Official Prayers for Sts. John XXIII and John Paul II

John XIII John Paul II Official Photos

Prayer to St. John XXIII:

St. John XXIII, Your simple and meek persona carried the scent of God & the desire of goodness was inflamed in the heart. Pray for us so that we do not limit ourselves to mourn the darkness but rather to enkindle the light, bringing Christ everywhere and always praying to Mary. Amen.

Prayer to St. John Paul II:

St. John Paul, from the window of Heaven grant us your blessing! Bless the Church that you have loved, served and guided, pushing Her with courage towards the paths of the world to bring Christ to all, and all to Christ. From the window of Heaven, where we see you next to Mary, send down upon us all the blessing of God. Amen.

The Suffering and Death of a Shepherd

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Good Friday – Friday, April 18, 2014

For our Good Friday Reflection this year, and in preparation for the Canonization of Blessed Pope John Paul II next Sunday, April 27, 2014, I have chosen to share with you the this reflection on what Pope John Paul II taught us at the end of his life. I cannot celebrate Good Friday without remembering Pope John Paul II, especially his final Good Friday on earth in 2005. This reflection is part of a major address I gave at the Knights of Columbus Museum in New Haven, Connecticut, for the opening of the special exhibit, “Blessed,” that commemorates the life of this great man. 

On Human Suffering

One of the beautiful and not frequently cited writings of John Paul II was his 1984 apostolic letter Salvifici Doloris, “On the Christian Meaning of Human Suffering.” The late Pope, following the Apostle Paul and the entire Catholic Tradition, maintained throughout his life that it is precisely in suffering that Christ displayed his solidarity with humanity, and in which we can grow in solidarity with Christ, who is our life.

In Salvifici Doloris suffering is the consequence of sin, and Christ embraces that consequence, rather than repudiating it. By embracing suffering, he shares fully in it, he takes the consequence of sin into and onto himself. He does this out of love for us, not simply because he wants to redeem us, but because he wants to be with us, to share what we share, to experience what we experience. And it is this shared love, this shared suffering in love, which completes and perfects the relationship broken in sin, and so redeems us.

Pope John Paul II taught us that the meaning of suffering is fundamentally changed by the Incarnation. Apart from the Incarnation, suffering is the consequence of sin. It offers opportunities for insight into oneself, for personal growth, and for demonstrating practical love for others, but these are incidental. Because of the Incarnation, however, we become sharers in the Body of Christ. Our suffering becomes his suffering, and becomes an expression of redeeming love.

Because he was the leader of a billion Roman Catholics; because he was the first pontiff of the satellite and Internet age, reaching out to billions more, and because he was John Paul II, who has ruled the church for more than 26 years—in that public experience of suffering was found enormous power. And that he certainly knew. In 1981, after recovering from the gunshot wound that almost took his life in St. Peter’s Square, John Paul declared that suffering, as such, is one of the most powerful messages in Christianity.

During the final years of his pontificate, John Paul II brought suffering back into the realm of the expected in human life. Everyone could see that his spirituality gave him an inner strength – a spirituality with which one can also overcome fear, even the fear of death. What an incredible lesson for the world! His struggle with the physical effects of aging was also a valuable lesson to a society that finds it hard to accept growing older, and a culture that sees no redemption in suffering. 

In 1994, as age and infirmity began to incapacitate John Paul publicly, he told his followers he had heard God and was about to change the way he led the church. “I must lead her with suffering,” he said. “The pope must suffer so that every family and the world should see that there is, I would say, a higher gospel: the gospel of suffering, with which one must prepare the future.”

A consoling letter to his peers

In 1999, in preparation for the Great Jubilee, Pope John Paul II published his “Letter to the Elderly.” Following his Letters to the young in 1985, to families in 1994, to children in 1994, to women in 1995 and to artists in 1999 year – and not counting those Letters that he wrote each year to priests on Holy Thursday, since the beginning of his pontificate, he wrote deeply moving and encouraging words to his peers in the Letter to the Elderly. He had no fear in placing before the eyes of the world the limits and frailties that the years placed upon him. He did nothing to disguise them. In speaking to young people, he has no difficulty in saying of himself: ‘I am an old priest’.” John Paul II “continued to fulfill his mission as the Successor of Peter, looking far ahead with the enthusiasm of the only youth that does not deteriorate, that of the spirit, which this Pope maintains intact. The letter had a very personal, almost confidential, tone and was not an analysis of old age. Rather, it was a very intimate dialogue between people of the same generation.

“The passage of time,” wrote the Pope in that memorable letter, “helps us to see our experiences in a clearer light and softens their painful side.” Moreover, he says, the daily difficulties can be eased with God’s help. In addition, “we are consoled by the thought that, by virtue of our spiritual souls, we will survive beyond death.”

“Guardians of shared memory” was the title of the one part of the Pope’s Letter. Pointing out that “in the past, great respect was shown to the elderly,” the Pope remarks that this is still true in many cultures today, “while among others, this is much less the case, due to a mentality which gives priority to immediate human usefulness and productivity.” He wrote: “It has come to the point where euthanasia is increasingly put forward as a solution for difficult situations. Unfortunately, in recent years the idea of euthanasia has lost for many people the sense of horror which it naturally awakens in those who have a sense of respect for life.”

The Pope added: “Here it should be kept in mind that the moral law allows the rejection of ‘aggressive medical treatment’ and makes obligatory only those forms of treatment which fall within the normal requirements of medical care, which in the case of terminal illness seeks primarily to alleviate pain. But euthanasia, understood as directly causing death, is another thing entirely. Regardless of intentions and circumstances, euthanasia is always an intrinsically evil act, a violation of God’s law and an offense against the dignity of the human person.”

Pope John Paul II continued in that letter: “Man has been made for life, whereas death … was not a part of God’s original plan but came about as a consequence of sin.” “However rationally comprehensible death may be from a biological standpoint, it is not possible to experience it as something ‘natural’.” We ask ourselves, he says here, “What is on the other side of the shadowy wall of death?” The answer comes from faith “which illuminates the mystery of death and brings serenity to old age, now no longer lived passively as the expectation of a calamity, but rather as a promise-filled approach to the goal of full maturity.” 

Pope John Paul’s Letter to the Elderly closed with a section entitled “An encouragement to live life to the full.” He writes: “I feel a spontaneous desire to share fully with you my own feelings at this point of my life, after more than twenty years of ministry on the throne of Peter. … Despite the limitations brought on by age I continue to enjoy life. For this I thank the Lord. It is wonderful to be able to give oneself to the very end for the sake of the Kingdom of God! “At the same time,” he concludes, “I find great peace in thinking about the time when the Lord will call me: from life to life! … ‘Bid me to come to you’: this is the deepest yearning of the human heart, even in those who are not conscious of it.” What a magnificent signature piece of Pope John Paul II! He not only wrote the letter but enacted it in his own life. We were eyewitnesses.

The public suffering

Pope John Paul II taught us that life is sacred, no matter how painful his own life became for him. Rather than hide his infirmities, as most public figures do, Pope John Paul II let the whole world see what he went through. The suffering and dying of this Pope did not take place in private, but before television cameras and the whole world. In the final act of his life, the athlete was immobilized, the distinctive, booming voice silenced, and the hand that produced voluminous encyclicals no longer able to write. John Paul II’s final homily was an icon of his Galilean Master’s final words to Simon Peter: “Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” …After this he [Jesus] said to him, “Follow me” [John 21:18-19].

Many Catholics and non-Christians saw the pope’s suffering as something like the agony of Jesus himself, and neither John Paul nor those around him discourage such comparisons. When asked a few years ago if he might consider resigning, John Paul reportedly asked, in reply, “Did Christ come down from the cross?” His close aides say that debate about his ability to administer the church, as if he were the CEO of a secular corporation, essentially misses the point. This pope is not doing a job, he is carrying out a divine mission, and his pain is at its core.

That final Good Friday evening

One of my most vivid memories from the last week of our late Holy Father Pope John Paul II’s life was during the Way of the Cross on Good Friday evening in 2005, in which he participated by watching the service at the Coliseum in his chapel on television. The television camera in his chapel was behind him so that he would not be distracted from taking part in this ceremony in which he always took part personally. Then-Archbishop John Foley was doing the television commentary in English from Rome, reading the very provocative meditations prepared by a certain Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger.

At one point toward the end of the Way of the Cross, someone put a rather large crucifix on the knee of the Holy Father, and he was gazing lovingly at the figure of Jesus. At the words, “Jesus Dies on the Cross,” Pope John Paul drew the crucifix to himself and embraced it. I will never forget that scene. What an incredibly powerful homily without words! Like Jesus, Pope John Paul II embraced the cross; in fact, he embraced the crucifix of Jesus Christ on Good Friday night.

The death of a patriarch

Several hours before his death, Pope John Paul’s last audible words were: “Let me go to the house of the Father.” In the intimate setting of prayer, as Mass was celebrated at the foot of his bed and the throngs of faithful sang below in St. Peter’s Square, he died at 9:37 p.m. on April 2. Through his public passion, suffering and death, this holy priest, Successor of the Apostles, and Servant of God, showed us the suffering face of Jesus in a remarkable way.

The Pope of Holiness

Karol Wojtyla himself was an extraordinary witness who, through his devotion, heroic efforts, long suffering and death, communicated the powerful message of the Gospel to the men and women of our day. A great part of the success of his message is due to the fact that he has been surrounded by a tremendous cloud of witnesses who stood by him and strengthened him throughout his life. For John Paul II, the call to holiness excludes no one; it is not the privilege of a spiritual elite.

“Lumen Gentium,” the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of the Second Vatican Council notes that the holiness of Christians flows from that of the Church and manifests it. It says that holiness “is expressed in many ways by the individuals who, each in his own state of life, tend to the perfection of love, thus sanctifying others” (LG 39). In this variety “one and the same holiness is cultivated by all, who are moved by the Spirit of God…and follow the poor Christ, the humble and cross bearing Christ in order to be worthy of being sharers in his glory” (LG 41). 

When the throngs of people began chanting “Santo Subito” at the end of the Pope’s funeral mass on April 8, 2005, what were they really chanting? They were crying out that in Karol Wojtyla, they saw someone who lived with God and lived with us. He was a sinner who experienced God’s mercy and forgiveness. He was the prophetic teacher who preached the word in season and out of season. He looked at us, loved us, touched us, healed us and gave us hope. He taught us not to be afraid. He showed us how to live, how to love, how to forgive and how to die. He taught us how to embrace the cross in the most excruciating moments of life, knowing that the cross was not God’s final answer.

That a person is declared a “Saint” is not a statement about perfection. It does not mean that the person was without imperfection, blindness, deafness or sin. Nor is it a 360-degree evaluation of the Pontificate or of the Vatican. Canonization means that a person lived his or her life with God, relying totally on God’s infinite mercy, going forward with God’s strength and power, believing in the impossible, loving one’s enemies and persecutors, forgiving in the midst of evil and violence, hoping beyond all hope, and leaving the world a better place. That person lets those around him know that there is a force or spirit animating his or her life that is not of this world, but the next. Such a person lets us catch a glimpse of the greatness and holiness to which we are all called, and shows us the face of God as we journey on our pilgrim way on earth.

In the life of Karol Wojtyla, the boy from Wadowice who would grow up to be a priest and Bishop of Krakow, the Bishop of Rome, and a hero for the ages, holiness was contagious. We have all been touched and changed by it. Pope John Paul II was not only “Holy Father” but “a Father who was and is Holy.” At his funeral mass on April 8, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told the world that the Holy Father was watching us and blessing us “from the window of the Father’s House.”

As we prepare for the Canonization of this great shepherd and holy priest and bishop on Sunday April 27, 2014, may we learn from “Papa Wojtyla” how to cross thresholds, open doors, build bridges, embrace the Cross of suffering and proclaim the Gospel of Life to the people of our time. May we learn how to live, to suffer and die unto the Lord. Let us pray to have a small portion of the fidelity of Peter’s witness and the boldness of Paul’s proclamation that were so mightily present in Karol Wojtyla – Saint John Paul II. May he intercede for us and for all those who suffer in body and spirit, and give us the desire to help carry one another’s crosses, to grow in holiness and to become saints. 

[The readings for Good Friday are: Isaiah 52:13-53:12; Hebrews 4:14-16, 5:7-9; and John 18:1-19:42.]

This reflection first appeared on the Zenit International News Service in 2011 as well as on the Salt + Light Blog. The complete collection of reflections for Year B, entitled “Words made Flesh,” is now available in book form through our online store. Book editions for Year A and C reflections are coming soon.

JP II, We Love You – Pope John Paul II prays during Palm Sunday Mass

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POPE JOHN PAUL II HOLDS CROSIER AS HE PRAYSPope John Paul II holds his crosier as he prays during Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican in this undated photo. (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo)

Saint Francois de Laval

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Born at Montigny-sur-Avre, France on April 30, 1623, Francois de Laval was the son of Hughes de Laval and Michelle de Péricard;. He was a scion of an illustrious family, whose ancestor was baptized with Clovis at Reims, and whose motto reads: “Dieu ayde au primer baron chrestien.”

Laval studied under the Jesuits at La Flèche, and learned philosophy and theology at their college of Clermont (Paris), where he joined a group of fervent youths directed by Father Bagot. This congregation was the germ of the Seminary of Foreign Missions, famous in the history of the Church, and of which the future seminary of Quebec was to be a sister institution.

Because his two older brothers died in battle, François inherited the family title and estate. But he resisted all worldly attractions, and his mother’s entreaties, and held fast to his vocation. Laval was ordained a priest in 1747, and served as archdeacon at Evereux.

The renowned Jesuit missionary, Alexander de Rhodes, having obtained from Innocent X permission to appoint three vicars Apostolic for the East, chose Laval for the Tonquin mission. The Portuguese Court vehemently opposed the plan and from 1655 to 1658 Laval lived at the “hermitage” of Caen, in the practice of piety and good works. This solitude was a fitting preamble to his apostolic career.

He was finally appointed Vicar Apostolic of New France, with the title of Bishop of Petrea, and was consecrated on December 8, 1658, by the papal nuncio Piccolomini in the abbatical church of St-Germain-des-Prés, Paris. He landed in Quebec on 16 June, 1659, which then counted barely 500 inhabitants. In fact, the whole French population of Canada did not exceed 2200 souls. Laval’s first report to the pope, dated 1660, expresses admiration for the natural grandeur of the country, courage, hope for the future, and praise for the zeal of the Jesuits.

From the outset Bishop Laval had to assert his authority. Most of the colonists hailed from Rouen, and the Archbishop of Rouen, Francois De Champvallon, resented that he did not have jurisdiction over the colony. Laval claimed his jurisdiction over New France directly from Rome. This conflict, which caused trouble and uncertainty, was ended when the See of Quebec was erected in 1674 as a regular diocese depending solely on Rome.

But the hardest struggle, the trial of a life-time, was against the liquor-traffic with the natives. The civilization and salvation of the aboriginals, and the welfare of New France depended on a finding a solution to this problem. The challenge was made more arduous by the lawless greed of the white trader, and the dependency on alcohol that developed among the natives because of it.

After exhausting all persuasive measures and consulting the Sorbonne theologians, Laval forbade liquor traffic under pain of excommunication. The civil authorities pleaded with him to lift the ban in the interest of commerce. First the Governor Pierre Dubois d’Avaugour relaxed the severity of the prohibition, but, through Laval’s influence at court, it was fully reinstated.

At this time the Diocese of Quebec comprised all of North America, except New England, the Atlantic sea-board, and the Spanish colonies to the West.  Laval’s zeal embraced all whom he could reach by his representatives or by his personal visitations. In season and out of season, he made long and perilous journeys by land and water to minister to his flock. His fatherly kindness sustained the far-off missionary. “His heart is always with us”, writes the Jesuit Dablon. Laval was a protector and guide to the religious houses in Quebec and Montreal. He was also deeply attached to the Jesuits, his former teachers, and recalled to Canada in 1670 the Franciscan Recollets, who had brought the Gospel to region in the first place.

With the baptism of Garakontie, the renowned Iroquois man, an effacacious promoter of the true Faith was secured among his fellow-countrymen. Laval’s foresight made him foster the most cherished devotions of the Church: belief in the Immaculate Conception, the titular of his cathedral, and the cult of the Holy Family, which flourished on Canadian soil (Encyclical of Leo XIII). He was a devout client of St. Anne, whose shrine at Beaupre was rebuilt in 1673.

Laval was also one of the foremost promoters of education. At that early period, with a handful of colonists and scanty resources, he organized a complete education system: primary, technical, and classical. His seminary, established in 1663, and minor seminary, established in 1668, trained candidates for the priesthood.

An industrial school, founded at St-Joachim (1678), provided the colony with skilled farmers and craftsmen. Laval gave all of his possessions to these institutions, especially the seminary. These institutions eventually became the university which today bears his name.

In view of the future he built the seminary on a relatively large scale, which excited the envy and criticism of Governor Frontenac. No regular parishes had been established yet, so the clergy were attached to the seminary, from where they were dispatched for parochial or mission work. The tithes, after much discussion and opposition, had finally been limited to the twenty-sixth bushel of grain harvested, an enactment still legally in force in the Province of Quebec. These tithes were paid to the seminary, which, in return provided labourers for Christ’s vineyard.

Laval’s patriotism was remarkable. The creation of the Sovereign Council in lieu of the Company of New France was greatly due to his influence, and helped ensure the proper administration of justice, the progress of colonization, and the defence of the country against the ever-increasing ferocity and audacity of the Iroquois.

Exhausted by thirty years of a laborious apostolate, and convinced that a younger bishop would work more efficaciously for God’s glory and the good of souls, Laval resigned in 1688. His successor, Abbé de St-Vallier, a virtuous and generous prelate, did not share all his views regarding administration. Laval might have enjoyed a well-earned retreat in France, but after having returned to France he realized he preferred to remain in the country that was the scene of his labours.  

To Laval’s sorrow, the seminary was burned twice (1701 and 1705), and rebuilt through his energy and generosity. The end was near. He spent his final years in greater retirement and humility, and died on May 6, 1708 in the odour of sanctity.

His reputation for holiness, though somewhat dimmed after the Conquest, revived during the nineteenth century. The cause for his canonization was introduced in 1890 and reached its completion on April 3, 2014 when Pope Francis signed a decree recognizing his sanctity in an equivalent canonization.

Photo courtesy of CNS

 

 

 

 

John Paul II: The Pilgrim Pope

WYD Aus We Heart Pope

By Elizabeth Krump

In July 2008, the streets of Sydney, Australia were transformed with a swell of nearly one million young pilgrims. Despite an influx of youth, there was no vandalism, fear or fights as a result. This group of young people had gathered in solidarity to celebrate their Catholic faith at the invitation of the Holy Father.
I remember being in Sydney for the 23rd World Youth Day, singing praises and national anthems on packed trains, attending concerts and hearing renowned speaker Christopher West share John Paul II’s teaching on Theology of the Body with a sold-out audience. The enthusiasm for the faith was palpable. Everywhere I went in Sydney I crossed paths with pilgrims filled with hope. One group from East Timor had secretly traveled to WYD, risking their lives to meet the Holy Father and share in the celebration of faith.

World Youth Day is the legacy of Blessed John Paul II, who will be canonized next month on Divine Mercy Sunday. John Paul II entrusted WYD to the youth of the world as an invitation to rise up as faithful witnesses to Christ. World Youth Day gathers together youth from every country, embodying the call of the Gospel, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” [Matt 28:19].

John Paul II himself embraced this universal call to evangelize by visiting 129 countries during his Papacy alone. As the Vicar of Christ, he became a pilgrim, bringing the heart of the Church into a world in need of salvation. I recently heard the story of a woman who had met John Paul II during his visit to Toronto in 2002. When asked to describe what he was like she said, “When you looked at him it was like looking into the eyes of Love. He exuded Christ.”

In Sydney, my group traveled with a good friend and seminarian – now priest – who took the opportunity to tell just about everyone we met that he was in the seminary. Other pilgrims would listen attentively as he took the time to share his vocation story. I now understand why they were so attracted to him. He had found the answer to the hunger for understanding, purpose and happiness that this world cannot satisfy.

During a famous homily to the people of Poland in Victory Square, 1979, Pope John Paul II said this, “[M]an is incapable of understanding himself fully without Christ. He cannot understand who he is, nor what his true dignity is, nor what his vocation is, nor what his final end is. He cannot understand any of this without Christ.”

John Paul II is described as charismatic, magnetic, joyful and courageous. He was all these things and more because he was a man whose identity was found and lived in Christ. He was a pilgrim who found Jesus in the heart of every person he encountered and loved them as Christ loved us. He embraced his cross, suffering for the greater glory of God, until the very end. This is what made him a saint.

On April 1, 2005, in the final days of his life, John Paul II said, “I have looked for you. Now you have come to me. And I thank you.” The pilgrim Pope, confined to his bed, was unable to go out into his Church. Instead, they had journeyed to be with him, gathered below in St. Peter’s Square in prayer.

On April 27, 2014, approximately 10,000 pilgrim Catholics in the Vancouver area are expected to gather at the Pacific National Exhibition grounds to celebrate the Canonization of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII. Mass will be celebrated by Archbishop Michael Miller and Most Rev. Luigi Bonazzi, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, and there will be an opportunity to venerate sacred objects of the two saints afterward. You are invited to attend! For more information, please click here
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Elizabeth Krump is a student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where she has been involved with Catholic Christian Outreach. Elizabeth has written for the B.C. Catholic and with two friends started Live 31 Vancouver, a blog/social group/discussion group for women trying to live their faith in the modern world.

Saint Marianne Cope, Beloved Mother of Outcasts

Sister Marianne Cope (formerly Barbara Koob) was born January 23, 1838 and baptized the following day in what is now Hessen, West Germany. The young Sister Marianne worked as a teacher and hospital administrator in New York. In 1870, she was elected superior of St. Joseph’s Hospital in Syracuse. Seven years later she became second Mother Provincial of her order. Just when it seemed that her religious life was planned out, in 1883 she received an unexpected invitation from Fr. Leonor Fouesnel, emissary of the Hawaiian government, to come and help the “afflicted members” of the Kingdom of Hawaii.

She left for Hawaii with six sisters in 1883, planning to get them settled and then return to Syracuse. She ended up spending the rest of her life in Hawaii. After five years managing a hospital in Honolulu, she volunteered to go to Molokai, an isolated peninsula at the base of enormous cliffs to which lepers were condemned for the rest of their days. According to witnesses, Molokai at the time was something like a combination of a graveyard and a prison. The stench was so vile that even Fr. Damien had to smoke a pipe to keep from vomiting.

By frequent hand-washing, keeping the convent off-limits to lepers and refusing food prepared by lepers, Mother Marianne and her sisters managed to spend decades ministering to the physical and emotional needs of lepers in close quarters without ever becoming infected.

The life of Mother Marianne complements the life of St. Damien (1840-1889), beloved for his self-sacrifice for the lepers of Hawaii to the point of contracting the disease himself. Mother Marianne, for her part, decided from the outset to observe certain basic rules to protect herself and her Franciscan sisters from leprosy. She spent the last 30 years of her life ministering on the Hawaiian island of Molokai, working closely with Father Damien and with the outcasts of society as they were abandoned on the shores of the island, never to return to their families. After Fr. Damien had died, Mother Marianne took charge of the refuge had had built for boys. She was about 50 years old when her mission at Molokai began. She died at 80 years old on August 9, 1918 from kidney and heart disease. At her death, a Honolulu newspaper wrote: “Seldom has the opportunity come to a woman to devote every hour of 30 years to the mothering of people isolated by law from the rest of the world. She risked her own life all that time, faced everything with unflinching courage, and was known for her gentle smile.

People of all religions of the islands still honor and revere Father Damien, now St. Damien, and Mother Marianne who brought healing to body and soul. She was beatified at the Vatican on May 14, 2005, one month after the death of Pope John Paul II. With her canonization by Pope Benedict on October 21, 2012 her life is held up before the world as true model of holiness and friend of God.

3 Reasons Young People Love the Church and What We Can Learn From Them

Polish pilgrims react as pope announces that Krakow will host World Youth Day 2016

By Elizabeth Krump

“Keep the youth close to you: they will keep you young and faithful.” These are telling words that Blessed John Paul II shared with Fr. Thomas Rosica in the later days of his pontificate. John Paul II had a great love for all young people, until the very end of his life.

There are some who suggest that the Church is dying, that our pews are emptying of young people and that faith has become a disposable good in our modern times. Blessed John Paul II believed just the opposite.

Last weekend, Fr. Tom Rosica visited Vancouver to speak about the upcoming canonization of John Paul II. As he spoke of the life of this modern day saint, he reminded his audience that the young people of today who do fill our churches are very serious about their Catholic faith. One only has to Google images of Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro from July 2013 to get a sense of the young Church, alive.

Here are three reasons why I believe young adults take their faith seriously:

  1. We are ambitious. We have high ideals. We like to challenge the impossible and we want to change the world. This is part of our Catholic calling! Pope Francis said it clearly at the Prayer Vigil during WYD in Rio, “Your young hearts want to build a better world…. It is the young who want to be the protagonists of change… Through you the future is fulfilled in the world.” The mission of the Church is not fulfilled until Christ has been proclaimed to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19). Talk about an ambitious Church. We fit right in!
  2. We are curious. We have a desire to know about our world, ourselves and God. We will break our bank accounts to travel to new places to see them first hand. We like to take on new hobbies, meet new people, try new foods. The Catholic Church has a depth to it that allows us to keep asking questions… and it also has answers to the deepest questions of our hearts.
  3. We are passionate. The Catholic faith is founded on self-less love and zealous missionary disciples. When we discover our identity in Christ – our calling to be witnesses in word and action – that same passion, joy and zeal in every area of life are even more real to us because we have the hope of eternal life.

Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for his Church… he is calling each of you to follow him in his Church and to be missionaries. The Lord is calling you today!”

Pope Francis, Prayer Vigil at WYD Rio

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Elizabeth Krump is a student at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, where she has been involved with Catholic Christian Outreach. Elizabeth has written for the B.C. Catholic and with two friends started Live 31 Vancouver, a blog/social group/discussion group for women trying to live their faith in the modern world.

CNS photo/Paul Haring
Polish pilgrims in Rio de Janeiro cheer as Pope Francis announces that World Youth Day 2016 will take place in Krakow, Poland. 

Jesuits react to canonization of Peter Faber

The following letter from the Superior General of the Society of Jesus was posted on the order’s website.in reaction to the canonization of Peter Faber. On Tuesday December 17 Pope Francis enrolled Peter Faber, SJ in the catalog of saints, performing what is known as an Equivalent Canonization.  Peter Faber was one of the companions of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

Dear brothers and friends in the Lord:

With profound pleasure I am writing to the whole Society on the occasion of Pope Francis’ proclamation that Peter Faber, “the silent companion” of the first generation of Jesuits, is a saint.  On day coinciding with his birthday, our Holy Father wanted to present to the universal Church a gift that is very significant and precious to him.

The canonization of Peter Faber happens to coincide with another great event of our time – a Jesuit Kairos: the Bicentenary of the Restoration of the Society (1814).  Without any doubt our beloved Savoyard companion can provide us incentive and drive for a dynamic restoration of our lives as Jesuits, personally as well as corporately, lives which are never complete for we are always on pilgrimage.  That transparent, spontaneous, and childlike faith that Faber showed can help us persevere as “companions in His Company,” convinced in an Ignatian way that “it is the Lord who does all things in us, and for whom all things operate, and in whom they all exist” (Memorial, 245).

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.  Peter Faber chose this beginning verse of Psalm 102 to humbly open the door of his heart in his Memorial.  It sums up in a few profound words the essential stance of Faber before life and before God: blessing, memory, and gratitude.

Although the human and religious stature as well as the great deeds of some of his Jesuit companions (Ignatius, Xavier, Laínez, Borgia, or Canisius) may have led us to overlook or even ignore the person and accomplishments of Faber, today we recognize in his life and legacy a way of proceeding that is genuinely Ignatian and profoundly rooted in the person of our Lord; Faber was truly a companion of Jesus.

On the first day of August 1546 Faber passed away in Rome, barely forty years of age.  He was the second of the First Companions of Paris to die, following  Jean Codure who had died in August 1541. Faber had arrived in the Eternal City from Coimbra a few days before, arriving exhausted by the long and hard journey.  Although his friends Laínez, Salmerón, and Le Jay were waiting for him in Trent with hopes of seeing him, word began to spread in Europe: “Master Faber is now found at a better Council, because he passed away from this life on the first of August” (Monumenta Lainii I, 52).

What does “Master Faber” continue to teach us almost 470 years after his death in that manner so much his own, a pedagogy in a soft voice? And what can we personally learn if “we open our heart and let Christ occupy its center”? (Memorial, 68)

Providentially, at the end of September 1529 three university students came to live together on the third floor of the Collège Sainte-Barbe as students of the Arts: Peter Faber, Francis Xavier, and Ignatius of Loyola.  After five years of course work and shared experiences, at Montmartre on the 15th day of August 1534, Faber presided at a Eucharist at which the first seven “friends in the Lord” fixed their eyes and hearts on the same desire: Jerusalem.  It was the beginning of an unanticipated project, the Society of Jesus, which continues with vitality and surprises today.

When Ignatius left for Azpeitia, his birthplace, in March of 1535, “Master Faber” remained “as our elder brother” (Lainez to Polanco, FN I, 104), overseeing the welfare and growth of the group.  What type of leadership did Peter Faber exercise at that time?  Thanks to his attention and friendship, the “least Society” did not cease to grow in number and virtue.  By means of conversation and the Spiritual Exercises he first incorporated Claude le Jay, Jean Codure, and Paschase Broët in the group.  In later years Francis Borgia and Peter Canisius joined the Society.  The fire that was already burning in his heart began to light other fires.  In Faber we recognize the brother who watched over and cared for the “union of souls,” the conservation and the growth of the body, the construction of the building that would be his beloved “company of Jesus,” for which he constantly desired “a birth in good desires of holiness and justice” (Memorial, 196)

In 1577, near the end of his life, Simon Rodriguez remembered Peter Faber who had died thirty one years earlier: “he had the most charming gentleness and grace that I ever saw in my life for dealing and conversing with people…. With his modesty and charm he won for God the hearts of those he dealt with.”  Faber is for us a Master of the rhetoric of the divine, someone who “in whatever subject and without disturbing anyone found material for thinking and talking about God” (Monumenta Broetii, 453).  At the beginning of 1534, he made the Spiritual Exercises with Ignatius in the neighborhood of Saint Jacques in Paris.  From that time on, as no one else, Faber penetrated the inner understanding of this method of conversation between the Creator and the creature, which he so delicately and accurately shared with others.  Ignatius said of him that “he had the first place in giving the Exercises” (Luis G. de Câmera, Memorial, FN I, 658).  In Faber we recognize a man of the Ignatian charism, molded by the method of the Exercises, disposed to look for and find God in all things, and always creative when the opportunity arose for “providing a method and order” for prayer to quite different people in the most diverse situations.

His conversation bore fruit because it sprang from an inner life inhabited by the presence of God.  Getting inside Faber we discover the mystic in history and in the world, rooted in time but living from the gift that always and in all things “descends from above” (Spiritual Exercises, 237).  For Faber any circumstance, place, or moment was an occasion for an encounter with God.  Master Faber was, above all but without claiming to be so, a Master of prayer.  He understood that his friendship with Jesus was based on the mysteries of the Life of Christ, “lessons of the Spirit” for his vocation and his Christification, which he contemplated piously and from which he knew how “to reflect on so as to obtain some benefit.”  Faber prayed in constant colloquies with Jesus and Mary, with the angels and the saints, with the martyrs and his “private saints,” among whom he counted his great tutor and master of his youth, Peter Veillardo, whom he considered a saint.  He prayed about the elements of nature or the passing of seasons, about obstacles, about infirmity. He prayed for the Church, for the Pope, the Society, for heretics and persecutors. He prayed with his body and his senses. He was a believer in continual prayer, in a life infused by Mystery; he was convinced that God had made him a temple, and he remained in constant dialogue with Him.

Perhaps it is in this spirit, rooted and grounded in Christ, that his apostolic activity, so varied and fruitful, makes sense: teaching catechism to children, preaching in court, giving colloquies in Germany, founding colleges in Spain (Alcalá, Valladolid) and Germany, teaching lessons of theology in Rome.  Faber was given the experience and desire for being what another companions would later call a “contemplative in action.”

Among his other activities, Faber stood out as a Master of Reconciliation.  Ignatius knew Faber’s extraordinary gifts for conversation and did not hesitate to send him to the very center of a Europe in conflict.  His was one of the most significant examples of that ministry to which the first Jesuits gave themselves so generously: “reconciling the estranged” (Formula of the Institute, 1550, 1). Similar to the spirit of our last General Congregation, Faber worked hard to maintain unity and to establish peace in a Europe that was theologically convulsed and challenged by religious questions and political-ecclesial conflicts: Worms (1540) and Ratisbon (1541) were some of the places where Faber sought understanding and harmony, which he saw with sorrow becoming ever more distant.  And Faber united piety and erudition so naturally – a wise and discreet spiritual manner of expressing a deep theological foundation- that he was able to make the appropriate gesture or “say the right word.”  He carried deep within himself one of the guiding principles of the Exercises:  “to try hard to save the proposition of one’s neighbor” (Spiritual Exercises, 22): “whoever would like to help the heretics of this time should have much charity towards them and love them truly,” communicating “with them familiarly” (Monumenta Fabri, 399-402).  At the Society’s origin, Faber’s manner expressed our contemporary vocation of being present at the frontiers and being bridges of reconciliation.

Following the footsteps and example of his beloved companion in Paris, Faber was also a Pilgrim who embodied the mysticism of travel so proper to the first Jesuits.  “It seems that Faber was born to never remain still in any one place,” wrote the Secretary of the Society (Monumenta Ignatiana, Epistolae I, 362).  He traveled thousands of miles throughout the Europe of his time, a sign of his abnegation, availability, and obedience.  He was frequently found engaged in “so many travels and exiles” (Monumenta Fabri, 419-420) that as a “perpetual stranger… I will be a pilgrim wherever the will of God leads me as long as I live” (Monumenta Fabri, 255), a will to which Faber spontaneously bound himself with his sense of obedience, making himself an echo of those words of the Centurion to Jesus: “come and he comes, go and he goes” (Mt 8:9). “For Him alone – for Jesus – have I changed houses many times [...] not infrequently have I gone to stay in places contaminated and dangerous for my body,” there was cold, fatigue, intemperate weather, and poverty, but Faber always knew how to maintain his contemplative outlook: “may he be blessed forever who protected me and all those who were in the same situation I was” (Memorial, 286).

Today, with serene happiness and “internal joy,” we have reason to continue to see in Peter Faber our “elder brother.”  His manner of being present is a blessing for us; he is a reminder to be humble and to constantly return to our “least Society;” staying close to him, we distance ourselves from temptations to empty triumphalism or the powerful forces of arrogance.  Faber is a call to a life of “having before our eyes first of all God our Lord,” looking always to do His will in this His Institute (cf. Formula of the Institute, 1).  Faber is a call to the care and attention to the Body of the Society, a call to dialogue and unconditional openness, of obedient availability and confident surrender.  With Faber nearby, judgment is enlightened; “You have given all to me – to You, Lord, I return it.” 

On the occasion of the canonization of this humble “friend in the Lord,” we once again recognize, with “true happiness” (Spiritual Exercises, 329) and grateful wonder, the nearness of God to his Society of Jesus. Today his Infinite Goodness reaches and blesses us with the memory and presence of Peter Faber among us.

The current season of Advent is a call to make level the ways of the Lord and prepare his coming.  May the Lord Himself give us light to bring to action the best we are for the generous service of the Church.

Sincerely yours,

 

Adolfo Nicolás, S.I.

Superior General

Rome, 17 December 2013


(CNS photo)

Franz Jaegerstaetter: A Man of Conscience

An Austrian farmer and father of four, Franz Jäggerstätter was faced with the choice to serve in Hitler’s army or to face execution. A devout Catholic and loving husband and father, Franz struggled with his responsibilities to his family and to state authority, but in the end felt he could not betray God and his faith by serving the Third Reich. He was executed by beheading on August 9, 1943, at the age of 36.  Using his journals and letters from prison, the documentary blends family interviews, archival photos and WW II footage to tell the story of Franz’s courageous stand.

Franz’s letters from prison to his wife are read by Martin Sheen who comments: “As he stood alone against the greatest force of evil in the 20th century, the Nazis, Franz Jaegerstaetter discovered that conscience is costly, faith is necessary, and one man with courage is a majority.” 

You can watch this award-winning documentary, narrated by Golden Globe Award-winning actor and social activist Martin Sheen on our network. 

Premiere: Sunday November 3rd 9:30 pm ET / 6:30 pm PT
Repeats: Monday Nov 4, 1:30 am & 2 pm ET
Wednesday Nov 6 9:30 am ET
Thursday Nov 7 9:30 pm ET
Friday Nov 8 1:30 am & 2 pm ET
Sunday Nov 10 1:30 pm ET

For more see our broadcast schedule

The Labyrinth: The Testimony of Marian Kolodziej

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Whenever people speak of Auschwitz, I wonder how it was possible for a person to ignore atrocities that happened only a few miles away. It’s said that some camps were within walking distance of ordinary homesteads.

Upon reflection, I’ve realized that the answer lies in our nurtured ability to empathize with the downtrodden and exploited. Having grown up watching holocaust films in religion class, I was deeply affected by what I saw but the experience always seemed surreal. It was something foreign, something that happened to someone else. I couldn’t imagine how it occurred, or how ordinary people were complicit in something so extraordinary. I just could not seem to see my own face in that of the prisoners or the guards. It’s as if Auschwitz was a concept in my mind, not a reality.

That changed recently after viewing the documentary, The Labyrinth: The Testimony of Marian Kolodziej. This documentary is the story of an Auschwitz survivor who finally confronts the horrors of his past after 50 years of silence. Marian Kolodziej, a Polish Catholic, uses his pen and ink drawings to invite us into an experience of life in Auschwitz. Somewhere between the drawings and Marian’s testimony one becomes acutely aware of how distorted a person’s path can become without having God in our horizon. [Read more...]