Category Archives: From the Holy See

Potpourri: The world needs heroes!

Inspired by my incredibly creative friend Maggie and her beloved “Clippings” posts over at Ten Thousand Places, I thought I’d try out a similar series of posts on this blog. Each Potpourri post will consist of a list of miscellaneous links, photos, videos, quotes, and/or other tidbits I came across during the week that I thought might interest you all. Let me know what you think!

March for Life 2011

March for Life 2011: Mary marching toward the Capitol.

First things first: everyone ought to pray in a special way this weekend for all those who will be standing up for LIFE at the March for Life in Washington, D.C., as well as at local marches around the country. (For readers outside the U.S., January 22 is the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States in 1973. Current estimates say that hundreds of thousands of pro-life marchers take to the streets of our capital each year to be witnesses for LIFE.) The world needs heroes who will be a voice for the voiceless!

Speaking of heroes, I was inspired and touched by two articles that came in one of my “Daily Dispatches” from Zenit this week: one about persecuted clergy being unjustly detained by the Chinese government, and another about the ministry of maritime chaplains in Italy following the Costa Concordia cruise ship tragedy. The life of the priest is, by nature, a heroic life – not because it wins the priest acclaim and earthly glory (quite the contrary, actually). No, the life of the priest is heroic because of what it requires: a total death to self for his beloved, the Church.

Of course, all of the faithful are called to be heroic in their own way. I have always taken great delight in the Church teaching which affirms that heroic sanctity can be achieved in every state of life, in every situation, in every vocation (cf. Lumen Gentium 39). Catholic blogger Simcha Fisher has posted a beautifully-written reflection on the sufferings and joys of being a mother of many (nine!) children: To the Mother With Only One Child.

And now for the most pressing issue of the day: by now I’m sure you’ve all heard (at least, readers residing in the U.S. will have heard) about the deeply disturbing statement put forth by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) yesterday. You can find a few worthwhile Catholic commentaries about this serious (albeit not unforeseen) threat to religious liberty here, here and here. While I am indeed disturbed by this turn of events, I take great comfort in two things.

First, Church leadership is on alert and fully aware of the gravity of the situation. Just days ago (incidentally, the day before HHS published their statement) Pope Benedict addressed a group of bishops from the United States with these words:

“The Church’s witness, then, is of its nature public: she seeks to convince by proposing rational arguments in the public square. The legitimate separation of Church and State cannot be taken to mean that the Church must be silent on certain issues, nor that the State may choose not to engage, or be engaged by, the voices of committed believers in determining the values which will shape the future of the nation.

“In the light of these considerations, it is imperative that the entire Catholic community in the United States come to realize the grave threats to the Church’s public moral witness presented by a radical secularism which finds increasing expression in the political and cultural spheres. The seriousness of these threats needs to be clearly appreciated at every level of ecclesial life.”

(You can read the Holy Father’s entire address on Cardinal-elect Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, is also taking a public stand against this outrage. Check it out:

According to this article from the National Catholic Reporter (HT to American Papist), President Obama had the audacity to call Archbp. Dolan to “tell him the news” when the HHS statement went out:

“NCR has learned that the President called Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. bishops’ conference, this morning to tell him the news. Wouldn’t you have liked to be on an extension to listen in on that conversation. The president looked Dolan in the eye in November and said he would be pleased with his decision [regarding conscience protection legislation]. I am guessing that Dolan is not pleased.”

Well, if that isn’t the understatement of the century! (NB: I do not look to the National Catholic Reporter for authentically Catholic news and commentary – though I did find the aforementioned article helpful. You’d be better off getting your Catholic news from the National Catholic Register.)

I also find a great deal of consolation (as I always do) in remembering that no matter what happens in our country and in our world, we always have Our Lord and our Blessed Mother, we always have the Church, we always have the Communion of Saints. The world needs heroes – and thank goodness, we have them: we have the saints!

On that note, I wanted to share this fantastic quote by St. Augustine (HT to Ten Thousand Places and Happy Catholic). Let it be a reminder to us all, especially as we enter into the thick of what my be the United States’ most divisive, most frightening, most crucial election season yet:

Saint Augustine - Botticelli (detail)

Botticelli, St. Augustine (detail)

“Bad times, hard times – this what people keep saying; but let us live well, and times shall be good. We are the times. Such as we are, such are the times.”

– St. Augustine of Hippo



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On the Calendar: The Epiphany of Our Lord

N.B. for readers outside the United States: The traditional date for the celebration of Epiphany is January 6, but here in the United States, this feast is “translated” (yep, that’s how you say it) each year to the Sunday which falls between January 2 and January 8 (i.e. today). The Baptism of the Lord is celebrated on the following day (Monday).


O come, let us adore Him!

“The Epiphany recalls a plurality of events whose object is the manifestation of the Lord: particularly the adoration of the Magi, who recognize in Jesus the awaited Messiah, but also the Baptism in the river Jordan with its theophany – the voice of God from heaven – and the miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana, as the first ‘sign’ wrought by Christ.

“A most beautiful antiphon from the Liturgy of the Hours unites these three events around the theme of the marriage between Christ and the Church: ‘Today the Church hath been joined to her heavenly Spouse, for Christ hath washed away her sins in the Jordan; the Magi hasten with gifts to the royal nuptials, and the guests are gladdened with wine made from water’ (Antiphon from Lauds). We could almost say that, in the feast of Christmas, it is the hiddenness of God in the humility of the human condition, in the Child of Bethlehem, which is underscored. The Epiphany, instead, emphasizes His Self-manifestation, God’s appearing by means of this same humanity.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, January 6, 2012

You can read the Holy Father’s entire catechesis on

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A Very Merry Christmas to All!

Ragin Cajun Catholics O Come Let Us Adore Him

Image credit: Trey Petitjean, from the Ragin Cajun Catholics Facebook page (

“At Christmas we encounter the tenderness and love of God, who stoops down to our limitations, to our weakness, to our sins – and He lowers Himself to us. St. Paul affirms that Jesus Christ ‘though He was in the form of God … emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men’ (Philippians 2:6-7). Let us look upon the cave of Bethlehem: God lowers Himself to the point of being laid in a manger – which is already a prelude of His self-abasement in the hour of His Passion. The climax of the love story between God and man passes by way of the manger of Bethlehem and the sepulcher of Jerusalem.

“Dear brothers and sisters, let us joyously live the feast of Christmas… Let us live this wondrous event: The Son of God again is born ‘today’; God is truly close to each one of us, and He wants to meet us – He wants to bring us to Himself. He is the true Light, which dispels and dissolves the darkness enveloping our lives and mankind. Let us live the Lord’s birth by contemplating the path of God’s immense love, which raised us to Himself through the mystery of the Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection of His Son… Above all, let us contemplate and live this Mystery in the celebration of the Eucharist, the heart of Christmas; there, Jesus makes Himself really present – as the true Bread come down from heaven, as the true Lamb sacrificed for our salvation.”

– Pope Benedict XVI,  General Audience, 21 December 2011

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The Pope’s Wednesday Catechesis: Wrestling with God

Doré, Jacob Wrestling the Angel, 1855

G. Doré, Jacob Wrestling the Angel, 1855

“And Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day…”

(Genesis 32:24)

I have always been intrigued by this passage, and I have long wondered what it could mean. According to the Holy Father, it is meant to teach us about prayer – specifically, about perseverance and humility in prayer. Jacob “wins” the battle, but only after he surrenders to the One he’s striving against:

“Jacob therefore prevailed, he triumphed – it is the adversary himself who affirms it – but his new identity, received by the same adversary, affirms and testifies to God’s triumph. When in turn, Jacob will ask his contender’s name, he will refuse to pronounce it, but he will reveal himself in an unequivocal gesture, by giving him his blessing. That blessing which the patriarch had asked at the beginning of the battle is now granted him. And it is not the blessing grasped by deception, but that given freely by God, which Jacob is able to receive because now he is alone, without protection, without cunning and deception. He gives himself over unarmed; he accepts surrendering himself and confessing the truth about himself. And so, at the end of the battle, having received the blessing, the patriarch is able finally to recognize the other, the God of the blessing: ‘I have seen God face to face’ … and now he can cross the ford, the bearer of a new name but ‘conquered’ by God and marked forever, limping from the wound he received.”

We can only receive God’s blessing when, in our prayer, we stop trying to deceive Him and admit to who we really are. Such a difficult lesson – but a necessary one, if we want our prayer to effect its purpose; that is, if we want our prayer to leave us, like Jacob, transformed and “marked forever” by our encounter with God.

You can find the Holy Father’s entire reflection on – definitely a worthwhile read!


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World Day of Prayer for Vocations

“The Lord does not fail to call people at every stage of life to share in his mission and to serve the Church in the ordained ministry and in the consecrated life. … Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by ‘other voices’ and His invitation to follow Him by the gift of one’s own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs consciously to feel responsibility for promoting vocations.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations 2011

Read the rest of the Holy Father’s message on, and pray for vocations!

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Pope Benedict on BBC Radio

I’m a little late in posting this as well, but I couldn’t resist. I just love listening to the Holy Father’s voice! As a writer, I know the power of the written word, but I feel like the spoken word has a power all its own – especially when it’s a word spoken by the Vicar of Christ.

The message is addressed to listeners in the UK, but toward the end he gives a shout-out to listeners “from every part of the English-speaking world,” which of course means you and me!

You can find a transcript of his message on

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Pope’s Christmas message: “God is not distant”

C. LeBrun, Nativity, 1689

C. LeBrun, Nativity, 1689

“God is not distant: He is ‘Emmanuel,’ God-with-us. He is no stranger: He has a face, the face of Jesus.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, 2010 Christmas message

Merry Christmas! I know I’m a little late… Then again, it’s only the third day of the Octave, which means that for Catholics, it’s still technically Christmas Day. Every time I hear a song that wonders what it would be like “if every day could be Christmas,” I always wonder: haven’t they ever heard of the Octave of Christmas? For eight days, it really is Christmas every day!

You can read the full text of the Holy Father’s Christmas message on

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A thought for Christmas Eve: “We must let ourselves be amazed”

From this week’s Wednesday audience:

“In the night of the world, we must let ourselves be amazed and illumined by this act of God, which is totally unexpected: God becomes a Child. We must let ourselves be amazed, illumined by the Star that inundated the universe with joy. May the Child Jesus, in coming to us, not find us unprepared, busy only in making the exterior reality more beautiful and attractive. May the care we give to making our streets and homes more resplendent impel us even more to predispose our soul to encounter Him who will come to visit us.”

– Pope Benedict XVI

Read the full article on

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The Holy Father on Consecrated Life

In an address last Friday, Pope Benedict explained that while the “vocations crisis” in the Church must be taken seriously, we need not fear that consecrated life will ever disappear from the Church:

“Consecrated life as such has its origin in the Lord Himself, who chose for Himself this form of virgin life, poor and obedient. … That is why consecrated life can never be lacking or die in the Church: it was desired by Jesus Himself as irremovable part of His Church.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican City, November 5, 2010

Read the full article on

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The Holy Father’s Letter to Seminarians

“God is alive. He has created every one of us and He knows us all. He is so great that He has time for the little things in our lives: ‘Every hair of your head is numbered.’ God is alive, and He needs people to serve Him and bring Him to others. It does make sense to become a priest: the world needs priests… today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time.”

— Pope Benedict XVI, Letter to Seminarians at the Conclusion of the Year for Priests, October 18, 2010

Read the whole letter here.

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