Catholic Charities USA – Parish Social Ministry Training

Dr. Chris Gross talking during Theology on Tap

Dr. Chris Gross talking during Theology on Tap

Church of the Incarnation and the Diocese of Richmond was honored to host one of two regional gatherings for Social Ministry trainings held by Catholic Charities USA.  This two day conference offered many great speakers sharing their experiences and resources in social ministries serving in the local parish community and abroad.

Prayers sung in Haitian Creole before luncheon.

Prayers sung in Haitian Creole before luncheon.

Friday evening began with Theology on Tap with Dr. Chris Gross, who is currently teaching at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C.  Dr. Gross offered a compelling talk about how Social Justice issues and Respect Life issues are linked and should not be separated.  Dr. Gross drew close ties between Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium and Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae  in making his case that social ministries need to be attentive to all social justice issues facing the modern church.   This was a theme that echoed among many speakers including the keynote talk on Sunday from John Carr.  John Carr teaches at Georgetown University and writes for America Magazine.  Mr. Carr spoke about how he help develop a guidebook for parishes to develop Social Ministries with the United Stated Conference of Catholic Bishops called Communities of Salt and Light (link below).

 USCCB Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development uses this document as a lens through which to explore contemporary social ministry today and offers resources, best practices, and other materials to aid social ministry in a variety of settings.


Listen to John Carr’s great talk on how to help social ministries at parishes (MP3)


John Carr offering keynote speech to Parish Social Ministry conference

John Carr offering keynote speech to Parish Social Ministry conference

The Social Ministry conference also offered inspiring talks from Fr. Gerry Creedon, Chair of Peace and Justice Commission (Diocese of Arlington) who spoke about his amazing journey serving around the world in his talk “Pro-Justice, Pro-Life, Pro-Advocate.”  Dr. Kimberly Maczyk of Catholic Relief Services spoke about “Partnerships with Catholic Relief Services” and that there are many great resources offered by CRS for parishes (link below)


Fr. Gerry Creedon leading small discussion groups.


Haiti Ministry

The Diocese of Richmond now has 53 parishes who are twinned with another parish community in Haiti.  The Haiti Committee reported on successes in their programs helping with poverty, healthcare, and education.  The Shalom Fund has been established to offer scholarships to students performing well in school, and just awarded funding to 15 students who will keep getting continued support, as long as grades remain in good standing.  JustHaiti coffee was served and sold at this event, which offers fair trade coffee supporting funding back to the local growers.  The Church of the Incarnation has a twinning project in Haiti with the Little Brothers and Sisters of the Incarnation, and have built a school, health clinic, and now support chicken farming which have enriched the community to help them be self-sustaining.


Hispanic Ministry

There was a very good panel discussion on how parishes can help to bridge the divisions between Latino and Anglo parishioners within a parish.  Daniel Villar from the Diocese of Richmond’s Hispanic ministry recommended we need to help educate and understand each other’s cultures and to work toward integration not assimilation.  The conference offered simultaneous Spanish translations for attendees wearing a radio headset, and a variety of the conference talks were held in Spanish.  Fr. John Converset (Comboni missionary priest) also offered a wonderful talk about “Caring for God’s Creation” and his work with both in Latin America and Africa.

Many resources offered by many ministries and support organizations at conference.

Many resources offered by many ministries and support organizations at conference.



Catholic Charities USA

Office of Social Ministries – Diocese of Richmond

Catholic Relief Services – CRS Resource Center

Haiti Ministry – Office of Social Ministries – Diocese of Richmond

Hispanic Ministry – Diocese of Richmond

Communities of Salt & Light (USCCB)

Diocese of Richmond Global Partnership Handbook

Parish Social Ministries Handbook – Catholic Charities USA

JustHaiti Coffee

Catholics Mobilizing Network


Share Button

Footprints for Peace


This past weekend, my parish–Church of the Incarnation, hosted a group called Footprints for Peace.  They are marching, running, and cycling from the nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee to the UN Building in New York City, and stopped in Charlottesville overnight for refreshment and fellowship.  Footprints for Peace states on their website:

We are a global community of friends who are dedicated to creating change through peaceful action. We organize events throughout the world that bring together in solidarity a moving community to deepen our understanding of spiritual, cultural, and environmental issues. Our aim is to educate, inspire, and empower individuals and communities in building a sustainable future.


Every five years, Footprints for Peace have walked as a group from Oak Ridge, TN, where the Hiroshima bomb was manufactured and where weapons of mass destruction are still being developed, to the UN Building in New York City, in time for the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty Review.   Our parish hosted a bountiful potluck dinner and breakfast for the group, and they shared stories in their lives of why they were making this pilgrimage:

  • One marcher was a Buddhist Monk for 40 years who was living only 100 miles from the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in Japan.  He was very disturbed by the devastating long-term environmental and human impacts of the nuclear pollution in his home country and is hoping he will be heard in New York.  It was moving to hear his story and see his heartfelt devotion to march to the United Nations.
  • One speaker was from the aboriginal peoples of Australia.  She was very concerned about uranium mining in her homeland and the horrible impacts that have displaced communities.  She loves Australia, and wants to protect the people and environment, and you could really identify with the plight of so many people being displaced without regard for human life as she told her story.



There was also a meaningful discussion about local environmental issues facing the local area:

  • Fracking of gas in West Virginia and to bring pipeline across Virginia by Dominion Power.
  • Additional nuclear reactor proposed at Lake Anna Nuclear Power Plant by Dominion Power.  The current reactors needed to shut down and repaired after a 5.2 magnitude earthquake in August 2011, and realization that reactors sit on the fault-line.
  • Mountain-top removal in nearby coal mining areas of Virginia and West Virginia.
  • Fracking approved in George Washington and Jefferson National Forests.

Encouragement was mutual with all in attendance to continue to lobby for issues to protect the environment.  It was amazing to see this ecumenical group from many nations and faiths united in a noble cause to end use of nuclear power and weapons for future generations.  I am really looking forward to the upcoming encyclical from Pope Francis, who will likely touch on the issues of protecting the environment and finding new ways to get power with renewable resources such as solar, geo-thermal, and bio-energy.  Please keep this group in your prayers as they will be marching to Three-Mile Island Nuclear facility for a prayer vigil, and then onto New York City at the United Nations building by April 25, 2015.




Footprints for Peace Website

Follow Footprints for Peace on Facebook

United Nations Non Proliferation Treaty Review April 27 – May 22

Environmental issues in Virginia from Sierra Club


Share Button

2015 March for Life in Washington, DC

March for Life 2015

2015 March for Life coming up Capitol Hill

This year’s March for Life was a success with 500,000+ people marching peacefully for the respect for life.   Christians came from many corners of America with many inspired young people, and also many other religious communities, colleges, and high schools.  The mild weather was a blessing that helped bring in larger crowds, a big change over the usually chilly Washington Winter.

Warming up the pipes before the March for Life

Warming up the pipes before the March for Life


Media at the March for Life:

In the media area was EWTN and The Catholic Channel (Sirius/XM Satellite Radio).  I did see Brian Patrick, Teresa Tomeo, and Gus Lloyd, who all are in the photo below.  It was great to see all the Catholic Media, but disappointed that there was very little main stream media coverage.  The Washington Post provided a half- page article the next day.



Preparations at the stage in the National Mall before speakers rally.  March for Life Twitter and App were good sources of info to marchers during the day.


Supporters at the Supreme Court moments before the March for Life arrives…


There was one interesting moment this year.   There was a group of people protesting the March for Life wearing bloody trousers in support of “abortion on demand”.  Normally they are here each year and protest without incident on the side.  But this year they came across the street and physically blocked the march.  The March for Life groups were always peaceful and cooperated with the Capitol Police who handled the situation very professionally.  Nobody is allowed to block a public roadway and the protestors were in violation of that law, so the Capitol Police are required to issue three warnings before making an arrest.  All but about ten of the protestors gave up who were then taken away by Capitol Police in a peaceful resolution.


March for Life obstructionists who refused three warnings, were arrested by Capitol Police to allow the March for Life to continue.  The whole process stopped the March for Life for about 30 minutes.   The March for Life participants were very understanding and many said we need to pray for these people also — that they have a change of heart in their understanding of life.


The March went on peacefully and successfully!


Our Lady of Fatima and Drum and Pipe Corp brought the March for Life to its conclusion…until January 22, 2016.


Great Homily by Cardinal Sean O’Malley at the Vigil Mass at the 2015 March for Life at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception


March for Life

Personhood USA

Powerful Homily of Cardinal Sean O’Malley at the Vigil Mass

St. Thomas More Society – legal assistance

Share Button

2014 Catholic App Roundup

2014 offered a number of new and updated Catholic Apps:

1) CRS Ricebowl App:  this is a wonderful app for Lent – just updated for Lent 2015 (iOS & Droid)

  • Thoughtful daily reflections
  • Easy to use tool to set and measure your Lenten sacrifices
  • Delicious meatless recipes from around the world
  • Built-in feature to share your Lenten experience



2) Black Friars Media App:  Dominican prayers, music, and video from the Dominicans of St. Joseph Province (iOS, Droid, Windows)



3) Catholic Social Teaching App:  many documents on Catholic social teachings (iOS)



4) Peace Quest App:  contemplative prayer in a 3-D World (iOS)



5) Lentsanity App:  assistance in the season of Advent by FOCUS Campus Ministry (iOS & Droid)

  • Prayers
  • Reflections
  • Meat Police:  Meatless reminders
  • Videos


Screen grab of Lentsanity app

6)  Church of the Nativity App:  Tour virtual 3-D areas of the Church of the Nativity in Jerusalem (iOS)



7) The Mass Explained App:  learn many aspects of the Mass with this interactive and educational app (iOS – iPad only) updated 2014



8) St. Francis App:  app about St. Francis of Assisi with daily reflections prayers, history, and Franciscan Spirituality (iOS & Droid)



9) Franciscan Apps:  a number of apps exploring Franciscan Spirituality




Share Button

Capuchin Cafe – a new ministry of Capuchin College & Friary


Capuchin Cafe is a new ministry started and hosted by the Capuchin Friars in Washington, D.C.  The Capuchin Cafe is a free monthly coffeehouse open to the public offering faith, fellowship, food, fun, and coffee.  The young brothers of the friary have worked very hard to convert the unused cellar below the chapel into a welcoming coffeehouse.  This special evening fell on the Feast of St. Cecilia (the patron saint of music and musicians) and the vigil of the great Feast of Christ Our King, so it started with Adoration and a beautiful worship and praise service including inspiring preaching from Fr. Paul Dressler, the Director of Formation of the Capuchin College & Friary.


The Capuchin Friars have a wonderful band that got everyone singing at the top of their lungs, and packed the chapel with neighbors of “Little Rome” which is in the middle of Catholic University and surrounded by many religious communities who joined together in the celebrations and praise.


Cleanse and Fill Your Soul

During the coffeehouse, there were also four priest available for confessions using the confessionals upstairs.  This coffeehouse was a wonderful place of sharing in conversation, hugs, and joyous singing, with smiles seen in every corner of the coffeehouse.  Outside in the courtyard, many young people also enjoyed the fire pit engaged in conversations and laughter.  Inside the Capuchin Cafe , the friars from the Dominican House of Studies played on the new stage and sound-system with the band called the Hillbilly Thomists.  These Dominicans rocked the cafe and had everyone clapping and singing along.




Some of the brothers showed off their baking skills, by providing hospitality with Capuchin gingerbread men, scones, and pastries in addition to the wonderful coffee served at this new coffeehouse.  A group of young women from the Cap Corp Volunteers also helped in running the Cafe.  These young ladies live in an intentional community nearby and serve as volunteers helping the Capuchin order with works of mercy in the community.


Fr. Paul Dressler closed the evening with a moving prayer, and we all sang the Salve Regina.  What a wonderful gathering and I encourage you to go experience Capuchin Cafe for some inspiring Franciscan hospitality and spirituality.





MORE GREAT PHOTOS by Brother Matt Hindelang, OFM Cap.

Note:  Capuchin College and Friary is currently working on a new website, that will be shared in a future blog and will include the Capuchin Cafe schedule.

If you are interested in the Capuchin Order of Franciscans, please contact:

Fr. Paul Dressler, O.F.M. Capuchin

Director of Formation, Capuchin College

4121 Harewood Road, N.E.

Washington, D.C. 20017

(202) 529-2188  x157




Share Button

Saint John Paul II National Shrine Opens to join “Holy Trinity of Pilgrimage Sites”


Pope John Paul II Cultural Center

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Now you have THREE reasons to come to Washington DC’s “Little Rome.”  Wednesday, October 22nd marked the Grand Opening of the permanent exhibit of the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C.  The Shrine and the exhibit are FREE and open to the public Monday – Saturday, 10am-5pm, closed on Sundays and Federal Holidays.  The Saint John Paul II Shrine is a gift of the Knights of Columbus to the Church and to the world, as they purchased the Shrine in 2011.  The Shrine is overseen by the Archdiocese of Washington.  October 22, 2014 was the first recognized Feast Day since John Paul II “The Great” was canonized, and at The JPII National Shrine, a beautiful Mass was celebrated with many people in attendance including: religious orders, young, old, school children, and people of the many cultures that John Paul II touched.


Mass on Feast of Saint John Paul II at JPII National Shrine

Mass on Feast of Saint John Paul II at JPII National Shrine

The exhibit opens with a brilliant multimedia movie on a screen that surrounds the audience, and offers a quick review of the life and holiness of Saint John Paul II.  The exhibit offers many great items to see during his lifetime and pontificate, and it you will find it very spiritually fulfilling to visit and experience this great Shrine.  A Gift of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II, is a major permanent exhibit dedicated to preserving and promoting the memory and legacy of St. John Paul II. Covering some 16,000 square feet, this permanent exhibit offers a unique experience of learning and inspiration that invites visitors to imitate the virtues and holiness of St. John Paul II.  The exhibit ends with another surround screen movie at the end of John Paul II’s life and his legacy as a saint.  It is only appropriate that one then leaves the exhibit in the Hall of Saints that highlights the universal call to holiness, he beatified 1,340 people and canonized 483 saints, more than the combined tally of his predecessors during the preceding five centuries.

Timeline of Saint John Paul II at National Shrine

Timeline of Saint John Paul II at National Shrine

Saint John Paul II Relics

The Saint John Paul II National Shrine has two 1st class relics of Saint John Paul II.  The first is a vial of blood that was a gift to the shrine from Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, which was blood that was taken from Pope John Paul II during a blood transfusion.  The second is a piece of blood-stained cloth from a vestment that Pope John Paul II was wearing when he was shot on May 13, 1981.  Shrine staff helped many people in getting religious items blessed with the relic such as rosaries, crosses, and holy cards.

Relic of Saint John Paul II (blood)

Relic of Saint John Paul II (blood)

Plans for Saint John Paul II National Shrine

The Knights of Columbus have done a wonderful job updating this wonderful shrine, but there is still more work and fundraising ahead to complete the shrine. Construction is currently underway on a new church that will accommodate larger crowds for daily Mass, that is being added to the front of the building.   Also, behind the building a family picnic area is being established, all construction on the Saint John Paul II National Shrine should be completed sometime in 2017.  You should make plans to visit this wonderful National Shrine, which here in “Little Rome”, joins the other two great pilgrimage sites of  the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception & the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land (all must see pilgrimage sites) — Now:  The Holy Trinity of Pilgrimage Sites!  Also in the area: The Catholic University of America, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dominican House of Studies, Capuchin College & Friary, the John Paul II Seminary, Pax Christi, USA, and the Brookland/CUA Metro stop.

JPII shrine under construction

JPII National Shrine under construction


Following was a prayer issued on a prayer card at the Feast Day Mass:

Prayer for the Intercession of Saint John Paul II

O Blessed Trinity, we thank you

for having graced the Church with

Saint John Paul II and for allowing

the tenderness of your fatherly care,

the glory of the Cross of Christ

and the splendor of the Spirit of love

to shine through him.

Trusting fully in your infinite mercy

and in the maternal intercession of Mary,

he has given us a living image of

Jesus the Good Shepherd.

He has shown us that holiness

is the necessary measure of ordinary

Christian life and is the way of

achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession,

and according to your will,

the grace we implore,

through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

(with ecclesiastical approval, +Donald Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington)



Saint John Paul II National Shrine website

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception website

Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America website

Previous Blog about Canonizations of John XXIII & John Paul II from the John Paul II National Shrine

Previous blog about John Paul II Cultural Center (name before it became a national shrine in 2014)

Portrait of Saint John Paul II

Portrait of Saint John Paul II

Share Button

The Mass Explained App

The Mass Explained App

The Mass Explained is a new app for that teaches the history, traditions, symbols, art, music, and spirit of the Mass.  This app is currently only available for Apple’s iPad & iPad mini, and truly takes advantage of all the multimedia power of the iPad to bring the Mass to new light and understanding for the reader.  This app may seem expensive at $24.99, but once you realize that it took years to develop with many resources that require royalty/copyright fees, this is quite a value that will be a worthwhile reference for years to come.  Dan Gonzalez is the man behind the scenes who has assembled one of the finest Catholic Apps yet on the market.  It is am amazing app that has the potential to get more people excited about “The Mass–the Source and Summit of our Catholic Faith”, offering over 300 multimedia pages:

  • 23 Chapters offering deeper knowledge and understanding of The Mass
  • Writings from The New American Bible
  • Catechism of the Catholic Church
  • 3-D Objects can be rotated with your finger
  • Interactive Maps
  • 360 Panoramas of Holy Sites
  • Videos to enrich content
  • Audio of music and prayers
  • Artwork with scalable images


Educational Discount

I really think that the Mass Explained App offers a new chapter in catechesis.  Schools and groups interested in learning about the Mass in RCIA, study groups, and schools should look into this opportunity for discounted app to make this more affordable.  This App offers a great experience for the reader, learner, and teacher to learn many aspects of the Mass in Gospel and Liturgy.   The app is available through Apple’s Volume Purchase Program (VPP) allowing your school, class, institution, parish or group to receive a 50% discount when purchasing the app in quantities of 20 or more. When purchased through Apple’s VPP, Mass Explained can be distributed to your students or group members through redeemable codes or installed over the air automatically without user interaction. VPP purchases may be made using purchase orders, credit cards or PayPal. For more information on Apple’s VPP, visit

NOTE:  The Mass Explained App is all self-contained and does not need internet connection for its content, so it can be used in any classroom.  It is a large app and needs 299MB of memory space.

This is a nice introductory video offering a sampling of its content.

Take a look at the links below for more information, and to see the many endorsements and praises this app is receiving.  The blog also offers printable kids crafts, and book & video resources.  There is one book not mentioned that is one of the best books about The Mass:  The Lamb’s Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth by Dr. Scott Hahn.  This app reminds me of this book that first sparked my awakening to the history, beauty, truth, and goodness of The Mass.


Mass Explained App website

The Mass Explained Blog



Share Button

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: 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 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



A New Way to Pray a Traditional Way (by John Clem in The Catholic Virginian September 1st, 2014)  weblink to article

Share Button

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!

1975137_643635565707811_3201808258657966820_n copy


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




1097968_609424582462243_2058187276_n copy


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

Share Button

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.



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)


Share Button