Friday, November 30, 2012

Great Mosaic of Evangelization

World Youth Day 2013 is a little over seven months away, and Pope Benedict XVI is now calling on the young people of the Church to begin meditating on it’s theme: “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt 28:19). “To make Christ known is the most precious gift that you can give to others,” he said in a recent message published in preparation for the gathering in Rio de Janeiro. Young people, especially, have a very important role to play in making Christ known to the world.  

The Holy Father recognizes that, when young people notice difficulties in the world, their first response is to ask what they can do to help. In a world that is hostile to God, or in some places, just apathetic to His presence, young people still have this touching ability to shine the light of faith, which “illumines this darkness.” After Vatican II, Pope Paul VI made a call to young people: “Build with enthusiasm a better world than what we have today!” Pope Benedict encourages young people to do the same, because love “is the only thing that can fill hearts and bring people together.” It gives people the meaning and the joy they are looking for, and it points those lost souls towards a Father who is thirsting for them.

In order to genuinely spread the Gospel, Pope Benedict suggests that young people meet Jesus first. He writes, “Those who come to Jesus and have experienced his love, immediately want to share the beauty of the meeting and the joy born of his friendship.” Jesus Christ is the Good News, and a relationship with Him will give us the unity and the love necessary to go out and make disciples. The Holy Father gives St. Andrew as an example, who immediately after meeting Jesus, ran off to tell his brother Simon (cf. John 1:40-42). An awareness of His presence at all times and openness to His Holy Spirit will give us the words necessary to communicate the Good News.

Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that this mission to evangelize must be coupled with a better knowledge of the Faith, unity with the Church, a renewed commitment to become familiar with the Word of God, and a strong prayer life centered on the Sacraments. “Authentic evangelization is born of prayer and sustained by prayer,” he writes. He also suggests that young people recognize the broad call to evangelize “all nations,” yet accept the task at a closer level—to focus on bringing the joy of the Good News to those around them. He says:

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Deck the Halls and Bookmark This Page

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops posted an Advent calendar on their website, which includes daily inspirations and challenges for those who are looking for a little guidance this Advent season. There’s no candy in this calendar, but rest assured that it will bear much fruit! 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Reject the Seduction of Consumerism

As we enter the Christmas season, which is often inappropriately labeled with the materialism of our culture, let us remember this advice Blessed John Paul II gave to the young people of Cologne in 2004:

"Opening their treasures they offered Him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh" (Mt 2:11). The gifts that the Magi offered the Messiah symbolized true worship. With gold, they emphasized His Royal Godhead; with incense, they acknowledged Him as the priest of the New Covenant; by offering Him myrrh, they celebrated the prophet who would shed His own blood to reconcile humanity with the Father.

My dear young people, you too offer to the Lord the gold of your lives, namely, your freedom to follow Him out of love, responding faithfully to His call; let the incense of your fervent prayer rise up to him, in praise of His glory; offer Him your myrrh, that is your affection of total gratitude to Him, true Man, who loved us to the point of dying as a criminal on Golgotha.

Be worshippers of the only true God, giving Him pride of place in your lives! Idolatry is an ever-present temptation. Sadly, there are those who seek the solution to their problems in religious practices that are incompatible with the Christian faith. There is a strong urge to believe in the facile myths of success and power; it is dangerous to accept the fleeting ideas of the sacred which present God in the form of cosmic energy, or in any other manner that is inconsistent with Catholic teaching.

My dear young people, do not yield to false illusions and passing fads which so frequently leave behind a tragic spiritual vacuum! Reject the seduction of wealth, consumerism and the subtle violence sometimes used by the mass media.

Worshipping the true God is an authentic act of resistance to all forms of idolatry. Worship Christ: He is the Rock on which to build your future and a world of greater justice and solidarity. Jesus is the Prince of peace: the source of forgiveness and reconciliation, who can make brothers and sisters of all the members of the human family.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Our Most Loving King

St. Francis Xavier’s Hymn of Love (1552)

O God, I love Thee not because
I hope for heaven thereby,
Not yet because who love Thee not
Are lost eternally.

Thou, O my Jesus, Thou didst me
Upon the cross embrace;
For me didst bear the nails and spear
And manifold disgrace;

And griefs and torments numberless,
And sweat of agony;
E’en death itself—and all for me
Who was Thine enemy.

Then why, O blessed Jesus Christ
Should I not love Thee well?
Not for the sake of winning heaven,
Nor of escaping hell;

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Blessed John Paul II Shrine Goes Social

We’re officially on the social media scene! Make sure to “Like” the Blessed John Paul II Shrine page on Facebook, and to follow us on Twitter at @JP2Shrine.

Pope Benedict XVI encourages the faithful to make use of social media tools for communication. Social networks and search engines are often “the starting point of communication for many people who are seeking advice, ideas, information and answers,” he says.

We hope to use these tools in order to help those who are seeking, by inspiring them with the life and thought of Blessed John Paul II. We also hope to keep people up to date on the Year of Faith, the New Evangelization, and of course, events and exhibits at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine.

Join us and spread the word, so that we may all take part in Blessed John Paul II’s call to a New Evangelization.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Long Live Christ the King!

Today the Church celebrates the feast of Blessed Miguel Pro, a Jesuit priest martyred in 1927, during a time of intense religious persecution in Mexico. Dubbed the “undercover priest,” he was ultimately arrested and executed for administering the Sacraments.

Videos and photos of his execution are very moving. Catholic News Agency provides a telling account:

As Fr. Pro walked from his cell to the prison courtyard, he blessed the firing squad and then knelt and prayed silently for a few moments. Refusing a blindfold, he stood, faced the firing squad, and with a crucifix in one hand and a rosary in the other, he held his arms outstretched in the form of a cross and in a loud, clear voice cried out, "May God have mercy on you! May God bless you! Lord, Thou knowest that I am innocent! With all my heart I forgive my enemies!" As the soldiers lifted their rifles, he exclaimed in a loud voice, "Viva Cristo Rey!" - "Long live Christ the King!"

Miguel Pro, who was beatified by Blessed John Paul II in 1988, stood for the Church until the day he died, and his whole life was a lesson in love and truth.

Blessed Miguel Pro, pray for us today, that we may stand with the Lord in the face of our daily trials and in the bigger ones to come. 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

All of us here at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine would like thank you for your support and your prayers so far this year. We have so much to be grateful for as we continue to design, build, and see God’s plan come into fruition.

Today Americans celebrate Thanksgiving Day, and we would like to invite you all to pray with us:

Lord, we thank you
for the goodness of our people
and for the spirit of justice
that fills this nation.
We thank you for the beauty and fullness of the
land and the challenge of the cities.

We thank you for our work and our rest,
for one another, and for our homes.
We thank you, Lord:
accept our thanksgiving on this day.
We pray and give thanks through Jesus Christ our Lord.