July 30, 2014

Positivity: Ring of Fire, A Capella

Filed under: Marvels,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

The musicianship here is special (HT The Blaze):

But I like the passion (restrained, but there) in the Johnny Cash version a bit more:

July 29, 2014

Positivity: Rio favela continues to reap fruits from World Youth Day

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:01 am

From Rio de Janeiro:

Jul 28, 2014 / 04:02 am (CNA/EWTN News).- After nearly two years of preparation, Father José Almy Gomes, 40, almost wasn’t ready for Pope Francis’ World Youth Day pilgrimage to Rio de Janeiro.

A student at Rome’s Patristic Institute Augustinianum from 2003 to 2007, Fr. Almy was the pastor of St. Dominic’s in Perdizes – a rural neighborhood of São Paulo. He worked from June 2011 to August 2012 organizing a group of over 100 international pilgrims, including 20 Americans, for a three-week Catholic dream experience: seven days of tourism and cultural immersion in São Paulo, a week of mission work in Rio’s favelas, and seven days of WYD celebration on Copacabana Beach.

His only hope, for the sake of the project’s success, was not to be transferred before then.

But in February 2013, fewer than five months before WYD, Rio’s Archdiocese of St. Sebastian came calling. Fr. Almy was directed to Our Lady of the Rosary parish – just two blocks from where Pope Francis would stand on Copacabana Beach.

Shaken by his transfer, Fr. Almy faced the immediate challenge of building his new parish’s volunteer efforts almost completely from scratch.

“We had just one volunteer signed up when I arrived,” he said in Portuguese, his native language. “World Youth Day just didn’t seem very important here.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 28, 2014

Positivity: Jesus is the great treasure, Pope teaches

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

ul 27, 2014 / 11:07 am

Pope Francis on Sunday stressed the priceless value of encountering Jesus, noting that Jesus’ parables speak of those who are willing to trade everything for the Kingdom of God.

“He who knows Jesus, who encounters him personally, remains fascinated and attracted by so much kindness, so much truth, so much beauty, and everything in great humility and simplicity,” the Pope said July 27.

“Look for Jesus, meet Jesus: this is the great treasure!” the Pope exhorted.

Speaking before the noontime Angelus prayers, he addressed thousands gathered in St. Peter’s Square from his window in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

The Pope reflected on the two parables in the Sunday Mass reading from the Gospel of Matthew: the parable of the treasure discovered buried in a field and the parable of the pearl of great price.

He said these parables show that the discovery of the Kingdom of God can come “suddenly,” as when the farmer discovers unexpected treasure in a field and sells everything to buy it. The Kingdom of God can also come “after a long search,” like the case of the merchant who sought a precious pearl.

Pope Francis stressed the primary fact of both parables: the farmer and the merchant “give up everything else” to buy what they have found.

“They do not need to reason, to think, to reflect: they realize immediately the incomparable value of what they have found, and are willing to lose everything to have it.”

“So it is with the Kingdom of God,” the Pope explained. “He who finds it has no doubts. He feels that this is what he was searching for, what he was looking for, and what responds to his most authentic aspirations.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 27, 2014

Positivity: John Paul I’s beatification cause may advance, cardinal says

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Belluno, Italy:

Jul 24, 2014 / 12:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A document advancing the beatification of John Paul I is ready, and will be given to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints this autumn, according to the emeritus Secretary of State.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone announced the milestone during his homily at Mass in the Belluno cathedral July 20.

The beatification process of John Paul I had been slowed because the “positio” had not been completed. The positio is the document that the postulator prepares, presenting the “pros” and “cons” of a person’s possible beatification.

After the positio is submitted, theologian consultants to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, and the Promoter of Faith, will vote on whether to approve the document for further consideration.

If they approve, the members of the congregation then will give their response. If they too approve, the cause for beatification will be referred to Pope Francis for approval.

John Paul I was born in the Diocese of Belluno and Feltre in 1912, as Albino Luciani. He was ordained a priest of the diocese in 1935, at the age of 22, and was appointed Bishop of Vittorio Veneto in 1958. He then served as Patriarch of Venice from 1969 until his election as Bishop of Rome in 1978.

He served as Pope for 33 days before his death, presumably of a heart attack.

Shortly after his death, requests to begin his beatification process came from many parts of the world. These requests were formalized in 1990, with a document signed by 226 Brazilian bishops. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 26, 2014

Positivity: The way strangers Photoshopped a baby’s picture will touch your heart

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Ohio (HT Daryn Kagan) — be sure to go to the link to see the retouched photos:

July 15, 2014 at 11:06 AM ET

A grieving father’s simple appeal to strangers has resulted in a beautiful gift: Portraits of his daughter, finally free of the machines that surrounded her during her brief life.

The Ohio dad, whose baby died last Thursday, posted a brief request on Reddit over the weekend: “My daughter recently passed away after a long battle in the children’s hospital,” he wrote.

“Since she was in the hospital her whole life, we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?”

The response was huge, with commenters submitting beautifully retouched photos and even drawings for the grieving father.

Nathen Steffel, who posted the request, sent a brief statement to TODAY Parents about the experience.

“I didn’t really want all the publicity, I just wanted a picture,” Steffel wrote in an email. “What I received was a whole lot of love and support from complete strangers.”

This was one of the retouched photos submitted by a Reddit user.

His daughter Sophia was born May 30 and lived just six weeks, he said. She died from complications from a hepatic hemangioma, a liver tumor, he wrote on Reddit. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

Positivity: El Salvador youth saved from violence by music

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From San Salvador, El Salvador:

Jul 24, 2014 / 02:12 am

Nearly 1,000 children and teens who live in violent, crime-ridden areas of El Salvador have turned to the Don Bosco Youth Symphonic Orchestra as an alternative to a life of drugs and conflict.

The orchestra is financed by a $1 million grant from the Social Fund for the Development of Japan, administered by the World Bank. It is run by Spanish Salesian Father Jose Maria Moratalla Escudero, known as Father Pepe, who is president of the Salvadoran Education and Work Foundation.

Formed more three years ago, the orchestra made its debut in San Salvador last year. The young musicians range in age from 8 to 20 and are from various public schools located in neighborhoods plagued by gang violence. Twenty-five year old Bryan Cea, himself from a troubled neighborhood, directs the orchestra.

El Salvador is one of the most violent countries in Central America, along with Honduras and Guatemala. According to El Salvador president Sanchez Ceren, the murder rate in the country has increased from six per day in 2013 to 10 per day in 2014.

Gang violence is so intense that even living in or visiting an area controlled by a rival gang can mean death.

For this reason, the orchestra project is so important, as it gives young people a peaceful alternative for learning, Fr. Pepe said. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 25, 2014

Positivity: Lives of the saints model Catholic social teaching in new book

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Huntington, Indiana:

Jul 22, 2014 / 11:59 am

Dignity of the human person, solidarity and care for creation are just a few topics author Brandon Vogt discusses in his new book, “Saints and Social Justice: A Guide to Changing the World.”

“I hope that this book is a ringing call to saintliness for all readers to say, ‘I want to be a saint and here’s the game plan for doing it,’” Vogt told CNA July 11.

The book focuses on seven basic themes of Catholic social teaching – life and dignity of the human person; call to family, community and participation; rights and responsibilities; option for the poor and vulnerable; dignity of work and the rights of workers; solidarity; and care for creation.

It uses examples of the saints to show how those themes can be lived out in daily life.

“There’s lots of books on Catholic social teaching that are helpful in terms of the theoretical principles they provide, but most of them are very abstract. That’s what makes Catholic social teaching difficult – it’s hard to apply.”

By providing readers with examples of how real people practiced the principles of Catholic social teaching, he hopes that readers will be able to more easily live them out themselves. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 24, 2014

Positivity: Religious liberty ‘fundamental’ to human dignity, bishops affirm

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Baltimore:

Jul 22, 2014 / 04:55 pm

In a recent interview with CNA, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore reaffirmed religious liberty as a priority for the U.S. bishops, emphasizing its relation to personal dignity and evangelization.

“Let me just say that religious liberty is so fundamental to the dignity of the human person,” Archbishop Lori stated, continuing that “anyone who is an impartial observer of the culture would say that in recent times, the challenges to religious liberty have accelerated.

Because of these situation, the archbishop said that the American bishops have dedicated themselves to upholding religious freedom, and will continue to discuss the “multifaceted challenges” faced by the Church.

Archbishop Lori noted that the right to religious liberty “is very much related to truth,” and “does not just depend on (the content of one’s) belief.”

“God gave us the gift of religious liberty so that we could sincerely seek the truth, and embrace it once we have found it.”

He added that “to attenuate religious liberty is to attenuate the search for truth. So that is the fundamental level at which we are committed to religious liberty.”

Archbishop Lori also discussed the “linguistic and philosophical gulfs between the teaching of the Church, and the culture,” because “there are those who think religious liberty is really a guise for some right to discriminate, that the Church or others are seeking. So, we have to break those things down, in our catechesis and our evangelization.”

The vast differences in philosophical outlook and in use of language, between the Church and the mainstream culture, are important for Church leaders to take into account, he said.

“For those who preach and teach, it’s important that we break down the language that we use into terms that are, in fact, preachable and teachable.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 23, 2014

Positivity: Argentine national soccer team sends autographed jersey to Pope

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Vatican City:

Jul 20, 2014 / 06:01 am

In a gesture of gratitude and affection, the Argentinean national soccer team, which lost Sunday to Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, sent Pope Francis an official team jersey autographed by each of its players.

“Here’s the present the team sent to our Pope Francis!” team member Maxi Rodriguez said in a post on his Twitter account, which featured a photo of himself and team captain Lionel Messi holding the jersey.

The Holy See expressed thanks for the gift on Thursday, noting that although Argentina did not win the final, the team “acknowledged it had faith that the Pontiff would keep them in his thoughts throughout the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.”

During their stay in Brazil, the Argentine team kept a large photo of the players posing with Pope Francis on display at their training center in Belo Horizonte. The picture was taken last year when the Argentine team visited the pontiff while in Rome for a friendly match with Italy. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 22, 2014

Positivity: Openness to beauty leads soul to God, says Catholic thinker

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Philadelphia:

Jul 22, 2014 / 04:03 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The senses are the “road to God”, who speaks to us through beauty, said Bill Donaghy, who holds a master’s in systematic theology, at the recent Theology of the Body Congress held in Philadelphia.

God “is trying to break into our minds and hearts through beauty,” said Donaghy who, using the image of a leaf open to sunlight, said, “we need to be as receptive to God’s beauty as this leaf.”

Donaghy was addressing an audience on the role of beauty in the new evangelization at a conference about the more than 100 catecheses delivered by St. John Paul II on “Theology of the Body” early in his pontificate.

Part of John Paul II’s thought is his sacramental vision of creation, through which we can see God, Donaghy explained. The senses “are a road to God,” he said, imploring the audience, “don’t shrink from the gift of the senses.”

Quoting Fr. Robert Barron, Donaghy called beauty the “arrowhead of the new evangelization” because, although it is not an end in itself, it catches the heart and points it towards the true and the good, adding that it is “the point with which the evangelist pierces the minds and hearts of those he evangelizes.”

When asked what Catholics should do to bring beauty into everyday life, Donaghy called for “’lectio divina’ in the visual realm.”

“It means that you get good books. That your coffee table books are rich sacred art. That you give yourself opportunities to wander in the woods, that you read the book of creation more deliberately and you spend time before the 2,000 years of history of sacred art.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 21, 2014

Positivity: Bishop: Hobby Lobby case shows need to fight secularism

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Lincoln, Nebraska:

Jul 15, 2014 / 12:02 pm

Despite the recent Hobby Lobby court victory, Bishop James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb. stressed the need for Catholics to continue to evangelize and fight against the prevailing culture of secularism.

“The victory is not unqualified and the fight for our religious liberty is not complete. Churches, hospitals, and universities are still threatened by the HHS contraceptive mandate,” Bishop Conley said in his July 11 archdiocesan column.

On June 30, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Hobby Lobby and similar employers cannot be forced to comply with the federal contraception mandate against their religious beliefs.

Craft giant Hobby Lobby and its owners, the Green family, had challenged a federal mandate issued under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

The Greens said that mandate would require them to violate their deeply-held Christian beliefs against facilitating abortion.

In his column, Bishop Conley said the repercussions of the Hobby Lobby decision have indeed established that “believers have a place in the public square – that all of us should be free to conduct our business without compromising our basic moral beliefs.”

However, the Supreme Court decision also relayed the overwhelming assertions of secularists, “whose loyalties lie more closely with unfettered sexual libertinism than with respect for fundamental rights of conscience, of religion, or of personal dignity,” the bishop said.

Although the fight for religious freedom in litigation is important, Bishop Conley suggested that the root issue is secularism.

“Religious liberty will be threatened in our nation as long as secularism is the prevailing cultural leitmotif.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 20, 2014

Positivity: Knights of Columbus pledge $1.4 million for Special Olympics

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Los Angeles:

Jul 15, 2014 / 02:10 am

The Knights of Columbus have pledged $1.4 million for next year’s Special Olympics World Games, helping to cover participating athletes’ expenses for the Los Angeles event.

“Our support exemplifies our commitment to the dignity of every person, our dedication to assisting with our neighbors’ needs whatever they may be, and our deep appreciation for the great work done by Special Olympics,” Supreme Knight Carl Anderson said in Los Angeles July 14.

The Special Olympics World Games will bring together over 7,000 athletes with intellectual disabilities from 171 countries. It will feature 21 Olympic-type sports.

The pledged funds will support food, transportation and entertainment costs for every athlete from the U.S. and Canada. Anderson has asked Knights of Columbus leaders in each U.S. state and Canadian province to help increase volunteer activity on behalf of the Special Olympics.

The pledge announcement came at a news conference at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Other speakers included Special Olympics CEO and president Patrick McClenahan and Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez.

Archbishop Gomez said that Los Angeles Catholics are “happy and proud” to welcome the event.

“The Special Olympics is a celebration of human dignity and a beautiful sign that our world is truly one family drawn from peoples of every race and language,” he said. “We look forward to working with the Knights of Columbus, and we pray that this competition will promote solidarity and make all of us more aware of our common humanity.”

McClenahan said that the Knights of Columbus have shown “long and generous support” for the event. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 19, 2014

Positivity: CatholicFest mixes camping, encounter with truth, beauty

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Green Bay, Wisconsin:

Jul 14, 2014 / 04:56 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- For the past three years now, Catholic families in the Diocese of Green Bay and beyond have been marking their calendars for July 4th, and not just because it’s Independence Day.

Since 2012, families have camped out by Kangaroo Lake near Bailey’s Harbor, Wisc., for CatholicFest, an event over the holiday weekend that offers a chance to pray, meet other Catholic families, and experience truth, beauty and goodness in the arts.

“Our society is attacking the family, it’s under attack,” CatholicFest director Jen Lowery told CNA.

“But I think CatholicFest seeks to really minister to families….it’s just to come up and experience the good, the true and the beautiful through those mediums and to be together.”

Families register online for a camping spot on the grounds of the St. Joseph formation center. Once they arrive, their schedule includes prayer and Mass, as well as presentations by Catholic artists on film, art or literature. In the evening, up-and-coming Catholic artists give concerts on the back lawn.

Lowery, 31, helped direct the first CatholicFest as well as the most recent one. The event is an outreach of Catholic Youth Expeditions (CYE), founded in 2002 as a part-summer camp, part-retreat ministry that brings young adult staff members together to live in community and host various high school and young adult expeditions of prayer, community life, camping and outdoor activities.

Simplicity and prayer are the bread and butter of CYE and all its apostolates, including CatholicFest.

“You’re up here, you’re away from the world, and the three constants are morning and evening prayer, Eucharistic adoration and Mass,” Lowery said. “Everything else is icing on the cake.”

CatholicFest was started as a way to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the CYE ministry. Instead of high schoolers or young adults, Fr. Quinn wanted to serve the families of the Green Bay Diocese while promoting Catholic culture through the arts. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 18, 2014

Positivity: Thai bishop sows seeds of evangelization in mission diocese

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Chiang Mai, Thailand:

Jul 15, 2014 / 04:02 am

The bishop of Thailand’s northernmost diocese, which is largely rural and dominated by hill tribes, has begun himself working in the fields alongside his flock, noting the importance of agriculture there.

“I try to understand the farmers, and to promote Catholic social teaching so that they can contribute to a holistic human development, can work for the common good of their family and for the entire nation,” Bishop Francis Xavier Vira Arpondratana of Chiang Mai told CNA July 10.

The diocesan economy is largely agricultural, and the mountainous region lacks many amenities such as electricity and modern communications and highway infrastructure.

Relating how he began to work in the rice fields with his tribal flock, he said that “in fact, I did not want to work in the field, but I would like to support them; and one of the local nuns encouraged me, asking, ‘bishop why don’t you work with us?’”

And so Bishop Arpondratana took to the rice paddies with gusto.

“When someone asks, I would like to open my heart and mind and be with them,” he explained.

His work with farmers has inspired both them and catechists in the Chiang Mai diocese. He has organized a Lenten rice campaign in the diocese centered on prayer, penance, and alms giving.

The bishop is concerned for the local people, and is helping develop a strong sense of solidarity among the local ethnic groups: “I am aware of the economic situation of Europe, so we cannot ask help from there. We have to make the local people understand they must help each other locally, and not only receive help from afar.”

Bishop Arpondratana,58, was ordained a priest of the Bangkok archdiocese, 430 miles south of Chiang Mai, in 1981, and served there until his appointment as bishop in 2009. …

Go here for the rest of the story.

July 17, 2014

Positivity: North Carolina lawmakers stand by ‘Choose Life’ plates

Filed under: Positivity,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:00 am

From Washington:

Jul 16, 2014 / 02:02 am

Several lawmakers in North Carolina have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to review a censorship case related to pro-life specialty license plates in the state.

Alliance Defending Freedom filed the appeal on Friday on behalf of Thom Tillis, speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives, and Phil Berger, president pro tempore of the North Carolina Senate.

“State governments have a right to advance messages consistent with their public policies,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox in a recent statement.

“The Supreme Court has already affirmed that right. North Carolinians support protecting life and helping pregnant women in need; the First Amendment does not require the state to bow to demands that it censor the ‘Choose Life’ message.”

The North Carolina General Assembly authorized the specialty license plates featuring the phrase “Choose Life” in 2011. The plates would have been available for an additional $25 fee, $15 of which would support the Carolina Pregnancy Care Fellowship, which serves pregnant women in North Carolina.

The state offers more than 100 other special-interest license plates, ranging from the Knights of Columbus to more than a dozen NASCAR options. All specialty plates fund causes that benefit the state and are consistent with its public policies.

Before the state could begin issuing the plates for hundreds of interested citizens, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on First Amendment grounds. The ACLU argued that the “Choose Life” plates must be censored because North Carolina did not also issue a specialty place encouraging abortion.

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina ruled in favor of the ACLU, barring North Carolina from distributing the “Choose Life” plates. In February, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision.

“The 4th Circuit’s decision is at odds with other circuits that have upheld the rights of states to issue such plates,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman.

Go here for the rest of the story.