Wednesday, August 31, 2011

BAT - Bacon Avocado & Tomato Sandwich

Bacon, Avocado & Tomato Sandwich served Open Faced

Crispy Bacon : Cook bacon by baking it in the oven at 325 degrees for 15-20 minutes.  It works great if you cook them on a baking rack on a baking sheet, so the fat can drain.  If you don't have a baking rack tilt the pan to drain the fat from the bacon while it cools. 

 A ripe avocado.  After pitting the avocado, I slice it with a knife, then scoop it out with a spoon.

Slice tomatoes and season with salt and black pepper. 

 Italian bread, mayonnaise made with olive oil along with plenty of salt and fresh cracked pepper.

Assembled sandwiches -  Spread each slice with mayonnaise. 

Start with the bacon.

Then tomatoes.  Salt & Pepper the tomatoes.

 Follow with the slices of avocados.

Final product.  Creamy avocado, sweet juicy tomatoes, and crispy salty bacon.  This is the best lunch! 

Pope Benedict XVI explains how to find God in art

On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI challenged the men and women of today’s world to recover the deepest meaning of art, in its multitude of expressions, but particularly as the path of beauty which leads to God. And in doing so he also shared personal memories of how art had moved him to God with the five thousand pilgrims gathered for the general audience in the tiny village of Castel Gandolfo.

He said “On several occasions during this period, I have recalled the need for every Christian to find time for God, for prayer, amid the many occupations of our daily lives. The Lord Himself gives us many opportunities to remember Him. Today I will touch briefly on one of these channels that can bring us to God and also be of help in encountering Him: it is the path of artistic expression, part of that "path of Beauty ", of which I have spoken several times and which man today should recover in its deepest meaning”.

Pope Benedict continued "perhaps sometimes, before a sculpture, a painting, a few verses of a poem or a song, you have experienced deep within an intimate emotion, a sense of joy, that is, you have clearly perceived that in front of you there was not only mere matter, a piece of marble or bronze, a painted canvas, a series of letters or a combination of sounds, but something bigger, something that speaks, capable of touching the heart, of communicating a message; of elevating the soul. " 

"Works of art are the fruit of human creativity, which question the visible reality, trying to discover its deep meaning and to communicate it through the language of shapes, colours, sounds." The work of art, in short, "is an open door on the infinite," which "opens the eyes of the mind, of the heart." 

Turning 49 in peace

This year’s Independence celebrations will not be punctuated by fireworks; a night time display being unfeasible in a state of emergency with an attendant 9 pm curfew. We are convinced though that Trinidad and Tobago's (TT’s) citizens, however disappointed, are willing to forfeit tonight’s show of lights in exchange for the possibility of peace that may eventually come from Government’s declaration of war against the gangs and cartels.

Today, the day we mark our liberation from Britain 49 years ago, finds us in a more sombre, reflective mood than usual and facing uncertain times, under a state of emergency, fighting gang violence. But we can celebrate our collective maturity as Trinbagonians. At 49, we have accepted that we must wage war against the increasingly powerful criminals or lose our cherished Independence — the nation we love is in peril. As a people, we have begun to face facts that are chilling, as we learn of the size, wealth, influence and complexity of the criminal enterprise turning TT into a little Medellin. 

As we turn 49, we battle a criminal element operating a criminal drug and gun trade on and via our twin island state, gangsters we thought we had rooted out when we executed Dole Chadee and his gang 12 years ago. Today, we have to accept that when we got rid of Chadee and his henchmen in 1999, we did not tackle the compelling reason for Chadee’s era of criminal activity: illegal drugs and their attractive, illicit, tax free profits. The dons changed location and names and TT, gateway to South America, had a new generation of gangsters. 

As we enter our 50th year, the nation faces multiple challenges to its security. Even as it fights the crime war, Government is struggling to balance the budget while it settles wage negotiations, upgrades crucial infrastructure and stimulates a bearish economy. Detractors are cynically seeing the state of emergency as an expensive distraction/stalling mechanism and a means to quell pre-budget protests, though if that is the case, enormous effort is being expended on something that is purportedly a show. If the critics are right, and the PP is engaging in political gimmickry it will pay the price for its alleged tomfoolery. However widespread arrests seem to contradict the conspiracy theory and the statistics are coming from the police. 

In the coming year, TT will have to battle cartels and gangs as well as grapple with an international recession and falling oil prices in an unstable market. Our resolve as a nation will be further tested during impending future shocks to the global economic system, which we will only withstand if we continue to diversify the economy, reduce debt and avoid falling into the clutches of the international banks. 

Trinidad and Tobago has been through some extraordinarily testing times since Independence in 1962, moving from crisis to crisis. No free country can escape growing pains and the people of this country have also shown their determination to survive, their creativity, adaptability and their passion for life. Slowly as we mature as a nation, we are learning that Independence is more than a gift granted by a former imperialist, but an objective for which a nation must constantly struggle, as threats to its sovereignty arise. However, once Trinbagonians continue to be the people who believe they were forged from the love of liberty, TT will prevail. May God bless our nation.

If you believe

On this last day of the month, let us pray one last time for this month’s papal intentions. May young people find the treasure of their lives in Christ and be rooted and built up in him. May the Christians of the West rediscover the freshness and enthusiasm of their faith. The reflection is from Pope Benedict’s Message for World Youth Day.

In the history of the Church, the saints and the martyrs have always drawn from the glorious Cross of Christ the strength to be faithful to God even to the point of offering their own lives. In faith they found the strength to overcome their weaknesses and to prevail over every adversity. Indeed, as the Apostle John says, “Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 Jn 5:5). The victory born of faith is that of love. There have been, and still are, many Christians who are living witnesses of the power of faith that is expressed in charity. They have been peacemakers, promoters of justice and workers for a more humane world, a world in accordance with God’s plan. With competence and professionalism, they have been committed in different sectors of the life of society, contributing effectively to the welfare of all. The charity that comes from faith led them to offer concrete witness by their actions and words. Christ is not a treasure meant for us alone; he is the most precious treasure we have, one that is meant to be shared with others. In our age of globalization, be witnesses of Christian hope all over the world. How many people long to receive this hope! Standing before the tomb of his friend Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, as he was about to call the dead man back to life, Jesus said to Lazarus’ sister Martha: “If you believe, you will see the glory of God” (cf. Jn 11:40). In the same way, if you believe, and if you are able to live out your faith and bear witness to it every day, you will become a means of helping other young people like yourselves to find the meaning and joy of life, which is born of an encounter with Christ!

Happy 49 Independence Day Trinidad and Tobago

Forged from the love of liberty,
In the fires of hope and prayer,
With boundless faith in our destiny
We solemnly declare.
Side by side we stand
Islands of the blue Caribbean Sea,
This our native land
We pledge our lives to thee.
Here every creed and race,
Find an equal place,
And may God bless our nation.
Here every creed and race,
Find an equal place,
And may God bless our nation.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Eid Mubarak!

As we approach the festival of Eid at the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. I join with our nation of Trinidad and Tobago in extending fraternal greetings to the Muslim community.

Pope begins search for new head of Doctrine of the Faith

Inside the Catholic Church, 75 is the normal age of retirement. In 2012, the pope will face an important decision: who will replace the American Cardinal William Levada as the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith?

Levada will celebrate his 50th anniversary in the priesthood this December 20th and has expressed his wishes to step down from his position as Prefect.

Benedict XVI has a special connection to this position, where he served for 24 years before being elected pope.

This congregation has taken on an important role in recent years for managing cases of sex abuse inside the Church. It's also assigned to help integrate Anglicans who wish to be in communion with Rome.

Vaticanists are watching closely as to who could be the next successor. Vatican journalist Andrea Tornielli has said it could be Cardinal Angelo Amato, a former secretary of the department, but at 73 years old and being another Italian in a field of Prefects domanited by Italians, he believes the next Prefect could be from another country.

Other possible candidates include the German bishop Gerhardt Ludwig Muller, as well as Roland Minnerath, the bishop of Dijon, France. There is also the Spanish Jesuit Luis Ladaria and the Dominican American Joseph Augustin Di Noia, both of whom were Ratzinger collaborators inside the Doctrine of the Faith.

Whoever the new Prefect may be, he will be assigned to the task of protecting Catholic orthodoxy and promoting Faith. 

St. Jeanne Jugan

Born in northern France during the French Revolution—a time when congregations of women and men religious were being suppressed by the national government, Jeanne would eventually be highly praised in the French academy for her community's compassionate care of elderly poor people.

When Jeanne was three and a half years old, her father, a fisherman, was lost at sea. Her widowed mother was hard pressed to raise her eight children (four died young) alone. At the age of 15 or 16, Jeanne became a kitchen maid for a family that not only cared for its own members, but also served poor, elderly people nearby. Ten years later, Jeanne became a nurse at the hospital in Le Rosais. Soon thereafter she joined a third order group founded by St. John Eudes (August 19).

After six years she became a servant and friend of a woman she met through the third order. They prayed, visited the poor and taught catechism to children. After her friend's death, Jeanne and two other women continued a similar life in the city of Saint-Sevran. In 1839, they brought in their first permanent guest. They began an association, received more members and more guests. Mother Marie of the Cross, as Jeanne was now known, founded six more houses for the elderly by the end of 1849, all staffed by members of her association—the Little Sisters of the Poor. By 1853 the association numbered 500 and had houses as far away as England.

Abbé Le Pailleur, a chaplain, had prevented Jeanne's reelection as superior in 1843; nine year later, he had her assigned to duties within the congregation, but would not allow her to be recognized as its founder. He was removed from office by the Holy See in 1890.

By the time Pope Leo XIII gave her final approval to the community's constitutions in 1879, there were 2,400 Little Sisters of the Poor. Jeanne died later that same year, on August 30. Her cause was introduced in Rome in 1970, and she was beatified in 1982 and canonized in 2009.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"To Think According to the World Is to Put God Aside"

Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds that gathered at Castel Gandolfo.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In today's Gospel, Jesus explains to his disciples that he must "go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised" (Matthew 16:21). Everything seems to be turned upside down in the heart of the disciples! How is it possible that "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (verse 16), can suffer to the point of death?

The Apostle Peter rebels, he does not accept this, so he spoke up and said to the Master: "God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you" (verse 22). What appears evident is the difference between the loving design of the Father, which goes so far as the gift of his only-begotten Son on the cross to save humanity, and the expectations, the desires, the plans of the disciples.

And this discord occurs also today: when the fulfillment of one's life is directed solely to social success, to physical and economic wellbeing, then one no longer reasons according to God, but according to men (verse 23). To think according to the world is to put God aside, not to accept his plan of love, almost impeding the fulfillment of his wise will. Because of this, Jesus says something particularly harsh to Peter: "Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me" (ibid.).

The Lord shows that "the path of the disciples is to follow him, the Crucified. In all three Gospels, however, he explains this following in the sign of the cross ... as the way to 'lose oneself,' which is necessary for man and without which it is not possible for him to find himself" (Gesù di Nazaret, Milan 2007, 333 [cf. Jesus of Nazareth, pg. 287]).

Martyrdom of John the Baptist

Reflection from Blessed Pope John Paul II - 29 August 2004

1. Today, 29 August, Christian tradition commemorates the martyrdom of St John the Baptist; the Messiah himself says in praise of him: "none born of woman is greater" (cf. Lk 7: 28). He gave to God the supreme witness of his blood, sacrificing his life for truth and justice; indeed, his head was cut off at the orders of Herod, whom he had dared to tell that it was not lawful to take his brother's wife (cf. Mc 6: 17-29).

2. In the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, recalling the sacrifice of John the Baptist (cf. n. 91), I observed that martyrdom is "an outstanding sign of the holiness of the Church" (n. 93). Indeed, it "represents the high point of the witness to moral truth" (ibid.).

Although relatively few are called to make this supreme sacrifice, it is nonetheless "a consistent witness which all Christians must daily be ready to make, even at the cost of suffering and grave sacrifice" (ibid.). At times, a truly heroic effort is also needed in daily life, in order not to give in to the difficulties that are an incentive to compromise and to live the Gospel "sine glossa".

3. The heroic example of John the Baptist reminds us of the martyrs for the faith who down the centuries followed courageously in his footsteps. I recall in particular the multitude of Christians in the last century who were also victims of religious hatred in various European nations. Today too, in some parts of the world, believers are still subjected to harsh trials for adhering to Christ and his Church.

May these brothers and sisters of ours feel the full solidarity of the entire Ecclesial Community! Let us entrust them to the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Martyrs, whom we call on together at this moment.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Prayer - For Alcoholics

St. Augustine of Hippo

A Meditation of St. Augustine 

Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new. Too late have I loved you!
You were within me while I had gone outside to seek you. In my unloveliness, I fell heedlessly upon all those lovely things you had made. Always you were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me far from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all.

You called, you shouted, you broke open my deafness. You blazed, you gleamed, you banished my blindness. You lavished your fragrance, I gasped, and now I long for you. I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and now I burn with desire for your peace.
Confessions (X, 27,38)

Twenty-Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

What is the most important investment you can make with your life? 

Jesus poses some probing questions to challenge our assumptions about what is most profitable and worthwhile. In every decision of life we are making ourselves a certain kind of person. The kind of person we are, our character, determines to a large extent the kind of future we will face and live. It is possible that some can gain all the things they set their heart on, only to wake up suddenly and discover that they missed the most important things of all. Of what value are material things if they don't help you gain what truly lasts in eternity. Neither money nor possessions can buy heaven, mend a broken heart, or cheer a lonely person. Jesus asks the question: 

What will a person give in exchange for his life? Everything we have is an out-right gift from God. We owe him everything, including our very lives. It's possible to give God our money, but not ourselves, or to give him lip-service, but not our hearts. A true disciple of Jesus gladly gives up all that he or she has in exchange for an unending life of joy and happiness with God. God gives without measure. The joy he offers no sadness or loss can diminish. The cross of Christ leads to victory and freedom from sin and death. What is the cross which Jesus Christ commands me to take up each day? When my will crosses with his will, then his will must be done. Are you ready to lose all for Jesus Christ in order to gain all with Jesus Christ?

"Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and all my will, all that I have and possess. You have given them to me; to you, O Lord, I restore them; all things are yours, dispose of them according to your will. Give me your love and your grace, for this is enough for me." (Prayer of Ignatius of Loyola, 1491-1556)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Seven Joys of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Also known as The Franciscan Crown Rosary)

The Franciscan Crown Rosary, properly known as "The Franciscan Crown of Our Lady's Joys" dates back to approximately the year 1422. According to tradition, as related by the famous Franciscan historian Father Luke Wadding, a very pious young man who had been admitted to the Franciscan Order in that year was saddened and had decided to return to the world and quit the cloister. Before his entry into the Order, it was his custom to adorn a statue of the Blessed Virgin with a wreath of fresh and beautiful flowers. Now, he was unable to continue his act of piety and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
Our Lady appeared to him and prevented him from taking such a step as he had planned. "Do not be sad and cast down, my son," she said, "because you are no longer permitted to place wreaths of flowers on my statue. I shall teach you to change this pious practice into one that will be far more pleasing to me and more meritorious to your soul. In place of the flowers that soon wither and cannot always be found, you can weave for me a crown from the flowers of your prayers that will always remain fresh and can always be had." When Our Lady had disappeared, the overjoyed Novice at once began to recite the prayers in honor of her Seven Joys, as she had directed. While he was deeply engrossed in this devotion, the Novice Master happened to pass by and saw an angel weaving a marvelous wreath of roses. After every tenth rose, he inserted a golden lily. When the wreath was finished, the angel placed it on the head of the praying Novice. The Novice Master demanded the Novice tell him the meaning of this vision. The joyful Novice complied. The good priest was so impressed that he immediately made it known to his brethren. Thus, the practice of reciting the Franciscan Crown of Our Lady's Joys soon spread as a favorite devotion of the Friars.
The Joys of Mary remembered in the devotion are these:
  • The Annunciation of the Angel to Mary
  • The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
  • The Nativity of Our Lord
  • The Adoration of the Magi
  • The Finding of Jesus in the Temple
  • The Resurrection of Our Lord
  • and The Crowning of Our Lady, Mary, in Heaven as Queen
Excerpted from The Franciscan Order of the Divine Compassion

Breakfast Banana Split

A banana split — for breakfast? Oh yes! This quick, easy, yummy breakfast takes a dessert classic and lightens it up for the morning! Can you guess what's in it?

No, ice cream isn't involved. (Ice cream for breakfast — that seems best saved for birthdays, eh?) To make this banana split you pile scoops of thick Greek yogurt on top of a ripe banana, then drizzle warm jam (instead of chocolate sauce!) and add some almonds and berries. Of course, a cherry on top would be the ideal finishing touch (I was all out).I can't take credit for this brilliant little breakfast — the idea came in a press release from Julia at The Fresh Ideas Group.

Breakfast Banana Split
makes 1 serving

1 ripe yet firm banana, peeled
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fruit jam or preserves
2 tablespoons sliced almonds or other nuts
Handful fresh berries or cherries

Split the banana lengthwise and lay the two halves in a shallow bowl. Use an ice cream scoop to scoop out the yogurt and put it on top of the banana. Warm the jam in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds or until it is very runny. Use a spoon to drizzle the jam over the yogurt, and sprinkle the nuts over everything. Top with the berries or cherries, and dig in!

St. Monica

For thirty years St. Monica prayed with great intensity for her son Augustine who put off being baptized because he did not want to leave his immoral life style and was curious about a heresy called Manichaeism. The holy bishop St. Ambrose told her not to give up, saying: “Let him be, and continue to pray for him; it’s impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost.” And indeed, Augustine was converted and went on to become a great bishop and doctor of the Church. Let us pray for all mothers today, especially those who grieve over their wandering children. Through St. Monica’s intercession may the youth of the world find Christ and be rooted and built up in him. Our reflection is from Pope Benedict’s Angelus Message for this day in 2006.

Today, 27 August, we commemorate St Monica and tomorrow we will be commemorating St Augustine, her son: their witnesses can be of great comfort and help to so many families also in our time. Monica, who was born into a Christian family at Tagaste, today Souk-Aharàs in Algeria, lived her mission as a wife and mother in an exemplary way, helping her husband Patricius to discover the beauty of faith in Christ and the power of evangelical love, which can overcome evil with good.

After his premature death, Monica courageously devoted herself to caring for her three children, including Augustine, who initially caused her suffering with his somewhat rebellious temperament. As Augustine himself was to say, his mother gave birth to him twice; the second time required a lengthy spiritual travail of prayers and tears, but it was crowned at last with the joy of seeing him not only embrace the faith and receive Baptism, but also dedicate himself without reserve to the service of Christ.

How many difficulties there are also today in family relations and how many mothers are in anguish at seeing their children setting out on wrong paths! Monica, a woman whose faith was wise and sound, invites them not to lose heart but to persevere in their mission as wives and mothers, keeping firm their trust in God and clinging with perseverance to prayer.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Avocado oil

Whoa! Did you know that you shouldn't saute at high heat with olive oil? It can release toxic smoke above a certain temperature. So, it is recommended that you use avocado oil, which works perfectly for high-heat cooking and tastes great on salads.

A prayer for peace in our communities

As our country is currently grappling with a state of emergency, I pray for peace in our communities and may the  Lord heal our land.

Gracious God,
We pray for peace in our communities this day.
We commit to you all who work for peace and an end to tensions,
And those who work to uphold law and justice.
We pray for an end to fear,
For comfort and support to those who suffer.
For calm in our streets and cities,
That people may go about their lives in safety and peace.
In your mercy, hear our prayers,
now and always. Amen

Our Lady of Czestochowa (The Black Madonna)

The Black Madonna was painted by St. Luke the Evangelist; and it was while painting the picture, Mary told him about the life of Jesus, which he later incorporated into his gospel. The next time we hear of the painting is in 326 A.D. when St. Helen found it in Jerusalem and gave it to her son and had a shrine built for it in Constantinople. During a battle, the picture was placed on the walls of the city, and the enemy army fled. Our Lady saved the city from destruction. The picture was owned by many other people until 1382 when invading Tartars attacked a Prince Ladislaus' fortress, where the painting was located. A Tartar's arrow lodged into through the throat of the Madonna. The Prince transfered the painting to a church in Czestochowa, Poland.
In 1430, the church was invaded and a looter struck the painting two times with his sword, but before he could strike it another time, he fell to the ground in agony and pain, and died. The sword cuts and the arrow wound are still visible on the painting. The miracles worked by Our Lady of Czestochowa seem to occur mainly on a public scale. During her stay in Constantinople, she is reported to have frightened the besieging Saracens away from the city. Similarly, in 1655 a small group of Polish defenders was able to drive off a much larger army of Swedish invaders from the sanctuary. The following year, the Holy Virgin was acclaimed Queen of Poland by King Casimir.
When the Russians were at Warsaw's gates in 1920, thousands of people walked from Warsaw to Czestochowa to ask the Madonna for help. The Poles defeated the Russians at a battle along the Wisla (or Vistula) River. Today, every school child knows the victory as "The Miracle on the Wisla." During World War II under German occupation, the faithful made pilgrimages as a show of defiance. That spirit deepened during the atheistic years of Soviet-enforced communism. Government attempts to stop the pilgrimages failed.
In the early 1980s, Walesa didn't drape himself in the Polish flag when he was leading the outlawed Solidarity movement; he placed an Our Lady of Czestochowa lapel pin on his jacket. Poles knew it to be a subversive message. Pope John Paul II, a native son of Poland, prayed before the Madonna during his historic visit in 1979, several months after his election to the Chair of Peter. The Pope made another visit to Our Lady of Czestochowa in 1983 and again in 1991.
Why is She Black?
There have been reports for centuries of miraculous events such as spontaneous healings occuring to those who made a pilgrimage to the portrait. It is known as the 'Black Madonna" because of the soot residue that discolors the painting. The soot is the result of centuries of votive lights and candles burning in front of the painting. With the decline of communism in Poland, pilgrimages to the Black Madonna have increased dramatically.
Excerpted from The Mary Page

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Pope announces slogan for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro 2013

( Youth who will gather in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for the international World Youth Day of 2013 will reflect on the theme "Go and Make Disciples of All Nations."

Benedict XVI announced the theme for the next WYD at the end of yesterday's general audience. The audience was dedicated to an evaluation of the 26th WYD held last week in Madrid.

The theme for Rio '13 is taken from Matthew 28:19.

Rio's WYD will be held from July 23-28, 2013, reported L'Osservatore Romano.

The theme chosen by the Pope stresses the missionary character of the next WYD, an element already highlighted by Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro, during a press conference in Madrid on Sunday.

The Holy Father also announced the theme for next year's diocesan-level WYD, traditionally held on Palm Sunday. The 2012 theme will be taken from Philippians 4:4: "Rejoice in the Lord Always!"

Benedict XVI asked today that the faithful already begin to pray for these events.

Pope reflects on World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid

The pope has returned from Madrid to his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo just south of Rome. He was greeted by a number of pilgrims that were also with him at this year's World Youth Day in Madrid. 

Benedict XVI - “Having just returned from Madrid, I greet affectionately the young people present, especially those who were with me for the unforgettable celebration of World Youth Day.” 

Benedict XVI also expressed his gratitude for all the work done to make the meeting of young people possible. 

Benedict XVI -“While I warmly thank those who have made possible the magnificent development of this initiative, I pray through the intercession of Mary, that the young people who participated in it, are rooted and built up in Christ, firm in the faith. Bring the world the joy of the Gospel.” 

World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid was the third meeting of Catholic youth presided over by Benedict XVI.

St. Louis of France

Reigning from 1226 to 1270, Louis IX showed how a saint would act on the throne of France. He was a lovable personality, a kind husband, a father of eleven children, and at the same time a strict ascetic.

To an energetic and prudent rule Louis added love and zeal for the practice of piety and the reception of the holy sacraments. He was brave in battle, polished at feasts, and addicted to fasting and mortification. His politics were grounded upon strict justice, unshatterable fidelity, and untiring effort toward peace. Nevertheless, his was not a weakly rule but one that left its impress upon following generations. He was a great friend of religious Orders, a generous benefactor of the Church.
The Breviary says of him: "He had already been king for twenty years when he fell victim to a severe illness. That afforded the occasion for making a vow to undertake a crusade for the liberation of the Holy Land. Immediately upon recovery he received the crusader's cross from the hand of the bishop of Paris, and, followed by an immense army, he crossed the sea in 1248. On the field of battle Louis routed the Saracens; yet when the plague had taken large numbers of his soldiery, he was attacked and taken captive (1250). The king was forced to make peace with the Saracens; upon the payment of a huge ransom, he and his army were again set at liberty." While on a second crusade he died of the plague, with these words from the psalm upon his lips: "I will enter Thy house; I will worship in Thy holy temple and sing praises to Thy Name!" (Ps. 5).
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: barbers; builders; button makers; construction workers; Crusaders; death of children; difficult marriages; distillers; embroiderers; French monarchs; grooms; haberdashers; hairdressers; hair stylists; kings; masons; needle workers; parenthood; parents of large families; prisoners; sculptors; sick people; soldiers; stone masons; stonecutters; tertiaries; Archdiocese of Saint Louis, Missouri.
Symbols: Crown and scepter tipped with a Manus Dei; crown of thorns; fleurs-de-lys; three nails; banner with fleurs-de-lys; three crowns at his feet; king holding a cross or crown of thorns.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pope ‘almost moved to tears’ during World Youth Day, says cardinal

(CNA).- Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela of Madrid, Spain recalled that Pope Benedict was “emotionally moved many times, almost to tears,” during World Youth Day 2011.

The cardinal said Benedict XVI was especially touched by the theatrical presentation of the Stations of the Cross, which he had initially not planned to attend.

Speaking to the COPE radio network on Aug. 22, Cardinal Rouco said the Pope changed his mind upon learning that the stations would be presented following the traditions of the Holy Week celebrations in Spain, using a combination of chant and prayer.

The cardinal also encouraged Catholics to re-read the Pope’s numerous speeches, which he called a treasure trove of “preaching, proclamation of the word and explanations to young people” based on the gospels and on the World Youth Day theme. This year’s theme was, “Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith,” taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Colossians.

“That was the common thread in all of his homilies, speeches and remarks,” the cardinal added.

St. Bartholomew

In St. John's Gospel, Bartholomew is known by the name Nathaniel (the liturgy does not always seem aware of this identity). He hailed from Cana in Galilee, was one of the first disciples called by the Lord. On that initial meeting Jesus uttered the glorious compliment: "Behold, an Israelite indeed in whom there is no guile!" After the Resurrection he was favored by becoming one of the few apostles who witnessed the appearance of the risen Savior on the sea of Galilee (John 21:2). Following the Ascension he is said to have preached in Greater Armenia and to have been martyred there. While still alive, his skin was torn from his body. The Armenians honor him as the apostle of their nation. Concerning the fate of his relics, the Martyrologysays: "His holy body was first taken to the island of Lipari (north of Sicily), then to Benevento, and finally to Rome on an island in the Tiber where it is honored by the faithful with pious devotion."
The Church of Armenia has a national tradition that St. Jude Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew visited the Armenians early in the first century and introduced Christianity among the worshippers of the god Ahura Mazda. The new faith spread throughout the land, and in 302 A.D., St. Gregory the Illuminator baptized the king of Armenia, Dertad the Great, along with many of his followers. Since Dertad was probably the first ruler to embrace Christianity for his nation, the Armenians proudly claim they were the first Christian State.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: bookbinders; butchers; cobblers; Forentine cheese merchants; Forentine salt merchants; leather workers; nervous diseases; neurological diseases; plasterers; shoemakers; tanners; trappers; twitching; whiteners; Gambatesa, Italy; Armenia.
Symbols: Flaying or tanner's knife and book; three vertical flaying or tanner's knives; human skin; human skin on a cross; devil under his feet; St. Matthew's Gospel; scimitar; cross;
Often Portrayed As: elderly man holding a tanner's knife and a human skin; skinless man holding his own skin.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

WYD 2013: Madrid’s celebration is over but for Rio preparations are just getting started

The next WYD event between 18 and 23 July

More than twenty years on from the meeting in Santiago, in 1987, the WYD returns to Latin America once again. And, as Brazilian bishops themselves explained, the event will be held in two years time as it was in the past, so as to prevent it clashing with the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

During the first press conference held on the subject, the Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, Father Orani João Tempesta and the President of the Brasilian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis expressed the gratitude of the Church in Rio de Janeiro at being chosen as the location for the next WYD celebration and explained how Brazilian Catholics were preparing for the event. Indeed, youngsters began the route of the Cross, which will pass through all of Brazil’s 274 dioceses, in less than two years.

The two prelates gave the first news about the event’s organisation: the World Youth Day will be held in July. And, given how little time Brazil has to prepare for the event, the Pope will soon be announcing the themes of the two messages that will guide the run up to the celebrations. The event’s website will also be created and up and running shortly, while for the Brazilian Church, the whole of 2013 will be the young people’s year and this theme will also be given to the annual brotherhood Campaign. Even Brazilian authorities have granted the event’s organisers, access to the infrastructures that are being built for the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the Olympics in 2016.

World Youth Day Numbers from Madrid 2011

The official numbers for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid have been released. Around 2 million people participated in the event, ranking Madrid as the third most attended World Youth Day. The events with the most people were in Manila, in the Philipines in 1995 and Rome in 2000.

This year there were 193 nations represented. The countries with the most particpants were Italy, Spain, and France.

Church organizers say the event cost around 50 million euros, close to 72 million dollars. This came from the registration fee paid by the participants as well as donations from corporate sponsors.

To help with crowd control, over 18,000 police and civil servants were present. As well as 30,000 volunteers, placed throughout the city, who were handing out bottles of water.

Also 14,000 priests and 800 bishops concelebrated the closing Mass with Benedict XVI in the Cuatro Vientos Aerodrome. This was the size of 48 soccer fields.

The event also accredited more than 5,000 journalists from around the world to cover the twenty-sixth World Youth Day, the third such event presided over by Benedict XVI.

St. Rose of Lima

Rose of Lima, a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic, was the "first blossom of sanctity that South America gave to the world." Hers was a life heroic in virtue and penance. She expiated the evils perpetrated by the conquerors of the land in their lust for gold. For many her life was a silent sermon of penance. Pope Clement X stated in the bull of canonization: "Since the discovery of Peru no missionary has arisen who effected a similar popular zeal for the practice of penance."
Already as a five-year-old child (born 1586), Rose vowed her innocence to God. While still a young girl, she practiced mortifications and fasts that exceeded ordinary discretion; during all of Lent she ate no bread, but subsisted on five citron seeds a day. In addition, she suffered repeated attacks from the devil, painful bodily ailments, and from her family, scoldings and calumnies. All this she accepted serenely, remarking that she was treated better than she deserved. For fifteen years she patiently endured the severest spiritual abandonment and aridity. In reward came heavenly joys, the comforting companionship of her holy guardian angel and of the Blessed Virgin. August 24, 1617, proved to be the day "on which the paradise of her heavenly Bridegroom unlocked itself to her."
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Against vanity; Americas; Central America; embroiderers; florists; gardeners; India; Latin America; needle workers; New World; people ridiculed for their piety; Peru; Phillipines; diocese of Santa Rosa, California; South America; vanity; Villareal Samar, Phillipines; West Indies.
Symbols: Crown of roses and thorns; needle and thimble; spiked crown; iron chain; Anchor Holy Infant; roses.
Often Portrayed As: Dominican tertiary holding roses; Dominican tertiary accompanied by the Holy Infant.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Best images from World Youth Day 2011

Rio de Janeiro to host next World Youth Day

At the end of Sunday's WYD mass in Madrid, Pope Benedict recited the Angelus prayer and entrusted the hundreds of thousands of young pilgrims present to the care of Our Lady. He also announced that the next World Youth Day will be celebrated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2013. Read the text of his remarks below:

Dear Friends,

You are now about to go back home. Your friends will want to know how you have changed after being in this lovely city with the Pope and with hundreds of thousands of other young people from around the world. What are you going to tell them? I invite you to give a bold witness of Christian living to them. In this way you will give birth to new Christians and will help the Church grow strongly in the hearts of many others. 

During these days, how often I have thought of the young people at home who are waiting for your return! Take my affectionate greetings to them, to those less fortunate, to your families and to the Christian communities that you come from. 

Let me also express my gratitude to the Bishops and priests who are present in such great numbers at this Day. To them all I extend my deepest thanks, encouraging them to continue to work pastorally among young people with enthusiasm and dedication.

[Spanish] I greet the Archbishop of the Forces affectionately and I warmly thank the Spanish Air Force, which very generously permitted Cuatro Vientos Air Base on this, the centenary of the foundation of the Spanish Air Force. I place all Spanish Air Force personnel and their families under the maternal protection of Our Lady of Loreto. 

In this context, I recall that yesterday marked the third anniversary of the grave accident at Barajas Airport which caused many deaths and injuries, and I express my spiritual closeness and my deep affection for all those touched by that unfortunate event, and well as for the families of the victims, whose souls we commend to the mercy of God.

I am pleased now to announce that the next World Youth Day will be held in 2013, in Rio de Janeiro. Even now, let us ask the Lord to assist all those who will organize it, and to ease the journey there of young people from all over the world, so that they will be able to join me in that beautiful city of Brazil. 

Dear friends, before we say good-bye, and while the young people of Spain pass on the World Youth Day cross to the young people of Brazil, as Successor of Peter I entrust all of you present with this task: make the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ known to the whole world! He wants you to be the apostles of the twenty-first century and the messengers of his joy. Do not let him down! Thank you very much.

[French] My dear young people of the French-speaking world, today Christ asks you to be rooted in him and with him, to build your lives upon him who is our rock. He sends you out to be his witnesses, courageous and without anxiety, authentic and credible! Do not be afraid to be Catholic, and to be witnesses to those around you in simplicity and sincerity! Let the Church find in you and in your youthfulness joyful missionaries of the Good News of salvation! 

[English] I greet all the English-speaking young people present here today! As you return home, take back with you the good news of Christ’s love which we have experienced in these unforgettable days. Fix your eyes upon him, deepen your knowledge of the Gospel and bring forth abundant fruit! God bless all of you until we meet again!

[German] My dear friends! Faith is not a theory. To believe is to enter into a personal relationship with Jesus and to live in friendship with him in fellowship with others, in the communion of the Church. Entrust the whole of your lives to Christ and bring your friends to find their way to the source of life, to God. May the Lord make you happy and joy-filled witnesses of his love. 

[Italian] My dear young Italians! Greetings to all of you. The Eucharist that we have celebrated is the risen Christ present and living in our midst: through him, your lives are rooted and built upon Christ, strong in faith. With this confidence, depart from Madrid and tell everyone what you have seen and heard. Respond with joy to the Lord’s call, follow him and remain always united to him: you will bear much fruit!

[Portuguese] Dear Portuguese-speaking young people and friends, you have met Jesus Christ! You will be swimming against the tide in a society with a relativistic culture which wishes neither to seek nor hold on to the truth. But it was for this moment in history, with its great challenges and opportunities, that the Lord sent you, so that, through your faith, the Good News of Jesus might continue to resound throughout the earth. I hope to see you again in two years’ time at the nest World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Till then, let us pray for each other, witnessing to the joy that brings forth life, rooted in and built upon Christ. Until we meet again, my dear young people! God bless you all! 

[Polish] Dear young Poles, strong in the faith, rooted in Christ! May the gifts you have received from God during these days bear in you abundant fruit. Be his witnesses. Take to others the message of the Gospel. With your prayers and example of life, help Europe to rediscover its Christian roots.

WYD - Farewell ceremony at Madrid-Barajas International Airport (August 21, 2011)

Your Majesties,
Distinguished National, Autonomous Regional and Local Authorities,
Your Eminence the Archbishop of Madrid and President of the Spanish Episcopal Conference,
Your Eminences and Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

The time has come for us to say good-bye. These days spent in Madrid, in the company of so many young people from Spain and from throughout the world, will remain deeply etched in my mind and heart.

Your Majesty, the Pope felt at home in Spain! And the young people who were the heart of this World Youth Day found a warm welcome here and in the many cities and towns of the country, which they were able to visit in the days before these celebrations.

I thank Your Majesty for your gracious words and for your presence at my arrival in Spain and now at my departure. I thank the national, autonomous regional and local authorities for the helpfulness and understanding which they showed before this international event. I also thank the thousands of volunteers who ensured the orderly unfolding of the many activities of this meeting: the various literary, musical, cultural and religious events of the Festival joven, the catecheses given by the Bishops and the main events in the presence of the Successor of Peter. I thank the police and security forces, and all those who helped by providing a wide variety of services: from the music and the liturgy to the details of transportation, health care and meals.

Spain is a great nation whose soundly open, pluralistic and respectful society is capable of moving forward without surrendering its profoundly religious and Catholic soul. In these days, it once more made this clear, revealing its technical and human resources in the service of an undertaking of immense consequence and promise: that of helping young people to become more deeply rooted in Jesus Christ, our Saviour.

A particular word of gratitude is due to the organizers of World Youth Day: to the Cardinal President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity and all the personnel of that Office, to the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, his Auxiliary Bishops and the whole Archdiocese, and in particular to the General Coordinator, Monsignor César Augusto Franco Martinez, and the many generous members of his staff. The Bishops worked generously and diligently in their Dioceses to prepare for the celebrations, together with their priests, consecrated persons and the lay faithful. To all I express my gratitude and I pray that the Lord will bless your apostolic labors.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Queenship of Mary

In his 1954 encyclical “Ad Coeli Reginam”, Pope Pius XII instituted today’s feast day. At first it was celebrated on May 31 to coincide with the May crowning tradition, but in the 1960’s it was moved to the eighth day after the Solemnity of her Assumption. According to the Second Vatican Council document “Lumen Gentium” #59, “The Immaculate Virgin … was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory when her earthly life was over, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords (Revelation 19:16) and conqueror of sin and death.” Let us now turn to our Queen and Mother and ask her to intercede for the Body of Christ her Son. May the young people of our world be rooted and built up in Christ and may Western Christians be open to the action of the Holy Spirit as Mary was. Our reflection is from the beginning of Pope Pius XII’s encyclical.

From the earliest ages of the Catholic Church a Christian people, whether in time of triumph or more especially in time of crisis, has addressed prayers of petition and hymns of praise and veneration to the Queen of Heaven. And never has that hope wavered which they placed in the Mother of the Divine King, Jesus Christ; nor has that faith ever failed by which we are taught that Mary, the Virgin Mother of God, reigns with a mother's solicitude over the entire world, just as she is crowned in heavenly blessedness with the glory of a Queen.

Following upon the frightful calamities which before Our very eyes have reduced flourishing cities, towns, and villages to ruins, We see to Our sorrow that many great moral evils are being spread abroad in what may be described as a violent flood. Occasionally We behold justice giving way; and, on the one hand and the other, the victory of the powers of corruption. The threat of this fearful crisis fills Us with a great anguish, and so with confidence We have recourse to Mary Our Queen, making known to her those sentiments of filial reverence which are not Ours alone, but which belong to all those who glory in the name of Christian.

Holy Mass on the occasion of the 26th World Youth Day at Cuatro Vientos Airport (August 21, 2011)

Pilgrims attend a mass led by Pope Benedict XVI at the Cuatro Vientos aerodrome as part of World Youth Day festivities in Madrid August 21, 2011.

Dear Young Friends:

I have been thinking a lot about you during this time in which we have been separated. I hope you have been able to get some sleep in spite of the weather. I am sure that since dawn you have raised up your eyes more than once, and not only your eyes but above all your hearts, turning this occasion into prayer. God turns all things into good. With this confidence and trusting in the Lord who never abandons us, let us begin our Eucharistic celebration, full of enthusiasm and strong in our faith.



Dear Young People,

In this celebration of the Eucharist we have reached the high point of this World Youth Day. Seeing you here, gathered in such great numbers from all parts of the world, fills my heart with joy. I think of the special love with which Jesus is looking upon you. Yes, the Lord loves you and calls you his friends (cf. Jn 15:15). He goes out to meet you and he wants to accompany you on your journey, to open the door to a life of fulfilment and to give you a share in his own closeness to the Father. For our part, we have come to know the immensity of his love and we want to respond generously to his love by sharing with others the joy we have received. Certainly, there are many people today who feel attracted by the figure of Christ and want to know him better. They realize that he is the answer to so many of our deepest concerns. But who is he really? How can someone who lived on this earth so long ago have anything in common with me today?

The Gospel we have just heard (cf. Mt 16:13-20) suggests two different ways of knowing Christ. The first is an impersonal knowledge, one based on current opinion. When Jesus asks: “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”, the disciples answer: “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets”. In other words, Christ is seen as yet another religious figure, like those who came before him. Then Jesus turns to the disciples and asks them: “But who do you say that I am?” Peter responds with what is the first confession of faith: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God”. Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth. 

Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven”. Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life. Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation. So Jesus’ question: “But who do you say that I am?”, is ultimately a challenge to the disciples to make a personal decision in his regard. Faith in Christ and discipleship are strictly interconnected. 

And, since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus. Peter and the other disciples also had to grow in this way, until their encounter with the Risen Lord opened their eyes to the fullness of faith.

Dear young people, today Christ is asking you the same question which he asked the Apostles: “Who do you say that I am?” Respond to him with generosity and courage, as befits young hearts like your own. Say to him: “Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.

Prayer vigil with the young people at Cuatro Vientos Airport (August 20, 2011)

Sudden, driving rain and strong winds prevented Pope Benedict from reading his entire Homily to young people gathered for a prayer vigil at Madrid's 'Cuatro Vientos' airport on Saturday evening. You will be able to read the integral text below:

Dear Young Friends,

I greet all of you, especially the young people who have asked me their questions, and I thank them for the sincerity with which they set forth their concerns, that express the longing which all of you have to achieve something great in life, something which can bring you fulfilment and happiness.

How can a young person be true to the faith and yet continue to aspire to high ideals in today’s society? In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus gives us an answer to this urgent question: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).

Yes, dear friends, God loves us. This is the great truth of our life; it is what makes everything else meaningful. We are not the product of blind chance or absurdity; instead our life originates as part of a loving plan of God. To abide in his love, then, means living a life rooted in faith, since faith is more than the mere acceptance of certain abstract truths: it is an intimate relationship with Christ, who enables us to open our hearts to this mystery of love and to live as men and women conscious of being loved by God.

If you abide in the love of Christ, rooted in the faith, you will encounter, even amid setbacks and suffering, the source of true happiness and joy. Faith does not run counter to your highest ideals; on the contrary, it elevates and perfects those ideals. Dear young people, do not be satisfied with anything less than Truth and Love, do not be content with anything less than Christ.