Thursday, August 30, 2012

What Did Jesus Do For Me?

He left Eternity and lived in Time that I might leave Time and live in Eternity.

He left the Eternal Father in all His Glory to come down as man and acknowledge the Father's supremacy over all mankind.

He came as a humble servant to make reparation for those who say," I will not serve." He was lowly of heart and gave credit to the Father for everything He did and offered His self-effacement as an atonement for my pride and independence.

He was Master of all but never imposed on anyone or forced them to follow Him.

His humility was so great, He understood the hatred of His enemies

and asked His Father to forgive them.

He ruled all creation and yet subjected Himself to Joseph and Mary as an obedient son.

He was content to be considered an uneducated carpenter, yet He created the whole world.

He was subject to two people whom He created because He saw His Father's Will in their commands.

He was the Splendor of the Father, but hid all that would distinguish Him from the rest of the children of men.

He was uncreated Wisdom but did not disdain learning ordinary things from others.

He was content to advance in wisdom and age before men, that I might patiently advance in holiness before God.

He accepted hatred, jealousy and persecution with composure, seeing only the Father's Will in the plan of Redemption.

He was not ashamed to eat with sinners even though doing so belittled Him in the eyes of others.

He watched those He came to redeem abandon Him in His hour of need, without becoming bitter or resentful. He extended to Peter a forgiving glance even before the Apostle was conscious of his sin.

He did not give up His Spirit until He had endured every possible torment—to prove His love for me.

He rose from the grave and appeared first to Magdalene, a repentant sinner, to Peter who denied Him and to the Disciples going to Emmaus, whose faith was weak—to show that He understood their frailties and would not crush the bruised reed.

His Love for me is so deep that He could not bear leaving me alone, so He humbled Himself completely and gave me His Precious Body and Blood in the Holy Eucharist as food for my soul.

St. Jeanne Jugan

Today is the feast of the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor. As we reflect on part of Blessed John Paul II’s homily when he beatified her in 1982, let us pray that young people find true happiness in following Christ rather than the ways of the world.

Jeanne invites all of us, and I quote here from the Rule of the Little Sisters, “to share in the beatitude of spiritual poverty, leading to that complete dispossession which commits a soul to God.” She invites us to this much more by her life than by those few words of hers which have been recorded and which are so marked by the seal of the Holy Spirit, such as these: “It is so beautiful to be poor, to have nothing, to await all from God.” Joyfully aware of her poverty, she depended completely on Divine Providence, which she saw operative in her own life and in that of others. Still, this absolute confidence did not make her inactive. With the courage and faith that characterizes the women of her native land, she did not hesitate to beg on behalf of the poor whom she cared for. She saw herself as their sister, their “Little Sister.” She wanted to identify herself with all those elderly who were, often, more or less infirm and sometimes even abandoned. Is not this the Gospel in its pure form (cf. Mt. 25:35–41)? Is not this the way which the Third Order of Saint John Eudes had taught her: “to have one life, one heart, one soul, one will, with Jesus,” to reach out to those whom Jesus had always preferred: the little ones and the poor? …

Saint John Eudes, her spiritual master, used to say, “The real measure of sanctity is humility.” By the fact of so often repeating to the novices, “Be little, stay little! Keep the spirit of humility, of littleness! If we begin to consider ourselves as something, the Congregation would no longer cause God to be honored and we would fall,” Jeanne was really disclosing her own spiritual experience. … In our day, pride, the pursuit of efficacy, the temptation to use power, all run rampant, and sometimes, unfortunately, even in the Church. They become an obstacle to the coming of the Kingdom of God. This is why the spirituality of Jeanne Jugan can attract the followers of Christ and fill their hearts with simplicity and humility, with hope and evangelical joy having their source in God and in forgetfulness of self. Her spiritual message can lead all those baptized and confirmed to a rediscovery and a practice of that realistic charity which is stunningly effective in the life of a Little Sister or of a lay person when the God of Love and mercy reigns there completely.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

He chose me to be

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you." (Jer. 1:5) Our minds cannot comprehend how special each soul is to God. We do not understand the dignity that is ours when His Goodness chose each one of us to live, to think, to know, to see, to love.

We did not happen to be—we were chosen by God to exist. Before time began God chose each one of us and this choice was deliberate. God saw all the possible human beings He might have created throughout the history of the world. Out of possible billions of human beings that might have existed in God's mind—His Eye rested on each one of us and then stopped looking and said, "You shall be." He saw all who could have been and decided they would not be. His providence placed us in a time and state of life that would bring out our greatest potential.

He gave each of us special talents, gifts and natural virtues all geared towards a deeper knowledge of Himself. Even those whose circumstances prevent them from knowing Him directly, possess a deep conviction of His existence and providence.

He placed into each of us an inner radar system that warns of danger and assures us intuitively of His care, so we will never be far from Him and will not be deprived of the knowledge of His existence.

The Hand that formed each of us left Its imprint upon our minds and souls for He made us to His own image. The soul He breathed into this work of His Hands—our body—was imprinted with some of His love—His creative power—His strength.

We reflect His eternity, for once His Will called us out of nothingness, we became immortal—our soul will never die.

The Passion of St John the Baptist

I. O glorious Saint John the Baptist, greatest prophet among those born of woman (Luke 7, 28), although thou wast sanctified in thy mother’s womb and didst lead a most innocent life, nevertheless it was thy will to retire into the wilderness, there to devote thyself to the practice of austerity and penance; obtain for us of thy Lord the grace to be wholly detached, at least in our hearts, from earthly goods, and to practice Christian mortification with interior recollection and with the spirit of holy prayer.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc.

II. O most zealous Apostle, who, without working any miracle on others, but solely by the example of thy life of penance and the power of thy word, didst draw after thee the multitudes, in order to dispose them to receive the Messias worthily and to listen to His heavenly doctrine; grant that it may be given unto us, by means of the example of a holy life and the exercise of every good work, to bring many souls to God, but above all those souls that are enveloped in the darkness of error and ignorance and are led astray by vice.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc.

III. O Martyr invincible, who, for the honor of God and the salvation of souls, didst with firmness and constancy withstand the impiety of Herod even at the cost of thine own life, and didst rebuke him openly for his wicked and dissolute life; by thy prayers obtain for us a heart, brave and generous, in order that we may overcome all human respect and openly profess our faith in loyal obedience to the teachings of Jesus Christ, our Divine Master.

Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc.

V. Pray for us, Saint John the Baptist,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Let us pray.
O God, Who hast made this day to be honorable in our eyes by the Nativity (or commemoration) of blessed John, grant unto Thy people the grace of spiritual joy, and direct the minds of all Thy faithful into the way of everlasting salvation. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Jesus Needs My Weakness

"Anyone who does not carry his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple." (Luke 14:27) Strong language for a Savior, a Redeemer, One who was to deliver us from evil!

The Cross was a scandal then and it is today. We must, however, understand that it is not so much a scandal as a mystery—a mystery that we shall never fathom in this life. We do not understand unselfish love—love that wants nothing more than to be like the Beloved—love that seeks for union of mind, heart and will—love that says, "Do not fear. I, too, have had pain, persecution, suffering, poverty and hunger. Look, I show you how to endure. I show you how to pray, how to forgive, how to love, how to be at peace, how to unite your will to the Father's no matter how difficult."

He emptied Himself that we might be filled—filled, not for our sakes alone, but for the sake of our neighbor. He showed us how to accept indifference—during His Infancy. He showed us how to accept loneliness—during His Hidden Life. He showed us how to accept success—by His attitude to the crowds proclaiming Him King. He showed us how to accomplish God's Will in the Agony in the Garden. He showed us how to accept pain, insults and death—on the Cross.

This was a sign of His love for His Father and for us and this too is our witness to the world. "Rejoice when men persecute you," He said. Over and over He told us not to be afraid for He had conquered the world. He conquered—not by changing it, but by changing the men who lived in it.

He gave up everything for us. He wants His disciples to do the same. Privation was part of His witness—it must be part of ours. And He instructed His followers to take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no haversack, no coppers for their purses. They were to wear sandals but He added, "Do not take a spare tunic." (Mark 6:8,9)

Our witness is not to be healthy, wealthy and wise, but to accept whatever Providence sends our way with joy of heart and peace of mind—sickness or health, poverty or riches, success or failure. Our witness is to be truly free—free in mind, with no resentments to disturb us; free in heart with no attachments to hamper us; free in body, living in self-control; and free in spirit, ever seeking union with God and His Honor and Glory.

St. Augustine of Hippo


“Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.”

Augustine Aurelius was born on November 13, 354, in Tagaste, North Africa. His father was a pagan, his mother, St. Monica. Still unbaptized and burning for knowledge, he came under the influence of the Manicheans, which caused his mother intense sorrow. He left Africa for Rome, deceiving his mother, who was ever anxious to be near him. She prayed and wept. A bishop consoled her by observing that a son of so many tears would never be lost. Yet the evil spirit drove him constantly deeper into moral degeneracy, capitalizing on his leaning toward pride and stubbornness. Grace was playing a waiting game; there still was time, and the greater the depths into which the evil spirit plunged its fledgling, the stronger would be the reaction.

Augustine recognized this vacuum; he saw how the human heart is created with a great abyss; the earthly satisfactions that can be thrown into it are no more than a handful of stones that hardly cover the bottom. And in that moment grace was able to break through: Restless is the heart until it rests in God. The tears of his mother, the sanctity of Milan's Bishop Ambrose, the book of St. Anthony the hermit, and the sacred Scriptures wrought his conversion, which was sealed by baptism on Easter night 387. Augustine's mother went to Milan with joy and witnessed her son's baptism. It was what it should have been, the greatest event of his life, his conversion — metanoia. Grace had conquered. Augustine accompanied his mother to Ostia, where she died. She was eager to die, for now she had given birth to her son for the second time.

In 388 he returned to Tagaste, where he lived a common life with his friends. In 391 he was ordained priest at Hippo, in 394 made coadjutor to bishop Valerius, and then from 396 to 430 bishop of Hippo.

Augustine, numbered among the four great Doctors of the Western Church, possessed one of the most penetrating minds of ancient Christendom. He was the most important Platonist of patristic times, the Church's most influential theologian, especially with regard to clarifying the dogmas of the Trinity, grace, and the Church. He was a great speaker, a prolific writer, a saint with an inexhaustible spirituality. His Confessions, a book appreciated in every age, describes a notable portion of his life (until 400), his errors, his battles, his profound religious observations. Famous too is his work The City of God, a worthy memorial to his genius, a philosophy of history. Most edifying are his homilies, especially those on the psalms and on the Gospel of St. John.

Augustine's episcopal life was filled with mighty battles against heretics, over all of whom he triumphed. His most illustrious victory was that over Pelagius, who denied the necessity of grace; from this encounter he earned the surname "Doctor of grace." As an emblem Christian art accords him a burning heart to symbolize the ardent love of God which permeates all his writings. He is the founder of canonical life in common; therefore Augustinian monks and the Hermits of St. Augustine honor him as their spiritual father.

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

Patron: Brewers; diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut; Cagayan de Oro, Philippines; diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan; printers; city of Saint Augustine, Florida; diocese of Saint Augustine, Florida; sore eyes; diocese of Superior, Wisconsin; theologians; diocese of Tucson, Arizona.

Symbols: flaming heart pierced by two arrows; eagle; child with shell and spoon; wordVeritas with rays of light from Heaven; chalice; dove; pen and book; scroll; scourge; model of a church; Bible opened to Romans XIII; child; shell.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Memorial of St. Monica

St. Monica is an example of those holy matrons of the ancient Church who proved very influential in their own quiet way. Through prayer and tears she gave the great Augustine to the Church of God, and thereby earned for herself a place of honor in the history of God's kingdom on earth.

The Confessions of St. Augustine provide certain biographical details. Born of Christian parents about the year 331 at Tagaste in Africa, Monica was reared under the strict supervision of an elderly nurse who had likewise reared her father. In the course of time she was given in marriage to a pagan named Patricius. Besides other faults, he possessed a very irascible nature; it was in this school of suffering that Monica learned patience. It was her custom to wait until his anger had cooled; only then did she give a kindly remonstrance. Evil-minded servants had prejudiced her mother-in-law against her, but Monica mastered the situation by kindness and sympathy.

Her marriage was blessed with three children: Navigius, Perpetua, who later became a nun, and Augustine, her problem child. According to the custom of the day, baptism was not administered to infants soon after birth. It was as an adolescent that Augustine became a catechumen, but possibly through a premonition of his future sinful life, Monica postponed his baptism even when her son desired it during a severe illness.

When Augustine was nineteen years old, his father Patricius died; by patience and prayer Monica had obtained the conversion of her husband.

The youthful Augustine caused his mother untold worry by indulging in every type of sin and dissipation. As a last resort after all her tears and entreaties had proved fruitless, she forbade him entrance to her home; but after a vision she received him back again. In her sorrow a certain bishop consoled her: "Don't worry, it is impossible that a son of so many tears should be lost."

When Augustine was planning his journey to Rome, Monica wished to accompany him. He outwitted her, however, and had already embarked when she arrived at the docks. Later she followed him to Milan, ever growing in her attachment to God. St. Ambrose held her in high esteem, and congratulated Augustine on having such a mother. At Milan she prepared the way for her son's conversion. Finally the moment came when her tears of sorrow changed to tears of joy. Augustine was baptized. And her lifework was completed. She died in her fifty-sixth year, as she was returning to Africa. The description of her death is one of the most beautiful passages in her son's famous "Confessions.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Jesus needs me

Every Christian is "a letter from Christ" to the world, "written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God," written, "not on stone tablets but in their living hearts." (2 Cor. 3:2-3)

No Christian needs to feel lonely or useless. He does not look for applause and approval. The realization of bearing within his very soul the Divine Indwelling of Father, Son and Holy Spirit makes each one a powerful tool for the salvation of the world. Each Christian is a powerhouse of grace reaching out and touching a neighbor by example and prayer. He is powerful no matter where he is or what he does, for the power he possesses is not his own, but the Power of Him who dwells within and in whom he "lives and moves and has his being."

We are part of the Body of Christ on earth and we affect that Body by everything we do and everything we are.

A broken heart fills that Body with a throbbing loneliness. A smile makes it happy. A joy makes it thrill and a pain makes it cry.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Providence Of God


God keeps the entire universe in perfect order for my benefit and pleasure and yet He seeks His rest and pleasure in my soul.

His Providence extends to the sufferings in my life, even the most painful, for He weighs every sorrow in the scale of His Mercy, fitting to my shoulders the cross I can carry best.

He helps me to choose the right thing at the right time but stands by me if I make the wrong choice.

St. Rose of Lima

St. Rose of Lima, Peru is the first canonized saint of the Western Hemisphere. As a child she wanted to become a nun but her parents opposed her and she ended up making a vow not to marry and living a single life as a lay Dominican. She turned a small hut behind her family’s house into a prayer space and dedicated her life to works of charity and of penance. St. Rose shows us that even when our desires and dreams do not turn out as we want, God will help us attain our goal of holiness in other ways. Let us pray that young people may follow the example of St. Rose and seek to follow Christ before all else. Our reflection is from Pope Benedict’s Message for this year’s World Youth Day which was celebrated in local dioceses.

If we are to experience the joy of love, we must also be generous. We cannot be content to give the minimum. We need to be fully committed in life and to pay particular attention to those in need. The world needs men and women who are competent and generous, willing to be at the service of the common good. Make every effort to study conscientiously, to develop your talents and to put them at the service of others even now. Find ways to help make society more just and humane wherever you happen to be. May your entire life be guided by a spirit of service and not by the pursuit of power, material success and money.

Speaking of generosity, I would like to mention one particular joy. It is the joy we feel when we respond to the vocation to give our whole life to the Lord. Dear young people, do not be afraid if Christ is calling you to the religious, monastic or missionary life or to the priesthood. Be assured that he fills with joy all those who respond to his invitation to leave everything to be with him and to devote themselves with undivided heart to the service of others. In the same way, God gives great joy to men and women who give themselves totally to one another in marriage in order to build a family and to be signs of Christ’s love for the Church.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Hope

My God, 

You are my anchor on a stormy sea, my serenity on a windy night, my hope when all else fails. 

Your Presence surrounds me like a protective shield and when the arrows of my selfishness pierce through, 

Your loving arms extend themselves to reach out and grasp my wandering soul.

Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Eight days after celebrating the mystery of Mary’s Assumption into heaven, we celebrate her coronation as Queen of heaven and earth. As Mary was raised body and soul into heaven, so she shares in the glory of Jesus Christ the King. Let us honor Mary and present to her the intentions of the Holy Father as we reflect on part of Pope Pius XII’s 1954 “Ad Coeli Reginam”.

Certainly, in the full and strict meaning of the term, only Jesus Christ, the God-Man, is King; but Mary, too, as Mother of the divine Christ, as His associate in the redemption, in his struggle with His enemies and His final victory over them, has a share, though in a limited and analogous way, in His royal dignity. For from her union with Christ she attains a radiant eminence transcending that of any other creature; from her union with Christ she receives the royal right to dispose of the treasures of the Divine Redeemer's Kingdom; from her union with Christ finally is derived the inexhaustible efficacy of her maternal intercession before the Son and His Father. …

Let all, therefore, try to approach with greater trust the throne of grace and mercy of our Queen and Mother, and beg for strength in adversity, light in darkness, consolation in sorrow; above all let them strive to free themselves from the slavery of sin and offer an unceasing homage, filled with filial loyalty, to their Queenly Mother. Let her churches be thronged by the faithful, her feast-days honored; may the beads of the Rosary be in the hands of all; may Christians gather, in small numbers and large, to sing her praises in churches, in homes, in hospitals, in prisons. May Mary's name be held in highest reverence, a name sweeter than honey and more precious than jewels; may none utter blasphemous words, the sign of a defiled soul, against that name graced with such dignity and revered for its motherly goodness; let no one be so bold as to speak a syllable which lacks the respect due to her name.

Pope: weekly General Audience

Pope Benedict XVI held his weekly General Audience on Wednesday. Marian devotion was the theme of his remarks, on the Feast of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin.

“Dear friends,” said Pope Benedict in Italian-language remarks to pilgrims and tourists gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, “Devotion to Our Lady is an important part of spiritual life,” adding an appeal to the faithful, that they not not fail to turn confidently to Mary in prayer, saying, “She will not fail to intercede for us with her Son.”

The Pope went on to recommend that all the faithful imitate Mary’s faith and her openness to the fullness of God’s loving design. “Mary,” said Pope Benedict, “is the Queen of Heaven - close to God – and also close to each of us, a mother who loves us and listens to our voice.”

It was a theme to which the Holy Father returned during his English-language remarks:

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially the groups from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Japan and the United States of America. I also greet the young altar servers from Malta and their families. Today the Church celebrates the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary. May the prayers of Our Lady guide us along our pilgrimage of faith, that we may share in her Son’s victory and reign with him in his eternal Kingdom. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord’s abundant blessings!

The Holy Father also had especial greetings for the visiting Chaldean Sisters of Mary Immaculate, whose work on behalf of people in their native Iraq he praised. The Pope is in Castel Gandolfo for the Summer months, and is keeping a reduced schedule of appointments – though he is scheduled to travel to Lebanon from September 14th to September 16th.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Our Lady of Knock

On August 21, 1879, Margaret Beirne, a resident of Cnoc Mhuire, was sent by her brother to lock up the church for the evening. When she was ready to leave, she noticed a strange brightness hovering over the church. Margaret had other things on her mind, and didn't tell anyone what she saw. Around the same time, another member of the Beirne family, Mary, was leaving from a visit to the church's housekeeper, and stopped with the housekeeper at the gables, where they could see the church. Mary replied:
"Oh look at the statues! Why didn't you tell me the priest got new statues for the chapel?"
The housekeeper responded that she knew nothing of the priest getting new statues. So, they both went for a closer look, and Mary Beirne said:
"But they are not statues, they're moving. It's the Blessed Virgin!"
Thirteen others also came and saw the beautiful woman, clothed in white garments, wearing a brilliant crown. Her hands were raised as if in prayer. All knew that it was Mary, the Mother of Jesus, Queen of Angels. On the right of Our Lady stood St. Joseph, his head inclined toward her. On her left stood St. John the Evangelist, dressed as a bishop. To the left of St. John stood an altar which had a lamb and a cross surrounded by angels on it. The vision lasted about two hours. People who were not at the apparition site reported that they saw a bright light illuminating the area where the church was. Many of the sick were healed upon visiting the church at Knock.

St. Pius X

The future Pope-Saint of the twentieth century was born at Riese in Venetia on June 2, 1835, his name, Joseph Sarto. After ordination at the age of twenty-three (by special dispensation), he labored for 17 years as a parish priest, then as bishop of Mantua, and in 1892 was advanced to the metropolitan see of Venice with the honorary title of patriarch. On August 4, 1903, he was elected Pope, "a man of God who knew the unhappiness of the world and the hardships of life, and in the greatness of his heart wanted to comfort everybody."

The primary aim of his pontificate Pius X announced in his first encyclical letter, viz., "to renew all things in Christ." Here we need but allude to his decree on early and frequent reception of holy Communion; his Motu Proprio on church music; his encouragement of daily Bible reading and the establishment of various Biblical institutes; his reorganization of the Roman ecclesiastical offices; his work on the codification of Canon Law; his incisive stand against Modernism, that "synthesis of all heresies." All these were means toward the realization of his main objective of renewing all things in Christ.

The outbreak of the first World War, practically on the date of the eleventh anniversary of his election to the See of Peter, was the blow that occasioned his death. Bronchitis developed within a few days, and on August 20, 1914, Pius X succumbed to "the last affliction that the Lord will visit on me." He had said in his will, "I was born poor, I have lived poor, I wish to die poor" — and no one questioned the truth of his words. His sanctity and his power to work miracles had already been recognized. Pius X was the first Pope canonized since St. Pius V in 1672.

"He was one of those chosen few men whose personality is irresistible. Everyone was moved by his simplicity and his angelic kindness. Yet it was something more that carried him into all hearts: and that 'something' is best defined by saying that all who were ever admitted to his presence had a deep conviction of being face to face with a saint" (Baron von Pastor).

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

Patron: Archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia; diocese of Des Moines, Iowa: first communicants; diocese of Great Falls-Billings, Montana; pilgrims; diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Quotes

"Holy Communion is the shortest and safest way to Heaven."

"I was born poor, I have lived poor, I wish to die poor."

"My hope is in Christ, who strengthens the weakest by His Divine help. I can do all in Him who strengthens me. His Power is infinite, and if I lean on him, it will be mine. His Wisdom is infinite, and if I look to Him counsel, I shall not be deceived. His Goodness is infinite, and if my trust is stayed in Him, I shall not be abandoned.”

Let the storm rage and the sky darken - not for that shall we be dismayed. If we trust as we should in Mary, we shall recognize in her, the Virgin Most Powerful "who with virginal foot did crush the head of the serpent."

"Truly we are passing through disastrous times, when we may well make our own the lamentation of the Prophet: "There is no truth, and there is no mercy, and there is no knowledge of God in the land" (Hosea 4:1). Yet in the midst of this tide of evil, the Virgin Most Merciful rises before our eyes like a rainbow, as the arbiter of peace between God and man. "

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Blogging Break

I'll be taking a blogging break due to a death in the family. I need sometime off to process it all. Please pray for all involved.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Our feast today reminds us that Mary, like Jesus, has not abandoned us when she came to the end of her earthly life. She is now, body and soul, in heaven where she intercedes with us and for us. Let us ask her to join us in praying today for the Holy Father’s monthly intentions as we reflect on part of Pope Benedict’s Angelus Message on this feast last year.

In the passage of today’s liturgy from St Luke’s Gospel, we read that “in those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah” (Lk 1:39). In those days Mary hastened from Galilee to a little town in the neighborhood of Jerusalem to go and see her kinswoman Elizabeth. Today we contemplate her going up towards God’s mountain and entering the heavenly Jerusalem, “clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (Rev 12:1).

The biblical passage of the Book of Revelation, which we read in the liturgy of this Solemnity, speaks of a struggle between the woman and the dragon, between good and evil. St John seems to be presenting to us anew the very first pages of the Book of Genesis that recount the dark and tragic event of the sin of Adam and Eve. Our first parents were defeated by the Evil One; in the fullness of time, Jesus, the new Adam, and Mary, the new Eve, were to triumph over the enemy once and for all, and this is the joy of this day! With Jesus' victory over evil, inner and physical death are also defeated. Mary was the first to take in her arms Jesus, the Son of God, become a child; she is now the first to be beside him in the glory of Heaven.

Today we are celebrating a great mystery. It is above all a mystery of hope and joy for all of us: in Mary we see the destination for which are bound all who can interpret their life according to the life of Jesus, who are able to follow him as Mary did. This Feast, then, speaks of our future. It tells us that we too shall be beside Jesus in God’s joy and invites us to take heart, to believe that the power of Christ’s Resurrection can also work in us, making us men and women who seek every day to live as risen ones, bringing the light of goodness into the darkness of the evil in the world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

St. Maximillian Kolbe

St. Maximilian, born Raymond Kolbe in Poland, Jan. 8, 1894. In 1910, he entered the Conventual Franciscan Order. He was sent to study in Rome where he was ordained a priest in 1918.

Father Maximilian returned to Poland in 1919 and began spreading his Militia of the Immaculata movement of Marian consecration (whose members are also called MIs), which he founded on October 16, 1917. In 1927, he established an evangelization center near Warsaw called Niepokalanow, the "City of the Immaculata." By 1939, the City had expanded from eighteen friars to an incredible 650, making it the largest Catholic religious house in the world.

To better "win the world for the Immaculata," the friars utilized the most modern printing and administrative techniques. This enabled them to publish countless catechetical and devotional tracts, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 230,000 and a monthly magazine with a circulation of over one million. Maximilian started a shortwave radio station and planned to build a motion picture studio--he was a true "apostle of the mass media." He established a City of the Immaculata in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1930, and envisioned missionary centers worldwide.

Maximilian was a ground-breaking theologian. His insights into the Immaculate Conception anticipated the Marian theology of the Second Vatican Council and further developed the Church's understanding of Mary as "Mediatrix" of all the graces of the Trinity, and as "Advocate" for God's people.

In 1941, the Nazis imprisoned Father Maximilian in the Auschwitz death camp. There he offered his life for another prisoner and was condemned to slow death in a starvation bunker. On August 14, 1941, his impatient captors ended his life with a fatal injection. Pope John Paul II canonized Maximilian as a "martyr of charity" in 1982. St. Maximilian Kolbe is considered a patron of journalists, families, prisoners, the pro-life movement and the chemically addicted.

Militia of the Immaculata

Patron: Drug addiction; drug addicts; families; imprisoned people; journalists; political prisoners; prisoners; pro-life movement.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The youngest ever Olympic javelin champion

Trinidad's Keshorn Walcott completed a remarkable double by taking a surprise Olympic javelin gold less than a month after becoming world junior champion.

Teen sensation: Gold medalist Keshorn Walcott
Teen sensation: Gold medalist Keshorn Walcott
At Saturday night's extraordinary competition in the Olympic Stadium saw Keshorn Walcott win gold with a throw of 84.58 metres.

In winning the title Keshorn became only the second non-European to take the crown in 100 years of the Olympic Games, the last being an American back at the 1952 Helsinki Games.

He took the lead in the first round with a healthy opener of 83.51 metres and increased it in the second round with 84.58 metres which proved to be enough to win on the night, despite the Ukraine's Oleksandr Pyatnytsya third effort of 84.51 metres with Finn Antti Ruuskanen back in third after a throw of 84.12m.
Keshorn Walcott of Trinidad and Tobago
There had looked to be plenty of potential winners in the field, including defending Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen from Norway and the Czech Republic's Vitezslav Vesely, who threw 88.34 metres in the qualifying rounds and is coached by three-time Olympic champion Jan Zelezny.

However, Thorkildsen could only manage sixth as Keshorn, just 19, and winner of the world junior title earlier this summer, proved too strong on the night and as a result may just have provided another sporting option for the children of Trinidad.

'I just went out there to relax and enjoy it and it worked for me,' said Walcott, after his second-round effort was good enough for gold.

'It means everything to me. I just train my hardest and try to enjoy every time I come out.'

Keshorn was exultant, T&T's second Olympic gold medallist racing over to his coach, Cuban Ismael Lopez for a tight hug. The celebration had begun.

"I want to thank my mom for believing in me throughout; my coach who has been guiding me, doing a great job. And thanks to the entire country for believing in me and supporting me."

Keshorn’s mother Beverly was overjoyed at her son’s historic performance yesterday, saying jokingly that she was lucky she did not have a heart attack after watching him capture this country’s second gold medal ever at the Olympics. She said, however, she had expected him to get into the final eight. “I always expected him to get into the top eight and anything extra is a plus.” 

“He proved himself, as some did not believe in him. As I looked at him after the win, he remained humble,” she said.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Virgin Mary 'crosses the finish line' with Olympic gold runner

Ethiopian athlete Meseret Defar provided one of the most emotional moments of the London 2012 Summer Olympic Games when she crossed the finish line in the 5000 meter race to win the gold.

She then pulled a picture of the Virgin Mary out from under her jersey, showed it to the cameras and held it up to her face in deep prayer.

An Orthodox Christian, Defar entrusted her race to God with the sign of the cross and reached the finish line in 15:04:24, beating her fellow Ethiopian rival Tirunesh Dibaba, who was the favorite to win.

A teary-eyed Defar proudly showed the picture of the Virgin Mary with the Baby Jesus that she carried with her for the entire race.

Throughout the event, Defar kept pace with three other Ethiopian runners and three from Kenya, until speeding past them on the homestretch to win gold.

The silver medal went to Vivian Cheruiyot of Kenya and the bronze to Dibaba.

Defar is also a two-time world champion in the 3000 meters. In Athens in 2004 she won the gold in the 5000 meters and in Beijing in 2008 she won the bronze.

On June 3, 2006 she broke the world record for the 5000 meters set previously by Turkish runner Elvan Abeylegesse, with a time of 14:24:53.

Feast of St. Lawrence, deacon and martyr

This young deacon and heroic martyr is numbered among those saints who were most highly venerated by the ancient Roman Church. Next to the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, that of St. Lawrence ranked highest in the Roman sanctoral cycle. "From the rising of the sun unto its setting," says St. Leo, "whenever the glory of Levites beams forth in splendor, Rome is deemed no less illustrious because of Lawrence than Jerusalem because of Stephen."

Even though we have no genuine account of St. Lawrence's martyrdom, we do possess considerable evidence from most ancient times regarding the particulars of his passion. LegendaryActs tell how Lawrence was a disciple of Pope Sixtus II (257-258), who dearly loved him because of his special talents, but principally because of his innocence; in spite of his youth, the Pope numbered him among the seven deacons of Rome and raised him to the position of archdeacon. As such, Lawrence had the immediate care of the altar and was at the side of the saintly Pope whenever he offered the holy Sacrifice; to him also was confided the administration of the goods of the Church and the responsibility of caring for the poor.

During the persecution of Emperor Valerian (253-260), Sixtus II and his four deacons were martyred. Very ardently Lawrence desired to die with his spiritual father and therefore said to him: "Father, where are you going without your son? Where are you hastening, O priest, without your deacon? Never before did you offer the holy Sacrifice without assistants. In what way have I displeased you? In what way have you found me unfaithful in my office? Oh, try me again and prove to yourself whether you have chosen an unworthy minister for the service of the Church. So far you have been trusting me with distributing the Blood of the Lord."

This loving complaint of joyous self-oblation Sixtus answered with words of prophecy: "I am not forsaking you, my son; a severer trial is awaiting you for your faith in Christ. The Lord is considerate toward me because I am a weak old man. But for you a most glorious triumph is in store. Cease to weep, for already after three days you will follow me". After these comforting words he admonished him to distribute all the remaining Church goods allocated to the poor. While Lawrence was dispersing these items in the house of a certain Narcissus, a blind man named Crescentius asked for healing help by the imposition of hands. The holy deacon made the Sign of the Cross over him and the man began to see.

From his relations with Pope Sixtus, it was known that he acted as the steward over the Church's property. He was arrested therefore and placed under the watch of a certain Hippolytus. There in prison Lawrence cured the blind Lucillus and several other blind persons; impressed thereby, Hippolytus embraced the faith and died a martyr. Ordered by the authorities to surrender the treasures of the Church, Lawrence asked for two days time during which to gather them. The request was granted and he brought together in the house of Hippolytus the poor and the sick whom he had supported. These he led to the judge. "Here are the treasures of the Church!"

Lawrence was tortured, scourged, and scorched with glowing plates. In the midst of excruciating pain he prayed: "Lord Jesus Christ, God from God, have mercy on Your servant!" And he besought the grace of faith for the bystanders. At a certain point the soldier Romanus exclaimed: "I see before you an incomparably beautiful youth. Hasten and baptize me." He had observed how an angel dried the wounds of Lawrence with a linen cloth during his passion.

Again during the night he was dragged before the judge and threatened with immediate death. But he replied: "My God I honor and Him alone I serve. Therefore I do not fear your torments; this night shall become as brightest day and as light without any darkness." When placed upon the glowing gridiron, he jested with his executioners and the cruel tyrant. "Now you may turn me over, my body is roasted enough on this side." Shortly after this had been done, he cried again: "At last I am finished; you may now take from me and eat." Then turning to God in prayer: "I thank You, O Lord, that I am permitted to enter Your portals." To comfort him during his torments God said to him: "My servant, do not be afraid. I am with you." He was put to death upon the Viminal Hill and buried on the Tiburtinian Way.

Such the passion and death of this Christian hero, a story that in the Roman Breviary is told by the antiphons and responsories. Already in Constantine's time there was erected over his grave a church that belonged to the seven major basilicas of Rome, St. Lawrence Outside the Walls.

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

Patron: Archives; archivists; armories; armourers; brewers; butchers; Ceylon; comedians; comediennes; comics; confectioners; cooks; cutlers; deacons; fire; glaziers; laundry workers; librarians; libraries; lumbago; paupers; poor people; restauranteurs; Rome; schoolchildren; seminarians; Sri Lanka; stained glass workers; students; tanners; vine growers; vintners; wine makers.

Symbols: Dalmatic; thurible; gridiron, dish or money; palm and crucifix; censer; processional cross; cross and book of Gospels; money purse.
Often Portrayed As: Deacon holding a gridiron; deacon holding a book; deacon holding a bag of money.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Father Mitch Pacwa: Lack of any Spiritual Depth to the Messages May be the Unraveling of Medjugorje

[Father Mitch] Pacwa said there is no chance for the visions to get approval while they're still going on, and it's a long shot even after they stop.

One quirk that emerged was when two of the Medjugorje visionaries said the Virgin Mary endorsed a book, "The Poem of the Man-God," that had been condemned by the Vatican. The fanciful 1940s biography of Jesus by Maria Valtorta contains details like a dancing girl brushing up against Jesus, Joseph giving young Jesus an anachronistic tool kit with screwdrivers and the Virgin Mary making statements such as "man disgusts me," Pacwa said.

"The book had been condemned by the church in 1959 because it said a lot of silly things that contradicted what was in the gospels," Pacwa said. "The church rejected it. Any vision must be judged by revelation that exists in the gospels. You can't say anything you want."

What may be the unraveling of the Medjugorje visions is the lack of any spiritual depth to the messages, Pacwa said.

"That is a much more pointed critique," he said.

The writings of Sister Faustina, now a saint, describe visions from Jesus. "As you kept reading, a new depth of spiritual life began to show itself," Pacwa said. "You can see definite growth over the years in her spiritual messages. I don't see that with the messages of Medjugorje. They tend to be the same thing over and over again. Something I would look for is a growth in spiritual depth. I haven't sensed it."

Pacwa said Vatican theologians will take all that into account and that Medjugorje in the end may be denied church approval.

"I don't have a sense this is going to go swimmingly. I am very impressed with a number of the positive things I have experienced there. I have a lot of respect for the good things that have occurred. But I'm not going to be naive about some of the problems. It has to be dealt with, with full integrity."

LinkRelated:

Our Lady of Medjugorje?: Very Serious Counter-Signs - by Father Jay Scott Newman
Predicting the decision on Medjugorje with common sense - by Father George David Byers
Colin Donovan, EWTN's Vice President for Theology on Medjugorje
What is Happening at Medjugorje?
The Truth About Medjugorje - Msgr. Pavao Zanic, Bishop of Mostar

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Pope speaks about prayer of Saint Dominic


(Vatican Radio) Prayer, says Pope Benedict is our personal contact with God. Only this real, constant relationship gives us the strength to live every event, especially the most suffered moments of our lives. He urged people not to ‘takes holidays’ from their daily conversation with God, even if in an increasingly frenetic world it is difficult to find the time, the space and the right concentration for prayer. Emer McCarthy reports: 

Instead, the Pope suggested Wednesday, we should learn from St Dominic Guzman, whose spiritual life inspired The Nine Ways of Prayer – basically a step by step guide to prayer, from our physical attitude before the Lord to our ability to orientate our whole person towards God. 

Inspired by the liturgical feast of the founder of the Order of Preachers, August 8th, Pope Benedict returned for a second time during his general audience to this 13th Century Saint. He spoke to the pilgrims gathered in Castel Gandolfo’s “Freedom Square” of how St. Dominic’s apostolic zeal was energized by his intense life of prayer. 

“St. Dominic reminds us of the importance of external attitudes in our prayers. That to kneel, to stand before the Lord, to fix our gaze on the Crucifix, to pause and gather ourselves in silence, is not a secondary act, but helps to us to place ourselves, our whole person, in relation to God. Once again, I would like draw attention to the need to find moments to pray quietly everyday for our spiritual life, we particularly have to take this time for ourselves during our vacation, to have time for this attempt to talk with God. This is also a way to help those who are near to us to enter into the luminous rays of the presence of God, who brings the peace and love that we all need”.

Below a Vatican Radio translation of the Holy Father’s general audience catechesis

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today the Church celebrates the memory of St. Dominic de Guzman, priest and founder of the Order of Preachers, the Dominicans. In a previous catechesis, I already illustrated this noble figure and the vital contribution he made to the renewal of the Church of his time. Today, I would like to bring to light an essential aspect of spirituality: his life of prayer. St. Dominic was a man of prayer. In love with God, his only aspiration was the salvation of souls, especially those who, at the time, had fallen into heresy; in imitation of Christ, he radically embodied the three evangelical counsels uniting the proclamation of the Word with witness to a life of poverty, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, he progressed along the path of Christian perfection. In every moment, prayer was the force that renewed and rendered fruitful his apostolic works.

Blessed Jordan of Saxony (who died in 1237), his successor as head of the Order, thus writes: "During the day, no-one was more sociable than he…conversely at night, no one more diligent in keeping vigil in prayer. He devoted his days to others, but the night he gave to God "(P. Filippini, Domenico visto dai suoi contemporanei, Bologna 1982, p 133). In St. Dominic we can see an example of the harmonious integration of contemplation of the divine mysteries and apostolic activity. According to the testimonies of those closest to him, "he always spoke with God or of God." This observation indicates his deep communion with the Lord and at the same time, a continued commitment to lead others to this communion with God. He did not leave writings on prayer, but the Dominican tradition collected and handed down his living experience in a work entitled: The Nine Ways of Prayer of St. Dominic. This was composed between 1260 and 1288 by a Dominican friar, it helps us to understand something of the Saint’s inner life, it also helps us in all our differences to learn something about how to pray.

There are therefore, nine ways of praying according to the Saint, and each of these was always carried out in front of Jesus Crucified, and express a corporal and spiritual attitude, that intimately interpenetrating, favor recollection and fervor. The first seven ways follow an ascending line, like the steps of a journey, towards an intimate communion with God, with the Trinity: St. Dominic prayed standing, bowing to express humility, lying prostrate on the ground to ask forgiveness for his sins, on his knees in penance to participate in the sufferings of the Lord, with his arms open staring at the crucifix to contemplate the Supreme Love, with his gaze directed towards the heavens feeling himself drawn towards the world of God. Therefore there are three forms, standing, on ones’ knees, lying prostrate on the ground, but always with our gaze toward the Crucified Lord.

However, I would like to pause briefly on the last two ways which correspond to two forms of piety that the Saint normally practiced. First, personal meditation, where prayer acquires a more intimate, fervent and soothing dimension. At the end of the recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, and after the celebration of Mass, St. Dominic prolonged his conversation with God, without any time limits. He would sit in an attitude of quite recollection and listening, reading a book or staring at the Crucifix. He lived these moments of his relationship with God so intensely that his reactions of joy or tears were outwardly perceptible. Thus he assimilated this through the reality of faith. Witnesses say that at times he would go into a sort of ecstasy, his face transfigured, but immediately afterwards he would humbly resume his daily activities recharged by the power that comes from on High. Then prayer while traveling between one monastery or another, he would recite Lauds, Sext, Vespers with companions, and, crossing the valleys and hills, contemplate the beauty of creation. At such times a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to God for so many gifts would gush from his heart, especially for the greatest wonder of all: the redemption accomplished by Christ.

Dear friends, St. Dominic reminds us that at the origin of witnessing to the faith, which every Christian should give in the family, at work, in society, and even in moments of relaxation, is prayer, a personal contact with God; only this real relationship with God gives us the strength to live every event, especially the most suffered moments, intensely. This saint reminds us of the importance of external attitudes in our prayers. That to kneel, to stand before the Lord, to fix our gaze on the Crucifix, to pause and gather ourselves in silence, is not a secondary act, but helps to us to place ourselves, our whole person, in relation to God. Once again, I would like draw attention to the need to find moments to pray quietly everyday for our spiritual life, we particularly have to take this time for ourselves during our vacation, to have time for this attempt to talk with God. This is also a way to help those who are near to us to enter into the luminous rays of the presence of God, who brings the peace and love that we all need.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hail our Olympic Athletes

LALONDE Gordon won Trinidad and Tobago’s first medal (bronze) in the London 2012 Olympics in yesterday’s Men’s 400 metres flat which was won by Grenada’s Kirani James in 43.94 seconds. Well done, Lalonde! The 23-year-old from Lowlands in Tobago ran a steady, powerful and consistent race, emerging just at the right time, and certainly deserved to place. It is certainly cause for celebration, across the nation!

Yesterday’s bronze by Gordon certainly put the sheen on the performance of TT’s athletes, who hitherto had not medalled but nonetheless had well represented Trinidad and Tobago. Who would have thought that a nation of just over one million people could yet again for another Olympics produce finalists in swimming, running and cycling? 

This tiny nation has so much to be proud of in all our athletes. Trinidad and Tobago has been represented in at least six event finals, which is in itself a huge achievement. 

Yesterday also saw cyclist Njisane Phillip place fourth in the Men’s Cycle Sprint, having previously beaten the Russian and German representatives, only to yesterday trail the British, French and Australian representatives, of whom Britain’s Jason Kenny won. Further, from arriving at London as a relative unknown, reports are that Phillip has actually built quite a fan base among the Olympic audience, all of which boosts the positive image of TT. 

The TT flag was also flown high yesterday by Jehue Gordon running in the Men’s 400 metres hurdles where he placed seventh (behind winner, the Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez). We salute the achievements of Olympic veteran, swimmer George Bovel III, who although unable to repeat his 2004 Olympic feat of earning a bronze medal, nonetheless did his nation proud in a very close keenly-fought Men’s 50 metres freestyle, where he placed seventh. 

Richard “Torpedo” Thompson really need not have apologised via the Twitter website for his seventh-place in sunday’s Men’s 100 metres final which was won by pre-race favourite and former gold medallist, the Jamaican giant, Usain Bolt. Thompson was part of an epic race, largely dominated by Caribbean men, which will long be talked of in years to come.

Likewise, while Kelly-Ann Baptiste lamented that she felt she had not done her personal best in the Women’s 100 metres finals last Saturday where she placed seventh, we are proud that she succeeded in setting a new record for the women of TT. It’s been said that never before have as many as six women clocked less than 11 seconds in a 100 metres final, which we see as an indicator that people are getting faster. Our athletes have also represented us admirably in London in shot-put, sailing, boxing and shooting. 

Our athletes have so much to be proud of, especially as they are able to hold their own in an athletic ocean of ever-rising standards and ever-shorter times. While sport is very important to many citizens of TT, we note that our athletes may lack some of the specialist training, equipment, research and dietary aids of some of the developed nations, yet they are still able to compete amongst the best of the best in the world. 

We are also pleased to note that many of TT’s current crop of athletes are young enough to quite likely have another chance at glory in future Olympic Games, starting with Rio de Janeiro, in 2016. Again, we salute the efforts of all our athletes in London, even as we laud those who make it to the finals of their event and as we welcome Gordon’s bronze medal which gives “Team Trinidad and Tobago” the stamp of formal recognition.

Mars in a Minute

Landing the Curiosity rover on Mars is the most difficult and nail-biting part of the whole mission. See just how hard it is to land on Mars in this 60-second video.

 

St. Cajetan


Cajetan, a co-founder of the Theatines, received the office of protonotary at Rome from Pope Julius II when still quite young. After he was ordained priest in 1516, he left the papal court and dedicated himself entirely to the service of the Lord. With his own hands he cared for the sick. Such zeal did he show for the salvation of his fellowmen that he was surnamed the "huntsman for souls."
In order to raise the standards of ecclesiastical discipline among the clergy, Cajetan founded in 1524 a community of Clerks Regular who were to lead an apostolic life. They were to look with disdain upon all earthly belongings, to receive no income, to accept no salaries from the faithful; only from that which was freely offered were they allowed to retain the means of livelihood. Thus they were to rely unreservedly upon Divine Providence.
St. Cajetan often prayed eight hours daily. He was particularly active during the Breviary reform under Pope Clement VII. He was kind, mild, but above all, humble. He asked God that no one should know the place of his burial. While attending the Christmas celebration at St. Mary of the Crib, he is said to have been given the grace of receiving from Mary the Child Jesus into his arms. During the sack of Rome by the soldiers of Charles V in 1527, he was tortured and cast into prison because he refused to surrender certain church monies which, in fact, he had distributed among the poor. An insurrection filled him with such grief and sorrow that he took sick and died.
Excerpted from The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch
Patron: job seekers; unemployed.

St. Sixtus II and companions


Even as the storm of persecution created by Emperor Valerian raged against the Church, the papal throne was not vacant. Sixtus, a Greek, was elected to succeed Stephen. The emperor's decrees had ordered the Christians to take part in state religious ceremonies and forbade them to assemble in cemeteries. For nearly a year Sixtus managed to evade the authorities before he was gloriously martyred.
Valerian issued his second edict ordering the execution of Christian bishops, priests, and deacons. Sixtus had taken to holding services in the private cemetery of Praetextatus because it was not watched as closely by the authorities as was the cemetery of Calixtus. But in early August of 258, while Sixtus was seated on his episcopal chair and surrounded by the brethren, the soldiers broke in arresting Sixtus and four deacons who were in attendance. After a formal judgment, Sixtus was led back to the very place where he had been arrested, to face execution. His chief deacon Lawrence, upon hearing the news, hastened to his side, desiring to die with his bishop. Sixtus consoled his deacon by telling him that he would follow in three days with even greater glory. The soldiers then placed Sixtus in his chair and swiftly beheaded him. True to the great pope's words, Lawrence was arrested three days later and executed the same day.
Excerpted from The Popes: A Papal History, J.V. Bartlett
Symbols: Cross; sword.
Often Portrayed As: Giving Saint Lawrence a bag of money to give to the poor; with Saint Lawrence; with Saint Lawrence and Saint John the Baptist.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Feast of the Transfiguration

We celebrate an event from the life of Jesus, when He took three of His disciples up Mount Tabor and shone with a divine light. Let us pray that the Light of Christ may shine on in prisons so that those who work there will treat inmates with respect for their human dignity. Our reflection is from Pope Benedict’s Angelus Address for this day in 2006.

Today, the liturgy invites us to focus our gaze on this mystery of light. On the transfigured face of Jesus a ray of light which he held within shines forth. This same light was to shine on Christ's face on the day of the Resurrection. In this sense, the Transfiguration appears as a foretaste of the Paschal Mystery.

The Transfiguration invites us to open the eyes of our hearts to the mystery of God's light, present throughout salvation history. At the beginning of creation, the Almighty had already said: "Fiat lux - let there be light!" (Genesis 1: 2), and the light was separated from the darkness. Like the other created things, light is a sign that reveals something of God: it is, as it were, a reflection of his glory which accompanies its manifestations. When God appears, "his brightness was like the light, rays flashed from his hand" (Hebrews 3: 3ff.).

In the New Testament, it is Christ who constitutes the full manifestation of God's light. His Resurrection defeated the power of the darkness of evil forever. With the Risen Christ, truth and love triumph over deceit and sin. In him, God's light henceforth illumines definitively human life and the course of history: "I am the light of the world", he says in the Gospel, "he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life" (John 8: 12). In our time too, we urgently need to emerge from the darkness of evil, to experience the joy of the children of light!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Year of Faith - Official calendar of Events

(Vatican Radio) With just over two months to go, the Vatican has published the full official calendar of events pertaining to the upcoming Year of Faith. 

Pope Benedict VI has called the Year of Faith to strengthen Catholics who go to Church, reach out to those who have left but still yearn for God in their lives, offer a response to those who are searching for meaning and help those who think they do not need God.

And as was revealed back in June when the Annus Fidei was first presented, there’s a special hymn, a logo and a prayer card as well as a full calendar of special “Year of Faith” events.

The Year itself begins on 11th October 2012 with a Mass presided by Pope Benedict XVI in St. Peter's Square. It will be concelebrated by bishops and theologians who, like the Pope himself, served as members or experts at the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council.

Many of the Pope's traditional appointments, like the 25th January celebration marking the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the 2 February Prayer with religious are incorporated into the Year of Faith.

But other events have been added such as the October 6th “Courtyard of the Gentiles” meeting in the Umbrian town of Assisi which is seen as a prologue to the Annus Fidei with an encounter and dialogue between believers and non-believers on the theme of faith.

One highlight is represented by the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme of New Evangelization from 7th to 28th October.

After the official opening of the Year of Faith, a cultural event takes place on 12th October at the Church of the Gesù focuses on Dante Alighieri and Faith during which an excerpt of Dante’s “Paradise” from the Divine Comedy will be recited. 

The wide-ranging calendar includes the canonization of six martyrs of the faith on 21st October; a World Congress for Catholic teachers from 26th to 30th October ; an International Conference for Health Care workers on the theme “the Hospital, a place of evangelization: a human and spiritual mission” from 15th to 17th November.

On 1st December Pope Benedict will celebrate the first Vespers of Advent for the Pontifical Universities, the Seminaries and the Ecclesial Colleges.

An exhibition of the Year of Faith is due to be inaugurated on 20th December at Castel Sant’Angelo. It will remain open until 1stMay 2013. 

Just after Christmas, on 28th December, the Taizé community in collaboration with the Vicariate of Rome promotes a European youth meeting to last until 2nd January 2013.

The new Year sees the afore-mentioned celebration for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity and the inauguration of a major exhibition at the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the walls dedicated to the Basilica itself and Vatican II (until 24th November 2013).

Pope Benedict is then due to preside at the celebration for the World Day for Consecrated Life on 2nd February, followed by Palm Sunday on 24th March.

Meanwhile, on 25th and 26th February an international congress dedicated to the Saints Cirillus and Methodius takes place at the Pontifical Oriental Institute and at the Gregorian University

From 4th to 6th April Catholic Associations dedicated to education hold a conference.

A concert entitled “Oh My Son” takes place in the Paul VIth Hall on 13th April.

The month of April also foresees the Day of Seminaries, a Day of Study dedicated to Vatican II documents, and a celebration on 28th April during which the Pope will confirm a group of young people and meet with others who recently have been or are about to be confirmed in their home countries.

In May Benedict is scheduled to celebrate the Day of Confraternities and Popular Piety and undertake a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter. 

On 2nd June, the feast of the Body and Blood of Christ in most countries, the pope will lead the solemn adoration of the Eucharist and is asking every cathedral and parish to have an hour of silent contemplation before the Blessed Sacrament at exactly the same hour.

Two weeks later, on 16th June, Pope Benedict will preside over a celebration of the church's witness to the dignity and value of every human life.

Amongst the cultural events planned, on 22nd June St Peter’s Square will come alive with a huge concert for the Year of Faith. 

And on 7th July Benedict will meet with seminarians and religious-order novices, who will make a pilgrimage to Rome to demonstrate "the joy of their decision to follow the Lord in serving his church."

From 23rd to 28th July the Pope will travel to Rio de Janeiro to celebrate World Youth Day.

In September, a workshop organised by the Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Universities examine the value of “the Catholic Church’s Catechism” in the teaching of theology (18th – 19th September)

The 29th September is the Day for Catechists and it will be celebrated in the presence of Benedict XVI.

On 13th October the Pope will celebrate a Marian Day together with a host of Marian Associations.

Pope Benedict is scheduled to conclude the Year of Faith on 24th November 2013

Meanwhile, the Vatican has launched a website - www.annusfidei.va – with information about the Year of Faith and its full calendar of special events.