Showing posts from November, 2013

Theological contributions of St. Josemaría Escrivá dicussed in Rome

November 30, 2013. ( To become a saint a person doesn't need to be a theologian, although saints are the ones that know God best. Expanding on this topic, the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross organized a gathering to look into how saints have influenced theology. Specifically, it addressed the contributions of St. Josemaría Escrivá into this field.   MSGR. FERNANDO OCÁRIZ Vicar General of Opus Dei “Joseph Ratzinger had said it, and he repeated it as Benedict XVI. Even John Paul II had talked about it: the witness of saints is necessary in theology, because the saints are the ones who have known God best. And they shed new, original light into the field of theology.” Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch recalled that for Joseph Ratzinger, saints were the most credible witnesses of the Christian faith, the authentic reformers of the Church, and the first interpreters of the Holy Scripture. But he added that all baptized people are called to holiness. CARD. KURT

St. Andrew the Apostle

Today is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle. St. Andrew, son of Jonah, was the brother of the Apostle Peter, and like his brother, was born at Bethsaida in Galilee. He was a disciple of John the Baptist and became the first to follow Jesus. A fisherman like St. Peter, Saint Andrew first introduced Saint Peter to Christ. Both occupied the same house at Capharnaum. At first the two brothers continued to carry on their fishing trade and family affairs, but later, the Lord called them to stay with Him all the time. He promised to make them fishers of men, and this time, they left their nets for good. 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. After Our Lord ascended into Heaven, St. Andrew went to Greece to preach the go

Pope Francis: The Christian conforms his way of thinking to God's

(Vatican Radio)The Christian conforms his way of thinking to God’s, and for this reason rejects ways of thinking that are weak and restricted. This was the central theme of Pope Francis’ homily during Mass on Friday morning in the Casa Sanctae Martha. The Lord taught his disciples to be attentive to the signs of the times, signs which the Pharisees failed to comprehend. The Pope said that, in order to understand the signs of the times, a Christian must think not only with his head, but also with his heart and spirit. Otherwise, he cannot understand the “way of God in history”:“In the Gospel, Jesus does become angry, but pretends to when the disciples do not understand him. At Emmaus he says: ‘How foolish and slow of heart’. ‘How foolish and slow of heart’… He who does not understand the things of God is such a person. The Lord wants us to understand what happens, what happens in my heart, what happens in my life, what happens in the world, in history… What is the meaning of wha

Ten Interesting Facts about Advent

1. The word Advent comes from the Latin word adventus, which means "coming" or "arrival." 2. The Advent Season always begins four Sundays before Christmas; so it is rarely four full weeks long, but only between three and four weeks, depending on what weekday Dec. 25 happens to be in a certain year. 3. The Third Sunday of Advent is traditionally called "Gaudete Sunday" (from Latin, meaning "Rejoice!), because the "Entrance Antiphon" of this Sunday's Mass is taken from Paul's letter to the Philippians: "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice! The Lord is near." (Phil 4:4+5b) 4. In the Roman Catholic Church, the official liturgical color for most of the Season of Advent is violet. Only on the Third Sunday of Advent is a rose (pink) colored candle lit, as a symbol of joy; the priest may also wear rose vestments on this Sunday. 5. Advent wreaths have their origins in the folk traditions of northern Europe,

Black Friday and the "Poison" of Consumerism

Fr. James Kubicki, S.J . has some very wise words for us today: 

St. Brendan of Birr, Abbot and "Prophet of Ireland"

St. Brendan of Birr, also known as "Brendan the Elder" was born around the year 500 in Ireland.  He founded the monastery at Birr in Offaly, central Ireland c.540, and served as its abbot. St. Brendan of Birr was a contemporary of the far more famous Saint Brendan the Navigator (d. 578). He was a member of The Twelve Apostles of Ireland -- Irish saints of the 6th century who studied under St Finian at the rigorous monastery of Clonard Abbey at Cluain-Eraird. He was also a friend and disciple of Saint Columba of Iona. History/Biography In early Christian Ireland the druid tradition collapsed with the spread of the new faith. Study of Latin learning and Christian theology in monasteries flourished. Brendan became a pupil at the monastic school at Clonard Abbey. During the sixth century, some of the most significant names in the history of Irish Christianity studied at the Clonard monastery. It is said that the average number of scholars under instruction at Clonard wa

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! You are in my prayers for a beautiful and blessed day.

12 Tips for Making Advent a More Spiritual 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 associated with the four weeks of preparation for Christmas. Advent blends together a penitential spirit, very similar to Lent, a liturgical theme of preparation for the Second and Final Coming of the Lord, called the Parousia, and a joyful theme of getting ready for the birth of Christ. Advent is a season of waiting, a season filled with hope. Here are ten tips for making this Advent Season a holier one for you and your family: 1. Take the entire family, as often as possible, to daily Mass, Eucharistic Adoration, and to the sacrament of Reconciliation. 2. On days when you are unable to attend Mass, read and reflect on the Scriptures for that day. 3. Use an Advent calendar and/or a wreath to mark this time of preparation. Pray Advent prayers with the family and the r

St. Catherine of Laboure

Today the Church honors St. Catherine of Laboure, the humble Daughter of Charity to whom Mary appeared, requesting that the Miraculous Medal be struck so that all who wear it would receive great graces. 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

French Jesuit priest to be canonized in December without second miracle

Pierre Faber, a “Reformed” Jesuit priest whom Francis sees as a model figure, is to be proclaimed as saint before Christmas, Stefania Falasca reports in an article for Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire. The process for his cause in the Congregation for the Causes of Saints is complete and now all that remains is for Francis to issue the Bull of Canonization that will proclaim the first companion of St. Ignatius a saint, extending the cult of the soon-to-be-saint to the Universal Church. Faber was born in the Upper Savoy region of France in 1506 and died in Rome in 1547 just a few weeks before he was due to attend the Council of Trent. He was beatified in September 1872 with a Papal Rescript issued by the Sacred Congregation of Rites and ratified by the Society of Jesus. Now Francis is extending the liturgical cult to the Universal Church. The process followed for Faber’s canonization is called “equivalent canonization”. This is when the Pope omits the judicial process and cere

Pope's General Audience: Death should not be feared. It opens the gates to Heaven

November 27, 2013. ( In his weekly general audience,  Pope Francis talked about the meaning of death. The Pope explained that even though death is often misunderstood, feared and denied, humans were designed to yearn for the infinite, found precisely in Eternal life.   The Pope then added that if one lives with God, abandoning life can be done 'serenely and confidently into His hands at the moment of our death.' SUMMARY OF POPE'S CATECHESIS Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on “the resurrection of the body”. Christian faith illumines the mystery of death and brings the hope of the resurrection.  Death challenges all of us: apart from belief in God and a vision of life as something greater than earthly existence, death appears as wholly tragic; we misunderstand it, fear and deny it. Yet human beings were made for something greater; we yearn for the infinite, the eternal. Christ’s Resurrection not only offer

Catholic Thanksgiving Day Prayers

PRAYER AT THANKSGIVING Lord, we thank you for the goodness of our people and for the spirit of justice that fills this nation. We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the land and the challenge of the cities. We thank you for our work and our rest, for one another, and for our homes. We thank you, Lord: accept our thanksgiving on this day. We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord. R: Amen. —from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers via USCCB. FOR APPRECIATION OF EACH OTHER We thank you, Father, for the gift of Jesus your Son who came to our earth and lived in a simple home. We have a greater appreciation of the value and dignity of the human family because he loved and was loved within its shelter. Bless us this day; may we grow in love for each other in our family and so give thanks to you who are the maker of all human families and our abiding peace.  From The Catholic Prayer Book, compiled by Msgr. Michael Buckley via American Catholic.o

St. Josémaria Escriva and the Miraculous Medal

1830. The political panorama in France, and above all people’s attitudes, had changed a lot since the French Revolution of 1789. Still the atmosphere in the country was more and more tense. Amidst all the upheavals, our Lady made her voice heard: “Come to the foot of this altar. Here graces will be poured out on everyone.” Our Lady appeared to Catherine Labouré on that far-off day of July 19, 1830: a young woman of 24 who had just begun her novitiate in the Daughters of Charity. Our Mother’s urgent invitation on her first appearance at the Rue du Bac has since been accepted by millions of people from all sorts of different cultures and backgrounds who have come to kneel at the feet of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal in a chapel in the heart of Paris, France. So who was the person our Lady appeared to, and why, on that far-off day of July 19, 1830? St Catherine Labouré was then a young woman of 24 who had just begun her novitiate in the Daughters of Charity, a religious order

Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal

Today, November 27, is the Feast of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Devotion to and wearing of the Miraculous Medal is second to the Rosary in popularity among traditional Catholic devotions. History In 1830, the Blessed Virgin Mary revealed the design of the Miraculous Medal to St. Catherine Laboure in an apparition. In Paris, on June 6, 1830, the Lord appeared to the young (age 24) Daughter of Charity novice Catherine at Mass, and again on the nights of July 18-19 when she was summoned to the chapel by a beautiful "child clothed in white" to converse with the Virgin Mary. Catherine was told prophecies and charged with "a mission" that manifested itself on November 27 in an early morning (5:30am) appearance of the Blessed Virgin who was "clothed in white" standing on a globe and "a serpent." Rays of light issued forth from rings on her fingers and Catherine was told to commission a medal of what she was seeing. Then, turning


The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two of the many cases challenging the HHS Mandate , Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. (10th Circuit Court of Appeals) and Conestoga Wood Specialties v. Sebelius (3rd Circuit Court of Appeals).  The two circuit courts reached different conclusions on the question of whether for-profit secular corporations possess free exercise rights.  The family owning and running Hobby Lobby are devout Evangelical Christians while the family behind Conestoga Wood Specialties are Mennonites.  Both object to the potential abortifacient effects of “emergency contraception.”  The Court will hear arguments in the Spring. In the words of the Becket Fund litigator on the Hobby Lobby suit, these cases are essentially about “who gets to practice religion.”  The companies’ owners hold that Americans should not be commanded to leave their beliefs at home when they go to work.  But the Obama administration is pressing hard the argument that for-profit corporations hav

Pope backs male priesthood, urges 'feminine genius' in Church

Pope Francis lays flowers at the foot of the statue of Our Lady of Lujan on May 8, 2013. Credit: Stephen Driscoll/CNA. Vatican City, Nov 26, 2013 / 06:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis reaffirmed Catholic teaching on male priesthood in his first apostolic exhortation, while calling for a broader application of the “feminine genius” in Church life. “The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the Spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion,” he said, “but it can prove especially divisive if sacramental power is too closely identified with power in general.” The Pope's words came in his new document, “The Joy of the Gospel,” released Nov. 26.  Also known as “Evangelii Gaudium,” the apostolic exhortation follows the 2012 bishops' synod on the new evangelization, which was held as part of the Year of Faith. “Demands that the legitimate rights of women be respected, based on the firm conviction that men and women

Key points of Evangelii Gaudium, the Pope's first Apostolic Exhortation

November 26, 2013. ( Through this apostolic exhortation, Pope Francis had publicly laid out what he wants to focus on during his pontificate.  He challenges all Catholics to share the message of the Gospel with joy and mercy. To preach by example, the Pope says the Papacy should undergo a conversion, that's more faithful to the “meaning which Jesus Christ wished to give it and to the present needs of evangelization.”   These are some of the key points of  the document titled 'The Joy of the Gospel,' which the Pope says, must have 'important consequences.' 1. ACTION The Pope isn't concerned about changing Church Doctrine, but rather in changing the way Christianity is presented to the world. He says talking about God, “isn't about imposing beliefs, but rather about sharing the joy of faith.” 2. PROXIMITY The humanity of the Catholic Church is one of the points he highlights, including showing 'mercy to the sinner.'  He also

Pope issues first Apostolic Exhortation: Evangelii Gaudium

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has issued his first Apostolic Exhortation on Tuesday, Evangelii Gaudium, translated into English as The Joy of the Gospel. The 224-page document outlines the Pope’s vision for a missionary Church, whose “doors should always be open”. The Pope speaks on numerous themes, including evangelization, peace, homiletics, social justice, the family, respect for creation, faith and politics, ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, and the role of women and of the laity in the Church. The Joy of the Gospel is the title Pope Francis has chosen for this first major document of his pontificate, putting down in print the joyous spirit of encounter with Christ that characterizes every public appearance he has made so far. The man who has constantly kept the media’s attention with his desire to embrace and share his faith with everyone he meets, now urges us to do exactly the same. To “recover the original freshness of the Gospel”, as he puts it, through a thorough renew

St. John Berchmans

The Saint of the Day for November 26 is St. John Berchmans. This young saint of the Society of Jesus was born in Flanders, the oldest of five children. He grew up in an atmosphere of political turmoil caused by a religious war between the Catholic and Protestant sections of the Netherlands. He studied at the Gymnasium at Diest and worked as a servant in the household of Canon John Froymont at Malines in order to continue his studies. In 1615, the Jesuits opened a college at Malines, and St. John Berchmans was one of the first to enter. He was an energetic student and was a leader among the students. In 1616, he entered the Jesuit novitiate at Malines and came under the influence of Father Antoine Sucquet. The young Berchmans developed a strong and deep spirituality based on the loving practice of fidelity. St. Aloysius of Gonzaga was his spiritual model, and he was influenced as well by the example of the Jesuit English martyrs. It was his realistic appreciation for the value

Another American saint?

During the recent General Assembly of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the nation’s bishops conducted the required canonical episcopal consultation on the sainthood cause of Servant of God Mary Teresa Tallon, the daughter of Irish immigrants and foundress of the Parish Visitors of Mary Immaculate. According to the Parish Visitors website, Mother Mary Tallon was born on May 6, 1867, two years after the end of the Civil War, on a farm in the Mohawk Valley near the city of Utica, New York in a hamlet called Hanover. She was the seventh of eight children born to Bridget and Peter Tallon, both of whom had emigrated to the United States from Ireland. They brought with them the deep faith of their homeland as a heritage for their children. None of them could have received it more eagerly than their next-to-youngest, Julia Teresa. The desire to belong totally to God seems to have unfolded in her with the dawning of reason, though she had no acquaintanceship with religious Siste

Pope meets with Russian president Vladimir Putin, urging him to protect 'human dignity'

Vladimir Putin made his way to the Vatican on Monday afternoon, to meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican\'s Apostolic Palace. During their 35 minute meeting the Pope urged Vladimir Putin to protect human dignity. As a gift, the president gave the Pope an Byzantine icon of Our Lady of Tenderness

Pope to Catechumens: God searches for us, even when rejected and betrayed

( More than 500 Catechumens from roughly 47 countries came to the Vatican, where Pope Francis presided over the Rite of Acceptance. As part of the tradition, the Pope personally greeted about 35 of them at the entrance of St. Peter's Basilica. As the group gets ready to join the Catholic Church, the Pope talked about the Sacrament of Baptism, adding that God created people precisely for an encounter. POPE FRANCIS “God did not create us to be alone, or closed off in ourselves. He created us so we could encounter Him, and through Him, He lead us towards others. God first comes to us. This is incredible! He comes to us!" The Pope also highlighted that God is always loyal and patient, even when rejected and betrayed. POPE FRANCIS “God comes out and searches. He often seeks us out precisely when we're going through the bitter and tragic experience of betraying Him and fleeing from Him. God doesn't wait. He begins His search immediately. He searc

Religious Vocations: The Call -- Sister Elizabeth

Pope praises courageous choices of modern martyrs

In his daily homily, Pope Francis spoke of the faithfulness of God, highlighting the importance of trusting him with one’s life, and praising those who maintain this trust despite grave persecutions. “We think of so many mothers, of so many fathers of families, that everyday make definitive choices to go forward with their family, with their children,” the Pope expressed during his Nov. 25 daily Mass, adding that “this is a treasure for the Church.” Read more.

St. Catherine of Alexandria

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 fo

Feast of Christ the King

Today, November 24th, is the solemnity of Christ the King. The Feast of Christ the King was established by Pope Pius XI in 1925 as an antidote to secularism, a way of life which leaves God out of man's thinking and living and organizes his life as if God did not exist. The feast is intended to proclaim in a striking and effective manner Christ's royalty over individuals, families, society, governments, and nations. Today's Mass establishes the titles for Christ's royalty over men: 1) Christ is God, the Creator of the universe and hence wields a supreme power over all things; "All things were created by Him"; 2) Christ is our Redeemer, He purchased us by His precious Blood, and made us His property and possession; 3) Christ is Head of the Church, "holding in all things the primacy"; 4) God bestowed upon Christ the nations of the world as His special possession and dominion. Today's Mass also describes the qualities of Christ's

Blessed Miguel Agustin Pro

On November 23, 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 disg

Man Attacks, Threatens to Shoot, Pro-Life Activist Outside Abortion Clinic in Wichita, Kansas

Operation Rescue : Wichita, Kansas – An angry man jumped out of his vehicle and threatened to shoot pro-life activist Mark Gietzen, who had offered to help him as he left a woman for an abortion at the South Wind Women’s Center abortion clinic, located inside a building where George Tiller once operated in Wichita, Kansas. Gietzen, Director of the Kansas Coalition for Life, was setting up a pro-life display early on Thursday, November 21, when the man drove into the abortion clinic parking lot and dropped off a woman. As he left, Gietzen offered him pro-life literature and urged the man to go back and bring the mother of his baby out of the clinic. Continue reading.

Great Giveaways for The Sound of Music Live

Starting today and ending on December 4th, Catholic Fire will be giving away two prize packets for “ The Sound of Music” that include a poster, T-shirt and a CD that features songs from the musical, including a few from Carrie Underwood. To enter, send your full name and mailing address with "prize packets" in the subject line to me at: no later than midnight December 4th. Two winners winners will be randomly selected and notified by email. The stage performance will be broadcast live only once, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time December 5 on NBC. This should be quite a challenge, both for the cast and for the producers. I'm certainly looking forward to watching it! Watch the new promo video, which will give you an idea of what to look forward to: Below is the press release I received, announcing the special live presentation. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Experience The Sound of Music live Iconic musical arrives just in time for Christmas ATLANTA,

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