Thursday, May 31, 2012

Feast of the Visitation

Prayer and action go together. Mary showed us this when, after being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and conceiving the Word of God, Jesus, in her womb, she immediately set out on a journey of about 60 miles to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth whom she learned was pregnant. Each day as we make a daily offering of ourselves, we, like Mary pray that God’s will may be done in our lives as it was done in her—completely. In this way we give praise and glory to God as she did and we bring God’s grace into the world. Let us renew our offering now as we reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s speech on this day last year.

Meditating today on the Visitation of Mary, we are led to reflect on precisely the courage of faith. She, whom Elizabeth receives into her home, is the Virgin who “believed” the Angel’s message and responded with faith, bravely accepting God’s plan for her life and so welcoming within her the Eternal Word of the Most High. As my Blessed Predecessor underlined in his Encyclical “Redemptoris Mater,” it was through faith that Mary proclaimed her fiat, “she entrusted herself to God without reserve and ‘devoted herself totally as the handmaid of the Lord to the person and work of her Son’” (#13; cf. Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium #56). This is why, in greeting her, Elizabeth exclaims: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45). Mary truly believed that “with God nothing will be impossible” (1:37) and, on the strength of this faith, she, in daily obedience, allowed herself to be guided by the Holy Spirit in his plans. How can we not wish for own lives the same abandonment to trust? How could we cut ourselves off from a happiness that is born of such an intimate and profound relationship with Jesus? Therefore, turning today to the One, “full of grace”, let us ask her to obtain from Divine Providence for us, too, the ability to say “yes” to the plans of God with the same humble and pure faith with which she did. May she, who, by welcoming within her the Word of God, entrusted herself to him without reserve, guide us to an ever more generous and unconditional response to his plans, even when in them we are called to embrace the cross.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pope talks about Vatileaks expresses his distress

During his general audience, Benedict XVI spoked about the difficult situation of Vatileaks. He said he is upset by the current situation, he critiziced the way it is being handled in the media and highligthed his confidence in his collaborators. 


"Events in recent days regarding the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart, though the firm conviction, that despite human weakness, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord will never fail to give His aid in sustaining the Church on her journey. Nevertheless, some entirely gratuitous rumors have multiplied, amplified by some media, which went well beyond the facts, offering a picture of the Holy See that does not correspond to reality. I would like therefore to reiterate my confidence and my encouragement to my staff and to all those who, day in and day out, faithfully and with a spirit of sacrifice, quietly help me in fulfilling my ministry.”

Monday, May 28, 2012

The "family" that lives with Benedict XVI

During the long recovery period that followed the assassination attempt on John Paul II, the papal apartment became inaccessible and reserved to the Pope’s “tight circle” of fellow-countrymen: His right hand man, Fr. Stanislao, his childhood friend Wanda Poltawska and a group of Polish nuns.

Today, the papal apartment acts mostly as a think tank, where the Pope as theologian and pastor puts together his Magisterium. Following the renovation work that took place in 2005 on the top floor, huge attics were turned into small apartments. They house the Pope’s personal secretary, Mgr. Gaenswein, the four “Memores Domini”, Loredana, Carmela, Cristina and Rossella and the Pope’s brother, Fr. Georg, crape master and former director of the Regensburger Domspatzen choir. An upright piano has been placed in a corner of his private study, between the shelves that hold his library’s 20 thousand plus books. The circle of people that has access to Benedict XVI’s house is very tight. Within this circle, the most delicate tasks are entrusted to two secretaries: Ganswein and the Maltese priest Fr. Alfred Xuereb. The “Memores” serve in the crape, the kitchens, in the archive and in the secretariat. Birgit is often around for writing up texts.

The layman who is closet to the Pope is “Paoletto”, the Pope’s butler, who is suspected of being the mole behind the Vatican leaks scandal. He was very close to the Pope and is a member of the so-called papal family. Right from the early hours of the morning, the papal butler would enter the Pope’s bedroom to help him get dressed and participate in the private mass celebrated by the Pope in the papal apartment’s chapel. Gabriele then accompanied the Pope to his various daily meetings, including public and private audiences. One of his tasks was to serve the Pope al lunch and sometimes he would even sit at Benedict XVI’s table and eat with him. In the evening he prepared the Pope’s bedroom and took his leave when Joseph Ratzinger retired to his study. He also accompanied the Pope on his journeys. Given the nature of his role, he had access to all “keys” to some of the world’s most secret doors, staircases and lifts.

The church and all who hold and teach the catholic faith needs prayer, the devil is always at work doing tricks to lead and distract those who are committed in working for God through their selfless service to the church. There is a great need to prayer to pray for all who works in the Vatican both religious and lay-people so that their works and actions may do good to the church than evil.

Prayers for all especially the Holy Father in this horrible betrayal of trust.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pentecost Sunday

Let us pray today that through Mary, who has often been called the Spouse of the Holy Spirit, there may be a fresh outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit to build up families and to strengthen missionaries. Our reflection is from last year’s Angelus Message of Pope Benedict on this feast.

The Solemnity of Pentecost which we are celebrating today concludes the liturgical season of Easter. In fact, the paschal mystery — the passion, death and resurrection of Christ and his ascension into Heaven — finds its fulfillment in the powerful outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles gathered together with Mary, Mother of the Lord, and the other disciples. It was the “baptism” of the Church, baptism in the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:5). As the Acts of the Apostles recount, on the morning of the feast of Pentecost, a noise as of wind burst into the Upper Room and tongues of fire, as it were, came to rest upon each of the disciples (cf. Acts 2:2-3). St Gregory the Great commented: “Today, the Holy Spirit has came down upon the disciples with an unexpected sound and changed the minds of carnal beings within his love; and while he appeared externally in tongues of fire, their hearts blazed within them, because in receiving God in the vision of fire, they burned gently with love” (Hom. in Evang. XXX, 1: CCL 141, 256). … The breath of the Holy Spirit fills the universe, generates faith, leads to truth, and predisposes people to unity. “At this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language” of “the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:6,11).

The Holy Spirit … comes from God like a breath from his mouth and has the power of sanctifying, abolishing divisions, dispelling the confusion due to sin. Incorporeal and immaterial, he lavishes divine goods upon living beings and sustains them so that they may act in conformity with the good. As an intelligible Light he gives meaning to prayer, vigor to the evangelizing mission, he makes the hearts of those who listen to the happy message burn and inspires Christian art and liturgical music.

Dear friends, the Holy Spirit who creates faith within us at the moment of our Baptism enables us to live as children of God, aware and consenting, in accordance with the image of the Only-Begotten Son. The power to forgive sins is also a gift of the Holy Spirit; in fact, in appearing to the Apostles on the evening of Easter Day, Jesus breathed upon them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven” (Jn 20:22, 23). Let us entrust the Church to the Virgin Mary, temple of the Holy Spirit, so that she may always live by Jesus Christ, by his word, by his commandments and, under the perennial action of the Spirit Paraclete, proclaim to one and all that “Jesus is Lord!” (1 Cor 12:3).

Friday, May 25, 2012

St. Gregory VII

Gregory VII — his name had been Hildebrand before becoming Pope — was born about the year 1020. For two years he was a Benedictine monk of Cluny (1047-1049), then he became a cardinal, and finally, in 1073, Pope. A strong character with a remarkable personality, he easily takes a place with the greatest popes in the Church's history.

His life was one long struggle to purify and unify the Church, and to make her free and independent of secular powers. He enacted strict prohibitions against simony (the purchasing of ecclesiastical preferments), clerical concubinage, and lay investiture (appointment to ecclesiastical offices by civil authorities). On this later score he soon became involved in a dispute with the Emperor Henry IV which caused him untold trouble and which finally resulted in banishment and death. But his stand cleansed the Church and restored its status. Gregory died in exile with these words on his lips: "I loved justice and hated iniquity, therefore I die in exile."

Concerning him the Protestant historian Gregorovius wrote: "In the history of the papacy, there will always be two shining stars to reveal the spiritual greatness of the popes. The one is Leo, before whom the terrible destroyer Attila drew back; the other is Gregory, before whom Henry IV knelt in the garb of a penitent. Each of these world renowned men, however, engenders a different reaction. Where Leo inspires highest reverence for pure moral greatness, Gregory fills one with admiration because of an almost superhuman personality. The monk who won without weapons has more right to be admired than Alexander, Caesar, or Napoleon.

"The battles fought by medieval popes were not waged with weapons of iron and lead, but with moral weapons. It was the application and operation of such lofty, spiritual means that occasionally raised the Middle Ages above our own. Alongside Gregory, Napoleon appears as a bloody barbarian. . . . Gregory's accomplishment is a distinctly medieval phenomenon, to study it will always be exciting. The history of the Christian world would lose one of its rarest pages if this stalwart character, this artisan's son in the tiara, were missing."

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

St. Bede

Bede occupies an important niche in Church history by bridging the gap between patristic and early medieval times, the era when the Germanic nations had just been Christianized. Through him Christian tradition and Roman culture came to the Middle Ages. He is also honored as the "father of English history." His writings were read publicly in churches while he was still alive; but since he could not be called "Saint," the title of Venerable was attached to his name, a usage which continued down through the centuries.

True Benedictine that he was, his life revolved around prayer and work. On the vigil of the Ascension he felt death approaching and asked to be fortified with the last sacraments. After reciting the Magnificat antiphon of the feast's second Vespers, he embraced his brethren, had himself placed upon a coarse penitential garment on the earth, and breathed forth his soul while saying softly: "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost."

How St. Bede loved the Bible! Anyone who intends to live with the Church must keep the Scriptures near — day in, day out. St. Bede explained the Bible to others. At times you too will have this privilege. Use it.

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

Patron: Lectors; historians.

Symbols: Pitcher of water and light from Heaven; scroll; pen and inkhorn; volume of ecclesiastical history.
Often portrayed as: Monk writing at a desk; old monk dying amidst his community; old monk with a book and pen; old monk with a jug.

St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Today’s saint was a Carmelite nun who experienced both the heights and the depths of the spiritual life. She was favored with mystical gifts of prayer and healing and the stigmata, yet she also struggled with physical illness, temptations to lust and gluttony, thoughts of suicide, and terrible spiritual dryness. Let us pray with St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi today that the Holy Spirit will inspire citizens to work for initiatives that defend the role of the family. Let us also pray that the Holy Spirit, whom Pope John Paul II called “the soul of evangelization,” may, through the intercession of Mary, strengthen missionaries. Our prayer is one that our saint wrote.

You, the Word, are most wonderful, working through the Holy Spirit to fill the soul with yourself, so that it is joined to God, grasps God, tastes God and absorbs nothing but God. The Holy Spirit comes into the soul signed with the precious seal of the blood of the Word and of the slain Lamb; or rather that very blood urges it to come, although the Spirit moves itself and desires to come. You are the friend of the created because of the blood shed by the only-begotten Word, who in the greatness of his love made himself the friend of the created. You find rest in creatures who are prepared to receive you, so that in the transmission of your gifts they take on, through purity, their own particular likeness to you. You find rest in those creatures who absorb the effects of the blood of the Word and make themselves a worthy dwelling place for you.

Come, Holy Spirit. Let the precious pearl of the Father and the Word's delight come. Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforter of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, you are the one in whom all treasures are contained. Come! As you descended upon Mary, that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as you worked in her through nature and grace. Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity. Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in you.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


In his 2007 Letter to the Church in China, Pope Benedict wrote: “Dear Pastors and all the faithful, the date May 24 could in the future become an occasion for the Catholics of the whole world to be united in prayer with the Church which is in China. This day is dedicated to the liturgical memorial of Our Lady, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Marian Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai, China.” Let us respond to the Holy Father’s request with a prayer of his, asking for God’s blessing upon the Church in China.

Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title "Help of Christians," the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.

When you obediently said "yes" in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, Who died that we might live.

From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence.

Our Lady of Sheshan, sustain all those in China, who, amid their daily trials, continue to believe, to hope, to love. May they never be afraid to speak of Jesus to the world, and of the world to Jesus. In the statue overlooking the Shrine you lift your Son on high, offering him to the world with open arms in a gesture of love. Help Catholics always to be credible witnesses to this love, ever clinging to the rock of Peter on which the Church is built. Mother of China and all Asia, pray for us, now and forever. Amen!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

How’d they do it?

Repelling from a helicopter?
Or did the graffiti artist live above the cafe and hang out the window?

The Unseen Hand

Let us honor Mary during this month dedicated to her and pray for the Holy Father’s Mission Intention—that Mary, Queen of the World and Star of Evangelization, may accompany all missionaries in proclaiming her Son Jesus—as we use a prayer that Pope Benedict offered when he visited Fatima two years ago. Our Lady, Mother of all men and women, I come before you as a son visiting his Mother, and I do so in company with a multitude of brothers and sisters. As the Successor of Peter, to whom was entrusted the mission of presiding in the service of charity in the Church of Christ and of confirming all in faith and in hope, I wish to present to your Immaculate Heart the joys and hopes as well as the problems and sufferings of each one of these sons and daughters of yours. Mother most gentle, you know each one by name, you know each one’s face and personal history, and you love them all with maternal benevolence that wells up from the very heart of Divine Love. I entrust and consecrate them all to you, Mary Most Holy, Mother of God and our Mother.

The Venerable Pope John Paul II, who visited you three times here in Fatima and thanked the “unseen hand” that rescued him from death in the assassination attempt on May 13, 1981, wanted to offer to the Shrine of Fatima a bullet which gravely wounded him and was placed in the crown of the Queen of Peace. It is a profound consolation to know that you are crowned not only with the silver and gold of our joys and hopes, but also with the “bullet” of our anxieties and sufferings. I thank you, beloved Mother, for the prayers and sacrifices that the shepherd-children of Fatima offered for the Pope, led by the sentiments that you inspired in them in the apparitions. I also thank all those who, every day, pray for the Successor of Peter and for his intentions, that the Pope may be strong in faith, bold in hope and zealous in love.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The best meatballs ever

Eating meatballs instantly makes you feel like all is right with the world. Something about meatballs--rich, luscious meatballs--makes you feel warm and cozy.

Makes at least 60 meatballs
You'll need:
1 1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup fine dried breadcrumbs
1 pound ground pork
1 pound ground beef,
1 pound ground veal
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cayenne
3/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
About 4 tbsps finely chopped fresh sage, from 2 small herb bunches
1 1/2 cups finely diced onion
4 large garlic cloves, finely minced or grated
2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
4 large eggs, beaten
Olive oil

Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs in a small bowl. Stir them together and set them aside for at least 10 minutes for the crumbs to soften.

Mix the pork, beef and veal together thoroughly in a large mixing bowl. Stir in the salt and a generous amount of black pepper, then add the cayenne and smoked paprika.

Stir in the chopped parsley, sage, onion, garlic and Parmesan. Mix with your hands until these are very thoroughly distributed through the meat.

Stir in the breadcrumbs and milk, as well as the eggs, and mix thoroughly.

Shape and cook the meatballs immediately, or refrigerate the meat for up to 24 hours. You can also freeze the meat (in one big lump or as shaped meatballs) in a sealed container for up to 3 months.

To cook the meatballs, you can go a few different routes:

1. Bake: To bake the meatballs, heat the oven to 350°F and form them into balls about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place them on a baking sheet and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, or until they are just barely cooked through and no longer pink inside. To keep them tender, do not overbake. At this point you can add them to a pot of tomato sauce and simmer just for a few moments or until they are soaked in sauce -- or just eat them as they are.

2. Broil: The baked meatballs above are very smooth and not crispy. If you like a more rustic meatball with a crisped-up exterior, broil your meatballs for 18 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. This will give you a meatball with a crunchier exterior and little dark bits all over.

3. Simmer: You can also cook meatballs directly in your pasta sauce. To do this, carefully place raw meatballs into a pot of gently simmering tomato sauce, making sure they are fully covered. Cook over low heat for at least 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are fully cooked through and no longer pink inside. This makes for a very smooth, very tender meatball. If you want a little bit of crispiness to the meatballs in the sauce, you can sear them or broil them briefly and then finish cooking them in the sauce.

St. Rita of Cassia

St. Rita was born into a peasant family in Italy where she lived a very difficult and painful life. Yet through her sufferings she grew in union with God and became a saint. As a child she wanted to become a nun but her parents told her that she must marry and she submitted to their demands, feeling that in obeying them she was fulfilling God’s will. The man she married was violent, abusive, and unfaithful. For eighteen years she suffered and prayed for his conversion. He asked for her forgiveness shortly before he died from wounds he received in a brawl. Her two sons, however, dedicated themselves to exacting revenge for their father’s death, and so Rita once again dedicated herself to prayer for their conversions. Before they could carry out their plan they became sick and as they lay dying, forgave the men who killed their father. With no more family responsibilities, Rita tried to follow her original call to consecrated life. She applied three times to the Augustinian Sisters who rejected her because she had been married. In the end God rewarded her persistence and she received the religious habit in 1413. She lived a life of prayer, penance, and charity, and was blessed with numerous mystical graces. One of these was a wound that miraculously appeared on her forehead after she heard and reflected upon a sermon about the crown of thorns with which Jesus was mocked. Because of her sufferings and the miracles that followed upon her prayer and sacrifice, St. Rita has been given the title “The Saint of the Impossible” and “The Advocate of Desperate Cases.” As we renew our daily offering now, let us unite ourselves to the will of God as we pray that initiatives that defend and uphold the role of the family may be promoted in society.

Dear St. Rita, during your entire life on earth you found your happiness by following the will of our heavenly Father. Help me to be as trusting of God in all His designs for me. Help me this day to give myself to Him as you did, without limit, without fear, without counting the cost. Help me to be generous in serving the needs of others, patient in all difficulties, forgiving toward all who injure me. Help me to learn more deeply the great mystery of the cross of Jesus, so that by embracing it as you did, I may come to experience its power to heal and to save. Amen.

Monday, May 21, 2012

St. Christopher Magallanes and Companions

In 1917 a new constitution was created in Mexico. A number of its articles were anticlerical and restricted religious freedom. In time peaceful protests against the enforcement of these articles gave way to open rebellion and what has come to be known as the Cristero War or Cristiada. Soon a major motion picture about this war—“For Greater Glory”—is going to be released. Many Catholics were killed during this time, including the saints whom we honor today. At one point a shrine to Christ the King on a hill called Cubilete, the geographical center of Mexico, was destroyed by the government. It was rebuilt in 1944 and last March Pope Benedict visited it where he said the following. As we reflect on his words, let us pray that Christ may reign in the hearts of all families.

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. … 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 that 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.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pope: Support the Church in China

This Sunday Pope Benedict XVI called on Catholics worldwide to join in prayer with the Church in China, so that believers of the great nation may become ever more consistent in their witness to the faith.

In a series of appeals following the midday recitation of the Regina Caeli prayer, the Holy Father also strongly condemned a bomb attack on a high school in southern Italy Saturday that left one young student dead and others seriously wounded and called for prayers for the victims of a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that struck the north-east region of Emilia Romagna early Sunday morning.

Despite the threat of rain St Peter’s Square was thronged with pilgrims and visitors this Sunday, which for many parishes worldwide marks the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord. In his reflections before the Marian prayer, Pope Benedict spoke to all those gathered about this mystery, the fulfilment of mankind’s salvation: 

Below a Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict’s Regina Caeli address and appeals

Dear brothers and sisters!

Forty days after the Resurrection – according to the Acts of the Apostles - Jesus ascended to heaven, that is he returned to the Father, from whom he was sent into the world. In many countries, this mystery is not celebrated on Thursday, but today, the following Sunday. The Ascension of Our Lord marks the fulfilment of salvation which began with the Incarnation. After having instructed his disciples for the last time, Jesus ascended into heaven (cf. Mk 16.19). He, however, "did not separate himself from our condition" (cf. Prefazio), in fact, in his humanity, he took mankind with him in the intimacy of the Father, and so has revealed the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. Just as he came down from heaven for us, and for us suffered and died on the cross, so for us he rose again and ascended to God, who therefore is no longer distant, but "Our God", "Our Father" (cf. Jn 20:17). 

The Ascension is the ultimate act of our deliverance from the yoke of sin, as the Apostle Paul writes: "He ascended on high, and took prisoners captive" (Eph. 4.8). St. Leo the Great says that with this mystery " not only is the immortality of the soul proclaimed, but also that of the flesh. Today, in fact, not only are we confirmed possessors of paradise, but in Christ we also penetrated the heights of heaven "(De Ascension Domains, Tractatus 73, 2.4: CCL 138 A, 451,453). For this, the disciples, when they saw the Master rise from the ground towards the heavens, they were not overwhelmed by dejection, indeed, they felt great joy and compelled to proclaim the victory of Christ over death (cf. Mk 16:20) . And the Risen Lord worked with them, distributing to each a their own charism, so that the Christian community as a whole, would reflect the harmonious richness of Heaven. St. Paul writes: "He gave gifts to men ... And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers, to equip the holy ones for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ"(Eph 4,8.11-13).

Dear friends, the Ascension tells us that in Christ, our humanity is brought to the heights of God, so every time we pray, the earth joins with Heaven. And like burning incense, its fragrant smoke reaches on high, so that when we raise our fervent and trusting prayer in Christ to the Lord, it crosses the heavens and reaches the Throne of God, it is heard by Him and answered. In the famous work of St. John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel, we read that "to see realized the desires of our heart, there is no better way than placing the power of our prayer in what is most pleasing to God. Thus, He will not give us only what we ask of him, salvation, but also what He sees as both convenient and good for us, even if we do not ask this of Him "(Book III, ch. 44, 2, Rome 1991, 335).

Let us beseech the Virgin Mary to help us contemplate the heavenly things, which the Lord promises us, and become more credible witnesses of divine life.

After the Regina Caeli

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today we celebrate the World Day of Social Communications, on the theme "Silence and the Word: the process of evangelization." Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a privileged place of encounter with the Word of God and our brothers and sisters. I invite all to pray so that communications, in all forms, always serves to establish a genuine dialogue with others, founded on mutual respect, listening and sharing.

Thursday, May 24, is a day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai: we join in prayer with all Catholics who are in China, so that they may announce with humility and joy the Risen Christ, be faithful to his Church and the Successor of Peter and live their daily life in a manner consistent with the faith we profess. Mary, Virgin most faithful, support the path of Chinese Catholics, render their prayer them ever more intense and precious in the eyes of the Lord, and advance the affection and the participation of the universal Church in the journey of the Church in China.

I address a cordial greeting to the thousands of members of the Italian Movement for Life, meeting in Paul VI Hall. Dear friends, your movement has always been committed to defending human life, according to the teachings of the Church. In this line you have announced a new initiative called "One of us," to uphold the dignity and rights of every human being from conception. I encourage and urge you to always be witnesses and builders of a culture of life.

Greetings in Italian

I greet the various school students present, and here today unfortunately I have to remember the girls and boys of the school in Brindisi, who yesterday were involved in a cowardly attack. Let us pray together for the wounded, some very seriously, especially for young Melissa, an innocent victim of brutal violence and for her family, who are in pain. My affectionate thoughts go also to the dear people of Emilia Romagna affected by an earthquake a few hours ago. I am spiritually close to those who are suffering from this calamity: we implore God's mercy for those who are dead and relief from suffering for the wounded. I wish everyone a good Sunday.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Queen of the World

On this Saturday in May, let us ask Mary, the Queen of the World and Star of Evangelization, to accompany all missionaries in bringing Jesus to the world. Our reflection is from Jesuit Fr. Peter Schineller who used to work with the Apostleship of Prayer in Africa.

Mary accompanied and watched over Jesus from the moment of the Annunciation, from his birth in Bethlehem, and during his hidden life in Nazareth. She was present at the first miracle of Cana, the first mystery of Light. She was with Jesus on the road to Calvary as the fourth station of the Cross recalls, and she stayed with her Son at the foot of the Cross.

While Mary was not one of the apostles Jesus sent to the ends of the earth to teach all nations, she in the Upper Room with the apostles when they were preparing to take up their mission. She prayerfully waited with them for the coming of the Spirit to empower them. Pope Paul VI describes her strong presence in these words: “On the morning of Pentecost she watched over with her prayer the beginning of evangelization prompted by the Holy Spirit: may she be the Star of the evangelization ever renewed which the Church ever docile to her Lord’s command, must promote and accomplish, especially in these times which are difficult but full of hope” (On Evangelization in the Modern World, No. 82).

So this month, we pray that every missionary feels the guiding, compassionate, loving presence of Mary. Christians have known for 2000 years that one really does not understand or have Jesus Christ in their lives unless they honor and respect his mother Mary. As Mary brought Jesus to birth in our world 2000 years ago, once again, may she, the Star of Evangelization accompany and assist missionaries today in bringing Jesus to birth in the hearts of men and women today.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Daily Strength - The Calculator and The Compass

If the value of work is driven by remuneration (Calculator), we will become one dimensional, morally deformed and miss the mark.

If our work is driven by sound moral values and the correct understanding of the human we will become fully alive. The glory of God is the human fully alive.

Ascension Thursday

Let us reflect on the Lord’s Ascension to the right hand of the Father today. Let us pray that as Mary prayed for and with the apostles during the first novena, anticipating Pentecost, so may she pray for and with the missionaries of the world today. This reflection is from a sermon Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa, the preacher to the papal household, gave on the Second Sunday of Advent in 2011.

One can say that Mary was the first cloistered nun of the Church. After Pentecost, she entered as if into a cloister. Through the letters of the Apostles we come to know innumerable persons and also many women of the primitive Christian community. Once we find mentioned one called Mary (cf. Romans 16:6), but this is not her. Of Mary, the mother of Jesus, nothing. She disappears in a most profound silence. But what must it have meant for John to have her by his side while he wrote the Gospel and what it might mean for us to have her close while we proclaim the Gospel! "First amongst the Gospels," writes Origen, "is that of John, the profound meaning of which cannot be understood by any who has not rested his head on the breast of Jesus and has not received Mary from Him as his proper mother."

Mary has inaugurated in the Church that second soul, or vocation, which is the hidden praying soul, together with the apostolic or active soul. It marvelously expresses the traditional icon of the Ascension, of which we have a representation to the right of this “Redemptoris Mother” chapel. Mary stands with open arms in an attitude of prayer. Around her the Apostles, all with a foot or hand elevated, that is to say in movement, they represent the Church active, missionary, which speaks and acts. Mary is motionless beneath Jesus, in the exact point from where he ascended into heaven, almost as if to preserve a living memory of Him and keep alive the hope of his return.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Today at the Vatican - May 16, 2012

  1. A black and white photo shows Swiss guards as Pope Benedict XVI holds on May 16, 2102 his weekly general audience in Saint-Peter's square at the Vatican.
    A black and white photo shows Swiss guards as Pope Benedict XVI holds on May 16, 2102 his weekly general audience in Saint-Peter's square at the Vatican. GETTY IMAGES
  2. A black and white photo shows Pope Benedict XVI (L) gesturing next to his personal secretary Georg Genswein on May 16, 2102 in Saint-Peter's square during his weekly general audience.
    A black and white photo shows Pope Benedict XVI (L) gesturing next to his personal secretary Georg Genswein on May 16, 2102 in Saint-Peter's square during his weekly general audience.GETTY IMAGES 

    A black and white photo shows Pope Benedict XVI (C) greeting priests and bishops on May 16, 2102 in Saint-Peter's square at the end of his weekly general audience.A black and white photo shows Pope Benedict XVI (C) greeting priests and bishops on May 16, 2102 in Saint-Peter's square at the end of his weekly general audience. GETTY IMAGESCardinal Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras waits on May 16, 2102 for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Saint-Peter's square for his weekly general audience.Cardinal Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras waits on May 16, 2102 for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI in Saint-Peter's square for his weekly general audience. REUTERS PICTURES Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves after the weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 16, 2012.Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leaves after the weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 16, 2012. REUTERS PICTURES Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 16, 2012.Pope Benedict XVI waves as he arrives to lead the weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 16, 2012. REUTERS PICTURES A baby cries as Pope Benedict XVI (R) strokes his cheeks after the weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 16, 2012.A baby cries as Pope Benedict XVI (R) strokes his cheeks after the weekly audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 16, 2012. GETTY IMAGES Pilgrims cheer Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives on his popemobile in St. Peter's square for the weekly general audience on May 16, 2102.Pilgrims cheer Pope Benedict XVI as he arrives on his popemobile in St. Peter's square for the weekly general audience on May 16, 2102.GETTY IMAGESPope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims from his popemobile upon his arrival in St. Peter's square for the weekly general audience on May 16, 2102.Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims from his popemobile upon his arrival in St. Peter's square for the weekly general audience on May 16, 2102. 

St. Simon Stock

Today’s saint of the day, St. Simon Stock, was born in Aylesford in County Kent, England in 1165. Although we know little about Simon Stock's early life, legend has it that the name Stock, meaning "tree trunk," is based on the fact that, beginning at age twelve, he lived as a hermit in a hollow tree trunk of an oak tree. He drank only water and ate herbs, roots, and wild apples. In 1212, he joined the Carmelites soon after they arrived in England. He finished his studies at Oxford and in 1215, he was appointed Vicar General.

Simon Stock helped the Order spread throughout Europe; he founded many Carmelite Communities, especially in university towns such as Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, and Bologna. He revised the Rule of the Order to make them mendicant friars instead of hermits. He was elected as the sixth superior general of the Carmelites in 1247 around age 82. Simon governed the order with great sanctity and prudence for twenty years. He had a deep devotion to the Blessed Mother and was known for his gifts of miracles and prophecy. He wrote several hymns and decrees for his order. Simon Stock died on May 16, 1265, at the age one hundred and was buried in the cathedral of Bordeaux. He is the patron of Bordeaux, France.

Simon Stock's is best known for an apparition he had in Cambridge, England, on July 16, 1251, during a time of oppression of the Order. In it the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to him holding the brown scapular in one hand. Her words were: "Receive, my beloved son, this scapular of your Order; it is the special sign of my favor, which I have obtained for you and for your children of Mount Carmel. He who dies clothed with this habit shall be preserved from eternal fire. It is the badge of salvation, a shield in time of danger, and a pledge of special peace and protection."

Carmel's Flower,
Vine ever blossoming,
Heaven's splendor!
Virgin who bore a child.
No one is like thee.
Mother gentle and kind.
Yet never touched by man!
To Carmelites give thou the privilege.
Help us Star of the Sea.

~ Simon Stock


Father, You called St Simon Stock to serve You
in the brotherhood of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
Through his prayers help us like him to live in your presence
and to work for the salvation of the human family.

For more information about St. Simon Stock: 

Read this article about St. Simon and the Scapular.

Read the life of St. Simon Stock from Butler's Lives of the Saints.

Pope: A family’s right to work and Sunday rest

Marking the World Day for Family, Pope Benedict XVI has appealed for the right to work and to rest for families worldwide. In comments following his Wednesday lesson on prayer in the life of the early Church the Holy Father said : “Yesterday, Tuesday, May 15th, we celebrated the World Day of Families, established by the United Nations and dedicated this year to balance between two closely related issues: family and work. This should not hinder the family, but rather support and unite it, helping it to be open to life and to enter into a relationship with society and with the Church. I also hope that Sunday, the Lord's Day and weekly celebration of His Resurrection, will be a day of rest and an opportunity to strengthen family ties”.

Below the English summary of Pope Benedict’s Wednesday catechesis:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on Christian prayer, we now turn to the teaching of the Apostle Paul. Saint Paul’s letters show us the rich variety of his own prayer, which embraces thanksgiving, praise, petition and intercession. For Paul, prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, the fruit of God’s presence within us. The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, teaching us to pray to the Father through the Son. In the eighth chapter of the Letter to the Romans, Paul tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us, unites us to Christ and enables us to call God our Father. In our prayer, the Holy Spirit grants us the glorious freedom of the children of God, the hope and strength to remain faithful to the Lord amid our daily trials and tribulations, and a heart attentive to the working of God’s grace in others and in the world around us. With Saint Paul, let us open our hearts to the presence of the Holy Spirit, who prays with us and leads us to an ever deeper union in love with the Triune God.

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from, Ireland, India, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Canada and the United States. I welcome in particular the pilgrimage groups from Australia. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Teaching Faith to Children

When is the best time to talk to children about religion? Finding the right way and even time can be challenging, but soon parents can count on a new resource to teach toddlers about the ABC's of being Catholic-literally.

Through videos and audio files, a business named AB Catholic aims to teach toddlers about faith. Complex terms that are sometimes difficult to explain are easily and visually presented to grab kids attention.

It's a way for parents and adults in general to engage children in the Catholic faith from early on.

Through the website,, the first product will be available in early June. It's titled 'My Catholic ABC's, which is meant to be inspiring, educational and faithful to the teachings of the Church.

So, the goal of AB Catholic is to entertain, but above all educate and enlighten. While the kid friendly videos are obviously for children, they're also a good tool for parents, who can use the videos as a springboard to teach children about Catholicism.

St. Isidore the Farmer

Today’s saint was born in Spain to an extremely poor family and, at an early age, began to work in the fields of a wealthy landowner. He married Maria (who is also a saint) and had one son who died as a child. He went to Mass every day before going to work and tradition has it that angels helped him make up for the work that he lost while in church. As he followed the plow and planted seeds, he offered prayers with each seed. In doing this he is an example of how prayer and work can be integrated. St. Isidore is the patron saint of the U.S. National Catholic Rural Life Conference. Let us ask St. Isidore to pray with us today for rural families, that society may recognize the importance of the family farm and the role it plays in educating future generations in good values and care for the land. Our reflections is from the Vatican’s intervention at the International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development held in Brazil in 2006.

The Holy See has always given particular attention to the rural world and its values, fully cognizant of the fact that its principal characteristics – its human dimension, direct knowledge of the order, harmony and beauty of nature, satisfaction of labor, generous exchange of services in correct individual conduct and relations with others, to name but a few – are constantly being rediscovered in every part of the world. Moreover, the Holy See realizes how much importance rural society attaches to religion, present in individual and community life, in work and in family life, and above all as a source of moral principles capable of permeating society, providing stability and integrity in the face of the difficulties and setbacks of daily life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Novena to St. Rita - May 13 - May 21

O Holy Patroness of those in need, Saint Rita, whose pleadings before thy Divine Lord are almost irresistable, who for thy lavishness in granting favors hast been called the Advocate of the hopeless and even of the Impossible; Saint Rita, so humble, so pure, so mortified, so patient and of compassionate love for thy Crucified Jesus that thou couldst obtain from him whatsoever thou askest, on account of which all confidently have recourse to thee, expecting, if not always relief, at least comfort; be propitious to our petition, showing thy power with God on behalf of thy suppliant; be lavish to us, as thou hast been in so many wonderful cases, for the greater glory of God, for the spreading of thine own devotion, and for the consolation of those who trust in thee.

We promise, if our petition is granted, to glorify, thee by making known thy favor, to bless and sing thy praises forever. Relying then upon thy merits and power before the Sacred Heart of Jesus, we pray thee grant that (REQUEST) obtain for us our request by the singular merits of thy childhood, thy perfect union with the Divine Will, thy heroic sufferings during thy married life, the consolation thou didst experience at the conversion of thy husband, the sacrifice of thy children rather than see them grievously offend God, thy miraculous entrance into the convent, thy severe penances and thrice daily bloody scourgings, thy suffering caused by the wound thou didst receive from the thorn of thy Crucified Saviour, thy divine love which consumed thy heart, that remarkable devotion to the Blessed Sacrament on which alone thou didst exist for four years, the happiness with which thou didst part from thy trials to join thy Divine Spouse, the perfect example thou gavest to people of every state of life.

Pray for us, O holy Saint Rita, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

A miracle named Christian

Inspiring video that’s now sweeping the Internet.  Beautiful and heartbreaking.

People ask the mother all the time why she didn’t abort the baby. Here’s her answer.

Takes seven minutes to watch. Kleenex required.

Religious Sisters in La Verna

Reuters Pictures — Nuns react during Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral visit to Arezzo’s cathedral May 13, 2012.

Reuters Pictures -Nuns wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for this visit in La Verna, near Arezzo May 13, 2012.

Getty Images — The outfits of nuns fly due to strong wind prior the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at La Verna shrine on May 13, 2012 during a one day pastoral visit of the pontiff. The visit to the Shrine of La Verna by the pontiff was cancelled due to bad weather.

Reuters Pictures — A gust of wind blows the mantles of two nuns as they wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI for his pastoral visit in La Verna, near Arezzo May 13, 2012.

St. Matthias, Apostle

Today is the feast of the apostle who was chosen to take the place of Judas who betrayed Jesus and then, in despair, killed himself. It is as though he was specially chosen to make up for the evil that Judas had done. In each of our lives we are called to “make reparation,” to balance the evil that is done in the world with good. Let us commit ourselves to doing this as we pray for Pope Benedict’s monthly intentions and reflect on part of his 2006 General Audience where he talked about St. Matthias.

In conclusion, we want to remember he who, after Easter, was elected in place of the betrayer. In the Church of Jerusalem two were proposed to the community, and then lots were cast for their names: "Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias" (Acts 1: 23). Precisely the latter was chosen, hence, "he was enrolled with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1: 26). We know nothing else about him, if not that he had been a witness to all Jesus' earthly events (cf. Acts 1: 21-22), remaining faithful to him to the end. To the greatness of his fidelity was later added the divine call to take the place of Judas, almost compensating for his betrayal. We draw from this a final lesson: while there is no lack of unworthy and traitorous Christians in the Church, it is up to each of us to counterbalance the evil done by them with our clear witness to Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day Prayer

Loving Father,

as a mother gives life and nourishment to her children,

so you watch over your Church.

Bless these women,

that they may be strengthened as Christian mothers.

Let the example of their faith and love shine forth.

Grant that we, their sons and daughters,

may honor them always

with a spirit of profound respect.

Grant this through Christ our Lord.