Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Song of the Brightness of Water

From this depth—I came only to draw water
in a jug—so long ago, this brightness
still clings to my eyes—the perception I found,
and so much empty space, my own
reflected in the well.

Yet it is good. I can never take all of you
into me. Stay then as a mirror in the well.
Leaves and flowers remain, and each astonished gaze
brings them down
to my eyes transfixed more by light
than by sorrow.

Saint John Paul II, 1950 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

St. John Paul II Co-Patron Of World Meeting Of Families

This past weekend, as Saint John Paul II’s relic made its stop in Philadelphia, Archbishop Charles Chaput announced that Saints John Paul II and Gianna Beretta Molla will be the patron saints of the 2015 World Meeting of Families. He said:

Saints John Paul II and Gianna had a deep and abiding commitment to strengthening the family and sustaining it with love. This historic event will give thousands from around the globe the opportunity to share in the same commitment of our Patron Saints.

The theme of the Meeting is “Love is our mission: the family fully alive,” and many from across the globe are expected to travel to Philadelphia for the event next September, including Pope Francis himself! Let us continue to pray as preparations are being made, that “every family may generously make its own contribution to the coming of his kingdom in the world.”

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Let Us Pray For Mosul’s Christians

Our present pain is associated with our Christianity and with the mystery of our Passover (i.e., Easter). Our suffering is joined to the suffering of our Savior Jesus, “Man of Sorrows,” will turn out to be a blessing and salvation to us and to others. And the current challenges are faced with more faith, hope and prayer and solidarity and wisdom. Be brave in front of what you are facing, do not be afraid, you have deep roots in Iraq, do not give up for frustration and despair, confident that “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword” (Matthew 26:52) and evil does not last! You are the small mustard seed, the Lord will not let you fall. He is with you today, tomorrow and after tomorrow and forever.

                -Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Sako to Mosul’s Christians

Let us all pray for Mosul’s Christians, that the Lord may be with them in their suffering. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This Prodigal Son Is Every Human Being

Those who know the parable of the prodigal son, remember this story as a beautiful portrayal of the rich mercy of God. A son leaves his father, squandering every gift that he inherits. He ends up in a place very far from his father’s love and care, where he lives hungry and unsatisfied. He eventually comes to himself in this place, realizing that his father’s servants live more satisfied that he does. So he decides to humbly return to the father who loves him. Rather than rebuke his son, the father “embraced and kissed him” upon his return, treating the young man with more mercy than anyone reading the story might think he deserves (Luke 15:11-32).

In his Apostolic Exhortation, “Reconciliation and Penance,” Saint John Paul II writes:

This prodigal son is every human being: bewitched by the temptation to separate himself from his Father in order to lead his own independent existence; disappointed by the emptiness of the mirage which had fascinated him; alone, dishonored, exploited when he tries to build a world all for himself sorely tried, even in the depths of his own misery, by the desire to return to communion with his Father. Like the father in the parable, God looks out for the return of his child, embraces him when he arrives and orders the banquet of the new meeting with which the reconciliation is celebrated.

The most striking element of the parable is the father's festive and loving welcome of the returning son: It is a sign of the mercy of God, who is always willing to forgive. Let us say at once: Reconciliation is principally a gift of the heavenly Father (5).

God loves us like the father in the parable loves his son. We turn away from Him daily, abusing the good gifts He has given us. And He welcomes us back daily, giving us the gift of reconciliation with His merciful heart.

We celebrate this gift through the Sacrament of Reconciliation or Confession, “a great gift of healing that brings about closer union with the Lord” and with the Church (YOUCAT 235). Our Baptism reconciles us with God, but we need Confession because Baptism “does not free us from human weakness and the inclination to sin. That is why we need a place where we can be reconciled with God again and again” (YOUCAT 226).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Family, Become What You Are

The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do. The role that God calls the family to perform in history derives from what the family is; its role represents the dynamic and existential development of what it is. Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored, and that specifies both its dignity and its responsibility: family, become what you are.

-Saint John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio

In preparation for the 8th World Meeting of Families, to be held in Philadelphia in September of 2015, the Knights of Columbus is asking that we seek the intercession of St. John Paul II, praying that "every family may generously make its own contribution to the coming of his kingdom in the world." 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Centrality Of Man

Last week, Pope Francis reminded participants at an economic conference that man must always be at the center of the economy. Otherwise, we find ourselves guilty of an “anthropological reductionism.”

The Holy Father’s predecessor, Saint John Paul II, constantly challenged people to embrace a person-centered mentality. In his Centesimus Annus, he wrote:

Christian anthropology…is really a chapter of theology, and for this reason, the Church's social doctrine, by its concern for man and by its interest in him and in the way he conducts himself in the world, “belongs to the field ... of theology and particularly of moral theology.” The theological dimension is needed both for interpreting and solving present-day problems in human society. 

Social issues crop up at the economic and political level when we lose sight of the dignity of the human person, John Paul II warned us. Now Pope Francis is echoing his cry.

Saint John Paul II, please pray for us, that we might be free of the sin of reducing the human person to something less than what he is worth!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Saint John Paul II Tours the Northeast

Earlier this year, we posted a piece about the importance of relics. We wrote that, "the bodies of the saints were once temples of the Holy Spirit and are one day to be eternally glorified. So to venerate their bones is to venerate the bones that will one day be conformed to the body of Christ."

Here at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine, we have given pilgrims the opportunity to venerate a piece of Saint John Paul II’s blood-stained cassock from the 1981 assassination attempt.

Out of dedication to the late Holy Father’s mission to travel and "cross the threshold of every home," we also launched a relic tour. A vial of John Paul II’s blood, which was given to the Knights of Columbus in order to foster devotion to the great Saint at the Shrine, is currently touring the northeast, traveling like John Paul II to meet the people. 

The tour began in Boston and stopped in New York this past weekend. The relic will be in Philadelphia this coming weekend. 

According to Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, bringing "his relic to communities throughout this country will recall for many Catholics his saintly life, his unswerving commitment to the dignity of every human person and his emphasis on the call to holiness for each one of us."

Our hope is that it will also build excitement for our permanent exhibit on the life and legacy of John Paul II, slated to open later this year.

Saint John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Sound Of The New Evangelization

In a 1999 address, Saint John Paul II repeated his call for a new evangelization, “new in ardor, methods and expression.”

Sister Cristina Scuccia, who recently won The Voice Italy, is one example of someone living out John Paul II’s challenge to evangelize. The 25-year-old nun won many hearts in secular society, sharing her love for the Lord with those who tuned into the popular TV competition.

Let us pray to be like Sister Cristina, asking God for the grace to use our gifts in order to spread the Gospel throughout the world.

Saint John Paul II, Pray for Us!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Petitions For The Intercession of Saint John Paul II

Are you or someone in your family or community in need of prayers? Consider submitting your petitions to the Saint John Paul II Shrine, where we will seek the intercession of the late Holy Father for your prayer requests. There is a form for submission on the Shrine’s website.

You can also say this prayer, which we recite every day here at the Shrine:

O Blessed Trinity, we thank you
for having graced the Church with
Saint 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.
He 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,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Freedom To Serve

At the school of the Mother, the Church learns to become every day "handmaid of the Lord," to be ready to go to encounter situations of greatest need, to be caring toward the small and the excluded. But we are all called to live the service of charity in ordinary life, that is, in the family, in the parish, at work, with neighbors. It is the charity of everyday, ordinary charity.

…the Church is the people who serve the Lord. For this, it is the people who experiences his freedom and lives in this freedom that He gives. The Lord always gives true freedom. First of all, the freedom from sin, from selfishness in all its forms: the freedom to give of oneself and to do so with joy, like the Virgin of Nazareth, who is free from herself, she does not close in on herself in her condition – and she would have had reason! – but thinks of those who, in that moment, has greater need. She is free in the freedom of God, which is realized in love. And this is the freedom that God has given us and we must not lose it: the freedom to adore God, to serve God and to serve him even in our brothers and sisters.

This is the freedom that, by the grace of God, we experience in the Christian community, when we put ourselves at each other’s service, without jealousy, without taking sides, without chatter… Serving one another. Serving! Then the Lord frees us from ambition and rivalry, which undermine unity and communion. He frees us from distrust, sadness — look, this sadness is dangerous because it casts us down. It casts us down. It’s dangerous. Be careful. He frees us from fear, internal emptiness, isolation, regret, and complaints. Even in our communities, in fact, there is no shortage of negative attitudes that make people self-referential, more concerned with defending themselves than with giving of themselves. But Christ frees us from this existential grayness…

                -Pope Francis

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Sport As Culture Of Love

As an adventurous lover of sports, Saint John Paul II believed that athletics could positively contribute to a person’s formation, as well as fraternity among peoples. In an article on The Sports Digest, Professors Karen Joisten and Norbert Müller review a number of the late Holy Father’s reflections on sports.

They note his warnings about the negative extremes that many athletes can go to, but they mostly highlight John Paul II’s thoughts on the great good that sports can do. According to his teachings:

… sport can be a medium of virtue formation and education, which does not only apply to sport. Since athletes who are entirely committed to the game have made these values their second nature, the latter are like hair and skin to them. In this way, there is a chance that the "virtues of sports training," as John Paul II stated in his message at the opening of the Barcelona Olympic Games, "such as self-control, perseverance, respect for others, desire for top performance, fairness, sense of sacrifice, modesty and team work" will significantly determine the behavior of the individual and the community "in order to make our lives more brotherly fair and amicable."

If sport realizes its educational vocation on an individual level by contributing "to the holistic development of a person" (the Pope’s address to the Council of the International Ski Federation on 6 December 1983), it can realize its educational vocation on the level of the community at the same time. Therefore, it can substantially contribute to our harmonious coexistence in this world. On an international level, as John Paul II expressed in his audience for members of the IOC in 1982, it can "contribute significantly to progress and brotherhood among people as well as to the spreading of peace." If sport becomes a "culture of love," it will offer a universal language that transcends the frontiers between cultures, countries and nations, and it will therefore allow for a "sincere and open dialogue."

As the World Cup continues, let us pray with Pope Francis for the intercession of Saint John Paul II, that sports may become a "culture of love" in this world. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Prayer Of Mercy For WYD

This morning, Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, Archbishop of Krakow, presented the official prayer and logo for the 31st World Youth Day! The logo, which includes the flame of Divine Mercy, can be seen here

World Youth Day 2016 is to be held in Krakow, a city that still remembers the legacy of Polish Saint John Paul II quite well. The official prayer asks for the intercession of the late Holy Father, who is now the patron saint of World Youth Days.

Let us say this prayer, entrusting all people, especially the young, to the warmth of the Lord’s Divine Mercy.
God, merciful Father,
in your Son, Jesus Christ, you have revealed your love
and poured it out upon us in the Holy Spirit, the Comforter,
We entrust to you today the destiny of the world and of every man and woman.
We entrust to you in a special way
young people of every language, people and nation:
guide and protect them as they walk the complex paths of the world today
and give them the grace to reap abundant fruits
from their experience of the Krakow World Youth Day.
Heavenly Father,
grant that we may bear witness to your mercy.
Teach us how to convey the faith to those in doubt,
hope to those who are discouraged,
love to those who feel indifferent,
forgiveness to those who have done wrong
and joy to those who are unhappy.
Allow the spark of merciful love
that you have enkindled within us
become a fire that can transform hearts
and renew the face of the earth.
Mary, Mother of Mercy, pray for us.
St. John Paul II, pray for us.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Papal Intentions For July

With the World Cup going on this month, Pope Francis asks us to pray that, "sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth."

He also asks us to pray "that the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries."

Through the intercession of St. John Paul II, who was both an athlete and a missionary, let us pray with the Holy Father this month, for a stronger and wider communion in the Church.