Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Snippets - January 31, 2010

Sunday Snippets is brought to you each week by RAnn at This, That and the Other Thing. 

This week my blogs were focused on Pope Benedict XVI  as well as prayers for our priest as a tribute for The Year for the Priests, hope you are inspired. God Bless:

  Pope: "Love is the style of God and the believer"

Pope in Pictures at the end of his Angelus Prayer Today

In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI looks at a white dove that was freed at the end of the Angelus prayer in St. Peter's square, at the Vatican, Sunday, Jan. 31, 2010.

Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by two children, releases a dove at the end of his Angelus prayer at the Vatican January 31, 2010.REUTERS/Max Rossi (VATICAN - Tags: RELIGION SOCIETY)

Pope Benedict XVI and two children look on as one of the doves released by him returns to his apartments at the end of his Angelus prayer at the Vatican January 31, 2010.

Pope: "Love is the style of God and the believer"

"Love is the "style" of God and of believers, it is the behaviour of those who respond to the love of God, by laying down their lives as a gift of self to God and neighbour." This was Pope Benedicts message this morning before the Angelus prayer, commenting on St Pauls 'hymn of charity" in his First Letter to the Corinthians. He said the Apostle "shows the path of perfection," which consists in charity - agape - that is, in genuine love. Pope Benedict said that eventually, when we meet face to face with God, all other gifts will be less; the only one that will remain forever is charity, because God is love and we shall be like Him, in perfect communion with Him. 

Pope on crisis: "Decent Work for All"

After the Angelus, the Pope prayed this morning for three particular intentions. He entrusted the World Day of Leprosy Suffers, all the people who are still suffering from this disease, as well as health workers and volunteers who devote themselves because there might be a world without leprosy " to the protection of Father Damien de Veuster, who was canonized last October. Remembering the second day of intercession for peace in the Holy Land, Pope Benedict XVI said he was spiritually united in prayer to the many Christians from all over the world. And finally he echoed the call of the Italian Bishops Conference, which encourages people to do everything possible to protect and create jobs.

4th Sunday in Ordinary Time

In today’s first reading we hear that “the word of the Lord came” to Jeremiah and in the gospel we hear Jesus proclaiming “Today his Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” Human beings are by nature social; we are “listeners” and “speakers” because we are made in God’s own image and likeness. As we pray that young people may use the new means of social communication for good purposes, let us reflect on part of Pope John Paul II’s last Apostolic Letter, “On Rapid Development,” issued on January 24, 2005.

The apostle Paul has a clear message for those engaged in communications (politicians, professional communicators, spectators), “Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, for we are members one of another… No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear” (Eph 4: 25, 29).

To those working in communication, especially to believers involved in this important field of society, I extend the invitation which, from the beginning of my ministry as Pastor of the Universal Church, I have wished to express to the entire world “Do not be afraid!”

Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank “among the marvelous things” – inter mirifica – which God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom. Do not be afraid of being opposed by the world! Jesus has assured us, “I have conquered the world!” (Jn 16:33)

Do not be afraid even of your own weakness and inadequacy! The Divine Master has said, “I am with you always, until the end of the world” (Mt 28:20). Communicate the message of Christ’s hope, grace and love, keeping always alive, in this passing world, the eternal perspective of heaven, a perspective which no communications medium can ever directly communicate, “What eye has not seen, and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Cor 2:9).

To Mary, who gave us the Word of life, and who kept his unchanging words in her heart, do I entrust the journey of the Church in today’s world. May the Blessed Virgin help us to communicate by every means the beauty and joy of life in Christ our Savior.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Official Website for World Youth Day Madrid 2011

World Youth Day 2011 has launched its official website. Its a website made by youth for youth.

The site offers the latest news, information and preparations leading up to the event which will be held in Madrid in August 2011.

The Awe Factor of God

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. It underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the only home we've ever known.

Knights Donate 1/2M Soldiers' Prayer Books

The Knights of Columbus are delivering 100,000 more prayer books for U.S. armed services personnel, bringing their donation of the books to more than a half million copies since 2003. 

The latest delivery of "Armed With The Faith: A Catholic Handbook for Military Personnel" will be taken Saturday to the Washington, D.C. headquarters for the Archdiocese for the Military Services. The version provided to members of the armed forces are spiral bound, printed on special coated stock, and are sized to fit in the pockets of uniforms worn in the field. 

The Knights offer a version on regular paper to family members of service members. These prayer books can be obtained through the Knights of Columbus Catholic Information Service. 

Last year, the Knights of Columbus also produced "Armour of Faith: A Catholic Handbook for Canadian Military Personnel," and 30,000 of that version have been printed and distributed for Canadian soldiers. 

Embraceable You

Children play at the Croix Glorieuse orphanage in Port-au-Prince on January 29, 2010. Quake-hit Haiti will need at least a decade of painstaking reconstruction, aid chiefs and donor nations warned, as homeless, scarred survivors struggled to rebuild their lives. (Photo credit should read JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images)

Daily Reading & Meditation Saturday (1/30)

"Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?"
Scripture:  Mark 4:35-41
35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, "Let us go across to the other side." 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.  38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, "Teacher, do you not care if we perish?" 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, "Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?" 41 And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, "Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?"
Meditation: How can we fight fear with faith? Jesus' sleeping presence on the storm-tossed sea reveals the sleeping faith of his disciples. They feared for their lives even though their Lord and Master was with them in the boat. They were asleep to Christ while he was present to them in their hour of need. The Lord is ever present to us. And in our time of testing he asks the same question: Why are you afraid? Have you no faith? Do you recognize the Lord's presence with you, especially when you meet the storms of adversity, sorrow, and temptation? Whenever we encounter trouble, the Lord is there with the same reassuring message: "It is I, do not be afraid."
What are the characteristics of faith and how can we grow in it? Faith is an entirely free gift that God makes to us. Believing is only possible by grace and the help of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and who opens the eyes of the mind to understand and accept the truth which God has revealed to us. Faith enables us to relate to God rightly and confidently, with trust and reliance, by believing and adhering to his word, because he is utterly reliable and trustworthy. If we want to live, grow, and persevere in faith, then it must be nourished with the word of God. Fear does not need to cripple us from taking right action or rob us of our trust and reliance on God. Courage working with faith enables us to embrace God's word of truth and love with confidence and to act on it with firm hope in God's promises. The love of God strengthens us in our faith and trust in him and enables us to act with justice and kindness towards our neighbor even in the face of opposition or harm. Do you allow the love of Christ to rule in your heart and mind, and to move your will to choose what is good in accordance with his will? 

"Lord Jesus, increase my faith in your redeeming love and power that I may always recognize your abiding presence with me. And give me courage to do your will in all circumstances." 

Friday, January 29, 2010

World Leprosy Day

"The Fate of the Leprosy Sufferer Is to Be Marginalized"

Here is a translation of the message released today by the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, on the occasion of the 57th World Day of Leprosy Sufferers, which will be observed Sunday, Jan. 31. Read Message Here


Pope asks Roman Rota to encourage couples to stay married, avoid annulments

Annulments are not short-cuts to solve failed marriages, says the dean of the Church's central appellate court for nullity cases.

Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz said this today when the Tribunal of the Roman Rota was received in audience by Benedict XVI.

Illustrating this year's activity, the bishop said that the Church must face the challenge of a "widespread tendency that relativizes truth," especially "in declarations of marriage annulment."
In his intervention, published in L'Osservatore Romano, the Polish prelate said that among the cases the tribunal receives, those that affect the declaration of annulment of sacramental marriage "absorb to a large extent" its work.
Citing "Caritas in Veritate," Bishop Stankiewicz warned against "the widespread tendency that relativizes the truth and spreads a relativist vision of the human person and his nature."

This relativism also creeps into annulment cases, the bishop cautioned, "which in this way are deviated, becoming an easy way for the solution of failed marriages, thus emptying the meaning of the declaration of annulment, as well as the very meaning of the indissoluble character" of the sacrament.
Bishop Stankiewicz stressed that the declarations of annulment of marriage made by ecclesiastical tribunals in the dioceses "cannot be opposed to the principle of indissolubility."

Oh so many!!! and yet so few! - Year of the Priest

Photo taken during the Second National Congress of the Clergy held at the World Trade Center in Pasay, Philippines.  from January 25-29, 2010. Close to 5,500 priests and bishops attended the congress.

Let us continue to pray for our clergy in a special way. 

1. For all priests scattered throughout the world, that they may rediscover their priestly vocation as a "mystery of mercy" and, drawing plentifully from the sacramental source of the Eucharist and Reconciliation, may become channels of mercy for the world.

2. For the new evangelization, that in every priest the Lord may inspire a deep desire for holiness in his own specific state to live the primacy of holiness and to act in the world as a contemplative of his merciful love.

3. For priests who are ill or in any kind of difficulty, that our prayer may reach them all and give them true spiritual consolation, that it may strengthen their certainty of the Lord's love for them, which is also manifest in the sign of his Cross.

4. For those called to the priesthood, that their choice may be motivated solely by the desire to glorify God and to serve him in their brethren, communicating to them the gifts of the divine mercy of the Lord who came to find those who were lost and to restore to life those who lived no longer.

5. For the unity of priests, among themselves and with their bishops, so that Christ's true charity may reign among them, to form one body and one spirit united with the Pope in effective communion and thus setting an example to the world that can conquer it for the saving mission of Jesus.

6. For priests who are in difficulty, so that, through prayer, they may accept enlightenment from the Lord in order to rediscover the joy of their identity as men in the world but not of the world, consecrated in the truth and witnesses of the Cross and the Resurrection.

7. That all priests who have passed on to eternity may live joyfully the splendour of the heavenly liturgy in the blessed vision of peace.

8. That all of us may taste the Lord's goodness today and for ever and, through the intercession of Mary, Mother of Mercy, may find ourselves loved and pardoned in Christ by God the Father.

Mute button

As a mother of six I have never used a pacifier for any of my children. I guess I am anti-pacifier. I don't like the idea of putting a plug into a baby's mouth to keep them quiet and this particular version is even more offensive. What do you think? 

PETA Takes Aim at Babymaking Duggars

Fresh off their Obama family scandal, animal lovers PETA have a new target - the Duggars.

In an effort to encourage spaying and neutering your pets (where is Bob Barker?), PETA has proposed a billboard that will read “Doggies Multiply Faster Than Duggars.”

It's awful, but PETA’s official blog says they have no problem with the ever-growing family. Says the PETA “We say, as long as Jim Bob and Michelle are able to keep a roof over their family’s head and modern-modest clothes on their backs, there’s a far more important reproductive issue at hand.”

Well, in that case, how about substituting the word Duggars with rabbits and leave the Duggars out of it? Of course they wouldn’t get the same amount of press, not to mention cashing in on the upcoming introduction of new Duggar baby Josie Brooklyn to the world next week.

Pope Urges New Answers for Today's Problems

Says Youth in Particular Need Reasons for Hope

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 28, 2010 ( Benedict XVI is inviting members of the Pontifical Academies to give "adequate" and "creative" answers to the problems posed by contemporary culture, always taking recourse to "the riches of the Christian tradition."
It is particularly necessary to "offer values" to the youth who are growing up in a society dominated by "relativism" and "subjectivism," he said today upon receiving in audience some 300 representatives of the academies who met Wednesday in Rome for their annual public session.

The institutions represented included the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Theological Academy, the Academy of Mary Immaculate, the International Marian Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature "dei Virtuosi al Pantheon," the Roman Academy of Archaeology and the "Cultorum Martyrum" Academy.

Recalling that today is the feast day of St. Thomas Aquinas, Benedict XVI invited the members and experts of the academies to "trust in the possibility of human reason," maintaining fidelity to the "deposit of the faith," when it comes to addressing the questions posed by the dialogue with cultures. READ MORE

Daily Reading & Meditation Friday (1/29)

"With what can we compare the kingdom of God?"

Scripture:  Mark 4:26-34

26 And he said, "The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed upon the ground, 27 and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how. 28 The earth produces of itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. 29 But when the grain is ripe, at once he puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come." 30 And he said, "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use for it? 31 It is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; 32 yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade." 33 With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it; 34 he did not speak to them without a parable, but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Meditation: What can mustard seeds teach us about the kingdom of God? The tiny mustard seed literally grew to be a tree which attracted numerous birds because they loved the little black mustard seed it produced. God's kingdom works in a similar fashion. It starts from the smallest beginnings in the hearts of men and women who are receptive to God's word. And it works unseen and causes a transformation from within. Just as a seed has no power to change itself until it is planted in the ground, so we cannot change our lives to be like God until God gives us the power of his Holy Spirit. The Lord of the Universe is ever ready to transform us by the power of his Spirit. Are you ready to let God change you by his grace and power? The kingdom of God produces a transformation in those who receive the new life which Jesus Christ offers. When we yield to Jesus Christ, our lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. Paul the Apostle says, "we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us" (2 Corinthians 4:7). Do you believe in the transforming power of the Holy Spirit?

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and transform me into the Christ-like holiness you desire. Increase my zeal for your kingdom and instill in me a holy desire to live for your greater glory."

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Taizé Launches Prayer Campaign for Haiti

Unites People on 12th Day of Every Month

At the request of a young Haitian, the Taizé Community is asking people worldwide to remember his country in prayer on the 12th day of every month.

The day of prayer, beginning Feb. 12, will commemorate the Jan. 12 earthquake that destroyed the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.

On the Taizé Web site there are testimonies and appeals from several Haitians who volunteered with the community in years past.

One young man in particular, identified as Richard, noted that his country has been "plunged into deep distress."

The community also featured the statement of Bishop Pierre-André Dumas of the Diocese of Anse-a-Veau and Miragoane, the president of Caritas Haiti and "a close friend of Taizé."

The prelate underlined his belief that "our charity and the way in which we live this crisis will help increase our humanity."

Prayer for Haiti:

Mother Teresa's image on U.S stamp for 2010

Her work inspired people all around the world.

Blessed Mother Teresa, who won a Noble Peace Prize in 1979, served the sick, the needy and poor for more than 50 years.

Shes an inspiration to many, inspiration that will now be delivered in the form of a stamp.

The U.S Postal Service is honoring Mother Teresa of Calcutta in 2010, making her one of the many subjects of this years stamp program.

The stamp features her portrait painted by award-winning artist Thomas Blackshear II of Colorado.

Mother Teresa was well respected world wide. Ronald Regan presented her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1985 and later in 1997 she was honored with a Congressional Gold Medal for her outstanding and enduring contributions through humanitarian and charitable activities.

Mother Teresa died in Calcutta on September 5, 1997. She was 87 years old. Pope John Paul II beatified her in 2003.

She Says, How High?

Girls play skip with a rope at a makeshift camp at Champ de Mars in Port-au-Prince on January 26, 2010. Quake-hit Haiti will need at least a decade of painstaking reconstruction, aid chiefs and donor nations warned, as homeless, scarred survivors struggled today to rebuild their lives. AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA (Photo credit should read STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

Benedict XVI remembers the victims of the Holocaust

65 years after the of liberation of Auschwitz, Pope Benedict XVI was overcome with emotion as he remembered the victims of the Holocaust during the weekly general audience. The pope lamented the horror of the Holocaust and said the crimes that were a result of racial and religious hatred shouldnt be repeated.


Today’s saint was born in Italy and educated by the Benedictines. In 1244 he decided to join the recently formed Order of Preachers, also known as the Dominicans. His parents vehemently opposed this plan and had his brothers imprison him in a castle where they tried to break his resolve with both temptations and punishments. Eventually Thomas escaped and his parents relented. He made his way to Paris and Cologne where he studied philosophy and theology with the most learned man of the time, St. Albert the Great. Though some called him a “dumb ox” because of his physical size and a shy, quiet personality, St. Albert declared that “the lowing of this dumb ox would be heard all over the world.” Indeed, because of his teaching and writing, St. Thomas Aquinas has often been called the greatest theologian of all time. When Pope Urban IV instituted the feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of Christ, he asked Thomas to compose hymns and prayers which continue to be used for benediction, holy hours, and Eucharistic adoration: Pange Lingua, O Salutaris Hostia, Tantum Ergo, and Adoro Te Devote.

Let us pray today that our love of the Holy Eucharist and Blessed Sacrament will grow and fill us with charity for our neighbor. May this love in turn help other Christians to believe in the Real Presence of Jesus and become one with the Catholic Church. As we pray, let us make a Spiritual Communion with these words:

Lord Jesus, I believe that you are present in the Eucharist and that when I receive Holy Communion I am receiving You, Your Body and Blood, your Soul and Divinity. I cannot receive You now, but I pray that You come to me spiritually with all the graces I need to never be separated from You by sin. Come to me spiritually so that I may always live in union with You and be a reflection of You to all the people who will see me this day. Amen.

Daily Reading & Meditation Thursday (1/28)

"The measure you give will be the measure you get"
Scripture:  Mark 4:21-25
21 And he said to them, "Is a lamp brought in to be put under a bushel, or under a bed, and not on a stand? 22 For there is nothing hid, except to be made manifest; nor is anything secret, except to come to light. 23 If any man has ears to hear, let him hear." 24 And he said to them, "Take heed what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. 25 For to him who has will more be given; and from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

Meditation: What does the image of light and a lamp tell us about God's kingdom? Lamps in the ancient world served a vital function, much like they do today. They enable people to see and work in the dark and to avoid stumbling. The Jews also understood "light" as an expression of the inner beauty, truth, and goodness of God. In his light we see light ( Psalm 36:9). His word is a lamp that guides our steps (Psalm 119:105). God's grace not only illumines the darkness in our lives, but it also fills us with spiritual light, joy, and peace. Jesus used the image of a lamp to describe how his disciples are to live in the light of his truth and love. Just as natural light illumines the darkness and enables one to see visually, so the light of Christ shines in the hearts of believers and enables us to see the heavenly reality of God's kingdom. In fact, our mission is to be light-bearers of Christ so that others may see the truth of the gospel and be freed from the blindness of sin and deception.

Jesus remarks that nothing can remain hidden or secret. We can try to hide things from others, from ourselves, and from God. How tempting to shut our eyes from the consequences of our sinful ways and bad habits, even when we know what those consequences are. And how tempting to hide them from others and even from God. But, nonetheless, everything is known to God who sees all. There is great freedom and joy for those who live in God's light and who seek this truth. Those who listen to God and heed his voice will receive more from him. Do you know the joy and freedom of living in God's light?

"Lord Jesus, you guide me by the light of your saving truth. Fill my heart and mind with your light and truth and free me from the blindness of sin and deception that I may see your ways clearly and understand your will for my life. May I radiate your light and truth to others in word and deed."

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Pro-Life Prayer For Our President And Public Officials

Lord God, Author of Life and Source of Eternal Life,

Move the hearts of all our public officials and especially the President, to fulfill their responsibilities worthily and well to all those entrusted to their care.

Help them in their special leadership roles, to extend the mantle of protection to the most vulnerable, especially the defenseless unborn, whose lives are threatened with extermination by an indifferent society.

Guide all public officials by your wisdom and grace to cease supporting any law that fails to protect the fundamental good that is human life itself, which is a gift from God and parents.

You are the Protector and Defender of the lives of the innocent unborn. Change the hearts of those who compromise the call to protect and defend life. Bring our nation to the values that have made us a great nation, a society that upholds the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

Mary, the Mother of the living, help us to bear witness to the Gospel of Life with our lives and our laws, through Christ, Our Lord.


January 22, 2009
Most Reverend Robert J. Baker
Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama

Vatican Stamp to Help Haiti

The Vatican's Philatelic and Numismatic Office will donate the proceeds of the next stamp it issues to Haiti, which was devastated earlier this month by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake.

The stamp, which was already set to be released prior to the quake, will be dedicated to the 1,500th anniversary of the Shrine of Our Lady of Grace, more commonly known as the Shrine of Our Lady of Mentorella.

The shrine, located in the Prenestini mountains about 34 miles northeast of Vatican City, is a spot that both Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI traveled to shortly after being elected Pope.

The shrine dates back to the time of Constantine the Great, and is one of the first Marian shrines in Italy. St. Benedict of Nursia founded the monastery a little over a century later.
The Vatican will print some 900,000 stamps valued at 65 euro cents (91 cents), and sell them at 85 euro cents ($1.19). The additional 20 euro cents (28 cents) will be donated directly to Haiti.

The Governorate of Vatican State estimates that, if the whole edition is sold, some €150,000 ($211,424) will be collected.


Angela was a single lay woman who felt called to help girls receive an education and live good Christian lives. Gradually others joined her in this work and while living at home with their families they consecrated themselves to God and dedicated themselves to this service. In 1535 Angela organized them into the Company of St. Ursula, now known as the Ursuline Sisters. This was the first religious congregation of women dedicated to education. Angela was convinced that society would become more Christian through the good education of its future wives and mothers. Let us ask St. Angela to pray with us today as we ask that young people may learn to use the new social means of communication in ways that prepare them to serve society. Our reflection is from “The Spiritual Testament of St. Angela Merici.”

I beg you to be concerned about every one of your children. Bear them, so to speak, engraved upon your heart—not merely their names, but their conditions and states, whatever they may be. I beg you again: strive to draw these children by love, modesty, charity, and not by pride or harshness. Be sincerely kind to every one according to the words of our Lord: Learn of me, for I am meek and humble of heart. Thus you are imitiating God, of whom it is said: He has disposed all things pleasantly.

And again Jesus said: My yoke is easy and my burden is light. You also ought to exercise pleasantness toward all, taking great care especially that what you have commanded may never be done by reason of force. For God has given free will to everyone, and therefore he forces no one but only indicates, calls, persuades. Sometimes, however, something will have to be done with a stronger command, yet in a suitable manner and according to the state and necessities of individuals; but then also we should be impelled by charity and zeal for souls.

Daily Reading & Meditation Wednesday (1/27)

"Those who hear the word and accept it, bear fruit a hundredfold"

Scripture:  Mark 4:1-20

Meditation: What does the parable about seeds and roots say to us about the kingdom of God? Any farmer will attest to the importance of good soil for supplying nutrients for growth. And how does a plant get the necessary food and water it needs except by its roots? The scriptures frequently use the image of fruit-bearing plants or trees to convey the principle of spiritual life and death. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit (Jeremiah 17:7-8; see also Psalm 1:3)

Jesus' parable of the sower is aimed at the hearers of his word. There are different ways of accepting God's word and they produce different kinds of fruit accordingly. There is the prejudiced hearer who has a shut mind. Such a person is unteachable and blind to what he or she doesn't want to hear. Then there is the shallow hearer. He or she fails to think things out or think them through; they lack depth. They may initially respond with an emotional reaction; but when it wears off their mind wanders to something else. Another type of hearer is the person who has many interests or cares, but who lacks the ability to hear or comprehend what is truly important. Such a person is too busy to pray or too preoccupied to study and meditate on God's word. Then there is the one whose mind is open. Such a person is at all times willing to listen and to learn. He or she is never too proud or too busy to learn. They listen in order to understand. God gives grace to those who hunger for his word that they may understand his will and have the strength to live according to it.  Do you hunger for God's word?

"Lord Jesus, faith in your word is the way to wisdom, and to ponder your divine plan is to grow in the truth. Open my eyes to your deeds, and my ears to the sound of your call, that I may understand your will for my life and live according to it".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bishop: Haiti Quake Isn't Divine Punishment

A bishop from Haiti is affirming that the catastrophic earthquake that leveled the capital this month is not some sort of divine punishment.

"God has not done this to torture us," Bishop Guy Poulard of Les Cayes wrote in a statement.

Pointing to the assurance of God's love found in Scripture, the prelate said, "Our current desolation is not the result of a curse from God."

"Science shows us that nature has laws by which it is organized -- these are beyond anything human intelligence can do to overcome them," he explained.

Bishop Poulard praised the relief effort and reflected on the road ahead: "The way is long, it will be difficult.

"We need the prayer -- much prayer: not prayers that accuse God of punishing our faults; nor religious services that profit from the misery of our people to increase the size of congregations; not the sort of worship that maintains fear, but the prayer of a child to his father, a prayer clarifying, and revealing, what we must do."

Meanwhile, Caritas reported that its organizations -- including U.S.-based Catholic Relief Services, which the Vatican asked to spearhead the Church's aid in Haiti -- have begun to deliver almost 100 tons of food to Port-au-Prince to feed at least 50,000 people in one of the city’s biggest camps, Petionville Club.

"There is a long way to go," a Caritas statement acknowledged, "but the distribution at Petionville is a significant stone in large ocean of need."

Persecuted Christians Given a Voice Online

Web Site Offers Look Into Suffering Communities

A new Web site was launched to provide a window into the world of suffering and persecuted Christian communities around the world, and give ways of aiding them from afar.

Aid to the Church in Need created this site, "Where God Weeps," together with the Catholic Radio and Television Network.

The site offers radio and television features to highlight "the plight of Christians who suffer for their faith," the aid agency reported today.

Today's launch date, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, is significant because the "Apostle's transformation from persecutor of Christians to champion of their cause points to the essence of the Web site's aims and objectives," the director of the network, Mark Riedemann, explained.

He noted that "the media platform provides an important opportunity for people wanting to find out more about the suffering Church and how they get involved."

The site compiles interviews with clergy, missionaries and lay people who "live and work daily in areas of persecution around the world," the communiqué noted.

Every month it plans to focus on a particular country where Christians are undergoing hardships, with a documentary, statistics and facts, and an interview with a Church leader from that area.

It also includes news stories and a section titled "how to help" that presents various projects supported by the aid agency.

Riedemann reported that the site also "aims to reflect strong evidence that the persecution of Christians has increased."

Some 70% of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with high restrictions on religion, he said, referring to a 2009 study by the Pew Research Centre's Forum on Religion and Public Life.

The aid agency added that among all the oppressed religious groups, Christians are the most persecuted.

The multimedia site was designed to as a complement to the "Where God Weeps" series broadcast by the Eternal Word Television Network.

Where God Weeps:

John Paul II wrote a letter of resignation in case he was not able to fulfil his duties

The late pope John Paul II was willing to resign as the head of the Catholic Church if he were to come down with a incurable disease or if anything happened that would keep him from fulfilling his task. Thats what he wrote in his resignation letter, which the office of his cause of beatification has now published.

The pope wrote the letter in February of 1989, during the Cold War, a very uncertain moment in history. Back then he was 68 years old and healthy.

In the letter, John Paul II said he would resign from the papacy in one of two cases: one, if he had an incurable disease that would prevent him from exercising the apostolic ministry; or "in case of a severe and prolonged impairment that wouldve kept him from being the pope. Perhaps the pontiff was thinking about an accident, an attack or a war.

John Paul II entrusted in the Dean of the College of Cardinals, the cardinals of the Roman Curia and Vicar of Rome, to decide when to accept his letter of resignation.

The postulator, Slawomir Oder, published the entire text of the letter in his new book, "WHY HE IS HOLY"


On the day following the celebration of St. Paul’s conversion, we honor the memory of two of St. Paul’s helpers. This is a reminder to us that no grace is given for our sole benefit; grace is given to be shared so that the Church may be built up in love. According to tradition, St. Paul wrote two letters to Timothy and one to Titus. In them we see St. Paul’s concern for sound doctrine and for visible structures. As we pray for greater visible unity among all Christians, let us reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s General Audience of January 28, 2009 in which he discussed these letters.

Lastly, it is important to note that in these Letters, the Church sees herself in very human terms, analogous to the home and the family. Particularly in 1 Tm 3: 2-7 we read highly detailed instructions concerning the Bishop, like these: he must be "irreprehensible, the husband of one wife, temperate, sensible, dignified, hospitable, an apt teacher, no drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, and no lover of money. He must manage his own household well, keeping his children under control and respectful in every way, for if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's Church?.... Moreover he must be well thought of by outsiders". A special note should be made here of the importance of an aptitude for teaching (cf. also 1 Tm 5: 17), which is echoed in other passages (cf. 1 Tm 6: 2c; 2 Tm 3: 10; Ti 2: 1), and also of a special personal characteristic, that of "paternity". In fact the Bishop is considered the father of the Christian community (cf. also 1 Tm 3: 15). For that matter, the idea of the Church as "the Household of God" is rooted in the Old Testament (cf. Nm 12: 7) and is repeated in Heb 3: 2, 6, while elsewhere we read that all Christians are no longer strangers or guests, but fellow citizens of the saints and members of the household of God (cf. Eph 2: 19).

Let us ask the Lord and St Paul that we too, as Christians, may be ever more characterized, in relation to the society in which we live, as members of the "family of God". And we pray that the Pastors of the Church may increasingly acquire paternal sentiments tender and at the same time strong in the formation of the House of God, of the community, and of the Church.

What Could You Live Without?

It all began with a stop at a red light.

Kevin Salwen, a writer and entrepreneur in Atlanta, was driving his 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, back from a sleepover in 2006. While waiting at a traffic light, they saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other.

“Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal,” Hannah protested. The light changed and they drove on, but Hannah was too young to be reasonable. She pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something.

“What do you want to do?” her mom responded. “Sell our house?”

Warning! Never suggest a grand gesture to an idealistic teenager. Hannah seized upon the idea of selling the luxurious family home and donating half the proceeds to charity, while using the other half to buy a more modest replacement home.

Eventually, that’s what the family did. The project — crazy, impetuous and utterly inspiring — is chronicled in a book by father and daughter scheduled to be published next month: “The Power of Half.” It’s a book that, frankly, I’d be nervous about leaving around where my own teenage kids might find it. An impressionable child reads this, and the next thing you know your whole family is out on the street.

At a time of enormous needs in Haiti and elsewhere, when so many are trying to help Haitians by sending everything from text messages to shoes, the Salwens offer an example of a family that came together to make a difference — for themselves as much as the people they were trying to help. READ MORE

Daily Reading & Meditation Tuesday (1/26)

"Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother"
Scripture:  Mark 3:31-35
31 And his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside they sent to him and called him. 32 And a crowd was sitting about him; and they said to him, "Your mother and your brothers are outside, asking for you." 33 And he replied, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" 34 And looking around on those who sat about him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother, and sister, and mother."

Meditation: Who do you love and cherish the most? God did not intend for us to be alone, but to be with others. He gives us many opportunities for developing relationships with family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. Why did Jesus, on this occasion, seem to ignore his own relatives when they pressed to see him? His love and respect for his mother and his relatives was unquestionable. Jesus never lost an opportunity to teach his disciples a spiritual lesson and truth about the kingdom of God. On this occasion when many gathered to hear Jesus he pointed to another higher reality of relationships, namely our relationship with God and with those who belong to God.

Jesus is God's love incarnate – God's love made visible in human flesh (1 John 4:9-10). That is why Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep and the shepherd who seeks out the sheep who have strayed and lost their way. God is like the father who yearns for his prodigal son to return home and then throws a great party for his son when he has a change of heart and comes back (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus offered up his life on the cross for our sake, so that we could be forgiven and restored to unity and friendship with God. It is through Jesus that we become the adopted children of God – his own sons and daughters. That is why Jesus told his disciples that they would have many new friends and family relationships in his kingdom. Whoever does the will of God is a friend of God and a member of his family – his sons and daughters who have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ.

"Heavenly Father, you are the source of all true friendship and love. In all my relationships, may your love be my constant guide for choosing what is good and for rejecting what is contrary to your will."

Monday, January 25, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI closes Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Pope Benedict XVI marked the end of the 2010 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity during a ceremony at St. Paul Outside the Walls Basilica in Rome. 

JOSP fest, is a 4-day festival in Rome

Some 100,000 people saw some of the most significant religious sites on this planet without having to go too far. JOSP fest, is a 4-day festival in Rome dedicated to the pilgrimages.

Samanta Tata - Organizer JOSP Fest
At least once a year we want to bring together all the cultures and initiatives that focus on trips that are centered around spirituality. Its aimed at travelers with a specific intention, one that goes deeper than getting some sun on the beach or enjoying the local cuisine.

This year one of the places thats captivating a lot of the attention is Spain which is celebrating Compostela Holy Year.

Pitusa Fariña Reboredo - Caminos de Santiago
When July 25th coincides with a Sunday, thats considered a Holy Year. But it only takes place, every 6, 5, 6, and 11 years. And this year marks the end of the cycle because there wont be another holy year for another 11 years.

Poland, the home country of John Paul II, is also getting a lot of peoples attention. One of the attractions there is a center thats under construction in Krakow dedicated to Karol Wojtyla. It will feature a museum, a sanctuary, library, conference rooms and a center for the formation of volunteers. People from all 5 continents donated money for its construction.

Pawez Kozakiewicz - Have no Fear
Near the sanctuary of the Divine Mercy, we have built a church dedicated to the pope. It will also serve as a museum dedicated to his life, from the time he was a child to his pontificate. We want to tell his story to all those who visit the place he was born.

Developing countries were also among the 300 exhibitors at JOSP fest, thanks to the help of the organization. However due to the aftermath of the earthquake in Haiti, the country was absent this year. Instead JOSP accepted donations to deliver to the victims of the quake.

There were also musical acts, meetings and presentations for pilgrims. The JOSP fest, which is in its second year, has turned into a convention for those who want to travel to placed where they can find themselves closer to the Lord.

Pope Benedict XVI to visit Lutheran Church in Rome

For the first time during his pontificate, Benedict XVI will visit a Lutheran Church in Rome. The visit will take place March 14th. This visit comes on the heels of other meetings hes had with Lutherans at the Vatican.

The President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper hinted of a possible visit during a press conference in October.

The visit is part of the Churchs call for ecumenical dialogue and the search for all Christians including Lutherans, to share the same fundamentals of the Christian faith.

This isnt the time the pope shows a sign of strengthening relations between Catholics and Lutherans. In November of 2009, the pope celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification between Catholics and Lutherans.

The declaration marked the end of the one of the issues that split both sides since the Reformation, after both acknowledged that faith and acts of faith are necessary for ones salvation.

Benedict XVI to Haiti: We Won't Abandon You

Sends Message to Country's President and Bishops

Benedict XVI is affirming that the Church will not abandon the Haitian people and will do everything possible to contribute to the country's reconstruction after the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The Pope wrote this in messages to the Haitian president, René Préval, and the president of the country's bishops' conference, Archbishop Louis Kébreau of Cap-Haitien.

Both messages, publicized Saturday by the Vatican press office, affirmed the Pontiff's sorrow for the quake victims and his nearness to the survivors.

In his letter to Haitian civil leader, the Holy Father expressed his prayer that God would "welcome into the peace of his kingdom all those who died in the earthquake" and "grant consolation to their families, who, often, were unable to provide their deceased loved ones a worthy burial."

The Haitian authorities recently reported that 111,500 people have been found dead and another 193,891 are injured, with 3 million people displaced.

"I pray also," Benedict XVI added, "that the spirit of solidarity will live in the hearts of all and that calm will reign in the streets, so that the generous aid that is arriving from all countries will bring relief to all and the people who today have lost everything will be comforted in knowing that the entire international community is taking care of them in concrete ways." READ MORE