Fortnight for Freedom–Washington, D.C.

Fortnight for Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

 

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

The Fortnight for Freedom ended on July 4th at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.  I was very moved to attend this Mass at “America’s Catholic Church,” the largest Catholic cathedral in the western hemisphere.  The Basilica was packed to standing room only with people from across the nation, brothers and sisters from many religious orders, and many lay faithful representing many nationalities.  On this nation’s birthday, there was a real sense of patriotism and faithful energy in the crowd attending this special service.

Fortnight for Freedom Mass at "America's Catholic Church"

Fortnight for Freedom Mass at “America’s Catholic Church”

 

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, celebrant of Mass

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, celebrant of Mass

Cardinal Wuerl gave a warm welcome to the crowd who travelled from many parts of America.  Cardinal Wuerl emphasized the importance of religious liberty at this time in our nation, and urged everyone to be faithful citizens and remain prayerful that religious liberty is preserved.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington

Bishop Chaput was the invited homilist and he gave a super homily that explained the threats to religious liberty and a necessary call to action.  Bishop Chaput offered a homily that was riveting and backed by solid American and Catholic history as well as theology and good governance.  I urge you to read the full text of the homily in the links below.

Bishop Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philidelphia

Bishop Charles J. Chaput, Archbishop of Philidelphia

I was disappointed that there was not much mainstream media in attendance at this major event that was well publicized to the media and public.  EWTN offered live coverage of the Mass with their mobile TV rigs named after the archangels, with Gabriel on hand for this event.

EWTN's Mobile TV rig named "Gabriel"

EWTN’s Mobile TV rig named “Gabriel”

Bishop Lori ended the Mass urging the faithful, that even though it is the end of the Fortnight of Freedom, it is the beginning of the fight for religious liberty in America.  There was a very enthusiastic Latino community from New York who played guitars and drums after mass singing songs for religious freedom.  Bishop Chaput also stayed outside and shook hands with everyone leaving the Basilica.  I hope that our country takes a hard look at religious liberty and understands the importance of our US Constitution and the protections for religious freedom.

LINKS

Fortnight for Freedom

Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Archbishop Chaput’s Homily (Catholic Online)

Archdiocese of Washington Blog – The 4th of July and why we need to boldly fight for Religious Liberty–by Monsignor Charles Pope

Blog of the Courtier

Previous Blog entries about Fortnight for Freedom

Share Button

Fortnight for Freedom–Baltimore

Fortnight for Freedom

 

 

 

 

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

 

 

The Fortnight for Freedom started on June 21st in Baltimore with an Opening Mass for the Feast of St. Thomas More & St. John Fisher.  I was privileged to attend this beautiful service that was filled with people from many dioceses including many bishops, priests,  nuns, and lay faithful.  This was a very special Mass that everyone in attendance felt a great energy of spirit, faith, and patriotism.  Archbishop of Baltimore, William Lori, was the celebrant and homilist and he delivered a fantastic homily that was met with enthusiastic applause (rare during a Mass, but this was a special and important event in the history of the American Catholic Church).  Archbishop Lori delivered a sermon that showed the history and wisdom of our faith, and how serious the gravity of the issues of religious freedom are now being threatened.   Archbishop Lori and all the U.S. Bishops calling us all to stand united in prayer and action in defending religious freedom.  I was very impressed with Archbishop Lori who took the time to shake hands with all the people who attended the Mass afterwards–very good shepherd of the church.  Here is a link from USCCB of the full text of the homily from Archbishop Lori (June 21, 2012):

Homily of Archbishop William Lori at Opening Mass of Fortnight for Freedom

Archbishop William Lori

Archbishop William Lori

 

Archbishop Lori offering an inspiring homily

Archbishop Lori offering an inspiring homily

 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) started this Fortnight for Freedom as a campaign to get all the diocese to participate in prayer, fasting, education, and action to support the protection of religious freedom.  A fortnight is a period of fourteen days, and this fortnight will culminate ceremoniously  on July 4th in Washington D.C.   There are great resources of reflections, prayers, and suggested activities for parishes and diocese on their website for Fortnight for Freedom, they even just added a new text messaging feature (Text “Freedom” to 377377).

The event in Baltimore was a peaceful event, and there were a handful of demonstrators across from the Basilica.  Ironic that the people demonstrating across from the church gain their freedom of right to free speech and to peacefully assemble from the 1st Amendment where the right to freedom of religion also is protected.

Protestors of the Fortnight of Freedom

Protestors of the Fortnight of Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To begin the Fortnight of Freedom, the bishops chose the Basilica of the National Shrine to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, because of its importance as the cradle of religious freedom in American Catholic history.  It was the first metropolitan Cathedral in American dedicated in 1821, and designed by Henry Latrobe, who was also the architect of the United States Capitol.  Many historic events have taken place at the Baltimore Basilica including the funeral Mass of Charles Carroll, the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence and cousin of Archbishop John Carroll.  The Councils of Baltimore held here in the 19th century established the parish system, mandated parochial schools, launched the Catholic University of America, and commissioned the famous Baltimore Cathechism.

Interior-Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Interior-Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

During the last 200 years, visitors to the Basilica have included dignitaries and historical figures from around the world including Blessed Pope John Paul II, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, President Andrew Jackson, the Marquis de Lafayette, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Chief Whitefeather of the Sioux Tribe.  At least 15 saints or potential saints have prayed in the Basilica.  It is worth your time to visit this holy site that has much more to offer than I can include in this blog–more in links below.

Restored Dome (Bicentennial Restoration--2006)

Restored Dome (Bicentennial Restoration–2006)

Altar in Batimore Basilica

 

Mary's Assumption on the West Nave Dome

Mary’s Assumption on the West Nave Dome

St. Teresa of Calcutta in Baltimore Basilica

St. Teresa of Calcutta in Baltimore Basilica

 

Statue in Pope John Paul II Memorial Garden at Baltimore Basilica

Statue in Pope John Paul II Memorial Garden at Baltimore Basilica

Cardinal Timothy Dolan has just written a book, True Freedom:  On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Freedom, to help educate the faithful about the religious liberty and he illustrated this from many supporting texts in the Bible and from saints and church doctrines.  The book can be downloaded with excerpts from his recent book, A People of Hope, for just 99 cents at many outlets including iTunes and Amazon.  I have just read the 26 page book on my iPad and highly recommend it on your reading list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The patron saint for religious freedom is St. Thomas More who stood up for his Catholic faith and paid for it with his life.  Fr. Robert Barron has a great short video about St. Thomas More, and about the movie A Man for All Seasons below:

Father Barron also commented on the recent statements from Secretary Sebalius and Maureen Dowd:

Catholic Vote is an organization that is also behind an effort to support religious freedom came out with a very well made short video that illustrates the importance of the issue very well.

I will be blogging on a few more events for the Fortnight of Freedom, stay tuned:

1) I will be attending the Diocese of Richmond Mass with Bishop Francis Dilorenzo at Sacred Heart Cathedral on June 24th.

2) Please consider joining us for a prayer service, Sunday, July 1st at 7pm at the 1st Amendment Monument on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall.  We will be singing songs and praying, and people are encouraged to write on the Free Speech Wall.

3) I will be attending the concluding Mass on July 4th at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C.  My cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope, will also be concelebrating with Cardinal Wehrl and Bishop Chaput.

LINKS

Fortnight for Freedom (United Conference of Catholic Bishops)

The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Religious Liberty (EWTN)

Cardinal Dolan’s True Freedom: On Protecting Human Dignity and Religious Liberty (Amazon)

 Previous Blog on Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally

 

Prayer for the Protection of Religious Liberty (USCCB)

O God our Creator,

Through the power and working of your Holy Spirit,
you call us to live out our faith in the midst of the world,
bringing the light and the saving truth of the Gospel
to every corner of society.

We ask you to bless us
in our vigilance for the gift of religious liberty.
Give us the strength of mind and heart
to readily defend our freedoms when they are threatened;
give us courage in making our voices heard
on behalf of the rights of your Church
and the freedom of conscience of all people of faith.

Grant, we pray, O heavenly Father,
a clear and united voice to all your sons and daughters
gathered in your Church
in this decisive hour in the history of our nation,
so that, with every trial withstood
and every danger overcome—
for the sake of our children, our grandchildren,
and all who come after us—
this great land will always be “one nation, under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

We ask this through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Share Button

Padre Pio – Inspiration in the modern age

Saint Padre Pio

Saint Padre Pio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today, September 23rd, is the feast day to honor Saint Padre Pio.  Born, Francesco Forgione,  in 1887 in a small Italian village to a poor and devout Catholic family.  He had a calling at a young age to live a holy life, and joined an order of Capuchin friars at the age of 19.  Padre Pio struggled all his life with health difficulties which was a burden he bore with great humility and strength.  While praying before a cross, he received the stigmata (the wounds of Christ) on September 20, 1918, the first priest ever to be so blessed.  During his lifetime his stigmata and miraculous healings he performed were doubted–even by some in The Vatican.  He was also said to have been gifted through God with the powers of bilocation, levitation, and healing by touch.  One of the great stories of WWII included that German bombers flying a mission were forced to abandon their mission, when in their astonishment, saw Padre Pio flying in the clouds forcing them to turn around.  Padre Pio was also known to have incredible sessions of offering the sacrament of confession where he knew if people were truthful and knew how to bring about a healing penance.  It was Pope John Paul II that canonized Padre Pio on June 16th, 2002 in Rome.

Padre Pio with stigmata

Padre Pio with stigmata

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a FREE saint Pio App for the iPhone, iTouch, and iPad that features the pictures and inspirational quotes from Padre Pio. mySaintPio App  is available in four languages (English, French, Italian, and German).  It also has a wonderful soundtrack of Gregorian chanting that can be turn on or off for your contemplative prayer.  The prayers and sayings of Padre Pio are a true inspiration and are timeless in this modern age.  Download this App and you too will be touched by this great saint.

mySaintPio App

mySaintPio App

 

 

 

 

Available in Apple iTunes Store

I have recently watched a movie called Padre Pio: Miracle Man  that was beautifully filmed, and it is a great biography of his holy and humble life devoted to Christ.  It is a long movie at 210 minutes, but well worth watching.  The acting and cinematography are first rate, as the filming takes place in the historic places around Italy that Padre Pio frequented.   One of the moving scenes is where a young Karol Wojtyła makes a pilgrimage to see Padre Pio and they pray together an entire evening.  A sceptic of Padre Pio, visited him nearing his death and to prove he was not a fraud, told him of the prediction that Karol Wojtyła would become a pope–indeed!!– Pope John Paul II who would make him a saint.  The movie can be watched in Italian with subtitles, or can be viewed with dubbing in either English or Spanish.  There is also a good booklet that offers more information about Saint Pio’s life and has discussion questions and commentary.  This is a great movie that I highly recommend and will give you a deeper understanding of Saint Padre Pio.

Padre Pio: Miracle Man website and preview video by Ignatius Press

Padre Pio: Miracle Man Ignatius Press (2000)

Padre Pio: Miracle Man Ignatius Press (2000)

Other Padre Pio Links:

San Pio (Official Italian website)

Padre Pio (EWTN) website 

Official Website of Shrine to Saint Pio at San Giovanni Rotondo 

iPadre Podcast of Saint Pio

 

Share Button

John Paul II Cultural Center for Sale?

Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C.

I was very excited that Blessed Pope John Paul II (Karol Józef Wojtyła) was beatified recently and think that his teachings and legacy should be passed down to future generations.  It is with great sadness that the museum in Washington, D.C. that was dedicated to Blessed Pope John Paul II in March 2001, is presently up for sale.  The 100,000 square foot building on 12 acres is adjacent to the Catholic University of America. The grounds are presently owned by the Archdiocese of Detroit and they are looking for a buyer.  The center is currently only available to visit by appointment, but very much worth your time.

The Pope John Paul II Cultural Foundation runs the facility with its mission:  to continue the work of the late pontiff, John Paul II, in bringing the wisdom and faith experience of the Catholic Church. [and vision]   To provide the atmosphere and resources needed to promote Interfaith Dialogues and Days of Faith and Culture that transcend the boundaries of culture to discover the all-inclusive compassion and similarities that serve to unite us in our faith journey. (from foundation’s website)  On April 17, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI met with about 200 representatives of Islam, Jainism, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism at the Cultural Center.

Inside the museum are many items of historical significance from Pope John Paul II’s pontificate, and interactive museum displays for teaching children and adults the faith and wisdom of this great saint.  There are gifts, and artwork from many politicians, and religious leaders, and many faiths, including a buddha from The Dalai Lama.  A display called the Hands of Peace has bronze castings of famous people working for the cause of peace including Pope John Paul II’s hand.

The well-worn bronze casting of JPII's hand

John Paul II's skis

Stone from the tomb of Saint Peter in Rome

In addition to the museum, EWTN has a television studio on the second floor that is used for the Live broadcast each Thursday for the show The World Over with Raymond Arroyo.  I e-mailed a request for tickets, and was privileged to be invited to attend the studio audience on May 19th.  Raymond has a one-hour live program that starts with a news brief about Catholic news from around the world, and then he usually has two other guests interviews that allows callers to ask questions.  That day his first guests were Emily and Charles Colson, who spoke about supporting a family member with Autism.  They co-authored a wonderful book about their journey called Dancing with Max. His second guest was Dr. Bill Donohue, from The Catholic League, who commented on the recent report to the American Bishops about the clergy scandal.  Raymond Arroyo has a great crew working with him to provide this top-rated broadcast, and it was fascinating to watch behind the scenes.  I spoke with Raymond after the show and asked him if he was going to be able keep his studio, and he replied that it depended on who the buyer will be and what they will do with the building.  I hope that whomever buys this facility will keep its current mission, and keep the television studio going to help continue the faith and teachings of Blessed John Paul II.

Do you know any people or organizations that could help in saving this great museum?  What are your favorite inspirations of Blessed John Paul II?

Raymond Arroyo interviewing Dr. Bill Donohue--The World Over--EWTN Studio

Raymond Arroyo & John Clem

LINKS:

John Paul II Cultural Foundation

EWTN

Raymond Arroyo’s Blog

Dancing with Max

The Catholic League

Note:  Blessed John Paul II has one more miracle to be verified, which surely will happen, before finally being canonized a saint.

Share Button