Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Let the Games Begin

Last week, Pope Benedict XVI extended best wishes to participants of the 2012 Olympics:
The Olympics are the world’s most important sports event in which athletes of a great many nations take part and as such they have a strong symbolic value. For this reason the Catholic Church regards them with special sympathy and attention. Let us pray that in accordance with God’s will the Games in London will be a true experience of brotherhood among the earth’s peoples.
…I pray that, in the spirit of the Olympic Truce, the good will generated by this international sporting event may bear fruit, promoting peace and reconciliation throughout the world.
The Evil One sows “division in the human heart” and sows division between human beings, Pope Benedict said in the same Angelus address. The Olympic Games have the potential to break through these divisions and unite the world’s nations in brotherhood.
So as we watch our favorite athletes compete, let us remember the greater purpose behind the Olympics. Let us also remember the Church in London, and pray that they may provide pastoral help to the athletes and visitors. It looks like they are doing a good job so far, with perpetual Adoration and all!

We Want You - to be a missionary in America

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. St. Ignatius is very well-known—his legacy provided renewal for the Church when She was in need and it still lives on in many ways today. His conversion, his Spiritual Exercises, and of course, the Society of Jesus are precious gifts that we remember him for.

Among his many accomplishments is the part St. Ignatius played in the conversion of St. Francis Xavier. The two were roommates while studying at the University of Paris, and during that time St. Ignatius’ example had a life-changing impact on St. Francis’ life.

St. Ignatius was on the path to fame and glory as a soldier when he experienced a radical conversion. Injured in battle, he spent his recovery time reading about Christ and the lives of the Saints. He was touched by these stories, and as he healed, he committed to a new life for God and for others. After a period of quiet prayer and pilgrimage, St. Ignatius began his priestly studies at an older age than most. The timing was perfect, though, because he met the first Jesuits: his fellow students who learned from his radical decision to abandon everything to the will of God.

St. Francis Xavier was slow to come around. He was a devout man, but he already had a very specific idea of how he wanted to serve the Kingdom of God. For six years he resisted his roommate’s influence, because giving in would mean giving up the life he wanted—to be a Church scholar. St. Ignatius still kept a close relationship with St. Francis, and eventually his witness to the Truth and abandonment led to St. Francis’ conversion. St. Francis opened his heart to God’s will, and as a member of the Society of Jesus, he set off on Far East missions, bringing Christ to pagan territories that were desperately in need of His light.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Reclaiming the Sabbath

Last month, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the importance of making Sunday a day of rest. Today the family is “threatened by a sort of ‘dictatorship’ of work commitments,” he said. And we must liberate ourselves from this, because:
Sunday is the day of the Lord and of men and women, a day in which everyone must be able to be free, free for the family and free for God. In defending Sunday we defend human freedom!
Earlier this week we reflected on Blessed John Paul II’s Laborem exercens and how, in working, we collaborate “with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity.” So work is vital to our salvation, yes, but so is the Sabbath. John Paul II reminds us of this in his 1998 Apostolic Letter, Dies Domini:
It is Easter which returns week by week, celebrating Christ's victory over sin and death, the fulfillment in him of the first creation and the dawn of "the new creation" (cf. 2 Cor 5:17). It is the day which recalls in grateful adoration the world's first day and looks forward in active hope to "the last day", when Christ will come in glory (cf. Acts 1:11; 1 Th 4:13-17) and all things will be made new (cf. Rev 21:5).
Sunday is for Christ, and on this day we gratefully adore Him and His creation by receiving the Eucharist.
We are also called to rest, the late Pontiff writes. Not just out of reverence, but out of respect for the Creator who rested on the seventh day. And out of respect for our tired bodies, which cry out for this time to be at peace:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

JPII, We Love You!

It has been exactly 10 years since Blessed John Paul II led his last World Youth Day in Toronto. The first international gathering in the twenty-first century drew 300,000 young people from countries all over the world, and many of the pilgrims were inspired by the aged pontiff—by his witness and his words:
You are young, and the Pope is old, 82 or 83 years of life is not the same as 22 or 23. But the Pope still fully identifies with your hopes and aspirations. Although I have lived through much darkness, under harsh totalitarian regimes, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. You are our hope, the young are our hope.
Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.
He reminded the young pilgrims of their mission and purpose and encouraged them all to do their part in building the civilization of love.
Blessed John Paul II passed from his earthy life on April 2, 2005. His World Youth Day tradition still lives on, though. The next is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro.
Will you be there?

Toiling for the Kingdom of God

Sweat and toil, which work necessarily involves the present condition of the human race, present the Christian and everyone who is called to follow Christ with the possibility of sharing lovingly in the work that Christ came to do. This work of salvation came about through suffering and death on a Cross. By enduring the toil of work in union with Christ crucified for us, man in a way collaborates with the Son of God for the redemption of humanity. He shows himself a true disciple of Christ by carrying the cross in his turn every day in the activity that he is called upon to perform.
…Let the Christian who listens to the word of the living God, uniting work with prayer, know the place that his work has not only in earthly progress but also in the development of the Kingdom of God, to which we are all called through the power of the Holy Spirit and through the word of the Gospel.
-Blessed John Paul II, Laborem exercens (1981)
Pope Benedict XVI asks the Church to pray for work security this month—“that everyone may have work in safe and secure conditions.” Let us join him in that prayer today, while also offering up the work that we do for the Kingdom of God.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

St. James, the Patron of Pilgrims

Today is the feast of St. James the Apostle, brother of the beloved Apostle, St. John.  On his Apostolic Journey to Spain for the 4th World Youth Day, Blessed John Paul II recited this prayer before the tomb of St. James:
St James!
Behold me here, once again, beside your tomb
which I approach today, a pilgrim of all the pathways of the earth,
to honour your memory and implore your protection.
I come from luminous and perennial Rome
to you who became a pilgrim, following the footprints of Christ
and who brought his name and his voice
to this farthest part of the earth.
I come from Peter's side
and, as his successor, I bring to you,
to you who, with him, are a pillar of the Church,
the fraternal embrace that traverses centuries
and the song which resounds firm and apostolic in its catholicity.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Like a bird that sees a fish in the sea

“…the Lord spoke to the bride, saying: ‘I look at people in three ways: first, their outer body and what condition it is in; second, their inner conscience, what it tends toward and in what way; third their heart and what it desires. Like a bird that sees a fish in the sea and assesses the depth of the water and also takes not of storm winds, I, too, know and assess the ways of each person and take note of what is due to each, for I am keener of sight and can assess the human situation better than a person knows his own self.”
            -St. Bridget of Sweden, The Book of Knights
Lord, on this feast of St. Bridget of Sweden, please give us the grace to realize that you know us better than we know ourselves. Replace our hearts with yours, and make our desires your own.
St. Bridget of Sweden, Pray for Us!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Creatively submitting to truth and love

St. Benedict, whose feast we celebrated last week, wrote a Rule which is still very popular today. In his Rule, the “Founder of Western Monasticism” identified 12 degrees of humility which are necessary to achieve a perfect love for God. One step is that a humble man should “always have his head bowed and his eyes toward the ground. Feeling the guilt of his sins at every moment, he should consider himself already present at the dread Judgment...”
Early in his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II spoke about bowing one’s head in humility:
Bowing the head may be interpreted as a gesture of humiliation or resignation. Bowing the head before God is a sign of humility. Humility, however, is not identified with humiliation or resignation. It is not accompanied by faint-heartedness. On the contrary. Humility is creative submission to the power of truth and love. Humility is rejection of appearances and superficiality; it is the expression of the depth of the human spirit; it is the condition of its greatness.
St Augustine too reminds us of this. In a sermon he says:
"Do you want to be a great? Begin from the smallest thing. Do you intend to construct a large building, which rises up very high? Take into consideration in the first place the foundation of humility" (St Augustine, Serm. 69, 2; PL 38, 441).
This way of thinking is perhaps far removed from many manifestations of the modern mentality. We are often fascinated by apparent values, by exterior grandeur, by what is sensational, what agitates the surface of our psyche. Man becomes, in a certain sense, one-dimensional, detached from his own depth. He builds on foundations that are not deep. And he often suffers at the destruction of what he has built in himself so superficially. Lent calls for a deepening of our internal construction. And it is just this that gives rise to the call to humility, a virtue so significant in the whole Gospel message, the virtue so characteristic of Christ.
Mary is the Queen of Humility. Therefore, let us ask her to pray for us, that we may throw off the world and submit to the power of God’s truth and love.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Your tag is sticking out

Earlier this week, the Church celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. One might recognize Mt. Carmel from Sacred Scripture—it is where the prophet Elijah defended Israel and her faith in the living God. This natural beauty was also home to hermits in the twelfth century, who “lived as God's bees, gathering the divine honey of spiritual consolation." These contemplatives later founded the Carmelite Order, and they constantly looked to Mary, the Mother of God, for guidance and inspiration.
Blessed John Paul II was very fond of the Carmelite Order and its Saints, like Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and St. John of the Cross. He also fostered a devotion to the Scapular of Carmel, which he wore over his “heart for a very long time.” In his 2001 message to the Carmelite family, Blessed John Paul II wrote:
The sign of the Scapular points to an effective synthesis of Marian spirituality, which nourishes the devotion of believers and makes them sensitive to the Virgin Mother's loving presence in their lives…
…two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular:  on the one hand, the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only on life's journey, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other, the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honour on certain occasions, but must become a "habit", that is, a permanent orientation of one's own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy… indeed, it concretely translates the gift of his Mother, which Jesus gave on the Cross to John and, through him, to all of us, and the entrustment of the beloved Apostle and of us to her, who became our spiritual Mother.
Much like the monastic scapular, which many religious wear with their habits, the devotional scapular of Carmel is worn over the shoulders. It is smaller and typically made of two pieces of cloth connected by a band—one piece of cloth lays near the chest, one drops down the back (which is why many scapular wearers are warned that their “tags are sticking out”).  By committing to a life of holiness, those who wear the scapular open themselves up to many graces and protections.

So that the world may believe that Jesus is alive

In his Sunday homily, Pope Benedict XVI called the lay faithful of the Diocese of Frascati to mission:
Even here there is need for a new evangelization, which is why I propose you intensely live the Year of Faith, which will begin in October, 50 years from the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The Council documents contain an enormous wealth for the formation of new generations of Christians, for the formation of our consciousness. So read them, read the Catechism of the Catholic Church and rediscover the beauty of being Christians, of being Church to enjoy the great "we" that Jesus has formed around him, to evangelize the world: the "we" of the Church, never closed, but always open and projected towards the proclamation of the Gospel.
Stand firm in faith, rooted in Christ through the Word and the Eucharist; be people of prayer, to always remain bound to Christ, as branches to the vine, and at the same time go out, bring His message to everyone, especially the small, to the poor, the suffering. In every community, love each other, do not be divided but live as brothers and sisters, so that the world may believe that Jesus is alive in his Church and the Kingdom of God is near.
Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, please pray that we “rediscover the beauty of being Christians,” and that we use this beauty to “evangelize the world.”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Poland honors the Pope and the President

Polish officials unveiled a statue of Blessed John Paul II and former U.S. President Ronald Reagan on Saturday, honoring the two men who are widely credited for the fall of communism 23 years ago. The statue, inspired by a photograph taken during the late pontiff’s 1987 visit to the United States, was unveiled in Gdansk, the birthplace of Poland’s anti-communist struggle—the Solidarity movement.
Both Blessed John Paul II and President Reagan agreed that communism is rooted in evil and that it leads to major violations of human dignity. The statue will forever stand as a reminder of their united fight against this evil, and of their love and support for Poland.

Pray for Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin

Shanghai’s Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin was reported missing last week, and the search goes on.
He was ordained as the auxiliary bishop of Shanghai on July 7, and on July 8 Chinese Catholics discovered that he was missing when he didn’t show for his first Sunday Mass as Bishop.
Bishop Ma Daqin is now said to be in a “period of rest” at Sheshan seminary, where he first studied to be a priest. These reports have proven false, though, and most suspect the state intervened after the bishop hinted that he would resign from the State controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association during his ordination Mass.
Pray for Bishop Thaddeus Ma Daqin’s life and safety, and pray also for religious freedom in China.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, soon to be a Saint!

Today is the feast of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, a Mohawk woman who lived in the 17th century. A young convert forced to flee her village at the age of 18, Blessed Kateri lived most of her young life as a servant to others and in devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She suffered from a serious illness during the last years of her life and died a virgin at the age of 24.

In an address to the Native Americans who traveled to Rome for her beatification in 1980, Blessed John Paul II said:

All of us are inspired by the example of this young woman of faith who died three centuries ago this year. We are all edified by her complete trust in the providence of God, and we are encouraged by her joyful fidelity to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. In a true sense the whole Church, together with you, declares in the words of Saint Paul: “Glory be to him whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine, glory be to him from generation to generation in the Church and in Christ Jesus forever and ever."

The Church has declared to the world that Kateri Tekakwitha is blessed, that she lived a life on earth of exemplary holiness and that she is now a member in heaven of the Communion of Saints who continually intercede with the merciful Father on our behalf.

Her beatification should remind us that we are all called to a life of holiness, for in Baptism God has chosen each one of us "to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence." Holiness of life - union with Christ through prayer and works of charity - is not something reserved to a select few among the members of the Church. It is the vocation of everyone.

My brothers and sisters, may you be inspired and encouraged by the life of Blessed Kateri. Look to her for an example of fidelity; see in her a model of purity and love; turn to her in prayer for assistance. May God bless you as he blessed her.

The “Lily of the Mohawks” is set to be canonized on October 21 this year by Pope Benedict XVI, making her the first Native American Saint.

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Pray for Us!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The miracle of God's love

Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Gospel message from Mark’s chapter 6. In the passage, Jesus discovers that the people of His own country do not believe in His divinity. In fact, they are scandalized that the carpenter’s son is now travelling about, preaching like a prophet.

Pope Benedict said that the unbelief amongst the people of Nazareth was understandable, “because their human familiarity made it hard for them to go further and open themselves to the divine dimension. It was difficult for them to believe that this son of a carpenter was the Son of God."

Because of this unbelief, he went on to say:

Jesus 'could do no deeds of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them'. Indeed, the miracles of Christ were not a show of power, but signs of God's love, which is realised wherever it finds reciprocity in the faith of man.

...The man Jesus of Nazareth is the transparency of God, God dwells in Him fully and, while we always seek other signs, other prodigies, we do not realise that the true sign is Him, God made flesh. He is the greatest miracle of the universe: all the love of God contained in a human heart and a human face.

And until we realize that Jesus is the true sign, we will not be ready for Him to heal us, teach us, and prepare us for the Kingdom of Heaven.

So let us pray for the grace to reciprocate God’s love in faith, and let us pray for the courage to proclaim the miracle of Christ to those around us.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Serving with Truth

The Pope’s missionary intention for July is that “Christian volunteers in mission territories may witness to the love of Christ.”

The United Nations declared 2001 the International Year of Volunteers, and on this occasion Blessed John Paul II expressed his gratitude for all of those who dedicate their lives to the poor. He said:

Thanks to the many forms of solidarity and of service that they promote and make concrete, volunteer workers make society more attentive to the dignity of the human person and his/her many expectations.

… Dear Brothers and Sisters, who make up this "army" of peace spread over the face of the earth, you are a sign of hope for our times. Wherever situations of hardship and suffering appear, make bear fruit the hidden resources of dedication, goodness and heroism in the heart of the human person.

Making myself the spokesman for the poor everywhere, I want to say "thank you' for your steadfast dedication.

In his message, the late Pope explained why it is that volunteers dedicate their lives to others. It is “the innate movement of the heart,” he said, “that inspires every human being to help his fellow man.” Have you ever felt that rush of joy after helping someone in need? Well that is natural, John Paul II said, because it is in giving that we reach perfect fulfillment.

That “good feeling” is not why we serve, though. We serve because Jesus did when He walked the earth, and we serve because God calls us to do the same. We serve because the fruits of our charity bring justice and peace to mankind, and we serve because every human person deserves to be loved. We serve because our charity is a form of evangelization, introducing others to Christ.

Blessed John Paul II tells young people: “You are not alone”

It is Jesus in fact that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is he who reads in your hearts your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

Dear young people, in these noble undertakings you are not alone. With you there are your families, there are your communities, there are your priests and teachers, there are so many of you who in the depths of your hearts never weary of loving Christ and believing in him. In the struggle against sin you are not alone: so many like you are struggling and through the Lord’s grace are winning!

-Blessed John Paul II, Address at Vigil in Tor Vergata, August 19, 2000

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

St. Augustine Zhao Rong and Companions, Pray for Us!

"The precepts of the Lord give joy to the heart" (Responsorial Psalm). These words of the Responsorial Psalm clearly reflect the experience of Augustine Zhao Rong and his 119 companions, martyrs in China. The testimonies which have come down to us allow us to glimpse in them a state of mind marked by deep serenity and joy.

Today the Church is grateful to her Lord, who blesses her and bathes her in light with the radiant holiness of these sons and daughters of China. Is not the Holy Year the most appropriate moment to make their heroic witness shine resplendently? Young Ann Wang, a 14-year-old, withstood the threats of the torturers who invited her to apostatize. Ready for her beheading, she declared with a radiant face:  "The door of heaven is open to all", three times murmuring:  "Jesus". And 18-year-old Chi Zhuzi, cried out fearlessly to those who had just cut off his right arm and were preparing to flay him alive:  "Every piece of my flesh, every drop of my blood will tell you that I am Christian".

The other 85 Chinese men and women of every age and state, priests, religious and lay people, showed the same conviction and joy, sealing their unfailing fidelity to Christ and the Church with the gift of their lives. This occurred over the course of several centuries and in a complex and difficult era of China's history. Today's celebration is not the appropriate time to pass judgement on those historical periods:  this can and should be done elsewhere. Today, with this solemn proclamation of holiness, the Church intends merely to recognize that those martyrs are an example of courage and consistency to us all, and that they honour the noble Chinese people.

            -Homily of Blessed John Paul II, Canonization Mass on October 1, 2000

Yesterday was the feast of St. Augustine Zhao Rong and his Companions, who were canonized by Blessed John Paul II. Let us take this opportunity to ask for their intercession, especially now, as the Church faces continued persecution in China.

Did You Know?: Blessed John Paul II and the Saints

Did you know that Blessed John Paul II canonized and beatified more people than any other Pope in Church History?

He celebrated 147 beatification ceremonies during his pontificate, proclaiming 1,338 Blesseds; and he celebrated 51 canonizations, proclaiming 482 saints. That total exceeds the number of canonizations and beatifications made by all other Popes combined!

These Saints were welcomed into the presence of God after death because they lived heavenly lives on earth. In recognizing them, Blessed John Paul II inspired the Church with countless models of truth and holiness. In his 1993 encyclical, Veritatis Splendor, he wrote:

The Church proposes the example of numerous Saints who bore witness to and defended moral truth even to the point of enduring martyrdom, or who preferred death to a single mortal sin. In raising them to the honour of the altars, the Church has canonized their witness and declared the truth of their judgment, according to which the love of God entails the obligation to respect his commandments, even in the most dire of circumstances, and the refusal to betray those commandments, even for the sake of saving one's own life.

To view a list of these Saints and Blesseds, check the Holy See’s website. And in order to learn more about the Saints and Blesseds canonized and beatified by Blessed John Paul II, check back here at Open Wide the Doors.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The feast of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Certainly, at a superficial glance, Frassati's lifestyle, that of a modern young man who was full of life, does not present anything out of the ordinary. This, however, is the originality of his virtue, which invites us to reflect upon it and impels us to imitate it. In him faith and daily events are harmoniously fused, so that adherence to the Gospel is translated into loving care for the poor and the needy in a continual crescendo until the very last days of the sickness which led to his death. His love for beauty and art, his passion for sports and mountains, his attention to society's problems did not inhibit his constant relationship with the Absolute. Entirely immersed in the mystery if God and totally dedicated to the constant service of his neighbor: thus we can sum up his earthly life!
…Today's celebration invites all of us to receive the message which Pier Giorgio Frassati is sending to the men and women of our day, but especially to you young people, who want to make a concrete contribution to the spiritual renewal of our world, which sometimes seems to be falling apart and wasting away because of a lack of ideals. By his example he proclaims that a life lived in Christ's Spirit, the Spirit of the Beatitudes, is "blessed", and that only the person who becomes a "man or woman of the Beatitudes" can succeed in communicating love and peace to others. He repeats that it is really worth giving up everything to serve the Lord. He testifies that holiness is possible for everyone, and that only the revolution of charity can enkindle the hope of a better future in the hearts of people.
               -Blessed John Paul II, Beatification Mass of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati
In his Wednesday catechesis last week, Pope Benedict XVI said that deep joy is the fruit of imitating God’s Son. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was full of that joy, and he carried it with him as he served the poor, spent time with friends, and knelt in front of the altar. Like the “Man of the Beatitudes,” we should kindle our relationships with God and carry the fruits of that intimacy with us, wherever we go.
Blessed Pier Giorgio, Pray for Us!

Let Freedom Ring!

Today we celebrate Independence Day! On this day in 1776, the United States declared independence from a tyrannical England—solidifying the young country’s commitment to liberty and justice for all.
Today also marks the end of the Fortnight for Freedom, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ campaign to help the faithful understand how important religious liberty is to America and to point out the current threats to our most precious freedom.
In an interview with Vatican Radio, Archbishop of Washington D.C., His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl said, “We have always had these rights – they are guaranteed in our Constitution…We need to lift up for people to see, that some of [these rights] are being eroded.”
Dioceses throughout the country held Bible Studies, rallies, and other educational events in order to “lift up” the challenges our Church faces today. And at noon Eastern (9am Pacific) today, all houses of worship are asked to ring their bells—to “let freedom ring.” The faithful will be united, and they will make their presence known.
Most appropriately, the Fortnight will close with the sacrifice of the Mass—our highest form of prayer. This closing Mass will be celebrated at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception here in Washington, D.C. The celebrants and the congregation will offer up their efforts and ask God for His favor in securing the right to religious freedom in America.
Let us pray with them today, that our right to live like Christ in the public square is upheld and protected.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

St. Thomas the Apostle, Pray for Us!

He was the only one not there when, after the resurrection, Christ came for the first time into the Upper Room. When the other disciples told him that they had seen the Lord, he would not believe it. He said: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). A week later, the disciples were gathered together again and Thomas was with them. Jesus came through the closed door, and greeted the Apostles with the words: “Peace be with you” (Jn 20:26), and immediately he turned to Thomas: “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing” (Jn 20:27). Thomas then answered: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:28).’
…The divine Master had often announced that he would rise from the dead, and in many ways he had shown that he was the Lord of life. Yet the experience of his death was so overwhelming that people needed to meet him directly in order to believe in his resurrection: the Apostles in the Upper Room, the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the holy women beside the tomb. . . Thomas too needed it. But when his unbelief was directly confronted by the presence of Christ, the doubting Apostle spoke the words which express the deepest core of faith: If this is the case, if you are truly living despite having been killed, this means that you are “my Lord and my God”.
In what happened to Thomas, the “school of faith” is enriched with a new element. Divine revelation, Jesus’s question and man’s response end in the disciple’s personal encounter with the living Christ, with the Risen One. This encounter is the beginning of a new relationship between each one of us and Christ, a relationship in which each of us comes to the vital realization that Christ is Lord and God; not only the Lord and God of the world and of humanity, but the Lord and God of my own individual human life. One day Saint Paul would write: “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart: that is, the word of faith which we preach. Because if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Rom 10:8-9).
                -Address of Blessed John Paul II at the 15th World Youth Day, August 19, 2000.
St. Thomas, we often call you “Doubting Thomas,” for your lack of faith in the risen Lord. But really, we can learn so much from your intimate encounter with Jesus Christ.
St. Thomas, please intercede for us on this feast day of yours, that we may enter into the presence of Christ with open hearts and like you, sincerely pronounce the words of faith: “my Lord and my God.”