Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Awesome People Hanging

A blog that features photos of Awesome People Hanging Out Together.
Here's Mother Teresa hanging out with Princess Diana.

Twitter introduces a new button

Twitter today announced a new Follow Button that will be integrated into popular websites.
The button lets the user follow her favorite writers, brands and more--without ever leaving the web page she's currently on.
"For publishers and brands, adding the Follow Button to your website and using Twitter to stay connected with your audience is a powerful combination," according to a post on the Twitter Blog. "People who follow your account are much more likely to retweet and engage with your Tweets, and to repeatedly visit your website."
Visit the Twitter Blog to see a complete list of sites where you can find the new button.

Benedict XVI's travel plans for Croatia

Benedict XVI will travel to Croatia on June 4 and 5. During his two-day visit, he will preside over the National Day of Croatian Catholic Families. This is the first trip that Benedict XVI has made to the country as pope, however he visited twice while he was a cardinal.

The pope will arrive at the Zagreb airport on the morning of Saturday June 4. He plans to give a speech directed toward the entire nation. He will also be received by the president, Ivo Josipovic, the Cardinal of Zagreb, Josip Bozanic and the president of the Croatian Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Marin Srakić.

The President of Croatia is an avid music lover and the pope plans to give him a copy of a song's manuscript from the Vatican Library.

Benedict XVI will be staying at the Croatian nunciature, which was built 20 years ago, after the country's independence from Yugoslavia. There he will receive the Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor.

In the afternoon, in the Croatian National Theatre, Benedict XVI will meet with representatives from local organizations, politicians, entrepreneurs, diplomats and leaders of other religions. In total, he will meet with around 700 people. It will be the only Ecumenical meeting for the trip.

After the meeting, Benedict XVI will meet with 50,000 young people in the central square of Zagreb. He will give away a gold rosary to the Virgin Mary. The meeting will end with a Eucharistic adoration.

On Sunday June 5, Benedict XVI will preside over the Day of Croatian Families. It will be at a local racetrack which holds around 300,000 people.

In the afternoon, he will visit the famous Cathedral of Zagreb, which has neo-Gothic style, and where the Blessed Alojzije Stepinac is buried. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison by a communist court. Here, the bishops, priests and seminarians will pray the Vespers together.

Of the 4 ½ million inhabitants in Croatia, 89% are Catholic. Agnostics make up 6% and 2% practice Islam.

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

And Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda.[Lk. 1:39]
How lyrical that is, the opening sentence of St. Luke's description of the Visitation. We can feel the rush of warmth and kindness, the sudden urgency of love that sent that girl hurrying over the hills. "Those days" in which she rose on that impulse were the days in which Christ was being formed in her, the impulse was his impulse.
Many women, if they were expecting a child, would refuse to hurry over the hills on a visit of pure kindness. They would say they had a duty to themselves and to their unborn child which came before anything or anyone else.
The Mother of God considered no such thing. Elizabeth was going to have a child, too, and although Mary's own child was God, she could not forget Elizabeth's need—almost incredible to us, but characteristic of her.
She greeted her cousin Elizabeth, and at the sound of her voice, John quickened in his mother's womb and leapt for joy.
I am come, said Christ, that they may have life and may have it more abundantly. [Jn. 10, 10] Even before He was born His presence gave life.
With what piercing shoots of joy does this story of Christ unfold! First the conception of a child in a child's heart, and then this first salutation, an infant leaping for joy in his mother's womb, knowing the hidden Christ and leaping into life.
How did Elizabeth herself know what had happened to Our Lady? What made her realize that this little cousin who was so familiar to her was the mother of her God?
She knew it by the child within herself, by the quickening into life which was a leap of joy.
If we practice this contemplation taught and shown to us by Our Lady, we will find that our experience is like hers.
If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it He is forming Himself; if we go with eager wills, "in haste," to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that He desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of His love.
And the answer we shall get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of the already wakened life within them.
Excerpted from The Reed of God, Caryll Houseland

Monday, May 30, 2011

How seminarians and youths with a vocation for priesthood can attend special WYD Mass

One of the many highlights of World Youth Day,  is a Mass which will be celebrated by the Holy Father himself, on August 20st in Madrid. Seminarians or those who think they may have a calling to the priesthood, can attend this Mass. But first, they must be accredited. 

First, one needs a user name and password, which can be requested by sending an e mail to seminaristas@jmj2011madrid.com. Then one can visit the website,  www.acreditacionseminaristas.org to start off the request. 

After filling out the form, a scanned color passport sized photo should be uploaded.  The application is in English, Spanish, Italian and French. The deadline is June 30th, 2011. 

Happy 21st Anniversary

Today my husband and I celebrate 21 years of marriage and while this may seem an accomplishment in today's world, I certainly cannot take any credit. It is all due to the grace of God. 

To me a lasting and committed  marriage is made one day at a time. It is getting up and choosing to live St. Paul’s version of love, even when the feeling is not there. It is choosing to be patient and kind and putting the other person first. It is praying for the strength to keep going. 

God has taught me a number of things during the past 21 years including the following:

1. Forgive one more time than asked; seek forgiveness one more time than I think I need to.

2. It is “my fault” too, we are in this together.

3. Practice mercy–which is all that love desires to give–before admonishment.

4. Being right isn’t all it is cracked up to be when it divides a couple; it is better to be committed to your spouse than to be right.

5. Children will bring a couple to their knees and seem to be God’s way of ensuring a humble and compassionate heart in which He can dwell.

5. Marriage with God at its center can withstand all that will come against it!

Jack Warner (Vice President of FIFA) must demit office

Yesterday the FIFA Ethics Committee suspended Jack Warner for one month pending “full investigation” of bribery allegations brought against Warner by one of his colleagues, CONCACAF General Secretary Chuck Blazer. Also suspended for one month was fellow FIFA Executive Committee Member Sheik Mohammed Bin Hammam, who is President of the Asian Football Confederation.

The issue of importance to us in Trinidad and Tobago therefore, goes well beyond FIFA ethics and suspensions. Jack Warner is a Cabinet minister of Trinidad and Tobago, and the fact that he has been suspended from FIFA on an ethics violation brings into question his suitability to continue serving in Cabinet while on this charge. And indeed beyond the resolution of this charge should he be found guilty. 

We believe that Jack Warner, has no choice but to step down from office in the Government and await the results of this investigation which is a very great scandal and embarrassment to Trinidad and Tobago. And if he does not do so, the Prime Minister must relieve him of his duties. We cannot have a situation where a senior Cabinet minister of this country has been charged with bribery. We believe that Mr Warner must do the correct thing and not leave it to the Prime Minister to dismiss him. 

The deep irony of the situation is that he is clearly one of the best performing Cabinet ministers this country has ever seen. And this is certainly not the opinion of this newspaper alone. Every single opinion poll in the past year has resoundingly supported this position. His absence, or worse, his departure, will leave a vacuum in the operations of the Government that will not be easy to fill. 

This development is a major blow for the Government which only some weeks ago had to remove another Cabinet minister for breaching the Integrity in Public Life Act. The Warner issue is far worse, and we await developments, but one thing is clear, and that is, that Mr Warner has no choice but to demit office.


On January 26 of this year, Pope Benedict used his weekly General Audience to talk about this saint who led French troops into battle and was unjustly condemned to death. As we reflect on his words, let us pray for those in communications media and for the Church in China: may they be strong in holding fast to the truth.

When Joan was born, in 1412, there was a pope and two anti-popes. In addition to this laceration within the Church, there were continuous fratricidal wars between the Christian peoples of Europe, the most tragic of which was the interminable 100 Years War between France and England. …

Dear brothers and sisters, the Name of Jesus, invoked by our saint up to the last moments of her earthly life, was like the breathing of her soul, like the beating of her heart, the center of her whole life. The "mystery of the charity of Joan of Arc," which so fascinated the poet Charles Peguy, is this total love of Jesus, and of her neighbor in Jesus and for Jesus. This saint understood that love embraces the whole reality of God and of man, of heaven and of earth, of the Church and of the world. Jesus was always in the first place during her whole life, according to her beautiful affirmation: "Serve God first".

To love him means to always obey his will. She said with total confidence and abandonment: "I entrust myself to my Creator God, I love him with my whole heart". … One of the best known texts of the first trial has to do with this: "Asked if she knew that she was in God's grace, she replied: 'If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there'"….

Dear brothers and sisters, with her luminous testimony, St. Joan of Arc invites us to a lofty level of Christian life: to make prayer the guiding thread of our days; to have full confidence in fulfilling the will of God, whatever it is; to live in charity without favoritisms, without limits and having, as she had, in the love of Jesus, a profound love for the Church.

Decoration Day

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hail Holy Queen

The Hail Holy Queen was written nearly 1,000 years ago by a man who certainly knew of "mourning and weeping in this valley of tears." An 11th-century Benedictine monk, his name was Blessed Herman the Cripple.

Born deformed and practically helpless from birth, Herman was cared for from childhood by the monks of the Reichenau abbey of Germany. He was professed as a monk there at age 20. Even though he was bedridden and a speech impediment made him nearly impossible to understand, Herman was gifted as a mathematician and astronomer, and he made astronomical and musical instruments as well.

When he eventually became blind, Herman began writing hymns. His "Salve Regina," or "Hail Holy Queen," is the best known. Its name comes from the first words in Latin.

Although Herman was so deformed that he was never able to stand, his beautiful prayer stands today as a comfort to many, and is traditionally recited at the conclusion of the Rosary.

Blessed Herman died at the age of 40 in 1054. His Sept. 25 feast day is observed in some Benedictine monasteries.

Pope Benedict: The Gospel Mission

During his Regina Coeli address in St Peter's Square on Sunday, Pope Benedict spoke about the church's mission to spread the Gospel which he said through evangelization had flourished in every period in history.

The Pope was commenting on today's reading on the growth of the first Christian community persecuted, from the Acts of the Apostles.

The Holy Father added, that whilst the powerful tried to conquer new lands for political and economic reasons, the messengers of Christ went everywhere for the purpose of bringing Christ to men and men to Christ, knowing that only he can bring true freedom and eternal life." READ MORE

Vatican launches new website for families

The Pontifical Council for the Family has a new and improved website. At www.familia.va, one can keep up with all the Council's activities.

On the website, users can track the health status of families on a global scale. They can also access different publications as well as photographs of meetings and conferences. The website also has information on next year's World Family Meeting in Milan.

The website, www.familia.va, is available in , Italian, Spanish and French. The English version is still under construction.

Sixth Sunday in Easter

How firm is your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? At an opportune time Jesus tested his disciples with a crucial question: Who do men say that I am and who do you say that I am? (Matthew 16:13). Jesus was widely recognized in Israel as a mighty man of God, even being compared with the greatest of the prophets, John the Baptist, Elijah, and Jeremiah. Peter, always quick to respond, exclaimed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. No mortal being could have revealed this to Peter; but only God. Jesus then confered on Peter authority to govern the church that Jesus would build, a church that no powers could overcome. Jesus played on Peter's name which is the same word for "rock" in both Aramaic and Greek. To call someone a "rock" is one of the greatest of compliments. The ancient rabbis had a saying that when God saw Abraham, he exclaimed: "I have discovered a rock to found the world upon." Through Abraham God established a nation for himself. Through faith Peter grasped who Jesus truly was. He was the first apostle to recognize Jesus as the Anointed One (Messiah and Christ) and the only begotten Son of God.

The New Testament describes the church, the people of God, as a spiritual house or temple with each member joined together as living stones (see 1 Peter 2:5). Faith in Jesus Christ makes us into rocks or spiritual stones. The Lord Jesus tests each of us personally with the same question: Who do you say that I am?

"Lord Jesus, I profess and believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God. You are my Lord and my Savior who has set me free from sin and deception. Make my faith strong like the Apostles Peter and Paul and give me boldness to speak of you to others that they may come to know you as Lord and Savior."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Papal Infallibility

St. Bernard of Montjoux

Bernard may have been the son of Count Richard of Menthon. It seems more likely though that he was of Italian birth. Nothing is really known of his parentage and early life.
Tradition reports that a marriage was being arranged for young Bernard and he fled so as to be free to give his life to God. We do know that he was ordained to the priesthood and that he was appointed Vicar General of the diocese of Aosta, Italy. For approximately forty-two years he traveled throughout the country, visiting the remotest Alpine villages. He would sometimes extend his missionary journeys into the neighboring dioceses of Geneva, Novara and Tarentaise. Bernard had the reputation for enforcing clerical discipline and he built several schools.
He is probably most famous for the hospices he built on the summits of passes over the Alps. Many pilgrims from France and Germany would travel over the Alps on their way to Rome, but it was always a possibility that one would die from freezing along the way. In the 9th century a system of hospices had been attempted, but had lapsed long before Bernard's time. Bernard's hospices in the 11th century were placed under the care of clerics and laymen and were well equipped for the reception of all travelers. Eventually these caretakers became Augustinian a monastery was built close by, still exists today
At some point in time Bernard traveled to Rome to receive formal recognition of the hospices and community and to obtain permission to accept novices. Bernard lived to the age of eighty-five and is believed to have died on May 28, 1081 at St. Lawrence Monastery in Novara, Italy.
A now-famous breed of dogs, known for its endurance in high altitude and cold, was named in honor of this saint. Bernard's life has been the focus of many romantic plays and stories. Many of us may remember childhood stories of St. Bernard dogs coming to the rescue of stranded or injured victims on Alpine slopes. The dogs almost always seem to have a cask of Brandy attached to their collars and when the victims were revived by a good drink the dogs would lead them to safety.
However romance was not what Bernard's life was about. He was strongly committed to the ideals taught by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount. Bernard dedicated his life to bring the message of Christ to all and to correct the abuses of clerical life which he saw. He was deeply concerned for the care of the poor and disadvantaged. Living his life in the Alps he knew the dangers present and did what he could to relieve them. He is a model, not of romance, but of deep love and compassion, in imitation of God whom he loved and served with all his heart.reprimanded.
— Excerpted from Christ in the Desert
Patron: Alpinists; mountain climbers; mountaineers; skiers; travelers in the mountains.
Symbols: Man in a mountain setting holding a bishop's crozier; white dog.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Prayer to Mark Pope's Priestly Anniversary - Benedict XVI to Celebrate 60 Years as a Priest June 29

(Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops want to know how your parish is planning to prepare for and celebrate the 60th anniversary of Benedict XVI's ordination to the priesthood.

The Pope will celebrate his anniversary on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The Congregation for Clergy has issued an appeal to Catholics worldwide to mark the Pope's anniversary with 60 hours of Eucharistic prayer for vocations and the sanctification of the clergy.

According to a statement of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, dioceses nationwide are planning to organize prayers before the Blessed Sacrament throughout the month of June. Some celebrations will conclude on July 1, the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the World Day of Prayer for Priests.

"Dioceses and parishes are asked to share information on how they are celebrating the anniversary in prayer," the statement added. To advise the bishops of any activities in local parishes or dioceses, send an email to clergy@usccb.org.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the bishops' conference, highlighted the importance of this celebration in a letter to the bishops last week. He called prayer for vocations "a worthy intention" and an appropriate spiritual sacrifice "in gratitude for the example and service of Benedict XVI."

"An increase in number and sanctity of the priests in service to our dioceses is a sign of health and vitality in the Church," he added.

Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis, chairman for the Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, said that the occasion "is an exceptional opportunity to give thanks for our Holy Father, to pray for all of our priests, and to ask the Lord for more vocations to the priesthood."

"The Holy Father has been an outstanding model of priestly ministry and service to the Church," he added. "In his Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations,
Proposing Vocations in the Local Church, he reminded the faithful that we all have a responsibility to pray for vocations. This is a great opportunity to do just that."

The Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations of the bishops' conference has designed a prayer card for the Pope's anniversary that can be downloaded from

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Prayer for Priests: www.foryourvocation.org/upload/Priest-Prayer-Card-for-print.pdf

Pope prays rosary to “entrust Italy to the Virgin Mary”

The Pope prayed the rosary along with all the Italian bishops in Rome's Basilica of Saint Mary Major. It was a way to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italy's unification. During the brief ceremony, Benedict XVI "entrusted" Italy to the Virgin Mary. He also called for Italy to have “peace and prosperity,” while asking for the country's “internal unity between its rich tradition and its Christian faith.”

Pope Benedict XVI prays during the rosary prayer at St Mary Major Basilica in Rome on May 26, 2011.

St. Augustine of Canterbury

St. Augustine was the agent of a greater man than himself, Pope St. Gregory the Great. In Gregory's time, except for the Irish monks, missionary activity was unknown in the western Church, and it is Gregory's glory to have revived it. He decided to begin with a mission to the pagan English, for they had cut off the Christian Celts from the rest of Christendom. The time was favorable for a mission since the ruler of the whole of southern England, Ethelbert of Kent, had married a Christian wife and had received a Gaulish bishop at his court. Gregory himself wished to come to Britain, but his election as pope put an end to any such idea, and in 596 he decided to send an Italian monk following the comparatively new Rule of St Benedict. Augustine set out with some companions, but when they reached southern Gaul a crisis occurred and Augustine was sent back to the pope for help. In reply the pope made Augustine their abbot and subjected the rest of the party to him in all things, and with this authority Augustine successfully reached England in 597, landing in Kent on the Isle of Thanet. Ethelbert and the men of Kent refused to accept Christianity at first, although an ancient British church dedicated to St Martin was restored for Augustine's use; but very shortly afterwards Ethelbert was baptized and, the pope having been consulted, a plan was prepared for the removal of the chief see from Canterbury to London and the establishment of another province at York. Events prevented either of these projects from being fulfilled, but the progress of the mission was continuous until Augustine's death, somewhere between 604 and 609.

The only defeat Augustine met with after he came to England was in his attempt to reconcile the Welsh Christians, to persuade them to adopt the Roman custom of reckoning the date of Easter, to correct certain minor irregularities of rite and to submit to his authority. Augustine met the leaders of the Welsh church in conference but he unfavorably impressed them by remaining seated when they came into his presence — it is likely that in this he unfavorably impressed St Bede too. Augustine was neither the most heroic of missionaries, nor the most tactful, but he did a great work, and he was one of the very few men in Gaul or Italy who, at that time, was prepared to give up everything to preach the gospel in a far country.

— Excerpted from The Saints edited by John Coulson

Patron: England.

Symbols: Banner of the crucifixion; King Ethelbert rising out of a font (Bishop baptizing a king); fountain; cross fitchée pastoral staff and book; cope, mitre and pallium.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pope ready to answer questions from young Catholics during WYD Madrid 2011

The Pope will be answering questions asked by young Catholics, in this year's World Youth Day in Madrid. The questions will be asked on Saturday, August 20th, during a vigil at “Cuatro Vientos” airport. Afterward, the Pope will lead a moment of Eucharistic Adoration.

The Pope is also planning on having lunch with five youths from each continent. To connect with the thousands of others, every day, the pope will send a text message to all participants attending World Youth Day.

Vatican agrees with excommunication warning to South Korean “visionary” Julia Youn and her followers

The Vatican says it agrees with the stern warning a South Korean Archbishop gave to a self proclaimed 'visionary.'

The Catholic Church has warned Julia Youn on several occasions. But according to Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-jung, those warning have been ignored. Youn and her followers now face the penalty of excommunication from the Church.

Youn claims to have seen several miracles since 1985, including tears of blood stemming from a Marian statue she had in her home. The archdiocese issued three directives denying the claim, but still some Catholics follow her, believing she has a divine connection.

On several occasions, Archbishop Kim Hee-jung said her claims were unfounded, highlighting that she and her followers are “far away from true Christian faith.”

Still, some of her followers weren't convinced on the Vatican's opposition. They argued the Holy See would “support their argument and approve it soon.”

The Archbishop clearly discredited those followers. In a statement he said “The Vatican will never change its position on the alleged visionary.”

Vatican releases book to get ready for the World Meeting of Families in Milan 2012

Take note of these dates: May 30 to June 3, 2012, Milan will host the seventh World Meeting of Families. This year the motto is, “Family, work and celebration.” The theme highlights how to lead a life of balance between one's work and family.

Card. Ennio Antonelli 
President, Pontifical Council for the Family 
“It's precisely about the impact work has on families. It includes the pressures of family life in a world of work. It's a fundamental issue. Today, there's much talk of reconciling family and work. It's not just a political problem, but also an economic one. It affects labor organization which in turn affects companies." 

To prepare for the meeting in Milan, the Pontifical Council for the Family published a book, which has a series of catechesis. It also includes different writings the entire family can reflect on. 

Card. Dionigi Tettamanzi 
Archbishop of Milan 
"We are preparing for the meeting with these reflections on family, work and celebration, which are illustrated in ten catechesis. They also show the itinerary for the coming months until the meeting from May 30 to June 3, 2012." 

This international meeting is divided in two parts. The first is a three-day conference, where the role of the family in the world, society, the church or marriage will be discussed. 

The last days will be chaired by pope Benedict XVI. 

Card. Ennio Antonelli 
President Pontifical Council for the Family 
"We're using the World Family Meeting held in Valencia as a point of reference. We estimate that between 500,000 to 700,000 people will attend the last two days with the pope, which will also be the most solemn days. We estimated that 6,000 or 7,000 people will participate in the congress of pastoral theology." 

John Paul II began these family meetings in 1992. The goal is to analyze issued faced by families. They're held every three years. The largest gathering was in Manila, Philippines in 2003 which brought 4 million people.

St. Philip Neri

This gracious, cheerful saint was Rome's apostle of the sixteenth century (1515-1595). A peculiar charism was his burning love of God, a love that imperceptibly communicated itself to all about him. So ardently did this fire of divine love affect him during the octave of Pentecost in his twenty-ninth year that the beating of his heart broke two ribs. It was a wound that never healed.
For fifty years the saint lived on in the intensity of that love which was more at home in heaven than on earth. Through those fifty years his was an apostolate to renew the religious and ecclesiastical spirit of the Eternal City, a task he brought to a happy conclusion. It is to his credit that the practice of frequent Holy Communion, long neglected in Rome and throughout the Catholic world, was again revived. He became one of Rome's patron saints, even one of the most popular.
Philip Neri loved the young, and they responded by crowding about him. As a confessor he was in great demand; among his penitents was St. Ignatius. To perpetuate his life's work, St. Philip founded the Congregation of the Oratory, a society of secular clergy without religious vows. The purpose of his foundation was to enkindle piety among the faithful by means of social gatherings which afforded not only entertainment but religious instruction as well. Joy and gaiety were so much a part of his normal disposition that Goethe, who esteemed him highly, called him the "humorous saint." It was his happy, blithe spirit that opened for him the hearts of children. "Philip Neri, learned and wise, by sharing the pranks of children himself became a child again" (epitaph).
As a youth Philip Neri often visited the seven principal churches of Rome. He spent entire nights at the catacombs, near the tombs of the martyrs, meditating on heavenly things. The liturgy was the wellspring of his apostolic spirit; it should likewise motivate us to Catholic Action.
— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Patron: Rome; United States Army Special Forces.
Symbols: Rosary; lily; angel holding a book.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pope Benedict's School of Prayer - Lesson 4: Jacobs battle with the unknown

During the general audience Benedict XVI, said that "prayer is a struggle, that leads to an encounter with God." The pope chose a portion of the Old Testament that reflects the struggle Jacob faced when trying to speak with God through prayer. 

Benedict XVI 
"Prayer requires closeness. It's a struggle. Getting the blessing requires strength of mind and tenacity, which we can reached only when we acknowledge our weakness and we abandon ourselves to His mercy." 

The pope chose a portion of the Old Testament that reflects the struggle Jacob faced when trying to speak with God through prayer. 

Benedict XVI 
"The whole story presents his struggle, which has no clear winner, leaving the opponent in mystery. Finally it's revealed that God overcomes Jacob, by making him aware of his reality and his innermost being. But in the process of this defeat, he gets the blessing of God. " 

The pope explained how in this struggle, one must address God with perseverance and tenacity. 

Benedict XVI 
"In our prayers, let us ask the Lord to help us as we fight the good fight of faith, and to bless us as we long to see his face." 

Benedict XVI said the search for a good relationship with God is a lifelong task that requires true effort. He also added, that in this struggle, mankind has the support of God. READ MORE

St. Urban

St. Urban, who succeeded Pope St. Callistus (cf. October 14), reigned from 222 to 230. During his pontificate the Church enjoyed peace, because Emperor Alexander Severus forbade the persecution laws to be enforced. Of special interest is a decree ascribed to Pope Urban regarding use made of the gifts offered at Mass. "The gifts of the faithful that are offered to the Lord can only be used for ecclesiastical purposes, for the common good of the Christian community, and for the poor; for they are the consecrated gifts of the faithful, the atonement offering of sinners, and the patrimony of the needy" (Breviary).
St. Urban's body was transferred to the Church of St. Praxedes in the year 818, where it remains to this day. Some hagiographers hold that his grave is in the Church of St. Cecilia in Rome. Vintagers honor Pope St. Urban as their patron.
— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Symbols: Vine and grapes; fallen idol beneath broken column; scourge; stake; severed 

St. Madeleine Sophie Barat

Under the guidance of her brother Madeleine Sophie Barat became at an early age proficient in Latin, Greek, Spanish and Italian. The brother, nine years her senior, was a stern disciplinarian. If her work was bad, she was punished — sometimes by a box on the ears - but if she did well, no word of praise was uttered. She was never allowed to relax from this discipline — even walks were forbidden unless they were strictly necessary for exercise; and when, in a moment of mistaken tenderness, she gave her brother a present, he threw it on the fire. She was ten when the French Revolution occurred in 1789. Afterwards, and still under the influence of her brother, she met Father Varin who desired to found a female counterpart of the Jesuits which should do for girls' education what they did for boys' education. On November 21st, 1800, Madeleine with three companions dedicated herself to the Sacred Heart and so the New Congregation was begun. From the first house at Amiens it was to spread in the lifetime of its foundress all over Europe and to Africa and America, and its boarding schools have become famous.
Madeleine's energy in extending the work was seconded by her reliance on God which enabled her to succeed in times of great difficulty. 'Too much work is a danger to an imperfect soul,' she said, 'but for one who loves our Lord it is an abundant harvest.'
— Excerpted from The Saints edited by John Coulson

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Mary Magdalen of Pazzi, a highly gifted mystic, had made a vow of chastity at the age of ten. She entered the convent of the Discalced Carmelite nuns in Florence, because the practice of receiving holy Communion almost daily was observed there. For five years her only food was bread and water. She practiced the most austere penances and for long periods endured complete spiritual aridity. Her favorite phrase was: "Suffer, not die!" Her body has remained incorrupt to the present day; it is preserved in a glass coffin in the church of the Carmelite nuns at Florence.
Purity of soul and love of Christ are the chief virtues which the Church admires in St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi. These virtues matured her spiritually and enabled her to take as a motto, "Suffer, not die!" Purity and love are also the virtues which the Church today exhorts us to practice in imitation of the saint. We may never attain her high degree of holiness, but we can at least strive to suffer patiently out of love for Christ.
— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Patron: Bodily ills; sexual temptation; sick people.

St. Gregory VII

Gregory VII — his name had been Hildebrand before becoming Pope — was born about the year 1020. For two years he was a Benedictine monk of Cluny (1047-1049), then he became a cardinal, and finally, in 1073, Pope. A strong character with a remarkable personality, he easily takes a place with the greatest popes in the Church's history.

His life was one long struggle to purify and unify the Church, and to make her free and independent of secular powers. He enacted strict prohibitions against simony (the purchasing of ecclesiastical preferments), clerical concubinage, and lay investiture (appointment to ecclesiastical offices by civil authorities). On this later score he soon became involved in a dispute with the Emperor Henry IV which caused him untold trouble and which finally resulted in banishment and death. But his stand cleansed the Church and restored its status. Gregory died in exile with these words on his lips: "I loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile."
Concerning him the Protestant historian Gregorovius wrote: "In the history of the papacy, there will always be two shining stars to reveal the spiritual greatness of the popes. The one is Leo, before whom the terrible destroyer Attila drew back; the other is Gregory, before whom Henry IV knelt in the garb of a penitent. Each of these world renowned men, however, engenders a different reaction. Where Leo inspires highest reverence for pure moral greatness, Gregory fills one with admiration because of an almost superhuman personality. The monk who won without weapons has more right to be admired than Alexander, Caesar, or Napoleon.
"The battles fought by medieval popes were not waged with weapons of iron and lead, but with moral weapons. It was the application and operation of such lofty, spiritual means that occasionally raised the Middle Ages above our own. Alongside Gregory, Napoleon appears as a bloody barbarian. . . . Gregory's accomplishment is a distinctly medieval phenomenon, to study it will always be exciting. The history of the Christian world would lose one of its rarest pages if this stalwart character, this artisan's son in the tiara, were missing."
— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.

St. Bede

Bede occupies an important niche in Church history by bridging the gap between patristic and early medieval times, the era when the Germanic nations had just been Christianized. Through him Christian tradition and Roman culture came to the Middle Ages. He is also honored as the "father of English history." His writings were read publicly in churches while he was still alive; but since he could not be called "Saint," the title of Venerable was attached to his name, a usage which continued down through the centuries.
True Benedictine that he was, his life revolved around prayer and work. On the vigil of the Ascension he felt death approaching and asked to be fortified with the last sacraments. After reciting the Magnificat antiphon of the feast's second Vespers, he embraced his brethren, had himself placed upon a coarse penitential garment on the earth, and breathed forth his soul while saying softly: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."
How St. Bede loved the Bible! Anyone who intends to live with the Church must keep the Scriptures near — day in, day out. St. Bede explained the Bible to others. At times you too will have this privilege. Use it.
— Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch.
Patron: Lectors; historians.
Symbols: Pitcher of water and light from Heaven; scroll; pen and inkhorn; volume of ecclesiastical history.

Often portrayed as: Monk writing at a desk; old monk dying amidst his community; old monk with a book and pen; old monk with a jug.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Delicious Julie Mangoes

It’s mango season in Trinidad and they are starting to drop. 

We have a Julie mango tree in our yard. Yay! 

The Julie are are a coveted type of mango along with the Starch Mango (which I don’t like- too stringy, it gets stuck in your teeth!). 

Mangoes make great chow – a blend of salt, vinegar, onions, pepper (habaneros), chadon beni (a type of local cilantro) and whatever you like. The kids love mango chow. 

Julie Mangoes fetch the highest price among Trinidad mangoes thus it encourages the most skillful backyard thieves.

Anybody who wants to create an impression says they have a Julie Mango tree. Nobody ever says at dinner parties, I have a long mango tree because long mango is considered unrefined. 

Eating a Julie Mango at your desk can be challenging if you want to eat it without cutting it into two faces and the seed since it’s a very juicy mango.

From Paganism to the Priesthood

Recently ordained, Fr. Damien grew up in Singapore in a traditional Chinese family. In this video, he talks about how he discovered the "living God" of Catholicism.


Historic Vatican train ride celebrates Caritas International 60th anniversary

The Vatican State railway station is the shortest in the world. It's rarely used, but hundreds got on board to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Caritas International. Steam engines were used for part of the 62 mile journey from the Vatican to the city of Orvieto.

Benedict XVI: "The unity of Europe will be more solid if based on it's Christian roots"

The pope met with Tsetska Tsacheva, the President of the Bulgarian Parliament, along with a delegation from her country who are in Rome to celebrate the Orthodox feast of St. Cyril and St. Methodius.

Benedict XVI noted that “economic interests are not sufficient for creating a new Europe and that its unity will be more solid if based on it's Christian roots.”

The pope gave the example of St. Cyril and St. Methodius, patrons of Europe and “pioneers of their evangelization” that laid the groundwork for promoting freedom and unity in Christian Europe.

The President of the Bulgarian Parliament thanked the pope for continuing in the footsteps of John Paul II in his openness toward youth and his effort to build strong bridges between the Catholic Church and other faiths.

Mary Help of Christians

As Mother of God's children, Mary has responded by helping Christians throughout the ages. She has done this by coming to the aid of individuals, families, towns, kingdoms and nations.

In 1214 she gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic as a weapon to combat the Albigesian heresy which was devastating Southern France. It is very clear to Christians and it is also the Will of God that we have and will continue to have the Help of Mary through the recitation of the Holy Rosary.

In the year 1531 Our Lady appeared in Mexico to an indian named Juan Diego. He was a humble peasant aged 51. As a result of the apparitions, over 10 million indians were converted to Catholicism, the sacrificial killings of babies stopped, and Our Lady left an image which is a reflection of herself imprinted miraculously on the tilma of Juan Diego.

In 1571 the whole of Christendom was saved by Mary Help of Christians when faithful Catholics throughout Europe prayed the Rosary. The great battle of Lepanto occurred on October 7th 1571. For this reason this date has been chosen as the feast of the Holy Rosary. In 1573 Pope Pius V instituted the feast in thanksgiving for the decisive victory of Christianity over Islamism.

Near the end of the 17th century, Emperor Leopold I of Austria took refuge in the Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Pasau, when 200,000 Ottoman Turks besieged the capital city of Vienna. Pope Innocent XI united Christendom against the ominous attack of Mohammedanism. A great victory occurred thanks to Mary Help of Christians. On September 8th, Feast of Our Lady's Birthday, plans were drawn for the battle. On September 12, Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Vienna was finally freed through the intercession of Mary Help of Christians. All Europe had joined with the Emperor crying out "Mary, Help!" and praying the Holy rosary.

In 1809, Napoleon's men entered the Vatican, arrested Pius VII and brought him in chains to Grenoble, and eventually Fontainbleau. His imprisonment lasted five years. The Pope smuggled out orders from prison for the whole of Christendom to pray to Our Lady Help of Christians, and thus the whole of Europe once again became a spiritual battle ground, not of arms against ruthless arms, but of Rosaries against ruthless military might. Soon Napoleon was off the throne and the Pope freed from prison.

After proving her maternal help, throughout the centuries, Our Lady has continued to appear in hundreds of places throughout the world mainly during the 20th century, Lourdes and Fatima being the most famous apparitions. She has brought help from Heaven, and has warned her children to do prayer and penance as a formula for peace. She has stressed that her children must pray the Holy Rosary daily.

Taken from The Work of God website.

Patron: Church in Australia; Andorran security forces; Austrialian military chaplains; New York; New Zealand.


Today is the feast of Mary, Help of Christians and of Our Lady of Sheshan, in Shanghai, China. It was the day chosen by Pope Benedict in 2007 to be the day on which Catholics around the world unite in prayer for their brothers and sisters in China. Let us do that now with the prayer that Pope Benedict provided for this occasion.

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians," the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and forever. Amen!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Minute Meditation with Pope Benedict XVI

‎"We must learn to spend more time in front of God, before the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ; we must learn to recognize in silence, within our very selves, his voice that calls us and leads us to the depth of our existence."

Mary, Queen of Apostles

The feast of the Queen of Apostles was established on the first Saturday after the Ascension by the Sacred Congregation of Rites at the request of the Pallottine Fathers. Mary initiated her mission as Queen of Apostles in the Cenacle. She gathered the apostles together, comforted them, and assisted them in prayer. Together with them she hoped, desired and prayed; with them her petitions were heeded and she received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost

Mary is Queen of Apostles because she was chosen to be the Mother of Jesus Christ and to give him to the world; she was made the apostles' Mother and our own by our Savior on the cross. She was with the apostles while awaiting the descent of the Holy Spirit, obtaining for them the abundance of supernatural graces they received on Pentecost. The most holy Virgin was and always will be the wellspring for every apostolate.

She exercised a universal apostolate, one so vast that it embraced all others. The apostolate of prayer, the apostolate of good example, the apostolate of suffering--Mary fulfilled them all. Other people have practiced certain teachings of the Gospel; Mary lived them all. Mary is full of grace, and we draw from her abundance.

Mary attracts the zealous to the various apostolates, then protects and defends all these works. She sheds on each the warmth of her love and the light of her countenance. She presented Jesus in a manner unparalleled throughout the ages. Her apostolate is of the highest degree--never to be equaled, much less surpassed.

Mary gave Jesus to the world and with Jesus came every other blessing. Thus, because of Mary we have the Church: "Mary is the Mother of the Church not only because she is the Mother of Christ and his most intimate associate in 'the new economy when the Son of God took a human nature from her, that he might in the mysteries of his flesh free man from sin,' but also because 'she shines forth to the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues' (Lumen Gentium. 55, 65). She now continues to fulfill from heaven her maternal function as the cooperator in the birth and development of the divine life in the individual souls of the redeemed" (The Great Sign, by Paul VI). What do we have of value that we have not received through Mary? It is God's will that every blessing should come to us through her.

Because the Blessed Mother occupies a most important position in God's plan of salvation, all humanity should pay homage to her. Whoever spreads devotion to the Queen of Apostles is an apostolic benefactor of the human race, because devotion to Mary is a treasure. Blessed is the person who possesses this treasure! Mary's devotees will never be without grace; in any danger, in every circumstance they will always have the means to obtain every grace from God.

Several religious congregations practice devotion to Mary under the title of Queen of Apostles, including the Pallotines, the Marianists, and the congregations founded by Bl. James Alberione (the Society of St. Paul, the Daughters of St. Paul, and several others). In the twentieth century, Bl. Alberione promoted this devotion in a particular way.

— Excerpted from Favorite Prayers and Novenas, copyright 1997 Pauline Books & Media

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Potted Garden

The Sun is out shining bright today and I thought I would share my potted veggies. Herbs and tomatoes galore planned for the lovely sunny days ahead.

Are you planting your potted garden or do you have a full blown bounty already in the ground?