Monday, March 31, 2008

"When Liturgical Dancers Get 'Raptured...'"

The Crescat caption contest

Bowling for Votes

ALTOONA, Pa - Fans of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama might swoon at his speeches. They might stand in awe of his judgment and echo his call for change. But they probably are not impressed by his bowling skills...

The candidate’s first attempt was a gutterball.

“I’ve got to get at least something,” he said as he turned around to face a growing crowd.

His next attempt, another gutterball, showed little improvement.

“No worries,” he said. “I’m not done.”

In his defense, Obama pointed out that he hadn’t bowled for 30 years...

Obama eventually got a spare but it came after Casey had scored a strike and long after Roxanne Hart, a regular who joined the senators on the lane, had put them both to shame.

“I was terrible,” Obama said, smiling as he emerged from the Pleasant Valley Recreation Center bowling alley...

Sunday, March 30, 2008

John Paul II Was an Apostle of Divine Mercy, Says Pope Benedict XVI

.- Speaking from the Apostolic Palace at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI announced today that he will preside over Mass in memory of John Paul II, who died three years ago on the eve of Divine Mercy Sunday. The Mass this Wednesday will open the First World Congress on Apostolic Divine Mercy in Rome.

Before praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father spoke about the significance of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Pope Benedict recalled that John Paul II designated the Sunday after Easter as Divine Mercy Sunday, and did so at the same time Sister Faustina Kowalska was canonized. The Polish sister, who died in 1938, is known as the messenger of God's Mercy, since it was through her diary that the message of mercy came to be known to the world, even before it was approved by the Holy See.

Speaking to thousands of pilgrims at Castel Gondolfo and in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict said, "Mercy is in reality the core of the Gospel message; it is the name of God himself, the face with which he reveals himself in the Old Testament and fully in Jesus Christ, the incarnation of creative and redemptive Love.”

“This love of mercy also illuminates the face of the Church, and is manifested through the sacraments, in particular that of reconciliation, as well as in works of charity, both of community and individuals,” said the Holy Father.

“Everything that the Church says and does,” continued the Pope, “shows that God has mercy for man. When the Church must call attention to an unrecognized truth, or a good betrayed, it is always driven by merciful love that all people might have life and have it abundantly (cf. Jn 10.10). From divine mercy comes hearts that are pacified, and then comes true peace in the world, peace between peoples, cultures and religions.”

“Like Sister Faustina, Pope John Paul II was in his time an apostle of Divine Mercy,” Benedict XVI noted. “Many noticed the remarkable coincidence that when he closed his eyes to this world on the evening of Saturday, April 2, 2005, it was on the eve of the second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, and also at the same time as the Marian devotion of the first Saturday of the month. In fact, this was at the core of his long and multifaceted pontificate; his entire mission in the service of God and man and peace in the world was summarized in the announcement he made in Krakow in 2002.”

Pope Benedict recalled the ceremony in Krakow where John Paul II inaugurated the great Shrine of Divine Mercy and said: “'Outside the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for human beings.' His message, like Saint Faustina's, leads back to the face of Christ, the supreme revelation of God's mercy. Constantly contemplating that face: this is the legacy that he has left us, which we welcome with joy and make our own,” the Pope said.

After reciting the Regina Caeli, Pope Benedict greeted pilgrims in Italian, German, French, Spanish and English. He also greeted in a special way Polish pilgrims from the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Krakow- Łagiewniki.

Before imparting his apostolic blessing, he reminded pilgrims that this Sunday's Gospel calls us to recognize through the gift of faith the presence of the Risen Lord in the Church, and that we receive from him the gift of the Holy Spirit.

"During this Easter season, he said, "may we strengthen our desire to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus Christ calling us to a life of peace and joy. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God's blessings of happiness and wisdom."

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pastry Dialogue

By John Thavis

(CNS) I wandered into Rome’s Jewish ghetto neighborhood because I read an intriguing little report about Pope Benedict’s favorite bakery.

The tiny Limentani pastry shop has long been a favorite of mine. I go for the same reason most Jewish pizzapeople go: their “Jewish pizza,” a type of miniature fruit cake packed with almonds, raisins and other stuff I’ve never identified. It looks terrible and tastes great.

I asked the senior woman behind the counter about the report that the pope had their sweets delivered to his table. Through a series of phrases and gestures, she let me know that it was somewhere between maybe and probably true.

“The other pope, too,” she said. Before I could respond, customers in the jam-packed bakery began talking excitedly about John Paul II, the “other pope,” the one who in 1986 came to visit their synagogue a block away.

“He and Rabbi Toaff were great friends,” one woman said. That prompted a whole new round of assent and acclamation in the shop. When Pope John Paul died, Elio Toaff, Rome’s former chief rabbi, made a moving visit to pray before the pope’s body. In his own spiritual testament, John Paul remembered the rabbi in a special way. “Now that was a pope!” one customer said.

They were still talking about Pope John Paul when I left the pastry shop, toting my pizza ebraica.

I passed by the synagogue, where 22 years ago I watched Pope John Paul pay his visit. I still remember the impression he made when he called Jews “our beloved elder brothers.”

At the street level of interreligious dialogue, those personal gestures endure. Pope Benedict also visited a synagogue in his native Germany, but he’s not as well known by the Rome Jewish community. His taste in pastries could change that.

Croatian Parish Offers Coffee in Exchange for Prayers

.- A Croatian parish has found an effective means for getting young people to stick around after Mass. It has opened a café where they can get food and drinks by paying with prayers.

“In reality it kind of began as something fun,” youth minister Damir Stojic told the ENI news agency. “After Mass on Sunday, young people went to cafés in the town, and we wanted them to stay at the parish.”

So a café was opened at the parish, serving donated food and drinks. A cup of coffee costs three Our Fathers, a cappuccino, four, and a soda, five Hail Marys.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Holy See Hopes to Raise John Paul II to the Altars “as Soon as Possible”

.- In an interview with Vatican Radio, Cardinal Jose Saraiva Martins, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, said that like many people in the world, the Holy See hopes the beatification of John Paul II will occur “as soon as possible” but that the normal process would be followed.

With the third anniversary of the late Pontiff’s death just a week away, Cardinal Saraiva reminisced about the events of those days. “We all remember the day of Pope Wojtyla’s funeral. We remember the shouts of ‘Santo subito!’ ‘Sainthood now!’ That phrase, that cry in St. Peter’s Square expressed what people were thinking. It meant that John Paul II genuinely had a true reputation for holiness among the faithful. And we know that is essential in the process of beatification,” he explained.

“If that reputation for holiness did not exist, a cause for beatification could not even begin,” Cardinal Saraiva stressed, noting that the process goes through a series of phases.

“Each process has two fundamental phases. One diocesan—local—and the other what we call ‘Roman,’ at the level of the Holy See. The diocesan phase was concluded on April 2 last year. Once the diocesan phase is closed, the Roman phase is opened immediately without delay, with the official handing over of all the documentation gathered during the diocesan phase to my dicastery.”

“Once this documentation is received, we immediately approve a postulator for the Roman phase, who is the same postulator that was in charge of the diocesan phase. We also appoint a relator who, guided by the postulator, puts together the so-called ‘positio,’ which is a collection of all the documents organized in a systematic and organic fashion. This ‘positio’ is printed out and is studied by the collegiate bodies of the dicastery,” the cardinal said.

“The postulator of the cause for beatification of John Paul II is the one drafting the ‘positio’,” Cardinal Saraiva continued, noting that it could consist of volumes of documentation. “It doesn’t depend on the dicastery, but rather on the time the postulator needs to finish his work. I don’t know how many months, a year…I don’t know and maybe he doesn’t either,” he said.

“What I can assure you is that once we receive the ‘positio’ we will study it immediately without delay. Because the dicastery certainly wants John Paul II to be raised to the altars as soon as possible and to be called ‘Blessed,’ responding thus to the cries in St. Peter’s of ‘Sainthood Now’.”

"Pop! Pop! Hope No One Sees Me Get Freaky" - Weird Al

Stress relief from WDTPRS:

Click above

Castrillón Speaks: On the SSPX: "Discussions May Take Place Inside the Church"

[L'Osservatore Romano:] Don't you fear that the attempt to wish to bring back to the Church men and women who do not recognize the Second Vatican Council may provoke an aversion among those faithful who instead see Vatican II as a compass for navigation in the barque of Peter, particularly in these times of continuous changes?

[Castrillón:] First of all, the problem regarding the Council is not, in my opinion, as grave as it might seem. In fact, the Bishops of the Fraternity of Saint Pius X, headed by Bishop Bernard Fellay, have expressly recognized Vatican II as an Ecumenical Council and Bishop Fellay reasserted it in a meeting with John Paul II and, more explicitly, in the audience of August 29, 2005, with Benedict XVI. Nor can it be forgotten that Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre signed all Council documents.

I believe that their criticism of the Council is related mostly with the clarity of some texts, in the absence of which the path is opened to interpretations not in agreement with Traditional doctrine. The greatest difficulties are of interpretive character and are related even to some gestures of the ecumenical level, but not with the doctrine of Vatican II. It is a matter of theological discussions, which may take place inside the Church, where, in fact, there are several interpretive discussions of the Conciliar texts, discussions which may continue even with the groups which return to full communion.
Castrillón Speaks: On the SSPX: "Discussions May Take Place Inside the Church"
WDTPRS: L’OssRom: Darío Card. Castrillón Hoyos on Summorum Pontificum

Campaign Photos

Snowball Fight

Ray wrote: "I still think a snowball fight would have been appropriate."

How do Americans View the Pope and the Church?

God Only Knows

Sloop John B

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Resurrection is Reality, Pope Assures Audience

Pope Benedict XVI is framed by flowers during his weekly general ... Vatican, Mar. 26, 2008 ( - The Easter Octave draws attention to "the central truth of Christian faith in all its doctrinal richness," Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) told his public audience on March 26.

The Resurrection of Jesus brings to believers "the certainty of our final resurrection," the Holy Father said. He pointedly remarked that the historical truth of the Resurrection "is amply documented, even if today, as in the past, there is no lack of people who put it in doubt or even deny it." In fact, the Pontiff continued, "the weakening of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus leads to the weakening of the testimony of believers."

The liturgy of the Easter season underlines the Church's full confidence in the reality of the Resurrection, the Pope said, encouraging Catholics to participate actively in the liturgical celebrations. Just as the disciplines recognized Christ on the road to Emmaus, the Pope said that the faithful "can meet and know Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Eucharist."

Pope Benedict arrived in Rome by helicopter from his summer residence, where he is relaxing this week after the rigors of Holy Week. As he spoke to the 30,000 people who gathered in St. Peter's Square, taking advantage of seasonable warmth in Rome, the Pontiff appeared happy and energetic, but spoke in a somewhat hoarse voice, perhaps showing the toll taken by his many public appearances during the past week. After his Wednesday audience he returned to Castel Gandolfo, to remain there until Sunday, March 30.

2008 Cannonball Catholic Blog Awards

The Crescat caption contest

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Bobby Darin - "Lonesome Whistle" Live 1973

Sanford and Son Theme on Electric Guitar

Easter Fire

Photo credit: Tara

Democratic Party Official: Clinton Pursuing 'The Tonya Harding Option'

By Jack Tapper

March 25, 2008 3:44 PM

l just spoke with a Democratic Party official, who asked for anonymity so as to speak candidly, who said we in the media are all missing the point of this Democratic fight.

The delegate math is difficult for Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, the official said. But it's not a question of CAN she achieve it. Of course she can, the official said.

The question is -- what will Clinton have to do in order to achieve it?

What will she have to do to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Illinois, in order to eke out her improbable victory?

She will have to "break his back," the official said. She will have to destroy Obama, make Obama completely unacceptable.

"Her securing the nomination is certainly possible - but it will require exercising the 'Tonya Harding option.'" the official said. "Is that really what we Democrats want?"

The Tonya Harding Option -- the first time I've heard it put that way.

It implies that Clinton is so set on ensuring that Obama doesn't get the nomination, not only is she willing to take extra-ruthless steps, but in the end neither she nor Obama win the gold.

(In this metaphor, presumably, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., would be Oksana Baiul. Does that make former President Bill Clinton Jeff Gillooly?)

Little Ole Wine Drinker Me

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Photos

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Easter in St. Peter's Square

Easter at the White House

And in Terry's neighborhood:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Holy Father’s Vigil Sermon

Fr. John Zuhlsdorf wrote:

"One of the most devastating changes after the Council was the widespread abandonment of ad orientem worship. Authors like Klaus Gamber, for whom Papa Ratzinger has such great respect, thought that changing our altars around was perhaps the most damaging change in the post-Conciliar reform. Sadly, the destruction of ad orientem worship was based on misuse of scholarship, surely, but most on ideological choices rooted in a hermeneutic of rupture and a ecclesiology which was little in harmony with our Catholic faith. The results for Catholic worship were viciously corrosive.

Pope Benedict has long written of the meaning and need for ad orientem worship. In practical terms he knows that we cannot force abrupt changes. We must be gentle in reintroducing it.

However, as we have been watching him during the last year or so reintroducing many traditional elements our Roman Rite into the full view of the world, including ad orientem worship in the Sistine Chapel, I think we can say that he thinks the time has come for more decisive moves.

Let’s turn to the Holy Father’s sermon for the Vigil of Easter..."

The Passion of the Christ

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chrism Mass

Pope Benedict XVI is handed his his pastoral staff during a ...

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.

Pope Benedict XVI holds his pastoral staff at the end of a Chrism ...

Mikhail Gorbachev Admits He is a Christian

From the Telegraph via RORATE CÆLI:

"Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Communist leader of the Soviet Union, has acknowledged his Christian faith for the first time, paying a surprise visit to pray at the tomb of St Francis of Assisi.

Accompanied by his daughter Irina, Mr Gorbachev spent half an hour on his knees in silent prayer at the tomb.

His arrival in Assisi was described as 'spiritual perestroika' by La Stampa, the Italian newspaper.

'St Francis is, for me, the alter Christus, the other Christ,' said Mr Gorbachev. 'His story fascinates me and has played a fundamental role in my life,' he added.

Mr Gorbachev's surprise visit confirmed decades of rumours that, although he was forced to publicly pronounce himself an atheist, he was in fact a Christian, and casts a meeting with Pope John Paul II in 1989 in a new light..."


Damian Thompson wrote:

"A clergyman in East London has been kicked in the head by Asian youths, one of whom screamed the words “f------- priest” at him. Police are treating the attack on Canon Michael Ainsworth, vicar of Hawksmoor’s magnificent St George-in-the-East, Wapping, as a “faith hate” crime. But was it?

A church in East London
How many churches are there in Saudi Arabia?

A lot hangs on the answer. Does the use of a single word automatically turn a savage but common assault into a new (and essentially artificial) category of crime, or has the tide of Islamic anti-Christian persecution reached these shores?

According to one Asian member of the parish, local youths have been heard shouting: “This should not be a church, this should be a mosque. You should not be here.” Perhaps we should not attach too much weight to that remark; but the fact remains that Tower Hamlets houses Muslim ghettos whose fundamentalist leaders are offended by the mere presence of a Christian place of worship in their community."


Fr. Erik Richtsteig's Name Meme - Part III

V 2.0
Father R wrote:
"My third middle name is Athanasius. This is my confirmation name. If I ever entered religious life, this would be my preferred name. (Malachi would be a close second.) Also, if I were ever elected Pope, this would be my 'pope name'. (Yes, I know that there has never been one, but face it, it would scare the crap out of the heretics.)
A-AB+, my blood type.
T-(St.) Thomas Aquinas, my favorite theologian.
H-Hohenzollern, the Prussian royal family that needs to be restored.
A- (St.) Anthony of Padua, patron of my last parish.
N- Nerd, no explanation necessary.
A- AR-15, a fun rifle.
S- Sam, my secretary's youngest son. (OK, I am hitting the bottom of the barrel.)
I- Igor, not a character in the original Frankenstein movie.
U- Utah, where I was born and where I live. Also, home of America's most powerful weirdos.
S- Saturn, the brand of car I drive.

And now I am done with this #$#%#ing meme!!"

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Easter Triduum Renews in us Great Hope, Says Holy Father

.- Today is known as Spy Wednesday, which, according to the tradition of the Church, commemorates Judas' betrayal of Jesus on the eve of the last supper. Greeting thousands of young pilgrims in Rome for Holy Week, Pope Benedict XVI gave a catechesis on the Easter Triduum, three days that are celebrated as a single event that form the heart to the Church and of the liturgical year.

"We have arrived at the eve of the Easter Triduum," he said. "The next three days are commonly called holy because we are reliving a central event of our redemption that leads us back to the core fact of the Christian faith: the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ."

Lent, the Pope said, prepares us to enter these days in the same spirit that Jesus entered Jerusalem. In that spirit, he said we awaken the memory of the suffering that Christ bore for our sake so that we might celebrate with joy next Sunday, "the real Easter, which the Blood of Christ covered with glory, Easter when the Church celebrates the true origin of all feasts."

Speaking first of Holy Thursday, the Holy Father said the Church recalls the Last Supper during which, on the eve of his passion and death, established the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the ministerial priesthood. On that same night, he said, "Jesus left us the new commandment, the commandment of fraternal love."

Before entering the Holy Triduum, every diocese celebrates the Chrism Mass, during which the bishop and priests renew their promises, the promises they made at ordination. During that Mass, oils are also blessed for the celebration of the sacraments: oil of catechumens, the oil of the sick and holy chrism.

The Holy Father said the Chrism Mass is very important in the life of every diocesan community, which gathers around its pastor’s fidelity to Christ. Following this moment, the Last Supper, recalls the time when "Christ is given to all of us as nourishment of salvation, as the immortal remedy. The mystery of the Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life."

"In this sacrament of salvation the Lord gave for all those who believe in Him the most intimate possible union between our and his life."

In concrete gesture of washing the feet of the apostles, the Lord also expresses the primacy of love that is both a service and gift of oneself to another. At the same time, it anticipates the supreme sacrifice of his life on Calvary.

The Pope said that according to a beautiful Holy Thursday tradition, the faithful hold a vigil of prayer and adoration to experience more intimately the agony of Jesus in Gethsemane.

Holy Friday is that day that recalls the passion, crucifixion and death of Jesus when Christians gather to meditate on the great mystery of evil and sin that oppress humanity. With the Light of the Word of God and aided by moving liturgical gestures, the community meditates on the Passion event, and prays for all the needs of the Church and the world, venerates the Cross and receives the Eucharist, consuming species retained by the Mass of the Lord's Supper the day before.

Other expressions of piety, such as the way of the Cross, have developed across centuries and cultures to help the faithful recall the painful journey that led the Jesus to the Cross, a mount of love to the end.

Holy Saturday, Pope Benedict said, is marked by a profound silence. The Churches are bare and there are no special liturgies. The faithful, while awaiting the big event of the Resurrection, persevere with Mary in praying and meditating.

"We actually need a day of silence to meditate on the reality of human life, the forces of evil and great force for good stemming from the Passion and Resurrection of the Lord. Great importance is given on this day of participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is an essential way to purify the heart and prepare to celebrate Easter with renewed hearts. We need this inner purification of renewal at least once annually," Pope Benedict said.

Saturday's silence, meditation, forgiveness, and reconciliation leads into the Easter Vigil, which introduces the most important Sunday of history, the Sunday of Easter of Christ.

"With his death, Christ defeated evil forever and has given to all men of the very life of God."

According to ancient tradition, catechumens receive Baptism during the Easter Vigil to emphasize the participation of Christians in the mystery of the death and resurrection of Christ. From the bright night of Passover, the joy, the light and peace of Christ in the life span of the faithful of all Christian communities and reach every point of space and time.

In the end, the Holy Father encouraged all present to embrace the Triduum as an opportunity to realize more fully the depth and value of our Christian vocation, and to make generous gifts of ourselves.

In the current events of history, he added, dramatic events afflict so many of our brothers and sisters in every part of the world.

"We know that hatred, divisions, and violence never have the last word in the events of history. These days renew in us great hope: Christ crucified and risen won the world. Love is stronger than hatred…So we must start afresh from Christ and work in communion with him for a world based on peace, justice and on love. But…let us be guided by Mary, who has accompanied the Son of God on the path of the passion and of the cross and took part, with the strength of faith, in realizing of his plan of salvation."

President Bush to Greet Pope Upon Arrival at Air Force Base

.- President and Mrs. George Bush will greet Pope Benedict XVI, April 15, when he arrives at Andrews Air Force Base for a six-day visit to the United States that will take him to Washington and New York City.

A news release from the USCCB states that the Pope is expected to arrive at four in the afternoon on an Alitalia flight dubbed “Shepherd One.” Accompanying him in the plane will be several Vatican officials and more that 60 members of the Vatican Press Corps.

Upon arrival Pope Benedict also will be greeted by several Church officials including Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Vatican nuncio to the United States; Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops; Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington and Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services USA.

Several hundred guests will also be on hand. Among them there will be military families and young people from several Catholic high schools. Before the arrival, the United States Air Force Band will provide entertainment for the public.

When the Pope arrives, the color guard will offer its customary greeting for a head of state. The ceremony will be brief and without speeches. Formal greetings will be offered the next morning when Pope Benedict visits President Bush at the White House.

Other information regarding the itinerary of the Holy Father’s 2008 apostolic journey to the United States and the United Nations can be found at

A Little Story About a Man Named Jed

Blow Out

Congratulations to Father Z and the other winners!


Best Apologetic Blog – 1st
Best Blog by Clergy/Religious/Seminarian – 1st
Best Designed Catholic Blog – 3rd
Best Group Blog – N/A
Best Individual Catholic Blog – 1st
Best Insider News Catholic Blog – 1st
Best New Catholic Blog – N/A
Best Overall Catholic Blog – 1st
Best Political/Social Commentary Catholic Blog – 2nd
Best Written Catholic Blog – 1st
Funniest Catholic Blog – 2nd
Most Spiritual Blog – 1st
Smartest Catholic Blog – 1st

Hong Kong Cardinal: Way of the Cross Gives Voice to Living Martyrs

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI wanted the voice of today's living martyrs, especially Catholics in China, to be heard at the Way of the Cross, said the author of this year's meditations.

The pope asked Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong to write the commentary and prayers for the March 21 Good Friday evening service at Rome's Colosseum.

The cardinal, who long has been outspoken on the lack of full religious freedom in mainland China, said this was the pope's way of bringing attention to Asia and involving "the faithful of China, for whom the 'Via Crucis' is a devotion" many hold close to their hearts.

"The pope wanted me to bring to the Colosseum the voice of those faraway sisters and brothers," he wrote in the introduction to the mediations and prayers released by the Vatican in Italian March 18. The 64-page booklet was illustrated with 20th-century Chinese Christian art from the Society of Divine Word's archives.

While Christ's suffering and passion are the focus of the service, "behind him there are many people, past and present," such as all the living martyrs of the 21st century, he wrote.

Cardinal Zen said he accepted the pope's invitation with "little hesitation," but soon discovered, much to his surprise, that his early drafts did not reflect a very Christian attitude.

He said he had to step back and purify himself of the "less than charitable feelings" he had toward those who made Jesus suffer and who "are making our brothers and sisters suffer in today's world."

In "thinking about persecution," he wrote, "let us also (think) about the persecutors" and how even they are being called to salvation by God.

The 2008 stations are drawn directly from the Gospel of Mark and do not follow the traditional Catholic set that includes events not in the Bible, such as St. Veronica wiping Jesus' face.

In his meditation for the first station -- "Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane" -- Cardinal Zen drew from Pope Benedict's June letter to Chinese Catholics to remind people that in many parts of the world, the church "is going through the dark times of persecution."

While these victims of repression, oppression and humiliation may be wondering why they must endure such hardships, the cardinal asked the Lord to help those who suffer to no longer be afraid, but to trust in him and his divine plan.

In his meditation for the fourth station -- "Jesus is denied by Peter" -- Cardinal Zen said Christ's decision to entrust "weak and vulnerable men" to continue his mission of salvation is a sign of his wisdom and strength.

He prayed the Lord would protect those he has chosen and that the gates of hell do not prevail over his servants.

Cardinal Zen prayed in his meditation for the fifth station -- "Jesus is judged by Pilate" -- that God would give leaders "the courage to respect religious freedom."

Pilate may have seemed powerful, he wrote, but he was really "weak, vile and servile," and was afraid of the emperor, the populous and the high priests.

Pilate is a symbol of all those who wield authority "as an instrument of power" and not as a vehicle for carrying out true justice, he said.

Cardinal Zen prayed the Lord would awaken the consciences of the many people in power so that they "recognize the innocence of (Christ's) followers. Give them courage to respect religious freedom."

The cardinal decried the use of psychological and physical torture and wrote that Christ is able to bring meaning to and make all suffering holy.

He said even though the suffering of Christian martyrs makes it seem like the church has lost that battle their deaths "will bring about true victory to your church."

In his eighth station -- "Jesus is helped by Simon the Cyrenian to carry the cross" -- Cardinal Zen praised nonbelievers for "generously alleviating" the suffering of Christ's brothers and sisters.

"When we help brothers and sisters of the persecuted church, help us remember that, in reality, we are the ones who will be helped even more by them," he said.

In his meditation for the 11th station -- "Jesus promises his kingdom to the good thief" -- the cardinal wrote that the thief was a wrongdoer like "all of us."

But Jesus is close to everyone, he said. He prayed that the Lord would remember all people: "our friends, our enemies and the persecutors of our friends. Salvation for everyone is the true victory of the Lord."

In his meditation for the 14th, and last, station -- "Jesus is placed in the tomb" -- the cardinal recalled the long wait between Jesus' burial and his resurrection three days later. Even his strongest disciples grew weary in waiting, he wrote.

He asked, "Are we not right in being in a hurry" and wanting to see an immediate victory of Christ over evil?

Cardinal Zen said perhaps "it is our victory we are eager to witness" and prayed for perseverance and patience, reminding the faithful that God promised to be with his children to the end of time.

Hot Fuzz

Police arrest an anti-war protester outside of the Internal Revenue Building in Washington, DC. Protesters on Wednesday launched sit-ins and marches across the United States as they marked five years of war in Iraq, demanding an immediate withdrawal of US soldiers.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Vatican's Official Program for Papal Trip to U.S. Shares More Details

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Published just a month before Pope Benedict XVI's scheduled arrival in the United States, the Vatican's official program for the April 15-20 papal trip to Washington and New York was all that had been promised and a tiny bit more....

Cardinal Tettamanzi Responds to Questions About the Faith on YouTube

ROME, Mar 18, 2008 / 12:24 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi is responding to questions about the faith each week by posting videos on YouTube.

According to AFP, Father Davide Milani, a spokesman for the cardinal, said the first video was posted four weeks ago and has been seen over 65,000 times, mostly by Italian users. “We decided to launch the YouTube initiative in order to reach a wider public with the teachings of Tettamanzi,” the priest explained.

He said Cardinal Tettamanzi has received more than 400 questions on such topics as, “Why are the baptized considered children of God? Aren’t we all children of God?” and “Did baptism exist before the time of Jesus?”

The ten minute videos, which are in Italian, can be viewed at

Patriarch of Jerusalem Stepping Down at 75

Jerusalem, Mar. 18, 2008 ( - Archbishop Michel Sabbah, who steps down this week after 20 years as the Latin-rite Patriarch of Jerusalem, has issued a final appeal for peace.

In his Easter message, Patriarch Sabbah speaks of the Holy Land as a "land of Revelation, Redemption, and reconciliation" that has been troubled by "inhumane and futile violence."

"Unfortunately this land remains a land of bloodshed, ignoring its own voacation," the Palestinian prelate writes. "It is high time to learn the lessons of history and engage in the path of God; it is high time for every people and individual to accept the vocation entrusted by God to them, which is to build societies and not demolish them."

Patriarch Sabbah, a native of Nazareth, was appointed in 1988 to be the first Palestinian to head the Jerusalem patriarchate since the era of the Crusades. Having guided the Latin-rite Church through years of turmoil and controversy, he will resign on March 19 as he marks his 75th birthday.

The new Patriarch of Jerusalem will be Archbishop Fouad Twal, a seasoned Vatican diplomat who was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) in September 2005 to be coadjutor archbishop.

Today there are about 75,000 Catholic faithful within the patriarchate, which includes Israel and the Palestinian territories as well as Jordan and Cyprus. The Patriarch of Jerusalem is also, by virtue of his office, the grand prior of the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, the president of the assembly of Catholic bishops of the Holy Land, and the president of the Latin-rite bishops' conference of the Arabic region.

Do They Know It's Easter Time at All?

Swissmiss wrote:

but say a prayer
Pray for the other ones
At Eastertime it's hard
But when you're having fun
There's a world outside your window
And it's a world of secularism
Where the only water flowing
Is under the Zamboni resurfacer...

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day

Prayer to Saint Patrick

O Blessed Apostle of Ireland, glorious Saint Patrick,
many centuries ago you converted Ireland to Christ.
Receive my grateful and heartfelt prayers today
and intercede for me and for those I love.

I unite my prayers to those of all your spiritual children,
turning confidently to God through the ages.
May I begin anew at this moment to love God with all my heart
and serve him with all my strength.

Gain for me that missionary spirit
which inspired you to work for the gospel.
Open my heart to charity for all the poor
that they may find joy and relief
and give glory to God with all the saints.


Prairie Dog Five-O

Dramatic Prairie Dog vs. Kung Fu Baby

Upcoming Book Links Parishioners' Politics With Their Priests' Views

By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A small study to be reported in an upcoming book on the political influence of parish priests found huge differences in the types of political messages being emphasized from one parish to another, which may come as no surprise to anyone.

But whichever subjects their priests address, said author Gregory Smith, a fellow at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, people clearly are being influenced in their political thinking by what they hear from the pulpit and read in their parish bulletins...

Abba Drummer Found Dead in Spain

MADRID (Reuters) - A former drummer for 1970s Swedish pop group ABBA, Ola Brunkert, has been found dead after an apparent accident in his house in Mallorca, Spanish police said on Monday.

Brunkert bled to death from a throat wound which police suspect was caused after he accidentally smashed a pane of glass, a spokeswoman for the Civil Guard police said, adding that authorities were awaiting the result of an autopsy.

The official Web site of the band said Brunkert was possibly the only instrumental musician to appear on all the albums released by the band.

Abba's two male and two female vocalists were among the world's best-known faces in the 1970s with hits including "Waterloo" and "Dancing Queen."