Saturday, December 31, 2011

Te Deum

Te Deum, also sometimes called the Ambrosian Hymn because of its association with St. Ambrose, is a traditional hymn of joy and thanksgiving. First attributed to Sts. Ambrose, Augustine, or Hilary, it is now accredited to Nicetas, Bishop of Remesiana; (4th century). It is used at the conclusion of the Office of the Readings for the Liturgy of the Hours on Sundays outside Lent, daily during the Octaves of Christmas and Easter, and on Solemnities and Feast Days. The petitions at the end were added at a later time and are optional. A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite it in thanksgiving and a plenary indulgence is granted if the hymn is recited publicly on the last day of the year.

Te Deum

O God, we praise Thee, and acknowledge Thee to be the supreme Lord.
Everlasting Father, all the earth worships Thee.
All the Angels, the heavens and all angelic powers,
All the Cherubim and Seraphim, continuously cry to Thee:
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts!
Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of Thy glory.
The glorious choir of the Apostles,
The wonderful company of Prophets,
The white-robed army of Martyrs, praise Thee.
Holy Church throughout the world acknowledges Thee:
The Father of infinite Majesty;
Thy adorable, true and only Son;
Also the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
O Christ, Thou art the King of glory!
Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
When Thou tookest it upon Thyself to deliver man,
Thou didst not disdain the Virgin's womb.
Having overcome the sting of death, Thou opened the Kingdom of Heaven to all
Thou sitest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We believe that Thou willst come to be our Judge.
We, therefore, beg Thee to help Thy servants whom Thou hast redeemed with Thy
Precious Blood.
Let them be numbered with Thy Saints in everlasting glory.

V. Save Thy people, O Lord, and bless Thy inheritance!
R. Govern them, and raise them up forever.

V. Every day we thank Thee.
R. And we praise Thy Name forever, yes, forever and ever.

V. O Lord, deign to keep us from sin this day.
R. Have mercy on us, O Lord, have mercy on us.

V. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, for we have hoped in Thee.
R. O Lord, in Thee I have put my trust; let me never be put to shame.

Happy New Year!

Hello Friends! How are you? Do you have an exciting event to attend (hopefully involving sequins!) for New Year’s Eve? We are making simple plans with the kids. I’m betting they will include watching movies and lighting fireworks at midnight. : )

At the end of this year…, before consigning the days and hours to God and to his just and merciful judgment, I feel the need in my heart to raise our “thank you” to him for his love for us.

Happy New Year to each of you! 

Patron Saint for the Year Devotion

What is the Saint for the Year Devotion?

Matthew from A Catholic Life provide an explanation for this customs as told by St. Faustina in her diary, Divine Mercy in my Soul: The excerpt is below:
“There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year's Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year. In the morning during meditation, there arose within me a secret desire that the Eucharistic Jesus be my special Patron for this year also, as in the past. But, hiding this desire from my Beloved, I spoke to Him about everything else but that. When we came to refectory for breakfast, we blessed ourselves and began drawing our patrons. When I approached the holy cards on which the names of the patrons were written, without hesitation I took one, but I didn't read the name immediately as I wanted to mortify myself for a few minutes. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my soul: ‘I am your patron. Read.’ I looked at once at the inscription and read, ‘Patron for the Year 1935 - the Most Blessed Eucharist.’ My heart leapt with joy, and I slipped quietly away from the sisters and went for a short visit before the Blessed Sacrament, where I poured out my heart. But Jesus sweetly admonished me that I should be at that moment together with the sisters. I went immediately in obedience to the rule.”Excerpt from Divine Mercy in My Soul, the Diary of St. Faustina.
"You can either contact Matthew or like me choose your saint for yourself and family from the Saint’s Name Generator.

Here is my patron saints for 2012:

Family – St Paula of Rome
Me - Blessed Margaret of Castello

These are two saints how I know little of: St. Paula was married and a mother of five which makes her an appropriate saint for our family of six.

My saint Blessed Margaaret of Castello is the patron saint against poverty, disabled people, handicapped people, people rejected by religious orders, physically challenged people and Right To Life groups. 

This has touched me greatly as early in January 2012 my 4 month old niece Chloe will undergo a hole in the heart surgery in the United States. Chole was also born with downs syndrome and I will be calling on this blessed saint for a safe and speedy operation for my dear niece. 

Let me know which saint is your Patron Saint for the Year.

The Vatican's top 10 stories of 2011

It was a year full of emotions, challenges and excitement. Now, ROME REPORTS is reviewing the Vatican's top ten stories of 2011, to fully understand the year and also to welcome the next.

Ranking in at number ten, is the pope's first tweet, sent from an iPad. This year, the pope asked Catholics to learn how to speak with God, by using different mediums. Here, he led by example.

Story number nine deals with the world economic crisis. The Vatican released a document stating that there should be different rules for investment and commercial banks. The text was released by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Among other things, it said the economic crisis is caused by an ethical crisis.

In eighth place, is the pope's second trip to Africa. In mid November, Benedict XVI visited Benin. During his visit he asked the Church to help promote reconciliation, justice and peace in the continent.

The seventh story of 2011 deals with the violent death of several Coptic Christians in Egypt. It happened back in October, when a group took to the streets to speak out against the recent burning of a church. A conflict began between the group and the military. In the end 26 people died, hundreds were injured.

Benedict XVI
October 12th, 2011
“I feel the sorrow of the victim's families and all the Egyptian people.”

The sixth story is the pope's call for a “Year of Faith,” which will run from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013. The initiative is meant to promote the “New Evangelization” in the Western world.

In fifth place is the publication of the pope's book, “Jesus of Nazareth.” This second volume focuses on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. The book highlights the historical life of Jesus, emphasizing that the Jesus referred to in the Gospels truly existed and was indeed God.

Coming in at number four is the inter-religious meeting in Assisi. Along with the pope, other Christians, Muslims, Buddhist and even agnostics from all over the world, vowed to build peace in the world.

Benedict XVI
“In the name of the Lord, may every religion bring to Earth justice, peace, forgiveness, life and love.”

This year's number three story is World Youth Day in Madrid. During those four days, roughly 1.5 million youths gathered in Madrid to hear the pope speak. He called on them to take their faith seriously and with enthusiasm. But there was also an unexpected enemy: a heavy storm that fell during one of the pope's ceremonies.

In second place is the pope's trip to Germany. In just four days he gave 17 speeches, while visiting Berlin, Freiburg and Erfurt Among them, was a speech he gave to Germany's parliament in which he challenged politicians to do what's right and not only what's popular.

Benedict XVI
“For most of the matters that need to be regulated by law, the support of the majority can serve as a sufficient criterion. Yet it is evident that for the fundamental issues of law, in which the dignity of man and of humanity is at stake, the majority principle is not enough.”

Ranking in at number one is the beatification of John Paul II. Six years after passing away, Benedict XVI raised John Paul II to the altars, making him the most popular blessed. His powerful message in which he called on people to “Not be afraid, and open the doors of the world to Christ,” came alive once again, in St. Peter's Square.

Optional Memorial of St. Sylvester I, pope

Today is the seventh day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the optional memorial of St. Sylvester I, pope and confessor. He ruled the Church during the reign of Constantine when the Arian heresy and the Donatist schism had provoked great discord. He convoked the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea.

St. Sylvester
St. Sylvester, a native Roman, was chosen by God to govern His holy Church during the first years of Her temporal prosperity and triumph over Her persecuting enemies. Pope Melchiades died in January, 314. St. Sylvester was chosen as his successor. He governed the Church for more than twenty-one years, ably organizing the discipline of the Roman Church, and taking part in the negotiations concerning Arianism and the Council of Nicaea. He also sent Legates to the first Ecumenical Council.

During his Pontificate were built the great churches founded at Rome by Constantine — the Basilica and baptistery of the Lateran, the Basilica of the Sessorian palace (Santa Croce), the Church of St. Peter in the Vatican, and several cemeterial churches over the graves of martyrs. No doubt St. Sylvester helped towards the construction of these churches. He was a friend of Emperor Constantine, confirmed the first General Council of Nicaea (325), and gave the Church a new discipline for the new era of peace. He might be called the first "peace Pope" after centuries of bloody persecution. He also established the Roman school of singing. On the Via Salaria he built a cemeterial church over the Catacomb of St. Priscilla, and it was in this church that he was buried when he died on December 31, 335.
Numerous legends dramatize his life and work, e.g., how he freed Constantine from leprosy by baptism; how he killed a ferocious dragon that was contaminating the air with his poisonous breath. Such legends were meant to portray the effects of baptism and Christianity's triumph over idolatry. For a long time the feast of St. Sylvester was a holyday of obligation. The Divine Office notes: He called the weekdays feria, because for the Christian every day is a "free day" (the term is still in use; thus Monday is feria secunda.).
Compiled from Heavenly Friends, Rosalie Marie Levy and The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Friday, December 30, 2011

The Sixth Day of Christmas - Feast of the Holy Family

Today we reflect on Pope Benedict’s Angelus Address for this feast last year.

In the poor grotto of Bethlehem — the Fathers of the Church wrote — shines a very bright light, a reflection of the profound mystery which envelopes that Child, which Mary and Joseph cherish in their hearts and which can be seen in their expression, in their actions, and especially in their silence. …

Yet every child’s birth brings something of this mystery with it! Parents who receive a child as a gift know this well and often speak of it in this way. We have all heard people say to a father and a mother: “this child is a gift, a miracle!”. Indeed, human beings do not experience procreation merely as a reproductive act but perceive its richness and intuit that every human creature who is born on earth is the “sign” par excellence of the Creator and Father who is in Heaven.

How important it is, therefore, that every child coming into the world be welcomed by the warmth of a family! External comforts do not matter: Jesus was born in a stable and had a manger as his first cradle, but the love of Mary and of Joseph made him feel the tenderness and beauty of being loved. Children need this: the love of their father and mother. It is this that gives them security and, as they grow, enables them to discover the meaning of life. The Holy Family of Nazareth went through many trials…. Yet, trusting in divine Providence, they found their stability and guaranteed Jesus a serene childhood and a sound upbringing.

Dear friends, the Holy Family is of course unique and unrepeatable, but at the same time it is a “model of life” for every family because Jesus, true man, chose to be born into a human family and thereby blessed and consecrated it. Let us therefore entrust all families to Our Lady and to St Joseph, so that they do not lose heart in the face of trials and difficulties but always cultivate conjugal love and devote themselves with trust to the service of life and education.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Optional Memorial of St. Thomas Becket, bishop and martyr

Fifth Day in the Octave of Christmas.

Today’s saint was named chancellor of England by King Henry II in 1154. When the Archbishop of Canterbury died, the king, hoping to have someone he could control in that position, chose Thomas to replace him. But once Thomas began serving the Church he no longer went along with the king’s plans. This led to a fierce conflict, Thomas’ exile to France for several years, and the king’s excommunication. In a fit of anger, King Henry shouted “Who will rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four of his knights, hoping to win the kings special favor, went to Canterbury Cathedral and killed Thomas. As he died he declared, “For the name of Jesus and in defense of the Church, I am willing to die.” The poet T. S. Eliot’s play “Murder in the Cathedral” and the 1964 movie “Becket” are based on our saint’s life and death. As we pray for peace among all peoples and for children and youth, we ask God that the hearts of all may be converted so that we may courageously witness to the sanctity of human life. This reflection is from Pope Benedict as quoted in the book “Let God’s Light Shine Forth.”

The arrogance that makes us thing that we ourselves can create human beings has turned man into a kind of merchandise, to be bought and sold, or stored to provide parts for experimentation. In doing this, we hope to conquer death by our own efforts, yet in reality we are profoundly debasing human dignity. Lord help us; we have fallen. Help us to abandon our destructive pride and, by learning from Your humility, to rise again.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Pray for the security of our Christian brothers and sisters and for PEACE!

Time magazine this year declared the Protester to be the 'Person of the Year' - and certainly 2011 was an extraordinary year of protests and revolutions. But it was not the first year to be noted as such - and one event that began a revolution that continues to this day was the birth of Jesus Christ in Bethlehem, which we celebrated last Sunday.

The revolution that Jesus began was not begun with riots and violence, but with a revolution of grace and peace.

Christian brothers and sisters of ours shed their blood and died this Christmas, as did St Stephen whose martyrdom we recently celebrated and the Holy Innocents whose sacrifice we celebrate today.

Let us pray for the security of our Christian brothers and sisters and for PEACE!

Best of 2011. March: Pope publishes new book

In March, Benedict XVI received the Chilean president Sebastián Piñera at the Vatican. During the meeting, the pope asked about the recovery of miners who were trapped for more than two months 2000 feet below ground.

The pope then met with the executive director of the UN's World Food Programme. They mostly spoke about the humanitarian crisis at that time in Libya.

It was in March when the only Catholic minister in Pakistan's government was assassinated.Shahbaz Bhatti died at 42. He was in charge of the country's religious minorities. He had received several death threats after trying to repeal the blasphemy law in Pakistan, the law which provides the death penalty against anyone who insults Islam or the prophet Mohammed.

In March, Cardinal Marc Ouellet introduced the second volume of Pope's book “Jesus of Nazareth”. The writing reflects on the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ. For it's release, 1.2 million copies were published in 7 languages. 

In preparation for Easter, the pope and cardinals from the Curia took in a spiritual retreat. The priest and Carmelite François-Marie Lethel was responsible for preaching the meditations. The common thread was one of the great events of the year in the Vatican.

Fr. François-Marie Lethel -Preacher for Papal Spiritual Exercises

“We had to present these spiritual exercises as a preparation for the big event of the year, the beatification of John Paul II.”

Near the end of the month, Benedict visited the Ardeatine Caves near Rome, where the German army shot 335 civilians in 1944. For this historic visit, he was accompanied by the Chief Rabbi of Rome. Benedict called the massacre a “grave offense to God.”

Benedict XVI 

“What occurred here on March 24, 1944 was a grave offense to God because it is deliberate violence of man against man.”

Toward the end of the month, the pope blessed the new parish of St. Corbinian at Infernetto in Rome. The church is located in the south of the city in an area called “Infernetto,” where the city's coal used to be produced. The parish is named after the patron saint of the pope's home country of Germany, as a gift from Rome to the German bishops.

Best of 2011. February: Vatican Radio turns 80

During the month of February, the Vatican published new data on the Church. According to its Central Statistics Office, 809 priests were ordained in the 2009. The number actually shows an increase of 1.4% when compared to the last ten years. The continent with the highest vocation growth is Africa.

Benedict XVI welcomed Russia's president, Dmitry Medvedev to the Vatican. It was actually their first meeting, after the Holy See and Russia established full diplomatic relations. Up until a few months ago, both states only had 'permanent representatives' and not resident ambassadors. 

During that month, 68 year old Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran was appointed the new Cardinal Protodeacon, meaning he's in charge of announcing the famous “Habemus Papam,” phrase, once a pope is elected by the conclave. 

Cardinal Tauran is also responsible for the Vatican's inter-religious dialogue, especially with the Muslim world.

In addition, Vatican Radio celebrated its 80th anniversary. To kick off the celebration, an exhibit showcasing the most commemorative events of 2011, opened at the Vatican Museum. 

The Fourth Day of Christmas - Feast of the Holy Innocents, martyrs

A Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, who lived shortly after the time of Jesus, called King Herod a “man of great barbarity.” King Herod was the puppet king of Israel when Jesus was born. Afraid of losing his power when he heard from the Magi that a new king had been born, he “ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under” (Matthew 2: 16). Jesus escaped when His parents fled with Him to Egypt. Thus the Son of God began His earthly life under the threat of murder and as a refugee. With the Holy Innocents in mind today, we pray for the children of our world, that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation. We also pray for harmony and peace among all people. Our reflection is from Fr. Benedict Groeschel’s book “Behold, He Comes.”

If the death of Stephen is a startling contrast to the joy of Christ’s birth, then today’s message seems a complete contradiction of the whole account of the coming of the Prince of Peace. … Why is it here amid Christmas carols and family visits in the middle of Christmas week? I think it is because the Christian must be prepared to have the good news of Christ challenged, not only by the unbelief of men but also by the darkest possible events of life. This sorrowful day is a reminder of all the persecutions, all the tyrannies, all the atrocious evils that can and will happen in the centuries ahead. The coming of the Prince of Peace did not stop criminal abominations like Auschwitz, or even natural disasters like earthquakes and tornadoes.

The cries of slaughtered children, called so poetically the Holy Innocents, echo loudly through our time. For those deeply committed to the cause of life this is a day of pilgrimage and prayerful reparation and fervent petition to end the slaughter of children in our own time. In Bethlehem there could have been no more than a few dozen baby boys under two years of age. The ranks have swelled to tens of millions of babies legally killed and dismembered in a way that eerily reminds us of the medieval painting of that terrible event. The Holy Innocents call to Christians over the centuries to raise their voices against evil and injustice. Christ’s peace is not a passive state of dreamy harmony that one sees in living-room paintings. Christ’s peace is the victory prize in a relentless conflict lasting until the end of the world. But the believer has hope in the ultimate victory….

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Best of 2011. January: Beatification of John Paul II announced

2011 began with some unexpected news. On January 14 the Vatican announced the beatification of John Paul II.

Fr. Federico Lombardi - Vatican spokesman -(January 14, 2011)

“The pope has approved the beatification to take place on May 1 of this year. It will be on the Sunday of Divine Mercy, an important date in his life and in his encounter with God.”

During the last weeks of 2010, doctors and experts from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints reaffirmed that the healing of a French nun Marie Simon Pierre couldn't be scientifically explained. The pope then approved the miracle. 

In January, Benedict XVI visited the children in Rome's Gemelli Polyclinic hospital. He explained the meaning of Christmas to them and blessed the care center for children with spina bifida. One day later he baptized 21 children of Vatican employees. The ceremony took place in the Sistine Chapel.

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

Today is the third day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. John, apostle and evangelist. Born in Bethsaida, he was called while mending his nets to follow Jesus. He became the beloved disciple of Jesus. He wrote the fourth Gospel, three Epistles and the Apocalypse. His passages on the pre-existence of the Word, who by His Incarnation became the light of the world and the life of our souls, are among the finest of the New Testament. He is the evangelist of the divinity of Christ and His fraternal love. With James, his brother, and Simon Peter, he was one of the witnesses of the Transfiguration. At the Last Supper, he leans on the Master's breast. At the foot of the cross, Jesus entrusts His Mother to his care. John's pure life kept him very close to Jesus and Mary in years to come. John was exiled to the island of Patmos under Emperor Domitian.

St. John
St. John, the Evangelist, who is styled in the Gospel, "the beloved disciple", was a Galilean, son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother to St. James the Greater, both of whom were fishermen. The two were called by Jesus to be disciples as they were mending their nets by the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus showed St. John particular instances of kindness and affection above all the rest. He had the happiness to be present with Peter and James at the Transfiguration of Christ, and was permitted to witness His agony in the Garden. He was allowed to rest on Our Savior's bosom at the Last Supper, and to him Jesus confided the care of His holy Mother as He hung dying on the Cross.
St. John was the only one of the Apostles who did not forsake the Savior in the hour of His Passion and Death.
It seems that St. John remained for a long time in Jerusalem, but that his later years were spent at Ephesus, whence he founded many churches in Asia Minor. St. John wrote his Gospel after the other Evangelists, about sixty-three years after the Ascension of Christ; also three Epistles, and the wonderful and mysterious Book of the Apocalypse or Revelation. He was brought to Rome and, according to tradition, was cast into a caldron of boiling oil by order of Emperor Domitian. Like the Three Children in the fiery furnace of Babylon, he was miraculously preserved unhurt.
He was later exiled to the Island of Patmos, where he wrote the Apocalypse, but afterwards returned to Ephesus.
In his extreme old age he continued to visit the churches of Asia. St. Jerome relates that when age and weakness grew upon him so that he was no longer able to preach to the people, he would be carried to the assembly of the faithful by his discip

Monday, December 26, 2011


Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!

Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture. The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all.

This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary. He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2).

This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7). This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!”

The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.

Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine. Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation.

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.

Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried.

May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.

May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan. May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good.

May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”

Feast of St. Stephen, first martyr

Today is the second day in the octave of Christmas. The Church celebrates the Feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Stoned outside Jerusalem, he died praying for his executioners. He was one of the seven deacons who helped the apostles; he was "filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit," and was "full of fortitude." The Church draws a comparison between the disciple and his Master, emphasizing the imitation of Christ even unto the complete gift of self. His name is included in the Roman Canon.
St. Stephen
The deacon Stephen, stoned in Jerusalem two years after the death of Christ, has always been the object of very special veneration by the faithful. He is the first martyr. The account in the Acts of the Apostles relating his arrest and the accusations brought against him emphasize the parallel with our Saviour's trial; he was stoned outside the city wall and died, like his Master, praying for his executioners.

Stephen belongs to the group of seven deacons whom the Apostles associated with their work in order to lighten their load. He was "filled with faith and with the Holy Spirit," "full of grace and strength" he showed himself as a man of God, radiating divine grace and apostolic zeal. As the first witness to Christ he confronted his opponents with quiet courage and the promise made by Jesus (Mark 13.11) was fulfilled: ". . .Disputing with Stephen they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit that spoke."
In St. Stephen, the first martyr, the liturgy emphasizes the imitator of Christ even to the extent of the complete gift of self, to the extent of that great charity which made him pray in his suffering for his executioners. By establishing the feast on the day after Christmas the Church draws an even closer comparison between the disciple and the Master and thus extends his witness to the whole mission of the redeeming Messiah.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Christ has been born for us: come, let us worship him.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI’s Midnight Mass Homily:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The reading from Saint Paul’s Letter to Titus that we have just heard begins solemnly with the word “apparuit”, which then comes back again in the reading at the Dawn Mass: apparuit – “there has appeared”. This is a programmatic word, by which the Church seeks to express synthetically the essence of Christmas. Formerly, people had spoken of God and formed human images of him in all sorts of different ways. God himself had spoken in many and various ways to mankind (cf. Heb 1:1 – Mass during the Day). But now something new has happened: he has appeared. He has revealed himself. He has emerged from the inaccessible light in which he dwells. He himself has come into our midst. This was the great joy of Christmas for the early Church: God has appeared. No longer is he merely an idea, no longer do we have to form a picture of him on the basis of mere words. He has “appeared”. But now we ask: how has he appeared? Who is he in reality? The reading at the Dawn Mass goes on to say: “the kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed” (Tit 3:4). For the people of pre-Christian times, whose response to the terrors and contradictions of the world was to fear that God himself might not be good either, that he too might well be cruel and arbitrary, this was a real “epiphany”, the great light that has appeared to us: God is pure goodness. Today too, people who are no longer able to recognize God through faith are asking whether the ultimate power that underpins and sustains the world is truly good, or whether evil is just as powerful and primordial as the good and the beautiful which we encounter in radiant moments in our world. “The kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed”: this is the new, consoling certainty that is granted to us at Christmas.

In all three Christmas Masses, the liturgy quotes a passage from the Prophet Isaiah, which describes the epiphany that took place at Christmas in greater detail: “A child is born for us, a son given to us and dominion is laid on his shoulders; and this is the name they give him: Wonder-Counsellor, Mighty-God, Eternal-Father, Prince-of-Peace. Wide is his dominion in a peace that has no end” (Is 9:5f.). Whether the prophet had a particular child in mind, born during his own period of history, we do not know. But it seems impossible. This is the only text in the Old Testament in which it is said of a child, of a human being: his name will be Mighty-God, Eternal-Father. We are presented with a vision that extends far beyond the historical moment into the mysterious, into the future. A child, in all its weakness, is Mighty God. A child, in all its neediness and dependence, is Eternal Father. And his peace “has no end”. The prophet had previously described the child as “a great light” and had said of the peace he would usher in that the rod of the oppressor, the footgear of battle, every cloak rolled in blood would be burned (Is 9:1, 3-4).

God has appeared – as a child. It is in this guise that he pits himself against all violence and brings a message that is peace. At this hour, when the world is continually threatened by violence in so many places and in so many different ways, when over and over again there are oppressors’ rods and bloodstained cloaks, we cry out to the Lord: O mighty God, you have appeared as a child and you have revealed yourself to us as the One who loves us, the One through whom love will triumph. And you have shown us that we must be peacemakers with you. We love your childish estate, your powerlessness, but we suffer from the continuing presence of violence in the world, and so we also ask you: manifest your power, O God. In this time of ours, in this world of ours, cause the oppressors’ rods, the cloaks rolled in blood and the footgear of battle to be burned, so that your peace may triumph in this world of ours. Christmas is an epiphany – the appearing of God and of his great light in a child that is born for us. Born in a stable in Bethlehem, not in the palaces of kings. In 1223, when Saint Francis of Assisi celebrated Christmas in Greccio with an ox and an ass and a manger full of hay, a new dimension of the mystery of Christmas came to light. Saint Francis of Assisi called Christmas “the feast of feasts” – above all other feasts – and he celebrated it with “unutterable devotion” (2 Celano 199;Fonti Francescane, 787). He kissed images of the Christ-child with great devotion and he stammered tender words such as children say, so Thomas of Celano tells us (ibid.). For the early Church, the feast of feasts was Easter: in the Resurrection Christ had flung open the doors of death and in so doing had radically changed the world: he had made a place for man in God himself. Now, Francis neither changed nor intended to change this objective order of precedence among the feasts, the inner structure of the faith centred on the Paschal Mystery. And yet through him and the character of his faith, something new took place: Francis discovered Jesus’ humanity in an entirely new depth. This human existence of God became most visible to him at the moment when God’s Son, born of the Virgin Mary, was wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger. The Resurrection presupposes the Incarnation. For God’s Son to take the form of a child, a truly human child, made a profound impression on the heart of the Saint of Assisi, transforming faith into love. “The kindness and love of God our Saviour for mankind were revealed” – this phrase of Saint Paul now acquired an entirely new depth. In the child born in the stable at Bethlehem, we can as it were touch and caress God. And so the liturgical year acquired a second focus in a feast that is above all a feast of the heart. This has nothing to do with sentimentality. It is right here, in this new experience of the reality of Jesus’ humanity that the great mystery of faith is revealed. Francis loved the child Jesus, because for him it was in this childish estate that God’s humility shone forth. God became poor. His Son was born in the poverty of the stable. In the child Jesus, God made himself dependent, in need of human love, he put himself in the position of asking for human love – our love. 
Today Christmas has become a commercial celebration, whose bright lights hide the mystery of God’s humility, which in turn calls us to humility and simplicity. Let us ask the Lord to help us see through the superficial glitter of this season, and to discover behind it the child in the stable in Bethlehem, so as to find true joy and true light. Francis arranged for Mass to be celebrated on the manger that stood between the ox and the ass (cf. 1 Celano 85; Fonti 469). Later, an altar was built over this manger, so that where animals had once fed on hay, men could now receive the flesh of the spotless lamb Jesus Christ, for the salvation of soul and body, as Thomas of Celano tells us (cf. 1 Celano 87; Fonti 471). Francis himself, as a deacon, had sung the Christmas Gospel on the holy night in Greccio with resounding voice. Through the friars’ radiant Christmas singing, the whole celebration seemed to be a great outburst of joy (1 Celano 85.86; Fonti 469, 470). It was the encounter with God’s humility that caused this joy – his goodness creates the true feast. Today, anyone wishing to enter the Church of Jesus’ Nativity in Bethlehem will find that the doorway five and a half metres high, through which emperors and caliphs used to enter the building, is now largely walled up. Only a low opening of one and a half metres has remained. The intention was probably to provide the church with better protection from attack, but above all to prevent people from entering God’s house on horseback. Anyone wishing to enter the place of Jesus’ birth has to bend down. It seems to me that a deeper truth is revealed here, which should touch our hearts on this holy night: if we want to find the God who appeared as a child, then we must dismount from the high horse of our “enlightened” reason. We must set aside our false certainties, our intellectual pride, which prevents us from recognizing God’s closeness. We must follow the interior path of Saint Francis – the path leading to that ultimate outward and inward simplicity which enables the heart to see. We must bend down, spiritually we must as it were go on foot, in order to pass through the portal of faith and encounter the God who is so different from our prejudices and opinions – the God who conceals himself in the humility of a newborn baby. In this spirit let us celebrate the liturgy of the holy night, let us strip away our fixation on what is material, on what can be measured and grasped. Let us allow ourselves to be made simple by the God who reveals himself to the simple of heart. And let us also pray especially at this hour for all who have to celebrate Christmas in poverty, in suffering, as migrants, that a ray of God’s kindness may shine upon them, that they – and we – may be touched by the kindness that God chose to bring into the world through the birth of his Son in a stable. Amen.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Advent Conspiracy 2011

O Antiphons ~ Emmanuel

O Emmanuel, our King and Lawgiver, the Expected of the nations and their 
Savior. Come and save us, O Lord our God. 

Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel".

Isaiah 33:22: "Indeed the Lord will be there with us, majestic. Yes, the Lord our judge, the Lord our lawgiver, the Lord our king, he it is who will save 

With this last antiphon our expectation finds joy now in the certainty of fulfillment. We call Jesus by one of the most personal and intimate of his titles, Emmanuel, God-with-us. We recall that in his birth from the Virgin Mary God takes on our very flesh and human nature: God coming nearer to us than we could have ever imagined! Yet he is also to be exalted above us as our king, the lawgiver and judge, the one whom we honor and obey. And he is our savior, long-expected by all creation. The final cry rises from us urgent in our need for daily salvation and forgiveness of our sins, and confident that our God will not withhold himself from us.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Benedict XVI greeted some 5,000 pilgrims in his last general audience before Christmas. He spoke to them about the meaning of Midnight Mass held on Christmas, saying it presented the eternal presence of Jesus.

He said this was an invitation to discover the presence of God in everyday life.

Benedict XVI - “In the birth of Jesus, God comes to us and asks us to receive him, so that he can be born in our lives and transform them, and our world, by the power of his love.”

The pope then spoke about the meaning of Christmas, saying it should be remembered throughout the year. He added it invites contemplation on the life of Jesus with the backdrop of the importance of Easter.

Benedict XVI - “Christmas points beyond itself, to the redemption won for us on the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection.”

At the end of the audience, the pope was greet by groups of singing children and this group of musicians dressed in their traditional clothing. READ MORE

O Antiphons ~ King of the Gentiles

6th O Antiphon:
And their desired one, 
Who makest two into one,

Save man, 
Whom thou didst fashion out of slime.

Jesus is King of all nations. "The kings of the earth stood up and the princes met together against the Lord and against His Christ. Let us break their bonds asunder, and let us cast away their yoke from us. He that dwelleth in heaven shall laugh at them, and the Lord shall deride them. Then shall He speak to them in His anger and trouble them in His rage. But I am appointed king by Him over Sion, His holy mountain. ... The Lord hath said to Me; Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee. Ask of Me and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thy inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for Thy possession" (Ps. 2:2-8). Well may Herod seek the life of the newborn king. Indeed, many kings and tribes and nations in the course of time shall deprecate the divine King, Christ. But to Him has been given all power in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28: i8). Before Him every knee shall bend, and every tongue shall confess that He is the Lord (Phil. 2:10f.).
The more the mighty condemn the kingship of Christ, the more shall He be exalted by the Father.
Now He comes to us in the form of a lovely child. One day in the presence of the Roman governor He will assert His right to kingship. But after this one public confession of His royal origin He withdraws again into the obscurity which He had freely chosen. For the present He is satisfied with this manifestation of His royal dignity. The day will come, however, when He will manifest it with power and majesty as He comes again on the clouds of heaven. Before all nations God will declare: "I have anointed Him King of Sion. My holy mountain." All men shall pay Him homage as king; all nations shall acclaim Him the King of Glory.
Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


The Holy Father yesterday signed decrees acknowledging miracles attributed to the intervention of seven blesseds (four women and three men) who will shortly be canonised. One of the new blesseds is Kateri Tekakwitha, the first native North American to be raised to the glory of the altars.

Kateri Tekakwitha was born in 1656 in Ossernenon (present-day Auriesville, U.S.A.). Her father was a Mohawk chief and her mother a Roman Catholic Algonquian who had been educated by French missionaries. At the age of four she lost her family in a smallpox epidemic which also left her disfigured and with poor eyesight. Adopted by a relative, the chief of neighbouring clan, she continued to nurture an interest in Christianity and was baptised at the age of 20.

The members of her tribe did not understand her new religious affiliation and she was marginalised, practising physical mortification as a path of sanctity and praying for the conversion of her relatives. Having suffered persecutions which put her life at risk, she was forced to flee to a native American Christian community in Kahnawake, Quebec where she made a vow of chastity and lived a life dedicated to prayer, penance, and care for the sick and elderly. She died in 1680 at the age of 24. Her last words were: "Jesus, I love you". According to tradition, Kateri's scars disappeared after her death to reveal a woman of great beauty, and numerous sick people who participated in her funeral were miraculously healed.

The process of canonisation began in 1884. She was declared venerable by Pius XII in 1943 and beatified by John Paul II in 1980. As the first native North American to be beatified she occupies a special place in the devotion of her people. Her feast day falls on 14 July. READ MORE

O Antiphons ~ Radiant Dawn

5th O Antiphon:
Radiance of eternal light,
And sun of justice,

Enlighten those sitting in darkness,
And in the shadow of death.

O eternal Sun, come and enlighten us, for where Thou art not, there is darkness, death, and wickedness. "Come and enlighten all who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death."
"But now [you are] light in the Lord" (Eph. 5:18). In the Church the light has now appeared to us on the first Christmas night, on the day of our baptism, daily in the Mass and at the time of Holy Communion, and in the many inspirations and promptings of grace. How thankful we should be for this light, which is Christ.
But we have yet to reach the full measure of the stature of Christ. Alas! we let ourselves be burdened by earthly sorrow, we are distracted by the excitement of the moment, and our spiritual growth is hampered by our attachment to the things of this world. Fervently we should repeat that plea of Holy Mother the Church. "0 dawning Sun of righteousness, come and enlighten us, who yet sit in the darkness of suffering, of human reasoning, and of self-love."
The light of Christ will be revealed perfectly only when we meet Him at the time of His second coming. Then we shall be brought into the light of glory, and we shall "shine as the sun in the kingdom of the Father" (Matt. 13:48). "Sown in corruption we shall rise in incorruption" (I Cor. 15:42). May the day of enlightenment come soon!
Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

St. Peter Canisius

Peter Canisius, the remarkable Jesuit who almost single-handedly reevangelized Central Europe, founded dozens of colleges, contributed to the rebirth of Catholicism by his prodigious writings, and laid the groundwork for the Catholic Reformation north of the Alps. He was born at Nijmegen, Holland, in 1521, and his father was an instructor to princes in the court of the duke of Lorraine. St. Peter Canisius was part of a movement for religious reform as a very young man and in 1543, after attending a retreat given by Blessed Peter Favre, joined the Jesuits and was the eighth professed member of the Society of Jesus.
He worked first in the city of Cologne, becoming a spokesman for the Catholic party. He became a consultor to the cardinal of Augsburg at the Council of Trent and in 1547 was called by St. Ignatius to Rome. He was sent to Sicily to teach, then, after his solemn profession in Rome, was sent back to Germany as the first superior of the German province of the Jesuits.
Peter next began to restore and found colleges, first in Vienna and Prague, and then in Munich, Innsbruck, and throughout northern Germany. He attracted vocations to the Jesuits, and the society began to flourish in Central Europe. He organized the Jesuits into a compact unit and made the society a leading force in the Counter-Reformation. He was in contact with all the Catholic leaders in Germany, and wrote fourteen hundred letters giving support to those laboring for reform. He was the adviser of the emperor and the confidante of three popes. He was consulted by papal legates and nunciatures and was a severe critic of religious and clerical life in post-Reformation Germany.
He recommended far-reaching reforms and had a profound effect upon the education and spiritual life of the clergy. Through his efforts, seminaries were founded, and the popes sent him on important diplomatic missions. In the midst of his many labors, he edited and published editions of the Fathers of the Church, catechisms, spiritual manuals, and textbooks that went into countless editions even in his own lifetime.
He died on December 21, 1597, at Fribourg, Switzerland, and was canonized and declared a Doctor of the Church in 1925.
Patron: Germany; Catholic press; catechism writers.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Antiphons ~ Key of David

4th O Antiphon:
And scepter of the house of Israel,
Thou openest and no man dare shut,
Thou shuttest and no man dare open,

Lead from prison, the fettered one,
The dweller in darkness and the shadow of death.

"Come, lead the captives from their prison." With the key of His almighty power, the Redeemer has opened the prison in which poor, sinful man was languishing in darkness and in the shadow of death.
Key of David, come and deliver the captives from their prison. The Church wishes that by the practice of virtue we should free ourselves from sin and unfaithfulness. She asks God that He may spare us from punishment, deliver us from His wrath, from an evil death, and from hell. The Church prays that God may free us from a heart that clings to the world, from a spirit that is pleased with worldliness, from a human respect that degrades us. She urges us to return kindness and affection for scorn, love and compassion for persecution. Our Holy Mother the Church prays that we may be delivered from ourselves, from our self-love, and from all our secret sins. She prays that God may detach our hearts from all that can bind them to earth, for he who has been freed from the things of the earth is free with the freedom of Christ.
Key of David, come and deliver the captives from their prison. By Thy coming free us from all that separates us from God. Bring us freedom and redemption; incline us to surrender ourselves completely to God. So all pray for each, and each for all.
Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

Monday, December 19, 2011

I carry you all in my heart before the Lord

“The Church supports and encourages any efforts to guarantee everyone a decent life. Be sure that I am close to each of you, your families, your children, your young, your old and I carry you all in my heart before God”, Pope Benedict XVI told 300 men and women detainees in Rome’s biggest prison Sunday, in a moving pre-Christmas visit.

The Holy Father spent over an hour at the Rebibbia prison, during which he also answered questions from some inmates who spoke of their despair at being kept in overcrowded cells, away from their families, some of them sick with AIDS, and of having repented for their crimes."I know that overcrowding and degradation in prison can make detention even more bitter," responded the Pope, to the inmates of the prison, which has 500 more inmates than the 1,240 it was built to hold. 
He continued :“I have received several letters from prisoners who stress this. It is important that the institutions promote a careful analysis of the prison system today, verifying the structures, resources, personnel, so that prisoners do not discount a "double punishment", and it is important to promote a development of the prison system, which, while in full respect for justice, is increasingly tailored to the needs of the human person, even with the use of the non-custodial sentences or different modes of detention”.And then Pope Benedict reminded them that they are never alone in their suffering: “I have come to tell you simply that God loves you with infinite love, and you are always the same children of God. The only-begotten Son of God, The Lord Jesus, experienced prison, He was subjected to trial before a court and suffered the most cruel death sentence”.

Following his address, Pope Benedict spent time listening and responding to some prisoners questions. An Italian man Rocco asked if the Holy Father’s gesture would also be recognised by political leaders in its simplicity, so that dignity be restored to all, including detainees. The Pope replied that while his visit is of a personal nature aimed at showing the men and women of Rebibbia his genuine concern for them, it is also a public gesture to draw attention to the problems and difficulties of Italian prisons.

Another African inmate named Omar, visibly moved, instead spoke to Pope Benedict of his gratitude for the visit, of its important for Catholic inmates, of how he misses his family and ended with the words, “Thank you Holy Father we all care a lot for you”, to which Pope Benedict replied, “As I do for all of you“. Then an Italian man named Federico, representing the inmates from the infirmary sector many of whom are HIV positive asked the Pope to help them make their voices heard, explaining how they are often isolated and speak of them "ferociously". In a rare and personal insight the Pope replied: “You say that people talk cruelly about you, unfortunately it is true, but I would say not only that, there are others who speak well of you and think of you. I think of my little Papal family, I am surrounded by 4 lay sisters, and we often talk about this problem, they have friends in different prisons, we also receive gifts from them and make our own gifts to them, so this is reality is a very positive presence in my family and I think in many others. We must bear with the fact that some people talk fiercely, some even talk fiercely about the Pope and yet we have to move on”.

O Antiphons ~ Root of Jesse

3rd O Antiphon:
A standard to the peoples, 
Before whom kings are mute, 
To whom the nations will appeal,
To deliver us, 
Delay, please, no longer.

"Come to deliver us and tarry not." The world cries out for Christ its King, who shall cast out the prince of this world (John 12:31). The prince of this world established his power over men as a result of original sin. Even after we had been delivered from the servitude of Satan through the death of Christ on the cross, the prince of this world attempts to exercise his power over us. "The devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour" (I Pet. 5:8). In these trying times, when faith in Christ and in God has largely disappeared, when the propaganda of a pagan culture is broadcast everywhere, and the forces of evil and falsehood rise up to cast God from His throne, who does not feel the power of the devil? Does it not appear that we are approaching that time when Satan will be released from the depths of hell to work his wonders and mislead, if possible, even the elect? (Apoc. 20:2; Matt. 24:24.)

"Come, tarry not." Observe how thoroughly the world of today has submitted to the reign of Satan. Mankind has abandoned the search for what is good and holy. Loyalty, justice, freedom, love, and mutual trust are no longer highly regarded. Establish, O God, Thy kingdom among us, a kingdom established upon truth, justice, and peace. "Come, tarry not." "Thy kingdom come."
Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fourth Sunday in Advent

O Adonai and Leader of the house of Israel, you appeared to Moses in the flame of the burning bush and gave him the law on Sinai: come, and with an outstretched arm, redeem us.

Today’s O Antiphon is based on two passages from Exodus. In Chapter 3 we read how God appeared to Moses in “fire flaming out of a bush” which, “though on fire, was not consumed.” Moses asked God to reveal his Name and God responded: “This is what you shall tell the Israelites: I AM sent me to you.” In Hebrew the name “I AM” was so sacred that the Israelites did not utter or write it. Instead, whenever it appeared in the Scriptures (as can be seen in most Bibles), the word “LORD” or “Adonai” in Hebrew was substituted. After revealing this Name to Moses, God told Moses that through him, God himself would lead Israel out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land. Thus God is the true “Leader of the house of Israel”. In order for Israel to live in freedom they needed the moral law to guide them. God gave them this law, the Ten Commandments, on Mount Sinai (see Exodus 20: 1-21). When we pray this antiphon we declare our belief that Jesus Christ is truly God and can be called by the Divine Name, “Adonai” or “Lord.” As St. Paul wrote: “And no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians: 12: 3). As God freed Israel from slavery in Egypt, so Jesus frees humanity from sin. May the “outstretched arm” of Jesus free us from sin this Advent and lead all humanity to the freedom of the children of God. May God give all people the grace to embrace the moral law that, when followed, will alone bring about the harmony and peace for which humanity so longs.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

O Wisdom

December 17 marks the beginning of the O Antiphons, the seven jewels of our liturgy, dating back to the fourth century, one for each day until Christmas Eve. These antiphons address Christ with seven magnificent Messianic titles, based on the Old Testament prophecies and types of Christ. The Church recalls the variety of the ills of man before the coming of the Redeemer.

O Wisdom

Divine Wisdom clothes itself in the nature of a man. It conceals itself in the weakness of a child. It chooses for itself infancy, poverty, obedience, subjection, obscurity. "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and the prudence of the prudent I will reject. . . . Hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God, by the foolishness of our preaching, to save them that believe. For both the Jews require signs, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews, indeed, a stumbling block, and unto the Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God. . . . But the foolish things of the world hath God chosen, that He may confound the wise; and the weak things of the world hath God chosen, that He may confound the strong. And the base things of the world and the things that are contemptible, hath God chosen, and the things that are not, that He might bring to naught the things that are" (I Cor. 1:19 ff.).

Come, O divine Wisdom, teach us the way of knowledge. We are unwise; we judge and speak according to the vain standards of the world, which is foolishness in the eyes of God.

Come, O divine Wisdom, give us the true knowledge and the taste for what is eternal and divine. Inspire us with a thirst for God's holy will, help us seek God's guidance and direction, enlighten us in the teachings of the holy gospel, make us submissive to Thy holy Church. Strengthen us in the forgetfulness of self, and help us to resign ourselves to a position of obscurity if that be Thy holy will. Detach our hearts from resurgent pride. Give us wisdom that we may understand that "but one thing is necessary" (Luke 10:42). "For what doth it profit a man if he gain the whole world and suffer the loss of his own soul?" (Matt. 16:26.) The Holy Spirit would have us know that one degree of grace is worth more than all worldly possessions.

Excerpted from The Light of the World by Benedict Baur, O.S.B.

1st O Antiphon:
Who hast issued from the mouth of the Most High, Reaching from end even unto end, Ordering all things indomitably yet tenderly,

To teach us the way of prudence.

Friday, December 16, 2011

New World's Shortest Woman - A Big Bundle of Joy

Jyoti Amge, 18, center, who stands at 61.95 centimeters (2 feet), poses for a photography with her family at her residence before a press conference with the Guinness World Records in Nagpur, India, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011

TINY Jyoti Amge is set to fulfil a huge ambition as she turns 18 today — by becoming the world's smallest woman.

Thrilled Jyoti said: "It's been my dream to be recognised as the world's smallest woman for many years. I'm now a woman so I hope I don't have to wait much longer!"

Guinness World Records adjudicator Rob Molloy, right, and Dr. Manoj Pahukar of Wockhardt hospital, second left, measure Jyoti Amge at a press conference in Nagpur, India, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.

Jyoti, from Nagpur, India, has a form of dwarfism called achondroplasia and stopped growing shortly after her first birthday. Growth problems have left her with brittle bones and she is likely to need care for the rest of her life.

The 23½in tall teen, who weighs just 11lbs, is anxiously waiting for confirmation she's snatched the title from 2ft 3in American Bridgette Jordan.

Jyoti Amge, 18, who stands at 61.95 centimeters (2 feet), holds the hand of her elder sister's son Vishatej, 5, as other sister Rupali looks on at her residence before a press conference with Guinness World Records in Nagpur, India, Friday, Dec. 16, 2011.
She said: 'I am proud of being small. I love all the attention I get. I'm not scared of being small and I don't regret it.

'I'm just the same as other people. I eat like you, dream like you. I don't feel any different.'

She said: 'I would love to work in a big city like Mumbai, act in films and travel to London and America.

She is celebrating her birthday with a cake that is almost the same size as her.

But budding actress Jyoti hasn't let her condition hold her back and is set to star in TWO Bollywood films next year. She said: "I want to make people happy."

She insists on being treated like any other young woman and likes nothing better than doing her make-up and going clothes shopping with pals.

Full text of Pope's Message for International Day of Peace

In his message for the International Day of Peace, the pope lamented that “families, and life itself, are constantly threatened and not infrequently fragmented”. He says children are deprived of “one of the most precious of treasures: the presence of their parents” because of “working conditions which are often incompatible with family responsibilities, worries about the future, the frenetic pace of life, the need to move frequently to ensure an adequate livelihood, to say nothing of mere survival”.

For these reasons he asks politicians that “adequate support should never be lacking to parents in their task,” and that “families are able freely to choose the educational structures they consider most suitable for their children”. READ FULL TEXT HERE