Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Fifth Glorious Mystery: The Coronation

Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death (CCC, 966).
What should we envision when we think of Mary, “Queen over all things?” One might look to the book of Revelation for help: “And a great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (12:1). Mary said “yes” to the will of God, and for her part in the history of salvation she was fully honored and glorified in heaven. She became our Queen, our Mother in Heaven, our Guardian in all things, and our Star of the New Evangelization.

While meditating on the crowning of Our Lady Queen of Heaven, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

It is the end of Mary’s month of May, and we have now come to the end of our Rosary. Conclude by reciting the Hail Holy Queen and by making a Sign of the Cross:
Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness, and our hope.  To you we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To you we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.  Turn then, O most gracious advocate, your eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of your womb, Jesus. O clement! O loving! O sweet Virgin Mary!

Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Happy Feast of the Visitation!

"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lk 1:45).
With this greeting, the elderly Elizabeth exalts her young kinswoman Mary, who has come, humble and modest, to help her. Under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, the mother of the Baptist is the first in the history of the Church to begin to proclaim the marvels that God has brought about in the girl from Nazareth, and sees fully realized in Mary the bliss of faith, because she has believed there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.
At the close of the Marian month, in this splendid Roman evening, at this place which reminds us of the Lourdes grotto, we must reflect, beloved Sisters and. Brothers, on what was the fundamental interior attitude of the Blessed Virgin with regard to God: her faith. Mary believed! She believed in the Lord's words, transmitted to her by the Angel Gabriel; at the Annunciation, her pure heart, already given entirely to God from her childhood, dilated in the generous and unconditional "Fiat" with which she agreed to become the Mother of the Messiah and Son of God. From that moment, taking her place more and more deeply in God's plan, she will let herself be led by the hand by mysterious Providence and for her whole life, rooted in faith, she will follow her Son spiritually, becoming his first and perfect "disciple" and carry-out in everyday life the requirements involved in following Jesus according to his own words: "Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me, cannot be my disciple" (Lk 14:27).
Homily of Blessed John Paul II, May 31 1979 
Mary Our Mother, on this special feast of the Visitation, we join with Pope Benedict XVI in asking you to be a guide to missionaries throughout the world.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Priests just keep getting younger…

‘Tis the season for ordinations, and what a season it has been! According to a survey from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, the “2012 priesthood ordination class continues a six-year trend towards younger priests.” Two-thirds of the men ordained this year are between the ages of 25 and 34!

When speaking to the priests, religious, and seminarians in Malawi in May 1989, Blessed John Paul II said:
In a special way I commend to you young men the closing words of this evening’s Gospel: “You did not choose me, but I chose you” (John 15:16). Yes, the gift of a vocation to the priesthood is not something you seek for yourselves. It has nothing to do with status or privilege as the world understands these things. Your great privilege will be to lay down your lives with Christ the eternal priest if you are truly called to this vocation. May God help each of you to discern His will so that you too may “Go out to bear fruit, fruit that will last.”
Congratulations to all of our new priests, and thank you. We will keep you in our prayers here at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine

Holy Spirit leads us through personal conversions and dark nights

Pope Benedict XVI has had some inspiring things to say about a variety of topics this past week.

Last Thursday, the pontiff addressed a group of bishops from Italy, reminding them that personal holiness is the first step in re-converting Europe. This interior conversion builds the foundation for living the New Evangelization. He said:
The fundamental condition in order to be able to speak about God is to speak with God, increasingly to become men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and molded by his grace.
An intimate relationship with God is vital if we are to fight evil in this world, and so are “dark nights.” Earlier last week, Pope Benedict addressed those times in his life when things were not all joyful and wonderful, and he thanked God for the good that came out of them.

The Holy Spirit gives us these conversions and “dark nights,” and it is His love that gets us through. The Spirit also gives the Church unity, which is ever more important in this age of the New Evangelization. On Pentecost, Pope Benedict said:
…unity can only exist as a gift of God’s Spirit who will give us a new heart and a new language, a new ability to communicate.
Come Holy Spirit, then. Unite this Church in Christ’s love, and give us what we need to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Fourth Glorious Mystery: The Assumption

The Most Blessed Virgin Mary, when the course of her earthly life was completed, was taken up body and soul into the glory of heaven, where she already shares in the glory of her Son's Resurrection, anticipating the resurrection of all members of his Body (CCC, 974).
Remember in the Gospel of Luke, when Mary exclaims, "Henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me" (1:48-49)? Mary is so pure, so blessed, so holy, so lovely—that every part of her was swept up into the Kingdom of Heaven when her life on earth was complete. She is now united with her Son, and every day she lovingly protects His Church as a shining example and powerful intercessor.

While meditating on Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Third Glorious Mystery: The Descent of the Holy Spirit

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:1-4).
On this day the Church celebrates Pentecost. This is the day when the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles, giving them the gifts of wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord. They were given everything necessary in order to fulfill Jesus’ commands.

Blessed John Paul II reflected upon the descent of the Holy Spirit during his 1979 Mass at Victory Square in Poland:
The liturgy of the evening of Saturday the Vigil of Pentecost takes us to the Upper Room in Jerusalem, where the Apostles, gathered around Mary the Mother of Christ, were on the following day to receive the Holy Spirit. They were to receive the Spirit obtained for them by Christ through the Cross, in order that through the power of this Spirit they might fulfil his command: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you" (Mt 28:19-20). Before Christ the Lord left the world, he transmitted to the Apostles with these words his last recommendation, his "missionary mandate".
In the face of a Communist regime which worked tirelessly to take God out of the Poland’s past, present, and future, Blessed John Paul II then fearlessly called for a “second baptism”—a baptism that would change the history of the twentieth century and eventually lead to the fall of Communism:

Saturday, May 26, 2012

St. Philip Neri, Pray for Us!

In his Wednesday Catechesis last week, Pope Benedict XVI addressed those who are struggling to pray. He said:
…prayer is above all the work of the Holy Spirit within our hearts, the fruit of God’s presence within us. The Spirit comes to the aid of our weakness, teaching us to pray to the Father through the Son. In the eighth chapter of the Letter to the Romans, Paul tells us that the Spirit intercedes for us, unites us to Christ and enables us to call God our Father. In our prayer, the Holy Spirit grants us the glorious freedom of the children of God, the hope and strength to remain faithful to the Lord amid our daily trials and tribulations, and a heart attentive to the working of God’s grace in others and in the world around us.
There are times in our lives when prayer becomes difficult, and usually these times are when we need God most. Simply asking the Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray is a strong prayer in itself, bound to bring us hope and strength.

St. Philip Neri, whose feast we celebrate today, often asked for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. One time in prayer, while he was earnestly seeking the Holy Spirit, a flame entered his mouth and took a place in his chest. His heart miraculously caught fire, and after bearing his breast to cool himself, St. Philip joyously felt his heart swell. Doctors later discovered that his heart dilated due to the sudden impulse of heavenly love.

The Holy Spirit gives us amazing gifts when we sincerely ask for them. As we prepare for Pentecost, let us ask the Holy Spirit for fruitful prayers and hearts ablaze with love for God and man.

St. Philip Neri, pray for us!

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Pope addresses communication, silently

Last Sunday the Church celebrated the 46th World Communications Day. Pope Benedict XVI’s message for the occasion, which was released on the feast of St. Francis de Sales (the patron saint of writers), reminded those immersed in the world of communications that words must come with silence:

…silence and word: two aspects of communication which need to be kept in balance, to alternate and to be integrated with one another if authentic dialogue and deep closeness between people are to be achieved.
Silence allows us to listen, Pope Benedict said, and it allows us to better understand ourselves. It leads to “deeper human relationships,” giving us the space to discern what is meaningful and what is sincere. Quiet reflection also allows us to discover links and justly evaluate topics, which gives way to more thoughtful opinions, rooted in wisdom.

Pope Benedict pointed out that silence can help us find the truth amongst search engines and social networks, where most people go for answers in the modern world. Communication today is often fueled by questions, he said, and:
Ultimately, this constant flow of questions demonstrates the restlessness of human beings, ceaselessly searching for truths, of greater or lesser import, that can offer meaning and hope to their lives. Men and women cannot rest content with a superficial and unquestioning exchange of skeptical opinions and experiences of life – all of us are in search of truth and we share this profound yearning today more than ever…

Monday, May 21, 2012

Congratulations, Archbishop Lori!

Last Wednesday, Archbishop William E. Lori was installed as the 16th bishop of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the nation’s Premier See. Archbishop Lori, who serves as Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, will now lead a new flock just a stone’s throw from Washington D.C.

Keep him in your prayers and hearts this week and he begins in his new role.

Catholic unity in the American Church

The last round of U.S. Bishops made their ad limina visit this past week, and Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to greet bishops of the Eastern Churches of the United States. Their presence represented the rich diversity of the Church in America, the pontiff said, which is something that needs to be fostered and preserved. This Catholic unity should not be forgotten, especially when working with immigrants and consecrated women. He said:
...the Church in America has struggled to recognize and incorporate this diversity, and has succeeded, not without difficulty, in forging a communion in Christ and in the apostolic faith which mirrors the catholicity which is an indefectible mark of the Church.
We are one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, and Pope Benedict XVI reminded U.S. Bishops that it must be kept this way in the American Church.

Check out the New Evangelization page of the Blessed John Paul II Shrine website for more messages from Pope Benedict XVI.

Friday, May 18, 2012

There's no formula for the New Evangelization

Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI urged Christians to be steadfast in their faith and to actively participate in the New Evangelization. During morning Mass in Tuscany, he said:
Be ferment in society, be present as Christians, be active and coherent…The whole Church is sent out into the world to preach the Gospel and salvation.
Preaching the Gospel is our responsibility. The New Evangelization calls upon the whole Church to bring Christ to the world. It is a re-evangelization of sorts, in which Christians are first invited to re-discover their identity in Christ and then share this unique experience with the people around them. This is described in the lineamenta prepared for the October Synod for the New Evangelization:
…the Christian must never forego a sense of boldness in proclaiming the Gospel and seeking every positive way to provide avenues for dialogue, where people's deepest expectations and their thirst for God can be discussed.
This is a serious calling, and it can be intimidating. Thoughts of inadequacy creep into many hearts as people wonder who it is they can reach out to and how effective they can be with little knowledge of the faith.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Second Glorious Mystery: The Ascension

So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mk 16:19).
On this day the Church celebrates the Ascension of Christ into heaven. The One who came from the Father returns to the Father at last, and takes a seat at His right hand.

Blessed John Paul II spoke of the Ascension on this solemnity in 1979, early in his pontificate. He said:

… the meaning of the Ascension is found in this phrase: Jesus took his place. After having undergone the humiliation of his passion and death, Jesus took his place at the right-hand of God; he took his place with his eternal Father. But he also entered heaven as our Head. Whereupon, in the expression of Leo the Great, the glory of the Head became the hope of the body. For all eternity Christ takes his place as the firstborn among many brethren: our nature is with God in Christ. And as man, the Lord Jesus lives for ever to intercede for us with the Father. At the same time, from his throne of glory, Jesus sends out to the whole Church a message of hope and a call to holiness.
Christ was raised in glory, and one can imagine how much joy this gave Mary and the Apostles. His Ascension should fill us with wonder and joy as well.

While meditating on Christ’s Ascension into heaven, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cardinal Dolan, one of world’s most influential people

Jesus Christ received a toast at the Time 100 Gala last month. New York’s Cardinal Dolan was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine, and he was given the opportunity to cite Jesus Christ as one of the people who had the most impact on in his life:

I admit that he is a bewildering person—true God, yet true man; God’s Son, yet born in a stable; architect to the world yet without a home of his own; creator of the world’s resources, yet himself possessing only the seamless garments he wore for which the executioners cast lots; a king whose throne was a cross and whose crown was of thorns coming to bring mercy but himself condemned to death; dead at a mere 33 yet alive forever; a man of peace whose followers have tragically waged violence in his most holy name; a man of love whose heart is still broken by the sin, the hatred and division in the members of the Church he founded—even in its leaders, myself included.

Yet, he never gives up on us, asking only our love, our faith and our trust.

So I toast him this evening, in this very distinguished company, as my Lord and Savior. I toast him as well as my best friend, the most influential person in my life.
What a great gift for the Church and the New Evangelization! Cardinal Dolan works tirelessly to make Christ more approachable and relevant in today’s world, and he does it with such charity and poise.

Happy Feast of St. Matthias!

During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said,“My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms:
‘Let his encampment become desolate,
and may no one dwell in it.’
‘May another take his office.’
Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.
Acts of the Apostles 1:15-26
St. Matthias, you experienced the Lord’s life and resurrection. Please intercede for us, that we may be like you in our witness and commitment to Christ.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Our Lady of Fatima, Pray for Us

The Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of Fatima on May 13. Blessed John Paul II had a strong devotion to Our Lady of Fatima, and he was convinced that it was her intercession that saved his life after the assassination attempt in 1981.

In a homily during the consecration Mass of the Church of Our Lady of Fatima in Poland, Blessed John Paul II said:
The message of Fatima, which Mary gave to the world through three poor children, consists in an exhortation to conversion, prayer, especially the rosary, and reparation for one's own sins and for those of all mankind. This message flows from the Gospel, from the words which Christ spoke at the very beginning of his public ministry: "Repent, and believe in the Gospel!" (Mk 1:15). It aims at man's interior transformation, at the defeat of sin within him and the strengthening of goodness, and at the attainment of holiness. This message is addressed in particular to the people of our century, a century which has been marked by war, hatred, the violation of fundamental human rights, the immense suffering of individuals and nations, and finally by the struggle against God, carried even to the denial of his existence. The message of Fatima is an outpouring of the love of the Heart of the Mother, who is always open to her child, never loses sight of him, thinks of him always, even when he leaves the straight path and becomes a "prodigal son" (cf. Lk 15:11-32).
Our Lady of Fatima, please intercede for us during this month of May, that we may repent and bring the Gospel to the world.

Happy Mother’s Day!

…while both parents are responsible in all things for the family, it is the mother who is generally the first evangelizer. It was Mary who declared: "Do whatever he tells you" (Ibid. 2: 5). Experience shows that it is often Christian mothers who are the first to teach the truth about God, the first to join their children’s hands in prayer and to pray with them. Mothers teach their children to distinguish good from evil. They teach them the commandments of God, both the commandments given by God to Moses on Mount Sinai, and the commandments of love of God and love of neighbour which Jesus put at the heart of the Christian moral life. The magnificent vocation and responsibility of parents, and in the first place of mothers, consists not only in bringing children into the world, but also in leading them to spiritual maturity.
-Blessed John Paul II, 1995 Homily at Uhuru Park
Thank you mothers, for being the first evangelizers and for leading your sons and daughters to spiritual maturity.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The New Evangelization Begins with the Family

North Carolina voters answered Pope Benedict XVI’s prayers earlier this week. His general prayer intention for May is that: “initiatives which defend and uphold the role of the family may be promoted within society.” The people of North Carolina did just that, voting in a constitutional amendment to make marriage between a man and a woman the “only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized.”

The family is the fundamental building block of society. Healthy marriages hold our communities together, and they strengthen the moral fiber of future generations. Pope Benedict said it best last December in his address to the Pontifical Council for the Family:

The family is a source of wealth for married couples, an irreplaceable good for children, an indispensable foundation of society and a vital community for the journey of the Church.
The family is good for husbands, wives, children and society, Pope Benedict said, and it is also good for the Church. He goes on to say:
The new evangelization depends largely on the Domestic Church (cf. ibid., n. 65). In our time, as in times past, the eclipse of God, the spread of ideologies contrary to the family and the degradation of sexual ethics are connected. And just as the eclipse of God and the crisis of the family are linked, so the new evangelization is inseparable from the Christian family. The family is indeed the way of the Church because it is the “human space” of our encounter with Christ.
The Church needs families to be witnesses to the world—to be lights to the world. The Church needs models of the Holy Family. Most of all, the Catholic Church needs the “Domestic Church” for the new evangelization, to pass the beauty of the faith on to future generations. The U.S. Bishops touch on this in their recent publication, Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization:

Blessed John Paul II Shrine becomes a DC attraction

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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The First Glorious Mystery: The Resurrection

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel; and as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, 'Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen’ (Lk 24:1-5).
The Resurrection confirmed all of Christ’s works. It confirmed all of His teachings. And best of all, the Resurrection fulfilled every promise God made to humankind since the beginning. This mystery should fill us with hope and joy!

While meditating on Christ’s Resurrection, say one Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s, and a Glory Be.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary

May is Mary’s month, so we will celebrate here on Open Wide the Doors by meditating on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Here’s what Blessed John Paul II said about The Glorious Mysteries in his letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae:

The contemplation of Christ's face cannot stop at the image of the Crucified One. He is the Risen One!”(29) The Rosary has always expressed this knowledge born of faith and invited the believer to pass beyond the darkness of the Passion in order to gaze upon Christ's glory in the Resurrection and Ascension. Contemplating the Risen One, Christians rediscover the reasons for their own faith (cf. 1Cor 15:14) and relive the joy not only of those to whom Christ appeared – the Apostles, Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – but also the joy of Mary, who must have had an equally intense experience of the new life of her glorified Son. In the Ascension, Christ was raised in glory to the right hand of the Father, while Mary herself would be raised to that same glory in the Assumption, enjoying beforehand, by a unique privilege, the destiny reserved for all the just at the resurrection of the dead. Crowned in glory – as she appears in the last glorious mystery – Mary shines forth as Queen of the Angels and Saints, the anticipation and the supreme realization of the eschatological state of the Church.

At the centre of this unfolding sequence of the glory of the Son and the Mother, the Rosary sets before us the third glorious mystery, Pentecost, which reveals the face of the Church as a family gathered together with Mary, enlivened by the powerful outpouring of the Spirit and ready for the mission of evangelization. The contemplation of this scene, like that of the other glorious mysteries, ought to lead the faithful to an ever greater appreciation of their new life in Christ, lived in the heart of the Church, a life of which the scene of Pentecost itself is the great “icon”. The glorious mysteries thus lead the faithful to greater hope for the eschatological goal towards which they journey as members of the pilgrim People of God in history. This can only impel them to bear courageous witness to that “good news” which gives meaning to their entire existence.
The Glorious Mysteries, which are typically recited on Wednesdays and Saturdays, are also quite appropriate for the season our Church is currently celebrating—Easter.

Let us begin to contemplate the face of the Risen One as we begin our Rosary. Find some quiet time for prayer today, and start your rosary with an Apostles’ Creed, an Our Father for the Pope’s intentions, three Hail Mary’s for the virtues of Faith, Hope, and Love, and a Glory Be. As you begin, meditate on Blessed John Paul II’s reflection above.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI smiles at America

During the ad limina visit of bishops from Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Wyoming, Bishops James D. Conley of Denver told Pope Benedict XVI that the number of seminarians keeps going up in dioceses across America. Bishop Conley told reporters that the Pope was delighted with the news, and that it put a big smile on his face. 

During their visit, Pope Benedict addressed the intellectual and cultural challenges of the New Evangelization. He focused on Catholic schools in particular, calling on them to “reaffirm their distinctive identity” so that they may serve as a “resource for the new evangelization.”

Friday, May 4, 2012

Mary's Month

This week the Church remembers the beatification of Blessed John Paul II. May 1 marked the special day when, one year ago, Pope Benedict XVI had the unique opportunity to beatify his beloved predecessor.

The ceremony was planned to coincide with the Second Sunday of Easter, or “Divine Mercy Sunday.” We’ve written here before about the origin of this Church celebration and how important the Divine Mercy devotion was to Blessed John Paul II.  May 1 is especially fitting, though, because it is also the beginning of a month traditionally dedicated to Mary, the Mother of God.

Blessed John Paul had a very special place in his heart for Mary. His pontificate was dedicated to her in many ways—his motto being “Totus tuus,” or “I belong entirely to you” and an “M” beside the Cross on his coat of arms. He credited her for protecting him when an assassin almost took his life, and he constantly prayed for her love and guidance. He entrusted his heart to her, and he encouraged all members of the Church to do the same—especially young people:

O Virgin Mary, Jesus
on the Cross
wanted to entrust us to you,
not to lessen
but to reaffirm
his exclusive role as Saviour
of the world.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Happy Feast of Saints Philip and James, Apostles

Today is the feast of Saints Philip and James—both apostles of Jesus and true servants of His Gospel after His death and resurrection. St. Philip, first a disciple of St. John the Baptist, preached and performed miracles in Jesus’ name in Phrygias (modern day Turkey) until the day he was martyred. St. James, a cousin of the Lord, ruled over the Church in Jerusalem, converting many people of the Jewish faith. He also suffered martyrdom, in the year 62.

Saints Philip and James, we ask your intercession, that we may be as open to Christ’s call as you were and that we may follow Him until the end of our earthly days.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What's new at the Shrine?

As you can see on the website, there have been some new developments at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine.

The most exciting update is that Fr. Gregory Gresko has recently been appointed as the Shrine’s Chaplain. Fr. Gresko comes to the Shrine with over twenty years of experience as a minister to students and young adults as a priest, lay missionary, and musician. He also holds his Licentiate in Sacred Theology from the Pontifical Lateran University’s John Paul II Institute and is currently working on his doctoral thesis. As Chaplain, Fr. Gresko will be responsible for the spiritual care of the Shrine’s staff and pilgrims. With his positive energy and inspiring homilies, Fr. Gresko has done a fabulous job so far!

The staff at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine is currently preparing a landmark exhibition on the life and legacy of John Paul II, but in order to tie pilgrims and tourists over, we’ve opened an interim exhibit: Be Not Afraid. This new exhibit chronicles the life of Karol Wojtyła in his own words, and the collection consists of hundreds of items, including many personal effects, works of art and photographs.

Stop by between the hours of 10 am and 5 pm Tuesday through Friday and check out the new exhibit. All are invited to Mass as well, which is held Tuesday through Friday at 11:30 am in the Shrine’s chapel.

Vocations and peace

Pope Benedict XVI gave the Church two important messages this week.

This past Sunday was World Day of Prayer for Vocations, and during his Regina Coeli address the Holy Father spoke of the importance of vocations and how vital it is that young men and women be attentive to God’s call. He said:
We are afraid to listen to the voice of the Lord because we believe it can detract from our freedom. The truth is that each of us is the fruit of love; the love of our parents, of course, but also and more profoundly the love of God. ... When we become aware of this our lives change; they become a response to that love which is greater than any other, and thus our freedom is fully realised.
Pope Benedict also sent a message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences for their Eighteenth Plenary Session, which met in Rome this past week. The Holy Father lauded the Academy for choosing to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed John XXIII’s Encyclical Pacem in Terris, which was very important to the Church’s social doctrine. He focused on forgiveness in particular, writing:
The notion of forgiveness needs to find its way into international discourse on conflict resolution, so as to transform the sterile language of mutual recrimination which leads nowhere. If the human creature is made in the image of God, a God of justice who is “rich in mercy” (Eph 2:4), then these qualities need to be reflected in the conduct of human affairs.
These two messages don’t seem to connect. But in both cases, Pope Benedict XVI shows that a better understanding of God’s love can help us to better live out God’s call—specifically in our own vocations and generally in our love for others.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

St. Joseph the Worker

At the workbench where he plied his trade together with Jesus, Joseph brought human work closer to the mystery of the Redemption.

In the human growth of Jesus "in wisdom, age and grace," the virtue of industriousness played a notable role, since "work is a human good" which "transforms nature" and makes man "in a sense, more human."(34)

The importance of work in human life demands that its meaning be known and assimilated in order to "help all people to come closer to God, the Creator and Redeemer, to participate in his salvific plan for man and the world, and to deepen...friendship with Christ in their lives, by accepting, through faith, a living participation in his threefold mission as Priest, Prophet and King."(35)

What is crucially important here is the sanctification of daily life, a sanctification which each person must acquire according to his or her own state, and one which can be promoted according to a model accessible to all people: "St. Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies;...he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need of great things-it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic."(36)

-Blessed John Paul II, Redemptoris custos
St. Joseph the Worker, Pray for Us!