Tuesday, July 31, 2007

My latest Radio segment of "Mom's Corner" with Teresa Tomeo

If you have a minute, listen to the latest radio segment, "Slipping Into Summer Mode: Let's Not Forget About the Prayer" with Teresa Tomeo on "Catholic Connection" at our monthly "Mom's Corner" on Ave Maria Radio by clicking here.

There's work to be done to "shine like the sun."

Today's Gospel:
Mt 13:36-43

Jesus dismissed the crowds and went into the house.
His disciples approached him and said,
“Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man,
the field is the world, the good seed the children of the Kingdom.
The weeds are the children of the Evil One,
and the enemy who sows them is the Devil.
The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,
so will it be at the end of the age.
The Son of Man will send his angels,
and they will collect out of his Kingdom
all who cause others to sin and all evildoers.
They will throw them into the fiery furnace,
where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.
Then the righteous will shine like the sun
in the Kingdom of their Father.
Whoever has ears ought to hear.”

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Soul of Christ, sanctify me. Body of Christ, save me. Blood of Christ, inebriate me. Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. Within Thy wounds hide me. Suffer me not to be separated from Thee. From the malicious enemy defend me. In the hour of death call me, And bid me come unto Thee. That with Thy saints I may praise Thee. For ever and ever. Amen.

"In the year 1521 a cannon ball fractured the left leg of Captain Ignatius Loyola, the future founder of the Jesuits. While he was convalescing, Ignatius read about Christ and His saints and thus turned wholly to God. He then undertook to equip himself for Christ's service by acquiring a good classical and theological education. The members of the Society of Jesus became the shock troops of the Church in the battle against the spread of Protestantism in Europe, as well as one of the greatest foreign mission organizations that the world has known. Ignatius died on July 31, 1556..." ( from Catholic Culture)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Quick update on Bryant

Bryant, the eighteen year old hiker who was critically hurt recently in a hiking accident is in stable condition. His spirits the other day when my son visited him were as good as can be expected for a young man in a body brace, recovering from surgery still with many broken bones, lying in a hospital bed at a hospital that is a good distance from his home.

Bryant has a long way to go, however we are so thankful for every bit of his progress, most especially that he survived his fall from the cliff. Please continue your prayers for this young man and his family. Bryant lost his father just last year because of a stroke. We can only imagine what his mother is going through.

Thank you so very much for your prayers!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday homily


Recently I heard a very beautiful story about the faith of a young woman religious who was asked by her superior to found a new school for girls. The young religious was sent off to a remote part of the country to begin the exciting adventure. However, as is customary with these kinds of endeavors, there was very little money that she could count on.

One day, as preparations were being made to begin the construction of the new school, the nun decided to take her project to a small chapel. She knelt before the tabernacle and told the Lord that it was up to Him to make the construction of the new school a reality.

The next day, a local gentleman who had heard about the project, approached the religious and told her that he was willing to donate $100,000 in order to get the venture started. People of all walks of life overcome surmountable obstacles due to an indomitable faith in God.

This Sunday’s Gospel narrative reminds us that we are to trust in God and be close to Him through a life of prayer.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be open to you. For every one who asks receives, ands he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11: 15).

Nevertheless, it is true that prayer is not an easy enterprise. The spiritual life will always be a battle. There will always be obstacles that are necessary to overcome if we wish to live a life of prayer.

First of all, many people struggle with distractions when they pray. I have always encouraged people to be patient when they are distracted. However, it is true that distractions are rather normal, especially for all those who are beginning to develop a prayer life.

Personal discipline, choosing a suitable place, using a good text when necessary, and selecting a proper time for prayer are all important aspects when determined to overcome distractions in prayer.

Secondly, aridity is another major obstacle that people struggle to overcome. However, it must be understood that spiritual dryness is a normal road of purification that the Lord uses in order to bring us to greater heights of the spiritual life.

The quality of prayer must not be measured by personal feelings. Feelings come and go. Our personal experience of God through prayer will fill us with peace and provide renewal and strength, but it is important that we leave consolations to the will of God.

Thirdly, many people become impatient with God because they want instant answers. God is not a computer. Our God is a loving Father who knows all of our needs.

Many times our prayers are not answered precisely because we are not corresponding to God’s immense love. How can we experience God’s presence if we avoid the sacrament of Confession, if we do not love our neighbor, or we are not willing to financially support our parish family the way we should?

The Apostles’ asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. They witnessed first hand how Jesus prayed. The Gospels narrate how Jesus would spend entire nights in prayer. Many times the Evangelists point to the eyes of Jesus, and how He would look up to Heaven before pronouncing a teaching. They longed to pray like the Master. In response to their quest, Jesus taught them the most perfect prayer,

The Lord’s Prayer contains every petition that we need for our earthly existence and our eternal salvation. It is precisely with the very words that Jesus taught us, that we can find deep consolation and strength during the many trials and tribulations of our journey towards eternal life in Heaven.

For most people, prayer is a struggle. The struggle is intertwined with blessings, moments of profound peace, and the obvious presence of God. Trust and perseverance: two lessons that we are reminded of as we consider this Sunday’s Gospel passage.

In order that we may experience God in our daily lives we need to pray every day. Mother Theresa once said: “We need to find God, and God cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature--trees and flowers and grass--grow in silence. See the stars, the moon, and the sun, how they move in silence. The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life."

But, in order to pray, we need to obtain the ability to be alone with ourselves. It is difficult to be alone in contemporary society. Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God's voice. Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone.

We all need moments of solitude. Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul. In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.

Silence will deepen any relationship. Silence allows us to listen and to gaze. Let us take the time to be silent so that we can grow in our relationship with the one who always seeks us and calls us to Himself.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Pharmacists sue Washington state over the "morning-after-pill"

Seattle, Jul 27, 2007 / 08:47 am (CNA).- Pharmacists have sued Washington state over a new regulation that requires them to sell emergency contraception, also known as the "morning-after pill,” because it contains no exception for those who object on the basis of belief or conscience.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court Wednesday, pharmacists Rhonda Mesler and Margo Thelen, and Stormans Inc., said the rule that took effect Thursday violates their civil rights by forcing them into choosing between "their livelihoods and their deeply held religious and moral beliefs."

"The stakes really couldn't be much higher," plaintiffs' attorney Kristen Waggoner said.
Earlier this year, the state ruled that druggists who believe emergency contraceptives are tantamount to abortion cannot stand in the way of a patient's “right” to the drugs.

State legislators do not seem to notice that the new law ensures the “rights” of those who wish to use the contraceptives but does nothing to support the rights of those who believe it is immoral.

In a statement about the then proposed law, the Catholic Bishops of Washington state said, “The Church opposes the sale of any drug that would induce an abortion, and supports pharmacists, especially those who follow Catholic moral teaching, who uphold their right to act according to the dictates of their conscience when asked to dispense such drugs.”

Plan B is often called “emergency contraception”, but in fact, it can cause an abortion because if it fails to stop ovulation it then acts to prevent any embryos from implanting in the uterus. Read entire article here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

St. Joachim and St. Anne


St. Joachim and St. Anne were Jesus' grandparents and Mother Mary's parents. The Gospels don't tell us anything about this couple. Still, devotion to the couple, especially St. Anne, is great and dates back to the sixth century in the Church of Constantinople and the eighth century in Rome. It increased even more in the 13th and 14th centuries.

The only writings that exist about St. Joachim and St. Anne are found in the Protogospel of John, which was not included in the canon of Scripture.
(from the Catholic News agency)

Pope says creation-evolution debate is "absurdity."

Lorenzago di Cadore, Jul 26, 2007 / 09:52 am (CNA).- The debate between creationism and evolution is an “absurdity” since evolution can coexist with faith, said Pope Benedict XVI this week while vacationing in the mountains of northern Italy.

While there is much scientific proof to support evolution, the theory cannot exclude a role by God, he said according to MSNBC News.

“They are presented as alternatives that exclude each other,” the Pope said. “This clash is an absurdity because on one hand there is much scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and which enriches our understanding of life and being as such.”

However, evolution does not answer all of the great philosophical questions, he said, including: Where does everything come from? Read the article here.

Update on Bryant who was in hiking accident

My son, Joseph visited Bryant yesterday at the hospital. Bryant is in a body brace and in fairly good spirits. Joseph said that Bryant was going to have surgery on his broken jaw yesterday evening. He was just out of the Intensive Care Unit which is good news and means that his brain contusions are manageable now at this point. He has a long road ahead of him and prayers are very much appreciated. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Work Widows: Maintaining the Family Bond While Dad is Away"

Work Widows: Maintaining the Family Bond While Dad Is Away
By Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle
Canticle magazine

“I might as well be a widow.” I vividly remember my mother expressing her feelings about my father’s absence at family functions, leaving her to parent their eight children largely on her own. His long commutes—getting up at 4:30 AM each day—prevented him from participating at many events, sometimes out of sheer exhaustion.

“I might as well be a widow.” I sometimes use the same line with my husband when he has to work long hours. Then I wink and say, “Kidding,” so he won’t feel bad that he will be away. I know I will miss him, but he owns his own business and “his boss” is tough on him. He says, “Thank God I am not a Merchant Marine, like my Dad was.”
Being a “work widow” is no laughing matter. For some families absentee fathering takes a toll on family life. Husbands are often required to commute great distances to work, and to travel for business. How do the children and the wife maintain the bond with this integral member of their family? How can a family feel complete when one member is so often missing? How does the family reconnect, pick up where they left off, and continue living in communion when Daddy returns?

Routine Maintenance

For the sake of their family, husband and wife must work as a team to keep their unity intact when Hubby is away. Designated “check in” times, when Dad is in touch by phone to lend his support and advice with his familiar voice, can be comforting. The family can keep him abreast as to their current and upcoming activities, keeping him in the loop. He can even help with homework questions over the phone at times. When it comes to discipline, the parents should always utilize a united front with the children, not allowing the mentality that since Daddy is away, things will be a “free-for-all.” Daddy’s rules still apply even when he is not there to enforce them.

Breakfast, dinner, or bedtime routines are excellent ways to keep the family connected. Even when the husband/father is working long hours, he may be able to participate with a family tradition or routine at either end of the day. When this is not possible due to his traveling, Dad can do his best to participate in these routines over the phone.

Maintaining a regular routine is also important. Careful planning can help alleviate some of the stress in the “work-widow’s” life, advance meal planning and scheduling strategies can make life a bit easier. Cutting down on unnecessary trips with the kids, and preparing some meals in advance to freeze for easy “pull out” dinners are just a couple of ways to ease some household stress. Paper plates lessen time at the kitchen sink.

In some households, Sunday afternoons are used to plan for the week ahead. A dry-erase board posted in the kitchen keeps the family organized. Each person marks down activities scheduled that week to prevent extra trips across town to deliver a forgotten field trip permission slip. Of course, Mom is ultimately the “schedule keeper.” There’s only so much responsibility we can expect from little ones. They are young and they forget.
These strategies may require some creativity and an investment of time on the “work-widows” part initially, but the efforts will pay off when her household is running smoothly, meals are easy, nutritious, and most importantly—her sanity is intact!

When Daddy Comes Marching Home Read entire article here which includes other topics such as "Communication and Love," "Maintaining the Spiritual Bond," and "Self Care Tips for Long Distance Wives."

Hiking accident update

I would like to be able to post an update later today or tonight about Bryant's condition. My son, Joseph will be visiting him at the hospital today.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

My Review on "Noise" by Teresa Tomeo in "Lay Witness" magazine

How Our Media-Saturated Culture
Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families

By Teresa Tomeo
Reviewed by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle

Ascension Press, 2007.

Broadcaster Teresa Tomeo puts a name on the biased media propaganda that has bombarded our culture. She calls it Noise and tells us that the noise of the mass media has infiltrated our lives and has become our voice—and “worse yet our barometer of standards.”

“I wrote Noise because I wanted families especially parents to have a one stop shopping book of information on the media that they can grab if they have questions about any aspect of media influence.”

Tomeo warns us that if we don’t get a grip on what’s happening to us through the media. It will continue to subtly dismantle our families. Not mincing words, Tomeo is not afraid to name names in her eye-opening book, detailing the harmful impact of the mass media on our culture.

What more credible person is there to address this issue than Teresa Tomeo? Twenty years in television and radio have pried open her own eyes to the harm being done to unsuspecting families by the mass media. The media damage has at times literally made Tomeo sick to her stomach.

She herself wisely uses the media to express her valid concerns and to get the word out to help protect families. Tomeo points out that we cannot completely detach ourselves from major media and reminds us that “even the late Pope John Paul II saw value in the media and an opportunity there to spread the Good News.” She further explains, “Without television, the world might not have come to know John Paul II in the manner in which it did,” and that “the Pope stressed the importance of making media usage a family activity that involves the parents.”

Throughout her book, Tomeo educates us thoroughly on the types of damage done by the various media outlets, explaining that broadcast standards have been “spiraling downward, even aster than society at large.” She feels that the downgraded standards coupled with society’s apathy equals disaster. Her firsthand experience with the media helps her present statistics and a wealth of information derived from years of research on the subject.

This radio host admits to frustration when delving into the problem of media bias, telling us that the members of her profession have let her down regarding their owning up to and correcting the balance in the news coverage. However, she says more of her frustration lies “with people of my own faith and political persuasion who do nothing but complain.”
We are rightly admonished by Tomeo to “speak out and challenge the secular media directly.” She instructs us on how to contact news directors and reporters and on how to write opinion pieces so that we can make an impact and help balance the scales of the media.

Tomeo is hopeful for the future and says, “Despite the media’s attempt to distort the truth to advance a liberal agenda, twist the facts to makes stories more appealing, and hype the news in an attempt to hike ratings, John Paul is correct – “Truth will not pass or change.”

We are fortunate to have this “insider’s knowledge of what has been going on. Thankfully, Tomeo not only presents the facts, unveiling the hidden dangers and overwhelming evidence of media bias to us: she gives us a great plan of action to combat this insidious evil.

The author offers to join us in the challenge and inspires us to step out of our comfort zone in order to do something to make a difference. She recalls the Gospel message in Matthew (14:22-33) when Peter stepped out of the boat onto the water. When he began to sink, Jesus supported him. Tomeo assures us that “He will be there to lead us to the sure footing we desire. From this solid ground we then can begin to carry out our mission—a mission that will restore the true, good, and beautiful in a world that is in great need.”

Monday, July 23, 2007

Update on boys in hiking accident

I heard from Tyler's mother, Sue and she recounted the scenario after talking to her son, Tyler who was hiking with Bryant. Sue said, "All Tyler saw was Bryant's head disappearing behind some trees, and he was gone. After realizing what had happened, he knew that he had to get down there to see how he was...and knew he had to act quickly. He told Jeff to go get help, [so there was another boy hiking, too that I wasn't aware of] as there was no cell phone service, and started to scale down the cliff. There was not much to hold onto, and he could not get an answer from Bryant, so he kept on going. Half way down he lost his grip and tumbled about 60 feet down the rocky ledge, ending up near Bryant, who was quietly moaning...but alive, Thank God! He waited there with him for well over an hour until Jeff and the troopers arrived. He had to wade across the river to get out, and walk the 2 miles out. He is pretty scraped up, and has a concussion...but thankfully, that is it! They airlifted him to Waterbury, and Bryant to New Haven. It was over 3 hours before they finally got Bryant out."

Sue also said that Tyler went up to the hospital to see Bryant along with Bryant's girlfriend and feels optimistic. The doctors have to keep a close watch on Bryant's bleeding brain which means they have to hold off on surgery until they can get that under control.

Tyler's Mom, Sue is very appreciative of all of your prayers and says, "Keep up the prayers...I'm sure that the fact that Rich and I were in front of the Blessed Sacrament on Friday night is what kept Tyler from being more seriously injured." Sue and her husband, Rich were chaperones at the Steubenville retreat over the week end when all of this happened.

Thank you everyone for your prayers for the whole situation. I am sure that Bryant is certainly far from being "out of the woods' right now. He is in very critical condition but we are hopeful and praying for God's healing power for everyone involved. Tyler could of course use prayers, as well. Prayers are needed and are so appreciated. God bless you all!

I can't get that boy out of my mind...

I just can't get that boy out of my mind...thinking about the extent of his injuries and the pain he must be in - and that's a good thing that he won't leave my mind - it prods me to constant prayers for him and his buddy.

The little bit of an update that I have for you...Bryant (who is 18, my son, Joseph's friend, and a fellow band member) is still in critical condition after his hiking accident - thank God he is alive! The other boy, Tyler is fine, I hear. Thank You, dear Lord!

Here's what I heard happened - The two boys were hiking at a hiking park. Bryant went ahead of his buddy, Tyler. When Tyler caught up to where he thought Bryant should be he couldn't find him and looked around. A rock had become lose under Bryant's foot and he fell hundreds of feet. Tyler heard Briant's groans from below. Tyler had to scale down sharp rocks for hundreds of feet to get to Bryant. He tumbled most of the way down. After checking on Briant and talking with him briefly, he hiked the hill to get to a telephone and call for help. They were both flown by Life Star helicopters to two hospitals.

Bryant is in Intensive Care. He has three brain contusions, a broken hip, two broken legs, his hand are broken, most or all of his ribs, something wrong with his spine, and I'm not sure what else. I will surely keep you all posted and appreciate your prayers. Bryant lost his father suddenly last year because of a stroke. I know that Bryant's Mom is devastated right now. Let's storm Heaven for Bryant's healing and whatever else it is that God is doing with him and his family and loved ones.

Thanks so much for your prayers.

God bless,


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday Holmily


Excessive anxiety, worry and fear rob many people of their inner peace. The stresses caused by the demands of modern life are having serious consequences on people's mental health, which in turn are having serious effects on people's physical health.

Those who suffer from a lack of inner peace due to anxiety, worry and fear quickly turn to medications to relieve their pervasive symptoms. The amount of Americans taking sleeping pills and the amount of children and teenagers taking some kind of medication for anxiety are astounding.

This Sunday's Gospel narrative provides the solution for the epidemic loss of inner peace. Martha's sister Mary, rather than being anxious and worried, sat beside Jesus and listened to him. Her actions are those of a woman of prayer.

We experience God through our life of prayer. Prayer is conversation with God. Prayer is a continual being in love because God is real and personal. No matter what might be going on in our lives, we must always pray, and pray daily. Prayer is the air that we breathe.

When I speak to you about a life of prayer, I am not referring to the mere saying of prayers. I am talking about something much deeper. There are different types of prayer. One form of prayer is vocal prayer and another form of prayer is mental prayer. There are two types of mental prayer. One form of mental prayer is meditation and the other form of mental prayer is contemplation.

Meditation and contemplation are quite different. The person who meditates usually uses the Scriptures or some other spiritual book. Contemplation does not employ any books at all. Contemplation is the prayer of the heart and not of the mind. Contemplative prayer may focus on a word or a mantra or one may simply be in the presence of God.

Martha's sister Mary knew how to go deeper. She was a contemplative. She sat in the presence of Jesus and simply listened. You do not have to live in a monastery to be a contemplative. Everyone can be a contemplative. No matter what your profession may be, everyone has the possibility of having a deep relationship with Jesus.

One of the greatest challenges that we encounter is our inability to see and to listen to God. We are caught up in the distractions of daily life that prevent us from really encountering God.
Our busy lives require refreshing times of prayer throughout the day. If we fail to incorporate prayer into our schedules, we will live our lives as if God does not even exist.
Silence is the first step that is necessary in order to embark upon the journey of contemplative prayer. We can only be with God if we can calm down our mind and be silent. During the day it is important that we take time to turn off the TV, the radio and the computer. It is necessary that we turn off the anxieties and worries flowing through our minds.
A serious life of contemplative prayer is very important for the times in which we live. The traditional structures of support that have made our lives comfortable and easy are presently engulfed in confusion, but transformation is slowly taking place. God is moving us away from clinging to things, people, and institutions. He is calling us to detachment, to the desert, to the journey into the night of naked faith. He is calling us to cling to him, and only him. This journey is difficult, frightening at times, and even risky. But, those who embark upon the journey, will be transformed into living witnesses of the God of love.

However, without the silence and solitude of daily contemplative prayer, anxiety and fear may overwhelm us. If we are a people who live truly spiritual lives, we will be filled with peace and joy no matter what may be going on around us.

St. Teresa of Avila, the famous Spanish mystic, once wrote: “Let nothing trouble you. Let nothing frighten you. Everything passes. God never changes. Patience obtains all. Whoever has God, wants for nothing. God alone is enough” (Poesías 30).

It is true that we are experiencing profound challenges: wars, continual threats of terrorism, the crisis unfolding within our Catholic Church which continues unchecked in many circles, the rapidly accelerating unraveling of moral decency in our society, and the terrible wounds caused by the dismantling of family life.

This may sound a bit extreme, but I have reached the conclusion that the only way that we will be able to handle the challenges of our times and the difficulties that are to unfold is through the exercise of daily contemplative prayer. This is true because contemplative prayer allows us to experience the peace that only God can give us.

What are the practical steps that we can take in order to incorporate into our busy lives daily contemplative prayer?

First of all, we need balance in our lives. We might ask ourselves when was the last time that we stopped to watch the sunrise or the sunset? Can we recall walking on the beach, enjoying the fragrance of a beautiful flower, cherishing the innocent smile of a child or gazing at the moon and the night sky filled with stars?

Again we might ask ourselves when was the last time that we enjoyed dinner with family and friends, or turned off our cell phone and refrained from checking our email at every moment?

Ours is an anxious and chaotic world. Isn’t time that we got back into balance? Excessive work and travel, excessive involvement in sports and entertainment are tearing us apart. The experience of God through contemplative prayer will restore balance and peace into our busy lives.

Secondly, contemplation requires the capacity to be alone. It is difficult to be alone in contemporary society. Even when we are alone, the noise of our own worries and fears drown out the silence of God's voice. Many people are incapable of being alone and they immediately feel an obsession to talk with someone on a cell phone or check their email.

We all need moments of solitude. Spending a quiet time before the Eucharist, reading the Scriptures during a peaceful moment at home, taking tranquil walks through the woods or along the beach all are necessary for our soul. In order to be with God, we must develop the ability to be alone with ourselves.

Thirdly, we need order in our lives. Working out daily schedules for the entire family by setting realistic priorities, and minimizing extra-curricular activities for the children are steps that we can take. Early to bed and early to rise is a wise principle which is still valid today.

However, many people will say that all of this sounds wonderful, but who has the time for contemplative prayer? Too many people are like Martha, “anxious and worried about many things”. Too many people have fallen into the terrible of trap of what I call the idolatry of work, thus making their work a complete obsession to the detriment of their families and personal health. Man was not made for work; work was made for man.

This Sunday's gospel passage allows us to reevaluate our lives. We need to set proper priorities so that deep contemplative prayer can be a daily part of our experience with God. Try it. You will be amazed at the results.

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Luke 10: 41)

Recommended Reading

New Seeds of Contemplation – Thomas Merton
Contemplation – Frances Kelly Nemeck, O.M.I. and Marie Theresa Coombs, Hermit
Being in Love, A practical guide to Christian prayer – William Johnston, S.J.
Sensing Your Hidden Presence – Ignacio Larranaga, O.F.M.CAP.
Walking on Water – Anthony de Mello, S.J.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Prayers please for my son's friend and buddy critically injured

I can only imagine the fear, grief, worry and pain that these two mothers feel right now about their sons who fell off a cliff in a hiking accident last night. I just got word today that my son, Joseph's friend, Bryant and his buddy were critically hurt in a hiking accident yesterday. My son, Joseph is on a retreat at the moment and got word about the accident and needless to say, many prayers are being said at the retreat for the victims.

My heart is going out to the boys. One of them - my son's friend is lying in intensive care with two broken legs, two broken hands, most or all of his ribs broken, and I'm sure more bones, as well. I don't know for sure, but I think miraculously, he didn't break his neck. I heard that he fell hundreds of feet after the rock under his foot gave way and he went down. One of the hikers had to hike a good distance to get to a phone to call for help. Eighteen year old, Bryant remained conscious while his buddy sought help. Two helicopters were used to get the boys to two hospitals. Please pray for them. I'm sorry that my details are sketchy, but this is what I have right now.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Vatican City State ventures into digital world

Vatican City, Jul 19, 2007 / 09:00 am (CNA).- The Vatican City State has ventured forth into the digital world today by launching a sharply designed Internet portal. The new site (www.vaticanstate.va) comes as a response to the ever increasing number of requests by pilgrims and tourists for information about the world’s smallest city state.

The new website, will run alongside the official Holy See website (www.vatican.va), and has been implemented in five languages (Italian, English, French, Spanish and German) with Portuguese soon to be added.

The offices of the various entities within the 109 acre sovereignty are represented by the categories: State and Government, Services, Other Institutions, Monuments and Shop. A communiqué about the site says that the portal "presents the State's bodies, the key monuments with descriptions and images, and useful time schedules for the public.”

The site also offers a photo tour of the Vatican Gardens, as well as real time access via five webcams to some of the most famous sights: the dome of St. Peter's, St. Peter's Square, a panoramic view of Rome, the tomb of John Paul II and the palace of the Governorate.

The new portal will also soon add some features that stamp collectors and museum buffs will be quite excited about. According to the site designers, "visitors will soon be able to purchase Vatican coins, stamps and other articles available from the Vatican Museum's publications and reproductions sales office." View article here.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

"Christ established one true Church..."

My Associate Pastor and friend, Fr Tom Washburn OFM offers us these words about Christ establishing one true Church...

"Here we go again. You know, sometimes I think that the media just can't help themselves. The headline on page 3 of my local paper today, "Pope reasserts Church's domination." The New York Times, "Pope cites 'defects' of other faiths." The Boston Globe, "Pope reasserts salvation comes from one church." The general tenor of these articles, "Pope Benedict XVI reasserted the primacy of the Roman Catholic Church, approving a document released yesterday that says other Christian communities are either defective or not true churches and Catholicism provides the only true path to salvation." Like I said, here we go again.

The challenge is that a good headline and lead often trumps the truth or the details which are inevitably more complex and complicated than anything that you could fit in a headline. The Pope has not made any type of move to invalidate the goodness that exists in many of the different Christian denominations or even other religions in the world. As usual for our theologian-Pope, he is seeking again to clarify things..." Read his entire post here.

Pope Benedict uses part of his vacation to write

Lorenzago di Cadore, Jul 17, 2007 / 11:01 am (CNA).- The spokesman for Pope Benedict, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, has confirmed that the Pope is dedicating part of his vacation to writing the second part of his book "Jesus of Nazareth," and to reflecting upon his next encyclical "which will have a social theme."

During a brief interview given at Lorenzago di Cardore on Sunday July 15, Fr. Lombardi said that the Holy Father "is working mainly upon the continuation of his book on Jesus of Nazareth, while as far as his second encyclical is concerned, it is still at the initial stages of ideas and reflection." Read entire article here.

What do you do when you are supposed to be writing your book...

What do you do when you are supposed to be writing your book? Well, you host a Catholic carnival that takes days to do because of computer glitches (but you loved every minute of it!).

You take pictures of butterflies because how could you not? You love nature and there they are flying around and landing right near you! Or shall I say, right outside your window? So you absolutely HAVE to leave your computer and work for a while and go see them.

You take a picture of your dog, Sweetpea and your cat, Chop Chop...because they're CUTE, that's why!

Must be missing the kids!

You blog around and catch up on some correspondence with friends and visitors to your sites.

Must be missing the kids!

You pray endless Rosaries for your children's safety.

Must be missing the kids!

Your kids come back from a week long trip and now you are doing laundry, laundry, and more laundry! I don't think you want to see a picture of that! :)

But now you are HAPPY to have them home!

And then you spend more time putting together this post. :)

Pray for me!! PLEASE!! :)

Back to my book...

Monday, July 16, 2007

What a privilege!

Just kidding! It's a photo of me at the Book Expo in NYC in early June standing near a cardboard cut out of Pope Benedict at the Crossroad Publishing booth! Got ya for a second there, didn't I?!

Pope Benedict's upcoming trips include the United States in 2008!

Vatican City, Jul 16, 2007 / 09:42 am (CNA).- "The spokesman for the Vatican, Fr. Fredrico Lombardi, announced yesterday that Pope Benedict XVI will make his first trip to the United States. Speaking on Italian state television, Fr. Lombardi said that the Pope plans to accept the invitation of UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon to attend the General Assembly session in New York in September of 2008.

Other upcoming papal trips were also announced by the Vatican’s spokesman.

This September 7th-9th the Holy Father will travel to Vienna, Austria to deliver an “internationally important” speech to the diplomats accredited to the various international organizations headquartered in the Austrian capital..." Read the entire story here.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

"Mom's Corner" radio segment tomorrow!

Hello Moms and Grandmoms and Caregivers!

Is there an issue you would like me to address in my segment tomorrow morning with Teresa Tomeo regarding "Slipping into Summer Mode: Let's Not Forget About the Prayer!"?

Now is your chance to send me a comment today or tonight and/or to call in to the show. You may listen in or call in to the show, "Catholic Connection" on Ave Maria Radio Live. The show will air at 9:10 AM Eastern time on Monday morning.

Fr. James's Sunday Homily

From Fr. James:

My grandmother spent her last years in a nursing home because she was unable to care for herself. Alzheimer’s completely sapped her joyful vitality and totally changed her personality.
Every time I went home to visit my parents, we would always spend time with my grandmother. The visits were always very sad. After my mother briefly reminded her as to whom we were, my grandmother would be delighted by our visits. The sadness was caused by what the illness had done to my grandmother.
The nurses at the nursing home were extraordinary women. In their own simple way, they would take care of every tiny detail of the patients. There were many other patients that were in worse shape than my grandmother. I often wondered how the nurses could be so cheerful and so loving in such a difficult environment.
One day, during one of our family visits, the nurse that always took care of my grandmother, told me that she could not wait to retire so that she could come back every day to the nursing home and spend her entire day with the patients at no charge to the home. She was so excited about the possibility of generously giving of herself without any restrictions.
This Sunday’s liturgy provides us with another wonderful opportunity to deepen our love for God and our neighbor.
In my opinion, the parable of the Good Samaritan and the parable of the Prodigal Son, are Jesus’ greatest teachings, and clearly they are among the most beautiful passages of Sacred Scripture.
During the past few weeks, the Catholic liturgy has been presenting to us teachings on the essence of Christianity. Without a doubt, the parable of the Good Samaritan is a vital gospel narrative for our reflection. This Sunday’s parable teaches us how we are to love. The parable leaves no room for doubt. Anyone who is in need must be taken care of with profound magnanimity.
The magnanimous care that the Samaritan gives to the misfortunate man provides a model of how we are to care for all those who are in need. Christianity and egotism are diametrically opposed to each other.
Every one of the Samaritan’s actions is an act of profound magnanimity. The Samaritan is moved with compassion as he comes upon the man who has fallen into the hands of robbers. This movement of the heart is characteristic of the love that Jesus has for all humanity (see Luke 7: 11 – 17; 15: 20). It is precisely this movement of the heart that causes the Good Samaritan to do such loving acts of service and kindness. This movement of the heart causes him to come out of himself and give himself entirely to the needs of the man that he finds on the side of the road.
“But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the inn-keeper, saying, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back’” (Luke 10: 33-35).
The acts of the Good Samaritan go beyond generosity. His magnanimity shows that there are no limits to his kindness and service.
The parable of the Good Samaritan demands that we live our lives in the same way. We cannot ignore the needs of anyone. Only those who are magnanimous servants of their neighbor are truly happy people.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Prayers again for my children

About a week ago I asked for payers for my children who were flying to "the other side of the world." I am asking again for prayers for their safe return. They will be flying home tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 8:00 AM EASTERN time.

Thank you so very much.
God bless!

Contracepting our environment? Oh my!

BOULDER, Colo. (National Catholic Register) – When EPA-funded scientists at the University of Colorado studied fish in a pristine mountain stream known as Boulder Creek two years ago, they were shocked. Randomly netting 123 trout and other fish downstream from the city’s sewer plant, they found that 101 were female, 12 were male and 10 were strange “intersex” fish with male and female features.

It’s “the first thing that I’ve seen as a scientist that really scared me,” said then 59-year-old University of Colorado biologist John Woodling, speaking to the Denver Post in 2005.

They studied the fish and decided the main culprits were estrogens and other steroid hormones from birth-control pills and patches, excreted in urine into the city’s sewage system and then into the creek...Read entire story here.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Vatican announced Pope Benedict's appointment of Archbishop of Baltimore

Baltimore, Jul 12, 2007 / 09:23 am (CNA).- This morning, the Vatican announced Pope Benedict XVI’s appointment of Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien as the Archbishop of Baltimore and the acceptance of Cardinal William Keeler’s resignation.

Archbishop O’Brien was previously the head of the Archdiocese for the Military Services which has 1.5 million Catholics, two auxiliary bishops and 300 priests in uniform.

At a press conference in Baltimore this morning, he was asked what he saw as the reason for his selection as the new head of the Archdiocese. He responded, “I’ll give you the Pope’s number (laughter)… They talk about seminary experience? I don’t know.”

Prior to his ordination as bishop, Archbishop O’Brien served as Rector at two seminaries, St. Joseph’s Seminary, Dunwoodie, NY and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

On a more serious note, Archbishop O’Brien noted that he looks forward to working with the two seminaries in the archdiocese and that he sees Pastor Dabo Vobis, a post-synodal exhortation from the late Pope John Paul II on priests, as his model.

Asked about the benefits of coming to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, O’Brien responded...Read entire article here.

Prayers, please

Please say a prayer for my friend who was suddenly stricken with a serious heart problem. She is in need of surgery but may not be strong enough for the surgery at this time. Meanwhile her heart is in bad shape.

Thank you very much and God bless!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Saint Benedict

Please visit Jen at Daughter of the King to read her reflections about Saint Benedict whose feast day is today including a bit about the Saint Benedict medal.

Incidentally, I wear the Saint Benedict medal.

From Catholic Culture: "St. Benedict was born at Nursia in Umbria in about 480 and was sent to Rome to be educated, but soon left the world to live a solitary life at Subiaco. After living in a cave in the mountains for two years as a hermit, he had acquired such a reputation that disciples came in numbers to join him and important Roman families entrusted him with the education of their children. He organized a form of monastic life in twelve small monasteries. Under his guidance, as abbot, the monks vowed to seek God and devoted themselves to work and prayer. A few years later St. Benedict left the district of Subiaco to found the great abbey of Monte Cassino on the heights of Campania. There he wrote his Rule in which are wonderfully combined the Roman genius and the monastic wisdom of the Christian East. St. Benedict died in 547.

Before the reform of the General Roman Calendar St. Benedict's feast was celebrated on March 21. Today was the feast of St. Pius I who was pope from 140 to 155. He was possibly the brother of Hermas, the author of the book known as the Shepherd of Hermas, one of the earliest books extant on penance. During his pontificate Pius experienced the difficulties caused by the heretic Marcion who came to Rome and broke away from the Church; he is also the contemporary of the Roman apologist St. Justin. He was buried at the Vatican."

Holy See says protect the dignity and rights of legal and illegal immigrants

Brussels, Jul 11, 2007 / 10:15 am (CNA).- Speaking at the Global Forum on Migration in Brussels, Belgium, Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples said that the human dignity and freedoms of immigrants must be respected.

The Global Forum is an initiative that is being sponsored by the United Nations to build a more cohesive and uniform approach to policies on migration and development among its member nations.

Addressing those gathered in English, the archbishop recalled how "migrants contribute to their host country's well-being, and also because of this their human dignity must be respected and their freedoms guaranteed: the right to a dignified life, to fair treatment at work, to have access to education, health and other social benefits, to grow in competence and develop humanly, to freely manifest their culture and practice their religion.

At the same time, the archbishop was sure not to neglect..." Read entire story here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Catholic Carnival!

What?? You haven't seen the Catholic Carnival this week? I happen to be hosting it this week and it is up and ready over at my other blog, Embracing Motherhood. Go take a look and be prepared to spend some time reading a lot of wonderful submissions.

Beauty in its Time

Watch this very BEAUTIFUL video by my very talented friend Sandy Carlson!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Where has the time gone?

See this handsome young man? This National Honor Society High School graduate? This son of mine, Joseph, was just "yesterday" in Mother Teresa's arms and now he just received his diploma at his high school graduation ceremony.

Where has the time gone?

Pope Benedict going away to pray and recharge

Rome, Jul 9, 2007 / 10:40 am (CNA).- Just before departing for his own vacation in the Alps of northern Italy, Pope Benedict said that he hopes that everyone can have some vacation, to recharge their spiritual and physical energies and to come into a healthy contact with nature.

At 10.30 a.m. today, the Holy Father departed from Rome's Ciampino airport on an hour-long flight to the airport of Treviso-Istrana. From there he traveled by helicopter to Lorenzago, the mountain getaway where he will devote himself to “more time for prayer and reflection.”

The Pope will be staying in the same villa that John Paul II used several times for his vacations.

Benedict XVI will spend 18 days in the northern Italian alpine resort. After his vacation, he will go to his summer residence of Castelgandolfo where he will remain until the end of September.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Fr. James's Sunday Homily

Considerations For The 4th Of July
Emma Lazarus (1849-1887) was one of the first successful Jewish American authors, and was celebrated in her time as an important American poet. She is best known for her immortal words that are engraved on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Her poem, “The Great Colossus”, continue to inspire Americans on how we think about freedom.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,

With conquering limbs astride from land to land;

Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand

A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame

Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name

Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she

With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Our country is a good country. Despite our problems and challenges, our shores have provided freedom and opportunity for millions of peoples. In his First Inaugural Address (January 20, 1981), President Ronald Reagan said: “If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before. Freedom and the dignity of the individual have been more available and assured here than in any other place on Earth”.

However, we all know too well, that our nation is presently challenged by many difficulties.
Read entire homily here.

Please Pray for Gabriel

Little Gabriel is only 3 years old and was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), cancer of the blood. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments. He is the son of Tom Sullivan, the Information Technology Director at EWTN. Would you please pray for Gabriel? Also, the folks over at EWTN are taking up a collection to help pay for his meications and hospitalizations. If you can contribute something (anything) please check out Gabriel's website. Please check it out anyway to read about Gabriel.

Prayer for Gabriel

Heavenly Father, I call on you right now in a special way. It is through Your power that Gabriel was created. Every breath he takes, every morning he wakes, and every moment of every hour, he lives under Your power.

Father, I ask you now to touch Gabriel with that same power. For if You created him from nothing, You can certainly recreate him. Fill him with the healing power of Your Spirit. Cast out anything that should not be in him. Mend what is broken. Root out any unproductive cells. Open any blocked arteries or veins and rebuild any damaged area. Remove all inflammation and cleanse any infection.

Let the warmth of Your healing love pass through Gabriel’s body to make new any unhealthy areas so that his body will function the way you created it to function.

And Father, restore Gabriel to full health in mind and body so that he may serve You the rest of his life. I ask this through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

(Prayer was composed by Fr. Larry J. Hess. Prayer cards for you or your loved ones can be obtained at, Fr. Larry Hess, 436 South 2nd St., Bangor, PA 18013 or by calling 610-588-5445.)

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Today marks the day...

Vatican City, Jul 7, 2007 / 04:59 am (CNA).- Today marks the historic issuance of Pope Benedict’s apostolic letter on the use of the Roman Missal of 1962. The much talked about letter begins with the Pope giving a history of the use of the Roman Missal, and then provides, among other things, an explanation of the purpose of this Motu Proprio.
Before launching into the history of the pre-Vatican II Missal, the Pope makes the distinction that while some believe that it was done away with by the liturgical reforms of Vatican II, this was never the case.

“I would like to draw attention to the fact that this Missal was never juridically abrogated and, consequently, in principle, was always permitted.”

In order for his new letter to be understood correctly, Benedict XVI gives his readers some historical context.

Read entire article here.

Fast to stop abortion...

Julie at Happy Catholic had this to say on Friday...

"First Friday Snuck Up on Me ...
... to the point where I was just getting ready to fix my breakfast when I suddenly remembered. I thought, "Why did I have to remember now? Why not after I ate?" (Yes, that is how lowdown I am about fasting...)

Well, duh. My Guardian Angel is there to take care of those very omissions. Thanks G!

Here's why the First Friday fast ...
... We are three bloggers who also live in the Dallas area. We are deeply committed to ending abortion in this country. To that end, we have committed ourselves to the following: On each First Friday for the next eleven months, we will fast and pray before the Blessed Sacrament for an end to abortion. This will culminate at the annual Dallas March for Life in January of 2008, where we will join our bishop and the faithful of this city in marching to the courthouse where Roe was originally argued.

We ask anyone reading these words to join us. Fast and pray with us each First Friday, no matter how far removed you are from Dallas. Spend some time in Eucharistic adoration, and implore Christ to end this curse. We especially ask other Dallas area bloggers and residents to join us, at least in spirit. If you would rather not fast, then pray for those of us that do. ..."

Book contest!

Go on over to Embracing Motherhood to check out my summer book contest!

God bless!

Please pray for my children...

Please pray for two of my children who are flying today to the "other side of the world!" It will be the first time that we are so far apart. If you have a minute, would you please say a prayer for their safety? Thank you so much!

God bless!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Our Lord's promises to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Today is the first Friday of the month.

Our Lord appeared to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque with twelve promises for those devoted to His Most Sacred Heart.

Promises for those devoted to the Sacred Heart:

1. "I will give them all the graces necessary in their state of life."
2. "I will establish peace in their homes."
3. "I will comfort them in their afflictions."
4. "I will be their secure refuge during life, and above all in death."
5. "I will bestow a large blessing upon all their undertakings."
6. "Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and the infinite ocean of mercy."
7. "Tepid souls shall grow fervent."
8. "Fervent souls shall quickly mount to high perfection."
9. "I will bless every place where a picture of My Heart shall be set up and honored."
10. "I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts."
11. "Those who shall promote this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be blotted out."
12. "I promise thee in the excessive mercy of My Heart that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who communicate on the First Friday in nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving the Sacraments; My Divine heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Jesus is involved in a controversy again

New Orleans, Jul 5, 2007 / 10:19 am (CNA).- The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the city of Slidell, Louisiana on Tuesday for displaying a painting of Jesus in its courthouse lobby.

The ACLU sued after the Slidell City Court refused to voluntarily remove the picture and a message below it that reads: "To Know Peace, Obey These Laws." The ACLU says the portrait — an image of Jesus presenting the New Testament — is a religious icon of the Eastern Orthodox branch of Christianity, reported The Associated Press. It claims the portrait violates the constitutional separation of church and state.

The suit was filed on behalf of an unidentified person who complained to the ACLU about the picture. The defendants in the suit are the city of Slidell, City Judge James Lamz and St. Tammany Parish, which partially funds the court, said the ACLU.

Read entire story here.

Yucky Stuff!

Go on over to my blog Embracing Motherhood if you'd like to read about some dangers of germs lurking in the grocery store and your home. Yucky stuff, but important.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Pope Benedict speaks about St. Basil

Vatican City, Jul 4, 2007 / 09:13 am (CNA).- In today’s catechesis on the early Church fathers, Pope Benedict focused on St. Basil. Referring to the Byzantine Divine Liturgy, the Holy Father called Basil a "light of the Church." The audience, attended by 12,000 people, began in St. Peter’s Basilica and then was continued in the Paul VI Hall.

St. Basil, the Pope explained, was born in the 4th century. "Dissatisfied with his worldly successes and ... attracted by Christ, ... he dedicated himself to a monastic life in prayer ... and in the practice of charity." The Church in both East and West, he added, "looks to him admiringly for the sanctity of his life, the excellence of his doctrine and the harmonic blend of his intellectual and practical gifts."

Read entire story here.

Farmers, be careful!

I found this sad article today about a family that died from methane gas from cow manure on their farm. I post it here to warn farming families of the danger. I don't want to spoil your Fourth of July, but feel it's important to know.

"BRIDGEWATER, Va. (July 4) - Exposure to methane gas led to the deaths of four family members and a farmhand, but whether they suffocated from the fumes or drowned in 18 inches of liquefied cow manure may never be known, authorities said..."

The article is here

Happy Fourth!

Here is an article from the National Catholic Register about the Fourth of July and America in which our own Fr. James Farfaglia (my friend whose Sunday homilies I feature here at Daily Donna-Marie) is quoted. Read and enjoy the holiday...stay safe!

"Patriotic feelings run high on the Fourth of July. So does the urge to thank God for our country — in song.

As well we should. Three perennial favorites, in particular, are as at home closing the liturgy as they are leading the parade. “America the Beautiful” and “America” (also known as “My Country, ’Tis of Thee”) are included in the St. Michael Hymnal. Along with “God Bless America,” they are often used as the recessional hymn on or near patriotic holidays.

Hearing the opening lyrics of “America the Beautiful” puts a lump in many an American throat. The only thing that should top the patriotic feeling is the refrain that changes its patriotic prayer slightly with each repetition: America! America! God shed His grace on thee / And crowned thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea … God mend thine ev’ry flaw; Confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!"

Read entire article here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Greeting the Fourth of July

Catholic Culture offers this article:
Greeting the Fourth
by Dr. Jeff Mirus
July 3, 2007

Committed Catholics in America sometimes fret over the celebration of Independence Day. The culture wars keep us focused on so much that is seriously wrong in our country. This can lead to depression and bitterness when it comes to our preeminent national holiday. But what other perspective is possible?

A Vale of Tears

The answer to this question lies in a proper understanding of this world, which prior generations were astute enough to call a vale of tears. I suppose it is only human to wish we could be dealing with problems other than those we’ve been given, but it is nonetheless a character flaw, and the first point to remember is that there are always grave problems with the world.

Pick any century, from the first to the twenty-first, and you’ll find wars, oppression, natural disasters, poverty, famine, apostasy, corruption of various kinds in the Church, Read entire article here.

Girl hurt on amusement park ride

Isn't it a shame that this girl was hurt on what is thought of as an innocent amusement park ride? A spinning teacup ride which is a common one ridden by children. Read this article below. And just be careful with your kids this summer!

DANIA BEACH, Fla. (July 2) - A 13-year-old girl was hospitalized after hitting her head while on a spinning teacup ride at an amusement park.

A 13-year-old girl hit her head Thursday while riding the Magic Teacup at Boomers amusement park near Fort Lauderdale, Fla. As of Monday, she was in intensive care.
Natashia West was injured Thursday on the Magic Teacup ride at Boomers, just south of Fort Lauderdale. She remained sedated in intensive care Monday with head injuries.

"All I want is for her to be the same little girl she was," said Donnie Jackson, her father.

The ride carries passengers inside round cups. At the center of each cup is a wheel riders can turn to control how fast it spins. It was not clear how Natashia hit her head or what part of the ride she hit it on.
Read entire article here.

Pope Benedict due to make another apostolic trip

Vatican City, Jul 3, 2007 / 08:59 am (CNA).- Benedict XVI is due to make an apostolic trip to Austria from September 7 to 9, for the 850th anniversary of the foundation of the Shrine of Mariazell.

The Marian shrine is located in the foothills of the Austrian Alps and is the most popular pilgrimage site in central Europe. The shrine can be reached by foot or by bus. The popularity of the shrine is demonstrated by the fact that there are trails that lead to the shrine from every region of the country, thus making a pilgrimage from any country surrounding Austria possible. Along the pilgrimage routes, various roadside shrines have been established for pilgrims to pray at.

Read entire article here.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Calling all skywatchers...

Watch Venus and its fainter partner Saturn as they exit the twilight stage in July.
Venus and Saturn begin July as a dramatic close pair in the west at dusk, but then Saturn pulls away as both planets sink lower week by week. Meanwhile Jupiter dominates the south at dusk. Mars shines in the early morning hours. And in the second half of July, Mercury becomes fairly easy to see at dawn.

Read article here.

Fr. James's Sunday Homily


Mike Christian came from a small town near Selma, Alabama. He enlisted in the Navy at seventeen. During the Vietnam War he was captured by the North Vietnamese in 1967. In the same group of captives was Senator John McCain.

McCain gave an account of Christian's determination. Determined to keep the spirits high among the other prisoners as they were being cruelly tortured, Christian was able to gather small items of clothing from some packages the few delivered to the prisoners from the U.S. With the bamboo needle he had acquired and little strips of cloth ripped from the clothing, he painstakingly assembled an American flag and concealed it inside his shirt.

Every afternoon as the American POW’s shared a small bowl of soup, they would hang Mike’s shirt on the wall of the prison cell and recite together the Pledge of Allegiance. But, one day as the Communist soldiers searched the cell they discovered the shirt with the flag sewn inside and removed it. Senator McCain relates that their captors returned that evening and beat Mike Christian, a Naval flight officer, severely for over two hours.

Shortly after the beating, Mike Christian, with his eyes closed shut from the beating, sat in the corner of his cell, sewing another American flag inside another shirt.

This brave soldier made a crucial decision: faced with the possibility of more beatings and even death itself, he was determined to make another American flag in order to motivate his fellow POW’s and keep them from becoming discouraged.

In this Sunday’s Gospel narrative, Jesus asks three people to make a crucial decision: follow me and leave everything behind. Each of the three made an excuse and was unwilling to make a crucial decision.

Following Jesus must be unconditional. There can be no excuses, and we cannot be lukewarm about our decision.

Christianity is essentially different from all other religions because the Christian does not merely follow a series of rules and regulations. Christianity is not about what, but about whom. Christianity is about relationship and of course, the greatest relationship of all. Christianity is about a relationship with the best friend anyone could ever have, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Catholic theologian Romano Guardini once wrote: “For Christ there is no norm. Once we meet Him the only way He can be met, in faith; once we renounce all personal judgment, letting Scripture speak with the full weight if its authority, every line of the New Testament suddenly comes alive. The Son of God and man escapes all categories – also those of the genius or religious founder. He steps out of eternity, the unknown, an immeasurable Being revealed to us bit by bit through the word of His messengers or through some personal trait. He Himself surpasses all description, though so many have attempted to tell us of Him – the synoptics, Saints Paul, John and James and Jude – all speak stammeringly. And if the portrait they trace are not identical, then only because Jesus Christ can never be intellectually unified. Faith alone senses the incomprehensible oneness of His many-faceted reality with its beatific promise of eternity” (The Lord, p. 629).

Married couples, boyfriends and girlfriends, and even dear friends understand what relationship is all about. True friendship is the love that transforms, bringing about a new way of being and responding. True friendship is not based upon an arrangement of rules. Friendship goes much deeper than this. Friendship is a relationship.

Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are incorporated into Christ. This life of sanctifying grace launches us into an awesome bond with Our Lord. Let us consider two fundamental dimensions of our relationship with Jesus.

First, our relationship with Jesus is personal. He is real because he is alive. He is a living person who sees you, hears you, speaks with you, and walks with you. He is there to bless you and to strengthen you. He is with you to sustain you and to dry your tears. Jesus is always there because He truly rose on Easter Sunday morning. “He has risen as he said, alleluia."

Secondly, our relationship with Jesus is real. Love is not based upon empty words and wishful thinking; love is translated into action. This is why St Paul tells us to live by the Spirit. “If you are guided by the Spirit you will be in no danger of yielding to self-indulgence, since self-indulgence is the opposite of the Spirit, the Spirit is totally against such a thing, and it is precisely because the two are so opposed that you do not always carry out your good intentions” (Galatians 5: 16-17).

When Jesus speaks to us in the Gospels about humility, service, patience, chastity, honesty, apostolic zeal and the other entire gospel virtues, He calls us to put these virtues into practice. We show Jesus our true love by doing gospel deeds. Our relationship is so personal, that we become another Jesus. We talk like Him, we think like Him, we feel like Him and we act like Him. Authentic relationship automatically brings us to imitation. When we live authentic Christianity, we experience true freedom. “When Christ freed us, he meant us to remain free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5: 1).

Any true friendship can only be nourished through a close relationship. When we spend a lot of time away from a friend, the friendship begins to die. The adage: "Out of sight, out of mind", is very true. In order to love, we need to spend time with the Beloved. Contemplative prayer, the assiduous meditation of the Scriptures, daily reception of the Eucharist, and frequent Confession are the preferred moments of intimacy with the Lord Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Discipleship is a crucial decision because when we follow Jesus, our entire life changes. We are no longer the same.

Recently someone told me about a beautiful experience that he had with the Lord. This man had a friend who became his best friend. His best friend was a devout Catholic, hard working, loyal, and lot of fun to be with. One day, this man’s friend died unexpectedly.

Upon learning of his best friend's death, John fell to his knees and cried out to the Lord: “Why? Why did you take away my best friend?” John was inconsolable for many days, until finally, in a moment of prayer, he heard a soft voice while he was in deep prayer that said: “I am your best friend”.