Thank you all so much for your prayers! (Click "Read More" to see the photos.)
AS I embark on the last leg of my pilgrimage homeward bound (standing here at a computer terminal in Germany), I want to tell you that each day I have prayed for all of you my readers and those whom I promised to carry in my heart. No… I have stormed heaven for you, lifting you up at Masses and praying countless Rosaries. In many ways, I feel this journey was also for you. God is doing and speaking much in my heart. I have many things bubbling up in my heart to write you!
I pray to God that this day also, you will give your whole heart to Him. What does this mean to give Him your whole heart, to "open wide your heart"? It means to give over to God every detail of your life, even the smallest. Our day is not just one big glob of time—it is made up of each moment. Can you not see then that in order to have a blessed day, a holy day, a "good" day, then each moment must be consecrated (given over) to Him?
It is as though each day we sit down to make a white garment. But if we neglect each stitch, choosing this color or that, it will not be a white shirt. Or if the whole shirt is white, but one thread runs through that is black, then it stands out. See then how each moment counts as we weave through each event of the day.
THROUGH a series of divine interchanges, I was to play a concert tonight in a war refugee camp near Mostar, Bosnia-Hercegovina. These are families that, because they were driven from their villages by ethnic cleansing, have had nothing to live in but little tin shacks with curtains for doors (more on that soon).
Sr. Josephine Walsh—an indominable Irish nun who has been helping the refugees—was my contact. I was to meet her at 3:30pm outside her residence. But she didn’t show up. I sat there on the sidewalk beside my guitar until 4:00. She was not coming.
The Roman Coliseum
I write you tonight from Bosnia-Hercegovina, formerly Yugoslavia. But I still carry with me thoughts from Rome…
I knelt down and prayed, asking for their intercession: the prayers of the martyrs who shed their blood in this very place centuries ago. The Roman Coliseum, Flavius Ampitheatre, soil of the seed of the Church.
It was another powerful moment, standing in this place where popes have prayed and little layman have aroused their courage. But as the tourists whisked by, cameras clicking and tour guides chattering, other thoughts came to mind…
Road to St. Pietro "St. Peters Basilica", Rome, Italy
I AM off to Rome. In just a few days, I will have the honor of singing in front of some of Pope John Paul II’s closest friends… if not Pope Benedict himself. And yet, I feel this pilgrimage has a deeper purpose, an expanded mission…
I have been pondering about all that has unfolded in writing here the past year… The Petals, The Trumpets of Warning, the invitation to those in mortal sin, the encouragement to overcome fear in these times, and lastly, the summons to "the rock" and refuge of Peter in the coming storm.
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Photo by Declan McCullagh
TRADITION is like a flower.
With each generation, it further unfolds; new petals of understanding appear, and the splendor of truth spills forth new fragrances of freedom.
The Pope is like a guardian, or rather gardener—and the bishops co-gardeners with him. They tend to this flower which sprung in the womb of Mary, stretched heavenward through the ministry of Christ, sprouted thorns upon the Cross, became a bud in the tomb, and opened in the Upper Room of Pentecost.
And it has been blossoming ever since.
SCANDALS, shortcomings, and sinfulness.
When many people look at Catholics and the priesthood in particular (especially through the biased lens of the secular media), the Church seems to them anything but Christian.
Rembrandt van Rinj, 1631, Apostle Peter Kneeling
MEMORIAL OF ST. BRUNO
ABOUT thirteen years ago, my wife and I, both cradle-Catholics, were invited to a Baptist church by a friend of ours who was once a Catholic.
We took in the Sunday morning service. When we arrived, we were immediately struck by all the young couples. It dawned on us suddenly how few young people there were back in our own Catholic parish.
Photo by Michael Buehler
MEMORIAL OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI
I HAVE many Protestant readers. One of them wrote me regarding the recent article My Sheep Will Know My Voice in the Storm, and asked:
Where does this leave me as a Protestant?
Jesus said He would build His Church on “rock”—that is, Peter—or in Christ’s Aramaic language: “Cephas”, which means “rock”. So, think of the Church then as a Mountain.
Foothills precede a mountain, and so I think of them as “Baptism”. One passes through the Foothills to reach the Mountain.