"To be actively pro-life is to contribute to the renewal of society through the promotion of the common good. It is impossible to further the common good without acknowledging and defending the right to life, upon which all the other inalienable rights of individuals are founded and from which they develop." ~ Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.101
Everything is grace, everything is the direct effect of our Father's love.Everything is grace because everything is God's gift.Whatever be the character of life or its unexpected events -- to the heart that loves, all is well.
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"I love the zeal Jean puts into her posts, especially when it comes to the prolife movement." Esther, A Catholic Mom in Hawaii.
"Jean of Catholic Fire...provides so much informative content. She posts about pro-life issues and events, what happened 'on this day', biographies of saints, prayer intentions, and lots more each day. No matter what she's posting about, I can always come away each day feeling uplifted...and that's saying a lot for me, as I'm someone who often tries to avoid thinking about some of the political and other issues that she posts about. It must be her strong faith and trust in God, as well as her love, shining through her posts, that inspire me." Margaret Mary Myers , Reflections, Catholic BVI Readers, VIP Homeschooler.
The Community of St. John has initiated a new summer program, known as Ecclesia. The website describes the program as a place where the Saints of the Third Millenium are formed and the protagonists of a New Evangelization can come to pray, study, and live in the “deep waters” of Catholic Faith.
In response to Pope John Paul II’s call to a New Evangelization, Ecclesia offers the opportunity to earn undergraduate, graduate, or continuing education credits, all while experiencing a summer of prayer, study, evangelization, and fellowship with other young people from across the country. Ecclesia seeks to especially serve those young people who are looking for a deeper and more intense experience of Christ and His Church.
Persons of a variety of backgrounds and interests will join the Brothers and Apostolic Sisters of the Community of Saint John from June 30-August 4. The Ecclesia program kicks off with four days of back-packing in the North Dakota Badlands. Its purpose is to form leaders and new evangelizers: those wanting to be Saints wherever they find themselves in the Church.
Wednesday of Holy Week is traditionally known as "Spy Wednesday" because on this day Judas made a bargain with the high priest to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. In other words, Judas was spying on Jesus. Readings for Wednesday of Holy Week
We are healed by His bruises! O heavenly Physician, who takes upon Himself the sufferings of those He comes to cure! But not only was He bruised for our sins, He was also slaughtered as a lamb; and this not merely as a Victim submitting to the inflexible will of His Father who hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all, but (as the prophet here assures us) because it was His own will. His love for us, as well as His submission to His Father, led Him to the great Sacrifice. Observe, too, how He refuses to defend Himself before Pilate, who could so easily deliver Him from His enemies: He shall be dumb as a lamb before his shearers, and He shall not open His mouth. Let us love and adore this divine silence, which works our salvation. Let us not pass over an iota of the devotedness which Jesus shows us—a devotedness which never could have existed save in the heart of a God. Oh! how much He has loved us, His children, the purchase of His Blood, His seed, as the prophet here calls us. O holy Church! thou long-lived seed of Jesus, who laid down His life, thou art dear to Him, for He bought thee at a great price. Faithful souls! give Him love for love. Sinners! be converted to this your Savior; His Blood will restore you to life, for if we have all gone astray like sheep, remember what is added: The Lord hath laid upon Him the iniquity of us all. There is no sinner, however great may be his crimes, there is no heretic, or infidel, who has not his share in this precious Blood, whose infinite merit is such, that it could redeem a million worlds more guilty even than our own. — The Liturgical Year, Abbot Gueranger O.S.B. The special prayer either before or after the Wednesday evening meal is a selection from Psalm 21, in which we see through the eyes of David the picture of Christ suffering for us on the Cross. Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week: Psalm 21:23-32
I will proclaim your name to my brethren: in the midst of the assembly I will praise you; "You who fear the Lord, praise him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to him; revere him, all you descendants of Israel! For he has not spurned nor disdained the wretched man in his misery Nor did he turn his face away from him, but when he cried out to him, he heard him." So by your gift will I utter praise in the vast assembly; I will fulfill my vows before those who fear him. The lowly shall eat their fill; they who seek the Lord shall praise him: "May your hearts be ever merry!" All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord; All the families of the nations shall bow down before him. For dominion is the Lord's and he rules the nations. To him alone shall bow down all who sleep in the earth; Before him shall bend all who go down into the dust. And to him my soul shall live; my descendants shall serve him. Let the coming generation be told of the Lord that they may proclaim to a people yet to be born the justice he has shown.
Prayer Source: Lent and Holy Week in the Home by Emerson and Arlene Hynes, The Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1977
April 16th marks Benedict XVI's 87th birthday. It will be the first time he will celebrate the big day as Pope Emeritus at the Vatican. Since last year, for his birthday he was just a few miles away at Castel Gandolfo.
Even though a public celebration is unlikely this year, Joseph Ratzinger has had a full list of unforgettable birthdays, with music being the one common denominator.
He's seen it all...From Germany's Stuttgart Radio Symphonic Orchestra performing for him at the Vatican.
Then all the way to the White House, where he celebrated his birthday with president George W. Bush and the first lady.
But sometimes there's no better company than family. Whenever possible Benedict XVI has made it a point to celebrate his birthday with his older brother Georg. Back in 2012, for his 85th birthday the two brothers celebrated the Pope's birthday with traditional folk music from their native Bavaria, complete with costumes and dancing.
This was actually the last birthday celebration Benedict XVI had as the head of the Catholic Church. But birthdays are always a great excuse for a party...Benedict XVI hosted his brother's 90th birthday at the Vatican, with a classical music concert.
All in all, Benedict XVI celebrated a total of seven birthdays as the head of the Catholic Church. Now on his 87th birthday, classical concerts or not, he will continue to make history as the only Pope Emeritus on earth.
The saint of the day for April 12 is St. Julius, a Roman who was chosen Pope on February 6, 337. Julius succeeded Pope Saint Mark, who had only reigned as pope for nine months. Immediately after taking office, Julius was involved with the Arian controversy. When Arians removed Anthanius of Alexandria from office and exiled him, Julius defended him and gave him refuge in Rome. He called a synod in 340 to clear him of charges brought against him and to affirm the right of bishops to appeal to the pope for redress. Eusebius of Nicomedia was against the return of Anthanasius so he and his followers elected George for the see of Alexandria. However, the Arians in Egypt wanted another man, named Pistus, to be bishop. They pleaded with Julius to bring Pistus into communion with Rome.
In a letter to the Eusebian bishops, Julius declared Athanasius the rightful bishop of Alexandria and reinstated him. Julius, who died on April 12, 352, is credited with the reorganizing of the papal chancery.
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Friday reiterated human life is sacred and inviolable during a meeting with Italy’s Pro-Life Movement (Movimento per la Vita), adding every civil right is based on the “first and most fundamental right,” the right to life: which is not subordinate to any condition, neither qualitative, nor economic, much less ideological.
The Holy Father said one of the most serious risks of the present age is the divorce between economics and morality, so that as the market gives us every technical innovation, it neglects more and more elementary ethical standards.
“It is must be therefore reiterated the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless life, and the unborn child in the womb is the most concrete example of innocence,” said Pope Francis. “Let us remember the words of the Second Vatican Council: From the moment of its conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.” ( Gaudium et Spes, 51).
Pope Francis said for a Christian, it is a part of the witness of the Gospel to protect life with courage and love in all its stages.
“I encourage you to always act with a style of nearness, of closeness: that every woman feels regarded as a person who is heard, accepted, and accompanied,” he said.
Pope Francis also showed gratitude for two specific activities of the Pro-Life Movement: The “Gemma Project”, which works with woman facing crisis pregnancies; and the “One of Us” Campaign, which is a European Union Citizens’ Initiative requesting the prohibition of EU financing of activities which involve the destruction of human embryos, especially in the areas of research, development cooperation and public health.
Dozens of families and wailing children welcomed Pope Francis as he addressed Italy's Movement for Life at the Clementine Hall.
In his remarks, the Pope once again brought up the "throw-away” culture, and the threat it poses to life, in all its stages.
"One of the greatest risks we are exposed to today, is the divorce between economy and morality; between the possibilities offered by a market, stocked with each technological advancement, and the elementary ethical norms of human nature, increasingly neglected. It is then necessary to reiterate our strongest opposition to each direct attack on life, especially the innocent and defenseless.”
The Pope concluded that each Christian has the responsibility to protect life. He asked that they do it with attentiveness and proximity to women, so they don't feel neglected or alone.
Today the Church celebrates St. Gemma Galgani, virgin, mystic, and patron of pharmacists.
Gemma Galgani was born in Lucca, Italy on March 12, 1878, the fourth of eight children. Her mother, who had been a very caring woman, died at the age of thirty - five when Gemma was only seven.
For the next eighteen years the family experienced much grief and misfortune. Gemma looked after her brother who had tuberculosis and who died when he was eighteen. Her father was a prosperous pharmacist but the prolonged illness of others in the family was a drain on his resources and the family was reduced to poverty. To add to this, Gemma's father developed cancer of the throat and Gemma nursed him with great care until his death.
Gemma had an immense love for the poor, and helped them in any way she could. After her father's death, the nineteen - year -old Gemma became the mother of her seven brothers and sisters.
At age 20, Gemma, who from an early age had known loss and bereavement, developed a curvature of the spine. Also, meningitis set in and left her deaf. Large abscesses formed on her head, her hair fell off, and her limbs became paralyzed. A doctor examined her and attempted many remedies which all failed. She only grew worse. Her condition was such that she was helpless and dependent on others. By praying a novena to St. Gabriel of the Sorrowful Mother (who was then Venerable Gabriel) she was miraculously cured.
Gemma bore the stigmata, receiving the wounds of Christ on her hands and feet each Thursday evening through Friday afternoon beginning in June 1889 and continuing into 1901. As a visionary, she saw her guardian angel daily, who protected and consoled her, and occasionally scolded her for her faults.
Gemma had a profound prayer life and a deep union with God. She attended Mass twice a day, while receiving communion once. She faithfully said her rosary, and in the evening, went to vespers. She never neglected any of her other duties.
In 1902, Gemma in good health since her miraculous cure, gave herself to God as a victim soul, offering her suffering for the salvation of souls. Jesus accepted her offer. She then became seriously ill. Though briefly recovering her health, through Divine Providence, she soon became ill again.
She died at on Holy Saturday, April 11, at the age of 25 and was canonized just 37 years after her death.
Quote:“If you really want to love Jesus, first learn to suffer, because suffering teaches you to love.”
O Blessed Trinity, We thank You for having graced the Church with Pope John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your Fatherly care, the glory of the cross of Christ, and the splendor of the Holy Spirit, to shine through him. Trusting fully in Your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd and has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you. Grant us, by his intercession, and according to Your will, the graces we implore, hoping that he will soon be numbered among your saints. Amen.
Litany to the Venerable Blessed John Paul II
Christ hear us, Christ graciously hear us
God the Father of heaven, have mercy on us
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us
Blessed, John Paul II, pray for us
Perfect disciple of Christ
Generously gifted with the gifts of the Holy Spirit
Great apostle of Divine Mercy
Faithful Son of Mary
Totally dedicated to the Mother of God
Persevering preacher of the Gospel
Pope of the Millennium
Model of industry
Model of priests
Drawing strength from the Eucharist
Untiring man of prayer
Lover of the rosary
Strength of those doubting their faith
Desiring to unite all those who believe in Christ
Converter of sinners
Defender of the dignity of every person
Defender of life from conception to natural death
Praying for the gift of parenthood for the infertile
Friend of children
Leader of youth
Intercessor of families
Comforter of the suffering
Manly bearing his pain
Sower of divine joy
Great intercessor for peace
Pride of the Polish nation
Brilliance of the Holy Church
That we may be faithful imitators of Christ
That we may be strong with the power of the Holy Spirit
That we may have trust in the Mother of God
That we may grow in our faith, hope, and charity
That we may live in peace in our families
That we may know how to forgive
That we may know how to bear suffering
That e may not succumb to the culture of death
That we may not be afraid and courageously fight off various temptations
That he would intercede for us the grace of a happy death
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us
During his daily morning Mass at Casa Santa Marta, Pope Francis was crystal clear: he said the Devil exists and that he doesn't want anyone to follow Christ.
"Some of you might say: ‘But Father, you really are old fashioned, talking about the devil in the 21st century!’ But watch out because the Devil exists! The Devil exists…Even in the 21st Century! And we mustn't be naive, eh? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against him.”
Pope Francis added that temptation always tends to grow. He highlighted that it is key to know how to stop it, so that it does not become "a flood of water.”
EXCERPT OF THE POPE'S HOMILY
Source: Vatican Radio
"We too are tempted, we too are the target of attacks by the devil because the spirit of Evil does not want our holiness, he does not want our Christian witness, he does not want us to be disciples of Christ. And what does the Spirit of Evil do, through his temptations, to distance us from the path of Jesus? The temptation of the devil has three characteristics and we need to learn about them in order not to fall into the trap. What does Satan do to distance us from the path of Jesus? Firstly, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing. Secondly, it grows and infects another person, it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community. And in the end, in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself. It grows, it spreads and it justifies itself.”
"We have a temptation that grows: it grows and infects others. For example, let’s look at gossip: I’m a bit envious of this or that person and at first I’m just envious inside and I need to share it and go to another person and say: "But have you seen that person?’.. and this gossip tries to grow and infects another and another… This is the way gossip works and all of us have been tempted to gossip! Maybe not one of you, if you’re a saint , but I too have been tempted to gossip! It’s a daily temptation. And it begins in this way, discreetly, like a trickle of water. It grows by infecting others and in the end it justifies itself.”
"We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ. Maybe some of you might say: ‘But Father, how old fashioned you are to speak about the devil in the 21st century!’ But look out because the devil is present! The devil is here… even in the 21st century! And we mustn't be naive, right? We must learn from the Gospel how to fight against Satan.”
Polish priest Slawomir Oder is one of the people that best knows John Paul II. As the postulator for his sainthood cause, Fr. Oder has been in charge of presenting the facts proving Karol Wojtyla led a holy life.
FR. SLAWOMIR ODER
Postulator, Sainthood Cause of John Paul II
"We find ourselves before a giant that has impacted us. He was the Church's shepherd for almost 30 years, sowing with generosity.”
The postulator said that John Paul II thought he would be remembered for a topic close to home in people's everyday lives.
FR. SLAWOMIR ODER
Postulator, Sainthood Cause of John Paul II
"During the long years of his pontificate, he touched on many topics, many issues. However, he himself said that he would liked to be remembered, if ever the Church remembered him, he wanted to be thought of as the Pope of Life and the Family.”
In fact, the two miracles that cleared the path of his beatification and canonization dealt with life and the family.
For his beatification, religious French woman Marie Simon-Pierre, who worked at a maternity center, was cured of Parkinson’s.
Meanwhile, for the canonization, the miracle attributed to him was the healing of Floribeth Mora, who prayed so that her husband, kids and grandkids would not be left without a wife, mother and grandmother.
But Fr. Oder said that the majority of letters that he receives are to thank John Paul II for his intercession in the reconciliation of couples, or the birth of a child.
FR. SLAWOMIR ODER
Postulator, Sainthood Cause of John Paul II
"After John Paul II's funeral, many families had a gift, a child. They named their child after John Paul II, with names like Charles, Carolina, John or John Paul, there were so many cases like this.
An exampled comes to mind from this German couple who wrote a beautiful letter of their account. They described a family crisis, and how they overcame it by listening to John Paul II's catechesis on the family. In particular, the series of catechesis titled 'Man and Woman created them,' on the theology of the body.”
For the upcoming canonization, Fr. Oder distributed thousands of photos of John Paul II. Several of them even include a small piece from one of his cassocks, so that a large number people can take with them a piece of the Pope they've known most of their lives.
The saint of the day for April 11, is St. Stanislaus, the Bishop of Cracow, Poland. A champion of the liberty of the Church and of the dignity of man, he defended the lonely and the poor. When he reproached King Boleslaus II for his immoral life, the king himself killed him during Mass.
Stanislaus was born in 1030 and was educated at Gnesen and at Paris. After his ordination to the priesthood he was made a canon of the cathedral at Cracow as well as archdeacon and preacher. Upon the death of the bishop of Cracow, he was nominated bishop of the diocese by Pope Alexander II.
The king at the time, Boleslaus II, trying to strengthen his own power, led an expedition against the grand duchy of Kiev, making himself very unpopular with the nobles of the country, who opposed his policies. St. Stanislaus of Cracow sided with the nobles, led by the king's brother, Ladislaus, and this brought him into conflict with the king.
Stanislaus had opposed the king before for his tyrannical ways and once confronted him boldly for his immoral behavior when Boleslaus had abducted the wife of a Polish nobleman and carried her off to his castle. No one seemed willing to face the king from a fear of his rage, but Stanislaus boldly went to the king and threatened excommunication if he did not change his ways. Furious, the king promised revenge on the bishop. Later, Stanislaus sided with the nobles in their opposition to the king's political policies, and the king accused him of being a traitor and condemned him to death.
At first the king commanded his soldiers to kill the bishop when he was celebrating Mass at St. Michael's chapel in Cracow, but the soldiers refused, fearing to bring down upon themselves the wrath of God. Undeterred, the king himself entered the church, drew his sword, and killed the bishop, ordering his soldiers to dismember the body.
Pope Gregory VII placed the country under interdict and Boleslaus fell from power, fleeing to Hungary, where he entered the monastery of Osiak to do penance for his crime. Stanislaus, canonized by Pope Innocent IV in 1253, is one of the patron saints of Poland.
~ The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens Patron: Archdiocese of Cracow, Poland; Poland.
The Synod on the Family is still about six months away, but organizers are already hard at work.
In November, the Vatican issued a 38-question survey to all bishops' conferences around the world-all 114 of them. At this point, organizers say, 84 percent have sent in their results.
CARD. LORENZO BALDISSERI
Secretary-General, Synod of Bishops
"This is a record number. It's truly exceptional. In the past, or in other circumstances, it's never happened before. One week after January 31, we had already received 70 percent. For us, that was enough to start working, and to give us a base to put things together.”
The purpose of the survey is to gather information on the modern day challenges families face and how the Church can address them.
Everything from the knowledge Catholics have on Church doctrine to their country's laws and personal opinions on same sex unions.
The Cardinal says the goal is for Catholics to express their views, arguments and plausible solutions. The actual Synod will look into much more information than just the survey.
CARD. LORENZO BALDISSERI
Secretary-General, Synod of Bishops
"There's still a lot of work to be done, because they have to integrate the survey into the program, but they're also looking at different studies carried out by universities and other groups. So the final version of the document should be presented to members of the Synod in the month of May.”
The Synod will be divided in two parts. The first one will take place from October 5th to the 19th at the Vatican and the second one in 2015. After that, the Pope will present a list of recommendations so that the Church can better address issues pertaining to the family.
St. Fulbert was a scholar, philosopher and bishop of Chartres, France, who defended monasticism and orthodoxy. He was born in Italy in the 10th century and studied at Rheims, France, under the celebrated philosopher Gerbert, who later became Pope Sylvester II. Gerbert took Fulbert to Rome with him. After the Pope’s death, the bishop of Chartres made Fulbert the chancellor of the cathedral, and soon Chartres became one of the best learning centers in France.
He wrote a number of poems and hymns, many of them about the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he was greatly devoted.
He was eventually named bishop of Chartres in 1007 and had the cathedral rebuilt after a fire destroyed it. He died in 1029.
For about 25 minutes, Pope Francis made several rounds along St. Peter's Square to greet all the people in his general audience.
In fact, the Pope recognized an old friend. He stopped the popemobile, waited for him to jump the fence and had a quick chat with him in Spanish, while his team waited.
Afterward, once the friend got off, he continued his rounds on the popemobile, and he even told this to a pilgrim.
"Francis, you're one of a kind”
"So are you. There's no other person like you.”
The Pope began his catechesis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He explained the difference between wisdom and knowledge. Between seeing things through the eyes of mankind, and seeing it through the eyes of God.
"Sometimes we value things depending on our pleasure or depending on the mood of our hearts, with love or even with hate, or envy. No! This is not seeing things through the eyes of God.”
He said the gifts of the Holy Spirit come through prayer, closeness and communion with God. The Pope explained that being open to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, can change lives.
"This wisdom teaches us to see things through the eyes of God. To feel things through the heart of God. To speak with the Word of God. So, it's through this wisdom that we move forward, building a family and building our Church.”
In light of the recent murder of a 75 year old missionary priest in Syria, the Pope prayed for father Frans van der Lugt and all the civilians who are suffering the pains of that war.
"I think of those who've been kidnapped, Christians, Muslims, Syrians and from other countries. Among them, bishops and priests.”
There were roughly 45,000 people out in the Square on Wednesday. Among them, front and center were a delegation representing Italian marines, who also got a greeting from the Pope.
In his weekly general audience, the Pope described the Holy Spirit as a 'gift from God' that's born from prayer and communion. To see things through the eyes of God, he explained, comes precisely from the wisdom of the Holy Spirit.
The Church has traditionally recognized seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
SUMMARY OF POPE'S CATECHESIS IN ENGLISH:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we begin a series of catecheses on the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is himself the "gift of God” (cf. Jn 4:10), the presence of God’s love in the Church and in our hearts. Based on a messianic prophecy of Isaiah, the Church has traditionally distinguished seven gifts of the Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord.
The first of these is wisdom. As a spiritual gift, this wisdom is an interior light, a grace enabling us to contemplate all things with the eyes of God and a heart docile to the promptings of the Spirit. Born of closeness to God in prayer and loving communion, it helps us to recognize with joyful gratitude his providential plan for all things. Christian wisdom is thus the fruit of a supernatural "taste” for God, an ability to savour his presence, goodness and love all around us. How much our world needs the witness of such wisdom today! Let us pray for this gift, so that, rejoicing in the Holy Spirit, we can be true men and women of God, transparently open to his own wisdom and the power of his saving love.
Speaker: I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Sweden, Norway, Finland, the Philippines, Zimbabwe, Australia and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke the gifts of the Holy Spirit for a fruitful celebration of this coming Holy Week. God bless you all!
The saint of the day for April 9 is St. Waudu. Also known as St. Waltrude, she came from an extremely saintly family in Belgium. Her parents, her husband and her three children were declared saints. Her husband was the Count of Hennegau - and after their children were born, she convinced him to become a monk. He later founded an abbey at Haumont.
She gave away all of her possessions, built a small house and lived alone. However, many people still sought her wisdom and advice. Eventually, she had so many followers that she had to have a monastery built, around which the current town of Mons developed. By the time of her death in 688, she had become famous for her charity and her miraculous healings.
She is the patron saint of Hainault, Belgium and Mons, Belgium.