Archive of May 5, 2013

NHL referee a gatekeeper for fair play

Denver, Colo., May 5, 2013 (CNA) - If you’re a hockey fan and you don’t know who Denny LaRue is, that just means that he has been doing a good job.

While the name might sound familiar to close followers of the game, it’s likely due to his having been a referee in the National Hockey League for more than 20 years now, as opposed to a player or coach who becomes recognized by being in the headlines.

“While we (on-ice officials) don’t get or crave the spotlight, it’s rewarding to know you’ve contributed in a meaningful way,” LaRue says.

Regardless of the sport, being a referee or umpire is a humble choice because it means that one isn’t seeking the limelight.  This is consistent with the lesson in the Catholic faith that this life isn’t about us, it’s about God.  LaRue feels that officiating is a role for sports enthusiasts to give strong consideration to in place of trying to achieve star status.

“It’s not in the spotlight, per se, but we’re still an important part of the game.  I look at people that do what I do and we keep the game safe and fair and contribute to that.  Without that the game would suffer and the game wouldn’t be the game.  We’re the unbiased protectors of the game.”

He obviously started learning these values and lessons – even the on-ice variety – as a youngster.  “I came from a pretty large Catholic family, five kids,” LaRue states.  “I went to Catholic grade and high school.  I was very active as a youngster – altar boy, Mass almost every day before school.

“I played numerous sports.  My father played hockey when he was younger and when we moved to Spokane I had a friend that played hockey and we got involved in it.  I was like most kids; we played football, baseball, hockey.  I was one of those kids that participated in just about everything I could.”

Now as a father himself LaRue finds himself in the, unfortunately, all too common settings where parents are crossing lines while watching their kids play sports.

“If I’m at a game and my neighbor is yelling at an official, the best person to handle that is me,” he explains.  “USA hockey has identified it as a problem and put guidelines in place to where someone can actually be removed from a building, if necessary, so, they’re trying to do things to correct it.  It’s incumbent upon people that have kids participating to self-police that.”

So how does it feel to be someone who’s on the receiving end of those boos from fans, not to mention players and coaches hollering at you?

“I think the biggest part is that’s a recognition you make pre-career in that you understand that that goes with the territory and will have to have thick skin,” he says.  “You’re not there to make friends.  You’re there to do the job well, not to get accolades.”

That said, as long of a career as he has had, LaRue does quickly identify the top highlight from all his years in the NHL that actually could be considered an accolade, since such an assignment is based on merit.  “The opportunity to work the Stanley Cup Finals. 2009, Detroit vs. Pittsburgh,” he responds.  “I’ve been blessed to have a lot of great moments in my career.  It’s what we all strive for.”

He has also gotten the opportunity to work world championship games as well, and says that the experiences made him thankful upon returning back home to the U.S.

“I’ve had the opportunity to travel internationally with my career and personally and I don’t think you can describe how fortunate we are and how grateful we should be for what we have here… I spent three weeks in Russia in 1986.  To this day I still remember how bleak it was.  Even though they had wonderful things, the architecture, churches, etcetera, it was just bleak.  And I’ve never forgotten that.”

With the rigors of traveling just throughout the NHL cities alone, though, come the challenges of getting to Mass on Sundays.  LaRue is a veteran, however, so he has worked through it.

“There have been various parts in my career where, we generally stay in metropolitan areas of cities and I’ve often times gone on a Wednesday morning.  Because we stay downtown there’s always a church someplace fairly close by.  It’s just a question of the rigors of the schedule.  If you’re committed to it, the opportunity’s there.”

He closes by noting one of his favorites.  “St. Patrick’s cathedral in New York, right there on 5th Avenue.  They have multiple Masses throughout the day and I take friends and family there when we go just because the cathedral is amazing.  There’s Mass going on there almost any time you go in, and each one is still well-populated.  The church itself is a glorious structure and you can sense the history of the place.  You can see any number of people any given time in there, with tourists all around while Mass is going on.  But everyone is still reverent.”

Those times of worship seem to be complementing his serving the game in his role as an on-ice peacemaker.

Posted with permission from the Catholic Sports Association, an organization dedicated to highlighting Catholic sports professionals and enriching junior high and high school student-athletes with Catholic sports articles, conferences, a Web series, and other programs.


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St. Rosa Venerini's life recalled on May 7 feast

Denver, Colo., May 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - On May 7, the Church celebrates the recently-canonized Italian educator Saint Rosa Venerini, who founded Catholic schools for girls and young women during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Her work is continued today by the “Venerini Sisters.”

St. Rosa (also known as St. Rose) was declared a saint in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI, who spoke in his canonization homily of her courageous work for “the spiritual elevation and authentic emancipation of the young women of her time.”

He noted that St. Venerini “did not content herself with providing the girls an adequate education, but she was concerned with assuring their complete formation, with sound references to the Church's doctrinal teaching.”

Born in the central Italian city of Viterbo on February 9, 1656, Rosa Venerini was the daughter of an accomplished doctor, Goffredo, who raised four children with his wife Marzia. At a young age, Rosa vowed to consecrate her life to God, though this resolution was tested during her adolescence.

Rosa briefly joined a Dominican women’s community during 1676, but returned home to comfort her mother after Goffredo’s unexpected death. One of Rosa’s brothers, Domenico, also died at age 27. Marzia was heartbroken and died within months.

In the wake of these family crises, Rosa invited local women to her home to pray the Rosary in a group. However, she was soon dismayed by the deficiencies she saw in their education and religious formation. This eye-opening experience shaped Rosa’s future, pointing her toward her ultimate vocation in the field of teaching.

In 1685, with the help of two friends and the approval of her local bishop, Rosa opened Italy’s first public school for girls. It was supported by some Church and state officials, though others resisted an educational model that was, for its time, unconventional.

Many of these critics were silenced by the school’s clear success in uplifting the character of young women. Rosa left Viterbo and founded ten schools in the Diocese of Montefiascone between 1692 and 1694. She also trained a local successor, the future Saint Lucia Filippini.

Only after several years, and one disappointing failed attempt, did Rosa manage to start a school in Rome, during 1713. Three years later, Pope Clement XI paid a visit accompanied by eight cardinals. Witnessing the work of Rosa Venerini’s teachers, the Pope personally thanked her, declaring: “With these schools you will sanctify Rome.”

The acceptance of Rosa’s work also increased her daily responsibilities. She undertook difficult journeys for the sake of her work, while maintaining a strong prayer life that kept her oriented toward God’s will in all of her undertakings. Spiritual direction from Jesuit priests helped her to combine an active apostolate with a life of contemplative prayer. She cultivated a close daily relationship to God while working to found over 40 schools.

St. Rosa Venerini’s last illness came to an end during the evening of May 7, 1728. Her religious congregation, known in Italian as the “Maistre pie Venerini,” maintains an international presence.

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Pope uses Latin American experience to guide confraternities

Vatican City, May 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Drawing on the experience of the Latin American Church, Pope Francis called on groups dedicated to specific saints to grow in their faith, help unite the Church and evangelize through their public acts of devotion.

“Three words, don’t forget them: Evangelical spirit, ecclesial spirit, missionary spirit. Let us ask the Lord always to direct our minds and hearts to him, as living stones of the Church, so that all that we do, our whole Christian life, may be a luminous witness to his mercy and love,” the Pope told the thousands of devotees gathered May 5 in St. Peter’s Square.

Most of the pilgrims began arriving in Rome this past Friday, and their colorful outfits brought a certain flair to the streets surrounding the Vatican. They came for the Year of Faith weekend event dedicated to confraternities – groups of Catholics who are dedicated to a particular saint or spirituality – many of which have ancient roots.

The culmination of the weekend was a Mass that Pope Francis celebrated with them in St. Peter’s Square at 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, May 5.

Although Saturday was sunny, Sunday morning began with an overcast sky that turned to rain just before Mass was about to start, leading the Pope to congratulate the pilgrims for their perseverance.

“Dear brothers and sisters,” he began his homily, “you were very courageous to come with this rain … May the Lord bless you very much!”

The confraternities – which came from Italy, France, Ireland, Malta, Spain and Poland for the event – were welcomed by the Pope, who noted that they are “a traditional reality in the Church, which in recent times has experienced renewal and rediscovery.”

Throughout his homily on the day’s readings, Pope Francis drew on Benedict XVI’s pervious message to confraternities, but also added insights from the Latin American bishops’ remarks on the groups.

His first exhortation to the crowd was to nurture their devotions as a “treasure possessed by the Church, which the bishops of Latin America defined, significantly, as a spirituality, a form of mysticism, which is a place of encounter with Jesus Christ.

“Draw always from Christ, the inexhaustible wellspring; strengthen your faith by attending to your spiritual formation, to personal and communitarian prayer, and to the liturgy,” he urged.

Pope Francis then recalled how the first Christians solved their problems within the Church, not from without.

“And this brings up a second element which I want to remind you of, as Benedict XVI did, namely: ecclesial spirit. Popular piety is a road which leads to what is essential, if it is lived in the Church in profound communion with your pastors,” he said.

The Holy Father observed that this morning St. Peter’s Square contained “a great variety, first of umbrellas, and then of colors and signs.”

“This is also the case with the Church: a great wealth and variety of expressions in which everything leads back to unity, the variety leads back to unity and unity to the encounter with Christ,” he said, repeating a theme he has raised in his daily Masses.

Pope Francis’ final point for the confraternities was that they should have a “missionary spirit.”

“You have a specific and important mission,” he stated, “that of keeping alive the relationship between the faith and the cultures of the peoples to whom you belong. You do this through popular piety.”

“When, for example, you carry the crucifix in procession with such great veneration and love for the Lord, you are not performing a simple outward act … you are reminding yourselves first, as well as the community, that we have to follow Christ along the concrete path of our daily lives so that he can transform us,” he preached.

Quoting from the Latin American bishops’ “Aparecida Document,” Pope Francis said, “(i)n effect, journeying together towards shrines, and participating in other demonstrations of popular piety, bringing along your children and engaging other people, is itself a work of evangelization.”

After Mass finished, the Pope recited the Regina Caeli and greeted the Meter Association, which is dedicated to preventing the abuse of children.

“It allows me the opportunity to turn my thoughts to the many who have suffered and continue to suffer because of abuse,” he said.

“I wish to assure them that they are present in my prayers, and I would also like to say that each of us must do all we can and commit ourselves with clarity and courage so that every human person, especially children, who are in the category of the most vulnerable, are always defended  and protected.”

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Pope remembers child abuse victims, offers prayers

Vatican City, May 5, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - At the end of Mass, Pope Francis noted that the Day of Child Victims of Violence is observed today and assured all those who “have suffered and are suffering because of abuse” that they “are present in my prayers.”

“I would also say emphatically that we must all commit ourselves with clarity and courage to every human person, especially children, who are among the most vulnerable,” the Pope told the crowd of thousands on May 5, before reciting the Regina Caeli prayer.

He also spoke to the groups from throughout Europe who are devoted to particular saints and were present at the Mass.

“The love for Our Lady is one of the characteristics of popular piety, which needs to be valued and well oriented,” the Pope explained.

He invited them to “meditate on the last chapter of the Constitution of the Second Vatican Council on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which speaks precisely of Mary in the mystery of Christ and the Church.”

“There it is said that Mary ‘advanced in her pilgrimage of faith’ (n. 58). Dear friends, in the Year of Faith I leave this icon of Mary’s pilgrimage, which follows her Son Jesus and precedes all of us in the journey of faith,” he said.

Pope Francis also greeted all of the Eastern Christian Churches that use the Julian Calendar and are celebrating Easter today.

“I wish to send to these brothers and sisters a special greeting, uniting myself with all my heart to them in proclaiming the good news: Christ is risen! he exclaimed.

The beatification of Blessed Francisca de Paula De Jesus, who was known as “mother of the poor,” also drew the Pope’s notice. 

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