My wife had a baby just before Christmas, so I’m wrapping bacon around jalapeños and dates and calling it a night! Wishing you and very person you cherish a blessed and wonderful New Year!
While in China this summer, we visited Dew Drops Little Flower several times. We met the founders of Little Flower and a lot of the people involved in its operation.
I experienced first-hand the loving care provided to abandoned children by this amazing organization. And, I got to meet and interact with some of the children and babies who live there.
Dew Drops Little Flower receives abandoned babies and children, most of whom have serious, disfiguring, debilitating, or life-threatening conditions, and provides them with a home, love, food, clothing, medicine and medical care. A lot of the children would die without the care they receive at Little Flower. They work to coordinate medical treatment for these children, and provide the funding for that treatment.
Dew Drops operates on a shoestring budget and relies upon monetary assistance from donors and gifts of things like diapers, medicine, supplies, baby formula and food, clothes, etc. Through generous donations and the prudent use of their resources, they save (and change) lives.
In the weeks leading up to our visit, the “word went out” that we could bring donations with us, and boxes of various things started to arrive at our house. One corner of our dining room was stacked with dozens of boxes up to the day before we left. We took all of those shipments and packed them into one huge suitcase for our flight to Beijing.
Today through September 3 there is a special fundraising campaign that will allow donations to be matched by Tencent Public. You can easily donate through Paypal by clicking here. You can set up a one-time or monthly donation. Please consider helping this worthy organization.
Recently, my oldest son and I returned from a pilgrimage and mission trip to the People’s Republic of China. I hope to share (in a series of posts in the coming weeks) some of what we saw and experienced.
The capital city of Taiyuan is approximately 514 km west of the city of Beijing, with a population of 4 million (source: Wikipedia), and seat to the Archdiocese of Taiyuan and Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception (source: UCANews).
Relative to other provinces in China, the treatment of the Catholic Church there is somewhat more relaxed. For example, there is very little distinction between that “above-ground” Patriotic Association Church and the otherwise “underground” Catholic Church in full communion with Rome.
One small clue that this is so can be found in the picture below, outside the Cathedral. A great many churches in China are obscured by a wall or have some barrier between them and the facing street. Here, however, the very short fence is used to stand posters about the teachings of Catholicism, and on the public sidewalk there were two tables, with stools and umbrellas, with an array of Catholic tracts for passers-by.
One of two official pilgrimage sites in the Archdiocese of Taiyuan is Our Lady of Grace Portiuncula Basilica on Bansishan (a mountain). (Source: UCANews). Approximately 100 km north of Taiyuan and 1760 meters above sea level, pilgrims access the Basilica by ascending a winding narrow dirt road that is punctuated by Stations of the Cross monuments carved in stone. (Source: UCANews).
According to local tradition, Mary appeared at Bansishan in 1783 and opened the eyes of a blind child. A Franciscan bishop built a church on the site, and another Franciscan bishop later rebuilt it. (Source: UCANews).
While many pilgrims, particularly the local Chinese Catholics, make their 10 km ascent to the Basilica on foot, we made our way aboard a small bus that gasped and choked from overheat when we arrived. I’m glad that I didn’t know that at least once before a coach loaded with pilgrims has overturned on the rugged road, but miraculously, passengers received only minor injuries. (Source: UCANews).
Atop the mountain sits the Basilica. Thousands of pilgrims make their way there on August 2 each year to receive the “Portiuncula Indulgence”. This year, for the Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, the doors of the Basilica have been designated as one of nine holy doors within the Archdiocese. When they were first opened on January 13, “more than 10,000 Catholics, coming on foot or in long lines of vehicles braved the freezing weather of minus 16 degrees Celsius at the pilgrimage site.” (Source: Sunday Examiner).
While the government of the Shanxi Province treats the Church more diffidently than elsewhere in China, it’s not as though Bansishan hasn’t been through its share of upheavals. In 1966, it was demolished by the Red Guards. It was rebuilt beginning in 1988. (Source: sacredarchitecture.org). As recently as 2008, the local government has interfered with pilgrims making their way to the shrine. On May 24 of that year, “thousands of police” blocked the access road to stop the pilgrims from reaching the Basilica, who were forced to return home. “According to eyewitnesses, the police forces greatly outnumbered the pilgrims.” (Source: asianews).
Further up the mountain, which we hiked, is a rosary garden currently under construction, as well as a golden statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on the crest. While atop the mountain, at the foot of the Sacred Heart statue, our pilgrimage group prayed the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before we wended our way back down the mountain for our return to Taiyuan.
It’s been a busy few weeks/months. Lots and lots of work. And then a whole array of new church activities. I pray for you, the readers of this blog, and I hope that you have all received many blessings, joys and consolations from Our Lord. Anyway, I’ve got enough time to provide some of the links I’ve been meaning to share here:
- Archaeological Discovery Sheds New Light on Mary Magdalene (ChristianPost.com)
- Regensburg Revisited: Ten Years Later, A West Still in Denial (CatholicWorldReport.com)
- Watch the Teaser for CBS All Access New Star Trek Series (HollywoodReporter.com)
- The Vatican’s Gallery of Maps Comes Back to Life (WSJ.com)
- Planned Parenthood Works with Chinese Population Control Officials Promoting Forced Abortions (LifeNews.com)
- The Garden of Earthly Delights by Jheronimus Bosch (a REALLY COOL interactive look at this fascinating painting)
- I fly 747s for a living. Here are the amazing things I see every day. (Vox.com)
- Saveur Recipe: Southern Banana Pudding (this is one of Mrs. Q’s favorites)
Much more to follow in coming weeks and months, as soon as time permits! Hopefully your Easter Season was fruitful, and may you receive many graces from the upcoming Feast of the Most Holy Trinity!
An amazing video of the moment a human sperm meets a human egg. In a brilliant flash of light, suddenly a distinct member of the human race exists, who did not exist milliseconds before…..
Rome (Vatican City) – For nearly 155 years, the “semi-official” daily newspaper of the Vatican city-state, “L’Osservatore Romano”, has printed papal discourses, statements, and news of appointments and audiences in its pages. Over the years, in addition to daily issues printed in Italian, the paper has added weeklies in such languages as English, French, German and Portuguese.
All of that adds up to a lot of paper, and particularly since the release of Pope Francis’ latest encyclical, Laudato Si’, questions have swirled within the editorial offices of the newspaper concerning whether it can continue to print without regard for its “eco-footprint”.
Shortly after the Holy Father issued his encyclical, current L’Osservatore editor-in-chief Giovanni Maria Vian began to fret. “Suddenly we have a Pope who cares about the environment, and a news outlet that looks entirely like an anachronism, with its newsprint and Latin motto. Then (on 27 June 2015) we get the motu proprio establishing a new Secretariat for Communications that will eventually absorb L’Osservatore Romano. The optics of this situation matter a great deal.”
According to Vian, the Pope appointed as new Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications none other than Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, “who hates paper.” Ever since his appointment in 2013 to be Director of the Vatican Television Center, “…it’s been nothing but ‘digital’ this and ‘new media’ that. History and tradition means nothing to the likes of him.”
So functionaries at L’Osservatore wasted no time in infiltrating Casa Santa Martae and embedding themselves “as cafeteria workers” who could discretely pass Pope Francis their idea, unhindered by papal handlers. The plan: recycling bins in St. Peter’s Square, circling the two granite fountains.
According to Vian, it was “This [the bins], or getting rid of the German weekly,” which he admitted no one actually reads but continues to enjoy a “cult following” due to its use for lining the cages of the birds of “high-ranking” clerics.
“Our big break happened one day in January of this year when the Holy Father accidentally dropped the panna cotta on his lunch tray as he was leaving the cafeteria line to join a group of youth from Brazil for lunch at a nearby table. One of our operatives quickly grabbed a new dessert from the line and brought it to Pope Francis, along with a copy of our proposal and a sketch that demonstrates the new bins,” said Vian.
Days later, recounts Vian, “the second assistant to Pope Francis called the offices of L’Osservatore to tell us that the Holy Father had seen the proposal and wanted the recycling bins placed at once, and preferably before the ‘Easter rush’.”
And, soon “we’ll have secured permission for placement of the bins at other major locations, including around the baldacchino inside the basilica, and within the Sistine Chapel.”
Thanks to another Vatican innovation, the future of L’Osservatore is again secure, “for weeks or months, at least.”
He is Risen, indeed!
The ancient greyness shifted
Suddenly and thinned
Like mist upon the moors
Before a wind.
An old, old prophet lifted
A shining face and said:
“He will be coming soon.
The Son of God is dead;
He died this afternoon.”
A murmurous excitement stirred all souls.
they wondered if they dreamed-
Save one old man who seemed
Not even to have heard.
And Moses standing,
Hushed them all to ask
If any had a welcome song prepared.
If not, would David take the task?
And if they cared
Could not the three young children sing
The Benedicite, the canticle of praise
They made when God kept them from perishing
In the fiery blaze?
A breath of spring surprised them,
Stilling Moses’ words.
No one could speak, remembering
The first fresh flowers,
The little singing birds.
Still others thought of fields new ploughed
Or apple trees
Or some, the way a dried bed fills
Laughing down green hills.
The fisherfolk dreamed of the foam
On bright blue seas.
The one old man who had not stirred
And there He was
Splendid as the morning sun and fair
As only God is fair.
And they, confused with joy,
Knelt to adore
Seeing that He wore
Five crimson stars
He never had before.
No canticle at all was sung.
None toned a psalm, or raising a greeting song,
A silent man alone
Of all that throng
Not any other.
Close to His heart
When embrace was done,
Old Joseph said,
“How is your Mother,
How is your Mother, Son?”
-Sister Mary Ada
The Reign Of Mary -Vol. XXV, No 76
Tomorrow (Holy Thursday) begins the Triduum. My kids keep asking whether Holy Thursday and Good Friday are Solemnities; they are not. Officially, Holy Thursday is Feria Quinta in Coena Domini and Good Friday is Feria Sexta in Passione Domini, i.e., “ordinary” days in Holy Week for which there is no obligation to attend Mass (were there such an obligation, it would be particularly difficult to fulfill on Good Friday).
Nevertheless, one misses a great deal if one waits until Easter Sunday to plumb the depths of the paschal mysteries. The liturgical celebrations found in the Triduum will not repeat themselves until next year. Early bird and all that. Wink, wink, nudge, nudge.
That said, here’s a little something fun (albeit irreverent; I apologize; my sense of humor remains soundly adolescent) for “the night before the night before”:
True story: Long ago, a very-young-and-not-yet-Catholic Quartermaster played the role of the “Pope” in this sketch for a (public) high school variety show. There were three performances in total. This stirred up a fair amount of controversy, since at the high school I attended, a significant percentage of students, staff and parents were….. Mormon!
Here’s a little fun on this last Friday of Lent as we await the start of the Vigil of St. Joseph.
On my most recent Retreat, I took a few different books with me, but the one that surprised me most was Professor Warren Carroll’s Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Conquest of Darkness.1
I had little idea that a book about a 500-year-old Mexican apparition would provide such a wealth of insight for my travels in Turkey and Italy. I can’t even explain what caused me to bring it along, other than it was among the stack of books I’m perennially working to reduce.
Friend, if you don’t know very much about Our Lady of Guadalupe, or why the apparition is relevant to us today, then you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of this book and read it. At a mere 115 pages, it is approachable for anyone, and you will find it enriching and also spiritually beneficial.
Our Lady of Guadalupe is important. Don’t take my word for it. Someone in the Vatican thinks so too. Imagine my surprise when, somewhere inside St. Peter’s Basilica, I stumbled upon this:
Perhaps you can identify where this is inside the Basilica, and if you can, and if you read Carroll’s book (or know about Our Lady of Guadalupe), then you can begin to infer the meaning behind why it’s there. The placement, relative to things outside the picture and also in orientation to the other objects in the picture, is very unusual.
1 Professor Carroll was the founder of Christendom College. I recently posted a review of his book on Our Lady of Fatima and the events 0f 1917, here. I’m currently in the midst of his book on the French Revolution entitled The Guillotine and the Cross. Carroll may well be my favorite history writer of all time.