A reminder that prayer works miracles

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‘The Harbour Within’ tells us that Jesus takes care of everything

I have a longstanding dispute with an agnostic friend. He raises the Inquisition, the Crusades and how cruel the Church was to the inoffensive Cathars; I then patiently explain the actual historical facts. Reading The Harbour Within by Sister Consilio makes me think I should simply point out the amazing works of Christian charity done by unknown Catholic saints throughout the centuries.

An Irish Sister of Mercy, Sister Consilio founded Cuan Mhuire (the Harbour of Mary) fifty years ago to help vagrants, or “road men." Her idea was to provide a sanctuary of safety and love for people whose lives had been ruined by alcohol, drugs or gambling. From this inspired thought, over 75,000 people have been supported at one of five Cuan Mhuire centres now established in Ireland.

Sister Consilio credits Our Lady with the success of her apostolate; her book abounds with a litany of small miracles of supernatural aid. Prompted by my interest in miracles, she reminds me that Cuan Mhuire is “Our Lady’s work and a miracle in itself. When we have reached the end of our resources, we turn in hope to God and to His Mother, confident that our prayers will be heard."

She relates once making a long journey to visit someone in distress: “We ran out of petrol, so said our Memorare and prepared for a long walk. Soon we came to a silent empty house. There was a can full of petrol on the wall outside the house, just enough to get us home. When we called by later to thank the owners and pay for the petrol, they knew nothing about it." Sister comments, “Leaving a can of petrol outside in full view is the last think that sensible people in the country would do."

Fired up by her memories of divine generosity, Sister adds that their Centre in Newry was once “seriously short of necessities. The Director and the residents got down on their knees and prayed. Shortly after, a local businessman called by, asked them what the matter was and told them he would give them whatever they needed."

In her book Sister mentions being influenced by The Sacrament of the Present Moment by de Caussade. “We are called to imitate Our Lady’s obedience: to be attentive to God’s will for us in all the daily circumstances of our lives – and then to get up and get on with it."

At the Centres, the Memorare is often recited and the Rosary every evening. Sister explains that Cuan Mhuire is “a way of life. It is focused on serving Christ in the person suffering from addiction and its effects. All faiths are welcome, and both men and women, especially those who feel marginalised and distressed."

Sister’s book reflects her own loving family life as one of five children growing up on a farm, with parents who were “hardworking, good people, who set us a wonderful example of helping others." She reflects that “in today’s modern, busy world we have lost some of our sense of community."

Now aged 79, Sister still gives her time and energy to her Centres and to six Transition Houses. She would love to see centres for the friends of Cuan Mhuire “in every town in Ireland."

Her own daily prayer reflects her faith and trust in God: “Jesus, I surrender myself to you. Take care of everything."

All proceeds from the sale of her book go to her very worthwhile charity.


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St Padre Pio relics to tour the United States

The relics will be displayed in 12 locations, including in California, Nebraska and New York

Relics of St Padre Pio, a Capuchin priest who bore the stigmata of Jesus, will be on public display in several US dioceses and archdioceses in May and again in the autumn.

The Saint Pio Foundation announced that the tour corresponds with the 130th anniversary of the Italian-born saint’s birth.

The tour will include 12 locations nationwide starting on May 6-8 at the Cathedral of Ss Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.

Hours that each site will be open for veneration and other events related to the tour were to be announced by each diocese.

Additional stops include:

— May 9 at St Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh.
— May 10-11 at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Denver.
— May 13 at Cathedral of the Risen Christ, Lincoln, Nebraska.
— May 18-19 at St Andrew Church, Pasadena, California.
— May 20-21 at St Ann Church, Arlington, Virginia.
— Sept 17-18 at St Patrick Cathedral, New York.
— Sept 20 at Cathedral of St Joseph the Workman, La Crosse, Wisconsin.
— Sept. 20 at Cathedral of St John the Evangelist, Milwaukee.
— Sept. 22-23 at Basilica of St John the Evangelist, Stamford, Connecticut.
— Sept. 24 at St Theresa Church, Trumbull, Connecticut.
— Sept. 29 at Cathedral of Mary of the Assumption, Saginaw, Michigan.

Born Francesco Forgione on May 25, 1887, to a poor family near Italy’s Adriatic coast, he entered the local Capuchin novitiate at the age of 15. He was ordained a priest in 1910 and almost immediately began informing his superiors that he was experiencing spiritual and physical signs, along with a number of health problems.

Beginning in 1918, at the age of 30, the priest reported bleeding from his hands, feet and side – the stigmata wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. The wounds were said to have lasted 50 years, until his death.

Biographers reported that St Padre Pio was uneasy about such phenomena, declaring: “I only want to be a friar who prays." St Padre Pio’s alleged signs and special powers soon helped attract massive crowds to his southern Italian monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo. His Capuchin superiors tried to limit his public appearances and planned to transfer the priest, but they backed down after popular outcry.

With donations, St Padre Pio opened a small hospital next to the monastery in 1925, the forerunner to a much larger health complex he had built in the 1950s. After years of ministering to long lines of penitents and after suffering several more bouts with illness, St Padre Pio died in 1968.

St Padre Pio was canonised by St John Paul II in 2002.









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The story behind the Irish priest whose prayers could heal

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Father John Sullivan was a prominent Irish Catholic convert who was known for his healing prayers, his consolation for the troubled, and his devotion to God.

Now he is set to be the first ever person to be beatified in Ireland.

The beatification will take place May 13 at St. Francis Xavier Church in Dublin, where the Jesuit priest’s body was interred. Cardinal Angelo Amato of the Congregations for the Causes of Saints will be involved in the ceremony. Church of Ireland leaders will also attend.

In a Feb. 18 homily at the church, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said Fr. Sullivan was “a man of learning" who was “always aware of his responsibility to care for those around him and especially the poor."

Archbishop Martin reflected on the Gospel story of the rich young man who asked Jesus what was needed to attain eternal life. After telling the man to follow the Law of Moses and the Commandments, Jesus told him to sell all his goods and follow him.

“John Sullivan, faced with the same call, placed his life totally at the service of Jesus, renouncing wealth and worldly ambition and living the simplicity of life as a Jesuit," Archbishop Martin said.

“His life would not just be marked by a rejection of outward wealth, but by a special concern for the poor and especially for the sick and the dying."

The priest spent much of his life teaching at Clongowes Wood College in Ireland’s County Kildare.

“By many accounts he was not a great teacher but the boys loved him," according to Sullivan’s biography on the website of the Irish Jesuits, written by historian Thomas Morrisey, S.J.

He would often visit the sick, the dying, and people who were troubled.

Even while he lived, many people attributed their healings to his prayers, including the nephew of Irish Free State founder General Michael Collins. The three-year-old boy, who had the same name as his famous uncle, had infantile paralysis that bent his leg in intense pain. After lengthy prayers with the priest, he was healed.

Not long after Fr. Sullivan’s ordination, he visited the Royal Hospital for Incurables at Donnybrook, he visited a woman who was suffering from lupus. The condition had begun to affect her mind and she was being prepared for a move to a mental hospital. Father Sullivan stayed with her for a long time and prayed over her.

The next day she had returned to full mental health, a state which lasted until her death, and she was able to re-establish disrupted friendships.

People also attributed to him a gift for knowing the future, and a gift for ministering to those with scruples, obsessions or compulsions.

“When God forgives me my sins, he buries them beneath a large stone. It is desecration to root them up again," he would say in response to such cases.

The priest was known for ascetic practices: sleeping on the floor instead of his bed, placing stones in his walking boots, eating the plainest food, and sleeping for only a few hours a night so that he could pray late into the night and early in the day.

Father Sullivan was born in 1861 on Dublin’s Eccles Street, not far from the church where he is buried. He was raised in the Protestant Church of Ireland.

His father, Edward Sullivan, was a successful barrister who became Lord Chancellor of Ireland. His mother, Elizabeth Bailey, was a devout Catholic from a prominent County Cork family.

He attended elite Protestant schools in Ireland before studying law in London. For a time, he stopped going to church. His father passed away when he was 24, providing a great shock to him.

By the early 1890s he appeared to have no clear religious views, but was moved by the Confessions of St. Augustine. He began to sit in on religious instruction classes and read a catechism and Butler’s Lives of the Saints.

In 1895 the U.K. government appointed him to a commission to investigate widespread massacres of Armenians in Asia Minor. He taught English in Greece and spent time at Mount Athos, a center of Orthodox Christian monasticism.

He was received into Catholic Church in 1896, at the age of 35. The event was a surprise to his family, and though it drew some criticism from some Protestants, Sullivan’s reputation was such that he was supported by both Protestant and Catholic friends.

He entered the Society of Jesus four years later.

Father Sullivan died Feb. 19, 1933, aged 71. His death prompted outpourings of appreciation and affection and his funeral turned into a procession through the streets of Dublin.

His vault at St. Francis Xavier Church has served as a place of prayer for many people, especially those seeking healing. The monthly Mass said for his canonization regularly draws over 200 people.

He was declared a Servant of God in 1960 under Pope John XXIII and declared Venerable by Pope Francis in November 2014.

A Dublin woman’s healing from cancer in 1954 after praying for his intercession was recognized as Father Sullivan’s first miracle by the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in 2016.









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The miracle that made this 13th century saint the patron of television

There’s a patron saint for practically everything in the Catholic Church, whether it’s gravediggers, stress relief, or protection against pirate attacks. But did you know there’s a patron saint for television – and she’s from the 13th century?

By the end of the 1950s, it was clear that television was becoming one of the most important new forms of media in modern society. And Pope Pius XII wanted to offer both the Church’s blessing and protection for the new technology. So, in 1958, he issued the document Apostolic Letter Proclaiming St. Clare Patron Saint of Television.

In it, he proclaims that the Church supports technological innovation and advancement, and he recommends the use of modern technology for the proclamation of the Gospel. He acknowledges that television is capable of both good and evil, which is why he wants it to have a patron saint for spiritual protection.

So he chooses the 13th century St. Clare of Assisi, associate of the famous St. Francis of Assisi, and for a fascinating reason.

He tells the story that on one Christmas, St. Clare was sick and unable to leave her bed to attend Mass. Yet, miraculously, God gave her a vision of the Mass in her convent in real-time – sort of like a spiritual television. So she’s the perfect patron!

This post originally appeared at ChurchPOP.com


By ChurchPOP









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Jim Harbaugh: My priorities are ‘faith, then family, then football’

Former NFL quarterback Jim Harbaugh, now head coach for the University of Michigan football team, is also a Roman Catholic – and he said Wednesday that faith plays a major role in his life.

“The role that (faith) plays in my life is in the priorities that I have," he said April 26, “faith, then family, then football."

Coach Harbaugh spoke to CNA following a general audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s Square April 26. He and his wife, Sarah, greeted Francis following the audience and presented him with a gift from the team – a University of Michigan helmet and pair of cleats.

The helmet included both the Italian and American flags and a little cross by the chinstrap. The Pope gave Harbaugh “some marching orders," the coach said, “he told me to pray for him."

Following the encounter, Harbaugh and his family and the University of Michigan football team were hosted for lunch on the terrace of the EWTN Rome bureau offices. After lunch they held a brief press conference.

Harbaugh, 53, has been head football coach for the University of Michigan since 2015. He played college football at Michigan from 1983-1986 and played in the National Football League (NFL) for 14 seasons from 1987-2000. He has seven children.

Speaking to CNA about his experience meeting Pope Francis, Harbaugh quoted his father-in-law, Merrill Feuerborn, who told him, “To live in a state of grace, put your trust in the Lord, and be not afraid."

“When I met Pope Francis today, I was riding on a state of grace," he said, “that feeling was beyond description. And I know that there’s something that I’m supposed to do with that opportunity, with that encounter, of meeting the Holy Father. I’m going to pray about it."

Harbaugh is in Rome April 22-30. He brought along his family as well as almost his entire team and staff – some 150 people. He said he wanted to give his players an experience they might not otherwise have.

Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, he brought the team and staff to Rome for a week of team-building, cultural and historical experiences, and of course, spring practices.

The aim of this trip was to “have an educational experience like none other," he told CNA.

“Not all learning is done in a classroom or on a football field, you know? It’s out connecting to people, and having a chance for our players and staff to see things they’ve never seen before, eat things they’ve never tasted, to hear a language they’ve never heard."

One goal for the trip was to connect his team with people they otherwise might not have met, he said. Their first day in Rome, the group met and picnicked with a group of refugees, including several from Syria.

Later on Wednesday, Harbaugh and some members of the team and his family visited the SOS Children’s Village, a community made up of homes for children who are in positions of family or social hardship.

Harbaugh said that attending the general audience and meeting Pope Francis was an emotional experience, not just for him but for his team as well. Asked what he hopes his team will take away from the experience, he said just that “the relationship with God is a personal one."

He said his suggestion for each of his players would be to spend time in silence and think and pray “about what it means, and what they should take away from it."

“Because we don’t always know what to do with it," he continued. “I don’t know what to do with the encounter I had meeting Pope Francis today. What exactly did it mean? What opportunity was given and what am I supposed to do with that?"

Immediately afterward, Harbaugh said he was able to speak with a priest from Detroit, Msgr. Robert McClory, about the experience: “And that was the advice that he gave me: to be silent, to pray, to be with God and listen, and you’ll get it, you’ll figure it out."

Two players had the opportunity to get a little bit closer to the Pope during the audience, which Harbaugh chose through an essay competition. The winners, offensive lineman Grant Newsome and defensive tackle Salim Makki, both said they are inspired by Francis.

Attending the audience “was just an incredible experience," Newsome said.

“Not only as a Christian, but as a person in general, just to listen to someone who is so internationally renowned as Pope Francis and to hear him and have him bless us was just an incredible experience for me and I know for a lot of the other guys on the team."

Makki, a Muslim, said he looks up to Pope Francis as a hero. “He’s always shown that Muslims and Christians and Catholics can combine – we’re all brothers and sisters, we can co-exist together."

Jack Wangler, a senior wide receiver told CNA, “I can speak for everybody, I think: this has been a once-in-a-lifetime trip."

“It’s been great to come here with the team and use it as a bonding experience and a cultural experience, to expand what we’ve learned in the classroom," said Catholic fullback Joe Beneducci.

He told CNA that he remembers reading about the Church and the Vatican at school and watching St. John Paul II’s funeral on TV. “Coming here to see it in person, it put it all in perspective and made me appreciate it just that much more."

“I think it’s brought me closer to my faith as well, which is very nice."

About the qualities of a good sportsman, Harbaugh said, “It talks about it in the Bible: strive hard to win the prize. To have that motivation, to have that quality of perseverance and discipline and drive is what really makes a good athlete."

Sunday, before they leave to return to Michigan, Harbaugh’s infant son, John Paul, will be baptized at St. Peter’s Basilica. His daughter, Addison, will also make her first Holy Communion.

In the press conference, Harbaugh told journalists that if he accomplished nothing else in his life, to have met the Pope, and see his son be baptized and his daughter receive First Communion at the Vatican, would make him feel like “a blessed man."

“This has been the experience of a lifetime."


By Hannah Brockhaus









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Egypt steps up security ahead of Pope’s visit

The papal visit comes shortly after suicide attacks on two churches killed dozens of people

Egypt has heightened security in the area around the Vatican residence in Cairo ahead of Pope Francis’ visit this weekend, which comes weeks after suicide attacks on two churches killed dozens of people.

In Zamalek, a wealthy neighborhood on a Nile island, police have been conducting door-to-door checks, searching passers-by and instructing business owners to close their shops for the visit, which begins on Friday. Parking has been prohibited on major streets close to the residence.

An official told the Associated Press on Tuesday that security forces will search for explosives in the area during the visit. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief the media.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis has told the Egyptian people he is coming to Cairo this week as a friend and a “messenger of peace."

In a videotaped message in Italian released by the Vatican on Tuesday, Francis said he hopes the pilgrimage will be “an embrace of consolation and of encouragement to all Christians in the Middle East."

The two-day visit will include a Mass in a stadium on the outskirts of Cairo. For a full schedule of the papal visit, go here.









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Vatican releases itinerary for papal trip to Egypt

Francis will speak at the al-Azhar University during his visit to Egypt on April 28-29

Pope Francis will meet with the leader of one of the world’s leading Sunni Muslim institutions, the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church and representatives of the Catholic Church on a two-day trip to Cairo.

The Pope is scheduled to arrive in Cairo on April 28 for courtesy visits with political and religious leaders and deliver a speech, along with the Grand Imam of al-Azhar University, to an international conference on peace. He will celebrate Mass for the small Catholic community in Cairo the next day and meet with bishops, clergy, religious and seminarians before returning to Rome on April 29.

In mid-March, the Vatican confirmed the Pope would make the trip following an invitation from President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the Catholic bishops in Egypt, Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and Sheik Ahmad el-Tayeb, grand imam of al-Azhar.

It will be the Pope’s 18th trip abroad in his four years as Pope and the seventh time he visits a Muslim-majority nation. He will be the second pope to visit Egypt, after St John Paul II went to Cairo and Mount Sinai in 2000.
The Catholic community in Egypt numbers about 272,000, less than 0.5 per cent of the population, which is 90 percent Sunni Muslim.

In 1998, Catholic-Muslim dialogue was initiated between Vatican experts and Muslim scholars of Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the main center for Islamic learning for the more than one billion Sunni Muslims worldwide. The trip will come amid increasingly closer relations between the Vatican and al-Azhar, which is considered the most authoritative theological-academic institution of Sunni Islam. The Pope has also said he sees the importance of strengthening cooperation between Catholics and Coptic Orthodox Christians in the face of so many threats to human life and creation.

Here is the Pope’s schedule as released by the Vatican (times listed are local)

Friday, April 28 (Rome, Cairo)
— 10.45am Departure from Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci International Airport for Cairo.
— 2pm Arrival at Cairo airport. Official welcoming ceremony at the Heliopolis presidential palace. Courtesy visits with el-Sissi and Sheik el-Tayeb. Speeches by the grand imam and the pope to participants in an international conference on peace.
— 4.40pm Meeting with local authorities. Speeches by el-Sissi and Pope Francis. Courtesy visit to Pope Tawadros. Speeches by Pope Tawadros and Pope Francis.

Saturday, April 29 (Cairo, Rome)
— 10.00am Mass in Cairo. Homily by pope.
— 12.15pm Lunch with Egypt’s bishops and the papal entourage.
— 3.15pm Prayer gathering with clergy, men and women religious, and seminarians. Speech by pope. Farewell ceremony.
— 5pm Departure from Cairo airport for Rome.
— 8.30pm Arrival at Rome’s Ciampino airport.









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The happiest day of St. John Paul II’s life

The happiest day of St. John Paul II’s life may not be what you think.

To be sure, there were many days of his life that might seem like obvious choices – the end of World War II, or his ordination as a priest, or the day he was named a bishop, or cardinal, or the Pope.

But actually, according to St. John Paul II himself, the happiest day of his life was the day he canonized a little nun from his homeland of Poland, St. Faustina Kowalska.

St. Faustina was born Helena Kowalska to a poor but devout Polish family in 1905. At the age of 20, with very little education, and having been rejected from several other convents because of her poverty and lack of education, Helen entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy. There, she took the name Sr. Faustina and spent time in convents in both Poland and Lithuania.

Throughout her life, Jesus appeared to Sr. Faustina. He asked her to become an apostle and secretary of his mercy, by writing down his messages of Divine Mercy for the world in her diary. Jesus also asked Sr. Faustina to have an image painted of his Divine Mercy, with red and white rays issuing from his heart, and to spread devotion to the Divine Mercy novena.

Even before her death on October 5, 1938, devotion to Divine Mercy began to spread throughout Poland.

Although Sr. Faustina’s life overlapped with John Paul II (then Karol Wojtyla) for several years in Poland – he could have been 18 and living in Krakow when she died – Karol did not really learn about the nun and the message of Divine Mercy until his days in a clandestine seminary during World War II.

This little nun and Jesus’ message of Divine Mercy impacted Karol Wojtyla greatly, which became obvious to the world when he was elected Pope.

Due to an inaccurate Italian translation of the Diary of Divine Mercy and other unresolved issues, the Vatican placed a ban on spreading the devotion in the 1950s, which was lifted just six months before Cardinal Karol Wojtyla became Pope John Paul II.

As Pope, John Paul II dedicated his second encyclical, “Rich in Mercy" (Dives in Misericordia), to Divine Mercy.

In Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II, George Weigel writes that John Paul II had told him personally of the impact Sr. Faustina had had on his life and ministry:

“As Archbishop of Krakow, Wojtyla had defended Sr. Faustina when her orthodoxy was being posthumously questioned in Rome, due in large part to a faulty translation into Italian of her diary, and had promoted the cause of her beatification. John Paul II, who said that he felt spiritually ‘very near’ Sr. Faustina, had been ‘thinking about her for a long time’ when he began Dives in Misericordia," Weigel wrote.

Many times throughout his papacy, John Paul II would write or speak about the importance of pleading for God’s Divine Mercy for the whole world. On April 19, 1993, he beatified Sr. Faustina, and in his homily he praised the way she drew many people to the merciful heart of Christ.

“It is truly marvelous how her devotion to the merciful Jesus is spreading in our contemporary world and gaining so many human hearts! This is doubtlessly a sign of the times — a sign of our twentieth century. The balance of this century, which is now ending, in addition to the advances which have often surpassed those of preceding eras, presents a deep restlessness and fear of the future. Where, if not in the Divine Mercy, can the world find refuge and the light of hope? Believers understand that perfectly," he said.

On April 30, 2000, Pope John Paul II canonized St. Faustina in what he was widely reported as saying was “the happiest day of my life."

“Today my joy is truly great in presenting the life and witness of Sr Faustina Kowalska to the whole Church as a gift of God for our time. By divine Providence, the life of this humble daughter of Poland was completely linked with the history of the 20th century, the century we have just left behind. In fact, it was between the First and Second World Wars that Christ entrusted his message of mercy to her. Those who remember, who were witnesses and participants in the events of those years and the horrible sufferings they caused for millions of people, know well how necessary was the message of mercy," the Pope said in his homily that day.

It was also on this day, the Sunday after Easter, that Pope John Paul II instituted the Feast of Divine Mercy, which Jesus had asked for in his messages to Sr. Faustina.

Special graces – similar to an indulgence – are granted to souls on this day who receive sacramental confession and communion. Jesus promised that souls who fulfilled these requirements on this day would be returned to their pure, baptismal state, among other graces.

Jesus said to Sr. Faustina of this feast:

“I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls, and especially for poor sinners. On that day, the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy. The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain the complete forgiveness of sins and punishment. On that day all the divine floodgates through which grace flow are opened. Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet." (Diary 699)

St. Faustina and St. John Paul II, pray for us! Jesus, I trust in you, have mercy on us!

 









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Fifty years ago, Colorado became the first state to legalize abortion

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April 25 marks 50 years since Colorado became the first state in the U.S. to legalize abortion. In a statement released Tuesday, the bishops of Colorado called for continued prayers and efforts to build up a culture of life in the state.

“Amid celebrating the joy of Christ’s resurrection, we pause to remember the dark shadow cast over Colorado 50 years ago," said a statement from the Colorado Catholic Conference.

“As we reflect on the fiftieth anniversary of the legalization of abortion in Colorado, we express immense sympathy for the victims of this horrific assault on human dignity."

Colorado was the first state in the nation to decriminalize abortion. The initial legislation, signed into law April 25, 1967, allowed abortion in certain limited cases: rape, incest, or a prediction of permanent mental or physical disability of either the child or mother.

Sponsored by legislator Dick Lamm, the abortion bill was signed by Governor John Love, who stressed at the time that no medical facility or professional would ever be required to participate in an abortion.

“I am certain that the operation provided for will occur only in hospitals, subject to a severe test of accreditation, which will successfully prevent anything approaching abortion clinics," he added at the time, according to the Associated Press.

Six years later, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade would declare abortion to be a constitutional right nationwide. The Colorado ruling also paved the way for other states, such as California, Oregon and North Carolina, to follow suit.

What began as a limited law in Colorado is now a much broader legalization, which allows for abortion throughout an entire pregnancy.

While the Colorado bishops lamented the past 50 years of legalized abortion within the state, they also highlighted the numerous pro-life efforts that are aiding pregnant women.

“We owe an incredible debt of gratitude to those throughout Colorado who serve the pro-life cause in immeasurable ways," the bishops said.

“We are encouraged and uplifted by the great number of young people that have taken up the cause of protecting and defending life with passion and enthusiasm. We honor the incredible work of pregnancy centers and agencies that provide vital counseling, pre- and post-natal care, housing and material support to those women in need of such care."

The bishops also underscored the importance of offering support to women without condemnation, while at the same time remaining firm in the “denunciation of abortion." They encouraged the faithful to become active supporters of life by helping pregnant women or pro-life organizations.

“During this Easter season, we are called to be men and women of the Resurrection – messengers of hope and life to a world often filled with affliction and suffering," they said.

“May God give us strength to continue our efforts in Colorado to promote a culture that recognizes the dignity and beauty of every human life from conception to natural death."

 









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How to pray the Rosary more deeply

It is interesting that in her appearances at Lourdes, Fatima and other locations, the Mother of God repeatedly recommends praying the Rosary. She does not invite us to pray the Divine Office, or to do spiritual reading, or Eucharistic Adoration, or practice interior prayer or mental prayer. All the mentioned forms of prayer are good, recognized by the Church and practiced by many saints. Why does Mary “only" place the Rosary in our hearts?

We can find a possible answer by looking at the visionaries of Lourdes and Fatima. Mary revealed herself to children of little instruction, who could not even read or write correctly. The Rosary was for them the appropriate school to learn how to pray well, since bead after bead, it leads us from vocal prayer, to meditation, and eventually to contemplation. With the Rosary, everyone who allows himself to be led by Mary can arrive at interior prayer without any kind of special technique or complicated practices.

This does not mean – and I want to emphasize this point – that praying the Rosary is for “dummies" or for simple minded people. Even great intellectuals must come before God as children, who in their prayers are always simple and sincere, always full of confidence, praying from within.

All Christians are called to the kind of interior prayer that allows an experience of closeness with God and recognition of his action in our lives. We can compare the Rosary to playing the guitar. The vocal prayers – the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be – are the central prayers of Christianity, rooted in Scripture. These are like the rhythm in a song.

But simply strumming a guitar is not a song. And mindless repetition of words is not interior prayer. In addition to rhythm, keys are needed. The Mysteries of the Rosary are like the chords on the guitar. The vocal prayers form the framework for meditation on the Mysteries.

There are always these five chords to the rhythm of the repetition of the prayers, which make the lives of Jesus and Mary pass before our eyes. With meditation, we go on reflecting on what happens in each Mystery and what it means for our lives: At Nazareth, the Son of God is incarnated in Mary. In Holy Communion, He also comes to me. In Gethsemane, Jesus sweats blood. He suffers, is in anguish, and yet his friends remain asleep. Can I keep vigil with Him or do my eyes close with tiredness? On Easter morning, Jesus rises and breaks forth from the tomb. The first day of creation brought light. The first day of the week conquered death and gave us life. Christ can change the darkness in my life into light.

And so, our prayer begins to change into music. That is to say, it is no longer monotonous and boring, but now it is full of images and thoughts. And when the grace of God permits, it is also filled with supernatural illuminations and inspirations.

There is one more thing needed to have really great music, or to have a prayer that is even more profound and intimate: the melody that the heart sings. When playing the guitar, a voice is needed to interpret the song. When praying the Rosary, it is the song of our heart, as we place our own life before God, to the tempo of the prayers and meditations.

It is this song of the heart that allows us to enter into the mysteries of the Rosary: For my sake you were scourged, and it was I who struck you. Forgive me! You have ascended into Heaven, Lord. I long for You, I for your kingdom, my true homeland.

In contemplation, the person praying sees the mysteries pass before his eyes, and at the same time he abides in particular affections or movements of the heart before God. The one who prays sings the song of his own life, in which naturally there can arise specific desires: You wanted to be the son of a human Mother; help my sick mother! You were crowned with thorns; help me in this financial difficulty which I can’t get out of my head. You sent the Holy Spirit; without You I don’t have the courage or the strength to make a good decision.

With this understanding, the following tips can help those who pray the Rosary move from vocal prayer to meditation to inner contemplation:

1) Schedule the time

Our schedule is full of appointments. More or less consciously, we also plan out the time we’re going to need for each task or appointment. Sometimes it is good to set aside 20 or 30 minutes to pray the Rosary, and write it down in the schedule. This “appointment" with Jesus and Mary is then just as important as all the other ones planned. For all of us, it is possible to set aside a time to pray the Rosary, at first, once, twice or three times a week. Over time – and this is the goal – it will be easier to find a time to pray the Rosary daily.

2) Don’t rush

We can learn a lesson about prayer by observing people in love. During a romantic candlelit dinner, no one would be constantly looking at the clock, or choking down their food, or leaving the dessert to one side to finish as quickly as possible. Rather, a romantic meal is stretched out, maybe lingering for an hour to sip a cocktail, and enjoying every moment spent together. So it is with praying the Rosary. It shouldn’t be treated as sets of Hail Mary’s to be performed as if one were lifting weights. I can spend time lingering on a thought. I can also break away from it. I can, principally at the beginning, simply be peaceful. If I keep this peaceful attitude and an awareness of how important this 20-minute “appointment" is, then I will have prayed well. It will have been a good prayer, because my will is focused on pleasing the Beloved and not myself.

3) Savor the experience

Saint Ignatius recommends what’s called the “third form of prayer," which consists in adjusting the words to the rhythm of one’s own breathing. Often it is sufficient in praying the Rosary to briefly pause between the mysteries, and to remember that Jesus and Mary are looking at me full of joy and love, recognizing with gratitude that I am like a little child babbling words every so often to in some way affirm that I love God. To do this, it can be useful to pause and take a few breaths before resuming vocal prayer.

4) A gaze of love

The vocal prayers of the Rosary only provide the rhythm of the prayer. With my thoughts, I can and should go out from the rhythm to encounter the Mystery which is being contemplated. This is more clear in German, where the mystery is announced not only at the beginning of each decade, but before each Hail Mary. It’s a time to look your Beloved in the eyes and let Him look back, with eyes full of love.

5) Allow yourself to be amazed

One of the first and most important steps for inner prayer is to go from thinking and speculation to looking upon and being amazed. Think of lovers who meet, not to plan out what they’re going to give each other or what they might do on the next vacation, but to enjoy the time together and to rejoice in each other. Looking at a family photo album is very different from looking at a history book. In the photo album, we see people who are important to us, whom we love – and even more – who love us! That’s how our gaze at Jesus and Mary ought to be in the Rosary.

6) Allow your “inner cameraman" to notice details

Some people close their eyes while praying in order to concentrate. Others find it useful to focus their eyes on a certain point (such as a crucifix). Either way, what is important is for the eyes of the heart to be open. Praying the Rosary is like going to the movies. It’s about seeing images. It’s useful to ask yourself: Who, What, Where am I looking at when I contemplate the birth of Jesus, or his crucifixion, or his ascension into Heaven? And on some occasions, like a good cameraman does, come in for a close-up image of some detail: contemplate the warm breath of the ox that’s warming the Child, the pierced hand of Jesus that spread so much love, the tears in John’s eyes as he gazes at Jesus rising up to Heaven.

7) Pray in words, mind, and heart

The words accompany, the mind opens, but it is the heart that has the leading role in prayer. All the great spiritual authors agree that inner prayer is about dwelling in the affections, that is, the inner sentiments and movements. Teresa of Avila says very simply: “Don’t think a lot, love a lot!" An elderly lady was ruefully complaining to me that she could not reflect while praying her daily Rosary, and that in that situation she could barely say “Jesus, Mary, I love you!" I congratulated the lady. That is exactly what praying the Rosary ought to lead us to.


By Msgr. Florian Kolfhaus









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