December 31, 2011

New Years Resolutions


  • Pray more


  • Read Scripture


  • Keep holy the Sabbath


  • Sin less


  • Eat less


  • Honor your father and mother


  • Spend less


  • Spend more time with family


  • Read a Psalm a day


  • Live more simply
  • December 29, 2011

    The House of Christmas By G.K. Chesterton


    There fared a mother driven forth
    Out of an inn to roam;
    In the place where she was homeless
    All men are at home.
    The crazy stable close at hand,
    With shaking timber and shifting sand,
    Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand
    Than the square stones of Rome.

    For men are homesick in their homes,
    And strangers under the sun,
    And they lay on their heads in a foreign land
    Whenever the day is done.
    Here we have battle and blazing eyes,
    And chance and honour and high surprise,
    But our homes are under miraculous skies
    Where the yule tale was begun.

    A Child in a foul stable,
    Where the beasts feed and foam;
    Only where He was homeless
    Are you and I at home;
    We have hands that fashion and heads that know,
    But our hearts we lost - how long ago!
    In a place no chart nor ship can show
    Under the sky's dome.

    This world is wild as an old wives' tale,
    And strange the plain things are,
    The earth is enough and the air is enough
    For our wonder and our war;
    But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings
    And our peace is put in impossible things
    Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings
    Round an incredible star.

    To an open house in the evening
    Home shall men come,
    To an older place than Eden
    And a taller town than Rome.
    To the end of the way of the wandering star,
    To the things that cannot be and that are,
    To the place where God was homeless
    And all men are at home.

    December 27, 2011

    Urbi et Orbi - Christmas 2011

    His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
    Urbi et Orbi Message Christmas 2011

    'Dear Brothers and Sisters in Rome and throughout the world! Christ is born for us! Glory to God in the highest and peace on earth to the men and women whom he loves. May all people hear an echo of the message of Bethlehem which the Catholic Church repeats in every continent, beyond the confines of every nation, language and culture.

    The Son of the Virgin Mary is born for everyone; he is the Saviour of all. This is how Christ is invoked in an ancient liturgical antiphon: “O Emmanuel, our king and lawgiver, hope and salvation of the peoples: come to save us, O Lord our God”. Veni ad salvandum nos! Come to save us! This is the cry raised by men and women in every age, who sense that by themselves they cannot prevail over difficulties and dangers. They need to put their hands in a greater and stronger hand, a hand which reaches out to them from on high. Dear brothers and sisters, this hand is Christ, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary.

    He is the hand that God extends to humanity, to draw us out of the mire of sin and to set us firmly on rock, the secure rock of his Truth and his Love (cf. Ps 40:2). This is the meaning of the Child’s name, the name which, by God’s will, Mary and Joseph gave him: he is named Jesus, which means “Saviour” (cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31). He was sent by God the Father to save us above all from the evil deeply rooted in man and in history: the evil of separation from God, the prideful presumption of being self-sufficient, of trying to compete with God and to take his place, to decide what is good and evil, to be the master of life and death (cf. Gen 3:1-7).

    This is the great evil, the great sin, from which we human beings cannot save ourselves unless we rely on God’s help, unless we cry out to him: “Veni ad salvandum nos! – Come to save us!” The very fact that we cry to heaven in this way already sets us aright; it makes us true to ourselves: we are in fact those who cried out to God and were saved (cf. Esth [LXX] 10:3ff.). God is the Saviour; we are those who are in peril. He is the physician; we are the infirm. To realize this is the first step towards salvation, towards emerging from the maze in which we have been locked by our pride. To lift our eyes to heaven, to stretch out our hands and call for help is our means of escape, provided that there is Someone who hears us and can come to our assistance.

    Jesus Christ is the proof that God has heard our cry. And not only this! God’s love for us is so strong that he cannot remain aloof; he comes out of himself to enter into our midst and to share fully in our human condition (cf. Ex 3:7-12). The answer to our cry which God gave in Jesus infinitely transcends our expectations, achieving a solidarity which cannot be human alone, but divine.

    Only the God who is love, and the love which is God, could choose to save us in this way, which is certainly the lengthiest way, yet the way which respects the truth about him and about us: the way of reconciliation, dialogue and cooperation. Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, on this Christmas 2011, let us then turn to the Child of Bethlehem, to the Son of the Virgin Mary, and say: “Come to save us!” Let us repeat these words in spiritual union with the many people who experience particularly difficult situations; let us speak out for those who have no voice.

    Together let us ask God’s help for the peoples of the Horn of Africa, who suffer from hunger and food shortages, aggravated at times by a persistent state of insecurity. May the international community not fail to offer assistance to the many displaced persons coming from that region and whose dignity has been sorely tried. May the Lord grant comfort to the peoples of South-East Asia, particularly Thailand and the Philippines, who are still enduring grave hardships as a result of the recent floods.

    May the Lord come to the aid of our world torn by so many conflicts which even today stain the earth with blood. May the Prince of Peace grant peace and stability to that Land where he chose to come into the world, and encourage the resumption of dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. May he bring an end to the violence in Syria, where so much blood has already been shed. May he foster full reconciliation and stability in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    May he grant renewed vigour to all elements of society in the countries of North Africa and the Middle East as they strive to advance the common good. May the birth of the Saviour support the prospects of dialogue and cooperation in Myanmar, in the pursuit of shared solutions. May the Nativity of the Redeemer ensure political stability to the countries of the Great Lakes Region of Africa, and assist the people of South Sudan in their commitment to safeguarding the rights of all citizens.

    Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us turn our gaze anew to the grotto of Bethlehem. The Child whom we contemplate is our salvation! He has brought to the world a universal message of reconciliation and peace. Let us open our hearts to him; let us receive him into our lives. Once more let us say to him, with joy and confidence: “Veni ad salvandum nos!”'

    December 24, 2011

    Merry Christmas


    May the blessing of Christmas be with you and your loved ones - now and forever.

    December 12, 2011

    December 12, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe


    Can you imagine what it would be like to be out walking one day and suddenly see a woman of perfect demeanor, her clothes shining like the sun? Well, this is pretty much what happened in 1531. Mary appeared to Juan Diego, a recent native convert, on Tepeyac Hill, in what is not Mexico City. She asked that Juan go to his bishop and ask that a church be built there, a “house for her son.”

    When the bishop asked for a sign, the woman told Juan to fill his cloak with flowers that appeared miraculously on the hill. Returning to the bishop, Juan opened his cloak to find not only the flowers but also an image of Mary, “clothed with the sun with the moon at her feet,” on his cloak.

    On Tepeyac Hill, Mary identified herself as Our Lady of Guadalupe, and she appeared at a time when human sacrifice was part of the native Aztec culture. It has been estimated that one out of every five children was sacrificed to the Aztecs’ gods. The image on Juan Diego’s cloak conveyed an important message to the Aztecs. The woman stood in front of the sun and wore stars on her mantle. Her feet not only rested on the moon but also were crushing the head of a serpent. All of these images were gods that the Aztecs worshipped. The sash that she wore indicated she was pregnant – pregnant, in fact, with the author of life, Jesus Christ. Through this miraculous image, the Aztecs were introduced to the one true God.

    This appearance of Mary caused millions of native to be converted to Christ and to abandon the practice of child sacrifice. Today, millions of unborn children are slaughtered by abortion. These children, however, are not thrown down the steps of Aztec pyramids but instead are placed into garbage cans, incinerated, or used for scientific research. On a day like today, we should all turn to Mary and ask her to intervene yet again on behalf of these innocent little victims.

    From the Word Among Us.

    December 9, 2011

    The Immaculate Conception

    Today (Dec. 8th) is the fest of the Immaculate Conception. The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic Dogma, the conception of the Virgin Mary without any stain (macula in Latin) of original sin.

    The dogma states that, from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace. It is further believed by Catholics that she lived a life completely free from sin. Her immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, through sexual intercourse, may be contrasted with the doctrine of the virginal conception of her son Jesus, known as the Annunciation, and followed by the Virgin Birth.

    The dogma is based upon the following text from Luke;
    The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said,“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her,“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”But Mary said to the angel,“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply,“ The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
    Mary's Immaculate conception is based on two key passages from the proceeding gospel; when the angel Gabriel says to Mary, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you,” and, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God."

    To be "full of grace" and to be in favor with the Lord are one in the same thing. Mary was in the Lord's favor and full of grace meaning she was preserved from sin, both original and otherwise, from the moment of conception onward.

    The feast of the Immaculate Conception is as much about Jesus as it is about Mary since through it Mary was prepared to be the mother of Christ.

    December 2, 2011

    Novena to Our Lady of Guadalupe, December 4-12

    Novena Prayer for Life to Our Lady of Guadalupe


    Oh Mary, Mother of Jesus and Mother of Life,
    We honor you as Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    Thank you for pointing us to Jesus your Son,
    The only Savior and hope of the world.

    Renew our hope in him,
    That we all may have the courage to say Yes to life,
    And to defend those children in danger of abortion.

    Give us your compassion
    To reach out to those tempted to abort,
    And to those suffering from a past abortion.

    Lead us to the day when abortion
    Will be a sad, past chapter in our history.

    Keep us close to Jesus, the Life of the World,
    Who is Lord forever and ever. Amen

    November 23, 2011

    Reflection: Do the Right Thing

    The Good Samaritan

    Theme: Being honest and trustworthy – even when no one is watching.

    Object: A dollar bill and a bag such as one that a business might use to take deposits to the bank.

    Scripture: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Luke 116:10 (NIV)

    What would you do if you were walking by your friend’s room and you saw a dollar on the floor? Would you pick it up and give it to your friend, or would you look around to make sure no one was watching then slip it into your pocket?

    What would you do if you were walking down the corridor and found a bag like this one – and when you looked inside, you discovered that it contained a lot of money? Would you tell the nurses and report your find, or would you say, “Wow! This must be my lucky day?”

    Today I am going to tell you two true stories about people who found a large amount of money and chose to do the right thing.

    Hector Rodriguez is a 15-year old high school student. One day, Hector found a bag of money containing $120 on top of the Coke machine. He took it to his teacher then the two of them went to the principal’s office to turn in the money. When asked why he turned in the money instead of keeping it, Hector said that he was concerned that the employee who left the bag would get in trouble if he lost this money.

    Eddie McLaughlin was walking home one evening when he found a bag on the sidewalk outside of a store. He picked up the bag, looked inside, and saw that it contained a large amount of money. When Eddie got home, he told his wife about finding the bag of money and together they counted it. There was over $4,000 in the bag. Eddie called the police and told them about the money. The manager of the store had dropped the bag while closing up, and without a doubt, he was happy that it was Eddie McLaughlin who found the money.

    When we hear stories like these, it may make us stop and ask ourselves, “What would I have done if I had found all that money?” To find the answer to that question, ask yourself, “What would I do if I found a dollar on the floor beside my friend’s room?” You see, honesty is not a question of how much money is involved, it is a matter of doing the right thing.

    One day Jesus told his disciples a story about a rich man who had a manager, and the manager was using the man’s money for himself. The rich man discovered that the manager was wasting his money so he called him in and fired him. After telling this story, Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” If we make sure that we are honest in the small things, then we can be sure that we will be honest in the big things. If people know that they can trust us in small things, they will know that they can trust us in the big thing too.

    Dear Father, help us to remember what Jesus taught about honesty and help us to be honest in every situation – big or small. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

    November 18, 2011

    Thought of the Day

    Occupy your minds with good thoughts, or the enemy will fill them with bad ones. Unoccupied, they cannot be.

    -- St Thomas More

    November 10, 2011

    Homily: 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

    Father Rene Butler

     There’s an old joke about a little boy who noticed that his great-grandmother read the Bible constantly. One day he asked her why. She answered, “I’m cramming for finals!”

    There is plenty to make us anxious in today’s readings. Malachi prophesies doom for evildoers. Jesus says his followers will be. And why? “Because of my name.”

    Even family and friends will hand you over, everyone will hate you. And why? Again, “Because of my name.”

    But then Jesus says two strange things.

    1. In a time of persecution, don’t prepare your defense. Now any self-respecting “Law & Order” addict can tell you that you never go into a courtroom unprepared. Witnesses have to be prepped.

    2. Don’t worry. Jesus doesn’t say this in so many words, but he assures us that not a hair of our head will be destroyed. How can he maked such a claim?

    If we look back at the reading from Malachi, we read, “But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.” There’s that “name” again! In the King James translation, which is more literal, we find “there will arise the sun of justice with healing in his wings.” What a wonderful image of protection!

    So suppose we knew that the end was coming on December 21, 2012. How should we spend the next two years? Try to be extra good? Memorize the bible (cram for finals)? Just keep our nose clean, sit back and wait? St. Paul is very clear: keep on working!

    Do we need to live in fear? Well, yes and no. Not in fear of persecution that may or may not come. Not in fear of the end. But if we live in “fear of God’s name,” if the deepest abiding respect for God is the hallmark of our lives, we are assured that, no matter what happens, we have nothing to fear. Really.

    November 1, 2011

    Interview With An Unborn Child



    This haunting video talks about abortion throught the eyes of the unborn child. To think that this has been repeated over 53 million times since 1973. Oh what might have been...

    All Souls Day — 2011


    All SOULS DAY REFLECTION

    If you were to collect all the passages about death and the afterlife in the Bible, you would still not have a clear picture about what the experience of death is like or what we can expect life to be like after we have died. Obviously God has had no intention of revealing very much about these two basic experiences, even though humans have speculated and written much about them. Death is an impenetrable wall or abyss that exists between us and the afterlife, at least as our knowledge is concerned.

    We are, however, asked to reflect on what precedes and what follows the experience of death itself. With regard to what precedes death, we are encouraged to reflect on God's mercy and goodness, not on our failures, torments, and trials of the past. The prophet Jeremiah rejects the thoughts that bring despair, regret, and depression; instead he fills his heart with the positive qualities of God: "His mercies are not spent; they are renewed each morning."

    We ought to think these thoughts not just about ourselves but also about the deceased we commemorate. There is an ancient expression that advises us to "have only good thoughts about the dead." The feast of All Souls teaches us to approach death without fear and anxiety, but with confidence and hope for our own life beyond death and for those who have preceded us in death.

    October 20, 2011


    Let Us Pray

    Anima Christi

    This well known Catholic prayer dates to the early fourteenth century and was possibly written by Pope John XXII. Anima Christi means "the soul of Christ." It is popularly believed to have been composed by St. Ignatius Loyola who put it at the beginning of his "Spiritual Exercises." However, the prayer was in manuscripts written a hundred years before his birth.

    Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
    Body of Christ, save me.
    Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
    Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
    Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
    O Good Jesus, hear me.
    Within Thy wounds hide me.
    Suffer me not to be separated from thee.
    From the malignant enemy defend me.
    In the hour of my death call me.
    And bid me come unto Thee,
    That with all Thy saints,
    I may praise thee
    Forever and ever. Amen
    This prayer may be variously worded depending on its translation from the Latin.

    October 16, 2011

    Genesis - "In the beginning" Part II

    In our last post on Genesis we talked about how the sin of Adam had thrown everything out of balance. The world was no longer a temple as it was before. Man had literally fallen out of God's grace. He was now estranged from God though not entirely. God promises to send a redeemer to save man and defeat evil once and for all. (More on this in a later post.) Last but not least, man's relationship with man and with woman was forever transformed. Brother would fight against and kill brother. Marriage would no longer be predicated on love. Instead, the battle of the sexes had begun. This was not part of God's original plan but a consequence of original sin.

    "In the beginning," Adam was charged with protecting the Garden and everything in it - including Eve. Man was supposed to tend the Garden, reap its fruits and defend it against the very evil he would succumb to. Adam was standing next to Eve as the snake tempted her. The idea that a "mere garden snake" tempted man away from God is very misleading. The Hebrew word translated as snake in the book of Genesis is the same word used to describe fearsome monsters in other parts of the Old Testament.

    Adam was afraid. His first sin wasn't eating the fruit. It was failing to protect Eve.

    October 13, 2011

    Thought of the Day


    Concerning God, we cannot grasp what He is, but only what He is not, and how other beings stand in relation to Him.

    -- St. Thomas Aquinas

    October 11, 2011

    Act of Reparation to the Sacred Heart of Jesus

    O Sacred Heart of Jesus, animated with a desire to repair the outrages unceasingly offered to Thee, we prostrate before Thy throne of mercy, and in the name of all mankind, pledge our love and fidelity to Thee.

    The more Thy mysteries are blasphemed, the more firmly we shall believe them, O Sacred Heart of Jesus!

    The more impiety endeavors to extinguish our hope of immortality, the more we shall trust in Thy Heart, sole Hope of mankind!

    The more hearts resist Thy Divine attractions, the more we shall love Thee, O infinitely amiable Heart of Jesus!

    The more unbelief attacks Thy Divinity, the more humbly and profoundly we shall adore It, O Divine Heart of Jesus!

    The more Thy holy laws are transgressed and ignored, the more we shall delight to observe them, O most holy Heart of Jesus!

    The more Thy Sacraments are despised and abandoned, the more frequently we shall receive them with love and reverence, O most generous Heart of Jesus!

    The more the imitation of Thy virtues is neglected and forgotten, the more we shall endeavor to practice them, O Heart, model of every virtue!

    The more the devil labors to destroy souls, the more we shall be inflamed with desire to save them, O Heart of Jesus, zealous Lover of souls!

    The more sin and impurity destroy the image of God in man, the more we shall try by purity of life to be a living temple of the Holy Spirit, O Heart of Jesus!

    The more Thy Holy Church is despised, the more we shall endeavor to be her faithful children, O Sweet Heart of Jesus!

    The more Thy Vicar on earth is persecuted, the more will we honor him as the infallible head of Thy Holy Church, show our fidelity and pray for him, O  kingly Heart of Jesus!

    O Sacred Heart, through Thy powerful grace, may we become Thy apostles in the midst of a corrupted world, and be Thy crown in the kingdom of Heaven.  Amen.

    Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen's Prayer to our Lady of Guadalupe for the Unborn in Danger of Abortion


    When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice saying, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
    Prayer for the Unborn in Danger of Abortion

    Prayer for the unborn baby by Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen to our Lady of Guadalupe Intercessor for the Unborn
    Jesus Mary and Joseph;
    I love you very much,
    I beg you to spare the life
    of the unborn baby
    that I have spiritually adopted;
    who is in danger of abortion - Amen
    Say this prayer each day for one year and a child in danger of abortion will be saved.

    October 10, 2011

    St. Athanasius


    Thought of the Day

    Devils take great delight in fullness, and drunkeness, and bodily comfort.
    Fasting possesses great power and it works glorious things.
    To fast is to banquet with angels.

    -- St. Athanasius.

    October 8, 2011

    12 Claims Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer

    There is a tremendous article written by Deal Hudson entitled "12 Claims Every Catholic Should Be Able to Answer." He discusses answering questions like: “There’s no such thing as absolute truth. What’s true for you may not be true for me,” “Christianity is no better than any other faith. All religions lead to God,”and “The Old and New Testaments contradict one another in numerous places. If an omnipotent God inspired the Bible, He would never have allowed these errors,” among others.

    October 7, 2011

    Thought of the Day


    Our Lord and Savior lifted up his voice and said with incomparable majesty: "Let all men know that grace comes after tribulation. Let them know that without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace. Let them know that the gifts of grace increase as the struggles increase. Let men take care not to stray and be deceived. This is the only true stairway to paradise, and without the cross they can find no road to climb to heaven." When I heard these words, a strong force came upon me and seemed to place me in the middle of a street, so that I might say in a loud voice to people of every age, sex and status: "Hear, O people; hear, O nations. I am warning you about the commandment of Christ by using words that came from his own lips: We cannot obtain grace unless we suffer afflictions. We must heap trouble upon trouble to attain a deep participation in the divine nature, the glory of the sons of God and perfect happiness of soul."

    -- St. Rose of Lima

    October 6, 2011

    Review: The End and the Beginning -Pope John Paul II - The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy


    The End and the Beginning -Pope John Paul II - The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy

    In this sequel to Witness to Hope, author George Weigel, examines the beginning of John Paul II priestly life in the last months of his pontificate. What emerges in his portrayal is the resoluteness and personal courage of Karol Wojtyla in the face of great adversity and physical suffering. It is revealed that the harassment and internment of Catholic priests during the Nazi and Communist regimes in Poland were not lost on the young Wojtyla. As he began his priestly formation we learn how Communist authorities spied on Wojtyla as a rising star in the Catholic Church. Weigel outlines the future pope’s intellectual pursuits, the development of his thought, and the genesis of his growth into a world class philosopher. What shines through in this biography is the humility and fortitude that Wojtyla exhibited throughout his life.

    The End and the Beginning – John Paul II is a must read for any Catholic interested in the life of the late pontiff. I learned a great deal about John Paul that I did not know previous to reading the book. I was unaware of the extent to which he suffered physically. The sex abuse scandal that emerged in the United States and elsewhere was the source of much anguish and emotional suffering for John Paul as he sought to resolve the crisis. The adversity he faced as a underground seminarian and young priest are also chronicled in full. Wojtyla never wavered in the face of challenges or for fear of anguish, disappointment, or personal persecution.

    George Weigel is a brilliant Catholic thinker and writer. He brings Karol Wojtyla alive as someone who knew and was befriended by Wojtyla and as someone who studied John Paul’s life assiduously. Weigel weaves historically relevant background information into his narrative. He places John Paul’s thought, actions, and papacy in their historical context. The love of John Paul for his fellow human beings is evident throughout the End and the Beginning. The future John Paul II was a saint from the very beginning.   

    This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. To find more information on The End and the Beginning - Pope John PauL II visit The Catholic Company. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible

    Thought of the Day


    O Catholic Church, true mother of Christians, you are right in teaching that God should be adored with an entirely chaste and pure heart. You unite all brothers and sisters to one another in a bond of religion that is stronger and closer than ties of blood.

    -- St. Augustine

    Video: The Dream 2010 (Watch/Share!)

    H/T to the American Papist for alerting me to this video. It encourages all citizens especailly Catholics to get involved in the political process and to vote their conscience on issues concerning life.

    October 5, 2011

    October is Our Lady of the Rosary Month

    Our Lady Of The Holy Rosary Novena Prayer

    My dearest Mother Mary, behold me, your child, in prayer at your feet. Accept this Holy Rosary, which I offer you in accordance with your requests at Fatima, as a proof of my tender love for you, for the intentions of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in atonement for the offenses committed against your Immaculate Heart, and for this special favor which I earnestly request in my Rosary Novena: (Mention your request).

    I beg you to present my petition to your Divine Son. If you will pray for me, I cannot be refused. I know, dearest Mother, that you want me to seek God?s holy Will concerning my request. If what I ask for should not be granted, pray that I may receive that which will be of greater benefit to my soul.

    I offer you this spiritual Bouquet of Roses because I love you. I put all my confidence in you, since your prayers before God are most powerful. For the greater glory of God and for the sake of Jesus, your loving Son, hear and grant my prayer. Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.

    October 2, 2011

    Oct 2: Feast of Guardian Angels


    This is the traditional Catholic prayer to one's guardian angel.

    Angel of God, my guardian dear
    to whom God's love commits me here.
    Ever this day/night be at my side
    to light, to guard, to rule and guide.
    Amen.

    Whether guardian angels attend each and every person is not consistently believed or upheld by the Church Fathers in Christian thought, and hence is not an "article of faith", although the concept is clearly seen in both the Old and New Testaments. According to St. Jerome the concept is in the "mind of the Church" and he stated that: "how great the dignity of the soul, since each one has from his birth an angel commissioned to guard it."

    The first Christian theologian to outline a specific scheme for guardian angels was Honorius of Autun in the 12th century. He said that every soul was assigned a guardian angel the moment it was put into a body. Scholastic theologians augmented and ordered the taxonomy of angelic guardians. Thomas Aquinas agreed with Honorius and believed that it was the lowest order of angels who served as guardians, and his view was most successful in popular thought, but Duns Scotus said that any angel might accept the mission.

    Centuries later, in his 1997 Regina Caeli address, Pope John Paul II referred to the concept of guardian angel twice, and concluded the address with the statement: "Let us invoke the Queen of angels and saints, that she may grant us, supported by our guardian angels, to be authentic witnesses to the Lord's paschal mystery".

    October 1, 2011

    Pope admits 'no answer to suffering' in TV interview



    More than 3,000 questions were submitted after the initiative was announced a month ago, of which seven were chosen and put to the 84-year-old pontiff.

    The Pope, speaking from his office in the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican, admitted there was no answer to why humans have to suffer as he responded to a question from a seven-year-old Japanese girl who was caught up in the tsunami. She asked why so many children had to suffer in natural calamities.

    "I ask myself the same question," the Pope said. "We don't have the answers, but we know that Jesus suffered as innocent children suffer."

    September 27, 2011

    Thought of the Day

    If we possessed every virtue, but lacked humility, those virtues would be without root and would not last.
    -- St. Vincent de Paul

    September 26, 2011

    180 the Movie: Go From Pro-Choice to Pro-Life in Six Seconds



    While skeptics of 180 say they can't believe anyone would change his or her mind so quickly, Ray Comfort accepts and even understands their disbelief, stating that he could hardly believe it himself when he first viewed the footage in the editing room. Initially, 180 was not the film he meant to produce. At the time, Comfort was taping interviews for a DVD to go along with a book on Hitler and the holocaust. In the course of the interviews, one question led to another, and the discussion led to abortion. Comfort explains, "It began with two male university students completely changing their minds about abortion when we asked them this one question. We realized it wouldn't be convincing to have only males speaking on the subject, so we took to the streets, asking that one particular question, and found that six women changed their minds from pro-abortion to pro-life in a matter of seconds. It was amazing!"

    Comfort quickly recognized the film's potential to open the doors of discussion. "I have held up pro-life signs. I have printed pro-life literature and spoken against abortion in pulpits and in my books, but I have felt that all my efforts were almost futile -- that is, up until now. In 180 we have a nation changer."

    Comfort adds, "Most of us know that we should be doing something to stop this horror, but the thought of protesting is a little unnerving, especially with the demonization of those who do so. But here is something each of us can easily do -- we can give this DVD out. We can pass them out on the streets, leave copies on park benches or on seats in malls or give it to the checkout lady at the supermarket. This isn't hard to do, and it will save lives -- perhaps millions of lives."

    A MORNING PRAYER WRITTEN BY ST. THERESE


    O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

    O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.

    Amen.

    September 23, 2011

    Prayer For Those with Profound Disabilities

    Lord Jesus Christ,

    You know the pain of brokenness, You took our weaknesses upon Your shoulders and bore it to the wood of the cross. Hear our prayers for our brothers and sisters whose bodies fail them and whose minds are crippled by the ravages of disease. Implant a love for them deep within our hearts, that we, disfigured and disabled by our sin, may treasure and nuture the gifts of their lives. May we find You in their weakness, and console You in our care for them. For You are Lord, forever and ever.

    Amen

    September 22, 2011

    Thought of the Day


    For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.

    - Saint Therese of Lisieux

    September 18, 2011

    Parallels Between Abortion & Slavery

    Slavery in centuries past and abortions in this century were defended and promoted by the same arguments. Consider the case in the USA: In 1857, in the Dred Scott case, the US Supreme Court decided, by a 7 to 2 majority, that according to the US Constitution, black people were not legal persons. They were the property of the owner. He could buy, or sell, or even kill them. Abolitionists had objected. The ruling was outrageous, they said. It was immoral and discriminated against an entire class of living persons solely on the basis of skin color. But those who supported slavery argued that if those who had a moral objection to slavery, didn't have to own slaves. No one was forcing them to own slaves. But they also said: "Don't force your morality on the slave owner. He has the right to choose to own slaves if he wishes."

    In a very similar decision just over one hundred years later, in 1973, in the Roe vs Wade Decision, the US Supreme Court decided that according to the US Constitution, by the same 7 to 2 majority, that unborn people were not legal persons. They had no civil rights, no human rights and were therefore, legally the property of the owner (the mother). She had the absolute legal right to keep or destroy her unborn baby. Pro-life people objected. The ruling was outrageous, they said. It was immoral and discriminated against an entire class of living people solely on the basis of age (too young) and place of residence (the womb). But those who support abortion argue that those who have a moral objection to abortion, don't have to have abortions. The pro-abortionists say: "No one is fordcing you to have an abortion. But don't force your morality on the mother. She has a right to choose to kill her developing baby if she wishes."

    Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century said: "No one has the right to do what is wrong."

    This country has just ended discrimination based on race. Are we now going to start discrimination on the basis of age? Saying:"I'm older than you, I'm bigger than you, I have a voice - therefore I can kill you."

    Jesus Christ is the Perfect Self-Knowledge of the Father

    God’s perfection is to exist. This doesn’t sound very impressive until we consider the opposite of existence. Something that exists is more perfect than the mere conceptualization of that thing. Before Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa he envisioned it in his mind. What resulted from his creative powers and artistry continues to fascinate, inspiring legions of impersonators, and bring joy to beholders. Had he not painted it his masterpiece would have disappeared along with his imagination. The Mona Lisa hanging in the Louvre is superior in every way to the unrealized concept.

    As the perfection of all that is, God the Father’s knowledge of Himself is perfect. The perfect self-knowledge of the Father exists. It is God the Son. Since Jesus is the perfect self-knowledge of the Father, the Person of Christ has always existed. God the Father and God the Son have no beginning and no end, a truth acknowledged in the Nicene Creed:
    We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
    the only Son of God,
    eternally begotten of the Father,
    God from God, Light from Light,
    true God from true God,
    begotten, not made, one in Being with the Father.

    Top Ten Reasons to be Catholic


    This is my top ten reasons to be Catholic list. There are of course many more reasons which you are free to add in the comments section.

    1. the Eucharist
    2. the Trinity - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
    3  the other sacraments - Baptism, Confession, Confirmation, Marriage, Holy Orders,   Annointing of the Sick
    4. the Communion of Saints
    5. the Pope
    6. the Magisterium
    7. the Blessed Virgin Mary
    8. Purgatory
    9. Guardian Angels
    10. Divine Mercy, the rosary, and other sacramentals

    Thought of the Day

    "Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;" (Isaiah 5:20)

    September 16, 2011

    Amarillo Diocese Affirms Fr. Pavone’s Good Standing and Character

    In case you were wondering, here's the latest on the Fr. Pavone situation including a letter from the Vicar of clergy from the diocese of Amarillo.

    September 15, 2011

    September 13, 2011

    Thought of the Day


    Christianity is a religion of the Word, not of a book. The Word is a Person - Jesus Christ. He is God’s "final word" on everything.

    Father Pavone suspended from ministry outside Amarillo Diocese

    Catholic News Agency has all the details.

    A Day in the Life of the Pope

    Have you ever wondered what a typical day is like for Pope Benedict XVI? Andrea Tornielli provides us with a basic run through his typical day, complete with what he generally eats for breakfast.

    H/T Servant and Steward

    What is the difference between contraception and natural family planning?

    Contraception causes a lie with the body, a departure from the gift of self, damaging the intimacy of husband and wife. No method of contraception is 100% effective to date. Different forms of contraception can invite selfish behaviour into the marital act and opens the door to greater infidelity. The real problem behind women's oppression is the failure of men to treat them with dignity and respect. In this light, contraception is a sure way to keep women in chains.

    Contraception interrupts, sterilizes and works against conception whereas NFP respects the body as God designed it and works with this plan. NFP is a method that is highly reliable, medically safe and inexpensive. The discovery of understanding how the body works is a marvellous act of self-discovery. NFP treats fertility not as something to be suppressed of manipulated, but as a normal bodily function. NFP encourages a shared responsibility for fertility. This normally leads to a deeper level of care and respect in a relationship.

    NFP also respects the design of the human body, leading to deeper communication and intimacy. This helps to build self-respect and self-worth. In the words of Pope Paul VI, NFP, "Favours attention for one's partner, helps both parties to drive out selfishness, the enemy of true love, and deepens their sense of responsibility." (Encyclical Letter, Humanae Vitae n. 21). NFP couples are less likely to divorce, be more receptive to children and they renew their wedding vows each time they practice the marital act.

    September 11, 2011

    Ten Years After...

    O God of love, compassion, and healing,
    look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
    who gather today at this site,
    the scene of incredible violence and pain.

    We ask you in your goodness
    to give eternal light and peace
    to all who died here—
    the heroic first-responders:
    our fire fighters, police officers,
    emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
    along with all the innocent men and women
    who were victims of this tragedy
    simply because their work or service
    brought them here on September 11, 2001.

    We ask you, in your compassion
    to bring healing to those
    who, because of their presence here that day,
    suffer from injuries and illness.
    Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
    and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
    Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.

    We are mindful as well
    of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
    on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
    Our hearts are one with theirs
    as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.

    God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
    peace in the hearts of all men and women
    and peace among the nations of the earth.
    Turn to your way of love
    those whose hearts and minds
    are consumed with hatred.

    God of understanding,
    overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
    we seek your light and guidance
    as we confront such terrible events.
    Grant that those whose lives were spared
    may live so that the lives lost here
    may not have been lost in vain.
    Comfort and console us,
    strengthen us in hope,
    and give us the wisdom and courage
    to work tirelessly for a world
    where true peace and love reign
    among nations and in the hearts of all.

    - Pope Benedict XVI
    20 April 2008, at Ground Zero

    Why does the Church teach that contraception is wrong?

    Contraception is not considered wrong by the Church because of its artificial nature. After all, there is nothing morally illicit about paracetamol or vitamins. The purpose of medicine is to help the body work in the correct way. Contraception does not help the body to function properly: It does exactly the opposite. Some methods of contraception, such as the oral contraceptive pill, are also an abortifacient. This means that they can cause early induced abortion at the beginning of a pregnancy. The God given purpose of sex is babies and bonding. Contraception divides these purposes in two.

    Why save sex until marriage?

    Sexual intercourse is so marvellous, beautiful and sacred that it is worth saving this incredible gift for the purpose that it was intended: for babies and bonding within marriage.

    For those who will be married one day, it’s captivating to know your future spouse is somewhere out there. What would you want that person to be doing? Would you want them to be waiting to give you themselves and their love? To embrace purity and save sex until marriage enhances the ultimate “yes” to sex when married. If it was not possible to say “no,” how valuable would our “yes” be worth?

    Purity can bring self-respect, shows your respect to others and also brings a clear conscience. It enhances your chances of experiencing romance without regret, avoiding sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancies. The decision to wait means not being haunted by past sexual relationships when you are physically intimate with your spouse.

    The decision to live a pure life strongly reduces the chances of experiencing the emotional pain of being used, rejected or discarded by a person you have given the most intimate part of yourself. Abstinence decreases the chances of divorce later in life. It helps you know that you are giving your spouse the total gift of self, something that has never been given to another. Real love desires what is best for the other. Abstinence proves commitment to your future spouse and helps you to live in integrity and joy.

    September 9, 2011

    Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King

    A partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, who piously recite the Act of Dedication of the Human Race to Jesus Christ King. A plenary indulgence is granted, if it is recited publicly on the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ King.

    Most sweet Jesus, Redeemer of the human race, look down upon us humbly prostrate before you. We are yours, and yours we wish to be; but to be more surely united with you, behold each one of us freely consecrates himself today to your Most Sacred Heart.

    Many indeed have never known you; many, too, despising your precepts, have rejected you. Have mercy on them all, most merciful Jesus, and draw them to your Sacred Heart.

    Be King, O Lord, not only of the faithful who have never forsaken you, but also of the prodigal children who have abandoned you; grant that they may quickly return to their Father’s house, lest they die of wretchedness and hunger.

    Be King of those who are deceived by erroneous opinions, or whom discord keeps aloof, and call them back to the harbor of truth and the unity of faith, so that soon there may be but one flock and one Shepherd.

    Grant, O Lord, to your Church assurance of freedom and immunity from harm; give tranquility of order to all nations; make the earth resound from pole to pole with one cry: Praise to the divine Heart that wrought our salvation; to it be glory and honor for ever. Amen.

    Prayer Source: Enchiridion of Indulgences , June 29, 1968

    September 8, 2011

    Overcoming Anxiety With Christ

    Do you often deal with anxiety? Are you consumed with worry? You can learn to manage these emotions by understanding what the Bible says about them. In his book, Truth Seeker-Straight Talk from the Bible, Warren Mueller studies the keys in God’s Word to overcoming your struggles with anxiety and worry.

    Anxiety (Worry)

    All of one’s lives are full of many concerns stemming from the absence of certainty and control over our future. While we can never be completely free from worry, the Bible shows us how to minimize worry and anxiety in our lives. Philippians 4:6-7 says don not worry about anything, but with prayer and supplication and thanksgiving make your requests known to God and then the peace of God will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

    Believers are commanded to pray about life’s worries. These prayers are to be more than requests for favorable answers. They are to include thanksgiving and praise along with the needs. Praying in this way reminds us of the many blessings God continually gives us whether we ask or not. This reminds us of God’s great love for us and that He knows and does what is best for us.

    A Sense of Security in Jesus

    Worry is proportional to our sense of security. When life is going as planned and we feel safe in our life routines, then worries subside. Likewise, worry increases when we feel threatened, insecure or are overly focused on and committed to the result. 1 Peter 5:7 says cast your cares upon Jesus because He cares for you. The practice of believers is to take our worries to Jesus in prayer and leave them with Him. This reinforces our dependence on, and faith in Jesus.

    Recognize a Wrong Focus

    Worries increase when we become focused on the things of this world. Jesus said the treasures of this world are subject to decay and can be taken away but heavenly treasures are secure (Matthew 6:19). Therefore, set your priorities on God and not on money (Matthew 6:24). Man worries about such things as having food and clothes but is given life by God. God provides life, without which the concerns of life are meaningless.

    Worry can cause ulcers and mental problems that can have destructive health effects that shorten life. No amount of worry will add even one hour to one’s life (Matthew 6:27) Therefore, why worry? The Bible teaches that we should deal with each day’s problems when they occur and not be obsessed with future concerns that man not happen (Matthew 6:34).

    Focus on Jesus

    In Luke 10:38-42, Jesus visits the house of the sisters Martha and Mary. Martha was busy with many details regarding making Jesus and his disciples comfortable. Mary, on the other hand, was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what he said. Martha complained to Jesus that Mary should be busy helping but Jesus told Martha that “…your are worried and anxious about many things , but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

    What is this one thing that freed Mary from the business and worries experienced by her sister? Mary chose to focus on Jesus, listen to Him and ignore the immediate demands of hospitality. I do not believe that Mary was being irresponsible, rather she wanted to experience and learn from Jesus first and later, when He was done speaking, she would fulfill her duties. Mary had her priorities straight. Put God first and He will free us from worries and take care of the rest of our concerns.

    Support the National Organization for Marriage

    Here's the NOM blog with all the info:
    Here are their Facebook and Twitter pages:

    Here's the scoop:

    NOM gets a $1 donation for every like on Facebook, Follow on Twitter,
    or text message signup.

    Step 1. Like NOM on Facebook! and earn NOM $1.
    Step 2. Follow NOM on Twitter!
    Step 3. Sign up for NOM's SMS Text Alerts, becoming a part of our
    instant action army! Just text "1M1W" to 96362.
    Step 4.Tell your friends! By sharing this email with just 10 friends,
    you can help raise up to $30 to protect marriage across the nation.

    H/T Mark Shea

    We Are Catholic


    Inspiring video. Check it out.

    September 6, 2011

    F.Y.I. Ave Maria Radio

    There is an excellent radio station streeming online at http://www.avemariaradio.net/ for faithful Catholics and seeking Christians. I highly recommend this site and the programing it offers. Listen today and support it financally if you can.

    September 4, 2011

    Living the Gospel of Life

    How does one live the gospel of life in the hussel and bussel of everyday life? Was it easier for Mary and Joseph who had Christ in their midst? I think if we contemplate the life of the Holy Family we find that the answer is no. They had their own crosses and sufferings as much because of Jesus.

    As with the Holy Family, we suffer difficulties and challenges of all types. The first thing to remember is that suffering redounds to our eternal good. Just as Christ's passion and death produced a weight of incomparable glory for all humanity. We can unite our suffering with Christ's on the cross, as members of his body here on earth. Thus, even our sufferings and misfortune can advance the Kingdom of God and give glory to his name.

    But as we all know, life is more than suffering. Living the gospel of life means keeping God first and foremost. We must never forget that in body and mind we are temples of the Holy Spirit. Everyone we interact with is a child of God as are we. In everything we say and do we must be a light to the world. This means acting as Christ would act.

    Speaking of Christ, being with Him had its pitfalls but it had to have its joys as well. Do we radiate joy to others in our lives? Do we inspire hope and love in others? These are just a few thoughts to contemplate.  

    Prayer of John Paul II for Life

    O Mary,
    bright dawn of the new world,
    Mother of the living,
    to you do we entrust the cause of life:
    Look down, O Mother,
    upon the vast numbers
    of babies to be born,
    of the poor whose lives are made difficult,
    of men and women
    who are victims of brutal violence,
    of the elderly and the sick killed
    by indifference or out of misguided mercy.
    Grant that all who believe in your Son
    may proclaim the Gospel of life
    with honesty and love
    to the people of our time.
    Obtain for them the grace
    to accept that Gospel
    as a gift ever new,
    the joy of celebrating it with gratitude
    throughout their lives
    and the courage to bear witness to it
    resolutely, in order to build,
    together with all people of good will,
    the civilization of truth and love,
    to the praise and glory of God,
    the Creator and lover of life.


    Pope John Paul II
    Encyclical Letter "The Gospel of Life"
    Given in Rome, on March 25, the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, in the year 1995.

    August 30, 2011

    What are the Historical Roots of the Mass?

    In Spain, Pope Calls Young People To Express True Love in Marriage

    Pope Benedict XVI warned in a speech to more than one million pilgrims in Madrid that marriage is between a man and a woman and cannot be dissolved.... "The Lord calls many people to marriage, in which a man and a woman, in becoming one flesh, find fulfilment in a profound life of communion," he told the young pilgrims.
     
     
     A Vatican spokesman said on Sunday as many as 1.5 million pilgrims had gathered to hear the pope. Marriage was a project for true love, deepened by sharing joys and sorrows, and marked by "complete self-giving", said the pope.
      
    "For this reason, to acknowledge the beauty and goodness of marriage is to realize that only a setting of fidelity and indissolubility, along with an openness to God's gift of live, is adequate to the grandeur and dignity of marital love."

    World Youth Day 211


    We are Catholic because our religion is one of love, the one, true Church that Christ established, whose joy and strength is manifest in her youth, as in all her members.

    August 28, 2011

    Blessed Mother Teresa Novena


    (From Priests For Life)

    Mother Teresa was called from this world on September 5, 1997. As we approach the anniversary of her death, I invite you to say this special prayer each day:

    Father of Life, You always defend the poor and oppressed. In Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, You raised up a voice for the voiceless and a friend to the poorest of the poor, the unborn child. She brought women away from the despair of abortion clinics to the hope of a loving community that cared for her and her child.

    She spoke the truth to men and women of power, asking them how we could tell people not to kill one another while allowing a mother to kill her own child.

    Father, as we honor this humble and faithful woman, we ask you to give us the grace to follow her example. May we be bold in word and generous in action to love and serve the unborn and to awaken our world to know, as Mother Teresa said, that the greatest destroyer of love and peace is abortion.

    Fill us with love, bring us peace, and let us share your life forever. We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.

    August 21, 2011

    Pray for World Youth Day and Receive an Indulgence

    World Youth Day 2011 runs from August 16 through August 21 in Madrid, Spain. Pope Benedict XVI will arrive on Thursday, August 18, and will celebrate a special public Mass on August 21.

    While tens of thousands of young people from around the world are expected to converge on Madrid, many, many more are not able to attend. But now they, and indeed all Catholics, can participate spiritually in World Youth Day, and receive an indulgence for doing so.

    On August 11, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict has authorized two indulgences, one plenary and one partial, for those who take part in World Youth Day (WYD). According to the official WYD site,

    •The plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who devotedly participate at some sacred function or pious exercise taking place during the XXVI World Youth Day in Madrid, including its solemn conclusion, so that, having received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and being truly repentant, they receive Holy Communion, and devoutly pray according to intentions of His Holiness.

    •The partial indulgence is granted to the faithful, wherever they are during the above-mentioned WYD, if, with a contrite spirit, they will raise their prayer to God the Holy Spirit, so that young people are drawn to charity and given the strength to proclaim the Gospel with their life.

    So, while those who participate directly in World Youth Day can receive a plenary indulgence (full remission of the temporal punishment for their sins), any Catholic in a state of grace who is repentant of his sins and offers a prayer to the Holy Spirit on behalf of those participating in World Youth Day can receive a partial indulgence.

    It's a wonderful opportunity for those of us stuck at home during World Youth Day. You can take advantage of it by praying one of these prayers to the Holy Spirit, or by offering a prayer in your own words.

    Pope tells 1.5 million youngsters to spread gospel at world youth day

    Pope Benedict urged 1.5 million young Catholics at a Sunday mass in an aerodrome near Madrid to spread the gospel to others seeking better values than modern society offers.

    "We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him know to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith," he said in a sermon as part of the activities of the Roman Catholic Church's World Youth Day.

    The pope, closing a four-day trip to Spain which has been marked by protests, told pilgrims from around 190 countries that they have been given "the extraordinary task" of being missionaries of Christ in other countries filled with young people looking for better values.

    "And, because their heart tells them that more authentic values do exist, they do not let themselves be seduced by the empty promises of a lifestyle which has no room for God."

    Hundreds of thousands of young people, bearing flags from their countries and wearing hats to protect themselves from the sun, prayed, applauded and cheered during the service.

    The pope read his sermon seated on a white throne under a stylized golden tree, with Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia looking on. A choir and orchestra dressed in blue and adorned with white lilies accompanied the mass.

    PRAYER VIGIL

    Benedict led a prayer vigil at the Cuatro Vientos aerodrome on Saturday evening, but heavy rain prevented him from reading a prepared speech in which he had made a veiled criticism of Spain's legalization of gay marriages and abortion.

    An electric storm followed a day of sweltering heat in Madrid, and wind during the night damaged tents, injuring seven people, emergency services said.

    Emergency services helped more than 1,500 young people during Saturday's vigil, most with heat-related complaints.

    But hundreds of thousands again packed the aerodrome on Sunday to join the Mass, the highlight of the WYD jamboree.

    "When you're at home you just think you're alone in your faith, but when you pray with over a million people it just changes things," said Katharina Eisen, 18, from Germany.

    The cost of the pope's trip to Madrid has angered some Spaniards struggling with recession and high unemployment. Heavy security has surrounded the pontiff, with roads cut off to traffic and thousands of police on the streets.

    World Youth Day organizers say the pope's visit costs the taxpayer nothing. Critics have put the cost at about 100 million euros, mainly in security expenses.

    Benedict's trip has reignited criticism by Los Indignados (The Indignant Ones), a group whose mainly young members occupied Madrid's Puerta del Sol square in May to protest against high unemployment and government spending cuts.

    (Reporting by Judy MacInnes and Sonya Dowsett; additional reporting by Brenton Cordeiro; editing by Alistair Lyon)