Saturday, July 31, 2010

“Oscar's Cuba”: film about a pro-life prisoner of conscience


This documentary tells the story of “Cuba's forgotten hero.”

Dr. Oscar Biscet is currently serving a 25 year prison sentence in Cuba for allegedly committing crimes against the sovereignty and integrity of the Cuban territory. This Christian physician, promoter of human rights and life, has been called “Fidel Castro's number one enemy.”

Jordan Allott, the director of “Oscar's Cuba,” says he didn't know much about Cuba before he started filming. But after hearing about Biscet, he snuck into Cuba twice to film the documentary he says was much needed.

Allott believes Biscet is the greatest living example of a man standing up to the culture of death.

Biscet first caught the attention of Castro's regime in the 1990s when he staged a peaceful pro-life demonstration outside a hospital in Havana. And after publishing an article condemning abortion, he was imprisoned for three years for the crime of “disrespect.”

Between 1998 and 1999, Biscet was detained 26 times.
In 2002, he was arrested while meeting with friends to discuss human rights. He is still carrying out that sentence.

He has no windows in his prison cell, is not permitted toiletries, medication, correspondence, visitors nor reading materials.

In this documentary, Biscet's wife, Elsa, shows the food she takes to him in prison and the bucket he uses to hold bath water. She visits him for 2 hours every two months.

The director says Biscet is an ideal example of courage, humility and faith in action for all Christians, especially the youth.  He wants Biscet's message to not only make us feel grateful for our freedoms but to spur us into action as well.

He says Cuba is “one giant prison” and those of us who are free and able to do something to help should do so.

Ten (10) Prayerful Thoughts from St. Ignatius of Loyola


1. May the sovereign grace and eternal love of Christ our Lord and Creator greet and visit you with His gifts and graces for His greater service, praise and glory [Ep. 1:363].

2. For those who love, nothing is too difficult, especially when it is done for the love of our Lord Jesus Christ [Ep. 1:81].

3. The more completely we focus our attention on our Creator and Lord, the less chance there is of our being distracted by creatures [Ep. 7:411].

4. Lord, what do I desire, if not You; and what could I desire other than You? [AS 763, no. 476].

5. If God sends you much suffering, it is a sure sign that He wishes to make you a great saint. If you desire to be a saint, then also desire to suffer much [Bart. 2:257].

6. When I serve those who are servants of my Lord, I realize that I am at the same time serving the Lord of all [Ep. 2:317].

7. True confession of sins requires three elements, namely, contrition in the heart, confession on the lips, and satisfaction in deeds [Ep. 12:666].

8. If we fear the world more than we should, we will never accomplish anything great for God, for all that we do for God invites persecution from the world [Bart. 2:254].

9. In the life which is eternal and without end God will reward your patience with indescribable joy and glory; there will be no trials, sadness, or discomfort—for there are none of these in heaven—but only the fulfillment of every joy and happiness [Ep. 6:161].
 
10. Take and receive, O Lord, all my liberty, my memory, my understanding and all my will; all that I have and all that I possess. All this you have given me, Lord, and I return them to You. Everything is Yours; dispense them according to Your good pleasure. Grant me Your love; give me Your grace, and this is enough for me [Spir. Exer., "Contemplation for Obtaining Love"].


ST. IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA

Today’s saint is the founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits), the religious order to which the care and direction of the Apostleship of Prayer has been given. Our commitment to praying for the monthly intentions of the pope comes right out of the spirituality of St. Ignatius who sought “the greater glory of God” by placing himself at the service of the pope whose position gave him knowledge of the needs of the Church and the world. St. Ignatius is the patron saint of retreats because his retreat manual, “The Spiritual Exercises,” has been a blessing for those making retreats since he first wrote it and directed others through it. The “Exercises” conclude with an offering prayer that is a response to the love of God in which the retreatant has grown over the course of the retreat. As we renew our daily offering, we will pray that prayer now, as well as a Prayer for Generosity that St. Ignatius composed.

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will, all that I have and possess. You have given all to me; to you, O Lord, I now return it; all is yours, dispose of me wholly according to your will. All that I ask is for your grace and your love; with these I am rich enough and want for nothing more.

Dearest Lord, teach me to be generous. Teach me to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for reward, save that of knowing that I am doing your will. Amen.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Catholic psychologist trains confessors in growing problem


New York archdiocesan clergy among those learning how to help parishioners battle addiction to porn

 



Priests meet them in the confessional. Clinical therapist and counselor Peter Kleponis meets them in his office — men who are caught up in the epidemic of viewing pornography.

The Archdiocese of New York in June gave priests a unique opportunity to learn from Kleponis.

One man looked at pornography online on his home computer for more than 10 years, always navigating away and erasing his Internet history when he was done, so that his wife wouldn’t know. One day he forgot to, and the images his wife saw so disgusted her that she left him.

Another man worked hard to reach an executive level at his corporation. The stress of the new position and the privacy of his new office combined to coax him into looking at porn at work. He began to spend more and more time doing it until other managers got suspicious. They discovered what he was doing and fired him. 

READ MORE

7 Quick TAkes Friday

 
Happy 7 Quick Takes Friday!

I always liked the work of Vincent Van Gogh and as a teenager during my art classes I would try to copy his style. I was always curious as to his strange persona. The following 7 interesting facts given clarity to his behavior and teaches that its not always good to judge other unless all the facts are known. 

These facts are taken from historical records and are not biased opinions.



1) Fell in Love with his Landlady's Daughter in Hague

It seems that Vincent Van Gogh had a penchant for the ladies, and one of his first jobs was in an office in the City of Hague. he worked at this job for over four years until he fell in love with his landlord's daughter and was subsequently dismissed from the company. This demonstrates Van Gogh's quest for love even at the expense of monetary concerns.


 
2) He Forever Searched for Happiness

Vincent Van Gogh was a man possessed with the notion that happiness was all that he required in this world. Far be it for anyone to argue that point, yet what is true is that he forever chased that emotion, and came up empty in the end. This craving of happiness can be seen in all of his artistic endeavors.

 
3) He Suffered from Schizophrenia and Other Mental Health Problems

Suffering from mental disorders such as schizophrenia affected Van Gogh his entire life and artistic career. The fabled 'Starry Night' rendition was actually done when he was a resident in an insane asylum in Saint-Remy, France. Many other mental disorders plagued this fantastic artist his entire life and can be easily picked out, in some of his most famous artistic pursuits. As an intelligent individual and famed artist, Vincent Van Gogh knew when to say when and admitted himself many times into mental institutions all throughout Europe. After being released from such self-imposed institutions of recovery, he showed signs of increasing improvement but these were fleeting at best. In the end, he took his own life, after a bout of depression.


4) He Loved Japanese Artistry

The island of Japan mesmerized Van Gogh and showed in many of his paintings with cherry blossoms and other Japanese iconic artistry. Some of his best works are Japanese-themed and Pacific Island related.

 
5) He Loved his Brother Theo

There was no denying this, Vincent Van Gogh's love for his brother Theo, translated both time and space and life and death. Everything that he accomplished was directly attributed to his brother Theo, even when his brother had little or nothing to do with the accomplishment. He would often speak of his brother in the highest regard and say a finer brother a man could never have.



6) He Only Sold One Painting During His Lifetime (The Red Vineyard)

Vincent Van Gogh created 2000 pieces of art, 900 paintings and 1100 sketches and pencil drawings. Of those entire great works only one was sold for profit.



7) His Brother Theo's Wife Is Actually Responsible For His Popularity Today

Six months after Vincent died, Theo died, and his wife Johanna devoted the rest of her life to getting Van Gogh the recognition she felt he rightly deserved. If it was not for her efforts, the world may not have known of Vincent's mastery.

Daily Reading & Meditation Friday (July 30):

"Is this not the carpenter's son?" Matthew 13:54-58

54 and coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?" 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house." 58 And he did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.

Meditation: Are you critical towards others, especially those who are close to you? How easily familiarity breeds contempt. Jesus could do no mighty works in his hometown because the people who were familiar with him were closed-minded and despised his claim to speak and act in the name of God. If people come together to hate and refuse to understand others different than themselves, then they will see no other point of view than their own and they will refuse to love and accept others. How do you view those who are familiar to you? With kindness and respect or with a critical and judgmental spirit?

The Lord Jesus offers us freedom from sin, prejudice, contempt, and fear. His love and grace sets us free to love others with the same grace and mercy which he has shown to us. Only Jesus can truly set us free from the worst tyranny possible — slavery to sin and the fear of death. His victory on the cross brings us pardon and healing, and the grace to live holy lives by the power of the Holy Spirit. Do you know the joy and freedom which Christ's love brings to our hearts?

"Lord Jesus, your love conquers every fear and breaks the power of hatred and prejudice. Flood my heart with your mercy and compassion, that I may treat my neighbor with the same favor and kindness which you have shown to me."

ST. PETER CHYSOLOGUS

Today’s saint was born in Italy and became the bishop of Ravenna. He was such an eloquent preacher that he was given the name “Chrysologus” or “Golden-worded.” In 1729 he was proclaimed a doctor of the Church. As we reflect on the following excerpt from one of his sermons, let us pray for peace in our cities and throughout the world.

Peace among brethren is the will of God, the joy of Christ, the completion of holiness, the rule of justice, the teacher of truth, the guardian of morals and a praiseworthy discipline in every regard. Peace lends strength to our prayers; it is the way our petitions can reach God easily and be credited; it is the plenitude which fulfills our desires. Peace is the mother of love, the bond of concord and the manifest sign of a pure soul, one which seeks to please God, which seeks to be fulfilled and has its desire rewarded. Peace must be preserved according to the Lord’s precepts, as Christ said: I leave you peace, my peace I give you, that is, as I left you in peace, in peace shall I find you. As Christ left the world, he wished to leave the gift he wanted to find when he returned. …

Let us therefore keep the commandments, which are life for us; let us carry on together the obligations of our brotherhood in profound peace; let us bind one another with the ties of salvific charity in this mutual love which covers a multitude of sins. … We must keep peace before all other virtues, since God is always in peace. Love peace, and all the world will be tranquil and quiet. By doing so you store up rewards for me, and joy for yourselves, that the Church of God may be founded on the bond of peace and may cling to perfect observance in Christ. 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

"There be Dragons" trailer debuts

 
The movie "There be Dragons" is about to debut in movie theaters around the world. With the release of the trailer, everything is ready for its debut in the spring of 2011.

Roland Joffé, director of the film and other great hits like "The Mission" and "The Killing Fields" is completing the final version of the film which takes spectators to Madrid, in 1936 in the midst of the Spanish Civil War.

Josemaria and Manolo, friends since childhood, are caught up in the Spanish Civil War  which separates them.

Years later, Robert, son of Manolo, leasrns about the friendship his father had with JosemarĂ­a, who was ordained a priest and founded Opus Dei.

The film feastures an all star cast, and will debut in movie theaters in just a few months.

Vatican bans scantily clad tourists



The ban had previously applied only to St Peter's Basilica but guards manning the official entry point into the tiny, walled state begun pulling visitors aside overnight for sporting "inappropriate" attire, Italian news agency ANSA reported.

The new decree, particularly targeting those in shorts and shoulder-revealing shirts, sent several tourists trudging off to local stores to buy shawls, scarves and pairs of trousers.

Immodest clothing has been specifically barred from St Peter's for decades and Vatican officials are seemingly sick of visitors flouting the dress-code.

However, locals just nipping inside the Vatican City walls to use its pharmacy, post office and store were particularity bewildered by the clothing crackdown.
 
Most are accustomed to treating the Vatican like any other part of Rome, ANSA said.

The night life of the sleepy teenager


What is to be done about the teenagers? They are squandering sleeping time on electronic gadgets to the point where family life, studies and even health are compromised. And many parents either don’t see the problem or feel powerless to intervene. 

Make no mistake -- teens and their sleep, or lack of it, are one of the biggest topics in adolescent health. Study after study repeats that high school kids are not getting enough sleep and this affects their ability to learn, to focus --for example, on an activity like driving -- to keep healthy and fight obesity. 

For a while the researchers were hammering the hormone theory: the idea that the physical changes of adolescence change teens’ natural sleep rhythms and make it harder for them to go to bed early -- even though they have to get up early to get to school. (Can’t say that I noticed this during my years at boarding school, ever so long ago.) 

The circadian-change diagnosis of teens who fall asleep at their first class of the day is still on the table, along with proposals for starting classes later, but now we are hearing more and more about the sleep-disrupting properties of computers and smartphones, often in combination with more traditional media.READ MORE

Suing the Devil

An epic, spiritual battle in the courtroom, Suing The Devil, is a high-concept, faith-based legal thriller that will leave you breathless and cheering.

The story involves a down-and-out law student who sues Satan for $8 trillion dollars. Satan appears to defend himself and the trial of the century takes place.

The film will give insight into the danger of pride, the power of prayer, and the ultimate victory of faith in Christ over the forces of evil.

Luke O'Brien, a washed-up janitor turned night law student, decides to sue Satan for $8 trillion dollars. On the last day before Luke files a default judgment, Satan appears to defend himself. On Satan's legal team are 10 of the country's best trial lawyers. The entire world watches on Legal TV to see who will win the Trial of the Century.

Release Date: (Theaters) January 21, 2011


ST. MARTHA, FRIEND OF JESUS

St. Martha, along with her sister Mary and brother Lazarus, was one of the closest friends that Jesus had when he walked this earth. He often visited their home in Bethany and it was there that he went a few days before his betrayal and suffering (see John 12: 1-7). No doubt he went there to find comfort and strength from their friendship. May St. Martha intercede with us today as we offer ourselves for the Holy Father’s monthly intentions. May women around the world be able to participate in their nations’ elections and may their dignity be recognized so that they may fully participate in making the world, especially our cities, more human. Our reflection is from Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”

The sisters of Lazarus also deserve special mention. Mary "listened to the teaching" of Jesus: when he pays them a visit, he calls Mary's behavior "the good portion" in contrast to Martha's preoccupation with domestic matters (cf. Lk 10: 3842).

A woman is strong because of her awareness of this entrusting, strong because of the fact that God "entrusts the human being to her", always and in every way, even in the situations of social discrimination in which she may find herself. This awareness and this fundamental vocation speak to women of the dignity which they receive from God himself, and this makes them "strong" and strengthens their vocation. Thus the "perfect woman" (cf. Prov 31:10) becomes an irreplaceable support and source of spiritual strength for other people, who perceive the great energies of her spirit. These "perfect women" are owed much by their families, and sometimes by whole nations. [#30]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Farewell to a Swiss Guard who served three popes: his last interview

Joseph Schmidt died in Rome July 28, 2010. This is his last interview.

Right here in this same square, 500 years ago, the world’s smallest army pledged its loyalty to the head of the Catholic Church.

Back then, terrorism didn’t exist and driving in a Popemobile had yet to replace being carried aloft on a chair.  Yet, as veteran Swiss Guard Josef Schmidt recalls, the pontiff still faced significant threats.


The secrets of a 72-year marriage from the 'Original Grandparents'

Harry and Barbara Cooper are telling everyone how their marriage has lasted seven decades.

On the day of their 72nd wedding anniversary, they leaned toward each other, hands tenderly clasped, as they peered into the camera.

'It's a give-and-take situation," said Harry, as Barbara, giggled. "I give, and she takes."

This is an unconventional showcase for any elderly couple in their retirement home, but a typical day for two of the oldest bloggers in Los Angeles, California. Harry recently turned 98. Barbara is 93. The Coopers rely on their granddaughters to videotape their chat, which is later posted on their blog, "The OGs" (short for Original Grandparents).

Harry and Barbara have become an internet sensation, attracting thousands of fans since their blog debuted in late 2008. Their grandchildren helped them launch the OG blog as a way for them to share their wisdom, humor and relationship with the rest of the world. READ MORE


 

Why are we exterminating Down syndrome children if they can bring so much joy?

One of the cheerier stories to emerge from the World Cup in South Africa concerned the taciturn coach of the winning side, Spain. Vicente del Bosque’s 21-year-old second son Alvaro has Down syndrome. But the coach is immensely proud of him -- even though Alvaro has been highly critical of some of his decisions. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Zapatero made sure that Alvaro was invited to his official reception for the team to hold the World Cup trophy aloft. 

“At first we cried a lot,” del Bosque says about the days after Alvaro’s birth, “but now when I look back I think, we were so foolish.” 

The coach’s reaction is quite typical of the parents of Down syndrome children.  Despite significant health problems, they normally have a placid, loving disposition which often brings much consolation to parents. Some even say that their Down syndrome child is easier to raise than their other children. As a Harvard University expert, Dr Brian Skotko, puts it, “Parents who have children with DS have already found much richness in life with an extra chromosome.” READ MORE

Raphael and Michelangelo meet face to face in the Word's most famous Chapel

The press conference to announce the exhibition "Raphael cartoons and tapestries for the Sistine Chapel" was held in the Sala Regia in the Vatican Apostolic Palace Wednesday 14 July 2010. The exhibition, to be held in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London (8 September - 17 October 2010), in collaboration with the Vatican Museums, coincides with the historic visit by Pope Benedict XVI to England and Scotland. READ MORE

Pope's new book: rich spirituality about the Passion and Resurrection

Bookstores around the world await the arrival of Benedict XVI’s new book. It will be the second volume of 'Jesus of Nazareth', which will address the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. So far, only the translators and the director of the Vatican’s publishing house have been able to read it.

It is hoped that this second volume will exceed  previous sales of 2.5 million copies worldwide. Italy, Germany and the United States topped the list of countries with the most books sold. 

It could therefore be a book to break records and become a Benedict XVI bestseller. Perhaps even more than readership of the catechesis which each year sells about three million copies.

Touring the Vatican Without Taking a Step


Nothing can compare to a visit to Rome to admire the Sistine Chapel in person, or feel the "embrace" of the colonnade surrounding St. Peter's Square.

But a two-year project accomplished by students of the Villanova University of Pennsylvania can bring part of the "Rome experience" into your home.

The Sistine Chapel, St. Paul's Outside the Walls, St. John Lateran and St. Peter's are all available for viewing virtually at the Vatican web site.

St. Peter's is the last to have been posted; the Sistine Chapel went up in March. St. Paul's was the first to be made available, in 2008, and St. John Lateran was completed last November. READ MORE

On the Net:

St. Peter's: www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_pietro/vr_tour/index-en.html

Sistine Chapel: www.vatican.va/various/cappelle/sistina_vr/index.html

St. John Lateran: www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_giovanni/vr_tour/Media/VR/Lateran_Nave1/index.html

St. Paul's Outside the Walls: www.vatican.va/various/basiliche/san_paolo/vr_tour/index-it.html

Catholic

Daily Reading & Meditation

"The heavenly treasure and the pearl of great price" Matthew 13:44-46

44 "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, 46 who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

Meditation: What do you most treasure and how do you keep it secure?

Discovering God's kingdom is like stumbling across hidden treasure or finding the one pearl of great price. When we discover the kingdom of God we receive the greatest possible treasure — the Lord himself. Selling all that we have to obtain this incomparable treasure could mean many things — our friends, job, our "style of life", what we do with our free time. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. In this parable what does the treasure of the kingdom refer to? It certainly refers to the kingdom of God in all its aspects. But in a special way, the Lord himself is the treasure we seek. If the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty (Job 22:22-23). Is the Lord the treasure and delight of your heart?

"Lord Jesus, reveal to me the true riches of your kingdom. Help me to set my heart on you alone as the treasure beyond compare with any other. Free my heart of any inordinate desires or attachment to other things that I may freely give to you all that I have in joy and gratitude for all that you have given to me. May I always find joy and delight in your presence."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

10 Tips for Better Mealtimes

The growing body of statistics confirming the benefits of regular family mealtime is compelling. Try these tips to make your family's mealtimes more positive.

1.      Commit to a set time for meals (daily, weekly, or according to your schedule).

2.      Turn off the TV, computers, handheld games, and don’t answer the phone. Don’t flip through your mail.

3.      Use prayer to mark the transition from busyness to mealtime. Be mindful of those who do not have enough to eat today.

4.      Slow down enough to taste and enjoy your food.

5.      Hold one conversation at a time. Everyone gets a chance to speak. You can disagree, but you can’t be unkind about it.

6.      Encourage laughter.

7.      Practice manners, such as saying please and thank you and asking politely for people to pass the salt, and so on. Everyone stays at the table until they’re excused to leave.

8.      Give everyone a role in preparing or cleaning up. Even small children can help set the table or put napkins in place.

9.      Regularly invite guests to your table. Welcome them as you would welcome Jesus. Treat your family members the same way.

10.  Always end with a quick expression of gratitude of God and thanks to the cook!

Jesuit Commons - New Website


Jesuit Commons is a new website which enables members of the global Jesuit network to share information and stories about their work, launch collaborative efforts, and support projects in poor communities. 

It is part of a new initiative that was launched, at the International Conference on Jesuit Higher Education in Mexico in April, to bring together Jesuit schools, parishes and social ministries to create a global community to benefit the poor. 

http://www.jesuitcommons.org/

Vatican Library will reopen September 20



The Vatican Library will open its doors again on September 20 after three years of intense remodeling.  The scaffolding and workers will leave their posts to books and scholars, who will find a more modern library with a better security system.

The main objective of the remodeling was to improve security in the library to prevent theft or loss.  Books will be registered in an electronic system and will contain an identification chip from now on.

Somebody Stop This Merry-Go -Round

" Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on God's saving justice, and all these other things will be given you as well". Matthew 6:33

There are days when I feel as though I am on a merry-go-round, and it is spinning about 100mph. In addition, to having the children to nurture, helping with homework, doing a few loads of laundry, doing some light housework and so on. There is also my work responsibilities, and if I'm really ambitious, I'll do some exercise before I take my bath. By bedtime I'm spent. Yet that's the time I've reserved for God. 

Many times I find myself falling asleep before I've said the first decade of the rosary. A few days ago, the Lord began dealing with me on this issue. That's when it dawned on me - I should be giving God the best minutes of my day, not the leftovers. So that's my daily goal. And you know what? I've discovered that God actually multiplies my time. When I put Him first, He gets involved in the rest of my day. So give God your best minutes today, and He will bless the rest of your day. That's just the kind of God He is!

"Lord I give you my best minutes today. Amen"

Monday, July 26, 2010

Archbishop Fulton Sheen returns to silver screen

A documentary on the life of Archbishop Fulton Sheen is being shown in pre-release screenings across the country, as part of an effort to raise awareness of the late archbishop, whose cause for sainthood is currently underway. READ MORE

Major record deal for reclusive Benedictine nuns

An order of Benedictine nuns has signed a major record deal with the company behind Lady Gaga, it has been revealed.

The Nuns of the Abbaye de Notre-Dame de l'Annonciation, from France, won a global search of more than 70 convents across Europe, the US and Africa.

The reclusive order, based near Avignon, were deemed to have the finest Gregorian Chant singers.

They have signed a deal with Decca Records, part of Universal Music, which counts Lady Gaga and U2 among its acts. READ  MORE

STS. JOACHIM AND ANNE, GRANDPARENTS OF JESUS

Though they do not appear in the Bible, a tradition going back to the second century recognizes today’s saints as the parents of Mary and thus the grandparents of Jesus. Let us pray for all grandparents today. They are important in passing on the truths of the faith and in educating new generations of Christians. As we pray that Christians may strive to promote education, justice, solidarity, and peace, let us reflect on part of a speech that Pope Benedict gave in 2005 to a diocesan conference in Rome.

We know well that for an authentic educational endeavor, communicating a correct theory or doctrine does not suffice. Something far greater and more human is needed: the daily experienced closeness that is proper to love, whose most propitious place is above all the family community, but also in a parish, movement or ecclesial association, in which there are people who care for their brothers and sisters because they love them in Christ, particularly children and young people, but also adults, the elderly, the sick and families themselves. The great Patron of educators, St John Bosco, reminded his spiritual sons that "education is something of the heart and that God alone is its master."

The central figure in the work of educating, and especially in education in the faith, which is the summit of the person's formation and is his or her most appropriate horizon, is specifically the form of witness. This witness becomes a proper reference point to the extent that the person can account for the hope that nourishes his life (cf. I Pt 3: 15) and is personally involved in the truth that he proposes.

On the other hand, the witness never refers to himself but to something, or rather, to Someone greater than he, whom he has encountered and whose dependable goodness he has sampled. Thus, every educator and witness finds an unequalled model in Jesus Christ, the Father's great witness, who said nothing about himself but spoke as the Father had taught him (cf. Jn 8: 28).

This is the reason why prayer, which is personal friendship with Christ and contemplation in him of the face of the Father, is indispensably at the root of the formation of the Christian and of the transmission of the faith. The same is, of course, also true for all our missionary commitment, and particularly for the pastoral care of families: therefore, may the Family of Nazareth be for our families and our communities the object of constant and confident prayer as well as their life model. 


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Through the ‘Our Father,’ we are never alone, teaches Pope Benedict

The “Our Father” helps us to confront the difficulties in our lives, said the Holy Father on Sunday. In reciting the prayer, we never find ourselves alone as our voices are "intertwined with that of the Church."

This Sunday’s Angelus took place amidst the festive atmosphere of Castel Gandolfo’s "Sagra delle pesche," an annual festival celebrating the local peach production. For the occasion, the Holy Father was presented with a basket of local white peaches which were blessed at a nearby parish, shortly before the Angelus. 

During his catechesis, the Pope reflected on Sunday’s Gospel from Luke in which Jesus is asked by the disciples to teach them how to pray. To this, Benedict XVI said, "Jesus does not make objections, He does not speak of strange or esoteric formulas, but with great simplicity He says: 'When you are praying, say, “Father...,' and he taught the Our Father, taking it from his own prayer, with which he addressed God, his Father."

We learn these words from St. Matthew's Gospel from the time we are young, he pointed out. "They imprint themselves in our memory, mold our lives, they accompany us up to our last breath. They reveal that we are not already completely children of God, but we must become them and be them ... through our ever deeper communion with Jesus. 

"Being children becomes the equivalent of following Christ," he said, quoting a passage from the first "Jesus of Nazareth" book.
The Our Father prayer "takes and also expresses” our human and spiritual needs, he explained, alluding to the phrase "Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins." 

The Pontiff noted that this “is not an 'asking' to satisfy one's own wishes, as much rather as gaining from it friendship with God, who - as the Gospel says - "will give the Holy Spirit to those that ask it of him. 

People throughout history have become "friends of God" through prayer, he added, saying that among them was St. Teresa of Avila. And it was she, he pointed out, "who invited her sisters to 'beseech God to deliver us from these perils forever and to keep us from all evil! And although our desire for this may not be perfect, let us strive to make the petition. What does it cost us to ask it, since we ask it of One Who is so powerful?'

"Whenever we recite the Our Father, our voice is intertwined with that of the Church, so that he who prays is never alone.“

Concluding the thought with a quotation from a 1989 document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on Christian meditation, Pope Benedict said, "From the rich variety of Christian prayer as proposed by the Church, each member of the faithful should seek and find his own way, his own form of prayer.... therefore, let himself be led ... by the Holy Spirit, who guides him, through Christ, to the Father."

He ended his catechesis in prayer for the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, the location of the tomb of St. James, whose feast is celebrated on Sunday. He also asked that the Virgin Mary "help us to rediscover the beauty and the depth of Christian prayer."

Benedict XVI remembers victims of German festival tragedy

Pope Benedict XVI  is assisted by his personal secretary Georg Gaenswein as he leads his Angelus prayer from the balcony of his summer residence in Castelgandolfo, south of Rome July 25, 2010.
 
.- After Sunday’s Angelus, Pope Benedict remembered the victims of a tragic incident during a celebration in Germany this weekend. 

Nineteen people died as a result of a “stampede” at a musical festival called the “Love Parade” in Duisburg, Germany on Saturday night. According to Reuters, after closing the only entrance to the festival, a tunnel, in an attempt to better organize the massive crowd, “mass panic” broke out. 

Pope Benedict expressed his "sorrow" for the "tragedy," entrusting the deceased, injured and their relatives to the Lord. For all of them, he asked the "comfort and the closeness of the Holy Spirit."

The techno dance festival drew an estimated 1.4 million young people from all over Europe. It was originally an event to promote peace, with the first parade taking place in the German capital city just months before the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Reuters reported that police have opened an investigation to determine the cause of the panic that led to the fatal stampede which also injured more than 300 people.

Novena to St Ann - Day Nine

July 26 was formerly only the feast of St. Anne. Now the feast includes both parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joachim and St. Anne.

DAILY PRAYER TO SAINT ANN

O glorious St. Ann, you are filled with compassion for those who invoke you and with love for those who suffer! Heavily burdened with the weight of my troubles, I cast myself at your feet and humbly beg of you to take the present intention which I recommend to you in your special care.

Please recommend it to your daughter, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and place it before the throne of Jesus, so that He may bring it to a happy issue. Continue to intercede for me until my request is granted. But, above all, obtain for me the grace one day to see my God face to face, and with you and Mary and all the saints to praise and bless Him for all eternity. Amen.

Our Father, . . . Hail Mary . . .

O Jesus, Holy Mary, St. Ann, help me now and at the hour of my death.

Good St. Ann, intercede for me.
NINTH DAY
 
Good St. Ann, I have reached the end of this novena in your honor. I have asked and ask again. Good mother, let not your kind ear grow weary of my prayers, though I repeat them so often.

Bounteous Lady, implore for me from divine Providence all the help I need through life. May your generous hand bestow on me the material means to satisfy my own needs and to alleviate the plight of the poor.

Good St. Ann, fortify me by the sacraments of the Church at the hour of my death. Admit me into the company of the blessed in the kingdom of heaven, where I may praise and thank the adorable Trinity, your grandson Christ Jesus, your glorious daughter Mary, and yourself, dear St. Ann, through endless ages.