Life in the Spirit Seminar at St. Gabriel the Archangel, McKinney

November 7, 2010

McKinney, TX (MetroCatholic) -  Until recently the Holy Spirit was a complete mystery to me.  It is very easy for us to understand the Father and the Son in the Blessed Trinity because their stories and roles are made so clear to us… but, who is this Holy Spirit that makes up the third and very important part of the Trinity?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us in paragraph 691 that “the Holy Spirit” is the proper name of the one whom we adore and glorify with the Father and the Son.  The Church has received this name from the Lord and professes it in Baptism of her new children.   The term “Spirit” translates the Hebrew word ruah, which, in its primary sense, means breath, air, wind.”

The Holy Spirit gives us the gift of complete intimacy with our Lord.  It is the very air that we breathe to survive.  The Holy Spirit is calling to us to say yes to our Lord and live our lives for Him, with complete love and accepting of His will.  St. Augustine told us that the Spirit is to our souls what our souls are to our bodies.

If you are longing for a better relationship with our Lord, want a better prayer life, and/or a better understanding of the role that the Holy Spirit plays in that journey you will not want to miss the “Life in the Spirit Seminar” at St. Gabriel the Archangel in McKinney, TX.

The Life in the Spirit seminar will be a two-day Mission, which will be presented by The Disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ (www.dljc.org/english) and hosted by St. Gabriel’s Holy Spirit Prayer Group.  The seminar will be held on Friday, November 19th (7-9pm) and Saturday, November 20th (8am-4pm) followed by Mass at 5pm with music by the Praise Band, all our welcome!

This will be my first time attending so I have asked a couple of members of the Holy Spirit Prayer Group at St. Gabriel to tell us about their experiences attending the seminar.  Rob Karl, who attended last years seminar said,  “After attending the Life in the Spirit seminar it gave new meaning to Scripture, the Eucharist, and brought to life how the Holy Spirit works in and around us all the time.  The seminar is life changing and has helped me connect more with my Catholic faith and the prayer group that has formed from the weekend has been a source of joy and inspiration as well. This seminar should be done at all parishes.”  Rob’s enthusiasm was echoed by Tracy Stewart’s testimony as well, “The Life In the Spirit Seminar was a wonderful experience.  Not only did it educate me about the meaning of living a life in the Spirit;  it was also uplifting and fulfilling.  I truly felt the Holy Spirit was with us during the singing and praise and worship.  I would say that if you’ve never been to a Life in the Spirit Seminar, you should check it out because it can change your life.  If you have been, I’d recommend attending again to refresh yourself in the Spirit.  I’m personally looking forward to hearing the charismatic Franciscan nuns of the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ speak.  They have dedicated their lives to teaching about the Holy Spirit’s gifts and the charismatic life.  You don’t want to miss this one!”

So please come learn how to make the Holy Spirit come alive in your daily life.  If you’ve been to a previous Life in the Spirit seminar, please come again.  There is always more. The cost is $15 in advance and $20 at the door and includes lunch on Saturday.   For more information, please contact Steven or Rita Auguirre at 972-562-1781, email [email protected]. or visit www.stgabriel.org to register.

Heads of Irish archdioceses, Apostolic Visitors hopeful for successful visitation

October 7, 2010

Rome, Italy (CNA/EWTN News) — The four metropolitan archbishops of Ireland met with the apostolic visitors chosen by the Holy Father to carry out visitations in their archdioceses for the first time this week. After two days of meetings, the participants are “hopeful” that their work will be a means to purify and heal the Catholic Church of Ireland and “help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful there.”

According to a statement from the Holy See’s Press Office, meetings took place from Oct. 5-6. The prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet and the dicastery’s secretary, Archbishop Manuel Monteiro de Castro, held the meetings along with other Vatican representatives.

The visitors and the respective archdioceses subject to visitation are Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor to Armagh, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M., to Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins to Cashel and Emly and Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J., to Tuam.

The archbishops for these four jurisdictions are Cardinal Sean B. Brady for Armagh; Diarmuid Martin for Dublin; Dermot Clifford for Cashel and Emly and Michael Neary for Tuam.

During the first day’s preparatory meeting at which they were all present and “(m)indful of the tragic abuse of children that has taken place in Ireland,” participants discussed aspects of the visitation.

As per the Holy Father’s Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, it will be of a “pastoral” nature, “intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal” and, read the statement, it “is a sign of the Holy Father’s desire, as the Successor of Peter, to offer his pastoral solicitude to the Church in Ireland.”

The communique also described the contact visitors will have with members of the Irish Church, affirming that they will be giving “particular attention to victims of abuse and their families, but will also meet with and listen to a variety of people, including ecclesiastical authorities, lay faithful and those involved with the crucial work of safeguarding of children.”

To begin to the second day, Irish archbishops celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit with the visitors and participating members of the Congregation for Bishops and the Holy See’s Secretariat of State. All met after Mass to summarize the first day’s discussions and decide how to organize the visitation to each of the archdioceses. According to the official statement, the meeting was “marked by fraternal warmth and mutual collaboration.”

Following the meetings, concluded the statement, all who took part asserted that they “are hopeful that this significant endeavor will be an instrument of purification and healing for the Church in Ireland and help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful there.”

BENEDICT XVI RECALLS HIS APOSTOLIC TRIP TO UNITED KINGDOM

September 22, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - During this Wednesday’s general audience, held in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope turned his attention on his recent apostolic trip to the United Kingdom, which took place from 16 to 19 September and which he described as “a historic event marking a new important phase in the long and complex history of relations between that people and the Holy See”.

Referring to the first event of the trip, his meeting with Queen Elizabeth II in Edinburgh, the Holy Father recalled how “it was a highly cordial meeting, characterised by a deep and mutual concern for the wellbeing of the peoples of the world and for the role of Christian values in society”.

In Glasgow, where he celebrated the first Mass of his trip on the feast of St. Ninian, the first evangeliser of Scotland, “I recalled the importance of the evangelisation of culture, especially in our own time in which an insidious relativism threatens to darken the unchanging truth about the nature of man”.

The second day of the visit began with a meeting in London with the world of Catholic education, at which Benedict XVI dwelt on “the importance of the faith in forming mature and responsible citizens. I encouraged the many adolescents and young people who welcomed me with warmth and enthusiasm”, he said, “not to follow limited goals, or to satisfy themselves with comfortable choices but to aim at something greater: the search for true happiness which is to be found only in God.

“In my subsequent meeting with the leaders of other religions present in the United Kingdom”, he added, “I pointed out the ineluctable need for sincere dialogue, which in order to be fruitful requires respect for the principle of reciprocity. At the same time, I identified the search for the sacred as a ground common to all religions, upon which to build up friendship, trust and collaboration”.

The Pope went on: “The fraternal visit to the Archbishop of Canterbury was an opportunity to underline the shared commitment to bear witness to the Christian message which unites Catholics and Anglicans. This was followed by one of the most significant moments of my apostolic trip: the meeting in the Great Hall of the British parliament” where, he explained, “I underlined the fact that religion, for lawmakers, must nor represent a problem to be resolved, but a factor that makes a vital contribution to the nation’s historical progress and public debate, especially by recalling the essential importance of ensuring an ethical foundation for choices made in the various areas of social life”.

The praying of Vespers with the Christian communities of the United Kingdom in Westminster Abbey, the first visit made there by a Successor of Peter, “marked an important moment in relations between the Catholic community and the Anglican Communion”, Pope Benedict said.

He then recalled how, on Saturday morning, a Eucharistic celebration was held at Westminster Cathedral, which is dedicated to the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord. “I as overjoyed to meet large numbers of young people”, he remarked. “With their enthusiastic presence, … they showed that they wanted to be protagonists of a new period of courageous witness, effective solidarity and generous commitment to serving the Gospel”.

Later in the apostolic nunciature, “I met with some victims of abuses committed by members of the clergy and religious. It was a moment of intense emotion and prayer”, said the Holy Father. At his meeting with people responsible for protecting children and young people in Church environments “I thanked them and encouraged them to continue their work, which is part of the Church’s long tradition of concern for the respect, education and formation of new generations”.

The old people’s home he visited on Saturday afternoon testifies, he said, “to the great concern the Church has always had for the elderly, and expresses the commitment of British Catholics to respecting life irrespective of age or condition”.

“The culmination of my visit to the United Kingdom was the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman, illustrious son of that land. By way of preparation, it was preceded by a special prayer vigil which took place on Saturday evening at Hyde Park in London. … To the multitude of faithful, especially young people, I presented the shining example of Cardinal Newman, intellectual and believer, whose spiritual message can be summed up in his the witness that the way of knowledge does not mean closing in on oneself; rather it means openness, conversion and obedience to He Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life”.

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by highlighting how “this apostolic trip confirmed my profound conviction that the old nations of Europe possess a Christian soul which merges with the ‘genius’ and history of their respective peoples, and the Church never ceases to work to keep this spiritual and cultural tradition alive”.

Thomas More College’s Artist-in-Residence to Host Art Show on CatholicTV

August 23, 2010

MERRIMACK, NEW HAMPSHIRE (MetroCatholic)— A new Catholic art show hosted by the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts’ artist-in-residence, David Clayton, will debut on CatholicTV starting September 6th.

Entitled “The Way of Beauty,” this 13-part series will examine Catholic traditions in art and how the styles of these traditions relate directly to the liturgy, theology, and philosophy of the Church.

Beginning September 6th, “The Way of Beauty” will air at the following five times each week on CatholicTV cable outlets (all times Eastern): Tuesdays at 12:00 Midnight; Wednesdays at 12:00 Noon; Thursdays at7:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 3:30 p.m.; and Sundays at 6:30 a.m.

A new full-length episode of Way of Beauty will also be added to CatholicTV’s website each week at http://www.CatholicTV.com/catholic-art.

David Clayton launched the Way of Beauty Program at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in 2008 to renew in artists, aspiring artists, and the general public an appreciation for the Catholic traditions in art and architecture.  The Way of Beauty Program includes a series of courses offered as part of the core curriculum at Thomas More College, as well as lectures, workshops, and seminars hosted throughout the country.

The Way of Beauty Program has now added a television show to its already impressive array of educational outreach efforts.

“In this television series I explore the Catholic traditions in art, as well as the theological principles behind them,” said Clayton. “Viewers will be led to a greater understanding of the principles of harmony and proportion that are infused in the work of the old Masters.”

“Christian culture, like classical culture before it, was patterned after the cosmic order, whose unifying principles run through every discipline,” continued Clayton.  “Literature, art, music, architecture, philosophy—all of creation and, potentially, all human activity—are bound together by this common harmony and receive their fullest meaning in the rhythms and patterns of the Church’s liturgy.”

“The principles of beauty are applicable to all aspects of daily life, including business, the academy—indeed, in all areas of human engagement.” said Clayton. “This is the via pulchritudinis—the way of beauty—that Pope Benedict has spoken of as the most attractive path to God.”

Since coming to Thomas More College in early 2009, Clayton’s Way of Beauty Program has become widely popular.  In addition to his TV and teaching commitments, he writes about sacred art for the New Liturgical Movement web site and posts regularly on his own blog, www.TheWayofBeauty.org, where readership has skyrocketed since its release in April 2010.

“I have very much enjoyed working with Catholic TV on the Way of Beauty television program – it has been quite a learning experience for me,” said Clayton. “I am hoping that the series will help to publicize further these important ideas and work toward the renewal of Catholic art and, by extension, the evangelization of culture.”

CatholicTV is a nationally-broadcasted television network streaming a live feed 24 hours a day at CatholicTV.com.  Heeding Pope Benedict XVI’s call to greater utilize the power of television and new media, the CatholicTV Network features its cable TV station, Catholic web site, mobile apps and widget.  Celebrate Mass online; pray The Rosary; enjoy programs on prayer, the saints, the Scriptures and the Catholic Church on America’s Catholic Television Network.

The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts provides a four-year undergraduate education which develops young people intellectually, ethically, and spiritually in the Catholic tradition and in faithfulness to the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.   An education at Thomas More College introduces students to the central questions of Western civilization – and the Church’s response to them.  It teaches skills in reasoning, speaking, and writing that will allow its graduates to become faithful leaders according to the individual vocations which God has given them.

The Holy Chalice

August 20, 2010

When I walked into the church for Mass this past Sunday, I was immediately accosted by a Knight.  “Excuse me,” he said while trying to balance a squirming toddler in his arms, “Can your family take the Elijah cup this weekend?  We don’t have a family signed up.”

Considering that I walked into the church alone (my husband was parking the car), I was surprised that the Knight knew I was part of a family.  I could chalk it up to luck on his part or perhaps divine providence.  I went for the latter and after assessing the desperate look on his face (Mass was just seven minutes away), I gladly accepted and promptly went over to the book to officially sign up.  The Knight was relieved.

Each week in our community, a family takes the Elijah cup home and promises to pray for an increase in religious vocations.  The cup is a blessed chalice used at Mass for the precious blood.  The family is presented with the cup at the end of Mass and brings it home where they put it in a place of honor.  Every day, the family gathers around the cup and prays for an increase in vocations with the same faith of the widow in 1 Kings 17: 7-15.  In this passage, the Lord asked the widow to feed Elijah her last bit of food and in return the Lord promised that he would provide her flour and oil until rain fell again and the famine ended.  She obeyed and because of her faith and obedience, there was always flour in her jar and oil in her jug and they didn’t go hungry.  We too need to pray with the same faith that the Lord will continue to call priests, deacons, brothers and sisters to guide and nurture His sheep.  And those called will answer and dedicate themselves to religious life so that the sheep will not go hungry during the famine.

All during the mass, I watched the cup.  I watched our pastor pour the wine and hold it up to heaven.  I watched and was humbled at the awesome moment of consecration.  This cup was holding the precious blood of our Lord.  This cup was holy.  Our family would be trusted with this cup – to pray with this cup.  What an awesome responsibility we had been given just seven minutes before the start of Mass.  At the end of Mass, our pastor called us forward and handed the cup to my very excited 10 year old son.  The reverence I felt for this holy cup could be seen in the enthusiasm on my son’s face as he held the cup.  My heart expanded with joy because he got it. He understood the Eucharist with his heart.

Recently, our family dedicated ourselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  We Enthroned Him as King of our family and home.  We invited all our friends and family to witness as we placed his image above our fireplace, got on our knees and dedicated ourselves – mind, body and soul to Him.  Since we have made this dedication to Him, I can see how we are changed.  We are drawn to the Eucharist. Mass is more meaningful.  Adoration once a month isn’t enough.  The other day, my husband and I were lamenting over the fact our schedules don’t allow us to attend daily mass.  I have even started watching mass on EWTN only to find myself frustrated that I couldn’t be physically there to receive our Lord.  We are drawn to the Eucharist like a moth to a flame.

I think this is why I was so enamored by the cup.  After Mass, we brought the Elijah cup home and placed the holy chalice on our mantle – right below our image of Jesus and His Sacred Heart.  It was so fitting to see the cup there with the image.  We prayed around the cup as the week went on.  And then one morning, I came downstairs and stopped in front of the cup.  I started to thank God for allowing that Knight to stop me in my tracks on the way to mass – to thank Him for letting us have this holy cup in our home,  this cup that contained His precious blood.  And that is when I heard His voice in my head say “but you are my living cup.  I was present in that holy chalice, but now I am present in you.  You came to the table, partook of that cup and now I live on in you – my holy, living chalice.”

Suddenly, the cup on my mantle wasn’t as shiny.  The Lord was present in that cup, but now He is present in me.  All week I had been walking around my home captivated by that cup without realizing that what was in that cup was now in me.  He is part of me.  He nourishes me.  While that cup is just a cup that the wine can hold, my body is a living thing that the Lord’s precious blood can nourish and become one with.  The Lord’s heart truly becomes one with mine in the Eucharist.  He dresses me physically and spiritually in His salvation. 

As I let these words sink into my understanding, I immediately felt unworthy.  Am I holy enough to be a living chalice?  Am I worthy enough for the Lord to be present in me so intimately?  The answer is no. I am not.  I fall far short.  And when I quickly came to this realization, I heard Him say, “But I’m doing it anyway.  I love you in spite of your unworthiness.” 

I understand why the Church calls it a mystery.  As I am drawn closer to the Eucharist, the light I am walking in becomes brighter and brighter, and my unworthiness is more and more apparent.  And when I stop to take in the state of my soul and see my unworthiness in His light, He takes the opportunity to tell me that He loves me in spite of my unworthiness.  He knew how unworthy I was before He let them nail Him to that cross.  He knew of my wretchedness before He allowed the crown of thorns to be pressed into His head.  He knew of my nature before He offered His back to that first whip.  He knew about me in the garden.  He knew.  And He did it anyway.  And He keeps doing it over and over, humbling himself into the hands of the priest at the altar and becoming present in the Eucharist, all because He loves me and He wants to live in me.  This is a great mystery my finite brain cannot understand.  This is a love foreign to my human heart.  This is salvation my soul doesn’t deserve.  But all my spirit wants to do is be present with and in the Eucharist; to be present with and in Him.  I pray that He will continue to give me the strength, courage and desire to keep flying towards Him like the ugly moth to the beautiful flame.

Lori is a stay-at-home mom to her two boys and the children she loves on during the day at her home daycare.  She loving supports her Husband’s calling as a High School Band Director.  Originally from New Orleans, she was raised in the Southern Baptist Church and converted to the Catholic faith while in college.  When she has a rare free moment, she publishes her thoughts and musings at www.lorislifeandtimes.blogspot.com and is a volunteer columnist for www.catholicmom.com

Catholic Radio Conference to feature ‘Boot Camp’ for new stations

August 18, 2010

Charleston, S.C.  (CNA/EWTN News) — The 2010 Catholic Radio Conference, scheduled for October, will feature a “boot camp” for those new to Catholic radio. Keynoting the event will be Newt and Callista Gingrich, who will discuss their new movie about Pope John Paul II’s pilgrimage to Poland.

The conference will take place in Birmingham, Alabama Oct. 13-16, a press release from organizers reports. Its “boot camp” will teach newcomers to Catholic radio how to overcome common hurdles.

Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife Callista will speak about their movie “Nine Days that Changed the World.” The movie is about John Paul II’s visit to Poland in June of 1979 which helped transform the Polish people and helped lead to the fall of communism.

A screening of the movie will follow the Gingriches’ comments.

Bishop of Birmingham Robert J. Baker will celebrate a Mass at the conference and the deputy chief of the Federal Communications Commission’s Audio Division will address attendees. The conference has separate tracks in radio operations, promotion and fundraising and technical issues.

Catholic Radio Association President Stephen Gajdosik said that one strength of Catholic radio is its ability to leverage and unify the work of the Church.

“Whether it be a lay or diocesan effort, it is a work of the Church. Catholic radio can magnify that work, helping it to bear more fruit. The 2010 Catholic Radio Conference is designed to help radio stations and programmers make their work serve the Church ever more effectively.”

The conference website is at http://www.catholicradioconference.com

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Middle East broadcaster plans special coverage to honor Mother Teresa’s birthday

August 18, 2010

Beirut, Lebanon (CNA) — Télé Lumière and Noursat, the only Catholic television and satellite network broadcast from the Middle East, has announced it will air a series of celebrations to honor Blessed Mother Teresa’s 100th birthday. A highlight of its coverage will be the installation of a nearly 10-foot-tall statue of the woman devoted to charity.

The statue will be erected in Sed El Bouchrieh, a city in the Fanar region of Lebanon, where the first Missionaries of Charity convent was established. Since 1979, Mother Teresa’s religious order has had a center in Fanar and another in Becharre.

In 1982 Mother Teresa visited Lebanon and transferred to safety about 50 orphans and disabled people who had been trapped by Israeli bombing.

The Fanar center hosts orphans or children rejected by their families because of their handicaps. It also hosts abandoned women who have no children to care for them.

The statue to be installed is close to 10 feet in height and stands on a on a 6.5-foot high platform. It shows Mother Teresa with a “comforting tender smile” and a “bright healing look,” Télé Lumière and Noursat reports.

Its creator is artist George Aoun, while Armenian engineer Sarkis Ohanian coated the work with bronze.

Télé Lumière and Noursat is preparing a “majestic, official diplomatic and popular festival” for the occasion. The program will air at 6 p.m. Beirut time on Aug. 26.

The Maronite Archbishop of Beirut Boulos Matar will celebrate a Mass for the event in St. Takla Church. There will be a procession to the statue’s platform, with participants chanting and singing hymns.

Télé Lumière and Noursat has produced and broadcast several programs about Mother Teresa, including a documentary filmed in Calcutta. For three months it has aired a daily program titled “The Essence of Calcutta.”

“The station considers this as a small recognition from, and a testimony to the ways she touched the lives of the people, all the sisters for all the love, faith and care of all those who are in need, and for being a true example of Jesus’ love,” the broadcaster explained.

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Mother Teresa Relics to Arrive in Dallas

July 21, 2010

McKinney, TX  (MetroCatholic) — Blessed Mother Teresa’s relics will arrive on Tuesday, July 27.  The only time for individual veneration will be after the Mass at 6:00 PM on July 27th at St. James Church.  The church is located at 1002 E. Saner Ave., off of 35, south of downtown Dallas.  Phone:  214-371-9209

Why not start praying the Mother Teresa Novena now for graces, and your petitions that you will bring to Blessed Mother Teresa next week.

Prayer for Canonization:

Jesus, you made Blessed Teresa an inspiring example of firm faith and burning charity, an extraordinary witness to the way of spiritual childhood, and a great and esteemed teacher of the value and dignity of every human life. Grant that she may be venerated and imitated as one of the Church’s canonized saints.

Hear the requests of all those who seek her intercession, especially the petition I now implore…

(mention here the favor or favors  you wish to pray for).

May we follow her example in heeding Your cry of thirst from the Cross and joyfully loving You in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, especially those most unloved and unwanted.

We ask this in Your name and through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and the Mother of us all.   Amen.

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Despite language difficulties, Community of St. John begins youth ministry in Ethiopia

July 12, 2010

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (CNA).- Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reported that the Community of St. John was recently asked by an archdiocese in Ethiopia to head the local youth ministry, despite a lack of familiarity the brothers have with the country’s 80 languages.

Archbishop Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel of Addis Ababa asked the community – which was founded in France– to provide chaplains who would set up a youth ministry program for the archdiocese.

Br. Iovane, who is one of three brothers who went to Ethiopia, told ACN that one of the biggest challenges has been learning a new language.

The brother said he along with the other two have spent three hours a day learning Amharic, the country’s official language, but one of 80 spoken in Ethiopia. He then explained how the language has similar roots to Hebrew, with an alphabet that has as many as 277 different characters.

Despite the difficulties of learning the complicated language, the new youth chaplain said that any challenges pale in comparison to the higher calling of the work he has been sent to do alongside his community.

“You have to know why you’re here. If you are here on mission, then it’s (God’s) will to spread his word to the end of the earth, as it says in Matthew’s Gospel.”

“You have to speak the language to communicate with the young people – it’s not a question of whether it’s difficult or not,” he added. “What matters is that it’s what the Lord is calling me to do.”

“When you switch on the light sometimes it doesn’t come on, when you turn on the tap sometimes no water comes out, but this is not an issue compared to the mission we have from the Lord.”

The three brothers arrived shortly after the archdiocese conducted a survey asking the youth what they wanted from the Church, with the results showing that they desired more formation in the faith. In response, the brothers have organized interactive teaching sessions, concerts, festivals and other community youth events.

Speaking on the fervent faith of the Addis Ababa Catholic youth, Br. Iovane said they “have a faith, a sense of adoration through liturgy that is just amazing, I’ve never seen that anywhere else – and I’m not talking about Eucharistic Adoration – what I mean is while singing at the entrance of Mass they are connected to God, worshiping God in a personal context.

“If they build a life on that faith they will triumph.”

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INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR SILENCE TO PERCEIVE THE VOICE OF GOD

July 6, 2010

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Benedict XVI today made a pastoral visit to the town of Sulmona, in the Italian region of Abruzzo, to mark the eighth centenary of the birth of St. Celestine V, the hermit Pope.

At 10 a.m. he presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in the town’s Piazza Garibaldi, attended by some 25,000 faithful.

The Holy Father began his homily with a reference to the difficulties the local people have to face every day, giving them assurances of his “closeness and recollection in prayer”, especially for “those who live their lives in precarious situations due to a lack of work, uncertainty over the future, and with physical and moral suffering and a sense of loss due to the earthquake of 6 April 2009″.

Speaking then of Celestine V, known as Pietro da Morrone because he lived in seclusion on a mountain of that name until his election as Pope in 1294, the Holy Father highlighted how “he abides in history, … above all for his sanctity. Sanctity, indeed, never loses its power of attraction, it does not fall into oblivion, it never goes out of fashion; rather, with the passing of time it becomes ever brighter, expressing man’s perennial striving after God”.

This saint was, “from his youth, a ’seeker after God’, a man who wished to find answers to the great questions of existence: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I alive? For whom do I live? … In exterior silence, but above all in interior silence, he managed to perceive the voice of God which was able to guide his life”.

In this context, the Holy Father noted how “we live in a society in which every space, every moment must be ‘filled’ with initiatives, activities, sounds. Often there is not even time to listen or to converse. Dear brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid to create silence inside and outside ourselves if we wish to be capable not only of hearing the voice of God, but also the voice of those near us, the voice of our fellow man”.

Another element of St. Celestine’s life was his recognition of the work of Grace. “What he had and what he was did not come from him, it was given to him. It was the work of Grace and, therefore, constituted a responsibility before God and before others”.

“God anticipates us always. Each individual life contains good and beautiful things that we can easily recognise as His Grace. … If we learn to recognise God in His infinite goodness then we will be able to see, with wonder, the signs of God in our lives, just as the saints did”. The signs of a God “Who is always close, Who is always good to us, Who says: ‘Have faith in me’”.

“The cross”, said Benedict XVI, “was the focal point of Pietro da Morrone’s life, it gave him the strength to face harsh penance and the most difficult moments, from his youth until his final hour. … When he was elected to the See of the Apostle Peter he chose to grant a special indulgence called ‘La Perdonanza’”.

Pope Celestine, “though leading a hermit’s life, was not ‘closed in on himself’, but was seized with the passion to carry the good news of the Gospel to his brothers and sisters”, said the Holy Father.

The Church’s mission, he explained, consists “in the calm, clear and courageous announcement of the evangelical message - even in moments of persecution - without surrendering to the lure of fashion, or of violence and imposition”. It consists “in detachment from concern for things (money or clothes), trusting in the Providence of the Father; in particular attention and concern towards those sick in body or in spirit”.

At the end of Mass and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father entrusted the local Church to the Virgin Mary, venerated in Sulmona at the shrine of the “Madonna della Libera”. He said: “May you walk united and joyful in the way of faith, hope and charity. Faithful to the heritage of St. Celestine V, always combine evangelical radicalism with mercy, so that all those who seek God may find Him.

“In Mary, Virgin of silence and of listening, St, Peter da Morrone found the perfect model of obedience to divine will, in his simple and humble life directed at the search for what is truly essential”, the Pope added.

“We too, who live in an age of greater comfort and of more possibilities, are called to appreciate a sober lifestyle, to keep our minds and hearts free in order to share our goods with our brothers and sisters”.

After praying the Angelus, the Pope went to the House for Clergy at the diocesan pastoral centre of Sulmona where he had lunch with bishops of the Abruzzo region. The House for Clergy, built to accommodate sick and elderly priests, was inaugurated today following restoration work and is dedicated to Benedict XVI.

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