October 12, 2011 by 1 Comment
Among those canonized by Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday, October 17, 2010 at the Vatican was Canadian Brother André Bessette, of the Congregation of Holy Cross. For nearly 40 years Brother André worked as a porter at the College of Notre-Dame-du-Sacré-Coeur in the Montreal neighborhood of Côtes-des-Neiges. Speaking about his assignment as doorman, he once quipped, "When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door." As porter of the College, Brother André lived in a small room located near the main entrance that also served as his office. He urged people who came to him to pray with confidence and perseverance, while remaining open to God’s will. He admonished people to begin their path to healing through commitments to faith and humility, through confession and a return to the sacraments. He encouraged the sick to seek a doctor’s care. He saw value in suffering that is joined to the sufferings of Christ. He allowed himself to be fully present to the sadness of others but always retained a joyful nature and good humor. At times he was seen weeping along with his visitors as they recounted to him their sorrows and difficulties. Word spread quickly when many of those with whom he prayed were healed. As Brother André was becoming known as a miracle worker, he insisted all the more, "I am nothing...only a tool in the hands of Providence, a lowly instrument at the service of St. Joseph." Brother André died in Montreal on January 6, 1937 without seeing the completion of his dream. It is estimated that over a million people visited his body during the week following his death. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on May 23, 1982 at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. On October 17, 2010, Brother André Bessette becomes Canada’s first male Canadian born saint. Through Brother André’s efforts, suffering and faith, from a little chapel on a hillside of Mount Royal came forth a great Basilica that now dominates Montreal’s mountain and Canada’s spiritual landscape. St. Joseph’s Oratory is the world’s largest shrine dedicated to St. Joseph, built from a dream of Brother André Bessette. In this frail Brother of Holy Cross, God’s strength and might were revealed to the world. “Pauper, servus et umilis” are the Latin words written above his tomb at the Oratory in Montreal, meaning poor, servant and humble. They are also the words that are sung in the Panis Angelicus, the magnificent hymn about the Eucharist: poor, servant and humble. Who can say why was André chosen? In a beautiful circular letter to the Holy Cross family earlier this year, former Holy Cross Superior General Fr. Hugh Cleary wrote: “…perhaps André was chosen, like Mary and Joseph, because in the eyes of this world he was no one; he possessed nothing, nothing possessed him. …God possessed him giving him what he cared for most, giving him fulfillment to the deepest longing of his heart.” As an adult, Brother André stood just five feet tall. But he was a giant of faith and spirituality, whose shadow still hovers mightily over Montreal and Canada. He shows us what can be achieved through faith and love. In the humble porter’s own words, “It is with the smallest brushes that the artists paint the most beautiful pictures.” Christ is the door to the Father, who knocks at the doors of our hearts, our homes and our Church. The Church, and especially St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, is the door to salvation, the portal of the Kingdom of God. Brother André was the porter of that blessed place. The Lord worked through his doubts, infirmities, strengths, perseverance and human ingenuity to build a Church and build up the Church. Each day we enter and leave by so many doors without ever noticing. We all remember the stories of the days of our grandparents when "no one locked their doors." We now live in an age of deadbolts and alarm systems. Gone are the days we once knew when the doors of our homes would open regularly and easily to relatives, friends and neighbors. The doors of our homes and Churches don't seem to swing open quite so easily or as often as they used to. We must find ways to open the doors of our homes, our hearts and our Churches to all who need us. In his day, Brother André was Montreal’s Porter and he is now one of Heaven’s special gatekeepers. He teaches us the importance of greeting each person as the Lord, himself. Some will come to our doors rejoicing, and others in fear; some will come healed and others to seek that healing. St. André teaches us to be sensitive and welcoming to all who knock on our doors. May he continue to inspire us to open doors and build bridges to the people whom the Lord sends us each day, especially those who are sick, broken, poor and lonely. May St. André of Montreal make us instruments of healing, friendship, joy and peace in our day. St. André of Montreal, Pray for us! Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB CEO Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation
“What John Paul II asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do” – Full text of beatification homily
May 1, 2011 by 3 Comments
The following is the full text of the homily of Pope Benedict XVI, preached today at the Mass of Beatification of John Paul II in St. Peter's Square.
Homily of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI Beatification of Pope John Paul II Sunday, 1 May 2011Dear Brothers and Sisters, Six years ago we gathered in this Square to celebrate the funeral of Pope John Paul II. Our grief at his loss was deep, but even greater was our sense of an immense grace which embraced Rome and the whole world: a grace which was in some way the fruit of my beloved predecessor’s entire life, and especially of his witness in suffering. Even then we perceived the fragrance of his sanctity, and in any number of ways God’s People showed their veneration for him. For this reason, with all due respect for the Church’s canonical norms, I wanted his cause of beatification to move forward with reasonable haste. And now the longed-for day has come; it came quickly because this is what was pleasing to the Lord: John Paul II is blessed! I would like to offer a cordial greeting to all of you who on this happy occasion have come in such great numbers to Rome from all over the world – cardinals, bishops and priests, official delegations, ambassadors and civil authorities, consecrated men and women and lay faithful, and I extend that greeting to all those who join us by radio and television. Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of Saint Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer, they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space; but in heaven a very different celebration is taking place among the angels and saints! Even so, God is but one, and one too is Christ the Lord, who like a bridge joins earth to heaven. At this moment we feel closer than ever, sharing as it were in the liturgy of heaven. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn 20:29). In today’s Gospel Jesus proclaims this beatitude: the beatitude of faith. For us, it is particularly striking because we are gathered to celebrate a beatification, but even more so because today the one proclaimed blessed is a Pope, a Successor of Peter, one who was called to confirm his brethren in the faith. John Paul II is blessed because of his faith, a strong, generous and apostolic faith. We think at once of another beatitude: “Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven” (Mt 16:17). What did our heavenly Father reveal to Simon? That Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of this faith, Simon becomes Peter, the rock on which Jesus can build his Church. The eternal beatitude of John Paul II, which today the Church rejoices to proclaim, is wholly contained in these sayings of Jesus: “Blessed are you, Simon” and “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe!” It is the beatitude of faith, which John Paul II also received as a gift from God the Father for the building up of Christ’s Church. Our thoughts turn to yet another beatitude, one which appears in the Gospel before all others. It is the beatitude of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of the Redeemer. Mary, who had just conceived Jesus, was told by Saint Elizabeth: “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Lk 1:45). The beatitude of faith has its model in Mary, and all of us rejoice that the beatification of John Paul II takes place on this first day of the month of Mary, beneath the maternal gaze of the one who by her faith sustained the faith of the Apostles and constantly sustains the faith of their successors, especially those called to occupy the Chair of Peter. Mary does not appear in the accounts of Christ’s resurrection, yet hers is, as it were, a continual, hidden presence: she is the Mother to whom Jesus entrusted each of his disciples and the entire community. In particular we can see how Saint John and Saint Luke record the powerful, maternal presence of Mary in the passages preceding those read in today’s Gospel and first reading. In the account of Jesus’ death, Mary appears at the foot of the cross (Jn 19:25), and at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles she is seen in the midst of the disciples gathered in prayer in the Upper Room (Acts 1:14). Today’s second reading also speaks to us of faith. Saint Peter himself, filled with spiritual enthusiasm, points out to the newly-baptized the reason for their hope and their joy. I like to think how in this passage, at the beginning of his First Letter, Peter does not use language of exhortation; instead, he states a fact. He writes: “you rejoice”, and he adds: “you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6, 8-9). All these verbs are in the indicative, because a new reality has come about in Christ’s resurrection, a reality to which faith opens the door. “This is the Lord’s doing”, says the Psalm (118:23), and “it is marvelous in our eyes”, the eyes of faith. Dear brothers and sisters, today our eyes behold, in the full spiritual light of the risen Christ, the beloved and revered figure of John Paul II. Today his name is added to the host of those whom he proclaimed saints and blesseds during the almost twenty-seven years of his pontificate, thereby forcefully emphasizing the universal vocation to the heights of the Christian life, to holiness, taught by the conciliar Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium. All of us, as members of the people of God – bishops, priests, deacons, laity, men and women religious – are making our pilgrim way to the heavenly homeland where the Virgin Mary has preceded us, associated as she was in a unique and perfect way to the mystery of Christ and the Church. Karol Wojtyla took part in the Second Vatican Council, first as an auxiliary Bishop and then as Archbishop of Kraków. He was fully aware that the Council’s decision to devote the last chapter of its Constitution on the Church to Mary meant that the Mother of the Redeemer is held up as an image and model of holiness for every Christian and for the entire Church. This was the theological vision which Blessed John Paul II discovered as a young man and subsequently maintained and deepened throughout his life. A vision which is expressed in the scriptural image of the crucified Christ with Mary, his Mother, at his side. This icon from the Gospel of John (19:25-27) was taken up in the episcopal and later the papal coat-of-arms of Karol Wojtyla: a golden cross with the letter “M” on the lower right and the motto “Totus tuus”, drawn from the well-known words of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort in which Karol Wojty?a found a guiding light for his life: “Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt. Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria – I belong entirely to you, and all that I have is yours. I take you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart” (Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, 266). In his Testament, the new Blessed wrote: “When, on 16 October 1978, the Conclave of Cardinals chose John Paul II, the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, said to me: ‘The task of the new Pope will be to lead the Church into the Third Millennium’”. And the Pope added: “I would like once again to express my gratitude to the Holy Spirit for the great gift of the Second Vatican Council, to which, together with the whole Church – and especially with the whole episcopate – I feel indebted. I am convinced that it will long be granted to the new generations to draw from the treasures that this Council of the twentieth century has lavished upon us. As a Bishop who took part in the Council from the first to the last day, I desire to entrust this great patrimony to all who are and will be called in the future to put it into practice. For my part, I thank the Eternal Shepherd, who has enabled me to serve this very great cause in the course of all the years of my Pontificate”. And what is this “cause”? It is the same one that John Paul II presented during his first solemn Mass in Saint Peter’s Square in the unforgettable words: “Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!” What the newly-elected Pope asked of everyone, he was himself the first to do: society, culture, political and economic systems he opened up to Christ, turning back with the strength of a titan – a strength which came to him from God – a tide which appeared irreversible. By his witness of faith, love and apostolic courage, accompanied by great human charisma, this exemplary son of Poland helped believers throughout the world not to be afraid to be called Christian, to belong to the Church, to speak of the Gospel. In a word: he helped us not to fear the truth, because truth is the guarantee of liberty. To put it even more succinctly: he gave us the strength to believe in Christ, because Christ is Redemptor hominis, the Redeemer of man. This was the theme of his first encyclical, and the thread which runs though all the others. When Karol Wojtyla ascended to the throne of Peter, he brought with him a deep understanding of the difference between Marxism and Christianity, based on their respective visions of man. This was his message: man is the way of the Church, and Christ is the way of man. With this message, which is the great legacy of the Second Vatican Council and of its “helmsman”, the Servant of God Pope Paul VI, John Paul II led the People of God across the threshold of the Third Millennium, which thanks to Christ he was able to call “the threshold of hope”. Throughout the long journey of preparation for the great Jubilee he directed Christianity once again to the future, the future of God, which transcends history while nonetheless directly affecting it. He rightly reclaimed for Christianity that impulse of hope which had in some sense faltered before Marxism and the ideology of progress. He restored to Christianity its true face as a religion of hope, to be lived in history in an “Advent” spirit, in a personal and communitarian existence directed to Christ, the fullness of humanity and the fulfillment of all our longings for justice and peace. Finally, on a more personal note, I would like to thank God for the gift of having worked for many years with Blessed Pope John Paul II. I had known him earlier and had esteemed him, but for twenty-three years, beginning in 1982 after he called me to Rome to be Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was at his side and came to revere him all the more. My own service was sustained by his spiritual depth and by the richness of his insights. His example of prayer continually impressed and edified me: he remained deeply united to God even amid the many demands of his ministry. Then too, there was his witness in suffering: the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a “rock”, as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined. In this way he lived out in an extraordinary way the vocation of every priest and bishop to become completely one with Jesus, whom he daily receives and offers in the Eucharist. Blessed are you, beloved Pope John Paul II, because you believed! Continue, we implore you, to sustain from heaven the faith of God’s people. Amen.
April 18, 2011 by Leave a Comment
In 1858, four Sisters of St. Ann traveled from Montreal to Canada’s West Coast aboard the SS Seabird with Victoria’s first Bishop, Modeste Demers (a relative of their current Bishop!). They made the two-month voyage via a circuitous route through the Isthmus of Panama. Their goal was to aid the Bishop in his mission to the local Aboriginals, and so they began in earnest their work of providing them education and health care. In 1871 a large brick building, St. Ann’s Academy, was erected and in 1876 Saint Joseph’s Hospital was finished. In 1941, Mount Saint Mary’s extended care facility was constructed as an extension to Saint Joseph’s Hospital. It was there in 2005, while studying at the University of Victoria, that I first met the Sisters of St. Ann. Today, April 18th, is the feast of Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin. She was born Esther Blondin in Terrebonne, Quebec on April 18th, 1809. Raised in a devout farming family, she learned piety from her mother and unwavering patience in the midst of suffering from her father. Nineteenth century colonial America was simply about survival and so education usually fell by the wayside. For Esther it was no different, for at 22 she couldn’t read or write. After briefly working as a domestic in the Convent of the Sisters of Notre Dame, she entered as a novice, however ill health forced her to leave. At the age of 24 Esther became a teacher in the hopes of helping other children acquire the education they deserve. The only problem was that, at the time, the Church required separate schools for boys and girls and, unfortunately, many parish communities could not afford two schools. So in many cases no schools were built. At 48, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Esther brought before her Bishop a plan to found a religious community dedicated to the education of poor children, solving the issue of running two schools by simply having boys and girls together in one school. Her Bishop agreed, and on September 8th, 1850, the Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Ann was formed. Esther, now Mother Marie-Anne, became the first superior of her fledgling community. God blessed the community with vocations and soon it became apparent that they would need to expand into another motherhouse. It was at this time that the new chaplain of the community, Fr. Marechal, began taking over control of the sisters’ affairs. Difficulties between Fr. Marechal and Blessed Marie-Anne led the Bishop to ask for her resignation and her promise not to accept the nomination if re-elected as Superior. From this point on, and until her death in 1890, Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin lived a life of persecution, forced to perform the most menial tasks in her community and kept out of all administration. Her sisters were not even able to acknowledge her as their spiritual mother despite several attempts to re-elect her as their Superior! The paradox of Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin’s life is that despite the best efforts of her chaplain and Bishop, she became more useful to the growth of her community. By consciously suffering injustices in reparation for her sins and the sins of her community, she ensured the blessings of God. Her example becomes all the more poignant during Holy Week, for Jesus himself suffered the most injustices and insults. Yet God in his eternal wisdom gives some of us the blessing of suffering for his sake. For St. Paul says in 1 Col 1:24, "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church.” During this Holy Week, we would do well to contemplate more deeply Blessed Marie-Anne Blondin’s life and her witness of humble service.
Charter for Christian Living and Recipe for Extreme Holiness — A Biblical Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
January 26, 2011 by 1 Comment
As the Church continues her pilgrim journey throughout history, we need a vision to sustain us and give us hope in the midst of our shadows, ambiguities and sins, our joys and hopes and victories. That biblical vision is found in the great Christian charter in today's Gospel passage. Today’s Gospel often called “the Sermon on the Mount” [Mt 5:1-12a] is the first of the five discourses [5:1-7:29] that are a central part of the structure of Matthew’s Gospel. The Lucan parallel is the "Sermon on the Plain" [Luke 6:20-49], although some of the sayings in Matthew's "Sermon on the Mount" have their parallels in other parts of Luke. The careful topical arrangement of the sermon is probably not due only to Matthew's editing; he seems to have had a structured discourse of Jesus as one of his sources. The form of that source may have been as follows: four beatitudes [Matthew 5:3-4, 6, 11-12], a section on the new righteousness with illustrations [5:17, 20-24, 27-28, 33-48], a section on good works, [6:1-6, 16-18], and three warnings [7:1-2, 15-21, 24-27]. Unlike Luke's sermon, Matthew’s text is addressed not only to the disciples but to the crowds. The formulation “Blessed are (is)” used in today’s Gospel passage occurs frequently in the Old Testament in the Wisdom literature and in the psalms. Although modified by Matthew, the first, second, fourth, and ninth beatitudes have Lucan parallels (Matthew 5:3; Luke 6:20; Matthew 5:4; Luke 6:21, 22; Matthew 5:6; Luke 6:21a; Matthew 5:11-12; Luke 5:22-23). The others were added by the evangelist and are probably his own composition. The meaning of the beatitudes The beatitudes are the great charter for Christian living. They reveal God's ultimate justice and outline Jesus' prophetic outreach to those who live on the fringes of society. So many people– the sick, the lame, the poor and the hungry converge on Jesus on that Galilean hillside. In this awesome biblical scene overlooking the Sea, Jesus puts biblical justice into practice by proclaiming the beatitudes. Authentic justice is a bonding of one's self with the sick, the disabled, the poor and the hungry. The crowds that listened to Jesus were awestruck because he spoke with authority, with the force of someone who knew the truth and offered it freely to others. He was a teacher like no other. While today’s Gospel is undoubtedly one of the favorite texts for all types of liturgical celebrations, how many people really grasp the radicality of what is being stated or realize that the beatitudes are not simply a lovely introduction to the sermon on the mount but actually the foundation of Jesus’ entire teaching? We are often at a loss to understand and explain the meaning of the beatitudes beyond the fact that they are words of solidarity, compassion and blessing. The Aramaic language of Jesus may help us to understand Jesus' teachings in a deeper way. “Blessed” is the translation of the word “makarioi” used in the Greek New Testament. If we look further back to Jesus' Aramaic language and vocabulary, we discover that the original word was “ashray,” from the verb “yashar.” “Ashray” does not have this passive quality. Instead, it means "to set yourself on the right way for the right goal; to turn around, repent; to become straight or righteous." When we understand Jesus' words in the Aramaic, we may translate the beatitudes like this: "Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are hungry and thirsty for justice; you who desire peace." This reflects Jesus' words and teachings more accurately. We hear him saying to us: Get up, stop complaining, do something about the homeless, about the poor, about the discouraged and disillusioned people around you. "Get up, go ahead, do something, move," Jesus says to his disciples and to us. In this way the beatitudes reveal God's ultimate justice and solidarity with the human condition. We must hold up the beatitudes as a mirror in which we examine our own lives and consciences. "Am I poor in spirit? Am I humble and merciful? Am I pure of heart? Do I bring peace? Am I 'blessed,' in other words, happy? Jesus not only gives us what he has, but also what he is. He is holy and makes us holy. Blueprint for Holiness The beatitudes are also a recipe for extreme holiness. Holiness is a way of life that involves commitment and activity. It is not a passive endeavor but rather a continuous choice to deepen one's relationship with God and to then allow this relationship to guide all of one's actions in the world. Men and women of the beatitudes The beatitudes were lived out in the life of John Paul II. He 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 the Pope’s 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. In the nearly 27 years of his pontificate, he gave the Church 1338 Blesseds and 482 Saints. On April 2, 2005, he died a public, global death that stopped the world for several days. On April 8, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told the world that the Holy Father was watching and blessing us ‘from the window of the Father’s House.” On Sunday May 1, 2011 only six years after his return to the Father’s house, the Church will formally confirm what many of us have known for so long: not simply “Santo Subito” (“Make him a saint quickly) but “Santo Sempre” (Saint always). May we learn from "Papa Wojtyla" how to cross thresholds, open doors, build bridges and proclaim the Gospel to the people of our time. May we become men and women of the beatitudes and beg for 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 -- Pope John Paul II. Verbum Domini Today as we continue our reflection on Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini that followed the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church, we read paragraphs #72 and #73.
Encountering the word of God in sacred Scripture If it is true that the liturgy is the privileged place for the proclamation, hearing and celebration of the word of God, it is likewise the case that this encounter must be prepared in the hearts of the faithful and then deepened and assimilated, above all by them. The Christian life is essentially marked by an encounter with Jesus Christ, who calls us to follow him. For this reason, the Synod of Bishops frequently spoke of the importance of pastoral care in the Christian communities as the proper setting where a personal and communal journey based on the word of God can occur and truly serve as the basis for our spiritual life. With the Synod Fathers I express my heartfelt hope for the flowering of "a new season of greater love for sacred Scripture on the part of every member of the People of God, so that their prayerful and faith-filled reading of the Bible will, with time, deepen their personal relationship with Jesus". Throughout the history of the Church, numerous saints have spoken of the need for knowledge of Scripture in order to grow in love for Christ. This is evident particularly in the Fathers of the Church. Saint Jerome, in his great love for the word of God, often wondered: "How could one live without the knowledge of Scripture, by which we come to know Christ himself, who is the life of believers?". He knew well that the Bible is the means "by which God speaks daily to believers". His advice to the Roman matron Leta about raising her daughter was this: "Be sure that she studies a passage of Scripture each day... Prayer should follow reading, and reading follow prayer... so that in the place of jewelery and silk, she may love the divine books". Jerome's counsel to the priest Nepotian can also be applied to us: "Read the divine Scriptures frequently; indeed, the sacred book should never be out of your hands. Learn there what you must teach". Let us follow the example of this great saint who devoted his life to the study of the Bible and who gave the Church its Latin translation, the Vulgate, as well as the example of all those saints who made an encounter with Christ the centre of their spiritual lives. Let us renew our efforts to understand deeply the word which God has given to his Church: thus we can aim for that "high standard of ordinary Christian living" proposed by Pope John Paul II at the beginning of the third Christian millennium, which finds constant nourishment in attentively hearing the word of God.
Letting the Bible inspire pastoral activity Along these lines the Synod called for a particular pastoral commitment to emphasizing the centrality of the word of God in the Church's life, and recommended a greater "biblical apostolate", not alongside other forms of pastoral work, but as a means of letting the Bible inspire all pastoral work". This does not mean adding a meeting here or there in parishes or dioceses, but rather of examining the ordinary activities of Christian communities, in parishes, associations and movements, to see if they are truly concerned with fostering a personal encounter with Christ, who gives himself to us in his word. Since "ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ", making the Bible the inspiration of every ordinary and extraordinary pastoral outreach will lead to a greater awareness of the person of Christ, who reveals the Father and is the fullness of divine revelation. For this reason I encourage pastors and the faithful to recognize the importance of this emphasis on the Bible: it will also be the best way to deal with certain pastoral problems which were discussed at the Synod and have to do, for example, with the proliferation of sects which spread a distorted and manipulative reading of sacred Scripture. Where the faithful are not helped to know the Bible in accordance with the Church's faith and based on her living Tradition, this pastoral vacuum becomes fertile ground for realities like the sects to take root. Provision must also be made for the suitable preparation of priests and lay persons who can instruct the People of God in the genuine approach to Scripture. Furthermore, as was brought out during the Synod sessions, it is good that pastoral activity also favor the growth of small communities, "formed by families or based in parishes or linked to the different ecclesial movements and new communities", which can help to promote formation, prayer and knowledge of the Bible in accordance with the Church's faith.Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB CEO Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation The readings for this Sunday are Zephaniah 2.3, 3.12-13; 1 Corinthians 1.26-31; Matthew 5.1-12. Click here for the Salt + Light Television tribute to Pope John Paul II: "Thank you, John Paul II" or the shorter version on YouTube. - Images: Sermon on the Mount, Cosimo Rosselli, 1481-82, Vatican's Sistine Chapel; and undated photo of JPII, CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo.
Message on the Beatification of the Venerable Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, by Fr. Thomas Rosica
January 14, 2011 by 3 Comments
Dear Friends of Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network, I am presently attending the World Youth Day 2011 International Preparatory Meeting of the Episcopal Conferences of the World, leaders of International Youth Movements, and the Spanish National Team for World Youth Day 2011, taking place in the Royal Monastery of El Escorial in the mountains outside of Madrid in Spain. The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops asked me to represent them at this international gathering of Cardinals, Bishops, priests, religious and several hundred youth leaders from every corner of the globe. Today, shortly after noon, the meetings were interrupted and Cardinal Stanislas Rylko, President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity at the Vatican, announced to the large assembly that Pope Benedict XVI had approved the miracle attributed to the Venerable Servant of God, Pope John Paul II, thus clearing the way for his Beatification. Cardinal Rylko then announced that Pope Benedict, himself, will formally proclaim Pope John Paul II “Blessed” on Sunday, May 1, 2011 during a ceremony in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican. This year, May 1 happens to be the Second Sunday of Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday. Nor is it a coincidence that May 1, known as the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker in the Catholic Church, is also known as “May Day” on secular calendars. Communists and Socialists around the world commemorate May Day with marches, speeches, and festivals. How fitting that in addition to being Divine Mercy Sunday this year, the man who was a unique instrument and messenger in bringing down the Iron Curtain and the deadly reign of Communism and godlessness, will be declared “Blessed” on May 1. The news of Pope John Paul II’s imminent beatification was fitting in this assembly of youth leaders and shepherds who oversee pastoral ministry to young people throughout the world. Following Cardinal Rylko’s announcement, Bishop César Franco, head of World Youth Day in Madrid announced that one of the principal patrons of World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid would be Blessed John Paul II. A thunderous, sustained, standing ovation followed the announcement. Many sitting near me in the large meeting room in Spain’s “El Escorial” Monastery were weeping openly upon hearing this news. Earlier in the day during the morning sessions, Spanish Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla, Bishop of San Sebastian and head of Pastoral Ministry to young people in Spain, gave a very powerful talk on the Saints of Spain, particularly the patrons of the Spanish dioceses that will be welcoming young people from throughout the world to the “Days in the Dioceses” component of World Youth Day 2011. Bishop Munilla concluded his moving presentation by stating that ‘holiness is contagious,’ and that once it touches us, we are all caught up in its reality. Both Bishop Munilla and Cardinal Rylko recalled that Spain is the only country to have been granted two World Youth Days: Santiago de Compostella in 1989 and the event planned for Madrid this coming summer. Along with the gift of World Youth Days comes the responsibility to transmit its contents, fruits and spirit to the entire country. It was in Compostella that Pope John Paul II first “coined” the expression: “Be saints of the new millennium.” Salt + Light Television is a living tribute to Pope John Paul II. It is one of the most visible fruits of any World Youth Day. John Paul II was our inspiration at the beginning of this bold initiative in 2003 and blessed its humble beginnings. The Holy Father, himself, cajoled and encouraged me to accept the task of starting our television network in November 2002, after World Youth Day in Canada. He knew about us and watched our first documentaries, particularly “Love is a Choice”, the story of St. Gianna Beretta Molla, the last saint that he canonized in 2004. He praised the efforts of the Gagliano family in launching this project for Canada and for the world. I have prayed to him continuously for the past six years, asking Pope John Paul II to watch over us, guide our efforts and send us donors and benefactors to make this project possible. I have every confidence that he will continue to bless us… abundantly. Today’s announcement by the Vatican regarding Pope John Paul II is the formal confirmation of what many of us always knew as we experienced the Holy Father in action throughout his Pontificate, particularly among his “dear young friends.” One of the singular gifts of his Pontificate to the Church and to the world was the establishment of World Youth Days 26 years ago. They are privileged instruments of the New Evangelization. They serve to give flesh and blood to the words of Pope Benedict XVI during the Mass to mark the beginning of his Petrine Minsitry in April, 2005: “The Church is alive. The Church is young.” That a person is declared “Blessed” is not a statement about perfection. It does not mean that the person was without imperfection, blindness, deafness or sin. Rather, it 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 Wojytyla, 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.” On April 2, 2005, he died a public, global death that stopped the world for several days. On April 8, 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger told the world that the Holy Father was watching and blessing us "from the window of the Father’s House." On May 1, 2011, only six years after his return to the Father’s house, the Church will formally confirm what we knew for so long: not simply “Santo Subito” (“Make him a saint quickly) but “Santo Sempre” (Saint always.) Venerable Servant of God, John Paul II, Pray for us.
PRAYER FOR ASKING GRACES THROUGH THE INTERCESSION OF THE VENERABLE SERVANT OF GOD POPE JOHN PAUL II O Blessed Trinity We thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd, and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB CEO Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation - Top: CNS photo/Joe Rimkus Jr.
September 24, 2010 by 16 Comments
In her short time on earth Chiara Badano lived a life of great love and holiness. Chiara’s story cannot help but touch all who hear it. Salt + Light is bringing you the next chapter in Chiara’s story. Tomorrow, Saturday September 25th, Chiara Luce Badano will be named Blessed. Her beatification marks the first for the Focolare Catholic Lay Movement to which she belonged. Chiara is a shining reminder that Saints do exist in modern day. Her story begins with her birth in the town of Sassello, Italy. Her parents had tried to conceive for 11 years before they were blessed with their new baby girl. She is described by those who knew her as an abundantly kind and giving person with a deep devotion to Jesus. She joined the Focolare Movement in her teens. The founder of the movement, Chiara Lubich, gave her the nickname Chiara ‘Luce’ meaning light. She was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 17. She accepted her illness with grace saying that if this is what Jesus wanted, then she wanted it too. She died in 1990 at the age of 19. Her cause for sainthood began in 1999. Now just 20 years after her death, Chiara Luce Badano will be declared Blessed. Salt + Light is proud to bring you the events of the day live from Rome, starting with Chiara Luce Badano’s Beatification Mass at Castel Leva, Rome at 10 am ET/7 am PT. Later on in the day we’re airing live from Rome at 3pm ET/12:00pm PT a two hour program celebrating her beatification. Be a part of this next chapter in Chiara’s Legacy. Share in this special occasion for the Focolare movement and young Catholics everywhere. - Photo: CNS