Fr. Barron comments on Christmas

This video commentary on Christmas is particularly insightful. Hope you have a chance to view it this Christmas Season. Merry Christmas !

Fr. Barron comments on What you believe makes a difference

The Pope in Assisi: "spirituality, key to peace"

For peace, believers show God anew to humanity

Meeting for Peace in Assisi

Today marks the 25th anniversary of the 'Spirit of Assisi' gathering for prayer and dialogue to bring about peace and justice in the world.  In addition to representatives of the religions of the  world, nonbelievers also were invited. The day of Assisi took the form of a symbolic "courtyard of the Gentiles".

To avoid the criticism of reletavism or syncretism no common prayer was said.   Instead, the participants each took to a private room for some 90 minutes of meditation and reflection according to their respective traditions. In a ZENIT interview an editor from the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore, explained, "interpretations of syncretism in '86 missed the pope's point".

The title of today's gathering was  "Pilgims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace".  Here's a link to today's address given by Pope Benedict XVI.  The event was recorded and is available for viewing.

Coverage and Commentary:
L'Osservatore Romano:  God in History
CNS: Pope prays Assisi pilgimage will foster dialogue, peace
CNS: Among Assisi participants, a sense of deeper crisis in modern society
Whispers in the Loggia: At Assisi, the peace train rides again

The Saint of Urakami: Takashi Nagai

Some members of the fraternity are familiar with the story of Takashi Nagai.  I only learned of him this year and I regard him (along with his wife Midori) as one of the greatest Catholic figures of the 20th century.  As I noted in an earlier post his statue is one of eight (called The Beatitudes) adorning the entrance to the Fr. Solanus Casey Center in Detroit Michigan.  His cause is currently up for canonization.  The following is a two part podcast telling the remarkable story of Tagashi Nagai, a doctor, a Catholic, and a survivor of the atomic bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki.

If you're not familiar with the story of Takashi Nagai you don't want to miss this message.  Even if you are familiar you'll probably want to revisit this remarkable tale told anew.  The links to the show notes contain more information including a preview of a new film being produced.

The Saint of Urakami Part I    #268: In the first part of a two part episode, we are introduced to Takashi Nagai and follow his journey from atheism and materialism into Catholicism as he seeks answers to the deepest questions of his heart. (31 minutes)

Link to the show notes for part I

The Saint of Urakami Part II   #269: In the second of a two part episode, Takashi Nagai uses his faith to find meaning his suffering after the atomic bombing of Nagasaki and uses that faith to inspire hope for others. (36 minutes)

Link to the show notes for part II

The two podcasts were produced by Fr. Seraphim Breshoner, TOR. He is professor at Franciscan University Steubenville and has produced over 250 podcasts with a general theme of 'Catholic history and theology from a Franciscan perspective'. The title of his weekly show is called Catholic Under the Hood.


Your Thoughts on the Retreat?

It's all about fraternity...  A few people were wondering how to communicate the spirit of our retreat experience.  Why not take a moment to jot down a brief comment on something you would like to share about this weekend.  Do it while its fresh in your mind.  Insert it in the comment box or send me an email.  I'd like to include some brief remarks in a future newsletter.  Pace e bene!

Fr. Barron comments on September 11, 2001: Anger and Forgiveness

I was certainly struck by the liturgical readings for 9/11/2011 at mass today.  How could they not be providential for this significant 10th anniversary of the terror attacks.  Fr. Barron's reflection on the meaning of forgiveness (what it is and what it's not) is at the heart of redemption and the deepest of conversion experiences.  I hope you take a few minutes to view this video clip.

Source: Time: 10:56 minutes

A Virtual Tour of the Holy Land

A Virtual Tour of the Holy Land
Prayerful Scenes & Music
Watch in Full Screen
Source: Franciscan Media Center
Time: 4:04 minutes

Fr. Barron comments on World Youth Day

Fr. Barron makes insightful comments on how the world views this event.

World Over - Dion DiMucci, his life and music - Raymond Arroyo with Dion...

Sorry, but I can resist sharing this. If you're a fan of Dion's than you've heard some of this story before. This was on EWTN recently. Raymond Arroyo from the World Over Live does the interview. It's a great story.

Somalis Crowd Kenya Camps in Search of Food | Catholic Relief Services

If you'd like to help via Catholic Relief Services (CRS) use the link below.

Somalis Crowd Kenya Camps in Search of Food Catholic Relief Services

Catholic Relief Services will get aid to many of the tens of thousands of famished Somalis who are pouring across the border into Kenya. Refugee camps near the town of Dabaab are overflowing with people desperately searching for food during the drought-led food crisis that is plaguing East Africa (Read further...)

CRS joins local partners in drastically increasing emergency aid, such as f

Portiuncula Indulgence


Tradition has it that while praying for ‘forgiveness of the sins of mankind’ St. Francis received a vision of our Lord and his mother, in which the Lord asked, “What do you wish me to do to help poor sinners?.” Francis replied that he wished to obtain full pardon for all who visited the church of the Portciuncula and made a good confession. Our Lord and his mother were pleased to grant such a request and immediately the saint marched off to the Pope and begged for the coveted indulgence. Read the story here.

This indulgence is listed in the 1968 post-conciliar document The Enchiridion of Indulgences (Section 65: Visit to the Parochial Church). This would include The Cathedral Church of the Diocese; a Franciscan Church, or a church where Franciscan third order members meet.

The ususal conditions apply; sacramental confession, holy communion, and prayer for the Holy Father (Our Father and the Apostles Creed). The Apostolic Constitution on Indulgences is contained in the Enchiridion and is the current authoritative source on the subject of indulgences. (Download pdf here)

Fr. Barron comments on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist

A sublime message...

Solanus Casey Center

...a Capuchin Franciscan Ministry

Detroit Michigan may be many hours away but don't let that deter you from visiting the website and learning more about the center that is devoted to the spirit of Venerable Solanus Casey.  You can take video tours of the center, hear his recorded voice, view photos and video meditations.  Browse through a cornucopia of links to Franciscan resources.

At the threshold of the St. Bonaventure Chapel pilgrims encounter the modest tomb of Venerable Solanus Casey. 

In the main foyer are eight bronze statues called the Beatitudes of Christ. 

"Life-size bronze figures of eight contemporary people represent the Beatitudes of Christ. Each of these individuals has shown through their life and ministry how to live Christianity in action. The eight individuals chosen include Blessed Mother Theresa, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Monsignor Clement Kern of Detroit, Jean Donovan, Archbishop Oscar Romero, and Takashi Nagai who endured the atomic explosion in Nagasaki."

On their blog they describe the 'Christ Doors' :

"As the visitor enters the Solanus Casey Center she/he is greeted by the stunning glass doors known as the Christ Doors. The entrance foyer which looks somewhat like a tomb is filled with radiant light as the glass doors disperse the sunshine dancing throughout the Center’s main rotundaThe Doors beckon the visitor to come in, to go deeper into this holy place. The Doors have an almost heavenly feel to them as one stands in the cold, stone entrance way. The Doors entice the visitor to leave the tomb-like structure and be plunged into the Light."

Br. Solanus Casey, porter and doorkeeper would be pleased.

Monastic Musings Too

We've mentioned different spiritual families within our Church.  Here's a taste of Benedictine life.  One of the blogs I follow is called Monastic Musings Too.  The author is Sr. Edith Bogue, a Benedictine Sister, and sociology teacher who writes about whatever interests her.  Needless to say, I find her thoughts interesting and so I'm introducing her to you.  Recently she presented on the future of monastic life at a Benedictine conference and was gracious enough to post her slides online.  I've embeded them below.  Hopefully you'll give her blog a try.

Source: Monastic Musings Too

A Vision of Peace

It helps now and then to step back
and take the long view.
The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts,
it is even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction
of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work.
Nothing we do is complete,
which is another way of saying
that the kingdom always lies beyond us.
No statement says all that could be said.
No prayer fully expresses our faith.
No confession brings perfection,
no pastoral visit brings wholeness.
No program accomplishes the Church’s mission.
No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

That is what we are about.
We plant the seeds that one day will grow.
We water seeds already planted,
knowing that they hold future promise.
We lay foundations that will need further development.
We provide yeast that produces effects
far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything,
and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning,
a step along the way,
an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter
and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
but that is the difference between
the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders,
ministers not messiahs.
We are prophets of a future not our own. Amen.

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Source: ( Peacebuilding: A Caritas Training Manual, Pg.4)

Communication Media: A Reflection

Media plays an enormous role in forming culture, says the Holy Father. This video is an invitation to reflect about it more critically; and to influence it by our prayers and right actions; and finally, to participate in it more responsibly. When we hear a reflection such as this we should prayerfully ask..."Is this a message that is directed toward us (as a fraternity); does God have a desire for us to become involved?".

After all, "Secular Franciscans, together with all people of good will, are called to build a more fraternal and evangelical world so that the kingdom of God may be brought about more effectively." (Article 10)

We might also consider the following: "Let them individually and collectively be in the forefront in promoting justice by the testimony of their human lives and their courageous initiatives. Especially in the field of public life, they should make definite choices in harmony with their faith."(Article 11)

Comments are welcome.


Terra Santa News (en) 27/05/2011

Contents of this video...
A wonder of nature, and of the biblical story. The Dead Sea is in the race to be elected among the new wonders of the world.
The richness of the mosaics of Palestine, a legacy that crosses and unites eras, cultures and different religions. An exhibition at the Al Quds University of Jerusalem.
The society of Saint Yve celebrates its 20 years. The Catholic Centre for Human Rights provides assistance - including legal assistance - to all the people who live in difficult conditions in Israel and the territories.
The Lady of the Wall who builds bridges. Among the many murals that cover the separation barrier, for a few months now there is also this beautiful icon of Mary... designed 200 meters from the checkpoint in Bethlehem, where - for 7 years - every Friday afternoon, one prays to ask for the gift of peace.
100 Terra Santa News! Our "thank you"... and your precious help!

Thoughts on St. Francis as Peacemaker

Last month in Candidate formation during a discussion of Francis we paused to considered his role as peacemaker.  I began to praise a book I just finished called The Saint and the Sultan.  Since then I decided to write a post which is half reflection and half review.  Its located on my blog Perfect Joy.  I concluded with the following thought:

"The practice of gospel peacemaking as St. Francis shows is not tied to consensus thinking nor does it require the approval of others. It is willing to go it alone with its only requirement being a purified heart and faithful recognition of the divine seed in the other. The other is never evaluated in terms of their moral state or worthiness; love and pardon are extended unconditionally. Even the prospect of human failure is unimportant; indeed it is a distraction, because the work of bringing gospel love and forgiveness is life-giving to the bearer and efficacious to the world, even when it is scorned."
For the full article click here:
Peace and all good.

The Death of Bin Laden: A Franciscan Perspective

Here's a letter that's worth our attention and respect. It's from the newsletter of Holy Name Province in New York.   Fr. Mychal Judge, OFM a member of the province and FDNY Chaplain, was listed as the 1st victim of the 9/11 attack.  The photo below is an iconic image of the removal of his body from the tragic scene.

Preface to the Letter:  Since the night of May 1, when the death of Osama bin Laden was announced, Americans have experienced and expressed a variety of reactions including relief, elation, fear and hope.

In a letter distributed to Holy Name Province friars this morning, the HNP leadership recommends calm reflection on this event in light of a Christian faith.

Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, and the members of the Provincial Council encourage remembering the Word of God: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles, or the Lord will see it and be displeased.”
The visit of St. Francis of Assisi to sultan Malik al-Kamil at a time of war reminds Franciscans to work for reconciliation.

Brothers and sisters:

The electrifying news that Osama bin Laden has been killed has gripped the attention of our nation and the world, occasioning powerful and conflicting emotions and reactions. It also invites us, as Franciscans, to stand back and reflect prayerfully on what God might be inviting us to in the wake of this death.

Like so many, perhaps our first response, on a very human level, was a sense of relief. The sinister attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are still deeply embedded in our national and personal consciousness. These images surface not only anger but also fear and unease at the precarious nature of life. On Sept. 11, we lost one of our own brothers, Mychal Judge, OFM; many people we serve also suffered the deaths of relatives and friends in the attacks.

Since 2001, we have felt the emptiness of the loss of loved ones, as well as the darkness of fear that 9/11 opened in all of our lives: Will we be attacked again? Osama bin Laden in many ways became the embodiment of our fears. The announcement of his death, then, may have produced an understandable dimension of cathartic release — a sense, or at least hope, that things may be better. Such a release may initially express itself in joy. But, if we are honest with ourselves as Christians, we quickly feel quite uncomfortable with a joy that comes from the death of another human being — even one we call our enemy. Isn’t this discomfort the sting of conscience reminding us that as Gospel people, as Easter people in this season of hope, we are called by God to something more?  
We are reminded in the Word of God: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles; or the LORD will see it and be displeased.” (Proverbs 24:17-18a) So, if we are not to rejoice at this event, what is the invitation of God?  (Read the full letter here...)

Update: Caritas Relief in Japan

Nearly two months ago Japan was ravaged by earthquake and tsunami.  Recovery has been slow but some of you provided donations for relief through Caritas International (as suggested in our newsletter and this blog). The following is a report of how they are responding to the great suffering.

10,000 People Given Aid After Japan's Earthquake

By Caritas Japan staff
Caritas Japan staff members and volunteers have been providing food and other aid to 10,000 survivors following the 11 March earthquake and tsunami. The earthquake was largest to have hit Japan on record and the tsunami caused destruction as far as 10 km inland. The quake caused a serious accident and a 20 km evacuation zone at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The overall cost could exceed $300 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster ever. [Read the full article...]


Message to SFO from Pope John Paul II

To download original document click here: John Paul II Address to SFO_2002

Fr. Barron comments on Why It Matters That Our Democracy Trusts in God

Some things we take for granted as Americans, even to the point of our peril. The truths we consider to be 'self evident' were considered fallacies by some of the greatest minds. Kudos to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Rosary on Good Friday

Suzie brought up the idea of praying the Rosary on Good Friday between noon and 3 pm. Certainly the Sorrowful Mysteries will aid us in pondering the Passion of Our Lord. This will also unite us with Our Sorrowful Mother as we pray through her at the foot of the cross for peace and reconciliation.

Image: Iraqi_Christians_Pray_Rosary.jpg

Terra Santa News (en) 15/04/2011

Contents in this weeks video...

Jerusalem prepares to relive the most important moment of the year, one for which seven hundred thousand visitors have been awaiting. At the vigil of Easter, the Custos of the Holy Land calls on us to "embrace a hope which is also a certainty ..."

The High Priest Caiphas and the crucifixion nails. A sensational discovery - or a matter of fantasy?

In the foosteps of Jesus to Golgotha ... Centuries of history, devotion and faith on the Way of the Cross, along the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.

Akathistos ... the most ancient liturgy in honour of the Virgin. It is sung in the Oriental Churches on the last Friday of Lent. According to tradition, it is sung standing up, and is a tradition very dear to the Byzantine, Orthodox and Catholic Faithful.

Jerusalem, where everyone was born ... a brief consideration, of the Holy City, with the biblicist Friar Frédéric Manns.

Every Christian is invited to call the Holy Land "his own" ... and again this year the Holy Land asks for your help. Please don't forget the Good Friday Collection !

Secular Franciscan Order...come and see..

This is worth sharing with anyone who might be interested in a SFO vocation.

Tomb of beloved St. Francis of Assisi restored

This story may have been the most widely circulated AP release on April 9th.  I found the same words verbatum in nearly every news outlet.  It's amazing how St. Francis is universally referred to as 'beloved'.  

Read the account here...

The tomb of St Francis of Assisi in the crypt in the lower church of Assisi's Basilica, Italy

(Re)evangelizing Lost Generations

At our last fraternity meeting a senior member was looking for a way to respond to older grandchildren who were searching for answers about the faith they were baptized into, but had never come to know. This is a very common situation. Word on Fire ministries provides numerous videos and other media to engage our secular culture. That's really the heart and purpose of the ministry itself. This video is from the 'Faith Clips' section of Word on Fire TV.

Source: Word On Fire

Legistis et Cognoscitis (Read and Understand)

Have you ever read some document relating to our Faith and stumbled over an untranslated latin phrase with no idea of its meaning?  If so, then you'll appreciate 'Google translate'.  It's not perfect and one can easily see the difficulty in translating an ancient language.  Nevertheless, it's a great aid and gives some reasonable sense of what's being said. 

(St. Jerome - Patron of Translators)
Quid Sancte Hieronyme dicit?


Japanese Bishops to Set Up Center in Sendai

If you'd like to donate to Japan's disaster relief consider sending funds via Catholic Relief Services, an affiliate of Caritas International. To donate use the link below.

(Source: Catholic News Service via The Catholic Review Online)

ROME – Japanese church officials are setting up an emergency center to coordinate humanitarian aid operations in Sendai, the area most devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The center will be managed by Caritas Japan and will draw on the resources of numerous Catholic volunteers who have come forward in the wake of the disaster, the Vatican missionary news agency Fides reported.

Japan’s bishops, meeting in Sendai March 16, decided to establish the center and initiate additional relief efforts under the supervision of Caritas... (read full story)

To donate click:

a minor friar: Theses on Choosing Lenten Observances

Here's a practical list of thoughts to consider when choosing a penance for lent. Posted by Br. Charles, OFM Cap on his blog 'a friar minor'. Click below to read.

a minor friar: Theses on Choosing Lenten Observances:
"I wrote these up a couple of Lents ago, but I think they are still helpful in our discernment of how we may enter into this 'joyful season.'..."

Listening To Silence

Listening To Silence
The noise of silence can be deafening!
All that chatter arising from within
We choose to stifle
As so much "din".

Do we drown ourselves
In mountainous
So as not to hear the Voice within?

The silence of listening will bring us…
into the heart that needs to be rent
Of clutter,
Chaos and disorder…
Of self-seeking and fear.

Are we afraid of what we worship?
Is there fear in letting go;
Of emptying,
to find the idols
letting them crumble into dust?

Love is there, awaiting the Opening!
Will Love find the welcome?
In welcoming, will the Silence
Be born once again?

Jean Mahan, sfo
(Reprinted with permission)

A Woman For Our Time

The following is an update and trailer on the film project regarding St. Elizabeth of Hungary. I originally found this on our internaitonal fraternity website (CIOFS) and have supported the project. Below the video is a message from the producer Lori Pieper, SFO. Also, for those interested, there are various formation documents on St. Elizabeth in the footer section of this blog.

Dear Friends of St. Elizabeth,

I have good news in this update: On Dec 13 we recorded the voice actors
for the film – the ones who spoke the words of St. Elizabeth, Ludwig, the
testifying handmaids, Master Conrad and other historical figures. On Feb
9, after a delay for Christmas vacation and to search for just the right
person, we recorded the final narration track with a wonderful voice
actress. Earlier this month, I also received a CD with the very beautiful
music composed and recorded by Peter Vamos. My brother is still finishing
his part – but very soon all the major work for the film will be done.

I had no idea there would be this many delays, and once again I must
apologize to everyone, especially all the people who donated – but rest
assured, all of your contributions have been put to good use. So far, no
date has been set for the Quebec and New York premieres, but I will keep
you posted. I hope also to redo one of our trailers with the Vamos music,
but until then, you can enjoy the earlier versions[inserted above].

More of the bills for video and photo rights and stock shots are coming
due. Perhaps the biggest item is the $600 we owe to the Vatican Television
Center for the rights to a video of John Paul II speaking about St.
Elizabeth in Hungary. And we still have a music clearance of $200 to deal
with. (All the other music has been donated). So once again, I’d like to
urge people who are interested in the film to make a donation. You can
donate here, using your Paypal account or credit or debit card.

Or you can send a check or money order to Lori Pieper, Tau Cross Books and Media, 30 W. 190th St., Apt. 6N, Bronx, NY 10468. If you donate $10 or
more, you will get a copy of the DVD.
Please be sure to include your name
and mailing address. As soon as the film is actually completed, I will
start taking pre-orders, but you will have to pay full price, so donating
is still a bargain!

Please keep reading these updates to learn of future showings. If you are
in the New York area and are interested in having a showing in your
church, school, SFO fraternity, etc. -- anywhere that has a TV or screen
and DVD player, please let me know, and I will supply you with a DVD and
try to be on hand for it. The final cut will be around 1 hr 45 min.
Because of the need for funds to complete the film, I want to either
charge admission or take up a collection for these showings.

Remember, if there is anyone you think might be interested in the
documentary, please forward them this e-mail. And if anyone wants to be on
the list for updates, or to be taken off, they just need to send an e-mail
to me at the above address.

Thanks you for your patience, especially all those who have donated so
generously. May God, St. Francis and St. Elizabeth bless you.

Lori Pieper, SFO

Terra Santa News (en) - 18/02/2011

More inspiring  news...includes a segment where the leader of the Focolare Movement makes these remarks...

"I think the principal point is to consider the other to be a real brother, so that the person other than myself is nevertheless a member of my family, simply because we have the same Father. So starting from this we can meet and there is something that unites us, namely the dignity which comes from being children of God."

"I believe (and this is fundamental) ; that courtesy and education are insufficient for true dialogue. I think we have to begin by recognizing the other as more important than oneself, so that in standing before the other with the aim of serving without expecting anything in return, we will be ready to give something."
...[Maria Voce, President of Focolare]
This is real gospel purity. Imagine if this spirit were put into wider practice, beginning with our own dialogues...

Come, Pray the Rosary allows anyone worldwide to join together in praying the Rosary online.  Pray individually or join a group and 'synchonize' with a perpetual Rosary.  On your first visit be sure to click the 'About Us' button to see how it all works.  I find it helpful to hear the Rosary recited as group prayer.  The images and sound help keep me focused.  Also nice is knowing other people are present with you.  Finally, there's a feature which allows you to enter your personal intentions (if you desire) and view the intentions of others.
(The image above is not a link)

Catholicism Project

Awesome and exciting...scheduled for release this fall. A ten part series about Catholicism. Finally, the story of our Faith told from an inside perspective. You can't miss this trailer.  The project was conceived by Fr. Robert Barron of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries. (About Fr. Barron)

Source: Word on Fire Catholic Ministries

Terra Santa News

Are you tired of the dreadful daily news on cable TV? How about a weekly news program with inspirational messages about lives of faith in the Holy Land. In 2000 John Paul II reminded the world that the Friars Minor are the custodians of the Holy Places by will of the Universal Church. This mission is known as 'The Custody of the Holy Land'.

The production quality of this programming rivals that of any cable network. All with no commercials and distributed by the Franciscan Media Center. I'm putting a link to the channel on the sidebar. For more about the FMC Project click here.

This weeks episode of Terra Santa News is below. What's next, the Pope's YouTube Channel?

Apostleship of Prayer

The following is one of two videos produced to promote the Holy Father's prayer intention for this month. Here's the link to the Apostleship of Prayer website for more details. The link has also been added to the sidebar.

The mission of the Apostleship of Prayer is to encourage Christians to make a daily offering of themselves to the Lord for the coming of God's Kingdom and for the Holy Father's monthly intentions. This habit of prayer encourages a Eucharistic spirituality of solidarity with the Body of Christ and loving service to others. Nourishing this spiritual program is the love of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Shrinking and Growing at the Same Time

An article from a local Bishop designate Christopher Coyne...

Catholic Identity and the New Evangelization

Last year Trinity College in Hartford, CT released a study of a nationwide survey, based on 54,000 telephone interviews, in which people were asked to identify their religious affiliation. The results are interesting for us Catholics, to say the least. While the total number of Roman Catholics within the United States has remained basically the same since 1990 – about one quarter of the population – the number of people in New England who identify themselves as Roman Catholic has dropped considerably. The study, found that the six-state region is now 36 percent Catholic, down from 50 percent in 1990. According to an article in the Boston Globe, “In Massachusetts, the decline is particularly striking – in 1990, Catholics made up a majority of the state, with 54 percent of the residents, but in 2008, the Catholic population was 39 percent. At the same time, the percentage of the state’s residents who say they have no religious affiliation rose sharply, from 8 percent to 22 percent.” As such, the vast majority of new Catholics are located in the southern and southwestern parts of the United States and are mainly new immigrants from Central and South America. We are seeing then a major shift in the Catholic population from the northeast – north central states and cities of Boston, New York, and Chicago consisting of Catholics of European descent – Irish, Italian, Polish, etc. – to a Church whose population centers are now in Texas, Florida, and California, markedly Hispanic in language and culture. The study did not ask people why they ceased identifying themselves as Catholics or why they had dropped any religious affiliation whatsoever. It simply collected data. Of course, that leaves a bit of an information vacuum for those of us who are still Catholic to consider. So, allow me to offer a few thoughts on the matter, not just in terms of the “why?” but also the “how?” – How do we respond to this in a positive way? How do we pick-up the challenge that this offers us. Read More>>>>

Evangelization Sunday

Last Sunday was dubbed 'Evangelization Sunday' in the archdiocese of Boston.  I don't know if this is a national celebration, but I was taken by their commitment and resolve to do something about declining mass attendance.  This is a very well done video and I would love to see the Chuch use more of the media to present its face.

2011 Catholics Come Home, Boston - ENGLISH from bostoncatholic on Vimeo.

Tom Bello, National Minister Prayer Request

Sunday, January 9, 2011
Beloved National Family,

As we gather in churches, families and fraternities this holy last Sunday of the Christmas Season, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Arizona, for the souls of those who have been slain including Federal Judge John Roll, who had just been to daily Mass; nine-year-old Christina Taylor Green, born on September 11, 2001 and who had recently made her first Holy Communion; Gabe Zimmerman and three others; let us pray for U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords and perhaps 17 others wounded, as well as all of us who are traumatized and depressed by this horrible act.

The sheriff of Pima County Arizona has been quoted in today's newspaper saying, "The anger, the hatred, the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous, and unfortunately Arizona has become sort of the capital. We have become the mecca for prejudice and bigotry." Having recently participated in our National Chapter in Arizona with Sue Simeone and all the good people of her Region, including our NAFRA Peace Award winner Brother David Buer, OFM, I cannot believe the sheriff's words to be true, but let us all pray in solidarity with the good people of Arizona that Arizona and all of us in our beloved United States will be people of love and people of peace.

We can never give in to the forces of evil; rather, evil must be overcome by good through the grace of God, the sacrifice of God's Son and the working of the Holy Spirit. Let us never cease our prayers, never lose faith, never surrender hope, never run away from God's command to love. Let us all continue as good Franciscans to be instruments of God's Peace.

With love and peace,

Tom Bello, SFO - National Minister
Secular Franciscan Order The United States of America

US Bishops Invite Novena for Haiti

One Year Post-Earthquake Beginning January 12

The USCCB is inviting Catholics to start a nine-day novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe on the anniversary date, next Wednesday.(
"We invite you and your group to pray and walk for nine days with other Catholics across the country using the Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas. Start praying it on the evening of the anniversary, January 12..."

Novena prayers and further resources available here:(USCCB - Haiti Earthquake)