National Day of Prayer

The 61st annual observance of the National Day of Prayer will be held Thursday, May 3rd. But you don’t have to wait until then to pray for our nation (I’m sure many of you pray every day). The following prayer is from the home page of the official Web site for the National Day of Prayer:

Heavenly Father,

Every good gift and perfect gift comes from You. You are a faithful God and Your mercy endures forever.

You have promised to bless the nation that trusts in You.  Our currency proclaims “In God We Trust,” but in our culture we are far from You.

In the words of the prophet Daniel, “We have sinned and committed iniquity, we have done wickedly and rebelled, even by departing from Your precepts and Your judgments.”

We come before You once more, seeking Your forgiveness and mercy.  You, O God, are our only hope… Hear our prayer and, for Your honor’s sake, shine Your face upon this nation.

Give our leaders the desire to seek Your wisdom and the courage to follow Your guidance… and watch over the men and women of our armed forces as they sacrifice for the cause of freedom.

We give You thanks for all You have done for us, and we earnestly pray that You will help us become, once again, a nation whose God is the Lord.

In the name of Your Son, and our Savior, we pray this prayer.


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What’s a Personal Prelature?

On my recent posting on The Forge by St. Josemaria Escriva I received the following comment by John:

I love the priests I know from opus dei but I must admit I have a really hard time understanding the difference between an Order and a Personal Prelature.

Below you’ll find a brief explanation by Fr. Marty Moleski, a Jesuit priest and professor at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. I have the privilege of sharing the airwaves with him each Friday on the Calling All Catholics radio program, produced by The Station of the Cross.

I thank him for contributing this week to Media Musings:

Religious orders are voluntary associations of the faithful characterized by taking vows and following a common rule of life. Their roots lie in the religious communities founded by Sts. Basil, Augustine, Benedict, Scholastica, Francis, Clare, Ignatius, Angela de Merici, John Baptist de la Salle, and a host of other great saints. The key to the life of religious orders is the vow of obedience to the superiors of that religious community. This allows the members of the order to share a common life and to act together as one body.

The canonical organization of Opus Dei (personal prelature) bears a greater resemblance to the structure of a diocese rather than to that of a religious order. Under the guidance of a bishop (the “prelate”), other bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity, married or unmarried, may each follow their particular vocations, with the vows or promises proper to their different states in life, just as we find in any diocese of the Church. Unlike a diocese, a prelature is united by dedication to an apostolate rather than presence in a geographic region.

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Voicing Your Choice By Your Vote

Many states already held their primary elections. Five are voting today: New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Delaware.

The consensus was that voter turnout would be low this Tuesday (which seems to have proven true). But just because no positions are officially decided through primary elections, we still have the opportunity to see that strong candidates are viable options come November. And while it’s important to vote for the prominent offices, the smaller ones should be considered as well. The political climb to the prominent office has to start somewhere.

Unfortunately, there seems to be such a variety of cynical views regarding elections. Conservatives get discouraged, saying that their candidates don’t usually win. Or that there isn’t even anyone worth voting for. That all politicians are the same.

But it’s better for us to study up on the candidates’ positions than to excuse ourselves from voting altogether, believing that it’s not going to make a difference anyways.

Sometimes there are even complaints that the candidates will just change their positions later on. That’s something out of our control. All we can do is our part by voting, praying and fasting.

If your state’s primary election is coming up and you’re able to vote in it, make sure you do. If your primary has past, it’s time to get ready for the November elections. Study up on the candidates, who is running and what they stand for. Especially find out how the candidates view the Catholic Church’s five non-negotiables.

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Saint of the Day: St. Adalbert of Prague

On this day in 997, the first Bohemian-born bishop of Prague, St. Adalbert, was martyred in Prussia. He is remembered for his zeal for souls and bravery in proclaiming the Gospel in pagan lands.

St. Adalbert helped convert Hungary to Christianity. He then traveled to Prussia, where pagans worshipped supposed tree spirits. St. Adalbert and the other Christian missionaries chopped down the trees to prove that no powerful and dangerous spirits resided therein.

When they did not the heed the pagans’ warnings to stop, the Christian missionaries, including St. Adalbert, were martyred on the Baltic Sea coast.

St. Adalbert is the patron saint of Bohemia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Prague.

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Not Just A Contraception Issue

If you listen to only secular media, the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate sounds like solely a contraception issue for the Catholic Church.

But there’s so much more to it, and Catholic media outlets have done a great job in covering the problems with this mandate. As someone involved in Catholic radio specifically, I’ve heard many programs with knowledgeable guests interviewed to explain the various aspects of the HHS Mandate.

Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo offers the headlines of the day and discussions from a Catholic perspective. Teresa and the rest of the crew at Ave Maria Radio do an excellent job keeping Catholics aware of the gravity of the situation.

Johnnette Benkovic and Fr. Edmund Sylvia on EWTN Radio’s Women of Grace also discuss the impact this mandate would have on religious freedom. They explain how the issue is not so much about contraception as it is about the government trying to force Catholics to violate their conscience.

And on Calling All Catholics, produced by the Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network, Fr. Leon Biernat from Our Lady of Pompeii Catholic Church in Lancaster, New York, discussed on a couple of occasions the HHS Mandate and how we can get involved in standing up against it. He also brought to light how the mandate not only includes coverage for contraceptives but also sterilization and abortifacients, which are not discussed as much in the secular media.

If there are people in your life whose daily fill of news comes only through secular outlets, there are countless resources you can share to help them understand the HHS Mandate more comprehensively and learn how it would affect our country’s religious freedom in the coming months and years.

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The Forge

Another dynamic little book of sage-sayings from St. Josemaria Escriva comes to us through The Forge. Chapter titles include “Struggle,” “Recovery,” and “Victory.” St. Josemaria speaks to topics that people of any faith can relate to. They are topics that touch souls because they pertain to human nature and human struggles.

What are you so proud of? Every impulse that moves you comes from Him. Act accordingly. (Dazzled)

Lord, rescue me from myself! (Struggle)

You say yes, you are determined to follow Christ. All right. Then you should walk at His pace, not at your own. (Recovery)

A few are wicked, and many are ignorant: that is how the enemy of God and of the Church reigns. Let us confound the wicked, and enlighten the minds of the ignorant. With the help of God, and with our effort, we will save the world. (Victory)

Sometimes it just takes one brief saying that we can keep in mind during the day to help us in our present situation. Through Scripture and the writings of the saints we can find those words that touch our hearts and move us forward on our journey closer to God.

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Mother Teresa of Baghdad

Iraqi-native Mother Olga Yaqob survived four wars, converted to Catholicism from the Assyrian Church of the East, and founded the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth religious order in the Archdiocese of Boston.

But the nickname, “Mother Teresa of Baghdad” (in reference to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta), came from the time in her life when she moved to Baghdad from Kirkuk to live and work among the poor of the city. Her ministering included frequent visits to the Abu Ghraib prison. Most of those she served were Muslim, but she treated them with all the love and care she would any Christian.

Mother Olga’s incredible story is inspirational, heart-wrenching and uplifting. Her disposition is ever-cheerful and enthusiastic. And Mother Olga’s sincere love for God shines forth through her talks, interviews and simple encounters with those she meets.

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Sing It: Catholic Style

Contemporary Christian musicians that usually come to mind first are those on K-LOVE and local Christian radio stations – Third Day, Casting Crowns, Sanctus Real, etc.

But Catholic musicians have emerged over the last few years who have a similar feel through their melody, voice and overall sound. The difference is in the lyrics. While not every song is explicitly Catholic, it is a beautiful addition for Catholics who enjoy contemporary Christian music but would appreciate a Catholic touch.

Matt Maher rose in popularity several years ago when he made it onto the Christian music scene. Matt is known for songs like “Your Grace Is Enough” (covered and made famous by Chris Tomlin), “Hold Us Together,” and “Christ Is Risen.”

Catholic music group Marian Grace sings traditional hymns with a beautifully contemporary sound. Their renditions include “Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow (Doxology),” “Be Thou My Vision,” and “What Wondrous Love.”

Music can be a powerful tool to lift hearts to God and help evangelize the world.

Which songs have drawn you close to Our Lord?

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All Things Chesterton

Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.

To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.

There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.

These are just a few of the priceless words of wisdom shared by Catholic convert and British writer G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936).

The American Chesterton Society Web site offers an abundance of resources on Chesterton, including local Chesterton societies, podcasts, and plenty of related items for purchase in its store.

If you’re looking for more information on this humorous literary genius and his writings, check out the American Chesterton Society for all your Chesterton needs.

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Where Your Treasure Is

With the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs beginning tomorrow, it is fitting to reflect on the transient nature of sports. One game ends and it’s on to the next.

Sports in general and favorite teams in particular are addicting for countless fans around the globe. But when a game, season or playoff series is over, how much do you really remember?

Sure, there are plays that will stay with you for years, but the number of memories are scarce compared to the number of hours piled up in front of the TV — complete with heart attacks, voices lost, and tears shed.

What happens when there’s a family or church event scheduled at game time? “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Luke 12:34). How much will you lay at the altar of sports? How do you feel after giving in? Was it worth sacrificing quality time with the family?

So as we approach another playoff season (NBA playoffs start two weeks from this Saturday), let’s try to keep perspective and proper balance in our lives — I’m preaching to myself as much as to anyone else.

It’s gonna be one tense postseason. Let’s Go Pens.

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