Sunday, April 28, 2013

Today's Gospel Reading - Sunday, April 28, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Acts 14:21-27

21 After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the Good News to that city and made a considerable number of disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch. 22 They strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” 23They appointed elders for them in each church and, with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord in whom they had put their faith. 24 Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. 25 After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia. 26 From there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now accomplished. 27 And when they arrived, they called the church together and reported what God had done with them and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
P S A L M - Psalm 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
R: I will praise your name forever, my king and my God.
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great kindness. The Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all his works. (R) 10 Let all your works give you thanks, O Lord, and let your faithful ones bless you. 11 Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might. (R) 12 Let them make known your might to the children of Adam, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13 Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and your dominion endures through all generations. (R)
2nd READING - Revelation 21:1-5

Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth. The former heaven and the former earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. I also saw the Holy City, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.” The One who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

I give you a new commandment, says the Lord: love one another as I have loved you.
John 13:31-33, 34-35
31 When Judas had left, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. 33 My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. 34 I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. 35This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


I don’t know whether or not you frowned when you read today’s Gospel. Probably not, because the words of Jesus about love are so familiar. But don’t you think that the words of Jesus contradict each other? He speaks of love as a commandment. How can this be? Isn’t love something that comes naturally? Isn’t love a feeling, as most love songs tell us?

Jesus seemingly had a different understanding of love. If love is just a strong feeling, it is for a person we like or are attracted to. And that excludes the majority of people around us. The Greeks call this kind of natural attraction and feeling philia. But in our Gospel passage, Jesus does not use this Greek word but another Greek word, namely agape. It stands for a love that is a free act of the will that can be commanded. It excludes nobody, not even an enemy!

Do you think we, human beings, are so lovable that God, or Jesus, feels naturally attracted to us who constantly offend Him? But God sent His Son to save us. Jesus offered Himself on the Cross for our salvation. This did not come spontaneously. It was an act of His free will. And that’s why Jesus speaks of love as a commandment. We can and we have to command ourselves not to exclude anybody from our love. Of course, we cannot feel for an enemy or for one who has hurt us the same feeling we have for a close friend, spouse or children. So, how do we love those unlovable ones?

Fr. Nil Guillemette, S.J., makes an interesting observation when he writes that “the verb ‘to love’ is used 62 times in the Gospels, whereas the noun ‘love’ is used only nine times.” In other words, he writes, “the verb is used seven times more than the noun. Which means that, basically, love is a verb, it is an action, it expresses itself in deeds.”

Love is an action! If we try to do to those we consider unlovable what we would like to be done to us, we are practicing the love Jesus commanded His disciples and us.Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Do you have the love that Jesus commands? Do you command yourself to love a person who has hurt you?
Lord, how narrow is my understanding of love! Yes, it is easy to love a good person, but You want me to love even my enemy. Let me learn from You, Lord, from Your love for me, a poor sinner!

St. Peter Chanel, priest and martyr, pray for us.

Do you want to receive this in your email. To get Bo Sanchez to send it to you personally, register and log-on to
Lots of surprises await.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Do you believe the seven lies about Catholic history?

The world hates the Church that Jesus
founded, just as He said it would.



It reviles her doctrines, mocks her moral
teachings and invents lies about her history.
In every age, but especially in our modern day, historians and
political powers distort her past to make the Church
seem corrupt, backward, or simply evil.


Even most Catholics believe these lies, having
never heard the truth about the history of the Church.

Now comes Seven Lies About Catholic History to set the
record straight once and for all.

Here, you will learn the truth about the most infamous and
prevalent historical myths—lies that are repeated
even today by the Church's enemies.

In this fast-paced and enjoyable book, Dr. Diane Moczar uses
historical fact to defend . . . 
The Inquisition
It was not a bloodthirsty institution,
but instead a merciful (and necessary) one

Galileo's Trial
Why moderns invented a myth around it to make
science appear incompatible with the Catholic Faith (it's not)
The Reformation
Why the 16th-century Church was not totally corrupt, and
how the reformers made things worse for us all

The Crusades
They were not the result of destructive religious
zealotry; they saved and preserved Christendom

She also covers many other lies that the world uses to attack and discredit the Faith.

Seven Lies About the Catholic Church does more than defend
the Church. It will entertain and educate—and it will give you
a new appreciation for the wisdom and good works of
Christ's Church throughout the ages.


Seven Lies About Catholic History
by Diane Moczar
189 Pages - $14.95

Order online

Save 20% when you order the set:

Seven Lies About Catholic History
Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know
for only $24.70!
Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know presents  the saints and sinners, popes and kings that God used to shape his Church and change the world.
Here, too, are the wars and plagues, the ideas and institutions -- and, yes, the miracles — that gave birth to our Christian civilization and often threatened to doom it.

Ten Dates Every Catholic Should Know will show you that in those key moments when civilization hung in the balance, God has intervened — sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically — but ever and always he has come forward himself or given strength to those who were faithful to him.
This book is essential reading for any Catholic who wants to understand the history of our Faith. But it will give you more than knowledge: you’ll close this book with renewed confidence that no matter how dark and dangerous the times may be, God has never abandoned his people . . . and never will.
Order the set online


Order online above, or call

Friend on Facebook | Forward to Friend 
Copyright © 2013 Sophia Institute Press, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you signed up on our website or you purchased a product from Sophia Institute Press.

Our mailing address is:
Sophia Institute Press
Box 5284
Manchester, NH 03108

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The ballerina and the Madonna

A True Story
By Bernie Lopez
(This is a revival of an old anecdote from the healing ministry’s vast archives.)
Sister Raquel Reodica
Sister Raquel Reodica
Catherine Li, born of a Filipino mother and Chinese father, was the star ballerina of the Ballet Theater Philippines in 1991. She began dancing the ballet when she was grade four. At the age of 18, when the ballet troupe performed in Moscow, she fell in love with a famous Russian ballet dancer. Instantly, romance blossomed into marriage.
Catherine had an accident during a performance. She was descending a staircase and her partner failed to catch her while on a split position. She broke her hip. Local orthopedic experts said she could not do the ballet any more, or do the split for that matter, for the rest of her life. Suddenly, she lost a career, the only thing she lived for. Undaunted, she went abroad for more opinions. They all had the same conclusion, no more dancing for the rest of her life.
When she heard that a certain Catholic nun, Sister Raquel Reodica, RVM, was healing terminal illnesses, such as cancer, she sought her out desperately. She arrived at 8:30 in the evening at the remote retreat house in Novaliches. Sister Raquel was tired. She told Catherine to come back another day. There were days allotted to healing sessions. Sister Raquel could not possibly be on call 24/7 everyday. (When this story was being related to me by Sister Raquel over the phone, she said she could smell the strong scent of dama de noche. But there was no such plant in her residence.)
When Sister Raquel saw the tears in Cathe­rine’s eyes, she decided to give her 30 minutes. That was all that was needed. That evening, they prayed together and never did Catherine shed so much tears. There is a strange thing about healing. It is between Jesus and Catherine. Sister Raquel was a mere fence sitter. Catherine was healed instantly. Her faith was as copious as her tears, and Jesus granted her the gift of healing. That very evening, Catherine tried to dance, and she did before Sister Raquel without music.
Sister Raquel suddenly understood why the Lord brought Catherine to her. Sister Raquel had a scheduled healing session at the Araneta Coliseum on September 8, 1991, the birthday of Mama Mary. For the first time, Sister Raquel will have the biggest audience ever at the dome. She was nervous. Without a moment’s hesitation, she asked Catherine if she could dance a ballet number for Mama Mary at the Coliseum. How could Catherine refuse Mama Mary who gave her back her career ins­tantly? The next day, Catherine’s parents were shocked to see her practising.
Catherine recounts to Sister Raquel that, in the middle of her despair, someone told her “You shall dance again.” She dismissed the thought for she knew every expert in the world told her her dancing days were over. But it was those very words that urged Catherine to see Sister Raquel. That was the flicker of hope in her deep despair. The Lord works in mysterious ways. He wanted Catherine to grace the biggest healing session He ever had through Sister Raquel.
The Healer and the Actor
In August 1991, Sister Raquel and her small staff were busy with arrangements for the big event. There was a big snag. On that day, the coliseum was reserved for another show, produced by television personal­ity German Mo­reno, popularly known as Kuya Germs. For many days, Sister Raquel searched for the telephone number of Moreno in vain, to make an appeal to him to move his show. But he was hard to find.
She went to the coliseum management to ask for help. But they could not help her. She just had to find Kuya Germs herself somehow. She was getting nervous because September 8 was just around the corner. Tired, hungry, and losing hope, she and a companion, wandered into a small unknown eatery to take a snack after the meeting. They ordered halo-halo.
While waiting for their order, Sister Raquel bowed in prayer, “Lord, what are you doing to us? Why is it so hard to find this guy? This show is for You, isn’t it? This is not for us. It is for Your Mother’s birthday. You better help us find this person. Please, Lord, there must be a way.” (That was the way Sister prayed, talking casually to her ‘father’.)
Sister saw someone at the corner of her eye. At a table opposite theirs, lo and behold, Kuya Germs in this humble eatery. She could not believe it. She asked her companion if what she was seeing was real. There he was, Kuya Germs himself, in a city of millions, a needle in a mountain of hay. It could not be an accident. The hand of God was at work. Kuya Germs was with his production staff.
Sister hesitated, but managed to muster enough courage to approach him. With a big smile, she spoke casually. (The dialogue below was reconstructed from the story as told by Sr. Raquel.)
Aren’t you Mr. German Moreno?
(Cordially) Yes, sister, what can I do for you.
You know, Mr. Moreno, I am going straight to the point.
Please do, sister. Go ahead, I am all ears.
Well you see, we’re planning a grand healing concert on the birthday of our Blessed Virgin, but there is a problem.
(Casually) Well, we cannot do it because you have a show on that day at the Araneta Coliseum. Can I ask you to move your show for Our Lady?
Kuya Germs was taken aback by the quick, short and very frank request spoken so nonchalantly, and with a child-like smile, on such an accidental meeting. He was com­pletely shocked.
You are kidding, I suppose, sister.
Nope. Very serious.
Well, you could have it later.
No, Mr. Moreno. It has to be on her birthday. This is not for me. It is for Our Lady. It is our birthday gift to her. Please consider.
Kuya Germs looked at Sister Raquel in silence for a moment. Then he and his entire staff could not help but laugh. It was not to ridicule Sister. They simply could not help seeing the humor of it all, a complete stranger coming out of nowhere while he is taking a snack in a restaurant, and asking him to move an entire show he has planned for so many months. There was silence as Sister waited for a reply with a smile, unmoved by the laugh­ter. The face of Kuya Germs turned serious, contorting with pain.
How did you find me anyway?
I don’t know. You just popped out of nowhere. I think the Lord brought me to you. It could not be an accident.
What is all this? What is happening to me? Am I being punished?
I think you are being blessed.
Sister, do you think there is anyone who is willing to defy Mama Mary? What can I do? Tell me, sister, can I go against our Blessed Lady?
I suppose not.
(After a long silent pause.) You win, sister. I will move my show. But I will do it not for you.
I know, for Mama Mary, right?
In that short five minute encounter, we see the hand of God move a mountain not even a top rate impresario or an influ­ential television director could do, which was to ask Kuya Germs to give up the play date for his show. But it was done by an unknown sister working for the Lord.
The coliseum was jam-packed. About 17,000 people came even though there were only 15,000 tickets. And so, the Ballerina danced way for the Madonna. The crowd gave her a violent applause, and she was back in the only thing she lived for. It was the greatest gift of the Ballerina to the Madonna, and vice versa.
Sister Raquel performed group healing on the massive crowd. They all went home happy. The next day, Sister Raquel received hundreds of calls. They were thanking her that they have been healed, many of them with terminal diseases such as cancer. On that fateful birthday of the Virgin, the Lord gave His Mother the perfect gift, thousands healed instant­ly.
If He can move moun­tains, what more a mere show. The Lord works in mysterious ways beyond our imagination. Thank you, Kuya Germs, that you cannot ignore the Madonna’s plea, she has must have paid you back a hundred fold, right?
There are two RVM healing nuns, Sister Raquel and Sister Gloria. To get healing schedules, directions, and guidelines, go to

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Today's Gospel Reading - Sunday, April 21, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Acts 13:14, 43-52
14 Paul and Barnabas continued on from Perga and reached Antioch in Pisidia. On the sabbath they entered the synagogue and took their seats. 43 Many Jews and worshipers who were converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to remain faithful to the grace of God. 44 On the following sabbath almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord.45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and with violent abuse contradicted what Paul said. 46 Both Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first, but since you reject it and condemn yourselves as unworthy of eternal life, we now turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.’’’ 48 The Gentiles were delighted when they heard this and glorified the word of the Lord. All who were destined for eternal life came to believe, 49 and the word of the Lord continued to spread through the whole region. 50 The Jews, however, incited the women of prominence who were worshipers and the leading men of the city, stirred up a persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them from their territory. 51 So they shook the dust from their feet in protest against them and went to Iconium. 52 The believers were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.
P S A L M - Psalm 100:1-2, 3, 5
R: We are his people, the sheep of his flock.
Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful song. (R) Know that the Lord is God; he made us, his we are; his people, the flock he tends. (R) The Lord is good: his kindness endures forever, and his faithfulness, to all generations. (R)
2nd READING - Revelation 7:9, 14-17
I, John, had a vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb, wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. 14 Then one of the elders said to me, “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 For this reason they stand before God’s throne and worship him day and night in his temple. The one who sits on the throne will shelter them. 16 They will not hunger or thirst anymore, nor will the sun or any heat strike them. 17 For the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to springs of life-giving water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my sheep, and mine know me.
John 10:27-30
27 Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of My Hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”


One of the oldest Christian portrayals of Jesus is the image of the Good Shepherd — an image we all like. But very few of us here have ever seen a shepherd or even a flock of sheep. We get our image from pious pictures showing Jesus in pure white garments, cradling a snow-white, cute lamb in His arms or carrying it on His shoulders. But the reality of sheep and shepherds in Palestine during the time of Jesus was quite different. Sheep are dirty, foul-smelling animals and, as some say, the dumbest among all the four-legged animals. And yet, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice… and they follow me.”

Here, we may reflect on our reaction to the voice of Christ. We live in a world where, day after day, we hear many voices. Other sects continue to preach against images, Mama Mary, the Pope and so on, causing many Catholics to be confused.

I wonder why so many listen to those voices and ignore the voice of the Good Shepherd who speaks through the Bible and through the teaching authority of the Church. Unfortunately, even inside the Catholic Church there are voices that do not come from the Good Shepherd. For example, there are certain private messages allegedly received by self-proclaimed visionaries.

The word of Jesus about the shepherd whose voice the sheep know appeals to us to do everything possible to know the Word of God and the teachings of the Church — so well that we do not become frightened or confused by other voices. Let us never be put to shame by dumb sheep! The words of Jesus, our Good Shepherd, should fill us with joy and peace.

We all like Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I shall want.” It’s a beautiful prayer of total trust in the Lord, but do we live each day as if we really, fully trust the voice of the Lord and live as redeemed children of God? Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
REFLECTION QUESTION: Why is it that you often listen to other voices rather than that of the Good Shepherd?
Lord, You are my Shepherd and I hear Your voice every time I read or listen to the Gospels.  And yet, how often do I ignore Your voice! Guide me, Lord, that I may follow only Your voice!

St. Anselm, bishop and doctor of the Church, pray for us.

Do you want to receive this in your email. To get Bo Sanchez to send it to you personally, register and log-on to
Lots of surprises await.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Queen who feared the Church

As Stephen Long steps ashore in England that grey dawn in
May, 1581, he wonders how many more Catholics will have to
die to make Queen Elizabeth feel secure.

Involuntarily, he trembles at the thought that soon
he may be numbered among them.

For in the days ahead each time Stephen hears confession
or celebrates Mass, he commits yet another act of high treason
against the British Crown, for which Elizabeth’s swift penalty
is gruesome torture and slow death.

In the light of that same gray dawn and just a few miles north, a heartbroken Caroline Wingate lies awake in her unhappy marriage bed, wrestling with thoughts of a different — and perhaps crueler  — martyrdom.

Although from her earliest years Caroline has known herself to be called to cloistered contemplative life as a nun, some years ago she was forced by her father into a politically “safe” marriage with an upright Protestant, from whom she must hide her Catholicism — and her true vocation  — lest she, too, be executed for her faith.

Hanging by the neck is swift martyrdom, but Caroline’s doubts and guilt have pained her daily for years now.

Death waits for no man, nor, in 1581, do Elizabeth’s minions: relentlessly, they seek out and kill Catholics, not caring whether fears or doubts, deceits or love (human or divine) stir and trouble the souls of those they kill.

Through this gripping new Catholic novel, you will experience the threatening and fearful world of sixteenth-century Elizabethan England, when men and women fought to practice an outlawed Catholic faith.

A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England

*       *       *
In just a few days, circumstances force Caroline and the young priest together.

With death hastening toward both of them, the beautiful fates of these two faithful Catholics confirm what we today too often forget: our faith is the most powerful force in the world — more powerful than politics, wars, or empires. More powerful even than the hard, cold will of Queen Elizabeth I.
In this heartrending tale, Caroline and Fr. Stephen Long show us that it’s not power that writes the true history of the world; it’s faith: faith and the love that faith alone can awaken and sustain.

Treason is one of the most powerful historical novels
I’ve ever read. It brings to vivid and shocking life the
age in which Shakespeare lived and in which the
English martyrs died.” 

Joseph Pearce
author of The Quest for Shakespeare


Treason: A Catholic Novel of Elizabethan England
by Dena Hunt
208 Pages - $14.95

Order online

Save 40% when you order the set:

Treason and The Spanish Match for only $23.95
(A $40 value!)
Murder, mayhem, and religion fustrate the royal courtship that, through love, seeks to make peace between warring enemies England and Spain.

In 1623 Charles, heir to the throne of England, dons a disguise, crosses the Channel, rides horseback across France, and sneaks into Madrid, capital of England’s proud Catholic enemy, Spain.

His mission? To woo the lovely María, sister of the King of Spain, and accomplish by marriage what decades of war have failed to do: reconcile the two embittered nations.

Once Charles and María meet, neither palace intrigues nor bloody murders cool their growing attraction. One thing alone prevents their union: María’s Catholic Faith . . . which she will not abandon and England cannot abide.

Yes, Charles’s marriage to Catholic María would briefy unite the kingdoms, but could soon destroy the monarchy. Outraged at the prospect of a Catholic queen, Charles’s Puritan subjects are sure to rise up and take from him not only his throne, but even his life . . . and María’s . . . plunging Europe into warfare greater than any seen before.

From detailed records of this actual love’s gambit author Brennan 
Pursell has crafted a moving novel of faith, courage, danger, and hope, a tale in which the fate of nations hangs on the love of two young people: Prince Charles of England and Princess María of Spain.
Save 40% when you order the set:

Treason and The Spanish Match for only $23.95
(A $40 value!)

Order online


Order online above, or call

Friday, April 19, 2013

Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future

by Samuel Gregg - published by Encounter Books, 2013

A Book Review by Father John McCloskey
Samuel Gregg, Director of Research at the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has written a very timely book given the concerning state of our economy and more importantly our ever-declining moral life. Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and How America Can Avoid a European Future is a sobering, many faceted, but not fatalistic look at our present and possible futures.
Becoming Europe opens with an account of the human slaughter and economic disaster of the First World War, which, as they say, "changed everything." In particular, it opened the way for the Second World War, in part through the economic collapse of a defeated Germany during the Weimar Republic. The desperate situation in which a bankrupt Germany found itself eventually offered an opening for the hate-filled demagoguery of Adolph Hitler, the Third Reich, and the Second World War.
Gregg then explains how, following World War II, a recovering Western Europe grappled with varied economic and cultural influences ranging from Christian Democratic (largely Catholic) economists and statesmen from the right side of the spectrum to socialist and communist-leaning influences on the left. Both sides vied to establish their own versions of a just society in governmental forms during the fifties and sixties, up to the collapse of the Soviet Union and its satellites by 1989.
Much of the rest of the book describes in sorry detail what Europe is today: the crush of enormous debt, government consuming close to 50% of the economy, high taxation and high numbers of public workers being supported by an ever-dwindling class of private-sector employees.
How can the U.S. sidestep a similar fate? You will have to read Gregg's book to get the details, but the solution is not only economic but spiritual.
Gregg prefaces his book with a quotation from the man who arguably best understood the United States in its early decades and many of whose observations still hold true. In his Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote: "The greatness of America lies not in being more enlightened than any other nation but rather in her ability to repair her faults."
Well, the jury is still out. Gregg, although a staunch Catholic, does not fully play the Catholic card in choosing that Tocqueville quote, but I will. Tocqueville also wrote:
The men of our days are naturally little disposed to believe; but as soon as they have any religion, they immediately find in themselves a latent instinct that urges them unconsciously towards Catholicism. Many of the doctrines and practices of the Roman Catholic Church astonish them, but they feel a secret admiration for its discipline, and its great unity attracts them. If Catholicism could at length withdraw itself from the political animosities to which it has given rise, I have hardly any doubt but that the same spirit of the age which appears to be so opposed to it would become so favorable as to admit of its great and sudden advancement.
If we do not want to become like current-day Europe, we need to chart a different course. Perhaps only an unadulterated and evangelizing Catholicism may over time help our country survive in recognizable form and reinvigorate us to in turn re-evangelize with gratitude what is left of Europe, the incubator of our culture.
First appeared in National Catholic Register, April 2013.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Top 7 Tasks for Pope Francis

by Father John McCloskey

Now who am I to offer advice to the new Pope? Nobody, of course, but since my publisher thinks I have something to say, here are my recommendations in no particular order.
1. First (and you perhaps have already made this decision), continue to be yourself. You are not a young man, but neither was Blessed John XXIII, and he accomplished quite a lot in a scant five years. Your emphasis on the poor will certainly help the many countries and indeed continents that are still undeveloped. And you are witnessing powerfully to your passion for the poor by your personal example of living detachment in the Vatican in these first weeks of your pontificate.
2. Follow the example of your two predecessors and travel frequently so that people all over the world can see a non-European pope—and a native Spanish speaker. Most particularly, concentrate on the Western hemisphere, home of the majority of Catholics. You already have World Youth Day on your schedule in August in Brazil—why not take the opportunity to visit your home country of Argentina and perhaps even drop in at Mexico City? A short visit to Our Lady of Guadalupe's shrine would be fitting. Aggressively strive to bring back to Rome the many millions of Latinos who have become evangelicals. And speaking of dispersed faithful, why not follow up on the historic presence of the Patriarch of Constantinople at your installation Mass with a series of visits to all the countries that profess the Orthodox faith, including Russia, and plead for reconciliation? Perhaps you could even offer to convene a council to discuss possible reconciliation? Peter must be reunited with his brother Andrew!
However, as you may already have concluded, do not make old Europe a priority. Essentially, you should let Europe's bishops carry out the new evangelization there. Time is short and your own mission is essentially global, not local. Devote your time to evangelizing what can be, rather than what once was and may never be again.
If possible, plan a visit to China, which is full of millions of both Catholics and Protestants. China's leaders may in time conclude that Christianity does not threaten the regime but can be an asset if they grant full religious liberty to their people and get rid of the last vestiges of Communism.
3. Pay special attention to rejuvenating the religious orders, most particularly your own, the Society of Jesus! While the post-Vatican II decades have properly focused attention on the laity, it is only right for men and women religious to receive encouragement to live well their own vocations, return to the charisms of their founders, and seek others to join them for the good of the Church!
No one can do this better than a Jesuit pope who himself has witnessed firsthand the decline of religious during the last 50 years. Time for a Religious Renaissance!
4. Your Holiness, I am not asking you to become a techie, but the ever-developing communications media in all their variety may be the most effective way to spread the gospel to the entire world. Of course you must know this, especially since you along with the rest of the world watched the pastoral pilgrimages of Blessed John Paul and Pope Benedict (at the end of the latter's pontificate he was "tweeting").Do not fear the Internet but view it as another instrument of evangelization that can pave the way for the one-on-one witness of family and friends.
5. Pay little or no attention to the hostile secular media, poor souls who do not understand our Faith or the Church or its mission. We will never satisfy them. Assign a top-flight media professional layman and or laywoman (wouldn't that be cool?) to handle the press and then ignore them.
6. The Curia? If there is a real problem, make your decisions about what to do and then empower a trustworthy Cardinal to implement them, with surety and kindness. My suggestion is simple: I would make the Curia completely and proportionally international and if possible place more women there.
7. Finally, Your Holiness, speaking as an American citizen, please clarify that putative Catholics (particularly those in public office) must not scandalize the faithful by receiving Holy Communion (as occurred at your Mass of Installation), although they promote laws directly violating the Church's moral teachings.
If you need more advice, just ask, but I don't expect to hear from you soon!
First appeared on Aleteia, March 26, 2013.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Soldier priest receives ultimate medal

By Larry Shaughnessy, CNN Pentagon Producer

Washington (CNN)–Capt. Emil Kapaun served in the U.S. Army in World War II and Korea, but he didn't carry a rifle and never fired a shot. His weapons were a Bible and his faith.

He was also Father Kapaun, a Roman Catholic chaplain who received the Medal of Honor on Thursday, 60 years after his death while a North Korean prisoner. The medal is the highest award for valor in the U.S. military.

President Barack Obama, in a White House ceremony, recounted Kapaun's efforts, at risk of his own life, to help wounded and captured troops.

"This is an amazing story," said Obama. "Father Kapaun has been called a shepherd in combat boots. His fellow soldiers who felt his grace and his mercy called him a saint, a blessing from God."

In June 1950, Kapaun was ordered to Korea as the war was in its earliest stages.

Supporting the soldiers of the 8th Infantry Regiment, Kapaun found himself in the heavily contested Pusan perimeter. Army documents supporting his nomination for the medal say he would bike from position to position so he could minister to soldiers, hearing confessions, performing last rites or administering Holy Communion.

Army photos from the war show he often celebrated Mass using the hood of a Jeep as an altar.

Three months after arriving in Korea, Kapaun was awarded the Bronze Star for valor for running through enemy fire to carry wounded soldiers to safety.

In November 1950, his unit went on the move. But Kapaun stayed behind to minister to the wounded soldiers, knowing he was putting himself in danger of capture by the enemy, said his nephew, Ray Kapaun, who represented the family at Thursday's ceremony.

President Barack Obama holds Chaplain (Captain) Emil Kapaun's Easter stole in the Oval Office during a greet with Kapaun's family in the Oval Office, April 11, 2013.

Father Kapaun came to the aid of a wounded American soldier after U.S. troops surrendered in a battle.

"An enemy soldier was standing over (the soldier), rifle aimed at his head ready to shoot," said Obama. "And Father Kapaun marched over and pushed the enemy soldier aside. And then as the soldier watched stunned, Father Kapaun carried that wounded American away. "

The chaplain carried the GI four miles on a death march.

North Korean and Chinese troops marched Kapaun and the other captured troops nearly 100 miles north in the bitter winter weather. When Chinese soldiers tried to kill wounded POWs who were slowing the march, Kapaun risked his own life to stop them, and then persuaded unwounded POWs to help the wounded, according to his nephew.

Kapaun was imprisoned with 200 other soldiers at a camp near Pyoktong, North Korea. While there, he would sneak through the camp ministering to other prisoners.

"He would come around, saying, 'Hot coffee,' and give hot water to all of us," said Mike Dowe, a fellow prisoner at Pyoktong. "That may not sound like much today but it sure meant a lot under those circumstances."

To keep his fellow POWs from starving, Kapaun would break out of the camp at night, steal food and sneak back in to give it to those who needed it the most, his nephew said.
That earned him the nickname "The Good Thief" from the other POWs.

Eventually, the people who ran the camp took action to move him to a nearby hospital. Whether it was for treatment for an injured leg or to remove his influence over the prisoners will never be known, but Dowe and others tried to stop the North Koreans from taking him away.

"The Koreans came and they said that they have to take him to the hospital and the hospital, you can ask all the guys, I mean the hospital was a death house, it was where you go and you never come back, and everybody knew that," Dowe said. "All the guys tried to stop (them) from taking him there, even at one point a fight broke out."

Kapaun was taken away in the end. He died May 23, 1951, and his body was buried in a mass grave, where it remains.

After the war ended, a group of POWs emerged with a wooden crucifix nearly 4 feet tall.
"They had spent months on it, secretly collecting firewood, carving it - the cross and the body - using radio wire for a crown of thorns," said Obama. "It was a tribute to their friend, their chaplain, their fellow prisoner who had touched their souls and saved their lives, Father Emil Kapaun."

Kapaun was born and raised in Pilsen, Kansas. After high school, he attended Conception Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Missouri.

After the abbey, he studied for the priesthood at Kenrick Seminary in St. Louis. Kapaun was ordained in 1940 and that same year became a U.S. Army chaplain.

After serving at several posts in the United States and India, he left the Army and went to the Catholic University of America in Washington to earn a master's degree in education. After getting the degree in 1948, he returned to the Army.

The Vatican named Kapaun a servant of God in 1993, an early step that could lead to canonization.

For now, his nephew said, the family just wants his remains returned from North Korea.
Obama told the White House audience that Kapaun provided an example for people in uniform and not.

"Father Kapaun's life, I think, is a testimony to his human spirit, the power of faith, and reminds us of the good that we can do each and every day regardless of the most difficult of circumstances," said the president.

- CNN Belief Blog

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Today's Gsopel Reading - Sunday, April 14, 2013 with Reflection

1ST READING - Acts 5:27-32, 40-41

27 When the captain and the court officers had brought the apostles in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, 28 “We gave you strict orders did we not, to stop teaching in that name? Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’sblood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey  God rather than men. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.” 40 The Sanhedrin ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. 41 So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name.
P S A L M - Psalm 30: 2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13

R: I will praise you, Lord, for you have rescued me.
1 [2] I will extol you, O Lord, for you drew me clear and did not let my enemies rejoice over me. 3 [4] O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from among those going down into the pit. (R) 4 [5] Sing praise to the Lord, you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his Holy Name. 5 [6]For his anger lasts but a moment; a lifetime, his good will. At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing. (R) 10 [11] “Hear, O Lord, and have pity on me; O Lord, be my helper.” 11 [12] You changed my mourning into dancing; 12 [13] O Lord, my God, forever will I give you thanks. (R)
2ND READING - Revelation 5:11-14

11 I, John, looked again and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless in number, 12 and they cried out in a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength, honor and glory and blessing.” 13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: “To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor, glory and might, forever and ever.” 14 The four living creatures answered, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshipped.

Christ is risen, creator of all; he has shown pity on all people.
John 21:1-19

At that time, Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias. He revealed himself in this way. 2Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We also will come with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore; but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” They answered him, “No.” So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something.” So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish. So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad, and jumped into the sea. The other disciples came in the boat, for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards, dragging the net with the fish. 9When they climbed out on shore, they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore full of one hundred fifty-three large fish. Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.12 Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.” And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish. 14 This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples after being raised from the dead. 15 When they had finishedbreakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He then said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do  you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you!” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 He said this signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when he had said this, he said to him, “Follow me.”


It is always a special moment when I reach Tabgha, a quiet spot at the shore along the Sea of Galilee in the Holy Land. A small chapel by the lake, called the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy, built in basalt, invites one to visit. It covers a massive rock called “Mensa Christi,” the traditional site where the  Risen Lord prepared breakfast for His seven disciples, as today’s Gospel narrates so vividly. Outside the chapel, under shady trees, overlooking the calm lake, stands a modern bronze sculpture showing Peter kneeling before the Risen Christ who asked him three times, “Peter, do you love me?”

Three times — obviously to make up for the three times Peter had denied his Master in the Garden of Gethsemane. No wonder Peter felt sad, being reminded of his weakness and failure.

In the original Greek text of the Gospel, we discover something else. There are three words for “love” in Greek. The first two times, Jesus uses those words which mean the highest form of love, but Peter, now more humble than ever, uses the Greek word for a lesser kind of love — another reason for him to feel sad. But then, the third time, Jesus also uses the word for the lesser kind of love. He challenged Peter to an ideal, but seeing that he was not ready for it, Jesus steps down to his level, meets him where he is, knowing well that over the years Peter would reach that ideal love when he would give his life for Christ on a cross in Rome.

That’s Good News, indeed. We are also challenged by the Lord to reach high ideals in our faith life, but so often, we fail Him and do not come up to the Lord’s expectations. Yet this should not discourage us. Jesus understands us as He understood Peter. He meets us where we are right now, if only we allow Him to lead us and move forward to the Christian ideal we are called to. In Christian life, there is no standing still and relaxing. Christian life is an adventure, a challenge, a constant moving on. Fr. Rudy Horst, SVD
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: How strong is your love for God? How does it show in your daily life?
Lord, if You ask me today, “Do you love me?” I would say yes but, to be honest, my love is not strong enough to give myself totally to You. Lord, let me love You even more.

Blessed Peter Gonzalez, pray for us.

Do you want to receive this in your email. To get Bo Sanchez to send it to you personally, register and log-on to
Lots of surprises await.