Saturday, October 3, 2015

Announcing A New Segment on My Blog: "Praying with Priests"

Audio Version Available - Click To Listen

If you've watched any of the media coverage on the Papal Visit, than you will probably recognize this face.

As the Vatican appointed delegate of the Holy See's Press Office to all English speaking countries, Father Rosica is the official Vatican spokesperson for North America. A position which began following the  announcement on February 11, 2013 of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. During this critical period in Church history, Fr. Rosica was invited by the Vatican to join the staff of the Holy See Press Office and serve as one of the official spokespersons for the transition in the papacy that included the resignation, Sede Vacante, Conclave and election of the new Pope. His role has since been expanded under Pope Francis, and this very week he is at the Vatican's Synod of Bishops, where he serves in the capacity of English-speaking Media Attaché. 

Fr. Rosica is also CEO Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, which is Canada's first national Catholic Television Network.

The network recently aired a special with Fr. Rosica interviewing Stephen Colbert on his faith, called Colbert Witness (which you should definitely check out!).

I was blessed enough to have met Father Rosica some time ago while on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. We met at the foot of Mount Hermon, the Mountain of Transfiguration! I had no idea who he was at the time, but the chance encounter was providential.

Now years later, Father Rosica and I have remained close. He has become a friend and mentor to me. He was instrumental in producing The Holy Family Prayer Medal video which was featured at the World Meeting of Families.

Last we met this past summer, I asked Father Rosica if I could interview him, specifically I wanted to know about his prayer life. How does he pray and to whom (God the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit). There is no right or wrong way to pray, and everyone prays differently -especially priests. So I thought it would be interesting to see how some of my brother priests pray as well as advice they've given to people over the years.   I've compiled the resulting interview into a new and regular segment that I will be posting to my blog, called "Praying with Priests". 

Here's some photos of Fr. Rosica in action! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Final Thoughts On The Papal Visit & My Pilgrimage To Philadelphia

Following the Closing Mass, we sat around and had coffee reflecting on the "Highs and Lows" of our pilgrimage to see the Pope in Philadelphia.

The "high-points" of our journey were being together in this "City of Brotherly Love." William Penn named the city Philadelphia which comes from the Greek "Phileo" Love (for a friend) and "Adelphos" Brother. As a Quaker, Penn himself had experienced religious persecution and wanted this to be a place where anyone would be free to worship.

At Philadelphia's Independence Hall, Pope Francis gave a passionate speech on religious freedom, immigration and tolerance. It's very providential that this message would be given in the city of "Brotherly Love" founded with the desire for religious freedom.

"The Quakers who founded Philadelphia were inspired by a profound evangelical sense of the dignity of each individual and the ideal of a community united by brotherly love," he said. "This conviction led them to found a colony which would be a haven of religious freedom and tolerance. That sense of fraternal concern for the dignity of all, especially the weak and the vulnerable, became an essential part of the American spirit."

The Pope also said, "You should never be ashamed of your traditions. Do not forget the lessons you learned from your elders, which are something you can bring to enrich the life of this American land."

It is also providential that in the "City of Brotherly Love", Pope Francis would also speak about God being Love. He went on to tell the story of a child who once asked him (“you know how kids ask difficult questions”) what God did when he existed before the creation of the world. His response, after some thought, was, “before creating the world, God loved! Because God is love.”

Francis went on to eloquently summarize Catholic teaching on creation and the family: God’s love “was so big” that he created the world “to share that love with something outside of himself.” In his view, “the most beautiful thing that God made … was the family.”

After all, he asked, “where did [God] send his son? To a palace? To a city? To a company? No, he sent him to a family!

The pope recognized that some could consider his optimism about the family groundless, since he is celibate. So he was quick to acknowledge the difficulties that can emerge in family life. “We can get in fights. Sometimes plates go flying. Children bring headaches.” He cracked a broad smile as he quipped, “and I won’t speak about mother-in-laws!"

Read more of Pope Francis' Amazing Unscripted Speech on the Gift of Family

Many have asked me what it was like to be there and if this experience has changed me. Here's what I know for sure. It has given me a renewed hope in married life. The greatest blessing for me was to be at the closing of the World Meeting of Families with a wonderful young married couple, whose wedding I witnessed last year, who are now more in love than ever. They have not only given me a renewed sense of hope but they even mentioned that their involvement in the church renewed the hope of their own parish priest.

I realized that over and over our message needs to be that of Love. Pope Francis continuously models for us the axiom "you get more bees with honey than with vinegar". I realize too that we are blessed in this time to have a good, humble Holy Father, who doesn't consider himself a "Rock Star in the USA" but the servant of servants.

What a wonderful time for our country, for our world, and for our Church.

Viva il Papa! (Long live the Pope!)

Saturday, September 26, 2015

View My Live Streams From The Papal Visit In Philadelphia

Live From Philadelphia, it's... Pope Francis! 

Miss my "live streams" from the Papal Visit? No worries, you can still live vicariously through my phone as I have archived my "live streamed" videos of the Papal Motorcade and The World Meeting of Families Closing Mass in Philadelphia.

Reflections from the World Meeting of Families & Papal Visit

I've just posted a new reflection from my time so far in Philly, including the first Papal Mass this morning at the Basilica and a conversation I've had with Bishop Walkowiak about what it was like in the Cathedral during the Pope's visit to Washington DC and special mid-day prayer with the Bishops. You can read this and all my reflections to come this weekend on my special "World Meeting of Families (WMOF) 2015" blog page. Keep an eye open for more photos and videos to come as well! 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Join Me In Philly!

Even if you can't make it to the Papal Visit at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia this weekend, be sure to keep an eye on the "World Meeting of Families (WMOF) 2015" page on my blog for exclusive content including videos, pictures and reflections from this historic first visit of Pope Francis to the United States!