Music Opens Minds and Hearts

 "I am happy to observe that it is music that can open minds and hearts to the spiritual dimension and lead people to raise their eyes to heaven, to open themselves to absolute Goodness and Beauty which have their ultimate source in God. Likewise, the festive nature of song and music are a constant invitation for believers, and for all men and women of good will, to work so that humankind has a future rich in hope. Furthermore, ... the undertaking not 'to play alone', but to ensure that the various 'colours' of the orchestra - each maintaining its own characteristics - fuse together; the shared search for the best expression; all this is an excellent exercise, not only artistically and professionally, but also in overall human terms". Benedict XVI

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Live Streaming Pontifical Mission Meeting

Chicago (Agenzia Fides) – As directors, coordinators and staff of diocesan Pontifical Mission Societies offices come together for a national meeting in the Chicago Archdiocese April 27 to 29, they can be joined by those in this “one family in mission” unable to journey there – and by those interested in the mission ad gentes worldwide. This is what Fides learned from a press release issued by the National Office of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in the USA. The PMS will live stream presentations during their annual national meeting in Chicago through a special website:, thus hoping to open their doors to all those dedicated to the missions nationwide and worldwide, even if they may not be able to physically participate on site.

“We truly are ‘one family in mission,’ and this is a concrete way to show that,” says Monsignor John E. Kozar, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States. “We invite all to be with us, in solidarity and prayer, as we focus on our mandate to support the local mission churches as they help the poor and suffering of the Developing World come to experience the love and ‘Good News’ of Jesus.”

Using live streaming video takes the use of technology for this particular gathering a step beyond what was done at the 2009 national meeting of the Pontifical Mission Societies. At that meeting in St. Louis, videos were made of presentations; these videos and blog commentary were added during the three-days of presentations. That will be done as well during this year’s Chicago meeting, but the live streaming allows viewers to see presentations from start to finish, right as they are happening. (AR) (Agenzia Fides 25/04/2010)

PMS Meeting in Chicago

Epic Evangelization

Evangelizing Young Adults on an E.P.I.C. Scale
Handout by John Boucher with Dennis Mahaney
Dennis Mahaney, Office of Parish Life, Diocese of Buffalo, writes, “St. Paul lived large. He traveled extensively, spoke multiple languages, and lived an adventurous life. He paid attention to people wherever he went…. Paul also engaged people using the technologies of the day to paint a vibrant picture of faith.” He had a knack for listening to God’s Word with one ear and God’s world with the other, and then bringing the two together. He served a God-sized purpose, with an approach that was EPIC in scale. If Facebook would have been around, he would have had a multitude of friends from many different countries. Download this handout.

For Your Vocation Website
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Bishops’ Secretariat of Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations is initiating a new website on April 25 to be a resource for both laity and clergy in the promotion of vocations. The launch date is both the World Day of Prayer for Vocations and Good Shepherd Sunday.

In response to Pope Benedict XVI’s 2010 Theme for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Witness Awakens Vocations, the site also hosts videos of priests and religious men and women giving witness to their vocations, as well as testimonies from family members. Read the Pope's Message here:

Witness and Mission: National Catholic Education Conference

Witness and mission at the heart of Catechetical Gathering co-sponsored by Pontifical Mission Societies

Minneapolis (Agenzia Fides) – “Never underestimate the power of your own witness to our faith in Jesus,” said Monsignor John E. Kozar, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies (PMS) in the United States. His message was from his keynote presentation at Catechetical Leadership Day, April 7, a part of the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA)/National Association of Parish Catechetical Directors (NPCD) annual convention, also sponsored by the PMS of the USA. That meeting, held this year in Minneapolis, Minnesota, brought together more than 8,000 Catholic educators, parish religious education directors, catechists, and others engaged in formation. The National Office of the PMS in the USA, which sent a note to Fides on the recent event, recalled that in his address, Monsignor Kozar pointed to the critical role of the personal “faithful witness” of those gathered and spoke, too, of his encounters with such witnesses in the Missions. “In my travels, I meet those who lead others to this experience of our Lord and teach them about our Catholic faith,” he said. “But even more than a source of information about the faith, these mission catechists are ‘faithful witnesses’ who inspire and teach by the example of their lives.”

Monsignor Kozar also described the life’s witness of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, former National Director of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. “Archbishop Sheen taught us so well and faithfully about the preeminence of Christ in all that we do,” he said. He spoke of Archbishop Sheen’s fidelity to a daily Holy Hour before the Blessed Sacrament.

Above all, Monsignor Kozar offered words of encouragement to these faith formators. “You are heroic in your efforts, despite the challenges and difficulties,” he said. “You are true missionaries.”

At the conclusion of Monsignor Kozar’s address, Monica Yehle, editor of MISSION magazine in the United States, spoke about the “witness of the moment.” “Every missionary knows that every moment counts...Missionaries know that the Lord lives in every moment, awaiting our encounter and our embrace,” she said. “And we need to be in that moment, with our faith in Him and our love for our neighbor.”

There is continuing collaboration between the national office and the national Catholic formation organizations in the United States. Diana Dudoit Raiche, Executive Director of the Department of Religious Education of the NCEA, commented: “We are delighted to be partnering with the Pontifical Mission Societies on these important initiatives on behalf of the Church.” (AR) (Agenzia Fides 16/4/2010)

Holy See Press Office concerning Sexual Abuse Stormy Waters


VATICAN CITY, 9 APR 2010 (VIS) - Given below is a text entitled "Following Holy Week, Holding Our Course", written by Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. and published today on the website of Vatican Radio.

"The debate concerning sexual abuse, and not only that committed by the clergy, continues with news items and comments of various kinds. How can we sail through these stormy waters while maintaining a secure course and responding to the evangelical motto 'Duc in altum - Put out into the deep'?

In the first place, by continuing to seek truth, and peace for the victims. One of the most striking things is that today so many inner wounds are coming to light, wounds that also date to many years (sometimes decades) ago, but evidently still open, Many victims do not seek financial compensation but inner assistance, a judgement on their painful individual experiences. There is something that we have yet to fully understand; perhaps we need a more profound experience of events that have had such a negative impact on the lives of individuals, of the Church and of society. One example of this, at the collective level, is the hatred and violence of conflicts between peoples which are, as we see, so difficult to overcome in true reconciliation. Abuse opens wounds at a deep inner level. For this reason, certain episcopates were right when they courageously resumed developing ways and places in which victims could express themselves freely, listening to them without taking it for granted that the problem had already been faced and overcome by the workshops established sometime ago. For this reason also, other episcopates and individual bishops were right to intervene paternally, showing spiritual, liturgical and human concern for victims. It seems certain that the number of new accusations of abuse is falling, as is happening in the United States, but for many people the road to profound healing is only now beginning, and for others it has yet to start. In the context of this concern for victims, the Pope has written of his readiness to hold new meetings with then, thus sharing in the journey of the entire ecclesial community. But this journey, in order to achieve profound effects, must take place in respect for people and the search for peace.

Alongside concern for victims we must continue to implement, decisively and truthfully, the correct procedures for the canonical judgement of the guilty, and for collaborating with the civil authorities in matters concerning their judicial and penal competencies, taking the specific norms and situations of the various countries into account. Only in this way can we hope effectively to rebuild a climate of justice and complete trust in the ecclesiastical institution. It has happened that a number of leaders of communities and institutions, through inexperience or unpreparedness, have not had a ready understanding of the protocols and criteria for intervention which could have helped them intervene decisively even when this was very difficult or painful for them, also because they were often surprised by the accusations. But, while civil law intervenes through general norms, canon law must take account of the specific moral gravity of an abuse of the trust placed in persons who hold positions of responsibility within the ecclesial community, and of the flagrant contradiction with the conduct they should show. In this sense, transparency and rigour are urgent requirements if the Church is to bear witness to wise and just government.

The formation and selection of candidates for the priesthood, and more generally of the staff of educational and pastoral institutions, is the basis for an effective prevention of the risk of future abuses. Achieving a healthy maturity of the personality, also from a sexual point of view, has always been a difficult challenge, but today it is particularly so, although the best psychological and medical knowledge is of great help in spiritual and moral formation. It has been observed that the greatest frequency of abuses coincided with the most intense period of the 'sexual revolution' of past decades. Formation must take account of this context and of the more general context of secularisation. In the final analysis, this means rediscovering and reaffirming the sense and importance of sexuality, chastity and emotional relationships in today's world, and doing so in concrete, not just verbal or abstract, terms. What a source of disorder and suffering their violation or undervaluation can be! As the Pope observed in his Letter to Irish Catholics, a Christian priestly life today can respond to the requirements of its vocation only by truly nourishing itself at the wellspring of faith and friendship with Christ.

People who love truth and the objective evaluation of problems will know where to seek and find information for a more overall comprehension of the problem of paedophilia and the sexual abuse of minors in our time, in different countries, understanding its range and pervasiveness. Thus they will be able to achieve a better understanding of the degree to which the Catholic Church shares problems that are not only her own, to what extent they have particular gravity for her and require specific interventions,and, finally, the extent to which the experience the Church is going through in this field may also be useful for other institutions or for society as a whole. In this context, we truly feel that the communications media have not yet worked sufficiently, especially in countries in which the Church has a stronger presence and in which she is more easily subject to criticism. Yet, documents such as the national US report on the mistreatment of children deserve to be better known in order to understand what fields require urgent social intervention, and the proportions of the problem. In the U.S.A. in 2008 alone, 62,000 people were identified as having committed acts of abuse against minors, while the proportion of Catholic priests was so small as not to be taken into consideration as a group.

The protection of minors and young people is, then, an immense and unlimited field, which goes well beyond the specific problem concerning certain members of the clergy. People who sensitively, generously and attentively dedicate their efforts to this problem deserve gratitude, respect and encouragement from everyone, especially from the ecclesial and civil authorities. Theirs is an essential contribution for the serenity and credibility of the education and formation of young people, both inside and outside the Church. The Pope rightly expressed words of great appreciation for them in his Letter to Irish Catholics, though naturally with a view to a vaster horizon.

Finally, Pope Benedict XVI, a coherent guide along the path of rigour and truth, merits all respect and support, testimony of which is reaching him from all parts of the Church. He is a pastor well capable of facing - with great rectitude and confidence - this difficult time in which there is no lack of criticism and unfounded insinuations. It must be said that he is a Pope who has spoken a lot about the Truth of God and about respect for truth; and he has become a credible witness of this. We accompany him, learning from him the constancy necessary to grow in truth and transparency, continuing to open our horizons to the serious problems of the world and responding patiently to the slow and gradual release of partial or presumed 'revelations' which seek to undermined his credibility, and that of other institutions or individuals of the Church.

This patient and solid love of truth is necessary, in the Church, in the society in which we live, in communicating and in writing, if we wish to serve rather than confuse our fellow men and women".

Know the voice of Jesus through transmission of the Gospel

"Over these days the Church is celebrating the mystery of the Resurrection and experiencing the great joy that arises from the good news of Christ's triumph over evil and death. A joy that lasts not just for the Easter Octave but stretches over fifty days until Pentecost".

"Christ's Easter is the supreme and insuperable act of God's power. It is an absolutely extraordinary event, the most beautiful and mature fruit of the 'mystery of God'. ... Yet it is also a real historical fact, witnessed and documented. It is the event upon which all our faith rests. It is the central point in which we believe and the principal reason for which we believe".

"All our faith rests on the constant and faithful transmission of the 'good news'" that Christ is risen, said the Holy Father. This, he explained, "requires the work of enthusiastic and courageous witnesses. Each disciple of Christ, each one of us, is called to be a witness. This is the precise, demanding and stimulating command of the risen Lord".

Like the Apostles, we too "are certain that the Lord, today as yesterday, works with His witnesses. This is a fact we can recognise whenever we see the seeds of a true and lasting peace germinate, wherever the commitment and example of Christians and of men and women of good will is animated by respect for justice, patient dialogue, convinced respect for others, disinterestedness, and individual and community sacrifice. Unfortunately, we also see much suffering, violence and misunderstanding in the world. The celebration of the Paschal Mystery ... is an appropriate moment to rediscover and profess ... our trust in the risen Lord, Who accompanies the witnesses of His word, working prodigies with them.

"We will truly and fully become witnesses of the risen Christ when we allow the prodigy of His love to transpire in us", the Holy Father added; "when in our words, and even more in our deeds - in full coherence with the Gospel - it is possible to recognise the voice and hand of Jesus Himself".
And we will be witnesses of the Lord "only on the basis of, and with constant reference to, the experience of Easter", said the Pope. "In this personal encounter with the Risen One lies the unshakeable foundation and the central issue of our faith, the fresh and eternal wellspring of our hope, the ardent dynamism of our charity. Thus will our own Christian lives fully coincide with the announcement: 'Christ the Lord is truly risen". Benedict XVI

Easter Blessings!

Happy Easter!

Deep joy in our Risen Savior who lived and loved, suffered and died, went into the tomb, rose to new life, descended into hell and ascended into heaven to show us that God is found in all places and in all circumstance of our daily life.

Heavenly Father, grant that as you raised our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, from death, so may we too know the joy of eternal life. Thank you for the glories of Easter and for the promise of resurrection on this joyous morning. Thank you for the love that you have shown us in the immeasurable gift of your Son. May we draw closer to him, and be able to extend your love to others.

Good Friday Psalm Prayers

We enter into the mystery of anguish and suffering, the pain of our sisters and brothers in countries at war, in areas of natural disaster, those who are sick, who are in prison, those who are homeless and seek shelter, those who have lost jobs, who are hungry, who suffer from rejection and loneliness. Let us bring our intentions silently to the foot of the cross. We release our fear of entering into this suffering that reveals the true face of Jesus.

Psalm 2

How can we understand that the One who is dying on the cross, in poverty and rejection – the One who keeps trusting in spite of rejection, is indeed blessed by God? Aren’t we scandalized by the experience of failure? there is a deep and intimate unity between the cross and resurrection. Jesus makes all things new.

Psalm 22

Jesus welcomes everything that is broken. If we give him our weakness he will transform it into a source of life. All the competence in the world will never heal all the world’s anguish, mend all those who are broken, We remain close to them, like Mary, learning how to offer it to God with her, in union with Jesus, to give life to the world.

Psalm 38

Those who are weak and broken are a sacrament rendering Jesus present. It is the great mystery of our faith that we have been saved by a condemned man and we have been healed by his wounds. With Mary we put aside our anger and disappointment, our bitterness and fear. With her at the foot of the cross we reach out toward Jesus and say “I trust in You.”
Cf Jean Vanier