Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy All Hallow's Eve!

Culture: Halloween on Hiatus (Fr. Barron's Word on Fire Blog)

Ann Vogel:  'Bread of the Dead'

Catholic group shuns Halloween for 'Holyween'

Halloween recipes from the garden

Pro-life pumpkin contest winner: Hand of Hope

Sunday Reflection: An Unexpected Meeting

Saturday, October 30, 2010

St. Alphonsus Rodriguez, Marvelous Mystic and Humble Doorkeeper

The saint of the day is St Alphonsus Rodriguez, a Jesuit, who was born at Segovia in Spain, on July 12, 1531. From childhood he was devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary. He loved her as his mother. This childlike devotion to her was the main reason for his sanctity.

When he was a teenager, Alphonsus and his older brother were sent to study in a Jesuit college. On the death of his father in 1545, he was called home from his studies, by his mother, who was burdened with the care of eleven young children. Though only a boy of fourteen, he was placed in charge of the family business, which involved the buying and selling of wool.

At the request of his mother, Alphonsus married the virtuous Maria Suarez. His married life of four years was marked with much suffering. His business suffered, and two of the couple’s three children died in infancy. He was widowed at the age of 32 and his mother died soon aftewards. He sold the business and moved in with his sisters; they helped Alphonsus raise his son, and taught their brother prayerful meditation. When his son died, Alphonsus decided to follow his call to the priesthood.

Alphonsus wanted to become a Jesuit. Twice he was refused admittance due to his older age, but providence came to his rescue. He entered the novitiate at the age of thirty-seven, and after six months, he was instructed to go to the Jesuit college of Montesion in Palma on the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain, to complete his novitiate training. At the end of his novitiate, he was assigned various duties and was made doorkeeper at the college. He remained in this office for 46 years.

Nothing could be more insignificant in the eyes of the world and more monotonous in itself than such a life. By his deep interior spirit that animated him, Alphonsus transformed and transcended it with his: fervent spirit of prayer, deep union with God, devotion to Mary, especially the Rosary, which allowed him to live constantly in the presence of God even in the most difficult times. His spirit of obedience was remarkable. His love for his fellowmen and his spirit of penance inspired many to follow him. People in high positions came to him in their troubles and difficulties to seek his advice. He exercised a powerful influence for good upon his own Brothers, many of whom reached a high degree of sanctity. Of these the greatest was St Peter Clever, a fellow Jesuit, whom Alphonsus prepared to become the apostle of Slaves in the New World. Many owed their vocation to priesthood and religious life to him.

The last year of his life, was one of great suffering. He died on October 31, 1617, with the name of Jesus on his lips.

As a humble porter, Alphonsus was always appreciated for his kindness and holiness; however, it was only after his death that his memoirs revealed the quality and depth of his prayer life. It was then that others learned that the humble Jesuit who had been gifted by God with remarkable mystical graces, ecstasies and visions of our Lord, our Lady and the saints.

Alphonsus was beatified in 1825, and was canonized by Pope Leo XIII on 15 January, 1888 together with his spiritual disciple, St Peter Claver.

St. Alphonsus is the patron saint of Majorca, Spain.

Prayer for New Life through Death to Sin (Saint Alphonsus Rodriguez)

Though Your most holy passion and death, I beg of you, Lord, to grant to me a most holy life, and a most complete death to all my vices and passions and self-love, and to grant me sight of your holy faith, hope and charity.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Blessed Maria Restituta, Martyr, Hero of the Holocaust

Today we celebrate Helen Kafka, better known as Blessed Maria Restituta.

Helen Kafka was born in 1894 to a shoemaker and grew up in Vienna, Austria. She initially worked as a salesgirl and then as an assistant caregiver at the Lainz public hospital, which brought her into contact with the Franciscan Sisters of Christian Charity. At the age of 20, she decided to join the Order and took the name Restituta, after a 4th century Christian martyr.

In 1919, she began working as a surgical nurse at the Moulding hospital in Austria. When the Germans took over the country, she became a local opponent of the Nazi regime. Her conflict with them escalated after they ordered her to remove all the crucifixes she had hung up in each room of a new hospital wing.

Sister Maria Restitua refused and she was arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. She was sentenced to death for "aiding and abetting the enemy in the betrayal of the fatherland and for plotting high treason.”

Martin Bormann decided that her execution would provide "effective intimidation" for other opponents of the Nazis. She spent her remaining time in prison caring for other prisoners; even the Communist prisoners spoke well of her. She was offered her freedom if she would abandon her religious community; but she refused.

Blessed Maria was beheaded March 30, 1943 in Vienna. Pope John Paul II beatified her on June 21, 1998.

Saint Quote:

"I have lived for Christ; I want to die for Christ."

~ Blessed Maria's last recorded words

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Benedict XVI: Always Defend Life

Prayer for the Catholic Medical Association

Today begins the annual meeting of the Catholic Medical Association (USA), in Seattle, Washington.

Please join in solidarity of prayer, across the entire world, for these Catholic physicians and their colleagues, as they unite in shared faith and common cause.

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.

Holy Mary, Mother of God,

Queen of the Angels, Apostles, Martyrs and All of the Saints, join in fervent intercession with Blessed Saints Simon and Jude

To pray for the Catholic Medical Association,

And for all of us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.


EWTN Television Special Highlights Life of St. Narissa, Laywoman

Narcisa De Jesus

Thurs. November 4 at 3 AM ET & 6:30 PM ET

St. Narcisa Martillo Moran, canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2008, was a laywoman who lived a life of intense prayer, austerity, and mortification. This documentary explores her fascinating life and spirituality.

The daughter of Pedro Martillo Mosquera and Josefina Moran, Narcisa's family were farmers, and her parents died when she was still a child. She moved to Guayaquil, where for the next 15 years she worked as a seamstress to support her younger siblings, living a single life, helping those even poorer than herself when she could, and spending her time in prayer. In 1868 she moved to Lima, where she worked in a convent of Dominican nuns. She never took vows and remained a lay person her whole life, but spent eight hours a day in prayer, lived as austerely as any religious, and was known to experience ecstasies.

Catholics voters get guidance from Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke

As Americans approach the eve of election week, U.S. Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke is reminding Catholics in an exclusive 25-minute video interview that they are bound in conscience to vote for political candidates who oppose aborting babies, embryonic stem cell experiments, euthanasia and so-called homosexual "marriage."

“Millions of Catholics have no idea it’s a sin to vote for candidates who favor these grave evils, which attack the very foundations of society,” said Thomas McKenna, President of Catholic Action for Faith and Family. "This matter-of-fact, pointed interview granted to me by Archbishop Raymond Burke in Rome last week makes it very clear what the responsibility of every American Catholic will be next Tuesday."

In recent years Archbishop Burke, who is prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, the Church’s “supreme court,” has taught repeatedly that Catholic politicians who support abortion rights may not receive Holy Communion and that Catholics who know of the politicians’ voting record on these issues cannot vote for them and retain “a clear conscience.”

McKenna interviewed Archbishop Burke in Rome on Oct. 20 literally hours after it was announced he would be elevated to Cardinal. The 25-minute interview is being released to help inform Catholic voters before the U.S. elections on Nov. 2nd. Some of the points the Archbishop makes are:

“As a bishop it’s my obligation in fact, to urge the faithful to carry out their civic duty in accord with their Catholic faith.”

“You can never vote for someone who favors absolutely the right to choice of a woman to destroy a human life in her womb or the right to a procured abortion.”

“So, the Catholic Church in teaching that sexual acts between persons of the same sex are intrinsically evil, are against nature itself, is simply announcing the truth, helping people to discriminate right from wrong in terms of their own activities.”

Today, McKenna’s will launch two five-minute video on YouTube, and a 25-minute Q&A video interview that is available for broadcast. The three videos all feature Archbishop Burke teaching Catholics about voter responsibility, including key points from his pastoral letter, "On Our Civic Responsibility for the Common Good." The interview can be seen at

Key points of Benedict´s trip to Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Pope Benedict XVI will travel as a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela, Spain on November 6. It is a journey he has been planning with his brother Georg, since before he was Pope. The two have been waiting until now to complete the journey in the Compostela Holy Year.

Laugh of the Day: "I worked so hard to get that title!"

H/T: Father Z, who is celebrating his birthday today. Go wish him a "Happy Birthday!"

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude

Apostle Saint Simon
1606 - Oil on canvas
Museo del Greco, Toledo

The name of St. Simon usually appears eleventh in the list of the apostles. The first cousin of Jesus, he was born at Cana and is surnamed "The Zealot." He preached in Egypt, Spain, and Lybia, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in the healthful cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother, Saint Jude, in Persia, where they preached and died as martyrs together. 
Apostle Saint Thaddeus (Jude)
1606 - Oil on Canvas
Museo del Greco, Toledo

Sts. Simon and Jude left the comfort and safety of their secure environment to go out into the world and to preach the gospel, converting many hearts. As simple farmers, they appear to be the least likely candidates to be called to perform such a great task for the Lord. However, the Lord chooses the simple and and the weak and empowers them with grace to do the "impossible." Let us pray that we, too, will be obedient to the Lord in the little tasks He calls us to do each day so that we, too, can carry out His will in our lives and draw others to Him -- an accomplishment which would otherwise be impossible without our permission and acceptance of the gift His grace.

St. Jude is the patron saint of hospital workers, desperate situations, and impossible causes.

St. Simon is the patron saint of sawers and tanners.

Father, You revealed yourself to us through the preaching of your apostles Simon and Jude. Help us follow their example, to draw others to You through our actions today, as we perform our daily duties and endeavor to carry out your holy will in our lives. Amen.

Novena to St. Jude

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We Are The Catholic Vote

Pope calls on couples to show the beauty of Christian marriage

A Prayer for our Nation as we Prepare to Elect our Leaders

O God, we acknowledge you today as Lord,
Not only of individuals, but of nations and governments.

We thank you for the privilege
Of being able to organize ourselves politically
And of knowing that political loyalty
Does not have to mean disloyalty to you.

We thank you for your law,
Which our Founding Fathers acknowledged
And recognized as higher than any human law.

We thank you for the opportunity that this election
year puts before us,
To exercise our solemn duty not only to vote,
But to influence countless others to vote,
And to vote correctly.

Lord, we pray that your people may be awakened.
Let them realize that while politics is not their salvation,
Their response to you requires that they be politically active.

Awaken your people to know that they are
not called to be a sect fleeing the world
But rather a community of faith renewing the world.

Awaken them that the same hands lifted up to you in prayer
Are the hands that pull the lever in the voting booth;
That the same eyes that read your Word
Are the eyes that read the names on the ballot,
And that they do not cease to be Christians
When they enter the voting booth.

Awaken your people to a commitment to justice
To the sanctity of marriage and the family,
To the dignity of each individual human life,
And to the truth that human rights begin when human lives begin,
And not one moment later.

Lord, we rejoice today
That we are citizens of your kingdom.

May that make us all the more committed
To being faithful citizens on earth.

We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

~ Via Priests for Life.

Catholic figures weigh in on California’s marijuana legalization measure

 A measure to legalize marijuana is on the ballot in California. While the state’s Catholic bishops have not taken an official position, the Bishop of Oakland has warned the measure could increase young people’s permissive attitudes to the drug, whose use counters the need to care for the body.

Proposition 19 would legalize the drug under California law and would permit local governments to regulate and tax its commercial production, distribution and sale. It also reestablishes as a felony the sale or provision of cannabis to a minor.

Fr. Gerald Coleman analyzed the initiative in a May 5 commentary in the online edition of Catholic San Francisco.

He reported that marijuana is the most widely used illegal drug in the United States, with more frequent use than all other illegal drugs combined. It is estimated that more than two million Americans smoke it every day.

According to Fr. Coleman, there is “substantial evidence” that habitual and heavy marijuana smoking may cause chronic bronchitis, damage the pulmonary system and produce cancers in the mouth, throat and lungs though short-term effects seem to be no more harmful than moderate alcohol consumption.

Read the entire article.

Baltimore Episcopal parish votes to enter Catholic faith

Mount Calvary Church, a small Episcopal parish in Baltimore, voted Oct. 24 to leave the Episcopal community and become an Anglican-use parish within the Roman Catholic Church. The 168-year-old church became the first Episcopal parish in Maryland to vote to sever ties with the Episcopal Church.

Of the 45 eligible voters, 28 were present for the meeting – casting ballots on a resolution to separate from the Episcopal Church and another to become an Anglican-use parish. The first resolution passed with 24 votes in favor, two against and two abstentions. The second resolution also passed, with 24 votes in favor, three against and one abstention.

“I don’t agree with a lot of what is happening in the Episcopal Church with their practices and the way their doctrine is,” said 27-year-old Abigail Davis, a parishioner who voted in favor of both resolutions. Like many other parishioners, Davis was particularly troubled by the Episcopal Church’s ordination of women and what she considers its acceptance of homosexuality.

“I feel like the Catholic Church is the way to go,” she said. “It’s home and it’s where we all started, and I think that’s where we should all be. It’s definitely been very emotional, but it’s also exciting.”

Read more here.

Voting the Commandments

Today's Reflection: Work for God

Saint of the Day: St. Frumentius of Ethiopia

Saint Frumentius was still a child when his uncle, a Christian philosopher of Tyre in Phoenicia, took him and his brother Edesius on a voyage to Ethiopia. In the course of their voyage the vessel anchored at a certain port, and the barbarians of that country slew with the sword all the crew and passengers, except the two children.

Because of their youth and beauty they were taken to the king at Axuma, who, charmed with the wit and sprightliness of the two boys, took special care of their education, and later made Edesius his cup-bearer and Frumentius, who was a little older, his treasurer and secretary of state. The king, on his deathbed, thanked them for their services and in reward gave them their liberty.After his death the queen begged them to remain at court and assist her in the government of the state until the young prince came of age; this they did, using their influence to spread Christianity. When the young king reached his majority, Edesius desired to return to Tyre, and Frumentius accompanied him as far as Alexandria. There he begged Saint Athanasius, its Patriarch, to send a bishop to the country where they had spent many years; and the Patriarch, considering him the best possible candidate for this office, in the year 328 consecrated him bishop for the Ethiopians.

Vested with this sacred character he gained great numbers to the Faith by his discourses and miracles, and the entire nation embraced Christianity with its young king, thus fulfilling a famous prophecy of Isaiah, uttered 800 years before Christ. (Isaiah 45:14) Saint Frumentius continued to feed and defend his flock until it pleased the Supreme Pastor to call him home and reward his fidelity and labors, in about the year 383.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pro-choice: The Most Violent Social Movement of all Time

The most violent social movement of all time is so-called “pro-choice.”

Not only have “pro-choicer's” killed tens of millions of innocent preborn babies in the name of convenience, they have murdered hundreds of men, women and children.

Human Life International has documented more than 8,519 acts of violence and illegal activities by pro-abortionists. These crimes include:

* 1,251 homicides and other killings

* 157 attempted homicides

* 28 arsons and fire-bombings

* 904 assaults

* 1,908 sex crimes (including 250 rapes)

* 106 kidnappings

* 420 cases of vandalism

* 290 drug crimes

* 1,616 medical crimes

Also, 520 murders and 360 fatal botched abortions by pro abortionists, including:

* 145 pregnant women

* 360 abortion clients

* 71 other women

* 110 born children

* 164 wanted preborn children, and

* 30 men (including two pro-life activists,
two abortionists, and a sheriff’s deputy)

For more information, go here.

Saint of the Day: St. Evaristus, Pope and Martyr

St. Evaristus lived in the second century. He was from a Jewish family in Bethlehem. They were living in Greece at the time of their son's birth. Evaristus was brought up in the Jewish religion. His father was so pleased with the boy's virtue and knowledge that he sent him to the best teachers. Evaristus became a Christian when he grew older. 

So great was his love for his new faith that he decided to become a priest. At Rome, where he performed his ministry, everyone grew to admire and love him. So it was that when the pope was martyred, Evaristus was chosen to take his place. He felt he was completely unworthy of being pope, but God knew better. These were times of persecution for the Church. Such bad lies were spread about the Catholic faith that the Romans thought nothing of putting Christians to death. Every man who became pope was almost certain of being arrested. 

For about eight years, Pope St. Evaristus ruled the Church. His zeal was so great that the number of believers grew larger every day. At last, however, he was captured. The jailers were amazed to see the joy on the holy old man's face as he was led to prison. St. Evaristus thought himself very privileged to have been found worthy to suffer and die for Jesus. No better gift could have been given him than his martyrdom. Pope St. Evaristus died in 107. 

Often our lives take unexpected turns, but if we find our strength in God, he will give us his peace.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Power of a Portrait

I recently came across the above photographs of a ten week old embryo on flickr, taken by an OB/GYN med student in India named Dr. Suparna Sinha, and I was struck by how beautiful they were. The mother had cancer of the womb, and her uterus, including her unborn baby inside, had to be removed. I can only imagine the pain that she must have felt losing this baby, having already been the mother of six children. 
Continue reading Jennifer Rego's post.

Novena to St. Martin de Porres

(October 25 - November 2)

For 9 days in a row, say:

Saint Martin de Porres,
your concern and charity embraced
not only your needy brethren,
but also the animals of the field.
You are a splendid example of charity;
we thank and praise you.
From above,
hear the requests of your needy brethren.

(Mention your request here...)

By modeling our lives after yours,
and imitating your virtues,
may we live content knowing that
God has looked favorably upon us.
Because this is so,
we can accept our burdens
with strength and courage
in order to follow
in the footsteps of our Lord
and the Blessed Mother.

May we reach the Kingdom of Heaven
through the intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Next meeting of world bishops to focus on ‘new evangelization,’ Pope announces

Declaring that the Church exists in order to evangelize, the Holy Father announced on Sunday that the next Synod for bishops, to take place in 2012, will focus on “new evangelization.” The Church must work “to welcome every man and offer him in Christ the fullness of life,” he said.

This is the Holy Father’s most recent initiative to re-propose the Gospel message in historically Christian areas. A new pontifical council was instituted on Oct 12, under the presidency of Archbishop Rino Fisichella, for this very purpose.

Read more here.

The Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

This feast honors the hundreds of British men and women who died for their faith in wake of the dispute between the Pope and King Henry VIII during the 16th century. Many loyal Catholics were tortured and killed by the British state from 1535 to 1679.

In 1970, the Vatican selected 40 martyrs, men and women, lay and religious, to represent the full group of about 300. Each martyr has their own day of memorial, but they are all remembered as a group on October 25.

The forty martyrs are:

Augustine Webster
John Houghton
Robert Lawrence

Richard Reynolds

John Stone

Alexander Briant
Edmund Arrowsmith
Edmund Campion
David Lewis
Henry Morse
Henry Walpole
Nicholas Owen
Philip Evans
Robert Southwell
Thomas Garnet

Alban Roe
Ambrose Edward Barlow
John Roberts
Friars Observant
John Jones

John Wall
Secular Clergy
Cuthbert Mayne
Edmund Gennings
Eustace White
John Almond
John Boste
John Kemble
John Lloyd
John Pain
John Plesington
John Southworth
Luke Kirby
Polydore Plasden
Ralph Sherwin

John Rigby
Philip Howard
Richard Gwyn
Swithun Wells

Lay women
Anne Line
Margaret Clitherow
Margaret Ward

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Brains of New Moms Grow, Study Reveals

Although the stress of motherhood may make them feel insane at times, new moms aren't losing their minds. In fact, it's just the opposite: Their brains grow larger in certain regions within months of delivering the newborn, a new study suggests.

And those moms who are particularly awestruck and gushy over their babies show more growth in the brain areas associated with motivation, reward and the regulation of emotion, the researchers said.

The team, led by Pilyoung Kim, a developmental psychologist who is now with the National Institute of Mental Health, used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to scan the brains of 19 moms two to four weeks after the birth of a child, then again up to four months afterward. Images showed small but significant increases in the gray matter in certain parts of the brain, including those responsible for sensory perception, reasoning and judgment.

A change in gray matter over such a short period is unusual among adults, according to the researchers.

Read more here.

St. John of Capistrano, Priest

Today is the optional memorial of St. John of Capistrano, a great Franciscan priest, preacher, and theologian. St. John was born at Capistrano, Italy in 1385, the son of a former German knight of that city. He studied law at the University of Perugia and practiced as a lawyer in the courts of Naples. King Ladislas of Naples appointed him governor of Perugia.

During a war with a neighboring town he was betrayed and imprisoned. Upon his release he entered the Franciscan community at Perugia in 1416. He and St. James of the March were fellow students under St. Bernadine of Siena, who inspired him to institute the devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and His Mother. John began his brilliant preaching apostolate while a deacon in 1420. After his ordination, he traveled throughout Italy, Germany, Bohemia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, and Russia, preaching penance and establishing numerous communities of Franciscan renewal.

When Mohammed II was threatening Vienna and Rome, St. John, at the age of 70, was commissioned by Pope Callistus II to preach and lead a crusade against the invading Turks. Marching at the head of 70,000 Christians, he gained victory in the great battle of Belgrade against the Turks in 1456. Three months later, he died at Illok, Hungary.

Patron: chaplains; jurists; judges; military chaplains.

Prayer: Lord, You raised up St. John to console your people in their distress. Grant that we may be always safe under Your protection and preserve Your Church in unending peace. Amen.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fr. Robert Barron comments on St. Thomas More and the Bishop of Rome (Video)

ObamaCare: The Facts On Abortion (Video)

A simple, factual explanation of how Obamacare expands abortion coverage in the United States.

Saint of the Day: St. Mary Salome

Wife of Zebedee. Mother of Saint John the Apostle, and Saint James the Greater. May have been a cousin of the Blessed Virgin Mary. One of the "three Marys," the holy women who ministered to Jesus during his earthly ministry, and may have accompanied him on his travels. Witnessed Christ's death on the cross, his entombment, and his resurrection. Mark mentions Salome as one of the women who came to anoint the body of Jesus on the morning of the Resurrection.

Legend says that after the Resurrection she went to Veroli, Italy and spent the rest of her life there spreading the Good News.

Like the Jewish greeting "Shalom" and the Arab "Salaam," Salome is based on an Aramaic word meaning health and peace. It would be hard to think of a more fitting name for a mother.

It is quite probable that Salome was the sister of the Blessed Virgin, and it is certain that she was the wife of Zebedee and the mother of James the Greater and John the Evangelist (Matthew 20:20; 27:56). In the Gospel of St. Matthew (20:20ff) it is written: "Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee approached Him with her sons and did Him homage, wishing to ask Him for something. He said to her, 'What do you wish?' She answered Him, 'Command that these two sons of mine sit, one at Your right and the other at Your left, in Your kingdom.'"

Salome was one of the women who followed Jesus and served him (Mark 15:41), witnessed His Crucifixion and death at Calvary (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40), and who brought spices to embalm him on Easter morning (Mark 16:1ff) (Delaney, Encyclopedia).

In art, Mary Salome is shown with her two sainted children (James and John) in her arms. Occasionally Mary Salome is present at the Nativity because there is a legend that the doubting Salome was a midwife, who came, unbelieving, to the stable at Bethlehem and was converted (cf. Jameson, Legends of the Madonna). Sometimes Mary Salome together with Mary Cleophas support the Virgin at the Crucifixion or they are present with Mary Magdalene at the Resurrection. (CNA)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Video: S.T.O.P.P. The Culture of Death

On this episode of Women of Grace with Johnnette Benkovic, Jim Sedlak, Vice President of American Life League, discusses the ways to stop Planned Parenthood from getting in your community and schools.

Quote of the Day: Cardinal-Designate Archbishop Burke

"I am deeply humbled and honored by the announcement that His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI intends to name me to the College of Cardinals of the Holy Roman Church at the Consistory which he has convoked for this coming November 20th. Having received the news of the Holy Father's intention, I express my deepest gratitude to His Holiness for the great confidence which he has placed in me, and I renew my commitment to serve Him, as Shepherd of the universal Church, in total fidelity and with all my being."

~ Cardinal-designate Raymond L. Burke in his statement on being elevated to Cardinal


Archbishop Burke will become a Cardinal

Cardinal-designate Burke's biography

Cardinal-designate Burke has rich history in St. Louis

Editorial | College of Cardinals: committed to the faith

The Pope announces 24 names of new cardinals

The Pope announces 24 names of new cardinals

To Set the Earth on Fire

Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!"
~ Luke 12: 49

Saint Ursula and Companions

Today, we commemorate St. Ursula and companions.

St Ursula, virgin and martyr, is a saint of the 3rd or 4th century. She was accompanied by some virgin companions who were also martyred.

She has been venerated by the whole of Christendom for many centuries. Some of the elements of Ursula's story may be legend, but her existence and sanctity are proven.

Her colorful story provided the basis for some of the most beautiful works of art in medieval and renaissance Europe.

Tradition tells us that Ursula was a beautiful and virtuous princess, the daughter of Dionotus, the King of Cornwall. By order of the Emperor Maximilian, she and many young women were betrothed to some of his subjects in Armorica. Ursula had already consecrated her life to Christ and desired to remain a virgin, so she insisted on many difficult conditions being fulfilled before marriage. She demanded three years grace to go and visit the various shrines of Christendom, on pilgrimage. She demanded that she and her ten bridesmaids be accompanied by a further thousand companions. They visited Rome and were met there by Pope St Cyriacus, but on their return journey they were carried ashore by a violent storm, and landed at Cologne. There they encountered a party of Huns who wanted to take them as wives, but they refused. Filled with hatred for these Christians, the Huns killed them by shooting them with arrows. Ursula was the last to die and encouraged the others to remain true to their faith. All their bodies were heaped into a mass grave, where later the basilica, which Clematius rebuilt, was erected in their honor. Her relics are venerated in the ancient European city of Cologne - home to World Youth Day in 2005.

Patron: Catholic education (especially of girls); Cologne, Germany; educators; holy death; schoolchildren; students; teachers; Ursuline order.


You had the courage and leadership
To gather others to yourself
And unite them in love and discipleship
Of Jesus our Lord and Savior.
Like you:
May we be witnesses of prayer and devotion to Christ;
of Christian service and unity in discipleship.
When we encounter resentment and ill will,
May we meet it with courage and unswerving faith.
Together may we honor and serve
the Christ for whom you died
and for whom we live.
Intercede for us
to this Jesus whom we all love. AMEN.

Image Source

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

St. Paul of the Cross: Priest, Writer, Mystic

Today is the optional memorial of St. Paul of the Cross.

St. Paul of the Cross was born in Ovada in northern Italy as Paolo Francesco Danei in 1694. As a young man, he helped his father who was a merchant. Paul received his early education from a priest and was a very virtuous and pious young man, who spent much time in prayer, attended daily Mass, and spent much time before the Blessed Sacrament without neglecting his duties.

At the age of 19, Paul had a vivid experience of the depth of God's love. As a result of this experience, he aspired to live a life of perfection. While still a layman, he left everything behind and founded the Congregation of Discalced Clerks of the Most Holy Cross and Passion (Passionists) in 1721.

While contemplation and prayer were at the very heart of Paul's life and the life of his new institute, Paul himself soon became a very famous popular preacher, spiritual guide, writer and mystic. For Paul the Passion of Christ was the most vivid witness to God's love for us and he constantly called upon his followers to remember the sufferings of Jesus.

During his lifetime Paul founded thirteen monasteries of Priests and Brothers throughout Italy as well as a monastery of Passionist Nuns. Today the Passionists live and serve in 59 countries of the world and are enhanced by other religious and lay groups who find inspiration in the Charism of St. Paul of the Cross.

Paul died in Rome on October 18, 1775. He was canonized on June 29, 1867 by Pope Pius IX.

Patron: Passionist order.

Spiritual Helps from St. Paul of the Cross:

"When you feel the assaults of passion and anger, then is the time to be silent as Jesus was silent in the midst of His ignominies and sufferings."

"Entrust yourself entirely to God. He is a Father, and a most loving Father at that, who would rather let heaven and earth collapse than abandon anyone who trusted in him."

"It is very good and holy to consider the passion of our Lord, and to meditate on it, for by this sacred path we reach union with God. In this most holy school we learn true wisdom, for it was there that all the saints learned it. "

" Therefore, be constant in practicing every virtue, and especially in imitating the patience of our dear Jesus, for this is the summit of pure love. Live in such a way that all may know that you bear outwardly as well as inwardly the image of Christ crucified, the model of all gentleness and mercy. For if a man is united inwardly with the Son of the living God, he also bears his likeness outwardly by his continual practice of heroic goodness, and especially through a patience reinforced by courage, which does not complain either secretly or in public. Conceal yourselves in Jesus crucified, and hope for nothing except that all men be thoroughly converted to his will."

~ from a letter by Saint Paul of the Cross

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Msgr. Philip Reilly’s Vision of 9/11’s Connection to Abortion

I had the wonderful opportunity to train to be a sidewalk counselor with Msgr. Phillip Reilly several years ago and heard this beautiful story in his own words. This holy priest reminds me so much of Mother Teresa in his rescue of the helpless -- in his case the helpless unborn.

ROME, October 18, 2010 ( - Msgr. Philip Reilly, the founder of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants, delivered a fascinating address to attendees of the Human Life International World Prayer Congress last week. Reilly, who has devoted most of his 50-year-long priestly ministry to the pro-life cause, recounted his experiences of the horrific September 11, 2001 terrorist attack from the perspective of a native New Yorker.

“On the morning of 9/11 I was praying and counseling outside of a large abortion clinic in Brooklyn,” said Msgr. Reilly. “The abortion mill is located a few blocks from New York Harbor, at a point where you could look across the Harbor and easily see the Twin Towers.”

“The wind was blowing that day from Manhattan to Brooklyn,” recalled the veteran pro-life leader. “So when the Towers came down, an incredible black cloud came over our heads. Outside the abortion mill, it became midnight at midday.”

Committed as he is to praying for the women contemplating abortion and the abortionists themselves, Msgr. Reilly refused to abandon them even on that day, when he wanted to go to Ground Zero. Reilly noted that due to the disaster all businesses stopped but, he said, “There was a bizarre exception, namely the killing of unborn babies continued, especially at the mill where I was counseling. Inside the abortion mill, they were actually watching the events unfold on TV, yet the killing of the babies inside continued.”

“Thus I could not leave the mill at that time to go to Ground Zero,” he said. “I didn’t get to Ground Zero until it was midnight.”

Msgr Reilly described how helpless he felt standing at Ground Zero at midnight. He noted that he then decided to pray the rosary and described his vision:

As I prayed the rosary, I closed my eyes and with my eyes closed, I suddenly saw the people in the Tower getting ready for work at 9 a.m. Some were getting a drink of water, others a cup of coffee, all feeling safe and secure inside their office. Then I saw the terrorist plane breaking into their secure quarters and exploding like a great bomb with the people in the office having no place to hide, no place to flee. Then still standing at midnight at Ground Zero, I saw not the people in the Towers, but I saw a womb with an unborn child inside, feeling so safe and secure and suddenly breaking through the wall of the womb was this terrorist object, the instrument of the abortionist, with the child having no place to hide, no place to flee from this terrorist instrument.

Msgr. Reilly concluded his address noting that when he opened his eyes, there at Ground Zero, “it became absolutely clear to me that Ground Zero is ongoing. Be not afraid then to go Golgotha, to the abortion clinic, to Ground Zero near you, to rescue the unborn children.”

Troy Newman Speaks on Behalf of Aborted Babies in MSNBC Documentary on Tiller Murder

Wichita, KS – MSNBC will air a documentary about the murder of late-term abortionist George Tiller on Monday evening, October 25, 2010. Producers of the documentary heavily relied on Operation Rescue files and interviewed Operation Rescue President Troy Newman for the program.

“We completely understand the liberal bent of MSNBC and expect it to be heavily slanted toward the pro-abortion position. We were concerned with the involvement of talk show host Rachel Maddow, who is a radical abortion apologist who has grossly mischaracterized Operation Rescue and members of our staff on her nightly program. Never the less, we felt it was necessary to participate for several reasons,” said Newman.

The producers of the documentary wanted to tell two stories, that of the “saintly” George Tiller and that of Scott Roeder the “devil.”

“We agreed to do the show — even though we knew they would vilify us — because we had a third story to tell, and that is the story of the tens of thousands of innocent babies killed by abortion during Tiller’s long and checkered abortion career,” said Newman. “It remains to be seen whether or not MSNBC allows that story to be told, but we hope they keep their word to do so.”

Read the entire story.

St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brébeuf and Companions: Models for Pro-lifers

Today in the dioceses of the United States the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Sts. Issac Jogues and John de Brébeuf (priests and martyrs) and their companions (martyrs). They were Jesuit missionaries who died martyrs in North America, where they preached the Gospel.

Eight French Jesuit missionaries came to North America in the 17th century, amidst the hardships of sickness and extreme poverty, to bring the Word of God to the native Indians. They endured many horrific tortures and death in order to accomplish what they had set out to do.

In 1625, St. John de Brebuf, at age 32, entered into the Huron tribe in the harsh frontier of Canada. John had tuberculosis, but the climate so agreed with him that the Hurons, surprised at his endurance, called him Echon, which meant load bearer. John was tortured and martyred in 1649. The Indians, hoping to gain the incredible strength he had, drank his blood.

St. Isaac Jogues was sent to Canada in 1636, where he worked among the Mowhawks. He was taken captive by the Iroquois in 1642 and imprisoned for thirteen months, where he was kept as a slave and beaten by the women of the tribe. While in captivity, Father Jogues secretly taught and baptized the other captives and slaves of the tribe.

His greatest sorrow was the torture that cost him the use of his hands. The law of the Church is that whatever other infirmities a priest may have, he must retain the use of his hands in order to celebrate the Eucharist.

After more than a year with the Iroquois, he was rescued by Dutch settlers and returned to France. There he obtained a dispensation to continue as a priest, despite the injuries to his hands, and eagerly returned to the New World to resume his duties. When he returned to Quebec, he was tortured, decapitated, and martyred by the Iroquois tribe.

In our society today, we seldom see "red martyrs" -- those who shed their blood in order to preach the Word of God. However, there are many opportunities for "white martyrdom" -- to suffer persecution and ridicule -- from those we encounter on a daily basis for standing up for our beliefs and preaching the Gospel message. When we preach the message of life, we encounter resistance from a society that embraces a "culture of death" -- a society that promotes abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, same sex unions, and cloning. When we preach the gospel message, we are often attacked by those who believe the lies that promote a culture obsessed with materialism, egotism, and addictions. When Christ's message is not preached, darkness, depression, and death prevail.

As pro-life Christians, we would need to follow the example of the North American martyrs, accepting all the graces and strength we receive through the power of prayer, the Holy Mass, and the sacraments, so that we, too, will overcome our human weaknesses, and boldly speak the truth, regardless of the consequences, so that all men will be freed from the darkness of death and come to know the Light of life -- the love of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

To learn more about these martyrs, go here. Fr. Hardon's article on the spirituality of the North American Martyrs is here.

Visit the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Feast of St. Luke, Evangelist

Today is the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist. It is believed that St. Luke was born a Greek and a gentile. A physician at Antioch, and a painter, St. Luke became a convert of Saint Paul and afterwards his fellow-laborer. Luke was the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles and has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician" (Colossians 4:14). Saint Luke shared the shipwreck and perils of Saint Paul's voyage to Rome, and was with him in his last days. He later died a martyr's death in Achaia. Next to St. John, St. Luke's gospel writings are my favorite part of the New Testament.

There are so many beautiful scripture verses that have so much personal meaning for me. Although Luke was not an eye witness, he was a historian who carefully researched his material and obtained details from eye witnesses. As a physician, Luke emphasizes the miracles and the merciful love of Jesus, which heals his children and welcomes alll into his arms -- especially the sinner, the outcast, the gentile. Luke shows us the compassion of Jesus, especially toward women and children. Luke's gospel is noted for its praise and thanksgiving and is a very poetic book. For example, Mary's song, 1:46-55. Song of Zacharias, 1:68-79, and The Song of the Angels, 2:8-14. Finally, Luke's is the gospel of Jesus praying, and his parables concerning prayer.

Patron: Artists; bachelors; bookbinders; brewers; butchers; glassworkers; goldsmiths; lacemakers; notaries; painters; physicians; sculptors; stained glass workers; surgeons.

Symbols: Winged ox; winged calf; ox; picture of the Virgin; palette and brushes; phials of medicine; physician's robes; easel; book and pen; hatchet; wooden horse; books of his Gospel and of the Acts; bishop; painting an icon of our Lady.

A Few of My Favorite Scripture Passages from Luke:

"When you hold a lunch or dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or your wealthy neighbors, in case they may invite you back and you have repayment. Rather, when you hold a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind; blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the ressurection of the righteous."
~ Luke 14: 12- 14

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."~ Luke 11:9-10

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."~ Luke 1:46

Picture Source

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Today's Reflection: Pray Tirelessly

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Optional Memorial of St. Hedwig

Today the Church celebrates and remembers the life of Saint Hedwig, duchess of Silesia, born about 1174, at Castle Andechs, Bavaria.

She was the daughter of Berthold IV, Duke of Merania and his wife, Agnes of Rochlitz. She received her education at the Benedictine convent of Lutzingen in Franconia, where her sister was abbess.

At age 12, she married Henry I the Bearded of Silesia. Soon St Hedwig became actively involved in the administration of her husband’s land, used her influence to the construction of new monastic foundations, and assisted those existent in Silesia.

In years to come, the following monasteries were established: the Cistercian monastery of Leubus and of Heinrichau, the Premonstratensian monastery of St. Vincent, the priory of the Augustinian Canons at Kamenz and Bober. She also brought the Dominican and Franciscan orders to Silesia.

Henry also founded the Hospital of the Holy Ghost at Breslau and the convent of the Cistercian nuns at Trebnitz.

Hedwig and Henry had seven children and after the birth of her last child, they decided to take a vow of chastity before the Bishop of Breslau. Henry died in 1238 and Hedwig made the Abbey of Trebnitz her permanent home.

She continued to devote herself to God and to the work of charity and she was regarded as a saint even then. She died at Trebnitz, 12 or 15 October, 1243, and was canonized by Pope Clement IV in 1267.

In her honor Frederick the Great built in 1773 St. Hedwig’s Cathedral in Berlin.

Patron: Bavaria; brides; duchesses; death of children; marital problems; Silesia; victims of jealousy; widows.

Symbols: noble lady holding statue of Virgin and Child; noble lady holding a church (symbol of monastery); lady holding pair of shoes under arm.

Prayer for the Feast of Saint Hedwig

O God, Who didst teach blessed Hedwig to renounce the pomps of this world, that, with her whole heart, he might follow the humble way of Thy cross: grant that, through her merits and example, we may learn to trample under foot the perishable delights of this world and by cleaving to Thy cross overcome whatsoever may be opposed to us. Who livest and reignest with Thee, in the unity of the Holy Ghost, world without end. Amen.

Prayer source: Collect for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

Picture Source: Public Domain

St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, Virgin, Mystic and Visionary of the Sacred Heart

My Favorite Quotes from St. Margaret Mary:

"What a weakness it is to love Jesus Christ only when He caresses us, and to be cold immediately once He afflicts us. This is not true love. Those who love thus, love themselves too much to love God with all their heart."

"The Divine Heart is an ocean full of all good things, wherein poor souls can cast all their needs; it is an ocean full of joy to drown all our sadness, an ocean of humility to drown our folly, an ocean of mercy to those in distress, an ocean of love in which to submerge our poverty."

 against polio; devotees of the Sacred Heart; loss of parents; polio patients.

Pope will canonize six new saints on Sunday

Brother André Bessette - Reflection by Fr Thomas Rosica

Pope will canonize on Sunday Mary Mackillop, first Australian saint

Friday, October 15, 2010

Feast of St. Teresa of Avila, virgin and doctor

Today is the memorial of St. Teresa (1515-1582) was born in Avila and died in Alba, Spain. When only a child of seven, she ran away from home in the hope of being martyred by the Moors; in this way, she said she could come to see God. At the age of eighteen she joined the Carmelite Order and chose Christ as her heavenly Spouse. With the help of St. John of the Cross she reformed most of the Carmelite convents and founded new ones. She reached the highest degree of prayer and through prayer obtained such knowledge of divine things that in 1970 Pope Paul VI named her the first woman Doctor of the Church.

Patron: sickness; against headaches; against heart disease; lacemakers; loss of parents; opposition of Church authorities; those in need of grace; religious; those ridiculed for their piety; Spain; those named Teresa, Theresa, Teresita, Terry, Tessa, Teresina, and Tracy.

Symbols: nun in habit of a Discalced Carmelite; Carmelite nun with her heart pierced by an arrow held by an angel; Carmelite nun holding a pierced heart, book and crucifix; Carmelite nun with book and quill; Carmelite nun receiving a message from a dove; roses and lilies; inflamed heart; IHS on a heart; flaming arrows; dove; book and pen; crown of thorns; heart transfixed with flaming arrows; scapulary; crucifix and lily.

Excerpts from Interior Castle:

"This body has one fault, that the more people pamper it, the more its wants are made known. It is strange how much it likes to be indulged. How well it finds some good pretext to deceive the poor soul! . . . Oh, you who are free from the great troubles of the world, learn to suffer a little for the love of God without everyone's knowing it! . . . "

"Sometimes the Devil proposes to us great desires, so that we shall not put our hand to what we have to do, and serve our Lord in possible things, but stay content with having desired impossible ones. Granting that you can help much by prayer, don't try to benefit all the world, but those who are in your company, and so the work will be better for you are much bounden to them...."

A LOVE SONG by Saint Teresa of Avila

Majestic sovereign, timeless wisdom, your kindness melts my hard, cold soul.
Handsome lover, selfless giver, your beauty fills my dull, sad eyes.
I am yours, you made me.
I am yours, you called me.
I am yours, you saved me.
I am yours, you loved me.
I will never leave your presence.
Give me death, give me life.
Give me sickness, give me health.
Give me honor, give me shame.
Give me weakness, give me strength.
I will have whatever you give. Amen.

Bookmark of St. Teresa of Avila 

This thought was found after St. Teresa's death on a prayer card in her breviary:

Let nothing disturb you; Let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices.