Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The Pope's Message for 21st WYD


Made public yesterday was an extract of the Holy Father’s message on the occasion of the 21st World Youth Day, which will be celebrated on April 9, Palm Sunday.

Here are some of the key points that he makes to young people.

Authentic happiness can be found by being disciples of Christ. The Word of God will set you free!

"It is not easy to recognize and find authentic happiness in this world in which we live, where people are often held captive by the current ways of thinking. They may think they are 'free,' but they are being led astray and become lost amid the errors or illusions of aberrant ideologies. 'Freedom itself needs to be set free,' and the darkness in which humankind is groping needs to be illuminated. "Jesus taught us how this can be done: 'If you continue in My word, you are truly My disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.' The incarnate Word, Word of Truth, makes us free and directs our freedom towards the good."

The Word of God is mystical and historical. It will be your lamp during dark and difficult times.

"Meditate often on the word of God, and allow the Holy Spirit to be your teacher. You will then discover that God's way of thinking is not the same as that of humankind's. You will find yourselves led to contemplate the real God and to read the events of history through His eyes."

"On life's journey, which is neither easy nor free of deceptions, you will meet difficulties and suffering and at times you will be tempted to exclaim with the psalmist: 'I am severely afflicted.' Do not forget to add as the psalmist did: 'give me life, O Lord, according to Your word. ... The loving presence of God, through His word, is the lamp that dispels the darkness of fear and lights up the path even when times are most difficult.

Take the Word of God seriously. Listen to It, Believe It, Live It.

"The author of the Letter to the Hebrews wrote: 'Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.' ... It is necessary to take seriously the injunction to consider the word of God to be an indispensable 'weapon' in the spiritual struggle. This will be effective and show results if we learn to listen to it and then to obey it. ... The secret of acquiring 'an understanding heart' is to train your heart to listen. This is obtained by persistently meditating on the word of God and by remaining firmly rooted in it through the commitment to persevere in getting to know it better."

Get a Bible and Love the Word, Study It and Contemplate It.

"I urge you to become familiar with the Bible, ... so that it can be your compass pointing out the road to follow. By reading it, you will learn to know Christ. ... A time-honored way to study and savor the word of God is 'lectio divina' which constitutes a real and veritable spiritual journey marked out in stages. After the 'lectio,' which consists of reading and rereading a passage from Sacred Scripture and taking in the main elements, we proceed to 'meditatio,' ... in which the soul turns to God and tries to understand what His word is saying to us today. Then comes 'oratio' in which we linger to talk with God directly. Finally we come to 'contemplatio.' This helps us to keep our hearts attentive to the presence of Christ."

"Reading, study and meditation of the Word should then flow into a life of consistent fidelity to Christ and His teachings."

If Jesus calls you do not be afraid! The world needs you to spread the Good News.

"To build your life on Christ, to accept the word with joy and put its teachings into practice: this, young people of the third millennium, should be your program! There is an urgent need for the emergence of a new generation of apostles anchored firmly in the word of Christ, capable of responding to the challenges of our times and prepared to spread the Gospel far and wide. It is this that the Lord asks of you, it is to this that the Church invites you, and it is this that the world - even though it may not be aware of it - expects of you! If Jesus calls you, do not be afraid to respond to Him with generosity, especially when He asks you to follow Him in the consecrated life or in the priesthood. Do not be afraid; trust in Him and you will not be disappointed."


Monday, February 27, 2006

The Holy Shroud of Turin


The Winter Olympics finally came to a close on Sunday in Torino, Italy. And as the world watched the thrill of victories and the agonies of defeat, there was a deeper kind of excitement drawing people's attention - an undeniable interest in the holiest of relics: The Holy Shroud. How timely for the Lenten season.

Headlines claimed that the
Shroud of Turin would outdraw winter olympics. Even an Associated Press reporter wrote how on a recent visit to Turin, he struggled with his Italian so wanting to find the Holy Shroud.

It touches people's lives, even if they come only with curious eyes. One Shroud expert says, "The Shroud has a tremendous impact on people. I have seen scientists break down and cry upon seeing it. Even Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) said something grabbed him when he saw it. It creates converts very easily."

Here I share with you some of my own personal photos taken during my visit to Lourdes, France, where they had an exhibit on the Holy Shroud. [update] The actual Shroud was not in exhibit but images of it.

If you look at the Holy Face, you can see white patches on the forehead of Jesus where Precious Blood trickled down as a result of the crowning of thorns. You can also see that His left eye seemed to be swollen.

Here you can see that during the Passion of Jesus, He tried to hoist Himself up on the Cross in order to breath. This meant more pressure on His Sacred Hands and Feet!

The Shroud also showed stained patches in the area of the arms which indicated that blood flowed downwardly from His hands along His arms during Crucifixion.

This photo shows what the Shroud revealed as far as the Scourging and the Crowing of Thorns. It revealed the direction of the blows and the depth of the wounds on His Head.

This shows a dark patch on the Shroud (image on the left) tracing the bloodied Right Foot of Our Lord while nailed to the Cross (image on the right).

The thumb of Jesus folded in as the nail went through the base of His wrist probably hitting the most sensitive nerve.

This photo shows how carefully the Body of Jesus was wrapped. It is believed that the intensity of Light from the Resurrection captured the image of His Body on the Shroud.

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him" (Jn 3:16-17).

(Photos via Shroud exhibit in the Sanctuary of Lourdes, 2004)

Things to do:

1. Visit the
official website of the Holy Shroud

2. Make the Stations of the Cross each Friday of Lent, meditating on the Passion of Our Lord.

3. Pray the Litany of the Sacred Wounds in reparation for personal sins and the sins of the world.

A Little Big Change


Dear friends, I hope you don't mind if I changed the blog style. I was so inspired by Danny and Moneybags, that I tweeked it and before I knew it, I ended up with this one. I hope it's suitable to all. If you notice any problems, please let me know. Thank you for your patience.

The Angelus Message


Below are excerpts from the Pope's Sunday Angelus message, February 25, 2006.

What Lent Means
Christ reveals his identity of Messiah, Israel's bridegroom, who came for the betrothal with his people. Those who recognize and welcome him are celebrating. However, he will have to be rejected and killed precisely by his own: At that moment, during his Passion and death, the hour of mourning and fasting will come. During this period the 'Alleluia' is not sung and we are invited to practice appropriate forms of penitential denial.

On the Lenten Spirit
The Lenten season must not be faced with an "old" spirit, as if it were a heavy and tedious obligation, but with the new spirit of the one who has found in Jesus and his paschal mystery the meaning of life, and now feels that everything must make reference to him. This was the attitude of the Apostle Paul, who affirmed that he left everything behind to be able to know Christ "and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead" (Philippians 3:10-11).

Taking Mary As Our Guide
May our guide and teacher in our Lenten journey be Mary Most Holy, who, when Jesus went with determination to Jerusalem to suffer the passion, followed him with total faith. As a "new amphora" she received the "new wine" prepared by the Son for the messianic betrothal (cf. Mark 2:22). And, in this way, she was the first to receive under the Cross that grace, poured out by the pierced heart of the son, incarnation of the love of God for humanity, that she herself, had requested with a mother's instinct for the bride and groom of Cana (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," Nos. 13-15).

An Invitation
I invite all, moreover, to more intense prayer and penance, in the holy season of Lent, so that the Lord will remove from these beloved nations, and from many other parts of the earth, the threat of such conflicts!

(From Zenit)

Signum Crucis: The Sign of The Cross


Latin Lesson #2

Here's an easy one. Let's try it, the next time we cross ourselves.


IN nómine Patris, et Fílii, et Spíritus Sancti. Amen.
In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.



From here

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Preparing For Lent

The following brief history of Lent and lenten spirituality were written by Fr. John Hardon, SJ.

Brief History

It seems certain that a Lenten season preceding Easter goes back to the time of the Apostles. The length of time varied. But by the Council of Nicea (325 A.D.), which was the first general council of the Church, Lent is to be observed for forty days.

The number forty has a long biblical history: The forty days' fasts of Moses, Elijah and especially Our Lord in the desert.

During the early days of the Church, the observance of fast was very strict. One meal was allowed per day and, even in that meal, meat and fish were forbidden. By the fifteenth century, the one meal was taken at noon.

Gradually an extra collation was allowed in the evening.

The present legislation of Canon Law is as follows:

All Fridays through the year and the time of Lent are penitential days and times throughout the universal Church (Canon 1250).

Abstinence from eating meat or another food according to the prescriptions of the conference of bishops is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year unless they are solemnities; abstinence and fast are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ (Canon 1251).

According to the apostolic constitution of Pope Paul VI (1966), "the law of abstinence forbids the use of meat, but not of eggs, the products of milk or condiments made of animal fat. The law of fasting allows only one full meal a day, but does not prohibit taking some food in the morning and evening."

Although not strictly obligatory, the observance of fasting on all weekdays of Lent is strongly recommended by the Church. This recommendation applies to the Marian Catechists.

One statement that is new in the Code of Canon Law declares that "pastors and parents are to see to it that minors who are not bound by the law of fast (eighteenth year completed) and abstinence (fourteenth year completed) are educated in an authentic sense of penance" (Canon 1252). This provision certainly applies to Marian Catechists who are in a position to educate young people "in an authentic sense of penance."

Spirit of the Lenten Season

There are two guiding principles for the observance of Lent. During this season, the faithful are to grow in their love of Jesus Crucified, and they are to practice extra penance for their own and other people's sins. Both aspects of Lent deserve some explanation.

Love of Jesus Crucified

~ The spirit of Lent is the spirit of Christ Crucified. Therefore, whatever enables us to better understand Christ's Passion and Death, and deepens our responsive love for His great love toward us should be fostered during the Lenten season. Some recommendations:

~ Meditation on the Gospel narratives of Christ's Passion.

~ Spiritual reading of books like Goodier's Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Abbot Marmion's The Way of the Cross, Edward Leen's Why the Cross?, Fulton Sheen's Seven Words on the Cross.

~ Recitation of prayers like Soul of Christ Sanctify Me.

~ Besides making the daily Way of the Cross, encouraging others to make the Stations at least on Fridays during Lent.

~ Having some symbol of Christ's Passion, like the crucifix or picture of the crucifix within easy eye vision to remind us of the Passion at odd moments of the day.

~ Having some short aspiration which is recited (at least mentally) a few times during the day, like, "My Jesus Crucified," or "Heart of Jesus, obedient unto death, have mercy on us."

~ Occasionally reciting the Litany of the Precious Blood.

~ Spending some extra time before the Blessed Sacrament, asking Our Lord to grow in the understanding of His continued Passion now in the Church, which is His Mystical Body on earth!

~ Making an occasional entry into one's spiritual journal about, "How much the Passion of Christ means to me."

Reparation for Sin.

In practicing penance, we should keep in mind that there are two levels of reparation we are to practice, for our own and other people's sins. We are to expiate the guilt incurred by failing in one's love for God. And we are to repair the harm done by disobeying the will of God.

On the first level, our penance should be the practice of a deeper and more generous love for God

* By making acts of divine love.

* By doing our ordinary work with more selfless love for God.

* By putting our heart more sincerely into whatever we are doing, and periodically telling our Lord we are doing it out of love for Him.

* By deciding before Lent, what form(s) of charity I will practice towards those with whom I live or work. There is no more pleasing love of God, as expiation, than the selfless love of others whom God puts into my daily life.

* By going through the spiritual and corporal works or mercy, and selecting one or more on which I wish to concentrate during Lent, as my form of penance-as-love, offered to the loving but offended God.

* On the second level, our penance should strive to endure some pain in order to expiate the sinful pleasure that is always the substance of sin. This can take on a variety of forms, and no two people are the same in this matter.

The following are merely examples.

* More frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance during Lent.

* More frequent attendance at Mass.

* Less time spent in eating, or eating less food, or getting up earlier than usual.

* Sacrifice of some hours per week that would otherwise have been spent in watching television, listening to the radio, reading secular newspapers, magazines, or fiction.

* Walking, instead of driving, and walking upstairs instead of using an elevator.

* Doing without some delicacy at table, or not eating between meals.

* Getting up promptly in the morning, and retiring in good time at night.

* Answering letters or writing to persons who would appreciate hearing from us.

* Gauging one's time in telephone conversation or conversation in general

(From: The Real Presence. Image courtesy of Catholic Online)

March Calls for Prayer and Almsgiving

March calendar calls for prayer, almsgiving

Washington DC, Feb. 24, 2006 (CNA) - Lent calls Catholics to prayer, fasting and almsgiving. With the start of Lent March 1, the U.S. Catholic Bishops have issued a calendar that provides several opportunities for prayer and almsgiving within the Church.

The season will begin with a special collection for Aid to the Church in Need in Central and Eastern Europe. It is to be held in parishes on Ash Wednesday, March 1, or on the First Sunday of Lent.

The Collection for Black and Indian Missions will be held March 6. The third collection will be March 26; all proceeds will help fund Catholic Relief Services.

The faithful also urged to join in prayer for the 17th Annual Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, March 5-11, and to observe the Feast of the Annunciation March 25.

Catholic News Agency

Friday, February 24, 2006

Pope's Message for Lent

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Lent is a privileged time of interior pilgrimage towards Him Who is the fount of mercy. It is a pilgrimage in which He Himself accompanies us through the desert of our poverty, sustaining us on our way towards the intense joy of Easter. Even in the “valley of darkness” of which the Psalmist speaks (Ps 23:4), while the tempter prompts us to despair or to place a vain hope in the work of our own hands, God is there to guard us and sustain us.

Yes, even today the Lord hears the cry of the multitudes longing for joy, peace, and love. As in every age, they feel abandoned. Yet, even in the desolation of misery, loneliness, violence and hunger that indiscriminately afflict children, adults, and the elderly, God does not allow darkness to prevail. In fact, in the words of my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, there is a “divine limit imposed upon evil”, namely, mercy (Memory and Identity, pp. 19ff.). It is with these thoughts in mind that I have chosen as my theme for this Message the Gospel text: “Jesus, at the sight of the crowds, was moved with pity” (Mt 9:36).

Read the rest of the Pope's message here.

Hat tip to
Open Book.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pater Noster, The Our Father

Okay folks, here's our first lesson in Latin: The Our Father. If you don't know it yet, then what a better way to learn it than to sing it. Follow along by singing the lines indicated in red.

Our instructor will be the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II.

Just click here => PATER NOSTER

Pater noster qui es in coelis,
Our Father in heaven,

sanctifcetur nomen tuum.
hallowed be your name.

Adveniat regnum tuum,
Your kingdom come,

fiat voluntas tua,
your will be done,

sicut in coelo et in terra.
on earth as it is in heaven.

Panem nostrum quotidianum da nobis hodie,
Give us this day our daily bread,

et dimitte nobis debita nostra,
and forgive us our debts,

sicut et nos dimittimus debitoribus nostri,
as we also have forgiven our debtors,

et ne nos inducas in tentationem,
and do not bring us to the time of trial,

sed libera nos a malo.
but rescue us from the evil one.

(Matthew 6,9-13) St. Peter's. Rome, March 22,1995

~Courtesy of Sony Classics~

What Do Cardinals Do?

What does a cardinal do?
By Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church have two key jobs, advising the current pope and electing a new pope.

The cardinals as a body offer their advice to the pope in two ways:

-- Through their membership in Vatican congregations or other departments of the Roman Curia, the church's central administrative offices.

-- Through their membership in the College of Cardinals, which the pope can convoke to discuss substantive questions facing the church. Cardinals who are resident in Rome meet more frequently to discuss the major decisions the pope is facing.

The College of Cardinals has three ranks:

-- Cardinal bishops, a group that includes only six Latin-rite cardinals, one of whom is elected dean of the College of Cardinals. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the current Pope Benedict XVI, was the dean at the time of his election. He was succeeded by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state.

-- Cardinal priests, most of whom are diocesan bishops, although some senior curial officials also hold the rank.

-- Cardinal deacons, most of whom are curial officials.

Cardinals wear a distinctive orange-tinged red cassock and biretta in solemn ceremonies. During ordinary liturgical rites they wear a red skullcap. Pope Paul VI decreed that the College of Cardinals would have a maximum of 120 active members.

Since 1970, those over 80 have not been counted as active. Although the retired cardinals are not eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope, they still are considered advisers to the pope, and they are invited to participate in the meetings of the College of Cardinals in preparation for a conclave.

Catholic News. Images courtesy of Associated Press.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

New Cardinals

Pope Benedict announces new Cardinals.

Thomas at American Papist has several posts of fantastic photos of the new red hatters.

By the way, the Holy Father wants us to learn Latin! Learning basic Latin prayers is a good way to start.

Pope Says Pray for Petrine Ministry

VATICAN CITY, FEB 22, 2006 (VIS) -

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which falls today, provided the theme for Benedict XVI's catechesis during the general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall.

This is the feast, said the Pope, "with which we give thanks to God for the mission entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his Successors. The 'cathedra' is literally the seat of the bishop. ... It is the symbol of his authority and, particularly, of his 'Magisterium,' in other words of the evangelical teaching that he, as successor to the Apostles, is called to protect and transmit to the Christian community."

The Holy Father then recalled that the first "seat" of the Church was the Cenacle, saying "it is probable that a special place was reserved for Simon Peter in that room, where Mary Mother of Jesus also prayed together with the disciples. Subsequently, Peter's seat became Antioch." From there, Providence led him to Rome "where he crowned with martyrdom his journey in the service of the Gospel. For this reason the see of Rome, which obtained the greatest honor, also received the obligation entrusted by Christ to Peter to be at the service of all particular Churches, for the edification and unity of the entire People of God."

"To celebrate the 'Chair' of Peter means, then, giving it a strong spiritual significance, and recognizing therein a privileged sign of the love of God, the good and eternal Shepherd Who wishes to unite the whole of His Church and lead her along the way of salvation. ... As the Father of the Church St. Jerome writes: 'I follow no leader save Christ, so I consult the Chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built'."

Benedict XVI concluded his catechesis with an invitation to pray, "especially for the ministry with which God has entrusted me. ... Call upon the Holy Spirit to support with His light and strength my daily service to the whole Church."

Read rest here

[UPDATE] Here is the entire catechesis in today's Wednesday Audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Latin liturgy celebrates today the feast of the Chair of Peter. It is a very ancient tradition, witnessed in Rome since the end of the fourth century, which renders thanksgiving to God for the mission entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his successors. "Cathedra" literally means the established seat of the bishop, located in the mother church of a diocese, which for this reason is called "cathedral," and it is the symbol of the authority of the bishop and, in particular, of his "magisterium," that is, of the evangelical teaching that he, insofar as a successor of the apostles, is called to guard and transmit to the Christian community.

When the bishop takes possession of the local Church that is entrusted to him, he, bearing the miter and the shepherd's crosier, sits on the cathedra. From that seat he will guide, as teacher and shepherd, the journey of the faithful in faith, hope and charity.

Which was, then, the "cathedra" if St. Peter? He, chosen by Christ as "rock" on which to build the Church (cf. Matthew 16:18), began his ministry in Jerusalem, after the ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. The first "seat" of the Church was the Cenacle, and in all probability in that room, where Mary, the Mother of Jesus, also prayed with the disciples, a special place was reserved for Simon Peter. Subsequently, the see of Peter was Antioch, a city situated on the Oronte River in Syria, today Turkey, which at the time was the third metropolis of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria in Egypt.

Of that city, evangelized by Barnabas and Paul, where "for the first time the disciples were called Christians" (Acts 11:26), Peter was the first Bishop. In fact, the Roman Martyrology, before the reform of the calendar, established also a specific celebration of the Chair of Peter at Antioch. From there, Providence led Peter to Rome, where he concluded with martyrdom his course of service to the Gospel.

For this reason, the See of Rome, which had received the greatest honor, received also the task entrusted by Christ to Peter of being at the service of all the local Churches for the building and unity of the whole People of God. In this way the See of Rome came to be known as that of the Successor of Peter, and the "cathedra" of its Bishop represented that of the apostle charged by Christ to feed all his flock. It is attested by the most ancient Fathers of the Church, as for example St. Irenaeus, bishop of Lyon, who in his treatise "Against Heresies" describes the Church of Rome as "greatest and most ancient, known by all; … founded and constituted at Rome by the two glorious Apostles Peter and Paul"; and he adds: "With this Church, because of her outstanding superiority, the universal Church must be in agreement, that is, the faithful everywhere" (III, 3, 2-3). Tertullian, for his part, affirms: "How blessed this Church of Rome is! The Apostles themselves shed on her, with their blood, the whole of the doctrine" ("La Prescrizione degli Eretici," 36).

The Chair of the Bishop of Rome represents, therefore, not only his service to the Roman community, but also his mission of guide of the whole People of God. To celebrate the "Chair" of Peter, as we do today, means, therefore, to attribute to it a strong spiritual significance and to recognize in it a privileged sign of the love of God, good and eternal Shepherd, who wants to gather the whole of his Church and guide her along the way of salvation. Among so many testimonies of the Fathers, I would like to refer to that of St. Jerome, taken from a letter of his to the Bishop of Rome, particularly interesting because he makes explicit reference in fact to the "chair" of Peter, presenting it as the safe harbor of truth and peace.

Jerome writes thus: "I decided to consult the chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once you received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the chair of Peter for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built! ("Le Lettere," I, 15,1-2).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, in the apse of St. Peter's Basilica, as you know, is found the monument to the Chair of the Apostle, a mature work of Bernini, made in the shape of a great bronze throne, supported by the statues of four Doctors of the Church, two from the West, St. Augustine and St. Ambrose, and two from the East, St. John Chrysostom and St. Athanasius. I invite you to pause before that evocative work, which today it is possible to admire decorated with so many candles, and pray in a particular way for the ministry that God has entrusted to me. Raising one's gaze to the alabaster glass window that opens precisely above the chair, invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he will always sustain with his light and strength my daily service to the whole Church.

For this, as for your devoted attention, I thank you from my heart. [Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father read the following summary in English:]

Today we celebrate the feast of the Chair of Peter. It is an ancient feast, dating back to the fourth century, which gives thanks to God for the mission entrusted to the Apostle Peter and to his successors. The first "seat" of the Church was the Cenacle where, in all probability, there was a special place reserved for Simon Peter.

From there the "seat" of Peter moved to Antioch where he became its first Bishop, and from there, Providence led Peter to Rome where his service to the Gospel was crowned with martyrdom. In this way Rome came to be known as the "See" of the successor of Peter and the "cathedra" of its Bishop, as representing the mission entrusted to him by Christ to shepherd his entire flock. In celebrating the "Chair" of Peter we thus recognize its spiritual significance: It is a special sign of the love of God -- the good and eternal Shepherd -- who guides the whole Church along the way of salvation. In the words of St. Jerome, "I follow no leader save Christ so I consult the chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built!"


The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter

The Lord said to Simon Peter: I have prayed that your faith may not fail;and you in your turn must strengthen your brothers. (Luke 22:32)


All-powerful Father,you have built your Church on the rock of St. Peter's confession of faith. May nothing divide or weaken our unity in faith and love. 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.

-Official Prayer from the Mass of the Chair of Saint Peter

The Chair of St. Peter
by Bro. Charles Madden, OFM, Conv.

The Feast of the Chair of St. Peter is celebrated each year on February 22nd. It is a commemoration of St. Peter, the first pope, and his primacy over the Church as well as an acknowledgment of the primacy of the pope today. Before giving a history of the Chair itself, a little background on St. Peter is necessary.

St. Peter is consistently shown in the Scriptures to be the head or Vicar of Christ's Church on earth after Christ's Ascension. Peter's primacy over the rest of the apostles is clearly delineated. Peter presided over the election of Matthias as an apostle replacing Judas the traitor.

After the Holy Spirit came among the apostles on Pentecost, it was Peter who first went forth to preach to the crowd that day. And it was he who worked the first miracle. In fact, so great was his power that merely his shadow falling upon the sick as he passed by healed their maladies. It was Peter also who excoriated Simon Magus for trying to buy the apostles' power.

On another occasion when Ananias and Saphira attempted to deceive him, Peter pronounced fatal judgment upon them. And when Peter and John were arrested by the Jewish authorities, it was Peter who spoke in their defense.Whereas in the Acts of the Apostles, we read how the apostle Paul visited only those places where he actually preached, Peter visited the churches everywhere in Palestine. Peter was the first to accept Gentile converts and to end the distinction between Jewish and Gentile Christians.

When Paul brought before the apostles the controversy about requiring Gentile converts to be circumcised, again after much discussion it was Peter who resolved the matter by declaring circumcision unnecessary for Gentiles. When persecutions against Christians in Jerusalem broke out, Peter dispersed the apostles, going first to Antioch Syria as its first bishop and shortly thereafter to Rome, where he remained until his death. The precedents Peter set as bishop of Rome were followed by his successors and the supreme authority his successors exercised was acknowledged by the bishops who succeeded the other apostles.

The Chair of St. Peter encased in bronze by Bernini in the middle of the 17th Century and placed behind the main altar in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is the second of two chairs used by St. Peter during his years in Rome. The first one no longer exists and is presumed to have been destroyed by the barbarians in the 400's. (What follows is paraphrased from the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.) This second chair was moved from its original place in the Church of Sancta Prisca to the baptistery of the Vatican basilica by Pope Damasus during his reign in the late 300's.

In the Middle Ages it was the custom to put the Chair on display for the public to see. Also, until the early 1300's when the papacy was in Avignon for seventy years, newly elected popes were enthroned on St. Peter's Chair. After the Chair was encased by Bernini it was not put on display for 200 years until 1867. At that time it was carefully examined and its oldest parts were determined to be made from oak, much of which was worm-eaten and had pieces removed for the making of relics. About the ninth century the Chair was reinforced with pieces of acacia wood ornamented with ivory.

The Chair is about four feet seven inches high, 3 feet wide with the seat at one foot ten inches above the ground. Besides this relic of St. Peter, archeologists in the 1950's located and positively identified the grave and bones of St. Peter under St. Peter's basilica.

Sources: From Militia of the Immaculata; Image of St. Peter's Chair by Bernini taken from The Detroit Institute of Arts.

Winterr's Words celebrates this feast day by explaining Papal Infallibility... check it out.

What I can do today:

1. Offer my Holy Communion for the Petrine Ministry

2. Pray for the Reunion of all Christians

3. Pray a Rosary for the Pope's Intentions

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Proper Dress

Angela of Ancilla Domini speaks up about modesty in dress and refers a great link to Catholic Modesty.

Danny of
Irish and Dangerous reminds us about our Sunday Best and has a good discussion going.

Good posts by both of them.

Holy Siblings

[Update] Like Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta, saints who happen to be siblings draw great inspiration. They were not only family by blood but also by baptism. There are probably a vast number of unknown saints who were siblings but never canonized.

Here are just some of the holy siblings listed in no particular order:

Saints Acisclus and Victoria, Martyrs (Acisclus is also known as Ascylus, Ocysellus)

Born at Cordova, Spain; died 304. Saints Acisclus and Victoria were siblings, who suffered martyrdom probably under Diocletian. Their home was turned into a church. They are the principal patrons of Cordova and are greatly venerated throughout Spain and southern France, especially in Provence (Benedictines). Saints Acisclus and Victoria are represented in art as a young man and woman crowned with roses (Roeder).

Saints Eulampius and Eulampia, Martyrs

Died c. 310. The siblings Saints Eulampius and Eulampia were martyred at Nicomedia during the reign of Gallienus. It is said that the courage of these two young children led to the conversion and martyrdom of 200 soldiers (Benedictines).

Saint Scholastica and Saint Benedict

Scholastica (Born in Nursia, Italy, c. 480; died near Monte Cassino, Italy, c. 543.) was the twin sister of Saint Benedict of Nursia (Founder of western monasticism, born at Nursia, c. 480; died at Monte Cassino, 543.) who founded of the Benedictine order and father of Western monasticism.

Scholastica was consecrated to God at a very early age but probablycontinued to live in her parents' home. It is said that she was as devoted to Jesus as she was to her brother. So, when Benedict established his monastery at MonteCassino, Scholastica founded a convent in nearby Plombariola, about five milessouth of Monte Cassino. The convent is said to have been under the direction of her brother, thus she is regarded as the first Benedictine nun. The siblings were quite close. The respective rules of their houses proscribed eitherentering the other's monastery. According to Saint Gregory, they met once a yearat a house near Monte Cassino monastery to confer on spiritual matters, and wereeventually buried together, probably in the same grave. Saint Gregory says, "so death did not separate the bodies of these two, whose minds had ever been united in the Lord."

Saint Andrew and Saint Peter

St Andrew and Saint Peter were natives of Bethsaida, a town in Galilee, upon the banks of the lake of Genesareth. They were the sons of Jonas, or John, a fisherman of that town. They had afterwards a house at Capharnaum, where Jesus lodged when he preached in that city. Andrew, who loved affectionately his brother Simon, called afterwards Peter, could not rest till he had imparted to him the infinite treasure which he had discovered, and brought him to Christ that he might also know him. Simon was no sooner come to Jesus than the Saviour of the world admitted him as a disciple and gave him the name of Peter, which means "the Rock" because he was to be the rock upon which God would build His Church.

Saints Cyril and Methodius

These brothers, the Apostles of the Slavs, were born in Thessalonica, in 827 and 826 respectively. Though belonging to a senatorial family they renounced secular honours and became priests. They were living in a monastery on the Bosphorous, when the Khazars sent to Constantinople for a Christian teacher. Cyril was selected and was accompanied by his brother. They learned the Khazar language and converted many of the people. Thus the brothers were the first to produce written material in the Slavic languages, and are regarded as the founders of Slavic literature. They were summoned to Rome and there Pope Adrian II commended their missionary activity, sanctioned the Slavonic Liturgy, and ordained Cyril and Methodius bishops. Cyril, however, was not to return to Moravia. He died in Rome, 4 Feb., 869. Methodius died in 6 April, 885.

[Update] Saints Cosmas and Damien (Hat tip to Carmel)

Cosmas and Damien were twin brother born in Arabia (modern day Syria) around 270 A.D. They had three younger brothers; their father died, so their mother, Theodota, was left to raise all five of them herself. Cosmas and Damien were educated in science and medicine, and became physicians that were quite skilled and enthusiastic about their work. Cosmas and Damien saw in every patient a brother or sister in Christ. For this reason, they showed great charity to all and treated their patients to the best of their ability.Every chance they had, the two saints told their patients about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Because the people all loved these twin doctors, they listened to them willingly. Cosmas and Damien often brought health back to both the bodies and the souls of those who came to them for help.

Other saints who were brothers:

Saint Jude was the brother of Saint James the Less and Saint Simeon.

Saint James the Greater was the brother of Saint John the Evangelist.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Blessed Jacinta and Francisco

Devout novena to Blessed Jacinta and Francisco, Seers of Fátima

O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I adore you deeply with all the powers of my soul and I am thankful to You with all my heart for the appearances of the Blessed Virgin of Fátima through which the treasures of the Immaculate Heart were pronounced to the world. By the infinite merits of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and through the intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, we implore, if it is for Your greater glory and the good of our souls, that Jacinta and Francisco be elevated by the Church, reaching us by their intercession, the grace that we now implore (make your personal request). Amen.

One Our Father, One Hail Mary and One Glory Be. (From Corazones)

[Update] A Catholic Life has a wonderful post on the Miracles of Fatima.



Two years younger than Francisco, Jacinta charmed all who knew her. She was pretty and energetic, and had a natural grace of movement. She loved to dance, and was sorry when their priest condemned dancing in public. Sometimes willful, she would pout when she did not get her way. She took a special delight in flowers, gathering them by the armful and making garlands for Lucia. At a First Communion, she was among the little “angels” spreading petals before the Blessed Sacrament. She had a marked love for Our Lord, and at the age of five she melted in tears on hearing the account of His Passion, vowing that she would never sin or offend Him anymore.

She had many friends, but above all she loved her cousin Lucia, and was jealous of her time and attention. When Lucia, at the age of ten, became unavailable for play, being sent by her parents to pasture their sheep, Jacinta moped in loneliness-until her mother gave in and allowed her, with Francisco, to take a few sheep to pasture with Lucia.

Her sheep too became her friends. She gave them names, held their little ones on her lap, and tried to carry a lamb home on her shoulders, as she had seen in pictures of the Good Shepherd.
Her days were playful and happy, delighting with her brother and cousin in the things of nature around her. They called the sun “Our Lady’s lamp,” and the stars “the Angels’ lanterns,” which they tried to count as it grew dark. They called out to hear their voices echo across the valley, and the name that returned most clearly was “Maria.”

They said the Rosary every day after lunch, but to make more time for play, they shortened it to the words “Our Father” at the beginning of each decade, followed by “Hail Mary” ten times. This frivolity would soon change.

In the spring of 1916, as the children watched their sheep, an Angel appeared to them in an olive grove. He asked the children to pray with him. He appeared again in midsummer at a well in Lucia’s garden, urging them to offer sacrifice to God in reparation for sinners. In a final appearance, at the end of the summer, the Angel held a bleeding Host over a chalice, from which he communicated the children. This experience separated them from their playmates and prepared them for the apparitions to come.

As might be expected, the three were changed by the visitations of the Queen of Heaven. Jacinta, talkative sometimes to a fault, became quiet and withdrawn. After the first apparition, Lucia had sworn her and her brother to secrecy. But Jacinta, bubbling over, had let slip all they had seen to her family, who then told the village. The news was received with skepticism by many, with mockery by some, and with anger by Lucia’s mother. Jacinta was so contrite, she promised never to reveal another secret.

Her reluctance to reveal anything more of their experiences was increased by the vision of hell given the children in the third apparition seems to have affected Jacinta the most. To rescue sinners from hell, she was in the forefront of the three in voluntary mortifications, whether it was in giving up their lunches (sometimes to their sheep), refusing to drink in the heat of the day, or wearing a knotted rope around their waists. Involuntary penances included for her, as for her brother and cousin, the constant mockery of unbelievers, badgering by skeptical clergy, and wheedling by believers to reveal the Lady’s secret.

Following the miracle of the sun, Jacinta complied with many requests for her intercessions. On one occasion she seems to have bilocated, in order to help a wayward youth find his way home. Lost in a stormy wood, he had knelt and prayed, and Jacinta appeared and took him by the hand, while she was at home praying for him.

When she came down with influenza, she was removed from her family to a hospital a few miles away. She did not complain, because the Blessed Mother had forewarned her that she would go to two hospitals, not to be cured, but to suffer for the love of God and reparation for sinners. She stayed in the first hospital for two months, undergoing painful treatments, and then was returned home. She developed tuberculosis and was sent to Lisbon, first to a Catholic orphanage. There she was able to attend Mass and see the Tabernacle, and she was happy. But her stay there was short. She was soon transferred to the second hospital prophesied by the Blessed Mother, where Jacinta was to make her final offering in dying alone. Her body came to rest in the Sanctuary built at the Cova da Iria, where the Lady had appeared to her.


Francisco was born 11 June 1908, the sixth of seven children of Manuel and Olimpia Marto. He was a handsome boy, with light hair and dark eyes. He loved games and other children, yet without the spirit of competition. He would not complain when treated unfairly, and gave up a treasured possession (a handkerchief stamped with the image of Our Lady) rather than contend for it.

He was a peacemaker, but courageous, as his conduct under questioning by the Mayor would later show. He also had a mischievous turn. He was known to drop strange and inedible objects in his sleeping brother’s mouth. He had a love for nature, and animals in particular. He played with lizards and snakes, and would bring them home, to his mother’s chagrin. Once he gave a penny, all the money he had, to a friend for a captured bird, only to set the bird free. He played a reed pipe, to which Lucia and his sister Jacinta would sing and dance. In short, he was a kind, gentle boy, not yet a Saint, but one predisposed by God for the graces soon bestowed on him.

Alone among the three, Francisco never heard the Lady’s words, although he saw her and felt her presence. After the first apparition, Lucia conveyed the Lady’s message to him, that he would go to heaven if he prayed many Rosaries. In the second apparition, Lucia asked to be taken to heaven, and the Lady replied that Francisco and Jacinta would be taken soon, but Lucia would have to wait for a time.

In the third apparition, the children were given a secret, including a vision of hell, which so changed them that they became more like adults than children. At this time the Mayor of the district, Artur de Oliveira Santos, a Freemason, devised a scheme to discredit the apparitions by terrorizing the children. He tried to bully them into admitting they lied, threatened to boil them in oil if they withheld the Lady’s “Secret” (Francisco showed extravagant courage in anticipation of going to heaven), and jailed them to keep them from their appointment with the Lady on the day of the fourth apparition (August 13). They kept their appointment two days later.

For the fifth apparition, tens of thousands attended, having been alerted by the press to the Mayor’s controversy with the children. Among the curious was a seminary professor from Santarem, Dr. Manuel Formigao, who questioned the children afterward and became convinced of their veracity.

When the public learned of a miracle promised for the next appointed day, many resolved to be there, and on October 13 perhaps 70 thousand people were present for the miracle of the sun. After the apparitions ended, Francisco was enrolled in school but played truant as often as possible. He preferred to spend time praying to the “Hidden Jesus” in the Tabernacle. His great concern was to console His sorrowing Lord and the Heart of His Mother. When asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, Francisco answered, "I don't want to be anything. I want to die and go to heaven."

In August 1918, when World War I was nearing an end, Francisco and Jacinta both contracted influenza. They had short reprieves, but their decline was inevitable. In April of the following year, Francisco, knowing his time was short, asked to receive the Hidden Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. The next morning, April 4th, at ten o’clock, he died with a glow on his shrunken face. He was buried the next day in a little cemetery in Fatima, across from the parish church, and later translated to the Sanctuary at Cova da Iria.

Taken from EWTN's section on Fátima

Click here for beautiful images.

Sister Lucia Reunited With Cousins

[Update] AFP
February 20, 2006

LISBON -- Tens of thousands of faithful attended rain-soaked services on Sunday in Portugal marking the transfer of the remains of the eldest of the three shepherd children who claimed to see the Virgin Mary in 1917 to the shrine of Fatima.

Sister Lucia de Jesus dos Santos, the only one of the three to survive into adulthood, died at the age of 97 on February 13 last year. Read more here.

Lucia de Jesus dos Santos was born in Aljustrel, a village in the parish of Fátima, Portugal, on March 22, 1907, and baptized a few days later on March 30. Her parents were Antonio and Maria Rosa dos Santos. She was the youngest of seven children, six girls and a boy.

At age 6 she received her First Holy Communion. By 8 she was occupied with the tending of the family's sheep, accompanied by other boys and girls of the village. It was while in the company of her cousins, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, that the first heavenly apparition occurred, that of the Angel of Portugal, come to prepare the young trio for their mission and for an even greater visitor.

Lucia was 10 years old when on May 13, 1917, while tending the sheep in the Cova de Iria, a woman, who later identified herself as the Blessed Virgin Mary, appeared to the children. The apparition would continue monthly on the 13th of the month until October 1917 (save August, when imprisonment by the anti-clerical authorities prevented it). During each month's apparition, the Virgin encouraged prayer,
especially the rosary, and sacrifice. She also communicated certain prophecies of the future (the end of World War I, the rise of error in Russia (communism) and its propagation throughout the world, the annihilation of nations, another war preceded by a heavenly sign if men did not convert, and the suffering and persecution of the good, especially the Holy Father). On Oct. 13, 1930, the bishop of Leiria-Fátima, José Alves Correia da Silva, declared the apparitions of Fátima worthy of credibility and allowed public devotion to the Virgin under the title of Our Lady of the Rosary of Fátima.After the prophesied death of Jacinta and Francisco, during the flu pandemic of 1919, Lucia alone remained to carry on the mission assigned by the "woman from heaven." At 14 she was admitted as a boarder to the school of the Sisters of St. Dorothy in Vilar, near Oporto in the north of Portugal. On Oct. 24, 1925, she entered the Institute of the Sisters of St. Dorothy as a postulant in the convent in Tuy, Spain, not far from the Portuguese border. During these years she would continue to receive private revelations explanatory of the message of Fátima. She made her first vows on Oct. 3, 1928, and her perpetual vows on Oct. 3, 1934, receiving the name Sister Mary of the Sorrowful Mother. In 1946, seeking a more contemplative life, Lucia entered the Carmelite convent of St. Teresa in Coimbra, where she made her profession as a Discalced Carmelite on May 31, 1949. She took the name Sister Maria Lucia of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart. In 1967, Sister Lucia traveled to Fatima to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the apparitions, presided over by Pope Paul VI. She went again in 1982, when Paul John Paul II came to the Shrine on 13 May to give thanks for the saving of his life during the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981, and again when the Pope came there in 1991, and finally in 2000, to beatify Jacinta and Francisco.

Over the years Sr. Lucia would write two books, Memoirs, recounting the events of Fatima in her own words, and Calls from the Message of Fatima, giving answers to the many questions about living the message of Fátima, which she has been asked over the years.In the second apparition, that of
June 13, Lucia asked the Lady, "Will you take us to heaven?" The Virgin responded, "Yes, I shall take Jacinta and Francisco soon, but you will remain a little longer, since Jesus wishes you to make me known and loved on earth. He wishes also for you to establish devotion in the world to my Immaculate Heart.

That mission came to an end on February 13, 2005, when after weeks of weakness Sr. Maria Lucia succumbed to the infirmities of old age. Her funeral Mass at the cathedral of Coimbra was presided over by the city's bishop, Most Reverend Antonio Cleto. She will lie in rest at the convent where she spent so many years, until a place is prepared for her body at the Basilica in Fátima, where Francisco and Jacinta are entombed.

Audio of homily at Sister Lucia's Funeral Mass

Photos from Associated Press and Immaculate Heart.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Intentions for Friday

Please pray for the victims of the mudslide in the Philippines. The disaster struck a village of about [updated] 2500 people.


One of our helpers, Carmel, has contributed this beautiful prayer:

Heavenly Father
We come to You for comfort as we do whenever natural disasters occur.
We know that there must be reason for them but we do not know what it is.
Teach us to accept them in the light of eternity and as the by-product of a world in the making. Help us to cooperate with You in completing the universe, unlocking it's secrets and removing its flaws while bringing about the the fulfillment of the Kingdom of Your Son on earth which is the foreshadowing of Your Kingdom in heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rosary Novena for the Pope's Intentions

This comes a little late but you can still begin a nine-day Rosary novena for the intentions of the Holy Father. The novena ends on the feast of the Chair of Peter, next Tuesday, February 22.

Hat tip to
GKC's Favourite by way of Curt Jester.

If you pray the Rosary on a daily basis, it is good to include at the conclusion, one Our Father, one Hail Mary and One Glory Be for the intentions of the Holy Father.

It's New, It's Safe, It's Catholic

Catholic Exchange is now offering services as an Internet Service Provider. Read more here.

Perhaps it's time to get a new service that will keep the family safe from the "dark side" of the internet. Check out their services.

Benedict Explains The Magnificat


At the beginning of the general audience Benedict XVI recalled that today's catechesis was the last "of the long cycle begun years ago by my beloved predecessor, the unforgettable John Paul II," who wished to cover "the entire sequence of Psalms and Canticles that constitute the basic fabric of the Liturgy of the Hours and of Vespers.

"Having reached the end of this textual pilgrimage - like a journey through a flower garden of praise, invocation, prayer and contemplation - we now come to the canticle that closes the celebration of Vespers: the Magnificat."

The Pope went on: "It is a canticle that reveals ... the spirituality ... of those faithful who recognized themselves as 'poor,' not only in detaching themselves from all forms of idolatry of wealth and power, but also in profound humility of heart, free from the temptation to pride and open to the irruption of divine saving grace."

If the first part of the Magnificat, the Holy Father explained, is "the celebration of divine grace which irrupted into the heart and the life of Mary, making her Mother of the Lord," Mary's personal witness was nonetheless "not solitary, ... because the Virgin Mother was aware she had a mission to achieve for humanity, and her own story is part of the history of salvation."

In the second part, "the voice of Mary is joined by the entire community of faithful" who celebrate God's actions in history. "The 'style' that inspires the Lord of history is clear: He takes the side of the least and the lowliest." On this subject, the Pope quoted the words of St. Ambrose: "May each one of us glorify the Lord with the soul of Mary. ... If, according to the flesh, the mother of Christ is one, then according to the faith, all souls generate Christ." Read the rest here.

The Magnficat
My soul magnifies the Lord,And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation.He has shown strength with His arm: He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.He has put down the mighty from their thrones,and exalted those of low degree.He has filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He has sent empty away. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy; As He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to His posterity forever.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Magnificat anima mea Dominum;Et exultavit spiritus meus in Deo salutari meo,Quia respexit humilitatem ancillae suae; ecce enim ex hoc beatam me dicent omnes generationes.Quia fecit mihi magna qui potens est, et sanctum nomen ejus,Et misericordia ejus a progenie in progenies timentibus eum. Fecit potentiam brachio suo; Dispersit superbos mente cordis sui.Deposuit potentes de sede, et exaltavit humiles.Esurientes implevit bonis, et divites dimisit inanes. Sucepit Israel, puerum suum, recordatus misericordiae suae,Sicut locutus est ad patres nostros, Abraham et semeni ejus in saecula.
Gloria Patri, et Filio, et Spiritui Sancto.Sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum. Amen.

(Women for Faith and Family)

Our Sweet Heart on Valentine's Day

Let us pray. Sweet Heart of Jesus, be my Love!

Today is Valentine's Day, a day which is attributed to the heroism of St. Valentine, who was beheaded for defending the Sacrament of Marriage. A Catholic Life has posted a brief history of his life and some related links. [update: St. Valentine was real! One of our helpers, Patte urges us to greet with "Happy Saint Valentine's Day!"]

Today, we also remember the Love of God in the Sacred Heart of Jesus. A Heart that was pierced for love of mankind. He is our Divine Lover. And so it is fitting that today we go to His Heart by resting and abiding in It. The saints did.

St. Lutgarde (d.1246) the Cistercian mystic of Aywieres, Belgium had visions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When once asked by Our Lord what gift she wanted, she replied: "I want Your Heart." To which Jesus responded: "I want your heart." Then Our Blessed Lord granted the Saint a very special grace. He mystically exchanged hearts with her. St. Lutgarde is the first known mystic to receive this grace.

St. Bonaventure (d.1274), the Franciscan and a great theologian, wrote: "Since we have reached the most sweet Heart of Jesus, and it is good for us to abide in It, let us not readily turn away from It. How good, how sweet it is to dwell in Thy Heart, O good Jesus! Who is there who would not desire this pearl? I would rather give all else, all my thoughts and all the affections of my soul in exchange for It, casting my whole mind into the Heart of my good Jesus." St. Bonaventure also wrote: "Who is there who would not love this wounded Heart? Who would not love, in return, Him Who loves so much?"

The great Dominican mystic, St. Catherine of Siena (d.1380), one day said to Our Lord: "Sweet, Spotless Lamb, You were dead when Your Side was opened. Why, then, did You allow that Your Heart should be thus wounded and opened by force?" Our Lord answered: "For several reasons, of which I will tell you the principal. My desires regarding the human race were infinite and the actual time of suffering and torture was at an end. Since my love is infinite, I could not therefore by this suffering manifest to you how much I loved you. That is why I willed to reveal to you the secret of my Heart by letting you see It open, that you might well understand that It loved you far more than I could prove to you by a suffering that was over."

Monks of Adoration)


Things to do:

1). The official publication of "Deus Caritas Est" is due out on Valentine's day. Get your copy now!. Yes, it's all about Love.

2). Make an offering to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary for your loved one or for someone who is struggling in a relationship.

3). Get a copy of the book Theology of the Body for Beginners by Christopher West.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

World Day of the Sick

Today is World Day of the Sick. A month ago, my family and I had made plans to visit a priest friend living in a senior care home. Not realizing it then that the day of our visit would be on February 11, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. Not realizing it then that the day would also be the World Day of the Sick and a plenary indulgence would be granted to those who in some way assisted the sick or infirmed. Thanks be to God that He gave us an opportunity to make this visit on this very blessed day.

The Nazareth House is a senior home run by the Sisters of Nazareth. They are praying for an increase in vocations to their community. For those who may have a calling to the religious life, check them out.

On another note, I encourage a visit to the elderly, especially our retired priests and religious who have served in our parishes. Often, they are lonely and infirmed, feeling the burden of old age. If a visit is not possible, please keep them in your prayers.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Pray for us!

On Thursday, February 11, 1858, a poor, sickly, unlettered peasant girl of Lourdes, France went with her sister and another girl to fetch sticks. Bernadette Soubirous, age 14, who knew little of her catechism but was devoted to the will of God, experienced her first apparition of a lovely Lady at the Grotto of Massabielle. Upon seeing the Lady, who had a rosary draped over her right arm, Bernadette began praying the Rosary. Bernadette did not know who the Lady was at this time. This is Bernadette’s description of the Lady at that first apparition:

While I was saying the Rosary, I was watching as hard as I could. She was wearing a white dress reaching down to her feet, of which only the toes appeared. The dress was gathered very high at the neck by a hem from which hung a white cord. A white veil covered her head and came down over her shoulders and arms almost to the bottom of her dress. On each foot I saw a yellow rose. The sash of the dress was blue, and hung down below her knees. The chain of the rosary was yellow; the beads white, big and widely spaced.

Thereafter commenced a series of apparitions of the Lady to Bernadette at the Grotto. Word soon spread about the apparitions and more and more people accompanied Bernadette to the Grotto, but only Bernadette could see the Lady. At these apparitions the Lady told Bernadette to “Pray to God for sinners!” Bernadette, as instructed by the Lady, also kissed the ground several times to do penance for sinners. At one of the apparitions Bernadette, following instructions of the Lady, scratched at the muddy earth and began to drink and wash from an unknown stream. Only later was the stream discovered to have miraculous healing powers.

The village Curé had asked Bernadette to inquire of the Lady who she was. On March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, also known as Lady Day, the Lady told Bernadette her name. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Only a few years ago the Holy Father, Pius IX, had declared ex cathedra as dogma of the Faith that the Blessed Virgin Mary had been conceived without the stain of original sin. This declaration of the Blessed Mother to Bernadette has deeply and profoundly moved many souls over the years, including St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was especially affected by the fact that Our Lady did not say that she was immaculately conceived but declared: “ I AM THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION.” This is her name and suggests the profound mystery of the work of the Holy Spirit in the Virgin Mary’s soul.

Miracles still flow from the miraculous waters of Lourdes — but many more of the miracles occur during the blessing of the sick with the Most Holy Eucharist in the monstrance. This phenomenon underscores a profound truth of the spiritual life: Mary leads her children to her Divine Son, especially to His Eucharistic Heart.

The message of Our Lady of Lourdes is about the healing Mercy of God. But Lourdes is also about the need for prayer and penance. St. Bernadette testified to this call of Our Lady of Lourdes by living the rest of her life in humble prayer and suffering in a convent in France.

Millions of pilgrims venture every year to Lourdes. Some are miraculously healed. But many more are not healed of their affliction but receive the great and precious grace of lovingly embracing and carrying the cross Our Lord has given them. Our Lady of Lourdes, ora pro nobis.
(By John O'Connell)

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


Be blessed, O most pure Virgin, for having vouchsafed to manifest your shining with life, sweetness and beauty, in the Grotto of Lourdes, saying to the child, St. Bernadette: "I am the Immaculate Conception." A thousand times we congratulate you upon your Immaculate Conception. And now, O ever Immaculate Virgin, Mother of mercy, Health of the sick, Refuge of sinners, Comforter of the afflicted, you know our wants, our troubles, our sufferings deign to cast upon us a look of mercy.

By appearing in the Grotto of Lourdes, you were pleased to make it a privileged sanctuary, whence you dispense your favors, and already many have obtained the cure of their infirmities, both spiritual and physical. We come, therefore, with the most unbounded confidence to implore your maternal intercession. Obtain for us, O loving Mother, the granting of our request. request Through gratitude for your favors, we will endeavor to imitate your virtues, that we may one day share your glory.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your divine son while upon earth. You have the same influence now in Heaven. Pray for us; obtain for us from your Divine Son our special requests if it be the Divine Will. Amen.

Our Lady of Lourdes, Health of the Sick and Refuge of sinners, pray for us!

Saint Bernadette, pray for us.
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Apostolic Blessing by Pope Benedict XVI

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