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The first game, which will be held today, is between Pontifical International College Maria Mater Ecclesiae and Pontifical Gregorian University. Both seminaries are operated by religious orders. Mater Ecclesiae is operated by the Legionaries of Christ and the Gregorian is operated by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

The Pontifical North American College will not play until March 3rd when they face the Pontifical Urbanian University.

The tournament will end in June with the championship game.

Read the Catholic News report here.
and the Catholic World News report here.

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I have just wasted some time reading bulletin inserts on the Resource Publications website (Modern Liturgy).

While they were virtually all poorly written and some provided questionable information, there was one which stood out from the others I read. I didn’t read them all.

It was on Concelebration. The article says that concelebrated Masses can bad because, “Too many priests in the sanctuary can also offset the gender balance of the worshiping assembly.”

The article goes on to say, “Although women frequently outnumber men in the pews, men can easily outnumber women in the sanctuary.”

If you are at Mass and you are figuring out the male-female ratio of worshippers, then you are in need of some spiritual growth.

Yes, we have a male priesthood. Get over it!

Now I have a public service announcement:
Bulletin inserts which attempt to subvert the authority of the Magisterium cause the faithful to become distracted and lead them away from the Truth with is found in the Church.

Protesters refuse to be silenced – News

All I can say is way to go Fr. Shanley! It is great to see a college president upholding the Catholicity of a college.

I want to wish you all a blessed Ash Wednesday.

Since I cannot write anything better myself I will post these words from the Holy Father.

During today’s general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall in the presence of around 10,000 people, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to the subject of Lent.

“Today, Ash Wednesday,” said the Pope, “we begin the Lenten journey, characterized by listening to the Word of God, by prayer and penance. Forty days during which the liturgy will help us to relive the principal moments of the Mystery of salvation.”

For the baptized, Lent is a “new ‘catechumenate’ in which we return to our Baptism in order to rediscover it and experience it more profoundly. … It is an occasion to go back to being Christian via a constant process of interior transformation, and of progress in the knowledge and love of Christ.”

“Conversion,” the Holy Father explained, is not something that happens once and for all, it is a process, … a journey, … that cannot be limited to a specific period but must embrace all existence.”

“In this light,” he went on, “Lent is an appropriate spiritual moment to train ourselves more earnestly to seek God, opening our hearts to Christ. Conversion means seeking God. … It is not an effort of self-realization. … Self-realization is a contradiction, and it is too little for us. We have a higher destiny. … Conversion consists precisely in not thinking that one is the ‘creator’ of oneself, and thus discovering the truth.”

The Holy Father then went on to refer to his Lenten Message for this year, in which he highlights “the immense love that God has for us,” and invites Christians to remain “with Mary and John, the disciple Jesus loved, next to Him Who on the Cross gave his life for humanity.”

“The Cross is the definitive revelation of love and divine mercy, also for us, men and women of our time too often distracted by worldly and momentary concerns and interests. God is love and His love is the secret of our happiness. To enter into this mystery of love there is no other way than that of losing ourselves, giving ourselves, the way of the Cross.”

“For this reason,” Benedict XVI concluded, “the liturgy of Lent invites us … to reject sin and evil, and overcome selfishness and indifference, Prayer, fasting, penance and works of charity towards our brothers and sisters thus become spiritual paths to follow in order to return to God.”

Prior to today’s audience, the Pope went to the Vatican Basilica where he met bishops from the Italian region of Umbria, who are currently on their five-yearly “as limina” visit.

“The Church,” the Holy Father told the prelates, “has the perennial mission of spreading the light of Christ’s truth that illuminates peoples, that it may shine in all areas of society. In announcing the evangelical message, all Christian communities place themselves at the service of man and of the common good. Aware of this missionary mandate, encourage the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care to continue in their efforts to permeate modern culture with the vital lifeblood of divine grace. This is certainly not an easy task, but it is indispensable.”

VIS

Here is a link to the complete text of the Holy Father’s address at today’s audience.

Here is something weird I came across today.

It seems that KFC, yes the chicken place, has asked Pope Benedict to bless their fish sandwich. I think the word they are looking for is endorse, not bless, but isn’t this a clever marketing strategy.

You can read the article here.

Here is the press release:

The world’s most popular chicken restaurant chain is offering fish for the first time nationally with the introduction of the new KFC® Fish Snacker. The company has asked the Pope himself for his blessing, with KFC President Gregg Dedrick sending a personal letter to the Vatican.

KFC’s new Fish Snacker Sandwich, a tender, flaky filet of 100 percent Alaskan Pollack topped with tangy tartar sauce and served on a warm sesame bun, extends KFC’s popular Snacker line-up and is ideal for American Catholics who want to observe Lenten season traditions while still leading their busy, modern lifestyles. The company has turned to Pope Benedict XVI, beseeching him to bestow his Papal blessing for this innovative new menu item. Vatican officials confirmed they received KFC’s request, and the company is hopeful to get the Pope’s blessing this Lenten season.

“People can enjoy the flavor of the new Fish Snacker any day of the week, but we believe it will be especially popular on Fridays,” said James O’Reilly, Chief Marketing Officer for KFC. “It’s perfect for an on-the-go lunch or any time of the day when you need a quick snack but don’t want to sacrifice taste.”

KFC has more than 5,500 locations across the country, which means Americans won’t have to travel to Vatican City to find the New Fish Snacker. The KFC Fish Snacker costs 99 cents plus tax at participating restaurants — a price that is significantly less than most restaurant-made sandwiches.

On another note, I do not give my blessing or endorsement to the KFC fish sandwich. I had one last year and didn’t like it at all.

Made public today was a Letter from Benedict XVI to Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, emeritus of Warsaw, Poland. The text bears the date of February 12.

The Holy Father thanks the archbishop “for the trust with which you opened your soul before me, showing the anguished suffering of you heart throughout your life as a priest and bishop, until the moment of your resignation from the office of archbishop of Warsaw.
“In recent times I have participated in you sufferings and wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness and fraternal understanding.

“As for the past, I am fully aware of the exceptional circumstances in which you had to undertake your service, when the communist regime in Poland used all possible means to suffocate the freedom of citizens, and particularly of the clergy.

“As rector of the University of Lublin and as bishop of Plock you gave proof of your great piety, and of your profound love for Jesus Christ and for the Church.

“When, one month ago, you presented your resignation in the awareness that the situation that had arisen made it impossible for you to begin your episcopal service with the indispensable degree of authority, I clearly saw in this act a profound sensitivity for the good of the Church of Warsaw and of Poland, as well as your own humility and detachment from office.

“I would like, first of all, to encourage you to maintain faith and serenity of heart. I express the desire that you may resume your activity at the service of Christ, in whatever way proves possible, so that your vast and profound knowledge and priestly piety may be used for the good of the beloved Church in Poland.

“The episcopal mission, today as in the past, is marked by suffering. May Our Lord never cease to support you with His grace. Help will also come from the friendship of brother bishops and of the people who have known and respected you.”

VIS

At 6 p.m. on Saturday, February 17, the Holy Father visited Rome’s Major Pontifical Seminary for the occasion of the feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust. During the meeting, the Pope responded to six questions addressed to him by the seminarians. The text of their exchanges was made public yesterday afternoon.

Gregorpaolo Stano of the diocese of Oria, Italy asked how, “among the thousands of interior voices,” to discern the voice of God speaking within,

“God speaks,” Pope Benedict replied, “through other people, through friends, through our parents, … through the priests who guide you,” above all He speaks “in Sacred Scripture” which must be read “not as the word of a man or a document from the past, … but as the Word of God which is always valid and speaks to me.”

“It is important to remain attentive to the other voices of the Lord, to let ourselves be guided also by people who have, so to say, experience with God and help us along this path. … In this way our discernment grows, our personal friendship with God grows, [as does] the capacity to perceive, in the thousands of voices we hear today, the voice of God, which is always present and always speaks to us.”

Claudio Fabbri from the diocese of Rome wanted to know about the Holy Father’s life during his own period of training for the priesthood at the seminary of Freising, Germany.

“I believe that our life in the seminary of Freising was structured very much like your own. … I can say that Sacred Scripture was at the heart of our theological studies: we truly lived with Sacred Scripture and learned to love it, to communicate with it.” Another “vital area for us was liturgical formation.” The Pope also mentioned his interest in literature and his “great love for music.”

Gianpiero Savino of the diocese of Taranto, Italy asked how, bearing in mind human weakness, it is possible to respond to a vocation “as demanding as that of being pastors of God’s people.”

“It is good to recognize one’s own weakness,” said the Pope, “because thus we know that we have need of the Lord’s grace. … I [also] believe it is important to recognize that we are in need of a permanent conversion.” This is a journey with no lack of “joy and light from the Lord, but also no lack of dark valleys where we must walk with trust seeking support in the Lord’s goodness. … And therefore the Sacrament of Penance is also important, … to convert us to a new beginning and thus grow and mature in the Lord, in our communion with Him.”

The Holy Father also dwelt upon the necessity of not “isolating ourselves, not believing we can progress alone. We need the help of priest friends and lay friends to accompany and help us. … The gift of perseverance brings us joy, it gives us the certainty that we are loved by the Lord, and this love sustains us, it helps us and does not abandon us in our weaknesses.”

A Bulgarian seminarian, Dimov Koicio from the diocese of Nicopoli, asked a question concerning “corruption in the Church” to which the then Cardinal Ratzinger had alluded during the 2005 Way of the Cross, and the dangers of “seeking to advance one’s career through the Church.”

“The Lord knows,” the Pope replied, “and knew from the beginning that sin also exists in the Church. And by our humility it is important to recognize this – not to see sin only in others, in institutions and in high office, but also in ourselves – so as, in this way, to be more humble and to learn that ecclesial standing does not count before the Lord, what counts is to remain in His love.”

Francesco Annesi of the diocese of Rome wanted to know how “a priest can bear witness to the Christian meaning of suffering, and how he must behave before those who suffer without the risk of seeming rhetorical or pathetic.”

“We must recognize that it is right to do everything possible to alleviate the afflictions of humanity, and help those who suffer … to discover a life that is worthwhile and free from the evils which we ourselves provoke: hunger, epidemics, etc.,” said the Holy Father in his reply. “But at the same time, recognizing this duty to combat the sufferings we have caused, we must also recognize and understand that suffering is an essential factor for our maturation. … It is true that it is always problematic, if one is more or less in good health, to console someone else affected by a serious illness. … Faced with these ills, which we all know and recognize, it is almost inevitable that everything seems rhetorical and pathetic. But if people feel … that we want to carry the cross with them … helping them in every way we can, they will believe in us.”

Marco Ceccarelli, a deacon of Rome, soon to be ordained a priest asked the Holy Father’s advice on how to approach the first years of priestly ministry.

In his reply, the Holy Father highlighted “the need to be with the Lord in the Eucharist every day, not as a professional obligation but as a true interior duty,” and “to dedicate time to the Liturgy of the Hours” because “it helps us to be more open and to remain in profound contact with the Lord.” It is also important “not to lose communion with other priests, your companions on the journey, or to lose personal contact with the Word of God, meditation.”

“Never lose,” he concluded, “friendship with priests, listening to the voice of the living Church, or, of course, a readiness toward the people entrusted to us because from them, with their sufferings, their experiences of faith, their doubts and difficulties, we too can learn, and seek and find God.”

VIS

Not the Clericus Cup, but almost as good. Reuters is reporting that the third European Priests Football Championship was held in Sarajevo. 100 priests from 10 countries participated. The participating countries were: Austria, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia and Spain.

A hundred Roman Catholic priests from all over Europe swapped their cassocks for football strips in Sarajevo this week to compete in an indoor football championship organised by the church.

The winners were: Gold – Poland, Silver – Croatia, Bronze – Bosnia.
“We are here because we love football,” said Father Zarko Relota, captain of tournament favourites Croatia, which won both previous championships.

“We are absolutely going to win again,” he said during his team’s presentation at the opening ceremony.

As the games kicked off, the priests, proudly sporting national colours, showed off their tackling and dribbling skills in front of crowds of Catholic seminarians.

(…)

In Sarajevo’s sports hall an action-packed game saw Croatia edge Portugal 11-10 on penalties while Bosnia went down to Poland 0-1 in front of cheering nuns.

“The motto of this championship is ‘Meeting through Sport’,” said Monsignor Ivo Tomasevic of Bosnia’s Archbishopric, which is hosting the tournament.

Read the complete article here and see pictures here.

From the Press Register:

Mobile Catholic Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb said he received a new pallium Thursday night from the Vatican to replace the one stolen from his car on Christmas Eve.

The pallium was taken from Lipscomb’s Mercedes about 6:30 p.m. Christmas Eve in front of a home on Spring Bank Road in Mobile’s Spring Hill neighborhood. Several other religious items also were stolen.

Lipscomb said he had planned to petition church officials in the Vatican for a new pallium while he was there for work next month. A pallium, worn around the neck, chest and shoulders, is a white, woolen circular band, 2 inches wide, ornamented with six small black crosses and weighted pendants in the front and back, according to the Maryknoll Catholic Dictionary.

Lipscomb said he returned from Montgomery on Thursday night to find a packet sent to him by the pope’s representative in Washington, D.C., who had apparently asked the Vatican for the new pallium.

“I didn’t even have to ask for one,” Lipscomb said Friday.

Two of the items stolen from his car, a pectoral cross and his crosier, or ceremonial shepherd’s staff, have been recovered by two separate thrift store shoppers.

Both items were found at America’s Thrift Stores at 312 Schillinger Road in west Mobile near Airport Boulevard. The pectoral cross was bought for $6, the crosier for $10.96.

My advice to all thrift shop managers: the average Catholic does not have a crozier in his house. Now, where is that pallium?

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