Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Cardinal Biffi's Lenten Talk on the Antichrist

To the Pope, from Zenit, quoting Soloviev:

According to Vatican Radio's summary of his preaching, the cardinal explained that "the teaching that the great Russian philosopher left us is that Christianity cannot be reduced to a set of values. At the center of being a Christian is, in fact, the personal encounter with Jesus Christ."

Quoting the work "Three Dialogues on War, Progress and the End of History," Cardinal Biffi told his listeners that "the Antichrist presents himself as pacifist, ecologist and ecumenist."

"He will convoke an ecumenical council and will seek the consensus of all the Christian confessions, granting something to each one. The masses will follow him, with the exception of small groups of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants," he said.

The cardinal added that Solovyov says in that work: "Days will come in Christianity in which they will try to reduce the salvific event to a mere series of values."

No cross

In his "Tale of the Antichrist" Solovyov foresees that a small group of Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants will resist and will say to the Antichrist: "You give us everything, except what interests us, Jesus Christ."

For Cardinal Biffi, this narrative is a warning: "Today, in fact, we run the risk of having a Christianity which puts aside Jesus with his cross and resurrection."

The 78-year-old cardinal said that if Christians "limited themselves to speaking of shared values they would be more accepted on television programs and in social groups. But in this way, they will have renounced Jesus, the overwhelming reality of the resurrection."

The cardinal said he believes that this is "the danger that Christians face in our days … the Son of God cannot be reduced to a series of good projects sanctioned by the prevailing worldly mentality."

However, "this does not mean a condemnation of values, but their careful discernment. There are absolute values, such as goodness, truth, beauty," Cardinal Biffi said. "Those who perceive and love them, also love Christ, even if they don't know it, because he is Truth, Beauty and Justice."

The preacher of the Spiritual Exercises added that "there are relative values, such as solidarity, love of peace and respect for nature. If these become absolute, uprooting or even opposing the proclamation of the event of salvation, then these values become an instigation to idolatry and obstacles on the way of salvation."

Cardinal Biffi affirmed that "if Christianity -- on opening itself to the world and dialoguing with all -- dilutes the salvific event, it closes itself to a personal relationship with Jesus and places itself on the side of the Antichrist."

"Who are you, Moses?

The quote is from Schindler's List. Now to my application of the Scriptures to the news of the day:

From Jude 1:9:

But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

Playmate Burial Dispute Back in Court

Just bury the poor girl, stop fighting over the body!

This Lent, Empty Your Closets!

Then what?

Donations Central is an index of charities that accept clothing donations. Each charity profile contains a brief description and contact information. We aim to make it as easy as possible to find a group in need to donate your clothing.

What I'm Reading Now

Someone asked me, based on the post below, what in fact I am reading right now:

This is a series of lectures that Soloviev gave that read like Scripture. Tolstoy and Dostevyesky attended the lectures. They are amazing!

Essentially a work of moral theology/philosophy packed with great insights. I quote from this work in my Lenten Meditation for the First Sunday of Lent here:

Solovyov posits two rules in this regard:
"Have God in you." (God wants to be in communion with us. He wants to fulfill the desire He has placed in our hearts for Him.)
"Regard everything in God's way."(And here Solovyov means "everything," even evil, of which he says:"We must regard evil in God's way, i.e. without being indifferent to it, we must rise above absolute opposition to it and allow it--when it does not proceed from us--as means of perfection, in so far as a greater good can be derived from it. (The Justification of the Good" )

I've read about half of this so far, which actually is great Lented reading because the first half deals with Prayer, Alsmgiving and Fasting--the prayer chapter is masterfully done using the Lord's prayer which I think shows the genius of Soloviev--for when the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray that is what he did and Soloviev shows how each petition of the Our Father teaches us how to pray to God.

All of Soloviev's writings make a great supplement to a modern writer who I've mentioned before on this blog, Fr. Tadeusz Dajczer. His:
is a life changing book, read some of the comments on the Amazon page.

Cardinal Biffi's Talk on Soloviev

Currently, I'm reading three books by Vladimir Soloviev (is name is spelled differently in English in all three), this is a preliminary report on Cardinal Biffi's remarks, hopefully I'll find more posted later.

From Papa Ratzger Forum:

Today, it was that of the Russian philosopher Vladimir Sergeyevich Soloviev, who died on the threshold of the 20th century. It was a century whose viscissitudes and troubles he had prophesied, a century whose events and dominant ideologies contradicted all that was most relevant and original in his teachings.

The great theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar considered Soloviev's thinking "the most universal creative speculation of the modern era" and considered him on par with St. Thomas Aquinas.

Biffi recalled some of Soloviev's 'prophetic' visions, and said, that the prevalent attitudes today were farthest from Soloviev's vision of reality, even among Christians who work for and are acculturated to the Church.

He said these atttiudes ranged from selfish individualism to moral subjectivism, to pacifism and non-violence - confused with the Gospel ideals of peace and brotherhood - which leads to bowing down to the powerful, leaving the weak and the honest defenseless.

Of Soloviev, Biffi had written in a lecture celebrating the centenary of his birth: "A passionate defender of man, he was allergic to any philanthropy. He was an indefatigable apostle of peace, but an adversary of pacifism; advocate of unity among Christians but critical of any irenism; in love with nature but far from sharing today's ecological infatuation: in short, a friend of truth and an enemy of ideology. And today we have extreme need of men who can inspire and guide like Vladimir Soloviev."

The Pope's Lenten Retreat

By all accounts a great retreat. I would note that it seems taht Cardinal Biffi has really aimed this retreat at the pope, especially in the first conference where there seems to be a direct remark about what Cardinal Ratzinger had often said about the church being reduced to a "small flock." Read the summaries for your own mini-retreat.

How they are reporting about it in Italy....from the Papa Ratzinger Forum:

Here is a translation of how the Italian service of Vatican Radio reported on the first three meditations led by Cardinal Biffi:

  • The existence of an invisible world, which implies the presence of divine creatures ignored and derided by the culture of positivist scientism,
  • The need to convert hearts so they may consciously choose God rather than evil,
  • And thus, in this context, the value of repentance with respect to the sense of sin, and the value of the life we live with the hope that there is something beyond rather than nothing -

These were some of the themes elaborated by Cardinal Giacomo Biffi, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, in the first three meditations he prepared for the Lenten spiritual exercises at the Vatican for the Pope and the Roman Curia. The exercises started yesterday afternoon at the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Alessandro Caroli of Vatican Radio reports further:

By his very nature, man strives to conceive the existence of an 'invisible world', the hypothesis of 'another world' outside the perception of our senses, Biffi observed. To exclude prejudicially the existence of a beyond is an irrational attitude - because man, who is not omniscient, cannot presume to state with certainty what he can neither touch nor see, and and to exclude the idea of a beyond would mean, substantially, condemning himself to a life that has no sense. But even the believer, says Biffi, risks reducing the breadth of divine things to to the measure of his own misery. In summary, this was the premise for the first Lenten meditation proposed by Cardinal Biffi Sunday afternoon at the start of the annual Lenten retreat for the Pope and the Roman Curia. The sign that one takes the 'invisible world' seriously, he said,is if one takes the world of angels seriously. He stigmatized the mentality today for whom the hidden reality of angels is among the most derisive concepts, because that mentality is not inclined to think at all about 'higher things.' ['Things above' or 'Higher things' is the theme of this year's retreat.] But if one considers these 'higher realities', then, Cardinal Biffi says, the Christian will lose his fear that the Church is being reduced to a small flock compared to the forces that undermine it, because he will see the Church for what it is: part of a very crowded community that inhabits the space between earth and heaven.

In the two meditations on Monday morning, Cardinal Biffi dwelt on two aspects of the faith that call for particular reflection duting Lent; conversion - and therefore, the sense of sin and of redemptive repentance; and death itself as redemption. The liturgy of Lent, Biffi said, in the first of the Monday meditations, derives from a sentence that represents the opening of Jesus's public preaching, "Repent and believe in the Gospel." Therefore, he said, Lent is not the time for the believer to determine 'if' there is something he needs to change in himself, but rather 'what' he should change, or convert from a state of error to one of grace. And conversion - which is a change of direction in one's journey through life - starts from the heart, from internal repentance. If the disciple of Christ firmly renounces sin, it doesn't detract at all from the certainty of divine mercy, and authentic repentance will inevitably beer fruit in joy. Biffi noted that today, there is no sense of repentance because the sense of sin itself has been lost. But this is not really true, he said with some irony, because our era is marked by the continuous denunciation of wrongdoing in the media and public tribunals. Which means that the sense of sin exists, but a sense of the sins committed by others. Onthe contrary, he said, redemptive repentance lies in recognizing one's mistakes, because dissociating oneself from sin is in itself coming closer to God who is the antithesis of evil, and in doing so, we can better perceive the imminence of His kingdom.

Biffi's take-off for the third meditation was the imposition of ashes at the start of Lent - and the sentence that accompanies the rite ("Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return"). In a world that does not recognize the invisible world, he said, death is defeat. And a life which, according to that mentality, is destined to end in nothingness, also renders itself empty - because according to this vision, the most perverse existence and the most generous would both be rewarded smilarly, with nothingness. And so, that mentality almost denies death itself by not talking about it. The growing number of suicides, like the death of some teenagers who just came back from a discotheque [referring to some fresh news in Italy] are the tragic emblems of lives spent senselessly. But such a void, life without sense, is absurd for the human mind, Biffi said. And this is where the evangelical message makes a profound difference. The Christian does not censor the thought of death, he is not ashamed of feeling dismayed by the thought, because the Lord too felt all these apprehensions. Biffi said the ministers of the Church must be able to combat the conditioning that avoids a serious reflection on death. Man, he said, should be led to choose not between an unknown future and a present life of enjoyment, but between a life devoid of sense which ends in nothingness, or the hope of an event that will give us both a sense for our earthly life and a goal which is resurrection. The Resurrection of Christ is a reality that can be opposed to the ineluctable and experiential fact of death. And that is why, he said, ashes can never be dissociated from Easter. Ashes symbolize not so much what we will become, but what we could become if we do not open our hearts to the invisible world which encompasses the event of Salvation. And also, that life without God would be a flame that can only end in a handful of ashes.

An Inconvenient Truth for Al

Gore home's energy use: 20 times average

Titanic Stupidity

Mike Aquilina comments on Cameron's latest stupidity, while at the same time making mention of a short visit we had the other day. Mike's blog is an excellent resource as well as a timely place to check up on all things the early Fathers (and Mothers) of the Church.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The Future of the Catholic Church in the U.S.

Moving South...

For those who know their history, this is a case of "back to the future"--since the South was orignally a Catholic stronghold under the Spanish and French.

From The Daily Dispatch:

For every Boston, there is a Knoxville, Tenn. For every Philadelphia, there is a Savannah, Ga.

"The church is closing parishes in the Northeast, but Catholics are building them in the South and the Southwest," said Wagner. "We know that a lot of that is driven by immigration and population trends. ... So if you really want to know where Catholicism is alive and where it's struggling, you can't just look at membership statistics. You have to ask other questions."

New Padre Pio???

From Catholic News:

The British Daily Telegraph reports that like Padre Pio, who displayed stigmata for the last 50 years of his life, Br Elia, whose face, hands and feet appear covered in blood each Lent is revered by fans from the country's poorest to World Cup-winning footballer Francesco Totti.

Yesterday was supposed to be a chance for as many as 10,000 people, including visitors from Britain, to meet Br Elia, 45, at the headquarters of the Jesuit movement in Naples.

Now that Lent has begun, time is running out to see him before he takes to his bed over April to undergo his annual torment.Instead, his appearance was cancelled at the last minute by the Catholic Church, which is concerned about the rapid spread of Br Elia's fame.

The Vatican is reported to have asked Br Elia not to give interviews or to hold any public religious services until it has made up its mind on the veracity of his stigmata.

The Myth of Muslim Support for Terror

From The Christian Science Monitor:

Those who think that Muslim countries and pro-terrorist attitudes go hand-in-hand might be shocked by new polling research: Americans are more approving of terrorist attacks against civilians than any major Muslim country except for Nigeria.

The survey, conducted in December 2006 by the University of Maryland's prestigious Program on International Public Attitudes, shows that only 46 percent of Americans think that "bombing and other attacks intentionally aimed at civilians" are "never justified," while 24 percent believe these attacks are "often or sometimes justified."

Contrast those numbers with 2006 polling results from the world's most-populous Muslim countries – Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Nigeria. Terror Free Tomorrow, the organization I lead, found that 74 percent of respondents in Indonesia agreed that terrorist attacks are "never justified"; in Pakistan, that figure was 86 percent; in Bangladesh, 81 percent.

Monday, February 26, 2007

3,000 Celebrate 40th Anniversary of the Charismatic Renewal

In Detroit, from the Archdiocese of Detroit site:

Fr. Cantalamessa, 73, had his own Charismatic experience of being baptized in the Holy Spirit 30 years ago, and was appointed to his post with the Holy See in 1980 by Pope John Paul II, then reconfirmed in his position by Pope Benedict XVI.
He told the gathering the best way to prepare for a new Pentecost was to study the opening chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, in which the original Pentecost is described.
Traditional Western and Eastern depictions of that event at which the Holy Spirit descended on a rather sedate gathering of the Apostles do not seem to match the event as he understands it, Fr. Cantalamessa said.

More on the "Finding of Jesus' Tomb"

From the archeologist who oversaw the excavation of the tomb some twenty-seven years ago, as reported in Newsday:

But Bar-Ilan University Professor Amos Kloner, a Jerusalem archeologist who officially oversaw the work at the tomb in 1980 and has published detailed findings on its contents, dismissed the claims."It makes a great story for a TV film," he told The Jerusalem Post Saturday night.

"But it's impossible. It's nonsense," he said.

Now: Some Ponder If Jesus Could Be Cloned

Read my post yesterday on the Discovery Channel program and then of course my first question this morning when I read this was where are you going to get the DNA from? Their answer:

What if you found skin cells from Jesus on the Shroud of Turin or on a shard of the cross?Could you clone God?That's the question raised in three new books--"In His Image: Book One of the CloneChrist Trilogy" by James BeauSeigneur; "The Jesus Thief," by J.R. Lankford; and "Cloning Christ," by Peter Senese and Robert Geis.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Latest Outrage--The Tomb of Jesus and Mary Magdalene?

Since the Discovery Channel is carrying this garbage, you might expect that their take on it would be the most outlandish. The tomb in question was discovered twenty-seven years ago and if it were anywhere near as spectacular as they are claiming in this piece you would be hearing about it on all the cable networks around the clock (it would bump Anna Nicole's lack of a tomb coverage), and the networks as well. So what we have is someone who is going to do a lot of conjecturing and in the end a lot of blaspheming for those of us who worship the Son of God.
One other note about this, what is the DNA they are matching the bodies to, something they got from the Shroud of Turin?

From the Discover Channel:

New scientific evidence, including DNA analysis conducted at one of the world's foremost molecular genetics laboratories, as well as studies by leading scholars, suggests a 2,000-year-old Jerusalem tomb could have once held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth and his family.
The findings also suggest that Jesus and Mary Magdalene might have produced a son named Judah.
The DNA findings, alongside statistical conclusions made about the artifacts — originally excavated in 1980 — open a potentially significant chapter in Biblical archaeological history.
A documentary presenting the evidence, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," will premiere on the Discovery Channel on March 4 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. The documentary comes from executive producer James Cameron and director Simcha Jacobovici

For an intelligent, quick overview of the Mary Magdalene saga, check out Amy's:

De-coding Mary Magdalene: Truth, Legend, And Lies

Book Review-Short Podcast

Lenten Meditation: First Sunday of Lent

At Lenten Meditations along with a podcast at the same site.

Podcast of the Daily Office of Readings here.

Daily Lenten Meditations in Book Form by me:

The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

The Open Book/Annunciations Bestseller's List

Our Bestseller's List
What Books People who Read Amy's Open Book blog and Michael's Annunciation blog are Buying

February 2007 (2/24/2007)

1. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

2. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

3. The Gift of Faith

4. The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection

5. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

Books that Spark the Most Interest (for this month so far):

1. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

2. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

3. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

4.*Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians

5.*Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence

*People ultimately don't buy the book, (although a few people have since this list first appeared last week).

Today's Feast


Saturday, February 24, 2007

A Story on the Men's Conference in Milwaukee

I'll be at the one in Cincinnati next Saturday signing books, along with Coach Danny Abramowicz at the Our Sunday Visitor booth...

From the Milwaukee Catholic Journal:

Following lunch, Danny Abramowicz, a former member of the New Orleans Saints (1967-1973) and the San Francisco 49ers (1973-1974) and special teams coach for the Chicago Bears and offensive coordinator for the Saints, also used sports metaphors to convey his message on the need for spiritual workouts.A spiritual workout, said Abramowicz, should begin with stretching out in prayer, developing the habit of prayer. Choose a regular time and find a place to pray, even if for five to 10 minutes a day, he said.

The second step in Abramowicz’s spiritual workout is jogging to Mass.

“If I told you that Jesus Christ was going to be at Lambeau Field or Miller Park today, we’d have a stampede of people trying to get there,” he said. “But guess what? Jesus Christ is going to be right here with us at Mass.”Why wouldn’t we go regularly to Mass, if we truly believe it is Jesus in the Eucharist?" He asked.

Q. Little Time to Read? A. Pocket Guides

Our Sunday Visitor is launching a series of pocket guides and I noticed this morning that one of them that will be released next month is already on the Catholic Bestseller's list on Amazon--namely the one written by Dr. Peter Kreeft. Here is the one by him and the others that will be coming out next month:

A Pocket Guide to the Meaning of Life by Peter Kreeft

A Pocket Guide to Purgatory by Patrick Madrid

A Pocket Guide to the Mass by Michael Dubruiel

And the one pocket guide that was released last year:

A Pocket Guide to Catholic Apologetics by Patrick Madrid

And this Fall they will release:

A Pocket Guide to Confession by Michael Dubruiel

Along with two others that still are being finalized by two very popular Catholics in the U.S.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Mepkin Abbey Counters PETA Accusations of Animal Cruelity

The Post and Courrier has the story. The Monk's website has a statement which in part reads:

It has always been Mepkin Abbey's purpose to provide the healthiest environment for our chickens, to treat them as one of God's precious creatures and to offer to consumers the best possible product for their health and enjoyment. That is precisely why we moved to the cage arrangement over 30 years ago, and why we have continued with it to the present. Cages provide hens protection from predators, soil-borne diseases, and diseases that are caused from walking in litter or waste.

We stand by our product and by the commitment we make to our customers as stated on the inner cover of our egg carton.

Bishop's Theory on Anna Nicole Smith

From the Wisconsin State Journal:

Bishop Robert Morlino says the legal circus being waged over Anna Nicole Smith can be laid at the steps of a state that "does not protect and reinforce the marriage bond and the true definition of marriage."

Morlino, the spiritual head of the quarter-million Christians in the Madison Catholic Diocese, wrote in Thursday's edition of the Catholic Herald that "when civil law opened the door to no-fault divorce and in- vitro fertilization, the civil law started down the slippery slope that led us to the present moment."

"Tinkering with the marriage bond and the definition of marriage empowers the courts to usurp decisions that belong to the traditional family and affords great wealth to eager litigators," the bishop continued. "The natural law is the guide both to freedom and to conscience in these very sensitive matters."

One of the many things I like about Morlino is his ability to make me look at the news in a way differently than I ordinarily would. And, as a columnist for his own newspaper, he certainly has as much right to capitalize on Anna Nicole as I do in this column.

He says he is "praying frequently for the respose and soul" of Smith, which, to be honest, makes him a far better man than I am.

Anti-Semitic Chants Seen as Chance to Educate

At a Bishop Sullivan Catholic School...from the Pilot Online:

Students at Bishop Sullivan Catholic High School will receive sensitivity training as a result of anti-Semitic chants and graffit i during a recent basketball game against rival Norfolk Academy.

Several Sullivan students met with Norfolk Academy's cultural diversity club Thursday as part of a series of events aimed at promoting tolerance, Sullivan Principal Dennis W. Price said.

"It is important that we work harder at having students leaving here who are tolerant and understand how serious these kinds of things are," he said.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

KFC Seeks Papal Blessing

Shouldn't it be KFF(ish)....


KFC President Gregg Dedrick said he sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI asking him to bless KFC's Fish Snacker Sandwich, the company said in a news release.

After Protests From Catholic Church

Telus Stops Selling Porn


Telus Corp., Canada's second-biggest phone company, reversed its decision to sell pornography on mobile phones after customers including the Catholic Church threatened to cancel their service.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Pope Benedict's Ash Wednesday Homily

From Asia News Italy:

In his homily the Pope said that “with the penitential procession we have begun the austere period of Lent. Introducing ourselves in the Eucharistic celebration we have prayed that the Lord may help the Christian people to ‘begin a journey towards true conversion so as to victoriously confront with the weapons of penance the fight against the spirit of evil’ (Opening Prayer). In receiving the ashes on the forehead, we shall listen again to a clear invitation to convert that can be expressed in a dual formula: ‘Convert and believe in the Gospel’ or ‘Remember that we come from dust and that we return to dust’.”

Benedict XVI then emphasised that “today’s liturgy and its gestures form an ensemble that anticipates the whole Lenten period,” a time “to become reconciled with God in Jesus Christ.”

“For the liturgy of Ash Wednesday,” he said, “a heartfelt conversion to God is the fundamental trait aspect of the time of Lent. It is the quite suggestive reference that comes to us from the traditional ritual of the imposition of the ashes. This ritual has a double meaning. The first refers to an inner change, to conversion and penance, whilst the second refers to the precariousness of human existence easily seen in the two expressions that accompany the gesture.”

Now “we have 40 days to deepen this extraordinary ascetic and spiritual experience.” Jesus himself tells us what are “the useful instruments to achieve a true inner and communal renewal: charity (alms), prayer and penance (fasting). These are three fundamental practices that are also dear to the Jewish tradition because they contribute to the man’s purification before God (cf Mt 6, 1-6.16-18). Such external gestures, which must be performed to please God and not to get men’s approval and consensus, are acceptable to Him if they express the heart’s determination to serve Him only in simplicity and generosity.”

“Fasting, which the Church invites us to do during this demanding time, is certainly not motivated by physical or aesthetic reasons. It stems man’s need to purify himself from within and detoxify himself from sin and evil. It teaches him to accept the beneficial renunciatory practices that free the believer from the slavery of his own self. It makes him listen more attentively to God and more available to Him and to serve his brothers. For this reason fasting and other Lenten practices are seen in the Christian tradition as spiritual ‘weapons’ in the fight against evil, wicked passions and vices.”

Lent Begins Today

I've written a Lenten devotional that you might find a great help this Lent: The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season.

What is it?

Daily Meditations based on the Gospel Readings of the day from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday…

  • For Use as a private Lenten Devotional or
  • For Use as in a Group Bible Study

Praise for The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season :

National Catholic Register
Weekly Book Pick February 2005

For launching into Lent, Clare Siobhan recommends "The Power of the Cross: Applying the Passion of Christ to Your Life" by Michael Dubruiel.

And from those who've used it in the parish as a small group devotional:

We just finished studying your book "The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season"– ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL!!!!!!!.
It was soooo Catholic and thank you for speaking the truth. We have a lot of Catholics out there (including myself) who missed these lessons over the last 20 years. We have made Catholicism what we wanted it to be. Not how is really is. I believe your book opened the eyes of a lot of the ladies in the group.
Vickie Loftis, Women's Bible Study, San Juan Del Rio Catholic Church, Switzerland, FL

“The Power of the Cross” will be our text for adult education classes during Lent. Keep on writing!

Pastor, Saint Patrick Catholic Church, Sarasota, FL

Check inside the book on Amazon to sample what the book is like.

I also did a weekly series on KVSS in Omaha, NE that remains online in podcast format for those using the book to have as a supplement to the book.

Ash Wednesday Thought From "God Alone Suffices"

From God Alone Suffices:

"Though full of dignity, created in the image of God, and redeemed by the blood of the Redeemer, a person remains only ashes, and his body turns to dirt after death. If we would acknowledge this truth that permeated the lives of saints, even in a limited way, each one of us would have a deep awareness of our nothingness. We would acknowledge that we are a handful of ashes loved by God, dirt in which the Creator of the universe wants to dwell."

Beginning of Lent Meditation

From Lenten Meditations:

Do you want to know the secret to making this Lent truly a life changing event?Stop thinking that you are different. I know the message you get from almost every corner of the world these days is that you are unique, one of a kind--sort of like a snowflake! There is an element of truth to that, but it is not the whole truth. Because you are also just like every other human being living on this planet.Jesus wasn't like everyone else--but he did not "deem eqaulity with God" and as Saint Paul said to the Philipians, that is something "to be grasped at."So have a change of mind--repent! Stop thinking of yourself in terms of how you are different from everyone else, i.e. stop praying like the pharisee in the Gospels. Stop worrying about this group of sinners or that group and see yourself as part of all of those or more correctly all of us sinful human beings.Then start genuinely praying, "Lord have mercy on us," Lord be generous with us. We are beggars before your throne.Let the ashes on your forehead mark you as just another in the crowd of dreadful need of Jesus the savior, not as a mark of what a great Christian you are--because quite frankly if you think the latter you really aren't that great of a Christian. Humility is the key to following Christ and being a Christian.

Ash Wednesday--Pope Benedict's General Audience

From the Vatican:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today – Ash Wednesday – we begin our Lenten journey in a spirit of prayer and penance. From the earliest days of the Church, Lent has been a special time of preparation for Baptism. For those already baptized, Lent is a time of conversion and renewed faith. It is a time to "exercise" our desire for God by opening our hearts to the new life offered to us in Christ. Jesus exhorts us to "repent and believe in the Gospel". Only conversion can lead to true happiness, and God’s grace is needed to inspire and sustain our efforts to direct our hearts completely to him.

Conversion consists in recognizing that we depend entirely on God, who created us and redeemed us in Christ. In my Lenten message this year, I wanted to emphasize God’s immense love for us, and to invite all Christians, together with Mary and the Beloved Disciple, to draw near to the Lord, who gave his life for us on the Cross. The Cross – the definitive revelation of God’s love and mercy – is the only way to enter this mystery of saving love. This Lent, by a more fervent participation in the Eucharist, may we learn to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mystery and to "re-give" Christ’s love to others, especially the suffering and those in need.\

I am pleased to greet the pilgrimage group from the Diocese of Jelgava in Latvia, led by Bishop Antons Justs. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Wales, Ireland, Finland, Japan and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s blessings for a fruitful and spiritually enriching Lent.

Office of Readings Podcast

I couldn't find one online (there is one for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer), so I'm setting out to do one. I have three days available and I'll try to keep at least two-three days ahead of schedule.

Of all the hours the Office of Readings makes the most sense as a podcast because it largely is made up of two substantial readings-one from Scripture, the other from a Church Father, Saint or Council.


Subscription Page

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lenten Meditations

Lenten Meditations

Pope Benedict's Latest Q & A

With Roman Seminarians last Saturday, from Zenit.

A second-year theology student asked: "How one should address shortcomings within the Church in the most serene and responsible way?"

"Not an easy question," the Holy Father said with a smile. "But the Lord knows, he knew from the beginning that there is sin in the Church. "

And for our humility it is important to acknowledge this and to see the sin not only in others, in the structures, in the high hierarchical offices, but also in ourselves, thus being more humble with ourselves and learning that, before the Lord, one's position does not count, but what counts is to be in his love and to make his love shine."

"How is one to behave in the face of pain?"

Benedict XVI underlined the need to make it understood above all that suffering is an essential part of human maturation.

Jesus himself, the Holy Father continued, said that he had to suffer for the salvation of the world and that whoever wishes to follow him must take up his own cross.

"We are always like Peter who says to the Lord: 'No, Lord!'" the Pontiff observed. "'This cannot be the case, you must not suffer, we do not want to carry the cross, we want to create a more human, more beautiful kingdom on earth.'

"This is totally mistaken: Whoever promises a life that is only happy and comfortable, lies, because this is not the truth of man and then one flees to false paradises and precisely in this way one does not arrive at joy but at self-destruction."

Benedict XVI explained that Christianity proclaims joy to us, a joy that grows in the way of love, a path that is, however, linked to the cross. Yet, there is an obligation in the face of suffering, he said: "We must do everything possible, to overcome humanity's suffering and to help suffering people -- there are so many in the world -- to find a good life and to be freed from evils caused by ourselves: famine, epidemics, etc."

A student asked how they should relate to human weakness, when one is aware of being very far from true coherence with one's yes to God.

"It is good to acknowledge one's own weakness because in this way we know that we have need of the Lord's grace," the Pope answered. "The Lord consoles us. In the college of the apostles there was not only Judas but also the good apostles.

"Peter fell, and so many times the Lord reproached his slowness, the apostles' closed hearts, the little faith they had. Therefore, it shows us that no one of us is up to the loftiness of this great yes."

And in this awareness, added the Holy Father, there is also an attitude of continuous conversion: "To acknowledge that we are in need of a permanent conversion, and that we have never simply arrived; to accept our frailty but to stay on the path, not to give in but to go forward and through the sacrament of reconciliation to be converted ever again by a new beginning and thus grow, mature through the Lord, in our communion with the Lord."

Fr. Cantalamessa (Papal Preacher) in Central Kentucky

From the Lexington Herald:

He said Pope John Paul II, who appointed him to the post of papal preacher in 1980, stressed "exchanging gifts among the churches, not exchanging accusations." That's something Cantalamessa said he wants to encourage.

"What unites us is much more important," he said. "The Lord put love in my heart for the fellow Christians."

He said the issues that created the division between the Catholic Church and other denominations centuries ago "have lost most of their importance."

Monday, February 19, 2007

National Catholic Register Reviews The Virtue Driven Life

By Father Benedict Groeschel...

From the National Catholic Register:

That’s one reason this latest breezy read from the most popular American Franciscan of our day, Father Benedict J. Groeschel, a Capuchin Friar of the Renewal, arrives as a well-timed dose of reality. It’s medicine that tastes good and goes down easy even though it possesses potent anti-toxin properties.

Not only does the priest offer a practical primer on the qualities that constitute the three theological virtues (faith, hope and charity) and the four cardinal ones (prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance), but he also seriously challenges the reader to cultivate those qualities, little by little, in everyday living.

Vatican Takes Steps to Control Overcrowding

From the NY Times:

The number of visitors to the Vatican has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, hitting a high of 4.2 million in 2006, and has resulted in the overcrowding of a structure originally built to accommodate a Renaissance papal court, not up to 20,000 visitors at a time shuffling around one another.

Between enormous tour groups and rowdy school-trippers, a visit to the Vatican Museums can become “more of a traumatic than an artistic experience for tourists,” said Paola, one of several guides who were interviewed and who asked that their full names not be used for fear of offending the Vatican.

Anglicans Back Plan to Unite with Pope

Some Anglicans, anyway...

From Times Online:

Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The Open Book/Annunciations Bestseller's List

Our Bestseller's List
What Books People who Read Amy's Open Book blog and Michael's Annunciation blog are Buying

February 2007 (2/17/2007)

1. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

2. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

3. The Gift of Faith

4.(tied) Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

4.(tied) The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection

5. God Alone Suffices

Books that Spark the Most Interest (for this month so far):

1. Those Terrible Middle Ages: Debunking the Myths

2. The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season

3. The How-To Book of the Mass: Everything You Need to Know but No One Ever Taught You

4.*Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians

5.*Fire in the City: Savonarola and the Struggle for the Soul of Renaissance Florence

*People ultimately don't buy the book.

FYI, Last Month's Bestsellers:

January 2007

1. The Gift of Faith

2. When Children Became People: The Birth Of Childhood In Early Christianity

3. The Best American Catholic Short Stories: A Sheed & Ward Collection

4. God Alone Suffices

5. Behold, I stand at the Door and Knock

Pope: "Why does Jesus ask us to love our enemies?"

In today's Angelus message--which of course ties in to today's Gospel that'll you hear at Mass. The answer?

It is all about the "love of God"which exceeds the way the world thinks and acts. The pope invites all to enter the season of Lent with a renewed sense of our weakness and need to be empowered by the love of God.

To the English speaking pilgrims:

As we prepare to enter the holy season of Lent, let us recognize our sins and weaknesses, and deepen our desire to forgive and to grow in compassion. Upon all of you and your loved ones, I invoke the joy and peace of Christ the Lord!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Let's Go Lenten!!!

Host Fr. Greg Sakowicz and Co-host Wayne Magdziarz discuss Lent with Fr. Frank "Rocky" Hoffman, Chaplain at Northridge College Prep; Michael Dubruiel, author of several books including The Power of the Cross: Meditations for the Lenten Season; and Fr. Robert Pawell, OFM, Director of Programs at St. Peter's in the Loop.

Pocast of the show here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pope Expected to Visit Assisi

In June.

From Perugia Online:

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to visit Assisi on June 17th as part of the 800th anniversary celebrations of the conversion of St Francis.The Pope will make a tour of the basilicas of San Damiano, Santa Chiara, San Francesco (where there will be Holy Mass and a blessing) and hold further appointments in the afternoon.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Saint Valentine's Day

In my day (you know you're getting old when you start saying this) we were taught about Saint Valentine in public school (in the Northeast), as we were about Saint Lucy and Saint Patrick. Anyway for those who have grown up in a more pagan environment, here is the Wikopedia link and an image of St. Valentine to pique your curiosity.

They're Not Stupid

From The Power and Peril of Praising Your Kids:

Psychologist Wulf-Uwe Meyer, a pioneer in the field, conducted a series of studies where children watched other students receive praise. According to Meyer’s findings, by the age of 12, children believe that earning praise from a teacher is not a sign you did well—it’s actually a sign you lack ability and the teacher thinks you need extra encouragement. And teens, Meyer found, discounted praise to such an extent that they believed it’s a teacher’s criticism—not praise at all—that really conveys a positive belief in a student’s aptitude.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Catholic Bishop Supports Mayor's Opposition to Making English Official Language

Supports a move to make Latin the official language instead (just joking)...

City=Nashville, TN

Veto does not end English debate

Blogger Quits Edwards Campaign


Blogger quits Edwards campaign in light of conservative criticism

Pope Benedict's Lenten Message for 2007


On the Cross, it is God Himself who begs the love of His creature: He is thirsty for the love of every one of us. The Apostle Thomas recognized Jesus as “Lord and God” when he put his hand into the wound of His side. Not surprisingly, many of the saints found in the Heart of Jesus the deepest expression of this mystery of love. One could rightly say that the revelation of God’s eros toward man is, in reality, the supreme expression of His agape. In all truth, only the love that unites the free gift of oneself with the impassioned desire for reciprocity instills a joy, which eases the heaviest of burdens. Jesus said: “When I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself” (Jn 12:32). The response the Lord ardently desires of us is above all that we welcome His love and allow ourselves to be drawn to Him. Accepting His love, however, is not enough. We need to respond to such love and devote ourselves to communicating it to others. Christ “draws me to Himself” in order to unite Himself to me, so that I learn to love the brothers with His own love.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Pope Slams Italian Civil Unions Bill


As the Italian parliament is preparing to discuss a highly controversial government decree granting legal rights to civil unions, including same-sex couples, Pope Benedict XVI on Monday slammed the planned legislation as weakening the family and harming society. "No legislation can change the law of the Creator without making the future of society precarious with laws which are in stark contrast with natural law," the pontiff said.

"A very concrete application of this principle can be found in relation to the family, which is the intimate communion of life as founded by the Creator, with its own rules," Benedict also said. The family "has its stability under divine laws. The good fortune of spouses and society does not depend on arbitrary acts."

Faith-related Talks Set for Thursday

From the Palladium-Item:

Writer and teacher Amy Welborn will give two talks Thursday in Richmond (IN) related to faith.

Her discussion at 7 p.m. at St. Andrew Church, 235 S. Fifth St., is free and open to the public. She will focus on prayer and how the history and traditional use of certain prayers are "a treasure worth rediscovering" and "are gifts from the past that can be used to great benefit today."

Witchcraft is Destroying the Church in Africa

So the experts say, from All Africa. com:

Witchcraft is real, and it is destroying the church in Africa, Catholic experts warned this week.

Scholars from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA) expressed concern that the church continued to dismiss the dark arts as mere superstition, thereby unwittingly helping the devil advance his reign.

For that reason, Christians who suffer because of witchcraft are often dismissed by priests as being superstitious. Because they do not get adequate help from pastoral agents, they seek the assistance of witchdoctors or join the mushrooming evangelical denominations that offer healing, exorcism and deliverance.

It was said that many African priests fear witchcraft or are ignorant of their own power to confront the devil.

Christians also visit diviners and magicians to seek practical solutions which the church and science apparently do not offer.

The Open Book & Annunciations Blog Bestseller's List

Our own Bestseller's list: