Showing posts from November, 2011

Pope calls for the elimination of the death penalty

November 30, 2011. ( Benedict XVI greeted a delegation gathered in Rome that is working to abolish the death penalty. The group included members from Illinois where the death penalty was recently outlawed.


I greet the distinguished delegations from various countries taking part in the meeting promoted by the Community of Sant’Egidio on the theme: No Justice without Life.

I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order.

Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present, including those from the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Who Saint Andrew was, according to Benedict XVI

In his catechesis on June 14, 2006, Benedict XVI reflected on the Apostle Andrew. He explained the meaning of his name, his role among the apostles and the story of his martyrdom.


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

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

St. Andrew the Apostle

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

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

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

St. Andrew's relics were transferred from Patras to Constantinople, and deposited in the church of the Apostles the…

Blessed Virgin Mary Quote for Advent

“In vigilance, she received the announcement that changed the history of humanity. In vigilance, she kept and contemplated, more than any other, the Almighty, who became her Son...In the vigilance of her maternal heart, Mary followed Christ right up to the foot of the cross where, in the immense sorrow of a pierced heart, she accepted us as her new sons. In vigilance, she waited with certainty for the Resurrection and was assumed into Heaven.”

~ Cardinal Piacenza in his Advent message to priests

Our Lady of Beauraing

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

Description of the Virgin

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


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

Congratulations, Cardinal Burke!

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, one of the Catholic Church's top U.S.-born clerics, is marking the first anniversary of his November 2010 elevation to the Sacred College of Cardinals.

"Well, it’s been a very fast-moving year," Cardinal Burke told CNA in his Roman apartment just yards from the Vatican, where he serves as head of the Church's highest court.

Read the full story.

St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal

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

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

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

On November 27, the lady showed St. Catherine the medal of the Immaculat…

12 Tips for a Holier Advent Season

The liturgical season of Advent begins on the first Sunday in Advent, opening a new year in our Church's Calendar. The word Advent is from the Latin "adventus", which means "coming" and is used to describe the four weeks of preparation for Christmas.

During Advent, we are called upon to:

1) prepare ourselves to worthily to celebrate the anniversary of the Lord's coming into the world as the incarnate God of love,

2) transform our souls into holy tabernacles for the Redeemer coming in Holy Communion, and

3) make ourselves ready for His final coming as judge, at death and at the end of the world.

Advent is a season of preparation and waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are twelve tips that will help you and your family keep this season holy:

1. Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Pray Advent prayers with the family and the rosary when you light up the candle on the wreath. Sing 'O Come, O Come, Emmanuel' th…

Advent: A Catholic Resource Guide

The Internet is loaded with Advent activities, prayers, and traditions. Here are some which will help make this season a holier one for you and your family:

Activities for Advent  (Domestic-Church.Com)

Advent Activities  (The Religion Teacher)

Advent and Christmas Season (Catholic Online)

Advent Guide (Catholic Culture)

Advent Links for Children (This That and The Other Thing)

Advent Prayers

Advent Prayers, Devotions, Books, Crafts   (Catholic Mom)

Advent Wreath Prayers

Catholic Traditions for Advent and Christmas (Catholic Education Resource Center)

Five Great Ideas for Advent

Season of Advent (Catholic TV)

The Definitive Guide to Advent and Christmas (Our Sunday Visitor)

The Holy Season of Advent   (EWTN)

The Season of Advent -Advent History, Information, Prayers, Resources, Traditions, and More

The Posada - An Advent and Christmas Celebration

St. Catherine of Alexandria, Virgin and Martyr

Today we celebrate the memorial of St. Catherine of Alexandria (292 - 310), virgin and martyr.

Catherine was beautiful, brilliant, and extremely wealthy at the age of eighteen when she debated the Emperor Maximin (311-313) and harshly criticized him for his persecution of Christians who refused to worship pagan gods. Astounded by her wisdom, Maximin ordered her to be kept confined, and summoned fifty of his most learned philosophers, promising them great rewards if they could get Catherine to abandon her Christian faith. However, her arguments were so convincing that all fifty of the philosophers were converted to Christianity. Outraged by this, Maximin ordered all of them to be burned alive.

Then the Emperor attempted to win Catherine by flattery and by promises, but his efforts proved equally fruitless. Next, he had her thrown into a dungeon, without food and water. He ordered her whipped with rods, scourged with leaden nodules, and then left to languish eleven days without food in…

Happy Thanksgiving: Seven Reasons Why I am Thankful this Year

Today I am thanking God for my many blessings:

1. My Catholic Faith - especially for the gift of the Holy Eucharist (which means Thanksgiving). True thanksgiving is self-giving and this is indeed the meaning of the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist -- in which Jesus gives us His entire self - His body, blood, soul and divinity. I am so thankful for those priests who serve the Lord and minister to us through the sacraments and for those dedicated religious who have consecrated their lives to Him and make His love known to us in both overt and hidden ways.

2. My wonderful, loving husband who shares my deep love for the faith.

3. My family - Although the miles separate us, you're always in my daily prayers and in my heart.

4. My friends - those of you near and far -- those I see and touch and pray with and also those whom I chat with online - you're all precious to me.

5. My parish family - those I see and pray with at daily Mass and those I see only on Sundays.

6. My readers - Yo…

Spiritual Writer comments on St. Therese of Lisieux

Heather King comments on St. Therese of Lisieux:

Blessed Miguel Pro

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

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

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

At this time, the revolutionary government in Mexico had banned all religious practice. The churches were closed and priests were in hiding. The government was particularly focused on finding and persecuting priests. Father Pro became a great master of disguise and spent the …

Amazing Video: Conception to birth -- visualized

Not recommended for children -- Adults Only:

Human Life and Dignity Must Always Be Defended

VATICAN CITY, 22 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office the presentation took place of the twenty-sixth international conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. The conference will have as its theme: "Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II", and is due to be held in the Vatican from 24 to 26 November.

During this morning's presentation, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, president of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, noted that the conference aims to ensure that "Blessed John Paul II's teaching on the Gospel of Life, and the translation of that teaching into pastoral activity by the Church, call pastoral care operatives, healthcare workers and all men and women of good will to love and serve life, especially when it is weak and suffering". He also expressed the hope that the conference would "celebrate the sacredness of life and the dignity o…

St. Thérèse of Lisieux speaks of St. Cecilia

" What a model!  In the midst of the world, with every sort of danger ringing her round on the point of being married to a young pagan who dreamed only of earthly love, Cecilia might well have trembled and wept..., but no, 'Leaving the instruments sounding for her wedding, Cecilia was singing in her heart'...What total trust!...She was not afraid...she knew that Jesus was under obligation to guard and protect her virginity, and she knew the reward."

"St. Cecilia is like the Bride in the canticles; I see her as a choir in an armed camp.  Her life was one melodious song in the midst of terrible trials; which does not amaze me, because the holy gospel rested upon her heart and in her heart the Spouse of Virgins."

~ St. Thérèse of Lisieux

Related Post:

St. Cecilia of Rome, Virgin and Martyr

Advent in Two Minutes


St. Cecilia of Rome, Virgin and Martyr

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Cecilia, virgin and martyr. St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians, is one of the most famous and most venerated of Roman martyrs.

It is believed that St. Cecilia was born in the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., although the dates of her birth and martyrdom are unknown.

Tradition tells us that Cecilia was a Roman girl of a patrician family who had been brought up as a Christian. She fasted often and wore a coarse garment beneath her rich clothing. Although she had consecrated her virginity to God, her father betrothed her to a young pagan named Valerian.

When the wedding day arrived, Cecilia sat apart from her guests, repeating psalms and praying. After the ceremony, when the guests had departed and she was alone with her husband, Cecilia made known her great desire to remain a virgin, saying that she already had a lover, an angel of God who was very jealous. Valerian, shaken by fear, anger, and suspicion, said to her: “Show me this angel. If he …

Feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On this feast day, we celebrate the parents of Our Lady bringing her to the Temple at the age of three and handing her over to live there for a long period as a virgin consecrated to the Temple, contemplating God exclusively.

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

St. Rose Philippine Duchesne: The "Woman-Who-Prays-Always"

Today is the optional memorial of St. Rose Philippine Duchesne.

Saint Rose was born on August 29, 1769 at Grenoble, France to a family of wealth and political connections. When she was eight years old, she heard a Jesuit missionary speak of his missionary work in America, which sparked a strong desire within her to evangelize. She was educated at home until she was 12 years old, when she was sent to the convent of the Visitation nuns in Grenoble to continue her studies. She joined them when she was 19 without the permission or knowledge of her family.

Her convent closed quite abruptly during the Reign of Terror of the French Revolution. She spent the next ten years living as a laywoman, but continued to live as if she were still with her Order. She established a school for poor children, cared for the sick and hid priests from the Revolutionaries. When the Reign of Terror ended, she reclaimed her convent and attempted to reestablish it with a small group of sisters. However, most wer…

Dedication of the Churches of St. Peter and St. Paul, apostles

Basilica of St. Paul

Interior of St. Peter's Basilica


Today's feast is a spiritual journey to two holy tombs, that of St. Peter and that of St. Paul in Rome. These two basilicas, marking the place of each apostle's martyrdom, are the common heritage and glory of Christendom; it is, therefore, easily seen why we observe their dedication.

Abbot Herwegen makes the following observations on St. Peter's in Rome. The Eternal City has two principal churches, St. John Lateran and St. Peter's. Since ancient times the Lateran basilica, the mother of all churches on earth, has been the church proper to the bishop of Rome in his position as head of the local community. Here the Lenten season was opened and the Easter liturgy solemnized. The basilica of St. Peter, on the other hand, was the church of non-Romans, of pilgrims who journeyed to the city where the two great apostles were martyred. Here those celebrations were held which expressed the universal character of the R…

EWTN to broadcast unaired episodes of ‘Catholicism’ series

Six unaired episodes of Father Robert Barron’s television series “Catholicism” will air on the EWTN Global Catholic Network during the months of November and December.

Episode six, “The Fire of His Love -- Prayer and the Life of the Spirit” was broadcast at 9 p.m. Eastern Time Nov. 16 and will air again at 4 p.m. Dec. 3.

Episode seven, “Happy are We – The Teachings of Jesus” aired at 10 p.m. Nov. 16 and will run again at 1 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Nov. 19.

Episode eight, “Word Made Flesh, True Bread of Heaven – The Mystery of the Liturgy and the Eucharist,” airs at 11 p.m. Nov. 17, 4 p.m. Nov. 19 and 6 p.m. Dec. 10.

Episode nine, “A Vast Company of Witnesses – The Communion of the Saints” airs at 10 p.m. Nov. 18, 5 p.m. Nov. 19 and 11 p.m. Dec. 11.

The final episode, “World Without End – The Last Things” airs at 11 p.m. Nov. 18, 6 p.m. Nov. 19 and 10 p.m. Dec. 17.

Other episodes aired in over 80 public television markets across the U.S. in Fall 2011.

Fr. Barron: What you believe makes a difference


St. Elizabeth of Hungary: The princess who embraced poverty

In her short life, Princess Elizabeth showed such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order.

Born in Bratislava in 1207, Princess Elizabeth, the daughter of King Andrew of Hungary was betrothed at the age of four to Prince Ludwig of Thuringia (in central Germany) and sent to live at his father's court. They were married when she was fourteen and he was twenty - one. She loved him deeply and bore him three children.

In addition to caring for her children, Elizabeth was devoted to the poor, the sick, and the aged. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land, who came to her gate. She grew in piety under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan Friar.

Once when she was taking food to the poor and sick, Prince Ludwig stopped her and looked under her mantle to see what she was carrying; the food had been miraculousl…

Tour the Tomb of St. Peter...

and the excavations underneath St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Take the virtual tour. This is both informative and moving. In 2006, I had the pleasure of taking the live tour and loved it. What a beautiful history our Church has!

What is the Role of a Lay Person?

There are roughly 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. Most of them are laypeople, meaning members of the Church, who are not ordained or part of a religious order. But what exactly is the role of a lay person when it comes to every day life?

Today's Saints: St. Gertrude the Great; St. Margaret of Scotland

St. Gertrude the Great, Virgin

St. Gertrude was born in Eisleben, Germany in 1256. As a five year old, she was received into the monastery of the Cistercian nuns in Helfta. She was an intellectually gifted student with a gentle disposition who applied herself to her studies, concentrating on literature and philosophy.

At the age of 26, Gertrude had the first of many visions of Jesus which brought about a deep interior conversion, drawing her into the innermost recesses of His Sacred Heart. Her heart symbolically united in a vision to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, she was a precursor of the later devotion to the Sacred Heart. She also advocated frequent reception of the Eucharist and devotion to St Joseph.

Similar to other mystics, such as St. Teresa of Avila, the Passion of Christ was her favorite devotion and when she meditated on it, or on the blessed Eucharist, she was often unable to control the torrents of tears which flowed from her eyes. She frequently went into ecstasy when she …

St. Albert the Great

Today the Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. Albert the Great, "the light of Germany", named "Doctor Universalis" because of his vast knowledge and writings.

Albert was born in Lauingen on the Danube, near Ulm, Germany in 1206. As a young man, he studied at the University of Padua and there he met Blessed Jordan of Saxony, the Dominican who made the rounds of the universities of Europe, drawing the best young men of the universities into the Dominicans.

At age 16, Albert entered the Dominican Order. After several teaching assignments in his order, he came in 1241 to the University of Paris, where he lectured in theology. While teaching in Paris, he was assigned by his order in 1248 to set up a house of studies for the order in Cologne.

In Paris, he had gathered around him a small band of budding theologians, the chief of whom was Thomas Aquinas, who accompanied him to Cologne and became his greatest pupil. This young religious, already well - trained in…

Papal Quote of the Day: Embryonic Stem Cell Research

"Those who advocate research on embryonic stem cells in the hope of achieving such a result make the grave mistake of denying the inalienable right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death. The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another."

~ Pope Benedict XVI, speaking on embryonic stem cell research at the bioethics conference in Rome on November 12, 2011 .

30 Second Review: Catholicism

Join David DiCerto as he gives a 30 second review of Catholicism.

Looking for a Good Spiritual Director?

Fr. Powell, O.P. offers this advice:

When looking for a good spiritual director, it is standard practice to interview the potential S.D. first. The idea is not to weed out those who are going to challenge you or disagree with you. The idea is find one who holds and practice the Catholic faith as taught by the Church and is able to actually help you grow in holiness.

Ask the following questions politely. There is no need to be offensive or defensive. You are not an Inquisitor. You are not hunting heresy. If it turns out that the potential S.D. is some kind of New Age kook, you are obligated to keep that assessment to yourself. The obligation to confidentiality binds both the director and the directee.

A few cautions up front:

1). Do not be impressed with S.D.'s who have credentials in spiritual direction. Most spiritual direction programs in the U.S. teach their students amateur forms of guru-ism and occult gibberish.

2). Do not be impressed by titles like "Father," "…

Catholic college sues HHS over contraception mandate

I am so very happy to hear that Belmont is taking a strong Catholic pro-life stand on this. Go, Crusaders!

Via Catholic World News:

Belmont Abbey College, a Benedictine college in western North Carolina, has sued the federal government in an effort to prevent the implementation of a mandate requiring private health insurance plans to cover contraception and sterilization.

“A monk at Belmont Abbey may preach on Sunday that pre-marital sex, contraception, and abortions are immoral, but on Monday, the government would force the same monk to pay for students to receive the very drugs and procedures he denounces,” said Hannah Smith, senior legal counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty. “This is much worse than an unfunded mandate; it is a monk-funded mandate.”

According to the Becket Fund, Belmont Abbey College will face a $140,000 fine if it chooses to drop health insurance coverage for its employees.

Pope to use Ipad to light up tallest Christmas Tree

On December 7th the pope will turn on the lights of this year's largest Christmas tree with the touch of an Ipad. The tree is made up of a collection of lights placed on a hill overlooking the Italian town of Gubbio. The tree of lights measures 2,132 feet high, making it the tallest in the world.

What We Really Want


Blessed John Liccio

The saint of the day for November 14 is Blessed John Liccio,  a priest who holds the all-time record for wearing the Dominican habit--96 years.

John was born to a poor family in Sicily. His mother died in childbirth. His life from then on, all 111 years, was a tale of miracles.

His father, who fed the baby on crushed pomengranates, had to work the fields, and was forced to leave the infant alone. The baby began crying, and a neighbor woman took him to her home to feed him. She laid the infant on the bed next to her paralyzed husband – and the man was instantly cured. The woman told John’s father of the miracle, but he was more concerned that she was meddling, and had taken his son without his permission. He took the child home to feed him more pomegranate pulp. As soon as the child was removed from the house, the neighbor’s paralysis returned; when John was brought back in, the man was healed. Even John’s father took this as a sign, and allowed the neighbors to care for John.

A preco…

On Veteran's Day: A Tribute to our Veterans


St. Martin of Tours and Veteran's Day

Not only is it Veteran's day today, but it is the memorial of St. Martin of Tours, a soldier in the "Army of God" who is the patron saint of soldiers.

Saint Martin was born to pagan parents in Hungary. When he was fifteen years old, he was enrolled in the Roman armies and went to serve in Gaul, the land he was predestined to evangelize one day.

The most famous episode of this period in his life is his meeting with a poor man almost naked in the dead of winter, and trembling with cold. Martin did not have a penny to give him, but he remembered the text of the Gospel: “I was naked, and you clothed Me.”

“My friend,” he said, “I have nothing but my weapons and my garments.”

And taking up his sword, he divided his cloak into two parts and gave one to the beggar.

The following night he saw Jesus Christ in a dream, clothed with this half-cloak and saying to His Angels: “It is Martin, still a catechumen, who covered Me.”

Soon afterwards he was baptized.

Charity, purity, and brav…

St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor

Today the Church celebrates the memorial of St. Leo the Great, Pope and Doctor.

St. Leo the Great was born in Rome of Italian nobility. As a deacon of the Church, he opposed the heresy of Pelagianism, which taught that grace was not necessary for salvation, but was rather a bonus that God granted to those who earned it by their good works. He was elevated to the office of Pope in 440 and reigned as pope for twenty-one years. As pope, St. Leo labored strenuously to safeguard the integrity of the faith and vigorously defended the unity of the Church. He affirmed the full divinity and humanity of Christ. His most famous writing, commonly known as the Tome of St. Leo (449), was the basis of the Council of Chalcedon's (451) dogmatic definition of Christ as one Divine Person possessing two complete natures, human and divine.

When Attilla the Hun marched on Rome, Leo went out to meet him and pleaded for leave. As Leo spoke, Attila saw the vision of a man in Priestly robes, carrying a ba…

Feast of the Dedication of St. John Lateran

When I made a pilgrimage to Rome almost six years ago, I had the wonderful opportunity of attending Mass at this beautiful basilica and also in renewing my Baptismal vows here. 

Today the Church celebrates the feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica in Rome. The Basilica of St. John Lateran is the cathedral of Rome. This is not St. Peter's, but it is the Pope's cathedral. Also called the Church of Holy Savior or the Church of St. John Baptist, it was the baptism church of ancient Rome. It was built in the time of Constantine and was consecrated by Pope Sylvester in 324. This feast was first observed in Rome, but later in honor of the basilica, which is known as "the mother and mistress of all churches of Rome and the world" (omnium urbis et orbis ecclesiarum mater et caput), the celebration was extended to the universal Latin Church. This action was taken as a sign of love for and union with the Chair of Peter.

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New Miss World once studied to be a nun

A WOMAN who spent five years training to be a nun has been crowned the winner of Miss World 2011.

Miss Venezuela, Ivian Lunasol Sarcos Colmenares, beat contestants from 122 countries to the coveted title after impressing the judges in the categories of beach beauty, top model, talent, sports, and beauty with a purpose - where the contestants must demonstrate involvement in a charity project.

Ms Sarcos Colmenares, 21, who has a degree in human resources and currently works for a broadcasting company, was the favourite going into the final which was held at London's Earls Court this evening.

She was orphaned at a young age and once dreamt of becoming a nun. Now she said she wants to use her title to help other people.

Read the entire story.

H/T: Deacon Greg Kandra

Abp. Charles J. Chaput: "Four Points in Defense of Human Dignity"

From the essay, "Being Human in an Age of Unbelief", adapted from a talk given yesterday by Abp. Chaput at the University of Pennsylvania:

Here’s my first point. We remember Bonhoeffer, Solzhenitsyn, and other men and women like them because of their moral witness. But the whole idea of “moral witness” comes from the assumption that good and evil are real, and that certain basic truths about humanity don’t change. These truths are knowable and worth defending. One of these truths is the notion of man’s special dignity as a creature of reason and will. Man is part of nature, but also distinct from it.

The philosopher Hans Jonas said that three things have distinguished human life from other animal experience since early prehistory: the tool, the image, and the grave. The tool imposes man’s knowledge and will onto nature. The image—man’s paintings and other art—projects his imagination. It implies a sense of beauty and memory, and a desire to express them. But the greatest di…

Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity

Elizabeth was born on July 18, 1880 in a military camp in the diocese of Bourges, France to Captain Joseph Catez and Marie Catez. Her father died when she was seven, leaving her mother to raise Elizabeth and her sister.

Elizabeth was a strong-willed, exuberant, and popular young lady. She had a great reverence to God, and practiced a beautiful, but simple prayer life. She was a gifted pianist and had a talent for making friends, participating in a very active social life. At the same time, she never neglected those who were in most need of her gifts. She frequently visited the sick and taught catechism to children.

On August 2, 1901, she entered the Discalced Carmelite monastery in Dijon, France at the age of 21. She experienced great periods of spiritual growth, but also periods of darkness. She took her final vows two years later and became a spiritual director for many, leaving behind a legacy of letters and retreat guides.

She died on November 9, 1906, at the age of 26 from Addis…

Blessed John Duns Scotus

The saint of the day for November 8 is Blessed John Dunus Scotus, Franciscan priest and theologian of the thirteenth century.

The Birth and Childhood of Bl. John Duns Scotus

Bl. John Duns Scotus was born in Duns, Berwickshire, Scotland, around 1265. He was immediately baptized after birth and was named after St. John the Evangelist. He grew up a good boy, healthy and pure like a little angel. He received a solid Christian formation from home and from the parish priest. He frequented the Cistercian Abbey of Melrose for his catechism lessons. There, he absorbed the ardent love for the Mother of God which St. Bernard had left as a patrimony to the Cistercians.

As a little boy, Bl. John suffered very much from the obtuseness of his intellect. He wanted to read, to write and to study the profundity of the truths of the faith, but his mind just could not manage to learn or understand anything. By means of with prayers and sighs, he had recourse to Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, asking Her to heal…