Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Holy Father Imparts His Apostolic Blessing

What a lovely gift I received from the Blessed Mother on the last day of May!

When I got home, I found a piece of mail that arrived today which made me quite excited seeing that it was from the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington D.C. It was a response to a letter of greeting that I sent on May 6, 2005 to the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI.

In my letter, I made a pledge of loyalty and obedience to the Holy Father as the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Catholic Church and Vicar of Christ and that I promised to support him together with the laity through prayer, penance and preaching, a movement which would be called St. Peter's Helpers. I asked him for his apostolic blessing upon this call and for his prayers.

Let me share with you his message via the Apostolic Nunciature:

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI gratefully acknowledges the thoughtful message of greetings and good wishes sent to him on the occasion of his election to the See of Peter.

To all who have promised him the support of their prayers at the beginning of his ministry as Supreme Pastor of the universal Church the Holy Father cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of lasting joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
The letter also included a beautiful photograph of the Holy Father which he signed Benedictus PP XVI, 19/IV/2005, with his official papal coat of arms on the back of the photo.

Dearest brothers and sisters in the Catholic blogworld, I want to assure you that the Pope's apostolic blessing extends to all of you who have pledged your support by way of St. Peter's Helpers weblog.

May God bless you all and may St. Peter's Helpers be a source of great joy and sanctity as we journey with Pope Benedict to meet our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Pope prays to the Virgin of Lourdes

The Holy Father praying in front of the Grotto of Lourdes
in the Vatican Gardens, May 31, 2005

May Crowning

Today is the last day of May in the Year of the Eucharist. It is so fitting that today we celebrate Our Blessed Mother's feast day! May we crown her today by imitating her humility, generosity and heroic love. The following is a beautiful reflection found in Catholic Culture written in honor of Our Lady's Visitation to St. Elizabeth.

And Mary rising up in those days went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. [Lk. 1:39]
How lyrical that is, the opening sentence of St. Luke's description of the Visitation. We can feel the rush of warmth and kindness, the sudden urgency of love that sent that girl hurrying over the hills. "Those days" in which she rose on that impulse were the days in which Christ was being formed in her, the impulse was his impulse.

Many women, if they were expecting a child, would refuse to hurry over the hills on a visit of pure kindness. They would say they had a duty to themselves and to their unborn child which came before anything or anyone else.

The Mother of God considered no such thing. Elizabeth was going to have a child, too, and although Mary's own child was God, she could not forget Elizabeth's need—almost incredible to us, but characteristic of her.

She greeted her cousin Elizabeth, and at the sound of her voice, John quickened in his mother's womb and leapt for joy.

I am come, said Christ, that they may have life and may have it more abundantly. [Jn. 10, 10] Even before He was born His presence gave life.

With what piercing shoots of joy does this story of Christ unfold! First the conception of a child in a child's heart, and then this first salutation, an infant leaping for joy in his mother's womb, knowing the hidden Christ and leaping into life.

How did Elizabeth herself know what had happened to Our Lady? What made her realize that this little cousin who was so familiar to her was the mother of her God? She knew it by the child within herself, by the quickening into life which was a leap of joy.

If we practice this contemplation taught and shown to us by Our Lady, we will find that our experience is like hers.

If Christ is growing in us, if we are at peace, recollected, because we know that however insignificant our life seems to be, from it He is forming Himself; if we go with eager wills, "in haste," to wherever our circumstances compel us, because we believe that He desires to be in that place, we shall find that we are driven more and more to act on the impulse of His love.

And the answer we shall get from others to those impulses will be an awakening into life, or the leap into joy of the already wakened life within them. — The Reed of God, Caryll Houselander

John Paul II's Gift Of Finest Wit

"Tell them I don't run the Church with my feet." - John Paul II's reaction to media speculation about his lack of mobility.


Cardinal of Detroit to Pope John Paul II: "How are you feeling this morning, Holy Father?"

Holy Father: "I don't know yet, I haven't had the chance to read the American press."

(Source: Catholic News Agency)

How To Receive Jesus In Holy Communion

Do our minds ever wander when we line up for Communion? Mine does. Well then, being that it is the Year of the Eucharist, ought I not to put all my energies into meditating on my betrothal to the Lord? Instead of wondering what I need to get from the grocery or whether I should clean out the refrigerator, I must direct my thoughts and my whole being to the entire Eucharistic celebration.

Here are ways that we can enter into Communion with the Lord and receive Him wholeheartedly.

First, we must be in a state of grace in order to receive Communion fruitfully. Frequent Confession is a neccesity to attain this state.

Seond, we must follow the rule of fasting one hour before Communion.

Third, if possible we should strive to be in Church a few minutes before the Mass, in order that we may make a short meditation and prepare our souls for Holy Mass. The following prayer before Communion may be said only before Mass:

You desire, Lover of my soul, to come to me. Your delights are to be with me, cold, inhospitable , as I am. Come then; Lord Jesus, and in satisfying Your own desire, enkindle mine. (Catholic Prayer Book)
Fourth, we should actively participate in each part of the liturgy, joining in the prayer responses and singing of hymns and following proper posture during Mass. The use of the missal will help us to be more attentive to the Readings and to better understand the priest's homily. Naturally at times, when the homily may be unattractive to our ears, let us ask Our Lady for help so as not to allow our minds to drift away.

Fifth, we should be appropriately disposed in manner and attire. Our gestures and clothing say a lot about how we enter into Communion with Jesus. If we are to be living witnesses of our faith, approriate Sunday dress is to be expected. In this age, the latest fashion almost forces people especially the youth to come immodestly dressed but this should not be an excuse. Modesty in dress is a must! (check out Modesty By Design)

Sixth, when we prepare to meet Jesus at the altar, our disposition must be that of a bride marching down the aisle to meet our beloved bridegroom. With hands clasped together, head slightly bowed in veiled humility, let us whisper to Jesus how unworthy we are to receive Him and tell Him how much we love Him. The following prayers may be said:

Lord, I believe that I will receive Your Body and Blood because You have said it and Your Word is True. I am not worthy to receive You under my roof but only say the Word and I shall be healed. Jesus I love You with all my heart, all my mind and all my strength. Never let me be parted from Thee. Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner.

Seventh, when we return to our place, let us immediately enter into sacred silence and consecrate ourselves to Jesus saying the following prayer:

Lord Jesus, You gave yourself to me in Holy Communion. And now I give myself to You. I give You my body so it may be pure and chaste. I give You my soul so it may be free from sin. I give You my heart so it may love You always. I give You every breath that I shall breath especially my last. I give You myself in life and in death. Amen.

Eighth, let us offer a prayer of thanksgiving and offer our Communion for the Pope's intentions, for our loved ones both living and deceased and for those who need our prayers. The following prayers may be said after Communion:

I give You thanks, holy Lord, Father almighty, everlasting God, that You have vouchsafed to feed me, a sinner, Your unworthy servant, for no merits of my own but only through the goodness of Your great mercy, with the precious body and blood of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. I ask that this Holy Communion may not add to my guilt for punishment but become a saving intercession for pardon. May it serve as an armor of faith and a shield of good will. May it drive out my evil inclinatins; dispel all wicked desires and fleshly temptations; increase my charity, patience, humility, obedience and all my virtues. May it be a firm defense against the plots of all my enemies both seen and unseen; a perfect quieting of all movements to sin, both in my flesh and spirit; a strong attachment to You, the only and true God, and a happy ending of my life. I beg of You to deign to bring me, a sinner, to that ineffable feast where You, with Your Son and the Holy Spirit, are to Your holy ones true light, full satisfaction, everlasting joy, consummate pleasure, and perfect happiness. Amen. (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Last but not least, if possible, continue a silent meditation for fifteen minutes after Mass so as to listen to the Lord speak to us in our hearts.

The Holy Father stresses the necessity of Communion to survive our journey of faith. It is as vital as the air we breath. Let us ask Mary, Mother of the Eucharist to teach us to love the Eucharist more and more and help us, that we may be made worthy to receive her Son in Holy Communion.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Benedict Promises to Unite Christians and Protect Life

The Holy Father's trip to Bari Italy, his first trip outside Rome.
May 29, 2005

In his homily for the closing ceremonies of the congress, themed, ‘Without Sundays, We Cannot Live,’ the Holy Father told the crowd of 200,000 that, "We need this Bread in order to cope with the fatigue and weariness of the journey. Sunday, the day of the Lord, is the right occasion to draw strength from Him Who is the Lord of life.”

Pope Benedict XVI promised his “full commitment” to reestablishing “the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers." He acknowledged that, “to this end, expressions of good intentions are not enough. Concrete gestures are needed. Gestures that enter into souls and move consciences, calling everyone to that interior conversion that is the prerequisite for all progress on the road of ecumenism.” (Catholic News Agency)

Pope Benedict XVI at the opening of the Italian Bishops Conference
at the Vatican, May 30, 2005

The Holy Father has backed a campaign by Italy's Catholic Church to oppose repealing an assisted fertility law that supports say reigns in runaway research in the reproductive technologies field. The need for the law came when a 62 year-old woman who became pregnant via artificial insemination. The fertility specialist responsible for that feat has already stated he wants to be the first researcher to clone a human being. The pope commended Italian Catholic officials for trying to "enlighten the choices of Catholics." The Pope said it was important for the church to urge Catholics in the European country to protect human life, reports the Life News. The pope spoke to the Italian bishops’ conference, which has called on Italians to boycott the referendum, scheduled for June 12-13. While it was his first foray into an Italian issue, the pope’s support was not unexpected. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the head of the Italian bishops conference, is the pope’s vicar for Rome. (New from Russia)

Photos courtesy of AP and Reuters.

Soldiers of Christ: A Memorial Day Tribute

St. Francis of Assisi (1181-1226) ...Francis joined the troop of a knight of Assisi who was riding south to fight under Walter de Brienne for the Pope against the Germans. Having equipped himself with sumptuous apparel and fine armor, he fared forth. On the way he met a knight shabbily clad, and was so touched with compassion that he exchanged clothes with him. That night he dreamed he saw his father's house transformed into a castle, its walls hung with armor, all marked with the sign of the cross; and he heard a voice saying that the armor belonged to Francis and his soldiers. Confident now that he would win glory as a knight, he set out again, but on the first day fell ill. While lying helpless, a voice seemed to tell him to turn back, and "to serve the Master rather than the man." Francis obeyed. (EWTN Library)

St. Joan of Arc, Virgin and Martyr (1412-1431) ...A banner was made, bearing at Joan's request, the words, "Jesus Maria," along with a figure of God the Father, to whom two kneeling angels were presenting a fleur-de-lis, the royal emblem of France. On April 27 the army left Blois with Joan, now known to her troops as "La Pucelle," the Maid, clad in dazzling white armor Joan was a handsome, healthy, well-built girl, with a smiling face, and dark hair which had been cut short. She had now learned to ride well, but, naturally, she had no knowledge of military tactics. Yet her gallantry and valor kindled the soldiers and with them she broke through the English line and entered Orleans on April 29. Her presence in the city greatly heartened the French garrison. By May 8 the English fort outside Orleans had been captured and the siege raised. Conspicuous in her white armor, Joan had led the attack and had been slightly wounded in the shoulder by an arrow. (EWTN Library)

St. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556) ...He served his king as a courtier and a soldier until his thirtieth year. At that time a cannon ball broke the right leg of the young officer, who in a few days had reached the brink of death and received the Last Sacraments. It was the eve of the feast day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul; he fell asleep afterwards and believed he saw Saint Peter in a dream, restoring him to health by touching his wound. When he woke, his high fever was gone and he was out of danger, although lame. To pass the time of his convalescence after three operations, he asked for books; the Life of Christ and lives of the Saints were brought to him. He read them distractedly at first, then with profound emotion. He underwent a violent combat, but finally grace won out. (Magnificat)

Father Vincent Capodanno M.M., Chaplain U.S. Marine Corp (1929-1967) ... Father Capodanno's greatest desire was to remain with his troops and to experience their fears and give them moral support. As a 20-year-old corporal, quoted in the New York Times' September 9, 1967 edition, said, "Somehow he just seemed to act the way a man of God should act." Father Capodanno's death came during a week in which a total of 114 marines were killed and 283 were wounded in the parched hills and rice paddies near Tamky. (Maryknoll Missionaries)

Saturday, May 28, 2005

He Is Really Here! Come, Let Us Adore!

The late Father John A. Hardon, S.J. was a promoter of Eucharistic Adoration and founded The Real Presence Association, from where the following text is lifted.

Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration is the adoration of Jesus Christ present in the Holy Eucharist. In the many Churches that have this adoration, the Eucharist is displayed in a special holder called a monstrance, and people come to pray and worship Jesus continually throughout the day and often the night. Christ’s great love for us was shown when he was crucified on the cross to pay the penalty for our sins and give us eternal life. He loves us without limit, and offers Himself to us in the Holy sacrament of the Eucharist. Can we not give Jesus a few minutes of love and adoration in return?

If there is one mystery of our Faith that is being widely challenged today it is the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Pope John Paul II was deeply concerned about this weakening of belief in the cardinal truth of Catholic Christianity.

There is now Eucharistic Exposition and Adoration at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome during every weekday of the year. One of the hopes of John Paul II was that Eucharistic Adoration outside of the Mass be promoted throughout the world.

In his own language, the Pope identified the Eucharist as the Presence Sacrament. Christ is on earth. He wants to perform miracles of His grace, especially miracles of conversion in what is becoming a Christ-less age. The key to tapping the resources of His grace is our deep faith in Christ's living presence among us in the Blessed Sacrament.

It is hoped Bishops, priests, religious, and laity to open nothing less than a renaissance of adoring love of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist.

Things to do:

1. Commit to one hour of Eucharist Adoration once a week.

2. Attend a forty-hour devotion organized by the local parish.

3. Bring your children to Holy Hour.

4. Organize a Children's Holy Hour.

(Source: Father Hardon's The Real Presence Association and image of the Child Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament courtesy of The Cukierski Family Apostolate)

Friday, May 27, 2005

A Touch of Benedict

It's always nice to read about how Pope Benedict XVI has touched the hearts of many people. Here you will find some amusing anecdotes on the Holy Father.

...John L. Allen Jr., a writer for The National Catholic Reporter, recalled meeting him for the first time at a cocktail party in 1997 in San Francisco. The second most powerful man in the Roman Catholic church was definitely not holding court. "He was just sort of off in a corner," said Allen, who was working on a biography, later called "Cardinal Ratzinger" (Continuum: 2000). "And I remember going up and introducing myself to him. I was just bowled over, first of all how shy he was. And secondly, he had a kind of dry sense of humor and just how nice he seemed. "This certainly was not what his public image would lead you to expect," he said.

...From his first few appearances, including the one today in Paul VI auditorium in the Vatican, it seems clear that he will not be as dynamic as John Paul II, who as a young man was an actor. Joseph Ratzinger pursued a more solitary art, the piano. On Saturday, he wandered from his script only to joke briefly about switching from one language to the next. "We're in Italy, so let's return to Italian," he said after reading sections of his speech in English, German and French (the French speakers in the audience applauded him).

When he stood to take the microphone after delivering his speech, he did not greet reporters by name or make the sort of impromptu remarks that John Paul might have in his healthier days. Benedict went directly into the Lord's Prayer."

But he was smiling, congenial — and orderly. Colleagues and friends say a sense of order may also be a hallmark of this new pontificate, though detractors worry, too, that it might too much resemble rigid traditionalism. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, archbishop of Genoa, who worked for 20 years with Ratzinger, said movers were transferring his enormous collection of books from his apartment just outside the Vatican into the papal apartments — in the exact same order.

The order, however, does not seem a sign of personal rigidity, friends say. He rarely shows anger. He is reserved, they say, even shy, but approachable and informal.

"Those who describe him as cold, detached, inaccessible and too intellectual have not met him," wrote Alessandra Borghese, an Italian noblewoman, describing dinner with him in 2004.

"He didn't seem tired but quite amused," she wrote. "His glass was filled with his favorite 'wine': lemonade." Quoting him, she wrote: "In my rhythm of work, and the necessity always to be very lucid, I do not even allow myself a glass of wine. I get up at 6 in the morning, though I used to get up earlier years ago. After Mass, meditation and the breviary, my day does not allow a moment of pause: meetings, conferences, texts to review, documents to sign."

The new pope is not, however, a teetotaler: Bertone said he occasionally allows himself a glass of "excellent" wine from Piedmont. Manuela Macher, co-owner of the Cantina Tirolese, a Bavarian restaurant near the Vatican where he is a regular, said he also liked an occasional German beer, Franziskaner Weissbier. Which raises a question: Does he order the large size or the small?

"No, no — the small," she said. "Or orange juice."

Macher said he was modest, not at all showy for a man of his position, with a dry sense of humor. "Someone lost his dog and put up a sign: Has anyone seen this German Shepherd?" she recalled. "He came in and said, 'No, no, it's not me. I'm here.' It was really funny — it surprised us. I think he is going to surprise us."

(Source: Meet Benedict XVI: Shy, orderly and funny by Ian Fisher of the New York Times, 4/23/05)

I like the one about the German Shepherd.

Prayer for Pope Benedict XVI

God our Father, shepherd and guide, source of eternal life and truth, give to your newly elected shepherd, Benedict XVI, a spirit of courage and right judgment, a spirit of knowledge and love.

By governing with fidelity those entrusted to his care, may he, as successor to the apostle Peter, the Vicar of Christ, build your Church into a sacrament of unity, love and peace for all the world. May he be the visible centre and foundation of our unity in faith and love. May his word and example inspire and guide the Church, and may all those entrusted to his care, come to the joy of everlasting life.

Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God for ever and ever. Amen.

Source: Archdiocese of Melbourne

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pange Lingua Gloriosi

Eucharistic Hymn of St. Thomas Aquinas (for best effect, you must have audio player)

Rome Celebrates Corpus Christi

Today is the solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. Because of this, today is considered a holiday in Rome.

In preparation for this solemnity which we also celebrate on Sunday, May 29, 2005, may we be inclined to take up the book that Pope Benedict had written while he was a cardinal called "God Is Near Us: The Eucharist, the Heart of Life" published by Ignatius Press. Here is an excerpt.

"If we want to understand the meaning of Corpus Christi, the best thing to do is simply to look at the liturgical form in which the Church celebrates and expounds the significance of this feast. Over and above the elements common to all Christian feasts, there are three components especially that constitute the distinctive shape of the way we celebrate this day".

Please continue reading here.

Source: Catholic Culture
Photos courtesy of Yahoo!

Novena to the Two Hearts of Jesus and Mary

For those interested in completing a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we may begin today. Their feast days are June 3 (First Friday) and June 4 (First Saturday) respectively.

Eficacious Novena to the Sacred Heart

Novena: O my Jesus, you have said: "Truly I say to you, heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away." Encouraged by your infallible words I now ask for the grace of.....(here name your request) Our Father....Hail Mary....Glory Be to the Father...Sacred Heart of Jesus, I place all my trust in you. -- St. Padre Pio of Petrelcina

Prayer: O Sacred Heart of Jesus, for whom it is impossible not to have compassion on the afflicted, have pity on us miserable sinners and grant us the grace which we ask of you, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary, your tender Mother and ours. Say the Hail, Holy Queen and add: St. Joseph, foster father of Jesus, pray for us. -- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

Novena Prayer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

O Most Blessed Mother, heart of love, heart of mercy, ever listening, caring, consoling, hear our prayer. As your children, we implore your intercession with Jesus your Son. Receive with understanding and compassion the petitions we place before you today, especially ...(special intention).

We are comforted in knowing your heart is ever open to those who ask for your prayer. We trust to your gentle care and intercession, those whom we love and who are sick or lonely or hurting. Help all of us, Holy Mother, to bear our burdens in this life until we may share eternal life and peace with God forever. Amen.

Source: EWTN

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


One can never be alone for one has a perpetual family in the Church.


The human eye can never directly look at the brilliance of the sun but only appreciate it's beauty through a means of diffusion. In the same way, the human soul can appreciate the Light of Christ through a diffusion of holiness in others.


We must desire to be God's canvas, keeping still and not resisting, that He may paint on us His Image.

Benedict Reminds Us

On Sunday Mass

"Every parish is called to rediscover the beauty of Sunday, the Lord's day," the Holy Father said. This is especially true, he added, during the Year of the Eucharist. "In the heart of this year dedicated to the Eucharist, the Christian people gather around Christ, who is present in the most holy Sacrament, the source and summit of her life and mission."

On the Family

"Accompanied by the paternal solicitude of Joseph," he adds, "Mary welcomed her Son. In the home at Nazareth Jesus reached maturity in a family that was humanly splendid and marked by the divine mystery, one that has been a model for all families. In this respect, in domestic coexistence the family realizes its vocation of human and Christian life, sharing joys and expectations in a climate of understanding and reciprocal help. Thus, the human person, who is born, grows and is formed in the family, is capable of undertaking with certainty the path of goodness, without letting himself or herself be disoriented by methods or ideologies foreign to the human person."

On the Holy Trinity

"Jesus has revealed to us the mystery of God," said the Pope. "He, the Son, made us know the Father Who is in heaven, and gave us the Holy Spirit, the Love of the Father and Son. Christian theology synthesizes the truth about God with this expression: one substance in three persons. God is not solitude, but perfect communion. For this reason the human person, in the image of God, is realized in love, which is the sincere giving of oneself."

Source: EWTN

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Meeting the Shepherd

The great John Paul II was probably one of the greatest Popes that ever lived. Then again, I say this because I've never known any other Pope (although I have a slight recollection of Paul VI). So naturally, I'm biased for a good reason. I was a teenager when Karol Wojtyla became Pope and I remember watching him on television as he emerged from the balcony with the same kind of joyful trepidation, as Benedict XVI had. And I heard the same kind of response from the crowd, naturally falling in love with their new Santo Papa.

John Paul II was instrumental to my vocation. I attended two World Youth Days during his 26 year pontificate. The first in 1995 held in Manila and the second in 1997 in Paris (where we were joined by our local bishop, now the new prefect of the CDF, his Excellency, William Levada). Both events were part of the parish youth ministry, where I was leading the Youth and Religious Education program at the time. The whole experience of pilgrimage with the Holy Father is something I will always treasure. The act of moving from one end of the world to the other to meet the Vicar of Christ is an act of meeting Christ Himself. The mere preparation to travel, to physically transport oneself to a foreign land is an enormous undertaking, not to mention physically taxing. The fact that the Holy Spirit moves us to go on pilgrimage reminds us that God calls His beloved sheep constantly and the sheep ultimately hear His voice.

Pope John Paul II went out and called the youth of the world to meet Christ. Every two years, he would arrange a meeting place with them, in order to remind them of the love that Jesus has for them and that they in turn may realize this and learn to know and love Him more and more.

The next World Youth Day is in August 2005 in Cologne, Germany. It is not a coincidence but by Divine Providence that our present Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI is a native of this country where the next meeting place will be. We await this momentous occasion when we will surely witness once again a Pope falling in love with God's people and His people falling in love with the Pope.

Let me at this point highly recommend these excellent articles by Mary Beth Bonacci called JPII, Why Did We Love You? and Carroll Campbell's The Way Of Benedict posted in IgnatiusInsight

The Compassion of the Good Shepherd

"It was the feast of the Dedication at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the portico of Solomon. So the Jews gathered round him and said to him, "How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly." Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness to me; but you do not believe, because you do not belong to my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one."- John 10: 22 - 30

What did Jesus mean when He said, "you do not belong to my sheep"? When one observes a herd of sheep, one will notice that they follow each other around, toward the sounds of their master's call. The sheep by instinct know where to go because they believe they will be led to a safe place. By virtue of our Baptism, we know we belong to Christ and we believe that if we listen to God, we will be led to a safe place, to enjoy the inheritance that He has prepared for us. And if we ever lose our way, we are confident He will search for us.

Those who do not believe or choose not to listen to God cannot know Him. They do not belong to His flock. Therefore, they cannot have any part of His inheritance. It is like this: how can a student who does not listen during class and who does not study at all ever be expected to know the lesson? He eventually will fail the subject. Those Jews, who for many reasons, perhaps due to ignorance or stubbornness but mainly due to their pride did not believe in Jesus and could not accept the works that He did. They failed Jesus because their spirits were blinded by the hardness of their hearts.

Let me then share the following true story which can give us a comforting thought on perhaps why God chose to call us his sheep and He the Good Shepherd, the Divine Lamb of God. The story is entitled "Farmer discovers compassionate nature of sheep".

A Queensland sheep farmer has witnessed some intelligent and compassionate behaviour from his flock. Mr Johnston from Yungaburra recalls “I was mustering sheep in the Winton district and I had the privilege of seeing a weaner lamb caring for its blind mother. I noticed when the mother was feeling lost or lonely, she would bleat and her lamb would gallop up to be by her side, but then I noticed something even more astounding. When the ewe came across a log blocking her path, her lamb came racing to the rescue, jumping the log directly in front of her, showing her the way! The ewe then followed the same path, responding by hearing alone. There’s no doubt the ewe was completely blind. I was able to walk up to the ewe and wave my hand in front of her eyes. There was no response at all, not even a flicker of an eyelash. The poor soul was completely blind and her baby lamb was her minder!

On another occasion two weaner lambs were grazing together, when one galloped off, leaving the other one standing there looking all bewildered. It looked alarmed and bleated several times, and the first lamb came running back to help it and they ran off together. This lamb was blind also. I feel so privileged to have witnessed this caring nature of sheep.” (Source of the story: Smarter than Jack).

Monday, May 23, 2005

The Intellectual Pope

Seventeen years ago, Cathleen Kaveny, a law and theology professor at Notre Dame University, attended a conference on biblical interpretation held in New York and organized by Catholic convert Richard John Neuhaus. Among the invited guests were Raymond Brown, a well-respected biblical scholar; George Lindbeck, her dissertation adviser and Vatican observer; and the former Prefect of CDF, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger. It was the only time she met Pope Benedict XVI.

The following is her narration of her meeting with the Pope. It reflects the warmth, humor, charity, collegiality and the reserved charm of the intellectual pope.

"....during the first break, Lindbeck introduced me to Cardinal Ratzinger. The conversation went something like this: Lindbeck said, “Your eminence, I would like to introduce to you Cathleen Kaveny, a Catholic studying moral theology at Yale.” I smiled and said hello. Ratzinger smiled at me and responded, “A Catholic studying moral theology at Yale? You’d better be careful or you’ll have the Congregation after you.” I couldn’t believe my ears. After all, I had just heard, while wide awake, what Cardinal Ratzinger--the Grand Inquisitor--would say to me in a nightmare, which naturally would also include a stake, a match, a heap of kindling, and a long, flowing white dress (à la Cecil B. De Mille’s The Story of Joan of Arc). He was joking, of course, as I realized almost immediately. Nonetheless, my face must have turned as pale as Joan’s dress. The cardinal quickly understood the problem: “With whom are you studying?” he asked. And not quite able to speak again, I pointed mutely to Lindbeck. Ratzinger said, “Well, then, that’s all right...you’re in good hands.”

After the break, Neuhaus invited me to sit at the table for the remainder of the conference. But there was only one open seat, right next to Ratzinger himself. I took it with some trepidation.

...He was a real academic, delighting in the world illumined by his beloved texts, which conveyed a reality that seemed to be more vivid to him than the reality conveyed by his own senses. In his discussion with Lindbeck and Brown, I saw immense mutual respect, significant mutual challenge, and not a trace of condescension or rank-pulling on his part.

I also got the distinct impression that Ratzinger was relishing the intellectual exchange, much as a professor swamped with departmental administrative responsibilities relishes the all-too-rare opportunity to participate in colloquium on a key topic in his or her own academic field. He also seemed quite shy, in the peculiar, nonretiring manner that many academics are shy: they fearlessly present the contents of their minds for public examination while closely guarding the paths of their hearts."

(Source: Commonweal Magazine, May 6, 2005)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Pope, St. Augustine and the Holy Trinity

The doctrine of the Trinity is a divine mystery.

The Pope's recognition of Augustine is evident in his new papal coat of arms. A third of its shield is taken up by a shell, with primary significance to a legend about Augustine.

The legend, which comes to us from the Middle Ages in a variety of versions, is that Augustine was walking along the seashore, meditating about the unfathomable mystery of the Holy Trinity. There he met a boy who was using a shell to pour sea water into a hole he had made in the sand. When asked what he was doing, the boy explained, "I am emptying the sea into this hole."

Augustine said that the task was impossible, to which the boy replied that for Augustine to explain the Blessed Trinity was equally impossible. Thus the shell on the Pope's coat of arms is a symbol for plunging into the unfathomable sea of the Blessed Trinity.

(Source: Augustinians in Australia)

The Heart of The Trinity

Let us begin today's weblog, in the name of the Father and of the Son and to the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Everything begins with the Creator, the Generator of life - the First Person of the Holy Trinity, the Father. With the Father, comes the Second Person, the Son, Who is begotten, not made, one in being with the Father. The Third Person is the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father and the Son. Three Divine Persons in One God - One Divine Unity is Triune.

What comes from the Father is one with the Son and the Holy Spirit. They are distinct, yet of the same divine substance and nature. What is this nature? It is Love. God is Love. His nature is to love. And because He loved us first by sending His Son to save us, we are to be conformed to His image by loving through the Spirit of His Son.

In our weak human capacity to understand the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, we can almost describe the Heart of the Triune God. His Heart can only be Love. First, there was the Word, and the Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us. In other words, the Word was Love and Love became Man, Who promised to be with us always until the end of time. And because we are made in the image of Love, we are called to be in union with the Blessed Trinity, who is Love. "If a man loves me", says the Lord, "he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and make our home with him". -John 14:23

On this holy feast of the Holy Trinity, let us pray with Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity:

O my God, Trinity whom I adore,
help me forget myself entirely
so to establish myself in you,
unmovable and peaceful
as if my soul were already in eternity.
May nothing be able to trouble my peace
or make me leave you,
O my unchanging God,
but may each minute bring me
more deeply into your mystery!
Grant my soul peace.
Make it your heaven,
your beloved dwelling
and the place of your rest.
May I never abandon you there,
but may I be there, whole and entire,
completely vigilant in my faith,
entirely adoring, and wholly given over
to your creative action.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and
to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning
is now and ever will be world without end.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Bring The Children

"And they were bringing children to him, that he might touch them; and the disciples rebuked them. But when Jesus saw it he was indignant, and said to them, "Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it." And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands upon them." Mark 10: 13 - 16

St. Therese, the Little Flower said: “What pleases God in my little soul is that he sees me loving my littleness and my poverty. It is the blind hope that I have in his mercy. That is my only treasure. ... To love Jesus, the more one is weak, without desires and without virtues, the more one is suitable for the operations of God’s consuming and transforming love. It is CONFIDENCE and nothing but confidence that must lead us to love.”

What to do:
1. Bring your children to Church, however young they may be, even when you know they will be bored and restless.
2. Show them how to use the missal.
3. Teach them to appreciate the solemnity of the Holy Mass by example.
4. Teach them the importance of the Sacraments of Confession and Communion.
5. Teach them the Catechism. Through the Catechism, you shall bring children to know, love and serve God.
6. Be like St. Therese who never allowed herself to be hindered from the childlike confidence in God.

Friday, May 20, 2005

On the lighter side of things...

Sorry Star Wars fans but why does this photo remind me of the character of Satan in "The Passion of the Christ"? Can somebody spot the difference?

For those of you who didn't see "The Passion of the Christ", see any similarities?

A Reflection on Truth

"Abandoning the investigation of being, modern philosophical research has concentrated instead upon human knowing." -John Paul II

What is "the investigation of being"? It is the inevitable yearning of the soul to ask the ultimate questions: Who am I, What am I called to be, Where am I to go? The defiance of truth has forced society to turn in on itself. It has chosen to turn a deaf ear to these questions that form the very fiber of human existence.

To abandon this quest for self-knowledge means to neglect the quest for truth. Yet what is the cause of this abandonment or neglect? Modern society has developed a certain pride in its quest to know more complex systems of thought that it has failed to recognize a truth which transcends all things. It loses focus on the human capacity for knowledge and eventually ignores the truth about being and about God. Society has settled on partial truths at the risk of being swayed by, as the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI puts it, "every wind of doctrine".

This is where faith comes in. With faith, comes the grace which will proclaim the whole truth openly. This proclamation; however, must be accompanied with love, and as the Holy Father quoted Scripture in his first message to the cardinals, "Charity without truth would be blind; truth without charity would be like "a clanging cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1).

We must be bearers of the revelation of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. As members of the Church, we march forward with the words of Pope John Paul II, "Be not Afraid, open wide the doors to Christ!".

-A reflection based on John Paul II's encyclical, Fides et Ratio

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Chico And The Man

Here's an interesting story I came across that is worth sharing. It's about a cat named Chico and a man named Joseph Ratzinger.

After having read it, I've come to reflect on a few things: How God gives man the companionship in animals; how separation from family and friends can be a source of redemptive suffering; the importance of friendships with pets and people because they bring much joy and laughter to those who carry a heavy load. The Pope is human - he goes through the same experiences we all have in life. Have you seen a photo of him watching the movie about John Paul II? Looks to me like he's tired or he's missing his dear friend or both. Check it out here.

Enjoy the story.

REGENSBURG, Germany, April 21 -- When he was a cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI often delivered sermons at the German-language church in Campasanto Teutonico near St. Peter's Basilica, but his most heartfelt talks may have been the ones he gave after celebrating Mass. "I went with him once," said Konrad Baumgartner, the head of the theology department at Regensburg University. "Afterwards, he went into the old cemetery behind the church. "It was full of cats, and when he went out, they all ran to him. They knew him and loved him. He stood there, petting some and talking to them, for quite a long time. He visited the cats whenever he visited the church. His love for cats is quite famous."

The pope loves cats, can't resist Christmas cookies and, three months ago, waxed on about how he dreamed of retiring from the hectic life at the Vatican to enjoy his last years reading, writing and talking with friends. Agnes Heindl has been Georg Ratzinger's (the Pope's older brother) housekeeper for 10 years, and she's come to know the new pope well. She said she often drove then-Cardinal Ratzinger to his house after the brothers had shared Sunday dinner. His favorite foods were Weisswurst -- the traditional white Bavarian sausage -- and anything sweet. She said he's known for trying every type of Christmas cookie at a party. "Oh, he could just talk about anything, really," she said. "He liked to talk about friends and how people he knew were doing. He's a very pleasant man to have a conversation with."

She spoke with him again this week. He called on Wednesday morning, after getting busy signals at his brother's house Tuesday night. "The Holy Father called, and all I could do was stammer, 'So how do I address you now?' He laughed," she said. She said she's glad she heard him laugh. His new job isn't easy, and he'll need to laugh. She said that when he was relaxing, there was never a mystery about what would make him laugh. "Oh, cats," she said. "He loves them." She pointed up a staircase to a wall full of painted plates, each depicting a different cat. The brothers collected the plates together, she said. "When we were on vacation, a cat, a little kitten, would come by, and he'd be giddy, almost giggling with joy," she said. "Cats love him. They always go to him straight away. And he loves them back." Heindl doesn't think he can have a cat living in the Vatican. "He was always content to play with the street cats," she said. "I don't know much about Rome, but I know there's no shortage of cats there." Benedict still owns the house he bought on the edge of Regensburg in 1970, but he visits only a couple times a year. The city adjusted his deed this week -- it now lists the owner as "Holy Father."

On Thursday afternoon, Chico the cat -- perhaps the closest thing there is to The Pope's Cat -- strolled from the shaded arch between the Pope's front door and his garage. Chico belongs to Rupert Hofbauer, who looks after Benedict's garden and home. Georg Ratzinger said he almost feels as if he's lost his brother, knowing that it won't be easy to see him now. "I thought he'd retire soon, and we would finally have a lot of time to finish all the talks we've started through the years. We talked about that, just this Christmas when he was home," Hofbauer said. "He thought it sounded nice, to retire, to take it easy. That's not how it worked out though, is it?"

(CHICO, THE POPE'S CAT by Matthew Schofield, Knight Ridder Newspapers)

Postscript: When millions of people are drawn to the man named Benedict XVI, one can be assured of the workings of the Holy Spirit; that even cats are drawn to him is a sure sign of his holiness.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Remembering The Great Pope John Paul II

John Paul II Peak (Gran Sasso, Italy) shown above and John Paul II on his nature walk

"John Paul II, we miss you!" Imagine him smiling at us from Heaven as we chant this over and over again. He watches from above everything that is happening in the world and he is praying for us even as we blog.

As we skim through the magazines and books that bear images of his 27-year pontificate, we cannot help but miss him. His childlike smile that could sometimes send playful messages, his silver hair that often got windblown during a papal mass, his right hand on his forehead telling you he was in deep communion with his Creator, his baritone voice that could send a communist regime to its collapse, his kisses for babies and his facial caresses for the youth, his stooped posture and expressionless face while his hands gestured a blessing to all people, the only expression of love he could make as he suffered from Parkinson's disease.

While we still mourne his passing (and I am sure that many still do, including the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI), we are consoled daily with the gift of God in Pope Benedict XVI. It is truly a gift to have a pope for this is through whom God reveals his Fatherhood to all the world. This is through whom He reveals His love affair with man - His marriage to His bride, the Church. What a wonderful thing to be a part of!

So, let us look first to God, let us look to His Vicar on earth and let us look to His saints in Heaven.

Pope John Paul II, pray for us!

Two Popes and a Peak

There are two popes whom we should pray to especially today, May 18, 2005.

The first is St. John I, pope and martyr, whose feast day we celebrate today. John I was elected Pope in 523. The Arian King Theodoric sent him as his ambassador to Emperor Justin in Constantinople. On his return, he was captured by the king, who was displeased at the outcome of the embassy, and cast into prison at Ravenna where he died a few days later. As pope he was responsible for introducing the Alexandrian computation of the date of Easter; it came to be accepted throughout the west. (Catholic Culture)

The second is Pope John Paul II who would have celebrated his 85th birthday today. In today's general audience, the Holy Father remembered his predecessor and recalled "our beloved Pope John Paul II would have been 85. We are certain that he is watching us from on high and that he is with us. We wish to give thanks to the Lord for the gift of this great Pope, and for everything he did and suffered."

Okay, now what's this about a peak, you say? Well, the Holy Father noted that another significant event was taking place today in honor of the great John Paul II. He said, "today, in the Italian region of Abruzzo, a very significant act is taking place, which I join spiritually. A mountain peak of Italy's Gran Sasso mountain chain is being named for the unforgettable Pope John Paul II, who so loved these splendid mountains and visited them many times. I greet and thank the promoters of such a praiseworthy initiative and I hope that all those who will visit this peak will be encouraged to raise their spirit to God, Whose goodness shines forth in the beauty of creation." (EWTN).

I recall back in 1984, shortly after a tragic event in my life, I had written a letter to Pope John Paul II asking for his apostolic blessings and for his prayers. In my letter I told him that I believed him to be the closest person in the world to God. Today, I am comforted to hear of Pope Benedict's affirmation that the great John Paul II is with God and is looking down from Heaven and of knowing that somewhere here on earth, there is a place called John Paul II which can bring us closest to God and to Heaven.

Things we should do today and everyday is to pray especially for the Holy Father. Make sure your children know the Morning Offering in which we pray for the Holy Father's intentions. (Catholic Culture)

The Morning Offering:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. Amen. (say one Pater, one Ave and one Gloria)

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Fisherman's Ring

Pope Benedict XVI wearing his Pescatorio at his 2005 inauguration.

The Ring of the Fisherman or Pescatorio is an official part of the regalia worn by the pope, described by the Roman Catholic Church as the successer of St. Peter, a fisherman by trade. The Fisherman's Ring is a signet used until 1842 to seal official documents signed by the pope.

A new ring is cast in gold for each pontiff; the ring features a bas-relief of Saint Peter fishing from a boat. Raised lettering around the relief image presents the pope's Latin name. During the rite of Papal Inauguration or Papal Coronation the Cardinal Camerlengo ceremonially slips the ring on the left fourth finger of the new pope. On Pope Benedict XVI's occasion though, it was worn on the right finger, an action commented by Italian TV reporters as an act of "marrying" the Church. Upon a papal death, the Ring of the Fisherman is ceremonially crushed in the presence of other cardinals by the cardinal camerlengo, using a silver hammer. The action is needed to prevent the sealing of backdated, forged documents during the interregnum sede vacante period.

A letter written by
Pope Clement IV to his nephew Peter Grossi in 1265 includes the earliest known mention of the Ring of the Fisherman, used for sealing all private correspondence by pressing the ring into red sealing wax melted onto a folded piece of paper or envelope. Public documents, by contrast, were sealed by pressing the Papal seal into lead melted on the document. Such documents were historically called papal bulls, named after the stamped bulla of lead. Use of the Ring of the Fisherman changed during the fifteenth century when it was used to seal official documents called papal briefs. That practice ended in 1842, when the wax with its guard of silk and the impression of the fisherman's ring was replaced by a stamp which affixed the same device in red ink (Catholic Encyclopedia "Bulls").

Through the centuries, the Ring of the Fisherman did not become known for its practical use but by its
feudal symbolism. Borrowing from the traditions developed by medieval monarchs, followers showed respect to the reigning pope by kneeling at his feet and kissing the Ring of the Fisherman. The tradition continues to this day. (Source: Wikipedia)

Sunday, May 15, 2005

What's In A Name?

What's in a name? A lot. In a Christian name, that is. In fact, the name that has taken the world stage in recent events is... drum role please.... JOSEPH!

St. Joseph is the patron of the Universal Church, the silent but powerful saint whose name can truly be a source of sanctification and intercession.

We know God's ways are mysterious but now and then He let's us peak into this mystery. Recently, the Lord has shown us his choice of workers from a short list of Josephs. The first was Karol Josef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul the Great. The second is Joseph Ratzinger, our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. The third is William Joseph Levada, Archbishop of San Francisco who has been appointed as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The fourth is Joseph Fessio SJ, prodege of Benedict XVI, Editor of Ignatius Press and Provost of Ave Maria University. Wow, you say? Yes, wow! And there's more to it than meets the eye.

In a span of one and a half months, four priests named Joseph have been thrusted into center stage. Each of them linked to another in some distinct way. There is undoubtedly something providential here! However closely they are associated to one another, they are polars apart both in temperament and personality. Josef Wojtyla was an outgoing, charismatic prelate, a prolific writer, mystic and philosopher. Joseph Ratzinger is a simple, humble worker, warm, soft-spoken, yet so deep and transparent that even agnostics return to their faith. Joseph Levada, an often misunderstood bishop due largely to his pragmatic approaches, has been known to be generous and fair. Joseph Fessio, well what can one say? He's passionate, thick-skinned - a true Jesuit, and one of today's very few and very best!

We see God's mystery again made manisfest when we find in today's second reading on the Feast of Pentecost this passage in 1 Corinthians 12:4-6, "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in every one".

So what's in a Christian name? Simple. It's the power of the Holy Spirit!

So, to all the faithful Josephs out there including the four Josephs, thanks be to God for all of you. To all the Josephs who have yet to learn about their patron saint, I say, learn more about him and learn to love him but more importantly, pray to him often. To all the faithful, let us today, more than ever, invoke the help of St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, whose name we bless in the Divine Praises, for Jesus may well be pointing us to His foster father at this point in Church history. Finally to the expecting parents, may you be encouraged to give your son the name Joseph.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Habemus Papam!

The Holy Father beaming with joy!

Pope Benedict XVI is a man chosen by the Holy Spirit. Those who believe this, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, will be in for a big surprise! First, they will experience a genuine love and respect for a man whom they have never seen nor heard of, before the conclave. Second, they will experience a quick and steady growth in their faith. They will be drawn to Jesus more and more. Alas, those who doubt the Holy Spirit's role in the election, will find themselves fearing rather than hoping, complaining rather than rejoicing.

The Pope was a reluctant successor who, by Divine Providence and through the prayers of the Church and the support of his brother cardinals, rose above his human weakness and found his heart captivated by Jesus. Despite an overwhelming sense of an approaching martyrdom, then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger received the grace of consolation and quickly realized that Jesus was calling him to be His Vicar - how could he refuse the Master! He was not only a simple and humble worker of the Lord's vineyard, he was, most of all what was most pleasing to God - obedient. Let us therefore rise above our own human weakness and pledge our support for the man who was chosen by the Holy Spirit, the priest who gave his "yes" to Jesus in the conclave.

In preparation for the Feast of Pentecost on Sunday, May 15 2005, we give thanks to the Holy Spirit for resting Himself on Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who for 26 years protected the deposit of the doctrine of faith. Let us pray to the Holy Spirit that He may continue to bless the Pope with wisdom, courage and humility.

God bless you Holy Father Benedict XVI!

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Holy Father Asks For Our Prayers

Viva il Papa!

"... I am not alone. I do not have to carry alone what in truth I could never carry alone. All the Saints of God are there to protect me, to sustain me and to carry me. And your prayers, my dear friends, your indulgence, your love, your faith and your hope accompany me. My dear friends – at this moment I can only say: pray for me, that I may learn to love the Lord more and more. Pray for me, that I may learn to love his flock more and more – in other words, you, the holy Church, each one of you and all of you together. Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves. Let us pray for one another, that the Lord will carry us and that we will learn to carry one another."

- Pope Benedict XVI on his Inauguration, 24 April 2005

The Pope's Prayer Intentions for May 2005

General Intentions: "That those persecuted for the sake of faith and justice may experience the consolation and strength of the Holy Spirit".

Mission intention is: "That the Pontifical Missionary Works, proposed by the Holy Father and the bishops for the evangelization of all nations, may help the people of God to feel that they have a real part to play in the mission 'ad gentes'."

Powerhouse Of The Laity

In light of the recent papal election of Pope Benedict XVI and the situation of the Catholic Church at large, it has become an undeniable fact that, we the faithful, have been entrusted with the solemn duty to support the Holy Father through prayers, penance and preaching.

St. Peter’s Helpers is an informal movement of lay Roman Catholics loyal to the Holy Father and the Church Magisterium. It is a response to the Holy Father’s invitation to walk with him and to pray for him as he undertakes the enormous task of the Petrine Ministry which has been entrusted to him.

The primary mission of the association is to build a powerhouse among the laity to help the Holy Father in the salvation of souls. For it was with Peter the first Pope, that Jesus left the keys of Heaven and it is through the Pope that Jesus will shepherd the Universal Church. The flock who hears the voice of the Good Shepherd must listen and obey.

If you are a practicing Catholic, you are invited to become a member. As members, we are called to live out nine simple rules of Christian life, for the intentions of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It is advised that members familiarize themselves with the Pope's monthly intentions.

1. Daily Mass and Communion (if possible)

2. Confession at least once a month

3. Praying for the intentions of the Holy Father

4. Daily Rosary

5. Acts of penance such as abstinence from meat on Fridays

6. Evangelization through word or deed

7. Eucharistic adoration once a week

8. Spiritual readings including papal encyclicals

9. Attending retreats or days of recollection

Members are asked to live out the rules to the best of their abilities and according to their state in life. That means that if you are married and have family obligations, you must make a proper discernment to work the rules around priorities of family life. In the same way, if one is suffering from an illness, one is to avoid any act of penance that may pose as a danger to one's health. For this reason, members are encouraged to find a good spiritual director.

As a member of St. Peter's Helpers, one must acknowledge that the Holy Father is "the Rock" and that through him, we must always be drawn closer to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The association’s patrons are the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, St. Joseph, patron of the Universal Church, St. Catherine of Sienna, Doctor of the Church who called the Pope “Sweet Christ on earth”, St. Benedict of Nursia, the patron saint of our present Pope, Benedict XVI and St. Peter, the first Pope.

If you are seriuosly interested in giving your spiritual support to the Holy Father, we ask that you pray to the Holy Spirit in guiding you as you make your pledge of loyalty to the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.

Personal pledge to support the Holy Father: I pledge my loyalty to the Supreme Pontiff and the Magisterium of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. I promise to the best of my abilities to support the Holy Father through a life of prayer, penance and preaching, for his intentions, his temporal and spiritual protection and that he may receive a superabundance of grace to continue his Petrine Ministry, for the salvation of souls including my own.

+ Consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary + Click to play "REGINA CAELI"

Apostolic Blessing by Pope Benedict XVI

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