Chicago, Ill., Feb 26, 2012 (CNA) -
"Catholicism," the popular 10-part series written and hosted by Father Robert Barron, is being donated to all facets of the Catholic faith communities in the U.S. military across the world by Word on Fire Catholic Ministries.
More than 450 sets of the documentary are being sent to support military priests, chaplains and lay leaders serving the pastoral needs of those on ships, deployed overseas, in V.A. medical centers and on U.S. Military installations around the world.
"The 'Catholicism' series provides an effective opportunity to engage active duty young adults in the Catholic faith,” said Mark Moitoza, the Vice Chancellor for Evangelization at the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.
“We estimate that there are about 300,000 Catholic young adults in the military and our archdiocese recently has been making a concerted effort to reach out to these young men and women serving our country."
In this sweeping documentary, Father Barron tells the story of Catholicism around the world using art, architecture, literature, music and all the riches of the Catholic tradition. The production crew travels to some of the most magnificent and sacred sites around the globe.
"The 'Catholicism' series is not just a documentary about the Church but a means of instilling faith, hope, and love, especially for those, like the members of the military, who might be separated from loved ones or find themselves immersed in the most difficult of circumstances,” said Father Barron.
“It is my hope that this gift will serve as a sign of the Church's comfort and care for all the men and women who serve their country."
Vice Chancellor Moitoza said the series highlights the beauty and impact of the Catholic faith around the world.
“Many in the military have the opportunity to visit these museums, shrines and historical places which shape one’s understanding of what it means to be a disciple in the world today,” he added.
“'Catholicism' is a great way for people to find a home in their faith."
Public television stations across the country including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia have aired over 1500 episodes of the series, and it is also airing on EWTN.
As the nation’s only archdiocese without geographical boundaries, the Archdiocese for Military Services endorses priests for on-site ministry at more than 200 locations throughout the country and around the world. It serves Catholics and their families in the U.S. armed forces, V.A. medical centers and overseas civilian posts.
Worldwide, an estimated 1.5 million Catholics depend on these priests to serve their spiritual and sacramental needs.
Washington D.C., Feb 26, 2012 (CNA) -
A pastoral initiative in the nation's capital this Lent will encourage Catholics to experience God’s love and mercy through the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
“Lent is a time to heal,” said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
The cardinal announced that his archdiocese will once again take part in a penance campaign known as “The Light is On for You” and will be joined by the faithful of Arlington.
All Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Arlington will be open for Confessions and silent prayer every Wednesday during the season of Lent from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
In an online video, Cardinal Wuerl discussed the campaign as an opportunity for the faithful to deepen their relationship with Christ by uniting themselves to his merciful love, which “absolves us from our faults.”
He invited all Catholics, especially those who have fallen away from the Church or the Sacrament of Penance, to experience “a renewal of spirit through the gift of confession.”
The campaign, which has become an archdiocesan tradition, originally started in 2007. Other dioceses across the U.S. and Canada have introduced similar efforts based on it.
The initiative’s website, www.thelightison.org, offers resources including a guide to confession, examinations of conscience and frequently asked questions about the sacrament.
“The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the story of God’s love that never turns away from us,” said Bishop Paul S. Loverde of Arlington in a video explaining the Lenten campaign.
The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a “tangible instrument” that allows us to truly “experience” God’s forgiveness, he said.
Through the sacrament, we can “experience God’s love that heals us, forgives us, strengthens us and sets us free,” he explained.
The bishop urged Catholics not to fear that their sins are too horrendous for God to forgive.
“His love is bigger than all the sins of humanity put together,” he stressed, adding that the priest will help those who do not remember how to go to confession.
Bishop Loverde pointed to examples of Christ’s mercy in the Scriptures, including the parable of the prodigal son, the forgiveness of the woman caught in adultery and the promise to the repentant thief on the cross.
God will also forgive our sins if we come before him with “an open heart” and desire to do better, he said.
He urged those who have fallen away from the sacrament to “come back home” and allow this Lent to be “a new springtime” for all members of the Church.
Denver, Colo., Feb 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On March 4, the Catholic Church honors Saint Casimir Jagiellon, a prince whose life of service to God has made him a patron saint of Poland, Lithuania, and young people.
In 1984, Pope John Paul II addressed Lithuanian pilgrims commemorating the 500th anniversary of the prince's death. He said the Church “proclaimed Casimir a saint and placed him before us not only to be venerated but also that we might imitate his heroic virtues and follow his example of holiness.”
“His witness of great faith and fervent piety continues to have special meaning for us today,” the Pope said, noting especially the “challenging call” he offers to young people.
“His life of purity and prayer beckons you to practice your faith with courage and zeal, to reject the deceptive attractions of modern permissive society, and to live your convictions with fearless confidence and joy.”
Casimir Jagiellon was born in 1458, the third of thirteen children born to Poland's King Casimir IV and his wife Elizabeth of Austria. He and several of his brothers studied with the priest and historian John Dlugosz, whose deep piety and political expertise influenced Casimir in his upbringing.
The young prince had a distaste for the luxury of courtly life, and instead chose the way of asceticism and devotion. He wore plain clothes with a hair shirt beneath them, slept frequently on the ground, and would spend much of the night in prayer and meditation on the suffering and death of Christ.
Casimir showed his love for God through these exercises of devotion, and also through his material charity to the poor. He was known as a deeply compassionate young man who felt others' pains acutely.
The young prince was only 13 years old when his father was asked by the Hungarians to offer his son as their new king. Casimir was eager to aid the Hungarians in their defense against the Turks, and went to be crowned. This plan was unsuccessful, however, and he was forced to return to Poland.
After his return Casimir resumed his studies with Dlugosz, while developing a canny grasp of politics by observing his father's rule. In 1479 the king left Poland to attend to state business in Lithuania, leaving Prince Casimir in charge of the realm between 1481 and 1483.
Advisers to the prince joined his father in trying to convince Casimir to marry. But he preferred to remain single, focusing his life on the service of God and the good of his people.
After experiencing symptoms of tuberculosis, Casimir foresaw his death and prepared for it by deepening his devotion to God. He died en route to Lithuania on March 4, 1484, and was buried with a copy of a Marian hymn he frequently recited. Pope Adrian VI canonized him in 1522.
Five centuries after his death, Pope John Paul II recalled how St. Casimir “embraced a life of celibacy, submitted himself humbly to God’s will in all things, devoted himself with tender love to the Blessed Virgin Mary and developed a fervent practice of adoring Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament.”
“To all,” the Pope said, “he was a shining example of poverty and of sacrificial love for the poor and needy.”
Vatican City, Feb 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Christ’s 40 days in the desert teach Christians that temptations can be overcome in life if we stay close to Jesus, Pope Benedict XVI said Feb. 26.
“Man is never wholly free from the temptation... but with patience and true humility we become stronger than any enemy,” the Pope said in his Sunday Angelus address, quoting Thomas à Kempis’ famous 15th century devotional work “The Imitation of Christ.”
The Pope addressed thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on the first Sunday of Lent, giving a reflection on St. Mark’s Gospel account of Christ’s forty days in the desert when he was tempted by Satan.
Pope Benedict, citing his fifth century predecessor St. Leo the Great, suggested that Jesus “willingly suffered the attack of the tempter to defend us with his help and to teach us by his example.”
The desert can be a place of “abandonment and loneliness” where temptation becomes stronger, he said. However, it can also indicate “a place of refuge and shelter, as it was for the people of Israel who escaped from slavery in Egypt.” The desert is a place “where we can experience the presence of God in a special way.”
The patience and humility required to defeat “the enemy” come by following Christ every day and from “learning to build our life not outside of him or as if he did not exist, but in him and with him, because he is the source of true life,” the Pope continued.
In contrast to this is the temptation “to remove God, to order our lives and the world on our own, relying solely on our own abilities.”
This is why in Jesus “God speaks to man in an unexpected way, with a unique and concrete closeness, full of love,” because God has now become incarnate and “enters the world of man to take sin upon himself, to overcome evil and bring man back into the world of God.”
In return for this “great gift” Jesus asks that each person “repent and believe in the Gospel.”
This request, explained the Pope, is “an invitation to have faith in God and to convert our lives each day to his will, directing all our actions and thoughts towards good.”
Lent is the perfect season to do this, he concluded, as it provides the ideal opportunity to “renew and strengthen our relationship with God” through daily prayer, acts of penance, and works of fraternal charity.
The Pope prayed that the Blessed Virgin Mary accompany and protect each pilgrim on his or her Lenten journey. He also asked for prayers for himself and for the Roman curia as they begin a seven-day Lenten retreat starting Sunday evening.
Santiago, Chile, Feb 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati of Santiago, Chile announced this Saturday that he has canonically erected a new female association of consecrated life with a group of women who recently left Regnum Christi, the lay association linked to the Legionaries of Christ.
Archbishop Ezzati’s “foundational canonical act” created the new public association Totus Tuus in his private chapel on Feb. 22, the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the archbishop’s statement released to Catholic News Agency reports. The archbishop was accompanied by Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz, the group of women founders, and the archbishop’s personal secretary Fr. Jose Antonio Varas.
The founders are “women who traveled from eight different countries in Europe and America, including Malén Oriol, until recently Assistant General of the Consecrated of Regnum Christi,” the statement said.
Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati said he consulted the Holy See regarding the opportunity to create the Association Totus Tuus and received the “favorable opinion” of Pope Benedict XVI.
The archbishop was one of the five visitors the Pope appointed to investigate the troubled Legion of Christ between 2009 and 2010.
The name Totus Tuus, Latin for “All Yours,” is taken from Bl. John Paul II’s papal coat of arms. It refers to the full consecration to Mary.
Archbishop Ezzati has appointed Cardinal Errazuriz “to accompany the Community Totus Tuus during its first year of life.”
Cardinal Errazuriz, the Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago, has extensive experience in the field of consecrated life. He was Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life between 1990 and 1996.
On Feb. 14, Regnum Christi officially announced that Malén Oriol, the assistant for consecrated life to the General Director, sent a letter to all the consecrated women announcing that she had presented her resignation to Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.
In her letter, she mentioned that some consecrated women have asked the Holy See for permission to live out their consecration not as members of the Regnum Christi movement but under the authority of a bishop.
“As of yet, Malén has not clarified if she intends to form part of this new group,” the Regnum Christi statement said.
“We don’t yet have details of this initiative, but we wish them all the best in their new endeavor and pray that they will be blessed with great success in their spiritual growth and service to the Church,” the statement said.
The Legion of Christ has faced significant Vatican scrutiny after revelations that its founder, Fr. Marcel Maciel, led a double life.