Monday, April 30, 2012

Bleed the Creed

When St. Peter Martyr was on his way to Milan he was attacked by Manichaen heretics by receiving a blow to the head with an ax. Before being stabbed in the heart and dying, he dipped his finger in his own blood and began to write the Creed on the ground: "Credo in Deum". Moments like this are helpful to remember when praying the Creed at Mass - the example of the saints such as this can help us not to zone out, but instead receive it deeper into our hearts.

Friday, April 27, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

So we're gonna start joining in the fun with Jennifer Fulwiler at Conversion Diary for 7 Quick Takes Friday in which we'll give a list of 7 things each Friday to either ponder, laugh with, learn about, rejoice in, etc. - it will be quite random and fun - sort of habnab (which is a word I learned this week meaning "at random, by chance, without order or rule" - I've been using it all week - it's great - you can sound really smart or really dumb because the word does sound weird and fake, but that's part of the fun - I promise it's a real word though).  So back to the 7 Quick Takes:

1.  There are so many reasons to love being Catholic:  here is one.  It's hilarious.  Seriously just click the link.

2.  If you have plans for Monday night from 7:30pm-8:30pm cancel them - your new plan is to bask in the glory of awesome music through the God-given talent of Kevin Heider.  It's free.  It's on the Terraces across the street from CCM.  It's pure fantasticness.  Why would you miss this?  You're not going to miss it, so why would I ask that anyway?  Exactly.

3.  Bishops calling on all Catholics to pray for religious freedom:
The bishops called for “A Fortnight for Freedom,” the two-week period from June 21 to July 4—beginning with the feasts of St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher and ending with Independence Day—to focus “all the energies the Catholic community can muster” for religious liberty. They also asked that, later in the year, the feast of Christ the King be “a day specifically employed by bishops and priests to preach about religious liberty, both here and abroad.”
4.  Check out this post from Marcel about Starbucks and its advocacy for same-sex marriage.

5  Guys, women want a 'crucifixion type love':

6.  Religious are cool.  Especially this one: Sr. Catherine Holum who went from being an Olympic speed skater to a religious sister.  Cool.
7.  Seminarians are cool too. Here are some seminarians from the Diocese of Layfayette-in-Indiana on their way to Destination Jesus which is a teen retreat in that diocese:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

ECHO 2012

Do you know a teen or are you a teen who wants/needs to integrate the Theology of the Body into your life more?  Apply for ECHO 2012:  A Theology of the Body Camp for Teens here and watch this video to get totally psyched about it:

Can I Get A Witness?

"'Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.'...It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus - the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity." - Pope Paul VI

One of my favorite quotes from John Paul II (I have to meet my quota to bring him up in nearly every blog post), is from when he was asked by a reporter why he was going to World Youth Day and he responded, "To greet the martyrs of the third millenium."  'Martyr' is a Greek word that means 'witness'.  Normally when we speak of martyrs we do so in terms of someone shedding their blood for the sake of Christ and the Gospel.  The words of Tertullian continue to echo, 'the blood of marytrs is the seed of Christians'.  But what does that mean?  An effective evangelist is not simply one who tells the Gospel story, but one who lives the Gospel - someone who tells the story by their very lives.  The witness of someone willing to give everything for the sake of the Gospel, by the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, convicts the heart to conversion and transformation.  It is the witness of a life changed by Jesus Christ, filled with the joy of the Spirit - a life that exudes the 'odor of sanctity' - that inspires us to want know to Jesus ourselves. 

The world is in need of witnesses.  Most of us will not be asked to shed our blood for the faith, but we will be asked to shed our pride, our selfishness, our disordered attachments, our jealousy, our sloth, our despair, our sin.  God wants to place new hearts within us that we may be effective witnesses of his resurrection.  By allowing ourselves to be loved by God, to be transformed by his grace, and letting that love overflow to the people we encounter each day with joy and generosity, we will become what John Paul II knew we could be: the martyrs of the third millenium; the witnesses of the New Evangelization.

Read the bishops' new document: Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guess What Today Is?!?!?!?!

Wasn't he a cute kid?!
Today is a very special day in more ways than one - first of all we celebrate the 85th birthday of Pope Benedict - Alles Gute zum Geburtstag as they say in his native German!

And secondly, we celebrate the memorial of a very dear friend and intercessor - St. Drogo.  Haven't heard of him?  Well, then you've come to the right place.  St. Drogo happens to be basically awesome.  Lots of people think so because he has at least 27 patronages, although oddly enough very few have actually heard of him.  One of my many goals in life is to end this tragedy.  One way I will do this is to make a t-shirt, but I digress. 

I know you're on the edge of your seat at this point wanting to know more of this glorious saint of God, so I shall keep you waiting no longer:  St. Drogo lived in the 12th century in northern France and was orphaned as a teenager.  He made many pilgrimages to the Eternal City and was a shepherd to many sheep (literally, as in he hung out with woolen animals in a field).  It is reported that he could bilocate as people claimed to have seen him in the field and attending Mass at the same time.  He somehow got an unsightly physical affliction at some point (we don't really know exactly what or how he got it) and became a hermit consuming only water, barley and the Eucharist for decades.  Further information has been difficult to find such as how he died, what was and how did he get the affliction, and other details of his life.  People who know about St. Drogo tend to associate him and know of him because he is the patron of coffee (why? I dunno - I like to think that he would brew a cup on his pilgrimages by creatively constructing a coffee maker out of leaves, sand and bark), but my love for him has to do with a lesser known and unusual patronage.  Here is a partial list of some of his many patronages:

- coffee
- cattle
- shepherds
- deaf people
- midwives
- against hernias
- against gall stones
- sheep
- unattractive people

St. Drogo and St. Germain Cousin have a lot in common.  For years, friends and I searched high and low for a medal of St. Drogo to wear in his honor - he has always been so good to us - for example, while doing some pro-life work on the road one day and being quite exhausted, we called on St. Drogo's assistance and low and behold a random car pulled up to us and offered us some coffee - the awesomeness of St. Drogo strikes again. But back to the medal issue - searching high and low the world over for a Drogo medal and no beans - it was devastating.  Then it happened.  One of the road-coffee-receivers who shall remain anonymous but for the initials of E.B., discovered the medal which had eluded us all for so long.  You can get your own from the Sisters of Carmel and tell the world about the greatness of this obscure, humble yet noble saint - St. Drogo.  So today join me in celebrating our brother in Christ with a good cup o' joe, a wool sweater, seared lamb and a paper bag.  St. Drogo, truly, you are great.  Ora pro nobis.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Jezu, ufam tobie - Jesus, I trust in you

This weekend we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday as Jesus wanted the Second Sunday of Easter to be instituted in his conversations with St. Faustina.  Bl. John Paul II instituted this feast at St. Faustina's canonization on April 30, 2000.  JPII's life was wrapped in Divine Mercy from his childhood to the very moment he died.  St. Faustina was also from Poland and he would often pray at her tomb.  He had great regard for the message of Divine Mercy and put the message into practice, even to the point of offering forgiveness to his would-be assassin, Mahmet Ali Agca, in a Roman prison cell.  And as if to continue to encourage us to place all our trust in the merciful heart of Jesus, he died on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday, April 2, 2005. 

The message of Jesus spoken to St. Faustina and confirmed throughout the world by John Paul II is to trust in the mercy of Christ as our greatest hope.  God will not refuse the most hardened sinner if he comes to Him with trust in his great mercy.  Jesus said to St. Faustina: "I desire trust from my creatures.  Encourage souls to place great trust in My fathomless mercy.  Let the weak, sinful soul have no fear to approach Me, for even if it had more sins than there are grains of sand in the world, all would be drowned in the unmeasurable depths of My mercy." So in John Paul and Faustina's native language we together say with them: "Jezu, ufam tobie!" "Jesus, I trust in You!"

Excerpts from John Paul II's homily at the canonization of St. Faustina: the Apostles once did, today too humanity must welcome into the upper room of history the risen Christ, who shows the wounds of his Crucifixion and repeats:  Peace be with you! Humanity must let itself be touched and pervaded by the Spirit given to it by the risen Christ. It is the Spirit who heals the wounds of the heart, pulls down the barriers that separate us from God and divide us from one another, and at the same time, restores the joy of the Father's love and of fraternal unity.
In fact, love of God and love of one's brothers and sisters are inseparable, as the First Letter of John has reminded us:  "By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments" (5: 2). Here the Apostle reminds us of the truth of love, showing us its measure and criterion in the observance of the commandments.
It is not easy to love with a deep love, which lies in the authentic gift of self. This love can only be learned by penetrating the mystery of God's love. Looking at him, being one with his fatherly heart, we are able to look with new eyes at our brothers and sisters, with an attitude of unselfishness and solidarity, of generosity and forgiveness. All this is mercy!
Sr Faustina Kowalska wrote in her Diary:  "I feel tremendous pain when I see the sufferings of my neighbours. All my neighbours' sufferings reverberate in my own heart; I carry their anguish in my heart in such a way that it even physically destroys me. I would like all their sorrows to fall upon me, in order to relieve my neighbour" (Diary, p. 365). This is the degree of compassion to which love leads, when it takes the love of God as its measure!
It is this love which must inspire humanity today, if it is to face the crisis of the meaning of life, the challenges of the most diverse needs and, especially, the duty to defend the dignity of every human person. Thus the message of divine mercy is also implicitly a message about the value of every human being. Each person is precious in God's eyes; Christ gave his life for each one; to everyone the Father gives his Spirit and offers intimacy.
"Jesus, I trust in you"... This simple act of abandonment to Jesus dispels the thickest clouds and lets a ray of light penetrate every life.
Read the full text here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

October Baby Coming to Cape!

October Baby will be showing at the Cape West 14 Cine beginning April 13th at the following times:
11:45am, 2pm, 4:35pm, 7pm, 9:25pm, 11:40pm
October Baby is loosely inspired by the true story of Gianna Jessen, who was born alive following a saline abortion attempt.  As a result of the attempted abortion, Gianna was born with cerebal palsy. 
Here is the trailer:

"...the elderly must be considered in their dignity as persons, which does not diminish with the passing years nor with physical and mental deterioration....To address the fact of aging therefore means taking account of the human person who, from birth till death, is a gift of God, his image and imprint. It means to be resolute in ensuring that every moment of human life is lived in dignity and fullness." - Bl. John Paul II

"Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty firmament!  Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his exceeding greatness!  Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp!  Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!  Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!  Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!" - Psalm 150 (I think the Lord likes music, too)

Monday, April 9, 2012

Christus Resurrexit, Resurrexit Vere!

Christ has risen, He has truly risen!

Regina coeli, laetare, alleluia.
Quia quem meruisti portare, alleluia.
Resurrexit, sicut dixit, alleluia.
Ora pro nobis Deum, alleluia.

Queen of heaven, rejoice, alleluia.
For He whom you did merit to bear, alleluia.
Has risen as He said, alleluia.
Pray for us to God, alleluia.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Relic of John Paul II's blood
 This is cool:
Several mothers of the 10 hostages freed by a Colombian rebel group after almost fourteen years in captivity said their sons were liberated thanks to the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.
The mothers told a local Colombian TV station that when the late pontiff’s relics were brought to the country last January, they went to venerate them and to pray for the release of their sons who were kidnapped by the Marxist rebel group FARC in 1998.
The relic consists of a vile of blood taken from Blessed John Paul II when he hospitalized before his death in 2005.
The release of the ten hostages took place on April 2, the seventh anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s death and the mothers said they plan to put their testimonies in writing and send them to the Vatican.
Read the whole story here.

"I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fount of My mercy, that they may draw therefrom strength and refreshment and whatever graces they need in the hardships of life and, especially, at the hour of death. 
On each day you will bring to My Heart a different group of souls, and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy, and I will bring all these souls into the house of My Father. You will do this in this life and in the next.  I will deny nothing to any soul whom you will bring to the fount of My mercy.  On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My bitter Passion, for graces for these souls."
Those are the words Jesus spoke to St. Faustina when he requested that she begin a novena to his Divine Mercy.  This novena lasts from Good Friday to the Second Sunday of Easter, now known as Divine Mercy Sunday.  The novena consists in praying for particular people as listed in the novena followed by the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  Click here if you would like to pray the novena which begins tomorrow. 

I hope I get one of these on Sunday:

Somebody made a six foot, 510 pound chocolate Easter egg for Papa B.  I totally want one. 

Btw, I hear he's donating it to some kids. 
Pope Benedict's homily at the Mass of the Lord's Supper in Rome tonight is A-mazing.  Here's an excerpt:
The stance of Adam was: not what you, O God, have desired; rather, I myself want to be a god. This pride is the real essence of sin. We think we are free and truly ourselves only if we follow our own will. God appears as the opposite of our freedom. We need to be free of him – so we think – and only then will we be free. This is the fundamental rebellion present throughout history and the fundamental lie which perverts life. When human beings set themselves against God, they set themselves against the truth of their own being and consequently do not become free, but alienated from themselves. We are free only if we stand in the truth of our being, if we are united to God. Then we become truly “like God” – not by resisting God, eliminating him, or denying him. In his anguished prayer on the Mount of Olives, Jesus resolved the false opposition between obedience and freedom, and opened the path to freedom. Let us ask the Lord to draw us into this “yes” to God’s will, and in this way to make us truly free. Amen.
Read the full text here.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Reflections on the Seven Last Words

Last year around Holy Week reflections on the last words of Christ were provided on the blog.  If you would like to reflect upon them once more, you can do so by clicking on any of the following:

"Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."
"Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise."
"Woman, behold your son; son, behold your mother."
"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me."
"I thirst."
"It is finished."
"Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
On April 21, Bishop Johnston will travel to Mexico City to the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe with religious sisters who serve in our diocese who are members of the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for the beatification of their foundress, Mother Maria Ines Teresa Arias.  Cardinal Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, will preside over the beatification.  The sisters will share about their experience during the trip the last Sunday in April at Sacred Heart Parish in Poplar Bluff.  Following is information about the miracle that paved the way for the beatification:
Francisco Javier Carrilo Guzman was completely healed of brain damage after nearly drowning in a pool in Guadalajara, Mexico, on June 17, 2001.
Doctors had given him little chance of surviving the severe asphyxiation that damaged his brain. The baby's family prayed to Mother Arias, and further examinations by doctors showed that his brain damage had completely disappeared without leaving any scars or neurological side-effects.
Read the rest here.

What Real Men Look Like:

These are the seminarians of the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, Ohio praying outside of an abortion clinic on March 17.  According to the college's website:
A group of seminarians prays every Saturday at a local clinic; they are joined by the entire seminary community and the rector, who leads the Rosary, once each semester.
Powerful witness.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Viva il Papa

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the death of John Paul II on April 2, 2005 at 9:37pm Rome time. I vividly remember the days leading up to his death and the moment when I found out that he had gone to the 'house of the Father' as he himself put it.  I was at Franciscan Univesity during the time and it was an intensely emotional and transcendent experience.  Even as I recall John Paul and and the days preceding and following his death I've been getting teary-eyed all morning because the effect he had on my life and the memory of those moments are so great.  An incredibly vast number of people feel the same way I do of course because his prayer life was so intense and central to his life that he was able to radiate Christ to the whole world in a way that only a few have been able to do.  His legacy is absolutely marked by his interior life and the courage he had in entering into it. 

In the video below a commentator mentions that during the final Holy Week of his life he was noticably absent from the Triduum celebrations, not physically being able to celebrate the Via Crucis or the Masses - he had to remain in his apartment to watch it all unfold on television.  On a deeper level though I would argue that it was that Holy Week in which he was most profoundly near.  During Holy Week we are all called to unite our sufferings to the Lord's cross in a particular way and John Paul knew the rich value of suffering when united to Jesus.  His entire life was one of amazing fruitfulness, but upon reflection it would seem that the last two weeks of his life were the most fecund.  Just as Jesus suffered the mockery and jeers to 'come off the cross' but chose to remain on it until the end out of love, so in following in his Master's footsteps, John Paul II remained on the cross until the end allowing God to pour grace upon the world through the union of his suffering with that of the Lord's. 

John Paul II is an example of a life lived to the fullest, a life that is lived completely out of love for God and others, an example of how one man can profoundly change the life of another person.  His papacy continues to have just as much of an effect on people now as it did when he was alive.  The chants of "Magnus! Magnus!" at his funeral still reverberate today as we recall that he really was great.

In his first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, he wrote:
Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it. This, as has already been said, is why Christ the Redeemer "fully reveals man to himself". If we may use the expression, this is the human dimension of the mystery of the Redemption. In this dimension man finds again the greatness, dignity and value that belong to his humanity. In the mystery of the Redemption man becomes newly "expressed" and, in a way, is newly created. He is newly created! "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus". The man who wishes to understand himself thoroughly-and not just in accordance with immediate, partial, often superficial, and even illusory standards and measures of his being-he must with his unrest, uncertainty and even his weakness and sinfulness, with his life and death, draw near to Christ. He must, so to speak, enter into him with all his own self, he must "appropriate" and assimilate the whole of the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption in order to find himself. If this profound process takes place within him, he then bears fruit not only of adoration of God but also of deep wonder at himself. How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator, if he "gained so great a Redeemer", and if God "gave his only Son "in order that man "should not perish but have eternal life".
By allowing himself to be loved by Christ and reciprocally loving Him in return through an intense life of prayer and gift, John Paul was able to live out this message. 

If you have time I encourage you to watch this video all the way through.  You'll notice that when they are interviewing Cardinal Dziwisz toward the beginning that he takes them into the private Chapel in Krakow and points out a desk to the reporter.  I'll let you take a guess about which document you think John Paul wrote upon that desk: