Saturday, June 29, 2013

Celebrating The Pillars Of God's Church

“Blessed is the Lord who delivers his friends” (Response, Responsorial Psalm; Italian Lectionary). In their apostolic mission, Sts Peter and Paul were obliged to face difficulties of every kind. But, far from deterring their missionary activity, these difficulties reinforced their zeal for the Church's welfare and for the salvation of mankind. They were able to overcome every trial because their trust was not based on human resources but on the grace of the Lord, who, as the readings of today's solemnity recall, delivers his friends from every evil and saves them for his kingdom (cf. Acts 12:11; 1 Tm 4:18).

It is this same trust in God which must also sustain us. Yes, the “Lord delivers his friends.” This awareness must instill courage in us as we face the difficulties encountered in proclaiming the Gospel in daily life. May our holy patrons, Peter and Paul, sustain us and obtain for us that missionary zeal which made them witnesses of Christ to the ends of the then-known world.

Pray for us, holy Apostles Peter and Paul, “pillars” of God's Church!

                -Blessed John Paul II, Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, 1999

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Event To Last A Lifetime

Over at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops blog, Director of Media Relations Sr. Mary Ann Walsh reflects on her experience as director of communications for the 1993 World Youth Day in Denver.

With less than a month to go before WYD Rio, it is good to take a look back and see the fruitful effects of Blessed John Paul II’s mission to evangelize the youth.

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Lay Your Wearied Head On His Open Breast

You are full of weaknesses. Every day you see them more clearly. But don’t let them frighten you. He well knows you can’t yield more fruit.

Your involuntary falls—those of a child—show your Father God that he must take more care, and your Mother Mary that she must never let you go from her loving hand. Each day, as our Lord picks you up from the ground, take advantage of it, embrace him with all your strength and lay your wearied head on his open breast so that you’ll be carried away by the beating of his most loving heart.

                  -St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 884

Oh St. Josemaría Escrivá, who was canonized by Blessed John Paul II, pray for us on this day of your feast, that our weary hearts receive grace enough to take refuge in the Lord and His Mother.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Jesus Reveals The Original Truth Of Marriage

One of Blessed John Paul II’s most serious concerns during his pontificate, was the place of family and marriage in this rapidly changing world. With the sexual revolution and wide moral turns in society and culture, he saw the need to respond with simple catechesis on the beauty of marriage.

His General Audiences on the Theology of the Body are perhaps his most popular, but his thought on the meaning of marriage can also be found in his 1981, Familiaris Consortio:

The communion between God and His people finds its definitive fulfillment in Jesus Christ, the Bridegroom who loves and gives Himself as the Savior of humanity, uniting it to Himself as His body.

He reveals the original truth of marriage, the truth of the "beginning," and, freeing man from his hardness of heart, He makes man capable of realizing this truth in its entirety.

This revelation reaches its definitive fullness in the gift of love which the Word of God makes to humanity in assuming a human nature, and in the sacrifice which Jesus Christ makes of Himself on the Cross for His bride, the Church. In this sacrifice there is entirely revealed that plan which God has imprinted on the humanity of man and woman since their creation; the marriage of baptized persons thus becomes a real symbol of that new and eternal covenant sanctioned in the blood of Christ. The Spirit which the Lord pours forth gives a new heart, and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ has loved us. Conjugal love reaches that fullness to which it is interiorly ordained, conjugal charity, which is the proper and specific way in which the spouses participate in and are called to live the very charity of Christ who gave Himself on the Cross.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Hoping That He Will Be Numbered Among The Saints

News sources are reporting that Blessed John Paul II’s second miracle has been approved! We are waiting for an official announcement from the Vatican. Let us continue to pray, that our beloved Holy Father will soon be numbered among the Saints.

Every day at the Blessed John Paul II Shrine, after Mass and before the relic of John Paul II, we recite the prayer below. Will you join us?

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.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Conscience Has Rights Because It Has Duties

As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops kick off their Fortnight for Freedom today, let us reflect on this passage from Blessed John Paul II’s Vertatis Splendor, in which he shares his thoughts on the importance of freedom of conscience:

The human issues most frequently debated and differently resolved in contemporary moral reflection are all closely related, albeit in various ways, to a crucial issue: human freedom. 
Certainly people today have a particularly strong sense of freedom. As the Council's Declaration on Religious Freedom Dignitatis Humanae had already observed, "the dignity of the human person is a concern of which people of our time are becoming increasingly more aware." Hence the insistent demand that people be permitted to "enjoy the use of their own responsible judgment and freedom, and decide on their actions on grounds of duty and conscience, without external pressure or coercion." In particular, the right to religious freedom and to respect for conscience on its journey towards the truth is increasingly perceived as the foundation of the cumulative rights of the person. 
This heightened sense of the dignity of the human person and of his or her uniqueness, and of the respect due to the journey of conscience, certainly represents one of the positive achievements of modern culture. This perception, authentic as it is, has been expressed in a number of more or less adequate ways, some of which however diverge from the truth about man as a creature and the image of God, and thus need to be corrected and purified in the light of faith. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Lamp To My Feet And Light To My Path

In our last Year of Faith reflection, we touched on the revelation of Jesus Christ entrusted to us in Sacred Scripture. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) explains that in “order to reveal himself to men, in the condescension of his goodness God speaks to them in human words…” (101). Scripture is a gift to men and women, for otherwise we would not understand what God so mercifully wants to tell us.

The Church venerates Sacred Scripture as one utterance, one Word from God the Father who speaks lovingly to His children. Although this one Word was written by human authors, all parts of the Old and New Testaments are believed to be inspired by the Holy Spirit:

"God chose men and while employed by Him they made use of their powers and abilities, so that with Him acting in them and through them, they, as true authors, consigned to writing everything and only those things which He wanted" (Dei Verbum, 11).

Now the Christian Church does not take all parts of the Scripture word for word, but understands that, “Christianity is the religion of the ‘Word,’ of God, a word which is ‘not a written and mute word, but the Word which is incarnate and living’” (CCC, 108):

The Bible is not meant to convey precise historical information or scientific findings to us. Moreover, the authors were children of their time. They shared the cultural ideas of the world around them and often were also dominated by its errors. Nevertheless, everything that man must know about God and the way of his salvation is found with infallible certainty in Sacred Scripture (YOUCAT, 15).

This is why the faithful must look to the Holy Spirit, the interpreter of Scripture, and recognize that there are literal and spiritual senses to what we read. We must pay attention to what the sacred author’s intention is, first being “attentive ‘to the content and unity of the whole Scripture’” (CCC, 112). Second, the Scriptures should be read within the Tradition of the Church, within “the faith that gave rise to them” (YOUCAT, 16). Third, pay attention to the “analogy of faith,” or the “coherence of the truths of faith among themselves” (CCC, 112-114).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A New Missionary Age

Today, as never before, the Church
has the opportunity of bringing the Gospel,
by witness and word, to all people and
nations. I see the dawning of a new
missionary age, which will become a radiant
day bearing an abundant harvest,
if all Christians, and missionaries and
young churches in particular, respond with
generosity and holiness to the calls and
challenges of our time.

-Blessed John Paul II

December 7, 1990

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Call Me And Bid Me Come To You

Most often, all that the Pope has in common with the members of the Church is Jesus Christ. Of course, Christ is the strongest bond one could have with another, but it seems that this bond becomes clearer when deeper commonalities are discovered. For example, members of the Society of Jesus probably feel more connected to Pope Francis than to other Popes in the past. 

This is why Blessed John Paul II’s 1999 “Letter to the Elderly” is so powerful for the aged among us. He was 79 years old when he wrote it, therefore in deep solidarity with his readers. His support and guidance are quite meaningful, then, and his experience witnesses well to the Christian approach to old age and dying. John Paul II writes:

I find great peace in thinking of the time when the Lord will call me: from life to life! And so I often find myself saying, with no trace of melancholy, a prayer recited by priests after the celebration of the Eucharist: In hora mortis meae voca me, et iube me venire ad te – at the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to you. This is the prayer of Christian hope, which in no way detracts from the joy of the present, while entrusting the future to God's gracious and loving care.

Iube me venire ad te!”: this is the deepest yearning of the human heart, even in those who are not conscious of it.

Enjoy this insightful letter, and pass it along to those who need to hear the message. Let it serve as a reminder to those of us who are temporarily young and nondisabled to visit and pray for the elderly.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Perplexed But Not Driven To Despair

Brothers and sisters:
We hold this treasure in earthen vessels,
that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us.
We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not abandoned;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying about in the Body the dying of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body.
For we who live are constantly being given up to death
for the sake of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

So death is at work in us, but life in you.
Since, then, we have the same spirit of faith,
according to what is written, “I believed, therefore I spoke,”
we too believe and therefore speak,
knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus
will raise us also with Jesus
and place us with you in his presence.
Everything indeed is for you,
so that the grace bestowed in abundance on more and more people
may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Are You Hungry For Something?

Last week, there was a story in the Washington Post about the New Evangelization.

The witness of John Gallagher is particularly striking, especially the efforts he’s making to bring people to the Church. In addition to door-to-door visits, inviting people to events at his parish, he also brings his faith into the workplace:

…he’s been making daily efforts. He’ll use a piece of religion news as a conversation starter, make a visible point of walking out of the room at the office when talk turns to a racy, drunken work party, or wear a suit from a morning prayer event to work so people might ask why he’s so dressed up.

Blessed John Paul II, please pray for us, that we may have the courage to evangelize like this to the people in our lives.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Evangelium Vitae Day

This coming weekend, Pope Francis will gather with faithful pilgrims to celebrate Evangelium Vitae, in support of the sanctity of every human life. According to the Year of Faith site:

It will offer the opportunity for the faithful from around the world to gather with the Holy Father in a communal witness to the sacred value of all life: The lives of the aged, the lives of the sick, the lives of the dying, the lives of the unborn, the lives of the physically and mentally challenged, and the lives of all those who suffer. In addition, this event will offer the occasion to celebrate, affirm, and encourage all those who so tenderly and with self-abandonment follow in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd by tending to the physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of those who are aged, disabled, ill, unborn, homebound, dying or who suffer in any way. It is our hope that the number of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square will be so great that all the world will be able to hear from Rome our Church’s choral expression of the very heart of Jesus’ redemptive mission: "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10, Cf. Evangelium Vitae, 1).

For those in Washington D.C., the Blessed John Paul II Shrine will be celebrating a Holy Hour of Healing & Reparation corresponding to the event, from 3pm-4pm this Saturday June 14. This will be a traditional holy hour with Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. The Divine Mercy Chaplet will be prayed, and silent prayer will follow before Benediction.

Come join us in interceding for the dignity of every human person!

Friday, June 7, 2013

The Heart Invites

For such knowledge acquired with the heart, with every human heart, the Divine Heart of the One who was condemned and crucified on Calvary was opened at the end of his earthly life.

Different is the measure of this knowledge on the part of human hearts. Before the power of Paul's words, let each of us question himself on the measure of his own heart. "...(We shall) reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows every thing" (1 Jn 3:19-20). The Heart of the God-Man does not judge human hearts. The Heart calls. The Heart "invites." That was the purpose for which it was opened with the soldier's spear.

The mystery of the heart opens up through the wounds of the body; the great mystery of piety opens up, the deep feelings of mercy of our God open up…
                -Blessed John Paul II, General Audience, June 20, 1979

Like Blessed John Paul II, let us meditate on the Mystery of the Divine Heart on this Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.