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The Beatitudes: Blueprint for Holiness

Saints cropped copy

Solemnity of All Saints – Sunday, November 1, 2015

The following words of Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, spoken during the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God in 2008, still resound in my mind and heart on this Solemnity of All Saints:

Jesus says: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:29). For more than 2,000 years men and women, old and young, wise and ignorant, in the East as in the West, applied themselves to the school of the Lord Jesus, which caused this sublime commandment to echo in their hearts and minds: “You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (5:48) […]

Their library was largely composed of the life and the words of Jesus: blessed are the poor, blessed are those who mourn, blessed are the gentle, blessed are those who hunger and thirst for uprightness, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure in heart, blessed are the peacemakers, blessed are those who are persecuted. The saints, understanding that the Beatitudes are the essence of the Gospel and the portrait of Christ Himself, became their imitators. 

The Beatitudes: Blueprint for Holiness

The Beatitudes in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-12) are a recipe for extreme holiness. As has been pointed out by many others in the past, though the Mount of the Beatitudes is a few dozen feet above sea level, it is the really the highest peak on earth! On this holy mountain in Galilee, Jesus proclaimed the new law that was expression of Christ’s holiness. They are not an abstract code of behavior. Jesus is the poor in spirit, the meek, the persecuted, the peacemaker. He is the new “code of holiness” that must be imprinted on hearts, and that must be contemplated through the action of the Holy Spirit. His Passion and Death are the crowning of his holiness.

Holiness is a way of life that involves commitment and activity. It is not a passive endeavour but rather a continuous choice to deepen one’s relationship with God and then to allow this relationship to guide all of one’s actions in the world. Holiness requires a radical change in mindset and attitude. The acceptance of the call to holiness places God as our final goal in every aspect of our lives.

Looking at Jesus, we see what it means to be poor in spirit, gentle, and merciful, to mourn, to care for what is right, to be pure in heart, to make peace, to be persecuted. This is why he has the right to say to each of us, “Come, follow me!” The call of Christ is not simply, “Do what I say.” He says, “Come, follow me!” 

Taking stock of our treasury of Saints

The Saints and Blesseds are travel companions along our journey, in our joy and in our suffering. They are men and women who turned a new page in their own lives and in the lives of so many people. This was the core of Saint John Paul II’s message to humanity: holiness is not a gift reserved for a few. We can all aspire to it, because it is a goal within our capacity – a great lesson articulated by the Second Vatican Council and its call to universal holiness (cf. Lumen Gentium).

The Solemnity of All Saints is a wonderful opportunity for the whole Church to take stock once again of the way that Pope John Paul II changed our way of viewing the Saints and Blesseds. In nearly 27 years of his pontificate, he gave the Church 1,338 Blesseds and 482 Saints!

John Paul II reminded us that the heroes and heroines the world offers to young people today are terribly flawed. They leave us so empty. The real “stars” are the Saints and Blesseds who never tried to be regarded as heroes, or to shock or provoke. To believe greatness is attainable, we need successful role models to emulate. There is a desperate need for real heroes and heroines, models and witnesses of faith and virtue that the world of sports, cinema, science, and music simply cannot provide.

Standing at the radical centre

Many think that sainthood is a privilege reserved only for the chosen few. In fact, to become a saint is the task of every Christian, and what’s more, we could even say it’s the task of everyone! How many times have we thought that the Saints are merely “eccentrics” that the Church exalts for us to try to imitate – people who were so unrepresentative of and out of touch with the reality of the human scene? It is certainly true that all of those men and women were “eccentric” in its literal sense: they deviated from the centre, from usual practice, from the ordinary ways of doing things, the established methods. Another way of looking at the saints is that they stood at the “radical centre.”

Be the Saints of the New Millennium

Saint John Paul II spoke powerfully to young people about the call to holiness and their vocation to be saints. In his message for World Youth Day 2000 in Rome, he wrote to his “dear young friends” throughout the world unforgettable words that became the rallying cry for the greatest celebration of the Jubilee Year:

Young people of every continent, do not be afraid to be the saints of the new millennium! Be contemplative, love prayer; be coherent with your faith and generous in the service of your brothers and sisters, be active members of the Church and builders of peace. To succeed in this demanding project of life, continue to listen to His Word, draw strength from the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Penance. The Lord wants you to be intrepid apostles of his Gospel and builders of a new humanity.

Two years later for our World Youth Day 2002 in Canada, John Paul II took up the theme of holiness and saints with renewed vigour:

Just as salt gives flavor to food and light illumines the darkness, so too holiness gives full meaning to life and makes it reflect God’s glory. How many saints, especially young saints, can we count in the Church’s history! In their love for God their heroic virtues shone before the world, and so they became models of life which the Church has held up for imitation by all. […] Through the intercession of this great host of witnesses, may God make you too, dear young people, the saints of the third millennium!

At the concluding World Youth Day Mass at Downsview Park in Toronto on July 28, 2002, Saint John Paul issued a stirring challenge:

And if, in the depths of your hearts, you feel the same call to the priesthood or consecrated life, do not be afraid to follow Christ on the royal road of the Cross! At difficult moments in the Church’s life, the pursuit of holiness becomes even more urgent. And holiness is not a question of age; it is a matter of living in the Holy Spirit, just as Kateri Tekakwitha did here in America and so many other young people have done.

Pope Benedict XVI continued the momentum of John Paul’s invitations and exhortations to holiness at World Youth Day 2005 in Cologne, Germany. At the opening ceremony on August 18, 2005, Benedict addressed the throng of young people gathered from across the entire world:

Dear young people, the Church needs genuine witnesses for the new evangelization: men and women whose lives have been transformed by meeting with Jesus, men and women who are capable of communicating this experience to others. The Church needs saints. All are called to holiness, and holy people alone can renew humanity. Many have gone before us along this path of Gospel heroism, and I urge you to turn often to them to pray for their intercession.

Benedict XVI continued this theme at the great Vigil on Saturday evening, August 20, 2005 at Marienfeld:

It is the great multitude of the saints – both known and unknown – in whose lives the Lord has opened up the Gospel before us and turned over the pages; he has done this throughout history and he still does so today. In their lives, as if in a great picture book, the riches of the Gospel are revealed. They are the shining path which God himself has traced throughout history and is still tracing today.

Then Pope Benedict XVI cried out in that great assembly of over one million young people gathered in prayer at Marienfeld in Cologne:

The saints…are the true reformers. Now I want to express this in an even more radical way: only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world.

The core of the proclamation of Saints and Blesseds

Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of holiness and a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial because it is the real face of the Church. The core of the proclamation of the Saints and Blesseds was always hope, even in the midst of the darkest moments of history. It’s almost as if in those times of darkness the light of Christ shines ever more brightly. We are living through one of those times, and the Lord is still taking applications for his extreme form of holiness and sanctity.

Believers in Jesus and his message must allow themselves to be enticed and enchanted by his life and his message contained in the Beatitudes. Today 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.

[The readings for the Solemnity of All Saints are: Revelation 7:2-4, 9-14; 1 John 3:1-3; and Matthew 5:1-12a.]

Watch Fr. Thomas Rosica’s video reflection for All Saints Day.

Pope Francis’ Homily during Canonization of Four Saints


Homily of His Holiness Pope Francis

Mass of the Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Canonization of Four Saints

Sunday October 18, 2015

On Sunday, October 18, 2015, Pope Francis celebrated the Canonization Mass of four Saints: Saint Vincent Grossi, Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception and Saints Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin. Read the full text of his homily below:

Today’s biblical readings present the theme of service.  They call us to follow Jesus on the path of humility and the cross. The prophet Isaiah depicts the Servant of the Lord (53:10-11) and his mission of salvation.  The Servant is not someone of illustrious lineage; he is despised, shunned by all, a man of sorrows. He does not do great things or make memorable speeches; instead, he fulfils God’s plan through his humble, quiet presence and his suffering.  His mission is carried out in suffering, and this enables him to understand those who suffer, to shoulder the guilt of others and to make atonement for it.  The abandonment and sufferings of the Servant of the Lord, even unto death, prove so fruitful that they bring redemption and salvation to many.

Jesus is the Servant of the Lord.  His life and death, marked by an attitude of utter service (cf. Phil 2:7), were the cause of our salvation and the reconciliation of mankind with God.  The kerygma, the heart of the Gospel, testifies that his death and resurrection fulfilled the prophecies of the Servant of the Lord.  Saint Mark tells us how Jesus confronted the disciples James and John.  Urged on by their mother, they wanted to sit at his right and left in God’s Kingdom (cf. Mk10:37), claiming places of honour in accordance with their own hierarchical vision of the Kingdom.  Their horizon was still clouded by illusions of earthly fulfilment.  Jesus then gives a first “jolt” to their notions by speaking of his own earthly journey: “The cup that I drink you will drink… but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared” (vv. 39-40).  With the image of the cup, he assures the two that they can fully partake of his destiny of suffering, without, however, promising their sought-after places of honour.  His response is to invite them to follow him along the path of love and service, and to reject the worldly temptation of seeking the first place and commanding others.

Faced with people who seek power and success, the disciples are called to do the opposite.  Jesus warns them: “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.  But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant” (vv. 42-44).  These words show us that service is the way for authority to be exercised in the Christian community. Those who serve others and lack real prestige exercise genuine authority in the Church.  Jesus calls us to see things differently, to pass from the thirst for power to the joy of quiet service, to suppress our instinctive desire to exercise power over others, and instead to exercise the virtue of humility.

After proposing a model not to imitate, Jesus then offers himself as the ideal to be followed.  By imitating the Master, the community gains a new outlook on life: “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (v. 45).  In the biblical tradition, the Son of Man is the one who receives from God “dominion, glory and kingship” (Dan 7:14).  Jesus fills this image with new meaning.  He shows us that he enjoys dominion because he is a servant, glory because he is capable of abasement, kingship because he is fully prepared to lay down his life.  By his passion and death, he takes the lowest place, attains the heights of grandeur in service, and bestows this upon his Church.

There can be no compatibility between a worldly understanding of power and the humble service which must characterize authority according to Jesus’ teaching and example.  Ambition and careerism are incompatible with Christian discipleship; honour, success, fame and worldly triumphs are incompatible with the logic of Christ crucified.  Instead, compatibility exists between Jesus, “the man of sorrows”, and our suffering.  The Letter to the Hebrews makes this clear by presenting Jesus as the high priest who completely shares our human condition, with the exception of sin: “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin” (4:15).  Jesus exercises a true priesthood of mercy and compassion.  He knows our difficulties at first hand, he knows from within our human condition; the fact that he is without sin does not prevent him from understanding sinners.  His glory is not that born of ambition or the thirst for power; it is is the glory of one who loves men and women, who accepts them and shares in their weakness, who offers them the grace which heals and restores, and accompanies them with infinite tenderness amid their tribulations.

Each of us, through baptism, share in our own way in Christ’s priesthood: the lay faithful in the common priesthood, priests in the ministerial priesthood. Consequently, all of us can receive the charity which flows from his open heart, for ourselves but also for others.  We become “channels” of his love and compassion, especially for those who are suffering, discouraged and alone.

The men and women canonized today unfailingly served their brothers and sisters with outsanding humility and charity, in imitation of the divine Master. Saint Vincent Grossi was a zealous parish priest, ever attentive to the needs of his people, especially those of the young.  For all he was concerned to break the bread of God’s word, and thus became a Good Samaritan to those in greatest need.

Saint Mary of the Immaculate Conception devoted her life, with great humility, to serving the least of our brothers and sisters, especially the children of the poor and the sick.

The holy spouses Louis Martin and Marie-Azélie Guérin practised Christian service in the family, creating day by day an environment of faith and love which nurtured the vocations of their daughters, among whom was Saint Therese of the Child Jesus.

The radiant witness of these new saints inspires us to persevere in joyful service to our brothers and sisters, trusting in the help of God and the maternal protection of Mary.  From heaven may they now watch over us and sustain us by their powerful intercession.

A Holy Couple – Canonization Mass

“The good Lord gave me a father and a mother more worthy of Heaven than of earth”. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

These words come to us from Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus, Carmelite nun and youngest daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin. Their names will soon be added to the book of saints next October during the Synod on the Family. They are the first couple to be canonized together. A holy couple, their story has a modern twist.

Louis and Zélie Martin met on the Saint Leonard Bridge in Alençon, France. It was an unexpected encounter. Both had previously contemplated entering the religious life. But as it became clear neither one of them were called to a life of celibacy, they vowed to offer their future marriage to God. When Zélie saw Louis, she heard a voice tell her this man was the one God had prepared for her. This conviction deepened the more they spent time together. They got married three months later on July 13th, 1858. Zélie was 27 years old and Louis 35.

Zélie already managed her own lacemaking business which she started at only 20 years old. She regularly received clients who needed her skillful hand to create or repair pieces of lace. She eventually opened a lacemaking factory that allowed her to take in apprentices. Her business was thriving. Apart from her leadership and goodwill, Zélie was an anxious woman. This is a character trait she attributed to her difficult childhood.

But if Zélie dealt with worry, Louis on the other hand was a gentle and patient man.  His talent lied in clock making.  He also held his own shop. Louis got into the trade starting at 19 years of age. Despite his excellent reputation, he retired from the clock making business to dedicate himself to his wife’s lacemaking factory, by becoming its client manager and bookkeeper. 

Career wasn’t everything to them. They were as much accomplices in their marriage as in their work. Both desired a holy marriage. They considered virginity to be an invaluable virtue even between husband and wife and so they practiced abstinence their first years of marriage. They had nine children, four of which died at a very young age. Louis and Zélie raised five girls, Pauline, Céline, Léonie, Marie, and Thérèse. They raised them in the faith and inspired in them charity and holiness. All of them eventually joined the Carmelites, except Léonie who joined the Sisters of the Visitation.

The Martins did face challenges, namely sickness. It started with Zélie when she was diagnosed with cancer. The pain intensified every day, without any hope of a cure, until she died at the age of 46. Through her suffering, Zélie held fast to prayer and patiently accepted God’s will and wisdom.

“If the Virgin Mary does not heal me, it is because I have done my time and that the good Lord wants me to find rest elsewhere” (last letter from Zélie to her brother Isidore Guerin, August 16th, 1877).

Some years after the death of his wife, Louis also fell ill. He had periods of forgetfulness or hallucinations and attacks of paralysis. After several episodes, he was taken to an asylum. He stayed there three years before going back home. Despite his evident weakness, he showed great strength, patience and perseverance.

“The things of this earth seemed to barely touch him; he overcame any difficulty that life gave him” (Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, Autobiographic Manuscripts, 1895).

Louis and Zélie Martin call us to a total submission to God’s will and providence. God was first in everything they did. Their unity of heart showed itself in their work, their family life and in their generosity towards friends and neighbours. Having known the loss of four children and of a spouse, and endurance in the face of sickness and suffering, Louis and Zélie “were witnesses to the radical gospel engagement of the vocation of marriage, to the point of heroism […] The Martins were not afraid to do violence to themselves in order to possess the Kingdom of Heaven” (Homily, Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, Beatification of Louis and Zélie Martin, Lisieux, 2008).

EmilieBlogPicWritten by Emilie Callan.

This piece was originally published in the new 2015 Salt + Light Magazine. Order your copy of the magazine by phone 1.888.302.7181 x238 or by email info@saltandlighttv.org today!

Tune in for LIVE coverage of Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin’s Canonization Mass from the St. Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm ET, 9:00 am Pt. Pope Francis will preside.

The Heroism of Daily Life


Louis and Zélie Martin, parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, were the first parents of a saint to be beatified. They were the first spouses in the history of the Church to be proposed for sainthood as a couple and the second who were beatified together on October 19, 2008 in Lisieux, France. They will be proclaimed saints by Pope Francis on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at the Vatican.

The Martins worked hard while raising a large family. Though they lived In 19th century France, this couple faced challenges we face in the 21st: finding good child care; achieving professional excellence; operating a successful business; caring for elderly parents; educating a special-needs child; forming their children in the faith; finding time to pray and to be active in their parish community.

In 1877 Zélie died of breast cancer, leaving Louis a single parent with five minor daughters to bring up. Later Louis was diagnosed with cerebral arteriosclerosis and spent three years in a psychiatric hospital. Life came at them unexpectedly, just as it comes at us. They could not prevent their tragedies: the Franco-Prussian war, during which they housed nine German soldiers; the infant deaths of four of their nine children, one from abuse by a wet-nurse; their painful diseases; Zélie’s premature death. Nor could they escape their responsibilities as business owners, caregivers, spouses, and parents.

Maria & Luigi Beltrame-Quattrocchi

Zélie and Louis were not declared “blessed” nor will they be proclaimed saints because of their daughter, Thérèse. She became a saint because of them. They fostered an environment that invited Thérèse to grow in holiness. She responded freely to the invitation they offered her. When the Church recognized Louis and Zélie as a blessed couple, she pointed to the mystery of the vocation of marriage, the way of life in which most people are called to reach the common goal of all Christians: sainthood.

Thinking of the Martins, we cannot help but recall the words of St. John Paul II: “Heroism must become daily, and the daily must become heroic.” Their relics were present at the 2014 Synod on the Family for our veneration and they have been present during this year’s Ordinary Synod of Bishops.

The relics of a second holy couple, Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, are also present for veneration at the Synod. The husband and wife lived in Rome in the first half of the 20th century, and they were proclaimed blessed by St. John Paul II on October 21, 2001. In his homily at their Beatification ceremony in Rome, Pope John Paul II said:

“This couple lived married love and service to life in the light of the Gospel and with great human intensity. With full responsibility they assumed the task of collaborating with God in procreation, dedicating themselves generously to their children, to teach them, guide them and direct them to discovering his plan of love. From this fertile spiritual terrain sprang vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life, which shows how, with their common roots in the spousal love of the Lord, marriage and virginity may be closely connected and reciprocally enlightening.

Drawing on the word of God and the witness of the saints, the blessed couple lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. Among the joys and anxieties of a normal family, they knew how to live an extraordinarily rich spiritual life. At the centre of their life was the daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the Rosary, and consultation with wise spiritual directors. In this way they could accompany their children in vocational discernment, training them to appreciate everything “from the roof up”, as they often, charmingly, liked to say.”

The Martins and the Quattrocchis are the heroes of the everyday. Their witness, memory and relics among us are blessings, and invitations to each of us to aspire to daily heroism.

Relics Louis Zélie Martin

Relics of Blesseds Zélie and Louis Martin, parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux for veneration during the Synods of 2014-2015.

Tune in on Sunday, October 18, 2015 at 12:00 pm ET, 9:00 am PT for coverage of the Canonization Mass of Louis Martin and and Marie Zelie Guerin.

Preaching Priests and Christian Superheros


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Read all about these Christian superheroes here.

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


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

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

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

– Noel


Photo: CNS

Palestinian women canonized during Pope’s busy weekend – Perspectives Daily

Today on Perspectives: Palestine has two new saints, President Mahmoud Abbas and Pope Francis have a cordial meeting, and the Pope meets with different groups of religious men and women.

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

Palestinian Saints 2015

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

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

Francis Canonizations May 17 3

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

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

Relic Palestinian nun

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

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

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

Abbas Palestinian Canonization


Superhero Saints


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Pic 3 (1)

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

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

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

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

– Noel

The Saints



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

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

Ok, so we are in the home stretch for Lent. As you know, we are right in middle of “the” most important week of the liturgical year. Check out this excellent infographic that illustrates, in one view, the narrative of Holy Week gospels:

Info Graphic - Holy Week

The Lenten season is a time for us to reflect on our relationship with Jesus and what we can do to improve it. So who better to turn to than the saints! They are great teachers of how to listen to God and discern what He expects of us on this short journey here on earth.

That being said, here are a few pretty cool articles on saints that I thought I might share. This first piece from Church Pop is a bunch of pics of saints when they were children and it made me realize how I had always thought these saints were superhuman or something, but they were actually just like you and me! Check it out here.

As I continued my search, I found these fascinating stories of the miraculous events that took place in these saints’ lives. Many of them were killed for their faith but God used these public killings to change the hearts of those who witnessed them. Imagine having your head chopped off but still continue to preach! Yep, that’s what happened to St. Denis. Check out his story and find how these saints wouldn’t die!

Continuing on the “Saints” theme, here are some more great stories about the weird and wonderful ways that God works miracles when you are completed devoted and living by the words He gave us through Jesus. I really love the story about St. John Cantius when he was mugged and robbed and then ran back to the robbers to give them the extra money he had found in his pocket. The robbers were so amazed by what he did and they were converted! A great witness to what can happen when you practice Jesus’ teaching about “turning the other cheek”. Check out the other 7 epic saint stories.


Ok, here is an interesting online quiz on Saints. Let’s see how well you do on this one. I admit that this was a difficult one. This quiz is titled WHICH SAINT SAID IT?

My guess is that you didn’t do very well. Now, don’t get embarrassed since I’m talking from personal failed experience. But don’t worry, here is another quiz from CNN that, hopefully, is a little bit easier. Check it out – HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW JESUS?

On a final note, I just had to share this one with you. I know its not on today’s theme of Saints, but this one I found very interesting. Apparently, there is a rise of Muslims converting to Christianity in Morocco and its causing some issues in the Muslim community. Read about it here.

I leave you now with this funny cartoon that has absolutely nothing to do with any of the topics above. Although some of my colleagues in the marketing team didn’t quite get it, I found it hilarious and couldn’t stop laughing. So I hope you have the same humour that I have and enjoy this mid-week chuckle!


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

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

– Noel

Pope Francis to Preside Mass of Canonization on Feast of Christ the King


On November 23, 2014, the Feast of Christ the King, Pope Francis will canonize six blesseds and inscribe them in the roll call of Saints. These blesseds consist of two Indians and four Italians, including one layman and one bishop.

The blesseds who are to be canonized on Sunday are:

  • Kuriakose Elias Chavara: A priest and the founder of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. He is remembered for his solid leadership and is recognized for having saved the Church in Kerala from a schism in 1861.
  • Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal: A member of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel. She was born in 1877 in Kattur and came to be known as the “Praying Nun.”
  • Amato Ronconi: Founder of the hospital known as the “Blessed Amato Ronconi Nursing Home” and a layman member of the Third Order of St. Francis.
  • Giovanni Antonio Farina: Italian bishop of Vicenza and the founder of the Institute of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart.
  • Nicola da Longobardi: Professed oblate of the Order of Minims.
  • Ludovico da Casoria: Founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters Elisabettine and professed priest of the Order of Friars Minor.

Salt + Light will broadcast the mass from Rome at 12:00 pm ET / 9:00 am PT. Watch live.