Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carreraand the Swine Flu

MEXICO CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe and canceled Masses in the archdiocese April 26 due to an outbreak of swine flu.

The decision to cancel Masses followed instructions from the local health secretariat that all large gatherings be canceled as authorities raced to contain an epidemic that threatened to spread well beyond Mexico. By midday April 27, more than 100 Mexicans had died and more than 1,000 were sick in the Mexican capital. The United States had confirmed 40 cases in five states, and six cases had been confirmed in two Canadian provinces.

Cardinal Rivera celebrated Mass April 26 behind closed doors in the Metropolitan Cathedral for about 50 people who had been permitted to enter.

In his homily, he called on the Mexican population to never lose hope and to mutually assist each another during the crisis. He also prayed to Our Lady of Guadalupe for intervention, noting that she had helped during pandemics four times since 1554.

"We beg for your protection and help for quickly overcoming the epidemic that has affected our nation," Cardinal Rivera prayed. "Cover us with your cloak; free us from this evil."

Later in the day, an image of Christ on the cross -- known as the "Lord of Health" -- was removed from its spot in the cathedral for the first time since 1850 and carried in a procession around central Mexico City. The "Cristo," as the image is known, has been credited with past miracles, including intervention in an 1850 cholera outbreak.

Much of the swine flu attention has been focused on Mexico City, but the disease has also claimed 10 lives in the north-central state of San Luis Potosi. In Mexico City, as the disease spread, face masks were common, traffic was light and many businesses stayed closed. The swine flu forced the closure of schools and universities throughout the country and even nightclubs in beach areas such as Puerto Vallarta and Acapulco.

New York City's 28 cases all were related to St. Francis Preparatory School, which closed April 27 and 28 and canceled all student activities "because of the number of students with flulike symptoms," the school said on its Web site.

"The New York City Health Department is working closely with your school's administration to ensure that measures are in place to provide you with up-to-date information on how to protect yourself from infection," the department said in a note to students distributed by the school.

"So far, all infections with swine influenza in the United States have been mild and all the people who got sick have recovered or are recovering," the note added.

With approximately 2,750 students, St. Francis Prep, located in the borough of Queens, describes itself as the largest private Catholic secondary school in the United States. (From the Catholic News Service)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Most Reverend John M. D'Arcy's letter regarding Notre Dame

Statement to the faithful
April 21, 2009

My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Recently, Father John Jenkins, CSC, in a letter of response to Bishop Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix, who had written him, critical of the decision to invite President Obama to speak and receive an honorary degree of law at Notre Dame, indicated that it was his conviction that the statement “Catholics in Political Life” (USCCB) did not apply in this matter. Father Jenkins kindly sent me a copy of his letter, and also at a later meeting, asked for a response.
In an April 15th letter to Father Jenkins, I responded to his letter.

Now the points made in his letter have been sent by Father Jenkins to the members of the Notre Dame Board of Trustees and have been publicized nationally, as well as locally in the South Bend Tribune. Since the matter is now public, it is my duty as the bishop of this diocese to respond and correct. I take up this responsibility with some sadness, but also with the conviction that if I did not do so, I would be remiss in my pastoral responsibility.

Rather than share my full letter, which I have shared with some in church leadership, I prefer to present some of the key points.

1. The meaning of the sentence in the USCCB document relative to Catholic institutions is clear. It places the responsibility on those institutions, and indeed, on the Catholic community itself.

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” — “Catholics in Political Life,” USCCB.

2. When there is a doubt concerning the meaning of a document of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, where does one find the authentic interpretation? A fundamental, canonical and theological principle states that it is found in the local bishop, who is the teacher and lawgiver in his diocese. — Canon 330, 375 §§ 1 & 2; 380; 381 § 1; 391 § 1; 392, & 394 §1.

3. I informed Father Jenkins that if there was any genuine questions or doubt about the meaning of the relevant sentence in the conference’s document, any competent canonist with knowledge of the tradition and love for Christ’s church had the responsibility to inform Father Jenkins of the fundamental principle that the diocesan bishop alone bears the responsibility to provide an authoritative interpretation.

4. I reminded Father Jenkins that he indicated that he consulted presidents of other Catholic universities, and at least indirectly, consulted other bishops, since he asked those presidents to share with him those judgments of their own bishops. However, he chose not to consult his own bishop who, as I made clear, is the teacher and lawgiver in his own diocese. I reminded Father Jenkins that I was not informed of the invitation until after it was accepted by the president. I mentioned again that it is at the heart of the diocesan bishop’s pastoral responsibility to teach as revealed in sacred Scripture and the tradition. (“Lumen Gentium,” 20; and “Christus Dominus,” 2.) I reminded him that it is also central to the university’s relationship to the church. (“Ex corde ecclesiae,” 27 & 28; Gen. Norm., Art. 5, §§ 1-3.)

5. Another key point. In his letter to Bishop Olmsted and in the widespread publicity, which has taken place as the points in the letter have been made public, Father Jenkins declared the invitation to President Obama does not “suggest support” for his actions, because he has expressed and continues to express disagreement with him on issues surrounding protection of life. I wrote that the outpouring of hundreds of thousands who are shocked by the invitation clearly demonstrates, that this invitation has, in fact, scandalized many Catholics and other people of goodwill. In my office alone, there have been over 3,300 messages of shock, dismay and outrage, and they are still coming in. It seems that the action in itself speaks so loudly that people have not been able to hear the words of Father Jenkins, and indeed, the action has suggested approval to many.

In the publicity surrounding the points Father Jenkins has made, he also says he is “following the document of the bishops” by “laying a basis for engagement with the president on this issue.” I indicated that I, like many others, will await to see what the follow up is on this issue between Notre Dame and President Obama.

6. As I have said in a recent interview and which I have said to Father Jenkins, it would be one thing to bring the president here for a discussion on healthcare or immigration, and no person of goodwill could rightly oppose this. We have here, however, the granting of an honorary degree of law to someone whose activities both as president and previously, have been altogether supportive of laws against the dignity of the human person yet to be born.

In my letter, I have also asked Father Jenkins to correct, and if possible, withdraw the erroneous talking points, which appeared in the South Bend Tribune and in other media outlets across the country. The statements which Father Jenkins has made are simply wrong and give a flawed justification for his actions.

I consider it now settled — that the USCCB document, “Catholics in Public Life,” does indeed apply in this matter.
The failure to consult the local bishop who, whatever his unworthiness, is the teacher and lawgiver in the diocese, is a serious mistake. Proper consultation could have prevented an action, which has caused such painful division between Notre Dame and many bishops — and a large number of the faithful.

That division must be addressed through prayer and action, and I pledge to work with Father Jenkins and all at Notre Dame to heal the terrible breach, which has taken place between Notre Dame and the church. It cannot be allowed to continue.
I ask all to pray that this healing will take place in a way that is substantial and true, and not illusory. Notre Dame and Father Jenkins must do their part if this healing is to take place. I will do my part.

Sincerely yours in our Lord,
Most Reverend
John M. D’Arcy

( Also see it here.)

Angels and Demons - Anti-Catholic?

From the National Catholic Register Blog:

"The Hollywood director and actor isn’t an angel, that is, when it comes to disseminating anti-Catholic propaganda through his movies.

Howard has taken issue this week with Catholic League President Bill Donohue’s assessment that Howard’s about-to-be released film Angels & Demons is guilty of being grossly anti-Catholic.

Howard is the director of Angels & Demons, which is based on Dan Brown’s novel of the same name. Howard also served as director of the cinematic version of Brown’s notoriously anti-Catholic novel The Da Vinci Code, which is a sequel to Angels & Demons.

In a commentary at The Huffington Post, Howard complains Donohue’s criticism of his upcoming film is unfounded. Writes Howard, “Let me be clear: neither I nor Angels & Demons are anti-Catholic.”

The film version of Angels & Demons hasn’t even hit theaters yet, so it’s difficult to judge exactly how anti-Catholic it is.

But Howard’s earlier direction of The Da Vinci Code makes a mockery of any claim that he’s not anti-Catholic. Both Brown’s historically fraudulent potboiler and Howard’s screen version of it are replete with calumnies against Christianity and the Catholic Church. And unfortunately, many credulous readers and moviegoers assume those calumnies are based in fact.

Go here to learn more about the shortcomings of The Da Vinci Code.

Entertainment Weekly speculates here that Howard is actually happy to be singled out as being anti-Catholic and indeed is trying to draw more attention to this criticism by penning his Huffington Post article.

Why? Because, according to Entertainment Weekly, Howard hopes the controversy will hype box-office receipts for Angels & Demons to the same stratospheric levels as attained by The Da Vinci Code.

“Well played, Mr. Howard,” remarks Entertainment Weekly’s Jeff Labrecque. “Donahue might be your biggest critic, but he’s also your greatest publicity tool.”

Entertainment Weekly’s theory may be plausible, but either way Howard’s role in translating Dan Brown’s novels onto the silver screen reflects little credit on the Hollywood director.

After all, it’s debatable whether it’s more objectionable to have disseminated nasty anti-Catholic bigotry because you are really are a nasty anti-Catholic bigot, or to have disseminated the same nasty anti-Catholic bigotry simply because you’re willing to do almost anything to make money from filmgoers."

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Happy Mercy Sunday!

The Catholic Crisis: Georgetown and Notre Dame controversies

The Catholic Identity Crisis

What the Georgetown and Notre Dame controversies reveal.

By Rev. Robert A. Sirico

In his speech this week at Georgetown University, President Obama made an interesting comment about economics. “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” he said. “We must build our house upon a rock.”

I doubt that anyone would accuse him of plagiarism, but what he was quoting came from Jesus’s parable. The man who built his house on sand paid a price when the winds took it down, while the man who built his house on stone saw it withstand the storm.

It is quite appropriate that a parable was quoted at a Catholic university founded by Jesuits. The entire campus is filled with religious symbolism. Crucifixes, statues of Mary, and other religious items are everywhere, revealing the rich tradition here.

Oddly, however, although the president didn’t mind quoting Jesus without credit, his advance team insisted that all religious symbols be covered in the place in which he was speaking. Incredibly, Georgetown officials complied. At the request of the White House, officials at the university placed cover over the letters IHS — the Greek abbreviation for the name of Jesus.

This incident followed the uproar over Obama’s planned speech at Notre Dame, at which he will be given an honorary doctorate. The Notre Dame development department reports widespread anger at the decision to invite him. (Continued here)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Ninth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Ninth Day
"Today bring to Me the Souls who have become Lukewarm,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. These souls wound My Heart most painfully. My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls. They were the reason I cried out: 'Father, take this cup away from Me, if it be Your will.' For them, the last hope of salvation is to run to My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are Compassion Itself. I bring lukewarm souls into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart. In this fire of Your pure love, let these tepid souls who, like corpses, filled You with such deep loathing, be once again set aflame. O Most Compassionate Jesus, exercise the omnipotence of Your mercy and draw them into the very ardor of Your love, and bestow upon them the gift of holy love, for nothing is beyond Your power.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon lukewarm souls who are nonetheless enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Father of Mercy, I beg You by the bitter Passion of Your Son and by His three-hour agony on the Cross: Let them, too, glorify the abyss of Your mercy. Amen.

Fr. James's Sunday Homily: Mercy Sunday

"Did you ever stop to think why Jesus rose from the dead with wounds? Jesus rose from the dead with a glorified body. The barriers of time and space no longer apply to him. The Lord appears and disappears with shocking suddenness. He continually demonstrates his physical reality. The Apostles and the disciples see him, hear him, and eat with him. Thomas is told to touch his wounds. The stone rolled away from the entrance, and the carefully folded burial cloths direct our gaze to the physical. He has truly risen.

The disbelief and uncertainty evidenced by those who saw him testify to an apparent strangeness in the appearance of the newly risen Christ. Slowly they came to recognize him, but they still struggled with doubt. We are accustomed to an annual celebration of Easter. However, for the first disciples of Jesus, resurrection was totally new. Let us remember, that the son of the widow of Nain, Jairus' daughter, and Lazarus were all brought back to life by Jesus, but not one of them continued their lives with a glorified body. Although the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that died on Calvary, his physical reality is now different than before. The body of the risen Lord is indeed his physical body, but he now moves about with a glorified body. Each of us will have a glorified body also at the resurrection of the dead if we persevere and are faithful.

Over and over again the gospels stress that something extraordinary has occurred. The Lord is tangible, but he has been transformed. His life is different from what it once was. His glorified body transcends the limitations of time and space. For this reason he can pass through the closed door of the Upper Room, and appear and disappear as he desires. At times his disciples cannot recognize him precisely because their physical reality moves within time and space, and the Lord's physical reality is no longer subject to time and space, although he exists within time and space." (Visit Fr. James here)

The empty tomb and the neatly folded burial cloths point to us that Jesus is physically alive. His crucified body has been transformed. What lesson is he teaching us by keeping his wounds intact?

We can answer this question by turning to our own wounds. What are our wounds? First, we all experience the large wound caused by original sin. Although we are baptized and original sin has been cleansed from our soul, our human nature has been wounded. Our sinful condition manifests itself in different ways and we struggle with those manifestations of fallen human nature.

And then there are the other wounds, the wounds that are smaller. We have wounds that are caused by sickness and the wounds that are caused by problems, adversities, challenges and the disappointments of life.

All of us are wounded. Even Jesus is wounded. By retaining the wounds of his passion, the glorified Jesus is showing us that we can find hope and strength by taking our wounds and uniting them to his wounds.

The eleven apostles of today's gospel passage were discouraged and filled with fear. They had lost all hope. They did not understand that Jesus had to first die on the cross in order to rise on Easter Sunday. They did not understand that the risen Jesus would bear his five wounds as an eternal reminder that when our wounds are united to his wounds we will find true peace.

"Peace be with you". These are the first words of the risen Jesus. He dispels the darkness of discouragement, despair and fear by showing the eleven his glorified and wounded body.

Thomas places his finger in the wounds of Jesus and he believes. "Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe". (John 20: 27)

Many call Thomas the doubting Thomas. All of the Apostles doubted. All of the Apostles ran away and abandoned Jesus. In reality, he is not the doubting Thomas, but the courageous Thomas. He is the only apostle who knows where to find Jesus. By touching the wounds of Jesus, he begins to understand that the risen Jesus is not a ghost, but that he is truly real. By encountering Jesus in his woundedness, he is able to encounter the authentic Jesus, the real Jesus, the whole Jesus. Because he is able to encounter the Jesus that shed his blood on the cross, he falls to the ground and pronounces a profound act of faith: "My Lord and my God". Thomas is able to encounter Jesus in all of his humanity and all of his divinity. He comes to grasp the reality that the risen Jesus is the same Jesus that died on Calvary.

But, where is the risen and wounded Jesus? Where can we encounter him? As Jesus hung on the cross, all of his blood flowed from his wounds. The eternal reminder of his wounds reminds us that we are to experience him in the Eucharist and in the Sacrament of Confession.

By coming to Jesus every day at Mass, for visits and adoration; by encountering the God of mercy through the awesome gift of the sacrament of forgiveness, we can dispel the despair, the discouragement and the fear that may fill our lives.

It is in the Eucharist that we encounter peace because we truly encounter the Lord. We need to bring our wounds to the risen and wounded Jesus every day in the Eucharist. It is there, at the tabernacle, that his wounds will heal us.

On this feast of Divine Mercy, let us remember the words that John Paul II wrote in his second encyclical letter: “Believing in the crucified Son means ‘seeing the Father,’ means believing that love is present in the world and that this love is more powerful than any kind of evil in which individuals, humanity, or the world are involved. Believing in this love means believing in mercy. For mercy is an indispensable dimension of love; it is as it were love's second name and, at the same time, the specific manner in which love is revealed and effected vis-a-vis the reality of the evil that is in the world, affecting and besieging man, insinuating itself even into his heart and capable of causing him to perish in Gehenna” (Dives in Misericordia). Visit Fr. James here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Eighth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Eighth Day
"Today bring to Me the Souls who are in the prison of Purgatory,

and immerse them in the abyss of My mercy. Let the torrents of My Blood cool down their scorching flames. All these souls are greatly loved by Me. They are making retribution to My justice. It is in your power to bring them relief. Draw all the indulgences from the treasury of My Church and offer them on their behalf. Oh, if you only knew the torments they suffer, you would continually offer for them the alms of the spirit and pay off their debt to My justice."

Most Merciful Jesus, You Yourself have said that You desire mercy; so I bring into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls in Purgatory, souls who are very dear to You, and yet, who must make retribution to Your justice. May the streams of Blood and Water which gushed forth from Your Heart put out the flames of Purgatory, that there, too, the power of Your mercy may be celebrated.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls suffering in Purgatory, who are enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. I beg You, by the sorrowful Passion of Jesus Your Son, and by all the bitterness with which His most sacred Soul was flooded: Manifest Your mercy to the souls who are under Your just scrutiny. Look upon them in no other way but only through the Wounds of Jesus, Your dearly beloved Son; for we firmly believe that there is no limit to Your goodness and compassion. Amen.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Seventh Day of Divine Mercy Novena

Seventh Day

Today bring to Me the Souls who especially venerate and glorify My Mercy*,

and immerse them in My mercy. These souls sorrowed most over my Passion and entered most deeply into My spirit. They are living images of My Compassionate Heart. These souls will shine with a special brightness in the next life. Not one of them will go into the fire of hell. I shall particularly defend each one of them at the hour of death.

Most Merciful Jesus, whose Heart is Love Itself, receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who particularly extol and venerate the greatness of Your mercy. These souls are mighty with the very power of God Himself. In the midst of all afflictions and adversities they go forward, confident of Your mercy; and united to You, O Jesus, they carry all mankind on their shoulders. These souls will not be judged severely, but Your mercy will embrace them as they depart from this life.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls who glorify and venerate Your greatest attribute, that of Your fathomless mercy, and who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls are a living Gospel; their hands are full of deeds of mercy, and their hearts, overflowing with joy, sing a canticle of mercy to You, O Most High! I beg You O God:

Show them Your mercy according to the hope and trust they have placed in You. Let there be accomplished in them the promise of Jesus, who said to them that during their life, but especially at the hour of death, the souls who will venerate this fathomless mercy of His, He, Himself, will defend as His glory. Amen.

*The text leads one to conclude that in the first prayer directed to Jesus, Who is the Redeemer, it is "victim" souls and contemplatives that are being prayed for; those persons, that is, that voluntarily offered themselves to God for the salvation of their neighbor (see Col 1:24; 2 Cor 4:12). This explains their close union with the Savior and the extraordinary efficacy that their invisible activity has for others. In the second prayer, directed to the Father from whom comes "every worthwhile gift and every genuine benefit,"we recommend the "active" souls, who promote devotion to The Divine Mercy and exercise with it all the other works that lend themselves to the spiritual and material uplifting of their brethren.

Pope Benedict celebrating his birthday...

Vatican City, Apr 16, 2009 / 10:55 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI, born Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, is celebrating his 82nd birthday today at the papal retreat in Castel Gandalfo.

Having completed the exhausting schedule of Holy Week activities, the Holy Father is quietly celebrating his birthday at the apostolic palace.

Yesterday at the weekly General Audience, well wishers sang “Happy Birthday” to the Pope in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Croatian and Italian. Pope Benedict will also soon be celebrating the anniversary of his election to the papacy, which falls on April 19.

Commenting on the Pope's birthday, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said on Wednesday that he hopes that the Holy Father "may long continue to carry out his ministry, ... helping the men and women of today to find God."

Fr. Lombardi added that the “focus of his concern is to bring mankind to God and God to mankind, through a great personal love for Christ.”

This often means adopting a “critical attitude” towards the numerous negative aspects of today's culture and mentality, but, the press director noted, “in the final analysis the principle message [the Church] wishes to communicate is a message of love, a message for the good of mankind and of the human person; that is, their reconciliation with God and with all the other men and women who live on this earth." (Continued here)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Sixth Day - Divine Mercy Novena

Sixth Day

Today bring to Me the Meek and Humble Souls and the Souls of Little Children,

and immerse them in My mercy. These souls most closely resemble My Heart. They strengthened Me during My bitter agony. I saw them as earthly Angels, who will keep vigil at My altars. I pour out upon them whole torrents of grace. I favor humble souls with My confidence.

Most Merciful Jesus, You yourself have said, "Learn from Me for I am meek and humble of heart." Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart all meek and humble souls and the souls of little children. These souls send all heaven into ecstasy and they are the heavenly Father's favorites. They are a sweet-smelling bouquet before the throne of God; God Himself takes delight in their fragrance. These souls have a permanent abode in Your Most Compassionate Heart, O Jesus, and they unceasingly sing out a hymn of love and mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon meek souls, upon humble souls, and upon little children who are enfolded in the abode which is the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. These souls bear the closest resemblance to Your Son. Their fragrance rises from the earth and reaches Your very throne. Father of mercy and of all goodness, I beg You by the love You bear these souls and by the delight You take in them: Bless the whole world, that all souls together may sing out the praises of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Fifth Day - Divine Mercy Novena

Fifth Day

"Today bring to Me the Souls of those who have separated themselves from My Church*,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. During My bitter Passion they tore at My Body and Heart, that is, My Church. As they return to unity with the Church My wounds heal and in this way they alleviate My Passion."

Most Merciful Jesus, Goodness Itself, You do not refuse light to those who seek it of You. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Church. Draw them by Your light into the unity of the Church, and do not let them escape from the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart; but bring it about that they, too, come to glorify the generosity of Your mercy.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who have separated themselves from Your Son's Church, who have squandered Your blessings and misused Your graces by obstinately persisting in their errors. Do not look upon their errors, but upon the love of Your own Son and upon His bitter Passion, which He underwent for their sake, since they, too, are enclosed in His Most Compassionate Heart. Bring it about that they also may glorify Your great mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord's original words here were "heretics and schismatics," since He spoke to Saint Faustina within the context of her times. As of the Second Vatican Council, Church authorities have seen fit not to use those designations in accordance with the explanation given in the Council's Decree on Ecumenism (n.3). Every pope since the Council has reaffirmed that usage. Saint Faustina herself, her heart always in harmony with the mind of the Church, most certainly would have agreed. When at one time, because of the decisions of her superiors and father confessor, she was not able to execute Our Lord's inspirations and orders, she declared: "I will follow Your will insofar as You will permit me to do so through Your representative. O my Jesus " I give priority to the voice of the Church over the voice with which You speak to me" (497). The Lord confirmed her action and praised her for it.

Moving story about Italy's earthquake and Divine intervention

"It was the picture that brought home the human tragedy of the earthquake that left Italy devastated this week. Staggering around in the rubble, unsure whether to cry with grief or joy, Antonello Colangeli held his head in his hands and wept as he watched his son being pulled from the debris.

The scene would be repeated across the region of Abruzzo, east of Rome. The pain of those looking for their loved ones was compounded with every aftershock.

Five days after the 6.3 magnitude earthquake destroyed his home town of L’Aquila, crushing students as they slept and entombing entire families inside collapsed homes, Dr Colangeli presses his fingers against his temples once again. This time it is in disbelief at what he likes to call a small series of miracles... Continued here.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fourth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Fourth Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

"Today bring to Me those who do not believe in God and those who do not know Me,

I was thinking also of them during My bitter Passion, and their future zeal comforted My Heart. Immerse them in the ocean of My mercy."

Most compassionate Jesus, You are the Light of the whole world. Receive into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart the souls of those who do not believe in God and of those who as yet do not know You. Let the rays of Your grace enlighten them that they, too, together with us, may extol Your wonderful mercy; and do not let them escape from the abode which is Your Most Compassionate Heart.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the souls of those who do not believe in You, and of those who as yet do not know You, but who are enclosed in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. Draw them to the light of the Gospel. These souls do not know what great happiness it is to love You. Grant that they, too, may extol the generosity of Your mercy for endless ages. Amen.

*Our Lord's original words here were "the pagans." Since the pontificate of Pope John XXIII, the Church has seen fit to replace this term with clearer and more appropriate terminology.

Go here for more details

Pope Benedict's Easter address...

Easter 2009 Urbi et Orbi (The City and the World) address, delivered yesterday from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome:

"From the depths of my heart, I wish all of you a blessed Easter. To quote Saint Augustine, “Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra — the resurrection of the Lord is our hope” (Sermon 261:1). With these words, the great Bishop explained to the faithful that Jesus rose again so that we, though destined to die, should not despair, worrying that with death life is completely finished; Christ is risen to give us hope (cf. ibid.).

Indeed, one of the questions that most preoccupies men and women is this: what is there after death? To this mystery today’s solemnity allows us to respond that death does not have the last word, because Life will be victorious at the end. This certainty of ours is based not on simple human reasoning, but on a historical fact of faith: Jesus Christ, crucified and buried, is risen with his glorified body. Jesus is risen so that we too, believing in him, may have eternal life. This proclamation is at the heart of the Gospel message. As Saint Paul vigorously declares: “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain.” He goes on to say: “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor 15:14,19). Ever since the dawn of Easter a new Spring of hope has filled the world; from that day forward our resurrection has begun, because Easter does not simply signal a moment in history, but the beginning of a new condition: Jesus is risen not because his memory remains alive in the hearts of his disciples, but because he himself lives in us, and in him we can already savour the joy of eternal life.

The resurrection, then, is not a theory, but a historical reality revealed by the man Jesus Christ by means of his “Passover”, his “passage”, that has opened a “new way” between heaven and earth (cf. Heb 10:20). It is neither a myth nor a dream, it is not a vision or a utopia, it is not a fairy tale, but it is a singular and unrepeatable event: Jesus of Nazareth, son of Mary, who at dusk on Friday was taken down from the Cross and buried, has victoriously left the tomb. In fact, at dawn on the first day after the Sabbath, Peter and John found the tomb empty. Mary Magdalene and the other women encountered the risen Jesus. On the way to Emmaus the two disciples recognized him at the breaking of the bread. The Risen One appeared to the Apostles that evening in the Upper Room and then to many other disciples in Galilee.

The proclamation of the Lord’s Resurrection lightens up the dark regions of the world in which we live. I am referring particularly to materialism and nihilism, to a vision of the world that is unable to move beyond what is scientifically verifiable, and retreats cheerlessly into a sense of emptiness which is thought to be the definitive destiny of human life. It is a fact that if Christ had not risen, the “emptiness” would be set to prevail. If we take away Christ and his resurrection, there is no escape for man, and every one of his hopes remains an illusion. Yet today is the day when the proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection vigorously bursts forth, and it is the answer to the recurring question of the sceptics, that we also find in the book of Ecclesiastes: “Is there a thing of which it is said, ‘See, this is new’?” (Ec 1:10). We answer, yes: on Easter morning, everything was renewed. “Mors et vita, duello conflixere mirando: dux vitae mortuus, regnat vivus – Death and life have come face to face in a tremendous duel: the Lord of life was dead, but now he lives triumphant.” This is what is new! A newness that changes the lives of those who accept it, as in the case of the saints. This, for example, is what happened to Saint Paul.

Many times, in the context of the Pauline year, we have had occasion to meditate on the experience of the great Apostle. Saul of Tarsus, the relentless persecutor ofChristians, encountered the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and was “conquered” by him. The rest we know. In Paul there occurred what he would later write about to the Christians of Corinth: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Cor 5:17). Let us look at this great evangelizer, who with bold enthusiasm and apostolic zeal brought the Gospel to many different peoples in the world of that time. Let his teaching and example inspire us to go in search of the Lord Jesus. Let them encourage us to trust him, because that sense of emptiness, which tends to intoxicate humanity, has been overcome by the light and the hope that emanate from the resurrection. The words of the Psalm have truly been fulfilled: “Darkness is not darkness for you, and the night is as clear as the day” (Ps 139 [138]:12). It is no longer emptiness that envelops all things, but the loving presence of God. The very reign of death has been set free, because the Word of life has even reached the “underworld”, carried by the breath of the Spirit (v. 8).

If it is true that death no longer has power over man and over the world, there still remain very many, in fact too many signs of its former dominion. Even if through Easter, Christ has destroyed the root of evil, he still wants the assistance of men and women in every time and place who help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love. This is the message which, during my recent Apostolic Visit to Cameroon and Angola, I wanted to convey to the entire African continent, where I was welcomed with such great enthusiasm and readiness to listen. Africa suffers disproportionately from the cruel and unending conflicts, often forgotten, that are causing so much bloodshed and destruction in several of her nations, and from the growing number of her sons and daughters who fall prey to hunger, poverty and disease. I shall repeat the same message emphatically in the Holy Land, to which I shall have the joy of travelling in a few weeks from now. Reconciliation – difficult, but indispensable – is a precondition for a future of overall security and peaceful coexistence, and it can only be achieved through renewed, persevering and sincere efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My thoughts move outwards from the Holy Land to neighbouring countries, to the Middle East, to the whole world. At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and deprivation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope. Let no one draw back from this peaceful battle that has been launched by Christ’s Resurrection. For as I said earlier, Christ is looking for men and women who will help him to affirm his victory using his own weapons: the weapons of justice and truth, mercy, forgiveness and love.

Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra! The resurrection of Christ is our hope! This the Church proclaims today with joy. She announces the hope that is now firm and invincible because God has raised Jesus Christ from the dead. She communicates the hope that she carries in her heart and wishes to share with all people in every place, especially where Christians suffer persecution because of their faith and their commitment to justice and peace. She invokes the hope that can call forth the courage to do good, even when it costs, especially when it costs. Today the Church sings “the day that the Lord has made”, and she summons people to joy. Today the Church calls in prayer upon Mary, Star of Hope, asking her to guide humanity towards the safe haven of salvation which is the heart of Christ, the paschal Victim, the Lamb who has “redeemed the world”, the Innocent one who has “reconciled us sinners with the Father”. To him, our victorious King, to him who is crucified and risen, we sing out with joy our Alleluia!"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Happy Easter!

Third Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Third Day
"Today bring to Me all Devout and Faithful Souls,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. These souls brought me consolation on the Way of the Cross. They were a drop of consolation in the midst of an ocean of bitterness."

Most Merciful Jesus, from the treasury of Your mercy, You impart Your graces in great abundance to each and all. Receive us into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart and never let us escape from It. We beg this grace of You by that most wondrous love for the heavenly Father with which Your Heart burns so fiercely.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon faithful souls, as upon the inheritance of Your Son. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, grant them Your blessing and surround them with Your constant protection. Thus may they never fail in love or lose the treasure of the holy faith, but rather, with all the hosts of Angels and Saints, may they glorify Your boundless mercy for endless ages. Amen.

Go here for more details

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Second Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

Second Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

"Today bring to Me the Souls of Priests and Religious,

and immerse them in My unfathomable mercy. It was they who gave me strength to endure My bitter Passion. Through them as through channels My mercy flows out upon mankind."

Most Merciful Jesus, from whom comes all that is good, increase Your grace in men and women consecrated to Your service,* that they may perform worthy works of mercy; and that all who see them may glorify the Father of Mercy who is in heaven.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon the company of chosen ones in Your vineyard -- upon the souls of priests and religious; and endow them with the strength of Your blessing. For the love of the Heart of Your Son in which they are enfolded, impart to them Your power and light, that they may be able to guide others in the way of salvation and with one voice sing praise to Your boundless mercy for ages without end. Amen.

* In the original text, Saint Faustina uses the pronoun "us" since she was offering this prayer as a consecrated religious sister. The wording adapted here is intended to make the prayer suitable for universal use.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday Reflection from Fr. James

From Fr. James...

"Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death, judgment, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile! - from a prayer composed by St. Padre Pio

Each of us has a cross to carry. We must all identify our crosses and carry them with patience, joy and love. Why complain about something which is our means to gain eternal life?

As Thomas a' Kempis reminds us, "The cross, therefore, is always ready; it awaits you everywhere. No matter where you may go, you cannot escape it, for wherever you go you take yourself with you and shall always find yourself. Turn where you will -- above, below, without, or within -- you will find a cross in everything, and everywhere you must have patience if you would have peace within and merit an eternal crown.

If you carry the cross willingly, it will carry and lead you to the desired goal where indeed there shall be no more suffering, but here there shall be. If you carry it unwillingly, you create a burden for yourself and increase the load, though still you have to bear it. If you cast away one cross, you will find another and perhaps a heavier one" (The Imitation of Christ, Book II, chapter 12).

The transfiguration of Jesus on Mount Tabor tells us that the glory of the resurrection will only take place through the sufferings of Good Friday. The transfiguration of Jesus teaches us that the Cross is necessary in order for Easter to take place. However, too many of our contemporaries are like those who stood at the foot of the Cross and cried out to Jesus that He should come down from the Cross. Many would like to have a Christianity without self-denial, discipline, and renunciation. However, Christianity without the Cross is not Christianity at all.

My own personal journey with the Lord Jesus has shown me that all of this is true. As I look back on my life, every cross, every tribulation, every persecution, every moment of bodily pain has been a moment of growth, sanctification and transformation. We must die to self in order to live.

If I may, I would like to conclude with a personal story that is rather intimate. I have never shared this story with anyone, but the story is apropos for our present reflection..." (Continued here)

First Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

First Day of the Divine Mercy Novena

"Today bring to Me all mankind, especially all sinners,

and immerse them in the ocean of My mercy. In this way you will console Me in the bitter grief into which the loss of souls plunges Me."

Most Merciful Jesus, whose very nature it is to have compassion on us and to forgive us, do not look upon our sins but upon our trust which we place in Your infinite goodness. Receive us all into the abode of Your Most Compassionate Heart, and never let us escape from It. We beg this of You by Your love which unites You to the Father and the Holy Spirit.

Eternal Father, turn Your merciful gaze upon all mankind and especially upon poor sinners, all enfolded in the Most Compassionate Heart of Jesus. For the sake of His sorrowful Passion show us Your mercy, that we may praise the omnipotence of Your mercy for ever and ever. Amen.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Divine Mercy Novena starts tomorrow...

The Divine Mercy Novena

Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to the Divine Mercy which would begin on Good Friday. He gave St. Faustina an intention to pray for on each day of the Novena, saving for the last day the most difficult intention of all, the lukewarm and indifferent of whom He said:
"These souls cause Me more suffering than any others; it was from such souls that My soul felt the most revulsion in the Garden of Olives. It was on their account that I said: 'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass Me by.' The last hope of salvation for them is to flee to My Mercy."

In her diary, St. Faustina wrote that Jesus told her:

"On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy ... On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for the graces for their souls."

(Check here for the novena details)

Holy Thursday

From Fr. James's blog...

Holy Thursday reminds us that we possess an immense treasure. When a Catholic priest takes a little piece of unleavened bread and repeats the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, "This is my body", and when he takes a small of amount of wine in a chalice and says, "This is my blood", the bread is no longer bread and the wine is no longer wine.

At every Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, we participate in a marvelous miracle, the miracle called Transubstantiation. Transubstantiation cannot be proved through scientific experimentation.

Transubstantiation belongs to the reality of faith. Faith does not contradict reason. Instead, the gift of faith that we receive at Baptism, gives us a superior vision.

Transubstantiation means "change of substance", or "change of reality." When the priest repeats the words that Jesus spoke at the Last Supper, the bread is no longer bread, and the wine is no longer wine. Instead, the entire substance of the bread and the entire substance of the wine have been changed into the substance of The Body and Blood of Christ.

Transubstantiation occurs only by the power of God, and in a way that we cannot empirically detect. We know that transubstantiation takes place through the certainty of faith.

Jesus, the Son of God; Jesus the Messiah; Jesus the Lord and Savior of the universe said: "This is my body"; "This is my blood". Faith is a vision superior to reason, but it does not contradict reason, precisely because faith relies upon the authority of God who does not deceive, nor can be deceived. Jesus is the truth and thus is incapable of lying.

"I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is my flesh for the life of the world” (John 6: 51).
Without the priesthood there is no Eucharist. So, is it any wonder that there is such a frontal attack on the Catholic priesthood today? Why is it that despite the continual calls to obedience from John Paul II and Benedict XVI that the Catholic liturgy is still engulfed in a continual battlefield?

Since the arrival of the Pope Paul VI missal, much damage has been done to the fabric of the unity of the Catholic Church by irresponsible innovators who have confused and even scandalized the Catholic lay faithful. This is why the Vatican issued a document in an attempt to halt the many dangerous and insidious errors that have crept into the Catholic Mass... Continued here)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

National Catholic Register Interviews Donna-Marie

Holy Week in the Domestic Church
Donna Marie Cooper O’Boyle, author of The Domestic Church: Room by Room, speaks about her life and work.

(Go to the National Catholic Register here.)

BY Joseph Pronechen

April 5-11, 2009 Issue

"Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle had a busy 2008. In February, she was one of 260 women invited from around the world by Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, to participate in the International Women’s Congress in Rome to mark the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity and Vocation of Women). She also published three books: The Domestic Church: Room by Room, and Grace Café: Serving Up Recipes for Faithful Mothering (Circle Press, sister publisher to the Register), and Catholic Saints Prayer Book (Our Sunday Visitor).

To bring inspiration to women daily in their role as mothers, O’Boyle also keeps up several blogs. She and her husband, David, are the parents of five children, the youngest of whom is 17.

O’Boyle took time out from working on her latest book, The Heart of Catholicism, to talk about her life and work with Register staff writer Joseph Pronechen.

You’ve written several books on motherhood. How does your family observe Holy Week?

Holy Week is such an integral time of the year for Catholics. It’s a week that we can look forward to celebrating, during which time we can strive to become more intimately united to Jesus’ passion. Even when the kids were very young, I have always encouraged the family to partake in as many Masses and services at church as possible this week, particularly during the holy triduum. At home in our “domestic church,” we attempt to retreat from the secular and focus on the holy, which means less or no TV, Internet, telephone, and the things that take up our time and attention. We focus more on prayer and penance as a family and individually.

Did your background prepare or influence you in your work today?

I grew up in a tight-knit Catholic family with eight kids. It was natural for us to go to church. My mother and grandmother made an impression on me because of their faith, and I recounted that in a chapter in Grace Café: Serving Up Recipes for Faithful Mothering (Circle Press, 2008) called “Unforgettable Teachings.” I wrote it to help encourage families and mothers to put the sacred images of the domestic church in their households. Their example of going to church and praying with the family makes an impression on their children as unforgettable teachings that stay on their hearts.

What particular impression did your mother and grandmother make?

My mother, Alexandra Mary Cooper, had a tough life, but remained faithful and prayerful. Keeping us kids on the straight and narrow spoke volumes. She would gather us together in front of a statue of the Blessed Mother to pray the Rosary together, especially on feast days and for special needs in the family. We prayed the Rosary on a regular basis, and that really stayed with me. The Rosary would become an important part of my life and showed how the Blessed Mother was watching over me.

To walk into my grandmother Alexandra Mary Uzwiak’s home, with its many statues, pictures and images, was like walking into a church. She was a woman of great faith and expressed it in the images and her example and many prayers for the family. She made quite an impression on me because of her strong faith in God. I developed my love for John Paul II from my grandmother.

How did you start publishing your writing while raising a family?

God had a plan that unfolded during the pregnancy of my fifth child, Mary-Catherine. I had to be on complete bed rest during the pregnancy because of a serious problem in my pregnancy. During that time, I got word to Mother Teresa and asked for prayers. She sent me a Miraculous Medal to wear during that pregnancy and said I should trust the Blessed Mother that all would be well. She told me to pray a simple prayer: “Mary, Mother of Jesus, be a mother to me now.” And that would work miracles. It’s so simple. I now teach it all the time.

I had a bustling household with four older children around me, but I had to stay put on the couch and bed to preserve the life of my unborn baby. Being on complete bed rest afforded me the time to do something I had never expected to do during that pregnancy. I was inspired to see a pregnancy as a nine-month novena of living prayer to God, and I started writing a book for expectant mothers that would be an actual journal to record their reflections and prayers — and hopefully be inspired by writings of saints, the Church and holy fathers.

By God’s grace, I wove a novena of prayers to some of the popular saints we invoke during pregnancy, as well as original prayers and teachings from the Church, that would uplift the dignity of motherhood. My purpose was to follow that inspiration and help mothers and expectant mothers to recognize the sublimity of the vocation as a mother. That’s how Prayerfully Expecting (Crossroads Publishing, 2007) came to be.

Other books came out of it, as well. God kept pushing and prodding me to get the message out to mothers and women and families about the dignity of the human person and of motherhood.

I sent them to Mother Teresa, my mentor, spiritual guide and friend. She went over them and had her spiritual director go over them. She surprised me with a foreword for my books Prayerfully Expecting and The Heart of Motherhood.

Tell us about your friendship with Blessed Mother Teresa and her inspiration.

About 20 years ago, I went to Washington to visit (now Servant of God) Father John Hardon. I was very privileged and blessed to have him as my spiritual director. He took us to the Gift of Peace house which was attached to the Missionaries of Charity convent. We visited those sick with cancer and AIDS.

The Missionaries of Charity told us Mother Teresa was in the convent at the time and invited us to come back the next day for either of two Masses in their chapel. Father Hardon asked if I’d like to meet her, but I didn’t want to interfere with her work.

Then, at the Mass we went to, Mother Teresa knelt down beside us.

Our connection happened to my family after the Mass. My daughter Chaldea, who was 6 at the time (now 27), genuflected before the Blessed Sacrament. A nun came up and gave her a big hug. I looked and saw it was Mother Teresa. She went into another room, then came back and walked straight toward me. I was holding Jessica, who was not quite 2. She asked, “Is this the baby who was singing at Mass?” That’s where the conversation began.

We had a beautiful talk about families and family life. She gave us each a blessed Miraculous Medal that she kissed. I felt a strong inspiration on the drive back to Connecticut to get in touch with her to thank her for the medal and prayers. I wrote to her, and within a couple of weeks, I got a letter back from Calcutta. That was the first of 22 letters she would write to me. At least 12 other times I had visits, some of them private, with her in New York.

What were your thoughts about being a delegate to the Holy See’s conference for the 20th anniversary of The Dignity and Vocation of Women?

I was very honored, humbled and surprised to be invited. I’m generally anchored home. I wasn’t even able to go to Mother Teresa’s beatification. But I went as a sponge to absorb as much as I could. It spilled over into my book writing. The Domestic Church: Room by Room and Grace Café: Serving Up Recipes for Faithful Mothering came out of it.

With all of your writing and speaking and engagements, not to mention your family, how do you keep everything balanced?

It’s totally the grace of God: by trusting and asking and constantly praying and offering and surrendering my life. And God does the work. I’m just his servant, and I pray God lives and speaks through me so I can be a light to others.

Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.

Go to the National Catholic Register here.