Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter!

Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus Christ, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor,
radiant in the brightness of your King!
Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church! Exult in glory!
The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God’s people!

~ from the Exsultet sung at the Easter Vigil

Wishing you all a very happy Easter, dear friends!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Holy Saturday Reflection

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday

"It is accomplished; and bowing his head he gave up his spirit."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Holy Thursday

Today is Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, which solemnly celebrates the institution of the Eucharist as the true body and blood of Jesus Christ and the institution of the sacrament of the priesthood.

During the Last Supper, Jesus offers himself as the Passover sacrifice, the sacrificial lamb, and teaches that every ordained priest is to follow the same sacrifice in the exact same way. Christ also bids farewell to his followers and prophesies that one of them will betray him and hand him over to the Roman soldiers.

Around the world, Bishops and priests come together at their local Cathedrals on Holy Thursday morning to celebrate the institution of the priesthood. During the Mass, the bishop blesses the Oil of Chrism that will be used for Baptism, Confirmation, and Anointing of the sick or dying.

At this Mass, the bishop washes the feet of twelve priests to symbolize Christ’s washing of his twelve Apostles, our first bishops and priests.

Later that night, after sundown – because Passover began at sundown- the Holy Thursday Liturgy takes place, marking the end of Lent and the beginning of the sacred "Triduum,” or three, of Holy Week. These days are the three holiest days in the Catholic Church.

This Mass stresses the importance Jesus puts on the humility of service, and the need for cleansing with water, a symbol of baptism. Also emphasized are the critical importance of the Eucharist and the sacrifice of Christ’s Body, which we now find present in the consecrated Host.

On Holy Thursday the ringing of bells ceases, the altar is stripped after vespers, and the night office is celebrated under the name of Tenebræ.

At the conclusion of the Mass, the faithful are invited to continue Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout the night, just as the disciples were invited to stay up with the Lord during His agony in the garden before His betrayal by Judas.

After Holy Thursday, no Mass will be celebrated again in the Church until the Easter Vigil celebrates and proclaims the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.

In all the German speaking countries, Slavic nations and in Hungary this day is also known as "Green Thursday." The word is a corruption of the German word grunen (to mourn) to the German word for green (grün). Many people believe they must eat green at today's meal, which is probably derived from from the Jewish Passover meal that included bitter herbs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Pope's First General Audience: Holy Week is Time to Bring Christ to Forgotten

March 27, 2013. ( Pope Francis held his first general audience in St. Peter's Square. Before even starting, he made his way through the Square in the Popemobile for about ten minutes.

With flags waving and cheers of 'Viva il Papa' thousands of pilgrims welcomed the first  catechesis of his first general audience.

“Dear brothers and sisters. Good morning. I am pleased to welcome you to my first general audience. It is with great appreciation and respect that I take this responsibility from the hands of my beloved predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.”

The Pope said he would continue to talk about the Year of Faith, just like his predecessor, but given that it's Holy Week, the Pope said he would instead explain the meaning behind Easter, which he described as the core of the liturgical year.

“Living Holy Week, means following Jesus not only with moved hearts, it means learning to come out of ourselves, like I said last Sunday,  to meet others, to go toward the edges of our existence and help our brothers and sisters, especially those who are the farthest from us, those who are forgotten, those who need the presence of Jesus and His mercy.”

The Pope improvised on several occasions and spoke only in Italian. Among the audience where about 3,000 university students attending the UNIV congress in Rome. During his  catechesis the Pope explained why Jesus was poor.

“Jesus doesn't have a home, because his true home rests in people. His mission is to open all doors to God, to represent God's love.”

Before ending his general audience, the Pope made a call for peace in the Central African Republic, where riots and violent attacks have taken over the region in the last few days.

Spy Wednesday

Wednesday of Holy Week is traditionally known as "Spy Wednesday" because on this day Judas made a bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

One of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests and said,
“What are you willing to give me
if I hand him over to you?”
They paid him thirty pieces of silver,
and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,
the disciples approached Jesus and said,
“Where do you want us to prepare
for you to eat the Passover?”
He said,
“Go into the city to a certain man and tell him,
‘The teacher says, As My appointed time draws near;
in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”‘“
The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered,
and prepared the Passover.

When it was evening,
he reclined at table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said,
“Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
Deeply distressed at this,
they began to say to him one after another,
“Surely it is not I, Lord?”
He said in reply,
“He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me
is the one who will betray me.
The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him,
but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed.
It would be better for that man if he had never been born.”
Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply,
“Surely it is not I, Rabbi?”
He answered, “You have said so.”

~ MT.26:14-25

Saint Rupert

The saint of the day for March 27 is Saint Rupert, a monk and bishop whose missionary labors built up the Church in two of its historic strongholds, Austria and Bavaria.

During his lifetime, the “Apostle of Bavaria and Austria” was an energetic founder of churches and monasteries, and a remarkably successful evangelist of the regions – which include the homeland of the Bavarian native Pope Benedict XVI.

Little is known about Rupert's early life, which is thought to have begun around 660 in the territory of Gaul in modern-day France. There is some indication that he came from the Merovignian royal line, though he embraced a life of prayer, fasting, asceticism and charity toward the poor.

This course of life led to his consecration as the Bishop of Worms in present-day Germany. Although Rupert was known as a wise and devout bishop, he eventually met with rejection from the largely pagan population, who beat him savagely and forced him to leave the city.

After this painful rejection, Rupert made a pilgrimage to Rome. Two years after his expulsion from Worms, his prayers were answered by means of a message from Duke Theodo of Bavaria, who knew of his reputation as a holy man and a sound teacher of the faith.

Bavaria, in Rupert's day, was neither fully pagan nor solidly Catholic. Although missionaries had evangelized the region in the past, the local religion tended to mix portions of the Christian faith – often misunderstood along heretical lines – with native pagan beliefs and practices.

The Bavarian duke sought Rupert's help to restore, correct, and spread the faith in his land. After sending messengers to report back to him on conditions in Bavaria, Rupert agreed. The bishop who had been brutally exiled from Worms was received with honor in the Bavarian city of Regensburg.

With the help of a group of priests he brought with him, Rupert undertook an extensive mission in Bavaria and parts of modern-day Austria. His missionary journeys resulted in many conversions, accompanied by numerous miracles including the healing of diseases.
In Salzburg, Rupert and his companions built a great church, which they placed under the patronage of St. Peter, and a monastery observing the Rule of St. Benedict. Rupert's niece became the abbess of a Benedictine convent established nearby.

Rupert served as both the bishop of Salzburg and the abbot of the Benedictine monastery he established there. This traditional pairing of the two roles, also found in the Irish Church after its development of monasticism, was passed on by St. Rupert's successors until the late 10th century.

St. Rupert died on March 27, Easter Sunday of the year 718, after preaching and celebrating Mass.

After the saint's death, churches and monasteries began to be named after him – including Salzburg's modern-day Cathedral of St. Rupert (also known as the “Salzburg Cathedral”), and the Church of St. Rupert which is believed to be the oldest surviving church structure in Vienna.

Salzburg, Austria, city of
Salzburg, Austria, province of

Take the virtual tour of the "Salzburg Cathedral".

A view of  the baroque interior of the Salzburg Cathedral:

The Cathedral has seven bells that are just beautiful to listen to:

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

BREAKING NEWS: KS Passes Pro-life Bills

The Unborn Civil Rights bill (SB 142) passed the House tonight by a vote of 89-33. This bill bans 'wrongful birth and wrongful life' lawsuits that claim a disabled child should have been aborted.

The Midwest Stem Cell Therapy Center (SB 199) also passed the House, by a vote of 90-32. This unique center will increase treatments of patients in Kansas and the region using non-embryonic (adult and umbilical cord) sources, process and multiply stem cells for wider use in clinical trials, create collaboration between Kansas University and Via Christi Hospitals in these endeavors, and become a global educational clearinghouse for stem cell clinical trials and research.

Also,  a resolution commending pregnancy assistance centers in Kansas and the nation, HCR 1606, passed the House 122-0.

Three pro-life measures may yet see action next week, after the Easter recess: the Pro-Life Protections Act, the sex selection abortion ban, and the grand jury improvement bill.

More to come...

St. Margaret Clitherow

The saint of the day for March 26th is St. Margaret Clitherow, patron of businesswomen, converts, and martyrs.

Margaret was born in Middleton, England, in 1555, of protestant parents. An attractive woman full of wit and cheer, she had a charming personality.

In 1571, she married John Clitherow, a well-to-do butcher (to whom she bore two children). She was a good housewife, capable in business, dearly loved by her husband, whose only regret was that she would not attend church. A few years later, she entered the Catholic Church. Her zeal led her to harbor fugitive priests, for which she was arrested and imprisoned by hostile authorities. They tried every means to make her deny her Faith, but the holy woman stood firm. Finally, she was condemned to be pressed to death on March 25, 1586. She was stretched out on the ground with a sharp rock on her back and crushed under a door loaded down with unbearable weights. Her bones were broken and she died within fifteen minutes.

The humanity and holiness of this servant of God can be readily evidenced in her words to a friend when she learned of her condemnation: "The sheriffs have said that I am going to die this coming Friday; and I feel the weakness of my flesh which is troubled at this news, but my spirit rejoices greatly. For the love of God, pray for me and ask all good people to do likewise."

Margaret died on Good Friday, March 25, 1586, her last words being, "Jesu, Jesu, Jesu, have mercy on me!" She was only thirty years old and was canonized in 1970 as one of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Shroud of Turin to be displayed on Holy Saturday

March 25, 2013. ( In honor of the Year of Faith, the Shroud of Turin will be displayed once again inside the Dome of Turin on Holy Saturday, March 30. The last time it was put on display for the public was more than three years ago.
However, the visit is only open to a group of 300 made up of youths and people who are sick or disabled. It will also be broadcast live.

When Benedict XVI visited the Shroud of Turin in 2010, he called it an “icon of Holy Saturday,” which is why the Archbishop of Turin decided to put it on display for the Year of Faith.

Pope Francis' first saints

March 25, 2013, ( It was during a consistory with cardinals that Benedict XVI announced his resignation in Latin. The news spread like wildfire, eclipsing everything else happening inside.

As a result, few know that in the consistory, Benedict XVI set the date for the canonization of three new saints. It will take place May 12, and will be led instead by Pope Francis.

The new saints are: Antonio Primaldo and 800 fellow martyrs of Otranto, Italy; Mother Laura, of Colombia, founder of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate and St. Catherine of Siena; and Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, a Mexican nun known as Mother Lupita, co-founder of the Congregation of the Servants of Saint Margaret Mary and the Poor.

Antonio Primaldo and his 800 fellow martyrs were executed in the 15th Century for refusing to convert to Islam. Mother Laura will be Colombia's first saint, who dedicated her life to working with indigenous people. Mother Lupita founded a congregation to serve the sick and the poor.

It will also be a historic event for Pope Francis and also for the universal Church.

Kansas Becomes Third State This Year to Pass Sweeping Pro-Life Laws

The Kansas House of Representatives joins Arkansas and North Dakota in passing comprehensive pro-life legislation. As with Arkansas and North Dakota, Liberty Counsel will defend this pro-life law pro bono. No rights are more foundational than the right to life. Without life, all other rights are irrelevant.

HR 2253, passed by the Kansas House of Representatives with a vote of 92 to 31, declares that life begins at fertilization. In addition, HR2253 excludes abortionists from receiving tax breaks, prohibits state medical school residents from performing abortions on state time, prohibits organizations that perform abortions from teaching sex education classes in public school, and requires abortionists to notify women of the risks of an abortion.

Please pray for HR 2253 as it makes its way through the Kansas Senate, and continue to pray for Liberty Counsel as we work to defend the sanctity of life.

Read the press release  here.

MSNBC TV Host Calls Babies “Things That Might Turn Into Humans”

Has this woman never taken basic biology? Or is she trying to indoctrinate people into the Planned Parenthood pro-abortion way of thinking? Perhaps she has a lax conscience and believes the lie herself or has convinced herself of it to rationalize her own behavior. It it is scary for someone in a position of influence to push off such a lie onto the public. I hope her viewers write in to the station to complain about this. She has a Ph.D. from Duke and has studied theology at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She should know better. But, she is also a political  science professor - a far left liberal-- who admittedly voted for Barack Obama (and even worked for 18 months on his presidential campaign) and strongly promotes the Obama pro-abortion agenda.  This is one reason why I refuse to watch MSNBC -- too many talking heads pushing off Obama/Planned Parenthood lies, often for their own political gain, prestige, and power. The pro-aborts persist in pushing their sick, evil agenda onto the public, telling fantastic lies. If they say the baby isn't a person, then they can do all sorts of horrific things to the child and it's perfectly OK. It's much easier to destroy a "thing" than it is a human being. It is a lie to make an evil act (murder and torture) appear morally acceptable. In the video below, she makes it even appear desirable. 

Via LifeNews.Com:

During a recent MSNBC show on abortion, talking head Melissa Harris-Perry made a comment that will surely make people wonder whether she has any grasp on the science behind fetal development.

Harris-Perry talked about how much it costs “to have this thing turn into a human” when referring to an unborn baby.

During the rest of her talk she “accidentally” breaks a model of a fertilized egg, claims there is no science supporting the notion that unborn children are human beings, and dismissively refers to babies.

Read the full story.

St. Lucy Filippini

The saint of the day for March 25th is St. Lucy Filippini, co-founder of the Maestre Pie, now known as the Religious Teachers Filipini, who established free schools for girls. 

Lucy was born on January 13, 1672 in Corneto-Tarquinia - a city that existed centuries before Rome was built. She had not yet reached her first birthday when her mother died. Six years later, her father died. Now orphaned, Lucy went to live with her aunt and uncle. As a child, she would prepare small altars and pray devoutly. She was an intelligent, modest, and spiritual child whose vision was focused on serving God.

At times, Lucy would seek for a serene atmosphere in the nearby Benedictine Nuns' Monastery of Santa Lucia where the daughters of the nobility were educated. Lucy visited frequently, drawn there by her desire to be among those whose lives and goodness she admired. It was here that she received her First Communion. It was here that she received spiritual nourishment.

When Cardinal Mark Anthony Barbarigo made his first pastoral visit to Corneto, he made a lasting impression on Lucy and she followed him to Montefiascone. Entrusting herself to the Cardinal's guidance, Lucy was eager to leave behind all worldly things. Lucy had a special devotion to Our Lady, her spiritual mother, and throughout her life, her deep love for Mary and her faith sustained her when Cardinal Barbarigo's plans were to be implemented in his dioceses. He had envisioned her as a key factor to bring about a rebirth of Christian living. He had already begun by establishing a seminary where young priests might study and train for the ministry of the Word.   

The next step was to develop a Christian conscience and encourage the practice of virtue in the home; this he resolved to do by opening schools for young ladies, particularly the children of the poor, in whom he saw hope for the future. Lucy would head the schools they founded to promote the dignity of womanhood and help influence a healthy family life. Together they looked ahead to fulfilling their generous, ardent and profound mission of faith and charity. In 1692, teachers were trained to staff the rapidly expanding schools.   

The young ladies of Montefuscione were taught domestic arts, weaving, embroidering, reading, and Christian doctrine. Twelve years later the Cardinal devised a set of rules to guide Lucy and her followers in the religious life. Fifty-two schools were established during Lucy's lifetime. As the Community grew, it attracted the attention of Pope Clement XI who, in 1707, called Lucy to Rome to start schools, which he placed under his special protection. Here she completed the work of founding the schools.   

To complement the work of the schools, Lucy and her teachers conducted classes and conferences for women, who were strengthened in their faith as they took part in prayer, meditation, and good works. Her focus for the social apostolate was to encourage her teachers to minister to the needs of the poor and the sick. Her method of teaching attracted widespread attention.   

Lucy died at sixty years of age, March 25, 1732, on Feast of the Annunciation For three centuries the example of Christian womanhood that marked the lives of her teachers and students was recognized by Holy Mother Church. In 1930, Lucy Filippini's saintly life was adequately acknowledged. Not only was she officially declared a Saint of the Church, but she was given the last available niche in the Basilica of Saint Peter in Rome. The Institute, which bears the name of Lucy Filippini, owes its birth to the solicitous good shepherd who loved schools and to the holy teacher who committed her entire life to the educative-apostolic mission.  

This mission initiated by the Cardinal and Lucy 300 years ago, continues today through the schools and the Religious Family to which they gave life. Its mission has spread beyond Italy into Europe, the United States of American Brazil, Ethiopia and India.

Saint Quote: "The Church of God is not a restful garden, but a working vineyard." ~ St. Lucy Filippini 

O God, giver of every gift, You kept Saint Lucy Filippini  faithful in proclaiming Christ and witnessing to Him, the one Teacher and light of the world. Grant that, illumined by divine grace, we may persevere in listening to Your word and preach it by good works, and so be living signs of holiness and apostolic zeal.

Question: When is the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord in 2013?

Normally, Annunciation would fall on Monday, March 25, 2013. However, since that is the Monday of Holy Week 2013, the celebration of Annunciation 2013 is transferred to the day after Divine Mercy Sunday 2013 (the octave of Easter 2013), which is Monday, April 8, 2013.

~ Via Scott P. Richert.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Pope Francis visits Benedict XVI: "Thanks for your humility and kindness"

March 2013, 2013. (  On Saturday afternoon, Pope Francis met with Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI for the very first time. The meeting was both moving and historic.

After boarding a helicopter, the first Latin American Pope arrived to the small Italian town of Castel Gandolfo at about 12.15 pm,  Rome time, to have lunch with his German predecessor.

Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said it was “a moment of profound communion”. The video shows how inside the chapel, Benedict offered the place of honor to Pope Francis, who instead responded “we are brothers” and wanted them to share the same kneeler.

Then they went to the library where their private meeting began around 12:30pm. It is the place where popes usually receives important guests at Castel Gandolfo. Their meeting lasted 45 minutes.

Pope Francis gave Benedict an icon known as Our Lady of Humility.

Benedict had already expressed his unconditional reverence and obedience to his successor, now Pope Francis, at his last meeting with the cardinals on the last day of his pontificate, 28 March.

At this point, Pope Francis is still living at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, but he will soon move into the Papal Apartments.

Benedict XVI has been living in Castel Gandolfo since February 28th, but he is expected to move into a Vatican Monastery in the month of May.

Palm Sunday of the Passion of Christ

Mark Shea offers a great reflection for Palm Sunday .

Jimmy Akin shares 9 Things you need to know about Palm Sunday.

American Catholic posts some Gregorian chants for Palm Sunday.

Check out this powerful video reflection:

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Music Meditation for Holy Week: Through Mary's Eyes by Elizabeth Schmeidler

St. Turibius of Mogrovejo

The saint of the day for March 23 is Saint Turibius of Mongrovejo also known as St. Toribio de Mogrovejo, the great figure in the history of the Church in Latin America, the second archbishop of Lima. Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius of Mongrovejo is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

In 1580 the archbishopric of Lima, capital of Spain's colony in Peru, became vacant. He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal those who had infected that area. He protested the assignment, but was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither sleep nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor.

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

Years before he died, he predicted the day and hour of his death. He contracted fever, but continued working up to the last moment, arriving at his destination in a dying condition. Dragging himself to the sanctuary he received the Viaticum, expiring shortly after. He died in 1606, was beatified by Pope Innocent XI in 1697, and canonized by Pope Benedict XIII in 1726.

Patronage: Native rights, Latin American bishops, and Peru.

Saint Quote: "Time is not our own, and we must give a strict account of it."

Friday, March 22, 2013

Pope Francis to diplomats: Moral relativism endangers peace

Moral relativism "endangers the coexistence of peoples," Pope Francis told diplomats March 22, and said a common ethics based on human nature is an indispensable condition for world peace.

The pope made his remarks to the Vatican diplomatic corps in the Apostolic Palace's Sala Regia, the vast "royal hall" where popes traditionally received Catholic monarchs.

Recalling the love of the poor practiced by his namesake, St. Francis of Assisi, the pope lamented both material poverty and the "spiritual poverty of our time, which afflicts the so-called richer countries particularly seriously. It is what my much-loved predecessor, Benedict XVI, called the 'dictatorship of relativism,' which makes everyone his own criterion and endangers the coexistence of peoples."

"Francis of Assisi tells us we should work to build peace," Pope Francis said. "But there is no peace without truth! There cannot be true peace if everyone is his own criterion, if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others, of everyone, on the basis of the nature that unites every human being on this earth." Read the entire article.

Read the full papal address to diplomats here.

How do we evangelize in our 30 second sound-byte culture?

Cardinal Bergoglio planned to retire and dedicate himself to prayer and parochial life

March 22, 2013. ( Perhaps the person who was surprised the most by the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, was the Argentinian cardinal himself. The auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, who lived with the Pope for the past ten years, explained how the election changed his original plans.

Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
“His future plans were, once his resignation was accepted and his successor named, to live at a home in Buenos Aires for elderly and sick priests. He had already picked his room. He also would have lead a life of prayer, as an adviser to many, of spirituality, of celebrating Mass at the parishes. A normal life without governance.”

After many years of working together on a daily basis, Msgr. Garcia says the Pope's style is natural, and works well with his need to interact and be close to people.

Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
“No one calls in his name. When he was to give an interview, he was to give the answer, he has to say something. No one else will do it for him, 'You asked me for an interview, he cannot see you now.' He will call you directly to tell you come tomorrow at this time. With this he is very independent, in his desire for direct communication.”

During his years at the helm of the Church in Buenos Aires, his teachings and writings have established clear guidelines.

Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
“There are three words that can define him, unity, truth and mercy. Those are the words.”

The auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires said Pope Francis' unpredictability, deep down, is natural, an extension of his faith, even though some perceive it as odd.

Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
“These are his anomalies, they may seem like anomalies, but we've been deforming life and what should be normal, now seems odd. It's to be beside those who need us, or to go beyond pre established notions to speak to one another, it may seem odd, but it's not.”

While the faithful in Buenos Aires, are happy to have a Pope from their land, they are also a bit saddened to lose a bishop who was so close to them.

Papal Quote: Pope Francis on Education

In the Bible, God presents himself as a teacher. “I myself taught Ephraim to walk, I myself took them by the arm,” it says. A believer is obliged to raise his children. Every man and every woman has a right to educate their children in their religious values. When a government deprives children of this formation, it can lead to cases like Nazism, when children were indoctrinated with values which were alien to the ones held by their parents. Totalitarianism tends to take over education to feather its own nest…

~ Pope Francis

Via Tim Drake at the Cardinal Newman Society. Read his entire article here.

Following Jesus

Saint Lea of Rome

March 22 is the liturgical memorial of Saint Lea of Rome, a fourth-century widow who left her wealth behind, entered consecrated life, and attained great holiness through asceticism and prayer.

Though not well-known as a figure of devotion in modern times, she was acknowledged as a saint on the testimony of her contemporary Saint Jerome, who wrote a brief description of Lea's life after she had died.

Jerome, a scholarly monk best known for his Latin translation of the Bible (the Vulgate), is the Church's only source of information on St. Lea, whose biographical details are unknown. St. Jerome eulogized her in a letter written during the year 384 to his student and spiritual directee Marcella, another Roman consecrated woman who had left her aristocratic life behind after being widowed.

It is clear from his letter that Lea was a mutual friend to both Jerome and Marcella. Jerome states that his account is written to “hail with joy the release of a soul which has trampled Satan under foot, and won for itself, at last, a crown of tranquility.” Jerome also contrasts the life of “our most saintly friend” with that of the late pagan public official Praetextatus, held up by Jerome as a cautionary example.

“Who,” Jerome begins, “can sufficiently eulogize our dear Lea's mode of living? So complete was her conversion to the Lord that, becoming the head of a monastery, she showed herself a true mother to the virgins in it, wore coarse sackcloth instead of soft raiment, passed sleepless nights in prayer, and instructed her companions even more by example than by precept.”

Jerome describes how Lea, in her great humility, “was accounted the servant of all … She was careless of her dress, neglected her hair, and ate only the coarsest food. Still, in all that she did, she avoided ostentation that she might not have her reward in this world.”

Jerome's letter goes on to compare her fate to that of Praetextus – who died in the same year as Lea, after spending his life promoting a return to Rome's ancient polytheistic pagan religion. The monk retells Jesus' parable of Lazarus and Dives, with Lea in the place of the poor and suffering man.

Lea, Jerome says, is “welcomed into the choirs of the angels; she is comforted in Abraham's bosom. And, as once the beggar Lazarus saw the rich man, for all his purple, lying in torment, so does Lea see the consul, not now in his triumphal robe but clothed in mourning, and asking for a drop of water from her little finger.”

Thus Lea, “who seemed poor and of little worth, and whose life was accounted madness,” triumphs in salvation. But the punishment of infidelity falls on the consul-elect – who had led a triumphant procession just before his death, and been widely mourned afterward.

Jerome ends his letter by urging Marcella to remember the lesson of St. Lea's life: “We must not allow … money to weigh us down, or lean upon the staff of worldly power. We must not seek to possess both Christ and the world. No; things eternal must take the place of things transitory; and since, physically speaking, we daily anticipate death, if we wish for immortality we must realize that we are but mortal.”

Thursday, March 21, 2013

USCCB: HHS mandate remains ‘unprecedented’ violation of religious liberty

In a 24-page response to the Obama administration’s most recent “accommodation” on the HHS mandate, the general counsel and associate general counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops stated that “the mandate continues to represent an unprecedented (and now sustained) violation of religious liberty by the federal government.”

“As applied to individuals and organizations with a religious objection to contraceptive coverage, the mandate violates the First Amendment, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act,” Anthony Picarello and Michael Moses continued.

They added:

The proposed regulation keeps in place a regulatory definition of “preventive” health care which includes items that do not prevent disease, but rather are intended to render a woman temporarily or permanently infertile, and may be associated with adverse health outcomes. Under the proposed regulation, most stakeholders are offered no exemption or accommodation. The proposed regulation creates an exemption that artificially and arbitrarily carves up the religious community into those deemed “religious enough” for the exemption and those that are not, generally excluding those who practice their faith by most visibly serving the common good. Finally, under the proposed “accommodation” for non-exempt religious organizations, plan premiums or the plan, or both, would continue to serve as the source or conduit for the objectionable “services.”

In short, the Administration continues to propose: (a) an unjust and unlawful mandate; (b) no exemption or “accommodation” at all for most stakeholders in the health insurance process, such as individual employees and for-profit employers; (c) an unreasonably and unlawfully narrow exemption for some nonprofit religious organizations, mostly houses of worship; and (d) an “accommodation” that still requires bona fide religious employers that fall outside the narrow government definition of “religious employer” to fund or facilitate the objectionable coverage.

~ Via Catholic World News.

Pope will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in a juvenile detention center, instead of Vatican

March 21, 2013. ( In the first month of his Pontificate,  the Vatican has announced that Pope Francis will celebrate Holy Thursday Mass with prisoners. On the afternoon of March 28th, the Pope will visit Rome´s Casal del Marmo, which is a jail for minors.
It´s actually the same prison, Benedict XVI visited back in March 18th  2007, when he celebrated Mass in the jail´s chapel.

Holy Thursday marks the Last Supper. It´s also the moment where Jesus washes the feet of his disciples, to teach them about the importance of service and humbleness. In fact, Pope Francis is planning of washing the feet of some of the inmates.

As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio would usually celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in a prison, hospital or with marginalized groups. As Pope, he will continue this tradition.

In the first few days of his pontificate, Pope Francis has highlighted the need to serve the poor, adding that true power doesn´t come with money or influence, but rather in service.

March for Marriage Set for Next Week in Washington DC

The National Organization for Marriage is sponsoring a march on Washington, DC on March 26, 2013 in support of  authentic marriage —the union of one man and one woman. They need your help. You can give a contribution to support the March for Marriage by going here.

March 26th will be a historic day and I heartily encourage you to be a part of it. If you can’t be there, please consider helping others attend.

Here is the latest news on the march from Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute:

By Austin Ruse

Much of the world looks to the United States for guidance on issues of social policy. The fact of abortion on demand in the U.S. has been a powerful example that other countries have continued to follow.

Marriage is the latest battleground social issue in the U.S. and in many parts of the world. So, all eyes not just in the U.S. but globally are turned to the U.S. Supreme Court on March 26 when oral arguments are heard in Washington DC.

Read More

Here's a prayer in Defense of Marriage from Tom Hoopes at Catholic Vote:

Prayer in Defense of Marriage

God our Father, we give you thanks
for the gift of marriage: the bond of life and love,
and the font of the family.

The love of husband and wife enriches your Church with children,
fills the world with a multitude of spiritual fruitfulness and service,
and is the sign of the love of your Son, Jesus Christ, for his Church.

The grace of Jesus flowed forth at Cana at the
request of the Blessed Mother. May your Son,
through the intercession of Mary, pour out upon us
a new measure of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit
as we join with all people of good will
to promote and protect the unique beauty of marriage.

May your Holy Spirit enlighten our society
to treasure the heroic love of husband and wife,
and guide our leaders to sustain and protect
the singular place of mothers and fathers
in the lives of their children.

Father, we ask that our prayers
be joined to those of the Virgin Mary,
that your Word may transform our service
so as to safeguard the incomparable splendor of marriage.
We ask all these things through Christ our Lord,

Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
St. Joseph, Husband of Mary, pray for us.


Gosnell Abortion Clinic Worker Admits Snipping Spines of 10 Babies

This is such a disgusting and horrific story that it is difficult for me to even report on it here, but I am doing so because people need to know the truth. Also, the mainstream media certainly won't report on it. This is an example of why we need to pray for an end to abortion and to become active in the pro-life movement. How could someone do this to an innocent baby?

Via Steven Ertelt at

Not only did abortion practitioner Kermit Gosnell snip the spines of babies he killed in his gruesome live-birth abortion process, an abortion clinic worker who worked for him admitted today she did too.

Gosnell is charged with more than 30 criminal counts including the killing of seven newborn infants and a female patient in a botched abortion. Day one of the trial took place yesterday with opening statements and AP has more on an interesting revelation that came to light today.

Read the entire story.

Lenten Reflection: The End of Winter


Two Saints for Two Popes

Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frasinello

The saint of the day for March 21st is Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frasinello.

Benedetta Cambiagio Frasinello was born on October 2, 1791 in Langasco (Genoa) Italy; she died on  March 21,1858 in Ronco Scrivia in Liguria. She was a wife, religious and foundress. She let the Holy Spirit guide her through married life to the work of education and religious consecration. She founded a school for the formation of young women and also a religious congregation, and did both with the generous collaboration of her husband. Benedetta was a pioneer in her determination to give a high quality education to young women, for the formation of families for a "new Christian society" and for promoting the right of women to a complete education.

Call to marriage, then to religious life

From her parents Benedetta received a Christian formation that rooted in her the life of faith. Her family settled in Pavia when she was a girl. When she was 20 years old, Benedetta had a mystical experience that gave her a profound desire for a life of prayer and penance, and of consecration to God. However, in obedience to the wishes of her parents, in 1816, she married Giovanni Frassinello and lived married life for two years. In 1818, moved by the example of his saintly wife, Giovanni agreed that the two should live chastely, "as brother and sister" and take care of Benedetta's younger sister, Maria, who was dying from intestinal cancer. They began to live a supernatural parenthood quite unique in the history of the Church.

Congregation founded by wife, who is supported by her husband

Following Maria's death in 1825, Giovanni entered the Somaschi Fathers founded by St Jerome Emiliani, and Benedetta devoted herself completely to God in the Ursuline Congregation of Capriolo. A year later she was forced to leave because of ill health, and returned to Pavia where she was miraculously cured by St Jerome Emiliani. Once she regained her health, with the Bishop's approval, she dedicated herself to the education of young girls. Benedetta needed help in handling such a responsibility, but her own father refused to help her. Bishop Tosi of Pavia asked Giovanni to leave the Somaschi novitiate and help Benedettain her apostolic work. Together they made a vow of perfect chastity in the hands of the bishop, and then began their common work to promote the human and Christian formation of poor and abandoned girls of the city. Their educational work was of great benefit to Pavia. Benedetta became the first woman to be involved in this kind of work. The Austrian government recognized her as a "Promoter of Public Education".

She was helped by young women volunteers to whom she gave a rule of life that later received ecclesiastical approval. Along with instruction, she joined formation in catechesis and in useful skills like cooking and sewing, aiming to transform her students into "models of Christian life" and so assure the formation of families.

Benedictine Sisters of Providence

Benedetta's work was considered pioneering for those days and was opposed by a few persons in power and by the misunderstanding of clerics. In 1838 she turned over the institution to the Bishop of Pavia. Together with Giovanni and five companions, she moved to Ronco Scrivia in the Genoa region. There they opened a school for girls that was a refinement on what they had done in Pavia.

Eventually, Benedetta founded the Congregation of the Benedictine Sisters of Providence. In her rule she stressed the education of young girls. She instilled the spirit of unlimited confidence and abandonment to Providence and of love of God through poverty and charity. The Congregation grew quickly since it performed a needed service. Benedetta was able to guide the development of the Congregation until her death. On March 21, 1858 she died in Ronco Scrivia.

Her example is that of supernatural maternity plus courage and fidelity in discerning and living God's will.

Today the Benedictine Nuns of Providence are present in Italy, Spain, Burundi, Ivory Coast, Peru and Brazil. They are at the service of young people, the poor, the sick and the elderly. The foundress also opened a house of the order in Voghera. Forty years after the death of Benedetta, the bishop separated this house from the rest of the Order. The name was changed to the Benedictines of Divine Providence who honor the memory of the Foundress.

She was beatified by John Paul II on May 10, 1987.

Quote: "When God wants something, He does not fail to find the appropriate means." ~ Saint Benedetta Cambiagio Frasinello

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Trip Confirmed: Pope Francis will travel to Brazil to lead World Youth Day 2013

March 20, 2013. (  Pope Francis has confirmed that he will travel to Brazil at the end of July to lead World Youth Day 2013.

For now, it's his first and only confirmed trip. Catholic youths are already looking forward to it. In fact close to 2 million are expected.

After celebrating his Inaugural Mass, the pope met with Brazil's president Dilma Rousseff. The Pope confirmed that he will indeed visit the country.

In light of this trip, other presidents like that of Mexico, Colombia and his native Argentina have invited Pope Francis to visit their countries as well.

Pope Francis sends well wishes to Benedict XVI for his saint's day

Vatican City, 20 March 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday afternoon, Pope Francis made a phone call to Pope emeritus Benedict XVI to express his well wishes on the Pope emeritus' saint's day—St. Joseph. Again he also declared his, and the Church's, gratitude for the Pope emeritus' service. It was a long and cordial call. The Pope emeritus has attentively followed the events of recent days, in particular the Mass of inauguration of the new pontiff's Petrine ministry, and he assured his successor of his continued closeness in prayer.

St. Maria Josefa of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

The saint of the day for March 20th is St. Maria Josefa of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

"Do not believe that caring for the sick consists only in giving them medicine and food; there is another kind of care which you should never forget, that of the heart which seeks to adapt to the suffering person, going to meet his needs.” These are the words of one whose mind and heart were fully seized of a mission, Saint Maria Josefa of the Heart of Jesus. The mission: to be a “neighbor” to the sick and the suffering in the world.

Canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1 in the Jubilee Year 2000, St Maria Josefa was the Foundress of the Institute of the Servants of Jesus of Charity. Conceived in the year 1871 in Bilbao, Spain, this Institute, totally dedicated to nursing the sick with a contemplative approach, has a presence of more than 1000 members in some 43 houses spread across the globe.

Maria Josefa was the oldest daughter of Bernabe Sancho and Petra de Guerra born on September 7,1842 in Vitoria, Spain. At the age of two, she had an accident that left her legs paralyzed. Her parents took her to the shrine of St. Michael the Archangel in Aralat, where she was miraculously healed. Consequently, she began a lifetime devotion to him.

At the age of 15, Maria Josefa lost her father. Very early in life, she nurtured a strong devotion to the Eucharist, the Sacred Heart and our Blessed Mother. She was deeply inclined towards solitude; however, a severe bout of typhus put an end to her plans to join the contemplative Conceptionists of Aranjuez in 1860. Feeling called, then, to an active religious life, she joined the Servants of Mary, an Institute newly founded in Madrid by St. Soledad Torres Acosta. She was sent to the poorest districts of Madrid, which opened her eyes and her heart to the needs of the sick and the poor. During the plague of 1861, she worked tirelessly, caring for the sick. Realizing now that her vocation lay in exclusively caring for the sick and the suffering in hospitals and at home, she left the Institute together with three other sisters who shared her vision and embarked on her hew venture.

 Maria Josefa founded a new order in Bilbao in the spring of 1871, when she was twenty nine years old. For the next forty-one years, she was superior of the new Institute of the Servants of Jesus.

As superior, Maria Josefa undertook long, grueling visits to the growing number of her communities until a protracted illness, obliging her to stay in bed or remain seated, confined her to the house at Bilbao, from where she maintained her contacts wholly by correspondence. Sharing intimately in the suffering of the crucified Lord, she passed away on  March 20, 1912.

Her holy death caused great impact to Bilbao and in other numerous localities where she was known through the houses of her Institute. In the same way, her funeral had an extraordinary resonance. She was buried in the municipal cemetery of Bilbao. In 1926, her fame of sanctity grew and her mortal remains were transferred to the Mother House of the Institute and have been buried in the chapel until now.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Pope Francis' first popemobile ride

Heads of States Greet Pope Francis

Pope's Inauguration Mass: Protect and serve the poor, elderly

March 19, 2013. ( Rome was bright and sunny this morning as thousands of people made their way to St. Peter's Square to celebrate the Pope's Inauguration Mass. Doors opened at about 6: 30 am and by then many were ready to get a good spot.

The newly elected Pope passed through St. Peter's Square in the Popemobile, as people waved their flags and congratulated him. It was precisely during this journey that the Pope saw a disabled person among the thousands gathered there. He got out of the car, walked over and personally blessed him.

Along with cardinals and patriarchs, the Pope then prayed a few minutes in silence, before the tomb of St. Peter.

In the background the “Thou art Peter” song was being played as more than 150,000 people waited to celebrate Mass with the new Pope. Cardinal Deacon Jean Louis Tauran gave him the pallium, which is a religious stole with six red crosses.  Then Cardinal Angelo Sodano gave the Pope his Fisherman's ring, which is emblematic of each Papacy.

During the Homily, the Pope honored the works of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, whom he congratulated for his feast day of St. Joseph.

In his Homily the Pope said that the heart, the center of Catholicism is Christ. He then added that true power comes with service. He said St. Joseph is a perfect example of this. He looked over Mary, Jesus and the whole Church.

“In him, dear friends, we learn how to respond to God’s call, readily and willingly, but we also see the core of the Christian vocation, which is Christ! Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!

Many heads of state attended the Mass. A total of 132 delegations from every corner of the world attended. The Pope called on them to respond to their public and social responsibilities.

“Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be "protectors" of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment.”

The Pope then added that one should not be afraid to combine firmness with kindness and tenderness. Once again he made a call to help those who need it most.

“Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross.”

Before concluding his Homily, the Pope once again asked that Our Lady help him during his pontificate. He also prayed to St. Francis of Assisi. Just like the day he was elected Pope, he asked for all Christians to pray for him.

With this ceremony, Pope Francis officially begins his pontificate as the first Latin American Pope of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis - "Thrift Shop" Macklemore Parody

Monday, March 18, 2013

St. Joseph

Today is the solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Virgin Mary, foster father of Jesus, and patron of the universal Church.  On May 31, we honor St. Joseph as the patron of workers.

Most of the reliable information on St. Joseph is contained in the first two chapters of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Here we discover that Joseph was of royal descent from David, that the family was from Bethlehem in Judea and that Joseph, who was a builder, had moved from Bethlehem to Nazareth in Galilee.

Joseph was engaged to Mary and upon learning that she was pregnant; he had plans to divorce her. Described in Matthew as a righteous man, he intended to dismiss her quietly. Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream to tell him, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins" (MT 1:20-21). "When Joseph woke from sleep he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him." (MT 1: 24).

What a strong man of faith Joseph was! How he must have suffered, not knowing the secret of Mary's incarnation. Of course, she could not tell him - he would not have understood. "It was a mystery beyond the capacity of the human intellect and the possibilities of human language." (Pope John Paul II, The Holy Father's homily during the celebration of Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph, at the L. Liberati Stadium. Vatican, March 1981.)

Pope Benedict XVI shared the following: "St. Joseph teaches us that it is possible to love without possessing. "

"In contemplating Joseph, all men and women can, by God's grace, come to experience healing from their emotional wounds, if only they embrace the plan that God has begun to bring about in those close to him, just as Joseph entered into the work of redemption through Mary and as a result of what God had already done in her."

"Joseph was caught up at every moment by the mystery of the Incarnation. Not only physically, but in his heart as well, Joseph reveals to us the secret of a humanity which dwells in the presence of mystery and is open to that mystery at every moment of everyday life."

"In Joseph, faith is not separated from action. His faith had a decisive effect on his actions. Paradoxically, it was by acting, by carrying out his responsibilities, that he stepped aside and left God free to act, placing no obstacles in his way. Joseph is a 'just man because his existence is 'ad-justed' to the word of God."

"The life of Saint Joseph, lived in obedience to God’s word, is an eloquent sign for all the disciples of Jesus who seek the unity of the Church."

"His example helps us to understand that it is only by complete submission to the will of God that we become effective workers in the service of his plan to gather together all mankind into one family, one assembly, one 'ecclesia.'"

Patron: Against doubt; against hesitation; Americas; Austria; Diocese of Baton Rouge, Louisiana; California; Belgium; Bohemia; bursars; cabinetmakers; Canada; Carinthia; carpenters; China; confectioners; craftsmen; Croatian people (in 1687 by decree of the Croatian parliament) dying people; emigrants; engineers; expectant mothers; families; fathers; Florence, Italy; happy death; holy death; house hunters; immigrants; interior souls; Korea; laborers; Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin; Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky; Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire; Mexico; Diocese of Nashville, Tennessee; New France; New World; Oblates of Saint Joseph; people in doubt; people who fight Communism; Peru; pioneers; protection of the Church; Diocese of San Jose, California; diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; social justice; Styria, Austria; travelers; Turin Italy; Tyrol Austria; unborn children Universal Church; Vatican II; Vietnam; Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston West Virginia; wheelwrights; workers; working people.

The Rites Prior to the Papal Inauguration Mass

Before the Inauguration Mass begins, there are the rites specific to the beginning of the Bishop of Rome's Petrine Ministry. These include:

The Imposition of the Pallium
Made of lamb’s wool and sheep’s wool, the Pallium is placed on the Pope's shoulders recalling the Good Shepherd who carries the lost sheep on his shoulders. The Pope’s Pallium has five red crosses while the Metropolitans’ Palliums have five black crosses. The one used by Francis is the same one that Benedict XVI used. It is placed on the Pope’s shoulders by Cardinal proto-deacon Tauran and, after the imposition, there is a prayer recited by Cardinal proto-presbyter Daneels.

The Fisherman’s Ring
Peter is the fisherman Apostle, called to be a “fisher of men”. The ring is presented to the Pope by Cardinal Deacon Sodano (first of the Order of Bishops). It bears the image of St. Peter with the keys. It was designed by Enrico Manfrini The ring was in the possession of Archbishop Macchi, Pope Paul VI's personal secretary, and then Msgr. Malnati, who proposed it to Pope Francis through Cardinal Re. It is made of silver and gold.

The “Obedience”
Six cardinals, two from each order, among the first of those present approach the Pope to make an act of obedience. Note that all the Cardinal electors already made an act of obedience in the Sistine Chapel at the end of the Conclave and that all the cardinals were able to meet the Pope in the following day’s audience in the Clementine Hall. Also, at the moment of “taking possession” of the Cathedral of Rome—St. John Lateran—it is expected that the act of obedience will be made by representatives of the various members of the People of God.

Papal Coat of Arms
The pontiff's papal coat of arms and motto are the same that he used as bishop. The shield has a bright blue background, at the center top of which is a yellow radiant sun with the IHS christogram on it representing Jesus (it is also the Jesuit logo). The IHS monogram, as well as a cross that pierces the H, are in red with three black nails directly under them. Under that, to the left, is a star representing Mary, Mother of Christ and the Church. To the right of the star is a nard flower representing Joseph, Patron of the Universal Church. With these symbols the Pope demonstrates his love for the Holy Family.

What distinguishes his coat of arms as pontiff is that, instead of the wide-brimmed, red cardinal's hat atop the shield, it is now crowned by the papal tiara and crossed keys.

His motto—“miserando atque eligendo” (because he saw him through the eyes of mercy and chose him)—is taken from the Venerable Bede's homily on the Gospel account of the call of Matthew. It holds special meaning for the Pope because—when he was only 17-years-old, after going to confession on the Feast of St. Matthew in 1953—he perceived God's mercy in his life and felt the call to the priesthood, following the example of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Fr. Z. translates this Latin motto as “By showing compassion and by choosing”.


Nearly 200 political and religious delegations expected for Inauguration Mass at St. Peter's Square

Preparations are nearly finalized for the Inauguration Mass on Tuesday for Pope Francis. The Vatican says over 200 religious and political delegations confirmed their attendance, the largest of which hail from the Pope's native Argentina, as well as Italy.

The Mass will begin at 9:30AM, but activity starts nearly an hour before,when the Pope takes a ride across St. Peter's Square before getting ready inside the Basilica. For just the second time, he will be joined by other Catholic leaders.

Vatican Spokesperson
“The patriarchs and the major archbishops, the leaders of all the Eastern Catholic Churches will take part. They along with the Pope will head down to the Tomb of St. Peter to pay homage, and pray.”

They will lead a procession with the Fisherman's ring and stole, symbolizing the Pope's role as the Shepherd or the Church.

Once in the Square, Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, as Protodeacon, will place the stole on him. Cardinal Godfried Danneels, as Protopriest, will lead a prayer. And the Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano, will hand him the newly-designed, gold-plated, silver Fisherman's ring.

Vatican Spokesperson
“This time around the Pope will receive a ring featuring Saint Peter with the papal keys.”

Six cardinals, two from each order in the college, will then render the homage of obedience to the Pope, sealing the inauguration ceremony as Pope.

But it then gives way to the solemn Mass for the Feast Day of St. Joseph. As has been his style, Pope Francis will shorten the ceremony to make it simpler. A notable change, and perhaps also a nod to the Oriental Catholic Churches, will be the Gospels.

Vatican Spokesperson
“For simplicity, during this Mass the Gospels will be sung only in Greek, because the rest of the Mass will be in Latin.”

After the mass is over, the Pope will head back inside the Basilica and greet the delegates from 132 countries that have confirmed their participation so far.

Several interfaith leaders will also be there, most prominently, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, as well as delegates from 32 other Christian and 16 Jewish groups. Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh and Jainism delegates will also be in attendance. The Vatican is expecting at least 200,000 faithful to attend.

St. Cyril of Jerusalem

The saint of the day for March 18 is St. Cyril of Jerusalem, a fourth-century Bishop and Doctor of the Church whose writings are still regarded as masterful expressions of Christian faith.

St. Cyril is also remembered for his exhaustive Biblical knowledge, and his endurance in the face of misunderstanding and opposition. Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, who likewise celebrate him as a saint on March 18, also remember him on May 7 – the date of a miraculous apparition said to have occurred soon after his consecration as a bishop.

What we know of Cyril's life is gathered from information concerning him from his younger contemporaries, Epiphanius, Jerome, and Rufinus, as well as from the fifth-century historians, Socrates, Sozomen and Theodoret.

Cyril was most likely born in Jerusalem around the year 315, shortly after the legalization of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire.

Although that legalization put a stop to many of the persecutions that threatened the Church for two centuries, it indirectly gave rise to a number of internal controversies – both in regard to theology, and the jurisdiction of bishops – in which Cyril would find himself involved.

Cyril received an excellent education in classical Greek literature as well as the Bible. He was ordained to the priesthood by Bishop Maximus of Jerusalem, and succeeded him as bishop in 348.

During his early years as a bishop, most likely around 350, he delivered a series of lectures to new initiates of the Catholic Church. Twenty-four of the lectures have survived and are studied today. In a 2007 general audience, Pope Benedict XVI praised the saint for providing an “integral” form of Christian instruction, “involving body, soul, and spirit.” St. Cyril's teaching, the Pope said, “remains emblematic for the catechetical formation of Christians today.

In 351, three years after Cyril became the Bishop of Jerusalem, a large cross-shaped light appeared for several hours in the sky over the city – an event that many interpreted as a sign of the Church's triumph over heresy. It could also, however, be understood as a sign of the suffering the new bishop would undergo in leading his flock.

Unlike many other Eastern bishops and priests of the fourth century, Cyril did not allow his classical learning to lead him away from believing in the full humanity and divinity of Christ.

However, the man who consecrated Cyril as a bishop, Archbishop Acacius of Caesarea, was an ally of the Arians – who claimed that Jesus was a creature and not God. Because of his connection to the archbishop, Cyril himself was unjustly suspected of heresy by many of his brother bishops.

But he also found himself at odds with Archbishop Acacius, who claimed to have jurisdiction over the birthplace of the Church. Altogether, these disputes led to Cyril being exiled from Jerusalem three times in the course of 20 years.  Cyril first took refuge with Silvanus, Bishop of Taraus. He appeared at the Council of Seleucia in 359, in which the semi-Arian party was triumphant. Acacius was deposed and St. Cyril seems to have returned to his see. But the emperor was displeased at the turn of events, and, in 360, Cyril and other moderates were again driven out, and only returned at the accession of Julian in 361. In 367, a decree of Valens banished all the bishops who had been restored by Julian, and Cyril remained in exile until the death of the persecutor in 378. In 380, St. Gregory of Nyssa came to Jerusalem on the recommendation of a council held at Antioch in the preceding year. He found the Faith in accord with the truth and expressed admiration of his pastoral efforst, but the city was a prey to parties and corrupt in morals.

In 381, St. Cyril participated in the Second Ecumenical Council, which condemned two different forms of Arianism and added statements about the Holy Spirit to the Nicene Creed of 325. St. Cyril of Jerusalem died in 387, and was named a Doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1883.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fr. Robert Barron's Word from Rome: Update #7

Father Barron sends his final greetings from Rome, sharing about the media audience with Pope Francis in the Paul VI Audience Hall. Pope Francis spoke to the press about the good, the true, and the beautiful. In addition, he offered the reasoning behind his choice of the papal name Francis. Father Barron ties this message to the notion of the "preferential option for the poor" and speaks about Pope Francis' angelus talk on God's forgiveness.

Please continue to pray for Pope Francis as we approach the Papal Mass on the Feast of St. Joseph, March 19, 2013.

Pope Francis' simplicity and humor seem to be winning over hearts

Pope Francis has certainly won my heart. I could tell he was a humble man, when I first saw him on EWTN. Everything we have been reading about him in Catholic news reports points to his humility and love for God and the poor. Then, just the other day, my husband shared this with me, which opened my heart to him. He reminds me of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta in many ways. Mother Teresa opened a home in America for AIDS patients and she urged the destitute and dying to come to her for care, even when they had been rejected by their own families. Pope Francis washed and kissed the feet of AIDS patients in Argentina. There is much that I could say about him, but you can learn so much about him just by watching him interact with people and listening to him.

March 17, 2013. ( It seemed like there was no more room in St. Peter's Square or along surrounding streets. Hundreds of thousands of people came to hear the first Angelus of Pope Francis. Early risers or just those who were just lucky, got a good spot, but mostly people saw the Pope from the large screens set up along St. Peter's Square.

“Words of freedom, of hope-that's what we want. It's what we need.”

“He seems to be a very kind man, very simple, kind and decent. I think he will do a very good job.”

“He has taken all of us by surprise, by his simplicity and also by his closeness to the poor. Long live the Pope.”

His simple and humble style seems to be conquering the hearts of people worldwide. In fact this Pope seems to improvise quite a bit. In fact it seems like he forgot to say the Angelus in other languages.

“Usually he would speak in different languages and we were hoping for that, but that's ok.”

“He's not a European. He's seen worldwide and that's very important.”

“I love that his words are very simple. They touch everyone. He's a very humble Pope, very human and good, especially what he said today about mercy.”

After celebrating the Angelus, the Pope wrote on Twitter. He thanked the crowd and also asked them to keep on praying for him.

Pope's first Angelus: God never gets tired of forgiving.

March 17, 2013. ( On Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated his first Angelus. With thousands of cheering pilgrims, he reflected on the Gospel, emphasizing that God never gets tired of forgiving, but rather it's people who get tired of asking for forgiveness. The Pope also talked about a book Cardinal Walter Kapser wrote, which focuses on mercy.

“Recently, I read a book authored by Cardinal Kasper, who is a great theologian. It deals with mercy and it has helped me quite a bit. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to publicize the writings of my cardinals. God understands us. He waits for us. He doesn't get tired of forgiving us, if we repent and go to him with a truly open heart.”

This time around the Pope only spoke in Italian. Usually a greeting and summary is given in about eight languages. He gave an improvised farewell at the end, which got much applause.

“Never forget this: The Lord never gets tired of forgiving us. It is we, who get tired of asking for forgiveness. Have a great Sunday and a great lunch!”

From flags to cheers, St. Peter's Square was quite full. The Vatican says at least 150,000 people gathered in the Square and along surrounding streets to hear the Angelus of the first Latin American Pope.

St. Patrick, Apostle of Ireland

The saint of the day for March 17th is St. Patrick.

St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about 385 AD. His given name was Maewyn. Until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. He was kidnapped from the British mainland at that time by a group of Irish raiders who sold him into slavery. He escaped from slavery after six years and returned to his homeland. There he heard the call to return and bring Christianity to Ireland, so he went to Gaul and studied in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for a period of twelve years.

He was ordained a priest, consecrated a bishop and returned to Ireland around 435 AD. Patrick was quite successful at winning converts, which led to clashes with the Celtic Druids. He was arrested several times, but escaped each time. He traveled throughout Ireland, establishing monasteries across the country. He also set up schools and churches which would aid him in his conversion of the Irish country to Christianity. In thirty-three years, he successfully converted Ireland. After that time, Patrick retired to County Down. He died on March 17, 461.

Patron: Ireland; against snakes; archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts; diocese of Burlington, Vermont; engineers; excluded people; fear of snakes; diocese of Fort Worth, Texas; diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; archdiocese of New York; Nigeria; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; diocese of Portland, Maine; diocese of Sacramento, California; snake bites.

Prayer: God our Father, you sent St. Patrick to preach your glory to the people of Ireland. By the help of his prayers, may all Christians proclaim your love to all men. 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.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Bible: Week 3 Sneak Preview

Riddled with corruption and greed, Israel and its monarchy are falling. As the warnings of Prophet Jeremiah are ignored, lowly King Zedekiah and his people are powerless to stop Babylonian invasion lead by the mighty King Nebuchadnezzar. Jerusalem is destroyed, and her people are forced into exile. With no city or temple, the Israelites must learn to keep God in their hearts. After years in Babylon, Daniel’s visions and unerring faith help to negotiate a return to Jerusalem under King Cyrus. But soon a new enemy will come and take over – the mighty Romans. Under the authority of greatest empire on Earth, the Jews are powerless in their own land, and the people crave a messiah to free them from brutal occupation.  And soon they shall have one. Mary is shocked to learn she will give birth to a child of God, as King Herod rages about the baby usurper to his throne. John the Baptist prepares the people for a new age, and the greatest leader yet. Jesus recruits his first disciple, Peter the fisherman, and now his mission can truly begin.

Pope Francis jokes with the Cardinals

By Brandon Vogt.

Fr. Barron: Word from Rome

Father Barron takes a prayerful tour around Rome, visiting the Pantheon, the tombs of St. Catherine of Siena, St. Ignatius of Loyola and St. Francis Xavier, and recalling some of the great saints who likely shaped the spirituality of our new pope, Pope Francis.

St. Eusebia, Benedictine Abbess

The saint of the day for March 16 is St. Eusebia (637-680), a Benedictine abbess, the daughter of Sts. Adalbald and Rictrudis and the great-granddaughter of Saint Gertrude the Elder.

Eusebia's father was murdered when she was eight. Following his death, she was sent to the abbey of Hamage, Doudi, France, which her great-grandmother had founded and served as abbess. Gertrude died when Eusebia was twelve years old and she was elected to replace her. Rictrudis, realizing her daughter had no hope of governing the abbey, but wanting to keep it under the protection of a noble house, merged Hamage with her own house of Marchiennes, and ordered all the sisters to move in together under her rule. Many of the uprooted sisters, including Eusebia, were unhappy with this order as it kept them from obeying Saint Gertrude‘s last request. After much time and debate, the dissident sisters were permitted to return to their old house, taking Gertrude‘s relics with them, and taking Eusebia as their abbess. The delay had allowed her to grow into the position, and she proved an excellent abbess.

Human Progress (Video)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pope greets Cardinals in a relaxed and at ease meeting

What a wonderful gift from God we have in our new Pope Francis! He is such a warm, wise, loving and humble man! Thank you, Lord, for our dear Papa Francis!

March 15, 2013. ( On Friday, Pope Francis had his official greeting with Cardinals. He had a brief speech prepared, but he frequently stopped adding spontaneous and improvised comments. This is the style that's marking the beginning of Pope Francis' pontificate. The Pontiff actually stumbled after greeting Cardinal Angelo Sodano, but he reacted quickly and recovered his balance.

He thanked the Cardinals for the all the conversations they had leading up to the Conclave and especially the day when he was elected Pope in the Sistine Chapel. He said the Holy Spirit has a role that can't be denied.

“It's interesting and it makes me think that it's the Holy Spirit that makes a difference in the Church. The Paraclete seems to be an apostle of Babel, yet it unites all these differences, not by equating them, but by harmonizing them.”

Once again, the new Pope thanked Benedict XVI for his pontificate and his teachings. Addressing the Cardinals as 'brothers,' he told them that Cardinal Mejía had suffered a stroke.

“Dear Brothers, let's show courage. Half of us are in our golden years. But old age is the source of wisdom. Elders carry the wisdom that comes with life. It reminds me of Simon and Anna in the Temple, who because of their age were able to recognize Jesus clearly. Let's pass on this wisdom to the young. Just like good wine, improves with time, so does wisdom. Let's pass this on to other generations.”

The Pope personally greeted the Cardinals, once again showing what seemed to be a warm personality with the College of Cardinals. He smiled quite often and made others laugh as well.

He seemed so at ease, that he immediately wore a bracelet that says 'I believe in God' that was given to him as a gift by South African Cardinal Napier. The Pope also kissed the hand of Vietnamese Cardinal Pham Minh Man.