Monday, December 31, 2012

How to Pray a Holy Hour

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling us to pray a Holy Hour for life, marriage, and religious liberty each month. In the pursuit of holiness, we might be called to more—perhaps weekly or even daily holy hours.

So how can we best spend this time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?

There is no one formula, for the Holy Spirit draws each of us in to prayer in unique ways. Still, we might find it helpful to see how others approach Him. Here is a helpful guide for any who find themselves lost in long periods of prayer. 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Continent of the Family

The Blessed John Paul II Shrine is full of life during this Christmas Octave. Lights are dancing, green trees are sparkling, and visitors are filled with hopeful anticipation of the work to come—particularly the exhibit on the life and legacy of Blessed John Paul II

The Shrine is currently hosting another exhibit, which is especially meaningful today on this Feast of the Holy Family. Nearly 100 African Crèches, or Nativity scenes, are on display at the Shrine, as well as other statues and artwork from 23 African countries and tribes. This Christmas Across Africa Exhibit includes wood and stone sculptures, Coptic icons, banana leaf Nativity scenes, polished stones, and papyrus paintings. The beautiful statue of the Holy Family in the picture above comes from Zimbabwe and was carved from black serpentine stone.

It is fitting, of course, to have crèches on display during the Christmas season. It is even more fitting to have these particular crèches on display at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine, for the late Holy Father was very fond of the young and vibrant Church of Africa. He traveled to African countries quite often, and he found that the Christian sprit was very much alive there, especially in African families. In a homily given during his 1995 visit to Kenya, John Paul II said:

In the past I have been able to visit most of these countries, meeting the great African family of peoples. Where it has not yet been possible I hope some day to go. The question is often asked: why does the Pope visit Africa so often? One reason stands out: Africa is the continent of the family, and the future of the Church’s evangelizing mission passes through the family.

This “Christmas Across Africa” Exhibit reminds us that Africa is “the continent of the family,” where the Holy Family stands as a model for love and evangelization. In that same homily, Blessed John Paul II said, “In transmitting the Gospel spirit, Christian families have a perfect model in the Holy Family of Nazareth.” With his trust, patience, and courage, St. Joseph protected and provided for the Blessed Mother and the Son of God. The Blessed Mother humbly nurtured the Son of God and led Him to His true purpose in the Father. As a Son, Jesus brought Mary and Joseph together in love and carried them both to Eternal Life with the Father.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Some New Year’s Resolutions From the USCCB

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is calling all Catholic faithful to prayer, penance, and sacrifice in 2013. This is part of a movement for life, marriage, and religious liberty in America, in response to social and political movements in the past year. This movement begins tomorrow, on the feast of the Holy Family, and lasts until the feast of Christ the King on November 24, 2013.

Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordlleone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said, “The pastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice - it's meant to be simple. ... Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but also fundamental to the good of society.”

These simple resolutions include:
  1.  Monthly Holy Hour
  2. Daily Rosary
  3. Intentions for life, marriage, and religious liberty in Prayers of the Faithful
  4. Fasting and Abstinence on Fridays
  5. Participating in the 2nd Fortnight for Freedom in Summer 2013

For more information on these resolutions and about the strategy itself, see the USCCB site

Friday, December 28, 2012

Death Battles Against Life

Today the Church celebrates the Feast of Holy Innocents, remembering those children who died in Christ’s stead during Herod’s persecution (see Matt 2:16-18). 

Blessed John Paul II reminds us that Innocents still see death each day in the modern world:

This marvelous world – so loved by the Father that he sent his only Son for its salvation (Cfr. Io 3,17) – is the theater of a never – ending battle being waged for our dignity and identity as free, spiritual beings. This struggle parallels the apocalyptic combat…Death battles against Life: a "culture of death" seeks to impose itself on our desire to live, and live to the full. There are those who reject the light of life, preferring "the fruitless works of darkness" (Eph 5,11). Their harvest is injustice, discrimination, exploitation, deceit, violence. In every age, a measure of their apparent success is the death of the Innocents. In our own century, as at no other time in history, the "culture of death" has assumed a social and institutional form of legality to justify the most horrible crimes against humanity: genocide, "final solutions", "ethnic cleansings", and the massive "taking of lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death…"

            -Blessed John Paul II, Homily at Cherry Creek State Park, WYD Denver 1993

Let us pray for an end to abortion in the Americas, and let us pray especially for the people of Ireland, that they may be strong in their resistance to the legalization of abortion in their country.

Oh Holy Innocents, who fight for us now as a white-robed army of children, pray for us, that we may be given grace enough to build a Culture of Life!

What Do We Do, Now That The Lord Is Born?

Blessed John Paul II says, pray the Rosary:

The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary's side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is ''fully formed'' in us... Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us?

Thursday, December 27, 2012

That You Too May Have Fellowship With Us

What was from the beginning,
what we have heard,
what we have seen with our eyes,
what we looked upon
and touched with our hands
concerns the Word of life --
for the life was made visible;
we have seen it and testify to it
and proclaim to you the eternal life
that was with the Father and was made visible to us?
what we have seen and heard
we proclaim now to you,
so that you too may have fellowship with us;
for our fellowship is with the Father
and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

            1 John 1: 1-4

This is the first reading for Mass today, on the Feast of St. John, Apostle and Evangelist. St. John was beloved by our Lord Jesus Christ, and as an evangelist he spread that love through God’s Word and throughout the Church.

St. John, who saw the Son of God and believed, pray for us!