In his message for the 44th World Communications Day, Pope Benedict XVI challenges priests to proclaim the Gospel by utilizing blogs, images, videos and other digital communication technologies. The theme of the Pontiff’s message is “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word”.
The Pope recognizes that priests need to employ new communication technologies for a fruitful priestly ministry. Knowing that “new technologies create deeper forms of relationship across greater distances”, the pope asserts that priests “are called to respond pastorally by putting the media ever more effectively at the service of the Word.”
I actually made this video about four months ago. It is my hope and prayer that this short video will inspire viewers to become more committed and faithful to Christ. It is based on a writing by the late Pope John Paul II:
“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; he is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; he is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is he who provokes you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is he who urges you to shed off the mask of a false life; it is he who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be grounded down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
Pope Benedict XVI already has a Facebook and an iPhone app, a YouTube Channel and in a few month’s time… a music album. Soon the Pontiff will be in my Imeem playlist.
Alma Mater, the pope’s first album, is set to be released in late November this year. Eight tracks will feature the Pope praying and singing in five different languages. Both the Choir of the Philharmonic Academy of Rome and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra have collaborated with the Pope in recording the album under the Geffen label.
Some Vatican officials and members of influential religious orders are reported to have expressed support for the “One Laptop Per Child” (OLPC) project. The goal of the OLPC is to develop low-cost laptops so that children around the world are given new opportunities to explore, experiment and express themselves.
The OLPC laptop runs the Linux operating system and currently costs 200 US dollars a piece. The price of the unit is so low because poor children living in developing countries are its target users. The laptop is envisioned to serve as a “portable school” for these impoverished children. It will be something they can use at home to connect to the outside world via the internet, to learn new things and to share knowledge. It is hoped that the laptop will bridge the gap between the information rich and the information poor. Cardinal Paul Poupard, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Culture, is quoted as saying “If people are to rise out of poverty and enjoy greater justice, education is key”.
Happy birthday to you, dear Pope. I join the whole world in singing you a birthday song today. And I fervently pray that you may remain gentle as our shepherd, patient as our teacher, strong as our bridge, loving as our friend, caring as our brother, and humble as our father.
(The Vatican website has set aside a page wherein people can leave their birthday greetings for Pope Benedict XVI. If you want to send your greetings, please follow this link).
The Vatican website has made available valuable resources for the observance of Lent this year. You’ll find the messages of the Holy Father, a list of stational churches, a collection of sacred music in MP3 format, a calendar of celebrations, and a link to the live webcast made possible by the Vatican Television Center (CTV).
The messages of Pope Benedict XVI for this year’s Lenten cycle are arranged in chronological order. It starts with his general statement then followed by his missive for Ash Wednesday and subsequently by his messages for each Sunday of Lent until Palm Sunday. The Holy Father’s messages for the upcoming Sundays are not yet available, so one needs to come back for the latest updates.
The Lenten Stations page gives a complete list of all stational Churches for each day of the season. The Pontifical Academy Cultorum Maryrum will soon provide a guide and story for each stational church. However this list is helpful mostly for those who live in Italy and for those who will visit the country during this liturgical season.
The Lenten music posted on the site comes from two sources: a collection from the Pontifical Chorus of the Sistine Chapel and another collection from the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. All tracks are in MP3 format and they can be dowloaded to your harddisk or straight to your portable digital audio player. You can also play them online if you have the necessary browser plug-ins. I distinctly like Signore, mostrami il tuo volto (Lord, show me your face). The feel of the music reminded me of the many liturgical celebrations I have participated in at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
There is also an online calendar of celebrations over which Pope Benedict XVI will preside. It includes links to images already taken and those still to be taken during these celebrations. They are of excellent quality and are neatly arranged as a gallery of thumbnailed images, which are clickable to reveal bigger versions.
These dedicated Lent 2007 webpages on the Vatican website are of particular use to liturgists and liturgical presiders. The ordinary faithful who want to make their celebration of the cycle of Lent more meaningful and interesting can also benefit from them.
Last Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI said that prayer “is not something accessory, it is not ‘optional,’ but rather a question of life or death.” He added that “Only one who prays, that is, who entrusts himself to God with filial love, can enter into eternal life, which is God himself.” As simple as this message is, it is still something that people need to hear.
Prayer is an essential part of our growing relationship with the Father. We can say that one of the things that we can point to as evidence that our spiritual life is in trouble is the absence of regular prayer. We can find several reasons to pray, but I think one of the most important is to be able to discern God’s will as well as to have the grace to do God’s will. The Pope himself emphasized that “true prayer consists precisely in uniting our will to the Father’s.”
The pope’s message draws inspiration from the Transfiguration story as told in the Gospel of Luke. In the story, Jesus went up the mountain to pray together with three of his disciples. Jesus’ transfiguration took place while he was praying. The Father affirmed that He was pleased with His Son.
I agree with the Pope when he said that prayer entails responsibilities. A person cannot pray and neglect others. A person cannot pray and at the same time hurt others. To pray is to be a responsive and responsible Christian. To be a prayerful person is to be a loving, forgiving, and compassionate person.
Who are the non-believers? What is their culture? What are they saying to us? What can we say to them? What dialogue can we establish with them? What can we do to shake up their interest, stir up their questions, nourish their reflections, and hand on the faith to new generations, often victims of the religious indifference mobilised by the dominant culture? These are some of the poignant questions raised by the document entitled “Where is Your God? Responding to the Challenge of Unbelief and Religious Indifference Today.”
The document is a synthesis of a study initiated by the Pontifical Council for Culture, which in March 2004 convoked a gathering of cardinals, bishops, priests and intellectuals from all over the globe to “the study of the problem of unbelief and of religious indifference found in various forms in different cultural milieus, enquiring into the causes and the consequences for the Christian Faith.” Continue reading →
Yesterday, the Vatican published the first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI. Entitled “Deus Caritas Est,” the encyclical begins with a quotation from 1 John 4:16, “God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” The Latin “Deus caritas est” translates to “God is love” in English.
Some are already considering it not only as the Holy Father’s program for his pontificate but also as the Catholic Church’s program for the third millennium. If that is so, then the third millennium should be called “The Millennium of Love.” Continue reading →
Today is the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of journalists. And today the Vatican published the message of Pope Benedict XVI for the 40th World Day for Social Communications, which will be celebrated on 28 May 2006. As I have said in my previous post, the main objective of the yearly celebration is for the Church to make her own contribution to the orderly development of the world of social communications: a contribution of inspiration, encouragement, exhortation, guidance and cooperation.