Thursday, April 28, 2005

Blogging break

I won't be able to blog until Monday due to other obligations these next few days.

More on Lexington

Lexington and Concord saw the opening shots of the American Revolution, the "shot heard 'round the world." The Minutemen fought for their independence and freedom.
In Lexington today the town will not allow a display of a Christmas creche or any other Christmas symbols on the town green. Even though private groups have offered to fund the lights, etc., the town has prohibited any religious displays.
Is this what the Minutemen fought for? A secular state that forbids public displays of religion because it might offend someone? Even though the majority of people still say they're Christian?
Now the town is indoctrinating kindergarteners with propaganda from the gay-rights movement in the name of tolerance (see post below).

Watching the culture wars

David Parker, a 42 year-old-father, was arrested in Lexington, Ma after refusing to leave his son's school. He had gone to the school as a concerned parent because his 6 year-old son in kindergarten was being forced to read in class a book promoting alternative families, including homosexual unions.

Waiting to see how this story develops...

I just caught the end of a radio interview with Mr. Parker in which he mentioned that the singing of Christmas carols was not allowed at this school. So let me try and understand: kindergarteners have to be indoctrinated that homosexual unions are the equivalent of marriage, because to do otherwise would promote intolerance and hatred. But singing Christmas carols is taboo because it would foster that awful intolerant Christian religion that has the audacity to teach that marriage is between a man and a woman. But the secular religion, which is just as much a set of beliefs and a worldview, is not just tolerated but actively promoted.
We don't have separation of church and state. The state has adopted the religion of secular humanism.

Alberione on Mary

Since May is coming up, I'd like to post some thoughts of Fr. Alberione on Mary. Here's one to start:

Christ is my life,
and the way to reach him
is Mary.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The name Benedict

At his first general audience, the Pope spoke about why he chose the name Benedict:

"The name Benedict evokes, moreover, the extraordinary figure of the great "patriarch of Western monasticism," St. Benedict of Nursia, co-patron of Europe together with Saints Cyril and Methodius. The gradual expansion of the Benedictine Order founded by him has had an enormous influence on the spread of Christianity on the whole Continent. Because of this, St. Benedict is much venerated in Germany and, in particular, in Bavaria, my native land. He constitutes a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the inalienable Christian roots of its culture and its civilization."

The Constitution proposed for the European Union deliberately omits mention of Christianity in Europe's development. Its framers evidently think that even to acknowledge the historical role of Christianity in Europe would violate the principle of secularism.
It looks like the Pope is concerned about re-evangelizing Europe.

Persecution of Christians in China

Torture and persecution is a reality there

Save Joan of Arcadia

Over at her blog, Karen Hall is asking readers to sign a petition to save Joan of Arcadia. It's in danger of being cancelled next season. I linked to it here too.

Of errands and evangelizing

This week I brought in one of the community's cars for an oil change. As I got out of the car, one of the mechanics said "We have a question for you!" I braced myself, not knowing what it would be. But he had his Bible and said, "I was just reading the Gospel. What does it mean when it says that blood and water came out from Jesus' side?" Two other guys were with him and one added, "Yeah, when they put in the stick!"
So I was able to talk to them a little about the significance of the blood and water in relation to Baptism and the Holy Eucharist. At first I had feared they were evangelicals just looking for an argument, but they weren't. They sincerely wanted to understand more of the deeper meaning of the Bible. I was very impressed with their sincerity and real faith. I left feeling very edified by them. So it helped me reflect on how in the Mystical Body we can all help each other. I've probably had more opportunities than these simple mechanics have had to study theology. But perhaps they have a deeper, more simple faith than I do--and I mean simplicity in the good sense, like St. Therese spoke of spiritual childhood.

Vatican video feed

In her blog, Amy Welborn mentioned this link to Reuters news service. If you scroll down you can find a direct feed from the Vatican. Right now they have the Pope's first general audience there, so you can watch it. First it shows him riding around in the Popemobile and then giving his general audience talk.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Blessed James Alberione

Thoughts from Blessed James Alberione

April 27 is the second anniversary of the beatification of Fr. James Alberione, founder of the Pauline Family. On that day, Pope John Paul said of him:

"In the heart of that chosen once again the heart of the Apostle Paul who, won over by Christ, sought to announce him as ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ Attentive to the signs of the times, Fr Alberione did not only open the modern "pulpits" of the media to evangelization, but conceived of his work as an organic action in the Church and at her service. This insight gave rise to ten institutes in all, which, in the same spirit, continue the work he began.”

From its humble origin in the poor city of Alba in Piedmont, Italy, the Pauline Family has spread throughout the world.

Our main website at has an extensive section on Alberione. Here are a couple of his thoughts:

The process of sanctification is a process of Christification: "until Christ be formed in you." Therefore, we will be saints in the measure in which we live the life of Jesus Christ—or better, in the measure in which Jesus Christ lives in us. "The Christian is another Christ." This is what St. Paul says of himself: "I live, but no longer I; it is Christ who lives in me."Christification comes about gradually until we reach "the full stature of Jesus Christ," just as a child gradually grows into an adult (CISP 11).

He who does things makes mistakes (sometimes). But he who does nothing lives a continuous mistake (FP 70).

The liturgy: changes in store with the new pope?

I've just started to read Feast of Faith, a collection of Cardinal Ratzinger's thoughts on the liturgy. It's quite interesting and makes me wonder what he might do in the area of liturgical reform. He makes the point that liturgies have developed in the Church through the centuries, as a result of an organic process of growth. One of his criticisms of the Missal that came out after Vatican II is that "with all its advantages, the new Missal was published as if it were a book put together by professors, not a phase in a continual growth process. Such a thing has never happened before. It is absolutely contrary to the laws of liturgical growth.... The Catholic liturgy was thus reduced to the level of a mere product of modern times. This loss of perspective is really disturbing." He continues by saying there is much that is good in the new Missal, and adds, "In my view, a new edition will need to make it quite clear that the so-called Missal of Paul VI is nothing other than a renewed form of the same Missal to which Pius X, Urban VIII, Pius V and their predeccessors have contributed, right from the Church's earliest history.... The fundamental issue is whether faith comes about through regulations and learned research or through the living history of a Church which retains her identity throughout the centuries." (pp. 86-87)

It sure sounds like Pope Benedict wants to do something to make some changes in the liturgy. A few years ago in a class I took, the priest who taught it--who was not a traditionalist by any means--said that something is lacking in the new liturgy and the Church needs to address that. He said that people have told him that they feel something is missing, something of the mystical element that used to be there which they are thirsting for. And most of the people in the class agreed. It made for quite an interesting discussion. What do you think?

From Pope Benedict's inaugural homily

There are so many great points in the Pope's inaugural homily! Here is one of the most outstanding:

"It is really so: the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him. The task of the shepherd, the task of the fisher of men, can often seem wearisome. But it is beautiful and wonderful, because it is truly a service to joy, to God's joy which longs to break into the world."

"Each of us is the result of a thought of God." I love that; it's just so great. It reminds me of something St. Thomas said, that God loves us into being. God doesn't love us because we're good, but we're good because God loves us. Before God loved us, we were nothing. We came into being only because God, in loving us, put goodness into us and created us.
It's a great thing to meditate on, that even sin can't make God stop loving us.

Monday, April 25, 2005

St. Paul today!

The Pope visited the basilica of St. Paul and said:

"I thank God because at the beginning of my ministry as Successor of Peter he grants me to pause in prayer before the sepulcher of the Apostle Paul. For me, this is a much longed for pilgrimage, a gesture of faith that I make in my name, but also in the name of the beloved Diocese of Rome, of which the Lord has constituted me Bishop and Pastor, and of the universal Church entrusted to my pastoral care. A pilgrimage so to speak to the roots of the mission, of that mission that the risen Christ entrusted to Peter, to the Apostles and, in particular also to Paul, leading him to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, until he reached this city where, after having preached the Kingdom of God for a long time (Acts 28:31), he rendered with blood the last testimony of his Lord, who had 'made him his own' (Philippians 3:12) and sent him."

As a Daughter of St. Paul, this statement fascinated me: a pilgrimage to St. Paul's tomb is a pilgrimage to the roots of the mission of the Church. At the beginning of his Petrine ministry, Benedict is also reaffirming the Pauline ministry.

Mother Paula, the sister who started our community here in the States, used to lament the fact that devotion to St. Paul was not terribly popular among Catholics. She could never get used to St. Jude being more popular than St. Paul. She had a real point. I'd be interested to hear about how you look at St. Paul. Is he a saint you can feel familiar with?

Modern day martyrs

Pope Benedict also said today:

"The 20th century was a time of martyrdom. Pope John Paul II highlighted it clearly, asking the Church to 'actualize the Martyrology' and canonized and beatified numerous martyrs of recent history. Therefore, the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, especially there where it has suffered most for the faith and the testimony of the Gospel. "

Right at the beginning of his papacy, Benedict is already talking about martyrdom. Considering all the martyrs of the past century gives good grounds for hoping that the new evangelization will bear much fruit.

Insight into Benedict

In his homily at the basilica of St. Paul, the Pope said:

"I like to recall the motto that St. Benedict proposed in his Rule, when exhorting his monks to 'prefer nothing to the love of Christ' (Chapter 4). "

It must be another reason he chose that name!

The Virgin Mary and Pope Benedict

Those who are hoping that the pope will proclaim a new dogma concerning Mary as co-redemptrix will likely not see it during Pope Benedict's pontificate.

Cardinal Ratzinger stated this about it in an interview published in God and the World (Ignatius Press):

“ I do not think there will be any compliance with this demand, which in the meantime is being supported by several million people, within the foreseeable future. The response of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is, broadly, that what is signified by this is already better expressed in other titles of Mary, while the formula 'Co-redemptrix' departs to too great an extent from the language of Scripture and of the Fathers and therefore gives rise to misunderstandings.
"What is true here? Well, it is true that Christ does not remain outside us or to one side of us, but builds a profound and new community with us. Everything that is his becomes ours, and everything that is ours he has taken upon himself, so that it becomes his: this great exchange is the actual content of redemption, the removal of limitations from our self and its extension into community with God. Because Mary is the prototype of the Church as such and is, so to say, the Church in person, this being 'with' is realized in her in exemplary fashion."

Pope pledges to listen to the Spirit

In his homily Sunday Pope Benedict said:

"At this moment there is no need for me to present a program of governance. I was able to give an indication of what I see as my task in my Message of Wednesday April 20, and there will be other opportunities to do so. My real program of governance is not to do my own will, not to pursue my own ideas, but to listen, together with the whole Church, to the word and the will of the Lord, to be guided by Him, so that He Himself will lead the Church at this hour of our history."

I felt very encouraged to hear the Pope speak in this way. To listen to the Lord in prayer is the path to holiness for us individually and as a Church.

What do you think the Spirit is saying to the Church right now?

Those Nigerian scam letters

Those spam letters from Nigeria now come in a religious variety. Today I got one from a "Deacon Clement Clement" who said:

"During a Prayer and fasting session in our church I asked God Almighty to direct me to an honest person that will Use this Fund righteously to reach the needy, the less Privilege and lost souls. For the word of God says,"What shall it profit a man if he gains the whole?World, and loss his soul". The bible also says, "The Blessing of God comes supernaturally and it is throughDivine favor". The amount involved, is $6.5m US dollar (SIXMillion, five hundred US dollars) was acquired when Iwas in the world. "

Thank you for the prayers

Thank you for all who said they would pray for my mother. She is declining now and I'm not sure how much longer she has. She is a wondefuly devout woman who went to daily Mass as long as she was able to.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Blogging break

I am going to be away a couple days to see my elderly mother, who is not in good health. A prayer for her would be appreciated! Thanks!

Pope Benedict and ecumenism

In his talk to the cardinals the pope said this:
"Thus, in full awareness and at the beginning of his ministry in the Church of Rome that Peter bathed with his blood, the current Successor assumes as his primary commitment that of working tirelessly towards the reconstitution of the full and visible unity of all Christ's followers. This is his ambition, this is his compelling duty. He is aware that to do so, expressions of good feelings are not enough. Concrete gestures are required to penetrate souls and move consciences, encouraging everyone to that interior conversion which is the basis for all progress on the road of ecumenism. "

What do you think he means by "concrete gestures?"

The Pope's emails

Zenit noted the following:
Of the 60,000 messages that Benedict XVI has received in less than 48 hours, more than half -- 31,000 -- were written in English. The next biggest language group were in Italian (13,000) and Spanish (6,000). The messages, sent to and other similar addresses, were also written in German, Portuguese and French.

The Pope and email

On another blog someone posted a funny spam letter the pope might get, based on those scam letters from Nigeria that are so common. The Curt Jester has a link to it (see my sidebar to get to that blog.)
Imagine how much email the pope will be getting now. I'm sure he has secretaries to wade through it all, but now that his email is out in public, just think of all the spam! Despite that, I think that his willingness to be so open says a lot about him.

Pope Benedict and St. Augustine

Also in the Wall Street Journal today, Daniel Henninger writes about Pope Benedict and his love for St. Augustine, whose theology the pope studied in his doctoral dissertation. In the book "Milestones," then Cardinal Ratzinger said he prefers Augustine to St. Thomas Aquinas, "whose crystal-clear logic seemed to me to be too closed in on itself, too impersonal and ready-made."

As someone who loves St. Thomas, I winced a little to read that! I love Thomas' crystal clear logic. But that's why the Church has a rich variety of theological traditions. Pope John Paul's thought was well-rooted in Thomism, as well as the philosophical school of phenomenology. So I suppose after 26 years of a Thomist Pope, it's time for an Augustinian Pope.

Which one do you prefer and why?

Vocations in Casoni, Italy

Today's Wall St. Journal had an article about the town of Casoni, Italy, which through the years has given the Church more than its share of priests and nuns. Even today, while the numbers aren't like those in the past, the town produces vocations.
Why? In the past, part of the reason may have been that the priesthood offered a means of education and a way of life different from the farm. But beyond that, the town takes pride in its vocations. Families feel honored when one of their children goes into the priesthood or religious life. Parents support their children's religious vocations. As one woman, Paola Dalle, says, "It was a gift from God to have a child who became a priest or nun."

As we know from our own vocational work with young women, many parents in the US are dismayed at the prospect of a daughter entering the convent.

How do you think such attitudes can be overcome? What can we do to encourage vocations more?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Kathleen, RIP

This morning I was very surprised to receive an email from a gentleman I haven't seen in over 28 years. He came across my blog. Marty was head of the Catholic Evidence Guild in NY City, which I belonged to for a while before I entered the convent. He's still busy evangelizing but now he does it on the Internet and has brought several people into the Church.
But he mentioned that another member named Kathleen died around the late 80's. I had lost contact with her and feel bad that I didn't know it before now. She couldn't have been more than 50 when she died, but she had diabetes and it took its toll.
Kathleen had married a fine man, Ray, and had a difficult pregnancy while expecting their first child. Due to her health complications, her little boy Augustine died a few days after birth. Of course they had had him baptized right away. I remember Kathleen telling us about it at a meeting where we were discussing heaven. Through her tears she said that while we were talking about the beatific vision, this little baby who lived such a short life was already enjoying it. Now I'm sure that Kathleen is right up there with Augustine enjoying it too. I hope she's praying for me and all of us who are still pilgrims along the way.
Thank you, Kathleen, for being one of the gifts in my life.

A smaller flock?

Christine posted a comment with this quotation from then Cardinal Ratzinger:

He said that the Church will "become small, and will to a great extent have to start over again. But after a time of testing, an internalized and simplified Church will radiate great power and influence; for the population of an entirely planned and controlled world are going to be inexpressibly lonely…and they will then discover the little community of believers as something quite new. As a hope that is there for them, as they answer they have secretly always been asking for."

What strikes me here is how he connects loneliness with the need for evangelization. Christian joy is a great attraction to the faith.

What do you think about the possibility of a smaller flock?

Email the Pope!

The Vatican just announced Pope Benedict's email address:

You can also find it on the Vatican website.
Be among the first to email your greetings!

How to get direct Vatican news

If you would like to get direct news bulletins from the Vatican, you can sign up for their email news serivce. Clicking on the above link should take you directly there. Or go to the Vatican website ( then click on News Services, then on VIS (For Vatican Information Service). They send out a daily email.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The Church and drama

Yesterday waiting for the new pope to come out, I was struck by how dramatic the whole scene was: the white smoke, the bells tolling, the crowds pouring into St. Peter's, the great, suspenseful buildup. Everyone was focused on the window just waiting to see who would walk out. It was all so dramatic. Because the Catholic Church is a sacramental church, it's a dramatic church, and a liturgical church. I hope that those who are more familiar than I am with media and drama would comment on that.

Media coverage

How did you find the media coverage of the pope's election? What do you think are the best news sources?

What do you expect from the new Pope?

Please leave your thoughts about the new Pope Benedict and what direction you think his papacy should take.

Pope Benedict's first homily

Here is part of it:

Dear Ones, this intimate recognition for a gift of divine mercy prevails in my heart in spite of everything. I consider this a grace obtained for me by my venerated predecessor, John Paul II. It seems I can feel his strong hand squeezing mine; I seem to see his smiling eyes and listen to his words, addressed to me especially at this moment: 'Do not be afraid!'

Why did the cardinals choose Ratzinger?

Commentators are spilling a lot of ink about this question, and certainly a lot can be said. Here are a few thoughts that come to my mind; please add what you think about it.

Up to now we've only known Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF. In that capacity, he had a job to do and he did it. He himself would have preferred to be free to work on developing his own theological writings. Instead he had to be concerned with ensuring doctrinal integrity. What we don't know is Ratzinger as pastor and bishop. He might very well surprise people by his pastoral sense. He's not John Paul and we can't expect him to be. But the reports are that on a personal level he is very gracious and warm.

This might sound like a crude political analogy, so please excuse that, but it's a comparison that may shed some light on his election. Bush won the election last year because he followed Karl Rove's advice to energize his base. He didn't spend time trying to attract voters who would not like him anyway. Perhaps the cardinals are signaling that the time has come for the Church also, in a similar way, to energize its base. The Pope needs to make it clear to committed Catholics that he supports them in their efforts to live faithful lives of discipleship. I don't mean to imply that John Paul didn't. Pope Benedict made it clear in his first homily that he wants to continue ecumenical dialogue, etc. But he's not going to change Church teaching on controversial matters in order to try and attract people who would not accept those teachings anyway. That might mean having a smaller flock, but one that is more committed. No one wants to see people go away and leave the Church. It breaks my heart to see that. But it must have broken Jesus' heart to see many of his disciples leave him after he gave the discourse on the bread of life (John ch. 6). But he let them go. He didn't call them back and say, "I didn't really mean what I said." It was a hard saying, and people left because of it. That's free will. God respects the freedom we all have to accept or reject the message. But he's not going to change the message.

Significance of the name Benedict

I saw one news report quoting a cardinal on the reasons the new pope gave for the name Benedict. One is that the previous Benedict, the 15th, was a pope who sought peace during the onslaught of World War I. That war brought terrible devastation to Europe at the beginning of the bloody 20th century. Hopefully the new Pope Benedict's efforts for peace won't be disregarded.

The other reason has to do with St. Benedict being a co-patron of Europe. The Pope is evidently concerned about the loss of faith and the rise of secularism in Europe.

Some media reaction to Pope Benedict

This is from Maureen Dowd at the NY Times:

"The white smoke yesterday signaled that the Vatican thinks what it needs to bring it into modernity is the oldest pope since the 18th century: Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth. For American Catholics - especially women and Democratic pro-choice Catholic pols - the cafeteria is officially closed."

Yes, Maureen the cafeteria is closed. But we have something better awaiting us: the banquet of the Lamb.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

A personal side of Cardinal Ratzinger

One of the sisters in my community who spent some time in Rome told me this. For many years Sr. Gesualda, a Daughter of St. Paul in Rome, served as a secretary in Cardinal Ratzinger's office at the CDF. He knew that this sister had a great devotion to the Blessed Mother. So he would often put on her desk any pictures of Mary that he had. I think this story shows an interesting personal side of the cardinal, now pope, Joseph Ratzinger.

Pope Benedict XVI

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger c. 1977

The young Joseph Ratzinger

The theology of Joseph Ratzinger

Aidan Nichols, OP, wrote a book with this title. I started to read it now. One thing I learned today is that Augustine was very influential on Ratzinger's theological thought. He wrote in 1969: "Augustine has kept me company for more than 20 years. I have developed my theology in a dialogue with Augustine, though naturally I have tried to conduct this dialogue as a man of today."

Ratzinger documents available from Pauline Books

Some of the documents issued by Cardinal Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are available from Pauline Books & Media:

Dominus Iesus
Letter on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church
Instruction on Prayers for Healing
Instruction on Certain Aspects of the Theology of Liberation
Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation
On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons
Some Aspects of Christian Meditation
Donum Vitae

Either click on the above link or call 1-800-876-4463

Pope Benedict XVI

Although Ratzinger's name was mentioned a lot before and during the conclave, I really wasn't expecting him to be elected. So I was surprised, but very happy. I think he's the Pope God wants us to have right now. He's been smeared a lot by people who label him as "ultra-conservative," but as head of the CDF he was only doing his job.
He's a very fine theologian in his own right. I'll be looking forward to reading his first encyclical. In the meantime I'll go and read some of his books.

Ratzinger and the Nazis

In case you hear charges that Ratzinger belonged to the Hitler Youth, this article gives the facts.

Habemus Papam! Ratzinger!

This quote is from Cardinal Ratzinger's thoughts on his job as head of the CDF. It wasn't really what he would have preferred to do:

For me [becoming Perfect of the Congregation for the Faith] the cost was that I couldn’t do full time what I had envisaged for myself, namely really contributing my thinking and speaking to the great intellectual conversation of our time, by developing an opus of my own. I had to descend to the little and various things pertaining to factual conflicts and events. I had to leave aside a great part of what would interest me and simply serve and to accept that as my task.

Interesting article about Ratzinger

This is from Fr. Greeley on the plus side of a Ratzinger papacy.

Coverage from MSNBC

They have a live web cam where you can see the smoke, and other interesting articles.

John Allen's latest commentary

John Allen is a long-time reporter in Rome who is following the conclave.

Up to the minute news

Check out the Pope Blog (link above) for up to the minute news on the conclave.

Monday, April 18, 2005

"Rome Reports" website

This website has some interesting news from Rome and documentary on John Paul II.

Conclave schedule

Tuesday, April 19
_ 7:30 a.m. (1:30 a.m. EDT): Cardinals celebrate Mass in the hotel chapel.
_ 9 a.m. (3 a.m. EDT): Cardinals gather in Sistine Chapel for two rounds of balloting if new pope not elected Monday.
_ Noon (6 a.m. EDT): Approximate time of first smoke signal from Sistine Chapel. It will indicate whether a new pope has been chosen (white smoke) or no decision has been made (black smoke) in the morning session of balloting. The smoke is from the burning of the secret ballots after the two rounds of voting held mornings and afternoons.
_ 4 p.m. (10 a.m. EDT): Cardinals return to the Sistine Chapel for two rounds of afternoon balloting.
_ 7 p.m. (1 p.m. EDT): Approximate time of smoke signal after second round of voting.
(from yahoo's website)

Black smoke

The first ballot of the conclave resulted in black smoke, as was expected.
The above link will bring you to a live feed from the Vatican showing the chimney on the Sistine Chapel.
This is the first conclave with Internet access for many people. You can work on your computer with the little window open and know immediately when a pope is elected. It's interesting to see the blend of the old and the new. Even though we're getting it on the Internet, it's still the same method of sending up smoke to let the world know about the papal election.

True story about Arinze

One of the sisters in my community told me this story. Her mother took a trip to a shrine in Mexico with a group from her parish, and Cardinal Arinze was on the plane. They were interested to see this African cardinal, and one of the ladies said to him, "We're all praying that you'll be the next Pope!" To which he replied, "Pray for something else!"

Homily at Mass before conclave

Among other things, Cardinal Ratzinger said:
How many winds of doctrine have we known over the last few decades! How many ideological currents! How many schools of thought! The little ship bearing the thoughts of many Christians has frequently been shaken by these waves, thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertarianism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so on. Every day new sects arise, and St. Paul's words concerning the deception of men and the cunning that leads into error come true. Having a clear faith, according to the Creed of the Church, is often labeled as fundamentalism. While relativism, in other words allowing oneself to be 'tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine,' appears as the only attitude appropriate to modern times, a dictatorship of relativism is being formed, one that recognizes nothing as definitive and that has as its measure only the self and its desires.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

John Paul II and Evangelicals

Article by George Weigel

Keep your eye on this

Wow! New technology is allowing scholars to read ancient texts that were previously illegible. The documents discovered include some ancient Gospel texts. It might prove to be quite a find, like the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A lot of good links

Catholic World News has many good informative stories about the conclave on their website.

Pre-conclave buzz

From a recent news story on the conclave:

"Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles dismissed the possibility of a pope from such countries as France or Germany, where "practically nobody goes to church."
'What we are looking for is how to have the future pope be somebody who represents a dynamic part of the world,' Mahony said. "

I don't see a real connection. Lustiger, who comes from a part of the world "where practically nobody goes to church" (France) has managed to revitalize his diocese and reach out to the secularized Catholics.
Besides, the Church can't just write off Europe, which historically has been the "heartland" of the Church. No matter where the new Pope will come from, he has to pay attention to the loss of faith in Europe and do something to reverse that trend.

On looking at Jupiter

Last evening a nearby school had an astronomy day. So a few of us went over to look through the telescopes they had set up. The school also has a giant telescope, one of the ten best on the east coast. Looking through it we saw Saturn, with its rings. We also saw Jupiter and it was so beautiful. I saw four of its moons around it, and even some of its bands. It was such a thrill to be able to get such a good view of it with my own eye, not just through a picture.
So this morning I started to think: imagine what it will be like to see God in heaven! If it's so thrilling just to see part of creation, how much more it will be to see God himself, the Creator. Our minds can't even begin to comprehend God, but in heaven we will "see him as he is." Someting to look forward to!

Photo copyright NASA

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Sign ebay petition

Click on the above link to sign a petition asking Ebay to never sell a consecrated host again.
Thank you. (If you didn't hear the story, a few days ago a non-Catholic man offered a host for sale on ebay. It had been consecrated by Pope John Paul and this man who was at the papal Mass took the host home as a "souvenir.")

Update on consecrated host at ebay

The above link has the happy conclusion, that the sale of the consecrated host on ebay did not go through, and the local diocese was able to take possession of it and dispose of it properly.

More news

If you click on the above link, scroll down the page to see some good interactive items on how the conclave works.

Another site for info on cardinals

This site is interesting in that it not only has biographical details, but articles about what the various cardinals believe on current issues.

Good link to pre-conclave buzz

"Inside the Vatican" has some interesting news flashes and commentary on the cardinals.

Friday, April 15, 2005

How to elect a pope

The Teaching Company is offering two free online lectures on how papal elections work. Just click on the above link.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Peggy Noonan on the conclave

A good read!

The latest buzz from Rome

Interesting article on the latest scoop about the papal election from Rome.

News from Rome

This links to a report by Fr. Neuhaus from Rome on what's happening before the conclave

The conclave preachers

A good summary of what the preachers said to the cardinals (by John Allen)

On the conclave

This article is a good summary of prospects going into the conclave (by John Allen)

A papabile blog

If you are interested in following the news about possible candidates for the papacy, check out the papabile blog (link above).

What should the next pope do?

News stories about the papal election often bring up the topics of what Catholics are hoping for from the next pope. What direction should he take the Church in? What should he change?
Sometimes, though, people seem to think that the Pope can just decide to change essential Catholic teachings on controversial issues, especially moral issues like abortion and sexual morality.
But those teachings ultimately come from God, and the Pope has the task of being a prophetic voice to proclaim those teachings to the Church and the world. The Pope can't change basic moral principles. As new questions come up, such as in bioethics, the Pope can give guidance on how some procedures may or may not be compatible with basic moral principles. But he can't change those principles themselves.
The Pope gets his authority from Christ, who is the supreme Priest, Prophet and King. Like any prophet, though, he has to proclaim the truth even when there's opposition to it. In other words, the Pope can't take his direction from the latest polls. He has to look to Christ and the Gospel.

Great article on John Paul

This link is to a great article on the impact John Paul has had on the Church.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

John Paul and St. Patrick

In 1979, John Paul said this to a group of seminarians in Ireland:
"I wish to recall to you one simple but important lesson taken from the life of St. Patrick, and it is this: in the history of evangelization, the destiny of an entire people--your people--was radically affected for time and eternity because of the fidelity with which St. Patrick embraced and proclaimed the Word of God, and by reason of the fidelity with which St. Patrick pursued his call to the end.
"...God counts on you: he makes his plans, in a way, depend on your free collaboration.
"The Catholic faith of Ireland today was linked, in God's plan, to the fidelity of St. Patrick. And tomorrow, yes, tomorrow some part of God's plan will be linked to your fidelity--to the fervor with which you say yes to God's Word in your lives.... Remember St. Patrick. Remember what the fidelity of just one man has meant for Ireland and the world."

I remember reading those words at the time and they made a deep impression on me. I had made my first profession of vows about 3 months before, and they inspired me to want to live out better the vocation God had called me to, despite all my failings.

But reading them now, after all these years, in light of what this Pope's pontificate has meant for the Church and the world, makes me so grateful that the pope lived out his vocation so faithfully. We can say, "Remember John Paul. Remember what the fidelity of just one man has meant for the Church and the whole world!"

Europe and the Christian faith

This links to an insightful article by George Weigel about Europe's loss of the Christian faith, and its future prospects.

John Paul's legacy

With all the talk about John Paul's legacy, I've noticed an interesting contradiction. Some commentators say that John Paul neglected the inner workings of the Church and allowed dissent and disobedience to Church teaching to flourish. They blame him for not being strong enough in bringing the Church back to order. Others say, instead, that he tried to micromanage the Church, overly centralize his authority and control everything. Some even claim that he tried to undo the reforms of Vatican II and go back to an 0ld-style church.
The proponents of each of these views are coming out of very different perspectives. Where do you think the truth lies?

Sunday, April 10, 2005

The People's Choice

This website, run by a canon lawyer, gives you a chance to vote for who you think should be the next pope!

Saturday, April 09, 2005

List of cardinals

Click the above link for a list of the cardinals who will be voting in the conclave.

Information about the pope's burial

Check out for information about documents relating to the Pope's burial.
They have posted a copy of the "rogito" or official testament relating the works accomplished by Pope John Paul II during his pontificate. (See the April 8 issue of the daily dispatch, which also has a translation of Cardinal Ratzinger's homily.)

Friday, April 08, 2005

New title from Pauline Books & Media

The Marian Thought of Pope John Paul II

This new release covers the Marian teaching of Pope John Paul. Arranged by topics, the volume contains thoughts of the Pope that give the key concepts he developed about Mary in a remarkable and original way. Throughout the volume, beautiful four-color pictures make this an attractive keepsake to remember the pope by.

Bless us, John Paul, from heaven

From Cardinal Ratzinger's homily at the Pope's funeral:

"None of us can ever forget how in that last Easter Sunday of his life, the Holy Father, marked by suffering, came once more to the window of the Apostolic Palace and one last time gave his blessing 'urbi et orbi.' We can be sure that our beloved Pope is standing today at the window of the Father's house, that he sees us and blesses us. Yes, bless us, Holy Father. We entrust your dear soul to the Mother of God, your Mother, who guided you each day and who will guide you now to the eternal glory of her Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Leave your thoughts about the Pope

Please leave your own personal thoughts about Pope John Paul and his legacy.

Here comes everybody!

Someone who posted a comment reminded me about the famous line from James Joyce, "Here comes everybody!" A wonderful older priest who used to celebrate Mass at our convent would often quote that line in relation to the Church. Seeing the pictures from Rome, with millions of people from all over the world crowding in to see the Pope's body, is a vivid reminder of how catholic--universal--the Church really is. Everybody is welcome in the Church, sinners and saints alike. Pope John Paul lived that message through the kindness he showed to each and every person, because he saw in all of them the image of God and of Christ.
Here comes the Church--here comes everybody!

The College of Cardinals

The above link is to information about the cardinals from the Vatican Press Office.

The Pope on St. Thomas

Sr. Helena sent me these thoughts from John Paul on his philosophy and how it relates to St. Thomas:

"My personal philosophical outlook moves, so to speak, between two poles: Aristotelian Thomism and phenomenology. ...
"So there were two stages in my intellectual journey: In the first I moved from literature to metaphysics, while the second led me from metaphysics to phenomenology.

"When Schema 13 was being studied--later to become the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World--and I spoke on personalism, Father de Lubac came to me and said, encouragingly: 'Yes, yes, yes, that's the way forward,' and this meant a great deal to me, as I was relatively still young."

--Rise, Let Us Be On Our Way

"If we wish to speak rationally about good and evil, we have to return to St. Thomas Aquinas, that is, to the philosophy of being. With the phenomenological method, for example, we can study experiences of morality, religion, or simply what it is to be human, and draw from them a significant enrichment of our knowledge. Yet we must not forget that all these analyses implicitly presuppose the reality of the Absolute Being and also the reality of being human, that is, being a creature. If we do not set out from such 'realist' presuppositions, we end up in a vacuum."

--Memory and Identity

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Pope and communism

Here's an interesting tribute to the Pope in relation to his fight against communism.

A Protestant perspective on the papacy

The above link is to an interesting article about why Protestants have an interest in the papal election.

John Paul the Great

In the article linked to above, Fr. Richard Neuhaus makes a case for calling John Paul "the Great." What is your opinion on this?

Cardinals "in pectore"

Someone asked about the cardinals named "in pectore." (which means "in the heart"). These are bishops who were named as cardinals by the Pope, but only secretly because for some reason the Pope felt it best to not make it known. The names of the cardinals whom Pope John Paul II named secretly have not been revealed, but may be if the Pope names them in his will.

Albacete on the legacy of John Paul

This links to a good article by Lorenzo Albacete on John Paul's legacy. Albacete was a founding professor of the John Paul II Institute in Washington, DC

Monday, April 04, 2005

A reflection on Pope John Paul

This was sent in by Heidi:

It was just today, on the eve of Mercy Sunday, that he breathed his last and found himself at the Gates of Heaven. No doubt Saint Faustina herself was there to welcome him, along with his other good friend, Blessed Mother Teresa. His father and mother, brother and sister... All were present to greet their Karol as he broke the bonds of earth, having accomplished everything his Master had asked him to do.
"Holy Father." Never has the appellation been quite so apt. One glance into those startling blue eyes, and you could see heaven itself. He spoke eight languages, penned fourteen encyclicals and countless letters, and visited almost 130 countries over the course of his twenty-six year pontificate. And yet he always had time to hug a child, write a letter, or extend a dinner invitation. When my husband and I honeymooned in Rome, we were first in line to be presented to Pope John Paul II and receive his apostolic blessing on our marriage. There were eleven other couples behind us, and yet he fixed his full attention on us, his hand extended not in cold ritual, but in fatherly welcome.
He was a man of great passion and intelligence. No other pope was so prolific, or so generous in extending himself for the good of his children. He canonized and beatified more saints than all his predecessors put together, and was a tireless proponent for human dignity. This is evident even in the way the Holy Father defined the mission of the Church, in which every person - without respect to age, gender, vocation, or nationality - was invited to share in the great work of the New Evangelization.
Without compromising Truth, he extended himself in love to bridge the chasm between Catholics and the rest of the world - Muslim, Jew, Buddhist, and especially other Christians. Time and again, they reciprocated that love and respect. As a convert to the Catholic faith, I am particularly indebted to Papa John for leading the Church in renewal, so that when I finally got close enough to look inside, I found a faith so vital and relevant, I knew I could never be happy anywhere else. Like the Prodigal Son, I was welcomed with open arms; unlike him, it was not until I finally wandered home that I realized just how lost I had been.
Time and again, reporters spoke of the "legacy" of Pope John Paul II, asking one person after the other to articulate the Holy Father's greatest contribution to the Church over the course of his pontificate. In reality, I think this is not the correct question to ask. A shepherd's work is not about personal ambition. It is about keeping the sheep safe. Through his writings, his appearances, and especially by his own example, Papa John led the sheep entrusted to him around the pits and brambles of the world in which we live. Though his intellectual capacity and diplomatic prowess were beyond reproach, his true greatness was in his capacity to love.

And so, dear Papa John, we now entrust you to the angels
with all the rest, like you, poured out in living sacrifice.
May Our Lady take you by the hand, and lead you to our Brother,
And may the Son rejoice to hear her speak your name.
May you adore, in beloved company long anticipated,
and receive your just reward, and dance in jubilation
with the host from every nation, at the love-fest of the Lamb.
Holy Father, our Papa John, please pray for us
Copyright 2005 by Heidi Hess Saxton,

Why does the Pope have three coffins?

I looked this up since someone asked. The Pope's body is placed in three coffins: cypress, lead and elm. The simple wooden coffin made of cypress signifies he is an ordinary human being like everyone else. The lead coffin is more durable and the Pope's name and the years of his pontificate are engraved on it. Important documents he issued are also placed in this coffin. (They'll need a lot of space in this one for all the writings of John Paul!) This custom, which goes back many years, has been a means of conserving important Church documents. Finally, the elm coffin is meant to indicate the Pope's dignity, since elm is a rare and precious wood in the area of Italy around Rome.

Great website

For more information on the papacy in general, John Paul II in particular, and on a papal election, check out the Daughters of St. Paul website:

Papal vocabulary

The events around the Pope's death have brought up some Catholic terms that are not usually heard. Here's a few:

Camerlengo: or chamberlain is the Cardinal who administers the Vatican's property and finances until the election of a new pope. He is a Spanish cardinal, Eduardo Martinez Somalo. The camerlengo officially calls the Pope's name to ascertain he has died, and takes care of ceremonial details like smashing the Pope's ring.

Conclave: The meeting of the cardinals to elect the new pope. Literally this means "with key," and refers to the fact that the cardinals are locked away from the world while they meet to elect the new pope. This practice seems to have started in the 13th century, when a Pope hadn't been elected for over 3 years. The people of Rome ran out of patience and locked in the cardinals without food until they elected a new pope (which then happened in about a day.)

Casa Santa Marta: The residence where the cardinals will stay during the election. All communication with the outside world is cut off. Any cardinal who violates the secrecy required by the conclave could be excommunicated.

Interregnum: the time period starting from when the Pope dies until a new Pope is elected.

Papabile: A term referring to a cardinal who has some prospect of being elected Pope. (This Italian word literally means "pope-able."

Universi Dominici Gregis: A document of Pope John Paul II, issued in 1996, specifying some new rules and procedures concerning the election of a Pope. The major changes are that the Pope specified that only a scrutiny (secret ballot) is used in a papal election. He eliminated two other methods that were technically allowed previously but not generally used: acclamation--in which the cardinals would spontaneously "acclaim" someone Pope by unanimous agreement, and delegation, in which the cardinals would select a small group (not over nine cardinals) to reach the decision. Also, if an election goes on for 12 days or 30 ballots, a simple majority is sufficient to elect. Ordinarily a two-thirds majority is required.

The Pope's final words to us

Here is the Pope's final words to his flock (translation courtesy of the Pope Blog):

After the solemn Eucaristic Celebration in suffering of His Holiness John Paul II, presided by the Cardinal Angel Sodano, the former Secretary of State, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, before he recites of Queen Caeli, gives reading of a text that the Holy Father had previously prepared in occasion of the solemnity of the Divine Mercy that celebrates the second Sunday of Easter.

Dearest Brothers and Sisters! 1. Resonate also today the joyful Alleluia of Easter. Today's reading from the Gospel of John emphasizes that the Resurrected one, the evening of this day, appeared to the Apostles and "showed them his hands and side" (Jn 20,20), that is the signs of the painful passion impressed in permanent way on his body even after the resurrection. Those glorious wounds, which eight days later made to touch to the doubting Thomas, reveal the mercy of God, that "he so loved the world that he gave his only Son" (Jn 3,16).This mystery of love is at the center of today's liturgy of Sunday in Albis, dedicated to the belief of the Divine Mercy.

2. To all humanity, which at times seems so lost and dominated by the power of evil, selfishness and fear, our resurrected Lord offers in gift his love that pardons, reconciles and reopens the soul to hope. The love that converts the hearts and bestows the peace. How much need the world has to understand and to receive the Divine Mercy!Lord, whose death and resurrection reveals the love of the Father, we believe in You and with confidence we say again to you this today: Jesus, trust in You, have mercy on us and the entire world.

3. The liturgical feast of the Annunciation, that we will celebrate tomorrow, pushes us to contemplate with the eyes of Mary the immense mystery to us of this merciful love that gushes from the Heart of Christ. She helps us so that we can comprehend the true sense of the paschal joy, which I found myself on this certainty: He whom the Virgin has carried in her womb, that has suffered and died for us, is truly risen. Alleluia!

Pray for the Church in China

In the midst of the news about the Pope, the Vatican announced some troubling news about events in China. Here is the press release:

The following statement was released by Joaquin Navarro-Valls, Holy See Press Office Director, on the arrest and detention of Catholic clergy in China:

"News is arriving that on Wednesday March 30, 2005, Fr. Thomas Zhao Kexiun of the diocese of Xuanhua in the province of Hebei, China, was detained by the police as he returned from a funeral. His whereabouts are not known, nor is the reason for his detention.

"The bishop of the same diocese, the 85-year-old Philip Peter Zhao Zhendong was arrested on January 3, 2005, and is being held in the city of Jiangjiakou.

"On Palm Sunday March 20, 2005, the national security forces took the 86-year-old Bishop Giacomo Lin Xili of Wenzhou in the province of Zhejiang. The reason for his arrest is unknown.

"Also in the diocese of Wenzhou, two days later, Mr. Gao Xinyou, a collaborator in the pastoral care of the laity in the area of Longgang, was arrested."

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Novemdiales: day one

The nine days following the death of a Pope are called the novemdiales.
This starts today, Sunday, for Pope John Paul II. Masses, prayers and rites of remembrance for the Pope are held in Rome and all over the world.

Live video coverage of Rome

Click on the above link for a connection to a live video coverage of Rome

Overview of entire papacy

Don't miss this! The Vatican website has an interactive website with a year by year summary of Pope John Paul II's pontificate. The picture shows each year going up a hill like Calvary. Click on the title of this post for the link.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Pope's legacy

At the final Mass for World Youth Day in Toronto 2002, the Pope said something that sums up his legacy:

You are young, and the Pope is old, 82 or 83 years of life is not the same as 22 or 23. But the Pope still fully identifies with your hopes and aspirations. Although I have lived through much darkness, under harsh totalitarian regimes, I have seen enough evidence to be unshakably convinced that no difficulty, no fear is so great that it can completely suffocate the hope that springs eternal in the hearts of the young. You are our hope, the young are our hope.

The Pope's Death

Please leave your own thoughts about Pope John Paul--remembrances, legacy, how he affected your life.

The Pope
"In the midst of all their quarrels, God will strike a giant bell for a Slavonic Pope."
Julius Slowacki, 1848

Pope John Paul II
From St. Faustina's Diary:
"I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming. " (Diary, 1732)

The Pope at World Youth Day

Pope John Paul, Rest in Peace

With the passing of Pope John Paul, we are living through a historic moment, the end of an era. He led the Church into the new millennium and now he passes the torch on to us. As he always said, "Be not afraid!"

The pope

The Pope died on Saturday evening, the first Saturday of the month, which is dedicated to the Blesed Mother. Liturgically it was already the beginning of the feast of the Divine Mercy, which is so appropriate because he was instrumental in establishing this feast. Also, Monday is the feast of the Annunciation, which was moved this year because March 25 was Good Friday. The Pope wrote that the Annunciation to Mary was the beginning of the New Covenant. He'll celebrate it in heaven!

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Stations of Light - Via Lucis

In Europe the Salesians have been promoting a new devotion for the Easter season called the Stations of Light (Via Lucis). Similar in form to the stations of the cross, it offers meditations on the meaning of the resurrection. The link in the title of this post is to a page that has short meditations and prayers on these stations.

Stories about the pope

A woman named Joanne left a beautiful account of how the pope affected her life as a comment on one of the posts. I'm posting it here so that it will stand out more. If anyone else has any personal stories or remembrances about the pope they would like posted, just leave them as a comment and I'll transfer it to a post (or email me at:

From Joanne: He is the Pope who prayed me back into full practice of my faith. After my connection became tenuous in my twenties, I saw him on TV, praying in a Marian chapel in Sacred Heart Cathedral in Newark, my home diocese. I saw the joy in the people around him, and in my heart I heard a call to come home come home to the joy that was my birthright. And I started going to Mass again. Then I made the brave move and walked through the velvet curtain into a confessional (after more than a decade away) and looked myself in the face again. I feel deeply indebted to him in a personal way.He is a little older than my dad. I think that I am beginning to feel the burden of that great generation's imminent passing. He makes me proud to be Catholic. I can't bear the thought of losing him, but it is so painful to see how he suffers. What it cost him in the last few public appearances just to raise his hand to bless us.

Keeping vigil for the Pope

After keeping vigil for Terri this week, now we're keeping vigil for the pope. Even to the end he's teaching us and giving an example of how to die, just as he gave an example of how to live.
Listening to the radio news and people calling in to speak about the pope, I am impressed by how much respect he has even from people of other faiths and those who may disagree with his teachings. One man said that we have to acknowledge that Pope John Paul is certainly one of the towering spiritual figures of the twentieth century, and this man was speaking as a non-practicing Catholic.

Bishop to reopen two churches

Archbishop O'Malley will reopen two churches where parishioners have held round-the-clock vigils for 7 months. This whole situation has provoked a lot of controversy. I think the bishop was in a difficult position because of the precarious financial situation and the lack of priests. So I can understand the need to close parishes. But something went wrong in the whole process because it's turned so confrontational. I'm not sure if people will see this more as the bishop caving in to pressure, or as an example of what the laity can do when they organize.

Stem cell research moves ahead

With all the news about Terri and now the pope, something else has happened that's not getting enough attention. Massachusetts has just approved legislation to encourage embryonic stem cell research. Gov. Romney is expected to veto it because of ethical concerns, but it passed by such a huge margin the veto can be overridden.
Maria Parker, a lobbyist for the Catholic Conference, said that it was a total defeat for the pro-life side because of the huge margin. It seems that people don't see the ethical problem with creating embryos and then disposing of them.