At Holy Thursday Mass, Pope criticizes dissent from church teachings

VATICAN CITY - During a Mass in which priests renew their promises of fidelity to Christ, Pope Benedict XVI firmly criticized dissent from church teachings and disobedience of God's will as illegitimate pathways toward reform and renewal.

Surrounded by more than 1,600 priests, bishops and cardinals, the Pope cautioned against calls for women's ordination, saying such campaigns seemed more "a desperate push" to fulfill one's own preferences rather than a sincere attempt to conform one's life more closely to Christ.

During the April 5 chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, which focuses on Holy Thursday as the day Jesus shared his priesthood with the apostles, the Pope said he wanted to use the occasion to ask all priests, including himself, to meditate upon what their consecration really means.

Deacon’s ministry to truckers seen as ‘a meeting of two souls’

FORISTELL, Mo. - Deacon Richard Seveska hears all kinds of stories at his local truck stop, but he fondly remembers one particularly appreciative driver.

“I had a trucker one night say, ‘Rich, this is not a meeting of two people,” Seveska said. “It’s a meeting of two souls.’ ” 

Seveska’s passion the last dozen years has been his truck-stop ministry. The deacon spends evenings saying hello to truckers, identifying himself as a chaplain and looking for people who may want to talk.

Joys, sufferings of families focus of Pope's Good Friday Via Crucis

VATICAN CITY - An Italian couple, married 59 years, let the joys and sufferings of families guide the reflections they prepared for Pope Benedict XVI, thousands of pilgrims and potentially millions of television viewers to meditate on during the Stations of the Cross at Rome's Colosseum.

The Pope asked Danilo and Annamaria Zanzucchi to write the meditations for his Good Friday service April 6 in Rome. The Zanzucchis, who have five children and 12 grandchildren, are the co-founders and were the longtime leaders of the Focolare's New Families Movement.

Response to Christ's sacrifice must be gift of time, prayer, pope says

VATICAN CITY - The truly Christian response to Christ's death and resurrection must be the dedication of one's life and one's time to building a relationship with Jesus and being grateful for the gift of salvation, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"In this Holy Week, the Lord Jesus will renew the greatest gift we could possibly imagine: he will give us his life, his body and his blood, his love," the Pope said April 1, celebrating Palm Sunday in St. Peter's Square.

On anniversary of Blessed John Paul's death, Vatican focuses on WYD

VATICAN CITY - On the seventh anniversary of the death of Blessed John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI paid homage to one of his predecessor's innovations: World Youth Day.

Greeting an estimated 5,000 cheering young people from Spain April 2, Pope Benedict said they were "the protagonists and principal recipients of this pastoral initiative promoted vigorously by my beloved predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, whose passage to heaven we remember today."

After papal request, Cuba makes Good Friday 2012 a national holiday

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican spokesman praised Cuba's decision to accept Pope Benedict XVI's request to make Good Friday a national holiday this year.

"It is certainly a very positive sign," Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said April 1.

Good Friday, the commemoration of Jesus' passion and death, falls on April 6 this year.

Bringing retreat reflection to the everyday

Upon returning from a Sisters of Life retreat in Connecticut, I decided my Lenten resolution would be to incorporate 20 minutes of prayer into my daily routine.

Finding it hard to fit prayer time into a hectic schedule, one of the sisters told me it might be helpful to get creative in my prayer life in order to better understand how God is speaking to me. So, along with the regular Hail Marys and Our Fathers, I started reading random Bible passages and keeping a journal to better open the lines of communication.

Finding God at work in our everyday lives

At some point who among us hasn’t wondered what God wants of us? Sometimes we may sense His calling but how do we know for sure?

Fr. Timothy Gallagher has dedicated many years to helping people who are seeking answers to these difficult questions. Through his ministry of retreats, the American priest provides spiritual direction by using the teachings of St. Ignatius of Loyola as a saintly roadmap to guide spiritual discernment and renewal.

At the invitation of the Sisters of Life, Gallagher directed a two-day discernment of spirits retreat on Mar. 17-18 at St. Catherine of Sienna Church in Toronto that was attended by about 225 people.

Pope, at Mass in Havana's Revolution Square, calls for full religious freedom in Cuba

HAVANA - Preaching at Mass in Havana's Revolution Square, location of the headquarters of Cuba's Communist Party, Pope Benedict XVI called for full religious freedom and greater respect for human rights on the island.

"In Cuba steps have been taken to enable the church to carry out her essential mission of expressing the faith openly and publicly," the Pope said during his homily March 28. "Nonetheless, this must continue forward."

With President Raul Castro seated near the altar platform, the Pope said, "I wish to encourage the country's government authorities to strengthen what has already been achieved and advance along this path of genuine service to the true good of Cuban society as a whole."

In Mexico, Pope says social change will come with revival of faith

SILAO, Mexico - Visiting Latin America for the second time in his pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI offered a message of hope for social progress rooted in a revival of Catholic faith.

The overriding message of the Pope's public statements during his three days in Mexico, March 23-26, was that this troubled country, and the region in general, cannot solve their problems -- which include poverty, inequality, corruption and violence -- by following the prescriptions of secular ideologies.

Trust in God to help change society, Pope says in Mexico's heartland

SILAO, Mexico - Celebrating Mass in the Catholic heartland of Mexico, Pope Benedict XVI told a nation and a continent suffering from poverty, corruption and violence, to trust in God and the intercession of Mary to help them bring about a "more just and fraternal society."

"When addressing the deeper dimension of personal and community life, human strategies will not suffice to save us," the Pope said in his homily during the outdoor Mass at Guanajuato Bicentennial Park March 25, the second full day of his second papal visit to Latin America. "We must have recourse to the one who alone can give life in its fullness, because he is the essence of life and its author."