Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pope's Procession into Yankee stadium-











Here are just a few images that we took when we attended the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium. Two are of the Holy Father processing into the stadium in his pope-mobile. The other is a picture of the concelebrating priests and the crowd of 57,000. I have much to say, but I don't have the time, or the capacity to write right now. =D

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pope Benedict XVI's Address To Seminarians

Your Eminence,Dear Brother Bishops,Dear Young Friends,

"Proclaim the Lord Christ … and always have your answer ready for people who ask the reason for the hope that is within you" (1 Pet 3:15). With these words from the First Letter of Peter I greet each of you with heartfelt affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his kind words of welcome and I also thank the representatives chosen from among you for their gestures of welcome. To Bishop Walsh, Rector of Saint Joseph Seminary, staff and seminarians, I offer my special greetings and gratitude.
Young friends, I am very happy to have the opportunity to speak with you. Please pass on my warm greetings to your family members and relatives, and to the teachers and staff of the various schools, colleges and universities you attend. I know that many people have worked hard to ensure that our gathering could take place. I am most grateful to them all. Also, I wish to acknowledge your singing to me Happy Birthday! Thank you for this moving gesture; I give you all an "A plus" for your German pronunciation! This evening I wish to share with you some thoughts about being disciples of Jesus Christ ? walking in the Lord's footsteps, our own lives become a journey of hope.
In front of you are the images of six ordinary men and women who grew up to lead extraordinary lives. The Church honors them as Venerable, Blessed, or Saint: each responded to the Lord's call to a life of charity and each served him here, in the alleys, streets and suburbs of New York. I am struck by what a remarkably diverse group they are: poor and rich, lay men and women - one a wealthy wife and mother - priests and sisters, immigrants from afar, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior father and Algonquin mother, another a Haitian slave, and a Cuban intellectual.
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Padre Felix Varela: any one of us could be among them, for there is no stereotype to this group, no single mold. Yet a closer look reveals that there are common elements. Inflamed with the love of Jesus, their lives became remarkable journeys of hope. For some, that meant leaving home and embarking on a pilgrim journey of thousands of miles. For each there was an act of abandonment to God, in the confidence that he is the final destination of every pilgrim. And all offered an outstretched hand of hope to those they encountered along the way, often awakening in them a life of faith. Through orphanages, schools and hospitals, by befriending the poor, the sick and the marginalized, and through the compelling witness that comes from walking humbly in the footsteps of Jesus, these six people laid open the way of faith, hope and charity to countless individuals, including perhaps your own ancestors.
And what of today? Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the streets of New York, in the troubled neighborhoods of large cities, in the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can trust? God is our origin and our destination, and Jesus the way. The path of that journey twists and turns ? just as it did for our saints ? through the joys and the trials of ordinary, everyday life: within your families, at school or college, during your recreation activities, and in your parish communities. All these places are marked by the culture in which you are growing up. As young Americans you are offered many opportunities for personal development, and you are brought up with a sense of generosity, service and fairness. Yet you do not need me to tell you that there are also difficulties: activities and mindsets which stifle hope, pathways which seem to lead to happiness and fulfillment but in fact end only in confusion and fear.
My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew - infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion - before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.
Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just.
The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi, 6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father "you have restored us to life!" (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world, but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart! dispel the darkness of our minds! (cf. Prayer at the Lighting of the Easter Candle).
What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation - especially of girls and women. While the causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects ? a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other hands - your hands - reaching out. I encourage you to invite others, especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way of goodness and hope.
The second area of darkness - that which affects the mind - often goes unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.
Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth's place - or better said its absence - an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism. But what purpose has a "freedom" which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ's very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).
How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom which brings fulfillment and lasting happiness? Let us again turn to the saints. How did their witness truly free others from the darkness of heart and mind? The answer is found in the kernel of their faith; the kernel of our faith. The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They recognize Herod's dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter: "Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light of the world … inflame us with your hope!" (Blessing of the Fire). And so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of Christ among us. It is "the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride" (Exsultet). This is Christ's light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a magnificent vision of hope - Christ's light beckons you to be guiding stars for others, walking Christ's way of forgiveness, reconciliation, humility, joy and peace.
At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt the strength of Christ's radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience of God's presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend, the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.
Dear friends, the example of the saints invites us, then, to consider four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith: personal prayer and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations.
What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and should "pray constantly" (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we turn towards God and through him to each other, including the marginalized and those following ways other than God's path (cf. Spe Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed at every step of their journey for others.
There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God's revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we have heard and seen (cf. 1 Jn 1:2-3; Dei Verbum, 1). Have we perhaps lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear God's whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.
In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy means the participation of God's people in "the work of Christ the Priest and of His Body which is the Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ's Passion, his Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension - what we call the Paschal Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this "work of Jesus" is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the "work of Jesus" is continually brought into contact with history; with our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then that the Church's liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world - saints and sinners alike - open to God; this is the truly human hope we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).
Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church's liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 12). The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ's eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.
Dear young people, finally I wish to share a word about vocations. First of all my thoughts go to your parents, grandparents and godparents. They have been your primary educators in the faith. By presenting you for baptism, they made it possible for you to receive the greatest gift of your life. On that day you entered into the holiness of God himself. You became adoptive sons and daughters of the Father. You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling place of his Spirit. Let us pray for mothers and fathers throughout the world, particularly those who may be struggling in any way - socially, materially, spiritually. Let us honor the vocation of matrimony and the dignity of family life. Let us always appreciate that it is in families that vocations are given life.
Gathered here at Saint Joseph Seminary, I greet the seminarians present and indeed encourage all seminarians throughout America. I am glad to know that your numbers are increasing! The People of God look to you to be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 33). Dear seminarians, I pray for you daily. Remember that what counts before the Lord is to dwell in his love and to make his love shine forth for others.
Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests contribute greatly to the mission of the Church. Their prophetic witness is marked by a profound conviction of the primacy with which the Gospel shapes Christian life and transforms society. Today, I wish to draw your attention to the positive spiritual renewal which Congregations are undertaking in relation to their charism. The word charism means a gift freely and graciously given. Charisms are bestowed by the Holy Spirit, who inspires founders and foundresses, and shapes Congregations with a subsequent spiritual heritage. The wondrous array of charisms proper to each Religious Institute is an extraordinary spiritual treasury. Indeed, the history of the Church is perhaps most beautifully portrayed through the history of her schools of spirituality, most of which stem from the saintly lives of founders and foundresses. Through the discovery of charisms, which yield such a breadth of spiritual wisdom, I am sure that some of you young people will be drawn to a life of apostolic or contemplative service. Do not be shy to speak with Religious Brothers, Sisters or Priests about the charism and spirituality of their Congregation. No perfect community exists, but it is fidelity to a founding charism, not to particular individuals, that the Lord calls you to discern. Have courage! You too can make your life a gift of self for the love of the Lord Jesus and, in him, of every member of the human family (cf. Vita Consecrata, 3).
Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord. Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the Church's liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ's disciples today. Shine his light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that sets you free. With these sentiments of great hope in you I bid you farewell, until we meet again in Sydney this July for World Youth Day! And as a pledge of my love for you and your families, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

HOMILY OF POPE BENEDICT XVI

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,In the Gospel we have just heard, Jesus tells his Apostles to put their faith in him, for he is "the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6). Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom. Let us take the Lord at his word! Let us renew our faith in him and put all our hope in his promises!

With this encouragement to persevere in the faith of Peter (cf. Lk 22:32; Mt 16:17), I greet all of you with great affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his cordial words of welcome in your name. At this Mass, the Church in the United States celebrates the two hundredth anniversary of the creation of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville from the mother See of Baltimore. The presence around this altar of the Successor of Peter, his brother bishops and priests, and deacons, men and women religious, and lay faithful from throughout the fifty states of the Union, eloquently manifests our communion in the Catholic faith which comes to us from the Apostles.

Our celebration today is also a sign of the impressive growth which God has given to the Church in your country in the past two hundred years. From a small flock like that described in the first reading, the Church in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor. In this land of freedom and opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of American society as a whole.

This great accomplishment was not without its challenges. Today's first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks of linguistic and cultural tensions already present within the earliest Church community. At the same time, it shows the power of the word of God, authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human limitations and weakness. Here we are reminded of a fundamental truth: that the Church's unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper unity which, in Christ, is God's indefectible gift to his Church.The first reading also makes clear, as we see from the imposition of hands on the first deacons, that the Church's unity is "apostolic". It is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles whom Christ chose and appointed as witnesses to his resurrection, and it is born of what the Scriptures call "the obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; cf. Acts 6:7).

"Authority" … "obedience". To be frank, these are not easy words to speak nowadays. Words like these represent a "stumbling stone" for many of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus Christ - "the way and the truth and the life" - we come to see the fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love. Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves (cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love, infinite freedom, infinite life. "In his will is our peace".

Real freedom, then, is God's gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32). And this freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing reality. When we put on "the mind of Christ" (cf. Phil 2:5), new horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a leaven of the Gospel in the world. We become the light of the world, the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14), entrusted with the "apostolate" of making our own lives, and the world in which we live, conform ever more fully to God's saving plan.

This magnificent vision of a world being transformed by the liberating truth of the Gospel is reflected in the description of the Church found in today's second reading. The Apostle tells us that Christ, risen from the dead, is the keystone of a great temple which is even now rising in the Spirit. And we, the members of his body, through Baptism have become "living stones" in that temple, sharing in the life of God by grace, blessed with the freedom of the sons of God, and empowered to offer spiritual sacrifices pleasing to him (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). And what is this offering which we are called to make, if not to direct our every thought, word and action to the truth of the Gospel and to harness all our energies in the service of God's Kingdom? Only in this way can we build with God, on the one foundation which is Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3:11). Only in this way can we build something that will truly endure. Only in this way can our lives find ultimate meaning and bear lasting fruit.

Today we recall the bicentennial of a watershed in the history of the Church in the United States: its first great chapter of growth. In these two hundred years, the face of the Catholic community in your country has changed greatly. We think of the successive waves of immigrants whose traditions have so enriched the Church in America. We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the Church in this land. We think also of those countless fathers and mothers who passed on the faith to their children, the steady ministry of the many priests who devoted their lives to the care of souls, and the incalculable contribution made by so many men and women religious, who not only taught generations of children how to read and write, but also inspired in them a lifelong desire to know God, to love him and to serve him. How many "spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God" have been offered up in these two centuries! In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith, but also to participate fully in civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public square and cooperating with their neighbors in shaping a vibrant, democratic society. Today's celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.

"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people he claims for his own, to proclaim his glorious works" (1 Pet 2:9). These words of the Apostle Peter do not simply remind us of the dignity which is ours by God's grace; they also challenge us to an ever greater fidelity to the glorious inheritance which we have received in Christ (cf. Eph 1:18). They challenge us to examine our consciences, to purify our hearts, to renew our baptismal commitment to reject Satan and all his empty promises. They challenge us to be a people of joy, heralds of the unfailing hope (cf. Rom 5:5) born of faith in God's word, and trust in his promises.

Each day, throughout this land, you and so many of your neighbors pray to the Father in the Lord's own words: "Thy Kingdom come". This prayer needs to shape the mind and heart of every Christian in this nation. It needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your lives and in the way you build up your families and your communities. It needs to create new "settings of hope" (cf. Spe Salvi, 32ff.) where God's Kingdom becomes present in all its saving power.

Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ's victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, "there is no human activity - even in secular affairs - which can be withdrawn from God's dominion" (Lumen Gentium, 36). It means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives.

And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As "a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation", follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God's Kingdom in this land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise!

Yesterday, not far from here, I was moved by the joy, the hope and the generous love of Christ which I saw on the faces of the many young people assembled in Dunwoodie. They are the Church's future, and they deserve all the prayer and support that you can give them. And so I wish to close by adding a special word of encouragement to them. My dear young friends, like the seven men, "filled with the Spirit and wisdom" whom the Apostles charged with care for the young Church, may you step forward and take up the responsibility which your faith in Christ sets before you! May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, "the same, yesterday, and today and for ever" and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10; Heb 13:8). These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world - including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother's womb. In a world where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us, Lazarus continues to stand at our door (Homily at Yankee Stadium, October 2, 1979, No. 7), let your faith and love bear rich fruit in outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice. Young men and women of America, I urge you: open your hearts to the Lord's call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life. Can there be any greater mark of love than this: to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who was willing to lay down his life for his friends (cf. Jn 15:13)?

In today's Gospel, the Lord promises his disciples that they will perform works even greater than his (cf. Jn 14:12). Dear friends, only God in his providence knows what works his grace has yet to bring forth in your lives and in the life of the Church in the United States. Yet Christ's promise fills us with sure hope. Let us now join our prayers to his, as living stones in that spiritual temple which is his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Let us lift our eyes to him, for even now he is preparing for us a place in his Father's house. And empowered by his Holy Spirit, let us work with renewed zeal for the spread of his Kingdom."Happy are you who believe!" (cf. 1 Pet 2:7). Let us turn to Jesus! He alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world. Amen.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Farewell!

I apologize in advance for the lack of posts. I have been very busy with school and such, that I just haven't had a peaceful time to sit down and write. I will also be gone these next couple of days to attend a Papal Mass in New York City. I won't be getting home until Monday, so I don't know if I will feel up to blogging right away. =D I will have tons of stories and pictures to post on here, so be looking out for that.

There is MUCH to say about the Papal visit already. The fact that for the Pope's arrival there was such respect and a big show (media reported that the welcoming was more significant and larger than a visiting king or queen) shows great change in how a papal visit is now treated. I very much respect Pres. Bush and what he said in his welcoming speech to the Pope. It was right on the money and made me proud of my President.

If you get a chance to listen to the comments Pres. Bush made at the White House before the Holy Father spoke, do it. They were excellent and made me proud to be American.

I have so much more to say, about commentary, the medias reaction, what the Pope wore, what he talked about, the list goes on and on...

But I will have plenty of time to talk about my observations later on, for now I wish you all farewell, and hope that you'll keep myself and all who are attending this pilgrimage to NYC in your prayers.

"Ego vobis valedico!!"

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Shepherd One has landed!

I repeat! Sheperd One has landed!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Pope Mass in NYC

I am extremaly excited to go to New York City to see the Pope's Mass. Even if the liturgy of the Mass is a bit of a let down, or the vestments worn are not his best, I am still excited to be present with thousands of fellow catholics to witness (witness his Mass, be watching out for posts on that idea..) a Holy Mass celebrated by our Holy Father.

This brings me to another idea...

The way in which people get all excited because those who might get to receive communion from the Pope are centered entirely around that fact. This is the wrong place we should be at for the Mass. If you REALLY believe that what the Pope distributes is the Sacred Body AND Blood of Jesus Christ then the fact of receiving from the Pope shouldn't be your main focus. Yes, it is still awesome to have that privilege (even thought he is just a guy like you and I) but that shouldn't be our intent for the Mass.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sigh...

Boy I wish that our church isn't round, and shaped like a crown.

If I ever become a priest my church is going to look like this...


Saturday, April 12, 2008

Pastoral Staff


The recently-restored gold pastorale first used in the 1850s by Pius IX will serve as the Pope's staff for the Stateside liturgies:


Msgr. Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, told Catholic News Service that the 19th-century pastoral staff, topped with a cross instead of a crucifix, "is becoming the usual one for papal celebrations."On Palm Sunday, March 16, Pope Benedict started carrying the older staff, which was used by every pope from Blessed Pope Pius to Pope Paul VI."This is the typical staff used by the popes because it is a cross without a crucifix," Msgr. Marini said April 10.


It is taking the place of the staff with the rugged crucifix on top that was created by Italian artist Lello Scorzelli for Pope Paul in the mid-1960s. The Vatican's yearbook, "Activity of the Holy See," includes a photograph of Pope Paul holding the Scorzelli staff on Easter 1965.


But the piece has become closely identified with the pontificate of Pope John Paul II and is placed alongside a photograph of him in the renewed "Vatican Splendors" exhibit currently touring the United States.Msgr. Marini said there actually are two copies of the Scorzelli staff: the one in the exhibit, open in St. Petersburg, Fla., through May 11, and "the other which is here in the pontifical sacristy."
Source: Whispers in the Loggia

Thoughts on Sunday's Gospel

John 10 1-10:

"Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers." Although Jesus used this figure of speech, they did not realize what he was trying to tell them. So Jesus said again, "Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came [before me] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.

_____________________________________________________


He tells us, in the Gospel Reading, that He is like a pastor who protects his sheep and does not abandon them.

This concept reminds us of the words that Jesus said to Peter, “Feed my sheep.” And from that time to this day the Church has been built on Peter and his successors. "Where Peter is, there is the Church that Christ founded". The special ministry that Peter had in the Church and that the Pope continues to carry out centuries afterwards is shown in the Bible.

The message that the Gospel gives us is that Christ will always protect His Church. "Christ entrusted to Peter the care of the flock and through the years the image of the Good Shepherd began to be seen as the Pope, Peter and his successors". From the moment that Our Lord gave the "flock" to him, Peter would have to guide the Church that Christ founded, continuing the mission of Christ.

Unfortunately, there are people who do not want to be a part of the flock. "They say that this idea is old fashioned and that it does not go with their modern life". They prefer a Church that is a free group of people who can act without rules and do what they choose to do. These people would like their shepherds to be like employees who they can fire if they are too up tight and demanding.

We should not allow people who are outside of our Catholic faith to crush our faith. We should not listen to those who try to tell us that we do not have to follow our shepherds, the Pope and the bishops and priests, or their teachings. We should remember what Jesus told us, that whoever is united to the head of the Church will be truly united to Him. So then, whoever tries to crush and attack the church, and whoever wants to change all that the Church practices will not receive anything.

(C) 2007 Lex Orandi Press-

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Thoughts on Creation

While attending public schools, there always comes a time where creation becomes involved and people get worked up over whether or not evolution is true, or the big bang theory, or divine power. Personally, I don't think it matters. Obviously God made us, and whether or not he evolved us from apes, or we were chemically made through a big bang, we are still here and have a life to live and a goal to reach (being heaven). Now, don't get me wrong, I still ask, and wonder how things came to be, but one shouldn't stress out over it.

Ordo Visitae


With five days to go now 'til Touchdown, in another first, the complete Missal laying out the liturgical celebrations of next week's PopeTrip -- including B16's Dunwoodie encounters with the disabled and young people and the Sunday morning prayers at Ground Zero -- has been posted in .pdf form by the Holy See.


Tip to NLM

Confirmed: Pope approves 'heroic virtues' of Knights of Columbus Founder

From the Canadian Press, Vatican City press office:
Pope Benedict on Saturday set the founder of the Knights of Columbus, one of the world's largest lay Catholic groups, on the path to possible beatification and sainthood, the Vatican said.
The Pope recognized the "heroic virtues" of reverend Michael McGivney, who in 1882 created a fraternal society for Catholic men who suffered discrimination because of their religion and immigrant origins.

The effort to canonize him was opened in 1997. That process received important support last year, when the Vatican's No. 2 official, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, celebrated mass at the Knights of Columbus annual meeting in Tennessee and said he would work to have the priest declared a saint.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The greatest sacrifice of the Mother of God

Jacques-BĂ©nigne Bossuet:


The Blessed Virgin had three most perfect possessions. She had her high dignity; her wondrous purity of body and soul; and her motherhood of Jesus Christ: she had for her own Son Him in Whom St. Paul says "it hath well pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell". In her, then, we have a creature greatly distinguished beyond her kind; but we find that her deep humility strips her in a sense of all these wonderful privileges.Though raised far above others by her dignity as Mother of God, she lives a life of obscure service as one of the common herd; though separated from all by her immaculate purity, she mixes in the society of sinners, and purifies herself as they do. But she does more than this: from Calvary, she even loses her well-beloved Son. And she does not merely lose Him by seeing Him die a cruel death, but by His ceasing, in a certain sense, to be her Son at all and by His substituting another for Himself: "Woman," He says to her, "behold thy son!"Be sure that Our Saviour did not speak in this way to His Mother without reason. He would not appear not to know her would not call her Woman instead of Mother if there were no deep mystery hidden beneath His action; and the reason of it may be found in the state of abject humiliation in which Our Lord then was, and which He willed that His holy Mother should share with Him by the closest possible imitation. We must remember, here, that Jesus had a God for His Father, and Mary a God for her Son. At the moment we are speaking of, the Saviour had lost His Father, as a father, and called upon Him only as His God. Mary, then, must lose her Son, to correspond with this supreme sacrifice; and hence He addresses her now as "woman," and not as "mother ". Further, which is the deepest humiliation of all, He gives her another son; as though henceforth He would cease to be hers, and meant to break the bond of their sacred union. Saint Paulinus gives as Christ's reason for this act that whereas, so long as He lived His mortal life on earth, He had paid every possible honor and service that a Son could pay to His Mother, and had been her constant consolation and support, now that He was on the eve of entering into His glory He assumed an attitude more suited to the dignity of God; and, therefore, gave up the natural duties of filial love to another. Thus was Mary left with Saint John for her son in the place of Jesus, Who had Himself instituted the exchange. She humbly accepted the humiliating decree, and took the disciple instead of the Master, the son of Zebedee instead of the Son of God (as Saint Bernard says) to her maternal heart; and so she lived for many years on earth, only thinking in her humility that she deserved not to be the Mother of God.
But if Mary was thus perfectly stripped of everything, that her humiliation in this world might bear a close likeness to her Divine Son's, she was to have all back in full, and more than full, measure; her humility was not only to "have nothing," but to "possess all things". Because she made herself the servant of others she is to be raised to a throne; because she purified herself being all pure as though a sinner, she is to be the advocate of sinners, and their refuge next after Christ - Refugium peccatorum -, and, because she gave up her Son and patiently and humbly bore His apparent desertion of her, that beloved Son will now enter once more into His filial rights which He had ceded to John but for a time and will present her before the whole heavenly court as His Mother.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Leonine Prayers-

In 1884, Pope Leo XIII prescribed the recitation of several prayers after Low Mass. Exactly 33 years to the day prior to the great Miracle of the Sun in Fatima, that is, on October 13, 1884, Pope Leo XIII had a remarkable vision. When the aged Pontiff had finished celebrating Mass in his private Vatican Chapel, attended by a few Cardinals and members of the Vatican staff, he suddenly stopped at the foot of the altar. He stood there for about 10 minutes, as if in a trance, his face ashen white. Then, going immediately from the Chapel to his office, he composed the prayer to St. Michael, with instructions it be said after all Low Masses everywhere.


In 1934, Pope Pius XI ordered that these same prayers be offered for the conversion of Russia. These prayers are now optional. And, of course, they were meant to be said publicly by a priest at the foot of the altar at a low Mass.

Our parish has been saying praying these prayers after Mass now, for the past year or so. It creates a more holy end to the Mass, insead of stormig out of the church.

The prayers are...

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. (Said 3 times)

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope. To thee to we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mouring and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this exile, show unto us the blessed Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Pray for us, O holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray.O God, our refuge and our strength, look down with mercy upon the people who cry to Thee; and by the intercession of the glorious and immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, of Saint Joseph her spouse, of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, and of all the saints, in Thy mercy and goodness hear our prayers for the conversion of sinners, and for the liberty and exaltation of the Holy Mother the Church. Through the same Christ Our Lord. Amen.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle; be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray: and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, thrust into hell satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us. Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, Have mercy on us.

Why Now?

I find it very interesting that in my lifetime, I am a witness to the changing that is happening in the Catholic Church. It seems like for the past forty years things have been going "downhill" and it is NOW, in my teens, when we are fighting the fight and putting the focus more on God, and the sacrifice that we offer at the Mass.

Sometimes I ask myself, "Why now? Why in my lifetime, rather than the 2,000 years before now?" But then I remind myself that: 1. There have always been problems in the church, and 2. This is apparently what the world needs now.

I have to give Pope Benedict "props" for what he's been doing. He has really changed the focus in the Mass, in a loving, kind and planned out manner.... well, he is the POPE. =D I like to use my friends quote "John Paul got the people to come into the church, and then handed it off to Benedict who said "alright, now that you're here, we have some rules....""

"Cool Pope"

This picture pretty much says it all..

Quote-

God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things. Right now I am so far behind that I will never die.


--Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes)

Sunday, April 6, 2008

"My Lord, My God"


The thing I find most interesting is that it is common to focus on the fact that Thomas believed because he saw, unlike us who believe even though we haven't seen. Yet, it was really when Jesus spoke a personal word to Thomas that he then exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!". In a sense it was when Thomas heard that his faith became real. In that he is just like us. We believe because of the Word proclaimed to us: He Is Risen!

Tridentine Mass

I was looking up some information about the Tridentine Mass when I discovered a wonderful site that shows FAQ's about the Mass. I strongly suggest that you visit this site.


http://www.latinmass.org/faq.html

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Do we really know what we are doing?

Do we really know what we are doing?

A few Sundays ago I was distributing communion (for lack of Eucharistic ministers) and as I gave others Jesus, I started to observe that most of the "Catholics" didn't have a clue what they were doing. I had people come up with one hand out, fingers laced, not laced, hands all dirty, practically dropping Jesus and then not say a word, shoving Jesus in their mouths, and storming off. It was a rather humbling, and upsetting experience.

I know I'm not the first or the last person to observe or point out that even the Catholics who come to Mass every Sunday do not really know what they are doing when they walk up to the foot of the altar. It is just an empty motion, with no meaning for them. It is "just what we do". I know one cannot grasp completely the fact that that is one hundred percent Jesus' Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity that is being placed inside of me, but this doesn't mean that we shouldn't believe it with all of our soul and humanity (for they intertwine); it means that we should strive for that day when we do know what is actually going on, and to, in the meantime, give homage and respect. Now, I'm not saying that I am here to preach, I'm NOT, I wanted to bring this to your attention, and to remind myself for I too have blown off the Eucharist and forget what I am actually witnessing.

Personally I love the idea of receiving on your tongue and knees. My dad uses the expression that it is as if we are the baby birds and are being fed. I love this quote because it puts together this whole idea of "the little birds who don't know whats going on, but try to learn and are being fed, to have some food put in their stomachs so that they may live". It puts a distance between God and ourselves, and gives God the reverence He deserves. I believe this is a wonderful way to humble ourselves to our God, yet God wants us to consume Him. We just need to know that we are in a state of Grace, and that means making sure to go to confession before receiving.

Frankly, when I really stop to think about what I am actually eating and seeing before me (yet others still say we have no proof of God--hello! what do you think that white thing in the tabernacle is!?) I want to drop to my stomach and pray. I'm sure you reading this feel the same. Yet, then I think, God wants me to have Him, and wants to be with me. So I should not feel like hiding or crawling on the ground before Him. But, this does NOT mean that we should just blow off the Mass and what is happening in the Mass. There is a fine line between the two, and we should constantly be monitoring ourselves.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Pope John Paul the II


May 18, 1920 - April 2, 2005

Did Anyone Else Happen to Notice....

At the mass today for the Third Anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, it could be clearly seen that the two small papal coats of arms that flank the high back of the Pope's red chair (the chair that dates from at least the pontificate of St. Pius X) have been changed to depict the coat of arms of Benedict XVI. What is interesting to me about this is that it is yet another instance where the Pope's personal arms are being depicted, officially and publicly by the Holy See, surmounted by the triple tiara and not including the pallium. There is no way this is simply being pushed through without the Pope's knowledge or consent

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Thoughts-

Now that Holy week is over, I miss being around the church. During Holy Week I was constantly going to Mass, and Benediction. Where now that it's over, I miss it. Not just the Mass, but just being in the presence of my God. I think that's where I'm really drawn to a catholic college, or one with primarily catholic attendance.

I love the idea of just going to the church to sit before God whenever I need to. Not to mention the acceptance that I will feel being around all fellow catholics who believe the same things I do, and are going through the same growth as I am. Rather than at the high school where praying at lunch is not accepted, and people shoot me funny looks when I talk about Mass, or they see my Saint Augustine medallion. I see myself, and my other catholic friends getting ridiculed by all sorts of people for their faith, some even catholic.

Now, this doesn't turn me down, I see it as an influence to pray more and to not hide my faith, but to educate and share it with others. My big issue I'm trying to fight right now is to not let them make me upset, and to remain loyal to my dignity and to be patient and sympathetic towards them for they do not yet know the real Truth.

Right now I am really looking at Mount Saint Marys college. I know I still have a few years, but I am 99% certain that I will be attending a catholic college, or catholic dominated college. (If you would like to check out St. Marys college, the link is on the side bar) I also like the idea of going to a priest if you need one, just to think, and talk with. Especially, if the priesthood is a definite option for me right now (as it has been for the past 3-4 years).

I feel so comfortable at church. I could just sit in a pew and think for hours. I don't know how I could survive if I were attending a college where I couldn't do this. I try to go to everything that is offered from the liturgies of the church, and yet, I still want more. Like I said in my other post, I've started the Liturgies of the Hours and that has helped feed my hunger somewhat. I feel that I am constantly fighting (from the media, school, and other people) to put God and Mass just for the hour on the weekends, where it should be the entire focus of everything I do.

Liturgy of the Hours-

Recently I have begun praying the Liturgy of the Hours and feel that it has helped me to maintain my focus and prayer life on God. For those of you that don't know much about these prayers - here's some information:

The Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Offices is the official set of daily prayers prescribed by the church to be said throughout the day as a form of prayer. They are primarily made up of psalms, hymns and readings.


The early Christians continued the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at certain hours of the day or night. In the Psalms we find expressions like "in the morning I offer you my prayer"; "At midnight I will rise and thank you" ; "Evening, morning and at noon I will cry and lament"; "Seven times a day I praise you". The Apostles observed the Jewish custom of praying at the third, sixth and ninth hour and at midnight (Acts 10:3, 9; 16:25; etc.). The Christian prayer of that time consisted of almost the same elements as the Jewish: recital or chanting of psalms, reading of the Old Testament, to which were soon added readings of the Gospels, Acts, and epistles, and canticles such as the Gloria in Excelsis Deo. Other elements were added later in the course of the centuries.



Matins (during the night), sometimes referred to as Vigils or Nocturns; it is now called the Office of Readings.
Lauds or Dawn Prayer (at Dawn)
Prime or Early Morning Prayer (First Hour = 6 a.m.)
Terce or Mid-Morning Prayer (Third Hour = 9 a.m.)
Sext or Midday Prayer (Sixth Hour = 12 noon)
None or Mid-Afternoon Prayer (Ninth Hour = 3 p.m.)
Vespers or Evening Prayer ("at the lighting of the lamps")
Compline or Night Prayer (before retiring)


Now, one can either pray the Divine Offices on one's own at home; or some parishes offer the hours at each specific time they are to be said and the priest, or deacon will lead the prayer. (Note: there are differences in what is said in prayer if a priest/deacon is leading it, or if you are on your own) There are no rules on "what you HAVE to say", and "when you HAVE to say the prayers". Basically, if this just gets you to even start to spend more time adoring our Lord, then the Hours have done their job.


I tend to find the Hours extremely helpful in putting me in a more kind and gentle state. The Offices force you to sit down for ten, fifteen minutes at a time to pray to God. Setting aside the words, and scripture; the act of actually sitting down and praying to God seven times a day, is an act of love in itself. It is one thing to say you love God; than to actually show it (not boastfully I might add, but in secret, to eliminate the "pat on your back" mentality, because that isn't what love, or prayer, is about). The morning prayer, for example, asks for help against the temptation to sin. The afternoon prayer reminds us to seek the Lord's guidance throughout the day. The evening prayers offers thanks to God and asks for His protection through the night.

If you are interested in learning more about the Liturgy of the Hours, visit this web-site:
http://www.breviary.net/