Archive for the 'News' Category

Catholic Nuns Top Billboard Charts Again!

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

ephesusFor the second year in a row, the Benedictines of Mary, Queen of Apostles, topped Billboard’s list of best-selling traditional classical albums of 2014. Actucally, their two albums, Lent at Ephesus and Angels and Saints at Ephesus were the first- and second-best selling traditional classical albums of 2014.

Mater Eucharistiae by the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, in Ann Arbor, came in 11th. This album features 15 selections of Sacred Music, all dedicated to Jesus through Mary.

This certainly shows that true beauty never goes out of style. Click below to listen to a sample of the song Duo Seraphim from Angels and Saints at Ephesus.

“He who sings, prays twice” is a quote sometimes attributed to St. Augustine (whether of Hippo or Canterbury is not clear to me) but in any case, the sisters singing here are certainly raising their heavenly voices to God!

 

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Vocations in Catholic Ireland

Friday, December 19th, 2014

The news from Catholic Ireland has not been all that positive lately. Therefore, it is wonderful to see a vocations video, celebrating the Year of Consecrated Life, that highlights the men and women who have said yes to God in that country. A country that sent so many missionaries to the United States and elsewhere.

According tothe website VocationsIreland.net, in the early 1960’s, there were around 30,000 men and women religious living in 2,000 communities. By 2013, the number was 8,500 men and women religious living in 800 communities. The communities attracting vocations in recent years have been the Dominicans, the Redemptoristines (sisters), the Benedictines at Glenstal, the Little Sisters of the Poor, the Cistercians, the Franciscans, the Mercy Sisters, the Pallotines, the Passionists, the Carmelites, the Poor Clares, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, the Sisters of St Clare, the Jesuits the Franciscan Missionaries of Mary and the Dominican Sisters.

If you are interested in any of the above communities, there is a clickable list of all the congregations in Ireland here.

One of the featured communities are the Redemptoristines featured below. God bless them all!

redemp srs

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Cardinal Burke & the Knights of Malta

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014
Fra. Matthew with Pope Francis

Fra. Matthew with Pope Francis

Raymond Cardinal Burke was recently appointed as Patron of the Sovereign Order of the Knights of Malta. Cardinal Burke is a member of the IRL’s Episcopal Advisory Board and will be the keynote speaker at the IRL’s National Meeting on Friday, April 10, 2015.

The Knights of Malta sounds like something medieval and not at all pertinent for today. This, I found is absolutely not true! They perform admiral and wide-ranging charitable activities and have a world-wide membership of 13,000 as well as 80,000 volunteers, among them 20,000 medical personnel. They are unique in being a religious order comprised of lay people.

Cardinal Burke will be assisting Fra. Matthew Festing, Prince and Grand Master of the “Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta.” Fra. Matthew was elected for life in 2008. He is a descendent of Blessed Adrian Fortescue, a Knight of Malta who was martyred in the 16th century.

According to the Knights of Malta website: The Order of Malta has been a religious Order since 1113, the year it was recognized by Pope Paschal II. As a religious Order, it is linked to the Holy See, but at the same time it is independent as a sovereign subject of international law. (They issue their own passports for example. Fascinating!) In this respect the religious character of the Order coexists with its full sovereignty. The Grand Master is at the same time head of a sovereign State and head of a religious Order. In this second capacity the Holy Roman Church gives him the rank of Cardinal.

The order has two missions: defensio fidei (the defense of the Faith) and obsequium pauperum (care for the poor). Wherever they settled, they built hospitals, hence they are also known as the Knights Hospitallers. Today, they strive to ease the suffering of the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, shantytowns, etc. and try to bring Christian charity to the isolated, victims of persecution and refugees regardless of race or religious faith.

maltese crossFor example, they “operate” a maternity hospital in Bethlehem and a hospital in Haiti. In France the Order of Malta maintains nine medical centers for the disabled. They supply humanitarian disaster relief, for example, in 2008 after the cyclone in Myanmar. I am most familiar with their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes where they accompany thousands of Malades (French for “the sick”) and their caregivers to the shrine. These activities are just the tip of the iceberg of what the Knights do around the world.

The eight points of the Maltese cross symbolize the eight obligations of the knights: truth, faith, repentance, humility, justice, mercy, sincerity and endurance of persecution.

This is all so interesting that we will have to delve into this subject further!

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St. Nicholas & Santa Claus: The Real Story

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

santa52aFr. Joseph Marquis, a Byzantine Cat6holic priest, is a frequent visitor to our IRL offices who loves to give us updates on his St. Nicholas ministry. The goal is to make people realize that Santa Claus is not a mythical figure who brings us presents, but rather a real man named St. Nicholas who shows us the real meaning of Christmas.

Father is the founder and executive director of the St. Nicholas Institute. He has over 40 years of professional Santa Claus and St. Nicholas experience, is an Emmy Award winning Santa, and member of the Santa Claus Hall of Fame – Class of 2011, Santa Claus, Indiana. All this is true!!

As their website says: The St. Nicholas Institute is open to all Santas (whether traditionally bearded or real bearded) of all Christian faiths (Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Protestant). Their program is uniquely designed for cross-training of individuals to effectively portray Santa Claus and St. Nicholas for a wide variety of venues (both secular and religious). Formation also encourages a prayerful openness to the santavery same Spirit that animated the life and actions of the original “jolly old St. Nicholas”, whose heart was made glad by the Babe born in Bethlehem.

Looking for a good Christmas gift for grandchildren, children or people confused about the origins of Santa Claus? Father has a new DVD out called Saint to Santa: How Saint Nicholas Became Santa Claus. It is available from Pauline Books and Media.

O blessed Nicholas,
show compassion to me who fall down praying to thee;
and enlighten the eyes of my soul, O wise one,
that I may clearly behold the Light-Giver and Compassionate One. Amen.

Mercedarian FREE Seven Day Course

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

merc logoThe Mercedarian Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament are offering a free 7-day course in Mercedarian Spirituality. Participants in this email course will learn how to discern their vocation and discover more about the Eucharistic-Marian charism of the Mercedarian Sisters.

What are the spiritual values of the Mercedarian sisters?

  • The constant giving of our lives as Jesus does in the Eucharist.
  • Example and model of Christ the Redeemer
  • A life centered on the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother
  • Daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, Meditation, and Rosary
  • Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction
  • Faithful to the Magisterium of the Church

The course which is open to everyone consists of an email delivered to your inbox each day for seven days. Catholic women open to religious life may find this course particularly helpful, as it offers valuable insights into religious discernment. The emails will focus on both the specific charisms of the Mercedarian Sisters as well as religious life in general. The purpose of this free course is to promote the beautiful calling to religious life, to foster vocations, and to provide a glimpse into the Mercedarian Spirituality.

Sign up today!!

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Shakespeare and the Blessed Virgin Mary

Monday, December 8th, 2014

shakespeareOne of the most interesting news items from last week was the announcement that a First Folio of William Shakespeare’s plays had been discovered in a library in Saint-Omer, in northern France. It was missing its frontispiece and a portrait of Shakespeare, hence it was thought to be an 18th century edition not one from 1623.

The First Folio was compiled by Shakespeare’s friends seven years after his death and is the only source of a number of his plays including Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and As You Like It. Only 233 copies are known to exist.

Saint-Omer was a place of refuge for English Catholics escaping persecution in England. A Jesuit school, founded in 1593 after Catholic schools were outlawed in England, thrived there until it was expelled from France in 1762. In 1794, it moved to Stonyhurst in England, where it remains today. Stonyhurst has become a warehouse of precious Catholic artifacts including the rope that bound St. Edmund Campion at the time of his execution and a crucifix belonging to St. Thomas More. The First Folio was left behind when other books were sent to Stonyhurst because it was not recognized for what it was.

What does this have to do with the Immaculate Conception? During Mass this morning, the priest said that a First Folio is the most important edition of an author’s works. It is an authentic and true representation. The Blessed Mother is like a First Folio, a perfect example of what God wants us to be. We should all strive to be like First Folios, loving the Blessed Mother’s Son with our whole hearts and allowing that love to infuse all that we do and all that we are.

A blessed Feast of the Immaculate Conception to all.

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Wake Up the World!

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

wake up!Pope Francis has called upon consecrated women and men to “wake up the world!” And last weekend the 2015 Year of Consecrated Life officially began.

Religious cannot shake and wake up the world unless there are actually men and women religious. One religious can make a difference! Look at the lives of Sts. Francis, Dominic, Benedict, Mother Cabrini, Don Bosco, Mother Teresa, etc…

Another great foundress was St. Jeanne Jugan, the foundress of the Little Sisters of the Poor in 19th century France. The Little Sisters have issued a new vocation video called Love Serves in celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life. It is free and viewable online here. They want our help in reaching young women who might make a great Little Sister of the Poor in serving the elderly poor.

lspIn a recent poll, more than one in four young Catholics reported that they had never been encouraged to consider becoming a religious sister, brother or priest. Those who were invited to consider a religious vocation said it was a family member, a friend, a teacher or youth minister who broached the subject with them. It could be you!

Please share the vocation video, LOVE SERVES, with a young woman you might know. It may make an everlasting difference!

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Pro Orantibus Day

Friday, November 21st, 2014

ProOrantibusLogo2014Today is Pro Orantibus Day, the Memorial of the Presentation of Mary in the Temple, when Catholics throughout the world are encouraged to honor the cloistered and monastic life.

In 1953 Pope Pius XII instituted Pro Orantibus Day, also known as World Day of Cloistered life, to recognize those men and women who so generously give of themselves to this unique vocation and who each day, from the various convents and monasteries spread throughout the world, offer their prayers unceasingly to build up the Kingdom. Pope John Paul II later expanded its celebration and encouraged the faithful to support this special vocation in any way possible.

“The primary purpose of Pro Orantibus Day (“For Those Who Pray”) is to support—both spiritually and materially— the gift of the cloistered and monastic life,” said Rev. Thomas Nelson, O. Praem., National Director of the Institute on Religious Life. And as Pope Francis reminds us, “it is a good opportunity to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and silent work.”

Please pray this day for our cloistered brothers and sisters, especially for the gift of holy and persevering vocations. Visit our website cloisteredlife.com for regular updates on our commuitities throughout the year!

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Relic of the Assassination Attempt on Pope St. John Paul II

Saturday, November 15th, 2014

Pope JP II VestOn May 13, 1981, Anna Stanghellini, was privileged to be a nurse in attendance at the “Agostino Gemelli” Hospital where Pope John Paul II was taken for emergency surgery after the assassination attempt on his life. To save time, his blood-soaked undershirt was cut away and dropped to the floor. Anna picked it up, carefully wrapped it and kept it in her home for the next 19 years.

In 2000, she gave this relic to the Provincial House of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent of Paul with whom she had once been in the novitiate. The Vatican had doubts about the authenticity, so Sister Beatrice, the former Provincial, reluctantly loaned it to them for examination. Happily, it was soon returned and today is in a side chapel of the Provincial House on via Francesco Albergotti.

Blood stains are visible on the shirt, as are three bullet holes and the initials “JP” on the collar. Documents attesting to its authenticity are also on view.

Sister Amelia, the Superior of the “Regina Mundi” House (a home for the elderly and sick religious), says: “It’s a gift and a responsibility. It’s a gift because we feel honored to be the custodians of such a precious and significant relic of the Holy Father; a responsibility because we have made ourselves available to receive all the people who come here to pray.”

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Fr. Augustus Tolton: Help Bring His Story to Life!

Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Fr. Augustus Tolton

Fr. Augustus Tolton

Several weeks ago, I wrote about Stephen Cox, the Benedictine postulant who died just 3 days before he would have been officially received into the novitiate. What I didn’t know about at the time was the impact that the movie Therese had upon his vocation.

Stephen was fourteen years ago when he saw the movie and it sparked his desire to offer his life to God as the Little Flower did. He applied to several religious communities that had some connection to St. Therese but they did not accept his application because he had epilepsy. Finally, the Benedictine monks at Mount Angel Abbey in Oregon accepted his application to enter religious life. He was so happy to know that part of the Therese movie was filmed at the abbey. It was confirmation that this was where he was meant to be.

A short time before he died, Stephen joked: “When we’re novices, they have to bury us in the Abbey cemetery.” He was indeed buried in the cemetery, clad forever in the habit of a Benedictine novice.

All of this interesting information came from the latest newsletter from Saint Luke Productions, the producers of Therese. They are trying to raise the funds for a new live production on the life of Fr. Augustus Tolton, one that they hope will also impact souls ala Therese.

Fr. Tolton (1854-1897) was the first diocesan African-American priest and one who suffered unbelievably as an African-American Catholic. He studied for the priesthood in Rome because no American seminary would accept him. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Quincy, in southern Illinois, and later came to Chicago to start a parish for black Catholics.

His cause for canonization is underway. The Archdiocese of Chicago brought the final diocesan phase of the investigation into the life and virtues of Father Tolton to a close just over a month ago. (See ToltonCanonization.org for up-to-date information.)

Bishop Joseph Perry said, ““Father Tolton’s story is one of suffering service. Through his experiences of racial negation by a society that would separate black and white by force of the law and lawless custom, (Father) Tolton found the love of God, found his own vocation and ultimately has received his reward from God as a pioneer figure of Christian faith in action, indiscriminate love of neighbor and pastoral charity despite the bigotry that was thrown at him. The record of his life is absent (of) any show of retaliation toward anyone or anything.”

If you would like to help Saint Luke Productions bring this extraordinary drama to the world, please consider giving them a gift. It may help one soul, like Br. Stephen Fox, find his or her vocation, one that will carry them into eternity.

 

 

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