Friday, November 30, 2007

The Rosary

The Rosary is one of the most beloved prayers of Catholicism. In this videoclip, pilgrims to Medjugorje, a popular site for Marian apparitions, pray the Rosary.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Mary is the Mother of the Catholic Church. She gave her consent in faith at the Annunciation (when the Angel Gabriel came and told her she was with child) and maintained it without hesitation at the foot of the Cross. Ever since, her motherhoodher motherhood has extended to the brothers and sisters of her Son "who still journey on earth surrounded by dangers and difficulties." Jesus, the only mediator, is the way of our prayer. Mary, his mother and ours, shows us the way to her son. We become closer to both Jesus and Mary by praying the Rosary.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rediscovering Catholicism

An excerpt from the book "Rediscovering Catholicism" by Matthew Kelly, known for his writings designed to inspire young adults everywhere, regardless of their religion. "Rediscovering Catholicism" is a book that all Catholics should read, in particular young adults.

The World Needs the Church

"As I have already said, it seems the only acceptable prejudice in this hyper-sensitive, politically correct, modern climate, is to be anti-Catholic. This prejudice is growing and growing, as it is subtly nurtured by the arts and the media, and furthered by the way prevailing philosophies undermine Catholicism.

In the midst of the obviously anti-Catholic environment that our culture has created, it is easy to overlook some fundamental and practical realities. The world needs the Church today more than ever before. In a modern schema where people are becoming more self-absorbed and completely fixated on the fulfillment of their own desires, the Church is only going to be needed more and more.
The Catholic Church feeds more people, clothes more people, houses more people, and educates more people than any other organization in the world. And when the modern media and the secular culture have finished tearing down the Church as best they can, let me ask you, who then will take our place? Who will feed the hungry? Who will clothe the naked? Who will visit the lonely and imprisoned? Who will house the homeless? Who will comfort the sick and dying? Who will educate the masses?
The world needs the Church. Even your hardened and cynical politicians with nothing in mind but personal gain recognize this reality with alarming clarity. If for no other reason than from an economic standpoint, they know they couldn't pick up the broken pieces that would be left if the Church disappeared from their community.
The Church may be massively unappreciated and woefully persecuted, but we must press on all the same. After all, that is always the way it has been. Jesus didn't promise an easy way. He promised that we would be ridiculed, persecuted, and unappreciated as he himself was, but that we would nonetheless experience joy and fullness of life.
We should not try to forget that when Jesus was on the cross, he didn't turn to the man next to him and say, "You did the crime, now pay the price." No, he offered him a better life. That is the responsibility that now falls to our shoulders as followers of Jesus. The mission of the Church is to offer people a better life.
They key word of all of this is "offer". The Church doesn't force people to do things. The Church is a lover who comes to propose to the beloved. The Church proposes to you a certain course of action for certain situations. The Church proposes to you and me a certain way of life. And each of us, like the beloved who is proposed to, must accept the proposal or turn down the proposal. But, whatever our decision, we must live with that decision forever."

From "Rediscovering Catholicism" by Matthew Kelly, pages 309-311

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Online Eucharistic Adoration

As Catholics, we believe that Christ is truly present in the Eucharist. Eucharistic Adoration gives us the opportunity to spend some quiet time with Christ, either in prayer, silent meditation, or even a personal conversation with Him.

At, Catholics do not need to wait for Adoration at their respective parishes. They can simply visit the website and adore Christ whenever they choose.

To me, this is like having a conversation with a friend via webcam. It is still the same person, just a different experience of that person. Obviously, it would be preferable to physically attend adoration but some Churches don't even hold adoration on a weekly basis. The online adoration gives people the opportunity to remember Christ at all times in their lives: at work, at home, at a webcafe... anywhere... after all, isn't Christ with us wherever we go anyway?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Modern Young Adult Saint

Recently, I had the pleasure of visiting the National Shrine of Saint Gianna Beretta Molla in Warminster, Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

I first became acquainted with St. Gianna by accident one day while shopping at the Guild, the Diocese of Scranton's store for Catholic goods and books. While looking for a prayer card, I saw a picture of a young woman holding a baby. The prayer card just gave a simple prayer to her, nothing more. There was no explanation as to who she was or what she was doing with the children.

Out of curiosity, I purchased the prayer card, brought it home, and immediately did a websearch on St. Gianna. Tears came to my eyes when I realized who she was and why she was declared a saint.

Gianna Beretta Molla was born on October 4, 1922 in Magenta (near Milan), Italy. She was a very devout Catholic, having undertaken a course in spiritual exercises at age 15 and even making a pilgramage to Loudes in her early thirties to ask the Blessed Virgin Mary if she should marry or become a Catholic missionary to Brazil, like her older brother.

Gianna married Pietro Molla in 1955 and they had three children. She is usually seen pictured with her daughter, Maria Zita (nicknamed Mariolina), who died at age 6 a few years after Gianna's death.

In September 1961, Gianna was two months pregnant when doctors discovered a large uterine tumor. A physician herself, Gianna knew that the only way to save her life would be to remove her uterus, which would kill the unborn child in her woumb. Gianna chose to have the tumor removed surgically and continue the pregnancy.

A few days before the baby was born, the doctors tried to convince her to have an abortion so she would live. Gianna told Pietro, "If you must decide between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child. I insist on it. Save the baby."

Baby Gianna Emanuela Molla was born a few days later. Gianna herself then began to experience severe uterine pain. Despite all efforts to save her life, Gianna Beretta Molla died on April 28, 1962, which is now celebrated as her feast day. Her last words were "Jesus, I love you! Jesus, I love you!"

Baby Gianna Emanuela, now grown, is a doctor herself. Gianna Beretta Molla was the last saint cannonized by Pope John Paul II in 2004.

St. Gianna is considered the "Pro-Life" Saint, which is absolutely appropriate since she refused an abortion. However, I offer this for your consideration: St. Gianna can also be a saint for young adults. She became involved in her Catholic faith at a young age. During her twenties and early thirties she was so involved with her faith that she wanted to give up the life she knew in Italy to minister to the poor in Brazil. As a young mother, she put her children's needs above her own, resulting in the loss of her life at age 39. St. Gianna is an example for all modern Catholic young adults, especially young Catholic women who want a career and a family.

Prayer to St. Gianna Beretta Molla:
Lord of life, we thank You for the heroic witness of St. Gianna Beretta Molla. You have taught us that there is no greater love than to lay down one's life for others. St. Gianna did this, not only as she gave birth to her last child, but also in her everyday life as she died to herself so that she could live wholly for You. What selflessness we see in her! Help us, we pray, that through the intercession of St. Gianna, our society may regain a sense of the sacredness of all human life. Fill us with her spirit of courage to suffer any struggle rather than deny You and the sanctity of human life. We ask You this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.

Monday, November 26, 2007

An Excerpt from "Letters To A Young Catholic"

George Weigel is, perhaps, best known in Catholic circles for his book, A Witness To Hope: A Biography of Pope John Paul II. Although Pope John Paul II is considered the "Pope of the Young" because of his love for young people, tonight I'd like to talk about another one of Weigel's books.
Letters To A Young Catholic is a book that every Catholic, regardless of age, should read. The title was clearly taken from Ranier Maria Rilke's "Letters To A Young Poet", written at the beginning of the 20th century in response to one of his fans who wrote to him asking about the lifestyle of a poet. In that same vein, Weigel's book discusses the Catholic lifestyle. While Rilke wrote his letters in poetic verse, Weigel writes in a more journalistic tone, fitting since he has a syndicated newspaper column, "The Catholic Difference".
Weigel takes his readers on a journey through the Catholic world, starting with American Catholic writer Flannery O'Connor's Georgia home and travelling all over the world until ending in Krakow, Poland-- the home of Pope John Paul II.
Here is one of my favorite excerpts from "Letters To A Young Catholic" about the Catholic worldview that I hope you enjoy!

"'If you live today, you breathe in nihilism... it's the gas you breathe,' wrote Flannery O'Connor; 'if I hadn't had the Church to fight it with or to tell me the necessity of fighting it, I would be the stinkingest locical positivist you ever say right now.' So, I expect, would I. So, perhaps, would you. So here's one more way to think about Catholicism and its distinctive optic on the world and on us: Catholicism is an antidote to nihilism. And by 'nihilism', I mean, not the sour dark, often violent nihilism of Neitzsche and Sartre, but what my friend, the late Father Ernest Fortin (who borrowed the term from his friend, Alan Bloom), used to call 'debonair nihilism': the nihilism that enjoys itself on its way to oblivion, convinced that all of this-- the world, us, relationships, sex, beauty, history-- is really just a cosmic joke. Against the nihilist claim that nothing is really of consequence, Catholicism insists that everything is of consequence, because everything has been redeemed by Christ.
And, if you believe that, it changes the way you see things. It changes the way everything looks. Here is Flannery O'Connor again, refelecting on the Catholic difference in her own artistic and spiritual life, and that of fellow author Caroline Gordon Tate:
I feel that if I were not a Catholic, I would have no reason to write, no reason to see, no reason ever to feel horrified or even to enjoy anything. I am a born Catholic, went to Catholic schools in my early years, and have never left or wanted to leave the Church. I have never had the sense that being a Catholic is a limit to the freedom of the writer, but just the reverse. Mrs. Tate told me that after she became a Catholic, she felt she could use her eyes and accept what she saw for the first time, she didn't have to make a new universe for each book but could take the one she found.

To be sure, Catholicism wants to change the world, primarily by converting it. At the same time, Catholicism takes the world as it is-- Catholicism tries to convert this world, not some other world or some other humanity of our imagining-- because God took the world as it is. God didn't create a different world to redeem; God, in the person of His Son, redeemed the world he had created, which is a world of freedom in which our decisions have real consequences, for good and for evil."

From "Letters To A Young Catholic" by George Weigel, pages 13-14.