Friday, August 31, 2007

Benedict XVI Praying for Ecumenical Event

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 31, 2007 ( Benedict XVI is asking prayers so that the 3rd Ecumenical Assembly will be a step toward unity.

The ecumenical gathering, to be held in Sibiu, Romania, next Tuesday through Thursday, will be the Pope's prayer intention for this month, according to the Apostleship of Prayer.

The Holy Father's general intention for the month of September is: "That the ecumenical assembly of Sibiu in Romania may contribute to the growth of unity among all Christians, for whom the Lord prayed at the Last Supper."

His apostolic intention is: "That, following Christ joyfully, all missionaries may know how to overcome the difficulties they meet in everyday life."

Pope burnishes green credentials

USA Today - 2 hours, 31 minutes ago

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI is taking a new step in the Vatican's environmental campaign, leading a youth festival this weekend where participants will use recycled prayer books, biodegradable plates and backpacks made from reused nylon.

About 300,000 young Roman Catholics are expected to attend the festival in Loreto, home of Italy's most famous Marian shrine, in a run-up to next year's World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.

The festival coincides with the church's "Save Creation Day" and has a decidedly eco-friendly theme. Each participant will be given a knapsack made of recycled nylon containing a hand-cranked battery recharger, three sets of biodegradable plates and three bags for recycling trash.

Prayer books for Benedict's Sunday Mass are made of recycled paper, hydrogen cars will be on display and trees will be planted in areas of southern Italy recently devastated by forest fires to make up for the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the festival, organizers said.

"The message about caring for the environment will be entrusted not just with words, but with the young people's gestures and the things they use," said the Rev. Paolo Giulietti.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Mother Teresa Persevered Through Doubt

A Light in the 21st Century's "Dark Night"

By Elizabeth Lev

ROME, AUG. 30, 2007 ( As a respected Boston lawyer once remarked of recent biographies, "It's tough times for the dead." A case in point was the cover of last week's Time magazine. Splashed across the front page ran the headline "The Secret Life of Mother Teresa," accompanied by the gloomiest picture you ever saw of the saintly nun.

With its sensationalist title, Time magazine not only descended to the level of tabloid journalism, but betrayed a woeful ignorance of the meaning of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta's spiritual journey.

Capitulating to the fad of finding the sordid behind the glitter, where titles like "Britney's Breakdown" or "Lindsay in Crisis" are guaranteed to boost sales, the article itself feeds into the mentality that things are never as pretty as they seem. In our age of masking our own shortcomings by pointing out the flaws in others, it suggests that Mother Teresa's joyous love of the poor hid a darker, almost sinister side.

Recent interest in the extraordinary founder of the Missionaries of Charity stemmed from the recently published book "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light." Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator for the cause of canonization of the saintly nun who died in 1997, compiled her letters and writings, including a number that revealed Teresa's spiritual trials.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI--"The supreme human good is found in Christianty"

Pope Benedict in St. Peter's Square

Vatican City, Aug 29, 2007 / 09:48 am (CNA).- The purpose of all learning and culture is the discernment of the supreme human good, and this supreme good is found in Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI said today under sunny skies in St. Peter’s Square.

To illustrate his point, the Holy Father dedicated the Wednesday Audience to St. Gregory of Nyssa, a 4th century Early Church Father. “Gregory’s outstanding education and intellectual gifts led him first to teaching. He then embraced the ascetic life, and eventually was ordained Bishop of Nyssa”, the Pope recalled.

The Pope also explained how, like the other Cappadocian [modern day Turkey] Fathers of that time, Gregory contributed greatly to defense of the faith in the period following the Council of Nicaea, and played a leading role at the Council of Constantinople, which defined the divinity of the Holy Spirit. His contribution to theology, he said, was “like a work of art”.

In many of his writings, St. Gregory emphasizes that “our creation in the image of God, our royal vocation as stewards of the created order, and our responsibility to cultivate our inner beauty, which is a participation in the uncreated beauty of the Creator,” said the Holy Father.

“For Gregory, the purpose of all learning and culture is the discernment of the supreme human good, the truth that enables us to find authentic and lasting fulfillment. This supreme good is found in Christianity,” the Pope said, because in Christianity it is “possible to imitate the divine nature”.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pope provides in-depth look at drama of real “Jesus of history” and rise of the early Church

San Francisco, Aug 28, 2007 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- In his new book, Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church (Ignatius), Pope Benedict XVI shows clearly the real relationship between Christ and His Church by way of His earliest followers. Despite what many modern-day “profiles” of Jesus and the Apostles seek to put forth, the Pope shows that Jesus’ first disciples faithfully conveyed the truth about Him, and conscientiously laid the foundations for the growth of the Church.

The new hardcover book tells of the unique drama of Christ’s first disciples – his Apostles and their immediate successors – and how they spread His message throughout the ancient world, remaining faithful to it even at the expense of their own lives.

In just 163 pages, Jesus, the Apostles and the Early Church presents a clear, undistorted picture of Christ and His early Church – through which the faithful today can still know the real Jesus. The book is intended to have wide appeal to all Christians, with its focus on the authentic, historical Jesus and the genuine story of His first disciples.

The Holy Father engenders among his readers a newfound appreciation and understanding of the individual and very active roles the soldiers for the young Church played, as he draws upon Scripture and tradition to present a fascinating journey back to the origins of Christianity.

“Before being sent out to preach, they [the Apostles] had to “be” with Jesus (cf Mark 3:14), establishing a personal relationship with him,” says the Pope in the book. Then after Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, He would send his Apostles “to the whole creation” (Mark 16: 15), to “all nations” (Matthew 28: 19; Luke 24: 47), “to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). “And this mission continues,” says the Pope, “this is our hope and our mandate…”.

Mother Teresa's Dark Night Unique, Says Preacher

Father Cantalamessa Calls Her Saint of the Media Age

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 27, 2007 ( Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta's dark night of the soul kept her from being a victim of the media age and exalting herself, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said this in an interview with Vatican Radio, commenting on previously unpublished letters from Mother Teresa, now made public in Doubleday's book "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light," edited by Father Brian Kolodiejchuk, postulator of the cause of Mother Teresa's canonization.

In one of her letters, Mother Teresa wrote: "There is so much contradiction in my soul. Such deep longing for God -- so deep that it is painful -- a suffering continual -- and yet not wanted by God -- repulsed -- empty -- no faith -- no love -- no zeal. Souls hold no attraction. Heaven means nothing -- to me it looks like an empty place."

Father Cantalamessa explained that the fact that Mother Teresa suffered deeply from her feeling of the absence of God affirms that it was a positive phenomenon. Atheists, he contended, are not afflicted by God's absence but, "for Mother Teresa, this was the most terrible test that she could have experienced."

He further clarified that "it is the presence-absence of God: God is present but one does not experience his presence."


Father Cantalamessa contended that Mother Teresa's spiritual suffering makes her even greater.

He said: "The fact that Mother Teresa was able to remain for hours in front of the Blessed Sacrament, as many eye-witnesses have testified, as if enraptured … if one thinks about the condition she was in at that moment, that is martyrdom!

"Because of this, for me, the figure of Mother Teresa is even greater; it does not diminish her."

The Capuchin priest further lauded Mother Teresa's ability to keep her spiritual pain hidden within her. "Maybe, this was done in expiation for the widespread atheism in today's world," he said, adding that she lived her experience of the absence of God "in a positive way -- with faith, with God."

Not scandalous

Father Cantalamessa affirmed that Mother Teresa's dark night should not scandalize or surprise anyone. The "dark night," he said, "is something well-known in the Christian tradition; maybe new and unheard of in the way Mother Teresa experienced it."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Vatican flights offer heavenly prices for pilgrims

Times Online
August 28, 2007

Richard Owen in Rome

For once, the phrase “on a wing and a prayer” could be taken literally. Yesterday 140 pilgrims lifted off from Fiumicino airport, Rome, on the Vatican’s first low-cost charter flight service to Lourdes, in a Boeing 737 with the papal logo and a crew trained “in voyages of a sacred nature”.

Vatican City does not have its own aircraft, let alone an airport. Instead, it has struck a deal with Mistral Air, an Italian cargo carrier that is owned by the Italian post office.

For the inaugural flight the exterior was painted white and yellow – the papal colours – and the interior, including the headrests, was decorated with the inscription “I search for your face, Lord”. “As we take off we will say a prayer for pilgrims dating back to mediaeval times,” Father Caesar Atuire, of the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi (ORP), the Vatican organisation for pilgrims, told The Timesas the passengers boarded. Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Vicar of Rome, and head of ORP, said that whereas in the past pilgrims went on foot and train, now people were “short of time” yet needed “spiritual solace” more than ever. The Lourdes trip will be followed next year by other routes such as Fatima in Portugal, Santiago de Compostela in Spain and Czestochowa in Poland, as well as the Holy Land and eventually Guadalupe in Mexico.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

‘All can enter eternal life, but for everyone the door is narrow,’ says Pope Benedict in Angelus address

Sunday Angelus

Pope Benedict XVI delivering the Sunday Angelus address at Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo, Aug 26, 2007 / 09:33 am (CNA).- The way to eternal life is narrow because it is demanding, requires commitment and denial of one’s own selfishness, Pope Benedict XVI said today in his Sunday angelus address. He was referring to today’s Gospel in which Jesus calls on his followers to strive to enter the “‘narrow gate’ to eternal life, because many shall seek to enter in, and shall not be able”.

“What does the ‘narrow gate’ mean?”, the Pope asked pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo. “Why do many not succeed in entering through it? Is the way reserved for just a few elect?”

The Pope said it is often a trap and a temptation to interpret this passage as a reference to religious practice as a source of privilege or security. But in reality, “the message of Christ is actually quite the opposite”, the Pope explained. “All can enter eternal life, but for everyone, the door is narrow. They are not privileged. The path to the eternal life is open to all, but it is narrow because it’s demanding, asks for commitment, abnegation, and the mortification of selfishness”.

The Pope said that to pass through the narrow gate, means “we must commit ourselves to being small, that is humble of heart like Jesus; like Mary, His and our mother”. “Christians call upon Her as Ianua Caeli, Heaven’s Gate,” the Pope said. “Let us ask Her to guide us in our daily choices and take us to the path that leads to ‘Heaven’s Gate’.”

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reuters - Wed Aug 22, 5:25 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI (L) meets members of a Japanese kimono culture association after his weekly general audience at the Vatican August 22, 2007. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano (VATICAN)
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Friday, August 24, 2007

Father Cantalamessa on the Narrow Gate

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, AUG. 24, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from this Sunday's liturgy.

* * *

Enter Through the Narrow Gate
21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
Isaiah 66:18-21; Hebrews 12:5-7, 11-13; Luke 13:22-30

There is a question that has always nagged believers: Will there be many or few people saved? During certain periods this problem became so acute as to cause some people terrible anxiety.

This Sunday's Gospel informs us that Jesus himself was once asked this question. "Jesus passed through towns and villages, teaching as he went and making his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, 'Lord, will only a few people be saved?'"

The question, as we see, focuses on the number -- How many will be saved? Will it be many or few? In answering the question, Jesus shifts the focus from "how many" to "how" to be saved, that is, by entering "through the narrow gate."

We see this same attitude in regard to Jesus' second coming. The disciples ask "when" the return of the Son of Man will happen and Jesus answers indicating "how" we should prepare ourselves for that return, and what to do during the time of waiting (cf. Matthew 24:3-4).

Jesus' way of responding to these questions is not strange or discourteous. He is just acting in the way of one who wants to teach his disciples how to move from a life of curiosity to one of true wisdom; from the allure of idle questions to the real problems we need to grapple with in life.

From this we already see the absurdity of those who, like the Jehovah Witnesses, believe they know the precise number of the saved: 144,000.

This number, which recurs in the Book of Revelations has a purely symbolic value (the square of 12 -- the number of the tribes of Israel -- multiplied by 1,000) and is explained by the expression that immediately follows: "A great multitude that no man could number" (Revelations 7:4, 9).

Israeli president to see Pope Benedict on Italy trip

AFP via Yahoo! News
Fri Aug 24, 7:00 AM ET

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI will receive Israeli President Shimon Peres in a private audience at his summer residence outside Rome on September 6, the Vatican said Friday.

The two men have met before, in April last year, and when Peres became president in July the Roman Catholic pontiff urged him to work to "advance the cause of peace" in the Middle East.

Israel and the Holy See have long been in talks about the legal and financial status of the Roman Catholic church in the Jewish state.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

St. Teresa of Calcutta This Year?

Lay Group Prays for Anticipated Canonization

CALCUTTA, India, AUG. 23, 2007 ( This is the year for the canonization of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, or so hopes a group of Catholics in Calcutta.

The Catholic Association of Bengal, the largest lay organization of the Archdiocese of Calcutta, has declared 2007 the Year for the Canonization of Mother Teresa, AsiaNews reported.

The organization launched a two-week prayer campaign today, which will lead up to the 10th anniversary of the nun's death, with plans to continue the initial celebration until Sept. 23.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who founded the Missionaries of Charity, died Sept. 5, 1997, and was beatified in October 2003.

The organization's chairman, Eugene Gonsalves, told AsiaNews: "More than three years have passed since the title of 'blessed' was conferred on our beloved Mother Teresa.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

'Draw near to God to overcome weakness and find lasting joy and happiness', says Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, Aug 22, 2007 / 09:04 am (CNA).- By drawing near to God, we are able to overcome our weakness and find lasting joy and happiness, Pope Benedict XVI told the faithful today at his weekly General Audience.

As an example, the Holy Father held up St. Gregory Nazianzus, 4th century Doctor of the Church, in the second of a two-part reflection on the saint’s life.

“The life and teaching of Saint Gregory are a celebration of the divine love which is revealed in Christ”, the Pope told the pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI auditorium. “He felt the need to draw near to God to overcome his very real weariness”.

Benedict XVI recalled that for him, “within the drama of a life weighed down by the realization of weakness and misery, the knowledge and experience of God’s love always predominated. You have the duty of the soul, St Gregory tells us, the duty to find the true light, to find the true heights of your life.”

St. Gregory led by example, using his talents for the glory of God, the Pope explained, in particular his academic and oratory skills in countering controversies of the day. He forcefully defended the Church’s faith in one God in three equal and distinct persons, the Pope recalled, and upheld the full humanity of Christ. “To redeem man in his whole body, soul and spirit, Christ had to assume every part of human nature, otherwise man would not have been saved”, the Pope explained. “Against the heresy of Apollinare, who believed Jesus Christ had not assumed a rational soul, Gregory confronts the problem with the light of the mystery of the salvation”.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Father Cantalamessa on Division

Pontifical Household Preacher Comments on Sunday's Readings

ROME, AUG. 19, 2007 ( Here is a translation of a commentary by the Pontifical Household preacher, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, on the readings from today's liturgy.

* * *

I have come to bring division to the earth
20th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jeremiah 38:4-6, 8-10; Hebrews 12:1-4; Luke 12:49-57

This Sunday’s Gospel reading contains some of the most provocative words ever spoken by Jesus: "Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; a father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

And to think that the person who pronounced these words was the same whose birth was greeted by the words: "Peace on earth to men of good will," and that during his life he proclaimed: "Blessed are the peacemakers." The same person, when he was arrested, commanded Peter to "Put your sword back into its sheath!" (Matthew 26:52). How do we explain this contradiction?

It is very simple. It is a matter of seeing which peace and unity Jesus came to bring and which is the peace and unity he came to take away. He came to bring the peace and unity of the good, that which leads to eternal life, and he came to take away the false peace and unity, which serves only to lull the conscience to sleep and leads to ruin.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI says that true peace, the peace of Jesus, is not free from division

Sunday Angelus

Pope Benedict XVI at Castel Gandolfo

Castel Gandolfo, Aug 19, 2007 / 09:42 am (CNA).- “The peace that Jesus brings is the fruit of a constant struggle against evil”, Pope Benedict XVI told the faithful today. And he explained that that struggle can result in division.

The Holy Father was referring to today’s reading from the Gospel of Luke (12:51-53) in which Jesus presents his mission of bringing peace to the world. Quoting Jesus’ words in full, the Pope said: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

Contrary to a superficial reading of the Gospel, the pope told pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of his summer residence at Castel Gandolfo that anyone who “knows even the slightest about the Gospel knows that this is the message of peace par excellence”.

“As St Paul wrote, the crucified and risen Jesus is our peace”, the Holy Father said. He is the one who “battles against the wall of enmity to inaugurate the Kingdom of God that is love, joy and peace”. But the Pope, aware that this passage can be hard to understand, explained it further.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Catholics' Latin traditions are making a comeback

The Record Searchlight
David Yount
Saturday, August 18, 2007

By the time you read this, my wife and I will be in England on one of our twice-yearly visits. We look forward to Sundays in London, because it's when we worship at the Brompton Oratory, a vast baroque basilica built by John Henry Newman, the Victorian Anglican priest convert who became a Catholic cardinal.

Considering that the Younts are Quakers rather than Catholics, what is it that attracts us? It is the Oratory's Sunday 11 a.m. Solemn High Mass, featuring three priests, a choir singing Mozart, a brilliant sermon, plus the "smells and bells" associated with traditional worship. Mass is conducted in Latin.

We are not alone in being attracted. The church is always packed to overflowing with domestic Roman Catholics, not just curious tourists like ourselves. In passing, it's worth noting that England still has an established church of which the monarch is head. The monarch is neither permitted to be a Catholic nor to marry one. The recently retired prime minister, Tony Blair, respected this prohibition while in office, although (as a crypto-Catholic) he attended Mass with his Catholic wife and sent his children to Catholic schools.

I bring all of this up because Pope Benedict XVI recently relaxed rules that will allow Latin Masses for Catholics around the world. It was after the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s that the church opted for Mass in the vernacular and favored free-standing altars with the priest leading worship while facing the congregation. Churches built since then dispensed with altar rails, because they gave the impression of separating the people from their priest.

All of this reform, while well-intentioned, grated with many Catholics, because it was done in slipshod fashion. The old Latin Mass was hardly a model of lay participation, but it was ancient and predictable. Rushing into the vernacular, national churches in English-speaking nations tended to translate the old Latin into pedestrian English that lacked the dignity, authority and sonority long since achieved by the Book of Common Prayer.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Prison transfer for would-be papal assassin

Istanbul, Aug. 17, 2007 ( - Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II (bio - news) on May 13, 1981, is being moved to a new high-security prison in Turkey.

Agca will be moved from one prison in Ankara to another institution in Istanbul. He had requested the transfer in order to be closer to relatives.

Agca was sentenced to life imprisonment by an Italian court for the attempted assassination of the Pope. But he was pardoned in 2000 by Italian President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, who was acting with the tacit support of Pope John Paul after the Pontiff had encouraged gestures of pardon for prisoners as part of the celebration of the Jubilee Year. Upon his release from Italian prison, the Turkish gunman was handed over to authorities in his own country, to resume serving a 10-year prison term for an earlier murder conviction there. Agca had escaped from jail in Turkey in 1979 after serving less than 6 months of that term.

Earlier this month an acquaintance of the Turkish gunman said that Agca had promised to write a tell-all book about his effort to assassinate the Pope. The prospect for such a book-- tentatively entitled The Agca Code in an obvious imitation of the best-selling Da Vinci Code-- did not generate great excitement among European publishers. In the years since the attempted assassination, Agca has issued a number of different explanations for the crime, often contradicting himself and putting forward a variety of conspiracy theories.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Powerful Peru Quake Sparks Call for Prayer, Aid

Christian Post
By Eric Young
Christian Post Reporter
Thu, Aug. 16 2007 08:49 AM ET

Pope Benedict XVI offered prayers Thursday for the victims of Peru’s powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake and called for immediate assistance for the hundreds who were injured or made homeless.

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(Photo: AP Images / Martin Mejia)
A man leans over his child as residents injured during an earthquake that hit the area late Wednesday wait for care at a public hospital in Ica, southern Peru, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. A powerful 7.9-magnitude earthquake shook Peru's coast near the capital, killing at least 337 people and injuring more 827 others, the Civil Defense said early Thursday. The earthquake, which shook Peru's coast near the capital, has killed at least 337 people and injured 827, the Civil Defense said early Thursday.

In the town of Pisco, "the dead are scattered by the dozens on the streets," Mayor Juan Mendoza told Lima radio station CPN, sobbing.

He said at least 200 people were buried under the rumble of a church that collapsed while they were attending a religious service.

"[The Pope] encourages institutions and people of goodwill to offer the necessary help to those harmed, with a spirit of Christian solidarity and charity," the Vatican said in a telegram, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, according to Reuters.

Mistral Air to ferry pilgrims to holy sites on Vatican chartered flights

Rome, Aug 16, 2007 / 10:22 am (CNA).- A new Vatican-approved charter air service will launch later this month with a flight to the shrine of Lourdes in France. The guide will be Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the former head of the Italian Bishops Conference.

Mistral Air plans to shuttle Catholic pilgrims around the globe to holy sites, including the shrines of Fatima in Portugal and of Guadalupe in Mexico.

Its slogan is: "I'm Searching for Your Face, Lord".

"The spirit of this new initiative is to meet the growing demand by pilgrims to visit the most important sites for the faith," Fr. Cesare Atuire at the Vatican pilgrimage office, the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi, told La Repubblica daily.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"The protection of Mary accompanies us throughout our lives"--Pope Benedict XVI

Castel Gandolfo, Aug 15, 2007 / 09:17 am (CNA).- “The protection of Mary accompanies you throughout your life”, the Pope reminded the faithful today, before reciting the Angelus prayer on the Feast of the Assumption. The Holy Father also expressed his hope that her example may “inspire and sustain” those who follow Christ and so share in the glory of the Resurrection.

Addressing the crowd outside the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, the Pope explained that because Our Lady is now assumed into heaven, she “is not far from us, but rather remains ever closer to us, and her light is projected on our life and on the entire history of humanity.”

“Attracted by the celestial brilliance of the Mother of the Redeemer,” he said, “we resort with trust to the one on high, who watches us and protects us”.

The Feast of the Assumption, the Pope said, “reminds us that the Blessed Virgin Mary is one with her divine son and always in agreement with him”. Mother and Son, he added, are “closely associated in the struggle against the infernal enemy until there is complete victory over him”. That victory, he said, is over sin and death.

For this reason, the Pope went on, “just as the glorious resurrection of Christ was the definitive mark of this victory, so the glorification of Mary in her virginal body constitutes the final confirmation of how much she is in full solidarity with her Son in the struggle for that victory”.

The Pope then referred to Pope Pius XII’s solemn declaration of the Assumption as a formal dogma of the Church, on All Saints Day, 1950. Quoting Pope Pius’ apostolic constitution to underline the depth of theology of the dogma, he said: “The revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages”. (Apostolic Constitution of Munificentissimus Deus, 1950)

Concluding his address, the Pope reminded the faithful that “we all need her help and comfort to confront the trials and challenges of each day”, and to be able to share one day in her same destiny, imitating, in docility, her generous service to mankind.

It is only in this manner, the Pope said, that we can “already look forward to, here on our earthly pilgrimage, the peace and joy that exists in fullness for those who arrive at the immortal destination of Paradise”.

Solemnity of the Assumption

On November 1, 1950, Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption. Thus he solemnly proclaimed that the belief whereby the Blessed Virgin Mary, at the close of her earthly life, was taken up, body and soul, into the glory of heaven, definitively forms part of the deposit of faith, received from the Apostles. To avoid all that is uncertain the Pope did not state either the manner or the circumstances of time and place in which the Assumption took place — only the fact of the Assumption of Mary, body and soul, into the glory of heaven, is the matter of the definition.

The Dogma of the Assumption of Our Lady, "Munificentissimus Deus" of Pope Pius XII.

Today's Daily Reading

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Top participation at the European Ecumenical Assembly from Sibiu

Pope Benedict XVI will transmit a message that will be delivered by Cardinal Kasper.

Nine O'Clock
published in issue 3997 page 8 at 2007-08-15

The 3rd European Ecumenical Assembly, to take place at Sibiu, during September 4-9, will rally, alongside the leaders of the Christian Churches, representatives of the Romanian institutions and Romanian dignitaries – a total of 2,500 officials that will promote the inter-religious dialogue. The minister of culture and religious denominations, Adrian Iorgulescu, informed on Tuesday, in a press conference, that the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Rene van der Linden, the secretary general of the Council of Europe, Terry Davis, the commissioner for culture, Jan Figel, and the commissioner for multilingualism, Leonard Orban, have announced their participation at the event.

The meeting, organized for the first time in a chiefly Orthodox country, will discuss themes of the spiritual unity of the Churches and of the contemporary world, such as Europe, migration, religion, justice and peace.

Some of the personalities of the Christian Churches that have confirmed their participation are the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the Unity of the Christians, Cardinal Walter Kasper, and the Melkit Greek-Catholic Patriarch of Antiochia, Jerusalem and Alexandria, Gregorios III.

Pope Benedict XVI will transmit a message that will be presented by Cardinal Kasper. At the end of the meeting, the representatives of the Christian Churches will convey a joint message over the steps that must be taken to increase the unity of the Churches and for the settlement of the problems of the modern society. The assembly will rally, as observers, representatives of the Muslim and Jewish communities from around the world. The event is organized by the Conference of the European Churches and the Council of the European Episcopal Conferences. The first meeting took place in 1989, at Basel, Switzerland, and the second in 1997 at Graz, Austria. The theme of the meeting is “The light of Christ is enlightening for everybody. Hope for renewal and unity in Europe.”

Monday, August 13, 2007

Reuters - Mon Aug 13, 10:43 AM ET

Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn (R) attends a holy mass August 13, 2007, in the basilica of the Styrian town of Mariazell, one of the places Pope Benedict will see on his visit to Austria in September. REUTERS/Herbert Neubauer (AUSTRIA)
Enlarge photo...

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Detach from material goods and prepare interiorly for Christ's return," says Pope Benedict XVI

Sunday Angelus

Pope Benedict delivering his Sunday Angelus address

Castelgandolfo, Aug 12, 2007 / 10:20 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI has reminded the faithful to heed today's Gospel reading by detaching themselves from material goods and instead preparing interiorly for Christ's return.

Continuing on from last Sunday's Gospel reading, which warned of attachment to worldly goods that are “for the most part illusory”, the Pope invited the faithful to instead direct themselves to “the heights of heaven”. The believer, he added, “stays awake and keeps watch so as to be ready to welcome Jesus when he comes in all His glory”.

“Through examples found in daily life, the Lord exhorts his disciples to live with such an interior disposition, like the servants in the parable who await the return of their owner”, the Pope said, referring to today's reading from Luke 12:37. “We must therefore keep watch, praying and working for good”.

The Holy Father also referred to another of the day's readings, from the book of Hebrews. In the passage, St. Paul describes how Abraham obeyed God's call to go to the place of his inheritance, without knowing where he was to go. Through faith, he journeyed as a pilgrim, “looking toward the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God”, the Pope said. “The city St. Paul alludes to is not in this world, but is in paradise”, the Pope added. He explained that the early Christians “expressed a most important characteristic of the Church, which is, of course, attention to all that comes from on high, to the life that is to come, which we repeat each time we pray the Creed when we profess our faith.”

Friday, August 10, 2007

Pope points out the universality of the Church

Daily World
By The Rev. Mitchell Guidry
Special to the Daily World

Earlier this month, Pope Benedict XVI promulgated a document called Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine of the Church, which was compiled by the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. This document came out the same time as another of the Pope's letters, Summum Pontificum, which normalized the use of the Latin Mass throughout the Catholic church.

This is important because a large group of Catholics, led by French Archbishop Marcel Lefevbre, broke from the church refusing to celebrate the Mass as it is presently and continued to celebrate the sacraments, etc. according to the old Latin rites. Pope Benedict has as a major point of his papacy the intention of Christ, that Christians would all be one as Christ and the Father are one. The document in question was aimed at fostering unity with those "traditionalist" Catholics who broke with the church following Vatican II, and asked, are these people still part of the church?

The answers coming from that document describe what it means to be Catholic, what Jesus instituted and where the fullness of what the Lord demanded is to be found. Just as Pope Benedict began a firestorm in the Muslim world for pointing out the white elephant everyone wanted to ignore for fear of admitting the truth about Islam, he has pointed out the white elephant in Christianity and has again sparked outrage. We must be honest, if there is only one Christ, why are there so many different kinds of Christians? What does it mean to have the fullness of the Christian faith? The document reiterates the teaching of Vatican II that while other Christian denominations do possess elements of truth and grace, the fullness of what Christ intended subsists in the Catholic Church as it is the Church of the Apostles, the Church of Christ.

Catholics are condemned so many times because we supposedly "nullify the word of God in favor of the traditions of men" yet history records that every Protestant denomination was founded 1,500 years after the Catholic church was by mere men, men who said they didn't need a pope or anybody else to teach them; they would stand alone on the truth of the Bible. So now, whose "truth" is right? Aren't there presently hundreds of Protestant denominations all differing in teaching and in practice?

We must remember long before the New Testament was written, there was a church instituted by Jesus in stages during his earthly ministry and brought into fruition on Pentecost. Jesus died, rose, and ascended into Heaven in 33 A.D. and sent the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the birthday of the Church; 50 days later.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Vienna businesses upbeat ahead of Pope's visit - Aug 09 5:37 AM

Vienna - Vienna's trade chamber is optimistic that the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Vienna from September 7 to 9 will be a boon for the local economy. Approximately 50,000 visitors are expected for the two main events scheduled in the Austrian capital, creating additional value worth around 2.7 million euros (3.71 million dollars), the Austrian press agency reported Thursday.

But even more important is the advertising value Vienna gained by the "positive image" created by the pope's visit, the trade chamber said.

Individual businesses are a little more cautious. Local restaurants and taxi drives expect losses due to roadblocks and other security measures.

For Vienna's hotels early September is generally very busy,even without the head of the Catholic Church visiting hotels it would be a "miracle" if Vienna was not fully booked, Michaela Reitterer of the Austrian hotel association said.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

“Without God, man loses his greatness; without God, there is no true humanism,” says Pope Benedict

Wednesday General Audience

Castelgandolfo, Aug 8, 2007 / 09:54 am (CNA).- “Without God, man loses his greatness; without God, there is no true humanism”.

With these words, Pope Benedict XVI today recalled the great legacy of another early Church father, Saint Gregory of Nazianze, theologian, preacher and poet from fourth-century Cappadocia.

A friend and admirer of St. Basil, whom the Holy Father remembered last week, St. Gregory was inspired to seek Baptism and to enter monastic life, devoting himself to prayer, solitude, and meditation.

The Pope recalled how St. Gregory “loved to leave behind the things of this world and enter into intimate communion with God, so that the depths of his soul became like a mirror reflecting the divine light”.

“Here was a man who sensed the primacy of God and so speaks to us today, to this world of ours”, the Pope said. “Without God, man loses his greatness; without God, there is no true humanism. That’s why we listen to this voice and also try to come to know the face of God”.

The Pope recalled how St. Gregory reluctantly, but in a spirit of obedience, accepted priestly ordination. He was then sent to Constantinople, where he preached his five Orations: “beautifully reasoned presentations of the Church’s teaching”, the Pope said.

The Orations, known as "The Theologian", stressed that “theology is more than merely human reflection”, the Pope explained. “It springs from a life of prayer and holiness, from wonder at the marvels of God’s revelation”.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Catholic relations with Orthodox improve

Published: Aug. 7, 2007 at 2:03 PM

MOCOW, Russia, Aug. 7 (UPI) -- A possible meeting between the heads of the Roman Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches is being discussed, a Catholic cardinal said in Moscow.

The RIA Novosti news service Tuesday said Cardinal Roger Etchegaray met as an envoy of Pope Benedict XVI with Patriarch Alexy II in Moscow to discuss cooperation between the two churches.

Alexy recently accepted an invitation from the pope to attend an October conference on the first pontifical encyclical letter. The patriarch had turned down previous invitations from the Vatican amid a dispute over Catholic efforts to find converts in Eastern Europe.

The cardinal said inter-church relations had been on the upswing in the past year, and that he had delivered a letter and a gold pen to Alexy.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Pope recalls work of Paul VI through "difficult years"

Castel Gandolfo, Aug. 6, 2007 ( - At his Angelus audience on Sunday, August 5, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) looked forward to the feast of the Transfiguration, which the Church would celebrate the next day, and recalled that Pope Paul VI died on that date 29 years ago.

Pope Benedict spoke to an overflow crowd gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer resident at Castel Gandolfo. He later appeared from a balcony at the front of the palace to greet those who had not been able to squeeze into the courtyard.

In his remarks the Pope reflected on the day's Gospel, with its warning to "guard against greed, because even for the rich, everything passes; it all can come to a sudden end." The accumulation of material goods can be a dangerous distraction, the Pope warned; Christians must always strive the absolute good that is life with God.

The memory of Pope Paul "invites us to raise our eyes to heaven," the Pope continued. He remarked that Paul VI had served the Church faithfully through "difficult years" before he died at Castel Gandolfo in 1978.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Pope Benedict--"Material riches are no assurance of salvation, but can in fact seriously compromise it"

Sunday Angelus

Castelgandolfo, Aug 5, 2007 / 11:12 am (CNA).- In his Angelus address today, Pope Benedict called on the faithful to heed Christ’s warning not to become attached to the world’s riches. He emphasized his point by giving several examples of faithful people who have put their treasure in heaven.

Addressing a large group of cheering faithful on Sunday in Castel Gandolfo, his summer residence, the Pope stressed that “material riches, although a good, are not an absolute good”. He added: “Above all, they are no assurance of salvation, but can in fact seriously compromise it”.

After departing in recent weeks from the usual custom of addressing themes in Sunday’s Gospel, Pope Benedict XVI returned to the tradition today, and referred to Jesus’ words on the risk of storing treasure on earth. “It is wise and virtuous not to allow one’s heart to become attached to the goods of this world,” he said, “because everything passes, everything can come to end”.

“The real treasure for which we Christians must tirelessly seek,” the Pope continued, “lies in the things from above, there where Christ can be found at the right hand of the Father.” And he reminded the crowd that Saint Paul in his letter to the Colossians speaks of this when he says that “our life is hidden with Christ in God”.

Pope Benedict recalled that today marks the celebration of the Dedication of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the first basilica dedicated to Our Lady in 432 by Pope Sixtus III, and looked to her as an example of one who seeks true treasure.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Full schedule for Pope's September trip to Austria

Vatican, Aug. 3, 2007 ( - The Vatican has released the official schedule for the September 7-9 trip to Austria by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news).

The Holy Father will have a full schedule, including two public Masses, during the weekend trip. The highlight of the visit will be the Pope's visit to the Mariazell shrine, which is celebrating its 850th anniversary.

The Pope will leave Rome's Ciampino airport on Friday morning, September 7, for the flight to Vienna, arriving there at 11:15. After an aiport welcoming ceremony, he will take the "popemobile" into Vienna at midday, stopping in the Am Hof square to lead the Angelus and offer his greetings to the Austrian public.

From there the Pope will continue to the Juden Platz, to pray at a memorial to Austrian victims of the Holocaust. Then he will proceed to the residence of the apostolic nunciature, where he will be staying for the weekend.

On Friday evening the Pope will make a courtesy call on Austria's President Heinz Fischer at the Hofburg Palace, then meet there with members of the diplomatic corps, before returning to the nunciature for the night.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Vatican publishes itinerary of papal visit to Austria - Aug 03 6:07 AM

Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI will celebrate two masses and will meet voluntary workers as well as state officials in Austria, according to the itinerary of his September 7-9 trip, which was published by the Vatican on Friday. The German-born pontiff will also pay his respects to the Austrian victims of the Holocaust during a brief visit to Vienna's Juden Platz.

Benedict leaves Rome's Ciampino airport on the morning of September 7, a Friday, and meets Austria's president, diplomats and local church officials later in the day.

The highlight and main purpose of his trip to Austria takes place the following day, when he leads Mass at the Basilica of Mariazell on its 850th anniversary.

The 80-year-old pontiff celebrates a second Mass in Vienna on Sunday morning. He then visits the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz and meets Catholic volunteers before returning to Rome on Sunday evening.

The trip to Austria, whose population of 8.2 million is 72 per cent Catholic - according to Vatican data - is Benedict's seventh abroad since his 2005 election.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Benedict XVI calls Christians to look to God to create a “just and fraternal world”

Vatican City, Aug 1, 2007 / 09:08 am (CNA).- The Holy Father resumed his weekly catechesis today picking up where he left off in early July when he began vacation. The Pope held up St. Basil, a bishop and fourth-century Doctor of the Church as an example of a man who was open to God and thus able to discern what is true and good.

He was a great figure who “frequently exhorted the people of his day to give to the poor,” the Pope said. “Indeed, if we are to love our neighbor as ourselves, we ought not to own any more than our neighbor owns. We must not offend Christ with inhumanity towards others.”

Drawing further on St. Basil’s example, the Pope said virtue is the only inalienable good which remains both during life and after death and that only by being open to God “can we create a just and fraternal world”. He also referred to St. Basil’s ability to discern what is true and serves our spiritual growth.

At the audience, his first since returning from vacation in the Italy’s mountainous Dolomite region, the Holy Father also took time to greet 200 scouts, present to celebrate 100 years of the scouting movement.

Praising the movement’s contribution to education, he said: “My thoughts go to all of the scouts and guides across the world”, and he expressed his wish that the movement, founded through the “profound intuition” of Lord Baden Powell in 1907, “would continue to bear fruit in human, spiritual and civil education all over the world.”