Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Memorial of St. Ignatius of Loyola, priest

St. Ignatius is the founder of the Jesuits, the religious order from which the Apostleship of Prayer arose and to which the Holy Father has continued to entrust its care. The close link between the Apostleship of Prayer and the Jesuits is a natural one because St. Ignatius sought direction from the Holy Father in all his endeavors. He wanted to meet the needs of the Church and he believed that those needs were best known by the Pope who always had the bigger picture in mind. This is what we strive to do as Apostles of Prayer. We want to serve the Church in its needs and so we pray for those things which the Holy Father chooses each month as the most worthy of our attention and prayer. And so let us pray one last time for this month’s intentions: that everyone may have work in safe and secure conditions and that Christian volunteers in mission territories may witness to the love of Christ. Our prayer is from a reflection entitled “Principle and Foundation” from the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius.

Human beings are created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by means of doing this to save their souls. The other things on the face of the earth are created for the human beings, to help them in the pursuit of the end for which they are created. From this is follows that we ought to use these things to the extent that they help us toward our end, and free ourselves from them to the extent that they hinder us from it. To attain this it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things, in regard to everything which is left to our free will and is not forbidden. Consequently, on our own part we ought not to seek health rather than sickness, wealth rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, a long life rather than a short one, and so on in all other matters. Rather, we ought to desire and choose only that which is more conducive to the end for which we are created.

Monday, July 30, 2012

St. Peter Chrysologus:

He only lived about fifty years, but the 183 sermons of his that we have continue to speak to us over 1500 years after his death. In one of them, he reflects on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, 12: 1: “I urge you, therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.” These words are at the heart of what we strive to do in the Apostleship of Prayer: to live a Eucharistic life, a life in which we offer ourselves one day at a time with Jesus who offers Himself to the Father for the salvation of the world. Let us renew our offering now as we reflect on words from Homily 108 of St. Peter Chrysologus:

How marvelous is the priesthood of the Christian, for he is both the victim that is offered on his own behalf, and the priest who makes the offering. He does not need to go beyond himself to seek what he is to immolate to God: with himself and in himself he brings the sacrifice he is to offer God for himself. The victim remains and the priest remains, always one and the same. Immolated, the victim still lives: the priest who immolates cannot kill. Truly it is an amazing sacrifice in which a body is offered without being slain and blood is offered without being shed. …

Paul says: “I appeal to you by the mercy of God to present your bodies as a sacrifice, living and holy.” The prophet said the same thing: “Sacrifices and offering you did not desire, but you have prepared a body for me.” Each of us is called to be both a sacrifice to God and his priest. Do not forfeit what divine authority confers on you. Put on the garment of holiness, gird yourself with the belt of chastity. Let Christ be your helmet, let the cross on your forehead be your unfailing protection. Your breastplate should be the knowledge of God that he himself has given you. Keep burning continually the sweet smelling incense of prayer. Take up the sword of the Spirit. Let your heart be an altar. Then, with full confidence in God, present your body for sacrifice. God desires not death, but faith; God thirsts not for blood, but for self-surrender; God is appeased not by slaughter, but by the offering of your free will.

Friday, July 27, 2012

What to wear when meeting the Pope

When it comes to meeting the Pope one could say, fashion wise, men have it a lot easier than women. Hitting the fashion mark, can often times be challenging. What one considers fashionable, may end up raising someone else's eyebrows. 

The wife of Sri Lanka's president,wore traditional clothing from her country, when she met the Pope along with her husband. Yet some were surprised by the fact that she was showing her mid section during the meeting. 

On the other hand, Montenegro's first lady followed protocol by wearing black clothing, while meeting the Pope. But was the dress style maybe too old fashioned?

When the Pope went to Africa, Benin's first lady wore colorful traditional clothing. But in this case, it wasn't so much what she chose to wear. Her body posture seemed to speak the loudest. Perhaps it was the intense heat that made her look a bit tired. 

But for some, it's not about fashion or posture, but mostly about following tradition. For example, Sweden's ambassador before the Holy See, strictly followed her country's tradition by wearing this hat during the yearly ambassadors meeting. Her pride in following tradition was quite obvious as she greeted the Pope with a big smile. The Pope, also seemed to enjoy it. 

Other situations, may seem a bit odd or just interesting. For example, Queen Elizabeth held tight to her purse while meeting Benedict XVI, never leaving it out of her sight. But if one looks years back at her meeting with John Paul II, it's a similar scene, with her walking around with her purse. 

Everyone has their own sense of fashion, but perhaps one of the most surprising is the first lady of Cameroon. She visited Rome for John Paul II's beatification ceremony, with her trademark style ofbig red hair and thick makeup. 

Back in 2009, when Benedict XVI visited Africa, he greeted the president and his wife 'Chantal.' She was quite respectful, but her style was just as loud. 

It was one of those rare moments, when perhaps all eyes, were not on the Pope, but on Cameroon's first lady.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Memorial of Sts. Joachim and Anne, parents of Mary

Though they do not appear in the Bible, a tradition going back to the second century recognizes today’s saints as the par

ents of Mary and thus the grandparents of Jesus. They remind us how important family life is. Together, Anne and Joachim, provided the right environment for Mary to maintain her purity. Let us ask their powerful intercession now as we join Pope Benedict in praying that Christian volunteers in mission territories may witness to Christ and that all people may have work in safe and secure conditions. Our reflection is from Bl. John XXIII.

St. Anne was the mother of the blessed Virgin Mary. The sweet and venerable figure of this highly privileged woman cannot be separated from that of her husband, St. Joachim. Equally loved and revered by all Christians. We do not know much about them, but from an ancient tradition we learn that they were already advanced in years when the Lord bestowed on them the gift of the stainless lily chosen to be the Mother of the Word of God made man, and the Spiritual Mother of all the redeemed.

We can learn a twofold lesson from the recurrence of the Feast of St. Anne. The first is for children and young people, and perhaps for older folk too. It is that we must always treat elderly people with great respect and affectionate care. They possess a real treasure of gifts and graces which the Lord has showered upon them on the long way they have come, and this treasure will be of priceless value to them when they reach the end of their earthly pilgrimage.

You must then respect the old, and during the years of youth and maturity you must be generous in service to God. In this way we can be sure that the young people of today will enjoy a serene and trustful old age, strengthened by fine memories of the good they have done.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Feast of St. James, apostle

In Spain, he is called El Senor Santiago, the patron saint of horsemen and soldiers, and his great shrine at Santiago de Compostela in that country has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. He is one of those that Jesus calledBoanerges, "son of thunder," the brother of John the Evangelist and the son of Zebedee the fisherman from Galilee.

St. James the Greater and his brother John were apparently partners with those other two brothers, Peter and Andrew, and lived in Bethsaida, on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. How and where James first met Jesus, we do not know; but there is an old legend that makes Salome, his mother, a sister of Mary, and if this were the case, he would have known Jesus from childhood.

Along with Peter and his brother John, James was part of the inner circle of Jesus, who witnessed the Transfiguration, were witnesses to certain of His miracles, like the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and accompanied Him to the Garden of Gethsemani. Like his brother, he was active in the work of evangelization after the death of Jesus, and one legend, very unlikely, even has him going to Spain after Jesus' resurrection.

His prominence and his presence in Jerusalem must have been well known, for scarcely a dozen years after the Resurrection, he became involved in the political maneuverings of the day and was arrested and executed by King Herod Agrippa. This was followed by the arrest of Peter also, so his death must have been part of a purge of Christian leaders by Agrippa, who saw the new Christian movement as a threat to Judaism.

Jesus had foretold this kind of fate when He prophesied that James and his brother John would "drink of the same chalice" of suffering as Himself. The two brothers had asked to be seated at the right of Jesus and at His left in His kingdom, and Jesus told them that they would be with Him in a far different way than they expected.

James's death is the only biblical record we have of the death of one of the Apostles, and he was the first of that chosen band to give his life for his Master.

Excerpted from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens

Patron: Against arthritis; against rheumatism; Antigua, Guatemala; apothecaries; blacksmiths; Chile; Compostela, Spain; druggists; equestrians; furriers; Galicia, Spain; Guatemala; horsemen; knights; laborers; Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina; Nicaragua; pharmacists; pilgrims; Pistoia, Italy; rheumatoid sufferers; riders; soldiers; Spain; Spanish conquistadors; tanners; veterinarians.

Symbols: Cockle shell; dark-bearded man holding a book; dark-bearded man holding a scroll; dark-bearded man holding a sword; dark-bearded man with a floppy pilgrim's hat, long staff, water bottle, and scallop shell; elderly, bearded man wearing a hat with a scallop shell; key; man with shells around him; mounted on horseback, trampling a Moor; pilgrim with wallet and staff; pilgrim's hat; pilgrim's staff; scallop shell; sword.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

St. Christina of Bolsena

Saint Christina was the daughter of a rich and powerful magistrate named Urban. Her father, who was deep in the practices of paganism, had a number of golden idols. His young daughter broke them, then distributed the pieces among the poor. Infuriated by this act, Urban became the persecutor of his own daughter. He had her whipped with rods and thrown into a dungeon. Christina remained unshaken in her faith. Her tormentor brought her forth to have her body torn by iron hooks, then fastened to a rack beneath which a fire was kindled. But God watched over His servant and turned the flames back toward the onlookers, several of whom perished.

The torments to which this young girl was subjected would seem as difficult to devise as to imagine; but God was beside her at all times. After a heavy stone was attached to her neck, Saint Christina was thrown into the lake of Bolsena, but was rescued by an Angel and seen wearing a stole and walking on the water, accompanied by several Angels. Her father, hearing she was still alive, died suddenly amid atrocious sufferings. A new judge succeeded him, a cruel pagan experienced in persecuting the Christians. He tried to win her by reminding her of her nobility, suggesting she was in serious error. Her reply infuriated him: “Christ, whom you despise, will tear me out of your hands!” Then Saint Christina suffered the most inhuman torments. The second judge also was struck down by divine justice. A third one named Julian, succeeded him. “Magician!” he cried, “adore the gods, or I will put you to death!” She survived a raging furnace, after remaining in it for five days. Serpents and vipers thrown into her prison did not touch her, but killed the magician who had brought them there. She sent them away in the name of Christ, after restoring the unfortunate magician to life; he was converted and thanked the God of Christina and the Saint. Then her tongue was cut out.

The Saint prayed to be allowed to finish her course. When she was pierced with arrows, she gained the martyr’s crown at Tyro, a city which formerly stood on an island in the lake of Bolsena in Italy, but has since been swallowed up by the waters. Her relics are now at Palermo in Sicily. Her tomb was discovered in the 19th century at Bolsena, marked with an inscription dating from the 10th century.

Excerpted from Les Petits Bollandistes: Vies des Saints, by Msgr. Paul Guérin (Bloud et Barral: Paris, 1882), Vol. 9.

St. Sharbel (Charbel) Makhloof

Joseph Makhlouf was born in 1828 at Beqa-Kafra, Lebanon. His peasant family lived a strong faith, were attentive to the Divine Liturgy, and had a great devotion to the Mother of God.

At the age of 23, Charbel (the name he chose when entering Novitiate) left his closely knit family to enter the Lebanese-Maronite Monastery called Notre-Dame de Mayfouk. Following studies and profession at St. Cyprian de Kfifane Monastery, he was ordained in 1859.

For the next seven years, Charbel lived in the mountainous community of Anaya. After that he spent the next twenty-three years in complete solitude at Sts. Peter and Paul Hermitage near Anaya. He died there on Christmas Eve, 1898.

Charbel had a reputation for his austerity, penances, obedience, and chastity. At times, Charbel was gifted with levitations during prayer, and he had great devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament.

In all things, Charbel maintained perfect serenity. He was beatified in 1965 by Pope Paul VI and canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1977.

On May 8, 1828 in a mountain village of Beka'kafra, the highest village in the near-east, Charbel was born to a poor Maronite family. From childhood his life revealed a calling to "bear fruit as a noble Cedar of Lebanon". Charbel "grew in age and wisdom before God and men." At 23 years old he entered the monastery of Our Lady of Mayfouk (north of Byblos) where he became a novice. After two years of novitiate, in 1853, he was sent to St. Maron monastery where he pronounced the monastic vows of poverty, chastity and obedience. Charbel was then transferred to the monastery of Kfeifan where he studied philosophy and theology. His ordination to the priesthood took place in 1859, after which he was sent back to St. Maron monastery. His teachers provided him with good education and nurtured within him a deep love for monastic life.

During his 19 years at St. Maron monastery, Charbel performed his priestly ministry and his monastic duties in an edifying way. He totally dedicated himself to Christ with undivided heart to live in silence before Nameless One. In 1875 Charbel was granted permission to live as a hermit nearby the monastery at St. Peter and Paul hermitage. His 23 years of solitary life were lived in a spirit of total abandonment to God.

Charbel's companions in the hermitage were the Sons of God, as encountered in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist, and the Blessed Mother. The Eucharist became the center of his life. He consumed the Bread of his Life and was consumed by it. Though this hermit did not have a place in the world, the world had a great place in his heart. Through prayer and penance he offered himself as a sacrifice so that the world would return to God. It is in this light that one sees the importance of the following Eucharistic prayer in his life:

"Father of Truth, behold Your Son a sacrifice pleasing to You, accept this offering of Him who died for me..."

On December 16, 1898 while reciting the "Father of Truth" prayer at the Holy Liturgy Charbel suffered a stroke. He died on Christmas Eve at the age of 70. Through faith this hermit received the Word of God and through love he continued the Ministry of Incarnation.

On the evening of his funeral, his superior wrote: "Because of what he will do after his death, I need not talk about his behavior". A few months after his death a bright light was seen surrounding his tomb. The superiors opened it to find his body still intact. Since that day a blood-like liquid flows from his body. Experts and doctors are unable to give medical explanations for the incorruptibility and flexibility. In the years 1950 and 1952 his tomb was opened and his body still had the appearance of a living one.

The spirit of Charbel still lives in many people. His miracles include numerous healings of the body and of the spirit. Thomas Merton, the American Hermit, wrote in his journal: "Charbel lived as a hermit in Lebanon—he was a Maronite. He died. Everyone forgot about him. Fifty years later, his body was discovered incorrupt and in short time he worked over 600 miracles. He is my new companion. My road has taken a new turning. It seems to me that I have been asleep for 9 years—and before that I was dead."

At the closing of the Second Vatican Council, on December 5, 1965 Charbel was beatified by Pope Paul VI who said:

"...a hermit of the Lebanese mountain is inscribed in the number of the blessed...a new eminent member of monastic sanctity is enriching, by his example and his intercession, the entire Christian people... May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance, and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God..."

On October 9, 1977 during the World Synod of Bishops, Pope Paul VI canonized Blessed Charbel among the ranks of the Saints.

Taken from Opus Libani

Monday, July 23, 2012

God makes peace, Satan makes war, Pope tells audience

At his Sunday public audience on July 22, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the image of Jesus as Good Shepherd, and on the most famous of the “lost sheep,” St. Mary Magdalene.

Noting that the date (July 22) was the saint’s feast day, the Holy Father reminded his audience that Jesus “saved her from utter servitude to the Evil One.” The result was a “profound healing,” he said, which produced “true and complete peace.”

The Pope held his Sunday audience in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo, where he is currently vacationing.

While God wants what is best for his children, Satan is busy “sowing strife in the human heart,” the Pope said. The unhappy results can be seen in troubled personal relations and in international conflicts. But the Good Shepherd works to repair the damage. “The Evil One spreads war; God creates peace,” the Pope concluded.

St. Bridget

Bridget was born in Sweden of noble and pious parents, and led a most holy life. While she was yet unborn, her mother was saved from shipwreck for her sake. At ten years of age, Bridget heard a sermon on the Passion of our Lord; and the next night she saw Jesus on the cross, covered with fresh blood, and speaking to her about his Passion. Thenceforward meditation on that subject affected her to such a degree, that she could never think of our Lord's sufferings without tears.

She was given in marriage to Ulfo prince of Nericia; and won him, by example and persuasion, to a life of piety. She devoted herself with maternal love to the education of her children. She was most zealous in serving the poor, especially the sick; and set apart a house for their reception, where she would often wash and kiss their feet. Together with her husband, she went on pilgrimage to Compostella, to visit the tomb of the apostle St. James. On their return journey, Ulfo fell dangerously ill at Arras; but St. Dionysius, appearing to Bridget at night, foretold the restoration of her husband's health, and other future events.

Ulfo became a Cistercian monk, but died soon afterwards. Whereupon Bridget, having heard the voice of Christ calling her in a dream, embraced a more austere manner of life. Many secrets were then revealed to her by God. She founded the monastery of Vadstena under the rule of our Savior, which was given her by our Lord himself. At his command, she went to Rome, where she kindled the love of God in very many hearts. She made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem; but on her return to Rome she was attacked by fever, and suffered severely from sickness during a whole year. On the day she had foretold, she passed to heaven, laden with merits. Her body was translated to her monastery of Vadstena; and becoming illustrious for miracles, she was enrolled among the saints by Boniface IX.

Excerpted from The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B.

St. Bridget founded the Order of the Most Holy Savior (Bridgettines) at Vadstena in 1346. It received confirmation by Pope Urban V in 1370, and survives today. The new branch of the order was refounded by Blessed Elisabeth Hesselblad and has grown substantially, around the world.

Patron: Europe; Sweden; widows.

Symbols: Pilgrim's staff, bottle and wallet; open book and dove; crosier, lute and chain; taper; heart charged with cross; book; head and cross; pilgrim's staff; shell.

Friday, July 20, 2012

St. Apollinaris

Today’s saint was a disciple of St. Peter who sent him to Ravenna to be its bishop. He became famous for healing people in the Name of Jesus which led many to become Christian. This infuriated the Emperor who had him arrested, tortured, and finally killed. Christian volunteers in mission territories often work in dangerous circumstances and reveal in a powerful way the love of Christ through their own sacrifice of time and money, even at the risk of their lives. During this month that is traditionally dedicated to the Precious Blood of Jesus, let us pray that these volunteers, knowing how the Blood of Christ shed for all makes all precious to God, may witness to the love of Christ. Our reflection is from Pope Benedict’s July 5, 2009 Angelus Address:

Dear Brothers, it is written in Genesis that the blood of Abel, killed by his brother Cain, cries to God from the earth (cf. 4: 10). And, unfortunately, today as in the past, this cry never ceases, as human blood continues to be shed because of violence, injustice and hatred. When will human beings learn that life is sacred and belongs to God alone? When will they understand that we are all brothers and sisters? To the cry which rises from so many parts of the earth for the blood that is spilled, God responds with the Blood of his Son, who gave his life for us. Christ did not respond to evil with evil but with goodness, with his infinite love. The Blood of Christ is the pledge of God's faithful love for humanity. Every human being, even in conditions of extreme moral wretchedness can say, fixing his eyes on the wounds of the Crucified One: "God has not abandoned me, he loves me, he has given his life for me", and thus rediscover hope. May the Virgin Mary, who at the foot of the Cross together with the Apostle John received the testament of Jesus' Blood, help us to rediscover the inestimable richness of this grace and to feel deep and everlasting gratitude for it.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Trinidad Rum Punch

An ice cold glass of Trinidad Rum Punch, speaks of hot sunny days and balmy Caribbean nights.as 

This tantalizing taste sensation will transform your deck or patio into a little bit of paradise - an extension of your vacation; a taste of the good times to be shared with friends.

Rum has a long history in the Caribbean, and the rums of each Caribbean island have distinct flavors.

The best, in our opinion, is Trinidad rum, and the most popular Trinidad rum is Fernandez Black Label. Black Label is an excellent dark rum, but unfortunately, it is not always available internationally.

When you are exiting Trinidad and Tobago make plans to purchase a supply at duty free. In fact, why not make plans to take an extra couple bottles back with you.


The traditional Trinidad Rum Punch recipe is 1 sour, 2 sweet, 3 strong, 4 weak. Simple to make. Easy to remember. This is an oldie but a goodie. Let's expand on those ingredients a bit for you:

1 (measure) - freshly squeezed Caribbean lime juice
2 (measures) - cane sugar
3 (measures) - dark Trinidad rum
4 (measures) - water

Serve over ice with a couple dashes of Angostura Bitters and, optionally, a sprinkle of finely grated nutmeg. There you have it,sunshine in a glass! A simple way to transport yourself to Trinidad, and all it takes is one sip.

Preparation Notes
Don't be Tempted to Substitute: For the purpose of making this rum punch recipe, lemons are a poor substitute for limes. They are not grown in Trinidad commercially, and they are much less tart. Stay with lime juice to get the most authentic flavor.

Similarly, dark Trinidad rum may be difficult to find, internationally; if you must substitute, try another dark West Indian rum. This rum punch recipe requires the rich full-bodied flavor of dark rum.

Water or Ice: If you plan to chill the punch before serving, then it's fine as it is. However, if you plan to serve it immediately, reduce the volume of water by half and add ice to chill.

Boil or Shake: Some rum punch recipes suggest that you first make a syrup with the sugar and water. We've never found this necessary. We use a cocktail mixer, a much quicker solution, in our opinion. Anyway, we are seldom tempted to drink rum punch by the gallon... except when we go to the beach, of course.

A word of caution: Don't be fooled by the sweet, fruity flavor, rum punch is potent.

Don't drink and drive. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

St. Camillus de Lellis

Today’s saint was very tall—six feet, six inches. At the age of seventeen he left his village in Italy to fight in a war against Turkish invaders, but his leg became infected with an ulcer and he was sent to a hospital. As he recovered his health he gambled away all his possessions and ended up working for the Capuchin Franciscans. He wanted to join them but was refused because of his questionable past and diseased leg. He ended up working in the hospital from which he had been discharged as he discerned his vocation. St. Philip Neri counseled him to become a priest and start a new congregation that would care for the sick. This is what St. Camillus did, founding the Servants of the Sick who continue to this day to care for the sick and elderly. St. Camillus was drawn to caring for the sick because he himself had suffered and understand their pain. Moreover, he saw Jesus in the sick and took seriously His admonition that whenever the followers of Christ visit the sick, they are visiting Christ. As we pray for volunteers in mission territories, let us ask that they may see Christ in the people they serve. Our reflection is from a description of St. Camillus that one of his early followers wrote:

I cannot get it out my mind, that when he was attending on a sick person, he looked like a hen with her chickens or like a mother at the bedside of her sick child. For, as if his arms and hands were not enough for the expressions of affection, he might generally be seen bent over the poor man, as though he wished to communicate to him his heart, his breath, and his very soul. Before leaving the bed, too, he would keep smoothing the pillow and … he hovered about the bed, inquiring how the patient felt, whether he wanted anything else, and giving him some maxim to meditate on for the good of his soul. I know not what more the affectionate mother could have done for her only child in his sickness. No one who did not know the holy father would ever have thought that he had gone to the hospital to serve all the sick without distinction. They would have supposed that all his care was wrapped up in the life of that one poor man and that he had nothing else in the world to think about.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Summer Vacation - Week One

It’s summer vacation. Time for lazy days. It’s the beauty of summer, really – not having so many activities, getting to move at a slower pace, and spending your time doing what you really enjoy.

As I am focusing on the wonderful laziness, though, there are some moments that only this vacation time brings that I definitely don’t want to miss. 
Using the vacation time in a way that helps renew our relationships with others and with God. Interrupting the hectic and frantic pace of daily life, we can take time to dedicate ourselves to others and to God. 

As we spend time at the beautiful Yara beach, I am reminded of  God's greatness and admire the beauty, of creation around us, recognizing in it the wonderful presence of the Creator. 

The enjoyment of nature helps to nourish and restore our spirit. It gives us the strength to continue our journey refreshed and renewed.

The Blessed Martyrs of Compiegne

On July 17, 1794, sixteen Carmelites caught up in the French Revolution were guillotined at the Place du Trône Renversé (now called Place de la Nation), in Paris.

When the revolution started in 1789, a group of twenty-one discalced Carmelites lived in a monastery in Compiegne France, founded in 1641. The monastery was ordered closed in 1790 by the Revolutionary government, and the nuns were disbanded. Sixteen of the nuns were accused of living in a religious community in 1794. They were arrested on June 22 and imprisoned in a Visitation convent in Compiegne There they openly resumed their religious life.

For a full twenty months before their execution, the sisters came together in an act of consecration “whereby each member of the community would join with the others in offering herself daily to God, soul and body in holocaust to restore peace to France and to her Church.”

The nuns were not just mere victims of the Revolution overcome by circumstances. Each contemplated her martyrdom; each understood her offering. Each sought that “greater love” of giving herself for her fellow man in imitation of the Divine Lamb Who redeemed humanity.

On July 12, 1794, the Carmelites were taken to Paris and five days later were sentenced to death. Before their execution they knelt and chanted the "Veni Creator", as at a profession, after which they all renewed aloud their baptismal and religious vows. They went to the guillotine singing the Salve Regina. They were beatified in 1906 by Pope St. Pius X.

The Carmelites were: Marie Claude Brard; Madeleine Brideau, the subprior; Maire Croissy, grandniece of Colbert Marie Dufour; Marie Hanisset; Marie Meunier, a novice; Rose de Neufville Annette Pebras; Anne Piedcourt: Madeleine Lidoine, the prioress; Angelique Roussel; Catherine Soiron and Therese Soiron, both extern sisters, natives of Compiegne and blood sisters: Anne Mary Thouret; Marie Trezelle; and Eliza beth Verolot. The martyrdom of the nuns was immortalized by the composer Francois Poulenc in his famous opera Dialogues des Carmelites.

Excerpted from Catholic Fire

St. Alexis

To what extent the life and Acts of this saint are historical, whether this "man of God," as he was and is called in the Orient, lived in the East or at Rome — these are questions we here must pass over. The story of St. Alexius, one of the most edifying in Christian hagiography, presents a glorious illustration of that Christian ideal of perfection which for Christ's sake embraces poverty and humiliations. Is it possible to be more heroic than to live for seventeen years under the steps in one's own house, to endure the wanton affronts of one's father's slaves, to remain as an unknown beggar to father, mother, and a bride still longing for her spouse? And for Alexius all this was motivated by an insurmountable love of Christ! Even supposing the legend to lack an historical kernel, it still would be marvelous to find a religion that could create such an ideal.
The Breviary gives these details. Alexius belonged to a noble Roman family. Prompted by a special divine illumination and moved by an ardent love for Jesus Christ, he left his maiden bride upon their wedding day and began a pilgrimage to the more illustrious churches of Christendom. He had devoted seventeen years to this pilgrimage and was at Edessa, a Syrian city, when his holiness was revealed by a picture of the Blessed Virgin that uttered his name. He left the place and by boat arrived at the port of Rome. His father received him as a traveling stranger and he remained there seventeen years, living under the stairs of the house unrecognized by anyone. Only after his death were documents found giving his name, family, and a kind of autobiography. He died July 17, 417, during the pontificate of Pope Innocent I.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: Of beggars and pilgrims.
Symbols: A beggar or pilgrim holding a staircase (his emblem); asleep by the stairs, dirty water emptied on him; as a pilgrim with a staff and scrip; as a pilgrim, kneeling before the pope, to whom he gives a letter.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Top 10 Firsts in the 2012 London Olympics

London may be a city of deep-rooted tradition, but it is also a place of empirical progress, and the 2012 London Olympics seek to present that dichotomy in its every underpinning. While the theme of the games are a tribute to England’s Industrial Revolution – where class distinctions have never been so distinct, divided by soot and grime – these games also mark efforts to be more thoughtful and inclusive than any previous era. So, in the name of breaking new ground, here are ten firsts for the 2012 London Olympics.
Third Time Hosting
First: City to Host a Third Time.

Having previously hosted in 1908 and 1948, London proved itself to be a gracious host, as it will soon come to host more times than has any other city. With everything it has in store this year, it will have no trouble winning over the Olympic Committee a fourth time.
First: Completed Venue, the Velodrome.
The first completed venue of the Olympic Park was the Velopark’s Velodrome, a giant indoor cycling track. Fitting the “green” theme of the games, the venue is outfitted with rooflights to cut back on artificial lighting, and natural vents to minimize air conditioner usage. Also, the roof is designed to collect rainwater as a supplemental water source.
First: Broadcast in 3D.

While the 2008 Olympics were the first to be broadcast entirely in HD, the 2012 Olympics are the first to broadcast in HD as well as 3D. Sean Taylor, a spokesperson for Panasonic – provider of some of the technologies – said it effectively, “Each Games, from a technology perspective, tries to have a first. London will be the first HD and 3D Games.” The games were first televised in Berlin in 1936 and played on big screens about the city. Then came the first games to enter households (strictly in London that is) in 1948, followed by the first internationally televised games during the 1960 Olympics in Rome. And ever since, that feeling of physically standing in the crowd and watching these mighty contestants has only gotten clearer, more defined. Now, they more literally than ever actually compete in your living room.
Soccer Team
First: Time Since 1960 England Will Have a Competing Football (Soccer) Team.

Part of the reason England hasn’t been trying to qualify for the games was a decision in 1972 to stop allowing ‘amateur’ players to play, which impeded those planning to play for the British team who fell under such a category. While these players were able to compete again in 1984, they simply opted out. Their playing again this year will make exactly one hundred years since they last won the gold (before that, in 1908 and 1900). Maybe in this revisiting of past ideals, the Brits will stumble upon some of whatever steam-powered them to glory in the early part of the 20th century.
Women’s Football
Ladies First: Women’s Football (Soccer) Comes First.

The first event to take place in the 2012 Olympics, before even the opening ceremony, is women’s football; this seems to be an overt way of announcing an increased sense of gender-equality. For one thing, Saudi Arabian women will for the first time be allowed to compete, this coming only after the Olympics threatened to ban the Saudi Arabian team over gender discrimination. Show jumper Dalma Rushdi Malhas will gallop into action as the first female representative of the nation.

Women’s Boxing
First: Appearance of Women’s Boxing.
In keeping with the support of women’s athletics in these games in particular, a new sport has been added, and it’s hardly a dainty one: women’s boxing. That’s right, women will be beating each other to a pulp just like any male boxer would in this new addition to the usual line-up. There will be three weight classes: lightweight, featherweight, and middleweight.
London 2012 Paralympic Tickets Poster
First: Paralympics in London.

Stoke Mandeville is actually where the Paralympic (a.k.a. “Special Olympics”) movement took place, the first nonofficial events taking place in 1948 in which hospitalized WWII veterans with spine injuries competed in a variety of sports. For the 2012 games, the first to officially recognize the Paralympics in conjunction with the Olympics, disabled individuals will be accommodated better than ever before, per official British mentality of equal opportunity.
Stadium Design
First: Stadium of its Kind.

The stadium is designed, like its competing athletes, for efficiency; it is especially lightweight and conservative. With the capacity to seat 80,000 individuals, it was built with less than 10,000 metric tons of steel (the first of such a structure). It boasts myriad energy-cutting measures, including a lack of indoor concessions – food provided external to the stadium, with giant screens so as to watch and eat. In finished form, the stadium will stand as the third largest in the country, after Wembley and Twickenham – not the case, however, when it is scaled down to a fixed 60,000-seat-stadium after the games.
Public Transportation
First: to Emphasize Public Transportation.

Another surefire measure to cutback on energy waste is to support public transportation. And the 2012 Olympics will do just that when it unveils the extra-quick “Javelin,” made especially for the purpose of transporting spectators. It will be able to go from central London to the Olympic Park in just seven minutes, transporting as many as 25,000 passengers in a single hour.
First: Eco-Conscious Games.

A paradox is presented as the London games celebrate both the Industrial Revolution (a.k.a. the birth of pollution) and a spirit of committed environmentalism; London will be the first to actively measure its own carbon footprint during these games, designing a stadium and accommodations that cut-back on negative emissions when at all possible. They are also shooting for a world record via the “Javelin,” designed specifically to keep as many exhaust pipes at bay as humanly possible.

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

In the fourteenth century the Carmelite order instituted this feast to celebrate the official recognition of their order in 1226 by Pope Honorius III. This date was chosen because it was the day when the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared in a vision to St. Simon Stock in 1251 and gave to him the brown scapular. She told him to share the scapular with all people, promising that whoever wore it would enjoy her special protection. Pope Benedict XIII extended this feast to the entire Church in 1726. As he hung on the cross, Jesus gave his mother to John, telling him, “Behold, your mother.” The Church has seen in this gesture a gift that is meant for the entire Church. Mary is our mother and as she nurtured and cared for Jesus, so does she care for us, members of the Body of Christ, brothers and sisters of Jesus through our Baptism. With this in mind, let us turn to Our Lady of Mount Carmel and pray for the Holy Father, his intentions, and for the entire Church.

O most beautiful Flower of Mount Carmel, Fruitful Vine, Splendor of Heaven, who brought forth the Son of God, still remaining a Virgin: assist us in this our necessity. O Star of the Sea, help us, and show us that you are our Mother. O Holy Mary, Mother of God, Queen of heaven and earth, we humbly ask you from the bottom of our hearts to help us in this necessity. There are none who can withstand your power. O show us that you are our Mother. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you. Sweet Mother, we place this cause in your hands.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pope in Frascati: God calls, we need to listen

Dear brothers and sisters!

I am very pleased to be among you today to celebrate this Eucharist and to share the joys and hopes, trials and efforts, ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community. I greet Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State and the titular of this diocese. I greet your pastor, Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, and the Mayor of Frascati, thanking them for the kind words of welcome with which they greeted me on your behalf. I am pleased to welcome the Minister, the Presidents of the Region and the Province, the Mayor of Rome, the other mayors present and all the distinguished authorities.

And I am very happy today to celebrate this Mass with your bishop who for more than twenty years, as he already mentioned, was a very loyal and capable collaborator of mine in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Working primarily in the field of catechesis and catechism with great silence and discretion he contributed to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Compendium of the Catechism. His voice is also very present in this great symphony of faith.

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus takes the initiative to send the twelve Apostles on a mission (cf. Mk 6.7 to 13). In fact, the term "apostles" literally means "emissary, messenger." Their vocation is fully realized after the resurrection of Christ with the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. However, it is very important that from the outset Jesus wants to involve the Twelve in his action: it is a sort of "internship" in view of the great responsibility that awaits them. The fact that Jesus calls some disciples to collaborate directly in His mission, expresses an aspect of His love: He does not disdain the help that other men can contribute to his work, He knows their limits, their weaknesses, but does not despise them, indeed, He confers on them the dignity of being His emissaries. Jesus sends them out two by two and gives them instructions, which the Evangelist summarizes in a few sentences. The first concerns the spirit of detachment: the apostles must not be attached to money and comforts. Then Jesus warns the disciples that they will not always receive a favorable welcome: at times they will be rejected, and indeed may also be persecuted. But that should not affect them: they must speak in the name of Jesus and preach the Kingdom of God, without worrying about their success. They must leave the success in God's hands.

The first reading, presents us the same perspective, showing us that often God’s messengers are not well received. This is the case of the prophet Amos, sent out by God to prophesize in the sanctuary of Bethel, a sanctuary of the kingdom of Israel (cf. 7.12 to 15 Am). Amos preached with great energy against injustice, especially denouncing the abuses of the king and chiefs, abuses that offend the Lord, and render acts of worship vain. Thus Amaziah, a priest of Bethel, orders Amos to leave. He replies that he did not choose this mission, but the Lord made him a prophet and sent him there, to the kingdom of Israel. Therefore, whether accepted or rejected, he will continue to prophesize, preaching what God says and not what people want to hear. And this remains the mandate of the Church: She does not preach what the powerful want to hear. The criterion is truth and justice even if it goes against applause and against human power.

Similarly, in the Gospel, Jesus warns the Twelve that they may encounter rejection in some places. In this case they must go elsewhere, after having carried out the gesture of shaking the dust from their feet in front of the people, a sign that expresses detachment in two senses: moral detachment - as if to say: the announcement was given to you, you are the ones who refuse it - and material detachment - we did not and do not want anything for ourselves (cf. Mk 6.11). The other very important indication of the Gospel is that the Twelve can not be content to preach conversion: their preaching must be accompanied, according to the instructions and example given by Jesus, by the healing of the sick. Care of the sick bodily and spiritually. He speaks of the concrete curing of diseases, but he also speaks of casting out demons that is, purifying the human mind, cleaning, cleaning the eyes of the soul that are obscured by ideology and therefore can not see God, can not see the truth and justice. This dual physical and spiritual healing is always the mandate of the disciples of Christ. The Apostolic mission must always include both aspects of preaching the word of God and the manifestation of His goodness with acts of charity, service and dedication.

Dear brothers and sisters, I give thanks to God who sent me here today to re-announce to you this Word of salvation! A Word that is at the foundation of the life and action of the Church, this Church in Frascati. Your bishop has informed me of his most heartfelt pastoral commitment, which is essentially a commitment to formation, aimed primarily at educators: forming the formators. This is exactly what Jesus did with his disciples: He taught them, prepared them, formed them also through missionary "training", so they were capable of taking on Apostolic responsibility in the Church. It is a beautiful and exciting thing to see that after two thousand years, we are still carrying on Christ’s commitment to formation! In the Christian community, this is always the first service offered by those in roles of responsibility: starting with parents, who in the family accomplish the mission of educating children, we think of parish priests, who are responsible for formation in the community, of all priests, in different fields of work: priority is always given to the educational dimension, and the lay faithful who, in addition to their role as parents, are involved in the formation of young people or adults, as leaders in Apostolic Action and other church movements, or engaged in civil and social spheres, always with a strong focus on forming people. 

The Lord calls us all, distributing different gifts for different tasks in the Church. He calls us to the priesthood and consecrated life, and He calls us to marriage and commitment as lay people within the Church and in society. What is important is that the wealth of these gifts is fully welcomed, especially by young people: that they may feel the joy of responding to God with their whole heart, gifting it on the path of priesthood and consecrated life or on the path of marriage, two complementary paths that illuminate each other, enrich each other and together enrich the community. Virginity for the Kingdom of God and marriage are both vocations, calls by God to be answered with and for our entire life. God calls: we need to listen, welcome, respond. Like Mary: Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it to me according to your word (Lk 1.38).

Even here, in the diocesan community of Frascati, the Lord bountifully sows his gifts, he calls you to follow Him and to extend His mission today. Even here there is need for a new evangelization, which is why I propose you intensely live the Year of Faith, which will begin in October, 50 years from the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The Council documents contain an enormous wealth for the formation of new generations of Christians, for the formation of our consciousness. So read them, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and rediscover the beauty of being Christians, of being Church to enjoy the great "we" that Jesus has formed around him, to evangelize the world: the "we" of the Church, never closed, but always open and projected towards the proclamation of the Gospel.

Dear brothers and sisters of Frascati! Be united among yourselves, and at the same time open, be missionaries. Stand firm in faith, rooted in Christ through the Word and the Eucharist; be people of prayer, to always remain bound to Christ, as branches to the vine, and at the same time go out, bring His message to everyone, especially the small, to the poor, the suffering. In every community, love each other, do not be divided but live as brothers and sisters, so that the world may believe that Jesus is alive in his Church and the Kingdom of God is near. The Patrons of the Diocese of Frascati are two Apostles, Philip and James, two of the Twelve. To their intercession we commend your community’s journey, that it may be renewed in faith and give clear witness in works of charity. Amen.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Memorial of Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha, virgin

Kateri or Catherine was born near Auriesville, NY, the site of the martyrdom of several Jesuits just ten years earlier. A small pox epidemic killed her parents and left her disfigured and almost blind. As she grew up, Kateri remembered the basics of the faith that her Christian mother had taught her and in 1675 she asked a Jesuit missionary to baptize her. As we pray for volunteers in mission territories, let us ask Bl. Kateri to pray with us that they may become holy, authentic witnesses to the love of Christ. Our reflection is from part of a speech that Pope John Paul II gave to a group of Native people who traveled to Rome in 1980 for the beatification ceremony.

All of us are inspired by the example of this young woman of faith who died three centuries ago this year. We are all edified by her complete trust in the providence of God, and we are encouraged by her joyful fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a true sense, the whole Church, together with you, declares in the words of Saint Paul: "Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine; glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever". (Eph. 3:20-21 ) The Church has declared to the world that Kateri Tekakwitha is blessed, that she lived a life on earth of exemplary holiness and that she is now a member in heaven of the Communion of Saints who continually intercede with the merciful Father on our behalf.

Her beatification should remind us that we are all called to a life of holiness, for in Baptism, God has chosen each one of us "to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence". (Eph. 1:4) Holiness of life-union with Christ through prayer and works of charity - is not something reserved to a select few among the members of the Church. It is the vocation of everyone.

My brothers and sisters, may you be inspired and encouraged by the life of Blessed Kateri. Look to her for an example of fidelity; see in her a model of purity and love; turn to her in prayer for assistance. May God bless you as He blessed her. May God bless all the North American Indians of Canada and the United States.

Friday, July 13, 2012


Today’s saint was born in Bavaria, Germany (the birthplace as well of Pope Benedict) and was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor by the pope in 1014. He worked hard for the renewal of the Church and for peace within his kingdom. For centuries he was considered a model for Christian leaders. Let us ask him to pray with us that the leaders of nations may work together to ensure that everyone in the world will have work in secure and safe conditions. Our reflection is from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church #287-8.

Work is a fundamental right and a good for mankind, a useful good, worthy of man because it is an appropriate way for him to give expression to and enhance his human dignity. The Church teaches the value of work not only because it is always something that belongs to the person but also because of its nature as something necessary. Work is needed to form and maintain a family, to have a right to property, to contribute to the common good of the human family. In considering the moral implications that the question of work has for social life, the Church cannot fail to indicate unemployment as a “real social disaster” (Pope John Paul II, Laborem Exercens #18), above all with regard to the younger generations.

Work is a good belonging to all people and must be made available to all who are capable of engaging in it. “Full employment” therefore remains a mandatory objective for every economic system oriented towards justice and the common good. A society in which the right to work is thwarted or systematically denied, and in which economic policies do not allow workers to reach satisfactory levels of employment, “cannot be justified from an ethical point of view, nor can that society attain social peace” (Pope John Paul II, Centesimus Annus #43).