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Ignatius of Loyola – A Conversion for the World


*Note: This post was originally published on July 31, 2012. 

One of the most spiritually touching moments I had in my life was last year during my work for the national committee of World Youth Day Madrid. I had the opportunity to visit Loyola, the town where today’s saint (St. Ignatious of Loyola) is from.

Why was this trip spiritually touching? Not just because of the company – I went with two Canadian volunteers and an American priest – but also because of what you feel once you set  foot on that land. You feel like there is a straight line between heaven and earth. You feel touched by a peace that is difficult to find in other places.

We departed from Madrid on a sweltering summer afternoon and drove to the Basque country, specifically to Azpeitia wich is the name for Loyola in Euskara the basque language. When we arrived I felt immediately touched by a peace that is difficult to describe. As time passed that peace helped me open my heart and let God get in.

The next morning, I found myself going up the stairs to the famous Conversion Chapel. I couldn’t imagine how special that moment could be. Ignatius’ conversion is a unique episode. During the battle of Pamplona he was hit in the leg with a canon ball. After the leg healed he thought his leg didn’t look good and decided to undergo corrective surgery. That recovery was longer than the first one. During this process of recovery, he asked for chivalric romances (stories of knights) to read but there were no such books in the house, only a copy of The Life of Christ and some biographies of saints. He decided to read these because he thought it would help him to conquer the ladies of the court. Instead, Ignatius realized how empty he was, and how his bohemian life didn’t bring him peace. In that same room where he had his conversion, I could feel how special and how big was the work God started there.

In that Conversion Chapel God planted the seeds of the Society of Jesus which played a major role in the Christianization of the American continent. That reminded me how sometimes God chooses a not-so-perfect seed to make good things come from it.

On that green land lost between mountains of the north of Spain, Ignatius , a son of Loyola, started a beautiful work of God. His conversion led to the conversion of a large part of the world. After that day in the chapel the sense that God uses not the perfect, but the ones he knows can do the work, accompanies me.

As Ignatius discovered God in his life in that room, I discovered where the message of St. Ignatius of Loyola fit on my life. On this 31st of July when the church celebrates his feast I say, St Ignatius, pray for us.

Transformed from Misery by Mercy

Mary Magdalene Jesus cropped

On the Feast of Mary Magdalene – July 22

“Love the sinner, hate the sin.” The famous maxim first appeared in the letters of St. Augustine, when he wrote, “With love for humanity and hatred of sins.” Mohandas Ghandi later used it in his autobiography when he wrote: “Hate the sin and not the sinner.” But I can’t think of any figure who better exemplifies the essence of this phrase than Saint Mary Magdalene, whose feast the Church celebrate today.

What lessons can we learn from the life of Mary Magdalene? The Gospels reveal a woman marked by a past of demons, who encountered the forgiveness of Jesus and was forever changed. For Mary Magdalene, Jesus changed everything. Jesus was everything. His healing power in her life meant that she could no longer remain her old self, she was transformed, made new in the love of her Saviour. He set her free of the demons that possessed her so that she could pursue a path of discipleship, closely following Jesus and being part of the community of His friends.

What does this mean for us? I think each of us has experienced how easy it can be to become discouraged, disappointed, ashamed, and despairing when we see our own weakness. We can become mired in guilt, anger, and regret when we look at our own frailty and inadequacies. We spin a cocoon of negative emotion that has the power to paralyze us in our own selves. But Jesus never discourages us. He alone is perfect, and calls us to that same perfection. His power propels us onwards to the destiny for which we were created: an eternity of beholding His face, as Mary Magdalene did that bright Easter morning. Mary Magdalene shows us that there is something greater than our sinfulness, our shortcomings and the strife they cause. It is the Man she mistook for the Gardener, and His power to forgive and save us. We are miserable, but He is merciful, and His heart goes out to us. This is the very meaning of Mercy.

Mary Magdalene could have fixated on her demons and remained in the cycle of sin that was dominating her life. Instead, she reached out to Jesus, and allowed Him to reach out to her. She allowed his love to be more powerful than her sins, and her debilitating demons gave way to exemplary discipleship. She heard His call to: “Come, follow me.” And when you do, “Do not be afraid.”

For the Christian, our life-changing encounter with the merciful love of God through Jesus Christ is not just a one-time experience but a constant renewal brought about by the transformative power of Christ at work in our lives. This love is offered to us each day of our lives, and especially when we fail, fall, and flounder. Do we receive it? Do we accept it? Are we open to it? Do we trust in it? Do we allow it to renew us and urge us on? Does it leave us forever changed?

Mary Magdalene had not one demon but seven. Her story is relevant for us no matter what our demons may be. She was a sinner but more than that, she was loved. She allowed her life to become a response of love to the one who loved her first. Weeping she would remain with him at the foot of the the Cross, despairing as he hung dying for the world. “While it was still dark” on the first day of the week, burdened with tears and spices for burial she would venture early to His empty tomb, astonished to encounter Him anew. Especially as we approach the Jubilee Year for Mercy called by Pope Francis, let us encounter Him anew with her, trusting again in His mercy and proclaiming with her: “I have seen the Lord!” (John 20:18) By Him may we be forever changed.

Feast Day of St. Josemaria Escriva: 40th Death Anniversary & The Marian Year of the Family


Trisha Villarante

Trisha Villarante

This month there will be hundreds of Masses heard around the globe in honour of St. Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, whose feast day is on June 26th. But, in Vancouver, on Saturday, June 20th, about six hundred faithful gathered at St. Mary’s Ukraine Catholic Church to kick off the celebration a little earlier this year. 2015 marks the 40th death anniversary of St. Josemaria since his passing in 1975 in Rome, Italy.

This was the first time the annual celebratory Mass was held at St. Mary’s Ukraine Catholic Church, which reflected the ecumenical spirit that St. Josemaria emphasized during Vatican II. The Mass began at 11 am with confession available at 10 am. Regular attendees of this celebration were well prepared and began arriving before 10 am to find parking and seats. By 10:30 am the parking lot was completely full and attendees were making their way to the church from the neighboring streets.

At the entrance of the church, an impressive exhibit of panels was on display portraying St. Josemaria’s remarkable life in the form of old photographs and biographical excerpts. Each panel highlighted different events from his childhood in Spain, his ordination to the priesthood, the beginnings of Opus Dei in Madrid and Rome, up to his final years of service to God through Opus Dei and the Catholic Church.

Vicar General, Reverend Joseph Phuong Nguyen, was the principal celebrant with several other concelebrants including Fr. Fernando and newly ordained Father Paul Goo. In his Homily, Father Nguyen emphasized St. Josemaria’s life as an inspiration to practice the virtues of humility and trust in sanctifying one’s ordinary life. In his Homily he paralleled the Gospel of Luke regarding Peter and the miraculous catch and the life of St. Josemaria.

“Faith requires a lot of sacrifice, hardships and moments of doubt like St. Peter, but we must always persevere as St. Josemaria did to always be in unity with our Lord.” – Fr. Nguyen

Anna Eastland, an attendee at Saturday’s Mass shared, “Fr. Nguyen reminded us, (holiness and success) is not for the privileged few, because the Lord expects love from us all. He encouraged everyone to be a disciple of Christ in their chosen profession, and to make their occupation a way to Heaven.”


Members of Opus Dei and their families and friends attended this year not only in honour of the 40th death anniversary of St. Josemaria, but in celebration of the Marian Year of the Family; convoked by the prelate of Opus Dei, Bishop Javier Echevarría. The Marian year of the Family is a yearlong intention for 2015, which began on the Feast day of the Holy Family on December 28th, 2014. The special intention was implemented, “to place in our Lady’s hands all the needs of the Church and of mankind, and to follow faithfully the Pope’s intentions.”

This month, Bishop Echevarria released a powerful video about the importance of family and their duty to find Christ in their daily lives. As June marks the halfway point for this Year of the Family, the video acts as reminder that parents have the primary responsibility for educating their children and that the institution of the family is the cell of society. The formation of individuals is dependent on well-formed parents, which is a dire need in today’s world. The video can be viewed here on the Opus Dei website.

St. Josemaria Escriva is coined the Saint of Ordinary Life, and has always put great importance on the institution of the family. In the text, Conversations with Msgr. Escriva (page 91) a brief summary of his emphasis on the family can be found,

“We must strive so that these cells of Christianity may be born and may develop with a desire for holiness… all Christians have a divine mission that each must fulfill in his own walk of life. Christian couples should be aware that they are called to sanctify themselves and to sanctify others… and that their first apostolate is in the home. They should understand that founding a family, educating their children, and exercising a Christian influence in society are supernatural tasks… their happiness depends… on their awareness of their specific mission.”

St. Mary’s church was filled with the spirit of family with newborns, newly weds, parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. It is evident that the teachings of St. Josemaria have been instilled in the hearts of the faithful around the world, and Saturday’s Mass was a humble snippet of what good he has influenced throughout the generations. The Mass was followed by a reception, which flowed from the church basement to the parking lot as everyone gathered to greet one another as one big family.

At the reception, stories were shared about the graces received from the intercession of St. Josemaria and how his influence has helped them and their family and friends. One woman shared that her and her husband’s lives were changed after attending their first retreats run by Opus Dei, thanks to an invitation by her friend. She expressed gratitude for his teachings, which inspired her and her husband to fall in love with their Faith and to connect it with their daily lives in divine filiation.

“The idea that when you open up to (God) in humility and trust he makes you so much more capable of doing things that you would have never imagined. Summed up simply, sanctifying ordinary life and daily work has become essential to us.” – Daniela O

Today, June 26th, thousands of people all around the world will be seeking the intercession of St. Josemaria especially on this feast day.  If you haven’t already, it may be a good idea to take the opportunity to pray for your intentions and those of your family and friends by saying his prayer card.

To learn more about Opus Dei and St. Josemaria Escriva, check out the S+L film Opus Dei: Decoding God’s Work. 

Written by Trisha Villarante

Behind Vatican Walls: Angelo Roncalli


On the evening of June 3, 1963, as Mass was being celebrated in the plaza below his window, Pope John XXIII quietly passed away. He had been suffering from stomach cancer for some time, although his illness had only been revealed to the public in March of that same year. Still, he faced that final year of his pontificate, his illness, and the transition to eternal life with the same simplicity and humour with which he faced his whole life.

Born November 25, 1881 in Sotto il Monte (Bergamo) Angelo Roncalli was the fourth of 13 children. His parents were sharecroppers – not even landowning farmers. The local school only went up to the third grade, after which the local children would begin working on the land with their parents – which is what happened to most of the Roncalli children.  If a family had the resources, some of their children would get further schooling in a neighbouring town or by private tutor. Some might call it providence, some might call it God’s plan, but at age ten when his friends and classmates were trading their school books for farm tools, Angelo was sent to the priest in a neighbouring town to be taught privately. Eventually he attended the Collegio Celana – an academy founded by St. Charles Borromeo – and entered the seminary at age 12. He completed his seminary studies years – and a year of military service- before the canonical minimum age for ordination, so he was invited to do further studies in Rome.

Despite the years of studies, he never considered himself anything more than a farmer’s son. In 1904, he was finally ordained. While preparing to celebrate his first Mass in his hometown he pulled the sacristan aside and gave him some very specific instructions: the sacristan was to stand behind the pulpit (think pre-Vatican II raised pulpits) out of sight of the congregation. If his homily became too complicated, too academic, the sacristan was to tug at the hem of Fr. Angelo’s alb. The sacristan never had to tug on the new priest’s alb.

Fr. Roncalli was named secretary to the bishop of Bergamo and was asked to teach at the local seminary. All proceeded quietly until 1915. He ended up serving as a military chaplain until the end of the war. After the war he turned his attention to students and continued serving as a chaplain to students and seminarians.

Eventually it became clear this humble, country priest had much more to offer. In the 1920s he was called to Rome to serve with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith and in 1925 was made Apostolic Visitor to Bulgaria and eventually Nuncio. Ten years later, he was named Apostolic Delegate to Turkey and Greece. It was not an easy period, by any means, but it brought him into contact with the Orthodox Church and the Muslim community. He visited Orthodox Churches and stood in awe before the icons they housed. At the outbreak of the Second World War he was in Greece, witnessing the devastation caused by fighting. From there he was made Nuncio in Paris, and eventually Cardinal Patriarch of Venice. He received his red biretta from French president Vincent Auriol who, as president of that country, had the right to bestow the cardinalatial hat on the departing Nuncio.

Cardinal Roncalli believed he would spend the final years of his doing exactly what he had always wanted to do: pastoral work with parishioners. Granted, the “parish” was all of Venice. There, in “La Serenissima” Cardinal Roncalli quickly became known for his long walks around the city during which he would stop to talk to the locals and his modest lifestyle. He made it known that his door was always open for anyone in need of a confessor. He also opened 30 parishes, helped the Catholic Action Movement grow, renovated the diocesan Basilica and re-organized the archives that contained the history of the see.

Cardinal Roncalli was convinced Venice would be his final earthly home. But when Pope Pius XII died and the cardinals were summoned to Rome, the faithful of Venice didn’t expect their patriarch to return.

Elected Pope, he did exactly what he had been doing in Venice: he listened to his parishioners. Now his parish was the whole world and his flock included the cardinals and bishops around the world. He soon noticed a recurring theme in his conversations with visiting cardinals and bishops: pastoral issues that needed answers, urgently. His faithful secretary, now Cardinal Loris Capovilla, recalls that not five days after being elected pope, during a meeting with one of the many cardinals who came to pay the respects to the new pontiff, Pope John XXIII scribbled the word “council” in Italian.

The idea had bubbled up naturally in the pope’s mind in response to what he was hearing. He mentioned it to his secretary who said nothing. If  it was an inspiration of the Holy Spirit it would have to come to fruition on its own, and Cardinal Capovilla feared anything he said might get in the way of that inspiration and God’s will. Pope John XXIII, however, wanted to know what his secretary thought and so he mentioned it repeatedly – to no avail. Finally the pope couldn’t stand his trusted confidant’s silence and asked “aAe you staying silent because you think I’m too old and it’s too big a project?” The pope went on to explain why it was not too big a project for a man of his age and eventually said if died in the process of the council another pope would be chosen who would carry on the work of the guiding the council. He foretold exactly what would happen over the next five years or so.

Pope John XXIII opened the first session of the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962. It ran until December of that same year. The pope was part of the preparations for the second session but died just months before the second session was to convene. As he had told his secretary, his successor dedicated himself to the work of continuing the council and seeing it through to the end.

See video of Pope John XXIII’s life below:

See this week’s Vatican Connections below:


AliciaEvery week brings new, exciting, and sometimes juicy headlines from behind Vatican walls and every week Alicia delves deeper into one of those headlines. For a full run down of what’s been happening behind Vatican walls, watch Vatican Connections. Already watch the program? Come back every Friday for an in-depth look at an issue, headline or person.

Photo: CNS/Courtesy of Archbishop Loris Capovilla

Deacon-structing Holiness


The problem with holiness is that we don’t think it’s for us.

We believe that we are made for Heaven. We believe that God wants us to go to Heaven, but how many of us would say that we belong in Heaven? How many of us would say that we are going to Heaven? Sure, we don’t want to presume, but some would not even think that they will be in Heaven.

How many of you would say that you are holy? In fact, more likely, we are to say that “I am no saint!”

But we if we are created for Heaven, then we are created for holiness – for sainthood.

But it doesn’t happen by accident. It happens by the Grace of God. Even St. Paul had to cooperate with that divine intervention he received. He had to accept it and he then had to nurture the seeds that were planted. He didn’t go from persecutor to saint overnight. In fact, I would argue that even after his conversion he had to have many smaller conversions – gradual conversions. Even after he had been on a mission for years, he probably still struggled with temptation and sin. (Ever wonder what the little spat with John Mark in Acts 13:13 that led to Paul’s separation from Barnabas in Acts 15:37 was? Paul was probably difficult to work with. He struggled.) We all do – yes, even Saints.

St. Paul tells the Romans that what “I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Rom 7:15). That sounds an awful lot like me most of the time. He also tells the Corinthians that he struggles with a “thorn in his flesh” (2 Cor 12:7). We may think that this is something nice and safe that Saints have, like blindness or the stigmata or visions of the devil. But what if St. Paul’s “thorn” was that he struggled with lust, insecurity, pride or anger? That sounds an awful lot like me.

Recently I was at a gathering and part of the activity was a sort of “examination” or Church trivia. We were randomly asked questions of our Faith: “How many Sacraments are there? Can you name the Sacraments? Can you name the Precepts of the Church? Can you name the seven Capital Sins? What are the Four Marks of the Church? What are the 10 Commandments? What are the Gifts of the Holy Spirit? How about the Fruists of the Holy Spirit? All the people who were present called themselves practicing Catholics, but most could not answer these simple questions.

How many of us could answer these questions? Do you know how many Books there in the Bible? How many Gospels? What are St. Paul’s Letters? Do you know your saints? Do  you know about St. Gianna Molla or Pier Giorgio Frassati? Do you know about Venerable Satoko Kitahara (Mary of Ant Town), Venerable Matt Talbot or Venerable Pierre Toussaint? Do you know who Louis and Zelie Martin are? Do you know who Archbishop Romero is and that he was beatified last week?

Or for the more advanced, could you name a couple Church Encyclicals? Can you name some Vatican II documents?

At another event (the day before, actually) I was asked what we could do to bring others into the Church. That’s a good question considering Jesus says in Matthew 28: 16-20 that we must “go and make disciples of all nations.” Pope Francis keeps reminding us to be “missionary disciples.” Good question. Let me get to my answer, but first…

Finally, today I met a parishioner at our local coffee shop.  He introduced me to his wife who said she had not been to Mass in a while. She explained that she had some issues with the Church. I listened to her – I tried to meet her where she is. I validated her and invited her to come to Mass when she was ready. I don’t know if that is the right approach, but I think this is what Pope Francis means when he speaks about “graduality” (more on that another time, if you are interested).

These three situations made me think greatly about how we get to Heaven.

Here’s what I thought: holiness attracts. Let’s work on our holiness. What does that mean? It means “work on getting to Heaven.” We have one goal – let’s get there.

How do we get there? We get there together; this is not a personal journey, but a journey as Church. Part of the journey is personal, but we don’t get to Heaven alone.

This is where we must stay connected to the Church. Sure you can have a personal relationship with Jesus by yourself. You may never need to go to Mass or be affiliated with any church – but it’s very hard. If you want to stay connected to Jesus, it’s much easier if we stay connected to His Body, the Church.

That means, learning about the Church. That means being able to know what the Precepts of the Church are. (BTW – anyone know?)

We must read Scripture. We must set time aside every day to pray. Pray every day at the same time, no matter what. Whether you feel like it or not, pray. Pray the Rosary, or listen to Praise and Worship music; go to Adoration or learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours. No matter, as long as you pray. Heaven is about being united with God. It’s all about God. How can we be united with God if we don’t talk to Him? How can we be united to God in Heaven if we don’t nurture a relationship with Him now?

If you struggle with sin, pray. If you fall, and you will fall, pray, get up, pray, go to Confession and then pray some more. The next day when you fall again, pray some more and go to Confession again. If you never fall, go to Confession anyway. And pray.

Pray. No matter what, pray.

And of course, go to Mass. If the music is terrible and the homilies bad; go to Mass anyway. If you find it irreverent or too pious, go to Mass anyway. If you hate the organ music or miss the way things were when you were growing up, go to Mass anyway. If you don’t understand what the Church teaches about marriage or why women are not ordained, go to Mass anyway. Go to Mass. Receive Jesus in the Eucharist. Adore Him in the Eucharist.

And if you’re really serious about this, get a spiritual director. You don’t have to meet every week; sometimes once every 3 or 4 months is enough. If you are like me and you prefer your Spiritual Director to be a priest so he can also be your confessor, so be it. If you don’t, it doesn’t matter. Either way, seek spiritual direction. We all need direction when we are looking for the right road to Heaven.

After one of those gatherings last week, someone said to me that they would have watched Archbishop Romero’s beatification had she known about it. It’s true that the Church  (and those of us in Church communications) can do a better job at communicating, but today, in this day and age, there is no excuse for not being connected to the Church. There are so many resources available to us. Go to the Catholic bookstore and get yourself a book by St. Francis de Sales or St. Catherine of Siena. Go read St. Therese’s Little Way. If you prefer something more contemporary, read Thomas Merton’s Seven Story Mountain. If you like reading, find something. If you like music, find music. There is so much out there that can help us connect with the Church. And did I mention prayer?

And then, as you “perfect” your journey, with joy and kindness, you will begin to share that Light with others. That’s how we will make disciples of all nations. That’s how we become missionary disciples. And that’s how we will get to Heaven, where we belong.

Write to me and tell me what you think.

Photo: Canonization of St. John Paul II – CNS/ Paul Haring

PedroGM1Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Don’t Skip Out on Saints

Driver's license of Archbishop Oscar Romero seen in museum in San Salvador

The first time I heard of Archbishop Oscar Romero was during my Grade 12 religion class.
Now, religion was the last class of the day and so there was every reason to just skip it.

Something that Mr. Whitebread (yes, that was his real name) was all too aware of, and took measures against.

His strategy was the promise of a movie about a revolutionary.

Hook, line, and sinker; he had me.

We were all present and accounted for, transfixed by the retelling of this ‘revolutionaries’ life.

By the end of it, we were convinced that Archbishop Oscar Romero was a saint, and it sparked meaningful discussion about discipleship and martyrdom.

The big take away for me, was that it gave me a sense of what sainthood might be like.

Man walks next to wall with graffiti bearing image of Archbishop Oscar Romero in San Salvador

Up until that point, most of the saints I knew of were so far removed from my own experiences I kind of just wrote them off.

But learning about Archbishop Romero was different.  There was something tragically real about his life.

So it’s with particular joy that I look forward to his beatification. It’s been more than a decade since I was in high school, but I’ve been inspired to reconnect with his story by reading a biography about Oscar Romero published by Novalis. The book I’ve been reading is part of the People of God series, it’s called Love Must Win Out. Its short but serves as a great intro (or refresher) on Oscar Romero and most importantly it tells the story of a modern day person who like us was challenged by the times he lived in to become a hero, a saint.

CNS photos



CherdianS1The Producer Diaries

Cheridan Sanders, a Producer at Salt and Light Television, reflects on her experiences as she travels the world telling Catholic’s stories.


A Pentecost Reflection: Don Bosco and the Salesians



Fr. Mike Pace, SDB

All around us, this miracle of nature reveals the life-giving work of the Holy Spirit. Fifty days after the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost – when the same Spirit who at the dawn of time hovered over the chaos of nothingness to give us God’s gift of creation – breathed new life into the hearts, minds and souls of the once frightened Apostles, and the ever-faithful Virgin Mary, and in this way gave birth to the Church. From the Upper Room in Jerusalem, the Spirit of God, like a mighty wind and with tongues of fire, went forth to draw to the Risen Jesus people of every race and tongue.

Eighteen centuries later, that same Spirt worked a new Pentecost in Turin, Italy. The Holy Spirt breathed new life into the heart, mind and soul of a little boy who would grow up to be the voice of the Spirit for the young, St. John Bosco, whose bicentenary of birth we celebrate this year.

The Holy Spirit spoke to Don Bosco through many different means, including dreams. As a nine year old boy, the Spirit revealed to him the scope and purpose of his life: to teach the young the ugliness of sin (life outside the life giving power of the Spirit) and the beauty of virtue (a life crafted in response to the Spirit’s promptings).

To the young, the poor and the abandoned of Turin’s Industrial revolution, the Holy Spirit sent Don Bosco to stir up new flames of hope from the ashes of despair, to breathe transforming dignity into places of shame, and to enkindle a network of meaningful relationships through education, faith formation and responsible social service. Thus, generations were freed from the bleak, dehumanizing cycle of poverty and exploitation… and the ever-expanding Salesian family was born.

In apostolic times, the Holy Spirit commissioned Christian disciples to become witnesses of the Lord, even to the ends of the earth. That same Spirit would inspire Don Bosco to send Salesian missionaries beyond Italy to every continent on the planet. Ever since November 11, 1875, Salesian missionaries have brought the Gospel to every continent, to peoples awaiting the Springtime of Divine Love, inviting them to join the symphony of joy and optimism that comes through knowledge of Christ and active membership in his Body, the Church.

This year, the Great feast of Pentecost falls on May 24, which is also the feast day of Don Bosco’s Madonna, Mary Help of Christians. Just as Mary did for Don Bosco back then, so she does for us today: she helps us to fix our gaze on Jesus, to say YES to his life giving Spirit, so that we may continue the work of Pentecost, in the style and spirit of Don Bosco, praising God for our share in that symphony of life that is written in the “key of youth”, a privilege and a responsibility which divine providence has entrusted to us as sons and daughters of Don Bosco. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created. And you shall renew the face of the earth.

Written by Father Michael Pace SDB, Pastor, guest blogger. 

Preaching Priests and Christian Superheros


Noel-BlogWelcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As the Director of Marketing and Communications here at S+L, many interesting Catholic news stories and articles come across my desk on a daily basis. Some of them we’ll cover on our different television programs and others I’d like to share with you on this blog.

This blog column is where I’ll point out some of the more interesting news pieces that I’ve come across over the past week! Enjoy!

This week, I have a slew of different topics to share with you. On Saturday, we at S+L TV will be broadcasting live from El Salvador the beatification of Archbishop Oscar Romero. Now, we all have a general knowledge of the process of canonization. But there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes before the official declaration of a saint. Check out this short video on the steps of how the Catholic Church declares a saint.

Hallelujah! Actors help future priests amp up sermons. Now, we’ve all been there, that Sunday Mass when the sermon was delivered in a rather monotone manner. And although a dry sermon doesn’t in any way reduce the validity of the Mass, it’s great to hear that Detroit’s Sacred Heart Major Seminary has hired two professional actors to put priests-in-training through an acting/public speaking workshop nicknamed ‘Preaching Boot Camp.’ Read all about it here.


Let’s talk about life in the womb for a second. Again, we all know “conceptually” what happens as a baby grows in the mother’s womb but have you even seen it presented in video? I certainly haven’t until I saw this video! 9 Months in the Womb in 4 Incredible Minutes.

If you are a big TV fan like many, there are two new ‘Catholic’ sitcoms coming out and each are garnering very different reactions. Read about it here on the Crux.

I’ve always been a big comic book and super hero fan since I was a kid. So you can image how amazed and interested I was when I recently came across this article in Relevant Magazine. It’s a definitive ranking of Christian superheroes! Superheros with names like Bibleman, Captain Salvation, Mr. Christian and The Faith Walker are definitely uber cool dudes I’d like to hang out with. Even Captain America himself believes in God:

Read all about these Christian superheroes here.

Have you ever wondered about the physical location of where Jesus was crucified, died and was buried? Today, that place would be the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The site is venerated as Calvary (Golgotha), where Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, and also contains the place where Jesus is said to have been buried and resurrected. Although it’s on my bucket list to visit one day, it is unfortunately not in the near future. However, for the short term, I’m more than happy to settle for this amazing video tour of the inside of the church and an explanation of the site.


Finally, after a long and stressful day, there’s nothing better than to kick back at home with a cold drink or two, or three. Here’s an interesting question – is drinking alcohol wrong? What does the Bible say? Read about it here.

Well, that’s it for me this week folks. I’d love to hear you thoughts and comments on these stories. If you have any interesting stories yourself, please feel free to send them to me!

I hope you enjoy these little stories! I certainly have. Till next week!

– Noel


Photo: CNS

Homily of Pope Francis at the Mass of Canonization of 4 New Saints – May 17, 2015

Palestinian Saints 2015

Pope Francis canonized four women religious on Sunday, all 19th century nuns who worked in education. St. Marie-Alphonsine and St. Mary of Jesus Crucified were from the territory that made up historical Palestine; St. Jeanne Emilie de Villeneuve was a French nun and foundress; and St. Maria Cristina of the Immaculate Conception came from Italy. Below, please find the full English translation of Pope Francis’ homily for Holy Mass for the VII Sunday of Easter with the Rite of Canonization:

The Acts of the Apostles have set before us the early Church as she elects the man whom God called to take the place of Judas in the college of the Apostles. It is has to do not with a job, but with service. Indeed, Matthias, on whom the choice falls, receives a mission which Peter defines in these words: “One of these men… must become a witness with us to his resurrection,” the resurrection of Christ (Acts 1:21-23). In this way Peter sums up what it means to be part of the Twelve: it means to be a witness to Jesus’ resurrection. The fact that he says “with us” brings us to realize that the mission of proclaiming the risen Christ is not an individual undertaking: it is to be carried out in common, with the apostolic college and with the community. The Apostles had a direct and overwhelming experience of the resurrection; they were eyewitnesses to that event. Thanks to their authoritative testimony, many people came to believe; from faith in the risen Lord, Christian communities were born and are born continually.  We too, today, base our faith in the risen Lord on the witness of the Apostles, which has come down to us through the mission of the Church.  Our faith is firmly linked to their testimony, as to a nun broken chain which spans the centuries, made up not only by the successors of the Apostles, but also by succeeding generations of Christians. Like the Apostles, each one of Christ’s followers is called to become a witness to his resurrection, above all in those human  settings  where  forgetfulness  of  God  and  human disorientation are most evident.

Francis Canonizations May 17 3

If this is to happen, we need to remain in the risen Christ and in his love, as the First Letter of Saint John has reminded us: “He who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him” (1 Jn4:16).  Jesus had repeated insistently to his disciples: “Abide in me… Abide in my love” (Jn 15:4, 9). This is the secret of the saints: abiding in Christ, joined to him like branches to the vine, in order to bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:1-8). And this fruit is none other than love.  This love shines forth in the testimony of Sister Jeanne Émilie de Villeneuve, who consecrated her life to God and to the poor, the sick, the imprisoned and the exploited, becoming for them and for all a concrete sign of the Lord’s merciful love.

A relationship with the risen Jesus is – so to speak – the “atmosphere” in which Christians live, and in which they find the strength to remain faithful to the Gospel, even amid obstacles and misunderstandings. “Abiding in love”: this is what Sister Maria Cristina Brando also did.  She was completely given over to ardent love for the Lord.  From prayer and her intimate encounter with the risen Jesus present in the Eucharist, she received strength to endure suffering and to give herself, as bread which is broken, to many people who had wandered far from God and yet hungered for authentic love.

Relic Palestinian nun

An essential aspect of witness to the risen Lord is unity among ourselves, his disciples, in the image of his own unity with the Father.  Today too, in the Gospel, we heard Jesus’ prayer on the eve of his passion: “that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn 17:11). From this eternal love between the Father and the Son, poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5), our mission and our fraternal communion draw strength; this love is the ever-flowing source of our joy in following the Lord along the path of his poverty, his virginity and his obedience; and this same love calls us to cultivate contemplative prayer. Sister Mariam Baouardy experienced this in an outstanding way. Poor and uneducated, she was able to counsel others and provide theological explanations with extreme clarity, the fruit of her constant converse with the Holy Spirit.  Her docility to the Holy Spirit made her also a means of encounter and fellowship with the Muslim world. So too, Sister Marie Alphonsine Danil Ghattas came to understand clearly what it means to radiate the love of God in the apostolate, and to be a witness to meekness and unity. She shows us the importance of becoming responsible for one another, of living lives of service one to another.

To abide in God and in his love, and thus to proclaim by our words and our lives the resurrection of Jesus, to live in unity with one another and with charity towards all. This is what the four women Saints canonized today did. Their luminous example challenges us in our lives as Christians. How do I bear witness to the risen Christ?  This is a question we have to ask ourselves. How do I abide in him?  How do I dwell in his love?  Am I capable of “sowing” in my family, in my workplace and in my community, the seed of that unity which he has bestowed on us by giving us a share in the life of the Trinity?

When we return home today, let us take with us the joy of this encounter with the risen Lord. Let us cultivate in our hearts the commitment to abide in God’s love.  Let us remain united to him and among ourselves, and follow in the footsteps of these four women, models of sanctity whom the Church invites us to imitate.

Abbas Palestinian Canonization


Superhero Saints


Noel-BlogWelcome to S+L’s Weekly News Round-Up. As the Director of Marketing and Communications here at S+L, many interesting Catholic news stories and articles come across my desk on a daily basis. Some of them we’ll cover on our different television programs and others I’d like to share with you on this blog.

This blog column is where I’ll point out some of the more interesting news pieces that I’ve come across over the past week! Enjoy!

After a three week hiatus, I’m back. And what a crazy three weeks it has been here for all of us here at S+L. Nevertheless, the news goes on. Here are some of the articles that piqued my interest over the past few weeks that you may have missed:

This article in NewsWeek left me puzzled and shaking my head in disbelief.Main Feature to Crop Apparently, 16% of French Citizens support ISIS! A poll of European attitudes conducted by ICM revealed that 16% of French citizens have a positive opinion of ISIS. This percentage increased among younger respondents, spiking at 27% for those aged 18-24. Read all the details here. What’s also interesting are the comments at the bottom of the article!

On another note, we all know that the month of May is dedicated to our Blessed Mother. Are you aware of the five little-known Marian apparitions? Check out these five examples of approved Marian apparitions that haven’t made the news lately. Click here!

With comic book-turned-movies being all the rage in the theaters these past few years, (Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers just to name a few), there seems to be no end to the “super-remarkable” being thrown on to the big screen. But did you know that Mother Teresa was also a Marvel comic book hero? Check it out! In fact, you can still get a copy on Amazon along with books St. Pope John Paul II and St. Francis of Assisi. Perhaps there’s still a chance that Marvel will spend $100+ million to produce a movie of her life?


Speaking of superhero saints, I came across this article posted in The Crux a few weeks back that I found particularly interesting. 10 ways Pope St. John Paul left his mark on the world. Incidentally, today, May 13is the anniversary of the assassination attempt on JPII’s life back in 1981.

Now here is a story of the ultimate catholic family road trip! As you know, the Pope will make a historic visit to Philadelphia, Washington and New York in September to attend the upcoming World Meeting of Families. This family of six will drive 18,000 km from Argentina to Philadelphia in a beat up 80’s VW bus just to attend the events. Read about it here.

Pic 3 (1)

Now, who doesn’t watch television? Of course S+L TV is one of your favourite channels, but in addition to that, who doesn’t watch a rerun episode of House or Boston Legal for a good laugh? Personally, I still watch Seinfeld reruns on DVD. That being said, Epic Pew published an article called: 10 Episodes of Television Every Catholic Should Watch.

And since we are on the subject of television, a S+L viewer sent me this History Channel documentary on Youtube entitled: The Real Face of Jesus from the Shroud of Turin. It’s a full hour and a half feature that reconstructs what the face of Jesus would look like using the latest in imaging technology. Watch it here:

Well, that’s it for me this week folks. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments on these stories. If you have any interesting stories yourself, please feel free to send them to me!

I hope you enjoy these little stories! I certainly have. Till next week!

– Noel