Friday, December 31, 2010

Take this test and see how old your brain is

Its fun.

On my first try my brain age was 54:)

See how you do. 

Optional Memorial of St. Sylvester I, pope

Today is the seventh day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. Sylvester I, pope and confessor. He ruled the Church during the reign of Constantine when the Arian heresy and the Donatist schism had provoked great discord. He convoked the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea.
Numerous legends dramatize his life and work, e.g., how he freed Constantine from leprosy by baptism; how he killed a ferocious dragon that was contaminating the air with his poisonous breath. Such legends were meant to portray the effects of baptism and Christianity's triumph over idolatry. For a long time the feast of St. Sylvester was a holyday of obligation. The Divine Office notes: He called the weekdays feria, because for the Christian every day is a "free day" (the term is still in use; thus Monday is feria secunda.).

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Children travel with choirs to sing for Pope at Vatican

Benedict XVI greeted crowds of cheering children who traveled to Rome in order to sing with their choir Pueri Cantores. The international collection of young singers gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican in order to celebrate their 36th international congress. 

Pope Benedict XVI gestures as he blesses members of the Pueri Cantores (The boys' choir Association) at the end of an audience in the Sala Nervi at the Vatican on December 30, 2010.

The Sixth Day of Christmas

It would be ideal if we could devote several days of the Christmas octave to quiet contemplation, entering ever more deeply into the sweet and profound mystery of the Incarnation; yet much of the time is devoted to the saints. All the more precious, therefore, is this day, an unencumbered Christmas day.

God became Man. Utterly incomprehensible is this truth to our puny human minds! That the eternal God whom heaven and earth cannot contain, who bears the world in His hand as a nutshell, before whom a thousand years are as one day — that this eternal, omnipotent God should become Man! Would it not have been a tremendous condescension if for the redemption of mankind He had simply sent an angel? Would it not have proven His loving mercy had He appeared for a mere moment in the splendor of His majesty, amid thunder and lightning, as once on Sinai? No, such would have shown far too little of His love and kindness. He wanted to be like us, to become a child of man, a poor child of poorest people; He wished to be born, in a cave, in a strange land, in hostile surroundings. Cold wind, hard straw, dumb animals — these were there to greet Him. The scene fills us with amazement; what other can we do than fall down in silence and adore!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pope's Agenda for 2011: Four international trips and two books

Benedict XVI will turn 84 years old in April and it will mark is sixth year as Pope. However, this is not stopping him from planning a year with thousands of travel miles and preparing to publish more of his writings. According to his official agenda, he will make eight trips during 2011 and publish two volumes of his book “Jesus of Nazareth.”

His writings on meditations and reflections on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus will be hitting the bookshelves on March 13. And in November the third and last part will be released, focusing on the childhood of Jesus. 

The Pope will be packing his suitcase at least eight times: he has four trips on the Italian peninsula and four abroad

Retooning The Nativity

 Though we are unsure of many elements surrounding Jesus' birth, we do know this: Two thousand years ago, a Savior was born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem. 

Video via Igniter

Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas; Optional Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr

Today’s saint was a deacon and the chancellor of England. He was also a good friend of King Henry II who thought he would be able to use this friendship to his advantage. He nominated Thomas to be the Archbishop of Canterbury, but he soon found out that his friend was a man of integrity who served God first. At one point, in a fit of rage over the Archbishop’s opposition to his plans, he shouted "Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?" Four of his knights took these words literally and killed the Archbishop in his own cathedral.
We’re praying that our experience of suffering may help us better understand the pain of others and reach out to help them, and also that the world may open its doors to Christ and to His gospel of peace, brotherhood, and justice. On Saturday we will celebrate the annual World Day of Peace for which Pope Benedict has written a message entitled "Religious Freedom, the Path to Peace." Let us pray for all who are suffering from religious intolerance and persecution as we reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s message.

My thoughts turn in a special way to the beloved country of Iraq, which continues to be a theatre of violence and strife as it makes its way towards a future of stability and reconciliation. I think of the recent sufferings of the Christian community, and in particular the reprehensible attack on the Syro-Catholic Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Baghdad, where on 31 October two priests and over fifty faithful were killed as they gathered for the celebration of Holy Mass. In the days that followed, other attacks ensued, even on private homes, spreading fear within the Christian community and a desire on the part of many to emigrate in search of a better life. … I offer heartfelt thanks to those Governments which are working to alleviate the sufferings of these, our brothers and sisters in the human family, and I ask all Catholics for their prayers and support for their brethren in the faith who are victims of violence and intolerance. … It is painful to think that in some areas of the world it is impossible to profess one’s religion freely except at the risk of life and personal liberty. In other areas we see more subtle and sophisticated forms of prejudice and hostility towards believers and religious symbols. At present, Christians are the religious group which suffers most from persecution on account of its faith. Many Christians experience daily affronts and often live in fear because of their pursuit of truth, their faith in Jesus Christ and their heartfelt plea for respect for religious freedom. This situation is unacceptable, since it represents an insult to God and to human dignity; furthermore, it is a threat to security and peace, and an obstacle to the achievement of authentic and integral human development.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Benedict XVI named among USA Today most-admired list

President Obama may have taken a hit in the November midterm elections but he has come out on top on another front, being named for the third year in a row as the most-admired man in a USA Today/Gallup Poll. 

The top spots on the list are dominated by politicians with former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton at numbers two and three. 

Former president of South Africa, Nelson Mandela, and Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates were named at four and five. 

Pope Benedict XVI actually tied for sixth place with Evangelist Billy Graham who has made the top 10 every year the survey has been taken since 1955. 

The only other religious leader is the Dalai Lama, coming in at number 10 on the most admired list, right after Jimmy Carter and Glenn Beck who tied at number eight.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 10 Vatican news stories from 2010

ROME REPORTS has listed the ten most important news stories from the Vatican in 2010, with its short and long term impacts.  In tenth place is the establishment of a Pontifical Council for the New Evangelization. It is the Pope's reply to the decline in numbers of Christians in Europe and North America. He has also called a synod on the theme for the year 2012. (LINK HERE)

At number 9: The Pope formed a Vatican commission to investigate the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Medjugorje. Their work is being developed under the strictest of secrecy and their findings will only be given to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.  (LINK HERE)

Number 8 is the appointment the now Cardinal Velasio De Paolis as the Pope's delegate to bring order to the Congregation of the Legionaries of Christ after the scandals committed by its founder.(LINK HERE)

The seventh story is the exposition of the Holy Shroud of Turin. Two million people visited the most important relic of the Catholic Church during the 44 days it was on display. (LINK HERE) 

At number 6, the consistory to create 24 new cardinals. With them, the number of cardinals rises to 203, of which 121 have voting powers, only they could participate in an eventual conclave. (LINK HERE)

Fifth, the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, during which the religious leaders from the Holy Land met with the Pope to study ways of stopping the exodus of Christians from the land where Jesus was born. (LINK HERE)

The fourth story is the book length interview with the Pope, “Light of the World,” (LIGHT OF WORLD LINK HERE) and the document “Verbum Domini” on the Bible. While the book shows the more personal side of the Pope and his opinion on current issues, in the “Verbum Domini” Benedict XVI writes about the topic he's most passionate about, the Holy Scripture. (VERBUM DOMINI LINK HERE)

Number 3 is the closing of the Year for Priests. Alongside around 15,000 priests, Benedict XVI concelebrated the biggest Mass in the history of St. Peter's Square. There he asked for forgiveness from God and the victims of sexual abuse by priests. He promised that the Church will do everything possible to make sure “this never happens again.” (LINK HERE)

Benedict XVI
We promise we will do everything possible so that these types of abuses never happen again.” 

The second biggest news story of 2010 is the search for solutions to address sexual abuses by priests.

Following the publication of two investigations in Ireland which reported hundreds of cases of child abuse committed by dozens of priests and religious, the Pope ordered these cases be addressed with honesty and courage to bring them to an end and so they could no be repeated.

He also wrote a letter to all Catholics in Ireland in which he personally asked for forgiveness from the victims. He said in these cases it's wrong to use silence when trying to protect the good name of the Church. (LINK HERE)

And the biggest news of the year is the Pope's trip to the UK, which combined his main themes of the year.  (LINK HERE)

2010: A PAPAL YEAR IN REVIEW - January 2010

One of the most painful catastrophes of 2010 struck the Republic of Haiti on the 12th of January, just after 4 pm. It was at this time that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Caribbean nation and eventually killed 200,000 people. 
The epicenter of the quake was just 9.3 miles from Port-au-Prince. 

Benedict XVI immediately expressed his solidarity with the victims and mobilized all the institutions of the Catholic Church to offer them rapid and efficient assistance. 

In Rome, Benedict XVI visited the city's main synagogue, in a gesture of solidarity and peace to the Jewish people. Just 24 years ago, John Paul II was the first pope to enter into a synagogue. 

Feast of St. John, apostle and evangelist - The Third Day of Christmas

Today is the third day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. John, apostle and evangelist. Born in Bethsaida, he was called while mending his nets to follow Jesus. He became the beloved disciple of Jesus. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Apocalypse. His passages on the pre-existence of the Word, who by His Incarnation became the light of the world and the life of our souls, are among the finest of the New Testament. He is the evangelist of the divinity of Christ and His fraternal love. With James, his brother, and Simon Peter, he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration. At the Last Supper, he leans on the Master's breast. At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusts His Mother to his care. John's pure life kept him very close to Jesus and Mary in years to come. John was exiled to the island of Patmos under Emperor Domitian.
Patron: Against poison; art dealers; authors; bookbinders; booksellers; burns; compositors; editors; engravers; friendships; lithographers; painters; papermakers; poisoning; printers; publishers; tanners; theologians; typesetters; writers; Asia Minor; Taos, New Mexico; Umbria, Italy; diocese of Cleveland, Ohio; diocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Symbols: Cup or chalice and serpent (cup or sorrow foretold by Jesus); eagle rising out of a cauldron (refers to being a martyr of spirit, but not in deed); serpent entwined on a sword; grave; Prester John seated on tomb, with book, orb, and sword; eagle on a closed book; scroll of his Gospel; scroll of the Apocalypse; nimbed eagle; book.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lunch inside the Vatican - In pictures

In this photo provided by Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI greets people invited for a lunch inside the Vatican's main audience hall, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. Lasagna, veal and cake were on the menu Sunday as Pope Benedict XVI invited about 250 poor people to join him for a post-Christmas lunch and denounced as "absurd" new attacks on the faithful around the globe. Joining the pope and his guests were some 250 nuns, seminarians and priests of Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity order, which runs soup kitchens around Rome.

Pope Benedict XVI invited about 250 poor people to join him for a post-Christmas lunch.

In this photo provided by Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI salutes a nun during a lunch inside the Vatican's main audience hall, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010.

Pope Benedict XVI has your hand kissed during a lunch inside the Vatican's main audience hall, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010.

In this photo provided by Vatican paper L'Osservatore Romano, Pope Benedict XVI kisses a child during a lunch inside the Vatican's main audience hall, Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010. 

URBI ET ORBI 2010-12-25

'May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Saviour has been born for us,' said the Pope during his Christmas speech, the Urbi et Orbi message. The Pope also denounced the situation of Christians in China and asked God to 'inspire political and religious leaders to be committed to full respect for the religious freedom of all'. 

 "May the birth of the Saviour strengthen the spirit of faith, patience and courage of the faithful of the Church in mainland China, that they may not lose heart through the limitations imposed on their freedom of religion and conscience but, persevering in fidelity to Christ and his Church, may keep alive the flame of hope. May the love of "God-with-us" grant perseverance to all those Christian communities enduring discrimination and persecution, and inspire political and religious leaders to be committed to full respect for the religious freedom of all". READ MORE


On this Feast of the Holy Family, let us lift up the families of the world. 

Let us pray
for peace in our families
help us to live as the Holy Family, 
united in respect and love. 
Bring us to the joy and peace of your eternal home. 
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, 
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, 
one God, for ever and ever.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

May the joy of the newborn Jesus be with everyone this Christmas season.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Christmas Mass - In Pictures

Pope Benedict XVI holds a candle from his private window, during the unveiling ceremony of the crib in St Peter's Square at the Vatican, on December 24, 2010.

Boys bring Pope Benedict XVI a chalice during the offertory as he leads the Christmas mass in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 24, 2010.

Two Vatican aids carry a kneeler as Pope Benedict XVI celebrates Christmas Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Friday, Dec. 24, 2010.

The crib is seen in St. Peter's Basilica during the Christmas Eve Mass held by Pope Benedict XVI on December 24, 2010 in Vatican City, Vatican.

An Announcement of Joy

This is the holy night. 

How much fatigue during the long journey to Bethlehem; how much suffering in the face of each refusal to open a door to them; how much trust in the Father who is leading them by the hand to the fulfillment of his great plan of love! A plan which is carried out by the concourse of unexpected circumstances which prepare for the occurrence of this extraordinary prodigy. 

The merciful action of a shepherd who points out a nearby cave; the opening of one single door upon a poor and bare shelter; the human bustling about to make the place more hospitable; above all their perfect acceptance of the will of the Heavenly Father, who has prepared a crib of poverty and of cold for his only begotten Son who is being born.

But sweet to his Heart, the Heart of a new born Child, is the warmth of Mary's love, and a soft cradle Mary's arms which entwine Him with boundless tenderness, and her motherly kisses become precious pearls and a regal mantle for Him the cloths with which He is enfolded. 

All at once, the darkness is penetrated by a most lively light which comes pouring down from heaven, the silence resounds with the sweetest of sounds and of heavenly harmonies, the solitude becomes populated with inumerable cohorts of angels while the night opens up to the birth of a day which knows no setting. 

This is the Holy Night!

This is the night which has conquered all darkness forever!

This is the night which opens upon an announcement of joy which comes from heaven; a Saviour is born to you who is Christ the Lord!

Our List of Priorities

Thursday, December 23, 2010


O Emmanuel, our King and giver of Law: come to save us, Lord our God!

Today’s “O Antiphon,” our final one, comes from Isaiah 7: 14 and is quoted in Matthew 1: 23 where we read: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel,” which means God is with us.” On this day before Christmas Eve, we conclude our Advent prayers of petition, calling upon Jesus with words we have already used—King and Law-giver. And we make an act of faith that Jesus is who He said He was: God. Jesus is God with us, God who took flesh when He was conceived in the womb of the Virgin Mary and was born. Though He suffered and died, rose and ascended into heaven, He is still God with us through the amazing gift of His Body and Blood, the Holy Eucharist. Love hates separation. People in love don’t want to be separated from one another. God loves this way and so remains with us in the Blessed Sacrament. He doesn’t want to be far from us, but close to us.

This is what Christmas is all about. It’s really a Eucharistic feast. Because Jesus took flesh and was born, He could then give us His Body and Blood at the Last Supper and on the Cross. And he could remain with us in our tabernacles and churches. Truly He is God with us, because God is love, and wants to give Himself to us, wants to be one with us always.
We pray that as our own hearts are opened to the reality of God’s love made visible in Jesus—born over two thousand years ago, present on our altars and in our tabernacles—so may the world come to know the true God who was seen and touched because the Son of God became flesh.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


( The various Christmas celebrations and liturgies presided over by Benedict XVI will be available live to viewers worldwide via the Internet.
People across the globe will be able to view Mass with the Pope on Friday (Christmas Eve), his address and blessing "Urbi et Orbi" ("To the city of Rome and to the World") on Christmas Day, and Mass for the World Day of Peace on Jan. 1.
This new service will be available to users through the Web pages of Vatican Radio, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, and the Pope2you site.
Live commentary on the events is being offered in six languages: English, Italian, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese.
As well, a Chinese commentary will be available for the Christmas Eve Mass, and an Arabic commentary for the Jan. 1 liturgy.
The Vatican Television Centre and Telecom Italia are also collaborating to provide the technology to effectively allow users to access these events.
A press release from Vatican Radio noted that the service will be offered on a platform that "provides fast and effective distribution of multimedia content, making it available via web and iPhone all over the world."
It added, "The use of this platform guarantees top quality distribution of multimedia content to vast numbers of people simultaneously, including service continuity and high quality images."
The service will also use "Smooth Streaming" technology to offer the best possible quality to viewers.

Benedict XVI explains the Nativity

"The Saviour", Pope Benedict went on, "comes to incapacitate the work of evil, the things that still keep us distant from God, restoring us to our ancient splendour and our original paternity. ... His coming, then, can have no other aim than that of teaching us to see and love events, the world and everything that surrounds us, with the eyes of God Himself. The Word, by becoming a Child, helps us to understand the way God acts, that we too may be capable of allowing ourselves to be transformed by His goodness and infinite mercy.

"In the night of the world, let us still allow ourselves to be surprised and illuminated by this coming, by the Star which, rising in the East, has inundated the universe with joy", the Pope added. "Let us purify our minds and our lives from everything that contrasts with this coming - thoughts, words, attitudes and actions - spurring ourselves on to do good and to help bring peace and justice to our world for all men and women, and thus to walk towards the Lord".READ MORE

The Pope's Christmas schedule

On the 24th, the Pope will host a Christmas dinner in the Pontifical apartment. His secretaries, priests Georg Ganswein and Alfred Xuereb, will also be there. It will be a sad Christmas, because one of the pope's  domestic caretakers, who was considered part of the family, recently passed away.


O King of all nations and keystone of the Church: come and save man, whom you formed from the dust!

“Dust.” The word reminds us of Ash Wednesday when one of the verses that accompanies the placing of ashes on our foreheads is: “Remember, you are dust, and to dust you will return!” It’s a sobering thought: we are dust, creatures. We didn’t make ourselves, nor can we keep ourselves from dying. But what we are about to celebrate is the fact that God became human. God, who formed humanity from the dust or elements of the earth, took flesh, was conceived in the womb of a woman, developed as every baby does through the stages of an embryo to a fully developed child, and was born. Why? Why did God share in the dust of humanity? Why did God get His hands dirty? The answer is one word: Love. God is Love and so God wanted to make creatures capable of being loved and loving in return. When those creatures rejected God’s love and sought to do things their own way, God did not reject them but became one of them to save them from themselves. Jesus is the King of all nations because He is the king of Love, the only power that could transform death into life on a cross. The love of Christ will triumph and draw all people, as He predicted in John’s Gospel: “And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself” (12: 32).

Jesus is also the keystone of the Church. He is the stone that keeps the two sides of an arch together. That arch consists of the Jews on one side and all the non-Jews or Gentiles on the other. Jesus is the keystone of this arch that brings all people together. And so we ask him to come in our day and in a way that will finally convince all people of His love so that we may accept it and share one day in the life of His heavenly Kingdom.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Paradox Of Christmas

A long time ago, one silent night loudly proclaimed God's love for us. He gave up what He had so that we might receive what we need.

The CATHOLICISM Project' Highlights

The release of Fr. Robert Barron's CATHOLICISM Project is looming closer and closer. The Word on Fire team has finished filming, and their post-production work should be wrapping up in time for a Fall 2011 release. Watch the video below--it's definitely worth the nine minutes--to experience the longest preview yet released to the public:



In a world marred by sin, where hopes for the future perish under the weight of uncertainty, the Lord must be relied upon, so that the faith of man can be reawakened. The words of the Pope this morning in his traditional Christmas greetings to heads of the Roman Curia. Benedict XVI looked back on the year coming to an end, and began by recalling cases of sexual abuse committed by some priests. It was a "humiliation", he said, that must be humbly accepted "as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal." He added that a "new resolve must be found to be faithful and good," repairing "as much as possible the injustice that has occurred" and showing a "capacity for repentance." READ FULL ADDRESS


Deck the Halls - The Priests Are Back

Parishes in Northern Ireland, performing at charity concerts in Stockholm and a new CD  rising up the charts in Australia.
Would that be the universal Church? Well it is The Priests at the very  least.
And they are the hugely successful singing priests from Ireland, Fr Eugene O'Hagan, his brother Fr Martin and friend from school days, Fr David Delargy.
They have already produced three best selling CDs. The first one, The Priests, included Catholic favourites like Ave Maria and Panis Angelicus. READ MORE

Pope explains role of Saint Joseph in Christmas

Hundreds of people gathered in St. Peter's Square to attend the Pope's Angelus, the last one before Christmas. There they enjoyed the Vatican's Christmas tree completely decorated. Benedict XVI asked priests to bring the “words and gestures of Christ” to people every day. READ MORE


O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice: come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Isaiah prophesied as follows in the first words of Chapter 9: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone.” Then Isaiah continues a few verses later with this further promise: “For every boot that tramped in battle, every cloak rolled in blood, will be burned as fuel for flames.” The “great light” to which Isaiah refers is Christ. He is the Dawn; He is the Light, the Sun, that brings the dawn. We live in a world of darkness, of error and sin, of violence and hatred. God did not create the world this way, but humanity, rejecting God’s ways, has allowed darkness to cover the earth. Only Christ can transform ignorance and error into the light of truth. Only Christ can take away sin and its effects of violence and hatred. He is the Light that our world so desperately needs and so we beg him to come.

Yet we must open ourselves to receive Him. Perhaps the doors of our hearts are blocked so that He cannot enter. Many people in the world have the doors of their hearts blocked to Christ. They think that something else—possessions, pleasure, power, prestige—will bring them happiness. In the end, they do not last; they only lead to darkness, for all must be surrendered. We pray that Christ may shine on humanity so that experiencing the light and warmth of His love, the world may open its doors to allow Him to enter with true happiness and eternal life.