Showing posts with the label Pope John Paul II

At Home With the Blessed Mother

I was so  blessed to have given a talk this past Sunday (the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary) on the power of the rosary at an Altar Rosary Society Communion Breakfast. The fidelity of the women I met there and the testimonies they shared with me of how they have seen the power of the Rosary win battles in their own lives was inspiring and I was truly blessed to be among them.

Part of my talk focused on the role of Mary as our Mother and Teacher, based on this powerful quote from Pope John Paul II.

Click here to read my reflections

Entrusting My Fertility to God

I did not plan on having a large family; I had never even held a baby before our firstborn. I had moved east with Michael after our first baby was born, which cut me off from daily contact with friends and family. Although I enjoyed living in the country, raising our own vegetables and later even all our own meat, it was an isolated existence. I felt like Ruth in a foreign land but without family support because Michael’s mother was busy with a huge extended family. In addition, my husband struggled with depression. Worldly opinion screamed we should not have any more children. The question we had struggled with for years was,“How could we remain faithful to Church teaching when Natural Family Planning did not seem to work for us?” continue reading

In our prayers, remember lawmakers

"In order to achieve their task directed to the Christian animation of the temporal order, in the sense of serving persons and society, the lay faithful are never to relinquish their participation in 'public life', that is, in the many different economic, social, legislative, administrative and cultural areas, which are intended to promote organically and institutionally the common good." --Pope St. John Paul II, apostolic exhortation Christifideles Laici

In my state, the legislature convenes today. People from a wide variety of backgrounds are coming together to make decisions about the right to life and the government's role in protecting the public good. What's a good Catholic to do in the face of what can seem like a decidedly messy secular environment like the State House?

Pray, of course. Not in desperation, but in hope and confidence. The trick is to remember that our hope and confidence lay not in human institutions, but in God. Either God is sovereign…

The Family Fully Undead

Thousands of people will pour into Philadelphia this September to celebrate the Eighth World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis. On June 25, the Vatican officially presented the theme for the event:

Love is our mission: the family fully alive Lovely! On the other hand, do I want my family to be fully alive? That sounds like a handful. There are, after all, so many ways to be alive. My neighbor is alive at 6:50 am every Saturday and Sunday, cleaning his deck with a leaf blower powered by an engine from a Boeing 747. Alive was the man who cut me off in traffic yesterday, swearing at me colorfully through his open window. Children who fight over whose turn it is to wash the dishes? Very much alive.

Sometimes "alive" feels more like "undead."

But the World Meeting theme recalls the famous line by the second century theologian St. Irenaeus: "The the Glory of God is man fully alive." Pope St. John Paul II admired Irenaeus greatly and explained the context of…

John Paul II: My First Pope Crush

Here he is.
Yes. That's my beloved JP2. It's OK, you can love him too.

On April 2, the world marked the tenth anniversary of his death. Pope Francis encouraged us to keep up our conversation with the Polish pope, asking him to "intercede for us, for families, for the church so that the light of the Resurrection shines through all of the darkness in our life and fills us with joy and peace.” It makes sense to continue to talk to Pope John Paul II--to pray--just like we did while he was still living among us. Sunday's brilliant celebration of Easter reminds us that Jesus has conquered death. Death is no stumbling block for us; when our friends pass away, we know they live in Jesus Christ.

Read about three other popes and the love of Jesus Christ at Praying with Grace!

Saint Pope John Paul II and the Heroic Minute

Today the church celebrates the first official feast day of Saint Pope John Paul II.  His heroism and total devotion to his prayer time, even during times of illness, injury and suffering, that propelled him to the heights of holiness and made him a compelling witness to the world of a life lived in complete surrender to the Lord.

Click here to read more about Saint Pope John Paul II's morning prayer routine.

Canonizing Two Thoroughly Modern Men: The Gifts of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII to the Church

On this past Divine Mercy Sunday, two beloved Popes were canonized in St. Peter's Square -- Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII. Both popes believed firmly in ushering the Church into the modern world, Pope John XXIII by calling the Second Vatican Council and Pope John Paul II by working tirelessly to implement those conciliar reforms in a way that did justice to the Church's past and her present. But Pope St. John Paul II will always be closer to my heart.
When I began contemplating conversion to Catholicism in the late 1990s, Pope John Paul II had already reigned for more than 20 years. The JPII generation was on fire with love for Christ and his Church. They were passionately devout, fiercely intelligent, and quoted passages from the original documents of Vatican II with the same fluency an evangelical might cite Scripture. John Paul II's Theology of the Body (or TOB), with its message that our bodies and sex itself were glorious gifts from God, was just becoming the…

Pope Francis' Beautiful New Prayer for Families

On the Feast of the Holy Family, December 29, 2013, Pope Francis invited all Catholics to pray for families as the Church prepares for an Extraordinary Synod to examine the troubling disconnect between Church teaching and the reality of modern family life. In his Angelus address given to the crowds in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis recited for the first time his new Prayer to the Holy Family. (Full text available here.)

The prayer seeks the help of the Holy Family while at the same time revealing Pope Francis' vision of the family as it is and as it could be. It paints an ideal portrait of family life and yet acknowledges the severe difficulties faced by many. It concludes with a heart-felt petition for the renewal of the sacredness and inviolability of the family. Pope Francis' prayer is a short primer on the theology of the family and deserves careful contemplation. Let's see what he says.

The Splendor of True Love
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splen…

Spiritual Communion

I  am learning to live in the Light, remain in the Light and stay connected to the Light within me. My tendency is to switch back to living in misery, burdened with interior pain because this is what I am accustomed to. Ridiculous? Insane?Absolutely, but now a mere glance to the Light and bang- I switch again from misery to joy.

 To nurture His Risen Life in me, the life of the Messiah, I am discovering that spiritual communion is powerful. I just  whisper a desire for the Eucharist and He is present like a fire burning in my heart, burning even my skin. I could dance for joy, like a child of God in the sunshine. St. Thomas Aquinas defined Spiritual Communion as “an ardent desire to receive Jesus in the Holy Sacrament and a loving embrace as though we had already received Him.”

Study Mary with the Popes

I won’t lie; getting permission from Libreria Editrice Vaticana to gather a dozen papal encyclicals together for a unique Marian study was, well, awesome! Holding the contract in hand, gave me goose bumps. To share my excitement, the contract in part reads: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, located in the Vatican City State, in the person of the its Director and pro tempore legal representative, Prof. Don Giuseppe COSTA, sdb and Bezalel Books, A Catholic Publishing Company and Bookstore, Box 300427 Waterford, MI 48330, in the person of its President and pro tempore legal representative, Cheryl DICKOW.
Libreria Editrice Vaticana grants to Bezalel Books, a non exclusive permission to reproduce , in the work entitled:  MARY EVER VIRGIN FULL OF GRACE. A STUDY OF PAPAL ENCYCLICALS ON MARY, by Cheryl Dickow, the following excerpts:

The contract then goes on to list the dozen encyclicals that are in the book which begin with Octobri Menseo the September 22, 1891 encyclical of Pope Leo XIII on the rosar…

Oct. 5: St. Faustina Radiates Loving Mercy and Joy.

Who can help but love this simple, humble, loving nun?
Sister Faustina wrote and suffered in secret, with only her spiritual director and some of her superiors aware that anything special was taking place in her life. After her death from tuberculosis in 1938, even her closest associates surprised as they began to discover what Jesus had done in the life of this cheerful and humble nun. "be merciful even as your heavenly Father is merciful" She was merciful to others because God was merciful to her; she lived so everyone who came in contact with her went awayjoyful. The message of mercy that Sister Faustina received is now being spread throughout the world; her diary, Divine Mercy in my Soul, has become the handbook for devotion to the Divine Mercy.

Maria Faustyna Kowalska, commonly known as Saint Faustina (born Helena Kowalska),  was a mystic and visionary. Just look at her face; she radiates loving mercy and joy.
Her family was poor and had struggled hard on their farm during W…

Living the Faith with a Young Heart

"Dear young people, you bring us the joy of Faith and you tell us that we must live the Faith with a young heart." ~ Pope Francis
Blessed Chiara died in 1990 at the age of eighteen from a form of bone cancer.  When she was diagnosed with the illness, she united her sufferings to Christ's Passion, declaring quietly, "It's for You, Jesus; if You want it, I want it, too."  She fought her illness for two years, always smiling and comforting others ~ truly radiating Christ.

When asked how her eyes were so luminous, she responded simply, "I try to love Jesus as much as I can."

Before her death, Chiara told her mother, "Young people…they are the future. You see, I can’t run anymore, but how I would like to pass on to them the torch, like in the Olympics! Young people have only one life and it’s worthwhile to spend it well."
"With all the strength of my soul I urge you young people to approach the Communion table as often as you can. …

God calls you to holy poverty

When Karol Wojtyla (later Pope John Paul II) was bishop of Krakow, friends used to buy him new cassocks, which he would promptly give to poor priests in his diocese. He would continue wearing his old, worn-out cassock. In doing so, he imitated Christ, who “for your sake made Himself poor though He was rich, so that you might become rich by His poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9).” Not only those who take religious vows, but all of us are called to this evangelical (Gospel) poverty.

In the world, people avoid poverty. The Bible, however, blesses the poor and celebrates the virtues of the poor in spirit. The widow who was destitute gave generously to the temple; the rich young man “went away sad,” because he could not give up his many possessions to follow Christ.

When we have too many possessions, we easily become attached to them and place our trust in our own resources, rather than relying on God. Our many earthly concerns distract us from heavenly matters. We find it difficult…