Pope in Pompeii

I include the amazing story of the former satanist priest, Blessed Bartolo  Longo, along with the novena to Our Lady of the Rosary in The Church’s Most Powerful Novenas. Pope Benedict is there today.  From Asia News Italy:

Entrusting the synod on the Word of God to Mary, “in whose womb to Word was made flesh,” “that it may bring the fruit of authentic renewal to every Christian community,” and urging prayers for those who “exert their energies in service of the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations.” These are the reasons for the pilgrimage that Benedict XVI made today to Pompeii, the town near Naples reborn last century around the shrine conceived by Blessed Bartolo Longo and dedicated in a special way to the Rosary, which the pope described today as “a singular gift from Mary.” It is a prayer to which the shrine is dedicated, conceived by a man who in his youth was “militantly anti-clerical,” and devoted “to spiritualistic and superstitious practices,” “tendencies that are not lacking in our day.”

Starting very early in the morning, tens of thousands of people gathered in the large square in front of the shrine, in order to take part in the Mass celebrated by Benedict XVI, who came “in the footsteps” of John Paul II, “in particular in order to entrust to the Mother of God, in whose womb the Word was made flesh, the assembly of the synod of bishops taking place in the Vatican, on the theme of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church.”

“My visit,” he immediately added, “also coincides with World Mission Sunday: by contemplating Mary as She who welcomed to the Word of God and gave him to the world, we will pray at this Mass for those in the Church who exert their energies in service of the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations.” “In this month of October, month of missions and of the Rosary,” he added at the end of the Mass, before reciting the Angelus, “so many faithful, so many communities offer the holy Rosary for missions and for evangelization! I am therefore happy to find myself here today, at this commemoration, here in Pompeii, at the most important shrine dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary. In fact, this gives me an opportunity to emphasize with greater force that the first missionary responsibility of each of us is prayer. And it is above all by praying that the way is prepared for the Gospel; it is by praying that hearts are opened to the mystery of God, and souls are disposed to receive his Word of salvation.”

During the Mass, illustrating the Gospel story of the wedding in Cana, the pope highlighted “the role of Mary, who at the beginning is called ‘the mother of Jesus’, but whom her Son himself then calls ‘woman’, placing before kinship the spiritual connection according to which Mary personifies the beloved bride of the Lord, meaning the people he has chosen to spread his blessing to the entire human family.”

The founder of the “new Pompeii,” Bartolo Longo, was remembered by the pope in part because “his spiritual crisis and conversion appear to have great relevance today. In fact, while he was studying at the university in Naples, he was influenced by the immanentist and positivist philosophers, and strayed from his Christian faith, becoming militantly anti-clerical and giving himself to spiritualistic and superstitious practices. His conversion, with the discovery of the true face of God, contains a very eloquent message for us, because unfortunately such tendencies are not lacking in our day. In this Pauline Year, I am pleased to emphasize that Bartolo Longo, like St. Paul, was transformed from a persecutor into an apostle: an apostle of the Christian faith, of Marian devotion, and in particular, of the Rosary, in which he found a synthesis of the entire Gospel.” But his conversion itself represents “an historical demonstration of how God transforms the world: by filling man’s heart with charity, making it an ‘engine’ of religious and social renewal. Pompeii is an example of how faith can operate in the city of man, raising up apostles of charity who place themselves at the service of the lowly and the poor, and who work so that even the least may be respected in their dignity, and find acceptance and advancement.”

At the end of the Mass, before the Angelus, the pope recited the prayer to the Madonna of Pompeii, which concludes with the offering of the “Golden Rose” to Mary.

Finally, before the Angelus, the pope spoke of today’s beatification in Lisieux of Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin, the parents of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, declared by Pius XI as patroness of the missions. “Thinking of the beatification of the Martin couple, I am urged to recall another intention so close to my heart: the family, the role of which is fundamental in raising up children in a universal spirit of openness and responsibility toward the world and its problems, as also in the formation of vocations to the missionary life.”

Louis and Zélie Martin Beatified Today

Parents of the Little Flower, St. Therese. From Catholic Online:

The Venerable Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus of the Holy Face, will be beatified on Mission Sunday, October 19, in the basilica dedicated to their daughter at Lisieux in France. The first parents of a saint to be beatified, they are the first spouses in the history of the Church to be proposed for sainthood as a couple and the second to be beatified together. 

Zélie and Louis are an inspiration to the families of today. Each owned a small business and worked hard while raising a large family. In the 19th century this two-career couple faced the challenges we face in the 21st: finding good child care; achieving professional excellence; operating a profitable business; caring for aging parents; educating a special-needs child; forming their children in the faith; finding time to pray and to be active in their parish. 

Devout Catholics, they saw Christ in the poor and worked for a just society. In 1877 Zélie died of breast cancer, leaving Louis a single parent with five minor daughters to bring up. Later Louis was diagnosed with cerebral arteriosclerosis and spent three years in a psychiatric hospital. 

Like us, Louis and Zélie could not control their circumstances. Life came at them unexpectedly, just as it comes at us. They could not prevent their tragedies: the Franco-Prussian war, when they had to house nine German soldiers; the infant deaths of four of their nine children, one from abuse by a wet-nurse; their painful diseases; Zélie’s premature death. Nor could they escape their responsibilities as business owners, caregivers, spouses, and parents. Their genius lay in how they accepted what happened to them: they accepted their own powerlessness, that God might be all-powerful in their lives. 

They taught the same radical openness to their youngest daughter, Thérèse, now a doctor of the Church. Zélie and Louis were not declared “blessed” because of Thérèse. She became a saint because of them. They created an environment that invited her to holiness, and she responded freely to the invitation they offered her. 
They offer the same invitation to us. 

We know many “married saints,” but most canonized saints have not been married. In recognizing Louis and Zélie as a blessed couple, the Church points to the mystery of the vocation of marriage, the way of life in which most people are called to reach the common goal of all Christians: sainthood. Engaged unreservedly in the responsibilities of daily life, Zélie and Louis became saints in the fabric of their marriage. 

They epitomize the words of Pope John Paul II: “Heroism must become daily, and the daily must become heroic.” They are the heroes of the everyday.Jose Cardinal Saraiva Martins will preside at the Beatification Mass at the Basilica of Saint Thérèse in Lisieux on Mission Sunday, October 19.

Last Chance

Who else would compare the Rays with “Joe the plumber”?

From Mike Bianchi in the Orlando Sentinel:

We so badly need them to win Game 7 tonight. We so desperately need them in the World Series.

If John McCain and Barack Obama were debating this issue of national importance, even they would be forced to agree. As a nation, we need a standard and a symbol for hoping and coping. We need America’s Team in the World Series.

We need the Tampa Bay Rays to show us it’s possible to endure tough economic times; that somehow, someway, you can scrimp and scrape and scramble and struggle and find a way to git ‘er done.

Give me your tired, your poor, your $43 million payroll.

It’s going to be a gargantuan task now after Saturday night’s 4-2 Game 6 loss to the Red Sox coming on the heels of Thursday’s monumental meltdown in Beantown. Let’s face it, these are the world-champion Red Sox — a team that has built its entire reputation on rising from the dead.

The same Red Sox that came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Indians last season and 3-0 against the Yankees in 2004. The same Red Sox that were down 7-0 and seven outs from elimination in Game 5 Thursday. And now — gulp! — they’ve tied it 3-3 and have more momentum than those MadonnaA-Rod rumors.

Then again, this only seems fitting, right? If the Rays are going to go to the Series, it shouldn’t be easy. These are, after all, tough times in America — and for America’s Team.

The Red Sox may be the defending champs, but they aren’t America’s Team. Neither are the Yankees. Not anymore. Those teams are what America used to be. They represent gluttony and excess. They areFannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They are General Motors and Bear Stearns.

The Rays? They’re Joe the Plumber.

Actually, they’re a team everyone can embrace — Joe the Plumber, Sam the Electrician, Judy the Bank Teller and even Mikey the Sports Writer. In these uncertain times in the workplace where everybody is being asked to do more with less, the Rays are a team we should all celebrate and emulate.

Even the man who threw out the ceremonial first pitch Saturday night — Florida Gov. Charlie Crist — could learn a lesson from them about financial restraint. Although this can’t be confirmed, it is believed by the time the Guv wound up and tossed the ball to the Rays’ Rocco Baldelli, the state budget deficit increased by another $100 million.

The arrogant, blue-blooded elitists claim the Rays are the one team America’s TV viewers absolutely do NOT want to see in the World Series. But why?

Isn’t sports supposed to be a microcosm of society? Isn’t sports supposed to teach us something about ourselves and about our lives? Shouldn’t our national pastime show us how to cure our national malaise?

The Rays have taught us that you can get your teeth kicked in over and over again, but if you keep getting up, keep trying and keep fighting, you can conquer your demons.

The Rays were the worst team in baseball last season. They had finished at the very bottom of their division in eight of their nine years of existence. But taking a cue from Manager Joe Maddon, they kept trusting, kept thinking maybe this year would be the year.

The Rays have taught us during this foreclosure crisis that you can fix up that old house without taking out a loan you can’t afford to buy a new one. The Trop may not be the nicest house in the majors, but it’s starting to feel more and more like a home. The Rays have spruced it up, redecorated, added some modern conveniences and turned it into a place the fans are starting to take pride in.

If only we had followed the Rays’ example before now maybe America wouldn’t be in the financial shape we’re in. The Rays, you see, learned to live within their means long ago. They have the second-lowest payroll in baseball and have never spent what they didn’t have. They’ve learned to sacrifice and pay the price.

They don’t need any stinking federal bailout.

But they do need a win in Game 7 tonight.

Now, more than ever, they need something good to happen to them.

We all do.

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