Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Pillars of God's Church

"Blessed is the Lord who delivers his friends..." 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...delivers his friends from every evil and saves them for his kingdom.

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!

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

Thursday, June 26, 2014

St. Josemaría Escrivá, Pray for Us!

We have to open our eyes; we have to look around us and recognize how God is calling us through the people at our side. We cannot turn our backs on others, ignoring them, because we are caught up in our own little world. That wasn’t how Jesus lived. The Gospel often speaks of his mercy, his ability to feel the sorrow and share the needs of others. He consoled the widow of Naim; he wept at the death of Lazarus; he felt compassion for the crowds that followed him with nothing to eat; he also had pity on sinners, on those who go through life without knowing light or truth. “And when he landed, Jesus saw a large crowd, and had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.”

Oh St. Josemaría Escrivá, who was canonized by St. John Paul II in 2002, pray for us, that we may open our eyes to the needs of others. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The Church Draws Her Life From The Eucharist

"As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (I Cor 11: 26).

With these words St. Paul reminds the Christians of Corinth that the "Lord's Supper" is not only a convivial meeting but also, and above all, the memorial of the redeeming sacrifice of Christ. Those who take part in it, the Apostle explains, are united with the mystery of the death of the Lord, and indeed, "proclaim" him.

Thus, there is a very close relationship between "building the Eucharist" and proclaiming Christ. At the same time, entering into communion with him in the memorial of Easter also means becoming missionaries of the event which that rite actualizes; in a certain sense, it means making it contemporary with every epoch, until the Lord comes again.

Dear brothers and sisters, we are reliving this wonderful reality in today's Solemnity of Corpus Christi, during which the Church does not only celebrate the Eucharist but solemnly bears it in procession, publicly proclaiming that the Sacrifice of Christ is for the salvation of the whole world.

Grateful for this immense gift, her members gather round the Blessed Sacrament, for that is the source and summit of her being and action. Ecclesia de Eucharistia vivit! The Church draws her life from the Eucharist and knows that this truth does not simply express a daily experience of faith, but recapitulates the heart of the mystery in which she consists.

-Homily of St. John Paul II, Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ 2004

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The Polish Devotion to St. John Paul II

In my spirit, I embrace the whole of my beloved Homeland. I rejoice in its successes, in its positive aspirations and in its courageous undertakings. 

-St. John Paul II, 2002 Apostolic Voyage to Poland

St. John Paul II carried a special devotion to his homeland and her saints. It comes as no surprise, then, that the Polish people carry a special devotion to the recently canonized pontiff as well. This blog post captures the love of the Polish people for John Paul II, and explains why this love is different from the affection we have for him here in the Americas.

Our Lady of Częstochowa, Pray for Us! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Glory Be To The Blessed Trinity

Some years it’s difficult to transition from Easter to ordinary time. Our hearts get so used to celebrating, that it’s hard for them to slow down the pace and find excitement in normalcy. It’s nice, then, that the Church gives us some feast days after Pentecost, so we can ease our way back into ordinary liturgies with ordinary vestments and ordinary altar flowers.

We are blessed to celebrate one of those feast days today—Holy Trinity Sunday. St. John Paul II explained its significance during his Angelus for the solemnity in 2003:
This Sunday which follows Pentecost we celebrate the Solemnity of the Blessed Trinity. The Triune nature of God is the principal mystery of the Catholic faith. With it, we come to the end of the journey of revelation which Jesus fulfilled through his Incarnation, Passion, Death and Resurrection. From the summit of the "holy mountain" which is Christ, we contemplate the first and last horizon of the universe and of history: the Love of God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
God is not solitude, but perfect communion. From God being communion derives the vocation of all humanity to form the one great family in which the various races and cultures meet one another and are reciprocally enriched (cf. Acts 17: 26).
Today we celebrate this "perfect communion," this union of the Trinity which is ceaselessly praised in our liturgy and in our prayers. When we make the sign of the Cross, when we 
repeat the Glory Be, and when we profess the Apostles’ Creed—we glorify the Trinity, the central mystery of the Catholic faith. As St. John Paul II once exclaimed:
This is our faith! This is the Church’s faith! This is the God of our faith: Father, Son and Holy Spirit!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Men As Husbands And Fathers

As we prepare to celebrate Father’s Day here in the United States, it is worth reflecting upon this insight of St. John Paul II’s from Familiaris Consortio:

In revealing and in reliving on earth the very fatherhood of God, a man is called upon to ensure the harmonious and united development of all the members of the family: he will perform this task by exercising generous responsibility for the life conceived under the heart of the mother, by a more solicitous commitment to education, a task he shares with his wife, by work which is never a cause of division in the family but promotes its unity and stability, and by means of the witness he gives of an adult Christian life which effectively introduces the children into the living experience of Christ and the Church. 

St. John Paul II, please pray for all fathers, that they may live out their vocations to be good husbands and good parents. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Evangelizing Through Education

Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, recently noted the importance of Catholic education to the mission for a new evangelization. In a speech given at the International Pro-Life Conference, Burke said:

A new evangelization consists in teaching the faith through preaching, catechesis and all forms of Catholic education, in celebrating the faith in the Sacraments and in prayer and devotion which are their extension, and in living the faith by the practice of the virtues – all as if for the first time, that is, with the engagement and energy of the first disciples and of the first missionaries to our native place.

Burke cited St. John Paul II, who made the tireless call to evangelize in an increasingly secular society.

St. John Paul II, pray for us, that we may participate in the new evangelization in any way that God is calling us to. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Post Number 500!

St. John Paul II’s pontificate began with these words:

Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors for Christ.

Back in 2012, we launched Open Wide the Doors with the goal of keeping future pilgrims and visitors up to date on special events, temporary exhibits, and the renovation schedule for the permanent exhibit at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine. We also set out with the mission to provide weekly inspiration from St. John Paul II’s own life and words, and to report on how the New Evangelization is blossoming in our world today.

In addition to keeping up with these goals, we’ve been blessed in this time to reflect upon the Year of Faith, the Synod on the New Evangelization, and World Youth Day Rio. And of course, we were able to countdown to and celebrate the canonization of our beloved St. John Paul II.

Thank you for accompanying us this far on our journey towards honoring John Paul II! Please stay tuned as we prepare to open our permanent exhibit on the life and legacy of this great saint.

St. John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Let Your Spirit Descend

On this Pentecost Sunday, we remember St. John Paul II’s famous prayer in Victory Square:

Let your Spirit descend.
Let your Spirit descend.
and renew the face of the earth,
the face of this land.

The Spirit did indeed listen to the great saint’s prayer, and we ask that He continue to descend upon the Church today, especially on her mission for the new evangelization.

St. John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Papal Intentions for June

This month, Pope Francis asks us to pray for the unemployed, that they “may receive support and find the work they need to live in dignity.”

He also asks to pray that, “Europe may rediscover its Christian roots through the witness of believers.”

Let us join the Holy Father this month, in praying for the unemployed and for the blossoming of the New Evangelization in Europe.

Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, Pray for Us!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

They Became Light In The Lord

Today the Church celebrates the feast of St. Charles Lwanga and his companions. In a homily given at the Shrine of the Holy Uganda Martyrs of Namugongo, St. John Paul II said:

This was the place of darkness, Namugongo, where Christ’s light shone bright in the great fire which consumed Saint Charles Lwanga and his companions. May the light of that holocaust never cease to shine in Africa!

The heroic sacrifice of the Martyrs helped to draw Uganda and all of Africa to Christ, the true light which enlightens all men (Cf. ibid. 1: 9). Men and women of every race, language, people and nation (Cf. Rev. 5: 9) have answered Christ’s call, have followed him and have become members of his Church, like the crowds which come on pilgrimage, year after year, to Namugongo.

…Truly the Uganda Martyrs became light in the Lord! Their sacrifice hastened the rebirth of the Church in Africa. In our own days, all Africa is being called to the light of Christ! Africa is being called again to discover her true identity in the light of faith in the Son of God. All that is truly African, all that is true and good and noble in Africa’s traditions and cultures, is meant to find its fulfilment in Christ. The Uganda Martyrs show this clearly: they were the truest of Africans, worthy heirs of the virtues of their ancestors. In embracing Jesus Christ, they opened the door of faith to their own people (Cf. Acts. 14: 27), so that the glory of the Lord could shine on Uganda, on Africa.

Here at Namugongo, it is right that we give thanks to God for all those who have worked and prayed and shed their blood for the rebirth of the Church on this Continent. We give thanks for all who have carried on the work of the Martyrs by striving to build a Church that is truly Catholic and truly African.

St. Charles Lwanga and companions, on this day of your feast, please pray for the Church in Africa, that she may continue to flourish.