As we continue to celebrate the Easter season and the start of spring, I can't help but make mention of all the new life that is growing all around us. Today as I was driving I was noticing all the beautiful flowers that are starting to bloom, and it got me thinking about what kinds of plants we are going to have in our garden this year.
One really interesting flower is the Pasque flower which is a part of the buttercup family. Known and recognized as the Easter flower, its name comes from the French word for Easter. The Pasque flower blooms from April till June with beautiful purple or red flowers.
Legend says that these flowers grew alongside the tomb of Jesus and were a part of his magnificent Resurrection. Interestingly, the Pasque plant is used to help those who have trouble seeing. Maybe by planting a few Pasque flowers, it will help us see Christ more clearly in the world around us.
WASHINGTON—the U.S. bishops want to provide an opportunity for all Catholics to deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ, according to a new document from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Disciples Called to Witness: The New Evangelization focuses on reaching out to Catholics, practicing or not, who have lost a sense of the faith in an effort to re-energize them.
“Every Catholic has a role in the Church, and every Catholic is called to spread the Gospel,” said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wisconsin, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis. “But in order to evangelize, a person must first be evangelized. This is really the heart of the New Evangelization.”
The document examines what the New Evangelization is, its focus, its importance for the Church and how dioceses and parishes can promote it.
“The New Evangelization is a call to each person to deepen his or her own faith, have confidence in the Gospel, and possess a willingness to share the Gospel,” the document states. “It is a personal encounter with the person of Jesus, which brings peace and joy. The New Evangelization provides the lens through which people experience the Church and the world around them.”
The document highlights the call of Pope Benedict XVI to pursue the New Evangelization with renewed vigor and joy. It also provides dioceses and parishes with resources to assist Catholics in renewing their faith and sharing it with others.
The full text of the document is available online: click link
Source: US Conference of Catholic Bishops
One of our editors Dan Grippo found this interesting book that focuses on the tensions between Catholics and Muslims. Below is a brief description of the book and a link to its page on Amazon.
Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World
David Carlson Ph.D. (Author)
"If revenge and retaliation are the best responses that our nation could muster after 9/11, then Jesus did not have to come, live among us, and preach a radical understanding of 'neighbor' that includes the enemy."
In the wake of the ten-year anniversary of 9/11, as tensions rise between Christians and Muslims, author and religious studies professor David Carlson seeks guidance in the modern-day deserts of monastic communities across America. Are Christianity and Islam destined to confront one other as clashing civilizations? Peace Be with You: Monastic Wisdom for a Terror-Filled World clearly answers "No."
Peace Be With You is the result of more than thirty interviews with abbots, nuns, monks, and other seekers at monasteries and retreat centers. Carlson reveals the untapped wisdom of these men and women in their own words as they speak with hope to a suffering world. Follow the author on this personal, moving, and at times difficult journey, and discover a new yet ancient basis for genuine peace between Christianity and other religions-especially Islam.
"It is time for Christians to use their power to change the conversation," Carlson says, "to ponder Jesus' command to treat the stranger as our neighbor and to treat our neighbor not only as ourselves, but as God in our midst."
|CU's President John Garvey helps paint with students|
Today marks the end of the Easter Triduum and the beginning of the Easter Season, which lasts for seven weeks ending on Pentecost Sunday.
This is a season full of life! Spring time is emerging and all the flowers are in bloom. Birds are filling the air with sweet hymns and new leaves are sprouting on the trees.
From here until Pentecost Sunday, the calendar is full with First Communions, Mother’s Day, Graduations and more. The Church tells us, “This is the perfect time of the year to celebrate life.”
So Enjoy this season of life and goodness. Let the Paschal candle burn brightly in your hearts throughout this season and let it remind you of the Holy Spirit that works within you.
Happy Easter Season!
Today marks Maundy Thursday or as we know it Holy Thursday. It was written in the Gospel of John; Jesus washes the feet of his disciples on Holy Thursday, the day before his crucifixion.
As we look forward to Easter and the Resurrection of the Lord, we begin to prepare ourselves for his death. Wherever in the world Catholics may be preparing to celebrate Easter, their thoughts and prayers are sent to the Holy Land, the land of Christ’s birth. In order to help us get ready for this season’s mysteries, what better place to go than to Jerusalem – the city of the Lord’s Passion, death and Resurrection.
Fr. David Neuhaus, the Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew speaking Catholics reflects on Holy Thursday and its importance in our own lives. Take a listen to his reflection and try to spend some quiet time with the Lord today. For more reflections on Holy Week or news about the Church, please check out Vatican Radio.
Can you think of three words that describe the Season of Lent and what it means to you?
Well, if you are struggling to find three words or ideas, the Sisters of St. Francis might be able to help you out. Seven sisters from the Sisters of St. Francis, Sylvania OH, filmed a short video about the season of Lent, sharing in three words what this holy season means to them.
This short yet powerful film describes all the attitudes and feelings we have as we journey through Lent toward Holy Week and Easter. Lent is considered a time of soul-searching and preparation, but it is also a time of gratitude for the great sacrifice Jesus made for us.
So in three words: Thank you, Lord.
Three years ago, the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration in Arizona put their minds to raising funds to build a chapel and monastery in the Southwestern desert. They came up with a fun idea - have young and old alike run in an annual fundraiser named the Nun Run.
This year, their 3rd Annual Nun Run on March 10 attracted 1,135 participants at Kiwanis Park in Tempe, Ariz., to compete in a 10K run, 5K run/walk, or opt for a slower-paced 1-mile walk.
"I started off the day full of energy and left with more than I arrived with," said Jill Sciarappo a volunteer and photographer.
The runners wore shirts designed by Sister Fidelis based on the year's motto from Isaiah 40:31 "You shall run and not get weary".
Many people came out for this amazing event from grandparents to young children. The "Nun Run" is trying to raise funds to continue work on building Our Lady of Solitude Monastery. The previous runs all help to fund the chapel and chapel appointments. After the final cosmetic work is completed on the chapel, the main focus will be completion of the Monastery to make rooms for 28 sisters.
Our Lady of Solitude is rising like a vision of medieval beauty on land donated to the sisters in Tonopah, just west of Phoenix. The sisters arrived here in 2005 from Hanceville, Ala., to establish the first Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration monastery in the West and to become the first contemplative community of nuns in the Phoenix Diocese.
The Nun Runs are helping to bring the diocesan community together for this project. "The Lord has inspired a lot of good people to come out and help us," said Sister John-Mark Maria. "A lot of people come together for Our Lord, and I experience that through the Nun Run. I'm very humbled, and I marvel in the Lord's goodness."
So if you see a nun run, go join in and think of the Lord. A young woman was running and wearing a shirt that had a picture of a sister with the words: "Not all habits are bad."
Let's remember to pray for those who are discerning a religious vocation or any vocation and let's continue to pray for the men and women who are priests or sisters, as they continue to inspire and work towards bringing about the Kingdom of God.
Check out more photos of the Nun Run or to get involved.
With moves from soccer greats like Pelé or Ronaldo, sisters and priests from the Diocese of Biloxi and southern Mississippi participated in a benefit soccer game for St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School. In a girls vs. boys soccer showdown with a bit of religious flare, the sisters proved superior.
Dressed in habits, the sisters from the Community of Charity and Social Services (CCSS), along with help from parishioners and students in disguise, pulled a convincing 6-4 victory over the priests.
"We thought this would be a fun way to bring awareness of holy life," said Ginny Macken, who coordinated the game. "We had about 100 people out for a great afternoon, with proceeds benefiting the Long Beach St. Vincent de Paul Society. It was a fun competition with lots of laughs. Both the kids and adults had a great time."
Check out these great photos from St. Thomas Catholic Church, the parish that supports St. Vincent de Paul School. Including this one of Sr. Martha Troung, CCSS:
Well, it seems like forever since I last blogged about something going on in the news but I am happy to report that I am back from my week working with the Sisters of St. Joseph and their volunteer program.
I cannot go into too much detail about what I did (I am saving that for our magazine-so check it out in July), but it was a great week. I got involved in so many unique ministries that the sisters provide out in Rochester.
The overarching theme is Social Justice and Peace which stems from Catholic Social Teaching. All the ministries of the SSJ focus on these core components to provide the necessary resources people need in their daily lives. I was involved in education, health care, community and environmental ministries throughout the week and I had the opportunity to meet some really amazing people. It was truly an eye-opening experience to see how many lives we were able to touch just by being present and lending a helping hand.
Some words about Rochester, New York:
Rochester does have its areas of poverty and hardship like many cities but there was a feeling of welcome when I arrived. It was a great place to live and work for a week and I hope that others get inspired to participate in this amazing program and get a glimpse into the lives of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
sources: City of Rochester
Click here for more information about the Sisters of St. Joseph, Rochester, NY.
The only leap year baby to become Pope was Paul III, who was born in Italy on this very day in 1468. Known as Alessandro Farnese, he became the Pope in 1534. Pope Paul III, convened the Council of Trent in 1545 and he was a strong advocate of the arts. As Pope, he commissioned Michelangelo to paint the Last Judgement on the wall of the Sistine Chapel. According to many scholars, Nicolaus Copernicus dedicated his work, De revolutionibus orbium coelestium (On the Revolutions of Celestial Spheres) to Pope Paul III because of his contribution to the arts.
Pope Paul III died in 1549 and is burined in a tomb in which Michelangelo designed. To read more about Pope Paul III click here. Enjoy all the blessings that come with this "leap" day today!
We can look upon Lent as a journey. Think about the journeys we take-long journeys that can take days, even weeks to complete. Throughout this journey we experience ups and downs. We don't really expect them to go smoothly but we prepare for those things and deal with them when they come up.
A new movie, called The Way, is a movie about a journey in search of self, understanding and reconciliation. The Way, written and directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father, Martin Sheen takes us on a journey with characters that we come to care about and relate to.
The story goes that Tom (Sheen) is a California doctor whose son, Daniel (Estevez), dies in an accident while beginning a 500-mile pilgrimage to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela along the northern coast of Spain. When Tom arrives to claim Daniel's body, he decides to carry Daniel's ashes on to Santiago to complete Daniel's pilgrimage. Along the way, the pilgrimage becomes uniquely his own.
Sheen, says of the pilgrim experience, "As we go along, we begin to shed some of the excess weight that we're carrying exteriorly, and then something interesting happens: transcendence-the journey inside." What a great message for Lent as we are taking our journeys towards spiritual renewal.
How can we change course and really deepen our faith this Lent?
According to Jeanne Hunt writing in St. Anthony's Messenger, we begin by cleaning out our spiritual closets and getting rid of those spiritual skeletons that are hindering our relationship with God and others.
"We Catholics and other Christians," says Hung "have long put on spiritual ashes to renew our faith and turn back to God wholeheartedly. Yet, our traditional pillars of Lenten practice need to be regularly revisited and tweaked. We may need to leave our comfort zone and give ourselves a genuine spiritual workout. For Lent to really matter, we must take a hard look at the state of our spirits. Then we can respond in a way that establishes deeper connections with God, our families--and even ourselves.
"God invites us to look at all our relationships with a willingness to make changes. Giving up things that mean little to us, such as candy, soda, etc., are good but that cannot impact the state of our souls. We have to begin to look critically at how we spend time in prayer, what we worship in the secular world, or how we spend our money."
Here is what Hunt lists as her Favorite Lenten Fasts:
Proclaim an electronic fast on weekends. That means no iPad, iPod, Blackberry or computer until Monday morning. Then spend the resulting free time visiting people you love and spending quality time with your spouse and children.
Stay out of unnecessary stores during Lent. Anything beyond the grocery store, pharmacy, etc., is off-limits. Instead of adding more stuff during Lent, give away or throw away three things each day before Easter.
Go green in a big way. Every day perform a Lenten “random act of kindness for the earth.” Keep a journal of your green project work, and after Easter do these acts regularly.
Fast from media during Lent. Stop watching TV or Internet news or even listening to the radio. For 40 days, turn your thoughts to God. Choose to spend your time reading a book or magazine that feeds your soul.
Walk everywhere you can. Limit gas usage to a certain amount and make it last all week. Each day, walk with God. Simply imagine that you and Jesus Christ are running or walking side by side. Talk to him and listen to him.
Hunt recommends that we look at our lives objectively, honestly recognize our weaknesses, and then design a fast that responds to those weaknesses. Above all, says Hunt, "Don’t do something that comes easily. Your Lenten workout should hurt a little."
Enjoy your spiritual exercise!
Mardi Gras literally "Fat Tuesday", is the last hurrah before the Catholic season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The name comes from the tradition of slaughtering and feasting upon a fattened calf on the last day of Carnival.
What most people don't know is that this celebration relates back to the Christmas Season, through the ordinary time interlude known as Carnival. Carnival comes from the Latin, carne vale, which means "farewell to the flesh." Like many holidays and celebrations its roots are found in pre-Christian traditions based on the seasons. The season starts on Epiphany and ends with a huge celebration on "Fat Tuesday" or Mardi Gras.
Epiphany is also traditionally when celebrants serve King's Cake, a custom that began in France in the 12th century. Legend has it that the cakes were made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus. In the early days, a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake, and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year. In Louisiana, bakers now put a small baby, representing the Christ Child, in the cake; the recipient is then expected to host the next King Cake party.
There are well-known season-long Carnival celebrations in Europe and Latin America, including Nice, France; Cologne, Germany; and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The best-known celebration in the U.S. is in New Orleans and the French-Catholic communities of the Gulf Coast. Mardi Gras came to the New World in 1699, when a French explorer arrived at the Mississippi River, about 60 miles south of present day New Orleans. He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras because he knew the holiday was being celebrated in his native country that day.
The official colors of Mardi Gras, with their roots in Catholicism, were chosen 10 years later: purple, a symbol of justice; green, representing faith; and gold, to signify power. By midnight tonight, all the festivities will be over, but the true challenge lies ahead, when we begin our 40 day Lenten journey which begins on Ash Wednesday.
Happy Mardi Gras!
Sources: American Catholic
Ichthys, the Greek word meaning fish, is a predominant and powerful Christian symbol. Mentioned in the Gospels several times, the fish is quite symbolic of Jesus Christ. The letters in Ichthys are Greek words which make the Greek phrase, "Jesus Christ, Son of God, and Savior."
The historical meaning of the "Jesus Fish" goes back to after the Resurrection of Jesus. During the years following the Resurrection, the Church grew rapidly and the Christians were being persecuted by the Romans and Jews. Because it was dangerous to be a Christian, strangers that would meet would draw on the ground the upper have of the fish symbol. Upon recognizing the symbol the other would add the bottom and complete the drawing which was a fish. It may have been very simple but it was also easy to erase in case it was not recognized.
As we enter into Lent, we recall the importance of Jesus in our own lives and we begin to reflect on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, by his death and resurrection. Fr. Greg Friedman O.F.M. with American Catholic gives a great 60 second piece on the importance of the "Jesus Fish" and how this ancient symbol points directly to Jesus. During Lent, we try to realign ourselves with Jesus, by sacrificing something we enjoy. Normally, we give up meat, we fast, we pray, and we give alms to those in need.
Like Jesus, fish have fed thousands of people and nourished them. During Lent, we use the example of Jesus and the Gospels to nourish our souls and get feed by the Eucharist in order to have eternal life. We need the nourishment of Christ in our own lives and as we approach Lent, our nourishment comes in the sacrifice and preparation for the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter.
The final words of Jesus Christ as he died on the cross should prompt Christians to pray for those who have hurt them Pope Benedict XVI said on Feb. 15, the Catholic News Reported.
"Jesus by asking the Father to forgive those who are crucifying him, invites us to the difficult act of praying for those who do us wrong, who have damaged us, knowing always how to forgive," the Pope told over 6,000 pilgrims attending today's general audience in Paul VI Hall.
The Pope urged people to pray that "the light of God may illuminate their hearts, inviting us, that is, to live in our prayers, the same attitude of mercy and love that God has towards us."This attitude, he explained, is summed up in one line from the Our Father - "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."
Over the past several months, the Pope has used his weekly general audiences to explore the issue of prayer. This week he focused on the three last prayers of Jesus from the cross.
Those three final prayers of Jesus are "tragic" for every man but are also "pervaded by the deep calm that comes from trust in the Father and the will to abandon himself totally to him." They are a "supreme act of love" which went "to the limit and beyond the limit."As well as prompting us to pray for our enemies, the final prayers of Jesus should also teach Christians that "no matter how hard the trial, difficult the problem, heavy the suffering, we never fall from the hands of God," Pope Benedict said.
Since today is Valentine's Day, a day where we express our love for others, I thought it would be neat to post a video about a program that helps former gang members. Father Greg Boyle is the founder and Executive Director of Homeboy Industries, a non-profit that works with former gang members to help transform their lives, create positive communities and "find the person they are really meant to be." The link below takes you to Fr. Boyle talking about the importance of his work and the importance of helping those that are in need.
Homeboy Industries started as a jobs program offering alternatives to gang violence in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Homeboy assists at-risk, recently released, and formerly gang involved youth to become contributing members of their communities through a variety of services in response to their multiple needs. Free programs -- including counseling, education, tattoo removal, substance abuse and addiction assistance, job training and job placement -- enable young people to redirect their lives. Homeboy provides them with hope for their futures and is the nation’s largest gang-intervention and re-entry program – a model to all.
So today as we show our affection for those we love, let's remember to pray for those who need love and support.
Sources: Homeboy Industries Homepage and Huffington Post
Brazil's coastline, its Sugarloaf Mountain, and the iconic "Christ the Redeemer" statue are all part of the logo for the 2013 World Youth Day which was unveiled on Feb. 7.
"In the faith of the nations the heart has a major role," World Youth Day said in a note explaining the heart-shaped logo.
"It represents Brazil's welcome to the world as a nation of generous heart and hospitable people, while also conveying the faith of the disciples who carry Jesus in their hearts," according to Archbishop Tempesta.
Excitement surrounded the unveiling of the 2013 World Youth Day logo, which took place at an event hosted by Rio de Janeiro's Archbishop Orani João Tempesta. A 25-year-old Brazilian man, Gustavo Huguenin, submitted the winning logo design in a contest held by organizers of the international Catholic In his design, geographical and religiously-themed elements come together to form a heart, arranged around Christ's image taken from Brazil's internationally-known statue.
The top half incorporates the outline of Sugarloaf Mountain, the peak overlooking Rio de Janeiro. World Youth Day's traditional "pilgrim cross" is superimposed on the mountain.
Meanwhile, the lower right half of the heart shape combines with the right side of Christ's image to form the shape of Brazil's coastline. The logo shares the green, blue, and yellow color scheme of the country's flag
As we prepare for the next World Youth Day. Let us keep the youth and young adults in our prayers. The next World Youth Day takes place July 23-28th 2013 in Rio de Janeiro.Sources: Catholic News Agency