Archive for the 'News' Category

An Observer From the Vatican

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Guy-Consolmagno-Vatican-ObservatoryJesuit brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, was recently awarded the Carl Sagan Medal for “outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist” by the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS) Division for Planetary Sciences. According to the Vatican Observatory website, he is the curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo. “His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system.”

Brother Guy received his undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. After leaving MIT, he joined the Peace Corps for two years. In 1993, he joined the Vatican Observatory.

“I once caused a stir in a church in Hawaii by announcing that I was ‘an observer from the Vatican,’” Said Brother Guy. “Indeed, I am. As it happens, I was in Hawaii to use the telescopes there, just as I also observe with the Vatican’s own telescope in Arizona. That is my job with the Vatican Observatory.”

Brother Guy, says the AAS, “occupies a unique position within our profession as a credible spokesperson for scientific honesty within the context of religious belief.”

Brother Guy himself says, “The God I believe in is not of the universe, but existed before the universe began; not a part of nature, but super-natural. If you believe in that kind of God, then there is room to ask how the rest of the world works, and room to wonder if it works by regular laws. We know from scripture that God is responsible for the universe, in a step-by- step manner. Genesis outlines a creation story that is fundamentally different from the Babylonian story in that rather than the physical universe being an accident, Genesis tells us that God deliberately willed it to exist.”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God;
all things were made through Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.



The Life and Death of a Communist

Monday, July 21st, 2014

jarulzewskiThose of us who lived through the Cold War, taking place for all the world to see in particular in suffering Poland, cannot forget the name Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski. He held various positions of power in the Communist government during the 1980′s including chief of state and president. He combated the pro-democracy movement Solidarity and declared martial law. Many people view him as a Polish traitor.

As a story in the National Catholic Register shows, even this man, who died in May and was reviled by his fellow countrymen, was not out of the reach of his Heavenly Father.

A little background….

In 1966, the General was such an ardent Communist that he refused to enter a Catholic Church to attend his own Mother’s funeral. Certainly, his great nemesis through these turbulent times was Pope St. John Paul II who believed that the Marist-educated General was deep down at least a nominal Catholic Pole not a atheistic puppet of Moscow.

Here is the ending. Just 13 days before the General’s death, he confessed his sins, received communion, and received the Last Rites of the Church. His funeral took place much to the surprise of the country in a Catholic Church.

Archbishop Jozef Michalik, past president of the Polish bishops’ conference, said, “It’s exceptionally difficult to evaluate this man. When a person crosses the threshold of eternity, we should remember only God knows the true state of his conscience.”

General Jarulzelski once said in a 1994 interview, “I am absolutely sure that the best opinion is expressed about anyone after his death. Because I am past 70, probably in the near future they will talk about me even better, when I will be in the cemetery.”

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Looking For Spiritual Renewal?

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

dscjpodiumRight now, the IRL is hosting the Vita Consecrata Institute, a summer program of  spiritual renewal and graduate-level studies on the theology of the consecrated life. One group of attendees who attended the first session came from the Disciples of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Christoval, Texas.

Sr. Magdalena, Sr. Mary Thomas and Sr. Elizabeth Ann took classes on the Theology and Spirituality of the New Evangelization and the Vows according to St. Thomas Aquinas. Sr. Elizabeth Ann was able to pray in front of the tomb of her patron, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, and the sisters had fun going kayaking in the Shenendoah river!

dscj kAYAKAs you can see from the pictures, it is not all classroom study! There are outings, a daily schedule of prayer and lifelong friendships developed with different communities from around the country and sometimes the world. The course of studies is designed for priests, religious and other consecrated persons who seek spiritual renewal and enrichment. You can take the courses for credit towards a Masters Degree or simply audit them.

The classes are held at Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia. For more information, visit our website.



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A Widow’s Walk

Friday, July 11th, 2014
chervin pic

Dr. Rhonda Chervin, PhD, MA

Here is something greatly needed and timely for our times. “A Widow’s Walk” conference specifically for women who seek encouragement, comfort and wisdom from the widow saints after the loss of a husband.

The presenters for the three-day event are Dr. Rhonda Chervin and Marti Armstrong. Dr. Chervin, along with Anne Lassiter, has a 4-Disk DVD out entitled “A Widow’s Walk With Christ” which you may have seen on EWTN.

During the Widow’s Walk Conference, there will be two 1-hour talks a day followed by group sharing and prayer. It will be held at the Home of the Family of Jacopa Association in Steubenville, Ohio, from August 12th-14th, 2014. The Family of Jacopa was founded by Kathleen Marshall, FJ, (Community Servant), and it is a Franciscan Community specially for widows and women over the age of 40.

The topics look wonderful: saints who were widows, Jesus as the Second Bridegroom, Mary as the exalted widow, Stations of the Cross for widows, witness stories of the presenters, and much more.

Some saints who come to mind who were widows are Sts. Jane de Chantal, Elizabeth Seton, Bridget of Sweden, Frances of Rome, Rita of Cascia, and, of course, the Blessed Vrigin Mary. Like Consecrated Virgins, Consecrated Widowhood is making a comeback around the world.

On her website, Dr. Chervin has a list of options for widows desiring to give themselves more fully to the Lord including the names of communities that are specifically for widows or accept widows as an older vocation, the status of a Rite for Consecrated Widows, etc.

Right now, there is no official, canonically recognized Rite for widows to be consecrated in the Latin Church. However, the Canons for the Eastern Catholic Churches do allow for the consecration of widows and widowers.

For reservations for “A Widow’s Walk,” please call (740)314-8455. Please advise them if you need overnight accommodations.

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Radical Joy Conference – Tampa

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

rad joyHere is an event that I wish every parish would sponsor or encourage: Radical Joy Expo – Religious Life Conference. It is an day-long meeting meant to introduce young people to religious life. As Pope Francis said, “No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the Joy brought by the Lord.”

Pope Francis has declared 2015 a year dedicated to consecrated life. This observance will be a distinct way for the Universal Church to thank religious for their witness and response to God’s call to radically follow Him in joy. It will also serve to promote vocations to this unique form of discipleship in the Church.

radical joyAll young people are invited to come together on this day, Saturday September 13th, so that they themselves can see that this radical witness of joy, joy that only Jesus can give, is still alive, well and making a big comeback! It is an opportunity for young people to talk face-to-face with sisters, brothers and priests.

Bring your school, bring your youth group, bring your family and friends. Don’t think that this invitation isn’t for you. Come, come see what God has in store specifically for you. The location is: Mary Help of Christians Center, 6400 East Chelsea Street, Tampa, FL, 33610. For more information visit the website or call  (813)626-6191.

“Consecrated life is a prophecy,” said the Holy Father. “Like birds, God ask us to fly the nest and to be sent to the frontiers of the world, by avoiding temptation to ‘domesticate’ our young people we help our church grow. This is the most concrete way of imitating the Lord”



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College of Mary Magdalen Collegiate Summer Program

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Magdalen_Oct2013_by_Lomanno_0205 (1)The College of Saint Mary Magdalen, an IRL Affiliate, has a wonderful summer program for college students. Held July 27 – August 9,  the cost is only $795.00.

The program gives young people a two-week experience of living on a Catholic college campus for study, prayer, and recreation.  Participants live in the College’s residence halls, study philosophy, theology, and music (with the option to study politics and literature), attend daily Mass, and enjoy sports, drama, and socials.  Several day-trips are planned for hiking in the White Mountains, swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, canoeing the Merrimack River, and spectating at the Quechee Gorge in Vermont.

The College of Saint Mary Magdalen’s Summer Programs are designed for students who have completed at least one year of high school.  Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors, and recent high school graduates are welcome to attend. Scholarships and financial aid are available.

The College of Saint Mary Magdalen is one of only 28 colleges in the U.S. to be named to the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College. The College offers a Great Books education rooted in the Catholic intellectual and spiritual traditions.  Their fidelity to the Magisterium of the Church is a source of joy for their students, their parents, and their entire collegiate community.  As they say on their website, they are joyfully Catholic!
For more information, visit their website or call: (603)456-2656



The study of philosophy does not mean to learn what others have thought but to learn what is the truth of things. -St. Thomas Aquinas


Vocational Discernment at Mater Redemptoris

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

mater redOne of the biggest obstacles a young woman faces as she discerns a religious vocation is finding wise spiritual guidance along the way. The other  factor preventing a flourishing of vocations is the sad truth that most young girls have never seen much less talked to a sister.

Fortunately, in the IRL’s backyard there is a wonderful apostolate whose mission is to assist young women to discern a call to the religious life. Called Mater Redemptoris, the goal of all of the programs is to promote understanding of religious life in the Church and to assist girls and women to find God’s particular call for their lives. It is a joint project with the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George and the Diocese but it is open to women outside the diocese.

They offer long-term live-in opportunities, spiritual mentoring, retreats, and vocational talks. They just completed a vocational pilgrimage where women and their chaperones visited Catholic shrines and religious communities in the Eastern U.S. (It was so popular there was a waiting list!)

For high school girls, there are summer immersion programs (June 22-28 & July 6-12) where they will get a closer look at religious life.

For girls aged 9 – 13, a retreat (July 1-2) gives them an opportunity to interact with the Sisters and to begin learning about religious life.

Private retreats are available for adult women.

What a fabulous resource for young women! Check out their website and blog!


Fr. Hardon 100th Birthday Memorial Mass

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

hardonAll are invited to a Memorial Mass and Reception to celebrate the 100th birthday of Servant of God, Fr. John A. Hardon, SJ, and the 67th anniversary of his ordination.Yes, he was ordained on his birthday. It seems he was ordained at the same time of day that he was born into the world, according to his Mother!

The event will take place at the Colombiere Retreat Center in Clarkston, Michigan on June 18th, 2014, at 7:00 pm.

Fr. Hardon, who died in 2000, packed an enormous amount of work into his long life. He never wasted a minute. If he wasn’t writing or teaching or administering the sacraments, he was praying.

In the name of God, I beg you, with all my being, to pray.

Pray every day to our Lord. Pray for priests.

Pray that priests may be priests not only in name, but in reality.

What is a real priest? A real priest is one who loves Jesus crucified.

A real priest is one who loves nothing more — and I mean every syllable — who loves nothing more than to suffer out of love for Jesus, who ordained him.

A real priest is a living martyr. Pray for priests.


And the Winner Is…A Sister?

Friday, June 6th, 2014

sr christinaUrsuline Sister Cristina Scuccia was the landslide winner on the Italian show The Voice which features singers ala American Idol I guess!! Click here to hear some of the songs which sent her to the winner’s circle.

After winning the top prize, Sister Cristina led the startled crowd in prayer, a crowd that included her atheist voice coach, rapper J-Ax who warned her that he and the other “bad-boy” coach on stage “will burst into flames.”

Sister Cristina’s version of the Alicia Keys’ song: “No One,” had 51 million views! Pretty amazing for a woman in a habit!


A Modern Pillar-Hermit

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

pillar monk

This is a photo of a stylite’s hermitage atop a great stone pillar. A stylite is a person who lives atop a pillar, enduring the solitude and natural elements for love of God. The most famous of them was St. Simeon Stylites who lived in what is now Syria in the 5th C. He lived atop a pillar for over 35 years!

st simeon

This is an image of the pillar-hermit St. Simeon Stylite from a 10th C manuscript. Apparently, his pillar reached the height of 50 feet. He died in 459.


St. Simeon’s pillar became encased in the center of an octagonal courtyard and complex of buildings. St. Simeon’s pillar can still be seen in the center of the courtyard, although it is now less than 7 feet high. St. Simeon’s relics were mainly taken to Antioch. Pray that the current civil war does not destroy this ancient memorial.


maxime climbers

The hermitage in the above photos, located in the country of Georgia, is a 30-foot rock outcrop called Katskhi that was used by Christians until the 15th century. In the 1940′s climbers discovered the bones of the last  inhabitant and and the remains of a chapel.


Looking at the pillar too was Maxime Qavtaradze, a “bad boy” who sold drugs and ended up in jail. “I used to drink with friends in the hills around here and look up at this place, where land met sky. We knew the monks had lived up there before and I felt great respect for them.” In 1993 Maxime professed monastic vows and began his new life atop the pillar. A little community has formed around him, including priests and troubled people seeking guidance.

maxime base camp

You can order the documentary, Upon this Rock, about Maxim’s life and hermitage.  Proceeds will support the restoration. The Huffington Post also has a great story on Maxime and stunning photos.

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