Imagine a world where a young man rolls out of bed to the street on a gray winter morning. He walks by a shop in the neighborhood and catches a glimpse of a TV through an old window, showing an image of the Pope. Yet what catches his attention is the fact that the so-called beautiful St. Peter’s Basilica behind him doesn’t really look like something to be proud of; it looks more green than white. Then he sees a Middle Eastern Christian family begging for help, saying they were alone and desperate in a city still devastated.
The image sets a tone for the state in which the Church and many neighborhoods and families could be if the Knights of Columbus didn’t carry out the work they do. They are often the unseen force that has made God’s voice audible in the poor, widows, children, nation and Church.
It was the Knights who funded the greatest restoration of the 65,000-square-foot façade of St. Peter’s Basilica in 350 years. It was the Knights who fought until the phrase “under God” was included in the pledge of allegiance in response to the Communist threat of the time. It was them who helped dozens of priests and seminarians during the Mexican Cristero War and the Ku Klux Klan attacks in the last century.
These same Knights of Columbus are still in our midst, transforming our culture through education, advancing and sustaining our parishes, giving wheelchairs to families in need, consistently serving in the Special Olympics, building homes, accompanying veterans, college students and children…
The over $1.5 billion this Catholic fraternal organization has given to charity in the past 10 years and the impressive number of services it provides are the fruits of these great men from all over the world, of these great and simple men at your parish – the same ones who enjoy grilling and sell Tootsie Rolls outside a grocery store.
They make this possible. So, next time you see a Knight, make sure you tell him, “Thank you, Sir Knight.”
At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to Jesus to the last.
-Stabat Mater Hymn
The season of Lent begins next week on Ash Wednesday, February 14! Are you prepared?
Lent is a time of prayer, penance and reflection. Among our many acts and observances, Catholics commemorate the suffering and death of our Lord by praying the Stations of the Cross.
The National Shrine is pleased to offer this beautiful Way of the Cross devotional booklet to aid your contemplation of the Lord’s Passion during this Lenten Season.
Featuring meditations on the fourteen Stations written by Saint Alphonsus Liguori, we hope this booklet will be a prayerful means of uniting with Our Lord in his suffering and with his mother Mary, who stood at the foot of the Cross.
Request your copy today and make a donation to the National Shrine using our secure online form.
Thank you for your generous support of Mary’s Shrine. May the peace of Our Lord and His Blessed Mother be with you as you prepare to begin the journey of Lent.
Registration opens at 8:00am
Conference begins at 9:30am
Vigil Mass for Sunday begins at 4:00pm
There is new information on our website so check it out now. Don’t delay!
Who are the speakers?
Mark Hart is our keynote presenter this year. He is inspiring, funny, and will have you on the edge of your seat. You don’t want to miss it.
Father Dan Beeman hails from our own diocese. He’s a tremendous preacher with a great sense of humor and poignant insights into what it takes to be a true man of God. What’s new this year?
We have a full conference for Spanish-speaking men featuring John Fredy Jiménez Montenegro, Comunicador Social y Periodista Católico, Especializado en Comunicación Organizacional, Universidad Central de Colombia. Joining him will be Daniel Villar from the Office for Hispanic Ministry at the diocese.
Bishop Olmsted issues apostolic exhortation on masculinity | The Catholic Sun
Catholic men must reclaim and live the virtue of Christian masculinity, says Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted in his apostolic exhortation, “Into the Breach.”
Promulgated on the Feast of the Archangels, Sept. 29, Bishop Olmsted issued “Into the Breach: An Apostolic Exhortation to the Catholic men, my spiritual sons in the Diocese of Phoenix” as a charge for Catholic men to be prepared for spiritual battle for their souls and the souls of their families.
The name of the exhortation is taken from the Prophet Ezekiel, “And I sought for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the breach before me for the land…” (22:30).
Citing statistics about the decreasing involvement in parish life and participation in the sacraments, the bishop notes that “While we know that Christ welcomes back every repentant sinner, the truth is that large numbers of Catholic men are failing to keep the promises they made at their children’s baptisms — promises to bring them to Christ and to raise them in the faith of the Church.”
In defining what it means to be a Catholic man, Bishop Olmsted says that Jesus, fully God and fully man, is the perfection of masculinity. “Only in Jesus Christ can we find the highest display of masculine virtue and strength that we need in our personal lives and in society itself.”
Bishop Olmsted offers the saints as models of masculinity, recommending male saints such as St. Joseph, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Thomas More, Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati and others as examples.
Bishop Olmsted then leads into the second question of his exhortation: how does a Catholic man love? The bishop describes the types of masculine love: as friend, husband and father. Stressing the importance of men finding a “band of brothers” to join in Christian fraternity, he offers examples in the diocesan Men’s Conferences, the Knights of Columbus, the That Man Is You program and the Cursillo movement.
“We see that Jesus called His disciples to Himself in such a way that they would form deep bonds of friendship and brotherhood,” he says. “I am convinced that if men will seek true brotherhood, the adversities we face today will solidify bands of brothers who will be lauded in Heaven!” added the bishop.
In describing how a man loves as a husband, he challenges young men to prepare for marriage before meeting their future brides. “Such training in sacrifice is to love your bride before you meet her, so that you may one day say, ‘Before I knew you, I was faithful to you.’”
Speaking to those called to be husbands, he reminds them of St. Paul’s exhortation for husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. “This is the glory, men! Called to marriage, you are called to be as Christ to your bride.” When proclaiming this truth, he says, “you radiate the light of Christ in an area of society so darkened by what has always threatened spousal love.
“We need to see masculine chastity for what it is, whereas too often, this virtue is seen in negative light, as something weak,” adds the bishop. “Chastity is strength and a rejection of slavery to the passions. Christians have always believed that chastity, whether in marriage or celibacy, is a freedom from the enslavement to sin and our passions.”
Tackling the sins of pornography and masturbation, he says that while the culture wrongly encourages these “narcissistic” habits, they do nothing more than teach men to use others.
“Think of pornography as just as serious and no less grave than adultery,” he says. “To attempt to love another person while engaging in this practiced narcissism, without being transformed by mercy, will surely bring grave harm.”
By considering the contexts of temptations, we are able to invite God to send His grace, says the bishop, adding that in the Sacrament of Confession is found “superabundant grace and support.”
“Through building purity of heart, men, you will not only see God in the women in your lives but also in yourselves, also the ‘image of God’! Even if the darkness seems insurmountable, Christ never abandons us.”
Moving into the final section of his exhortation, Bishop Olmsted notes that the number of children born to unmarried homes has increased 700 percent since 1950, adding that there are those in the culture who don’t see fatherlessness as a problem.
“Do not be fooled by those voices wishing to erase all distinctions between mothers and fathers, ignoring the complementarity that is inherent in creation itself,” he says. “Step up and lovingly, patiently take up your God-given role as protector, provider, and spiritual leader of your home. A father’s role as spiritual head of the family must never be understood or undertaken as domination over others, but only as a loving leadership and a gentle guidance for those in your care.”
Fatherhood, whether in a family or through the priesthood, reflects imperfectly the Fatherhood of God, Bishop Olmsted says.
“To fully live, all men must be fathers and live out their fatherhood!” says Bishop Olmsted. “If you do not embrace the spousal and fatherly vocation God has planned for you, you will be stuck in the impotence of the ‘seed’ that refuses to die and refuses to give life. Don’t settle for this half-life! The question for every man is not, ‘Am I called to be a father?’ but rather, ‘What kind of father am I called to be?’”
In a special section to grandfathers, Bishop Olmsted remembered his own grandfathers, who passed along to him faith, the value of hard work and a respect for all other people and for God’s creation.
Bishop Olmsted also encouraged those whose fathers were absent in their lives. “There are many reasons why men abandon their responsibilities, or even if they remain, stay distant, as a result of the lack of positive experience of fatherhood in their own lives,” he says. “This wound in your heart may not yet have healed. … Allow Christ to show you the Father who never abandons his children, but rather offers his only begotten Son.”
To those who have failed in their roles as fathers, he also encouraged them to ask God the Father to guide them and to seek renewal in prayer and the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
The bishop concluded his exhortation with a call to action — that the men of the diocese go forward confidently in their vocations as men and to embrace the authentic freedom offered by Christ.
“We need to get off the sidelines and stand up for life on the front lines. We need faith like that of our fathers who defended the children of previous generations and who gave up their own lives rather than abandon their faith in Christ. My sons and brothers, men of the Diocese of Phoenix, we need you to step into the breach!”
October is “Respect Life Month” as observed by U.S. Catholics. It marks the beginning of a year-long program for Catholics to learn more about respect for the dignity of human life, as well as encouraging prayer for a greater respect for life. Please read the Statement by Cardinal O’Malley.
The theme for the 2015 Respect Life Month is “Every Life is Worth Living.” The U.S. Bishops’ Respect Life Program has provided reading materials for Catholics on topics like abortion and end-of-life care.
Upcoming Respect Life Events for Parishioners
Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat, October 2nd to 4th
Retreat for post-abortion healing. More information on Rachel’s Vineyard is at rachelsvineyard.org. More information about the retreat, confidentially contact Maggie Carlson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What did Pope Francis say Tuesday in his statement about abortion and mercy? Is it any different from what the Church has always taught? National Review Online consults experts in theology, medicine, and post-abortion ministry.
Iraqi archbishop reflects on persecution of Christians during visit
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil, Iraq, concelebrates an Aug. 23 Mass at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The archbishop visited several U.S. cities and discussed his experience with the flood of Christian refugees to Irbil following the Islamic State’s capture of Mosul and the Ninevah Plain. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)
By Sean Gallagher
Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Bashar Warda of Irbil in northern Iraq pauses and places his face in his hands when asked how his faith has been challenged and spurred on in the crisis that he has helped manage over the past year.
In the summer of 2014, Islamic State militants conquered the nearby city of Mosul, with its large and historic Christian community. Later, they took a series of historic Christian villages in the Plain of Nineveh north of Mosul.
The Christians of Mosul and the villages were told to convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, die or leave with nothing.
Some 125,000 Christians, including three bishops, 50 priests and 90 religious sisters, chose the last option. Many of them flooded Irbil to the east as refugees.
Archbishop Warda spoke about his experiences of caring for the suffering faithful, his gratitude for the support that Catholics across America and around the world have given to the Church in Iraq, and his hopes for its future in an interview with The Criterion when he visited Indianapolis recently.
Earlier in the month, he took part in the 133rd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus in Philadelphia on Aug. 4-6. The Knights of Columbus has contributed much to support persecuted Christians in Iraq. He came to Indiana to visit Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin. Both were previously Redemptorist priests before being chosen to serve as bishops. During his visit, he also was a concelebrant at the archdiocese’s annual Golden Wedding Jubilee Mass on Aug. 23 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. (See related story here)