Monday, April 30, 2012

Dressing Like a Lady

A London fashion designer is teaching young women to dress virtuously, after her brother's death made her rethink her life and career.

“I want to invest some time and love into the next generation,” said Helena Machin, who also works with high-profile clients as the creative director for a French milliner. Through her “Style Masterclasses,” she is showing women how to be “well-dressed” in every sense of the word.

“I want to have them embrace their femininity by modest and attractive dress and in doing so, fulfill their God-given potential,” Machin recently told CNA.

Helena came up with the masterclass idea after her twin brother James passed away from a terminal illness three years ago.

“He spent his life serving others, showing them the way to Christ through his heroic example, despite being unwell for a lot of the time,” she recalled. “Through his good humor and good example he brought many people back to their faith.”

Around the same time Machin discovered Opus Dei, and its emphasis on the spiritual dimension of work and everyday life. Through the teachings of the organization's founder Saint Josemaria Escriva, she grew determined to sanctify her work in the fashion industry. 

In a talk given at a charity foundation on Jan. 26, the designer discussed different body types and gave tips on dressing accordingly. 

Emily Green, a 19-year-old business student at King's College in London, said the Style Masterclass “redefines the roles and distinction between men and women.” 

“Women have become too manly in order to fit in the workplace,” Green observed. “This confuses the men and reasserts their position in a violent way, yet women don't expect or desire that.”

“I love Helena's approach to design,” said Green. “She has perfect terminology so you can tell she knows what she's talking about and she's on top of it, and this just captivates the audience. She believes dressing is a language, and it's so true.” 

“We all want social recognition, and sometimes girls may dress just to fit in. But they don't realize they're just attracting less respect. If you don't respect yourself, others can't respect you.”

Medical student Vicky Weissmann told CNA she considered it “polite and a courtesy to others to dress well.”

According to Machin, this message of decorum works both ways.

The designer offered a tip to all young women: “If you want to be treated like a lady, dress like a lady.”

While continuing her professional work in the world of women's hats, Machin will also be giving presentations in schools and university chaplaincies.

Novena for Work - By St. Josemaria

On the eve of May Day - International Workers' Day, we pray for the many all over the world who are in need of work by saying the novena for for inspired by St. Josemaria.

According to St. Josemaria Escriva, "Work is part and parcel of man's life on earth. It involves effort, weariness, exhaustion: signs of the suffering and struggle which accompany human existence and which point to the reality of sin and the need for redemption. But in itself work is not a penalty or a curse or a punishment (...) work is a gift from makes no sense to classify men differently, according to their occupation, as if some jobs were nobler than others. Work, all work, bears witness to the dignity of man, to his dominion over creation. It is an opportunity to develop one's personality. It is a bond of union with others, the way to support one's family, a means of aiding in the improvement of the society in which we live and in the progress of all humanity." (Christ is Passing By, 47)

The Novena for Work by Fr. Francisco Faus is inspired by St. Josemaria's supernatural view of work and his dedication to helping all people discover the value and dignity of their work. The novena is intended as an aid to anyone who is looking for a job or anyone who is facing hardship or conflict at work. It is also a great form of prayer for anyone who desires to sanctify their work and professional outlook.

The novena contains daily reflections from the writings of St. Josemaria, prayers for finding a job or doing your job well, and the Prayer for the Intercession of St. Josemaria.

St. Pius V

Today’s saint was born in northern Italy and entered the Dominican Order when he was fourteen. After becoming Pope he implemented the decrees of the Council of Trent and helped form an alliance that led to the defeat of the Turkish navy, which was in control of the Mediterranean Sea, at the Battle of Lepanto. He attributed the victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory, now celebrated as Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. As we pray the following prayer to Mary, let us lift up Pope Benedict, his monthly intentions, the entire Church, and the world.

Virgin most powerful, loving helper of the Christian people, how great thanks do we not owe you for the assistance you gave our ancestors, who, when they were threatened by the Turkish navy, invoked your maternal help by the devout recitation of your Rosary! From heaven you saw their deadly peril. You heard their voices imploring your compassion and their humble prayers, enjoined by the great Pope, St. Pius V, were acceptable to you. You came quickly to deliver them. Grant, dear Mother, that in like manner the prolonged sighs of the holy Bride of Christ in these our days may come to your throne and engage your pity. Be moved once again to compassion for her, rise once again to deliver her from the many foes who encompass her on every side. Even now from the four quarters of the earth there arises to your throne that loved prayer, to win your mercy in these troublesome times even as of old. Unhappily, our sins hinder, or at least, retard its effect. Wherefore, dear Mother, obtain for us true sorrow for our sins and a firm resolution to face death itself rather than return to our former iniquities. We are sore distressed that, through our fault, your help, of which we stand in such extreme need, should be denied or come too late. Rise, then, O Mary, incline yourself to hear the prayers of the whole Catholic world. Let it be seen once more that when you arise to protect the Church, her victory is sure. Amen.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Discernment Prayer

God You made me.

Show me what you want to do with my life.

Lead me. Guide me.

Give me a listening heart,

ready to hear what you are asking of me,

and prompt to respond.

Give me a heart on fire with love for you

and for those whom you wish me to serve.


Pope Benedict: The Good Shepherd gives his life for his sheep

It was day to remember for 9 deacons who were ordained on this World Day of Prayer for Religious Vocations by Pope Benedict XVI in St Peter’s Basilica. Eight of the deacons were from the diocese of Rome, one a former pilot, another a chemistry graduate. Also ordained on Sunday was a deacon from Vietnam who had previously been a lawyer.

Speaking to the congregation on Sunday which included the family and friends of the new priests, the Holy Father said, the Priest like the Shepherd is called to lead the faithful entrusted to him to true life, “a life in abundance”

The new priests listened as the Pope told them that the value of their priestly life was not just about social works, it was also about living a life in the vital presence of God.

That presence, continued Pope Benedict was made all the more intense when the weight of the priest’s cross in life is heavier.

Referring to Sunday’s readings, Pope Benedict also noted, during his Homily, that Jesus had '' lived an experience of being rejected by the leaders of his people, yet helped by God he founded a new church.

The priest, said the Pope, is called to live the experience Jesus lived, to give himself fully to his work as preacher and healer.

Following Mass the Holy Father recited the Regina Caeli during which he prayed that more people would hear Christ’s call.

"Today’s Gospel highlights the figure of Christ the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his flock. Today we also pray for vocations to the priesthood: may more young men hear Christ’s call to follow him more closely, and offer their lives to serve their brothers and sisters. God’s peace be with you all!"

Read Pope Benedict XVI Full Message for the 49 th World Day of Prayer for Vocations - Here

Fourth Sunday of Easter

On this 49th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we reflect once more on Pope Benedict’s Message for this important day.

Dear brother bishops, dear priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, catechists, pastoral workers and all of you who are engaged in the field of educating young people: I fervently exhort you to pay close attention to those members of parish communities, associations and ecclesial movements who sense a call to the priesthood or to a special consecration. It is important for the Church to create the conditions that will permit many young people to say “yes” in generous response to God’s loving call.

The task of fostering vocations will be to provide helpful guidance and direction along the way. Central to this should be love of God’s word nourished by a growing familiarity with sacred Scripture, and attentive and unceasing prayer, both personal and in community; this will make it possible to hear God’s call amid all the voices of daily life. But above all, the Eucharist should be the heart of every vocational journey: it is here that the love of God touches us in Christ’s sacrifice, the perfect expression of love, and it is here that we learn ever anew how to live according to the “high standard” of God’s love. Scripture, prayer and the Eucharist are the precious treasure enabling us to grasp the beauty of a life spent fully in service of the Kingdom. It is my hope that the local Churches and all the various groups within them, will become places where vocations are carefully discerned and their authenticity tested, places where young men and women are offered wise and strong spiritual direction. In this way, the Christian community itself becomes a manifestation of the Love of God in which every calling is contained.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

St. Louis Mary de Montfort

Pope John Paul was deeply influenced by this saint, a French priest who wrote extensively about devotion to Mary and who gave parish missions around France. Let us pray for Pope Benedict’s intentions, asking that Mary may take them and our daily offering, and present them to Jesus. Our reflection is from Pope John Paul’s Apostolic Letter on the Most Holy Rosary.

Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of “learning him”. In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary? From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ (John 14: 26; 15: 26; 16: 13). But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother. …

The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary's side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (Galatians 4: 19). This role of Mary, totally grounded in that of Christ and radically subordinated to it, “in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather shows its power” (Lumen Gentium #60). This is the luminous principle expressed by the Second Vatican Council which I have so powerfully experienced in my own life and have made the basis of my episcopal motto: Totus Tuus. The motto is of course inspired by the teaching of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, who explained in the following words Mary's role in the process of our configuration to Christ: “Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, his Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ”.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Seven-year-old girl fulfills dream to hug Pope Benedict

A 7-year-old Italian girl got her wish granted after this week’s Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter’s Square, when she was able to give a hug to “her friend” Pope Benedict XVI.

Miriam Gentile, who suffers from cerebral palsy, was born in the city of Catanzaro on April 22, 2005, three days after Benedict XVI’s election to the papacy. She has been receiving treatment for her condition at the Gemelli and Bambino Gesu Hospitals in Rome. 

At the conclusion of the General Audience on April 25, she personally greeted the Pope and gave him what the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano described as “an unforgettable hug that was simple, spontaneous, and an expression of joy and affection.”

Her father, Marino Gentile, said Miriam “watches the Pope on television all the time, because seeing him makes her happy.”

Among those attending the General Audience this week a group of children aged 5-12 from the Italian city of Parma participating in a program to promote sports as “a healthy way to have fun,” said the group’s spokesman, Giuseppe Formisano.

Olympic gold-medal skier Maria Hofl-Riesch of Germany also attended the audience to offer the pontiff best wishes for his 85th birthday on April 16, and the seventh anniversary of his pontificate on April 19.

The German skier is one of many celebrities who shared their testimonies about the Pope in a new book entitled, “Benedict XVI: Celebrities Talk About the Pope,” published to mark his birthday.

During an audience, Benedict XVI was presented with a relic of the venerable Elena Aiello, the first blessed woman from the Italian region of Calabria.

He then received a couple who had lost their son due to a motor accident. Their loss was mentioned in the general audience when the pope offered them his prayers and made an invitation for safe driving by everyone.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

365 Grateful

What a wonderful story and project! Hailey is a photographer in Brisbane, Australia. A few years ago, she was feeling really down for no good reason. She asked advice of a wise nun who told her the secret to happiness: reflection and gratitude. The nun asked her to write something down every day that she was grateful for.

Hailey says, “It really surprised me how quickly I began to notice things that I otherwise would have missed. I remember sitting on my bed one night and realising that the little moments I was thinking through were really special and if I had not taken the time to notice them they would be lost forever.

It shocked me how much I had missed so I started to take the project seriously. I got a beautiful album and ordered enough polaroid film to see me through a year! (and lucky I did!) Taking one photo every day for a year of something I was grateful for really re-programmed my brain. I couldn't believe how much gratitude affected my life. Seeing and celebrating the good in my life affected not only the way I felt spiritually and physically but it improved my relationships with others too.”

Here’s a beautiful little video that shares more about the 365 Grateful project: from hailey bartholomew on Vimeo.

Our Lady of Good Counsel

On the Feast of Saint Mark, April 25 1467, the people of Genazzano, Italy witnessed a marvellous sight. A cloud descended upon an ancient church dedicated to Our Lady of Good Counsel. When the cloud disappeared, an image of Our Lady and the Child Jesus was revealed which had not been there before. The image, on a paper-thin sheet, was suspended miraculously.

Soon after the image's appearance many miracles were attributed to the intercession of Our Lady of Good Counsel. Because of this, Pope Paul II ordered an investigation and the results have been preserved.

It was later discovered that the very same image had been seen in a church dedicated to the Annunciation in Scutari, Albania. The image in this church was said to have arrived there in a miraculous manner. Now, the image had been transported from Albania miraculously to avoid sacrilege from Moslem invasion.

A commission of enquiry determined that a portrait from the church was indeed missing. An empty space the same size as the portrait was displayed for all to see.

Many miracles continue to be attributed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. Pope Saint Pius V, for example, credited victory in the Battle of Lepanto to Her intercession.

Several Popes have approved the miraculous image. In 1682 Pope Innocent XI had the portrait crowned with gold. On July 2 1753 Pope Benedict XIV approved the Scapular of Our Lady of Good Counsel, and was the first to wear it.

In 1884 a special Mass and Office of the Feast of Our Lady of Good Counsel was approved by Pope Leo XIII.

For more than 500 years the image has continued to attract countless pilgrims.

Although much of the church was destroyed during World War II, the image has remained intact — and continues to be suspended miraculously.

Patron: Albania, enlightenment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

St. Mark

St. Mark is usually identified with John Mark, whose mother Mary’s house was used as a meeting place by the early Church in Jerusalem (Acts 12: 12, 25). His cousin was St. Barnabas and, when St. Paul and St. Barnabas went on a missionary journey, Mark accompanied them. But Mark left them and St. Paul’s loss of confidence in him led to a split with Barnabas. In time they were reconciled and Mark helped Paul when he was in prison in Rome (see Colossians 4: 10). It was while he was in Rome that Mark got to know St. Peter (1 Peter 5: 13) from whom he acquired the material to write the Gospel that bears his name. This small picture of the early Church shows that conversion is not a one-time deal and that growth in holiness is ongoing. As we pray for vocations and for hope for Africans, let us reflect on Pope Benedict’s response to a seminarian who asked: “How can we respond to such a demanding vocation as that of shepherds of God's holy People while being constantly aware of our weakness and inconsistencies?”

It is good to recognize one's weakness because in this way we know that we stand in need of the Lord's grace. The Lord comforts us. In the Apostolic College there was not only Judas but also the good Apostles; yet, Peter fell and many times the Lord reprimanded the Apostles for their slowness, the closure of their hearts and their scant faith. He therefore simply shows us that none of us is equal to this great yes…. To console us, the Lord has also given us these parables of the net with the good fish and the bad fish, of the field where wheat but also tares grow. He makes us realize that he came precisely to help us in our weakness, and that he did not come, as he says, to call the just, those who claim they are righteous through and through and are not in need of grace, those who pray praising themselves; but he came to call those who know they are lacking, to provoke those who know they need the Lord's forgiveness every day, that they need his grace in order to progress.

I think this is very important: to recognize that we need an ongoing conversion, that we are simply not there yet. St Augustine, at the moment of his conversion, thought he had reached the heights of life with God, of the beauty of the sun that is his Word. He then had to understand that the journey after conversion is still a journey of conversion, that it remains a journey where the broad perspectives, joys and lights of the Lord are not absent; but nor are dark valleys absent through which we must wend our way with trust, relying on the goodness of the Lord.

Prayer enables us to see things in a different way

In our own daily lives and decisions, may we always draw fresh spiritual breath from the two lungs of prayer and the word of God; in this way, we will respond to every challenge and situation with wisdom, understanding and fidelity to God’s will", said the Pope during the general audience.


In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now consider the decision of the early Church to set aside seven men to provide for the practical demands of charity (cf. Acts 6:1-4). This decision, made after prayer and discernment, provided for the needs of the poor while freeing the Apostles to devote themselves primarily to the word of God. 

It is significant that the Apostles acknowledge the importance of both prayer and works of charity, yet clearly give priority to prayer and the proclamation of the Gospel. In every age the saints have stressed the deep vital unity between contemplation and activity. 

Prayer, nourished by faith and enlightened by God’s word, enables us to see things in a new way and to respond to new situations with the wisdom and insight bestowed by the Holy Spirit. In our own daily lives and decisions, may we always draw fresh spiritual breath from the two lungs of prayer and the word of God; in this way, we will respond to every challenge and situation with wisdom, understanding and fidelity to God’s will.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Finland, Sweden, Nigeria, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord. Thank you!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

St. Fidelis

In the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, there’s a line that gives a great promise: “Remain faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (2: 10). It was this passage to which today’s saint referred when he became a Capuchin Franciscan and changed his name from Mark to Fidelis, which is Latin for “faithful”. In 1622 the Pope created a special congregation in the Vatican to coordinate the Church’s missionary activities—the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith, which sent St. Fidelis to Switzerland. His goal, for which he ended up being martyred, was to reconcile with the Church those who had left Catholicism. Let us pray for our own faithfulness which will provide a good environment in which young people can hear the call to priesthood or consecrated life. The following is some advice that Pope Benedict gave to young people whom he encouraged to be open to such a vocation.

I think it is important to be attentive to the Lord’s gestures on our journey. He speaks to us through events, through people, through encounters: it is necessary to be attentive to all of this. Then, a second point, it is necessary to enter into real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who Jesus is only from others or from books, but to live an ever deeper personal relationship with Jesus, where we can begin to understand what he is asking of us.

And then, the awareness of what I am, of my possibilities: on the one hand, courage, and on the other, humility, trust and openness, with the help also of friends, of Church authority and also of priests, of family: what does the Lord want of me? Of course, this is always a great adventure, but life can be successful only if we have the courage to be adventurous, trusting that the Lord will never leave me alone, that the Lord will go with me and help me.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Best Job in the World

I had such an emotional response to this commercial. Something about that universal parenting experience of waking up a sleepy child to start a new day, of feeding and clothing your children — and the idea that it’s happening all over the world. Oh man! I’m tearing up just thinking about how much of the human experience we share in common. Such a well done video!

St. George

St. George is venerated by the Eastern Church among her "great martyrs" and "standard-bearers." He belonged to the Roman army; he was arrested and, probably, beheaded under Diocletian, c. 304. He is the patron of England, since 800. St. George is one of the "Fourteen Holy Helpers."

Many legends are attached to Saint George. The most famous is the one in The Golden Legend. There was a dragon that lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Not even armies could defeat this creature, and he terrorized flocks and the people. St. George was passing through and upon hearing about a princess was about to be eaten, he went to battle against the serpent, and killed it with one blow with his lance. Then with his great preaching, George converted the people. He distributed his reward to the poor, then left the area.

Patron: Aragon; agricultural workers; archers; armourers; Beirut; Lebanon; Boy Scouts; butchers; Canada; Cappadocia; Catalonia; cavalry; chivalry; Constantinople; Crusaders; England; equestrians; farmers; Ferrara Italy; field hands; field workers; Genoa, Italy; Georgia; Germany; Gozo; Greece; herpes; horsemen; horses; husbandmen; Istanbul; knights; lepers; leprosy; Lithuania; Malta; Moscow; Order of the Garter; Palestine; Palestinian Christians; plague; Portugal; riders; saddle makers; saddlers; skin diseases; skin rashes; soldiers; syphilis; Teutonic Knights; Venice.

Patron: England; scouting.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

St. Anselm

Today’s saint, a great theologian, was born in northern Italy, became a Benedictine monk in France, and was made the Archbishop of Canterbury, England in 1093. Let us pray for vocations to the consecrated life and priesthood and also that the Risen Christ may give hope to the people of Africa as we reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s General Audience of September 23, 2009 when he talked about St. Anselm.

"I pray, O God, to know you, to love you, that I may rejoice in you. And if I cannot attain to full joy in this life may I at least advance from day to day, until that joy shall come to the full" (Proslogion, chapter 14). This prayer enables us to understand the mystical soul of this great Saint of the Middle Ages, the founder of scholastic theology, to whom Christian tradition has given the title: "Magnificent Doctor", because he fostered an intense desire to deepen his knowledge of the divine Mysteries but in the full awareness that the quest for God is never ending, at least on this earth. The clarity and logical rigor of his thought always aimed at "raising the mind to contemplation of God".

He states clearly that whoever intends to study theology cannot rely on his intelligence alone but must cultivate at the same time a profound experience of faith. The theologian's activity, according to St Anselm, thus develops in three stages: faith, a gift God freely offers, to be received with humility; experience, which consists in incarnating God's word in one's own daily life; and therefore true knowledge, which is never the fruit of ascetic reasoning but rather of contemplative intuition. In this regard his famous words remain more useful than ever, even today, for healthy theological research and for anyone who wishes to deepen his knowledge of the truths of faith: "I do not endeavor, O Lord, to penetrate your sublimity, for in no wise do I compare my understanding with that; but I long to understand in some degree your truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in order to understand. For this also I believe, that unless I believed, I should not understand". Dear brothers and sisters, may the love of the truth and the constant thirst for God that marked St Anselm's entire existence be an incentive to every Christian to seek tirelessly an ever more intimate union with Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Follow Me

We pray for young people, that they may be able to better hear Christ calling them to follow him as priests and religious, as we reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s 2011 Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

It is a challenging and uplifting invitation that Jesus addresses to those to whom he says: “Follow me!”. He invites them to become his friends, to listen attentively to his word and to live with him. He teaches them complete commitment to God and to the extension of his kingdom in accordance with the law of the Gospel: “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit ” (Jn 12:24). He invites them to leave behind their own narrow agenda and their notions of self-fulfillment in order to immerse themselves in another will, the will of God, and to be guided by it. He gives them an experience of fraternity, one born of that total openness to God (cf. Mt 12:49-50) which becomes the hallmark of the community of Jesus: “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35).

It is no less challenging to follow Christ today. It means learning to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, growing close to him, listening to his word and encountering him in the sacraments; it means learning to conform our will to his. … Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by “other voices” and his invitation to follow him by the gift of one’s own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations. It is important to encourage and support those who show clear signs of a call to priestly life and religious consecration, and to enable them to feel the warmth of the whole community as they respond “yes” to God and the Church.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Today is the seventh anniversary of Pope Benedict’s election. Let us pray for him and all his intentions as we read part of the address he gave a year after he became Pope.

At the beginning of today's General Audience which is taking place in the joyful atmosphere of Easter, I would like to thank the Lord together with you. After calling me, exactly a year ago, to serve the Church as the Successor of the Apostle Peter - thank you for your joy, thank you for your applause - he never fails to assist me with his indispensable help.

How quickly time passes! A year has already elapsed since the Cardinals gathered in Conclave and, in a way I found absolutely unexpected and surprising, desired to choose my poor self to succeed the late and beloved Servant of God, the great Pope John Paul II. I remember with emotion my first impact with the faithful gathered in this same Square, from the central Loggia of the Basilica, immediately after my election. That meeting is still impressed upon my mind and heart. It was followed by many others that have given me an opportunity to experience the deep truth of my words at the solemn concelebration with which I formally began to exercise my Petrine ministry: "I too can say with renewed conviction: I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone".

And I feel more and more that alone I could not carry out this task, this mission. But I also feel that you are carrying it with me: thus, I am in a great communion and together we can go ahead with the Lord's mission. The heavenly protection of God and of the saints is an irreplaceable support to me and I am comforted by your closeness, dear friends, who do not let me do without the gift of your indulgence and your love. I offer very warm thanks to all those who in various ways support me from close at hand or follow me from afar in spirit with their affection and their prayers. I ask each one to continue to support me, praying to God to grant that I may be a gentle and firm Pastor of his Church.

Pope, St. Leo IX

Before becoming Pope, St. Leo IX was known as Bruno. He was bitten by a poisonous reptile when a boy, but St. Benedict appeared to Bruno and cured him. In 1026, Bruno, then a deacon, commanded troops in Italy under the Emperor. The Bishop of Toul died during this time, and upon Bruno's return, he was made Bishop of Toul, where he remained for twenty years. After the death of Pope Damasus II in 1048, Bruno was elected to succeed him. As Pope, he denounced simony and began many needed reforms, traveling extensively to ensure their enforcement. For this reason he was given the title Peregrinus Apostolicus, Apostolic Pilgrim. St. Leo condemned the doctrines of Berengarius, who denied Transubstantiation. He increased the papal territory, though he was criticized by St. Peter Damian when he went to battle to defend it. He opposed the Patriarch of Constantinople, Michael Cerularius; this began the complete separation of Rome from the Eastern Church. Within 40 days of St. Leo's death, there were 70 cures through his intercession.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Biological life

'Biological life is in itself a gift, yet it begs an important question. It becomes a true gift only if, together with that life, we are given a promise stronger than any misfortune that may threaten us, if life is immersed in a power which guarantees that it is a good thing to be a man, and that the person is a benefit whatever the future may bring. In this way rebirth is associated with birth, the certainty that it is good to exist because the promise is greater than the threat'.

Pope Benedict XVI as he celebrated Mass on his 85th birthday

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Daily Strength - Respect Life

As God recognized each of us before we were born, and called us by name, so too may we recognize the value of each human life and pledge ourselves to continue to defend and nurture God's greatest gift to us.

-- NCCB 1992 Respect Life Manual

The harvest is great, but the laborers are few

As we pray with Pope Benedict that many young people may hear the call of Christ and follow him in the priesthood and religious life, let us turn to a reflection by Fernando Cavada-Guzman, a Chilean layman, father, grandfather, and vice-president of communications for Serra International, an organization dedicated to praying and supporting vocations.

The Lord Jesus said to his apostles ‘The harvest is great, but the laborers are few. Pray the Lord of the harvest, then, that he may send laborers into his harvest.’ (Lk.10:2) Today, too, the harvest is great and the laborers are few. In some places in the world we might say that there is no shortage of priests or of religious men and women, that the faithful are well provided for, well supported by enough priests. But the reality is that in the majority of local churches the shortage of men and women especially consecrated to the Lord is very strongly evident; many communities all over the Catholic world do not have pastors who encourage them to live according to the gospel of Jesus Christ; there are priestless parishes in many places; that means that on many Sundays or feast-days the Eucharist is not celebrated in those parishes; the faithful in those parishes do not celebrate the LORD’S SUPPER, do not celebrate CHRIST’S SACRIFICE. …

Certainly the Lord calls, certainly he is calling now and will never cease to call, but this call needs a response from the man or woman who is called. This response is blocked today by the secularism and materialism that consume our societies – and that is where the Holy Father asks us to intervene. The Church is made up of all the baptized, so we are responsible, laypeople together with our pastors, that the Lord may have enough ‘laborers for his harvest.’ His Holiness asks us to pray, in this intention, that many young people may be able to receive Christ’s call, and follow him in the priesthood and in religious life, so that there may never be a lack of holy religious, men and women, who may sanctify his Church and us, his children.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy Birthday - Pope Benedict!

Today is Pope Benedict’s 85th birthday. As we pray that many young people may hear the call of Christ and follow him in the priesthood and religious life, let us reflect on Pope Benedict’s response to 22 year old Vittorio who, in 2006, asked him about his vocation and for advice on discerning a vocation.

As for me, I grew up in a world very different from the world today, but in the end situations are similar. On the one hand, the situation of "Christianity" still existed, where it was normal to go to church and to accept the faith as the revelation of God, and to try to live in accordance with his revelation; on the other, there was the Nazi regime which loudly stated: "In the new Germany there will be no more priests, there will be no more consecrated life, we do not need these people; look for another career". However, it was precisely in hearing these "loud" voices, in facing the brutality of that system with an inhuman face, that I realized that there was instead a great need for priests. This contrast, the sight of that anti-human culture, confirmed my conviction that the Lord, the Gospel and the faith were pointing out the right path, and that we were bound to commit ourselves to ensuring that this path survives. In this situation, my vocation to the priesthood grew with me, almost naturally, without any dramatic events of conversion. …

To return to the question, I think it is important to be attentive to the Lord's gestures on our journey. He speaks to us through events, through people, through encounters: it is necessary to be attentive to all of this. Then, a second point, it is necessary to enter into real friendship with Jesus in a personal relationship with him and not to know who Jesus is only from others or from books, but to live an ever deeper personal relationship with Jesus, where we can begin to understand what he is asking of us. And then, the awareness of what I am, of my possibilities: on the one hand, courage, and on the other, humility, trust and openness, with the help also of friends, of Church authority and also of priests, of families: what does the Lord want of me? Of course, this is always a great adventure, but life can be successful only if we have the courage to be adventurous, trusting that the Lord will never leave me alone, that the Lord will go with me and help me.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Benedict XVI: Celebrating his birthday and election as Pope

On April 16, 2005 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger turned 78 years old. Two days later he took part in the conclave to elect the man who would follow John Paul II. What happened 24 hours later, is now part of history.

“Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; Habemus Papam. Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Josephum Sanctæ Romanæ Ecclesiæ Cardinalem Ratzinger qui sibi nomen imposuit Benedicti XVI”

He was elected seven years ago. During his pontificate, he has written three encyclicals and has taken on 30 trips- in and outside of Italy. As a whole, he has visited 21 countries in five differentcontinents. Aside from his seventh anniversary as Pope, he will turn 85 on April 16th. 

As a way to celebrate his birthday, on April 20th, free beer will he handed out in the Plaza of the Regensburg Cathedral. That same day, the Leipzig Symphony Orchestra will perform at the Vatican. And in the town where he was born, a special stamp has been designed so that all the letters mailed out that day, will show his image. 

“Above, I will pray for him and leading by example, I'll also try to bring Christ to many people.”

“I wish him good health and serenity. May he always have the strength to show faith through his words, culture and deep preparation.”

“I would like to say 'Happy Birthday to Pope Benedict XVI.' I want to thank him very much for all the work he does.”

“As a gift, I'd like to give the Pope a little more time to himself. I hope he gets to enjoy the day with his brother.”

Since the year 2005, the month of April has always had a special meaning for Benedict XVI. Both for his birthday and of course because of his election as Pope.

Pope Benedict XVI and His Bother Monsignor Georg Ratzinger

In this picture made available by the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano, Sunday, April 15, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI meets with his brother Monsignor Georg Ratzinger at the Vatican, Saturday, April 14, 2012. The Pontiff has asked for prayers and for strength to carry on as he marks his seventh anniversary as pope this week. Benedict made the comments to thousands of people gathered in St. Peter's Square for his traditional Sunday blessing. In addition to the anniversary, Benedict marks another milestone this week: his 85th birthday Monday. Benedict plans to celebrate with his older brother, Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, who flew in from Germany over the weekend. - AP Photo/Osservatore Romano

The Sunday of the Octave of Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday

Today, the Second Sunday of Easter, is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. In the 1930’s Jesus appeared to a Polish nun, now known as St. Faustina, and told her to promote this designation and to have an image painted that showed red and white rays coming from the center of his chest, and the words, “Jesus, I trust in You.” The rays remind us of the red blood and clear water or fluid that St. John says came out of Jesus’ Heart when it was pierced on the cross. They are a symbol of his mercy. Jesus—his death and resurrection, the mercy pouring forth from his pierced heart—is our hope, the only hope for humanity. Let us draw near to this Heart of Mercy. In our prayer today let us take all humanity with us to that Heart which is the source of Divine Mercy. Let us pray in particular that Divine Mercy may touch the hearts of young people so that they will want to return love for love and follow Christ in a religious vocation. May Divine Mercy also touch the people of Africa and give them the hope that only Christ can give. Our prayer is from #1074 and #1076 of St. Faustina’s Diary where she records Jesus’ words to her.

My beloved daughter, write down these words. …Tell the world about My mercy and My love. The flames of mercy are burning me. I desire to pour them out upon human souls. Oh, what pain they cause Me when they do not want to accept them! My daughter, do whatever is within your power to spread devotion to My mercy. I will make up for what you lack. Tell aching mankind to snuggle close to My merciful Heart, and I will fill it with peace. Tell [all people] that I am Love and Mercy itself. When a soul approaches Me with trust, I fill it with such an abundance of graces that it cannot contain them within itself, but radiates them to other souls.

Write this: Everything that exists is enclosed in the bowels of My mercy, more deeply than an infant in its mother’s womb. How painfully distrust of My goodness wounds Me! Sins of distrust wound Me most painfully.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

"My Brother, the Pope" now on bookshelves

Georg Ratzinger is the brother of Benedict XVI and his last living relative. In his new book “My Brother, the Pope,” he tells the story of their personal history that spans close to nine decades.

Pope Benedict XVI was born in 1927 in the small Bavarian town of Marktl. He grew up the son of a police officer in a Catholic family. He was also the youngest of three children in the Ratzinger family. His brother Georg was the oldest child, followed by their sister Maria.

Georg and Joseph joined the seminary together after coming home from the war. However, when they arrived home, they found a Germany that was very different from what they remembered.

Georg Ratzinger
“At that time every soldier coming back from the war had to prove that he had a job, to ensure that no one was idle, but that everyone participated in rebuilding the country which was largely destroyed.”

First hand accounts like this are told in the new book “My Brother, the Pope”. It tells the life stories of Georg and his brother Joseph, talking about everything from their time in the seminary to how their parents reacted when they announced they would enter the priesthood.

Georg Ratzinger
“They said that one shouldn't influence children in their choice of vocation, at most advise, but children must live their own lives. When it comes to the finding one´s vocation, parents shouldn't determine or to reject what their children want.”

Georg also gives a look at the more personal side of the public figure of Benedict XVI, discussing how the two have grown in their fraternal relationship. He also talks about some of the daily habits of the pope that we often don't hear about.

Georg Ratzinger
“He actually doesn’t have much time for recreation. He goes to sleep early. Some think he is a night worker, but he is not. He goes to sleep early. Others think he's an early riser, also not true. He needs quite a lot of sleep. And the other thing is that he also knows that he needs to keep moving. He values his daily walk.” 

The story is told by Georg Ratzinger along with German author and journalist Michael HesemannThe book will introduce many people to Georg for the very first time, while also telling the life story of Pope Benedict XVI as never before.

Easter Saturday - Eve of Divine Mercy Sunday

On the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, a Saturday when traditionally we honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us reflect on part of a talk Pope Benedict gave in a cathedral in Benin when he visited there in 2011.

As we praise God for the marvels which he never ceases to bestow upon humanity, I invite you to meditate for a moment on his infinite mercy. The history of salvation, which culminates in the incarnation of Jesus and finds its fulfillment in the Paschal Mystery, is a radiant revelation of the mercy of God. In the Son, the “Father of mercies” (2 Cor 1:3) is made visible; ever faithful to his fatherhood, he “leans down to each prodigal child, to each human misery, and above all to their moral misery, to their sins” (John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia #6). Divine mercy consists not only in the remission of our sins; it also consists in the fact that God, our Father, redirects us, sometimes not without pain, affliction or fear on our part, to the path of truth and light, for he does not wish us to be lost (cf. Mt 18:14; Jn 3:16). This double expression of divine mercy shows how faithful God is to the covenant sealed with each Christian in his or her baptism. Looking back upon the personal history of each individual and of the evangelization of our countries, we can say together with the Psalmist, “I will sing of thy steadfast love, O Lord, forever” (Ps 88:1).

The Virgin Mary experienced to the highest degree the mystery of divine love: “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lk 1:50), she exclaimed in her Magnificat. By her yes to the call of God, she contributed to the manifestation of divine love in the midst of humanity. In this sense, she is the Mother of Mercy by her participation in the mission of her Son: she has received the privilege of being our helper always and everywhere. … Under the shelter of her mercy, deadened hearts are healed, the snares of the devil are thwarted and enemies are reconciled. In Mary, we have not only a model of perfection, but also one who helps us to realize communion with God and with our brothers and sisters. As Mother of Mercy, she is a sure guide to the disciples of her son who wish to be of service to justice, to reconciliation and to peace. She shows us, with simplicity and with a mother’s heart, the one Light and Truth: her Son, Jesus Christ who leads humanity to its full realization in the Father.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Daily Strength - Silent adoration

In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light, particularly to those who are suffering.

Pope Benedict XVI – from his meeting with members of the Roman clergy -March 2, 2006

TV commercial for World Meeting of Families

The official television commercial for the 7th World Meeting of Families has been launched. The unique gathering will bring thousands of families together from all over the world, so they may strengthen their family unit. The meeting will take place in the city of Milan from May 30th to June 3rd. Benedict XVI will preside over several events at the gathering, including a Mass with thousands of families.

Easter Friday

Friday (April 13): "After this Jesus revealed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tibe'ri-as" - Scripture: John 21:1-14

Meditation: Why didn’t the apostles immediately recognize the Lord when he greeted them at the Sea of Tiberias? John gives us a clue. He states that Peter decided to return to his home district of Galilee, very likely so he could resume his fishing career. Peter was discouraged and didn’t know what to do after the tragedy of Jesus’ death! He went back to his previous career out of despair and uncertainty. The other apostles followed him back to Galilee. When was the last time Peter was commanded to let down his net after a futile night of fishing? It was at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Galilee when the Lord dramatically approached Peter in his fishing boat after a futile night of fishing and commanded him to lower his nets (see Luke 5:4-11). After the miraculous catch, Jesus told Peter that he would be ‘catching people” for the kingdom of God. Now Jesus repeats the same miracle. John, the beloved disciple, is the first to recognize the Lord. Peter impulsively leaps from the boat and runs to the Lord. Do you run to the Lord when you meet setbacks, disappointments, or trials? The Lord is ever ready to renew us in faith and to give us fresh hope in his promises.

Skeptics who disbelieve the resurrection say the disciples only saw a vision of Jesus. The gospels, however, give us a vivid picture of the reality of the resurrection. Jesus went out of his way to offer his disciples various proofs of his resurrection – that he is real and true flesh, not just a spirit or ghost. In his third appearance to the apostles, after Jesus performed the miraculous catch of fish, he prepared a breakfast and ate with them. Peter’s prompt recognition of the Master and exclamation, It is the Lord! stands in sharp contrast to his previous denial of his Master during the night of arrest. The Lord Jesus reveals himself to each of us as we open our hearts to receive his word. Do you recognize the Lord's presence in your life and do you receive his word with faith?

"Lord Jesus, you are the Resurrection and the Life. Increase my faith in the power of your resurrection that I may never doubt your word nor stray from your presence."

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter Thursday

Thursday (April 12): "Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures"

Meditation: Aren't we like the apostles? We wont believe unless we can see with our own eyes. The gospels attest to the reality of the resurrection. Jesus goes to great lengths to assure his disciples that he is no mere ghost or illusion. He shows them the marks of his crucifixion and he explains how the scriptures foretold his death and rising. Jerome, an early church bible scholar, comments: "As he showed them real hands and a real side, he really ate with his disciples; really walked with Cleophas; conversed with men with a real tongue; really reclined at supper; with real hands took bread, blessed and broke it, and was offering it to them. ..Do not put the power of the Lord on the level with the tricks of magicians, so that he may appear to have been what he was not, and may be thought to have eaten without teeth, walked without feet, broken bread without hands, spoken without a tongue, and showed a side which had no ribs." (From a letter to Pammachius against John of Jerusalem 34, 5th century).

The centrality of the gospel is the cross; but fortunately it does not stop there. Through the cross Jesus defeated our enemies – death and Satan and won pardon for our sins. His cross is the door to heaven and the key to paradise. The way to glory is through the cross. When the disciples saw the risen Lord they disbelieved for joy! How can death lead to life, the cross to victory? Jesus shows us the way and he gives us the power to overcome sin and despair, and everything else that would stand in the way of his love and truth. Just as the first disciples were commissioned to bring the good news of salvation to all the nations, so, we, too, are called to be witnesses of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to all who live on the face of the earth. Do you witness the joy of the gospel to those around you?

"Lord Jesus, open our minds to understand the scriptures that we may fully comprehend the truth of your word. Anoint us with your power and give us boldness to proclaim the gospel in word and deed."

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Google Art Project

I am completely impressed with  Google Art Project. Google has created an archive of art collections from museums around the world. You can zoom way, way in and see every tiny brush stroke. You can read notes about each piece, even view related videos. It’s amazing!
I can’t imagine it’s anywhere near complete. 

Pope: Disciples sent to bring peace to the world

Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday spoke about the “joy of Easter” during his weekly general audience. 

Speaking in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father said the lives of the disciples were changed when they saw the “saving wounds” of Christ in the Upper Room. 

“The mission of the disciples inaugurates the journey of the Church, the People of the New Covenant, called to bear witness in every age to the truth of the resurrection and the new life which it brings,” he said. 

The text of Pope Benedict’s remarks in English follow: 

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Our General Audience today is marked by the spiritual joy of Easter, born of the Christ’s victory over sin and death. When the risen Lord appeared to the disciples in the Upper Room and showed them his saving wounds, their lives were changed. With the gift of the Holy Spirit, Christ gave them the peace which the world cannot give (cf. Jn 14:27) and sent them forth to bring that peace to the world. The mission of the disciples inaugurates the journey of the Church, the People of the New Covenant, called to bear witness in every age to the truth of the resurrection and the new life which it brings. 

Today too, the Lord enters our hearts and our homes with his gifts of joy and peace, life and hope. Like the disciples on the way to Emmaus, may we recognize his presence among us in his word and in the breaking of the bread. During this Easter season, let us resolve to walk in the company of the risen Christ and allow our lives to be transformed by faith in him and by the power of his resurrection.  

I offer a warm welcome to the newly-ordained deacons from the Pontifical Irish College, together with their families and friends. Dear young deacons, may you conform your lives ever more fully to the Lord and work generously for the building up of the Church in your country. I also welcome the distinguished delegation from the NATO Defense College, with prayerful good wishes for their service to the cause of peace. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Australia, Canada and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord. Happy Easter!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Tuesday

Scripture: John 20:11-18

11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13 They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." 14 Saying this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." 16 Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rab-bo'ni!" (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not hold me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." 18 Mary Mag'dalene went and said to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Meditation: How easy it is to miss the Lord when our focus is on ourselves! Mary did not at first recognize the Lord because her focus was on the empty tomb and on her own grief. It took only one word from the Master, when he called her by name, for Mary to recognize him. Mary's message to the disciples, I have seen the Lord, is the very essence of Christianity. It is not enough that a Christian know about the Lord, but that we know him personally. It is not enough to argue about him, but to meet him. In the resurrection we encounter the living Lord who loves us personally and shares his glory with us. The Lord gives us "eyes of faith" to see the truth of his resurrection and victory over sin and death (Ephesians 1:18).

The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of our hope – the hope that we will see God face to face and share in his everlasting glory and joy. "Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls" (1 Peter 1:8-9). Do you recognize the Lord's presence with you, in his word, in the "breaking of the bread", and in his church, the body of Christ?

"Lord Jesus, may I never fail to recognize your voice nor lose sight of your presence in your saving word."

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pope: Easter Monday Regina coeli

Pope Benedict XVI prayed the Regina coeli with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic retreat in Castel Gandolfo on Easter Monday – a bright, crisp, clear day, with an April breeze stirring the air.

Easter Monday – a day of rest and recreation in many countries, as the Holy Father noted at the beginning of his remarks to the gathered faithful ahead of the traditional Eastertide prayer of Marian devotion – a day in which people often take leisurely walks in the city, or visit the country, spending precious hours with friends and family.

The real reason for this holiday, though, is the resurrection of Our Lord – as Pope Benedict called it, “the decisive mystery of our faith.”

The Holy Father went on to note that the Gospel writers do not describe the Resurrection, itself. “The event,” he said, “remains mysterious – not as something unreal, but as something beyond the reach of our knowledge - as a light so bright the eyes cannot bear it.” The narratives begin instead by when, at dawn the day after the Sabbath, the women went to the tomb and found it open and empty. 

St. Matthew speaks of an earthquake and a bright angel who rolled away the great tomb stone and sat on it (cf. Mt 28.2). The women, when they had received from the angel the announcement of the resurrection, ran full of fear and joy, to break the news to the disciples – and it was in just that moment that they met Jesus, fell at his feet and worshiped him – and Jesus said to them, “Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee: there shall they see me (Matthew 28:10).” 

The Pope went on to note important role that women play in the Gospel accounts of the appearances of the risen Jesus, as also in His passion and death.

“In those days, in Israel,” said Pope Benedict, “women's testimony could have no official legal value.” Nevertheless, the Pope continued, “women have experienced a special bond with the Lord, which is crucial for the practical life of the Christian community, and this always, in every age, not only at the beginning of the Church’s pilgrim journey.”

The Holy Father then called the attention of the faithful to Mary, Mother of the Lord: Sublime and exemplary model of this relationship with Jesus, especially in His paschal mystery. Precisely through the transformative experience of the Passover of her Son, the Virgin Mary becomes Mother of the Church, that is, of all believers and of their communities. “May Mary,” he concluded, “obtain for us that we too might experience the living presence of the Risen Lord, source of hope and peace.”

Regina Caeli

This is one of four Marian antiphons, with following versicles and prayers, traditionally said or sung after night prayer, immediately before going to sleep. It is said throughout Eastertide. (That is, from Easter Day through Pentecost, the seventh Sunday after Easter.

The Regina caeli is also said in place of the Angelus during Eastertide.

Queen of Heaven

V. Queen of Heaven, rejoice, alleluia. 
R. For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia. 
V. Has risen, as he said, alleluia. 
R. Pray for us to God, alleluia.
V. Rejoice and be glad, O Virgin Mary, alleluia. 
R. For the Lord has truly risen, alleluia.

Let us pray. O God, who gave joy to the world through the resurrection of Thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, grant we beseech Thee, that through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, His Mother, we may obtain the joys of everlasting life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

Regina caeli

V. Regina caeli, laetare, alleluia. 
R. Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia. 
V. Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia. 
R. Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

V. Gaude et laetare, Virgo Maria, alleluia. 
R. Quia surrexit Dominus vere, alleluia.

Oremus. Deus, qui per resurrectionem Filii tui, Domini nostri Iesu Christi, mundum laetificare dignatus es: praesta, quaesumus; ut per eius Genetricem Virginem Mariam, perpetuae capiamus gaudia vitae. Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum. Amen.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

URBI ET ORBI 2012 04 08

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world!

“Surrexit Christus, spes mea” – “Christ, my hope, has risen” (Easter Sequence).

May the jubilant voice of the Church reach all of you with the words which the ancient hymn puts on the lips of Mary Magdalene, the first to encounter the risen Jesus on Easter morning. She ran to the other disciples and breathlessly announced: “I have seen the Lord!” (Jn 20:18). We too, who have journeyed through the desert of Lent and the sorrowful days of the Passion, today raise the cry of victory: “He has risen! He has truly risen!”

Every Christian relives the experience of Mary Magdalene. It involves an encounter which changes our lives: the encounter with a unique Man who lets us experience all God’s goodness and truth, who frees us from evil not in a superficial and fleeting way, but sets us free radically, heals us completely and restores our dignity. This is why Mary Magdalene calls Jesus “my hope”: he was the one who allowed her to be reborn, who gave her a new future, a life of goodness and freedom from evil. “Christ my hope” means that all my yearnings for goodness find in him a real possibility of fulfilment: with him I can hope for a life that is good, full and eternal, for God himself has drawn near to us, even sharing our humanity.

But Mary Magdalene, like the other disciples, was to see Jesus rejected by the leaders of the people, arrested, scourged, condemned to death and crucified. It must have been unbearable to see Goodness in person subjected to human malice, truth derided by falsehood, mercy abused by vengeance. With Jesus’ death, the hope of all those who had put their trust in him seemed doomed. But that faith never completely failed: especially in the heart of the Virgin Mary, Jesus’ Mother, its flame burned even in the dark of night. In this world, hope can not avoid confronting the harshness of evil. It is not thwarted by the wall of death alone, but even more by the barbs of envy and pride, falsehood and violence. Jesus passed through this mortal mesh in order to open a path to the kingdom of life. For a moment Jesus seemed vanquished: darkness had invaded the land, the silence of God was complete, hope a seemingly empty word.

And lo, on the dawn of the day after the Sabbath, the tomb is found empty. Jesus then shows himself to Mary Magdalene, to the other women, to his disciples. Faith is born anew, more alive and strong than ever, now invincible since it is based on a decisive experience: “Death with life contended: combat strangely ended! Life’s own champion, slain, now lives to reign”. The signs of the resurrection testify to the victory of life over death, love over hatred, mercy over vengeance: “The tomb the living did enclose, I saw Christ’s glory as he rose! The angels there attesting, shroud with grave-clothes resting”.

Dear brothers and sisters! If Jesus is risen, then – and only then – has something truly new happened, something that changes the state of humanity and the world. Then he, Jesus, is someone in whom we can put absolute trust; we can put our trust not only in his message but in Jesus himself, for the Risen One does not belong to the past, but is present today, alive. Christ is hope and comfort in a particular way for those Christian communities suffering most for their faith on account of discrimination and persecution. And he is present as a force of hope through his Church, which is close to all human situations of suffering and injustice.

May the risen Christ grant hope to the Middle East and enable all the ethnic, cultural and religious groups in that region to work together to advance the common good and respect for human rights. Particularly in Syria, may there be an end to bloodshed and an immediate commitment to the path of respect, dialogue and reconciliation, as called for by the international community. May the many refugees from that country who are in need of humanitarian assistance find the acceptance and solidarity capable of relieving their dreadful sufferings. May the paschal victory encourage the Iraqi people to spare no effort in pursuing the path of stability and development. In the Holy Land, may Israelis and Palestinians courageously take up anew the peace process.

May the Lord, the victor over evil and death, sustain the Christian communities of the African continent; may he grant them hope in facing their difficulties, and make them peacemakers and agents of development in the societies to which they belong.

May the risen Jesus comfort the suffering populations of the Horn of Africa and favour their reconciliation; may he help the Great Lakes Region, Sudan and South Sudan, and grant their inhabitants the power of forgiveness. In Mali, now experiencing delicate political developments, may the glorious Christ grant peace and stability. To Nigeria, which in recent times has experienced savage terrorist attacks, may the joy of Easter grant the strength needed to take up anew the building of a society which is peaceful and respectful of the religious freedom of all its citizens.

Happy Easter to all!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI - Good Friday Address - April 6, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Once more in meditation, prayer and song, we have recalled Jesus’s journey along the way of the cross: a journey seemingly hopeless, yet one that changed human life and history, and opened the way to “new heavens and a new earth” (cf. Rev 21:1). Especially today, Good Friday, the Church commemorates with deep spiritual union the death of the Son of God on the cross; in his cross she sees the tree of life, which blossoms in new hope.

The experience of suffering and of the cross touches all mankind; it touches the family too. How often does the journey become wearisome and difficult! Misunderstandings, conflicts, worry for the future of our children, sickness and problems of every kind. These days too, the situation of many families is made worse by the threat of unemployment and other negative effects of the economic crisis.

The Way of the Cross which we have spiritually retraced this evening invites all of us, and families in particular, to contemplate Christ crucified in order to have the force to overcome difficulties. The cross of Christ is the supreme sign of God’s love for every man and woman, the superabundant response to every person’s need for love. At times of trouble, when our families have to face pain and adversity, let us look to Christ’s cross. There we can find the courage and strength to press on; there we can repeat with firm hope the words of Saint Paul: “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom 8:35,37).

In times of trial and tribulation, we are not alone; the family is not alone. Jesus is present with his love, he sustains them by his grace and grants the strength needed to carry on, to make sacrifices and to evercome every obstacle. And it is to this love of Christ that we must turn when human turmoil and difficulties threaten the unity of our lives and our families. The mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection inspires us to go on in hope: times of trouble and testing, when endured with Christ, with faith in him, already contain the light of the resurrection, the new life of a world reborn, the passover of all those who believe in his word.

In that crucified Man who is the Son of God, even death itself takes on new meaning and purpose: it is redeemed and overcome, it becomes a passage to new life. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Let us entrust ourselves to the Mother of Christ. May Mary, who accompanied her Son along his way of sorrows, who stood beneath the cross at the hour of his death, and who inspired the Church at its birth to live in God’s presence, lead our hearts and the hearts of every family through the vastmysterium passionis towards the mysterium paschale, towards that light which breaks forth from Christ’s resurrection and reveals the definitive victory of love, joy and life over evil, suffering and death. Amen.