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Visitation of Vatican liturgy office could lead to liturgical reform

Signs of the Times: Although charged with overseeing liturgy for the church, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments has done little to support badly needed liturgical reform.

Major Catholic funders and power brokers spearhead voter suppression efforts

Conservative Catholic philanthropists and pro-life leaders are key players behind efforts that could obstruct the right to vote for economically marginalized populations and racial minorities for years to come.

Links: Catholic social teaching origins, voting laws, corporate taxes

Distinctly Catholic: Msgr. John Strynkowski on where Catholic social teaching comes from; Supreme Court predictability; global minimum corporate tax proposal

COVID-19 and Holy Week stretch us again, for the better

From Where I Stand: COVID-19 lockdowns didn't deprive us of anything in the realm of faith. Instead, they are simply requiring us to dig deeper for spirituality ourselves — which is what we have always been meant to do.

Will Catholics come back post-pandemic?

NCR Connections: As I talk to friends, family and colleagues about what parish life will look like after coronavirus, a consensus is emerging that "they're not coming back" — or at least not in the numbers before the pandemic.

Fri 16 April

Friday of the 2nd week of EastertideOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Bernadette Soubirous (1844 - 1879)) She was born in 1844 to a destitute family in Lourdes, in France. On 11 February 1858 she went down to the river Gave with her sister and a friend, to look for firewood and bones. There she received the first of a series of visions of the Mother of God which led to Lourdes becoming a place of pilgrimage and healing. In 1866 she became a nun at Nevers, where she died on 16 April 1879.It is a rule of the Church that saints are to be celebrated for what they are and what they do – to serve as examples of heroic virtue for us all – and not merely for what happens to them. There is no way that we can all go off and have visions of Our Lady, and the world would be a madhouse if we tried. So what of Bernadette? What heroic virtue has she that we should imitate? There are two: suffering, and humility. Bernadette was seriously ill with asthma all her life and she died young; but she never let illness be an excuse for anything – how many times do we, feeling a little unwell, use that as an excuse for being bad-tempered or simply not doing what we ought? To move away from Bernadette for a moment: imagine that you are a poor working-class boy with little education who happens to be good at kicking a ball about. Within a few years you find yourself earning more, annually, than your father earned in his entire lifetime. You receive attention, adulation, status – all that you could possibly desire. People emulate you. They hang on your every word. How would you feel? How would you act?Next, imagine that you are a poor girl – not even working-class, because your father hardly ever has any work – poor in a way that we can hardly conceive of – unintelligent and uneducated, and suddenly something happens to you. Overnight you are famous. People come in crowds to see you (sometimes the police have to control them). Everyone treats you with respect and admiration. They hang on your every word and ask you, over and over, questions about even the tiniest detail of your experience. They press coins into your family’s hands. You shut yourself up in a convent far from home, but even there you are constantly visited by bishops and other eminent persons who just want a quick look at you.Wouldn’t that turn your head? Just a little? Wouldn’t you think that there must be something about you that made you worth seeing? However tiny that something was?Here is Bernadette’s response, in conversation with one of the nuns:“What do you do with a broom?”“Why, sweep with it, of course.”“And then?”“Put it back in its place.”“Yes. And so for me. Our Lady used me. They have put me in my corner. I am happy there, and stay there.”Saint Bernadette Soubirous is patron saint of the sick, and rightly so. But if there is to be a patron saint of celebrities and footballers, Bernadette would be a wise choice for that task too.(Note: St Bernadette’s feast is celebrated on 16 April by most of the world but on 18 February in France. Some people called “Bernadette” celebrate their name-day on 11 February, which is the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes and the date of the first vision).(Saint Magnus of Orkney, Martyr)

Thu 15 April

Thursday of the 2nd week of EastertideOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass

Wed 14 April

Wednesday of the 2nd week of EastertideOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(Blessed Lucien Botovasoa (1908-1947)) Lucien Botovasoa was born in 1908 in Vohipeno, a small village in the Diocese of Farafangana, on the south-eastern coast of Madagascar, more than one thousand kilometres from the nation’s capital. His parents were poor farmers, like many others in this region, always struggling with weather-related risks.They followed the traditional religion but were open-minded. When the villagers discovered the Christian faith, many converted and asked for baptism. Among them was Lucien, baptized at the age of 13 on Holy Saturday, April 15, 1922. His parents converted to the Christian faith much later. Lucien was confirmed the following year, April 2, 1923.Lucien studied in Ambzontany Fianarantsoa, at Saint Joseph College, for four years. After he obtained a teacher’s diploma, he returned to Vohipeno as teacher and assistant director of the parish school. Even then, he still had the desire to read and continue to learn everything. He was a wonderful educator and an exceptional, competent, conscientious, and zealous teacher, explaining all the school subjects to his students with clarity and kindness.But he was also a Christian teacher and always concerned himself with the religious education of children, to whom he taught catechism both during school hours and after classes. Every evening, after school, he read the stories of the saints to those who wanted to hear them.On October 10, 1930, Lucien married Suzanne Soazana. The couple had eight children, of whom only five survived. Lucien loved his children, educated them, and taught them to pray. But he also spent a great deal of time taking care of the children of others, visiting the sick, teaching in the evening, leading various groups to learn the catechism. He spent much time at church, playing the harmonium and conducting the choir, not only during Sunday Mass, but also weekdays at the early morning six o’clock Mass.Around 1940, looking for a book on the life of a married saint to be taken as a model, Lucien discovered the Franciscan Third Order (since 1978, called the Secular Franciscan Order) and studied the Rule. With Marguerite Kembarakala, who had formed him to the faith, he established a first community of brothers in Vohipeno.The rule was demanding, and Lucien applied it to the letter. Lucien Botovasoa began to excel in piety and poverty. Every night he got up several times to pray kneeling at the foot of the bed, then he went to church at six for an hour of meditation before the tabernacle.In October 1945 and then in June 1946, political elections were held in Madagascar. The two political parties wanted Lucien Botovasoa as their candidate. But Lucien categorically refused their invitation, insisting, “Your politics are nourished by lies and can only end in blood.” Sunday, March 30, 1947, Palm Sunday, Lucien’s father sent Lucien and his brother into the forest. The two took refuge there as insurgents attacked the city.The fighting lasted until Wednesday. The massacres carried out by the political party known as the Parti des déshérités de Madagascar resulted in a bloody Holy Week. The result was a total massacre, with eighteen churches and five schools burned. Naturally, on Easter, it was not possible to celebrate the Eucharist in the parish church.On the Second Sunday of Easter, Lucien returned to the city after having taken his family to safety in the forest. Here he succeeded in bringing all the refugees together in a common prayer, in which Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims participated. Lucien commented on the Gospel, urging everyone to revive their faith and to have the courage to face martyrdom in the event that it was necessary. He spoke and led the song with intense joy.On April 16, 1947, King Tsimihono, the local leader of the Malagasy Democratic Renewal Movement (MDRM), summoned everyone to eliminate all the party’s enemies from the city, including Lucien. On Thursday, April 17, the king offered a key position to Lucien Botovasoa, inviting him to become the secretary of the MDRM. Meanwhile Lucien had communicated to his wife that they would condemn him. Suzanne wanted him to hide, but Lucien refused and, taking a picture of St. Francis from the wall, said, “He will guide me.”After a quiet lunch with his family and some prayer, Lucien replied to those who had come to arrest him without the slightest hesitation, “I am ready.” He was taken without the least resistance. He knew he would die and when they called him, he came forward. Sitting at the king’s right hand, in the place of honour, he said aloud, “I know you are going to kill me, and I cannot fight it. If my life can save others, do not hesitate to kill me. The only thing I ask of you is not to touch my brothers.” If he had accepted the role as MDRM secretary, he would have saved his life. But he said, “You kill, you burn the churches, you forbid prayer, you let the crucifixes be trampled, and you destroy the sacred images, rosaries, and the scapulars. You want to desecrate our church, turning it into a ballroom. Yours is a dirty work. You know how important religion is to me. I cannot work for you.”About thirty boys from Ambohimanarivo, mostly his old students, accompanied him to the Mattatoio, the place where executions took place, at the south exit of the city, in a place called Ambalafary. Lucien said, “Tell my family not to cry, because I am happy. It is God who takes me. May your hearts never abandon God! ” He walked like a free man, a conqueror. The group of boys arrived at the place of execution.Three men designated by the king were already in place. To reach them, the procession had to cross a canal. Before crossing it, Lucien asked for time to pray and was given it. He prayed, “O my God, forgive my brothers, who now have a difficult task to face. May my blood be shed for the salvation of my country! ” Lucien repeated these words several times. He also prayed in Latin, and perhaps intoned the song of Lent that he loved so much: “Save, O Lord, save your people, may your wrath not remain forever upon us! ”Then they wanted to tie his hands, but he refused, saying, “Do not bind me to kill me. I bind myself.” And he crossed his wrists one on top of the other, holding the cross of the rosary in his hand.Once on his knees, he prayed again, repeating the words already spoken before: “O my God, forgive my brothers.” He forgave the executioners first and interceded for them, while they mocked him: “Your prayer is too long! Do you think it will save you?” Some of those who had remained on the other side of the canal were shouting insults. But Lucien answered, “I have not finished! Leave me a moment longer.”He raised his hands to heaven and prostrated himself three times on the ground, like Jesus during the Passion, then turned to them saying, “Hurry up now, because the spirit is ready but the flesh is weak.” While they killed him, the executioners mocked him, saying, “Now go play your harmonium.” Given up for love of Christ and his Church, Lucien’s body was thrown into the Matitanana River. Recognizing his martyrdom and his witness to his faith, the Catholic Church beatified him on April 15, 2018, in Vohipeno, Madagascar.Comboni Missionaries (Bl. Peter Gonzalez OP ( - 1246)) Dominican Friar and Priest.Blessed Peter was born at Palencia, Spain, towards the end of the twelfth century. He pursued an ecclesiastical career and became dear to the Church of Palencia. Moved by the grace of God, he asked for the habit of the Dominican Order and became as renowned for his humility as he had previously been renowned for his greed for glory. He was notable for his life of prayer and for his service to his neighbor, especially those who were in peril on the sea. Sailors have invoked his intercession under the name “Saint Elmo.” He died at Tuy, Spain, on April 14, 1246.

Tue 13 April

Tuesday of the 2nd week of Eastertide, or Saint Martin I, Pope, Martyr Office of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(Pope St Martin I (- 655)) He was born in Todi in Umbria and elected Pope in 649. He called a synod to combat the Monothelite heresy concerning the nature of Christ. One of the people whose teachings were condemned was supported by the Byzantine Emperor, who in 653 had Martin kidnapped from Rome, taken to Constantinople, imprisoned and eventually exiled to the Crimea, where he died on 1 September 655. See the articles on Martin and Monothelitism in the Catholic Encyclopaedia and the article on Martin in Wikipedia.(Bl. Margaret of Castello OP (1287 - 1320)) Virgin and Lay Dominican.Blessed Margaret was born at Citta de Castello, Italy, in 1287. Blind from birth and abandoned by her parents at an early age, she faithfully placed her trust in God and lived under the Rule of Penance of the Order of Saint Dominic. She had great compassion for the poor and especially cherished the mystery of the Incarnation. She died at the age of thirty-one on April 13, 1320.

Mon 12 April

Monday of the 2nd week of EastertideOffice of Readings | Morning Prayer | Evening Prayer | Night Prayer | Mass(St Zeno of Verona (d. 371)) Zeno, a native of North Africa, was appointed bishop of Verona (Northern Italy) in 362. He ministered to his people for about nine years, distinguishing himself for his leadership skills and good pastoral approach. He was close to his people and cared for the poor. In his writings he described many liturgical practices of his Church especially during Holy Week. He preached much against Arianism and fostered the growth of missionary activity in his area. He died in 371. See the article in Wikipedia.(Saint Guthlac of Crowland, Hermit)