Tuesday, 31 May 2011

St. Gianna Molla

Gianna Beretta was born in Magenta (Milan) October 4, 1922. Already as a youth she willingly accepted the gift of faith and the clearly Christian education that she received from her excellent parents. As a result, she experienced life as a marvellous gift from God, had a strong faith in Providence and was convinced of the necessity and effectiveness of prayer.

She diligently dedicated herself to studies during the years of her secondary and university education, while, at the same time, applying her faith through generous apostolic service among the youth of Catholic Action and charitable work among the elderly and needy as a member of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. After earning degrees in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949, she opened a medical clinic in Mesero (near Magenta) in 1950. She specialized in Pediatrics at the University of Milan in 1952 and there after gave special attention to mothers, babies, the elderly and poor.

While working in the field of medicine-which she considered a “mission” and practiced as such-she increased her generous service to Catholic Action, especially among the “very young” and, at the same time, expressed her joie de vivre and love of creation through skiing and mountaineering. Through her prayers and those of others, she reflected upon her vocation, which she also considered a gift from God. Having chosen the vocation of marriage, she embraced it with complete enthusiasm and wholly dedicated herself “to forming a truly Christian family”.

She became engaged to Pietro Molla and was radiant with joy and happiness during the time of their engagement, for which she thanked and praised the Lord. They were married on September 24, 1955, in the Basilica of St. Martin in Magenta, and she became a happy wife. In November 1956, to her great joy, she became the mother of Pierluigi, in December 1957 of Mariolina; in July 1959 of Laura. With simplicity and equilibrium she harmonized the demands of mother, wife, doctor and her passion for life.

In September 1961 towards the end of the second month of pregnancy, she was touched by suffering and the mystery of pain; she had developed a fibroma in her uterus. Before the required surgical operation, and conscious of the risk that her continued pregnancy brought, she pleaded with the surgeon to save the life of the child she was carrying, and entrusted herself to prayer and Providence. The life was saved, for which she thanked the Lord. She spent the seven months remaining until the birth of the child in incomparable strength of spirit and unrelenting dedication to her tasks as mother and doctor. She worried that the baby in her womb might be born in pain, and she asked God to prevent that.

A few days before the child was due, although trusting as always in Providence, she was ready to give her life in order to save that of her child: “If you must decided between me and the child, do not hesitate: choose the child - I insist on it. Save him”. On the morning of April 21, 1962, Gianna Emanuela was born. Despite all efforts and treatments to save both of them, on the morning of April 28, amid unspeakable pain and after repeated exclamations of “Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you», the mother died. She was 39 years old. Her funeral was an occasion of profound grief, faith and prayer. The Servant of God lies in the cemetery of Mesero (4 km from Magenta).

“Conscious immolation», was the phrase used by Pope Paul VI to define the act of Blessed Gianna, remembering her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973, as: “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation”. The Holy Father in these words clearly refers to Christ on Calvary and in the Eucharist.

Gianna was beatified by Pope John Paul II on April 24, 1994, during the international Year of the Family. She was canonised by Pope John Paul in 2004.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity (SOLT)

The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity, whose spirituality leads to communion with the Most Holy Trinity through discipleship of Jesus and Mary, was founded on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, July 16, 1958, by Father James H. Flanagan under the guidance of Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne, D.D., of Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA. The Society’s international headquarters is currently located in Robstown, Texas, in the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas, USA. When the Society achieves pontifical status, the headquarters will be transferred to Rome.

The Society of Our Lady is comprised of priests and permanent deacons, religious, and single and married laity united in the solidarity of graced friendships as a family, in fidelity, loyalty and charity. United to the saving mission and ministries of the Church, the members serve in Her apostolic works, especially in the areas of deepest human and spiritual need.
By serving together on ecclesial teams, the members of Our Lady’s Society present to the People of God an image of the Church-as-Community in the gift of Her three vocations of priest, religious and laity. By their special dedication to imitate Mary in her communion with the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity and in her communion with all in becoming like Jesus, they bear witness to the People of God of the Church-as-Community.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

The Christian Missionary & Olympian who put God in First Place

Eric Liddell was a Scottish Olympic champion at 400 m and a famous Christian missionary; his inspirational life was captured in the film 'Chariots of Fire'

Although his parents was Scottish, Eric Liddell was both born and died in China. He was born on 16 January 1902 in the city of Tientsin (now Tianjin) in north-eastern China.

He was sent to Eltham College, a Christian boarding school for 12 years. In 1921, he moved to Edinburgh University where he studied Pure Science. From his schooldays he was an outsanding sportsman, excelling in short distance running, rugby union and cricket. In 1922 and 23 he played for Scotland Rugby Union in the Five Nations. However, it was at running that he really excelled, and after setting a new British record in the 1923 100 yards sprint, he was considered a great prospect for the Olympics in 1924.

Eric Liddell was a committed protestant Christian. Because the heats of the 100m sprint was held on Sunday, he withdrew from the race - a race considered to be his strongest. Instead he concentrated on the 400 metres as the race schedule didn't involve a Sunday.

Liddell was considered to be a strong favourite for the race. Before the final the US Olympic masseur slipped a piece of paper into his hand. It included the words from the Bible 1 Samuel 2:30 "Those who honour me I will honour".   Sprinting from the start, Liddell created a significant gap to the other runners and held onto win Gold and set a new Olympic record time of 47.6 seconds. He described his race plan:

"The secret of my success over the 400m is that I run the first 200m as fast as I can. Then, for the second 200m, with God's help I run faster." 

He also won bronze in the 200m. In this race, he also beat Harold Abrahams a British rival and team-mate.
Liddell's running style was unorthodox. Towards the end of the race he would fling his head back, with mouth wide open appearing to gasp for breath.

Life as a Christian Missionary

In 1925, Liddell returned to northern China to serve as a missionary like his parents. In China he remained fit, but only competed sporadically.  Liddell married Florence Mackenzie a Canadian missionary. They had three daughters Patricia, Heather and Maureen.
In 1941, the advancing Japanese army pressed Liddell and his family to flee to a rural mission station. Liddell was kept very busy dealing with the stream of locals who came to the station for medical treatment and food.
In 1943, the Japanese reached the mission statement and Liddell was interned. Aggravated by the shortage of food and medical treatment, Liddell developed a brain tumour and died five months before libeartion.

Many camp internee's attest to the strong moral character of Liddell. He was seen as a great unifying force and helped to ease tensions through his selflessness and impartiality.
In "The Courtyard of the Happy Way", Norman Cliff, wrote of Liddell
"the finest Christian gentleman it has been my pleasure to meet. In all the time in the camp, I never heard him say a bad word about anybody".
A fellow internee, Stephen Metcalfe, later wrote of Liddell: "He gave me two things. One was his worn out running shoes, but the best thing he gave me was his baton of forgiveness. He taught me to love my enemies, the Japanese, and to pray for them."

Citation : Pettinger, Tejvan. "Biography of Eric Liddell ", Oxford, UK www.biographyonline.net, 22nd Jan. 2011

Above article from:  http://www.biographyonline.net/sport/athletics/eric-liddell.html

"We are all missionaries. Wherever we go we either bring people nearer to Christ or
we repel them from Christ."  - Eric Liddell

Saturday, 28 May 2011

The Emmanuel Community.....

The Emmanuel Community is an "International Public Association of the Faithful" of pontifical right under Canon Law. Its Statutes were officially approved by the Pontifical Council for the Laity on December 8, 1992. By granting it "public" status, the Holy See recognizes that the Emmanuel Community acts in the name of the Catholic Church, that is not only for the particular good of its own members but for the common good of the whole Church, participating in this way in the renewal of missionary conscience among all the baptized.

The Emmanuel Community gathers more than 8,000 members around the world and is present in 57 countries. It brings together families, single people, priests (233), seminarians (100), and consecrated lay people living in celibacy for the kingdom (25 brothers and 170 sisters). Four bishops have already been appointed from priests of the Emmanuel Community.

The mission of the Emmanuel Community is to offer a path to its members to answer God's call to holiness and proclaim Christ in today's world. It is particularly through Eucharistic adoration, compassion, and evangelization that its members are called to manifest God's presence with us ( "Emmanuel"). The Emmanuel Community proposes concrete ways to its members to grow spiritually, notably through the attendance of daily mass, the invitation to take long times of silent adoration each day, the call to leave a joyful and simple life with a constant heart of praise, and various communal activities, including praying together and sharing on a weekly basis on the Word of God and evangelization efforts.

The Emmanuel Community carries out significant evangelization events around the world, such as its famous five-day summer retreat sessions in Paray-le-Monial (France), which gather over 30,000 people every year. The Emmanuel Community is regularly entrusted major responsibilities in the organization of the World Youth Days. As a sign of trust and proven track record in the field of evangelization, numerous bishops around the world have given to the Emmanuel Community the responsibility of more than 60 major diocesan parishes as well as numerous pilgrimage sanctuaries. Since 1984, the Emmanuel Community has been charged by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to coordinate the Pope's International San Lorenzo Center for Young People just off Saint Peter's Square. The Emmanuel Community also runs several evangelization schools around the world, such as the Emmanuel School of Mission in Rome.

The Emmanuel Community has been present in the United States since 1992, particularly through a vibrant prayer group in New York City that remained in existence for twelve years (first at Old Saint Patrick's Cathedral Church, then at New York University Holy Trinity Chapel). It has also organized numerous evangelization events throughout the United States.

Above article From:  http://www.emmanuelcommunity.com/

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Supporting Family Life.......

The Holy Family Apostolate is an association for Roman Catholic families who, while not presuming to be composed of holy members, take seriously the command of Our Lord Jesus Christ, “Be ye perfect as your Father is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).
Their field of apostolate is firstly to themselves as individuals, then family members, from whom they have to answer directly to God, and lastly other families, as good families will necessarily produce a better society.
They take as their patrons the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, whose love for us cannot ever be adequately expressed, and to whom we can best show our love and admiration by attempting to emulate.
Many worthy groups and many good materials exist to support families in their vital role, and they aim, when possible, to promote the best of these and produce their own material for the good of families. In this regard they currently produce a newsletter which aims to form and inform. They occasionally arrange ‘ family days’ (in Scotland) sometimes meeting socially at, for example places of Catholic interest, or at a family home for a talk and activities. They also arrange, twice yearly, ‘Catholic family Weekends’ which have proven to be highly popular.
The mission field of the married person is firstly within the threshold of his or her own house; here he or she is obliged to practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
The enemies of our souls referred to by Our Lord Jesus Christ as “the world, the flesh and the devil” are increasingly influencing the age we live in, and many parents today are alarmed at the increasing spiritual and moral danger their children are being exposed to, and feel let down by those in positions of authority who have failed them. They often feel isolated and overwhelmed by the pace of change in a  world that is rapidly becoming pagan and immoral.
The Holy Family Apostolate was established by concerned parents in order to support each other in carrying out this important mission. The Holy Family Apostolate encourages parents to ‘work as if everything depends on them, but pray as if everything depends on God’. Ora et Laborais just as necessary for the parent as it is for the monk.
Pius XII prophetically stated “to consider the state as something ultimate, to which everything else should be subordinated and directed, cannot fail to harm the true and lasting prosperity of nations”. Laws are now passed which attack or undermine family life, and the forces of good seem at times to be powerless against the all-mighty state.
The Holy Family Apostolate encourages all to fight for the family and the Faith in whatever ways they can, and if, like Peter, they begin to sink ebeneath the waves, to do as Peter did, and cast our eyes on Jesus, our harbour and our hope.
The Holy Family Apostolate promotes the traditional Church and Marian devotions, including the family Rosary and the Brown Scapular, encouraging all to take refuge in the heart of Our heavenly Mother, whose Immaculate Heart will ultimately triumph, and only then will true peace come to the world.
If you believe in adhering to the magisterial teachings of the One Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church and are of good will and serious about your sanctification and the sanctification of others, well perhaps you would like to join them. They are fairly new and don’t promise to do great things, but hope to do little things well, for the good of souls. Good will and a desire for the salvation of ourselves and others is expected of all members.
Other Contacts...

  • Holy Family Apostolate, c/o 22 Milton Road East, Edinburgh EH15 2NJ (Scotland);
  • tel. no.: +44 (0)131-669 1434;
  • email: holyfamilyapostolate at gmail.com

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Jackie Pullinger - Serving Christ in the Most Broken and Abandoned..

Voice in the above video is that of Jackie Pullinger...

Jackie Pullinger born in 1944,  is a British Protestant Christian.  She is founder and director of St. Stephen’s Society in Hong Kong.  At the age of 15 Pullinger graduated from the Royal College of Music having specialized in the oboe. She wanted to be a missionary, so she wrote to various missionary organizations. At first she wanted to go to Africa, but then she had a dream that impressed upon her the idea of going to Hong Kong.   Unable to find support from missionary organizations, she sought advice from Richard Thompson, a minister in Shoreditch, who told her that she should buy a ticket for a boat going as far as she could get and to pray to know when to get off the boat. She followed his advice and went to Hong Kong by boat in 1966.

Jackie felt called by God to Hong Kong to work amongst the prostitutes and drug addicts living in the notorious walled city. Though fearful for her own safety, daily she would try to make contact with people who lived in some of the worst conditions one could imagine. But after six months little had been achieved and despair set in.
She agonized about it for days. If God has called me to be here why aren’t people responding? One morning she realized what was wrong. She’d been telling people that God loves them and that Jesus loves them and wants to forgive them but she’d not been loving them in any practical way. She needed to go and be as Jesus, with them.

The next three months she spent “soaking herself in Scripture and prayer - and being drenched by the Holy Spirit!” Her new and very practical approach yielded a remarkable response. Providing food, shelter and healthcare, visiting prisons, speaking up for victims, these became the ingredients of her everyday life. The situation was so transformed that even the drug barons watched out for her safety.

She’s still there and so is the church that grew from her work but the Walled City isn’t. It was demolished ten years ago. Though the St Stephen's Society began and continues to grow in Hong Kong, it also serves in countries surrounding Hong Kong, as well as the Philippines and Thailand.

Jackie grew up in England but has been living in Hong Kong since 1966.

For more information on Jackie and her work...http://www.ststephenssociety.com/ 

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Cenacolo Community

The Cenacolo community was founded by Sr Elvira Petrozzi, an Italian nun in 1983. For many years she had been concerned by the destruction she had seen among young people through drug abuse and she longed to help them. Since she had no formal training to work with addicts and the charism of her order was teaching, it was 8 years before she managed to persuade her superiors that this was a genuine call of God and to release her for the work.

She began with two companions - a fellow religious, Sr Aurelia, and a teacher Nives Grato. They were given an abandoned old house in the city of Saluzzo in Italy, which was leased to her by the city for a dollar a year, and on July 16th, the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the Cenacolo community officially opened. Soon young people began to arrive on her doorstep needing help and the work began. Sr Elvira has leamt as she has gone along. In the beginning the young addicts were allowed to smoke and have a glass of wine, Italian style, with their meals. She soon leamt, however, that such social niceties were not possible for people fighting with addiction. One evening she came back to find the young men in the community were all drunk, having bored a hole in the pantry wall and finished off all their supplies of wine. Now alcohol and tobacco are not allowed on the premises for anyone.


While secular de-tox programmes will use methodone and other drug substitutes to wean people off hard drugs, Sr Elvira has a completely different method. She believes that the problem of the young people is not so much one of chemical dependence on drugs, but that drugs are the only way that these young people have found to cope with their problems in life. She sees her job as showing them, a better and much more effective option - Christ. Thus Cenacolo is not so much a therapeutic community or drug rehab centre, as a school of life with prayer at its heart. The young people are thus put through a kind of intensive spiritual boot camp where they leam to live in a totally new way - to accept a simple lifestyle, and to rediscover the gifts of work, friendship and of faith in the Word of God, instead of relying on the crutch of drugs to escape from everything that is too painful to deal with. In their brochure the Cenacolo members explain their biggest problems are not the chemical withdrawals but re-orienting their lives.

One of the keys to the healing of the drug addicts is the role of their "guardian angels". These are fellow addicts who are further along the spiritual journey, who can offer emotional and spiritual support to new boys. The guardian angels provide 24 hour support for their charges, listening to them, encouraging them, making them cups of tea if they wake up in the night troubled, or even doing their work for them, if they feel too ill to do it. This unconditional love melts the hardest of hearts and helps prepare the newcomer for the day when he will do this for someone else on the programme. Later it is hoped they will take this giving attitude out into the world and help others, instead of being stuck in the self-centred spiral that many addicts find themselves in because of their drugs habit.

Check out Website of Cenacolo Communita:  http://www.comunitacenacolo.it/

Sunday, 22 May 2011

From Pope Benedict on Vocations...

VATICAN CITY, February 10th  2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - The vitality of the Church depends on individual Catholics fostering vocations in their homes and parishes, the Pope says in his annual message for the May 15 World Day of Prayer for Vocations.

"It is essential that every local Church become more sensitive and attentive to the pastoral care of vocations," the Pope writes in his new statement issued by the Vatican on Feb. 10.

He speaks of the role of the Church in helping children and young people to grow in a real friendship with Jesus, to increase their familiarity with the Scriptures, to understand the truth of his message and to be generous in creating relationships with others.

The theme of this year's prayer for vocations day is "Proposing Vocations in the Local Church." The Pope says this "means having the courage, through an attentive and suitable concern for vocations, to point out this challenging way of following Christ which, because it is so rich in meaning, is capable of engaging the whole of one's life."

Answering Jesus' call of "Follow me!" is "no less challenging" today than it was for the disciples 2,000 years ago, says the Pope.

"It means learning to keep our gaze fixed on Jesus, growing close to him, listening to his word and encountering him in the sacraments" and "learning to conform our will to his."

The Church is called to protect and love the gift of God's call to people to share in his mission and serve as ordained ministers and consecrated religious, he says.

"Particularly in these times, when the voice of the Lord seems to be drowned out by 'other voices' and his invitation to follow him by the gift of one's own life may seem too difficult, every Christian community, every member of the Church, needs to consciously feel responsible for promoting vocations."

According to a report from the U.S. bishops, there are currently 5,131 men enrolled in the U.S. seminaries. The number is up from 4,973 in 2009.

The Pope urges the faithful to take every opportunity to develop vocations. "Every moment" in Church community life from catechesis to prayer and pilgrimages can be "a precious opportunity for awakening in the people of God ... a sense of belonging to the Church and of responsibility for answering the call to priesthood and to religious life by a free and informed decision," he says.

"The ability to foster vocations," Pope Benedict concludes, "is a hallmark of the vitality of a local Church."

Saturday, 21 May 2011

The Silent Workers of the Cross (SODC)

The History:  SODC was established in order to direct and coordinate and guarantee continuity to the Apostolate of the Suffering which had been founded in the 1940s by Mgr Luigi Novarese (1914-1984) in cooperation with Sister Elvira Myriam Psorulla. In 1952 Mgr Novarese led the spiritual exercises for the first SODC group, and it was decided to build houses for the sick and disabled wishing to repeat the experience every year. The first house was dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. 

In 1957 the first SODC community entered what was to become the Mother House of the Association near the Shrine of Vallelungo in the diocese of Ariano Irpino (Avellino). In 1960 SODC was given canonical approbation by the diocesan bishop, Mgr Pasquale Venezia. The development of the work of the Association led Mgr Novarese to make plans to expand SODC beyond Italy’s borders in order to create what he defined as the "world union of the sick". On 17 May 2001 the Pontifical Council for the Laity issued a decree recognising the Associazione Silenziosi Operai della Croce as an international association of the faithful of Pontifical Right.

Identity:  The members of the SODC set out to imitate Christ who was called and sent by the Father to do his will to bring life and salvation to the world (cf. Heb 10: 5-8). Consecrating themselves to our Lord through Mary, they live their total self-giving through the practice of the Evangelical counsels. In the wide and varied world of suffering, the SODC members set out to share with everyone else a path of growth and maturity in the faith, so that the light of Easter can enable all men and women to discover that they are called to find the meaning of their own suffering and to proclaim the joy of salvation. This spirituality of communion with the crucified and risen Christ is pursued through an organic pastoral ministry, and an apostolate that values the worth of each one who suffers without distinction.
Organisation:  SODC is divided into a male branch and a female branch, each headed by their respective leaders. The Association is governed by a Council, chaired by a Moderator who implements the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly. The members of the SODC take part in the life of the Association in two ways: either practising the common life, or living alone or with their own families. Whichever they choose, this state of life is considered to be permanent and is permitted whatever the physical state of health. The members have the same rights and the same duties, respecting the differences and peculiarities of their own particular state of life, the form of participation they have chosen, and the branch to which they belong. The clerical associates perform their ministry for the purposes of the Association on the basis of agreements between their bishop and the members of the SODC. The bishops who wish to live the spirit of the Association and support its apostolate are known as aggregate members.

Members:  There are presently 150 members of the Association in five countries: Europe (4), and Middle East (1)

Works:  SODC members work in the field of social welfare and rehabilitation through different types of structures depending upon the services performed: they manage spirituality and accommodation houses in Jerusalem, Fatima (Portugal), Glogow (Poland); they organise courses of spiritual exercises for the sick and the ablebodied who are  members of associations linked to SODC.

Publications:  L’Ancora, a monthly information and educational magazine; L’Ancora nell’unità di salute, a six monthly scientific research and discussion magazine

Associazione Silenziosi Operai della Croce
Via dei Bresciani, 2 - 00186 Roma - Italy
Tel. [+39]066877127- 066877070 - Fax [+39]066868032
Email: apostolato@sodcvs.org

The Community of the Beatitudes..

founded in France in 1973 by Ephraim, his wife Jo, and another couple Jean-Marc and Mireille, is one of the new communities expressing new forms of "consecrated" life.

The Community is - according to Canon Law - a Private Association of the Faithful, established in the archdiocese of Albi (France) in 1985. Its members seek to answer God’s call by consecrating their lives to God and committing themselves in a community life, both contemplative and apostolic.

CHARISM : The community - as people of God - gathers in a spirit of chastity people of all states of life: married couples, brothers and sisters, celibates, deacons and priests living according to the principles of the first Christian community. The brothers and sisters of the Community of the Beatitudes make commitments of prayer, obedience and poverty.

SPIRITUALITY AND APOSTOLATE : All members strive to live the Beatitudes in a spirit of contemplative prayer and solicitude for the poor, donating themselves with joy and enthusiasm in their apostolate in the service of the Roman Catholic Church: parishes, youth, families or media.

GROWTH : 1500 members : 250 couples ; 400 consecrated sisters and brothers (of whom 100 are seminarians); 75 priests and the remainder in celibates. 86 houses in the five continents include 37 in France, 24 in the rest of Europe, 11 in Africa, 4 in the Americas, 7 in Asia and Oceania, and 3 in the Middle East.

From:  http://www.the-beatitudes.org/-English

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Chiara Lubich - The Founder of the Focolare Movement

Born in 1920 in the northern Italian city of Trento, Lubich was baptised Silvia but changed it to Chiara (Clare) on joining the Franciscan Third Order in her teens. She was brought up with the traditional Catholic piety of her mother but was equally strongly influenced by her father's socialist and anti-fascist views.

Chiara Lubich was a 24-year-old primary school teacher when she launched her movement with a group of young women, some of them former pupils, in her native Trento in 1944. Despite its homespun name - focolare means hearth - the fledgeling organisation had a revolutionary impact on the stagnating Catholicism of its time.

Many of its innovations - a reassessment of the importance of the laity, a return to scripture, a joyful liturgy using popular tunes of the day, an emphasis on the key gospel message of love and unity - anticipated the direction that the Second Vatican Council would take 20 years later.

In the final years of the Second World War, Trento, still under German occupation, endured heavy Allied bombing. With death staring them in the face, Lubich and her disciples felt the urgency of penetrating to the heart of the Christian message by closely studying the gospels. By candle-light in a makeshift air-raid shelter, they discovered the biblical phrase that was to be their inspiration for the next 60 years: “That all may be one” (John xvii, 21). Unity, achieved through mutual love, became the watchword of the group from that day on. Not surprisingly, the practice of reading the New Testament drew accusations of Protestantism and the predilection for the word “unity” aroused suspicions of communism.

Early followers were amazed that the movement could achieve unity between members from Trento and the nearby city of Bolzano: this was an improbable achievement in a country famous for its campanilismo (local chauvinism). But already Lubich had set her sights on a far more ambitious goal. For her, “That all may be one” could mean nothing less than the unity of all mankind. It was this vision and single-mindedness that propelled the astonishing growth of the nascent community. By the end of the 1940s Focolare had spread throughout Italy; in the next decade it fanned out across Europe and by the end of the 1960s it had reached every continent. But Lubich never saw her movement as of a purely religious nature. As early as 1948, when she moved the Focolare headquarters to Rome, she visited the Italian parliament where she met Igino Giordani, a founding member of the Christian Democrat Party. Giordani, who had a lifelong fascination with St Catherine of Siena, saw in this young provincial woman a 20th-century Catherine, whose ideas would influence not only the Church but also the political and social fields. Then in his fifties, the veteran politician became Lubich's most devoted follower and was regarded by her as a co-founder of the movement.

The Italian Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi, another Trentino and one of the founding fathers of the European Union, was also impressed, becoming a disciple. Much later this aspect of Lubich's activities resulted in a new school of economics - the Economy of Communion, which applied the movement's practice of sharing material goods to business enterprises - and the International Political Movement for Unity, which encouraged cross-party collaboration and drew such political luminaries as Romano Prodi, who collaborated with Lubich on a number of projects.

After a gruelling examination by the pre-conciliar Holy Office, much of it directed at Lubich herself by the notoriously conservative Cardinal Ottaviani, Focolare was granted official Vatican approval in the mid-1960s. In this period Lubich was founding new branches for priests, religious, seminarians, young people, professionals, families - even toddlers had their own special section. She had begun to establish model towns intended to serve as laboratories for the reconstruction of society - today there are 20 of them around the globe, although the founder envisaged there should eventually be a thousand.

As early as the 1950s Lubich enthusiastically took up the cause of ecumenism, then almost unthinkable in Catholic circles. Relations with German Lutherans began in 1959, while in the early 1960s the first contacts were established with Anglicans in the UK. The close personal rapport between Lubich and Patriarch Athenagoras of Constantinople led to Lubich acting as something of an emissary between the Orthodox leader and Pope Paul VI.

Later she became involved in multi-faith dialogue and in 1994 was appointed an honorary president of the World Conference for Religion and Peace.

She was the first Christian and the first woman to preach in the Malcolm X Mosque in Harlem, New York, where in May 1997 she addressed 3,000 African-American Muslims. By special permission of the Vatican, Focolare was the first Catholic organisation to admit members of other Christian churches and other faiths to its communities.

In her late eighties Lubich's activities, particularly outside the movement, actually increased and she received numerous civic awards and honorary degrees. To mark her 80th birthday in January 2000, in an extraordinary letter of homage Pope John Paul II, who had made a practice of calling her personally each year on the feast of Saint Clare, hailed her as “a messenger of unity and mercy among many brothers and sisters in every corner of the world”.

Her religious awards included the Templeton Prize for Religion presented by the Duke of Edinburgh at Guildhall in 1977 and the Order of St Augustine, which she received from Archbishops Runcie and Carey.

Although in the 1940s and 1950s her movement had been in the vanguard of Catholicism, by the end of the 1990s, it was doctrinally firmly in the Church's conservative camp - a trajectory not unlike that of Opus Dei, an organisation that in many ways it resembles.

In spite of her innovations, her work for ecumenism and interfaith understanding, Lubich was at heart a traditionalist, inspired as much by Catholicism's illustrious past as the possibilities for its future. John Paul II chose his words advisedly when he hailed her as “a great Catholic”.

Chiara Lubich, founder of the Focolare movement, was born on January 22, 1920. She died on March 14, 2008, aged 88

Article from:  http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article3555290.ece

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Journey to Monastic Life........

A Monk’s Journey Br. Damian Banks

The problem with trying to work out how your life has taken you to a monastery is that the temptation to find a pattern is hard to resist. For instance, although I was not raised a Catholic I was aware of the church due to having attended a Catholic primary school attached to the local parish. The parish church was staffed by monks of the English Benedictine Congregation, from Belmont Abbey. During a rather unsettled period of my secondary education I would clandestinely attend Mass there at lunchtime for several years, for reasons I found hard to articulate.

When I later converted to Catholicism in 1996 at University, the parish where I converted was also run by monks of Belmont Abbey. This parish, in Swansea, had formally been under the care of Douai Abbey, the English Benedictine monastery I would later enter as a postulant. Given the number of times the English Benedictines occur in my life story it may seem inevitable that I thought of joining them. And yet that’s not the way it seemed at the time.

I was raised in a very loving, rather Evangelical family. Yet despite the excellent spiritual input I received outside the Catholic Church, it was within the Church that I found the space and freedom within which to develop my relationship with God.

I had become aware before I converted that there was something that God wanted me to do as a Catholic and I was full of enthusiasm to find out what it was. Inevitably I thought of a vocation. Unfortunately none of the doors I tried seemed to open, and after a while frustration began to set in.

Over the ten years following University my perspective on life was darkened by various other factors, which as well as the usual romantic disappointments and the grind of transitory, unskilled work also included some bad habits that seemed to be running my life for me.

So, ten years after entering the Church I was feeling alienated from the Church in particular and Christianity in general. Mercifully, in 2006 I went on a pilgrimage to Assisi organized by the Conventual Franciscans which really turned my life around. Kneeling in the chapel of San Damiano I grew to appreciate Gods merciful love for me shown through the forgiveness he extended even before my many mistakes. On my return to the UK I managed to find work, friends, and some support to tackle the problems and mistakes that had hamstrung me over the last ten years. After years of something close to despair about ever getting to a place where I could serve God as He deserved I even started thinking about whether I had a vocation.

I visited Douai Abbey for the first time in January 2007, and the first time I entered the Abbey Church I got a sense that the God whom I had come to appreciate in Assisi was here too.

Following Postulancy, I was clothed as a Novice (and received the name Damian) in November 2008. In 2010 I will make Temporary Vows for three years of obedience, stability and, what is intriguingly called, ‘conversatio morum’, or conversion of manners. These vows describe a whole integrated process of conversion, a turning away from myself towards God.. I hope that when the Abbot and Community see fit I will take Solemn Vows which will reconfirm my commitment and make it lifelong. The whole of life in a monastery is centered on putting this commitment into practice on a daily and mundane level, through prayer and service.

The guiding aim of my life is to belong to God. What is so attractive to me about monasticism is that it is not just an aspiration or a private commitment. As you go through the formation process you come to belong to God legally, hence the dispossession of your goods before Solemn Vows and the binding of yourself to obedience. These are signs that you don’t belong to yourself anymore, you belong to God.. This is what matters most to me in my life, and the goal I want to orientate my life around.

Article from..http://www.ukvocation.org/a-monks-journey

The Legion of Mary.......

Our Lady of Confidence - Help us in our Vocation to serve Christ and His Church.....

The image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, painted by Carlo Maratta [1625-1713], is widely known for its spiritual efficacy. In an apparition to a nun in the late 1600's, Our Lady promised a particular tenderness toward herself to all who venerate her image, known as Our Lady of Confidence.

When  Carlo Maratta was 25 years old, his work was so well received that he was brought to Rome by Cardinal Albrizio and the governor of his home district of Ancona. After his introduction to Pope Alexander VII he received many commissions, which brought him renown throughout Europe. He was eventually knighted by Pope Clement XI in the year 1704 and was made court painter by Louis XIV during the same year.

Known for his portraits, especially those of the popes and portraits of the Madonna and Child, his religious works are said to be "marked by a certain strength and nobility, coupled with a gracious harmony."  Never was this more true and in a special manner than this picture of Our Lady of Confidence, which came into the possession of Sister Chiara Isabella Fornari [1697-1744], a young nun of the Poor Clare Convent at Todi, Italy. It is believed that the artist gave the image to the young nun. Because of this special image, Sister Chiara Isabella and the other sisters were drawn to a deep and intimate relationship with Our Lady, who showed her approval through unusual cures and conversions.

Our Lady once indicated her liking for the portrait by appearing to Sister Chiara Isabella, when the Blessed Virgin promised the nun that she would grant a particular tenderness and devotion toward herself to everyone who venerates her image in the picture of Our Lady of Confidence. Combined with the aspiration, "My Mother, my confidence," this devotion has proven especially efficacious.

Because of the number of requests, copies of the portrait were made. One was placed in the small students' chapel of St. Mary's Seminary at the Lateran Basilica in Rome. During World War I, over 100 seminarians who were forced into the armed services of Italy returned home safely, the special grace, attributed to Our Lady of Confidence, and it was this favor which prompted the seminarians to crown both Mother and Child with diadems of gold and jewels.

While a student at the seminary, Pope John XXIII became a devotee of Our Lady of Confidence. He frequently visited the holy image and honored it still more by offering his first Mass in its presence. Afterward, he continued his visits to Our Lady of Confidence and offered Mass there, especially on the second Sunday in Lent, the Feast of Our Lady of Confidence.

In the image, notice that the Christ Child points towards His Mother, the source of graces and confidence.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

From the Book, Reform of Renewal - By Fr. Benedict Groeschel C.F.R

Personal Reform: The Place to Start
In his History of the Popes, Ludwig Pastor credits a Genovese laywoman, Catherine Adorno (Saint Catherine of Genoa), with beginning the effective reform of the Church on the eve of the Reformation.(3) She lived in the worst of spiritual times. The attempted reform of the Church at the Fourth Lateran Council failed because bishops did not take seriously the call for reform and were embroiled in their own corruption and confusion. Although there were good Christians everywhere in the hierarchy, clergy and laity, there were so much ignorance, scandal and materialism that few seriously heeded the call to reform.

Catherine began a movement of personal individual reform called the Oratory of Divine Love. It was basically no more than a series of prayer groups, in which individuals strove to lead a good Christian life guided by the Scriptures and the lives of the saints and motivated to do works of charity. Catherine herself was director of a huge hospital for the poor. She died in 1511. Martin Luther was actually one of the many people who felt her influence and was struggling to work for the reform of the Church at that time. Catherine's work was not in vain, even though the split in Christianity came, because she began the Catholic Reformation and even influenced the piety of Protestantism.(4)

Catherine's deep conviction was that reform had to begin with the individual. She lived in a time when the reform of the Church itself was needed. Not only were her prayer groups, or oratories, as they were called, very popular, but also her movement affected in one way or another almost every major Catholic reformer after her death. The great reformers of the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century all assumed that her basic principle was correct, namely, that reform had to begin with the individual. They all agreed that reform must be founded on prayer and expressed by charity to one's neighbor, especially the poor, and by love of God. All the Catholic reformers insisted on a deep personal piety, which psychologically galvanized all the potentials of the individual into action: intelligence, memory, will, emotion and even the intuitive powers.

Where Does the Individual Begin?
Clare of Assisi and Catherine of Genoa scarcely ever left their hometowns, and when they did, they stayed in the immediate neighborhood. They began where they were. Clare was led by Christ through Francis, and Catherine claimed to be led only by the Holy Spirit. They began their reforms right where they were, and they began with repentance and continued on with constant self-examination and reliance on God. Like the modern members of Alcoholics Anonymous, they acknowledged their powerlessness to do anything without help from above. They confessed that they were poor sinners, worked for others and made amends for what they believed were their faults. As we mentioned in Chapter Two, the twelve steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (see Appendix One) are classic descriptions of any truly Christian conversion, including the conversion of these two great women saints.

Clare's poverty and Catherine's total dedication to the divine will are both reflections of the absolutism of repentance. Each speaks of the total desire to do God's will as it is known and to accept the vicissitudes of life as His permissive will. Both of these attitudes are reflected in the famous Serenity Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous:

Prayer for Serenity

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and wisdom to know the difference.

The absolutism of conversion — something that in itself goes against the grain of contemporary selfism — is perhaps best expressed in the total acceptance of God's will, which is the very heart of the poverty of Francis and Clare and the motivating force of the divine love of Catherine of Genoa.

Along with seeking personal reform in the various departments of life that we have outlined in the previous chapters, the individual must be willing to work to accept the divine will in all its mysteries. This is the key to true reform.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. "Reform in the Church and in Society." In The Reform of Renewal (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1990), 185-199.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel, CFR  the founder of the Trinity  Retreat Center, for prayer and study for the clergy. He holds a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University. He is one of the founding members of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal which is dedicated to preaching, reform and providing care for the homeless in the South Bronx, Harlem, London and Honduras. He is the author of a large number of books and tapes, including The King Crucified and Risen: Meditations on the Passion and Glory of ChristArise from DarknessFrom Scandal to Hope (2002); The Cross at Ground Zero (2001); Praying in the Presence of the Lord with the Saints (2001); The Journey Toward God (2000); In the Presence of Our Lord: The History, Thought and Psychology of Eucharistic Devotion (1996); A Still Small Voice: A Practical Guide on Reported Revelations (1993); and The Reform of Revewal

Good Shepherd Sunday - Vocations Sunday

Section of Homily on Vocations Sunday in 2008 given by Fr. Frank Pavone, of Priests for Life

Seedbed for Vocations

It is in presenting to the world this “fundamental way,” this vision of the sacred dignity of the human individual shepherded to life in Christ, that the Church most effectively promotes vocations. Today is “Vocations Sunday.” We pray that many will hear the call to the priesthood, the call to devote themselves fully to the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ, which is the Gospel of Life, and to shepherd God’s people in the very person of Christ.

Many young people today are finding their vocation precisely because of the Church’s witness to the sanctity of life amidst the holocaust of abortion. Responding to a vocation requires counter-cultural service, which is precisely the context that the pro-life movement offers. Devoting oneself to the defense of life provides a powerful seedbed for the flowering of priestly vocations, just as a response to a priestly vocation is necessarily a commitment to the defense of life.

Let us pray today for many “good shepherds,” and let us encourage those who have already accepted that call.

Full homily can be found here,  http://www.cuf.org/homilies/archive/041308.asp

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Man of the Eight Beatitudes

I urge you with all the strength of my soul to approach the Eucharist Table as often as possible. Feed on this Bread of the Angels from which you will draw the strength to fight inner struggles.

The School of the Cross - For Lay Men

Here is the description of the School of the Cross which appears in the Directory of International Associations of the Faithful, published by the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Official name: School of the Cross

Established: 1965

History: School of the Cross was founded in the rural parish of St. Isidro Labrador, in the Diocese of Villarhermosa, Mexico, by Father Francisco Javier Asencio Dávalos, a professed brother of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit.

After spreading to about a thousand parishes and virtually all the dioceses of Mexico, in 1987 it was established by the Church authorities as a national association of the faithful, and within a few years it reached the United States of America.

On May 22, 1994, the Pontifical Council for the Laity decreed Escuela de la Cruz to be an international association of the faithful of Pontifical right.

Identity: School of the Cross participates in the Church's mission by creating communities of apostles to bear witness to the spirituality of the cross in the spiritual order and the temporal order.

The members of the association undertake to live in intimate union with the crucified heart of Jesus Christ, priest-victim-altar, to "be priests with their priest," and in particular to support their own parish priest in the performance of his ministry. They are united by the realization that they are sons of God, chosen by Jesus to take part in his mission by helping one another to live the Gospel and the spirituality of the cross, to the heroism of love.

Organization: Only men may join School of the Cross, both laymen (indigenous, small farmers and workers living in the most deprived parishes) and priests, responsible for the pastoral care of a parish. The association is structured into small groups of 5-9 people.

Membership: School of the Cross has about 200,000 lay members and almost 200 parish priests, and is present in two North American countries.


Escuela de la Cruz
Mirador s/n, Esq. Andador Cocos
Col. El Rosal
10600 M. Contreras
D.F. — Mexico

Tel. (52) 56-683943 — Fax 55-953583

The Core Ideas--the Vision of the Catholic Worker Movement

The person who created the Catholic Worker philosophy, and in partnership with Dorothy Day, lived the vision of the Catholic Worker movement, is Peter Maurin.

Peter Maurin taught Dorothy Day not everything she knew, but just about everything.

They met in 1933, Peter having been sent to Dorothy Day by George Schuster of Commonweal magazine. He had sought out Dorothy Day particularly because she was a journalist, hoping she would publish a newspaper where his ideas would be expressed. Dorothy Day was not too sure about Peter at first, as he talked too much with a heavy French accent, but her sister Tessa had welcomed him to their apartment and she listened.

Dorothy had gone to Washington, D. C. to cover a hunger march of the unemployed. During this time she felt very strongly the separation from her previous friends who were protesting under the socialist banner. Where, now that she was a Catholic, could she find a way to use her talents for her fellow workers, for the poor? On December 8 of 1932 (the Feast of the Immaculate Conception) she went to the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception at Catholic University there in Washington and spent the morning in prayer, asking God to help her find a way to integrate her new faith with her concern for the poor. (Ironically, this is the same day, December 8 on which the editors of the Houston Catholic Worker met, years later).

When she returned to New York, Peter Maurin was waiting for her.

Dorothy described her favorable impression of Peter in her autobiography, saying, "I found waiting for me a short, stocky man in his mid-fifties, as ragged and rugged as any of the marchers I had left. He was intensely alive, on the alert, even when silent, engaged in reading or in thought. When he talked, the tilt of his head, his animated expression, the warm glow in his eyes, the gestures of his hand, his shoulders, his whole body, compelled your attention."

Dorothy noted things at that first meeting, characteristics of Peter that were confirmed in the years she knew him: "He spoke in terms of ideas, rather than personalities. While others were always analyzing, talking about one another, using one another's lives and attitudes to illustrate ideas, Peter was always impersonal, delicately scrupulous never to talk about others, never to make the derogatory remark."

According to her book, The Long Loneliness, when he met Dorothy, Peter began at once on what he called her education. For weeks afterward he came every afternoon and talked for hours about his ideas--about a Catholic outline of history, about the lives of the saints, the teachings of the early Church writers, contemporary personalist philosophy and the program of action he had developed to implement the Gospels and Catholic social teaching--the teaching of the Popes. He made many suggestions for Dorothy's reading.
The program of action that Peter Maurin presented to Dorothy consisted in roundtable discussions for the clarification of thought, houses of hospitality (where Catholics could practice the works of mercy as outlined in Matthew 25:31ff. and in Church tradition), and agronomic universities. These actions were to be taken in the framework of a life centered on cult, culture and cultivation, or in other words, worship, learning and the land.

Peter did not "spoon feed" Dorothy. He used a "soup ladle." He was very persistent, since he was looking for apostles to share his work. What Dorothy found to be most striking was Peter's "correlation of the material and the spiritual." Here was the integration of work and faith that she had been seeking.

Above article and more information from:  http://www.cjd.org/paper/maurin.html

Friday, 13 May 2011

The First Religious Community to establish Perpetual Adoration in Ireland..

In Drumshanbo, there is the emphasis on living the Eucharistic life with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the spirit of reparation. This can be found outlined in the prayer composed by Mother St. Joseph which each sister says at the beginning of the time of Adoration
Little in their wildest dreams did three young English women imagine that when they answered God’s call to leave all and to follow him they would eventually end up becoming a shining light of hope and comfort in a remote part of the North West of Ireland.

They were to be the first religious community in Ireland to establish Perpetual Adoration. This practice has continued unbroken to the present day. Countless people come to pray with the Drumshanbo community and to seek the prayers of the sisters either at the convent door or by writing.

Bessie Law and Mary Ann Hayes were Anglicans. Bessie who became Mother Elizabeth, had become disillusioned with the bright social life that surrounded her youth, and with her close friend Mary Ann Hayes, (Sr. Catherine) they decided to found a small Anglican Community of Sisters in 1850.

However a year later, October 1851, both were received into the Catholic Church. Shortly afterwards they were joined in their vision by Frances Horne (Mother St. Joseph) a 19 year old Catholic, who also had leanings towards religions life

Initially, the three joined the secular Franciscans as Tertiaries. Under the guidance of Cardinal Wiseman, they went to Paris to begin their formal religious formation in the Franciscan Convent of St. Elizabeth, 40 Rue St. Louis-au Moruis.

On completion of their Novitiate they returned to London where they made their first Foundation in Halton Rd. They called themselves The Sisters of the Third Order of Penance of St. Francis. Their chief Apostolate was prayer for the conversion of England.

Early days and eventual arrival in Drumshanbo in 1864

The early days were difficult. They were forced to move several times and eventually accepted an invitation to make their foundation in Ireland in Gorey. Later, circumstances forced the community to seek a new location.

Finally, nine sisters arrived in Drumshanbo in 1864, a quiet town nestling on the shores of Lough Allen surrounded by majestic mountains. They quickly took root and flourished. The townspeople, poor as they were, gave them a warm welcome and to this day have continued to support the community generously.

Marian and Fanny Grattan, grand daughters of Henry Grattan joined the community in those early days. They had a considerable influence on the development of the community. Marian later became Mother Agnes. Due to poor health, Fanny could not join her but generously supported the community by giving all her inheritance.


Perpetual Adoration

Over the years the community grew in numbers until eventually Divine Providence ordained that the time had come to inaugurate Perpetual Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Mother St. Joseph was the instrument God used for this mission, which commenced on 25th March 1870 and has continued to the present day.

The community lived out their hidden and silent life of prayer, penance and Perpetual Adoration until
Vatican II.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Vocations to the Priesthood

Consecrated Virginity

What is the Consecration of a Virgin?

The Consecration of a Virgin is one of the oldest sacramentals in the Church, and one of the fruits of Vatican II was the restoration of this profound blessing on virgins living in the world.

The promulgation of this restored Rite for laywomen was on 31 May 1970.

Through this sacramental, the virgin, after renewing her resolve of perpetual virginity to God, is set aside as a sacred person who belongs only to Christ. The acting agent in the Consecration is God Himself who accepts the virgin's promise and spiritually fructifies it through the action of the Holy Spirit.

This sacramental is reserved to the bishop of the diocese. The consecrated virgin shares
intimately in the nature and mission of the Church--she is a living image of the Church's love for her Spouse while sharing in His redemptive mission.

The consecrated virgin living in the world embodies a definitive vocation in itself. She is not a quasi-Religious, nor is she in a vocation that is in the process of becoming a Religious institute or congregation. Nevertheless, she is a consecrated person, with her bishop as her guide. By virtue of the Consecration, she is responsible to pray for her diocese and clergy. At no time is her diocese responsible for her financial support.

The consecrated virgin living in the world, as expressed in Canon 604, is irrevocably "consecrated to God, mystically espoused to Christ and dedicated to the service of the Church, when the diocesan bishop consecrates [her] according to the approved liturgical rite." The consecrated virgin attends Mass daily (if possible), prays the Divine Office, and spends much time in private prayer. She can choose the Church-approved spirituality she prefers to follow.
Supporting herself by earning her own living, the consecrated virgin is not obliged to take on any particular work or apostolate. Usually, consecrated virgins in the United States volunteer their time to their local parish, diocese, or Church-sponsored association. Some volunteer their time also in civic responsibilities.

More informaton from:  http://www.consecratedvirgins.org/

The Little Brothers of St. Francis

The Little Brothers of St. Francis

This Community of Brothers was founded in 1970 in the Archdiocese of Boston by  Br.James Curran.   They belong to the Third Order Regular of St. Francis.  Their charism as Br. Curran says is  “To follow Jesus in the footsteps of Saint Francis as a non-clerical community of religious brothers (not ordained to the priesthood), embracing a life of contemplative prayer, Eucharistic Adoration, and solidarity with the lepers of our society.”  

Their Friaries are located in poor inner city neighbourhoods.  The Brothers seek to live poor among the poor as a prayerful presence in Christ's Eucharistic presence. 

For more information on their Community you can check their website at http://www.littlebrothersofstfrancis.org/