Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Feast of St. Andrew, the Apostle

Today is the memorial of St. Andrew, apostle and martyr.

St. Andrew, son of Jonah, was born at Bethsaida in Galilee. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and became one of the first to follow Jesus, to whom he brought his brother, Simon Peter. Both were fishermen and at the beginning of Our Lord's public life occupied the same house at Capharnaum.

As one of the twelve apostles, Andrew was very close to Our Lord during His public life; he was present at the Last Supper; beheld the risen Lord; witnessed the Ascension; shared in the graces and gifts of the first Pentecost, and helped, amid threats and persecution, to establish the Faith in Palestine.

He was crucified by order of the Roman Governor at Patras in southern Greece on a cross which was in the form of an "X". This type of cross has long been known as "St. Andrew's cross." He was martyred during the reign of Nero, on November 30, 60 A.D.

St. Andrew's relics were transferred from Patras to Constantinople, and deposited in the church of the Apostles there, about 357 A.D. When Constantinople was taken by the French, in the beginning of the thirteenth century, Cardinal Peter of Capua brought the relics to Italy and placed them in the cathedral of Amalfi, where most of them still remain.

Patron: Achaia; Amalfi, Italy; anglers; Burgundy; diocese of Constantinople; fish dealers; fish mongers; fishermen; gout; Greece; Lampertheim; Germany; maidens; old maids; Patras, Greece; Russia; Scotland; singers; sore throats; spinsters; University of Patras; unmarried women; women who wish to become mothers.

To learn more about the foods and traditions connected with St. Andrew's feast, go here.

To obtain more biographical information, see EWTN's library and The Catholic Encyclopedia.

To recite St. Andrew's Christmas Novena, go here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pope Benedict: Advent, A Time of Expectation

Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the season of Advent during the Angelus prayer on Sunday, remarking on the nature of “expectation” and calling it a “profoundly human” experience.

His message via VIS:

The Pope remarked on the dual nature of the period of Advent, which "looks both to the first coming of the Son of God, when He was born of the Virgin Mary, and to His glorious return, when He will come 'to judge the living and the dead'". He described this "expectation" as a "profoundly human aspect in which the faith becomes, so to say, a single thing with our flesh and our heart.

"Expectation and awaiting represent a dimension that touches our entire individual, family and social existence", he added. "Expectation is present in many situations, from the smallest and most insignificant to the most important". These include "a couple expecting a child; awaiting a relative or friend who comes to visit us from far way; ... the expectation of the result of some decisive examination; ... in personal relations the expectation of meeting the loved one. ... We could say that man is alive so long as he expects, so long as hope remains alive his heart. And man can be recognised by his expectations: our moral and spiritual 'stature' may be measured by what our hopes are".

Thus, "in this time of preparation for Christmas each of us may ask ourselves: what do I expect? ... And this same question can be posed at the level of the family, the community, the nation. What do we expect together? What unites our aspirations, what brings us together?" In this context, Benedict XVI recalled how "in Israel in the period prior to Jesus' birth there was a very strong expectation of the Messiah, ... who would free the people from all moral and political slavery and establish the Kingdom of God.

"But no-one could have imagined that the Messiah would be born of a humble girl like Mary, who had been promised in marriage to the good Joseph. Neither could she have imagined it; yet in her heart the expectation of the Saviour was so great, her faith and hope so ardent, that in her He could find a worthy mother. ... There is a mysterious correspondence between the expectation of God and that of Mary, the creature 'full of grace', completely transparent before the Almighty's plan of love. Let us learn from her, the woman of Advent, to live daily life with a new spirit, with feelings of profound expectation which only the coming of God can satisfy".

In his greetings following the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI made various references to respect for unborn life. Addressing Polish pilgrims he said: "With Mary, who lovingly awaited the birth of the Divine Child, let us persevere in our prayers, thanking God for the gift of life and asking Him to protect all human existence. May the future of the world become the civilisation of love and of life".

Blessed Denis of the Nativity and Blessed Redemptorus of the Cross

Today we celebrate two Discalced Carmelites, Blessed Denis of the Nativity and Blessed Redemptorus of the Cross.

Blessed Denis was born in 1600 in Honfleur, France. He became a sailor at the age of twelve. Later on, he became the pilot in chief and cartographer of the courts of Portugal and France. In 1635, while he was in Goa, India, he took on the habit of a Discalced Carmelite Monk.

Blessed Redemptorus of the Cross was born in Portugal at the end of the 16th century. He became a soldier but later took on the habit of the Discalced Carmelites in 1615.

Together, Denis and Redemptorus set out on mission to the king of Achin in the Malay archipelago. While on their way, they and their party were ambushed and tortured to death by Muslims on November 29, 1638.

They were beatified by Pope Leo XIII in 1900.

Advent Reflection: Prepared for Heaven

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Advent: A Season of Hope

Reflections on the Sacred Liturgy: 1st Sunday of Advent - Podcasts & Other Resources

Pope: nascent life threatened by adults' selfishness

"The embryo in the maternal womb" is not "a pile of organic material," but a "new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new and unique individual of the human species," "so it was for Jesus in Mary's womb, so was for each of us in our mother's womb."

With these words, Pope Benedict XVI once again stressed the duty to preserve "nascent life," which is, he said, "most fragile, most threatened by adults, by selfishness and the willful darkening of consciences."

The Holy Father was speaking during the solemn celebration on Saturday evening of First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent in St. Peter's Basilica, as part of an unprecedented worldwide vigil for unborn life.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

12 Tips to a Holier Advent Season plus Advent Resources

The liturgical season of Advent begins on the first Sunday in Advent, opening a new year in our Church's Calendar. The word Advent is from the Latin adventus, which means "coming" and is associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas.

Advent blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the birth of Christ.

During Advent, we are called upon to:

1) prepare ourselves to worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,

2) make our souls fitting abodes for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion and through grace

3) make ourselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

Advent is a season of waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are twelve tips that will help you and your family keep this season holy:

1. Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Pray Advent prayers with the family and the rosary when you light up the candle on the wreath. Sing 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' throughout Advent.

2. Keep outdoor lights and decorations simple, using religious CHRISTmas scenes like the Nativity or a star.

3. Use a Jesse tree or an Advent tree.

4. Have your Christmas tree blessed. Remind your children that the tree is a Christian symbol and relates to many aspects of our faith.

5. Let your children know that "Santa Claus" is another name for the real St. Nicholas and tell them his story. Celebrate the day. Encourage your children to leave their shoes outside their bedroom doors on Dec. 5. When they awaken, they will find small gifts like candy or fruit if they’ve been good.

6. Participate in the Giving Tree at church. Have your children buy a gift to donate to children in need or perform some service for the poor or elderly.

7. Put a Nativity set in a prominent place in your home, but only put out some of the animals. You can put the other statues out, but in another place in your home. Each week, read a little from the Christmas story in Luke's Gospel, and move the statues a little closer.

8. Have the children place a piece of straw in the manger for each good deed they do during Advent as a gift to the baby Jesus.

9. Take the entire family, when possible, to daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and to the sacrament of Reconciliation.

10. Light a candle before the Blessed Mother when visiting the Blessed Sacrament.

11. The Mary candle: Some families have the custom of decorating the Christ candle with a blue veil on December 8th, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. On this great feast, others place a candle with a blue ribbon before a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin, whose “yes” to God enabled our Lord’s coming at Christmas. The candle is lit during meal times to serve as a delightful reminder of Mary’s eager expectation of the “Light of the World.”

12. St. Lucy cakes: The feast of St. Lucy, virgin and martyr, is on December 13th. This marks the opening of the Christmas season in Sweden. Her life story can be found in most saints books, as can the recipe for the traditional cakes. The symbolism is rich and her life story worthwhile reading.

Here are some great Advent links:

Catholic Mom: Advent and Christmas Resources
Catholic Traditions for Advent and Christmas
Prayers and Customs of Advent and Christmas
Advent Books
Advent Musts and Movies

Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Today, November 27, is the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Devotion to and wearing of the Miraculous Medal is second to the Rosary in popularity among traditional Catholic devotions.


In 1830, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed the design of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Laboure in an apparition.

In Paris, on June 6, 1830, the Lord appeared to the young (age 24) Daughter of Charity novice Catherine at Mass, and again on the nights of July 18-19 when she was summoned to the chapel by a beautiful "child clothed in white" to converse with the Virgin Mary. Catherine was told prophecies and charged with "a mission" that manifested itself on November 27 in an early morning (5:30am) appearance of the Blessed Virgin who was "clothed in white" standing on a globe and "a serpent." Rays of light issued forth from rings on her fingers and Catherine was told to commission a medal of what she was seeing. Then, turning the letter "M surmounted by a bar and a cross" underneath which were the hearts of Jesus and Mary all surrounded by the words "O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee."

Catherine heard the voice tell her, "Have a medal struck after this model. All who wear this medal will receive great favors. They should wear it around the neck . Favors will abound if worn with devotion." Catherine's mission was to ensure that the medal was made and to spread Mary's message of love and compassion.

Many healings, conversions and other miracles have been documented by those who have faithfully worn the 'Medal of the Immaculate Conception' as the Miraculous Medal was originally called.

There are numerous Miraculous Medal Associations throughout the world. They are united under the care of the Congregation of the Mission (Vincentians or Lazarists), the religious order founded by St. Vincent de Paul. Membership contributions go to spread devotion to the Virgin Mary and to support the work of the Vincentians. Each Association maintains a shrine and usually has some type of publication for members.


Wearing the Medal

The Miraculous Medal is an approved sacramental and allows the the wearer to take advantage of Mary's promise:

"Those who wear it will receive great graces; abundant graces will be given to those who have confidence."

Enrollment in an Association Anyone, living or deceased, Catholic or not, may be enrolled as a member and obtain these graces and the spiritual benefit of Masses offered for members (for example, the Central Association in the U.S. offers 2,500 Masses a year).


Invested membership involves these obligations:

1. Formally enroll in an approved Association and renew the membership yearly

2. Wear the Medal (around the neck is highly recommended)

3. Have the intention to sanctify oneself and others by means of the Medal

4. Investiture which may be done publicly or privately


1. Receive the graces promised by the Blessed Virgin Mary
2. Receive the spiritual benefits of numerous Masses offered for members by the Vincentians
3. Promoters who sign up others receive spiritual benefit from additional Masses
4. Invested members receive an indulgences on the following days:~ Day of joining the Association~ August 22 (Feast of the Queenship of Mary) ~ September 27 (Feast of St. Vincent de Paul)~ November 27 (Feast of the Miraculous Medal)~ November 28 (Feast of St. Catherine Laboure)~ Anniversary date of the founding of the Association in which one is enrolled*

The indulgence is plenary under the normal conditions: confession, communion, prayer for the Pope's intentions and freedom from attachment to all sin.

To learn more about this beautiful feast day and the apparitions and to receive a free miraculous medal, go here.   Visit the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal at the official website.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Benedict XVI calls on the religious to guard community life

Benedict XVI received various superior generals of the main religious orders who have gathered in Rome to discuss the challenges of religious life in the West. The Pope said that despite the declining number of priests, the Church will never cease to have consecrated people because this life has its origin in God.

Pope-Approved Birth Control

Check it out here.

H/T: Fr. Philip Powell, OP

Twelve Myths Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer

Freedom of speech is a great thing. Unfortunately, it comes at a price: When citizens are free to say what they want, they'll sometimes use that freedom to say some pretty silly things.

And that's the case with the 12 claims we're about to cover. Some of them are made over and over, others are rare (though worth addressing). Either way, while the proponents of these errors are free to promote them, we as Catholics have a duty to respond. Hopefully, this will help you do just that.

1. "There's no such thing as absolute truth. What's true for you may not be true for me."

Read the rest of the story.

Amazing Interview with Producer of new film There Be Dragons Final

Blessed Santiago Alberione

The saint of the day is Blessed Santiago Alberione.

Santiago Alberione was born on April 4, 1884, the fourth of six children in a devout working class family in San Lorenzo di Fossano, Cuneo, Italy. From a young age, he felt God calling him. On the first day of elementary school, when the teacher asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up, he responded, “I want to be a priest.”

While a seminarian in Alba, during the night of 31 December 1900 to 1 January 1901, he prayed for four hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He saw a light shine forth from the Host, and from that moment, he had an unusually powerful certainty that God was calling him to do something for the people of the new century.

He was ordained on 29 June 1907 and was assigned to a parish in Narzole. He served as spiritual director for youth and altar servers in the Alba seminary on 1 October 1908 and in September 1913 he became director of the weekly publication Gazzetta d'Alba.

He founded the Society of Saint Paul on 20 August 1914, the Daughters of Saint Paul on 15 June 1915, the Sisters Disciples of the Divine Master on 10 February 1924 and the Sisters of Jesus Good Shepherd in Rome in August 1936. These congregations, under his leadership and still today, publish books and other materials for the spreading of the word of God, thus fulfilling his intense conviction at the turn of the century of helping the people of the 20th century of Christianity.

During the course of his priestly and parochial ministry, he grew in the certainty that his call was to reach out the as many people as possible using new technology and media. To this end, he founded the Pauline family. The family grew as there was an increase in both mens and womens vocations, and the apostolate took shape. He founded various women's orders whose charisms were the publication and dissemination of books, and ministry to Pastors, among other things.

Alberione's work can best be summed up in the words of Pope Paul VI, who never held back his admiration for the Pauline ministry. “Father Alberione has given the Church new instruments with which to express herself, new means with which to invigorate herself and to amplify her apostolate, new capacity, and a new consciousness of the validity and the possibility of her mission in the modern world with modern means.

He died on 26 November, 1971 Rome and was beatified by Pope John Paul II on 27 April 2003.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Fr. Barron: The Key to Joy

Thank the Lord

Related Posts:

A Thanksgiving to Remember

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Thanksgiving to Remember

by Jean M. Heimann

It was Thanksgiving, 1997 – just four months after my father’s death. Mom was now living alone in a room by herself at the nursing home. She had been despondent after my dad’s death and we were all concerned about her.

For more than 50 years, mom and dad had spent every holiday together, with the exception of the first two years of their marriage. World War II had begun and dad enlisted in the U.S. Army where he was stationed in Northern Africa and Italy. When he returned home, he met his first born daughter, who was already eighteen months old.

My parents had four more children and made each Thanksgiving special for the family by both sharing in the preparation of the food. Dad was always up early in the morning, putting the turkey in the oven and preparing his “secret” dressing. Mom stayed up the entire night before making her delicious thick, deliciously rich lime Jell-O dessert (with pineapple, mini-marshmallows, real whipped cream, cool whip, mayonnaise, and walnuts), candied yams with brown sugar and marshmallows, homemade mashed potatoes, cranberries, pea and cheese salad, and deviled eggs. She also baked at least two pies – one pumpkin, and one cherry or apple. Dad buttered and heated up the rolls. Promptly, at 9am, we turned the TV on to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. At 11:00 a.m., we delivered meals to both our widowed French grandmas (who lived across the street from one another) and shared some lively conversation and a small glass of wine and cookies and candy with each, followed by much hugging and kissing. Usually, by noon, we were back home to enjoy our family meal. The meal lasted all day. Before and after eating, we thanked God for His precious gifts of food, family, and our faith. We talked and laughed with one another, watched old movies on TV, read, listened to music, and took naps. It was the most relaxing day of the year for us.

Mom had been an independent lady. She had worked outside of the home during World War II in a factory and also returned to work after her five children started school. When the children were grown, she returned to school to study nursing and did quite well in her studies, making the honor role.

Mom had a strong faith in God and a deep devotion to Our Blessed Mother that she drew from to help her not only in difficult times, but also in her daily struggles. But, losing dad seemed to be one of the most challenging events in her life. He was her “Soul Mate” – they had shared everything together – their faith, their children, their love of nature, their dreams – now it was all gone.

While dad was suffering with his lung cancer and was still lucid, his last words to me were, “Take care of mom.” He loved her so much. He rarely spoke about his own pain, but was very aware of and attentive to her every need. When he was no longer able to care for her needs, due to his own illness, they both agreed it was time to move into the nursing home. They did not want to be a “burden” to their children. They both also had medical needs, which required skilled nursing care. Ten days after their move to the nursing home, dad died.

As my husband and I prepared for the two hour trip that lie ahead, we packed our best china, cloth napkins, silverware, and a table cloth along with the food that I had been preparing for the past week. We called mom before we left. Her voice sounded very weak on the phone. I could tell she was hurting both physically and emotionally. I did not know what to expect this holiday. Sometimes, she expressed anger and bitterness, or feelings of guilt and would often end up in tears. As a result of the depression, she had lost her appetite and was losing weight. I wanted so much just to make things better for her. I prayed, “Dear God, heal her. Help her to enjoy this day. Bring peace to her heart. Give me the grace and strength to get through this day. Help me to be your messenger of love, peace, and joy to her.” I wanted this to be a special day for her. As we made the two-hour drive, my husband and I prayed the rosary for this intention.

When we entered her room at the nursing home, she sat very still in her wheelchair in the dark, quiet room, waiting for us. We opened the blinds a little to let the light in. We gently hugged and kissed her and spoke tenderly to her. “Where’s the food? She exclaimed, “I’m hungry!” She didn’t want to be fussed over, but wanted to eat, so we immediately hauled everything in from the car and set it up in the visitor’s room, which we had reserved a few days earlier. Then, we quickly set the table and heated up the food. The food covered the small table and the countertop: a twelve pound turkey, fresh whole cranberry sauce, spinach (her favorite vegetable), green beans, rolls, yams, and dad’s famous “secret” dressing (which I watched him make one Thanksgiving not so long ago.)

We bowed our heads to say a special prayer of thanksgiving and mom quietly joined in.

She was quiet initially, but seemed to have an excellent appetite, asking for second and even third servings of everything. There was little conversation while we ate. We wanted to follow mom’s lead. After we were finished with the main meal, we took out the pies along with some whipped cream. When she saw the pies, her eyes became as big as saucers. “Why didn’t you tell me you had those pies? We could have eaten them first!” We all burst out laughing. Then, she began to open up, and become quite talkative. “ You certainly are a good cook. Where did you learn to cook like that?” “From you and dad, mom.” “ I don’t remember ever having such a good meal!” “ Can you leave that cherry pie here for me? I’ll eat it later or tomorrow. Write my name on it and put it in the refrigerator.”

About a half an hour later, my niece arrived with a huge plate of food. “ Hi, grandma! Mom had to work today and wanted me to bring this over for you.” She replied, “That looks wonderful, but I just finished eating.” So, we added another plate to the refrigerator collection.

After my niece left, my brother (who had been out of town) stopped by with a sweet potato pie. My mother’s eyes almost popped out. She thanked him and we added that to her refrigerator collection.

After my brother left, mom talked and laughed as we reminisced about past Thanksgivings. Her eyes were growing heavy, so we gathered our things to go. “ Thank you for coming. You have made this a day that I will always remember. Come back again, soon. I love you.” She gave us hugs and kisses, as we left her in the peace of her light-filled room, warmed by the love that filled our hearts.

~ © 2010 Jean M. Heimann

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

I'm thanking God today for my faith, my family, my friends and  for all my loyal readers.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Oh, God, when I have food,
help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me
to remember the jobless;
When I am without pain,
help me to remember those who suffer;
And, remembering, help me to destroy my complacency
and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough
to help, by word and deed,
those who cry out for what we take for granted.

~ Samuel F. Pugh

"For I was hungry and you gave Me food.
I was thirsty and you gave Me drink.
I was a stranger and you welcomed Me..."

~ Matthew 25: 35

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

'American Idol' winner tells court she had abortion before suicide attempt

"American Idol" winner Fantasia Barrino said in court Monday she had an abortion around the same time as her suicide attempt three months ago, entertainment news website RadarOnline reported. Barrino was appearing at Mecklenburg County Court, N.C. at her ex-lover Antwaun Cook's divorce proceedings from his wife Paula Cook. The 26-year-old singer said she had gotten pregnant by Antwaun Cook and had chosen to terminate the pregnancy. On August 9, she was admitted to Mercy South Hospital in Pineville, N.C. after swallowing a bottle of Aspirin and a sleep aid in a suicide attempt.

Read the full story.

This is another tragic example of the strong link between abortion and suicide. Studies have shown that there is strong evidence that abortion dramatically increases the risk of suicide. For full information on the abortion-suicide connection, go here and here.

Image Source

Related Posts:

Vatican Preparing new document on the effects of abortion

Response to a Reader's Comment Regarding Abortion

10 Fast Facts About Abortion's Injustice and Risks to Women

St. Catherine of Siena: model for the faithful

Pope Benedict XVI offered St. Catherine of Siena as a model for the faithful, at his regular weekly public audience on November 24.

Speaking to about 7,000 people in the Paul VI auditorium, the Pontiff noted that St. Catherine (1347- 1380)—who is now revered as a Doctor of the Church and co-patron of Europe—developed a wide reputation for sanctity very early in her life. Many people sought her advice, and “she became intensely active in the spiritual counseling of many categories of peoples: nobles, politicians, artists, common people, consecrated persons, ecclesiastics, and even Pope Gregory XI.”

St. Catherine was not afraid to identify abuses in the Church and call for reform. But the Pope observed that “though aware of the human failings of the clergy, she always had the greatest reverence for them, because through the Sacraments and the Word they dispense the salvific power of the Blood of Christ.”

The great saint also had the “gift of tears,” indicating an unusual sensitivity of conscience and a depth of compassion, the Pope remarked. He reminded his audience that Jesus wept openly at the death of his friend Lazarus.

Pope Benedict summarized the spirituality of St. Catherine of Siena with the observation: “For her, Christ was as a bridegroom with whom she maintained a relationship of intimacy, communion and fidelity.” The Pope suggested: “Like the saint of Siena, all believers feel the need to conform themselves to the sentiments of Christ's Heart, in order to love God and neighbor as Christ Himself loves.”

Source: St. Catherine: Spiritual Counsellor, Doctor of the Church (VIS)

~ Via Catholic World News.

Light of the World: Book-length Interview with Benedict XVI

The highly-anticipated book based on a rare interview with the Pope is about to make it to a bookstore near you. "Light of the World" was written by German journalist Peter Seewald, who conducted the interview in six one-hour sessions last summer.

St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and companions, martyrs

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Andrew Dung-Lac, priest and martyr, and companions, martyrs.

There are 117 martyrs in this group and although they died at different times, they were all canonized by Pope John Paul II on June 19, 1988. Of the group, 96 were Vietnamese, 11 were Spaniards, and 10 were French. There were 8 bishops, 50 priests and 59 lay Catholics in the group. Of the priests, 11 were Dominicans, 10 belonged to the Paris Mission Society, and the rest were diocesan priests plus one seminarian. Certain individual martyrs were mentioned by name in the process of canonization: Andrew Dung-Lac, a diocesan priest; Thomas Tran-Van-Thien, a seminarian; Emmanuel Le-Van-Pung, father of a family; the Dominican bishops Jerome Hermosilla and Valentine Berrio-Ochoa; and John Theophane Venard.

~Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi

St. Andrew Dung-Lac's name was originally Dung An Trân, and he was born about 1795 in a poor and pagan family in Bac-Ninh in North Vietnam. When he was twelve the family had to move to Hà-Nôi (Hanoi) where his parents could find work. There he met a catechist and got food and shelter from him. He also got education in the Christian faith for three years, and was baptized in Vinh-Tri with the Christian name Andrew (Andrew Dung). After learning Chinese and Latin he became a catechist, and thereafter taught catechism in the country. He was chosen to study theology, and on March 15, 1823 he was ordained a priest. As parish priest in Ke-Dâm he was tireless in his preaching. He often fasted and lived a simple and moral life, he was a good example for the people, and many were baptized. In 1835 he was imprisoned under emperor Minh-Mang's persecutions (he was called Vietnam's emperor Nero), but his freedom was purchased by donations from members of the congregation he served. To avoid persecutions he changed his name to Lac (Andrew Lac) and moved to another prefecture to continue his work. But on November 10, 1839 he was again arrested, this time with Peter Thi, another Vietnamese priest whom he was visiting so that he might go to confession.

Once again Andrew was liberated, along with Peter Thi, in exchange for money. Their freedom was brief. They were soon re-arrested and taken to Hanoi, where both suffered dreadful torture. Finally they both were beheaded December 21, 1839.

~ Excerpted from Catholic Culture.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro, priest and martyr

Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of Miguel Augustin Pro, priest and martyr.

Miguel Agustin Pro was born January 13, 1891, in Mexico. From his childhood, he was known for his high spirits and happy personality. The son of an affluent mining engineer and a pious and charitable mother, Miguel had a special affinity for the working classes.

At 20, he became a Jesuit novice and shortly afterwards was exiled due to the Mexican revolution. He traveled to the United States, Spain, Nicaragua and Belgium, where he was ordained in 1925. Father Pro suffered greatly from a severe stomach disorder. When his health did not improve after several surgeries, his superiors permitted him to return to Mexico in 1926.

At this time, the revolutionary government in Mexico had banned all religious practice. The churches were closed and priests were in hiding. The government was particularly focused on finding and persecuting priests. Father Pro became a great master of disguise and spent the remainder of his life in a secret ministry to the Mexican Catholics who helped hide him from the authorities. In addition to fulfilling their spiritual needs, Fr. Pro also assisted the poor of Mexico City with their temporal needs. In all that he did, he remained filled with the joy of serving Christ, his King.

Falsely accused in a bombing attempt on the President-elect, Pro became a wanted man. On November 18, 1927, he was arrested and sentenced to death without the benefit of any legal process.On November 23, the day of his death, Father Pro prayed, forgave his executioners, bravely refused a blindfold, and faced the firing squad with his arms extended in the form of a cross, proclaiming, "Viva Cristo Rey!" ("Long Live Christ the King!)

A Prayer Composed by Blessed Miguel Pro, S.J.

According to one of Fr. Pro’s biographers, Rec. M.D. Forrest, M.S.C., the following was composed shortly before his death:

"Does our life become from day to day more painful, more oppressive, more replete with afflictions? Blessed be He a thousand times who desires it so. If life be harder, love makes it also stronger, and only this love, grounded on suffering, can carry the Cross of my Lord Jesus Christ. Love without egotism, without relying on self, but enkindling in the depth of the heart an ardent thirst to love and suffer for all those around us: a thirst that neither misfortune nor contempt can extinguish... I believe, O Lord; but strengthen my faith... Heart of Jesus, I love Thee; but increase my love. Heart of Jesus, I trust in Thee; but give greater vigor to my confidence. Heart of Jesus, I give my heart to Thee; but so enclose it in Thee that it may never be separated from Thee. Heart of Jesus, I am all Thine; but take care of my promise so that I may be able to put it in practice even unto the complete sacrifice of my life."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pope Benedict ...

on the Senses of Scripture.

Check out Mark Shea's book on the subject here.   

Catholic Organization's battle against AIDS endures as virus spreads in Africa

This woman is just one of nearly 100,000 patients being helped by DREAM. She endured the negative effects of HIV for four years, before she found the Drug Resource Enhancement against AIDS and Malnutrition program launched by the Catholic organization, the Community of Sant' Egidio.

Cardinal Raymond Burke gives thanks for events of consistory

By Jennifer Brinker

ROME — What would a consistory be without a moment of thanksgiving to God for the blessings Cardinal Raymond Burke has received?

That's exactly what the new cardinal did with more than 500 family and friends at a Mass of thanksgiving Nov. 22, the feast of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr, at the Pontifical North American College.

Read the full story and view the wonderful images.

Thanks be to God for our new cardinals! Thank you, Lord, especially for Cardinal Raymond Burke.

Pope tells new cardinals to be ready to sacrifice their lives

Pope Benedict welcomed the newest cardinals Nov. 20 with a call to service and sacrifice, even if it means spilling their blood.

Two Americans, Donald W. Wuerl and Raymond L. Burke, are among the 24 new cardinals the Pope "created" on Nov. 20. Others come from a variety of countries, from Ecuador to Zambia, while 10 are Italians.

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God calls us to be with Jesus and Mary: "do not ask Jesus to come down from the cross, but stay with him. "

With this, the Pope addressed the 24 new cardinals created on Saturday, who concelebrated Mass with him Sunday in St. Peter's Basilica, on the Solemnity of Christ the King.

Pope Benedict XVI gave the new cardinals the rings of their office, sealing their marriage pact with the Church, on which is a depiction of the crucifixion of Christ.

The Holy Father said in his homily our first service is faith, believing that Jesus is God, who is the King because he has reached this point, because he loved us to the limit.

St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs.

It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.

Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.

When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this angel. If he is of God, I shall refrain, as you wish, but if he is a human lover, you both must die.” Cecilia answered, “If you believe in the one true and living God and receive the water of baptism, then you shall see the angel.” Valerian assented and following his wife’s directions sought out a bishop named Urban, who was in hiding among the tombs of the martyrs, for this was a time for persecutions. Valerian made his profession of faith and the bishop baptized him.

When the young husband returned, he found an angel with flaming wings standing beside Cecilia. The angel placed chaplets of roses and lilies on their heads. The brother of Valerian, Tiburtius, was also converted, and after being baptized he too experienced many marvels.

Valerian and Tiburtius devoted themselves to good works on behalf of the Christian community, and they made it their special duty to give proper burial to those who were put to death. The two brothers were themselves soon sentenced to death for refusing to sacrifice to Jupiter. Maximus, a Roman officer charged with their execution, was converted by a vision that he saw in the hour of their death. After professing Christianity, he, too, was martyred.

The three were buried by the grieving Cecilia. Soon after, she was sentenced to death. The prefect tried to reason with her, but she remained strong in her faith. Consequently, he gave an order that she was to be suffocated in her own bathroom. Surviving this attempt on her life, a soldier was sent to behead her. He struck her neck three times, then left her lying, still alive, for it was against the law to strike a fourth time. She lingered on for three days, during which the Christians who remained in Rome flocked to her house. In dying she bequeathed all her goods to the poor, and her house to the bishop for a place of Christian worship. She was buried in the crypt of the Caecilii at the Catacomb of St. Callistus. St. Cecilia's body was found to be incorrupt in the Catacombs of Saint Callistus. Her body was later moved to St Cecilia in Trastevere.

She is praised as the most perfect model of the Christian woman because of her virginity and the martyrdom which she suffered for love of Christ.

At her wedding banquet, while the pipes were playing, St. Cecilia sang to the Lord, asking that her heart might remain immaculate, that she not be put to shame. This inspired early composers to write elaborate music for the antiphon used on her feast day, and St. Cecilia became the special patron of musicians. For this reason, she is usually shown at the organ, although a harp or lute may be used. Sometimes she wears a wreath of white and red roses.

Patronage: Albi, France; composers; martyrs; music; musicians; musical instrument makers; archdiocese of Omaha, Nebraska; poets; singers.

"Sing a new song; play skillfully and shout for joy." ~ Psalm 33:3

Prayers to St. Cecilia

Friday, November 19, 2010

Today's Gospel Reflection: The Appropriate Response

Do you ever get angry?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne

Today is the optional memorial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.

Saint Rose was born on August 29, 1769 at Grenoble, France to a family of wealth and political connections. When she was eight years old, she heard a Jesuit missionary speak of his missionary work in America, which sparked a strong desire within her to evangelize. She was educated at home until she was 12 years old, when she was sent to the convent of the Visitation nuns in Grenoble to continue her studies. She joined them when she was 19 without the permission or knowledge of her family.

Her convent closed quite abruptly during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. She spent the next ten years living as a laywoman, but continued to live as if she were still with her Order. She established a school for poor children, cared for the sick and hid priests from the Revolutionaries. When the Reign of Terror ended, she reclaimed her convent and attempted to reestablish it with a small group of sisters. However, most were long gone, and in 1804, the group merged with the Society of the Sacred Heart under Saint Madeline Sophie Barat. They then reopened their convent as the second house of Sacred Heart nuns. Rose became a postulant in December 1804, and made her final vows in 1805.

In 1815, Mother Duchesne was assigned to found a Sacred Heart convent in Paris. At age 49, she and four sisters were sent as missionaries to the Louisiana Territory to establish the Society's presence in America. Diseases contracted during the trip to America nearly killed her, and after she recovered in New Orleans, the trip up the Mississippi nearly killed her again. She established her first mission at Saint Charles, Missouri, a log cabin that was the first free school west of the Mississippi River. She eventually opened six other houses in America, which included schools and orphanages. She experienced some opposition as her teaching methods were based on French models, and her English was terrible; her students, however, received a good education. She was constantly concerned about the plight of Native Americans, and much of her work was devoted to educating them, caring for their sick, and working against alcohol abuse.

Finally able to retire from her administrative duties, Mother Duchesne evangelized the Pottawatomies and in the Rocky Mountains at age 71, and taught young girls of the tribe. This work, however, lasted but a year, as she was unable to master the Pottawatomie language. She was known to the tribe as "Woman-Who-Prays-Always". She spent her last ten years in retirement in a tiny shack at the convent in Saint Charles, Missouri where she lived a life of poverty and penance, in constant prayer.

Patron: Opposition of Church authorities; diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

"We cultivate a very small field for Christ, but we love it, knowing that God does not require great achievements but a heart that holds back nothing for self."

~ Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pope calls for release of Christian woman condemned to death in Pakistan

In his general audience, the Pope sent a plea to Pakistan to release a Christian woman who has been condemned to death for blasphemy.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary: Widow, "Mother of the Poor"

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, religious.

In her short life Elizabeth showed such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Born in Bratislava in 1207, Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary was betrothed at the age of four to Prince Ludwig of Thuringia (in central Germany) and sent to live at his father's court. They were married when she was fourteen and he was twenty - one. She loved him deeply and bore him three children.

In addition to caring for her children, Elizabeth was devoted to the poor, the sick, and the aged. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate. She grew in piety under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan Friar.

Once when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Ludwig stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying; the food had been miraculously changed to roses.

On another occasion, she took in a dying leper and placed him in the couple's own bed. Ludwig was furious about this and when he turned back the sheets and saw the figure of the leper, he realized that he was witnessing the literal embodiment of Christ ("Whatever you do for the least of my brothers that you do unto me." Matthew 25: 40b).

Their happy marriage ended in 1225 when Ludwig died in the Crusades. Following his death, the husband's family viewed Elizabeth as squandering the royal purse and threw her out. Her royal aunt and uncle made a castle available to her and set about making plans for a second marriage for her. However, she followed God's calling to renounce her position and enter into a new life.

On Good Friday 1228, Elizabeth became a Third Order Franciscan, sold all that she had, and worked to support her children. She settled into a small house that she herself had built and attached a hospital to it, which she founded in honor of St. Francis. Here she spent the few remaining years of her life caring for the sick, the poor, and the elderly. Penance, prayer, and practical charity filled her hours.

Her gifts of bread to the poor, and of a large gift of grain to a famine - stricken Germany, led her to become patron of bakers. St. Elizabeth is also the patron saint of countesses, the death of children, the falsely accused, the homeless, nursing services, Catholic charities, widows, and young brides.

St. Elizabeth died in extreme poverty at the age of 24 in 1231 and was canonized in 1235.

Image: Edmund Blair Leighton (1853-1922)
The Charity of St. Elizabeth of Hungary
Oil on canvas
Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vatican TV goes HD

Vatican Television Center has a new truck equipped to produce high definition programmes. The new facility, called an OB Van, was presented this morning at the Holy See Press Office. Father Federico Lombardi, director of Vatican Television Center, said the development was necessary so that Vatican television remains in keeping with advances in tele-visual communications, allowing it to continue the diffusion of the Pope's image and his messages worldwide. Once the new mobile technology is in place, Father Lombardi said all Vatican television productions will be in high definition.

What is the process of canonization?

One of the most solemn ceremonies of the year is when the Pope proclaims new saints, who serve as shining life examples for Catholics worldwide.

In order to declare someone a saint, the Church launches an intense investigation that can take years. During this time, the postulator examines whether or not the candidate really lived like a hero of Christian virtue.

Who bombed the Vatican during World War II?

In the midst of World War II, a plane flies over the neutral state of Vatican City. It then goes on to drop five bombs on the world's smallest state, causing severe damage to the water tank near the railway station, as well as the offices of the governorate and the Vatican mosaic workshop.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan named as president of US bishops' conference

The U.S. bishops have elected Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York as president of the U.S. bishops' conference.

The move was unprecedented, as the bishops traditionally choose the previous vice president to serve as head of the conference.

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Today's Saints: St. Margaret of Scotland; St. Gertrude, virgin

St. Margaret of Scotland, Patroness of Mothers

St. Margaret of Scotland was not a Scot, but was born about 1045 in Hungary of Anglo-Saxon and Hungarian parents. Her family was in exile at that time due to the Danish invasion of England. Margaret's grandfather was King Edmund Ironside of England and her father was Edward the Exile, the heir to the throne of Scotland.

Margaret was the oldest of three children born to Edward and Agatha. She was educated by her mother and was well grounded in the scriptures and liturgy. She was about 12 when the family returned to England and was educated under the influence of the Benedictines. She learned French, ecclesiastical embroidery, and began to read works of theology: St. Augustine and St. John Cassian greatly influenced her spiritual development.

While fleeing the invading army of William the Conqueror in 1066, her family's ship wrecked on the Scottish coast. They were assisted by King Malcolm III Canmore of Scotland, whom Margaret married in 1070.

The King was deeply devoted to his beautiful, intelligent, and devout wife: she introduced him to a new way of life and a new spirituality. Although he was unable to read, he would handle her books and examine them. If she was fond of a particular book, he would look at it with interest and kiss the pages. While she did not succeed in teaching him to read or stop making war, she did teach him to pray sincerely and frequently.

Margaret prayed often for her husband and added fasting and almsgiving to her prayers, that they might "easily ascend to heaven". Once when he followed her into the garden, he found her praying for him and "her loving spirit set him on fire".

She was very generous in giving alms to the poor, who flocked around her whenever she appeared in public. When she gave away all that she had, the courtiers would give what they had, even their own cloaks. She would sometimes even give away the King's gold.

The couple had a loving and fruitful marriage. Margaret bore the King eight children, six sons and two daughters. She loved them dearly and raised them well, supervising their education herself. The youngest boy became St. David. Both her husband and her son, Edward, were killed in battle. Yet she prayed: "I thank You, Almighty God, for sending me so great a sorrow to purify me from my sins."

Margaret died in Edinburgh on November 16, 1093. She is remembered for the happiness of her marriage, for her devotion to prayer and learning, and especially for her generosity to the poor. In 1250, Margaret was canonized by Pope Innocent IV.

She is the patron saint of mothers, large families, learning, queens, Scotland, the death of children, and widows.

St. Gertrude the Great, Virgin 

St. Gertrude was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1256. As a five year old, she was received into the monastery of the Cistercian nuns in Helfta. She was an intellectually gifted student with a gentle disposition who applied herself to her studies, concentrating on literature and philosophy.

At the age of 26, Gertrude had the first of many visions of Jesus which brought about a deep interior conversion, drawing her into the innermost recesses of His Sacred Heart. Her heart symbolically united in a vision to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she was a precursor of the later devotion to the Sacred Heart. She also advocated frequent reception of the Eucharist and devotion to St Joseph.

Similar to other mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila, the Passion of Christ was her favorite devotion and when she meditated on it, or on the blessed Eucharist, she was often unable to control the torrents of tears which flowed from her eyes. She frequently went into ecstasy when she meditated or focused on the great love of Christ and united her heart with His.

On one occasion, Jesus, appeared to Gertrude in a vision and pointed out to her the wound in his side, out of which flowed a stream of crystal-clear water. The heart of Christ seemed to her to be suspended like a lamp in her own heart. She heard it throbbing with His unconditional, redemptive love for both saint and sinner.

In her short book of "Divine Insinuations, or Communications and Sentiments of Love," she proposed exercises for the renewal of baptismal vows, by which the soul completely renounces the world and herself, consecrates herself to the pure love of God, abandoning herself entirely to His holy will.

When in a vision the Lord asked Gertrude whether she would prefer health or sickness, she responded, "Divine Lord, give me whatever pleases You. Do not consider my wishes at all. I know that what You choose to send is the best for me."

Gertrude was an extraordinarily charitable person toward all those she encountered and her love for others manifested itself in tender sympathy towards the souls in purgatory. An extremely humble person, she prayed that her many spiritual gifts not be manifested outwardly to others and her request was granted. Gertrude was blessed with the gift of prophecy as well as the gift of miracles. A prolific writer, she authored five books on spirituality. However, only three of them are still in existence.

Gertrude died on November 17th, 1301 or 1302 of natural causes. She is the patron saint of nuns, travelers, and the West Indies.

Prayer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, fountain of eternal life, Your Heart is a glowing furnace of Love. You are my refuge and my sanctuary. O my adorable and loving Savior, consume my heart with the burning fire with which Yours is aflamed. Pour down on my soul those graces which flow from Your love. Let my heart be united with Yours. Let my will be conformed to Yours in all things. May Your Will be the rule of all my desires and actions. Amen.

~ Saint Gertrude the Great

Prayer of Saint Gertrude the Great

Dictated by Our Lord, to release 1000 souls from purgatory each time it is said.

Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son Jesus Christ, in union with the most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, said throughout the world today, for all the holy Souls in Purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the Universal Church, those in my own home, and within my family.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Grammy Winner Rebecca St. James Urges World Support for Pope's Call to Prayer for the Unborn

In comments today from Los Angeles, Grammy Award winning Christian singer Rebecca St. James is speaking out strongly in support of Pope Benedict XVI's unprecedented call this week for worldwide prayer against abortion.

An outspoken voice for pro life, the Australian born singer, now living in the U.S, has dedicated a large portion of her time this year to a series of special appearances and support events for Crisis Pregnancy Centers throughout America. St. James 2009 starring role in the film, Sarah's Choice, impacted audiences with her moving portrayal of a young career woman pregnant outside of marriage and faced with the decision of the life of her baby. Since its release, the movie has been used by CPC Center's nationally in their pro life messaging to young women facing the real life issues presented in Sarah's Choice.

Of the Pope's worldwide call to prayer for the unborn on November 27th, Ms. St. James believes it's an urgent mandate for life that crosses all denominational lines.

"I applaud Pope Benedict for this call to pray for abortion to end," she notes, adding: "I applaud him for standing for life with strength, as he continually does, and I respect him and stand with him in this battle against abortion. Abortion not only steals life from an innocent child, but it invariably wounds the mother."

She continues: "I dearly hope and pray that Protestants and Catholics alike will draw together in unity, especially as it pertains to protecting life. I, as a Protestant, have been able be partner with many Catholics to promote the pro life message together. It's a true joy for me to do this."

With international sales of her music and books taking her influence to audiences worldwide, Rebecca St. James performed for Pope John Paul II during his pastoral visit to the United States in 1999.

She will be in New York this Thursday, November 18th for a return guesting on Fox News Network's "Hannity."

Pro-life Message of the Day: Cardinal Francis George

“Once political leaders and health care experts decided to use government subsidized insurance as the vehicle for providing more universal health care, it was our moral obligation as teachers of the faith to judge whether the means passed moral muster, whether or not the proposed legislation used public funds to kill those living in their mother’s womb. Consistently, and ever more insistently since the sin and crime of abortion was legalized in the United States, our voice has been that of the bishops of the Catholic Church ever since the first Christians condemned the abortion practices of the ancient Romans. The act is immoral; and the laws that have permitted now fifty million children of our country to be killed in their mother’s womb are also immoral and unjust; they are destroying our society.”

“The voice of Christ speaks always from a consistent concern for the gift of human life, a concern that judges the full continuum of technological manipulation of life, from the use of artificial contraception to the destruction of human embryos to the artifiical conception of human beings in a Petri dish to genetic profiling to the killing of unwanted children through abortion,” he said. “If the poor are allowed to be born, then the voice of Christ continues to speak to the homeless and the jobless, the hungry and the naked, the uneducated, the migrant, the imprisoned, the sick and the dying.”

~ Cardinal Francis George, in his outgoing speech as President of the USCCB today, November 15, 2010, in Baltimore, Maryland. The conference will elect a new president Nov. 16.

See the NCReg. for more information.

Healthcare In The Light Of "Caritas In Veritate" (Charity in Truth)

Notice that the term used is "health care", not "death care" and refers to the "dignity of man", not the death of man.

VATICAN CITY, 15 NOV 2010 (VIS) - A press conference was held this morning in the Holy See Press Office to present the twenty-fifth international conference promoted by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The conference is due to take place on 18 and 19 November and its theme this year is: "Towards egalitarian and human healthcare in the light of 'Caritas in veritate'".

Participating in today's press conference were Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski and Msgr. Jean-Marie Mpendawatu, respectively president and under secretary of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care; Fr. Maurizio Faggioni O.F.M., professor of bioethics at the "Academia Alfonisana" in Rome; Mario Benotti, director general of RAI International, and Domenico Arduini, professor of gynaecology and obstetrics and director of the gynaecological and obstetric clinic at Rome's University of Tor Vergata.

The forthcoming meeting, Archbishop Zimowski explained, "will examine the current question of parity of access to basic healthcare services, not only in general terms, but in harmony with man's dignity and vocation. ... The initiative coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Pontifical Council for Healthcare Workers, providing an opportunity to evaluate results and to plan for the future", he said.

In the light of the Encyclical "Caritas in veritate", the conference "will also examine, among other things, the fundamental requirements for an egalitarian and human promotion of health, the mission of the Church in favour of the sick, and the promotion of anthropocentric healthcare, as well as the role of civil society, the Church and other private institutions and organisations in promoting justice, equity and solidarity in the healthcare sector".

St. Albert the Great

Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. Albert the Great, "the light of Germany", named "Doctor Universalis" because of his vast knowledge and writings.

Albert was born in Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany in 1206. As a young man, he studied at the University of Padua and there he met Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe, drawing the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.

At age 16, Albert entered the Dominican Order. After several teaching assignments in his order, he came in 1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology. While teaching in Paris, he was assigned by his order in 1248 to set up a house of studies for the order in Cologne.

In Paris, he had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians, the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil. This young religious, already well - trained in theological studies, was silent among the others, to the point of being called by his fellow students “the Mute Ox of Sicily.” But Albert silenced them, saying, “The bellowings of this ox will resound throughout the entire world.”

Later, obedience took him back to Germany as Provincial of his Order. As Provincial he journeyed with no money, always on foot, visiting the numerous monasteries under his jurisdiction, throughout an immense territory which included: Austria, Bavaria, Saxony, and Holland.

He was no longer young when he had to submit to the formal order of the Pope to serve as the Bishop of Ratisbonne. There his zeal was rewarded only by harsh trials, while his virtue was perfected. When he asked to be relieved of his responsibilities, Pope Urban IV permitted him to return to the peace of conventual life. Albert wrote many works on the natural sciences, on philosophy and theology, which form from twenty-one to thirty-eight volumes, depending on the edition.

He died, apparently of fatigue, at the age of seventy-three, on November 15, 1280, and his body was buried in Cologne in the Dominican church. He was canonized on December 16, 1931. Proclaiming his holiness, Pope Pius XI added the title of Doctor of the Church. He is known as Albert the Great.

St. Albert is the patron of: the archdiocese of Cincinnati Ohio; medical technicians; natural sciences; philosophers; school children; scientists; students; students of theology; and World Youth Day.

Quote: "The greater and more persistent your confidence in God, the more abundantly you will receive all that you ask."

Prayer of St. Albert

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who seekest those who stray and receivest them when returning, make me approach to Thee through the frequent hearing of They Word, lest I sin against my neighbor by the blindness of human judgement, through the austerity of false justice, through comparing his inferior status, through too much trust in my merits or through ignorance of the Divine Judgement. Guide me to search diligently each corner of my conscience lest the flesh dominate the spirit.


To learn more about St. Albert, see this website.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Pope calls for Church to rediscover the Word of God

Pope Benedict XVI has issued a lofty and impassioned plea for everyone in the Church to rediscover the Bible and to grow in “an ever greater love of the Word of God.”

“We must never forget that all authentic and living Christian spirituality is based on the Word of God proclaimed, accepted, celebrated and meditated upon in the Church.

The Pope’s new apostolic exhortation, “Verbum Domini” (The Word of the Lord), issued Nov. 11, is a book-length response to a special 2008 Synod for Bishops on the Bible and the life of the Church.

In this document, the Pope offers a rich theological reflection on the meaning of the Word of God becoming flesh and the meaning of the Scriptures as the Word of God.

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Memorial of St. Josaphat, bishop and martyr

Saint Josaphat was born in the Ukraine of Orthodox parents about the year 1580 and given the name John at baptism. He entered the Basilian monastery of the Trinity at Vilna in 1604, taking the name Josaphat. He was ordained priest in 1609 and was chosen bishop of Polock in 1614.

Josaphat was a famous preacher who worked to bring unity among the faithful, and bring strayed Christians back to the Church. In a sermon, he spoke of his death as imminent.

When he visited Vitebsk (now in Russia) on November 12, 1623, his enemies attacked his lodging and murdered a number of his companions. Meekly the man of God hastened toward the mob and, full of love, cried, "My children, what are you doing? If you have something against me, see, here I am." With furious cries of "Kill the papist!", they rushed upon him with gun and sword. Josaphat's body was thrown into the river but emerged, surrounded by rays of light, and was recovered. His murderers, when sentenced to death, repented for their crime, and converted to Catholicism.

In 1867, Josaphat was canonized by Pope Pius IX, becoming the first saint of the Eastern Church to be formally canonized by Rome.

St. Josaphat is the patron saint of the Ukraine.

Collect: Lord, fill your Church with the Spirit that gave Saint Josaphat courage to lay down his life for his people. By his prayers may your Spirit make us strong and willing to offer our lives for our brothers and sisters. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, One God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Learn more about the different Eastern Rites which are in union with the Pope.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Prayer for Veterans

We ask for blessings on all those who have served their country in the armed forces. We ask for healing for the veterans who have been wounded, in body and soul, in conflicts around the globe. We pray especially for the young men and women, in the thousands, who are coming home from Iraq with injured bodies and traumatized spirits. Bring solace to them, O Lord; may we pray for them when they cannot pray. We ask for, echoing John Paul II, an end to wars and the dawning of a new era of peace, As a way to honor all the veterans of past wars.

Have mercy on all our veterans from World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Bring peace to their hearts and peace to the regions they fought in. Bless all the soldiers who served in non-combative posts; May their calling to service continue in their lives in many positive ways.

Give us all the creative vision to see a world which, grown weary with fighting, Moves to affirming the life of every human being and so moves beyond war. Hear our prayer, O Prince of Peace, hear our prayer. Amen.

Martin Sheen stars in 'The Way,' a film about the Way of St. James (Includes Trailer)

Director Emilio Estevez and his father, Martin Sheen, have debuted their new film, “The Way,” in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. The movie, which focuses on the Way of St. James, is being dubbed “the great film of the Year of St. James.”

At the premiere of the film, which will eventually be shown on 150 screens across Spain, Culture Minister of Andalusia Roberto Varela remarked that the movie is “a beautiful story” that perfectly represents what the Way of St. James means. “It exemplifies the physical and exterior journey, but above all the journey of interior transformation,” he added.

The film’s producer, Julio Rodriguez, said the film will be seen on 150 screens in the country and later in U.S. theaters. He said he hopes the movie will be viewed “all over the world” because of its “universal” appeal.

Read the full story.