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Pope FrancisHabemus Papam!  Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires is now Pope Francis!

What a wonderful gift God and our cardinals have given to the Church today! Our new Holy Father seems like such a humble and gracious man.  I will never forget when he bowed and asked the people to pray for God’s blessing upon him, and the entire crowd fell silent and prayed, joined by the millions around the world who were watching via the media.  A beautiful, edifying, unifying moment.

I so look forward to getting to know our new Papa better and seeing and hearing more from him.  I feel we are in very good hands, and that he is going to move the Barque of St. Peter forward and reach out to the world.  A good leader for this age of the New Evangelization and the Year of Faith.

7 October, one of the most significant days in history.

On this day in 1571, near the Greek town of Lepanto, a joint navy of Christian states dealt a crushing defeat to the Turkish navy, preventing an invasion of Europe.  The defeat was so crushing that it was considered miraculous.

The victory was attributed to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope St. Pius V having urged all the Catholics in Europe to pray the Rosary for victory.  Pope St. Pius V was a Dominican, and the Dominicans had long been the special custodians and propagators of the Rosary.  Tradition says that the Rosary was given to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin herself, as a special weapon against heresy and other dangers.  The victory at Lepanto reaffirmed the Rosary’s power.  This feast day has also been known as the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

Pope St. Pius V also gave Mary the title, Our Lady of Victory, and this is one of the titles under which she is Patroness of the United States, my beloved patria!

So, as a Catholic, as a Dominican, and as an American, this feast day is very special to me!

Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

I just finished watching  A Hand of Peace: Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust.  It’s a beautiful documentary with powerful historical footage as well as interviews with both Christian and Jewish scholars and writers and the priest who is in charge of Pope Pius’s cause for canonization.  It gives the origins of the “black legend” that arose around the pope in the early 1960’s and how this legend  is soundly refuted by basic historical facts.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know how I admire Pope Pius XII and wish for his canonization as soon as possible.  Seeing him in action and hearing his voice was very moving.

I’ve already posted evidence that he was an animal lover.  Here’s some more:

Pope Pius XII with bird

The Holy Father had expected the Holy Spirit to be a bit more impressive in person.

(Yes, I know…  But we just passed Pentecost, and there’s something irresistable about captioning photographs of popes with animals!  I suspect that both Papa Pacelli and the Holy Spirit would be amused.)

Anyway.  I highly recommend this video.  (I learned of that photo from the video, btw.)

After all I’ve been going through with the Lenten Lesson about being sheepish and looking to God as my Shepherd, I really took notice of this Sunday’s gospel reading.

Remember: being a sheep can be a good thing.  It can even be the best thing.

And here is a gratuitous “aaaawwww”-inspiring photo of Pope Pius XII:

Pope Pius XII with lambs

Pope Pius XII:  Let us now meditate upon Psalm 23, verse 2:  “He makes me lie down in green pastures…”

Lamb 1:  Mm!  Mm!  Green pastures are yummy!

Lamb 2:  Dude, he’s the pope, just lie down already!

:D

I read something about this a while back, but this article provides more details about what Pope Pius XII planned to do in the event that he was kidnapped or arrested by the Nazis.

Pope Pius XII told senior bishops that should he be arrested by the Nazis, his resignation would become effective immediately, paving the way for a successor, according to documents in the Vatican’s Secret Archives.

The bishops would then be expected to flee to a safe country – probably neutral Portugal – where they would re-establish the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church and appoint a new Pontiff.

In the event of his capture, he wanted to be divested of the only thing that gave him any value to the Nazis.  Pretty heroic, if you ask me!

May he be canonized soon.  And may his prayers be with us!

A very happy birthday to our Holy Father, Pope Benedict, who is 82 years old today!

Pope Benedict in Brazil, 2007

As always, I pray that the Lord bless him with continued long life and good health!  I am so grateful to have him as our Papa!

Also, this Sunday, 19 April, we celebrate the 4th anniversary of his election as Pope!  Appropriately enough, this year, it is also Divine Mercy Sunday.  Providing us with such a good shepherd has been an act of God’s mercy in these troubled times.

Viva il Papa!  Ad multos annos!

(Photo by Fabio Pozzebom, found at Wikipedia)

pope1_overlay

I’m sorry that it took his death for me to get to know him and appreciate him. 

It seems just like yesterday… Patrick was alive, and we spent hours on the phone together while we watched all the news coverage, trading info about what was happening on this or that channel.  I remember listening in silence to the Litany of Saints during the funeral, and Patrick commenting on how beautiful it was.  Patrick also told me he’d gone to a memorial Mass, and I was surprised… but really, it was just like him to do that.  Pope John Paul II’s death drew me and Patrick closer together, and drew both of us closer to the Church.  I’m sure we weren’t the only ones, either.

At home, now, I’m watching the movie based on his life.  The one with Cary Elwes and Jon Voight.  It’s a lovely film, and I think it’s a very good tribute to our dear late papa.

This day used to be very sad and mournful for me.  Mainly because it meant that the anniversary of Patrick’s death was on its way.  But this year, I just feel so grateful!  My memories are fond.  I’m finally getting to where I can cherish them!  That’s a good place to be.

Today is a special day on the calendar for a couple of reasons.

The beheaded St. Denis with 2 angels, Notre Dame de ParisThe first being that it is the feast day of the martyr, St. Denis, who is my baptismal Patron Saint! St. Denis (also known as St. Dionysius) was the first bishop of Paris, France, and was martyred with a priest, St. Rusticus and a deacon, St. Eleutherius.

They were beheaded around the year 258, on Montmartre (mount of the martyrs).  Legend says that after his beheading, supported by two angels, St. Denis carried his severed head and walked down the hill to his burial place.  You can see a depiction of that in this photo from Notre Dame de Paris (photo by Flickr user wallyg).  About 200 years later, another Parisian saint, St. Genevieve, had a church built over St. Denis’ grave.  Not coincidentally, St. Genevieve is my Confirmation Patron Saint!  (More about her on 3 January.)

St. Denis is the Patron Saint of: France, Paris, possessed people, against headaches, against frenzy, against hydrophobia, against strife, and against rabies.

Second, today marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Pius XII’s death. Ken at HallowedGround has a nice pictorial tribute to the pope.  The New Liturgical Movement has lots of photos from Pope Benedict’s Mass in honor of this occasion, and Zenit has the homily and more.

I don’t have any glorious photos or dazzling insights to contribute, but I do love Pope Pius XII, in spite of all the controversy that sadly still surrounds him.  All the evidence I’ve seen indicates that he was a brave and wise man who did all that anybody in his position could have done amid the nightmarish crises of World War II to stand up for peace and sanity, the protection of innocents, and human dignity.  He was admired and praised by his contemporaries, and if there’s anything that makes my skin crawl, from an intellectual and scholarly point of view, it is revisionist history!  It’s malicious, it’s dishonest, it’s self-serving, it’s cowardly… it’s contrary to real knowledge and wisdom in every way.  You can’t go much lower than to try to assassinate the character of a man who isn’t here to confront you.  But I digress.  In any case, I think Pope Pius XII deserves to be recognized as a Saint, and I believe he will be fairly soon, regardless of whether or not the whole world approves.

Related post: The Truth about Pope Pius XII

I watched another wonderful DVD today:  Witness to Hope: the Life of Karol Wojtyla – Pope John Paul II. It is based on the book by George Weigel.

It was a beautiful, moving, and very well-done film.  I learned a lot about the world our late Holy Father came from, and how it shaped him and his work.  I wish I could put myself into God’s hands the way Pope John Paul II did.  He was truly a remarkable man, even when he was still Karol Wojtyla, before he became Pope.

He was Pope from the time I was 2 years old, until I was 28.  But he was never much a part of my life.  I never paid him or the papacy much mind.  He was just some old man in Rome.  He didn’t really affect us or our lives (so I thought).  When he died and his story was everywhere on TV and in the media, I finally began to learn who he was and what he did.  And I was so full of regret!  How could I have been so indifferent and, at times, so hostile?

When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, I started to slip back to my old ways.  I still wasn’t much of a Catholic at the time.  But I have since vowed that I was going to do my best to get to know our Holy Father and follow his activities and ideas.  I haven’t regretted that one bit–I love him so much!  He fills a special place in my heart, sort of a grandfatherly place, since I never got to know either of my biological grandfathers.

I have begun to feel that way for Pope John Paul as well… and really for all the previous popes.  I know that they are still watching over their children from Heaven, along with my biological family and other loved ones who have gone before me.  That makes me very glad!  :)

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(Image from a painting at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, Metairie, Louisiana)

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