Monday, July 31, 2006

In Need of Atonement?


I do!

I was overjoyed to hear from Moneybags of a plenary indulgence available on August 2nd for the feast of Portiuncula.

The Portiuncula is the little chapel where Jesus, Mary and a host of angels appeared to St. Francis of Assisi to grant him his request that all sinners visiting this little Church and confessing their sins with a contrite heart will receive full pardon. I was blessed to have visited the Church back in 1997 but was not aware then of this indulgence. So I am happy to hear of it now.

Please read here for the necessary conditions to gain the indulgence.

I tell you, don't miss out on this!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Don Georg Turns 50


The Pope's private secretary, Msgr. Georg Ganswein celebrates his 50th birthday today. May God bless him in his work of supporting the Holy Father in the Petrine Ministry.

Here is an interview with him taken from The Papa Ratzi forum.

He who stands behind the Pope

Mons. Gaenswein, you live and work side by side with the Pope. What can you tell us of your daily routine? Which decisions does he leave up to you, and which ones must in any case need to be further considered?

The Pope's daily routine is, in general, known, but of course, there are elements that are not publicized. In brief: Holy Mass together at 7 a.m.; breviary prayers; meditation; a pause before the Lord. Breakfast together. Then my work day begins by preparing the correspondence, looking through the official mail which is voluminous daily. Then I discuss things with the Holy Father, after which as a rule, I accompany him at noon to the audiences held in the Second Loggia of the Apostolic Palace. Afterwards, we have lunch together, then a brief walk, and then we have a midday pause. Second halftime, afternoons: I go through newly arrived mail so I can bring the most important things to the Holy Father - for signature, for study, for approval. Of course, there's a whole range of things that come to the Holy Father that he will not necessarily all see. There are things which are of second, third, fourth priority. One must shield him from a monstrous mass of mail, documents, etc. so that he can do what he really needs to do with necessary calm.

As the Pope's private secretary, you hold the most confidential position possible in the Catholic Church. What does your key position mean for you?

First, it is, of course, for me a sign of the Holy Father's trust in me, and so I try in everything that I do, say or do not say, to be worthy of this trust. And I try to do everything asked of me in such a way that I can answer my conscience clearly. After a year and three months, also, our togetherness has grown.

What influence did your parental upbringing have on your career?

My roots are with my parents, and my earliest upbringing, my first experiences of the faith, the daily example - not so much of words, but rather the simple day-to-day example of living that they set, was for me a great help, which I still have before my eyes even today, and for which I am very very thankful.

Which memories of your youth became particularly important in your later life and may have possibly shaped you?

I grew up in a little village in the southern Black Forest - it's like any other small village. We were a very lively family. I had many comrades, friends. Of course, we played sports - football was my favorite; I was also in a choir and I played the clarinet. We did many things together...So I have lots of memories of a sometimes rascally childhood which always bring me much joy.

Which character traits have been decisive for your career so far?

I'll start with the negative: I am someone who, unfortunately, does not have much patience. I need to make an effort to be patient, to force myself to be patient. But what I would consider positive are my determination, dependability, sincerity and directness. These are traits which go together, woven together like a fabric, that have given my life its inner direction.

You have been working with one of the greatest theologians in the world and have known him for 11 years. What is the difference between the Prefect for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Pope?

Even in hindsight, I don't see a difference in the personality of the Cardinal Prefect and Benedict XVI. Obviously, the position can affect a person in many ways, but his personality, his kindness, his charisma [he uses the word Ausstrahlung, whose primary meaning is 'radiance'] is just as it was before.

Don't you sometimes feel something like stage fright when you are standing before the Holy Father?

Obviously, I do, on occasion. But it is also true that our daily meetings, our daily working together, has made possible a familiaritas. But there are always situations in which I find my heart pounding more strongly!

When you look back at the first year of Benedict XVI's Pontificate, what stands out?

Certainly, the fact that the Holy Father in his words and in his actions, in his whole being, wishes to demonstrate that faith brings joy to life and for life, that joy is its most important sign, and so this runs like a thread through everything that he does, that he says, everything that one perceives in him, that one draws from him; and he wants this joy in faith to be infectious!

Were you surprised by the theme of love that he chose for his first encyclical?

Not particularly. That first encyclical has found a very very great resonance everywhere. Whoever knew Pope Benedict as a theologian, I think, was not really surprised that he chose this theme and expressed and treated it the way he did in the encyclical.

Mons. Gaenswein, I am sure you are aware that in the eyes of the public you are "beautiful Georg." How do you react to this?

Actually, the Italian press started to write about me in this flattering manner. At the beginning, I was surprised, and even a bit irritated. I couldn't decide - should I just ignore it? Should I take note? Should I react? So I simply ignored it, and over time, I have become used to it. Meanwhile, I think, they are now looking not only at the shell but also a little at what's really inside.

They say that when you were a student, the girls were all drawn to you. Was it also the other way around?

Oh yes, I had healthy senses, and if you have healthy senses, you use them. I never had any problems with the so-called weaker sex, and always had, even to this day, a very relaxed and very natural relationship with women. Of course, in my youth, there were some girls that I preferred to see.

As pious as he is well-educated - that's one of the things that has been said about you. Is that why the Pope chose you to work with him?

Piety and education, piety and theology - these things go together, that's a fact that has a great tradition. I'm glad if I am characterized as pious and educated. I would hope that both the piety and the education remain, that they last, and that they may be nourished well.

Fairness, intelligence, bravery, moderation - which of these cardinal virtues would you say best described your character?

It is always difficult to choose one from the four virtues you name, but if you must make me choose now, then I would say moderation.

With your narrowly restricted freedom now, what is it that you would not give up?

What I missed doing for over a year, to exercise myself, to do some sport, but that I have now resumed. Even if to a lesser degree than before. That I would most like to maintain. Once in a while, I go to the mountains. That I would not like to give up.

Closest collaborator of the Pope; the man who accompanies him every hour, every day, on trips; top manager at the Vatican; but also, and not the least, a priest. What do you think is a priest's most important task today?

Today, yesterday, tomorrow - the main thing is that he does what he is obliged by his ordination. Being a priest means to celebrate the Eurcharist, to administer the Sacraments, and to live as a priest should. In hindsight, there are many ways of realizing one's priestly vocation, and one of them is what I am doing, which I try with my whole heart and with all my strength to do. You live in the center of the Church.

How often do you ask yourself, what would Jesus say?

In my daily examination of conscience, I also try at night to go through all the things that I have encountered during the day. Sometimes, even for the simplest decisions, I ask myself: Did I do right? Would that have been the right thing in the eyes of the Lord? Or should I correct myself here? Of course, all this eventually gets straightened out during regular Confession.

Photo from here.

New Film on John Paul II


A new film on Pope John Paul II called Credo: John Paul II is now available on DVD. The soundtrack is sacred music sung by Andrea Bocelli.

The filmmaker is John Paul II's friend and Vatican journalist Alberto Michelini. Read Tim Drake's interview with him as he recalls his intimate lunches and conversations with the late Pontiff and about making the film.

Hat tip to Cloud of Witnesses.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Time for a Meme


I've been tagged by Irish, Dangerous and Catholic with the One Book Meme:

1. One book that changed your life:
The Story of A Soul by St. Therese of Lisieux

2. One book that you’ve read more than once:
Milestones by Joseph Ratzinger

3. One book you’d want on a desert island:
The Bible

4. One book that made you laugh:
Calvin and Hobbes book

5. One book that made you cry:
The Bible (especially the Passion of Jesus)

6. One book that you wish had been written:
Catholic Social Ethics by John Paul II

7. One book that you wish had never been written:
The Communist Manifesto

8. One book you’re currently reading:

Just started The Spirit of the Liturgy by Joseph Ratzinger

9. One book you’ve been meaning to read:
Dialogue by St. Catherine of Sienna

I hereby tag:

Newfound blogger
John Paul

Tea-time blogger
Dymphna's Well and

Loveteam blogger Jonathan and Carmel

Friday, July 28, 2006

Papa off to Castel Gandolfo


Arrivederci, Valle D'Aosta. Mi sono divertito!
Ciao Castel Gandolfo!
Cari fratelli e sorelle. Sono felice di essere indietro!

"I'm learning to be Pope"
By Salvatore Mazza

Second year at Introd. First year as Pope. The question was obligatory: How do you feel just a little over a year since your election as Pope?

"I am starting to learn my job." Then he joins the newsmen in laughing at his own riposte.

It was a relaxed, rested and revitalized Benedict XVI who yestwerday afternoon, after 18 days of vacation, took leave of Les Combes, the locality in Introd where he returned this year
for his summer vacation, and where- everyone here hopes - he will return again next year.

Read the rest here

Special People In Jesus' Life


Well, this week was a celebration of saints who were very special to our Lord.

On Wednesday, we celebrated St. James the Greater. He was the brother of St. John and the son of Zebedee the fisherman. He was called the greater because there was another younger apostle named James. Together with Peter and John, he was one of the Sons of Thunder, a special name that Jesus gave to these three apostles. He died a martyr when King Herod Agrippa I killed him with a sword during the early persecution of the Church.
Read more here.

On Thursday, we celebrated the grandparents of Jesus, Sts. Joachim and Ann. It was in the home of Joachim and Ann where the Virgin Mary received her training to be the Mother of God. Thus, devotion to Ann and Joachim is an extension of the affection Christians have always professed toward our Blessed Mother. We, too, owe a debt of gratitude to our parents for their help in our Christian formation.
Read more here.

Then on Saturday, we celebrate the feast of St. Martha. However, according to this post from Fr. Stephanos OSB, this day is for the three siblings, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. He has posted a wonderful homily on the memorial of St. Martha.

"Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus." This unique statement in John's gospel tells us of the special relationship Jesus had with Martha, her sister, and her brother. Apparently Jesus was a frequent guest at Martha's home in Bethany, a small village two miles from Jerusalem. Read more here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How I Spent My Summer Vacation


...chapter two

See first chapter here.

Kissed a lot of babies. This little one was waiting for a kiss from me. How could I refuse.
Spent some time with the family after the Angelus. Here the children wear Divine Mercy color. They wanted their Papa to pose in the middle. How could I refuse.
Seeing all this beauty, the peace the Lord gives me, I am all the more struck by the suffering of others.
The Ivrea soccer team surprised me with my own soccer jersey. I'm hoping it will fit over my cassock.

From Papacy and the Vatican

Pope's Intentions For July 2006


Sorry this comes late.

General Intention: "That all those who are in prison, and especially young people, may receive the necessary support from society to help them rediscover a sense to their own existence."

Mission Intention: "That, in the mission territories, different ethnic and religious groups may live in peace and together build a society inspired by human and spiritual values."

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Pope's Meditation On Middle East Crisis


The Holy Father went to a nearby village of Rhemes-St. George to deliver an extemporaneous meditation at the local church.


Courtesy of Habemus Papam. They have great videos of the Pope.


Here's the entirety of his meditation, courtesy of Papa Ratzi forum:

First, the reading from St. Paul (Ephesians 2,13-18): "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, he who made both one and broke down the dividing wall of enmity, through his flesh, abolishing the law with its commandments and legal claims, that he might create in himself one new person in place of the two, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile both with God, in one body, through the cross, putting that enmity to death by it. He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near, for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father."

Just a brief word of meditation on this reading. What strikes us, with the background of the dramatic situation in the Near East, is the beauty of this vision: Christ is our peace. He has reconciled one with the other, Jews and pagans. By uniting together in His body, they have overcome enmities.

In His body on the Cross, with His death, He has overcome all enmity and he has united us all in His peace. The beauty of this vision strikes us even more forcefully in contrast with the reality that we are experiencing and witnessing. We cannot do other than ask the Lord at first: Lord, what does Your Apostle tell us? He says: they are reconciled. But we see that in truth, they are not reconciled. There is still is war among Christians, Muslims, Jews. And there are others who foment the war, and everyone is still full of enmities and violence. Lord, what remains of the effects of Your sacrifice? Where in history is this peace of which Your apostle speaks to us?

We humans cannot resolve the mystery of history - the mystery of human freedom saying no to the peace of God. We cannot resolve all the mystery of the relation between God and man, of His actions and our responses. We must accept the mystery, but nevertheless, there are elements of response that the Lord gives us. The first element is that the reconciliation effected by the Lord, through His sacrifice, has not been without effect.

There is the great reality of communion in the universal Church, of all peoples, the network of eucharistic communion which transcends the frontiers of cultures and civilizations, of peoples and of time. There is this communion, and there are islands of peace, in the Body of Christ (the Church). There are forces for peace in the world. We see it in history. We can see great saints of charity who created oases of God's peace on earth, who succeeded in rekindling their light with renewed capacity to reconcile peoples and to create peace.

There are the martyrs who have suffered with Christ, who have given their testimony of peace and of love which sets a limit to violence. And seeing that there is that kind of reality, even if the other reality remains, we can look more deeply into the letter that St. Paul wrote the Ephesians. Christ triumphed on the Cross - He did not win by setting up a new empire, with a force so strong that He could destroy others. He triumphed through a love unto death. This is God's way of winning. To violence He does not oppose a greater violence. To violence, he opposes the very contrary: love to the end, to His cross. This is God's humble way of winning. With His love, and only thus, is it possible to place a limit on violence.

This method of winning appears to us too slow, but it is the true way to defeat evil, to defeat violence, and we should trust in the divine way of winning. To trust means to enter actively into this divine love, to participate in it in order that we may become what the Lord says, "Blessed are the peacemakers because they are the children of God." We should bring our love in every way we can to all those who suffer, knowing that the Judge at the Final Judgment identifies with the suffering.

Therefore, whatever we do for the suffering, we do for the ultimate Judge of our life. This is important even at this moment: we can bring His victory to the world by participating actively in His charity. Today in the world, many men of culture, many religious persons, many are tempted to say: It is better for the peace of the world among religions and cultures not to speak too much of the specifics of Christianity, that is, not speak too much of Christ, of the Church, of the sacraments. It is better, they say, to limit ourselves to the things that can be common to everyone. But that is not true.

Precisely at this time, which is also a time of great abuse of the name of God, we need the God who wins on the Cross, who wins not through violence but through His love. Precisely at this time, we need the face of Christ so we may recognize the true face of God and thus bring reconciliation and light to the world. That is why, together with the message of love, with all that we can possibly do for those who suffer in our world, we should also bear witness on behalf of this God, for the victory of God in non-violence on His Cross.

St. Sharbel Pray For Us


As we celebrate today's saint, let us ask him to intercede for the Middle East for peace between Lebanon and Israel. Hat tip to Nunblog.

(1828-1898) Saint Sharbel was a Lebanese monk, born in a small mountain village and ordained in 1858. Devoted to the Blessed Virgin Mary, he spent the last twenty-three years of his life as a hermit. Despite temptations to wealth and comfort, Sharbel taught the value of poverty, self-sacrifice, and prayer by the way he lived. (WFF)

All the Pope's Men


When Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger wrote Dominus Iesu in 2000, it sparked criticism by those inside and outside the Church. It created such an uproar that Pope John Paul II had to defend it during his Angelus address. Now that he is Pope, Benedict XVI is slowly living out in his papacy, what he proclaimed on the housetops - that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior!

Fr. Raymond J. de Souza writes about it here.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Holy Father's Angelus Message For Peace


Dear brothers and sisters,

As announced last Thursday, in view of the aggravating situation in the Middle East, I have called for today a special day of prayer and penitence, inviting ministers, the faithful and all believers to implore God for the gift of peace.

I renew with force my appeal to all parties to the conflict to declare a ceasefire, allow humanitarian aid to be done, and with the support of the international community, to seek ways to start negotiations. Read the entire message here.

Hat tip to Open Book and Papa Ratzi forum.

Let Us Go To Mary Queen of Peace

This post will be on top all day Sunday.


(1) MARY, you are the Queen of Peace because you brought Jesus, the King of Peace, into the world. At His birth angels sang in the heavens, "Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth among men of good will" (Luke 2,14). You gave us the Savior of the world and the Prince of Peace, as the prophet had foretold; "A Child is born to us ... and His Name shall be called the Prince of Peace" (Isaias 9,6).

By His death Jesus atoned for our sins and restored us to the peace of the friendship of God. He is truly a Peace-maker. Above all, at prayer and Holy Communion He leaves with us the peace of which He spoke at the Last Supper, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you" (John 14,27).

(2) MARY, only after I have become like you, a lowly child, shall I have true peace in my soul and enter the kingdom of peace, for Jesus said, "Unless you turn and become like little children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18,4). I cannot enjoy the peace of your Son unless I conquer my pride and remain humble. I rely too much upon myself. I freely boast of the little good that is in me as if it were mine by personal merit, whereas, whatever good is in me really comes from God. My pride leads me into many sins and daily faults—sensitiveness, jealousy, rash judgment, uncharitableness and anger. And yet your Son says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God" (Malt. 5,9). Humble Handmaid of the Lord, be my model and teacher of humility, that I may find true peace.

Queen of Peace, through you peace came into the world. Through you may peace come into my soul by bringing Jesus to me, especially by Holy Mass, Holy Communion, and prayer. May the power of His grace conquer my pride, and may His presence enable me to enjoy His peace and to spread it among others.

(3) MARY, you appeared as the Queen of Peace at Fatima There you assured us that if we would do penance and amend our lives, say the Rosary,* honor and consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart, and receive Holy Communion in reparation to you on five First Saturdays, that you would protect us from the just punishments of God and that you would bring peace to the world. How earnest are your words! "If what I tell you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace... If my requests are granted, Russia will be converted and. there will be peace... In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph and an era of peace will be conceded to humanity."

Queen of Peace, you are the only hope for true peace in the world today. May there be a sufficient number of people to fulfill your requests so that disaster may be averted, the mental and spiritual ills of mankind cured, and a lasting peace secured. Pray for us and give to the world the peace for which all peoples are longing, peace in the truth, justice, and charity of Christ. Give peace to the warring nations and to the souls of men, so that in the peace of order the kingdom of God may be victorious.

Extend your protection to the infidels and to all those still in the shadow of death; give them peace and grant that on them, too, may shine the sun of truth so that they may unite with us in proclaiming before the one and only Savior of the world: "Glory to God in the highest and peace among men of good will."

Behold with kindly eyes and crown with success the fatherly care with which the Sovereign Pontiff. the Vicar on earth of your Divine Son, continually seeks to call together and unite the nations in peace. Grant that in childlike submission to our common Father, we may carry out wholeheartedly his salutary directions. Enlighten the rulers of our country as to those same directions. Promote and maintain peace and concord in our families, peace in our hearts, and Christian charity throughout all the world.
Queen of Peace, obtain peace and complete freedom for the Holy Church of God. Stay the spreading flood of modern paganism; enkindle in the faithful the love of purity, the practice of the Christian life, and an apostolic zeal, so that the servants of God may increase in merit and number.

We consecrate ourselves to your Immaculate Heart that your love and patronage may hasten the triumph of the kingdom of God, and that all nations, at peace with one another and with God, may proclaim you blessed, and with you may raise their voice to resound in the chant of the everlasting "Magnificat" of praise, love, and gratitude to the Heart of Jesus, where alone they can find truth and peace.

May the kind intercession of Your Immaculate Mother and Ever-Virgin Mary aid us, O Lord, that having been continually blessed with her favors, we may be freed from all dangers and enjoy peace through her kind prayers. Who live and reign forever. Amen. (Feast of Mary, Mediatrix of All Graces, May 31)


The Pope Asks Us to Pray and Fast

This post will be on top all day Sunday.


The Pope has announced Sunday, July 23 to be a day of prayer and penance. He has asked all people of the world to pray and fast for the peace in the Holy Land. Tomorrow, our parish will be saying the rosary after the 8:30 am Mass.

Prayer for Peace by Pope John Paul II

O God, Creator of the universe, who extends your paternal concern over every creature and guides the events of history to the goal of salvation, we acknowledge your fatherly love when you break the resistance of mankind and, in a world torn by strife and discord, you make us ready for reconciliation. Renew for us the wonders of your mercy; send forth your Spirit that he may work in the intimacy of hearts, that enemies may begin to dialogue, that adversaries may shake hands and peoples may encounter one another in harmony. May all commit themselves to the sincere search for true peace which will extinguish all arguments, for charity which overcomes hatred, for pardon which disarms revenge.

More prayers for peace

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Mary Magdalen: Apostle of the Apostles

She is called "the Penitent". St. Mary was given the name 'Magdalen' because, though a Jewish girl, she lived in a Gentile town called Magdale, in northern Galilee, and her culture and manners were those of a Gentile. St. Luke records that she was a notorious sinner, and had seven devils removed from her. She was present at Our Lords' Crucifixion, and with Joanna and Mary, the mother of James and Salome, at Jesus' empty tomb. Fourteen years after Our Lord's death, St. Mary was put in a boat by the Jews without sails or oars - along with Sts. Lazarus and Martha, St. Maximin (who baptized her), St. Sidonius ("the man born blind"), her maid Sera, and the body of St. Anne, the mother of the Blessed Virgin. They were sent drifting out to sea and landed on the shores of Southern France, where St. Mary spent the rest of her life as a contemplative in a cave known as Sainte-Baume. She was given the Holy Eucharist daily by angels as her only food, and died when she was 72. St. Mary was transported miraculously, just before she died, to the chapel of St. Maximin, where she received the last sacraments.

More about this saint: St. Mary Magdalen (Feast day - July 22) Mary Magdalen was well known as a sinner when she first saw Our Lord. She was very beautiful and very proud, but after she met Jesus, she felt great sorrow for her evil life. When Jesus went to supper at the home of a rich man named Simon, Mary came to weep at His feet. Then with her long beautiful hair, she wiped His feet dry and anointed them with expensive perfume. Some people were surprised that Jesus let such a sinner touch Him, but Our Lord could see into Mary's heart, and He said: "Many sins are forgiven her, because she has loved very much." Then to Mary He said kindly, "Your faith has made you safe; go in peace." From then on, with the other holy women, Mary humbly served Jesus and His Apostles. When Our Lord was crucified, she was there at the foot of His cross, unafraid for herself, and thinking only of His sufferings. No wonder Jesus said of her: "She has loved much." After Jesus' body had been placed in the tomb, Mary went to anoint it with spices early Easter Sunday morning. Not finding the Sacred Body, she began to weep, and seeing someone whom she thought was the gardener, she asked him if he knew where the Body of her beloved Master had been taken. But then the person spoke in a voice she knew so well: "Mary!" It was Jesus, risen from the dead! He had chosen to show Himself first to Mary Magdalen, the repentent sinner.
(Catholic Online)

Patroness of the Dominican Order

In the whole Christian tradition, the figure of Mary Magdalene is associated with that extraordinary mission entrusted to her on the morning of the Resurrection. This is why everything one says about Mary Magdalene needs to be prefaced by the very same terms used in the Gospel to recall her commissioning. "Jesus said to her, 'Do not touch me; for I have not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father; and to my God and your God'. Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord and that he had spoken these things unto her" (Jn 20:17-18).Mary Magdalene appears in all of the Gospel accounts of the events surrounding the Ressurection. Because Mary reported the good news of the Ressurection to the disciples, she became known among some early Christian writers as apostola apostolorum - the Apostle of the Apostles. According to Mark's and Luke's Gospels, the two women, in going to anoint Christ's body, became witnesses of his Ressurection. (Read more here.)

Painting: 17th Century by Guido Reni, Roma

Recommended Reading:Mary Magdalen in the Visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich by Tan Books

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What I did on my Summer Vacation


Played some Mozart.
Worked on my next book about Jesus.

Picked some strawberries.

Made a surprise visit to a Swiss kennel and got to pet some St. Bernards.

Broke in my new brown suede hiking shoes.

Prayed my Rosary during a mountain hike on the Swiss Alps with Don Georg.

...stay tuned for the next chapter.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Pope Benedict and his Piano


As you can see, the Pope does relax during his vacation by playing the piano. Hat tip to Dilexitprior.

Pray for Peace on Our Lady's Feast Day


"I Invite Special Prayers for Peace in the Holy Land"

INTROD, Italy, JULY 16, 2006 ( Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address today, before praying the Angelus with the faithful gathered in Les Combes, Introd, in the Aosta Valley of the Italian Alps, where he is taking a few days of rest.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Also this year I am happy to spend some time of rest here, in the Aosta Valley, in the house that many times welcomed our beloved John Paul II. I have immersed myself immediately in this wonderful Alpine scenery which helps to reinvigorate body and spirit, and today I am happy to live this family meeting -- my cordial greetings to each one of you, residents and holidaymakers. I wish first of all to greet and thank the pastor of the Church that lives in this valley, the bishop of Aosta, Bishop Giuseppe Anfossi, as well as the priests, men and women religious, and the laity of the diocesan community.

I assure each one of my remembrance in prayer, especially for the sick and those suffering. My grateful thoughts go, moreover, to the Salesians, who have placed their house at the Pope's disposition. I address my deferential greetings to the authorities of the state and region, to the municipal administrator of Introd, to the forces of order and to all who in different ways collaborate toward my peaceful stay. May the Lord recompense you!

By a happy coincidence, this Sunday is July 16, day in which the liturgy remembers the Most Holy Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel. Carmel, high promontory that rises on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, at the altitude of Galilee, has in its folds numerous natural grottoes, favorites of hermits.

The most famous of these men of God was the great prophet Elias, who in the 9th century before Christ, courageously defended the purity of the faith in the one true God from contamination by idolatrous cults. Inspired in the figure of Elias, the contemplative order of Carmelites arose, a religious family that counts among its members great saints such as Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, Therese of the Child Jesus and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (in the world, Edith Stein).

The Carmelites have spread in the Christian people devotion to the Most Holy Virgin of Mount Carmel, pointing to her as a model of prayer, contemplation and dedication to God. Mary, in fact, before and in an unsurpassable way, believed and felt that Jesus, the incarnate Word, is the culmination, the summit of man's encounter with God. Fully accepting the Word, "she happily reached the holy mountain" (Prayer of the Collect of the Memorial), and lives forever, in soul and body, with the Lord.

To the Queen of Mount Carmel I wish to commend today all the communities of contemplative life spread throughout the world, especially those of the Carmelite Order, among which I remember the convent of Quart, not far from here. May Mary help every Christian to meet God in the silence of prayer.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said the following words:]

In recent days the news from the Holy Land is a reason for new and grave concern for all, in particular because of the spread of warlike actions also in Lebanon, and because of the numerous victims among the civilian population.

At the origin of these cruel oppositions there are, sadly, objective situations of violation of law and justice. But neither terrorist acts nor reprisals, especially when they entail tragic consequences for the civilian population, can be justified. By such paths, as bitter experiences shows, positive results are not achieved.

This day is dedicated to the Virgin of Carmel, Mount of the Holy Land that, a few kilometers from Lebanon, dominates the Israeli city of Haifa, the latter also recently hit. Let us pray to Mary, Queen of Peace, to implore from God the fundamental gift of concord, bringing political leaders back to the path of reason, and opening new possibilities of dialogue and agreement. In this perspective I invite the local Churches to raise special prayers for peace in the Holy Land and in the whole of the Middle East.

Papa Ratzi Forum

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Our Lady of Mount Carmel


A magnificent assurance of salvation is Our Lady’s Brown Scapular. One of the great mysteries of our time is that the great majority of Catholics either ignore or have forgotten the Blessed Virgin Mary’s promise that "whoever dies wearing this (Scapular) shall not suffer eternal fire." She further says: "Wear it devoutly and perseveringly. It is my garment. To be clothed in it means you are continually thinking of me, and I in turn, am always thinking of you and helping you to secure eternal life."

Many Catholics may not know that it is the wish of our Holy Father, the Pope, that the Scapular Medal should not be worn in place of the Cloth Scapular without sufficient reason. Mary cannot be pleased with any one who substitutes the medal out of vanity, or fear to make open profession of religion. Such persons run the risk of not receiving the Promise. The medal has never been noted for any of the miraculous preservations attributed to the Brown Cloth Scapular.

During the Scapular Anniversary celebration in Rome, Pope Pius XII told a very large audience to wear the brown Scapular as a sign of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady asked for this consecration in the last apparition at Fatima, when She appeared as Our Lady of Mount Carmel, holding the Brown Scapular out to the whole world. It was her last loving appeal to souls to wear her Scapular as a sign of Consecration to her Immaculate Heart.
Blessed Claude de la Colombiere, the renowned Jesuit and spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary, gives a point which is enlightening. He said: "Because all the forms of our love for the Blessed Virgin, all its various modes of expression cannot be equally pleasing to Her, and therefore do not assist us in the same degree to Heaven, I say without a moment’s hesitation the BROWN SCAPULAR is the most favored of all!" He also adds: "No devotion has been confirmed by more numerous authentic miracles than the Brown Scapular."

The Brown Scapular

The Hills of Introd


Vacationing Pope Stays in Touch With Vatican

INTROD, Italy, JULY 14, 2006 (

While vacationing in Les Combes, a village of the Aosta Valley in the Italian Alps, Benedict XVI is in constant contact with the Vatican Secretariat of State. The Holy Father began his vacation on Tuesday and will continue until July 28.

Like last year, he chose the same spot Pope John Paul II used for his holidays. Salvatore Mazza, envoy of the Italian newspaper Avvenire, reported that the Pope has already gone on outings in the area. He rises early, celebrates Mass with his secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, then has breakfast prepared by consecrated lay women who also attend to him in the Vatican.

His secretary gives him the mail that has arrived that day. However, unlike in Castel Gandolfo, mail bags do not arrive from the Vatican. A computer is installed in his secretary's room, though the Pope does not use it, since he prefers to write by hand. According to Avvenire, the Holy Father generally spends the morning studying and goes out in the afternoon unless, as happened on Thursday, the threat of rain reverses his plans.

Also on Thursday, Joaquín Navarro Valls, recently retired Vatican spokesman, arrived in Les Combes. Benedict XVI invited him to spend a few days of vacation in the Aosta Valley. On Sunday, the Pontiff will have his first public meeting with the faithful to pray the Angelus. Thousands are expected to attend.

Papacy and the Vatican

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

St. Benedict


"Listen carefully, my son, to the Master's instructions, and attend to them with the ear of your heart. This is advice from a father who loves you; welcome it, and faithfully put it into practice. The labor of obedience will bring you back to him from whom you had drifted through the sloth of disobedience. This message of mine is for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true king, Christ the Lord." (the Rule of St. Benedict, Prologue, verses 1-3)

Prayer: Lord, by your grace Saint Benedict became a great teacher in the school of your service. Grant that we may put nothing before our love of you, and may we walk eagerly in the path of your commandments. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.


Pope On Vacation


Pope Benedict XVI is greeted by faithful upon his arrival in Les Combes d'Introd, in the Aosta Valley region, Italy, Tuesday, July 11, 2006. The pontiff will remain in Les Combes until July 28, when he will travel to the papal residence in the ancient town Castel Gandolfo in the Alban Hills, on the outskirts of Rome. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)

Papacy and the Vatican

I wonder what's that he's got in his hand?

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My Papa Is Cool


"The future is so bright, I gotta wear shades."

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

In Thanksgiving


Deo Gratias!

Snapshots of the Pope's successful visit to Valencia, Spain.

Papacy and the Vatican

The Christian Family


Mary is the image and model of all mothers, of their great mission to be guardians of life, of their mission to be teachers of the art of living and of the art of loving.

The Christian family -- father, mother and children -- is called, then, to do all these things not as a task imposed from without, but rather as a gift of the sacramental grace of marriage poured out upon the spouses.

If they remain open to the Spirit and implore his help, he will not fail to bestow on them the love of God the Father made manifest and incarnate in Christ. The presence of the Spirit will help spouses not to lose sight of the source and criterion of their love and self-giving, and to cooperate with him to make it visible and incarnate in every aspect of their lives.

The Spirit will also awaken in them a yearning for the definitive encounter with Christ in the house of his Father and our Father. And this is the message of hope that, from Valencia, I wish to share with all the families of the world. Amen.

- Excerpt of Pope Benedict XVI's homily on 5th World Meeting of Families in Valencia Spain, July 9, 2006

Pope's Message On Family


From Zenit, July 9, 2006

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am most happy to take part in this prayer meeting which is meant to celebrate with great joy God's gift of the family. I feel very close in prayer to all those who have recently experienced this city's mourning and in our hope in the Risen Christ, which provides light and strength even at times of immense human tragedy.

United by the same faith in Christ, we have gathered here from so many parts of the world as a community which, with gratitude and joy, bears witness that human beings were created in the image and likeness of God for love, and that complete human fulfillment only comes about when we make a sincere gift of ourselves to others.

The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love. That is why the Church constantly wishes to demonstrate her pastoral concern for this reality, so basic for the human person.

This is what she teaches in her Magisterium: "God, who is love and who created man and woman for love, has called them to love. By creating man and woman he called them to an intimate communion of life and love in marriage. 'So they are no longer two but one flesh' (Matthew 19:6)" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Compendium, 337).

This is the truth that the Church tirelessly proclaims to the world. My beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II said that man has been made "in the image and likeness of God not only by his being human, but also by the communion of the persons that man and woman have formed since the beginning.

They become the image of God, not so much in their aloneness as in their communion" (Catechesis, 14 November 1979). That is why I confirmed the calling of this Fifth World Meeting of Families in Spain, and specifically here in Valencia, a city rich in tradition and proud of the Christian faith lived and nurtured in so many of its families. The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place.

The family is itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding. To enable this, it receives abundant help from God in the sacrament of matrimony, which brings with it a true vocation to holiness. Would that our children might experience more the harmony and affection between their parents, rather than disagreements and discord, since the love between father and mother is a source of great security for children and its teaches them the beauty of a faithful and lasting love.

The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all.

Father and mother have said a complete "yes" in the sight of God, which constitutes the basis of the sacrament which joins them together. Likewise, for the inner relationship of the family to be complete, they also need to say a "yes" of acceptance to the children whom they have given birth to or adopted, and each of which has his or her own personality and character. In this way, children will grow up in a climate of acceptance and love, and upon reaching sufficient maturity, will then want to say "yes" in turn to those who gave them life.

The challenges of present-day society, marked by the centrifugal forces generated especially in urban settings, make it necessary to ensure that families do not feel alone. A small family can encounter difficult obstacles when it is isolated from relatives and friends. The ecclesial community therefore has the responsibility of offering support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or difficulty.

Here parishes have an important role to play, as do the various ecclesial associations, called to cooperate as networks of support and a helping hand for the growth of families in faith. Christ has shown us what is always the supreme source of our life and thus of the lives of families: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one had greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:12-13). The love of God himself has been poured out upon us in baptism. Consequently, families are called to experience this same kind of love, for the Lord makes it possible for us, through our human love, to be sensitive, loving and merciful like Christ.

Together with passing on the faith and the love of God, one of the greatest responsibilities of families is that of training free and responsible persons. For this reason the parents need gradually to give their children greater freedom, while remaining for some time the guardians of that freedom. If children see that their parents -- and, more generally, all the adults around them -- live life with joy and enthusiasm, despite all difficulties, they will themselves develop that profound "joy of life" which can help them to overcome wisely the inevitable obstacles and problems which are part of life.

Furthermore, when families are not closed in on themselves, children come to learn that every person is worthy of love, and that there is a basic, universal brotherhood which embraces every human being. This Fifth World Meeting invites us to reflect on a theme of particular importance, one fraught with great responsibility: the transmission of faith in the family. This theme is nicely expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: "As a mother who teacher her children to speak and so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the life of faith" (No. 171). This is symbolically in the liturgy of baptism: with the handing over of the lighted candle, the parents are made part of the mystery of new life as children of God given to their sons and daughters in the waters of baptism.

To hand down the faith to children, with the help of individuals and institutions like the parish, the school or Catholic associations, is a responsibility which parents cannot overlook, neglect or completely delegate to others. "The Christian family is called the domestic church because the family manifests and lives out the communal and familiar nature of the Church as the family of God. Each family member, in accord with his or her own role, exercises the baptismal priesthood and contributes towards making the family a community of grace and of prayer, a school of human and Christian virtues, and the place where the faith is first proclaimed to children" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Compendium, 350).

And what is more: "Parents, in virtue of their participation in the fatherhood of God, have the first responsibility for the education of their children and they are the first heralds of the faith for them. They have the duty to love and respect their children as persons and as children of God ... in particular, they have the mission of educating their children in the Christian faith" (ibid, 460).

The language of faith is learned in homes where this faith grows and is strengthened through prayer and Christian practice. In the reading from Deuteronomy we have heard the prayer constantly repeated by the Chosen People, the "Shema Israel," which Jesus himself would have heard and recited in his home in Nazareth. He himself would refer to it during his public life, as we see in the Gospel of Mark (12:29). This is the faith of the Church, which is born of God's love which comes through your families.

To live the fullness of this faith, in all its wondrous newness, is a great gift. All the same, at those times when God's face seems to be hidden, believing can be difficult and takes great effort. This meeting provides a new impetus for proclaiming the Gospel of the family, reaffirming the strength and identity of the family founded upon marriage and open to the generous gift of life, where children are accompanied in their bodily and spiritual growth. This is the best way to counter a widespread hedonism which reduces human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value and beauty.

To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in their mutual love. Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it healthier, stronger and more truly free. Human love needs to be purified and to mature if it is to be fully human and the principle of a true and lasting joy (cf. Address at Saint John Lateran, June 5, 2006). And so I invite government leaders and legislators to reflect on the evident benefits which homes in peace and harmony assure to individuals and the family, the neuralgic center of society, as the Holy See has stated in the Charter of the Rights of the Family.

The purpose of laws is the integral good of man, in response to his needs and aspirations. This good is a significant help to society, of which it cannot be deprived, and for peoples a safeguard and a purification. The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity.

The experience of being loved by their parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children. Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected. Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith, children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats.

I would now like to say a word to grandparents, who are so important for every family. They can be -- and so often are -- the guarantors of the affection and tenderness which every human being needs to give and receive. They offer little ones the perspective of time, they are memory and richness of families. In no way should they ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith at the approach of death.

I now wish to recite a part of the prayer which you have prayed in asking for the success of this World Meeting of Families.

O God, who in the Holy Family left us a perfect model of family life lived in faith and obedience to your will, Help us to be examples of faith and love for your commandments. Help us in our mission of transmitting the faith that we received from our parents. Open the hearts of our children so that the seed of faith, which they received in baptism, will grow in them. Strengthen the faith of our young people, that they may grow in knowledge of Jesus. Increase love and faithfulness in all marriages, especially those going through times of suffering or difficulty. (...) United to Joseph and Mary, we ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Prayer for the Holy Father's Trip to Spain


On Saturday, July 8, the Holy Father will leave for a two-day trip to Spain to attend the 5th World Day of Families.

Moneybags is asking everyone to pray for the Holy Father's successful trip.

May the Holy Father be accompanied by the Blessed Mother under her mantle of protection and may he be guided by the Holy Spirit to lead the government of Spain to conversion. Please say one Our Father, one Hail Mary and one Glory Be.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

St. Maria Goretti Patron of Modern Youth


St. Maria Goretti, a girl who was barely twelve was attacked and killed by her neighbor, Alesandro Serenelli in 1902. She suffered from her wounds for 20 hours during which she forgave her assailant. Shortly after Alesandro was imprisoned, Maria Goretti appeared to him in a dream giving him a lily. After waking up from the dream, he was a changed man and testified at her beatification. On June 24, 1950, Pope Pius XII canonized St. Maria Goretti as virgin saint and martyr. He proposed that she become the patron saint of modern youth.

We must pray to this beautiful saint and consider her our close friend in heaven. Let us ask her intercession for our purity in heart, mind and soul. St. Maria Goretti, help us to be pure for God as you were.

Prayer to St. Maria Goretti

Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth,with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Italian Or German?


The Pope is both. And he is probably praying for both teams in the World Cup semi-finals today with Germany against Italy.

(By the way, as of this writing, Germany lost to Italy during the final two minutes of extra-time).
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI won't be taking sides in Tuesday evening's World Cup semi-final between his homeland Germany and his adopted home Italy, according to media reports.

The on-line edition of Italian daily La Repubblica, citing "sources close to the pontiff", said it was also uncertain whether Joseph Ratzinger would interrupt his busy work schedule to follow the match on television.

More here.

World Meeting of Families


Marriage and the family are not in fact a chance sociological construction, the
product of particular historical and financial situations. On the other hand,
the question of the right relationship between the man and the woman is rooted
in the essential core of the human being and it is only by starting from here
that its response can be found. In other words, it cannot be separated from the
ancient but ever new human question: Who am I? What is a human being? And this question, in turn, cannot be separated from the question about God: Does God
exist? Who is God? What is his face truly like?

The Bible gives one consequential answer to these two queries: the human being is created in the image of God, and God himself is love. It is therefore the vocation to love that makes the human person an authentic image of God: man and woman come to resemble God to the extent that they become loving people.

This fundamental connection between God and the person gives rise to another: the indissoluble connection between spirit and body: in fact, the human being is a soul that finds expression in a body and a body that is enlivened by an immortal spirit.

The body, therefore, both male and female, also has, as it were, a theological character: it is not merely a body; and what is biological in the human being is not merely biological but is the expression and the fulfilment of our humanity.

-Opening Address of Benedict XVI at the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome on the family and the Christian community (June 6, 2005)

Check out these websites:

Official website of World
Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain

World Meeting Of Families Website

Prayer for the Family

Oh, God who left us in the Holy Family a perfect model of familiar life in the faith and the obedience to your will.

We give you thank you for our family. Grant us the force to remain joined in the love, the generosity and the happiness of living together.

We request you Lord, that this preparation to the World Meeting of Families be an intense experience of faith growth for our families.

Help us in our mission of transmitting the faith that we receive from our parents. Opens the heart of our children so that it grows in them the seed of the faith that you received in the baptism. Strengthens the faith of our youths, so that they grow in Jesus' knowledge. It increases the love and the fidelity of all the marriages, especially those that go by moments of suffering or difficulty.

It spills your grace and your blessing on all the families of the world, especially those that get ready for the next world Meeting of the families in Valencia. It also blesses our Pope Benedicto VI. Give him wisdom and strength, and grant us the joy of being able to him to receive from all over the world in Valencia together with the families. Together to Joseph and Mary, we request it to you for Jesus Christ your Son. Amen.
+ Consecrated to the Blessed Virgin Mary + Click to play "REGINA CAELI"

Apostolic Blessing by Pope Benedict XVI

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