Friday, May 31, 2013

Mary is the Mother of Missionaries

The Visitation, Carl Heinrich Bloch (19th cent.)

Today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to her relative Elizabeth. Three years ago on this day, at a traditional Rosary celebration and candlelight procession in the Vatican Gardens to conclude the month of May, Pope Benedict XVI gave a beautiful address on today's feast in which he presented an interesting insight. He pointed out that our blessed Mother Mary is "the Mother of Missionaries" because she was the first person to bring Christ to someone else when, having recently conceived Him in her womb, she went to visit Elizabeth. Here is the full text of Pope Benedict's reflection from the Vatican web site:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I join you with great joy at the end of this traditional prayer meeting which concludes the month of May in the Vatican. With reference to today's liturgy, let us contemplate Mary Most Holy in the mystery of her Visitation. We recognize in the Virgin Mary who goes to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth the clearest example and the truest meaning of our journey as believers and of the journey of the Church herself. The Church is missionary by her very nature, she is called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and always and to pass on the faith to every man and woman, and to every culture.

"In those days", wrote St Luke the Evangelist, "Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah" (Lk 1: 39). Mary's is a real missionary journey. It leads her far from home, impels her into the world to places alien to her daily habits; in a certain sense it stretches her to her maximum capacity. Here, also for all of us, lies the secret of our lives as men and women and Christians. Our existence as individuals and as Church is projected outside ourselves. As had happened to Abraham, we are asked to come out of ourselves, from where we feel safe, to reach out to others in different places and surroundings. It is the Lord who asks this of us: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses... to the end of the earth" (Acts 1: 8). And it is once again the Lord who sets us on this path beside Mary as our travelling companion and caring mother. She reassures us, for she reminds us that the Son, her Jesus, is always with us as he promised: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28: 20).

The Evangelist notes that "Mary remained with her" (with her relative Elizabeth) "about three months" (Lk 1: 56). These simple words explain the most immediate purpose of Mary's journey. She knew from the Angel that Elizabeth was expecting a son and that she was already in her sixth month (Lk 1: 36). However Elizabeth was elderly and the closeness of Mary, still very young, could be helpful to her. For this reason Mary visits her and stays with her about three months in order to offer her that affectionate closeness, that practical help and all those daily services she needed. Elizabeth thus becomes the symbol of many elderly and sick people indeed, of all who are in need of help and love. And how many of them there are today too in our families, in our communities and in our cities! And Mary who had described herself as "the handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1: 38) makes herself the servant of human beings. More precisely, she serves the Lord whom she encounters in her brethren.

Yet Mary's charity does not stop at material assistance but reaches its summit in giving Jesus himself, in "favouring an encounter with him". Once again, it is St Luke who emphasizes this: "When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb" (Lk 1: 41). We are thus at the heart and culmination of the evangelizing mission. We have come to the truest meaning and most genuine purpose of every missionary journey: to give people the living and personal Gospel which is the Lord Jesus himself. And Jesus' Gospel is a communication and a gift which as Elizabeth testifies fill the heart with joy: "For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my years, the babe in my womb leaped for joy" (Lk 1: 44). Jesus is the only true treasure to give to humanity that we possess. It is for him that the men and women of our time have a deep longing, even when they seem to ignore or to reject him. It is for him that the society in which we live, Europe and the whole world, has so great a need.

This extraordinary responsibility is entrusted to us. Let us live it with joy and commitment, so that ours may truly be a civilization in which truth, justice, freedom and love prevail, the fundamental and irreplaceable pillars of a true orderly and peaceful coexistence. Let us live this responsibility by devoting ourselves to listening to the word of God in brotherly union, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (cf. Acts 2: 42). May this be the grace we ask of the Most Holy Virgin this evening. My Blessing to you all!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Quote of the Day

Less clearly but nevertheless unmistakably, we find here in the West too, a revival of new Catholic initiatives that are not ordered by a structure or a bureaucracy. The bureaucracy is spent and tired. These initiatives come from within, from the joy of young people. Christianity is perhaps acquiring another face and, also, another cultural form. It does not hold the command post in world opinion; others rule there. But it is the vital force without which even the other things would not continue. In this regard, thanks to what I myself am able to see and experience, I am quite optimistic that Christianity is on the verge of a new dynamic.

--Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), p. 59

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Quote for Memorial Day

 "I now make it my earnest prayer that God would have you and the State over which you preside, in His holy protection, that he would incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; to entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another, for their fellow citizens of the United States at large, and particularly for their brethren who have served in the field; and, finally, that he would be most graciously pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind, which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without an humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation."

--George Washington, in a letter to the governors of the states on disbanding the army, June 8, 1783

On the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity

"God is not something vague, our God is not something vaporous, he is concrete, he is not an abstraction, but has a name: “God is love.” It is not a sentimental or emotive love, but the love of the Father that is the origin of every life, the love of the Son who dies on the cross and rises, the love of the Spirit, who renews man and the world. Understanding that God is love does us a lot of good, because it teaches us to love, to give ourselves to others as Jesus gave himself to us, to walk with us. Jesus walks with us along the road of life.

"The Most Holy Trinity is not the product of human reasoning; it is the face with which God himself revealed himself, not from the height of a cathedra, but walking with humanity. It is precisely Jesus who revealed the Father and promised us the Holy Spirit. God walked with his people in the history of the people of Israel and Jesus always walked with us and promised us the Holy Spirit, who is fire, who teaches us all the things that we do not know, who guides us from within, he gives us the good ideas and the good inspirations.

"Today we praise God not for a particular mystery but for himself, “for his great glory,” as the liturgical hymn says. We praise him and we thank him because he is Love, and because he calls us to enter into the embrace of his communion, which is eternal life.

"Let us place our praises in the hands of the Virgin Mary. She, the most humble of creatures, through Christ has already arrived at the goal of the earthly pilgrimage: she is already in the glory of the Trinity. Because of this Mary our Mother, Our Lady, shines for us as a sign of sure hope. She is the Mother of hope; on our journey, on our road, she is the Mother of hope. She is also the Mother who consoles us, the Mother of consolation and the Mother who is with us on the journey."

--Pope Francis

Friday, May 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

One often wonders how it happens that Christians who personally are believers do not have the strength to put their faith into action in a way that is politically more effective. Above all else we must try to make sure that people do not lose sight of God. That they recognize the treasure they have. And that they themselves, then, as a result of the strength of their own faith, enter into the conflict with secularism and are capable of carrying out the discernment of spirits. This tremendous process is the real, great task of this hour. We can only hope that the inner strength of the faith that is present in people will then become powerful publicly as well by leaving its imprint on public thinking, too, and that society does not simply fall into the abyss.

--Pope Benedict XVI, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), pp. 57-58

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

55 Million Dead, 55 Million Wounded: The Legacy of Roe v. Wade

A few months ago, on January 22, 2013, we marked the fortieth anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade—an unconstitutional, immoral, and tragic decision that has unleashed a torrent of murder and misery upon our nation.

On January 22, 1973, seven Supreme Court justices decided that a woman has a right to kill her innocent unborn child for any reason whatsoever. In producing this ruling, the Court misinterpreted the Fifth Amendment to our Constitution, which states, “No person shall be…deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” This passage, along with most of the Fifth Amendment, was written to protect the rights of persons accused of crimes. When our nation’s Founders authored this text, they meant that no one could be executed or deprived of his freedom or land without first being properly tried and convicted of a crime. But the irresponsible activist Court led by Chief Justice Warren Burger deliberately chose to ignore the intent of the Constitution’s authors and, through some incomprehensible twist of logic, reinterpreted the Fifth Amendment due process clause to justify legalizing the murder of innocent unborn persons—something the Founders would never have approved of in their wildest dreams. Roe v. Wade represented nothing less than an attack on the integrity and meaning of the Constitution of the United States by the very institution that is supposed to protect it, the U.S. Supreme Court.

Not only was Roe v. Wade an unconstitutional decision, it was also an immoral decision. In the Declaration of Independence, we the people of the United States declared, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The right to life is the most fundamental of all rights with which God the Creator has endowed all human beings. This right to life is an “unalienable” right, meaning that it cannot be taken away. To deprive an innocent human being of life is a violation of that person’s God-given unalienable right to life. It is also a violation of the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” Our nation’s devout Christian Founders took these principles for granted. They could scarcely have imagined that, two hundred years later, the judicial branch of government would somehow justify allowing innocent human beings to be killed in their mothers’ wombs right here in the United States of America. They did warn, however, that the United States would not long endure without what George Washington referred to as the “indispensable supports” of religion and morality. If the people of a nation don’t believe that human rights—especially the right to life—come from God, then those rights will be perceived as coming from the state and the state will claim the authority to give or take away those rights as it sees fit. And if people don’t believe that it is wrong to deprive an innocent person of his or her right to life, then human life will not be respected.

Finally, Roe v. Wade was an immensely tragic decision. During the past forty years, some 55.5 million innocent unborn human beings—an average of 1.38 million a year—have been murdered in their mothers’ wombs through legalized abortion. That is an alarming and staggering figure. That’s more than nine times the number of innocent Jews murdered in the Holocaust. It’s also more than the fifty million people killed in World War II, the deadliest conflict in modern human history. It is difficult to comprehend the full magnitude of this tremendous loss of life or to calculate the full impact of this massacre of the unborn on our nation over the past forty years. Excluding miscarriages, accidents, disease, and other causes of death outside the womb, our country is currently missing some 55 million inhabitants; in addition, many of those aborted in the 1970s and 80s would now be married and raising children of their own, so our country is really missing around 70 million people, and our nation’s population should be around 385 million instead of the 315 million it is now. Think of how much different—and better—things would be in our country if we had all these missing people contributing to our economy and using their God-given talents to serve our nation in a variety of professions and fields. We will never know how different the United States would be in 2013 if nearly all the innocent unborn had been born and were alive today. The absence of 70 million people is an incalculable and irretrievable loss to our nation.

Unfortunately, this unimaginable abortion massacre is still in progress. Between 3,000 and 4,000 abortions continue to take place in the United States each day. Most of the women who are having these abortions are not having them because they want to, but because they feel they have no other choice. The vast majority of them are black or Hispanic single teenage mothers who live in inner cities under the poverty line and cannot afford to raise the child they have conceived. Many of them are pressured into having an abortion by friends or family members. And so, despite their misgivings and their inner awareness of the evil of abortion, they end up going through this awful experience that they will regret for the rest of their lives. Some do not realize what they are doing when they go to have an abortion, but once they have had one, they know that what they did was wrong and they deeply regret it.

There is a huge gap between the rhetoric of abortion proponents and the reality of what takes place in the abortion industry. Abortion “rights” advocates claim that a woman has “the right to choose” to terminate her pregnancy. In practice, however, as noted above, most women who have abortions do so because they perceive that no other options are available to them. For them abortion is a desperate last resort, not a free and willful choice.

Supporters of abortion talk about keeping the procedure “safe,” but there is nothing safe about it. Abortion has traumatized and damaged the health of the tens of millions of women who have gone through it. As a result of their abortions, they have suffered from breast and ovarian cancer, pregnancy complications, post-traumatic stress disorder, grief, depression, anxiety, and guilt feelings, and some have even committed suicide.

Abortion advocates also deny that racism or eugenics play any role in the abortion industry. However, according to research carried out by Protecting Black Life and the Life Issues Institute, a whopping 79 percent of abortion clinics in the United States are situated in or near black and Hispanic neighborhoods. These organizations observe that Planned Parenthood is still following the eugenics philosophy of its foundress Margaret Sanger, who regarded blacks and poor Americans as “unfit” to reproduce and who dedicated her life to controlling the population of these “undesirables” through the promotion of contraception and sterilization in their neighborhoods. Planned Parenthood is now using abortion to further this eugenics agenda. For many years the rates of black and Hispanic abortions have far exceeded the rate of white abortions. According to the National Vital Statistics Report issued by the U.S. government, African-American women on average have five times the number of abortions that white women have, and Hispanic women have 2.3 times that number. In fact, abortion is the leading cause of death among African-Americans, exceeding all other causes put together. (Ironically, the political party generally favored by these minority ethnic groups—the party that claims to represent their interests—is the party that obsessively promotes the murder of the unborn.)

Back in the 1950s, 60s, and early 70s, prior to the legalization of abortion in the United States and elsewhere, abortion was widely viewed as beneficial to women and to society. Today, however, after forty years of legalized abortion, the research clearly shows that the opposite is true. Without exception, abortion has been a profoundly negative experience for every single woman who has had one. The collateral damage to women and society from abortion is immense. It has left 55.5 million women deeply wounded mentally, emotionally and physically and has deprived our society of tens of millions of members. This is the legacy of Roe v. Wade, the most catastrophic Supreme Court decision in American history.

The good news is that, as the disastrous effects of abortion have become more clearly evident and widely known over time, they have helped to fuel a growing pro-life movement throughout the United States. Today this popular movement is massive and strong and includes many young people as well as women who have had abortions. More Americans now identify themselves as pro-life than at any time since Roe v. Wade. Meanwhile, the number of voter-supported state restrictions on abortion continues to grow; 38 such restrictions were enacted in 2012 alone. Of the approximately 400,000 individuals who took part in the 2011 March for Life in Washington, D.C., a majority were young people born since Roe v. Wade. In addition, the “40 Days for Life” campaigns of prayer, fasting, community outreach and silent vigil in front of abortion clinics in the United States and other countries have resulted to date in 6,749 lives saved from abortion, 75 abortion workers quitting their jobs, and 25 abortion facilities closing their doors.

Furthermore, in recent years we are seeing a positive national trend toward fewer and fewer abortions. U.S. abortion rates have been steadily going down since the early 1990s and are now at their lowest levels since the early 1970s, when abortion first became legal. The number of abortion providers has also decreased substantially since the early 1980s, with fewer doctors now willing to perform abortions. Additionally, the number of operating Planned Parenthood clinics in the U.S. has declined from a peak of 938 in 1995 to 785 in 2011 and is continuing to trend downward.

Due to the gradual but steady decrease in public demand for abortions, the industry that provides them has been shrinking. However, abortion remains a big moneymaker for the doctors and institutions involved in it. According to the watchdog agency Stop Planned Parenthood (STOPP), in 2010 abortions accounted for 51.5 percent, or about $500 million, of Planned Parenthood’s total income. Planned Parenthood performed 329,445 abortions that year, so it made an average of about $1,500 per abortion. For those involved in this lucrative enterprise, the prospect of ultimately going out of business is unacceptable. To prevent this from happening, the sinking abortion industry has turned to the U.S. government and the Obama administration for a helping hand.

As a result, a significant challenge to ending legalized abortion in the United States now looms. Paradoxically, at a time when more Americans are pro-life than ever before, their federal government is controlled by a radically anti-life, anti-religious and immoral administration that is determined not only to keep abortion legal, but to increase the number of abortions. On January 20, 2012, with Congressional authorization through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued a directive forcing nearly all businesses, charitable organizations and religious entities in the country to provide health insurance coverage that includes contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral or religious objections to the provision of these “preventive services for women.” This insidious, coercive anti-life policy is designed to revitalize the abortion industry under the guise of health care; while performing fewer surgical abortions in clinics, Planned Parenthood can now sell abortifacient drugs by the tens of millions to American businesses, charitable organizations and religious institutions that are required by law to purchase them. We Americans must vigorously oppose this outrageous government policy. We cannot allow such an immoral and unjust law as the HHS mandate to stand. It must be repealed. We must demand that our government protect life and stop promoting the murder of the innocent unborn.

Unfortunately, while a majority of Americans describe themselves as pro-life, slightly over half of American voters chose to re-elect President Obama, the most radically pro-abortion president in American history. This is a serious, if temporary, setback for the pro-life movement at the federal level, where we can expect to make little progress toward ending legalized abortion over the next four years. President Obama is likely to appoint one or two new Supreme Court justices who will favor keeping Roe v. Wade in place. Hopefully, in 2016 American voters will have the sense to elect a pro-life president who will take vigorous action to end legalized abortion. Pro-life Americans must stand united and translate their beliefs into consistent political action if the pro-life movement is to achieve its goal of ending the legal slaughter of the innocent unborn.

What can we do—as individuals, as communities, and as a nation—to end the terrible scourge of abortion? Here are ten recommendations.

1. Reach out to women in crisis pregnancies. We must open more crisis pregnancy centers in our cities where abortion clinics are located. There should be one such center for every abortion clinic. We need more volunteers to reach out to more women in crisis pregnancies and offer them the help, counseling, support and encouragement they need to choose life for their unborn babies.

2. Stay informed and take action. Contact your elected representatives in Washington, D.C. by letter, email, phone and fax and demand that they rescind the anti-life HHS mandate immediately. When your state legislature proposes a pro-life bill, contact your representatives and urge them to support it. Conversely, when your legislature proposes a pro-abortion bill, contact your representatives and urge them to oppose it. You can sign up with various pro-life organizations and Catholic advocacy groups to receive email alerts when pro-life issues come up in your state. Also, you can write letters to the editors of your local newspapers in which you express and defend your pro-life convictions.

3. Vote pro-life. As American citizens and as Catholics, we have a duty to elect representatives to public office who will defend the right to life of the innocent unborn in their mother’s wombs.

4. March for life. Publicly demonstrate your support for unborn human life by participating in pro-life marches and rallies. These events send a clear message to our elected representatives that the American people are strongly in favor of ending legalized abortion. History shows that mounting public pressure over a long period of time is ultimately successful in achieving political change. The civil rights movement is a good example of this.

5. Join the 40 Days for Life campaigns. As noted above, these campaigns have proven effective in saving lives from abortion, causing abortion workers to quit their jobs, and leading to the closure of abortion clinics. Visit to find out how to sign up for one of these campaigns, which are held in cities all across America several times a year.

6. Donate to pro-life organizations. The American Life League, Americans United for Life, the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, and Priests for Life are just a few of the organizations that are doing excellent work in the pro-life movement. They are not-for-profit organizations that depend on donations to sustain their work.

7. Support and promote pro-life films. The battle against abortion is not only a political battle, it is also a cultural battle—a battle for the hearts and minds of the American people. The cinema exerts a major influence on American culture. When a beautiful pro-life film such as Bella or October Baby comes out in theaters, we should watch it and tell other people about it.

8. Demand the de-funding of Planned Parenthood. In recent years America’s largest abortion provider has become increasingly reliant on public funds. In 2010 Planned Parenthood received a total of $487.4 million in U.S. government funding, which accounted for 46.5 percent of its revenue that year. Thus, cutting off government funding for Planned Parenthood would severely cripple the organization and lead to a dramatic decrease in the annual number of U.S. abortions. We must urge our elected representatives to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

9. Demand the reversal of Roe v. Wade. This will end legalized abortion in the United States. It may be unlikely to happen in the near future, but we must not allow ourselves to become discouraged. Justice and morality demand that the right to life of every unborn American be protected by law. This should motivate us to remain steadfastly committed to getting Roe v. Wade reversed.

10. Pray and fast for the end of abortion. These are the most important and effective things we can do to end the killing of the unborn. The pro-life battle we are fighting is not just a political or legal or cultural battle; it is fundamentally a moral and spiritual battle of good against evil. God is on our side, so we know that we will ultimately be victorious.

Pope John Paul II once said, “The condition for the survival of America is to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn.” The appalling mass murder of the unborn in our nation has gone on for too long and must be brought to an end. Roe v. Wade must be overturned so that the unalienable, God-given right to life of every innocent unborn human being in the United States is once again protected by our Constitution and guaranteed by our laws. We must not rest until we achieve that goal.

Copyright © 2013 Justin D. Soutar. All rights reserved.


1. Steven Ertelt, “79% of Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinics Target Blacks, Hispanics,”, 10/16/12.

2. Ibid.

3. National Vital Statistics Reports, Vol. 60, No. 7, June 20, 2012, p. 6, Figure 7.

4. Ertelt, "79%".

5. “AUL’s 2013 Life List: Mapping the Momentum Toward a Pro-Life America,” Americans United for Life.

6. “Youth Turnout Strong at US March for Life,” ZENIT, Jan. 25, 2011.

7. 40 Days for Life.

8. Steven Ertelt, “Planned Parenthood: 51% of Its Clinic Revenue Comes From Abortions,”, 1/5/12.

9. Ibid.

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Quote of the Day

The journey of the Church, and our own personal journeys as Christians, are not always easy; they meet with difficulties and trials. To follow the Lord, to let his Spirit transform the shadowy parts of our lives, our ungodly ways of acting, and cleanse us of our sins, is to set out on a path with many obstacles, both in the world around us but also within us, in the heart. But difficulties and trials are part of the path that leads to God’s glory, just as they were for Jesus, who was glorified on the cross; we will always encounter them in life! Do not be discouraged! We have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome these trials!

--Pope Francis

Monday, May 13, 2013

Quote of the Day

But the just rejoice and exult before God;
they are glad and rejoice.
--Psalm 68:4 (NAB)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reflection for Mother's Day

Motherhood involves a special communion with the mystery of life, as it develops in the woman's womb. The mother is filled with wonder at this mystery of life, and "understands" with unique intuition what is happening inside her. In the light of the "beginning", the mother accepts and loves as a person the child she is carrying in her womb. This unique contact with the new human being developing within her gives rise to an attitude towards human beings - not only towards her own child, but every human being - which profoundly marks the woman's personality. It is commonly thought that women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more. The man - even with all his sharing in parenthood - always remains "outside" the process of pregnancy and the baby's birth; in many ways he has to learn his own "fatherhood" from the mother. One can say that this is part of the normal human dimension of parenthood, including the stages that follow the birth of the baby, especially the initial period. The child's upbringing, taken as a whole, should include the contribution of both parents: the maternal and paternal contribution. In any event, the mother's contribution is decisive in laying the foundation for a new human personality.

--Blessed John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (1988)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Quote of the Day

The Book of Genesis tells us that God created man and woman by entrusting to them the task of populating the Earth and subjugating it, which does not mean to exploit it, but to cultivate and guard it, to care for it with their own labour (cf. Gen 1:28; 2:15). The work is part of the plan of God's love; we are called to cultivate and safeguard all the goods of creation and in this way we participate in the work of creation! The work is fundamental to the dignity of a person. Work, to use an image, "anoints" us with dignity, it fills us with dignity; it makes us similar to God, who has worked and works still, He is always acting (cf. Jn 5:17); it gives the ability to maintain oneself, one's family, to contribute to the growth of one's nation.

--Pope Francis

Monday, May 6, 2013

Quote of the Day

"Mary, like a good mother, teaches us to be, like her, capable of making definitive decisions, definitive decisions in this moment in which there reigns, so to say, the philosophy of the provisional. It is so difficult to commit oneself definitively in life. And she helps us to make definitive decisions with that complete freedom with which she answered 'yes' to God’s plan for her life."

--Pope Francis

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Thoughts for the Day

In his homily which focused on the readings of the day [May 3, Feast of Sts. Philip and James], Pope Francis said all Christians who have received the gift of faith must pass this gift on by proclaiming it with our lives, with our word. But, the Pope questioned, “what is this fundamental faith? It is faith in the Risen Jesus, in Jesus who has forgiven our sins through His death and reconciled us with the Father":

"Transmitting this requires us to be courageous: the courage of transmitting the faith. A sometimes simple courage. I remember - excuse me - a personal story: as a child every Good Friday my grandmother took us to the Procession of Candles and at the end of the procession came the recumbent Christ and my grandmother made us kneel down and told us children, 'Look he is dead, but tomorrow he will be Risen! '. That is how the faith entered: faith in Christ Crucified and Risen. In the history of the Church there have been many, many people who have wanted to blur this strong certainty and speak of a spiritual resurrection. No, Christ is alive”.

Pope Francis continued saying that “Christ is alive and is also alive among us”, reiterating that Christians must have the courage to proclaim His Resurrection, the Good News. But, he added there is also another courage that Jesus asks of us:

"Jesus - to put it in stronger terms - challenges us to prayer and says this:' Whatever you ask in my name, I will do so that the Father may be glorified in the Son '. If you ask anything in my name, I will do it ... But this is really powerful! We must have the courage to go to Jesus and ask him: 'But you said this, do it! Make the faith grow, make evangelization move forward, help me to solve this problem... Do we have this courage in prayer? Or do we pray a little, when we can, spending a bit' of time in prayer? But that courage, that parresia even in prayer ... ".

The Pope recalled how we read in the Bible that Abraham and Moses have the courage to "negotiate with the Lord." A courage "in favor of others, in favor of the Church" which we also need today:

"When the Church loses courage, the Church enters into a ‘lukewarm’ atmosphere. The lukewarm, lukewarm Christians, without courage ... That hurts the Church so much, because this tepid atmosphere draws you inside, and problems arise among us; we no longer have the horizon, or courage to pray towards heaven, or the courage to proclaim the Gospel. We are lukewarm ... We have the courage to get involved in our small things in our jealousies, our envy, our careerism, in selfishly going forward ... In all these things, but this is not good for the Church: the Church must be courageous! We all have to be courageous in prayer, in challenging Jesus!".


Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Hero We Can Be Proud Of

I know the man seated in the center of the above photo and am honored to call him my friend. His name is Captain Guy Gruters, and he served in the U.S. Air Force as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War. After flying more than 1,000 successful combat missions, he was shot down and captured by the North Vietnamese in 1967. He spent the next five and a half years enduring the horrific nightmare of a Communist prison camp, including torture, starvation, and psychological pressure, but he refused to betray his country or his honor. He was finally released and returned to the United States in 1973. Now he travels all over the country giving talks about how his Catholic faith strengthened him to persevere through this almost unimaginable trial. His amazing story and his powerful testimony always moves people to tears as well as applause. In the photo above, Capt. Gruters receives a standing ovation from Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin (far left) and top military officials from the National Guard following a recent talk in Milwaukee.

I am very proud of Captain Gruters and deeply grateful for his service to our country. He offers an excellent role model for today's young members of the United States armed forces. He reminds us that faith in God is what inspires true patriotism and heroism.

For more information about Guy Gruters, check out the following link from the U.S. Air Force website:

"Faith in captivity: Vietnam War POW Inspires Airmen"

Also check out Guy's website.

Quote of the Day

To listen to the Lord, we must learn to contemplate, to perceive His constant presence in our lives; we have to stop and talk to Him, give Him space with prayer.
--Pope Francis