Monday, June 30, 2014

Starting July: The Patron of missions and vocations; built beautiful mission churches in California

Bl. Junipero Serra

Image of Bl. Junipero Serra


Feastday: July 1
Patron of Vocations
Birth: 1713
Death: 1784
Beatified By: Pope John Paul II

Miguel Jose Serra was born on the island of Majorca on November 24, 1713, and took the name of Junipero when in 1730, he entered the Franciscan Order. Ordained in 1737, he taught philosophy and theology at the University of Padua until 1749.
At the age of thirty-seven, he landed in Mexico City on January 1, 1750, and spent the rest of his life working for the conversion of the peoples of the New World.
In 1768, Father Serra took over the missions of the Jesuits (who had been wrongly expelled by the government)in the Mexican province of Lower California and Upper California (modern day California). An indefatigable worker, Serra was in large part responsible for the foundation and spread of the Church on the West Coast of the United States when it was still mission territory.
He founded twenty-one missions and converted thousands of Indians. The converts were taught sound methods of agriculture, cattle raising, and arts and crafts.
Junipero was a dedicated religious and missionary. He was imbued with a penitential spirit and practiced austerity in sleep, eating, and other activities. On August 28, 1784, worn out by his apostolic labors, Father Serra was called to his eternal rest. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. His statue, representing the state of California, is in National Statuary Hall. His feast day is July 1.

We pray with Pope Francis and his intentions for July


  • Sports. That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.

  • Lay Missionaries.  That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.

And another big Pro-Life win today in the courts; go EWTN

EWTN wins injunction against enforcement of contraceptive mandate

Catholic World News - June 30, 2014
The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) has won a last-minute reprieve from enforcement of a federal mandate calling for required coverage of contraceptives in employees' health-care programs. Citing the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision announced by the Supreme Court on June 30, the 11th federal circuit appeals court issued an injunction blocking fines that would have been assessed against EWTN beginning on July 1 for a failure to comply with the contraceptive mandate. The 11th circuit court found, in issuing its order, that EWTN "has asserted, without dispute, that it 'is prohibited by its religion from signing, submitting, or facilitating the transfer of the government-required certification' necessary to opt out of the mandate." EWTN has challenged the federal regulation that compels religious employees to certify their objections to covering contraceptive costs. That certification triggers coverage of the contraceptives by other insurers. The 11th circuit did not decide the merits of the EWTN lawsuit, but blocked enforcement of the HHS mandate until the case is decided.

Courageous Christians: The family behind Hobby Lobby

The Greens of Hobby Lobby: One Family with Courage is a Majority

There is no getting around the fact that Jesus offends some people. Nevertheless, He is too important in my life for me to cower in fear of mentioning His name. David Green, owner, founder Hobby Lobby
The Green Family (who are Okies, by the way) risked everything they had worked for all their lives.
The put everything but their lives on the line by refusing to accede to the HHS Mandate’s requirement that they pay for insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs. The Greens, who are Southern Baptists, already provided insurance coverage for contraceptives for their employees.
But they would not be participants in the evil of abortion. It conflicted with their faith in Jesus Christ.
So, they took a stand that was, in terms of business, totally stupid. They refused to abide by the HHS Mandate. What’s more, they put the name of their company, which they had built themselves from a $600 dollar investment, on a lawsuit.
This wasn’t a roll of the dice. It was an act of faith. The lawsuit was turned back, then resurrected in other rulings. When it was first turned down, the Greens said they would not abide by the Mandate, even if it meant paying millions of dollars a day in fines to the government.
This was not grandstanding. It was a reality of their lives at that time. They were facing ruinous fines for following Christ. It would most likely have put them out of business.
Another court overturned the earlier ruling and they were granted a stay.
Their lawsuit made it’s way to the Supreme Court, and today, the Court ruled that the Green family, as well as other owners of privately-held corporations, are exempt from the contraceptive portion of the HHS Mandate.

Governor Bobby Jindal,Louisiana: A Pro-Life Victory

Bobby Jindal on Hobby Lobby Victory

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 6/30/14

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana is already a pro-life rock star!

Here’s Jindal’s full statement reacting to today’s pro-life victory:

bobbyjindal“With today’s Hobby Lobby decision rejecting the arguments of President Obama’s administration and affirming the rights of families to conduct their business according to their faith, the Supreme Court formally recognized what the overwhelming majority of Americans already know to be true: that religious liberty is a good thing.
Our country was founded by individuals who wanted to live according to their faith every day of their lives, and not merely have their faith confined to the pew. For those of us who believe, as the Green family does, in an Almighty God who created the universe and loves us personally, our faith guides us every day: in what we will do, and in what we will not do.
What this decision affirms is that the American belief in freedom of religion still protects the rights of all Americans to live in accordance with their religion, and that these deeply held religious beliefs are more important than the whims and demands of government.
The Court has made clear today that the Obama administration’s assault on religious freedom in this case went too far – but this assault will not stop, in our courts, in our schools, and in the halls of power. It will take believers who are willing to risk their fortunes and public ridicule and the modern slings and arrows to stand up for what’s right.
>For their courage, I thank the Green family for what they have done to protect the rights of all believers to live according to their faith in the public square. Today, I urge all believers to pray for them and for the future of our nation. Remembering Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, let us be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, and let all we do be done in love.”

Kathy Schiffer: Hobby Lobby victory is a time to pray

Hobby Lobby Victory, and Other Stuff to Pray For

Hobby Lobby wins!  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning that the family-owned business will not be required to abide by the HHS Mandate, which requires employers to cover the cost of contraceptives for their employees.
Join with me in a prayer of thanks at this ruling.

But let’s remember, too, to continue our prayers for this nation.  The Court did not unanimously see the logic in Hobby Lobby’s reasoned objection to offering free contraceptives and abortifacients.  In fact, the decision was close, with four of the Justices taking the opposing position which would have mandated that employers lay aside their conscience in order to do business.  The religious exemption from the Mandate won–but just barely.

Pray, too, that additional Court victories will further strengthen our First Amendment protections.  Today’s ruling said that the Mandate could not be applied to “closely-held corporations” with religious owners who object to it.  However, there are many who object but who do not fall into that narrow category:  The IRS defines “closely-held corporations” as those with more than 50 percent of their stock held by five or fewer individuals.  So Catholic hospitals, EWTN, religious orders and other organizations which have an obvious reason to oppose the HHS Mandate will not be protected under this ruling.
And pray that this nation will turn again to God, that we may continue to enjoy His favor.
Dr. Benjamin Carson, the noted neurosurgeon, author and conservative leader, has written that America has been favored by God because we acknowledged him.  Is our nation such a God-fearing nation today?
Ben Carson, in a bio posted on CBN’s website, notes:
The forefathers of this nation were clearly guided by Sovereign leadership when they knelt and prayed for wisdom at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787. Together they stood up and assembled a seventeen page document known as the Constitution of the United States of America. Our nation was founded on principles revealed to us in the Bible by a righteous and just God. These teachings began in the home and continued at school. In early public schools reading from the Bible was not only common, it was expected.
Children were taught that there was a Creator to whom they were responsible and that there was a moral code given to us by the Creator to whom we should all have to answer in the afterlife. Today the forces of political correctness are trying to erode our values by attempting to push God out of our lives. Prayer is not allowed in public schools. Many people are afraid to say “Merry Christmas” because it contains the word Christ. Dr. Carson says it is our job to stand up and be counted. We can no longer be passive. He says we should not be ashamed of our faith, and we certainly should not allow those who believe differently to change who we are in order to be politically correct. “If they do not wish to accept the godly principles that we choose to live by, we should make no attempt to force them, but by no stretch of the imagination should we allow them to force their beliefs on us,” reveals Dr. Carson. He says for America to remain a pinnacle nation we must stop being political and start being logical; apply godly values and principles to govern our lives; and develop our God given talents so we become valuable to those around us.
 As we celebrate the Supreme Court victory which headlines the news today, let us continue to pray for America.

USCCB issues statement on Hobby Lobby case

Pro-life demonstrators celebrate June 30 outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington as its decision in the Hobby Lobby case is announced. (CNS photo/ Jonathan Ernst, Reuters)
The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, together with the chairman of the conference’s Committee for Religious Liberty, released a statement earlier today in response to the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby religious freedom case.
The joint statement from Archbishop Joseph Kurtz and Archbishop William Lori praised the Supreme Court for “[recognizing] that Americans can continue to follow their faith when they run a family business.” They also pointed out that the ruling has no clear implications for religious freedom cases challenging the Obama administration’s “accommodation” for religious employers, such as the lawsuit filed by the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Earlier this year the USCCB filed an amicus brief with the Supreme Court in support of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties, both family-run businesses whose owners object to providing employees with insurance plans covering contraceptives that can act as abortifacients. In the brief, the USCCB voiced its objections to “any rule that would require faithful Catholics and other religiously motivated business owners to choose between providing coverage for products and speech that violate their religious beliefs, and exposing their businesses to devastating penalties.”
Today’s statement from Archbishops Kurtz and Lori reads:
We welcome the Supreme Court’s decision to recognize that Americans can continue to follow their faith when they run a family business.  In this case, justice has prevailed, with the Court respecting the rights of the Green and Hahn families to continue to abide by their faith in how they seek their livelihood, without facing devastating fines.  Now is the time to redouble our efforts to build a culture that fully respects religious freedom.
The Court clearly did not decide whether the so-called ‘accommodation’ violates RFRA when applied to our charities, hospitals and schools, so many of which have challenged it as a burden on their religious exercise.  We continue to hope that these great ministries of service, like the Little Sisters of the Poor and so many others, will prevail in their cases as well.

Hobby Lobby: A Victory for Religious Liberty, a defeat for the most pro-death administration ever, another Pro-Life win

Hobby Lobby: Ruling a victory for faith seekers

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The co-founder of Oklahoma City-based Hobby Lobby says her family is “overjoyed” by the Supreme Court’s decision that says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
The justices’ 5-4 decision Monday is the first time that the high court has ruled that profit-seeking businesses can hold religious views under federal law.
Contraception is among a range of preventive services that must be provided at no extra charge under the health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010 and the Supreme Court upheld two years later. Hobby Lobby had sued over four contraceptives in the law.
Barbara Green called the court’s decision a victory for “all who seek to live out their faith.”

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Protomartyrs of Rome!

First Martyrs of Rome


Feastday: June 30

Many martyrs who suffered death under Emperor Nero . Owing to their executions during the reign of Emperor Nero, they are called the Neronian Martyrs, and they are also termed the Protomartyrs of Rome, being honored by the site in Vatican City called the Piazza of the Protomartyrs. These early Christians were disciples of the Apostles, and they endured hideous tortures and ghastly deaths following the burning of Rome in the infamous fire of 62.Their dignity in suffering, and their fervor to the end, did not provide Nero or the Romans with the public diversion desired. Instead, the faith was firmly planted in the Eternal City.

Tonight this is the prayer I need the most: The Litany of Humility

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I ,
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should,

What the heck happened to June??

Are you asking the same question?  Wow; where did June 2014 go?  Summer is rolling along too and down here in these parts, our children are already on the downside of summer vacation.  They go back to school sometime around August 10th, give or take, so they are down to about 6 weeks of summer!

June ushered in with the most exciting thing my wife and I do these days; be grandparents in the flesh!  That first week of June was spent in North Carolina with #1 grandson Calvin and they were 5 glorious days.  But Wendy and I returned home dutifully to attend to our personal lives, our jobs and my ministry as a Permanent Deacon for the Archdiocese of New Orleans!

I did have one wedding this month but no baptisms and June did find me returning to Rayburn Prison after my time off since my surgery recovery in May.  I helped to kick off another wonderful adult faith formation class at my parish, MHT, this one devoted to Mary in Scripture.

But June also saw the predictable when it relates to summer.  It's been hot, but that is not the main weather story.  This year we are wet; incredibly wet.  So wet that I have been hard pressed to keep up with my grass cutting responsibilities.  Yet, I do what I can when I can.

In just a little over 24 hours it will be July.  Personally, I do not like July.  The days grow hotter, the mosquitos bigger and the hurricane threat is a little greater than it is in June.  Yet July is but one of the 12 months of God's creation so I endure.  This July will start off with a nice national holiday that coincides with a holiday.  July will also bring us the crowning of a champion in the Soccer World Cup.  Will it be USA?  Probably not, but there still is hope!  And don't forget, July also brings us the start of the Saints training camp and real football!!

I hope July will be a good month.  It will be hot, probably wet and it marks the middle of summer.  But as we place our trust and hopes and concerns with God, we all will have a great July!

Pope Francis leads Mass, bestows pallium, prays Angelus

Pope Leads Long Vatican Mass After Health Setbacks

Looking tired but relaxed, Pope Francis has led his first major public ceremony after a spate of canceled appointments for health problems.
Francis appeared to hold up well Sunday during the more than 90-minute Mass in St. Peter's Basilica to honor Saints Peter and Paul.
The Vatican has played down the cancellations, including one last-minute Friday because 77-year-old Francis had an unspecified "mild" health problem.
Francis, often laughing or smiling, chatted with each of the 24 archbishops kneeling before him to receive a white woolen band symbolizing shared episcopal power.
An hour after the ceremony, he appeared to people in St. Peter's Square from an Apostolic Palace window. He appealed for Iraq's leaders to use dialogue to save national unity and avoid further warfare there.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Our neighboring parish says farewell to longtime Pastor; across the lake for Fr. Ronnie

A great Priest, kind and supportive.  Fr. Ronnie was a big influence in the prison ministry that we have in place at both Rayburn Correctional Center and St. Tammany Parish Jail.

Catholic pastor moves on after building foundation of faith in Mandeville

When the Rev. Ronald Calkins took over as pastor of Mary Queen of Peace in 1995, the Catholic Church parish consisted solely of an unadorned rented building in Turtle Creek Plaza, a strip shopping center on Louisiana 22 near Mandeville. The church's staff was made up of Calkins, a secretary and a janitor.
As Calkins steps down as pastor and accepts a reassignment to St. Catherine of Siena parish in Metairie, he will leave behind a flourishing community of faith, an appreciative flock of parishioners, a gleaming church, a highly regarded Catholic school and a legacy of helping others in need.
During his 19-year-tenure, Calkins has overseen the establishment of dozens of faith ministries and various outreach efforts to help others from as far away as Haiti. He guided the construction of a campus on 15 acre along West Causeway Approach that consists of several school buildings, a recently completed recreation center and MQP's crown jewel: a $6.6 million church building.
Ever humble, Calkins lays much of the credit for the church's successes at the feet of its parishioners, saying it is they who have made parish what it is today.
"The people of Mary Queen of Peace have responded with great generosity to everything that has been done here," said Calkins, known as Father Ronnie among parishioners. "We have an awesome building committee. That (church) building  and all we've done is a reflection of input from a lot of people."
The property on which the campus sits was actually acquired by Calkins' predecessor, the Rev. William O'Donnell, the founding pastor who served from 1988-1995. O'Donnell initially said Mass at the Rouquette Lodge, a retirement complex in Mandeville. But he soon found a more spacious location to hold services at Turtle Creek. At that time, the church was affectionately known as "Our Lady of the Shopping Center."
A few years later, O'Donnell found a tract of land on West Causeway Approach that would become the parish's permanent home. Plans were drawn for a multipurpose building that would include a sanctuary and classrooms, the seeds of what would become a vibrant Catholic parish in a fast-growing section of western Mandeville.
Calkins became pastor of Our Lady of the Shopping Center on July 3, 1995 -- his first assignment as pastor -- and picked up where O'Donnell left off. He held community meetings to solicit input from parishioners on what they wanted their parish to become. He hired a music director and formed a new pastoral council to provide input on the direction of the parish. Many other ministries were to follow.
The multipurpose building opened in late 1995, allowing the parish to shake off the amusing moniker and move into an on-campus place of worship. Mary Queen of Peace Catholic School welcomed its first students – 33 of them -- in August 1996.
The parish campus and the school would continue to grow with the addition of a new classroom building in 1998, the new church in 2008, a second classroom building in 2012 and the recreation center earlier this year.
But parishioners are quick to point out that Calkins' contributions have involved more than just bricks and mortar.
The parish added dozens of ministries that serve a variety of needs, both spiritual and physical. Mary Queen of Peace was among the region's most active participants in Operation Help Hands, which helped flood-stricken homeowners gut and rebuild their homes after Katrina. MQP volunteers worked at various locations for over a year, earning accolades from Catholic Charities for its dedication to the operation.
In 2011, MQP partnered with a Catholic parish about 60 miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, which had been ravaged by a 2010 earthquake and a couple of hurricanes. After the earthquake, Archbishop Gregory Aymond invited parishes in the Archdiocese of New Orleans to partner with a parish in Haiti through Catholic Relief Services.
Mary Queen of Peace was connected with St. Benoit, an impoverished mountain-top Catholic community that lost nearly everything in the earthquake. From a socio-economic perspective, St. Benoit is as far from Calkins' parish as it is in physical distance. MQP includes Beau Chene, The Sanctuary and other affluent communities; St. Benoit has no running water or electricity.
Under Calkins' leadership, the Mandeville parish raised money to build a water well in the community so that villagers can fill water containers a short distance from the church rather than walking an hour down the mountain to the next nearest water distribution point. Mary Queen of Peace also purchased backpacks for 200 students that attend school in the village.
Money from MQP helped build classrooms, pay teacher salaries and provide scholarships for top students.
While Calkins and his congregation have helped St. Benoit educate its students, the outgoing pastor is credited with helping Mary Queen of Peace's school grow from its infancy to what it is now, with about 520 students in grades pre-K through seven.
The school was quick to open its doors to Katrina refugees, causing its enrollment to swell. Observers say it was Calkins' compassion and willingness to help others that led to the school's population boom.
Jan Daniel Lancaster, the archdiocese's superintendent of education, served as principal of Mary Queen of Peace from 2003-2010 and oversaw the expansion of the school after Katrina. She praised Calkins' leadership and personal skills.
"In my seven years as principal of Mary Queen of Peace, I was blessed to work for a pastor who led with compassion and kindness," Lancaster said. "It was a great honor and privilege to work alongside Father Calkins, who is a passionate supporter of the ministry of Catholic education. He embodies the very essence of what it means to be a priest."
A big Saints and LSU fan, the silver-haired Calkins seems able to relate well to his congregation on a non-spiritual level at certain times. After Sunday Masses during football season, the church choir frequently breaks into "When the Saints Go Marching In" as the priest leaves the sanctuary.
Calkins attended the Super Bowl in 2010, watching his Saints and his one-time parishioner Sean Payton win the Lombardi Trophy.
Another side of the pastor is displayed on an MQP video that features the school's cougar mascot and faculty and staff members dancing to the popular Pharrell Williams tune "Happy." In it, the mascot dances through the school hallways and is soon joined by others. In the end, the cougar costume's head is removed to reveal a smiling Calkins, although it remains unclear as to whether it was the pastor or an imposter whose dance moves are displayed on the video.
While Calkins has achieved a lot during his time at Mary Queen of Peace, parishioners say he has done so with the attitude of a humble servant, rather than a credit seeker. In a homily delivered during Mass on June 23, Deacon Butch Shartle gave a heartfelt account of Calkins' contributions to the parish, noting his core message was simple – just love one another. Shartle's homily drew an ovation from parishioners, a rarity at Catholic Masses.
Raised in the Jefferson community near St. Agnes Catholic Church, Calkins is the youngest of four siblings. His father was in sales and his mother was a public school teacher who provided a strong Catholic environment for their children.
Calkins, who was an altar server as a youngster, took an interest in the priesthood as a teenager and attended the former St. John Prep, a high school for those planning to attend the seminary. While his deeply religious mother never pressured him to become priest, he learned the night before his ordination in 1978 how much it meant to her.
Recounting a story that still brings out his emotions, Calkins last week described how his mother presented him a letter explaining that she had prayed for years that one of her children would become a priest. He had no idea she felt that way. His oldest brother Richard is a deacon on the north shore.
In his early years as a priest, Calkins served as an assistant pastor in parishes in Algiers, Metairie and Kenner. He also served as director of the archdiocese's youth ministry.
Archbishop Francis Schulte tapped him in 1995 to become pastor of the church in a shopping center. He took the assignment with little hesitation but had no idea it would be the beginning of a 19-year association.
"I knew it would be a great opportunity to build a community and grow with a parish," said Calkins, 63. "I never expected to be here this long. It's a long time to serve in one place."
The archdiocese has a habit of moving priests every few years, although there are exceptions and this was one of them.
Calkins said he has been contemplating moving on for some time, but wanted to stay through the church's 25th anniversary, which was celebrated last year. He told Aymond last December that he would be open to a reassignment if the archbishop felt there was a place where his skills could be put to use. St. Catherine, a large Catholic parish in Old Metairie, is where Calkins says the Holy Spirit is guiding him.
The Rev. John-Nhan Tran, who is currently the pastor of St. Joan of Arc in LaPlace, will take over the pastoral duties at MQP.
Calkins described the change as bittersweet, noting that Mary Queen of Peace will always be his first love.
"For a number of years, I have been praying about my next step, knowing that God was leading me elsewhere," he said. "I knew it would happen one day, it was just a question of when."
Parishioners were shocked when Calkins first announced his reassignment at the April 26 vigil Mass. There were sobs from those in the pews.
Parishioner Gwen Dykes, a charter member of Mary Queen of Peace parish, said she is sorry to see Calkins move on, but understands that he is answering his call.
"He's what you want a pastor to be," Dykes said. "He was the shepherd and teacher the parish needed. We love him."
Karen Baker, a longtime parishioner and currently the archdiocese school system's director of development for marketing and administrative services, described Calkins as an approachable leader who was always keen on getting the laity involved in the church.
"He laid a good foundation for the church to grow on," Baker said.
Calkins will say his last Mass as pastor of Mary Queen of Peace on Sunday (June 29) at 11:30 a.m. He said last week he's not exactly sure what he will say during the sermon, but a letter to the parishioners on the church website provides a hint.
"It has been a blessing to know each and every one of you; I can't say that enough," he wrote. "I have watched this parish blossom, and that has been a beautiful thing to behold."

The bestowing of the pallium

Francis to bestow pallium on new metropolitan Archbishops

The feast of Saint Peter and Saint Paul will be on June 29th. A ceremony will be celebrated at the Vatican in which the Pope will bestow the pallium on the metropolitan Archbishops named in the last year. 

The pallium is a tailored cloak made from the wool of lambs blessed by the Pope on the feast of Saint Agnes on January 21st. It is placed over the shoulders of the new archbishops who come from all over the world for this moment. 


1. Msgr. Victor Henry THAKUR, Archbishop of Raipur (India)

2. Msgr. José Rafael QUIRÓS QUIRÓS, Archbishop of San José de Costa Rica (Costa Rica)

3. Msgr. Giuseppe FIORINI MOROSINI, O.M., Archbishop of the region of Calabria-Bova (Italy)

4. Msgr. Leo W. CUSHLEY, Archbishop of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh (Scotland)

5. Msgr. Jaime SPENGLER, O.F.M., Archbishop of Porto Alegre (Brazil)

6. Msgr. Jean-Luc BOUILLERET, Archbishop of Besançon (France)

7. Msgr. Leonard Paul BLAIR, Archbishop of Hartford (U.S.A.)

8. Msgr. Gabriel ‘Leke ABEGUNRIN, Archbishop of Ibadan (Nigeria)

9. Msgr. Sebastian Francis SHAW, O.F.M., Archbishop of Lahore (Pakistan)

10. Msgr. Franz LACKNER, O.F.M., Archbishop of Salzburg (Austria)

11. Msgr. Thomas Luke MSUSA, S.M.M., Archbishop of Blantyre (Malawi)

12. Msgr. Benjamin Marc Balthason RAMAROSON, C.M., Archbishop of Antsiranana (Madagascar)

13. Msgr. René Osvaldo REBOLLEDO SALINAS, Archbishop of La Serena (Chile)

14. Msgr. Marlo M. PERALTA, Archbishop of Nueva Segovia (The Philippines)

15. Msgr. Emmanuel OBBO, Archbishop of Tororo (Uganda)

16. Msgr. Daniel Fernando STURLA BERHOUET, S.D.B., Archbishop of Montevideo (Uruguay)

17. Msgr. Marco ARNOLFO, Archbishop of Vercelli (Italy)

18. Msgr. Damian Denis DALLU, Archbishop of Songea (Tanzania)

19. Msgr. Romulo T. DE LA CRUZ, Archbishop of Zamboanga (The Philippines)

20. Msgr. Malcolm Patrick McMAHON, O.P., Archbishop of Liverpool (England)

21. Msgr. Paul BÙI VN OC, Archbishop of Thành-Phô Hô Chí Minh, Hôchiminh Ville (Vietnam)

22. Msgr. Wojciech POLAK, Archbishop of Gniezno (Poland)

23. Msgr. José Luiz Majella DELGADO, C.SS.R., Archbishop of Pouso Alegre (Brazil)

24.Msgr. Agustinus AGUS, Archbishop of Pontianak (Indonesia)

Archbishops who won't be present at the ceremony:

25. Msgr. Tarcisius Gervazio ZIYAYE, Archbishop of Lilongwe (Malawi)

26. Msgr. Nicholas MANG THANG, Archbishop of Mandalay (Burma)

27. Msgr. Stephan BURGER, Archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany)

The Feast Day of Sts. Peter & Paul

SUNDAY, JUNE 29, 2014
On June 29 the Church celebrates the feast day of Sts. Peter & Paul. As early as the year 258, there is evidence of an already lengthy tradition of celebrating the solemnities of both Saint Peter and Saint Paul on the same day. Together, the two saints are the founders of the See of Rome, through their preaching, ministry and martyrdom there.
Peter, who was named Simon, was a fisherman of Galilee and was introduced to the Lord Jesus by his brother Andrew, also a fisherman. Jesus gave him the name Cephas (Petrus in Latin), which means ‘Rock,’ because he was to become the rock upon which Christ would build His Church.
Peter was a bold follower of the Lord. He was the first to recognize that Jesus was “the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” and eagerly pledged his fidelity until death. In his boldness, he also made many mistakes, however, such as losing faith when walking on water with Christ and betraying the Lord on the night of His passion.
Yet despite his human weaknesses, Peter was chosen to shepherd God's flock. The Acts of the Apostles illustrates his role as head of the Church after the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ. Peter led the Apostles as the first Pope and ensured that the disciples kept the true faith.
St. Peter spent his last years in Rome, leading the Church through persecution and eventually being martyred in the year 64. He was crucified upside-down at his own request, because he claimed he was not worthy to die as his Lord.
He was buried on Vatican hill, and St. Peter's Basilica is built over his tomb.
St. Paul was the Apostle of the Gentiles. His letters are included in the writings of the New Testament, and through them we learn much about his life and the faith of the early Church.
Before receiving the name Paul, he was Saul, a Jewish pharisee who zealously persecuted Christians in Jerusalem. Scripture records that Saul was present at the martyrdom of St. Stephen.
Saul's conversion took place as he was on his way to Damascus to persecute the Christian community there. As he was traveling along the road, he was suddenly surrounded by a great light from heaven. He was blinded and fell off his horse. He then heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” He answered: “Who are you, Lord?” Christ said: “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”
Saul continued to Damascus, where he was baptized and his sight was restored. He took the name Paul and spent the remainder of his life preaching the Gospel tirelessly to the Gentiles of the Mediterranean world.
Paul was imprisoned and taken to Rome, where he was beheaded in the year 67.
He is buried in Rome in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
In a sermon in the year 395, St. Augustine of Hippo said of Sts. Peter and Paul: “Both apostles share the same feast day, for these two were one; and even though they suffered on different days, they were as one. Peter went first, and Paul followed. And so we celebrate this day made holy for us by the apostles' blood. Let us embrace what they believed, their life, their labors, their sufferings, their preaching, and their confession of faith.”

Pastoral approach yes; doctrine no: Concerning changes from the October Synod of Bishops

This brief but apparently important press release from the Vatican yesterday concerning the extraordinary Synod coming up this October:

Synod secretary: don't expect change in Church teachings

Catholic World News - June 27, 2014

At a Vatican press conference introducing the instrumentum laboris that will be the basis for discussion when the Synod of Bishops meets in October, the special secretary for the Synod meeting confirmed that there is no movement to change the teachings of the Church on marriage.    “The doctrine of the Church is not up for discussion,” Archbishop Bruno Forte of Chieti-Vasto, Italy, told reporters. He said that the “pastoral application” of Church teachings—the most effective ways to promote those teachings—would be the Synod’s greatest challenge.

Considered a Father of the Church

St. Irenaeus

Image of St. Irenaeus


Feastday: June 28
Death: 202

The writings of St. Irenaeus entitle him to a high place among the fathers of the Church, for they not only laid the foundations of Christian theology but, by exposing and refuting the errors of the gnostics, they delivered the Catholic Faith from the real danger of the doctrines of those heretics.
He was probably born about the year 125, in one of those maritime provinces of Asia Minor where the memory of the apostles was still cherished and where Christians were numerous. He was most influenced by St. Polycarp who had known the apostles or their immediate disciples
Many Asian priests and missionaries brought the gospel to the pagan Gauls and founded a local church. To this church of Lyon, Irenaeus came to serve as a priest under its first bishop, St. Pothinus, an oriental like himself. In the year 177, Irenaeus was sent to Rome. This mission explains how it was that he was not called upon to share in the martyrdom of St Pothinus during the terrible persecution in Lyons. When he returned to Lyons it was to occupy the vacant bishopric. By this time, the persecution was over. It was the spread of gnosticism in Gaul, and the ravages it was making among the Christians of his diocese, that inspired him to undertake the task of exposing its errors. He produced a treatise in five books in which he sets forth fully the inner doctrines of the various sects, and afterwards contrasts them with the teaching of the Apostles and the text of the Holy Scripture. His work, written in Greek but quickly translated to Latin, was widely circulated and succeeded in dealing a death-blow to gnosticism. At any rate, from that time onwards, it ceased to offer a serious menace to the Catholic faith.
The date of death of St. Irenaeus is not known, but it is believed to be in the year 202. The bodily remains of St. Irenaeus were buried in a crypt under the altar of what was then called the church of St. John, but was later known by the name of St. Irenaeus himself. This tomb or shrine was destroyed by the Calvinists in 1562, and all trace of his relics seems to have perished.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Pope Francis and Evangelical Pastors meet for prayer and dialogue; historic!

Witnessing the Miracle Jesus Prayed For

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Satan – Lucifer, Beelzebub, the Father of all lies – has focused his fury against the church of the living God. Perhaps in the center of Satan’s crosshairs is his attack on the prayer of Jesus in John 17 that all believers live in unity. God revealed this assault to me and many other church leaders around the world, and also millions of saints and prayer warriors who have been praying diligently for the prayer of our Lord Jesus to be answered in our day. I believe I am beginning to see the walls of division that have held many Christians captive and divided, often silencing the witnesses of those Jesus commissioned to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.
I believe we are going to be blessed to see Jesus’ prayer answered. For years on LIFE Today, I have encouraged our viewers with these words: “If you want your prayers answered, seek to be an answer to someone else’s prayers.” Upon hearing that challenge, many have found great comfort and released rivers of compassion toward others.
After hip surgery five years ago when I battled staph infection and was so weak I could not lift a cup of water to my lips, God got my full attention. He spoke through Isaiah 58:6-12 and I saw the importance of living in freedom, touching the suffering, the hungry, poor, and downtrodden. I recognized the promise that our prayers would be answered quickly and we would become a free-flowing stream and a well-watered garden, restoring the foundations upon which we must build. During that time God instructed me to focus my attention on Jesus’ prayer and encouraging others to begin fulfilling it through us in our day.
I believe I am beginning to witness what Jesus prayed for. Over three years ago, many respected evangelical leaders and Spirit-filled Catholics began meeting together to pray for God’s will to be done and to bring true believers together in supernatural unity. We know it is God’s will for those who have been born from above to become bold witnesses for His glory and Kingdom purpose and to go into all the world and make disciples of Christ. We have been commanded to love God with all of our heart and our neighbors as ourselves. The enemy has kept many Christians from loving one another as Christ loves us and have failed to recognize the importance of supernatural unity even with all of the unique diversity.
I believe the prayers of earnest Christians helped lead to the choice of Pope Francis. Many were amazed that a humble man, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, filled with such love for the poor, downtrodden, and overlooked from a radically socialist country (Argentina) could be named Pope. From the moment it happened, I felt like it was an answer not only to the prayers of truly concerned believers, but even a step toward seeing Jesus’ prayer answered.
This week I was blessed to be part of perhaps an unprecedented moment between evangelicals and the Catholic Pope. On Tuesday, for nearly three hours, a few of us were blessed to meet in an intimate circle of prayerful discussion and lunch to discuss not only seeing Jesus’ prayer answered, but that every believer would become bold, joy-filled witnesses for Christ.
Consider some events leading to this supernatural gathering at the Vatican in Rome. Years ago God told me to reach out beyond the safe, comfortable walls of my Southern Baptist tradition. He wanted me to reach beyond denominational barriers and seek to bring the family together so the church would put His arms around a hurting world and pull everyone close to His heart. I reached outside my sectarian Baptist comfort zone to Pentecostals, Charismatics and Catholics, as well as those outside the church.
To the shock of many, I stood on the platform next to the very charismatic Ken Copeland and welcomed attendees of his Believers’ Convention to Tarrant County Convention Center. During that very brief welcome as I was leaving the podium, Ken Copeland grabbed me by the shoulder and said, “The Holy Spirit is all over you. Get back up there and keep sharing.” I gave testimony of the dynamic power of God to set captives free, even defeated preachers like I had been. Estimates were that over 7,000 people flooded the altar even before I could give the invitation. I have never stopped reaching out in love beyond walls that have been have built for personal comfort and which, too often, diminish the power of the Gospel message. Because of friendship, I have continued to share my heart with Ken and Gloria and he has asked me to speak into his life and to those he seeks to teach and help. They have blessed me and Betty faithfully with their love and encouragement.
Unknown to either of us, Ken’s ministry and LIFE Outreach were both supporting an evangelical Episcopal named Tony Palmer who ministered and helped the poor in Buenos Aires, Argentina. There was a Catholic bishop, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, overseeing the area who was also ministering to the poor. Tony went to him and said, “I want to let you know that I will work at your side. You are the senior minister in this area and I will submit to your loving leadership.” Immediately in that humble relationship, a bond of love and peace was formed. They knew they were brothers in Christ and over the years their relationship continued to grow. Our Missions Director, Steve Coetzee, was also very close to Tony Palmer and encouraged us to faithfully support his mission outreaches.
When Jorge Mario Bergoglio was chosen to be Pope Francis, Bishop Tony Palmer was surprised and pleased. He felt, however, he would likely never hear from him again and would certainly understand why. But suddenly, he received a call from Pope Francis asking him to come to the Vatican to visit. Tony assumed it would simply be a handshake, a moment or two together and perhaps a photo, and then he would go back home. But Pope Francis made it clear, “No, I want you to come to my private apartment and spend the day with me.” There in prayerful discussion the Pope talked about his desire to see the world evangelized for Christ. He wanted to see Catholics and Protestants become a family as faithful witnesses. He shared that he wanted us to be brothers and the importance of the prayer in John 17 being answered. He wanted to personally know Protestant and evangelical leaders.
Tony told him he would soon be going to a large ministers’ convention that Ken Copeland hosts and there would be thousands of ministers there. Tony asked, “Would you like to write them a message or send a note?” Pope Francis said, “I would like to give them a video message. Hold up your iPhone and record what I say.” That message was like a glorious shot heard around the world, not just because of the love and compassion expressed, but also the desire for God to heal His family and that everyone would know Christ and believers would be like a family and become bold witnesses.  It was joyfully received by thousands of ministers and Kenneth Copeland responded by simply reading the desire of God expressed through Paul in Ephesians 4:13, “Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.”
When the Pope received that message and others also saw the Pope’s message on LIFE Today as Pope Francis encouraged Tony to share the message on our program around the world, he then asked for Tony Palmer to invite Betty and me, Ken and Gloria, and a few other evangelicals to come meet with him in Rome.
Bishop Tony Palmer brought the group of seven together. (Gloria Copeland was unable to attend because she was speaking at a conference.) We went to the Vatican and met in the presence of the Lord. The love coming from every person was overwhelming.
During lunch everyone shared their gratitude for what God was doing. The Pope made it very clear that he wanted every believer to become Spirit-filled, joy-filled witnesses. After Ken had lovingly spoken a few words of encouragement and prayed for the Pope with meekness and humility, I asked through the translator if I could say a few personal words to Pope Francis. In those moments I talked about being an evangelist and how for 50 years we have been seeking to win people to Christ and challenging Christians to become faithful, compassion-filled witnesses. I went on to say that so many people in our Protestant churches do not really know Christ.
I shared the testimony of how I was christened in the Episcopal Church as a boy, but did not know Jesus. Later, I had a supernatural new-birth experience and Jesus became the Lord and love of my life. As a fatherless, homeless boy, I now had a father and the love of God flowed out like a river.  Amazingly, God called me to be an evangelist and I have never stopped proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I told him how Betty had been baptized through immersion in a Baptist church, but during our relationship and hearing the excitement that filled my heart, she said, “James, I don’t know Jesus like that. He’s just someone I’ve always heard about.” One glorious Sunday morning the little Baptist Sunday school teacher left her seat in the choir, came forward, put her hand in the pastor’s hand, and said, “Brother Hale, I just gave my life to Jesus.” He said, “You’re the best girl in our church!” She said, “Preacher, stop telling me how good I am. I just met Jesus and He changed my life!” That was 53 years ago and she is full of Jesus. I said to Pope Francis many Protestants have never had a personal relationship with Christ even though they are church members, and I have seen many Catholics who don’t seem to know Jesus.
Pope Francis had written recently that, “Too many Catholics look like they’ve been to Lent with no Easter… It’s a mistake for them to look like they’ve been to a funeral” as he challenged Catholics to witness and never try to control the Holy Spirit, but yield to Him. The Pope responded in our personal conversation with such a dynamic evangelical message desiring all people who have religious associations (all Protestants, all Catholics – no matter who they are) as Paul said to the Corinthians, “to examine themselves whether they be of the faith.” He said he wanted everyone to have a personal life-changing encounter with Christ and enter into a personal relationship with Jesus and become bold witnesses for the Gospel. Religion is not the way; Jesus is.
So fervent was his message that as he concluded I said, “As an evangelist, I want you to know what you just said deserves a high five!” The translator communicated what I was saying and in a moment of exuberance he raised his hand and gave his first high five ever.  What a beautiful picture of love and supernatural oneness for the sake of the Gospel and those Jesus came to redeem.
We continued in such glorious fellowship that words could never begin to describe it. I am fighting back tears even as I write, so glorious was the manifest presence of Jesus. I couldn’t help but wonder in those moments if Jesus, as He did when Stephen was stoned leading to the conversion of Saul of Tarsus to become Paul the Apostle, perhaps once again stood at the right hand of the Father looking down on that scene in Rome between Evangelicals and the Pope, turn to the Father and say, “Look, I think my prayer is about to be answered. Look, Dad, maybe we can put Your arms around the world that I died to redeem and I live to fill to overflowing with Your joy, peace and love.”
Oh, how I hope and I pray that is the case and in my lifetime I cannot only see the prayers of so many answered, but above all I will live to see the prayer of the Lord Jesus answered for His glory and kingdom purpose. Dear God, please let it happen and let me gladly be a part of it.
Vatican meeting
Those who met with Pope Francis on Tuesday are, from left, Carol Arnott, the Rev. John Arnott, the Rev. Brian Stiller, the Rev. Kenneth Copeland, Pope Francis, the Rev. Thomas Schirrmacher, the Rev. Geoff Tunnicliffe, the Rev. James Robison, Betty Robison and Bishop Tony Palmer.