Friday, March 30, 2012

St. John Climacus

St. John Climacus was born around the year 525 in Palestine. As a youth, he excelled in his studies and was highly regarded by his peers for his knowledge. At the age of 16, John decided to leave the world and retired to a hermitage near the base of Mount Sinai. For the next four years, John spent his time in prayer, fasting, meditation and discernment while preparing to take solemn vows to the religious life. Through the direction of Martyrius, John curbed his vices and worked to perfect his virtues.

After professing his solemn vows, John began to spend more of his time studying scriptures and the early fathers of the Church. He became very knowledgeable in these subjects but his humility caused him to hide his talents and not presume to share them with others. Near the end of his life, he was encouraged to share his knowledge with others and wrote the "Climax" also known as "The Ladder of Paradise." This work was a collection of sayings and examples to illustrate how to live the monastic life. From this work, he received the name Climacus, a derivative from the Latin root for climax or ladder.

As John progressed in years and wisdom, many of the religious living on Mount Sinai began to seek his advice in spiritual matters. He freely offered his advice and was highly regarded for his wisdom and holiness. Around the year 600 the abbot of all the religious in the region of Mount Sinai died and John was chosen to replace him. John ruled until his death in 605 and always tried to lead through his own example.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Homily of Pope Benedict XVI at Plaza de la Revolución José Martí, Havana

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Blessed are you, Lord God…, and blessed is your holy and glorious name” (Dan 3:52). This hymn of blessing from the Book of Daniel resounds today in our liturgy, inviting us repeatedly to bless and thank God. We are a part of that great chorus which praises the Lord without ceasing. We join in this concert of thanksgiving, and we offer our joyful and confident voice, which seeks to solidify the journey of faith with love and truth.

“Blessed be God” who gathers us in this historic square so that we may more profoundly enter into his life. I feel great joy in being here with you today to celebrate Holy Mass during this Jubilee Year devoted to Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre.

I greet with cordial affection Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, Archbishop of Havana, and I thank him for the kind words which he has addressed to me on your behalf. I extend warm greetings to the Cardinals and to my brother Bishops in Cuba and from other countries who wished to be in this solemn celebration. I also greet the priests, seminarians, men and women religious, and all the lay faithful gathered here, as well as the civil authorities who join us.

In today’s first reading, the three young men persecuted by the Babylonian king preferred to face death by fire rather than betray their conscience and their faith. They experienced the strength to “give thanks, glorify and praise God” in the conviction that the Lord of the universe and of history would not abandon them to death and annihilation. Truly, God never abandons his children, he never forgets them. He is above us and is able to save us by his power. At the same time, he is near to his people, and through his Son Jesus Christ he has wished to make his dwelling place among us in.

“If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8:31). In this text from today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals himself as the Son of God the Father, the Saviour, the one who alone can show us the truth and give us genuine freedom. His teaching provokes resistance and disquiet among his hearers, and he accuses them of looking for reasons to kill him, alluding to the supreme sacrifice of the Cross, already imminent. Even so, he exhorts them to believe, to keep his word, so as to know the truth which redeems and justifies.

The truth is a desire of the human person, the search for which always supposes the exercise of authentic freedom. Many, without a doubt, would prefer to take the easy way out, trying to avoid this task. Some, like Pontius Pilate, ironically question the possibility of even knowing what truth is (cf. Jn 18:38), claiming is incapable of knowing it or denying that there exists a truth valid for all. This attitude, as in the case of scepticism and relativism, changes hearts, making them cold, wavering, distant from others and closed. There are too many who, like the Roman governor, wash their hands and let the water of history drain away without taking a stand.

On the other hand, there are those who wrongly interpret this search for the truth, leading them to irrationality and fanaticism; they close themselves up in “their truth”, and try to impose it on others. These are like the blind scribes who, upon seeing Jesus beaten and bloody, cry out furiously, “Crucify him!” (cf. Jn 19:6). Anyone who acts irrationally cannot become a disciple of Jesus. Faith and reason are necessary and complementary in the pursuit of truth. God created man with an innate vocation to the truth and he gave him reason for this purpose. Certainly, it is not irrationality but rather the yearning for truth which the Christian faith promotes. Each man and woman has to seek the truth and to choose it when he or she finds it, even at the risk of embracing sacrifices.

Furthermore, the truth which stands above humanity is an unavoidable condition for attaining freedom, since in it we discover the foundation of an ethics on which all can converge and which contains clear and precise indications concerning life and death, duties and rights, marriage, family and society, in short, regarding the inviolable dignity of the human person. This ethical patrimony can bring together different cultures, peoples and religions, authorities and citizens, citizens among themselves, and believers in Christ and non-believers.

Christianity, in highlighting those values which sustain ethics, does not impose, but rather proposes Christ’s invitation to know the truth which sets us free. The believer is called to offer that truth to his contemporaries, as did the Lord, even before the ominous shadow of rejection and the Cross. The personal encounter with the one who is Truth in person compels us to share this treasure with others, especially by our witness.

Dear friends, do not hesitate to follow Jesus Christ. In him we find the truth about God and about mankind. He helps us to overcome our selfishness, to rise above our vain struggles and to conquer all that oppresses us. The one who does evil, who sins, becomes its slave and will never attain freedom (cf. Jn 8:34). Only by renouncing hatred and our hard and blind hearts will we be free and a new life will well up in us.

Convinced that it is Christ who is the true measure of man, and knowing that in him we find the strength needed to face every trial, I wish to proclaim openly that Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life. In him everyone will find complete freedom, the light to understand reality most deeply and to transform it by the renewing power of love.

The Church lives to make others sharers in the one thing she possesses, which is none other than Christ, our hope of glory (cf. Col 1:27). To carry out this duty, she must count on basic religious freedom, which consists in her being able to proclaim and to celebrate her faith also in public, bringing to others the message of love, reconciliation and peace which Jesus brought to the world. It must be said with joy that in Cuba steps have been taken to enable the Church to carry out her essential mission of expressing her faith openly and publicly. Nonetheless, this must continue forwards, and I wish to encourage the country’s Government authorities to strengthen what has already been achieved and advance along this path of genuine service to the true good of Cuban society as a whole.

The right to freedom of religion, both in its private and in its public dimension, manifests the unity of the human person, who is at once a citizen and a believer. It also legitimizes the fact that believers have a contribution to make to the building up of society. Strengthening religious freedom consolidates social bonds, nourishes the hope of a better world, creates favourable conditions for peace and harmonious development, while at the same time establishing solid foundations for securing the rights of future generations.

When the Church upholds this human right, she is not claiming any special privileges for herself. She wishes only to be faithful to the command of her divine founder, conscious that, where Christ is present, we become more human and our humanity becomes authentic. This is why the Church seeks to give witness by her preaching and teaching, both in catechesis and in the schools and universities. It is greatly to be hoped that the moment will soon arrive when, here too, the Church can bring to the fields of knowledge the benefits of the mission which the Lord entrusted to her and which she can never neglect.

A shining example of this commitment is found in the outstanding priest Félix Varela, teacher and educator, an illustrious son of this city of Havana, who has taken his place in Cuban history as the first one who taught his people how to think. Father Varela offers us a path to a true transformation of society: to form virtuous men and women in order to forge a worthy and free nation, for this transformation depends on the spiritual, in as much as “there is no authentic fatherland without virtue” (Letters to Elpidio, Letter 6, Madrid 1836, 220). Cuba and the world need change, but this will occur only if each one is in a position to seek the truth and chooses the way of love, sowing reconciliation and fraternity.

Invoking the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, let us ask that each time we participate in the Eucharist we will also become witnesses to that charity which responds to evil with good (cf. Rom12:51), offering ourselves as a living sacrifice to the one who lovingly gave himself up for our sake. Let us walk in the light of Christ who alone can destroy the darkness of error. And let us beg him that, with the courage and strength of the saints, we may be able, without fear or rancour but freely, generously and consistently, to respond to God. Amen.

Daily Strength - Following Jesus

Dear friends, do not hesitate to follow Jesus Christ. In him we find the truth about God and about mankind. He helps us to overcome our selfishness, to rise above our vain struggles and to conquer all that oppresses us. The one who does evil, who sins, becomes its slave and will never attain freedom (cf. Jn 8:34). Only by renouncing hatred and our hard and blind hearts will we be free and a new life will well up in us. 

Pope Benedict XVI - Homily at Plaza de la Revolución José Martí, Havana

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI at El Cobre, Steps of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I have come as a pilgrim to the house of the blessed statue of Our Lady of Charity, la Mambisa as you call upon her with affection. Her presence in this town of El Cobre is a gift from heaven for all Cubans.

I am pleased to offer cordial greetings to everyone here present. Receive the affection of the Pope and carry it with you from this place, so that everyone can experience consolation and strength in faith. Let all those you meet know, whether near or far, that I have entrusted to the Mother of God the future of your country, advancing along the ways renewal and hope, for the greater good of all Cubans. I have also prayed to the Virgin for the needs of those who suffer, of those who are deprived of freedom, those who are separated from their loved ones or who are undergoing times of difficulty. I have placed in her Immaculate Heart young people, that they may be authentic friends of Christ and that they may not succumb to things which bring sadness in their wake. Before Mary of Charity, I remember in a particular way Cubans who are the descendents of those who arrived here from Africa, like the nearby people of Haiti, where the consequences of the earthquake of two years ago are still being suffered. And I cannot forget the many country people and their families who wish to live the Gospel deeply in their homes and who offer their homes as mission centres for the celebration of Mass.

Following the example of the Most Holy Virgin, I encourage all the sons and daughters of this dear country to continue to build their lives on the firm rock which is Jesus Christ, to work for justice, to be servants of charity and to persevere in the midst of trials. May nothing or no one take from you your inner joy which is so characteristic of the Cuban soul. May God bless you. Thank you very much.

Benedict XVI asks Raúl Castro to declare Good Friday a Holiday in Cuba

Havana, Cuba, Mar 27, 2012 / 08:56 pm (CNA).- During a personal meeting that lasted over 40 minutes, Pope Benedict XVI asked Cuban President Raúl Castro to recognized Good Friday as a holiday in Cuba because of its importance in the Catholic calendar.

During the conversation, “a particular topic was touched upon: the Pope brought to the attention (of President Castro) the importance of Good Friday, asking for the possibility of its recognition as holiday,” said Fr. Lombardi.

The Vatican’s spokesman recalled a similar request made Blessed John Paul II made to Fidel Castro about Christmas. As a consequence of that request, the Cuban government re-established December 25 as a national holiday. Christmas had been suspended from the calendar with the triumph of the revolution.

“Of course, this is a matter for the Cuban authorities, and we hope for a response in the not too distant future,” said Fr. Lombardi.

During the meeting with Raúl Castro, the President gave to the Pope “a beautiful wooden sculpture of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. The Pope also gave the President a gift, a facsimile copy of an ancient volume from the Vatican library, the Latin translation of Ptolemy’s Geography. It includes a map from 1400 and the latest update includes a world map from 1530 in which the American continent appears, and which points out the location of Cuba.”

Benedict XVI met his “spiritual Godmother” in Santiago de Cuba

Santiago de Cuba, Mar 27, 2012 / 08:59 pm (CNA).- Upon initiating his day on Tuesday with a private Mass in Santiago de Cuba, Pope Benedict XVI personally met a religious from India who has been his “spiritual Godmother” for 20 years.

The Holy Father celebrated the private Mass before departing for the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Charity of Cobre. At the Mass, there participated 10 religious from the contemplative branch of the Missionaries of Charity, which was founded by Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Upon concluding the Eucharistic celebration, the Archbishop of Cuba, Dionisio García, presented the woman religious, Teresa Kereketa, from India to the Holy Father. Following the practice of her order, 20 years before, she had received the task of praying daily for a specific priest, thus becoming his “spiritual Godmother.” The priest whom she received under this task was Cardinal Josef Ratzinger. 

During the emotional encounter, and following Indian tradition, the woman religious presented a crown of flowers to the Holy Father. “The Pope was quite moved meeting her,” explained the Holy See’s spokesman, Fr. Federeico Lombardi, during a press conference.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI - Mass in Santiago de Cuba

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I give thanks to God who has allowed me to come to you and to make this much anticipated trip. I greet Bishop Dionisio García Ibáñez, Archbishop of Santiago de Cuba, and I thank him for his warm words of welcome offered on behalf of everyone. I greet the Bishops of Cuba and those who have come from elsewhere, and the priests, religious men and women, seminarians and lay faithful present for this celebration. I cannot forget all those who, for reasons of illness, advanced age or for other motives, are not able to join us. I also greet the civil Authorities who have graciously wished to join us.

This first Holy Mass which I have the joy of celebrating during my pastoral visit to this country, takes place in the context of the Marian Jubilee Year called to honour and to venerate Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, Patroness of Cuba, in this fourth centenary of the discovery and presence of her venerable statue in this blessed land. I cannot forget the sacrifices and the dedication with which this jubilee has been prepared, especially spiritually. I was deeply touched to hear of the fervour with which Mary has been welcomed and invoked by so many Cubans during her journey to every corner of the island.

These important events in the Church in Cuba take on a special lustre because of the feast celebrated today throughout the universal Church: the Annunciation of the Lord to the Virgin Mary. The Incarnation of the Son of God is the central mystery of the Christian faith, and in it Mary occupies a central place. But, we ask, what is the meaning of this mystery? And, what importance does it have for our concrete lives?

First of all, let us see what the Incarnation means. In the Gospel of Saint Luke we heard the words of the angel to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Lk 1:35). In Mary, the Son of God is made man, fulfilling in this way the prophecy of Isaiah: “Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel, which means ‘God-with-us’” (Is 7:14). Jesus, the Word made flesh, is truly God-with-us, who has come to live among us and to share our human condition. The Apostle Saint John expresses it in the following way: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (Jn 1:14). The expression, “became flesh” points to our human reality in most concrete and tangible way. In Christ, God has truly come into the world, he has entered into our history, he has set his dwelling among us, thus fulfilling the deepest desire of human beings that the world may truly become a home worthy of humanity. On the other hand, when God is put aside, the world becomes an inhospitable place for man, and frustrates creation’s true vocation to be a space for the covenant, for the “Yes” to the love between God and humanity who responds to him. Mary did so as the first fruit of believers with her unreserved “Yes” to the Lord.

For this reason, contemplating the mystery of the Incarnation, we cannot fail to turn our eyes to her so as to be filled with wonder, gratitude and love at seeing how our God, coming into the world, wished to depend upon the free consent of one of his creatures. Only from the moment when the Virgin responded to the angel, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38), did the eternal Word of the Father began his human existence in time. It is touching to see how God not only respects human freedom: he almost seems to require it. And we see also how the beginning of the earthly life of the Son of God was marked by a double “Yes” to the saving plan of the Father - that of Christ and that of Mary. This obedience to God is what opens the doors of the world to the truth, to salvation. God has created us as the fruit of his infinite love; hence, to live in accordance with his will is the way to encounter our genuine identity, the truth of our being, while apart from God we are alienated from ourselves and are hurled into the void. The obedience of faith is true liberty, authentic redemption, which allows us to unite ourselves to the love of Jesus in his determination to conform himself to the will of the Father. Redemption is always this process of the lifting up of the human will to full communion with the divine will (cf. Lectio Divinawith the parish priests of Rome, 18 February 2010).

Dear brothers and sisters, today we praise the Most Holy Virgin for her faith, and with Saint Elizabeth we too say, “Blessed is she who believed” (Lk 1:45). As Saint Augustine said, Mary conceived Christ by faith in her heart before she conceived him physically in her womb; Mary believed and what she believed was came to be in her (cf. Sermo 215, 4: PL 38, 1074). Let us ask the Lord to strengthen our faith, to make it active and fruitful in love. Let us implore him that, like her, we may welcome the word of God into our hearts, and carry it out with docility and constancy.

The Virgin Mary, by her unique role in the mystery of Christ, represents the exemplar and model of the Church. The Church, like the Mother of Christ, is also called to embrace in herself the mystery of God who comes to live in her. 

Dear brothers and sisters, I know with what effort, boldness and self-sacrifice you work every day so that, in the concrete circumstances of your country, and at this moment in history, the Church will better present her true face as a place in which God draws near and encounters humanity. The Church, the living body of Christ, has the mission of prolonging on earth the salvific presence of God, of opening the world to something greater than itself, to the love and the light of God. It is worth the effort, dear brothers and sisters, to devote your entire life to Christ, to grow in his friendship each day and to feel called to proclaim the beauty and the goodness of his life to every person, to all our brothers and sisters. I encourage you in this task of sowing the word of God in the world and offering to everyone the true nourishment of the body of Christ. Easter is already approaching; let us determine to follow Jesus without fear or doubts on his journey to the Cross. May we accept with patience and faith whatever opposition or affliction may come, with the conviction that, in his Resurrection, he has crushed the power of evil which darkens everything, and has brought the dawn of a new world, the world of God, of light, of truth and happiness. The Lord will not fail to bless with abundant fruits the generosity of your commitment.

The mystery of the Incarnation, in which God draws near to us, also shows us the incomparable dignity of every human life. In his loving plan, from the beginning of creation, God has entrusted to the family founded on matrimony the most lofty mission of being the fundamental cell of society and an authentic domestic church. With this certainty, you, dear husbands and wives, are called to be, especially for your children, a real and visible sign of the love of Christ for the Church. Cuba needs the witness of your fidelity, your unity, your capacity to welcome human life, especially that of the weakest and most needy.

Dear brothers and sisters, before the gaze of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, I appeal to you to reinvigorate your faith, that you may live in Christ and for Christ, and armed with peace, forgiveness and understanding, that you may strive to build a renewed and open society, a better society, one more worthy of humanity, and which better reflects the goodness of God. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Pope blesses image of Mexico's Patroness: Our Lady of Guadalupe


After celebrating Mass at Guanajuato's Bicentennial Park, the Pope blessed 91 replicas of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of Mexico. The copies of 'Our Lady' will be sent to different Dioceses throughout Mexico.

Pope: Messenger of hope in Mexico

On Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI led a congregation of thousands in prayer in his first Mass on Mexican soil.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very pleased to be among you today and I express my sincere gratitude to the Most Reverend José Guadalupe Martín Rábago, Archbishop of León, for his kind words of welcome. I greet the Mexican Bishops, and the Cardinals and other Bishops present here, and in a special way those who have come from Latin America and the Caribbean. I also extend a warm greeting to the authorities that are with us, as well as all who have gathered for this Holy Mass presided by the Successor of Peter.

We said, “A pure heart, create for me, O God” (Ps 50:12) during the responsorial psalm. This exclamation shows us how profoundly we must prepare to celebrate next week the great mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of the Lord. It also helps us to look deeply into the human heart, especially in times of sorrow as well as hope, as are the present times for the people of Mexico and of Latin America.

The desire for a heart that would be pure, sincere, humble, acceptable to God was very much felt by Israel as it became aware of the persistence in its midst of evil and sin as a power, practically implacable and impossible to overcome. There was nothing left but to trust in God’s mercy and in the hope that he would change from within, from the heart, an unbearable, dark and hopeless situation. In this way recourse gained ground to the infinite mercy of the Lord who does not wish the sinner to die but to convert and live (cf. Ez 33:11). A pure heart, a new heart, is one which recognizes that, of itself, it is impotent and places itself in God’s hands so as to continue hoping in his promises. Then the psalmist can say to the Lord with conviction: “Sinners will return to you” (Ps 50:15). And towards the end of the psalm he will give an explanation which is at the same time a firm conviction of faith: “A humble, contrite heart you will not spurn” (v. 19).

The history of Israel relates some great events and battles, but when faced with its more authentic existence, its decisive destiny, its salvation, it places its hope not in its own efforts, but in God who can create a new heart, not insensitive or proud. This should remind each one of us and our peoples that, when addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us. We must have recourse to the One who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author; he has made us sharers in the same through his Son Jesus Christ.

Today’s Gospel takes up the topic and shows us how this ancient desire for the fullness of life has actually been achieved in Christ. Saint John explains it in a passage in which the wish of some Greeks to see Jesus coincides with the moment in which the Lord is about to be glorified. Jesus responds to the question of the Greeks, who represent the pagan world, saying: “Now the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (Jn 12:23). This is a strange response which seems inconsistent with the question asked by the Greeks. What has the glorification of Jesus to do with the request to meet him? But there is a relation. Someone might think – says Saint Augustine – that Jesus felt glorified because the Gentiles were coming to him. This would be similar to the applause of the multitudes who give “glory” to those who are grand in the world, as we would say today. But this is not so. “It was convenient that, before the wonder of his glorification, should come the humility of his passion” (In Joannis Ev. 51:9: PL 35, 1766).

Youngsters gather to see Pope Benedict XVI at Nuestra Senora de La Luz (Our Lady of Light) Cathedral, where he went for a mass with Latin American Archbishops in Leon, Mexico on March 25, 2012

Jesus’ answer, announcing his imminent passion, means that a casual encounter in those moments would have been superficial and perhaps deceptive. The Greeks will see the one they wished to meet raised up on the cross from which he will attract all to himself (cf. Jn 12:32). There his “glory” will begin, because of his sacrifice of expiation for all, as the grain of wheat fallen to the ground that by dying germinates and produces abundant fruit. They will find the one whom, unknown to them, they were seeking in their hearts, the true God who is made visible to all peoples. This was how Our Lady of Guadalupe showed her divine Son to Saint Juan Diego, not as a powerful legendary hero but as the very God of the living, by whom all live, the Creator of persons, of closeness and immediacy, of heaven and earth (cf. Nican Mopohua, v.33). At that moment she did what she had done previously at the wedding feast of Cana. Faced with the embarrassment caused by the lack of wine, she told the servants clearly that the path to follow was her Son: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5).

Dear brothers and sisters, by coming here I have been able to visit the monument to Christ the King situated on top of the Cubilete. My venerable predecessor, Blessed Pope John Paul II, although he ardently desired to do so, was unable on his several journeys to this beloved land to visit this site of such significance for the faith of the Mexican people. I am sure that in heaven he is happy that the Lord has granted me the grace to be here with you and that he has blessed the millions of Mexicans who have venerated his relics in every corner of the country. This monument represents Christ the King. But his crowns, one of a sovereign, the other of thorns, indicate that his royal status does not correspond to how it has been or is understood by many. His kingdom does not stand on the power of his armies subduing others through force or violence. It rests on a higher power than wins over hearts: the love of God that he brought into the world with his sacrifice and the truth to which he bore witness. This is his sovereignty which no one can take from him and which no one should forget. Hence it is right that this shrine should be above all a place of pilgrimage, of fervent prayer, of conversion, of reconciliation, of the search for truth and the acceptance of grace. We ask Christ, to reign in our hearts, making them pure, docile, filled with hope and courageous in humility.
From this park, foreseen as a memorial of the bicentenary of the birth of the Mexican nation, bringing together many differences towards one destiny and one common quest, we ask Christ for a pure heart, where he as Prince of Peace may dwell “thanks to the power of God who is the power of goodness, the power of love”. But for God to dwell in us, we need to listen to him; we must allow his Word to challenge us every day, meditating upon it in our hearts after the example of Mary (cf. Lk 2:51). In this way we grow in friendship with him, we learn to understand what he expects from us and we are encouraged to make him known to others.

At Aparecida, the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean saw with clarity the need to confirm, renew and revitalize the newness of the Gospel rooted deeply in the history of these lands “on the basis of a personal and community encounter with Jesus Christ which raises up disciples and missionaries” (Final Document, 11). The Continental Mission now taking place in the various dioceses of this continent has the specific task of transmitting this conviction to all Christians and ecclesial communities so that they may resist the temptation of a faith that is superficial and routine, at times fragmentary and incoherent. Here we need to overcome fatigue related to faith and rediscover “the joy of being Christians, of being sustained by the inner happiness of knowing Christ and belonging to his Church. From this joy spring the energies that are needed to serve Christ in distressing situations of human suffering, placing oneself at his disposition and not falling back on one’s own comfort” (Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2011). This can be seen clearly in the saints who dedicated themselves fully to the cause of the Gospel with enthusiasm and joy without counting the cost, even of life itself. Their heart was centred entirely on Christ from whom they had learned what it means to love until the end. 

In this sense the Year of Faith, to which I have convoked the whole Church, “is an invitation to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the only Saviour of the world […]. Faith grows when it is lived as an experience of love received and when it is communicated as an experience of grace and joy” (Porta Fidei 6, 7). 

Let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary to assist us in purifying our hearts, especially in view of the coming Easter celebrations, that we may enter more deeply the salvific mystery of her Son, as she made it known in this land. And let us also ask her to continue accompanying and protecting her Mexican and Latin American children, that Christ may reign in their lives and help them boldly to promote peace, harmony, justice and solidarity. Amen.

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

As we pray that the whole world may recognize the contribution of women to the development of society, let us give thanks for that woman whom Blessed John Paul II called “the highest expression of the feminine genius”—the Blessed Virgin Mary. Our reflection is from his 1995 “Letter to Women.”

The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the "feminine genius" and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth. Putting herself at God's service, she also put herself at the service of others: a service of love. Precisely through this service Mary was able to experience in her life a mysterious, but authentic "reign". It is not by chance that she is invoked as "Queen of heaven and earth". The entire community of believers thus invokes her; many nations and peoples call upon her as their "Queen". For her, "to reign" is to serve! Her service is "to reign"!

This is the way in which authority needs to be understood, both in the family and in society and the Church. Each person's fundamental vocation is revealed in this "reigning", for each person has been created in the "image" of the One who is Lord of heaven and earth and called to be his adopted son or daughter in Christ. Man is the only creature on earth "which God willed for its own sake", as the Second Vatican Council teaches; it significantly adds that man "cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self" (Gaudium et Spes # 24).

The maternal "reign" of Mary consists in this. She who was, in all her being, a gift for her Son, has also become a gift for the sons and daughters of the whole human race, awakening profound trust in those who seek her guidance along the difficult paths of life on the way to their definitive and transcendent destiny. Each one reaches this final goal by fidelity to his or her own vocation; this goal provides meaning and direction for the earthly labors of men and women alike.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Pope's Address to Youth in Guanajuato - Full Text

Dear Young People,

I am happy to be able to meet with you and to see your smiling faces as you fill this beautiful square. You have a very special place in the Pope’s heart. And in these moments, I would like all the children of Mexico to know this, especially those who have to bear the burden of suffering, abandonment, violence or hunger, which in recent months, because of drought, has made itself strongly felt in some regions. I am grateful for this encounter of faith, and for the festive and joyful presence expressed in song. 

Today we are full of jubilation, and this is important. God wants us to be happy always. He knows us and he loves us. If we allow the love of Christ to change our heart, then we can change the world. This is the secret of authentic happiness. This place where we stand today has a name which expresses the yearning present in the heart of each and every person: “la paz”, Peace. This is a gift which comes from on high. “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:21). These are the words of the Risen Lord. We hear them during each Mass, and today they resound anew in this place, with the hope that each one of you will be transformed, becoming a sower and messenger of that peace for which Christ offered his life. 

The disciple of Jesus does not respond to evil with evil, but is always an instrument of good instead, a herald of pardon, a bearer of happiness, a servant of unity. He wishes to write in each of your lives a story of friendship. Hold on to him, then, as the best of friends. He will never tire of speaking to those who always love and who do good. This you will hear, if you strive in each moment to be with him who will help you in more difficult situations. 

I have come that you may know my affection. Each one of you is a gift of God to Mexico and to the world. Your family, the Church, your school and those who have responsibility in society must work together to ensure that you receive a better world as your inheritance, without jealousies and divisions. That is why I wish to lift up my voice, inviting everyone to protect and to care for children, so that nothing may extinguish their smile, but that they may live in peace and look to the future with confidence. You, my dear young friends, are not alone. You can count on the help of Christ and his Church in order to live a Christian lifestyle. Participate in Sunday Mass, in catechesis, in apostolic works, looking for occasions of prayer, fraternity and charity.

Blessed Cristóbal, Antonio and Juan, the child martyrs of Tlaxcala, lived this way, and knowing Jesus, during the time of the initial evangelization of Mexico, they discovered that there is no greater treasure than he. They were children like you, and from them we can learn that we are never too young to love and serve. How I would like to spend more time with all of you, but the time has already come for me to go. We will remain close in prayer. So I invite you to pray continually, even in your homes; in this way, you will experience the happiness of speaking about God with your families. Pray for everyone, and also for me. I will pray for all of you, so that Mexico may be a place in which everyone can live in serenity and harmony. I bless all of you from my heart and I ask you to bring the affection and blessing of the Pope to your parents, brothers and sisters, and other loved ones. May the Virgin accompany you. Thank you very much, my dear young friends.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Photoblog - Pope Benedict XVI in Mexico

Yuri Cortez / AFP - Getty Images The motorcade escorting the popemobile of Pope Benedict XVI drives along Lopez Mateos Boulevard in the City of Leon, Mexico on March 23.

Alberto Pizzoli / AFP - Getty Images -Pope Benedict XVI (C) is welcomed by Mexican President Felipe Calderon (R) and his wife Margarita Zavala, upon his arrival at Silao's international airport in Guanajuato, Mexico, on March 23. The Pope arrived in Mexico for his first trip to Spanish-speaking Latin America which will also include a two-day visit to Cuba.
Dario Lopez-Mills / AP -People wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the airport in Silao, Mexico.
Alexandre Meneghini / AP -A boy peers through toy binoculars in a crowd of faithful waiting for Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival via pope mobile, in Leon, Mexico, Friday March 23. Benedict landed in Silao, Mexico, Friday afternoon, for the start of a weeklong trip to Mexico and Cuba; his first visit to both countries.

Bienvenido al corazon de Mexico’

‘Welcome to the heart of Mexico’ are the words emblazoned on a giant billboard at the entrance to Guanajuato airport and the people of this city, at the geographical centre of the country, have certainly pulled out all the stops to welcome the Pope. 

People of all ages had lined the route for hours, many climbing onto balconies or low roofs of buildings to get a better view, singing, waving flags, balloons and banners, or throwing yellow and white tickertape to carpet the papal route into town. At the official welcome ceremony under a white awning set up at the airport, Mexican president Felipe Calderon proudly reminded the Pope that his nation remains one of the most Catholic countries in the world. 

Despite a difficult history of conflict with the state over the past century, the Church here is renowned for its deep Marian devotion and for its dedication to the successor of Peter. Pope John Paul chose Mexico for his first ever pastoral journey in 1979 and made a total of five visits to this country, though he never fulfilled his wish to visit this city and the great statue of Christ the King standing on nearby Mount Cubilete with arms outstretched across the whole region. 

Loud cheers punctuated Pope Benedict’s first address to the people of Mexico as he told them he had come in the footsteps of his predecessor “as a pilgrim of faith, hope and love” to confirm them in their faith. Believers in Christ, he said, must act as a leaven in society, contributing to a respectful and peaceful coexistence based on the dignity of every human being. This dignity, he insisted, is expressed “in the fundamental right to freedom of religion in its full meaning and integrity” – a poignant message to his hosts in the Mexican government, currently debating legislation on religious liberty that would finally put an end to the anti-clerical discrimination of past decades. 

More articles on the Pope’s arrival in Mexico:

Pope arrives in Mexico as 'pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love

Waiting for the pope: Vatican flags, human wall -- and hope for peace

Full Text: Pope Benedict XVI's remarks on arrival in Mexico

Friday, March 23, 2012

Pope Benedict: communism no longer works in Cuba

Pope Benedict XVI has said that communism no longer works in Cuba and that the church is ready to help the island find new ways of moving forward without "trauma".

Speaking on the plane taking him from Rome for a trip to Mexico and Cuba, the pope told reporters: "Today it is evident that Marxist ideology in the way it was conceived no longer corresponds to reality."

Responding to a question about his visit to the island, a communist bastion 90 miles off the coast of the US, Benedict added: "New models must be found with patience and in a constructive way … we want to help."

Benedict, who is due to arrive in Cuba on Monday after a three-day visit to Mexico, called for freedom of conscience and freedom of religion on the island.

guardian.co.uk, Friday 23 March 2012

How to follow the pope's trip to Mexico and Cuba

On Friday March 23, the pope departed from Rome's Fiumicino Airport on a 14 hour flight to Leon, Mexico.

It's the beginning of his week long journey that will also include a visit to the island of Cuba. ROME REPORTS will be following the pope on his different meetings and encounters with the Mexican and Cuban people.
pon arrival in Mexico, he will be greeted by the Mexican President Felipe Calderón along with a localMariachi band.

Then in Cuba, he will be greeted by President Raul Castro. It's still not clear whether there will be a meeting with his brother Fidel.

After touring Cuba, Benedict XVI will fly back to Rome on March 29. Throughout that time ROME REPORTS will be providing daily updates as well as breaking news on facebook and twitter.

Also following the coverage will be the Vatican's own news service at the website news.va, as well as it's radio service Vatican Radio.

Optional Memorial of St. Turibio de Mogrovejo, bishop


Together with Rose of Lima, Turibio is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for twenty-six years.

Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events.

When the archbishopric of Lima in Spain's Peruvian colony became vacant, it was decided that Turibio was the man needed to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.

He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. He was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies (and suffering) to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. He confessed every morning to his chaplain, and celebrated Mass with intense fervor. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was Saint Rose of Lima, and possibly Saint Martin de Porres. After 1590 he had the help of another great missionary, Saint Francis Solanus.

His people, though very poor, were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibio solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

When Turibio undertook the reform of the clergy as well as unjust officials, he naturally suffered opposition. Some tried, in human fashion, to "explain" God's law in such a way as to sanction their accustomed way of life. He answered them in the words of Tertullian, "Christ said, 'I am the truth'; he did not say, 'I am the custom."'

Patron: Peru, Latin American Bishops, Native Rights, (Also, Lawyers may seek his intercession because he was a Lawyer in Spain)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Pope in Cuba


The island of Cuba is getting ready to welcome the Pope in more ways than one. The island recently released at least two official songs, that will be sung by locals when the Pope celebrates Mass on the island. 

One of the songs, translates to “Welcome, Holy Father.” It has a more classical tone, and its lyrics include, 'come with us and share on our table our bread and wine.'

The other song, which is more upbeat is titled “Pilgrim of Charity,” which precisely honors Our Lady of Charity, the patroness of Cuba. That song includes lyrics like, “Our Lady, here you have your throne and your home. Cuba is your beloved land that constantly blesses you.”

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

St. Nicholas of Flue

Today, the universal church celebrates the feast of St. Nicholas of Flue. During his lifetime, the Swiss saint had 10 children, became a hermit and later prevented a civil war. 

Nicholas was born in 1417 near the Lake of Lucerne in Switzerland. He married at the age of 30 and had 10 children. In addition to his duties as a husband and a father, Nicholas donated his talents and time selflessly to the community and always strove to give an excellent moral example to all. 

The saint was also able to devote much of his private life to developing a strong relationship with the Lord. He had a strict regime of fasting and he spent a great deal of time in contemplative prayer. 

Around the year 1467, when he was 50 years old, Nicholas felt called to retire from the world and become a hermit. His wife and children gave their approval, and he left home to live in a hermitage a few miles away. 

While living as a hermit, Nicholas soon gained a wide reputation on account of his personal sanctity and many people sought him out to request his prayers and spiritual advice. Nicholas lived the quiet life of a hermit for 13 years. However in 1481, a dispute arose between the delegates of the Swiss confederates at Stans and a civil war seemed imminent. The people called on Nicholas to settle the dispute, so he drafted several proposals which everyone eventually agreed on. Nicholas' work prevented civil war and solidified the country of Switzerland. But, as a true hermit, he then returned to his hermitage after settling the dispute. He died six years later on March 21, 1487 surrounded by his wife and children.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Daily Strength - God's Presence

During the course of the day, recollect as often as you can that you stand in the presence of God. Consider what He does and what you are doing. You will find His eyes turned towards you and perpetually fixed on you with an incomparable love. 

St. Francis de Sales

St. Photina

St. Photina was that Samaritan woman whom our Lord met at Jacob’s Well. When He disclosed the secret of her profligate life, she believed in Him at once as that Messiah which was to come, and began spreading the Gospel among the Samaritans, converting many. Later, she and her son Josiah and her five sisters went to Carthage to preach and then to Rome. Another son, Victor, was a soldier and had already come to Emperor Nero’s attention as being a Christian. The Emperor summoned the whole family and with threats and tortures tried to force them to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ. Meanwhile, when Nero’s daughter Domnina came in contact with Photina (the Lord Himself had given her the name, meaning “resplendent” or “shining with light”), she, too, was converted. The enraged emperor had the heads of the sons and sisters cut off; Photina was held in prison for a few more weeks before being thrown into a well, where she joyously gave her soul to the Lord.

Excerpted from Orthodox America

Monday, March 19, 2012

Benedict XVI celebrates his feast day quietly


March 19th is the feast day of St. Joseph. The adoptive father of Jesus, who cared for him and the Virgin Mary. 

The day is actually a holiday at the Vatican, since St. Joseph is the patron of the Catholic Church, and of course, since it's also the feast day of the Pope, Joseph Ratzinger. But this year, the day will be celebrated calmly, since the Pope is getting ready for his upcoming trip to Mexico and Cuba in late March.

Daily Strength - The Silence of St Joseph

The silence of Saint Joseph is given a special emphasis. His silence is steeped in contemplation of the mystery of God in an attitude of total availability to divine desires. It is a silence thanks to which Joseph, in unison with Mary, watches over the Word of God, known through the Sacred Scriptures, continuously comparing it with the events of the life of Jesus; a silence woven of constant prayer, a prayer of blessing of the Lord, of the adoration of His holy will and of unreserved entrustment to his providence. It is no exaggeration to think that it was precisely from his "father" Joseph that Jesus learned -- at the human level -- that steadfast interiority which is a presupposition of authentic justice.... Let us allow ourselves to be "filled" with Saint Joseph's silence! In a world that is often too noisy, that encourages neither recollection nor listening to God's voice.

Pope Benedict XVI -Angelus -December 18, 2005

St. Joseph

St. Joseph was an ordinary manual laborer although descended from the royal house of David. In the designs of Providence he was destined to become the spouse of the Mother of God. His high privilege is expressed in a single phrase, "Foster-father of Jesus." About him Sacred Scripture has little more to say than that he was a just man-an expression which indicates how faithfully he fulfilled his high trust of protecting and guarding God's greatest treasures upon earth, Jesus and Mary. 

The darkest hours of his life may well have been those when he first learned of Mary's pregnancy; but precisely in this time of trial Joseph showed himself great. His suffering, which likewise formed a part of the work of the redemption, was not without great providential import: Joseph was to be, for all times, the trustworthy witness of the Messiah's virgin birth. After this, he modestly retires into the background of holy Scripture. 

Of St. Joseph's death the Bible tells us nothing. There are indications, however, that he died before the beginning of Christ's public life. His was the most beautiful death that one could have, in the arms of Jesus and Mary. Humbly and unknown, he passed his years at Nazareth, silent and almost forgotten he remained in the background through centuries of Church history. 

Only in more recent times has he been accorded greater honor. Liturgical veneration of St. Joseph began in the fifteenth century, fostered by Sts. Brigid of Sweden and Bernadine of Siena. St. Teresa, too, did much to further his cult. At present there are two major feasts in his honor. On March 19 our veneration is directed to him personally and to his part in the work of redemption, while on May 1 we honor him as the patron of workmen throughout the world and as our guide in the difficult matter of establishing equitable norms regarding obligations and rights in the social order. 

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

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Pope's Sunday Angelus: prayerful attention to God and true human fellowship

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday appealed for continued commitment to achieving equitable access to safe water resources adequate to the needs of all.

Speaking after the traditional Angelus prayer on the Sunday that marks the mid-way point of the season of Lent, and in the context of the close – on Saturday – of the VI World Water Forum in Marseille, as well as the World Water Day to be celebrated this coming Thursday, the Pope expressed hope that the success of these initiatives will promote the right to life and the nutrition of every human person, as well as a responsible use of the Earth’s resources in a manner ordered to the common good, in the present and into the future.

Before the Angelus, the focus of the Holy Father’s brief catechesis was the great period of penitential preparation for Easter, in which the Church now finds Herself. He called the Lenten season, “A journey with Jesus across the ‘desert’ - a time, that is, in which to listen more and more closely to the voice of God, and to unmask the temptations that speak within each of us.”

It was a theme to which the Holy Father returned in his remarks to English-speaking pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square:

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus. This Sunday, we reach the mid-way point of our Lenten journey. As we continue on our way, we keep our eyes fixed upon our goal, when we will accompany our Lord on the path to Calvary, so as to rise with him to new life. May Christ, the light of the world, shine upon you and fill you with his blessings!

The Pope also had words of encouragement for a group of Italian workers facing the prospect of a mass-layoff, promising prayerful support to them and their families in the hope that a solution to their difficult situation might be found.

Finally, Pope Benedict asked all the faithful for prayers in support of his upcoming voyage to Mexico and Cuba. Speaking in Spanish, he entrusted the pilgrimage, “to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is so dearly known in those blessed lands under the names of Guadalupe and Charity.”

Fourth Sunday of Lent

How do we know, beyond a doubt, that God truly loves us and wants us to be united with him forever? For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). God proved his love for us by giving us the best he had to offer – his only begotten Son who freely gave himself as an offering to God for our sake and as the atoning sacrifice for our sin and the sin of the world. This passage tells us of the great breadth and width of God's love. Not an exclusive love for just a few or for a single nation, but an all-embracing redemptive love for the whole world, and a personal love for each and every individual whom God has created in his own image and likeness. God is a loving Father who cannot rest until his wandering children have returned home to him. Saint Augustine of Hippo says, "God loves each one of us as if there were only one of us to love." God gives us the freedom to choose whom and what we will love. Jesus shows us the paradox of love and judgment. We can love the darkness of sin and unbelief or we can love the light of God’s truth, beauty, and goodness. If our love is guided by what is true, and good and beautiful then we will choose for God and love him above all else. What we love shows what we prefer. Do you love God above all else? Do you give him first place in your life, in your thoughts, decisions and actions?

"Lord Jesus Christ, your death on the cross brought life, healing, and pardon for us. May your love consume and transform my life that I may desire you above all else. Help me to love what you love, to desire what you desire, and to reject what you reject".

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick

The patron saint of Ireland was British by birth. Kidnapped as a youth by Irish pirates and enslaved in Ireland, he was forced to tend sheep and swine. After six years he escaped and returned to his native land. But God moved him to forgive those who had enslaved him and he sought ordination in order to return to them and bring them the faith that can heal all wounds. He prayed and worked for those who had “persecuted” him. As we read the following excerpt from St. Patrick’s “Confessions,” let us pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world.

I was then about sixteen years of age. I knew not the true God; and I went into captivity to Ireland with many thousands of persons. … Now after I came to Ireland, tending flocks was my daily occupation; and constantly I used to pray in the day time. Love of God and the fear of him increased more and more, and faith grew, and the spirit was moved, so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night nearly as many, so that I used to stay even in the woods and on the mountain to this end. And before daybreak I used to be roused to prayer, in snow, in frost, in rain. And I felt no hurt nor was there any sluggishness in me—as I now see, because the spirit was then fervent within me. …

[After my escape] I saw in the night visions, a man whose name was Victoricus coming as it were from Ireland with countless letters. And he gave me one of them, and I read the beginning of the letter, which was entitled “The Voice of the Irish”; and while I was reading aloud the beginning of the letter, I thought that at that very moment I heard the voice of those who lived beside the Wood of Foclut, which is nigh unto the Western Sea. And thus they cried, as with one mouth: “We beseech thee, O holy youth, to come and walk once more among us.” And I was exceedingly broken in heart, and would read no further. And so I awoke. Thanks be to God, that after very many years the Lord granted to them according to their cry.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Follow the Pope's trip to Mexico and Cuba on Facebook and Twitter


The Pope will travel to Mexico and Cuba from March 23rd to 28th. For all the updates you can follow ROME REPORTS on Facebook and Twitter. 

As usual, ROME REPORTS has full coverage of the Pope's major events. Find out the latest information of Benedict XVI's second trip to Latin America

Which commandment is the first of all?

What makes our love for God and his commands grow in us? Faith in God and hope in his promises strengthen us in the love of God. They are essential for a good relationship with God, for being united with him. The more we know of God the more we love him and the more we love him the greater we believe and hope in his promises. The Lord, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, gives us a new freedom to love as he loves (Galatians 5:13). Do you allow anything to keep you from the love of God and the joy of serving others with a generous heart? Paul the Apostle says: hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit which has been given to us (Romans 5:5). Do you know the love which conquers all?

"We love you, O our God; and we desire to love you more and more. Grant to us that we may love you as much as we desire, and as much as we ought. O dearest friend, who has so loved and saved us, the thought of whom is so sweet and always growing sweeter, come with Christ and dwell in our hearts; that you keep a watch over our lips, our steps, our deeds, and we shall not need to be anxious either for our souls or our bodies. Give us love, sweetest of all gifts, which knows no enemy. Give us in our hearts pure love, born of your love to us, that we may love others as you love us. O most loving Father of Jesus Christ, from whom flows all love, let our hearts, frozen in sin, cold to you and cold to others, be warmed by this divine fire. So help and bless us in your Son." (Prayer of Anselm, 12th century)

Miggy spotlights special-needs children

Each Friday Miggy spotlight a different child with special needs and their amazing family. If you would like to participate in the spotlight or know anyone who would, please email her at thislittlemiggy at gmail dot com. or visit her website. A truly wonderful endeavour.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

World's best egg sandwich

Smitten Kitchen reveals the world's best egg sandwich--or as she put it, "how to, like, win at egg sandwiches"...

Recipe: Egg-and-Cheese Sandwich

You'll need:
An English muffin or two slices bread of your choice
1 to 2 teaspoons butter or oil
1 egg
Salt and pepper
1 slice of cheese or a tiny pile of grated or crumbled cheese
Spoonful of sliced scallions, chives, crumbled bacon, or whatever else you want in your eggs

Put the bread in a toaster. Heat a 9-inch skillet, preferably nonstick, on medium.

Beat one egg with ½ teaspoon water (or two eggs, with 1 teaspoon water), a couple pinches of salt and a few grinds of black pepper until just blended. I always use a fork for this.

Melt butter in your pan or brush it with oil, to thinly coat it. Pour in the eggs and roll them around so they cover the pan, as a thin crepe would.

Immediately plop a square of cheese or a small pile of grated cheese (for everyone else) in the middle. Toss whatever fixings you wish on top of the cheese.

A single egg will cook in 1 to 1½ minutes; two eggs in 2 minutes. You'll know its cooked when poking into it with a corner of your spatula won't cause any loose egg to slip through to the skillet.

Fold the part of the egg closest to you over the cheese, like the first part of a business letter fold. Repeat this on the three remaining "sides," forming a small square. You can also have fun (yes, I just said "fun") here and fold it into a shape that matches your bread, i.e. larger for sandwich bread, long-ish for rye. Leave the folded egg-and-cheese in the center of the skillet to cook for another 30 seconds, then slide onto you muffin or toast. Top the sandwich with the other half and eat it at once.

Daily Strength - The Road to Holiness

Jesus shows us that there is one area where no compromise should be accepted: God’s will. No matter what the cost, no matter what we may have to lose or give up, nothing should stand in the way of what the Father asks of us.

Pope calls the Virgin Mary a teacher of prayer


Benedict XVI traveled in the pope-mobile through St. Peter's Square, greeting thousands of pilgrims attending the general audience.

During the catechesis, the pope said the prayer of early Christians made it possible for the rapid spread of the Gospel. They learned from the Virgin Mary the importance of prayer and recollection.

Benedict XVI -“In all the events of her life, from the Annunciation through the Cross to Pentecost, Mary is presented by Saint Luke as a woman of recollected prayer and meditation on the mystery of God’s saving plan in Christ.”

The pope highlighted how Mary lived through the death of her Son and waited for the Resurrection in silence and dialogue with God. He said she is an example of the need of prayer to proclaim the Gospel.

Benedict XVI - “Let us entrust to her every moment of our own lives, and let her teach us the need for prayer, so that in loving union with her Son we may implore the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the spread of the Gospel to all the ends of the earth.”

During the audience, the pope blessed the torch of St. Benedict from the Benedictine religious order, which is being carried around Europe as a symbol of unity. The pope also rang the bell from the next International Eucharistic Congress as an invitation to the event that will gather thousands of laypeople in Ireland's capital of Dublin this June.

St. Louise de Marillac


St. Louise de Marrillac married an official of the royal court, Antony Le Gras, and after his death in 1625 was an active supporter of the charitable work of St Vincent de Paul, who came to put more and more reliance on her. Mademoiselle Le Gras, as she was known, became the co-founder with him of the Daughters of Charity, whose 'convent is the sick-room, their chapel the parish church, their cloister the city streets'; it was she who drew up the first draft of their rule of life. Her clear intelligence and wide sympathy played a big part in the beginnings of the congregation, whose aspirants she trained and whose rapid growth involved responsibilities which largely fell on her. At the time of her death there were already over forty houses of the sisters in France, the sick poor were looked after at home in twenty-six Parisian parishes, hundreds of women were given shelter, and there were other undertakings as well. St Louise was not physically robust, but she had great powers of endurance, and her selfless devotion was a source of incalculable help and encouragement to Monsieur Vincent.
— Dictionary of Saints by Donald Attwater.
Patron: Disappointing children, widows, loss of parents, sick people, social workers, Vincentian Service Corps, people rejected by religious orders.
Symbols: Saint Louise is depicted wearing the original Vincentian habit of grey wool with a large headdress of white linen (typical of poor women in 17th century Brittany), perhaps with an infant in her arms.