Tag Archives: Pope Benedict XVI

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 Zenit.org.) 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



Filed under From the Holy See, In the News, Other Blogs, Potpourri, Quotes, Videos

At Long Last: Photos from Rome!

“What is the first reaction to the extraordinary action of God, who becomes a babe, who becomes man? I think that the first reaction can be none other than joy… [Joy] is the theme that opens the Gospel, and it is the theme that concludes it… But let us go one step further: where does this joy come from? I would say that it is born of the heart’s wonder in seeing how close God is to us, how God thinks of us, how God acts in history; it is a joy, then, that comes from contemplating the face of that humble Child, because we know that it is the Face of God present to humanity forever – for us and with us. Christmas is joy because we see – and at last we are sure – that God is man’s good, his life and his truth; and He lowers Himself to man in order that He might raise man to Himself: God becomes close enough to see and touch.

– Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, January 6, 2012 (emphases mine)

Without a doubt, this was the most joy-filled Christmas I have ever celebrated. Not to be dramatic or anything, but 2011 was probably the hardest year of my life thus far – and I suppose it was precisely for that reason that I was able to approach the Christmas season with such a deep thirst for Jesus. I had never before been so desperate for Him to come into my heart, and by the time Christmas Eve rolled around, I was so fed-up with everything and so exhausted from trying to “have it all together” that I felt as though I didn’t have any words left with which to pray. So I went back to that psalm which had become the song of my soul all through Advent, and prayed:

“Restore unto me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”

(Psalm 51:12)

It was a prayer from the heart – and even though the Lord has indeed been good to me throughout my life, I never could have imagined just how good He would be to me this Christmas! Spending the Octave of Christmas in Italy with four of my dearest friends sounds amazing – but I’m telling you, I never could have foreseen how much the Lord would use that week to refresh my soul and restore my joy.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few dozen of my favorites.*

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The first fifteen photos are from the two days we spent in Assisi. We took a train from Rome and stayed at a guesthouse owned by the Secular Franciscans, who gave us a fantastic tour of the Basilica of St. Francis on our second day. We were able to go to Mass at both Basilicas (St. Francis and St. Clare), as well as visit Francis’ family home, the Cathedral of St. Rufino of Assisi (where Francis and Clare were baptized), San Damiano (Clare’s first convent), and the Porziuncola (the tiny chapel that Francis rebuilt) in St. Mary of the Angels. I got in some really great prayer time at Francis and Clare’s tombs, and it was just the most tremendous blessing to be able to tell them “thank you” in person.

The rest of the photos are from our time in Rome – and yes, that is a photo of Pope Benedict (near the end of the slideshow) celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s! We were able to attend Solemn Vespers with the Holy Father on New Year’s Eve and Mass with him on New Year’s Day, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God. (Mario used his “seminarian magic” to score tickets for both.) What a gift!

I have to say, though – the greatest gift of the entire trip for me was the presence of Mario, Peter-George, Pius and Etsy. Words can’t say how grateful I am for their kindness, love and laughter. My life simply would not be the same if any one of them were not in it.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

– St. Thomas Aquinas


* All photos are mine – except the photos I’m in, of course! (For those who don’t know me in “real life,” I’m the blonde girl with glasses!)

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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 Zenit.org.

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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 (www.facebook.com/ragincajuncatholics)

“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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World Youth Day Pilgrimage, Part Four: MADRID

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Highlights of our three days in the Spanish capital:

  • Praying the Way of the Cross on Friday evening and hearing Pope Benedict speak to us for the first time! I was really moved by his words about suffering:

“Christ’s passion urges us to take upon our own shoulders the sufferings of the world, in the certainty that God is not distant or far removed from man and his troubles.  On the contrary, He became one of us ‘in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way — in flesh and blood … hence in all human suffering, we are joined by One who experiences and carries that suffering with us…'”

You can read the Holy Father’s whole address here.
  • Singing hymns of thanksgiving under the stars
  • Running into a priest-friend of mine from the States (remember Fr. Timothy?) on the metro. With 2 million pilgrims running around Madrid, imagine the chances!
  • Walking the 5 km or so to the Cuatro Vientos airfield (and enjoying it!) as we watched pilgrims from all over the world marching and clapping and joyfully singing, “each of them in their own native language” (cf. Acts 2:9)
  • Finding a group of friends from my mission year – some of whom I hadn’t seen in over 2 years! – in the multitude of 2 million pilgrims at Cuatro Vientos. What a precious gift, straight from the heart of Jesus!
  • Listening to the Holy Father greet his “dear young people” in 7 different languages
  • Adoring our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament with the young Church and our beloved Shepherd. Hearing all those voices singing “Tantum Ergo” was, for me, a little glimpse of what Heaven will be like – when we will praise God with one voice…
  • Camping out under an escalator (yes, on the floor) in the Barajas Airport. I know it sounds miserable, but we were just happy to be somewhere warm and dry, away from all that crazy weather!
  • Mass in the airport chapel with lots of other pilgrims. We sang impromptu hymns in Spanish, Italian, Latin and English – another beautiful experience of unity in the Body of Christ.
  • Running into yet another friend from my mission year in the airport! I have no doubt that the Lord arranged all these “chance meetings” with loved ones at WYD. He knew how much seeing them would refresh my soul!

Madrid was, in a word: unforgettable.

Click here for Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

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Potpourri: I love the Pope, Dominican Vocations, Happy Priests!

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!

  • I just now got around to reading the Holy Father’s address to young women religious at World Youth Day in Madrid. LOVE this quote (emphases mine):

“Gospel radicalism means being ‘rooted and built up in Christ, and firm in the faith’ (cf. Col 2:7). In the consecrated life, this means going to the very root of the love of Jesus Christ with an undivided heart, putting nothing ahead of this love (cf. St. Benedict, Rule, IV, 21) and being completely devoted to Him, the Bridegroom, as were the saints… Your lives must testify to the personal encounter with Christ which has nourished your consecration, and to all the transforming power of that encounter. … In a world of relativism and mediocrity, we need that radicalism to which your consecration, as a way of belonging to the God who is loved above all things, bears witness.”

– Pope Benedict XVI, Meeting with Young Religious, 19 August 2011
Nuns at World Youth Day in Madrid

There were LOTS of young nuns at World Youth Day in Madrid!

  • More good news from the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia in Nashville, TN: 1 sister recently made final vows, 15 novices made first vows in July, 24 received the holy habit and began their novitiate (including a friend from my hometown, now Sr. Malia Grace!), and 16 new postulants entered in August. Deo gratias!
  • A spunky young blogger reflects on the journey that led her to enter the Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, MI: “Why I’m Joining the Habit-Wearing, Rock Star Sisters” (Ha!) And just for the record, this is yet another proof that in the Young Catholic Church, “six degrees of separation” do not apply; it’s always more like one or two degrees. Exhibit A: Meris has just entered the same convent where a dear, dear friend of mine from college (Sr. Mary Martha!) just began her novitiate. Exhibit B: Meris’ high school friend, Brother James Claver, was a missionary with me in Honduras back in 2008. In both cases, it’s just one degree! Crazy!
  • Meris’ friend Carolina, who also entered the Sisters of Mary this fall, has shared a beautiful “glory story” on her blog about the generous donors who paid off her student loan debt so she could enter the convent. Praise God!
  • Clergy are ranked #1 on a list of the “Ten Happiest Jobs,” based on a survey conducted by the National Organization for Research at the University of Chicago. I always love to hear the clergy that I know describe their job as “being a happy priest!”
Happy Seminarians

Happy Seminarians. I have no idea who took this photo, but I just love it!

That’s all for now. Look for another I’m-so-excited-about-vocations! linkfest next week!


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On the Calendar: Our Lady of Sorrows

Sorrowful Mother antique holy card

“Let us turn our gaze now to the Virgin Mary, who was given to us on Calvary to be our Mother, and let us ask her to sustain us with her loving protection along the path of life, particularly when we pass through the night of suffering, so that we may be able to remain steadfast, as she did, at the foot of the Cross.”

Pope Benedict XVI, WYD Madrid, August 19, 2011


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Pope Benedict on his World Youth Day experience: “I thank God for this precious gift”

Hello, everybody! I am back from pilgrimage, alive and well, still trying to get over jet lag and prepare for my first theology classes of the semester (which start tomorrow). As promised, I have lots of photos and stories to share, I just haven’t had time to post them. For now, I’d like to share a bit of the Holy Father’s reflection on his experience at WYD:

“I thank God for this precious gift, which gives hope for the future of the Church: young people with the unwavering and sincere desire to root their lives in Christ, to remain firm in the faith, and to walk together with the Church. …

“[T]he meeting in Madrid was, first and foremost, a marvelous demonstration of faith – for Spain and for the world. For the multitude of young people who had come from every corner of the world, it was a special occasion to reflect, discuss, exchange positive experiences and, above all, to pray together and to renew their commitment to root their own lives in Christ, the Faithful Friend. … For my part, I continue to accompany them in prayer, so that they might remain faithful to the commitments they have assumed. I entrust the fruits of this Day to the maternal intercession of Mary.”

The latest estimates say there were almost 2 million of us there. INCREDIBLE!

Mary, Mother of the Church, pray that the seeds planted in our hearts at this blessed event would bear much fruit!

You can read Pope Benedict’s reflection in its entirety on Zenit.org.

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Novena for the Pope and for Priests: Day 1

I am sure that by now all of you have heard the distressing news about Fr. Corapi leaving the priesthood. He has been on my mind and heart all week, and I’ve gone back and forth a thousand times about whether I wanted to say anything about him on the blog. Today I realized that the only thing I want to say is this: guys, we have to pray for our priests.

And by “pray for our priests” I don’t just mean “mention them in our prayers every now and then, when we happen to remember to pray for them or when Fr. So-and-So looks like he’s having a particularly rough day.” I’m talking about a personal commitment to intercede for them daily, by name, with the particular intention of praying for their holiness, their perseverance, and their protection from the enemy.

I have long felt that spiritual motherhood for priests was an important part of my vocation (more about that in another post!), and for years I have prayed for the priests in my life as best I knew how – but now it seems as though the Lord is inviting me to do more for them. From now on, I want to be more fervent in my prayers, more generous with my sacrifices, and more willing to suffer for their sakes. The whole sad situation surrounding Fr. Corapi has left me more convinced than ever of the tremendous need priests have of our prayers – particularly those priests who struggle most to be faithful to their vocation, those who suffer most (physically, emotionally, spiritually), those who are most tempted, those who are trapped in patterns of sin, those who are persecuted, those who have no one to support or encourage them, those who are closest to death, and most of all, those who have left the priesthood.

I read on Zenit.org this week that the Congregation for the Clergy is encouraging Catholics to participate in prayer vigils for Pope Benedict XVI as he prepares to celebrate his 60th anniversary of ordination on June 29. We are being asked to pray not only for the Holy Father, but for all of the clergy:

In addition to praying for the Pope’s life, health, happiness and protection from every evil, the faithful are asked to pray for bishops, priests, deacons and all ministers of the Gospel, that they may be faithful to their vocation and their self-giving, and to remember the Church, vocations, the laity and deceased priests.

The “prayer campaign” is set to conclude next Friday, July 1, the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which was designated by Pope John Paul II in 2002 as a special day of prayer for priests.

I’ve decided that over these next nine days, I will post a “novena” of my favorite prayers for priests – a different prayer each day. (Obviously this is not a novena in the traditional sense, but I really wanted to share all of these beautiful prayers with you, not just one!) Please join me in praying for the Holy Father, for Fr. Corapi, and for all priests.

This first prayer is my favorite prayer for priests. I keep a copy of it in my breviary and pray it each night after Compline.

Mother Teresa’s Prayer for Priests

Mother Teresa praying

Mary, Mother of Jesus, throw your mantle of purity over our priests. Protect them, guide them, and keep them in your heart. Be a Mother to them, especially in times of discouragement and loneliness. Love them, and keep them belonging completely to Jesus. Like Jesus, they too are your sons, so keep their hearts pure and virginal. Keep their minds filled with Jesus, and put Jesus always on their lips, so that He is the One they offer to sinners and to all they meet.

Mary, Mother of Jesus, be their Mother, loving them and bringing them joy. Take special care of sick and dying priests and the ones most tempted. Remember how they spent their youth and old age, their entire lives serving and giving all to Jesus.

Mary, bless them and keep a special place for them in your heart. Give them a piece of your heart, so beautiful and pure and immaculate, so full of love and humility, so that they too can grow in the likeness of Christ. Mary, make them humble like you and holy like Jesus. Amen.

Lord, give us priests! Give us holy priests! Give us many holy priests!

Mary, Mother of Vocations, pray for us!

St. Joseph, Guardian of Vocations, pray for us!

All you angels and saints of God, pray for us!


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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 Zenit.org – definitely a worthwhile read!


Filed under From the Holy See, Reflections