Friday, April 28, 2006

Youth Suffer From Lack of Love and Guidance

Made public today was a Message from the Pope to participants in the 12th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, which is being held in the Vatican from April 28 to May 2, on the theme: "Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with Children and Young People in an Age of Turbulence."

Benedict XVI opens his Message by affirming the existence of "two significant and interconnected trends: on the one hand, an increase in life expectancy, and, on the other, a decrease in birth rates."

"This situation is the result of multiple and complex causes - often of an economic, social and cultural character - which you have proposed to study," he adds. "But its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual; they are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope and, indeed, love. ... Perhaps the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail, and why birth rates have significantly diminished."

Often children and young people, "instead of feeling loved and cherished, appear to be merely tolerated. In 'an age of turbulence' they frequently lack adequate moral guidance from the adult world," and many of them "now grow up in a society which is forgetful of God. ... In a world shaped by the accelerating processes of globalization, they are often exposed solely to materialistic visions of the universe, of life and human fulfillment."

"Parents, educators and community leaders ... can never renounce their duty to set before children and young people the task of choosing a life project directed towards authentic happiness, one capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil, justice and injustice, the real world and the world of 'virtual reality'."

Pope Benedict encourages the participants in the plenary to give "due consideration to the question of human freedom, which is "the condition for authentic human growth. Where such freedom is lacking or endangered, young people experience frustration and become incapable of striving generously for the ideals which can give shape to their lives as individuals and as members of society."

Christians, the Holy Father concludes, cannot fail "to be convinced that faith, lived out in the fullness of charity and communicated to new generations, is an essential element in the building of a better future and safeguarding intergenerational solidarity."

Prayer Intentions of the Holy Father

The Holy Father's general prayer intention for May is:

"That the abundance of the gifts the Holy Spirit bestows on the Church may contribute to the growth of peace and justice in the world."

His mission intention is: "That in the mission countries those responsible for the public institutions may, with suitable laws, promote and defend human life from its conception to its natural termination."

The Holy Father's Public Schedule for May and June

Today, the Office of the Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff published the calendar for the celebrations that the Holy Father will preside from May to June.


- Monday, 1: At 5:30pm, the Holy Father will visit the Sanctuary of the Virgin Mary of Divine Love (close to Rome) and will pray the rosary.

- Saturday 6: At 9:30pm, the Holy Father will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, commemorating the five hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Pontifical Swiss Guard.

- Sunday 7: The fourth Sunday of Easter, at 9:00am in the Vatican Basilica, the Pope will ordain to the priesthood deacons from the diocese of Rome.

- Thursday 25-Sunday 28: Apostolic trip to Poland.

- Saturday 3: At 8:30pm in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father will preside at the Pentecost Vigil with the participation of various ecclesial movements and the new communities.

- Sunday 4: The Solemnity of Pentecost, Holy Mass will be celebrated at 9:30am in St. Peter's Square.

- Thursday 15: The Solemnity of Corpus Christi. At 7:00pm, Holy Mass in the basilica of Saint John Lateran, procession to the basilica of St. Mary Major and Eucharistic benediction.

- Thursday 29: The Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. Holy Mass will be celebrated at the basilica of St. Peter and will include the imposition of the pallium on metropolitan archbishops.

New Decrees from the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

Today, during a private audience with Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, C.M.F., prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, the Pope authorized the congregation to promulgate the following decrees:


- Blessed Filippo Smaldone, Italian, diocesan priest, founder of the Congregation of the Salesian Sisters of the Sacred Heart (1848 - 1923).

- Blessed Rafaele Guizar Valencia, Mexican, bishop of Veracruz, Mexico (1878 - 1938).

- Blessed Rosa Venerini, Italian, foundress of the Congregation delle Maestre Pie Venerini (1656 - 1728).

- Blessed Teodora Guerin, ne Anna Teresa, French, foundress of the Congregation of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods in the United States. (1798 - 1856).

- Venerable Servant of God Basile Antonio Maria Moreau, French, priest and founder of the Congregation of the Holy Cross (1799 - 1873).

- Venerable Servant of God Mariano de la Mata Aparicio, Spanish, priest of the Order of Saint Augustine. (1905 - 1983).

- Venerable Servant of God Margarita Maria Lopez de Maturana, Spanish, foundress of the Institute of the Missionary Sisters of Mercy (1884 - 1934).


- Servants of God Cruz Laplana y Laguna, Spanish, bishop of Cuenca, Spain (1875 - 1936) and Fernando Espanol Berdie, Spanish, diocesan priest (1875 - 1936).

- Servant of God Narciso Estenaga Echevarria, Spanish, bishop of Ciudad Real, Spain (1882 - 1936).

- Servant of God Libero Gonzalez Nombela, Spanish, diocesan priest (1896 - 1936).

- Servant of God Eusebio del Bambino Gesu, Spanish, professed priest of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites (1888 - 1936).

- Servant of God Felice Echevarria Gorostiaga, Spanish, professed priest of the Order of the Minor Friars (1893 - 1936).

- Servant of God Teodosio Rafael ne Diodoro Lopez Hernandez, Spanish, professed religious in the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian School (1898 - 1936) and three brothers from the same institute.

- Servant of God Sara Salkahazi, Hungarian, of the Institute of the Sisters of the Assistance (1899 - 1944).


- Servant of God Ciriaco Maria Sancha y Hervas, Cardinal of S.R.C., Spanish, archbishop of Toledo, Spain, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity of Cardinal Sancha (1833 - 1909).

- Servant of God Vincenza Maria Poloni ne Luigia, Italian, foundress of the Institute of the Sisters of Mercy of Verona (1802 - 1855).

- Servant of God Maria Bucchi ne Maria Matilde, Italian, foundress of the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood of Monza (1812 - 1882).

- Servant of God Esperanza Gonzalez Puig, Spanish, foundress of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary (1823 - 1885).

- Servant of God Cataline Coromina Agusti, Spanish, foundress of the Institute Josephine Sisters of Charity (1824 - 1893).

- Servant of God Maria Dolores Marquez Romero de Onoro, Spanish, foundress of the Congregation of the Philippian Daughters of Sorrowful Mary (1817 - 1904).

- Servant of God Maria Rosa Flesch, German, ne Margherita, foundress of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Saint Mary of the Angels (1826 - 1906).

- Giuseppina Nicoli, Italian, of the Society of the daughters of Charity (1863 - 1924).

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Does Law Impede on Freedom?

Tooday, Pope Benedict met with members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission. In his speech he addressed morality and Divine Law. He spoke about the belief that laws eliminate freedom and the belief that morality can be personally determined by reason. The Holy Father countered that belief, saying that moral law finds it's greatness and fullness in Christ. He also said that Jesus Christ is the way to perfection.

Below I have posted the official Vatican Press Release:

Today in the Vatican, Pope Benedict XVI received members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, who have just celebrated their annual plenary session dedicated to the relationship between the Bible and morality. The session was presided over by Cardinal William Joseph Levada, president of the commission.

The Pope greeted the participants, recalling the fact that he knows them personally, having been president of the same commission. He also highlighted the important theme discussed during the plenary session.

''The primordial impulse of human beings'', he said turning to consider the subject of the plenary, ''is their desire for happiness and a fulfilling life. Nevertheless, there are many today who think that such fulfillment must be attained autonomously, with no reference to God or to His law. Some have even suggested the absolute sovereignty of reason and freedom in the field of moral norms. ... The proponents of this 'moral laicism' affirm that human beings, as rational creatures, not only can but must freely decide the value of their own behavior''.

''This false conviction'', he continued, ''is rooted in a supposed conflict between human freedom and any kind of law." However, "the law of God does not mitigate or eliminate human freedom, on the contrary, it guarantees and promotes it. ... Moral law, established by God at the creation and confirmed in the Revelation of the Old Testament, finds its fullness and greatness in Christ. Jesus Christ is the way of perfection, the living and personal synthesis of perfect freedom in His total obedience to the will of God''.

''In revealing the Father and in His own actions, Jesus also reveals the norms for just human behavior. He explicitly underlines this connection when, at the conclusion of His lessons regarding love for one's enemies, He says 'be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect'.''

''The path indicated by Jesus through His teachings is not a rule imposed from the outside. He Himself walks this path and asks no more than that we follow Him. ... In the search for a Christologically inspired ethic, it is always necessary to remember that Christ is the Word Incarnate Who renders us participants in His divine life, and with His grace He sustains us on the path towards true fulfillment.''

''The essence of human beings'', concluded the Pope, ''appears definitively in the Word made man," and "this relationship with Christ defines the highest fulfillment of man's moral actions. ... It is not an act dictated solely by external norms, it proceeds from the vital relationship that unites believers to Christ and to God.''

In Memoriam

The following prelates died in recent weeks:

- Archbishop Longinus da Cunha of Ende, Indonesia, on April 6, at the age of 60.

- Bishop Charles Joseph Henderson, former auxiliary of Southwark, England, on April 10, at the age of 81.

- Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, prelate emeritus of Loreto, Italy, on April 5, at the age of 82.

- Archbishop Jose Mendez Asensio, emeritus of Granada, Spain, on April 15, at the age of 85.

- Bishop Andre Nguyen Van Nam, emeritus of My Tho, Vietnam, on March 16, at the age of 84.

- Bishop Sebastian Valloppilly, emeritus of Tellicherry of the Syro-Malabars, India, on April 4, at the age of 94.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Schedule of the Holy Father's Trip to Poland

Pope Benedict VXI will be visiting Poland from May 25-28. The Vatican has released the offical schedule of events and I have posted it below.

Between May 25 and 28 he is due to visit Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, and Auschwitz.
The Holy Father will depart from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.40 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, arriving in Warsaw at 11 a.m. Following the welcome ceremony, he will hold a meeting with clergy in the cathedral of St. John. At 5.45 p.m. the Pope will pay a courtesy visit to the president of Poland in the presidential palace, before going on to participate in an ecumenical gathering at the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity.
On Friday, May 26, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in Warsaw's Pilsudski Square. In the afternoon, he will travel by helicopter to Czestochowa where he will visit the Shrine of the Virgin of Jasna Gora and meet with religious, seminarians and representatives from Catholic movements and institutes of consecrated life. He will then travel to Krakow where he will spend the night in the archbishop's place.
The following day, the Pope will celebrate a private Mass in the archbishop's palace in Krakow before travelling by car to Wadowice. There he will visit the basilica of the Immaculate Conception and the house in which John Paul II was born, later meeting local inhabitants in the town's Rynek Square. At midday, he is due to visit the shrine of the Virgin of Kalwaria Zebrzydowska. On his return to Krakow, he will visit the shrine of Divine Mercy and Wawel Cathedral and, at 7 p.m., meet with young people in the city's Blonie Park.
At 9.45 a.m. on Sunday, May 28, Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in Blonie Park, and pray the Regina Coeli. After lunch, he will travel by car from the archbishop's palace in Krakow to Auschwitz. After visiting the former concentration camp and the center for dialogue and prayer, he will participate in a prayer meeting in memory of victims in the former concentration camp of Birkenau.
At 6.30 p.m., the Pope will travel directly from Birkenau to the Krakow's Balice airport. Following the departure ceremony, his plane will take off at 8 p.m. and is due to arrive in Rome at 9.15 p.m.

Pope Benedict Speaks About Tradition

Ecclesial communion and the concept of tradition provided the theme for Benedict XVI's catechesis during today's general audience, which was held in St. Peter's Square in the presence of 50,000 people.
"Ecclesial communion - aroused and sustained by the Holy Spirit, safeguarded and promoted by the apostolic ministry - does not only extend to the believers of a particular historical period, but embraces all times and generations," said the Pope.
"Thanks to the Paraclete," he continued, " the early apostolic community was able to experience the Risen Lord. Successive generations do the same, as the faith is transmitted and lived through faith, worship and the communion of the People of God. ... This transmission of the 'things' of salvation is what constitutes the apostolic tradition of the Church." The Holy Spirit "actualizes the salvific presence of the Lord Jesus, through the ministry of the apostles ... and through the entire life of the people of the new covenant."
This ongoing actuality of the active presence of the Lord Jesus in His people - worked by the Holy Spirit and expressed in the Church through the apostolic ministry and fraternal communion - is the theological meaning of the term Tradition. It is not just a material transmission of what was originally given to the Apostles, but the effective presence of the Lord Jesus ... Who, in the Spirit, accompanies and guides the community He gathered."
"Tradition," Pope Benedict concluded, "is the communion of the faithful around legitimate pastors over the course of history, a community nourished by the Holy Spirit. ... It is the organic continuity of the Church, ... the permanent presence of the Savior Who comes out to meet, redeem and sanctify us in the Spirit."

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

New Venice Coadjutor is a Vatican Official

It was announced today that Msgr. Frank J. Dewane, a priest of the diocese of Green Bay, Wisconson will become coadjutor bishop of the diocese of Venice, Florida.

Bishop-elect Dewane recieved a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, a Master's Degree in International Administration from American University, Washington, D.C., a degree in theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, Italy and a Licentiate in Canon Law from Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas University, Rome, Italy.

He served in Green Bay as an associate pastor and in the diocesan Tribunal from 1989-1991. In June of 1991, he was released for service to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York. In 1995, he was released for service and appointed as an Official of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" in Rome. Since 2001, he has served as Under-Secretary of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace in Rome.

The bishop-elect was born in Green Bay on March 9, 1950 and ordained a priest on July 16, 1988.
Photo from the Diocese of Green Bay

Monday, April 24, 2006

Pope Benedict Meets with Members of the Jesuit Order

On April 22nd, Cardinal Secretary of State Angelo Sodano celebrated Mass in the Vatican Basilica for members of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) who this year are celebrating the fifth centenary of the births of St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Pierre Favre.

Benedict XVI arrived in the basilica at midday to greet and address some words to participants in the Eucharistic celebration.

The Holy Father invited those present to give thanks to God for having conceded the Society "the gift of men of extraordinary sanctity and exceptional apostolic zeal such as St. Ignatius Loyola, St. Francis Xavier and Blessed Pierre Favre." May they, he continued, be "enlightened and dependable guides for your spiritual journey and your apostolic activity."

St. Ignatius Loyola was, said the Pope, "a man of deep prayer, the center and summit of whose life was the daily celebration of the Eucharist. In this way, he left followers a precious spiritual heritage which must not be lost or forgotten."

After pointing out how St. Ignatius served the Church faithfully, Benedict XVI mentioned some of "the Church's must urgent current requirements." These include "cultural commitment in the fields of theology and philosophy, ... and the dialogue with modern culture ... so deeply marked by positivist and materialist scientism." In this context, the Pope affirmed that promoting "a culture inspired by Gospel values requires intense spiritual and cultural preparation."

Another concern of St. Ignatius, he added, was "the Christian education and cultural formation of the young. ... Continue this important apostolate, while upholding intact the spirit of your Founder."

Going on to speak of St. Francis Xavier, the Pope recalled how Pope Pius XI proclaimed him as "patron saint of Catholic missions." And although "his mission in the East lasted just ten years, it has proved remarkably fruitful over the four and a half centuries of life of the Society of Jesus, because his example encouraged many missionary vocations among young Jesuits." And it still continues to be a model for "missionary activity in the great countries of the continent of Asia."

Blessed Pierre Favre, said Benedict XVI, "spent his brief life in various European countries, especially Germany where, by order of Pope Paul III, he took part ... in discussions with the leaders of the Reformation. Thus he had an exceptional opportunity to practice the vow of special obedience to the Pope 'concerning missions,' becoming a model for all future Jesuits to follow."

At the end of his address, the Holy Father recalled that "on April 22, 1541 St. Ignatius and his first followers made their solemn vows before the image of Mary in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside-the Walls," and he concluded by calling on the Virgin to continue to watch over the Society of Jesus.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Divine Mercy Sunday

Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter. It is also Divine Mercy Sunday, a day to remember God's merciful love. His love encompasses us despite our faults, failures, sins and even rejections of God Himself. We are wholly undeserving, yet God's love and mercy abounds, we need only to accept it.

On this day when the Gospel reminds of of St. Thomas frailties of faith, may we be reminded that God accepts us and forgives us. May we strive to be merciful and forgiving as God is. Although we have not seen, may we truly believe with our whole heart, mind and being.
Lastly, may we never fail to remember that God is Love, Deus Caritas Est.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Archbishop Montalvo in Rome Hospital

Whispers in the Loggia is reporting that Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo Higuera is suffering from the final stages of lung cancer. He is reportedly listed in critical condition in a Rome hospital.

The 76 year old former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States retired in December and was succeeded by Archbishop Pietro Sambi.

The Columbian native was ordained a priest in 1953, just days before his 23rd birthday. He was ordained a bishop by Pope Paul VI in 1974. Archbishop Montalvo served as Apostolic Delegate to Lybia, Pro-Nuncio to Algeria, Tunisia, and Yugoslavia and Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Honduras, and Belarus before coming to the United States in 1988. He also served as president of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Celebrating the 500th Anniversary of St. Peter's Basilica

In the Holy See Press Office at midday today, a press conference was held to present the celebrations being organized to mark the fifth centenary of St. Peter's Basilica.

Participating in the event were Cardinals Francesco Marchisano, archpriest of the basilica, and Albert Vanhoye S.J., rector emeritus of the Pontifical Biblical College; Archbishop Angelo Comastri and Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, respectively president and delegate of the Fabric of St. Peter's; Antonio Paolucci, superintendent of the Florentine Museums and curator of the exhibition, "Petros Eni;" and Maria Cristina Carlo-Stella, bureau chief at the Fabric of St. Peter's.

In his talk, Cardinal Marchisano traced a brief history of the basilica, beginning with the emperor Constantine's original fourth-century construction. By the end of the 14th century, in light of the frailty of the Constantinian structure, pontiffs were desirous of building a new church, a project that finally began on April 18, 1506 when Pope Julius II placed the first stone of the current basilica. Work continued for a further 130 years and involved such artists as Bramante, Sangallo, Michelangelo and Bernini.

The basilica, said the cardinal, possesses an extraordinary archive composed of 3,050,000 documents concerning the work carried out from the beginning to our own times. It is, he added, one of the most visited sites in the world, with between five and 20 thousand people crossing its doors each day.

For his part, Archbishop Comastri recalled that in 1939, "by decision of Pope Pius XII, excavation work began under St. Peter's Basilica. To great astonishment, the ancient necropolis interred by Constantine's architects in the year 320 came to light. Moving up the slopes of the Vatican hill, a small monument was found, identified as the 'Tropaion of Gaius;' this discovery was followed by that of the famous red wall with the graffiti 'Petros eni' and a series of other graffiti all testifying to the devotion to Peter in this place."

Bishop Lanzani's talk concerned the issuing of stamps and coins to commemorate the anniversary.

"The Governorate of Vatican City State will issue a series of commemorative stamps of the value of 0.45 and 0.60 euros," he said. "The first represents the commemorative medal of Bramante, produced by Cristoforo Foppa between the years 1505 and 1506. ... The second depicts the medal placed in the foundations of the new St. Peters, also the work of Cristoforo Foppa." Both stamps bear the inscription: "Templum Divi Petri in Vaticano 1506-1606."

The Fabric of St. Peter's will also mint two medals for the occasion, one in silver and one in two different metals, the work of the Italian engraver Sergio Giandomenico. One side shows the consignment of the keys to St. Peter against the background of the basilica, with the emblem of the Fabric of St. Peter's underneath and the inscription "Patriarcalis Basilica Principis Apostolorum 1506-1606" around the edge. On the other side is an image of the Holy Father with the phrase "Benedictus XVI, Pontifex Maximus."

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Ad Multos Annos

One one year ago we heard those famous words, "Habemus Papam!"

The Catholic world held its breath until the name of the new pope was announced. When we heard the name Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, some rejoiced, others despaired, the media and the liberals in the Church had a field day.

In the end, I think we can all agree that Pope Benedict XVI is not who the media and others lead us to expect.

Pope Benedict XVI has proven himself to be quiet, humble, shy and loving. He is a fierce defender of the Church. Do those have to contradict each other. I don't think so. While there are those who would disagree with me, his theology is excellent.

I think the Holy Spirit has given us the leader we need. May he continue to serve the Church as the Vicar of Christ for many years to come.

Ad multos annos! Viva il Papa!

Photo by L'Osservatoro Romano

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Brothers Ratzinger

Catholic News Service has a great story about Pope Benedict and his brother Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.

Here is a short excerpt:

Msgr. Georg Ratzinger said having Pope Benedict XVI as a brother has not unraveled their strong fraternal ties or dimmed the deep affection the two feel for each other.

Soon after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was elected pope April 19, 2005, Msgr. Ratzinger immediately told his younger brother that he was afraid his new mission as leader of the universal church would keep them apart and cool their friendship.

Instead, the changes to the brothers' relationship have not been so drastic, the 82-year-old musician and retired director of the famed Regensburg boys choir told the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, April 16.

"We still call each other up regularly and frequently, and we see each other every time it's possible," said the monsignor, who lives in the southern German city of Regensburg.

Though getting together is not as easy as it was before his brother became pope, Msgr. Ratzinger said the things they chat about and the affection they share have not changed.

I think being Pope has to be an isolated life. He lives surrounded by people but alone. How does one determine who is a true friend and who is simply enamored with the title? The Pope is not allowed to mingle freely with people so the window for friendship is rather narrow.

Pope Benedict is lucky to have his brother. I am sure their siblingly bond makes a lonely life more bearable.

Happy 500th Anniversary

Today marks 500 years since the laying of the cornerstone of St. Peter's Basilica. Over that time the Church has seen much upheaval and much joy.

Photo by Domini Sumus

Monday, April 17, 2006

Happy Birthday Little Brother

Zenit is reporting the content of a birthday note sent by Pope Benedict's older brother. Since Pope John Paul II did not have any close family still living, it feels strange to think of the Pope and his family. Pope Benedict is the younger brother of Msgr. Georg Ratzinger. They studied for the priesthood together and were ordained together. Their sister, Maria, passed away several years ago. They have no other close family.

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2006 ( Among the thousands of messages Benedict XVI received on his 79th birthday, one stood out.

Monsignor Georg Ratzinger, the Pope's older brother, who for 40 years was director of the choir of Regensburg Cathedral, sent a message from Bavaria to express what he has always said on this occasion: "Oremus pro invicem" (Let us pray for one another).

The Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire published a written message Monsignor Ratzinger sent to his brother.

"Dear Joseph, may your onerous theological work of so many years be of guidance and help to carry out the grandiose task that God has entrusted to you," said Monsignor Ratzinger. "

May the Lord give you spiritual and intellectual inspiration, as well as physical strength, to be able to make just decisions and find appropriate words, and maintain the courage and firmness in the face of the waves, which according to the secret divine will, surround the Church and, with her, you also," he added.

"May God give us, in these last years of life toward which we are heading, a minimum of fraternal communion with the joy and warmth of before," he said.

The message is signed: "Your brother Georg."

A Well Deserved Rest

The Holy Father has retreated by helicopter to his summer residence, Castel Gandolfo, for a few days of rest and relaxation. He will return to the Vatican on Wednesday for the general audience and to celebrate his first anniversary as Pope. Following the audience, he will return to Castel Gandolfo for a few more days.

Although he was away, He still delivered the traditional Regina Coeli address from the window of Castel Gandolfo today. The address was fed to the large television screens in St. Peter's square. There was also a large number of people who went to Castel Gandolfo to see the Holy Father.
I noticed that by the end of the Triduum, our dear Holy Father was looking very tired. By the end of the Triduum, I was very tired and I am not 79 years old. I hope I have that kind of stamina when I am 79.

I pray that our Holy Father, our priests and bishops, as well as all those who minister in the Church, find rest, relaxation and enjoyment in these days following the Triduum.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The highlight of my Easter Vigil

For me, the highlight of the Easter Vigil Mass is the 7 minutes when I sing the Exsultet or Easter Proclamation. I love the simplicity of standing at the ambo in the church which is lit solely by candles and chanting the ancient text. The only thing that could make it better would be chanting it in Latin.

Here is the text of the Exsultet

Rejoice, heavenly powers!
Sing choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God's throne!
Jesus Christ, our King is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
Rejoice, O earth, in shining splendor, radiant in the brightness of your King!

Christ has conquered! Glory fills you!
Darkness vanishes for ever!
Rejoice, O Mother Church!
Exult in glory!

The risen Savior shines upon you!
Let this place resound with joy,
echoing the mighty song of all God's people!

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is truly right that with full hearts and minds and voices
we should praise the unseen God, the all-powerful Father,
and his only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.

For Christ has ransomed us with his blood,
and paid for us the price of Adam's sin to our eternal Father!

This is our passover feast,
When Christ, the true Lamb, is slain,
whose blood consecrates the homes of all believers.

This is the night,
when first you saved our fathers:
you freed the people of Israel from their slav'ry,
and led them dry-shod through the sea.

This is the night,
when the pillar of fire destroyed the darkness of sin.

This is night,
when Christians ev'rywhere,
washed clean of sin and freed from all defilement,
are restored to grace and grow together in holiness.

This is the night,
when Jesus broke the chains of death
and rose triumphant from the grave.

What good would life have been to us,
had Christ not come as our Redeemer?
Father, how wonderful your care for us!
How boundless your merciful love!
To ransom a slave you gave away your Son.

O happy fault, O necessary sin of Adam,
which gained for us so great a Redeemer!
Most blessed of all nights,
chosen by God to see Christ rising from the dead!

Of this night scripture says: "The night will be as clear as day:
it will become my light, my joy."

The power of this holy night dispels all evil,
washes guilt away, restores lost innocence,
brings mourners joy;
it casts out hatred, brings us peace,
and humbles earthly pride.

Night truly blessed,
when heaven is wedded to earth
and we are reconciled to God!

Therefore, heavenly Father, in the joy of this night,
receive our evening sacrifice of praise, your Church's solemn offering.

Accept this Easter candle,
a flame divided but undimmed,
a pillar of fire that glows to the honor of God.
Let it mingle with the lights of heaven
and continue bravely burning
to dispel the darkness of this night!

May the Morning Star which never sets
find this flame still burning:
Christ, that Morning Star,
who came back from the dead,
and shed his peaceful light on all mankind,
your Son, who lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

The Holy Father's Urbi et Orbi Message

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Christus resurrexit!- Christ is risen!

During last night’s great Vigil we relived the decisive and ever-present event of the Resurrection, the central mystery of the Christian faith. Innumerable Paschal candles were lit in churches, to symbolize the light of Christ which has enlightened and continues to enlighten humanity, conquering the darkness of sin and death for ever. And today there re-echo powerfully the words which dumbfounded the women on the morning of the first day after the Sabbath, when they came to the tomb where Christ’s body, taken down in haste from the Cross, had been laid. Sad and disconsolate over the loss of their Master, they found the great stone rolled away, and when they entered they saw that his body was no longer there. As they stood there, uncertain and bewildered, two men in dazzling apparel surprised them, saying: “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, he is risen” (Lk 24:5-6). “Non est hic, sed resurrexit” (Lk 24:6). Ever since that morning, these words have not ceased to resound throughout the universe as a proclamation of joy which spans the centuries unchanged and, at the same time, charged with infinite and ever new resonances.

“He is not here . . . he is risen.” The heavenly messengers announce first and foremost that Jesus “is not here”: the Son of God did not remain in the tomb,because it was not possible for him to be held prisoner by death (cf. Acts 2:24) and the tomb could not hold on to “the living one” (Rev 1:18) who is the very source of life. Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, so too Christ crucified was swallowed up into the heart of the earth (cf. Mt 12:40) for the length of a Sabbath. Truly, “that Sabbath was a high day”, as Saint John tells us (Jn 19:31): the highest in history, because it was then that the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Mt 12:8) brought to fulfilment the work of creation (cf. Gen 2:1-4a), raising man and the entire cosmos to the glorious liberty of the children of God (cf. Rom 8:21). When this extraordinary work had been accomplished, the lifeless body was suffused with the living breath of God and, as the walls of the tomb were shattered, he rose in glory. That is why the angels proclaim “he is not here”, he can no longer be found in the tomb. He made his pilgrim way on earth among us, he completed his journey in the tomb as all men do, but he conquered death and, in an absolutely new way, by an act of pure love, he opened the earth, threw it open towards Heaven.

His resurrection becomes our resurrection, through Baptism which “incorporates” us into him. The prophet Ezekiel had foretold this: “Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel” (Ez 37:12). These prophetic words take on a singular value on Easter Day, because today the Creator’s promise is fulfilled; today, even in this modern age marked by anxiety and uncertainty, we relive the event of the Resurrection, which changed the face of our life and changed the history of humanity. From the risen Christ, all those who are still oppressed by chains of suffering and death look for hope, sometimes even without knowing it.

May the Spirit of the Risen one, in particular, bring relief and security in Africa to the peoples of Darfur, who are living in a dramatic humanitarian situation that is no longer sustainable; to those of the Great Lakes region, where many wounds have yet to be healed; to the peoples of the Horn of Africa, of the Ivory Coast, Uganda, Zimbabwe and other nations which aspire to reconciliation, justice and progress. In Iraq, may peace finally prevail over the tragic violence that continues mercilessly to claim victims. I also pray sincerely that those caught up in the conflict in the Holy Land may find peace, and I invite all to patient and persevering dialogue, so as to remove both ancient and new obstacles. May the international community, which re-affirms Israel’s just right to exist in peace, assist the Palestinian people to overcome the precarious conditions in which they live and to build their future, moving towards the constitution of a state that is truly their own. May the Spirit of the Risen one enkindle a renewed enthusiastic commitment of the Countries of Latin America, so that the living conditions of millions of citizens may be improved, the deplorable scourge of kidnapping may be eradicated and democratic institutions may be consolidated in a spirit of harmony and effective solidarity. Concerning the international crises linked to nuclear power, may an honourable solution be found for all parties, through serious and honest negotiations, and may the leaders of nations and of International Organizations be strengthened in their will to achieve peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions, in order to remove the threat of terrorism. May the Risen Lord grant that the strength of his life, peace and freedom be experienced everywhere. Today the words with which the Angel reassured the frightened hearts of the women on Easter morning are addressed to all: “Do not be afraid! ... He is not here; he is risen (Mt 28:5-6)”. Jesus is risen, and he gives us peace; he himself is peace. For this reason the Church repeats insistently: “Christ is risen - Christós anésti.” Let the people of the third millennium not be afraid to open their hearts to him. His Gospel totally quenches the thirst for peace and happiness that is found in every human heart. Christ is now alive and he walks with us. What an immense mystery of love! Christus resurrexit, quia Deus caritas est! Alleluia!

Easter Vigil Homily of the Holy Father

"You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen, he is not here" (Mk 16:6). With these words, God’s messenger, robed in light, spoke to the women who were looking for the body of Jesus in the tomb. But the Evangelist says the same thing to us on this holy night: Jesus is not a character from the past. He lives, and he walks before us as one who is alive, he calls us to follow him, the living one, and in this way to discover for ourselves too the path of life.
"He has risen, he is not here." When Jesus spoke for the first time to the disciples about the Cross and the Resurrection, as they were coming down from the Mount of the Transfiguration, they questioned what "rising from the dead" meant (Mk 9:10). At Easter we rejoice because Christ did not remain in the tomb, his body did not see corruption; he belongs to the world of the living, not to the world of the dead; we rejoice because he is the Alpha and also the Omega, as we proclaim in the rite of the Paschal Candle; he lives not only yesterday, but today and for eternity (cf. Heb 13:8). But somehow the Resurrection is situated so far beyond our horizon, so far outside all our experience that, returning to ourselves, we find ourselves continuing the argument of the disciples: Of what exactly does this "rising" consist? What does it mean for us, for the whole world and the whole of history? A German theologian once said ironically that the miracle of a corpse returning to life - if it really happened, which he did not actually believe - would be ultimately irrelevant precisely because it would not concern us. In fact, if it were simply that somebody was once brought back to life, and no more than that, in what way should this concern us? But the point is that Christ’s Resurrection is something more, something different. If we may borrow the language of the theory of evolution, it is the greatest "mutation", absolutely the most crucial leap into a totally new dimension that there has ever been in the long history of life and its development: a leap into a completely new order which does concern us, and concerns the whole of history.
The discussion, that began with the disciples, would therefore include the following questions: What happened there? What does it mean for us, for the whole world and for me personally? Above all: what happened? Jesus is no longer in the tomb. He is in a totally new life. But how could this happen? What forces were in operation? The crucial point is that this man Jesus was not alone, he was not an "I" closed in upon itself. He was one single reality with the living God, so closely united with him as to form one person with him. He found himself, so to speak, in an embrace with him who is life itself, an embrace not just on the emotional level, but one which included and permeated his being. His own life was not just his own, it was an existential communion with God, a "being taken up" into God, and hence it could not in reality be taken away from him. Out of love, he could allow himself to be killed, but precisely by doing so he broke the definitiveness of death, because in him the definitiveness of life was present. He was one single reality with indestructible life, in such a way that it burst forth anew through death. Let us express the same thing once again from another angle. His death was an act of love. At the Last Supper he anticipated death and transformed it into self-giving. His existential communion with God was concretely an existential communion with God’s love, and this love is the real power against death, it is stronger than death. The Resurrection was like an explosion of light, an explosion of love which dissolved the hitherto indissoluble compenetration of "dying and becoming". It ushered in a new dimension of being, a new dimension of life in which, in a transformed way, matter too was integrated and through which a new world emerges.
It is clear that this event is not just some miracle from the past, the occurrence of which could be ultimately a matter of indifference to us. It is a qualitative leap in the history of "evolution" and of life in general towards a new future life, towards a new world which, starting from Christ, already continuously permeates this world of ours, transforms it and draws it to itself. But how does this happen? How can this event effectively reach me and draw my life upwards towards itself? The answer, perhaps surprising at first but totally real, is: this event comes to me through faith and Baptism. For this reason Baptism is part of the Easter Vigil, as we see clearly in our celebration today, when the sacraments of Christian initiation will be conferred on a group of adults from various countries. Baptism means precisely this, that we are not dealing with an event in the past, but that a qualitative leap in world history comes to me, seizing hold of me in order to draw me on. Baptism is something quite different from an act of ecclesial socialization, from a slightly old-fashioned and complicated rite for receiving people into the Church. It is also more than a simple washing, more than a kind of purification and beautification of the soul. It is truly death and resurrection, rebirth, transformation to a new life.
How can we understand this? I think that what happens in Baptism can be more easily explained for us if we consider the final part of the short spiritual autobiography that Saint Paul gave us in his Letter to the Galatians. Its concluding words contain the heart of this biography: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20). I live, but I am no longer I. The "I", the essential identity of man - of this man, Paul - has been changed. He still exists, and he no longer exists. He has passed through a "not" and he now finds himself continually in this "not": I, but no longer I. With these words, Paul is not describing some mystical experience which could perhaps have been granted him, and could be of interest to us from a historical point of view, if at all. No, this phrase is an expression of what happened at Baptism. My "I" is taken away from me and is incorporated into a new and greater subject. This means that my "I" is back again, but now transformed, broken up, opened through incorporation into the other, in whom it acquires its new breadth of existence. Paul explains the same thing to us once again from another angle when, in Chapter Three of the Letter to the Galatians, he speaks of the "promise", saying that it was given to an individual - to one person: to Christ. He alone carries within himself the whole "promise". But what then happens with us? Paul answers: You have become one in Christ (cf. Gal 3:28). Not just one thing, but one, one only, one single new subject. This liberation of our "I" from its isolation, this finding oneself in a new subject means finding oneself within the vastness of God and being drawn into a life which has now moved out of the context of "dying and becoming". The great explosion of the Resurrection has seized us in Baptism so as to draw us on. Thus we are associated with a new dimension of life into which, amid the tribulations of our day, we are already in some way introduced. To live one’s own life as a continual entry into this open space: this is the meaning of being baptized, of being Christian. This is the joy of the Easter Vigil. The Resurrection is not a thing of the past, the Resurrection has reached us and seized us. We grasp hold of it, we grasp hold of the risen Lord, and we know that he holds us firmly even when our hands grow weak. We grasp hold of his hand, and thus we also hold on to one another’s hands, and we become one single subject, not just one thing. I, but no longer I: this is the formula of Christian life rooted in Baptism, the formula of the Resurrection within time. I, but no longer I: if we live in this way, we transform the world. It is a formula contrary to all ideologies of violence, it is a programme opposed to corruption and to the desire for power and possession.
"I live and you will live also", says Jesus in Saint John’s Gospel (14:19) to his disciples, that is, to us. We will live through our existential communion with him, through being taken up into him who is life itself. Eternal life, blessed immortality, we have not by ourselves or in ourselves, but through a relation - through existential communion with him who is Truth and Love and is therefore eternal: God himself. Simple indestructibility of the soul by itself could not give meaning to eternal life, it could not make it a true life. Life comes to us from being loved by him who is Life; it comes to us from living-with and loving-with him. I, but no longer I: this is the way of the Cross, the way that "crosses over" a life simply closed in on the I, thereby opening up the road towards true and lasting joy.
Thus we can sing full of joy, together with the Church, in the words of the Exsultet: "Sing, choirs of angels . . . rejoice, O earth!" The Resurrection is a cosmic event, which includes heaven and earth and links them together. In the words of the Exsultet once again, we can proclaim: "Christ . . . who came back from the dead and shed his peaceful light on all mankind, your Son who lives and reigns for ever and ever". Amen!

Happy Birthday

Today is the Holy Father's 79th birthday.
Happy Birthday Pope Benedict XVI!

May there be many more and may the Lord grant you the gift of sustained good health.

Viva il Papa!

Photo by Domini Sumus

Happy Easter

May everyone have a happy and glorious Easter day and season.

Let us pray in a special way for all those who were recieved into full Communion last night.

Christ is Risen! Alleluia! Truly, He is Risen! Alleluia!

Christus Vincit! Christus Regnat! Christus Imperat!

He is Risen! Alleluia!

On the first day of the week,
Mary of Magdala came to the tomb early in the morning,
while it was still dark, and saw the stone removed from the tomb.
So she ran and went to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and told them,
“They have taken the Lord from the tomb, and we don’t know where they put him.”
So Peter and the other disciple went out and came to the tomb.
They both ran, but the other disciple ran faster than Peter and arrived at the tomb first;
he bent down and saw the burial cloths there, but did not go in.
When Simon Peter arrived after him, he went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there, and the cloth that had covered his head, not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.
Then the other disciple also went in, the one who had arrived at the tomb first, and he saw and believed.
For they did not yet understand the Scripture that he had to rise from the dead.
John 20:1-9

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Tornado Damages Church

St. Patrick's Church in Iowa City, Iowa was hit by a tornado on April 13th.
Luckily no one was injured, but the parish church was severely damaged.


For the parish of St. Patricks, may their hearts be filled with thanksgiving in the midst of sadness and may they find comfort in God and each other.

Archbishop Felix Attacked

St Lucia Bishop’s throat slashed
FRANCIS JOSEPH Friday, April 14 2006
THE 73-year-old Archbishop of St Lucia miraculously escaped death on Wednesday night when a man armed with a knife attempted to slash his throat outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral in the capital, Castries.

Archbishop Kelvin Felix, who has been the head of the Catholic Church in St Lucia for the past eight years, came close to death as he was preparing to enter his car. A 26-year-old man has been apprehended and is to be charged with attempted murder.

Felix’s Roman Collar was cut off his neck by the lone assailant. According to the St Lucia Police, the Roman Collar saved the Archbishop’s life. The incident occurred at 7.45 pm while Felix was speaking to a man on Peynier Street, Castries. A man walked up to the Archbishop and locked his neck. The assailant slashed at Felix’s throat but managed to just cut off the Roman Collar before running away. Witnesses said the man had been lurking around the Cathedral all Wednesday.

Felix was unhurt, but was sent to the hospital in Castries for examination. He was later released and he returned to his presbytery.

A report was made to the police and after investigations were conducted, a 26-year-old man who lives in a depressed area of the capital, was arrested. Up to last night, he was being held without charge. Monsignor Patrick Anthony, the senior cleric responsible for media affairs, informed prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony about the attack. The prime minister summoned the minister of Home Affairs and Internal Security Calixte George.

George later held a meeting with the Commissioner of Police and senior church officials where it was agreed that the police would provide a heightened police presence at all church ceremonies throughout the island over this Easter weekend.

According to minister George, “the Government wishes to first of all express its deepest concern to the Archbishop on this unfortunate, irresponsible, reprehensible and abhorrent incident and to assure the Catholic community that they need not fear as adequate security arrangements will be put in place at all church services during the balance of Holy Week.”

Port-of-Spain Archbishop Edward Gilbert spoke with Felix by telephone after the incident and said the Dominican-born cleric was fine physically, but shaken. “I want to take advantage of the opportunity provided by the attempted assassination of Archbishop Felix to encourage all people to continue the ecumenical, interfaith and reason-based effort to build a culture of life in which the life and dignity of every person will be valued and respected.”

This is the second brutal attack on the Catholic Church in St Lucia in the last five years.

On December 31, 2000, two men attacked worshippers at the same cathedral during midnight mass, setting the church ablaze and killing Irish nun Sister Teresa Egan, aged 72. Father Charles Gaillard, who was offering prayers on the altar, suffered burns to his face and had to be flown to neighbouring Martinique for treatment.

Fr Gaillard returned to St Lucia but succumbed to a heart attack in April 2001. Two men — Kim John, 25, and Francis Phillip, 39, were found guilty of murder and sentenced to death and are awaiting execution at the island prison. They said they were sent by God to combat corruption in the Catholic Church.

Archbishop Felix is no stranger to Trinidad and Tobago. He was here in Trinidad for the funeral service of Archbishop Anthony Pantin in 2000. He also attended the installation of Archbishop Gilbert in Port-of-Spain on May 5, 2001. He is a member of the Christian Council of Churches and a past President of the Catholic Bishops of the Caribbean.

Despite his ordeal on Wednesday night, Felix attended a news conference in Castries yesterday at which he said the vicious attack he suffered may well be the result of the hatred for the Catholic Church preached by other religious organisations in St Lucia.

Felix said it has been some time now that certain elements in the society have been exhibiting a type of hatred for the local Catholic Church which has resulted in attacks on his church by some preachers.

He called for legislation to be enacted against such practices as preachers can be heard on radio lambasting the Catholic Church and its preaching. He felt that strong legislation should be targeted especially against those churches that were entering St Lucia and debasing the Catholic Church.

Friday, April 14, 2006

This is the Wood of the Cross

I was delighted to see Pope Benedict XVI restore an ancient tradition by removing his shoes and chasuble for the veneration of the Cross.

He also did not carry his crozier or wear his pallium for the liturgy. He did not even wear his ring. The simplicity was outstanding and beautifully fitting.

The removal of the chasuble reminds us of when Jesus was stripped of his clothes and also strips the celebrant of rank. He approaches the cross without earthly honor; as a simple man of faith.
The removal of the shoes reminds us that we are standing on holy ground. As it says in Exodus 3:5, "Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.

There are many parishes where all the faithful are invited to remove their shoes for the veneration of the Cross.

Pope, in Holy Thursday homily, says Judas was a greedy liar

In the light of the excitement regarding the so-called "Gospel of Judas", the Holy Father's comments deserve to be repeated.

For Judas, the pope said, "only power and success are real; love does not count." "And he is greedy: money is more important than communion with Jesus, more important than God and his love. He also becomes a liar, a double-crosser who breaks with the truth," Pope Benedict said.

Judas not only betrayed Jesus, he also refused his forgiveness and gave into despair.

About that Pope Benedict says,
Purposefully ignoring the truth, he said, Judas "hardens, becoming incapable of conversion ... and throws away his destroyed life."

Pope Benedict Celebrates Mandatum Rite

For the first time in over twenty years the Holy Father has washed the feet of 12 laymen.

I also noticed that he did not mention Pope John Paul II during his homily for the Chrism Mass or the Mass of the Lord's Supper. I think it is one of the first times he hasn't mentioned his predecessor.

The reign of Pope Benedict XVI truly begins now. After a year, I think he is now stepping out from behind John Paul's shadow.

God or the Girl

On Easter Sunday, A&E will air the first of a five part series titled "God or the Girl". It is about 5 young men who are discerning a vocation the the Catholic priesthood.

I am looking forward to watching it. I hope it gives an accurate view of the discernment process and priestly vocation.

I hope this program will give many men the courage to follow God's call. Perhaps it will even make people consider the priesthood to be normal "career" choice. I hesitate to use the word career, but right now I cannot think of the word I want to use.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Way of the Cross Meditations

The Vatican has posted the presentation and meditations for the Way of the Cross online. The meditations were written by Archbishop Angelo Comastri.
They may be found here :

These meditations may also be purchased in book form as written in my last post.

Last year's meditations by Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, are also available online.

Way of the Cross Meditations for 2006

VATICAN CITY, APR 11, 2006 (VIS) - According to a communique made public this morning by the Vatican Publishing House, the text of the meditations for this year's Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) will be available from today, Tuesday April 11, in religious bookshops and at major chains of booksellers.
The Way of the Cross on Good Friday, April 14, will be the first to be led by Benedict XVI. The meditations, written by Archbishop Angelo Comastri, prelate emeritus of Loreto and His Holiness' vicar general for Vatican City State, "invite us to reflect upon the devastating power of sin and, at the same time, encourage us to contemplate the healing power of God's love clearly expressed in the cross of Christ," the communique reads.
Apart from Italy, the text is also to be released in Germany and the United States where it is being published by the publishing houses of Herder and Ignatius Press respectively.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Pope Benedict's Palm Sunday Mass

VATICAN CITY, APR 9, 2006 (VIS) - Thousands of young people from all over the world participated in a Eucharistic celebration presided by the Pope in St. Peter's Square this morning, Palm Sunday and 21st World Youth Day, which has as its theme this year "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
Before the Mass, Benedict XVI blessed palms and olive branches near the obelisk in St. Peter's Square, before moving in procession to the altar.
At the beginning of his homily, the Holy Father recalled how for 20 years, "thanks to John Paul II, Palm Sunday has become a special day for young people; the day on which youth all over the world go out to meet Christ in the desire to accompany Him into their cities and countries, that He may remain among us and establish His peace in the world.
"If we want to go out and meet Jesus, and walk alongside Him on His journey, we must however ask: along what path does He intend to lead us? What do we expect from Him? What does He expect from us?"
Commenting the words of Zechariah on the king to come, who "will be a king of the poor, a poor man among the poor and for the poor," Benedict XVI pointed out how "one can be materially poor and yet have one's heart full of desire for wealth and for the power that derives from wealth. ... Interior freedom is a necessary condition for overcoming the corruption and avidity that are now devastating the world; and this freedom can be found only if God becomes our wealth."
The Prophet Zechariah "also shows us that this king will be a king of peace," the Pope went on, and this aspect "takes concrete form in the sign of the cross. ... The new weapon that Jesus puts in our hands is the cross, a sign of reconciliation, a sign of the love that is stronger than death. Every time we make the sign of the cross we must remember not to meet injustice with injustice, violence with violence; we must remember that we can conquer evil only with good, and never by repaying evil with evil."
Zechariah's third affirmation, the Holy Father added, is "the announcement of universality. ... Christ reigns by becoming our bread and giving Himself to us. This is the way in which He builds His kingdom." Through the Eucharist "we enter His kingdom of peace. In Him we welcome, in some way, all our brothers and sisters to whom He comes, in order truly to become a kingdom of peace in the midst of this divided world."
"These three characteristics announced by the prophet - poverty, peace and universality - come together in the sign of the cross. It is for this reason, and rightly so, that the cross has become the focal point of World Youth Days. There was a time, a time that has not yet been completely left behind, in which Christianity was rejected precisely because of the cross. The cross represents sacrifice, it was said, the cross is a sign of the negation of life. What we want, however, is life entire, without restrictions or renunciation."
"And Palm Sunday tells us that that the real great 'yes' is the cross, that the cross is the real tree of life. We do not find life by seizing it but by giving it. Love is a giving of self and for this reason it is the way of true life symbolized by the cross."

Pope Benedict's new appointments include "Ecclesia Dei" commission

(VIS) - The Holy Father:
- Appointed Bishop Benoit Riviere, auxiliary of Marseille, France, as bishop of Autun (area 8,575, population 547,000, Catholics 522,000, priests 260, permanent deacons 24, religious 522), France. He succeeds Bishop Raymond Seguy, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese, the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.
- Appointed Bishop Ramon Castro Castro, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Yucatan, Mexico, as bishop of Campeche (area 55,858, population 752,000, Catholics 601,600, priests 59, religious 151), Mexico.
- Appointed as members of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux, France; and Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, archbishop of Toledo, Spain.
- Appointed Fr. Athanasius Schneider O.R.C., chancellor of the diocesan Curia of Karaganda, Kazakhstan, as auxiliary of the same diocese (area 711,300, population 4,433,300, Catholics 40,000, priests 17, religious 34). The bishop- elect was born in Tokmak, Kyrgyzstan in 1961 and ordained a priest in 1990.
- Granted the ecclesial communion requested of him by His Beatitude Antonios Naguib, canonically elected as Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts on March 30, 2006 by the Synod of Bishops of the Coptic Catholic Church.

Wow, shocked for a minute then I read that article

Shouts in the Piazza posted this picture along with an interesting article.
He says that is a Spanish Holy Week Tradition. They are wearing the hoods because they are penitents who wish to conceal their identity.
Fascinating! Here is a link to the "Shouts" article and another article I found.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

O'Malley Consistory Pictures

A photographer who followed Sean Cardinal O'Malley to all the consistory events has posted his thousand plus pictures online. They are worth taking the time to see.

Archbishop Marini on Pope Benedict XVI's Liturgical Style

(CWNews)Pope Benedict XVI is reviewing plans for papal liturgical celebrations, the Vatican's top liturgist has disclosed.
Archbishop Piero Marini, the master of ceremonies for papal liturgies, spoke to the Italian internet site on March 20, during a visist to Milan for the publication of his book, Liturgy and Beauty. Archbishop Marini revealed that Pope Benedict XVI has been more demanding than his predecessor in watching plans for liturgical celebrations at the Vatican.
"With John Paul II I had a bit more freedom," the Italian prelate told the web site, "We had an implicit pact, because he was a man of prayer and not a liturgist." With the new Pope, he continued, "I have to be a bit more attentive, because he is an expert on liturgy."
The master of papal ceremonies said that he and the Pope are now carrying out a re-examination of papal liturgical celebrations. He reported that he regularly sends his notes to the Pontiff, who returns them with corrections, suggestions, or a note of approval.
Since 1987, Archbishop Marini has made plans for all major papal liturgical celebrations. During that time he has become a figure of some controversy at the Vatican, with some prelates objecting to the ceremonies he has devised. For instance, after canonization ceremonies that incorporated traditional African and Indian dance elements in October 2003, Cardinal Francis Arinze, the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, spoke of "uncontrolled creativity" and a "too fertile imagination." Archbishop Marini has also been criticized for downgrading the use of Gregorian chant and polyphony in favor of more contemporary and popular music.
Archbishop Marini became involved in liturgical affairs as a young priest, serving as personal secretary to the late Archbishop Annibale Bugnini, the principal architect of liturgical changes in the wake of Vatican II. His approach has been criticized by those who favor a more traditional approach-- including, in the past, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The history of past disagreements between the current Pope and his chief liturgist have caused Vatican-watchers to predict that Archbishop Marini would soon be replaced as the papal master of ceremonies. But nearly a year after the Pope's election he remains at his post.
In his interview with the Affaritaliani site, Archbishop Marini offered a blunt comment on prospects for reconciliation between the Holy See and the traditionalist Society for St. Pius X. The schism can be repaired, he said, only "if the Lefebvrists accept totally the Second Vatican Council and its teachings." Otherwise, he said, "there is nothing to be done."

Have a Blessed Holy Week

I don't know how much posting I will be doing this week.
Because of Holy Week, I will be incredibly busy at my parish, but I will try to post brief reflections. If I become aware of any major news, I will post it, but if I dissapear for a day or two do not fear, I will return.

I wish all of you a blessed Holy Week.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Contrast and Contradiction

The Palm Sunday Mass begins with the story of Jesus' triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. The people cheered Jesus and sang "Hosanna".
How quickly the mood and attitude toward Jesus changed. Before the week was over they were yelling "Crucify him".
Were the people singing "Hosanna" the same people who were calling for the crucifixion? Which story displays their true desires? Were they simply caught up in the emotional tide and followed the lead of those around them?
Those were the thoughts which ran through my mind during the reading of the Passion this evening.
How often are we swept up with the crowd? Do we think things through ourselves or do we simply follow the current fad? Most importantly, if we were present on Palm Sunday and Good Friday what would we do?

Friday, April 07, 2006

Blessed Pope John XXIII

One of the most amazing parts of my trip to Vatican City was seeing the devotion of so many pilgrims to Blessed Pope John XXIII. The lines of people visiting his glass tomb, lighting candles and saying prayers was incredible. I never imagined people would still display such fervent love to a pope who died 42 years ago.

Seeing his incorruptable body was something that I will never forget. In one day I saw four popes. Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Innocent XI, Pope St. Pius X and Blessed Pope John XXIII.

His face was instantly recognizable and as I looked at it, I remembered that although he died 15 years before I was born, I was looking at the face of the man who created the Church we know today. His hands and face were coated with wax, but he still bore a small smile. He was much thinner than I expected, but as I learned later, he lost a great deal of weight in his final year due to his battle with stomach cancer.

As Cardinal Noe said after Pope John XXIII was exhumed, "It was as if he died yesterday". His entire body is unaffected by the ravages of time. While it may not be a miracle, it is simply amazing.
Photo by Domini Sumus

Cardinal Dziwisz Consistory Pictures

The website of the Archdiocese of Krakow has posted 2,500 photographs from the consistory. Many of these pictures are of private meetings and preparations of Cardinal Dziwisz. It is definately worth checking out.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Quote of the Day for April 6th

"It often happens that I wake up and night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide that I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope."
Blessed Pope John XXIII

Secretary to Pope Paul VI Passes to Eternal Life

The Pope sent a telegram of condolence to Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, Italy, for the death yesterday at the age of 82 of Archbishop Pasquale Macchi, prelate emeritus of Loreto, Italy and former personal secretary to Pope Paul VI.
Benedict XVI recalls "the profound spirituality and generous episcopal commitment that characterized the ministry of the lamented prelate," and asks the Lord "to welcome him in eternal joy as a good and faithful servant, rewarding his constant dedication to spreading the Gospel and his devotion to the Most Holy Virgin Mary."
Cardinal Tettamanzi will preside at Archbishop Macchi's funeral - due to be held in the Duomo of Milan at 10.30 a.m. on Saturday April 8 - which will be attended, in the name of the Holy Father, by Cardinal Attilio Nicora, president of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See.

I Don't Know What I Think

I guess if presented in a positive manner, this show could produce an increase in vocations to the religious life. At the least it will expose people to a way of life that is hidden.
My fear is that religious life will be ridiculed or displayed as backwards although from what I have heard positive reactions from the British version.
Either way it is an interesting project.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

"On normal mornings, the peals of the bell calling the monks to chapel for their 4 a.m. prayer simply float out into these remote desert hills to reverberate and die.
But for six weeks this winter, the sights and sounds were captured by film crews. And the men who pulled the rope were, many a morning, among five non-monks who were called to live there not by God but by producers from The Learning Channel.
A reality show set in a monastery? Sort of. But producers of this TLC effort, which is scheduled to air as a 10-part series this fall, say they're working on an "observational documentary" that follows people who are at spiritual crossroads and in search of profound answers.
The premise of The Monastery, an American version of a similar British show produced last year for the BBC, is to cloister five men of varied backgrounds and faiths at the Benedictine Monastery of Christ in the Desert here in the mountains northwest of Santa Fe and five women at the Our Lady of the Mississippi Abbey on a farm near Dubuque, Iowa. Each participant has a dramatic back story, from a soldier who lost his leg in the Iraq war to a woman who had her first child at age 14 and yet put herself through school for an MBA degree.
"This isn't a reality show," series producer Sarah Woodford says.
"The point has not been to create traps for hapless people to fall into. We're interested in exploring how people like us can live a good and purposeful life and what the 1,500-year-old monastic tradition can teach modern people."

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Another Beautiful Consistory Moment

Pope Benedict incenses the altar during the Mass of the Rings, on March 25th.

Pope Benedict listens to the readings at the Consistory.

Photos by Domini Sumus

The Pope and the Wind

Here are a few pictures from today's audience that are simply too good to not post.
Photos by Catholic Press Photo


When I started this blog, I did it simply for my own enjoyment. It was to be a sounding board for my thoughts and a bulletin board for interesting information. I doubted that anyone would be interested in anything I had to say.
Let me just say that the success of this blog has shocked me. Over the past three days I have recieved over 250 hits. Thank you!

Most of all, I have to thank the Anchoress for including a link to my post about visiting Pope John Paul II's tomb. Secondly, I was shocked to find a link on National Catholic Register to her post where the link to my post was featured.
Thanks to everyone including those I am not aware of yet. Keep posting those links.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Is Nothing Sacred

Detectives with the Tyler (Texas) Police Department are investigating the weekend burglary of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on South Broadway.

Don Martin, the department's public information officer, said police were called to the church Saturday when officials learned two key items from the sanctuary had been stolen.
Martin said the theft of the Bishop's chair and a crucifix was an estimated loss of about $3,000. Martin also added there had been no reported church burglaries in Tyler in the past several months.
"We haven't had really any burglaries at local churches, but we have had some thefts of purses while people were at lunch or left the room for something," he said.
Monsignor Joe Strickland said the burglary occurred Saturday morning between 9 and 11 a.m.
"I went in to prepare for a wedding and I noticed the Bishop's chair (called a Cathedra) and the Processional Cross were both missing," he said.
The Monsignor said it would take at least two people to carry the chair, which is made of oak and rather large.
"It is a large oak wooden chair with upholstery and the Bishop's Crest on the seat back," he said.
The Monsignor said the wooden cross is between four and five feet tall with the body of Christ on it.
"My first thought was who could have borrowed them and why - then I realized the items had been stolen," he said. "I have heard that having your home robbed leaves you feeling violated and this is our spiritual home."
The Monsignor said the church has been vandalized in the past, but he could not recall a burglary.
Anyone with information about the burglary is encouraged to contact the Tyler Police Department at (903) 531-1000 or Crimestoppers at (903) 597-2833.

The Beautiful Hands of a Priest

Someone sent me this picture of Pope Benedict from Pope Benedict's installation Mass.

In this picture the scar on his left thumb is clearly visible. It is probably from a hand injury suffered during the war.

The picture reminded me of this famous poem:

We need them in life's early morning,
We need them again at its close;
We feel their warm clasp of true friendship,
We seek them when tasting life's woes.
At the altar each day we behold them,
And the hands of a king on his throne
Are not equal to them in their greatness;
Their dignity stands all alone;
And when we are tempted and wander,
To pathways of shame and of sin,
It's the hand of a priest that will absolve us--
Not once, but again and again.
And when we are taking life's partner,
Other hands may prepare us a feast,
But the hand that will bless and unite us--
Is the beautiful hand of a priest.
God bless them and keep them all holy,
For the Host which their fingers caress;
When can a poor sinner do better,
Than to ask Him to guide thee and bless?
When the hour of death comes upon us,
May our courage and strength be increased,
By seeing raised over us in blessing--
The beautiful hands of a priest.

Photo by REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Pope Benedict's Holy Week Schedule

Given below is the schedule of Holy Week activities to be presided over by Benedict XVI, as made public today by the Office of Liturgical Celebrations of the Supreme Pontiff:

SUNDAY, April 9: Palm Sunday and Our Lord's Passion. 21st World Youth Day on the theme: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." At 9.30 a.m. in St. Peter's Square, the Holy Father will bless palms and olive branches and, at the end of the procession, will celebrate the Mass of the Lord's Passion.

THURSDAY, April 13: Holy Thursday. In St. Peter's Basilica at 9.30 a.m., the Holy Father will preside at the concelebration of the Chrism Mass with cardinals, bishops, and diocesan and religious priests present in Rome, as a sign of the close union between the pastor of the Universal Church and his brothers in the priestly ministry. The Easter Triduum of the Lord's Passion and Resurrection will begin in the Basilica of St. John Lateran at 5.30 p.m. with the Mass of Our Lord's Last Supper. The Holy Father will preside at the concelebration of the Mass. After the homily, the rite of the washing of the feet of 12 priests will take place. During this rite, those present will be invited to give alms for the victims of landslides in Maasin, Philippines. The sum collected will be given to the Holy Father at the presentation of the gifts. At the end of the celebration the Blessed Sacrament will be transferred to the chapel of reposition.

FRIDAY, April 14: Good Friday. The Holy Father will preside at the celebration of the Passion of Our Lord in the Vatican Basilica at 5 p.m. He will lead the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9.15 p.m. and, in conclusion, will address some words to the faithful and impart his apostolic blessing.

SATURDAY, April 15: Easter Saturday. The Easter Vigil will begin at 10.00 p.m. in St. Peter's Basilica, when the Pope will bless the new fire in the atrium of the church. After the entrance procession with the Easter candle and the singing of the "Exultet," he will preside at the Liturgy of the Word and the Baptismal and Eucharistic liturgies, which he will concelebrate with the cardinals.

SUNDAY, April 16. Easter Sunday. At 10.30 a.m., Benedict XVI will celebrate Mass in St. Peter's Square, after which he will impart the "Urbi et Orbi" blessing ("to the city and the world") from the central loggia of the Vatican Basilica.

Lennon to Ohio

Bishop Richard Gerard Lennon, auxiliary of the archdiocese of Boston, has been appointed bishop of Cleveland. He succeeds Bishop Anthony Michael Pilla.

Hopefully, his departure will allow Cardinal Sean to form the diocese how he best sees fit, or at the very least without the speculation the Bishop Lennon is behind the actions.

Monday, April 03, 2006

John Paul II, A Life of Faith

VATICAN CITY, APR 2, 2006 (VIS) - Prior to praying the Angelus today with tens of thousands of faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI dedicated his remarks entirely to the figure of John Paul II.
"On April 2 last year," said the Pope, "the beloved Pope John Paul II was living through the last phase of his earthly pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of faith, love and hope that left a profound mark in the history of the Church and of humanity.
"His agony and death constituted almost a prolongation of the Easter Triduum. We all recall the images of his last Way of the Cross on Good Friday. Unable to go to the Coliseum, he followed events from his private chapel, holding the cross in his hands. Then, on Easter Sunday, he imparted the 'Urbi et Orbi' blessing, without managing to pronounce a word, just gesturing with his hand. It was the most painful and moving of blessings, which he left us testimony of his will to carry out his ministry right to the end.
"Thus John Paul II died as he had always lived, animated by the indomitable courage of faith, giving himself up to God and entrusting himself to Mary Most Holy. ... His heritage is immense, but the message of his long pontificate can be summarized in the words with which he chose to open it, here in St. Peter's Square on October 22, 1978: 'Open wide the doors to Christ!'"
Benedict XVI then highlighted how John Paul II incarnated this appeal "with his entire person and his entire mission as Peter's Successor," especially in his apostolic trips. His meetings with the crowds, with religious communities, and with political and religious leaders were "like a single grand gesture, confirming those opening words. He announced Christ always, presenting Him to everyone - just as Vatican Council II had -as a response to man's hopes for freedom, justice and peace."
During the last years of his life, "the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, in order to assimilate him fully to Himself. And when he could no longer travel, no longer even walk, and finally not even speak, his gestures and announcement were reduced to essentials: to the giving of himself right to the end. His death was the fulfillment of a coherent witness of faith that touched the hearts of so many men and women of good will."
"John Paul II," the Pope concluded, "left us on a Saturday, dedicated especially to Mary, towards whom he always felt a filial devotion. We now ask the heavenly Mother of God to help us treasure all this great Pontiff gave and taught us."
ANG/JOHN PAUL II/... VIS 060403 (460)

The Mass is over

The anniversary Mass ended a while ago, but I wasn't able to post. It was an uneventful Mass.

There was over 100,000 people in attendance at the rosary last night, but only 15,000 at the Mass today. Many, many more were expected.

I am awaiting an English translation of the Holy Father's homily. I will post it when I receive it.

Watching the Anniversary Mass

The anniversary Mass for Pope John Paul II is just begining. The camera is focused on Cardinal Dziwisz as the procession travels from the bronze doors to the sagrato.

Pope Benedict has just arrived on camera. He looks good. It is nice to see Archbishop Marini at the side of the Holy Father. Archbishop Marini must be feeling better following his mysterious unofficial "cardiac event".

I wish the commentary would stop so we can enjoy the beautiful processional hymn.

The vestments for this Mass are red because that is the color for feasts of apostles. As successor to St. Peter, red is the color worn for funerals and memorials of popes.

I will be live blogging throughout the Mass.

Why wouldn't we expect Pope Benedict to be a man of love

On Sunday, my local paper printed an AP article that I found very dissapointing.

Talking about Pope Benedict being a man of contradiction. "The man described as the 'Dour Bavarian' wrote his first encyclical on love"

The article goes on to say,
"In his first year as Pope Benedict has confounded left and right through a handful of small yet significant changes that defy interpretation. He is very much his own unpredictable man.
Take for example that first encyclical, 'God is Love' and exploration of love and charity that focused on the different types of love - erotic and unconditional - that Benedict said were joined in marriage between man and woman."

To summarize "Deus Caritas Est" in such a way trivializes the main focus of it. Erotic love was only a portion of the encyclical. It was about all the various forms of love, which in English are all lumped together.

Pope Benedict of a man of great love. He grew up in a loving, a tight knit family. In his memoirs, he writes about the pain of leaving home for the seminary. Throughout his life, he has kept his family close to him. When he was a theology professor his parents to lived with him. He also writes about sitting at his parents bedsides as they died. Even now, he has given his brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, an apartment in the apostolic palace.
How can anyone doubt that Pope Benedict is a man of love.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Where were you

Where were you at 9:37 p.m. Rome time on this day, last year. I was praying the rosary for the Holy Father while watching the windows of Papal apartment on TV waiting for the announcement of Pope John Paul's death.

Today at the same time, I was doing almost the same thing. I was praying the rosary for while watching Pope Benedict sitting in the same window on Vatican TV.

Both times I burst into tears. I can't believe it has been a year since Pope John Paul II went home to our Father's house. The effect he has had on my life was immense. Even though we never met, I never even saw him except for on TV, he was my friend. Strangely, I miss him even though practically I talk with him daily, and unlike when he was alive, I know he hears me.

Santo Subito!

Photo by L'Osservatore Romano

Pope Benedict's Angelus Address

Saint Peter's Square
Fifth Sunday of Lent, 2 April 2006.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On 2 April last year, just as today, in these very hours and here in this very apartment, beloved Pope John Paul II was living the last stage of his earthly pilgrimage, a pilgrimage of faith, love and hope which left a profound mark on the history of the Church and of humanity. His agony and death constitute, as it were, an extension of the Easter Triduum.

We all remember the images of his last Way of the Cross on Good Friday: being unable to go to the Colosseum, he followed it in his Private Chapel, a cross in his hands. Then, on Easter morning he imparted the Urbi et Orbi Blessing, unable to speak, solely with the gesture of his hand. Let us never forget that Blessing. It was the most heartfelt and moving Blessing which he left us as the last testimony of his desire to carry out his ministry to the very end.

John Paul II died as he had always lived, inspired by the indomitable courage of faith, abandoning himself to God and entrusting himself to Mary Most Holy. This evening we will commemorate him with a Marian Prayer Vigil in St Peter's Square, where tomorrow afternoon we will celebrate Mass for him. A year after his departure from this earth to the Father's house, we can ask ourselves: what did this great Pope who led the Church into the third millennium leave us?

His legacy is immense but the message of his very long Pontificate can be summed up well in the words he chose to inaugurate it, here in St Peter's Square on 22 October 1978: "Open wide the doors to Christ!" (Inauguration Homily; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 2 November 1978, p. 12).

John Paul II incarnated this unforgettable appeal, which I feel resounding within me as if it were yesterday, in the whole of himself and in the whole of his mission as Successor of Peter, especially with his extraordinary programme of Apostolic Journeys. In visiting the countries of the entire world, meeting the crowds, the Ecclesial Communities, the Heads of Government, Religious Leaders and various social realities, he was making, as it were, a great gesture to confirm his initial words. He always proclaimed Christ, presenting him to everyone, as did the Second Vatican Council, as an answer to man's expectations, expectations of freedom, justice and peace. Christ is the Redeemer of man, he was fond of repeating, the one genuine Saviour of every person and the entire human race.

In his last years, the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, to make him fully resemble him. And when henceforth he could no longer travel or even walk, or finally even speak, his gesture, his proclamation, was reduced to the essential: to the gift of himself to the very end. His death was the fulfilment of a consistent witness of faith that moved the hearts of so many people of good will.

John Paul II departed from us on a Saturday dedicated especially to Mary, for whom he had always had a filial devotion. Let us now ask the heavenly Mother of God to help us treasure what this great Pope gave and taught us. H.B. Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans, and the Iraqi Bishops have addressed an appeal to the faithful, to believers and to people of good will, so that on 3 and 4 April - tomorrow and the day after tomorrow - they will join in prayer and fasting to ask God for the gift of peace and harmony in Iraq and throughout the world. It is as important appeal which touches our hearts. Also on my part, therefore, I ask everyone to adhere to this initiative of our brethren in this sorely tried Country, and I entrust this intention to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Peace. Let us live tomorrow and the day after tomorrow, then, as days of prayer and fasting for peace in Iraq and the entire world.

After the Angelus:
I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors gathered for this Lenten Angelus. My special greeting goes to the delegation of librarians from Ukraine. On this, the first anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II, let us commend his noble soul to God's loving mercy and pray that his tireless service to the Gospel will bear ever more abundant fruit for the Church's growth in faith, hope and love. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

I wish you all a good Sunday! See you tonight for the Rosary!

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Cardinal Dziwisz Recalls Polish Pontiff's Last Days

"He Did Not Fear Death"
ROME, MARCH 31, 2006 ( Here is an excerpt of the contribution of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz -- the longtime secretary to Pope John Paul II -- to the book "Lasciatemi Andare" (Let Me Go). The book is published in Italy by St. Paul's. * * *

John Paul II's profound union with God and his participation in the Paschal Mystery were revealed in all their fullness in the last days of his life. His body was ever weaker, but he remained strong in spirit and "loved to the end" (John 13:1). For the first time, the Pope was unable to preside over the rites of the Easter triduum.

"I am with you spiritually in the Colosseum," he wrote on Good Friday in the message addressed to all those taking part in the Way of the Cross, and added: "Adoration of the Cross invites us to a commitment from which we cannot dissociate ourselves: the mission that Saint Paul expressed with the words 'in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church' (Colossians 1:24). I also offer my sufferings so that God's plan will be fulfilled and his word spread among peoples."

He was seated before the altar of his private chapel; he followed the celebration on a television screen and prayed. At the 14th Station, he took the crucifix in his hands and brought it close to his face marked by suffering, as if, like Peter, he wished to say: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you" (John 21:17).

The love of Christ, stronger than death, comforted him in spirit and he would have liked to express it on Easter Sunday, when he appeared at midday to impart the blessing "urbi et orbi." Because of the commotion and suffering, however, he was unable to say the words; he only made the sign of the cross with his hand and responded with a gesture to the faithful's greetings.

This gesture of powerlessness, of suffering and of paternal love, as well as the moving silence of the Successor of Peter, left an indelible mark in the hearts of men throughout the world. The Holy Father was also profoundly disconcerted by this event. After moving away from the window, he said: "Perhaps it would be better that I die, if I cannot fulfill the mission entrusted to me," and immediately added: "Thy will be done ... 'Totus tuus.'" In his life he never wished for anything else.

He did not fear death. During his whole life he had Christ as his guide and knew that he was going to him. During the celebrations of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 he wrote in his testament: "I pray that he will call me when he himself wishes. 'If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord ... we are the Lord's' (Romans 14:8)." He had always been profoundly aware that man, at the end of the earthly pilgrimage, is not condemned to fall into darkness, into an existential void or into an abyss of nothingness, but is called to the encounter with the best of Fathers, who lovingly embraces his own son in his arms, to give him the fullness of life in the Most Holy Trinity.

Knowing that for him the time was drawing close to pass into eternity, in agreement with the doctors he decided not to go to the hospital, but to remain in the Vatican, where he was assured of the indispensable medical care. He wished to suffer and to die in his home, staying close to the tomb of the Apostle Peter. The last day of his life -- Saturday, April 2 -- he took leave of his closest aides from the Roman Curia. He took part in the prayer that continued at his bedside, despite his high fever and extreme weakness. In the afternoon, at a certain moment, he said: "Let me go to the Father's house."
Translation by Zenit

Cardinal Dziwisz

With this being the eve of the anniversary of Pope John Paul's death I have been watching some of the coverage on CNN. I can't help but feel sad when I see Cardinal Dziwisz talk about the Holy Father's last days. His love for him is always evident and was especially evident at the consistory. Arturo Mari and crew took a picture of Cardinal Dziwisz kissing John Paul's tomb which I saw at his office. It is such a moving picture.
I bought the picture of him recieving the biretta from Pope Benedict and both of them have tears in their eyes. It is such a moving picture. Pope John Paul was blessed with a wonderful, loving friend. I hope that Pope Benedict has a friend as good as Stanislaw Dziwisz was to Pope John Paul II.
Photo by Domini Sumus