Thursday, January 31, 2013

Benedict XVI call to prayer in February for migrants, victims of armed conflict

January 31, 2013. ( The Vatican released the Pope's prayer intentions for the month of February, focusing on migrant families, as well as people living under armed conflict.

For the general prayer intentions, Benedict XVI asks to pray for the migrants families, but especially for the mothers, to help get them through difficult situations.

For the missionary intentions, the Pope called for prayer for all the peoples living in war zones or armed conflict, to aid them in becoming agents for peace.

Republican Party Backs De-Funding Planned Parenthood

The Republican Party is now officially on record as supporting the de-funding of the taxpayer-supported Planned Parenthood abortion business. On Friday, top GOP officials at the RNC approved a measure supporting efforts to revoke its taxpayer funding.

As longtime pro-life and Republican attorney Jim Bopp informed LifeNews, the The Republican National Committee passed a resolution to end “any and all” taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, the nation’s biggest abortion company, and to send money to legitimate women’s health care efforts instead. Read more.

Boy Scouts of America Needs to Hear from You!

Via Liberty Alert:

We need your help to call the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) board members and tell them that boys should not be pawns in adult sexual controversies. Scouts should be allowed to participate in healthy, wholesome activities without fear of predation or moral confusion.

On Monday, the BSA Board of Directors will hold an annual meeting to discuss whether to change the policy and allow homosexual Scouts and Scoutmasters. “People like Jerry Sandusky should not be permitted to be Scoutmasters. To allow homosexual Scoutmasters or homosexual Scouts will put young boys at risk. The mere thought is ridiculous,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.

It is imperative that you call the board members and kindly urge them to stand true to the Scout oath being “physically strong” against social pressure, “mentally awake” against political correctness, and “morally straight” with the best interest of boys in mind.

The Boy Scouts are an icon throughout America’s culture of honesty, purity, and helpfulness. Their stand for traditional values and moral purity has influenced more than 110 million members of the Boy Scouts of America. Despite challenges on every level, including the U.S. Supreme Court, BSA has held true to its traditional values on morality.

Please call the members of the BSA Board of Directors and kindly ask them to to stand strong for traditional American values while mentoring young men.

Select BSA Board Members:
David L. Beck: (801) 240-1000

R. Thomas Buffenbarger: (310) 967-4500

Keith A. Clark: (717) 763-1121

William F. "Rick" Cronk: (925) 283-7229

John C. Cushman III: (904) 393-9020

R. Michael Daniel: (412) 297-4989

Jack D. Furst: (972) 982-8250

T. Michael Goodrich: (205) 328-9445 ext. 200

Earl G. Graves: (212) 242-8000

Aubrey B. Harwell Jr.: (615) 244-1713

Stephen Hemsley: (800) 328-5979

Larry W. Kellner: (713) 468-4050

Robert J. LaFortune: (918) 582-2981

Joseph P. Landy: (212) 878-0600

Francis R. McAllister: (406) 373-8700

Scott D. Oki: (425) 454-2800

Arthur F. Oppenheimer: (208) 343-4883

Tico A. Perez: (407) 849-1235

Robert H. Reynolds: (317) 231-7227

Matthew K. Rose: (909) 386-4140

Nathan O. Rosenberg: (949) 494-4553

Roger M. Schrimp: (209) 526-3500

Marshall M. Sloane: (781) 395-3000

Rex W. Tillerson: (972) 444-1000

David M. Weekley: (713) 659-8111

Togo D. West, Jr.: (202) 775-1775

Editorial: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity are Not Human Rights

By Austin Ruse

WASHINGTON DC, February 1 (C-FAM) Policy makers around the world are regularly informed by seemingly authoritative sources that "sexual orientation and gender identity" are new categories of non-discrimination in international law.

What this means is that national and international laws have to change to accept the idea that homosexuality and its various permutations including transvestitism cannot be discriminated against in any way. Read More

Changes in abortion language, laws seen as pro-life progress

Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life

(CNA/EWTN News).- Amid changing abortion rhetoric and significant legislative advances, a group of legal experts in the nation’s capital said that they are confident in the future of the pro-life movement.

“In this epic struggle,” said Dr. Charmaine Yoest, president of Americans United for Life, “my money’s on the baby.”

Hosting a Jan. 24 symposium in Washington, D.C., Yoest and other speakers discussed changes in rhetoric surrounding the abortion debate, as well as growing legislative efforts in the 40 years since the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision established a “right” to abortion nationwide.

Much of the discussion focused on changes to tactics used by abortion advocates over the years.

Yoest explained that while pro-life advocates have been consistent in delivering a message of “defending life,” the abortion movement has changed the way it framed its arguments numerous times.

In the 1970s, she said, abortion advocates relied upon the “right to privacy” and emphasized that banning the procedure would lead to an increase in “back-alley abortions” and dangerous illegal procedures.

Today, however, abortion is seen as “reproductive freedom” and the “irreducible minimum of feminine empowerment,” she continued. The procedure is now supported as necessary for “equality and opportunity for all women,” and some have even tried to rebrand it as a means by which women can feel connected to one another.

In a further push to make abortion appear “morally neutral” and universal, the idea of “choice” is now being abandoned as well, Yoest said, pointing out that if abortion is necessary for women’s empowerment, it is logical to have every American pay for it, leaving behind any “choice” in the participation.

“What they could not win through choice they intend to impose through coercion,” she commented.

Read more.

St. John Bosco, priest and patron of youth

Today, January 31, the Church celebrates the life of St. John Bosco, priest and patron of youth.

He was born in Piedmont, Italy of a peasant family, and he was brought up by his widowed mother. John became a priest, and his particular concern was for the young. He settled in Turin, where, as in so many cities in the 19th century, the industrial revolution was bringing enormous movements of population and consequent social problems, especially for the young men who came there to work. John Bosco devoted himself to the care of the young, first of all by means of evening classes, to which hundreds came, and then by setting up a boarding-house for apprentices, and then workshops for their training and education. Despite many difficulties, caused both by the anti-clerical civil authorities and by the opposition of some senior people within the Church, his enterprise grew, and by 1868 over 800 boys and young men were under his care. To ensure the continuation of his work, he founded a congregation, which he named after St Francis de Sales (a saint for whom he had great admiration), and today the Salesians continue his work all over the world.

For a more detailed biography, go here.

Patron: Apprentices; boys; editors; Mexican young people; laborers; schoolchildren; students; young people.

Collect: Lord, you called John Bosco to be a teacher and father to the young. Fill us with love like his: may we give ourselves completely to your service and to the salvation of mankind. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Quotes from St. John Bosco:

"Do you want Our Lord to give you many graces? Visit Him often. Do you want Him to give you few graces? Visit him seldom. Visits to the Blessed Sacrament are powerful and indispensable means of overcoming the attacks of the devil. Make frequent visits to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and the devil will be powerless against you.”

“This was the method that Jesus used with the apostles. He put up with their ignorance and roughness and even their infidelity. He treated sinners with a kindness and affection that caused some to be shocked, others to be scandalized and still others to hope for God’s mercy. And so He bade us to be gentle and humble of heart.”

“Your reward in heaven will make up completely for all your pain and suffering.”

"All for God and for His Glory. In whatever you do, think of the Glory of God as your main goal."

"Everything and everyone is is won by the sweetness of our words and works."

"Every virtue in your soul is a precious ornament which makes you dear to God and to man. But holy purity, the queen of virtues, the angelic virtue, is a jewel so precious that those who possess it become like the angels of God in Heaven, even though clothed in mortal flesh."

Redemptive Suffering

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Some US bishops ready to defy HHS mandate, risk jail

Archbishop-elect Alexander Sample speaks with John-Henry Westen, LifeSiteNews' editor-in-chief

In interviews with LifeSite News, three American Catholic bishops said that they were prepared to go to jail rather than accept implementation of the contraceptive mandate in the Obama administration’s health-care reform policy.

Bishop Alexander Sample of Marquette, Michigan (recently named to become Archbishop of Portland, Oregon); Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh; and Archbishop Samuel Aquila of Denver said that they would risk prison rather than accept the terms of the Obama mandate.

When he was asked the same question, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, DC, declined to give a direct response. Saying that he still hoped for an agreement with the Obama administration that would defuse the conflict, the cardinal said: “We take this one day at a time, and I'm hopeful that we're going to be able to resolve this.”


Vatican Apostolic Library uploads 256 digitized manuscripts

January 30, 2013. ( Texts, letters and manuscripts previously available only to experts with access to the Vatican's Library are now just a click away.

The 256 documents are the first to be made available to anyone, simply by logging on to the website of the Vatican Apostolic Library. But the project is much more ambitious.

Prefect, Vatican Apostolic Library (Nov. 24, 2011)
“It will be all of the manuscripts. To be more precise, all of the manuscripts that are conserved within the manuscript deposit in the Library. There are about 80,000.”

The project started in late 2011, and employs the use of technology from NASA to digitize the documents. But, it will take years.

Once finished, the files will use up approximately 4.5 million gigabytes in the Vatican Library's external hard-drive.

Pope's General Audience: Why we call God, Father

January 30, 2013. ( During Wednesday's general audience, Benedict XVI reflected on why God is called 'Father.' The Pope explained that the Gospel uses the term to reflect on the generosity, forgiveness and mercy of a parent.

The Pope also added that when parents find themselves having trouble caring and raising their children, they too, can seek the example of God, the Father, to overcome these challenges.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our continuing catechesis during this Year of Faith, we now reflect on the Creed’s description of God as “the Father Almighty”.  Despite the crisis of fatherhood in many societies, the Scriptures show us clearly what it means to call God “Father”.

God is infinitely generous, faithful, and forgiving; he so loves the world that he has given us his only Son for our salvation.
As “the image of the invisible God” (Col 1:15), Jesus reveals God as a merciful Father who never abandons his children and whose loving concern for us embraces even the Cross.  In Christ, God has made us his adopted sons and daughters.  The Cross shows also us how God our Father is “almighty”.

His omnipotence transcends our limited human concepts of power; his might is that of a patient love expressed in the ultimate victory of goodness over evil, life over death, and freedom over the bondage of sin.  As we contemplate the Cross of Christ, let us turn to God the almighty Father and implore the grace to abandon ourselves with confidence and trust to his merciful love and his saving power.

I offer a warm welcome to the priests taking part in the Institute for Continuing Theological Education at the Pontifical North American College.  Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from the Republic of Korea, Canada and the United States of America, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

St. Hyacintha Mariscotti

The saint of the day for January 30th is St. Hyacintha Mariscotti (1585-1640), a religious of the Third Order of St. Francis and foundress of the Sacconi, also known as the Oblates of Mary.

Born of a wealthy, noble family near Viterbo, Italy, Hyacintha was pious in her early youth, but, as she grew older became frivolous, vain, and proud of her rank. When her younger sister married the man she desired as her spouse, she became disappointed and depressed. She sought refuge from her sorrows in a Franciscan convent. However, when she entered the convent, she refused to give up the luxuries of the world, but instead arrived at the convent with her own personal servants and chef. She came with a full supply of food, wore garments of the finest materials, and demanded a full suite of rooms, which she decorated lavishly. She received both male and female visitors at her pleasure. Thus, she lived a very worldly and luxurious life amid those who had pledged themselves to lives of poverty and penance. She lived this way for ten years, contrary to her vows, and was a source of scandal to the community.

One day, confined to bed due to illness, Hyacintha sent for her Confessor, who refused to enter her boudoir, when he saw how lavishly decorated it was. He warned her that there was no place for fools in heaven and strongly encouraged her to live a more humble life. Following this encounter, Hyacintha resolved to change her ways. She made a public confession, moved to a small, dilapidated cell, discarded her fine clothes, dressed in habits disposed of by the other nuns, went barefoot, and prayed and fasted. She developed strong devotions to the Mother of God, to the Holy Infant Jesus, to the Blessed Eucharist, and to the sufferings of Christ. Eventually, the sister who had once been a source of scandal was elected vice-superior and mistress of novices by her fellow sisters -- becoming their mentor and model of holiness. She founded two confraternities, whose members were known as the Sacconi or the Oblates of Mary. One of these groups collected alms for the poor and cared for prisoners; the other provided homes for the elderly. Hyacintha was beatified by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726, and canonized in 1807, by Pius VII., who proclaimed that through her charity, she had “converted more souls than many preachers of her time.”

Reflection: Let us ask God to help us draw others to Him by living out the virtues of charity and humility in our lives.

Prayer: Lord, give me the courage and conviction to change my heart so that I may become more humble and more charitable toward others in imitation of St. Hyacintha. Please help my actions be a source of inspiration to others. Amen.

~ copyright January 2012, Jean M. Heimann

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Portland's new Catholic archbishop sees unchurched state as a challenge

The next Catholic archbishop of Portland comes with a Twitter account, a Facebook page and the relatively youthful perspective of a person born in 1960. At 52,  the youngest prelate to be named an archbishop in the United States, the Most Rev. Alexander K. Sample  says he's ready for the challenge of an unchurched state.
At a press conference Tuesday, Sample, who has been bishop of Marquette, Mich.,  for seven  years, said some people see Oregon as a tough place to be Catholic.

"I see it as fertile ground to plant the seeds of a new evangelization," he said. The facts that Catholics account for about 14 percent of Oregonians and that almost 24  percent of the state's population don't identify as members of a particular church don't discourage him.

"I want to connect those who are longing in their hearts for spirituality with the one whom I believe is an answer to that longing, Jesus Christ."

Sample also promised to speak out on moral issues addressed by Catholic Church teaching.

"I won't look for reasons to grandstand," he said, "but when something has to be said, I'll say it."

Read more.

Image Source

Law professor says pro-life views must lead to cultural action

Jan 29, 2013  (CNA/EWTN News).- Americans who wish to be truly pro-life must be willing to examine the philosophical and cultural implications of these views, said George Mason University law professor Helen Alvaré.

Being involved in the pro-life movement, she said, “will lead you places where you’ll be surprised to go, because abortion is not a single issue.”

Alvaré delivered the keynote address at the Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life on Jan. 26, explaining to participants that if they want to “keep the integrity” of their positions, they must be willing to take action on social and philosophical issues connected to abortion.

Hosted annually at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., the Cardinal O’Connor Conference for Life is the largest student-run pro-life conference in the United States.

Alvaré, who was speaking at the conference for the third time since it began in 2000, told the 650 student participants that being pro-life may lead them to investigate the modern understanding of human rights and freedom.

In typical human rights discourse, she observed, weakness and disability are seen as a reason to extend “greater care” to people, “not as a premise for their destruction.”

However, under current abortion laws, she noted, it is permissible for the vulnerable to be killed “when you’re killed by a member of your own family.”

Alvaré explained that this radical re-imagining of human rights hinges on a revised definition of freedom as action without imposition or inconvenience from anyone else. But this definition, she warned, would eventually “take us to a really, really sorry place” where any kind of human relation is seen as an imposition upon freedom.

Paradoxically, she noted, women do not walk into an abortion clinic “feeling empowered” or free, but rather feeling like they have no other options.

The assumption that motherhood is “unacceptable” has made women dependent on abortion, she said, and this dependence has been enshrined in U.S. laws and culture so deeply that the Supreme Court has said that “women cannot order their lives” without abortion on-demand.
A pro-life position will also lead one to reconsider the ethical, class and race issues surrounding abortion, Alvaré observed.

Abortion advocates such as Sandra Fluke and Cecile Richards present abortion as a tool for relieving the economic burden on poor and minority women, she noted, but in reality, the cultural misunderstanding of sex has harmed the poor.

“Sex is not just tennis,” Alvaré reminded the students, adding that sexual intimacy cannot be purely recreational.

Sex produces babies – a fact that is often ignored – and is also for bonding and forming relationships, she explained. After more than four decades of promoting unrestricted contraception and abortion, there are still troubling rates of single motherhood and women in poverty, she said.

Rather than empower women, Alvaré underscored, the push for free contraceptives and abortions has made the situation worse, contributing to increased levels of  infidelity, sexually-transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies among poor and minority populations.

Read more.

National Catholic Bible Conference 2013

You can register for the conference here.

World Day of Sick: The economic crisis calls us to be Good Samaritans

January 29, 2013. ( On Tuesday, the Vatican issued the Pope´s message for World Day of the Sick, which will take place this year on February 11, 2013 at the Marian Shrine of Altotting in Bavaria.

Through his message, Benedict XVI encourages people to become a Good Samaritan, citing Jesus as the ultimate example of a person who helps total strangers and asks nothing in return.

The prsident of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Health Care Workers, says being a Good Samaritan is more important now than ever, given the current economic instability.

President, Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers
 “Volunteering is also very important in many countries, especially today with the crisis. We can't finance everything for everybody, but we can offer ourselves to others. This, I think, is the definition of being a Good Samaritan. That message of 'go and do likewise.'”

This year´s event will take place in the Pope's native Germany. In addition, sick patients and medical personnel attending the event, directly or from a distance, will be granted indulgences.

Liberty Counsel defends traditional marriage in U.S. Supreme Court

Today, Liberty Counsel is filing two amicus briefs with the United States Supreme Court on two marriage cases, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) ( U.S. v. Windsor) and California’s Proposition 8 ( Hollingsworth v. Perry), a state marriage amendment. The High Court will decide both cases by the end of the term in June 2013.

America’s very existence is at stake.  Marriage is not simply an artifact of law to regulate Social Security benefits, but an institution of God to procreate and nurture perpetual generations. The natural family is fundamental to our very existence. Thriving societies need healthy children who grow up into responsible citizens. Healthy children require committed parents who will sacrifice their own desires for the well-being of their children. This is all created within the context of natural marriage between one man and one woman.

Please pray that the Supreme Court defends the natural definition of marriage during this pivotal point in America's history.

Read the News Release for more details.

Gospel Reflection: Who are my Mother and Brothers?

St. Gildas the Wise

The saint of the day for January 29 is Saint Gildas the Wise, a sixth century British monk.

Gildas, surnamed “the Wise,” was born in Scotland around the year 516 to a noble family. He was educated under St. Iltus in Wales and was a companion of St. Samson and St. Peter of Leon. He was drawn to the monastic life and moved to Ireland to pursue such a life.

While in Ireland he was ordained to the priesthood. He apparently spent some time in Armagh and north Britain. King Ainmire invited him to return to Ireland where he built monasteries and churches and greatly inspired others by his teaching. He is compared to David and Cadoc by the Irish annalists in his giving a special Mass to the second order of Irish saints.

There are recordings of a pilgrimage he made to Rome. On his return, he decided to spend time alone and retired to the Isle of Houat, off Brittany, where he lived in solitude praying and studying. When it was discovered that he was there, he was asked to establish a monastery at Rhuys on the mainland. It was at this monastery that Gildas wrote his famous epistle to the British kings. He died at Houat, Brittany, in 570.


Gildas is the patron of churches and monasteries in Brittany and other locations. He is regarded as the earliest British historian. Copies of his writings are preserved in the Cambridge University Library.


Saint Gildas, we thank you for your wisdom and the legacy you left for your countrymen and brethren in the faith. We pray for your intercession to help us live saintly lives so that when our days are done here we may join you and our Lord for eternity. Amen.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Pope presses importance of faith in the strength of marriage during speech to Roman Rota

January 28, 2013. ( Benedict XVI met with the members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, the highest appellate court for the Catholic Church. During his speech, he addressed the Year of Faith by talking about the relationship between faith and marriage. The Pope explained that the strength of a family is very closely tied to faith.  

“The current crisis of faith that affects various areas of the world, bearing with it a crisis of conjugal society, with all the suffering and discomfort that this bring upon the children.”

The Pope explained that the lack of faith does not prevent a marriage from becoming valid, because the Church only requires that the union between husband and wife meets the traits of a “natural marriage.” Those traits are that it lasts for a lifetime, that it be open to life, and that they the good in each other.

However, he also talked about the risks of having those traits of natural marriage severed by what he described as the moral and religious relativism in modern society.

Pope marks Holocaust Remembrance, describes it as 'constant reminder'

January 28, 2013. ( The Pope released a couple of doves on Sunday's Angelus as a sign of peace, as he also marked the Holocaust Remembrance Day. Thousands of people gathered at St. Peter's Square to hear him honor the estimated six million victims killed during the Nazi era.

“The memory of this immense tragedy, which above all struck so harshly the Jewish people, must represent for everyone a constant warning so that the horrors of the past are not repeated, all forms of hatred and racism overcome and respect and dignity of the human person promoted."

Soon after his remarks on the Holocaust, the Pope also released two doves as a sing of peace.
During the Angelus, Benedict XVI also talked about the importance of keeping Sunday as a day devoted to family and to the worship of God.

He says prayer and worship allows people a direct link to God and allows them to nourish their faith, and learn how to apply His teachings to every day life.

Book Review: Angela's Song

Angela’s Song
Author: AnnMarie Creedon
Full Quiver Publishing
Paperback: 270 pages

Angela’s Song by AnnMarie Creedon is a beautiful and captivating love story set in modern day times in a small town in Missouri.  It is the story of Angela (Jel) Cooke, a pretty Italian-American widow and mother of three, who is lonely, despite her active schedule. In fact, she keeps herself overly involved in her church ministries to avoid dealing with the fact that her marriage was damaged and her husband, Devin, died before it could be repaired. When she meets Jack, the professor of a theology class she is taking, her pain is transparent to him and he challenges her to deal with it. Although Jel is attracted to Jack, she is hardly ready to become involved in a new relationship.  What follows is the touching, often amusing tale of how Angela heals and becomes whole again – able to love herself and others.

Once I began reading this novel, I found it hard to put down. Creedon captured my attention through her intimate style of writing, which took me directly into Jel’s innermost thoughts and feelings. Jel is someone who is easy to identify with and to have empathy for – she’s the girl next door, your classmate, your best friend. She’s bright, thoughtful, considerate, yet slightly flawed. She is the great mom who loves God and her family and is good at helping others solve their problems, but doesn’t even recognize or acknowledge her own. The characters in this novel were so realistically portrayed that I felt as if I already knew each of them.

What attracted me most about Angela’s Song is that is authentically Catholic and is based on the Catholic teachings of the theology of the body. It is actually theology of the body in the applied sense of the term. It does not force Catholic teachings on the reader, but gently indulges with a beautiful, romantic story of selfless, life-giving love.

Angela’s Song will be especially appealing to adolescent and adult women, but a truly wise man would take the time to read this novel to better understand his significant other and how to treat her. I believe that, in addition to recreational reading, this book would be a wonderful supplement for discussion in theology of the body classes, marriage preparation classes, and marriage counseling.

~  © Jean M. Heimann, 2013

St. Thomas Aquinas

Today is the feast of Saint Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century Dominican priest, philosopher, and theologian. As a Doctor of the Church, he has been given the title "Angelic Doctor" and is the patron of Catholic universities and schools. St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, the Summa Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. St. Thomas reflected the Dominican ideal. He was a true contemplative who shared the fruits of contemplation with others.

Born of a noble family in southern Italy, Thomas was educated by the Benedictines. He was a superior student and surpassed his classmates in learning as well as in the practice of virtue.

When he became old enough to choose his state of life, Thomas renounced the things of this world and chose to enter the Order of St. Dominic in spite of the opposition of his family, who had expected him to become a Benedictine. At the age of seventeen, he joined the Dominicans of Naples. His mother, determined to change this, rushed to Naples to consult with her son, but the Dominicans sent him to Rome, on the way to Paris or Cologne. She then instructed his brothers to capture Thomas and confine him in the fortress of San Giovanni at Rocca Secca. He remained "imprisoned" by family members for a two year period in an attempt to prevent him from assuming the Dominican habit and to force him into renouncing his decision. They even went so far as to tempt him with a prostitute. When the woman entered his room, Thomas chased her out with a piece of burning wood from the fire. Following this event, he prayed to God, asking for purity of mind and body. Two angels appeared to him in a dream, to assure him that his prayers had been answered and that God was giving him the gift of perfect chastity. Thus, he earned the title 'Angelic Doctor.' All of the family's efforts proved to be in vain, as Thomas was given the grace to remain pure and to persevere in his vocation.

Thomas studied in Paris and in Cologne under the great philosopher St Albert the Great. Here he was nicknamed the "dumb ox" because of his silent ways and huge size, but he was actually a brilliant student. At the age of twenty-two, he was appointed to teach in the same city. At the same time, he also began to publish his first works. After four years he was sent to Paris. The saint was then a priest. At the age of thirty-one, he received his doctorate.

Thomas spent the rest of his life studying, praying, teaching, writing, composing hymns, and traveling. During his lifetime, he produced 60 works within less than 50 years.

Thomas made a great synthesis of philosophy and theology. He combined the revelation of scriptures with a "framework" of Aristotle and the notion of participation of Plato. This synthesis is called Thomistic philosophy or "Scholasticism" and has remained the official theology of the Church since the 13th century.

He died on March 7, 1274 and was canonized by Pope John XXII on July 18, 1323 - less than 50 years after his death.

Patron: Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; book sellers; Catholic academies; Catholic schools; Catholic universities; chastity; colleges; learning; lightning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; schools; storms; students; theologians; universities; University of Vigo.

Related Post: St. Thomas Aquinas: My Favorite Quotes and A Spiritual Meditation

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Amazing Video: March for Life 2013 in Washington, D.C.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sts. Timothy and Titus

Today, January 26, is the memorial of Sts. Timothy and Titus.

St. Paul was so influential and attractive a personality that he was able to draw such different types of men as Timothy and Titus and to make them his collaborators. Timothy and Titus were converted to Christianity by St Paul, and became his companions and helpers. They were were two of the most beloved and trusted disciples of St. Paul, whom they accompanied in many of his journeys.

Paul made both men bishops and entrusted Timothy with the care of the Christians in Ephesus, and sent Titus to Crete to look after the Christians there. He wrote them “pastoral” epistles, giving advice for pastors and people alike.

Timothy was St. Paul's confidant. St. Timothy has been regarded by some as the "angel of the church of Ephesus", Rev 2:1-17.

Titus was the negotiator, the one St. Paul sent to clear up misunderstandings, reconcile differences, and the one who would organize a new Church. He received a letter from St. Paul which encouraged Christians to live temperate, just, and devout lives, while awaiting the coming of Christ.

St. Timothy was stoned to death thirty years after St. Paul's martyrdom for having denounced the worship of the goddess Diana. Tradition tells us that St. Titus died a natural death at the age of 94, having lived in the state of virginity during his whole life.

Patronage: St. Timothy is the patron saint of intestinal disorders and stomach diseases. St. Titus is the patron of Crete.

Collect: God our Father, you gave your saints Timothy and Titus the courage and wisdom of the apostles: may their prayers help us to live holy lives and lead us to heaven, our true home. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

“But when the kindness and generous love of God our Savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life. This saying is trustworthy” ~Titus 3:4-8

Hundreds of thousands join record-breaking U.S. March for Life

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 25, 2013, ( – Huddled under winter coats and hats and scarves, hundreds of thousands of pro-life activists gathered on the Mall in Washington D.C. this morning to send a clear message to politicians in the Capitol, and the whole country: 40 years is too long, abortion must end! But despite the frigid January temperatures, the crowd, made up largely of teens and young adults, was boisterous, with many groups chanting pro-life slogans and singing hymns as they walked.

This year's March marked the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, since which an estimated 55 million babies have been killed by abortion in America.

While accurate estimates of the number of attendees at the march are hard to come by, organizers had said in the days leading up to the event that all signs pointed to a record-breaking crowd. Hotels in the D.C area sold out far in advance of when they normally do, and organizers installed two jumbotrons just to ensure that all marchers could get a glimpse of what was happening on the stage.

Last year's march was estimated at around 400,000 participants, likely putting this year's at the half million mark, or even beyond. The popularity of the event could be seen on social media, with the March for Life trending on Twitter for a time in the early afternoon, and Facebook exploding with photos and status updates from attendees.

Read more.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Ask Fr. Barron: What to say to Catholics who struggle with Church teaching?

St. Paul's Conversion and My Own Conversion Story

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, which gives us occasion to reflect on our own faith journey and our own conversion experiences. How do we relate to Paul’s conversion story?

St. Paul's Conversion

Paul was the most ferocious enemy of the Church, who as a zealous Jew and Pharisee was persecuting Christians during the first century. Paul rooted out Christians in the synagogues, taking them into Jerusalem in chains to have them persecuted. In fact, he even assisted in the stoning of St. Stephen, the first martyr. Then, suddenly, without warning, as he is traveling on the road to Damascus, he hears the voice of God speaking to Him, is blinded by a bright light, and is knocked off his horse. While Paul was an intellectual, a learned Rabbi, a great theologian, his conversion experience was hardly an intellectual one. He was not converted by reason, by an acceptance of Christian ideas, nor was he swayed over by Christian apologetics, but his was a deeply spiritual experience.

My Own Conversion Story

As I reflect on my own conversion, it was hardly an intellectual experience, but a mysterious work of God. It was 1987. Both my mother and younger sister had been diagnosed with breast cancer that year. My parents were living in Texas and I was living in Illinois. I was working as a School Psychologist at a special education cooperative there and went to visit my parents on my Easter break. I had left the Church fifteen years earlier and had now joined my parents for the Good Friday liturgy at their parish.

We were affectionately greeted by their deacon and a nun in full habit, who seemed so jovial and loving.  This impressed me, as I wasn't used to seeing people greet one another this way in my daily environment. Usually, people were pleased or relieved to see me and immediately began sharing their problems or concerns with me and it was my job to solve them. My dad (who had emphysema and bursitis, and later, lung cancer) insisted on pushing my mom's wheelchair into church. During the liturgy, we watched a dramatic depiction of the Passion, which was re-enacted on the altar with what appeared to be professional actors (members of the parish) that was heart-wrenching. I felt Christ's pain and His deep love for me. I felt so unworthy and so guilty for my sins -- something I had not felt in a long time.

Of course, I had been raised Catholic and taught to say my prayers at the age of three. I had attended daily Mass when I was a student at my Catholic parochial school. I also made daily visitations to the Blessed Sacrament after school. I regularly attended the annual vocation days held at McCormick Place in Chicago for junior high students considering a religious vocation and had a strong desire to become a nun, like my aunt and my cousin and the teaching nuns I admired so much. By the time I was a senior in high school, I began to have other ambitions. Although I was very active in my Catholic faith, I began to wonder what it would be like to live in the world and experience life like I thought other people (who, unlike my family, had money) did. Our family life revolved around school and church-related activities -- our Catholic faith was our life. Still, I was curious about things outside of our small community and yearned for something more. In my freshmen year, I had traveled to the New York World's Fair and seen the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. I wondered what it would be like to live there or in Chicago. I wanted to be free and to experience life -- it was time for a change.

My metamorphosis began my freshman year in college, which wasn't far from "the Windy City". I lived in an apartment only a few blocks from school with an older roommate -- a working girl who loved to party. My life seemed to take a bit of a downhill turn from there. I began to develop an inordinate attachment to worldly goods, money, status, and spent my time engaging in numerous pleasurable pursuits to satisfy my ego. I rationalized any guilt I felt and soon lost my sense of sin.

I continued in my secular ways following graduation. When I became well-established in my career, I would meet people who told me "You are so lucky. You have it all!" But I certainly didn't feel like I had it all --  I felt empty inside. There was an inner yearning for something more -- something I couldn't define -- but desperately needed.

On Good Friday that year, I watched my dad fall to his knees and embrace the life-size cross, tenderly kissing the feet of Jesus. Then, my mom seemed to "fly" out of her wheel chair and, in an instant, was on her knees, too, embracing and reverently kissing the corpus. It was at that moment, that I knew where the void was in my life. Jesus had been missing.

This was the turning point in my life – the decisive moment when I knew I would return to my faith. It made me realize how much I loved Jesus and how much I missed Him and yearned to receive Him in the Eucharist. When I did return to my faith, like St. Paul, I felt compelled to reach out to others in love and to share the gospel message with as many people as I could. It has only been through my acceptance of the free graces of God that I have been given and continue to receive daily that my ongoing conversion continues.

All conversions are the result of a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. And, yes, they also involve an intellectual component – the acceptance of a creed and the doctrine of faith. However, it is only when our hearts are transformed by the love of Christ that we are able to follow after Him.

In the words of Pope Benedict XVI:

"Turning now to ourselves, let us ask what this means for us. It means that for us too Christianity is not a new philosophy or a new morality. We are only Christians if we encounter Christ. Of course, he does not show himself to us in this overwhelming, luminous way, as he did to Paul to make him the Apostle to all peoples. But we too can encounter Christ in reading Sacred Scripture, in prayer, in the liturgical life of the Church. We can touch Christ's Heart and feel him touching ours. Only in this personal relationship with Christ, only in this encounter with the Risen One do we truly become Christians. And in this way our reason opens, all Christ's wisdom opens, as do all the riches of truth. Therefore let us pray the Lord to illumine us, to grant us an encounter with his presence in our world, and thus to grant us a lively faith, an open heart and great love for all, which is capable of renewing the world." (Wednesday Audience, September 3, 2008)

~ copyright January 2013, Jean M. Heimann

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New social network aimed at Catholics launched

January 24, 2013. ( In addition to Facebook and MySpace, there are a myriad of social networks tailored to each person's preferences. You can find one for motorcycle enthusiasts, dog lovers, and even for those looking for homes abroad.

So it's no surprise that among the list of niche sites is one aimed at Catholics. It's called Awestruck and, thanks in part to a very original publicity campaign, it now boasts thousands of members worldwide.

Creative Director, Awestruck 
“Catholics who want to connect with each other in a new way. Catholics who enjoy the idea of having something similar to Facebook which doesn't have advertising, which has content that's tailored for the Catholic community.”

The site's authors describe it as a sort of Facebook for Catholics. But you won't find offensive content here. However, that doesn't mean creativity is lacking.

Creative Director, Awestruck
“We thought let's get creative, let's create a platform that supports video, and that is also a very social space that can communicate Catholics in a new way. So we said, let's explore the challenges or the potential that exists today because of technology to the new things.”

Its creators say it's no coincidence that the project was developed in South Africa, a country with a small Catholic minority.

Creative Director, Awestruck
“The problem that we have in South Africa where Catholicism is a very small minority, 7% of us are Catholics. So we felt that isolation, you can say, and we were looking for new ways to get the message out in an environment where we don't have exposure on our national broadcasters. So unfortunately you cannot see Catholic contents very easily.”

Among the site's users, is a wide variety, from bloggers, housewives, and parishes, to charity groups and media. Its reach is also varied, and growing. The one place the creators are hoping to reach is Vatican City, with none other than the Pope himself. Already a Twitter user, their hope is that Benedict XVI will become a part of Awestruck.

March for Life is somber, energetic

Beloved: The Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia

The love that God has for the soul is like that which the bridegroom has for his bride. In the heart of the "Bible Belt" in Tennessee, the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia have fully embraced that love in the living of their vows and apostolic life for 150 years. Like their patron, the virgin martyr Cecilia, the Nashville Dominicans promise their heart to Christ and it is His voice that fills their ears and secures their promise to be His alone. This joyful, holy community radiates their love for Christ and neighbor, revealing in this compelling film what it means to live the consecrated life as both a contemplative and a teacher. They manifest to the world that religious life is all about love and joy, but a love that is different and unique. It is a love that is eternal.

Europeans Launch Initiative To Defund Abortion

NEW YORK, January 25 (C-FAM) A European court victory for environmentalists has inspired a continent-wide campaign to end European Union funding of embryo-destructive research and abortion.

The "One of Us" campaign launched this month by leaders in twenty European countries calls for the European Union to stop funding efforts that destroy pre-born life, including groups that perform abortions in developing countries. It follows a European Court of Justice ruling in 2011, in a lawsuit brought by Greenpeace, that human life begins at conception and deserves legal protection. Read More

St. Francis de Sales

St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), a Swiss theologian and the patron saint of writers has long been my mentor and model, and one of my most powerful intercessors. As a theologian and writer, I look to him for guidance and for assistance in my work. His unique methods of evangelization have also greatly inspired me.

At the age of thirteen, Francis studied theology at the University of Paris and immediately afterword earned a doctorate in law. However, he felt called to the priesthood and was ordained and during the time of the Protestant Reformation. The Catholic Church at this time was losing many of its parishioners to the new churches of the Protestant Reformation and Francis set out to restore Catholicism to the area around Lake Geneva known as Chablais.

For three years, he trudged through the countryside, his feet frozen and bleeding, as he trampled through the snow. No one would listen to him, so he wrote out his sermons, copying them by hand in the form of leaflets, and placed them under doors. It is said that he converted 40,000 people by the time he left to return home. As Bishop of Geneva, his words of inspiration and wise counsel led many people to live out the gospel message in their lives. He founded the Order of the Visitation with St. Jane Francis de Chantal, a good friend, with whom he shared his spiritual beliefs. He remained active throughout his life, using his talent for writing to assist him in ministering to others. St. Francis de Sales is a Doctor of the Church and patron of the Catholic press.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from St. Francis de Sales:

“The highest degree of meekness consists in seeing, serving, honoring, and treating amiably, on occasion, those who are not to our taste, and who show themselves unfriendly, ungrateful, and troublesome to us.”

"Keep your heart very wide to receive in it all sorts of crosses and resignations or abnegations, for the love of Him who has received so many of them for us."

"Faithfully attend to your obligations, but know that you have no greater obligation than that of your salvation and of the saving progress of your soul on the way to true devotion."

“Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset. If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.”

"How beautiful it is to behold a person destitute of all attachment, ready for any act of virtue or charity, gentle to all, indifferent as to any employment, serene in consolations and tribulations, and wholly content if only the will of God is done!"

~ copyright January 2013, Jean M. Heimann

Prayer for Writers (taken from Saintly Support: A Prayer for Every Problem)

May the Lord guide me and all those who write for a living. Through your prayers, St. Frances de Sales, I ask for your intercession as I attempt to bring the written word to the world. Let us pray that God takes me in the palm of His hand and inspires my creativity and inspires my success. St. Francis de Sales, you understand the dedication required in this profession. Pray for God to inspire and allow ideas to flow. In His name, let my words reflect my faith for others to read. Amen.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making Love with the Devil

This is how the pro-aborts celebrate the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. They celebrate the "tearing apart" of  babies with champagne. Notice how often the celebrity in the video below uses the word "baby" and how focused he is on his own selfish pleasure. Just like the devil, he makes abortion -- the murder of a pre-born baby -- sound so attractive by focusing on the sensual. If people were, instead, shown the truth about abortion, their stomachs would turn and they would flee in terror. Abortion is evil and painful and the pro-abortionists are extremely deceptive, just like the devil.

Get Leticia's take on this video here.

Topeka Kansas March for Life

Pro-lifers  marked the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision on Tuesday with workshops, prayers and calls for the reversal of the landmark decision which legalizes the murder of the unborn. Republican Governor Sam Brownback spoke to the crowd, encouraging them in their efforts to end abortion. “There’s joy in what you’re doing, and keep it up,” Brownback urged hundreds of abortion opponents at a rally outside the Kansas Statehouse. “Keep marching. Keep moving.”

Below is a slideshow of the events, starting with Mass, which took place yesterday.

Pope's Catechesis focuses on first part of Creed: 'I believe in God'

January 23, 2013. ( How do we live out our faith? To address that question, Benedict XVI explained that believing in God means allowing faith to “shape our thoughts and actions in accordance with God’s saving word.”

The Pope cited Abraham as an example because he allowed his faith in God to lead him into the unknown. He adds that by opening up to God, people are also opening up themselves to others.


"Dear Brothers and Sisters, In our catechesis for this Year of Faith, we now turn to the Creed, the solemn profession of our faith as Christians.  At the beginning of the Creed, we say “I believe in God”.  Faith is our response to the God who first speaks to us, makes himself known and calls us to enter into communion with him.

We hear God speaking to us in the Scriptures, which recount the history of his revelation, culminating in the coming of his Son, Jesus Christ.  A central figure in this history of revelation is Abraham, the father and model of all believers (cf. Rom 4:11-12).  Sustained by God’s blessing and trusting in his promises, Abraham set off into the unknown.

Like Abraham, we too are called to let faith shape our thoughts and actions in accordance with God’s saving word, even when this runs contrary to the thinking and ways of this world.  With the eyes of faith, we discern God’s presence and his promise of eternal life beyond the realities of this present existence.  In opening ourselves to God’s blessing, we become in turn a blessing for others.

During this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, I offer a warm welcome to the faculty and students of the Bossey Graduate School of Ecumenical Studies, with cordial good wishes for their studies.  I also greet the military chaplains from the United Kingdom recently returned from Afghanistan.  Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including the pilgrim and student groups from the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace."

Swiss Guard celebrates 507 years at the Vatican

January 23, 2013. ( This is how 507 years ago, a group of 110 Swiss men arrived at the Vatican, marching along the steady beat of a drum. Back then Pope Julius II asked the Swiss Confederation for a group of soldiers who could defend him from his enemies. With time, this protective body soon became known as the Swiss Guard.  

Pontifical Swiss Guard
“Today in particular, we celebrate the establishment of the Pontifical Swiss Guard, which took place on January 22, 1506.”

To honor this anniversary, the Swiss Guard celebrated with a Mass, led by the Pope's master of ceremonies. There was also a military parade, that mirrored the very moment when the first guards made their way to the Vatican.

Pontifical Swiss Guard
“In that time, the Swiss were mercenaries, well known for their service, which they carried out with loyalty and courage. Even today, we seek to perform our service the best way we can.”

The loyalty they have shown has carried over to each of the Popes they have served. Their distinctive uniform displays the joys of being a soldier, readiness for combat and their service to the Successor of Peter. The color red also symbolizes blood, a metaphor for their devotion and willingness to sacrifice their lives for the Pope.

St. Vincent of Saragossa

Today is the feast of St.Vincent of Saragossa, deacon and martyr.

St. Vincent of Saragossa was one of the Church's three most illustrious deacons, the other two being Stephen and Lawrence. He is also Spain's most renowned martyr. Ordained deacon by Bishop Valerius of Saragossa, he was taken in chains to Valencia during the Diocletian persecution and put to death. From legend we have the following details of his martyrdom. After brutal scourging in the presence of many witnesses, he was stretched on the rack; but neither torture nor blandishments nor threats could undermine the strength and courage of his faith. Next, he was cast on a heated grating, lacerated with iron hooks, and seared with hot metal plates. Then he was returned to prison, where the floor was heavily strewn with pieces of broken glass. A heavenly brightness flooded the entire dungeon, filling all who saw it with greatest awe.

After this he was placed on a soft bed in the hope that lenient treatment would induce apostasy, since torture had proven ineffective. But strengthened by faith in Christ Jesus and the hope of everlasting life, Vincent maintained an invincible spirit and overcame all efforts, whether by fire, sword, rack, or torture to induce defection. He persevered to the end and gained the heavenly crown of martyrdom.
~The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: Portugal; vine dressers; vinegar makers; vintners; wine growers; wine makers.

Symbols: Deacon holding a ewer; deacon holding several ewers and a book; deacon with a raven; deceased deacon whose body is being defended by ravens; deacon being torn by hooks; deacon holding a millstone.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

40th Anniversary of Roe v Wade

Thank you, John Francis Bora!

Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

January 22 is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and the day established by the Church of penance for abortion, has been formally named as the “Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.”

In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 is to be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion.

Today is the fortieth anniversary of the U. S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade. The horror of a single human life being deliberately taking is compounded by the sanction of such an act by the government and so many of its politicians (many of whom assert that they are Catholics). The bishops of our nation have asked all Catholics to fast and do extra penance today as a small reparation for the millions of abortions committed in our country, and for the legal approval of these actions.

Those who oppose the Church’s teachings try to discourage her members by suggesting that after forty years, the decision of Roe v. Wade will never be overturned. They argue that pro-life Christians just need to “get with it”. In response, we could point to the immense crowds (of mostly young people) who crowd our nation’s capital each winter to protest peacefully against abortion and the laws that support it.

While Christians can and ought to build a pro-life culture through many avenues, and not only through changes in law, it remains the case that as Christians and as Americans, “in God we trust”. We should not our trust in our selves, our efforts, or our politicians. God expects us to make needed changes in our world, but we can only do so through His truth and grace.

Justice Scalia wears replica of martyr's hat to inaguration

What do you think: does he resemble St. Thomas More?


Read article at First Things.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Life Crisis in Ireland - Please Pray for Ireland!

Pro-life Quote of the Day: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Cornel West: President Obama Doesn’t Deserve To Be Sworn In With MLK’s Bible

Dr. Cornel West says that President Barack Obama doesn’t deserve to be sworn in for his second term as President of the United States with his hand on the bible of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You don’t play with Martin Luther King, Jr. and you don’t play with his people, said West. “By his people, I mean people of good conscience, fundamentally good people committed to peace and truth and justice, especially the Black tradition that produced it.

“All of the blood, sweat and tears that went into producing a Martin Luther King, Jr. generated a brother of such high decency and dignity that you don’t use his prophetic fire for a moment of presidential pageantry without understanding the challenge he represents to all of those in power regardless of what color they are.
“The righteous indignation of a Martin Luther King, Jr. becomes a moment of political calculation. And that makes my blood boil. Why? Because Martin Luther King, Jr died…he died…for the three crimes against humanity that he was wrestling with. Jim Crow, traumatizing, terrorizing, stigmatizing Black people. Lynching, not just ‘segregation’ as the press likes to talk about.

“Second: Carpet bombing in Vietnam killing innocent people, especially innocent children, those are war crimes that Martin Luther King, Jr. was willing to die for. And thirdly, was poverty of all colors, he said it is a crime against humanity for the richest nation in the world to have so many of it’s precious children of all colors living in poverty and especially on the chocolate side of the nation, and on Indian reservations and Brown barrios and yellow slices and Black ghettos — we call them hoods now, but ghettos then.

“So I said to myself ain’t nothing wrong with putting your hand on the bible, even though the bible’s talking about justice, Jesus is talking about the least of these, but when you put it on Martin’s bible, I said ‘this is personal for me,’ because this is the tradition that I come out of.”


TOMORROW: Ask Them What They Mean by "Choice"

Tomorrow, on Tuesday, January 22, in response to NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day, we will be participating in the third annual Ask Them What They Mean When They Say “Choice” Day.

All online pro-lifers are invited to join in!

This year, we are expanding beyond bloggers to the online pro-life community at large – you!

Click to join the event on Facebook here.

Get the entire scoop at Jill Stanek's blog. to Launch on 40th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade

Priests for Life will launch a new pro-life initiative tomorrow, Jan. 22, the 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions.  is based on a basic principle of social reform as well as a basic Biblical exhortation.

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, explained:

"The project is simple: At, I will share with you one quote a day that exposes the horror of abortion. It may be a quote from a past or current abortion provider, or a court case, or someone who has had an abortion, or some other source. These short quotes will open people's eyes, often make them gasp in horror, and enable them to awaken the consciences of their neighbors to what abortion really is.

"The project is based on my conviction that a real debate on abortion hasn't even begun in our nation, because the two sides often talk past each other. Before discussing whether abortion is right or wrong or should be legal or illegal, we have to focus on what it is and what it does. Then we can be sure the opposing sides are discussing the same thing, and then the rest of the discussion can get started.

"In social reform movements that uproot deeply embedded societal evils, the victim is always visualized. If we don't see the victim, we don't see the violence, and we are not moved to stop the violence.

"And in Scripture, we are told by St. Paul, 'Have nothing to do with the fruitless works of darkness; rather, expose them!'

Pope selects American priest for rare St. Peter's job

For the first time in the 21st century, Pope Benedict XVI has made an American priest a canon of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.

"You're the first of this century and the first of this millennium," said Cardinal Angelo Comastri during the Jan. 20 celebration for Monsignor Francis D. Kelly.

"This is a celebration of fidelity, and fidelity is maintaining during the whole life the commitment pronounced in your youth," he added in St. Peter's Basilica, referring to Msgr. Kelly's priesthood of 50 years.

Pope Benedict XVI announced his new role in an Oct. 20 decree, giving the 76-year-old the primary tasks of prayer and worship. A canon is a senior priest who is responsible for the celebration of the sacred liturgy at the Vatican basilica and for maintaining a prayerful presence in the place where St. Peter is buried. They lead the recitation of evening prayers and concelebrate Mass on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. as well as on major feast days.

Full Story.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

St. Agnes of Rome

The saint of the day for January 21 is St. Agnes. St. Agnes was born in Rome during the beginning of the third century. She was brought up as a Christian and grew to be a very beautiful young woman. By the age of twelve, Agnes was already receiving suitors for her hand in marriage. And already by the age of twelve, Agnes had developed a deep spirituality that directed her to devote her life to God as a consecrated virgin.

Several of the suitors who Agnes turned away became bitter at her and turned her in to the authorities as a Christian. The political atmosphere at the time was very charged, and the Diocletian persecution was well under way. Agnes was arrested and thrown into a house of prostitution to await her death. All who came to look lustfully upon Agnes lost their sight, but many had their sight restored by her intercessory prayers. At last Agnes was sentenced to death. Her body was taken away and buried in a catacomb that later came to bear her name.

Under the reign of the Emperor Constantine, a basilica was built in her honor near her tomb. For centuries, two lambs have been brought to the church and blessed every year. The lambs are then reared in a cloister. When they have grown into sheep, their wool is used to make 'palliums' which are special stoles the Pope sends to archbishops to wear on their shoulders as symbols of the sheep carried by the Good Shepherd.

St. Agnes, whose name means both purity and lamb is the patron of Christian virtue confronted by political and social violence and her life was commented on by many of her contemporaries.

Pope Damasus adorned her tomb with with sacred poetry and many of the the Fathers of the Church, following St. Ambrose, have honored her in their writings.

"This is a virgin's birthday; let us follow the example of her chastity. It is a martyr's birthday; let us offer sacrifices; it is the birthday of holy Agnes: let men be filled with wonder, little ones with hope, married woman with awe, and the unmarried with emulation. It seems to me that this child, holy beyond her years and courageous beyond human nature, received the name of Agnes (Greek: pure) not as an earthly designation but as a revelation from God of what she was to be."

~ St. Augustine

"Today is the birthday of a virgin; let us imitate her purity. It is the birthday of a martyr; let us offer ourselves in sacrifice. It is the birthday of Saint Agnes, who is said to have suffered martyrdom at the age of twelve."
~ St. Ambrose

Friday, January 18, 2013

Ask Fr. Barron: What spiritual classic books should every Catholic read?

The life of St. Barbara hits the Big Screen

January 18, 2013. ( It's a life story that's meant to be shared. The life of St. Barbara is hitting the big screen. Famous Italian producer Lux Vide, who has experience with these types of films, is leading the project.

As far as the characters, Barbara will be played by actress Vanessa Hessler. The famous saint came from a noble Roman family. Her mother died when she was a girl, so she was raised by her father, the governor of the Empire.

Despite her pagan education and upbringing, her life changed when she saw how badly Christians were treated. But the key moment that triggered her conversion, came when her best friend, Giuliana was murdered. Giuliana was a slave and before being killed she talked about why she converted to Christianity.

The eventual saint, also finds out that her own mother, before dying embraced Christianity.

So Barbara decides to take a leap of faith. But her conversion would cost her her life.

The film is part of an Italian production, but it is expected to be released in other languages soon.

Priest publishes book on apparition of angels to 'mystic' women

January 18, 2013. (  The book Angeli e Mistiche, or Angels and Mystics, profiles 61 women that claim to have clearly seen the intervention of Angels in their lives.

Author, Angeli e Mistiche
 “They are 61 profiles of exceptional women, very different among them. There are noble women, common women, educated women and ignorant, laywomen, nuns. But they have something in common in their lives, they choose Jesus Christ and had experiences with angels.”

The women Marcello Stazione writes about in his book are saints, blessed women, and even martyrs, such as Saint Cecilia, whom according to tradition would pray along with her guardian angel.

Author, Angeli e Mistiche
“We see how in the martyr's acts, the angels would come to console these women. I'm thinking of Cecilia and Agnes. The beautiful thing is that these women have changed the history of humanity within the Church. These are women that have founded religious orders, hospitals, schools. They were extremely pragmatic and realistic people. They were not lucid women, and their work has made it possible for angels to take action here on Earth.”

In the book, Stazione explains the importance that angels had in the lives of these women, and how they in turn influenced the history of the Church and humanity.

Author, Angeli e Mistiche
 “There are also women from the modern era, such as Mother Theresa of Calcutta, whom had a great devotion to angels. Or Natuzza Evolo, the famous Calabrian mystic, whom would make accurate medical analysis to those that would go see her, despite being extremely ignorant. She would see the guardian angel of the person that would go to her.”

The new book by Father Marcello Stanzione shows how spiritual beings can have an even bigger impact in people's lives.

BOOK REVIEW: Along the Way: Lessons for an Authentic Journey of Faith

By Randy Hain
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Liguori Publications, Liguori, Missouri

Reviewed by JEAN M. HEIMANN, freelance writer, wife and mother, M.A. in Theology, retired educator, psychologist, and oblate with the Community of St. John.

In Along the Way, Randy Hain is our spiritual companion and guide as we walk on this journey of life. He leads us along the right paths and draws us closer to the Lord, sharing the secrets of holiness, cautioning us about the pitfalls along the way. In his usual honest, direct, and clear style, he presents practical ideas on how to integrate our spiritual lives into our everyday activities. He gives us simple, helpful techniques that we can use at home, at work, in our social life, and with our family.

Hain begins Along the Way by sharing his beautiful conversion story and the powerful impact this had on all aspects of his life. Hain develops his discussion, presenting us with a number of ways to pursue holiness in a world that views Christianity in subjective and relativistic terms. Using scripture passages, saint quotes, and excerpts from papal encyclicals, Hain discusses today’s hot button issues, including: human life, materialism, relativism, tolerance, and more. Each chapter is chock-full of interesting, innovative, and useful ways we can know, love, and serve the Lord in all aspects of our daily life. I must admit that although I have been a faithful Catholic, pursuing holiness for many years, some of these ideas were new to me. Hain’s keen knowledge and application of the Catholic faith, as well as his ability to lead others to The Truth are very impressive. His enthusiasm for the faith energized me and renewed my own love for the Truth.

Along the Way is a book that I will use as a guide for many years to come and will re-read many times. It is a book that I recommend be used in conjunction with: RCIA programs, adult education programs, men’s faith discussion groups, and evangelization ministries. Converts, reverts, and long-time Catholics will all benefit from the tips Hain shares in this book. I highly recommend it.

~ copyright 2013 Jean M. Heimann

St. Prisca (Priscilla)

The saint of the day for January 18 is St. Prisca, who is also known as Priscilla. She was a child martyr of the early Roman Church. Born to Christian parents of a noble family, Prisca was raised during the reign of the Roman emperor Claudius. While Claudius did not persecute Christians with the same fervor as other Roman emperors, Christians still did not practice their faith openly. In fact, Prisca's parents went to great lengths to conceal their faith, and thus they were not suspected of being Christians.

Prisca, however, did not feel the need to take precaution. The young girl openly professed her dedication to Christ, and eventually, she was reported to the emperor. Claudius had her arrested, and commanded her to make a sacrifice to Apollo, the pagan god of the sun.

According to the legend, Prisca refused, and was tortured for disobeying. Then, suddenly, a bright, yellow light shone about her, and she appeared to be a little star.

Claudius ordered that Prisca be taken away to prison, in the hopes that she would abandon Christ. When all efforts to change her mind were unsuccessful, she was taken to an amphitheatre and thrown in with a lion.

As the crowd watched, Prisca stood fearless. According to legend, the lion walked toward the barefoot girl, and then gently licked her feet. Disgusted by his thwarted efforts to dissuade Prisca, Claudius had her beheaded.

Seventh-century accounts of the grave sites of Roman martyrs refer to the discovery of an epitaph of a Roman Christian named Priscilla in a large catacomb and identifies her place of interment on the Via Salaria as the Catacomb of Priscilla.

~ Excerpted from Ordinary People Extraordinary Lives.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pope welcomes week for Christian Unity

(  Every year a delegation from Finland's Lutheran Church comes to Rome to celebrate the life of St. Henry of Uppsala, the country's patron saint. The Pope thanked the group for its visit and highlighted the week for Christian Unity, which begins on January 18th.

“To advance in the ways of ecumenical communion, thus demands that we become ever more united in prayer, ever more committed to the pursuit of holiness, and ever more engaged in the areas of theological research and cooperation in the service of a just and fraternal society”.

As a gift, the delegation gave the Pope a painting done by an artist who is quite popular in his native Finland.

The Pope said he hopes these ecumenical meetings held in Rome can further strengthen the relationship among all Christians in Finland.

US Secretary of Defense meets Pope during European trip

The United States Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta briefly met Benedict XVI on Wednesday, during the third leg of his week-long European visit, his last as defense secretary.  

Panetta sat in the front row during a general audience, then patiently waited for the chance to meet the Pope. The two exchanged words for approximately 30 seconds, then the Pope gave Panetta a small gift.

The man in charge of the US military is also a devout Catholic. Born to Italian immigrants from Calabria, Panetta had previously met John Paul II at the Vatican. This is was his first encounter with Benedict XVI.

Having already stopped in Lisbon and Madrid, Panetta arrived in Rome on Tuesday. He is expected to meet with government leaders, including the Italian president and the premier. The last leg of his trip will take him to London, before returning to the United States.

St. Anthony of the Desert

St. Anthony of the Desert (c. 251–356), a religious hermit and monk, is known as the founder of monasticism. His rule of order was one of the first to create guidelines for monastic living. He became a monk at age 20 and withdrew into total solitude on a desert mountain near the Nile River. Saint Anthony’s only food was bread and water, which he never tasted before sunset, and sometimes only once in two, three, or four days. He wore sackcloth and sheepskin, and he often knelt in prayer from sunset to sunrise. Here, in the desert, he overcame extreme temptations of the devil, and emerged about 20 years later from total seclusion to instruct nearby hermits in the ways of monasticism. He demonstrated the power of Christ to touch lives by healing the sick, providing spiritual guidance, casting out demons, and preaching. Many were attracted to monasticism by his example.

Athanasius's Life of St. Anthony perpetuated his story and inspired waves of monks who civilized and evangelized Europe and the Near East.

With the end of Christian persecution in 313, Anthony established a monastery between the Nile and the Red Sea. This same monastery exists today.

Here are a few of his famous sayings to monks. "Let it be your supreme and common purpose not to grow weary in the work you have begun, and in time of trial and affliction not to lose courage and say: Oh, how long already have we been mortifying ourselves! Rather, we should daily begin anew and constantly increase our fervor. For man's whole life is short when measured against the time to come, so short, in fact, that it is as nothing in comparison with eternity. . . . Therefore, my children, let us persevere in our acts of asceticism. And that we may not become weary and disheartened, it is good to meditate on the words of the apostle: 'I die daily.' If we live with the picture of death always before our eyes, we will not sin. The apostle's words tell us that we should so awaken in the morning as though we would not live to evening, and so fall asleep as if there were to be no awakening. For our life is by nature uncertain and is daily meted out to us by Providence. If we are convinced of this and live each day as the apostle suggests, then we will not fall into sin; no desire will enslave us, no anger move us, no treasure bind us to earth; we will await death with unfettered hearts."

Patron: Amputees; animals; basket makers; basket weavers; butchers; cemetery workers; domestic animals; eczema; epilepsy; epileptics; gravediggers; hermits; hogs; monks; pigs; relief from pestilence; skin diseases; skin rashes; swine; swineherds.

Symbols: Bell; pig; t-shaped staff; tau cross with a bell on the end; man with a pig at his side.