Saturday, January 24, 2009

Saint Francis de Sales

Francis was born of noble and pious parents, near Annecy, 1566, and studied with brilliant success at Paris and Padua. On his return from Italy he gave up the grand career which his father had marked out for him in the service of the state, and became a priest.

When the Duke of Savoy had resolved to restore the Church in the Chablais, Francis offered himself for the work, and set out on foot with his Bible and breviary and one companion, his cousin Louis of Sales. It was a work of toil, privation, and danger. Every door and every heart was closed against him. He was rejected with insult and threatened with death. But nothing could daunt or resist him, and ere long the Church burst forth into a second spring. It is stated that he converted 72,000 Calvinists.

He was then compelled by the Pope to become Coadjutor Bishop of Geneva, and succeeded to the see in 1602. At times the exceeding gentleness with which he received heretics and sinners almost scandalized his friends, and one of them said to him, "Francis of Sales will go to Paradise, of course; but I am not so sure of the Bishop of Geneva: I am almost afraid his gentleness will play him a shrewd turn." "Ah," said the Saint, "I would rather account to God for too great gentleness than for too great severity. Is not God all love? God the Father is the Father of mercy; God the Son is a Lamb; God the Holy Ghost is a Dove -- that is, gentleness itself. And are you wiser than God?"

In union with St. Jane Frances of Chantal he founded at Annecy the Order of the Visitation, which soon spread over Europe. Though poor, he refused provisions and dignities, and even the great see of Paris.

He died at Avignon on December 28, 1622, after giving a nun his last word of advice: "Humility."
Taken from

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pro-life marchers turn Obama's call for change against him at march


MARCH-SPEAKERS (UPDATED) Jan-22-2009 (850 words) With photos. xxxn

By Dennis Sadowski
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- President Barack Obama and his vocal support of abortion came under fire from members of Congress, clergy and pro-life activists during the opening rally of the 36th annual March for Life.

For nearly two hours Jan. 22, a crowd estimated at 100,000 listened to three dozen speakers pledge to fight efforts to expand the availability of abortion and to oppose any increases in federal funding for agencies that perform abortions.

The crowd's disdain for Obama's views on abortion offered a sharp contrast to the exuberance that nearly 2 million people showered on the 44th president at his inauguration on the very same grounds 48 hours earlier.

Speakers took an almost defiant stand against the new president in pledging to reverse the 1970s era Supreme Court decisions of Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that recognized abortion as a constitutional right and overturned state laws against abortion.

Rarely mentioning Obama by name and referring to him repeatedly as "Mr. President," Nellie Gray, president of the March for Life Fund which annually sponsors the march, invited the nation's first African-American leader to discuss "important changes" in his stance "and we want to discuss that today."

To become a president of all people, as he has pledged, Gray urged the president to take steps to end legal abortion during his presidency.

"Mr. President, you are a great orator, and we appreciate the great words ... but you must also be a great doer of the deeds to overturn the illicit Roe v. Wade and fulfill your responsibility to make right and proper changes as president of the United States and president of all the people," she said.

Obama issued a statement Jan. 22 saying the Roe decision stands for the broad principle that "government should not intrude on our most private family matters."

The president reiterated his position that he is "committed to protecting a women's right to choose" and called for both sides to work toward common ground to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make.

More than two dozen Republican members of Congress also were on hand, speaking a total of 45 minutes about their plans to introduce legislation to limit funding to agencies performing abortions, overturn Roe v. Wade or to fund programs that support pregnant women, giving them a better chance of carrying their children to term.

Several of the elected officials called abortion a civil rights issue, drew parallels with slavery and urged the crowd to maintain their courageous stance opposing abortion.

Rev. Luke J. Robinson of Quinn Chapel A.M.E. Church in Frederick, Md., an African-American, recalled the celebration during the week leading up to the March for Life, including the Jan. 19 holiday marking the 80th anniversary of the birth of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Obama's inauguration Jan. 20.

He said having Obama as president marks a partial fulfillment of Rev. King's dream of equality for all and a more just society.

As the jubilation of the week subsided, Rev. Quinn called for a change in the nation's abortion policies and urged Obama to be that agent of change.

"I am praying that God's hand will lead him in righteousness and justice," he said. "Today, Thursday, Jan. 22, we come here to deal with some unfinished business as it relates to the dream. We need change now more than ever.

"We are calling on the president of change to be an agent of change as it relates to the lives of more than 1 million children who will be slaughtered in his first year as president of the United States by a horrible injustice called abortion," he said.

Former Rep. Bob Dornan of California delivered a caustic assessment of Obama's comments from his inaugural address.

Paraphrasing the president's speech, Dornan said, "We will not apologize for our way of life -- I add our love of life -- nor will we waiver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror -- the terror of abortion -- and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you."

"I add we will defeat you," Dornan said, the pitch of his gravelly voice rising, "and defeat the culture of death or we will perish as a nation."

Near the rally's end Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia introduced to loud applause 23 Catholic prelates representing both the Latin and Eastern rites, including Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston and Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

"All of the Catholic bishops are in solidarity with this wonderful group," he said.

In his closing prayer, Auxiliary Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Washington prayed for world peace, a solution to the economic crisis gripping the globe, and the continued commitment of the marchers as well as policymakers and elected officials so that they work to support all life.


Copyright (c) 2009 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
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Sunday, January 18, 2009

National Sanctity of Human Life Day

+JMJ+ WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 /Christian Newswire/ — The following text is A Proclamation by the President of the United States of America: National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2009: All human life is a gift from our Creator that is sacred, unique, and worthy of protection. On National Sanctity of Human Life Day, our country recognizes that each person, including every person waiting to be born, has a special place and purpose in this world. We also underscore our dedication to heeding this message of conscience by speaking up for the weak and voiceless among us.

1st Meditation for Christian Unity Prayer Week

ZE09011802 - 2009-01-18

"We Are a People Who Belong to Christ"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2009 ( Here is a meditation jointly prepared by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches for the first day of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

The week begins today and continues through Jan. 25, the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, Apostle. The theme for 2009 is "That They May Become One in Your Hand" (Ezekiel 37:17).

* * *

Day 1

Christian Communities Face-to-Face With Old and New Divisions

Ezekiel 37:15-19, 22-24a -- "One in your hand"

Psalm 103:8-13, or 18 -- "The Lord is merciful and gracious ... abounding in steadfast love"

1 Corinthians 3:3-7, 21-23 -- "Jealousy and quarrelling among you... you belong to Christ"

John 17:17-21 -- "That they may all be one... so that the world may believe"


Christians are called to be instruments of God's steadfast and reconciling love in a world marked by various kinds of separation and alienation. Baptized in the name of the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, and professing faith in the crucified and risen Christ, we are a people who belong to Christ, a people sent forth to be Christ's body in and for the world. Christ prayed for this for his disciples: May they be one, so that the world may believe.

Divisions between Christians on fundamental matters of faith and Christian discipleship seriously wound our ability to witness before the world. In Korea, as in many other nations, the Christian gospel was brought by conflicting voices, speaking a discordant proclamation of the Good News. There is a temptation to see current divisions, with their accompanying background of conflicts, as a natural legacy of our Christian history, rather than as an internal contradiction of the message that God has reconciled the world in Christ.

Ezekiel's vision of two sticks, inscribed with the names of the divided kingdoms of ancient Israel, becoming one in God's hand, is a powerful image of the power of God to bring about reconciliation, to do for a people entrenched in division what they cannot do for themselves. It is a highly evocative metaphor for divided Christians, prefiguring the source of reconciliation found at the heart of the Christian proclamation itself. On the two pieces of wood, which form the cross of Christ, the Lord of history takes upon himself the wounds and divisions of humanity. In the totality of Jesus' gift of himself on the cross, he holds together human sin and God's redemptive steadfast love. To be a Christian is to be baptized into this death, through which the Lord, in his boundless mercy, etches the names of wounded humanity onto the wood of the cross, holding us to himself and restoring our relationship with God and with each other.

Christian unity is a communion grounded in our belonging to Christ, to God. In being converted ever more to Christ, we find ourselves being reconciled by the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer for Christian unity is an acknowledgement of our trust in God, an opening of ourselves fully to that Spirit. Linked to our other efforts for unity among Christians - dialogue, common witness and mission -- prayer for unity is a privileged instrument through which the Holy Spirit is making that reconciliation in Christ visibly manifest in the world Christ came to save.


God of compassion, you have loved and forgiven us in Christ, and sought to reconcile the entire human race in that redeeming love. Look with favour upon us, who work and pray for the unity of divided Christian communities. Grant us the experience of being brothers and sisters in your love. May we be one, one in your hand. Amen.

--- --- ---

On the Net:

Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity:

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Saint Anthony of Padua

Two Greek philosophers ventured out into the Egyptian desert to the mountain where Anthony lived. When they got there, Anthony asked them why they had come to talk to such a foolish man? He had reason to say that -- they saw before them a man who wore a skin, who refused to bathe, who lived on bread and water. They were Greek, the world's most admired civilization, and Anthony was Egyptian, a member of a conquered nation. They were philosophers, educated in languages and rhetoric. Anthony had not even attended school as a boy and he needed an interpreter to speak to them. In their eyes, he would have seemed very foolish.

But the Greek philosophers had heard the stories of Anthony. They had heard how disciples came from all over to learn from him, how his intercession had brought about miraculous healings, how his words comforted the suffering. They assured him that they had come to him because he was a wise man.

Anthony guessed what they wanted. They lived by words and arguments. They wanted to hear his words and his arguments on the truth of Christianity and the value of ascetism. But he refused to play their game. He told them that if they truly thought him wise, "If you think me wise, become what I am, for we ought to imitate the good. Had I gone to you, I should have imitated you, but, since you have come to me, become what I am, for I am a Christian."

Anthony's whole life was not one of observing, but of becoming. When his parents died when he was eighteen or twenty he inherited their three hundred acres of land and the responsibility for a young sister. One day in church, he heard read Matthew 19:21: "If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me." Not content to sit still and meditate and reflect on Jesus' words he walked out the door of the church right away and gave away all his property except what he and his sister needed to live on. On hearing Matthew 6:34, "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today," he gave away everything else, entrusted his sister to a convent, and went outside the village to live a life of praying, fasting, and manual labor. It wasn't enough to listen to words, he had to become what Jesus said.

Every time he heard of a holy person he would travel to see that person. But he wasn't looking for words of wisdom, he was looking to become. So if he admired a person's constancy in prayer or courtesy or patience, he would imitate it. Then he would return home.

Anthony went on to tell the Greek philosophers that their arguments would never be as strong as faith. He pointed out that all rhetoric, all arguments, no matter how complex, how well-founded, were created by human beings. But faith was created by God. If they wanted to follow the greatest ideal, they should follow their faith.

Anthony knew how difficult this was. Throughout his life he argued and literally wrestled with the devil. His first temptations to leave his ascetic life were arguments we would find hard to resist -- anxiety about his sister, longings for his relatives, thoughts of how he could have used his property for good purposes, desire for power and money. When Anthony was able to resist him, the devil then tried flattery, telling Anthony how powerful Anthony was to beat him. Anthony relied on Jesus' name to rid himself of the devil. It wasn't the last time, though. One time, his bout with the devil left him so beaten, his friends thought he was dead and carried him to church. Anthony had a hard time accepting this. After one particular difficult struggle, he saw a light appearing in the tomb he lived in. Knowing it was God, Anthony called out, "Where were you when I needed you?" God answered, "I was here. I was watching your struggle. Because you didn't give in, I will stay with you and protect you forever."

With that kind of assurance and approval from God, many people would have settled in, content with where they were. But Anthony's reaction was to get up and look for the next challenge -- moving out into the desert.

Anthony always told those who came to visit him that the key to the ascetic life was perseverance, not to think proudly, "We've lived an ascetic life for a long time" but treat each day as if it were the beginning. To many, perseverance is simply not giving up, hanging in there. But to Anthony perseverance meant waking up each day with the same zeal as the first day. It wasn't enough that he had given up all his property one day. What was he going to do the next day?

Once he had survived close to town, he moved into the tombs a little farther away. After that he moved out into the desert. No one had braved the desert before. He lived sealed in a room for twenty years, while his friends provided bread. People came to talk to him, to be healed by him, but he refused to come out. Finally they broke the door down. Anthony emerged, not angry, but calm. Some who spoke to him were healed physically, many were comforted by his words, and others stayed to learn from him. Those who stayed formed what we think of as the first monastic community, though it is not what we would think of religious life today. All the monks lived separately, coming together only for worship and to hear Anthony speak.

But after awhile, too many people were coming to seek Anthony out. He became afraid that he would get too proud or that people would worship him instead of God. So he took off in the middle of the night, thinking to go to a different part of Egypt where he was unknown. Then he heard a voice telling him that the only way to be alone was to go into the desert. He found some Saracens who took him deep into the desert to a mountain oasis. They fed him until his friends found him again.

Anthony died when he was one hundred and five years old. A life of solitude, fasting, and manual labor in the service of God had left him a healthy, vigorous man until very late in life. And he never stopped challenging himself to go one step beyond in his faith.

Saint Athanasius, who knew Anthony and wrote his biography, said, "Anthony was not known for his writings nor for his worldly wisdom, nor for any art, but simply for his reverence toward God." We may wonder nowadays at what we can learn from someone who lived in the desert, wore skins, ate bread, and slept on the ground. We may wonder how we can become him. We can become Anthony by living his life of radical faith and complete commitment to God.

In His Footsteps: Fast for one day, if possible, as Anthony did, eating only bread and only after the sun sets. Pray as you do that God will show you how dependent you are on God for your strength.

Prayer: Saint Anthony, you spoke of the importance of persevering in our faith and our practice. Help us to wake up each day with new zeal for the Christian life and a desire to take the next challenge instead of just sitting still. Amen

Copyright (c) 1996-2000, Terry Matz. All Rights Reserved. Quotations from "Life of St. Anthony" by Saint Athanasius. Translated by Sister Mary Emily Keenan, S.C.N. Copyright 1952 by Fathers of the Early Church, Inc.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

First Things founder Father Richard John Neuhaus dies from cancer


WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Father Richard John Neuhaus, a former Lutheran minister who became a Catholic priest and a staunch defender of church teaching on abortion and other life issues, died Jan. 8. He was 72. Funeral plans were incomplete. The founder and editor in chief of the journal First Things, Father Neuhaus was hospitalized in New York after becoming ill Dec. 26 with a systemic infection, according to a message sent to e-mail contacts and posted on the magazine's Web site. He had been diagnosed with cancer in late November. Father Neuhaus, a native of Pembroke, Ontario, often was invited to lecture and participate in panel discussions on religion in the contemporary world. His views on abortion, stem-cell research, cloning and social issues contributed greatly to Catholic and other religious discourse on politics and society. He also regularly consulted with President George W. Bush on bioethical issues. In 2005 Time magazine named the priest one of the 25 most influential evangelicals in America. The magazine described him as having "a fair amount of under-the-radar influence" within the Bush administration.
Taken from Catholic News Service.

Eternal rest grant unto him, Oh, Lord, and let Your perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace. Amen.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Saint John Henry Neumann

John Neumann was born on March 28, 1811, in Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic. His parents were Philip and Agnes Neumann. He had four sisters and a brother. After college, John entered the seminary. When the time came for his ordination, the bishop was sick and the date was never rescheduled as Bohemia had enough priests at the time. Since he had been reading about missionary activities in the United States, John decided to go to America and request to be ordained there. He walked most of the way to France and then boarded a ship to New York.

John arrived in Manhattan on June 9, 1836, were he was gladly welcomed by Bishop John Dubois, who at that time had only thirty-six priests for the two hundred thousand Catholics living in the state of New York and part of New Jersey. Just sixteen days after his arrival, John was ordained a priest and sent to Buffalo.

Father John established himself in a small log parish house, he hardly ever lit a fire and often lived on only bread and water. He joined the Redemptorist order and continued his missionary work until he was elected bishop of Philadelphia in 1852. As bishop, Neumann built fifty churches and began the constuction of a cathedral. He opened almost one hundred schools, and the number of parochial school students grew from five hundred to nine thousand. He died suddenly on January 5, 1860.

He became the first American bishop to be beatified. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI on June 19, 1977. He is buried in St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.

Taken from

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Feast of the Epiphany


o » Brazilian King's Bread
» Cappelletti all'uso di Romagna
» Dutch King's Bread
» Epiphany Bread
o more
o » Fireside Punch
» Fresh Tomato Sauce
» Galette des Rois
» Gateau des Rois (1)
» Gateau des Rois (2)
» Kings' Bread Ring
» King's Ring
» Lamb's Wool (1)
» Lambs' Wool (2)
» Lamb's Wool, Non-alcoholic (1)
» Little Hats Cappelletti
» Mostarda di Cremona
» Rosca de Reyes
» Spanish King's Bread
» Spanish King's Cake
» Twelfth Cake
» Twelfth Day Cake
» Twelfth Night Bread I
» Twelfth Night Bread II
» Twelfth Night Bread of Lady Carcas
» Twelfth Night Cake
» Twelfth Night Cake
» King's Cake
o » A Children's Party for Twelfth Night
» A Christmas Play
» Celebrating the Feast of the Epiphany
» Christmas and the Eucharist
o more
o » Day Eleven ~ Activities for the Feast of Epiphany
» Epiphany Mass in an Eastern Rite
» Epiphany of Our Lord
» Epiphany Plays for the Family and Community
» Epiphany Suggestions
» Epiphany Vigil
» Epiphany, or the Manifestation of the Lord
» Family and Friends of Jesus Scrapbook Album
» Giving of Presents
» Kings' Party or Twelfth Night Party
» Meaning of Epiphany
» Singing and Acting
» Twelfth Night Cake And Kings
» An Epiphany Drama
» Crib Enthroned for Epiphany
» Epiphany Crib
» Epiphany Gift
» Epiphany Home Ceremony
» Epiphany Mass
» Epiphany Mystery Play
» The Wise Men, An Epiphany Legend
o » Blessing of Epiphany Water and Chalk
» Blessing of the Home on Epiphany
» Procession to the Royal Crib
» Christmas Morning Prayers
o more
o » Christmas Evening Prayers
» Epiphany Prayers
» Epiphany Blessings
» Blessing of Homes During the Christmas and Easter Seasons
» Epiphany Blessing
» Epiphany Prayer
» Epiphany Prayer - 2
o None

Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Epiphany. "The Lord and ruler is coming; kingship is his, and government and power." With these words the Church proclaims that today's feast brings to a perfect fulfillment all the purposes of Advent. Epiphany, therefore, marks the liturgical zenith of the Advent-Christmas season. — Pius Parsch

The Solemnity of the Epiphany is celebrated either on January 6 or, according to the decision of the episcopal conference, on the Sunday between January 2 and January 8. The young Messiah is revealed as the light of the nations. Yet, as the antiphon for the Magnificat at Second Vespers reminds us, three mysteries are encompassed in this solemnity: the adoration of the Christ Child by the Magi, the Baptism of Christ and the wedding feast at Cana. Extra candles and/or lamps may be placed around the sanctuary and in other parts of the church to honor Christ revealed as the Light of the Gentiles (Ceremonial of Bishops). It is customary to replace the images of the shepherds at the crib with the three Magi and their gifts. — Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, Msgr. Peter J. Elliott, Ignatius Press.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus which is kept on the First Sunday in the year; but if this Sunday falls on January 1, 6, or 7, the feast is kept on January 2.

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany
Many traditions and genuine manifestations of popular piety have been developed in relation to the Solemnity of the Lord's Epiphany, which is of ancient origin and rich in spiritual content. Among such forms of popular piety, mention may be made of:

* the solemn proclamation of Easter and the principal dominical feasts; its revival in many places would be opportune since it served to make the connection between the Epiphany and Easter, and orientate all feasts towards the greatest Christian solemnity;

* the exchange of "Epiphany gifts", which derives from the gifts offered to Jesus by the three kings (cf. Mt 2,11) and more radically from the gift made to mankind by God in the birth of Emmanuel amongst us (cf. Is 7, 14; 9, 16; Mt 1, 23). It is important, however, to ensure that the exchange of gifts on the solemnity of the Epiphany retain a Christian character, indicating that its meaning is evangelical: hence the gifts offered should be a genuine expression of popular piety and free from extravagance, luxury, and waste, all of which are extraneous to the Christian origins of this practice;

* the blessing of homes, on whose lintels are inscribed the Cross of salvation, together with the indication of the year and the initials of the three wise men (C+M+B), which can also be interpreted to mean Christus Mansionem Benedicat, written in blessed chalk; this custom, often accompanied by processions of children accompanied by their parents, expresses the blessing of Christ through the intercession of the three wise men and is an occasion for gathering offerings for charitable and missionary purposes;

* initiatives in solidarity with those who come from afar; whether Christian or not, popular piety has encouraged a sense of solidarity and openness;

* assistance to the work of evangelization; the strong missionary character of the Epiphany has been well understood by popular piety and many initiatives in support of the missions flourish on 6 January, especially the "Missionary work of the Holy Child", promoted by the Apostolic See;

* the assignation of Patrons; in many religious communities and confraternities, patron saints are assigned to the members for the coming year.

—#118 Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

Things to Do:

* Read about the Epiphany, or the Manifestation of the Lord.

* For family activities please see the Blessing of Water and Chalk and the Blessing of the Home on Epiphany.

Taken from

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God


The title “Mother of God” goes back to the third or fourth century, but the Greek term Theotokos (“The God-bearer”) was officially consecrated as Catholic doctrine at the Council of Ephesus in 431, thus becoming the first Marina dogma. At the end of the Council of Ephesus, crowds of people marched through the streets shouting: “Praised be the Theotokos!”

This Catholic doctrine is based on the doctrine of Incarnation, as expressed by St. Paul: “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

In its chapter on Mary’s role in the Church, Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution “Lumen Gentium” (“Light of the People”) calls Mary “Mother of God” 12 times.

On this day the Catholic Church also celebrates the World Day of Peace, a tradition established by Pope Paul VI and confirmed by Pope John Paul II.

Taken from