Friday, August 31, 2012

Through the Intercession of Blessed John Paul II

Anyone in need of prayers, specifically through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II, may now post their petitions online through the Blessed John Paul II Shrine website. Shrine staff will offer these petitions up as they celebrate their daily Eucharist, and other faithful members of the Church will be able to view petitions and offer them up as well.

Blessed John Paul II was one the greatest men to walk the Earth, and we can be sure that his intercession for us in Heaven has great meaning and power. Ask for his help, and let us know if we can ask him as well.

Also, please join us in praying:

Prayer to Implore Favors Through the Intercession of Blessed John Paul II, Pope

O Blessed Trinity, we thank You for having
graced the Church with Blessed John Paul II
and for allowing the tenderness of Your
Fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of
Christ, and the splendor of the Spirit of love,
to shine through him. Trusting fully in
Your infinite mercy and in the maternal
Intercession of Mary, he has given us
a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd,
and has shown us that holiness is the
necessary measure of ordinary Christian life
and is the way of achieving eternal
communion with You. Grant us, by his
intercession, and according to Your will, the
graces we implore, hoping that he will soon
be numbered among Your saints. Amen.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Role of the Laity

Last week, the Vatican released a message Pope Benedict XVI sent to the 6th Assembly of the International Catholic Action Forum. In this message, he reminded the laity that they are “co-responsible” for the Church’s mission, not merely “collaborators” with the clergy.  Lay people are therefore called to work in communion with Church leaders, and they are called to take formation very seriously. He said:

Feel the commitment to work for the Church’s mission to be your own…through prayer, through study, through active participation in ecclesial life, through an attentive and positive gaze at the world, in the continual search for the signs of the times.

Society needs courageous witnesses, he went on to say, so that people in darkness may see the light of the Gospel and find hope.

An example of this courageous witness can be seen in St. Juan Diego, who was canonized by Blessed John Paul II in 2002. Juan Diego was the poor, native of Mexico who reported the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe—an apparition that significantly inspired hope and the spread of Catholicism in Mexico, and one that still inspires people today.

In an address given to the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (CALL) last week, Supreme Knight of the Knight of Columbus, Carl Anderson, encouraged his listeners to be like Juan Diego:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

On This Feast of St. Augustine, We Pray

Prayer of John Paul II to Saint Augustine
O great Augustine, our father and teacher, who knows the shining paths of God and also the crooked paths of men, we admire the marvels that divine Grace
 has worked in you, making you a passionate witness 
to truth and goodness 
at the service of your neighbor.
At the start of a new millennium marked by the Cross of Christ, teach us to read history
 in the light of divine Providence, which guides events to the final encounter with the Father. Guide us towards goals of peace, kindling in our hearts your own desire for the values upon which we, 
with the strength that comes from God, can build the "city of Man".
May the profound teaching that you drew, with loving and patient study, from the ever-living sources of Scripture
 enlighten all who are tempted today
 by alienating mirages.
May you obtain for them the courage to set out on the way towards that "inner man" in whom the One, who alone can restore peace
 to our restless hearts, awaits.
So many of our contemporaries seem to have 
lost the hope of reaching,
 amidst the many conflicting ideologies, the truth that they continue to yearn for 
in depths of their hearts.
Teach them never to give up their quest 
in the certainty that, in the end, their efforts will be rewarded 
by the fulfilling encounter with that supreme Truth, who is the Source 
of every created truth.
Lastly, O St. Augustine, 
communicate to us too a spark of that burning love for the Church, the Catholic mother of the Saints,
which sustained and gave life 
to the efforts of your own long ministry.
Enable us, as we walk together under the guidance of our legitimate Pastors, to reach the glory of the heavenly Homeland
 where, with all the Blesseds, we can join in singing the new and eternal Alleluia.

Prayer written by Blessed John Paul II for the 1,650th Anniversary of the Birth of St. Augustine

Friday, August 24, 2012

That Prisoners may be Treated with Justice and Respect

Visiting the imprisoned…

It’s that corporal work of mercy we always remember for Catholic trivia games, but it’s also the one we conveniently forget about when it comes time to serve others.

It is good, then, that Pope Benedict XVI reminds us to pray for our forgotten brothers and sisters this month. His general intention is: “That prisoners may be treated with justice and respect for their human dignity.”

During the Church-wide celebration for the Jubilee Year in 2000, Blessed John Paul II called for a Day of Jubilee for Prisoners. Prison gates should not exclude men and women from celebrating the Holy Year, he said, and his hope was that “the Risen Lord, who entered the Upper Room through closed doors, will enter all the prisons of the world and find a welcome in the hearts of those within, bringing peace and serenity to everyone.”

In his message for the event, the late pontiff encouraged prisoners to realize that their time was not lost in prison. “Even time in prison is God’s time,” he said, and if prisoners approach their time behind bars with faith, then true healing, rehabilitation, and growth can come out of it.

Blessed John Paul II reminded government leaders of this as well. He encouraged legislators to make it possible for inmates to deepen their relationships with God. Their social recovery could then have a deeper, more meaningful impact.

The Holy Father celebrated the Jubilee with Mass in a Roman prison called "Regina Coeli." In his homily, he repeated much of what he had included in his message. One new point was made, though, and it was a reminder that Jesus Christ was also a prisoner:

Thursday, August 23, 2012

St. Rose of Lima, Pray for Us

If human beings knew what it is to live in grace, no suffering would frighten them and they would gladly suffer any hardship, for grace is the fruit of patience.
                -St.Rose of Lima

St. Rose, you suffered much during your short life yet you still lived with a mystical holiness. As Patroness of Latin America, please pray for the suffering Church there. Ask Our Lord to bless it with hope and joy so that the faithful may push forward with the New Evangelization. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

There is Nothing I Shall Want

The responsorial psalm today reminds us to place all of our stress, all of our desires, all of our fears, and all of our wants in the hands of Our Lord. In giving Him our hearts, we will receive the peace that we are looking for. We will receive everything we need for salvation.

From Psalm 23, let us pray:

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
In verdant pastures he gives me repose;
Beside restful waters he leads me;
he refreshes my soul.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

He guides me in right paths
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk in the dark valley
I fear no evil; for you are at my side
With your rod and your staff
that give me courage.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes;
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

Only goodness and kindness will follow me
all the days of my life;
And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
for years to come.

R. The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.

The Queenship of Mary

Mary "occupies a place in the Church which is the highest after Christ and also closest to us" (Lumen gentium, n. 54).

The highest place: we must discover this lofty position granted to Mary in the mystery of salvation. However, it is a question of a vocation totally in relationship to Christ.

The place closest to us: our life is profoundly influenced by Mary's example and intercession. Nonetheless we must ask ourselves about our effort to be close to her. The entire teaching of salvation history invites us to look to the Virgin. Christian asceticism in every age invites us to think of her as a model of perfect adherence to the Lord's will. The chosen model of holiness, Mary guides the steps of believers on their journey to heaven.

Through her closeness to the events of our daily history, Mary sustains us in trials; she encourages us in difficulty, always pointing out to us the goal of eternal salvation. Thus her role as Mother is seen ever more clearly: Mother of her Son Jesus, tender and vigilant Mother to each one of us, to whom, from the Cross, the Redeemer entrusted her, that we might welcome her as children in faith.

-Blessed John Paul II, General Audience for January 3, 1996

On this Memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let us remember these words of John Paul II. Let us also welcome the Queen of Heaven and Earth into our lives, for she can show us the way to her Son.

Mary, Our Light and Our Hope, Pray for Us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Prayer for the New Evangelization

Check out this Prayer for the New Evangelization on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishop’s website:

‘“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’  But how can they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent?” –Romans 10: 13-15

Heavenly Father,

Pour forth your Holy Spirit to inspire me with these words from Holy Scripture.

Stir in my soul the desire to renew my faith and deepen my relationship with your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ so that I might truly believe in and live the Good News.   

Open my heart to hear the Gospel and grant me the confidence to proclaim the Good News to others.
Pour out your Spirit, so that I might be strengthened to go forth and witness to the Gospel in my everyday life through my words and actions.  

In moments of hesitation, remind me:

Friday, August 17, 2012

And This Joy Endures

Christian joy…springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Pope Benedict XVI spoke these words during Advent a few years ago, at a time when the Church was preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ. The reality of the Incarnation brings nothing but joy to a Christian—a blinding and beautiful joy. And the love and mercy which God made Man poured out during his life here on earth and which He pours down from Heaven everyday, makes this joy everlasting.

Why is it, then, that the Mystical Body of Christ is getting smaller in different parts of the world? Take for example, the Church in Latin America. According to a report in July, Catholics made up almost 92 percent of Brazil’s population. Those numbers went down to 74 percent in 2000, and then 64.6 percent in 2010. Countries all over the Latin American continent are seeing a similar decline, and scholars predict that this trend will continue.

Numbers aren’t everything, and they certainly don’t give the Catholic community any reason to lose hope. This decline in the number of faithful Catholics is disconcerting, though. Why is this contagious Christian joy, this joy that endures, losing ground?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Assumption of Mary into Heaven

Eleven years ago today, Blessed John Paul II spoke these words in a homily for the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary:

Christ's definitive victory over death, which came into the world because of Adam's sin, shines out in Mary, assumed into Heaven at the end of her earthly life. It was Christ, the "new" Adam, who conquered death, offering himself as a sacrifice on Calvary in loving obedience to the Father. In this way he redeemed us from the slavery of sin and evil. In the Virgin's triumph, the Church contemplates her whom the Father chose as the true Mother of his Only-begotten Son, closely associating her with the salvific plan of the Redemption.

This is why Mary, as the liturgy points out, is a consoling sign of our hope. In looking to her, carried up amid the rejoicing of the angelic hosts, the whole of human life, marked by lights and shadows, is opened to the perspective of eternal happiness. If our experience of daily life allows us to feel tangibly that our earthly pilgrimage is under the sign of uncertainty and strife, the Virgin assumed into heavenly glory assures us that we will never lack divine help. 

Mary, Our Mother, you are truly pure and Blessed. For your perfect submission to the Will of God, angels welcomed you into Heaven with trumpets and rejoicing. Mary, Our Hope, you show us the way to Heaven. Please pray that we may receive divine help, now and at the hour of our death. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The 9 Ways of Prayer

During his Wednesday audience last week, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated the feast of St. Dominic by sharing the saint’s "Nine Ways of Prayer"

   -bowing as a sign of humility
   -lying prostrate on the ground to ask forgiveness for sins
   -kneeling in penance, participating in the suffering of Jesus
   -gazing at the Crucifix in contemplation
   -standing and genuflecting before the altar with open arms
   -gazing to the sky, feeling the draw of God
   -praying in the intimacy of personal meditation
   -seated, quietly listening
   -praying while traveling, contemplating the beauty of creation.

St. Dominic was a “man of prayer,” Pope Benedict said, and “an example of the harmonious integration between contemplation of the divine mysteries and apostolic activity.” Let us follow his example, then, as we make our efforts each day to enter into God’s presence.

For more on the "Nine Ways of Prayer," check out the Nashville Dominicans’ website.

The Feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe

The reality of death through martyrdom is always a torment; but, the secret of that death is the fact that God is greater than the torment. So then, we have before us a martyr—Maximilian Kolbe—the minister of his own death—stronger still in his love, to which he was faithful, in which he grew throughout his life, in which he matured in the camp at Auschwitz…That maturing of love which filled the whole life of Fr. Maximilian and reached its definitive fulfillment on Polish soil in the act at Auschwitz, that maturing was linked in a special way to the Immaculate Handmaid of the Lord….

Maximilian Kolbe, like few others, was filled with the mystery of the divine election of Mary. His heart and his thoughts were concentrated in a particular way upon that ‘new beginning,’ which—through the work of the Redeemer—was signified by the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of his earthly incarnation…Maximilian Kolbe penetrated this mystery in a particularly profound way and complete way: not in the abstract, but in the life-filled context of the Triune God, Son and Holy Spirit, and in the life-filled context of the divine salvific plan for the world….Once there arose, in the Middle Ages, the legend of St. Stanislaus. Our time, our age will not create a legend of St. Maximilian. The eloquence of the facts themselves, the testimony of his life and martyrdom, is strong enough.

-Blessed John Paul II, who canonized St. Maximilian Kolbe on October 10, 1982 (Matthew and Margaret Bunson, John Paul II’s Book of Saints, 118).

St. Maximilian Kolbe, who refused to let the Nazis take your soul and instead gave up your life on Earth out of love for another, pray for us!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rediscovering the Word of God

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization released a new website with the intention of preparing all Catholics for the upcoming Year of Faith.

Pope Benedict XVI called for the Year of Faith, which begins on October 11, 2012, marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Holy Father called for this time in order to encourage Church members to study and understand Church teaching. This is necessary, he wrote in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, because many people have been affected by “a profound crisis of faith.”

We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden (cf. Mt 5:13-16). The people of today can still experience the need to go to the well, like the Samaritan woman, in order to hear Jesus, who invites us to believe in him and to draw upon the source of living water welling up within him (cf. Jn 4:14). We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples (cf. Jn 6:51). 

Quite appropriately, then, the Year of Faith website gives the faithful tools which will help them to rediscover this taste. Click through and you’ll find everything from Pope Benedict’s catechesis on Medieval Theologians to an online Compendium of the Catechism. They’ve even included the score for the official hymn of the Year of Faith!

This site is a beautiful contribution to the New Evangelization, and it’s sure to prepare Catholics for the upcoming Pontifical Council and the Year of Faith. Check out the calendar of events here, and make sure to participate by sharing the site with friends.

Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, Pray for Us!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Touch Him and You Shall Become Pure

Today is the feast of St. Clare of Assisi, the 13th century saint who rejected noble wealth for a life of poverty and humility.
Inspired by St. Francis of Assisi, Clare followed the deepest desires of her heart at the age of 18 and left everything her aristocratic family had to offer. She became a virgin bride of Christ, courageously dawning a coarse brown habit and letting go of all material things with full faith and trust in God.
Clare was one of the first women to adopt a life of poverty and service. Others followed, and eventually she founded a new religious order: the Poor Clares. These nuns lived much like St. Francis’s friars, accepting no material property and leaving everything up to Divine Providence. The order also adopted St. Clare’s most precious charism: a deep love for the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
We can learn many things from the life of St. Clare of Assisi, but her detachment from all material things is perhaps the most inspiring and certainly the most difficult to imitate today. Pope Benedict XVI addressed this last Sunday in his Angelus address. Earthy desires are not necessarily bad, he said, but it is important to recognize that only God can satisfy the heart:

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Young Woman in Search of the Truth

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, or Edith Stein, who was canonized by Blessed John Paul II in 1998. “A young woman in search of the truth,” Edith serves as a model for young thinkers seeking what is good and right, and what is truly free. Although she was brought up by a Jewish mother, Edith turned from prayer to philosophy and self-reliance as she grew. Her heart yearned for hope as she searched for truth, and this open-hearted seeking eventually led to a surprising answer: “only those who commit themselves to the love of Christ become truly free.”
And commit to Christ she did. Once St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross found the Truth, she gave herself to Him through entering the Carmelite Order and eventually, through her martyrdom. In his homily for her canonization Mass, Blessed John Paul II said:
Because she was Jewish, Edith Stein was taken with her sister Rosa and many other Catholic Jews from the Netherlands to the concentration camp in Auschwitz, where she died with them in the gas chambers. Today we remember them all with deep respect. A few days before her deportation, the woman religious had dismissed the question about a possible rescue: “Do not do it! Why should I be spared? Is it not right that I should gain no advantage from my Baptism? If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed”.
St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, the “martyr for love” who told us not to “accept anything as the truth if it lacks love” or “accept anything as love which lacks truth,” Pray for Us!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

That Young People May Bear the Gospel

This month, Pope Benedict XVI’s Missionary intention is that the youth may witness to Christ: “That young people, called to follow Christ, may be willing to proclaim and bear witness to the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
In a year’s time, Pope Benedict will be in Rio de Janeiro with millions of young people for the 28th World Youth Day. Two weeks ago, the Pope thanked the organizers of the event, which is “a precious opportunity for a great many young people to experience the joy and beauty of belonging to the Church and of living the faith.”
The theme for WYD 2013 is: “Go and make disciples of all nations.” Let us pray with the Holy Father, then, that young people may go out and engage in the New Evangelization.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Sadness and Joy in America

This past Sunday, six people were killed and others critically wounded when a gunman opened fire during a worship service at a Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Bishop Denis Madden, auxiliary bishop of Baltimore and chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, asked the American Church to pray in solidarity with the Sikh community. He said:
The U.S. bishops stand with the Sikh community and reject all violence, particularly violence inflicted out of religious intolerance. We are especially saddened that this horrendous act was carried out in a house of worship against people joined together as a family to worship God. Our prayers are with everyone touched by this, especially those who’ve lost family members and loved ones.
Many of the faithful came together this weekend in Los Angeles for the Guadalupe Celebration, which was co-sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Read here for more on the joyous event. And as we reflect on the beauty and consolation the Blessed Mother brings into our lives, let us also remember to ask her to comfort our brothers and sisters in the Sikh community.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pray for Us!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Descending from Mount Tabor

Today, the Eucharist which we are preparing to celebrate takes us in spirit to Mount Tabor together with the Apostles Peter, James and John, to admire in rapture the splendour of the transfigured Lord. In the event of the Transfiguration we contemplate the mysterious encounter between history, which is being built every day, and the blessed inheritance that awaits us in heaven in full union with Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
We, pilgrims on earth, are granted to rejoice in the company of the transfigured Lord when we immerse ourselves in the things of above through prayer and the celebration of the divine mysteries. But, like the disciples, we too must descend from Tabor into daily life where human events challenge our faith. On the mountain we saw; on the paths of life we are asked tirelessly to proclaim the Gospel which illuminates the steps of believers…
…May Mary, our tender and caring Mother, help us to be bright rays of the saving light of her Son Jesus.
-Blessed John Paul II, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, August 6, 1999

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Health and All the Grace We Need

During Wednesday’s feast of St. Alphonsus Liguori, Pope Benedict XVI gave his General Audience on the topic of prayer:
Dear friends, this is the central question: what is really necessary in our lives? We answer together with St. Alphonsus: "The health and all the grace we need”, meaning not only the health of the body, but primarily that of the soul which Jesus gifts to us. More than anything else we need his liberating presence that makes us truly fully human, and thus our existence full of joy. And only through prayer can we accept Him, His grace, which, by illuminating us in every situation, helps us discern the truth, and, by fortifying us, renders our will capable of implementing what we know to be good. We often know what is good, but are incapable of doing it. Through prayer, we can.The disciple of the Lord knows he is always exposed to temptation and in prayer never fails to ask God for help to conquer it.
According to St. Alphonsus, prayer is "a means necessary to salvation and the graces we need to achieve it.” Let us open our hearts to God, then, and ask His Holy Spirit to teach us how to pray.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New Evangelization is a Return to the "First Love”

The new evangelization does not consist in proclaiming a new message different from the one that has always existed, nor in merely using new strategies or boisterous methods to attract people. It is in fact a question of returning to the “first love” mentioned to us in the Book of Revelation when the Church of Ephesus is reproached. The new evangelization must be geared to ensuring that the men and women of this secularized society return to living their happiness in the presence and closeness of God's love in their lives. It is a matter of returning to the freshness of the Gospel, of letting themselves be filled with surprise and wonder by the word of Jesus himself, as happened when he began his public life and the people who heard him asked themselves “What is this? A new teaching!”, and were surprised at Jesus' actions (cf. Mk 1:267).
-José Octavio Ruiz Arenas, Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Religious Liberty and Political Civility

Vatican News highlighted the recent International Religious Freedom Report released by the U.S. State Department. Religious liberty is in danger abroad, and as we’ve written here before, religious freedom is endangered in America as well.
American citizens are blessed that these threats come in the form of policy mandates and not in the Church bombings we see in the Middle East today. Some think that we are on our way to that type of persecution, but until then we still have the political process as our weapon.
One step towards protecting our precious American freedom is debating with a civil and respectful tone. A recent Knights of Columbus-Marist poll found that 78 percent of people in the U.S. are frustrated with the tone of current politics. This is why the Knights have launched their Civility in America campaign, to encourage political leaders and media to maintain a civil discourse and a Christian respect for opposing parties.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia wrote a great piece about this. The whole article is worth the read, but the most important thing to remember is: Jesus has already claimed victory.
So we should march towards Him in this battle for religious liberty. No matter what happens, we will be victorious with Him in the end.