Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New York Halloween 1982

I share with you today three photos I took back in 1982, 30 years ago on the occasion of Halloween, which was a new celebration for me, coming from Malta a year earlier. The photos show 3 different aspects of this feast, precisely a children's parade in New Hyde Park, and some pumpkins decorated for the occasion, and also in anticipation of Thanksgiving. 

The last photo shows a display of ghostly masks, which are frightening as much as they are weird. I share these photos simply to re-connect myself with New York, as we continue to pray for the people who suffered loss of lives, property and other losses in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Continuing our prayers....

Let us pray and remember....
The victims who were killed yesterday during Hurricane Sandy...
The families who lost houses, especially those in Breezy Point, burned by fire...
The linemen, workers and police officers and fire-fighters who will help in the recovery...
Those whose businesses were affected by the flooding, power outages, etc.....
Those whose property was damaged because of the excessive flooding, especially by sea water...
Those whose cars were damaged or destroyed by water and fallen trees...
Those whose plans were disrupted because of cancelled flights....
Those on the coastline from Florida through Maine, that they remain safe....
Those trying to rebuild their lives after this catastrophic storm...
The worst came so suddenly - let’s hope the best will return just as quickly.

Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.
Let us continue to pray.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Praying for the East Coast

Hurricane Sandy, spanning from Florida to Maine

Prayers are appropriate today for all the millions living on the East Coast of the USA, from Florida all the way to Maine, as they brace for the onslaught of Hurricane Sandy. Most of the coastline on the eastern seaboard is at sea-level, and so with the combination of the wind and waves and rain, the potential of a major disaster is very real. Add to that the combination of a full moon and high tide at the peak of the hurricane on Monday evening, the result can be really devastating, the stuff of which we see only in movies and past documentaries. 

So we pray today that people, properties, animals and entire cities may be spared the force of the hurricane. The areas between New Jersey and Cape Cod in Massachusetts (including the entire 110-mile length of Long Island) are especially vulnerable, and since the entire stretch is a sandy beach, the waves may push the sea water inland and it will look like a tsunami. May God protect all the inhabitants living in these areas, and on the eve of the feast of All Saints, we need the protection and intercession of ALL the Saints to safeguard what lies in hurricane Sandy’s lethal path. Let us pray, and hope for the best while fearing the worst.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

8 gifts that do not cost a cent

Yet they can be the hardest to give.

No interrupting, no daydreaming, no planning your response.  Just listening.

Be generous with appropriate hugs, kisses, pats on the back and handholds.
Let these small actions demonstrate the love you have for family and friends.

Clip cartoons. Share articles and funny stories. Your gift will say, "I love to laugh with you."

It can be a simple "Thanks for the help" note or a full sonnet. A brief, handwritten note (or e-mail) may be remembered for a lifetime, and may even change a life.

A simple and sincere, "You look great in red," "You did a super job" or "That was a wonderful meal" can make someone's day.

Every day, go out of your way to do something kind.

There are times when we want nothing better than to be left alone. Be sensitive to those times and give the gift of solitude to others. There is a difference between loneliness and solitude. Loneliness is the pain of the being alone, while solitude is the glory of being alone. Treasure solitude!

The easiest way to feel good is to extend a kind word to someone, really it's not that hard to say, Hello or Thank You.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Friends I meet along the way

4 deer in Keating, OREGON

In my travels, I always have my camera with me, and on many occasions I meet many feathered and 4-legged friends whom I photograph, usually from inside my car. Many of them get scared if anyone approaches them, but the majority stay pretty calm as I take their photo from my car. The above photo taken in Keating shows four friendly deer inquisitively looking at me, and wondering if I was going to shoot them, as many of their friends experience at this time of the year. Luckily for them I shot them with my camera, and now their photo is on the Internet for everyone around the world to see and admire.
Antelope in Mitchell, OREGON

This is a group of antelope grazing in a field close to Mitchell, just 4 of a herd of around 40, most of whom scattered away when they saw me slow down in my car. They are also called pronghorns, because of the curved horns they grow. I've seen herds with as many as 80 to 100 antelopes in different areas.
Bald Eagle in Dayville, OREGON

This is an unusual sight of a bald eagle perched on a tree, just finishing her lunch, probably of a mouse or a sage-rat. They are a common sight in Eastern Oregon between January and March, but I was surprised to see one in the middle of October. Since she had some food, she stayed on the branch long enough for me to take at least 12 photos, and she only took off when two ravens approached her, probably to share some of the food she was munching on. I encountered her in the Dayville area. All these friends were in Eastern Oregon. From time to time I will share with you other photos of friends I come across.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Cherokee Indian

Do you know the legend of the Cherokee Indian youth's rite of passage?
His father takes him into the forest, blindfolds him and leaves him alone. He is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it. He cannot cry out for help to anyone. Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.
He cannot tell the other boys of this experience because each lad must come into manhood on his own. The boy is naturally terrified. He can hear all kinds of noises. Wild beasts must surely be all around him. Maybe even some human might do him harm. The wind blew the grass and earth, and shook his stump, but he sat stoically, never removing the blindfold. It would be the only way he could become a man! Finally, after a horrific night, the sun appeared and he removed his blindfold. It was then that he discovered his father sitting on the stump next to him. He had been at watch the entire night, protecting his son from harm. 

We, too, are never alone. Even when we don't know it, our Heavenly Father is watching over us, sitting on the stump (or bench) beside us. When trouble comes, all we have to do is reach out to Him.  
Moral of the Story: Just because you can't see God, doesn't mean He is not there.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Three unusual Roman photos

She wolf nursing Remus and Romulus

I share with you three unusual photos I took while in Rome earlier this year. The first one is a silhouette of the symbol of Rome, the Remus and Romulus figures, the two toddlers who were fed by a wolf when they were young. The tradition says that Rhea Silvia conceived the twins by the god Mars, or by the demi-god Hercules; once the twins were born, they were abandoned to die in the river Tiber. They were saved by a series of miraculous interventions: the river carried them to safety, a she-wolf found and suckled them, and a woodpecker fed them. A shepherd and his wife found and fostered them to manhood, as simple shepherds. The twins, still ignorant of their true origins, were natural leaders. Each acquired many followers.
Veiled woman in Barberini Museum
The second one is a sculpture in the Barberini Museum and shows a fascinating figure of woman whose face is veiled in a piece of see-through linen, and which makes the work of the sculptor truly special. It’s tough enough to produce a face out of marble, but to be able to create the face, as if covered with a veil and still bring out all the details is truly remarkable.
2 domes and the Maltese Knights flag
The third photo shows a dome of a church, close to Piazza di Spagna, with the dome of St Peter’s in the distance on the left, and a surprising Maltese Knights flag with the Maltese cross flying on the right side, possibly of an Embassy or office of a Maltese connection.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Catholic Church in the USA

Click to enlarge

There are 68.1 million Catholics in the USA, making Catholics 22% of the U.S. population.
There are 41,489 diocesan and religious order priests, 60,715 religious sisters, 4,905 religious brothers and 16,935 permanent deacons.  As of 2010, there are 18,674 parishes, including 91 new parishes, and 189 seminaries with 4,973 students. There are 6,133 Catholic elementary schools and 1.6 million students. The country’s 1,341 Catholic high schools educate more than 674,000 students, while 234 Catholic colleges and universities serve more than 795,000 students. U.S. Catholic hospitals number 562 and serve almost 85.3 million patients, while 3009 Catholic social service centers assist 27.2 million people annually.

When the Catholic Church was founded, there were no hospitals. Today, one out of five people in this country receive their medical care at a Catholic hospital. When the Catholic Church was founded, there were no schools. Today, the Catholic Church teaches 3 million students a day in its more than 250 Catholic Colleges and Universities, its more than 1200 Catholic High Schools and its more than 5,000 Catholic Primary Schools. Every day the Catholic Church feeds, clothes, shelters and educates more people than any other organization in the world. Faithful Catholics donate millions of their own money to fund these programs.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Catholics in the USA

Click once to enlarge map
In anticipation of the US elections in 2 weeks, I share with some interesting statistics about Catholics in the USA. This is a list of how many Catholics are there in each state. In most of the states, the Catholics are the largest denomination:
Alabama 6% Alaska 10% Arkansas 5% Arizona 25% California 31% Colorado 19%  Connecticut 43%  Delaware 27% Florida 26% Georgia 12% Hawaii 24 % Idaho 18% Indiana 18% Iowa 25% Illinois 32% Kansas 23% Kentucky 14% Louisiana 28%  Maine 29% Maryland 18% Massachusetts 43% Michigan 23% Minnesota 28% Mississippi 9% Missouri 18% Montana 23% Nevada 27% New Hampshire 29% New Mexico 26%  New Jersey 42%  New York 39% North Carolina 9% North Dakota 25% Oklahoma 12% Oregon 14% Pennsylvania 29% Rhode Island 43% South Carolina 8% South Dakota 25% Tennessee 7% Texas 24% Utah 10% Vermont 29% Virginia 14% Washington 16% Washington DC 18% West Virginia 7% Wisconsin 19% Wyoming 23%

Monday, October 22, 2012

Help your children gain confidence

Parents contribute significantly to how their young children see and feel about themselves, and not surprisingly, how children see and feel about themselves influences how they act. When children feel good about themselves, they’re more likely to behave in positive ways and interact positively with their peers.

To help boost a child’s self-confidence, parents can:

1. Encourage independence. Give your child the opportunity to do what he can by himself. While it can be tempting to “help” your child with self-help tasks like putting on his coat to get out of the house faster, don’t. Children feel good about themselves when they’re able to complete age-appropriate tasks without assistance.

2. Praise the process, not just the results. It can be easy to only focus on winning the game, scoring the goal, or coloring perfectly in the lines. However, when parents focus only on the outcome it’s easy to forget the time, effort and energy that a child put into an activity. Take the opportunity to offer praise for commitment, determination and trying again too.

3. Applaud safe risk taking. While jumping off the top of the bunk bed is never a good idea, going down a new slide can be a great one. When a child tackles new obstacles, tries new things, or puts himself out there, applaud it! When he overcomes and succeeds, his self esteem will grow. And even if he doesn’t, when he knows you believe in him and support him, he’ll be willing to try again.

4. Show unconditional love. Nothing your child ever does should cost him your love. While you may, or better stated will, be disappointed at one time or another in his choice of behavior, it’s important to communicate to him that your love is unwavering.

5. Be a self-confident role model. Your children look to you to gauge what’s acceptable and what’s not. If you want to raise a self-confident person, be a self-confident person. If you feel good about yourself, your kids will feel good about you and the impact they have on your life.

6. Foster an “I can” attitude. Encourage your children to have an “I can do” attitude. Let your child know you believe in him by encouraging him to believe in himself. A child’s self-confidence is affected by how he believes his parents feel about him, so if you communicate you have confidence in your child he’s more likely to have confidence in himself.

7. Play with your child. Parents and their children’s days are often disconnected, especially when both parents work. When the time you spend with your child is quality time, your child will feel like he is a priority. Make it a point to give your child your undivided attention and to play with him and show interest in the things that he’s interested in.

8. Set your child up for success. Don’t take your child bike riding for the first time down a steep hill on a two-wheeler without brakes. Instead start him off on a smooth, flat surface with training wheels to steady him so he can experience his first success. Consider the situations that you put your child in and be sure he has a realistic chance of succeeding.

9. Show physical affection. Whether it’s a pat on the back or double kisses from mom and dad, make it a point to show your child that you love him. While your second grader may not want a hug and kiss in front of his peers, he’ll likely be thrilled to do a secret handshake or take a fist bump.

10. Show that you’re proud of your child. If you haven’t stocked up on refrigerator magnets and trophy shelving now is the time. Let your child hear you talking about how proud you are of him and show that you’re proud by displaying symbols of achievement, whether it’s his first drawing or his academic report card.

11. Avoid labels. Don’t let your child be defined by any diagnosis, personality trait or disability. While you may feel the need to let folks know your child is “shy” or “diabetic”, don’t let those labels define who he is.  Your child should proudly introduce himself by his first and last name, not as “Jeffery the diabetic.”

12. Give your child jobs to do. When children have household jobs or chores, it sends the message that they are a part of the family unit, they are depended on, and that their contributions count. Even a two-year-old can help sort socks. Give your child the opportunity to feel like he’s part of something bigger than himself. When you do you’ll see his confidence flourish.

Self-confidence isn’t something children are born with. It grows over time. Help build your child’s self-confidence by purposely and proactively attributing to his sense of self-esteem and self-worth.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

2 new American Saints

Saint Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680)

The United States so far claimed two canonized Saints, St Elizabeth Ann Seton, canonized in 1975 for her work with the Catholic school system in the Baltimore area, and St Katharine Drexel, canonized in 2000, for her work with the black and native Americans in the south, donating millions of dollars she inherited from her father, while building schools, hospitals, orphanages and even universities, Drexel university in New Orleans.
Today, two more American-born saints have been canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in Rome. St Kateri Tekakwitha (1656-1680) is canonized for showing humility all through her life, especially after she survived smallpox and was orphaned as a child, then baptized as a Roman Catholic and settled for the last years of her life at the Jesuit mission village of Kahnawake, south of Montreal. She was a member of the Algonquin-Mohawk tribe and was called the “Lily of the Mohawks” and became an inspiration to so many others in Upstate New York and parts of Canada.

Saint Marianne Cope (1838-1918)
St Marianne Cope, (1838-1918) a nun from Syracuse NY, went to help St Damian of Molokai in the leper colony in Hawaii, replacing him after he died, and in a most humble way, took care of the hundreds of lepers who were placed together on the island of Molokai, however never contracting the disease herself. She patiently and lovingly took care of the leper colony until she died surrounded by her fellow nuns.
The 7 banners of each new saint canonized today
The other 5 new saints canonized today are: Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino lay catechist and martyr; Maria del Carmen, the Spanish founder of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching; and Anna Schaffer, a German lay woman; Jacques Berthieu, a French Jesuit; and Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian priest. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

My childhood in the 1950s

Age 4, as an altar-boy at St Julian's church
I go back today to the fabulous 50s as I share with you a few black and white photos of my childhood, growing up in my hometown of St Julian's, in Malta. With a population of close to 8,000 people at that time, St Julian's would explode in the 1970s and even later, creating a few splintered communities known as The Gardens, Swieqi, The Village, tal-Ibragg, Paceville and Pembroke, although the heart and soul of the fishing village remains around the old Lapsi church. I was actually born not more than 200 yards from the church, where we lived at St Angelo Street, but in 1956 we moved to the Ta Giorni area, where my sister still lives in the house we all grew up in. 
Age 4, with sisters Josephine and Rosemarie, in our family garden.
St Julian's has become quite cosmopolitan now with hardly any room to expand, as properties, hotels, restaurants and apartments as well as night clubs have taken over the entire village. Still, the picturesque Spinola Bay is untouched, as fishing boats are seen dotting the inlet, and people enjoy a stroll on the promenade all the way to Balluta and Sliema, a popular trek for joggers in the early hours and everyone else in the evening hours, hoping for a cool breeze after a warm summer day.
Age 5, probably just posing for the photo.

Age 6, as a soccer mascot/player.
Soccer is a big sport in Malta, and all children learn how to play, just as American children learn baseball or softball. Each team would have a young boy as their soccer mascot, carrying the ball before the game starts, and simply posing for the group photo.
With the St Julian's soccer team, 4 of whom were uncles and cousins.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The North American Martyrs

The North American Martyrs, also known as the Canadian Martyrs, were eight French Jesuit missionaries who worked among the Huron Indians, and who were martyred in the 17th century in Canada and Upstate New York, all martyred between 1642 and 1649. The Martyrs are St. Jean de Brébeuf, St. Noël Chabanel, St. Antoine Daniel, St. Charles Garnier, St. René Goupil, St. Isaac Jogues, St. Jean de Lalande and St. Gabriel Lalemant. They all laid the foundation of the Catholic religion in the North East, just as Blessed Junipero Serra did in the North West of the USA.
They were each killed during the wars between the Huron and Iroquois. They had converted many of the Hurons, but the Huron considered them to be evil men who brought death and disease wherever they traveled. The Iroquois considered them legitimate targets as the missionaries were nominally allies of the Huron, and they had often helped organize resistance to Iroquois invasions.
Isaac Jogues and his assistant, Rene Goupil, besides being beaten to the ground and assailed several times with knotted sticks and fists, had their hair, beards and nails torn off and their forefingers bitten through. What grieved them far more, was the cruelty practiced on their Christian converts. The first of all the martyrs to suffer death was Rene Goupil, who was tomahawked on September 29, 1642, for having made the Sign of the Cross on the brow of some children. This Rene Goupil was a remarkable man. He had tried hard to be a Jesuit and had even entered the Novitiate, but his health forced him to give up the attempt. He then studied surgery and found his way to Canada, where he offered his services to the missionaries. 

They were canonized by Pope Pius XI in 1930. The Martyrs' Shrine church in Midland, Ontario, the site of their missionary work among the Huron, and the National Shrine of the North American Martyrs in Auriesville, New York, along the Mohawk River, are dedicated to them. They are collectively patron saints of Canada. Their feast day is celebrated on September 26 in Canada and on October 19 in the United States under the title of "The North American Martyrs."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Saint Luke

Luke, the writer of the Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles, has been identified with St. Paul's "Luke, the beloved physician". He was born in Antioch in Syria, a Greek and a Gentile. Luke's gospel shows special sensitivity to Gentiles. It is only in his gospel that we hear the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we hear Jesus praising the faith of Gentiles and the story of the one grateful leper who is a Samaritan. Luke was also known to be a doctor. In our day, it would be easy to assume that someone who was a doctor was rich, but scholars have argued that Luke might have been born a slave. Not only do we have Paul's word, but St Jerome, Eusebius and St Irenaeus all refer to Luke as a physician.
We have to go to Acts to follow the trail of Luke's Christian ministry. We are grateful for St Luke who followed St Paul on his missionary journeys and recorded with great detail what St Paul did between 51 until 65 AD. Luke is the loyal comrade who stays with Paul when he is shipwrecked on Malta in 60 AD, and later imprisoned in Rome a year later. And after everyone else deserts Paul in his final imprisonment and sufferings, it is Luke who remains with Paul to the end: "Only Luke is with me," Paul writes to Timothy
Luke's unique perspective on Jesus can be seen in the 6 miracles and 18 parables not found in the other gospels. Luke's is the gospel of the poor and of social justice. He is the one who tells the story of Lazarus and the rich man who ignored him. Luke is the one who uses "Blessed are the poor" instead of "Blessed are the poor in spirit" in the beatitudes. Only in Luke's gospel do we hear Mary=s Magnificat where she proclaims that God "has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty"
Luke also has a special connection with the women in Jesus' life, especially Mary. It is only in Luke's gospel that we hear the story of the Annunciation, Mary's visit to Elizabeth, the Presentation, and the story of Jesus' disappearance in Jerusalem. It is Luke that we have to thank for the Scriptural parts of the Hail Mary: "Hail Mary full of grace" spoken at the Annunciation and "Blessed are you and blessed is the fruit of your womb Jesus" spoken by her cousin Elizabeth. 

Guercino - "St Luke painting the Blessed Mother"
Forgiveness and God's mercy to sinners is also of first importance to Luke. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the Prodigal Son welcomed back by the overjoyed father. Only in Luke do we hear the story of the forgiven woman disrupting the feast by washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Throughout Luke's gospel, Jesus takes the side of the sinner who wants to return to God's mercy.
Reading Luke's gospel gives us a good idea of his character as one who loved the poor, who wanted the door to God's kingdom opened to all, who respected women, and who saw hope in God's mercy for everyone. The reports of Luke's life after Paul's death are conflicting. Some early writers claim he was martyred, others say he lived a long life. Some say he preached in Greece, others in Gaul. The earliest tradition we have says that he died in 84 AD in Boeotia after settling in Greece to write his Gospel.
A tradition has it that Luke was also a painter, painting various images of the Blessed Mother, including one he did in Malta when he stayed for 3 months with St Paul. Several images of Mary appeared in later centuries claiming him as the artist and because of this tradition, he is considered a patron of painters of pictures and is often portrayed as painting pictures of Mary. He is often shown with an ox or a calf because these are the symbols of sacrifice B the sacrifice Jesus made for all the world. Being the patron of doctors and surgeons, many hospitals around the world were dedicated to him.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pope John Paul I - born 100 years ago

Pope John Paul I - Pope for 33 days

Born Albino Luciani in Canale d'Agordo near Belluno, Italy, on October 17, 1912, Pope John Paul I became a seminarian at 11 years old, a priest at 23 years old, and was the Patriarch of Venice from 1969 until he became Pope on August 26, 1978.  Pope John Paul I held a theology degree from Gregorian University in Rome. He was the first Pope to have two combined names.  He wanted to continue the work of Pope Paul VI and Pope John XXIII. Because of his rural background and his ability to explain the catechism simplistically, Pope John Paul I was called "The Peasant Pope," as well as "The Smiling Pope."
With a Maltese altar-boy during a general audience
Pope John Paul I was a catechism teacher by profession and wrote Bits and Pieces of the Catechism (Catechesi in briciole) and Illustrissimi, a collection of articles Pope John Paul I wrote for St. Anthony's Messenger consisting of letters written to biblical, historical, literary, and imaginary characters. He died suddenly on September 28th, 1978 after reigning as Pope for a mere 33 days.
Tomb of Pope John Paul I in the Vatican crypt
From the only speech he gave to the US Bishops during their ad limina visit:
"The holiness of the Christian family is indeed a most apt means for producing the serene renewal of the church which the council so eagerly desired. Through family prayer, the "ecclesia domestica" (domestic church) becomes an effective reality and leads to the transformation of the world. And all the efforts of parents to instill God's love into their children and to support them by the example of faith, constitute a most relevant apostolate for the 20th century. Parents with special problems are worthy of our particular pastoral care and all our love. Dear brothers, we want you to know where our priorities lie. Let us do everything we can for the Christian family, so that our people may fulfill their great vocation in Christian joy and share intimately and effectively in the church's mission—Christ's mission—of salvation. And be assured that you, yourselves, have our full support in the love of the Lord Jesus."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

St Margaret Mary Alacoque

Margaret Mary Alacoque was born on July 22, 1647 at L'Hautecour, Burgundy, France, was sent to the Poor Clares school at Charolles on the death of her father, a notary, when she was eight years old. She was bedridden for five years with rheumatic fever until she was fifteen and very early developed a devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. She refused marriage, and in 1671 she entered the Visitation convent at Paray-le-Monial and was professed the next year. From the time she was twenty, she experienced visions of Christ, and on December 27, 1673, she began a series of revelations that were to continue over the next year and a half. In them Christ informed her that she was His chosen instrument to spread devotion to His Sacred Heart, instructed her in a devotion that was to become known as the Nine Fridays and the Holy Hour, and asked that the feast of the Sacred Heart be established. Rebuffed by her superior, Mother de Saumaise, in her efforts to follow the instruction she had received in the visions, she eventually won her over but was unable to convince a group of theologians of the validity of her apparitions, nor was she any more successful with many of the members of her community. 
She received the support of Blessed Claude La Colombiere, the community's confessor for a time, who declared that the visions were genuine. In 1683, opposition in the community ended when Mother Melin was elected Superior and named Margaret Mary her assistant. She later became Novice Mistress, saw the convent observe the feast of the Sacred Heart privately beginning in 1686, and two years later, a chapel was built at the Paray-le-Monial to honor the Sacred Heart; soon observation of the feast of the Sacred Heart spread to other Visitation convents. Margaret Mary died at the Paray-le-Monial on October 17, 1690 and was canonized in 1920. She, St. John Eudes, and Blessed Claude La Colombiere are called the "Saints of the Sacred Heart"; the devotion was officially recognized and approved by Pope Clement XIII in 1765, seventy-five years after her death and the feast of the Sacred Heart is celebrated every year on the Friday following Corpus Christi.

Monday, October 15, 2012

St Teresa of Avila

Born in Avila, Spain, on March 28th, 1515, St. Teresa was the daughter of a Toledo merchant and his second wife, who died when Teresa was 15, one of ten children. Shortly after this event, Teresa was entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns. After reading the letters of St. Jerome, Teresa resolved to enter a religious life. In 1535, she joined the Carmelite Order. She spent a number of relatively average years in the convent, punctuated by a severe illness that left her legs paralyzed for three years, but then experienced a vision of "the sorely wounded Christ" that changed her life forever.
"The Ecstasy of St Teresa" by Bernini
From this point forward, Teresa moved into a period of increasingly ecstatic experiences in which she came to focus more and more sharply on Christ's passion. With these visions as her impetus, she set herself to the reformation of her order, beginning with her attempt to master herself and her adherence to the rule. Gathering a group of supporters, Teresa endeavored to create a more primitive type of Carmelite. From 1560 until her death, Teresa struggled to establish and broaden the movement of Discalced or shoeless Carmelites. During the mid-1560s, she wrote the Way of Perfection and the Meditations on the Canticle
In 1567, she met St. John of the Cross, who she enlisted to extend her reform into the male side of the Carmelite Order. Teresa died in 1582, and she left to posterity many new convents, which she continued founding up to the year of her death. She also left a significant legacy of writings, which represent important benchmarks in the history of Christian mysticism. These works include the Way of Perfection and the Interior Castle. She also left an autobiography, the Life of Teresa of Avila.
This is one of St Teresa's famous quotes:

“Let nothing disturb you; Let nothing dismay you;
All things pass: God never changes.
Patience attains all that it strives for.
He who has God lacks for nothing:
God alone suffices.”

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Love the Church

St Francis De Sales Cathedral concelebration
Live with the Church, and because of you, the Church will give life to humanity.

Pray with the Church, and your prayer will become as powerful as a river watering the whole world.

Offer with the Church, and your offering will become richer.

Work with the Church, for whoever works with the Church does not waste his energies.

Rejoice with the Church, and may her feasts be your feasts, and her victories your victories.

Decrease yourself with the Church, and repay her for the abuse that a few of her children are hurled at her.

Suffer with the Church, and you will experience the same sufferings that the Church is going through.

Hope with the Church, and you will stay with the Church till the ends of times.

Believe in the Church, and do everything in union with her.

Love the Church, as a son should love his mother.

Serve the Church, with loyal and intelligent service.

Whoever listens to the Church, listens to Me.
Whoever loves the Church, loves Me.
Whoever serves the Church, serves Me.
because truly Me and the Church are One.

Love the Church.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Our Lady of Fatima

Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta

October 13, 1917 was the occasion of the last apparition of Our Lady at Fatima. The apparitions had started on May 13, to three young children Jacinta and Francisco Marto, brother and sister, and Lucia dos Santos. The children were herding sheep at a location known as the Cova da Iria near their home village of Fátima, Portugal. Lúcia described seeing a woman "brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun.” 
The Portuguese newspaper reporting the apparitions

Of course no one would believe them at first, but by October, the whole town and region had gathered with them to witness the miracle of the dancing sun, as it was reported in the local papers, and witnessed by 70,000 people. The place of apparition became a popular place of worship, until the visions were approved by the Vatican in 1930 and a large basilica was built in that place. Jacinta and Francisco died soon after the apparitions victims of the Spanish Flu epidemic, but Lucia survived. She joined the Dorotheans, but in 1947, Sister Lúcia left the Dorothean order and joined the Discalced Carmelite order in a monastery in Coimbra, Portugal. Lúcia died on February 13, 2005, at the age of 97. 
The Basilica of Fatima, visited by thousands every year.

The children were given three secrets and were encouraged to pray the Rosary for the conversion of Russia, which had just experienced the Bolshevik revolution. Pope Paul IV visited Fatima on the 50th anniversary of the apparition in 1967, and Pope John Paul II credited Our Lady of Fátima with saving his life following the assassination attempt on Wednesday, May 13, the Feast of Our Lady of Fátima, in 1981. A year later he again visited the place in gratitude to the Blessed Mother, as did Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Vatican Council II photos

The view inside the basilica of St Peter's during the sessions of the Council
I share with you today 4 photos that speak for themselves. They were taken at the Vatican Council II, which opened officially on October 11, 1962. Many photos were taken of the event, especially inside the basilica of St Peter's, and these are just a few unusual angles. For three full years Bishops and cardinals gathered with the Pope and other theologians to discuss, at times argue and eventually vote on the documents that were issued.
Pope John XXIII signing the document convening the Council
A solemn procession with all bishops before the start of the Council
A celebration towards the end of the Council, presided by Pope Paul VI

Thursday, October 11, 2012

50 years ago

My last visit to the Vatican in May, 50 years after the Council
Fifty years ago today, October 11, the fourth child from a family of Italian sharecroppers convened a meeting of Roman Catholic Church leaders designed to “open the windows” of the nearly 2,000-year-old institution to let some fresh air inside. What he got instead was a hurricane!
Pope John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council, now remembered as “Vatican II,” began October 11, 1962, with pomp and ceremony. It concluded more than three years later under Pope Paul VI with a transformed church, a church still struggling to digest – and in some cases accept – the changes that the conclave approved. Now, Pope Benedict XVI, who participated in the council as a young theological adviser then known as Father Joseph Ratzinger, is using the anniversary to launch a “Year of Faith” to call attention to evangelization, to encourage Catholics to rediscover their faith.

Another outdoor liturgy in St Peter's square will mark the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, launching the church's 13-month Year of Faith. In a poignant nod to the milestone, no less than a dozen of the 69 surviving Council Fathers will be on hand to concelebrate. The documents, constitutions and other letters were approved by vote during the Council, and the documents were published in a book, which is still quite popular today, and will be studied and discussed over the next year to commemorate this milestone, the golden jubilee of the Vatican Council II. The first Vatican Council was convened by Pope Pius IX in 1870. I was honored to re-visit the Vatican earlier this year, 50 years after the Council, and 46 years after serving as an altar boy at St Peter's Basilica in the summer of 1966.