in it, who “provide reinforcement and catechesis,” bolstering and sustaining Catholic identity, and those who having been bolstered and are more present “in the midst of the secular world.”

“What I'm saying is predicated on the assumption that we'll have a large percentage of Catholics who are loyal and orthodox...who will be out there in the secular society, working and socializing with non-Catholics, but whose commitment to the Catholic faith will be visible at all times and in all circumstances,” he explained.

“And it is those people who will be agents of the new evangelization in that larger secular context.”