Friday, November 1, 2013

Saints for the Year of Faith

Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Born on May 8, 1895 in El Paso, Illinois, Fulton John Sheen was raised and educated in the Catholic faith. At the age of 24 he was ordained a priest at St. Paul's Seminary in Minnesota. Following his ordination, Sheen earned a doctorate in Philosophy from the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium in 1923. That same year, he received the Cardinal Mercier Prize for International Philosophy, the first American to ever earn this distinction. Sheen preached in Peoria, Illinois at St. Patrick's Parish and taught theology and philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

Starting in 1930, Bishop Fulton Sheen began and hosted a weekly Sunday night radio broadcast called The Catholic Hour. This broadcast captured many devoted listeners, reportedly drawing an audience of four million people weekly for two decades until Bishop Sheen was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of New York in 1951. In 1952 he won an Emmy Award for "Most Outstanding Television Personality." Fulton Sheen credited the Gospel writers - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - for their valuable contribution to his success.

On September 26, 1966, he was appointed bishop of Rochester, New York. During this time, Bishop Sheen hosted another television series, The Fulton Sheen Program, running from 1961 to 1968. After nearly three years as Bishop of Rochester, Fulton Sheen resigned and was appointed the Archbishop of Titular See of Newport Wales by Pope Paul VI. This new appointment allowed Sheen the flexibility to continue preaching.

In 1979 Fulton John Sheen received his greatest accolade when Pope John Paul II embraced him at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City. The Holy Father said to him, "You have written and spoken well of the Lord Jesus. You are a loyal son of the Church." With that last acknowledgment, Fulton Sheen passed into eternal life just two months later on December 9, 1979. His contributions to the Catholic Church are numerous by educating in classrooms, churches, and homes, with a radio show, two television programs, and over 50 written works. Bishop Fulton J. Sheen had a gift for communicating the Word of God in the most pure, simple way. His timeless messages continue to have great relevance today. He inspires each of us to live a God-centered life with the joy and love that God intended.

On September 14, 2002, the Congregation for the Causes of Saints officially opened the Cause of Archbishop Sheen and granted him the title "Servant of God." An effort is underway to have the Archbishop canonized.

Prayer for the Intercession of Archbishop Sheen

Eternal Father, You alone
grant us every blessing in Heaven and on earth,
through the redemptive mission of Your Divine Son, Jesus Christ,
by the working of the Holy Spirit.

In every age, You raise up men and women outstanding in holiness,
whose faithful service has contributed significantly
to the mission of the Church.
In this very way, You used the life and work of Your servant,
Archbishop Fulton John Sheen.

He inspired great numbers of Catholics
and other people of good will to grow in virtue,
to lead lives pleasing to You
and to be of service to their brothers and sisters in need.

He encouraged them to embrace the 'Gospel of Life'
by recognizing that in all its circumstances,
'Life is worth living.'

If it be according to Your Will, Eternal Father,
glorify Your servant, Archbishop Fulton John Sheen,
by granting the favor I now request
through his prayerful intercession
(mention your request here).

I make this prayer confidently in Jesus' Name,
through the merits of His Passion,
Death and Resurrection.

SOURCE: Prayer courtesy of Father Andrew Apostoli, C.F.R.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Saints for the Year of Faith

Pierre Toussaint

Pierre Toussaint came to New York from Haiti in 1787. He was enlisted as an apprentice to one of the city's leading hairdressers. He had a talent for the complicated art of coiffure. The hairstyles of that day were elaborate and hairdresser's fees were quiet substantial. It was not unusual for a lady of fashion to spend over a thousand dollars yearly on the care of her hair. With his skill, courteous and cheerful manner and quiet wit, it was not long before Toussaint had many clients.

Black and white people in need of money to survive, to purchase freedom from slavery, all found a generous and openhearted friend in Pierre Toussaint. He not only provided money, but manifested genuine care and concern for the afflicted.

Pierre Toussaint purchased Juliet Noel's freedom when she was only fifteen years old. Later, as his wife, she shared in his secret and generous charity. Their home was a shelter for orphans, a credit bureau, an employment agency and refuge for priest and poverty stricken travelers.

Proud to be Black, Toussaint generously assisted his black brothers and sisters zealously to support the Oblate Sisters of Providence, a religious Orders of Black ladies established in Baltimore. Pierre Toussaint was also a benefactor of the First New York City Catholic school for Black children at St. Vincent de Paul on Canal Street.

In his later years, Toussaint still worked to help others. One of his clients advised him, "Toussaint, you are the richest man I know, why not stop working?" He replied, The I should not have enough to help others, madam." Two years later after his wife's death, Pierre Toussaint died on June 30, 1853, at the age of eighty-seven. He was buried along side his wife and daughter, Euphemia in Old St. Patrick's cemetery on Mott Street.

In 2000, the Archdiocese of New York presented the Vatican with materials in support of Pierre Toussaint's cause for beatification.

Prayer to Venerable Pierre Toussaint

O virtuous Pierre Toussaint, son of Haiti,
pray for all the poor and afflicted.
Pray especially for your brothers and sisters in Haiti,
as they seek freedom from the opperssion
of poverty and calamity.
Through your prayerful intervention,
strengthen the week, enrich the poor,
comfort the downcast and inspire courage and hope
among all those who struggle each day.

SOURCE: USCCB and Catholic Prayer Cards.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Saints for the Year of Faith

Blessed Junipero Serra

Miguel Jose Serra was born in Majorca on November 24, 1713. He joined the Franciscan Order at the age of 16, whereupon he took the name Junípero. Fr. Serra soon gained prominence as an eloquent preacher. He became a professor of theology and was frequently invited to visit the larger towns of his native land in this capacity. But his dream was to become a missionary to America. At the age of 36, he arrived in Mexico City in 1749 to begin this new life.

In 1769 he established a mission at the present site of San Diego, California, the first of a number that would include San Antonio, San Buenaventura, San Carlos, San Francisco, San Gabriel, San Juan Capistrano, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Clara. This was a herculean task considering that Father Serra was already in his fifties and suffered from a chronic ulcerated condition in one leg.

Serra was ascetic and uncompromising in his zeal to convert the Indians to Christianity and to make his missions self sufficient. Inhabitants built their own homes, spun wool for garments, and pursued careers as masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, and millers; thousands of barrels of grain were kept in reserve supply, and herds of cattle, sheep, horses, and swine were maintained.

The ulcerated condition of Serra's leg eventually spread to his chest. At the age of 71, the beloved preacher made final visits to his missions. He died in Monterey, California, on August 28, 1784. Father Junípero Serra confirmed more than 5,300 in the New World. Those who knew him remembered his zeal for God, his self denial, and the absolute love and trust he had for God. He was a popular preacher and after learning the language of the Pame Indians of Mexico, Junípero translated the catechism for them. He is buried under the sanctuary floor at Mission San Carolos Borromeo del Carmel in Carmel, California.For his contributions, he is recognized as one of the most important Spanish missionaries in the New World.

Prayer to Blessed Junipero Serra

O God, in your ineffable mercy,
you chose Blessed Junipero Serra as a means of gathering
many peoples of the Americas into your Church. 

Grant that through his intercession
our hearts may be united to you in ever greater love
so that at all times and in all places
we may show forth the image of your Only-Begotten Son
our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you
 in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Saints for the Year of Faith

Francis Xavier Seelos, C.Ss.R

Francis Xavier Seelos was born on January 11, 1819 in Fussen, Bavaria, Germany. Soon after meeting the missionaries of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer (Redemptorists), founded for the evangelization of the most abandoned, he decided to enter the Congregation and to minister to the German speaking immigrants in the United States. He was accepted by the Congregation on November 22, 1842, and sailed the following year from Le Havre, France arriving in New York on April 20, 1843. On December 22, 1844, after having completed his novitiate and theological studies, Seelos was ordained a priest in the Redemptorist Church of St. James in Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A.

Thereafter, he worked for nine years in the parish of St. Philomena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, first as assistant pastor with St. John Neumann, the superior of the Religious Community, and later as Superior himself and for the last three years as pastor. During this time, he was also the Redemptorist Novice Master. With Neumann he also dedicated himself to preaching missions. Regarding their relationship, Seelos said: “He has introduced me to the active life” and, “he has guided me as a spiritual director and confessor.”

His availability and innate kindness in understanding and responding to the needs of the faithful, quickly made him well known as an expert confessor and spiritual director, so much so that people came to him even from neighboring towns. Faithful to the Redemptorist charism, he practiced a simple lifestyle and a simple manner of expressing himself. The themes of his preaching, rich in biblical content, were always heard and understood even by everyone, regardless of education, culture, or background.

A constant endeavor in this pastoral activity was instructing the little children in the faith. He not only favored this ministry, he held it as fundamental for the growth of the Christian community in the parish.

In 1854, he was transferred from Pittsburgh, to Baltimore, then Cumberland in 1857, and to Annapolis (1862), all the while engaged in parish ministry and serving in the formation of future Redemptorists as Prefect of Students. Even in this post, he was true to his character remaining always the kind and happy pastor, prudently attentive to the needs of his students and conscientious of their doctrinal formation. Above all, he strove to instill in these future Redemptorist missionaries the enthusiasm, the spirit of sacrifice and apostolic zeal for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the people.

In 1860 he was proposed as a candidate for the office of Bishop of Pittsburgh. Having been excused from this responsibility by Pope Pius IX, from 1863 until 1866 he dedicated himself to the life of an itinerant missionary preaching in English and German in the states of Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Wisconsin.

After a brief period of parish ministry in Detroit, Michigan, he was assigned in 1866 to the Redemptorist community in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here also, as pastor of the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, he was known as a pastor who was joyously available to his faithful and singularly concerned for the poorest and the most abandoned.

In God’s plan, however, his ministry in New Orleans was destined to be brief. In the month of September, exhausted from visiting and caring for the victims of yellow fever, he contracted the dreaded disease. After several weeks of patiently enduring his illness, he passed on to eternal life on October 4, 1867, at the age of 48 years and 9 months.

Pope John Paul II, proclaimed Father Seelos Blessed in St. Peter's Square on April 9th of the Solemn Jubilee Year 2000. His Feast Day is October 5th.

Prayer in Honor of Blessed Seelos

O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer,
let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in Your sight.

I offer praise to You for the grace You have bestowed
on Your humble missionary, Father Francis Xavier Seelos.

May I have the same joyful vigor
that Father Seelos possessed during his earthly life
to love You deeply and live faithfully Your gospel.


SOURCE: Prayer composed by Byron Miller, C.Ss.R.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Saints for the Year of Faith

Kateri Tekakwitha

Kateri was born near the town of Auriesville, New York, in the year 1656, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior. She was four years old when her mother died of smallpox. The disease also attacked Kateri and transfigured her face. She was adopted by her two aunts and an uncle.

Kateri converted to Christianity as a teenager. She was baptized at the age of twenty and incurred the great hostility of her tribe. Although she had to suffer greatly for her Faith, she remained firm in it. Kateri went to the new Christian colony of Indians in Canada. Here she lived a life dedicated to prayer, penitential practices, and care for the sick and aged.

Every morning, even in bitterest winter, she stood before the chapel door until it opened at four and remained there until after the last Mass. She was devoted to the Eucharist and to Jesus Crucified. She died on April 17, 1680 at the age of twenty-four. She is known as the "Lily of the Mohawks".

Devotion to Kateri is responsible for establishing Native American ministries in Catholic Churches all over the United States and Canada. Kateri was declared venerable by the Catholic Church in 1943 and she was Beatified in 1980 by Pope John Paul II and Canonized in 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI.

Hundreds of thousands have visited shrines to Kateri erected at both St. Francis Xavier and Caughnawaga and at her birth place at Auriesville, New York. The National Shrine of Saint Tekakwitha is located in Fonda, New York. It was there that she was baptized on Easter Sunday April 5, 1676, and lived her teenage years. 
St. Kateri Teckakwitha is the first Native American to be declared a Saint. Her feast day is July 14. She is the patroness of the environment and ecology as is St. Francis of Assisi.

Prayer to St. Tekakwitha

Lord God, You called the virgin Kateri Tekakwitha,
to shine among the American Indian people
as an example of innocence of life.

Through her intercession,
may all peoples of every tribe, tongue and nation,
having been gathered into Your Church,
proclaim your greatness in one song of praise.

We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.


SOURCE:  Prayer from the Collect of the Mass in honor of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha from the Roman Missal.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fortnight for Freedom


The Fortnight for Freedom, which we celebrated for the first time last year, takes place from June 21—the vigil of the Feasts of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More—to July 4, Independence Day. Last year, there was a great diversity of events promoting religious freedom across the country.

In 2013, we face many challenges to religious liberty, including the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate; Supreme Court rulings that redefine marriage, causing serious religious liberty issues for Catholic adoption agencies and many others; and religious liberty concerns in other areas, such as immigration and humanitarian services.

During the Fortnight, our liturgical calendar celebrates a series of great martyrs who remained faithful in the face of persecution by political power—St. John the Baptist, SS. Peter and Paul, the First Martyrs of the Church of Rome, St. John Fisher, and St. Thomas More. Through prayer, study, and peaceful public action during the Fortnight for Freedom, we hope to remind ourselves and others all throughout the United States about the importance of preserving the fundamental right of religious freedom.

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty

O God our Creator,
from your provident hand we have received our right
to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
You have called us as your people
and given us the right and the duty to worship you,
the only true God, and your Son, Jesus Christ.
Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome —
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us —
this great land will always be "one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

SOURCE: USCCB website.

Monday, June 3, 2013

50th Anniversary of Pope John XXIII

Vatican City, 3 June 2013 (VIS) – On 3 June 1963, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, popularly referred to as 'the Good Pope', died after a five-year long pontificate that left its mark on the Church with historic reforms.

His might have seemed destined to be a transitional pontificate, but the Good Pope John, elected after three days in conclave, “knew how to rejuvenate the Church and resume dialogue with the modern world in loving trust,” according to the words of John Paul II, who declared him a Blessed in September of 2000.

Although John XXIII was not able to see much of the fruit of the changes he had proposed, they profoundly transformed the Catholic Church of the time. He was a pope who fought for peace in the world, as his 1963 encyclical Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) demonstrated. He revolutionized the Church by convening the Second Vatican Council to modernize and develop the institution of the Church and reformed the Mass, which came to be celebrated in local languages rather than in Latin.

The five years of his pontificate did not pass unnoticed and, even a half century later, as he said himself at the time, it continues to “throw open the doors and windows of the Church.”

The Crypt of Pope John XXIII in St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Saints for the Year of Faith

Marianne Cope. OSF

Barbara Koob – now officially spelled “Cope” – was born on January 23, 1838 in West Germany. She was one of 10 children born to Peter Koob, a farmer, and Barbara Witzenbacher Koob. The year after Barbara's birth, the family moved to the United States. The Koob family found a home in Utica, in the State of New York, where they became members of St Joseph's Parish and where the children attended the parish school.

Although Barbara felt called to Religious life at an early age, her vocation was delayed for nine years because of family obligations. As the oldest child at home, she went to work in a factory after completing eighth grade in order to support her family when her father became ill. Finally, in the summer of 1862 at age 24, Barbara entered the Sisters of St Francis in Syracuse, N.Y. On November 19, 1862 she received the religious habit and the name "Sr. Marianne", and the following year she made her religious profession and began serving as a teacher and principal in several elementary schools in New York State.

She joined the Order in Syracuse with the intention of teaching, but her life soon became a series of administrative appointments. As a member of the governing boards of her religious community in the 1860s, she participated in the establishment of two of the first hospitals in the central New York area. In 1870, she began a new ministry as a nurse-administrator at St Joseph's in Syracuse, N.Y., where she served as head administrator for six years. During this time she put her gifts of intelligence and people skills to good use as a facilitator, demonstrating the energy of a woman motivated by God alone.

Although Mother Marianne was often criticized for accepting for treatment "outcast" patients such as alcoholics, she became well-known and loved in the central New York area for her kindness, wisdom and down-to-earth practicality.

In 1883, Mother Marianne, now the Provincial Mother in Syracuse, received a letter from a Catholic priest asking for help in managing hospitals and schools in the Hawaiian Islands and to work with leprosy patients. The letter touched Mother Marianne's heart and she enthusiastically responded: “I am hungry for the work and I wish with all my heart to be one of the chosen ones, whose privilege it will be to sacrifice themselves for the salvation of the souls of the poor Islanders.... I am not afraid of any disease, hence, it would be my greatest delight even to minister to the abandoned lepers.” She and six other Sisters of St. Francis arrived in Honolulu in November 1883. With Mother Marianne as supervisor, their main task was to manage the Kaka'ako Branch Hospital on Oahu, which served as a receiving station for patients with Hansen's disease gathered from all over the islands.

The Sisters quickly set to work cleaning the hospital and tending to its 200 patients. By 1885, they had made major improvements to the living conditions and treatment of the patients. In November of that year, they also founded the Kapi'olani Home inside the hospital compound, established to care for the healthy daughters of Hansen's disease patients at Kaka'ako and Kalawao. The unusual decision to open a home for healthy children on leprosy hospital premises was made because only the Sisters would care for those so closely related to people with the dreaded disease.

Mother Marianne met Fr Damien de Veuster, known as the "Apostle to Lepers," for the first time in January of 1884, when he was in apparent good health. Two years later, in 1886, after he had been diagnosed with Hansen's disease, Mother Marianne alone gave hospitality to the outcast priest upon hearing that his illness made him an unwelcome visitor to church and government leaders in Honolulu. In 1887, when a new Government took charge in Hawaii, its officials decided to close the Oahu Hospital and receiving station and to reinforce its former alienation policy.

In 1888, Mother Marianne again responded to an unmet need and a plea for help and said: “We will cheerfully accept the work.” She arrived in Kalaupapa several months before Fr. Damien's death together with Sr. Leopoldina Burns and Sr. Vincentia McCormick, and was able to console the ailing priest by assuring him that she would provide care for the patients at the Boys' Home at Kalawao that he had founded.

Together the three Sisters ran the Bishop Home for Girls and the Home for Boys. The workload was extreme and the burden at times seemed overwhelming. In moments of despair, Sr. Leopoldina reflected: "How long, O Lord, must I see only those who are sick and covered with leprosy?"

Mother Marianne's invaluable example of never-failing optimism, serenity and trust in God inspired hope in those around her and allayed the Sisters' fear of catching leprosy. She taught her Sisters that their primary duty was “to make life as pleasant and as comfortable as possible for those of our fellow creatures whom God has chosen to afflict with this terrible disease.”

Mother Marianne never returned to Syracuse. She died in Hawaii on August 9, 1918 of natural causes and was buried on the grounds of Bishop Home.

Prayer to St. Marianne Cope

Lord Jesus, you who gave us your commandment
of love of God and neighbor, and identified yourself in a special way
with the most needy of your people,
hear our prayer.

Faithful to your teaching,
St. Marianne Cope loved and served her neighbor,
especially the most desolate outcast,
giving herself generously and heroically for those afflicted by leprosy.

She alleviated their physical and spiritual sufferings,
thus helping them to accept their afflictions with patience.
Her care and concern for others
manifested the great love you have for us.

Through her merits and intercession,
grant us the favor which we confidently ask of you
so that the people of God, following the inspiration of her life and apostolate,
may practice charity towards all
according to your word and example.

Through the intercession of Marianne Cope,
I ask for the grace of (mention your request).
Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Saints for the Year of Faith

Jozef  Damien

Jozef  Damien De Veuster was born at Tremelo, Belgium, on 3 January 1840.  He  began his novitiate with the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary in 1859 and took the name Damien. He prayed each day before a picture of St. Francis Xavier, patron of missionaries, to be sent on a mission. In 1863 his brother, who was to leave for a mission in the Hawaiian Islands, fell ill. Since preparations for the voyage had already been made, Damien obtained permission to take his brother's place. He landed in Honolulu on 19 March 1864 and was ordained to the priesthood on the following 21 May.

During this peroid, the Hawaiian Government took the harsh measure of quarantine aimed at preventing the spread of leprosy. Those infected with what at the time was thought to be an incurable disease were deported to the neighbouring Island of Molokai. Four brothers volunteered for assignment there. Damien was the first to leave on 10 May 1873 for Kalaupapa.

At his own request and that of the lepers, he remained on Molokai. Having contracted leprosy himself, he died on 15 April 1889, at the age of 49, after serving 16 years among the lepers. He was buried in the local cemetery under the same Pandanus tree where he had first slept upon his arrival in Molokai.

His remains were exhumed in 1936 at the request of the Belgian Government and translated to a crypt of the Church of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts at Louvain. Damien is universally known for having freely shared the life of the lepers in quarantine on the Kalaupapa Peninsula of Molokai. Fr Damien is known today as a hero of charity because he identified so closely with the victims of leprosy. He respected the religious convictions of others; he accepted them as people and received with joy their collaboration and their help. With a heart wide open to the most abject and wretched, he showed no difference in his approach and in his care of the lepers. In his parish ministry or in his works of charity he found a place for everyone.

He continues to inspire thousands of believers and non-believers who wish to imitate him and to discover the source of his heroism. People of all creeds and all philosophical systems recognized in him the Servant of God which he always revealed himself to be, and respect his passion for the salvation of souls. Pope John Paul II beatified Damien de Veuster in Brussels on 4 June 1995.


St. Damien, brother on the journey,
Happy and generous missionary,
teach us to give our lives
with a joy like yours,
to be in solidarity with the outcasts of the world,
to celebrate and contemplate the Eucharist
as the source of our committment.

Help us to love to the very end
and, in the strength of the Spirit,
to persevere in compassion
for the poor and forgotten
so that we might be
good disciples of Jesus and Mary.


SOURCE: USCCB website.

Monday, April 22, 2013

New Books on Pope Francis

A Call to Serve: Pope Francis and the Catholic FutureStefan von Kempis and Phillip Lawler
Crossroads Publishing

"This thoughtful, lively introduction to Pope Francis’s life and his promising future in the Vatican details the historic events surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the subsequent election of Pope Francis, and the particulars of the new pope’s spirituality and thought.

The book, jointly crafted by a Vatican Radio editor and journalist and the editor of the internet news service Catholic World News, artfully combines European and American perspectives and looks at the implications of the election of the first pope from the Americas who also is the first Jesuit pope in history.

This beautiful volume features an accessible format, anecdotes and additional background information broken into highlighted boxes, with full-color photography on nearly every page, all the while relating the gripping stories of a man who has confronted poverty, dictatorship, and revolution."
Pray for Me: The Life and Spiritual Vision of Pope Francis, First Pope from the Americas
Robert Moynihan
Image Press

From the founder and editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, the world's most well-informed, comprehensive monthly on the Roman Catholic Church, comes this enlightening introduction to the life and spiritual teachings of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, the first Pope of the Americas.

On March, 13, 2013, 115 Cardinals elected for the first time a Pope from outside of Europe. Pope Francis, a native of Argentina, is not just the first Pope from the Southern Hemisphere, he is also the first Jesuit to ever hold the Chair of Peter. This means a bridging of the Northern and Southern hemispheres and religious traditions in a way we've never seen before, signifying a new global vision for the 1.2 billion people who call themselves Catholic.

Now a leading expert on the papacy provides the ultimate introduction to this new Pope, including biographical information and an absorbing collection of Jorge Mario Bergoglio most persuasive words.

Francis: Pope of a New World
Andrea Tornielli
Ignatius Press

Who is Pope Francis, elected in one of the shortest conclaves in history? Who is the man chosen to be the first pope from the Americas? How does he see the world and his ministry? How does he understand his call to serve Christ, his Church, and the world? In short, what is the mind and heart of this new pope of a new world--of the Americas and the rest of the world of the 21st Century?

In the words, the ideas, and the personal recollections of Pope Francis--including material up to the final hours before his election--the most highly regarded Vatican observer on the international scene reveals the personality of this man of God, gentle and humble. The son of Italian immigrants to Argentina, he made radically following Christ and the way of non-violence the pillars of his pastoral ministry in a country, continually tormented by social and economic inequities.

This complete biography offers the keys to understanding the man who was a surprise choice, even a kind of revolutionary choice, for pope. It is the story of the humble pastor of one of the world's largest archdioceses; a cardinal who takes the bus, talks with common folk, and lives simply. It is the story of why the cardinal electors of the Catholic Church set aside political and diplomatic calculations to elect a pope to lead the renewal and purification of the worldwide Church of our time.

Pope Francis: The Pope From the End of the Earth
Thomas J. Craughwell
Saint Benedict Press

Thomas J. Craughwell is author of more than two dozen published works. Among them are his highly acclaimed Saints Behaving Badly (Doubleday, 2006) and Saints Preserved: An Encyclopedia of Relics (Image, 2011). His book, Stealing Lincoln's Body (Harvard University Press, 2007), has been adapted into a History Channel documentary. His articles have been printed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Inside the Vatican, and Our Sunday Visitor. A popular speaker, Professor Craughwell has appeared on EWTN, CNN, and Ave Maria radio to discuss saints, the canonization process, and Catholic history. He writes out of his home in Bethel, Connecticut.

Pope Francis
Matthew Bunson
Our Sunday Visitor

Pope Francis is written by Matthew Bunson, the author of the first biography of Pope Benedict XVI in the English language, The Pope Encyclopedia, The Encyclopedia of Catholic History and the upcoming Encyclopedia of U.S. Catholic History. Bunson is also a professor of Church History and a consultant to news organizations all over the world, including USA Today and ABC News and has appeared on countless radio and television programs, including CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, EWTN, Relevant Radio, the BBC, NPR and France 24.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The Anniversary of Benedict XVI's Pontificate

Today is the 8th anniversary of Cardinal Ratzinger's election as the 265th Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Roman Catholic Church.

Benedict XVI was elected pope at the age of 78. He is the oldest person to have been elected pope since Pope Clement XII (1730–40). He had served longer as a cardinal than any pope since Benedict XIII (1724–30). He was the ninth German pope.

Born in 1927 in Marktl, Bavaria, Germany, Ratzinger had a distinguished career as a university theologian before being appointed Archbishop of Munich and Freising by Pope Paul VI (1963–78). Shortly afterwards, he was made a cardinal in the consistory of 27 June 1977. He was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith by Pope John Paul II in 1981.

Even before becoming pope, Ratzinger was one of the most influential men in the Roman Curia, and was a close associate of John Paul II. As Dean of the College of Cardinals, he presided over the funeral of John Paul II and over the Mass immediately preceding the 2005 conclave in which he was elected.

Upon greeting the crowd in St. Peter’s Square after his election, he said:

“Dear brothers and sisters, after the great Pope John Paul II, the Cardinals have elected me, a simple, humble laborer in the vineyard of the Lord. The fact that the Lord knows how to work and to act even with insufficient instruments comforts me, and above all I entrust myself to your prayers. In the joy of the Risen Lord, confident of his unfailing help, let us move forward. The Lord will help us, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother, will be on our side.”
SOURCE: Rome Reports.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Faith Seeking Understanding

These two videos explore questions frequently posed to Father Barron by believers and skeptics alike. In discussion with students, Father's lively responses are both clarifying and edifying and serve as yet another helpful resource in the dialogue of the Faith and culture.

Friday, April 12, 2013

What is the New Evangelization?

SOURCE: St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A Call to Serve

By Stefan von Kempis and Phillip Lawler
Available April 25, 2013

"This thoughtful, lively introduction to Pope Francis’s life and his promising future in the Vatican details the historic events surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation, the subsequent election of Pope Francis, and the particulars of the new pope’s spirituality and thought.

The book, jointly crafted by a Vatican Radio editor and journalist and the editor of the internet news service Catholic World News, artfully combines European and American perspectives and looks at the implications of the election of the first pope from the Americas who also is the first Jesuit pope in history.

This beautiful volume features an accessible format, anecdotes and additional background information broken into highlighted boxes, with full-color photography on nearly every page, all the while relating the gripping stories of a man who has confronted poverty, dictatorship, and revolution."

SOURCE: Crossroads Publishing.