Canonizations of John XXIII & John Paul II from Washington, D.C.

New Portraits of Saints John Paul II & John XXIII at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

New Portraits of Saints John Paul II & John XXIII at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

It was an amazing weekend visiting Washington D.C. for the canonizations of two new saints — Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II on Divine Mercy Sunday.  These two men helped to bring the Roman Catholic Church into the modern world with great courage, love, joy, humor, grace, and humility.  To celebrate this historic event, the John Paul II Shrine was hosting a series of events over the weekend.

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

It started with a procession of the Blessed Sacrament for three miles around the area in Washington, D.C. fondly known as “Little Rome,” because there are so many Catholic organizations, churches, and shrines in a concentrated area of the city.  The procession went from the JPII Shrine to the Basicilca of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, then to Catholic University of America, then to the John Paul II Seminary, and returning back to the JPII Shrine.   At each stop there was speech honoring both saints, and then time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  Many faithful devoutly joined this procession, despite having rain and wind to endure, nature was not going to stop this joyous occasion.

Adoration of Blessed Sacrament at Catholic University Chapel

Adoration of Blessed Sacrament at Catholic University Chapel

 

After the procession, there was a midnight Mass for Divine Mercy Sunday, a Feast instituted by Pope John Paul II.  There were about 1,000 people in attendance of this beautiful Mass celebrated by the chaplain of the John Paul II Shrine, Fr. Gregory Gresko.  This temporary chapel was set-up for the weekend, and had a beautiful artwork in the background of Christ, and there were protraits of John Paul II and the Divine Mercy image on each side of the altar.  There were TVs for viewing the Masses locally and in Rome throughout the facility, and a wall also had the live Twitter Feed from people posting from around the globe on #2PopeSaints.

Mass and Live Event in main chapel at JPII Shrine

Mass and Live Event in main chapel at JPII Shrine

There were two first class relics of Saint John Paul II that were taken out for veneration, one is a permanent gift from Cardinal Donald Wuerl, a blood soaked cloth from the time of the shooting of JPII, and the other was on loan from the Knights of Columbus that is a vile of blood from JPII.

Fr. Gregory Gresko carrying the First Class Relic the Blood of Saint John Paul II

Fr. Gregory Gresko carrying the First Class Relic the Blood of Saint John Paul II

Fr. Gresko said that the walls will enclose this space and an artists is coming who had worked with John Paul II on some iconic art in Rome, and will be working on beautiful art to cover the walls of the new chapel opening in the Fall of 2015.  The basement museum space is currently being overhauled, and will have a wonderful permanent interactive exhibit opening in July 2014.  The exhibit will invite visitors to walk in the footsteps of of Saint John Paul II while exploring how his understanding of the dignity of the human person informed his life and papacy.  It will also explore his teachings and spirituality through computer interactives, personal artifacts, and original artwork.  This inspiring Shrine will always offer Mass, Confession, The Angelus, Adoration, and Veneration of JPII relics (see website below for schedule)

A Gift Of Love:  The Life of Saint John Paul II -- a permanent exhibit to open July 2014

A Gift Of Love: The Life of Saint John Paul II — a permanent exhibit to open July 2014

 

The crowds who came cheered when Pope Francis and Pope Bendict XVI embraced to start the Holy Mass for the Canonizations of these two holy men about to become saints.  When it was official everyone rejoiced and the Holy relic if John Paul’s blood was processed out and people had opportunity to pray with the relic.  Saint John Paul II was with us both in spirit and body during this special event in Washington, DC, where he designated the place for his own shrine to be during his lifetime.  It is interesting that he did not choose Italy or Poland, but chose Washington, DC since he knew it was a place that welcomes all peoples around the world. You and your parish should make a pilgrimage to Washington, DC to see this inspiring shrine, which now also includes the nearby Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land & The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

Catholic Celebrate the Canonizations from the Saint John Paul II National Shrine (Catholic News Service)

Saint John XXIII (1881-1963)

I made a short video to highlight the history and great contributions that the “Good Pope” gave to our faith.

Fr. James Martin, S.J. also shared the joy and humor and humility of Saint John XXIII.  Fr. Martin also wrote an excellent article in The Washington Post called Do we still need saints?

Pope John Paul II (1920-2005)

Rome Reports offered a good short history of John Paul “The Great” who many called for his sainthood during his funeral in 2005.

Chris Stefanick walked the grounds near Denver’s World Youth Day and spoke about the powerful influences on youth Pope John Paul II made with so many.

Catholic New Media Coverage of the Canonizations

This was really the first canonization of a modern saint that had such modern media coverage with radio, tv, internet, and social media, that brought many more stories to light that was not true of any similar canonization before.  It was also historic having two current popes in attendance who are canonizing two saint popes.  Below are some of the best stories and media that I was able to see during this event that offer some unique insights and behind the scenes that you may not have seen just watching or hearing from one media source.

Behind the Scenes in Rome

It was fun to follow and number of great priests who were helping to tell the stories of the saints and what was happening in Rome.

Fr. Robert Barron was reporting for NBC News, but also was made five behind the scenes videos that are worth watching:

The Church’s One Purpose (Word From Rome #1) — more in link below.

Fr. Roderick VonHogen was reporting for SQPN and produced 18 videos (more in link below) showing how it was to be a pilgrim from the crowd perpective at the events in Rome.  Fr. Roderick is a wonderful priest who started podcasting at the funeral of Pope John Paul II, and has grown a network of the best Catholic podcasters through work of many around the world and help from the Holy Spirit.  Here he is visiting the tombs of both John XXIII and JPII.

Fr. Leo Patalinghug was reporting for Grace Before Meals, and cooked up a meal in honor of what the two saints would like to eat.  Fr. Leo is an inspiring priest, chef, and media personality who helps preach his message of faith, food, and family.

Pilgrims, priests, sisters, and kids in Rome dancing to Pharrell Williams Happy:

Students from John Paul the Great Catholic University read the inspirational Letter to Artists by Saint John Paul II

 

Saint fans having fun with Social Media

Here is an entertaining cartoon regarding the two new saints by Jason Bach:

JasonBach 2

Here is a fun photo showing the Fab Four Popes walking a Roman Road to the Abbey:

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Saint John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Dies Domini

To end Divine Mercy Sunday, I attended an event hosted by the Institute of Catholic Culture at St. Veronica’s in Chantilly, Virginia.  The speaker was my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope, who offered a very insightful and heart-felt speech about this important papal document from Pope John Paul II.  I urge you to please view this video, and the speech starts at the 11:30 mark

Monsignor Charles Pope talking at the Insitute of Catholic Culture

Monsignor Charles Pope talking at the Insitute of Catholic Culture

Video of Monsignor Charles Pope for the Institute of Catholic Culture

 

LINKS

Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Divine Mercy (Marians of the Immaculate Conception)

Institute of Catholic Culture

Fr. Robert Barron’s Word From Rome

Fr. Roderick Vonhogen – The Catholic Insider

Many More Links in the “Popefest” edition of  John Clem’s Sweet Tweets

 

Sign for Saint John Paul II National Shrine

Sign for Saint John Paul II National Shrine

 

 

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Cold Hard Truth — March for Life 2014

It was a cold five degrees today in Washington, D.C. for the 41st Annual March for Life, but that did not dampen the enthusiam for tens of thousands of people from across America advocating for the dignity of life from conception to natural death in this country.  I was very moved at the fortitude of so many people coming out in harsh weather conditions to fight for a noble cause in saving innocent life.  Life that is under constant threat regarding abortion, aging, healthcare, and developemental disability rights.  It is sad to report that the count is now up to 55 million babies murdered since the passage of Roe v. Wade on January 22, 1973.

Many arriving at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

Many arriving during snow storm at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception for prayers and Masses.

The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

There were thousands of people who came to visit the National Shrine on Tuesday for many activities including, Eucharistic Adoration, Mass, and Confessions, and Prayer Vigil for Life that filled the many chapels and the Basilica with faithful from around the nation.  It was so upilifitng to see the youth of today practicing their faith so devoutly.

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Pilgrims arriving to pray at Our Lady of Lourdes Chapel

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

I then went to visit the Blessed John Paul II Shrine which is just a few blocks away from the National Shrine.  I was blessed to attend a Mass at the Shrine and the chaplain invited attendees to  venerate a new relic that was a piece of the vestment that Pope John Paul II wore when he was shot.  It was a moving experience for many, and especially this year when he will be officially canonized on April 27th (Divine Mercy Sunday) along with Pope John XXIII.  During our Mass there was a lot of construction noise as the Knights of Columbus are busily getting the Shrine ready for events in April.  There will be many events announced soon for the canonization including a Masses at the National Shrine and a procession of the Holy Eucharist up the road to the “Saint John Paul II Shrine.”  There will be a new 400 seat chapel unveiled for the canonization that includes a new sacristy and confessionals where the sacrament of reconciliation will be offered every day.  They are also remaking a 14,ooo square foot area in the basement featuring interactive displays on the life and teachings of Saint John Paul II, but unfortunately will not be ready until July.

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

Veneration of a new Blessed John Paul II relic (his vestment when he was shot).

March for Life 2014

I arrived early at 10am on the National Mall and was one of the first to see all the crews setting up the sound system.  I was really psyched to meet Matt Maher as he arrived for his sound check in fridged tempertures to play an accoustic guitar.  I have included a link to his last music album below from SoundCloud – definately worth a listen.

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

Matt Maher warming up for March for Life performance

I was also priviledged to meet Gus Lloyd and Fr. Jonathan Morris from The Catholic Channel on XM/Sirius Satellite Radio.  Great to see them in action providing wonderful Catholic radio programming accross the nation.  I also met Teresa Tomeo, from EWTN, and seeing their camera teams in action offering live TV coverage interviewing many eager participants in the march.

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Gus Lloyd braodcasting for XM/Sirius Satellite Radio

Catholic New Media

The March for Life became more involved with using social media including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.  The March for Life also unveiled a new logo for 2014.  There were also two new Apps that became good resources for the March for Life this year.

  • The March for Life App offered a list of events, maps, ticket links, news, video, take action, and education resources.
  • Nine Days for Life App offering a nine day novena from January 18-26.  It offered prayers, meditation, and suggested exercises of faith.  I also like that it offered the time of day you could select to get a reminder text sent to you from the USCCB.

New Ways in Saving Lives

Save The Storks Bus

Save The Storks Bus

Save the Storks is a new program offering mobile vans that offer loving support to women thinking about abortions.  The vans are equipped with a screen to watch supportive pro-life videos, and offer 3-D sonograms of their babies.  Pregnancy resource centers are able to park these units outside abortion clinics to show Christ’s love and compassion to help women in making a lifesaving decision.  Save the Storks is looking to grow this program to more communities, and has made a wonderful start in serving the Archdiocese of Boston over the past three years.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Interior of Save the Storks van.

Lifeboat Coffee is a new coffee company that offers gourmet coffee in both ground and whole-bean.  All the proceeeds from the sale of these coffees go to help for the cause of the pro-life movenent.  You can find out more about their wonderful story and how to get their coffee at the link below.

LifeBoatCoffee

 

 

 

 

 

Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

Bagpiper playing Hail Holy Queen

The Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

Monsignor Charles Pope in front of the Supreme Court

The crowds from many walks of life marched up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court.  When I arrived with the other photographers before the crowd turned the corner, I was pleased to see my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope there praying the rosary.  He is a wonderful priest for the Diocese of Washington, and is the main writer for the diocesan blog which now has many readers.  He recently rededicated the Ten Commandments monument which is just behind the Supreme Court which had been vandelized.  I continue to pray for the end of legalized abortions and the protection of innocent life in our country and thankful for so many people who came out for the 2014 March for Life — God Bless you all.

The Ten Commandments Monument

The Ten Commandments Monument

God’s Grace

I did have one other casualty on the March for Life — my iPhone battery.  It was so cold that it drained much quicker than anticipated.  I think the Holy Spirit intervened– while visiting a Starbucks, some very kind young people from Florida who were here for the March for Life, let me borrow their charger, which was a life-saver (God Bless you again).

Angels from Florida

Angels from Florida

LINKS

March for Life

National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Blessed John Paul II Shrine

Matt Maher on SoundCloud

March for Life App (iTunes)

March for Life App (Google Play)

9 Days for Life Website

9 Days for Life App (iTunes)

9Days for Life App (Google Play)

Save the Storks

Lifeboat Coffee

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill

Crowds Marching up Capitol Hill

 

March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill

March for Life 2014 up Capitol Hill

 

A person's a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

A person’s a person no matter how small (Dr. Suess)

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Laura Ingraham at UVA Law

Laura Ingraham speaking at UVA Law School

Laura Ingraham speaking at UVA Law School

Laura Ingraham came to the University of Virginia Law School as an alumnus to speak about her work and experience in law and politics from a very personal perspective.   Laura was invited by The Federalist Society for Law Public Policy Studies to speak about politics and the public perception of the Supreme Court.  Maybe I was expecting to hear the same brash personality from FOX News, or from her conservative radio show, but really she offered a very honest and rational view of the state of America.  Laura was critical of Democrats, but even more so of her own Republican Party.

Laura Ingraham

Laura Ingraham

 

Laura shared with us that she is friends with both of the candidates for the Virginia Governors race,  Terry McAuliffe & Ken Cuccinelli.    She said that she goes to the same church as Terry McAuliffe, and often has friendly debates with him, even though they do not agree ideologically.  She said Ken Cuccinelli is a “good man,” but does not have a vibrant personality needed to win with voters.  Laura made clear that she thinks many of the people in Washington are well-intentioned politicians, but we need someone who can lead our nation and “wright the ship” from a $17-trillion deficit or disaster will come soon. She said she does not care what party a politician follows, she just wants to see America get leadership in place that will address the biggest issues of jobs, the economy, and liberty.

Laura is true patriot and wants to see a better future for her children, and very worried about the state of our nation.  Laura commented that the current problems with the Affordable Health Care website are representative of of the problems of the Obama administration, showing his lack of experience in running a business.  Laura said that our next president should have experience in leadership running a business, as a vital requirement of the Chief Executive.  Laura said she is not critical of Barrack Obama as a person, but rather about his lack of leadership skills needed for the office.  Laura did comment that the US Courts also need good leadership, and questioned the ruling by Supreme Court Justice Roberts on the Affordable Care Act.

Adoption

The most important thing in Laura’s life is her family.  Laura is a wonderful mother who adopted three children, and is a strong advocate for domestic and foreign adoptions.  Two of Laura’s children were adopted from Russia, where she had to use her legal skills and ability to speak the Russian language in their courts to save these children. Laura was recently outraged at the ban on foreign adoptions made by Vladamir Putin in Russia.  In response, she has started a charity to help promote a culture of supporting adoptions called Burning Both Ends.   Laura shows us bi-partisan leadership in partnering with Democrat Mary Landrieu for this wonderful cause. Great video below worth your time to view:

A Charitable Heart

Laura helps many charities, and shows a love of people with the many works of mercy and financial supports in her work.  Laura has been a supporter of the military with the Wounded Warrior Project, and a number of worthy causes for our troops.  Laura is a breast cancer survivor who helps others afflicted, and in finding a cure.  She is also a staunch supporter of life–from conception to natural death.  Following is a list of her worthy charities:

Laura Ingraham’s Favorite Charities

 

Convert to Catholicism

Laura is a recent convert to Catholicism.  Laura has a very strong faith, and it is wonderful that she shares her faith with her listeners on her radio show.  Laura is friend’s with EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, and they both share time with their families and appear on each other’s shows.

Raymond Arroyo & Laura Ingraham

Raymond Arroyo & Laura Ingraham (photo Huffington Post)

Laura said she was very grateful of her experiences from living in Charlottesville, and attending the University of Virginia.  She said it gave her the skills and knowledge that has guided her well in life. It was an honor to listen to her talk tonight, and I join her in praying that we find leadership in America to help us all out of this mess.

LINKS

Laura Ingraham’s Website

The Federalist  Society

Burning Both Ends (adoption charity)

Great Blog:  SENATOR MARY L. LANDRIEU AND LAURA INGRAHAM UNITE IN BI-PARTISAN ADOPTION COALITION

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Fortnight for Freedom – DC

Fortnight for Freedom

 

 

 

 

 

The second annual Fortnight for Freedom concluded this July 4th to an enthusiastic and patriotic group of faithful gathered at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.  I was privileged to attend this special Mass with my parents, and my cousin, Monsignor Charles Pope, con-celebrating with 130 priests and bishops from around the nation.

Cardinal Wuerl of the Archdiocese was the celebrant, and offered a wonderful homily that addressed religious freedom from a historical, theological, and present day perspective of threats to religious liberty.  Catholics from all around the nation have been active in prayer and activities for religious freedom across the nation for the past two weeks.  Archbishop Lori of Baltimore also gave some excellent concluding remarks and encouraging all to be active year-round to be prayerful and active in public life for religious liberty.  The Mass concluded with everyone singing enthusiastically America the Beautiful.

July 4th Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

July 4th Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

Video:  A candlelight vigil at the US Capitol began the Fortnight for Freedom:

Many Catholics from across America signing and playing guitars and drums after the July 4th Mass

Many Catholics from across America signing and playing guitars and drums after the July 4th Mass

Video:  Archbishop Michael O. Jackels on restoring America’s Forgotten Values (Catholic News Service)

LINKS

USCCB website for Religious Liberty

Archbishop Lori’s homily to open Fortnight for Freedom June 21, 2013

Cardinal Wuerl’s Homily on July 4th, 2013

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One Million Bones & The Labyrinth

 

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.”

Thomas Merton

One Million Bones art exhibit on National Mall

One Million Bones art exhibit on National Mall June 8-10, 2013

ONE MILLION BONES

I was witness to an amazing piece of artwork and political statement addressing genocide on Washington, D.C.’s National Mall this past weekend.  Seeing the huge pile of shoes at the U.S. Holocaust Museum a few blocks away, was one of the most moving things I have seen about genocide until this weekend.   Seeing one million bones laid out helps put into perspective the horrors and loss of genocide.  Naomi Natale is the artist who started this project, and she can be seen in this TED-Global video about her inspiration and creativity in making this project come to reality:

One Million Bones, a project of the Art of Revolution, was developed over three years and started with 50,000 bones being made and laid out in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  The project grew and went to other cities like New Orleans and growing to a national campaign to culminate the work of many people.  These hand-made bones were made by people from all 50 states and from over 30 countries by people affected by genocide.  It also raises awareness of the ongoing genocide and mass atrocities in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Burma, and Somalia.  Congratulations to Naomi and the Art of Revolution for reaching their goal and shining light on this important issue.

Cellist playing beautiful and haunting music at the One Million Bones exhibit

Cellist playing beautiful and haunting music at the One Million Bones exhibit

 

 

THE LABRYINTH : The Testimony of Marian Kolodziej

Seeing these bones on the National Mall also brought to mind a DVD that I watched recently and highly recommend called The Labyrinth (2011).  It is a powerful documentary about a survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp.  His artwork drawings are a haunting and detailed remembrance of the horrors of the camp.  Marian also honors Maximilian Maria Kolbe,   a Polish Conventual Franciscan friar he knew briefly in the camp and is represented in his artwork.

Saint Maximillian Kolbe

History of Saint Maximillian Kolbe (martyr): On July 31, 1941, in reprisal for one prisoner’s escape, ten men were chosen to die. Father Kolbe offered himself in place of a young husband and father. And he was the last to die, enduring two weeks of starvation, thirst, and neglect. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II in 1982. (Catholic Online)

Below is a video clip of the documentary:

The Labyrinth Trailer from Jason Schmidt on Vimeo.

Marian Kolodziej was on one of the first transports to enter Auschwitz. He was given number 432. He survived and never spoke of his experience for 50 years. After a serious stroke in 1993, he began rehabilitation by doing pen and ink drawings depicting the experiences he and others endured in the concentration camp. These drawings, in their skeletal detail, are a gripping depiction of the pain, death, and horrors of the camp. While most of the drawings represent the memories of a young man’s hellish experiences in Auschwitz, some tell stories of small acts of kindness and dignity.

Marian’s story of survival, of persistence, of life before, during, and after Auschwitz are a testament to the human spirit. Marian’s drawings and art installations, which he called The Labyrinth, fill the large basement of a church near Auschwitz and draw visitors into the horrific reality of the holocaust.

“This is not an exhibition, nor art. These are not pictures. These are words locked in drawings…I propose a journey by way of this labyrinth marked by the experience of the fabric of death…It is a rendering of honor to all those who have vanished in ashes.”

Kołodziej

LINKS

One Million Bones Official Website

The Labryinth Documentary official website

Saint Maximillian Kolbe (SQPN) (patron saint of drug addicts, prisoners, and journalists)

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Premier of The Blood & The Rose Documentary

The Blood & The RoseI was very priveledged to see the premier of a wonderful documentary called The Blood and The Rose at The Warner Theater in Washington, D.C.   This event was a benefit for Catholic Charities of the Washington Archdiocese and originally cost $75 a ticket–beyond my means to pay.  But God’s grace intervened with a Facebook message from Fr. Leo Patalinghug who was a speaker at the event:  Fr. Leo posted “I just got word that thanks to a generous donor, you can now buy tickets for tomorrow’s event in DC for The Blood & The Rose for $15.31 at the door! There are two reasons that price is significant: first, because 1531 is the year that the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe took place, and second, now you have no excuse to miss out on what’s going to be a powerful and great Spiritual event! So if you’re in DC, I hope to see you tomorrow at the Warner Theatre!” Wow!  what a blessing, and was very excited to attend with my parents.

MC Raymond Arroyo

MC: Raymond Arroyo

The documentary is a must see movie that tells the story of Saint Juan Diego and the miracle of Our Lady of Guadalupe.   The film maker, Tim Watkins, dedicated himself to this project for seven years in telling this important message of Our Lady of Guadalupe and the history and science behind The Tilma.  It is amazing to see how science can not explain the existence of the image nor how The Tilma has lasted so long other than a miracle.

Director Tim Watkins

Director Tim Watkins

The movie website says about the movie:  “On December 9, 1531, the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to Juan Diego, an ordinary man of extraordinary faith. Juan Diego humbly embraced the call to serve as a Messenger Eagle. Today this apparition is known as “the Virgin of Guadalupe.” The beautiful miracle of that day is chronicled in this story that begins with Mary’s faith filled yes. This eternal struggle of good versus evil is the battle for our souls.”

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

Fr. Leo Patalinghug

Fr. Leo Patalinghug is an expert himself in Marian Theology, as he studied this subject at the Pontifical College in Rome.  I love the message he brought that we all have a belly-button and this is the reminder of our own mothers feeding us, as well as the spiritual food from Mother Mary.  Fr. Leo points to the fact that Our Lady of Guadalupe is the Patroness of the Americas & The New Evangelization, and very important message to follow the example of Mary.  Fr. Leo has also written a new book, Spicing Up Married Life, for his own ministry–Grace Before Meals.  I was very happy to meet Fr. Leo after the show where he signed his new book for my parents–celebrating their upcoming 50th Wedding Anniversary (ironically Fr. Leo dedicated his book to his parent’s 50th too!)

Fr. Leo with Dave & Ellie Clem

Fr. Leo with Dave & Ellie Clem

Please take a look at the preview of the documentary on the movie website below, and it should be coming out on DVD very soon.  It is 90 minutes of time that will deepen your faith in Christ through Our Lady of Guadalupe.  Review:  Two Thumbs Up!

LINKS

Official Website for The Blood & The Rose

Grace Before Meals

Previous Blog about Fr. Leo and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary

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40th March for Life

40th March for Life

40th March for Life

I was honored to attend my first March for Life on January 25th, 2013.  This year marked the 40th Anniversary of the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, and the 40th March for Life on Washington, D.C. started by Nellie Gray.  It is very sad to report that 55 million babies have been aborted since abortion was made legal in 1974.   It was interesting that the Supreme Court had a huge drapery over it for repairs (with image of the facade imprinted)–it seemed as though the justices were hiding behind a curtain?

NEWS COVERAGE

Media at March for Life

Despite there being over 500,000 people from every corner of America, it was dissappointing that main-stream media gave it so little coverage.  I overheard one of the Capitol Police officers saying this was the biggest march he has witnessed.  There was limited coverage by USA Today, The Washington Post, and NPR, and a very short piece by NBC News.  The best coverage of the March was with EWTN, where I saw Teresa Tomeo interviewing marchers.  When I marched up Capitol Hill to the Supreme Court, I expected to see more media, and very dissappointed to see only the hyper reporter from The Vortex (BAD Catholic media!).

SQPN GATHERING

SQPN Meet-up

Before the March for Life began, a fellow blogger–Billy Newton, organized a fun get together at the National Gallery of Art of Catholic Media producers and fans of SQPN (Star Quest Production Network).  It was a real honor to meet many great people involved with Catholic New Media including Dr. Paul Camarata (SaintCast), Patrick Denny (Verbum Domini), Channing Dale (This Catholic Life), and others.  Patrick brought his H2 recorder and we recorded a short podcast with Billy acting as the moderator.  The podcast for Catholic Weekend featured this recording with link below.  We were all very pleased to hear the exciting news from Channing that she was excepted into the Carmelite Order–she will make a fantastic sister–God Bless her, and I have a good feeling that she has found her vocation.

SCIENCE IS ON OUR SIDE!

Science and Abortion

There is still a long battle ahead for the Right To Life movement in America.  Recent polls show that 70% of Americans currently support a woman’s right to choose an abortion.  I have hope!  As science is on our side in showing the that life begins when sperm and egg unite:

  • Study of DNA now shows a COMPLETE human code is in place at the time of conception.
  • Fetuses now being saved as early as 20-weeks of life in the womb.
  • Myth that abortion is safe–more health risks now known by science.
  • Reports from people who survived attempted abortions and are now very grateful to be alive.
  • Science shows that fetuses feel pain.

I urge you to listen to a great podcast from The Catholic Laboratory, which helps explain many of the science findings behind abortion and its effects on body and mind of parents and children.  I think that science will help support our case to end legal abortions.

March for Life

WHAT IF?

  • What if we had 55 million more Americans now?
  • Who would have been a great scientist–were discoveries lost?
  • Who would be a great politician–would we have a different Congress that works?
  • Who would have helped with works of mercy–did we kill a saint?
  • With 55 million more taxpayers–would our US budget look better?

I guess we will not know the answers to these questions until we meet our maker.  I pray for an end to this most cruel crime against humanity.  It was very moving to see so many people marching in Washington representing men, women, children, and clergy from all over America (even the US Virgin Islands marched).  May Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of Americas) please help bring and end to abortion and a respect for all life from conception to natural death.

Young people praying to end abortion

 

Your comments are welcome!

Here is one of the best homilies for pro-life from last year’s Mass for Life at Verizon Center from Monsignor Charles Pope:

Beautiful video celebrating the miracle of life:

LINKS

March for Life (Official Website–just redesigned)

Catholic Laboratory Podcast – Abortion & Theology of the Body

Catholic Weekend Podcast – covering March for Life and SQPN Meet-up

Walk for Them - a community of daily walkers who commit to walk one mile a day, in prayer and solidarity, for a child who has been aborted that very day.

Washington Post March for Life Photo Essay

(Note: you can click on photos for larger images.)

 

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The Hermitage at Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land

The Hermitage at Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land

The Hermitage at Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land

I recently had the pleasure of spending one day and night as a hermit at the new Hermitage at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America.  It was a wonderful experience of tranquility, prayer, and refreshment.  The Hermitage was just completed as a cooperative effort between Catholic University of America architecture students and the monastery to build a place of peaceful retreat for a single person.

The HermitageThe Hermitage itself is what I would call a blend of Frank Lloyd Wright meets Thomas Merton’s cabin.  It is a beautiful modern building set in a mature hardwood forest behind the monastery.  The building is only 350 square feet, but offers all one needs to experience a modest and comfortable retreat.  The modern building is built with green construction standards using energy efficiency, but still offering beautiful windows, good heating and cooling.  The entire building is also handicapped accessible with thoughtful design in the kitchen and bathroom for wheelchair access.  There is a cool table that was designed by students and cut by computer design to be used to dining, study, and prayer.  The building faces East toward Jerusalem, and the side porch also faces East with beautiful views of the forest and fields behind the Monastery.  The monastery supplies linens and towels, and the kitchen is stocked with all the cooking supplies with microwave and cooktop.  They also had a nice assortment of coffee & tea.  People who stay are requested to bring their own food, but there is an organic grocery store nearby.

Monastery Chapel

Monastery Chapel

The other amazing place to frequent during your retreat is the St. Francis Chapel just footsteps from The Hermitage.  It is a chapel that you are given a key to enter and use as you please during your retreat–Wow your own private chapel.  It is a beautiful brick chapel, and Brother Sebastian reports that it was built sometime in the 1920′s.  There are about 42 acres of land behind the monastery that are beautiful grounds and trails filled with holy statues,  grottos, gardens, greenhouses, cemetery, solar panels, and beehives.  While I was there I had the pleasure of talking with the beekeeper as she was feeding the hives for the week with her homemade sugar cakes.  You are also given a key to a large iron gate to rejoin the public side of the monastery and visit the church and grounds.

Grounds behind the monastery

Grounds behind the monastery

The Monastery itself offers daily Mass and Confessions, that are a blessing to have with your retreat experience.  I was also honored to have a tour of the Monastery from Brother Thomas, who served many years in the Holy Land, and just celebrated his 80th birthday.  It is amazing to walk among all the holy sites that are represented in the Holy Land, as well as the beautiful artwork of this byzantine style church.  Please note you can click on images for a larger view.

 

 

Following is a video done at the dedication of the new Hermitage on September 17th:

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land is in need of donations to continue their important work of guarding and maintaining the Holy Land Sites.  The monastery also just launched their improved website.  The majority of the Friars’ work is in Israel, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon, helping with evangelization, education, research, and charity.  They have been appointed guardians of the Holy Land for the Roman Catholic Church, and have done so faithfully since 1342.  The Monastery in Washington, DC, is a base for the order, and offers the public daily tours, and well as Mass and Confession.  The Hermitage is the first one built, and three other unique designs have been designed by CUA architecture students, but await funding.  I pray for the continued support of their ministry and I pray for peace in the Holy Land, and especially right now for peace between Israel and Palestinians.

The Monastery was just named as a pilgrimage site for the Year of Faith, and if you come and attend Mass and Confession you are granted a plenary indulgence.  I highly recommend you come any time of year and you should put The Hermitage experience on your bucket list.  You can find out more about the monastery and hermitage in the links below.

LINKS

The Hermitage at the Franciscan Monastery website

The Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in America

My Previous Blog about The Franciscan Monastery in Washington, DC

Washington Post article by Michelle Boorstein about The Hermitage

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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

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Nuns on the Bus

Nuns on the Bus

 

 

 

I was invited by the Franciscan Action Network to come and welcome the Nuns on the Bus at the end of their journey in Washington, D.C.  I was pleased to join many people of many faiths and walks of life to greet these nuns who are helping to bring to light, the plight of many poor, disabled, and needy Americans across many parts of this great country.  The nuns were given a very warm welcome as they drove up Capitol Hill to offer speeches next to the US Supreme Court and across the street from the US Capitol.

Crowd welcomes the Nuns on The Bus Tour on Capitol Hill

Crowd welcomes the Nuns on The Bus Tour on Capitol Hill

 

Nuns on the Bus

Nuns on the Bus

The Nuns on a Bus traveled 2,700 miles to 31 cities in 9 states to highlight the work of the nuns across America, who work in programs that serve the poor and needy in social services, healthcare, and education.  The nuns were motivated to show the good work they do and to also show the threats to funding from the proposed Ryan Budget.

Route of Nuns on the Bus

Route of Nuns on the Bus

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is a new budget proposed by the DC Interfaith Council and the Nuns on the Bus is called The Faithful Budget.  It puts a priority on funding the poor, disabled, and elderly in the national budget debate.  The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops have called the Ryan Budget immoral and the nuns are also condemning the budget proposals and asking you to sign the petition for The Faithful Budget (links below).

Faithful Budget

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let's Grow A Faithful Budget

Let’s Grow A Faithful Budget

Following is an interview with Sister Simone Campbell on Comedy Central’s Colbert Report:

Comedy Central’s Colbert Report video with Sister Simone Campbell

Following is a Bill Moyer’s video about a Cleveland Soup Kitchen:

LINKS

Nuns on the Bus (official website)

The Faithful Budget 

How the Ryan Budget hurts Virginia

Washington Post Article about Nuns on the Bus Tour

Bill Moyers & Co. (blog & video of Nuns on the Bus tour)

Franciscan Action Network

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