Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pope Benedict explains the Year of the Priest

Vatican City, Jun 28, 2009 / 10:17 am (CNA).- On Sunday Pope Benedict XVI addressed thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the recitation of the Angelus prayer. Benedict XVI summed up the Pauline Year, which comes to an end tonight, and told those present to follow St. Paul in their passion for Christ and the Gospel.

The Pope launched the Pauline Year to remember the 2,000 years since the birth of the Apostle of Tarsus. The Pauline Year, the Holy Father explained, was "a true period of grace in which, through pilgrimages, catecheses, publications and various initiatives, the figure of Saint Paul was offered again to the entire Church. His vibrant message among Christian communities revived everywhere the passion for Christ and the Gospel.”

The Apostle Paul, Pope Benedict added, represents “a splendid model to follow” in the Year for Priests, which began on June 19, a year which can strengthen priests’ commitment to inner renewal, making them "stronger and more incisive evangelical witnesses in today’s world.”

Pope of Tarsus, he continued, exemplifies the priest who identifies totally with his ministry, as did the Curé d’Ars, conscious that he carries a priceless treasure, which is the message of salvation, but in an “earthen vessel.” (Continued here)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fr. James's Sunday Homily: The Encounter

"Christianity is not about a what; rather it is about a whom. Christianity essentially is about a relationship with the living person, Jesus Christ. This Sunday’s gospel narrative tells us that faith and courage are indispensable ingredients if we wish to truly encounter the Lord.

Both Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage who figure in today’s reading possess these essential qualities. For this reason they are truly able to encounter the Lord.

In the first place, this Sunday’s gospel passage illustrates the depth of Jairus’ faith and courage with these beautiful words: “One of the synagogue officials, named Jairus, came forward. Seeing him he fell at his feet and pleaded earnestly with him, saying, ‘My daughter is at the point of death. Please, come lay your hands on her that she may get well and live’” (Mark 5: 22-23).

Secondly, the woman with the hemorrhage was able to encounter the Lord by touching his cloak. The crowds were also touching and bumping into the Lord, but only this woman was really able to touch the Lord. Her faith and her courage allowed her to truly encounter Jesus. “Jesus aware at once that power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd and asked, ‘Who has touched my clothes?’ But his disciples said to Jesus, ‘You see how the crowd is pressing upon you, and yet you ask, ‘Who touched me?’” (Mark 5: 30-31).

Jairus and the woman with the hemorrhage truly encountered the Lord. Because of their faith and their courage, they were able to enter into a personal relationship with him. The gift of life was the principal fruit of this personal encounter. Jairus' daughter was raised from the dead, and the woman was healed of her affliction.

Let us recall the words from this Sunday’s Old Testament reading: “God did not make death, nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. For he fashioned all things that they might have being; and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is not a destructive drug among them nor any domain of the netherworld on earth, for justice is undying” (Wisdom 1: 13-15).

This Sunday’s liturgy reminds us of Jesus’ words in the Gospel of John: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full” (John 10: 10)... (Continued here)

Friday, June 19, 2009

Happy Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus!

The Year of the Priest Begins Today

Washington D.C., Jun 9, 2009 / 01:18 am (CNA).- The U.S. bishops’ conference has set up a website to help mark the Year for Priests by providing prayers and other resources.

Pope Benedict XVI designated the Year to begin on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, June 19. His announcement also designated St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests, as the Universal Patron of All Priests. According to a press release from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Secretariat for Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations has set up a website in service of the year’s theme.

“Please pray for our priests that they might always be faithful to their sacred calling,” the site says.

The site includes Pope Benedict’s message for the Year of Priests and the announcement of the celebration’s plenary indulgence in English and Spanish. It also provides prayers for both priests and laity in PDF format so that they may be downloaded and printed for diocesan and parochial use.

The Secretariat plans to provide monthly articles by prominent Catholic women who will write about their “faith and trust” in the priesthood.

Other activities for the Year of Priests include a gathering of priests in Rome as well as a retreat on the national level. Information on the retreat will also be provided through the website, which is located at http://www.usccb.org/yearforpriests/index.shtml

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Year of the Priest

Tomorrow on the feast of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus we begin the Year of the Priest...

"Vatican City, Mar 16, 2009 / 01:16 pm (CNA).- Meeting with members of the Congregation for Clergy this morning, the Holy Father announced that the Church will celebrate a special year for priests beginning on June 19, 2009. The year will commemorate the 150th anniversary of the death of St. Jean Vianney, Cure of Ars.

Pope Benedict received representatives from the congregation’s full assembly, which is currently focused on how the three offices (tre munera) of the priest make him a missionary within the Church.

In his address, the Pontiff emphasized the constant struggle for moral perfection that dwells “in every truly priestly heart.” In support of this tendency toward spiritual perfection, the Holy Father announced that he has “decided to call a special ‘Year for Priests’ which will run from June 19, 2009 to June 19, 2010.”

He noted that the year also marks the “150th anniversary of the death of the saintly 'Cure of Ars', Jean Marie Vianney, a true example of a pastor at the service of Christ's flock."

The Pope will inaugurate the Year on June 19 by presiding at Vespers in St. Peter's Basilica, where the relics of the 'Cure of Ars' will be brought for the occasion by Bishop Guy Bagnard of Belley-Ars, France.

During the course of the Year, Benedict XVI will proclaim St. Jean Marie Vianney as the patron saint of all the priests of the world. A "Directory for Confessors and Spiritual Directors" will also be published, as will a collection of texts by the Holy Father on essential aspects of the life and mission of priests in our time.

The year will close June 19, 2010, with Pope Benedict presiding at a "World Meeting of Priests" in St. Peter's Square.

Speaking to the Congregation for Clergy, the Holy Father also mentioned the ecclesial communal, hierarchical and doctrinal dimensions that are “absolutely indispensable for any authentic [priestly] mission,” and which guarantee “spiritual effectiveness.”

He explained that the mission is ecclesial “because no-one announces or brings themselves, ... but brings Another, God Himself, to the world. God is the only wealth that, definitively, mankind wishes to find in a priest.”

"The mission is 'communal',” he continued, “because it takes place in a unity and communion which only at a secondary level possess important aspects of social visibility.”

He added that the “'hierarchical' and 'doctrinal' dimensions emphasize the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (a term related to that of 'disciple') and of doctrinal (not just theological, initial and permanent) formation."

The Pope also stressed the importance of priestly formation which must maintain “communion with unbroken ecclesial Tradition, without pausing or being tempted by discontinuity. In this context,” he continued, “it is important to encourage priests, especially the young generations, to a correct reading of the texts of Vatican Council II, interpreted in the light of all the Church's doctrinal inheritance."

In conclusion, the Holy Father warned of the 'dilution' of priestly ministry. He explained that the without priests, “there would be no Eucharist, no mission” or the Church. 'It is necessary then, to ensure that 'new structures' or pastoral organizations are not planned for a time in which it will be possible to 'do without' ordained ministry, on the basis of an erroneous interpretation of the promotion of the laity, because this would lay the foundations for a further dilution in priestly ministry, and any supposed 'solutions' would, in fact, dramatically coincide with the real causes of the problems currently affecting the ministry.'"

Thursday, June 11, 2009

University of California, Christina Popa, and Jesus...

"Los Angeles, Calif., Jun 10, 2009 / 06:14 am (CNA).- A graduating student at the University of California at Los Angeles has charged that a department advisor forbade her from saying “I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” in her graduation speech, prompting the university to say it will allow the student statements to be read “as originally submitted.”

Student Christina Popa backed up her claim by posting on Facebook e-mails showing that other students would be permitted to have their speeches read aloud at a pre-graduation ceremony. Popa’s speech would have been allowed only if she did not mention Jesus. Dr. Pamela Hurley, a student affairs advisor for the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology, e-mailed Popa’s speech back to her, saying “UCLA is a public university where the doctrine of separation of church and state is observed.”

Prof. Hurley proposed a version of Popa’s speech without the reference to Jesus.

After Popa objected to the proposal, Prof. Hurley replied: “If you prefer, Christina, I can read none of what you wrote. I am very sorry that this is a problem for you.”

Chaplain Gordon James Klingenschmitt, a former Navy chaplain who was disciplined for praying publicly “in Jesus’ name” before being vindicated by Congress, commented on the reported ban.

“Jesus is not an illegal word, and UCLA has no business censoring her speech, especially if they claim to celebrate 'academic freedom,'” he said.

Klingenschmitt accused the professor of misapplying a “twisted idea” of the separation of church and state.

Elizabeth Kivowitz Boatright-Simon of the UCLA Office of Media Relations provided CNA with a statement from the university that said Popa's original word's, including Jesus' name, will be read aloud.

The statement said the reading of “words of wisdom” at the Department..." (Continued here)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Book on Pope Pius XII to be presented to the Vatican

New Book on Pius XII To Be Presented in Rome

"Vatican City, Jun 9, 2009 (CNA).- The director of L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, will present a new book entitled, “In Defense of Pius XII. The Reasons of History,” at the Luigi Sturzo Institute of Rome on June 10.

According to Vatican Radio, the book includes numerous texts and articles published by L’Osservatore Romano on Pius XII. It recounts that at the time of his death, the Pope was practically unanimously acclaimed for his actions. Vian will address how it was possible that his image could have changed so much after 1963.

Vian says the first reason for the change in the late Pontiff’s image was the difficult political choices that he made from the beginning of his pontificate, during the tragic war period and at the end of the war.

The Pope was very anti-Communist, and therefore Soviet propaganda painted him as an accomplice of Nazism and its horrors, despite his condemnations of Hitler and of all forms of totalitarianism.

“The second reason was the election of his successor, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli. In the book, the author explains that this Pope, who was transitional because of his age, was greeted by the world as the ‘good Pope,’ and was increasingly set in contrast with his predecessor because of his radically different character and style, but also because of the unexpected and resounding decision to convene a council,” Vatican radio reported.

The new book recalls that during the years of World War II, Pius XII carried out an unprecedented humanitarian effort, which saved many human lives, including thousands of Jews." From the Catholic News Agency

Monday, June 8, 2009

Pope John Paul II's beautification nearing...

"Rome, Italy, Jun 5, 2009 / 04:18 am (CNA).- Two requirements necessary to beatify Pope John Paul II could be met this year, a former Vatican spokesman has said.

The Congregation for the Causes of Saints must approve a decree recognizing the late pontiff’s “heroic virtues” and certify a miracle attributed to him before he can be declared a blessed. Joaquin Navarro Valls, who was the Vatican spokesman under John Paul II, stated in an interview with “Sole 24 Ore” on Thursday that once the requirements are met, Pope Benedict “at any moment” can set the date to proclaim his beatification.

Navarro-Valls also denied reports that the beatification process had been slowed by Polish psychiatrist Wanda Poltawska’s failure to hand over personal correspondence with John Paul II.

Daniel Ols, the spokesman for John Paul II's cause, did not confirm or deny to ANSA that the beatification could occur in April 2010 on the fifth anniversary of the Pope’s death.

Pope Benedict XVI had waived a requirement of a five-year wait before beginning an investigation into his predecessor’s beatification. New reports of miracles attributed to John Paul II’s intervention are said to arrive in Rome every week."

(From Catholic News Agency)

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Fr. James's Sunday Homily

The Gift of Communion

"One day a little boy was playing on the beach. He dug a small hole into the sand. By using a seashell, he began to fill the hole with the ocean water. It did not take too long for the boy to realize that it would be impossible for him to scoop the vast ocean into the small hole that he had dug.

My dear friends, when we consider the mystery of God, we must realize that just like the little boy could not scoop the ocean water into the little hole, in the same way, it would be impossible for us to understand something as immense as the mystery of the Blessed Trinity. As Pope Benedict once said: “God, as the Wholly Other, remains beyond our comprehension”.

The mystery of the Blessed Trinity is clearly revealed to us throughout the New Testament. However, we already get a glimpse into this mystery in the first book of the Bible. “God said, let us make man in our own image, in the likeness of ourselves…” (Genesis 1: 26). Us? Ourselves? These words reveal to us the nature of God. God is one God, but three distinct persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. One God, not three Gods.

“The mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the central mystery of Christian faith and life. It is the mystery of God in himself. It is therefore the source of all the other mysteries of faith, the light that enlightens them. It is the most fundamental and essential teaching in the hierarchy of the truths of faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 234).

Many years ago, an elderly Bishop visited a parish of his diocese for Confirmations. Despite the fact that he was losing his hearing, he still continued his custom of quizzing the children on their catechism before the Confirmations.

He asked a young girl to define the Blessed Trinity. The girl was rather nervous and shy, and she softly said: “The Blessed Trinity is one God with three distinct persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit”. The Bishop could not hear her answer, so he said: “Speak up, I can’t understand you”. The girl turned to the Bishop and said: “You can’t understand, it is a mystery”.

We can look upon God as a communion of persons. We can see the image of God stamped into all of existence. Human nature, marriage, the family, human society and the Church are all icons of the Triune God who is a communion of three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Man is a communion because man has been created as male and female. Adam is not complete until the creation of Eve. Pope John Paul II affirmed that “man becomes an image of God not so much in the moment of solitude as in the moment of communion”.

The marriage of man and woman is defined as an “intimate community of life and love”. The intimate life of married spouses is an image of the interior life of the Blessed Trinity. “Authentic married love is..." (Continued here)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe on EWTN

Learn all about the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wisconsin from its Executive Director, Sister Christa Marie, F.S.G.M. at 7 p.m. Sunday, June 7, on EWTN’s “Sunday Night Live with Father Benedict Groschel.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Saints tonight on EWTN!

Learn about Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, a Dominican tertiary whose body was found incorrupt, from Wanda Gawronska, his niece, and Christine Wohar, founder of FrassatiUSA, a non-profit that promotes the spirituality of Pier Giorgio and works to further his cause for canonization. The two will guest at 8 p.m. ET tonight on “EWTN Live” with Father Mitch Pacwa.