Monday, August 29, 2005
The Anima Christi

Say this prayer for the sick, suffering, and dying that God's mercy may intervene and save them. This prayer is from the 14th Century and commonly said after receiving Holy Communion. This prayer is one that has an indulgence attached.

Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ's side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints
and with Thy angels Forever and ever

Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain
Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist

Memorial (1969 Calendar): August 29
Greater Double (1955 Calendar): August 29

Today, we recall the Martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, who baptized Christ and prepared His way by baptizing people in repentance. Specifically, today, we recall his death. Devotion to St. John the Baptist has been widespread for centuries.

According to Pius Parsch's The Church's Year of Grace, this day commemorates "the second finding of his most venerable head." As he writes: "In the year 362, pagans desecrated the grave and burned his remains. Only a small portion of his relics were able to be saved by monks and sent to St. Athanasius at Alexandria. The head of the saint is venerated at various places."

One interesting point is that in some of the Eastern Catholic Rites (e.g., the Melkite Catholic Church) the feast of the Beheading of St John the Baptist is a day of fast and strict abstinence where neither wine nor oil are allowed.

The Gospel Account of his martyrdom:
At the time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, "This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him." Now Herod had arrested John, bound (him), and put him in prison on account of Herodias, the wife of his brother Philip, for John had said to him, "It is not lawful for you to have her."

Although he wanted to kill him, he feared the people, for they regarded him as a prophet. But at a birthday celebration for Herod, the daughter of Herodias performed a dance before the guests and delighted Herod so much that he swore to give her whatever she might ask for. Prompted by her mother, she said, "Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist." The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given, and he had John beheaded in the prison.

His head was brought in on a platter and given to the girl, who took it to her mother. His disciples came and took away the corpse and buried him; and they went and told Jesus. (Matthew 14:3-12)
Say a prayer for St. John the Baptist's intercession that he might lead us closer to Jesus Christ, Our Lord, and Master. And like St. John, may we be willing to stand true to the Faith and morality even if it means our own martyrdom.

Dom Gueranger in "The Liturgical Year" on today's feast and what may have happened to Herod and the dancing girl in the years following:

The sacred cycle itself seems to convey to us too a similar lesson; for, during the following days, we shall see its teaching as it were tempered down, by the fewness of the feasts, and the disappearance of great solemnities until November. The school of the holy liturgy aims at adapting the soul, more surely and more fully than could any other school, to the interior teaching of the Spouse. Like John, the Church would be glad to let God alone speak always, if that were possible here below; at least, towards the end of the way, she loves to moderate her voice, and sometimes even to keep silence, in order to give her children an opportunity of showing that they know how to listen inwardly to Him, who is both her and their sole love. Let those who interpret her thought, first understand it well. The friend of the Bridegroom, who, until the nuptial-day, walked before Him, now stands and listens; and the voice of the Bridegroom, which silences his own, fills him with immense joy: ‘This my joy therefore is fulfilled,' said the precursor.

Thus the feast of the Decollation of St. John may he considered as one of the landmarks of the liturgical year. With the Greeks it is a holiday of obligation. Its great antiquity in the Latin Church is evidenced by the mention made of it in the martyrology called St. Jerome’s, and by the place it occupies in the Gelasian and Gregorian sacramentaries. The precursor’s blessed death took place about the feast of the Pasch; but, that it might be more freely celebrated, this day was chosen, whereon his sacred head was discovered at Emesa.

The vengeance of God fell heavily upon Herod Antipas. Josephus relates how he was overcome by the Arabian Aretas, whose daughter he had repudiated in order to follow his wicked passions; and the Jews attributed the defeat to the murder of St. John. He was deposed by Rome from his tetrarchate, and banished to Lyons in Gaul, where the ambitious Herodias shared his disgrace. As to her dancing daughter Salome, there is a tradition gathered from ancient authors,[5]that, having gone out one winter day to dance upon a frozen river, she fell through into the water; the ice, immediately closing round her neck, cut off her head, which bounded upon the surface, thus continuing for some moments the dance of death.

Litany of John the Baptist for private use

Lord, have mercy on us. 
Christ, have mercy on us.

Christ, hear us. 
Christ, graciously hear us.

God the Father of Heaven, Have mercy on us.
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, Have mercy on us.
God the Holy Ghost, Have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, One God, Have mercy on us.

Holy Mary, pray for us.
Queen of Prophets, pray for us.
Queen of Martyrs, pray for us.

Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, precursor of Christ, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious forerunner of the Sun of Justice, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, minister of baptism to Jesus, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, burning and shining lamp of the world, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, angel of purity before thy birth, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, special friend and favorite of Christ, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, heavenly contemplative, whose element was prayer, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, intrepid preacher of truth, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, voice crying in the wilderness, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, miracle of mortification and penance, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, example of profound humility, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, glorious martyr of zeal for God's holy law, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, gloriously fulfilling thy mission, pray for us.

Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, Who takest away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us.

V. Pray for us, O glorious St. John the Baptist,
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


May the holy festival of Thy Forerunner and Martyr, St. John the Baptist, we beseech Thee, O Lord, afford us help unto salvation: Who livest and reignest.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Sunday, August 28, 2005
Gospel: Who do you say that I am, Peter?

We heard those clear words in last Sunday's Gospel and then we see Peter, the first-pope-to-be, answering correctly: "We have come to believe that you are the Christ, the Son of the living God." This is the first proclamation of true faith in the Gospel; someone saw Jesus as more than a man but God.

But, in today's Gospel the story changes slightly with two very important messages:

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly from the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,and be killed and on the third day be raised. Then Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him,"God forbid, Lord! No such thing shall ever happen to you." He turned and said to Peter,"Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do."

Then Jesus said to his disciples,"Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it,but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct."

This probably seems like a colossal misinterpretation of what Peter said. He only wanted the best for Our Lord, right? But then we see the truth in Peter's words. Remember that Jesus Christ was born for one purpose: to die. He was born to die on our Cross and shed His blood for our sins and go into the ground for three days and rise again. The entire purpose the Son of God (truly God Himself too) became flesh was to die for us; Peter right here thinks he is doing good but he is really tempting Christ like Satan tempted Him in the desert. The Cross was meant for us and Christ came to take it away so that all of our crosses might unite with His.

The entire point of becoming man was to save us, and all of us too, from eternal death. It didn't matter if we would go to Mass every week, pray often, or even love Him...He died for us anyway. He died for every single soul in existence no matter how cruel that said soul was, so that he/she might be able to see His face and live in paradise. Now, Heaven still requires work - we must believe and follow the Commandments including attending Sunday Mass, etc.

Jesus must be the foundation of our lives and we must love Him with all our heart, mind, and soul and love our neighbor as ourself. Every sin no matter how small is a wedge between us and God. Let us reflect on our lives and sincerely plan to go to Confession. Let us profess our belief that Jesus is God, but go further and show good works. Let us do as Peter did and say "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" and add one important extention: "I love you."

The most touching point of the homily today was when my priest asked: "So when did Peter finally figure everything out and follow Christ?" It happened right after Jesus was arrested. He was taken and beaten and interrogated and mocked while Peter sat outside. And there Peter denied Christ three times as Our Lord said would happen. And at that moment, Peter looked up and saw Christ and Christ saw Peter; their eyes met...and Peter wept for He knew the truth. The truth is that Jesus Christ died for him too.

With the Year of the Eucharist drawing to a close very soon let us just sit before the Sacred Host for one moment, gaze into it with our heart and say: "Jesus Christ, I adore you."

Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain
Saturday, August 27, 2005
Crossing: Book Review

Here is my review of Crossing: Reclaiming the Landscape of Our Lives by Mark Barrett, OSB. I originally chose this book because it was supposed to deal with the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church's specific prayers of the day, and I wanted to learn more on the Liturgy. This book, though, took the general look at the Liturgy. I was looking for more of the common prayers and advice on praying the Liturgy of the Hours.

In the book the author describes our days as full of crossroads through a garden (the garden being a metaphor of our life), and only if we rely on God and think clearly about how to improve our lives through prayer can we hope to travel through life without going in circles. Make sure you see prayer as a personal dialogue with God and an opportunity to reflect on our day so far. If you, however, do not rely on God then we are nothing and surely can not find our way through a garden because it would undoubtedly seem a wilderness.

My review: It was full of references to works that I have never heard of, and it digressed a little too much at times. 4.0/10
Friday, August 26, 2005
Book Review: Novena
I just checked out a fabulous book called "Novena: The Power of Prayer" by Barbara Clamari and Sandra DiPasqua. It is composed of prayers in three sections: the saints, Marian novenas, and Novenas to God. Each section briefly describes the devotion/person and then lists the novena. It's a great necessity for any devout Catholic, and I would really like to buy one of these books soon.

Rating 10/10
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Conditions on Receiving the Eucharist

As we profess, the Eucharist is the Real presence of Jesus Christ: Body, Blood, soul, and divinity. Think about the wonder and joy in receiving the Word made flesh, the Light of the world.

November 14, 1996, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved the following guidelines on the reception of communion. These guidelines replace the guidelines approved by the Administrative Committee of the NCCB in November 1986:

For Catholics

As Catholics, we fully participate in the celebration of the Eucharist when we receive Holy Communion. We are encouraged to receive Communion devoutly and frequently. In order to be properly disposed to receive Communion, participants should not be conscious of grave sin and normally should have fasted for one hour. A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession. In this case, the person is to be mindful of the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition, including the intention of confessing as soon as possible (canon 916). A frequent reception of the Sacrament of Penance is encouraged for all.

For our fellow Christians

We welcome our fellow Christians to this celebration of the Eucharist as our brothers and sisters. We pray that our common baptism and the action of the Holy Spirit in this Eucharist will draw us closer to one another and begin to dispel the sad divisions which separate us. We pray that these will lessen and finally disappear, in keeping with Christ’s prayer for us “that they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).

Because Catholics believe that the celebration of the Eucharist is a sign of the reality of the oneness of faith, life, and worship, members of those churches with whom we are not yet fully united are ordinarily not admitted to Holy Communion. Eucharistic sharing in exceptional circumstances by other Christians requires permission according to the directives of the diocesan bishop and the provisions of canon law (canon 844 § 4). Members of the Orthodox Churches, the Assyrian Church of the East, and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own Churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of communion by Christians of these Churches (canon 844 § 3).

For those not receiving Holy Communion

All who are not receiving Holy Communion are encouraged to express in their hearts a prayerful desire for unity with the Lord Jesus and with one another.

For non-Christians

We also welcome to this celebration those who do not share our faith in Jesus Christ. While we cannot admit them to Holy Communion, we ask them to offer their prayers for the peace and the unity of the human family.

For this reason, we must ensure that we are free from mortal sin when we receive:
"Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. " (1 Cor. 11:27–28).
Let us show the Lord our love and seek Him out in the Holy Eucharist in adoration and praise; let us receive Him with a forgiven heart full of love for the Light of the World. "Whoever comes to me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the light of life." And, then let us go forth as tabernacles of the Highest and love all others.
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
St. Rose of Lima

Optional Memorial (1969 Calendar): August 23
Double (1955 Calendar): August 30

St. Rose of Lima (1586 - 1617), virgin, lived for Jesus Christ. She became the first canonized saint of the Western Hemisphere and was a Dominican lay tertiary, who worked to evangelize the Indians. Her parents wanted her to marry, but she wanted to remain single and dedicate her life to Christ. St. Rose not only prayed for hours each day but took care of orphans and the elderly that needed help. She lived each day for Jesus Christ and her friends included St. Martin de Porres and St. John Masias.

In her life of penance, many people viewed her highly, and she was even a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic. At age five, St. Rose devoted her life to God and served Him through all of her trials. St. Rose was born to Spanish immigrants and was a beautiful girl. At a young age, she used pepper and lye to ruin her complexion so she would not be viewed as attractive to help her vow of chastity. She had a great devotion to St. Catherine of Siena. St. Rose wore roses around her head but underneath them was a crown of thorns - it was her penance.

She was tortured physically by the devil and scolded by her family, but she thought of them as treating her better than she deserved. For fifteen years she suffered spiritual abandonment until her death when she received the companionship of Mary and her guardian angel. St. Rose of Lima even had the invisible stigmata.


O Almighty God, the Giver of all good gifts, Who didst will that blessed Rose, bedewed with Thy heavenly graces, should blossom forth in the Indies as a lovely flower of virginity and patience: grant to us Thy servants so to run in the odor of her sweetness, that we may be found worthy to become a sweet savor of Christ: Who with Thee liveth and reigneth.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal

Thoughts on God

Today was my first day back to a busy schedule of work and it may be very difficult to see God through everyday life. But He is there. He's in the small joys we see, the pleasant conversations, the joy of getting something done right. God isn't just that sensation but Our Lord and God, who watches out for us and loves us with an infinite love.

He died for you, for me, for your neighbor and everyone else. Even when life gets down, always look up and know that God is there. He is always with us through the trials and joys, and we will all ultimately arrive at the gates of the small eternal city. And what will we say: I forgot to pray; I didn't know how. Just say, "Lord I love you. Have mercy on me. Look at what I have done and look at what I have failed at but know I love you."

Trust in God must be a key factor in all of our lives. I hope it will lead us all to Heaven through the Catholic Church, which Christ has promised, "But when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will teach you all truth. For he shall not speak of himself; but what things soever he shall hear, he shall speak; and the things that are to come, he shall shew you" (John 16:13)

My apologizes if I am unable to post everyday, but thank you to everyone that will still come back here and hope to read something.
Monday, August 22, 2005
WYD 2008: Sydney

Well, World Youth Day is over and so is Pope Benedict XVI's first international trip. The next World Youth Day will be in 2008 in Sydney, Australia.

Do you think World Youth Day will bring people to the Church? Greater vocations to the priesthood

Do you think Pope Benedict XVI passed the "test" of being able to connect with the youth?
Sunday, August 21, 2005
Pro-life Posts

"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish" (Mother Teresa).

Catholic and Pro-life Issues
  1. Prayer for the Helpless Unborn
  2. In vitro Fertilization
  3. Catholics and the End of Life issues
  4. Human Cloning
  5. Contraception
  6. The Catechism of the Catholic Church on abortion
  7. What is the Cost of abortion?
  8. Petition against Planned Parenthood
  9. Amnesty International and Abortion
This is a list of all of my pro-life news & legislation updates to date. (More recent at the top)
  1. Partial Birth Abortion Ruled Unconstitutional
  2. American Cancer Society funds Planned Parenthood
  3. Colorado Gov. Signs Bill Mandating Catholic Hospitals Provide Abortion Drug
  4. Portugal Legalizes Abortion
  5. Fr. Frank Pavone's Homily from January 18, 2007
  6. Choose Life Plates for Illinois
  7. 34th Anniversary of Legalized Abortion
  8. 2006 US Election Results
  9. Vote Pro-life on November 7, 2006
  10. FDA Guidelines on Vaccines/Aborted Fetal Cell Lines Open for Public Comment
  11. Nicaragua votes to ban all abortions; UN tried to stop vote
  12. Missourians: Vote NO on Amendment 2
  13. The Pill causes cancer
  14. Help the South Dakota Abortion Ban
  15. Plan B will not stop abortions
  16. FDA approves Morning after pill!
  17. President Bush supports Plan B!
  18. Unborn children murdered for cosmetics!
  19. Ask President Bush to stop Plan B
  20. Contact Ms. Magazine
  21. Child Custody Protection Act passes Senate, stopped
  22. Bush vetos embryonic stem cell research bill YES!
  23. Crucial Stem cell research update!
  24. European Union- embryonic stem cell research
  25. Today's Crazy News
  26. Abortion mill becomes Catholic chapel
  27. Omaha abortion center closes
  28. A living miracle
  29. British abortion rates rise
  30. Independence Day: Pro-life Wisdom
  31. Curves: Pro-life
  32. Alabama Pro-life law goes into effect
  33. Microsoft is a huge abortion supporter
  34. End of trouble at NKU
  35. South Dakota abortion law to be voted on in November
  36. Governor Blanco signs Louisiana abortion ban into law
  37. A Child of an Abortion Practitioner Insists on Life for the Unborn
  38. Annual report on Planned Parenthood
  39. Ohio abortion ban
  40. Philippines abolishes the death penalty
  41. Start the 77 Day Novena to close Tiller's abortion mill
  42. Updates on Abortion in South Dakota
  43. Amnesty International and Abortion
  44. Wisconsin newspaper funds Planned Parenthood
  45. Blythe Danner & Gwyneth Paltrow support abortion
  46. Proposition 73 is back!
  47. Clinton asked to use abortion to kill the poor
  48. Victory for Life in Britain
  49. Andrea Clark has died
  50. Colorado Governor vetos bill that would allow morning after pill without a prescription
  51. Hawaii protects abortion after Roe v. Wade
  52. Arizona vetos pain-awareness act bill
  53. Breast cancer risks drastically increase after an abortion
  54. Updates with South Dakota
  55. gives in to abortion activists
  56. Some Catholic colleges support abortion
  57. Day of Prayer for the Conversion of Abortionists
  58. National polls released on the South Dakota abortion ban
  59. Gov. Rounds signs ban on abortions in South Dakota (Mar 2006)
  60. Walmart begins to sell the morning-after-pill
  61. Abortion bans in Mississippi and Missouri
  62. 55 Catholic Democrats in the House support abortion
  63. Gov. Rounds of South Dakota needs prayers
  64. Supreme court sides with pro-lifers in regard to RICO laws
  65. South Dakota passes abortion ban
  66. Governor Blagojevich funds embryonic stem cell research
  67. RU-486 in Australia
  68. US Family Planning Funds Slashed (Feb. 16th)
  69. IL Paper allows pro-life advertisements
  70. "Abortions have decreased" - President Bush
  71. Florida parential notification law upheld by judge
  72. NARAL's abortion grades
  73. US Supreme Court ruling on N. Hamsphire law
  74. US Supreme Court ruling in Oregon suicide law
  75. Diocese to require contraception classes
  76. Pope Benedict XVI - "God loves every embryo"
  77. Illinois Abortions at a 30 year low
  78. Boycott American Girl
  79. Best Christmas Gift for a mother
  80. Umbilical Cord Blood Bill becomes Law (Dec. 21, 2005)
  81. An abortion survivor's story - Read the amazing story
  82. Prop. 73 will be back!
  83. Phillipines support the Church on birth control
  84. Prop. 73 fails in California (Nov. 13, 2005)
  85. Missouri abortion clinic closed; new law (Oct. 26, 2005)
  86. Don't support "Save lids to Save lives"
  87. Adult Stem cells cure paraplegic
  88. The Truth on Life Checks
  89. UNFPA denied funding from US; Canada increases funding
  90. Missouri pro-life bill signed into law on Sept. 16, 2005
  91. Susan Torres's child dies on Sept. 11, 2005
  92. Pro-life bumper sticker saves a life
  93. Priests for life announce lay association
  94. CBS pro-life statistics as of Aug. 11, 2005
  95. Minnesota signs abortion-fetal pain law on Aug. 2, 2005
  96. New York Contraception Bill is vetoed in Aug. 2005
  97. Susan Torres gives birth
  98. Embyronic Stem Cell Research
  99. Benefits of adult stem cell research
  100. Pro-life survey
  101. Abortion laws in other countries
  102. Tell Senators not to support Embryonic stem cell Research
  103. If Roe v. Wade is overturned
Why did Jesus Institute the Eucharist?

The institution of the Eucharist was at the Last Supper, on the night before Our Lord's death, where He offered us the greatest gift of all - Himself in the Eucharist.

From the Catechism of St. Pius X:

28 Q: Why did Jesus Christ institute the Most Holy Eucharist?

A: Jesus Christ instituted the Most Holy Eucharist for three principal reasons: (1) To be the Sacrifice of the New Law; (2) To be the food of our souls; (3) To be a perpetual memorial of His passion and death and a precious pledge both of His love for us and of eternal life.
Conclusion of World Youth Day

As I watch now, Pope Benedict XVI is boarding his plane to leave Cologne, Germany from World Youth Day, and I reflect on the closing Mass today. Over 1 million people from over 200 countries attended the Holy Mass in Marienfeld. The Pope encouraged the pilgrims to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church, but stated that "books alone are not enough. Form communities based on faith." Read his excellent homily via the Vatican's website.

The next World Youth Day is scheduled for Sydney, Australia in 2008.

Images from the Mass:

AFP/Pier Paolo Cito

Saturday, August 20, 2005
The DaVinci Protest

With the release of Dan Brown’s “The DaVinci Code” coming to the big screen, a 61-year-old nun protested outside of the cathedral where it was filmed in London for 12 hours by praying the Rosary on the concrete in reparation for the lies of the movie against Jesus.

Many view this book offensive because it states lies about Christ and the Church including that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene, had a child with her, and she started the papacy. Some claim this is fiction and is no harm, but while I watched the program many people talked about how they believe it as the truth! I’m certainly opposed to a movie like this that distorts the truth, and the Only Truth at that, just to make money.

August 2006 Update: Visit Jesus Decoded and my later post on this.
Let us adore Him

I'm writing this post after the WYD celebrations have concluded but as I put these posts in the archives of my blog I felt that the WYD section would not be complete without Eucharistic Adoration mentioned.

On August 20, 2005, many, many people remained in an all-night Eucharistic Adoration Vigil to adore Our Lord who is truly present (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity) in the Eucharist. Eucharistic adoration is indeed a great gift and my favorite form of prayer.

Christ-Haunted posted that beautiful photo above of Pope Benedict XVI during Adoration.

Here is the address of Pope Benedict XVI for the youth vigil:

Dear young friends,

In our pilgrimage with the mysterious Magi from the East, we have arrived at the moment which St Matthew describes in his Gospel with these words: "Going into the house (over which the star had halted), they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him" (Mt 2: 11). Outwardly, their journey was now over. They had reached their goal.

But at this point a new journey began for them, an inner pilgrimage which changed their whole lives. Their mental picture of the infant King they were expecting to find must have been very different. They had stopped at Jerusalem specifically in order to ask the King who lived there for news of the promised King who had been born. They knew that the world was in disorder, and for that reason their hearts were troubled.

They were sure that God existed and that he was a just and gentle God. And perhaps they also knew of the great prophecies of Israel foretelling a King who would be intimately united with God, a King who would restore order to the world, acting for God and in his Name.

It was in order to seek this King that they had set off on their journey: deep within themselves they felt prompted to go in search of the true justice that can only come from God, and they wanted to serve this King, to fall prostrate at his feet and so play their part in the renewal of the world. They were among those "who hunger and thirst for justice" (Mt 5: 6). This hunger and thirst had spurred them on in their pilgrimage - they had become pilgrims in search of the justice that they expected from God, intending to devote themselves to its service.

Even if those who had stayed at home may have considered them Utopian dreamers, they were actually people with their feet on the ground, and they knew that in order to change the world it is necessary to have power. Hence, they were hardly likely to seek the promised child anywhere but in the King's palace. Yet now they were bowing down before the child of poor people, and they soon came to realize that Herod, the King they had consulted, intended to use his power to lay a trap for him, forcing the family to flee into exile.

The new King, to whom they now paid homage, was quite unlike what they were expecting. In this way they had to learn that God is not as we usually imagine him to be. This was where their inner journey began. It started at the very moment when they knelt down before this child and recognized him as the promised King. But they still had to assimilate these joyful gestures internally.

They had to change their ideas about power, about God and about man, and in so doing, they also had to change themselves. Now they were able to see that God's power is not like that of the powerful of this world. God's ways are not as we imagine them or as we might wish them to be.

God does not enter into competition with earthly powers in this world. He does not marshal his divisions alongside other divisions. God did not send 12 legions of angels to assist Jesus in the Garden of Olives (cf. Mt 26: 53). He contrasts the noisy and ostentatious power of this world with the defenceless power of love, which succumbs to death on the Cross and dies ever anew throughout history; yet it is this same love which constitutes the new divine intervention that opposes injustice and ushers in the Kingdom of God.

God is different - this is what they now come to realize. And it means that they themselves must now become different, they must learn God's ways.

They had come to place themselves at the service of this King, to model their own kingship on his. That was the meaning of their act of homage, their adoration. Included in this were their gifts - gold, frankincense and myrrh - gifts offered to a King held to be divine. Adoration has a content and it involves giving. Through this act of adoration, these men from the East wished to recognize the child as their King and to place their own power and potential at his disposal, and in this they were certainly on the right path.

By serving and following him, they wanted, together with him, to serve the cause of good and the cause of justice in the world. In this they were right.

Now, though, they have to learn that this cannot be achieved simply through issuing commands from a throne on high. Now they have to learn to give themselves - no lesser gift would be sufficient for this King. Now they have to learn that their lives must be conformed to this divine way of exercising power, to God's own way of being.

They must become men of truth, of justice, of goodness, of forgiveness, of mercy. They will no longer ask: how can this serve me? Instead, they will have to ask: How can I serve God's presence in the world? They must learn to lose their life and in this way to find it. Having left Jerusalem behind, they must not deviate from the path marked out by the true King, as they follow Jesus.

Dear friends, what does all this mean for us?

What we have just been saying about the nature of God being different, and about the way our lives must be shaped accordingly, sounds very fine, but remains rather vague and unfocused. That is why God has given us examples. The Magi from the East are just the first in a long procession of men and women who have constantly tried to gaze upon God's star in their lives, going in search of the God who has drawn close to us and shows us the way.

It is the great multitude of the saints - both known and unknown - in whose lives the Lord has opened up the Gospel before us and turned over the pages; he has done this throughout history and he still does so today. In their lives, as if in a great picture-book, the riches of the Gospel are revealed. They are the shining path which God himself has traced throughout history and is still tracing today.

My venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II, who is with us at this moment, beatified and canonized a great many people from both the distant and the recent past. Through these individuals he wanted to show us how to be Christian: how to live life as it should be lived - according to God's way. The saints and the blesseds did not doggedly seek their own happiness, but simply wanted to give themselves, because the light of Christ had shone upon them.

They show us the way to attain happiness, they show us how to be truly human. Through all the ups and downs of history, they were the true reformers who constantly rescued it from plunging into the valley of darkness; it was they who constantly shed upon it the light that was needed to make sense - even in the midst of suffering - of God's words spoken at the end of the work of creation: "It is very good".

One need only think of such figures as St Benedict, St Francis of Assisi, St Teresa of Avila, St Ignatius of Loyola, St Charles Borromeo, the founders of 19-century religious orders who inspired and guided the social movement, or the saints of our own day - Maximilian Kolbe, Edith Stein, Mother Teresa, Padre Pio. In contemplating these figures we learn what it means "to adore" and what it means to live according to the measure of the Child of Bethlehem, by the measure of Jesus Christ and of God himself.

The saints, as we said, are the true reformers. Now I want to express this in an even more radical way: only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world.

In the last century we experienced revolutions with a common programme - expecting nothing more from God, they assumed total responsibility for the cause of the world in order to change it. And this, as we saw, meant that a human and partial point of view was always taken as an absolute guiding principle. Absolutizing what is not absolute but relative is called totalitarianism. It does not liberate man, but takes away his dignity and enslaves him.

It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true. True revolution consists in simply turning to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love. And what could ever save us apart from love?

Dear friends! Allow me to add just two brief thoughts.

There are many who speak of God; some even preach hatred and perpetrate violence in God's Name. So it is important to discover the true face of God. The Magi from the East found it when they knelt down before the Child of Bethlehem. "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father", said Jesus to Philip (Jn 14: 9). In Jesus Christ, who allowed his heart to be pierced for us, the true face of God is seen. We will follow him together with the great multitude of those who went before us. Then we will be travelling along the right path.

This means that we are not constructing a private God, we are not constructing a private Jesus, but that we believe and worship the Jesus who is manifested to us by the Sacred Scriptures and who reveals himself to be alive in the great procession of the faithful called the Church, always alongside us and always before us.

There is much that could be criticized in the Church. We know this and the Lord himself told us so: it is a net with good fish and bad fish, a field with wheat and darnel.

Pope John Paul II, as well as revealing the true face of the Church in the many saints that he canonized, also asked pardon for the wrong that was done in the course of history through the words and deeds of members of the Church. In this way he showed us our own true image and urged us to take our place, with all our faults and weaknesses, in the procession of the saints that began with the Magi from the East.

It is actually consoling to realize that there is darnel in the Church. In this way, despite all our defects, we can still hope to be counted among the disciples of Jesus, who came to call sinners.

The Church is like a human family, but at the same time it is also the great family of God, through which he establishes an overarching communion and unity that embraces every continent, culture and nation. So we are glad to belong to this great family that we see here; we are glad to have brothers and friends all over the world.

Here in Cologne we discover the joy of belonging to a family as vast as the world, including Heaven and earth, the past, the present, the future and every part of the earth. In this great band of pilgrims we walk side by side with Christ, we walk with the star that enlightens our history.

"Going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshipped him" (Mt 2: 11). Dear friends, this is not a distant story that took place long ago. It is with us now. Here in the Sacred Host he is present before us and in our midst. As at that time, so now he is mysteriously veiled in a sacred silence; as at that time, it is here that the true face of God is revealed. For us he became a grain of wheat that falls on the ground and dies and bears fruit until the end of the world (cf. Jn 12: 24).

He is present now as he was then in Bethlehem. He invites us to that inner pilgrimage which is called adoration. Let us set off on this pilgrimage of the spirit and let us ask him to be our guide. Amen.

© Copyright 2005 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Other Images:

(AP Photo/Thomas Kienzle)

The purple areas are the youth in attendance:

(AP Photo/WJT, Hacky Hagemeyer)
The Ladder to Heaven

"Apart from the cross, there is no other ladder by which we may get to heaven" -- St. Rosa de Lima.

Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain
St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Memorial (1969 Calendar): August 20
Double (1955 Calendar): August 20

Today the Church remembers St. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), abbot and Doctor of the Church, who was canonized, 21 years after his death. He is referred to as the second founder of the Cistercians, the Mellifluous Doctor, the Apostle of the Crusades, the miracle-worker, the reconciler of kings, the leader of peoples, and the counselor of popes. In 1830, he was given the title of Doctor of the Church by Pope Pius VIII.

He was born in 1090, the third son of a noble Burgundian family. At an early age he was sent to college at Chatillon. He studied Holy Scripture and Theology. St. Bernard, at the age of 22, entered the monastery of Citeaux (where the Cistercian order began) following the death of his mother and fearing the ways of the world. He convinced 25 other youths in the noble class as well as four his brothers to follow him. His father and a fifth brother later followed. St. Stephen, the abbot at Citeaux, after seeing the great progress of Bernard in the spiritual life, sent him with twelve monks to found a new monastery. St. Bernard would found the famous Abbey of Clairvaux. St. Bernard became abbot in 1115; he founded numerous other monasteries too. St. Bernard dedicated his work, De Consideratione, to his disciple, Bernard of Pisa, who later became Pope Eugene III. Pope Eugene III later asked St. Bernard to preach the second Crusade, so St. Bernard traveled France and Germany preaching. After the failure of the crusade, some people turned on St. Bernard. St. Bernard countered by saying that the knights failed because of their sinfulness.

St. Bernard's influence on the princes, clergy, and people of his time was remarkable. He was an advisor to King Louis the Fat and King Louis the Young. St. Bernard attended the Second Lateran Council and both fought Albigensianism and helped to end the schism of anti-Pope Anacletus II. He was also endowed with the gift of miracles. He died on August 20, 1153. St. Bernard was the first Cistercian monk placed on the calendar of saints. He was canonized just 21 years after his death by Pope Alexander III. In 1830 Pope Pius VIII declared him a Doctor of the Church.

Traditional Matins Reading:

Bernard was born of a distinguished family at Fontaines in Burgundy. As a youth, on account of his great beauty he was much Bought after by women, but could never be shaken in his resolution of observing chastity. To escape these temptations of the devil, he, at twenty-two years of age, determined to enter the monastery of Citeaux, the first house of the Cistercian Order, then famous for sanctity. When his brothers learnt Bernard’s design, they did their best to deter him from it; but he, more eloquent and more successful, won them and many others to his opinion; so that together with him thirty young men embraced the Cistercian Rule. As a monk he was so given to fasting, that whenever he had to take food he seemed to be undergoing torture. He applied himself in a wonderful manner to prayer and watching, and was a great lover of Christian poverty; thus he led a heavenly life on earth, free from all anxiety or desire of perishable goods.

The virtues of humility, mercy, and kindness shone conspicuously in his character. He devoted himself so earnestly to contemplation, that he seemed hardly to use his senses except to do acts of charity, and in these he was remarkable for his prudence. While thus occupied he refused the bishoprics of Genoa, Milan, and others, which were offered to him, declaring that he was unworthy of so great an office. He afterwards became Abbot of Clairvaux, and built monasteries in many places, wherein the excellent rules and discipline of Bernard long flourished. When the monastery of SS. Vincent and Anastasius of Rome was restored by Pope Innocent II, St. Bernard appointed as Abbot the future Sovereign Pontiff, Eugenius III; to whom he also sent his book 'De Considera tione.'

He wrote many other works which clearly show that his doctrine was more the gift of God than the result of his own labours. On account of his great reputation for virtue, the greatest princes begged him to act as arbiter in their disputes, and he went several times into Italy for this purpose, and for arranging ecclesiastical affairs. He was of great assistance to the Supreme Pontiff Innocent II in putting down the schism of Peter de Leone, both at the courts of the emperor and of King Henry of England, and at a Council held at Pisa. At length, being sixty-three years old, he fell asleep in the Lord. He was famous for miracles, and Pope Alexander III placed him among the saints. Pope Pius VIII, with the advice of the Sacred Congregation of Rites, declared St. Bernard a Doctor of the universal Church, and commanded all to recite the Mass and Office of a Doctor on his feast. He also granted a plenary indulgence yearly for ever, to all who visit churches of the Cistercian Order on this day.


“In dangers, in doubts, in difficulties, think of Mary, call upon Mary. Let not her name depart from your lips, never suffer it to leave your heart. And that you may more surely obtain the assistance of her prayer, neglect not to walk in her footsteps. With her for guide, you shall never go astray; while invoking her, you shall never lose heart; so long as she is in your mind, you are safe from deception; while she holds your hand, you cannot fall; under her protection you have nothing to fear; if she walks before you, you shall not grow weary; if she shows you favor, you shall reach the goal.”

Doctor Mellifluus:
The "Doctor Mellifluus," "the last of the Fathers, but certainly not inferior to the earlier ones,"[1] was remarkable for such qualities of nature and of mind, and so enriched by God with heavenly gifts, that in the changing and often stormy times in which he lived, he seemed to dominate by his holiness, wisdom, and most prudent counsel. Wherefore, he has been highly praised, not only by the sovereign Pontiffs and writers of the Catholic Church, but also, and not infrequently, by heretics. Thus, when in the midst of universal jubilation, Our predecessor, Alexander III, of happy memory, inscribed him among the canonized saints, he paid reverent tribute when he wrote: "We have passed in review the holy and venerable life of this same blessed man, not only in himself a shining example of holiness and religion, but also shone forth in the whole Church of God because of his faith and of his fruitful influence in the house of God by word and example; since he taught the precepts of our holy religion even to foreign and barbarian nations, and so recalled a countless multitude of sinners . . . to the right path of the spiritual life."[2] "He was," as Cardinal Baronius writes, "a truly apostolic man, nay, a genuine apostle sent by God, mighty in work and word, everywhere and in all things adding luster to his apostolate through the signs that followed, so that he was in nothing inferior to the great apostles, . . . and should be called . . . at one and the same time an adornment and a mainstay of the Catholic Church."[3]


O God, Who didst give blessed Bernard to Thy people as a minister of eternal salvation: grant, we beseech Thee, that we, who have had him for our teacher on earth, may deserve to have him for our advocate in heaven. Through our Lord.

Prayer Source: 1962 Roman Catholic Daily Missal
Favorite Saint

Since I'm going to start a weekly topic on a saint I wanted to ask a question:

Who is your favorite saint and why?
Why have a Mass for a Deceased Loved One?

Q: What is the Mass?

Mass is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross and for that reason, it is by definition efficacious.  We are present at Calvary.  Rather than merely remembering the life and death of Christ, we are present at it and partake of its eternal fruits which flow to us from the altar when the priest stands in the place of Christ and offers the Eternal Victim on the altar to God.  

Q: What is the value of the Mass?

The Miraculous Value of the Holy Mass is well documented by a number of the saints whose inspiring writings and visions bear testimony to this: “My son, if men only knew the value of the Holy Mass, they would be forever on their knees listening to it” (Padre Pio to Vittorio Chimetto)

The Holy Mass is the renewal of the sacrifice of the Cross”. It is the sacrifice that detains Divine justice, that rules the entire Church, that saves the world. In the hour of death, the Masses that you have devoutly attended will be your greatest consolation. In each Mass the temporal suffering due to your sins is diminished in accordance with the degree of commitment you bring to it. In each Mass, Jesus forgives you the venial sins you have not confessed but have repented. In each Mass, Satan’s dominion over you is reduced. One Mass heard by you in your life does more good than many that may be heard for you after your death. In each Mass, you are given protection against dangers and misfortunes that would otherwise have befallen you. With each Mass your time in Purgatory is reduced. The Holy Sacrifice is the most effective of prayers, over and above all other prayers, good works and penance; by its own virtue it immediately and infallibly produces effect in favour of souls. Each Mass procures for you a higher grade of glory in Heaven. And you are blessed also in your personal affairs and interests. “If we only knew the worth of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass,with how much greater zeal we would listen it” (the Holy Cure of Ars).

“You must be aware, Christian, that the Mass is the most sacred act of religion: you can do nothing more glorious for God, nor more advantageous for your soul, that to piously and as frequently as possible attend Mass” (B.B Eymard)

“It is worth more to hear a single Mass that to distribute all your riches among the poor and to make pilgrimage throughout the whole earth” (St. Bernard).

“The Lord grants us all we ask of him in the Holy Mass, and what’s more, He grants us even what we do not think of asking but which we also need!" (St Girolamo).

“Be sure”, Jesus said to St. Gertrude, “that to the one who listens devoutly to the Holy Mass, in the last moments of life, I will send him many of my Saints to comfort and protect him, in accordance with the Masses he has attended well” (Book 3, chapter 16.)

So to summarize, we wish to make clear that the Mass truly is the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross.  

Q. Since the Mass is the same as the Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, Why Is One Mass Said Not Necessarily Sufficient to Free A Soul From Purgatory?

On this question, The Purgatorian Manual well explains:

"The Sacrifice of the Mass is the great devotion of the Catholic Church, and, of all means to assist the souls in Purgatory, none is more valuable or meritorious; for there Jesus Christ offers Himself and His infinite merits to His Heavenly Father, by the hands of the Priest, in behalf of the suffering souls. The unbloody Sacrifice of the Mass does not essentially differ from the sacrifice of the cross, but only accidentally as to the mode of oblation, and no limit can be placed to the effect of this great sacrifice, which contains in itself all graces. From this inestimable efficacy, however, we may not infer that the offering of one Mass is sufficient to release the souls we love; for, though the Sacrifice on Calvary was infinite, we cannot conclude that the application of it, through the Mass, must also be infinite. St. Thomas Aquinas tells us, it was not the intention of Jesus Christ to bestow the full efficacy of His suffering and death, which is celebrated in every Mass, upon us; His merits are applied according to His Adorable Will, for the ways of God are often inscrutable. It is very salutary, therefore, to have the Holy Sacrifice offered frequently for the repose of a soul. Should the souls who are dear to us, for whom we intercede in this manner, be already in the enjoyment of eternal will bestow the merit of the Masses offered on other suffering souls."

Q: When a Mass is said for the soul of a deceased loved one, does this help lessen the soul's time in purgatory?

A: Just as we pray for others here on earth, we are encouraged by the Church to pray for souls who may be in purgatory. Why? We are all in need of grace to come into the perfection of charity. We cannot enter heaven if we have not been completely cleansed of sin and all punishment due to sin.

Since the Mass is the "source and summit" of the Christian Life, we naturally look to that Holy Sacrifice of Christ, containing the perfect prayer, to offer for our deceased relatives and friends who may still need the help of our prayers. Priests are under a strict obligation to remember in a special way the person for whom the Mass is being offered. Often you will hear the priests say the name of the person in the part of the Mass which specifically remembers those who have gone before us. Sometimes the intention for the Mass is listed in the bulletin or announced before the Mass.

We can't really speak of "time" since the deceased person has entered eternity, but we can speak in terms of "final purification" before entrance into heaven. We believe that a Mass offered for a departed relative or friend may help hasten that final purification which he/she may still be undergoing in purgatory.  So yes, a Mass does help lessen the soul's time in purgatory.

And since the Mass truly is the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross, it is the most perfect prayer and sacrifice.  As such, there is nothing more glorious that we can offer to God on behalf of souls.

Q: How exactly can I have a Mass said for the repose of the soul of a friend/relative?

A: Ask a priest to offer a Mass for the intention of the repose of the soul of your friend or relative. We also highly encourage having Gregorian Masses said for the repose of the deceased. These pious practices are truly worthwhile. For more information on Gregorian Masses and how to have one offered, see the American TFP Website

Separately from Gregorian Masses, see the Regina Caeli Purgatorial Society and enroll as many souls as you would like.  There is no cost. For other places where you can request Tridentine Masses for the souls of the departed, please click here.

Q. What Indulged Prayers May I Offer for the Benefit of my loved one's soul?

For a listing of hundreds of prayers with indulgences and special blessings attached to them, be sure to refer to a copy of the Raccolta oftenAnd for a list of other private works that you can do for the souls of the dead in purgatory (e.g. heroic acts of charity, fasting, etc) please click here.

Related Posts:
Friday, August 19, 2005
More on World Youth Day (August 19)

Today Pope Benedict XVI continued World Youth Day with the Way of the Cross, also called the Stations of the Cross, as well as his visit to a synagogue and his address to seminarians at the Church of St. Pantaleon in Cologne, Germany. He also attended an ecumenical gathering in Cologne today. [False Ecumenism it seems]

Here is his address to the seminarians:

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, Dear Seminarians,

I greet all of you with great affection and gratitude for your festive welcome and particularly for the fact that you have come to this gathering from so many countries the world over. Here we are truly a spectacular image of the Catholic Church in the world.

I thank especially the seminarian, the priest and the Bishop who have given us their own personal witness. I must say that I was moved to see these paths on which the Lord has guided these men in an unexpected way and not according to their own projects.

I cordially thank you and am very pleased to have this meeting. I had asked - and this has already been said - that the programme of these days in Cologne should include a special meeting with young seminarians, so that the vocational dimension would truly emerge in all of its importance, since it plays an evermore important role in the World Youth Days. It seems to be that the rain too that is falling down from heaven is a blessing.

You are seminarians, that is to say, young people devoting an intense period of your lives to seeking a personal relationship with Christ, an encounter with him, in preparation for your important mission in the Church. This is what a seminary is: more than a place, it is a significant time in the life of a follower of Jesus.

I can imagine the echo that resounds in your hearts from the words of the theme of this 20th World Youth Day - "We have come to worship him" - and the entire moving narration of the searching and finding of the Wise Men. Each in his own way - we consider the three witnesses we have just heard - like them, they see a star, set out on their journey, they too must face what is unclear and are able to arrive at their destination under God's guidance.

This evangelical passage of the Wise Men who search out and find Jesus has a special meaning precisely for you, dear seminarians, because you are on an authentic journey, engaged in discerning - and this is a true journey - and confirming your call to the priesthood. Let us pause and reflect on this theme.

Why did the Magi set off from afar to go to Bethlehem? The answer has to do with the mystery of the "star" which they saw "in the East" and which they recognized as the star of the "King of the Jews", that is to say, the sign of the birth of the Messiah (cf. Mt 2: 2). So their journey was inspired by a powerful hope, strengthened and guided by the star, which led them towards the King of the Jews, towards the kingship of God himself. This is the meaning behind our journey: to serve the kingship of God in the world.

The Magi set out because of a deep desire which prompted them to leave everything and begin a journey. It was as though they had always been waiting for that star. It was as if the journey had always been a part of their destiny, and was finally about to begin.

Dear friends, this is the mystery of God's call, the mystery of vocation. It is part of the life of every Christian, but it is particularly evident in those whom Christ asks to leave everything in order to follow him more closely.

The seminarian experiences the beauty of that call in a moment of grace which could be defined as "falling in love". His soul is filled with amazement, which makes him ask in prayer: "Lord, why me?". But love knows no "why"; it is a free gift to which one responds with the gift of self.

The seminary years are devoted to formation and discernment. Formation, as you well know, has different strands which converge in the unity of the person: it includes human, spiritual and cultural dimensions. Its deepest goal is to bring the student to an intimate knowledge of the God who has revealed his face in Jesus Christ.

For this, in-depth study of Sacred Scripture is needed, and also of the faith and life of the Church in which the Scripture dwells as the Word of life. This must all be linked with the questions prompted by our reason and with the broader context of modern life.

Such study can at times seem arduous, but it is an indispensable part of our encounter with Christ and our vocation to proclaim him. All this is aimed at shaping a steady and balanced personality, one capable of receiving validly and fulfilling responsibly the priestly mission.

The role of formators is decisive: the quality of the presbyterate in a particular Church depends greatly on that of the seminary, and consequently on the quality of those responsible for formation.

Dear seminarians, for this very reason we pray today with genuine gratitude for your superiors, professors and educators, who are spiritually present at this meeting. Let us ask the Lord to help them carry out as well as possible the important task entrusted to them.

The seminary years are a time of journeying, of exploration, but above all of discovering Christ. It is only when a young man has had a personal experience of Christ that he can truly understand the Lord's will and consequently his own vocation.

The better you know Jesus the more his mystery attracts you. The more you discover him, the more you are moved to seek him. This is a movement of the Spirit which lasts throughout life, and which makes the seminary a time of immense promise, a true "springtime".

When the Magi came to Bethlehem, "going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him" (Mt 2: 11). Here at last was the long-awaited moment: their encounter with Jesus.

"Going into the house": this house in some sense represents the Church. In order to find the Saviour, one has to enter the house, which is the Church.

During his time in the seminary, a particularly important process of maturation takes place in the consciousness of the young seminarian: he no longer sees the Church "from the outside", but rather, as it were, "from the inside", and he comes to sense that she is his "home", inasmuch as she is the home of Christ, where "Mary his mother" dwells.

It is Mary who shows him Jesus her Son; she introduces him and in a sense enables him to see and touch Jesus, and to take him into his arms. Mary teaches the seminarian to contemplate Jesus with the eyes of the heart and to make Jesus his very life.

Each moment of seminary life can be an opportunity for loving experience of the presence of Our Lady, who introduces everyone to an encounter with Christ in the silence of meditation, prayer and fraternity. Mary helps us to meet the Lord above all in the celebration of the Eucharist, when, in the Word and in the consecrated Bread, he becomes our daily spiritual nourishment.

"They fell down and worshiped him... and offered him gifts: gold, frankincense and myrrh" (Mt 2: 11-12). Here is the culmination of the whole journey: encounter becomes adoration; it blossoms into an act of faith and love which acknowledges in Jesus, born of Mary, the Son of God made man.

How can we fail to see prefigured in this gesture of the Magi the faith of Simon Peter and of the other Apostles, the faith of Paul and of all the saints, particularly of the many saintly seminarians and priests who have graced the 2,000 years of the Church's history?

The secret of holiness is friendship with Christ and faithful obedience to his will. St Ambrose said: "Christ is everything for us"; and St Benedict warned against putting anything before the love of Christ.

May Christ be everything for you. Dear seminarians, be the first to offer him what is most precious to you, as Pope John Paul II suggested in his Message for this World Youth Day: the gold of your freedom, the incense of your ardent prayer, the myrrh of your most profound affection (cf. n. 4).

The seminary years are a time of preparing for mission. The Magi "departed for their own country" and most certainly bore witness to their encounter with the King of the Jews.

You too, after your long, necessary programme of seminary formation, will be sent forth as ministers of Christ; indeed, each of you will return as an alter Christus.

On their homeward journey, the Magi surely had to deal with dangers, weariness, disorientation, doubts. The star was no longer there to guide them! The light was now within them. Their task was to guard and nourish it in the constant memory of Christ, of his Holy Face, of his ineffable Love.

Dear seminarians! One day, God willing, by the consecration of the Holy Spirit you too will begin your mission. Remember always the words of Jesus: "Abide in my love" (Jn 15: 9). If you abide close to Christ, with Christ and in Christ, you will bear much fruit, just as he promised. You have not chosen him - we have just heard this in the witnesses given -, he has chosen you (cf. Jn 15: 16).

Here is the secret of your vocation and your mission! It is kept in the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who watches over each one of you with a mother's love. Have recourse to Mary, often and with confidence.

I assure you of my affection and my daily prayers. And I bless all of you from my heart.

© Copyright 2005 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Image Source: Believed to be in the Public Domain
Some Saintly Topics

I was thinking of starting a weekly project, where we can all talk about a certain saint for that week. I could put up a poll for what saint, and when we have a saint we can talk about their life and debate on their signfigance to the Church. We also can look at devotions to them. I could even learn a lot.

Would anyone here like to participate in this?
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Do Small Things With Great Love

Those words of St. Therese are found through doing the little things in life - like putting a bumper sticker on your car: "Abortion stops a beating heart".

I just read on the blog, Open Wide the Doors to Christ, about a woman that changed her mind on having an abortion just by reading one of those bumper stickers. What a great story of how the little things can be great!
Litany of Humility

I found a prayer online called the "Litany of Humility". Humility is indeed a rare virtue so I felt it wise to share a special prayer for humility. The Beatitudes even mention the grace of being meek and humble in Matthew 5:3-12.

For Private Devotion Only.

O Jesus! Meek and humble of heart, hear me.

From the desire of being esteemed, deliver me Jesus

From the desire of being loved, deliver me Jesus

From the desire of being extolled, deliver me Jesus

From the desire of being honored, deliver me Jesus

From the desire of being praised, deliver me Jesus

From the desire of being preferred, deliver me Jesus

From the desire of being consulted, deliver me Jesus

From the desire of being approved, deliver me Jesus.

From the fear of being humiliated, deliver me Jesus

From the fear of being despised, deliver me Jesus

From the fear of suffering rebukes, deliver me Jesus

From the fear of being calumniated, deliver me Jesus

From the fear of being forgotten, deliver me Jesus

From the fear of being ridiculed, deliver me Jesus

From the fear of being wronged, deliver me Jesus

From the fear of being suspected, deliver me Jesus

That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it

That in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be chosen and I set aside, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be praised and I unnoticed, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be preferred to me in everything, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
World Youth Day Address

Pope Benedict XVI is in Cologne, Germany right now for World Youth Day and can be watched on EWTN. His opening address (in several languages) was very enlightening and welcoming especially the ending where He stated that by inviting Christ into our life we lose nothing but rather Christ will then bring all things in us to perfection. The following is his address from the River Rhine.

Dear young people, the happiness you are seeking, the happiness you have a right to enjoy has a name and a face: it is Jesus of Nazareth, hidden in the Eucharist. Only he gives the fullness of life to humanity! With Mary, say your own "yes" to God, for he wishes to give himself to you.

I repeat today what I said at the beginning of my Pontificate: "If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation" (Homily at the Mass of Inauguration, 24 April 2005).

Be completely convinced of this: Christ takes from you nothing that is beautiful and great, but brings everything to perfection for the glory of God, the happiness of men and women, and the salvation of the world.

In these days I encourage you to commit yourselves without reserve to serving Christ, whatever the cost. The encounter with Jesus Christ will allow you to experience in your hearts the joy of his living and life-giving presence, and enable you to bear witness to it before others. Let your presence in this city be the first sign and proclamation of the Gospel, thanks to the witness of your actions and your joy.

Let us raise our hearts in a hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Father for the many blessings he has given us and for the gift of faith which we will celebrate together, making it manifest to the world from this land in the heart of Europe, a Europe which owes so much to the Gospel and its witnesses down the centuries.

And now I shall go as a pilgrim to the Cathedral of Cologne, to venerate the relics of the holy Magi who left everything to follow the star which was guiding them to the Saviour of the human race. You too, dear young people, have already had, or will have, the opportunity to make the same pilgrimage.

Read more: Vatican

Later in the day, the Holy Father visited the Cathedral in Rome and prayed before the relics of the Magi. Read his address there.

Photo Source: AP Photo/Patrick Hertzog, pool


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