Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Advent of Courage

We've all heard of conversion on the battlefield, but what happens when the battlefield is inside you? If you're already bracing yourself for the annual secular sabotage of Christmas spirit, then These Stone Walls has an Advent adventure for you. 


What do John Wayne and Pornchai Moontri Have In Common?

Posted: 29 Nov 2011 09:00 PM PST

conversion to Catholicism, courage of conversion, Fr. Gordon J. MacRae, Rev. Gordon MacRae, These Stone Walls, John Wayne, Pornchai Moontri, Father George W. MacRae, alcoholism, conversion, Catholic Mass, radical conversion, ordination to priesthood, addiction and despair, Catholic faith, Josephine Saenz, Father Matthew Munoz, Hollywood, Catholic Church, Shusuku Endo, Graham Greene, Ryan MacDonald, Bangkok Thailand, Pornchai's Story, prison, Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman

As Advent begins in the midst of some jarring changes and revisions in the Catholic Mass, I have been doing some thinking about the nature of change. In “February Tales,” an early post on These Stone Walls, I described growing up on the Massachusetts North Shore – the stretch of seacoast just north of Boston. My family had a long tradition of being “Sacrament Catholics.”

I once heard my father joke that he would enter a church only twice in his lifetime, and would be carried both times. I was seven years old, squirming into a hand-me-down white suit for my First Communion when I first heard that excuse for staying home. I didn’t catch on right away that my father was referring to his Baptism and his funeral. I pictured him, a very large man, slung over my mother’s shoulder on his way into church for Sunday Mass, and I laughed.

We were the most nominal of Catholics. Prior to my First Communion at age seven, I was last in a Catholic church at age five for the priesthood ordination of my uncle, the late Father George W. MacRae, a Jesuit and renowned Scripture scholar. My father and “Uncle Winsor,” as we called him, were brothers – just two years apart in age but light years apart in their experience of faith. I was often bewildered, as a boy, at this vast difference between the two brothers.

Going to Church

But my father’s blustering about his abstention from faith eventually collapsed under the weight of his own cross. It was a cross that was partly borne by me as well, and carried in equal measure by every member of my family. By the time I was ten – at the very start of that decade of social upheaval I described in “The Day the Earth stood Still” – life in our home had disintegrated. My father’s alcoholism raged beyond control, nearly destroying him and the very bonds of our family. We became children of the city streets as home and family faded away.

I have no doubt that many TSW readers can relate to the story of a home torn asunder by alcoholism, and some day soon I plan to write much more about this cross. But for now I want to write about conversion, so I’ll skip ahead.


As a young teenager, I had a friend whose family attended a small Methodist church. I stayed with them from time to time. They knew I was estranged from my Catholic faith and Church, so one Sunday morning they invited me to theirs. As I sat through the Methodist service, I just felt empty inside. There was something crucial missing. So a week later, I attended Catholic Mass – secretly and alone – with a sense that I was making up for some vague betrayal. At some point sitting in this Mass alone at age 14, I discovered that I was home.

My father wasn’t far behind me. Two years later, when just about everyone we knew had given up any hope for him, my father underwent a radical conversion that changed his very core. He admitted himself to a treatment program, climbed the steep and arduous mountain of recovery, and became our father again after a long, turbulent absence. A high school dropout and machine shop laborer, my father’s transformation was miraculous. He went back to school, completed a college degree, earned his masters degree in social work, and became instrumental in transforming the lives of many other broken men. He also embraced his Catholic faith with love and devotion, and it embraced him in return. That, of course, is all a much longer story for another day.

My father died suddenly at the age of 52 just a few months after my ordination to priesthood in 1982. I remember laying on the floor during the Litany of the Saints at my ordination as I described in “Going My Way,” a Lenten post last year. I was conscious that my father stood on the aisle just a few feet away, and I was struck by the nature of the man whose impact on my life had so miraculously changed. Underneath the millstones of addiction and despair that once plagued him was a singular power that trumped all. It was the sheer courage necessary to be open to the grace of conversion and radical change. The most formative years of my young adulthood and priesthood were spent as a witness to the immensity of that courage. In time, I grew far less scarred by my father’s road to perdition, and far more inspired by his arduous and dogged pursuit of the road back. I have seen other such miracles, and learned long ago to never give up hope for another human being.


A year ago this very week, I wrote “Holidays in the Hoosegow: Thanksgiving With Some Not-So-Just Desserts.” In that post, I mentioned that John Wayne is one of my life-long movie heroes and a man I have long admired. But all that I really ever knew of him was through the roles he played in great westerns like “The Searchers,” “The Comancheros,” “Rooster Cogburn,” and my all-time favorite historical war epic, “The Longest Day.”


In his lifetime, John Wayne was awarded three Oscars and the Congressional Gold Medal. After his death from cancer in 1979, he was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But, for me, the most monumental and courageous of all of John Wayne’s achievements was his 1978 conversion to the Catholic faith.

Not many in Hollywood escape the life it promotes, and John Wayne was no exception. The best part of this story is that it was first told by Father Matthew Munoz, a priest of the Diocese of Orange, California, and John Wayne’s grandson.

Early in his film career in 1933, John Wayne married Josephine Saenz, a devout Catholic who had an enormous influence on his life. They gave birth to four children, the youngest of whom,  Melinda, was the mother of Father Matthew Munoz. John Wayne and Josephine Saenz civilly divorced in 1945 as Hollywood absorbed more and more of the life and values of its denizens.

But Josephine never ceased to pray for John Wayne and his conversion, and she never married again until after his death. In 1978, a year before John Wayne died, her prayer was answered and he was received into the Catholic Church. His conversion came late in his life, but John Wayne stood before Hollywood and declared that the secular Hollywood portrayal of the Catholic Church and faith is a lie, and the truth is to be found in conversion.

That conversion had many repercussions. Not least among them was the depth to which it inspired John Wayne’s 14-year old grandson, Matthew, who today presents the story of his grandfather’s conversion as one of the proudest events of his life and the beginning of his vocation as a priest.

If John Wayne had lived to see what his conversion inspired, I imagine that he, too, would have stood on the aisle, a monument to the courage of conversion, as Matthew lay prostrate on the Cathedral floor praying the Litany of the Saints at priesthood ordination. The courage of conversion is John Wayne’s most enduring legacy.


The Japanese Catholic novelist, Shusaku Endo, wrote a novel entitled Silence (Monumenta Nipponica, 1969), a devastating historical account of the cost of discipleship. It’s a story of 17th Century Catholic priests who faced torture and torment for spreading the Gospel in Japan. The great Catholic writer, Graham Greene, wrote that Silence is “in my opinion, one of the finest novels of our time.”

Shusako Endo SilenceSilence is the story of Father Sebastian Rodriguez, one of those priests, and the story is told through a series of his letters. Perhaps the most troubling part of the book was the courage of Father Rodriguez, a courage difficult to relate to in our world. Because of the fear of capture and torture, and the martyrdom of every priest who went before him, Father Rodriguez had to arrive in Japan for the first time by rowing a small boat alone in the pitch blackness of night from the comfort and safety of a Spanish ship to an isolated Japanese beach in 1638 – just 18 years after the Puritan Pilgrims landed the Mayflower at Squanto’s Pawtuxet, half a world away as I describe in “The True Story of Thanksgiving.”

In Japan, however, Father Rodriguez was a pilgrim alone. Choosing to be left on a Japanese beach in the middle of the night, he had no idea where he was, where he would go, or how he would survive. He had only the clothes on his back, and a small traveler’s pouch containing food for a day. I cannot fathom such courage. I don’t know that I could match it if it came down to it.

But I witness it  every single day. Most TSW readers are very familiar with “Pornchai’s Story,” and with his conversion to Catholicism on Divine Mercy Sunday in 2010. Most know the struggles and special challenges he has faced as Ryan MacDonald described them in “Pornchai Moontri at the Narrow Gate” at his A Ram in the Thicket blog.

But the greatest challenge of Pornchai’s life is yet to come. In two years he will have served twenty-two years in prison – more than half his life, and half the original sentence of forty-five years imposed when he was 18 years old. In two years time, if many elements fall into place and he can find legal counsel, Pornchai will have an opportunity to seek some commutation of his remaining sentence based on rehabilitation and other factors.

It is a sort of Catch-22, however. Pornchai could then see freedom at the age of forty for the first time since he was a teen, but it will require entering a world entirely foreign to him. On the day Pornchai leaves prison – whether it is in two years or ten or twenty – he will be immediately taken into custody under the authority of Homeland Security and the Patriot Act, flown to Bangkok, Thailand, and left there alone. It is a daunting, sometimes very frightening future, and I am a witness to the anxiety it evokes.

For every long term prisoner, there comes a point in which prison itself is the known world and freedom is a foreign land. Pornchai has spent more than half his life in prison.

Even I, after seventeen years here, sometimes find myself at the tipping point, that precipice in which a prisoner cannot readily define which feels more like the undiscovered country – remaining in prison or trying to be free. I had a dream one night in which I had won my freedom, but entered a hostile world and Church in which I was a pariah, living alone and homeless in a rented room in hiding, pursued by mobs of angry Catholics.  I described one such dream in “Nightmares and Dreamscapes in the Desert” during Lent last year. I know well the anxious fears of all the prisons of men.

Pornchai was brought to the United States against his will at the age of eleven. That story is told in deeply moving prose by Pornchai himself in “Pornchai’s Story.” I think we became friends because by the strangeness of grace I knew only too well the experience of having the very foundations of life and family and all security fall out from under me. Pornchai spoke a language that I understood clearly. The transformation of pain and sorrow into the experience of grace is the realm of God, and enduring it to one day lead another out of darkness is a great gift. In the end, who can ever say what is good and what is bad? It is not suffering that is our problem, but rather what we do with it when it finds us.

But what Pornchai faces in the future is daunting. With no opportunity for schooling as an abandoned child in Thailand, he never learned to read and write in Thai and hasn’t heard the Thai language spoken since he was eleven. He remembers little of Thai culture, has no prospects to support himself, no home there, no contacts, and no solace at all. Like Father Rodriguez in Silence, Pornchai will be dropped off in a foreign country, and left to fend for himself with no preparation at all beyond what he can scrape up from behind prison walls in another continent. Welcome to the new America!

Pornchai’s options are limited. He can try to bring about this trauma sooner by seeking commutation of his sentence at an age at which he may still somehow build a life in Thailand. Or he can remain quietly in prison another decade or more, postponing this transition until he is much older, with fewer chances for employment, but perhaps can find connections in Thailand.

These are not great choices. “Pornchai’s Story” got the attention of the Thai government and the Cardinal Archbishop of Bangkok two years ago, but the Thai government has been in chaos since, and the Archbishop has retired. All overtures to both since 2009 have been met by silence.

So in the midst of all this dismal foreboding, and in the face of a future entirely unknown, and perhaps even bleak, Pornchai Moontri became a Catholic. He embraced a faith practiced by less than one percent of the people who will one day be his countrymen again, and in so doing, he piled alienation upon alienation.

And yet this man who has no earthly reason to trust anything to fate, trusts faith itself. I have never met a man more determined to live the faith he has professed than Pornchai Moontri. In the darkness and aloneness of a prison cell night after night for the last two of his twenty years in prison, Pornchai stares down the anxiety of uncertainty, struggles for reasons to believe, and finds them.

I am at a loss for more concrete sources of hope for Pornchai. But like Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, whom I have quoted so often, I believe that “I am a link in a chain; a bond of connection between persons.”

Someone out there holds good news for Pornchai – something he can cling to in hope. I await it with as much patience as I can summon. Pornchai awaits it with a singular courage – the courage of conversion that seeks the spring of hope in the winter of despair.


Editor’s Note: Several of you have expressed a desire to join Fr. MacRae in a Spiritual Communion. He celebrates a private Mass in his prison cell on Sunday evenings between 11 pm and midnight. You’re invited to join in a Holy Hour during that time if you’re able.

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Father Jozo Kovko is going to serve in Zagreb


Fr. Jozo Zovko

World-famous Medjugorje priest Fr. Jozo Zovko relocates from Austria to Croatia. From December or early next year he will live in the Franciscan monastery in Zagreb. Fr. Jozo has all the usual rights of a priest but has accepted not to talk about Medjugorje in public until the Vatican Commission has finished its work.

Before long Fr. Jozo Zovko will again be able to greet his Franciscan brothers in Croatian when he meets them in his home monastery.
After almost three years in Austria and on the island of Badija, Medjugorje’s parish priest by the time the apparitions began will soon relocate to Zagreb, the Croatian capital, well-informed sources tell Medjugorje Today. Fr. Jozo happily accepted the relocation that most likely will take place in December.
Though Fr. Jozo has full priestly faculties and may administer the Sacraments like every other priest, he has accepted his superiors’ wish that he does not give interviews or talks in public about the apparitions in Medjugorje or the Virgin Mary’s messages until the Vatican Commission on Medjugorje has arrived at a conclusion.


The Franciscan convent on Badija
“Father Jozo doesn’t take it as a punishment. He says he understands. He didn’t say he was happy with it, but he understands. He knows that it is the right thing to do” one source tells Medjugorje Today.
Known for his unusual charisms, inspired preaching and prophetic speech, Fr. Jozo has been much sought out by Medjugorje pilgrims ever since the early 1980s. For the past three years, though, only very little has been heard of the world-famous priest.
Overburdened with work, Fr. Jozo sought and received from his Order a sabbatical year in February 2009. Fr. Jozo spent the next six months in charge of the rebuilding of the historical Franciscan convent on the island of Badija off the Croatian coast. Fr. Jozo also helped the workers, and enjoyed to cultivate vegetables and fruits in the rich convent garden.
With winters slowing down the renovation of a convent without normal living quarters, Fr. Jozo having just a small room with very little comfort on Badija, in the late Summer of 2009 he arrived at the Franciscan monastery close to Graz, Austria. Since then Fr. Jozo has been going back and forth between Graz and Badija, according to seasons.

Though this brought Fr. Jozo back to the European mainland, it did not bring the pilgrims back to him. The three years out of public sight have been quiet and revitalizing:
“He did not want to bother his brothers at the monastery who had greeted him so warmly, and so he did everything he could to stay out of sight. He celebrated Mass with his brothers but also used this special time to pray and he took classes of theology that he took when he was young but now after all these years it was even more interesting, he loved it. Classes like Church history, Christian mysticism and other subjects” a well-informed source tells Medjugorje Today.

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November 30, 2011
Christmas tree

Image via Wikipedia

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the Christmas tree controversies hitting the states:
In Wisconsin, for the first time in years, they are reverting back to calling the Capitol Rotunda Christmas tree a Christmas tree: it was called a Christmas tree for 70 years until it was renamed a Holiday tree in the mid-1980s.  
In Rhode Island, Governor Lincoln Chafee has decided to continue the politics of intolerance by calling the Capitol Rotunda Christmas tree a Holiday tree. 
Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Madison, Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation explains why the Christmas tree in Wisconsin was rebranded the Holiday tree: "Calling it a Holiday tree was meant to be inclusive." Ironically, it has proven to be divisive—the uproar is in Rhode Island, not Wisconsin. 
According to the Providence Journal, 87 percent of the people in Rhode Island prefer to call the Christmas tree a Christmas tree; only 8 percent think it should be called a Holiday tree. In Wisconsin, there is no discord: calling the Christmas tree a Christmas tree has brought people together. Which is why Rhode Island should learn a lesson in civility and community by calling its Christmas tree a Christmas tree.
By the way, what holiday does the Holiday tree represent? Try asking Governor Chafee's spokesperson, Christine Hunsinger.

Contact our director of communications about Donohue’s remarks:
Jeff Field
Phone: 212-371-3191

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Mary TV Daily Reflection 11/30/2011

English: Our Lady of Međugorje Italiano: Nostr...

Image via Wikipedia

November 30, 2011

St. Andrew


Dear Family of Mary!


"Dear children! I thank you for your prayers and for the love you show toward me. I invite you to decide to pray for my intentions. Dear children, offer novenas, making sacrifices wherein you feel the most bound. I want your life to be bound to me. I am your Mother, little children, and I do not want Satan to deceive you for He wants to lead you the wrong way, but he cannot if you do not permit him. Therefore, little children, renew prayer in your hearts, and then you will understand my call and my live desire to help you. Thank you for having responded to my call." (July 25, 1993)


In this message from 1993 Our Lady urges us to offer novenas! She urges us to use this little method of prayer, in which we take nine days and set them aside to pray in a special way. The novena is often focused on a feast day of a saint or a special day in the Church year. Our present novena is focused on the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We are praying for Our Lady's intentions and for a deeper understanding of our own conceptions and the joy of our creation by God.


To help us go deeper into the mystery of Our Lady's conception and our own, I want to quote from Fr. Jacques Philippe. In his book Called to Life, he writes about the healing of our identity, which includes understanding our creation, our conception:


God's Word, transmitted by Scripture, helps us to live as the children of God that we are. Discovering this profound identity is imperative, for otherwise we are in danger of adopting false identities unable to withstand the trials that inevitably lie ahead. God's Word, addressed to us by the father, tells us who and what we truly are.


Two fundamental words constitute our identity. The first word, as we already have seen, is the Word of creation that drew us from nothingness into being - God's animating, tender, merciful word, "See, I want you to live!" Creation, however, is not just a past event. It is God's continuing action sustaining us in existence. If God were to stop loving us and thinking of us for even one second, we would return to nothing. We are recipients and interlocutors of this creative word all through our lives.


The second word is the one inscribed upon us at baptism. It extends and deepens the Word of creation by giving us a much fuller life - the life of grace, filial adoption in Christ, participation in the life of the Trinity. We hear it in Scripture, especially on the occasion of Jesus' baptism: "You are my beloved son in whom I am well pleased" (Mark 1:11). The same might be said 


Image by aronki via Flickr

of us in virtue of our own baptism by which we become children in the Son.


All God's Words support us and invite us fully to become the filial life given us in Christ. They contain a gift and a call: the gift of being God's children and the call to grow in openness to the gift by cultivating simplicity, confidence, resignation, acceptance of the divine will, and thanksgiving. The spiritual life is something like a memory game whose objective is to re-establish contact especially with the two grace-filled words that already dwell in us and constitute our identity, in order to make them living and fruitful.


All this has enormous importance today, when many people no longer know to what or to whom they owe their existence. Anguish and insecurity and a sense of emptiness are the result. "Scientific", atheistic culture encourages one to imagine that existence is the product of blind determinism (evolution, the mindless interaction of genes, and so forth) or a more or less haphazard coming together of a man and a woman who made love without any thought of the new life that might come into existence. Often enough, in fact, that new life is seen as a failure of contraception. (I know someone whose life began when a condom ruptured.) Psychologists speak of the "survivor's syndrome" visible in the angst of a child born into a family in which there were several abortions: "Why is it that I escaped and not the others?"


Add to that the impact of being told that earth is only a small planet near an unremarkable star, in a remote corner of one galaxy among billions, and that the difference between humans and animals is not as great as we once thought, and how can anyone feel loved and wanted? The universe could get along without us. Humans are useless products of an impersonal cosmos. If contemporary secular culture makes anything clear, it is this: The rejection of God breeds self-disgust.


The only remedy for this wound to human consciousness is the sense of our filiation, the discovery of our divine parentage. Whatever the circumstances of my conception and birth, my existence itself means that I was wanted, chosen, and loved by an unimaginably tender, pure, unconditional, and generous lover: our creator God. How urgently we need to regain contact with our origins in the creative act of God!


The Word of God offers us this contact. Scripture gives us access to the word already mysteriously inscribed within us: "I said to you: Live!" (Ezek 16:6)

(Father Jacques Philippe. Called to Life. Scepter Publishers. 2008. P. 49-52)


Father Philippe is so right. We need to know that we are God's children. God called us into being at our conception, and He has never left our side. He has great plans for us, if only we can connect with Him, and receive His love. We need no longer be bound by fear or sadness, by doubt about our self-worth or our identity. We are children of God with eternity as our future. We are loved and desired by the One who made us. And Our Lady in her Immaculate Conception is for us a beacon of hope and a glimpse into our future! She is drawing us into our rightful place in the Kingdom of God, through love.


The Novena continues:


Prayer to the Immaculate Conception
O God,  who by the Immaculate Conception  of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son,  we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain,  so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You.  Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.  Amen.


Day Two

O Mary, ever blessed Virgin, Mother of God, Queen of angels and of saints, we salute you with the most profound veneration and filial devotion as we contemplate your holy Immaculate Conception, We thank you for your maternal protection and for the many blessings that we have received through your wondrous mercy and most powerful intercession. In all our necessities we have recourse to you with unbounded confidence. O Mother of Mercy, we beseech you now to hear our prayer and to obtain for us of your Divine Son the favor that we so earnestly request in this novena...(State your intention here...) 
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be God's Will.  Amen.

Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (found at: )


In Jesus, Mary and Joseph!

Cathy Nolan


Zemanta helped me add links & pictures to this email. It can do it for you too.

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Saint Andrew the Apostle [video]

VISnews 11/30/2011 First Catechesis on Jesus' prayer



11.30.2011 – Twenty-First Year – Num. 210







- Christians Are Called to Be Witnesses of Prayer

- Encouraging Initiatives to Eliminate the Death Penalty

- Catholics and Orthodox Face the Same Challenges

- Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for December

- Other Pontifical Acts

- In Memoriam






VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - This morning's general audience was celebrated in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of 5,500 faithful. Having recently completed a series of catecheses dedicated to prayer in the Old Testament, the Pope today began a new cycle on the subject of the prayer of Christ which, he said, was "like a hidden canal irrigating His life, relationships and actions, and guiding Him with increasing firmness to the total gift of self, in keeping with the loving plan of God the Father".


  One particularly significant moment of prayer followed the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. This, the Pope noted, poses a query as to why Jesus, Who was without sin, should have chosen to submit Himself to John's Baptism of penance and conversion. John the Baptist himself raised the question, saying "I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?". The Holy Father explained how "by emerging Himself in the Jordan River, Jesus ... expressed His solidarity with people who recognise their sins, who chose to repent and change their lives. He helps us to understand that being part of the people of God means entering into a new life, a life in conformity with God. By this gesture Jesus anticipated the cross, beginning His active life by taking the place of sinners, bearing the weight of the sin of all humankind on His shoulders".


  By praying after His Baptism, Jesus demonstrates His intimate bond with the Father, "experiencing His paternity and apprehending the demanding beauty of His love. Speaking to God, Jesus receives confirmation of His mission", with the words that resound from on high: "This is my son, the Beloved" and with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon Him. "Through prayer", the Pope said, "Jesus lives in uninterrupted contact with the Father in order to achieve His project of love for mankind". It is in this profound union with the Father that Jesus made the move for the hidden life of Nazareth to His public ministry.


  Jesus' prayer had its roots in His family, deeply attached to the religious tradition of the People of Israel, but its "most profound and essential origin is in the fact that He is the Son of God, in a unique relationship with God the Father". In the Gospel narratives "the setting for Jesus' prayers always stands at the crossroads between the traditions of His people and the novelty of a personal and unique rapport with God. The 'deserted place' to which He often retired, the 'mountain' He ascended to pray and the 'night' which gave Him solitude, all recall phases of God's revelation in the Old Testament and indicate the continuity of His plan of salvation".


  "Jesus' prayer enters into all stages of His ministry and into every day of His life. It is not interrupted by fatigue. Quite the contrary, the Gospels make it clear that Jesus was wont to spend part of the night in prayer, ... and when the decisions to be taken become more urgent and complex, His prayer becomes longer and more intense".


  "Contemplating Jesus' prayer, we should ask ourselves how we pray", said Benedict XVI, "and how much time we dedicate to our relationship with God". In this context he highlighted "the importance of the prayerful reading of Holy Scripture. ... Listening, meditating and remaining in silence before the Lord is an art we learn through constant practice", he said.


  Christians are today called "to be witnesses of prayer, because our world often remains closed to the divine, to the hope which leads to the encounter with God. Through profound friendship with Jesus, by living in Him and with Him as children of the Father, through faithful and constant prayer, we can open ourselves to heaven and God. Indeed, by following the paths of prayer, ... we can also help others to follow them".


  In conclusion, the Holy Father exhorted the faithful "to maintain an intense relationship with God, to pray, not intermittently but constantly and faithfully, so as to illuminate our lives as Jesus taught us. And let us ask Him to help us communicate with those around us, with those whom we meet on our journey, transmitting to them the joy of meeting the Lord, light of life".

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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Following his catechesis this morning, the Holy Father delivered greetings in various languages to groups attending his general audience.


  Speaking English to delegations from a number of countries participating in a meeting being promoted by the Sant'Egidio Community on the theme "No Justice without Life", he said: "I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty and to continue the substantive progress made in conforming penal law both to the human dignity of prisoners and the effective maintenance of public order".


  He then turned to greet students of the Pontifical French Seminary in Rome, and a delegation from the French diocese of Belley-Ars accompanied by Bishop Guy Bagnard, who have come to Rome with a portrait of St. John Mary Vianney for the Vatican Basilica in commemoration of the Year for Priests. "Following the example of St. John Mary Vianney", he told them, "let us rediscover the importance of prayer in our lives".


  The Holy Father also welcomed nuns of the Congregation of Daughters of Divine Charity who, accompanied by Cardinal Vinko Puljic, archbishop of Vrhbosna, Bosnia Herzegovina, have come to Rome on a pilgrimage of thanksgiving for the recent beatification in Sarajevo of five members of their order martyred during World War II. "Grateful for their witness, let us pray to God to give us the courage to persevere in our service", the Pope said.


  Finally, he thanked representatives of the Italian Federation of Bakers for their gift of a number of "panttoni" which will be used for the Pope's charity.

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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, is leading a delegation sent by the Holy See to Istanbul to participate in celebrations marking the Feast of St. Andrew, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople. The Holy See and the Patriarchate exchange regular annual visits for the feast days of their respective patrons.


  The Holy See delegation to this year's celebration - which coincides with the twentieth anniversary of the election of His Holiness Bartholomew I as Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople - is made up of Cardinal Koch; Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity; Fr. Andrea Palmieri, an official of the same dicastery, and Archbishop Antonio Lucibello, apostolic nuncio to Turkey. The group attended a divine liturgy celebrated by Bartholomew I in the patriarchal church of Fanar, then met with the Patriarch and the synodal commission which oversees relations with the Catholic Church.


  Cardinal Koch gave Bartholomew I a gift and a message from the Holy Father. In the message, which was read out at the end of the divine liturgy, Benedict XVI recalls his most recent meeting with the Patriarch during last month's Day of Prayer for Peace in the Italian town of Assisi. "I give thanks to the Lord for having allowed me to strengthen the bonds of sincere friendship and true brotherhood which unite us, and to bear witness before the entire world to the broad vision we share".


  The message continues: "The present cultural, social, economic, political and religious circumstances place exactly the same challenges before Catholics and Orthodox. Announcing the mystery of salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ needs to undergo deep renewal in many regions which once accepted the light but are now suffering the effects of secularisation which impoverishes man in his deepest dimension. Faced with this emergency we must show all mankind that we have achieved a maturity in the faith, that we are capable of coming together despite human tensions, thanks to our joint search for truth and with the awareness that the future of evangelisation depends upon the witness of unity and the level of charity the Church can show".


  The Pope concludes by asking the Lord that, through the intercession of Sts. Andrew, Peter and Paul, both Church may receive "the gift of unity which comes from on high".

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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - Benedict's general prayer intention for December is: "That all peoples may grow in harmony and peace through mutual understanding and respect".


  His mission intention is: "That children and young people may be messengers of the Gospel and that they may be respected and preserved from all violence and exploitation".

BXVI-PRAYER INTENTIONS/                 VIS 20111130 (70)




VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The Holy Father:


 - Appointed Bishop Jose Francisco Rezende Dias of Duque de Caxias, Brazil, as metropolitan archbishop of Niteroi (area 4,722, population 2,206,000, Catholics 1,185,959, priests 139, permanent deacons 59, religious 269), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Alano Maria Pena O.P., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.


 - Appointed Bishop Esmeraldo Barreto de Farias of Santarem, Brazil, as archbishop of Porto Velho (area 84,696, population 664,958, Catholics 598,000, priests 29, permanent deacons 1, religious 128), Brazil. He succeeds Archbishop Moacyr Grechi O.S.M., whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same archdiocese the Holy Father accepted, upon having reached the age limit.


 - Appointed Bishop Nicholas Mang Thang of Hakha, Myanmar, as coadjutor archbishop of Mandalay (area 212,407, population 9,078,000, Catholics 23,617, priests 57, religious 173), Myanmar, and as apostolic administrator "sede vacante et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis" of Hakha.


 - Erected the new diocese of Gaoua (area 10,411, population 260,550, Catholics 19,074, priests 14, religious 24) Burkina Faso, with territory taken from the diocese of Diebougou, making it a suffragan of the metropolitan church of Bobo-Dioulasso. He appointed Fr. Modeste Kambou, vicar general of the diocese of Diebougou, as first bishop of the new diocese. The bishop-elect was born in Bouti, Burkina Faso in 1963 and ordained a priest in 1991. He has worked as parochial vicar, and as professor and later director of the minor seminary of St. Tarcisius of Kakapele.


 - Accepted the resignation from the office of auxiliary of the diocese of Osnabruck, Germany, presented by Bishop Theodor Kettmann, in accordance with canons 411 and 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.

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VATICAN CITY, 30 NOV 2011 (VIS) - The following prelates died in recent weeks:


 - Bishop Luigi Belloli, emeritus of Anagni-Alatri, Italy, on 5 November at the age of 88.


 - Archbishop Oscar Rolando Cantuarias Pastor, emeritus of Piura, Peru, on 7 November at the age of 80.


 - Bishop Domenico Tarcisio Cortese, emeritus of Mileto-Nicotera-Tropea, Italy, on 11 November at the age of 80.


 - Bishop Justo Oscar Laguna, emeritus of Moron, Argentina, on 3 November at the age of 82.


 - Bishop Jean-Paul Randriamanana, auxiliary of Antananarivo, Madagascar, on 9 November at the age of 61.


 - Bishop Crescenzio Rinaldini, emeritus of Aracuai, Brazil, on 24 October at the age of 85.


 - Archbishop Hector Rueda Hernandez, emeritus of Medellin, Colombia, on 1 November at the age of 90.


 - Bishop Ricardo Watty Urquidi M.Sp.S. of Tepic, Mexico, on 1 November at the age of 73.


 - Bishop Dieudonne Yougbare of Koupela, Burkina Faso, on 4 November at the age of 94.

.../                                                                                                      VIS 20111130 (170)




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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Vatican's Cardinal Piacenza points priests to Mary for Advent


.- Catholic priests should ask the Virgin Mary for a heart able to “relive Christ’s coming” during Advent this year, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza said.

The cardinal, who serves as prefect for the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, said in his Nov. 27 Advent message to priests that Mary lived “constantly in prayerful vigilance.”

“In vigilance, she received the announcement that changed the history of humanity. In vigilance, she kept and contemplated, more than any other, the Almighty who became her Son,” he said.

Cardinal Piacenza noted that Mary was also prayerfully vigilant as she became “filled with loving and grateful wonder” while giving birth “to the Light Himself and, together with St. Joseph, became a disciple of Him to whom she had given birth.”

“In the vigilance of her maternal heart, Mary followed Christ right up to the foot of the cross where, in the immense sorrow of a pierced heart, she accepted us as her new sons,” he added. “In vigilance, she waited with certainty for the Resurrection and was assumed into Heaven.”

The cardinal emphasized that Christ constantly watches over his Church as well as every priest, who are each called to live the same vigilance as the Blessed Mother.

He added that priests should contemplate how Jesus has “radically and definitely” changed them through their ordination.

Cardinal Piacenza also recalled how the Virgin Mary faithfully lived “the duty of being the Mother of the Almighty.” Her Immaculate Heart was open to the “possible” and to the manifestation of God’s will in all circumstances, both the daily and the unexpected, he said.

Mary’s assent at the Annunciation encourages priests to be faithful to their assent to their own ordination, the cardinal noted. Her example in the Visitation to St. Elizabeth encourages priests to live in “divine intimacy” so that they can bring Christ’s presence to others.

From heaven, Mary keeps priests in Christ’s memory and she “continually opens the possibility of Divine Mercy to us.”

Cardinal Piacenza assured priests of his “special remembrance” for them in the celebration of Mass. He also asked for prayerful support for his own ministry.


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Medjugorje Headline: It Was Like Time Stopped and We Were in Heaven


Special Report from visit of Medjugorje visionary Marija in Mexico City, October 20, 2011, with pictures and testimonies

Her Presence Among Us: The Greatest Hope

Marija speaks at a residence in Mexico City after a private apparition.


Read this beautiful article here:

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Mary TV Daily Reflection 11/29/2011

November 29, 2011

First Tuesday of Advent

Mary Mother Of Jesus Vector Illustration

Image by Vectorportal via Flickr


Dear Family of Mary!


"Dear children! Today I desire to give you hope and joy. Everything that is around you, little children, leads you towards worldly things but I desire to lead you towards a time of grace, so that through this time you may be all the closer to my Son, that He can lead you towards His love and eternal life, for which every heart yearns. You, little children, pray and may this time for you be one of grace for your soul. Thank you for having responded to my call."(November 25, 2011)


Today we can begin a novena in honor of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary! Nine days of prayer to Our Lady ending on her special feast day! I think it would be great to pray this novena, asking that we can receive the grace of this time, the grace for our souls to draw close to Jesus.


It is also a beautiful time to contemplate the incredible miracle of conception. We all were conceived! We are all miracles of God's love. At the moment of our conception God leaps down with His love and grace, endowing us with our soul and giving us all the gifts and talents that we can use to praise Him and serve Him for eternity! We are not mistakes, no matter the circumstances. From that very moment when we begin life, God is calling us and rejoicing in us, desiring us to love Him and live with Him forever.


Some of us need healing from that earliest of moments. This novena would be a good time to ask for healing of our memories in terms of our conception. Did we feel loved and wanted at that moment? Did we come into a violent or angry situation? Did we enter into a broken family? Was our mother or father ill or sad? Whatever the brokenness, it can be revealed and healed through prayer. Our Lady wants us to enter into the grace of this time. Part of that grace is our healing, deep within, so tha

Corcovado jesus

Image by doug88888 via Flickr

t we can accept love and accept our lives as the gifts they are.


Let's pray for each other for healing of memories in terms of our conception, and rejoice with Our Lady at her incredibly holy and healthy conception, provided for her by her Son, Jesus, in advance through His redemptive death. (This always turns me around a little, but it does make sense!) Mary is such a sign of hope for us. She can help us grasp the hope we are given in Christ, and be healed of any shadows that try to cover our conceptions with lies. God loves us infinitely, and we are His little children. Our conceptions are all joy!


Here is the first day of the Novena. (I found this on the EWTN website, and the link to it is below. It contains the Prayer to the Immaculate Conception, a daily prayer, and the Litany)


O God,  who by the Immaculate Conception  of the Blessed Virgin Mary, did prepare a worthy dwelling place for Your Son,  we beseech You that, as by the foreseen death of this, Your Son, You did preserve Her from all stain,  so too You would permit us, purified through Her intercession, to come unto You.  Through the same Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end.  Amen.


Day One

O most Holy Virgin, who was pleasing to the Lord and became His mother, immaculate in body and spirit, in faith and in love, look kindly on me as I implore your powerful intercession. O most Holy Mother, who by your blessed Immaculate Conception, from the first moment of your conception did crush the head of the enemy, receive our prayers as we implore you to present at the throne of God the favor we now request... (State your intention here...) 
O Mary of the Immaculate Conception, Mother of Christ, you had influence with your Divine Son while upon this earth; you have the same influence now in heaven. Pray for us and obtain for us from him the granting of my petition if it be the Divine Will. 


Litany of the Blessed Virgin

Lord, have mercy on us
Christ, have mercy on us
Lord, have mercy on us
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, ...
Holy Trinity, one God, ...

Holy Mary, pray for us
Holy Mother of God, pray for us
Holy Virgin of virgins, ...
Mother of Christ, ...
Mother of Divine Grace, ...
Mother most pure, ...
Mother most chaste, ...
Mother inviolate, ...
Mother undefiled, ...
Mother most amiable, ...
Mother most admirable, ...
Mother of good counsel, ...
Mother of our Creator, ...
Mother of our Savior, ...
Virgin most prudent, ...
Virgin most venerable, ...
Virgin most renowned, ...
Virgin most powerful, ...
Virgin most merciful, ...
Virgin most faithful, ...
Mirror of justice, ...
Seat of wisdom, ...
Cause of our joy, ...
Spiritual vessel, ...
Vessel of honor, ...
Singular vessel of devotion, ...
Mystical rose, ...
Tower of David, ...
Tower of ivory, ...
House of gold, ...
Ark of the covenant, ...
Gate of heaven, ...
Morning star, ...
Health of the sick, ...
Refuge of sinners, ...
Comforter of the afflicted, ...
Help of Christians, ...
Queen of Angels, ...
Queen of Patriarchs, ...
Queen of Prophets, ...
Queen of Apostles, ...
Queen of Martyrs, ...
Queen of Confessors, ...
Queen of Virgins, ...
Queen of all Saints, ...
Queen conceived without original sin, ...
Queen assumed into heaven, ...
Queen of the most holy Rosary, ...
Queen of Peace, ...

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord, Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.

Grant we beseech Thee, O Lord God,  that we, Thy servants,  may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body:  and, by the glorious intercession of the blessed Mary, ever Virgin, be delivered from present sorrow and enjoy eternal gladness.  Through Christ, our Lord.  Amen.


You can find the whole novena here:



In Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!

Cathy Nolan

©Mary TV 2011


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Advent Meditation #3

By St. Alphonsus de Liguori


Motives of Confidence that are given to us by the Incarnation of the Word.

Quomodo non etiam cum illo omnia nobis donavit?
"How hath he not also, with him, given us all things? (Rom. 8:32)

Consider, my soul, that the eternal Father, in giving us His beloved Son for our Redeemer, could have given us no stronger motives for confiding in His mercy and loving His infinite bounty; for He could have given us no more certain token of the desire He has for our good, and of the immense love which He bears us, inasmuch as in giving us His Son, He has nothing left to give us. Let all men, therefore, O eternal God, praise Thy infinite charity.

How hath He not also, with Him, given us all things?
Since God has given us His Son, whom He loved as Himself, how can we fear that He will deny us any other good that we ask of Him? If, therefore, He has given us His Son, He will not refuse us pardon for the offenses which we have committed against Him, provided we detest them; He will not refuse us the grace to resist temptations, if we implore it of Him; He will not refuse us His Paradise, if we do not render ourselves unworthy of it by falling into sin. Behold how Jesus Himself assures us of this: "If you ask the Father anything in My name, He will give it you." (John 16:23)

Encouraged, therefore, O my God, by this promise, I beg of Thee, for the love of Jesus Thy Son, to pardon me all the injuries that I have done Thee; give me holy perseverance in Thy grace until death; give me Thy holy love; may I detach myself from everything to love Thee alone, O infinite Goodness; give me Paradise in order that I may come and love Thee there with all my strength, and forever, without fear of ever ceasing to love Thee.


In a word, the Apostle says that, having obtained Jesus Christ, we have been enriched with every good, so that there is no grace wanting to us: In all things you are made rich in Him . . ., so that nothing is wanting to you in any grace. (I Cor. 1:5)
Madonna and child, chiaroscuro woodcut, by Bar...Image via Wikipedia

Yes, my Jesus, Thou art every good; Thou alone sufficest me; for Thee alone do I sigh; if once I drove Thee away from me by my sins, I repent of it now with my whole heart. Forgive me, and return to me, O Lord; and if Thou art already with me, as I hope, leave me not again, or, rather, suffer me not to drive Thee away from my soul again. My Jesus, my Jesus, my treasure, my love, my All, I love Thee, I love Thee, and will love Thee forever. O Mary, my hope, make me always to love Jesus.

[From 'The Incarnation, Birth and Infancy of Jesus Christ.']

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AMERICA/COLOMBIA - The Holy Father prays for peace in Colombia, the Church continues to promote dialogue

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - After yet another armed confrontation between the army and rebels, a few days ago, where 4 prisoners of the FARC were killed, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the Holy Father Benedict XVI learned with sorrow this tragic news and called for an end to violence in Colombia. The Embassy of Colombia to the Holy See sent the following note to Fides: "The Holy Father is saddened by this tragic news, he prays for the families of the victims and for the beloved people of Colombia at this time of suffering and calls for an end to violence".
According to the Minister of Defense of Colombia, Juan Carlos Pinzon, the FARC rebels have killed four prisoners in a field in the region of Solano, in southern Colombia, shortly after taking command of the guerrillas on behalf of the new leader, Timoleon Jimenez. Alfonso Cano, who had led the FARC since 2008, died on November 4, in a clash with government forces in Colombia.
The official report says that three of the hostages were police officers and the fourth was a soldier, Jose Libio Martinez, the oldest prisoner of the FARC, captured 14 years ago in a guerrilla attack against a military base. Two of the three policemen were taken prisoner by the guerrillas for more than 13 years. A fifth hostage was found alive.
In his first message since he has taken over the leadership of the FARC, Timoleon Jimenez told the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, "we must all die". Pope Benedict XVI has launched several appeals for peace in Colombia since the beginning of his Pontificate, and the local Catholic Church has always shown its willingness to encourage a path of peace and dialogue between all armed groups in the country (see Fides 08/11/2011). They are numerous initiatives of the Church to form peace and create a common understanding for peaceful coexistence in the country (see Fides 14/10/2011, 13/09/2011, 12/08/2011, 03/08/2011). (CE) (Agenzia Fides 29/11/2011)

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