Thursday, July 31, 2008

Saint Ignatius of Loyola


ST. IGNATIUS was born at Loyola in Spain, in the year 1491. He served his king as a courtier and a soldier till his thirtieth year. At that age, being laid low by a wound, he received the call of divine grace to leave the world. He embraced poverty and humiliation, that he might become more like to Christ, and won others to join him in the service of God. Prompted by their love for Jesus Christ, Ignatius and his companions made a vow to go to the Holy Land, but war broke out, and prevented the execution of their project. Then they turned to the Vicar of Jesus Christ, and placed themselves under his obedience. This was the beginning of the Society of Jesus. Our Lord promised St. Ignatius that the precious heritage of His Passion should never fail his Society, a heritage of contradictions and persecutions. St. Ignatius was cast into prison at Salamanca, on a suspicion of heresy. To a friend who expressed sympathy with him on account of his imprisonment, he replied, "It is a sign that you have but little love of Christ in your heart, or you would not deem it so hard a fate to be in chains for His sake. I declare to you that all Salamanca does not contain as many fetters, manacles, and chains as I long to wear for the love of Jesus Christ." St. Ignatius went to his crown on the 31st July, 1556.

Reflection.—Ask St. Ignatius to obtain for you the grace to desire ardently the greater glory of God, even though it may cost you much suffering and humiliation.

Taken from: Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894], at

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Sts. Joachim and Anne - parents of Our Lady


By tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. We have no historical evidence, however, of any elements of their lives, including their names. Any stories about Mary's father and mother come to us through legend and tradition.

We get the oldest story from a document called the Gospel of James, though in no way should this document be trusted to be factual, historical, or the Word of God. The legend told in this document says that after years of childlessness, an angel appeared to tell Anne and Joachim that they would have a child. Anne promised to dedicate this child to God (much the way that Samuel was dedicated by his mother Hannah -- Anne -- in 1 Kings).

For those who wonder what we can learn from people we know nothing about and how we can honor them, we must focus on why they are honored by the church. Whatever their names or the facts of their lives, the truth is that it was the parents of Mary who nurtured Mary, taught her, brought her up to be a worthy Mother of God. It was their teaching that led her to respond to God's request with faith, "Let it be done to me as you will." It was their example of parenting that Mary must have followed as she brought up her own son, Jesus. It was their faith that laid the foundation of courage and strength that allowed her to stand by the cross as her son was crucified and still believe.

Such parents can be examples and models for all parents.

Anne (or Ann) is the patron saint of Christian mothers and of women in labor.

Parents of Mary, pray for all parents that they may provide the loving home and faithful teaching that you provided your daughter. Amen

Taken from

Truly this was the first holy family

Friday, July 25, 2008

St. James the Greater


For James there was no indication that this was the day that his life would change. The dawn for him was not the bright beginning of a new day, but the end of long fruitless night of fishing. As James sat mending his nets in the boat with his brother John and his father Zebedee, he must have watched in wonder as his partner Simon brought in nets loaded with fish he had caught at the command of Jesus. Was he shocked when he saw Simon and his brother Andrew walk away from this incredible catch at a word from this same Jesus?

As he watched Jesus walk toward him followed by Simon and Andrew, did he feel curiosity, fear, hope, envy? Jesus didn't pass him by but, stopping by their boat, called James and his brother John to do just what Simon and Andrew had done. Without argument or discussion, James and John left their boat and even their father behind, and followed Jesus.

The first thing James saw after he followed Jesus was his teaching with authority in the synagogue and the cure of Simon's mother-in-law.

We all know that Jesus was the focus of James' life from then on, but it is also evident that James held a special place in Jesus' life.

He was chosen by Jesus to be one of the twelve apostles, given the mission to proclaim the good news, and authority to heal and cast out demons. To be named one of the twelve James must have had faith and commitment.

But even among the apostles he held a special place. When Jesus raised Jairus' daughter when all thought her dead, he only allowed James, John, and Peter to come with him. Even more important when he went up to the mountain to pray, he wanted James, John, and Peter to go with him. And it was there on the mountain they were privileged to witness what no one else had seen -- Jesus transfigured in his glory, speaking to Moses and Elijah, as the voice of God spoke from a cloud.

And with Simon Peter, James and John were the only ones of the apostles that Jesus gave a special name: Sons of Thunder.

To be singled out in these ways, James must have been a close and respected friend of Jesus.

It's no wonder then that James, along with John, felt that he had the right to go to Jesus and ask him to give them whatever they asked. As a mark of his love, Jesus didn't rebuke them but asked them what they wanted. They showed their lack of understanding of his mission when the asked that he let one of them sit on his right and the other on his left when he came into his glory. He replied that they didn't know what they were asking. They didn't see the cross in his future, but an earthly throne. Could they drink of the cup he would drink of? They replied that they could. He assured them they would indeed drink of that cup.

(Matthew has their mother asking for this favor for her sons. Despite the bad reputation their mother got for this, it should be remembered that she too had followed Jesus in his travels, providing for him, and was one of the women who stayed with Jesus as he was crucified when the apostles, including her son James, had fled.)

The other apostles were furious at this request. But Jesus used this opportunity to teach all of them that in order to be great one must be a servant.

James and John did show further lack of understanding of their friend and Lord when he was turned away by Samaritans. They wanted to use their newfound authority as apostles not to heal but to bring fire down on the town. (Perhaps Jesus gave them their Sons of Thunder nickname because of their passion, their own fire, or their temper.) Jesus did reprimand them for their unforgiving, vengeful view of their power.

But despite all these misunderstandings, it was still James, Peter, and John that Jesus chose to join him in prayer at the Garden of Gethsemane for his final prayer before his arrest. It must have hurt Jesus that the three of them fell asleep on this agonizing evening.

James did drink of the cup Jesus drank of, all too shortly after the Resurrection. Acts 12:1 tells us that James was one of the first martyrs of the Church. King Herod Agrippa I killed him with a sword in an early persecution of the Church. There is a story that the man who arrested James became a convert after hearing James speak at his trial and was executed with him.

James is called James the Greater because another younger apostle was named James. He should not be accused with this James, or the James who is a relative of Jesus, or the James who was an elder of the Church in Jerusalem and heard Peter's defense of baptizing Gentiles. James, son of Thunder, was dead by then.

Legends have sprung up that James evangelized Spain before he died but these stories have no basis in historical fact.

James is the patron saint of hatmakers, rheumatoid sufferers, and laborers.

In His Footsteps
What name would Jesus give you if he would describe who you are and your gifts?

Saint James, pray for us that we may be willing to leave everything to follow Jesus as you did. Help us to become special friends of Jesus as you were. Amen

Taken from

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

St. Mary Magdalene


According to the scriptures, Mary Magdalene is the first to witness the resurrection of Christ. She truly was a faithful disciple whom Jesus had freed from an evil spirit. She was faithful to the end, even remaining with the other women at the foot of the Cross. She, along with the other Mary, were the first to hasten to the tomb, according to the Gospels. In his work, In Conversation with God, Fr. Francis Fernandez uses this scene to show us Mary's love for her Master. He specifically points out that Mary chose to stay at the tomb weeping when she discovered the Body was not there, even though the other apostles returned home. She chose to persevere in finding Him, and we can see this as an example of "Whoever perseveres to the end will be saved" (Litugry of the Hours, Second Reading, St. Gregory the Great, Homily on the Gospels, 25,1-2. This perseverence, according to St. Jose Maria Esciva, wins her the reward of being the first to see Jesus. Although she did not recognize Him at first, the clouds of darkness were then removed from her eyes, as He called her by name. So too can this happen to us when we seek Him in prayer. After al, this dialog with Him results in Christ reaching out and giving us peace and joy once again. This should fill us with hope, since we know that He will always triumph in the end. This also will be translated into a joy which will help us to let our light shine before others (St. Matthew 5:16).

Father, your Son first entrusted to Mary Magdalen the joyful news of [H]is resurrection. By her prayers and example may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day see [H]im in glory. (Opening prayer of the Mass)

Taken from "In Conversation with God" vol 7 by Francis Fernandez, p 19-25.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Benedict XVI's Farewell Address--"Youth Day Has Shown Us That the Church Can Be Filled With Hope"


SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 20, 2008 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Monday morning local time at the farewell ceremony for his departure from Australia after concluding Sunday the 23rd World Youth Day. The Pope left Australia for Rome at about 10:30 a.m., local time.
* * *

Dear Friends,

Before I take my leave, I wish to say to my hosts how much I have enjoyed my visit here and how grateful I am for your hospitality. I thank the Prime Minister, the Honourable Kevin Rudd, for the kindness he has shown to me and to all the participants at World Youth Day. I also thank the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, for his presence here and for graciously receiving me at Admiralty House at the start of my public engagements. The Federal Government and the State Government of New South Wales, as well as the residents and the business community of Sydney, have been most cooperative in their support of World Youth Day. An event of this kind requires an immense amount of preparation and organization, and I know that I speak on behalf of many thousands of young people when I express my appreciation and gratitude to you all. In characteristic Australian style, you have extended a warm welcome to me and to countless young pilgrims who have flocked here from every corner of the globe. To the host families in Australia and New Zealand who have made room for the young people in their homes, I am especially grateful. You have opened your doors and your hearts to the world's youth, and on their behalf I thank you.

The principal actors on the stage over these last few days, of course, have been the young people themselves. World Youth Day is their day. It is they who have made this a global ecclesial event, a great celebration of youth and a great celebration of what it is to be the Church, the people of God throughout the world, united in faith and love and empowered by the Spirit to bear witness to the risen Christ to the ends of the earth. I thank them for coming, I thank them for their participation, and I pray that they will have a safe journey home. I know that the young people, their families and their sponsors have in many cases made great sacrifices to enable them to travel to Australia. For this the entire Church is grateful.

As I look back over these stirring days, there are many scenes that stand out in my mind. I was deeply moved by my visit to the Mary MacKillop Memorial, and I thank the Sisters of Saint Joseph for the opportunity to pray at the Shrine of their Co-Foundress. The Stations of the Cross in the streets of Sydney were a powerful reminder that Christ loved us "to the end" and shared our sufferings so that we could share his glory. The meeting with the young people at Darlinghurst was a moment of joy and great hope, a sign that Christ can lift us out of the most difficult situations, restoring our dignity and enabling us to look forward to a brighter future. The meeting with ecumenical and interreligious leaders was marked by a spirit of genuine fraternity and a deep desire for greater collaboration in building a more just and peaceful world. And without doubt, the gatherings at Barangaroo and Southern Cross were high-points of my visit. Those experiences of prayer, and our joyful celebration of the Eucharist, were an eloquent testimony to the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit, present and active in the hearts of our young people. World Youth Day has shown us that the Church can rejoice in the young

people of today and be filled with hope for the world of tomorrow.
Dear friends, as I depart from Sydney, I ask God to look down lovingly upon this city, this country and all its inhabitants. I pray that many of their number will be inspired by Blessed Mary MacKillop's example of compassion and service. And as I bid you farewell with deep gratitude in my heart, I say once again: May God bless the people of Australia!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Papal Homily at Closing Mass in Sydney

"May This 23rd World Youth Day Be Experienced as a New Upper Room"

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 19, 2008 ( Here is the text of the homily Benedict XVI gave at the World Youth Day closing Mass Sunday morning local time.
* * *

Dear Friends,

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you" (Acts 1:8). We have seen this promise fulfilled! On the day of Pentecost, as we heard in the first reading, the Risen Lord, seated at the right hand of the Father, sent the Spirit upon the disciples gathered in the Upper Room. In the power of that Spirit, Peter and the Apostles went forth to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth. In every age, and in every language, the Church throughout the world continues to proclaim the marvels of God and to call all nations and peoples to faith, hope and new life in Christ.

In these days I too have come, as the Successor of Saint Peter, to this magnificent land of Australia. I have come to confirm you, my young brothers and sisters, in your faith and to encourage you to open your hearts to the power of Christ's Spirit and the richness of his gifts. I pray that this great assembly, which unites young people "from every nation under heaven" (cf. Acts 2:5), will be a new Upper Room. May the fire of God's love descend to fill your hearts, unite you ever more fully to the Lord and his Church, and send you forth, a new generation of apostles, to bring the world to Christ! "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you". These words of the Risen Lord have a special meaning for those young people who will be confirmed, sealed with the gift of the Holy Spirit, at today's Mass. But they are also addressed to each of us - to all those who have received the Spirit's gift of reconciliation and new life at Baptism, who have welcomed him into their hearts as their helper and guide at Confirmation, and who daily grow in his gifts of grace through the Holy Eucharist. At each Mass, in fact, the Holy Spirit descends anew, invoked by the solemn prayer of the Church, not only to transform our gifts of bread and wine into the Lord's body and blood, but also to transform our lives, to make us, in his power, "one body, one spirit in Christ".

But what is this "power" of the Holy Spirit? It is the power of God's life! It is the power of the same Spirit who hovered over the waters at the dawn of creation and who, in the fullness of time, raised Jesus from the dead. It is the power which points us, and our world, towards the coming of the Kingdom of God. In today's Gospel, Jesus proclaims that a new age has begun, in which the Holy Spirit will be poured out upon all humanity (cf. Lk 4:21). He himself, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary, came among us to bring us that Spirit. As the source of our new life in Christ, the Holy Spirit is also, in a very real way, the soul of the Church, the love which binds us to the Lord and one another, and the light which opens our eyes to see all around us the wonders of God's grace.

Here in Australia, this "great south land of the Holy Spirit", all of us have had an unforgettable experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the beauty of nature. Our eyes have been opened to see the world around us as it truly is: "charged", as the poet says, "with the grandeur of God", filled with the glory of his creative love. Here too, in this great assembly of young Christians from all over the world, we have had a vivid experience of the Spirit's presence and power in the life of the Church. We have seen the Church for what she truly is: the Body of Christ, a living community of love, embracing people of every race, nation and tongue, of every time and place, in the unity born of our faith in the Risen Lord. The power of the Spirit never ceases to fill the Church with life! Through the grace of the Church's sacraments, that power also flows deep within us, like an underground river which nourishes our spirit and draws us ever nearer to the source of our true life, which is Christ. Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who died a martyr in Rome at the beginning of the second century, has left us a splendid description of the Spirit's power dwelling within us. He spoke of the Spirit as a fountain of living water springing up within his heart and whispering: "Come, come to the Father" (cf. Ad Rom., 6:1-9).

Yet this power, the grace of the Spirit, is not something we can merit or achieve, but only receive as pure gift. God's love can only unleash its power when it is allowed to change us from within. We have to let it break through the hard crust of our indifference, our spiritual weariness, our blind conformity to the spirit of this age. Only then can we let it ignite our imagination and shape our deepest desires. That is why prayer is so important: daily prayer, private prayer in the quiet of our hearts and before the Blessed Sacrament, and liturgical prayer in the heart of the Church. Prayer is pure receptivity to God's grace, love in action, communion with the Spirit who dwells within us, leading us, through Jesus, in the Church, to our heavenly Father. In the power of his Spirit, Jesus is always present in our hearts, quietly waiting for us to be still with him, to hear his voice, to abide in his love, and to receive "power from on high", enabling us to be salt and light for our world.

At his Ascension, the Risen Lord told his disciples: "You will be my witnesses ... to the ends of the earth" (Acts 1:8). Here, in Australia, let us thank the Lord for the gift of faith, which has come down to us like a treasure passed on from generation to generation in the communion of the Church. Here, in Oceania, let us give thanks in a special way for all those heroic missionaries, dedicated priests and religious, Christian parents and grandparents, teachers and catechists who built up the Church in these lands - witnesses like Blessed Mary MacKillop, Saint Peter Chanel, Blessed Peter To Rot, and so many others! The power of the Spirit, revealed in their lives, is still at work in the good they left behind, in the society which they shaped and which is being handed on to you.

Dear young people, let me now ask you a question. What will you leave to the next generation? Are you building your lives on firm foundations, building something that will endure? Are you living your lives in a way that opens up space for the Spirit in the midst of a world that wants to forget God, or even rejects him in the name of a falsely-conceived freedom? How are you using the gifts you have been given, the "power" which the Holy Spirit is even now prepared to release within you? What legacy will you leave to young people yet to come? What difference will you make? The power of the Holy Spirit does not only enlighten and console us. It also points us to the future, to the coming of God's Kingdom. What a magnificent vision of a humanity redeemed and renewed we see in the new age promised by today's Gospel! Saint Luke tells us that Jesus Christ is the fulfilment of all God's promises, the Messiah who fully possesses the Holy Spirit in order to bestow that gift upon all mankind. The outpouring of Christ's Spirit upon humanity is a pledge of hope and deliverance from everything that impoverishes us. It gives the blind new sight; it sets the downtrodden free, and it creates unity in and through diversity (cf. Lk 4:18-19; Is 61:1-2). This power can create a new world: it can "renew the face of the earth" (cf. Ps 104:30)!

Empowered by the Spirit, and drawing upon faith's rich vision, a new generation of Christians is being called to help build a world in which God's gift of life is welcomed, respected and cherished - not rejected, feared as a threat and destroyed. A new age in which love is not greedy or self-seeking, but pure, faithful and genuinely free, open to others, respectful of their dignity, seeking their good, radiating joy and beauty. A new age in which hope liberates us from the shallowness, apathy and self-absorption which deaden our souls and poison our relationships. Dear young friends, the Lord is asking you to be prophets of this new age, messengers of his love, drawing people to the Father and building a future of hope for all humanity.

The world needs this renewal! In so many of our societies, side by side with material prosperity, a spiritual desert is spreading: an interior emptiness, an unnamed fear, a quiet sense of despair. How many of our contemporaries have built broken and empty cisterns (cf. Jer 2:13) in a desperate search for meaning - the ultimate meaning that only love can give? This is the great and liberating gift which the Gospel brings: it reveals our dignity as men and women created in the image and likeness of God. It reveals humanity's sublime calling, which is to find fulfilment in love. It discloses the truth about man and the truth about life.

The Church also needs this renewal! She needs your faith, your idealism and your generosity, so that she can always be young in the Spirit (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4)! In today's second reading, the Apostle Paul reminds us that each and every Christian has received a gift meant for building up the Body of Christ. The Church especially needs the gifts of young people, all young people. She needs to grow in the power of the Spirit who even now gives joy to your youth and inspires you to serve the Lord with gladness. Open your hearts to that power! I address this plea in a special way to those of you whom the Lord is calling to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Do not be afraid to say "yes" to Jesus, to find your joy in doing his will, giving yourself completely to the pursuit of holiness, and using all your talents in the service of others!

In a few moments, we will celebrate the sacrament of Confirmation. The Holy Spirit will descend upon the confirmands; they will be "sealed" with the gift of the Spirit and sent forth to be Christ's witnesses. What does it mean to receive the "seal" of the Holy Spirit? It means being indelibly marked, inalterably changed, a new creation. For those who have received this gift, nothing can ever be the same! Being "baptized" in the one Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 12:13) means being set on fire with the love of God. Being "given to drink" of the Spirit means being refreshed by the beauty of the Lord's plan for us and for the world, and becoming in turn a source of spiritual refreshment for others. Being "sealed with the Spirit" means not being afraid to stand up for Christ, letting the truth of the Gospel permeate the way we see, think and act, as we work for the triumph of the civilization of love.

As we pray for the confirmands, let us ask that the power of the Holy Spirit will revive the grace of our own Confirmation. May he pour out his gifts in abundance on all present, on this city of Sydney, on this land of Australia and on all its people! May each of us be renewed in the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of right judgement and courage, the spirit of knowledge and reverence, the spirit of wonder and awe in God's presence!

Through the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may this Twenty-third World Youth Day be experienced as a new Upper Room, from which all of us, burning with the fire and love of the Holy Spirit, go forth to proclaim the Risen Christ and to draw every heart to him! Amen.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Holy Father resurrects old rituals for Mass [at World Youth Day]


IN a return to tradition, the Pope will tomorrow offer communion to kneeling Catholics, and preferably on the tongue rather than in the hand.

The final World Youth Day Mass at Sydney's Randwick racecourse will attract up to half a million worshippers and will be beamed to as many as a billion viewers around the world.

A firm believer in the importance and beauty of liturgical traditions, the Pope will seek to set an example to a massive audience with his return to pre-1960s ritual.

"The Holy Father has requested that those whom he gives communion to will kneel, and his preference is that they receive communion on the tongue," said Father Mark Podesta, an official World Youth Day spokesman.

However, these preferences will not apply to the crowds at the racecourse, who could be pressed for kneeling space.

"His request is not a mandate for the Church, it's merely an indicator," Father Podesta said.

"He is concerned with the question of reverence.

"(Standing and receiving the host in the hand) could be open to irreverence. It's a reminder for those who watch it that this is very special."

The Mass will also include a recital in Latin of the Our Father prayer, and a few other words in Latin, Father Podesta added. World Youth Day was an international event, he said, and the language of the Church was [IS] Latin.

"World Youth Day is about communicating with youth," he said. "The Pope's message will be made in a way that youth can most easily identify with."

Latin was largely lost to Catholic churches after the Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican that began in 1962 - which the Pope attended as a young theological adviser.

It permitted Masses to be celebrated in the vernacular, much to the horror of traditional Catholics such as the writer Evelyn Waugh, who said the changes made going to church "a bitter trial".

According to a report in the Inside the Vatican magazine, Australia will be one of the first places in the world outside Italy where these changed customs will be used in a papal liturgy.

"Australia is a country well known for lax liturgical practices following in the wake of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, and this was particularly evident during liturgies celebrated by John Paul II on visits there in 1986 and 1995," the report said.

"After criticism of liturgical music at a recent Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict in Washington DC, there was much debate over whether, despite an evident return to older customs in the Holy See, liturgical committees would follow a similar pattern in a country like Australia."

In July last year, the Pope issued an apostolic letter announcing greater use of the Tridentine or Latin mass.

World Youth Day director of evangelisation Stephen Lawrence said Vatican II had never demanded the removal of all Latin - it only said that priests could use the vernacular.

"We don't want Latin completely removed," he said. "I think he's keen to make sure the Vatican II implementation actually happens. The common practice up until now is there hasn't been much use of Latin."

Taken from

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Our Lady of Mount Carmel

I realize this is a day late, but I forgot to post it yesterday--sorry.
SIMON was born in the county of Kent, England, and left his home when he was but twelve years of age, to live as a hermit in the hollow trunk of a tree, whence he was known as Simon of the Stock. Here he passed twenty years in penance and prayer, and learned from Our Lady that he was to join an Order not then known in England. He waited in patience till the White Friars came, and then entered the Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. His great holiness moved his brethren in the general chapter held at Aylesford, near Rochester, in 1245, to choose him prior-general of the Order. In the many persecutions raised against the new religious, Simon went with filial confidence to the Blessed Mother of God. As he knelt in prayer in the White Friars' convent at Cambridge, on July 16, 1251, she appeared before him and presented him with the scapular, in assurance of her protection. The devotion to the blessed habit spread quickly throughout the Christian world. Pope after Pope enriched it with indulgences, and miracles innumerable put their seal upon its efficacy. The first of them was worked at Winchester on a man dying in despair, who at once asked for the Sacraments, when the scapular was laid upon him by St. Simon Stock. In the year 1636, M. de Guge, a cornet in a cavalry regiment, was mortally wounded at the engagement of Tobin, a bullet having lodged near his heart. He was then in a state of grievous sin, but had time left him to make his confession, and with his own hands wrote his last testament. When this was done, the surgeon probed his wound, and the bullet was found to have driven his scapular into his heart. On its being withdrawn, he presently expired, making profound acts of gratitude to the Blessed Virgin, who had prolonged his life miraculously, and thus preserved him from eternal death. St. Simon Stock died at Bordeaux in 1265.

Reflection.—To enjoy the privileges of the scapular, it is sufficient that it be received lawfully and worn devoutly. How, then, can any one fail to profit by a devotion so easy, so simple, and so wonderfully blessed? "He that shall overcome, shall thus be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (Apoc. iii. 5).
Taken from Lives of the Saints, by Alban Butler, Benziger Bros. ed. [1894], p. 252, at

World Youth Day and Vocations

Youth Flock to Vocations Expo
Visitors Note Surprise at Number of Religious Orders
By Carla Maschereno

SYDNEY, Australia, JULY 16, 2008 ( With a stunning waterfront view and the promise of getting an inside look at more than 110 ways to live the consecrated life, Sydney's Vocation Expo is attracting a constant flow of pilgrims.

World Youth Day already has a reputation for providing an environment in which young people can hear God's call in their lives. Testimonials of thousands of young people speak of a deep faith experience with practical life implications and an increase in vocations.

Sydney is proving to be no different.

This year's Vocations Expo is set at the heart of the city, at the Convention and Exhibition Center in Darling Harbor. The location is close to other popular youth festival venues such as Barangaroo, where the opening Mass was held. More than 110 religious orders, groups and movements are providing information on their style of vocation and consecrated life.

Free gifts such as rosary beads, Aussie tattoos, pens and food snacks aim to woo pilgrims. But visitors affirm that the testimony of those manning the booths are the real draw.

New Zealander Joanna Hardy, 19, said she attended the expo because she wanted to know more about religious orders.

"I don't want to become a nun or anything," she clarified. "But I do want to be aware of the different religious orders. The expo literally blows my mind. I had no idea so many religious orders existed."

Sister Lan from the Sisters of Nazareth based in Victoria, Australia, observed: "It is a unique opportunity for the young people to get to know the religious orders available. Importantly for us, it is a great chance to meet the young people and let them know that we do exist."

"There has been a constant flow of pilgrims," the woman religious added. "It's wonderful."

Other youth are happy to admit they think God is calling them to a life consecrated to him.

Eighteen-year-old Christopher Daniels, from Atlanta, Georgia, said, "I have been discerning my vocation for a while -- although I am not sure which order I would join, this definitely helps." When asked what booth impressed him the most, though, he said, "Those nuns have really got it together."

While many regard the Catholic Church as being in a "vocational crisis," if the expo is any indication, the future looks bright. Sister Lan agreed: "I wouldn't say there is a vocational crisis.
When there is a decline in one country there is always an increase in another. I have a great faith in the Holy Spirit."

The Vocations Expo is under way through Friday.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

World Youth Day -- day 1

World Youth Day kicks off in Sydney with Mass, dancing, testimonies

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

SYDNEY, Australia (CNS) -- World Youth Day officially kicked off July 15 with an opening Mass celebrated by Sydney Cardinal George Pell before an estimated 140,000 people.

Before the Mass, as the pilgrims gathered on the old docklands at Barangaroo, they heard testimonies of faith experiences at previous World Youth Days, watched dancing by a variety of Aboriginal Australian and South Pacific islander groups and cheered a procession of 160 national flags.

While the official welcoming dances were taking place onstage, a group of six young men from Papua New Guinea offered their own choreographed blessing to the four directions of the compass from the place they found to stand in front of the estimated 4,000 concelebrating priests.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd welcomed the pilgrims in a dozen languages, ending by saying that he would speak in Australian, "G'day and have a great time Down Under."

The Mass combined ancient chants, standard hymns, native singing and the anthem written specifically for World Youth Day, "Receive the Power." Women from Australia's Tiwi Islands sang as the Book of the Gospels was presented.

In his homily, Cardinal Pell encouraged the young people to use the July 15-20 celebration as a time not simply to celebrate their faith with peers from around the world, but to strengthen their commitment to Christ and to open further their hearts and minds to God's will for their lives.

He also spoke to those who may not be practicing Catholics or have any connection to any religion: "Christ is calling you home to love, healing and community."

"Secular wisdom claims that leopards do not change their spots, but we Christians believe in the power of the Spirit to convert and change persons away from evil to good, from fear and uncertainty to faith and hope," he said.

Even those who believe and who practice their faith need to do more, Cardinal Pell said.

"Our task is to be open to the power of the Spirit, to allow the God of surprises to act through us," he said.

Too many times, Christians profess and practice their faith, but they try to do it very comfortably and without taking risks, he said.

"Following Christ is not cost-free, not always easy, because it requires struggling against what St. Paul calls 'the flesh,' our fat relentless egos, old-fashioned selfishness. It is always a battle, even for old people like me," the 67-year-old cardinal said.

"Don't spend your life sitting on the fence," Cardinal Pell told them, "because only commitments bring fulfillment."

The cardinal also prayed that everyone who had come to Australia for World Youth Day would be blessed and glad they came "despite the cost, hassles and distances traveled."

Friday, July 11, 2008

St Benedict-Father of Wester Monasticism


St. Benedict, the Father of Western monasticism and brother of Scholastica, is considered the patron of speliologists (cave explorers). He was born in Nursia, Italy and educated in Rome. He was repelled by the vices of the city and in about the year 500, fled to Enfide, thirty miles away. He decided to live the life of a hermit and settled at the mountainous Subiaco, where he lived in a cave for three years, fed by a monk named Romanus. Despite Benedict's desire for solitude, his holiness and austerities became known and he was asked to be their abbot by a community of monks at Vicovaro. He accepted, but when the monks resisted his strict rule and tried to poison him, he returned to Subiaco and became a center of spirituality and learning. He left suddenly, reportedly because of the efforts of a neighboring priest, Florentius, to undermine his work, and in about 525, settled at Monte Cassino. He destroyed a pagan temple to Apollo on its crest, brought the people of the neighboring area back to Christianity, and in about 530 began to build the monastery that was to be the birthplace of Western monasticism. Soon disciples again flocked to him as his reputation for holiness, wisdom, and miracles spread far and wide. He organized the monks into a single monastic community and wrote his famous Rule prescribing common sense, a life of moderate asceticism, prayer, study, and work, and community life under one superior. It stressed obedience, stability, zeal, and had the Divine Office as the center of monastic life; it was to affect spiritual and monastic life in the West for centuries to come. While ruling his monks (most of whom, including Benedict, were not ordained), he counseled rulers and Popes, ministered to the poor and destitute about him, and tried to repair the ravages of the Lombard Totila's invasion. He died at Monte Cassino on March 21 and was named patron protector of Europe by Pope Paul VI in 1964. His feast day is July 11.

Taken from

Monday, July 7, 2008

Summorum Pontificum-one year later

+JMJ+ In honor of the one year anniversary of Summorum Pontificum, I decided to post the following video:

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Birthday America

First 4th: Carroll the lone Catholic Independence Declaration signer
The Catholic Review (

BALTIMORE, Md. (The Catholic Review) – Of the 56 men who signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, at the State House in Philadelphia, only one was a Catholic, who worked much of his life to win political and civil rights for American Catholics and helped establish democracy in the United States.

Charles Carroll, as the pre-eminent Catholic politician of his day and cousin of the Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore, the first U.S. bishop, was a member of the body of delegates, called the Continental Congress, which had formed two years earlier to speak and act for the people of the 13 British North American colonies which became the United States of America.

The Continental Congress had voted to declare the colonies “to be free and independent states,” no longer under the thumb of Great Britain. To announce this to the world, they wrote and printed the document, which measured approximately 30 x 24 inches.

Four Maryland representatives signed the declaration: Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, Thomas Stone and William Paca. While elected to represent the state, he was excluded as an official delegate because of his faith.

"Carroll almost single-handedly obtained religious freedom and political rights for American Catholics, who formerly had suffered from oppressive penal laws which denied them the right to vote and to worship in public," said Scott McDermott of Nashville, the author of the 2003 book, Charles Carroll of Carrollton: Faithful Revolutionary.

"He set a great example and, based on his contribution and that of the Catholic soldiers in the American Revolution, of whom there were many, Americans realized that you could be a Catholic and also a good citizen," McDermott said in a 2003 interview.

"Prior to that, Catholics were considered to be potential traitors, partly because of the number of infamous plots and rebellions when Catholics were involved. His example was crucial to what Catholics are today," he said.

Carroll was born 1737 into a wealthy Roman Catholic family in Annapolis, Md. He was sent to Belgium and attended a Jesuit academy there, where he studied the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Robert Bellarmine.

After Carroll's return to Maryland in 1765, he began lobbying for repeal of the Stamp Act. "The irony of this is that Carroll was prohibited from voting on any political issue because he was Catholic, and though many immigrants had renounced their faith he remained steadfast to the church," McDermott said. A refined gentleman with the education and experience expected of members of the finest courts in Europe, he cracked the ban on Catholics holding public office with his 1775 appointment to Maryland’s first Council of Safety. “When he was elected to the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, it was a profound victory for Catholic Americans, and was the beginning of religious tolerance on this continent," McDermott said. Risking not only his fortune but his very life, Carroll signed the Declaration of Independence on Aug. 2, 1776. He single-handedly ended decades of discrimination against Catholics and made himself one of the more important leaders of Maryland’s independence movement. In 1781, he was elected to the Maryland Senate.

Carroll’s Annapolis house was the site of Maryland’s official celebration for peace and independence in 1783.

"Had it not been for Carroll, all the new states might have created Protestant religious establishments," said McDermott. "This act exploded the theory that the United States had a Protestant identity."

After the Revolutionary War was over, Carroll had a seat in the first U.S. Senate, while working doggedly for Catholic emancipation as he supported the Bill of Rights with his cousin, Daniel Carroll, who was in the House of Representatives.

When John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826, Carroll became the only surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence. He spent his final years as a national hero, and died at the age of 95 in 1832.

According to the National Archives, this large piece of parchment paper was rolled up for storage. A notation was written on the back at the bottom, upside down: “Original Declaration of Independence dated 4th July 1776.” The original is exhibited in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington. Poor preservation techniques of the 19th century caused the document to fade badly.

Twenty-four copies are known to exist, two of which are in the Library of Congress. One of these was General George Washington’s personal copy, sent to him by John Hancock, president of the Continental Congress with the instructions, “You will have it proclaimed at the head of the army.” Washington read the declaration to his troops on July 9, 1776, in New York where they awaited the combined British fleet and army.

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Catholic News Report contributed to this report.