Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tens of Thousands Rally in Spain in Defense of Traditional Family

Tens of thousands of people in predominantly Roman Catholic Spain rallied Sunday in defense of the traditional family in a country where the government has legalized gay marriage and facilitated divorce.

The crowd roared when Pope Benedict XVI appeared on giant TV screens in a live hookup from St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, praising the crowd.

The pope, speaking during the traditional noon Sunday Angelus prayer, said the family is "based on the unbreakable union of man and woman and represents the privileged environment where human life is welcomed and protected from the beginning to its natural end."

"It is worthwhile to work for the family and marriage because it is worthwhile to work for the human being, the most precious being created by God," the pope said, speaking in Spanish. He urged parents to bring up their children with respect for the moral values that give dignity to human life.

It was Benedict's latest appeal for the traditional family, a central theme of his papacy. The Vatican has campaigned against proposals to legalize gay marriage, and denounced Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's government for passing a law recognizing gay marriage.

The rally filled a central intersection, Plaza de Colon, and spilled over into neighboring streets. No crowd estimates were available.

The president of the Spanish Bishops Conference, Ricardo Blazquez, said the term "traditional family" often is interpreted as an anachronism.

But, he said, the traditional family "is rooted in human nature itself."

"Its validity is a thing of yesterday, today and tomorrow," he said.


The Curtain Falls

Beyond the Sea - Bobby Darin:

Beyond the Sea - Kevin Spacey pretending to be Bobby Darin:

Mack the Knife - Bobby Darin:

Splish Splash (His Final Performance)

If I Were A Carpenter

Simple Song of Freedom


Midnight Special:

Active Priest, 98, Was Devoted to Parish

On Aug. 1, 1944, Heliodore Mejak said his first Mass at Holy Family Church in Kansas City, Kan. Sixty-three years later, the church is looking for a new priest.

Mejak, 98, died Christmas Day, ending perhaps the longest tenure of a priest at a U.S. parish. Monsignor Mejak may also have been the country’s oldest active priest, according to the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

“To be that old and to continue to function and to care for the community, that certainly shows his dedication and his love for his people,” said Thomas Tank, vicar general of the archdiocese. Mejak became a priest in 1935 and served under seven popes.

He will be remembered not only for his longevity but for his staunchly traditional Catholicism and his devotion to his parish, where he was also the church handyman, lawn cutter, financial manager and compiler of the weekly bulletin.

“He was a stellar priest,” said Mary Ann Grelinger, a former parishioner at Holy Family who wrote a 2006 biography on Mejak for a priests’ magazine called Homiletic & Pastoral Review. “He said Mass every day. He never took a day off or a vacation. Most priests do. He didn’t.”

Mejak celebrated Mass until about a week before he died, even though he had become progressively weaker, was losing his vision and used a walker.

“He couldn’t see,” said Kevin Fogarty, a Wyandotte County firefighter who has been attending Holy Family Church regularly for about 10 years. “He wore ‘welding goggles’ with huge magnifiers. When he said Mass, it was obvious he was reciting from memory. He couldn’t read it at all.”

Mejak may be best known for his resistance to changes in the church. Holy Family, a Slovenian parish, drew people who believed as he did. He was the last priest in the archdiocese to stop celebrating Mass in Latin in the wake of the Vatican II church reforms approved in the 1960s.

Mejak did not want laypeople to serve communion and said the host should only be served directly from a priest’s hand, rather than placing it in the hand of the recipient. He wanted people to kneel rather than stand for communion.

When Vatican II called on people to shake hands or hug as a sign of peace during Mass, Mejak ignored it.

“He said the presence of Jesus Christ on the alter should be the focus, not each other,” Grelinger said. “A sign of peace was something that distracted from the Eucharist.”

Kirk Kramer, an editor of the Digital Library of the Catholic Reformation in Virginia, attended Holy Family Church in the 1980s while a student at the University of Kansas. He recalled Mejak’s church as a refuge for Catholic traditionalists.

“His parish, his church was a haven of holiness,” Kramer said. “There was a sense of the sacred and the mysterious and the beautiful at a time when you had to look for that. When you went to Holy Family, you got the Mass of the church, authentic Catholic doctrine and not theological opinion.”

Charles Andalikiewicz, 77, had known Mejak since he was a boy growing up in the neighborhood of the church. Andalikiewicz is priest of Immaculate Conception Church in Louisburg, Kan.

“He was very humble, very loyal and a gentle man,” Andalikiewicz said. “He was also very scholarly.”

Mejak was a train buff who built electric trains in the church basement that he liked to show children, Grelinger recalled. He built the trains using old pictures and drawings as a guide.

Mejak graduated from what now is Bishop Ward High School in 1927. He went to St. Benedictine College in Atchison, Kan., and Catholic University in Washington and became a priest in 1935.

He served several churches in Kansas before being assigned to the Holy Family, where he had to learn the Slovenian language.

Troubles for Church Meant to Commemorate Pope John Paul II

WARSAW, Poland - Financial problems are threatening the completion of a Warsaw church meant to commemorate the late Pope John Paul II and the fall of communism.

Plans for the Church of Divine Providence have faced a series of setbacks since its cornerstone was laid in 1791 — occupations, world wars and decades of communism

The yet-unbuilt church won a new patron in the years after communism — the Polish-born Pope John Paul II — and hopes arose that it would be built swiftly. But nearly five years into renewed construction, financial problems are thwarting completion of the massive basilica.

"If we fail to raise enough money, we will be forced to suspend the building work," said the Rev. Janusz Bodzon, vice president of a church foundation overseeing the project...

What the finished building will look like:

I suggest the following redesign:

"Just What's Going On?"

"With all the conversation on the internet since Christmas about the recent changes in liturgical style at papal liturgies the question seems to be on the lips of many: "Just what's going on?" I've had lots of emails commenting on my posts and even more asking what I think may be next. Lots of folks out there are wondering if the sedia gestatoria will now return or if the Holy Father will suddenly decide to appear wearing the triple tiara...


Just what document of Vatican II says that we are to pretend everything that happened prior to 1962 is to be discarded?

If using a cope from 1958 is moving the Church backward into a past where things were worse then what does it say about our faith that we look to Scriptures written over 1,500 years in the past or look backward for our principal form of prayer to the sacrifice of Calvary that happened so long ago? If looking to the past is a bad thing then that has to be true across the board. But, of course, that's absurd.

The revival of the some of the older liturgical accoutrements is not an advocay that we go back to a time prior to Vatican II. I don't think this Pope wishes to undermine Vatican II at all. Instead, what we have now is a Pope who FINALLY wants to start implementing exactly what the Council advocated instead of permitting the egotistical nonsense Bugnini and his followers foisted upon the Church for close to 40 years..."

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Volunteers at Anchorage Catholic Hospital Touch Tiniest Lives

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (CNS) -- It just might be the sweetest, cuddliest volunteer opportunity in the whole state of Alaska.

For 67 volunteers at Providence Hospital in Anchorage, that opportunity is called the "Kuddle Korps." Little training is required. You just have to love very small babies, and have the patience to sit for a couple of hours in a rocking chair holding them quietly.

At the hospital's neonatal intensive care unit, Dale Bader is the lead volunteer for the Kuddle Korps, and she also "rocks" during a two-hour weekly shift with the tiny infants.

Bader has rocked for five years and it shows.

Her motherly -- and grandmotherly -- instincts are undeniable as she tenderly but very efficiently tucks a premature infant into her arms.

"When I quit work, I knew I needed something to do. And I knew I wanted to hold babies," said the grandmother of seven. "I called every hospital in town."

The right call went to Providence Hospital where the neonatal intensive care unit is the largest in the state. Every other hospital in Alaska refers newborn babies who are premature or born with complications to Providence.

Nurse Nouha Wallin said they've had babies at Providence as small as a pound or born at only 23 weeks gestation -- a full-term pregnancy being 40 weeks. The busy nurses often can't provide all the touching and holding each baby needs.

That's where the Kuddle Korps comes in.

Pointing to a small blue bundle lying peacefully in the arms of a "rocker," Wallin said, "This little guy was crabby and I was very busy. We hope the Kuddle Korps knows how much we appreciate them."

Parents, of course, are the rockers-in-chief. But when a baby has to spend several weeks, or even months, in intensive care, parents sometimes have to get back to their own routines or work schedules and can't be at the hospital day and night. This is especially true for parents from out of town who may have to travel back and forth to see their infants.

In these cases, the Kuddle Korps fills in. There are college men who are "rockers" -- the minimum age is 16 -- and there is even a regular volunteer who is 99. To volunteer, you must pass a security screening and then go through Providence Hospital's volunteer training plus Bader's introduction to the program and the neonatal intensive care unit.

After three months on the job, volunteers go through a more intensive training, including information from an occupational therapist on infant development.

The neonatal intensive care unit is a hushed place, with plenty of nurses quietly making their rounds from bassinet to bassinet. Soft lighting dims in the evenings to accommodate the body's natural rhythm. Some babies are on oxygen, some just recovering from surgery. Tiny twins lay side by side with eyes wide open. The entryway is full of grateful letters from parents and lots of pictures of smiling, healthy "alums."

Dr. Lily Lou, medical director of the unit, is unequivocal in her praise of the Kuddle Korps.

"For any baby that can't be home with their families, it's a lifesaver," the doctor said.

Occupational therapist Carol Matthews agrees.

"There's a huge difference in the way babies act and look when they're regularly touched and held," she said, adding that studies show that being touched is necessary for the proper development and even survival of infants.

Friday, December 28, 2007

C6 Corvette Commercial (Pulled)

The Mass

Easter Sunday 1941

"It is a long established principle of the church, never to completely drop from
her public worship, any ceremony, object, or prayer, which once occupied
a place in that worship." - Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

God Only Knows

I Get Around

Fly Me to the Moon

That's Amore

2nd (Jerryless) Version for Swissmiss:

Current Crop 'Not Right for Westminster'

Posted by Damian Thompson on 28 Dec 2007 at 10:51

More and more Catholic priests are coming to the conclusion that Pope Benedict must look outside the present hierarchy for the next Archbishop of Westminster.

Westminster Cathedral
The appointment of the next Archbishop could be crucial

I’m not saying that because I think the current bishops are mediocre, but because so many clergy – by no means all traditionalists – are quietly signalling their desire for a complete break with the past. I hear it wherever I go.

Here’s an email I received this morning from a non-partisan parish priest who has worked for the Bishops’ Conference:

"The bishops all play the same game. For the most part they want to look good in the eyes of Rome, and so they never say anything that would get them reported, but neither do they in any way support what comes from Rome.

"A great deal depends on who is appointed to Westminster. I hope very much that the Holy Father is making use of his own English contacts to sound out opinion here. I have been surprised to find a strong desire for a change even among priests I would have termed 1960/70s liberals. The need is for real leadership and a real sense that we are following the lead given by the Pope.

"I don’t think that any of present hierarchy (to use a word they don’t like) would fit the bill. I hope that the Nuncio is up to the task or that Rome will bypass him."

That’s a very, very interesting point about the Nuncio. But I’ll save my thoughts on him for another post.

"Do Not Confuse Benny Hill with Benny Hinn"

"Which is exactly what I did a few years ago. I was checking the TV listings for something to watch late at night. I saw what I thought was Benny Hill at and thought to myself, "There that's the ticket!" - Father R.

To Bury the Dead

St. Ignatius student pallbearers provide a dignified burial when there's no one else around

Story by Wendy A. Hoke
Photos by William Rieter

Members of St. Ignatius High School’s Joseph of Arimathea Society earlier this fall carry the casket of Stanley Bem to his final resting place at Holy Cross Cemetery.

The sun is shining brightly on this Feast of All Saints. The air is crisp as the golden maple leaves cast a warm glow across the gently rolling field.

St. Ignatius High School students and teachers are gathered in the center near a grove of trees for a solemn service that on this day will honor those whom they have carried to their final resting place.

Driving down Green Road just north of Harvard, this spot could easily be missed. It’s sandwiched between a golf course and a recycling center. A battered wooden fence and narrow asphalt drive appear to lead nowhere.

But this is holy ground.

Cleveland’s Potter’s Field, where tens of thousands of Jane and John Does are buried with little more than a small wooden stake, if anything, as a marker of their life on this earth.

The leaders of the school’s Joseph of Arimathea Society—pallbearers for those who have no family or friends to perform the service—have chosen this place annually to remember those whom society has forgotten and to honor those whom they have served throughout the year.

Aside from a large stone that serves as a communal marker, there’s little known about the inhabitants of Potter’s Field and little evidence of this even being a cemetery save a torn plastic flag, a crude cross made of two twigs lashed together, a statue of St. Francis and some plastic flowers.

Leaders of the Joseph of Arimathea Society honor the place by reading the names of the people whose caskets they have carried. For every 20 names a single bell tolls.

Grant them eternal rest, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine on them forever, for you are rich in mercy.

Named for the man who requested Jesus’ body from Pontius Pilate for a proper burial, the Joseph of Arimathea Society grew out of the work of the Christian Action Team, the umbrella organization for service activities at St. Ignatius High School. “We wanted to have service in place that accomplishes all the corporal works of mercy,” explains Ed DeVenney, campus minister.

Various programs feed and clothe the poor, tend to the sick and visit the lonely, but team leaders wanted to do more.

In 2003, St. Ignatius was the first high school in the country to provide the pallbearer service. It has necessarily grown to become the largest extracurricular activity at the Near West Side school. “It’s even bigger than football,” DeVenney says.

Open only to juniors and seniors, students are restricted to serving one funeral per semester to limit time out of the classroom. The society averages about two funerals per week and has upwards of 300 members.

In service to God

Five of student pallbearers gather in the office of campus ministry for last-minute instructions. It is their first time as pallbearers and they are quiet.

“I want you to pray and remind yourselves what it is you’re doing today,” DeVenney says. “You’re in service to God and to Mrs. (Marian) Lombardo. She has no one left in her life and there will probably be very few people at the church.

“Be prayerful, participate in the Mass and remember that sometimes your voices are the only voices in the congregation,” he says.

As the navy blue St. Ignatius High School van pulls up in front of St. Stephen Parish on West 54th Street, the boys face the reality of their advisor’s words. With the exception of a Greek Orthodox bishop, they are the only ones in attendance at this funeral.

Inside the vestibule, funeral director Jim Craciun gives them instructions as they rest a hand on the casket and move slowly up the aisle.

“Out of all the funerals I’ve gone to, the church has always been filled … The experience for me was very moving, and I was glad that I could help celebrate the life of this woman and carry her to her final resting place,” wrote senior Alex Robertson later on the group’s blog for reflection.

A smile and a ‘thank you’

At St. Bridget Parish, Parma, other boys are serving as pallbearers for a man who had a wife and friends, but no one able to handle the casket.

At the sign of peace, they go to the widow and one by one offer a promise of prayers and a compassionate hand showing maturity beyond their years.

The response from people is sometimes surprising to them, as senior Tommy Edgehouse wrote on the blog: “As we walked into the funeral home, I saw something I didn’t expect to see. A smile on someone’s face. The daughter of the late Mrs. Kanik greeted us with open arms and a most gracious ‘thank you.’”

“We’re just regular kids doing the simple service of carrying a casket, but it becomes so much more than that,” explains senior leader Louie Delgadillo. “They are not going to be forgotten because we are there to remember.”

It’s the little moments that tend to stick with the students.

“This summer we did a funeral for a homeless person whose body had been in the morgue for more than a month,” says senior leader Jon Hatgas.

They were expecting no one to come, but through their work with Labre Ministry in ser
ving homeless people on the streets of Cleveland they were able to bring more people.

“We had about 10 cars in the procession and on the way to the cemetery people were talking about Shawn and their connection to him,” Hatgas says.

“I know that we are never alone in faith,” wrote Jon’s twin brother Jeff Hatgas on the blog.
Jim Skerl, who founded the ministry as part of his work with Christian Action Team says it’s a good way to involve students in the service of their faith.

“It’s interesting to see where God has led this ministry,” Skerl says, adding that it provides a chance for students to find their own goodness.

“We may not know their life story when we come to their funeral,” says senior leader Cameron Marcus, “but they are men and women of Christ and we share that in common.”

Hoke is a freelance writer.

St. Agnes in St. Paul


CATEGORY: SESSIUNCULUM — Fr. John Zuhlsdorf @ 10:24 am

At St. Agnes in St. Paul there is always a very fine presepio, or creche, or nativity scene. Here are a couple images.

And here is one of those details which you just can’t plan:

The sanctuary is nice this year:


Pope Calls Bhutto Death "Brutal Terrorist Attack"

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict called on Friday for calm in Pakistan after the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, which he called a "brutal terrorist attack".

In a telegram of condolences, the spiritual leader of the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics expressed "sentiments of deep sympathy and spiritual closeness to the members of (Bhutto's) family and to the entire Pakistan nation".

"He prays that further violence will be avoided and that every effort will be made to build a climate of respect and trust, which are so necessary if good order is to be maintained in a society and if the country's political institutions are to operate effectively," read the message, signed on behalf of the Pope by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bhutto, a former Pakistani prime minister and leader of a major opposition party, was buried on Friday after her assassination on Thursday by a suicide attacker at a rally ahead of a January 8 election.

Pope's Calendar in 2008 Confirms Life Doesn't Slow Down After 80

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- As Pope Benedict XVI looks at his 2008 calendar, he's no doubt recognizing that life doesn't slow down after 80.

With three foreign trips, a world Synod of Bishops on the Bible, a jubilee year dedicated to St. Paul, an important dialogue with Muslims, and an encyclical and a new book in the works, 2008 is shaping up as perhaps the busiest year of his pontificate.

The pope will celebrate his 81st birthday in Washington April 16, the day he's scheduled to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House and with U.S. bishops at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. There's bound to be a birthday cake somewhere along the way.

The April 15-20 trip to the United States and the United Nations will be the pope's first journey outside Italy in 2008. In Washington, the pope also is expected to say Mass in the Nationals' baseball stadium and hold meetings with educators and ecumenical leaders.

In New York, in addition to his U.N. visit, the pope's tentative schedule includes a meeting with interreligious representatives, Mass in St. Patrick's Cathedral, an encounter with seminarians, a visit to ground zero and Mass in Yankee Stadium.

In late July the pope will travel to Australia -- by far the longest trip of his pontificate -- to preside over World Youth Day celebrations. Sometime during the year, he's expected to visit Lourdes, France, to mark the 150th anniversary of Marian apparitions there.

Meanwhile, the pope also has made plans for several major trips inside Italy, beginning with the Ligurian seaports of Genoa and Savona in mid-May. In Savona, which hasn't hosted a pope since 1815, the announcement of the pope's visit was front-page news.

In mid-June, the pope will visit the southern Italian region of Puglia, and in early September will make a one-day stop on the island of Sardinia.

On June 28, Pope Benedict plans to inaugurate the "year of St. Paul," which will feature liturgies, conferences and ecumenical encounters in Rome and around the world. The pope wants modern Christians to draw inspiration from the apostle's missionary energy, and that's a theme he'll be talking about in coming months.

The Synod of Bishops runs Oct. 5-26 on the theme, "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church." The pope chose the topic of Scripture, and he is expected to follow the proceedings closely. The synod's working document is due out earlier in the year.

The pope is himself working on at least one document, a new encyclical that addresses social issues. There's no target date, but officials expect it during the first half of 2008.

And sources said the pope is continuing to work on another project dear to his heart: the second volume on the life of Jesus, following publication of "Jesus of Nazareth" last spring.

Day to day in 2008, much of the pope's time will be taken up by rounds of "ad limina" visits made by heads of dioceses, audiences with world leaders and speeches to ambassadors. He'll welcome Mary Ann Glendon as the new ambassador of the United States, as well as new representatives from Israel and Iran.

In early January, the Jesuits are gathering to elect a new superior general. The pope will meet with delegates of the order and their new leader in February.

In ecumenical affairs, 2008 marks the 100th anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and the pope is expected to preside over a prayer service marking the centenary.

Muslim representatives are coming to the Vatican early in 2008 to lay the groundwork for a potentially important dialogue with the Vatican. The pope had invited a group of Muslim scholars to meet with him and with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Other Vatican agencies will be hosting important meetings during the year. The Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace has proposed a series of international conferences on social development issues such as poverty, corruption, disarmament, prisons and the ethics of taxation.

Sometime early in the year, the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" plans to issue a document clarifying questions that have arisen regarding the pope's 2007 document relaxing restrictions on use of the Tridentine Mass. Sources said the pope personally is interested in removing ambiguities, and will sign off on the new document.

In April, Pope Benedict's pontificate enters its fourth year. He gradually has replaced top aides, and that's bound to continue. Six Roman Curia heads are already at the normal retirement age of 75 or will reach it in 2008.

They include Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, head of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Portuguese Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, head of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, and Italian Cardinal Renato Martino, head of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Minneapolis Ousts Seattle as Most Literate City

Like a top-heavy tower of books, Seattle tumbled from its ranking as "America's Most Literate City" this year.

The new winner: Minneapolis, ending Seattle's two-year reign on top.

The Emerald City only slipped to second place, but some of the local literati took it hard.

"I don't believe it," said Tracy Taylor, general manager for Elliott Bay Book Co. in Pioneer Square, which was bursting with post-Christmas customers Thursday. "And we're not even having a sale," Taylor noted.

But the statistics don't lie — even though they also don't capture all the nuances of what makes one city more literate than another, said Mark McLaughlin, spokesman for Central Connecticut State University, which compiles the annual list.

"We can only provide a kind of macro look."

The rankings, originated and authored by CCSU's president John W. Miller, compare the country's 69 biggest cities in terms of libraries, bookstores, educational levels, newspaper readership, locally published magazines and Internet resources....

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Dramatic Chipmunk

F.S.S.P. Christmas in Rome - 2007

Rival monks clash at Bethlehem

Bethlehem, Dec. 27, 2007 ( - Rival groups of Orthodox clerics clashed inside the basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem on December 27, forcing Palestinian police to restore order.

Priests of the Greek Orthodox and Armenian Apostolic churches came to blows during a dispute over the boundaries of their respective jurisdictions within the basilica, located on the site of Christ's birth. The confrontation arose as the two groups were cleaning the church in preparation for the Orthodox observance of the Nativity in January.

Administration of the Nativity basilica is shared by Catholic, Orthodox, and Armenian Apostolic clerics. The relationships among the different groups have frequently been contentious, and there have been frequent disputes over jurisdiction in spite of a highly detailed agreement.

The Franciscan monks who represent the Catholic Church at the basilica were not involved in the December 27 melee. The Orthodox and Armenian clerics were cleaning the building after thousands of Catholics had joined in their own Christmas celebration there.

Father Richtsteig's Plates Stolen!

Father R. installing his innovative new security system.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Don't Leave Rome Without It

Al wrote:
"Precious miter of John Paul I,
cope of John XXIII,
throne of Leo XIII.

Beauty that gives glory to God, Priceless!"


Pope Hails Persecuted Christians as Modern Martyrs

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Wednesday that Christians faced persecution, torture and death in some parts of the world and continued to be made martyrs for their faith.

In a message to pilgrims on the day after Christmas -- the feast day of St. Stephen, considered the first Christian martyr -- the Pope said Christians who die for their faith pray for forgiveness for their killers.

"We should always note that this is a distinctive characteristic of the Christian martyr -- it is exclusively an act of love, towards God and towards men, including the persecutors," he told crowds in a rainy St. Peter's Square.

"Christian martyrdom reminds us of the victory of love over hatred and death," he said.

St. Stephen was stoned to death by a mob in Jerusalem at a time when Christianity was first starting to spread. The Pope said such martyrdoms continued to this day.

"It is not rare even today that we receive news from various parts of the world of missionaries, priests, bishops, monks, nuns and lay people persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, deprived of their liberty or prevented from exercising it because they are disciples of Christ and apostles of the Gospel," he said.

The Pope did not give any examples, but it is less than two weeks since an Italian Catholic priest was stabbed in his church in Turkey, the latest in a spate of attacks on Christians in the predominantly Muslim country.

Another Italian priest in Turkey was shot dead in his church by a teenager in February, and in April three Christians had their throats cut at a Bible publishing house there.

On Wednesday, Hindu hardliners in India burned and damaged 12 churches, killing at least one person, in an outbreak of violence sparked by the reported injuring of a local Hindu leader by a Christian group.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI: Christmas Requires Humility of Us

Contends That Christ's Birth Isn't "Great" by World's Standards

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2007 ( Today a great light and hope entered the world, but humility is needed in order to see and accept it, said Benedict XVI in his traditional Christmas message.

The Pope affirmed this today from the central balcony at St. Peter's. He gave a Christmas greeting in 63 languages then gave his blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).

"The birth of a child normally brings a light of hope to those who are waiting anxiously," the Holy Father said. "When Jesus was born in the stable at Bethlehem, a 'great light' appeared on earth; a great hope entered the hearts of those who awaited him: in the words of today's Christmas liturgy, 'lux magna.'

"Admittedly it was not 'great' in the manner of this world. [...] Yet, in the shadows and silence of that holy night, a great and inextinguishable light shone forth for every man; the great hope that brings happiness entered into the world.

The Pontiff reflected on the mystery of Christmas as the coming of light into the world.

"The creative Word of God is light, the source of life. All things were made through the Logos, not one thing had its being but through him," he said. "That is why all creatures are fundamentally good and bear within themselves the stamp of God, a spark of his light.

"Nevertheless, when Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary, the Light himself came into the world. [...] In Jesus, God assumed what he was not, while remaining what he was: 'Omnipotence entered an infant's body and did not cease to govern the universe.'

"The Creator of man became man in order to bring peace to the world. For this reason, during Christmas night, the hosts of angels sing: 'Glory to God in the highest, and peace on earth to those whom he loves.'


Benedict XVI said the light of Christ is the bearer of peace. Quoting the entrance antiphon of Christmas Midnight Mass, he said, "Today true peace has come down to us from heaven."

He continued: "Indeed, it is only the 'great' light manifested in Christ that can give 'true' peace to men: That is why every generation is called to welcome it, to welcome the God who in Bethlehem became one of us.

"This is Christmas -- the historical event and the mystery of love, which for more than 2,000 years has spoken to men and women of every era and every place. It is the holy day on which the 'great light' of Christ shines forth, bearing peace!"

If we are to recognize the light, the Pope affirmed, "faith is needed and humility is needed."

Humility, he said, like that of "Mary, who believed in the word of the Lord and, bending low over the manger, was the first to adore the fruit of her womb; the humility of Joseph, the just man, who had the courage of faith and preferred to obey God rather than to protect his own reputation; the humility of the shepherds, the poor and anonymous shepherds, who received the proclamation of the heavenly messenger and hastened toward the stable, where they found the newborn child and worshipped him, full of astonishment, praising God."

"The little ones, the poor in spirit: They are the key figures of Christmas, in the past and in the present," the Pope said. "They have always been the key figures of God's history, the indefatigable builders of his Kingdom of justice, love and peace."


It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas - Perry Como

Christmas Caption

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Song of the Angels

Song of the Angels by William Bouguereau

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing - Jewel

I Saw Three Ships - Sting

Terry's Top 10 Meme

#3: Terry's routine court appearance (to contest his
traffic ticket) didn't go quite
as planned...

Noel Chez Les Pares - Celine Dion

The Christmas Song - Celine Dion

Pope Benedict Emphasizes Importance of Evangelization

.- Today the Holy Father addressed the faithful in his final Sunday Angelus before Christmas asking that their hearts be opened to welcome Jesus and encouraged them to share the “Good News.”

The Pope emphasized that many people don’t realize the importance of their faith, making evangelization imperative.

In reference to the recent document, “A Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization” released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Holy Father reminded his audience that Truth can propel one to announce God’s presence.

The AP reports that the Pope stated, “The document serves as a reminder to all Christians, in a situation in which it is often not clear to many faithful themselves the reason for evangelizing, that accepting the Gospel pushes one to communicate the gift of salvation."

The Pope also pledged his support to the staff of the Vatican Newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano for their humanitarian efforts to help the children of Uganda.

John Denver and The Muppets - 12 Days of Christmas

Father Cantalamessa's 3rd Advent Sermon

"Spe Gaudentes -- Joyful in Hope"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the third Advent sermon delivered today by Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, Pontifical Household preacher, in the presence of Benedict XVI and members of the Roman Curia in preparation for Christmas.

* * *

1. Jesus the Son

In this third and last meditation, leaving the prophets and John the Baptist aside now, we will focus exclusively on the goal of everything: the "Son." From this point of view, the text of Hebrews suggests the parable of the treacherous tenants of the vineyard. There too God first sends his servants and then, at the end, he sends his Son, saying: "They will respect my Son" (Matthew 21:33-41).

In a chapter of his book on Jesus of Nazareth the Pope illustrates the profound difference between the title "Son of God" and that of "Son" without any added qualifications. The simple title of "Son," contrary to what one might think, is much more pregnant than that of "Son of God." The latter comes after a long list of attributions: This is what the people of Israel were called, and in a special way, their king; this is what the Pharaohs were called and the eastern sovereigns and also what the Roman emperor was to be called. By itself, then, this title would not be enough to distinguish the person of Christ from every other "son of God."

The case of the simple title "Son" is different. This appears in the Gospels as exclusive to Christ and it is with it that Jesus will express his profound identity. After the Gospels it is precisely the Letter to the Hebrews that powerfully testifies to this absolute use of the title "the Son." It appears five times in the letter.

The most significant text in which Jesus defines himself as "the Son" is Matthew 11:27. "Everything has been given to me by my Father; no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son wishes to reveal him." The exegetes explain that the saying has a clear Aramaic origin and demonstrates that the later developments that we see in this regard in John's Gospel have their remote origin in Christ's consciousness itself.

A communion of knowledge so absolute between Father and Son, the Pope notes in his book, cannot be explained except by an ontological communion, a communion in being. The later formulations, culminating in the definition of Nicaea, of the Son as "begotten not made, of the same substance as the Father," are therefore daring but consonant with the Gospel datum.

The strongest proof of the consciousness that Jesus had of his identity as Son is in his prayer. In Jesus' prayer the sonship is not only declared but lived. The way and the frequency with which the exclamation "Abba" appears in Christ's prayer attests an intimacy and a familiarity with God that does not have an equal in the tradition of Israel. If the expression has been conserved in the original language and becomes the characteristic of Christian prayer (cf. Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:15) it is precisely because people were convinced that it was the typical form of Jesus' own prayer.[1]

2. A Jesus of the atheists?

This Gospel datum throws light on a particular contemporary debate about the person of Jesus. In the introduction to his book, the Pope cites the claim of R. Schnackenburg according to which "without the rootedness in God the person of Jesus remains fleeting, unreal and inexplicable." "This," the Pope says, "is the basis of this book of mine: considering Jesus from the point of view of his communion with the Father. This is the true center of his personality."[2]

In my opinion this brings to light the problematic nature of an historical investigation of Jesus that from the beginning not only prescinds from, but excludes, faith; in other words, it calls into question the historical plausibility of that which is sometimes called "the Jesus of the atheists." Here I am not talking about faith in Christ and his divinity, but about faith in the more common meaning of the term, of faith in God's existence. This has nothing to do with the idea that non-believers have no right to concern themselves with Jesus. What I want to show, taking my cue from the claim cited by the Pope, are the consequences that follow from such a point of departure, that is, how the "pre-comprehension" of the non-believer has a much greater impact on his historical research than does the believer's -- contrary to what atheist scholars think.

If one rejects or prescinds from faith in God, it is not only the divinity of Christ that is eliminated, or the so-called Christ of faith, but also the historical Jesus tout court -- his human credibility is lost. No one can deny on historical grounds that the Jesus of the Gospels lives and works in constant reference to the heavenly Father, that he prays and teaches to pray, that he bases everything on faith in God. If this dimension of the Jesus of the Gospels is eliminated, nothing remains.

If one begins with the tacit or declared presupposition that God does not exist, then Jesus is nothing more than one of the many deluded people who prayed, worshiped, and talked to his own shadow, or the projection of his own essence, as Feuerbach would have it. Jesus would be the most illustrious victim of what the militant atheist Richard Dawkins calls "the God delusion."[3] But how do we explain then that the life of this man "changed the world" and, after 2,000 years continues to intrigue us like no one else? If a delusion is able to do what Jesus did in history, Dawkins and others had better reconsider their concept of delusion.

There is only one way out of this difficulty, that which made some headway in the context of the "Jesus Seminar" at Berkeley in the United States. Jesus was not a Jewish believer; he was at bottom an itinerant philosopher after the fashion of the Cynics;[4] he did not preach a kingdom of God, nor a coming end of the world; he was only a purveyor of sapiential maxims in the style of a Zen master. His purpose was to reawaken self-consciousness in men, to convince them that they did not need him nor another god, because there was a divine spark in them.[5] But these are the things that the New Age has been preaching for decades! This is an image of Jesus constructed according to contemporary fashions. It is true: Without the rootedness in God, the figure of Jesus remains "fleeting, unreal and inexplicable."

3. Pre-existence of Christ in the Trinity

On this point too, as with the reduction of Jesus to a prophet, the problem comes up not only in discussion with atheist scholarship; it comes up, in a different manner and with a different spirit, in theological discussion within the Church. I will try to explain in what sense. In regard to the title "Son of God" we are witnessing a kind of climbing back up the mountain in the New Testament: In the beginning it is connected with Christ's resurrection (Romans 1:4); Mark takes a step back and connects it with his baptism in the Jordan (Mark 1:11); Matthew and Luke connect it with his birth (Luke 1:35). The Letter to the Hebrews makes the decisive leap, affirming that the Son did not begin to exist at the moment of his coming among us but existed from all eternity. "Through him," it says, "God made the world"; he is the "radiance of his glory and the image of his substance." Some 30 years later, John's Gospel will consecrate this conquest, beginning with the words: "In the beginning was the Word ..."

Now, in regard to the pre-existence of Christ as eternal Son of the Father some very problematic theses have been advanced in the ambit of the so-called new Christologies. In these, it is claimed that the pre-existence of Christ as eternal Son of the Father is a mythical concept taken over from Hellenistic thought. In modern terms, this would mean simply that "the relationship between God and Jesus did not develop only in a second moment and, causally, so to speak, but exists a priori and is founded in God himself."

In other words, Jesus pre-existed in an intentional way but not in a real way; in the sense that the Father, from all eternity, foresaw, chose and loved as a son the Jesus who would one day be born of Mary. He did not pre-exist, therefore, in a way that was different from each of us, from the moment that every man, as Scripture says, was "already chosen and predestined" by God as his son, before the creation of the world! (cf. Ephesians 1:4).

From this point of view, faith in the Trinity disappears together with Christ's pre-existence. This is reduced to something heterogenous (an eternal person, the Father, plus an historical person, Jesus, plus a divine energy, the Holy Spirit); something that, besides, does not exist ab aeterno but that comes to be in time.

I will limit myself to observing that this is not a new thesis. The idea of an intentional rather than a real pre-existence of the Son was advanced, discussed and rejected by ancient Christian thought. Just as it is not true, then, that this thesis is imposed by the new conceptions we have of God, conceptions that are no longer mythological, it is also not true that the contrary idea, of an eternal pre-existence, was the only conceivable solution in the ancient cultural context and that the Fathers, therefore, had no other choice.

Photinus, in the 4th century, already knew the idea of a pre-existence of Jesus "in the mode of prevision" or "in the mode of anticipation." Against him a synod declared: "If anyone says that the Son, before Mary, existed only according to prevision and that he was not begotten by the Father before the ages to be God and to make all things come into being through him, let him be anathema."[6] The intention of these theologians was laudable: to translate the ancient datum into language accessible to contemporary man. Unfortunately, however, once again, that which gets translated into modern language is not the datum defined by the councils, but that condemned by the councils.

Already St. Anthanasius made it clear that the idea of a Trinity composed of heterogenous realities compromised that divine unity that was to be safeguarded with it. If then it is admitted that God "comes to be" in time, no one guarantees us that his growth and coming to be are finished. He who has come to be will continue along the path of becoming.[7] How much time and trouble we would be saved by a less superficial knowledge of the Fathers!

I would like to conclude this doctrinal part of our meditation on a positive note, with something that, in my opinion, is of extraordinary importance. For almost a century, since Wilhelm Bousset wrote his famous book "Kyrios Christos" in 1913, the idea that the devotion to Christ as divine was to be looked for in the Hellenistic context, and therefore a good deal after the death of Christ, has dominated the sphere of critical studies.[8]

In the ambit of the so-called third quest for the historical Jesus, the question has been taken up again from the beginning by Larry Hurtado, professor of language, literature and theology of the New Testament at Edinburgh. Here is the conclusion that he reaches at the end of an investigation of over 700 pages:

"Devotion to Jesus as divine erupted suddenly and quickly, not gradually and late, among first-century circles of followers. More specifically, the origins lie in Jewish Christian circles of the earliest years. Only a certain wishful thinking continues to attribute the reverence of Jesus as divine decisively to the influence of pagan religion and the influx of Gentile converts, characterizing it as developing late and incrementally. Furthermore, devotion to Jesus as the ‘Lord,' to whom cultic reverence and total obedience were the appropriate response, was widespread, not confined or attributable to particular circles, such as ‘Hellenists' or Gentile Christians of a supposed Syrian ‘Christ cult.' Amid the diversity of earliest Christianity, belief in Jesus' divine status was amazingly common."[9]

This rigorous historical conclusion should put an end to the opinion, which has been dominant up until now in a certain popularized form, that holds that the divine cult of Christ is supposed to be a later fruit of the faith (imposed by law by Constantine at Nicaea in 325, according to Dan Brown in his "DaVinci Code"!)

4. Hope, the little girl

Besides the book on Jesus of Nazareth, this year the Holy Father has also given us the gift of an encyclical on hope. The usefulness of a papal document, apart from its elevated content, is that it focuses the attention of all the faithful on one point, stimulating reflection on it. In this line, I would like to make a little spiritual and practical application of the encyclical's theological content, showing how the text of the Letter to the Hebrews that we have meditated on can contribute to nourishing our hope.

In hope -- the author of the letter writes, with a beautiful image destined to become a classic of Christian art -- "we have an anchor of our life, strong and secure, which penetrates beyond the veil of the sanctuary, where Jesus has entered as precursor for us" (Hebrews 6:17-20). The foundation of this hope is precisely the fact that "in these last times God has spoken to us through his Son." If he has given us the Son, says St. Paul, "will he not give us all things together with him?" (Romans 8:32). This is why "hope does not disappoint" (Romans 5:5): the gift of the Son is the pledge and the guarantee of all the rest and, in the first place, of eternal life. If the Son is "the heir to all things" ("heredem universorum") (Hebrews 1:2), we are his "co-heirs" (Romans 8:17).

The iniquitous tenants of the vineyard in the parable, seeing the Son arrive, say to each other: "He is the heir. Let us go and kill him and we will have the inheritance" (Matthew 21:38). In his all-powerful mercy, God the Father turned this criminal design into something good. Men did kill the Son and truly received the inheritance! Thanks to that death, they have become "heirs of God and co-heirs of Christ."

We human creatures need hope to live as we need oxygen to breathe. It is said that as long as there is life there is hope; but the reverse is likewise true: That as long as there is hope there is life. Hope has been for a long time and is still now the poor relation among the theological virtues. We speak often of faith, more often of love, but very little about hope.

The poet Charles Péguy is right when he compares the three theological virtues to three sisters: two grown-ups and a little girl. They walk along the street hand-in-hand (the three theological virtues are inseparable!), the two big ones on either side, the little girl in the middle. All who see them are convinced that the two big ones -- faith and love -- drag along the little girl hope in the middle. But they are mistaken: it is the little girl hope who drags the other two along; if she stops, everything stops.[10]

We see it at the human and social level too. In Italy hope has stopped and with it confidence, drive, growth, even in economic matters. The "decline" that is spoken of is born here. Fear of the future has taken the place of hope. The low birth rate is the clearest indicator. No country needs to meditate on the Pope's encyclical as much as Italy.

Theological hope is the "thread from above" that sustains all human hopes from the center. "The thread from above" is the title of a parable by the Danish writer Johannes Jorgensen. He speaks of a spider who lowers himself from the branch of a tree with a thread that he himself makes. Positioning himself on the hedge he weaves his web, a masterpiece of symmetry and functionality. It is supported on the sides by other threads but everything is sustained in the center by the thread that he used to descend from the tree. If one of the threads on the side breaks, the spider fixes it and everything is in order, but if the thread from above breaks (I wanted to verify this once and found out that it is true), everything droops down and the spider leaves, knowing that there is nothing to be done. This is an image of what happens when we break that thread from above that is theological hope. Only it can "anchor" human hopes in the hope "that does not disappoint."

In the Bible we see real leaps of hope. One of them is found in the third Lamentation: "I am a man," the prophet says, "who has known misery and suffering ... I said: My glory is gone, the hope that came to me from the Lord."

But here is the leap of hope that turns everything upside down. At a certain point the person praying says to himself: "But the Lord's mercy is not finite; therefore I want to hope in him! The Lord never rejects but if he afflicts, he will have pity. Perhaps there is still hope" (cf. Lamentations 3:1-29). From the moment that the prophet decides to return to hope, the tone of the discourse completely changes: Lamentation turns into confident supplication: "The Lord never rejects. But if he afflicts, he will also have pity according to his great mercy" (Lamentations 3:32).

We have more reason for this leap of hope: God has given us his Son: Will he not give us all things together with him? Sometimes it is worthwhile to say to ourselves: "But God does exist and that is enough!" The most precious service that the Church in Italy can perform at this moment for the country is to help it make a leap of hope. The Church in Italy is not the only one in need of this leap of hope; the Church in the United States needs it too after what it has gone through in last years.

Last time I talked about an "aroma therapy" based on the oil of joy that is the Holy Spirit. We need this therapy to be healed of the most pernicious of all maladies: desperation, discouragement, loss of confidence in self, in life and finally in the Church. "May the God of hope fill you with every joy and peace in the faith, so that you abound in hope and the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13). This is what the apostle Paul wrote to the Romans.

One cannot abound in hope without the power of the Holy Spirit. There is an African-American spiritual in which one just continually repeats these few words: "There is a balm in Gilead / to make the wounded whole ..." In the Old Testament, Gilead is famous for its perfumes and ointments (cf. Jeremiah 8:22). The song continues, saying: "Sometimes I feel discouraged / and think my work's in vain / But then the Holy Spirit / revives my soul again." For us, Gilead is the Church and the balm that heals is the Holy Spirit. He is the scent that Jesus has left behind, passing through this world.

Hope is miraculous: When it is reborn in a heart, everything is different even if nothing is changed. In Isaiah we read: "Even the young people toil and grow weary, the grown-ups stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord again receive strength and grow wings like eagles, they run without stopping and walk without tiring" (Isaiah 40:30-31).

Where hope is reborn, joy above all is reborn. The apostle says that the believers are "spe salvi," "saved in hope" (Romans 8:24) and for this reason should be "spe gaudentes" -- "joyous in hope" (Romans 12:12). They are not people who hope to be happy but people who are happy to hope; they are already happy now on account of the simple fact of hoping.

May this Christmas the God of hope, by the power of the Holy Spirit and through the intercession of Mary "Mother of Hope," grant us to be joyous in hope and abound in it.

--- --- ---

[1] Cf. J.D.G. Dunn, "Christianity in the Making, I: Jesus Remembered," Eerdmans, 2003, 746 ff.

[2] Benedict XVI, "Jesus of Nazareth," Doubleday, 2007.
[3] R. Dawkins, "God Delusion," Bantam Books, 2006.

[4] On the theory of Jesus as a Cynic cf. B. Griffin, "Was Jesus a Philosophical Cynic?" [].
[5] Cf. Harold Bloom's essay, "Whoever discovers the interpretation of these sayings...", published as an appendix to Marvin Meyer's edition of the Gospel of Thomas, "The Gospel of Thomas: The Hidden Sayings of Jesus," Harper Collins Publishers, 1992.

[6] Formula of the Synod of Sirmio of 351, in A. Hahn, "Bibliotek der Symbole und Glaubensregeln in der alten Kirche," Hildesheim, 1962, 197.
[7] Cf. Saint Athanasius, "Against the Arians," I, 17-18 (PG 26, 48).

[8] Wilhelm Bousset, "Kyrios Christos," 1913.
[9] L. Hurtado, "Lord Jesus Christ. Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity," Eerdmans, 2003, 650.
[10] Ch. Péguy, "Oeuvres poétiques complètes," Gallimard, 1975, 531 ff.

Andy Kaufman as Elvis

1979 Johnny Cash Show

Man on the Moon - REM

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Clarifying Note a Few Days Away?

Excerpt of the article written by Vaticanist Paolo Luigi Rodari for this Saturday's issue of Il Riformista:

Yesterday, in the speech which the Pontiff traditionally addresses to the Roman Curia, Benedict XVI did not mention the signing of Summorum Pontificum among the events which took place in the course of the last few months.

A few days before the publication of the expected clarifying note written by the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei so that the Motu Proprio is applied without ifs and buts, it was probably not the moment to insist upon a topic which a part of the Church still has difficulties to digest as it must.

Hat tip to New Catholic

Gabriel's Message - Sting

The Angel Gabriel from Heaven came
His wings as drifted snow
His eyes as flame
"All Hail!" said he, "Thou Holy Maiden Mary,"
"Most Highly Favoured Lady,"

"For know a Blessed Mother thou shalt be,
All generations laud and honour thee
Thy Son shall be Immanuel, by seers foretold
Most highly favoured Lady,"

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head;
"To me, be as it pleaseth God," she said.
My soul shall laud and magnify His holy Name
Most highly favoured Lady!

Of her Immanuel, the Christ was born,
In Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn.
And everyone throughout the world forever saved,
Most highly favoured lady!

WDTPRS Caption Call

"Do They Know It's Christmas?" - Band Aid

Blair Converts To Catholicism

Former prime minister Tony Blair has converted to Roman Catholicism after years of speculation over his faith.

Mr Blair was received into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor during Mass in the chapel at Archbishop's House in Westminster on Friday night.

The Cardinal said: "I am very glad to welcome Tony Blair into the Catholic Church.

"For a long time he has been a regular worshipper at Mass with his family, and in recent months he has been following a programme of formation to prepare for his reception into full communion.

"My prayers are with him, his wife and family at this joyful moment in their journey of faith together."

Mr Blair's wife Cherie was already a practising Roman Catholic.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Christmas Auld Lang Syne - Bobby Darin

Disney Christmas Song

Glendon Confirmed as U.S. Envoy to Holy See

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 21, 2007 ( The U.S. Senate confirmed President George Bush's nomination of Mary Ann Glendon as the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See.

The Wednesday approval means that Glendon will succeed Francis Rooney, who has represented the United States before the Holy See since 2005. A date for her succession has not been set.

Glendon is the president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and a law professor at Harvard University.

In 1994, Pope John Paul II appointed her to lead the Holy See delegation to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing.

Christmas Message From the White House

Presidential Message: Christmas 2007

"But the angel said to her, 'Do not be afraid, Mary, you have found favor with God. You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High...his kingdom will never end.'"

Luke 1:30-33

During the Christmas season, our thoughts turn to the source of joy and hope born in a humble manger on a holy night more than 2,000 years ago. Each year, Christians everywhere celebrate this single life that the world and continues to change hearts today. The simple and inspiring story of the birth of Jesus fills our souls with gratitude for the many blessings in our lives and promises that God's purpose is justice and His plan is peace.

At this special time of year, we give thanks for Christ's message of love and mercy, and we are reminded of our responsibility to serve. America is blessed to have fine citizens who reach out with a compassionate hand to help brothers and sisters in need. We also remember our brave men and women in uniform who have volunteered to defend us in distant lands. Many of those who have answered the call of duty will spend Christmas far from home and separated from family. We honor their sacrifice, ask God to watch over them and their families, and pray for their safe return.

Christmas is a time to rejoice and remember the birth of Jesus Christ. Laura and I pray your Christmas will be blessed with family and fellowship, and we wish you a day of glad tidings. Merry Christmas.



Swissmiss sent me a blessing. How very thoughtful of her.

"The idea… it’s a game of tag with a difference, rather than looking inwardly, we look outside ourselves and bless, praise and pray for one blog friend. By participating in this endeavour we not only make the recipient of the blessing feel valued and appreciated, but we are having some fun too. We’re going to see how far the bloggin’ blessings can travel around the world and how many people can be blessed! Recipients of a bloggin’ blessing may upload the above image to their sidebar if they choose to. If you recieve a bloggin’ blessin’ please leave a comment on this thread here so that we can rejoice in just how many blessings have been sent around the world!"

May God bless:

Cathy for providing us all with an inspiring example of unwavering faith via her brilliant writing and humor.
Ray for his excellent reporting and volunteer work for the Church.

A Prayer for Cathy and Ray:

May the blessing of almighty God, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, come down upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.

"and that’s it, nearly…

So, all these three have have to do is to;

a) Bless 3 blog buddies each.
b) Include the ‘God Bless you’ image in their post.
c) Explain briefly why they are blessing the people they are blessing.
d) Pray/include in the post the prayer for the recipients of the blessing.
e) The recipient/sender of a blessing should type in the com box of Deb's original post that a blessing has been sent to them so we can keep track of how many blessings are being given. For easy reference a link to this post will make it into Deb's sidebar.

Sounds a bit confusing, I know. But it could be fun, we’ll soon see!

Thanks for playing along!

The larger ‘God Bless you’ image can also be sent as an E-Card from Deb's Credo Christian E-Cards website.

God Bless you!"

Ugliest Vestment Contest Winners are...

*Award graphic for C.C.'s consideration

Click here to see who won

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Dean Martin Christmas Songs

Let it Snow

Silent Night

Silver Bells

White Christmas

I'll Be Home For Christmas

Logo Unveiled For Pope's U.S. Trip

"Christ Our Hope" Chosen as Theme

WASHINGTON, D.C., DEC. 19, 2007 ( The message "Christ Our Hope" over an image of Benedict XVI before the dome of St. Peter's Basilica is the logo for the Pope's visit to the United States, April 15-20.

The papal visit will be highlighted by a trip to the United Nations, in response to an invitation from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The Pope will also visit the Archdioceses of New York and Washington, D.C..

The theme reflects the Holy Father's new encyclical, "Spe Salvi," an invitation for people to personally encounter Jesus Christ. In the encyclical, the Pontiff said that faith in Christ brings well-founded hope in eternal salvation, the "great hope" that can sustain people through the trials of this world.

The logo features a full color photograph of Benedict XVI waving both hands. Behind him is a yellow-screened image of the dome of St. Peter's Basilica. In black type running at the top and over the cupola of the dome are three lines of type reading "Pope Benedict XVI/Christ Our Hope/Apostolic Journey to the United States 2008."

Logo designer Donna Hobson, director of publications at the Catholic University of America, explained her goal with this design.

"I wanted to incorporate the papal colors -- yellow and white," she said, "and my vision was to show a welcoming, arms-open, smiling Pope Benedict."