"Christ lives, he has overcome death, he has overcome all these powers. We live in this certainty, in this freedom, and in this joy." (Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, 12 XI 2008)
"Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks the truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie." (Blessed John Paul II, Canonisation of Edith Stein, 11 X 1998)

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Advent: It's about HOPE

We have begun the new Church year. We begin each year with the wonderful season of Advent. As the first clip below tells us - Advent is a time of "Spring cleaning" in our lives. Let's get rid of all the nonsense and focus on Jesus - God who is Love and always wants to visit us where we are. Father Robert Barron's homily for last week was also very insightful when it spoke about this season as we approach Christmas (see www.wordonfire.com). As I have told friends before, the anticipation and expectancy of enjoying something is much better than having the thing itself. The waiting lasts longer and allows us to cherish the moments leading up to the consummation of whichever event we await. I often buy things to eat, only to leave them on the shelf so I can enjoy waiting to tuck in. Those moments of savouring the wait are fantastic. They enable me to stretch the enjoyment to the maximum :-)

Friday, 7 October 2011

Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary - Remembering the 1571 Battle of Lepanto

Today (October 7) is the great feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. We thank her in remembrance of saving Europe from the Ottoman Empire's Muslim forces commanded by Ali Pasha.

On the Muslim side, Ali Pasha commanded a force of 206 galleys and 45 galliots. This was the most powerful naval force in the world at the time. The battle was also the last battle at sea between oared fleets. Ali Pasha's fleet had between 12,000 and 15,000 Christian slaves among the 50,000 sailors and oarsmen. Ali Pasha also had 34,000 soldiers under his command. It is important to note that the Turks had not lost a major naval battle since the 15th Century.

The Christian forces were commanded by Don John of Austria.There were 28,000 soldiers and 40,000 sailors and oarsmen. Knowing that the Christian forces were at a disadvantage Saint Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for Victory.

During the battle the Turks lost 210 ships, their commander Ali Pasha was killed along with 25,000 others killed or wounded and 3,500 captured. Also, upwards of 10,000 Christian slaves were freed from the boats of the Turks. The Christians lost 50 galleys and around 13,000 men.

This victory prevented the Ottoman Empires expansion West. Saint Pope Pius V was in a meeting hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, but got up in the middle of a meeting, went over to a window and exclaimed with "supernatural radiance" that the Christian fleet was victorious, shedding tears of thanksgiving to God. This day was declared the Feast of the Holy Rosary.

 Thanks be to Our Mother for her intercession and keeping Europe safe from the Ottoman forces and expanding Muslim influence.

(sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lepantohttp://militaryhistory.about.com/od/navalbattles14011600/p/lepanto.htmhttp://www.ewtn.com/library/mary/olislam.htm)

If you would like to show your Love for Our Lady and ask for her intercession (and are in London) why not join us for the 27th Annual National Rosary Crusade of Reparation. It starts at 1:45pm outside Westminster Cathedral and will process behind a statue of Our Lady of Fatima to Brompton Oratory. More details here: http://www.rosarycrusadeofreparation.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

"i pray for life" - video about praying outside the abortuaries in London

There is a video that has just been released that shows interviews with some people who pray outside the abortuaries. I was fortunate enough to be involved in this project :-) There is also a website: iprayforlife.wordpress.com. Please see the message and video below:

Some call them brave, some call them crazy. Some wish they could do the same but are afraid.

They say about themselves: "ordinary people doing extra-ordinary things in an ordinary way."

By simple acts and true Christian testimony, bit by bit, they change the world and save human lives.
They know that "for the triumph of evil all that is necessary is that good people do nothing"

May the ranks of the defenders of life steadily increase! Do not lose heart!
This is a great mission entrusted to you by Providence. May God from whom every life takes its origin bless you.
(JP II, Kalisz 1997)

Recorded in London, Sept 2011

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Happy Birthday Mary, Mother of the Word Incarnate

Today the Church celebrates the birthday of our Blessed Mother, Mary Most Holy. I would like to share a passage from Verbum Domini on this occasion:
...I would like to mention Mary's familiarity with the word of God. This is clearly evident in the Magnificat. There we see in some sense how she identifies with the word, enters into it; in this marvellous canticle of faith, the Virgin sings the praises of the Lord in his own words:  "The Magnificat - a portrait, so to speak, of her soul - is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate"." (Verbum Domini, B16)
That is why we so love our Mother. Thanks be to God that Saints Joachim and Anne gave us such a beautiful gift in their daughter.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Music with Meaning - No More No Less - MercyMe

I rediscovered one of my favourite Christian bands on Spotify and then again at WYD 2011 (they played some songs on the PA at the Love and Life conferences). This was the song that really touched me from the beginning. I love the second half so much, but the lyrics are superb. It reminds us that we can't be who we are not, we need to just go out there and let everyone know we are adopted sons of God, through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5), and live in constant anticipation of going to our Heavenly home (my favourite part of the song is when they sing "Lord, I want to go home, nothing more and nothing less"). I remember reading a quote from Pope Benedict XVI talking about how Christians are in the World, but not of this world. We are all on a pilgrimage to our eternal home. Sing this song out loud and let everyone know who your Daddy is :-) Abba, Father, we adore you.

The lyrics are:

I'm not trying to hide anything
I wear it on my sleeve
I wear it on my sleeve
I'm not trying to be something I'm not
This is all I've got
This is all I've got
I'm not trying to re-invent the wheel
Just trying to be real
Trying to be real
I'm not trying to say follow me
I'm not the one who leads
I'm not the one who leads
Let me introduce myself to you
This is who I am
No more, no less
I am just a man who understands
Because of You I'm blessed
No more, no less
I'm not trying to prove anything
It's all about the change
It's all about the change
I hope you stare just long enough to see
The heart that's beating here inside of me
Beyond all the things you may think you know
I'm just a kid trying to make it home, that's it
No more, no less
Lord, I want to go home
Nothing more, nothing less

I would also like to share with you something beautiful that the Pope shared in the interview "Light of the World" about being human:
"{T}here does need to be a new realization that being human is something great, a great challenge, to which the banality of just drifting along doesn't do justice. Any more than the attitude that comfort is the best way to live, that feeling healthy is the sum and substance of happiness. There needs to be a new sense that being human is subject to a higher set of standards, indeed, that it is precisely these demands that make a greater happiness possible in the first place. There needs to be a sense that being human is like a mountain climbing expedition that includes some arduous slopes. But it is by them that we reach the summit and are able to experience for the first time how beautiful it is to be." 

The errors of Russia? Abortion and the law

Could this represent the errors of Russia spreading through the whole world as warned by Our Lady at Fatima? Notice the beacons of Portugal and Poland (although abortion has subsequently been legalised in Portugal (2007) and is now available on demand up to 10 weeks). Currently Poland seems to be standing alone in this fight and is beginning to come under pressure from European courts. Please click on the image below for a larger view. The red areas show places where 30% or more of the total pregnancies are terminated by abortion and the blue of Poland represents an abortion rate of below 2%. The darkest reds represents places where more than two-thirds of all pregnancies are terminated by abortion.

I would like to quote a brief extract from Evangelium Vitae by Bl JPII:
The future of society and the development of democracy depend on the rediscovery of the innate human and moral values no one, no majority, and no state can create, modify, or destroy. There is a need to recover the relationship between the civil and moral law. "In no sphere of life can the civil law take the place of conscience or dictate norms concerning things outside its competence " (Dominum Vitae, III). The purpose of civil law is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence in true justice. For that reason it must ensure that in the first place the fundamental right to life of every innocent human being is respected. The legal toleration of abortion and euthanasia can in no way be claimed to be based on the respect for the conscience of others, precisely because society has the right and the duty to protect itself against abuses that can occur in the name of conscience and under the pretext of freedom. Any government that refused to recognise these human rights would not only fail in its duty; its decrees lack any biding force." (from The Encyclicals in Everyday Language by Fr Joseph G Donders) 

Mensch amendment: Christians being forced from public life in Britain!

Not long after the Catholic adoption agencies were forced to close, we now have an amendment that wishes to prevent "faith based" counselling. There is a very good piece at Cranmer discussing this issue. It concludes as follows:

The Mensch amendment is not only ill-conceived and badly thought through; it is fundamentally un-conservative, intolerant, illiberal, and incompatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 9 of which provides a right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This includes the freedom to manifest a religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance, subject to certain restrictions that are ‘in accordance with law’ and ‘necessary in a democratic society’. 
Mrs Mensch is proposing that inter alia Christians may not counsel on the matter of abortion because this is ‘necessary in a democratic society’. She thereby disregards the Established Church and the constitutional position of the Monarch and her bishops. She sets aside that the majority of the country professes some adherence - however residual - to the Christian faith. And she appears to be oblivious to the fact that the whole fabric of society is constructed upon Christian precepts. 
The question of abortion is profoundly divisive: it is a moral issue. But there is no such thing as ‘neutrality’ in morality: human beings may not conveniently be detached from their gender, beliefs, lifestyle or culture. Counselling is not the mere impartation of information: we have computers for that. Counselling involves empathy and the outcome is clarity and guidance. Why should people of faith be specifically barred from providing enlightenment? Why, if it is deemed necessary and expedient for women to have ‘the right to choose’, may they not have the right to choose whence they receive the information by which they may arrive at that choice?

I recommend you have a look at the whole piece and start writing to your MP's as soon as possible so that Christians are not put into local exile in Britain.

The blogger uses the title "Archbishop Cranmer" out of respect for the long deceased Archbishop Thomas Cranmer of the Church of England who was executed during the reign of Mary 1. He was a leader of the English Reformation and assisted Henry VIII with the justification for his divorce. Under King Edward Cranmer pushed through many reforms to the Church of England. The blogger is "is one of the wittiest conservative thinkers out there, whether in the UK or the USA." (Rabbi Yehuda Hausman, The Musings of Rabbi Hausman (2011)). I must state that I personally do not agree with Archbishop Cranmer's points of view 500 years ago, but do sympathise with the blogger on some points.

Friday, 2 September 2011

Pope Benedict XVI on rediscovering the path of beauty

On Wednesday B16 said something so profound and touching about beauty. I felt this was very special as I had just recently had my breath taken away by my visits to Museo del Prado during WYD 2011 (see previous post).
Courtesy of Vatican Radio here is an excerpt:

“there are artistic expressions that are true paths to God, the supreme Beauty, indeed they help nurture our relationship with Him in prayer. These are works that are born of faith and express faith. One example of this is when we visit a Gothic cathedral; we are enraptured by the vertical lines that shoot up towards the sky and draw our eyes and our spirits upwards, while at the same time, we feel small, and yet eager for fullness ... Or when we enter a Romanesque church: we are spontaneously invited to recollection and prayer. We feel as if the faith of generations were enclosed in these splendid buildings. Or, when we hear a piece of sacred music that vibrates the strings of our heart, our soul expands and helped to turn to God."

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

My WYD 2011 experience Part 2

One of the highlights of my first ever visit to Madrid was the Museo del Prado. So much so that I visited it on 4 separate occasions (getting in 3 times). They had a wonderful exposition highlighting "The Word made Image". Plus there was a special guest painting "The Deposition" by Caravaggio. Simply breathtaking.

So, to share with you some of the art works (although the 14 pieces are greatly diminished on the Internet) please go to: www.museodelprado.es/en/pradomedia/multimedia/the-word-made-image-1/

Monday, 29 August 2011

My WYD 2011 recap - JMJ Madrid part1

3 Abp Chaput's in one shot

Confessionals side view
I have recovered from my pilgrimage and would love to share some of the images I took with you. Of course, the star of the show was Jesus, in the Eucharist, in His Priests, and in His People. You can see the crowds that gathered from around the world to welcome the Pope and Jesus in the Eucharist in the airfield South West of Madrid. All along the walk to the venue the locals were very accommodating and sprayed us with water to save us from the 40+ degree heat (Celsius), even the firemen helped.

But before the huge Mass, we needed to go to confession. You can see the amazing number of confessionals in the pictures above, they were lined up as far as the eye can see in both directions in Retiro Park.

I spent many days visiting the Love and Life centre where the guests were Abp Chaput and Fr Baron among others. But the highlight was definitely the "Catholic Underground" Eucharistic adoration sessions hosted by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal. The music was beautiful, the lyrics meaningful and the presence of God tangible. On Friday after the Stations of the Cross we had the most amazing adoration which left many people in tears of gratitude.

Confessionals as far as the eye can see

Our dearest guest and Host, Jesus

Firemen cooling down the pilgrims as they arrive for the vigil

So close yet so far

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Planned Parenthood's Weak Link, LIVE with Abby Johnson Tonight!

From http://plannedparenthoodsweaklink.com/:

Dear Pro-Life Friend,

Abby JohnsonThis Tuesday night, August 23, Abby Johnson, former Planned Parenthood abortion center director turned pro-life advocate — and author of the Top 10 national bestselling book UnPlanned — will expose her former employer during a webcast event that will uncover the huge weakness she discovered inside the nation’s largest abortion operation … and that she frequently witnesses while traveling across America to speak out against Planned Parenthood.
YOU are invited to be there when Abby blows Planned Parenthood’s cover (but hurry, because there’s limited space available for the online event!)
Sign up below to register for the FREE webcast, where you’ll be among the first to discover:
  • Why a Planned Parenthood clinic director and “employee of the year” changed sides to become an outspoken pro-life advocate
  • The shocking truth about Planned Parenthood that was revealed through Abby’s high-stakes legal battle with the abortion giant
  • The abortion industry’s #1 greatest fear — and how YOU can help make it come true
  • Planned Parenthood’s secret “Achilles Heel” that could topple its abortion empire like a house of cards
  • How to make abortion unavailable in your community … even while it’s still legal
  • The most effective way to drive Planned Parenthood — or any other abortion operation — out of your community
  • The brand-new tool you can use to change more hearts and minds about abortion, save more lives … and perhaps even impact eternal souls
You won’t want to miss this eye-opening LIVE webcast event where you’ll hear directly from Abby and other presenters including:
Jeff ParadowskiJEFF PARADOWSKI, Abby’s attorney who defeated Planned Parenthood’s legal team and PR spin machine in the high-stakes legal battle with the abortion buisness after Abby changed sides
David BereitDAVID BEREIT, national director of 40 Days for Life, the campaign of prayer and fasting, peaceful vigils outside abortion facilities, and grassroots outreach that played a major role in Abby’s conversion
Shawn CarneySHAWN CARNEY, campaign director of 40 Days for Life, and the first person that Abby went to for help when she was ready to get out of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

World Youth Day 2011: 1 English Speaking South African on his way

My place in Madrid was confirmed today. I am so excited as this will be my first world youth day ever. I am trying to do the prep work to make the most of the time. i welcome any suggestions. So far I think I will be able to hear my heroes Fr Stan Fortuna, Fr Robert Barron, Archbishop Chaput and last, but not least: Pope Benedict XVI.
It is proving a little more difficult than I expected to plan my days, but so far I have found Love and Life (featuring Abp Chaput and Fr Robert Barron) and Viva la Vida (featuring Fr Stan Fortuna).
There is a great video called "Spiritual Prep" at the Love and Life page, just spend a few minutes watching it, it really gives some solid food for thought:

And here is one reason why I love Fr Barron when he dishes up the Truth:

Lastly, Fr Stan giving a taste of the Glory of the Mass:

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Pictures of Pope tweeting on iPad

Let there be light: Pope Benedict XVI publishes the new Vatican web portal on his iPad

Revelation: The pontiff also sent his first tweet, announcing that the Vatican portal had gone live from the offices of L'Osservatore Romano

These are pictures of Pope Benedict XVI using the papal iPad for the launch of the Vatican's new webpage. You can access News.va now. The Pope announced the launch with the tweet:

Vatican - news (@news_va_en)
28-06-11 17:07
Dear Friends, I just launched http://t.co/fVHpS9y Praised be our Lord Jesus Christ! With my prayers and blessings, Benedictus XVI

Pope Benedict XVI reflecting on 60th anniversary of ordination and the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

The Pope sent the tweet to launch the news.va website.One of the first posts is his homily from the feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Thanks be to God for given us such a wonderful Pope. The full homily can be found here. I found this extract particularly beautiful:
"...bear fruit, fruit that abides. What fruit does he expect from us? What is this fruit that abides? Now, the fruit of the vine is the grape, and it is from the grape that wine is made. Let us reflect for a moment on this image. For good grapes to ripen, sun is needed, but so too is rain, by day and by night. For noble wine to mature, the grapes need to be pressed, patience is needed while the juice ferments, watchful care is needed to assist the processes of maturation. Noble wine is marked not only by sweetness, but by rich and subtle flavours, the manifold aroma that develops during the processes of maturation and fermentation. Is this not already an image of human life, and especially of our lives as priests? We need both sun and rain, festivity and adversity, times of purification and testing, as well as times of joyful journeying with the Gospel. In hindsight we can thank God for both: for the challenges and the joys, for the dark times and the glad times. In both, we can recognize the constant presence of his love, which unfailingly supports and sustains us.Yet now we must ask: what sort of fruit does the Lord expect from us? Wine is an image of love: this is the true fruit that abides, the fruit that God wants from us. But let us not forget that in the Old Testament the wine expected from noble grapes is above all an image of justice, which arises from a life lived in accordance with God’s law. And this is not to be dismissed as an Old Testament view that has been surpassed – no, it still remains true. The true content of the Law, its summa, is love for God and for one’s neighbour. But this twofold love is not simply saccharine. It bears within itself the precious cargo of patience, humility, and growth in the conforming of our will to God’s will, to the will of Jesus Christ, our friend. Only in this way, as the whole of our being takes on the qualities of truth and righteousness, is love also true, only thus is it ripe fruit. Its inner demand – faithfulness to Christ and to his Church – seeks a fulfilment that always includes suffering. This is the way that true joy grows. At a deep level, the essence of love, the essence of genuine fruit, coincides with the idea of setting out, going towards: it means self-abandonment, self-giving, it bears within itself the sign of the cross."

Friday, 24 June 2011

25 June 2011 Abortion Prayer in Ealing, London, UK

Please join with the prayer procession tomorrow led by the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal and Helpers of God's precious infants. The day will begin with Mass at Ealing Abbey (post code W5 2DY) at 9:15, followed by a procession to the Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Ealing (post code W5 5BJ). While the procession takes place there will be prayer supporters in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament.

Please join us. I pray often outside this abortion centre and it is quite busy on Saturday mornings. Your presence is more valuable than you can imagine. And remember, we are there to convert hearts, whether the mother proceeds with the abortion or not. We love these mothers and need them to know we love and care for them.

You can see the printable poster here.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Should a Catholic practice Yoga?

Often in conversation people mention that Yoga is a good idea. When a Catholic begins saying this then it is worrying. Why? Isn't Yoga just a physical exercise? Can't we just use the ritual movements and positions but not subscribe to the belief system underlying them? I am sure you are familiar with these questions.

As a Catholic it is not possible to believe that the postures and physical expressions of belief are useful when separated from the beliefs they are linked to. We know from our worship and prayer (especially the ultimate prayer of the Mass) that each movement and posture is meant to convey a deep spiritual meaning. The Sacraments give us a way of physically experiencing a deep reality. The physical part of the Sacraments is integral to their meaning. As limited creatures we can only experience the Spiritual realm through our senses. The Sacramental actions help us to experience God, they physically put us in touch with our Creator. As a believing Catholic you would consider someone who is not a Catholic and just comes to Mass to "stand, sit, stand, sit, stand, kneel, walk, kneel, stand" as crazy. To remove the spiritual reality which is integral to the actions causes all reasoning to disintegrate.

The same must hold true for Yoga. Yoga is based on a Hindu belief system. The point of yoga is to enter into unity with the great Brahma, or to experience reality as understood by Hinduism. There is no doubt that yoga is a Hindu form of meditation.

Can a Catholic practise yoga if they disconnect from the spiritual side of it? This is not the right questions to ask. Rather, we should ask: Is it possible to remove the spiritual side from the actions and still have an integrated spiritual life? The answer is NO. Every physical action has a spiritual side, to not recognise this is to cause our identity as spiritual/physical being to disintegrate and we will be set back in our pursuit of Heaven.

Music with Meaning - Shinedown - 45

This isn't a Christian song and the meaning may be a bit obscure, but I can share with you my interpretation of the lyrics. I also love the conviction that it is sung with. I believe the song is the point of view of a father whose child has been aborted. First we'll look at the lyrics and then I'll give my commentary.
The lyrics are:
Send away for a priceless giftOne not subtle, one not on the listSend away for a perfect worldOne not simply, so absurdIn these times of doing what you're toldYou keep these feelings, no one knowsWhat ever happened to the young man's heartSwallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart
And I'm staring down the barrel of a 45,Swimming through the ashes of another lifeNo real reason to accept the way things have changedStaring down the barrel of a 45
Send a message to the unborn childKeep your eyes open for a whileIn a box high up on the shelf, left for you, no one else There's a piece of a puzzle known as lifeWrapped in guilt, sealed up tight
What ever happened to the young man's heartSwallowed by pain, as he slowly fell apart
Everyone's pointing their fingersAlways condemning meAnd nobody knows what I believeI believe

Imagine the pain of a man who has not been allowed to protect his unborn child from a brutal death. Add to that the pain of then being judged to have supported that murder. The character in this song has been driven to contemplate taking his own life, literally staring down the barrel of a gun. Let us pray for all men affected by abortion that they may discover healing.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Our Lady is an Icon, don't touch

Icon of the Assumption of Mary in Suprasl
I just got back from a short holiday in Poland. While there I was blessed enough to visit the Russian Orthodox Icon Museum in Suprasl. The monastery has been in the town since 1500 and has a collection of more than 1200 icons.

There was a particular icon that caught my eye during the tour. You can see the photo on the left. It is an icon depicting the assumption of Our Lady. The most striking feature of the icon is at the bottom, there you see a man whose hand's have been cut off by St Michael the Archangel (see detailed picture below).
Why did St Michael cut the hands off? The story goes that the man was a Jewish Priest who did not acknowledge the
the sanctity of Mary and wanted to push the funeral bier over. As can be seen, Saint Michael intervened.
Close up detail from icon of Assumption of Mary
But the story has a happy ending. The hand less priest's hands were miraculously re-attached and healed once he acknowledged the sanctity of our Lady. You can read more about the details of this icon here.

Another icon that raised my heart was an icon depicting the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharistic bread and wine. You can see Christ (although it may be one of the Church Fathers) holding a chalice in which his blood resides, along with His body. Thanks be to God for these revelations in art.

Icon of the Real Presence

From the walls of the Icon Museum in Suprasl


Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Attention London: Pro-life Superman Msgr Reilly is in town

from Maria Stops abortion:

Monsignor Philip J Reilly, the founder of the Helpers of God's Precious Infants will be in London on Wednesday. He will be giving a talk at St James' Church, Spanish Place, 22 George Street, London, W1U 3QY, on Wednesday 18th May 2011 at 7.30pm.
The number of babies, as well as Mothers & Fathers saved from the horrors of abortion by God's Grace, through this Priest is amazing.Should we go to the abortuary and pray? What should we do when we are there? Do Bishops and Priests need to go? Will me going really make a dfference? Over years I've heard Monsingor answer all of this and much more besides.

Wonderful Pro-Life video just released for 40 Days for life competition

Sunday, 1 May 2011

JP2 Beatification Homily by B16

Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Beatification of Pope John Paul II
Sunday, 1 May 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed!
I would like to offer a cordial greeting to all of you who on this happy occasion have come in such great numbers to Rome from all over the world – cardinals, bishops and priests, official delegations, ambassadors and civil authorities, consecrated men and women and lay faithful, and I extend that greeting to all those who join us by radio and television.
Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven.
“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29). In today’s Gospel Jesus proclaims this beatitude: the beatitude of faith. For us, it is particularly striking because we are gathered to celebrate a beatification, but even more so because today the one proclaimed blessed is a Pope, a Successor of Peter, one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith. John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith. We think at once of another beatitude: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What did our heavenly Father reveal to Simon? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of this faith, Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which Jesus can build his Church. The eternal beatitude of John Paul II, which today the Church rejoices to proclaim, is wholly contained in these sayings of Jesus: “Blessed are you, Simon” and “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!” It is the beatitude of faith, which John Paul II also received as a gift from God the Father for the building up of Christ’s Church.
Our thoughts turn to yet another beatitude, one which appears in the Gospel before all others. It is the beatitude of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, who had just conceived Jesus, was told by Saint Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45). The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter. Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community. In particular we can see how Saint John and Saint Luke record the powerful, maternal presence of Mary in the passages preceding those read in today’s Gospel and first reading. In the account of Jesus’ death, Mary appears at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25), and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles she is seen in the midst of the disciples gathered in prayer in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14).
Today’s second reading also speaks to us of faith. Saint Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: “you rejoice”, and he adds: “you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ’s resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. “This is the Lord’s doing”, says the Psalm (118:23), and “it is marvelous in our eyes”, the eyes of faith.
Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Karol Wojtyla took part in the Second Vatican Council, first as an auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Kraków. He was fully aware that the Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyla: a golden cross with the letter “M” on the lower right and the motto “Totus tuus”, drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojty?a found a guiding light for his life: “Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria – I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart” (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266).
In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: “When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, said to me: ‘The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium’”. And the Pope added: “I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church – and especially with the whole episcopate – I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate”. And what is this “cause”? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the unforgettable words: “Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!” What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others.
When Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its “helmsman”, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call “the threshold of hope”. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an “Advent” spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace.
Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a “rock”, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Eucharist.
Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. Amen.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Get ready for the Beatification of John Paul II

Tomorrow will be the beatification of JP2 the Great.
To refresh your memory of this great doctor of the Church you can pick up the pdf version of Our Sunday Visitor's tribute from 2005 here:

Also, you can follow the beatification live here:

And refresh your memories:

Friday, 22 April 2011

The Scourging and Crucifixion in Anime style Video

The film is a bit violent (as it was 2000 years ago), but it has the happiest ending - the one we all hope for. Jesus, I Trust in You,

Good Friday: Pope Benedict XVI Answers Live Questions on Television Broadcast (from Catholic online)

Good Friday: Pope Benedict XVI Answers Live Questions on Television Broadcast - Television & Video - Arts & Entertainment - Catholic Online

VATICAN CITY (Vatican Radio) Pope Benedict XVI made papal broadcasting history on Good Friday when he became the first pope to appear on a question and answer TV show. The pre-recorded program for "In His Image", broadcast on the Italian RAI Uno station, showed the pope replying to seven questions submitted from around the world, that included a young Japanese girl, a Muslim mother from the Ivory Coast and seven Christian students from Iraq. The full text follows:
Pope's Responses from the Transmission of "In His Image"
Q. Holy Father, I want to thank you for your presence here, which fills us with joy and helps us remember that today is the day in which Jesus showed His love in the most radical way, that is, by dying on the cross as an innocent. It is precisely on this theme of innocent sorrow that is the first question that comes from a seven-year-old Japanese child who says: "My name is Elena. I am Japanese and I am seven years old. I am very frightened because the house where I felt safe really shook a lot and many children my age have died. I cannot go to play at the park. I want to know: why do I have to be so afraid? Why do children have to be so sad? I'm asking the Pope, who speaks with God, to explain it to me".
A. Dear Elena, I send you my heartfelt greetings. I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease? And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent, and that the true God who is revealed in Jesus is by your side. This seems very important to me, even if we do not have answers, even if we are still sad; God is by your side and you can be certain that this will help you. One day we will even understand why it was so.

At this moment it seems important to me that you know "God loves me" even if it seems like He doesn't know me. No, He loves me, He is by my side, and you can be sure that in the world, in the universe, there are many who are with you, thinking of you, doing what they can for you, to help you. And be aware that, one day, I will understand that this suffering was not empty, it wasn't in vain, but behind it was a good plan, a plan of love. It is not chance. Be assured, we are with you, with all the Japanese children who are suffering. We want to help you with our prayers, with our actions, and you can be sure that God will help you. In this sense we pray together so that light may come to you as soon as possible.
Q. The second question presents us with a Calvary because we have a mother under her son's cross. This mother is an Italian named Maria Teresa and she asks you: "Your Holiness, has the soul of my son Francesco, who has been in a vegetative coma since Easter Sunday 2009, left his body, seeing that he is no longer conscious, or is it still near him?"
A. Certainly his soul is still present in his body. The situation, perhaps, is like that of a guitar whose strings have been broken and therefore can no longer play. The instrument of the body is fragile like that, it is vulnerable, and the soul cannot play, so to speak, but remains present. I am also sure that this hidden soul feels your love deep down, even if unable to understand the details, your words, etc.

He feels the presence of love. Your presence, therefore, dear parents, dear mother, next to him for hours and hours every day, is the true act of a love of great value because this presence enters into the depth of that hidden soul. Your act is thus also a witness of faith in God, of faith in man, of faith, let us say, of commitment, to life, of respect for human life, even in the saddest of situations. I encourage you, therefore to carry on, to know that you are giving a great service to humanity with this sign of faith, with this sign of respect for life, with this love for a wounded body and a suffering soul.
Q. The third question takes us to Iraq, to the youth of Baghdad, persecuted Christians who send you this question; "Greetings from Iraq, Holy Father", they say. "We Christians in Baghdad are persecuted like Jesus. Holy Father, in your opinion, in what way can we help our Christian community to reconsider their desire to emigrate to other countries, convincing them that leaving is not the only solution?"
A. First of all I want to cordially greet all the Christians of Iraq, our brothers and sisters, and I have to say that I pray every day for the Christians in Iraq. They are our suffering brothers and sisters, as those who are suffering in other lands are too, and therefore they are particularly dear to our hearts and we must do whatever we can so that they might be able to stay, so that they might be able to resist the temptation to emigrate, which is very understandable in the conditions they are living in. I would say that it is important that we are near to you, dear brothers and sisters in Iraq ...
(for more click here)

Divine Mercy Novena starts today

(Text from EWTN)
Jesus asked that the Feast of the Divine Mercy be preceded by a Novena to theDivine 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 these souls."
The different souls prayed for on each day of the novena are:
DAY 1 (Good Friday) - All mankind, especially sinners
DAY  2 (Holy Saturday)- The souls of priests and religious
DAY 3 (Easter Sunday) - All devout and faithful souls
DAY 4 (Easter Monday)- Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him
DAY  5 (Easter Tuesday)- The souls of separated brethren
DAY  6 (Easter Wednesday)- The meek and humble souls and the souls of children
DAY  7 (Easter Thursday)- The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus' mercy
DAY  8 (Easter Friday)- The souls who are detained in purgatory; 
DAY  9 (Easter Saturday)- The souls who have become lukewarm.
TheChaplet of Divine Mercy may also be offered each day for the day's intention, but is not strictly necessary to the Novena. (click here for instructions on how to pray the Chaplet)

Read more:http://www.ewtn.com/devotionals/mercy/novena.htm#ixzz1KHmaXuNA