Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Word Became Flesh

Pope Benedict on the meaning of Christmas at today's general audience:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As Christmas approaches, I offer prayerful good wishes to you and your families for a spiritually fruitful celebration of the Lord's birth.
At Midnight Mass, we sing: 'Today a Saviour is born for us'.  This 'Today' evokes an eternal present, for the mystery of Christ's coming transcends time and permeates all history.  'Today' - every day - we are invited to discover the presence of God's saving love in our midst.
In the birth of Jesus, God comes to us and asks us to receive him, so that he can be born in our lives and transform them, and our world, by the power of his love.
The Christmas liturgy also invites us to contemplate Christ's birth against the backdrop of his paschal mystery.  Christmas points beyond itself, to the redemption won for us on the Cross and the glory of the Resurrection. 
May this Christmas fill you with joy in the knowledge that God has drawn near to us and is with us at every moment of our lives.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More Retreat Opportunities

Another retreat opportunity for you young ladies out there before the spring semester rolls around:
"Ecce Venio" -- Behold, I Come
January 13-15, 2012
Deepen your relationship with Jesus Christ through a weekend focused on HIM with the Carmelite Sisters of the Divine Heart of Jesus. Retreatants will have the opportunity to join in the prayer life of the Sisters, hear talks given on the theme, and connect and share with other young women who desire to grow in holiness.
These retreats are for single, Catholic women, age 17-29, who want to grow in holiness and would enjoy getting to know the sisters.
Click here for more info.
Wanna learn more about the Catholic faith? Newman Connection has an excellent resource of free video classes:  one is a series on the new youth catechism, YouCat; and one is a series developed at the Vanderbilt Newman Center called the Institute for Advancing Catholic Thought and Studies or iFACTS, which provides academically engaging discussion on various topics.  Again, the courses are free, so all you have to do is go to the Newman Connection website, log in to access all the videos and start watching. 

Click here to see a sample video of the YouCat series - this particular video features Fr. Tony Stephens of the Fathers of Mercy who has visited our CCM.
Click here to see a sample video of the iFACTS series.

Monday, December 19, 2011

O - it's an important letter

December 17th began the week-long countdown until Christmas - during the final days of Advent you find the 'O' Antiphons present in the liturgy (an antiphon is basically a repeated verse - think of the Responsorial Psalm at Mass - the verse that the congregation repeats is an antiphon).  These are the antiphons that begin and end the Magnificat in Vespers during the final days of Advent and are called the 'O' Antiphons simply because they all begin with 'O', and are verses invoking titles of Christ as you can see from the Breviary:

Dec. 17th:  O Wisdom, O holy Word of God, you govern all creation with your strong yet tender care.  Come and show your people the way to salvation.

Dec. 18th:  O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:  come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.

Dec. 19th:  O Flower of Jesse's stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you.  Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid.

Dec. 20th:  O Key of David, O royal power of Israel controlling at your will the gate of heaven:  come, break down the prison walls of death for those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death; and lead your captive people into freedom.

Dec. 21st:  O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light, sun of justice:  come, shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Dec. 22nd:  O King of all the nations, the only joy of every human heart; O Keystone of the mighty arch of man, come and save the creature you fashioned from the dust. 

Dec. 23rd:  O Emmanuel, king and lawgiver, desire of the nations, Savior of all people, come and set us free, Lord our God.

In Latin the titles are Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix Jesse (Root of Jesse), Clavis David (Key of David), Oriens (Dawn), Rex Gentium (King of the nations).

Here is a resource with scriptural citations of each of the titles and the Latin text of the antiphons followed by a good English translation - and you can hear the Latin antiphon chanted (which is awesome!) by clicking on the speaker icon.
Fr Z. has more detailed info on the O Antiphons here.

After reading the O Antiphons, you see the significance of a familiar hymn:

Come, O come, Emmanuel,
and ransom captive Israel,
that mourns in lonely exile here
until the Son of God appear.

Chorus: Rejoice! Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

O come, Thou Wisdom, from on high,
and order all things far and nigh;
to us the path of knowledge show,
and teach us in her ways to go.

O come, o come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai's height
in ancient times did give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse's stem,
from ev'ry foe deliver them
that trust Thy mighty power to save,
and give them vict'ry o'er the grave.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
and open wide our heav'nly home,
make safe the way that leads on high,
that we no more have cause to sigh.

O come, Thou Dayspring from on high,
and cheer us by thy drawing nigh;
disperse the gloomy clouds of night
and death's dark shadow put to flight.

O come, Desire of the nations, bind
in one the hearts of all mankind;
bid every strife and quarrel cease
and fill the world with heaven's peace.
Hymn lyrics from fisheaters.

Congrats to our graduates!

When the Saints Go Marchin' In...

Pope Benedict will soon be declaring seven new saints of the Holy Church, two of which lived in the United States: Bl. Maria Anna Cope and Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha.
The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato S.D.B., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and authorised the promulgation of decrees concerning the following causes:
 - Blessed Giovanni Battista Piamarta, Italian priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth and of the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord (1841-1913).
 - Blessed Jacques Berthieu, French martyr and priest of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) (1838-1896).
 - Blessed Maria del Carmen (born Maria Salles y Barangueras), Spanish foundress of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching (1848-1911).
 - Blessed Maria Anna Cope, nee Barbara, German religious of the Sisters of the Third Order of St. Francis in Syracuse U.S.A. (1838-1918).
 - Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, American laywoman (1656-1680).
 - Blessed Pedro Calungsod, Filipino lay catechist and martyr (1654-1672).
 - Blessed Anna Schaffer, German laywoman (1882-1925).

Read it all here.

Bl. Maria Anna (or Marianne) Cope was a religious sister who travelled from Syracuse, N.Y. to Molokai, HI to care for the lepers who were once under the care of St. Damian of Molokai.  Apparently Hawaii is a holy place to be. :)  Read the Vatican biographical listing of Bl. Marianne Cope here.

Bl. Kateri Tekakwitha is a Native American who converted to Catholicism and became a consecrated laywoman in upper New York - huh, both of these women are from from upper NY, apparently New York is also a holy place to be.  Who'da thunk? :) Read more about Bl. Kateri here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Need a Retreat?

Click here to register for this retreat with the Sisters.

Mark Your Calendar for WYD 2013

From EWTN News:
The Pontifical Council for the Laity has confirmed that World Youth Day 2013 will take place in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro from July 23-28.
The announcement was made on the official website for the event,, and by Archbishop Orani Joao Tempesta of Rio de Janeiro via Twitter, after organizers met with members of the council Rome on Dec. 12.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Go Sheen Go!

Exciting news from just over the river (I mean, I can basically see Illinois from my office, ha):
Official tribunal documents were sealed at the Mass by Bishop Daniel R. Jenky of Peoria and Monsignor Stanley Deptula. Msgr. Deptula is the executive director of the Archbishop Fulton Sheen Foundation, which is the official promoter of the archbishop’s cause for sainthood.
The documents will now be shipped to the Vatican for consideration.
If the alleged miracle is approved by the Pope, U.S. Catholics could witness the first ever beatification on American soil in the Diocese of Peoria, said the foundation.
Read the whole article here.

This guy is one of my heroes.  He was able to explain the faith in a compelling, attractive, beautiful and simple manner that drew people to love being Catholic - and he was hilarious and laughter is a great way to evangelize. He had an amazing blend of being light-hearted yet when it came to truth he was absolutely unwavering.  I think of this as 'uncompromising joy of the Lord'.  He was very passionate in preaching and catechizing - you can hear in his voice how much he truly believed every word he was saying.  Here are clips from an episode of one his tv shows that demonstrates both his humor and his zeal:

Check out this clip too from when he appeared on a game show in the 50s.

I highly encourage you to read his books as well. I love reading Sheen - he is easy to understand but writes some really profound material at the same time.  My favorite book by him is The World's First Love which is about the Blessed Mother.  Another favorite is Three to Get Married.  You can go here for a further listing of books.  Learn more about Archbishop Sheen at this website.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wisdom from Papa B

"A candle can only give light if it lets itself be consumed by the flame. It would remain useless if its wax failed to nourish the fire. Allow Christ to burn in you, even at the cost of sacrifice and renunciation. Do not be afraid that you might lose something and, so to speak, emerge empty-handed at the end. Have the courage to apply your talents and gifts for God’s kingdom and to give yourselves – like candlewax – so that the Lord can light up the darkness through you. Dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world.... “You are the light of the world”. Where God is, there is a future! Amen." - Address of Pope Benedict XVI to young people, September 24, 2011 in Germany
More awesomeness about JPII the Great (created by a fellow Steubie alum) :)

John Paul II: The Man, The Pope, And His Message - DVD series trailer from Tim Evans on Vimeo.

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas.  She is amazingly awesome! The story of Our Lady of Guadalupe is truly miraculous in many different ways.  On December 9th, 1531 she appeared to a humble convert, St. Juan Diego, whose feast day was last Friday, on Tepeyac hill near what is now Mexico City. She requested that a chapel be built at the site. She appeared to Juan Diego four times.  When he went to the bishop to make Our Lady's request known, the bishop was skeptical and requested proof from Juan Diego.  Juan Diego then saw Our Lady on December 12th and as proof for the bishop she told him to gather some nearby roses - this is significant because roses should not have been blooming during this time of the year. Our Lady arranged the roses in Juan Diego's tilma, similar to a tunic or cloak, and Juan Diego went to the bishop to show him the roses.  When Juan Diego opened his tilma to reveal the roses the miraculous image of Our Lady was on his tilma. 

Today you can travel to Mexico City with millions of other pilgrims to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to pray in the church which Our Lady requested be built and to see the actual tilma, which has lasted 480 years.  The image itself has had many scientific tests proving that the image is not painted on nor is it embedded into the fibers.  The image is rich in meaning.  During the time of the apparitions most of the people of Mexico were indigenous who worshipped false gods.  Many worshipped the sun, the moon, the stars, etc. and performed human sacrifice.  Our Lady stands in front of the sun and upon the moon with a cloak of stars signifying to the people that she is greater than all these.  She is the crown of all God's creation.  She also stands with her head bowed and hands folded in prayer showing that there is One greater than she - the true God.  The ribbon around her waist is a sign to the Aztec people that she is with Child. All of these are signifcant not only as signs to the Aztec culture, but also to all the world as we read the following from the Book of Revelation:
And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; she was with child and she cried out in her pangs of birth, in anguish for delivery...And the dragon stood before the woman who was brought about to bear a child, that he might devour her child when she brought it forth; she brought forth a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron...
In a very short time following the apparitions, Mexico was converted and human sacrifice as they knew it ceased.  For this reason, Our Lady of Guadalupe is also known as the patroness of the unborn.  There are many more miraculous things associated with the image itself - for example, if examined closely you can see reflections of St. Juan Diego, the bishop and others reflected in her eyes.  Our Lady of Guadalupe is loved by many - this is certainly one of my favorite titles of Our Lady.

Our Lady said to Juan Diego:
Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that frightens you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing: do not let it disturb you.  Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?  Are you not under my shadow and protection?  Am I not the source of your joy?  Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms?  Do you need something more?  Let nothing else worry you or disturb you.
Jesus listens to the prayers of His Mother and we can fly to her for intercession, confident that she will bring our petitions and praises to her Son.

I barely skimmed the surface of the story, so if you want to learn more please check out the following resources:

Pierced Hearts
Catholic Education Resource Center
Franciscan Friars of the Renewal
Book: Our Lady of Guadalupe: Mother of the Civilization of Love

Advent and the Lordship of Jesus

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Talking Eagle

Today is the feast of St. Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin (don't ask me how to pronounce it). :)
St. Juan Diego is the native to whom Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared in 1531.  The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is on Monday, so I'll wait til then to highlight information about her specifically.  St. Juan Diego was a convert and was a simple and humble man.  Here is a part of his biographical listing from the Vatican:
Juan Diego was born in 1474 with the name "Cuauhtlatoatzin" ("the talking eagle") in Cuautlitlán, today part of Mexico City, Mexico. He was a gifted member of the Chichimeca people, one of the more culturally advanced groups living in the Anáhuac Valley.
When he was 50 years old he was baptized by a Franciscan priest, Fr Peter da Gand, one of the first Franciscan missionaries. On 9 December 1531, when Juan Diego was on his way to morning Mass, the Blessed Mother appeared to him on Tepeyac Hill, the outskirts of what is now Mexico City. She asked him to go to the Bishop and to request in her name that a shrine be built at Tepeyac, where she promised to pour out her grace upon those who invoked her. The Bishop, who did not believe Juan Diego, asked for a sign to prove that the apparition was true. On 12 December, Juan Diego returned to Tepeyac. Here, the Blessed Mother told him to climb the hill and to pick the flowers that he would find in bloom. He obeyed, and although it was winter time, he found roses flowering. He gathered the flowers and took them to Our Lady who carefully placed them in his mantle and told him to take them to the Bishop as "proof". When he opened his mantle, the flowers fell on the ground and there remained impressed, in place of the flowers, an image of the Blessed Mother, the apparition at Tepeyac.
With the Bishop's permission, Juan Diego lived the rest of his life as a hermit in a small hut near the chapel where the miraculous image was placed for veneration. Here he cared for the church and the first pilgrims who came to pray to the Mother of Jesus.
Much deeper than the "exterior grace" of having been "chosen" as Our Lady's "messenger", Juan Diego received the grace of interior enlightenment and from that moment, he began a life dedicated to prayer and the practice of virtue and boundless love of God and neighbour. He died in 1548 and was buried in the first chapel dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe. He was beatified on 6 May 1990 by Pope John Paul II in the Basilica of Santa Maria di Guadalupe, Mexico City.
Read the rest here.

Bl. Pope John Paul the Great canonized Juan Diego on July 31, 2002.  This is a fascinating account of the  miracle that propelled Juan Diego to sainthood. 

Knights of Columbus Street

Congrats to the Knights of Columbus on their new street in Rome:
The Knights of Columbus now have a street to call their own in the Eternal City after Largo Cavalieri di Colombo was inaugurated on Dec. 6.
“It is indeed an honor to share this wonderful occasion of the groundbreaking of the Largo Cavalieri di Colombo,” said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson at the unveiling ceremony for Rome’s newest street sign.
The Knights do an amazing amount of generous work and charity for those in need from disaster relief, defending the unborn, and supporting the Church to building orphanages, assisting the sick and disabled, cultivating cultural renewal and much more.  They have a very far-reaching effect both in the United States and beyond including Mexico, Europe and many third world countries.
The naming of the street, which is situated next to Rome’s historic Baths of Caracalla, recognizes over 90 years of charitable involvement by the Knights in the Italian capital.
In the wake of the First World War, Pope Benedict XV asked the Knights to provide activities for the children of Rome. Today, the Knights still run five free sports centers for kids across the city.
The historic bond between the Knights and Rome “is a strong one,” explained Carl Anderson, “precisely because it has been tested and because it has survived each test.”
“It has been able to do this because it has been based on faith, on our common Catholic faith shared on both sides of the Atlantic,” he said. 
Read the rest here.

Please support your parish Knights of Columbus Council and, for all you men out there, consider becoming a Knight.  We are blessed to have college Knights of Columbus Council here at CCM, so we thank all our college Knights from Council #15294! 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Glorious things are spoken of you, O Mary...

Today is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception in which we celebrate the singular grace of God in the life of Our Lady, keeping her free from the stain of original sin from the moment of her conception and free from personal sin her whole life. 

St. Irenaeus said, "The knot of Eve's disobedience was untied by Mary's obedience..." 
But isn't our salvation brought about through Christ, you may ask.  The answer is yes. Then how does the above quote from St. Irenaeus make sense?  I'm glad you asked - it's actually quite simple and I direct you here to the post about this feast day from last year to read more.

I briefly want to mention a part of Fr. Suresh's homily from the Vigil Mass tonight because it was so awesome.  I'm paraphrasing, but this was the gist of what I would like to highlight:
Eating of the fruit of the tree in the Garden of Eden brought death to humanity, but eating of the fruit of the tree of the cross brings life, eternal life; and the fruit of the cross is none other than the very Body and Blood of Jesus Christ and so he commands, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink." - John 6: 53-55. 

Wow, God knows what He's doing.

May the Sacrament we have received, O Lord our God, heal in us the wounds of that fault from which in a singular way you preserved Blessed Mary in her Immaculate Conception.  Through Christ our Lord. (Today's Prayer after Communion)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Real "Santa Claus"

The story of "Santa Claus" has its roots in a real person, real bishop and real saint - St. Nicholas of Myra. St. Nicholas was a Catholic bishop in the 4th century and was persecuted under the emperor Diocletian.  He was known for many miracles, his generosity and his defense of the Incarnation.  He possibly participated in the Council of Nicaea in 325 from which the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed was developed. His feast day is December 6th.

Here are some websites with further information about St. Nicholas:
New Advent
St. Nicholas Center

Happy Feast of St. Nicholas!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Christ Counts On You

"...your lives cannot be lived in isolation, and even in deciding your future you must always keep in mind your responsibility as Christians towards others. There is no place in your lives for apathy or indifference to the world around you. There is no place in the Church for selfishness.

You must show a conscientious concern that the standards of society fit the plan of God. Christ counts on you, so that the effects of his Holy Spirit may radiate from you to others and in that way permeate every aspect of the public and the private sector of national life. “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good”.

Do not let the sight of the world in turmoil shake your confidence in Jesus....Remember his words: “Be brave: I have conquered the world”. Let no temptation discourage you. Let no failure hold you down. There is nothing that you cannot master with the help of the One who gives you strength."

- Bl. Pope John Paul II the Great to the young people of Scotland, May 31, 1982

Are Doctrines and Ethics Connected?