Denver, Colo., May 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On May 25, the Catholic Church celebrates Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, an Italian noblewoman of the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries who became a Carmelite nun distinguished for her intense prayer life and devotion to frequent Holy Communion.
In 2007, Pope Benedict XVI marked the 400th anniversary of St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi’s death in a letter to the Archbishop of Florence, her birthplace. He described her as “a symbolic figure of a living love that recalls the essential mystical dimension of every Christian life.”
“May the great mystic,” the Pope wrote, “still make her voice heard in all the Church, spreading to every human creature the proclamation to love God.”
Born on April 2, 1566, the future “Mary Magdalene” was given the name of Caterina at the time of her birth. She was the only daughter of her parents, who both came from prominent families. Caterina was drawn to the Holy Eucharist from a young age, and she resolved to serve God as a consecrated virgin shortly after receiving her First Communion at age 10.
Late in the year 1582 she entered a strictly traditional Carmelite monastery, where Holy Communion was – unusually for the time period – administered daily. Receiving her religious habit the next year, she took the name of Mary Magdalene.
From March to May of 1584, Mary became seriously ill and was thought to be in danger of death. On May 27 of that year she made her religious vows while lying sick upon a pallet. Her recovery marked the start of an extended mystical experience, which lasted 40 days and involved extraordinary experiences taken down by her religious sisters in a set of manuscripts.
Mary served the monastery in a series of teaching and supervisory positions, while also contributing to her community through manual work. Her fellow Carmelites respected her strict sense of discipline, which was accompanied by profound charity and practical wisdom. Her experiences of suffering and temptation helped her to guide and inspire others.
Extraordinary spiritual occurrences were a frequent feature of this Carmelite nun’s life, to a much greater degree than is typical in the tradition of Catholic mysticism. Many of her experiences of God were documented by others in her community, although Mary herself disliked the attention and would seemingly have preferred for these events to remain private.
She did wish, however, to call attention to God’s love, which she saw as tragically underappreciated and unreciprocated by mankind. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi is remembered for making dramatic gestures – running through the halls of her monastery, or ringing its bells at night – while proclaiming the urgent need for all people to awaken to God’s love, and respond in kind.
Her earthly life came to an end on May 25, 1607, after an excruciating illness lasting nearly three years. Pope Clement IX canonized St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi in 1669.
Denver, Colo., May 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Hovering 500 feet above the ground, a ride in the Prayer One helicopter offers community leaders the opportunity to join in fellowship – and prayer – above their beloved Mile-High City.
What was born from a conversation during a “boys' boondoggle in the Bahamas” some nine years ago has now turned into a unique way for Denver’s faith leaders to join in prayer and camaraderie in the skies.
When Jeff Puckett – a Colorado-native and private pilot – was asked by his friend, Pastor Tom Melton of Greenwood Community Church, what he would pray for if he could pray for anything, Puckett wasn’t sure he should say what he was really thinking.
“Most people said they’d pray for world peace,” he told CNA May 15, “I said, ‘Can you pray for a helicopter?’”
Although he could afford one, Puckett was unsure of whether or not it would be “good stewardship of money.”
“I didn’t have a reason to have it business-wise,” he explained.
However, his friend assured him that just as a father would never get angry with his son for asking a question, God would not be offended by such a prayer.
“I think our God is the same way; He delights in answering our prayers,” the pilot said. “Sometimes the answer is ‘no’ and it bums us out, but a lot of times the answer is ‘yes’ and He delights in seeing us happy with the answer.”
Puckett purchased his first helicopter shortly after that trip, but had not used it much until just before Christmas when many of his friends were facing serious difficulties in their lives.
One friend had just lost his wife in a tragic snowmobiling accident while another friend’s wife had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. “It was just a crazy time for everyone,” he said.
Puckett suggested that his friends let him take them on a helicopter ride over the city to take a break. Although it was just a short flight, the friends came back feeling rejuvenated.
It just so happened that the next day Melton was meeting with then-Mayor John Hickenlooper to talk about new visions for the city while Puckett was set to have dinner with Tom Forston of Promise Keepers, a Christian group that hosts and organizes men’s conferences.
Puckett shared that he was thinking about giving people involved in ministry the opportunity to see their city from a new perspective with free rides in his helicopter.
Promise Keepers gave support by helping schedule groups to come in on Monday mornings, since those in ministry typically work on Sundays. Now the group Confluence Ministries handles scheduling and sends groups over other week or once a month.
So far, he has taken some 6,000 people for prayer rides over Denver. Puckett does not charge for his helicopter rides and says Prayer One has “no agenda.” All he asks is that people “have a nice break.”
The name comes from one of the early trips when a passenger asked if he could share a prayer over the headset. From then-on, Puckett has began his flights with a prayer and allowed others to join in if they wish. Before and after each trip, the groups of passengers meet to mingle and “debrief.”
Puckett said each time he takes passengers up; he comes down with a different perspective. In one trip, a passenger was a young woman who had been rescued from sex-trafficking in Denver but had moved to Colorado Springs to escape what she called “the darkness” of that city.
“This was her first time back (in Denver) and being in a helicopter,” he said. The young lady told him being up in the helicopter was as if God were saying “Let there be light.”
“All of a sudden,” she told Puckett, “it was like a curtain opened up and I could see Denver the way it was supposed to be again.”
“That’s obviously a perspective I’ve never had,” he said.
Recently, he started bringing kids from rival gangs up on Saturdays to allow them to see their city without boundaries.
“They come in here and they’re kind of that cocky teenager,” he said. However, “when they get into that helicopter, boom, they’re kids again.”
Puckett likens the bond that takes place during the helicopter ride as going into battle with another soldier.
“You don’t know the guy next to you in the foxhole, but all of a sudden, he becomes your brother because you’ve gone through this stress together; the same thing happens in a silly helicopter.”
What this ministry has taught Puckett is that everyone has something to give and God can use whatever it is someone is passionate about.
“There’s a lot of people that would love to give back to their communities and to do things for others. A lot of times they get stifled because they think, well what can I do for somebody?”
Whether that’s knitting, cooking or making shoes God can use it so long as we are willing to do the unexpected. As Puckett puts it, “What’s your helicopter?”
“The helicopter happens to be my thing,” he explained, “I’d love to sing in a choir, but I can’t sing. All I can do is kind of live my life and hopefully it’s good in God’s eyes.”
Ultimately, the pilot said the ministry he does is “not about me” and “not about a silly yellow helicopter.”
“It’s about Him,” Puckett said.
Vatican City, May 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Around 200,000 pilgrims packed St. Peter’s Square to celebrate Pentecost with Pope Francis, who called on them to be open to “God’s surprises” because they bring true happiness.
“This is not a question of novelty for novelty’s sake, the search for something new to relieve our boredom, as is so often the case in our own day,” the Pope said May 19.
“The newness which God brings into our life is something that actually brings fulfillment, that gives true joy, true serenity, because God loves us and desires only our good,” he stated.
Pope Francis gave his homily during a 10:30 a.m. Mass with Church movements and associations from Europe, Asia and Africa in St. Peter’s Square.
They arrived in Rome for a series of weekend events centered on the Year of Faith, which included a pilgrimage to St. Peter’s tomb, music and testimonies. Their encounter with the Pope began on Saturday afternoon when he held a prayer vigil with them, and it finished with today’s Mass.
The Holy Father dedicated his homily to three ways that the Holy Spirit works in the lives of Christians: “newness, harmony and mission.”
Speaking about the “newness” the Holy Spirit brings, he explained that it requires letting him be the soul and guide of our lives in our every decision.
But the newness and change he brings lasts because it is truly fulfilling and creates joy, the Pope said.
He then posed a series of questions to the crowd:
“Are we open to ‘God’s surprises?’ Or are we closed and fearful before the newness of the Holy Spirit? Do we have the courage to strike out along the new paths which God’s newness sets before us, or do we resist, barricaded in transient structures which have lost their capacity for openness to what is new?”
The second aspect of the Spirit’s work is that he gives different gifts to people, creating diversity in the Church that ends up all being united in harmony by him.
“One of Fathers of the Church has an expression which I love: the Holy Spirit himself is harmony – ‘Ipse harmonia est,’” the Pope said.
He warned that when “we are the ones who try to create diversity and close ourselves up in what makes us different and other, we bring division.”
The key, Pope Francis taught, is to “let ourselves be guided by the Spirit” and live in and with the Church.
“It is the Church which brings Christ to me, and me to Christ; parallel journeys are dangerous!” he cautioned.
“When we venture beyond (proagon) the Church’s teaching and community, and do not remain in them, we are not one with the God of Jesus Christ,” the Pope told the communities.
“So let us ask ourselves: Am I open to the harmony of the Holy Spirit, overcoming every form of exclusivity? Do I let myself be guided by him, living in the Church and with the Church?”
Pope Francis’ final point centered on how the “Holy Spirit is the soul of mission.”
“The older theologians,” he recalled, “used to say that the soul is a kind of sailboat, the Holy Spirit is the wind which fills its sails and drives it forward, and the gusts of wind are the gifts of the Spirit. Lacking his impulse and his grace, we do not go forward.”
He explained that the Holy Spirit “draws us into the mystery of the living God and saves us from the threat of a Church which is gnostic and self-referential, closed in on herself.”
Instead, the Spirit “impels us to open the doors and go forth to proclaim and bear witness to the good news of the Gospel, to communicate the joy of faith, the encounter with Christ,” the Pope preached.
Although the events of Pentecost took place “almost 2,000 years ago,” they are not “something far removed from us; they are events which affect us and become a lived experience in each of us.”
“The Holy Spirit,” Pope Francis noted, “makes us look to the horizon and drive us to the very outskirts of existence in order to proclaim life in Jesus Christ.
“Let us ask ourselves: do we tend to stay closed in on ourselves, on our group, or do we let the Holy Spirit open us to mission?”
He closed his homily by asking God the Father to pour out the Holy Spirit again, using the Latin invocation, “Veni, Sancte Spiritus!” (Come Holy Spirit!).
After Mass Pope Francis recited the Regina Caeli prayer with the assembly, thanking them for their presence and saying that the Holy Spirit renewed Pentecost and changed St. Peter’s Square into an open-air Upper Room.
Vatican City, May 19, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) -
St. Peter’s Square was “transformed into an open-air Cenacle,” Pope Francis said after he celebrated Pentecost with Church movements.
“This celebration of faith is about to end, which began yesterday with the Vigil and culminated this morning in the Eucharist.
“A renewed Pentecost that has transformed St. Peter's Square into an open-air Cenacle,” Pope Francis said May 19 before reciting the Regina Caeli Marian prayer with around 200,000 pilgrims.
His brief reflection prior to the prayer recapped his main message for the Mass, which was that the Holy Spirit brings “newness, harmony and mission” to the lives of Christians.
He saw newness in the pilgrims reliving “the experience of the early Church, who agreed in prayer with Mary, the Mother of Jesus.”
The harmony inspired by the Holy Spirit was evident in the Square with the “variety of charisms” and the beauty of those being united in the Church.
Finally, Pope Francis thanked the communities and associations for the gift they are to the Church. He then urged them to mission, the third aspect of the Spirit’s work in Christians’ lives.
“Always carry the power of the Gospel! Always have the joy and passion for communion in the Church! The Risen Lord is always with you and the Madonna protects you!” he proclaimed.