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Two Popes Become Saints

Cannonization of PopesIt’s official. We have two new Pope Saints in the Catholic Church. Saints John XXIII and John Paul II. May they please pray for us.

Pope Francis opened his homily during this morning’s Mass speaking of the wounds Jesus suffered on the cross.

Saint John XXIII and Saint John Paul II were not afraid to look upon the wounds of Jesus, to touch his torn hands and his pierced side. They were not ashamed of the flesh of Christ, they were not scandalized by him, by his cross; they did not despise the flesh of their brother (cf. Is 58:7), because they saw Jesus in every person who suffers and struggles. These were two men of courage, filled with the parrhesia of the Holy Spirit, and they bore witness before the Church and the world to God’s goodness and mercy

They were priests, and bishops and popes of the twentieth century. They lived through the tragic events of that century, but they were not overwhelmed by them. For them, God was more powerful; faith was more powerful – faith in Jesus Christ the Redeemer of man and the Lord of history; the mercy of God, shown by those five wounds, was more powerful; and more powerful too was the closeness of Mary our Mother.

I could not stay awake to watch the ceremony and Mass but you can find lots of information about it online. Here’s the text of Pope Francis’s homily.

Saying Goodbye to Our Holy Father

Pope Benedict RosaryI never had an opportunity to meet or see Pope Benedict XVI but I have a memento to remind me of him.

A priest that said Mass at an Indy Car race I attended had just returned from Rome and had a number of rosaries with him that were blessed by Pope Benedict. He gave them to those of us who wanted one and this is it.

I prayed my rosary with it this morning!

If you’d like to offer some prayers for our outgoing Pope here are some petitions from a document titled, “LITURGICAL NOTES AND RESOURCE MATERIALS FOR USE UPON THE RESIGNATION OF THE POPE” (pdf) available from the Secretariat of Divine Worship of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

  • That Pope Benedict XVI may be given the strength needed to complete faithfully and fully his remaining ministry as our Pope, we pray to the Lord.
  • That Pope Benedict XVI, who has served the Church faithfully as Supreme Pontiff, may find peace and consolation as he turns to a life of prayer for the Church, we pray to the Lord.
  • That the tireless efforts of Pope Benedict XVI in fostering the unity and communion of the Church may bear fruit in our hearts and among all Christians, we pray to the Lord.
  • For Pope Benedict XVI, who preached that God is love and that we are saved in hope, that he may strengthened in hope and know God’s love for him now and for all eternity, we pray to the Lord.

The Joy of Knowing Christ

The title of this book by Pope Benedict XVI, The Joy of Knowing Christ: Meditations on the Gospels, is a wonderful phrase to describe the the feeling that comes from a faith in which you “know Him,” the son of God. It is my first reading of our Pope’s writings and I’m finding him very easy to read and understand.

It is my new spiritual reading as suggested by my new spiritual director. I haven’t mentioned Fr. Joseph Callipare, Vicar of Deacon Formation and Permanent Deacons, Diocese of Pensacola/Tallahassee, before. With this year’s move to Florida from Missouri it has meant many changes and one of the most important ones for me is good spiritual direction. I have only been meeting with Fr. Callipare for a couple months but am very happy and blessed to have found him.

In my experience of having regular spiritual direction there is no question in my mind that it is a benefit of extreme value to living a holy life in the middle of the world. Having someone who gets to know you personally and whom you receive the sacrament of Confession from on a frequent basis really helps keep you on track, especially is they are firm with you. The help keep you focused on your faith. That’s something we need much more of in today’s society!

Force of Evil Emerging in Power of Finance & Media

Pope BenedictI wanted to write a post about the lack of respect for each other we see so much in the media and efforts like the mis-guided Occupy Movement. But the Holy Father beat me to the punch and says it so much better than I can. Pope Benedict visited the Major Seminary of Rome for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust. While there he pronounced a “lectio divina” on the passage from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans in which the Apostle invites the faithful not to conform to this world but to transform themselves and renew their minds in order to discern the will of God, “the good and acceptable and perfect”.

“We can reflect upon the Church today”, he said in his off-the-cuff remarks. “There is much talk about the Church of Rome, many things are said. Let us hope that people also talk about our faith. Let us pray to God that it may be so”.

The Pope then went on to refer to the force of evil which, in today’s world, also emerges “in two great powers which are good and useful in themselves but easily open to abuse: the power of finance and the power of the media. Both are necessary, both are useful, but so subject to misuse that they often go against their true goals”.

Today “we see how the world of finance can dominate mankind. Possession and appearance dominate and enslave the world. … Finance is no longer a tool to promote well being and to support the life of man, but a force that oppresses him, one which almost has to be worshipped”. The Pontiff called on his audience not to conform to this power. “Be non conformists. What counts is not possession but existence”, he said. Christians must not bow to this power, but use it as “as a means, with the freedom of the children of God”.

Turning then to consider the question of public opinion, Benedict XVI highlighted how “we have a great need of information, knowledge about the truth of the world; but there is a power of appearance which in the end counts even more than reality itself”. Appearance “overlies the truth and becomes more important. Man no longer pursues the truth but wants above all to appear”. Here too “there is a Christian non conformism. … We want not appearance but truth, and this will give us true freedom”.

“Christian non conformism redeems us and restores us to truth. Let us pray to the Lord that He may help us to be free in this non conformism, which is not against the world but is authentic love for the world”.

Pope Benedict Tweets On iPad

Our Holy Father has made headlines with one tweet. And one that’s not even on his own personal Twitter account. He doesn’t have one. He did it on an iPad using the Vatican’s Twitter account. His post says, “Dear Friends, I just launched Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI.” If you haven’t checked out the new Vatican website you need to. It is much improved.

Papal Visit To United Kingdom

It looks like you have options if you want to watch live coverage of Pope Benedict’s visit to the United Kingdom. His trip will end with the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman.

For starters EWTN will be covering it live. It also looks like there will be live broadcasts from the Vatican Television Center.

Then it looks like the Catholic Communications Network will be live streaming as well. They’ve got a blog started. You can also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

Give A Soul To Internet Flow Of Information

It is great seeing our Holy Father embrace digital media and the internet as mechanisms to witness to our faith and evangelize the message of Jesus Christ. According to a note in my latest Vatican Information Service update, Pope Benedict spoke to a conference on, “Digital Witnesses. Faces and languages in the multi-media age”. The congress was organized by the Italian Episcopal Conference, the president of which is Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa. Here’s what he said.

“The time in which we are living is seeing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication”, said the Pope. “The Internet is by nature open, tendentiously egalitarian and pluralist, but at the same time it also represents a new gulf. Indeed, we talk of the ‘digital divide’, which separates the included from the excluded, and this must be added to other separations which already divide nations, both from one another and within themselves”.

Benedict XVI also noted “the dangers of conformity and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, which are already evident in the diminution of the spirit of criticism, in the truth reduced to an interplay of opinions, in the many forms of degradation and humiliation of individual intimacy. We are witnessing a ‘pollution of the spirit which clouds our faces and makes them less prone to smile’.

Read the rest of this post…

Novena For Pope Benedict

The Knights of Columbus is urging all Knights to say a novena in support of our Pope Benedict. You can learn more about it on the national Knights website.

All Knights of Columbus are encouraged to join in a special novena for Pope Benedict XVI, beginning Divine Mercy Sunday, April 11, and concluding Monday, April 19, the fifth anniversary of the Holy Father’s election in 2005.

We pray for the pope and for his pastoral mission, asking God to protect, strengthen and uplift our beloved Holy Father at this time of considerable challenge.

This is the image and prayer from the prayer card they have created (pdf).


Lord, source of eternal life and truth, give to your shepherd, Benedict, a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love. By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may he, as successor to the Apostle Peter and Vicar of Christ, build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world. Amen.

V/ Let us pray for Benedict, the pope.

R/ May the Lord preserve him, give him a long life, make him blessed upon the earth, and not hand him over to the power of his enemies.

V/ May your hand be upon your holy servant.

R/ And upon your son, whom you have anointed.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…

Pray For Our Pope and the Church

As we’re entering Holy Week, it’s a really good time to pray for our Pope and the Church. There is much being said in the news about how abuses by some priests have been handled and it’s obvious that the Church is under attack because of their actions. There is no excuse for what those have done. It has caused great harm to individuals and the Church.

We’re seeing news reports that are speculating (is that news?) on whether the Pope should resign and polls of what people think about this or that. One I just saw from the N.Y. Times is titled, “At the Vatican, Up Against the World.” Just the title ought to tell you something. I would challenge all the people who are so up in arms about what a very small element of Church personnel have done to put their effort into prayer and look first at their own actions before casting stones. If we had more people spending their time in prayer maybe we wouldn’t have these problems. Our faith is a supernatural virtue that allows us to believe what God has revealed. The world is and always will be at odds with that.

My faith is not dependent on polls or public opinion. There are still truths of our faith that can not be changed just because someone wants them to. I’ve seen nothing factual in the news to weaken my faith. It hurts to know what some have done but I can only pity them and pray for them and I will continue to do so.

Pray For Our Families

Pope BenedictYesterday Pope Benedict called on our Blessed Lady to protect families. Now is a great time to pray for all families and as usual, our Pope shows us the way. He spoke to a group of cloistered nuns.

. . . the Holy Father said: “To you I entrust my intentions, the intentions of the pastor of this diocese and the needs of everyone who lives in this land. In this Year for Priests I especially entrust you with clergy, seminarians and vocations. … Offer the Lord the sacrifice of your lives for their sanctification and for the good of souls”.

Benedict XVI went on to invoke “Mary’s maternal protection” on “the Successor of Peter and the Church entrusted to his care. … Queen of peace, obtain the gift of harmony and peace for peoples and for all humankind”, he said.

“Keep our families united, which today suffer threats from all sides, and make them centres of serenity and harmony where patient dialogue dissipates difficulties and contrasts. Watch especially over those that are divided or in crisis”.

The Pope called upon the Virgin to “make the will of those whom the Lord of the harvest calls to be workers in His vineyard firm and decided, so that, resisting all the temptations and pitfalls of the world, they may persevere generously in following the path they have taken and, with your maternal help, be witnesses of Christ, attracted by the brilliance of His Love”.

“Console those who weep, who suffer for human injustice; support those who waver under the burden of fatigue and look to the future without hope; encourage those who work to build a better world in which justice many triumph and fraternity reign, in which egoism, hatred and violence may end. May every form and expression of violence be overcome by the pacifying power of Christ”.

Digital Evangelization

In today’s homily the priest started out by saying, “Happy Birthday,” as in today is kind of like the birthday of the founding of the Church when the Apostles received the Holy Spirit and were sent to spread the Gospel.

Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

That’s from today’s Pentecost Mass reading, Gospel of St. John, 20:21-23.

One of the ways we can all do this today that’s very different than back then is with online communications tools like Twitter, blogs, podcasts and other forms of social networking like Facebook. Now that we have an iPhone app which allows us to view or listen to Vatican video (wifi connection only) the Pope is calling on young people in particular to use these mechanisms>

It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this “digital continent”. Be sure to announce the Gospel to your contemporaries with enthusiasm. You know their fears and their hopes, their aspirations and their disappointments: the greatest gift you can give to them is to share with them the “Good News” of a God who became man, who suffered, died and rose again to save all people. Human hearts are yearning for a world where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion. Our faith can respond to these expectations: may you become its heralds!

Coverage of Pope Benedict’s Holy Land Visit

There are quite a few places you can find coverage of the Pope Benedict’s visit to the Holy Land. I did not know that he’ll on be the 3rd Pope to make this pilgrimage. Peter was first, then Pope John Paul II and now our current Pope.

Catholic News Service, their blog, their Twitter feed
Florida Catholic

Pope Prays for Us to Imitate Christ

Pope BenedictI must have been reading Pope Benedict’s mind when I wrote the post, Be Imitators of Christ, on Tuesday. His June prayer intention: “That all Christians may cultivate a deep and personal friendship with Christ, in order to be able to communicate the strength of His love to every person they meet.” (h/t: American Papist).

June mission intention: “That the International Eucharistic Congress of Quebec in Canada may lead to an ever greater understanding that the Eucharist is the heart of the Church and the source of evangelization.”

Faith Must Be Lived in Our Daily Lives

Pope BenedictIn his talks last week, Pope Benedict seriously stressed the importance of combating the “dictatorship of relativism” with a faith, grounded in truth and incorporated into every aspect of our lives. From his meeting with the Bishops:

Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.

We live in a society that is increasingly divorcing itself from any semblance of faith. While we respect freedom of religion, we also want God out of school, the bedroom, the voting booth and so forth. We passively accept that “certain things ‘out there’ are true, but without practical relevance for everyday life (1).” The problem is affecting Catholics as well. How many Catholics attend Mass every Sunday only to go home and forget about Christ for the rest of the week, think that they can live as good and faithful Catholics privately while ignoring the Sacraments given to us by Christ or publicly profess to be Catholic while exhibiting behavior that is opposed to the faith that they proclaim (cohabitation, fornication, using contraception, supporting abortion rights etc…).

“No, my children! We cannot lead a double life. We cannot have a split personality if we want to be Christians. There is only one life, made of flesh and spirit. And it is that life which has to become, in both body and soul, holy and filled with God.”
~St. Josemaria Escriva; Passionately Loving the World

True faith demands conversion! God wants all of us and wants to participate in every aspect of our lives. We are, every one of us, called to be SAINTS!

“You have the obligation to sanctify yourself. Yes, even you. Who thinks this is the exclusive concern of priests and religious? To everyone, without exception our Lord said: ‘Be perfect, as my heavenly Father is perfect’ (Mt. 5:48)
~The Way 291

There are many things Catholics can do to incorporate faith into our daily lives. Personally I have found daily Mass and daily recitation of the rosary helpful, along with weekly holy hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament and frequent confession. It is also possible to lift up even the most ordinary daily tasks. Given a supernatural motive, an hour of work can become an hour of prayer. Fidelity to prayer and the Sacraments is essential.

Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all…

Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others (2).

Equally as important is obedience to the law of Christ, His commandments and the teachings of His Church. Despite popular belief, this is the way to true and lasting freedom. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in – a participation in Being itself (3). As today’s Gospel reading says:

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. (Jn. 15:10)

If Christ is the way, the truth and the life, and it is this truth which sets us free (Jn. 8:31-32), then authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God (3).

The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. “In his will is our peace”.

Real freedom, then, is God’s gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32)…When we put on “the mind of Christ” (cf. Phil 2:5), new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world (4).

I told you his speeches were jam packed!

Being Catholic is not merely a social identity, it’s not a question of what church (lower case “c”) you belong to or attend, but it is, as our Holy Father says, a question of conviction – do I really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)? Am I ready to commit my entire self – intellect and will, mind and heart – to God? Do I accept the truth Christ reveals? Is my faith evident in the way I live my life? Do I give it fervent expression liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern for justice, and respect for God’s creation? (3)

(1) Responses to questions posed by the Bishops
(2) Youth rally speech in Yonkers
(3) Meeting with Catholic educators
(4) Homily at Yankee Stadium

Keeping Up With the Pope

Pope BenedictFor the past couple of days I’ve been watching non stop live coverage of the Pope’s visit on EWTN with commentary from Raymond Arroyo and Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, whom I adore. I have been trying to catch all of his speeches, but there are just too many to keep up with! I wanted to comment on some of them, but I am going to have to read them all again online some time. They are so dense, though rich in truth and love.

When addressing the faithful he has touched on many different topics – respect for life, the clergy sex abuse, vocations – but the theme has remained constant – Christ! – Christ as truth, hope and freedom. He has been especially urging people to deepen their own personal relationship with Christ through prayer, which he calls “hope in action.” This, he told his brother Bishops on Wednesday, is where more priestly vocations will come from and how young people will be able to discern the will of God:

Prayer itself, born in Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. To the extent that we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating with God’s call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God’s call.

This was also his message to the young people at St. Joseph Seminary yesterday:

What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should pray constantlyÂť (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.

As the pope also said at the youth rally, “ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ” and we cannot know the truth and be freed by it unless we know the person of Christ.

I am surprised at how moved I have been by watching the pope this week. I mostly feel a great sense of joy and pride in my Catholic faith when I see the smiling face of this gentle and humble vicar of my Christ on earth. He’s such a sweet and loving man (I love the way he rises from his chair to eagerly greet those who have just addressed him) and what I have noticed during this visit is that it is not so much his words – powerful as they are – but just his very presence that has brought excitement and hope, centered on Christ, to the Church in our country, at least for the moment. I pray that it will last.

Watch this video of the pope “mingling” with a large crowd of his fans outside his residence in NY. One person said it was “almost as good as seeing the Rolling Stones.”

You can read text of all of his speeches and homilies at the Vatican website, or at the USCCB’s Papal Visit site which includes audio and video.