Sunday, February 28, 2010

Learning Your Faith

Attack on all families

The attack on a Gonzales family  in our beloved country of Trinidad last week, in which four members were killed while they slept, must be seen as an attack on all families. Here was yet another bold attempt to treat, with disdain, God’s gift of life and the institution meant to serve life; another instance of the invasion of intimacy and security that every home should be able to provide.

It reveals that in addition to the forces that attack the family from within  – abortion, absent fathers, the contraceptive mentality, to name a few – there are others working on the outside that attempt to snuff out its life instantly.

What is to be done in such a situation? Much has been said about the ineffectiveness of law enforcement agencies to deal with the criminal elements which continue to create havoc in the society. The task grows seemingly more challenging for these bodies with each passing month when they fail to bring some measure of control to the wave of crime. But, they must continue to seek a solution to the problem.

Other institutions, agencies, groups and individuals in our society must do their part to reinstate the family and to help all citizens to grow in appreciation of the family, which the Church speaks of as “the first and vital cell of society”. In his Apostolic Exhortation “The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World” – Familaris Consortio (FC), Pope John Paul II says, “the future of humanity passes by way of the family” (86).

It is timely that the Archdiocese has made family life its priority this year, under the banner: “Catholic Family, Become What You Are”. It is a summons to Catholic families to become – what must be the case for all other families – an “intimate community of life and love”. Amid all the present challenges, each family must seek to become more and more that kind of community. 

The family is central to God’s plan for humanity. It finds in the Creator its identity and its mission; what it is and what it can and should do. Ultimately, the family’s mission is to “guard, reveal and communicate love” (FC, 17).

Attacks such as the one last week that managed to jolt a society, growing accustomed to dastardly criminal acts, begin in people’s hearts, hearts that should be shaped by the family. It ought to be clear that the family cannot become what it is meant to be without men and women cooperating with God, the source of love.

The good news is that the desire of God, as Scripture continually shows, is to engage men and women in this work of transformation. It is “when the sun had set and darkness had fallen” that the Lord takes the initiative and draws Abram into a covenant to make good all that he promised.  The assurance that God gives in his Word this Sunday is that he desires to come into the present doubt and despair to transfigure all. 


Sunday Snippets--A Catholic Carnival

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

This week my blogs surrounds reflections on Lent and some other inspirational thoughts. Hope you are inspired. God Bless:


Prayer for Chile



The Absurd Fate of Frozen Embryos


Pope: "Jesus alone should suffice in the Churches journey"

"Jesus alone" is all that is given to the Church of all times and must suffice in our journey. This was Pope Benedict XVIs message this morning in comments before the Angelus prayer in St Peters Square, reflecting on the Gospel story of the Transfiguration of Jesus, which dominates the liturgy of this second Sunday of Lent. His is the only voice we must listen to, explained Benedict XVI, the only one who in travelling to Jerusalem, gifts life. It is good to enjoy the consolations of the Lord, like Peter, the Pope added, but the Transfiguration reminds us that the joys God planted in our lives are not points of arrival, rather lights that He gives us on our earthly pilgrimage, because "Jesus alone" is all that is given to the Church of all times and must suffice in our journey.

Ready, steady, pray . . .

A PRIEST'S congregation has increased tenfold in a week -- thanks to a quickie Mass.

Despite the controversies which have rocked the church in recent years and the resulting fall-off in attendances at church services, Fr Michael Kenny has been packing them in at his Kilconly parish in Co Galway.

The popular priest started his 15-minute Mass as nothing more than an experiment at the start of Lent, just over a week ago. And he attributes the speed of the service to foregoing a sermon -- and having the help of a Eucharistic minister for communion. READ MORE

Pope and the Curia end Spiritual Exercises

On Saturday morning the Lenten retreat for the Pope and the Roman Curia came to an end. The spiritual exercises in preparation for Easter, which had started on Sunday 21 with the exposure of the Eucharist and the celebration of Vespers, were held throughout the week in the "Redemptoris Mater" chapel of the Apostolic Palace, with morning and afternoon sessions in the presence of Benedict XVI. During the week, all papal audiences, including general Wednesday, were suspended. The meditations were given by Salesian priest, Enrico dal Covolo, who was thanked by the Pope.

One-thousand Christians abandon the Holy Land every year

By the year 2020, the Christian community in the Holy Land could be non-existent. Over the past 70 years the percentage of Christians in Jerusalem has gone from 15 to 2 percent. 

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa - Custodian of the Holy Land
“About 170 thousand Christians, including Orthodox, Catholics and other faiths live among about 3.5 million Muslims and 5.7 million Jews. It’s a reality of suffering, the number of Christians is constantly diminishing.”

Msgr. Louis Sako -Archbishop of Kirkuk (Iraq)
“We want to stay here because this is our country, this is where our history it. If Christians leave, their history will also be gone. It’s a great loss, not only for us, but also for the Muslims.”

The situation is dramatic in the Middle East. During a meeting held in Rome to celebrate ecumenical dialogue between Muslims and Christians, the Archbishop of Iraq Louis Sako, denounced that the massive exodus is growing every year. 

Currently, 70 percent of all Christians have immigrated. Those who remain, do it for their jobs, their property or because they don’t have anywhere else to go to. 

Archbishop Sako says Mosul, is the least safest place in Iraq. Christians there have less rights than Muslims. They’re pressured and harassed into leaving their home country. In fact, the pope has penned a letter to Iraq’s Prime Minister, asking him to follow through with promise to protect Christians. 

According to Sako, one of the reasons for the persecution, is that Muslims relate Christianity the West. He says, Muslims believe the West, which includes Christians, is responsible for the war, the West wants to get rich off their oil and leave Muslims in ruins. In fact, Archbishop Sako says they are afraid the West will eradicate their theocratic system and impose their own morals. 

But aside from this difficult situation, Christians are working to find solutions. 

Msgr. Louis Sako -Archbishop of Kirkuk (Iraq)
“The people appreciate our openness, skills and behaviour, but that’s not enough for them.”

Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa -Custodian of the Holy Land
“We need to find more opportunities in colleges so that we could live together, study and grow. There’s no other alternative to dialogue.” 

Christians in the Middle East hope special synod dedicated to them, which will take place next October, will put a spotlight on their reality. They hope the synod will help them speak about the situation without being afraid. 

The dream of St. Joseph a masterpiece with a monumental error

There’s a big secret hiding behind this famous painting. For hundreds of years this masterpiece has been attributed to the famous Italian artist, Caravaggio, but in reality “The Dream of St. Joseph”  was painted by none other than Giovanni Baglione- a misconception that is now exposed in an exhibition at the Alfredo Pallesi art gallery in Rome.

Antonio Pallesi -Alfredo Pallesi Art Gallery
“Giovanni Baglione was one of the most recognized painters of Rome, until Caravaggio got to Rome. Caravaggio broke all the rules. But one year before Baglione finished this work, he took a ‘caravaggiotesque’ approach. In fact Caravaggio denounced him because he said Baglione was a copy cat.”

Now thanks to an investigation that looked at the records of Giovanni Baglione trial statements the artists true identity is known.

Antonio Pallesi - Alfredo Pallesi Art Gallery
“Those statements explicitly say that Giovanni Baglione finished the painting in 1559, it was meant to hang in the private chapel of the Santacroce family, who by the way never paid him. The documents also include the exact date, the characters and the measurements of the piece.”

But this masterpiece is also a historical bridge. The painting shows the passage of time though the cool artificial colors that are linked to mannerism to the darker shades linked to Caravaggio and one of the most significant aspects of Baroque.

Antonio Pallesi - Alfredo Pallesi Art Gallery
“This painting has significant mannerism influence because Baglione started to embrace the phenomenon that was occurring in painting at that time.”

The painting, which is more than 3 meters tall, reflects on the angels visit to Saint Joseph. The simple instrument of the carpenter is complemented by the complex sensation of movement that Baglione accomplishes with the figure of the angel.

“The dream of St. Joseph”,  a unique painting with a unique history, that now hangs with the name of it’s true author.

Sunday, Second Week of Lent

He was transfigured before their eyes and his clothes became dazzlingly white. (Mark 9:2-3)


"This is the remedy to fix my gaze on You, Incarnate Word, hanging on the Cross. As soon as You see a humble soul looking at You in this way, you are quickly moved to look at it, and the effect of Your divine glance is like that of a ray of sunshine on the earth; it warms it and prepares it to bring forth fruit. This is the way You act, O Divine Word, who by the light of Your glance, drain my soul of all its pride, and consume it in Your fire. No one acquires humility if he does not fix his gaze on You, O Word, on the Cross." ... St. Mary Magdalen dei Pazzi

Lenten Fact

During Bach's day, often the organ and choirs were silent during Lent.

Lenten Action.

Talk about today's scriptures with a friend after Mass.


Father of light,in you is found no shadow of change but only the fullness of life and limitless truth.
Open our heart to the voice of Your Word. and free us from the original darkness that shadows our vision.

Restore our sight that we may look upon your Son who calls us to repentance and a change of heart, for He lives and reigns with you for ever and ever.

Meditation Second Sunday in Lent (February 28)

Jesus transfigured in glory Gospel Reading:   Luke 9:28-36

How much do we miss of God's glory and action because we are asleep spiritually? There are many things which can keep our minds asleep to the things of God: Mental lethargy and the "unexamined life" can keep us from thinking things through and facing our doubts and questions. The life of ease can also hinder us from considering the challenging or disturbing demands of Christ.  Prejudice can make us blind to something new the Lord may have for us. Even sorrow can be a block until we can see past it to the glory of God. Are you spiritually awake? Peter, James, and John were privileged witnesses of the glory of Christ. We, too, as disciples of Christ are called to be witnesses of his glory. We all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18). The Lord wants to reveal his glory to us, his beloved disciples. Do you seek his presence with faith and reverence? 

“Lord Jesus, keep me always alert and awake to you, to your word, your action, and your daily presence in my life. Let me see your glory.” 

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Raymond Arroyo delves into Mother Angelica's prayer life in new book

In his fourth and most likely final book on Mother Angelica, noted author and EWTN news anchor Raymond Arroyo highlights some of the devotions and prayers of the 86-year-old nun, many of which are borne from her personal sufferings.

In an exclusive interview with CNA, Arroyo spoke about his motivation behind writing the new book and detailed some of the lesser known facts surrounding Mother Angelica's early life, including her painful disability and being raised in an impoverished, broken home. Mother Angelica, he said, is “no stranger to pain.”

“The Prayers and Personal Devotions of Mother Angelica,” is set to be released on March 2 and contains not only meditations and prayers written by Mother Angelica but traditional favorites of hers as well. According to Arroyo, readers will be able to “'listen in' on her private, and very human, conversations with God.” READ MORE

Prayer for Chile

For all victims of natural disaster,
especially those who live in Chile and Haiti.

Gather them to yourself in love . . .
    Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

For the family of nations: that our response to this crisis will be sacrificial and generous . . .

    Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

For the church: that all relief agencies will be gracious channels of your love and mercy

and that all Christians will recognize the poor and devastated on distant shores . . .

    Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.

For the human family as we grapple with the as-yet-senseless sufferings of our own lives and that of our fellow human beings . . .

    Lord, in your mercy: Hear our prayer.


"Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you"

Meditation:: Was Jesus exaggerating when he said we must be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect? The original meaning of "perfect" in Aramaic is "completeness" or "wholeness" – not lacking in what is essential. God gives us every good gift in Jesus Christ so that we may not lack anything we need to carry out his will and to live as his sons and daughters. He knows our frailty and sinfulness better than we do. And he assures us of his grace and help to follow in his ways. In the cross of Jesus we see the way of perfect love. Do you want to grow in the knowledge, wisdom, and love of God? Ask the Holy Spirit to set your heart on fire with the love of God. 

"Give us, Lord, a humble, quiet, peaceable, patient, tender and charitable mind, and in all our thoughts, words and deeds a taste of the Holy Spirit. Give us, Lord, a lively faith, a firm hope, a fervent charity, and love of you. Take from us all lukewarmness in meditation, dullness in prayer. Give us fervor and delight in thinking of you and your grace, your tender compassion towards me. The things we pray for, good Lord, give us grace to labor for: through Jesus Christ our Lord. " (Prayer of Thomas More) 

Friday, February 26, 2010

Hello, Is God There?

French Bishops Warn Against Phone Confessions

The bishops of France are warning the faithful that a private initiative to offer confessions over the phone is not sponsored by the Catholic Church.

Msgr. Bernard Podvin, spokesman of the French bishops' conference, released a statement last week in which he noted that "With the Lord's Line, Confess Over the Phone" is "not backed in any way by the Catholic Church in France."

The initiative was launched in conjunction with the beginning of Lent, and notes on its Web site that the team is "for the most part Catholic," and that the service is "in agreement with the principles of the Catholic Church."

Two telephone numbers are given for the public to call, with the last four digits of the first one spelling "Dieu", which in French means God. 

The calls cost 12 eurocents (16 cents) a minute, or 34 eurocents (46 cents) a minute if you call the first line. The Web site says 40% of the proceeds from the more expensive line will go to charity, without offering more specifics.

In his statement, Msgr. Podvin explained that while a phone service is "necessary and beneficial" -- in particular to alleviate "the loneliness of elderly and people with handicaps" -- the sacrament of confession requires the physical presence of a priest.

He added that the initiative introduces "confusion on the notion of confession."

"For the faithful Catholic," the spokesman clarified, "[confession] has a sacramental meaning which requires the effective presence of a priest."

"The coincidence of the launching of this line with the beginning of Lent has done no more than increase confusion," Msgr. Podvin lamented.

"Parishes, shrines and chaplaincies have established numerous places for the sacrament of confession," he continued. "Obviously, all of us want, in this Year for Priests, to have more priests to be close and available to listen to people."

College students lead eucharistic adoration in Rome

These young minds want Lent season to mean something, to be a point in time that will change their lives. Thats why they've decided to spend more time closer to God.

Benedict XVI will travel to Fatima in May

From May 11th through the 14th, Benedict XVI will travel to Portugal to visit Lisbon, Porto and the Shrine of Fatima. This will be the fifth visit that a Pontiff will have paid to Fatima, after Paul VI in 1967 and John Paul II in 1982, 1991, and 2000 -- images of which you are now seeing. In 2000, John Paul II went to Fatima for the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco, two of the young shepherds from Fatima to whom Our Lady appeared. On that occasion, the third mystery of Fatima was revealed, and during the homily John Paul II said that the message of Fatima is an appeal to conversion in order that humanity may avoid being ensnared by the dragon from the Book of Revelation.

Friday Funnies

Friday, First Week of Lent

"Unless your holiness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees you shall not enter the kingdom of God." (Matthew 5:20)



Fast from judging others; Feast on Christ dwelling in them.
Fast from apparent darkness; Feast on the reality of light.
Fast from pessimism; Feast on optimism.
Fast from thoughts of illness; Feast on the healing power of God.
Fast from words that pollute; Feast on phrases that purify.
Fast from anger; Feast on patience.
Fast from worry; Feast on Divine Providence.
Fast from unrelenting pressure; Feast on unceasing prayer.
Fast from negatives; Feast on positives.
Fast from complaining; Feast on appreciation.
Fast from hostility; Feast on non-resistance.
Fast from bitterness; Feast on forgiveness.
Fast from anxiety; Feast on hope.
Fast from yourself; Feast on a silent heart.

Lenten Question

Q: Why are the forty days called Lent?
A: They are called Lent because that is the Old English word for spring, the season of the year during which they fall. This is something unique to English. In almost all other languages its name is a derivative of the Latin term , or "the forty days." 

Lenten Action.

Be generous with your compliments today, especially to those who appear to be "down".


I enter on this path of repentance so that in dying to self I might rise to new life.

Pope John Paul II - "Cured" his Communist Barber

I am not a saint, I am a sinner" says Giovanni Vecchio as he snips at a customer's hair in his barber's shop in a side street of a workaday Rome suburb. "But I have known a saint." He pauses, scissors in mid-air. "In fact, I have cut his hair". 

If - or when - the late Pope John Paul II is canonised, it will be in part thanks to Mr Vecchio. Over 30 years ago, when the barber's shop he worked in was near the Vatican, a Polish prelate called Karol Wojtyla wandered in, sat down, and had his hair cut. He became a regular customer. 

Mr Vecchio had no idea who "Father Karol" was, still less that he was to become "papabile". "He told me once he was bishop of Krakow, but to me they were all priests. I called them all Father".

But the encounter changed his life: last year, when he was entering hospital in great pain for a hernia operation, he saw a black and white photograph of John Paul II as a young man hanging at the entrance, and "our eyes met". Shortly afterwards, he was discharged. The hernia - and the pain - had miraculously disappeared.  Read more

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Fr. John Corapi's Call

Fr. John Corapi of of the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity explains his call to the priesthood. 

The Absurd Fate of Frozen Embryos

 Interview With Law Professor Brian Scarnecchia

John Paul II pleaded with fertility technicians to stop creating them. "Donum Vitae," issued in 1997 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke of the "absurd fate" they were condemned to. The Snowflake Baby Program, launched in 1997, facilitated their adoption or "rescue."

Over 400,000 tiny human embryos created through in vitro fertilization exist today, their lives suspended in containers of liquid nitrogen, dubbed "concentration cans" by the late president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Dr. Jerome Lejeune.

Because the Catholic Church's plea to not create this bioethical dilemma went unheeded by many biopharmaceutical companies, the Vatican is now forced to make a moral judgment on the fate of hundreds of thousands of frozen lives.

Brian Scarnecchia, president of the International Solidarity and Human Rights Institute and professor of law at Ave Maria Law School, recently delivered a lecture on this developing issue at the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

In this interview with ZENIT, the professor articulated the complex moral questions involved in the debate concerning the fate of frozen embryos. READ FULL INTERVIEW

Retrouvaille: How couples seek an alternative to divorce

Married couples which are able to confront problems without reaching the point of filing for divorce, are never in the statistics. But a Catholic association called Retrouvaille, is credited with saving 100,000 married couples from divorce during the last 30 years.

Under the guide of Retrouvaille, those marriages that were able to overcome hardships were those that were able to help others.

Andrea -  Member Retrouvaille
“We’ve been able to find an alternative with Retrouville, in the sense that we don’t believe it’s true that at a certain point in a troubled marriage divorce is the only answer. It’s actually the opposite, there’s always a solution.”

Claudia - Member Retrouvaille“You do need the will power to do this, otherwise you can’t solve your problems. In fact, this is a way for you to get help from someone on the outside, because typically you see a marriage from a personal standpoint”.
Claudia and Andrea said their decision to separate was mainly because many of their marital problems went unresolved over the years. The root of many of them was the lack of communication that they say get worse once they had kids.

In fact, when many couples, because as in their case, decide to confront  problem, they find themselves alone. The only solution offered by public institutions is divorce, which can take a toll on young children.

Many laws over the last couple of years have actually sped up the legal process and a judges ruling offers little or no permanent solutions to any married couple.

Andrea - Member Retrouvaille“It’s like everything is against you. There isn’t anyone or any institutions that can help. It’s all up to people of good faith and other married couples to get you through it, they’re heroes in a very hostile environment.”

Claudia - Member Retrouvaille

“This type of attitude comes from the selfish attitude of mankind. It’s almost as though you think, ‘ I want to feel good, and if that means being away from you then that’s what I will do, because I want to have fun, I have to make my own life.”

Hundreds of marriages like Andrea’s and Claudia’s have shown that marital problems don’t have to lead to divorce, rather they can lead to a stronger relationship. For many it’s lead to a turning point, a point to get to know each other better and to love one another for who they are.

Small Successes - February 25, 2010


Over the weekend I managed to clean and paint the spare room as well as clean the windows and changed the curtains in two rooms.


  I have keep to my lenten resolutions (no Coca Cola and meat for the whole lenten season).I am a Coca Cola addict and I know this lent my challenge will be to give it up all together.


So far this week the laundry is fairly organized. I have also survived my daughter and son track and field practices as well as their choir practices for the up coming Music Festival while at the same time ensuring that all their school work gets done.

Thanks be to God for His continuing help and graces.

What are your successes this week? Share them at Faith & Family Live!

Queen Esther

It’s the simple things in family life that count

It was worth bringing an expert halfway round the world to speak on the subject so perhaps it is worth noting here that spending time with your children is more important than giving them the chance to become a musical prodigy or an Olympic medallist. 
“Simple quality time” is what Ottawa psychology professor Catherine Lee was talking about at a parenting conference in Brisbane last week.
"Sometimes they might just want to play Lego with you, or throw a ball around or do something silly and that can be just as important, if not more important, as the lessons and the clubs and the activity.
"If we don't have the basics, like enough sleep, if they're not spending time on those simple meals together, then I think we're missing something.
"We know what kids need. Kids need one-on-one with parents and they also need down-time, they need unstructured time and they need to be able to deal with boredom.

"If you ask kids to think about a happy Christmas, they usually won't think about what they were given at that Christmas, it will be what they were doing and it's the time that is the important thing."
Isn’t it great that academics are rediscovering the basics of a happy family life? 

Prof Lee also highlighted the changing role of fathers -- from breadwinners and soccer mates to parents more intimately involved with their children. She says mums should leave dads to work out their style for themselves. And she believes researchers need to keep an eye on this development. 

Well, it can’t do any harm and the results might even be quite interesting. We can certainly do with more recognition of the role of fathers and more insights into what children miss out on when they are not there. 


Professor Mark Cato: why I'm dying to live

When law professor Mark Cato was diagnosed with motor neurone disease, he started a popular blog detailing the frustrations of daily life - and the inventions he came up with to triumph over the cruel wasting disease. Here are selected extracts from his heart-rending online diary. 

In April 2008, Professor Mark Cato was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and told that he might have only 14 months to live. Faced with this deadly illness, Cato – aptly named after the great Roman stoic – did not turn his face to the wall. A year ago, he began a blog that is “more about living than dying”; a diary of the frustrations and triumphs of daily life with this cruel wasting disease. 

With its combination of serious discussion, jokes and anecdotes about the inventions he has designed to help him overcome his physical problems around the house, the Dying to Live blog ( has attracted some 200,000 readers, garnering a following among those who believe in living “every moment of every day”. READ MORE 

Lenten Quote for the day

'Lent makes us understand the relativity of the goods of this earth and thus makes us capable of the necessary self-denials, free to do good. Let us open the earth to the light of heaven, to the presence of God in our midst'. Amen. 
Pope Benedict XVI -Ash Wednesday Homily

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pope John Paul II beatification process nearly complete

Archbishop of Krakow, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who was John Paul II’s personal secretary for 40 years, told participants at a Colombian conference that the late-Pope's beatification process “is practically finished.” 
In Colombia, where Cardinal Dziwisz traveled to participate in a conference on the legacy of John Paul II, the cardinal remarked that the beatification process of the pilgrim Pope “is practically finished.”

“In order for the beatification to take place, it is important that the Church recognizes a miracle in which he has interceded. There is a case that is currently being investigated and it is of the miraculous healing of a French nun suffering from Parkinson’s.” READ MORE

Blasphemous Image of Jesus Fuels Tension in India

An image of Jesus holding a beer and a cigarette is the latest source of tensions between Christians and Hindu fundamentalists in India.

In the northwestern state of Punjab, the image -- originally in a school textbook -- was made poster-size and displayed on the streets. After Christian requests that the posters be taken down, violence erupted, according to L'Osservatore Romano.

The confrontations spread: Two Protestant churches were set on fire and pulled down, and another was seriously damaged.

Indian bishops launched an appeal for peace and announced plans to write a protest letter to education officials.

Father Babu Joseph, spokesman of the Indian episcopal conference, explained to Fides news agency that the publisher of the textbook -- Skyline Publications of New Delhi -- is not exactly "a direct expression of Hindu fundamentalist movements, but it certainly is sympathetic to them and is supported by certain rather extreme circles."

The spokesman said the bishops "have condemned this blasphemous act and renew their appeal for peace in Punjab and across India." READ MORE

Benedict XVI Meditates on Penance

Roman Curia Is Midway Through Spiritual Exercises

Today, the third full day of Benedict XVI's spiritual exercises retreat, the Pope is meditating on penance and its relation to the priestly vocation.

The annual seven-day spiritual exercises for the Pontiff and the Roman Curia began Sunday afternoon.

This year's retreat is focusing on "The Lessons of God and of the Church in the Priestly Vocation." This theme was chosen to reflect the Year for Priests currently underway.

Salesian Father Enrico dal Covolo, who was chosen to preach the meditations, spoke on Monday about the example of St. Augustine. The Holy Father and the Curia prayed that day for priestly vocations.

Tuesday, they prayed for missionaries and meditated on St. John Vianney, the "Cure of Ars."

Today, the penitential day, included meditations titled "The Biblical History of Vocation: Temptation, Doubt and Resistance Form Part of Our History" and "Always Sinners and Always Forgiven." READ MORE

Saints make the leap to manga

Inside the Diocesan Museum of Venice, is a exhibition on iconography of saints in language close to young people, manga.

The exhibition showcases 80 icons including saints such as San Sebastian and San Francis of Assisi.

The drawings are true to Christian tradition. Saint George is depicted slaying the dragon, St Lucia's eyes are on the tray, St. Sebastian pierced by arrows, San Marco has the lion next him.

The manga designs were illustrated by Studio Ebi of Brescia. The goal is to attract young visitors, educate them in an entertaining way.

Iconography has served as a religious language that has informed throughout the centuries, now through this exhibition it’s translated into a modern and lively language.

Wanda Poltawska: John Paul II’s best friend

When Wanda Poltawska was a young girl, she participated in Polands resistance against the Nazis. She was captured by the Gestapo and was deported to Ravensbruk concentration camp.

That’s where Adolf Hitler’s personal doctor, Karl Gebhardt subjected her to horrific medical experiments. Wanda says her curiosity to find how far human cruelty would go, was the only thing that kept her alive. After the war, she went home completely demoralized and began searching for a priest to help her reconcile with humanity.

Wanda Poltawska -
Author ‘Diario di un’Amicizia’

“At the concentration camp, I witnessed an inhumane way of being a man and woman. But at the same time, I also saw heroic acts. That’s why, I couldn’t understand who is the true human person. Eventually, I found the answer with the help of the anthropology and priest and philosopher Karol Wojtyla.”

That’s how her friendship of more than 50 years started. Since 1950 until his death, Karol Wojtyla was a confessor, spiritual guide and personal friend to Wanda Poltawska and her husband. In fact, the couple was the late pope’s advisors when he wrote "Love and Responsibility" and "The Acting Person.” 

In 1962, Wanda was diagnosed with cancer. The doctors gave her little chance to live. Karol Wojtyla wrote to Padre Pio, asking him to pray for her healing. Miraculously, the cancer disappeared without a trace.

Proof of Wanda’s friendship with the pope is spelled out in hundreds of letters they would send each other over the span of 55 years.

Wanda would write to him about her reflections on bible scriptures, Karol Wojtyla would suggest. He would later add his own ideas.

Now Wanda is publishing memoirs of her friendship with the late pontiff. In one letter, Karol Wojtyla recognizes how God had saved him from going to a concentration camp, because Wanda had gone in his place. That’s why he would refer to Wanda as his ‘little sister’ and he would sign the letter ‘your brother Karol’.

Wanda Poltawska
Author ‘Diario di un’Amicizia’

“When I met him, I first wanted to see what he would talk about, how he would celebrate Mass. I witness how he prayed and understood he was a saintly priest, I could see that from the first instant.”

The strong bond between the Poltawska’s and Karol Wojtyla remained even after he became pope. The Poltawska’s would attend some Christmas gatherings at the Vatican and spend some days with him over the summers at Castel Gandolfo. When the pope was sick, Wanda read books to him out loud so he could rest.

Wanda Poltawska
Author ‘Diario di un’Amicizia’

“His secret is that he loved all human beings. It didn’t matter if they were good, bad or thieves. He treated everyone with love, like Jesus would. He was truly a Vicar of Christ on earth.”

Many biographies exist on John Paul II, but the profile outlined in “‘Diario di un’Amicizia” by Wanda Poltawska is special. It documents 55 years of a friendship, and a new side of Karol Wojtyla: the one of a spiritual guide. 

IVF babies carry added health risks, doctors warned

Children who are conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF) face elevated risks of health problems that include birth defects, diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, medical studies show. As the first generation of IVF babies reaches adulthood, there are also indications that they face a higher rate of infertility-- perhaps a genetic trait inherited from their parents. A doctor in the vanguard of IVF treatment says that parents are willing to accept the risk that their children might be infertile, reasoning that the children, too, can receive IVF treatment.
Infertility time bomb: IVF children have higher risk of infertility, obesity and diabetes (Daily Mail)

Men, sex, and the Church

Images of a passive Jesus do not encourage red-blooded males to go to Church, but where can men find an authentic model of male Christianity?

At the recent Church of England synod, the problem of why there are so few male worshippers was addressed. This problem has been lingering for decades. Why is it that men and Church seem to be polar opposites? I grew up in an environment where it was distinctly unfashionable to be a male Christian. Church was for old ladies: cool, male and Christian were mutually exclusive words. To be a real guy, the mentality was that you had to 'get some' with the girls. Church therefore was emasculating because it prevented you from being a real man. READ MORE

Egypt refuses to recognize Muslim born, Christian converts

This is one of the last pictures taken of Mohammed Bishoy Hegazy. For the father of two, showing his face in public is now a matter of life and death.
Gregor Puppnick
European Center for Law and Justice

“He’s in hiding, and his family is in danger he’s not allowed to leave his country.”

Mr. Hegazy was born a Muslim in Egypt, but when he turned 16 he turned to Christianity. One of thousands of Muslim born Christian converts in Egypt. The country’s constitution recognizes religious freedom, but the government only allows one way conversions. From Christianity to Islam, not the other way around.  Mr. Hagazy was the first to seek that recognition by taking his case to the Egyptian courts, but in 2008 the courts ruled against him.

Since then, Gregor Puppnick of the European Center for Law and Justice, - Mr. Hegazy’s attorney-, says his client hasn’t been allowed to leave the country. He’s been detained and tortured.

Gregor Puppnick
European Center for Law and Justice

”Today he’s running he’s in hiding he’s had two death threats, his house and family has been attacked he went to jail. 421 he said himself his stay in jail was like a concentration camp with the Nazis.”

So, Mr. Puppnick has sent an urgent appeal to the U.N to launch an inquiry of the state of religious freedom in Egypt, which will put Egypt’s conversion laws into the spotlights. Puppnick hopes it will pave the way for the government to recognize Christian converts.

Gregor Puppnick
European Center for Law and Justice

“We hope to gain the freedom of Christians in Egypt to live freely as Christians.”

Currently there are 10 million Christians in Egypt the majority are Coptic Orthodox. But given increasing Muslim Christian tensions, the numbers are dwindling.

Gregor Puppnick
European Center for Law and Justice
“Like in many countries in the Middle East the radical Islam tries to reduce the number of Christians, and they’re trying to get them to leave the country. The way they try to get them to leave the country is threatening them and sometimes violent killing.”

This June the Human Rights Council will consider, discuss and vote on the findings of Egypt’s conversion laws.

Laws that are keeping Mr.Hegazy’s out of the spotlight and his identity at the center of a long struggle.

Year of the Priest - The Priesthood of Jesus Christ

Fr. Corapi about the call to priesthood. 

If today you hear his voice, harden not your heart. Do not be afraid. Do not be afraid to become who God has created you to be.  

Hat tip to the Called by Name site

Pope Mourns Portuguese Flood Victims

( Benedict XVI is expressing his concern and promising prayers after heavy rains last Saturday caused flash floods on the autonomous Portuguese island of Madeira.

In a papal telegram to Bishop António José Cavaco Carrilho of Funchal, sent through the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, he offered his condolences to the families of the dozens who died. The death toll was at 42 today, but search teams were still working to find 13 missing.

"The Supreme Pontiff wishes to express to the whole local community his concern, entrusting the victims to the mercy of God and praying for consolation and support for their families, the wounded, and those who have lost their possessions," the telegram states.

Benedict XVI also blessed them and invoked "comforting divine graces" for "all those tried by this tragedy, not forgetting the persons who take part in rescue and assistance work."

Meanwhile, the diocesan Caritas of Funchal continues to work on site, supporting those affected by Saturday's storm.

It has arranged temporary housing for some 400 people, as well as organizing a system to receive and distribute aid, including medicines, clothes and canned food.

A group of some 100 scouts of the Catholic Scout Movement is collaborating with the Municipality of Funchal in the cleanup.

Bishop Cavaco Carrilho presided over a funeral for the victims in St. Anthony's Cemetery, as well as a funeral for a fireman who died as a result of the storm.

The Lenten Rosary

Wednesday, First Week of Lent

"For at the preaching of Jonah they reformed, but you have a greater than Jonah here." (Luke 11:32)


"Go through the world unnoticed if you can. Secret privations, secret sacrifices of your own will, which will never be known until all things are revealed, are surer instruments of perfection than chains and shirts of hair."
...Fr. Lasance

Lenten Fact

The original period of Lent was 40 hours. It was spent fasting to commemorate the suffering of Christ and the 40 hours He spent in the tomb. In the early 3rd century, Lent was lengthened to 6 days. About 800 AD it was changed to 40 days.

Lenten Action.

Plant a seed or bulb and watch it develop through the spring. Pray for your own spiritual growth.


O Jesus, humbled to abjection for me, teach me to humble myself for love of You.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spark of the divine: the seminarian who carried the Olympic torch

With the Olympics now underway, I finally caught up with this remarkable story of one of the Canadians who carried the torch earlier this month: oco.jpgThe Olympic spark has been ignited within the soul of Vancouver seminarian Noel Oco, one of those carrying the Olympic torch through Vancouver prior to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

The Olympic flame is both meaningful and symbolic for him, Oco said. "Everyone who competes in the Games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever."

Currently serving at Our Lady of the Assumption Parish with Father Ron Thompson, his spiritual director, Oco is just months away from becoming a member of the Carthusians. He hopes to make his final commitment with a vow of lifelong poverty and silence.

Oco gained the privilege of carrying the torch after winning an essay competition. "No matter how powerful the Olympic flame is and what it represents, the flame inside each of us is greater than that flame. What the Olympic flame does is reflect off each of us and inspire us to live up to the ideals of the Olympic movement," he said.

His message to the world concerns vocations: he wants to inspire others to discern their own vocations, whatever they may be. READ MORE