Encourage Stray Catholics to Come to Mass

I came across this article earlier today: “Invite Catholics back to Mass,’ Bishop urges Faithful.” Found in the beginning of the article were these statements: “Bishop Kieran Conry of Arundel and Brighton said that only one in five baptized Catholics attend church every Sunday. The other four have somehow lost contact with the Church.”

I am aware that there are Catholics who are no longer attend Church every Sunday, but I never imagined there would be so many (4 out 5 baptized members???).  This is just so sad for me to hear, and I know you feel the same way too. It’s just awful that people have found the Lord and his Church , but still made the choice to leave. Encourage stray Catholics to come to Mass. They once knew of God’s goodness, and just need a little help remembering it.

If you are a constant visitor of this blog, you must have read one of my posts encouraging Evangelization–sharing the good news of salvation to others who have not heard about it yet. Today I realized that aside from witnessing to those who haven’t received the Gospel yet, we also have a mission to help bring those who have “wandered” back into the fold of God.

Take the chance today to encourage a family member, a neighbor, or a friend to go back to Church. Studies show that 41% of those who have stopped attending Mass would return to the local church if a friend or acquaintance invited them. Be an instrument of God today and encourage stray Catholics to come to Mass.

The day of St. Elizabeth of Hungary

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the life of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, renowned for furthering St. Francis of Assissi’s ideals of poverty and service.

Born as the daughter of Hungarian King Andrew II in 1207, Elizabeth’s arranged marriage to Ludwig of Thuringia forced her to leave her family while still very young.  Additionally, Elizabeth’s mother Gertrude was murdered in 1213 due to a conflict between German people and Hungarian nobles.  Both events led Elizabeth to sorrow, though she turned to prayer for consolation.

Catholic News Agency’s article on St. Elizabeth continues her story:

Ludwig, who had advanced to become one of the rulers of Thuringia, supported Elizabeth’s efforts to live out the principles of the Gospel even within the royal court. She met with friars of the nascent Franciscan order during its founder’s own lifetime, resolving to use her position as queen to advance their mission of charity.
In 1226, while Ludwig was attending to political affairs in Italy, Elizabeth took charge of distributing aid to victims of disease and flooding that struck Thuringia. She took charge of caring for the afflicted, even when this required giving up the royal family’s own clothes and goods. Elizabeth arranged for a hospital to be built, and is said to have provided for the needs of nearly a thousand desperately poor people on a daily basis.

The next year, however, would put Elizabeth’s faith to the test. Her husband had promised to assist the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in the Sixth Crusade, but he died of illness en route to Jerusalem […] Elizabeth used her remaining money to build another hospital, where she personally attended to the sick almost constantly.
Elizabeth joined the Third Order of St. Francis, seeking to emulate the example of its founder as closely as her responsibilities would allow. Near the end of her life, she lived in a small hut and spun her own clothes.

After [Elizabeth] died [in 1231], miraculous healings soon began to occur at her grave near the hospital, and she was declared a saint only four years later.

Pope Benedict XVI recently praised her as a “model for those in authority.”

Thieves Caught Attempting to Steal Relics of Padre Pio

This post was found over on Catholic News Agency and I will say that I was shocked by it. I cannot believe somebody would try and steal relics of Padre Pio’s. If they had any knowledge of the Catholic Church what so ever they would have known how ridiculous their idea was. It seems as if they may not have known what they were taking though. As of now it seems as though they were merely after the gold, and did not have other motivations such as upsetting Catholics. I am glad that their attempts remained just that, attempts. They were unsuccessful and their relics remain in safety.

“A gold reliquary containing Padre Pio relics was the apparent object of thieves’ interest on Sunday evening. Sacrilege has been ruled out by a Capuchin spokesperson, as the attempt was likely for the gold, not the relics themselves. Embedded in the altar of a chapel in the San Giovanni Rotondo cemetery in Italy is a glass and gold reliquary that contains some hair, wrappings that would have covered the saint’s pierced side, and a pair of gloves, reported Italy’s La Repubblica newspaper.

St. Pio bore the wounds of Christ in the stigmata for 50 years, the same wounds that also afflicted the likes of St. Francis of Assisi and St. Catherine of Siena.

According to Italian news reports, the only thing stopping the thieves from making off with the relics was the strength of the reinforced glass in which they are encased.

Teleradio Padre Pio director Stefano Campanella told Italy’s TGCOM that thieves were likely not interested in the relics, but had probably mistaken the reliquary for a piece of solid gold. He ruled out sacrilege, saying that “if they had wished to act in this sense they would have been able to hit the tombs of St. Pio’s parents, brother or spiritual director, that have a stronger symbolic value” and are found in the same cemetery.

The Italian “carabinieri” police force are investigating the attempted theft.” – “Attempted Theft of Padre Pio Reliquary Thwarted”, Catholic News Agency

Christians Shot in Pakistan

I found this post on Christian Today this morning. It was deeply saddening to see this news story, and I encourage you all to pray for the families of these two men who lost their lives.

“Two Christians accused of blasphemy in Pakistan were killed as they left a courthouse Monday afternoon, reports a Christian persecution watchdog group shortly after the incident.

Police were transporting Pastor Rashid Emmanuel and his brother, Sajid Emmanuel, from the court in Faisalabad to jail when masked gunmen opened fire, killing the two Christians and seriously wounding a policeman accompanying them before getting away, reported Washington-based International Christian Concern.

The brothers had been arrested on July 2 after being accused of writing a pamphlet with blasphemous remarks about the Muslim Prophet Muhammad – a crime punishable by death in Pakistan.” – “Masked Gunmen Shoots Down Two Pastors in Pakistan”, Christian Today

This was some extremely sad news indeed. Apparently it is uncertain whether the men accused of these blasphemous statements about Muhammed actually made the statements at all. The are rumors circulating that the men were falsely accused of these crimes so they could be taken to court. It does make sense, after all if these two men distributed a pamphlet that ridiculed Muhammed, which is a known crime in Pakistan, I’m pretty sure they would not have let any information get into it that could trace the pamphlets back to them. Either way these men’s families deserve our prayers in this time of devastating sadness they must be enduring.

World Cup Champs to Make Religious Journey

“Spanish soccer player Andres Iniesta, who scored the winning goal during the World Cup final in South Africa, has promised to walk the Way of St. James, which leads to Santiago de Compostela.The Way of St. James is a pilgrimage route that for centuries brought the faithful from across Europe to the city of Santiago de Compostela, where the remains of the saint are venerated.

According to the Spanish newspaper, Marca, months before the 2010 World Cup, the members of the Spanish team sent the newspaper sealed envelopes with the promises they would keep if they won the title.

Marca opened the envelopes after Spain’s historic victory on Sunday and found that Iniesta, along with Fernando Torres and Carlos Marchena said they would walk the Way of St. James.

Iniesta also revealed his promise in an interview prior to the World Cup.  Speaking on Spanish television he said he would make the pilgrimage “somehow…I’ll do it however I have to!” His teammate Sergio Busquets, who was with him, made the same promise.” – “Soccer Player Who Scored Winning World Cup Goal Promises to Make Pilgrimage”, Catholic News Agency

This was a really cool story to read up on. It makes me happy to see these players keeping their word on the promises they made before the World Cup started, and it is also great to see that they made such religiously influenced promises as well. It really shows that a lot of athletes today still look to God and Christ for strength on the field and in whatever they do. It has been said that many fans will make the pilgrimage with their beloved, World Cup winning players. Saint James’ feast falls on the 25th of this month, and Pope Benedict XVI will be in Santiago de Compostela too.

Keep Christians in Egpyt in Your Prayers

Christians in Egypt could really use a prayer right now so please take a minute to read why, and remember to pray for them sometime today.

“Constitutional guarantees of religious liberty and equality before the law are illusory under Sharia. It forbids apostasy (leaving Islam) and eliminates fitna (anything that could even tempt a Muslim to leave Islam). Sharia also establishes dhimmitude: the subjugation of Jews and Christians as second class citizens; systematic discrimination; religious apartheid.

In Egypt, as in virtually every Muslim state, a person’s official religion is displayed on their identity (ID) card. According to Sharia, every child born to a Muslim man is automatically Muslim from birth.

If a Christian man converts to Islam, his Christian children are automatically deemed Muslim. If a Muslim parent converts to Christianity they lose custody of their children. Sharia mandates that a Muslim girl may marry only a Muslim man, thereby ensuring that her children will be born Muslim. (This is the main reason why some female converts to Christianity dare to adopt falsified ID cards.)

In 2007 a Muslim-born convert to Christianity, Mohammed Hegazi (24), applied to have his ID card changed. Not only did he want to have his ID card reflect reality, he did not want his unborn child to be officially deemed Muslim from birth. When his application was rejected, Hegazi sued the Interior Ministry for his constitutional right to religious freedom (Article 46).

The court ruled against Hegazi on the grounds that Sharia prohib its apostasy. Death threats resulting from the publicity drove Hegazi, his wife and new-born daughter into hiding. In August 2008 Maher el-Gowhary took up the same fight for the sake of his daughter, Dina (14). El-Gowhary (55), who had quietly converted to Christianity 35 years earlier, wanted his true religious identity acknowledged and his ID card corrected before his daughter turned 16, when she would be issued her own ID card.

Islamic religious leaders issued fatwas calling for Hegazi’s and el-Gowhary’s blood to be shed and in September 2008 the men narrowly escaped an assassination attempt. In June 2009 the court ruled against el-Gowhary because Sharia prohibits apostasy and conversions would pose a threat to the ‘public order’.

When el-Gowhary and his daughter subsequently tried to leave Egypt their passports were confiscated. In April 2010 Dina el-Gowhary was attacked with acid, causing her jacket to ignite. Fortunately she survived unharmed.

On 5 July 2010 Maher el-Gowhary was ambushed by two men on a motorbike who abused him as an apostate, shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and stabbed him in the neck. The seriously wounded el-Gowhary is too afraid of the authorities to go to hospital as Egyptian police are infamous for their corruption and brutality.” – “A Call to Prayer for the Church in Egypt”, Christian Today

I was surprised to read this article and find out how harsh the rules are becoming in Egypt and many other countries. Freedom of religion is allowed, but if one converts to anything other than Islam they suffer greatly for it. Loss of children is not something that anybody should have to go through to be a part of any kind of religion. The laws and rulings of the leaders over there are putting most Christians in a very delicate situation that I would not wish upon anybody. Please head over to Christian Today and read this full article, click here, and keep these people in your prayers.