Monday, January 31, 2011

Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

What is it about grilling a sandwich that makes it something so indulgent?  Think about how "blah" a 'cheese' sandwich would be without the 'grilled.'  Grilling a peanut butter and jelly sandwich turns it into the most delicious treat.

Grilled PB&J

2 slices of bread (I used a honey wheat)
2-3 tablespoons of peanut butter
1 tablespoon of grape jelly
1 tablespoon of butter, softened

Assemble peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  Butter the outside of the sandwich.  "Grill" the sandwich in a skillet on each side for 2 minutes on medium-high until it has browned.


Benedict XVI: Beatitudes a life program

The Beatitudes offer a “new programme of life“, Benedict XVI said during his Angelus address yesterday (full text, video)

Valentine's Day Books for Ages 2-8

Here are some suggestions for the age 2-7 set which entertainly illuminate the whole idea of Valentine's Day.

Cynthia Rylant teams up with illustrator Fumi Kosaka to show us a little boy happily designing Valentines for family and playmates, pets, and even birds and trees, all in cheerful rhyme and nicely textured illustrations, in If You'll Be My Valentine.

For the tot fan of Little Bear on television, Else Holmelund Minarik'sLittle Bear's Valentine keeps a mystery going as Little Bear tries to identify his secret admirer while delivering and receiving Valentines from the usual suspects. Again the story demonstrates the concept of reciprocity and mutual affection for friends and family. Illustrator Heather Green manages to reproduce most of the charm of the original Sendak illustrations of this series.

For the school-aged reader, my vote goes to the latest in the series about Dolores and her cat Duncan, Happy Valentine's Day, Dolores, by Barbara Samuels. Dolores' habit of "borrowing things" from her sister Faye's room gets her in a pickle when she can't resist the frog necklace inside a tiny Valentine box in Faye's bureau. When Dolores just has to try it on, she discovers that she can't release the catch and has to wear the necklace to school, only to have it confiscated in music class. 

St. John Bosco

John Bosco was born in Turin, Italy, in 1815. His father died when John was only two years old and it was his mother Margaret who provided him with a good humanistic and Christian education. His early years were financially difficult but at the age of twenty he entered the major seminary, thanks to the financial help received from Louis Guala, founder and rector of the ecclesiastical residence St. Francis of Assisi in Turin. John Bosco was ordained a priest on June 5, 1846, and with the help of John Borel he founded the oratory of St. Francis de Sales.
At this time the city of Turin was on the threshold of the industrial revolution and as a result there were many challenges and problems, especially for young men. Gifted as he was as an educator and a leader, Don Bosco formulated a system of education based on "reason, religion and kindness." In spite of the criticism and violent attacks of the anti-clericals, he conducted workshops for the tradesmen and manual laborers, schools of arts and sciences for young workers, and schools of the liberal arts for those preparing for the priesthood. In 1868 there were 800 students involved in this educational system. To ensure the continuation of his work, Don Bosco founded the Society of St. Francis de Sales (Salesians), which was approved in 1869. Also, with the help of Sister Mary Dominic Mazzarello, he founded the Institute of the Daughters of Mary Auxiliatrix.
In 1875 a wave of emigration to Latin America began, and this prompted the inauguration of the Salesian missionary apostolate. Don Bosco became a traveller throughout Europe, seeking funds for the missions. Some of the reports referred to him as "the new St. Vincent de Paul." He also found time to write popular catechetical pamphlets, which were distributed throughout Italy, as was his Salesian Bulletin. This great apostle of youth died on January 31, 1888, and was canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1934. Pope John Paul II named him "teacher and father to the young."
Excerpted from Saints of the Roman Calendar by Enzo Lodi
Patron: Apprentices; boys; editors; Mexican young people; laborers; schoolchildren; students; young people.
Prayer: God of mercy, You called Saint John Bosco to be a father and teacher of the young. Grant that inspired by his ardent charity we may serve You alone and never tire of bringing others to Your Kingdom. Amen.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Sunday Angelus in Pictures: Pope BXVI, Doves and Children

This combo image shows Pope Benedict XVI and children release a dove which flies back to the Pontif's apartment during the Sunday Angelus prayer on January 30, 2011 at The Vatican. The children are members of the youth Catholic Action.

A child releases a dove during the Sunday Angelus prayer of Pope Benedict XVI on January 30, 2011 at The Vatican.

Pope Benedict XVI releases a dove from a window of his private apartments as he leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 30, 2011.

Pope Benedict XVI kisses one of the two young members of "Azione Cattolica" (Catholic Action movement) as he leads the Angelus prayer in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican January 30, 2011.

Pope: Neighbor Can Also be Met Online

While involved in the digital world, we must never forget the question: "Who is my neighbor?", and to really establish our presence in an evangelical sense. The Pope said this in a message entitled "Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age". The Message, for the World Day of Social Communications, was presented today at the Vatican. New technologies, writes Benedict XVI, allow people to meet beyond the boundaries of space and one culture, thus ushering in a whole new world of potential friends. This is a great opportunity, he said, but also one that demands greater attention and awareness of the possible risks. READ MORE

“Sueños de Haití” brings hope in quake afterma

One year after the anniversary of the earthquake that devastated the Caribbean nation of Haiti, the situation there has not improved that much. The Spanish documentary “Sueños de Haití” or “Dreams of Haiti,” takes us back to the first weeks after the natural disaster that left the country in ruins.

Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

What is the significance of Jesus' beatitudes, and why are they so central to his teaching? 

The beatitudes which Jesus offers us are a sign of contradiction to the world's understanding of happiness and joy. How can one possibly find happiness in poverty, hunger, mourning, and persecution? Poverty of spirit finds ample room and joy in possessing God as the greatest treasure possible. Hunger of the spirit seeks nourishment and strength in God's word and Spirit. Sorrow and mourning over wasted life and sin leads to joyful freedom from the burden of guilt and spiritual oppression. God reveals to the humble of heart the true source of abundant life and happiness. Jesus promises his disciples that the joys of heaven will more than compensate for the troubles and hardships they can expect in this world. Thomas Aquinas said: "No one can live without joy. That is why a person deprived of spiritual joy goes after carnal pleasures." Do you know the happiness of hungering and thirsting for God alone?

"Lord Jesus, increase my hunger for you and show me the way that leads to everlasting peace and happiness. May I desire you above all else and find perfect joy in doing your will."

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Dinner Tonight - Meatballs & Spaghetti - A Favourite

Spaghetti & Meatballs are a staple around our house - usually on Saturday evening. I make a double batch of meatballs and we have them for lunch throughout the week. This recipe takes 20 minutes, but can me made far in advance, so is great for a casual dinner party, or cozy family dinner.

Homemade Meatballs

1 pound of ground beef
4 slices of bread
2 tablespoons of milk
1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese
1 egg
salt & pepper
fresh parsley, chopped

Start by removing the crusts of the bread and tearing the remaining into small pieces, then place into a medium mixing bowl.

Pour milk onto breadcrumbs and stir. Add cheese, parsley, salt & pepper, and egg. Mix together.

Add ground beef to mixture and combine with a fork - be careful not to compact the mixture - try to keep it light. Form into balls with an ice cream scoop or with your hands and place on a baking sheet. I line mine with parchment paper to reduce clean up. Cook meatballs under a broiler on high for 4-6 minutes until just browned on outside. I like the middle of the meatball to remain moist.

Simple Tomato Sauce

2 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can of crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons of sea salt
2 teaspoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of dried italian seasoning
1 pound of pasta

Cook pasta in salted water as directed.

In a sauce pan, saute garlic in the olive oil for just 1 minute. Add in the can of crushed tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, and add salt, sugar & seasoning. Add in 1/2 cup (more or less depending on preference) of the pasta water into the sauce. Reduce and cook for 5 minutes.

Transfer the spaghetti directly from the boiling water to the sauce and toss. Add in meatballs and coat.

XT3, the social network that unites the Catholic world

One of the most successful Catholic sites on the Internet is this social network, designed by a team from World Youth Day Sydney 2008 and the Australian Cardinal George Pell. It's more than three years old, but it hasn't lost it's young and and bold style that initially attracted so many Catholics. It's called XT3, referring to “Christ in the Third Millennium,” it offers ways for young people to connect around the world, that includes Catholics and non Catholics.

The site has around 50,000 regular users who can access a virtual library of videos and podcasts. As well as organizing initiatives and receiving news about youth and religion.

XT3 also updates its users on the Pope and the preparations for the World Youth Day in their feature “iActiv8, The Road to Madrid.” From there you can follow the latest developments, find deals for group travel, or just watch the countdown to the event.

Their online platform making the most buzz is called “Ask a priest.” Where Father John Flynn responds to questions or concerns about life or religion, such as whether or not it's possible for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic or questions about the importance of attending Mass.

The site has also become popular among individual dioceses by allowing each one to control their own page with updated content by XT3.

Egypt - 2011!


Note the comment at 0:45 - "We will not be silenced.  Whether you're a Christian, whether you're a Muslim, whether you're an atheist, you will demand your goddamn rights, and we will have our rights, one way or the other.  We will never be silenced!

And this tweet:

The beauty of an angel

Melozzo da Forlì, "Angel playing the Viol", 1472-74, detached fresco, from the Vatican Museums

An exhibition in the central Italian town of Forlì until 12 June 2011 is about Melozzo da Forlì, the greatest exponent of “the Roman and Catholic way to the glory of visible beauty”

Melozzo’s angels are a byword for human beauty, bearing comparison in this respect with Raphael’s Madonnas. Italians tend to say: “beautiful as a Raphael Madonna”, “beautiful as an angel by Melozzo”.

Without Melozzo, the work of Raphael and Michelangelo would have never existed.” This statement by Antonio Paolucci, director of the Vatican Museums, sums up the impact this renaissance painter had on some of the greatest Italian painters. Melozzo da Forli has not gone down in history with the same amount of fame as other painters but his influence on art has been well recognized. Now, some of the artist's best known works in the Vatican Museums are leaving for his hometown.

The four paintings that are leaving are his famous angels, work that reveals Melozzo's precision in representing human beauty. Starting January 29, they will be on display in the Italian town of Forlì, for the exhibition “Melozzo from Forlì: the human beauty of Piero della Francesca and Raphael.” 

Friday, January 28, 2011

Who was St. Thomas Aquinas? Benedict XVI explains

January 28 is the day the Catholic Church honors St. Thomas Aquinas. The Italian saint was a domenican priest and is widely recognized as being one of the most influential figures in the study of theology.

He is also known for his ideas on ethics, political theory, and human rights.

St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas ranks among the greatest writers and theologians of all time. His most important work, theSumma Theologiae, an explanation and summary of the entire body of Catholic teaching, has been standard for centuries, even to our own day. At the Council of Trent it was consulted after the Bible.
To a deeply speculative mind, he joined a remarkable life of prayer, a precious memento of which has been left to us in the Office of Corpus Christi. Reputed as great already in life, he nevertheless remained modest, a perfect model of childlike simplicity and goodness. He was mild in word and kind in deed. He believed everyone was as innocent as he himself was. When someone sinned through weakness, Thomas bemoaned the sin as if it were his own. The goodness of his heart shone in his face, no one could look upon him and remain disconsolate. How he suffered with the poor and the needy was most inspiring. Whatever clothing or other items he could give away, he gladly did. He kept nothing superfluous in his efforts to alleviate the needs of others.
After he died his lifelong companion and confessor testified, "I have always known him to be as innocent as a five-year-old child. Never did a carnal temptation soil his soul, never did he consent to a mortal sin." He cherished a most tender devotion to St. Agnes, constantly carrying relics of this virgin martyr on his person. He died in 1274, at the age of fifty, in the abbey of Fossa Nuova. He is the patron saint of schools and of sacred theology.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Academics; against storms; against lightning; apologists; book sellers; Catholic academies; Catholic schools; Catholic universities; chastity; colleges; learning; lightning; pencil makers; philosophers; publishers; scholars; schools; storms; students; theologians; universities; University of Vigo.
Symbols: Chalice; monstrance; ox; star; sun; teacher with pagan philosophers at his feet; teaching.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Twitter: 1921

August 3, 1921. Washington, D.C. "Mrs. Jno. W. Clarke." Shown tweeting. 

Benedict XVI: 'Joan of Arc is an example to all politicians'

 During yesterday morning's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 3,000 people, Holy Father dedicated his catechesis to St. Joan of Arc (1412-1431), whom he described as "one of the 'strong women' who, at the end of the Middle Ages, fearlessly brought the splendid light of the Gospel into the complex events of history". READ MORE

Pope calls Christian unity a 'moral imperative'

For Benedict XVI, Christian unity is a moral imperative. He says in order to obtain it, we must overcome any pessimism or resignation about the process. This came during the closing ceremony of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity at Rome's Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls. The Pope emphasized his closeness to the Christian communities of Jerusalem and used them as an example of unity. 

Optional Memorial of St. Angela Merici

The saint was born in 1474 in the diocese of Verona. Early in life she dedicated herself to Christ as His bride. After the death of her parents, she desired to live solely for God in quiet and solitude, but her uncle insisted that she manage his household. She renounced her patrimony in order to observe most perfectly the rule for Franciscan Tertiaries.

During a pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1524, she lost her eyesight temporarily. Pope Clement VII, whom she visited in Rome, desired her to remain in the Holy City. Later she founded a society for girls, under the protection of St. Ursula; this was the beginning of the Ursuline Order. St. Angela was almost seventy when she died; her body remained incorrupt for thirty days. Remarkable phenomena occurred at her burial in the Church of St. Afra.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Bodily ills; disabled people; handicapped people; illness; loss of parents; physically challenged people; sick people; sickness.
Symbols: Cloak; ladder.
Things to Do:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Catholic High Mas (Band)

Recently, we heard an announcement that the Catholic Church plans to have a band for the upcoming Carnival celebrations. 

According to reports the main organisers claim that they are trying to inject a spiritual element in the Mas which they see as having descended into a public display of tasteless, sexual decadence and drunkenness. 

The idea is good, well-intentioned and frankly what I have seen over the last number of years as “costumes” disgust me to no end. Barring the usual Minshall and MacFarlane and one or two others, by an large the so-called bandleaders have no craft, no originality (unless you actually believe that ancient Romans did look like Las Vegas showgirls), and certainly little knowledge and even less respect for the history and uniqueness of Trinidad’s Mas which was first and foremost street theatre (and political street theatre at that). 

Furthermore, we have moved – or rather they have taken us – from the ingenuity and creativity of people like the late Cito Velasquez to outsourcing parts of the “costumes” in China. George Bailey must be giddy in his grave by now. 

So anyone or group that tries to bring something that is NOT that, have my support. I welcome the opportunity to see what the our local Catholic Church, under an American Archbishop would do in its portrayal of the Church in a Carnival Band. 

Go for it, people. Tell your own story


Timothy was Paul's dearest disciple, his most steadfast associate. He was converted during the apostle's first missionary journey. When Paul revisited Lystra, Timothy, though still very young (about twenty) joined him as a co-worker and companion. Thereafter, there existed between them a most intimate bond, as between father and son. St. Paul calls him his beloved child, devoted to him "like a son to his father" (Phil. 2:22). Of a kindly disposition, unselfish, prudent, zealous, he was a great consolation to Paul, particularly in the sufferings of his later years. He also assisted the apostle in the establishment of all the major Christian communities and was entrusted with missions of highest importance. Timothy was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. Paul made his self-sacrificing companion bishop of Ephesus, but the finest monument left him by his master are the two canonical Epistles bearing his name.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Intestinal disorders; stomach diseases.
Symbols: Club and stones; broken image of Diana.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Digital rosary marks sign of the times

In this ever-changing technological world, it's no wonder digital rosaries are on the rise. This little egg is small enough to fit in your pocket, take to a novena or assist in personal prayer. This Italian electronics technician invented this device so Catholics can listen to the rosary being recited without using traditional beads. 

Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age" - Pope BXVI

Benedict XVI has asked Catholics to make their presence felt in social networks. It is part of his message for the World Day of Social Communication, in which he said there is a “Christian style” to using the internet. 

New technologies and social networking have revolutionized the way we communicate and relate with one another. The Pope called for using the great potential of the internet to “satisfy the desire that all people have to communicate and to share their vision of the world, as well as their hopes and ideals.” READ FULL MESSAGE FOR 2011 WORLD MEDIA DAY

Fr. Barron comments on Abortion

Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle

St. Paul was born at Tarsus, of Jewish parents who were descended from the tribe of Benjamin. He was a Roman citizen from birth. As he was "a young man" at the stoning of Stephen and "an old man" when writing to Philemon, about the year 63, he was probably born around the beginning of the Christian era.
To complete his schooling, St. Paul was sent to Jerusalem, where he sat at the feet of the learned Gamaliel and was educated in the strict observance of the ancestral Law. Here he also acquired a good knowledge of exegesis and was trained in the practice of disputation. As a convinced and zealous Pharisee, he returned to Tarsus before the public life of Christ opened in Palestine.
Some time after the death of Our Lord, St. Paul returned to Palestine. His profound conviction made his zeal develop to a religious fanaticism against the infant Church. He took part in the stoning of the first martyr, St. Stephen, and in the fierce persecution of the Christians that followed.
Entrusted with a formal mission from the high priest, he departed for Damascus to arrest the Christians there and bring them bound to Jerusalem. As he was nearing Damascus, about noon, a light from heaven suddenly blazed round him. Jesus with His glorified body appeared to him and addressed him, turning him away from his apparently successful career.
An immediate transformation was wrought in the soul of St. Paul. He was suddenly converted to the Christian Faith. He was baptized, changed his name from Saul to Paul, and began travelling and preaching the Faith. He was martyred as an Apostle in Rome around 65 AD.
Excerpted from Lives of the Saints
Collect at the General Intercessions

Almighty and ever-living God,

who, by a wonderful inbreaking of your grace,

opened the heart of the blessed Apostle Paul

to the knowledge of your will,

to the bright vision of the Just One,

and to the sound of his voice (cf. Ac 22: 14);

mercifully grant that we, 

having received in Baptism the sight that comes from faith,

may walk as children of the light and of the day (1 Th 5:5),

eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:3).

Through Christ our Lord.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Countdown to 7 Billion

Later on this year the world's population will reach the seven billion mark. As Brendan O'Neill recently commented in an article published by the online site Spiked, this will inevitably lead to an outpouring of Malthusian gloom and doom predictions.

National Geographic magazine is focusing this year on the population issue, and in a feature essay in the January edition, it does indeed quote a number of pessimists. Among those cited is Jared Diamond, whose book "Collapse" argues that the massacres of hundreds of thousands of Rwandans in 1994 were in part caused by overpopulation.

The article, however, does provide a counterbalance from some authoritative sources. "The population as a whole is on a path toward non-explosion," said Hania Zlotnik, director of the United Nation's Population Division. This is the body that publishes statistical information, not the family planning agency.

Zlotnik also told the magazine that the speed with which fertility has declined in so many countries and cultures is "mind-boggling," and that they still don't understand how it came about.

A striking example of just how much fertility has plummeted came in a report published last June 25 by the Pew Research Center.

Nearly one-in-five American women ends her childbearing years without having borne a child, compared with one-in-ten in the 1970s, it said. According to the report, white women are most likely not to have borne a child. Nevertheless, in the last decade, childless rates have risen more rapidly for black, Hispanic and Asian women, so the racial difference is less now.

Figures vary quite a bit in other countries. The report said that for women born in 1960, 22% were childless in the United Kingdom, 19% in Finland and the Netherlands, and 17% in Italy and Ireland. Rates ranged from 12% to 14% for Spain, Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Sweden.


National Geographic also interviewed Joel E. Cohen, author of the 1995 book "How Many People Can the Earth Support?"

In relation to the impact of higher population and global warming, he said: "Those who say the whole problem is population are wrong." According to Cohen it is not even the dominant factor.

The father figure of modern Malthusianism is more pessimistic. On Jan. 14, the Guardian newspaper reported that Paul Erlich, author of the 1968 book "The Population Bomb," considers that the earth is well past its carrying capacity.

In spite of the fact his book's predictions of disaster turned out to be thoroughly wrong, Erlich declared he is even more pessimistic now than when he wrote his book.

Conversion to Christ brings the whole Church to unity

For the unity of Christians to be a reality, all Christians must make a serious commitment to conversion to Christ, says Benedict XVI. The Pope reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, under way through Tuesday, in the address he gave before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered yesterday in St. Peter's Square. READ MORE

Meek and Humble of Heart

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity - Living in Resurrection Faith

Today's Biblical Reflection is Living in Resurrection Faith.
The first Christians’ devotion to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking of the bread and the prayers was made possible, above all, by the living power of the Risen Jesus. This power is living still, and today’s Jerusalem Christians witness to this. Whatever the difficulties of the present situation in which they find themselves - however much it feels like Gethsemane and Golgotha - they know in faith that all is made new by the truth of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
God, Protector of the widow, the orphan and the stranger - in a world where many know despair, you raised your Son Jesus to give hope for humanity and renewal to the earth. Continue to strengthen and unify your Church in its struggles against the forces of death in the world, where violence against creation and humanity obscures the hope of the new life you offer. This we pray in the name of the Risen Lord, in the power of His Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sunday Snippets - A Catholic Carnival

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

  This week's blogs are on a variety of topics.  Hope you are inspired:

Is seeing believing? How the church faces claims of Marian apparitions

The church has made very few judgments on apparition claims. "It's not always possible to ascertain if they are true or false because the phenomenon is much bigger than us," said Marianist Father Salvatore Perrella, assistant dean at the Pontifical Theological Faculty Marianum and a theologian who also serves as an expert for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

The enormous job of determining the veracity of an apparition falls to the local bishop, said Father Perrella.

To help with that task, the Vatican's doctrinal congregation established a set of norms in 1978 to guide the process of discernment and the investigation of reported apparitions and revelations.

The process "is never brief," said Father Perrella. For example, the Green Bay apparitions received approval 151 years after the first apparition was reported, but that's just half of the nearly 300 years it took the church to approve the apparitions of Our Lady of Laus in France, he said.

The process is lengthy because visionaries and witnesses must be questioned and "the fruits of the apparitions, such as conversions, miracles and healings" must be examined, he said.

The local bishop sets up a commission of experts, including theologians, canonists, psychologists and doctors, to help him.

According to the norms, the bishop and his commission "must determine the veracity of the facts and the mental, moral and spiritual wholesomeness and seriousness of the visionary and his or her testimony," he said.

Father Perrella said that when the bishop's investigation is complete, he can come to one of three conclusions: 

(1) he can determine the apparition to be true and worthy of belief; 

(2) he can say it is not true, which leaves open the possibility for an appeal; or

(3) he can say that at the moment he doesn't know and needs more help.

In the last scenario, the investigation is brought to the country's bishops' conference, Father Perrella said. If the body of bishops cannot come to a conclusion, then the matter is turned over to the pope who delegates the doctrinal congregation to step in and either give advice, send a commissioner and-or set up a commission to investigate.

At every step of the investigation, "the person in charge of everything is the bishop," he said.

The alleged apparitions at Medjugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina are an example of a situation in which the country's bishops requested the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to intervene.

The congregation established an international commission in 2010 to investigate the claims of six young people who said Mary appeared to them daily beginning in 1981.

The apparitions apparently are continuing and thousands of people travel to the small town each month to meet the alleged seers and to pray.

Father Perrella, who is a member of the Vatican commission to study the alleged Medjugorje apparitions, told CNS the work is only just beginning.

"The pope wants a decisive conclusion made," he said, adding that it will be a very long process.

The case under study "is a serious thing" that is "very complex" though not impossible to resolve, he said.

For the past 30 years, people have claimed to see apparitions of Mary at Medjugorje.

Such an extended duration of alleged apparitions in one place is no longer "something that generates suspicion," he said. That's because there are similar precedents such as the apparitions of Our Lady of Laus, which lasted 54 years and received formal church recognition in 2008.

The church approaches each claim "with the maximum prudence, investigative rigor and an invitation to live out the Gospel rather than follow the apparitions," he said.

In fact, the church never requires the faithful to believe in the Marian apparitions, not even those recognized by the church, he said.

But "by believing in the resurrection of Christ, one can believe in the apparition of Mary" in which Mary is actually present in her body and can be seen on earth, he said.

The Catholic Church affirms that Mary was assumed, body and soul, into heaven and that she, like Christ, defeated death and triumphs in heavenly glory with the totality of her being.

For that reason, Father Perrella said, Mary can appear in bodily form while the saints or other deceased can't.

"Mary never comes on her own accord; she is 'God's ambassador'" charged with a specific message for a specific time and place, he said.

He said that while the apparitions and messages are never the same, in general, Mary appeals for people's conversion and seeks to assure men and women that they are not alone in the world and can depend on God's loving mercy.

Her appearance is not meant to result in her glorification, but of God's, he said.


11 Messages from Benedict XVI to young people

1. These years of your life are the years which will prepare you for your future. Your "tomorrow" depends much on how you are living the "today" of your youth. Stretching out in front of you, my dear young friends, is a life that all of us hope will be long; yet it is only one life, it is unique: do not let it pass it vain; do not squander it.  Complete Text

Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth. If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation" Complete text

Go to the encounter with him in the Blessed Eucharist, go to adore him in the churches, kneeling before the Tabernacle: Jesus will fill you with his love and will reveal to you the thoughts of his Heart. If you listen to him, you will feel ever more deeply the joy of belonging to his Mystical Body, the Church, which is the family of his disciples held close by the bond of unity and love. Complete text.

4. You must view Jesus as one of your dearest friends, indeed, the dearest. You must view Jesus as one of your dearest friends, indeed, the dearest. Then you will see how friendship with him will lead you to open yourselves to others, whom you consider as brothers or sisters, maintaining with each one a relationship of sincere friendship.  In fact, Jesus Christ is truly "the incarnate love of God" (Deus Caritas Est, n. 12) Complete text. 

"Because there is one bread, we, though many, are one body", says St Paul (I Cor 10: 17). By this he meant:  since we receive the same Lord and he gathers us together and draws us into himself, we ourselves are one. This must be evident in our lives. It must be seen in our capacity to forgive. Complete text.