Terra Patris – A New Pilgrimage Site

Terra Patris – A new pilgrimage site in Virginia

Pilgrims first learn about the walk

Pilgrims first learn about the walk

A young pilgrim participates in walk by reading out loud the meditation for the station to the group while the rest silently read from their books.

A young pilgrim participates in walk by reading out loud the meditation for the station to the group while the rest silently read from their books.

I was very honored to be invited to attend the inauguration of a new prayer path and holy site in Virginia.  On August 3, 2014 a group of Catholics walked and prayed the first Stations of Creation with the launch of a new book to accompany this new contemplative path.  Because these are the first such stations, this marks a historical event in the Church.  The stations are located in the mountains in Goshen, Virginia, near Lexington.  The attendees were mostly from Virginia and some from other parts of the country.  The group gathered for a proposed new Feast Day to honor God the Father, and used the occasion to pray the newly established stations. The Stations of Creation consist of prayer stops dedicated to God the Creator along a path overlooking beautiful scenes of His creation.  The path starts upon a large hill, travels past a field, a river, through a park and passes several unique landscapes, until it returns to where it started.  Twenty-one Stations of Creation line this contemplative prayer path. Similar to the way Catholics pray the Stations of the Cross, worshipers stand in front of each Station of Creation and recite meditations.  However, the prayers honor God the Father through His wondrous creation and are recited out in God’s great outdoors. I was incredibly moved by the wonderful prayers that accompany the path that are very Franciscan in their attention to Care for Creation and the Gospel way of life. The whole goal is to reflect and meditate upon some of the more common creations of our God in a natural, contemplative way, as did the Church through many centuries, until the rise of large cities took people out of the countryside. This is an ancient and very traditional way of praying and is described by saints in many spiritual books, but has been all but forgotten by most in more modern times. To pray in a natural contemplative way, a person spends time viewing, thinking and reflecting upon or contemplating about what one sees, just like one reflects upon each Station of the Cross.  However, the reflections note the depth of God the Father’s creations that most people overlook, or fail to see, because of the distractions of modern living.  This method of praying imitates some of the saints, like St. Francis or some of the better known Carmelite saints. Meditations reflect on such gifts from God as trees, flowers, grass, farm fields, water, a cedar forest and other specific creations of our God that are found along the path at each Station. As worshipers enjoy the walk, they stop at each station and read one of the meditations.  The result is, hopefully, a spiritual experience and a greater appreciation of God’s gifts to each of us. The end result is a growth in a person’s basic belief of faith that there is a God and that he loves us.  The whole concept or approach was inspired last year as the Church celebrated the Year of Faith. The experience helps those who pray the path to grow in appreciation of God the Father and his creations or gifts to us.

A NEW Proposed Feast Day — God the Father Feast Day

The first pilgrims to walk the path with the new meditations read together.

The first pilgrims to walk the path with the new meditations read together.

Over forty people prayed the path on August 3. They came to the site of the Stations as part of an annual gathering held to celebrate a proposed feast day being nourished in the Church by some Catholics around the world. It is a feast day that is proposed for God the Father on the first Sunday in August.  It was originally proposed by Sister Eugene Elisabetta Ravasio, an Italian nun.  Some of the group in attendance at this year’s proposed God the Father feast day have known each other for over 20 years and at least a few of them have been meeting annually on the first Sunday in August for the last 14 years.  More about this proposed feast day at:  http://www.fatherspeaks.net/pdf/the_father_speaks_english_v-2005-02.pdf The beautiful property where the first Stations of Creation have been built is owned by a Dr. Paul Faucher and is called Terra Patris (Land of the Father).  Dr. Faucher attends St. Patrick’s Church in Lexington Virginia, and is a physician at Stonewall Jackson Hospital.  Fr. Joe D’Aurora, the pastor of St. Patrick’s, came to lead a prayer service for the proposed God the Father Feast Day, and gives his enthusiastic endorsement of Stations of Creation and the proposed new feast day.  It is interesting to point out in reflecting on the Holy Trinity, that there are feast days for both Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but not God the Father.

Fr. Joe D'Aurora & Dr. Paul Faucher

Fr. Joe D’Aurora & Dr. Paul Faucher

Peter Christopher Gruters is a friend of Dr. Paul Faucher, who devoted six months to clearing and constructing this inspiring new contemplative prayer path with a wonderful written guide to accompany the pilgrims who come to experience this slice of heaven in Western Virginia. Mr. Gruters is proposing that Stations of Creation be built-in each diocese around the world, within driving distance of schools and churches, so Catholics can visit God’s great outdoors and pray in God’s creation by reading similar meditations and contemplating God’s infinite gifts to each of us.  In this way Catholics can reconnect to an ancient tradition in the Church.

Author and Stations of Creation path builder Peter Christopher Gruters

Author and Stations of Creation path builder Peter Christopher Gruters

Although the path was used August 3, it still needs lots of work.  New concrete benches with a different station name placed on each of them have been ordered and will soon be installed.  This is causing Dr. Faucher to not reopen the path until at least mid-October, 2014.  At that time the hope is that other devoted Catholics will visit to pray the path and experience what those who visited on August 3, did. Dr. Faucher’s email address is tpatris@ntelos.net for those interested in visiting Terra Patris to get directions and suggestions to enjoy your pilgrimage. On this 200 acre farm there is a park on the property offering a beautiful picnic and swimming area along the Calfpasture River.  This is healthy stream that is accesible for the whole family and offers fishing, swimming, canoeing, rock skipping, and nature watching.

NEW Book for those visiting Terra Patris

The new path guidebook

The new path guidebook

A new book is about to be released called How To Pray In A Natural Contemplative Way:  A Guide for Young and Old , and I was able to read an advanced copy given to all the people who visited on August 3rd.  This is a MUST read before and during your pilgrimage to Terra Patris.  The first two chapters are about contemplative prayer in a “natural” way, and help detail this beautiful form of prayer in quoting examples from the saints and The Bible.  The book emphasizes a great devotion to God the Father.  The book has the meditations for the path at Terra Patris and also makes clear to the reader why living a proposed lifestyle in a natural and loving way is essential to Christians.  The book is not preaching that one should move to the country because it is safer there, or more secure, but because it is what is best from a healthy spiritual standpoint.   It is a truth that has been hidden or forgotten by many in recent times. The Bible is full of stories of how God’s children were called out of the cities, but few realize why God wills people to live out in the country.  It is so they can have a healthy spiritual life as well as good health, physically and mentally.  This book also reveals how parents can teach small children who can’t even read yet about God. Most parents don’t take advantage of using God’s creation to explain about God and that He made everything for our care, provision and enjoyment and because he loves us. The third chapter is about the 21 Stations of Creation and offer reflections and prayers to be read at each station with an accompanying photograph.  This book can be used on its own with the photographs, but is much more meaningful in a natural setting and integrates perfectly with the Stations of Creation contemplative path.  After hiking this entire path, and listening to the readings with a group-prayer experience, I truly believe that author Peter Christopher Gruters was guided by the Holy Spirit in writing this incredible book. This book is truly a treasure for all visitors to Terra Patris and the meditations can also be read anywhere in God’s creation where appropriate or even while viewing pictures or films of God’s creation..  I highly recommend individuals and church groups to come experience Terra Patris and Mr. Gruters book for an inspiration of a lifetime.   Note:  Details about where you can get the book will be available soon, and also a supporting website for Terra Patris, the Stations of Creation, and How To Pray In A Natural Contemplative Way:  A Guide for Young and Old to be online soon.  I will be updating this blog with details, and you are also welcome to e-mail me and I will let you know more as soon as it is available at jclem@catholicws.com

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Catholic Humor

Being Summertime, I thought it would be nice to take a break from the serious news (but still continuing to pray for those suffering and the need for peace).  Luckily, God has got a sense of humor, and I wanted to share with you some of the best cartoons and memes that I have seen recently.  You know God has a sense of humor when you look at his creation and see creatures like the platypus and orangutan.

St. Philip Neri is known as “The Humourous Saint” and was quoted as saying, “Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore the servant of God ought always to be in good spirits.”

orangutanA LittlPlatypusGangsterse Franciscan Humor:

Holy Friary Fire Batman

How Do You Put Out That Fire?….   with Friar Hydrant — of course!

Friar Hydrant

Franciscan Subway:

Franciscan Subway

Friary Dingaling!

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The Friary Force (Holy Spirit)

TheForceIsStrong copy

Biblical Far Side Cartoons:

castenets   McMiracle   PomSunday   JesusClearsTemple   JesusSahdow   DoubtingThomas   JesusMorning   WiseGuy   JesusBumper   CamelWash   YouthMinister   ChristianFlock

More Catholic Cartoons:

TheSwissReaper copy

 

IkeaCrossKit copy

 

PriestPerfection copy

YoungJesus

 

 

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ValleyOfTheShadowOfDeath copy

 

Now.. enjoy a cool drink this Summer and laugh a little.  

CatholicismTrue copy

 

Other Catholic Humor Links:

Catholic Humor - Catholic Jokes and Cartoons

Catholic Memes – collection of memes from the internet

The Eye of the Tiber – The Onion of Catholic News

Catholic Humor on Pinterest – crowdsourced contributions

The Catholic Onion Blog – stopped posting in 2011 but still funny to read

Jason Bach Cartoons - great Catholic cartoonist

 

Funny Landscaping in England:   10560350_1446879012248371_9152721476512134472_o

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Library of Alexandria — NEVER Again!

Reconstruction of the Great Hall of the Library of Alexandria from Cosmos series with Carl Sagan

Reconstruction of the Great Hall of the Library of Alexandria from Cosmos series with Carl Sagan

One of the greatest losses of knowledge in history was the destruction of the Library of Alexandria in Egypt in 642 A.D.  It was attacked by different groups 600 years prior to its final destruction by an invading Muslim Army who only preserved the writings of Aristotle.  It is debated about the exact amount of its contents, but was thought to be the single greatest repository of knowledge in the known world.

“The library was but one part of the Musaeum of Alexandria, which functioned as a sort of research institute. In addition to the library the Musaeum included rooms for the study of astronomy, anatomy, and even a zoo of exotic animals.  Over 100 scholars lived at the Museum full-time to perform research, write, lecture or translate and copy documents. classical thinkers who studied, wrote, and experimented at the Musaeum include the fathers of mathematics, engineering, physiology, geography, and medicine.  These included such notable thinkers such as Euclid, Archimedes, and Saint Catherine.” (Wikipedia)

Recontruction of one of the many rooms housing scrolls filled with knowledge of theology, history, pholosophy, and science.

Recontruction of one of the many rooms housing scrolls filled with knowledge of theology, history, pholosophy, literature, and science.

The Digital Archive

Thanks to technology and the efforts of many people and cultures around the world, a loss like the Library of Alexandria will never happen again.  The Digital Archive is working to preserve the written word in EVERY book and EVERY internet website in a HUGE data collection system that is backed up by multiple partner countries. This is truly a mind-boggling endeavour of humankind.  It currently lists over 415 Billion webpages and has surpassed 10 Petabytes of storage in saving not only books and websites, but also music, audio, and movies.

Please view this short documentary to give you an idea of the scope of this amazing project:

 

The Wayback Machine

Not only is the Digital Archive saving every website, they are also saving all the websites through time.  You can pull up any website and view it back in time to 1996.  For instance, you can pull up The Vatican and see the first edition of the website on January 30, 1998 during the time of Saint John Paul II.  He was preparing for trips to Cuba, World Communications Day, World Day for Peace, World Youth Day and the Jubilee Year in 2000.

First edition of The Vatican website in 1998.

First edition of The Vatican website in 1998.

In searching the Wayback Machine, they don’t have everything saved yet.  I was pleased to see Call To Holiness was in the archive, but my own parish, Church of the Incarnation was not in the Wayback Machine yet.  Hopefully it will continue to grow to genuinely have every website on the internet.

The Vatican Archive — Now going digital

The Vatican Archive is currently perhaps the current repository of the finest ancient documents in the world today.  The Vatican is also in the midst of starting to digitize its vast holdings to be able to share with the world on the internet.

The Vatican announced in March 2014 that it has started the process of digitizing its vast and priceless collection of ancient manuscripts so they can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection, free of charge. In partnership with Japanese firm NTT Data, which is footing the $20m cost, the Vatican is hoping to make all 82,000 manuscripts available in the coming years.

The first batch of 3,000 manuscripts include classical Greek and Latin works and illuminated manuscripts from the mediaeval and Renaissance periods. Eventually, over 40 million pages will be scanned from the Vatican’s collection, which is one of the most valuable and distinguished in the world.
In a press release put out by NTT Data, Monsignor Cesare Pasini, Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library, had this to say: “We will further nurture our mission of preserving these treasures of humankind and making them more widely available and known in a deep spirit of universality — including the universality of knowledge and the universality of collaboration and agreement with institutions and companies throughout the world.”
The Vatican Apostolic Library, or ‘Pope’s library’, was founded by Pope Nicholas V Parentucelli in the 15th century. The process of digitizing documents initially got underway back in December, but with NTT Data’s help the process will now be formalized and scheduled.

Vatican Archives

Vatican Archives

The Library of Congress

The Library of Congress is the largest library and perhaps the most beautiful in the world, as every publisher sends a copy to the library for its cataloging number and to be archived.  The library began after the British troops burned The Capitol in 1814 and its national collection of books. The Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books for $23,950 to start the library. The Library of Congress now has more than 158 million items on approximately 838 miles of bookshelves. The collections include more than 36 million books and other print materials, 3.5 million recordings, 13.7 million photographs, 5.5 million maps, 6.7 million pieces of sheet music and 69 million manuscripts in over 470 languages.  The Library of Congress is also beginning to digitize its library and more of it available on the internet.  It is making great strides in saving its collections for future generations.  It also offers some great tips for how to save your personal and family history, photos, and videos in links below.

Main Reading Room (photo: Matthew Borkoski)

Main Reading Room (photo: Matthew Borkoski)

The Library of Congress Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia

Opened in 2007, the Library’s Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., was designed for the acquisition, cataloging, storage and preservation of the nation’s collection of moving images and recorded sounds. The library’s state-of-the-art facility houses the largest and most comprehensive collection of American and foreign-produced films, television broadcasts and sound recordings. The facility houses 6 million items, including more than 3.5 million sound recordings and 1.7 million film, television and video items, representing over a century of audiovisual production.

Library of Congress Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia

Library of Congress Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia

The Packard Campus also offers FREE movies in a beautiful theater three times a week. Check the schedule with the link below for more details.

 

LINKS

Internet Archive

The Wayback Machine (Internet Archive)

Vatican Library

Vatican library will digitize its archives and put them online (Reuters)

Library of Congress

Library of Congress Packard Campus Theater

Digital Preservation at Library of Congress

Digital Preservation Personal Archiving (Library of Congress)

Mobile Apps from the Library of Congress (iPhone & iPad only)

 

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Gazing: Finding an image that speaks to you…

Call To Holiness welcomes guest blogger Ann Chapin.  Ann is a talented artist who has painted many icon tapestries for my home parish at Church of the Incarnation.

Crucifixion Oil Sketch by Ann Chapin

Crucifixion Oil Sketch by Ann Chapin

Gazing:  Finding an image that speaks to you… (by Ann Chapin)

St. Teresa of Avila and other Contemplatives have commented at various times in their writings how prayer is in some fundamental sense responding to Christ who is looking at us by us standing in the presence of God and looking back.  This is not necessarily an easy thing to do, nor immediately obvious what that ‘looking back’ is supposed to involve concretely.  However, one thing St. Teresa does say is to find an image of Christ that moves you, that enables you to connect with him, and don’t be influenced by any of the fads of the culture at the moment.
So, what that means in this day is that you can go to the internet to any search engine that supports image searches, and search for things like “Face of Christ” or “Face of Jesus” or something like that and scan through them till you find one that speaks to you, that makes Christ present.  I’ve painted several versions of the face of Christ, but you may like none of them and that’s fine.  If your tradition doesn’t use icons, but an old Russian or Greek icon speaks to you, use that.  And here’s a good use for your smart phone or tablet: use it as a portable icon.  Put the image that makes Christ present to you on it, and then you have it with you wherever you are, so that even if all you want to do is recollect yourself in the midst of chaos, there He is.  If you want to review the ones I’ve done, they are here at this site.
Christ with John the Beloved at Last Supper

Christ with John the Beloved at Last Supper

Note:  Ann Chapin’s artwork are copywrite material (reuse with permission only)

LINKS

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Peace & War & Memorial Day

I write this blog today with a heavy heart knowing that there is so many places in the world that still suffer the ravages of war, but also hopeful there are great efforts for making peace in this world such as the messages and actions of Pope Francis.  Pope Francis condemned those who supply weapons and help prolong wars and request we pray for their conversion.  I pray that his efforts help bring peace to the many peoples and religions of the Holy Land.

Pope Francis in the Holy Land

Pope Francis arrive in Jordan.

Pope Francis arrives in Jordan.

This Memorial Day Weekend began with the historic pilgrimage that Pope Francis is making to the Holy Land.  Just before leaving on his trip the Vatican website began to offer an Arabic language version for the first time in history, showing the efforts Pope Francis is making with interreligious dialog.  When Pope Francis arrived in Jordan, he thanked for Jordan for their efforts for peace and helping the many refugees who have fled Syria in their war.  Here is a condensed version of his speech in the arrival in the Holy Land:

I thank God for granting me this opportunity to visit the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in the footsteps of my predecessors Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. …

Jordan has offered a generous welcome to great numbers of Palestinian and Iraqi refugees, as well as to other refugees from troubled areas, particularly neighboring Syria, ravaged by a conflict which has lasted all too long. Such generosity merits the appreciation and support of the international community. The Catholic Church, to the extent of its abilities, has sought to provide assistance to refugees and those in need, especially through Caritas Jordan…

I take this opportunity to reiterate my profound respect and esteem for the Muslim community and my appreciation for the leadership of His Majesty the King in promoting a better understanding of the virtues taught by Islam and a climate of serene coexistence between the faithful of the different religions. I am grateful that Jordan has supported a number of important initiatives aimed at advancing interreligious dialogue and understanding between Jews, Christians and Muslims. I think in particular of the Amman Message and the support given within the United Nations Organization to the annual celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week.

I would also like to offer an affectionate greeting to the Christian communities present in this country since apostolic times, contributing to the common good of the society of which they are fully a part. Although Christians today are numerically a minority, theirs is a significant and valued presence in the fields of education and health care, thanks to their schools and hospitals. They are able to profess their faith peaceably, in a climate of respect for religious freedom. Religious freedom is in fact a fundamental human right and I cannot fail to express my hope that it will be upheld throughout the Middle East and the entire world. The right to religious freedom “includes on the individual and collective levels the freedom to follow one’s conscience in religious matters and, at the same time, freedom of worship… [it also includes] the freedom to choose the religion which one judges to be true and to manifest one’s beliefs in public” (Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 26). Christians consider themselves, and indeed are, full citizens, and as such they seek, together with their Muslim fellow citizens, to make their own particular contribution to the society in which they live.

Finally, I cordially invoke peace and prosperity upon the Kingdom of Jordan and its people. I pray that my visit will help to advance and strengthen good and cordial relations between Christians and Muslims.

I thank you for your courteous welcome. May the Almighty and Merciful God grant happiness and long life to Your Majesties, and may he bless Jordan abundantly. Salaam!

This visit to the Holy Land also marks 50 years since Pope Paul VI has made the same visit and met with Patriarch Anthenagoras to end 900 years of division between the Eastern and Western Catholic Churches.  Pope Francis will be meeting with Patriarch Bartholomew to continue the friendship and work toward Christian unity in the modern era.

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Pope Francis at the River Jordan (site where Jesus was Baptized)

Pope Francis at the River Jordan (site where Jesus was Baptized)

Memorial Day Weekend

memorial-day

This is a special weekend for many Americans in honoring those who serve our country in the military, and especially for those who gave their lives in service to the United States of America. Archbishop Timothy Broglio serves the largest single diocese — the Archdiocese of the Military.  He offers this inspiring message in the following video from Catholic News Service in what Memorial Day means to Catholics:

Suicide in the US Military

One of the very sad issues facing many men in the military is the increasing problem of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Depression that has caused many to take their own lives through suicide.  The number of veterans committing suicide now is a 22 per day or 660 per month.  This is twice the rate in the general population, and an increase from just two years ago.  The military and veterans are trying to offer better education and supports.

Here in Charlottesville the Center for Peace and Justice collaborated with Vets for Peace to help raise awareness about the large suicide rate and to help with prevention.

My friend Evan is a vet, and in the following picture,  got a local artist to display 660 dog tags on a tree on our Downtown Mall Plaza to represent visually the impact of how many people commit suicide every month in America.

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Veterans for Peace — 660 Dogtags on tree represent the monthly suicide rate in America currently.

Vets were also passing out the ACE card with instructions to family and friends of vets in how they can help prevent suicides.

ACEcard

 

How can we change the world towards making peace?

PRAYER, ACTION, & ADVOCACY:

Making peace is a hard task, and actually even harder than making war, BUT it can be done.  First, I think that the power of prayer can help, and one of the best prayers is the Peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith;

where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light;

where there is sadness, joy.

O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

to be understood as to understand;

to be loved as to love;

For it is in giving that we receive;

it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life. Amen

 

Second, we can take individual action to help working towards peace and healing.  We should be engaged in government to advocate for peace – maybe a letter to a congressman, or attending a rally, standing up to talk publically to show action for peace.

 

Third, we need to have better advocacy for peace.  There are too many lobby groups in Washington for making war, and the military companies who make weapons have too powerful a lobby at this time.   We need to personally & financially support groups locally and in Washington, that make efforts for peace to match the power of these opposing lobby groups–to have effect of legislators and change attitudes.  You can support groups like Pax Christi, USA,  Catholic Relief Services, Caritas, and World Beyond War.

LINKS

Custos of the Holy Land (Franciscans)

Pope Francis’ Visit to the Holy Land (Catholic News Agency)

Archdiocese of the Military, USA

Veterans Affairs Mental Health

Suicide Rate for Veterans (Center for Public Integrity)

Veterans for Peace

Pax Christi, USA

Caritas

Catholic Relief Services

World Beyond War

David Swanson (Peace Activist and Blogger)

 

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3rd Anniversary of Call To Holiness

cake

 

Today is the 3rd Anniversary of Call To Holiness, which started on May 10th, 2011.  I have been very honored to have over 85,000 readers of this blog and appreciate the feedback and encouragement I have received in the comm box.  It has been a great year with many stories to share, and have recently upgraded the website:

  • New WordPress Theme that now is mobile responsive in design, so it should work well on your smartphone and tablets.
  • New comment system using Disqus, and your feedback is always welcome
  • I have moved from BlueHost to Catholic Web Services which is offering a faster website using Amazon Web Services 64 bit service.
  • Added the Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter, and Google+) of the stories and links I share at Catholic Web Services
  • RSS Feed Link
  • Google Translator offering 250+ languages including Latin

 

Today is also the Feast of St. Damien of Molokai, and my friend Brandon Vogt is about to release a fantastic book about the saints and how their teachings and lives relate to social justice.  This book is being endorsed by many prominent theologians and fellow authors.

Brandon Vogt offeres an excerpt of his new book in the Word on Fire Blog about St. Damien from “Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World”, by Brandon Vogt

 

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Also, Happy Mother’s Day and have offered a special edition for mothers at Sweet Tweets with Lisa Hendey’s Blog at Patheos

 

LINKS

Saints and Social Justice:  A Guide to Changing the World by Brandon Vogt (Amazon)

Sweet Tweets at A Good Measure Blog by Lisa Hendey (Patheos)

Previous Blog about St. Damien (Call To Holiness)

 

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Canonizations of John XXIII & John Paul II from Washington, D.C.

New Portraits of Saints John Paul II & John XXIII at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

New Portraits of Saints John Paul II & John XXIII at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

It was an amazing weekend visiting Washington D.C. for the canonizations of two new saints — Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday.  These two men helped to bring the Roman Catholic Church into the modern world with great courage, love, joy, humor, grace, and humility.  To celebrate this historic event, the John Paul II Shrine was hosting a series of events over the weekend.

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

It started with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament for three miles around the area in Washington, D.C. fondly known as “Little Rome,” because there are so many Catholic organizations, churches, and shrines in a concentrated area of the city.  The procession went from the JPII Shrine to the Basicilca of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, then to Catholic University of America, then to the John Paul II Seminary, and returning back to the JPII Shrine.   At each stop there was speech honoring both saints, and then time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Many faithful devoutly joined this procession, despite having rain and wind to endure, nature was not going to stop this joyous occasion.

Adoration of Blessed Sacrament at Catholic University Chapel

Adoration of Blessed Sacrament at Catholic University Chapel

 

After the procession, there was a midnight Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday, a Feast instituted by Pope John Paul II.  There were about 1,000 people in attendance of this beautiful Mass celebrated by the chaplain of the John Paul II Shrine, Fr. Gregory Gresko.  This temporary chapel was set-up for the weekend, and had a beautiful artwork in the background of Christ, and there were protraits of John Paul II and the Divine Mercy image on each side of the altar.  There were TVs for viewing the Masses locally and in Rome throughout the facility, and a wall also had the live Twitter Feed from people posting from around the globe on #2PopeSaints.

Mass and Live Event in main chapel at JPII Shrine

Mass and Live Event in main chapel at JPII Shrine

There were two first class relics of Saint John Paul II that were taken out for veneration, one is a permanent gift from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, a blood soaked cloth from the time of the shooting of JPII, and the other was on loan from the Knights of Columbus that is a vile of blood from JPII.

Fr. Gregory Gresko carrying the First Class Relic the Blood of Saint John Paul II

Fr. Gregory Gresko carrying the First Class Relic the Blood of Saint John Paul II

Fr. Gresko said that the walls will enclose this space and an artists is coming who had worked with John Paul II on some iconic art in Rome, and will be working on beautiful art to cover the walls of the new chapel opening in the Fall of 2015.  The basement museum space is currently being overhauled, and will have a wonderful permanent interactive exhibit opening in July 2014.  The exhibit will invite visitors to walk in the footsteps of of Saint John Paul II while exploring how his understanding of the dignity of the human person informed his life and papacy.  It will also explore his teachings and spirituality through computer interactives, personal artifacts, and original artwork.  This inspiring Shrine will always offer Mass, Confession, The Angelus, Adoration, and Veneration of JPII relics (see website below for schedule)

A Gift Of Love:  The Life of Saint John Paul II -- a permanent exhibit to open July 2014

A Gift Of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II — a permanent exhibit to open July 2014

 

The crowds who came cheered when Pope Francis and Pope Bendict XVI embraced to start the Holy Mass for the Canonizations of these two holy men about to become saints.  When it was official everyone rejoiced and the Holy relic if John Paul’s blood was processed out and people had opportunity to pray with the relic.  Saint John Paul II was with us both in spirit and body during this special event in Washington, DC, where he designated the place for his own shrine to be during his lifetime.  It is interesting that he did not choose Italy or Poland, but chose Washington, DC since he knew it was a place that welcomes all peoples around the world. You and your parish should make a pilgrimage to Washington, DC to see this inspiring shrine, which now also includes the nearby Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land & The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Catholic Celebrate the Canonizations from the Saint John Paul II National Shrine (Catholic News Service)

Saint John XXIII (1881-1963)

I made a short video to highlight the history and great contributions that the “Good Pope” gave to our faith.

Fr. James Martin, S.J. also shared the joy and humor and humility of Saint John XXIII.  Fr. Martin also wrote an excellent article in The Washington Post called Do we still need saints?

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Rome Reports offered a good short history of John Paul “The Great” who many called for his sainthood during his funeral in 2005.

Chris Stefanick walked the grounds near Denver’s World Youth Day and spoke about the powerful influences on youth Pope John Paul II made with so many.

Catholic New Media Coverage of the Canonizations

This was really the first canonization of a modern saint that had such modern media coverage with radio, tv, internet, and social media, that brought many more stories to light that was not true of any similar canonization before.  It was also historic having two current popes in attendance who are canonizing two saint popes.  Below are some of the best stories and media that I was able to see during this event that offer some unique insights and behind the scenes that you may not have seen just watching or hearing from one media source.

Behind the Scenes in Rome

It was fun to follow and number of great priests who were helping to tell the stories of the saints and what was happening in Rome.

Fr. Robert Barron was reporting for NBC News, but also was made five behind the scenes videos that are worth watching:

The Church’s One Purpose (Word From Rome #1) — more in link below.

Fr. Roderick VonHogen was reporting for SQPN and produced 18 videos (more in link below) showing how it was to be a pilgrim from the crowd perpective at the events in Rome.  Fr. Roderick is a wonderful priest who started podcasting at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and has grown a network of the best Catholic podcasters through work of many around the world and help from the Holy Spirit.  Here he is visiting the tombs of both John XXIII and JPII.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug was reporting for Grace Before Meals, and cooked up a meal in honor of what the two saints would like to eat.  Fr. Leo is an inspiring priest, chef, and media personality who helps preach his message of faith, food, and family.

Pilgrims, priests, sisters, and kids in Rome dancing to Pharrell Williams Happy:

Students from John Paul the Great Catholic University read the inspirational Letter to Artists by Saint John Paul II

 

Saint fans having fun with Social Media

Here is an entertaining cartoon regarding the two new saints by Jason Bach:

JasonBach 2

Here is a fun photo showing the Fab Four Popes walking a Roman Road to the Abbey:

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Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Dies Domini

To end Divine Mercy Sunday, I attended an event hosted by the Institute of Catholic Culture at St. Veronica’s in Chantilly, Virginia.  The speaker was my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope, who offered a very insightful and heart-felt speech about this important papal document from Pope John Paul II.  I urge you to please view this video, and the speech starts at the 11:30 mark

Monsignor Charles Pope talking at the Insitute of Catholic Culture

Monsignor Charles Pope talking at the Insitute of Catholic Culture

Video of Monsignor Charles Pope for the Institute of Catholic Culture

 

LINKS

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Divine Mercy (Marians of the Immaculate Conception)

Institute of Catholic Culture

Fr. Robert Barron’s Word From Rome

Fr. Roderick Vonhogen – The Catholic Insider

Many More Links in the “Popefest” edition of  John Clem’s Sweet Tweets

 

Sign for Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Sign for Saint John Paul II National Shrine

 

 

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Archbishop Charles Chaput visits UVA

 

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., D.D.

We were very honored to have a visit in Charlottesville from Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap., on February 18th, as a speaker at the St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at the University of Virginia.  Archbishop Chaput gave a very good talk entitled City Upon a Hill:  Augustine, John Winthrop and the soul of the American Experiment Today.  Archbishop Chaput has been a great advocate for American Catholics to know their role in being faithful citizens, and it is part of everyone’s call to holiness to be involved in making a free and just society.

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia's St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thiught

Archbishop Chaput speaking at The University of Virginia’s St. Anshelm Insitute of Catholic Thought

Archbishop Chaput is a member of the Prairie Band Potawatomi Tribe, and was the second Native American to be ordained bishop in the United States, and the first Native American archbishop. He chose as his episcopal motto: “As Christ Loved the Church” (Ephesians 5:25)  Archbishop Chaput has served as a bishop of South Dakota and worked in the church for Native American issues, and spoke about Indian Spirtuality and its good and bad points, and why many Native American’s are drawn to the love of Jesus Christ.  Archbishop Chaput has also served as bishop of Denver, and presently in Philadelphia.  I find it most interesting that he as a Franciscan Capuchin, and his fellow bishop (Cardinal Sean O’Malley) were both called to “rebuild the church” in two of the most challenging dioceses in America (Philadelphia & Boston) that were affected by scandal and corruption.  I am extememly proud of my fellow Franciscan bishops, and that Pope Francis, in choosing his name, to take on this task of renewing our beautiful Catholic Faith in the spirit of St. Francis “to rebuild God’s house.”

Archbishop Chaput was just two weeks earlier called by Pope Francis to join the new Pontifical Council on the Laity.  Archbishop Chaput spoke in his talk of the great importance of the laity to help with the church in evangelization, prayer, support, and active participation amongst everyone, including those in the secular world.  Archbishop Chaput said he does not know yet what he will be doing on this new council, but looks forward to the challenges ahead.  I was pleased to meet him after his talk, and wished him well and said that he will be in my prayers.

I encourage you to view his entire talk, because I can’t do it justice in my writing, and the Q&A afterward in link below.

LINKS

Video of Archbishop Chaput’s Talk

St. Anshelm Institute for Catholic Thought at UVA

Archbishop Chaput’s website at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Pontifical Council for the Laity (Vatican)

Previous Blog about Archbishop Chaput at the Fortnight for Freedom Mass in DC

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Cold Hard Truth — March for Life 2014

It was a cold five degrees today in Washington, D.C. for the 41st Annual March for Life, but that did not dampen the enthusiam for tens of thousands of people from across America advocating for the dignity of life from conception to natural death in this country.  I was very moved at the fortitude of so many people coming out in harsh weather conditions to fight for a noble cause in saving innocent life.  Life that is under constant threat regarding abortion, aging, healthcare, and developemental disability rights.  It is sad to report that the count is now up to 55 million babies murdered since the passage of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973.

Many arriving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

Many arriving during snow storm at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

There were thousands of people who came to visit the National Shrine on Tuesday for many activities including, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and Confessions, and Prayer Vigil for Life that filled the many chapels and the Basilica with faithful from around the nation.  It was so upilifitng to see the youth of today practicing their faith so devoutly.

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

I then went to visit the Blessed John Paul II Shrine which is just a few blocks away from the National Shrine.  I was blessed to attend a Mass at the Shrine and the chaplain invited attendees to  venerate a new relic that was a piece of the vestment that Pope John Paul II wore when he was shot.  It was a moving experience for many, and especially this year when he will be officially canonized on April 27th (Divine Mercy Sunday) along with Pope John XXIII.  During our Mass there was a lot of construction noise as the Knights of Columbus are busily getting the Shrine ready for events in April.  There will be many events announced soon for the canonization including a Masses at the National Shrine and a procession of the Holy Eucharist up the road to the “Saint John Paul II Shrine.”  There will be a new 400 seat chapel unveiled for the canonization that includes a new sacristy and confessionals where the sacrament of reconciliation will be offered every day.  They are also remaking a 14,ooo square foot area in the basement featuring interactive displays on the life and teachings of Saint John Paul II, but unfortunately will not be ready until July.

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

March for Life 2014

I arrived early at 10am on the National Mall and was one of the first to see all the crews setting up the sound system.  I was really psyched to meet Matt Maher as he arrived for his sound check in fridged tempertures to play an accoustic guitar.  I have included a link to his last music album below from SoundCloud – definately worth a listen.

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

I was also priviledged to meet Gus Lloyd and Fr. Jonathan Morris from The Catholic Channel on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio.  Great to see them in action providing wonderful Catholic radio programming accross the nation.  I also met Teresa Tomeo, from EWTN, and seeing their camera teams in action offering live TV coverage interviewing many eager participants in the march.

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Catholic New Media

The March for Life became more involved with using social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  The March for Life also unveiled a new logo for 2014.  There were also two new Apps that became good resources for the March for Life this year.

  • The March for Life App offered a list of events, maps, ticket links, news, video, take action, and education resources.
  • Nine Days for Life App offering a nine day novena from January 18-26.  It offered prayers, meditation, and suggested exercises of faith.  I also like that it offered the time of day you could select to get a reminder text sent to you from the USCCB.

New Ways in Saving Lives

Save The Storks Bus

Save The Storks Bus

Save the Storks is a new program offering mobile vans that offer loving support to women thinking about abortions.  The vans are equipped with a screen to watch supportive pro-life videos, and offer 3-D sonograms of their babies.  Pregnancy resource centers are able to park these units outside abortion clinics to show Christ’s love and compassion to help women in making a lifesaving decision.  Save the Storks is looking to grow this program to more communities, and has made a wonderful start in serving the Archdiocese of Boston over the past three years.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Lifeboat Coffee is a new coffee company that offers gourmet coffee in both ground and whole-bean.  All the proceeeds from the sale of these coffees go to help for the cause of the pro-life movenent.  You can find out more about their wonderful story and how to get their coffee at the link below.

LifeBoatCoffee

 

 

 

 

 

Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

The Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

The crowds from many walks of life marched up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court.  When I arrived with the other photographers before the crowd turned the corner, I was pleased to see my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope there praying the rosary.  He is a wonderful priest for the Diocese of Washington, and is the main writer for the diocesan blog which now has many readers.  He recently rededicated the Ten Commandments monument which is just behind the Supreme Court which had been vandelized.  I continue to pray for the end of legalized abortions and the protection of innocent life in our country and thankful for so many people who came out for the 2014 March for Life — God Bless you all.

The Ten Commandments Monument

The Ten Commandments Monument

God’s Grace

I did have one other casualty on the March for Life — my iPhone battery.  It was so cold that it drained much quicker than anticipated.  I think the Holy Spirit intervened– while visiting a Starbucks, some very kind young people from Florida who were here for the March for Life, let me borrow their charger, which was a life-saver (God Bless you again).

Angels from Florida

Angels from Florida

LINKS

March for Life

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

Matt Maher on SoundCloud

March for Life App (iTunes)

March for Life App (Google Play)

9 Days for Life Website

9 Days for Life App (iTunes)

9Days for Life App (Google Play)

Save the Storks

Lifeboat Coffee

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill

 

March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill

March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill

 

A person's a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

A person’s a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

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Catholic App Roundup for 2013

Catholic Apps

 

There were a number of new and updated Catholic Apps that were released this year that you may find useful to add to your mobile device:

In case you missed it, here is the Catholic App Roundup for 2012

Coming in 2014:

God Bless,

John

MaryAppMIC

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