June 2009 Archives

Respect and love are essential in the work of ecumenical dialogue, the Pope observed at a gathering of Orthodox leaders in Rome for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Each year the Patriarch sends a delegation to Rome for June 29th and the Pope reciprocates by sending a delegation to Constantinople for the feast of Saint Andrew on November 30th to share in prayer, dialogue and fraternity. Watch the video clip.

A hallmark of Pope Benedict's petrine ministry is ecumenical relations with other Christians, most particularly with the Orthodox churches. Yesterday he said:

"You are welcome guests, dear brothers, who have been sent by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, to whom I likewise send my warm and fraternal greeting in the Lord. Let us give thanks together to the Lord for all the fruits and benefits that the bimillennial celebration of the birth of St. Paul has brought us. We celebrate together the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, the "protôthroni" of the Apostles, as they are invoked in the Orthodox liturgical tradition, that is, those who occupy first place among the apostles and are called "the teachers of the ecumene."

With your presence, which is a sign of ecclesial fraternity, you remind us of our common commitment to the pursuit of full communion. You already know, but again today I have the pleasure of confirming, that the Catholic Church intends to contribute in every possible way to the reestablishment of full communion. This is in response to Christ's will for his disciples, and recalling Paul's teaching in which he reminds us that we have been called to "one hope." In this respect, we can confidently look forward to a good continuation of the work of the Mixed International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic Churches.

This commission will meet in October to address a crucial theme for relations between East and West, namely, "the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church during the first millennium." In effect, the study of this aspect is clearly indispensable for generally getting to the heart of the question in the current context of the pursuit of full communion. This commission, which has already accomplished important work, will be generously received by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, to whom we express our gratitude in advance, because fraternal hospitality and the climate of prayer that will surround our discussions cannot but facilitate our common work and reciprocal understanding.

I desire that the participants in the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue know that my prayers will accompany them and that this dialogue has the complete support of the Catholic Church. With my whole heart I hope that the misunderstandings and the tensions between the Orthodox delegates during the last plenary sessions of this commission be overcome in fraternal love, in such a way that this dialogue be amply representative of the Orthodox."

On a related note, I can't help but draw our attention to one of the ongoing works in the ecumenical movement today is the superb work of Prior Enzo Bianchi of the Monastery of Bose (in Italy). His monastery has sponsored a creative renewal in religious life for men and women, a vibrant program for the intellect, an awareness of the arts, and real fraternity. Bose is sponsoring the 17th International Ecumenical Conference on Orthodox Spirituality this coming September 2009. The program is exciting; the theme is the spiritual struggle looking keenly on the relation of spiritual struggle with Christian unity in the contemporary world.

Martyrs.jpgFather, You sanctified the Church of Rome with the blood of her first martyrs. May we find strength from their triumph.

The Church commemorates those who gave their lives for Christ and the Church under the persecution of Nero around the year of A.D. 64.
Pope & new abps.jpgArchbishop Timothy Dolan of New York received his pallium today from Pope Benedict XVI as a sign of communion with the Pope. He joined 33 new archbishops including 4 other Americans who received their pallia too.

Joanna Malloy of the NY Daily News is covering the archbishop's trip; be sure to read the related articles as they provide a picture of New York's new Shepherd.

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Saint Paul's bones confirmed


Toe bone connected to the foot bone

Foot bone connected to the leg bone

Leg bone connected to the knee bone...


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The Church has confirmed the millennia reverence of the bones in Saint Paul's sarcophagus are in fact those of the Apostle to the Gentiles. At the close of the Pauline Year this is terrific news for all people. The witness of Paul's life --and now his bones-- makes Christian faith credible because of the physical connection we have with such a great man as the Apostle.

The Pope said: "Small fragments of bone were found and radiocarbon dated by experts who did not know their place of origin. Results indicate that they belong to someone who lived between the 1st and 2nd century A.D. This seems to confirm the unanimous and undisputed tradition according to which these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul. All this fills our soul with deep emotion."

"The Pauline Year has come to an end, but being on the same path as Paul and, with him and thanks to him, know Jesus and, like him, be enlightened and transformed by the Gospel, will always be part of Christian existence," the Pontiff said.

I highly recommend reading the Asia News story

As expected, today the Pope signed off on his latest encyclical, Charity in Truth. This latest work of the Pope's is a social catechesis that will address issues of concern for the poor, globalization, solidarity with brothers and sisters. The work will be published soon (when the translation can be settled on). It's expected before the G8 meeting (hopefully around July 6 or thereabouts). 

The said in part introducing his work: "The publication of my third encyclical is now near, which has the title Caritas in Veritate. Taking up the social themes contained in Populorum Progressio, written by the Servant of God Paul VI in 1967, this document -- which is dated precisely today, June 29th, the Solemnity of the Apostles Saints Peter and Paul -- aims to deepen a few aspects of integral development in our age in the light of charity in truth. I entrust to your prayers this new contribution that the Church offers to humanity in her commitment for sustainable progress, in full respect for human dignity and everyone's real requirements."

John Allen's article on the forthcoming encyclical.
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Peter, blest Shepherd! hearken to our cry,

And with a word unloose our guilty chain;

Thou who hast power to open the gates on high

To men below, and power to shut them fast again.

O thou great Doctor, Paul, we here beseech of thee

Lead thou our spirits up to heavenly mystery,

Tills ends the partial knowledge that to us is given

While here below, and we receive the fuller light in heaven.

May everlasting honor, power, and glory be

And jubilation, to the Holy Trinity,

The One God, ever ruling all things mightily,

Throughout all endless ages of eternity. Amen.


O God, Who has made holy this day with the martyrdom of Thine Apostles Peter and Paul, grant that Thy Church may in all things follow the precepts of those from whom it first received the faith.

Saint Irenaeus of Lyons

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In your manner a participant,

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And in your throne a successor of 

the Apostles,

You discovered action an entrance into visions,

O inspired one of God.

Therefore directing the Word of Truth,

You suffered for the faith even unto blood.

O Bishop and Martyr Irenaues,

Pray to Christ God that our souls may be saved!

(Troparion, Tone 4)


Give perfection to beginners, O Father; give intelligence to the little ones; give aid to those who are running their course. Give sorrow to the negligent; give fervor of spirit to the lukewarm. Give to the perfect a good consummation; for the sake of Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.                                                                

(Prayer of Saint Irenaeus)

Pope Benedict XVI March 28, 2007 catechesis on Saint Irenaeus is helpful to read.

We cling to our faith because of the witnesses that go before us, those who point the way to the Lord. Our Catholic faith is born of the faith of another. Therefore, we hold fast to apostolic faith given to us by the Apostles and we in turn pass the orthodox faith onto others. As Irenaeus said, "Hold in suspicion those who depart from the primitive succession" and "those who put forward their own compositions, boasting that they possess more Gospels than there really are." One interesting note about Saint Irenaeus is that he is the first theologian to insist that we follow the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John because they were trustworthy, and no others.
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Rejoice we all in the Lord, as we keep festival in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary: whose solemnity makes angels joyful and sets them praising the Son of God. Joyful the thoughts that well up from my heart, I shall speak of the works of the King


Mother of Perpetual Help,

with the greatest confidence

we come before your holy picture

to be inspired by the example of your life.


We think of you at that moment when,

full of faith and trust,

you accepted God's call

to be the mother of his Son.

Help us, your children,

to accept with joy our own calling in life.


When you learned that your cousin Elizabeth was in need

you immediately went to serve her

and offer your help.

Help us, like you,

to be concerned for others.


We think of you, Mother,

at the foot of the cross.

Your heart must have bled

to see your Son in agony.


But your joy was great

when he rose from the dead,

victorious over the powers of evil.

Mother of Sorrows,

help us through the trials and

disappointments of life.

Help us not to lose heart.


May we share with you and your Son

the joy of having courageously faced up

to all the challenges of life.


St Cyril of Alexandria.jpgO God, Who did make blessed Cyril, Thy Confessor and Bishop, the invincible champion of the divine motherhood of he most Blessed Virgin Mary; grant through his intercession, that we who believe her to be truly the Mother of God, may be saved through her maternal intercession.

Saint Cyril's (of the 5th cent.) importance for us even today deals with matter of Christology: Who is Jesus Christ and why is He important?  As patriarch of Alexandria, Egypt, he was known as a competent theologian and orator. At the Council of Ephesus he defended the humanity and divinity as a unity of Jesus Christ against those who taught otherwise. What today's opening prayer emphasizes more is Cyril's defense of Mary being the mother of Word made flesh, contradicting the infamous heretic Nestorius. 

Two essential facts of orthodox Christian faith taught by Saint Cyril: that Jesus was begotten by God the Father before all ages; and that Jesus was also begotten in the flesh of the Virgin Mary. 

Rarely does one see the ACLU agree with the Catholic Church never mind agree with a local Church prelate on constitutional matters. Here the officials of Diocese of Bridgeport can justifyably claim that they were correct in their reading of the First Amendment and stating that they're not a lobbyist. The ACLU runs contrary to Carol Carson of the State of Connecticut Ethics Committee's ascertion that the Diocese violated state law. The CT Post ran a story today (of course it was not on page one).

In its filed brief the ACLU stated: "The Supreme Court, keenly aware of the need to carve out a protected zone, for petitioning activity, that lobbying statutes cannot reach, has defined lobbying narrowly, as involving only 'direct communications with members of the [legislature]' or indirect communications occurring 'through an artificially stimulated letter campaign." The brief backs up my thinking that a clearer definition of what a lobbyist is and how a lobbyist works in congress is needed. The governor's office or one of legislators ought to propose a revision of existing law so as not to bog down the good work of the State in the future. I wonder how money was spent on this foolish exercise!

Nevertheless, there remains a lot of work to do on the education front: What is the purpose of the Catholic Church, how does it engage in the public square and what is a believing Catholic's response, how do people of good will mobilize to express regret with their lawmakers?

Sacred Heart3.JPGWhen they came to Jesus, and saw that he was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers opened His side with a lance, and immediately there came out Blood and Water. (Magnificat antiphon, S. Heart feast)

Since June is the month of the Sacred of Heart of Jesus (and last Friday we observed the liturgical memorial of the the SH) I propose praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart. Friday is a day on which we prayerfully recall the Lord's death and this is apt to pray this Litany. Pray it for bishops, priests, deacons and seminarians.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) wants the US Catholic bishops to revise the statement, Reflections on Covenant and Mission (2002) to emphasize that Catholics don't want to convert Jews to Christianity. Here's the US Bishops' recent statement on clarifications made to RCM. This is not a document of the Roman Catholic Church, i.e., the Magisterium, nor of the US Bishops. It is a work of a group of theologians, Jewish and Catholic, reflecting on mutual interests in theology.

Our theology is such that Jesus Christ is The Way, the Truth and the Life: all people come to salvation in and through Jesus Christ; God's promises through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are fulfilled in Jesus as the definitive revelation of God. Jews are not the singular group here; Catholics believe this is true for all the world's peoples. This is revealed by the Lord Himself. It was not dreamed up by a committee. Having said all this, the Church's missiology is governed by the Vatican II document Nostra Aetate which understands Judaism in special light when it comes to evangelization but nowhere in Vatican II theology (or praxis) does it say that the Church capitulates to another faith group because of its belief is "controversial."

If someone doesn't understand or even like or wants to reject this theology, OK. We propose belief in Christ as salvific and not impose this belief on others. We have to be clear on what we believe so as to be clear on the method of sharing our belief. But why does the ADL presume to tell the Church what to believe. Do Catholics tell the Jews what remove from their theology because Catholics don't like it? Not likely.

I think RCM is fair-minded and accurate. 

Just two days before he was to receive the cardinal's red hat from Pope John Paul II (an honor he declined to accept before) the Swiss theologian Father Hans Urs von Balthasar died. He was preparing to celebrate the morning Mass when the Lord called him home.

Von Balthasar was a prolific author of articles and books. He's widely known as the kneeling theologian, the starting point from he believed theology ought to be done. With Cardinals Henri de Lubac, Walter Kasper and Joseph Ratzinger he founded the Communio journal (which is published in a numerous languages).

O Lord, we pray Thee that the soul of Thy priest. Thy servant Hans Urs von Balthassar, which, while he abode in this world, Thou didst adorn with sacred gifts, may ever rejoice in a glorious place in heaven. Amen.

A short biography of Father von Balthasar can be read here.

Those wanting a fine introduction into the thinking of Hans Urs von Balthasar ought to read Jesuit Father Edward T. Oakes' book, Pattern of Redemption.
St Josemaria Escriva.jpgGod our Father, you chose Saint Josemaría to proclaim the universal call sanctity and apostolate in the Church. By his example and prayers grant that in faithfully carrying out our daily work in the Spirit of Christ, we may be formed in the likeness of your Son, and together with the most Blessed Virgin Mary, serve the work of redemption with an ardent love.
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The head of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Abuna Pauolos, is set to unveil the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark of the Covenant has been in the guardianship of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church in a chapel in the Church of Our Lady, Mary of Zion. But with many religious icons and relics the Ark has been claimed by a number of people over the years, some credible and many not so believable. There is no reason I know of to doubt the authenticity of the Ark that's with the Patriarch.

We don't hear much of the Ark of Covenant today except for intro Scripture classes; however, it should be noted that the Ark is a unit of learning in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd (a catechetical program for little people developed around a Montessori method). The relevance of the Ark, you will remember, is that it was God's command that the Ark be built to contain the tablets of the Decalogue (the 10 Commandment), Aaron's rod and manna. On the theological level the Ark is emblematic of the Covenant God had with His people (Israel). Today, a theology of Covenant continues but not in tablets or an Ark but in a Person--Jesus Christ. Catholics honor and follow the 10 Commandments; we honor the Ark but we worship neither. We adore, worship, and give glory to a God who became a flesh and blood person, a man in all things like you and me except sin; the Son of God who opened the doors of salvation for us. Catholics believe, therefore, our salvation is not in the Commandments but from Christ who lived, died, and resurrected. As I mentioned the Commandments are followed and we revere the Ark so long as we recognize that they point to their fulfillment in Jesus. So learn about the Ark and pass this theology onto your friends and family.

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Various groups established a web presence for The Year of the Priest

The Year of the Priest, Annus Sacerdotalis --Congregation for the Clergy

The Year for Priests --The Knights of Columbus

FuturePriests.com --A Twitter initiative of the Archbishop of Utrecht

It's expected that on June 29th the Pope will publish his latest encyclical, Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth).

Last week he said: "As you know, my encyclical on the vast theme of economics and labor will soon be published. It will highlight what, for us Christians, are the objectives to be pursued and the values to be promoted and tirelessly defended, with the purpose of realising a truly free and human coexistence in solidarity."

Pope Benedict's two previous encyclicals are Deus Caritas Est (God is Love, 2005) and Spe Salvi (Saved by Hope, 2007).

It's time to get excited because the Pope's words are always germane.

Today, June 24, is the first anniversary of the dedication of Saint Dominic's Monastery new monastery in Linden, Virginia. 

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What an amazing year!  This summer four young women will enter the Monastery as postulants.  As envisioned, the Monastery is acting as a magnet attracting young women to devote their lives to God. The life follows the traditional form of Second Order Dominican nuns with the night Office, the grill, silence, sacrifice and prayer. The nuns rarely leave the cloister and are completely focussed on Christ. They carry to Him our deepest needs through their prayer and sacrifice.

I would like to encourage everyone to send Sister Mary Paul (the prioress) and the nuns at Saint Dominic's Monastery an anniversary card and, if possible, to include an anniversary gift - a check to support the formation of their new members. 

Cards can be mailed to:

Sister Mary Paul, O.P.

Saint Dominic's Monastery

2636 Monastery Road

Linden, VA 22642

My friends Fathers Gabriel and Jordan as well as the laywoman Julie tell me the life of the monastery is going extremely well and the need for assistance is also great. So, I think the life of these Dominican nuns is VERY worth a sacrificial gift. Don't you?

Elizabeth the wife of Zachary gave birth to a great man, John the Baptist,

the Precursor of the Lord.

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O God, Who has made this day honorable to us by the birth of blessed John, pour forth upon Thy people the grace of spiritual joys, and direct the souls of all Thy faithful into the way of eternal salvation.
Fr Major Henry T Vakoc.jpgThe Lord called Father H. Tim Vakoc, US Army Major, to himself on June 20th.

Father Tim was a priest of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and some have said that he was the first US priest killed as a part of the war. He was 17 years ordained a priest, living the last 5 years of his priestly witness recovering from injuries sustained in Iraq. Those injuries were suffered on his 12th anniversary of ordination. Among Father's awards he was a recipient of the Bronze Star and the Purple Heart.

Father Tim was a member of the Knights of Columbus for 31 years.

Let us pray in thanksgiving for Father Vokac, for the his family, friends, caregivers and the US Army.

Well done good and faithful servant.
alg_dolan-mta.jpgArchbishop Timothy Dolan is serious: he's praying for ALL the people of the Archdiocese of New York (and others) when he's in the Eternal City next week to receive the pallium from the Pope. He's the link between us and our Roman sainted forefathers and mothers; likewise, he's the link between the archdiocese and the Holy Father. Spiritual closeness is a cool thing in the Catholic Church.

Thank God for his remembrance of us at the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul especially! I, for one, need his prayers.
archbishop eijk twitter.jpgA fascinating initiative was launched the other day for the Year of the Priest on Twitter by Utrecht's Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk. Follow the Archbishop at FuturePriests.com.

The Archbishop's global campaign of prayer for priests is a terrific project that draws together the power of prayer and the power of Twitter.

Tweet with the Archbishop and keep informed by following the blog! Pray for vocations! Don't forget to retweet with your intentions and prayers!
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As a sacrament, the Eucharist has a double aspect: it is both a sign and the reality signified by it, both a remembering of the past and a making-really-present: "When the Church celebrates the Eucharist, she commemorates Christ's Passover, and it is made present: the sacrifice Christ offered once for all on the Cross remains ever present" (Catechism of the Catholic Church,1364).

Here the three meanings of "present" come together: Christ in the Eucharist is 1) present, not absent, but really here; 2) present, not past, but happening now; and 3) presented as a gift (a "present"), really given; offered, not withheld. Christ is "present in many ways to his Church" (CCC, 1373) but "[t]he mode of Christ's presence under the Eucharistic species [forms, appearances] is unique. It raises the Eucharist above all the sacraments as 'the perfection of the spiritual life and the end to which all the sacraments tend' [St. Thomas Aquinas]. In the most blessed sacrament of the Eucharist 'the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained.' '...[I]t is presence in the fullest sense...Christ, God and man, makes himself wholly and entirely present'" (CCC 1374). (from Peter J. Kreeft, Catholic Christianity, 2001)

Pope Benedict's vacation advice from a recent general audience: "We must set aside time in life for God, to open our life to God with a thought, a meditation, a small prayer and not to forget Sunday is the day of the Lord." And in another place he said: "He who neglects contemplation is deprived of the vision of the light of God; he who is carried away with worry and allows his thoughts to be crushed by the tumult of the things of the world is condemned to the absolute impossibility of penetrating the secrets of the invisible God ...While at work, with its frenetic rhythms, and during vacation, we have to reserve moments for God. [We have to] open our lives up to him, directing a thought to him, a reflection, a brief prayer. And above all, we mustn't forget that Sunday is the day of Our Lord, the day of the liturgy, [the day] to perceive in the beauty of our churches, in the sacred music and in the Word of God, the same beauty of our God, allowing him to enter into our being. Only in this way is our life made great; it is truly made a life."
The holy martyrs shed their blood upon the ground for the sake of Christ and have obtained an eternal recompense.

Lord God, You brought the faith of Your saints to perfection in martyrdom. Mercifully grant that by our communion with Saints John and Thomas we may bear witness in our lives to the faith we profess.

A prayer of St Thomas More to remember:

Give me the grace to long for Your holy sacraments, and especially to rejoice in the presence of Your body, sweet Savior Christ, in the holy sacrament of the altar. Amen.

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Father's Day 2009

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Mom, Dad, Lauren and Aunt Gloria attended Mass today at Saint Rose of Lima Church and then we had a festive dinner a local Italian eatery: Father's Day 2009. Happy to have them visit me where I am living and working for the summer and to celebrate Dad. Peace!
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As part of the inaugural observances for the Year of the Priest, Pope Benedict made a pilgrimage to and celebrated the Sacrifice of the Mass Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Graces at San Giovanni Rotondo, resting place of Saint Padre Pio of Pietrelcina. In the days following the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and with devotion to Our Lady in mind, the Pope recalled that the fruit of Padre Pio's close bond with the Sacred Heart of Christ and His mother, Mary, inspired him to found the House for the Relief of Suffering:  "All his life and his apostolate took place under the maternal gaze of the Blessed Virgin and by the power of her intercession. Even the House for the Relief of Suffering he considered to be the work of Mary, 'Health of the sick.'

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Born Francisco Forgione, at the age 23 the obscure Capuchin Franciscan friar was said to have received the gift of the sacred stigmata. On Saint Pio's hands and side the wounds were similar to the stigmata, or the wounds of Jesus Christ's crucifixion, according to Christian belief. The Pope proposed to us another model for priests by giving the example of this friar from Pietrelcina: "A simple man of humble origins, 'seized by Christ' (Phil 3:12) ... to make of him an elected instrument of the perennial power of his Cross: the power of love for souls, forgiveness and reconciliation, spiritual fatherhood, effective solidarity with the suffering. The stigmata, that marked his body, closely united him to the Crucified and Risen Christ."

Relating today's gospel with the life of Saint Pio, His Holiness also said to the gathered faithful:

The solemn gesture of calming the stormy sea is clearly a sign of the lordship of Christ over the negative powers and it induces us to think of His divinity: "Who is He - ask the disciples in wonder -that even the wind and the sea obey him?" (Mk 4:41). Their faith is not yet steadfast, it is taking shape, is a mixture of fear and trust; rather Jesus trusting abandonment to the Father is full and pure. This is why He sleeps during the storm, completely safe in the arms of God - but there will come a time when Jesus will feel anxiety and fear: When His time comes, He shall feel upon himself the whole weight of the sins of humanity, as a massive swell that is about to fall upon Him. Oh yes, that shall be a terrible storm, not a cosmic one, but a spiritual one. It will be Evil's last, extreme assault against the Son of God.... In that hour, Jesus was on the one hand entirely One with the Father, fully given over to him - on the other, as in solidarity with sinners, He was separated and He felt abandoned.

Remaining united to Jesus, [Padre Pio] always had his sights on the depths of the human drama, and this was why he offered his many sufferings, why he was able to spend himself in the care for and relief of the sick - a privileged sign of God's mercy, of his kingdom which is coming, indeed, which is already in the world, a sign of the victory of love and life over sin and death. Guide souls and relieving suffering: thus we can sum up the mission of Saint Pio of Pietrelcina: as the servant of God, Pope Paul VI said of him."

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At one point in his address the Benedict spoke to the Franciscan friars and those connected with the spiritual groups linked to Saint Pio and anyone else, the Pope affirmed: "The risks of activism and secularization are always present, so my visit was also meant to confirm fidelity to the mission inherited from your beloved Father. Many of you, religious and laity, are so taken by the full duties required by the service to pilgrims, or the sick in the hospital, you run the risk of neglecting the real need: to listen to Christ to do the will of GodWhen you see that you are close to running this risk, look to Padre Pio: In his example, his sufferings, and invoke his intercession, because it obtains from the Lord the light and strength that you need to continue his mission soaked by love for God and fraternal charity." Following Mass, the Holy Father led the faithful in the Angelus prayer (the great prayer recalling the Incarnation) calling to mind Padre Pio's devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Benedict remarked, "To the intercession of Our Lady and St Pio of Pietrelcina I would like to entrust the Special Year for Priests, which I opened last Friday on the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. May it be a privileged opportunity to highlight the value of the mission and holiness of priests to serve the Church and humanity in the third millennium!"

Watch the video clip

Another video explaining more of Padre Pio's life

Read the papal homily

Read the papal address to priests and youth

Saint Aloysius Gonzaga

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Always keep your focus on Jesus!

O blessed Aloysius, adorned with angelic graces, I, your most unworthy suppliant, recommend specially to you the chastity of my soul and body, praying you by your angelic purity to plead for me with Jesus Christ, the Immaculate Lamb, and his most holy Mother, Virgin of virgins, that they would keep me from all grievous sin. 

O never let me be defiled with any stain of impurity; but when you see me in temptation, or in danger of falling, then remove far from my heart all bad thoughts and unclean desires, and awaken in me the memory of eternity to come and of Jesus crucified; impress deeply in my heart a sense of the holy fear of God; and thus, kindling in me the fire of divine love, enable me so to follow your footsteps here on earth that, in heaven with you, I may be made worthy to enjoy the vision of our God forever. Amen.

A brief biography on Saint Aloysius Gonzaga
JHN detail.jpgThe commission of cardinals approved of the miracle presented to them for the dossier proposing John Henry Cardinal Newman as a "beatus" (blessed).

The next step is for the Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Archbishop Angelo Amato, to prepare a document for the Holy Father to study the case. Read the Times Online story of the recent events.

In his 1986 Holy Thursday Letter to Priests, Pope John Paul II wrote:

The Mass was for John Mary Vianney the great joy and comfort of his priestly life. He took great care, despite the crowds of penitents, to spend more than a quarter of an hour in silent preparation. He celebrated with recollection, clearly expressing his adoration at the consecration and communion. He accurately remarked: "The cause of priestly laxity is not paying attention to the Mass!"
The Curé of Ars was particularly mindful of the permanence of Christ's real presence in the Eucharist. It was generally before the tabernacle that he spent long hours in adoration, before daybreak or in the evening; it was towards the tabernacle that he often turned during his homilies, saying with emotion: "He is there!"
It was also for this reason that he, so poor in his presbytery, did not hesitate to spend large sums on embellishing his church. The appreciable result was that his parishioners quickly took up the habit of coming to pray before the Blessed Sacrament, discovering, through the attitude of their pastor, the grandeur of the mystery of faith.
Dear brother priests, the example of the Curé of Ars invites us to a serious examination of conscience: what place do we give to the Mass in our daily lives? Is it, as on the day of our Ordination -- it was our first act as priests! -- the principle of our apostolic work and personal sanctification? What care do we take in preparing for it? And in celebrating it? In prayng before the Blessed Sacrament? In encouraging our faithful people to do the same? In making our churches the House of God to which the divine presence attracts the people of our time who too often have the impression of a a world empty of God.

Pope John Paul II, in his Angelus Address of July 2, 1989 said:

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"The Spirit molded the Heart of Jesus in the womb of Mary, who collaborated actively with him as mother and educator. As mother, she adhered knowingly and freely to the salvific plan of God the Father.... As educator, she had molded the Heart of her son; with Saint Joseph she introduced him to the traditions of the Chosen People, inspired in him a love for the Law of the Lord, communicated to him the spirituality of the 'poor of the Lord.' She had helped him to develop his intellect and exercised a sure influence in the formation of his character. ...Therefore we can truly say: in the Heart of Christ there shines forth the wonderful work of the Holy Spirit; in it there is also reflected the heart of his Mother. May every Christian heart be like the Heart of Christ: obedient to the Spirit's action and to the Mother's voice."

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My God, my Saviour, I adore Thy Sacred Heart, for that heart is the seat and source of all Thy tenderest human affections for us sinners.

It is the instrument and organ of Thy love.

It did beat for us. It yearned over us.

It ached for us, and for our salvation.

It was on fire through zeal, that the glory of God might be manifested in and by us.

It is the channel through which has come to us all Thy overflowing human affection, all Thy Divine Charity towards us.

All Thy incomprehensible compassion for us, as God and Man, as our Creator and our Redeemer and Judge, has come to us, and comes, in one inseparably mingled stream, through that Sacred Heart.

O most Sacred symbol and Sacrament of Love, divine and human, in its fullness, Thou didst save me by Thy divine strength, and Thy human affection, and then at length by that wonder-working blood, wherewith Thou didst overflow.

O most Sacred, most loving Heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still.

Now as then Thou savest, Desiderio desideravi -"With desire I have desired."

I worship Thee then with all my best love and awe, with my fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will.

O my God, when Thou dost condescend to suffer me to receive Thee, to eat and drink Thee, and Thou for a while takest up Thy abode within me, O make my heart beat with Thy Heart.

Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual, all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity, of all disorder, of all deadness.

So fill it with Thee, that neither the events of the day nor the circumstances of the time may have power to ruffle it, but that in Thy love and Thy fear it may have peace.

The Venerable Servant of God John Henry Newman

Allegory of the Cross TGaddi.jpgConsider, as people redeemed, who it is that hung on the Cross for you; how great and extraordinary he is whose death enlivens the dead and whose passing made heaven and earth groan and the hard stones split.

The Church was to be formed from the side of Christ as he slept on the Cross, and in this way the Scripture was to be fulfilled which reads: "They shall look on him whom they pierced." To this end, God ordained that a soldier's lance should open Christ's sacred side and that blood and water should flow forth. Then, as from a fountain--Christ's inner-most heart--the price of our salvation would pour down out, giving to the Church's sacraments the power of conferring grace and of being for those who live in Christ a drink of the living water "that gushes up for eternal life."

Rise, then, friends of Christ. Be like the dove "that builds her nest in the crevice." "Like the sparrow that finds a home" there, be watchful; set your mouth to it and "draw water from the fountain of the Savior." For this is "the spring that emerged from the center of paradise"; dividing into four streams, it enters devout hearts, and waters and fructifies the whole earth.

Run to this fountain of life and light.Be filled with desire, and in your heart's depths cry to him: "Beauty of the most high God! Pure radiance eternal light! Life shedding your radiance before your throne ever since the light before first began! Eternal and inaccessible, clear, sweet stream from a fountain hidden from mortal eyes! Bottomless depth, topless height, endless breadth, imperturbable purity!"

From this source flows the stream "that gladdens the city of God." "With exultant praise" let us sing songs to you, for we know from experience that "in you is the fountain of life, and in your light we shall see light."

From the reflections on The Tree of Life by Saint Bonaventure

Saint Romuald

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The Lord led the just in right paths. And showed him the kingdom of God.

We beseech Thee, O Lord, may the intercession of the blessed Abbot Romuald obtain for us  Thy favor; grant us to receive through his patronage that which we are unable to acquire by our own merits.

The brief bio of the founder of the Camaldolese monks.
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Here is a select list of works by or about John Mary Vianney, the Curé (the parish priest). This list is especially helpful to have at one's finger tips since the Holy Father has called for the coming year to honor the sainted parish priest of Ars, France, who died 150 years ago on August 4. This year focuses our spiritual work on the idea (hope) of "spiritual perfection." The forthcoming Year of the Priest is a fitting opportunity to respond to the Pope's call to renew the priesthood of Jesus Christ. The hope is that this dedicated year will focus our attention on the centrality of Christ which absolutely sets the stage for everything in the Church, priest and lay person alike.

St. John Mary Vianney, Thought of the Curé D'Ars.
St. John Mary Vianney, Sermons of the Curé of Ars.
St. John Mary Vianney, The Little Catechism of the Curé of Ars.

-Milton Lomask, The Curé of Ars: The Priest Who Out-Talked the Devil.
-George W. Rtuler, The Curé D'Ars Today: St John Vianney.
-Francois Trochu, The Curé D'Ars: St Jean-Marie-Baptiste Vianney.
-Mary F. Windeatt, The Curé of Ars: The Story of St. John Mary Vianney, Patron Saint of Parish Priests.

The award winning actor and director Leonardo Defillipis has been working on a one-man drama of Saint John Mary Vianney for a few years and providentially the Year of John Mary Vianney comes together nicely for the drama. His stage work "Vianney" will be inaugurated on August 4.

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Lord Jesus Christ, I want to give myself to you completely. When I see your Sacred Heart, I reflect upon your love. You came from the Father taking a human body with a human heart. You taught us to love God with all our hearts. You suffered and died to save us from sin and death. As you hung on the cross, your Heart was pierced by a lance. Out of it poured blood and water to signify the birth of your Church.

You rose from the dead, Jesus, to live forever with your Father in Heaven. But your Heart is still full of love for us. You still feel pain when your people reject or ignore your love. You want us all to live forever with God.

I now consecrate myself to your Sacred Heart, Jesus. You are the Son of God who I love with all my heart. I offer you my body, my soul, my mind, and my heart. Receive me, make me holy, make my heart like your Heart, and guide me in the way of perfect love today and every day of life. Amen.

For more information on the Apostleship of Prayer 

For more devotions on the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Abbot Giles with Frs Rembert & Beatus.jpgOn the eve of the Year of the Priest, you can see various celebrations recognizing the witness of priestly service in dioceses, religious orders and abbeys. The Benedictine monks of Saint Mary's Abbey (Morristown, NJ) recently celebrated the 50th anniversaries of two monks. In the photo you see Abbot Giles Hayes with Reverend Fathers Rembert and Beatus. Both monks have served the Lord and the Church for a long and courageous time. Both Father Rembert and Father Beatus have witnessed to Jesus Christ and his mercy in a variety of ways that have touched the minds and hearts of many people. Let me say that I enjoyed Father Beatus' preaching and his appreciation of art through history, culture and faith. Let us pray for these two monks and for all priests.

Divine Savior Jesus Christ, who has entrusted the whole work of your redemption, the welfare, and salvation of the world to priests as Your representatives, through the hands of your most holy Mother and for the sanctification of your priests and candidates for the priesthood, I offer you this present day wholly and entirely, with all its prayers, works, joys, sacrifices, and sorrows. Give us truly holy priests who, inflamed with the fire of Your divine love, seek nothing but Your greater glory and the salvation of our souls. And you, Mary, good Mother of priests, protect all priests in the dangers of their holy vocation and, with the loving hand of a Mother, also lead back to the Good Shepherd those poor priests who have become unfaithful to their exalted vocation and have gone astray. Amen.

(prayer composed by Dominican Father Peter John Cameron)
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On the forthcoming Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Friday 19 June 2009 - a day traditionally devoted to prayer for the sanctification of the clergy -, I have decided to inaugurate a "Year for Priests" in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the "dies natalis" of John Mary Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests worldwide.(1) This Year, meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world, will conclude on the same Solemnity in 2010. The priesthood is the love of the heart of Jesus", the saintly Curé of Ars would often say.(2) This touching expression makes us reflect, first of all, with heartfelt gratitude on the immense gift which priests represent, not only for the Church, but also for humanity itself. I think of all those priests who quietly present Christ's words and actions each day to the faithful and to the whole world, striving to be one with the Lord in their thoughts and their will, their sentiments and their style of life. How can I not pay tribute to their apostolic labours, their tireless and hidden service, their universal charity? And how can I not praise the courageous fidelity of so many priests who, even amid difficulties and incomprehension, remain faithful to their vocation as "friends of Christ", whom he has called by name, chosen and sent?

I still treasure the memory of the first parish priest at whose side I exercised my ministry as a young priest: he left me an example of unreserved devotion to his pastoral duties, even to meeting death in the act of bringing viaticum to a gravely ill person. I also recall the countless confreres whom I have met and continue to meet, not least in my pastoral visits to different 

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countries: men generously dedicated to the daily exercise of their priestly ministry. Yet the expression of Saint John Mary also makes us think of Christ's pierced Heart and the crown of thorns which surrounds it. I am also led to think, therefore, of the countless situations of suffering endured by many priests, either because they themselves share in the manifold human experience of pain or because they encounter misunderstanding from the very persons to whom they minister. How can we not also think of all those priests who are offended in their dignity, obstructed in their mission and persecuted, even at times to offering the supreme testimony of their own blood?

There are also, sad to say, situations which can never be sufficiently deplored where the Church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers. Then it is the world which finds grounds for scandal and rejection. What is most helpful to the Church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgment of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realization of the greatness of God's gift, embodied in the splendid example of generous pastors, religious afire with love for God and for souls, and insightful, patient spiritual guides. Here the teaching and example of Saint John Mary Vianney can serve as a significant point of reference for us all. The Curé of Ars was quite humble, yet as a priest he was conscious of being an immense gift to his people: "A good shepherd, a pastor after God's heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy".(3) He spoke of the priesthood as if incapable of fathoming the grandeur of the gift and task entrusted to a human creature: "O, how great is the priest! ... If he realized what he is, he would die... God obeys him: he utters a few words and the Lord descends from heaven at his voice, to be contained within a small host...".(4) Explaining to his parishioners the importance of the sacraments, he would say: "Without the Sacrament of Holy Orders, we would not have the Lord. Who put him there in that tabernacle? The priest. Who welcomed your soul at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest. And if this soul should happen to die [as a result of sin], who will raise it up, who will restore its calm and peace? Again, the priest... After God, the priest is everything! ... Only in heaven will he fully realize what he is".(5) These words, welling up from the priestly heart of the holy pastor, might sound excessive. Yet they reveal the high esteem in which he held the sacrament of the priesthood. He seemed overwhelmed by a boundless sense of responsibility: "Were we to fully realize what a priest is on earth, we would die: not of fright, but of love... Without the priest, the passion and death of our Lord would be of no avail. It is the priest who continues the work of redemption on earth... What use would be a house filled with gold, were there no one to open its door? The priest holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods ... Leave a parish for twenty years without a priest, and they will end by worshiping the beasts there ... The priest is not a priest for himself, he is a priest for you".(6)

He arrived in Ars, a village of 230 souls, warned by his Bishop beforehand that there he would find religious practice in a sorry state: "There is little love of God in that parish; you will be the one to put it there". As a result, he was deeply aware that he needed to go there to embody 

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Christ's presence and to bear witness to his saving mercy: "[Lord,] grant me the conversion of my parish; I am willing to suffer whatever you wish, for my entire life!": with this prayer he entered upon his mission.(7) The Curé devoted himself completely to his parish's conversion, setting before all else the Christian education of the people in his care. Dear brother priests, let us ask the Lord Jesus for the grace to learn for ourselves something of the pastoral plan of Saint John Mary Vianney! The first thing we need to learn is the complete identification of the man with his ministry. In Jesus, person and mission tend to coincide: all Christ's saving activity was, and is, an expression of his "filial consciousness" which from all eternity stands before the Father in an attitude of loving submission to his will. In a humble yet genuine way, every priest must aim for a similar identification. Certainly this is not to forget that the efficacy of the ministry is independent of the holiness of the minister; but neither can we overlook the extraordinary fruitfulness of the encounter between the ministry's objective holiness and the subjective holiness of the minister. The Curé of Ars immediately set about this patient and humble task of harmonizing his life as a minister with the holiness of the ministry he had received, by deciding to "live", physically, in his parish church: As his first biographer tells us: "Upon his arrival, he chose the church as his home. He entered the church before dawn and did not leave it until after the evening Angelus. There he was to be sought whenever needed".(8)

The pious excess of his devout biographer should not blind us to the fact that the Curé also knew how to "live" actively within the entire territory of his parish: he regularly visited the sick and families, organized popular missions and patronal feasts, collected and managed funds for his charitable and missionary works, embellished and furnished his parish church, cared for the orphans and teachers of the "Providence" (an institute he founded); provided for the education of children; founded confraternities and enlisted lay persons to work at his side.

His example naturally leads me to point out that there are sectors of cooperation which need to be opened ever more fully to the lay faithful. Priests and laity together make up the one priestly people (9) and in virtue of their ministry priests live in the midst of the lay faithful, "that they may lead everyone to the unity of charity, 'loving one another with mutual affection; and outdoing one another in sharing honour'" (Rom 12:10).(10) Here we ought to recall the Second Vatican Council's hearty encouragement to priests "to be sincere in their appreciation and promotion of the dignity of the laity and of the special role they have to play in the Church's mission. ... They should be willing to listen to lay people, give brotherly consideration to their wishes, and acknowledge their experience and competence in the different fields of human activity. In this way they will be able together with them to discern the signs of the times".(11)


Saint John Mary Vianney taught his parishioners primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that they learned to pray, halting frequently before the tabernacle for a visit to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.(12) "One need not say much to pray well" - the Curé explained to them - "We know that Jesus is there in the tabernacle: let us open our hearts to him, let us rejoice in his sacred presence. That is the best prayer".13 And he would urge them: "Come to communion, my brothers and sisters, come to Jesus. Come to live from him in order to live with him...(14) "Of course you are not worthy of him, but you need him!".(15) This way of educating the faithful to the Eucharistic presence and to communion proved most effective when they saw him celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those present said that "it was not possible to find a finer example of worship... He gazed upon the Host with immense love".(16) "All good works, taken together, do not equal the sacrifice of the Mass" - he would say - "since they are human works, while the Holy Mass is the work of God".(17) He was convinced that the fervour of a priest's life depended entirely upon the Mass: "The reason why a priest is lax is that he does not pay attention to the Mass! My God, how we ought to pity a priest who celebrates as if he were engaged in something routine!".(18) He was accustomed, when celebrating, also to offer his own life in sacrifice: "What a good thing it is for a priest each morning to offer himself to God in sacrifice!".(19)

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This deep personal identification with the Sacrifice of the Cross led him - by a sole inward movement - from the altar to the confessional. Priests ought never to be resigned to empty confessionals or the apparent indifference of the faithful to this sacrament. In France, at the time of the Curé of Ars, confession was no more easy or frequent than in our own day, since the upheaval caused by the revolution had long inhibited the practice of religion. Yet he sought in every way, by his preaching and his powers of persuasion, to help his parishioners to rediscover the meaning and beauty of the sacrament of Penance, presenting it as an inherent demand of the Eucharistic presence. He thus created a "virtuous" circle. By spending long hours in church before the tabernacle, he inspired the faithful to imitate him by coming to visit Jesus with the knowledge that their parish priest would be there, ready to listen and offer forgiveness. Later, the growing numbers of penitents from all over France would keep him in the confessional for up to sixteen hours a day. It was said that Ars had become "a great hospital of souls".(20) His first biographer relates that "the grace he obtained [for the conversion of sinners] was so powerful that it would pursue them, not leaving them a moment of peace!".(21) The saintly Curé reflected something of the same idea when he said: "It is not the sinner who returns to God to beg his forgiveness, but God himself who runs after the sinner and makes him return to him".(22) "This good Saviour is so filled with love that he seeks us everywhere".(23)

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We priests should feel that the following words, which he put on the lips of Christ, are meant for each of us personally: "I will charge my ministers to proclaim to sinners that I am ever ready to welcome them, that my mercy is infinite".(24) From Saint John Mary Vianney we can learn to put our unfailing trust in the sacrament of Penance, to set it once more at the centre of our pastoral concerns, and to take up the "dialogue of salvation" which it entails. The Curé of Ars dealt with different penitents in different ways. Those who came to his confessional drawn by a deep and humble longing for God's forgiveness found in him the encouragement to plunge into the "flood of divine mercy" which sweeps everything away by its vehemence. If someone was troubled by the thought of his own frailty and inconstancy, and fearful of sinning again, the Curé would unveil the mystery of God's love in these beautiful and touching words: "The good Lord knows everything. Even before you confess, he already knows that you will sin again, yet he still forgives you. How great is the love of our God: he even forces himself to forget the future, so that he can grant us his forgiveness!".(25) But to those who made a lukewarm and rather indifferent confession of sin, he clearly demonstrated by his own tears of pain how "abominable" this attitude was: "I weep because you don't weep",(26) he would say. "If only the Lord were not so good! But he is so good! One would have to be a brute to treat so good a Father this way!".(27) He awakened repentance in the hearts of the lukewarm by forcing them to see God's own pain at their sins reflected in the face of the priest who was their confessor. To those who, on the other hand, came to him already desirous of and suited to a deeper spiritual life, he flung open the abyss of God's love, explaining the untold beauty of living in union with him and dwelling in his presence: "Everything in God's sight, everything with God, everything to please God... How beautiful it is!".(28) And he taught them to pray: "My God, grant me the grace to love you as much as I possibly can".(29)

In his time the Curé of Ars was able to transform the hearts and the lives of so many people because he enabled them to experience the Lord's merciful love. Our own time urgently needs a similar proclamation and witness to the truth of Love: Deus caritas est (1 Jn: 4:8). Thanks to the word and the sacraments of Jesus, John Mary Vianney built up his flock, although he often trembled from a conviction of his personal inadequacy, and desired more than once to withdraw from the responsibilities of the parish ministry out of a sense of his unworthiness. Nonetheless, with exemplary obedience he never abandoned his post, consumed as he was by apostolic zeal for the salvation of souls. He sought to remain completely faithful to his own vocation and mission through the practice of an austere asceticism: "The great misfortune for us parish priests - he lamented - is that our souls grow tepid"; meaning by this that a pastor can grow dangerously inured to the state of sin or of indifference in which so many of his flock are living.(30) He himself kept a tight rein on his body, with vigils and fasts, lest it rebel against his priestly soul. Nor did he avoid self-mortification for the good of the souls in his care and as a help to expiating the many sins he heard in confession. To a priestly confrere he explained: "I will tell you my recipe: I give sinners a small penance and the rest I do in their place".(31) Aside from the actual penances which the Curé of Ars practiced, the core of his teaching remains valid for each of us: souls have been won at the price of Jesus' own blood, and a priest cannot devote himself to their salvation if he refuses to share personally in the "precious cost" of redemption.

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In today's world, as in the troubled times of the Curé of Ars, the lives and activity of priests need to be distinguished by a forceful witness to the Gospel. As Pope Paul VI rightly noted, "modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses".(32) Lest we experience existential emptiness and the effectiveness of our ministry be compromised, we need to ask ourselves ever anew: "Are we truly pervaded by the word of God? Is that word truly the nourishment we live by, even more than bread and the things of this world? Do we really know that word? Do we love it? Are we deeply engaged with this word to the point that it really leaves a mark on our lives and shapes our thinking?".(33) Just as Jesus called the Twelve to be with him (cf. Mk 3:14), and only later sent them forth to preach, so too in our days priests are called to assimilate that "new style of life" which was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and taken up by the Apostles.(34)

It was complete commitment to this "new style of life" which marked the priestly ministry of the Curé of Ars. Pope John XXIII, in his Encyclical Letter Sacerdotii nostri primordia, published in 1959 on the first centenary of the death of Saint John Mary Vianney, presented his asceticism with special reference to the "three evangelical counsels" which the Pope considered necessary also for priests: "even though priests are not bound to embrace these evangelical counsels by virtue of the clerical state, these counsels nonetheless offer them, as they do all the faithful, the surest road to the desired goal of Christian perfection".(35) The Curé of Ars lived the "evangelical counsels" in a way suited to his priestly state. His poverty was not the poverty of a religious or a monk, but that proper to a priest: while managing much money (since well-to-do pilgrims naturally took an interest in his charitable works), he realized that everything had been donated to his church, his poor, his orphans, the girls of his "Providence",(36) his families of modest means. Consequently, he "was rich in giving to others and very poor for himself".(37) As he would explain: "My secret is simple: give everything away; hold nothing back".(38) When he lacked money, he would say aimiably to the poor who knocked at his door: "Today I'm poor just like you, I'm one of you".(39) At the end of his life, he could say with absolute tranquillity: "I no longer have anything. The good Lord can call me whenever he wants!".(40) His chastity, too, was that demanded of a priest for his ministry. It could be said that it was a chastity suited to one who must daily touch the Eucharist, who contemplates it blissfully and with that same bliss offers it to his flock. It was said of him that "he radiated chastity"; the faithful would see this when he turned and gazed at the tabernacle with loving eyes".(41) Finally, Saint John Mary Vianney's obedience found full embodiment in his conscientious fidelity to the daily demands of his ministry. We know how he was tormented by the thought of his inadequacy for parish ministry and by a desire to flee "in order to bewail his poor life, in solitude".(42) Only obedience and a thirst for souls convinced him to remain at his post. As he explained to himself and his flock: "There are no two good ways of serving God. There is only one: serve him as he desires to be served".(43) He considered this the golden rule for a life of obedience: "Do only what can be offered to the good Lord".(44)

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In this context of a spirituality nourished by the practice of the evangelical counsels, I would like to invite all priests, during this Year dedicated to them, to welcome the new springtime which the Spirit is now bringing about in the Church, not least through the ecclesial movements and the new communities. "In his gifts the Spirit is multifaceted... He breathes where he wills. He does so unexpectedly, in unexpected places, and in ways previously unheard of... but he also shows us that he works with a view to the one body and in the unity of the one body".(45) In this regard, the statement of the Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis continues to be timely: "While testing the spirits to discover if they be of God, priests must discover with faith, recognize with joy and foster diligently the many and varied charismatic gifts of the laity, whether these be of a humble or more exalted kind".(46) These gifts, which awaken in many people the desire for a deeper spiritual life, can benefit not only the lay faithful but the clergy as well. The communion between ordained and charismatic ministries can provide "a helpful impulse to a renewed commitment by the Church in proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel of hope and charity in every corner of the world".47 I would also like to add, echoing the Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis of Pope John Paul II, that the ordained ministry has a radical "communitarian form" and can be exercised only in the communion of priests with their Bishop.(48) This communion between priests and their Bishop, grounded in the sacrament of Holy Orders and made manifest in Eucharistic concelebration, needs to be translated into various concrete expressions of an effective and affective priestly fraternity.(49) Only thus will priests be able to live fully the gift of celibacy and build thriving Christian communities in which the miracles which accompanied the first preaching of the Gospel can be repeated.

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The Pauline Year now coming to its close invites us also to look to the Apostle of the Gentiles, who represents a splendid example of a priest entirely devoted to his ministry. "The love of Christ urges us on" - he wrote - "because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died" (2 Cor 5:14). And he adds: "He died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them" (2 Cor 5:15). Could a finer programme could be proposed to any priest resolved to advance along the path of Christian perfection?

Dear brother priests, the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the death of Saint John Mary Vianney (1859) follows upon the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of Lourdes (1858). In 1959 Blessed Pope John XXIII noted that "shortly before the Curé of Ars completed his long and admirable life, the Immaculate Virgin appeared in another part of France to an innocent and humble girl, and entrusted to her a message of prayer and penance which continues, even a century later, to yield immense spiritual fruits. The life of this holy priest whose centenary we are commemorating in a real way anticipated the great supernatural truths taught to the seer of Massabielle. He was greatly devoted to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin; in 1836 he had dedicated his parish church to Our Lady Conceived without Sin and he greeted the dogmatic definition of this truth in 1854 with deep faith and great joy."(50) The Curé would always remind his faithful that "after giving us all he could, Jesus Christ wishes in addition to bequeath us his most precious possession, his Blessed Mother".(51)

To the Most Holy Virgin I entrust this Year for Priests. I ask her to awaken in the heart of every priest a generous and renewed commitment to the ideal of complete self-oblation to Christ and the Church which inspired the thoughts and actions of the saintly Curé of Ars. It was his fervent prayer life and his impassioned love of Christ Crucified that enabled John Mary Vianney to grow daily in his total self-oblation to God and the Church. May his example lead all priests to offer that witness of unity with their Bishop, with one another and with the lay faithful, which today, as ever, is so necessary. Despite all the evil present in our world, the words which Christ spoke to his Apostles in the Upper Room continue to inspire us: "In the world you have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world" (Jn 16:33). Our faith in the Divine Master gives us the strength to look to the future with confidence. Dear priests, Christ is counting on you. In the footsteps of the Curé of Ars, let yourselves be enthralled by him. In this way you too will be, for the world in our time, heralds of hope, reconciliation and peace!

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With my blessing,

From the Vatican, 16 June 2009.


20th_07_hoc_est.jpgIt is especially in the sacred liturgy that our union with the heavenly Church is best realized; in the liturgy, through the sacramental signs, the power of the Holy Spirit acts on us, and with community rejoicing we celebrate together the praise of the divine majesty, when all those of every tribe and tongue and people and nation (cf. Apoc. 5:9) who have been redeemed by the blood of Christ and gathered together into one Church glorify, in one common song of praise, the one and triune God. When, then, we celebrate the Eucharistic sacrifice we are most closely united to the worship of the heavenly Church; when in the fellowship of communion we honor and remember the glorious Mary ever virgin, St. Joseph, the holy apostles and martyrs and all the saints. (Lumen gentium, 48)

Using the method of Saint Cyril and Methodius Pope Benedict spoke about the work of the Church in making the faith intelligible to people using their own language. The task of inculturation is an extremely difficult work because of the nuances of language and culture. Just look at the headaches in translating catechisms, papal speeches and liturgical texts today. The coalescing of faith and culture is a work the Church has done since the time of Christ. Watch the video clip on the subject.

The Pope said, in part: 

This was a decisive factor for the development of the Slavic civilization in general. Cyril and Methodius were convinced that the various peoples could not consider that they had fully received Revelation until they had heard it in their own language and read it with the characters proper to their own alphabet.

To Methodius falls the merit of ensuring that the work began by his brother would not remain sharply interrupted. While Cyril, the "philosopher," tended toward contemplation, he [Methodius] was directed more toward the active life. In this way, he was able to establish the foundations of the successive affirmation of what we could call the "Cyril-Methodian idea," which accompanied the Slavic peoples in the various historical periods, favoring cultural, national and religious development. Pope Pius XI already recognized this with the apostolic letter Quod Sanctum Cyrillum, in which he classified the two brothers as "sons of the East, Byzantines by their homeland, Greeks by origin, Romans by their mission, Slavs by their apostolic fruits" (AAS 19 [1927] 93-96).

The historic role that they fulfilled was afterward officially proclaimed by Pope John Paul II who, with the apostolic letter Egregiae Virtutis Viri, declared them co-patrons of Europe, together with St. Benedict (AAS 73 [1981] 258-262). Indeed, Cyril and Methodius are a classic example of what is today referred to with the term "inculturation": Each people should make the revealed message penetrate into their own culture, and express the salvific truth with their own language. This implies a very exacting work of "translation," as it requires finding adequate terms to propose anew the richness of the revealed Word, without betraying it. The two brother saints have left in this sense a particularly significant testimony that the Church continues looking at today to be inspired and guided. (Wednesday Audience, June 17, 2009)

J A DiNoia OP.jpgToday, the Holy Father nominated Dominican Father Joseph Augustine Di Noia, 66, as the archbishop secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disciple of the Sacraments. He is given the archepiscopal dignity and is assigned the Titular See of Oregon City.

A native of New York, a professed member of the Order of Friars Preachers, DiNoia possesses an earned doctorate from Yale and he is an esteemed professor. He is the past editor of the Thomist (a journal of Theological research and opinion). Until now Archbishop-elect DiNoia was the under-secretary for the CDF.
Archbishop-elect Joseph Augustine DiNoia, O.P. will be ordained to the episcopacy by His Eminence, William Cardinal Levada at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC on 11 July 2009.

Blessings, my friend! May God grant you many years!
Rouault head of Christ.jpg'God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him' (1 Jn 4:16). God has poured out his love in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (cf. Rom 5:5); therefore the first and most necessary gift is charity, by which we love God above all things and our neighbor because of him. But if charity is to grow and fructify in the soul like a good seed, each of the faithful must willingly hear the word of God and carry out his will with deeds, with the help of his grace; he must frequently partake of the sacraments, chiefly the Eucharist, and take part in the liturgy; he must constantly apply himself to prayer, self-denial, active brotherly service and the practice of all virtues. This is because love, as the bond of perfection and fullness of the law (cf. Col 3:14; Rom 13:10), governs, gives meaning to, and perfects all the means of sanctification. Hence the true disciple of Christ is marked by love both of God and of his neighbor. (Lumen Gentium, 42)

Let us then rise at length, since the Scripture arouse us, saying: "It is now the hour for us to rise from sleep" (Romans 13:11); and having opened our eyes to the deifying light, let us hear with awestruck ears what the divine voice, crying out daily, does admonish us, saying: "Today, if you shall hear his voice, harden not your hearts" (Psalm 94[95]:8). And again: "He that hath ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches" (Revelation 2:7). And what doth He say? "Come, children, hearken unto me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord" (Psalm 33[34]:12). "Run whilst you have the light of life, that the darkness of death overtake you not" (John 12:35).

From the Prologue of the Holy Rule of our Holy Father Saint Benedict

Joy is the sign of God

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Joy is the most infallible sign of the Presence of God.
Father Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.
CVasil arms.jpgAs I noted a few weeks ago, Jesuit Father Cyril Vasil, 44, was nominated by the Pope to be Secretary for the Congregation for the Eastern Churches serving the Church with Cardinal Leonardo Sandri. He was ordained a bishop today in the papal Basilica of Saint Mary Major, across the street from where he resided and taught Eastern Canon Law at the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Today, is also the Archbishop's 22nd anniversary ordination as a priest and both ordinations were done by the same bishop.

As his coat of arms suggest, Archbishop is "Always Prepared" to serve the Lord and the Church.

May God grant Archbishop Cyril many years!

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Lauda Sion

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The Church has been given the gift of the enduring Presence of the Lord in the Eucharist. Last week celebrated Trinity Sunday and today Corpus Christi. This feast dates to when Pope Urban IV (1261-64) inaugurated the Feast of Corpus Christi and asked Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225-74) to compose the the Liturgy for the Church. A striking feature of today's Liturgy is singing of a poetic called a sequence, one of four done in the current liturgical life of the Church, though historically there were poetics for all the major feast of the Lord and others for saints. Today's marvelous sequence Lauda Sion,is sung prior to the proclamation of the Gospel. As all sacred texts do, Lauda Sion expresses Catholic faith in the Body and Blood of Christ. The three verses of Lauda Sion are given here but you may pray the entire text by visiting here.

Words a nature's course derange,

that in Flesh the bread may change

and the wine in Christ's own Blood.

Does it pass thy comprehending?

Faith, the law of light transcending,

leaps to things not understood.


Hail! Bread of the Angels, broken,

for us pilgrims food, and token

of the promise by Christ spoken,

children's meat, to dogs denied!

Shown in Isaac's dedication,

in the Manna's preparation,

in the Paschal immolation,

in old types pre-signified.

Jesus, Shepherd mild and meek,

shield the poor, support the weak;

help all who Thy pardon sue,

placing all their trust in You:

fill them with Your healing grace!

Source of all we have or know,

feed and lead us here below.

grant that with Your Saints above,

sitting at the feast of love

we may see You face to face.

Amen. Alleluia.

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Hidden God, devoutly I adore Thee, truly present underneath these veils: all my heart subdues itself before Thee, since it all before Thee faints and fails.

Not to sight, or taste, or touch be credit hearing only do we trust secure; I believe, for God the Son has said it- Word of truth that ever shall endure.

On the cross was veiled Thy Godhead's splendor, here Thy manhood lies hidden too; unto both alike my faith I render, and, as sued the contrite thief, I sue.

Though I look not on Thy wounds with Thomas, Thee, my Lord, and Thee, my God, I call: make me more and more believe Thy promise, hope in Thee, and love Thee over all.

O memorial of my Savior dying, Living Bread, that gives life to man; make my soul, its life from Thee supplying, taste Thy sweetness, as on earth it can.

Deign, O Jesus, Pelican of heaven, me, a sinner, in Thy Blood to lave, to a single drop of which is given all the world from all its sin to save.

Contemplating, Lord, Thy hidden presence, grant me what I thirst for and implore, in the revelation of Thy essence to behold Thy glory evermore, Amen.

Saint Anthony of Padua

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Vision of Anthony VCarducho.jpgMay the sacred solemnity of blessed Anthony, Thy Confessor and Doctor, give joy to Thy Church, O God; that she may ever be defended by spiritual help and deserve to enjoy eternal happiness.

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Saint Alice of Schaerbeek, a 13th century Cistercian-Benedictine nun, was known for her intense love of Christ. Since 1702 the Cistercians have been remembering Saint Alice liturgically.

She's the patron saint of those living with leprosy, the blind and paralyzed.

trinity.jpg... we contemplate the Most Holy Trinity as Jesus introduced us to it. He revealed to us that God is love "not in the oneness of a single Person, but in the Trinity of one substance" (Preface). He is the Creator and merciful Father; he is the Only-Begotten Son, eternal Wisdom incarnate, who died and rose for us; he is the Holy Spirit who moves all things, cosmos and history, toward their final, full recapitulation. Three Persons who are one God because the Father is love, the Son is love, the Spirit is love. God is wholly and only love, the purest, infinite and eternal love. He does not live in splendid solitude but rather is an inexhaustible source of life that is ceaselessly given and communicated. To a certain extent we can perceive this by observing both the macro-universe: our earth, the planets, the stars, the galaxies; and the micro-universe: cells, atoms, elementary particles. The "name" of the Blessed Trinity is, in a certain sense, imprinted upon all things because all that exists, down to the last particle, is in relation; in this way we catch a glimpse of God as relationship and ultimately, Creator Love. All things derive from love, aspire to love and move impelled by love, though naturally with varying degrees of awareness and freedom. "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!" (Ps 8: 1) the Psalmist exclaims. In speaking of the "name", the Bible refers to God himself, his truest identity. It is an identity that shines upon the whole of Creation, in which all beings for the very fact that they exist and because of the "fabric" of which they are made point to a transcendent Principle, to eternal and infinite Life which is given, in a word, to Love. "In him we live and move and have our being", St Paul said at the Areopagus of Athens (Acts 17: 28). The strongest proof that we are made in the image of the Trinity is this: love alone makes us happy because we live in a relationship, and we live to love and to be loved. Borrowing an analogy from biology, we could say that imprinted upon his "genome", the human being bears a profound mark of the Trinity, of God as Love.

(Pope Benedict XVI, 7 June 2009)
... forced to keep quiet by the State if the current law on lobbying stands. States officials in the Ethics Office are applying an unjust law to the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport; if the Catholics today, other Christian groups, Jews and Muslims tomorrow. As Bishop Lori correctly states, the Diocese of Bridgeport is not a lobbyist but a church. And as a church is the bishops and priests are called upon to teach, govern and to sanctify. The SB 1098 and other state bills that seek to change the mission of the Church violates constitutional freedoms. This is a matter, therefore, of all people's First Amendment rights, not just about the rights of Catholics to exercise their freedom to speak and assemble publicly. Efforts now must begin to work for the current rules for lobbyists to be changed and the ruling of the Ethics Office overturned. Civil and intelligent discourse please! The Fox News report is interesting because it reports the claim that the officials in the Ethics Office are objective. Hmmm, I don't see the evidence of that in this case. So, I can't say that I believe for one minute that the CT State Office of Ethics is content neutral, particularly when it comes to  the Roman Catholic Church in Connecticut, and more so when it comes to Bishop William Lori.  

Fox news reports
Priestly Ordination 2.jpgA recent article on who has competence to remove priests from ministry permanently is interesting and yet depressing. But it is a matter of reality that some men ordained to the priesthood of Jesus Christ do not remain priests. To think since the Second Vatican Council, as some researchers and commentators have  claimed, 100,000 priests have left their vocation as priests. If true, this fact is overwhelming to grasp.

One of my intentions is to pray for the priests who have left as well as though who currently serve as priests and seminarians preparing to be ordained. I am a bit selfish in mentioning the last intention since I fall in that category. Please join me in prayer in the coming year for these intentions.

Prayer to Saint Paul

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As the Year of Saint Paul comes to an end, let us pray this prayer for Saint Paul's intercession before the Divine Majesty.

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Glorious Saint Paul, most zealous Apostle, Martyr for the love of Christ, give us a deep faith, a steadfast hope, and a burning love for our Lord so that we can proclaim with you, "It is not I who live, but Christ lives in me." Help us become apostles serving the Church with a pure heart witnessing to her truth and beauty in the midst of the darkness of our days. With you we praise God our Father, "To him be glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever. Amen!"

Some websites for the Year of Saint Paul in case you've missed them:

The Year of Saint Paul was inaugurated by Pope Benedict XVI at the Benedictine Abbey of Saint Paul outside the Walls (Rome) on June 28, 2008 and will conclude on June 29, 2009, the solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul. Many bishops around the world have set up a jubilee Church where the faithful can make a pilgrimage receiving an indulgence of grace when going to confession, receiving Holy Communion and praying for the intentions of the Pope.

In the New England area New Haven's St Mary's Church (Archdiocese of Hartford), Greenwich's St Paul's Church (Diocese of Bridgeport), Worcester's St Paul Cathedral (Diocese of Worcester), and NYC's St Paul's Church (New York Archdiocese, W. 60th Str).

The above prayer is the Church's official jubilee prayer.

That today is Thursday, the day of the Eucharist and the priesthood, I thought I would republish most of the recent letter of Archbishop Piacenza (Secretary for the Congregation for the Clergy) who writes to the world's priests in view of the Year of the Priest. Reading the letter you see that he is right when he says that the holiness of priests is not for themselves, it is a sacrificial holiness, an offering with Christ, for the benefit of the entire Church. He writes to the priests: 

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Each day we are called to conversion, but we are called to it in a very particular way during this year, in union with all those who have received the gift of priestly ordination. Conversion to what? It is conversion to be ever more authentically that which we already are, conversion to our ecclesial identity of which our ministry is a necessary consequence, so that a renewed and joyous awareness of our "being" will determine our "acting", or rather will create the space allowing Christ the Good Shepherd to live in us and to act through us.

Our spirituality must be nothing other than the spirituality of Christ himself, the one and only Supreme High Priest of the New Testament.

In this year, which the Holy Father has providentially announced, we will seek together to concentrate on the identity of Christ the Son of God, in communion with the Father and the Holy Spirit, who became man in the virginal womb of Mary, and on his mission to reveal the Father and His wondrous plan of salvation. This mission of Christ carries with it the building up of the Church: behold the Good Shepherd (Cf. Jn. 19:1-21) who gives his life for the Church (Cf. Eph. 5: 25).

Yes, conversion every day of our lives so that Christ's manner of life may be the manner of life made ever more manifest in each one of us.

We must exist for others, we must undertake to live with the People in a union of holy and divine love (which clearly presupposes the richness of holy celibacy), which obliges us to live in authentic solidarity with those who suffer and who live in a great many types of poverty.

We must be labourers for the building up of the one Church of Christ, for which we must live purposefully and faithfully the communion of love with the Pope, with the Bishops, with our brother priests and with the Faithful. We must live this communion with the unbroken pilgrimage of the Church within the very sinews of the Mystical Body.

We should be able to run spiritually in this Year with a "wide open heart" so as to inwardly conform to our vocation the better to say, in truth "it is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me" (Gal. 2:20).

The holiness of priests redounds to the benefit of the entire ecclesial Body. Thus it would be most fitting for all of us, be that the ordained Faithful, seminarians, the male and female religious, and the lay Faithful, to find ourselves all together at the Vatican Basilica for the Vespers presided over by the Holy Father, which will be celebrated after welcoming the reliquary of the heart of that most outstanding priestly model who is St. John Mary Vianney.

Those who are unable to be in City of Rome are encouraged to join themselves spiritually to the occasion.

+Mauro Piacenza

Titular Archbishop of Vittoriana Segretario

Saint Barnabas

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O God, Who does gladden us by the merits and intercession of blessed Barnabas, Thy Apostle; mercifully grant that we who implore Thy blessings through him, may obtain them by the gift of Thy grace.

The Catholic Handbook for Visiting the Sick and Homebound

Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 2009 [an annual publication]; 245 pages. $5.00.

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Since 2006 Liturgy Training Publications has been publishing this annual publication to assist the lay ministers called by the pastor to help him in his ministry of visiting the sick and homebound. At the time I was an editor at LTP and The Catholic Handbook for Visiting the Sick and Homebound was one of my responsibilities but since then there's been some slight improvements to the original manuscript. This resource is based on experience; I had knowledge that many people neither had the proper formation nor the familiarity with the ritual books enough to know which were the appropriate rites for the laity to exercise their ministry. Not infrequently did I hear the horror stories of liturgical abuse in the hospitals, prisons, healthcare centers and in homes. Gross ignorance of what the Church expected and a lack of pastoral skill caused more harm to the faith. Three years after the initiating this publication, but no longer in the employ of LTP but now in pastoral life, I continue to hear about and witness the spiritual malpractice of lay ministers when it comes to these matters. I believe God's people need to hear the Gospel proclaimed and the rites respected; all the more for those who are ill or weak due to age. This publication is not a panacea but it does ably assist in allowing Christ to be present to those in need.

This Handbook has all the tools necessary to make a proper pastoral visit to those who request the ministrations of the Church. The book has an excellent introduction, the nine rites available to the laity for such pastoral visits, the Gospel and holy day readings, a brief explanation of the readings and the list of patron saints. The Handbook shows the user how to make room for prayer in special circumstances.

Benedictine Sister Genevieve Glen's introduction is essential reading. It's not an overstatement to say that if you skip her introduction then you will miss some very essential theological and pastoral insights for effective ministry of care. For example, the introduction covers elements "using the book," being pastorally present, what needs to be done prior to a visit, carrying the Blessed Sacrament, prayer, use of music, and the like. Moreover, Sister Genevieve leads the user through what the rites mean, what needs special attention and the basics for good interpersonal skills. Remember, the Church's ministry is always personal. The ministry is directed toward the patient, the family and at times the healthcare professionals. As Sister Genevieve reminds the user: you bring a word of God to those in need, those visited also witness Christ to us --ministry is a two-way street.

The rites are taken from the Book of Blessings and the Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum. The Scripture readings are taken from the Lectionary. The Handbook carries the imprimatur of the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Chicago.

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Recent additions to this volume are the "Order of Blessing of a Person Suffering from Addiction or from Substance Abuse," "Order for the Blessing of a Victim of Crime or Oppression and the "Order of Blessing of Parents after a Miscarriage." These new orders are very welcomed today since we often neglect the spiritual needs of those suffering from addiction, substance abuse, and the after-effects of crime, oppression and miscarriage. How often do we pray with and for those living with these experiences in their hearts? As ministers of Jesus Christ, priests and laity always need to keep in mind those who suffer.

Often overlooked is idea that it is Christ under the power of the Holy Spirit who works through the rites, not the personality of the minister. Let's be clear: Christ uses us to do His work; Christ does not do our work. Our responsibility is to act as Christ would act because it is He who heals and saves through ministry. The Church has beautifully responded to this human need with the appropriate rites. In doing so, the Church closes off the possibility for those who would want to do their own thing and doing it haphazardly.

Personal preparation by making the rites and Gospel message through prayer and study will help the user of this book more effective. The encouragement is that you enter prayerfully and deliberately into the heart of the Church through the Church's rites. Every lay person bringing Holy Communion to those not present at the Sunday celebration of Mass ought to get The Catholic Handbook for Visiting the Sick and Homebound annually. This book is also available in Spanish.

You can download the 2009 Communion & Liberation Fraternity Spiritual Exercises; the booklet is available in four languages. The print edition will be available with the June issue of Traces magazine. Log on to the CL site here.
The great feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and with that the opening of the Year of the Priest (June 19), ought to be a time for us to focus on our study and prayer on the mercy and medicine offered to us by the Lord. Why is this feast an apt time for us to focus our energies on the theology of the Sacred Heart? Because as the psalmist says, seek His face; it is a true school of the Lord's love. I believe, as you might, that the feast of the Sacred Heart is a propitious time to come to understand the wisdom and knowledge of the Divine Heart.

Father Richard Neilson's 1988 article "The Sacred Heart and the Eucharist" is a good place to start.
A global coalition of youth, the World Youth Alliance, founded in 1999, has more than a million followers, that is a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) at the United Nations with special consultative status, this Salt and Light TV interview gives us insight into the great work begun by Anna Halpine just over 11 years ago. Doing something great for humanity beginning with real experience is God's grace to us.

Building a culture of life: the World Youth Alliance is  a reasonable voice proposing a life-giving vision for humanity, by making the reality of human dignity a known fact.

Watch the documentary video on the World Youth Alliance which works to promote the fact that every person has human dignity, that it's intrinsic and it lasts forever.
Yesterday there was a story that caught my attention at the Catholic News Service (CNS) site: "Father's suicide attempt leads Catholic family to help others." The odd thing for me is that yesterday I put out in the parish vestibule a booklet on suicide (see below) thinking it might be helpful to some of the parishioners because the topic seems timely and since a young man accidentally committed suicide last year here.

Facing our own human frailty and that of others confronts us daily. Few escape serious impact of personal issues which belong to us, or of those of others, especially if you are pastoral care worker, teacher, nurse, doctor, priest, etc. Mental illness, the various forms of depression, emotional issues, un-processed feelings and the like all impact our lives in ways that may or may not be known to us. Certainly, some people attempt suicide to get attention, others involuntarily commit suicide while still others actually intend to do that desperate act. My first experience of suicide was during my high school years when a teacher of mine committed suicide. Over the years I've known of others --through pastoral engagements-- who wanted out of life and others who were playing a game and one-thing-led-to-another. The fact is, suicide is a reality in our lives and we have to deal with it sensitively and competently.

When I was at the Catholic Information Service at the Knights of Columbus I edited what I think is a helpful booklet to assist students, parents, clergy, pastoral care workers, teachers, really anyone interested in helping another understand the reality of taking one's life and how to be attentive to suicidal signs. It is not enough to parrot the Church's teaching and point someone to the necessary resources; you have to act like Christ and be knowledgeable enough to respond humanely and spiritually. Professionals have their work to do and friends, family and other friendly people have theirs.

Read "Coping with a Suicide: Catholic Teaching and Pastoral Practice." You can order a hard copy by sending an email to cis@kofc.org.

My Lord and my God...

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My Lord and my God, take from me everything that distances me from you.
My Lord and my God, give me everything that brings me closer to you.
My Lord and my God, detach me from myself to give my all to you.

Prayer of Saint Nicholas of Flue
patron of Switzerland

Saint Ephrem

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St Ephrem.jpgO God, Who has willed to enlighten Thy Church by the wondrous learning and excellent merits of the life of blessed Ephrem, Thy Confessor and Doctor: we humbly beseech Thee that by his intercession Thou may defend it by Thine everlasting power against the snares of error and wickedness.

God does not live in splendid solitude... watch the rest here.

Today is the 120th anniversary of death of Father Gerard Manley Hopkins, the Jesuit poet.



When will you ever, Peace, wild wooddove, shy wings shut,

Your round me roaming end, and under be my boughs?

When, when, Peace, will you, Peace? I'll not play hypocrite

To own my heart: I yield you do come sometimes; but

That piecemeal peace is poor peace. What pure peace allows

Alarms of wars, the daunting wars, the death of it?


O surely, reaving Peace, my Lord should leave in lieu

Some good! And so he does leave Patience exquisite,

That plumes to Peace thereafter. And when Peace here does house

He comes with work to do, he does not come to coo,

He comes to brood and sit.

Old St Pat charcoal.jpgAccording a news article in today's Daily News, Archbishop Dolan is petitioning the Holy See  to name Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral a minor basilica (the Wiki article as some other useful info). There are 2 basilicas in the Brooklyn Diocese but none in the Archdiocese. While it is largely an honorary distinction, it is seen as important and therefore prestigious. The old cathedral is quite a place as it continues to serve the spiritual needs of God's people. For example, Holy Mass is celebrated in English, Spanish and Chinese each week.

Yesterday, June 7, 2009, Archbishop Dolan inaugurated the 200th anniversary of the cathedral.

There are three distinctions for basilicas: there are four major basilica, directly connected with the Pope, and therefore are called "papal" (St Peter's, St Paul outside the Walls, St John Lateran and St Mary Major); there are eight pontifical minor basilicas (all in Italy); and the rest of the world's basilicas are "minor" basilicas but no less distinguished because they too are connected with the Holy Father but they don't have "papal altars and thrones." 

In the USA there are 60+ minor basilicas. If the Holy See makes Old Saint Patrick's a basilica it would take precedence over the other NY churches except for the Cathedral, have the use of the tintinabulum (a bell on a pole which would signal the arrival of the pope) and an umbrella (carried over the
 pope for protection) and carried by the laity behind the processional cross; the rector would be able to wear a grey mozzetta. The list of basilicas can be read here.

A helpful, but dated article but there's some reliable info for us in the United States.

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The Church professes her faith in the one God, who is at the same time the Most Holy and ineffable Trinity of Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Church lives by this truth contained in the most ancient symbols of faith. Paul VI recalled it in our times on the occasion of the 1900th anniversary of the martyrdom of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul (1968), in the symbol he presented which is universally known as the Credo of the People of God.

Only "he who has wished to make himself known to us, and who 'dwelling in light inaccessible' (1 Timothy 6:16) is in himself above every name, above every thing and above every created intellect...can give us right and full knowledge of this reality by revealing himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in whose eternal life we are by grace called to share, here below in the obscurity of faith and after death in eternal light."

God is incomprehensible to us. He wished to reveal himself, not only as the one creator and Almighty Father, but also as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This revelation reveals in its essential source the truth about God, who is love: God is live in the interior life itself of the one divinity. This live is revealed as an ineffable communion of persons. This "mystery the most profound, the mystery of the intimate life of God himself" has been revealed to us by Jesus Christ: "He who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known" (John 1:18). The last words with which Christ concluded his earthly mission after the resurrection were addressed to the apostles, according to St. Matthew's Gospel: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations. Baptize them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:119). These words began the Church's mission and indicated her fundamental and constitutive task. The Church's first task is to teach and baptize, to baptize means "to immerse" (therefore one baptizes with water) so that all may come to share God's trinitarian life.

(Pope John Paul II, General Audience, October 9, 1985) 

Saint Norbert of Xanten

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O God, Who did raise up blessed Norbert, Thy Confessor and Bishop, to be an illustrious preacher of Thy word, and through him did render Thy Church fruitful with a new offspring; grant we beseech Thee, that helped by his merits we may practice by Thy grace what he taught both by word and deed. 

This year is the 875th anniversary of the death of Saint Norbert of Xanten, the founder of the 12th century Order of Premontre (the Norbertines). 

The Pope, on behalf of the Church, wishes "to give thanks to the Lord for the many gifts He has bestowed through the extraordinary evangelical witness and exemplary zeal of your Holy Founder, the Holy Father hopes that this happy occasion will inspire a renewed fidelity to the model of the first Christian community gathered around the Eucharist and persevering in prayer with Mary, the mother of Jesus.  May each monastery of the Order experience an increase in faithful dedication to the Church, austerity of life, missionary zeal, and the spirit of hospitality so that each monastery will become even more a house of prayer and a school of faith."

Saint Boniface

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O God, Who by the zeal of blessed Boniface, Thy Martyr and Bishop, did vouchsafe to call a multitude of people to the knowledge of Thy Name; mercifully grant that we who celebrate his festival may also enjoy his protection.

From a Letter by Saint Boniface

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In her voyage across the ocean of this world, the church is like a great ship being pounded by the waves of life's different stresses. Our duty is not to abandon ship but to keep her on her course. The ancient Father showed us how we should carry out this duty: Clement, Cornelius and many others in the city of Rome, Cyprian at Carthage, Athanasius at Alexandria. They all lived under emperors who were pagans; they all steered Christ's ship -or rather his most dear spouse, the church. This they did by teaching and defending her, by their labors and sufferings, even to the shedding of blood.

I am terrified when I think of all this. "Fear and trembling came upon me and the darkness" of my sins "almost covered me." I would gladly give up the task of guiding the church which I have accepted if I could find such an action warranted by the example of the Father or by Holy Scripture. Since this is the case, and since the truth can be assaulted but never defeated or falsified, with our tired mind let us turn to the words of Solomon: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own prudence. Think on him in all your ways, and he will guide your steps." In another place he says: "The name of the Lord is an impregnable tower. The just man seeks refuge in it and he will be saved."

Let us stand fast in what is right and prepare our souls for trial. Let us wait upon God's strengthening aid and say to him: "O Lord, you have been our refuge in all generations." Let us trust in him who has placed this burden upon us. What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ. For he is all-powerful and he tells us: "My yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Let us continue to fight on the day of the Lord. "The days of anguish and of tribulation" have overtaken us; if God so wills, "let us die for the holy laws of our fathers," so that we may deserve to obtain an eternal inheritance with them.

Let us be neither dogs that do not bark nor silent onlookers nor paid servants who run away before the wolf. Instead let us be careful shepherds watching over Christ's flock. Let us preach the whole of God's plan to the powerful and to the humble, to rich and to the poor, to people of every rank and age, as far as God gives us the strength, in season and out of season, as Saint Gregory writes in his Book of Pastoral Instruction.


ASSISI, Italy (CNS) -- Spanish Father Jose Rodriguez Carballo was re-elected to head the Franciscan order during a general chapter May 24-June 20 in Assisi, Italy, the birthplace of St. Francis. Father Carballo, 55, was elected to a second six-year term as minister general of the Order of Friars Minor June 4. Some 152 representatives of the order reconfirmed the Spanish friar during the Assisi meeting as the leader of the 15,000 Franciscans who live in 113 countries. Father Carballo is the 119th successor of St. Francis and will lead the Order of the Friars Minor until 2015. The delegates will celebrate the 800th anniversary of the founding of their order June 9. Father Carballo told reporters at the end of May that during the general chapter the delegates were looking at how well the order has met the priorities set in 2003 for deepening spirituality, improving fraternal life and living as poor among the poor and in solidarity with all those in need. Second, he said, they would try to find new ways to meet the challenge of being missionaries in the modern world.

capgen09logo.jpgThe General Chapter of the Franciscan Order is meeting right now in Assisi. This is a privileged time of fraternity because it gives the brotherhood to review the past 800 years and sets in motion a vision for living that follows more closely in the footsteps of Saint Francis and Christ crucified and risen. The friars produced a terrific video that's hopeful and powerful. You can view "I dream of a Franciscan Life" here.

Keep the Franciscans (OFM) in prayer as they review their manner of life and prepare to elected a new minister general. You can follow the important moments of the Chapter at the link above.

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.

God who loves us, gave us life.

Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into

    us without limit.


All the things in this world are gifts of God,

    presented to us so that we can know God more easily

    and make a return of love more readily.


As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God

    insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.

But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,

    they displace God

    and so hinder our growth toward our goal.

In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance

    before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice

    and are not bound by some obligation.

We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,

    wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.

For everything has the potential of calling forth in us

    a deeper response to our life in God.


Our only desire and our one choice should be this:

I want and I choose what better

    leads to the deepening of God's life in me.


Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises

On May 30th, the Vigil of Pentecost, Pope Benedict answered three questions of young people with extraordinary simplicity. The tenderness of the Pope's answers is breadth-taking. This it the second time he's taken questions from the youth. The following is Alessandro's question and you can read the rest of questions here. Plus, visit the Holy Childhood Association website AND get involved with their mission as the Pope encourages.

Dear Pope Benedict, you are the first missionary. How can we young people help you to proclaim the Gospel?


Answer: I would say that one initial way is this: work with the Pontifical Society of Missionary Childhood. In this way you are part of a great family that brings the Gospel to the world. In this way you belong to a great network. We see here how the family of the different peoples is reflected. You are in this great family: each one does his part, and together you are missionaries, bearers of the missionary work of the Church. You have an excellent program: to listen, pray, learn, share, support. These are essential elements that really are a way of being missionary, of advancing the growth of the Church and the presence of the Gospel in the world. I would like to highlight some of these points.

First of all, prayer. Prayer is a reality: God listens to us, and when we pray, God enters into our lives, he becomes present among us, active. Prayer is a very important thing, which can change the world, because it makes the power of God present. And it is important to help each other to pray: we pray together in the liturgy, we pray together in the family. And here I would say that it is important to begin the day with a little prayer, and also to end the day with a little prayer: remembering our parents in prayer. Pray before lunch, before dinner, and on the occasion of the common celebration on Sunday. A Sunday without the Mass, the great common prayer of the Church, is not a real Sunday: the heart of Sunday is missing, and with it the light of the week. And you can also help others - especially when there are no prayers at home, when prayer is unknown - you can teach others to pray: pray with others and introduce them to communion with God.

Next, listening, which means really learning what Jesus tells us. Moreover, knowing the Sacred Scripture, the Bible. In the story of Jesus, we come to know the face of God, we learn what God is like. It is important to know Jesus deeply, personally. This is how he enters into our lives, and, through our lives, enters into the world.

And also sharing, not wanting things for ourselves alone, but for all; sharing with others. And if we see another who may be in need, who is less fortunate, we must help him and in this way make the love of God present without big words, in our little personal world, which is part of the big world. And in this way we become a family together, where each respects the other: bearing with the other in his uniqueness, even accepting those we don't like, not letting anyone be marginalized, but helping him to be part of the community. All of this simply means living in this big family of the Church, in this big missionary family.

Living the essential points like sharing, knowing Jesus, prayer, listening to each other, and solidarity is a missionary activity, because it helps the Gospel to become a reality in our world.

Today is the 22nd anniversary of death of my paternal grandfather, Julius Zalonski. He died after nearly four months of serious health issues. In 1987, Grampi was the first of my grandparents to go to the Lord. His death, like all deaths in a family leave a hole the heart, even 22 years later.

I find the fact that I had four grandparents as a part of life for my first 18 years is in fact a singular grace. He was a strong, quiet, serious, faithful man. The countless times I spent with my grandfather are still very present to me. My grandfather was a steel worker and a farmer, a brother, a husband and father of 4, and a grandfather of 6.

Lord God, almighty Father, You have made the cross for us a sign of strength and marked us as Yours in the sacrament of the resurrection. Now that you have freed our brother Julius from this mortal life make him one with Your saints in heaven.
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Our friend is finally resting in peace.

Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., was buried on June 1 at the Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, NY. He died on December 12th. A Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated December 18th at the Cathedral of Saint Patrick by Cardinal Edward Egan.

Cardinal Dulles was the Laurence J. McGinley Professor of Religion and Society at Fordham University since 1988. He was the first American to become a cardinal without first becoming a bishop.

The Sacrifice of Mass celebrated by Bishop Howard Hubbard for the soul of Cardinal Dulles at the Coliseum Church on the grounds of the shine. The Cardinal received an escort by a pair of Naval officers, in recognition of Cardinal Dulles' military service during Second World War.

The Shrine of the North American Martyrs is the only one of its kind in the USA. There rests the Jesuit martyrs Saints Rene Goupil (1642), Isaac Jogues (1646), John Laland (1646) and others. New York Province Jesuits are buried in the cemetery at the Shrine.

The recent article in the UK's Catholic Herald of John Henry Newman's biographer who takes on the gay revisionists who try to rewrite the life of the late convert-cardinal-now-saint-hopeful. Father Ian Kerr defends Newman by trying to understand the meaning of the man's life and words. I think the 19th century priest Father St. John is correct: we've lost a concept of affectionate friendship that's not sexual.
Thumbnail image for Fr Ragheed Ganni, martyred.jpgToday, it seems, is a day of remembering because it is an anniversary of two important witnesses of Jesus Christ: one is Blessed Pope John XXIII and the other is the 35 year old Iraqi priest, Father Ragheed Ganni. A Chaldean Catholic priest, Ganni was killed with three of his deacons after celebrating the Holy Mysteries. Forced from their car they were told to renounce faith in Christ and make their submission to Islam. They refused to renounce Christ and were gunned down.

Lord, you gave Ragheed Ganni Your servant and priest the privilege of a holy mystery in this world. May he rejoice for ever in the glory of Your kingdom.

Sandro Magister's essay on Father Ganni's last Mass...

Here is the story of Father Ganni published on the first anniversary of his death.

On 27 January 2009, Pope Benedict received the priestly vestments of Father Ganni and those of another witness to Jesus Christ, Archbishop Paul Rahho.

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Today we observe the 46th anniversary of the death of a great Father of the Church, Blessed John XXIII (known in history as Angelo Giuseppi Roncalli). Many will remember him as the "smiling pope". He was the pope of senior age who called the Second Vatican Council.

In the course of time the Church has recognized this pope's holiness and he was declared a "blessed" by Pope John Paul II. Blessed John's liturgical memorial is observed on 11 October and he is the patron of papal delegations.

Pope John Paul II thoughts of Pope John are a fantastic summary of John's beauty:

Everyone remembers the image of Pope John's smiling face and two outstretched arms embracing the whole world. How many people were won over by his simplicity of heart, combined with a broad experience of people and things! The breath of newness he brought certainly did not concern doctrine, but rather the way to explain it; his style of speaking and acting was new, as was his friendly approach to ordinary people and to the powerful of the world. It was in this spirit that he called the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, thereby turning a new page in the Church's history Christians heard themselves called to proclaim the Gospel with renewed courage and greater attentiveness to the "signs" of the times. The Council was a truly prophetic insight of this elderly Pontiff who, even amid many difficulties, opened a season of hope for Christians and for humanity. In the last moments of his earthly life, he entrusted his testament to the Church: "What counts the most in life is blessed Jesus Christ, his holy Church, his Gospel, truth and goodness"

God our Father, you reward all who believe in You. May Your servant, John XXIII, our Pope, vicar of Peter, and shepherd of Your Church, who faithfully administered the mysteries of Your forgiveness and love on earth, rejoice with You for ever in heaven.


John 23 arms.jpg

Born: 25 November 1881

Professed as a Secular Franciscan: 23 May 1897

Ordained priest: 10 August 1904

Appointed Apostolic Visitator in Bulgaria: 3 March 1925

Ordained bishop: 19 March 1925

Appointed Apostolic Delegate in Turkey & Greece: 12 January 1935

Appointed Nuncio in France: 23 December 1944

Created cardinal & Patriarch of Venice: 12 & 15 January 1953

Elected pope: 28 October 1958

Died: 3 June 1963

Beatified: 3 September 2000

Becoming like Christ

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Pay attention! The author has something really important to say:

The Encyclical Mystici Corporis says expressly: the Holy Spirit is communicated to the Church so that she and each of her members may become daily more and more like to our Savior. Those whom God foreknew he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son (Romans 8:29); every Christian is holy and pleasing to God to the extent that he has become like Christ.

And it is the Holy Spirit who is the artisan who will fashion the traits of the divine resemblance in us, making us daily more and more like to our Savior. If we would cooperate fully with his action, each day would witness some progress in our becoming more like Christ.

Struck by this thought, [Blessed] Sr. Elizabeth of the Trinity prayed: Spirit of love, descend within me and reproduce in me as it were, an incarnation of the Word, that I may be to him another humanity; wherein he renews his mystery.

If Christ is the model to which all the baptized should conform, there is no presumption in aspiring to become so like him that he can renew his mystery in us, or rather, prolong in us his work of glorifying the Father and of redeeming men. Indeed this is exactly Jesus' desire in sending us his Spirit.

Father Gabriel of Saint Mary Magdalen, OCD, Divine Intimacy

The African martyrs add another page to the martyrology--the Church's role of honor--an occasion both of mourning and of joy. This is a page worthy in every way to be added to the annals of that Africa of earlier times which we, living in this era and being people of little faith, never expected to be repeated.

St Charles Lwanga and followers.jpg

In earlier times there occurred those famous deeds, so moving to the spirit, of the martyrs of Scilli, of Carthage and of that "white robed army" of Utica commemorated by Saint Augustine and Prudentius; of the martyrs of Egypt so highly praised by Saint John Chrysostom and of the martyrs of the Vandal persecution. Who would have thought that in our days we should have witnessed events as heroic and glorious?

Who could have predicted to the famous African confessors and martyrs such as Cyprian, Felicity, Perpetua and the greatest of all, Augustine, that we would one day add the names so dear to us as Charles Lwanga and Matthias Mulumba Lekemba and their twenty companions? Nor must we forget those members of the Anglican Church who also died for the name of Christ.

These African martyrs herald the dawn of a new age. If only the mind of man might be directed not toward persecutions and religious conflicts but toward a rebirth of Christianity and civilization!

Africa has been washed by the blood of these latest martyrs, the first of this new age (and, God willing, let them be the last, although such a holocaust is precious indeed). Africa is reborn free and independent.

The infamous crime by which these young men were put to death was so unspeakable and so expressive of the times. It shows us clearly that a new people needs a moral foundation, needs new spiritual customs firmly planted, to be handed down to posterirty. Symbolically, this crime also reveals that a simple and rough way of life -enriched by many fine human qualities yet enslaved by its own weakness and corruption--must give way to a more civilized life wherein the higher expressions of the mind and better social conditions prevail. (Pope Paul VI, homily at the canonization of St Charles, 1963)

Father, You have made the blood of the martyrs the seed of Christians. May the witness of Saint Charles and his companions and their loyalty to Christ in the face of torture inspire countless men and women to live the Christian faith.

Crossroads pres eval Pres.jpg

Two weeks ago in the School of Community we were discussing the answer Msgr. Giussani gave to a questioner who asks if it is reasonable for a non-believer to ask Christ for anything: Giussani says that it is completely reasonable to ask Christ to answer our needs because He is the answer to absolutely everything. Wow! Christ is the answer to everything for all time. Period. Christ is the answer is THE to every question, to every concern we have. Now, let's be serious: we're not saying Christ is the answer to whether we'll eat pasta or cereal today. He's the answer to questions of meaning, faith, vision, fulfillment, etc. What follows here is the Pope is addressing the matter of how and why the Church is engaged in culture. This is the same work that the World Youth Alliance is doing and what Communion & Liberation is about; the pope's explanation of ecclessial engagement in culture is reasonable. No?

The Church's engagement with civil society is anchored in her conviction that authentic human progress -- whether as individuals or communities -- is dependent upon the recognition of the spiritual dimension proper to every person. It is from God that men and women receive their essential dignity (cf. Gen 1:27) and the capacity to transcend particular interests in order to seek truth and goodness and so find purpose and meaning in their lives. This broad perspective provides a framework within which it is possible to counter any tendency to adopt superficial approaches to social policy which address only the symptoms of negative trends in family life and communities, rather than their roots. Indeed, when humanity's spiritual heart is brought to light, individuals are drawn beyond themselves to ponder God and the marvels of human life: being, truth, beauty, moral values, and relationships that respect the dignity of others. In this way a sure foundation to unite society and sustain a common vision of hope can be found.

(Pope Benedict XVI's address to the new Ambassador of New Zealand to the Holy See Robert Carey Moore-Jones, May 29, 2009)

I have to admit that I am not a frequent reader of the spiritual theology of Saint Josemaría Escriva but I am more and more interested in what he said because I think there is something that corresponds to my heart. Time will tell how he will affect my my life. 

Here the saint briefly speaks to the fact that we are called by the Gospel to conform to Christ --a message I tried to get across to the parish youth group. Of course, speaking of following AND conforming the self to the Will of God is a hard concept to get across to anyone let alone young people. As Christians we follow; we also closely adhere to the cross while looking to the resurrection. Be careful, you don't get the resurrection without the cross coming first.

Back to the saint's thought: Saint Josemaria said, for example, about the matter of sanctity and priesthood:

There is no second class sanctity: there is either a continuous struggle to be in the grace of God and conformed to Christ our model or we desert these divine battles. Our Lord invites everyone to sanctify himself in his own state. In Opus Dei this passion for sanctity--in spite of our individual errors and miseries--is not changed by the fact that one is a priest or a layperson. 

Saint Josemaría, Homily, Priest for Eternity, 13 April 1973
ACappuccio.jpegThe Knights of Columbus Museum is hosting an exhibit of an artist who has painted popes and scenes relevant to our human reality. Some hail Antonella Cappuccio as reviving a renaissance sense of painting. I like her work because it is evocative. See for yourself: the exhibit runs until October 4th.

KofC Museum is a philanthropic work of the Knights. The museum was founded in 1982. The museum is a contemporary work of the Knights that takes seriously the artistic interests of Father Michael McGivney who brought art and faith together when he served in various parishes in New Haven and Torrington, CT.

Today's New Haven Register article

Visit the Cappuccio webpage of the exhibit at The Knights of Columbus Museum

Saint Justin martyr

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The saints were seized and brought before the prefect of Rome, whose name was Rusticus. As they stood before the judgment seat, Rusticus the prefect said to Justin, "Above all, have faith in the gods and obey the emperors." Justin said, "We cannot be accused or condemned for obeying the commands of Our Savior, Jesus Christ."

Rusticus said, "What system of teaching do you profess?" Justin said, "I have tried to learn about every system, but I have accepted the true doctrines of the Christians, though these are not approved by those who are held fast by error." The prefect Rusticus said, "are those doctrines approved by you, wretch that you are?" Justin said, "Yes, for I follow them with their correct teaching." 

St Justin Martyr.jpg

The prefect Rusticus said, "What sort of teaching is that?" Justin said, "Worship the God of the Christians. We hold him to be from the beginning the one creator and maker of the whole creation, of things seen and things and unseen. We worship also the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He was foretold by the prophets as the future herald of salvation for the human race and the teacher of distinguished disciples. For myself, since I am a human being, I consider that what I say is insignificant in comparison with his infinite godhead. I acknowledge the existence of a prophetic power, for the one I have just spoken of as the Son of God was the subject of prophecy. I know that the prophets were inspired from above from when they spoke of his coming among us."

Rusticus said, "You are a Christian, then?" Justin said, "Yes, I am a Christian."

The prefect said to Justin, "You are called a learned man and think you know what is true teaching. Listen. If you were scourged and beheaded, are you convinced that you would go up to heaven?" Justin said, "I hope that I shall enter God's house if I suffer in that way. For I know that God's favor is stored up until the end of the whole world for all who have lived good lives."

The prefect Rusticus said, "Do you have an idea that you will go up to heaven to receive some suitable rewards?" Justin said, "It is not an idea that I have; it is something I know well and hold to be most certain." The prefect Rusticus said, "Now let us come to the point at issue, which is necessary and urgent. Gather round then and with one accord offer sacrifice to the gods." Justin said, "No one who is right-thinking stoops from true worship to false worship."

The prefect Rusticus said, "If you do not do as you are commanded you will be tortured without mercy." Justin said,, "We hope to suffer torment for the sake of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and so be saved. For this will bring us salvation and confidence as we stand before the more terrible and universal judgment seat of our Lord and Savior." In the same way the other martyrs said, "Do what you will. We are Christians; we do not offer sacrifice to idols."

The prefect Rusticus pronounced the sentence, saying, "Let those who have refused to sacrifice to the gods and obey the command of the emperor be scourged and led away to suffer away to suffer capital punishment according to the ruling of the laws." Glorifying God, the holy martyrs went out to the accustomed place. They were beheaded and so fulfilled their witness of martyrdom in confessing their faith in their savior.

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The general intention

That international efforts to help poorer nations bring prompt, concrete results to relieve the crushing burden of foreign debt.

The mission intention

That local Church communities serving areas torn by violence may be supported through the love and help offered by Catholics around the world.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.



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