Sunday, May 31, 2015

Dancing In The Mine Fields by Andrew Peterson

A Prayer to the Holy Spirit

Breathe into me Holy Spirit, That all my thoughts may be holy. Move in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Attract my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy. Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, that I may defend all that is holy. Protect me, Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. 
St. Augustine

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Meet the first man with cerebral palsy to conquer Kilimanjaro and the Ironman

The following comes from GrindTV:
When Bonner Paddock was a child, doctors handed his mother his death sentence: He would most likely be confined to a wheelchair by age 15 and dead by 20.
What he did instead was unimaginable.
Paddock, now 40, is a two-time world-record holder, the first person with cerebral palsy to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro — the tallest freestanding mountain in the world at 19,341 feet — unassisted. He’s also the first person with CP to finish the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, widely considered one of the most difficult triathlons in the world.
Both are incredible physical feats for an able-bodied person, let alone a man who spent the majority of his childhood in leg braces and casts.
From the time Paddock was a child, there was something noticeably wrong with the way he moved, dragging his left leg when he walked, unable to keep his balance. Paddock says his mother kept the severity of his condition from him completely as doctors subjected him to lengthy tests, unable to diagnose his condition; some believed he would stop walking, others that he faced an early death.
Finally, at age 11, Paddock was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a permanent, non-progressive disorder typically caused by early brain damage that affects the patient’s muscles and motor skills. It was something Paddock would try to keep a secret through his late 20s, determined not to let his disabilities limit him.
“I didn’t know how to channel all this frustration and anger from getting teased in elementary school,” the Laguna Beach, California, resident remembers. “It built up this bigger and bigger wall that I didn’t know how to get around. It was a big, dark secret that kept building.”
Finally, at age 29, weary of expending so much energy in order to guard the truth about his condition, Paddock decided to tell his boss.
“He was so nonchalant about it. He just said, ‘OK, well, do you need anything?’” Paddock laughs. “We all get these things in our heads, things we’re extremely apprehensive about, and they wind up so tightly in our minds. It was amazing after so long to finally start unwinding that ball of yarn I had created over all those years.”
A few years later, while working with the Anaheim Ducks ice hockey team during the NHL lockout, Paddock joined the board of United Cerebral Palsy of Orange County. While on the board, he befriended Steven Robert, whose 4-year-old son, Jake, was born with CP. The duo began training for the Orange County Marathon to raise funds for UCP’s Life Without Limits center, a place where young CP patients could get the physical therapy they needed.

A Quote from Saint John Paul the Great

"Faced with today's problems and disappointments, many people will try to escape from their responsibility. Escape in selfishness, escape in sexual pleasure, escape in drugs, escape in violence, escape in indifference and cynical attitudes. I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape."

                             St. John Paul the Great

Saint of the day: Joan of Arc

The Following comes from the Catholic Online site:
St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France. On January 6, 1412, Joan of Arc was born to pious parents of the French peasant class, at the obscure village of Domremy, near the province of Lorraine. At a very early age, she heard voices: those of St. Michael, St. Catherine and St. Margaret.

At first the messages were personal and general. Then at last came the crowning order. In May, 1428, her voices "of St. Michael, St. Catherine, and St. Margaret" told Joan to go to the King of France and help him reconquer his kingdom. For at thattime the English king was after the throne of France, and the Duke of Burgundy, the chief rival of the French king, was siding with him and gobbling up evermore French territory.

After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, the seventeen year old girl was given a small army with which she raised the seige of Orleans on May 8, 1429. She then enjoyed a series of spectacular military successes, during which the King was able to enter Rheims and be crowned with her at his side.

In May 1430, as she was attempting to relieve Compiegne, she was captured by the Burgundians and sold to the English when Charles and the French did nothing to save her. After months of imprisonment, she was tried at Rouen by a tribunal presided over by the infamous Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who hoped that the English would help him to become archbishop.

Through her unfamiliarity with the technicalities of theology, Joan was trapped into making a few damaging statements. When she refused to retract the assertion that it was the saints of God who had commanded her to do what she had done, she was condemned to death as a heretic, sorceress, and adulteress, and burned at the stake on May 30, 1431. She was nineteen years old. Some thirty years later, she was exonerated of all guilt and she was ultimately canonized in 1920, making official what the people had known for centuries. Her feast day is May 30.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Glorious by Paul Baloche

A Guru or Jesus: The Story of Fr. Joseph-Marie Verlinde

Blessed Joseph Kowalski, SDB, Salesian Martyr of Auschwitz

Blessed Joseph Kowalski, SDB
Salesian martyr of Auschwitz

“I have to become a saint because this is what I am intended for."

After Poland was occupied, the Salesians continued their work of educating young people.

On May 23rd, 1941: The Gestapo captured Fr. Kowalski along with eleven other Salesians working in Krakow.

At Auschwitz, Fr. Kowalski was given number 17.350.

In secret, he heard confessions, celebrated Mass, said the Rosary, gave clandestine talks, strengthen his fellow prisoners...

He underwent suffering and humiliation.

When he was discovered with a rosary, he refused to trample on it. He was then killed on July 4th, 1942.

What an inspiration as we come to the end of the Month of Mary.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher with Kristian Stanfill

Remembering Blessed Margaret Pole

The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Daughter of the Duke of Clarence. Niece of King Edward IV and King Richard III of England. Married Sir Richard Pole in 1491. Mother of five, one of whom became a cardinal. Widow. Unofficial ward of King Henry VIII, who made her Countess of Salisbury and governess to Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII.

When she opposed Henry’s plan to marry Ann Boleyn, she was driven from court and received the king’s disfavor. When her son, Cardinal Reginald Pole, wrote against Henry’s presumptions to spiritual supremacy, the king decided to crush the family. Two of Margaret’s sons were executed in 1538 for the crime of being the brothers of Reginald. The elderly Margaret was arrested soon after, falsley charged with plotting revolution; in 1539 she was sent to the Tower of London where she spent her remaining two years. In 1541, at the outbreak of an actual uprising, Margaret was summarily executed with trial as a precaution. Martyr.

To find out more about the Blessed Margaret Pole film here.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fr. Longenecker: Is It Time to Hunker Down?

The following comes from Fr. Dwight Lonenecker:
As Ireland votes overwhelmingly for same sex marriage and the rest of the Western world, it seems, can’t wait to follow their example, is it time to throw in the towel in the cultural slugfest?
As radical Islam advances giving us nightmares and as the economic “recovery” looks increasingly shaky is it time to hunker down?
Over at The Week Damon Linker analyzes what Rod Dreher calls “The Benedict Option”.
This is the idea that the church will follow the pattern of St Benedict. To understand what this means we have to understand the social conditions in Benedict’s day.
It was the end of the fifth century. The once mighty Roman Empire was collapsing. Economic decline was forcing a retreat of the Roman armies across the empire. Famine and plague decimated the population. Moral decay ate away at the family and robbed the population of energy and ambition. In the vacuum the barbarians were invading from the North and the East.
Benedict headed for the hills.
He established small monastic communities of prayer, work and study to survive the social upheaval.
These Christian communities went on to become little havens of peace and lighthouses in the storm. Before long they became the only centers of education, health care, social justice and learning. They preserved the remnants of the earlier classical civilizations and went on to be the kernels of what would be medieval Christendom.
The Benedict Option is the idea that this is where we are headed. It’s not a new idea. T.S.Eliot predicted the continued decay and disintegration of Western civilization and that a new monastic movement would arise and carry the flame and become the nexus of a new Christendom. Cardinal George’s famous prophecy considered the same.
I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”
The classic novel, Canticle for Lebowitz is set in a future where this has already happened.
The Benedict Option has a double meaning because it can also connect with the prophecy of Pope Benedict XVI who, as Joseph Ratzinger…

Pope Benedict: We need a living experience of Jesus

“Our knowledge of Jesus is in need above all of a living experience: Another person's testimony is certainly important, as in general the whole of our Christian life begins with the proclamation that comes to us from one or several witnesses. But we ourselves must be personally involved in an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus.”

Pope Benedict XVI

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bed by the Window by Tony Melendez

Pope Francis Homily for Pentecost

The following comes from Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis presided over Mass in St Peter's Basilica this Pentecost Sunday saying that, the world needs men and women who are filled with the Holy Spirit.

Below is the English translation the Pope's homily this Pentecost Sunday

“As the Father has sent me, even so I send you... Receive the Holy Spirit” (Jn 20:21-22). The gift of the Spirit on the evening of the Resurrection took place once again on the day of Pentecost, intensified this time by extraordinary outward signs. On the evening of Easter, Jesus appeared to the Apostles and breathed on them his Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22); on the morning of Pentecost the outpouring occurred in a resounding way, like a wind which shook the place the Apostles were in, filling their minds and hearts. They received a new strength so great that they were able to proclaim Christ’s Resurrection in different languages: “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Together with them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, the first disciple and the Mother of the nascent Church. With her peace and her smile, she accompanied the joyful young Bride, the Church of Jesus.

The word of God, especially in today’s readings, tells us that the Spirit is at work in individuals and communities filled with the Spirit: he guides us into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13), he renews the face of the earth (Ps 103:30), and he gives us his fruits (cf. Gal 5:22-23).

In the Gospel, Jesus promises his disciples that, when he has returned to the Father, the Holy Spirit will come to guide them into all the truth (cf. Jn 16:13). Indeed he calls the Holy Spirit “the Spirit of truth”, and explains to his disciples that the Spirit will bring them to understand ever more clearly what he, the Messiah, has said and done, especially in regard to his death and resurrection. To the Apostles, who could not bear the scandal of their Master’s sufferings, the Spirit would give a new understanding of the truth and beauty of that saving event. At first they were paralyzed with fear, shut in the Upper Room to avoid the aftermath of Good Friday. Now they would no longer be ashamed to be Christ’s disciples; they would no longer tremble before the courts of men. Filled with the Holy Spirit, they would now understand “all the truth”: that the death of Jesus was not his defeat, but rather the ultimate expression of God’s love, a love that, in the Resurrection, conquers death and exalts Jesus as the Living One, the Lord, the Redeemer of mankind, of history and of the world. This truth, to which the Apostles were witnesses, became Good News, to be proclaimed to all.

The gift of the Holy Spirit renews the earth. The Psalmist says: “You send forth your Spirit… and you renew the face of the earth” (Ps 103:30). The account of the birth of the Church in the Acts of the Apostles is significantly linked to this Psalm, which is a great hymn of praise to God the Creator. The Holy Spirit whom Christ sent from the Father, and the Creator Spirit who gives life to all things, are one and the same. Respect for creation, then, is a requirement of our faith: the “garden” in which we live is not entrusted to us to be exploited, but rather to be cultivated and tended with respect (cf. Gen 2:15). Yet this is possible only if Adam – the man formed from the earth – allows himself in turn to be renewed by the Holy Spirit, only if he allows himself to be re-formed by the Father on the model of Christ, the new Adam. In this way, renewed by the Spirit of God, we will indeed be able to experience the freedom of the sons and daughters, in harmony with all creation. In every creature we will be able to see reflected the glory of the Creator, as another Psalm says: “How great is your name, O Lord our God, through all the earth!” (Ps 8:2, 10).

In the Letter to the Galatians, Saint Paul wants to show the “fruits” manifested in the lives of those who walk in the way of the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:22). On the one hand, he presents “the flesh”, with its list of attendant vices: the works of selfish people closed to God. On the other hand, there are those who by faith allow the Spirit of God to break into their lives. In them, God’s gifts blossom, summed up in nine joyful virtues which Paul calls “fruits of the Spirit”. Hence his appeal, at the start and the end of the reading, as a programme for life: “Walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:6, 25).

The world needs men and women who are not closed in on themselves, but filled with the Holy Spirit. Closing oneself off from the Holy Spirit means not only a lack of freedom; it is a sin. There are many ways one can close oneself off to the Holy Spirit: by selfishness for one’s own gain; by rigid legalism – seen in the attitude of the doctors of the law to whom Jesus referred as “hypocrites”; by neglect of what Jesus taught; by living the Christian life not as service to others but in the pursuit of personal interests; and in so many other ways. The world needs the courage, hope, faith and perseverance of Christ’s followers. The world needs the fruits of the Holy Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal 5:22). The gift of the Holy Spirit has been bestowed upon the Church and upon each one of us, so that we may live lives of genuine faith and active charity, that we may sow the seeds of reconciliation and peace. Strengthened by the Spirit and his many gifts, may we be able uncompromisingly to battle against sin and corruption, devoting ourselves with patient perseverance to the works of justice and peace.

Saint of the day: Philip Neri

The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Though he was related to Italian nobility, Philip came from a poor family. His father, Francisco Neri, worked as a notary. Philip’s brother died in childhood, but his two sisters, Caterina and Elisabetta survived. Known as a pius youth, Philip was taught humanities by the Dominicans.

Moved to San Germano in 1533 to help some family with their business, and while there would escape to a local Dominican chapel in the mountains. Having received a vision that he had an apostolate in Rome, Philip cut himself off from his family, and went there.

Befriended by Galeotto Caccia who took Philip in and paid him to tutor his two sons. Wrote poetry in Latin and Italian. Studied philosophy and theology. When he tired of learning, he sold all his books and gave the money to the poor.

Began to visit and care for the sick, and impoverished pilgrims. Founded a society of like-minded folk to do the same. Friend of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. A layman, he lived in the city as a hermit. During Easter season of 1544, while praying in the catecomb of San Sebastiano, he received a vision of a globe of fire that entered his chest, and he experienced an ecstasy that physically enlarged his heart.

With Persiano Rose, he founded the Confraternity of the Most Holy Trinity. He began to preach, with many converts. In 1550 he considered retiring to the life of a solitary hermit, but received further visions that told him his mission was in Rome. Later he considered missionary work in India, but further visions convinced him to stay in Rome.

Entered the priesthood in 1551. He heard confessions by the hour, could tell penitents their sins before they confessed, and had the gift of conferring visions. He began working with youth, finding safe places for them to play, becoming involved in their lives.

Pope Gregory XIV tried to make him a cardinal, but Philip declined. His popularity was such that he was accused of forming his own sect, but was cleared of this baseless charge. In 1575 he founded the Congregation of the Oratory (Oratorians, a group of priests dedicated to preaching and teaching, but which suffered from accusations of heresy because of the involvement of laymen as preachers. In later years he was beset by several illnesses, each of which was in turn cured through prayer.

“Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.” – Saint Philip Neri

Archbishop Romero Beatified as a Martyr and Hero of the Poor

The following comes from John Allen at Crux:
In a Saturday ceremony believed to mark the largest religious gathering in the history of Central America, the late Archbishop Oscar Romero, killed in 1980 for defending the poor and victims of human rights abuses in El Salvador, was declared a “blessed” of the Catholic Church.
Beatification is the final stage before sainthood. Romero was beatified as a martyr, meaning someone who died giving witness to the Catholic faith, following a decree recognizing him as martyr issued by Pope Francis last February.
The crowd gathered in a downtown San Salvador plaza for the beatification Mass was estimated to be at least 300,000, including scores of pilgrims from outside the country. The crowd included roughly 300 bishops from around the world and nine heads of state, all from Latin America.
“The memory of Romero is still alive and giving comfort to the poor and marginalized,” said Italian Cardinal Angelo Amato, head of the Vatican department for sainthood causes, who celebrated the beatification Mass.
“He was the light of the world and the salt of the earth,” Amato said. “His persecutors have disappeared and been forgotten, but Romero continues to shine a light over the poor and marginalized of the earth.”
Pope Francis, the first Latin American pope, sent a personal message to the beatification ceremony.
“In times of difficult coexistence, Romero knew how to lead, defend, and protect his flock,” the pope wrote.
“We thank God because he gave this bishop and martyr the ability to see and hear the suffering of his people,” Francis said. “When it is fully understood, faith in Jesus Christ generates communities of workers of peace and solidarity.”
Amato read the pope’s letter aloud at the beginning of the Vatican ceremony.
US President Barack Obama issued a statement on the beatification, saying he was “grateful to Pope Francis for his leadership in reminding us of our obligation to help those most in need, and for his decision to beatify Blessed Oscar Arnulfo [Romero].”
“Let us hope that Archbishop Romero’s vision can inspire all of us to respect the dignity of all human beings, and to work for justice and peace in our hemisphere and beyond,” Obama said.
Named the archbishop of San Salvador in 1977, Romero quickly became the country’s most outspoken opponent of a U.S.-backed right-wing government with strong ties to the military.
Romero’s final public act, the day before his death, was to beg, even order, soldiers and security forces not to fire upon civilians protesting government policies. The next day, he was shot through the heart while saying Mass in a small chapel on the grounds of a Catholic hospital, which also contained the modest house where he lived.

Monday, May 25, 2015

After All These Years by Andrew Peterson

Pope Francis: 'My Life is in God's Hands'

The following comes from Zenit:

In a new in depth interview, Pope Francis discussed details on his election, his relationship with the people, the challenges of being Pope and the centrality of poverty in the Gospel. The Pope was interviewed by journalist Juan Berretta of the Argentine newspaper La Voz del Pueblo (The Voice of the People).

Beretta began the interview by asking him whether he dreamed of becoming Pope, to which the Holy Father responded with a definitive "Never!" He also said that neither he nor any others at the time of the conclave saw him as a papabile. They also said that I was a kingmaker, that I could influence the Latin American cardinals on who they would vote for," he recalled. So much so that not one photo of me was published in the newspapers, nobody thought [that it would be me]. In the betting houses in London, I was number 46. I didn't even think it would be me, it didn't cross my mind."

The Pope went on to say that given there were no strong candidates in this election compared to the 2005 conclave that elected Benedict XVI, he fully expected to return to Argentina. "I came to Rome […] with a return ticket on Saturday night so that I could be in Buenos Aires on Palm Sunday. I also had my homily ready on my desk. I never thought that it would happen.

Regarding his feelings following his election, Francis said that he was in peace, and that his address to the faithful was natural to him. "I felt a lot of peace and I said what came from my heart."

The Pope and the People

Berretta asked Francis if he realizes the magnetism that draws people towards him. While acknowledging it, the Holy Father said that what he has been told by cardinals is that people feel that they understand him when he speaks. "I try to be concrete and that is what you call magnetism, certain cardinals tell me that it has to do with the fact that people understand me," he said.

The 78 year old Pontiff said that he enjoys being with people in both a "human and spiritual sense" and that feeling lead him to live at Casa Santa Marta. "Psychologically, I cannot live without people, I would be no good as a monk, that is why I stayed here in this house," he said.

"This is a guest house, there are 210 rooms. We are 40 people who live here that work in the Holy See and the others are guests, bishops, priests, laity who pass by and stay here. To come here, eat at the dining room where there are people, to have the Mass in which four days of the week people from outside come, from the parishes… I like that a lot. I became a priest to be with the people. I give thanks to God that this has not left me."

Among the things that he misses most is going out on the streets for a walk or "to go to a pizzeria and eat a good pizza."

"You can ask for a delivery to the Vatican," Beretta responded.

"Yes, but it isn't the same, the point is to go there. I was always a person of the streets. As a cardinal I loved walking down the street, going by bus, subway. I love the city, I am a soulful citizen."

The Holy Father admitted that his way of being sometimes went at odds with security protocols. While there are certain protocols that he abides, the Pope said that he is somewhat "undisciplined" when it comes to following protocol.

The Importance of Crying

The Argentine journalist asked Pope Francis on the importance of crying, something mentioned by the Holy Father during his visit to Manila. When asked if he cries, the Holy Father said that he does when he sees human tragedy. Among the examples was the plight of the Rohingyan people who are facing persecution. "They go up on these boats in Thai waters and when they approach land they are given a little bit of food, water and then thrown back at sea. This moves me deeply, these types of tragedies."

The Jesuit Pope also said that he is moved by the sick, the suffering and the imprisoned, which he said pauses him to "think that I could also be here."

"Publicly I do not cry. There two occasions where I was at the limit, but I was able to stop on time. I was very moved, there were even some tears that escaped, but I just played dumb and after a whipped my hand on my face. When asked what caused him to cry on those occasions, the Pope replied: "I remember one, the other I don't. The one I remember was about the persecution of Christians in Iraq. I was speaking about it and I was deeply moved."

Regarding fears on possible threats against his life, the Holy Father said that he is in God's hands. "In my prayers I speak to the Lord and say: 'Look, if this has to be, then let I be, I only ask for one grace: that it may not hurt"; because I am a coward to physical pain. The moral pain I can withstand, but physical, no. I am very cowardly when it comes to that. It's not that I'm afraid of an injection, but I prefer not to have problems with physical pain. I am very intolerant; I assume that it is something that stayed with me after a lung operation when I was 19 years old."

Francis also recounted the pressures of his daily work in governing the Church, among which is the intensity of the amount of work that he has. Recalling some of the problems that arise, the Pope said that one of the major ones is his words being taken out of context.

"The other day in the parish of Ostia, near Rome, I was greeting the people, and they placed the elderly and the sick in the gym. They were seated and I passed by and greeted them. Then I said: 'How amusing, the elderly and the sick are here where the young ones play. I understand you because I am also elderly and I also have my pains, I am a little sick.' The next day, the headlines read 'Pope admits he is sick.'"

The Pope of the Poor

After answering several questions on his native Argentina, the Holy Father was asked on his particular focus on the poor and poverty. Berretta asked if he liked being known as "El Papa Pobre" (The Poor Pope".

"If they put a word after, yes; like 'pobre tipo' (that poor guy)", the Pope responded jokingly.

"Poverty is the center of the Gospel. Jesus came to preach to the poor: if you take out poverty from the Gospel, you won't understand anything."

Berretta asked the Holy Father whether the ideal of eradicating poverty was an "utopian" goal. While acknowledging that it was, the Pope said however that "utopias push us forward." He went on to say that there are three essential things needed in life: memory, the ability to see the present and utopia for the future.

"That is why the future of a people is manifested in its care for the elderly, who are the memory and of children and youth, who are the ones that will bring it forward. We adults must receive that memory, work on it in the future and give it to the children."

Concluding his interview, Pope Francis was asked what he hopes people will remember him as, to which he replied: "As a good guy. That they say: "This was a good guy who tried to do good."

Memorial Day: A Catholic Perspective

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Salve Regina by the Monks of the Grande Chartreuse

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Yosemite HD

Archbishop Fulton Sheen: Our Father

Our Father from Catholic Core on Vimeo.

Friday, May 22, 2015

The "Martyrs' Project": Blessed Oscar Romero

The Martyrs' Project is the idea of the singer Deacon Michael Glen Bell, and film maker Owen Thomas. The Project is the subject of a three part podcast by Bishop Christopher Coyne of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis which you may link to here:

THE PROJECT: Martyrs Prayers is an extraordinary endeavor born out of love - love for the Church, love for music and, perhaps most importantly, love for friends. As a musical and spiritual milestone, the album represents an event that has drawn together luminaries of the music world in order to honor those who, through the centuries, gave their very lives for their faith, their freedoms, their communities and their friends. 

More than a single event, however, the album represents a diverse community of artists bound together by the very faith articulated on the album tracks and by their friendship and love for one another. The artists' diversity is wide -- Roman Catholics and Evangelicals, Methodists and Anglicans, those of varied political persuasions -- all bound together by their friendship and their common desire to honor the martyrs.

The album, however, is more than fantastic music. It is packaged with a wealth of information in liner notes, biographies and resource materials. It is a call to know the past and transform the present; to find purpose in life from the question asked of us all:


The Story of Archbishop Oscar Romero

(Vatican Radio) Something is happening in El Salvador on the 23rd of May. Not just the usual rampant violence in this nation which has one of the world’s highest murder rates. But a celebration for this majority Christian nation: the beatification ceremony of one of its sons, Archbishop Oscar Romero.
The ceremony was arranged following a decree approved by Pope Francis on the 3rd of February in which he declared the Salvadoran Archbishop  a martyr. 
Like many of his fellow countrymen Romero was a victim of violence and was shot at while celebrating mass on the 24th of March 1980. So during the civil war that lasted from 1979 until 1992 and left over 70, 000 people dead.  
El Salvador which in Spanish means ‘the Saviour’ may be a tiny country on the mainland of the Americas but Oscar Romero’s saintly reputation as the martyr who loved the poor has spread well beyond its borders. And he's viewed by many as a giant figure for whom the Gospel message always came first.
But if you wish to find out more about the figure of this new Blessed stay tuned and find out more in a programme written and produced by Jill Bevilacqua and produced by Sean-Patrick Lovett. A programme which is part of the series ‘Witness’.

Priests called to emulate Blessed Oscar Romero

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saint of the day: Christopher Magallanes

The following comes from the CNA:

“Long live Christ the King and the Virgin of Guadalupe!”

This was the slogan of the “Cristero” uprising in the 1920’s against the anti-Catholic government of Mexico which had instituted and enforced laws against the Church in an absurd attempt to eradicate the Catholic faith in Mexico, even going so far as to ban all foreign clergy and the celebration of Mass in some regions.

St. Christopher Magallanes, along with 21 other priests and three lay companions, were martyred between 1915 and 1937, by shooting or hanging, throughout eight Mexican states, for their membership in the Cristero movement. Magallanes erected a seminary in Totatiche and he and his companions secretly preached and ministered to the faithful.

The last words heard spoken by Magallanes were from his cell, when he shouted, "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico".

Pope John Paul II beatified the Cristero martyrs in 1992 and canonized them in 2000.

Medjugorje Message

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Pope Francis: We should think about our final farewell

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Tuesday many people like the Rohingya of Myanmar or the Christians and Yazidis in Iraq have been forced to say farewell to their homes and the lives of all of us are marked by farewells of varying importance. He said each of us should reflect on our own final farewell from this life and what it means for Christians to entrust themselves to God. The Pope’s words came during his morning Mass at the Santa Marta residence.

Pope Francis’ homily was a reflection on how our lives are marked by saying goodbye or farewell, how we do it and the reasons why we do it. He took as his inspiration the day’s readings where Jesus bids farewell to the disciples before his Passion and death and where St Paul bids farewell before going to Jerusalem and weeps on the beach with those who have come to say goodbye to him.

He said our lives are made up of many farewells, small and big ones and with some of them there is a great deal of tears and suffering.

“Let’s think nowadays of those poor Rohingya from Myanmar. When they left their lands to flee from persecution, they didn’t know what would happen to them. And they’ve been in boats for months over there. They arrive in a town where people give them water and food and tell them to go away. That’s a farewell. In addition, this great existential farewell is taking place in our times. Think about the farewell for the Christians and Yazidis (in Iraq) who believe they can no longer return to their lands because they were chased out of their homes. This is happening now.”

The Pope said there are small farewells such as when a mother hugs her son who’s going off to fight in a war and then there’s the final farewell for a person who is leaving this world and this theme of farewell is explored in art and in songs.

“I’m thinking of one, of the Italian “Alpini” regiment, when the captain bids farewell to his soldiers: the captain’s Will. I’m thinking of the great farewell, my great farewell, not when I must say ‘see you then,’ ‘see you later,’ ‘bye for now,’ but ‘farewell.’ These two readings use the word ‘addio’ (farewell in a final sense.) Paul entrusts everything of his to God and Jesus entrusts to God his disciples who remain on this earth. ‘They are not of this world but look after them.’ We only say ‘addio’ at a time of final farewells, be they of this life or be they our final farewell.”

Pope Francis went to say that each of us would do well to think of our final farewell or passing and examine our conscience, just like Jesus and St Paul did.

“What will I leave behind? Both St Paul and Jesus in these two readings carry out a kind of examination of conscience: ‘I’ve done this, this and this … And what have I done? It’s good for me to imagine myself at that moment. We don’t know when it will happen, but it will be that moment when expressions like ‘see you later,’ ‘see you soon,’ ‘see you tomorrow,’ ‘goodbye for now,’ will become ‘farewell.’ Am I prepared to entrust to God all that I have? To entrust myself to God? To say that word which is the word of the son entrusting himself to his Father.”

The Pope concluded his homily by praying that the Holy Spirit teaches us how to say farewell and truly entrust ourselves to God at the end of our life.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Gregorian Chant Magnificat with images of San Juan de la Peña hermitage

Mother Teresa: Possible Canonization in 2016!

.- Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has said that Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta could be canonized during the upcoming Jubilee for Mercy, although he clarified that no concrete plans have been made.

Fr. Lombardi told CNA May 19 that the possible canonization of Mother Teresa during the Holy Year is “a working hypothesis.”

“There is no official date but you can say that the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is studying the cause.”

When asked if there was a second miracle attributed to the nun’s intercession, the spokesman said, “The cause is in the process.”

An Italian cardinal heading one of the Vatican dicasteries who preferred to remain anonymous told CNA May 19 that the canonization was brought up during a Monday meeting between Pope Francis and the heads of various dicasteries in the Roman Curia.

According to the cardinal, the Vatican’s prefect of the Congregation of the Causes for Saints, Cardinal Angelo Amato, suggested Sept. 4, 2016 – which is being observed as a jubilee day for workers and volunteers of mercy – to the others as a possible canonization date, since it is close to Sept. 5, the nun’s feast day and the anniversary of her death.

The possible canonization of Mother Teresa was also brought up during the May 5 presentation of the Jubilee for Mercy. A journalist from the Italian publication Citta Nuova noted the date for the jubilee celebration on the eve of her feast day, and asked whether the decision signaled that her canonization could be close.

On that occasion Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, which is organizing the Holy Year for Mercy, responded by saying that “everyone is waiting for the canonization of Mother Teresa.”

“Who more than Mother Teresa can be recognized today as one who lived the works of mercy, and who more than she could be capable of sustaining the commitment of millions of people – men, women, youth – in various forms of volunteer work express the beauty of the mercy of the Church?” he asked.

Although no plans are official, the archbishop expressed his desire that all volunteer organizations would find “an opportunity of encounter” in the Sept. 4 jubilee day.

Read the rest here.

Fr. Longenecker on Francis, Fatima and the End of the World

The following comes from Fr. Longenecker at Aleteia:

At the end of April it was confirmed that Pope Francis will travel to Fatima for the one hundredth anniversary of the Marian apparitions, and it is rumored that he will use the occasion to canonize the two youngest seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
This week, on the celebration of the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the original image was venerated by the Holy Father at the Vatican. What is Pope Francis’ understanding of the message of Fatima, and why does the Virgin of Fatima seem so important to him, as she was to his two predecessors?
The stunning events at Fatima in May 1917 took place as the world lurched into the twentieth century—a century that would see two world wars, genocide on a massive scale, the invention of the atomic bomb and the rapid rise of technologies that would transform the world and the human race.
The Pope’s planned visit to Fatima and his celebration this week continues his interest and involvement with Fatima. His pontificate was consecrated to Our Lady of Fatima on May 13, 2013, by the cardinal of Lisbon. During the ceremony the cardinal prayed that Pope Francis be granted “the gift of discernment to know how to identify the paths of renewal for the Church.” He also prayed that the Holy Father be protected “in the difficult hours of suffering, so that he may overcome, in charity, the trials that the renewal of the Church will bring him.” This was followed five months later by Pope Francis consecrating the world to Our Lady of Fatima on October 13, 2013.
Pope Francis’ continued devotion to Our Lady of Fatima indicates a historic and significant link of the papacy with the prophecies of Fatima. John Paul II visited Fatima three times, and in 2000 beatified Jacinta and Francisco in 2000, and was also responsible for entrusting the Third Millennium to the Immaculate Heart of Mary in front of our Lady’s statue, on Sunday, October 8, 2000, when over 1,400 bishops were present for the Jubilee Mass.
Pope Benedict XVI also strongly supported Fatima and visited the shrine in May 2010, when, among other things he said: “We would be mistaken to think that the prophetic mission of Fatima is complete.”
In the famous vision of Pope Leo XIII Satan said if he had one hundred years he would be able to destroy the church. It is interesting to note that the dates were October 13, 1884. Two “Fatima Dates” crop up time and again. Pope John Paul II’s attempted assassination took place on May 13, 1981. Pope Francis consecrated the world to Our Lady of Fatima October 13, 2013. The apparitions began on May 13, 1917 and ended with the miracle of the sun on October 13, 1917. Could these momentous sign from heaven indicate the beginning of the one hundred years in which Satan would attempt to destroy the church? If so, are we approaching the end of that time? Does this make the pope’s visit to Fatima in 2017 more important than a mere centenary celebration?
When he celebrated the consecration to Our Lady of Fatima in October 2013, Pope Francis said: “The statue of our Lady, which has come from Fatima, helps us to feel her presence in our midst. Mary always brings us to Jesus…nothing is impossible for God’s mercy! Even the most tangled knots are loosened by His grace. And Mary, whose ‘yes’ opened the door for God to undo the knot of the ancient disobedience, is the Mother who patiently and lovingly brings us to God, so that He can untangle the knots of our soul by His fatherly mercy.”
This Pope, like his two predecessors seems acutely aware not only of the spiritual battle with Satan, but also of the possibility that time is short. In contemplating “the end of the world” we have to ask ourselves what that means.

Read the rest here!

Don Bosco, Healing Miracles and Our Lady

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

Among the other cures that seemed to be given by God to gain benefactors for the humble priest’s work were a number in Rome. For example, when Don Bosco had great trouble there getting approval for his radical new congregation, God used the saint to give healings to several important church officials who opposed approval or to members of their families. For all today’s theology about not bargaining with God, God seemed himself to barter the cures for approval of his saint’s congregation.

Among these cures a key opponent, Monsignor Svegliati, was healed overnight of virulent influenza following the saint’s visit; Cardinal Antonelli, in great pain and immobilized by gout, when Don Bosco called on him was well the next day; and the eleven-year-old nephew of Cardinal Berardi, dying of typhoid, was inexplicably healed after the saint came to pray over him. To each of these churchmen, before working the cure, Don Bosco made it clear that their vote was expected in return. These changed votes gave the Salesians approval.

Unbelievers were also among those healed by the saint. I think of the prominent doctor who came to visit Don Bosco. After a few social remarks, he said, “People say you can cure all diseases. Is that so?”

“Certainly not,” the saint answered.

“But I’ve been told —” The well-educated man was suddenly stammering. Fumbling in his pockets, he pulled out a tiny notebook. “See. I’ve even got the names and what each one was cured of.”

Don Bosco shrugged. “Many people come here to ask favors through Mary’s intercession. If they obtain what they seek, that’s due to the Blessed Virgin, not me.”

“Well, let her cure me,” the doctor said agitatedly, tapping the note­book on his well-clad knee, “and I’ll believe in these miracles too.”

“What’s your ailment?”

“I’m an epileptic.” His seizures, he told Don Bosco, had become so frequent during the past year that he couldn’t go out any more. In desperation, he was hoping for help beyond medicine.

“Well, do what the others do who come here,” Don Bosco said matter-of-factly. “You want the Blessed Virgin to heal you. So kneel, pray with me, and prepare to purify and strengthen your soul through confession and Holy Communion.”

The physician grimaced. “Suggest something else. I can’t do any of that.”

“Why not?”

“It would be dishonest. I’m a materialist I don’t believe in God or the Virgin Mary. I don’t believe in miracles. I don’t even believe in prayer.”

For a space the two men sat in silence. Then Don Bosco smiled, as only he could, at his visitor. “You are not entirely without faith — after all, you came here hoping for a cure.”

As the saint smiled at him, something welled up in the doctor. Don Bosco knelt, and he knelt too without another word and made the Sign of the Cross.

Moments later, he began his confession.

Afterward, he declared, he felt a joy he would never have believed possible. Time and again he returned to give thanks for his spiritual healing.

As for the epilepsy, that simply vanished.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Story of Saint Mariam Baouardy

saint mariam baouardyThe following comes from the Gateway Pundit:

Sister Mariam Baouardy was canonized today in Rome, Italy by Pope Francis.
She was a victim of Muslim violence. When she refused marriage and conversion to Islam by her Islamic suitor he flew into a rage and slit her throat.
A nun dressed in blue picked her up and stitched her wounds.

Mariam Baouardy experienced the stigmata during her lifetime.
Mariam Baouardy was born on January 5, 1846 (the eve of Epiphany) in the village of I’billin, the region of Southern Syria in the Ottoman Empire. 
Mariam was their 13th child and first daughter, none of her preceding brothers had survived infancy. She was born after a trip the couple made a pilgrimage on foot to Bethlehem, some 70 miles away, out of desperation after the loss of their children. When they were later blessed with the birth of a daughter, they named her after the Virgin Mary, out of gratitude. She was joined by a new brother, Boulos, two years later.
Baouardy’s parents both died from an illness in 1848, only a few days apart. The siblings were then each taken in by relatives on different sides of her family living in different villages, she being taken in by her father’s brother who lived in the same village. The brother and sister would never see one another again. She was raised in a loving home in comfortable circumstances. 
When Baouardy was eight, her uncle and his wife moved to Alexandria, Egypt, to improve their situation. Five years later, in 1858 when she was aged 13, in keeping with tradition, she was engaged by her uncle to his wife’s brother, who lived in Cairo. The night before the wedding, she had a religious experience in which she felt called not to marry and to offer her life to God. Upon being told this the following morning, her uncle flew into a rage and beat her severely. Despite this, and the subsequent ill treatment she began to experience from her uncle, she stayed firm in her decision.
Nonetheless, Baouardy felt depressed and alone. She wrote her brother, then living in Nazareth, asking him to visit her. The young male servant she asked to deliver the letter drew out of her the cause for her sadness. Upon learning of this, he attempted to woo her for himself, inviting her to convert to Islam. She rejected his proposal, which caused the young man to fly into a rage, in which he drew a knife and cut her throat. He then dumped her body in a nearby alley.
Baouardy then experienced what she was convinced was a miracle. As she related later, a “nun dressed in blue” picked up her body and stitched her wounds, caring for her in some grotto which she could never identify. Her voice was effected for the rest of her life as a result of the cut, which a French doctor later measured as being 10 cm. (nearly 4 inches) wide. After being cared for by this mysterious figure for a month, she recovered enough to leave and find work as a domestic servant in the home of an Arab Christian family in the city. She would give most of the little money she earned to the poor on the streets — Wikipedia.

Remembering Saint John Paul the Great on his birthday!

Today would have been Pope John Paul II's 95th birthday!

John Paul II: "I would have liked to stay with you longer, but I find consolation in the words of Jesus. He tells us the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you. The Father sends his Spirit of truth and love into the world, and the Spirit guides us in the ways of peace. Therefore do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. Dear brothers and sisters, the Holy Spirit is with you."

Another Miracle for Blessed Seelos!

The following comes from The Town Talk:

Daniel Brooks of Alexandria was desperate. He couldn't take the pain any longer and he wanted to die.

Little did he know that a 19th century priest from New Orleans would have a hand in his healing.

Brooks, 58, had been through 16 surgeries in three different cities since his motorcycle accident in 1986.

"A truck hit me and knocked me into a telephone pole on Horseshoe Drive," he said of the accident that led to six spinal surgeries, five abdominal surgeries, two hips surgeries and three for the thighbone. Some surgeries were in Alexandria; others were in New Orleans and Houston.

All that led him to start taking pain pills — hard narcotics. "I got addicted," he said, "with one surgery after another."

He tried quitting the drugs, but was always overwhelmed by either the pain or the withdrawal symptoms — including nausea and diarrhea.

His worst pain, he said, was from a ruptured disc, a pinched nerve and a broken C7 vertebrae. "Very, very sharp — like being stabbed with needles deep inside me," he said. "I couldn't turn my head. I have a titanium plate in my neck, and I've had three cervical fusions and four lumbar fusions.

"I prayed and prayed and couldn't get relief," he continued.

One day last November he was desperate to be rid of the pain — pain that plagued him for so many years and had become unbearable in recent weeks.

"I prayed harder than I have ever prayed that I could go to sleep and die," he said, noting he did go to sleep and then had a profound dream.

In his dream, he explained, he went to a Mass at St. Frances Cabrini Church with his oldest son, Daniel Jr., and his family, and they were the only ones there besides the Rev. Chad Partain, the church pastor.

"Father Chad wanted me to go to confession," he said, continuing to discuss his dream, "and after he gave me absolution, I told him all about my problem, that I was hopelessly addicted to strong narcotics for 3-5 years and couldn't take it anymore. I said you are a Roman Catholic priest and you have the power to forgive and the power to 'bind and loose' (Matthew 18:18), and you have the power to break this narcotics passion within me. I'm asking you to pray for me."

As the dream continued, Partain came out from the confessional and laid a hand on Brooks' head and said prayers and then told him to go home and pray a 9-hour novena every hour on the hour to Blessed Father Seelos. If he did, Partain assured him in the dream, "You will get what you ask for."

Soon after Brooks woke up, he was agitated by the dream and called his oldest son and told him about it.

"Because he had been in so much pain for two weeks and struggling with withdrawals, I thought it was pretty sensational," Daniel Brooks Jr. said. "But I figured if it was from God, he would delivered from the withdrawals and (his severe pain)."

So Daniel Jr. encouraged his father to do as Partain told him to do in the dream. Brooks did so — immediately.

He held a rosary in his hands as he told his story. Above a nearby door, a small painting of the Sacred Heart of Jesus looked down on all in his living room.

He said he had never heard of Blessed Father Francis Xavier Seelos before the dream, but after receiving encouragement from his son to say the prayer, he immediately started a novena to Seelos in his own words.

"After my final prayer following the ninth hour, I felt a warmth on the back of my neck and was content and happy inside," Brooks said. "I took my pills and flushed them down the commode, just trusting in God. I went to bed and fell asleep, and slept all night, which I never do. I woke up the next morning feeling great.