Friday, July 31, 2015

Humility as the Essential Key to Holiness

Humility must always be doing its work like a bee making its honey in the hive:
without humility all will be lost [...] As I see it, we shall never succeed in knowing ourselves unless we seek to know God: let us think of His greatness and then come back to our own baseness; by looking at His purity we shall see our foulness; by meditating upon His humility, we shall see how far we are from being humble. There are two advantages to this. First, it is clear that anything white looks very much whiter against something black, just as the black looks blacker against the white. Secondly, if we turn from self toward God, our understanding and our will become nobler and readier to embrace all that is good: if we never rise above the slough our own miseries we do ourselves a great disservice. 

–St. Teresa of Avila's "Interior Castle" Page 52-53 Hat tip to St. Peter's List

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What the Lord Wants

The following comes from Dr. Tom Neal at Word on Fire:
At an inner city New Orleans parish today.
After Mass an elderly black woman comes up to me and speaks with me.
“Good morning, young man. Are you a visitor?”
“Yes, Ma’am.”
“So nice to have you here. And your children! Not many families left in church these days.”
“I’m Edna, nice to meet you.”
“Tom, nice to meet you as well.”
“Tom, do you need anything prayed for? I’m part of a prayer chain. We get on the phone every morning, starting at 4:00 a.m.. We get on the phone and we pray together for the intentions folks give us. So many things to pray for! My own family’s enough to keep me busy 24/7. You got that? There’s always trouble out there. Trouble. What’s wrong with this young generation? Lord have mercy.”
“Wow. That’s really remarkable you pray every day at 4:00 a.m.”
“But son, don’t think it’s remarkable. It’s not. It’s just what the Lord wants. He wants us to turn to Him in trouble, to lift up our voices for others. Early in the morning, the Bible says, we must rise and lift our hands in praise and petition. Don’t you think that’s what we supposed to do?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Yes, Lord. Yes, we rely on His grace. Mercy, Lord. We rely on your mercies. Everlasting, Jesus. Your kindness is everlasting. Isn’t He awesome? Yes! Now what you need prayin’ for?”
“My family, my job. . .”
“Oh, yes, Lord. Lord, hear your son Tom. His family, God, his family needs your blessings. Take his beautiful children in your loving arms. Help him be the father you made him to be, God. The husband his wife deserves. And Jesus, make him a godly man in his work. Hard workin’, honest, just, like St. Joseph. Keep him in gainful employ, O Father. . .Okay, now I’ll be praying for you with my prayer team tomorrow morning. Alright?”
“Yes, thank you.”
“Alright. Amen. You’re welcome. It’s why we’re here, right? To rely on each other. To lean on one another. To rely on Jesus. [she starts singing…] Oh, what a friend we have in Jesus. . .[she sang the whole thing]”
“Wow, Edna, I want your faith.”
“No, son, you want your faith. We each got our special way of loving God. Be the man you’re made to be. God bless you.”
She made the sign of the cross on my forehead and walked off.

Fr. Barron on Planned Parenthood and the Loss of Human Dignity

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Prayer and the Taizé Community

Fr. Larry Richards: Surrendering to the Holy Spirit

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North

This I Know by David Crowder

A Quote from St. Paul to the Galatians

Galatians 1:6-10

"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed!

Am I now seeking human approval, or God’s approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ."

Kathryn Jean Lopez: The Truth and Abortion

The following comes from Kathryn Jean Lopez:

“The most disgusting part of this to me is these folks lied, lied to gain access to clinics,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said on This Week Sunday, in reference to the undercover videos showcasing Planned Parenthood executives talking about selling fetal body parts (including a now-infamous Lamborghini reference). 

She’s right. Lies are a problem. And we’ve been lying for decades. We’ve been hiding the destruction of human lives behind words like “choice” and “freedom” and placards with “women’s rights” and ”women’s health” written on them to keep us looking away from the dehumanizing details of abortion — dehumanizing for all involved. 

At this point in human history, the consciences of the people at the Center for Medical Progress should not be the primary cause for chattering-class concern so much as the “conscience of our nation.” 

Or, as President Ronald Reagan put it in Human Life Review in a manifesto with that very title ten years after the Supreme Court legalized abortion in all trimesters of pregnancy (a little-known American fact): 
As an act of “raw judicial power” (to use Justice White’s biting phrase), the decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court’s decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation. Abortion concerns not just the unborn child, it concerns every one of us. The English poet, John Donne, wrote: “… any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life—the unborn—without diminishing the value of all human life. 
Later in the essay, President Reagan wrote: 
The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life?The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being. The real question for him and for all of us is whether that tiny human life has a God-given right to be protected by the law—the same right we have. 
And he quoted Malcolm Muggeridge as going “right to the heart of the matter”: “Either life is always and in all circumstances sacred, or intrinsically of no account; it is inconceivable that it should be in some cases the one, and in some the other.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

How to Think by Archbishop Fulton Sheen

To Hell with Satan

The following comes from National Review:

Paul Thigpen discusses his handbook for spiritual battle.

Pope Francis has said that “we are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here . . . even in the 21st century! And we mustn’t be naïve, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”

Paul Thigpen, author of many books, including A Year with the Saints, has compiled the new Manual for Spiritual Warfare, published by St. Benedict’s Press. A handy, attractive, resource, it better equips one for spiritual battle. He talks about the book and combatting evil in the world and our hearts. 

KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why is it so crucial for Christians to be prepared “to understand and defeat” Satan? 

THIGPEN: The first rule of any type of warfare is to know your enemy. How can you fight an adversary you can’t identify? Worse yet, how can you avoid being a casualty in a battle going on all around you if you don’t even recognize that you’re in danger? 

I realize that some Christians deny the existence of demons, including Satan, as fallen angels, actual personal beings (having a mind and will, but no body) who want to see us ultimately join them in hell. Such Christians believe that evil — or, at least, moral evil — is exclusively a result of human intentions and activities. So let’s address that issue first. 

It’s reasonable to assume that, for Christians, the teaching of Jesus Christ must be accepted as true and his example as normative. (Why else would we call ourselves “Christians”?) All four of the Biblical Gospels make it abundantly clear that Jesus affirmed the existence of Satan, warned us about his interference in our lives — he’s “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31), “a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44), and more — and engaged in direct combat with demonic powers. The accounts of his exorcisms are too numerous, and too central to his ministry, to dismiss — not to mention Jesus’ encounter with the Devil himself in the wilderness (see Luke 4:1–13). 

Christians must take these accounts seriously. Some would try to interpret them as nothing more than encounters with mentally or physically ill people. But if that’s the case, then one or more of the following must be true: 
Jesus was ignorant of the victims’ real condition and was mistaken about the existence of unclean spirits. But for a believing Christian, how can this option be possible? The divine Son of God, through whom all things were created, was ignorant and mistaken about something so important to his ministry and mission to the human race? And he mistook an inner dialogue with himself to be a conversation with a demon in the wilderness? 
Jesus was trying to accommodate the culture by deliberately misdiagnosing these maladies in accordance with the false ideas of the time, rather than correcting the ideas (which were dangerous if true) and explaining that the illnesses were illnesses, as demons don’t really exist. How could Christians affirm that the holy Son of God would engage in a deception of that sort?
On at least one occasion, Jesus cast a mental illness out of a man and into a herd of pigs (see Matthew 8:28–34). This proposition is absurd on its face, and leaves only one more option: 
The Gospel accounts are historically unreliable. Jesus never taught or did these things. Once again, for the Christian, this option in untenable. If these earliest and canonical accounts of Jesus’ life are unreliable about a matter so critical to his ministry, mission, and even identity (the demons called him the “Son of God,” which is why they had to submit to his authority; see Matthew 8:29), then why accept the testimony of these books about anything else he said or did? 
 In addition to the Gospel accounts, the Bible affirms in many places the existence of demons and their malicious intentions toward us. For Catholics, the Church’s authoritative tradition has continued to affirm that teaching since the beginning, and Church history is filled with countless examples of exorcisms and other encounters with demonic powers. 

For all these reasons, then, I think it’s crucial for Christians to be prepared to understand and defeat Satan. It’s simply not an option to do otherwise. 

 LOPEZ: I know it’s in the Bible and all, but is the Devil really “as a roaring lion . . . seeking someone to devour”? How do you know this is true? 

THIGPEN: Let’s lay aside for a moment the consistent, persistent witness of the Christian Scriptures and tradition. Consider the massive accumulated evidence of confirming testimony. Throughout all history, peoples of vastly different cultures around the globe have affirmed the reality of evil spirits — even when they have disagreed about most other spiritual realities. Many of our contemporaries as well, who by any reasonable standard are intelligent and in their right mind, have testified to having encounters with demonic powers. 

The recent case of demonic possession in Indiana, widely publicized, provides just one example. Extraordinary, preternatural phenomena were observed and reported by objective, perfectly sane witnesses — in this case, not just family members but medical and law-enforcement personnel who had had no previous experiences of that sort or even an interest in such phenomena. They witnessed some of the classic phenomena associated with demonic possession (and infestation of a house) that had no merely natural explanation. We simply can’t dismiss such testimonies as mass hallucinations or hoaxes. 

No doubt, some types of mental and physical illness have been wrongly attributed to demons, today as in the past. Nor can we deny that superstitions and legends about evil spirits abound. But these misguided ideas about the Devil don’t in themselves prove that he doesn’t exist, just as age-old beliefs about a flat earth don’t prove that our planet doesn’t exist. 

Skeptics may demand “scientific” evidence. But what kind of relevant evidence would scientists be capable of measuring? The natural sciences measure matter, energy, time, and motion; the social sciences analyze human behavior. Demons have no physical bodies, and they aren’t human. We can’t put them in test tubes or subject them to psychoanalysis. 

The most, then, that scientists can do is observe the effects of demons on the physical world or on human behavior. But the prevailing mentality among scientists will press them to seek other explanations for such phenomena, even when those explanations are utterly inadequate.

Fr. Robert Barron: The Mystery of God

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Brother Roger: "A few have seen him"

A few have seen him from Taize on Vimeo.

Miraculous Relics of St. Anne

The following comes from Taylor Marshal:

On Easter AD 792, Charlemagne discovered the relics of Saint Anne with the help of a deaf handicapped boy. It’s a wonderful tale for this feast day of Saint Anne.
Below is the account, preserved in the correspondence of Pope Saint Leo III, concerning the mysterious discovery of the relics of Saint Anne in the presence of the Emperor Charlemagne.
Fourteen years after Our Lord’s death, Saint Mary Magdalen, Saint Martha, Saint Lazarus, and the others of the little band of Christians who were piled into a boat without sails or oars and pushed out to sea to perish — in the persecution of the Christians by the Jews of Jerusalem — were careful to carry with them the tenderly loved body of Our Lady’s mother. They feared lest it be profaned in the destruction, which Jesus had told them was to come upon Jerusalem. When, by the power of God, their boat sur vived and finally drifted to the shores of France, the little company of saints buried Saint Anne’s body in a cave, in a place called Apt, in the south of France. The church, which was later built over the spot, fell into decay because of wars and religious persecutions, and as the centuries passed, the place of Saint Anne’s tomb was forgotten.
The long years of peace, which Charlemagne’s wise rule gave to southern France, enabled the people to build a magnificent new church on the site of the old chapel at Apt. Extraordinary and painstaking labor went into the building of the great structure, and when the day of its consecration arrived [Easter Sunday, 792 A.D.], the beloved Charlemagne, little suspecting what was in store for him, declared himself happy indeed to have jour neyed so many miles to be present for the holy occasion. At the most solemn part of the ceremonies, a boy of fourteen, blind, deaf and dumb from birth — and usually quiet and impassive — to the amaze ment of those who knew him, completely distracted the at tention of the entire congrega tion by becoming suddenly tremendously excited. He rose from his seat, walked up the aisle to the altar steps, and to the consternation of the whole church, struck his stick re soundingly again and again upon a single step.
His embarrassed family tried to lead him out, but he would not budge. He contin ued frantically to pound the step, straining with his poor muted senses to impart a knowledge sealed hopelessly within him. The eyes of the people turned upon the em peror, and he, apparently in spired by God, took the matter into his own hands. He called for workmen to remove the steps.
A subterranean passage was revealed directly below the spot, which the boy’s stick had indicated. Into this pas sage the blind lad jumped, to be followed by the emperor, the priests, and the workmen.
They made their way in the dim light of candles, and when, farther along the pas sage, they came upon a wall that blocked further ad vance, the boy signed that this also should be removed. When the wall fell, there was brought to view still another long, dark corridor. At the end of this, the searchers found a crypt, upon which, to their profound wonderment, a vigil lamp, alight and burning in a little walled recess, cast a heavenly radiance.
As Charlemagne and his afflicted small guide, with their companions, stood be fore the lamp, its light went out. And at the same moment, the boy, blind and deaf and dumb from birth, felt sight and hearing and speech flood into his young eyes, his ears, and his tongue.
“It is she! It is she!” he cried out. The great emperor, not knowing what he meant, nevertheless repeated the words after him. The call was taken up by the crowds in the church above, as the people sank to their knees, bowed in the realization of the presence of something celestial and holy.
The crypt at last was opened, and a casket was found within it. In the casket was a winding sheet, and in the sheet were relics, and upon the relics was an inscrip tion that read, “Here lies the body of Saint Anne, mother of the glorious Virgin Mary.” The winding sheet, it was noted, was of eastern design and texture.
Charlemagne, over whelmed, venerated with pro found gratitude the relics of the mother of Heaven’s Queen. He remained a long time in prayer. The priests and the people, awed by the graces given them in such abundance and by the choice of their countryside for such a heavenly manifestation, for three days spoke but rarely, and then in whispers.
The emperor had an exact and detailed account of the miraculous finding drawn up by a notary and sent to Pope Saint Leo III, with an accom panying letter from himself. These documents and the pope’s reply are preserved to this day. Many papal bulls have attested, over and over again, to the genuineness of Saint Anne’s relics at Apt.

Saint of the day: Titas Brandsma

Today the Church remembers the holy martry Blessed Titas Brandsma. The following comes from the Patron Saints Index:

Pious youth from a pious family; three of his four sisters were nuns, and a brother became a Franciscan priest. Had the nickname Shorty. Good student who felt an early call to the priesthood. Entered a Franciscan minor seminary from ages 11 to 17, but health problems, primarily an intestinal disorder, prevented him becoming a Franciscan. Joined the Carmelites at Boxmeer, taking the name Titus, and making his first vows in 1899.

Spoke Italian, Frisian, Dutch, and English, and could read Spanish. Translated the works of Saint Teresa of Avila from Spanish to Dutch, publishing them in 1901. Ordained in 1905 at age 24. Doctorate in philosophy from the Pontifical Gregorian Univeristy in Rome in 1909 at age 28. Taught at the Carmelite seminary at Oss, Netherlands. Editor of the local daily newspaper in 1919; often seen working with a cigar in his mouth.

Taught philosophy at Catholic University, Nijmegen, Netherlands. Superior of the university's Carmelite student house. Popular confessor. Widely travelled orator, journalist, author, and lobbyist for the university. University president in 1932. Appointed ecclesiastical advisor to Catholic journalists in 1935. Conducted a speaking tour throughout the United States beginning in 1935.

In 1935 he wrote against anti-Jewish marriage laws, which brought him to the attention of the Nazis. He later wrote that no Catholic publication could publish Nazi propaganda and still call itself Catholic; this led to more attention. Continually followed by the Gestapo, the Nazi attention led to his arrest on 19 January 1942. For several weeks he was shuttled from jail to jail, abused, and punished for ministering to other prisoners.

Deported to the Dachau concentration camp in April 1942. There he was overworked, underfed, and beaten daily; he asked fellow prisoners to pray for the salvation of the guards. When he could no longer work, he was used for medical experiments. When he was no longer any use for experimentation, he was murdered. Martyr.

You can read his letter from prison here.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Unseen Sea

The Unseen Sea from Simon Christen on Vimeo.

The Little Flowers of Pope Francis

The following comes from National Review:

There is a point to the popular mythology about Saint Francis of Assisi. Obviously, the emasculated bard of the 1972 film Brother Sun, Sister Moon is a mostly insipid caricature. Saint Francis of Assisi was much more than an animal-loving peacenik with an odd haircut.

But the popular mythology is symbolic of the prevailing reality of Francis of Assisi: He lived a policy of joyful and intense engagement with the real world. He was a missionary disciple of Jesus Christ: alive, open, and convicted. He proclaimed the mercy of God, manifested in the incarnation of Christ His son, and he proclaimed our sinfulness. He was aware of our mortality, and he was aware of our eternal destiny.

Saint Francis was a poet, a pastor, and an evangelist: He stood before sultans and saints, beggars and bishops, and he preached Jesus Christ crucified. And Saint Francis lived a Gospel that was unnuanced, optimistic, and ceaselessly demanding. Saint Francis was the man who said that “pure joy” would come through being tossed from a monastery, left in the snow, denied, and abandoned. Some would say he was insane, a madman — others that he was a passionate Christian. I prefer the latter perspective.

But I think Saint Francis is reduced to a caricature to diminish the radical call of his life. It’s easier to recast the saint as a medieval flower child, preaching unbridled sentimentality, than it is to take seriously the witness of solidarity and fidelity he lived.

Pope Francis’s recently released apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, reflects the charism and dynamism of his namesake. The document sketches an expansive vision of the Church — joyful, missionary, and charitable.  

Evangelii Gaudium does not present a new ecclesiology: We’ve long known that the Church is its mission. And the text upholds a hermeneutic of continuity with the historical doctrine of the Catholic faith. But what makes this text remarkable is its candor, breadth, and expectations. No one can read Evangelii Gaudium without being reminded of God’s love.

But like the Gospel that Saint Francis preached, Evangelii Gaudium is demanding. Anyone who reads it honestly will be convicted. The Holy Father unmasks the false rigidity, the relativism, the consumerism, and the complacency that hampers the Christian life. Evangelii Gaudium identifies the temptations and pitfalls of Christians, with insight garnered from decades in leadership. Only a pastor, and a very good one, could have written such a thing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Bring Your Love To Me by The Avett Brothers

Fr. Thomas Rosica on Pope Francis and the Devil

The following comes from CNN:

Pope Francis seems to be obsessed with the devil.

His tweets and homilies about the devil, Satan, the Accuser, the Evil One, the Father of Lies, the Ancient Serpent, the Tempter, the Seducer, the Great Dragon, the Enemy and just plain "demon" are now legion.

For Francis, the devil is not a myth, but a real person. Many modern people may greet the Pope's insistence on the devil with a dismissive, cultural affectation, indifference, or at the most indulgent curiosity.

Yet Francis refers to the devil continually. He does not believe him to be a myth, but a real person, the most insidious enemy of the church. Several of my theologian colleagues have said that he has gone a bit overboard with the devil and hell! We may be tempted to ask, why in the devil is Pope Francis so involved with the prince of demons?

This intelligent Jesuit Pope is diving into deep theological waters, places where very few modern Catholic clerics wish to tread.

Francis' seeming preoccupation with the devil is not a theological or eschatological question as much as a call to arms, an invitation to immediate action, offering very concrete steps to do combat with the devil and the reign of evil in the world today.

In his homilies, Francis warns people strongly to avoid discouragement, to seize hope, to move on with courage and not to fall prey to negativity or cynicism.

He is drawing on the fundamental insight of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus, the Pope's own religious family. With his continual references to the devil, Pope Francis parts ways with the current preaching in the church, which is far too silent about the devil and his insidious ways or reduces him to a mere metaphor.

During the first months of Francis' pontificate in 2013, the Evil One appeared frequently in his messages. In his first major address to the cardinals who elected him, the Argentine pontiff reminded them: "Let us never yield to pessimism, to that bitterness that the devil offers us every day."

In several daily homilies in the chapel of the Vatican guest house, the Pope shared devilish stories with the small congregations rapt in attention as he homilized on taboo topics.

He has offered guidelines on how to rout the demon's strategy: First, it is Jesus who battles the devil.

The second is that "we cannot obtain the victory of Jesus over evil and the devil by halves," for as Christ said in the Gospel of Matthew, "who is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

The Pope has stressed that we must not be naive: "The demon is shrewd: he is never cast out forever, this will only happen on the last day."

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

You Are Loved by Josh Groban

Bishop-Elect Robert Barron brings commitment to New Evangelization to Los Angeles

The following comes from Angelus:

It started with a dumb ox.

Robert Barron was a student at Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Illinois. A young Dominican friar taught the class one of St. Thomas Aquinas’ arguments for God’s existence when Barron was 14.

“And for some reason it had this huge impact on me,” Father Barron said of Aquinas, “the dumb ox.” “It goes back to my teenage years and Thomas Aquinas and a sense of the reality of God that I’ve never really lost. I’d put it that way — that God exists and that God is the supreme good and that our lives should be focused on him.”

Father Barron, president/rector of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary and founder of Word on Fire, a global media ministry, has been named auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Father Barron, along with Msgr. Joseph V. Brennan and Msgr. David G. O’Connell, will be ordained auxiliary bishops this fall.

Father Barron received the call about his appointment from the papal nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, while he was watching golf.

“It was a complete surprise,” he said. “I’m excited about it. There’s a fear, and it’s something new. But I’m excited. I mean, Los Angeles. There’s a lot going on and it’s a pretty vibrant Church.”

Shortly after his ordination on May 24, 1986, Father Barron served as associate pastor at St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Park Ridge, Illinois.

He was appointed to the theological faculty of Mundelein Seminary, and has served as a visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, as well as scholar in residence at the North American Pontifical College at the Vatican.

“‘I very much identify with Pope Francis’ call for the New Evangelization, which is very much a continuation of the call that began with St. John Paul II and continued through Benedict,” Father Barron said.

“For a long time, what I’ve tried to do in my own work is lead with the positive, lead with the joyful, lead with the articulation of the life,” he said of his teaching and his Word on Fire ministry.
“I think for too long we’ve been identified as finger waggers. Here’s what you don’t do. Don’t do this, don’t do this,” he explained. “For me, that’s not the right evangelical strategy. You get to those ‘don’ts.’ But you begin with the life.”

He compared the strategy to teaching a child about baseball. You don’t begin with the arcane rules, but by bringing a child to a game to appreciate its beauty — these are great plays, these are great players.

So too with the faith.

“You start with the saints, you start with the glory of the life of Christ, you start with how lives are transformed with contact with him,” he explained. “That’s why I love those tapestries [in the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels]. You look at the saints.”

While Father Barron expects to continue his work with Word on Fire, he has no question about his priority ministry.

“I have to present to this archdiocese and its people,” he said.

Father Barron has been a regular speaker at the annual Religious Education Congress, serving as keynote in 2014. He has also spoken at St. John’s Seminary, among other locations in the archdiocese.

He will be giving the opening address at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September and will provide commentary for the papal visit to the United States on NBC.
“The Mystery of God: Who God Is And Why He Matters,” a film and study program by Father Barron and Word on Fire, is due out this fall.

Father Barron and NBC Today show correspondent Mike Leonard worked together to produce “Catholicism,” an award-winning series about the Catholic faith.

Pope Francis Appoints Fr. Robert Barron Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles

ROME - This morning, Pope Francis formally announced Father Robert Barron's appointment as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Bishop-Elect Barron is the founder of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries, host of the award-winning CATHOLICISM film series, and since 2012 has served as the Rector/President of the University of Saint Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary outside of Chicago, IL.
His website,, reaches millions of people each year. His regular YouTube videos have been viewed over 13 million times. Next to Pope Francis, he is the most-followed Catholic leader on social media.
Bishop-Elect Barron's statement is below:
It was with enormous surprise that I received word of my appointment as auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, but it is with a humble and joyful heart that I accept it. The Church of Los Angeles - the most populous in the United States-is energetic, diverse, and creative. Over the years, I've visited many times, including multiple trips to the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress in Anaheim; most recently, I was in the Archdiocese for a lecture at Thomas Aquinas College. So though I can't claim to know it well, I have been able to taste and see some of its richness.
The late Francis Cardinal George - the spiritual grandfather of Word on Fire - was a mentor and friend to me. The mission closest to his heart was the evangelization of the culture, bringing Christ to the arenas of media, politics, law, education, the arts, etc. I can't think of a more exciting field for this sort of work than Los Angeles, which is certainly one of the great cultural centers of our time.
Many might be wondering what this means for the important work of Word on Fire. The short answer is that it will certainly continue! Through the ministrations of Fr. Steve Grunow and his extremely gifted staff, we will keep bringing you my regular articles, sermons, videos, and media resources.
We have so many new projects in the works, including our new film and study program on God and atheism, titled The Mystery of God, and our beautiful new documentary series CATHOLICISM: The Pivotal Players. Those projects will continue as planned with more to come in the future.
I am grateful to all of you who follow and support Word on Fire, using our content to form yourselves and share the Catholic Faith. I thank God each and every day for you.
It is a blessing for me to work with you to introduce people to Jesus Christ and invite them to share all the gifts he wants his people to enjoy.
Please pray for me as I begin this new adventure under the Lord's providence.

 Bishop-Elect Robert Barron
July 21, 2015

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Mountain

Archbishop Georg Gänswein Speaks on the Challenges of the Church Today

The following comes from Zenit:
The Vatican rooms are impressive. As opposed to what happens in television studios, which in reality are smaller than they appear on the screen, here everything is larger: Saint Anne’s Door, the Apostolic Palace, the majestic stairway, Saint Damasus Courtyard. Historic magniloquence: some of its parts in fact are older than 500 years – splendid, but as opposed to what some continue to say, not ostentatious. In fact, I would say the opposite.
Archbishop Georg Gänswein received us in one of those rooms: not very large, red, luminous, ancient and elegant. One does not find in Archbishop Gänswein that haughtiness that one could expect from someone in his position, so close to two of the most influential persons in the world. He began to work with Cardinal Ratzinger in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1996, becoming his personal Secretary in 2003, a position that he kept at the election of the Cardinal to the Papal Seat. In 2012, he was appointed Prefect of the Papal Household and, with the new Pontificate, Francis confirmed him in that post. It was the year 2013, in fact in the month in which the intense heat paralyzed Rome, but not Pope Francis! It was August 31. Hence, Archbishop Gänswein is, to date, the only person in the history of the Church that serves two Popes contemporaneously. He lives with the German Pope: he concelebrates with him in the morning, they pray the Rosary together, and walk together for about a half hour in the Vatican Gardens. In the afternoon, instead, he works with the Argentine Pope.
* * *
Q: How do you manage to collaborate with two Popes? It doesn’t seem easy to adapt oneself to two such different personalities ...
Archbishop Gänswein: They are certainly very different between them: and for me, after a long experience as Secretary of Cardinal Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI, to begin to work also with Pope Francis was not easy. Let’s say that, using media language, I had to “render myself compatible,” because it was quite an intense change. I had already received the office of Prefect, which Francis wished to reconfirm. What my collaborators and I do is to serve. And that is all. How is this done?
It depends much on the way the Pope guides the Church. However, I must say that there is a great advantage in all this: to live and work with two Popes, and to experience this diversity, has helped me and helps me to grow humanly and spiritually.
Q: Beyond the physical differences – the shoes, the cross, etc., it seems sometimes that there is a distance between the two also in what they say ...
Archbishop Gänswein: All the stories that we heard at the beginning of the Pontificate as, for instance, that he uses black shoes, or that the material of his pectoral cross is less than silver, are secondary: they are exterior things, ways of doing things. If one looks more closely at the contents, it will be seen that in exercising the munus petrinum there is continuity with Benedict XVI. And this is right. We are talking of a South American and a German, of two very different personalities. The first is educated and formed by the Jesuit spirituality, and it is logical that his way of thinking, of doing and also of exercising the Petrine service is different from one who had first of all an academic-university formation.
Q: Francis often reminds me of John Paul II ...
Archbishop Gänswein:: Yes, he can be so, even if they arrived at the See of Peter with twenty years of difference. Both had already accumulated enormous pastoral experience, although in a very different political and cultural context. Pope Francis, after having directed a large and not easy diocese such as that of Buenos Aires; Saint John Paul II at the head of the Church of Krakow that, at the time, was the only place where one could express oneself freely. I think we can compare them in this respect, but also in some aspects of their personality.
Q: Which?
Archbishop Gänswein:: Francis, for instance, talks a lot about the “culture of encounter”: to meet persons, and to meet them as much as possible. John Paul II didn’t speak expressly of this culture, but he put it constantly into practice. It is contact with others, including physical contact, which is striking in the two Popes.
Q: Sometimes I’ve heard it said: “John Paul II is the Pope of Hope; Benedict XVI the Pope of Faith; Francis the Pope of Charity.” Although simple, do you think it’s a good analysis of the reality?
Archbishop Gänswein:: It’s difficult to summarize an entire Pontificate in a word. Every time one attempts to enclose something complex in a word one runs a risk. I would say that Pope Francis is the Pope of gestures, the Pope of Mercy. We are still on the way; in any case, after two years, I think that to describe him as “the Pope of gestures” will at least help to give an idea.
Q: Two years after his renunciation, what was Benedict referring to when speaking of his “earthly pilgrimage”?
Archbishop Gänswein:: In his last brief address at Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI spoke of the “last stage of the earthly pilgrimage.” And before he had said that he would not come down from the cross, that he would not leave the Lord. He goes up to the mountain to pray for the Church and for his Successor. His role now is spiritual: to pray for Peter’s barque. It’s important to remember that the Church is not governed only with decisions and strategies, but also and above all with prayer. The Church is a “team of prayer,” and we know well that, the more people pray the better it is. In this team the Pope Emeritus has a particular place of “pilgrim.”
Q: Some do not yet understand the renunciation and interpret it as a strategy to block some attempts to cause “great damages” ...
Archbishop Gänswein:: We could write a whole book of hypotheses and theories in this regard! On that February 11, Pope Benedict XVI read a brief and very clear statement explaining his reason. All the rest that has been said and hypothesized is altogether devoid of foundation. That there were individual persons, or even currents against Benedict, was irrelevant in regard to the renunciation. It’s obvious that a person like him had reflected long on a question of such importance. He didn’t allow himself to be intimidated by anyone. He was very clear in his conversation with Peter Seewald, several years before the renunciation: “When there are wolves, when there is danger, the shepherd must not leave his flock.” He didn’t do so then, and he has never done so; his was not a flight. This is the truth and it is the only explanation of the reason for his renunciation.
Q: On some occasions you have spoken of the “fruits” of this renunciation. What are these fruits?
Archbishop Gänswein:: Pope Benedict realized that to guide today’s Church it’s necessary to have spiritual strength but also physical strength. It was an act of very great humility to renounce the Papacy to make way for someone younger and stronger. I believe it’s a great example of love for the Lord and for the Church, an example that not all can or want to understand. Observing Pope Francis’ Pontificate, one can perceive how the image of the Church has changed for the better. Pope Benedict took the first step for the change: he opened the door to follow this path. I believe it could happen also in the future.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Priestly vocations are up in the U.S

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fr. Robert Barron on the Prophetic Papacy of Pope Francis

The following comes from Fr. Robert Barron:

In the wake of the publication of Pope Francis’s encyclical letter Laudato Si’ and of the Pope’s recent speeches in Latin America, many supporters of the capitalist economy in the West might be forgiven for thinking that His Holiness has something against them. Again and again, Pope Francis excoriates an economy based on materialism and greed, and with prophetic urgency, he speaks out against a new colonialism that exploits the labor of those in poorer countries. With startling bluntness, he characterizes the dominant economic form in the developed world as “an economy that kills.” Moreover, in a speech delivered in Bolivia, a country under the command of a socialist president, the Pope seemed, almost in a Marxist vein, to be calling on the poor to seize power from the wealthy and take command of their own lives. What do we make of this?

Well, a contextualization is in order. Pope Francis’s remarks, though strong, even a bit exaggerated, in the prophetic manner, are best understood in the framework of Catholic social teaching. One of the most significant constants in that tradition is a suspicion of socialism, understood as an economic system that denies the legitimacy of private property, undermines the free market, and fosters a class struggle between the rich and the poor, or if I can use the more classical language, between capital and labor. The modern popes, from Leo XIII to Benedict XVI, have all spoken clearly against such systems, and it is hard to deny that experience has borne them out. Economies in the radically socialist or communist mode have proven to be, at best, inefficient and, at worst, brutally oppressive. Robert Sirico, Michael Novak, Arthur Brooks, and many others are therefore right in suggesting that Catholic Social Teaching does not represent a tertium quid beyond capitalism and socialism; rather, it clearly aligns itself against socialistic arrangements and clearly for the market economy. John Paul II appreciated the free market as the economic concomitant of a democratic polity, since both rest upon the dignity of the individual and his right to self-determination. 

But this valorization of the market by no means implies that the Church advocates an unfettered capitalism. The modern Popes have consistently taught that the market functions properly only when it is circumscribed both politically and morally—and it is precisely in this context that Pope Francis’s remarks should be understood. Let us look first at the political circumscription. Pope Leo XIII and his successors have deeply felt the suffering of those who have been exploited by the market or who have not been given adequate access to its benefits. And this is why they have supported political/legal reforms, including child labor laws, minimum wage requirements, anti-trust provisions, work day restrictions, the right of workers to unionize, etc. All of these legal constraints, they have taught, should not be construed as erosions of the market, but rather as attempts to make it more humane, more just, and more widely accessible. To be sure, people of intelligence and good will can and do disagree regarding the precise application of these principles, debating for example just how high the minimum wage should be fixed, just how stringently anti-trust laws should be interpreted, just how the rights of labor and capital should be balanced, etc. And neither popes nor bishops nor priests should get into the nitty-gritty of those conversations, best leaving the details to those expert in the relevant disciplines. But popes, bishops, and priests can indeed call for political reforms if a market has become exploitative and hence self-destructive. 

Read the rest here.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Totus Tuus

Pope Francis Commemorates Bicentenary of St. John Bosco's Birth

The following comes from Zenit:
In a message on the Bicentenary of St. John Bosco's birth, Pope Francis praised the Salesian founder, saying that the heart of his vision was "love in action, reaching out to those in need."
According to Vatican Radio, the letter was signed on St. John Bosco's feast day, June 24th and sent to the head of Salesian order, Fr. Angel Fernandez Artime.
"Don Bosco teaches us not to stand on the sidelines but rather to work on the frontlines in offering youth an experience of inclusive education that involves the whole human person," he wrote.
The Holy Father highlighted that while Italy and Europe has changed significantly in the last 200 years, today's youth are still "open to life and the encounter with God and with others." However, the Pope also said that youth continue to face "discouragement, spiritual anemia and marginalization."
Don Bosco's example, he continued, stresses the need for "the love of the educator expressed through concrete and efficacious gestures."
The Saint of Turin's complete trust in God, he said, "brought him to go out and make courageous decisions: the choice to dedicate himself to poor youth, with the intention of realizing a vast movement of poor people for the poor."
The 78 year old Pontiff went on to encourage the Salesian order to continue to accompany youth "In the search for a synthesis between faith, culture and life, at times when decisions are difficult, when trying to interpret a complex reality."
Concluding his address, Pope Francis called the Salesians to assume the inheritance left by Don Bosco in speaking and acting "with youth and for youth."