Have you heard that this Sunday (April 27), two new saints will be officially named....two blessed popes (John XXIII and John Paul II) will be elevated to help us remember to be inspired by their faith.
The Vatican has been posting information for our use at:
as have the U.S. Bishops Conference:
Here is a quick video that explains the canonization process (Thanks, Busted Halo for another great video!)
If you want a quick visual guide on the canonization process, CNS created this one:
A few personal thoughts:
Related to this historic moment of the canonization of two popes,
It JUST occurred to me moments ago that I have been SO fortunate to be in the presence of a saint....
I mean, I know that I am often near people filled with God's love so deeply that we can call them a saint, but this is a real-life, almost canonized (will be on Sunday) person. Wow. How cool is that?
I was "with" Blessed John Paul II in Denver 1993, Paris 1997, Rome 1999, Rome 2000, and Toronto 2002. Although I never got to talk with him one-on-one, I was within 5 feet of him twice and impacted by his ministry. Here are just a few memories:
Denver, August 1993 -- World Youth Day events
Papal Welcome on Thursday, August 12 at Mile High Stadium
--- Our group (Diocese of Cleveland) received tickets for this event, so we fed into the crowd funneling into the stadium. As we awaited the Holy Father, we sang songs, talked with teens and young adults from numerous countries, and we got wet -- it was raining!
However, as the helicopters approached the stadium, a rainbow arched in the sky, and the sun peaked out.....by the time Pope John Paul II greeted us, the rain had stopped! What a stunning moment for us all!
Here are the words he shared with us that evening:
Vigil Prayer on Saturday, August 14 at Cherry Creek Park
--- a long pilgrimage walk led us from downtown Denver to this large open area. Many of us Ohioans expected trees at the park, bu it was just an open area. The heat of the sun exhausted us, but the singing and prayer kept us going. Camping out with a half-million people is a unique experience!
Here are the Holy Father's words from the vigil:
Closing Mass on Sunday, August 15 at Cherry Creek Park
--- Despite dealing with altitude sickness/thinner air, lack of sleep, and some lack of adequate nutrition (McDonald's supplied the food stands for the week, and there was a minimal number of options, which caused some people to suffer digestive issues), the community rallied together for a fantastic outdoor Mass.
Here is the homily from that day:
Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 1999 in Rome, Italy
--- Did you know that there is a tradition for the Holy Father to meet with faithful near at the Piazza di Spagna near the Spanish Steps in Rome at a statue of Mary to pray during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception? I did NOT know this until happenstance placed me there, and lo and behold, a car pulls up right next to where I am standing and I see Pope John Paul II get out to lead the prayer! Wow! There was even a moment when our eyes met, and I truly felt a sense of God's love rush over me. I know, it sounds a bit strange, as I was even surprised by it -- but this man definitely exuded a spiritual presence!
This was a much less formal celebration that the World Youth Day liturgies and events I had attended, so I was struck by the humbleness and "centeredness" of the Holy Father as he took a few minutes to venerate the Holy Mother at the statue.
I have more memories (and many more pictures), but this isn't really about me....although I am still amazed that I was able to be with a saint so many times. I cannot even imagine what it must have been like to be near Pope John XXIII, since he was so unexpected and ushered in so much change/rejuvination for the ChurchI hope that I can always stay focused on the GOOD done by these holy men so that I can be inspired to faith-filled in my daily life.
May we all be inspired by the witness of faith of both of these holy men!
St. John and St. John Paul, pray for us!
Here is a bonus news story on Popes as Saints:
WHY DID JUDAS DO IT?
Great reflection for Spy Wednesday
(Did you know this term used by some folks for today?)
The first time I recall being really challenged by the question of "Why would Judas do this" was after seeing the Passion play/musical "Tetelestai" as a teen wherein the creators placed Judas in a prominent role.
As much as I may want to be like John or Peter,
I have to ask:
How am I like Judas?
When do my greed...
Desire to be connected to powerful people...
Feelings of knowing-it-all...
Lack of trust...
betray my love of Jesus?
Looks like I have much on which to reflect today...
Thank you Fr. Jim for posting this on Facebook for many of us to contemplate. It brings a new/different aspect to this most Holy Week.
By Fr. James Martin, SJ
Why did Judas do it?
The Gospel readings for today and tomorrow ("Spy Wednesday") focus on Judas's betrayal of Jesus. But why did Judas do it?
. . . . . .
A few years ago I served as a “theological adviser” to an Off-Broadway play, called “The Last Days of Judas Iscariot,” that put Judas on trial for Jesus’s death. We spent many hours sifting through the possible reasons for history’s most famous betrayal.
The Gospel of Mark gives no motivation for Judas's sudden betrayal. Confusing things further, Matthew has Jesus telling Judas at the Last Supper, "Do what you are here to do," which seems to imply some acquiescence, or at least foreknowledge, on Jesus’s part. Matthew attempts to clarify things in his account by introducing the motive of greed: "What will you give me if I betray him to you?" Judas asks the Jewish high priests.
The Gospel of John echoes this theme: before the Last Supper, Judas is depicted by the evangelist as the greedy keeper of the common purse. When Jesus is anointed in Bethany, shortly before his crucifixion, Judas complains, asking why the money was not given to the poor. In an aside, John writes, "He [Judas] said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it."
Thus John paints Judas as greedy, and dishonest as well. Finally, Luke's gospel tells us that at the Last Supper "Satan had entered into Judas." Daniel J. Harrington, SJ, told me that this phrase from Luke explained "either everything or nothing."
There is another hypothesis that sometimes remains unstated by commentators: the evangelists concocted the entire story of Judas's betrayal for dramatic purposes. Some have posited that the one who betrayed Jesus could have come from outside the Twelve, and that Judas was simply a convenient fall guy. Similarly, Judas may have been invented as a generic "Jewish" character in order to lay the blame for the crucifixion on the Jewish people. The name “Judas” (the Hebrew would be Judah) lends credence to this idea. So might Paul, who suggests that Jesus was “handed over” not by Judas or anyone else but by God.
But a wholesale invention is unlikely. Mark wrote his gospel around 70 A.D., only a few decades after the death of Jesus. Luke and Matthew wrote some 10 to 15 years later. The Christian community of that time still would have counted among its members those who were friends of Jesus, who were eyewitnesses to the Passion, or who knew the sequence of events from conversations with the previous generation. They most likely would have criticized any wild liberties taken with the story. Rather, as Father Harrington told me, "Judas's betrayal of Jesus was a known and most embarrassing fact." The ignominy of having Jesus betrayed by one of his closest friends is something the Gospel writers would have wanted to avoid, not invent.
Overall, none of the Gospels provides a convincing reason for why one of the 12 disciples would betray the teacher he esteemed so highly. Greed fails as an explanation—why would someone who had traveled with the penniless rabbi for three years suddenly be consumed with greed? (Unless he was indeed stealing from the common purse.)
William Barclay conjectured that the most compelling explanation is that by handing Jesus over to the Romans, Judas was trying to force Jesus's hand, to get him to act in a decisive way. Perhaps Judas expected the arrest to prompt Jesus to reveal himself as the long-awaited Messiah by not only ushering in an era of peace, but overthrowing the Roman occupiers. Barclay noted that none of the other traditional explanations (greed, disillusionment, jealousy) explain why Judas would have been so shattered after the crucifixion that the Gospel of Matthew has him committing suicide; only if Judas had expected a measure of good to come from his actions would suicide make any sense. "This is in fact the view which best suits all the facts," Barclay concluded.
Finally, there is an explanation at once simple and complex: sin. Why do we do what we know is wrong? It is an inexplicable mystery. Perhaps Judas’s reasons for betrayal were obscure even to himself.
. . . . .
From "Jesus: A Pilgrimage":http://www.harpercollins.com/books/Jesus-James-Martin/?isbn=9780062024237
Image: "The Taking of Christ in the Garden," by Caravaggio.
"We want to show X movie to Y group..."
This is the start of a potentially beautiful experience of learning, community building, reflection, prayer or just fun....
Or it could be a bad choice.
How can you tell the difference?
With the current string of religiously themed movies, this seems like a good time to share a few basic considerations if you are looking to show a movie to children, youth or families:
1. A group leader should ALWAYS preview a movie!
Consider watching it twice, the first time to get an overall sense of the film; then if that seems fine, watch it again to look for any subtle themes, plot twists, backdrops or characters that may raise questions, concerns, or 'red flags.'
You may wish to invite a few other adult to preview the movie with you so that you have additional eyes to notice things and insights to share.
A few questions:
-- what is that main message the film is communicating?
-- what others themes is the film sending?
-- what Gospel themes are connected?
-- what Diocesan Curriculum Objectives are covered? (Hey, even if you are planning it just as a fun activity, it doesn't hurt to slip some catechesis in if you are sponsoring it as a ministry event!)
-- is this movie the best way to teach these themes?
-- can clips of the film be shown (obviously at a later date once they are available) to better get across the point(s) you hope to teach, or does the movie need to be seen in its entirety?
-- what prayers, reflection questions and discussions can support the film theme(s)?
Movies that pervert the faith or are blatantly immoral must be avoided.
2. What is the movie rating? Remember that the Motion Pictures Association of America is one form of rating, and a great starting point.
G = General Audiences (all ages)
PG = Parental Guidance suggested as some aspects may not be suitable for children
PG 13 = Parental Guidance but really most viewers should be 13 and older
R = viewers should be 17 and older or with a parent (often based on amount of violence, profanity, nudity)
NC 17= restricted to only those 17 and older
Therefore, you should NOT plan to high school teens to an R-rated movie, or small children to a PG film.... and I must add that you still might want to preview G-rated movies as some themes might be questionable for religious purposes, although they should be generally "safe" to watch.
3. How have Catholic Leaders rated it?
Catholic leaders look at the movies not only based on the amount of
violence, profanity, and nudity (the 3 criteria used for the MPAA ratings above) but also based on our Christian morals, teachings and scriptures.
A. Catholic News Services --CNS continues to work begun by the U.S. Bishops Office for Film and Broadcasting by reviewing movies through the lenses of our Catholic faith.
The rating system they use:
Visit the website to see the ratings given in current and older movies:
B. Franciscans Media movie reviews
(I am not sure if they add original reviews, or just post the CNS reviews from above? But the format for reading might be easier on some screens.)
C. Sr. Rose Pacatte - Daughters of St. Paul community member Sr. Rose has taken the 5 Things the National Director for Catechesis says about media (see image to the right). She reviews and writes for a number of outlets to help Catholics chose movies wisely:
RCL Benziger (publisher) has "Sr. Rose Goes to the Movies" video reviews posted for catechists, educators and parents at:
Articles on movies posted with the National Catholic Reporter (newspaper):
Pathos Faith Channels also has "Sr. Rose Goes to the Movies" for all ages at:
OK, so once you have previewed a movie (perhaps twice or with a team),
decide that it is worthy of pursuing as a parish activity, have checked the
movie ratings and see that reliable Catholic leaders support the film,
please remember that if going as a youth event, you must follow all the guidelines regarding permission forms, Diocesan Child Protection Policy compliant chaperones and drivers....
then get some popcorn and enjoy!
Cindee Case, MPS
Director of the Diocese of Youngstown Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry.