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Feast of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple at Jerusalem


According to the tradition in the Eastern Church, when Mary was three years of age, Joachim and Anne took her to the Temple so that she might be consecrated to the service of the Lord. The legend says that they invited the young girls of the town to walk before her with lighted torches. As soon as they had reached the Temple, Mary, alone and unhesitatingly, went up the steps of the sanctuary where she was to remain, living in the contemplation of God and miraculously fed by the Archangel Gabriel, until the day she was espoused to Joseph, shortly before the Annunciation.

The theme of the feast is that Mary the Immaculate One, the Temple of the Living God, is offered to the Almighty in his holy house in Jerusalem. This day witnesses the bond between the Word and the Virgin predestined in eternity: this day is the fountainhead of all her privileges.

A more historical view is that the feast originates in Jerusalem in 543. In the Latin rite, it took many years for the feast to be widely accepted; it entered the Western calendar in 1585. Today, the feast celebrates the recognition of Mary as a temple in whom God dwells. In a very special way, the Blessed Virgin is herself a holy temple when she conceived the very Son of God in her immaculate womb, she became a true temple of the true God; when she cherished the word of God in her heart (see Luke 2:19, 51), loved Christ so ardently, and faithfully kept his word, the Son and the Father came to her and made their home with her, in accordance with the promise of the Lord (see John 14:23).

Basilian logoNovember 21 is the date upon which we celebrate Pro Orantibus Day marking the liturgical feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Temple. The day is dedicated to those who belong to contemplative religious orders. It’s a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work. Many contemplative communities throughout the world pray for Salt and Light Television.  For our part, we remember with gratitude these religious women of who as St Thérèse of Lisieux wrote choose to abide in the ‘heart’ of the Church.

Marian devotion has always been important for my own religious family, the Congregation of Priests of St. Basil (Basilian Fathers). Their support of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation and Television Network has been constant over the past 12 years. In his History of the Basilian Fathers, Fr. Charles Roume, CSB, recalls that it was on November 21, 1822, Feast of the Presentation of Mary, that all the French confrères finally agreed to come together for their first ‘Chapter’.  They elected Fr. Joseph LaPierre as the first Superior General of the Basilian Community. For this reason, Basilians chose November 21 as our foundation day.

Here is a link to the documentary on our foundation in France after the French Revolution: http://saltandlighttv.org/whenithinkofannonay/

In remembering the Blessed Virgin Mary’s presentation in the Temple at Jerusalem on this day, we honour one whose hidden life brings light and warmth to the Church in every place. May her example give all consecrated religious, and those with whom we live and work, the courage to seek wisdom, the strength to radiate light and warmth to the Church, and the ability to become dwelling places of God’s consoling and compassionate presence on earth.


Let us pray:

Almighty and ever living God, today we honour the memory of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose hidden life brings light and warmth to the Church in every place. Her presentation in the temple at Jerusalem reveals her as a temple where God truly lives among us. May Mary’s example give us the strength to radiate that light and warmth to the Church, and help us to be dwelling places of God’s joyful presence on earth. We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB
CEO Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

Explaining Catholic Teaching on Mary


Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., explains the Immaculate Conception and other Catholic teachings on Mary, the mother of God, and reflects on what an authentic revival of Marian piety and devotion might look like. This video is part of a new series of reflections on Scripture from America and the American Bible Society.

The Meaning of Holiness


Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B. explores the biblical meaning of Holiness. Holiness is a fire that burns within us and it has its ultimate source in God. Holiness is our most accurate image of who we are called to be. This video is part of a new series of reflections on Scripture from America and the American Bible Society.

The Binding of Isaac


In honor of the Jewish high holy days, Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., reflects on the story of Isaac and Abraham. This video is part of a new series of reflections on Scripture from America and the American Bible Society.


“My God, I know this place. I am home.” – A Reflections for All Souls Day


all-souls-cemetary.jpgWhy do Catholic Christians commemorate the dead during the month of November? Abbot Odilo of the great French Abbey of Cluny introduced the festival of All Souls in 998 for members of his own religious order. Later, in the 14th Century, All Souls was adopted by Rome for the entire church. It is dedicated to the memory of all the faithful departed. All Saints Day and All Souls Day set the tone for the month of November. All Souls are our family and relatives, our neighbors and friends, our ancestors, that “cloud of witnesses” who accepted the godly realism of their lives, shared it with others already on earth, and continue to do so now before the throne of the Lamb in heaven.

For this reason, they are truly blessed, and give us a reason to hope, to believe, to struggle and to live.The feast of All Souls and the month of November is a source of consolation for each of us. The consoling doctrine of the Communion of Saints allows us to feel ever close to those who have died and gives us much hope in moments of despair and sadness. The holy souls in purgatory see ever more clearly what we intuit from afar. They are already within reach of eternal life, the loving arms of Jesus; but they are not yet closely within his embrace. The sting of death has been removed, but they are still sensing the pain of love which only complete union with Jesus can heal. The healing process is accomplished by the same love which makes the separation momentarily very painful. Our prayers for the faithful departed increase faith and love within us; they draw us to look upon the Son with ever greater longing.

In a very moving, personal reflection on his imminent death in 1996, the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago wrote the book “The Gift of Peace” several weeks before going to God. At the end of his personal testament he wrote:

“Many people have asked me to tell them about heaven and the afterlife. I sometimes smile at the request because I do not know any more than they do. Yet, when one young man asked if I looked forward to being united with God and all those who have gone before me, I made a connection to something I said earlier in this book.

The first time I traveled with my mother and sister to my parents’ homeland of Tonadico di Primiero, in northern Italy, I felt as if I had been there before. After years of looking through my mother’s photo albums, I knew the mountains, the land, the houses, the people. As soon as we entered the valley, I said, “My God, I know this place. I am home.” Somehow I think crossing from this life into eternal life will be similar. I will be home.”

Let us spend our earthly pilgrimage filling our minds with the thoughts of heaven, so that when we finally cross over into eternal life, the images we see may not be foreign, startling or strange. Let us pray that we, too, may be able to say: “My God, I know this place. I am home.”

Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B.,
C.E.O., Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation

Christians in Solidarity with Jews for Jewish High Holy Days

The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the Israelites thus: In the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall observe complete rest, a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts of horns. On the tenth day of the seventh month is the Day of Atonement, on which expiation is made on your behalf before the Lord your God. It shall be sabbath of complete rest for you, and you shall practise self denial, from evening to evening you shall observe this sabbath.” (Leviticus 23)

The above biblical citations refer to what have become the Jewish High Holy days, in the seventh month, known as Tishrei. The first day has been expanded over time into a two day holiday which Jews call Rosh HaShanah, the New Year. Being in the seventh month it is obviously not the Jewish New Year, for that is in the first month, Nisan, which contains the Passover freedom festival. In the seventh month Jews celebrate the world’s NewJews Praying in Syn Year, the anniversary of Creation. Often repeated throughout these days is the declaration: “Today is the birthday of the world. Today God will bring to judgement all the world’s creatures.”

Rosh Hashanah 2015 begins in the evening of Sunday, September 13 and ends in the evening of Tuesday, September 15. It begins in a festive mood. “Blessed are you, Lord, Sovereign of the universe, who has sustained and supported us and enabled us to reach this moment.” We are grateful for the gift of life during the past year. However, the mood is both happy and serious at the same time. It is the beginning of a ten day period of judgment and therefore of penitential reflection. One is encouraged to examine one’s life during the past year, express regret for sins and errors, confess before God and resolve to improve conduct during the New Year ahead. We can then ask and expect God’s forgiveness. However, if our sin was against another person, we must first secure their forgiveness before expecting that of God.

Yom Kippur 2015 begins in the evening of Tuesday, September 22 and ends in the evening of Wednesday, September 23. On Yom Kippur, the penitential mood is dominant. The prayers move around a wide range of religious emotions: awe and reverence before God’s majesty; tenderness and love as gifts of God’s love; tears of regret and noble resolve. The congregation, many dressed in white throughout the day, alternately bow and sway, cry and laugh as they move through the liturgy. The final hours are filled with intense spiritual passions and ultimate exaltation. We believe that God has indeed listened to our prayers and will forgive us. Now the New Year can begin in joy.

The prayers throughout this period are heavily dependent upon Psalms as well as other Rabbinic and medieval poetic writings. These reflect a wide range of spiritual moods and theological attitudes and may vary from community to community.

Pope Francis and the Jewish Community


On the eve of Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) last year, Pope Francis met at Domus Sanctae Marthae with Jewish leaders to mark Rosh Hashana. Among those attending the event where World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, Latin American Jewish Congress President Jack Terpins, WJC Treasurer Chella Safra and a number of Jewish community heads and senior WJC officials.

We want to share with the pope our message of peace and prosperity for the New Year,” said Claudio Epelman, executive director of the LAJC and the WJC official in charge of relations with the Vatican.

As Christians, we remember over two thousand years that comprise the story of the Christian community, from it’s beginnings within the Jewish community in Jerusalem, through the dramatic evolution that occurred as the Church took root in gentile communities of other cultures, to its present situation as the largest faith community in the world. The early Church and Rabbinic Judaism both took shape at about the same time, both rooted in Biblical Judiasm. But very soon in the history of these sibling communities, negative stereotypes of Jews and Judaism dominitated the Church’s relations with the Jewish community. That led to the meaning of Jewish community. That led to the meaning of Jewish faith and the persecution of Jews, culminating in role that role that the Church’s theology played in setting the scene for the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis during World War II.

Hymn by Judah HaLevi

Judah HaLevi was one of the great poetic litugists in Jewish history. Here he captures the essence of the Yom Kippur experience, as expressing our yearning for God’s mercy, grace and help in coming closer to God and being the beneficary of God’s blessings.

Lord, today I beseech you, Hear my prayer, Lord!
Lord, reveal Your strong right hand, Show us Your power out of love, Lord!
Lord, my heart so moved, moans within me, The strength of this emotion leaves me faint, Lord!
Lord, when You think of me,Let is be for good that I am remembered, Lord!
Lord, I hope for Your salvation Your grace will comfort me, Lord!
Lord, You are my Creator, my Rock, What, but You, can help me, Lord?
Lord, Turn Your tender mercy towards me, Do not regard my sin, Lord!
Lord, You are all that I desire, My thoughts focus on Your unity, Lord!
Lord, my heart grows weak in this out pouring of emotion, My soul is in misery, Lord!
Lord, in your faithful love, hear me, Hear the urgency of my prayer, Lord!
Lord, all my thoughts are in Your hands, You know my inmost depths, Lord!
Lord, look at me with open eyes, Heal my pain, my agony, Lord!
Lord, before the gathered crowd, I praise You, Sustain me in a prayerful stance, Lord.
Lord, You know how I yearn for Your salvation, Grant my soul rest, Lord!
Lord, incline Your ear to hear my cry, You always show mercy, Lord!
Lord, my God, I hope in You, I pray that my salvation is near, Lord!
Lord, confirm me now as Your servant forever, Does it matter if my sin appears, Lord?
Lord, how long must I remain a prisoner, How long must I be entombed in sin that sears my spirit, Lord?
Lord, I sing in praise of Your unity, Still, tears of grief well up in my heart, Lord!
Lord, in my weakness, I exult You, Redeem me from my fears, Lord!
Lord, I trust in You for good things to come, Your magnificent reign is all encompassing, Lord!
Lord, be patient with me, I worship You, I seek your grace, Lord!
Lord, be attentive to my plea Respond soon to my call, Lord!
Lord, with tenderness bring me your healing, Revive my heavy heart, Lord!
Lord, my soul grows weak from my distress, Day and night I cry to you, Lord!
Lord, out of the depths raise me, reverse my captivity, Lord!


As our Jewish brothers and sisters prepare to observe a day of repentance and reconciliation this year, and come before God with fasting and prayer, we join with them in expressing our fundamental solidarity of faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  With them we recall our common trust in God’s grace and mercy, which we have inherited from the Jewish experience of God.  With them we honor the richness of Jewish prayer that is at the core of Christian prayer.  With them we confess our sins, both personal and corporate.  With them we name with sadness and shame the sins of the Christian churches towards the Jewish people, especially our contempt for their spiritual traditions. In solidarity with them we seek forgiveness and reconciliation and pray for peace among all people, cultures and religions.

Mount Tabor, Blessed Paul VI and the Feast of the Transfiguration

During my years in the Holy Land, my frequent visits to Mount Tabor always left me with a great sense of awe, wonder, mystery, fear, and reverence before Jesus. Each time I visited Mt. Tabor and the beautiful church depicting the three tents for Jesus, Moses and Elijah, I was also very aware of the memory of Blessed Pope Paul VI who climbed Tabor as a pilgrim in 1964, and had a very special place for the mystery of the Transfiguration in his own prayer and pontificate.

The theological meaning of the Transfiguration is central to our understanding of the mission of Jesus of Nazareth. In the past, every icon painter began his or her career by reproducing the scene of the Transfiguration. It has been said that the destiny of every Christian is written between two mountains: from Calvary to the mountain of the Transfiguration. The Transfiguration is a celebration of the presence of Christ which takes charge of everything in us and transfigures even that which disturbs us about ourselves. God penetrates those hardened, incredulous, even disquieting regions within us, about which we really do not know what to do. God penetrates them with the life of the Spirit and acts upon those regions and gives them his own face.

August 6th this year marks the thirty-seventh anniversary of the death of Pope Pope Paul VI. He closed his eyes on “this stupendous, dramatic temporal and earthly scene” on the very feast that so marked his life and Petrine ministry in the Church. I was on a Basilian Formation Retreat on Strawberry Island in 1978 when we got word that Paul VI had died at Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome. The era of excitement and newness that so marked Vatican II seemed to be coming to an end. At his funeral, the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Carlo Cardinal Confalonieri described him with these words:

His greatness of soul was seen in his lively intelligence and a heart filled with goodness that opened up to the spiritual needs of his sons and daughters… He became a real prince of peace. He established with pressing solicitude a continuing dialogue with all peoples. He gave his attention with all affection and hope to the weak and defenseless, the poor and those in want of every assistance. He conversed with all in order to strengthen them in faith…

At times we are very critical of the Church, and even dismiss Church leaders and their messages without giving them a fair hearing. History is now teaching us that the patience and wisdom of Pope Paul VI, especially in the aftermath and implementation of the Second Vatican Council, was a great gift to God’s people and to the world. Pope Paul VI did not see dialogue merely as an instrument but as a method. He was so close to people, especially to those who were distant or who opposed him in theory or in practice. He also loved the Holy Land, and desired that the greatest possible number of people should have the experience that was his as a pilgrim to the Land of Jesus in 1964.

Last October 19, 2014, at the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family at the Vatican, Pope Francis proclaimed Pope Paul VI blessed. In his homily at the Mass of Beatification in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis said:

“When we look to this great Pope, this courageous Christian, this tireless apostle, we cannot but say in the sight of God a word as simple as it is heartfelt and important: thanks! Thank you, our dear and beloved Pope Paul VI! Thank you for your humble and prophetic witness of love for Christ and his Church!

In his personal journal, the great helmsman of the Council wrote, at the conclusion of its final session: “Perhaps the Lord has called me and preserved me for this service not because I am particularly fit for it, or so that I can govern and rescue the Church from her present difficulties, but so that I can suffer something for the Church, and in that way it will be clear that he, and no other, is her guide and saviour”. In this humility the grandeur of Blessed Paul VI shines forth: before the advent of a secularized and hostile society, he could hold fast, with farsightedness and wisdom – and at times alone – to the helm of the barque of Peter, while never losing his joy and his trust in the Lord.”

Now this great, holy man and disciple of the Lord lives in the Resurrection of Jesus, in whose glorious Transfiguration sign he closed his eyes some 37 years ago. Blessed Paul VI let us feel on earth the joy and glory that awaits each of us in the New Jerusalem. Christ’s transfiguration was in the past. The God, whose Light breaks into the earth on this feast, is present. Let our prayers today be that the world will see the Light, the Light of healing and reconciliation. Let us strive to be counted among those who listen to Christ’s Word and are transfigured by it.

The following is one of our feature videos by Cheridan Sanders for the World Meeting of Families. Born Giovanni Battista Montini, Paul VI is affectionately known as the pilgrim pope. The Church that we know today is deeply shaped by the Second Vatican Council and is in many ways a reflection of Paul VI’s Pontificate.

Watch S+L TV Special – The Ecology Encyclical: Care for Our Common Home


The highly anticipated teaching document of Pope Francis on ecology has arrived. How does it build on the teachings of Popes John Paul II and Benedict the XVI? What does it say about climate change? What does it say about poverty and those most affected by ecological destruction around the world?

Join host Sebastian Gomes for a panel discussion on the major themes and reactions to Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si. Guests include: Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, English language assistant to the Director of the Holy See Press Office; Mardi Tindal, immediate past moderator of the United Church of Canada; Alicia Ambrosio, producer and journalist for S+L TV.

Watch the full video of the show below.

Point of View Season 2 Schedule Released


Salt and Light’s television series “Point of View: Interpreting the Francis Effect” is back for a second season. Go beyond the film to discover the deeper questions and issues surrounding the pontificate of Pope Francis and what they mean for the Church in the 21st century.

Hear from media personalities, theologians, doctors and some of the most influential figures in the Catholic Church, all of whom share in great depth their point of view on the Francis effect.  POV airs Wednesdays at 9pmET only on S+L.

Point of View: Interpreting The Francis Effect is a S+L series featuring a selection of the full interviews from the documentary The Francis Effect.

Season Two Schedule

April 22: Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington
April 29: Josephine Lombardi, Professor of Theology
May 6: Scott Pelley, Journalist
May 13: Fr. Thomas Rosica, Holy See Press Office
May 20: Charles Clark, Economist
May 27: Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston
June 3: Fr. John O’Malley, Church Historian
June 10: Msgr. John Kozar, Catholic Near East Welfare Association
June 17: Dr. Philip Berger, Medical Doctor and Fr. James Martin, Author
June 24: David Gibson, Journalist


Has it been two years already?!


Today it’s not uncommon to hear some form of the following statement regarding the pontificate of Pope Francis: “I can’t believe he’s only been pope for two years, it feels like he’s been around a lot longer!”

This intuition surfaces around anniversaries when people tend to reflect on what Francis has accomplished. Most would agree that he has accomplished a great deal. For me, the past two years have been filled with excitement and expectation. I never know what the Pope is going to do next. And when you’re sitting on the edge of your seat for two years, it’s bound to feel like you’ve been there a lot longer.

Part of this effect comes from the fact that it was all so unexpected. No one could have predicted the kinds of seismic shifts we’ve witnessed, beginning with Pope Benedict’s unprecedented and deeply humble decision to resign. I remember living through that month of uncertainty in 2013 from February 11 to March 13 and thinking that, whatever happened, everything would be different from then on.

I recently consulted my personal journal from the 2013 papal transition. I haven’t read it since the election. The excitement and expectation I refer to is present in the text, and I share part of it with you now to recall and celebrate the election of Pope Francis as the 266th Bishop of Rome and Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.  May the Lord bless and sustain him.

March 13, 2013

Habemus Papam – Pope Francis! It was about 5:30pm when Fr. Tom and I decided to make our way over to CBC where he would do an interview with Peter Mansbridge for the news that evening. But we stopped in at the convent of Maria Bambina, where the CBS was stationed, to get a coffee and warm up. As we were eating in their cafeteria and staring at the TV (there was a permanent camera on the Sistine Chapel chimney during the conclave)… white smoke… Yes, white smoke! We got up and made our way to the CBC tent on top of the Janiculum hill. The bells of St. Peter’s were ringing wildly. We were the only people moving away from the Square—in fact we almost got run over a couple of times by people sprinting in the opposite direction. The excitement and the cheers of the crowd were incredible. We were with Peter and the CBC crew for the waiting period. We expected the new Pope to appear on the balcony within 45-50 minutes. It was much longer than that. It felt like forever. Fr. Tom and Peter were delaying as best they could. Then it happened. When they said his name, “Bergoglio!” Fr. Tom and I just looked at each other in utter disbelief. It was a complete surprise. We knew that his star rose eight years ago at the 2005 conclave, but everybody thought it had since fallen. After all at 76, wasn’t he too old?

The crowd in the square was stunned and there wasn’t much noise between the announcement and Francis’ appearance on the loggia. I don’t think anyone was expecting it, and most people had no idea who he was. My immediate reaction was, “I can’t believe they elected a Jesuit!” That was the topic of conversation between Fr. Tom and Peter live on CBC. And it is a significant factor.

The rest of the night we ran from tent to tent doing interviews: CBS, CNN, back to CBC, BBC. As the hours passed, we realized how significant this decision of the cardinals was. Imagine, the runner-up in 2005 still appealing to the cardinals after so long. What was it about him then and now that was consistant, appealing? Holiness and simple gospel values?

Even his appearance and speech on the loggia were telling. He chose to keep his bishop’s pectoral cross instead of adopting the traditional golden one. Everything he said about himself being elected pope was within the framework of his primary role as Bishop of Rome. I sensed collegiality growing.

I took Fr. Tom to CNN around midnight and he went on live with Wolf Blitzer. He said some things I didn’t expect, but were faithful to the mood of the people in Rome that night: “Pope Francis didn’t follow the book! Thank Goodness!” And then the best line: “He’s going to build on the beautiful teaching of Benedict, on the outreach of John Paul II, on the smile of John Paul I, and on that magnanimous heart of John XXII!”

On our way back to the Jesuit house, I said to Fr. Tom, “If you had told me on February 11th that we would have a Jesuit pope named Francis, I would have said it was impossible.”