Sunday, July 31, 2011

German nuns bake for papal visit

Sister Placida scales hosts at the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gertrud's host bakery in Alexanderdorf, Germany, to be blessed by the pope at Masses during his September tour. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Germany (AP) — Benedict XVI will not visit the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gertrud, but preparations for his trip are nevertheless in full swing, with the nuns baking thousands of communion wafers to be blessed by the pope at Masses during his September tour.

Sister Theresia, right, and Sister Ruth work on the baking machine at the abbey's host bakery which produces plates for communion wafers. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)

In a small room at the back of the cloister, nestled on the edge of a forest south of Berlin, Sister Theresa pulls a lever that squirts liquid dough — a simple mixture of flour and water — onto one of a dozen hot irons. These press out sheets of thin, light wafer that are cut into dozens of rounds to be weighed, packaged and delivered to Roman Catholic churches in the capital and east of Germany.

Sister Placida scales hosts.(Photo/Markus Schreiber)

"We are very happy that our communion wafers from our bakery will be offered at the Eucharist celebration," Sister Theresa, 62, told The Associated Press.

The pope visits Germany on Sept. 22-25, arriving in Berlin and traveling through the former-communist east before wrapping up in the southwester diocese of Freiburg.

The order of 35,000 wafers for the Holy Mass, to be celebrated outside of the massive cathedral in the eastern city of Erfurt, was called in several weeks ago. Sister Theresa, assisted by Sister Placida and another woman from the village, has the wafers prepared and ready to be picked up by the postal workers for delivery.

Hosts are packed in baskets. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)

"The wafers are already packed and will be put in the mail at the start of the month," Sister Theresa said.

Since 1938, the nuns of St. Getrud have been providing hosts to eastern Germany's Catholics — as well as some Lutheran communities.

Sister Theresia of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Gertrud produces hosts from plates at the abbey's host bakery. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Twelve sheets of the wafer can be baked in a span of two minutes. They are left in the open to absorb a bit of moisture overnight to prevent them from cracking when the small, circular wafers are stamped out with a drill-press.

Sister Theresia works on plates for communion wafers. (Photo/Markus Schreiber)

Although the order has not yet come in for the Mass to be celebrated in Berlin's Olympic stadium, which can hold up to 70,000 people, Sister Theresa did not seem concerned.

"We could make the 70,000 possibly needed for the celebration at the Olympic stadium in a single day of baking," she said.

St Ignatius of Loyola - Feast Day July 31

Ignatius of Loyola was born in 1491 into a noble Basque family in northern Spain. He became a soldier in the service of the Spanish king Ferdinand. During the defense of the fortress at Pamplona in 1521, a cannonball shattered his leg. During a long and painful convalescence, Ignatius had the opportunity to experience a life-changing conversion. He went from dreaming of knightly glory to wanting to serve Jesus. 

He left Loyola and set out as a pilgrim to the Benedictine monastery at Montserrat. There he spent all night in prayer and offered his knight's sword to Our Lady. Dressed as a beggar, he spent the next few months living in a cave in nearby Manresa. With much mortification and prayer, he reflected on the life and teachings of Jesus. The notes of his experiences in prayer became the basis of a small book called The Spiritual Exercises. 

Ignatius used this book to lead others to a knowledge of God through meditation on the life of Jesus. In 1539 Ignatius and his companions deliberated in Rome about how they might together serve God in the Church. Their decisions became a formula for their future and the foundation on which the Society of Jesus was founded and approved by Pope Paul III in 1540. Ignatius died on July 31, 1556.

Suscipe - St. Ignatius of Loyola

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.

More: Prayers by St. Ignatius and Others

Pope Benedict XVI makes appeal for Horn of Africa

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday appealed for those suffering in the Horn of Africa from the dramatic consequences of famine, aggravated by war and the absence of solid institutions.

Addressing three thousand people in the courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence in Castel Gandolfo, he said Jesus confronts us with our responsibility: which is to do everything in our power to bring assistance to those who suffer from hunger and thirst.

He was commenting on the Sunday Gospel passage, which was about the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

“In today’s Gospel passage, we hear of the multiplication of loaves and fishes, which in a wonderful way prefigured the institution of the Eucharist. We pray that Christians, scattered like grain throughout the world, will be united in offering the one bread and the one cup, and so become one body, one spirit in Christ,” said Pope Benedict.

The Holy Father also said that Jesus, who is concerned about our material well-being, also “wants to give more, because man is always hungry for something more, he needs something more. In the bread of Christ, the love of God is present, in our encounter with Him, we nourish ourselves, so to speak, with the same living God himself, we truly eat the ‘bread from heaven’”

Pope Benedict said, “In the Eucharist Jesus also makes us witnesses of God's compassion for every brother and sister.”

18th Sunday in Ordinary Time

Sunday (July 31):  "They took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over"

Why did Jesus command his disciples to do what seemed impossible – to feed such a large and hungry crowd when there were no adequate provisions in sight? Jesus, no doubt wanted to test their faith and to teach them to rely upon God for their provision. The signs which Jesus did, including the miraculous feeding of the five thousand signified that God the Father had indeed sent his only begotten Son as the anointed Prophet and King for his people. Jesus' feeding of the five thousand is the only miracle recorded in all four gospels. What is the significance of this miracle? The miraculous feeding of such a great multitude pointed to God's provision of manna in the wilderness for the people of Israel under Moses' leadership. This food foreshadowed the true heavenly bread which Jesus would offer his followers. Jesus makes a claim only God can make: He is the true bread of heaven that can satisfy the deepest hunger we experience. The feeding of the five thousand shows the remarkable generosity of God and his great kindness towards us. When God gives, he gives abundantly. He gives more than we need for ourselves that we may have something to share with others, especially those who lack what they need. God takes the little we have and multiplies it for the good of others. Do you trust in God's provision for you and do you share freely with others, especially those who lack?

"Lord Jesus Christ, you satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts and you feed us with the finest of wheat (Psalm 81:16). Fill me with gratitude for your blessings and give me a generous heart that I may freely share with others what you have given to me."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Walking with the Pope

Madrid,July 29 2011.- With less than 20 days to go until the start of WYD pilgrims, and those who will be pilgrims in spirit, have a chance to win some very special prizes.

Five lucky young people could win a chance to be part of the group of pilgrims who walk with the Holy Father through Madrid's Puerta de Alcalá during the official welcome ceremony on Thursday August 18. Puerta de Alcalá is an 18th centry gate that used to be one of the main access points to the city. It is today one of the symbols of Madrid and it is where the Holy Father will be officially received and welcomed to the city. 

Another 50 young pilgrims could win VIP seats on the altar at the Vigil at Cuatro Vientos on Saturday August 20.

Even those young people who can't make it to Madrid have a chance to participate in this contest. Ten youth from around the world will win an official WYD 2011 Madrid Pilgrim Backpack and other items from official WYD store. 

To participate youth must fill in the on-line application form on the official WYD Facebook page and then try to accumulate the most points possible. Points can be accumulated by connecting one's twitter profile to the official WYD twitter profile, or by “liking” the WYD app on the Facebook page.

Proposal to award 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to African women

They stand tall and walk far. Their mission is to survive with dignity and respect. Now an international campaign is promoting their cause with a unique idea: awarding African women, as a whole, the Nobel Peace Prize. 

Guido Barbera -President, CIPSI (Italy)
“African women are truly the backbone of their continent. Women represent almost 95 percent of the everyday economy. The economy of survival. Women are the one's who truly feed children and families. They deal head on with everyday problems.”

The campaign is called “Walking Africa Deserves a Nobel.” It's headed by “CIPSI” a non profit organization in Rome that promotes international solidarity. Organizers are hoping the prize will be awarded to a group or a cause, instead of an individual. 

Guido Barbera -President, CIPSI (Italy)
"Why? Because civility, peace and well being is something we sow together. We don't often go about this individually. In this case, the Nobel Peace prize can be dangerous if it's given to one person. The prize turns you into a character. The person is placed in a pedestal for the world to see.”

The idea is to recognize the everyday work of African women. Especially they work they do in keeping the peace in their communities, feeding children, taking care of orphans, walking for miles at a time to find water and even taking care of A.I.D.S patients as best they know how. 

Guido Barbera -President, CIPSI (Italy)
"Peace is something we must build together. We must learn to be together. This is true peace. Living together having respect for the common good.”

Recognition and respect is what they're looking for mostly. If they're honored with the prize, the campaign is proposing that the 1million euros that comes with the Nobel, be used for education, health programs and micro-loans in Africa. The application was already submitted to the Nobel Peace Prize committee. In October, the winner will be announced. 

Guido Barbera - President, CIPSI (Italy)
“We don't know if they'll receive the award, but African women have told us, in a sense, they've already won the prize, just by being recognized.”

Aside from international organizations, several African villages are also taking part in this campaign. Despite who wins, they're already planning all types of festivities. Being considered, they say, is already a cause for celebration...

St.Peter Chrysologus

Peter was born in Imola about the year 400 and studied under Cornelius, bishop of that city, who ordained him deacon. In 433, the archbishop of Ravenna died, and when a successor had been chosen by the clergy and people of Ravenna, they asked Bishop Cornelius to obtain confirmation of their choice from Pope Sixtus III. On his trip to Rome, Cornelius took his deacon, Peter, as his companion; upon seeing Peter, the pope chose him for the see of Ravenna instead of the one selected by the clergy and people of Ravenna.

Peter was consecrated and was accepted somewhat grudgingly at first by both the clergy and the people. Peter, however, soon became the favorite of Emperor Valentinian III, who resided at Ravenna and was also highly regarded by Pope St. Leo the Great, the successor of Pope Sixtus.
There were still traces of paganism in Peter's diocese, and his first effort was to establish the Catholic faith everywhere, rooting out abuses and carrying on a campaign of preaching and special care of the poor. Many of his sermons still survive, and it is on the basis of these that he came to be known as "the golden word."
In his concern for the unity of the Church, Peter Chrysologus opposed the teaching of Eutyches, condemned in the East, who asked for his support. Peter also received St. Germanus of Auxerre to his diocese and officiated at his funeral.
Knowing that his own death was near, Peter returned to his own city of Imola and after urging great care in the choice of his successor he died at Imola about the year 450 and was buried in the church of St. Cassian. In 1729, Pope Benedict XIII declared him a Doctor of the Church. — The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens
Familiar is his dictum: "If you jest with the devil, you cannot rejoice with Christ." Some of his sermons are read in the Breviary. Ravenna, his episcopal city, still harbors treasures of ancient Christian liturgical art dating to his day.
Symbols: Dog at his feet; bishop's staff; beehive. Often Portrayed As: Bishop being presented to Pope Sixtus III by Saint Peter and Saint Apollinaris of Ravenna; bishop holding a dish.

Friday, July 29, 2011


( The Vatican published the beginnings of a "year in review," noting Benedict XVI's main activities for the first three months of 2011. A second installment, covering April to July, will be published tomorrow.

At the top of the list is the Jan. 14 authorization of the miracle attributed to Pope John Paul II. 

The following day, the first ordinariate for former Anglicans seeking full communion with the Catholic Church was established in England and Wales.

The bishops of the Philippines were a central part of the beginning of 2011, with the Pope receiving groups of them as they completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visits. The prelates of the Syro-Malankar Church also completed their five-yearly visit during this time.

On March 10, the Holy Father's book was presented in time for Lent: "Jesus of Nazareth, Volume II: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection."

The Vatican showed its interest in social media with the March 15 activation of a new Facebook page concerning John Paul II in view of his beatification. And the Vatican's forum for dialogue with non-believers was presented: The Courtyard of the Gentiles, which met March 24-25.

The Bishop of Rome did some traveling in his city, visiting the parish of St. Corbinian on March 20, and the "Fosse Ardeatine" on March 27, commemorating the 335 victims executed there in 1944 by German occupying forces in Rome, in reprisal for a bomb attack that had left 33 Germans dead.

The papal priority of ecumenical dialogue also was highlighted in the beginnings of 2011. On March 28, the Pope received in audience His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus, primate of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

Benedict XVI was also visited by various world leaders during the first three months of 2011: The president of Russia saw him Feb. 17, the president of Lebanon on Feb. 24, and the president of the European Parliament on Feb. 28. In March, he received in audience the presidents of Chile and of Iceland.

St. Martha

Martha was born of noble and wealthy parents, but she is still more illustrious for the hospitality she gave to Christ our Lord. After His Ascension into heaven, she was seized by the Jews, together with her brother and sister, Marcella her handmaid, and Maximin, one of the seventy two disciples of our Lord, who had baptized the whole family, and many other Christians. They were put on board a ship without sails or oars, and left helpless on the open sea, exposed to certain shipwreck. But God guided the ship, and they all arrived safely at Marseilles.

This miracle, together with their preaching, brought the people of Marseilles, of Aix, and of the neighborhood to believe in Christ. Lazarus was made Bishop of Marseilles and Maximin of Aix. Magdalen, who was accustomed to devote herself to prayer and to sit at our Lord's feet, in order to enjoy the better part which she had chosen, that is, contemplation of the joys of heaven, retired into a deserted cave on a very high mountain. There she lived for thirty years, separated from all human intercourse; and every day she was carried to heaven by the angels to hear their songs of praise.

But Martha, after having won the love and admiration of the people of Marseilles by the sanctity of her life and her wonderful charity, withdrew in the company of several virtuous women to a spot remote from men, where she lived for a long time, greatly renowned for her piety and prudence. She foretold her death long before it occurred; and at length, famous for miracles, she passed to our Lord on the fourth of the Kalends of August. Her body which lies at Tarascon is held in great veneration.

Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

Patron: Butlers; cooks; dietitians; domestic servants; homemakers; hotel-keepers; housemaids; housewives; innkeepers; laundry workers; maids; manservants; servants; servers; single laywomen; travellers.

Symbols: Water pot and asperge; cooking utensils; ladle or skimmer; broom; bunk of keys at her girdle; two asperges; dragon bound with a girdle (symbolizing temptation resisted); torch (symbolizing enlightenment and zeal); censer (symbolizing prayer and worship); boat; covered table with cloth, cups, pitcher and bowl containing fruit.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Stepping Back

Moments of conversion seem to come when we least expect them. I was recently in the middle of a spirited conversation with my husband when I suddenly realised that my perception of the situation might not be correct. In fact, I became aware of my tendency to jump to the 'only logical conclusion' without considering other explanations. 

Self-righteousness can be a telltale sign that we are caught in in what Paul calls 'the desire of the flesh'. Nothing feeds our pride and inflames our rage like being convinced that we are in the right side of the cause. How many families have suffered permanent damage because no one was willing to step back and consider that their adversary's point of view might have some validity?

Spirit of love, continue to remind me that patience, kindness and generosity are the authentic signs of your presence. 

St. Innocent I

Innocent was born in Albano, Italy. He lived during the time of Saints Jerome and Augustine. He became Pope, on December 22, 401. Jerome, writing to the virgin Demetrias, says of him: "Hold fast to the faith of holy Innocent, who is the son of Anastasius of blessed memory and his successor in the apostolic throne; receive no strange doctrine, however shrewd and prudent you may think yourself."
During his pontificate, Innocent emphasized papal supremacy, praising the bishops of Africa for referring the decrees of their councils at Carthage and Milevis in 416 that condemned Pelagianism, to the pope for confirmation. This confirmation stirred St. Augustine to pen his famous remark: "Roma locuta, causa finita est" (Rome has spoken, the matter is ended).
Innocent was pope during the capture and sack of Rome by the Goths under Alaric in 410. He condemned the heresies of Pelagius and Celestinus, decreeing that children, even though born of a Christian mother, must be born again by water, in order that their second birth may cleanse away the stain they have contracted by the first. He also approved the observance of fasting on the Saturday in memory of the burial of Christ our Lord. He fought the unjust removal of Saint John Chrysostom and spoke strongly in favor of clerical celibacy. He sat fifteen years, one month, and ten days. Innocent died in Rome, March 12, 417 and was buried in the cemetery called ad Ursum Pileatum.
Some material excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.
Symbols: Angel holding a crown.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

UN launches urgent appeal to save millions from famine in Horn of Africa

These are images from the Horn of Africa, where a drought has driven thousands from their homes in search of food and water. The drought is so wide spread that it has forced some to walk for months. Many of whom left Somalia to seek shelter in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

An emergency meeting of European leaders was called to address the food crisis that has been caused by drought, armed conflict and high food prices.

The meeting was attended by leaders from NGO's, government representatives, as well as Jacques Diouf, the leader of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme executive director Josette Sheeran.

Sheeran recently made a trip to the refugee camps in Somalia to see the situation first hand.

Josette Sheeran
Executive Director, WFP
“People come here, some of them haven't eaten in days or weeks. Some of the children are very weak. We'll be airlifting in supplies here, we'll be working with local authorities here to set up the operations to register people and especially screen the very young children who need nutritional support very quickly.”

The WFP estimates that they are currently feeding 6 million people in the areas effected by the drought but they say that could rise to 10 million in the coming months.

They are asking donors for 1.6 million dollars in the coming 12 months. Without which, officials have warned this famine could become the “scandal of the century”.

St. Pantaleon

He was a celebrated "fee-less physician" from Nicomedia who placed his skill in the service of God's kingdom! According to legend he was the emperor's ordinary physician. He is said to have strayed from the faith because of the voluptuous life at the court, but the zealous priest Hermolaus, by pointing out the example of his virtuous mother, effected such a change that Pantaleon distributed his goods among the poor and devoted his talents for healing to the most wretched and poor among the sick.

Because of his Christian faith he was seized by order of Emperor Maximian, tied to the rack and scorched with torches. But in these tortures Christ appeared, granting him further strength. Finally a stroke of the sword ended his sufferings (Martyrology). He is the patron of physicians and belongs to the "Fourteen Holy Helpers."

Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Patron: bachelors; consumption; doctors; midwives; physicians; torture victims; tuberculosis; protection of domestic animals.

Symbols: Budding olive branch or olive tree; vials of medicine; lion; club; sword and vase.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs

  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup cubed pepperoni
  • 1/2 cup store-bought pizza sauce

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 24-cup mini-muffin pan. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Italian seasoning, salt and red pepper flakes (if using) ; whisk in the milk and egg. Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan and pepperoni; let stand for 10 minutes.

2. Stir the batter and divide among the mini-muffin cups. Bake until puffed and golden, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, microwave the pizza sauce until warmed through. Serve the puffs with the pizza sauce for dipping.


Prayer for Grandparents

Sts. Joachim and Ann

It was in the home of Joachim and Ann where the Virgin Mary received her training to be the Mother of God. Thus, devotion to Ann and Joachim is an extension of the affection Christians have always professed toward our Blessed Mother. We, too, owe a debt of gratitude to our parents for their help in our Christian formation.

Anne is often shown in paintings with Jesus and Mary and is considered a subject that attracts attention, since Anne is the grandmother of Jesus. Her two great shrines — that of Ste. Anne d'Auray in Britanny, France, and that of Ste. Anne de Beaupre near Quebec in Canada — are very popular. We know little else about the lives of Mary's parents, but considering the person of Mary, they must have been two very remarkable people to have been given such a daughter and to have played so important a part in the work of the Redemption.

There is a church of St. Anne in Jerusalem and it is believed to be built on the site of the home of SS. Joachim and Anne, when they lived in Jerusalem.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

Patron:Anne: against poverty; barren; broommakers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labour; Brittany; Canada; France; Quebec; archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Indian Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico.

Symbols: Anne: Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin.

Often Portrayed As: Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; Woman with a book in her hand.

Joachim: Basket containing doves; model of Golden Gate of Jerusalem.

Often Portrayed As: Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.

Monday, July 25, 2011

10 Ways to Convince Someone to Not Get a Tattoo

Every now and then the tattoo issue props up in conversation with my teenage children and I usually use some of the reasons below as to why someone should not get one. So far none of them has had any great desire for a tattoo. I think the first reason usually does the trick. 
Tattoos are permanent, so spur of the moment decisions to get a tattoo are never a good idea. Even when the decision has been made for quite some time, there may still be good reasons to reconsider. Here are ten of the ways that people use to try and convince someone not to get a tattoo.
  1. Pain – There is pain involved in getting a tattoo. How much pain will depend on where it is located on the body, the size of the tattoo and the pain tolerance level of the person receiving the tattoo. If the person has a low pain tolerance, emphasizing the pain involved in the process, and the time needed to complete the tattoo can sometimes be enough to get them to change their mind.
  2. Cost – Tattoos are not inexpensive, especially at the best shops. In addition, the cost of having one removed if you should change your mind about it in the future will be even more costly. Is a little bit of colored skin really worth that much money?
  3. Social impact – Not everyone has an appreciation for the art of tattooing. Your tattoo may negatively impact future relationships, both personal and in the employment/business arena. The cost of that is impossible to gauge.
  4. Bad results – What if it doesn’t turn out looking like you expected it too? Not everyone is happy with the results they receive from a tattoo artist. It doesn’t grow out like a bad haircut.
  5. Personality changes – What is appealing to you now may not be in 5, 10 or 20 years. Everyone’s personality continues to evolve with their life experience and level of maturity. What you will be like in the future is impossible to predict.
  6. Lifestyle changes – A tattoo may fit perfectly with your current lifestyle, but just as with personality, lifestyles change. Having to deal with trying to cover or explain the ‘fashion’ of your past could be something you’d rather avoid.
  7. Body changes – Ten years could mean adding or losing twenty pounds or more. With those changes in weight, the look of a tattoo is going to change too, in a negative way.
  8. Infection – In spite of precautions, infections do still occur. That can mean medical costs and disfigurement of the tattoo. Do you really want to risk that?
  9. Disease – It is possible to transfer incurable diseases like Hepatitis C with tattoo needles. You’re trusting in the word of your tattooist that the needles are sterile. In addition, tattoo ink is not regulated by the FDA. You have no idea what might be in that stuff that is going into your skin.
  10. Aged tattoos – Show them some pictures of people who have carried their tattoos on their body for a lifetime that are no longer colorful or appealing on their 70-80 year old bodies. Is that what they want to look like when they’re a grandparent?
In reality, you may not be able to convince a person not to get a tattoo with these arguments, but they should at least encourage them to think it through more carefully. It is their body and their life, but often times tattoos done in youthful years are regretted later on in life. Sometimes convincing them to simply wait a few years will be more effective than trying to convince them not to get a tattoo at all.
Via :

Spanish family gets ready to welcome group for World Youth Day

This is the home of the Machuca-Bárcena family. They live in Tres Cantos area just north of Madrid. Along with hundreds of other families, they've decided to welcome young people into their home, where they'll stay for World Youth Day. Even though there are just a few days left before the big week, the family still doesn't know exactly who they'll be welcoming, or even where they're coming from.

Antonio Machuca 
"It's not very clear. At first it was going to be two girls and two boys from Poland. Now it seems the group could be from France. For us it's all the same. They're great people so we're ready to welcome them, help them and share this experience together. 

Martha Bárcena 
“At first, we're going to see how things work out. We're planning on using the kids room for the guests. We also have study room, which is my husband's office. We were told they don't necessarily need a bed, since they can also use sleeping bags. We'll sort things out when we learn more about who's coming and what they'll need." 
Hundreds of families all over Madrid are getting ready to host small groups of pilgrims. It wasn't an easy decision for everyone. Welcoming four young strangers to one's home isn't something everyone is open to. But members of this family say, they're all for it.

Antonio Machuca 
"I think it's because of our desire to collaborate with WYD. It's also an opportunity to express our generosity to people who are coming from far away, from all over the world, including Asia. It's also an opportunity to teach generosity to our children.”
For now, the children seem to agree. They say they don't mind not knowing the language of the visitors, nor do they mind, lending their room for a bit.

Miguel Machuca Bárcena 
"No, I don't think it's a big deal. Sure, I'll share my room.”

Carmen Machuca Bárcena 
"If they speak English, well I'll try to speak  English or say 'this, this' with hand signals.”
It's these acts of kindness that Spanish families are offering to thousands of pilgrims coming from all five continents. All in an effort to make them feel at home. 

Feast of St. James, apostle

St. James the Greater and his brother John were apparently partners with those other two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and lived in Bethsaida, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. How and where James first met Jesus, we do not know; but there is an old legend that makes Salome, his mother, a sister of Mary, and if this were the case, he would have known Jesus from childhood.

Along with Peter and his brother John, James was part of the inner circle of Jesus, who witnessed the Transfiguration, were witnesses to certain of His miracles, like the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and accompanied Him to the Garden of Gethsemani. Like his brother, he was active in the work of evangelization after the death of Jesus, and one legend, very unlikely, even has him going to Spain after Jesus' resurrection.

His prominence and his presence in Jerusalem must have been well known, for scarcely a dozen years after the Resurrection, he became involved in the political maneuverings of the day and was arrested and executed by King Herod Agrippa. This was followed by the arrest of Peter also, so his death must have been part of a purge of Christian leaders by Agrippa, who saw the new Christian movement as a threat to Judaism.
Jesus had foretold this kind of fate when He prophesied that James and his brother John would "drink of the same chalice" of suffering as Himself. The two brothers had asked to be seated at the right of Jesus and at His left in His kingdom, and Jesus told them that they would be with Him in a far different way than they expected.
James's death is the only biblical record we have of the death of one of the Apostles, and he was the first of that chosen band to give his life for his Master.
Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens
Patron: Against arthritis; against rheumatism; Antigua, Guatemala; apothecaries; blacksmiths; Chile; Compostela, Spain; druggists; equestrians; furriers; Galicia, Spain; Guatemala; horsemen; knights; laborers; Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Nicaragua; pharmacists; pilgrims; Pistoia, Italy; rheumatoid sufferers; riders; soldiers; Spain; Spanish conquistadors; tanners; veterinarians.
Symbols: Cockle shell; dark-bearded man holding a book; dark-bearded man holding a scroll; dark-bearded man holding a sword; dark-bearded man with a floppy pilgrim's hat, long staff, water bottle, and scallop shell; elderly, bearded man wearing a hat with a scallop shell; key; man with shells around him; mounted on horseback, trampling a Moor; pilgrim with wallet and staff; pilgrim's hat; pilgrim's staff; scallop shell; sword.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Patron Saints of World Youth Day 2011

Blessed Pope John Paul II will be the official spiritual patron of World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid.  The pope founded World Youth Day and presided over many of the largest gatherings worldwide, including the international gathering in Denver, Colorado in August 1993, the theme being: 
 “I came that they might have life, and have it to the full” (Jn 10:10)


The nine patron saints named for this summer’s World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, serve well as patrons for young Catholics, said Fr. Edwin Galea. “Their lives tell us that all things are possible to God,” said Galea, who will be a part of the World Youth Day pilgrimage run by the archdiocese of Toronto’s Office of Catholic Youth.

“The worst sinner could become the greatest saint so they inspire us. They provide us with a depth of spirituality that is not normally attained in the ordinary world but can inspire a person not to give up.”The nine saints all have ties to Spain.

Here are brief glimpses into the lives of the nine patron saints of World Youth Day.

After joining the Carmelite order in Spain, St. Teresa of Avila asked St. John to help her reform movement to bring the order back to a life of prayer. But many Carmelites felt threatened by this and some members kidnapped him, locking him in a cell and beating him. After nine months, he escaped. From then on, his life was devoted to sharing his experience of God’s love.

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556)
A cannon ball and a series of bad operations ended this Spanish soldier’s military career in 1521. While St. Ignatius recovered, he read the lives of the saints and decided to dedicate himself to becoming a soldier of the Catholic faith. Soon after, he experienced visions, but a year later suffered a trial of fears and scruples, driving him almost to despair. Out of this experience he wrote his famous Spiritual Exercises. St. Ignatius founded the Jesuits.

Born in Spain, St. Francis Xavier was the son of a wealthy and noble family. At university, he met St. Ignatius Loyola, who convinced him to use his education and talents to spread the Gospel as a Jesuit. In 1540, he started his life’s work as a missionary in the East Indies, Japan and China. He was said to have been responsible for more than 50,000 conversions to the Catholic faith.

A field labourer who would begin every day with Mass, he depended totally on God and the help of the angels. One day, his master saw another plough drawn by white oxen next to the plough of St. Isidore. He ran towards it, but they disappeared out of his master’s sight. From then onwards, St. Isidore’s sanctity became known as such that the angels would help him even when he would plough the fields. 

Despite the centuries that have passed since she lived, Maria and her husband, St. Isidore, continue to be strong examples of the vocational meaning of marriage as a vocation through which people can achieve holiness. She was humble, hardworking, a good wife and mother and a virtuous and devout Catholic.

After studying to become an architect in Madrid, he experienced the call of God to consecrate himself in monastic life, entering the Trappist monastery. God wished to test him with a painful sickness — acute diabetes — that forced him to leave the monastery three times. But always, he returned. St. Rafael was canonized in 2009.

 St. John of Avila (1500-1569) 
Spiritual director of St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila, among others, he drew large crowds with his denunciations of evil and his many sermons. His missionary efforts were centred on Andalusia, a community in Spain, and his letters and other writings have become Spanish classics.

She brought about the reform of the Carmelites, founding the Discalced Carmelites, who centre their life on prayer and penance. Silence and extreme poverty are signs of their identity, something that was not lived in the convents of the Calced Carmelites. Throughout her life, she founded 15 reformed convents throughout Spain.

St. Rose of Lima was not a nun, rather, she was a lay tertiary, spending most of her life at her family home where she worked to support the family. As she grew older, she was so devoted to her vow of chastity that she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so she wouldn’t be attractive. St. Rose was a mystic and visionary, who received many mental and physical sufferings, including an invisible stigmata.


Dear friends, once again I invite you to attend World Youth Day in Madrid. I await each of you with great joy. Jesus Christ wishes to make you firm in faith through the Church. The decision to believe in Jesus Christ and to follow him is not an easy one. It is hindered by our personal failures and by the many voices that point us towards easier paths. Do not be discouraged. Rather, look for the support of the Christian community, the support of the Church! Throughout this year, carefully prepare for the meeting in Madrid with the bishops, priests and youth leaders in your dioceses, parish communities, associations and movements. The quality of our meeting will depend above all on our spiritual preparation, our prayer, our common hearing of the word of God and our mutual support.

Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God. The Church in Spain is actively preparing to welcome you and to share this joyful experience of faith with you. I thank the dioceses, parishes, shrines, religious communities, ecclesial associations and movements, and all who are hard at work in preparing for this event. The Lord will not fail to grant them his blessings. May the Virgin Mary accompany you along this path of preparation. At the message of the angel, she received God’s word with faith. It was in faith that she consented to what God was accomplishing in her. By proclaiming her “fiat”, her “yes”, she received the gift of immense charity which led her to give herself entirely to God. May she intercede for each one of you so that, in the coming World Youth Day you may grow in faith and love. I assure you of a paternal remembrance in my prayers and I give you my heartfelt blessing.


Pope Benedict XVI: Abandon the way of hatred

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday prayed for the victim’s of Friday terrorist attack in Norway, which took nearly 100 lives. Speaking after his Angelus in Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father said, “Unfortunately, yet again, comes news of death and violence,” and expressed his deep sorrow. He reiterated a “grief-stricken” appeal to all to forever abandon the way of hatred and to flee from the logic of evil.

Before reciting the Angelus, the Pope reflected on the importance of one’s conscience is doing good and avoiding evil. He was speaking about the first reading from Sunday’s Mass, which spoke of King Solomon, who had prayed to God to give him a meek heart, meaning a developed conscience to determine between good and evil.

The Pope said, “Solomon’s example applies to everyone…The moral conscience presupposes a capacity to listen to the voice of truth, and to be meek towards its indications.” 

“In reality,” Pope Benedict XVI said, “the true quality of our own life and that of society depends on a person’s rightly formed conscience, and on everyone’s capacity to recognise good, separating it from evil, and to try and bring it about patiently to contribute to the cause of justice and peace.

The Holy Father added, “People called to political office naturally have more responsibilities, and thus, as Solomon teaches, need God’s help even more.”

"The heavenly treasure and the pearl of great price"

What do you treasure the most and how secure is that treasure? In a peasant community the best safe was often the earth. The man in the parable "went in his joy" to sell everything. Why? Because he found a treasure worth possessing above all else he had. He did not, however, have enough to buy the treasure. Fortunately, he only needed enough to buy the field. In a similar fashion, God offers his kingdom as incomparable treasure at a price we can afford! We can't pay the full price for the life which God gives us; but when we exchange our life for the life which God offers, we receive a treasure beyond compare.

The pearl of great price also tells us a similar lesson. Pearls in the ancient world came to represent the supremely valuable. Jesus remarked that one should not cast pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). Why would a merchant sell everything for a peerless pearl? No doubt because he was attracted to what he thought was the greatest treasure he could possess. Discovering God's kingdom is like stumbling across hidden treasure or finding the one pearl of great price. When we discover the kingdom of God we receive the greatest possible treasure – the Lord himself. Selling all that we have to obtain this incomparable treasure could mean many things – our friends, job, our "style of life", what we do with our free time. Treasure has a special connection to the heart, the place of desire and longing, the place of will and focus. The thing we most set our heart on is our highest treasure. In this parable what does the treasure of the kingdom refer to? It certainly refers to the kingdom of God in all its aspects. But in a special way, the Lord himself is the treasure we seek for. If the Almighty is your gold and your precious silver, then you will delight yourself in the Almighty (Job 22:22- 23). Is the Lord the treasure and delight of your heart?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pope urges Norwegians to reject hatred and conflict

Pope Benedict expressed sympathy on Saturday for the victims of a suspected right-wing zealot who killed up to 98 people in a shooting spree and bomb attack and urged Norwegians to reject hatred and violence.

In a message to Norway's King Harald, the Vatican said the pontiff had been "profoundly saddened" by the attacks in the government district of Oslo and on Utoeya island northwest of the capital.

"His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI offers fervent prayers for the victims and their families, invoking God's peace upon the dead and divine consolation upon those who suffer," a statement said.

"At this time of national grief he prays that all Norwegians will be spiritually united in a determined resolve to reject the ways of hatred and conflict and to work together fearlessly in shaping a future of mutual respect, solidarity and freedom for coming generations."

Tito Yupanqui could become the first Bolivian saint

The bishops of Bolivia have opened the beatification process of Francisco Tito Yupanqui. If approved, he would become the first blessed Bolivian. He was born in 1550 and was one of the first indigenous people to convert to Catholicism. 

He carved the image of the Virgin of Copacabana, which is an extremely important figure in Bolivia. The miracles attributed to the image have prompted the possible holiness. 

Carlos Federico de la Riva -Bolivia's ambassador to the Vatican
"The attribution of the miracle is not directly related to the sculptor, Tito Yupanqui. Rather the miracles are linked to the image of the Virgin. That's simply a fact."

The sculptor is so popular in his native country, there's actually a village in the western part of Bolivia, named after Tito Yupanqui. Now, Catholics in Bolivia are hoping his beatification will come soon. 

Carlos Federico de la Riva -Bolivia's ambassador to the Vatican
"In a way Bolivians see it as justice. People say, 'gee, all the saints are from other countries,' as if there was no room for holiness in Bolivia.”

If he does in fact become a blessed, the ambassador says it will promote a Christian way of living” in his home country.

Optional Memorial of St. Bridget, religious

Patron saint of Sweden, Bridget married a young prince and lived happily with him for 28 years, bearing him eight children. St. Catherine of Sweden was their daughter. After her husband died, Bridget founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior, erecting at Vadstena a double monastery for monks and nuns. Following the guidance of the Holy Spirit, she later went to Rome, where she worked for the return of the Popes from Avignon. This Scandinavian mystic is famous for her Revelations concerning the sufferings of our Redeemer.

Patron: Europe; Sweden; widows.