Feast of the Nativity

This article from A Nun’s Life was a great one about Mary from yesterday’s Feast of the Nativity. If you would like to check out the full version of the article please, click here. Mary is one of the most important figures of the Catholic Church and we should all try a little harder to remember her in our daily lives. Hopefully yesterday you said a quick prayer to her in remembrance of the Feast of the Nativity. If you didn’t then you should take some time right now to do that!

“Today we celebrate the birth of Mary. Although scripture says nothing about the circumstances of her birth, it is rich in stories about her adult life. The stories are the source of lots of images and titles for Mary. One of the best known is Theotokos, the God-Bearer.

I love this particular image of Mary and what it symbolizes. For Mary, “God-bearing” wasn’t a one-time event. It didn’t end when Jesus was born. Mary witnessed to God’s goodness and kindness with her whole life. Scripture tells of many times when Mary stepped in to help others, sometimes asking her son to lend a hand too, as in the wedding feast at Cana. She cared for the people in her life and was a faithful friend, mother, and wife. To me, the image of Mary as God-Bearer reminds me that we all have the capacity to be “God-bearers” through the compassion and love we extend to others. So, my birthday gift to Mary is the extra special attention I’ll give to being the best God-bearer I can today.

What images of Mary have special meaning for you? How will you celebrate Mary’s birthday?” – “Feast of the Nativity of Mary”, A Nun’s Life

Vatican Does Not Approve of Koran Burning

I am glad to see through this timely posting by EWTN that the Pope does not lament the absurd plans of burning the Koran. The notion that somebody even suggested this poorly thought out idea at all makes me question the human race as a whole. I am glad to see Pope Benedict XVI telling these people off for their awful idea of a 9/11 memorial. This is the last thing that any self-respecting Christians should be thinking of doing.

“Although the charismatic Christian church planning a Koran burning on Sept. 11 only has around 50 members, the spectre of the impact on Muslim relations led the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue to issue a statement today expressing its “great concern” over the plan and stating that “deplorable acts of violence … cannot be counteracted” by burning another religion’s sacred book.

The communique from the pontifical council began by noting that the proposed “Koran Burning Day” is scheduled for the anniversary of “the 11 September tragic terrorist attacks in 2001 which resulted in the loss of many innocent lives and considerable material damage.”

Expressing its great concern, the council said, “These deplorable acts of violence, in fact, cannot be counteracted by an outrageous and grave gesture against a book considered sacred by a religious community.”

The council for inter-religious dialogue also stated that religious freedom is a factor in the situation. “Each religion, with its respective sacred books, places of worship and symbols, has the right to respect and protection. We are speaking about the respect to be accorded the dignity of the person who is an adherent of that religion and his/her free choice in religious matters.”

Instead of outrageous ceremonies, the council suggested that September 11 would be much better observed by first offering “our deep sentiments of solidarity with those who were struck by these horrendous terrorist attacks” and then praying for them and their loved ones who lost their lives.

“Each religious leader and believer is also called to renew the firm condemnation of all forms of violence, in particular those committed in the name of religion,” the council affirmed.

Quoting from John Paul II’s 1999 address to the ambassador of Pakistan, the council insisted, “Recourse to violence in the name of religious belief is a perversion of the very teachings of the major religions.” Pope Benedict XVI similarly expressed in 2006, “violence as a response to offenses can never be justified, for this type of response is incompatible with the sacred principles of religion.”” – “Vatican Council Calls Planned Koran Burning Ceremony ‘Outrageous'”, EWTN

Relics of Padre Pio Shown in Brisbane

This post from CathNews.com talks all about Padre Pio who I have written of previously on here. His relics have been traveling around the world lately for all those faithful to see. It is great to hear about these large numbers turning out to see this wonderful saint’s things. The list of guest speakers in attendance to speak of Padre Pio is also impressive!

“Thousands of faithful in Brisbane gathered last week to be blessed with the relics of beloved Italian mystic, St Pio of Pietrelcina.

Our Lady of Graces’ Church, Carina, was packed on September 3 as was St Brigid’s Church, Red Hill, the following day, as people gathered to listen to Italian Capuchin Father Ermelindo Di Capua speak about the life, sanctity and humility of “Padre Pio”, reports The Catholic Leader.

Fr Ermelindo, one of the people to be close on a daily basis to then Padre Pio at the end of his life, was a confidant and English translator to the Italian mystic and saint.

Organiser Capuchin Father John Spiteri was overjoyed with the first Australian visit St Pio of Pietrelcina’s relics.

“It was a great success,” Fr Spiteri said.

“He spoke simply and very clearly about the spirituality and the holiness of Padre Pio,” Fr Spiteri said.

“One of his outstanding quotes was ‘Padre Pio was a simple, humble Capuchin’.”

Padre Pio was ordained a priest a century ago, on August 10. He first reported stigmata wounds – which remained permanent – to a spiritual advisor in 1910.

Pope John Paul II declared Padre Pio a saint in 2002.

“Fr Ermelindo was able to testify to the eminent holiness and the simplicity and the suffering Padre Pio endured,” Fr Spiteri said.

“It was wonderful to hear Fr Ermelindo speak so strongly about the holiness of Padre Pio without exaggeration.

“There was no sentimentality, no exaggeration, he spoke about the man as he was.”” – “St Pio Relics Draw Crowds of Faithful in Brisbane”, CathNews

Miners Still Alive in Chile

“Last Sunday, the Chilean bishops’ conference rejoiced upon hearing that the 33 miners trapped in a collapsed copper mine since August 5 are alive and in good spirits.

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Chile, Bishop Alejandro Goic Karmelic, released a statement shortly after hearing the news. He noted that “the lives of the 33 miners in Atacama … should fill us with hope. We share in the joy of so many brothers and sisters in Chile and throughout the world who rejoice at this triumph of life.”

Bishop Goic added that “we thank God because his love is made present through creation in marvelous ways.”

The bishop thanked the Chilean faithful for their prayers for the successful rescue of the miners. He noted that the incident should be used constructively to improve safety regulations for those who work under dangerous conditions.

Addressing the miners, who will be receiving food and water through plastic pipes that have been inserted into the chamber, Bishop Goic said Chileans offer them their “closeness and assurance of our prayers that the Divine Spirit strengthen them at this time.”

“And we ask all those who believe in Christ to continue praying to the Father of kindness in the coming days so that the rescue operations will end in success,” the bishop said.

According to the Associated Press, it will likely take four months for the miners to be rescued.” – “Bishops of Chile ‘thank God’ for Keeping Miners Safe”, Catholic News Agency

This post on Catholic News Agency was a great story to hear about. I cannot believe that these miners are still alive in Chile, but I am very thankful for it. It is a miracle that they have survived this disaster that put them into the situation they currently reside in. Please keep these people in your prayers and hopefully they will be rescued sooner rather then later.

Right to Believe Petition Defends Religious Freedom

“More than 20,000 people have signed a petition expressing support for millions of believers around the world who are denied the right to practice their faith.

The Right to Believe petition has been launched by Open Doors, which supports persecuted Christians worldwide.

It opposes efforts by an Islamic organisation to win the right for governments to choose which religious views are permissable in their country.

The Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) is again introducing the Defamation of Religions Resolution in the United Nations this year.

Open Doors believes the terms of the resolution impose substantial limits on the freedom of individuals to express their religious beliefs. It would also criminalise defamation of a particular religion, but Islam in particular.

The organisation said that persecuted Christians were looking to believers in countries with religious liberty to “walk with them … on our knees in prayer and on our feet in action”.

A similar resolution by the OIC was adopted by the UN last year amid fierce opposition from rights groups but Open Doors believes that the resolution could be defeated this year if opposition is strong enough.” – “Thousands Sign Right To Believe Petition”, Christian Today

This posting on Christian Today was something I thought was worth sharing with everybody. Somebody needed to stand up and oppose the Islamic group that is trying to combine church and state. This is a basic principle that really should not even need to be defended in my opinion, but none the less there is an Islamic group who is attempting to give government power to determine it’s citizens’ religion. The thought of that is horrific. Christians in the Middle East are already facing enough controversy without talks like this going on.

Denver Catholic Schools Fight to Remain Open

“Five Catholic elementary schools at risk of losing Archdiocese of Denver funding will remain open and receive financial support this coming school year.

School Superintendent Richard Thompson said all five will receive some level of aid because their efforts to boost enrollment and raise funds “showed promise” enough for the archdiocese to help out one more year.

The schools have planted seeds to become financially self-sufficient but requested time to see them take root, Thompson said.

“They all worked very, very hard,” he said. “People on the fence stepped forward to help. The schools showed enough tangible results we hated to see that clipped. We wanted to partner with them.”

Two of the five schools on the chopping block were Presentation of Our Lady and St. Catherine of Siena. The other three schools have chosen not to release information to the general public about their financial issues, and so the archdiocese will not disclose their identities.

Presentation of Our Lady pastor Ed Poehlmann said he has been heartened by the support of the Catholic community and beyond in keeping his school open for a new year, which begins Monday. A golf tournament over the weekend raised $20,000 for the school, he said.

“We’re doing a lot better,” Poehlmann said.

Thompson said preserving the schools for another year was good news, yet he remained guarded about long-term prospects given recent patterns of lower charitable contributions and declining enrollments.” – “Five Denver Catholic Schools Survive Financial Straits to Stay Open”, DenverPost.com

This article from The Denver Post is a topic that has come up in almost all areas of the US recently. A lot of Catholic schools are struggling to remain open because of smaller numbers of students enrolling. This is to be expected when there is public education available, and Catholic schooling costs extra. Catholic schools can be quite costly, but it is my thinking that they are truly worth the extra money it costs. More schools should begin doing fundraisers such as the golf outing discussed above. This is one of the ways these schools can make a push to remain open. If you would like to read the full text of the article, click here.

Pope Will See Performance by Susan Boyle in Scotland

This article from Catholic News Agency was a surprise to me, but a pleasant one. I had no idea that Susan Boyle would be singing for Pope Benedict this fall when he will be in the UK. This is great because Boyle is obviously a wonderful vocalist, and it makes sense because she gained her start in music singing in her Scottish churches choir. It will be good to see a Catholic performing for the Pope, I mean it only makes sense right?

“The surprise music sensation Susan Boyle will sing for Pope Benedict XVI during his visit to the U.K., a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Scotland has confirmed. Boyle will be joined by music star Michelle McManus, who is already scheduled to sing before the Papal Mass in Glasgow.

Responding to an inquiry from CNA, Peter Kearney, director of the Scottish Catholic Media Office (SCMO), said on Wednesday, “Susan will sing.”

He added that organizers hope to release more details at the beginning of next week.

Boyle, a middle-aged Scottish woman who sang in her Catholic parish’s choir for decades, became a sensation after her appearance on a British talent show. While the show’s audience reacted with hostility to her plain-looking appearance at first, they cheered with deep appreciation after her high-caliber rendition of the song “I Dreamed a Dream.”

The singer’s first album has sold millions of copies.” – “Susan Boyle Will Sing for Pope During UK Visit”, Catholic News Agency

Archbishop Sponsors Refugees, Asks More to Follow His Example

“For Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins, the fate of Iraqi Christians trapped in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon is not just another tough case in an unfair world full of too much heartbreak. For him, the situation is personal.

Archbishop Collins has written to his fellow bishops across Canada about the fate of Iraqi Christian refugees, asking them to encourage refugee sponsorship in their dioceses. He has urged pastors in Toronto to get their parishes involved in sponsoring refugees.

He is also personally sponsoring a refugee family.

“Helping refugees is important in this world in which so many people are suffering, and I want personally to assist in this,” Archbishop Collins told The Catholic Register, a Canadian weekly, in an e-mail.

Archbishop Collins — like any parish sponsoring a refugee family — will wait months before he gets to meet the family picked out for him by the archdiocesan Office for Refugees. However, wait times for Iraqis are among the shortest for privately sponsored refugees.

As a Christian community, the Catholic Church in Toronto should feel a special bond with Christian refugees from Iraq, said the archbishop.

“We should always seek to help any people who are suffering, and the people of our archdiocese have always done so,” Archbishop Collins wrote. “But at this time, many Christians are suffering because of their faith, and we need in a particular way to reach out to them.”” – “Toronto Archbishop Leads by Example, Sponsors Iraqi Refugee Family”, Catholic News Service

This story posted on Catholic News Service is a great one that is definitely worth reading. If you are interested in the full article, click here. Archbishop Collins is trying to help spread the word that Iraqi refugees could really use help from others. It is awesome to see that he personally sponsors a family himself, and doesn’t just preach about it to his archdiocese. More people should take the initiative that he does, he sets a fine example of how to be a good Catholic.

Saint of the Day

Today’s patron saint of the day is Saint Hyacinth. This post from A Catholic View really goes into the details of Saint Hyacinth’s life and is a great way to learn more about a saint that not all of us are so knowledgeable about. If Saint Hyacinth is your favorite patron saint, you should try and find his patron saint medal somewhere and begin wearing it. Patron saint medals are great way to outwardly show your faith!

“The Saint of the Day for August 17 is St. Hyacinth.

While a canon at the cathedral of Cracow, Hyacinth journeyed to Rome, was impressed by the preaching and miracles of St. Dominic, and from the hand of Dominic himself received the habit of the newly-founded Order. Upon returning to his native land (1219), he established monasteries of his Order beyond the Alps at Friesach, Prague, Olmiitz, and Cracow.
From the Breviary we have this miracle. With three companions Hyacinth had arrived at the banks of the river Weichsel during their journey to Vischegrad, where they were expected to preach. But the waters had risen so high and had become so violent that no ferryman dared to cross. The saint took his mantle, spread it out before him, and with his companions rode across the raging waters. After saying his Office for the day, he died in 1257 with these words on his lips: “Into Your hands, Lord, I rest my spirit!”” – “St. Hyacinth”, A Catholic View

Priest Shows Kids How to Skateboard

“A Hungarian Roman Catholic priest is reaching out to young people with his skateboarding tricks – and becoming a YouTube sensation in the process.

A video of the Rev Zoltan Lendvai skateboarding has clocked up hundreds of thousands of hits. The video, called Funny Priest Skateboarding, shows the priest manoeuvring on his skateboard as he talks to a group of teenagers.

Rev Lendvai, who is based in Redics, near the border with Slovenia, learned to skateboard as a young teenager at school. He believes skateboarding is an effective way of reaching young people with the Christian faith, according to Reuters.

He told Reuters that he is inspired by the 19th century Italian priest and educator Saint John Bosco, who used games to teach poor children.

“Many times I have felt that this is the way I can bring many people a bit closer to Jesus,” he told the news agency.

He told of three teenage boys who started coming to church after he taught them some skateboarding tricks and that he has given away at least six skateboards bearing the papal coat of arms to young people in his parish.” – “Skateboarding Priest Reaches out to Youngsters”, Christian Today

This post from Christian Today really caught my attention. I was shocked to read about this, but also was very happy to hear about a priest trying to make a connection with today’s youth. This is really the perfect way to get kids interested in attending Mass again. More churches should begin doing some sort of program based off of what this priest is doing. He takes after Saint John Bosco, and who could really say that’s a bad idea!