Sunday, December 31, 2006

Gaining Indulgences for the New Year


The Holy Father celebrates the Te Deum for 2006.

How to gain indulgences for the new year.

Final Angelus of 2006

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this last Sunday of the year, we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. I greet with joy all the families of the world, and wish them the peace and love that Jesus has given us in coming to us at Christmas. We do not find any discourse on the family in the Gospel, but rather an event that is worth more than any words: God chose to be born into and grow in a human family. He thus consecrated the family as His way, a normal way, of coming to humanity.

In the life He lived in Nazareth, Jesus honored the Virgin Mary and the just Joseph, remaining under their parental authority through his childhood and adolescence (cfr Lk 2,51-52). In this manner, He brings to light the primary value of the family in educating a person. Mary and Joseph introduced Jesus to the religious community, attending the synagogue in Nazareth. With them, He learned to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, as the Gospel recounts in the passage offered to us today for our meditation.

When He was twelve years old, He stayed behind in the Temple, and His parents spent three days looking for Him. But with that action, He made them understand that He needed to concern Himself with "the affairs of His Father", namely, the mission given Him by God (cfr Lk 2,41-52). This episode reveals the most authentic and profound vocation of the family: to accompany every member along the road to find God and the plan that He has for each of us. Mary and Joseph educated Jesus, above all, through their example. From His parents, He learned all about the beauty of faith, of love for God and His Law, as well as the demands of justice which find fulfillment in love (cfr Rom 13,10).

From them He learned that, in the first place, one must follow the will of God, and that spiritual bonds are more important than those of blood. The Holy Family of Nazareth is truly the prototype of every Christian family, where the parents, united in the sacrament of matrimony and nourished by the Word and the Eucharist, are called on to realize the momentous calling and mission of being the living cell, not only of society, but of the Church, as a sign and instrument of unity of all mankind.

Together let us now invoke the protection of the Most Blessed Mary and St. Joseph for every family, especially those who are in difficulty. May they be sustained so that they may be able to resist the disintegrating forces in our contemporary culture which undermine the very bases of the family as an institution. And may they help Christian families in every part of the world to be living images of the love of God.

Later, he said in English:

On this joyful Feast of the Holy Family I am happy to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present for today’s Angelus. In the Holy Family of Nazareth we are given the true model of a Christian home. Let us resolve to make our own homes radiate with Christ’s loving harmony and peace. Our hearts also turn today to all those for whom family life is marred by sadness, tragedy, or violence. May they be uplifted by the hope which Jesus brings to each one of us. Upon all of you and your loved ones I invoke God’s abundant blessings of joy and peace!

From Papa Ratzi forum

Celebrating The Holy Family


Mankind's future rests in, and depends upon, the family more than any other society, institution, or environment.

~Pope John Paul II

Image from here.

Learn more from the Holy Family Institute.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Holy Innocents


At mass today, I wondered how the children martyred by Herod were able to enter Heaven if they had not been baptized. After Communion, my question was answered: they were baptized by their martyrdom!

"Keep thou innocency of baptism and see equity of good works"

In honor of the Holy Innocents, we praise the Infant King, whom they died for...

What child is this who laid to rest
On Mary's lap is sleeping
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet
While shepherds watch are keeping
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary
Why lies he in such mean estate
Where ox and ass are feeding
Good Christian fear, for sinners here
The silent Word is pleading
So bring Him incense, gold, and myrrh
Come peasant king to own Him
The King of kings, salvation brings
Let loving hearts enthrone Him
This, this is Christ the King
Whom shepherds guard and angels sing
Haste, haste to bring him laud
The babe, the son of Mary

Jesus Abbreviated The Word


The Holy Father writes...

The Word which God speaks to us in Sacred Scripture had become long in the course of the centuries. It became long and complex, not just for the simple and unlettered, but even more so for those versed in Sacred Scripture, for the experts who evidently became entangled in details and in particular problems, almost to the extent of losing an overall perspective.

Jesus "abbreviated" the Word – he showed us once more its deeper simplicity and unity. Everything taught by the Law and the Prophets is summed up – he says – in the command: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind… You shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Mt 22:37-40). This is everything – the whole faith is contained in this one act of love which embraces God and humanity. Yet now further questions arise: how are we to love God with all our mind, when our intellect can barely reach him? How are we to love him with all our heart and soul, when our heart can only catch a glimpse of him from afar, when there are so many contradictions in the world that would hide his face from us?

This is where the two ways in which God has "abbreviated" his Word come together. He is no longer distant. He is no longer unknown. He is no longer beyond the reach of our heart. He has become a child for us, and in so doing he has dispelled all doubt. He has become our neighbour, restoring in this way the image of man, whom we often find so hard to love. For us, God has become a gift. He has given himself. He has entered time for us. He who is the Eternal One, above time, he has assumed our time and raised it to himself on high. Christmas has become the Feast of gifts in imitation of God who has given himself to us.

Let us allow our heart, our soul and our mind to be touched by this fact! Among the many gifts that we buy and receive, let us not forget the true gift: to give each other something of ourselves, to give each other something of our time, to open our time to God. In this way anxiety disappears, joy is born, and the feast is created. During the festive meals of these days let us remember the Lord’s words: "When you give a dinner or a banquet, do not invite those who will invite you in return, but invite those whom no one invites and who are not able to invite you" (cf. Lk 14:12-14).

This also means: when you give gifts for Christmas, do not give only to those who will give to you in return, but give to those who receive from no one and who cannot give you anything back. This is what God has done: he invites us to his wedding feast, something which we cannot reciprocate, but can only receive with joy. Let us imitate him! Let us love God and, starting from him, let us also love man, so that, starting from man, we can then rediscover God in a new way!

From Chiesa by way of AmP

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

John the Beloved Disciple


"In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God" -John 1:1

Born in Galilee, c. 6 AD; died c. 104; feast day in the Eastern Church is September 26.

John, the "beloved disciple" of our Lord (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2ff; 21:7; 21:24), is said to have written the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, while exiled on the island of Patmos off the coast of modern Turkey.

His book is a superb conclusion to the Holy Scripture. The book of Genesis begins the account of man's spiritual odyssey by describing our expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The Book of Revelation is a vision of encouragement to await our restoration to Paradise.

John was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and the younger brother of James the Great. These two brothers earned their livelihood as fishermen on Lake Genesareth until they were called by Jesus to be fishers of men (Matt. 4:21-22; Mark 1:19-20). The youngest of the Apostles (estimated at about 25 at the time of his call), John, seems to have been a follower of John the Baptist, so particularly does he relate all the circumstances of the precursor's life, yet through modesty conceals his own name, as in other parts of the Gospel bearing his name.

Christ gave James and John the surname of "Boanerges"--The Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17)--to express their passionate natures. They wanted to call down fire from Heaven on the Samaritans who rejected Christ (Luke 9:54-56) and they said they were willing to suffer as witnesses to Jesus' suffering (Mark 10:35-41). This holy boldness would benefit the faith by allowing them to make the law of God known without fearing the power of men.

Why was John beloved of Christ? First, the love that John bore Him, then his general meekness and peaceable disposition that made him very much like Our Lord himself, and his singular privilege of chastity, his virginal purity rendered him worthy of this more particular love.

Saint Augustine says, "He was chosen by our Lord, a virgin, and he always remained such." Augustine also wrote, "Christ was pleased to choose a virgin for his mother, a virgin for his precursor, and a virgin for his favorite disciple. His church suffers only those who live perfectly chaste to serve Him in His priesthood, where they daily touch and offer His virginal flesh upon the altar."

That John was one of those closest to Jesus is demonstrated by the fact that only he, Peter, and James were present at such events as the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), the healing of Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31), the raising of Jairus's daughter from the dead (Mark 5:22-43; Luke 8:40-56), and the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37ff; Mark 14:33ff). For this reason, Saint Paul names John, Peter, and James as "these leaders, these pillars" of the Church in Jerusalem (Gal. 2:9).

here. Image from here.

2007 Liturgical Renewal


Join Mysterium-Fidei, this blog and a host of other blogs in the campaign for Liturgical Renewal this coming year 2007. Please feel free to promote this in your own blog.

Are you tired of false interpretations of the spirit of Vatican II? If so, join me this year in celebrating the Year of Authentic Liturgical Renewal in the Roman Liturgy. Through this, we can reawaken the Church to the real meaning through exploring Church documents, and texts. Feel free to join me in this crusade by posting this on your blog.

Go to this great post which has many important links about the Liturgy.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Angelus on Feast of St. Stephen


Dear brothers and sisters!

On the day that follows the solemnity of the Nativity of Christ, we celebrate today the feast of St. Stephen, deacon and first Christian martyr. At first glance, the pairing of the commemoration of the proto-martyr with the birth of the Redeemer may be surprising, because of the striking contrast between the peace and joy of Bethlehem and the tragedy of Stephen, stoned to death in Jerusalem, in the first persecution of the nascent Church.

Actually, the apparent contrast is easily overcome if we consider the mystery of the Nativity more deeply. The child Jesus who lies in the cave, is the Only-Begotten Son of God made man. He will save mankind by dying on the Cross. Now, we see Him lying in swaddling clothes on that manger.

After His Crucifixion, he will be wrapped in cloths again and deposited in a sepulcher. It is not by chance that the Christmas icoography has sometimes represented the Divine Newborn laid out in a tiny sarcophagus, to show that the Redeemer is born to die - He is born to give His life in behalf of everyone.

St. Stephen was the first to follow the footsteps of Christ with martyrdom. He died, like the Divine Master, forgiving and praying for his killers (cfr Acts 7,60). In the first four centuries of Christianity, all the saints venerated by the Church were martyrs. One speaks of a numberless host that the liturgy calls 'the shining army of martyrs' - martyrum candidatus exercitus. Their death did not bring on fear and sorrow, but rather the spiritual enthusiasm which in turn gave rise to even more new Christians.

For the believers, the day of death - even more, the day of martyrdom - is not the end of everything, but rather the passage to eternal life - it is the day of definitive birth, in Latin, dies natalis. Now we understand the link between Christ's dies natalis and St. Stephen's dies natalis. If Jesus had not been born on earth, then men cannot be born in heaven. Only because Christ was born is it possible for us to be reborn! Mary, who embraced the Redeemer in her arms in Bethlehem, also suffered an interior martyrdom. She shared His passion, and she would once again take Him in her arms after He is taken down from the Cross.

To this Mother who knew the joy of childbirth and the ordeal of her Divine Son's death, we entrust all those who are persecuted and who suffer in different ways in order to bear witness to the Gospel and to serve it. With a special spiritual nearness, I think of those Catholics who keep their loyalty to Peter's Chair without having to compromise, at times even at the cost of great suffering. All the Church admires their example and we pray that they may have the force to persevere, knowing that their tribulations are sources of victory, even if at the moment, they may seem to be failures.

To all, I wish a Merry Christmas once again. Later, he said this in English: I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus.

Today is the Feast of Saint Stephen, the first Christian martyr. His noble death teaches us to be generous of heart, courageous in living our faith and ready to forgive those who harm us. May your stay in Rome renew your love of Christ and his Church. I

I wish you all joy and peace in our Lord and a blessed Christmas Season!

From Papa Ratzi forum

St. Stephen

Stephen's name means "crown," and he was the first disciple of Jesus to receive the martyr's crown. Stephen was a deacon in the early Christian Church. The apostles had found that they needed helpers to look after the care of the widows and the poor. So they ordained seven deacons, and Stephen is the most famous of these.

God worked many miracles through St. Stephen and he spoke with such wisdom and grace that many of his hearers became followers of Jesus. The enemies of the Church of Jesus were furious to see how successful Stephen's preaching was. At last, they laid a plot for him. They could not answer his wise argument, so they got men to lie about him, saying that he had spoken sinfully against God. St. Stephen faced that great assembly of enemies without fear. In fact, the Holy Bible says that his face looked like the face of an angel.

The saint spoke about Jesus, showing that He is the Savior, God had promised to send. He scolded his enemies for not having believed in Jesus. At that, they rose up in great anger and shouted at him. But Stephen looked up to Heaven and said that he saw the heavens opening and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

His hearers plugged their ears and refused to listen to another word. They dragged St. Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. The saint prayed, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" Then he fell to his knees and begged God not to punish his enemies for killing him.
After such an expression of love, the holy martyr went to his heavenly reward. His feast day is December 26th.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Photos and Messages

From ITN -

Pope Benedict has used his Christmas address to deliver the stern message that mankind cannot live without God.

He said that in an age of "unbridled consumerism" it was shameful many remained deaf to the "heart-rending cry" of those dying of hunger, thirst, disease, poverty, war and terrorism.
In his address broadcast live to an audience of millions in 40 countries he posed the question: "Does a 'Saviour' still have any value and meaning for the men and women of the third millennium?"

"Is a 'Saviour' still needed by a humanity which has reached the moon and Mars and is prepared to conquer the universe?"
He appealed for peace and justice in the Middle East, an end to the brutal violence in Iraq and to the fratricidal conflict in Darfur and other parts of Africa, and expressed his hope for "a democratic Lebanon".

In a separate, written message to the small Christian communities of the Middle East, the Pope said he hoped to visit the Holy Land as soon as the situation allowed.
He then wished the world a Happy Christmas in 62 languages - including Arabic, Hebrew, Mongolian and Latin - but his speech highlighted his preoccupation with humanity's fate.

At midnight, the 79-year-old Benedict had ushered in Christmas with midnight mass at the Vatican saying the image of the baby Jesus in a manger should remind everyone of the plight of poor, abused and neglected children the world over.

He said: "The child of Bethlehem directs our gaze towards all children, particularly those who suffer and are abused in the world, the born and the unborn."

"Towards children who are placed as soldiers in a violent world; towards children who have to beg; towards children who suffer deprivation and hunger; towards children who are unloved

Images from here.

Merry Christmas To All

Wishing you a Blessed Christmas and a Grace-filled New Year! May God bless you and your families!

In French: Joyeux Noel!

In Italian: Buon Natale!

In German: Frohe Weihnachten!

In Spanish: Feliz Navidad!

In Tagalog: Maligayang Pasko!

In Urdu:کرسمس مبارک

In Irish: Nollaig shona diabh!

In Korean: 메리 크리스마스

In Portuguese: Feliz Natal!

In Swahili: Sikukuu njema ya Krismasi

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Pope Calls For Unity

Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged people everywhere to prepare for Christmas by overcoming prejudices as pilgrims and tourists gathered in St. Peter's Square ahead of Christmas Eve celebrations.

"Jesus came for each one of us and made us brothers," Benedict said during his traditional blessing from his window overlooking the square.

In turn, he added, people should strive to "overcome preconceived ideas and prejudices, tear down barriers and eliminate contrasts that divide — or worse — set individuals and peoples against each other, so as to build together a world of justice and peace."

"With such sentiments, dear brothers and sisters, let us live through the last few hours that separate us from Christmas, by preparing spiritually to welcome baby Jesus," the pontiff added.
Benedict was to celebrate Midnight Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

On Christmas Day at noon, Benedict was scheduled to deliver the "Urbi et Orbi" message — Latin for "to the city and to world" — to pilgrims and tourists in St. Peter's Square and offer holiday greetings.

His predecessor, Pope John Paul II, used to use the "Urbi et Orbi" message to review conditions around the world, often lamenting conflicts, poverty and the excesses of consumerism.

From here.

Advent Novena: Day Nine


Novena Prayer:

Father, all powerful and ever living God. I give you thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord, when He humbled Himself to come among us as Man.

He fulfilled the plan You formed long ago and opened for us the way to salvation. Now I watch for the day, hoping that the salvation promised us will be mine when Christ our Lord comes again in His glory.

His future coming was proclaimed by all the prophets. The Virgin Mother bore Him in her womb with love beyond all telling. John the Baptist was His herald and made known when at last He came. In His love He has filled us with joy as we prepare to celebrate His birth.

When He comes, may He find me watching in prayer, my heart filled with wonder and praise. In memory of the coming of our Lord and Savior, I beg You, Father, to grant me all the graces I need to be prepared for His coming to my soul on Christmas. I ask in particular this favor: (mention your request)

For the love Jesus your Son has shown us in becoming man to save us, I beg You to grant my prayer, if it be your Holy Will.

Prayer to benefit from Christ's coming

Lord our God, help me to prepare well for the coming of Christ Your Son. May He find me waiting in eager prayer. God of mercy and compassion, help me in my weakness and free me from sin. Hear my prayers that I may rejoice at the coming of Your Son.

You loved the world so much You gave Your only Son to free us from the ancient power of sin and death. Help me who wait for His coming and lead me to true liberty. Free me from my sins and make me whole. Hear my prayers and prepare me to celebrate the incarnation of Your Son.

Almighty God, help me to look forward to the glory of the birth of Christ our Savior. His coming is proclaimed joyfully in all the world. I await His healing power. Let me not be discouraged by my weaknesses as I prepare for His coming. Keep me steadfast in Your Love. Give me the joy of your love to prepare the way for Him. Help me to serve You and my neighbor.

Father, help me to look forward in hope to the coming of our Savior. May I live as He has taught, ready to welcome Him with burning love and faith. Let Your glory dawn to take away my darkness and may I be revealed as a child of light at His coming. Let the light of His coming free me from the darkness of sin and renew His life within me.

My sins bring me unhappiness, hear my prayer for courage and strength. May the coming of Your Son bring me the joy of salvation. Guide me with Your Love as I await His coming. Keep me faithful that I maybe helped through life and brought to salvation.

Father, creator and redeemer of mankind, You decreed and your word became man, Son of the Virgin Mary. May I come to share the Divinity of Christ. Who humbled Himself to share our human nature. Renew me by the coming feast of Your Son's birth. Give me true faith and love to celebrate the mystery of God made Man. May I who celebrate the birth of Your Son as man rejoice in the gift of eternal life when He comes in glory. May I share more fully in His divine life, for He lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Pope's Year-End Address


Report from CNA.


Turning to his July trip to Valencia, Spain, the Holy Father considered that trip’s themes of marriage and the family. He recalled the testimonies of families who had passed through moments of crisis and who, with great efforts, had managed to overcome them and rediscover their happiness. "Before these families and their children," he said, "before these families in which the generations hold each other by the hand, and the future is present, the problem of Europe, which seems almost no longer to want children, penetrated my soul."

"Why, is this the case? That is the great question. The answers are certainly extremely complex. But before seeking responses we must thank all those married couples who, even in our Europe today, say 'yes' to children and accept the labors they bring." Alongside the need to give them so much of our time, the Pope continued, is the problem of "what norms must we teach our children in order for them to follow the right path, and, in doing so, to what extent must we respect their freedom?"

"Men and women today," said the Holy Father, "are unsure about the future." This fact, "alongside the desire to have all of life to themselves, is perhaps the most profound reason for which the risk of having children appears to many as almost unbearable.”“If we do not relearn the basic foundations of life - if we do not rediscover the certainty of faith,” the Pontiff declared, “it will also be ever more difficult for us to give others the gift of life and the challenges of an unknown future."

Another aspect of this question, he went on, "is the problem of definitive decisions. Can man bind himself for ever? Can he say a 'yes' that lasts a lifetime? Yes, he can. He was created for this end. Thus man achieves his freedom and thus the sacred bond of marriage is created, which broadens to become a family and build the future.”

Homosexual unions

"At this point," he added, "I cannot fail to mention my concern over 'de facto' couples. ... When new legislation is created that relativizes marriage, the rejection of the definitive bond gains, so to speak, juridical endorsement."

Moreover, "relativizing the difference between the sexes ... tacitly confirms those bleak theories which seek to remove all relevance from a human being's masculinity or femininity, as if this were a purely biological matter." The Holy Father affirmed that, "herein is a contempt for corporeality whence it follows that man, in seeking to emancipate himself from his body (from the 'biological sphere'), ends up by destroying himself."

Against those who say that "the Church should not involve herself in these matters, we can only respond: does man not concern us too?" The church and believers "must raise their voices to defend man, the creature who, in the inseparable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God."

Pastoral visit to Germany

Going on to mention the September visit to his homeland, Bavaria (Munich, Altotting, Regensburg and Freising), the Holy Father recalled how the main intention of his apostolic trip "was to highlight the question of God," because "the great problem in the West is forgetfulness of God."

"The question of God," the Pope went on, "is associated with two themes that characterized my visit: that of priesthood and that of dialogue." And he recalled how according to the Old Testament, the tribe of Levi (of priests) was landless.

Priesthood and celibacy

Turning to consider the priesthood, the Holy Father said, "the true foundation of a priest's life, the land of his existence, is God Himself."

"This theocentrism of priestly existence is vital in our modern world where everything is entirely functional and based on calculable and verifiable exchanges. The priest must know God from within in order to bring Him to mankind, this is the priority service of which humanity today has need."

Benedict XVI then went on to consider priestly celibacy which, he said, "can only be definitively understood and experienced on the basis of this basic standpoint," because "purely pragmatic reasons, reference to greater availability are not sufficient."

It may also be thought that the nature of celibacy involves "a kind of selfishness, that avoids the sacrifices and trials required in the mutual acceptance and tolerance of marriage."

However, "the true foundation of celibacy can be encapsulated only in the phrase 'Dominus pars - You are my land.' ... It cannot mean being without love, but must mean letting oneself be seized by passion for God. ...

Celibacy must be a testimony of faith."

Dialogue between faith and reason

The Holy Father then turned to introduce the question of dialogue, recalling his meeting some years ago with the philosopher Jurgen Habermas, who informed the then Cardinal Ratzinger of the need "for thinkers capable of translating the beliefs encoded in the Christian faith into the language of the secularized world, in order to render them effective once again.”

"In fact," Pope Benedict added, "it is becoming ever more clear how urgently the world has need of dialogue between faith and reason," especially when "the cognitive capacities of human beings, their control over the material world through the power of thought, has made such unimaginable progress. But man's power, which has grown thanks to science, is becoming an ever greater danger, threatening both humankind and the world."

"Science must welcome faith in the God Who personifies the creative Reason of the universe ... as a challenge and an opportunity. In the same way, this faith must recognize its own intrinsic immensity and reasonableness. Reason needs the Logos which lies at the origin of our light. For its part, faith needs to dialogue with modern reason, in order to become aware of its own greatness and meet is own responsibilities."

On the subject of inter-religious dialogue the Pope insisted that "secularized reason is not capable of entering into a true dialogue with religions. If reason remains closed to the question of God, this will lead it to the clash of cultures. ... Religions must come together in the shared task of serving truth, and hence serving man."

Visit to Turkey

Another important part of the Pope's address to the Roman Curia was dedicated to his recent apostolic trip to Turkey which, he said, "gave me the chance to express publicly my respect for Islam.”

“The Muslim world today," the Pope observed, "is facing a task very similar to that imposed upon Christians from the time of the Enlightenment, and which Vatican Council II, as the result of a long and arduous journey, brought to fruition with concrete solutions for the Catholic Church."

"On the one hand, it is important to avoid a dictatorship of positivist reason that excludes God from community life and public legislation. On the other hand, it is necessary to welcome the true achievements of the Enlightenment: human rights and especially the freedom of faith and of its expression.”

“The Muslim world, with its own traditions, is facing the great task of finding appropriate solutions to these questions. Dialogue between Christians and Muslims must, at this time, be that of coming together in this mission, in order to find the right solutions," he said. The Pope then mentioned his meeting in Istanbul with Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I.

"We experienced," he said, "a profound unity in faith and will pray to God ever more insistently that He may grant us full unity in the shared breaking of bread. ... We hope and pray that religious freedom - which is part of the intimate nature of the faith and is recognized in the principles of the Turkish constitution - finds a growing practical implementation in appropriate juridical norms and in the daily life of the patriarchate and of the other Christian communities."

Call to peace

Benedict XVI dedicated the final paragraphs of his address to the question of peace.

"We must learn that peace cannot be achieved only from the outside, ... and that the attempt to establish peace through violence leads only to fresh violence,” the Pontiff stated.“We must learn that peace can only exist if hatred and selfishness are overcome from within,” he continued. “In our lives, we must attain that which Baptism sacramentally brought us: the death of the old man and the re-emergence of the new.”Pope Benedict concluded, “May the reason of peace overcome the unreasonableness of violence!"

Do Not Forget the Sick and Infirmed


This Christmas, while society is concentrated in last-minute Christmas shopping, decorating the house and preparing for Christmas dinner, we often forget those who are suffering because of illness or those who are alone and nobody to celebrate with. Let us at least remember them in our prayers.

In November, the Holy Father reminds us with these words...

How can we forget the many people with infections illnesses forced into segregation, and sometimes marked by a humiliating stigma? The seriousness of these lamentable situations is highlighted by the disparity of social and economic conditions between the North and South of the world.”

“Such situations must be answered with concrete initiatives that favor proximity to the sick, enliven the evangelization of culture, and inspire the social and economic policies of governments.

Here are ways to give this Christmas:

1). Call or visit a friend whom you know is ill or infirmed and assure him/her of your prayers.
2). Send a Christmas card to someone in the hospice or care home.
3). If your hospital has a chapel, have a mass offered for all the sick.

Pope Tells Children To Be Christ's Witnesses


Recently, the Holy Father received a group of children from Italian Catholic Action. The following is his message to them:

"Christmas," he said, "is the great mystery of the Truth and Beauty of God Who came among us for everyone's salvation. The birth of Jesus is not a fable, it is a story that really happened, in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Faith brings us to recognize in that little Child born of the Virgin Mary, the true Son of God Who, out of love, chose to become man."

"In the face of the little Jesus," the Holy Father proceeded, "we contemplate the face of God, which is not revealed through force or power, but in weakness and the fragile constitution of a child. This 'Divine Child' ... demonstrates the faithfulness and tenderness of the boundless love with which God surrounds each of us. For this reason we rejoice at Christmas, reliving the same experience as the shepherds of Bethlehem."

"The wonder we feel before the enchantment of Christmas" is, said Benedict XVI, in some way reflected in the birth of all children, "and it invites us to recognize the Infant Jesus in all babies, who are the joy of the Church and the hope of the world."

The Pope assured the children of his trust in them and called upon them "to be friends and witnesses of Jesus, Who came among us in Bethlehem. Is it not a beautiful thing to make Him better known among your friends, in cities, in parishes and in your families? The Church needs you in order to be close to all the children and young people who live in Italy. Bear witness to the fact that Jesus takes away nothing of your joy, but makes you more human, more true, more beautiful."

From here.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Benedict the Humble Is Hailed


Benedict XVI's Regensburg Address Hailed

Benedict XVI's lecture at Regensburg has been chosen "Address of the Year" in the German language. The decision was made by the Seminar der Allgemeine Rhetorik, the renowned School of General Rhetoric of the University of Tuebingen.

According to this honor, one of the most prestigious prizes in the German language, the Sept. 12 address "is magisterially constructed in its direct composition" and multileveled. The school defended the "courage and determination with which the Pope produced his address, without the disposition to please and be accommodating, which often passes as dialogue."

Many news media, taking out of context a quotation of Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologus, presented the address as a condemnation of Islam. The jury, however, insisted that the address was "in reality about the relationship between reason and faith and affirmation of the Christian conviction that to act according to reason corresponds to the very nature of God." From here.

Food Bank Gives Benedict XVI an Award

Benedict XVI has received the Charity Award instituted by the Food Bank Foundation of Italy. The Pope was given the award because, at the start of his pontificate, he described charity as the "natural dimension of Christian existence," as a "gift of self to the other," the group said. The prize, amounting to about $263,000, will be allocated by the Holy Father to charitable works. More here.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pope's Wednesday Catechesis


VATICAN CITY, DEC 20, 2006 (VIS) - Christmas was the central theme of the Pope's catechesis during his general audience, held this morning in the Paul VI Hall.

"In these final days of Advent," said the Holy Father, "the liturgy invites us to approach ... the stable in Bethlehem where the extraordinary event that changed the course of history took place: the birth of the Redeemer. On Christmas Eve, we will stand once again before the manger, and contemplate in wonder the 'Word made Flesh.' ... The chosen people awaited the Messiah but imagined him to be a powerful and victorious leader who would free his people from foreign oppression. Yet the Savior was born in silence and in absolute poverty."

"Does mankind in our own time still await the Savior?" the Pope asked. "It appears that many people consider God as foreign to their interests. They have no apparent need of Him, and live as if He did not exist or, worse still, as if He were an 'obstacle' to be removed in order to achieve self-fulfillment. Even among believers ... are those who let themselves be attracted by alluring mirages and distracted by misleading doctrines that propose illusory shortcuts to happiness.

"And yet," he added, "with all their contradictions, their anguish and their dramas - or perhaps precisely because of them - men and women today seek a road of renewal, of salvation, they seek a Savior and await, sometimes without knowing it, ... the coming of Christ, man's only true Redeemer."

"Of course, false prophets continue to propose 'low cost' salvation, which always ends up delivering resounding disillusionment. Indeed, the history of the last 50 years provides an example of this search for a 'low cost' Savior and highlights all the consequent disillusionment." For this reason, the Pope concluded, Christians must, "with the testimony of their lives, propagate the truth of Christmas, which Christ brings to all men and women of good will. Born into poverty in the manger, Jesus came to offer everyone the joy and peace which alone can satisfy the needs of the human soul."

In his Italian-language greetings at the end of the audience, Benedict XVI said: "In a few days it will be Christmas, and I imagine that, in your homes, you are putting the final touches to your nativity scenes, which are such an evocative depiction of Christmas. I hope that this important element, not only of our spirituality but also of our culture and art, may endure as a simple and eloquent way to remember the One Who came 'to dwell among us'." After the audience, the Pope was awarded the "Prize for Charity" by the "Banca Alimentare," an Italian foundation that organizes, among other initiatives, the National Day of Food Collection. The reason for granting the prize, says a communique released by the foundation, is that since the start of his
pontificate, the Holy Father "has sought to present charity - the sincere giving of oneself to others - as a natural dimension of Christian life."

Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B., speaking during a meeting between the Vatican Publishing House and other international publishers, highlighted the fact that the award coincides with Benedict XVI's decision to donate part of his copyright earnings to a study center founded by his former theology students.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Gaudete Sunday


Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The proclamation of the joy of Christmas, of the coming of the Lord, is directed especially at the “lame of the earth”: those who suffer because they face the tragedy of war, in the Middle East or some places in Africa, or because they are stricken by sickness or solitude, or because, like many of today’s young people, they do not know the true meaning of joy for they have lost themselves in an exaggerated quest for the mirages of consumerism, for moments of intoxication and all forms of alienation. On this day when the liturgy makes a call to joy of the spirit, Benedict XVI urged the faithful to reflect on the true meaning of joy, found not in the myths of our time but in the proclamation of salvation contained in the word of God. The pope remembered especially Iraqi refugees in Syria, “forced to leave their country because of the tragic situation they are experiencing” and he made an appeal on their behalf to “individuals, international organizations and governments” to commit themselves still more “to meet their most urgent needs”. More here.

Recent News


Benedict XVI, the shy former disciple of that most media-friendly of popes, John Paul II, has entered an area of the mass communications market that his predecessor apparently never tapped. More

The Vatican has indicated that, at present, it will not be signing a new, widely-heralded international treaty to protect the rights and dignity of people living with disabilities. The UN-sanctioned treaty needs to be ratified by individual member states, and Britain is among those who have made an early indication of their intention to do so. More here.

By Michael Gonsalves, Pune, Dec 17 : Pope Benedict XVI has appointed noted space scientist K. Kasturirangan as a member of the prestigious Rome-based Pontifical Academy of Sciences - and the Indian said he was "extremely delighted"."
More here.

It's Soccer time in the Vatican


It's about time the Vatican had a soccer tournment.

Read an interview with Father Kevin Lixey who oversees the "Church and Sports" section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity here.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Christmas Pledge


My Christmas Pledge with Prayer to the Infant Jesus

I Promise . . .

1. To make my Christmas a holy day with Christ-----not a holiday without Him.

2. To observe Christmas as the birthday of Christ-----not a day to give and receive material gifts.

3. To remember that the real symbols of Christmas are the Star, the Stable and the Crib-----not Santa Claus and his reindeer.

4. To teach my children that "Santa Claus" is the nickname of St. Nicholas-----who gave to the poor in honor of Christ.

5. To help one poor family-----in honor of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the Holy Family of Bethlehem.

6. To send Christmas cards remindful of Him, the Infant Savior-----not decorated only with candy canes, dogs, ribbons and wreaths.

7. To make room in my home for Him-----with a Christmas Crib to remind me that He was born in a stable.

8. During the Christmas season, in a special way, to honor Mary, His mother-----who kept the first Christmas vigil beside the manger.

9. To begin Christmas by leading my family to His altar-----to receive the Bread of Life.

10. Today and every day, to give "Glory to God in the highest"-----to work and pray for "Peace on earth to men of good will."

Nihil Obstat: Joseph A. M. Quigley, Censor Librorum Imprimatur, + John J Krol, D.D., J.C.D., Archbishop of Philadelphia, March, 1964

Prayer to the Infant Jesus

Come to me, O Divine Savior, vouchsafe to be born in my heart.
Grant that, taught by Thine example, and assisted by Thy grace,
I may be poor in spirit and humble of heart.
Keep me chaste and obedient.
I wish to live but for Thee, and to do all things purely for love of Thee.
O Mary, my Advocate and Mother,
obtain by thy prayers forgiveness of my past offenses
and holy perseverance unto death.
St. Joseph, do thou also pray for me,
that I may become daily more pleasing to Jesus.

From here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

The Woman Clothed with the Sun



Our Lady of Guadalupe,Mystical Rose,make intercession for holy Church,protect the sovereign Pontiff,help all those who invoke you in their necessities,and since you are the ever Virgin Maryand Mother of the true God,obtain for us from your most holy Sonthe grace of keeping our faith,of sweet hope in the midst of the bitterness of lifeof burning charity, and the precious giftof final perseverance.

Image from

Our Lady's eye

According to many scientists who have inspected the image (on Juan's mantle) we can see reflected in her eyes, in both of them and in the precise location as reflected by a live human eye, many figures that have been extensively analyzed and seem to correspond to the shape and size of human figures located in front of the image.

In 1929, Alfonso Marcue, who was the official photographer of the old Basilica of Guadalupe in Mexico City, found what seemed to be a clear image of a bearded man reflected in the right eye of the Virgin. Initially he did not believe what was before his eyes. How could it be? A bearded man inside of the eyes of the Virgin?. After many inspections of many of his black and white photographs he had no doubts and decided to inform the authorities of the Basilica. He was told that time to keep complete silence about the discovery, which he did.
More than 20 years later, on May 29, 1951, Jose Carlos Salinas Chavez, examining a good photograph of the face, rediscovers the image of what clearly appears to be a bearded man reflected in the right eye of the Virgin, and locates it on the left eye too.

More here.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

The Pope's Prayer To Mary


O Mary, Immaculate Virgin, again this year we find ourselves with filial love at the foot of your image in order to renew the tribute of the Christian community and the city of Rome.

Here we pause in prayer, following the tradition inaugurated by previous popes, in the solemn day in which the liturgy celebrates your Immaculate Conception, mystery that is a source of joy and hope for all the redeemed. We greet You and call upon You using the words of the Angel, “Full of Grace” (Lk 1, 28), the most beautiful name with which God Himself called You since eternity.

“Full of Grace”, you are, Mary, filled with divine love from the first moment of Your existence, providentially predestined to be the Mother of the Redeemer and intimately associated with Him in the mystery of Salvation. In Your Immaculate Conception glows the vocation of the disciples of Christ, with His grace called to be holy and without blemish before him in love (cf Eph 1, 4). In You the dignity of every human being, who is precious in the eyes of the Creator, shines. Whoever looks at you O All Holy Mother does not lose serenity however harsh the trials of their life may be. Even though the experience of sin is sad, sullying the dignity of God’s children, whosoever turns to You rediscovers the beauty of truth and love, and finds again the path that leads to the house of the Father.

“Full of Grace”, you are, Mary, who in welcoming with Your “Yes” the Creator’s plans, opened the door of salvation to us. At Your school teach us to pronounce our “Yes” to the will of the Lord. A “Yes” that joins Yours, unreservedly and without any shadow, which the Lord willed to need in order to generate the New Man, the Christ, the one and only Saviour of the World and History. Give us the courage to say “No” to the illusions of power, money, pleasure, ill-gotten gain, corruption, hypocrisy, selfishness and violence; “No” to the evil one, the prince who deceives this world; “Yes” to Christ who destroys the power of evil with all-mighty love. We know that only the hearts converted by Love, which is God, can build a better future for all.

“Full of Grace”, you are, Mary! Your name is a token of certain hope for all generations. Yes! Because, as the great poet Dante wrote, “thou to us, [. . .] mortal men [art] of hope a living spring” (Par., XXXIII, 12). At this source, at the spring of Your Immaculate Heart, we come once more as trusting pilgrims to draw faith and consolation, joy and love, security and peace.

Virgin “full of grace”, show Yourself as a tender and devoted Mother for the people of this city, so that a authentically evangelical spirit may encourage and direct their deeds; show Yourself a Mother and watchful guardian for Italy and Europe, so that the nations may know how to draw new life from their ancient Christian roots to build their present and their future; show Yourself as a providing and merciful Mother for the whole world so that solid bases for a civilisation of love may be laid respecting human dignity and rejecting all forms of violence and exploitation.

Show Yourself Mother especially for those who need it most: the defenceless, the marginalised and the excluded, the victims of a society that too often sacrifices man to other purposes and interests.

Show Yourself Mother of all, O Mary, and give us Christ, the hope of the world! “Monstra Te esse Matrem”, O Immaculate Virgin, full of grace! Amen!

Asia News

Operation Just Say Merry Christmas


Don't know what to give for stocking stuffer? There's more here.

Keep proclaiming Jesus by saying "Merry Christmas".

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception


On this day, so dear to every Catholic heart, we celebrate first of all the moment when Almighty God, in a vision telescoping the ages, showed Mary both to our first parents and to the demon, as the Virgin Mother of the future divine Redeemer, the Woman destined to crush the proud head of the serpent. This episode is narrated in the first book of Scripture, Genesis chapter 3. We find Her again in the last canonical prophecy of the Bible, the Apocalypse or Revelation of Saint John the Apostle, as the Woman clothed with the sun, having on Her head a crown of twelve stars. In this beautiful vision She is also identified with the persecuted Apostolic Church, obliged to flee into the “desert”, and as the Mother of a great Head of that Church, destined to govern the flock of the latter times in the final combat, who like that flock is Her own Child. (chapter 12) Mary, like Her Son, is at the beginning and the end of all God’s intentions, an integral part of His designs for the Redemption of the human race.

Since by eternal decree She was exempted from all stain of original sin from the first moment of Her Creation, and was endowed with the richest treasures of grace and sanctity, it is fitting that we honor Her glorious prerogatives by this special feast of the Immaculate Conception. We should join in spirit with the Blessed in heaven and rejoice with our dear Mother, not only for Her own sake, but for ours, Her children, for we are partakers of Her glory and happiness. “The treasures of the mother are the heritage of the children,” said Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

We celebrate at the same time the ever-memorable day, the 8th of December of 1854, which raised the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Lady from a pious belief to the dignity of a dogma of the infallible Church, causing a great and universal joy among the faithful. The Holy See had already permitted the feast day from the time of Sixtus IV, by his papal bull Cum Praecelsa (1477), formally allowing its celebration for all dioceses desiring it. In 1854, the ancient faith of the people in their Mother exulted.

From here

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What The World Is Saying About Benedict


The Pope's Turkey trip has made a deep impression among the Muslim community and the whole world. What are they saying? Read on...

The Pope's Prayer

A Kinder Gentler Benedict

In Turkey Benedict Becomes a Defender of Freedom

Peter Visits Andrew and prays in Blue Mosque

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Pope Thanks All For Prayers

Dear brothers and sisters!

Together with you, I wish to thank the Lord once more for the apostolic voyage which I made to Turkey in recent days, in which I felt accompanied and sustained by the prayers of the entire Christian community.

My heartfelt thanks to all of you! On Wednesday, at the general audience, I will be able to speak more extensively of this unforgettable spiritual and pastoral experience, from which I hope that good fruits will be borne, for an ever more sincere cooperation among the disciples of Christ and for a profitable dialog with Muslim believers.

It is incumbent on me now to renew my thanks to all who organized the trip, and who contributed in various ways to its peaceful and fruitful occurrence.

I address special thoughts to the authorities in Turkey and to my friends the Turkish people who accorded me a welcome worthy of their traditional spirit of hospitality.

I would like, above all, to remember with affection the Catholic community who live on Turkish soil. I think of them as we enter Advent time this Sunday. Read more from Papa Ratzi.

God Is A Continuous Present

Dear brothers and sisters!

The first antiphion of this Vespers celebration is proposed as an opening for the Advent period and resounds like an antiphon for the entire liturgical year.

Let us listen to it again: "Give the news to the peoples: God is coming, our Savior."

At the beginning of a new annual cycle, the liturgy invites the Church to renew its announcement to all peoples and summarizes it in these words: "God is coming." This synthetic expression contains a force of suggestion that is always new.

Let us pause a moment to reflect: the past tense is not used - God has come; nor the future - God will come; but the present - God is coming. It speaks of a continuous present, an action that is always current - it happened, it is happening now, it will happen again. At whatever moment, God is coming.
Read more here.

First Sunday of Advent


Prayer for the Advent Wreath
Lord, our God, we praise You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, for He is Emmanuel, the Hope of all people.He is the Wisdom that teaches and guides us.He is the Savior of us all.O Lord,let your blessing come upon us as we light the first (purple) candle of this wreath. May the wreath and its light be a sign of Christ’s promise of salvation. May He come quickly and not delay.We ask this in His holy name. Amen.

We light a candle today, a small dim light against a world that often seems forbidding and dark. But we light it because we are a people of hope, a people whose faith is marked by an expectation that we should always be ready for the coming of the Master. The joy and anticipation of this season is captured beautifully in the antiphons of hope from the monastic liturgies:

See! The ruler of the earth shall come, the Lord who will take from us the heavy burden of our exileThe Lord will come soon, will not delay. The Lord will make the darkest places bright.We must capture that urgency today in the small flame of our candle. We light the candle because we know that the coming of Christ is tied to our building of the kingdom. Lighting the flame, feeding the hungry, comforting the sick, reconciling the divided, praying for the repentant, greeting the lonely and forgotten – doing all these works hastens His coming.


Friday, December 01, 2006

The Pope's Intentions for December 2006

General: That Christ, meek and humble of heart, may inspire those responsible for nations to use power wisely and responsibly.

Mission: That in every part of the world missionaries may live out their vocation with joy and enthusiasm, faithfully following in Christ’s footsteps.

Photos: Pope's Closing Mass and Departure


Photos from here.

Successful Spiritual Pilgrimage: Nov 28 to Dec 1


Heavenly Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name, we humbly ask that you sustain, inspire, and protect your servant, Pope Benedict XVI, as he goes on pilgrimage to Turkey – a land to which St. Paul brought the Gospel of your Son; a land where once the Mother of your Son, the Seat of Wisdom, dwelt; a land where faith in your Son’s true divinity was definitively professed. Bless our Holy Father, who comes as a messenger of truth and love to all people of faith and good will dwelling in this land so rich in history. In the power of the Holy Spirit, may this visit of the Holy Father bring about deeper ties of understanding, cooperation, and peace among Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and those who profess Islam. May the prayers and events of these historic days greatly contribute both to greater accord among those who worship you, the living and true God, and also to peace in our world so often torn apart by war and sectarian violence. We also ask, O Heavenly Father, that you watch over and protect Pope Benedict and entrust him to the loving care of Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, a title cherished both by Catholics and Muslims. Through her prayers and maternal love, may Pope Benedict be kept safe from all harm as he prays, bears witness to the Gospel, and invites all peoples to a dialogue of faith, reason, and love. We make our prayer through Christ, our Lord. Amen.

Composed by Bishop William E. Lori, Knights of Columbus Supreme Chaplain

Say One Rosary daily for the Holy Father
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Apostolic Blessing by Pope Benedict XVI

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