Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pope explains what St. Therese of Lisieux can teach Christians about spirituality

September 30, 2012. ( October 1st is the feast day of St. Therese of Lisieux. Even though the French saint passed away at the age of 24, her short life continues to have great impact. During a general audience on April 6th 2011, the Pope explained what “The Little Flower” can teach Christians about  spirituality.

BENEDICT XVI (6/04/2012)
“Theresa received permission to enter the Carmel of Lisieux at the tender age of fifteen. Her name in religion – Sister Theresa of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face – expresses the heart of her spirituality, centered on the contemplation of God’s love revealed in the mysteries of the Incarnation and Redemption.

 In imitation of Christ, Theresa sought to be little in all things and to seek the salvation of the world. Taken ill in her twenty-third year, she endured great physical suffering in union with the crucified Lord; she also experienced a painful testing of faith which she offered for the salvation of those who deny God.

By striving to embody God’s love in the smallest things of life, Theresa found her vocation to be "love in the heart of the Church". May her example and prayers help us to follow "the little way of trust and love" in spiritual childhood, abandoning ourselves completely to the love of God and the good of souls.”

Why Marriage Matters

H/T:  Tom Hoopes at Catholic Vote

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, Archangels

Today is the feast of the Archangels: Sts. Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. These three Archangels are the only angels named in Sacred Scripture and all three have important roles in the history of salvation.

Michael's name means "who is like God?" Three books of the Bible speak of St. Michael: Daniel, Revelation and the Letter of Jude. In the book of Revelation or the Apocalypse, chapter 12:7-9, we read of a great war that went on in heaven. Michael and his angels battled with Satan. Michael became the champion of loyalty to God. We can ask St. Michael to make us strong in our love for Jesus and in our practice of the Catholic religion.

Patron: Against temptations; against powers of evil; artists; bakers; bankers; battle; boatmen; cemeteries; coopers; endangered children; dying; Emergency Medical Technicians; fencing; grocers; hatmakers; holy death; knights; mariners; mountaineers; paramedics; paratroopers; police officers; radiologists; sailors; the sick; security forces; soldiers; against storms at sea; swordsmiths; those in need of protection; Brussels, Belgium; Caltanissett, Sicily; Cornwall, England; Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee Florida; England; Germany; Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama; Papua, New Guinea; Puebla, Mexico; San Miguel de Allende, Mexico; Sibenik, Croatia; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts.

Gabriel's name means "the power of God." He, too, is mentioned in the book of Daniel. He has become familiar to us because Gabriel is an important person in Luke's Gospel. This archangel announced to Mary that she was to be the mother of our savior. Gabriel announced to Zechariah that he and St. Elizabeth would have a son and call him John. Gabriel is the announcer, the communicator of the Good News. We can ask him to help us be good communicators as he was.

Patron: Ambassadors; broadcasting; childbirth; clergy; communications; diplomats; messengers; philatelists; postal workers; public relations; radio workers; secular clergy; stamp collectors; telecommunications; Portugal; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.

Raphael's name means "God has healed." We read the touching story of Raphael's role in the Bible's book of Tobit. He brought protection and healing to the blind Tobit. At the very end of the journey, when all was completed, Raphael revealed his true identity. He called himself one of the seven who stands before God's throne. We can ask St. Raphael to protect us in our travels, even for short journeys, like going to school. We can also ask him to help when illness strikes us or someone we love.

Patron: Blind; bodily ills; counselors; druggists; eye problems; guardian angels; happy meetings; healers; health inspectors; health technicians; love; lovers; mental illness; nurses; pharmacists; physicians; shepherds; against sickness; therapists; travelers  young people; young people leaving home for the first time; Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa; Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington.

Prayer to all the Archangels

St. Michael, St. Gabriel, St. Raphael, be with me today. Protect me from whatever could cause spiritual or physical harm. Help me be faithful to Jesus and a good communicator of his divine love. Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in the battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust into Hell, Satan and all the other evil spirits, who prowl about the world, seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Prayer to St. Raphael

Blessed Saint Raphael, Archangel,We beseech thee to help us in all our needs and trials of this life, as thou, through the power of God, didst restore sight and give guidance to young Tobit. We humbly seek thine aid and intercession, that our souls may be healed,our bodies protected from all ills,and that through divine grace we may be made fit to dwell in the eternal Glory of God in heaven. Amen.

Prayer to St. Gabriel

O Blessed Archangel Gabriel, we beseech thee, do thou intercede for us at the throne of divine Mercy in our present necessities, that as thou didst announce to Mary the mystery of the Incarnation, so through thy prayers and patronage in heaven we may obtain the benefits of the same, and sing the praise of God forever in the land of the living. Amen.

Friday, September 28, 2012

You Deserve to Know the Truth: Contraception

Correction--1/4 acre is actually 10,890 square feet.

~ Via ComeUnityinTruth.

St. Wenceslaus, martyr; St. Lawrence Ruiz and Companions, martyrs

Today is the optional memorial of St. Wenceslaus, martyr and St. Lorenzo Ruiz and Companions, martyrs.

Saint Wenceslaus is the patron of both the Czech Republic and of Slovakia. He was born to a Christian duke and a pagan mother in 903 and was educated by his Christian grandmother, Saint Ludmilla.

When his father died, his mother took control of the Duchy and began to oppose Christianity. The people urged Wenceslaus to take power. He did so and protected and strengthened the Church.

Wenceslaus, well known for his Christian virtue, responded to a call to live a consecrated life and made a vow of virginity.

In 935, his mother and his brother, Boleslaus, plotted to kill him and take power. Wenceslaus was ambushed on his way to Church and hacked to pieces by his brother and his followers. Three days later his brother repented and had Wenceslaus' body buried in the Church of St. Vitus in Prague.

Saint Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized martyr of the Philippines, and was canonized along with 15 companions - nine Japanese, four Spaniards, one Frenchman and one Italian - all of whom were on mission in Nagasaki, Japan, to evangelize and minister to the Japanese Christian community who were suffering the persecutions of the Japanese feudal Lords. Thirteen of the martyrs were Dominicans and three were Dominican Tertiaries.

Lorenzo Ruiz was born in about 1600 to a Chinese Christian Father and a Tagala Christian mother in Manila, Philippines. He was a devoted and active Catholic, involved in a Rosary Confraternity and became a husband and father of three.

In 1637 he was falsely accused of murder and forced to leave his country. The Dominican fathers who knew Lorenzo arranged to have him take a ship to Japan.

Soon after arriving in Japan, Lorenzo was captured for being Catholic and brought to Nagasaki, where he was tortured. He was promised safe passage back to his family if he renounced his faith, but he refused, reportedly saying that if he had a thousand lives he would die a thousand times for God. He was finally killed on September 29, 1637 by an infamous Japanese torture tool known as "the pit." All his companions were martyred in the same manner.

On February 18, 1981, Lorenzo Ruiz became the first person beatified outside the Vatican, when Pope John Paul II beatified him in the Philippines. He was canonized on October 18, 1987, in Rome.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Pope on Sports Medicine: The dangers of winning at all costs

September 27, 2012. ( Rome is being called the world capital of sports medicine, even if it's only for a few days. Experts from 107 countries have gathered here for the International Federation of Sports Medicine meeting.

Benedict XVI welcomed the group in Castel Gandolfo, where he emphasized that moral principles are also needed in sports. He explained that abusing medicine in sports can have dangerous consequences.

“It has even happened from time to time that winning at all costs has replaced the true spirit of sports and has led to the abuse and misuse of modern medicine.”

The Pope also talked about how sports have the unique power of uniting people, while enriching  the human spirit.

“Just as sport is more than just competition, each sportsman and woman is more than a mere competitor: they are possessed of a moral and spiritual capacity which ought to be enriched and deepened by sports and sports medicine. Sometimes, however, success, fame, medals and the pursuit of money become the primary, or even sole, motive for those involved.”

The Pope went on to say that St. Paul would encourage early Christians,  by telling them to embrace the spirit and determination found in sports.

Catholic Voters Are Morally Complicit When They Empower Instrinsically Evil Policies

Video: Catholics are Prohibited from Voting for Obama

St. Vincent de Paul

Today is the memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, the 17th century French priest known for his apostolic work among the poor and marginalized.

Born to a poor family in Pouy in the soutwest of France in 1581, Vincent was an intellectually gifted youth who began his theological studies at the age of 15 and was ordained at the age of 20.

On a voyage to the Holy Land, Vincent's ship was boarded by pirates and he was captured and sold into slavery in Africa, where he was held for two years before he converted his master to Christianity and was freed.

He returned to France and was appointed to a parish near Paris, from where he began to initiate and organize missions for the poor, destitute, forgotten, sick, uneducated, and unemployed.

He founded the Congregation of Priests of the Mission and the Congregation of the Daughters of Charity and sent priests to Africa to minister to and ransom slaves.

He vigorously opposed Jansenism and helped reform orders of priests and religious, famously preaching retreats around France.

The humble St. Vincent often spoke on humility saying once, "The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility. For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it."

Vincent died in 1660 in Paris and his body still lays there in an incorrupt state. He was canonized June 16, 1737, by Pope Clement XII.

Patron: charitable societies; horses; hospitals; leprosy; lost articles; prisoners; volunteers; spiritual help; Saint Vincent de Paul Societies; Vincentian Service Corps; Madagascar; diocese of Richmond, Virginia.

The History of Religious Life: St. Vincent de Paul: Apostle of Charity

Spiritual Insights from St. Vincent de Paul

“No matter what others say or do, even if the wicked succeed, do not be troubled: commit everything to God and put your trust in him.”

“Extend mercy towards others, so that there can be no one in need whom you meet without helping. For what hope is there for us if God should withdraw His mercy from us?”

"You have been chosen to be at the disposition of Divine Providence and, if you do not fully submit ot It, you will loose much."

"But do you know what it is to labor in charity? It is to labor in God, for God is charity, and it is to labor for God purely and entirely; it is to do so in the grace of God."

"Make it a practice to judge persons and things in the most favorable light at all times and under all circumstances."

"We must love our neighbor as being made in the image of God and as an object of His love."

"Free your mind from all that troubles you; God will take care of things. You will be unable to make haste in this (choice) without, so to speak, grieving the heart of God, because he sees that you do not honor him sufficiently with holy trust. Trust in him, I beg you, and you will have the fulfillment of what your heart desires."

"It is our duty to prefer the service of the poor to everything else and to offer such service as quickly as possible. If a needy person requires medicine or other help during prayer time, do whatever has to be done with peace of mind. Offer the deed to God as your prayer.... Charity is certainly greater than any rule. Moreover, all rules must lead to charity."

"Perfection consists in one thing alone, which is doing the will of God. For, according to Our Lord's words, it suffices for perfection to deny self, to take up the cross and to follow Him. Now who denies himself and takes up his cross and follows Christ better than he who seeks not to do his own will, but always that of God? Behold, now, how little is needed to become as Saint? Nothing more than to acquire the habit of willing, on every occasion, what God wills."

"He who allows himself to be ruled or guided by the lower and animal part of his nature, deserves to be called a beast rather than a man."

"Whoever wishes to make progress in perfection should use particular diligence in not allowing himself to be led away by his passions, which destroy with one hand the spiritual edifice which is rising by the labors of the other. But to succeed well in this, resistance should be begun while the passions are yet weak; for after they are thoroughly rooted and grown up, there is scarcely any remedy."

"We ought to deal kindly with all, and to manifest those qualities which spring naturally from a heart tender and full of Christian charity; such as affability, love and humility. These virtues serve wonderfully to gain the hearts of men, and to encourage them to embrace things that are more repugnant to nature."

"It ought to be considered a great misfortune, not only for individuals, but also for Houses and Congregations, to have everything in conformity with their wishes; to go on quietly, and to suffer nothing for the love of God. Yes, consider it certain that a person or a Congregation that does not suffer and is applauded by all the world is near a fall."

"Humility and charity are the two master-chords: one, the lowest; the other, the highest; all the others are dependent on them. Therefore it is necessary, above all, to maintain ourselves in these two virtues; for observe well that the preservation of the whole edifice depends on the foundation and the roof. "

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Abortion Business to Open in Tiller's Old Wichita Building

Wichita, KS -- The building that once housed the largest late-term abortion clinic outside Communist China has stood vacant for over three years ever since the death of its owner, George Tiller, in May, 2009. Since the clinic's closure, Wichita has remained abortion-free in spite of at least three credible attempts to re-establish an abortion business in a city that was once known as the Abortion Capital of the World.

Today it is being reported that the building was sold in August to the Trust Women Foundation, led by former Tiller employee Julie Burkhart, who plans to open a new abortion clinic there by January, 2013. The new business will supply first and second trimester abortions, according to a document obtained by Operation Rescue on August 29, 2012.

Trust Women will operate the clinic under the name South Wind Women's Center and will rely predominantly on out-of-state abortionists to fly into to Wichita to do abortions, creating a dangerous continuity of care issue of the kind that has elsewhere resulted in additional risks to women's health including maternal deaths.

"The abortion group may have bought Tiller's old building, but that is still a far cry from resuming abortions in Wichita. If Trust Women wants to provide abortions then Operation Rescue will make sure the business is neither profitable nor sustainable," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.

Read the Trust Women document obtained by Operation Rescue.

Judie Brown discusses Catholics' support for President Obama

Sts. Cosmas and Damian

Today, September 26, is the optional memorial of Sts. Cosmas and Damian.

Nothing is known of the lives of Saints Cosmas and Damian except that they suffered martyrdom in Syria during the persecution of Diocletian in the third century. A church erected on the site of their burial place was enlarged by the emperor Justinian. Devotion to the two saints spread rapidly in both East and West. A famous basilica was erected in their honor in Constantinople. Their names were placed in the canon of the Mass, probably in the sixth century.

Legend says that they were twin brothers born in Arabia, who became skilled doctors. Known as the "moneyless" and the "silverless", they never accepted money for their services, but offered them in the spirit of charity. When the persecution under Diocletian broke out, their very prominence rendered them marked objects of persecution. Being apprehended by order of Lysias, governor of Cilicia, they were arrested, tortured, and beheaded in the year 283.

St. Cosmas and St. Damian are patron saints of medicine, doctors and pharmacists. In fine art they are usually depicted in lined robes, hoods or cylindrical physicians’ hats, carrying surgeons’ bags and instruments. They are represented by a box of ointment and medical emblems.

St. Thérèse Couderc (Marie Victoire Couderc)

The saint of the day for September 26 is St. Thérèse Couderc (1805-1885), founder of the Society of Our Lady of the Retreat in the Cenacle (Sisters of the Cenacle).

In the early part of the 19th century, the Church in France was beginning to take on new life after the disarray of the Revolution. When Marie-Victoire Couderc  was a young woman, her father brought her home from school to participate with the rest of the family in a mission to be given at the little town of Sablieres, in the South of France, near the hamlet where she was born. One of the missionaries was an energetic and zealous diocesan priest name Stephen Terme.

During the mission Marie-Victoire revealed to Father Terme that she would like to enter religious life. Now Father Terme had recently founded a small group of sisters, called the Sisters of St. Regis, to serve villages without Christian schools, so he offered to take her right away to the novitiate of the Sisters of St. Regis. Victoire's father was not pleased with this idea. After all, she was needed at home to help her mother care for the new baby in the family. But after some time at home, he eventually relented, and Marie-Victoire became Sister Therese.

Fr. Terme saw the need for a hostel for women pilgrims. He had no money, but he did have a great deal of trust in God, and before long the hostel opened. Sister Therese was sent to La Louvesc, first as novice director, then as superior, and when La Louvesc was named the mother house of the small congregation, she was named the superior general.

There was a problem, however. Business was booming. The sisters took in everyone who came to the door, and they didn't always have beds for everyone, so they spread straw in the corridors. And not only was the place crowded, but it was also noisy and unruly. So Mother Therese went to Fr. Terme and convinced him to make an important change: from then on, only women who were willing to pray for several days would be able to stay there. 

Under the influence of Mother Therese, what was originally a hostel was taking the first step toward becoming a retreat house, where women could deepen their prayer and grow in the spiritual life. The process was completed when Father Terme introduced to the sisters the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. These became an important element in the spirituality of the Cenacle Sisters, as well as a way of helping the women who came to their houses to draw closer to God.

In due time, the ministry of retreats was separated from the ministry of teaching school, and the congregation which would be called the Cenacle was born. This spiritual ministry is continued today in many countries throughout the world by the Sisters of the Cenacle.  

Spirituality of St. Therese Couderc

Throughout her life, Therese Couderc grew in responding to the loving call of the Good God. Many of us are afraid that if we surrender ourselves to God, then God will ask of us the very thing we hate the most, and our lives will be miserable. St. Therese recognized, on the contrary, that this total self-giving -- like that of Jesus who gave himself for us (see Galatians 2:20) -- is the only way to be happy.

Oh! If people could understand beforehand the sweetness and the peace enjoyed by those who would hold nothing back from the Good God! How he communicates himself to the soul who sincerely seeks him and who knows how to surrender herself. Let them just experience it, and they will see that therein is found the true happiness which they are vainly seeking elsewhere.

(To Surrender Oneself, 1864)

Therese Couderc knew that the God to whom she was saying "yes" was good. But one day in 1866, when she was thanking God after Mass, she had a mystical vision of the goodness of all things. This is the way she described her experience:

I saw as in letters of gold this word Goodness, which I repeated for a long while with an indescribable sweetness. I saw it, I say, written on all creatures, animate and inanimate, rational or not, all bore this name of goodness. I saw it even on the chair I was using as a kneeler. I understood then that all that these creatures have of good and all the services and helps that we receive from each of them are a blessing that we owe to the goodness of our God, who has communicated to them something of his infinite goodness, so that we may meet it in everything and everywhere.

Both the goodness of God and of creation, and the call to surrender oneself, are characteristics elements in the spirituality of Saint Therese Couderc, and have been passed down to the Sisters of the Cenacle, who pray to live out of this vision of goodness and this call to give all to the Good God.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

October: Extremely busy month for Benedict XVI

September 25, 2012. ( The month of October will be quite busy for the Pope. It will include five major ceremonies, the Synod on the New Evangelization which will bring bishops from all over the world and the 'Year of Faith.'

The Pope's first public event will kick off on October 4th in the town of Loreto. The Pope will celebrate Mass, to mark 50 years since John XXIII traveled there to pray so that the Second Vatican Council would be successful.

Then on October 7th, the Pope will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square to welcome the Synod on the New Evangelization. During that Mass he will also name two new doctors of the Church: Hildegard of Bingen and Juan de Ávila.

The Synod will last throughout October. The Pope has invited special speakers like, main Orthodox leader, Patriarch Bartholomew I and Anglican Primate, Rowan Williams.

On October 11th, the Pope will inaugurate the Year of Faith with a Mass in St. Peter's Square. The event actually coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In fact several of those who took part in the Council in the 60's will be there to celebrate.

On Sunday 21, the Pope will canonize seven new saints: Giacomo Berthieu, Pedro Calungsod, Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Carmen Sallés, Marianne Cope, Catherine Tekakwitha and Anna Schäffer.

The following Sunday October 28, Benedict XVI will celebrate a Mass in St. Peter's Square to mark the end of the Bishop's Synod.

It will be a month of non-stop work for the 85 year old Pope.

An exhibit on the life and inner flame of St. Therese of Lisieux

September 25, 2012. ( About 7 million people who've visited the Notre Dame Cathedral have enjoyed this exhibit on St. Therese of Lisieux, the French saint who is also the youngest Doctor of the Catholic Church.

It wasn't easy to plan the exhibit. St. Therese, also known as “The Little Flower,” died at the age of 24, but she managed to leave quite a mark. To chart her life, organizers focused on her message, including her illnesses and suffering.

Commissioner, Thérèse of Lisieux: 'The Burn of Love'
“The exhibition has a message, which is one of joy. Therese was a very joyful woman. It carries a message of serenity and confidence in God. This is reflected in the images. A quiet and joyful surrender in Jesus.”

Vice President, Friends of Thérèse and of the Carmel of Lisieux
“She brings consolation to people. She brings graces, she brings conversions, she brings healing. And she brings healing to the people that suffer like she suffered. But she brings something else, which is more stronger, which is what we are trying to bring. She is a message not only of hope but of courage”.

Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris)
“We've been very surprised by the public reaction. We knew she had global impact, but we didn't know or even imagine that visitors from all over, had heard of her.”

What is ironic to many is that the short life of St. Therese of Lisieux wasn't that extraordinary. She didn't create an order, she didn't preach to thousands of people nor was she understood by those around her.

She did however, create the so called “little way,” which was a type of spiritual journey based on her trust and love for God.

The exhibit includes 36 panels that represent the different types of 'love' Therese experienced.

For example the love within her family. She was one of four sisters and was close to her father. Her mother died when he was still a child.

Then, the love she felt for the Virgin Mary, which also marked her life and her experiences.
Then there's also the saints who inspired her the most like, St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avila, Magdalene, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Cecilia and St. Joan of Arc, patron saint of France.

Commissioner, "Thérèse of Lisieux: 'The Burn of Love'
“Therese had an inner fire. She loves everything. She wants everything. Inside the church she wanted to be love. And this strong inner passion is what we used to title the exhibit: “The Burn of Love.”

Vice President, Friends of Thérèse and of the Carmel of Lisieux
“The aim of this exhibition is really to go to places where Therese hasn't gone: to prisons, to hospitals, to places where people suffer.”

The idea to have this exhibit, came from the 'Association of Friends of Therese and Carmel of Lisieux.' It will eventually be taken to hospitals and even prisons, and perhaps next year it will also make its way to Rio for the coming World Youth Day.

The Republican and Democratic Conventions: A commentary by Fr. Barron

St. Vincent Strambi

The saint of the day for September 25 is St. Vincent Strambi, Passionist priest and bishop.

Vincent Strambi was born in Civitavecchia, the port city of Rome on January 1, 1745, the only child of the pharmacist Giuseppe Strambi and his wife Eleonora who survived infancy.  He was a happy and athletic child who manifested a strong interest in spirituality. When he was fifteen, he received the clerical "tonsure" and entered the diocesan seminary at nearby Montefiascone. Two years later, he decided to continue his studies in Rome. The following year, he attended the Dominican house of studies in Viterbo to study theology.

Prior to his ordination he was named rector and professor within his seminary, Montefiascone. While on his ordination retreat, he met St. Paul of the Cross and immediately decided to become a Passionist. Paul of the Cross named him professor of theology, patristics and preaching.

Traveling throughout most of Italy, he endeavored to promote the Christian life among the people by preaching on the Passion. He wrote hagiographical books, including a Life of St. Paul of the Cross, and devotional books, the most significant of which was that on the Precious Blood. Being an outstanding 'spiritual director,' he directed, among others, Saint Gaspar del Bufalo and Blessed Anna Maria Taigi.

Appointed Bishop of Macerata and Tolentino, he showed himself to be a true shepherd of his flock and promoted the reform of the clergy and the people with apostolic zeal. In the political upheavals of the time, he was a fearless advocate of the freedom of the Church and chose exile in preference to an unlawful oath of loyalty to Napoleon. When he returned to his Diocese after exile, he once again manifested his deep pastoral concern and extraordinary charity for the poor.

Called by Pope Leo XII to become his personal advisor, he died in Rome on January 1, 1824. Pope Pius XII canonized him in 1950.


Jesus, only You are the best Shepherd of Your Church.
Support with grace those we are responsible
for the fate of Your fold,
so that following the example of St. Vincent Maria Strambi,
they devote all their powers and talents to service to the Church.
You live and reign for ages and ages.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Pope's Angelus: Leave pride aside and embrace humbleness

September 24, 2012. ( The Pope held Sunday's Angelus from Castel Gandolfo, where he reflected on the moment Jesus told his apostles, his death was near. But despite His words, the Pope explains how at first, his apostles didn't understand His message.

“What does all this say to us? It reminds us that God's logic is always “other” with respect to our own, as God Himself revealed through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah: 'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways'”

Another difference is that of pride. As Benedict XVI continued his catechesis on the Gospel of St. Mark, he explained that people have a desire to be first and to be great, but God, said the Pope, welcomes humbleness. 

“We, who are little, desire to appear great, to be the first, while God, who is truly great, does not fear to humble Himself and make Himself the last.”

The Pope then added that pride is deeply rooted in humans, making it something that requires constant vigilance and purification. Instead, the Pope called on Christians to focus on the Passion of Jesus, as a measure of true greatness.

Our Lady of Ransom

Today, in many parts of the world, the Catholic Church commemorates the feast of Our Lady of Ransom, also known as Our Lady of Mercy or Nuestra Señora de la Merced.

The Blessed Virgin appeared in 1218 in separate visions to St. Peter Nolasco, St. Raymund of Penafort, and James, king of Aragon, asking them to found a religious order dedicated to freeing Christian captives from the barbarous Saracens or Moors, who at that time held a great part of Spain. On August 10, 1218, King James established the royal, military and religious Order of our Lady of Ransom (first known as the Order of St. Eulalia, now known as the Mercedarian Order), with the members granted the privilege of wearing his own arms on their breast. Most of the members were knights, and while the clerics recited the divine office in the commanderies, they guarded the coasts and delivered prisoners. This pious work spread everywhere and produced heroes of charity who collected alms for the ransom of Christians, and often gave themselves up in exchange for Christian prisoners.

Patronage: Barcelona, Spain; people named Clemency, Mercedes, Mercedez, Merced or Mercy.

Prayer for the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom

"O God, who by means of the most glorious Mother of Thy Son was pleased to give new children to Thy Church for the deliverance of Christ's faithful from the power of the heathen; grant, we beseech Thee, that we who love and honor her as the foundress of so great a work may, by her merits and intercession, be ourselves delivered from all sin and from the bondage of the evil one. Through the same Christ, our Lord, Amen.

Prayer Source: Prayers from Various Holy Cards

Saturday, September 22, 2012

St. Thomas of Villanova

The saint of the day for September 22 is St. Thomas of Villanova.

Thomas García was the son of a miller who was born in the village of Villanova de los Infantes, Castille, Spain in 1486. He studied theology at the University of Alcalá, where he later taught arts, logic, and philosophy.

 Thomas was offered the chair of philosophy at the prestigious University of Salamaca, but declined it, but, instead, entered the Augustinian Order. Ordained to the priesthood in 1520, he celebrated his first Mass on Christmas day. Thomas served as prior of the Augustinian houses in Salamaca, Burgos, and Valladolid, and was later elected provincial of Andalusia and Castile. As provincial, he sent the first Augustinian missionaries to the New World to evangelize what is now modern Mexico.

Thomas' many gifts, particularly his scholarship, powerful oratory, skills as a mediator and administrator, and his love and compassion for others, brought him to the attention of Emperor Charles V, who appointed him court chaplain and later archbishop of Valencia in 1544.

The intellectual legacy of Thomas is reflected in his constant demand that all learning must be inspired by the desire for God. Thomas cerebrated learning as an activity that ought to make a difference in the community and in the world. He emphasized that justice and love are the guiding rules of virtue and learning. In Thomas' writings we find a rich synthesis of the thought of Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, especially his emphasis on the innate desire for God in all peoples, the image of God in the human person, the power of grace, and a theology of love.

Thomas found himself in an ecclesiastical world that was fraught with turmoil and struggles for power. His scathing attacks on his fellow bishops earned him the title of reformer, but they were motivated by a genuine desire that church leadership personify the teachings of the Beatitudes. Thomas challenged all within the Church to serve the least powerful, and discover love and wisdom in the service of others.

Thomas was known as the "father of the poor." He established many social programs for the poor, including boarding schools and high schools for poor young men. He provided dowries for young women, enabling them to be married with dignity. He also created a soup kitchen for the poor in the Bishop's palace, and provided shelter for the homeless.

In August of 1555, Thomas became ill with angina pectoris. As he lay dying, Thomas insisted that all his money be distributed to the poor. At the conclusion of Holy Mass in his room, shortly after receiving Jesus in the Eucharist, his last words were "In manus tuas, Domine..." ("Into Your hands, O Lord [I commend my spirit]").

Thomas was canonized on November 1, 1658.

Patronage: Genzano di Roma, Italy

Symbols: open purse; wallet; bishop's mitre; book; bag of coins.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Final volume of Pope's trilogy Jesus of Nazareth will appear for Christmas

The 3rd volume of Jesus of Nazareth, by Pope Benedict XVI, will be released at Christmas time, the Vatican has announced.

The Vatican has reached an agreement with an Italian publishing house, Rizzoli, to produce the book. The Herder company will produce a German-language edition. Agreements are now being negotiated with publishers for editions in other languages.

The 3rd and final volume of the Pope’s work will focus on the infancy of Christ as portrayed in the Gospel narratives. The work—for which a title has not yet been announced—completes the Pope’s project of providing a readable account of the life of Christ. The Pontiff had said that he saw the need for such a work as a counterweight to popular works that distort the identity of Jesus.

The 1st volume of Jesus of Nazareth, covering the period of Christ’s life from the Baptism through the Transfiguration, appeared in 2007. The 2nd volume, with the subtitle Holy Week, covering the events from the entry into Jerusalem to the Resurrection, was published early in 2011.

Latin Renaissance

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Trailer

I can't wait to see this!

St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist

Today is the feast of St. Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist.

St. Matthew was born at Capernaum. He was working as a tax collector when Jesus called him to be one of the twelve apostles. He wrote his gospel in Hebrew. His gospel, with its familiar references to the messianic prophecies, throws light on the continuity between the covenants. Moreover, his vocation is one of the most popular episodes in the life of Jesus, because of the personality of the one called the tax collector and the revelation of redeeming love that concludes and crowns the story. Matthew's position as tax collector equated with collaboration with the enemy by those from whom he collected taxes. Jesus' contemporaries were surprised to see Christ with a traitor, but Jesus explained that he had come "not to call the just, but sinners."

"Mark and Luke call Matthew by his Jewish name Levi and Mark says that he was "the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 2:14). He may have been the brother of James, who is also called the "the son of Alphaeus" (Mark 3:18). The name Matthew means "gift of Yaweh" and it is possible that he was given this name when he followed Jesus.

Because of his profession, Jews of strict observance would have nothing to do with him, for he fell under a religious ban. He was despised by the Pharisees who hated all publicans (tax collectors for the Romans). Therefore, his response to the call of Jesus to follow him is all the more remarkable, as he stood up at once, "leaving everything behind" (Luke 5: 28).

Matthew's Gospel is given pride of place in the canon of the New Testament, and was written to convince Jewish readers that their anticipated Messiah had come in the person of Jesus. He preached among the Jews for 15 years; his audiences may have included the Jewish enclave in Ethiopia, and places in the East.

In art, St. Matthew is represented by an angel holding a pen or an inkwell.

Saint Matthew is the patron of: accountants, bankers, bookkeepers, customs officers, financial officers, guards, money managers, Salerno, Italy, security forces, security guards, stockbrokers, tax collectors, the diocese of Trier, Germany.

Prayer to St. Matthew

Dear Levi, now known as Matthew, you were first a publican, a tax collector, and then a gatherer of souls for Christ after immediately following His call. Later you wrote wonderful accounts of your Jewish brethren of what Jesus, descendant of David, said and did as Teacher and Savior. Make all accountants imitate your example in giving careful and honest accounts. Amen.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

EWTN Announces New “Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation”

Bishops to Lead Novena Prayers on Network

EWTN Global Catholic Network has collaborated with one of the pre-eminent Marian theologians in the U.S. on the creation of a new “Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation.” Fr. Frederick Miller, Chair of the Department of Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., composed the meditations and prayers which invoke Mary’s intercession for our nation. The Novena will be prayed publicly beginning on the Feast of the Archangels, Saturday, September 29th through Oct. 7th, the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

During the Novena, leading bishops from across the nation will be celebrating the televised Mass from Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Irondale, Alabama at 8 a.m. ET each day. Each bishop will deliver a homily highlighting the importance of prayer in the fight for religious liberty and will lead the novena prayers for that day. Celebrants will include Most Rev. James D. Conley, Bishop-designate of Lincoln ( Neb.), who will open the novena; Kansas City (Kan.) Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann; Mobile (Ala.) Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi; Allentown (Pa.) Bishop John Barres;Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput; and Birmingham (Ala.) Bishop Robert J. Baker, who will close the novena.

“Catholics have always turned instinctively for help to the Mother of God in times of need,” says Fr. Miller, “And so, in 2012, we turn to Our Lady for help. Many of the values that have shaped our country from the beginning seem to be at risk. Pope Benedict XVI and the American Bishops have noted the erosion of religious freedom, the first value guaranteed by the Constitution. This novena challenges all of us to a deeper conversion to Christ and a more generous life of charity. The proximity of this novena to the 2012 Presidential Election also offers an opportunity to pray for all of our government officials and to seek Divine assistance in the election.”

The Novena is available in both English and Spanish and can be downloaded for free from EWTN’s Novena website at

“This is a critical time for our nation,” said Michael P. Warsaw, President and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN. “My hope is that as many people as possible will obtain a copy of this powerful Novena and join together in prayer. I also hope that people will spread the word about this important devotion to their friends and neighbors, prayer groups and parishes and in every way possible.”

Sebelius’ Hatch Act Violation One in a Series of Ethical Lapses

Washington, DC -- Yesterday White House Press Secretary Jay Carney indicated that there would be no serious punishment for Sebelius for violating the Hatch Act at an official appearance in February. He stated that "action has been taken by the Secretary and department to remedy what was the result of an inadvertent error based on extemporaneous remarks."

"We are appalled that Sebelius continues to engage in ethical misconduct without consequence. We have documented evidence that this latest escapade is one in a serious of ethical lapses committed by Sebelius that make her unfit for public office," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation.

Operation Rescue has released an article complete with links to documentation that Sebelius covered up past ethical breaches with manufactured excuses after she was caught.

Read about Sebelius' history of ethical misconduct

Harvard Professor: Coptic Papyrus does not prove that Jesus was married

September 20, 2012. ( Does this small papyrus give insight into whether Jesus was married? Experts agree, it does read in part “Jesus, said to wife.”
But despite these words, the professor who publicly presented the fragment to the world says it does not prove that Jesus was married.

Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard
“What this does not mean is that Jesus had a wife. It's not evidence for us historically that Jesus had a wife.”

Harvard professor, Karen King, publicly made the announcement during a Coptic Studies conference in Rome. She says the papyrus does reflect the discussions early Christians had about the life of  Jesus and what it meant to be a Christian.

The papyrus is about the size of a credit card. It includes eight lines in the front and six in the back. It's written in the Coptic language and experts believe it's from the 4th century, but was probably translated from a 2nd century text in Greek. But the questions remains, is it authentic?

Hollis Professor of Divinity, Harvard
“We spent several hours looking at this fragment and discussing it in every possible way, starting from the notion that it's a forgery. Trying to convince ourselves, trying to make arguments against that. The conclusion was that it is authentic and is probably 4th century.”

But still other experts are still skeptical. The owner of the fragment is an anonymous private collector who reached out to King so she could look into its contents. King agrees the fragment should undergo ink tests to verify if the chemicals match those that were used back in that time period.

Related Stories:


'Wife of Jesus' fragment no threat to Christianity

Does New Document Prove That Jesus Had a Wife?

Video: The Exclusive Interview with Justin Bieber's Mom

Pattie Mallette, Justin Bieber’s mom, became pregnant at age 17, and was encouraged to abort him. However, a pregnancy center was instrumental in her decision not to abort. Below is the video of the exclusive interview she gave to TODAY’s Kathie Lee Gifford.

St. Andrew Kim and St. Paul Chong and Companions

Today is the memorial of St. Andrew Kim Taegon, priest and martyr, St. Paul Chong, martyr, and companions. During the persecutions of 1839, 1846, 1866, and 1867, one hundred and three Christians in Korea gave their lives as martyrs. The martyrs included clergy, but were, for the most part, members of the laity. They consecrated the rich beginnings of the Church in Korea with their blood. Among them were Fr. Andrew Kim of Taegon, the first Korean priest and pastor, and Paul Chong of Hasang, a lay apostle.

St. Andrew Kim Taegon was born into a noble Korean family. He traveled to China to become a Catholic priest and he was ordained in Macao. When he returned to Korea, as the first native priest, he was arrested, tortured, and eventually beheaded.

Paul Chong Hasang was a seminarian, aged 45. As a layman, he was one of the great founders of the Catholic Church in Korea. He was persecuted before he could be ordained.


It is interesting to note that during the Korean War of 1950 - 53 many priests, nuns, and lay people were killed or expelled. In today's still divided Korea, the Church flourishes in the South, both in terms of numbers and intellectually, but it remains underground in the North.

"The Korean Church is unique because it was founded entirely by laypeople. This fledgling Church, so young and yet so strong in faith, withstood wave after wave of fierce persecution. Thus, in less than a century, it could boast of 10,000 martyrs. The death of these many martyrs became the leaven of the Church and led to today's splendid flowering of the Church in Korea. Even today their undying spirit sustains the Christians of the Church of Silence in the north of this tragically divided land."

~Pope John Paul II at the canonization of the Korean Martyrs, May 6, 1984


"We have received baptism, entrance into the Church, and the honor of being called Christians. Yet what good will this do us if we are Christians in name only and not in fact?"

~St. Andrew Kim Taegon

"I urge you to remain steadfast in faith, so that at last we will all reach heaven and there rejoice together."

~ Saint Andrew Kim Taegon, Final Exhortation


Almighty Father, You have created all nations and You are their salvation. In the land of Korea, Your call to the Catholic faith formed a people of adoption whose growth You nurtured by the blood of Saints Andrew, Paul, and their companions. Through their intercession, give us the strength to always remain faithful to Your commandments and to courageously and boldly proclaim the gospel message to all your people through our actions and our words. We ask this through in the precious name of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The HHS Mandate: Women Speak for Themselves

We are women who support the competing voice offered by Catholic institutions on matters of sex, marriage and family life.

Our Lady of La Salette

Today we celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of La Salette.

On Saturday, September 19, 1846, the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows about 3:00 in the afternoon, the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared on the mountain in La Salette, France to fifteen-year-old Melanie Calvat and eleven-year-old Maximin Giraud, two young shepherds. Mary appeared in a resplendent light as a beautiful woman dressed in a strange costume, seated on a stone, her face buried in her hands, crying. The beautiful lady then stood up and crossed her arms. She told the children not to be afraid but reassured them that she had great news to share. She gave them both a public message and asked them to make her message known to all her people. Our Lady called the townspeople to repent of their sins and to turn back to Christ.

 The Blessed Mother told them: "If my people do not wish to submit themselves, I am forced to let go of the hand of my Son. It is so heavy and weighs me down so much I can no longer keep hold of it." She lamented with tears those who do not keep Sunday holy and those who take the name of the Lord in vain. She went on to speak of the hope of divine mercy if the people amended their lives, and encouraged the children to say their prayers regularly. She told them:"You should say them well, at night and in the morning, even if you say only an Our Father and a Hail Mary when you can't do better. When you can do better, say more." Our Lady then shared a private secret with each of the children.

Blessed Melanie Calvat was instructed to found a new religious order, the Order of the Mother of God, which would associate under one single common rule more than one community.

Blessed Melanie was told by the Mother of God to make known her secret after the year 1858. In 1851, both secrets were written down and handed to Pope Pius IX. The apparition at La Salette was approved at this time. In 1888, the secret was published.

The Secret:

Three quarters of France will lose the Faith.
A Protestant nation in the North shall repent and return to God.
The Church shall grow once more.
The peace will be destroyed by a "monster" [Communism] at the end of the 19th Century or beginning of the 20th century.

The children did not share their secrets with one another and Maxim's secret has never been revealed.


“God our Father, by the precious blood of your Son, you reconciled the world to yourself and, as she stood beside his cross, made his Mother the Reconciler of sinners. By her kind intercession, may we obtain the forgiveness of our sins. 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.”

~ From the Divine Office of Our Lady of La Salette

St. Emily de Rodat

The saint of the day for September 19 is St. Emily de Rodat.

Emily was born in 1787 at Rodez, France.  She was educated at Villefranche, became a teacher at the age of 18 and, realizing that many of the children of the poor were not going to school because they could not afford to, she opened a school for them and taught without charge.

She also began to consider religious life, but after entering three or four congregations for a short time, she realized that she was not called to any of the existing orders.

Emily devoted all of her life to teaching the poor and gathered other young women to help her cope with the rapidly growing numbers of children in her school. These women also gave all their lives to teaching the children and became the nucleus of the Religious Congregation of the Holy Family of Villefranche.

The congregation was devoted to caring for the elderly, prisoners, and orphans, in addition to the schools for the poor. Some of the nuns were also contemplative and spent their time in prayer and adoration.

She died of cancer at Villefranche on September 19, 1852.  At the time of her death Saint Emily de Rodat had opened 38 charitable institutions.

Saint Emily was canonized in 1950 by Pope Pius XII.


"I was sixteen years of age when I learned to know Our Lord. This experience overwhelmed me and I wanted God and only God."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Inviting Scandal To Dinner

American Life League's latest video on Barack Obama and the Al Smith dinner:

Vatican to release documentary with previously unseen footage from Vatican II

September 18, 2012. ( This October marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. But few people truly understand the impact this council had on the Catholic Church. So to get the message out, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications will launch an HD documentary on October 11th.

It will include never before seen images, interviews and expert analysis. The producers are now offering the documentary to American and European television stations.

President, Pontifical Council for Social Communications
“We have 200 hours of footage from the preparatory activities and working sessions of the Council. Our intention is to make this rich repertoire of the Second Vatican Council available to all audiences.”

A team of fifty people helped produce the documentary which was made specifically for a TV format. People who were personally involved in the council are interviewed, including 14 cardinals who explain every document that came from the Council.

What doesn't make it to the documentary, will be  part of a DVD collection with up to 12 hours of extra footage and unpublished testimonies.

President, Pontifical Council for Social Communications
“In the film we hear the testimony of Cardinal Wojtyla, the then archbishop of Krakow. A speech he made in Latin during the Council. One of the first interviews was with Monsignor Capovilla, the private secretary of Pope John XXIII. He speaks about the feelings and ideas, which he saw during the time he worked with John XXIII. What the Pope had in his heart when he called the Second Vatican Council.”

The film brings together different audio and video clips from the Vatican's Secret Library, showing the Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica. The release will also coincide with the beginning of the Year of Faith.

Movie Review: Restless Heart

“Our hearts are restless, O God, until they rest in You.”
~ St. Augustine

Those who know me know that I am writing very few reviews these days due to the many hours of research I have been devoting to my Master’s thesis in theology.  However, when I was offered a chance to review the first full-length feature movie on St. Augustine, I could not refuse, as he has long held a special place in my heart.

This beautiful and inspiring film did not disappoint.  Restless Heart was even better than I imagined it would be and I had high expectations prior to watching it.

As the film begins, we are transported to the besieged city of Hippo in 430 A.D. The elderly Augustine recounts his life story to the captain of the guards, sharing the powerful influence his mother, St. Monica, has had upon his life. The film flashes back to Monica in childbirth. Augustine’s birth is a difficult one for her, even life-threatening, but she emphasizes to the midwife how important this child is to her – that she is willing to give birth even at the risk of her own life. She begins to pray and suddenly, there is movement, and Augustine is born. This is just the first of many prayers she will utter on his behalf.

 As a youth, Augustine is fed up with his father’s womanizing and is disdainful of his mother’s prayerfulness and long-suffering ways.  He desires a different kind of life for himself. Witnessing the persuasive rhetorical skills of the famous orator, Microbius, he yearns to study under him in order to become a lawyer.  The family is too poor to afford this, but with the financial assistance of a well-to-do friend of the family, Augustine is sent to Carthage to study under Microbius.  There, he successfully learns the tools of the trade, while growing increasingly ambitious, arrogant, and narcissistic.  His lustful, self-centered ways lead him down the road of depravity.  He begins a long-term affair with his female servant, who bears him a child. As an attorney, he has become so successful that he convinces a jury to acquit a guilty man of assaulting his wife, while failing to recognize the immorality of his actions. He eventually falls under the influence of Manichaeism, a Christian heresy, which appeals to him, as it obliterates the guilt associated with his sinful acts. (The Manicheans believed that evil existed independently of God, who was powerless to stop it.)

My favorite scene of the entire movie (The conversion scene is stunning and moving, but this scene stands out for me.) is one in which the now-Catholic Bishop Augustine publicly debates the bishop of the Donatists, a heretical sect, against whom he has struggled for many years.  It is in this scene that we are given a glimpse into the soul of Augustine and how drastically he has changed from the once perplexed and confused young man to a mature Christian who now fully embraces and eloquently defends the Truth.

Restless Heart was a joy and a pleasure to watch, as it is a soul-stirring story which conveys the beauty of truth in a commanding way via: Scripture passages, poignant lines from Augustine’s Confessions, meaningful dialogue, and exceptional acting.  In addition, it not only portrays the life of St. Augustine, but the film brings to life two other great saints –St. Monica and St. Ambrose – as well. Overall, this is a top quality film which I highly recommend. I predict that it will become a spiritual classic and be loved by audiences for many years to come.

Restless Heart will not be a theatrical release; it is, however, available for sponsored theatrical screenings across the country. Individuals, parishes, church groups and other organizations can work with The Maximus Group’s outreach team right now on starting the process of bringing the movie to a theater near them until early November. To learn the steps involved in scheduling and hosting a successful screening of this amazing film, contact The Maximus Group at 1-877-263-1263 or, or visit

Read the list of endorsements the movie has garnered thus far from prominent Catholics:

~ copyright Jean M. Heimann 2012

St. Joseph of Cupertino

Today, September 18, is the feast day of an endearing Franciscan saint, St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663).

Joseph’s father was a poor carpenter who died prior to his birth. His mother, Francesca Panara, was unable to pay the debts, so the creditors evicted her from her home. She gave birth to Joseph in a stable at Cupertino, Italy.

When Joseph was eight years old, he began receiving ecstatic visions that left him staring into space with his mouth wide open. Children made fun of him and called him "the gaper."  He was poorly educated and could scarcely read or write, which led others to think of him as stupid. In addition, his continual ecstasies made it difficult for him to concentrate on any task.  When he was seventeen, he decided he wanted to become a monk or friar.

Joseph applied for admission to the Friars Minor Conventuals, but was rejected due to his lack of education. He applied to the Capuchins and was accepted as a lay-brother.  However, he continually disrupted others in the community with his gift of levitation and with his sudden, unexpected ecstasies. Consequently, he was dismissed.

Finally, a Franciscan monastery near Cupertino accepted him as an Oblate.  He was given the responsibility of caring for the animals in the stable and excelled in his work. He prayed and fasted and performed all his tasks to perfection.  Ultimately, he was accepted into the community.  At the age of 22, he became a cleric.

He was initially rejected for the priesthood due to his limited learning skills. Although he could recall little of what he learned, Divine Providence made his priestly vocation become a reality. The examiner questioned him on the one subject he had mastered and he passed the exam. At the age of 25, he was ordained to the priesthood.

While Joseph possessed little worldly knowledge, the Holy Spirit had gifted him with a divine knowledge that enabled him to understand profound theological mysteries. A model of purity, humility, and obedience, he had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary and showed great charity toward the poor.

During the last thirty-five years of his life, Joseph was unable to celebrate Mass because of his incessant ecstasies which were easily triggered. However, he was later allowed to celebrate Mass in his private chapel.
Joseph died on September 18, 1663 and was canonized in 1767 by Pope Clement XIII.  He is the patron saint of air travelers, students, and test takers.

Joseph was very spiritually gifted, but it's difficult to imagine someone like this in a monastery today, although he certainly would be entertaining! Whenever I think of him, I chuckle, because the learned and wise around him considered him stupid. They were confused and baffled by his strange behavior, yet he abandoned himself to God and accepted with total surrender all that God asked of him and miracles were accomplished through him. He was the one in the community who performed the menial tasks, yet he was the one who was the most spiritually gifted. He never considered himself above the others, but always maintained his humility. The smaller and more insignificant we are, the closer we are to God and the more powerfully He can work through us.

~ copyright 2012 Jean M. Heimann

“God chose the foolish of the world to shame the wise, and God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong, and God chose the lowly and despised of the world, those who count for nothing, to reduce to nothing those who are something, so that no human being might boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1: 27-29)

This is one of my favorite films:

Monday, September 17, 2012

Chaput on Obama: “I Can’t Vote for Somebody Who is Pro-Abortion”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia laid out his views on the upcoming presidential election in stark terms in a new interview, making it clear that he can’t support President Barack Obama because of his pro-abortion views and record.

“I can only speak in terms of my own personal views. I certainly can’t vote for somebody who’s either pro-choice or pro-abortion,” he said.

In the interview with the National Catholic Reporter, the Catholic leader reiterated Church teachings about how “prudential judgments” compare with abortion in terms of what should take the higher consideration when Catholics head to the polls to vote.

“Jesus tells us very clearly that if we don’t help the poor, we’re going to go to hell,” Archbishop Chaput explained. “But Jesus didn’t say the government has to take care of them, or that we have to pay taxes to take care of them. Those are prudential judgments.”

“You can’t say that somebody’s not Christian because they want to limit taxation,” he continued. “To say that it’s somehow intrinsically evil like abortion doesn’t make any sense at all.”

Read the full story.

The best images from Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon

"Panis Angelicus" sung during Pope's Mass in Beirut

A soprano sang at the end of the Pope's Mass in Beirut's City Center Waterfront. Roughly 300,000 people attending Mass enjoyed the popular melody titled "Panis Angelicus," which is dedicated to the Eucharist. During the performance, many people were visibly moved.

Fr. Barron: More on the Hook-up Culture

St. Robert Bellarmine

Today, September 17, is the memorial of St. Robert Bellarmine, Italian cardinal and theologian. One of the great saints of the Jesuit order, St. Robert has also been declared a Doctor of the Church and the patron of catechists.

Robert Bellarmine was born on October 4, 1542 in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. His uncle was a cardinal who later became Pope Marcellus II. As a young man, Robert received his education from the Jesuit order, which had received written papal approval only two years before his birth.

In September of 1560, Robert entered the Jesuit order himself. He studied philosophy for three years in Rome, then taught humanities until 1567, when he began a study of theology that lasted until 1569. The final stage of his training emphasized the refutation of Protestant errors.

Robert received ordination to the priesthood in Belgium, where his sermons drew crowds of both Catholics and Protestants. In 1576, he returned to Italy and took up an academic position addressing theological controversies. The resulting work, his “Disputations,” became a classic of Catholic apologetics.

Near the end of the 1580s, the esteemed theologian became “Spiritual Father” to the Roman College. He served as a guide to St. Aloysius Gonzaga near the end of the young Jesuit's life, and helped produce the authoritative Latin text of the Bible called for by the recent Council of Trent.

Around the century's end Robert became an advisor to Pope Clement VIII. The Pope named him a cardinal in 1599, declaring him to be the most educated man in the Church. Robert played a part in a debate between Dominicans and Jesuits regarding grace, though the Pope later decided to appoint and consecrate him as the Archbishop of Capua.

The cardinal archbishop's three years in Capua stood out as an example of fidelity to the reforming spirit and decrees of the Council of Trent. He was considered as a possible Pope in two successive elections, but the thought of becoming Pope disturbed him and in the end he was never chosen.

In the early years of the 17th century, the cardinal took a public stand for the Church's freedom when it came under attack in Venice and England. He also attempted, though not successfully, to negotiate peace between the Vatican and his personal friend Galileo Galilei, over the scientist's insistence that not only the earth, but the entire universe, revolved around the sun.

Cardinal Bellarmine retired due to health problems in the summer of 1621. Two years before, he had set out his thoughts on the end of earthly life in a book titled “The Art of Dying Well.” In that work, the cardinal explained that preparing for death was life's most important business, since the state of one's soul at death would determine the person's eternal destiny.

St. Robert Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1931, and declared him to be a Doctor of the Church.


Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved. ~ Saint Robert Bellarmine

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

Today, September 15, is the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. On this feast, we commemorate the seven great sorrows which Mary lived in relation to Her Son, as they are recorded in the Gospels or through Tradition. Today we are invited to reflect on Mary's deep suffering:

1. At the prophecy of Simeon: "You yourself shall be pierced with a sword - so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare." (Luke, 2:35).
2. At the flight into Egypt; "Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt." (Matt. 2:13).
3. Having lost the Holy Child at Jerusalem; "You see that your father and I have been searching for you in sorrow." (Luke 2:48).
4. Meeting Jesus on his way to Calvary;
5. Standing at the foot of the Cross; "Near the cross of Jesus there stood His mother." (John, 19:25).
6. Jesus being taken from the Cross
7. At the burial of Christ.

Patron: people named Dolores, Dolais, Deloris, Dolorita, Maria Dolorosa, Pia, and Pieta.


O most holy Virgin, Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ: by the overwhelming grief you experienced when you witnessed the martyrdom, the crucifixion, and the death of your divine Son, look upon me with eyes of compassion, and awaken in my heart a tender commiseration for those sufferings, as well as a sincere detestation of my sins, in order that, being disengaged from all undue affection for the passing joys of this earth, I may sigh after the eternal Jerusalem, and that henceforward all my thoughts and all my actions may be directed towards this one most desirable object. Honor, glory, and love to our divine Lord Jesus, and to the holy and immaculate Mother of God. Amen.

~Saint Bonaventure

Litany of Our Lady of Sorrows

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pope to Middle Eastern Christians: "Do not be afraid. Respond with forgiveness and not revenge"

September 14, 2012. ( Among tight security the Pope came to St. Paul's Melkite Greek basilica of Harissa, the most important shrine to the Virgin Mary in the Middle East. There he signed an official document on the situation of Christians in the region.

Upon entering, the Pope blessed the participants and the Eastern patriarchs, with a cross in his hand instead of a staff.

He also greeted the president, Michel Suleiman, who is Christian, as well as several Muslim representatives following the meeting from the front row.

The Pope explained that the new document has been prepared from the reflections of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, which was held in Rome in October 2010. It was participated by 255 bishops and religious leaders from the area.

That is why the first thing the pope noted was the difficulties faced by Christians in the Middle East.

Benedict XVI
“The entire Church was able to hear the troubled cry and see the desperate faces of many men and women who experience grave human and material difficulties, who live amid powerful tensions in fear and uncertainty, who desire to follow Christ – the One who gives meaning to their existence – yet often find themselves prevented from doing so”.

The Pope said he knows the situation of experiencing discrimination and the social problems they encounter. But he asked them not to lose hope.

Benedict XVI
“It is here and now that we are called to celebrate the victory of love over hate, forgiveness over revenge, service over domination, humility over pride, and unity over division”.

The gathering included many elements of the Melkite Greek tradition, such as the Gospel reading in Arabic or the chanting from this Eastern tradition of the Catholic Church.

One of the most curious moments was the exchanging of gifts. The Melkite Greek Patriarch gave the Pope this beautiful set of silverware, an artisan item from Lebanon.

Ecclesia in Medio Oriente: Keys to understanding the new papal document

September 14, 2012. ( The Apostolic Exhortation “Ecclesia in Medio Oriente” was signed by Benedict XVI in Lebanon. It's meant to be a key document for Christians in the region. It addresses issues such as the situation of women, secularism and religious extremism.

The document is divided into three parts.

The first part examines how to live in coexistence while respecting and defending diverse cultures and religions. Benedict XVI goes on to defend respect for the diversity of rites and customs, a richness that comes from the early Christians. At the same time, he promotes dialogue with different faiths, discussing moral issues such as family, sexuality, bioethics and peace.

The pope chooses to tackle the topic of secularism in the document, saying it seeks to exclude all manifestations of religiosity and defends the “healthy secularism” that distinguishes between civil and religious authority, protecting the people from religious fundamentalism.

Benedict also called on the patriarchs of the Eastern Churches to attend the Christian emigrants from Africa, India, and other parts of Asia for their work are in the area.

In the second part, the Pope addresses people and provides recommendations to revitalize faith. He devotes considerable time to the family and makes a strong defense for the rights of women to be treated equally under the law. In this section, he also recommends that young children not to be afraid or ashamed to show that they are Christian. He then asked to be respectful of Jews and Muslims and not be seduced by materialism.

In the third part the Pope refers to the Word of God. He talks about the Middle East as a biblical place of encounters with God for pilgrims. He proposes to make an effort to publicize the Bible in media, celebrate a year of the Bible, and a special week on the Bible. He also request the freedom to go to the holy places. He makes calls to different churches in the Middle East to present an ecumenical effort to recognize the baptism, confession and anointing of the sick and facilitate the attention of Christians who come to the region.

Benedict XVI concludes the document encouraging Christians in the Middle East to be strong given the difficulties and praises the richness of diversity in worship that comes from the first generations of Christians.

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

Today is the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. This feast is also called the Triumph of the Cross, Elevation of the Cross, Holy Cross Day, Holy Rood Day, or Roodmas. 

The public veneration of the Cross of Christ originated in the fourth century, beginning with the miraculous discovery of the cross on September 14, 326, by Saint Helen, mother of Constantine, while she was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem -- the same day that two churches built at the site of Calvary by Constantine were dedicated.

In the Western Church, the feast came into prominence in the seventh century, after Emperor Heraclius of Constantinople recaptured the cross of Christ from the Persians and returned it to Jerusalem.

On this feast day, we honor the Holy Cross by which Christ redeemed the world. The Cross -- because of what it represents -- is the most potent and universal symbol of the Christian faith. We revere the instrument by which Jesus Christ, Our Lord, saved us. Once an object of scorn, the cross has become our “glory."

We, too, embrace the cross which He gives to us, because, as Christians, we are given the honor to share in His sufferings. If we stand up for Him in our beliefs, we can expect to be mocked, ridiculed, and persecuted.  But, we can also expect that Jesus Christ will be there with us, in the midst our sufferings, giving us the graces we need.

The Cross contains in itself the mystery of salvation, because, in the Cross, Love is lifted up. This is the lifting up of Love to the supreme point in the history of the world: in the Cross Love is lifted up and the Cross is at the same time lifted up through Love. And from the height of the Cross, love comes down to us. Yes: "The Cross is the most profound condescension of God to man . . . The Cross is like a touch of eternal love upon the most painful wounds of man’s existence" (Pope John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia,8)

Saint Quotes on Suffering and the Cross

"Life is only a dream: soon, we shall awaken. And what joy! The greater our sufferings, the more limitless our glory. Oh! do not let us waste the trial that Jesus sends."

~ St. Therese of Lisieux

"If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love."

~ St. Gemma Galgani

If God sends you many sufferings, it is a sign that He has great plans for you and certainly wants to make you a saint.

~ St. Ignatius Loyola

Suffering is like a kiss that Jesus hanging from the cross bestows on persons whom He loves in a special way. Because of this love He wants to associate them in the work of the redemption.

~ St. Bonaventure

"Let us strive to face suffering with Christian courage. Then all difficulties will vanish and pain itself will become transformed into joy."

~St. Teresa of Avila

"The cross is the greatest gift God could bestow on His Elect on earth. There is nothing so necessary, so beneficial, so sweet, or so glorious as to suffer something for Jesus. If you suffer as you ought, the cross will become a precious yoke that Jesus will carry with you."

~St. Louis de Montfort

"From here on earth, Love cannot live without suffering. It is through loving the cross that we discover His Heart, for divine Love never lives without suffering. I want my whole life to be inspired by love. He who loves, does all things easily, or, if he suffers, he suffers bravely. Why is suffering necessary? Because on earth, pure love cannot exist without suffering. O Jesus, Jesus, I no longer feel my cross when I think of yours!"

~ St. Bernadette Soubirous

"Jesus said to me; 'How many times would you have abandoned Me, my son, if I had not crucified you. Beneath the cross, one learns love, and I do not give this to everyone, but only to those souls who are dearest to Me."

~ St. Pio of Pietrelcina

"We are co-redeemers of the world. And souls are not redeemed without the cross."

~ St. Teresa of the Andes

Thursday, September 13, 2012

How to watch Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon live

September 13, 2012. ( On Friday September 14, Benedict XVI will begin his trip to Lebanon which is expected to be one of the most important of his pontificate. His plane will depart from Rome's Ciampino Airport and land four hours later in Beirut.

He will spend Friday afternoon in the Basilica of St. Paul in Harissa, where he will sign the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Medio Oriente' to provide guidance for Christians in the region.

On Saturday, the Pope will meet with the President and leaders of Muslim communities. He will then have lunch with the Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon and in the afternoon he will meet with young people.

The Sunday morning Mass held and delivered the Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East and pray the Angelus. In the afternoon, you will have an ecumenical meeting with religious leaders of Lebanon. And before returning to Rome, participate in a farewell ceremony at the airport in Beirut.

During these three intense days, ROME REPORTS will report in English and Spanish all the latest updates on the trip through its website and profiles on Facebook and Twitter.

The official website of the visit of Benedict XVI to Lebanon will provide all the details of meetings and different celebrations, which can also be followed through their smartphone application. You can also follow the journey live from the Vatican news portal on that has retransmission from the different media sources operated by the Vatican Television Center.