Friday, November 29, 2013

We Give Thanks

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God! 
These words we take from the very heart of the Eucharistic liturgy. Eucharist means thanksgiving. Today, as we meet around this altar, our first desire is to give thanks…
Our sacrifice and our prayer in union with the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ - in the sacramental identification with him - is above all a great act of thanksgiving by the Church.
We give thanks for all the richness of creation. 
…we cry aloud with the Psalmist: "How good is the Lord to all, / compassionate to all his creature. / All your creatures shall thank you, O Lord, / and your friends shall repeat their blessing. / They shall speak of the glory of your reign and declare your might O God" (Ps. 145 (144), 9-11). 
And as we praise God for the beauty of nature…let us reread with eyes of faith the testimony borne by created things: in this way our minds and hearts turn to him who on the seventh day saw what he had made and "it was very good" (Gen. 1, 31). 
Our thanksgiving rises from created things to God himself.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Oh Heart Of Christ

Lord Jesus Christ, Eternal Son of the Eternal Father, Born of the Virgin Mary, we ask you to continue to reveal to us the mystery of God: so that we may recognize in you "the image of the invisible God;" that we may find him in you, in your divine Person, in the warmth of your humanity, in the love of your Heart.

Heart of Jesus in whom dwells the fullness of Divinity!

Heart of Jesus, of whose fullness we have all received!

Heart of Jesus, King and centre of all hearts, forever and ever. Amen!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Human Life Is Sacred

In [God’s] hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.
-Job 12:10

Every human life is sacred. Blessed John Paul II often reminded us of this, and that is why our final Year of Faith reflection is on the dignity of the human person. 

The topic of human life is covered in the Catechism of the Catholic Church under the Fifth Commandment, you shall not kill. The section begins with:

Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains forever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstances claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being’ (as quoted in CCC, 2258).

Scripture tells us that all human life is to be protected and respected from the first moment of existence until natural death. This is because “the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God” (2319).

Friday, November 22, 2013

Karol Wojtyła's Jewish Roots

Blessed John Paul II is well remembered for the efforts he made towards solidarity with his “elder brothers” in the Jewish community. Much of his respect for the Jewish people came from his living and growing with Jewish friends throughout his childhood in Poland. Gian Franco Svidercoshi explored the Holy Father’s history and its impact on his push for positive Christian-Jewish relations:

In Crossing the Threshold of Hope, the Pope wrote: “Behind the words of the Council declaration there is the hope of many men, both Jews and Christians. There is also my own personal experience from the early stages of my life in my hometown.” Here it is: it must therefore signify something - on the providential plan and not only on that of the plan of coincidence - that the author of the turning of this dialogue of the Catholic Church with its brothers of Israel was a Pope for whom, as an adolescent and a boy, the cohabitation with Jews was part of every day life.

Wadowice, where Karol Wojtyla was born and lived until he was 18 years old, was a town of ten thousand inhabitants, of which three thousands were Jews. And they lived, Catholics and Jews, in a serene climate, without conflict. Karol lived in a house, whose proprietor, Balamut, was Jewish. Also Jewish was Ginka Beer, older by some years, who lived on the floor above, and who, was the first to bring him into the theater. Many of his friends from school were also Jewish, like Jerzy Kluger, a great friend still today; and Zygmunt Selinger, Leopold Zwieg; and Poldek Goldberger, who played goalie, like Wojtyla when they played soccer.

So, the future Pope knew Judaism from the inside. Through the day-to-day of friendship, of total esteem and reciprocal tolerance. Through the acquaintance of many people. But also on the religious and spiritual level. In the parish, during the evening services, he was always struck by the Psalm 147, that of the invitation to Jerusalem to glorify the lord because it strengthened the pillars of his door, it blessed his children. Many years later, the Pope, would remember: “Both religious groups, Catholics and Jews, were united, I believe, by the knowledge of praying to the same God. Notwithstanding the diversity of language, the prayers in the Church and the Synagogue were based on the considerable measure of the same texts.”

There is then a second aspect, to explain those which we could call the Jewish «roots» of John Paul II. And it is here by the light of his own personal history, in particular in his younger years. And it is having lived close, even without being able to know the true reality and the true dimensions of the great tragedy of the Jewish people, the Holocaust. At the origin of that there was the horrible design of Hitler. The “final solution” as was called the plan to make disappear, into nothingness, the Jewish race on the entire European continent.

The Pope recalled, still in Crossing the Threshold of Hope: “Then came the Second World War, with its concentration camps and programmed extermination. In the first place, it was the sons and daughters of the Jewish nation which suffered, just because they were Jewish. Whoever lived then in Poland, became, even if only indirectly, in contact with this reality. This was then, even my own personal experience, an experience which I have brought in me even today.

Keep following us here and on our Facebook page for more stories about the life of Blessed John Paul II as we prepare for his canonization.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I Shall Behold Your Face

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Hear, O LORD, a just suit;
attend to my outcry;
hearken to my prayer from lips without deceit.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

My steps have been steadfast in your paths,
my feet have not faltered.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my word.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings.
But I in justice shall behold your face;
on waking, I shall be content in your presence.

R. Lord, when your glory appears, my joy will be full.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pope Francis Decides On World Youth Day Themes

Pope Francis has announced themes for the next three World Youth Days, marking the spiritual preparation that will lead to WYD Krakow in 2016.

The themes are based on the Beatitudes, which comes as no surprise after the Holy Father's words at WYD Rio:

In Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis asked the young people “with all my heart” to read the Beatitudes again and to make them the action plan for their lives: “Look, read the Beatitudes: that will do you good!”

So the theme for the 29th World Youth Day, 2014 is: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3).

The theme for the 30th World Youth Day, 2015 is: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8).

Finally, the theme for the 31st World Youth Day in Krakow is: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy” (Mt 5:7).

Blessed John Paul II, pray for us, and especially for your beloved young people, that they may live the Beatitudes with joy.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Christian Faith Rests On The Trinity

Wherever there is love, there is a trinity: a lover, a beloved, and a fountain of love.
-St. Augustine

The Christian faith rests on the mystery of the Trinity.

The mystery is there in every revelation God has given to man. The mystery is there when we are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Mt. 28:19). And the mystery is there in any loving relationship, like in the Holy Family depicted above. 

When we speak of the Trinity, we speak of the Father. “Jesus revealed that God is Father in an unheard-of sense: he is Father not only in being Creator; he is eternally Father in relation to his only Son, who is eternally Son only in relation to his Father…” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 240).

We also speak of the Son, named by the Nicene Creed as “the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father.”

We also speak of the Holy Spirit, who was “sent to the apostles and to the Church both by the Father in the name of the Son, and by the Son in person, once he had returned to the Father” (244). The Holy Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, as that fountain of love between the two that abundantly overflows.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Virtual Tours Of The Shrine

For those who haven’t been able to make a pilgrimage to the Shrine yet, or are perhaps thinking of planning one in the near future, we loaded two Virtual Tours onto the Blessed John Paul II Shrine website earlier this week.

The first is of our chapel, where we hold daily Liturgies and prayers, and where visitors can venerate the relic of Blessed John Paul II.

The second is of our “Be Not Afraid” exhibit, which gives an exclusive look at our past exhibit on the life and legacy of Blessed John Paul II. Some of these artifacts will be displayed in the permanent exhibit, slated to open mid-2014.

We hope you enjoy these sneak peaks!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Freedom In Marital Fidelity

The preparatory document for the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the Family was released earlier this week, and it includes some beautiful guidance from our beloved Holy Father, Blessed John Paul II. This quote was taken from his Familiaris Consortio:

The only ‘place’ in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage, the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God himself (cf. Gaudium et spes, 48) which only in this light manifests its true meaning. The institution of marriage is not an undue interference by society or authority, nor the extrinsic imposition of a form. Rather it is an interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive, in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God, the Creator. A person's freedom, far from being restricted by this fidelity, is secured against every form of subjectivism or relativism and is made a sharer in creative Wisdom.

Blessed John Paul II, please pray today for all married couples and those preparing for marriage, that they may be given grace enough to embrace the “intimate community of life and love willed by God himself.”