The Sacraments: Reconciliation

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Christopher Heffron

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The Sacraments: Holy Orders

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St. Lucy: Let There Be Light

If you’ve ever seen a statue or picture of a young woman holding a plate on which rests two eyeballs, that would be St. Lucy. (Do an online image search for “St. Lucy” if you want in on this one.) Her life is not historically verifiable, yet she is mentioned in the Canon of the Mass and celebrated as a symbol of light in the darkness. She is also the patron of many eye conditions.Butler’s Lives of the Saints situates Lucy as being born in Syracuse, Sicily, to a wealthy nobleman and his wife. Her story contains a miracle; as a young woman, Lucy is said to have gone with her mother to the tomb of St. Agatha to pray for her mother’s healing from a hemorrhage. As they prayed, her mother was healed, and in gratitude, Lucy vowed to remain a virgin. This did not sit well with the young man to whom she had been engaged at an early age, however, and he exposed her as a Christian to the Roman governor. The year was ad 304, the height of the persecutions of Diocletian.Lucy was at first sentenced to prostitution and ordered to be taken to a brothel. Here legend tells that she was struck immovable, so much so that even when she was fastened to a team of oxen she could not be moved. A fire was then built around her and lit, but Lucy was not harmed. Finally, a soldier took his sword and pierced her in the throat; even then, she prophesied against her persecutor until she died. (Some accounts of her life have her surviving the throat-piercing and dying only a

Christopher Heffron

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Papal Conclave Q&A

How Does a Conclave Work? Q: I know that the cardinals come together after a pope dies to elect a new pope. Who determines the procedures to be followed? How soon does it begin? Where does it occur? Why is this meeting called a “conclave”? How long has the Catholic Church used this process? A: On February 22, 1996, Pope John Paul II issued the apostolic constitution “Shepherd of the Lord’s Whole Flock” (Universi Dominici Gregis), which established the procedures for the next conclave. Each pope is free to revise conclave rules. If a pope dies without doing so, then the rules followed for the previous conclave are used at the next one. In 1996, Pope John Paul II reaffirmed Pope Paul VI’s 1970 decision that only the cardinals younger than 80 when the vacancy begins may vote for the new pope, and that 120 is the maximum number of electors. Since 1179, papal elections have required a two-thirds vote of the cardinals. If 26 ballots have not resulted in the election of a new pope, John Paul II has now decreed that a simple majority (50 percent plus one) is sufficient. Between 15 and 20 days after the pope’s death or resignation, the conclave begins. After a morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, the cardinals go to the Sistine Chapel that afternoon. One ballot may be taken on the first day. Two morning ballots and two more in the afternoon occur on the following days. Once the conclave begins, cardinal electors may not contact or be contacted in writing, by phone or electronically by anyone outside the conclave. The word conclave comes from the Latin cum clave (with a key). This system was established by Pope Gregory X in 1274. He was elected two years and nine months after Pope Clement IV died. Locking the cardinals in a meeting and gradually decreasing their food rations seemed a good way to encourage them to agree on a new pope. The system has been modified over the centuries; food is no longer rationed. Cardinal electors are not locked in; a voter who arrives after the conclave begins can now be admitted.

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On Faith and Media

May 4, 2012 Chimpanzee I thought the narration was banal; sometimes it wasn’t logical though I am hard pressed to come up with an example. The cuteness factor is strong.Think Like a Man If the film can help couples stop and think before dating or marrying, it’s a good thing in this anything-goes culture. April 20, 2012 The Lucky One “The Lucky One” is based on the best-selling novel by Nicholas Sparks. When asked about the predictability of his stories he described the formula that resonates with readers: a plot that moves through all life’s emotions from loss, sorrow, jealousy, betrayal, sadness, tragedy, reconciliation, love to joy. A Separation This is a movie about separation blocking communication and understanding on many levels. The visuals, doors, windows, partitions are seamlessly included to reinforce the real partitions and to symbolize ones we cannot see. April 13, 2012 October Baby “October Baby” is a film with a good heart but it is preachy and heavy on messages. Personally I do not think our young people will sit through such a drudgery to get to the final scenes. Monsieur Lazhar This is a gentle film about loss, grief and a caring man who transcends his own sorrow to offer hope and stability to children. April 6, 2012 We Have a Pope “We Have a Pope” is about the interior struggle of a simple man who wants to be honest to himself, the people, and God.John Carter The only point I got out of this long and rambling movie – that is strangely watchable – is that Carter stands for peace and nonviolence. Otherwise much of the film is like a 1950s “B” movie—corny and campy. March 30, 2012 The Hunger Games “The Hunger Games” is a story filled with moral dilemmas that the young people and those close to them must face in a controlled society with an omnipresent government that dominates its citizens. How to survive without killing anyone except as self-defense or defense of another, how to be part of the fake and banal world of celebrity television without losing one’s humanity, the many shades and obstacles to true love, family, and how to endure life with an all-seeing totalitarian government whose absolute power has corrupted the leaders and their hacks absolutely? March 22, 2012 Mirror Mirror This fantasy romantic version of the fairy tale is based on “Snow White” collected and published by the Brothers Grimm in 1812. But be sure to set aside all previous telling in movies, television, video games and fiction. This new imagining of the tale is a visual and melodic fusion of east and west that may surprise you but most certainly you will leave the theater smiling.The Kid With a Bike These filmmakers have insight into a reality that has marked, or marred, every generation since the Industrial Revolution and perhaps before: disposable kids. Parents fail to care for their children and they fall into the prevailing culture or criminal behavior. But if the parents fail - the kindness of a stranger prevails. March 9, 2012 Dr. Seuss' The Lorax “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” is a must see for citizens and disciples of any age. So much to talk about, so many opportunities to do something to make a difference. Salmon Fishing in Yemen This film offers a lot to consider and contemplate about faith and life. The Sheik is a kind of mystical character and the story has a fairy tale quality about it that made it one of the gentlest films about faith and transformation I have seen in a long time. March 2, 2012 The Secret World of Arrietty I loved the beautiful world of the film, the moral imaginary journey of trying to live and be happy by walking in the shoes, or seeing through the eyes, of people different that me. And I appreciated the girl Arrietty’s gumption and the boy Shawn’s quiet strength in adversity. Finally, here is a film with two complementary heroes, each respectful of the other and courageous in their own way. Safe HouseThe film is certainly a critique of the CIA and the government’s torture policies but a two-hour series of car crashes, explosions and gunfights cannot make up for a film that just is not very good. All the character development is placed on the capable shoulders of Denzel, but if you look, you’ve seen the facial expressions, knowing looks, keen intelligence and quick moves before. February 17, 2012 Good Deeds Homelessness is a fact in America and “Good Deeds” shows how one act of kindness can change the lives of everyone involved. Tyler Perry and the film’s distributor Lionsgate have teamed up with Covenant House (that offers a place to live for runaway youth) in a campaign called “Good Deeds: Great Deeds”. Visit the website to see how you can pay it forward for the good things in your life this Lent: www.gooddeedsgreatneeds.com. Act of Valor“Act of Valor” is not a Hollywood film; its backer, at least in terms of support and casting, is the U.S. Navy. So I think it needs to be seen more as a recruitment film, or a film that can cloud the audience’s need to ask: What’s really going on here? What Christian values does it support or deny? “Act of Valor” just made me sad. February 17, 2012 Undefeated “Undefeated” is not a movie about football, it’s a beautiful documentary about love, brotherhood, community, education, forgiveness, prayer, respect, humility, character, faith, and yes, beating one another to pulp over some inflated pigskin. I cannot really express how deeply this film touched me. This film is about gifts: the ones we share, the one’s we receive, and the ones we never see coming. The Woman in BlackThis is a film about grief and love, about mental illness and who decides who is ill or not. In some warped way, when Arthur tries to set the universe aright to appease the woman in black, she returns the favor. And it is not all that upsetting except to the living. The story also has a terrible Pied Piper quality about it because vengeance for an original crime is the real horror. “The Woman in Black” is well scripted, acted, and filmed. But is it horror or about the power of love? Can they be the same? February 10, 2012 The Vow The film could have gone deeper into the emotional and moral dilemmas but chose to skim these by creating a more dramatic backstory for Paige and her family and maintaining the eye-candy appeal of the lead actors. Leo’s devotion to his marriage vows is reinforced throughout, as well as his respect for Paige, and Paige’s faith and courage, regardless of any other seeming flaws in the film, creates the overarching meaning of “The Vow”.Journey 2: The Mysterious Island“Journey 2” is a thoroughly enjoyable family film – and I do not make this observation lightly. So many “family films” are so sanitized that they can bore one to tears. But “Journey 2” is about great literature (please note all the literary references and authors that will be familiar to most kids ten and above), adventure, imagination, growing up, and family relation

Christopher Heffron

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Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Unless you’re a zealous convert, or perhaps a catechist, this chapter is going to blow your proverbial mind. It touches upon two much-misunderstood beliefs of the Church—the Immaculate Conception and the infallibility of the pope.In the nineteenth century, a fourteen-year-old French peasant girl named Bernadette was gathering firewood with her sister and a friend. Dawdling behind the other two as they returned home (they had to cross a stream and Bernadette did not want to ruin her stockings), Bernadette had a vision of Mary. At first, she did not know what she was seeing. She described a shining figure in white who asked her to return to the grotto of the appearances every day for the next two weeks. She told her family of the vision and they were not as supportive as might have been hoped. (In their defense, I have a teenage daughter and would also not be very enthusiastic about her meeting someone in the woods.)Bernadette persisted and did as the shining figure instructed. As the crowds gathered, that obedience had a cost. When the figure told Bernadette to drink from the spring, the crowds gasped to see the young girl digging with her fingers in the mud (there was no visible spring) and even swallowing the soggy earth. At length, a spring did appear. When Bernadette asked this shining apparition her name, she was told only, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Bernadette repeated this to her parish priest but had no idea what it meant.The Church authorities who took an interest in the mysterious occurrences at Lourdes (the site of Bernadette’s grotto) were another matter. They knew precisely what was meant by that statement as, just four years previously in 1854, Pope Pius IX had declared as a doctrine of the Church that Mary had been conceived without original sin—an event the Church called “the Immaculate Conception.” It had long been an accepted belief in the Church that Mary had always been sinless, but there had been countless controversies about just what this meant or how it occurred. In settling the controversy Pope Pius resorted to declaring the doctrine ex cath

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Guadalupe sidebars

The Story of Our Lady of Guadalupe</a> by Jack Wintz, O.F.M.<br>The best way to understand the meaning of Guadalupe is to go back to the year 1531 and to those glorious days of December when Mary revealed herself and God’s love to a simple Indian peasant: <br><em>December 9, 1531 (Saturday)</em>. Early in the morning, Juan Diego, a Christian convert, is on his way to attend Mass two and a half miles away at Tlatelolco, once an Aztec center and the place where the final battle of the Spanish conquest had taken place just 10 years earlier. Suddenly, Juan hears beautiful music and a woman’s voice calling him to the top of Tepeyac Hill which he is just passing. At the top of the hill he sees a radiantly beautiful woman, who reveals that she is the Virgin Mary and instructs him to go to the bishop and tell him that a temple should be built in her honor at the bottom of the hill. <br>Juan Diego goes immediately to Tlatelolco to the palace of Bishop Juan de Zumárraga, a Franciscan friar. The bishop receives him kindly but, for the moment, is reluctant to believe Juan Diego’s story. And so a discouraged Juan Diego goes back to the top of Tepeyac Hill and admits his failure to the Virgin. The Lady directs him to go back to the bishop and repeat the request. <br><em>December 10, 1531 (Sunday)</em>. Juan Diego returns to the bishop’s palace to try again. The bishop asks many questions and tells Juan Diego that he needs some sign to believe that it is really the heavenly Lady who has sent him. Juan Diego tells the Virgin of the bishop’s request, and she promises to fulfill it the next day when he returns to Tepeyac Hill. <br><em>December 11, 1531 (Monday)</em>. Juan Diego fails to keep his appointment with the Lady because his uncle has become gravely ill and Juan must spend the day looking for someone with medical skills. He fails to find anyone and tells his dying uncle that he will go to Tlatelolco the next morning and bring a priest who would hear his confession and prepare him for death. <br><em>December 12, 1531 (Tuesday)</em>. At a very early hour, Juan Diego is rushing toward Tlatelolco to find a priest for his dying uncle. Thinking it better not to let the Lady interrupt his mission of mercy, he tries to avoid her by going around the other side of Tepeyac Hill. The Lady, however, comes down the hill to meet him. She listens to Juan Diego’s excuse for not keeping his appointment

Christopher Heffron

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The Spirit of Assisi

Assisi: Capital of Peace? by Fr. Pat McCloskey, O.F.M.On January 24, 1986, I was present in Rome’s Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls when Pope John Paul II announced that he was inviting the heads of the world’s main religions to come to Assisi later that year to pray for world peace. On October 27, 1986, I was present in Assisi for this event. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, then head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and now Pope Benedict XVI, was not present for the first event in 1986. In acknowledging the upcoming 25th anniversary, he said during his Angelus address last January 1: “Next October, I shall go as a pilgrim to the town of St. Francis, inviting my Christian brethren of various denominations, the exponents of the world’s religious traditions to join this pilgrimage and ideally all men and women of good will.”He noted that the event would be both

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World Youth Day 2011

In August of 2010, Pope Benedict XVI gave a hope-filled message to young Catholics about their participation in World Youth Day in Madrid: “The Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God.”Join AmericanCatholic.org and St. Anthony Messenger as we follow the accounts of several pilgrims to World Youth Day! Check back often for their updated posts.August 23, 2011Elizabeth Rahner writes:What an incredible week it’s been! So busy, tiring, many ups and downs, but ultimately completely worth it. I’m on the plane now over U.S. soil with mixed feelings about returning to the “regular” world (I start my second year at Xavier University tomorrow). The overnight vigil and closing mass at Cuatro Vientos airport was definitely the climax, but the whole week was full of blessing thanks to the bonds our group formed, frequent praise and worship, and opportunities for adoration, confession, and mass. It’s hard to even begin to describe our time at Cuatro Vientos...after about 2 hours of commuting by crowded subway and on foot, we caught sight of the biggest crowd I have ever seen under the haze of hot, dusty sky. I got goosebumps over and over again looking out at all the pilgrims, hearing the chants of “La Juventud del Papa esta es!” (the Youth of the Pope are here!), seeing the fire trucks spraying down overheated youth We arrived in the afternoon in order to stake out a spot where we’d all be able to sleep, and it’s a good thing we did as many groups that arrived earlier were unable to find a place for all of them, despite the “assigned” sections we’d been given. There was definitely some stress as people waited in line for water, and the unorganized nature of things became apparent, but I enjoyed the feeling of being a sort of “refugee” in communion with this vibrant body of Christ. After a long afternoon in the sun, Pope Benedict XVI finally arrived to great celebration. The vigil was beautiful—kneeling with 1.5 million others before the Blessed Sacrament, and finally having silence reign on the huge field was amazing. The weather did get interesting...clouds had been brewing in the distance in the evening, and after the gospel reading the storm hit! For ten minutes or so it poured and the wind was quite strong. I was worried about having to spend that night out in the open, but had to resign myself to that fate! (lots of offering-up took place that whole week). We were all told to pray, and sure enough, the rain stopped and things cleared up by midnight. It got very cold at night, and we had the company of an anthill in our “camp,” but it was a great experience, again, of community. Waking up in the morning to the sunrise and the sound of a singing nuns over the loud speaker was great, and the mass was glorious (despite the increasing heat as the sun rose higher, and the shortage of communion). Although seeing the Pope (from a distance!) was pretty cool, I have to agree with some of my group members that in the end that was not the best part, or even the focus of World Youth Day. Our moments in adoration and community were really the highlights, and I think the Holy Father is really a symbol for both of these. Already, the small negative parts of the week are evaporating into great memories, and I can’t believe I was actually a part of it all. I pray that all those, both at home and Madrid, who took part in WYD have gone away feeling uplifted by the life of the church, and encouraged in their faith. I certainly feel all the more empowered to share what I have gained on campus this year as well as I am able. Thanks f

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The Catholic Church and the Clergy Sex-abuse Crisis

Web-plus features for August 2011 St. Anthony Messenger article "Judge Janine Geske: Circles of Healing" Videos of our interviews with Bishop Blase Cupich,

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