FAITH/STORIES

WASHINGTON - A new Vatican instruction on the extraordinary form of the Mass intends to make it easier for Catholics who want to worship this way to do so. In lay terms, it has eliminated some red tape.

For example, in years past, Catholics who wanted to attend the Latin-language liturgy celebrated according to the 1962 Roman Missal had to request this from their parish priest, who then had to receive permission from the bishop to offer these Masses.

Now, according to a Vatican instruction released May 13, pastors do not have to get the local bishop’s permission to approve these Masses for Catholic groups even when these groups are small or formed of people from different parishes or dioceses.

The instruction calls on bishops and pastors to respond generously to Catholics who seek to attend this Mass, commonly known as the Tridentine Mass.

VATICAN CITY - Moses was willing to sacrifice himself to God for the sins of the people of Israel, just as Jesus Christ later sacrificed himself for the sins of humanity, Pope Benedict XVI said.

In his weekly audience June 1 in St. Peter's Square, Pope Benedict said that the intercession of Moses, in which he asked God's forgiveness on behalf of others, invites Christians to recognize their sins and be saved through God's mercy.

The explanation about the role of Moses was the latest in a series of papal audience talks emphasizing the importance of prayer and its transformative power.

Pope Benedict recounted the story from the Book of Exodus when Moses, who had been fasting for 40 days to prepare for receiving the Ten Commandments, is told by an angry God that in his absence the people of Israel have made a golden calf to worship.

TORONTO - The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars is seeking scholarly papers to be discussed for its annual conference this October.

Six of the scholastic works will be chosen for discussion at the conference to be held in Toronto. The theme for the Oct. 15 conference is “The Catholic Mind and the Prophetic Voice of the Arts.” The scholars’ group is looking for papers that delve into topics such as the vocation of the artist, the relation between imagination and artistic production, culture as a part of evangelization and esthetic pleasure.

“Generally speaking, it’s a critical engagement and dialogue with society, in this case, with respect to the arts,” said Andrew Fuyarchuk, a member of the fellowship’s executive.

Fr. Giorgio Di Cicco, former Poet Laureate of the City of Toronto, will be keynote speaker.Already, the conference has a good slate of speakers, but more submissions are needed. Proposals will be accepted until the end of June. And you don’t have to be a member of the fellowship to submit a paper.

Two Torontonians’ pilgrimage of faith, hope, joy, prayer

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VATICAN CITY - A pilgrimage isn’t a vacation. Big difference. I had the chance this past week to take part in a pilgrimage of faith, hope, joy and prayer. Best of all, I shared the experience with 1.5 million other Catholics, all connected by a common journey of faith: the beatification of Blessed Pope John Paul II.

Heading off to Rome to work on proactive media relations for the archdiocese of Toronto and to bring back a “taste” of the experience through blogs, tweets and video reports was our primary goal. Yet for both myself and colleague Emanuel Pires, a graphic/web designer and photographer, it was more than just work, it was a ministry, a true pilgrimage.

When learning of our pending flight to the Vatican, many people would remark, “That will be so much fun,” “You guys are going to love Rome.” Well to be honest, fun wasn’t necessarily the word that came to mind over the course of 14-hour days, sleeping on floors and functioning on three hours of sleep.

The more we reflected on the experience, the more we decided that a pilgrimage was indeed what our mission was.

Beatification events highlight Blessed John Paul's courage, faith

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A tapestry featuring an image of Pope John Paul II hangs from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica during his Mass of beatification led by Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican May 1.VATICAN CITY - Pope John Paul II was a true believer, a courageous voice of truth and a man whose witness to the faith grew more eloquent as his ability to speak declined, Pope Benedict XVI and others who worked closely with the late pope said at events for his beatification.

"John Paul II is blessed because of his faith -- a strong, generous and apostolic faith," Pope Benedict said May 1 just minutes after formally beatifying his predecessor.

In the beatification proclamation, Pope Benedict said that after a consultation with many bishops and faithful and a study by the Congregation for Saints' Causes, he had decided that "the venerable servant of God, John Paul II, pope, henceforth will be called blessed" and his feast will be Oct. 22, the anniversary of the inauguration of his pontificate in 1978.

Italian police said that for the beatification Mass more than 1 million people were gathered in and around the Vatican and in front of large video screens in several parts of Rome. The next morning 60,000 people gathered in St. Peter's Square for a Mass in thanksgiving for the beatification.

Coming down the mountain to priesthood

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Nathan Andrew SirayEditor’s note: this is the final instalment in our series of profiles of the men who will graduate from St. Augustine’s Seminary this spring and be ordained to the priesthood for various dioceses.

Growing up next to the Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Nathan Andrew Siray said there were two choices of what he would do with his life: be a doctor like his dad or a professional snowboarder.

“There was no place for the priesthood in this young boy’s mind,” he said.

But when Siray attended World Youth Day in Paris in 1997, he was inspired by Pope John Paul II to deepen his faith.

“I remember coming home thinking I was going to be a more zealous Christian soul,” said Siray. “But then high school came and I decided, ‘Well, let’s just have fun.’ Religion can wait.”

A cherished moment shared with a soon-to-be saint

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Emanuel Pires is introduced to Pope John Paul II on Strawberry Island, north of Toronto, where the Pope stayed during World Youth Day 2002. Pires was one of 14 youth who lunched with the Pope that day. (Photo courtesy of Emanuel Pires)It was a surreal and exhilarating moment in my life that helped to galvanize my faith. I’ve been asked about it many times, shown photos to family and friends, yet I have never truly felt comfortable talking about it. Equal parts disbelief and unworthiness have made it difficult to discuss the day during World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto that I had lunch with the late Pope John Paul II.

When I was first told that I was one of the pilgrims selected to represent youth from around the world to have lunch with the Holy Father I was both excited and scared. I sat down in my chair awestruck with the opportunity to meet the Holy Father. Many dignitaries, celebrities, holy men and women had met the Pope but the chance to break bread with him had my senses temporarily numb. What followed was excitement and joy. I told some friends but generally kept it quiet until a few days before meeting him.

I found it amazing that the Holy Father made a point of sitting down with young people during WYD. To make the time to have a deeply personal and intimate  moment with a few of us spoke volumes.

Quest for God's love, wisdom must never stop, pope says

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Pope Benedict XVI arrives to celebrate Holy Thursday chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican April 21. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)VATICAN CITY - Never stop searching for God and being open to receiving his love and wisdom, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"Driven by love, God has set out toward us" in order to "meet the unrest of our hearts, the unrest of our questioning and seeking," he said April 21 during the chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica.

"That restlessness for God, that journeying toward him, so as to know and love him better, must not be extinguished in us," said the pope in his homily.

Presiding over the first of two Holy Thursday liturgies, Pope Benedict blessed the oils that will be used in the sacraments of baptism, confirmation, ordination and the anointing of the sick.

Easter’s consolation is that life, not death, has the final word

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The Resurrection of Christ is depicted in a 16th-century painting. Easter reminds us that life wins out over death. (CNS/Eric Lessing/Art Resource)Grieving — the painful physical, emotional and spiritual journey that we go through to come to terms with the loss of someone through death, separation or divorce — is among the most sacred and the most human things one will ever undergo. It plummets us into the mysteries of life.

On a weekend during this season of Lent, members of my family experienced an emotional roller-coaster, marked by both death and new life. On the Friday, we gathered in prayer and remembrance to honour the life of our mother on the first anniversary of her death. One of my brothers was not able to be with us because he was at the hospital with his son and daughter-in-law, who had a few days earlier prematurely given birth at the five-month mark to twins, a boy and a girl. The tiny girl died on the afternoon of mom’s anniversary. The boy seemed to be doing better, but on Saturday his kidneys ceased to function.

Late Sunday morning we baptized a different baby boy born to a second brother’s son and wife. And in the afternoon we received word that the surviving twin had just died. At six o’clock that evening came yet more news: the daughter of a third brother had just given birth to a healthy son to whom she and her husband chose to give the name Francis, my deceased father’s name. Within the span of seven hours there was a Baptism, another death and a birth.  

Move to Canada awakens a pair of vocation calls

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Hezuk ShroffHezuk Shroff says he has been blessed with not one, but two vocations.

Born in Calcutta, India, in 1971, Shroff was raised in the Zoroastrian religion. When he came to Canada to attend McGill University in Montreal, he discovered the first of those vocations, a conversion to the Catholic faith.

While exploring his faith and the possibility of becoming a religious brother, Shroff was sent to Cebu in the Philippines to do missionary work. It was there he found his second and deeper vocation, a call to the priesthood.

“Father doesn’t have time for us,” said the youth of Cebu, according to Shroff. “Father is too busy running the parish.”

Pope earmarks Holy Thursday collection for disaster relief in Japan

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Men sit amid debris in an area that was destroyed by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, in Minamisanriku, Miyagi prefecture, in northern Japan, April 6. (CNS photo/Toru Hanai, Reuters) VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI has decided the collection taken up at his Holy Thursday evening Mass will be used to help those affected by the devastating earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan.

The March 11 disaster left more than 13,000 people dead and another 13,700 unaccounted for. More than 150,000 were made homeless and many lost their jobs, especially in the fishing industry.

Each year, the Pope chooses where to send the collection taken up during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome.

Seders give Christians the Passover experience

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A rabbi holds up matzos during a Passover Seder. More Christians are experiencing this at interfaith Seders. (CNS photo)Christians can’t think of the Easter Triduum, let alone live through it, without thinking of the Passover. Increasingly, Christians are letting that thought lead them to an authentic experience of the Jewish Passover in interfaith Seders.

A Seder is a family meal that ritually re-enacts the Exodus story. It’s the beginning of the Jewish celebration of Passover. Foods served at the Seder are connected directly with the Exodus and the story of Israel’s escape from Egypt is retold, reading the Haggadah aloud through the course of the meal. The Haggadah is a sort of expansion of the Bible story with roots in the Mishnah, a collection of Jewish writings based on oral tradition.

“It’s a story of liberation,” explains Beth Porter. “We’re really meant to appropriate that story for ourselves as we sit at the Seder table — to think about our own journey from bondage to freedom.”

'Silent Night' gains World Heritage List recognition from UNESCO

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'SIlent Night' has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in recognition of its role in fostering cultural diversity. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemit z) WARSAW, Poland - The world's most popular Christmas carol, "Silent Night," has been added to UNESCO's World Heritage List in recognition of its role in fostering cultural diversity.

"This is a song of freedom for the world, whose beautiful melody and text have inspired versions in more than 300 languages," Michael Neureiter, president of Austria's Silent Night Society, told Catholic News Service.

"Although it comes from the Catholic tradition, its calm, harmonic sound has made it accessible internationally. As such, it's not just a Christian song, but also a human song."

"Stille Nacht," or "Silent Night," was written as a poem in 1816 by Fr. Joseph Mohr in Mariapfarr, where he was assigned as an assistant parish priest. It premiered as a carol for two solo voices on Christmas Eve 1818 at the newly established St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, near Salzburg, with music composed by the church organist, Franz Gruber.