Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Catholic Charities works to assess, relieve damage from Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy destruction of homes on the New Jersey shoreline

Washington D.C., Oct 31, 2012 / 05:17 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Catholic Charities agencies along the East Coast are working to assess the damage left by Hurricane Sandy and respond to the needs of those left in its wake.

Kevin Hickey, executive director at Catholic Charities of Camden, N.J., told CNA on Oct. 31 that while there is significant flooding and damage throughout the six southern counties that make up the diocese, “the main focus is the coast.”

“The devastation there is enormous,” he said, especially on the barrier islands of Ocean City and Atlantic City, which took a direct hit from the storm. Because access to the two sites is restricted, emergency workers cannot get there and do not know when they will be able to do so.

Hickey added that Catholic Charities has an office in Atlantic City, but said that he is “fairly confident that is underwater.”

New Jersey is one of several states that were devastated by Hurricane Sandy, a massive storm that made landfall in the U.S. on Oct. 29 and proceeded to sweep through the northeast, killing dozens and leaving some 6 million people without power.

Read the full story.

Pope's general audience: Faith is personal, but it must also be lived in public and in the Church

October 31, 2012. ( Despite the light rain, Wednesday's general audience was held in St. Peter's Square. Roughly 10,000 people held on to their umbrellas, as the Pope continued his catechesis on the Year of Faith. He explained that faith is indeed something personal. But to live it fully and intensely, it must be shared and experienced within a community.

“We have seen that faith is something intensely personal: a gift of God which transforms and enriches our life.  At the same time, the gift of faith is given in and through the community of the Church.”

It's within a community that faith can be nourished, especially when celebrating the Sacraments. In essence, the Pope explained that one's faith when lived in the Church, becomes part of the Christian family.

“In this sense, the Church is our Mother. As Saint Cyprian says, “No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.”

Towards the end, the Pope also prayed for those affected by Hurricane Sandy. He said his thoughts and prayers are with the victims and also with those who will take part in the rebuilding process.

“Conscious of the devastation caused by the hurricane which recently struck the East Coast of the United States of America, I offer my prayers for the victims and express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding.”

Among the thousands of people in St. Peter's Square, this group of German musicians, greeted the Pope with a melody. Seated front and center, both the crowd and the Pope, seemed to enjoy the group's performance.

Cardinal Arinze turns 80. Number of cardinal electors drops to 115

( Many describe Francis Arinze as one of the most charismatic cardinals in the Church. He was a close collaborator to John Paul II and on November 1st, the Nigerian cardinal will turn 80.

Many describe Francis Arinze as one of the most charismatic cardinals in the Church. He was a close collaborator to John Paul II and on November 1st, the Nigerian cardinal will turn 80.

Interestingly, the cardinal was baptized by one of the first blesseds of Nigeria, priest Cipriano Michele Tansi.  Arinze is also part of the Church's history. He became a bishop at the age of 32 and took part in the Second Vatican Council.

“All diocesan bishops could participate in the council. Back then auxiliary bishops were not required to go, but they were invited. I didn't think twice. I accepted the invitation immediately.”

Back in 1984, he was appointed by John Paul II to lead the dialogue between the Church and other religions. He was also commissioned as the prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship, which is in charge of the liturgy of Catholic ceremonies.

Once he turns 80, he loses his right to vote in an eventual conclave. So, on his birthday, the number of cardinal electors drops to 115.

Pope prays Vespers in Sistine Chapel to mark 500th anniversary of its inauguration

October 31, 2012. ( It was 500 years ago, when the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was publicly inaugurated. To mark the occasion, Benedict XVI prayed the Vespers in the Chapel, beneath Michelangelo's impressive frescoes.

Pope Benedict XVI: 5th oldest Pope in history

( Benedict XVI is 85 years old. To be even more exact, on Tuesday October 30th, he turns 85.54.  When it comes to age, he ranks fifth among the oldest Popes in history. The ranking is based on statistics listed by expert Anura Guruge. The list itself includes Popes who were elected after the year 1400.  

Seventy one days from now,  so January 9th, the Pope will rank fourth, when he surpasses Pope Pius IX.

At that point, the three Popes who will be ahead of him are Clement X, who lived until the age of 86. He's followed by Clement XII, who lived 87 years. The number one ranking, of the eldest Pope in history is held by Leo XIII, who served until the age of 93.

The Sistine Chapel turns 500!


( Five hundred years ago, the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was inaugurated by Pope Julius II. It was a day before the Feast Day of All Saints, that Michelangelo's masterpiece was shown to the public. The renowned artist spent four years working on the ceiling, which is about 65 feet high. To mark the occasion, Benedict XVI will celebrate the anniversary on October 31st, by praying the Vespers inside the Sistine Chapel. The striking ceiling depicts scenes from the Bible, like Creation and Original sin. The Pope will honor all the saints of the Church, including those who have not been formally canonized. It's truly a priceless work of art. Michelangelo's masterpiece covers an area of roughly 11,840 feet.

All Hallow’s Eve

Today is the Eve of the Feast of All Hallows, that is, All Saints Day. Pope Sixtus IV in 1484 established November 1, the feast of All Saints, as a holy day of obligation and gave it both a vigil (known today as "All Hallows' Eve" or "Hallowe'en") and an eight-day period or octave to celebrate the feast. By 1955, the octave of All Saints was removed.

All Hallows' Eve

Halloween or All Hallows' Eve is not a liturgical feast on the Catholic calendar, but the celebration has deep ties to the Liturgical Year. These three consecutive days — Halloween, All Saints Day and All Souls Day — illustrate the Communion of Saints. The Church Militant (those on earth, striving to get to heaven) pray for the Church Suffering (those souls in Purgatory) especially on All Souls Day and the month of November. We also rejoice and honor the Church Triumphant (the saints, canonized and uncanonized) in heaven. We also ask the Saints to intercede for us, and for the souls in Purgatory.

Since Vatican II, some liturgical observances have been altered, one example being "fast before the feast" is no longer required. Originally, the days preceding great solemnities, like Christmas and All Saints Day, had a penitential nature, requiring abstinence from meat and fasting and prayer. Although not required by the Church, it is a good practice to prepare spiritually before great feast days.

In England, saints or holy people are called "hallowed," hence the name "All Hallow's Day." The evening, or "e'en" before the feast became popularly known as "All Hallows' Eve" or even shorter, "Hallowe'en."

Since the night before All Saints Day, "All Hallows Eve" (now known as Hallowe'en), was the vigil and required fasting, many recipes and traditions have come down for this evening, such as pancakes, boxty bread and boxty pancakes, barmbrack (Irish fruit bread with hidden charms), colcannon (combination of cabbage and boiled potatoes). This was also known as "Nutcrack Night" in England, where the family gathered around the hearth to enjoy cider and nuts and apples.

Halloween is the preparation and combination of the two upcoming feasts. Although the demonic and witchcraft have no place for a Catholic celebration, some macabre can be incorporated into Halloween. It is good to dwell on our impending death (yes, everyone dies at one point), the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and the Sacrament of the Sick. And tied in with this theme is the saints, canonized and non-canonized. What did they do in their lives that they were able to reach heaven? How can we imitate them? How can we, like these saints, prepare our souls for death at any moment?

Related Posts: 

Resources on Halloween and All Saints/Souls Day

The 2012 Saint-O-Lantern Link Up!

Preparing for All Saints Day

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Prayer Request for Mommy Life blogger Barbara Curtis

I just learned that Barbara Curtis, Catholic pro-life blogger at Mommy Life and mother of 12 (four of whom have Down Syndrome), has suffered a stroke.  Her condition is very serious and she is not expected to regain consciousness. Please pray for her and for her family. Go here for information on a way to help the family.

Related Posts: 

Mark Shea - Prayer Request

St Alphonsus Rodriguez

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blessed Maria Restituta: Hero of the Holocaust

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saint Quote:

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

~ Blessed Maria's last recorded words

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Pope prays for the victims of Hurricane Sandy

Via the Telegraph:

Pope Benedict XVI has said a prayer for the victims of Hurricane Sandy which has killed at least 21 people in the Caribbean.

Addressing pilgrims in St. Peter's Square Pope Benedict said:

"I wish to assure those who have been affected by this natural disaster of my closeness and my thoughts
"I invite everyone to pray in solidarity, to alleviate the pain of the families of the victims and to offer support to the thousands affected by the damage."

His comments were met with cheers and chants of "long live the Pope" from the hundreds of people who had gathered in the square to hear his weekly address.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

St. Frumentius of Ethiopia

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

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

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

The Latins celebrate the feast of Frumentius on October 27, the Greeks on November 30, and the Copts on December 18.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Abortion - is it safe?

Three months ago, 24-year-old Tonya Reaves stepped into a Planned Parenthood clinic in Chicago for an abortion, never realizing her life was in danger. It was. Planned Parenthood's abortionist perforated Tonya's uterus, and she bled to death hours later.
When investigators called the Chicago clinic, posing as a woman with concerns about the health risks of abortion, Planned Parenthood lied to the would-be abortion client and denied anyone had been hurt. The investigative team called 6 other Planned Parenthood clinics where recent medical emergencies, including hemorrhaging after abortion, had been documented.

Every clinic lied about the risk.

Watch the the gripping undercover video now:

The investigators called Planned Parenthood clinics with recent cases of medical emergencies and botched abortions in 7 different states asking if Planned Parenthood's abortion practice was safe and if women had ever been hurt at these clinics. Not a single Planned Parenthood abortion clinic even acknowledged the recent injuries of women.

Archbishop Chaput on the politics of abortion

Blessed Damian of Fulcheri

Today is the feast of Blessed Damian of Fulcheri, a Dominican priest.

Damian was born at the end of the fourteenth century to wealthy, Italian nobility. As a baby he was kidnapped by a man who was mentally ill. His parents prayed to Our Lady, and searchers were led to the baby by a miraculous light. He was returned to his family unharmed.

Damian entered the Dominican order at Genoa and became a diligent student and later, a dedicated priest. He was well-known for his forceful preaching and hundreds of people were converted during his missions in Italy.

Damian died in Modena, Italy in 1484, and immediately became the object of much pious speculation, because of the miracles worked at his tomb. He was beatified in 1848 by Pope Pius IX (cultus confirmed).

God of truth, for the salvation of the faithful you endowed Blessed Damian with wondrous virtues and powers of speech. Through his prayers may we hear your word with an open heart and hold fast to it with patience. 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. - General Calendar of the Order of Preachers

Thursday, October 25, 2012

St. Luigi Gaunella

Forty Martyrs of England and Wales

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

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

The forty martyrs are:

Augustine Webster
John Houghton
Robert Lawrence

Richard Reynolds

John Stone

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

Alban Roe
Ambrose Edward Barlow
John Roberts
Friars Observant
John Jones

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

John Rigby
Philip Howard
Richard Gwyn
Swithun Wells

Lay women
Anne Line
Margaret Clitherow
Margaret Ward

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

St. Anthony Mary Claret

Today is the optional memorial of St. Anthony Mary Claret -- a favorite saint that my husband introduced me to several years ago when he gave a teaching on this amazing man of God. I don't think I have ever heard of any saint who was filled with so much zeal for his apostolate. He was a monk and a mystic who exerted an unusual amount of influence over the laity by obeying the call of God.

Born on Christmas eve, 1807, in the village of Sallent, in Catalonia, Spain, Anthony was a very pious child. When he was eleven years old, the bishop visited his school and asked him what he wanted to be when he grew up. Without the least bit of hesitation, he replied: "A priest."

As a young adult, Anthony Claret excelled as a maker of cloth as a weaver in his father's textile factory. He then studied for the priesthood, desiring to be a Jesuit. Ill health prevented him from entering the Order, so he served as a diocesan priest. He was ordained at age 27 and busied himself preaching in rural areas, organizing conferences for clergy, and writing. Zeal for the salvation of souls spurred him on to preach an estimated 25,000 sermons, write 144 books, and preach countless missions.

During his mission work, he accepted no money and walked everywhere -- from town to town through rugged terrain. He had only one pair of shoes, one set of clothes and a few books. He neither ate meat nor drank wine, and slept only 3 - 5 hours per night.

After one remarkable mission, Father Claret's bishop wrote: "this town has never seen the likes of this. Enemies are at peace. Scandals have been ended. Broken marriages are repaired. Restitutions have been made. No one can withstand the fire of his preaching, the kindness of his manner. Everyone, even the proudest, fall at his feet."

The secret of his success was LOVE. He summed it up this way: "Love is the most necessary of all virtues. Love in the person who preaches the word of God is like fire in a musket. If a person were to throw a bullet with his hands, he would hardly make a dent in anything; but if the person takes the same bullet and ignites some gunpowder behind it, it can kill. It is much the same with the word of God. If it is spoken by someone who is filled with the fire of charity- the fire of love of God and neighbor- it will work wonders." (Autobiography #438-439).

In 1848, he established a publishing house at Barcelona and in the following year, founded the Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, or the "Claretians". Shortly thereafter, he was appointed Archbishop of Santiago in Cuba, where he worked for six years to organize and evangelize his diocese. During that time, he visited every parish in his diocese four times (Some of these had not seen a bishop in 60 years) and conducted missions in each one, plus confirmed those who had not been (300,000), and rectified the invalid marriages (9,000). He also founded another new congregation, the Sisters of Mary Immaculate, dedicated to the instruction of the young.

Miracles surrounded his work, and he possessed the gift of prophecy and the reading of hearts. He often saw Our Lord and Our Lady (to whom he was especially devoted), receiving from them instruction, encouragement, and prophecies. At the request of our Blessed Mother, he spread devotion to the Holy Rosary and was considered to be a latter day St. Dominic.

During a single day's visit to the city, he would preach to the local clergy, to several convents of nuns, and (in the evening) to the laity, besides hearing confessions much of the day. For his miracles and preaching, the Spaniards called him another St. Vincent Ferrer.

Though he avoided politics, both political parties considered him to be Spain's most influential man. He was so hated by the revolutionaries that they tried to kill him no less than 14 times and were still searching for him as he lay dying, an old man in exile.

St. Anthony Mary Claret died in the Cistercian monastery at Fontfroide in southern France on October 24, 1870 and was canonized in 1950.

Into his 35 years as a priest he packed 100 years of work.

Patronage: Catholic Press, Claretians, Missionary Sons of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, weavers

Favorite Quote:

“A son of the Immaculate Heart of Mary is a man who is consumed with love and who sets on fire everything in his path. He is a man who unceasingly expends himself to light the fire of divine love in the world. Nothing stops him; he places his joy in privations, he undertakes all works for the glory of God; he embraces willingly every sacrifice, he is happy in the midst of calumnies; he exults in torments. He can think of but one thing — working, suffering, and seeking at all times the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls, to imitate Our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

ObamaSham: Obama and the Mammogram Lie

In addition to the Live Action Team investigators, over a thousand people called Planned Parenthood last week and got a sleu of different responses -- ultimately, the truth became evident, that not a single Planned Parenthood in America does mammograms.  Planned Parenthood is the world's largest abortion provider.

St. John of Capistrano

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

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

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

Patron: chaplains; jurists; judges; military chaplains.

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

Pope on Marianne Cope: She exemplifies the best tradition of Catholic nursing sisters

Marianne Cope was one of the three women who were canonized by Benedict XVI during a Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square.


I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in eighteen thirty-eight in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in eighteen sixty-two she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a
hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world.

There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.

Pope's Homily on Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American Saint

During the canonization ceremony, the Pope entrusted Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint, with the renewal of faith in North America.

“Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in sixteen fifty-six to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal.

There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.

Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are.

Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we Entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!”

Memorial Of Blessed John Paul II

The Church has designated October 22 for the commemoration of Blessed John Paul II

He was born Karol Josef Wojtyla in Wadowice, a city 50 kilometers from Cracow, on May 18, 1920, to Karol Wojtyla and Emilia Kaczorowska. He was baptized on June 20, 1920, in the parish church of his town. He attended elementary and high school in Marcin Wadowita in Wadowice, after which, Karol enrolled in Krakow’s Jagiellonian University in 1938 and in a school for drama until 1939 when the university closed. The young Karol had to work in a quarry for four years.

In his desire to answer his call to the priestly life, he began courses in the clandestine seminary of Cracow in 1942. The seminary then was being run by Cardinal Adam Stefan Sapieha, the Archbishop of Cracow. While studying for the priesthood, Karol Wojtyla was one of the pioneers of the “Rhapsodic Theatre,” also an underground organization. The major seminary of Cracow re-opened after the Second World War and Karol continued his studies in that institution and in the faculty of theology of the Jagiellonian University.

He was ordained to the priesthood on November 1, 1946, in Cracow. He sent by the Archbishop immediately after his ordination to Rome where he earned a doctorate in theology. After earning the degree, Fr. Karol was given a short assignment as assistant pastor in a rural parish followed by very fruitful chaplaincy for university students. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and began teaching at Poland’s University of Lublin. In 1958, he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of Krakow. He was chosen to be a participant in all four sessions of Vatican II and contributed especially to its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. In 1964, he was appointed Archbishop of Krakow and Paul VI named him a Cardinal three years after.

He was elected to the papacy after Pope John Paul I in September 28, 1978, and he took the name of his short-lived, immediate predecessor. He was the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years ago. During his Papacy, he wrote a total of 14 encyclicals, 13 apostolic exhortations, 11 apostolic constitutions and 42 apostolic letters. He presided at 138 beatification ceremonies at which 1,310 were proclaimed Blessed, and 48 canonization ceremonies for 469 Saints. He started initiatives that created a great impact on the church worldwide – World Youth Days. Annual Day of Prayer for World Peace in Assisi, and World Meeting of families. Pope Benedict XVI beatified John Paul II on May 1, 2011, Divine Mercy Sunday.

May Blessed John Paul II be our intercessor before God. May his life be an inspiration to us who are struggling to be holy in our own ways. Like Blessed John Paul II, may we open our doors to Christ who is the source of all good. May Christ rule over families and our society.

John Paul II:  My Favorite Quotes

Pope John Paul II's Prayer for Life

Pope John Paul II Election Prayer

Blessed John Paul II on America

“America you are beautiful . . . and blessed . . . . The ultimate test of your greatness is the way you treat every human being, but especially the weakest and most defenseless. If you want equal justice for all and true freedom and lasting peace, then America, defend life.”
~ Blessed John Paul II


O God, who are rich in mercy
and who willed that the blessed John Paul the Second
should preside as Pope over your universal Church,
grant, we pray, that instructed by his teaching,
we may open our hearts to the saving grace of Christ,
the sole Redeemer of mankind.
Who lives and reigns.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

St. Paul of the Cross

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

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

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

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

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

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

Patron: Passionist order.

Spiritual Helps from St. Paul of the Cross:

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

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

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

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

~ from a letter by Saint Paul of the Cross

Friday, October 19, 2012

St. Isaac Jogues, St. John de Brébeuf and Companions

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

French Jesuits were the first missionaries to go to Canada and North America after J. Cartier discovered Canada in 1534. Their mission region extended from Nova Scotia to Maryland. Isaac Jogues, John de Brebeuf, Gabriel Lalemant, Noel Chabanel, Charles Garnier, Anthony Daniel, Rene Goupil and John de Lalande (the first six Jesuits, the last two laymen) preached the gospel to the Iroquois and Huron Indians, and after being tortured, they were martyred in the area of what is now Auriesville, New York. The martyrdoms took place between 1642 and 1649. Ten years after the martyrdom of St. Isaac Jogues, Kateri Tekakwitha was born in the same village in which he died. These martyrs are co-patrons of Canada.

The missionaries arrived in Canada less than a century after its discovery by Cartier in 1534, in the hope of converting the Indians and setting up "New France." Their opponents were often the English and Dutch colonists. When Isaac Jogues returned to Paris after his first capture and torture, he said to his superior: "Yes, Father, I want whatever our Lord wants, even if it costs a thousand lives." He had written in his mission report: "These tortures are very great, but God is still greater, and immense."

In the Office of Readings we have an excerpt from the mission journal of St. John de Brébeuf, who had been a student of the great Jesuit spiritual writer, Louis Lallemant. He wrote:

For two days now I have experienced a great desire to be a martyr and to endure all the torments the martyrs suffered.... I vow to you, Jesus my Savior, that as far as I have the strength I will never fail to accept the grace of martyrdom, if some day you in your infinite mercy should offer it to me, your most unworthy servant.... On receiving the blow of death, I shall accept it from your hands with the fullest delight and joy of spirit.... My God, it grieves me greatly that you are not known, that in this savage wilderness all have not been converted to you, that sin has not been driven from it.

~Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi

Patron: Americas; Canada.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Card. Dolan talks about how to bring the New Evangelization to the U.S.

October 18, 2012. ( New York Cardinal, Timothy Dolan talked to the press about how the Synod  is going so far.  

As usual, his dynamic personality and humor came through as he talked about different movements within the Church, ways to deliver a  good Homily and also about how the New Evangelization can be a success.

Archbishop of New York (USA)
“Rather than fractioning, perhaps what best we can do is emphasize, we say the Universal call to Holiness for the Second Vatican Council, to emphasize the universal call to evangelization. That is a charge to which no one can escape, if one takes their discipleship and the Catholic faith seriously.”

One of the main points of the new evangelization is to put God back in people's lives and in society. The Cardinal notes that religion in the United States is deeply rooted.

Archbishop of New York
“Society itself still may have this transcendental directive that we are not ready to give it up on. We are realistic and it's threatened but we are not ready to give up on it.”

When it comes to specifics, Cardinal Dolan proposes the Sacrament of Confession and that priests give direct homilies, since for many people Sunday Mass is the only time they hear about God.

Archbishop of New York
“They need to be short, the need to be on point.  They need to be delivered as if one believes in it,  not as if one is reading it. And you'll heard some very good things.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan was named Archbishop of New York in 2009.  A year later, he was named president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Fr. Barron: Can Science Disprove God's Existence?

St. Luke the Evangelist

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

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

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

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

A Few of My Favorite Scripture Passages from Luke: 

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saint Ignatius of Antioch

Today, October. 17, the Roman Catholic Church remembers the early Church Father, bishop, and martyr Saint Ignatius of Antioch, whose writings attest to the sacramental and hierarchical nature of the Church from its earliest days. Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate his memory on Dec. 20.

In a 2007 general audience on St. Ignatius of Antioch, Pope Benedict XVI observed that “no Church Father has expressed the longing for union with Christ and for life in him with the intensity of Ignatius.” In his letters, the Pope said, “one feels the freshness of the faith of the generation which had still known the Apostles. In these letters, the ardent love of a saint can also be felt.”

Born in Syria in the middle of the first century A.D., Ignatius is said to have been personally instructed – along with another future martyr, Saint Polycarp – by the Apostle Saint John. When Ignatius became the Bishop of Antioch around the year 70, he assumed leadership of a local church that was, according to tradition, first led by Saint Peter before his move to Rome.

Although St. Peter transmitted his Papal primacy to the bishops of Rome rather than Antioch, the city played an important role in the life of the early Church. Located in present-day Turkey, it was a chief city of the Roman Empire, and was also the location where the believers in Jesus' teachings and his resurrection were first called “Christians.”

Ignatius led the Christians of Antioch during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian, the first of the emperors to proclaim his divinity by adopting the title “Lord and God.” Subjects who would not give worship to the emperor under this title could be punished with death. As the leader of a major Catholic diocese during this period, Ignatius showed courage and worked to inspire it in others.

After Domitian's murder in the year 96, his successor Nerva reigned only briefly, and was soon followed by the Emperor Trajan. Under his rule, Christians were once again liable to death for denying the pagan state religion and refusing to participate in its rites. It was during his reign that Ignatius was convicted for his Christian testimony and sent from Syria to Rome to be put to death.

Escorted by a team of military guards, Ignatius nonetheless managed to compose seven letters: six to various local churches throughout the empire (including the Church of Rome), and one to his fellow bishop Polycarp who would give his own life for Christ several decades later.

Ignatius' letters passionately stressed the importance of Church unity, the dangers of heresy, and the surpassing importance of the Eucharist as the “medicine of immortality.” These writings contain the first surviving written description of the Church as “Catholic,” from the Greek word indicating both universality and fullness.
One of the most striking features of Ignatius' letters, is his enthusiastic embrace of martyrdom as a means to union with God and eternal life. “All the pleasures of the world, and all the kingdoms of this earth, shall profit me nothing,” he wrote to the Church of Rome. “It is better for me to die in behalf of Jesus Christ, than to reign over all the ends of the earth.”

“Now I begin to be a disciple,” the bishop declared. “Let fire and the cross; let the crowds of wild beasts; let tearings, breakings, and dislocations of bones; let cutting off of members; let shatterings of the whole body; and let all the dreadful torments of the devil come upon me: only let me attain to Jesus Christ.”

St. Ignatius of Antioch bore witness to Christ publicly for the last time in Rome's Flavian Amphitheater, where he was mauled to death by lions. “I am the wheat of the Lord,” he had declared, before facing them. “I must be ground by the teeth of these beasts to be made the pure bread of Christ.” His memory was honored, and his bones venerated, soon after his death around the year 107.

Patron: Church in eastern Mediterranean; Church in North Africa; throat diseases.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

St. Margret Mary Alacoque

The saint of the day for October 16 is St. Margret Mary Alacoque.

St. Margaret Mary Biography

The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart

My Favorite Quotes from St. Margaret Mary:

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

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

"Love keeps Him there [in the Blessed Sacrament] as a victim completely and perpetually delivered over to sacrifice for the glory of the Father and for our salvation. Unite yourself with Him, then, in all that you do. Refer everything to His glory. Set up your abode in this loving Heart of Jesus and you will there find lasting peace and the strength both to bring to fruition all the good desires He inspires in you, and to avoid every deliberate fault. Place in this Heart all your sufferings and difficulties. Everything that comes from the Sacred Heart is sweet. He changes everything into love."

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

Monday, October 15, 2012

St. Teresa of Avila

Today, October 15, is the feast of St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), who was born in Avila and died in Alba, Spain. When only a child of seven, she ran away from home in the hope of being martyred by the Moors; in this way, she said she could come to see God. At the age of eighteen she joined the Carmelite Order and chose Christ as her heavenly Spouse. With the help of St. John of the Cross she reformed most of the Carmelite convents and founded new ones. She reached the highest degree of prayer and through prayer obtained such knowledge of divine things that in 1970 Pope Paul VI named her the first woman Doctor of the Church.

St. Teresa of Avila: Favorite Quotes and Prayers

Prayer for a Busy Life by St. Teresa of Avila

Brief Biography of St. Teresa of Avila

Detailed Biography of St. Teresa of Avila

Excerpts from Interior Castle:

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

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

A LOVE SONG by Saint Teresa of Avila

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

Bookmark of St. Teresa of Avila 

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

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

The Lumen Christi Award

Thank you, Esther, for this award, which is both an honor and a blessing!

Here are the rules if you accept this award. You need to do these things:

1) Name your favorite saint, and why.
2) Name your favorite part of the Mass, and why.
3) Name your favorite part about being a Catholic.

1.  Sorry, but I can't limit this to just one, but I will try to limit it as best as I can. My favorite female saints are two Doctors of the Church: St. Therese of Lisieux and St. Catherine of Siena. They have both been powerful intercessors for me and I admire each of them for the contributions they have made to the Church. St. Therese is noted for her Little Way, which is a simple way of obtaining sanctity for the average person. I love St. Catherine of Siena (who is my Confirmation saint) for her strong and courageous spirit and her great love for the Church. Both saints teach us what love is all about and both were humble, holy, and on fire for the Lord.

2.  My favorite part of the Mass is the Consecration because this is when the bread and wine is changed into Christ's body and blood through the miracle of transubstantiation. This is the holiest moment of the entire Mass.

3.  My favorite part about being a Catholic is knowing the Truth, living the Truth, and sharing the Truth.

In turn I nominate the following bloggers:

1. Leticia
2. Diane 
4.Teófilo de Jesús
5. Jessica

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Blessed Magdalen Panattieri

The saint of the day for October 13 is Blessed Magdalen Panattieri, a Dominican tertiary who was one of the most famous preachers in Italy.

Magdalen Panattieri was born at Trino, near Vercelli, in 1443, of pious parents. While still a child, she made a vow of virginity. She tried to emulate her favorite saint, St. Catherine of Sienna; she had a special devotion to the Most Holy Name of Jesus. Before she turned 20, she took her vows as a Dominican tertiary, living in her home, while performing the apostolic works of charity performed by her Dominican community. This was unusual, as the tertiary chapter was primarily composed of widows and older women. Magdalen brought a spirit of penance to the chapter, while remaining cheerful and resourceful. She often spent entire mornings in Eucharistic adoration and afternoons caring for the sick and the poor.

Magdalen began teaching children catechism, then, later attracted adults to her teaching. She was so effective that she was appointed to give conferences to women and children in a building adjoining the Dominican church. As she became an eloquent preacher, the men, priests, and religious began to come to hear her speak and profit from her teaching. Within a short time, she drew crowds throughout northern Italy.

Magdalen was considered the protectress of the city of Trino. Whenever disaster threatened it, the citizens expected her to look out for their interests, and she usually did. She loved both her community and her family. Her favorite brother was consistently getting into trouble. When his conduct had exceeded the patience of everyone, Magdalen fell down on her knees in front of her crucifix, and remained there until our Lord assured her that He would deal with her brother's behavior Himself: “I cannot refuse you anything," He said.

Through her efforts the Dominicans were inspired to undertake a more strict observance, and, in 1490, Blessed Sebastian Maggi came from Milan to inaugurate it at her suggestion. These same friars were involved in a lawsuit with a Milanese councilor who used his power so oppressively that he was excommunicated from the Church. In the resulting conflict, a young man publicly slapped Magdalen in the face. Consequently, she dropped to her knees and said, "Brother, here is the other cheek. I give it to you in love of Jesus Christ." This made him even angrier. Before the year's end, the man died a violent death from an incurable disease.

Magdalen was blessed with many mystical gifts -- the stigmata, the gift of prophecy, visions.  She had prophesied the future political troubles of Italy: the French invasion of the country.  While she did not live to see this prophecy fulfilled, she asked God's mercy for her people. During the violence and the bloodshed of this period, Trino was spared, while the towns all around were destroyed.

On October 13, 1503, as Magdalen lay on her death bed, she sent for her tertiary sisters.  She promised to pray for each of them in eternity, adding, “I could not be happy in Heaven if you were not there too”.  From the day before her death, the people of Trino had venerated Blessed Magdalen Panattieri as a saint, a cultus that was confirmed by Pope Leo XII.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Synod: Vice President of the American Bishops suggests a blessing for children in the womb

October 12, 2012. ( The Synod meetings bringing together bishops from around the world are continuing at the Vatican. Discussions are offering a rich exchange of ideas on the New Evangelization.
Among those at the Synod is Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, of Louisville, Kentucky in the US. He has proposed that all parishes offer the blessing of babies in the womb.

Archbishop of Louisville (US)
“It's a blessing for the child in the woomb, for the mother and for the father and other family members”.

The formula for the blessing was proposed by the US Bishops and approved by the Vatican last December. It already has been very successful in local parishes.

Besides highlighting the dignity of human life, the blessing offers an opportunity to show the humanity of the Church and a great instrument in the New Evangelization.

Archbishop of Louisville (US)
“This blessing is a great opportunity, first of all, to join a mother who is fill with joy and sometimes with concerns about what is best for her child. It's a time to unite with the father. And of course it is a great opportunity as a first step in reaching out to the family, to invite them to begin preparation for the Baptism of the child who is not yet born”.

This is the first synod for Archbishop Joseph Kurtz. He says one of the keys to the New Evangelization is for the Church go out to meet people and do it cheerfully.

Archbishop of Louisville (US)
“One of the great things that has been in the synod so far is the need for expressing joy, the joy of having found Jesus Christ in our own life, in our comunity. That is where all evangelization begins”.

It is further evidence that being an example is worth much more than words and speeches.

USCCB Corrects Joe Biden's Inaccurate Statement in Debate

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement, October 12. Full text follows:

Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:

"With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional "accommodation" for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as "non-exempt." That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation "to pay for contraception" and "to be a vehicle to get contraception." They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.

Our Lady of the Pillar (Nuestra Senora del Pilar)

Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Pillar -- the Blessed Virgin Mary's first apparition in history.

Seven years after the death of Jesus, James (the Greater), reportedly traveled as far west as Spain to the village of Saragossa in north east Spain.  James became disheartened because of the failure of his mission. Tradition tells us that on January 2, 40 A.D. while he was deep in prayer, the Blessed Mother appeared to him and gave him a small wooden statue of herself and a column of jasper wood and instructed him to build a church in her honor: "This place is to be my house, and this image and column shall be the title and altar of the temple that you shall build."

The jasper column and the wooden statue can still be seen on special occasions at a church that houses them. About a year after the apparition James arranged to build a small chapel in Mary's honor, the first Church ever dedicated to the honor of the Virgin Mary. After James returned to Jerusalem, he was executed by Herod Agrippa in about 44 AD, the first apostle to be martyred for his faith. Several of his disciples took his body and returned it for final burial in Spain. The local queen, observing several of the miracles performed by James' disciples, converted to Christianity and permitted James' body to be buried in a local field. Eight centuries later, a cathedral in honor of St. James was erected after his grave site was rediscovered by a local hermit. The hermit found the burial site after noticing an unusual star formation. The site for the cathedral was called Compostella (starry field) and it is a major pilgrimage site to this day.

It is interesting to note that the German Augustinian stigmatist and visionary of the early 19th century, Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, comments on Mary of the Pillar’s appearance to James and with rich detail  describes the Saragossa apparition in chapter 14 of The Life of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Our Lady of the Pillar has a special place in the lives of many, not the least of which are those who bear her name. In Spain and in Latin America the name 'Pilar' is commonly given to girls at baptism. At one time in Spain almost everyone wore a medal of Nuestra Senora del Pilar. Our Lady of the Pillar is also immensely important in the history and mission of several religious congregations and movements, especially the Marianist Family founded by Blessed William Joseph Chaminade.

As we reflect on the apparition of Our Lady of the Pillar, let it be a strong reminder that we walk in the footsteps of St. James and the early Christians in following Jesus Christ. May Our Lady be a pillar of faith for each of us as we place our trust in Jesus.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Pope inaugurates the Year of Faith and invites to rediscover Second Vatican Council

October 11, 2012. ( Benedict XVI entered St. Peter's Square to preside over the opening Mass of the Year of Faith, with the year's official anthem playing in the background. It was also a solemn ceremony, which recalled the 50th anniversary of Vatican II and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

In a symbolic gesture, among those who accompanied him were 15 elderly bishops who 50 years ago participated in the Council. Along with them, were 80 cardinals, eight patriarchs of Eastern Churches, 191 Bishops of the Synod for the New Evangelization and 104 representatives of Bishop's conferences from around the world.  

Greeting them, Pope Benedict solemnly inaugurated the Year of Faith.

“Fifty years since the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, we begin with great joy this Year of Faith”.

During his homily, Benedict XVI explained that the Year of Faith is not a simply an anniversary but a real necessity since it can help fill the emptiness felt in society today.

“People of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive”.

He recalled that those who participated in the Council were dedicated to showing the world the beauty of the faith. He asked that this ideal be recovered and not limited to just promoted an ideal. In order to achieve this, he called on them to rediscover the ideas of the council.  

“ that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, it needs to be built on a concrete and precise basis, and this basis is the documents of the Second Vatican Council”.

The Pope greeted with enthusiasm the main leader of the Anglican Communion, Rowan Williams, and the Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, who thanked God for the improvement in relations between Catholics and Orthodox.

Before concluding the Mass, Benedict XVI gave the messages of the Council to groups of people,  including young people, artists and intellectuals.

Why did Pope Benedict call for a Year of Faith?

Saint María Soledad Torres Acosta

Today is the feast of Saint María Soledad Torres Acosta (1826-1887).

St. Mary Soledad was a "modern" saint who gave to the world yet another sisterhood dedicated primarily to nursing. They are the "Handmaids of Mary Serving the Sick", better known in this country (where they have been working since 1914) as the Sister Servants of Mary, Ministers to the Sick.

The foundress, a native of Madrid, was baptized Bibiana Antonia Manuela. She was the second of the five children of shopkeeper Francisco Torres and his wife Antonia Acosta. Raised in good Christian surroundings, Manuela grew up a thoughtful child, more interested in passing her own food on to her poorer playmates, and teaching them their prayers, than playing games with them. Educated by the Daughters of Charity, she may have been inspired by that order's hospital work to think along nursing lines.

Definitely desiring to join a religious order, she had the Dominican nuns particularly in mind. But then she met Don Michael Martinez y Sanz, a lay member of the third order of the Servites. Worried about the lack of care for the sick of his parish, he gathered seven women together in 1851 and proposed the establishment of a religious nursing order. Emanuela Torres Acosta, then aged 25, took him on and became the actual founder of the Sisters Servants. She took the religious name of Maria Soledad, from a Spanish title of Our Lady of Sorrows ("soledad" means "desolate"). The little new community won its spurs during a cholera epidemic that struck Madrid shortly after the foundation.

The first decade of the Sisters Servants was the roughest. Growth in membership was painfully slow. Then in 1856 Don Martinez took away six sisters to make a new establishment at Fernando Po, West Africa. Thus Mother Mary was left with only six sisters in the community.

Now she became the target of serious slanders. The government refused to recognize her status, and she was deposed as superior general. Fortunately, she received an able new spiritual director, Fr. Gabino Sanchez, and he saw to it that the society was rehabilitated. The queen of Spain and some of the local officials also rallied to Mother Mary's assistance.

The Servants of Mary finally obtained official diocesan approval in 1861. Matters now started to improve. The sisters took over the management of a home for delinquents in Madrid and made several foundations elsewhere. When in 1865 cholera once more became epidemic, the little community again won praise for its selfless devotion to duty. True, the departure of a number of the sisters for another religious order around 1870 occasioned new strife, and the foundress had to suffer further attacks from the disgruntled. (One of her faithful adherents said, "Mother Mary is like an anvil. She is constantly taking a beating.") But there was an upturn in 1875. The congregation opened its first foreign house at Santiago, Cuba, and in 1876 it received the official approval of the pope. By 1887 it had 47 houses in both hemispheres.

Maria Soledad's last years were fortunately serene. When her nuns, gathered about her deathbed in 1887, asked her blessing, she simply admonished them, "Children, live together in peace and harmony."

Mother Mary left behind her, at long last, a well-organized and technically skilled body of women, ready to serve the sick not only tenderly but efficiently. It was a notable bequest to mankind.

Declared "blessed" by Pope Pius XII in 1950, Mary Soledad Torres-Acosta was canonized by Pope Paul VI in 1970. In her they saluted all who with loving hearts perform the corporal works of mercy.

~ Father Robert F. McNamara

O Saint Maria Soledad whose great love of God irradiated your loving devotion to the sick and poor, dedicating yourself to the relief and consolation of their sufferings, obtain for us from God: help in all our sickness of body and soul, and patience and acceptance of His Holy Will in all our tribulations. Inspire in us great kindness towards the sick and the poor, in order that by our many works of charity done to them for Christ’s sake, we may be worthy to receive with you in the end, the reward promised by Our Lord. In the name of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Year Of Faith Begins Tomorrow

A special Year of the Faith will be held from 11 October 2012, the anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, until 24 November 2013, Solemnity of Christ the King. That was the announcement made by Pope Benedict during his homily at a Mass concluding a conference on the New Evangelization.

It was also a theme taken up and reiterated at the Angelus, before many of the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

Speaking about his decision to invoke this "Year of Faith" Pope Benedict said it was "to give new impetus to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they often find themselves, to the place of life, of friendship with Christ".

October 10, 2012. ( One day before the start of the Year of Faith, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the begining of the Second Vatican Council, Benedict XVI reflected on the importance of the event during his weekly general audience.
“As we begin tomorrow the Year of Faith, it is more necessary than ever to return to the documents of this great Council, which was convoked, in the words of Blessed John the twenty-third, to proclaim the truths of the faith in a “renewed” way, all the while keeping intact their perennial content”, said Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict spoke about the documents prepared during the Vatican Council and called them a “compass for the Church”.

Benedict XVI
“The fiftieth anniversary of the Council thus reminds us that the Church, in all its members, has the task of transmitting the message of God’s love which saves and which leads us to eternal beatitude”.

At the end of the general audience some of the participants at the synod on the New Evangelization greeted the pope and gave him this picture of  Our Lady of Guadalupe.

St. Francis Borgia: Duke, Husband, Priest

St. Francis Borgia Exorcising
By Francisco José de Goya

The saint of the day for October 12 is St. Francis Borgia, a Spanish duke, who married, and after his wife died, gave up a life of nobility to become a Jesuit priest.

St. Francis Borgia was born October 28, 1510, at Gandia, Valencia, Spain, the first of 17 children, to noble parents. He was the son of the Duke of Gandia, the great grandson of Pope Alexander VI, the notorious Borgia pope, and the grandson of King Ferdinand of Aragon. He was named after St. Francis of Assisi.

Following the death of his mother at the age of ten he was educated by his uncle, the Archbishop of Saragossa. Because he posessed many natural gifts he became a favorite at the court of Charles V.

In 1539, Francis was appointed Viceroy of Catalonia, and four years later, on his father’s death, the Duke of Gandia. He built a university there, received the degree of Doctor in theology. After his wife died in 1546, Francis entered the Society of Jesus in 1548, having made provision for his eight children.Two years later he left Gandia, never to return, and joined the Jesuits in Rome. He immediately set about initiating grand projects – he founded colleges, monasteries, and charitable institutions  Then, he left for Spain where his powerful preaching and example sparked a renewal of religious fervor in the country.

In 1556 he was placed in charge of all the missions of the Society and his energetic work transformed them. He also started missions to Peru, New Spain and Brazil. He was elected the general of the Jesuits on July 2, 1565, and, although in poor health for his last years, he worked tirelessly and introduced so many reforms to the society of Jesus that he was considered its "second founder." Francis was a man of both contemplation and action, drawing much strength from the time he spent in silence with the Lord.

He died of natural causes in Rome on September 30, 1572 and was canonized in 1671.

Patron: Against earthquakes; Portugal; Rota; Marianas.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Video: The Nurse, The Extremist, The Survivor

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What's the Year of Faith all about?

October 9, 2012. (   The Year of Faith will be celebrated between October 11th, 2012 and November 2013, which will be led by the Pope. The initiative will be launched on the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council.

The Pope made the announcement a year ago in his Apostolic Letter titled “Porta Fidei.” In the document, the Pope explains the reasons for having a year of faith. He also calls on Catholics to learn more about the religion and to show consistency.

BENEDICT XVI (October 16, 2011)
“Dear brothers and sisters, you're among the protagonists of the New evangelization which the Church has undertaken and carried forward, not without difficulty, but with the same enthusiasm of the early Christians."

The start of the Year of Faith also coincides with the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Church.

Throughout the year, the Pope will take part in more than a dozen major meetings to highlight key aspects. That  includes a gathering with youths, where the Pope will administer the Sacrament of Confirmation.  He will also receive hundreds of Marian institutions from all continents and meet with thousands of seminarians and novices from around the world. The Pope will also be taking part in an initiative called 'The Gospel of Life,' to defend the dignity of every person from conception to natural death.

ARCH. RINO FISICHELLA  (June 21, 2012)
President, Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization
“The challenge is big, but so is our desire of fully respond in a coherent way. We also want to thank the Pope because he has accompanied us throughout the year with his presence and teachings. We're grateful because he decided to dedicate Wednesday's to the theme of faith.”

Throughout the year of faith, there will be events to strengthen the faith and make it present in society. That includes a worldwide and simultaneous adoration of the Eucharist. Also, the Pope is calling on Christians to make pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, to recite the Creed and meditate carefully.

Card. Dolan proposes Confession as the Sacrament of the New Evangelization

October 9, 2012. ( During day two of the synod, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, said the Sacrament of Confession should be the Sacrament of the Year of Faith.
Cardinal Dolan said  rediscovering the sense of  apologizing and forgiveness are key for the New Evangelization.

Another bishop recommended that the Pope consecrate the world to the Holy Spirit. If the Pope accepts, the ceremony could take place on day of Pentecost, 2013. Another option would be during the closing ceremony of Year of Faith, on November 23, 2013. The day coincides with the feast day of Christ the King.

New Media for the New Evangelization

Blessed John Henry Newman

Today, October 9, is the feast of Blessed John Henry Newman, one of the great intellectuals of the 19th century. Newman was a theologian, philosopher, teacher, preacher, writer, and spiritual guide.

Born on February 1, 1801 in London, the oldest of six children in a middle class family of three boys and three girls.  His father, John Henry Newman, was a moderately successful banker; his mother, Jemima Fourdrinier, was the daughter of a paper manufacturer.

Raised as an Anglican, Newman began his religious quest as an adolescent, which continued throughout his life. When Newman was 15 years old, he read Force of Truth by Thomas Scott (1747-1821), an influential preacher, which made a strong impression on him.  Consequently, he experienced a profound conversion, which granted him a strong sense of God’s presence in His life. From that time on, God was at the center of his life.  Scott’s writings also inspired Newman with a strong faith in the Trinity and the importance of holiness.

At the age of 16, Newman enrolled in Trinity College, Oxford, beginning an association with Oxford University that would last for twenty-eight years – nearly a third of his life. Newman studied theology, then went on to decided to enter the ministry and applied to Oriel College. Subsequently, he was accepted at Oriel and was elected a Fellow there. He was later ordained as an Anglican priest, who was known to be a great preacher.

Newman became the leader of the Oxford movement, which sought to reform the Anglican Church. Newman and his cohorts  spread the ideas of the Oxford Movement via a series of polemical pamphlets known as the Tracts of the Times. There were 90 tracts and Newman published approximately one-third of those.

In Tract 90, the final tract, Newman argued that the Thirty-Nine Articles, which supported the doctrine of "justification by faith alone", were susceptible to a Catholic interpretation. In this last tract, Newman appeared to defend the teaching of the Council of Trent on the Mass as a sacrifice (though he continued to differ from Rome on other Catholic issues).  This resulted in an outpouring of criticism from students, clergy, and heads of colleges.  For three years afterward, Anglican Bishops condemned Newman’s ideas. Thus, in 1843, Newman resigned his position as an Anglican pastor and began living as a monastic.

At the end of 1844, Newman began a historical investigation on the doctrines of the Catholic faith, including: the invocation to the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints, the doctrine of transubstantiation, the “sacrificial” character of the Mass, the doctrine of purgatory, and the doctrine of papal supremacy.  The fruit of the investigation was his book, An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, which was published at the end of 1845.

On October 3, 1845, Newman wrote to the Provost of Oriel, resigning his Fellowship. On October 8, 1845, Newman made his Confession to Fr. Dominic Barberi (a Passionist priest who was doing missionary work in England) and the following day, October 9, he was received into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church.  Following this event, there was a wave of conversion in England, with several hundred Oxford and Cambridge men leaving the Anglican Church to become members of the Roman Catholic Church.

In April 1846, Newman was sent to Rome to continue his theological studies. He attended the Roman seminary run by the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, joined the Oratory of St. Philip Neri community, and in 1847 was ordained a Catholic priest.

In 1849, Newman opened Oratory houses in Birmingham and in London. In 1851, the Bishops of Ireland decided that a separate University should be established for Catholics, and invited Newman to become its founder and first Rector. He set up the Catholic University of Ireland and served as its rector from 1851 to 1858. His book The Idea of a University which deals with the nature and scope of education, and the role of the Church in the context of a university, dates from this period.

On May 12, 1879, John Henry Newman was named cardinal by Pope Leo XIII. He died at the age of 89 in Edgbaston, Birmingham, West Midlands, England on August 11, 1890. He was beatified by Pope Benedict XVI on September 19, 2010.

Newman faced numerous struggles and sufferings in his life, some of which included: his personal faith struggle, his opposition against theological and philosophical liberalism, being misrepresented and mistrusted by others -- both Catholics and Anglicans alike, the loss of friends, family, and his position in the Anglican Church, and finally, becoming an outcast to England for twenty years. However, none of this kept him from searching for the truth, speaking out for the truth, or living out the truth in his life. Praise God for Cardinal Newman -- his holiness, his courage, and his perseverance. May we always seek to imitate him in these virtues.

~ Copyright 2012 Jean M. Heimann.

Blessed John Henry Newman Quote

“I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it. I want an intelligent, well-instructed laity – I wish [them] to enlarge [their] knowledge, to cultivate [their] reason, to get an insight into the relation of truth to truth, to learn to view things as they are, to understand how faith and reason stand to each other, what are the bases and principles of Catholicism.”