"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Lyons Photography captured this shot of a skateboarding graduate. We pray for all graduates to fulfill God’s plan for them.
World Youth Day was celebrated in dioceses throughout the world on March 28, Palm Sunday. Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the Day, dated February 22, follows:
"This year marks the 25th anniversary of the inauguration of World Youth Day in response to the desire of the Venerable John Paul II for an annual gathering of young people of faith from throughout the world. It was a prophetic initiative that has borne abundant fruits, enabling the new generations of Christians to meet one another, to listen to the Word of God, to discover the beauty of the Church, and to have a deep experience of faith. This led many of them in turn to decide to give themselves completely to Christ.
"The present 25th World Youth Day is one step along the way leading to the next international encounter of young people, scheduled for Madrid in August 2011. I hope that many of you will be there to experience this grace-filled event.
"To prepare ourselves for this celebration, I would like to offer you some reflections on this year's theme: 'Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?' (Mk 10:17). It is drawn from the Gospel passage where Jesus meets the rich young man. It is a theme that Pope John Paul II reflected on in 1985, in a very beautiful letter, the first ever addressed to young people.
" 'As [Jesus] was setting out on a journey' – the Gospel of Saint Mark tells us – 'a man ran up, knelt down before Him, and asked Him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?" Jesus answered him, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; you shall not defraud; honor your father and your mother." He replied and said to Him, "Teacher, all of these I have observed from my youth." Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him, "You are lacking in one thing. Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow Me." At that statement his face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions' (Mk 10:17-22).
"This Gospel passage shows us clearly how much Jesus was concerned with young people, with all of you, with your expectations and your hopes, and it shows how much He wants to meet you personally and to engage each of you in conversation. Christ interrupted His journey to stop and answer the young man's question. He gave His full attention to this youth who was moved with an ardent desire to speak to the 'good Teacher' and to learn from Him how to journey through life. My Predecessor used this Gospel passage to urge each of you to 'develop your own conversation with Christ – a conversation which is of fundamental and essential importance for a young person' (Letter to Young People, No. 2).
"In his Gospel account, Saint Mark emphasizes that 'Jesus, looking at him, loved him' (Mk 10:21). The Lord's gaze is at the heart of this very special encounter and the whole Christian experience. To be sure, Christianity is not primarily a moral code. It is an experience of Jesus Christ Who loves each of us personally, young and old, poor and rich. He loves us even when we turn away from Him.
"When Pope John Paul II commented on this scene, he turned to you and added: 'May you experience a look like that! May you experience the truth that He, Christ, looks upon you with love!' (Letter to Young People, No. 7). It was love, revealed on the Cross so completely and totally, that led Saint Paul to write in amazement: 'He loved me and gave Himself up for me' (Gal 2:20). Pope John Paul II wrote that 'the awareness that the Father has always loved us in His Son, that Christ always loves each of us, becomes a solid support for our whole human existence' (ibid.). It enables us to overcome all our trials: the realization of our sins, our sufferings, and our moments of discouragement.
"In this love we find the source of all Christian life and the basic reason for evangelization: if we have really encountered Jesus, we cannot help but bear witness to Him before those who have not yet met His gaze!
"If we look at the young man in the Gospel, we can see that he is much like each of you. You too are rich in talents, energy, dreams, and hopes. These are resources which you have in abundance! Your age itself is a great treasure, not only for yourselves but for others too, for the Church and for the world.
"The rich young man asks Jesus: 'What must I do?' The time of life which you are going through is one of discovery: discovery of the gifts which God has bestowed upon you and your own responsibilities. It is also a time when you are making crucial choices about how you will live your lives. So it is a time to think about the real meaning of life and to ask yourselves: 'Am I satisfied with my life? Is there something missing?'
"Like the young man in the Gospel story, perhaps you too are experiencing situations of uncertainty, anxiety, or suffering, and are yearning for something more than a life of mediocrity. It makes you ask yourselves: 'What makes a life successful? What do I need to do? How should I plan my life? 'What must I do for my life to have full value and full meaning?' (ibid., No. 3).
"Do not be afraid to ask yourselves these questions! Far from troubling you, they are giving voice to the great aspirations that you hold in your hearts. That is why you should listen to them. The answers you give to them must not be superficial, but capable of satisfying the longing you truly feel for life and happiness.
"In order to discover the life-project that will make you completely happy, listen to God. He has a loving plan for each one of you. You can confidently ask Him: 'Lord, what is Your plan, as Creator and Father, for my life? What is Your will? I want to carry it out.' You can be certain that He will answer you. Do not be afraid of His answer! 'For God is greater than our hearts and knows everything' (1 Jn 3:20).
"Jesus invites the rich young man to do much more than merely satisfy his aspirations and personal plans. He says to him: 'Come and follow Me!' The Christian vocation derives from a love-filled invitation made by the Lord, and it can be lived out only by a love-filled response: 'Jesus invites His disciples to give their lives completely, without calculation or personal interest, with unreserved trust in God. The saints accept this demanding invitation and set out with humble docility in following the crucified and risen Christ. Their perfection, in the logic of faith which is at times humanly incomprehensible, consists in no longer putting themselves at the center but in choosing to go against the tide, by living in line with the Gospel' (Benedict XVI, Homily at Canonizations, October 11, 2009).
An Act Of Consecration To The Holy Spirit
Divine Spirit of light and love, I consecrate my mind and heart and will to You for time and for eternity. May my mind be open to Your divine inspirations and to the teachings of the Church, whose infallible guide You are. May my heart be filled with love of God and of my neighbor and my will conformed to the will of God. May my whole life be a faithful imitation of the life and virtues of Christ our Lord to Whom, with the Father and You, be honor and glory forever. Amen.
- Pope St. Pius X -
"Following the example of so many of Christ's disciples, may you too, dear friends, joyfully welcome His invitation to follow Him, and so live your lives intensely and fruitfully in this world. Through Baptism, in fact, He calls each of us to follow Him concretely, to love Him above all things, and to serve Him in our brothers and sisters. The rich young man, unfortunately, did not accept Jesus' invitation and he went away saddened. He did not find the courage to leave behind his material goods in order to find the far greater good proposed by Jesus.
"The sadness experienced by the rich young man in the Gospel story is the sadness that arises in the heart of all those who lack the courage to follow Christ and to make the right choice. Yet it is never too late to respond to Him!
"Jesus never tires of turning to us with love and calling us to be His disciples; to some, however, He proposes an even more radical choice. In this Year for Priests, I would like to urge young men and boys to consider if the Lord is inviting them to a greater gift, along the path of priestly ministry. I ask them to be willing to embrace with generosity and enthusiasm this sign of a special love and to embark on the necessary path of discernment with the help of a priest or a spiritual director. Do not be afraid, then, dear young men and women, if the Lord is calling you to the religious, monastic, or missionary life, or a life of special consecration: He knows how to bestow deep joy upon those who respond to Him with courage!
"I also invite those who feel called to marriage to embrace this vocation with faith, working to lay a solid foundation for a love that is great, faithful, and receptive to the gift of life. This vocation is a treasure and grace for society and for the Church.
"What must I do to inherit eternal life?" This question which the young man in the Gospel asks may seem far from the concerns of many young people today. As my Predecessor observed, 'Are we not the generation whose horizon of existence is completely filled by the world and temporal progress? (Letter to Young People, No. 5). Yet, the question of 'eternal life' returns at certain painful moments of our lives, as when we suffer the loss of someone close to us or experience failure.
"But what is the 'eternal life' to which the rich young man is referring? Jesus describes it to us when He says to His disciples: 'But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you"'(Jn 16:22). These words point to an exciting possibility of unending happiness, to the joy of being surrounded by God's love for ever.
"Wondering about the definitive future awaiting each of us gives full meaning to our existence. It directs our life plan towards horizons that are not limited and fleeting, but broad and deep, and which motivate us to love this world which God loves so deeply, to devote ourselves to its development with the freedom and joy born of faith and hope. Against these horizons we do not see earthly reality as absolute, and we sense that God is preparing a greater future for us. In this way we can say with Saint Augustine: 'Let us long for our home on high, let us pine for our home in heaven, let us feel that we are strangers here' (Tractates on the Gospel of Saint John, Homily 35:9). His gaze fixed on eternal life, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, who died in 1925 at the age of 24, could say: 'I want to live and not simply exist!' On a photograph taken while mountain-climbing, he wrote to a friend: 'To the heights,' referring not only to Christian perfection but also to eternal life.
"Dear young friends, I urge you to keep this perspective in developing your life plan: we are called to eternity. God created us to be with Him, forever. This will help you to make meaningful decisions and live a beautiful life.
"Jesus reminded the rich young man that obedience to the Ten Commandments is necessary in order to 'inherit eternal life.' The Commandments are essential points of reference if we are to live in love, to distinguish clearly between good and evil, and to build a life plan that is solid and enduring. Jesus is asking you, too, whether you know the Commandments, whether you are trying to form your conscience according to God's law, and putting the Commandments into practice.
"Needless to say, these are questions that go against the grain in today's world, which advocates a freedom detached from values, rules, and objective norms, and which encourages people to refuse to place limits on their immediate desires. But this is not the way to true freedom. It leads people to become enslaved to themselves, to their immediate desires, to idols like power, money, unbridled pleasure, and the entrapments of the world. It stifles their inborn vocation to love.
"God gives us the Commandments because He wants to teach us true freedom. He wants to build a Kingdom of love, justice, and peace together with us. When we listen to the Commandments and put them into practice, it does not mean that we become estranged from ourselves, but that we find the way to freedom and authentic love. The Commandments do not place limits on happiness, but rather show us how to find it. At the beginning of the conversation with the rich young man, Jesus reminds him that the law which God gives is itself good, because 'God is good.'
"Being young today means having to face many problems due to unemployment and the lack of clear ideas and real possibilities for the future. At times you can have the impression of being powerless in the face of current crises and their repercussions. Despite these difficulties, do not let yourselves be discouraged, and do not give up on your dreams! Instead, cultivate all the more your heart's great desire for fellowship, justice, and peace. The future is in the hands of those who know how to seek and find sound reasons for life and hope. If you are willing, the future lies in your hands, because the talents and gifts that the Lord has placed in your hearts, shaped by an encounter with Christ, can bring real hope to the world! It is faith in His love that, by making you stronger and more generous, will give you courage to face serenely the path of life and to take on family and professional responsibilities. Try hard to build your future by paying serious attention to your personal development and your studies, so that you will be able to serve the common good competently and generously.
"In my recent Encyclical Letter on integral human development, Caritas in Veritate, I listed some of the great and urgent challenges essential for the life of our world: the use of the earth's resources and respect for ecology, the fair distribution of goods, and control of financial mechanisms, solidarity with poor countries within our human family, the fight against world hunger, greater respect for the dignity of human labor, service to the culture of life, the building of peace between peoples, interfaith dialogue, and the proper use of social communications.
"These are challenges to which you are called to respond in order to build a more just and fraternal world. They are challenges that call for a demanding and passionate life plan, in which you use all your many gifts in accordance with the plan that God has for each of you. It is not a matter of accomplishing heroic or extraordinary acts. It means allowing your talents and abilities to flourish, and trying to make constant progress in faith and love.
"In this Year for Priests, I ask you to learn about the lives of the saints, and in particular of those saints who were priests. You will see how God was their guide and how they made their way through each day in faith, in hope, and in love. Christ is calling each of you to work with Him and to take up your responsibilities in order to build the civilization of love. If you follow His Word, it will light up your path and lead you to high goals that will give joy and full meaning to your lives.
"May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, watch over and protect you. With the assurance of my prayers, and with great affection, I send my blessing to all of you."
In a meeting at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on March 24, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, representing the Vatican, called for continued international efforts to reduce extreme poverty.
Archbishop Migliore's statement follows:
"The devastating impact of the recent financial crisis on the world's most vulnerable populations has been highlighted in almost all the interventions made so far in this General Assembly because it really is a concern shared by governments and citizens all over the world. Indeed, the dark shadow of this crisis is likely to frustrate efforts made so far to help reduce poverty and only add to the skyrocketing numbers living in extreme poverty.
"At the same time, the current economic crisis has also given rise to unprecedented international political cooperation, evident in the three successive high-level G-20 meetings in Washington, London, and Pittsburgh during 2009. These meetings were able to reach agreement on emergency measures to reignite the world economy, including fiscal and monetary stimulus packages that have prevented a global catastrophe. Overall, the G-20 deliberations have received the moral support of most UN members, even recognizing the low ratio of member participation in them.
"Nevertheless, the stabilization of some economies, or the recovery of others, does not mean that the crisis is over. Moreover, there is a general perception about the lack of sound political and economic foundations needed to ensure longer-term stability and sustainability of the global economy. Indeed, the whole world economy, where countries are highly interdependent, will never be able to function smoothly if the conditions that generated the crisis persist, especially when fundamental inequalities in income and wealth among individuals and between nations continue.
"Against this background, my delegation underscores the view that we cannot wait for a definitive and permanent recovery of the global economy to take action. A significant reason is that the re-activation of the economies of the world's poorest people will surely help guarantee a universal and sustainable recovery. But the most important reason is the moral imperative: not to leave a whole generation, nearly a fifth of the world's population, in extreme poverty.
"There is now an urgent need to reform, strengthen, and modernize the whole funding system for developing countries as well as UN programs, including the specialized agencies and regional organizations, making them more efficient, transparent, and well coordinated, both internationally and locally. In the same vein, the crisis has highlighted the urgent need to proceed with the reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, whose structures and procedures must reflect the realities of today's world and no longer those of the post World War II period.
"As pointed out in the Doha Declaration, of December 2008, a reformed IMF should be able to accomplish fully its original mandate of stabilizing currency fluctuations and ought to be provided with mechanisms for preventing financial crises. The functions of the Financial Stability Forum (FSF) would acquire greater legitimacy if they were developed in close collaboration with the Fund and other relevant UN bodies, such as UNCTAD. The international community, through its appropriate bodies, such as the IMF, the FSF, and others, should be able to make proposals to improve banking regulations. It should be able to identify and define the capital requirements for banks, liquidity requirements, transparency measures, and accountability standards for the issuance and trading of securities. Equally important are the regulatory norms for the para-banking activities and control of rating companies. We would do well not to wait for consensus on all these issues but move ahead in areas where there is already broad consensus, such as uniform international accounting standards.
"On the other hand, the international community, through the World Bank and relevant multilateral agencies, should continue to give priority to the fight against poverty, particularly in LDCs. In this context, as part of the emergency measures of developed countries to address the crisis, contributions to the World Bank destined to fight extreme poverty should have highest priority. Although the financial crisis made it necessary to increase aid to middle income countries through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), the World Bank must continue to give priority to loans under the International Development Association (IDA), which assists low income countries and provides resources for food security.
"To this end, we must continue to review the distribution of voting rights in both these financial institutions so that emerging economies and developing countries, including LDCs, are duly represented. Similarly, it may be desirable to introduce, at least for key decisions, 'double majority' approval, so that decisions are made not only according to quotas but also on the basis of a numerical majority of countries.
". . . At the end of World War II, the international community was able to adopt a comprehensive system that would ensure not only peace but also avoid a repetition of global economic disruption. The institutions that emerged from the Bretton Woods Conference in July 1944 had to ensure the launching of a process of equitable economic development for all. The current global crisis offers a similar opportunity requiring a comprehensive approach, based on resources, knowledge, transfer, and on institutions. To achieve this, all nations, without exception, need to commit themselves to a renewed multilateralism.
"At the same time, the effectiveness of measures taken to overcome the current crisis should always be assessed by their ability to solve the primary problem. We should not forget that the same world that could find, within a few weeks, trillions of dollars to rescue banks and financial investment institutions, has not yet managed to find 1% of that amount for the needs of the hungry — starting with the $3 billion needed to provide meals to school children who are hungry or the $5 billion needed to support the emergency food fund of the World Food Program . . ."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
The so-called Patient Protection Act, after months of bribery ("Louisiana Purchase," "Nebraska Cornhuskers Deal," and federal funds for three airports in Rep. Stupak's district), was narrowly passed by 219 (all Democrat votes) to 216 (all Republicans and 19 Democrats).
This Act, if not reversed, and if implemented, will be a major setback for those who hold the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life. The moral imperative to protect human life was betrayed by a number of congressmen, who while claiming to be "pro-life," sold their vote for "some bag of goodies" they can bring home to their friends and to those who financially vested in their campaign and election.
Another tragedy was that the teaching authority of the Catholic Church was eroded when Catholic institutions and members of religious orders supported the passage of this major pro-abortion piece of legislation, which will require taxpayers to pay for the killing of unborn children.
The greatest tragedy is more unborn children will die by the painful death of abortion.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops strongly and publicly opposed the passage of this act, without appropriate anti-abortion language and conscience protection for pro-life health care providers. After it was signed by President Barack Obama, our most pro-abortion president, the Administrative Committee of the USCCB issued a statement condemning its passage. In part, the bishops stated as follows:
"Nevertheless, for whatever good this law achieves or intends, we as Catholic bishops have opposed its passage because there is compelling evidence that it would expand the role of the federal government in funding and facilitating abortion and plans that cover abortion. The statute appropriates billions of dollars in new funding without explicitly prohibiting the use of these funds for abortion, and it provides federal subsidies for health plans covering elective abortions.
"Stranger still, the statute forces all those who choose federally subsidized plans that cover abortion to pay for other peoples' abortions with their own funds.
"The statute is also profoundly flawed because it has failed to include necessary language to provide essential conscience protections (both within and beyond the abortion context).
"Many in Congress and the Administration, as well as individuals and groups in the Catholic community, have repeatedly insisted that there is no federal funding for abortion in this statute and that strong conscience protection has been assured. Analyses that are being published separately show this not to be the case, which is why we oppose it in its current form."
Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, more accurately describes this new law: ". . . a plan that includes funds for the direct and intentional killing of innocent human beings is much more than imperfect, it is nothing short of positively evil."
Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, warned: "In so many cases, in this legislation, individual freedom goes right down the tubes."
Last November, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi realized there were insufficient votes to pass the House version of the so-called health care reform legislation, she begrudgingly allowed Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) to introduce an amendment which Stupak claimed would prohibit federal funding of abortions. The passage of this amendment hoodwinked some into supporting the so-called Health Care Reform Act, which then passed 220 to 215.
“If we accept that a mother can kill her own child, how can we tell other people not to kill each other? . . . Abortion is the greatest destroyer of peace today.”
True uncompromising pro-life national organizations, such as American Life League, local groups, such as Northern Kentucky Right to Life Committee, Inc., and true pro-lifers, such as Charles Rice, Professor Emeritus of Notre Dame University's College of Law, warned that the Stupak Amendment did not prohibit funding of all abortions, nor did it address concerns about euthanasia, rationing of medical care, conscience clause for medical providers, and "family planning" services through government-run health care clinics.
If not for the Stupak Amendment, this law would not have passed the House last November, concluded Professor Rice.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and National Right to Life proclaimed Stupak a pro-life hero.
So often in the past, members of the legislature, who claimed they were pro-life, would always vote pro-life when their vote could not change the outcome. However, on a close vote, their vote would be found with the culture of death. In keeping with this tradition, Rep. Stupak, joined by other so-called "pro-life" Democrats, such as Congressman Steve Driehaus of Cincinnati, publicly said they could not support a bill which funded abortions. However, right before the vote, Stupak betrayed the majority of Americans opposing public funding for abortions, encouraging his fellow congressmen to join him in voting for this act.
"Pro-life" congressmen like Stupak and Driehaus proved themselves to be frauds. (A few days prior to the vote in the House, the pro-abortion "Catholic" Vice President Joe Biden was the guest speaker at a Cincinnati fundraiser for Driehaus' reelection campaign.)
An equal tragedy was support for the passage of this act from the Catholic Health Association, which is a trade organization composed of most, if not all, Catholic hospitals, and from Network, a pro-abortion lobbying group composed of Catholic nuns. Network, with the cooperation of Sr. Marlene Weisenbeck of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, published a statement that they endorsed the health care act, and falsely claimed that they represented 59,000 Catholic nuns. (The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, which has 10,000 members, issued a release supporting the U.S. bishops against the health care act.)
Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver, Colorado, declared, "The bad law we now likely face, we owe in part to the efforts of the Catholic Health Association and similar 'Catholic' organizations." Archbishop Chaput also noted that the advocacy group Network ". . . has rarely shown much enthusiasm for a definition of 'social justice' that includes the rights of the unborn child."
Bishop Morlino exposes the Catholic fraud: "And, of course, people like Speaker Pelosi could not do enough to wave the letter from the Catholic Health Association and the letter from Network to provide cover for Democratic legislators who wanted to waffle in protecting innocent human life. . . . Speaker Pelosi is not called by Jesus Christ to lead the Catholic faithful any more than the religious sisters in Network are, any more than the leadership of the Catholic Health Association is. . . . such groups made people wonder who actually has the authority to speak for Christ's Church, and made the bishops' teaching role seem like just another opinion. . . . If we go down this road, the teaching authority of the bishops will be further eroded and with it, the authority of Christ's Church."
So what will the Catholic bishops do? Will we soon hear announcements that Catholic hospitals, especially ones under the total control of the local ordinary, along with ones controlled by religious orders, have withdrawn from the pro-abortion Catholic Health Association?
Will bishops require that religious orders of women in their diocese withdraw from the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, and join the pro-life Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious, and from participating in or supporting pro-abortion Network?
Will the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops remove the Leadership Conference of Women Religious from controlling or directing the funds collected in the annual campaign to support retired religious?
When will ALL of the U.S. bishops join the few bishops, who, as directed by Pope Benedict XVI, have already denied Holy Communion to those "Catholic" officeholders, like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Vice President Joe Biden (D), and Rep. Steve Driehaus (D-OH), who keep the killing machine in place?
As Archbishop Chaput stated: "Words need actions to give them flesh."
As the battle continues, Catholics are called on not only to save the soul of our nation, but the soul of our Church.
The first speaker at this year's Answer the Call Men's Conference, Jack McKean was introduced with "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" because of his career in baseball. His message was never give up your dream. His boyhood dream was of beating the Yankees in the world series. When he didn't get into the majors as a player, he changed directions and became a manager. At 72 he became the oldest manager ever to win the world series for the 2003 Florida Marlins.
He joked that he was so old that he remembered Preparation A. He also joked that the Cincinnati Reds haven't had a winning season since he left.
More seriously he attributed his success to his prayers to St. Teresa. "God was with me," he says. "It was His plan so I could reach souls and spread His good word."
Even more so since then he meets people who tell him, "You got me going to church" or "You got me back to church."
"We have to practice our faith," he says. "It's something we have to do on a regular basis. We live in the greatest country in the world, have the freedom to practice our faith, and set a good example for others."
He told about one fellow who asked for a ride to the stadium back in the Canadian league. He told him he'd have to go with him to Mass first. That's all it took. The man converted and continues to thank McKean for introducing him to Jesus.
He ended his witness with, "I hope some day — through the power of prayer — your dreams will come true."
Brian Rooney also talked about victory. Coming from a background as a lawyer and a marine, he spoke of victory over "a diabolical enemy who hates us and wants to destroy us." He wasn't talking about terrorists or socialists, against which he's fought, but of the forces of hell.
His story is all too common, the slow process of a second conversion after having fallen away from the faith in college. Receiving Communion in Biblical lands with a diabolical enemy two blocks away moved him. So did the martyrs dying for the faith there.
Reminding the men at the conference of the two miraculous victories of Christendom in 732 and 1683, he calls our time "the last hope of Western civilization." The enemy is not just the radical Muslims either.
He also learned about the enemy first hand when he discovered "the bias to get you to terminate your child's life." His son Blase was baptized before his five surgeries in his first three months in case he didn't survive. He had many including the Dominican nuns who appeared on "Oprah," praying for him, but through it all Rooney learned, "Never be afraid to be a Catholic."
Fr. Mark Berger prayed, asking the Lord what to say and got two strange visions, the bishop sawing a man in half lengthwise and snakes laughing. Only just before coming out to speak did he learn their meaning. The first meant "There is no divided life. It's either all or not at all." The second meant "Shed what's dead."
Jim Gruden was similarly guided by promptings of the Holy Spirit, beginning with one Lent when he began visiting church during lunch. "By the time Lent was over," he says, "an hour was not enough."
He was prompted in adoration to change jobs and within two years his old company not only had been sold, but had been torn down. He was also prompted to become a lay pastoral minister and to donate a kidney to a stranger. His wife wasn't so convinced until the Lord communicated to her through a bumper sticker that said, "Don't take your organs to heaven. We need them here." He introduced the kidney recipient who was no longer a stranger.
"If you think the enemy works against one marriage or one priest," he challenged the men, "think about how much he hates the Eucharist."
"Become a DAD," Gruden said. "Someone who Discerns, Accepts, and Does the will of God," adding that if God can work with an engineer who plays the accordion, there's hope for everyone.
The Most Rev. Roger J. Foys also shared a moving story about the necessity to practice the faith always. A convert in his former parish chose to cut off from his whole family rather than lose the precious gift he found in the Catholic Church. Within two years the rest of the family joined him because of his witness.
As Gruden summed up the seemingly impossible challenges the Church faces, "Nothing — absolutely NOTHING, is impossible with God!"
(Editor's note: The following press release was provided by Trocaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland.)
The fact that the world's rich countries have given nine times more to bail out banks in the last year-and-a-half than they have spent on overseas aid in the last 50 years is a damning indictment of our priorities, aid agency Trócaire said today.
God has no need of your money, but the poor have. You give it to the poor, and God receives it.
According to the UN's Millennium Development Campaign rich countries have given $2 trillion in overseas aid to developing countries in the past 50 years, secured through decades of international conferences, summits, treaties, popular public campaigns, and emergency responses to devastation like war, genocides, and natural disasters.
In contrast, in the last eighteen months, world leaders have found $18 trillion to bail out banks and financial institutions with speed, decisiveness, and clarity.
Due to their limited exposure to financial markets the poorest countries were least affected by the first wave of the global economic crisis. But subsequent waves are hitting much harder. There are now very worrying signs that the poorest countries could experience a series of social and economic reversals that could be catastrophic. For example, the World Bank recently estimated that child deaths in Africa could grow by 700,000 a year; an increase of 30% on current levels. And globally, 200 million have been added to the ranks of the 1.3 billion people living on less than $2 a day since 2008.
"Whether it was right to bail out the banks is not the issue. But given the amount raised to bail out the banks compared to that spent on aid over the last half century, it's clearly a question of commitment rather than whether the money is available," Trócaire Director Justin Kilcullen said. "For the first time in history over one billion people are now going hungry. That's one in six people on the planet."
He continued: "The poorest countries in the world, known as least developed countries, or LDCs, are characterized by their limited capacity to raise revenue from a domestic tax base. They rely heavily on four sources of finance: aid, trade, foreign capital flows, and remittances. Each of these has suffered serious decline over the past two years, but particularly aid."
Global aid levels reached a record high in 2009 of $120 billion. Almost all rich countries set timetables for achieving the UN target of 0.7 per cent of national income going to overseas aid. Until the crisis hit, many countries, including Ireland, were well on the way to reaching these targets. But since the crisis hit the figures haven fallen drastically: the OECD estimates a $21 billion gap between what donors promised in 2005 and what they will deliver in 2010.
"There is a growing temptation, faced with our own mounting problems, to see aid as a luxury in which we indulge when times are good," Mr. Kilcullen said. "And indeed, since the recession took hold, the Irish Government has cut our aid budget by 24 per cent."
World governments will now meet at the UN in New York this September to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals, the set of eight development-related goals they ratified at the turn of the century that are to be delivered by 2015.
Mr. Kilcullen concluded: "Ireland will be present at that meeting to set out our ongoing commitment to these goals and to discuss how they can be achieved. As a nation we must honor our commitments and demonstrate that we have the political will necessary to deliver. With only five years to go, it is the world's poorest people who desperately need a bail-out."
The 44th World Communications Day will be Sunday, May 16. Each year, the Holy Father issues a message for this day on January 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of the Catholic press. This year's message follows:
"The theme of this year's World Communications Day - The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word – is meant to coincide with the Church's celebration of the Year for Priests. It focuses attention on the important and sensitive pastoral area of digital communications, in which priests can discover new possibilities for carrying out their ministry to and for the Word of God. Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level. Yet the recent, explosive growth and greater social impact of these media make them all the more important for a fruitful priestly ministry.
"All priests have as their primary duty the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Word of God, and the communication of His saving grace in the sacraments. Gathered and called by the Word, the Church is the sign and instrument of the communion that God creates with all people, and every priest is called to build up this communion, in Christ and with Christ. Such is the lofty dignity and beauty of the mission of the priest, which responds in a special way to the challenge raised by the Apostle Paul: 'The Scripture says, "No one who believes in Him will be put to shame . . . everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." But how can they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? And how can they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can people preach unless they are sent? (Rom 10:11, 13-15).
"Responding adequately to this challenge amid today's cultural shifts, to which young people are especially sensitive, necessarily involves using new communications technologies. The world of digital communication, with its almost limitless expressive capacity, makes us appreciate all the more Saint Paul's exclamation: 'Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel' (1 Cor 9:16). The increased availability of the new technologies demands greater responsibility on the part of those called to proclaim the Word, but it also requires them to become become more focused, efficient, and compelling in their efforts. Priests stand at the threshold of a new era: as new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances, they are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.
"The spread of multimedia communications and its rich 'menu of options' might make us think it sufficient simply to be present on the Web, or to see it only as a space to be filled. Yet priests can rightly be expected to be present in the world of digital communications as faithful witnesses to the Gospel, exercising their proper role as leaders of communities which increasingly express themselves with the different 'voices' provided by the digital marketplace. Priests are thus challenged to proclaim the Gospel by employing the latest generation of audiovisual resources (images, videos, animated features, blogs, websites) which, alongside traditional means, can open up broad new vistas for dialogue, evangelization, and catechesis.
"Using new communication technologies, priests can introduce people to the life of the Church and help our contemporaries to discover the face of Christ. They will best achieve this aim if they learn, from the time of their formation, how to use these technologies in a competent and appropriate way, shaped by sound theological insights and reflecting a strong priestly spirituality grounded in constant dialogue with the Lord. Yet priests present in the world of digital communications should be less notable for their media savvy than for their priestly heart, their closeness to Christ. This will not only enliven their pastoral outreach, but also will give a 'soul' to the fabric of communications that makes up the 'Web.'
"God's loving care for all people in Christ must be expressed in the digital world not simply as an artifact from the past, or a learned theory, but as something concrete, present and engaging. Our pastoral presence in that world must thus serve to show our contemporaries, especially the many people in our day who experience uncertainty and confusion, 'that God is near; that in Christ we all belong to one another' (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, December 21, 2009).
"Who better than a priest, as a man of God, can develop and put into practice, by his competence in current digital technology, a pastoral outreach capable of making God concretely present in today's world and presenting the religious wisdom of the past as a treasure which can inspire our efforts to live in the present with dignity while building a better future? Consecrated men and women working in the media have a special responsibility for opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence, to grow in expectation and hope, and to draw near to the Word of God which offers salvation and fosters an integral human development. In this way the Word can traverse the many crossroads created by the intersection of all the different 'highways' that form 'cyberspace,' and show that God has His rightful place in every age, including our own. Thanks to the new communications media, the Lord can walk the streets of our cities and, stopping before the threshold of our homes and our hearts, say once more: 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with Me' (Rev 3:20).
"In my Message last year, I encouraged leaders in the world of communications to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the human person. This is one of the ways in which the Church is called to exercise a 'diaconia of culture' on today's 'digital continent.' With the Gospels in our hands and in our hearts, we must reaffirm the need to continue preparing ways that lead to the Word of God, while being at the same time constantly attentive to those who continue to seek; indeed, we should encourage their seeking as a first step of evangelization. A pastoral presence in the world of digital communications, precisely because it brings us into contact with the followers of other religions, non-believers, and people of every culture, requires sensitivity to those who do not believe, the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute. Just as the prophet Isaiah envisioned a house of prayer for all peoples (cf. Is 56:7), can we not see the web as also offering a space – like the 'Court of the Gentiles' of the Temple of Jerusalem – for those who have not yet come to know God?
"The development of the new technologies and the larger digital world represents a great resource for humanity as a whole and for every individual, and it can act as a stimulus to encounter and dialogue. But this development likewise represents a great opportunity for believers. No door can or should be closed to those who, in the name of the risen Christ, are committed to drawing near to others. To priests in particular the new media offer ever new and far-reaching pastoral possibilities, encouraging them to embody the universality of the Church's mission, to build a vast and real fellowship, and to testify in today's world to the new life which comes from hearing the Gospel of Jesus, the eternal Son Who came among us for our salvation. At the same time, priests must always bear in mind that the ultimate fruitfulness of their ministry comes from Christ Himself, encountered and listened to in prayer; proclaimed in preaching and lived witness; and known, loved, and celebrated in the sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation.
"To my dear brother priests, then, I renew the invitation to make astute use of the unique possibilities offered by modern communications. May the Lord make all of you enthusiastic heralds of the Gospel in the new 'agorŕ' which the current media are opening up.
"With this confidence, I invoke upon you the protection of the Mother of God and of the Holy Curč of Ars and, with affection, I impart to each of you my Apostolic Blessing."
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com