Rosary Blog Archive - Jan-Jun 2008
Cardinal Danneels Appointed Papal Envoy for Virgin of the Poor Anniversary
A May 26 article from the Catholic News Agency.
"The 75th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to an eleven year-old girl named Mariette will take place on May 31, 2008 in Belgium. The celebrations will be joined by Pope Benedict's special envoy, Cardinal Godfried Danneels.
The celebrations will take place at the shrine of Banneux, Belgium on May 31. The Virgin of the Poor first appeared to Mariette Becco on January 15, 1933 and lasted until March 2 of the same year.
At her second apparition, the Blessed Mother led Mariette from her house to a spring, which she told the girl would bring healing to all nations.
Many people, including Mariette's father, were converted to Catholicism upon hearing accounts of the apparition. Five hundred thousand pilgrims visit the site of the apparitions every year and over fifty miraculous cures have been documented at the spring."
May 25 is the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi Sunday) & Pope Gives 8 Imperatives at Quebec Eucharistic Congress
'Corpus Christi' is Latin for 'Body of Christ'. Christ's institution of the sacrament of the Eucharist - whereby He, through the priest, transforms bread and wine into His body and blood at every Mass throughout Christian history - is the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the Holy Rosary.
From Catholic Culture's website, "Corpus Christi (Body and Blood of Christ) is a Eucharistic solemnity, or better, the solemn commemoration of the institution of that sacrament. It is, moreover, the Church's official act of homage and gratitude to Christ, who by instituting the Holy Eucharist gave to the Church her greatest treasure. Holy Thursday, assuredly, marks the anniversary of the institution, but the commemoration of the Lord's passion that very night suppresses the rejoicing proper to the occasion. Today's observance, therefore, accents the joyous aspect of Holy Thursday..."
On Jun. 26, 2008, canon lawyer Edward Peters posted excellent eucharistic 'food for thought' (pardon the pun!) on his blog entitled In the Light of the Law. His post begins: "I have just published a short article proposing that the Communion fast" (how long one should refrain from food & drink before receiving Communion)..."be calculated from the start of Mass (instead of from the reception of Communion) and that the fast be extended to three hours (instead of the current one hour). Mr. Peters then briefly gives several compelling reasons to extend our (pre-)Communion fasts.
On June 25, Catholic Canada website published Fr. Jason Kuntz's Summary [of] Pope Benedict's Pastoral Imperatives from the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec City (which took place June 15-22, 2008). They are:
- Study the Eucharistic Mystery and the document Sacrosanctum concilium
- Catechize children and young people about the Eucharist
- Witness to the love of God manifest in the Eucharist
- Celebrate the Liturgy worthily
- Respect the roles of laity and clergy
- Remember the importance of the Sunday Eucharist
- Prepare to receive the Eucharist worthily
- Know our spiritual heritage and imitate the Canadian Saints and Blesseds
Pope Tells Young People to Trust in Mary
A May 18 article from the Catholic News Agency.
Pope Composes Prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan (in Shanghai)
A May 16 article from the Catholic News Agency.
"Pope Benedict has composed a prayer to Our Lady of Sheshan to celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Church in China, which will be observed on May 24.
In a letter written to the Catholic Church in China last year, the Holy Father expressed his hope that May 24, the memorial of Our Lady Help of Christians, who is venerated at the shrine of Seshan in Shanghai, would become a day of prayer for the Church in China...text of the English-language version of the Holy Father's prayer" begins:
'Virgin Most Holy, Mother of the Incarnate Word and our Mother, venerated in the Shrine of Sheshan under the title Help of Christians, the entire Church in China looks to you with devout affection. We come before you today to implore your protection. Look upon the People of God and, with a mother's care, guide them along the paths of truth and love, so that they may always be a leaven of harmonious coexistence among all citizens.
When you obediently said 'yes' in the house of Nazareth, you allowed God's eternal Son to take flesh in your virginal womb and thus to begin in history the work of our redemption. You willingly and generously co-operated in that work, allowing the sword of pain to pierce your soul, until the supreme hour of the Cross, when you kept watch on Calvary, standing beside your Son, who died that we might live.
From that moment, you became, in a new way, the Mother of all those who receive your Son Jesus in faith and choose to follow in His footsteps by taking up His Cross. Mother of hope, in the darkness of Holy Saturday you journeyed with unfailing trust towards the dawn of Easter. Grant that your children may discern at all times, even those that are darkest, the signs of God's loving presence..."
These two articles also relate to the first annual, May 24 'Day of Prayer for China', which this year followed on the heels of the devastating May 12 earthquake which killed more than 70,000 in China's Sichuan province, and left 4-11 million homeless. The first, is May the Virgin Mary Support Christians in China, and the second is Pope Tells Chinese Catholics He Continues to Pray for Them.
Recordings of Rosary Led by Pope Benedict Now Available
A May 14 from the Catholic News Agency.
Catholic World News reported the same, in its article entitled Vatican Offers Latin Recording of Pope Praying Rosary.
May 11, 2008 is Pentecost Sunday
The Feast of Pentecost celebrates the birth of the Church when, sometime after the Resurrected Christ's Ascension to Heaven, the Holy Spirit descended on Mary and the Apostles. Pentecost is the Third Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary.
Three more articles on Pentecost are: Benedict XVI's Pentecost Homily - 'In the Act Itself of Her Birth the Church is Already Catholic', Pope's Preacher on Pentecost, and Pope: Miracles of Unity on Pentecost.
Pope, Armenian Patriarch Pray for Restored Unity
A May 9 article from Catholic World News.
Padre Pio's Shrine May Outdraw Lourdes
This May 8 article from Catholic World News reports that "The Italian business magazine Economy is forecasting that in the future, 9 million people will visit Padre Pio's shrine in San Giovanni Rotondo each year.
If that prediction proves accurate, Padre Pio's shrine will surpass the Marian shrine at Lourdes, which now draws about 8 million pilgrims annually. Only the Vatican attracts more religious tourism.
Economy predicts that the shrine's popularity will soar now that Padre Pio's body is on display. Due to popular demand the period of the body's showing has already been extended to September 2009; original plans had been for the public veneration to continue only for a few months.
The saint's massive worldwide following is said to include many celebrities, including Sophia Loren, the late writer Graham Greene, Irish soccer player Damien Duff (who reportedly played with a relic of the saint in one of his boots), and Carlo Ancelotti, the coach of the AC Milan soccer team, who prays to the saint during games. One Catholic magazine once found that far more Italian Catholics pray to the Padre Pio than to Jesus or Mary."
The Catholic News Agency reported on this same story in its May 8 article entitled Padre Pio Shrine Could Top Lourdes in Visitors.
125,000 Polish High-School Graduates Plan Marian Pilgrimages
A May 6 article from Catholic World News. "Roughly one-fourth of the students graduating from Polish high schools this year will make a pilgrimate to the Marian shrine at Czestochowa, the KAI news agency reports.
About 125,000 students are expected to participate in the 34 different pilgrimages that are being organized by Polish dioceses for recent high-school graduates."
Philippines Cardinal Bars Cross-Dressers from Marian Processions
A May 6 article from the Catholic News Agency.
Child Cured of Anencephaly Through Intercession of Virgin of Lujan Completely Normal
A May 5 article from the Catholic News Agency. "The Catholic magazine Cristo Hoy in Argentina has published an article on a mother who entrusted her daughter to the intercession of Our Lady of Lujan once she was diagnosed with an incurable disease before she was born. The little girl, Lujan, is now three years-old and living a normal life.
Marcela is an eye doctor and mother of three. During the eighth month of her last pregnancy, doctors found her baby to be suffering from anencephaly, a condition in which the brain does not develop normally. Marcela was told her child would die within days of being born.
'When I was being taken into the delivery room, I prayed to the Virgin of Lujan and decided to name my daughter after her and place her into her hands. The Virgin of Lujan appeared in my mind and my heart during those difficult moments and I fervently prayed for my child to her. Thanks to her, I have my daughter with me today and she is just like any other girl her age, smiling and loving those whom she meets. According to the doctors she has a deficient nervous system, but she is nonetheless a normal girl', Marcela said.
Little Lujan's case continues to be inexplicable to the doctors who treated her. 'They cannot explain the extraordinary improvement of our daughter. Today she is a normal girl except for hemiparesis on her left side', her mother said.
She said her daughter's illness has made her family appreciate life more. 'I thank God every day of my life for the miracle He did with my daughter', she said.
'When faced with the blunt reality of a developing baby with problems, everything around comes crashing down, hope fades, negative thoughts take hold, because of how fragile these little people seem to be. But you need to pray for a lot of strength, have hope and through prayer try to overcome this difficult moment', Marcela stated.
'My message to everybody is that miracles do exist and that God is always with us', she added. 'I can testify to this because I experienced it. I hope that by telling my story I can help others with their faith', she said."
Authentic Praying of the Rosary Brings Healing, Counsels Benedict XVI
A May 5 article from the Catholic News Agency. "On Saturday, the Holy Father presided at the praying of the Rosary in the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major. He noted that when one prays the Marian prayer authentically, it brings peace and reconciliation. Pope Benedict reflected on his experiences with the Rosary especially during May, the month of Mary. He recalled how evenings in May 'evoke pleasant memories' of paying 'homage to the Virgin Mary'. He also noted that 'the holy Rosary is not some pious practice relegated to the past, a prayer of distant times to be thought of nostalgically. Indeed, the Rosary is experiencing what is almost a new springtime'. The Rosary is especially needed today, because it 'helps us to place Christ at the center, as did the Virgin who meditated upon everything that was said about her Son and upon what He Himself did and said. When we recite the Rosary we relive important monuments of the history of salvation, we again go over the various stages of Christ's mission. With Mary we turn our hearts to the mystery of Jesus'. The Holy Father called on the Blessed Mother to help us 'welcome within ourselves the grace that emanates from these mysteries, so that through us this grace can 'irrigate' society, starting with our everyday relationships, purifying it from many negative forces and opening it to the novelty of God'. The Pontiff added that the Marian prayer can bring healing to the world. 'The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic manner - not mechanically and superficially, but profoundly - brings peace and reconciliation. It contains the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the heart of each Hail Mary'."
In related articles, Catholic World News reported Pope Sees Revival of Interest in Rosary, and the Vatican Information Service (VIS) released Rosary is Not a Pious Practice Relegated to the Past, reported by EWTN (the Eternal Word Television Network).
Vatican Recognizes Marian Apparitions in France
A May 5 article from the Catholic News Agency. "On Sunday during a Mass celebrated in the town of Laus in the French Alps, Bishop Jean-Michel de Falco of Gap, accompanied by numerous cardinals and archbishops from around the world, announced the official approval of the Church of the Marian apparitions to Benoite (Benedicta) Rencurel between 1664 and 1718.
Bishop de Falco...called it the most singular event to take place in France since the apparitions of Lourdes in 1862.
'Nobody is obliged to believe in apparitions', he continued, 'even in those officially recognized, but if they help us in our faith and our daily lives, why should we reject them?' he asked.
The shrine of Our Lady of Laus attracts some 120,000 pilgrims each year. The Catholic philosopher Jean Guitton called it 'one of the most hidden and powerful shrines of Europe'."
"Benedicta Rencurel...never learned to read or write and her only education came from the homilies at Sunday Mass. One day in May of 1664, [16-year old] Benedicta was caring for the animals of some neighbors and praying the Rosary when she saw a dazzling lady standing on a rock, holding a beautiful child in her arms...The girl's simplicity brought a smile to the Lady's face, but she said nothing. 'Beautiful Lady! Could you give us that child? He would make us so happy'. The Lady smiled again without responding. After remaining a few minutes with Benedicta, she took the child in her arms and disappeared.
For four months, the Lady appeared to Benedicta every day, talking to her and preparing her for her future mission. Benedicta told the woman who owned the flock that she cared for about the visions, but she did not believe her. One day, however, the woman secretly followed her to the Fours valley. She didn't see the vision, but she did hear Mary's voice, who told Benedicta to warn her that her soul was in danger. 'She has something on her conscience', Mary said. 'Tell her to do penance'. The woman was deeply moved by the message, returned to the sacraments and lived piously for the rest of her days.
On August 29, Benedicta asked the Lady what her name was. She replied, 'My name is Mary'.
During the winter of 1664-1665, Benedicta went up to Laus frequently, each time receiving a vision of the Blessed Mother, who told her to 'pray continuously for sinners'. News of the apparitions spread throughout the entire region.
Benedicta took the mission she received from Mary seriously, and dedicated herself to preparing sinners to receive the sacrament of Penance. She encouraged the two priests at the shrine to receive penitents with charity and kindness in order to help them convert.
Today the shrine is run by diocesan clergy with the assistance of a community of the Brothers of St. John who are dedicated to promoting the sacrament of Reconciliation."
Feast of the Ascension of the Lord - Thursday May 1
Here is an article from Catholic Culture on this feast, sometimes celebrated on the Seventh Sunday of Easter (this year on May 4). The Ascension of the Risen Lord to Heaven, after spending several weeks on earth, is the Second Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary.
In related reading, here is a Carl Olson posting on Ignatius.com's blog, Ignatius Insight Scoop: Joseph Ratzinger on the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord. It is excerpted from Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)'s book Images of Hope: Meditations on Major Feasts.
Learning About Mary
AmericanCatholic.org is offering this special feature page, captioned: "What does the Bible say about Mary? Why is she the 'first disciple'? Explore the Blessed Mother during May in our feature, Learning About Mary." MAY is the month of Mary!" (This caption has since been removed.)
Their Learning About Mary page contains links to information about Our Lady of Lourdes, Mary and the Bible, What Catholics Believe About Mary, Devotion to Mary, and Catalog Resources About Mary.
Holy Father Praying for Human Dignity and Missionaries in May
An April 30 article from the Catholic News Agency. "This morning the Vatican released the Pope's prayer intentions for the month of May. For this coming month, Benedict XVI is praying that Christians become more involved in promoting human dignity in society and that Mary will continue to guide missionaries around the world.
Pope Benedict's general prayer intention for May is: 'That Christians may use literature, art and the mass media to greater advantage in order to favor a culture which defends and promotes the values of the human person'."
Confirmed: Pope to Visit Lourdes, Paris in September
An April 29 article from Catholic World News. "The French bishops' conference has confirmed that Pope Benedict XVI will visit Paris and Lourdes in September...for ceremonies marking the 150th anniversary of the Virgin Mary's appearances to St. Bernadette Soubirous.
In March of this year the newspaper Figaro carried a report that the papal visit would be September 12- 14 and would include a visit to Paris. The French bishops have now confirmed that report, with a slight revision of the dates; the trip will be September 12- 15. The Pope will begin his visit in Paris, with his schedule including Vespers at Notre Dame cathedral, a meeting with young people and a public papal Mass. On September 13, Pope Benedict will travel to Lourdes for the anniversary observances there. The Holy See has not yet formally announced the timing of the papal trip. The Vatican traditionally reveals plans for a papal voyage only a few weeks before the trip takes place."
New Vatican Stamps Mark Lourdes Anniversary
On the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions at Lourdes, the Vatican is releasing two stamps, one 0.65 Euros and another 0.85 Euros.
Relic Tour Unites Military Families Together in Prayer
An April 28 article from the Catholic News agency. "A Los Angeles-based apostolate is sending relics of Catholic saints to U.S. troops based around the world and to their families in the United States. The Apostolate for Holy Relics (AHR), working with the Archdiocese for Military Services in Washington, D.C., is touring military bases with the relics of saints who are patrons of armed forces. The tour is co-sponsored by the Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George. AHR is bringing to military bases the relics of St. Anthony of Padua (patron saint of sailors), St. Therese of Lisieux (patron of pilots and aircrew) and St. Ignatius Loyola (patron of soldiers). The tour began on April 22 with an opening celebration at the Archdiocese for Military Services Chapel in Washington, D.C. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio presided over the event.
More than a dozen stops are scheduled for the tour and more are being added as military bases request them. The schedule is available at www.relictour.org".
April 28 is the Memorial of St. Louis Mary de Montfort, Priest
The life of St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) was "inseparable from his efforts to promote genuine devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus and mother of the church. Totus tuus (completely yours) was Louis' personal motto; Karol Wojtyla [Pope John Paul II] chose it as his episcopal motto.
After being educated by the Jesuits and the Sulpicians, St. Louis was ordained as a diocesan priest in 1700. Soon he began preaching parish missions throughout western France. His years of ministering to the poor prompted him to travel and live very simply, sometimes getting him into trouble with church authorities. In his preaching, which attracted thousands of people back to the faith, Father Louis recommended frequent, even daily, Holy Communion (not the custom then!) and imitation of the Virgin Mary's ongoing acceptance of God's will for her life. Louis founded the Missionaries of the Company of Mary (for priests and brothers) and the Daughters of Wisdom, who cared especially for the sick. His book, True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, has become a classic explanation of Marian devotion. In it, St. Louis said 'Mary is the fruitful Virgin, and in all the souls in which she comes to dwell she causes to flourish purity of heart and body, rightness of intention and abundance of good works. Do not imagine that Mary, the most fruitful of creatures who gave birth to a God, remains barren in a faithful soul. It will be she who makes the soul live incessantly for Jesus Christ, and will make Jesus live in the soul'.
New York Abortuary Closes After 40-Day Prayer Vigil
An April 25 report from Catholic World News. "An abortion clinic in Rockland County, New York, announced its closing on April 25. It was one of 50 American abortion centers targeted by the 40 Days for Life prayer campaign."
National campaign director David "Bereit said there are also reports that two Planned Parenthood locations where 40 Days for Life prayer vigils were held have stopped performing abortions. One is in Lincoln, Nebraska and the other is in Council Bluffs, Iowa. In both cases the cessation of abortions was unexpected. 40 Days for Life is a community-based campaign that features 40 days of prayer and fasting, constant peaceful vigil outside an abortion facility and intense public outreach. Plans are now under way for another round of concurrent 40 Days for Life campaigns this fall."
In related news, an amendment has recently been proposed to Canada's Criminal Code; Bill C-484 is also known as the Unborn Victims of Crime Act. It "would recognize intentional assault upon an unborn child as a separate offense from assault upon the pregnant mother. On March 5th, Bill C-484 passed its second reading in the House of Commons by a vote of 147 to 132, and was sent for further study to the parliament's Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights". Incidentally, the wording of Bill C-484 does not interfere with a Canadian woman's right to choose an abortion (but would be an important step toward legally protecting the right to life of ALL unborn children). The public debate around Bill C-484 is now heating up. If you are Canadian, please encourage our Members of Parliament to vote in favour of it - it's simple! Here is a one-page petition, with room for up to 25 signatures of supporters (each sheet of signatures must include the text of the petition in order to be valid). It may be mailed POSTAGE-FREE to MP Ken Epp at the House of Commons in Ottawa. We need to pro-actively engage the culture in which we all live, particularly in support of human life!
Thousands Flock to [Venerate] Exhumed Body of Saint Padre Pio
Saint Padre Pio urged the faithful to pray the Rosary often, prayed it himself continually, and always carried one in his hand or with him. Our homepage contains the following quote from St. Pio: 'The Rosary is THE WEAPON'.
The life of Saint 'Padre' Pio, an Italian Roman Catholic Capuchin priest, was marked by striking miracles. He bore the stigmatic marks of Christ on his own hands, feet and side for 50 years until just before his death in 1968. A January 8 Catholic News Agency article contains further interesting details about Saint Pio: "His fellow friars credited him with more than a thousand miraculous cures. He was also said to have emitted the scent of flowers and to have possessed the ability to bilocate, that is, to be in two places at once. The saint was shunned by church authorities and recognized only after massive popular devotion to him. He is especially popular in Australia and Ireland. Padre Pio's shrine draws close to one million pilgrims each year, and the hospital he founded in San Giovanni Rotondo is one of the biggest in southern Italy."
This April 23 Catholic News Agency article reports that "Archbishop Domenico d'Ambrosio of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo, said the exhuming of the remains 'was a gesture of prayer and praise to give thanks to God for giving us a sign of the mystery of the cross in his faithful servant'.
Embedded in a related March 3 article is a short, must-see video on this remarkable modern-day saint.
This April 24 article from Reuters contains a clear profile of the reconstructed face of Saint Pio, whose body was recently exhumed and found in 'fair condition' 40 years after his death.
'He seems like he is sleeping. Even if they had to re-do the face, its better remembering him this way than looking at a slab of cold marble', said Domenico Masone, deputy mayor of Pietralcina, the town where Padre Pio was born. Some 15,000 devotees attended a Mass said by Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Vatican department that oversees the Catholic Church's saint-making process, before the body went on display in the afternoon.
As of Friday, the first of 750,000 people who have made reservations to see the body between now and December will file past the glass coffin at a rate of about 7,200 a day. There are about 3,000 "Padre Pio Prayer Groups" in the world, with a membership of 3 million. Pope John Paul made him a saint in 2002 before one of the biggest Vatican crowds. Among the stories that surround the monk, who died at the age of 81, is one that he wrestled with the devil one night in his monastery cell and emerged bloodied and bruised."
Exclusive: On day of PA primary, Hillary Clinton wears Madonna Bracelet!
An April 23, 2008 posting from the AmericanPapist.com blog. "Check out this photo of a celebratory Hillary Clinton taken on the night of the [Pennsylvania] primary...So, here it is: on the day of a crucial primary for her campaign, in a state with a large Catholic vote, Hillary Clinton deliberately wears a piece of religious jewelry identifying her with a popular Catholic devotion. Am I surprised? Not at all. After all, it payed off. She won the 'Catholic vote'. But I thought it should be pointed out nonetheless.... what do you think of her choice?"
Holy Father Calls Handicapped to be Signs of Hope, Apostles of Prayer
An April 19 article from the Catholic News Agency. During his stay in New York City, "50 young people with disabilities had the chance to meet with Pope Benedict, who encouraged them to be a sign of hope and to continue to intercede for others with their prayers.
'Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order to see life as God does. God's unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. Through his Cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving love and in so doing shows us the way ahead - the way of hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that hope and charity for others. Dear friends', said the Holy Father, 'I encourage you all to pray every day for our world. There are so many intentions and people you can pray for, including those who have yet to come to know Jesus. And please do continue to pray for me'. Benedict XVI then joked, 'As you know I have just had another birthday. Time passes!' "
The article also links to the full text of the Pope's message.
At Ground Zero, Pope Offers Silent Prayer, Comforts Survivors
A touching April 20 article from the Catholic News Service (use 'Click for more info' link below). It also refers to our April 11 bloglet below, entitled Pope to Pray at Ground Zero.
In related news, the Catholic News Agency reported on April 19 that Pope Calls for a New Pentecost to Launch Renewal of American Church. The Catholic Education Resource Center (CERC) featured two interesting articles (dated April 18 & 21) by Father Raymond D'Souza, both re-printed from Canada's National Post newspaper, called Benedict Kept Ahead of Sexual Abuse Issue, and Freedom is Not Opting Out, Pope Says (regarding Catholic education). Also from the CERC is an excellent April 20 article by author Peggy Noonan, this one re-printed from the New York Post, entitled Flock Feeling His 'Charisma of Sincerity'.
Catholic World News reported on April 21 that Pope Ends U.S. Trip with a Challenge in New York. "The Holy Father said that he had come to the US to bring 'the message of hope we are called to proclaim and embody in a world where self-centredness, greed, violence, and cynicism so often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace'...In an exhortation to young Catholics in New York, [he] warned against the blandishments [meaning 'flatteries'] of secular culture and the propaganda that is carried by the mass media. He recalled his own formative years in Germany, 'marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers...before it was fully recognized for the monster it was'. He asked American young people to [be] conscious that 'manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality and tarnishes our imaginations and aspirations'. The Pope made his appeal to New York youth by recalling the martyrs and saints of the American Church in the past. 'And what of today?' he asked. 'Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the streets of New York, in the troubled neighborhoods of large cities, in the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can trust?' The Pope left New York with a challenge for young Catholics to deliver that message."
Both during and after the U.S. papal visit, Catholic World News editor Phil Lawler reflected on Benedict XVI's messages about "America's open approach to diverse religious influences", Catholic Colleges and Universities, pro-choice politicians, and the sex-abuse scandal, in Pope's Challenge, US Bishops' Quick Response, and Three Hot Disputes on the Papal Visit.
Chilean Bishops Deplore Attack Against Our Lady of Carmel at Cathedral of Santiago
An April 21 article from the Catholic News Agency. "The president of the Bishops' Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic, deplored the recent vandalizing of a statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel at the Cathedral of Santiago. 'It is a deplorable and profoundly lamentable act that wounds the faith, love and devotion that the Chilean people have traditionally had for the Mother of God in a historic statue venerated by the entire Chilean nation', the bishop said. Bishop Goic said, 'We don't know who did it, the police need to investigate'. He explained that the entire body of Chilean bishops will go to Santiago for the closing of their meeting 'to make amends for an offense committed against the faith'. Witnesses said they saw a man in his mid-30s dressed in black carry out the vandalism. Police have identified four men as possible suspects in the act.
The statue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel was dressed in vestments made in 1833 that were burned completely during the attack. Workers in the Cathedral were able to put out the flames before the statue was completely destroyed. Speaking to Radio Cooperativa, Father Francisco Javier Manterola, pastor of the church, said, 'The structure is still there, but all of the mantles, the clothing, the adornments and the insignias given to her by the Armed Forces and even by the president, were burned'."
Church Celebrates Feast of St. Bernadette & Our Lady of Lourdes
On April 16, the Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. In early 1858, Mary appeared 18 times in Lourdes France, to young Bernadette Soubirous, now known as Saint Bernadette. During one of these apparitions, the "Lady" identified herself as "the Immaculate Conception" - the doctrine of which had been officially recognized & proclaimed by the Church just over 3 years earlier! During Mary's visits with Bernadette, the two prayed the Rosary together, although Mary recited only the "Glory Be".
Not by chance, on this same day - Wednesday April 16, 2008, during his visit to the United States - Pope Benedict XVI held a "private prayer service and meeting with the 350 bishops of the United States at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception".
While American Catholic's site has this text & audio article on
St. Bernadette, the CatholicCulture.org article is available by clicking on the link just below.
Religious Devotions & Practices
An April 13 entry on the Papal Visit Blog of the USCCB (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) states: "By seemingly fortunate coincidence the release of the 2008 CARA (Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate) Study, 'Sacraments Today: Belief and Practice among U.S. Catholics', coincides with the first pastoral visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States. The study, commissioned by the Department of Communications of the [USCCB], surveyed 1,007 adult Catholics in the U.S. regarding their participation in the sacramental life of the Church." Following is a summary of the statistics on American Catholics' use of the Rosary and devotion to Mary (pages 12-15 and 9-11 respectively).
While just over half of all American Catholics report that they ever pray the Rosary, about one quarter say that they wear or carry a set of rosary beads on them. Women are more than twice as likely than men to have ever prayed the Rosary (62% to 42%), and to wear/carry a set of beads (32% to 13%). While 8% of all American Catholics report that they pray the Rosary at least once a week, another 8% pray it between weekly and monthly, and the majority seldom to never (20% a few times a year, 16% less than once a year and 48% rarely or never!) Since CARA's 2001 poll, the percentage of U.S. Catholics praying the Rosary at least a few times a year has dropped from 44% to 36%.
Looking at how Rosary use varies among American Catholic Mass attendants, a clear pattern emerges: the more frequently Catholics participate at Mass, the more likely they are to pray the Rosary! For example, 23% of those attending Mass daily to weekly, pray the Rosary daily to weekly, but the percentage drops to only 7% among those attending Mass one to three times a month, and down to only 3% among those attending a few times a year or less. At the other end of things, 59% of those who attend Mass daily to weekly, pray the Rosary only a few times a year to never, but the percentage rises to a whopping 80% among those attending Mass one to three times a month and 94% among those attending only a few times a year or less!
Rosary use has also declined over the last four generations of American Catholics: 73% of the Pre-Vatican II generation pray the rosary (39% wear/carry beads), compared with 58% of the Vatican II generation (23% wear/carry beads), 44% of the Post-Vatican II generation (19% wear/carry beads), and 39% of the Millenial generation (16% wear/carry beads).
Interestingly, about 6 in 10 American Catholics report that they have a statue or picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary on display in their home (8 in 10 among those who attend Mass weekly or more). And, regardless of how often they attend Mass, Millennial-generation Catholics are among the most likely to have a statue/picture of Mary in their homes.
Pope Benedict Requests Prayers for 'Spiritual Renewal' in U.S. Visit
An April 13 article from the Catholic News Agency. "After his Sunday Regina Caeli prayers, Pope Benedict XVI addressed in English those gathered in St. Peter's Square, asking them to pray that 'spiritual renewal' would result from his upcoming apostolic journey to the United States" (April 15 to 20, 2008). (Use the 'Click for more info' link below.)
" 'In Christ is our hope! Christ is the foundation of our hope for peace, for justice, and for the freedom that flows from God's law fulfilled in his commandment to love one another', the Holy Father said. 'Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you all to pray for the success of my visit, so that it may be a time of spiritual renewal for all Americans'.
Speaking in Italian before the Regina Caeli prayers, the Holy Father entrusted his upcoming 'special missionary visit' to the United States to Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace. Pope Benedict also asked all Catholics to accompany him in their prayers."
Also of interest, is the videotaped message Pope Benedict sent to the United States, in advance of this week's visit. It's a rare occasion to hear the Holy Father's gentle speaking voice, in English & in Spanish.
During his Regina Caeli address, the Pope also "called attention to the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and encouraged more prayers 'for numerous and holy vocations to the priesthood, to consecrated life and the missions, and to Christian marriage'." Read more in this Apr. 14 Catholic World News article entitled Pray for Vocations, Missions, Pope Urges.
Pope to Pray at Ground Zero
From the Office of Media Relations of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "During his visit to the United States" (whose theme is Christ Our Hope), "Pope Benedict XVI will pray at Ground Zero, which has become the national civic shrine memorializing those who died in 2001 on 9/11. In what will be a stark, near silent event, on the morning of April 20, the pope will descend by vehicle to the 'bedrock' of Ground Zero, accompanied by Cardinal Edward Egan of New York."
"Later in the day the pope will celebrate Mass for more than 60,000 people in Yankee Stadium and then depart from JFK Airport. April 19 marks the third anniversary of Pope Benedict's election to succeed Pope John Paul II, who died in April 2005." (Use 'Click for more info.' link, below.)
On April 11, the Catholic News Agency reported an article entitled Pope to Pray Terrorists 'Turn to the Way of Love' in Ground Zero Visit. It states that "the Pope will pray...'O God of love, compassion, and healing, look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions, who gather today at this site, the scene of incredible violence and pain. We ask you in your goodness to give eternal light and peace to all who died here...victims of this tragedy simply because their work or service brought them here on September 11, 2001...in your compassion...bring healing to those who, because of their presence here that day, suffer from injuries and illness. Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy...We are mindful as well of those who suffered death, injury, and loss on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania...God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world: peace in the hearts of all men and women and peace among the nations of the earth. Turn to your way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred. God of understanding, overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy, we seek your light and guidance as we confront such terrible events'."
The Catholic News Service reported on April 10 that At Ground Zero, Pope will Pray for Vicims and Families, World Peace. "On April 10 the Vatican posted on its Web site the missal Pope Benedict will use during his April 15-20 visit to Washington and New York; the missal includes the prayer he will recite at ground zero April 20." (Begins on page 66.)
Also of interest, is the videotaped message Pope Benedict sent to the United States, in advance of next week's visit. It's a rare occasion to hear the Holy Father's gentle speaking voice, in English & in Spanish.
And, in a related article, Cardinal Bertone Previews Papal Trip.
Children Make 600 Rosaries for Gifts During Papal Visit to New York
An April 9 article from the Catholic News Agency. "Students from Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic School in Staten Island are counting the days until their encounter with Pope Benedict XVI in New York, when they will give him 600 hand-made rosaries as a gift. According to press reports, the children are setting aside time each day to make the rosaries that will be given as gifts during the Pope's encounter with young people in Yonkers at St. Joseph's Seminary. The school sends rosaries twice a year to places as far as Iraq or to nearby homes for the elderly. 'When we go on the bus we will hand out the rosaries for people to pray and if we can we will give them to the Pope', said Cesar Fernandez, a seventh grade student. Like his classmates, Cesar says he is very excited to see the Pope. 'I never thought I would be able to meet him, I have only seen him on the calendar my grandma has here in Staten Island', he said."
Papal Honor for German Marian Shrine
An April 9 article from Catholic World News.
Sri Lankan Bishop Appeals for Peace Zone Near Prominent Marian Shrine
An April 2 article from the Catholic News Service. "With Sri Lankan forces closing in on the Marian shrine of Madhu in northwestern Sri Lanka, Bishop Rayappu Joseph of Mannar, Sri Lanka, has appealed to government forces and the Tamil rebels to leave the area around the shrine a 'zone of peace'.
Tamil rebels had already moved into the church compound, and Sri Lankan soldiers were very close, the bishop said. 'The situation is really serious, and the shrine could be razed to the ground unless an immediate cease-fire is declared there', Bishop Joseph told Catholic News Service April 1 following his appeal.
The Marian shrine at Madhu is one of the biggest pilgrimage centers in Sri Lanka. In mid-August, hundreds of thousands of people from across Sri Lanka obtain a special pass from the government to cross over to Madhu, which is under the control of the Tamil rebels.
Since 1983, the Tamil rebels have been fighting for autonomy for ethnic majority Tamil areas in the north and east of Sri Lanka."
Asia News also reported on April 2 that 4,000 Against War Manoeuvres at the Shrine of Our Lady of Madhu.
Pope, Vatican Recall Death of John Paul II
Pope John Paul II had a great devotion to Mary - who he believed saved his life after a 1981 assassination attempt - and highly recommended the practice of meditating on the Mysteries of Redemption while praying the Holy Rosary (See 2nd last para. in this entry). The Vatican has created a very special site, featuring highlights from Pope John Paul II's pontificate. Enter its timeline, captured in this symbolic picture.
An April 2 article from Catholic World News. "More than 60,000 people attended a morning Mass in St. Peter's Square on April 2 marking the 3rd anniversary of the death of Pope John Paul II.
Pope Benedict XVI recalled that his predecessor's 'many human and supernatural qualities' commanded the world's attention, particularly at the time of his death. 'He literally immersed himself in God, and during those last moments it seems as if everything else was foreign to him', he said.
In his teaching, Pope Benedict continued, John Paul II responded to the horrors of the 20th century with a confidence that Divine Mercy could overcome every form of evil. He said that the Church today must carry on the witness of hope that John Paul II had offered, 'continue in her evangelizing mission, faithfully and without compromise, tirelessly spreading Christ's merciful love'.
The Vatican commemoration of the late Pontiff continued in the evening with Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, the former personal secretary to John Paul II, joining with Cardinal Angelo Comastri, the archpriest of the Vatican basilica, in leading the recitation of the Rosary at the tomb of John Paul II. The Rosary was scheduled to conclude at 9:37, the time when the Pope died."
The Catholic News Agency also reported on the third anniversary of Pope John Paul II's death, in John Paul II was 'a Sign and Witness of the Resurrection of Christ', says Pope. And, in a related story, Catholic World News also reported on April 2 that Case Nears Completion for Beatification of John Paul II. (Beatification would give him the title 'Blessed' - as in 'Pope Blessed John Paul II' - and, is the step before Canonization as a 'Saint'.
Faithful Offered Chance to Have Pope Pray for their Intentions
An April 2 article from the Catholic News Agency. "With less than two weeks left to go before Pope Benedict arrives in the United States, the rector of the National Shrine, Msgr. Walter Rossi, is offering people the opportunity to participate in evening prayer with the Pope by sending him their prayer intentions.
Anyone who wishes to have their prayer intentions included at the celebration of Vespers, can do so by emailing them to email@example.com no later than Friday, April 11, 2008."
Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for April
From EWTN (Eternal World Television Network) News.
Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord
This solemn feast is usually observed on March 25 (9 months prior to Christmas Day) but, because the 25th fell during Easter week this year, it was moved to March 31.
The Annuncation of the Lord to Mary by the Angel Gabriel is the First Joyful Mystery of the Holy Rosary. It "commemorates the most sublime moment in the history of time, the moment when the Second Divine Person of the most Holy Trinity assumed human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary.
In the Garden of Eden, Satan, the fallen angel, addresses Eve, enticing her to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. As a result, "death takes possession of her: death of the soul, for sin extinguishes the light of life; and death of the body, which being separated from the source of immortality, becomes an object of shame and horror, and finally crumbles into dust.
But let us turn away our eyes from this sad spectacle, and fix them on Nazareth. Mary has heard the angel's explanation of the mystery; the will of heaven is made known to her, and how grand an honor it is to bring upon her! She, the humble maid of Nazareth, is to have the ineffable happiness of becoming the Mother of God, and yet the treasure of her virginity is to be left to her! Mary bows down before this sovereign will, and says to the heavenly messenger: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word'.
Never was there a more entire or humiliating defeat than that which this day befell satan. The frail creature, over whom he had so easily triumphed at the beginning of the world, now rises and crushes his proud head. Eve conquers in Mary...therefore she who was the first prey of hell, the first victim of the tempter, is selected to give battle to the enemy. The result of so glorious a triumph is that Mary is to be superior not only to the rebel angels, but to the whole human race, yea, to all the angels of heaven. Seated on her exalted throne, she, the Mother of God, is to be the Queen of all creation. Satan, in the depths of the abyss, will eternally bewail his having dared to direct his first attack against the woman, for God has now so gloriously avenged her..."
Here are two articles from American Catholic: Annunciation of the Lord, and a detailed December 2005 article called The Annunciation: The Angels Message to Mary, which includes a consideration of Mary's life prior to the Annunciation, and many related references in the Old Testament. Similar to this second article, is The Original Mary: Our Lady's Life Before the Annunciation - What was Mary's life like before the angel Gabriel appeared to her?, from the Catholic Education Resource Center's website.
Wanted: One Million Americans to Pray Pro-Life Rosary (9-10 AM on May 3)
A March 28 article from the Catholic News Agency. "Patrick Benedict, President of the Saint Michael the Archangel Organization, said, 'The primary way to stop the killing of unborn babies is not by way of politics and is not by way of education. The person battling the Culture of Death* is primarily in a spiritual battle and needs to use spiritual weaponry', he continued. 'The Rosary is a powerful spiritual weapon, and I hope there will be at least one million people in the United States taking hold of their Rosaries on May 3'."
* Here's some information on the Culture of Life.
Hallelujah Echoes from the Church's Heart at Easter, Benedict XVI Teaches
A March 26 article from the Catholic News Agency. "On Easter Monday, the Pope simultaneously addressed pilgrims at Castelgandolfo and in St. Peter's Square on the subject of the Easter exclamation Hallelujah.
Jesus' Resurrection is 'Certain Proof' of His Teachings, says Pope
Christ's Resurrection from death is the First Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary. This March 26 article from the Catholic News Agency reports that "Over 30,000 people swelled St. Peter's Square today to take part in the weekly general audience with Pope Benedict, who arrived by helicopter from his Castelgandolfo residence. The Holy Father dedicated his discourse to the period of Easter, and more specifically, to the fact that Jesus' resurrection is 'certain proof...that what He says is true'.
Christ's Easter, he went on, 'is also our Easter because in the risen Christ we are given the certainty of our final resurrection.'
'It is important to reiterate this fundamental truth of our faith', explained the Holy Father, 'the historical truth of which is amply documented, even if today as in the past there is no lack of people who put it in doubt or even deny it'.
The Pope pointed to the effects of doubt versus belief in the Resurrection saying, 'The weakening of faith in the resurrection of Jesus leads to the weakening of the testimony of believers...Whereas adhesion to Christ, dead and risen, changes lives and illuminates the entire life of individuals and peoples.
'The liturgy invites us - and especially in this octave of Easter - to encounter the Risen One personally and to recognize His life-giving action in the events of history and in our daily lives'.
As with the disciples of Emmaus who figure in today's Gospel, 'the Lord is walking with us and he explains the Scripture to us. He brings us to understand this mystery in which everything speaks of Him. This should make our hearts burn so that our eyes may also be opened. The Lord is with us, He shows us the true path'."
Vatican's Triduum Celebrations Chinese Themed
A March 24 article from the Catholic News Agency.
Intercession of Virgin Mary Prevented War in South America, Newspaper Reveals
A March 24 article from the Catholic News Agency. "The Colombian daily El Tiempo revealed on Holy Saturday that a crisis that could have ended in an open conflict between Colombia, Ecuador and Venezuela was averted by Colombian President Alvaro Uribe confiding the situation to the intercession of Mary under the three different titles by which she is the country's patroness.
The crisis between Colombia and its southern (Ecuador) and northeastern (Venezuela) neighbors started On March 1, when Uribe ordered a military raid into Ecuador's territory against a rebel camp used by Marxist guerrillas to launch terrorist strikes. The raid targeted and killed the No. 2 FARC rebel leader, Raul Reyes. In response, Ecuador's President Rafael Correa cut all diplomatic relationships with Colombia. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Correa's political ally, ordered a massive military surge to the Colombian border as well.
Quoting Fr. Julio Solorzano, Chaplain of Colombia's Presidential Palace, El Tiempo revealed that on March 5, when the rhetoric and blames between the presidents was increasing tensions, President Uribe called for a Rosary to pray for the end of tensions. The Rosary, prayed at the Presidential Palace's chapel, was dedicated, upon Uribe's request, to the Marian to Our Lady of Chiquinquira, Our Lady of Coromoto and Our Lady of Mercy, respectively the patronesses of Colombia, Venezuela and Ecuador. Uribe invited all officials at the Presidential palace to the Rosary, as well as the minister of Defense and the Interior. 'For believers, El Tiempo wrote, the prayer was more than effective, since only two days after the presidents of the three countries shook hands during the Group of Rio summit, and for many the crisis was over'.
In fact, on [March] 7, at the Dominican Republic summit, the three presidents vented their differences, but agreed to stand down after Colombia apologized for the raid.
'The President is a man of faith, he always carries with him a wooden Cross and a Rosary. I have heard him pray several times in the motorcade or on the presidential airplane. He always tries to be coherent with his faith in his work, pleasing God with what he does', Fr. Solorzano was quoted by the 'El Tiempo'."
Giving more details about the military, political & economic situation in this part of Latin America is the March 14 CNS article, In Latin America, the Saber Rattling's Over, But Fallout Could Remain.
A March 23 article from the website Catholic Culture (use 'Click for more info' link, below).
The Resurrection of Christ is the First Glorious Mystery of the Holy Rosary.
Here is the Pope's Easter Message and Blessing 'Urbi et Orbi' (to the city [of Rome] and to the world) - in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish (just scroll down for language of your choice).
Highlights of this Easter homily were reported by both the Catholic News Agency in Pope Urges All People to be Open to Redeeming Power of Resurrected Jesus - Tibet, Middle East and Africa Receive Special Exhortation, and by the Catholic News Service in Pope Says Risen Christ Vanquished Sin, Death.
Catholic Culture also has articles on each of the coming days of the Easter Octave (8 days):
Monday in the Octave of Easter
Tuesday in the Octave of Easter
Wednesday in the Octave of Easter
Thursday in the Octave of Easter
Friday in the Octave of Easter
Saturday in the Octave of Easter
Divine Mercy Sunday
And, the website American Catholic has a special daily series on the whole Easter Season which gives daily reflections, etc. from Holy Thursday (March 20) all the way through to Palm Sunday (April 11), and also allows you to read up on any individual day within this season, i.e. Good Friday, or Divine Mercy Sunday (March 30), etc. It is called From Easter to Pentecost.
A March 22 article from Catholic Culture's website (use 'Click for more info' link, below).
Here - in Italian, French, English, German, Spanish and Portuguese - is the Pope's Easter Vigil homily (just scroll down for language of your choice).
On March 23, the Catholic News Agency included the full English translation of the Holy Father's homily in this article entitled All Catholics Should Be Men and Women of the Light', says Pope at Easter Vigil. The article begins, "Pope Benedict XVI presided over the solemn celebration of the Easter Vigil at St. Peter's Basilica on Saturday evening. During the ceremony, which is the highest celebration of the year, he received into the Church, by the Sacrament of Baptism, seven new Catechumens from different parts of the world, included one noted Italian Muslim convert."
In three related articles, Muslim Journalist's Conversion Stuns Europe, Islamic World, High-Profile Muslim Baptized by Pope Asks Muslim Converts to 'Come Out', and Magdi Allam Recounts His Path to Conversion.
And interestingly, on March 31, Reuters reported: Muslims More Numerous than Catholics: Vatican. On March 28, the Catholic News Agency reported that Saudi Monarch Proposes Monotheistic Religious Dialogue with 'Our Brothers' (i.e. Christian & Jewish) and on March 26 that Ugandan President Teaches Muammar Gaddafi About Christianity. Also, on March 20 The Christian Post reported that Ex-Soviet Leader Gorbachev Revives 'Closet Christian' Rumors, and Catholic World News that Gorbachev Professes Christian Faith.
A March 21 article from the website, Catholic Culture (use 'Click for more info' link, below).
The crucifixion and death of Christ is the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery of the Holy Rosary.
Vatican Radio's website features the homily from the Good Friday Passion liturgy, given by Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa in St. Peter's Basilica, The Passion of Christ and Christian Unity.
And, the website AsiaNews.it features both a report on the Holy Father's words following the Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) ceremony on Good Friday at the Colosseum in Rome - entitled Let the cross unsettle our human certainties, says the Pope - as well as Hong Kong bishop, Cardinal Zen's Way of the Cross meditations and prayers.
A March 20 article from the Catholic Culture website (use 'Click for more info' link, below).
The Institution of the Sacrament of the Eucharist (transubstantiation of consecrated bread & wine into the Body & Blood of Christ) - which Christ accomplished during the Last Supper - is the Fifth Luminous Mystery of the Holy Rosary.
The website AsiaNews.it, reports on Pope Benedict XVI's words, following his washing the feet of 12 priests in the Roman Cathedral, the Basilia of St. John Lateran (part of Holy Thursday's Mass of the Lord's Supper): In the Washing of the Feet, Jesus' Mission Finds Completion, Says Pope.
The Easter Triduum Renews in us Great Hope, Says Holy Father
A March 19 article from the Catholic News Agency. "Greeting thousands of young pilgrims in Rome for Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI gave a catechesis on the Easter Triduum" (Holy Thursday, Good Friday & Easter).
"Speaking first of Holy Thursday, the Holy Father said the Church recalls the Last Supper during which, on the eve of [Christ's] passion and death, established the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood. On that same night, he said, 'Jesus left us the new commandment, the commandment of fraternal love'.
the Last Supper recalls the time when 'Christ is given to all of us as nourishment of salvation, as the immortal remedy. The mystery of the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life. In this sacrament of salvation the Lord gave, for all those who believe in Him, the most intimate possible union between our and his life'. In the concrete gesture of washing the feet of the apostles, the Lord also expresses the primacy of love that is both a service and gift of oneself to another.
Holy Friday is that day that recalls the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus when Christians gather to meditate on the great mystery of evil and sin that oppress unity.
Other expressions of piety, such as the Way of the Cross, have developed across centuries and cultures to help the faithful recall the painful journey that led the Jesus to the Cross, a mount of love to the end.
Holy Saturday, Pope Benedict said, is marked by a profound silence.
'We actually need a day of silence to meditate on the reality of human life, the forces of evil and great force for good stemming from the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. Great importance is given on this day of participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation" (also known as 'Confession'), "'which is an essential way to purify the heart and prepare to celebrate Easter with renewed hearts. We need this inner purification of renewal at least once annually', Pope Benedict said. Saturday's silence, meditation, forgiveness, and reconciliation leads into the Easter Vigil, which introduces the most important Sunday of history, the Sunday of Easter of Christ. 'With his death, Christ defeated evil forever and has given to all men of the very life of God'.
'We know that hatred, divisions, and violence never have the last word in the events of history. These days renew in us great hope: Christ crucified and risen won the world. Love is stronger than hatred...So we must start afresh from Christ and work in communion with him for a world based on peace, justice and on love. But...let us be guided by Mary, who has accompanied the Son of God on the path of the passion and of the cross and took part, with the strength of faith, in realizing of his plan of salvation'."
Wednesday of Holy Week - 'Spy Wednesday'(March 19)
A March 19 article from the website Catholic Culture.
Catholics consecrate new church [Our Lady of the Rosary] in Qatar
A March 18 article from the Catholic News Agency. "Despite threats from Islamic radicals, thousands of Christians on Saturday took part in the first Mass to be held at the Muslim nation of Qatar's only church, Agence France Presse reports.
Cardinal Ivan Dias, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Evangelization of the Peoples and the envoy sent by the Vatican, presided over the Mass which was attended by around 15,000 worshippers. Cardinal Dias thanked 'God and Qatar for this great gift'.
The Roman Catholic church, named Our Lady of the Rosary, accommodates around 5,000 worshippers. The $20 million building has no bell or crosses on its exterior, similar to other nondescript churches in some Muslim states. It is the first of five churches to be built in Qatar.
Catholics began arriving at the church early on Saturday morning. Big screens were erected on the church grounds so that those outside could follow the consecration rite."
This story was also reported by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's (CBC), Mideast Dispatches blog in a March 21, 2008 posting entitled Faith in the desert: Qatar's first official Catholic church.
In a related March 18 article from the Catholic News Agency, Vatican in talks to open church in Saudia Arabia.
Police Say Rosaries Are Newest Gang Symbol
A March 16 article from USA Today.
Dozens Sun-Blinded in India After Marian Apparition Rumor
A March 12 article from the Catholic News Agency. "At least 50 in India have been blinded after staring at the sun in the hope of seeing an apparition of the Virgin Mary, the Telegraph reports. Devotees have flocked to a hotel manager's house in Erumeli, near where the apparition is rumored to have occurred...the house has been the object of attention for months...Clergy have disavowed the apparition after being approached by health officers and doctors."
Pope, Orthodox Patriarch Join in Prayer
A March 6 article from Catholic World News.
"Pope Benedict XVI and Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople met and prayed together at the Vatican on March 6.
After a brief conversation, the Pope and the Ecumenical Patriarch went to the Urban VII chapel of the apostolic palace for a time of prayer, saying the Lord's Prayer together in Latin.
The Orthodox patriarch was in Rome to join in ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. Patriarch Bartholomew was a student there in the 1960s, earning a doctorate before his ordination to the Orthodox priesthood in 1969.
Pope Benedict and Patriarch Bartholomew, who have pledged their joint efforts toward the restoration of full Christian unity, were meeting for the 3rd time since the Pope was elected to Peter's throne in 2005. Their first meeting was in November 2006 when the Pope traveled to Istanbul to join with the Orthodox leader in celebrating the feast of St. Andrew, the patron of the Constantinople see. (Patriarch Bartholomew had issued an invitation for such a papal visit immediately after Benedict's election as Roman Pontiff.) They met again in October 2007 when the Orthodox Patriarch traveled to Italy to participate in the International Meeting for Peace in Naples.
Catholic World News also reported this story in their March 6 article entitled Pope, Orthodox Patriarch Meet Privately, Pray Together.
Christians in Middle East Pray for Release of Kidnapped Iraqi Archbishop
A March 5 article from the Catholic News Agency. "The Christian communities in Iraq have launched a prayer campaign for the release of Catholic Chaldean Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho of Mosul, who was kidnapped by a group of armed men on February 29. Fides news agency reported that after the call by Pope Benedict XVI and international institutions such as the European Union to release the prelate, Iraqi Christians of diverse rites and confessions asked the faithful of the world to join in prayer for his release.
They also urged 'all the believers of Mosul to continue being faithful witnesses of the Risen Savior' and to pray 'that the captors might be touched by the love of God' and free Archbishop Faraj, who is in delicate health and in need of medicine.
Archbishop Louis Sako of Kirkuk said the situation in Mosul is 'very painful and fear is spreading'. However, he went on, 'we are hoping and working with other groups to save the archbishop'. The 'mayor of Mosul, the Council of Imams and other groups have begun to work for his liberation', Archbishop Sako said."
Update of Mar. 13/08: Kidnapped Archbishop of Mosul Dies in Captivity, and Benedict XVI Offers Mass for Soul of Iraqi Archbishop.
Catholic University Students Pray the Rosary with Pope Via Satellite
A March 4 article from the Catholic News Service.
"About 100 students at The Catholic University of America in Washington began their spring break by praying the rosary with Pope Benedict XVI via satellite from Vatican City March 1. Thousands more university students from other countries joined the satellite transmission in celebration of the sixth Day of Prayer for European and American University Students. Besides Washington, participants were in Havana; Mexico City; Toledo, Spain; Aparecida, Brazil; Loja, Ecuador; Naples, Italy; Avignon, France; Bucharest, Romania; and Minsk, Belarus.
Students from each university greeted the pope, some by jumping, waving flags and with spirited applause, as he entered the Paul VI audience hall in Vatican City. A smile stretched across the pope's face as students from Catholic University applauded and held up banners that read '46 Days and Counting. See You Soon!' referencing the pope's upcoming visit to Washington in April. Pope Benedict will be in Washington April 15-17 and then will be in New York City April 18-20.
During the prayer service, Alba Garcia Bellon, a 19-year-old student from the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain, said she found her faith on a pilgrimage to Fatima, Portugal, when she was 14 years old. She also thanked the pope for showing the students hope. 'We university students should invite all to the life of hope which comes from faith and commit ourselves to working toward a new synthesis between faith and reason', she said.
A freshman, Deirdre Lawler, noted the 'beautiful sense of unity that we had with the satellite connection'. Catholic University students led the other participants around the world in praying the fifth glorious mystery: Mary is crowned queen of heaven and earth.
Maeve O'Doherty, a senior majoring in philosophy, said it was amazing to see the pontiff united in prayer with everyone. 'You could just experience his love even though it was over electronics', she said."
Papal Trip to Lourdes Set for September?
A March article from Catholic World News.
"Pope Benedict XVI will travel to visit France in September, according to the Paris daily Le Figaro.
The Vatican has not confirmed plans for the papal trip, but Church officials had disclosed that the Pope would travel to Lourdes sometime this year to join in celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of the Marian apparitions there.
According to Le Figaro, the Pope's trip will take place September 12-14 and will include a visit to Paris. While in the capital the Pontiff is expected to meet with President Nicolas Sarkozy and address representatives of "the world of culture', the newspaper said."
Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for March
A February 29 article from the Catholic News Agency. The Pope's general prayer intention for this month is "'that the importance of forgiveness and reconciliation between persons and people may be understood and that the Church, through her testimony, may spread Christ's love, the source of new humanity'.
His mission intention is: 'That Christians, who are persecuted in many parts of the world and in various manners because of the Gospel, may continue, sustained by the strength of the Holy Spirit, to bear witness courageously and openly to the Word of God'."
First Catholic Church in Arabic Country to be Dedicated to Mary
A February 29 article from the Catholic News Agency. "The first Catholic Church in an Arab Muslim emirate will be dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary...on March 14...in Doha, the captial of Qatar. The church was built on land donated by Emir Amir Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who in recent years has become a supporter of inter-religious dialogue, despite keeping Islamic law in place which forbids Muslims to convert to other religions. Qatar, which has 800,000 inhabitants, established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 2003."
Marian Masses in Lent and Advent - And More on Purification of Sacred Vessels
A February 26 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
Prayer: Font of Beauty and Love - Encyclopedia on Conversation with God Released
A February 24 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
Cardinal Urges Cuban Youth to Pray Rosary - Says Nation and Church Have a 'Promising Future'
A February 24 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
Exiled Cubans Join in Prayer Campaign Called for by Archbishop
A February 22 article from the Catholic News Agency.
Chair of Peter Feast Seen as Day to Pray for Education
A February 22 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
Pope Releases Message for Day of Prayer for Vocations
A February 22 article from Catholic World News.
Papal Message for Pray-for-Vocations Day - Vocations 'Flourish in a Spiritual Soil that is Well Cultivated'
A February 22 article from Rome's Zenit Neww Agency.
The Relevance of Lourdes at 150 - Interview with Bishop Jacques Perrier
A February 20 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
Reporter Impressed by Lourdes Research - Says Truth Triumphed Over Slanderous Stories
A February 19 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
New Jersey Bishops Call for Day of Prayer to Protect Marriage - Feb. 17
A February 15 article from LifeSiteNews.com.
Healing of Religious Would be First Miracle Attributed to Our Lady of Lourdes for a Latin American
A February 14 article from the Catholic News Agency.
Pilgrims Touch, Bathe, Drink for Mary's Intervention at Lourdes
A February 14 article from the Catholic News Service.
Ontario Catholic Premier Wants to Scrap the Lord's Prayer from the Legislature
A February 14 article from Lifesite.com.
Pope Reduces Waiting Period for Sainthood Cause for Fatima Visionary
A February 13 article from the Catholic News Service.
Former Soviet Country Celebrates Lourdes Apparitions - Conference Focuses on a Future Accompanied by Mary
A February 12 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency. "Orthodox and Russians gathered in Minsk with Catholics of Belarus to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Mary's apparitions in Lourdes and to consider Our Lady's role in their personal and national history. Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk led the celebration, titled 'Into the Future With the Immaculata'."
Lourdes Celebrates 150th Anniversary of Marian Apparitions
A February 11 article from the Catholic News Agency. A Catholic World News' report of the same is entitled Over 55,000 at Lourdes for 150th Anniversary Mass. And, the Catholic News Service reports from Washington's Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception that Mass for World Day of Sick Stresses Healing, Ties to Lourdes Shrine and Lourdes Bishop Says Mary Sought Devotion to Jesus, Eucharist. And, the Catholic Education Resource Center (CERC) website offered this February 11 article entitled Lourdes and the Modern World
Cardinals Hoping for 5th Marian Dogma - to Declare Mary as Mother of Humanity
A February 11 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency. "Five cardinals have sent a letter inviting prelates worldwide to join them in petitioning Benedict XVI to declare a fifth Marian dogma they said would...proclaim Mary as 'the Spiritual Mother of All Humanity, the co-redemptrix with Jesus the redeemer, mediatrix of all graces with Jesus the one mediator, and advocate with Jesus Christ on behalf of the human race'."
Containing the text of the letter petitioning Pope Benedict XVI, is another Zenit article, entitled Cardinal's Letter Promoting Marian Dogma - 'Over 500 Bishops Have Sent Their Request for This Solemn Definition'.
Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes - February 11
This article from Catholic Culture, describes this feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, as does American Catholic's site. Here also, is a February 10 article from the Catholic News Agency, entitled Pope Recalls the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes.
The Challenge of Finding Peace in Lourdes
A February 9 article from BBC News. It is a transcript from the BBC Radio program "From Our Own Correspondent". In it, reporter Emma Jane Kirby writes about her experience and impressions of Lourdes after a recent visit. It's a pretty lean account, not even mentioning the 150th anniversary jubilee celebrations planned for this year! Hmmm...
Pope on Ash Wednesday: Prayer is 'Engine of the World'
A February 7 article from the Cathoic News Agency
Other reports of the Pope's Ash Wednesday homily reveal other facets of his message: Hope Without Prayer is Illusion, Pope Says at Ash Wednesday Mass, Pope Benedict XVI: Prayer, the Main 'Weapon' in the Fight Against Evil, Prayer is Primary Weapon for Lenten Spiritual Struggle, Pope Says, and Benedict XVI: Prayer Keeps Us Open to Others.
President Bush in Last Address to National Prayer Breakfast
A February 7 article from LifeSiteNews.net
"Pope Praying for Colombia Captive"
A February 6 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency, regarding former Colombian presidential candidate Ingrid Betancourt, kidnapped 6 years ago. She has dual Colombian and French citizenships.
Update! This July 3 article from the Catholic News Service reports Pope expresses joy upon hearing news of hostages released in Colombia (15, including Betancourt). Giving some details about the hostages' release is this July 3 article from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), entitled 'Nirvana, Paradise' as Betancourt Reunites with Her Kids.
Pope Benedict XVI Issues New Good Friday Prayer for the Jews
A February 5 article from the Catholic News Agency...and a subsequent February 7 article from Catholic World News, entitled The Forum: Jewish Leaders Cannot Accept a Prayer for Conversion.
Pope's February Prayer Intentions
A February 1 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
Abortion Opponents in 59 U.S. Cities Set to Pray, Fast and Demonsrate for 40 Days Straight
A January 22 article from LifeSite.Net
Papal Homiy on Feast of Christ's Baptism - 'Parents Thus Become Collaborators of God'
January 21 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency.
Pray for Christian Unity, Pontiff Encourages Faithful
January 21 article from Catholic World News.
Pope Invokes Virgin Mary, Eucharist to Aid the Sick
A January 21 article from Catholic World News
'Never Grow Tired of Praying for Christian Unity', Pope Tells Crowd
January 20 article from the Catholic News Agency.
North American and European Bishops Offer Hope and Prayers for Just Peace in the Holy Land
A January 19 article from the Catholic News Agency, reporting on the previous week's annual meeting of North American and European bishops with local elements of the Church in the Holy Land. They visited both the Israeli & Palestinian PMs, the Israeli Interior Minister and the Palestinian President, as well as parishes in Ramallah, Bethlehem, Rafidia, Jenin and Zababdeh, and students & faculty from Bethlehem University. They encouraged Western Catholics to make pilgrimages to the Holy Land, "visiting both the holy places and the living Catholic communities that witness to Christ in the land of his birth. Though the bishops released a statement describing "signs of hope they had witnessed during their visit", "They concluded, however that for Israel and Palestine, 'It is a time of both opportunity and danger', adding that 'Our sincere hope and prayer is that the leaders and people of Israel and Palestine, with the full support and encouragement of our own nations and international community, will find a path to a just peace...God's grace gives us hope'."
Here are official statements, related to this Holy Land tour, from both the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCSB), and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
And, this related article from Rome's Zenit News Agency, dated January 17, entitled Vatican Might Call a Day of Prayer for Holy Land - Bishops Welcome Patriarch's Proposal".
Cardinal: Ecumenism a "Movement of Prayer" - Says '08 Theme Synthesizes 100 Years of Unity Work
January 18 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency
"Priests for Life Launches Prayer Campaign to Prepare for Roe Anniversary"
A January 15 article from the Catholic News Agency, reporting that "Fr. Frank Pavone, [U.S.] National Director of Priests for Life, has announced a national prayer campaign starting January 14 and running through January 22, 'in reparation for the killing of tens of millions of children by abortion'. Anyone interested in joining the effort is invited to join the Novena of Prayer at www.PrayerCampaign.org, where there is a short prayer to say each day." It is as follows:
Prayer to End Abortion
Lord God, I thank you today for the gift of my life,
And for the lives of all my brothers and sisters.
I know there is nothing that destroys more life than abortion,
Yet I rejoice that you have conquered death
by the Resurrection of Your Son.
I am ready to do my part in ending abortion.
Today I commit myself
Never to be silent,
Never to be passive,
Never to be forgetful of the unborn.
I commit myself to be active in the pro-life movement,
And never to stop defending life
Until all my brothers and sisters are protected,
And our nation once again becomes
A nation with liberty and justice
Not just for some, but for all,
Through Christ our Lord. Amen!
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Begins This Friday
A January 15 article from the Catholic News Agency reports that this year's week will begin this Friday, January 18. "The theme chosen for this year's initiative, taken from the First Letter of Paul to the Thessalonians, is: Pray without ceasing." The article links to this ecumenical movement's official website, www.weekofprayer2008.org, and lists the theme for each of the octave's 8 days, which are outlined just below.
A commentary on each day's theme has been jointly prepared by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity and the Commission on Faith and Order of the World Council of Churches:
Jan. 18 (Day 1) That We May Be One, and Never Lose Heart
Jan. 19 (Day 2) Pray Always, Trusting God Alone
Jan. 20 (Day 3) - Pray Without Ceasing for the Conversion of Hearts
Jan. 21 (Day 4) - Pray Always for Justice
Jan. 22 (Day 5) - Pray Constantly with a Patient Heart
Jan. 23 (Day 6) - Pray Always for Grace to Work with God
Jan. 24 (Day 7) - Pray For What We Need
Jan. 25 (Day 8) - Pray Always That They All May Be One
Rome' Zenit News agency issued these two articles, entitled Unity Week a 100-Year Success Story - Prayer Octave Began in New York in 1908, and Benedict XVI Invites Prayer for Christian Unity - which points to a Vatican page with resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
The Vatican Information Service (VIS) - via Eternal World Television Network (EWTN)'s website - also reports in a January 16 article entitled Ask God for Unity Among All Christ's Disciples. It reads, that, "at the end of today's general audience...the Holy Father recalled...the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity...This time the Week 'has special significance because a hundred years have passed since its inception...It is indeed necessary to pray without ceasing, insistently asking God for the great gift of unity among all the Lord's disciples. May the endless strength of the Holy Spirit move us to a sincere commitment to seek unity, so that all together we may profess that Jesus is the one Saviour of the world'."
Here also is a January 11 article by Michael Swan of Canada's weekly newspaper The Catholic Register, entitled 100 Years in Search of Christian Unity.
Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
This January 13 article from Catholic Culture's website, discusses Jesus' baptism - which is the First Luminous Mystery of the Holy Rosary. "Today the Church celebrates the Solemnity of the Baptism of Our Lord. This brings to an end the season of Christmas. The Church recalls Our Lord's second manifestation or epiphany which occurred on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan. Jesus descended into the River to sanctify its waters and to give them the power to beget sons of God. The event takes on the importance of a second creation in which the entire Trinity intervenes. In the Eastern Church this feast is called Theophany because at the baptism of Christ in the River Jordan God appeared in three persons...Many of the incidents which accompanied Christ's baptism are symbolical of what happened at our Baptism. At Christ's baptism the Holy Spirit descended upon Him; at our Baptism the Trinity took its abode in our soul. At His baptism Christ was proclaimed the "Beloved Son" of the Father; at our Baptism we become the adopted sons of God. At Christ's baptism the heavens were opened; at our Baptism heaven was opened to us. At His baptism Jesus prayed; after our Baptism we must pray to avoid actual sin."
Here are 2 related news articles, both from Rome's Zenit News Agency. The first, entitled On Christ's Baptism - 'Jesus Began Taking Upon Himself the Guilt of All Humanity'", provides "a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square". The second article, entitled Pontiff Links Christ's Baptism and the Cross - 'Says Immersion in Jordan Was Beginning of Taking on Humanity's Sin'", offers highlights of the Holy Father's address.
A Catholic News Service article, Pope Baptizes 13 Infants, Urges Parents to Guide Them Spiritually" reports that "Presiding over one of his favorite annual liturgies, Pope Benedict XVI baptized 13 infants and urged their parents to educate them in faith, hope and charity. 'The newly baptized need material care and attention, but above all they need spiritual guidance as they grow older', he said", adding "'Dear parents, be the first witnesses of an authentic faith in God'...The pope beamed as he poured water from a gilded shell onto the heads of each of the infants and said their names...As in other years, the Mass had a familial atmosphere. The brothers and sisters of the baptized carried the offertory gifts, and a chorus of crying babies competed with the Sistine Chapel Choir throughout the liturgy. In his homily, the pope said the baptized infants were receiving a 'new life, the life of grace, which enables them to enter into a personal relationship with the Creator'", adding that "'Although sin created an abyss between God and man, Christ's sacrifice bridged it'...Baptism reopens the way toward this 'fullness of life'."
Papal Address to Gift of Mary House - 'God Always Comes to Meet Our Needs'
A January 11 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency, giving "a translation of Benedict XVI's Jan. 4 address to the Gift of Mary House run by the Missionaries of Charity in the Vatican...When this house was founded, Blessed Mother Teresa desired to call it Gift of Mary, hoping as it were, that it might always be possible to experience in it the love of the Blessed Virgin...The presence of those who are ready to listen to people in difficulty and serve them with that very attitude which impelled Mary to go straightaway to St. Elizabeth is another gift of Mary..."
New Campaign Launched to Promote Family Rosary
A January 11 article from the Cathoic News Agency. "The recent controversy unleashed between pro-family organizations and government officials in Spain in the wake of the pro-family march on December 30 has inspired a new campaign to promote the family rosary in that country. Ignacio Mendez Sanz and his wife Maria Candelaria Perez, presidents of the Association of the Rosario of Santo Domingo el Real, said this week that the 'problems affecting Christian families in general and families in Spain in particular' are inspiring many to pray the rosary in family."
Cardinal Hummes: Priests Need Prayers - Prefect Explains Spiritual-Motherhood Initiative
In this January 8 article from Rome's Zenit News Agency, the prefect of the Congregation for Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Dulles comments on his dicastery's international initiative, launched just last month, "to promote perpetual Eucharistic adoration and spiritual motherhood to support priests". He explained "that priests have never been perfect 'because we are all sinners', but that...less than 1% of priests are unfaithful to their commmitment of celibacy. Still, he said, all priests need 'spiritual help in order to live their own vocation and mission in today's world'."
The cardinal explained why the Church has recommended that bishops around the world encourage continuous Eucharistic adoration by both religious and lay people within their dioceses. "The objective is that 'from every corner of the earth, prayer of adoration, thanksgiving, praise, petition and reparation will always be lifted to God - an incessant prayer in order to raise up a sufficient number of holy vocations to the priesthood, and together with this, to accompany them spiritually, with a type of spiritual motherhood'."
Spiritual Mothers for Priests
"Hummes stated that women...have a special role to play in aiding priests: 'Following the example of Mary, feminine...souls can spiritually adopt priests to help them with their surrender, prayer and penance'." He added that "the vocation to be a spiritual mother of priests is 'too little known, barely understood, and because of this, rarely lived, in spite of its fundamental and vital importance. Regardless of age and marital status, all women can become spiritual mothers for a...specific priest (thus accompanying him for life', usually anonymously...This, as history tells us, produces great spiritual fruits for priests'."
This refers back to our December 11 bloglet entitled New Vatican Prayer Campaign for Priestly Renewal.
Lourdes and Its Message of Hope
This January 3 article published by Canada's The Catholic Register weekly newspaper was writted by Fr. Thomas Rosica, CEO of Canada's Salt and Light Catholic Television Network. In it, he explains the meaning of the French Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes which, during this Jubilee year of 2008, celebrates the 150th anniversary of Mary's 18 apparitions, under her self-proclaimed title of "Immaculate Conception", to St. Bernadette Soubirous. Fr. Rosica offers reflections on the Lourdes phenomenon as well as on the Holy Virgin who, though incomparably full of God's grace, had to walk in faith during her difficult earthly pilgrimage. He reflects: "There are few pilgrimage places on Earth where one can experience the mystery of the cross and the meaning of redemptive suffering at the heart of the Christian life. Lourdes is one of those places...God's grace is greater than sin. It overpowers sin and death. When we honour the Mother of God under the title Immaculate Conception, we recognize in her a model of purity, innocence, trust, child-like curiosity, reverence and respect living peacefully alongside a mature awareness that life isn't simple. It's rare to find reverence and sophistication, idealism and realism, purity, innocence and passion combined without conflict inside the same person. That is what we find in Mary."