Monday, July 29, 2013

Embracing Our Elder Brothers

In an Op-Ed with the Los Angeles Times, Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein of the Simon Wiesenthal Center join their Catholic friends in praying that people of all faiths find inspiration in Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II.
These great men deserve admiration and respect, Cooper and Adlerstein say, due to their efforts towards breaking down the centuries old barrier between the Christian and Jewish people.
Of our beloved patron, they write:
As a young man in Poland under Hitler, Karol Wojtyla was witness to hell on Earth. He personally rescued a starving 13-year-old Jewish girl at a rail station, feeding and caring for her.
During the Middle Ages, Jews in Rome's Great Synagogue were forced to listen to harangues against their faith delivered by apostate Jews. John Paul II delivered a different message when he attended that synagogue, the first pope to visit a Jewish house of worship, embracing Rome's Chief Rabbi Elio Toaff and calling Jews the "elder brothers" of Christians.
He continued walking on new ground. He visited Jerusalem and the Western Wall, praying there for forgiveness for the way Christians had mistreated Jews for almost 2,000 years. He walked in pilgrimage to the blood-drenched killing grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau. He organized a papal concert in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust. He established full diplomatic relations with Israel, accepting a revivified Jewish nation.

Even before he was Pope, Blessed John Paul II was saintly in his recognition of the dignity of every human person. He carried that with him to the papacy, and now we the faithful ask for his intercession, that we may do the same.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The New Evangelization Series

Do you want to learn more about the New Evangelization?

The Blessed John Paul II Shrine is now promoting a new set of booklets, the New Evangelization Series, published through the Knights of Columbus Catholic Information Service. Each book promises to take readers deeper into the Catholic faith.

The New Evangelization Series responds to Blessed John Paul II’s and Pope Benedict XVI’s call for the faithful to dive into the “beauty and contemporary relevance of the faith.” Topics include the Catholic understanding of God, the human person, the Church, the Christian’s task in the world, and eternal life in the light of love revealed in Jesus Christ. According to the Catholic Information Service, “the series helps readers discover the joy that comes from sharing in God’s life.”

See the Catholic Information Service page for more information.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Passing Love On To The Young

Today, looking forward to the World Youth Day which has brought me to Brazil, I too come to knock on the door of the house of Mary – who loved and raised Jesus – that she may help all of us, pastors of God’s people, parents and educators, to pass on to our young people the values that can help them build a nation and a world which are more just, united and fraternal. 

-Pope Francis, Mass at Aparecida Shrine

Like Blessed John Paul II, Pope Francis entrusted the youth of the world to the Blessed Mother. He also thanked his predecessor for the institution of World Youth Day, and all of the vocations that have blossomed from the gatherings.

With all of the excitement over World Youth Day Rio, let also thank our beloved Blessed John Paul II for the love he poured out to young people. For a reminder, check out these articles on World Youth Day Manila and World Youth Day Denver.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Man Ate The Bread Of Angels

R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

They tempted God in their hearts
by demanding the food they craved.
Yes, they spoke against God, saying,
“Can God spread a table in the desert?”

R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Yet he commanded the skies above
and the doors of heaven he opened;
He rained manna upon them for food
and gave them heavenly bread. 

R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Man ate the bread of angels,
food he sent them in abundance.
He stirred up the east wind in the heavens,
and by his power brought on the south wind.

R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.
And he rained meat upon them like dust,
and, like the sand of the sea, winged fowl,
Which fell in the midst of their camp
round about their tents. 

R. The Lord gave them bread from heaven.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The Mirror of Faith

The Church…guards [this preaching and faith] with care, as dwelling in but a single house, and similarly believes as if having but one soul and a single heart, and preaches, teaches, and hands on this faith with a unanimous voice, as if possessing only one mouth.

-St. Irenaeus of Lyon

The Church carries with her a creed, for communion “in faith needs a common language of faith, normative for all and uniting all in the same confession of faith” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 185). In one brief formula, gathered from the Scriptures and summarizing the whole of the Good News, the people of the Church are able to declare their one love for the one Truth in Jesus Christ.

The word “formula” might seem off-putting, and earthily out of place when it comes to things above this world. The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church explains why this formula is necessary, though:

Without fixed forms, the content of the faith would dissipate. That is why the Church attaches great importance to definite sentences, the precise wording of which was usually achieved painstakingly, so as to protect the message of Christ from misunderstandings and falsifications. Furthermore, creeds are important when the Church’s faith has to be translated into different cultures while being preserved in its essentials, because a common faith is the foundation of the Church’s unity (25).

We call these forms, “professions of faith,” “creeds,” or “symbols of faith,” and they stand as points of reference for catechesis (CCC, 187). 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

A Person Committed To Love

In an interview about the Blessed John Paul II Shrine last week, our executive director Patrick Kelly spoke about the legacy of Blessed John Paul II. He said:

I think he was a person committed to love; that is to say, he believed that the human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and as such, every person has dignity and I think that is what caused him to have this tremendous love for humanity, for the human person.

That’s what was the engine behind his pontificate. … That’s why he traveled so much, to reach people with this message of dignity and to bring the message of Jesus Christ to people.

Oh Blessed John Paul II, pray for us, that we may be a people committed to love.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Popes And World Youth Day

Blessed John Paul II rallied young Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI instructed them and Pope Francis is preparing to send them out on mission.

Read more about what each of these men gave to World Youth Day, and what each of them received in return. 

Only a few weeks to go until WYD Rio! Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Possibility of Peace

Jesus I trust in You! … Spes contra spem! With God nothing is impossible! What is especially possible is conversion, which can change hatred into love and war into peace. And so our prayer becomes all the more insistent and trusting: Jesus, I trust in you!

-Blessed John Paul II, 1994

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To The Youth Of The World

Blessed John Paul II, who always shared Christ’s love for young people, announced the institution of World Youth Day in 1985, during the United Nations’ first “International Youth Year.”  This announcement came after his celebration of the 1984 International Jubilee for the Young and the release of his 1985 Apostolic Letter, Dilecti Amici.

This letter to “The Youth of the World,” sheds light on the late Holy Father’s zeal for the young and the reasoning behind the great attention and guidance he gave to them during his pontificate.

In you there is hope, for you belong to the future, just as the future belongs to you. For hope is always linked to the future; it is the expectation of “future good things” (1).

The future of the Church rests in the hearts of the young, and so Blessed John Paul II encouraged them to “always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). He does this by reflecting on the passage from the Gospel of Mark, about the young man who asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.

These verses encourage young people to see their adolescence as a treasure, a time to ask the important questions about the meaning of life and to refer every single one of them to God. It is a time to grow in conscience, in morality, and most importantly, in the awareness of Christ’s love for them. It is a time to discover what it is God is asking each to give and how He is asking each to follow Him.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Light Of Faith Illumines Human Relationships

Once we discover the full light of Christ’s love, we realize that each of the loves in our own lives had always contained a ray of that light, and we understand its ultimate destination. That fact that our human loves contain that ray of light also helps us to see how all love is meant to share in the complete self-gift of the Son of God for our sake. In this circular movement, the light of faith illumines all our human relationships, which can then be lived in union with the gentle love of Christ.

-Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei

Saturday, July 13, 2013

A Model Of The Perennial Youth Of The Gospel

Today the Church celebrates St. Teresa de los Andes, the first Saint of Chile. After living a short life here on earth, from 1900 to 1920, Teresa is a saint for the young and one of the primary intercessors for the upcoming World Youth Day in Brazil.

At her canonization, Blessed John Paul II said:

Sr. Teresa “de los Andes,” Teresa of Jesus, is the light of Christ for the whole Chilean Church; the Discalced Carmelite, the first fruit of holiness of the Teresian Carmel of Latin America, today is enrolled among the saints of the Universal Church…God made shine forth in her in an admirable way the light of his Son, Jesus Christ, so that she could be a beacon and guide to a world which seems to be blind of the splendor of the divine. In a secularized society which turns its back on God, this Chilean Carmelite, whom to my great joy I present as a model of the perennial youth of the Gospel, gives the shining witness of a life which proclaims to the men and the women of our day that it is in the loving, adoring, and serving God that the human creature finds greatness and joy, freedom, and fulfillment. The life of Blessed Teresa cries out continually from within her cloister: “God alone suffices!” She shouts it out particularly to the young people who hunger for truth and seek a light which will give direction to their lives. To young people who are being allured by the continuous messages and stimuli of an erotic culture, a society which mistakes the hedonistic exploitation of another for genuine love which is self-giving, this young virgin of the Andes today proclaims the beauty and happiness that come from a pure heart.

St. Teresa de los Andes, pray for our young, that they may proclaim true joy through purity of heart.

Information from Matthew and Margaret Bunson’s John Paul II’s Book of Saints.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Not The “Blessed” John Paul II Shrine For Long

It looks like the Blessed John Paul II Shrine will have to change its name soon! Scheduled activities here at the Shrine will intensify as the Vatican moves closer to declaring our beloved John Paul II a saint, and will culminate on the day of canonization itself.

Keep up to date on canonization celebrations on our website, as well as our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Second Miracle of Blessed John Paul II

At a press conference last Friday, Floribeth Mora recounts the story of her healing through the intercession of Blessed John Paul II.

With tears in her eyes, Mora described how she was sent home with pain medicine but no apparent hope for treatment, thinking she was going to die after her 2011 aneurysm diagnosis.

She says a photograph of the pope seemed to speak to her during the deceased pontiff’s beatification, and her doctor says the aneurysm disappeared for no apparent reason.

Read more about Mora’s story here

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Assurance Of Things Hoped For

Every minute of every day, through every experience and encounter that we have, God invites us into His company. In order to believe, our hearts must be ready to listen and respond to God’s invitation.

This response is faith, and it involves completely submitting our intellect and our will to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). It is a free abandonment to the truth, “by trust in the person who bears witness to it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 177). Faith stakes everything on a relationship with this person, Jesus Christ, accepting Him as revelation of the one, all-merciful and all-powerful God.

The Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church (YOUCAT) lays out the qualities of faith in bullet points:

Faith is knowledge and trust. It has seven characteristics:
  • Faith is a sheer gift of God, which we receive when we fervently ask for it.
  • Faith is the supernatural power that is absolutely necessary if we are to attain salvation.
  • Faith requires the free will and clear understanding of a person when he accepts the divine invitation.
  • Faith is absolutely certain, because Jesus guarantees it.
  • Faith is incomplete unless it leads to active love.
  • Faith grows when we listen more and more carefully to God’s Word and enter a lively exchange with him in prayer.
  • Faith gives us even now a foretaste of the joy of heaven (21).

Faith is an authentically human act, in which our “intellect and will cooperate with divine grace” (CCC, 155). God does give us “motives of credibility,” in the miracles of Christ, the witness of saints, true prophecies, and in the fruitfulness of the Church (CCC, 156). Still faith “seeks understanding,” calling the believer to dive deeper into “a more penetrating knowledge,” which “will in turn call forth a greater faith, increasingly set afire by love” (CCC, 158).

Monday, July 8, 2013

A Prayer For Young People

O Lord Jesus Christ, keep these young people in your love. Let them hear your voice and believe what you say, for you alone have the words of life.

Teach them how to profess their faith, bestow their love, and impart their hope to others.

Make them convincing witnesses to your Gospel in a world so much in need of your saving grace.

Make them the new people of the Beatitudes, that they may be the salt of the earth and the light of the world at the beginning of the Third Christian Millennium!

Mary, Mother of the Church, protect and guide these young men and women of the Twenty-first Century. Keep us all close to your maternal heart. Amen.

-Blessed John Paul II, Homily for 2002 World Youth Day, Toronto

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Six Tips For The New Evangelization

At the Catholic Press Association's Catholic Media Conference in June, Fr. Robert Barron, Rector of Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary and founder of Word on Fire ministries, gave a presentation on “Media, Beauty and the New Evangelization.” Here he offered six suggestions for evangelizing in an effective way:
  1. Lead with beauty
  2. Don’t dumb down the message
  3. Preach with ardor
  4. Tell the great story of salvation history
  5. Stress the Augustinian anthropology
  6. Use Ireneaus’ doctrine of God

For more details on what these six tips mean, read the Our Sunday Visitor blog here. For more on what this New Evangelization is all about, check out the Blessed John Paul II Shrine website.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Blessed John Paul II To Be Canonized

“The goal and target of our life is He,
the Christ who awaits us—each one singly
and altogether—to lead us across the
boundaries of time to the eternal embrace
of the God who loves us.”

-Blessed John Paul II, November 26, 1995

God has blessed this day, for this morning Pope Francis approved the cause of canonization of both Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII. Let us take time to praise Our Lord this day, thanking Him for two holy men who are now in His eternal embrace.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

We Want God

On June 2, 1979, the Pope arrived in Poland. What followed will never be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

He knelt and kissed the ground, the dull gray tarmac of the airport outside Warsaw. At the same moment, the silent churches of Poland began to ring their bells. The Pope traveled by motorcade from the airport to the Old City of Warsaw.

The government had feared thousands or even tens of thousands would line the streets.

They were wrong.

By the end of the day, counting the people lining the streets and highways plus those massed outside Warsaw and then inside it—all of them cheering and throwing flowers and applauding and holding signs and singing—more than a million people had come.
In Victory Square in the Old City the Pope said a Mass. Communist officials watched from the windows of nearby hotels. The Pope gave what George Weigel called the greatest sermon of his life.

Why, he asked, had God lifted a Pole to the papacy? Perhaps it was because of how Poland had suffered for centuries, and through the twentieth century it had become “the land of particularly responsible witness” to God. The people of Poland, he suggested, had been chosen for a great role, to humbly but surely understand that they were the repository of a special “witness of His cross and resurrection.” He asked then if the people of Poland accepted the obligations of such a role in history. He asked if they were capable of accepting it.

The crowd responded with thunder.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Papal Intentions for July

Pope Francis’s general intention for the month is that, “World Youth Day in Brazil may encourage all young Christians to become disciples and missionaries of the Gospel.”

The Holy Father’s mission intention is that, “throughout Asia doors may open to messengers of the Gospel.”

Let us pray with Pope Francis this month, that our young people may be true disciples of the Word and that countries throughout Asia may be open to the Truth. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Blessed Junípero Serra, Pray for Us

Today the American Church celebrates the feast of the “Father of California Missions,” Blessed Junípero Serra. This Spanish Franciscan founded a number of missions, including Santa Clara and Santa Barbara, and worked to confirm over 5,000 native peoples in the Catholic faith. Despite a number of injuries and illnesses, he evangelized with courage, always trusting in the Providence of God.

During Junípero Serra’s beatification, Blessed John Paul II said that Fr. Serra:

…sowed the seeds of Christian faith amid the mountainous changes wrought by the arrival of European settlers in the New World…In fulfilling this ministry, Fr. Serra showed himself to be a true son of St. Francis.

On this day of your feast, Blessed Junípero Serra, pray for the Church as she continues with the mission of the New Evangelization.

Information from Matthew and Margaret Bunson’s John Paul II’s Book of Saints.