Monday, August 31, 2015

Salve Regina sung by the monks of the Grande Chartreuse

The Hill of Taize

Brother Roger : All of us are seekers from Taizé on Vimeo.

Life at Taizé from Taizé on Vimeo.
The following comes from

Here is a translation of a reflection made by Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor of L'Osservatore Romano, for the 70th anniversary of Brother Roger Schutz's arrival on the hill of Taizé in France.

Brother Roger started the ecumenical Taizé community, and was killed five years ago at age 90.

* * *

It was Aug. 20, 1940, 70 years ago, when Roger Schutz arrived for the first time in Taizé. In that summer of war in a France subjected to the invader, the Swiss Calvinist pastor certainly could not imagine that in a not too distant future -- already during the decade of the 50s -- other European young people, many and later very many more, would climb that hill in the heart of Burgundy, in an undulating and gentle rural region on whose horizon often great clouds are seen. In the beginning they arrived spontaneously, as he, perhaps, in autostop; later from all the continent in organized groups, especially during the summer or at Easter.

In the liturgical calendar, Aug. 20 is the feast of St. Bernard, who lived in Citeaux, not far from Taizé, which in turn is just a few kilometers from Cluny: under the sign of monastic reforms that have marked the history of the Church. And already in 1940 the young Schutz began to take in refugees and Jews, thinking of a plan of common life with some friends, which he began two years later in Geneva because of the impossibility of staying in France. He returned to Taizé during the war, and he renewed his hospitality, this time to German prisoners and orphan children. Whoever arrives today finds a small bungalow, just beyond the old houses and the small Romanesque church, surrounded by a minuscule cemetery, and a welcome that embodies the ancient hospitality in the name of Christ inscribed in the Rule of St. Benedict.

In fact, the monastic vocation had always attracted Roger and his companions, all of Protestant origin, but sensitive to the wealth of the different Christian currents; they committed themselves already in 1949 to a form of common life in the vein of Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality, delineated some years later in the Rule of Taizé. That same year Brother Roger was received [in audience] by Pius XII together with one of his first companions, Max Thurian, and since 1958 his meetings with the Popes -- John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II, who was on the hill in 1986 -- became an annual custom, expressing a closeness that led, from the end of the decade of the 60s, to the entrance in the community of a growing number of Catholics. And Brother Roger, already several years before his murder at the hands of an unstable woman on Aug. 16, 2005, designated a young German Catholic, Alois Loser, as his successor in the leadership of the community.

In 1962 the prior, with some brothers, began in the most absolute secret, a series of visits to some countries of Eastern Europe, while in August a modern Church of Reconciliation was inaugurated in Taizé. A very large space -- but which soon had to be enlarged, in the beginning with tents, to accommodate the thousands of persons who arrived in the weeks of summer -- planned for prayer three times a day in several languages. With the long moments of silence and meditative songs now very widespread, these three daily meetings were what profoundly impressed those who arrived for the first time on the hill.

For the opening of a "council of young people" in August of 1974, more than 40,000 arrived in Taizé from the whole of Europe, housed in a camp of tents, in a precariousness aggravated by torrential rain. Passing imperturbable among them was Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, sent by Paul VI, speaking amiably to young people little more than 20 years old who approached him, stained with mud and tired, but impressed by the community's ecumenical wager. To them, for decades, in the line of the great Christian tradition, Brother Roger addressed a brief meditation every afternoon and, after the prayer, he paused to meet with and hear those who wished to speak with him or approach him.

This was in the years of youthful rebellion and the estrangement of many from the faith, the revolution of Taizé. Struggle and contemplation the prior decided to title the newspaper of those years, while the community began a "pilgrimage of trust" in the various continents. Seeking reconciliation and sharing the poverties of the world, reviving the virtually extinguished faith in numerous contexts of Central Europe, sustaining its little flame in countries suffocated by Communism, accustoming many young Catholics to an ever greater openness.

Taizé never wished to be a movement, but it always stimulated people to be involved in parishes and in local realities: practicing hospitality, encouraging the peacemakers of the evangelical beatitude, working for the union between Churches and communities of believers in Christ, showing vitality and efficacy in an ecumenical spiritual journey. That one be able to reconcile in oneself -- Brother Roger, notre frere, had learned it as a youth and witnessed to it during his whole life, authentic pioneer of an "ecumenism of holiness," as Cardinal Bertone wrote in the name of Benedict XVI -- the riches of the different Christian confessions: the attention to the Bible stressed in Protestantism, the splendor of Orthodox liturgy, the centrality of the Catholic Eucharist, before which always shines in Taizé a little light that signifies adoration of the One Lord.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Yosemite National Park

Time Lapse Tour of Yosemite National Park from Henry Jun Wah Lee on Vimeo.

Pure Religion: Scott Hahn Reflects on the Sunday Readings

The following comes from Scott Hahn:
Today's Gospel casts Jesus in a prophetic light, as one having authority to interpret God's law.
Jesus' quotation from Isaiah today is ironic (see Isaiah 29:13). In observing the law, the Pharisees honor God by ensuring that nothing unclean passes their lips. In this, however, they've turned the law inside out, making it a matter of simply performing certain external actions.
The gift of the law, which we hear God giving to Israel in today's First Reading, is fulfilled in Jesus' gospel, which shows us the law's true meaning and purpose (seeMatthew 5:17).
The law, fulfilled in the gospel, is meant to form our hearts, to make us pure, able to live in the Lord's presence. The law was given that we might live and enter into the inheritance promised to us -- the kingdom of God, eternal life.
Israel, by its observance of the law, was meant to be an example to surrounding nations. As James tells us in today's Epistle, the gospel was given to us that we might have new birth by the Word of truth. By living the Word we've received, we're to be examples of God's wisdom to those around us, the "first fruits" of a new humanity.
This means we must be "doers" of the Word, not merely hearers of it. As we sing in today's Psalm and hear again in today's Epistle, we must work for justice, taking care of our brothers and sisters, and living by the truth God has placed in our hearts.
The Word given to us is a perfect gift. We should not add to it through vain and needless devotions. Nor should we subtract from it by picking and choosing which of His laws to honor.
"Hear me," Jesus says in today's Gospel. Today, we're called to examine our relationship to God's law.
Is the practice of our religion a pure listening to Jesus, a humble welcoming of the Word planted in us and able to save our souls? Or are we only paying lip-service?

Saturday, August 29, 2015

After All by David Crowder

A Quote from Romans 8

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."  Romans 8:37-39

Feast of the day: Beheading of John the Baptist

There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: "I am the truth"? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ.

Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer.

Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men. He was locked away in the darkness of prison, through he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ.

To endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather is was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward. Since death was ever at hand, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ's name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: "You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake." He tells us why it is Christ's gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: "The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us."

from a homily by Saint Bede the Venerable on the death of John the Baptist.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Miserere: Prayer of Repentance (Psalm 51)

Have mercy on me, God, in your goodness
in your abundant compassion
blot out my offense.
Wash away all my guilt;
from my sin cleanse me.

For I know my offense;
my sin is always before me.
Against you alone have I sinned;
I have done such evil in your sight
That you are just in your sentence,
blameless when you condemn.
True, I was born guilty,
a sinner, even as my mother conceived me.
Still, you insist on sincerity of heart;
in my inmost being teach me wisdom.

Cleanse me with hyssop, that I may be pure;
wash me, make me whiter than snow.
Let me hear sounds of joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Turn away your face from my sins;
blot out all my guilt.

A clean heart create for me, God;
renew in me a steadfast spirit.
Do not drive me from your presence,
nor take from me your holy spirit.
Restore my joy in your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.

I will teach the wicked your ways,
that sinners may return to you.
Rescue me from death, God, my saving God,
that my tongue may praise your healing power.
Lord, open my lips;
my mouth will proclaim your praise.
For you do not desire sacrifice;
a burnt offering you would not accept.
My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit;
God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.

–Psalm 51:3-19

Saint of the day: Augustine

Today is the feast of one of the all time greatest saints and theologians in the history of the Church. Today we remember St. Augustine of Hippo. The following comes from the site:

St. Augustine of Hippo is the patron of brewers because of his conversion from a former life of loose living, which included parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions. His complete turnaround and conversion has been an inspiration to many who struggle with a particular vice or habit they long to break.

This famous son of St. Monica was born in Africa and spent many years of his life in wicked living and in false beliefs. Though he was one of the most intelligent men who ever lived and though he had been brought up a Christian, his sins of impurity and his pride darkened his mind so much, that he could not see or understand the Divine Truth anymore. Through the prayers of his holy mother and the marvelous preaching of St. Ambrose, Augustine finally became convinced that Christianity was the one true religion. Yet he did not become a Christian then, because he thought he could never live a pure life. One day, however, he heard about two men who had suddenly been converted on reading the life of St. Antony, and he felt terrible ashamed of himself. "What are we doing?" he cried to his friend Alipius. "Unlearned people are taking Heaven by force, while we, with all our knowledge, are so cowardly that we keep rolling around in the mud of our sins!"

Full of bitter sorrow, Augustine flung himself out into the garden and cried out to God, "How long more, O Lord? Why does not this hour put an end to my sins?" Just then he heard a child singing, "Take up and read!" Thinking that God intended him to hear those words, he picked up the book of the Letters of St. Paul, and read the first passage his gaze fell on. It was just what Augustine needed, for in it, St. Paul says to put away all impurity and to live in imitation of Jesus. That did it! From then on, Augustine began a new life.

He was baptized, became a priest, a bishop, a famous Catholic writer, Founder of religious priests, and one of the greatest saints that ever lived. He became very devout and charitable, too. On the wall of his room he had the following sentence written in large letters: "Here we do not speak evil of anyone." St. Augustine overcame strong heresies, practiced great poverty and supported the poor, preached very often and prayed with great fervor right up until his death. "Too late have I loved You!" he once cried to Go
d, but with his holy life he certainly made up for the sins he committed before his conversion. His feast day is August 28th.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Don Bosco: "Be brave...!"

"Be brave and try to detach your heart from worldly things. Do your utmost to banish darkness from your mind and come to understand what true, selfless piety is. Through confession, endeavor to purify your heart of anything which may still taint it. Enliven your faith, which is essential to understand and achieve piety."

~Don Bosco

Saint of the Day: Monica

Today is the Feast of St. Monica! You can learn more about this wonderful saint from the Patron Saints Index! The following are the words of St. Augustine about his mother:

The day was now approaching when my mother Monica would depart from this life; you know that day, Lord, though we did not. She and I happened to be standing by ourselves at a window that overlooked the garden in the courtyard of the house. At the time we were in Ostia on the Tiber. And so the two of us, all alone, were enjoying a very pleasant conversation, "forgetting the past and pushing on to what is ahead.." We were asking one another in the presence of the Truth - for you are the Truth - what it would be like to share the eternal life enjoyed by the saints, which "eye has not seen, nor ear heard, which has not even entered into the heart of man." We desired with all our hearts to drink from the streams of your heavenly fountain, the fountain of life.

That was the substance of our talk, though not the exact words. But you know, O Lord, that in the course of our conversation that day, the world and its pleasures lost all their attraction for us. My mother said, "Son, as far as I am concerned, nothing in this life now gives me any pleasure. I do not know why I am still here, since I have no further hopes in this world. I did have one reason for wanting to live a little longer: to see you become a Catholic Christian before I died. God has lavished his gifts on me in that respect, for I know that you have even renounced earthly happiness to be his servant. So what am I doing here?"

I do not really remember how I answered her. Shortly, within five days or thereabouts, she fell sick with a fever. Then one day during the course of her illness she became unconscious and for a while she was unaware of her surroundings. My brother and I rushed to her side, but she regained consciousness quickly. She looked at us as we stood there and asked in a puzzled voice: "Where was I?"

We were overwhelmed with grief, but she held her gave steadily upon us, and spoke further: "Here you shall bury your mother." I remained silent as I held back my tears. However, my brother haltingly expressed his hope that she might not die in a strange country but in her own land, since her end would be happier there. When she heard this, her face was filled with anxiety, and she reproached him with a glance because he had entertained such earthly thoughts. Then she looked at me and spoke: "Look what he is saying." Thereupon she said to both of us, "Bury my body wherever you will; let not care of it cause you any concern. One thing only I ask you, that you remember me at the altar of the Lord wherever you may be." Once our mother had expressed this desire as best she could, she fell silent as the pain of her illness increased.

- from the Confessions of Saint Augustine of Hippo

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

All The Poor And Powerless by the Digital Age

Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá: Prince of the Pampas!

Today Salesians from all around the world celebrate Blessed Ceferino Namuncurá:

He was born at Chimpay, a small town in Valle Medio, Río Negro Province, Argentina, the sixth child of Rosario Burgos and a Mapuche cacique, Manuel Namuncurá. He was baptized by a Salesian missionary priest, Domingo Milanesio, at the age of eight.

Namuncurá's early years were spent by the Río Negro river, and it was here that he, according to legend, miraculously survived a fall into the river.

His father Manuel, Chief of the Mapuches, promoted to honorary Coronel in the Argentine army, decided that his son study in Buenos Aires, in order to prepare himself "to be useful to his people." Thanks to the friendship of Manuel with General Luís María Campos, Minister of War and Navy of Argentina, the boy came to study in the National Workshops of the Navy as a carpenter's apprentice. There he would remain for three months. Ceferino wrote to his father that he was not happy in that place and Manuel then asked former Argentine president Luís Sánchez Peña's advise. He recommended to Coronel Manuel Namuncurá that he send the boy to the Salesians of Don Bosco.

On September 20, 1897, Ceferino went to study with the Salesians at the Colegio Pío IX, a technical academy at Almagro, Buenos Aires, where he was given a Catholic education.

There he showed himself to be an excellent student and choral musician. From April 2, 1901, Carlos Gardel, afterward legendary tango singer and film actor, became a student at the academy and sang along with Ceferino in the chorus. The Mapuche lad always earned first place.

When he finished his studies, Manuel his father wanted him back home, to serve as interpreter and secretary, but Ceferino was already enthusiastic for becoming a Salesian priest.

Although his health was already generally frail, Ceferino, who was beloved by all his Salesian mentors, began studies for the priesthood. In 1904, he departed for Italy accompanying Mgr. Giovanni Cagliero, a former disciple of Don Bosco who was to become an Archbishop. Pope Pius X received them in September, after which Namuncurá moved to Turin and later to the Salesian College "Villa Sora" in Frascati, to continue his education. He became increasingly ill during the Italian winter and was taken to Rome, were he finally succumbed to pulmonary tuberculosis on May 11, 1905, at the Fate bene fratelli hospital.

In 1924 his remains where returned to Argentina and placed at Fortín Mercedes, in the southern part of Buenos Aires Province.

At his birthplace of Chimpay was erected a small chapel, where believers from Río Negro Province and beyond began to pray for his intercession. In 1945, a request for his beatification was elevated to the Holy See. Between May 13 and July 10, 1947, the Catholic Church started officially the process for Canonization of Ceferino Namuncurá, with 21 then-living witnesses deposing evidence in favour of his saintly virtues.

On June 22, 1972, Pope Paul VI promulgated the Decree of Heroism of His Virtues and Ceferino was thus proclaimed venerable, becoming the first Catholic Argentine to receive that title and the first South American aborigine.

The devotion to Ceferino Namuncurá, the saintly young Mapuche, known popularly as The Lily of Patagonia ("El lirio de la Patagonia") became very extended in Buenos Aires and throughout Argentina. In particular the humbler classes of Argentina recognise him, because of his indigenous features, as one of their own. The affection of the people of Argentina for this selfless young man is quite touchingly sincere and images and representations of his gentle face are myriad. Because of his belonging to the Salesians of Don Bosco, who always faithfully promoted his remembrance, his figure started to become familiar worldwide, anywhere where the Salesian work, introducing Ceferino as a model of youthful holiness and selflessness.

In 1991 his relics were translated from the small sanctuary chapel to the roomier Sanctuary of Mary, Help of Christians, at the same town of Fortín Mercedes.

In 2000 a committee of Vatican pathologists declared that the healing of the uterine cancer of a young mother, Valeria Herrera from Córdoba, Argentina, could not be explained medically, with which it was left to Church authorities to decree that it was a miracle due to the intercession of Ceferino Namuncurá. This was one of the main facts that opened the way for the beatification of Ceferino.

Pope Benedict XVI finally decreed his beatification on 6 July 2007. The ceremony of beatification was held in Chimpay, Argentina, on November 11, 2007. It was one few beatification ceremonies held outside the Vatican and in the blessed's own land (traditionally it is celebrated in Saint Peter Square in Rome); it was the first beatification of a South American aborigine; Blessed Ceferino was beatified by Cardenal Tarcisio Bertone, a Salesian of Don Bosco and Vatican Secretary of State.

Ceferino's liturgical calendar memorial as a Catholic beatus was established on August 26.

Our Lady of Częstochowa

The following comes from the Sacred Destinations site:

 According to tradition, the icon of Jasna Góra was painted by Luke the Evangeliston a tabletop built by Jesus himself, and the icon was discovered by St. Helen, mother of Emperor Constantine and collector of Christian relics in the Holy Land. The icon was then enshrined in the imperial city of Constantinople, according to the legend, where it remained for the next 500 years.

In 803, the painting is said to have been given as a wedding gift from the Byzantine emperor to a Greek princess, who married a Ruthenian nobleman. The image was then placed in the royal palace at Belz, where it remained for nearly 600 years.

History first combines with tradition upon the icon's arrival in Poland in 1382 with a Polish army fleeing the Tartars, who had struck it with an arrow.

Legend has it that during the looting of Belz, a mysterious cloud enveloped the chapel containing the image. A monastery was founded in Częstochowa to enshrine the icon in 1386, and soon King Jagiello built a cathedral around the chapel containing the icon.

However, the image soon came under attack once again. In 1430, Hussites (pre-Reformation reformers) attacked the monastery, slashed the Virgin's face with a sword, and left it desecrated in a puddle of blood and mud.

It is said that when the monks pulled the icon from the mud, a miraculous fountain appeared, which they used to clean the painting. The icon was repainted in Krakow, but both the arrow mark and the gashes from the sword were left and remain clearly visible today.

The miracle for which the Black Madonna of Częstochowa is most famous occurred in 1655, when Swedish troops were about to invade Częstochowa. A group of Polish soldiers prayed fervently before the icon for deliverance, and the enemy retreated. In 1656, King John Casimir declared Our Lady of Częstochowa "Queen of Poland" and made the city the spiritual capital of the nation.

The Virgin again came to the aid of her people in 1920, when the Soviet Russian Red Army gathered on the banks of the Vistula River, preparing to attack Warsaw. The citizens and soldiers fervently prayed to Our Lady of Częstochowa, and on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, she appeared in the clouds above Warsaw. The Russians were defeated in a series of battles later dubbed the "Miracle at the Vistula."

During Nazi occupation, Hilter prohibited pilgrimages to Jasna Góra, but many still secretly made the journey. In 1945, after Poland was liberated, half a million pilgrims journeyed to Częstochowa to express their gratitude. On September 8, 1946, 1.5 million people gathered at the shrine to rededicate the entire nation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. During the Cold War, Jasna Góra was a center of anti-Communist resistance.

Pope John Paul II, a native of Poland, was a fervent devotee of the Virgin Mary and of her icon at Częstochowa. As pope, he made pilgrimages to pray before the Black Madonna in 1979, 1983, 1991, and 1997. In 1991, he held his Sixth World Youth Day at Czetochowa, which was attended by 350,000 young people from across Europe.

Other popes have honored the "Queen of Poland" as well. Pope Clement XI officially recognized the miraculous nature of the image in 1717 and in 1925 Pope Pius XI designated May 3 a feast day in her honor. Pope Benedict XVI visited the shrine on May 26, 2006.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

"Why Me Lord" by Johnny Cash

Pope John Paul II: Fearless in hope and love

The following comes from the Washington Post:
In some cities in the USA when a local team wins a basketball game, crowds burn cars. But when John Paul II’s body was lying on view in St. Peter’s Basilica, one first responder, police officer and volunteer worker after the next told me that there had not been a single act of civil disobedience or problem reported. That means something. During the days which preceded his funeral, armed with media credentials I was able to move freely through the checkpoints and channels for the millions, literally, of people who stood in slow moving lines for scores of hours to see the dead Pope’s body for the last time. Peacefulness, prayer and patience reigned.

At the end of the funeral, the wind blew closed the cover of Book of the Gospels. Men lifted John Paul’s coffin onto their shoulders. They stopped before the open doors of the Basilica and slowly pin-wheeled, as if to give him one last public wave. A shout went up, simultaneous because of the huge video screens along the nearby streets. That shout, which echoed across a silent and motionless Rome, may have been the single loudest purely human sound ever raised on high in that City of over 3000 years.
There began the rising chant of the people, “Santo Subito… Sainthood Soon”. It may have been a manifestation of the old adage Vox Populi Vox Dei… The Voice of the People is the Voice of God. I don’t know that, but it was unlike any chant I had ever heard before. Of course when in Rome you hear the word “subito,” especially from a waiter, you almost never expect what you’ve requested to happen quickly. And yet here we are at his beatification.
Leaving aside the issue of the record-breaking speed of the late Pope John Paul II’s beatification (2220 days, 15 days faster the Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta), we should all be able to remember and agree on some of the achievements of his life as a good man, a faithful member of his Catholic Church, and life-long disciple of the Lord and Savior he so obviously loved.
A pebble can prompt a tumultuous landslide. John Paul dropped a great many stones. Many of them are still gathering speed. On the geopolitical plane, the visit of John Paul II to his native Poland after his election as pope helped to diminish worldwide the soul annihilating forces of atheistic communism. Within the church, after a decade and more of internal rebellion and chaos, John Paul’s manifest confidence, love of neighbor and focus on the Redeemer of man initiated the gradual rebuilding of order and morale, especially among young people, which continues still under the pontificate of Pope Benedict.
From the early loss of his parents and the hardship of a youth under Nazi occupation, including forced labor and serious injury, to the sorrow of seeing his beloved Poland and her people suffer under communism, from witnessing open defiance on the part of clergy and theologians within the church to being shot by an assassin in St. Peter’s Square, from the horror of emerging of stories about abuse of children, to the ever increasing agony of Parkinson’s Disease which sapped his vitality and imprisoned him in physical weakness, John Paul radiated hope.
Even as he became smaller, he seemed to become all the greater, for it was Christ who increased in him. Young people were inspired by his joy. The frail elderly man gradually brightened as a beacon of hope to us all. Let us not forget that we too are daily drawing closer to our own decline and death with their attendant pains and challenges. We will be no less precious and valuable when we grow weaker. In his choice to suffer publicly, John Paul taught us that love of God and beauty of soul are the truly human values which matter, not wealth or youthful beauty or passing worldly goods. John Paul stood as a sign of contradiction in an increasingly shallow and materialist age.
John Paul strode onto the church’s stage announcing a virile, muscular Catholicism even as he relentlessly taught in his writing and preaching about the dignity of the human person, that we must not treat others – especially women, unborn and the elderly - as objects to be used or discarded for our own selfish convenience. Each person, from the defenseless unborn to the defenseless senior, is precious in God’s sight and made in God’s image and likeness. John Paul’s “theology of the body,” as it has been dubbed, presented a view of man with which countless young people were able to resonate.
As Blessed John Paul, or just plain pope, or simply Karol, he was a giant of a man who persevered in his simple message to his very last heartbeat: Do not be afraid to love your Lord with all your heart and strength and love your neighbor as you love yourself.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Saint Bartholomew the Apostle

The saint of the day is the Apostle Bartholomew. Here is the bio from
St. Bartholomew, 1st. century, one of the 12.
All that is known of him with certainty is that he is mentioned in the synoptic gospels and Acts as one of the twelve apostles. His name, a patronymic, means "son of Tolomai" and scholars believe he is the same as Nathanael mentioned in John, who says he is from Cana and that Jesus called him an "Israelite...incapable of deceit." The Roman Martyrology says he preached in India and Greater Armenia, where he was flayed and beheaded by King Astyages. Tradition has the place as Abanopolis on the west coast of the Caspian Sea and that he also preached in Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt. The Gospel ofBartholomew is apochryphal and was condemned in the decree of Pseudo-Gelasius. Feast Day August 24.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Wanderer by Johnny Cash and U2

A Great Chesterton Quote

"Whenever monks come back, marriages will come back."  G.K. Chesterton

Pope Francis: The Eucharist is 'Indispensable Nourishment'

The following comes from

'Who is Jesus to you?' This is the question Pope Francis called on the faithful to ask themselves during his weekly Angelus address today at noon in St. Peter's Square.
The Holy Father recalled the day's reading from the Gospel of John in which Jesus, one day after His miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish, proclaims His discourse on the "Bread of Life," in which He had said He was the Bread which came down from Heaven and very clearly alluded to the sacrifice of His own life.
Those words, the Pope noted, provoked disappointment in the people, "who considered them unworthy of the Messiah, not 'winning.'" Francis noted how people wanted to hear about a mission that Jesus would accomplish right away and how, in this sense, they failed to understand the Messiah's mission.
"The words of Jesus always make us uncomfortable. They make us uncomfortable, for example, with regard to the spirit of the world, of worldliness," Francis said, noting that Jesus' divine origin, the action of the Holy Spirit, and faith are the three elements of the 'key' Jesus offers us to be able to understand Him and His mission.
Despite lack of belief and some disciples deserting him, Francis observed, Jesus does not take back or soften His words. "In fact," Francis said, "He forces us to make a clear choice: either to be with Him or separated from Him." Loyalty to God, the Pontiff stressed, is a matter of loyalty to a person: Jesus. 
"All that we have in the world does not satisfy our hunger for the infinite. We need Jesus: to be with Him, to nourish ourselves at His table, His words of eternal life! Believing in Jesus means to make Him the center, the meaning of our life."
Christ, the Pope said, "is not an 'accessory element': He is the 'living bread,' the indispensable nourishment. Attaching ourselves to Him, in a real relationship of faith and love, does not mean being chained, but being profoundly free, always on a journey."
Pope Francis continued, calling on all faithful to ask themselves certain questions: “Who is Jesus for me?” A name? An idea? Only some historic person, or ... Someone who loves me, who gave His life for me, and walks with me?"
"Who is Jesus for you? Do you try to get to know Him? Do you remain with His word? … Do you bring your pocket-Gospel with you to read it in whatever place you are in?" Francis underscored how the more time we spend with the Lord, the greater our desire is to be with Him.
Following his Angelus address, the Holy Father renewed his appeal for peace in Ukraine. "With deep concern, I follow the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which accelerated again in recent weeks," he said. "I renew my heartfelt appeal for the commitments undertaken to achieve peace might be respected; and that, with the help of organizations and persons of good will, there might be a response to the humanitarian emergency in the country.”
“May the Lord grant peace to Ukraine," the Pope prayed, noting the nation is preparing to celebrate its Independence Day tomorrow. "May the Virgin Mary intercede for us!" he said.
In his subsequent greetings to Roman pilgrims and those from various countries, Francis gave a special shout out to the new seminarians of the Pontifical North American College in Rome as they embark upon their theological studies. 
Pope Francis concluded, wishing all those gathered a good Sunday, lunch and telling them to pray for him as well as stop for a little bit each day to ask themselves the question: 'Who is Jesus for me?'

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Rest in God

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange:

We all suffer in this world more or less, either from anxiety of mind, or sorrow of heart, or pain of body. And nevertheless we all long for rest; we seek it eagerly; and we wear ourselves out all our lives in this search without ever attaining the ob­ject of our desires.
Where is rest to be found? Where shall we seek it? This is a most interesting question if ever there was one.
Some men, in fact the greater number, seek their rest in the enjoyment of the riches, pleasures, and honors of this life. What care do they not take to secure these things for themselves, to preserve them, to increase them, and to accumulate them?
Do they really find rest in these things? No. How would rest be found in these perishing things, which cannot even sat­isfy the passion that desired them; in things that have no proportion with the wants of the human heart, that leave it always empty, always devoured by a still more ardent thirst; in things that are always being disputed and envied and torn furiously by one person from another? What rest and stability can be found in things that are change itself? If the foundation on which we build our rest is always moving, is it not a necessary consequence that we must experience the same agitation?
Let everyone consult himself; experience is the most posi­tive of proofs. What man ever tasted rest in the midst of the greatest treasures, the liveliest pleasures, the most flattering honors? Rest is not in these things: everyone knows this; and yet it is in these things that man persists in seeking it. Men ex­haust themselves in desires, in projects, in enterprises, and they never succeed in finding a single moment of rest. If they would only consult their reason, it would tell them that in this way they can never find rest. What blindness! What folly!
Others establish their rest in themselves, and in doing this, they think they are much wiser than those who seek it in exte­rior things. But are they really wise? Is man made to be suffi­cient for himself? Can he find in himself the principle of his rest? His ideas change every day; his heart is in a perpetual state of unrest; he is constantly imagining new systems of hap­piness, and he finds this happiness nowhere. If he is alone, he is devoured with weariness. If he is in company, however se­lect and agreeable it may be, it soon becomes tiresome to him; his reflections exhaust and torment him. Study and reading may amuse him and distract him for a time, but they cannot fill up the void in his heart. This is the kind of rest that human wisdom promises to its followers and for which it invites them to give up everything else, to isolate themselves, and to concentrate their attention on themselves. It is a deceitful rest, which is not exempt from the most violent agitations and which is at least as hard for man to bear as the tumult of his passions!
Where, then, is rest to be found, if we can find it neither in the good things of this world nor in ourselves?
It is to be found in God, and in God alone. Jesus Christ came into the world to teach us this truth, and it is the greatest lesson that He has given us. But how few there are who profit by it!
“Thou hast made us for Thyself,” cries St. Augustine, “and our heart finds no rest until it reposes in Thee.” This truth is the first principle of all morality; reason, religion, and experience all unite in proving it to us.

Fr. Robert Barron on the Queenship of Mary

The following comes from the American Catholic site:

Pius XII established this feast in 1954. But Mary’s queenship has roots in Scripture. At the Annunciation, Gabriel announced that Mary’s Son would receive the throne of David and rule forever. At the Visitation, Elizabeth calls Mary “mother of my Lord.” As in all the mysteries of Mary’s life, Mary is closely associated with Jesus: Her queenship is a share in Jesus’ kingship. We can also recall that in the Old Testament the mother of the king has great influence in court.

In the fourth century St. Ephrem called Mary “Lady” and “Queen.” Later Church fathers and doctors continued to use the title. Hymns of the 11th to 13th centuries address Mary as queen: “Hail, Holy Queen,” “Hail, Queen of Heaven,” “Queen of Heaven.” The Dominican rosary and the Franciscan crown as well as numerous invocations in Mary’s litany celebrate her queenship.

The feast is a logical follow-up to the Assumption and is now celebrated on the octave day of that feast. In his encyclical To the Queen of Heaven, Pius XII points out that Mary deserves the title because she is Mother of God, because she is closely associated as the New Eve with Jesus’ redemptive work, because of her preeminent perfection and because of her intercessory power.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Remembering Our Lady of Knock!

August 21st is the Feast of Our Lady of Knock! The following summary comes from the Catholic Tradition site.

On the evening of August 21, 1879 Mary McLoughlin, the housekeeper to the parish priest of Knock, County Mayo, ireland, was astonished to see the outside south wall of the church bathed in a mysterious light; there were three figures standing in front of the wall, which she mistook for replacements of the stone figures destroyed in a storm. She rushed through the rain to her friend Margaret Byrne's house.

After a half hour Mary decided to leave and Margaret's sister Mary agreed to walk home with her. As they passed the church they saw and amazing vision very clearly: Standing out from the gable and to the west of it appeared the Blessed Virgin, St. Joseph and St. John. The figure of the Blessed Virgin was life-size, while the others seemed to be neither as large nor as tall. They stood a little away from the gable wall about two feet from the ground. The Virgin was erect with her eyes toward Heaven, and she was wearing a large white cloak hanging in full folds; on her head was a large crown.

Mary Byrne ran to tell her family while Mary McLoughlin gazed at the apparition. Soon a crowd gathered and all saw the apparition. The parish priest, Archdeacon Cavanaugh, did not come out, however, and his absence was a disappointment to the devout villagers. Among the witnesses were Patrick Hill and John Curry. As Patrick later described the scene: 'The figures were fully rounded, as if they had a body and life. They did not speak but, as we drew near, they retreated a little towards the wall.' Patrick reported that he got close enough to make out the words in the book held by the figure of St. John.

An old woman named Bridget trench drew closer to embrace the feet of the Virgin, but the figure seemed always beyond reach. Others out in the fields and some distance away saw a strange light around the church. The vision lasted for about three hours and then faded.

The next day a group of villagers went to see the priest, who accepted the their report as genuine; he wrote to the diocesan Bishop of Tuam; then the Church set up a commission to interview a number of the people claiming to witness the apparition. The diocesan hierarchy was not convinced, and some members of the commission ridiculed the visionaries, alleging they were victims of a hoax perpetrated by the local Protestant constable! But the ordinary people were not so skeptical, and the first pilgrimages to knock began in 1880. Two years later Archbishop John Joseph Lynch of Toronto made a visit to the parish and claimed he had been healed by the Virgin of Knock.

In due course many of the witnesses died. But Mary Byrne married, raised six children, living her entire life in Knock. When interviewed again in 1963 at the age of eighty-six, her account did not vary from the first report she gave in 1879.

The village of Knock was transformed by the thousands who came to commemorate the vision and to ask for healing for others and themselves. The local church was too small to accommodate the crowds. In 1976 a new church, Our Lady Queen of Ireland, was erected. It holds more than two thousand and needs to, for each year more than a half million visitors arrive to pay their respects to the Blessed Virgin.

The Church approved the the apparition in 1971 as being quite probable, although it has never been formally stated. The Shrine at Knock is opened year round. In 1994 three life-sized statues were erected of Our Lady, St. Joseph and St. John.

Form more information of Our Lady of Knock please click here!

Here are the lyrics to this beautiful song:
There were people of all ages
gathered ‘round the gable wall
poor and humble men and women,
little children that you called

We are gathered here before you,
and our hearts are just the same
filled with joy at such a vision,
as we praise your name

Golden Rose, Queen of Ireland,
all my cares and troubles cease
as we kneel with love before you,
Lady of Knock, my Queen of Peace

Though your message was unspoken,
still the truth in silence lies
as we gaze upon your vision,
and the truth I try to find

here I stand with John the teacher,
and with Joseph at your side
and I see the Lamb of God,
on the Altar glorified

And the Lamb will conquer
and the woman clothed in the sun
will shine Her light on everyone

and the lamb will conquer
and the woman clothed in the sun,
will shine Her light on everyone

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Struggle by Tenth Avenue North

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Break Every Chain by The Digital Age

A Prayer for the Discouraged

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Misa Criolla (A Favorite of Pope Francis)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Pope Francis: The Eucharist is Jesus giving himself to us


"The great temptation of the Catholic ... is the temptation to intellectual pride. It is so obvious that most of his critics are talking without in the least knowing what they are talking about, that he is sometimes a little provoked towards the very un-Christian logic of answering a fool according to his folly. He is a little bit disposed to luxuriate in secret, as it were, over the much greater subtlety and richness of the philosophy he inherits; and only answer a bewildered barbarian so as to bewilder him still more. He is tempted to ironical agreements or even to disguising himself as a dunce."

("The Thing," New York: Sheed & Ward, 1929, p. 134)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Remembering the Miracles of Don Bosco as we Celebrate His Bicentenary

The following comes from the Catholic Exchange: 
One well-authenticated cure by Fr. John Bosco took place the same year that six boys were healed of smallpox at Lanzo. It occurred about 5 p.m. on May 16, the evening of Pentecost, in the Church of Mary Help of Christians, which Don Bosco built next to his complex of homes and schools for boys in Turin. Maria Stardero, a blind girl of ten or twelve, was led by her aunt into the church, where dozens of boys were standing about or kneeling in prayer as they waited for Don Bosco to arrive for con­fessions. Fr. Francis Dalmazzo, one of the first Salesians, spoke to the woman. In his testimony he later recalled, “I was grieved to see that the young girl’s eyes had no corneas and resembled white marbles.”
When Don Bosco arrived, he questioned the girl about her condi­tion. She had not been born blind, but as a result of eye disease her sight had been completely lost two years earlier. When he asked about medi­cal treatment, the aunt began to sob that they had tried everything, but doctors could only say the eyes were “beyond hope.”
“Can you tell whether things are big or small?” the saint asked.
“I can’t see a thing.”
He led her to a window. Could she perceive light?
“Not at all.”
“Would you like to see?”
“Oh, yes! It’s the only thing I want,” and she began to sob about how miserable she was.
“Will you use your eyes for the good of your soul and not to offend God?”
“I promise I will, with all my heart!”
“Good. You will regain your sight,” the man whose own vision was in need of help assured her. With a few sentences he encouraged the visitors to have faith in the intercession of Mary. With them he re­cited a Hail Mary and another prayer to Mary, the Hail, Holy Queen. Then, urging them to have absolute trust in the prayers of the Mother of Christ, he blessed the girl. After that he held a medal of Mary Help of Christians, in front of her and asked, “For the glory of God and the Blessed Virgin, tell me what I’m holding in my hand.”
“She can’t . . .” the elderly aunt began, but Don Bosco paid no heed, while the girl after a few seconds shouted, “I see!” Immediately she de­scribed the detailing on the medal. When she stretched out her hand to receive it, however, it rolled into a dim corner.
The aunt moved to retrieve it, but Don Bosco motioned her back.
“Let her pick it up to see if the Blessed Virgin has thoroughly re­stored her sight,” he insisted. Unerringly the girl bent into the shadows and picked up the tiny object. As the many witnesses looked on, awed and profoundly moved, Maria, beside herself with joy, bolted for home, while her aunt thanked Don Bosco profusely with sobs now of joy.
If Maria Stardero was so wild with joy she forgot to even thank the one whose prayer obtained her cure, she returned soon afterward to make her small donation to his work and offer thanks. Forty-six years later, in 1916, when some Salesians checked on her, she still had perfect vision.

Miracles in Rome

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.

Miracles Even After Death

After Don Bosco’s death, there were many miracles to testify to the sanctity of this great friend of God. Ignoring those involving after-death appearances by the saint because I treat this subject at length in an­other book, and ignoring those in which the saint’s relics played the predominant role, I offer as examples the cures of two women.
Sr. Mary Joseph Massimi, of the convent of Santa Lucia in Selci, Italy, was about to die in 1928 of a duodenal ulcer. Her confessor gave this Augustinian nun a relic of Don Bosco, who was not yet beatified, and advised that she make a novena for his intercession. During the novena, instead of improving, her condition got worse. It was obvious that her recuperative powers were simply gone. But the nun’s faith was unshaken. She simply began a second novena.

This article is adapted from Nothing Short of a Miracle
This time, too, she deteriorated further. It appeared her death would occur any moment. Still, on the fifth day of the second novena, May 15, she dreamed Don Bosco said to her, “I’ve come to tell you you will recover. Just be patient. Suffer just a little longer. On Sunday you’ll be granted the grace [of healing].” Sunday was then four days away.
Friday, May 18, she dreamed again. This time Don Bosco carried the black habit that her order’s nuns wear on holy days. He repeated the promise of a Sunday cure. But her condition as Saturday faded into Sunday left room for only one conclusion: Sr. Mary Joseph had been the dupe of wish dreams with no real numinous content. Sadly on the very day her dreams had promised healing, her confessor was forced to give her the last rites.
But as the sister received the sacrament, her whole body suddenly “shuddered from head to foot, and in that instant she felt as though she was recalled from death to new life.”
Occurring as the Church’s experts, in the final act before beatification, were weighing two other cures attributed to Don Bosco for supernatural content, Sr. Mary Joseph’s healing caused a chuckle among those who recalled how God had so many times furthered Don Bosco’s projects with healing miracles.
Within twelve months of his 1929 beatification, there were already two new post-beatification miracles considered able to meet the Church’s criteria. As study proceeded, however, a cure from Innsbruck, Austria, was set aside as not completely verifiable. In its place was offered at once the 1931 cure of Mrs. Catherine Lanfranchi Pilenga.
Catherine Pilenga suffered from serious chronic arthritic diathesis, particularly in her knees and feet. The organic lesions caused by the disease did not threaten her life, but they practically paralyzed her lower limbs. For twenty-eight years, she had battled the condition; not a single treatment since 1903 had given her any relief.
In May 1931, she made her second pilgrimage to Lourdes. It was no more successful than her first. As she prepared to leave the shrine, Catherine prayed, “Well, Blessed Mother, since I haven’t been cured here, obtain the grace for me that, because of my devotion to Blessed Don Bosco, he will intercede for my recovery when I’m in Turin.”
She arrived in Turin from France in her usual serious condition. It took her sister and a male helper to get her out of their vehicle and into the Church of Mary Help of Christians, where she sat down to pray in front of the urn that contained the mortal remains of Don Bosco.
Deep in prayer, at some point without noticing what she was doing, she knelt down. After remaining on her knees about twenty minutes, she stood up, walked to the altar of the Blessed Virgin, and knelt again to continue her prayers. It was only at that point she suddenly realized, in kneeling, she was doing something impossible for her — and knew she was cured.
People who had seen this woman laboriously assisted into the church because she was unable to move about by herself now watched in amazement as she moved freely not only on level ground, but climbing and descending stairs. Her disease had simply vanished. It was a permanent, instantaneous, total recovery, verified by three doctors as well as a medical commission appointed by the Church, from a condition that nearly thirty years of medical help had failed to cure. Heaping joy upon joy, Mrs. Pilenga’s cure was eventually picked from the many healings God has given through Don Bosco to be held before the world at his canonization as an authentic miracle.
In 2010 Don Bosco’s relics went on world tour, including a number of places in the United States. This was in anticipation of — and the opening of events in celebration of — the saint’s two hundredth birth­day in 2015. A new round of God-given healings and other graces, such as those that poured out for his beatification and canonization, appears likely as more people are reminded to ask the warm-hearted saint’s prayers.