Friday, November 30, 2012

German producers plan Pope Benedict biopic

MUNICH, Germany (Reuters) - Two German producers have bought the film rights to an upcoming biography of Pope Benedict by the Bavarian author of three best-selling interview books with the pontiff.

The Odeon Film company said producers Marcus Mende and Peter Weckert planned a film for international release based on a biography by journalist Peter Seewald due to be published in early 2014.

Read the full story.

US birth rate hits new low

The birth rate in the US has fallen to its lowest level in recorded history.

The Pew Research Center reports that the birth rate in 2011—the last year for which figures are available—was 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age. That rate shows a decline of 8% since 2007.

During the “baby boom” in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the US birth rate was well over 100, peaking at 122.7—nearly double the 2011 rate—in 1957.

The birth rate among native-born American women was even lower than the overall rate, at 58.9. Foreign-born mothers, who account for only 17% of the American women of childbearing age, produced 23% of the babies.

Yet the birth rate among foreign-born women dropped in 2011 by 14%-- much faster than the rate for native-born American women.

Gregorian chant for Advent

What is an advent wreath?

30 November, 2012 ( With the arrival of Christmas, many Catholic families begin to decorate in preparation for the birth of Jesus. One of many holiday traditions still standing today, especially in Germany, includes the use of a decorative advent wreath.

Its origin is traced to Hamburg, in northern Germany. The children of an orphanage, excited about the arrival of Christmas, would ask how many days until it arrived. In 1839, the director took an old cartwheel and decorated it with small leaves. He added 24 candles, which they would light up each day, leading up to Christmas.

Collegio Teutonico del Campo Santo (Vatican)
“This idea is followed by a tradition with only 4 candles. It symbolizes the light that grows with each passing Sunday, until the moment the new year and the Savior are born.”

Each Sunday of Advent, a candle is lit, in the order of how one makes the sign of the cross. This continues until all four are lit, in anticipation of Christmas Eve. The circular shape of the wreath symbolizes a continuity, something without a beginning or end, used to describe God's love. The colors also have a special meaning.

Collegio Teutonico del Campo Santo (Vatican)
“In my are, in Bavaria, we have always had a green wreath that symbolizes life. You have to imagine a cold, frosty winter. The red candles symbolize charity, and also the light is slowly growing.”

Though red is one of the most commonly used colors, other also  use purple or white. The important thing, according to tradition, is to light them up each Sunday of Advent, to prepare for the arrival of baby Jesus.

Vatican welcomes enhanced status for Palestine at the UN, pushes special status for Jerusalem

30 November, 2012 ( The Holy See welcomed favorably the United Nations' vote to upgrade Palestinian status from permanent observer entity to a non-member observer state. The lopsided vote in the world governing body's General Assembly grants Palestine the same recognition as Vatican City.

The Vatican released a statement also voicing its support for a two state solution, and called on Palestinian and Israeli leaders to resume bilateral negotiations to achieve peace and the creation of an independent Palestinian state.

In addition, the statement backed the Vatican's request for a special statute guaranteeing freedom of religion and access for Jerusalem, which both Israel and Palestine claim as capitals of their respective countries.

St. Andrew the Apostle

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

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

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

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

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

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

( The feast in celebration of St. Andrew the Apostle takes place November 30. Pope Benedict XVI explained back in June 14, 2006 that St. Andrew was the first apostle approached by Jesus to follow him. Benedict XVI also explains his role as a preacher of the Gospel.

“Today we consider the figure of the Apostle Andrew. According to John’s Gospel, Andrew was the first Apostle to be called by Jesus; he then brought his brother, Simon Peter, to the Lord. The fraternal relationship of these two great Apostles is reflected in the special relationship between the sister Churches of Rome and Constantinople.

The name "Andrew" is Greek, and in the Gospel of John, when some Greeks wish to see Jesus, it is Andrew, with Philip, who brings their request to the Lord. Jesus’ response, with its reference to the grain of wheat which dies and then produces much fruit (cf. Jn 12:23-24), is a prophecy of the Church of the Gentiles, which would spread throughout the Greek world after the Lord’s Resurrection and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

According to some ancient traditions, Andrew preached the Gospel among the Greeks until he met his death by crucifixion. His example inspires us to be zealous disciples of Christ, to bring others to the Lord, and to embrace the mystery of his Cross, both in life and in death.”

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Novena for the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Today, November 29, the novena to the Immaculate Conception begins; however, since I am posting this in the evening -- a little late -- the Novena can also be started on Nov 30 and end on Dec 8.

O God,  who by the Immaculate Conception  
of the Blessed Virgin Mary,  
did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son,  
we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain,  
so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession,  to come unto You.  
Through the same Lord Jesus Christ,  Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen. 
Day One
-Nov 29
O most Holy Virgin, who was pleasing to the Lord and became His mother, immaculate in body and spirit, in faith and in love, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession. O most Holy Mother, who by your blessed Immaculate Conception, from the first moment of your conception did crush the head of the enemy, receive our prayers as we implore you to present at the throne of God the favor we now request...
(State your intention here...) 
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Day Two-Nov 30
O Mary, ever blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of angels and of saints, we salute you with the most profound veneration and filial devotion as we contemplate your holy Immaculate Conception, We thank you for your maternal protection and for the many blessings that we have received through your wondrous mercy and most powerful intercession. In all our necessities we have recourse to you with unbounded confidence. O Mother of Mercy, we beseech you now to hear our prayer and to obtain for us of your Divine Son the favor that we so earnestly request in this novena...
(State your intention here...) 
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Day Three-Dec 1
O Blessed Virgin Mary, glory of the Christian people, joy of the universal Church and Mother of Our Lord, speak for us to the Heart of Jesus, who is your Son and our brother. O Mary, who by your holy Immaculate Conception did enter the world free from stain, in your mercy obtain for us from Jesus the special favor which we now so earnestly seek...
(State your intention here...) 
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. 
Day Four-Dec 2
O Mary, Mother of God, endowed in your glorious Immaculate Conception with the fullness of grace; unique among women in that you are both mother and virgin; Mother of Christ and Virgin of Christ, we ask you to look down with a tender heart from your throne and listen to our prayers as we earnestly ask that you obtain for us the favor for which we now plead...
(State your intention here...)
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Day Five-Dec 3
O Lord, who, by the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, did prepare a fitting dwelling for your Son, we beseech you that as by the foreseen death of your Son, you did preserve her from all stain of sin, grant that through her intercession, we may be favored with the granting of the grace that we seek for at this time...
(State your intention here...)
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Day Six-Dec 4
Glorious and immortal Queen of Heaven, we profess our firm belief in your Immaculate Conception preordained for you in the merits of your Divine Son. We rejoice with you in your Immaculate Conception. To the one ever-reigning God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three in Person, one in nature, we offer thanks for your blessed Immaculate Conception. O Mother of the Word made Flesh, listen to our petition as we ask this special grace during this novena...
(State your intention here...) 
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Day Seven-Dec 5
O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of God, and my mother, from the sublime heights of your dignity turn your merciful eyes upon me while I, full of confidence in your bounty and keeping in mind your Immaculate conception and fully conscious of your power, beg of you to come to our aid and ask your Divine Son to grant the favor we earnestly seek in this novena... if it be beneficial for our immortal souls and the souls for whom we pray.
(State your intention here...)  
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Day Eight-Dec 6
O Most gracious Virgin Mary, beloved Mother of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer, intercede with him for us that we be granted the favor which we petition for so earnestly in this novena...O Mother of the Word Incarnate, we feel animated with confidence that your prayers in our behalf will be graciously heard before the throne of God. O Glorious Mother of God, in memory of your joyous Immaculate Conception, hear our prayers and obtain for us our petitions.
(State your intention here...)  
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.
Day Nine-Dec 7
O Mother of the King of the Universe, most perfect member of the human race, "our tainted nature’s solitary boast," we turn to you as mother, advocate, and mediatrix. O Holy Mary, assist us in our present necessity. By your Immaculate Conception, O Mary conceived without sin, we humbly beseech you from the bottom of our heart to intercede for us with your Divine Son and ask that we be granted the favor for which we now plead...
(State your intention here...)
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. Amen.


Praise God! A victory for religious liberty!

A federal appeals court has agreed with three U.S. district judges and blocked the enforcement of the Obamacare “mandate” that would have forced a Missouri company to pay for health insurance including abortifacients in violation of the religious beliefs of the owners.

The order from a three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is the first from the appellate level among the dozens of cases challenging the Obamacare mandate.

According to officials with the American Center for Law and Justice, the order puts on hold the White House-promoted requirement in the case involving Frank R. O’Brien and O’Brien Industrial Holdings, a St. Louis, Mo., company that runs a number of businesses that explore, mine and process refractory and ceramic raw materials.

“By granting our motion, the appeals court blocks the implementation of the HHS mandate and clears the way for our lawsuit to continue – a significant victory for our client,” said Francis Manion, senior counsel of the ACLJ. “The order sends a message that the religious beliefs of employers must be respected by the government. We have argued from the beginning that employers like Frank O’Brien must be able to operate their business in a manner consistent with their moral values, not the values of the government. We look forward to this case moving forward and securing the constitutional rights of our client.”

Read the full story.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley: New evangelization places emphasis on the individual

November 29, 2012. ( One month into the Year of Faith, churches in the United States and around the globe are finding new ways to reach out to believers.

Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O'Malley says making it a success is largely dependent on each person.

Archbishop of Boston (USA)
“In great part the effectiveness of the new evangelization is going to be the individual believers who are convinced that they need to talk to other people about their faith and invite others to be a part of our believing family.”

His archdiocese includes nearly half a million students from Harvard and dozens of other colleges and universities.

O'Malley says that in itself creates a large advantage. He is on the lookout for different ways to reach out to those students, and, it turn, have them become evangelizers.

He cites an example from one of his priests back home.

Archbishop of Boston (USA)
“At the beginning of mass he will tell the students to take out their iPhones and to go to their Facebook and mark on there that they’re at Mass and then turn their phones off.”

The result, according to him, is the chance for those students to talk to their friends about their faith and the fact that they go to mass.

But he insists, the very first step begins with each individual, to have an ongoing personal conversation about what their faith means to them. Then, he says, it's their responsibility, as Catholics, to evangelize.

New location unveiled for WYD 2013 main events in Rio

29 November, 2012 ( Rio de Janeiro's Guaratiba neighborhood will host the vigil on Saturday, July 27, and the closing Mass for World Youth Day 2013.

The organizing committee made the decision during a last minute meeting. The original location was scheduled to be the Santa Cruz Air Force Base. However, organizers felt it would not be able to accommodate the more than 2 million people expected to attend.

The world-renown Copacabana district will remain as the location for the first few events for  World Youth Day.

Fr. Robert Sirico: Fixing economic crisis requires financial and moral truth

I totally agree with Fr. Sirico that the government should play a lesser role in business affairs. I also think that the government should stop penalizing small businesses with high taxes, forcing them to go bankrupt, but should instead encourage incentives for small businesses. When you penalize small businesses, it is the employees who ultimately suffer. Entrepreneurs need to become more creative and provide a better product or service to attract new customers. The emphasis on certain statements below is mine.

Rome, Italy, Nov 29, 2012 / 01:33 pm (CNA).- The solution to the ongoing economic troubles is to adopt a worldview that combines both economic and moral truths, Father Robert Sirico said as he presented his new book.

Father Robert Sirico, co-founder of the Acton Institute think tank, introduced his book titled "Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for a Free Economy" on Nov. 28 in Rome.

"I wrote the book because I was concerned that there's such a false set of assumptions of what a market economy is and that it's completely disconnected from the moral life," he explained.

"I'm also using the book to give a sort of autobiography," said Fr. Sirico, who wrote the book using parables of his life to ''tell a moral.'' "I tell of an encounter I had when I was five years old my neighbor, an old lady."

"She handed me warm, delicious, scrumptious cookies, and I saw she had tattooed numbers running up her arm. My mom later told me how refugees had come to the United States for safety," said Fr. Sirico.

"The whole seed of human dignity was then implanted in my mind and it's been a preoccupation from that day to this."

Fr. Sirico, originally from Brooklyn, said that his approach to economics is anthropological and combines economic truths with moral ones.

When it comes to the current economic crisis, Fr. Sirico faults regulations that were based only on good intentions.

"The intentions were that people would have access to credit to buy homes, but the problem is that good intentions aren't always the sound basis for sound economics," he said.

He noted that "it's going to be difficult for young Italians to reach adulthood with their dignity intact for quite a while, because they presume that the State will provide for them, cradle to grave."

"Also they don't have much access to work, which incentivizes them to stay at home, which delays them from getting married and having children," he said. "You then have fewer and fewer Italians supporting the elderly and this becomes a vicious cycle."

Fr. Sirico believes that Italians need to rethink how they and their government handle the economy.

The priest, who disagrees with the notion that the way for a business to succeed is to take advantage of others, said the solution is to apply subsidiarity, which means that needs are best met at a local level.

"We need to stop presuming that the government is the provider and find creative and innovative ways which can serve people and which will build a virtuous cycle instead of a vicious cycle," said Fr. Sirico.

"You get clients by offering them a better service and product quality, which is unique to them and meets their needs," he stated. "It's service that people need to prioritize, not taking advantage."

Looking to the future, Fr. Sirico thinks there are “bumpy years ahead of us.”

"The root of all our political and civic thinking in the U.S. and in Europe is that the government has the dominant role in our lives," he argued.

Instead of this model, he thinks that the role of government needs to shrink and the ''civic voluntary dimension of society'' needs to increase.

"Unless we correct ideas, nothing else is going to work because politics isn't the solution to this problem," he said.

Read a review of Defending the Free Market written by Stephen Kokx.

Learn more about  "Defending the Free Market: the Moral Case for a Free Economy" here.

Blessed Bernardo de Hoyos

On April 18, 2010, Fr. Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos, SJ, considered the first apostle of the Sacred Heart in Spain, was beatified in Valladolid. Today is his feast day.

Bernardo Francisco de Hoyos was born in Torrelobatón, a municipality located in the province of Valladolid in Spain on August 21, 1711—that is 300 years to the day of the Vigil and Mass in Madrid Spain—which is part of the background to the request that the Holy Father consecrate the youth of the world to the Sacred Heart, which he did at the close of the tempestuous vigil service and Eucharistic adoration.

The young Bernardo studied in the Jesuit school in Medina del Campo and was so drawn to the Jesuit way of life that, at the age of 14, he wanted to enter the Society of Jesus. Not without difficulty—because of his young age and perceived physical weakness—Bernardo was accepted into the novitiate in 1726.

During his two years as a novice, Aloysius Gonzaga and Stanislaus Kostka, fondly called "boy saints," were canonized. A third "boy saint," John Berchmans, was also in the process of being canonized and provided Bernardo with a model of holiness.

Boy saints—their youth belied their spiritual maturity, a deep and holy wisdom which was also evident in Bernardo de Hoyos. In 1732, at the age of 21, when most of our young men and women are still in adolescence, Bernardo was already able to say to his spiritual director, "I see that everything in my heart is moving towards God, drawn like an iron to a magnet. It desires only God, searches only for God, and longs only for God."

On May 3, 1733, Bernardo experienced the Lord entrusting him with a mission: “I wish you to spread the devotion to my Sacred Heart throughout all of Spain.” From then on, Bernardo did all he could to follow the Lord's command. He formed a group of devoted collaborators to communicate the essence of the devotion to the Sacred Heart to others.

Bernardo himself would distribute prayer cards and leaflets and founded many confraternities and associations in honor of the Sacred Heart. But the best way he spread this devotion was through his own holiness, piety, and personal witness to the love of Christ.

On January 2, 1735, Bernardo was ordained a priest, but not even a year later on November 29, he died after contracting typhus.

At such a young age, Bernardo knew what was in his heart. In these modern times, when youth are distracted by the petty concerns the world presents to them, perhaps we can pray the words of St. Claude de la Colombiere, S.J., another apostle of the Sacred Heart:

O God, what will you do to conquer
the fearful hardness of our hearts?
Lord, you must give us new hearts,
tender hearts, sensitive hearts,
to replace hearts that are made of marble and of bronze.
O holy Heart of Jesus, dwell hidden in my heart,
so that I may live only in you and only for you,
so that, in the end, I may live with you eternally in
heaven. Amen.

One way of making the Sacred Heart devotion real in one’s personal life is to discuss with others how the love of Christ influences our daily life through praying the Morning Offering, through making an effort to attend Mass and Communion on the First Friday of the month, through offering up our hurts and sufferings for the good of the Mystical Body of Christ, the Church (cf. Colossians 1.27).


Our Lady of Beauraing

NOTE: The Catholic Church has approved this Marian apparition.

Today is the anniversary of the first visions at Beauraing, Belgium. From November 29, 1932 to January 3, 1933, Mary appeared multiple times to five children in the small town of Beauraing in French-speaking Belgium. Identifying herself as "the Immaculate Virgin" and "Mother of God, Queen of Heaven," she called for prayer for the conversion of sinners.

Description of the Virgin

The Virgin Mary appeared as a beautiful lady in white walking above the bridge and the grotto by the convent with clouds covering her feet. The Virgin, with hands joined and turned toward the sky, carried a rosary hanging from her right arm. During the five last apparitions, she showed a heart of gold, surrounded by rays, on her chest.


The children belonged to two families: the Voisins (Fernande, 15 years; Berthe, 13 years; and Albert 11 years) and the Degeimbres (Andre, 14 years, and Gilberte, 9 years old). These working families were, for the most part, non-practicing Catholics.

The Virgin Mary urged the children to pray and sacrifice. She asked, "that people pray much," "that a chapel be built" (December 17, 1932), "that people come here in pilgrimage" (December 23). She promised the conversion of sinners. All these points are common with Lourdes. During the five last apparitions, she showed a heart of gold, surrounded by rays, on her chest. During the fourth apparition (December 4) and the seventh (December 21), she declared herself to be "the Immaculate Virgin" (analogous to Lourdes). During the last apparition (January 3, 1933), she added: "I will convert sinners. I am the Mother of God, the Queen of heaven." Twenty thousand persons were present that day.

The secrets given to the children have never been revealed.

Click here to read the messages of Our Lady of Beauraing.

Prayer to Our Lady of Beauraing

Our Lady of Beauraing, Immaculate Virgin, bring to Jesus, your Son, all the intentions that we entrust to you today. Mother of the Golden Heart, reflection of the Father's tenderness, look upon the men and women of our time with love and fill them with the joy of your presence. You, who promised to convert sinners, help us discover the infinite mercy of our God. Awaken within us the grace of conversion so that our lives may be a reflection of that mercy. Make every moment of our existence "a yes" to the question you ask today: "Do you love my Son? Do you love me?" Then the kingdom of Jesus will come to the world. Amen.

Fr. Barron on Vatican II: The Greatest Meeting of all Time

The Meaning of Vatican II: A Commentary by Fr. Barron

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Worldwide justice ministers meet in Rome to discuss abolition of death penalty

November 28, 2012. ( Representatives from two dozen countries, including several justice ministers, met in Rome to discuss progress on the abolition of the death penalty during a conference organized by the Catholic group Community of St. Egidio. The event marks the tenth anniversary of the “Cities for Life” Campaign. A movement that aims to abolish capital punishment and raise public awareness on the issue.

President, Community of Saint Egidio
“The number of death sentences has luckily diminished throughout the world. But the numbers are still too high, 5,000 executions in 2011. This type of justice does not work because it does not give life.”

The organizer, the Community of St. Egidio, is an ecumenical group recognized by the Catholic Church as a public lay association. They promote dialogue as a way to build peace, and also act as  mediators in international conflicts.

So far, 23 countries around the globe have abolished the death penalty. The group is convinced that, with support from the Vatican, that number will grow.

President, Community of Saint Egidio
“We work in complete collaboration with the Catholic Church, because this is a battle for life, and not for death. And although there are other battles for life, we feel we have the Church on our side, especially the Pope's word.”

One of the main goals of the conference is to convince other countries to sign on to a moratorium against capital punishment at the United Nations.

So far, the Community of Saint Egidio has partnered up with individual cities to show its support for life. Precisely to show support and unity, on November 30, over 1500 communities throughout the globe will light up their most famous landmarks.

Pope's general audience: How should Christians speak about God?

November 28, 2012. ( During Wednesday's general audience, the Pope continued his catechesis on the Year of Faith by addressing a key question: How should Christians talk about God to their fellow friends and family?

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, In our continuing catechesis for the Year of Faith, we now consider the question of how we are to speak about God to our contemporaries, communicating the Christian faith as a response to the deepest longings of the human heart. This means bringing the God of Jesus Christ to the men and women of our time.

It means bearing quiet and humble witness each day to the core of the Gospel message. This is the Good News of the God who is Love, who has drawn near to us in Jesus Christ even to the Cross, and who in the Resurrection brings us the hope and promise of eternal life. Jesus gave us an example: by his loving concern for people’s questions, struggles and needs, he led them to the Father.

In the task of bringing God to our contemporaries, families play a privileged role, for in them the life of faith is lived daily in joy, dialogue, forgiveness and love. The God of Jesus Christ has revealed our grandeur as persons redeemed by love and called, in the Church, to renew the city of man, so that it can become the city of God.

I offer a cordial welcome to the members and associates of the Catholic Medical Missionary Board, with gratitude for their charitable concern for the health care needs of our brothers and sisters in developing countries. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including the groups from Nigeria, Korea and the United States of America, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.”

Five Things Catholics Need to Know Today

1. The decision by the Supreme Court Nov. 26 to direct the Fourth Circuit to hear Liberty University’s appeal from the dismissal of its lawsuit is the right one. There is a serious impact on religious freedom when the government can coerce a religious organization to provide sterilization and contraception, including abortion-inducing contraceptives, when these directly violate the beliefs of the religious group. The courts must consider how this impacts freedom of religion and whether it violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

2. Christmas time might find some parish seminarians helping in their home parish. There are 5,015 seminarians enrolled in the United States, 3,346 enrolled in diocesan seminaries and 1,669 enrolled in religious-order seminaries.

Read the rest here.

St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal

Saint Catherine Laboure was born in Burgundy, France on May 2, 1806. The ninth of eleven children born to a farm family, she felt a call to the religious life from an early age. Catherine entered the community of the Daughters of Charity, in obedience to a vision of Saint Vincent de Paul, telling her that God wanted her to work with the sick.

The Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure, who was then a 24-year-old novice, three times.

On July 18, 1830, the first apparition occurred in the community's motherhouse. St. Catherine saw a lady seated on the right side of the sanctuary. When St. Catherine approached her, the heavenly visitor told her how to act in time of trial and pointed to the altar as the source of all consolation. Promising to entrust St. Catherine with a mission which would cause her great suffering, the lady also predicted the anticlerical revolt which occurred at Paris in 1870.

On November 27, the lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculate Conception, now universally known as the "Miraculous Medal." On one side was a picture of Mary, hands outstretched and the words 'O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.' On the other was the Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Our Blessed Mother asked Catherine to have medals made and devotion to the medal spread. Our Lady told Catherine that wearers of the medal would receive great graces, and its wearing and devotion has spread worldwide.

At the time, only her spiritual director, Father Aladel, knew of the apparitions and instructions that Catherine Laboure was receiving. He helped her to have the medals made and distributed, and kept her identity secret. Not until shortly before her death in 1876, did anyone know the identity of the nun who had begun the devotion.

Catherine Laboure died on December 31, 1876, and was canonized on July 27, 1947. Her body was buried in a crypt beneath their church and found to be incorrupt some fifteen years later.

Prayer to Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Virgin Mother of God, Mary Immaculate, we unite ourselves to you under your title of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. May this medal be for each one of us a sure sign of your motherly affection for us and a constant reminder of our filial duties towards you. While wearing it, may we be blessed by your loving protection and preserved in the grace of your Son. Most powerful Virgin, Mother of our Savior, keep us close to you every moment of our lives so that like you we may live and act according to the teaching and example of your Son. Obtain for us, your children, the grace of a happy death so that in union with you we may enjoy the happiness of heaven forever. Amen.

V: O Mary, conceived without sin, R: Pray for us who have recourse to you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Cardinal O'Brien on religious liberty

New Website for Pregnant Women

To better educate pregnant women, as well as deter them from even entering abortion clinics, Kansans for Life shepherded the "Women's Right to Know and See" law. Passed in 2009, the law gives women not only the option to see their child's ultrasound taken inside the abortion clinic, but also created a state health department-run website with real-time sonography of the developing unborn child.

At, a scientifically accurate description of prenatal development accompanies a breathtaking day-by-day view inside the womb.

Obama Crucified

A painting that features President Obama posed as Jesus Christ crucified is on display at a community college art gallery in Boston.

The painting by Michael D’Antuono is part of a larger exhibit called “Artists on the Stump – the Road to the White House 2012.” The painting is called “Truth” – and shows the president with his arms outstretched. A crown of thorns rests on his head.

D'Antuono states: “The crucifixion of the president was meant metaphorically,” he told Fox News. “My intent was not to compare him to Jesus.”

Read the full story at FOX News.

Here's what Bill Donohue, President of Catholic League, has to say about the painting:

Michael D’Antuono is a left-wing artist known for exploiting racial tensions (e.g, depicting George Zimmerman as a Klansman and Trayvon Martin as a generous child). But now he has succumbed to a new low.

D’Antuono’s painting of President Barack Obama with outstretched arms wearing a crown of thorns, against the backdrop of the Seal of the President of the United States, is called “Truth.” [Click here.] It is being hosted by the Bunker Hill Community College Arts Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts.

What makes this display so interesting is the flat denial of truth by so many artists and academicians, as well as their irrepressible hostility to Christianity. Yet when it comes to their savior, President Obama, they not only pivot, they proselytize.

“Truth” was supposed to make its debut on April 29, 2009 in New York’s Union Square; it was to commemorate the first 100 days of Obama’s presidency. But D’Antuono withdrew his masterpiece after being hit with angry e-mails. Now he is back, apparently thinking that after Obama won reelection, the time is ripe to witness his crucifixion. Imagine if his God had lost what our Christmas gift would look like.

It is one thing for the Italian nativity scene builder Ferrigno to include Obama as a figurine in this year’s crèche (it has regularly featured public persons such as Princess Diana), quite another for an angry artist to rip off Christian iconography for the purpose of making a cheap political statement.

Drop in abortion numbers could reflect changing attitudes

A new government report estimates the number of U.S. abortions dropped five percent in 2009, drawing praise from pro-life advocates and researchers who say the drop could be due in part to an increase in the numbers of pro-life Americans. Full Story.

Pope and Twitter: New tweets in December?

November 27, 2012. ( The Pope is no stranger to Twitter and now it seems like he could be using the social networking site more often. On Monday, December 3rd, the Vatican's communication department will discuss some of its new social media plans and that could very well include more posts from Benedict XVI on Twitter.

The Pope's first tweet was sent back in June 2011, when the Vatican's website, launched its new and improved site, The Pope's tweet read in part “Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedict XVI.”

He used twitter again during Lent. Then for World Communications Day, the Pope made a reference to twitter, by saying that even short, concise messages, sometimes no longer than a Bible verse, can lead to provoking thoughts and deep reflections.

YouCat Intro: The Brothers in Black


THE GREATEST MIRACLE, an animated film that explores the hope and faith of the Roman Catholic Mass, is available on home video now from Arc Entertainment. Pick it up at retail outlets across the country, or order it now from Ignatius Press. You can read my review here.

THE GREATEST MIRACLE is produced by Pablo Jose Barroso of Dos Corazones Productions, producer of the epic action adventure on Mexico's Cristero War, For Greater Glory. "We are very excited to bring THE GREATEST MIRACLE to home video," Barroso said. It tells a story that is founded in Catholic Church teaching … one that is bolstered daily by faithful people everywhere. Sometimes, we do not think about the mysterious things we cannot see. THE GREATEST MIRACLE portrays the unseen and miraculous events that unfold at every Mass."

The story focuses on three people who find themselves at the same Catholic Mass because of crises they are struggling to endure. Going to Mass is not new to any of them - but they need help to embrace its true meaning. THE GREATEST MIRACLE masterfully portrays the invisible realities of the Catholic faith.

THE GREATEST MIRACLE is directed by Bruce M. Morris, the visual writer of the animated hits Pocahontas and Hercules. He earned an Academy Award® nomination for his work on 2009's The Princess and the Frog. Oscar®-nominee Mark McKenzie, who orchestrated the score for Dances with Wolves, wrote the score for the film, which earned the 2011 Hollywood Music in Media Award for Best Original Score - Independent Film/Short/Documentary. McKenzie's work also includes Men in Black, Spiderman and Ice Age: The Meltdown.

Click here to visit the online newsroom and watch the trailer.

Click here to order online from Ignatius Press. 

Feast of the Miraculous Medal

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


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

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

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

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

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


Wearing the Medal

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

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

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


Invested membership involves these obligations:

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

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

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

4. Investiture which may be done publicly or privately


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

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

50 Stocking Stuffers for Men

Check out the most original stocking stuffers for men I have ever seen. There are some great gift ideas here. The above is just one of the fifty items you will find at The Art of Manliness.

Music Review: Christmas in the Cloister

As I write this review, I am continuing to listen to the beautiful blend of angelic voices of the Cistercian nuns from Massachusetts, who are singing their hearts out for Jesus. I love Gregorian chant, but wondered exactly how this recording would sound for Christmas.  As soon as I began listening to it, I knew that it was just perfect for Christmas. The Cistercian nuns of Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey sing with heavenly voices the Christmas Midnight Mass, which is mysteriously enchanting and meditative.  It is so uplifting and soothing to the soul that it makes me feel relaxed and peaceful – just the mood I yearn for during the busy season.

There are also ten Christmas carols which have an international flavor. Some of these include Silent Night from Austria, Susani, a German lullaby from the 16th century, the more lively Il est ne, from 17th century France, and the Coventry Carol from England. In Dulce Jubilo sung in both Latin and English is a cheerful, lively song that captures the upbeat mood of this joyful season for me.  I relished listening to all of these carols as well as the unforgettable Christmas Mass chant.  This makes for a special Christmas gift. In buying this CD, you not only do you get magnificent Christmas music, but you support a growing order of traditional Catholic cloistered nuns.

I highly recommend this CD for the Christmas season! 

For more information:

JADE Music 

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pope's Angelus: Pray for the new cardinals

November 26, 2012. ( After celebrating Sunday Mass with the six new cardinals, the Pope led the Angelus. On the day when the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Pope called on Christians to pray for the new cardinals.

“I invite everyone to pray for the six new cardinals created yesterday. May the Holy Spirit strengthen their faith and charity and fill them with spiritual gifts, so they may live with responsibility and dedication to Christ and His Kingdom.”

The Pope also emphasized the universal reach of the Church, since the six new cardinals are non-Europeans.

“These new members of the College of Cardinals represent very well,  the universal dimension of the Church. They are pastors in the churches of Lebanon, India, Nigeria, Colombia, the Philippines and one of them has long served the Holy See.”

With thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square, the Pope called on them to welcome God into their lives.

“On  the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Church invites us to contemplate the Lordship of the Risen Saviour and to pray for the coming of His Kingdom. May Christ’s peace always reign in your hearts!”

The Solemnity of Christ the King is celebrated on the last Sunday before the beginning of Advent, when one prepares for the coming of Christ on Christmas.

Supreme Court Orders New Look at Obamacare, Abortion Funding

Praise God! Obamacare is unconstitutional, as it forces taxpayers to fund abortions and contraception and violates religious liberty. Obamacare is just another trick this pro-death administration uses to get taxpayers to pay for abortions. It's about time someone saw through this ruse and used some common sense.

Via Steven Ertelt: 

The Supreme Court today ordered a federal appeals court to take a new look at the controversial Obamacare law and whether it unconstitutionally forces taxpayers to fund abortions and contraception, violating religious freedoms.

The high court ordered the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to consider the case of Liberty University, a Christian college that contends Obama’s health care law violates the school’s religious freedoms. A federal judge rejected the case and the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the lawsuit was premature but did not deal with the main points the lawsuit brought up.

Full Story

What Saint started the 'Stations of the Cross' in the Coliseum?

November 25, 2012. ( A few meters from Rome's Colosseum is the Franciscan convent of St. Boniface. Back in1696 Leonardo da Porto Maurizio, discovered his calling at the age of 20. He was a friar who in a way prevented the demolition of the Coliseum by giving it a religious sense.

He was appointed superior of the convent, but he actually decided to directly ask Pope Benedict XIV, if he could leave that position. His heart he said, was in preaching. He traveled Italy explaining the Gospel out in the streets with examples from everyday life. His preaching also made the Way of the Cross tradition more popular.

“At the time it was more of a prayer exercise,   but he asked for the Pope's permission to recite it in the vernacular. He did not invent the Way of the Cross, but he  was the first to give a name to each station, as we know them today.  Not in Latin but in the vernacular.”

This room, which was actually an infirmary, was built piece by piece, since the old convent was destroyed. It now includes key items like a habit, shoes and a very special crucifix.

“This room has the crucifix that he wore during some of his popular missions, some of them in Italian Churches or just out on the streets. He would always end his mission with a Way of the Cross.”

His efforts led to the construction of 500 Ways of the Cross around Italy, the most famous is in the Coliseum. On November 27th, 1750 it was inaugurated. It was the first time a religious celebration was held there.

“He wanted to build the Way of the Cross in the Colosseum in honor of the martyrs who lost their lives in Rome and the Colosseum. It was built, but destroyed a century later.”

When he led the Way of the Cross at the Coliseum back in 1750, a new tradition began.  That's actually why every Good Friday, the Pope prays the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum.

A year later, on November 26, 1751 Leonardo da Porto Maurizio died in the infirmary of the convent. Today, the room is used as a small chapel. Just another way to remember this patron saint of missions and his work, which has survived over the centuries.

Benedict XVI bestows ring and red crest upon six new cardinals

November 24, 2012. ( Benedict XVI created six new cardinals Saturday morning at St. Peter's Basilica, bestowing upon them the traditional gold ring and red crest.

The new cardinals include:

Bechara Boutros Raï, Maronite Patriarch of Antioch, from Lebanon.

Ruben Salazar Gomez, archbishop of Bogota, Colombia.

John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, archbishop of Abuja, Nigeria.

James Michael Harvey, from the United States. New archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Luis Antonio Tagle, archbishop of Manila, Philippines.

Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara in India.

Six new cardinals: various birettes, tears and African cheers in St. Peter's Basilica

November 24, 2012. ( The Consistory at St. Peter's Basilica to create six new cardinals lasted less than an hour. But the ceremony was full of emotions and several exotic touches.

The event was smaller than previous consistories under Benedict XVI, with the creation of six new cardinals. In the past, the smallest group he had created was 15. However, this Consistory was perhaps one of the most diverse, spanning three separate rites.

From the Latin rite, the Pope created cardinals Colombian Ruben Salazar Gomez, American James Michael Harvey, Nigerian John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, and Filipino Luis Antonio Tagle. From the Syro-Malankara rite, he created Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, from India as cardinal. And the Maronite rite is represented by its Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai, from Lebanon.

“In this Consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the Church is the Church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents. She is the Church of Pentecost: amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God”.

Diversity also broke through tradition when it comes to the cardinals attire. The Pope used three separate birettas, according to each prelate's rite. Benedict XVI explained that diversity reinforces unity within the Church.

“The new Cardinals, who represent different dioceses around the world, are henceforth associated by a special title with the Church of Rome, and in this way they reinforce the spiritual bonds that unite the whole Church, brought to life by Christ and gathered around the Successor of Peter”.

An emotional moment developed when Luis Antonio Tagle from Manila became tearful, after Benedict XVI made him cardinal.

The Pope himself was cheerful and smiled throughout a ceremony often interrupted by applause, and even traditional Nigerian cheers.

St. John Berchmans

The Saint of the Day for November 26 is St. John Berchmans.

This young saint of the Society of Jesus was born in Flanders, the oldest of five children. He grew up in an atmosphere of political turmoil caused by a religious war between the Catholic and Protestant sections of the Netherlands. He studied at the Gymnasium at Diest and worked as a servant in the household of Canon John Froymont at Malines in order to continue his studies.

In 1615, the Jesuits opened a college at Malines, and St. John Berchmans was one of the first to enter. He was an energetic student and was a leader among the students. In 1616, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Malines and came under the influence of Father Antoine Sucquet. The young Berchmans developed a strong and deep spirituality based on the loving practice of fidelity. St. Aloysius of Gonzaga was his spiritual model, and he was influenced as well by the example of the Jesuit English martyrs.

It was his realistic appreciation for the value of ordinary things, a characteristic of the Flemish mystical tradition, that constituted his holiness. He was affable, kind, and endowed with an outgoing personality that endeared him to everyone. In 1618, he was sent to Rome to study philosophy and was an exceptional student. He requested after ordination to become a chaplain in the army, hoping to be martyred on the battlefield.

In the summer of 1619, the intense heat of Rome started to affect his health and he began progressively to get weaker. The doctors could not determine what was wrong, and for two years he was continually sick, requiring medical care, and as the summer of 1621 came, it was clear that he would not last long. He died peacefully on August 13, 1621, and numerous miracles were attributed to him at the time of his funeral.

He was beatified by Pope Pius IX in 1865 and canonized by Pope Leo XIII in 1888. His body lies in the church of St. Ignatius in Rome, where Aloysius of Gonzaga is also buried.

~ Via EWTN.

Patron: Altar boys; altar servers; Oblate novices; young people.

Symbols: Standing with hands clasped, holding his crucifix, his book of rules, and his rosary.

Read more about the life and spirituality of St. John Berchmans.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Virginal Lily

Friday, November 23, 2012

Who are the new cardinals?

November 22, 2012. ( The Pope will soon create six new cardinals. For the time being, the number of papal electors will change to 120 members, though only for a few weeks. So who are the six cardinal-designates?

His Beatitude Béchara Boutros al-Rahï, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, from Lebanon, is the eldest of the new cardinals at 72 years old. He was elected Patriarch of the Maronites in the spring of 2011. During the Pope's recent visit to the Land of Cedars, he represented the country's largest Catholic community.

Ruben Salazar Gómez was appointed archbishop of Bogotá since July 2010, and President of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia since 2008. He is 70 years old and a bishop since 1992.

John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, has served as archbishop of Abuja since 1992. Born in Kabba, Nigeria, he is 68 years old and a bishop since 1982. He has chaired the Bishops' Conference of Nigeria, and the Association of the Member Episcopal Conferences of East Africa. He is described as one of the most charismatic bishops in Africa.

James Michael Harvey was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin 64 years ago. He's been Prefect of the Papal Household since 1998. Harvey's duties include setting the Pope's agenda and welcoming the heads of state. Following the consistory Benedict XVI will also appoint him the Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

Luis Antonio Tagle is archbishop of Manila (Philippines) since October 2011. He was ordained a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 2001. He is only 55 years old, and is the second youngest cardinal, surpassed by one of the other cardinal designates:

Baselios Cleemis Thottunkal, is 53 years old. He is the Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankara in India since 2007.

These are the new faces in the College of Cardinals. Not many, but their diverse backgrounds enriches the select group of men who have the responsibility of electing the next Pope.

The Third Pope

Blessed Miguel Agustín Pro

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Simple Prayer of Thanksgiving

Lord, today we thank You for Your many blessings and gifts to us. We thank You for the precious gift of family and friends -- for all those who are here with us today and those who are far away. Let us never take them for granted, but help us to show our love and for them daily through our words and actions.

Thank You for our faith and for the graces we receive so abundantly from You each day through participation in Holy Mass and in the sacraments. Thank You for the gift of being there for us always when we call upon You in prayer. Thank You especially for the gift of the Holy Eucharist, in which You give yourself completely to us and become small so that we might grow large in our love for You.

We thank You for showing Yourself to us in the beauty of nature -- in the heavenly blue skies, the birds that sing songs of praise to You, the sunlight, which reflects Your radiance, the mountaintops, which manifest Your grandeur. Thank You for the autumn harvest, the summer fields,  the spring blooms, and the winter snow. Thank You for your animal creatures and for our pets, who give us unconditional love. You placed them here on earth to give us affection. For this, we are grateful.

Thank You for the roof over heads and a warm place to sleep each night. Thank You for providing nourishing food. Thank You for all of the food on our table today. It is a feast for which we are truly overwhelmed.

We thank You for all those You have brought into our lives to lead us, to guide us, to instruct us, and to protect us. Thank You for the Holy Father, the cardinals, bishops, priests, sisters, and all our religious. Thank You for our Christian leaders in the government, for our military, and police. Thank You for teachers, counselors, and mentors. Bless each of them in a special way today, Lord.

Bless all who live and die today and especially our loved ones who are not with us today. Thank You for the gift of their lives and the time we had with them on earth.

Thank You most of all for the gift of Your infinite love, which is always there for us. Let us never take this for granted, but keep us always faithful to You and grant us the grace to know, love, and serve You with all our hearts, minds, and souls. We ask this in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

~ Copyright November 2012 Jean M. Heimann

Saint Cecilia

Today is the memorial of St. Cecilia, patron of singers, musicians, and poets, because she sang for God alone. She is praised as the perfect model of the Christian woman because of her virginity and the martyrdom which she suffered for love of Christ.

It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown. Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.

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

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

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

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

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

Prayers to St. Cecilia

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Feast of the Presentation of Mary

Today, November 21, is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary.

"God inspired in the heart of the pure Virgin Mary His own intense love for humility, and abhorrence of pride. She possessed, even from her infancy, a far greater horror of pride and ambition, and a far deeper love for humility than all the saints together. It was the first virtue that she practices. She abased and humbled herself before all. She esteemed herself, and would have been happy to be treated by others, as the last of the creatures. By marvelous radiance of her Immaculate Conception, she beheld herself susceptible to the guilt of the children of Adam, except that God miraculously preserved her, and she considered that she might have been capable of all the sins in the world, whose source is original sin. It was this humility which attracted to her the countless graces which rendered her worthy to be the Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth.

Give thanks to Almighty God who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble, and offer Him all the glory that this Maiden accorded to His majesty by her practice of the richest humility during her childhood and throughout the rest of her life."

~ St. John Eudes

What does the feast of the Presentation celebrate?

It celebrates the fact that the parents of Our Lady brought her to the Temple at the age of three and handed her over to live there for a long period as a virgin consecrated to the Temple, contemplating God exclusively.

What is the special beauty of this feast?

Our Lady was the one chosen before time began, the Queen of Jesse from whom the Messiah would be born. The Temple was the only place in the Old Testament where sacrifices were offered to God. It represented, therefore, the only true religion. Our Lady being received at the Temple was the first step to the fulfillment of the promise that the Messiah would come to the true religion. It was the encounter of hope with reality. When she was received at the Temple, Our Lady entered the service of God. That is, a soul incomparably holy entered the service of God. At that moment, notwithstanding the decadence of the nation of Israel, and even though the Temple had been transformed into a den of Pharisees, the Temple was filled with an incomparable light that was the sanctity of Our Lady. It was in the Temple atmosphere that, without knowing it, she began to prepare herself to be the Mother of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It was there that she increased her love of God until she formed the ardent desire for the imminent coming of the Messiah. It was there that she asked God the honor to be the maidservant of His Mother. She did not know that she was the one chosen by God. This is so true that she wondered about the meaning of the salutation of the Archangel Gabriel when he greeted her to ask her permission for the Incarnation. That preparation for Our Lady to be the Mother of Jesus Christ began with the Presentation at the Temple, the feast the Church celebrates on November 21.

Is there a grace we should ask on this day?

We should ask for spiritual help to be better prepared to serve God as Our Lady did. But the best way to serve God is to serve Our Lady herself. So, on this feast day we should re-present ourselves before Our Lady, asking her to receive our offer of service and to give us her assistance in the task of our sanctification, just as the Holy Ghost helped her at the Temple of Jerusalem.

~ Prof. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What is a cardinal?

November 20, 2012. ( Cardinals are the Pope's main advisers.  They are also the ones who choose a new Pope in a conclave during the so called “Sede Vacante” period. The word derives from the Latin 'cardo' meaning hinge, or fulcrum.

They are appointed directly by Pope and not always because of any particular merits. In fact that's why the verb 'made' is often used to describe their elevation to cardinal.

Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints
“Cardinals make up a group of bishops who work in directly and in a very special way with the Holy Father, in what is basically the government of the Universal Church. Cardinals are the Pope's direct and immediate advisers.”

The occasion when the Pope officially elevates the new cardinals is called a Consistory of Cardinals. And at the ceremony they are given a ring and red biretta.

Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints
“The cardinal's ring symbolisez unity, so it represents the Cardinal's marriage with the Church.”

They are called princes of the Church because they are the closest collaborators of the Pope. A title and a recognition that is also evident in the red sash and biretta. In addition, the color is unique and it distinguishes them from other priests and bishops. Red reminds them that they are willing to die for Christ and His Church and even shed their blood for it. It’s a special recognition that brings with it a great responsibility.

Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints
“Cardinals wear red because it's a way to express that they are always ready and willing to die for Christ, for the faith and for the Church. In short, they are ready to be martyrs.”

The Cardinals often lead major dioceses in the world, but their unique responsibility is voting in a conclave. It's part of an election process that is carried out under the strictest secrecy. Failure to comply can even result in excommunication. A maximum of 120 cardinals under the age of 80 can vote in the conclave to elect the new Pope of the Catholic Church.

Prefect Emeritus, Congregation for the Causes of Saints
“All cardinals have this extremely delicate responsibility. It's very important, because really it's something decisive for the Church. Of course, choosing the future Pope it's extremely important.”

And although it is not as well known to the public, cardinals also have the privilege of requesting an audience with the Pope.

Pope's book on the infancy of Jesus released

November 20, 2012. ( In his latest book, Benedict XVI takes on a new approach to write about the infancy of Jesus. The Pope relies on the historical information found in the Gospel and then explains those details through the lens of faith. He says the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is not a children's story, but rather a story that's still quite relevant for modern times.

The volume was presented at the Vatican. Even though the Pope didn't attend the ceremony, his personal secretary, Georg Gänswein did. Also there was Angelo Becciu, from the Secretariat of State.

Interestingly the book begins with Pontius Pilate asking Jesus, who He is and where He comes from.  The Pope then recounts episodes of the birth of Jesus, the slaughter of the innocent and the visit of the three Wise Men.

President, Pontifical Council for Culture
“The origins of Christ are not just about these historical coordinates. The origin is quite deeper than that. In his book, the Pope says he wants to address and respond to this issue.”

Theologian,  Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro
“The Pope says 'it's not enough to leave the text of the Gospel as something of the past or as something that happened long ago.' His intention is to lead the reader to an updated message of salvation based on the Infancy of Christ.”

President, Rizzoli Editorial
“It's not just a book about Jesus, written by a great pastor. It is a book by Joseph Ratzinger, a person who will go down in the history of European culture.”

The book titled 'The Infancy Narratives' is not a
theology or history book. In it, the Pope analyzes  180 versus in the Gospel, where Matthew and Luke write about Jesus' childhood. He then invites the reader to apply the information and message to their personal lives.

This is actually the third and last book of the Pope's trilogy series 'Jesus of Nazareth.' He began the project, before he was elected Pope. In his spare time, including the summer, he kept on writing.

Even though it may be too early to say, this probably won't be the Pope's last book. But only time will tell if Joseph Ratzinger has additional books in the works.