Friday, May 31, 2013

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary: The Gift of Maternal Love

Today is the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which recalls Mary's visit with her cousin Elizabeth. This event is also the second joyful mystery of the rosary -- the first being the Annunciation.

Elizabeth had been barren all her life, but in the Annunciation, Mary learned that her cousin was miraculously expecting a child in her old age. Upon hearing this good news, Mary fervently desired to share in Elizabeth's joy and serve her during the last part of her pregnancy. So she went "with haste" to visit Elizabeth Both women rejoiced over their good fortune. What wonderful and exciting news they both had to share! I know what it is like to experience the heartbreak of infertility and can only imagine what a joy it would be to experience pregnancy and to share that bond with another woman. God wants all women to experience the beauty and joy of motherhood, even if they are unable to biologically have children. He wants some of us to adopt children and some of us to be spiritual mothers. There are so many who need the gift of maternal love.

Mary's first action after God had come to dwell in her was one of great maternal love. She shared the gift of  self-denying charity. She undertook a long,  hard journey in order to visit her cousin Elizabeth. Thus, she proclaimed charity to be the virtue which above all Christ brought with Him from heaven. God made Mary's visit the occasion of a wonderful miracle. On her entrance into St. Elizabeth's dwelling, St. John the Baptist was cleansed from sin in his mother's womb. Mary was the channel of this exceptional privilege of the cleansing away of sin in the case of the unborn child. As then, so now: Mary is the channel of all graces, and above all, of the restoration of the sinner to friendship with God. Mary's charity is not less present now than at the time of the Visitation. She is far more eager now than then to promote the happiness and console the sorrows of those who come to her for help.

Patronage: St. Elizabeth: Expectant mothers.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Novena to the Immaculate Heart of Mary begins today

Novena Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially ...(special intention).

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever. Amen.

Outrageous: Oregon Woman Allegedly Raped After 911 Operator's Unbelievable Response

In a horrifying case in Oregon, a woman was allegedly raped after her call to 911 went unanswered.

The situation is leading many to question how budget cuts are impacting public safety.

In August of 2012, the woman called for help after her violent ex-boyfriend showed up at her door. She was transferred to state police because her local sheriff’s department isn't staffed full time, but she didn't receive any help from them either.

In shocking audio, the dispatcher can be heard telling the woman she didn't have “anybody to send out there.”

Read more

Papal Quote of the Day: The Eucharist

“Jesus speaks in silence in the mystery of the Eucharist and each time reminds us that following him means to come out of ourselves and not make our life our possession, but a gift to him and to others.”

~ Pope Francis from his homily on May 30 at Rome’s Basilica of Saint John Lateran.

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The spirit of the liturgy from Benedict to Francis

Benedictine Abbot Michael Zielinski, an official at the Vatican's worship congregation, discusses the differences and similarities between the liturgical approaches of Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis.

Pope's Prayer Intentions for June

Vatican City, 31 May 2013 (VIS) - The Pope's general prayer intention for June is: “That a culture of dialogue, listening, and mutual respect may prevail among peoples.”

His mission intention is: “That where secularization is strongest, Christian communities may effectively promote a new evangelization.”

St. Joan of Arc

Related Post: St. Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc)

Pope will pray the rosary in St. Peter's Square to mark the end of May

May 30, 2013. ( On Friday, May 31st, at 8pm, Rome time, Pope Francis will pray the Rosary in St. Peter's Square, along with thousands of pilgrims. He will then give a reflection on why the Virgin Mary is important not only to the Church, but to him.  

It's no secret that the Pope feels a strong devotion towards Our Lady. The day after he was elected, he went to the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray before an image of the Virgin Mary. Then most recently, when he met with Catholic lay movements, he explained exactly why he likes to pray the rosary on a daily basis.

“The Virgin Mary is our mother. She knows everything. So, it's important for us to pray to Our Lady, so that she, as a mother, can give us strength. It has to do with our weakness, at least in my experience. One thing that gives me strength, is praying the Rosary to the Virgin Mary every day.  I feel it. I pray to her and I feel strong.”

Precisely during the Rosary prayer on Friday, an image of Our Lady will be carried out in St. Peter's Square. The invitation is open for all to take part.

Teenage Girl Becomes Infertile after Gardasil Vaccination

By Steven Mosher and Elizabeth Crnkovich

Gardasil has been controversial from the beginning. While other vaccines protect against diseases spread by casual contact, Gardasil was developed to protect against a sexually transmitted disease called Human Papilloma Virus or HPV. Merck & Co., the manufacturer, has been very effective at lobbying governments around the world to make the vaccine mandatory for school attendance. Despite the frequent objections of doctors and parents, it has been administered to tens of millions of 11- and 12-year-old young girls around the world.

Now comes the case of a 16-year-old Australian girl who suffered "premature ovarian failure" after receiving Gardasil. Her ovaries have shut down, her eggs have been destroyed, and she will never be able to have children. Read more.

St. Joan of Arc (Jeanne d'Arc)

The saint of the day for May 30th is the valiant warrior Saint Joan of Arc, French national heroine, who was born in Domremy, France, 1412 and died in Rouen, France, 1431.

When she was 13 years old, Joan began to hear the voices of Saints Michael the Archangel, Margaret of Antioch, and Catherine of Alexandria, urging her to free her country from the English. Joan’s visions told her to find the true king of France and help him reclaim his throne. She resisted for more than three years, but finally went to Charles VII in Chinon and told him of her visions. After overcoming opposition from churchmen and courtiers, she was given a small army with which she raised the siege of Orleans on May 8, 1429. Carrying a banner that read “Jesus, Mary”, she led the troops into battle.

She followed the famous campaign of the Loire during which the English were decisively beaten, and Charles was crowned at Rheims, on July 17, 1429.

When she was captured by the Burgundians during the defense of Compiegne, she was sold to the English for 10 thousand francs. She was then put on trial by an ecclesiastical court conducted by Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, a tool of the English. Although she astounded her judges by her answers, she was condemned to death as a heretic, and burned at the stake on May 30. In 1456, her case was re-tried, and Joan was acquitted (23 years too late). She was canonized by Pope Benedict XV in 1920.

Her virtues: Joan was trustful of God, brave in battle, benevolent in victory, and merciful toward those who betrayed her.

St. Joan is the patroness of: France, imprisoned people, martyrs, prisoners, people ridiculed for their piety, rape victims, soldiers, Women's Army Corps, WAVES, and Women Appointed for Voluntary Emergency Service.


“I place trust in God, my Creator, in all things; I love Him with all my heart.”                                                                                ~St Joan of Arc

Prayer of St. Joan of Arc For Healing

Composed by Andrea Oefinger

Holy Saint Joan, compassionate to the sick and wounded, who, while on earth, nursed so many back to health, hear me.

You who wished to see no one injured or in discomfort, pray for me and guide me through this difficult time.

Daughter of God, wounded many times in battle, I petition you for healing (here mention your request here) so that I may be better able to serve God in whatever capacity HE wishes. Intercede for me.

It may not be in God’s will for my body to be healed, for my sufferings may help another or my own soul. If my request is not granted, help me to remain strong, and instead be healed emotionally and spiritually. Amen.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Newborn who came back to life in mother’s arms gives hope to “futile” cases

A premature newborn in Australia, born along with his twin sister at just 27 weeks’ gestation and weighing in at only two pounds, was pronounced dead by his physician after medical staff tried for twenty minutes to revive him. Jamie Ogg, now a little over three years old, is alive today only because of the undying love and affection of his mother.

Read the story.

The unborn child, human touch, and music therapy

by Kathy Ostrowski

In 1979, before giving birth to the first of my five children, I was fascinated by “breaking” literature that encouraged talking and singing to your child in utero. I remember my husband’s puzzlement when I told him the “experts” said he should put his head close to my growing belly and talk to our baby!

I was reminded of how new that concept had been when Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert (who is my age) recounted his experience during that era. Gohmert is a member of the federal House Judiciary subcommittee that heard testimony on HR 1797, a bill that bans elective abortions when a baby is capable of feeling pain, which the bill recognizes as existing by 20 weeks fetal age.

During his brief comments at the hearing, Gohmert shared his experience with the premature birth of his first child, Katy. His wife asked him to do whatever he could to assist their daughter’s struggle to survive.

The neonatologist told him how important it was to caress and talk to Katy because, “Her eyes don’t work real well; she won’t recognize you. But she will know your voice, because she’s heard you in utero.” 
Read more

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus starts today

Efficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

I. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, ask and you will receive, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you." Behold I knock, I seek and ask for the grace of...... (here name your request)
Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

II. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you." Behold, in your name, I ask the Father for the grace of.......(here name your request) Our Father...Hail Mary....Glory Be To the Father....Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

III. O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away." Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of.....(here name your request) Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father...Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you.

O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours.

Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us.

~ St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Update: Mom Pleads for Help to Save Dying 10-Year-Old Daughter

Yesterday, I blogged about the parents of 10-year-old Sarah Murnaghan, who are fighting immoral federal organ donor rules, which are preventing her from getting the lung transplant she needs to save her life. Sarah has cystic fibrosis, and doctors say she has only weeks to live. But because Sarah is 10 years old and not 12, she can only receive a donor lung after all of the adult candidates have received the chance.

Today, Sarah's mother is pleading for her life. The following update is from FOX News:

Sarah’s mother, Janet, joined America’s Newsroom to plead for help for her little girl. She described the rules that are preventing Sarah from receiving a transplant. Candidates over the age of 12 are given a lung allocation score after doctors look at a number of factors associated with their condition, including the severity of their illness. “The organs are given out based on who’s the sickest. It’s basic triage medicine. The sickest patient is treated first,” Murnaghan said.

If a patient is under the age of 12, however, the lungs are not necessarily given to the sickest patients. Candidates are determined to be either priority 1 or priority 2, and the amount of time you have been waiting for an organ plays a part in determining where you fall on the list. Murnaghan stressed that these children also only have access to pediatric lungs, about 20 of which become available every year.

“It’s unreal to me that they are saying they can’t quantify my daughter’s illness when her doctors can quantify it. They’ve told me that we’re in the final weeks. That she will be intubated soon without a lung transplant. And that intubation with end-stage cystic fibrosis is the end. We are very close to the end. We have weeks,” she said.

Murnaghan is pushing for Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to override the rules so that Sarah can receive a transplant. “The children are at the back of the line and we need Madame Secretary to step in and say that’s not right,” she said.

While Sarah isn’t aware of the controversy surrounding her lung transplant, she is “aware that she is sick, that she is getting sicker, and she is worried that she is dying.”

Watch the video here.

Sign the Petition to change this immoral policy.

Mary, Untier of Knots

Pope Francis: Believing in Christ, but not in the Church is a contradiction

May 29, 2013. ( During his weekly catechesis Pope Francis talked about the role of the Church. But before that, the Pope made his way through St. Peter's Square where about 90,000 people were gathered. Despite the rainy weather, the Pope maid a point to greet the crowds.

“I congratulate all of you for having the courage to come out in the rain. You're strong!

Even if the weather wasn't ideal, there was time for some endearing moments like this one, where a boy gave Pope Francis a puppet that resembled  the Pontiff himself.
During his catechesis the Pope addressed the popular notion of those who say they believe in Christ, but not in the Church.

“There are those who say, 'I believe in God, but not in priests. I believe in Christ, but not in the Church.' But it's the very Church that leads us to Christ. The Church is God's family. And yes, it's true that the Church also has human characteristics in its members. From pastors to the faithful, there are defects, imperfections and sins. Even I, the Pope, have them.  But the beautiful thing is that we recognize that we are sinners. When we accept that we are sinners, we find the mercy of God. God always forgives, never forget this: God always forgives ".

He went on to explain that despite human limitations and sins, it is through the Church, that God's message is announced.

“Ask yourself: Do you love the Church? Do you pray for Her? Do you feel part of this family? What do you do so that others can feel heard and understood?”

Towards the end of the general audience,  the Pope invited pilgrims to take part in the Corpus Christi procession which will take place on Thursday night. It will run through the streets of Rome, starting at the  Basilica of St. John Lateran and ending in the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

St. Bona of Pisa

The saint of the day for May 29 is St. Bona of Pisa (1156 - 1207), virgin.

Bona was the daughter of a single mother who grew up believing that her father had vanished during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, when, in fact, her parents had never married. She discovered this through a vision, which led her to Jerusalem, where her she found her father alive.

She was a mystic and visionary. Bona experienced visions from early childhood of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saint James the Greater. By the age of ten,  she dedicated herself as an Augustinian tertiary. She regularly fasted from an early age, taking only bread and water three days a week.

At the age of 14, she made the first of many journeys, travelling to see her father who was fighting in the Crusades near Jerusalem. On her way home, she was captured and imprisoned by Islamic pirates in the Mediterranean, but was rescued by her countrymen. She made pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and to Spain nine times, leading groups of pilgrims each time. On her final pilgrimage, she became very ill, but was able to return to Pisa and died in her little room near the church of San Martino at the age of 51.

 In 1962, Bona of Pisa was canonized by Pope John XXIII. She is the patron saint of travelers, tour guides, pilgrims, flight attendants, and the city of Pisa.

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Flying Angels: Saving Lives One Flight at a Time

What if saving a life, was just a plane ticket away? What if the doctor who could cure you was half way across the world, but you had no money to buy a plane ticket? Massimo Pollio was involved in one of these cases. He says it's a tragedy, he will never forget.

10-Year-Old Fights for Her Life Due to "Immoral" Federal Policy

Ten-year-old Sarah Murnaghan is waiting for a lung transplant in a Philadelphia children's hospital, where she's dying from cystic fibrosis. Sarah needs a lung transplant to survive, but a little-known federal policy known as OPTN is standing in her way.

The young patient has been in the hospital since February, where doctors say she will die if she doesn't receive the organ transplant. However, the OPTN policy discriminates against children under the age of 12, meaning that Sarah would probably have received the lung if she was just two years older.

Read more

Sign the Petition to change this immoral policy.

June 2nd: Vatican invites Catholics around the world, to join the Pope in prayer

May 28, 2013. ( On June 2nd, Catholics worldwide will pray simultaneously. It will be a truly historic event: Pope Francis will lead the Eucharistic adoration in St Peter's Basilica, joined by the faithful in cathedrals all over the world.

President, Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization
“It will be a historic moment, because for an hour cathedrals throughout the world will be in communion with the Pope in Eucharistic adoration. We had a massive support to this initiative: it extends beyond the cathedrals and involves episcopal conferences, parishes and religious congregations, especially cloistered convents and associations.”

It is going to be a simple celebration, with no speech or homily by the Pope. However, the Vatican will broadcast footage of the Basilica and connect with countries around the world. Prayer will take place between 5 and 6 PM Italian time (16.00-17.00 GMT). In Mexico, it will be at 10 am, in Iceland at 3 in the afternoon. Korea and Japan will pray at midnight; Papua New Guinea at one in the morning and Honolulu at 5 am.

Secretary, Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization
“It will be a great encouragement for all Christians to know that we are praying together with the Holy Father for the same intentions. First of all, that the Church may be holier, purer and more immaculate. Also, we will pray for Christians to be an expression of the Lord's love and mercy. Finally, for something that the Holy Father holds very dear: that we may turn to those who suffer and travel to the outskirts of society.”

According to the Vatican, since the Year of Faith began on October 11, 2012, some 4.3 million pilgrims have participated in the scheduled events.

Another mass meeting is on the agenda in June: Evangelium Vitae Day, which will culminate in a Mass celebrated by the Pope in St. Peter's Square on Sunday 16.

Incredible Video: Rescuers Free Baby From Sewage Pipe After He Was Flushed Down a Toliet

(WARNING! Video may upset some viewers.)

by Hans Johnson

Last Saturday residents of an apartment building in Jinhua, China heard a baby’s cries from a toilet on the fourth floor, and saw a tiny foot sticking up from the bottom of the bowl.

Firefighters removed the section of pipe holding the baby and took it to the hospital where doctors and rescue workers carefully dismantled it piece by piece.

The newborn boy, found with the placenta still attached, is in stable condition.

Via Jill Stanek.

Wide-Ranging Concert Experience Follows Bishops’ Strategic Plan for the New Evangelization

I would love to see this act come to our Catholic Family Conference in Wichita next year! 

Array of Hope delivers an opportunity for Catholic families to encounter Jesus Christ through faith, worship and witness

ATLANTA, May 28, 2013 – In November of 2012, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its strategic plan for 2013-2016 titled “The New Evangelization/Journey With Christ: Faith-Worship-Witness.”  In it, the Bishops are exhorting US Catholics to encounter Christ more fully through greater participation in a community that focuses on marriage, the family and the life and dignity of the human person.

One of the means to engage the family is an experience that invites and reaches the whole family regardless of age. Te Deum Ministries has created a singular solution to how a diocese or parish can engage the entire family to participate in the community life of the Catholic Church and “engage and motivate a broad cross-section of Catholics.”

Through ARRAY OF HOPE, a two-hour multi-media extravaganza that features multiple musical acts, motivational speakers and thought-provoking film presentations, Te Deum Ministries is joyfully answering the Bishops’ three-fold movement to focus on Faith, Worship and Witness.

The unique concert experience also features Sacred Road, a rising faith-infused rock band whose first single, “I Need an Angel,” has been played on over 200 stations worldwide and charted on the CRW Global CHR, AC and Internet charts, all at No. 1. ARRAY OF HOPE also includes Aaron Thompson, a 20-year Catholic ministry veteran and versatile musician with five albums to his credit, and the Costa Crew, a new and exciting family band that exemplifies what is to enjoy, share and witness their faith as a family.

The Diocese of Trenton urges other dioceses to consider ARRAY OF HOPE for opportunities. “Array of Hope is an event you should seriously consider bringing to your parish or school. Open to all, the concert was a great success. The music was top notch, the witness talks inspiring, and its Catholic message authentic,” said the Vicar General, Monsignor Thomas Gravasio from the Diocese of Trenton.

The revolving lineup of charismatic speakers has included Chris Padgett, an established Catholic performer, author, speaker and singer-songwriter who is known for his inspiring talks that engage people of all ages.

Using various forms of media, including film and music, ARRAY OF HOPE uses modern means of technology to “inspire, motivate and catechize.”  The mission of ARRAY OF HOPE is to help people “rediscover the joy and confidence of believing in the Triune God and to enthusiastically profess that faith as a true encounter and relationship with Jesus Christ.” (Instrumentum Laboris, #18).

ARRAY OF HOPE emphasizes the importance of marriage and family life, as well as the sanctity and dignity of all human life, via uplifting music, thought-provoking films with inspirational messages and enlightening talks focused on Christ’s message of faith, hope and love.

Said Father James Pagnotta, who attended an experience in Jersey City at the historic Lowe’s Theater: “The music was great, the singers better, and storyline of Catholicity the best. Humor, message and theology were combined in a superb way that young and old came away with a sense of awe and pride of faith.”

For more information on Te Deum Ministries and/or ARRAY OF HOPE, or to schedule an interview with Mario Costabile, one of the co-creators and producers of ARRAY OF HOPE, please contact Kevin Wandra (404-788-1276 or of Carmel Communications.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Blessed Margaret Pole

On May 28, we commemorate Blessed Margaret Pole, Countess of Salisbury.

Margaret was born on August 14, 1473 at Farleigh Castle, Bath, Wiltshire, England, to George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence and Isabella Neville. Her father was a brother of both Kings Edward IV and Richard III of England. When she was about 20 years old, she married Sir Richard Pole and bore him five children.

Margaret was widowed, named Countess of Salisbury, and appointed governess to Princess Mary, daughter of Hemy VIII and Queen Catherine of Aragon, Spain. She opposed Henry’s marriage to Anne Boleyn, and the king exiled her from court, although he called her “the holiest woman in England.”

When her son, Cardinal Pole, denied Henry’s Act of Supremacy, the king imprisoned Margaret in the Tower of London for two years and then beheaded her on May 28. In 1538, her other two sons were executed. She was never given a legal trial. She was seventy when she was martyred. Margaret was beatified in 1886 by Pope Leo VIII.

Learn more about Margaret HERE.

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Praying for a Miracle: Please Join Us

My family has started praying for a miracle for my sister-in-law, Betty, who has an aggressive cancer. 

Please join us in praying for a miracle through the intercession of Venerable Father Emil Kapaun.

Prayer for Intercession

Father Emil Kapaun gave
glory to God by following
his call to the priesthood and
thus serving the people of Kansas
and those in the military.

Father Kapaun, I ask your
intercession not only for these needs
which I mention now. . .but that I
too may follow your example of
service to God and my neighbor.

For the gifts of courage in battle
and perseverance of faith,
we give you thanks O Lord.

Recite one Our Father, one Hail Mary,
and one Glory Be.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day 2013

This post is dedicated to all our military heroes -- especially those in my own family -- my dad, my brother, Michael, my sister, Susan, and my brother-in-law, Heinz. Thank you for your service!

A Prayer for Memorial Day

Remember, Lord, the fallen

Who died in fields of war,

In flaming clouds,

in screaming crowds,

On streets that are no more,

That we today might waken

And greet this day in peace

With grateful prayer for those who bear

The storms that never cease.

Remember friends and strangers,

And those forgotten now,

Whose names are known to you alone,

Before whose love we bow

And ask that you surround them

With mercy’s endless light

That they may live,

and we forgive

The foe they went to fight.

Remember, Lord, the living,

Who bear the pain of loss-

A death she died who stood beside

Her Son upon the cross.

Remember all your children

The dead and those who weep,

And make us one beneath the sun

Where love will never sleep.

Text: 7686D; Genevieve Glen, OSB; © 2005, Abbey of St. Walburga, Virginia Dale, CO. Published by OCP Publications.

Memorial Day: A Catholic perspective

St. Augustine of Canterbury

The saint of the day for May 27th is St. Augustine of Canterbury, an Italian Benedictine monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury in the year 598. He is not be confused with the earlier St. Augustine of Hippo, the famous author of the “Confessions” and “City of God.”

Augustine was the prior of a monastery in Rome when Pope Gregory the Great chose him to lead a party of forty monks to travel to south-eastern England to spread the Gospel there. They landed in 597, and were welcomed by the king of Kent, Ethelbert, who became a Christian along with many of his subjects.

Augustine went to Arles, in France, where he was consecrated archbishop of the English, and then returned to Canterbury to set up his see. The mission prospered, and he founded two more sees, at London and at Rochester in Kent.

Augustine died at Canterbury on May 26, 604.

St. Augustine has been called "Apostle of England" because of his missionary efforts. He is the patron of England.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Blogging Break

For the next several days, I will be taking a blogging break. See you soon!

St. Rita of Cascia

The saint of the day for May 22 is Saint Rita of Cascia, religious.

St. Rita was born at Rocca Porena, Italy, in 1386 to Antonio and Amata Lotti, who were quite advanced in years. Rita’s birth was an answer to their prayers. The family was well-known for their charity, which merited them the surname of "Peacemakers of Jesus Christ."

Rita brought much joy to her parents. She was a cheerful, amiable, pious and devout child who spent much of her time in prayer. At the age of twelve, she desired to consecrate herself to God in the religious state. Pious though her parents were, they refused her pleas, but instead gave her away in marriage, at the age of eighteen, to an ill-tempered young man who was the town watchman. The couple had two sons, who inherited their father's temperament. After 18 years of marriage, Rita’s husband was murdered by an old enemy. Her sons swore vengeance on their father’s killers, but through Rita's intercessory prayers, they forgave the offenders. Both of her sons died shortly afterwards.

Rita's former desire to consecrate herself to God in the religious life returned. On three separate occasions, she asked to be admitted to the Augustinian Nuns, but her request was refused each time, and she returned home to Rocca Porrena.

One night, as Rita was praying, she heard someone call her name and a knock on the door. Miraculously she was instantly transported to the Augustinian monastery. Astonished at the miracle, the Nuns received Rita, and accepted her as one of their own.

St. Rita lived a very austere life and performed many severe penances. After hearing a homily on the Passion of Christ she returned to her cell; kneeling before her crucifix, she prayed: "Let me, my Jesus share in Thy suffering, at least of one of Thy thorns". Her prayer was answered. Suddenly one of the thorns detached itself from Christ’s crown of thorns and fastened itself on her forehead so deeply that she could not remove it. The wound became worse, and gangrene set in. Because of the foul odor emanating from the wound, she was denied the companionship of the other Sisters for fifteen years.

As St. Rita was dying, she requested a relative to bring her a rose from her old home at Rocca Porrena. Although it was not the season for roses, the relative went and found a rose in full bloom. For this reason roses are blessed in the Saint's honor. She died May 22, 1456, and both in life and after death has worked many miracles. After St. Rita's death, her face became beautifully radiant, while the odor from her wound was as fragrant as that of the roses she loved so much. The sweet odor spread through the convent and into the church, where it has continued ever since. Her body has remained incorrupt to this day; the face is beautiful and well preserved.

 When St. Rita died her cell was aglow with heavenly light, while the great bell of the monastery rang of itself. A relative with a paralyzed arm, upon touching her sacred remains, was cured. A carpenter, who had known the Saint, offered to make the coffin. Immediately, he recovered the use of his long stiffened hands.St. Rita of Cascia was the first woman to be canonized in the Great Jubilee at the beginning of the 20th century, on May 24, 1900.


 Rita is well-known as a patron of desperate, impossible causes and situations. She is also the patron saint of abuse victims, difficult marriages, infertility, impossible causes, parenthood, sterility, and widows.


The saint of Cascia belongs to the great host of Christian women who "have had a significant impact on the life of the Church as well as of society" (Mulieris dignitatem, 27). Rita well interpreted the "feminine genius" by living it intensely in both physical and spiritual motherhood. ~ Pope John Paul II

 Prayer to Saint Rita

 Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita, you were humble, pure and patient. Your pleadings with your divine Spouse are irresistible, so please obtain for me from our risen Jesus the request I make of you: {mention your petition}. Be kind to me for the greater glory of God, and I shall honor you and sing your praises forever. Glorious Saint Rita, you miraculously participated in the sorrowful passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. Obtain for me now the grace to suffer with resignation the troubles of this life, and protect me in all my needs. Amen.

Vatican Museum celebrates restoration of Michelangelo's Pieta

The Vatican Museums are celebrating the 40th anniversary of the completion of restoration work on Michelangelo’s Pieta.

The Pieta, which stands in the nave of St. Peter’s basilica, was badly damaged on May 21, 1973, by a disturbed man, Laszlo Toth, who attacked the sculpture with a hammer. Painstaking restoration work was completed a year later.

To mark the 40th anniversary, the Vatican Museums hosted a series of events on the Pieta and the work of restoration. The sculpture, completed by Michelangelo when he was just over 20 years old, is now protected by bulletproof glass. The Vatican Museums have now begun protecting other sculptures by making 3-dimensional models as “clones” of the works.

In an entirely separate initiative, Vatican officials have begun tightening security in the Vatican Museums in response to increased presence of pickpockets, who prey on tourists especially in the Sistine Chapel.

Cardinal Burke: Social justice and the protection of human life

You just have to love U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke! He tells it like it is. In this video, he discusses the relationship between social justice concerns and the pro-life movement.

How to Help Victims of the Oklahoma Tornado

Please continue to pray for the victims of the Oklahoma tornado disaster. Those who wish to help victims of Monday's tornado in Moore, Okla., may donate through Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. Make a donation here.

St. Andrew the Apostle Church - the only Catholic parish in Moore - is without power and water, but according to initial reports, was not heavily damaged by Monday's tornado. A Mass will be celebrated at 5:30 p.m., if power is restored. If you would like to assist them, you may contact them here.

Pope Francis: True Power comes with service

May 21, 2013. ( During Tuesday's morning Mass at the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta, the Pope talked about the concept of power. Echoing the words he said during his Inaugural Mass, the Pope said true power comes in serving others. He also said there is no room for power struggles within the Church.  

“Real power is found in service. Just like Jesus, who didn't come to be served, but to serve. His service was seen on the Cross. He humbled Himself unto death, He died on a Cross for us, to serve us, to save us. It's with this path that the Church moves forward. For the Christian, getting ahead, progress, means humbling oneself. If we do not learn this Christian rule, we will never, ever be able to understand Jesus’ true message on power.”

During the Mass, the Pope also prayed for all the people who were affected by the tornado in Oklahoma. Among those in attendance where employees of Vatican Radio as well as Maria Voce, the president of the Focolares Movement and its vice-president Giancarlo Faletti.

Oklahoma bishop supports those grieving in Moore

Oklahoma City, Okla., May 21, 2013 / 03:15 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City traveled to Moore today to give his support and concern to those devastated by the tornado that swept through the town yesterday, May 20.

“I feel, as the archbishop, as a shepherd, I need to be there,” Archbishop Coakley told CNA while on his way to the suburb of Oklahoma City on May 21.

“I'm not sure…there's anything very practical I can do when I arrive, other than to show my pastoral concern and support, and give the assurance of my prayers to those who are indeed suffering.”

He added that “people are in such shock right now, we just want to accompany them in their suffering at this point.”

The tornado, which was two miles wide at its greatest, touched down mid-afternoon yesterday, and lashed the area for 45 minutes with winds of up to 200 mph. It destroyed homes, businesses, the local hospital and other buildings, including Plaza Towers Elementary School.

Officials have reported 24 dead, including nine children. Earlier reports of as many as 91 deaths were attributed to the double-reporting of some corpses.

The archbishop said that he and Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City will be assessing the needs of the situation. “We're organizing to provide immediate relief as well as long-term assistance in terms of people beginning to rebuild their lives, their homes.”

“We want to be available to provide ordinary pastoral care under the extraordinary situations.” He reported that the city's parish was undamaged, “so as soon as they have power and water restored in the parish, they can continue providing pastoral care to those who are in the area.”

He called the situation in Moore “hectic” and “chaotic,” and said that “at this point we're still in the process of assessing needs, is probably the most honest thing I could say.”

The archdiocesan Catholic Charities will focus on long-term response to the tornado, offering case management and counseling, he said.

William Banowsky, the agency's development director, told CNA that they are setting up a plan, coordinating with state, federal and local agencies “to work together on a cohesive plan.”

He said Catholic Charities “works with those affected long-term, so we're there for their immediate needs, finding shelter and clothing and things like that, but we work with them for up to three, four years, however long it takes for them to get back on their feet.”

Archbishop Coakley said, “what I'm suggesting to people who are wanting to do something immediately, is to go to the Catholic Charities of Oklahoma City website (, and they can donate online for the tornado disaster relief, and that will go completely to assist the victims.”

“And pray, please…we urge them to pray, to be mindful of the suffering individuals and families, and community of central Oklahoma.”

Archbishop Coakley said he's been “overwhelmed” by the support and prayers of those from across the country and the world, and that Oklahomans are “mindful and very grateful for that.” Full Story.

Pope praying for children, others struck by Oklahoma tornado

Pope Francis sent special condolences to those parents who lost their children in a tornado that killed around 100 people in Oklahoma.

“I am close to the families of all who died in the Oklahoma tornado, especially those who lost young children,” the Pope said on his Twitter account on May 21.

“Join me in praying for them,” he added. Pope Francis also tweeted the same message in Spanish.

Earlier in the day during his morning Mass in the Vatican, the Pope personally added a prayer intention for the tornado victims and those who are missing, especially the children.

Read the full story.

Related: Photos detail carnage after tornadoes strike Midwest

St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions, martyrs

Today we honor St. Christopher Magallanes, priest and martyr, and his companions, martyrs.

Christopher and his twenty-four companion martyrs were members of the Cristero movement, a response to  anti-Catholic government in Mexico in the 1920s.  The government was determined to weaken the Catholic faith of its people. Churches, schools and seminaries were closed; foreign clergy were expelled. Under the Cristero movement, members pledged their allegiance to Christ and to the church that he established to spread the Good News in society—even if Mexico's leaders had made it a crime to receive baptism or celebrate the Mass.

Christopher's last words were: "I am innocent and I die innocent. I forgive with all my heart those responsible for my death, and I ask God that the shedding of my blood serve the peace of our divided Mexico".

These martyrs were beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.

A major motion picture depicts the story of these martyrs. It is entitled "For Greater Glory."  If you have not seen this film yet, I highly recommend it. It is excellent!

Prayer for the Intercession of St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions

Almighty and eternal God,
who made the Priest Saint Christopher Magallanes
and his companions
faithful to Christ the King even to the point
of martyrdom,
grant us, through their intercession,
that, persevering in confession of the true faith,
we may always hold fast to the commandments
of your love.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Pope Francis to Catholic Lay Movements: Get out of your comfort zone

May 20, 2013. ( From Catholic Lay Movements, to associations and communities, about 200,000 people went to St. Peter's Square to celebrate the Pentecost Vigil with Pope Francis. The Pope called on them to never forget that Jesus should be at the center of everything they do.

“All of you out there on the Square have yelled out 'Francis, Francis, Pope Francis! But where is Jesus? I would have rather heard 'Jesus, Jesus is Lord and He is among us.' From now on, it shouldn't be 'Francis,' you scream out, it should be 'Jesus.'”

When it comes to the word crisis, the Pope said society often talks about the economy and not the needy.

“Today, it's painful to say, but a homeless man out on the street, freezing to death, isn't considered news. Nowadays, news is about  scandals! Oh a scandal! Yes, that's news. To think that even today, there are so many children that don't have anything to eat, yet that's not considered news. This is serious! It's serious! We cannot be quiet about this.”

So the Pope called on people to take action, to help out and to not be indifferent.

“Just like John Paul II and Benedict XVI said, today's world needs many witnesses. Not so much teachers, as witnesses. It's not about just talk. It's about talking through your actions. Living a coherent life. It's precisely about a coherent life.”

When it comes to living out this message, the Pope said the best way is by going out of one's comfort zone.

“This is dangerous. We lock ourselves in our parish, with our friends, in our movement, with those who think just like we do. But you know what happens? When the Church is closed off, it gets sick.”

As usual, Pope Francis took some time to greet pilgrims out in the Square and even in the nearby street of Via della Conciliazione.

St. Bernadine of Siena

The saint of the day for May 20th is St. Bernardine of Siena. A Franciscan friar and preacher, St. Bernardine is known as “the Apostle of Italy” for his efforts to revive the country's Catholic faith during the 15th century.

St. Bernardine was born in 1380 in Tuscany. His parents died when he was seven years old and he was taken in by relatives who raised him as if he were their own.

As a youth, he possessed a strong love for the Blessed Virgin Mary and spoke to her as a child speaks to his mother. She kept him chaste and pure. He had a special devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and later wrote that the Immaculate Heart of Mary was "a fiery furnace of Holy Love."

While still a student at the University of Siena, he took charge of the hospital there when an epidemic killed most of the staff. Later he looked after a bedridden aunt until her death.

At the age of 22, he became a Franciscan. He was an energetic and popular preacher who spent years travelling on foot throughout Italy preaching to huge audiences. As a priest, he promoted peace among the warring Italian cities, and worked hard for the reform of the Franciscan order and for church unity. He encouraged devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus and is known for his use of the monogram IHS. Bernadine died on May 20, 1444, at the age of sixty-four in Aquila, Italy.

Bernadine was declared a saint in 1450, by Pope Nicholas V.

Patron: advertisers; advertising; against hoarseness; communications; compulsive or uncontrolled gambling; gambling addicts; lungs; public relations; chest, respiratory, or lung problems; Aquila, Italy; diocese of San Bernardino, California; Italy

Quote: "Jesus, Name full of glory, grace, love and strength! You are the refuge of those who repent, our banner of warfare in this life, the medicine of souls, the comfort of those who morn, the delight of those who believe, the light of those who preach the true faith, the wages of those who toil, the healing of the sick. To You our devotion aspires; by You our prayers are received; we delight in contemplating You. O Name of Jesus, You are the glory of all the saints for eternity. Amen."

~ St. Bernardine of Siena

Prayer: Saint Bernardine of Siena, words were very important to you. You spent most of your life speaking the golden words of Jesus' mercy and his Holy Name. And you abhorred words that were shameful. Pray for us that we may always choose to speak Jesus' name with reverence and choose words of love over words of shame. Amen.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

All Things Pentecost

Pentecost is the birthday of the Church and personally, this year, the feast commemorates the 8th anniversary of my lifetime oblature to the Community of St. John. So, let's celebrate!

Here are some great posts on this feast day:

8 things to know and share about Pentecost by Jimmy Akin

I have Come to Cast a Fire on the Earth – A Meditation on the Feast of Pentecost by Msgr. Charles Pope

The Holy Spirit – The Principle of Unity throughout Scripture by Sister Benedicta Marie, O.C.D.

Celebrating Pentecost at Catholic Cusine

Two of my Favorite Hymns for Pentecost:

Friday, May 17, 2013

St. John I, pope and martyr

The saint of the day for May 18th is St. John I (470-526), pope and martyr.

By birth, Pope John was a Tuscan, the son of Constantius. He was an archdeacon for several years before being elected Pope on the death of Pope St. Hormisdas in 523. He was a friend and confidant of the philosopher Boethius.

In 525 Pope John was sent to Constantinople by King Theodoric of the Ostrogoths to reverse the edict of the Emperor Justin against the Arians two years earlier, which required Arians to give back churches which they had taken from orthodox Catholics. Throdoric was himself an Arian and a strong defender of Arianism (a heresy which arose in the 4th century and denied the divinity of Christ).

Even though Theodoric wanted a reversal of Justin’s policy, Pope John did not comply with his wishes, refusing to support heresy, and only counseled the Emperor Justin to be more gentle in his overzealous dealings with the Arians.

The success that Pope John achieved was contrary to the wishes of Theodoric; rather, he was received as the Successor of Peter and all the bishops of the East, with the exception of one, affirmed their communion with him and his precedence as Bishop of Rome, notable by the fact that it was he who presided over the Easter liturgy in Constantinople on April 19, 526. Even the Emperor Justin prostrated himself at the Pope’s feet.

However, on his return to Rome, Theodoric, who had just murdered John’s good friend Boethius, and was furious with the outcome of the mission, had the Pope imprisoned in Ravenna where he died of starvation and ill treatment. His body was taken to Rome where he now lies buried in the basilica of St. Peter.

Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci’s Sainthood Cause Moves to Vatican

Although it has taken more than 400 years, the sainthood cause of Jesuit Father Matteo Ricci, the 16th-century missionary to China, is back on track.

Bishop Claudio Giuliodori, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Macerata, Italy, where Fr. Ricci was born in 1552, formally closed the diocesan phase of the sainthood process May 10. The cause now moves to the Congregation for Saints’ Causes at the Vatican.

Bishop Giuliodori had met Pope Francis, a Jesuit, at the Vatican the first week of May. He wrote in the Macerata diocesan newspaper, “I never imagined I’d be able to speak about the cause of Fr. Matteo Ricci with a Jesuit pope. After the great attention given by Benedict XVI, who never missed an occasion to encourage us to promote the cause, we now have the joy of placing it into the hands of a Jesuit.”

The bishop said when he spoke to Pope Francis about the cause, the pope highlighted Fr. Ricci’s “innovative method of evangelization based on the inculturation of the faith” and the missionary’s courage and humility in learning from the Chinese.

Fr. Ricci died in Beijing May 11, 1610, and his death was followed by centuries of church debate over the extent to which a very limited number of Confucian practices — including veneration of ancestors — could be seen as a tolerable part of Chinese social and cultural tradition rather than as religious practices incompatible with Christianity.

Marking the 400th anniversary of Fr. Ricci’s death in 2010, retired Pope Benedict said Fr. Ricci’s life and mission represented a “fortunate synthesis of proclaiming the Gospel and of dialogue with the culture of the people who are receiving it, an example of balance between doctrinal clarity and prudent pastoral action.”

Fr. Ricci is also known for having brought European scientific instruments and knowledge to China, opening up a scientific exchange between the two continents, the now-retired pope had said. However, Fr. Ricci “didn’t go to China to bring science, but to bring the Gospel, to bring God,” the pope said.

The diocesan phase of Fr. Ricci’s sainthood cause opened in 1984, but was almost immediately closed when questions were raised about his commitment to pure Christianity. Opened again with Vatican approval in 2010, much of the work the past three years has involved an examination by historians and theologians of Fr. Ricci’s writings and of the writings of those who worked with him, according to the Macerata diocesan website. [Catholic News Service]

St. Paschal Baylon

The saint of the day for May 17th is St. Paschal Baylon.

Born in a small village in between Castille and Aragon in Spain, on Pentecost in 1540, he was christened Pascua (meaning "the pasch of the Holy Ghost") in honor of the feast. As a young man, until he was twenty-four years old, he worked as a shepherd for his poor, but pious family. During this time, he lived a life of penance and showed great devotion for the Holy Eucharist.

One day Paschal heard the bells of a convent announce the approaching consecration at Mass. Such an ardent longing for God overcame him that, prompted by yearning and love, he involuntarily cried out: "O God, most worthy of all adoration, please let me see You!" Hardly had he uttered the prayer when a glowing star appeared in the sky. As he watched, the heavens opened; the star disappeared and was replaced by a chalice with the Host, flanked by two adoring angels. Christian art has selected this vision to show his chief virtue -- love for the most holy Eucharist. (Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch)

 Receiving a vision which told him to enter a nearby Franciscan community, he became a Franciscan lay brother. He became part of the community of St. Peter of Alcantara, who was very instrumental in the life and spirituality of St. Teresa of Avila, who was living at that time. Paschal spent most of his life as a humble door keeper. His charity to the poor and afflicted, his unfailing courtesy and humility were remarkable even by Franciscan standards. While on a mission to France, he defended the Real Presence against the blasphemies of a Calvinist preacher, and narrowly escaped death at the hands of a Huguenot mob. Poorly educated, he served as a counselor sought out by rich and poor alike.

Paschal spent many hours before the Holy Eucharist. During his lifetime he was known by all as "the Saint of the Holy Eucharist". He spent most of the night at the foot of the altar on his knees, or prostrate on the ground. In prayer, he was often favored with ecstasies and raptures. He died at Villa Reale, near Valentia, on May 17, 1592, at the age of fifty-two. As he lay dead in his casket, he opened and closed his eyes twice when the sacred species were elevated at the consecration. His body was exposed three days, during which time a vast number of people visited the church, witnessing to his many miracles.

St. Paschal was beatified by Pope Paul V in 1618, and canonized by Alexander VIII. in 1690.

Patron: Cooks; Eucharistic congresses and organizations (proclaimed by Pope Leo XIII in 1897); Obado, Bulacan, Phillipines.

Quotes from St. Paschal Baylon

"Meditate well on this: Seek God above all things. It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else, because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for. This will also make you more ready to serve God and will enable you to love him more perfectly."

"God is as really present in the consecrated Host as He is in the glory of Heaven."

Why become a priest?

Second Video: Via Marcel at Aggie Catholics

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Why not women priests?

Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych, theologian of the papal household, weighs in on the debate over women's ordination to the priesthood.

US Assisted suicide corrupts medicine, Vermont diocese warns

Burlington, Vt., May 16, 2013 / 12:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Vermont legislature passed a bill allowing physicians to approve lethal drugs for terminally ill patients to kill themselves, a move the local Catholic diocese said will have major consequences.

“Physician-assisted suicide will forever transform the role of physician from one who preserves life to one who takes life,” the Catholic Diocese of Burlington said ahead of the vote on its website.

“Catholics must raise their voices against such an affront to human life,” the diocese added. “True compassion calls us to embrace those who are dying, not provide them with the means to end their lives.”

Read the entire story.

Pope Francis: Don't be Backseat Christians

May 16, 2013. ( During Thursday's morning Mass, Pope Francis
reflected on the apostolic zeal of St. Paul. The Pope invited Christians to follow the apostle's example by living out the faith publicly and with courage. He also called on faithful to not be so called 'backseat Christians.'

“There are backseat Christians, right? Those who are well mannered and do everything well, but they don't know how to bring others to the Church through proclamation and Apostolic zeal. Today we can ask the Holy Spirit to give us all this Apostolic fervor and to give us the grace to be annoying when things are too calm in the Church. The grace to go out to the outskirts of life. The Church needs this! Not only in distant lands, young parishes or among people who do not know Jesus, but here in the cities. Our cities need this proclamation of Jesus Christ. So let us ask the Holy Spirit for the grace of Apostolic zeal. Let’s be Christians with Apostolic zeal. And if we annoy people, Blessed be the Lord! Onwards, as the Lord says to St. Paul: show courage!"

Among those attending the Mass was Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Vatican Radio employees.

Fr. Barron: Modernity and Morality

Pope Francis to “Unlock” Pontifical Mission Societies’ “Missio” App

Here is a fascinating development in the New Evangelization:

From the Catholic geek files news desk comes the exciting update that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, will engage in a historic moment on Friday when he activates a brand new smartphone app called “Missio.” Lisa Hendey posts the story at Patheos and Catholic Mom.

Pope to meet with Catholic Lay Movements. More than 120,000 expected

May 16, 2013. ( On Saturday May18th and Sunday 19th, Pope Francis will meet with leaders and members of different lay movements. The meeting is a way to recognize their contributions to the Church and to mark the Year of Faith. Those two days will be quite busy. Roughly 120,000 tickets have already been given out for the Pope's Pentecost Sunday Mass.

President, Pontifical Council for New Evangelization
“We chose this weekend when we celebrate Pentecost to highlight the presence of all these movements, new communities, lay associations and all the different ecclesial roles that are present within the Church. They are signs that reflect the presence of the Risen Spirit of Christ, that guides the Church in Her work of evangelizing.”

Over 150 different movements from all over the world will gather in Rome over the weekend.
Among them will be Catholic Action, Communion and Liberation, the Focolare Movement, the Community of St. Egidio and the Neocatechumenal Way. Other more recent movements that were born in the U.S, Argentina, Brazil, Congo, India and Trinidad will also be present.

The meeting will start of on Saturday afternoon in St. Peter's Square, where all the movements are invited. Musical group Gen Verde will be playing during the massive gathering.

President, Pontifical Council for New Evangelization
“Once Pope Francis arrives, we will mark the beginning of the gathering with a prayer. We will then pay homage to Our Lady Salus Populi Romani followed by a Gospel reading.”

Then on Sunday, again thousands are expected in St. Peter's Square. There will be a special seating section for the sick. There will also be a sign language interpreter for the deaf so that everyone can join in the celebration.

Vatican to Host Global Pro-Life Conference and Papal Mass

By Austin Ruse

ROME, May 16 (C-FAM) Pro-lifers held their breath the day the world received a new Pope. They did not question his pro-life credentials but wondered if he would speak forcefully.

An old quote soon surfaced and concerns faded. “Defend the unborn against abortion even if they persecute you, calumniate you, set traps for you, take you to court or kill you. No child should be deprived of the right to be born, the right to be fed, the right to go to school.”

This June the Pope also will play a central role in the Vatican’s annual celebration of the Gospel of Life, the papal teaching published by Pope John Paul II in 1995. His successor, Benedict XVI, started the annual celebration a few years ago that features a papal mass for pro-life leaders. The new Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization, established by Benedict to encourage a reawakening of the faith in traditionally Christian countries, leads an expanded celebration this year.

This year’s three-day celebration begins with a conference funded by C-FAM and led by its chairman, Douglas A. Sylva. Cardinal Raymond Burke will deliver the keynote address on the Gospel of Life and the New Evangelization. Dr. Robert Royal of the Faith and Reason Institute and Dr. Francis Beckwith of Baylor University will answer Burke’s keynote address.

Unlike Protestant and even Evangelical denominations, the Catholic Church has not wavered on the question of abortion or other life issues. The Church sees an inextricable link between its central evangelical mission and the life.

On Saturday morning pro-life pilgrims will gather around Rome and proceed to the tomb of St. Peter. Churches near the Vatican will host an afternoon of Eucharistic adoration followed by a prayer vigil and candlelight procession led by American Archbishop Augustine DeNoia, head of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship. The procession ends near the Vatican where some think Pope Francis will greet the crowd. Surprising many, Francis visited the Roman March for Life.

On Sunday, June 16, Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass for Life in St. Peter’s Square.

A number of Americans have helped plan this event including representatives from Priests for Life, the Pro-Life Secretariat of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Alliance Defending Freedom, Susan B. Anthony List, Students for Life of America, LiveAction, and Americans United for Life.

Besides the conference for English speakers, there will be events in other languages with many attendees expected from Europe.

The Pope’s commitment to life issues cannot be underestimated. He sets the tone of the church and while many bishops and priests shy from the life issues, they find that more difficult if the Pope assertively leads the way.

Pope Francis continues to express strong pro-life views. Besides appearing unexpectedly at the Rome March for Life, he tweeted this week: ”It is God who gives life. Let us respect and love human life, especially vulnerable life in a mother’s womb."

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

St. Simon Stock

The saint of the day for May 14th, St. Simon Stock, was born in Aylesford in County Kent, England in 1165. Although we know little about Simon Stock's early life, legend has it that the name Stock, meaning "tree trunk," is based on the fact that, beginning at age twelve, he lived as a hermit in a hollow tree trunk of an oak tree. He drank only water and ate herbs, roots, and wild apples. In 1212, he joined the Carmelites soon after they arrived in England. He finished his studies at Oxford and in 1215, he was appointed Vicar General.

 Simon Stock helped the Order spread throughout Europe; he founded many Carmelite Communities, especially in university towns such as Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna. He revised the Rule of the Order to make them mendicant friars instead of hermits. He was elected as the sixth superior general of the Carmelites in 1247 around age 82. Simon governed the order with great sanctity and prudence for twenty years. He had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and was known for his gifts of miracles and prophecy. He wrote several hymns and decrees for his order. Simon Stock died on May 16, 1265, at the age one hundred and was buried in the cathedral of Bordeaux. He is the patron of Bordeaux, France.

 Simon Stock's is best known for an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251, during a time of oppression of the Order. In it the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him holding the brown scapular in one hand. Her words were: "Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of your Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for you and for your children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection.

 Father, You called St Simon Stock to serve You in the brotherhood of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Through his prayers help us like him to live in your presence and to work for the salvation of the human family.

Video Humor: The Mom Song

Abby Johnson: I Am No Better Than Kermit Gosnell, Pray for Him

I am vehemently against the death penalty. Now stay with me…this is not a post about my opinion regarding that. You can disagree or agree with me on that some other time. I did want to share a little bit about why I take the words of prolifers so seriously. I have heard so much vitriol spewed from the mouths of “Christian prolifers” since the Gosnell trial has concluded. I feel like I must address it.

When I was confirmed as a Catholic, I chose Mary Magdalene as my confirmation saint. I felt an immediate connection to her. She had sinned so much…and was forgiven in even greater amounts. She knew she didn’t deserve forgiveness…but she received it anyway. And because of this, she clung to Christ. She knew she was nothing without Him.

I have also done my fair share of sinning. And I have also been forgiven much more than I deserve. I abused and betrayed women in the worst possible way. I convinced them to kill their children. Did I slit the necks of children after they were born? No. But, I was an accomplice to murder. Thousands of times…women I knew, women I didn’t, my friends, even my family. I lied to people. I lied to women when they came to me for accurate information. I was among the worst sinners…those that help to take and destroy life. I am no better than Kermit Gosnell.

I took my own children’s lives…twice. Not because I was coerced. Not because I didn’t know better. But because I thought children would be an inconvenience to my lifestyle. I am responsible for their deaths…no one else.

So when someone talks about Gosnell and says things like, “murderers and people like him don’t deserve to breathe the same air as I do,” or “I hope he burns in hell,” it hurts a little. Because that was me. But I am still here…breathing that same air…and trying to spend my life righting my wrongs. And it’s not just me. I know they hurt others like me, as well. People who have left the abortion industry and will work every day to recover from their sins. People who are still in the industry and think they will be shunned by the pro-life movement…maybe they would reach out to us if they knew we would accept them. I am always terrified that clinic workers will see some of the words from prolifers. I have been told by several former workers that they will NEVER come forward with their stories because they are so scared of how they will be treated by us…by US…the supposed “Christian” movement. Their fears are real AND legitimate.

I know some will say, “but you repented, that is the difference.” But what if I hadn’t…not yet. What if I was still inside the abortion industry? What if I was still an accomplice to murder? What if it took me longer to realize the truth? Do I deserve to die? Are we saying repentance is about our timing? Certainly, it is not about us. It about God and His perfect timing. Read the entire story.

Pope: Pray for priests and bishops, so we can be good shepherds and not wolves

The Pope usually asks people to pray for him. During Wednesday's Mass, he asked others to pray for bishops and priests, so that they can be good shepherds. The Pope also warned them about the harm that comes when one gets attached to riches or fame.

O'Reilly Features Live Action Footage in Carhart Segment

This was aired on O'Reilly yesterday -- May 14th. It looks like we have another Gosnell out there.

Abortionist Gosnell Sentenced to Life in Prison

Following his conviction for the murder of three babies born alive, abortionist Kermit Gosnell was sentenced Tuesday to two life sentences without parole for two of those murder charges.

By agreeing not to appeal his conviction, Gosnell was able to avoid the death penalty for three convictions of first-degree murder.

Read the full story.

Papal Quote of the Day: Pope Francis on Prayer to the Holy Spirit

“This is a prayer that we need to say every day: 'Holy Spirit, make my heart open to God's Word so that my heart might be open to good, so that my heart might be open to God's beauty every day.' Let me ask you: how many of you pray to the Holy Spirit every day? It will be few of you, but we must satisfy this desire for Jesus and pray every day to the Holy Spirit that He might open our hearts to Jesus.”

~ Pope Francis in his General Audience on May 15, 2013

Pro-life Quote of the Day: Cardinal Sean O'Malley

“The news that researchers have developed a technique for human cloning is deeply troubling on many levels.  Creating new human lives in the laboratory solely to destroy them is an abuse denounced even by many who do not share the Catholic Church's convictions on human life.”

~ Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley via CNA.

Book Review -- On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century

Written by: Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Abraham Skorka

On Heaven and Earth Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century is a fascinating book, in which the man who would become Pope Francis -- Jorge Mario Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, warmly and casually converses with Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka on a diverse range of topics.  Some of these topics include: religion, prayer, euthanasia, women, homosexuality, abortion, divorce, money, poverty, politics, and power.  Originally published in 2010, this book documents a series of conversations between Bergoglio and Skorka as they seek to promote inter-religious dialogue and build bridges between Catholicism and Judaism.

Written in a clear, comprehensible style, On Heaven and Earth is presented in a conversational format.  It is as if you are present as a spectator, listening to the conversation between the two men, which has the advantage of making you feel as if you are a first-hand observer. There can be no skimming through this material, however, not if you want to grasp the interchange of ideas and the camaraderie between the two men. As a Catholic, I was obviously more interested in what Pope Francis had to say about each topic and had considered just reading the Holy Father’s portions of the conversation and skipping over the rabbi’s words. However, I am glad I did not do this, as I would have missed some profound insights and some new discoveries about the Jewish faith.

Much of what the Holy Father has to say about each topic is not surprising, but the way he expresses himself, the way in which he interacts with the rabbi, and the way in which he explains Catholicism is what made this book special for me.  Pope Francis does not mince words, yet his responses reflect his deep humility, his congeniality, his wit, and his wisdom.  As I read, I highlighted and underlined many of his brilliantly succinct and beautiful responses on these important issues.

Despite the fact that I enjoyed this book, I was disappointed with it in two ways.  First, I was expecting the issues to be covered in a more in-depth manner.  Instead, the issues are discussed briefly, for the most part, and the tone is informal, presented in the style of a casual conversation between two friends.  The pope’s general audience would probably provide more in-depth information than is presented in this book on a specific topic. Second, there are many specific references in the book to Argentinian politics and culture, which may seem a little alien to those who are not South American historians. Although I am somewhat familiar with the political history of Argentina, it was occasionally difficult to follow the conversation when the names of specific leaders and detailed events of a certain era were discussed.

Overall, I enjoyed On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the Twenty-First Century.  It was an interesting look at how the Holy Father interacts with a religious leader of another faith and it also provided some insight as to what he believes on a variety of topics. Most of all, it reveals his personality and character.  It is a good introductory book on Pope Francis and I recommend it as such.

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review.

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