"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
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"Jean of Catholic Fire...provides so much informative content. She posts about pro-life issues and events, what happened 'on this day', biographies of saints, prayer intentions, and lots more each day. No matter what she's posting about, I can always come away each day feeling uplifted...and that's saying a lot for me, as I'm someone who often tries to avoid thinking about some of the political and other issues that she posts about. It must be her strong faith and trust in God, as well as her love, shining through her posts, that inspire me." Margaret Mary Myers , Reflections, Catholic BVI Readers, VIP Homeschooler.
"PH, NC, RT, IT, O, H+, R+, T, C, NLU, AM, BS, F... Take that, Catholic Fire! You think you can curse us with your Latin language stuff? Well, try this on for size: May your life-spirit be exchanged with that of an polar bear who has just been stranded on an ice-floe that broke off because of global warming!" Father Tim, Spirit of Vatican 2
This is wonderful news! What a great victory for life!
After years of protests and criticism from pro-life advocates, the biggest breast cancer organization, Susan G. Komen for the Cure has announced it is halting further grants and donations to the Planned Parenthood.
Figures from August directly from the Komen for the Cure foundation show 18 affiliates of the breast cancer charity gave a total of more than $569,000 to the Planned Parenthood abortion business in 2010. That was down from the $731,303 Komen officials publicly confirmed in October 2010, when they acknowledged that 20 of the 122 Komen affiliates gave to Planned Parenthood during the 2009 fiscal year.
Now, Komen says it is halting all grants because of public pressure from pro-life groups and due to the impending investigation in Congress of the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
The policy makes it so no further Planned Parenthood grants will be given unless the investigation results in Planned Parenthoods favor.
January 31, 2012. (Romereports.com) Within the walls of Vatican City is stored one of the most important treasures in the world, the Vatican's Secret Archives.
Only a limited number of people can access documents kept here by the Catholic Church. It's free to gain access, but only academics and historians are allowed and they must request authorization from the Vatican.
The Vatican Secret Archives began under Pope Paul V. It was officially opened 400 years ago on January 31 in 1612. It's called “secret” from its Latin name “secretum” meaning “private”. Since it opened, it's become the private archive of the popes.
In 1810, Napoleon Bonaparte took over 3,000 documents to Paris. After his fall from power, the files over time made their way back to the Vatican. Although during these transfers, many valuable documents were lost, some of which were from the fifth century.
Today, 400 years after its creation, the archive has over 50 miles of shelving, filled with books, papal bulls, decrees and encyclicals that cover twelve centuries of history. Among its corridors, one can find documents like the parchment of acquittal of Clement V to the Templars, from August of the year 1308, and details from the trial of Galileo, as well as the request for a marriage annulment by England's King Henry VIII.
To celebrate it's 400th anniversary, the exhibition “Lux in Arcana” has been created. From March to September, visitors to Rome can find 100 documents from the Vatican's Secret Archives on display in the Capitoline Museums.
Today the Church commerates the life of St. John Bosco (1815-1888), a priest who founded the Salesian Society, named in honor of St. Francis de Sales, and of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians.
Born in 1815, Giovanni (John) Melchior Bosco was the youngest son of a poor farmer in hamlet of Becchi in northern Italy. John lost his father at age two and was raised by his mother.
At age nine, John had a dream that predicted his vocation. In the dream, he was surrounded by a crowd of swearing and fighting children he attempted to pacify, first by reasoning with them verbally, then by hitting them. Then, suddenly a mysterious woman appeared who instructed him, “Softly, softly…if you wish to win them! Take your shepherds staff if you wish to lead them to pasture.” As she spoke the children transformed first into wild beasts, then into lambs.
From this time on, John believed that it was his duty to lead and to help other boys.He began teaching the children of his village catechism, first amusing them with acrobatics and magic tricks, at which he became quite skilled. One Sunday morning, when John saw a traveling gymnast and juggler entertaining the children, he challenged him to a match and beat him at his own tricks. Then he marched off to church, followed by an audience of admirers. John had a very informal education.
When he was staying with an aunt who was a servant to a priest, the priest taught him to read and write. At sixteen, he entered the seminary to begin his studies for the priesthood and was so poor that his clothing had to be provided by charity. He studied theology in Turin and continued to volunteer to help abandoned and neglected homeless boys.
His first assignment as a priest was assistant chaplain at a home for girls, which allowed him to help his boys in his spare time. With help from the founder of the girls’ home, Marchesa Barolo, a wealthy philanthropist, he was able to set up a combination Sunday school / recreation center for the boys on the grounds owned by the Marchesa. The boys were rowdy, unruly and sometimes even picked flowers from the garden, so the Marchesa quickly changed her mind.
For more than a year the group was regarded as a nuisance by the property owners of the town and no suitable meeting place could be found. Finally, he found an old shed to use as a meeting place. The Marchesa now gave him an ultimatum – to give up his work with the boys or to resign his post at the orphanage for girls. He immediately resigned and chose to serve the boys – who now numbered several hundred.
As a result of all this stress, John Bosco developed a severe case of pneumonia and nearly died. When he recovered, he went to live in some rundown rooms near the meeting place, where his mother served as his housekeeper and assistant. He opened a night school and two more youth centers in Turin, and began to build housing for destitute boys.
Next, he built a church, which he named St. Frances de Sales, followed by the construction of another home for his growing family.The boys he enrolled as boarders were of two different types: young apprentices and craftsmen, and other youths whom St. John Bosco perceived to be future helpers, with possible future vocations to the priesthood. He managed them all and taught them well without the need for punishment.
St. John Bosco was a popular preacher and was always in demand. He spent his remaining time writing appealing, high – interest level books for boys, which were virtually non-existent at that time. He worked late into the night, writing historical books and faith – based books, but was forced to give up writing due to his failing eyesight.
On January 26, 1854, a group of men met to form a new apostolate based upon practical works of charity. The group took the name of Salesian after the great bishop of Geneva, St. Frances de Sales. In 1858, John went to Rome, taking the rules of the Order with him and received preliminary approval from Pope Pius IX.
Sixteen years later, he received full approval. His next great accomplishment was the founding of an order of women to care for girls and to provide for their needs. In 1862, he organized a group of twenty-seven young women known as the Daughters of Mary, Help of Christians.
As he grew older, his health weakened and on the morning of January 31, 1888, he died in Turin. St. John Bosco was canonized in 1934.
Patron: Apprentices; boys; editors; Mexican young people; laborers; schoolchildren; students; young people.
Collect: Lord, you called John Bosco to be a teacher and father to the young. Fill us with love like his: may we give ourselves completely to your service and to the salvation of mankind. 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.
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from St. John Bosco:
"Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit him seldom. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil. Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the devil will be powerless against you.”
“This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so He bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.”
“Your reward in heaven will make up completely for all your pain and suffering.”
"All for God and for His Glory. In whatever you do, think of the Glory of God as your main goal."
"Everything and everyone is is won by the sweetness of our words and works."
"Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes you dear to God and to man. But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh."
We learned today that Rick Santorum's daughter has had a miraculous turnaround, but it was a very close call. LifeNews.com shares the following:
“A simple cold can kill her, and it almost did this weekend. She ended up with pneumonia and a cold,” Santorum told Glenn Beck on his radio show Monday. “But she was able to get great care and yesterday really made a great turn around and she will be out of the ICU today and so we are getting back to normal here.”
“She had a very tough go of it, but yesterday afternoon she rallied, and she’s on the mend,” he said. “We are feeling very, very blessed, I just want to thank everybody for their prayers.”
“She’s had a miraculous turnaround,” Santorum said. “We have a long way to go, but she turned the corner and we are very, very grateful.”
The saint of the day for January 30th is St. Hyacintha Mariscotti (1585-1640), a religious of the Third Order of St. Francis and foundress of the Sacconi, also known as the Oblates of Mary.
Born of a wealthy, noble family near Viterbo, Italy, Hyacintha was pious in her early youth, but, as she grew older became frivolous, vain, and proud of her rank. When her younger sister married the man she desired as her spouse, she became disappointed and depressed. She sought refuge from her sorrows in a Franciscan convent. However, when she entered the convent, she refused to give up the luxuries of the world, but instead arrived at the convent with her own personal servants and chef. She came with a full supply of food, wore garments of the finest materials, and demanded a full suite of rooms, which she decorated lavishly. She received both male and female visitors at her pleasure. Thus, she lived a very worldly and luxurious life amid those who had pledged themselves to lives of poverty and penance. She lived this way for ten years, contrary to her vows, and was a source of scandal to the community.
One day, confined to bed due to illness, Hyacintha sent for her Confessor, who refused to enter her boudoir, when he saw how lavishly decorated it was. He warned her that there was no place for fools in heaven and strongly encouraged her to live a more humble life. Following this encounter, Hyacintha resolved to change her ways. She made a public confession, moved to a small, dilapidated cell, discarded her fine clothes, dressed in habits disposed of by the other nuns, went barefoot, and prayed and fasted. She developed strong devotions to the Mother of God, to the Holy Infant Jesus, to the Blessed Eucharist, and to the sufferings of Christ. Eventually, the sister who had once been a source of scandal was elected vice-superior and mistress of novices by her fellow sisters -- becoming their mentor and model of holiness. She founded two confraternities, whose members were known as the Sacconi or the Oblates of Mary. One of these groups collected alms for the poor and cared for prisoners; the other provided homes for the elderly. Hyacintha was beatified by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726, and canonized in 1807, by Pius VII., who proclaimed that through her charity, she had “converted more souls than many preachers of her time.”
Reflection: Let us ask God to help us draw others to Him by living out the virtues of charity and humility in our lives.
Prayer: Lord, give me the courage and conviction to change my heart so that I may become more humble and more charitable toward others in imitation of St. Hyacintha. Please help my actions be a source of inspiration to others. Amen.
"The point is that the Catholic Church (that includes the Bishops, the clergy, and the laity) is facing a crisis that is deeply rooted in the failure of catechesis. Without thorough catechesis, people in the Church – whatever their vocation or state in life – lack the conviction and strength to be effective Catholic witnesses. And when the secular media does more...to discuss issues like same-sex marriage, contraception, abortion, et al, than the Church does, well then we’re faced with things like this new HHS mandate, not to mention other even more serious issues."
Happy Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas! As a graduate student in theology, I pray daily to St. Thomas Aquinas, my dear friend and intercessor, who has helped me through some trying times. Today is his feast day and I plan to celebrate it heartily, but first, let me share a little about him.
Saint Thomas Aquinas was a great medieval theologian and philosopher, who died at the age of 49, leaving behind a body of work that would have taken three normal lifetimes to complete. As a Doctor of the Church, he has been given the title "Angelic Doctor" and is the patron of Catholic universities and schools. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. St. Thomas, a Dominican priest, reflected the Dominican ideal. He was a true contemplative who shared the fruits of contemplation with others.
Born of a noble family in southern Italy, Thomas was educated by the Benedictines. He was a superior student and surpassed his classmates in learning as well as in the practice of virtue.
When he became old enough to choose his state of life, Thomas renounced the things of this world and chose to enter the Order of St. Dominic in spite of the opposition of his family, who had expected him to become a Benedictine. At the age of seventeen, he joined the Dominicans of Naples. His mother, determined to change this, rushed to Naples to consult with her son, but the Dominicans sent him to Rome, on the way to Paris or Cologne. She then instructed his brothers to capture Thomas and confine him in the fortress of San Giovanni at Rocca Secca. He remained "imprisoned" by family members for a two year period in an attempt to prevent him from assuming the Dominican habit and to force him into renouncing his decision. They even went so far as to tempt him with a prostitute. When the woman entered his room, Thomas chased her out with a piece of burning wood from the fire. Following this event, he prayed to God, asking for purity of mind and body. Two angels appeared to him in a dream, to assure him that his prayers had been answered and that God was giving him the gift of perfect chastity. Thus, he earned the title 'Angelic Doctor.' All of the family's efforts proved to be in vain, as Thomas was given the grace to remain pure and to persevere in his vocation.
Thomas studied in Paris and in Cologne under the great philosopher St Albert the Great. Here he was nicknamed the "dumb ox" because of his silent ways and huge size, but he was actually a brilliant student. At the age of twenty-two, he was appointed to teach in the same city. At the same time, he also began to publish his first works. After four years he was sent to Paris. The saint was then a priest. At the age of thirty-one, he received his doctorate.
Thomas spent the rest of his life studying, praying, teaching, writing, composing hymns, and traveling. During his lifetime, he produced 60 works within less than 50 years.
Thomas made a great synthesis of philosophy and theology. He combined the revelation of scriptures with a "framework" of Aristotle and the notion of participation of Plato. This synthesis is called Thomistic philosophy or "Scholasticism" and has remained the official theology of the Church since the 13th century.
He died on March 7, 1274 and was canonized by Pope John XXII on July 18, 1323 - less than 50 years after his death.
Patron: Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; book sellers; Catholic academies; Catholic schools; Catholic universities; chastity; colleges; learning; lightning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; schools; storms; students; theologians; universities; University of Vigo.
On Friday, the administration reaffirmed the mandate, and offered only a one-year delay in enforcement in some cases—as if we might suddenly be more willing to violate our consciences 12 months from now. As a result, all but a few employers will be forced to purchase coverage for contraception, abortion drugs and sterilization services even when they seriously object to them. All who share the cost of health plans that include such services will be forced to pay for them as well. Surely it violates freedom of religion to force religious ministries and citizens to buy health coverage to which they object as a matter of conscience and religious principle.
The rule forces insurance companies to provide these services without a co-pay, suggesting they are "free"—but it is naïve to believe that. There is no free lunch, and you can be sure there's no free abortion, sterilization or contraception. There will be a source of funding: you. Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience. Organizations fear that this unjust rule will force them to take one horn or the other of an unacceptable dilemma: Stop serving people of all faiths in their ministries—so that they will fall under the narrow exemption—or stop providing health-care coverage to their own employees.
The Catholic Church defends religious liberty, including freedom of conscience, for everyone. The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles.Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.
This latest erosion of our first freedom should make all Americans pause. When the government tampers with a freedom so fundamental to the life of our nation, one shudders to think what lies ahead.
Great job, Cardinal Designate Dolan! If the government can respect the right to religious freedom for other religions, they can certainly respect the conscience rights of Catholics! They are violating are our first amendment rights, which they have no right to do. Shame on the Obama administration! This administration is truly un-American and the most intolerant administration we have ever experienced in this country.
January 27, 2012. (Romereports.com) For the first time in decades, euthanasia has been directly rejected by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
In a resolution, it says “euthanasia, in the sense of the intentional killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit, must always be prohibited.”
Even though some European countries allow euthanasia, this resolution shows that as a whole Europe opposes it. It also highlights that intentional killing, should not be allowed.
The resolution states that when people are faced with an ill family member, one should always opt for “pro-life” and the prolongation of life.
The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg, France. It includes 47 European countries. Its objectives are the protection of human rights, rule of law, promoting culture and consolidating democratic stability.
Belgium and Holland for example legally allow euthanasia. But this, resolution sends a clear message that as a whole Europe supports the extension of life.
Even though the resolution is not legally binding, supporters say it's a symbolic gesture that shows Europe supports life.
January 27, 2012. (Romereports.com) Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington is following up on the pope's call to fight secularism. Cardinal Wuerl says that it has spread to many different industries in the US.
“It used to be that across our country the voices of all were respected. Now there is this emphasis particularly in the entertainment media, in the information industry to make everything a secular gray. And to say that there can only be one voice, determining public policy, public life, the direction of the community, the common good, and that that voice must be secular,” said the cardinal.
On January 20th, the White House also announced that religious non-profit organizations such as hospitals and universities will have to include birth control as part of their health care, but gave them one year to comply.
Religious groups are saying their rights are not being respected. Cardinal Wuerl is hoping the New Evangelization can help to create a revival of Christian values. He has also been appointed as a “relator”, or the chief coordinator, for this year's synod on the New Evagelization. He says the key to this can be found in Catholic education.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington (USA)
“We in our country and I think this is true probably across a great part of the Western world, we've suffered from under-catechsesis and so we have a generation, two generations that really does not know the faith.”
Cardinal Wuerl is also the author of “Seek first the Kingdom,” in which he encourages Catholics to challenge many of the status quos of today's culture. He also notes that leading this movement are laypeople.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl
Archbishop of Washington (USA)
“It became very clear to me that many many people have taken the position that the Church, bishops, priests, are the ones that have the responsibility of preaching the gospel and transforming the world. Priests and bishops have the task of preaching the Gospel, laymen and laywomen have the task of transforming the world.”
In promoting the New Evangelization, Cardinal Wuerl has said he is focusing on three elements. The first being a deepening of Catholic education, secondly being comfortable in it, and most importantly sharing it.
Today is the optional memorial of St. Angela Merici, the foundress of the Ursulines. Angela was born on March 21, 1474 at Desenzano, Lake Garda, Italy and died on January 27, 1540 in Brescia.
Angela’s parents died when she was only ten years old. Together, with her older sister, she moved to the nearby town of Salo, to live with her uncle. When her sister died quite suddenly without receiving the last sacraments, Angela was deeply upset. At the age of 15, she became a Franciscan tertiary and greatly increased her prayers and sacrifices for the repose of her sister's soul. She asked God to reveal to her the condition of her deceased sister and He answered her prayer by showing her through a vision that her sister was in Heaven.
When her uncle died, she returned to live at Desenzano to make a life for herself. She was convinced of the need for women to be educated in their faith and converted her home into a school where she daily gathered all the girls of Desenzano and taught them the basics of Christianity. It was at this time that she received a vision, which led her to found a religious order who were to devote their lives to the spiritual education of young women. The school she established at Desenzano was so successful that she was invited to the nearby city of Brescia, to establish a school there, which she accepted.
During a pilgrimage to Holy Land, while visiting Crete, Angela was struck blind. This did not interrupt her trip, however, but she continued on the journey, visiting the shrines with as much devotion and enthusiasm as if she still had her sight. On the way home, while praying before a crucifix, her sight was miraculously restored at the same place where it had been lost.
In 1525, Pope Clement VII, who had heard of her great holiness and her success as a religious teacher of young girls, invited her to remain in Rome; however, Angela returned to Brescia to live a quiet life, away from the limelight.
In 1535, Angela selected twelve women and laid the foundation of the order of the Ursulines in a small house near the Church of St. Afra in Brescia. She died only five years later. St. Angela's body is incorrupt. She was beatified in 1768 by Pope Clement XIII and canonized in 1807 by Pope Pius VII.
Patronage: She is the patron saint of physically challenged people, sick people, and of those who have lost their parents.
Quotes From St. Angela Merci:
"Disorder in society is the result of disorder in the family."
"We must give alms. Charity wins souls and draws them to virtue."
"Mothers of children, even if they have a thousand, carry each and every one fixed in their hearts, and because of the strength of their love they do not forget any of them. In fact, it seems that the more children they have the more their love and care for each one is increased."
St. Angela Merici -- A Prayer of Remembrance
Angela, a valiant woman, inspire us today to be people of faith,
people of action, people in love with God and all creation.
May we be makers of peace in a wounded world.
May we be creators of justice in a broken world.
May we be passionate and compassionate in a indifferent world.
You who traveled the road before us, be with us as you promised.
May the example of your pilgrim heart encourage us on our journey.
Joe Heschmeyer at Shameless Popery has written a post with some great tips for successful blogging for those just starting out, as well as for more experienced bloggers. Posts like this are helpful to all bloggers -- as we strive to develop new ways to improve our blogging skills to maintain the interest of our current readership and to attract new readers. Reaching out to others to spread the good news is my ultimate goal and that of most of many Catholics bloggers I know.
St. Paul was so influential and attractive a personality that he was able to draw such different types of men as Timothy and Titus and to make them his collaborators. Timothy and Titus were converted to Christianity by St Paul, and became his companions and helpers. They were were two of the most beloved and trusted disciples of St. Paul, whom they accompanied in many of his journeys.
Paul made both men bishops and entrusted Timothy with the care of the Christians in Ephesus, and sent Titus to Crete to look after the Christians there. He wrote them “pastoral” epistles, giving advice for pastors and people alike.
Timothy was St. Paul's confidant. St. Timothy has been regarded by some as the "angel of the church of Ephesus", Rev 2:1-17.
Titus was the negotiator, the one St. Paul sent to clear up misunderstandings, reconcile differences, and the one who would organize a new Church. He received a letter from St. Paul which encouraged Christians to live temperate, just, and devout lives, while awaiting the coming of Christ.
St. Timothy was stoned to death thirty years after St. Paul's martyrdom for having denounced the worship of the goddess Diana. Tradition tells us that St. Titus died a natural death at the age of 94, having lived in the state of virginity during his whole life.
Patronage: St. Timothy is the patron saint of intestinal disorders and stomach diseases. St. Titus is the patron of Crete.
Collect: God our Father, you gave your saints Timothy and Titus the courage and wisdom of the apostles: may their prayers help us to live holy lives and lead us to heaven, our true home. Grant 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.
I'm sure my Spiritual Father, a graduate of Christendom, will be happy to see this one!
On January 23, the entire student body of Christendom College, including members of the faculty and staff, led hundreds of thousands in protesting abortion at the 39th Annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. Select students were given the honor of carrying the lead March for Life banner as well as the official March for Life flags.
January 25, 2012. (Romereports.com) During the general audience, following his series of reflections on prayer, the Pope reflected on the prayer of Jesus before the Passion.
In it he says “Jesus, priest and victim, prays that the Father will glorify him in this, the hour of his sacrifice of reconciliation” for the sins of all men.
CATECHESIS FULL TEXT
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our continuing catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to the priestly prayer which Jesus offered at the Last Supper (cf. Jn 17:1-26). Against the backdrop of the Jewish feast of expiation Yom Kippur, Jesus, priest and victim, prays that the Father will glorify him in this, the hour of his sacrifice of reconciliation. He asks the Father to consecrate his disciples, setting them apart and sending them forth to continue his mission in the world.
Christ also implores the gift of unity for all those who will believe in him through the preaching of the apostles. His priestly prayer can thus be seen as instituting the Church, the community of the disciples who, through faith in him, are made one and share in his saving mission. In meditating upon the Lord’s priestly prayer, let us ask the Father for the grace to grow in our baptismal consecration and to open our own prayers to the needs of our neighbours and the whole world. Let us also pray, as we have just done in the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, for the gift of the visible unity of all Christ’s followers, so that the world may believe in the Son and in the Father who sent him.
I offer a warm welcome to the students of the Bossey Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies in Switzerland, and I offer prayerful good wishes for their work. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
January 25, 2012. (Romereports.com) The actor and film producer Eduardo Verastegui has recorded a new song for the pope's upcoming visit to Mexico. In March, Benedict XVI will make his first visit to the country. While the official agenda for the visit was being confirmed, the star of the film “Bella” wanted to do something to welcome the pope.
Verastegui was part of the group Kairo that also released a solo album. In the past, he's performed with singers like Alejandro Sanz, Shakira and Gloria Estefan at the taping of “The Last Goodbye,” an emotional song dedicated to the victims of the September 11th attacks.
Not much is known about the melody of the song dedicated to Benedict XVI. But it's planned to be released in a few weeks and will probably become one of the most popular song in Latin music this March.
Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, which gives us occasion to reflect on our own faith journey and our own conversion experiences. How do we relate to Paul’s conversion story?
Paul was the most ferocious enemy of the Church, who as a zealous Jew and Pharisee was persecuting Christians during the first century. Paul rooted out Christians in the synagogues, taking them into Jerusalem in chains to have them persecuted. In fact, he even assisted in the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Then, suddenly, without warning, as he is traveling on the road to Damascus, he hears the voice of God speaking to Him, is blinded by a bright light, and is knocked off his horse. While Paul was an intellectual, a learned Rabbi, a great theologian, his conversion experience was hardly an intellectual one. He was not converted by reason, by an acceptance of Christian ideas, nor was he swayed over by Christian apologetics, but his was a deeply spiritual experience.
As I reflect on my own conversion, it was hardly an intellectual experience, but a mysterious work of God. It was 1987. Both my mother and younger sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer that year. My parents were living in Texas and I was living in IL. I was working as a School Psychologist at a special education cooperative there and went to visit my parents on my Easter break. I had left the Church fifteen years earlier and had now joined my parents for the Good Friday liturgy at their parish.
We were affectionately greeted by their deacon and a nun in full habit, who seemed so joyful and loving toward us. This impressed me, as I wasn't used to seeing people greet one another this way in my daily environment. Usually, people were pleased or relieved to see me and immediately began sharing their problems or concerns with me and it was my job to solve them. My dad (who had emphysema and bursitis, and later, lung cancer) insisted on pushing my mom's wheelchair into church. During the liturgy, we watched a dramatic depiction of the Passion, which was re-enacted on the altar with what appeared to be professional actors (members of the parish) that was heart-wrenching. I felt Christ's pain and His deep love for me. I felt so unworthy and so guilty for my sins -- something I had not felt in a long time.
Of course, I had been raised Catholic and taught to say my prayers at the age of three. I had attended daily Mass when I was a student at my Catholic parochial school. I also made daily visitations to the Blessed Sacrament after school. I regularly attended the annual vocation days held at McCormick Place in Chicago for junior high students considering a religious vocation and had a strong desire to become a nun, like my aunt and my cousin and the teaching nuns I admired so much. By the time I was a senior in high school, I began to have other ambitions. Although I was very active in my Catholic faith, I began to wonder what it would be like to live in the world and experience life like I thought other people (who, unlike my family, had money) did. Our family life revolved around school and church-related activities -- our Catholic faith was our life. Still, I was curious about things outside of our small community and yearned for something more. In my freshmen year, I had traveled to the New York World's Fair and seen the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. I wondered what it would be like to live there or in Chicago. I wanted to be free and to experience life -- it was time for my metamorphosis.
This metamorphosis began my freshman year in college, which wasn't far from "the Windy City". I lived in an apartment only a few blocks from school with an older roommate -- a working girl who loved to party. My life seemed to take a bit of a downhill turn from there. I began to have an inordinate attachment to worldly goods, money, status, and spending time in engaging pleasurable pursuits to satisfy my ego. I had lost my sense of sin.
When I became well-established in my career, I would meet people who told me "You are so lucky. You have it all!" But I certainly didn't feel like I had it all -- there was an inner yearning for something more -- something I couldn't define -- but desperately needed. My life was empty.
On that Good Friday, I watched my dad fall to his knees and embrace the life-size cross, tenderly kissing the feet of Jesus. Then, my mom seemed to "fly" out of her wheel chair and, in an instant, was on her knees, too, embracing and reverently kissing the corpus. It was at that moment, that I knew where the void was in my life. Jesus had been missing.
This was the turning point in my life – the decisive moment when I knew I would return to my faith. It made me realize how much I loved Jesus and how much I missed Him and yearned to receive Him in the Eucharist. When I did return to my faith, like St. Paul, I felt compelled to reach out to others in love and to share the gospel message with as many people as I could. It has only been through my acceptance of the free graces of God that I have been given and continue to receive daily that my ongoing conversion continues.
All conversions are the result of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. And, yes, they also involve an intellectual component – the acceptance of a creed and the doctrine of faith. However, it is only when our hearts are transformed by the love of Christ that we are able to follow after Him.
In the words of Pope Benedict XVI:
"Turning now to ourselves, let us ask what this means for us. It means that for us too Christianity is not a new philosophy or a new morality. We are only Christians if we encounter Christ. Of course, he does not show himself to us in this overwhelming, luminous way, as he did to Paul to make him the Apostle to all peoples. But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we truly become Christians. And in this way our reason opens, all Christ's wisdom opens, as do all the riches of truth. Therefore let us pray the Lord to illumine us, to grant us an encounter with his presence in our world, and thus to grant us a lively faith, an open heart and great love for all, which is capable of renewing the world." (Wednesday Audience, September 3, 2008)
January 24, 2012. (Romereports.com) The pope has called for journalists to learn the capacity of listening and reflection for the annual World Day of Communication. The Vatican's Council of Social Communication presented his message called “Silence and Word: Path of Evangelization.” It says that as much, if not more, could be said with silence instead of the spoken word.
The president of the Vatican's department of communications believes this message is a reflection of the pope's personality and his outlook on being human.
Msgr. Claudio Maria Celli
President, Pontifical Council for Social Communications
“I think that it's not only his personal characteristics but probably his knowledge, his thinking, his reflection about the human being is helping us to rediscover what it means to give an authentic deep sense, human sense to my communication.”
The pope's message also says that communication has largely moved to search engines and social networks on the web. It notes that questions and answers are frequently posted online, but to focus on important issues, one should also consider silence.
Under-Secretary, Pontifical Council for Social Communications
“The Church introduces silence as a moment of reflection, as a compliment to the word. With silence, the word is more heavy, more profound and more meaningful, when it has grown from the reflection point of silence. Silence is a form of high communication.”
The pope also mentioned the power of technology. He says that attention should be given to various websites and social networks that promote authentic questioning and reflection.
He also talked about the power of Twitter style comments, saying in short phrases, often no longer than a verse from the Bible, profound thoughts can be communicated.”
January 24, 2012. (Romereports.com) The U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops says religious freedom is facing a serious threat in America.
At the center of it all, is a health care mandate that would require employers and insurance companies to offer contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs.
Msgr. Timothy Dolan
U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, President
“It's requiring almost all Americans, even those with ethical or religious objections to pay for this coverage.”
In this video, produced by the Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan says the mandate does have an exemption, but it's limited. In essence, he says, the health care plan violates religious freedom, virtually ignoring the rights of those who oppose it.
Msgr. Timothy Dolan
U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, President
“The administration offered a very narrow religious exemption to some employers such as Churches, but the government will still require almost all Americans to pay for this coverage, even if it violates their consciences. That is a foul ball, by any standard.”
Even though churches are exempt, church related institutions, like schools, hospitals and charitable organizations are not. The mandate had been under review, but most recently, the Health and Human Services Department announced that all employers must comply by August 1, 2012. Church related institutions though, have a year longer, until August 1, 2013.
Some believe the year extension is more of a political move, to try and avoid high tensions during an election year.
In fact, just a day before the announcement, Benedict XVI met with a group of American Bishops during their ad limina visit at the Vatican. There, the pope said he was concerned over seemingly growing hostility against Christianity in the U.S
January 19, 2012
“When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey.”
Dolan says American Bishops will fight against this mandate. He's also urging all Catholics to join them.
St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), a Swiss theologian and the patron saint of writers has long been my mentor and model, and one of my most powerful intercessors. As a graduate student in theology and as a freelance writer, I look to him for guidance and for assistance in my studies and my writing. His unique methods of evangelization have also greatly inspired me.
At the age of thirteen, Francis studied theology at the University of Paris and immediately afterword earned a doctorate in law. However, he felt called to the priesthood and was ordained and during the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church at this time was losing many of its parishioners to the new churches of the Protestant Reformation and Francis set out to restore Catholicism to the area around Lake Geneva known as Chablais.
For three years, he trudged through the countryside, his feet frozen and bleeding, as he trampled through the snow. No one would listen to him, so he wrote out his sermons, copying them by hand in the form of leaflets, and placed them under doors. It is said that he converted 40,000 people by the time he left to return home. As Bishop of Geneva, his words of inspiration and wise counsel led many people to live out the gospel message in their lives. He founded the Order of the Visitation with St. Jane Francis de Chantal, a good friend, with whom he shared his spiritual beliefs. He remained active throughout his life, using his talent for writing to assist him in ministering to others. St. Francis de Sales is a Doctor of the Church and patron of the Catholic press.
Here are some of my favorite quotes from St. Francis de Sales:
“The highest degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful, and troublesome to us.”
"Keep your heart very wide to receive in it all sorts of crosses and resignations or abnegations, for the love of Him who has received so many of them for us."
"Faithfully attend to your obligations, but know that you have no greater obligation than that of your salvation and of the saving progress of your soul on the way to true devotion."
“Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset. If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.”
"How beautiful it is to behold a person destitute of all attachment, ready for any act of virtue or charity, gentle to all, indifferent as to any employment, serene in consolations and tribulations, and wholly content if only the will of God is done!"
1. Pray! We all intend to pray for an end to abortion, contraception, and any other practices which defile human life, but how often do you offer a rosary or divine mercy chaplet specifically for those issues? Do you fast? Try skipping one meal per week. Heck, try giving up every snack or even just butter on your roll or gravy on your potatoes. Even the smallest sacrifice for our Lord can do wondrous things.
2. Call your Congressmen! Congress holds the purse strings of the Federal Government, and empirical data suggests that Congress doesn’t generally act unless the public expresses outrage. (Follow this link and use the directory at the top right of the page to find your Congressman’s info.)
3. Take courage! Christ instituted the Church in a time when many were hostile to outside religions. Christ himself was crucified, and countless followers were martyred for their belief in his teaching. Their martyrdom did not diminish the faith, but propagated it and inspired others to live their faith with courage.
4. Pray for our clergy! The shepherds of the Church need our prayers to have the fortitude to preach the Gospel and give strength to their sheep during this time of persecution.
5. Engage the social media! Show the Catholic bishops of the United States that you support them! Join the Facebook page we have dedicated to the cause: Stand with the US Bishops against HHS.
6. Show your support visually! If you are a blogger or webmaster, support the bishops by posting a badge on your site! We have a variety to choose from, and you can see how each would look on the background color of your site by using the Badge Selection Tool.
7. Finally, take heart that even though our life on this earth can seem long, it is as Mother Teresa described, “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth, a life full of the most atrocious tortures on earth, will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”
January 23, 2012. (Romereports.com) He's been called “The John the Baptist of our times,” Archbishop Fulton Sheen is remembered by many as the greatest evangelist in the history of the United States. When television was still in its infancy, Archbishop Sheen hosted his own show called “Life is Worth Living,” that would reach 30 million viewers per week.
His cause for beatification and canonization was opened in 2002 in Peoria, Illinois, where Archbishop Sheen was originally ordained as a priest in 1919. In December, the investigation tribunal into an alleged miracle was closed and sent to the Vatican for review.
Also, now available is the documentary “Servant of All,” which tells Sheen's story and shows the testaments from many who were close to him or affected by his life.
Msgr. Daniel R. Jenky
Bishop of Peoria, Illinois
“He really was one of the most important evangelists in the history of the United States. He may have more souls to his record than anybody else in our nation.”
“I thought he made tremendous impact on everybody, but especially in the Catholic family, who frankly never had someone like this talking to them every week on something like this which they never had either!”
The DVD of the documentary can now be ordered online. While his cause for beatification remains under review, the diocese of Peoria awaits to hear the outcome.
St. Ildephonsus was the Archbishop of Toledo, and died 23 January, 667. He was born of a distinguished family and was the nephew of St. Eugenius, his predecessor in the See of Toledo. At an early age, despite the determined opposition of his father, he embraced the monastic life in the monastery of Agli, near Toledo. He was ordained a deacon, around the year 630. He was called by King Reccesvinth, near the end of 657 to fill the archiepiscopal throne of Toledo, where he governed the Church of Toledo for just over nine years and was buried in the Basilica of Saint Leocadia.
Ildephonsus had a strong devotion to the Blessd Mother, and it is said that one day he was praying before the relics of Saint Leocadia, when the martyr arose from her tomb and thanked the saint for the devotion he showed towards the Mother of God. It was also related that on another occasion the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in person and presented him with a priestly vestment, to reward him for his zeal in honoring her.
The literary work of Ildephonsus is more widely known than the details of his life, and merits for him a distinguished place in the role of Spanish writers.
St. Agnes was born in Rome during the beginning of the third century. She was brought up as a Christian and grew to be a very beautiful young woman. By the age of twelve, Agnes was already receiving suitors for her hand in marriage. And already by the age of twelve, Agnes had developed a deep spirituality that directed her to devote her life to God as a consecrated virgin.
Several of the suitors who Agnes turned away became bitter at her and turned her in to the authorities as a Christian. The political atmosphere at the time was very charged, and the Diocletian persecution was well under way. Agnes was arrested and thrown into a house of prostitution to await her death. All who came to look lustfully upon Agnes lost their sight, but many had their sight restored by her intercessory prayers. At last Agnes was sentenced to death. Her body was taken away and buried in a catacomb that later came to bear her name.
Under the reign of the Emperor Constantine, a basilica was built in her honor near her tomb. For centuries, two lambs have been brought to the church and blessed every year. The lambs are then reared in a cloister. When they have grown into sheep, their wool is used to make 'palliums' which are special stoles the Pope sends to archbishops to wear on their shoulders as symbols of the sheep carried by the Good Shepherd.
St. Agnes, whose name means both purity and lamb is the patron of Christian virtue confronted by political and social violence and her life was commented on by many of her contemporaries.
Pope Damasus adorned her tomb with with sacred poetry and many of the the Fathers of the Church, following St. Ambrose, have honored her in their writings.
"This is a virgin's birthday; let us follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr's birthday; let us offer sacrifices; it is the birthday of holy Agnes: let men be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married woman with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. It seems to me that this child, holy beyond her years and courageous beyond human nature, received the name of Agnes (Greek: pure) not as an earthly designation but as a revelation from God of what she was to be."
~ St. Augustine
"Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve."
~ St. Ambrose
WASHINGTON—Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it “ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans.” He made the statement in a web video posted at: http://bcove.me/ob5itz9v. . .
“Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn’t happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said.
On January 20, Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the Health and Human Services, announced that non-profit employers will have one year to comply with the new rule.
Cardinal-designate Dolan urged Catholics and the public at large to speak out in protest.
“Let your elected leaders know that you want religious liberty and rights of conscience restored and that you want the administration’s contraceptive mandate rescinded,” he said.
Today the Obama administration refused to change a controversial rule that would require religious institutions, in violation of their conscience, to pay for contraceptive drugs—including those that could cause an abortion. Instead, the administration merely delayed the effective date of the rule by one year.
The rule is currently subject to two lawsuits filed by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty—one on behalf of Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, and one on behalf of Colorado Christian University.
“This is a shameless attempt to kick the can down the road in an election year,” says Hannah Smith, Senior Legal Counsel for The Becket Fund. “Religious colleges, universities, and hospitals will never pay for abortion drugs in violation of their religious beliefs–this year or any other year.”
The announcement comes just one week after the Supreme Court’s decision in EEOC v. Hosanna-Tabor, a landmark case involving the right of churches to select their religious leaders. In that case, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected the Obama administration’s “extreme” position that would have allowed the government to decide whom churches could have as a minister. The Becket Fund also represented the church in that U.S. Supreme Court case.
“The administration has seen the writing on the wall. They know that this mandate cannot survive constitutional scrutiny any more than their ‘extreme’ position in Hosanna-Tabor did. So the administration is trying to delay the inevitable judgment day,” added Smith.
Today is the optional memorial of St. Fabian, pope (236-250) and martyr.
Eusebius, born just a few years after Fabian's death, tells us how Fabian came to Rome after Pope Anteros died in 236. A layperson, and not a very important one, he may have come for the same reason many still come to Rome today during a papal election: concern for the future of the faith, curiosity about the new pope, a desire to grieve for the pope who had passed. Seeing all the important people gathered to make this momentous decision must have been overwhelming. Which one would be the new pope? Someone known for power? Someone known for eloquence? Someone known for courage?
Suddenly during the discussion, a dove descended from the ceiling. But it didn't settle on "someone known" for anything at all. The dove, according to Eusebius, "settled on [Fabian's] head as clear imitation of the descent of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove upon the Savior." There must have been something of the Holy Spirit working because everyone suddenly proclaimed Fabian as "worthy" to be pope and this stranger was elected.
To us the dove signifies peace, and this dove was prophetic. Starting close to Fabian's election, the suffering and persecuted Church began a time of peace. The emperor, Philip, was friendly to Christians and not only was the persecution stopped but Christians experienced acceptance.
In this era of peace, Fabian was able to build up the structure of the Church of Rome, appointing seven deacons and helping to collect the acts of the martyrs.
But, in a timeless story, the people who had always been in power were not happy to see the newcomers growing and thriving. There were many incidents of pagans attacking Christians and when Philip died so died the time of peace. The new emperor, Decius, ordered all Christians to deny Christ by offering incense to idols or through some other pagan ritual.
In the few years of peace, the Church had grown soft. Many didn't have the courage to stand up to martyrdom. But Fabian, singled out by symbol of peace, stood as a courageous example for everyone in his flock. He died a martyr in 250 and is buried in the Cemetery of Calixtus that he helped rebuild and beautify. A stone slab with his name can still be found there.
Pope Saint Fabian, it's so easy to believe that peace means a life without conflict or suffering. Help us to see that the only true peace is the peace Christ brings. Never let us as a Church or as individual Christians choose to deny our beliefs simply to avoid an unpleasant situation. Amen
January 19, 2012. (Romereports.com) A group of American bishops met with Benedict XVI during their Ad limina visit to Rome. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington DC spoke on behalf of the bishops and thanked the pope for the meeting.
Benedict XVI expressed his concern over the hostility against Judeo-Christian tradition and “Christianity as such”. He said it's “imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres”.
Benedict XVI “When a culture attempts to suppress the dimension of ultimate mystery, and to close the doors to transcendent truth, it inevitably becomes impoverished and falls prey.”
The pope also applauded their “efforts to maintain contacts with Catholics involved in political life,” adding that Catholic politicians needed to respect the values of respect for life, human dignity, and human rights.
He noted that a strong faith would help American Catholics contribute to a renewal of the society and the evangelization of American culture.
Benedict XVI also expressed the importance of lay people in articulating the Christian vision, saying it was a primary task for the Church in the US.
The bishops in this ad limina visit came from Washington D.C., Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, West Virginia, the US Virgin Island, and the U.S. Archdiocese for Military Services who serves as the spiritual director for all the armed forces of the United States.
Julia Holcomb was forced to reveal a secret she had been keeping for 35 years after her son came across one of the unflattering -- and untrue -- statements that Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler had written about her, their relationship, and their abortion.
"I had to become Silent No More right in my own home, I had no choice," said Ms. Holcomb, whose life hit a low point in 1975, when she nearly died in an apartment fire and was then convinced to abort her baby at five months.
Now Ms. Holcomb is a spokeswoman for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign by choice.
On Monday, Jan. 23, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building, she will publicly share the story of her abortion and how it was the catalyst that prompted her to turn her life around. She is a married mother of six sons, a devout Roman Catholic and a pro-life activist.
Ms. Holcomb will join dozens of other women and men from the campaign who will tell their stories at the annual event that immediately follows the March for Life. She was convinced to go public with her story after reading a piece written by Kevin Burke, Pastoral Associate of Priests for Life and co-founder of Rachel's Vineyard, about the abortion regret that Tyler – who last night began his second season as an "American Idol" judge -- has expressed in two books.
"In spite of everything, I do not hate Steven Tyler, nor am I personally bitter." Ms. Holcomb said. "I pray for his sincere conversion of heart and hope he can find God's grace, as I have."
Ms. Holcomb also will speak at a March for Life Youth Rally, to take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21, in the Hyatt Regency Hotel on Capitol Hill, 400 New Jersey Ave NW.
Today is the feast of Saint Joseph Sebastian Pelczar 1842-1924), Bishop of Przemyśl and founder of the Congregation of the Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Joseph Sebastian Pelczar was born on January 17, 1842, in the small town of Korczyna in southwestern Poland, where he was raised by pious parents. He decided to devote himself to the service of God as a young student. In his diary he wrote: “Earthly ideals are fading away. I see the ideal of life in sacrifice, and the ideal of sacrifice in priesthood.”
Ordained a priest on July 17, 1864, Joseph Sebastian was sent to Sambor, to a parish in the Diocese of Przemysl, where he worked for a year and a half as a curate. He was then sent to Rome to study and spent two years there. Having earned doctorates in theology and canon law, he returned to Poland and, after a short period of service as curate in Wojutycze and Sambor, he became a professor of the Major Seminary of Przemysl (1869-1877). Later, he was appointed as professor of the Jagellonian University in Krakow (1877-99).
As a professor and as the Dean of the Theological Department, he gained the reputation as a wise and scholarly man, a competent organizer and a friend to young people. As a sign of their high esteem for him, the academic community entrusted him with the honorable responsibility of Rector of the University (1882-83), Krakow’s Alma Mater.
Father Pelczar did not confine himself only to academic work, but generously involved himself in other social and charitable activities such as the St. Vincent de Paul Society and the Society for the Education of the People. In the latter of the two, he served as President for 16 years. During that time, he erected hundreds of libraries, delivered numerous free lectures, published and distributed more than a thousand books, and opened a school for servants. In 1891, Father Pelczar established the Fraternity of Our Lady, Queen of the Polish Crown. Besides its religious commitment, the Fraternity was founded to care for the poor, the orphans, apprentices and servants, especially those who were sick and unemployed.
Joseph Sebastian recognized that the problems existing in his times were actually opportunities to see the will of God. In 1894, he founded the Congregation of the Sister Servants of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Krakow, with the aim of spreading the Kingdom of the love of the Heart of Jesus. He wanted the Sisters to be signs and instruments of this love for girls, for the sick and all people in need.
Five years later, in 1899 he was named Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Przemysl. During the twenty-five years of his episcopate, he was widely regarded as a good pastor, devoted to the people entrusted to him.
In spite of poor health, he made frequent visits to the parishes, supported the religious orders, conducted three synods, and worked for the education and religious formation of his priests. He encouraged devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Eucharistic devotions, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. He built and restored churches, built nurseries, kitchens, homeless shelters, schools for the poor, and gave tuition assistance to poor seminarians. He worked for the implentation of the social doctrine described in the writings of Pope Leo XIII. He left behind a large body of work including books, pastoral letters, sermons, addresses, prayers and other writings.
Bishop Pelczar died on the night of March 28, 1924. In 1991, John Paul II, elevated him to the glory of the beatified. The relics of Blessed Joseph Sebastian Pelczar rest in the Cathedral Church in Przemysl.
I received the following from a second grade teacher:
The class has been learning about Martin Luther King, Jr., and we were talking about how one person can make a big difference. We talked about how he had a dream.
So they had a writing assignment to write about what their dream for the world right now is. This little boy wrote, “My dream for the world Is for president Obama to not be president ever again. Because he says you can kill babies. And because that is a dumb law.”
I was not really sure how I would feel about Courageous. I had heard good things about it, but thought that it would be more appealing to men – fathers. How wrong I was. I viewed Courageous on blue ray this past week and loved it!
Courageous is an exciting, emotional, and entertaining movie, filled with action scenes, and interspersed with humor. It is the story of five men – four policemen and one Hispanic carpenter -- who realize they need to be better fathers and are determined to do something about it.
The film opens with African American Nathan Thompson pulling into a gas station and pumping gas into his truck. When he turns his back, a gang member steals it and drives off. Nathan catches up to him and a frantic battle for the truck ensues. Nathan latches onto the driver’s side on the truck, dangling from the moving vehicle, grabbing the steering wheel through the window, while fighting off the thief. When he finally regains control of his truck, we discover that his son in the back seat.
Nathan is new to the Atlanta police force and has just transferred from the department in his small home town of Albany. There is much camaraderie among this group of policemen, but there is also a growing drug problem in the community among youth who are fatherless, which presents professional as well as spiritual challenges.
Forty-year-old Adam, father of Dylan, 15, and Emily, 9 is the leader of this group of policemen. While Adam is a hardworking provider for his family, he is not quite up to par when it comes to being a father. He misses his daughter’s music recital and turns down her invitation to dance in public. He refuses to run with his teenage son in the father/son 5k race. There is little communication between father and son. However, Adam begins to rethink his fatherhood responsibilities after his daughter dies in a tragic automobile accident. He decides he wants to be the best father he can be to his remaining child.
After doing some independent research, Adam learns the biblical meaning of fatherhood and what it entails. When he discusses his plan to be a better father with his three co-workers and Javier, they also come to the realization of what they need to do to improve their role as fathers. Their plan has some dramatic results as the men are challenged to be accountable for their actions.
I enjoyed this film immensely and deeply appreciated the meaningful message it offers for fathers today – to step up and be leaders in the faith, faithful lovers of their wives, and protectors of their family – and above all, to put God first above all else. This was a powerful film! I give it a rating of five stars.
1. Of Gods and Men This compelling historical drama relates the ordeal of seven French Trappist monks in the mountains of Algeria who are taken captive by Islamic fundamentalists. Before the monks' abduction, they have ample reason to believe they may be in danger, but their assumption that there can and must be common ground between Islam and Christianity leads them to remain at the monastery. This is truly a masterpiece and a must-see movie. Teens and up.
2. War Horse A friendship begins between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the horse moves through the First World War, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets -- British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter. Bring a box of klennex. Teens and up.
3. Jane EyreJane Eyre flees Thornfield House, where she works as a governess for wealthy Edward Rochester. The isolated and imposing residence - and Mr. Rochester's coldness - have sorely tested the young woman's resilience, forged years earlier when she was orphaned. As Jane reflects upon her past and recovers her natural curiosity, she will return to Mr. Rochester - and the terrible secret that he is hiding. One of the best versions I have seen. Teens and up.
4. The Mighty Macs In the early 70s, Cathy Rush becomes the head basketball coach at a tiny, all-girls Catholic college. Though her team has no gym and no uniforms -- and the school itself is in danger of being sold -- Coach Rush looks to steer her girls to their first national championship. This is one of the best Catholic movies I have seen in a long time – it is reminiscent of the Bing Crosby films of the 50s. The difference is it is based on a true story. It is exciting, funny, and uplifting – a feel good film. All ages.
5.CourageousFour men, one calling: To serve and protect. As law enforcement officers, they are confident and focused, standing up to the worst the streets can offer. Yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge they're ill prepared to tackle: fatherhood. When tragedy strikes home, these men are left wrestling with their hopes, their fears, their faith, and their fathering. Sherwood Pictures, creators of Fireproof, returns with this heartfelt, action-packed story. The humor in the film lightens the heaviness. Have your box of klennex with you! Teens and up.
Note: I have yet to see The Way, which I think will most likely be a favorite, based on everything I have heard about it. I have seen Midnight in Paris, which I did not like at all.