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John 23 death.jpgIn daily life most of occasionally remember the passing of a loved with a visit to the cemetery, saying a prayer for the peaceful repose of the soul, perhaps having a Mass offered for the loved. These are normal Catholic practices in remembering the dead. But when you are a pope similar things happen, but just like with loved ones, there comes a point that we just don't actively remember anymore. Do we actively remember the dead? In my family, I think I am the only one to keep the memory of loved ones known, and try to beg God for mercy on the dead. This is a sad stage in our the evolving of our society. Today happens to be anniversary of death that I am recalling, four people from widely different backgrounds and vocations:

Blessed Pope John XXIII's 50 years since his death
Aunt Helen, 2002
Dom Basil Pennington, OCSO, monk, abbot, and author, Spencer, MA, 2005
Father Raghed Ganni and 3 subdeacons killed in Mosul, Iraq, 2007

John XXIII, was the supreme pontiff less than 5 years, was the smiling pope who called the Second Vatican Council, Aunt Helen was a wife and mother, Dom Basil was a Trappist monk of St Joseph's Abbey, Spencer, MA who was a prolific writer on the spiritual life and on Cistercian life, and Father Raghed Ganni and the subdeacons we gunned down for being Christian in a context of Islamic persecution. Of note, pilgrims from Blessed John's native region in Italy will be at Mass today and meet with Pope Francis. It is a good thing to remember our loved ones. They still are a part of our lives; they make up our DNA.

Let's offer a prayer for all these people asking God the Father of Mercies to be gentle and loving. But let's ask these people to ask God to bestow mercy upon us.

For Giovannimaria

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Emily and GMR 2013.jpgThis morning a dear little friend was called home to the Lord following a long and stressful encounter with neuroblastoma. Giovannimaria (GMR), 7, has been in the USA for the last few years, coming from Rome, to receive the best treatment possible from the health professionals at Memorial Sloan Kettering, NYC.

Giovannimaria suffered much, especially in the last few months. He bore significant pain and an experience of several hospitalizations.

Having been with the GMR and his family has been a good thing for me for this reason: he has helped me in no demonstrable way to reflect on the meaning of life, suffering, faith, friendship, healthcare, people's dignity and the like. This was a profound experience for me; it was life altering for GMR. While I can say that GMR and his family opened new doors to what it means to belong to Jesus in a concrete way. I was with GMR when he first received the Eucharistic Lord but he alone made the journey to meet the Lord personally.

I hope when GMR met Jesus earlier today he asked Him why he had to live and die from a disease as painful as neuroblastoma. I am looking forward to the real answer. Perhaps the Lord said to GMR, "you had the tumors to show the world what it means to have mercy for oneself, others and those who are not like me; to allow me to love you and the others in a big way."

With the Church we pray,

O God, who called your servant Giovannimaria to serve you in affliction and sickness, grant, we pray, that he who followed your Son's example of suffering, may also receive the reward of his glory.

In this picture is Giovannimaria and our friend, Emily. Photo courtesy of George Goss, Dominican Foundation.

Praying for John Shankman

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JShankman.jpghe friends and family are uniting prayer for Kim & Don Shankman's son, John, a high school senior was injured in a car accident last week. John has been on a roller coaster ride regarding his health.

Kim is the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Benedictine College, Atchison, KS.

You may read about matter here.

We are praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Join us.

Go to Jesus with the help of Saint Faustina, Saint Richard Pampuri, Blessed John Paul and the Servant of God Father Luigi Giussani.

Dad's 72

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Mom and Dad 31 Aug 2012.jpeg
My Dad is 72 today. Happy Birthday!
Here's a picture of both my Mom and Dad after lunch today.

May God grant many years!
Br Benjamin Sunday.jpg

Notre Dame High School (West Haven, CT) legend and friend to all Brother Benjamin Sunday, C.S.C., recently celebrated his birthday! 

In true Brother Benjamin style, he wouldn't tell us what day nor how old he is, but we wanted to wish him a happy birthday publically nonetheless! But he can't be more than 55.

To view a photo album of Brother Benjamin pictures through the years, please visit the ND photo album page .

Happy Birthday and abundant blessings, Brother Benjamin! 

Fr Mathew Mauriello.jpgToday, we celebrated a friend's 25th anniversary of priestly ordination. The Very Reverend Canon Matthew R. Maurielo, priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, was honored by a host of family and friends. His parents were especially joyous.

Holy Mass was celebrated at Father Matthew's parish, Saint Roch's (Greenwich, CT) by his friend and spiritual father the Most Reverend Arthur J. Serratelli, bishop of Paterson, NJ.

With the Church we pray,

Holy Father, who by no merit of his own, you chose Father Matthew for communion with the eternal priesthood of your Christ and for the ministry of your Church, grant that he may be an ardent yet gentle preacher of the Gospel and a faithful steward of your mysteries.

Father Matthew is the author of Mercies Remembered (2011).

Ad multos annos, Don Mateo!
The funeral rites of the Catholic Church say it all: 

In him the hope of blessed resurrection has dawned, that those saddened by the certainty of dying might be consoled by the promise of immortality to come. Indeed for your faithful, Lord, life is changed not ended, and, when this earthly dwelling turns to dust, an eternal dwelling is made ready for them in heaven. (Preface I For the Dead)

Earlier today I went to the Mass of Christian Burial of a childhood friend who lost her fight against breast cancer at the age of 40. Maureen Leary Minnick grew up near me, she and her family have been friends of my family for years; her parents are daily communicants at the local Catholic parish and her brother and I were in the Boy Scouts and in high school together. I am saddened by Maureen's death. Much was revealed about Maureen that I didn't know but now cherish. Time has a way of being a great separator. Maureen faced her life and death in the same way: with courage, love, joy, resolution to make life better. In short, her life was not a fairy tale but one that had certainty of faith and joy. She leaves a great husband and two small boys (who have their mother's good looks). Maureen died on July 1.

The paradox of the Christian life is such that in order to live fully we have to give it away. In Maureen's case, she had to offer her life to the Lord earlier that most. 

This week, too, a friend at the parish had succumbed also to breast cancer after a long and bitter fight with that disease. Monika Forndran fought long and hard and with dignity; she clearly knew that her Calvary was like that of the Lord's, and that His triumph over sin and death was also hers by adoption that happened in the resurrection. Monika's death happened on June 30.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of us all, Saint Agatha, patron saint of those who (and die) of diseases of the breast, guide Maureen and Monika to Paradise. May we recall the grace that in death life is changed not ended as rest on the heart of the Lord.

A casual summer Saturday

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Saturday's are days to catch up on things: sleep, errands, oil change for the car, watering the garden, especially the vegetables; even having lunch with a friend and dinner with my family. It was a somewhat lazy summer day. In between I made a visit to Our Lady of Grace Monastery (North Guilford, CT) for the rosary, some quiet time with the Lord and to browse the gift shop. And of course, going to Confession. You?

Happy Father's Day 2012

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Father's Day.jpeg
Happy Father's Day, Dad! Blessings!

Remembering Cyril

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Cyril Crawford OSB.jpgMy friend Father Cyril Crawford died unexpectedly a short time ago, on 15 May 2012. He died in his sleep in Leuven (Louvain), Belgium, at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, where he was working on a doctorate in Philosophy so that he could teach at his monastery's college.

Dom Cyril, 46, was a monk and a priest of the Abbey of Saint Joseph of Covington, LA. 

A photo tribute to Cyril can be seen here.

Over at The Substance of Things Hoped For, Benedictine Father Denis Robinson (Rector of Saint Meinrad Seminary) wrote a remembrance of Dom Cyril. Father Denis' words are very true and capture Cyril well. I met Cyril at Saint Meinrad's, in the library, and found him to be a friend.

My heart is saddened, deeply so. Cyril as a good monk, priest with an honest search for God and keen sense of humor and intellect.

More info including Abbot Justin Brown's homily at the Mass of Christian Burial of Cyril can be found here.

Saint Benedict and Saint Cyril of Alexandria, pray for Father Cyril, and for us.

25 years later

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Today marks the 25th anniversary of death of my dear grandfather, Julius J. Zalonski. I can't believe the time has moved so quickly. The noon Mass is celebrated for him as the Mass was celebrated for my grandmother last week on her 8th anniversary.

God was very good to me in giving me the grace of good grandparents on both sides of my family. A gift that allows me to be full of gratitude. Much good and love was experienced with my grandfather, more than what I am aware...

With the Church I pray,

O God, giver of pardon and loving author of our salvation, grant, we pray you, in your mercy, that through the intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever-Virign, and all the Saints, my grandfather Julius who has passed from this world 25 years ago, may attain a share in eternal happiness.

Happy Mother's Day

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I love you mom.jpg

Indeed, I love you Mom.

PAZ & Cardinal Francis George Feb 26 2012.jpgA Christian's observance of Lent brings with it, I hope, a certain discipline of prayer. At The Church of Saint Catherine of Siena (411 East 68th Street, NYC) the Sundays in Lent Solemn Vespers will be celebrated at 4 pm.

The Church's prayer is understood as consisting in Lauds, Vespers and Mass. The sacred Liturgy can't be conceived in any other way. In fact, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI wanted parishes to celebrate the Divine Office with regularity to fill out our worship of the Triune God. And as you know, priests and religious are obligated to pray the Divine Office for the Church on a daily basis; the laity are encouraged to pray the same. At Saint Catherine's we pray Vespers following the evening Mass (M-F) and with a more solemn character several times a year. Our praying Vespers in Lent in a more substantial way with singing psalms and hymns, preaching, vesture and incense is consistent with the tradition found with Dominicans.

Lent II: Father Jordan Kelly, OP
Lent III: Father Jay Scott Newman
Lent IV: Father Joel Warden, CO
Lent V: Father Allen White, OP
Palm Sunday: Edward Cardinal Egan

Earlier this afternoon, Cardinal George's homily was absolutely brilliant using Saint Paul's theme of being free in Christ and viz. freedom today and the current issues we are facing in the USA with the current administration of the United States. The Church's choirmaster, Daniel B. SaƱez, and the Schola Dominicana was perfect for God's glory.
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The full body of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith met with the Pope on Friday, 27 January, to discuss his conviction that no other work of the Church, particularly this congregation, takes precedence to the work of evangelization. Everyone ought to be committed "to bringing God back into this world and to opening to all men access to the faith."

Benedict see now as the opportune moment "to point out to all the gift of faith in the Risen Christ, the clear teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the invaluable doctrinal synthesis offered by the Catechism of the Catholic Church." Recently, the Pope said that "we are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of religious meaning which constitutes the greatest challenge to the Church" (Message for World Mission Day).

Other things that concern us, the Pope noted were:

1. the unity among Christians:  maintaining "coherence in the ecumenical task with the Second Vatican Council and the whole of Tradition";

2. warned of the dangers of "a shallow moralism";

3. to promote "the logic" contained in the conciliar teaching: "the sincere search for the full unity of all Christians is a dynamism animated by the Word of God";

4. a need for a "discernment between Tradition with a capital letter and the traditions": "There exists," he said, "a spiritual wealth in the different Christian confessions, which is an expression of the one faith and gift to share" (reflecting the recent work done for the full communion of Anglicans).

The last concern of Benedict was that the entire Church speak with one voice with Peter.

PAZ with Sasnta and his helpers 2011.JPG
My work requires me to work many people, even Santa and his lovely helpers: all for Jesus.
Merry Christmas 2011!

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]



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