Historic St. Anthony Catholic Church
258 Ohio, Wichita, Ks
2nd St. & Ohio
Two blocks east of Old Town
Sunday Mass at 1:oo
English/Latin missals provided. Join us for coffee and donuts after mass downstairs in the St. Clair/Sunshine room, south exterior basement entrance.
Pastor of St. Anthony Parish: Fr. Ben Nguyen
EFLR Celebrants: Fr. John Jirak, Fr Nicholas Voelker
Master of Ceremonies: Tony Strunk
Choir Director: Bernie Dette

Continuing News

+To submit an article or if you have comments contact me, Mark, at bumpy187@gmail.com.

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Did You Know

Mass Propers, the readings that change everyday, can be found in the red missalettes at the entrance of church?

Fr. Nicholas Voelker celebrates Low Mass Saturdays at 8:00 a.m., St. Mary's Catholic Church, 106 East 8th street, Newton. There is no mass this Saturday, January 30, 2016.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Post #79

Topics: BREAKING NEWS: Two ParishionerElevated to Saint Level...The Church’s Yearly Novena of Grace: Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer...St. Anthony Church: Architecture....The 13th Day: Fatima Film....Roman Catholic Vocations: Broker Becomes Priest....


Two St. Anthony ParishionerElevated to Saint Level
By Mark Llamas

Ha ha, made you look. Actually its Bob Wells and I up on St. Anthony's platform... we are on the statue's level literally speaking, but in all honesty the Vatican had little to say on the subject let alone starting the beatification process. 

Bob Wells, long time parishioner and Sacristan, and Luke Headley (Master of Ceremonies)  were talking after mass and were discussing switching out the risen Christ statue with the usual St. Anthony statue. I volunteered to help with the switch out and showed up at 5:00 Wednesday to find Bob bravely (or foolishly) already up on the platform. Oh my gosh!!!

Now Mr. Bob Wells has been at St. Anthony all his life and he is the one I would go to for day to day answers about the church. It is he who showed me how to change the light bulbs  in the attic above the altar (see Post #40, Human Fragility and Light Bulbs in St. Anthony's Attic) , he knows where everything is kept, who knows what, what goes where, etc....but to see this venerable but older man standing on the high statue platform was unsettling. Allow me to describe why.

From the back the altar is built in what appears to be a hodge podge manner. I have been told that the wood support system on the back side is built of the shipping crates that the altar came in. In the very narrow walkway behind the altar one can see two ladders attached...to say that these are ladders is a bit of a stretch. They are, in reality, cross boards nailed to "studs" that traverse the back of the altar. 

These rungs are old dark wood, perhaps a half inch thick and 10 to 12 inches wide...built for men of lesser weight then a lot of present day men ('course I could lose a few pounds). Climbing up one of these ladders is a bit scary but coming to the top is even scarier. In the first place the top of the altar is higher than one imagines, though I doubt one would die from falling but one would break a leg, an arm or even your neck. Let me assure you that the statue platform is alot higher than it might appear from ground level!

Coming to the top of the of the ladder I am confronted with a conspicuous lack of hand holds. The ginger bread ornamentation is fragile, the support poles holding St. Anthony's canopy don't appear strong so I have to kind of support myself on my stomach as I inch my way over the top.

Once on the hexagonal platform the first thing you notice is the lack of free foot space on the platform for it is crisscrossed with conduit and there are no supports to grab onto should one become disoriented. To the rear and sides is a straight free fall to the floor, perhaps 18 feet down.  The front 3 sides of the hexagon are visible to the congregation. On this hexagon is a higher platform on which the statues sit. 

You may or may not know but there are really two statue platforms up there, a front and a back area, the back attaches to the back wall and back side of the hexagon. This back platform is where St. Anthony is shifted  for Easter. He will reside here, behind a curtain with the risen Christ statue placed in front. With the curtain in place an optical allusion is created and St. Anthony has gone away (visiting relatives?) and in his place is Christ risen. 

As I gain my footing (crouched like the green plastic army men of my childhood ) I also gain some measure of confidence (though measured by a short ruler). The curtains need to come down first so Bob, being much taller than I, stands on the statue's platform to remove the curtains and the rods. His only hand hold is leaning against the canopy dome above him and since he had mentioned that he lost his equilibrium earlier, I grab him by the belt to steady him in case he loses his footing. Bob is fearless as he works and we manage to lower the curtains and rods down. 

Now the heavy work is at hand. Letting go of any sense of hand hold , our job is to pick Jesus up, lift him above the decorative woodwork of the altar front and hand him down to Luke, who is standing on the altar mensa below. This is done with knees bent and imaginary cat claws imbedded into the platform floor. Bob tells me that in younger days he would carry the statue up and down  the ladder. Phew! 

While St. Anthony is really quite heavy, the Christ statue is hollow and easily lifted. His right arm and staff come off for easy transport and you can see this in the picture above as the statue stands on the altar before being put away. In the "off season" the Christ statue hangs out in a sacristy closet with the surplices and cassocks of the servers. 

FYI: While we are up top Bob shows me that the back of the domes are unadorned. The front may contain scroll work and scalloping but the back sides, being out of view, are plain. Also one cannot imagine the amount of dust up there, though from below everything has a freshly painted appearance.

Next we shuffle to the back of the hexagon, remember there are two of us on a very small foot space, to shift St. Anthony back into place.  I mistakenly call the statue St. Francis and am promptly smacked  in the head by the book the statue holds (I bump into it). "You made St. Tony mad" quipped Bob.

Once our job is done and our picture is taken by Luke down below, Bob inches his tall, lanky frame down the "ladder of possible broken legs". Going down is always worse than climbing up, so I hug the ladder and hang on for dear life, not being sure the rungs will support both legs at once. Once down I say a quick prayer of thanks.

And thats how the Christ statue ascends and descends, where St. Anthony goes on vacation and how two mortal men from St. Anthony were temporarily on a saints level.


The Church’s Yearly Novena of Grace

Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,

Submitted by James Spencer

I really like Fr. Euteneuer.  He always tempers political concerns and our responsibilities to act with reminders that we are so very powerless and need to pray in order for anything to change. 

J. Spencer.


Have you ever wondered when the first Novena was prayed?  Look no farther than chapters 1 and 2 of the Acts of the Apostles to see that the disciples were gathered together in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost with Mary waiting and praying for the coming of the Holy Spirit, the promised Gift of the Lord. They had been there since Ascension Thursday praying the Church’s very first novena! The Church repeats that original novena every year in preparation for the coming of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier.

Let us make the nine days between Ascension Thursday and Pentecost Sunday an extremely fruitful time of prayer. There are three ways to bring fruitfulness out of this novena:

First, make time to pray in silence every day. This seems so simple, but busy people will know that it easier to say than to do. Jesus advised, “Go to your room, close the door and pray to your Father in secret.” Indeed, that is what we need to do. Find the Upper Room of your life, whether it be your own private space, a Blessed Sacrament chapel at the local parish or just the focused “sanctuary of the heart” in a quiet moment and place; and spend some significant down time in silence so that you develop spiritual ears to hear the Voice that only speaks in silence. A minimum of 15 minutes each day in silence will train busy people to have more discerning hearts. That practice of a quarter of an hour in silence will undoubtedly lead the heart to want to spend more time with the Beloved every day.

Second, pray specifically for what you need. This means that you must identify the concrete needs of your life and present them to God as St. Paul says in Ephesians, “in every form of prayer and petition.” God loves to answer prayers, but His answers can only be recognized by those who know exactly what they want! No need is too big. God will temper our prayer if it does not fully correspond to His Will. No need is too small either. God will also lift our spirits by answering our needs either by giving us just enough for the task at hand or showing us that what we ask for is less than what He really wants to give us. Either way, ask specifically and petition as many prayers as you and your loved ones need to a God who has an infinite storehouse of goodness ready to bestow on those who ask with childlike trust.

Finally, pray for the seven-fold Gift of the Holy Spirit. Even if you don’t know what to pray for, the Eternal Spirit does. All good things in heaven and earth are contained in that One Gift. Pray to receive the One who satisfies all our needs in a new and special way this Pentecost. He gives gifts that cannot be exhausted: Wisdom, Understanding, Knowledge, Counsel, Piety, Fear of the Lord and Fortitude. Jesus also said, “Will not the Father give the Holy Spirit to anyone who asks him?” (Lk 11:11-13) Indeed He will!


Rev. Thomas J. Euteneuer,

President, Human Life International


St. Anthony's Architecture

Submitted by Bob Waltersheid

St. Anthony’s attains architectural significance through its being a well executed and preserved ecclesiastical product from the turn of the Century that speaks highly of Roman Catholic aspirations and ideals in Wichita at the time.

Stylistically, St. Anthony’s is a late Victorian Era design that makes sound use of the round, or Roman arch.

Such feature is of substantial historical importance, for it carries on the significant German Heritage of this Parish:  this house of worship’s architectural spirit is that of the German Romanesque - a fusion of essential Gothicism with Romanesque forms that were somewhat peculiar to Northern Europe.

Construction of the exterior brick walls is expertly carried out and serves as a model for the brick mason’s art. Also notable is the eclectic wooden steeple/tower centered on the front with its Moorish design implications:  perhaps this feature is meant to represent the faith’s universality.

It is realistically assumed that the Franciscan Order, when hiring Louis Piket, the Church architect, chose a designer who; had familiarity with the history of European Church  architecture - especially with the Romanesque mode as interpreted in Germany. Thus, continuity of regional and ethnical/national heritage was felt appropriate for the Parish of St. Anthon Church by is designer.


The 13th Day

A Film About The Miracle of Fatima


Based on a well known and celebrated Catholic event, The 13th Day has the potential to reach a mass target market of the main Catholic territories worldwide (2.1 billion people) and by nature of the ‘message of Fatima’ has potential relevance to people of all faiths and none.


Broker Leaves Lucrative Career to Become Priest

Courtesy Roman Catholic Vocations
From the National Post
By Katherine Laidlaw

In Thomas Lim's last job, he earned a six-figure salary, lived in an expansive home and managed the bustling operations of Sun Life Financial, a brokerage firm. He was a high roller on an upward career trajectory.

On Saturday, he starts a new job: one without material luxuries and the fast-paced intensity of the stock market. He is becoming a Catholic priest.

Eight years ago, Mr. Lim was assistant vice-president of Sun Life. He had it all: money, power, relationships, upward mobility. And yet, he says he was intensely unhappy.

Now 40 years old and after six years of study, he is being ordained at St. Michael's Cathedral.

The Catholic Church doesn't require priests to give away their savings when they enter the seminary, but he has left his financial investments in the hands of his brother, who is also a banker. He doesn't miss working in the business world. "There were moments in the past where you'd be obsessed with every tick up, every tick down," Mr. Lim said. "I don't feel like I'm shackled any more."

Between about five and 10 men have been ordained each year for the past five years in the Greater Toronto Area, according to the Archdiocese of Toronto. Seven are being ordained this Saturday.

Many come from diverse backgrounds, such as Mr. Lim, seeking spirituality they cannot find in the pressures of everyday life.

Frank Portelli, a 33-year-old once far more interested in clubbing, left his job working with the federal government's bankruptcy regulator to become a priest.

"During my undergrad [at the University of Toronto], it was more about drinks, smoking, dancing, girls, not studying," he said. He reluctantly applied to the seminary after being encouraged by a priest he knew.

Likewise, Eric Rodrigues was completing a master's in biostatistics at McGill University in Montreal when he realized his dreams of being a doctor were eclipsed by a call from God. "Deep down I know that it was a desire to serve people and help people who are suffering."

In Mr. Lim's case, he ignored his first push toward the priesthood, which came a long time ago when he was attending De La Salle College, a prestigious private school run by the Roman Catholic Lasallian brothers.

The nudge came from Brother Benedict, a short, bespectacled man who patrolled the locker hallway. "I had the fourth or fifth locker from the chapel," said Mr. Lim, whose older brother, also a student at De La Salle, was thinking of entering the monastery. Brother Benedict came down the hallway to ask Mr. Lim if he would be following suit. "I kind of laughed and said, 'Are you crazy? I want to make money,' " said Mr. Lim. "I think he thought he could get two for the price of one."

Instead, attending De La Salle left Mr. Lim with a burning desire to be wealthy. He grew up in the Regent Park housing complex, one of Toronto's most destitute, crime-ridden neighbourhoods, where he lived with his mother, father and seven brothers and sisters in a small, four-bedroom home.

He attended the private school on a scholarship. "People did look at you a little strangely. You know, you're coming home in your blue blazer and tie to Regent Park," Mr. Lim said.

"After being in that environment, with those kids who had so much, I came up with a plan. That plan was to make as much money as possible."

After high school, he went on to the University of Toronto's business school. After graduating with a bachelor of commerce, Mr. Lim took a job at Toronto-Dominion Bank, where he was made manager of the mutual funds division before moving to Canada Trust and then to Sun Life. His parents were devout Catholics. But Mr. Lim turned his back on his faith and refused to practise for 12 years. "I found out later, [my mother] prayed for my return each day," he says, voice cracking.

Eight years ago, Mr. Lim had broken up with his last girlfriend, a Catholic who attended church regularly and had encouraged him to attend as well. One Saturday, he wandered into St. Justin, Martyr, a parish in Unionville. Standing at the back of the church, Mr. Lim says he was "overpowered" by the pastor's homily. He listened while the priest spoke about encouraging those who felt lost to return to the church.

Soon after, Mr. Lim was ringing Rev. Michael Busch's doorbell, asking to speak to him about his sermon. Instead, Rev. Busch says, they talked about their lives.

"He was what we call a 'walk-in off the street'," Rev. Busch said. "I always say to him, my first impression of him was anger, bitterness, dissatisfaction."

The description is a stark contrast to the soft-spoken man he knows now, he says. "He's a lot calmer. The man that was before, sometimes those are the qualities that come out when we're searching or when we're frustrated."

Like Mr. Lim, Rev. Busch left behind a lucrative career in advertising to become a priest. "It was the same kind of thing: young, had it all, going in a certain direction but not happy," Rev. Busch said.

"It's something that's very prevalent among young people today. They're really searching for that kind of spirituality."

Seeing in Mr. Lim many qualities he remembered in himself, Rev. Busch told Mr. Lim he should consider joining the priesthood.

"I more or less threw it at him," he said. "I knew it was a bit of a shock for him. I could see he was reaching a point where his questions were leading in a very specific direction."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Post #78

Topics: Rogation Days: By Larry Bethel...St. Anthony of Padua: On Our Main Altar...The Millennium of Music: Streaming Audio Broadcasts....Blessed Imelda: Patroness of First Communicants....Benedict XVI Homily: Homily at Mass in Josaphat Valley....Saint John Chrysostom: Trembling Before the Sovereign Master of Heaven and Earth...."Cathedral of the Plains": Victoria, Kansas....Holy Cross Shrine: Pfeifer, Kansas....Catholic Bamberg: Vierzehnheiligen....St. Peter Students Learn: There Are Other Rites in the Catholic Church?....St. Boniface: Vatican Information Service....Thomas A'Kempis: For the Greater Glory of God and the Honor of The Blessed Virgin Mary....Our Lady of Fatima: From Salve Regina Blog


Rogation Days

By Larry Bethel

The Lesser Rogation Days are in the Extraordinary Form calendar next Mon-Wed, the three days proceeding Ascension Thursday. They date from the 5th Century, and consist of 3 days of fasting and penance. Also, during these 3 days there are processions going from Church to Church while chanting the Litany of the Saints and a variety of Psalms. The Greater Rogation Day is April 25th.
From the fisheaters web site;

"Rogation" comes from the Latin "rogare," which means "to ask," and "Rogation Days" are days during which we seek to ask God's mercy, appease His anger, avert His chastisements manifest through natural disasters, and ask for His blessings, particularly with regard to farming, gardening, and other agricultural pursuits. They are set aside to remind us how radically dependent we are on Mother Earth, and how prayer can help protect us from nature's often cruel ways.

Here are a couple of paragraphs regarding Rogation Days from The Liturgical Year by Dom Gueranger;
"The object of the Rogation Days is to appease the anger of God, and avert the chastisements which the sins of the world so justly deserve; morever, to draw down the divine blessing on the fruits of the earth. The litany of the saints is sung during the procession, which is followed by a special Mass said in the stational church...
The litany of the saints is one of the most efficacious of prayers. The Church makes use of it on all solemn occasions, as a means of rendering God propitious through the intercession of the whole court of heaven. They who are prevented from assisting at the procession, should recite the litany in union with holy Church; they will be joining the supplications now being made throughout the entire world; they will be proving themselves to be Catholics...
...The Church uses the lenten colour, to express the expiatory character she is celebrating; but she is evidently full of confidence; she trusts to the love of her risen Jesus, and that gives her hope of her prayers being granted."

With Wichita every year having 100 year rains, with terrible drought and fires in California and other western states and the frightening withering of Christendom all over the world we need these Rogation Days! It doesn't look as if the episcopacy is planning on their return any time soon. So, barefoot processions are out. But, perhaps we can "prove ourselves to be Catholics" by praying the Litany of Saints in our homes for those 3 days and asking the Lord for His Mercy for our families, state and country.

The Litany can be found here: Litany of the Saints.


St. Anthony of Padua

Saint Anthony of Padua is the center statue on our main Altar - the Franciscan friar with the Christ Child in his arms. Saint Anthony’s devotion to the Baby Jesus was so strong that the Child appeared to him and allowed Anthony to hold Him.

Saint Anthony was born in Lisbon, Portugal in 1195. At the age of 15, he entered a monastery and later went to Coimbra, the study house of the Augustinian monks where he became an expert in Scripture. However, when Saint Anthony heard of the first Franciscan martyrs in Morocco, he joined the Franciscans. His desire was to work as a missionary in Morocco, but the Lord had other plans for him, and Anthony’s poor health forced him to abandon this plan.

The ship, on which he was a passenger, was driven off course and landed in Sicily. He remained in Italy and became affiliated with the Franciscan province of Romagna. He was given the gift of preaching, and used his talents to battle the heretics in Northern Italy and Southern France.

In 1233, Francis of Assisi appointed Anthony the first professor of theology for the Friars. (This was a big step for Francis who had a distrust of the over intellectualization of religion.) Anthony is credited with introducing the theology of Saint Augustine into the Franciscan Order. He died at the young age of 36 near Padua, Italy.

In popular devotion, Saint Anthony is venerated as the apostle of charity, the finder of lost objects, patron of lovers and marriage, of women in confinement, and of miners.


The Millennium of Music
Streaming Audio Broadcasts
Submitted by Stephanie Mann

In a recent post, you linked up some chant podcasts. I just discovered this site with streaming audio of broadcasts of a radio show not carried by any station in the Wichita area, The Millennium of Music: http://www.millenniumofmusic.com/

Even while posting this, I'm enjoying a recording of An English Lady Mass from the 15th century by Thomas Packe.


Blessed Imelda
Patroness of First Communicants
Courtesy Salve Regina at http://paramedicgoldengirl.blogspot.com/

The Patroness of First Communicants is Blessed Imelda Lambertini (1322-1333). She literally died of love for God after receiving Holy Communion for the first time at the age of eleven.
Blessed Imelda was born into a wealthy family in Bologna; she was a very pious child who begged her parents to allow her to become a Dominican when she was just nine years old. Her parents, though saddened at having to be separated from their only child, recognized God's will for their daughter, and Imelda joned the nuns at Val di Pietra. Her status among the nuns is unclear, but she received the habit and participated in the life of the nuns to some extent.

At that time, children were not allowed to make their first Holy Communion until they were fourteen years of age, but Imelda prayed continually that she would be able to receive Our Lord without having to wait so long. When she was eleven, after Mass on the Vigil of the Ascension, the Sacred Host was seen suspended amidst a brilliant light above Imelda's head. The chaplain, who was immediately summoned, gave the Host to Imelda. The nuns retreated to allow Imelda to make her thanksgiving. The prioress soon discovered, however, that Imelda, who had been in ecstacy, had died shortly after receiving her First Holy Communion, so much was she in love with Our Lord in the Eucharist.
Blessed Imelda was declared Patroness of First Communicants by Pope St. Pius X. Her historical feast day is May 12.


Benedict XVI Homily

Homily at Mass in Josaphat Valley May 12, 2009


As the Successor of Saint Peter, I have retraced his steps in order to proclaim the Risen Christ in your midst, to confirm you in the faith of your fathers, and to invoke upon you the consolation which is the gift of the Paraclete.

Precisely because of your deep roots in this land, your ancient and strong Christian culture, and your unwavering trust in God’s promises, you, the Christians of the Holy Land, are called to serve not only as a beacon of faith to the universal Church, but also as a leaven of harmony, wisdom and equilibrium in the life of a society which has traditionally been, and continues to be, pluralistic, multiethnic and multireligious.

Here in the Holy Land, with the eyes of faith, you, together with the pilgrims from throughout the world who throng its churches and shrines, are blessed to “see” the places hallowed by Christ’s presence, his earthly ministry, his passion, death and resurrection, and the gift of his Holy Spirit. Here, like the Apostle Saint Thomas, you are granted the opportunity to “touch” the historical realities which underlie our confession of faith in the Son of God. My prayer for you today is that you continue, day by day, to “see and believe” in the signs of God’s providence and unfailing mercy, to “hear” with renewed faith and hope the consoling words of the apostolic preaching, and to “touch” the sources of grace in the sacraments, and to incarnate for others their pledge of new beginnings, the freedom born of forgiveness, the interior light and peace which can bring healing and hope to even the darkest of human realities.

In the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, pilgrims in every century have venerated the stone which tradition tells us stood before the entrance to the tomb on the morning of Christ’s resurrection. Let us return frequently to that empty tomb. There let us reaffirm our faith in the victory of life, and pray that every “heavy stone” that stands before the door of our hearts, blocking our complete surrender to the Lord in faith, hope and love, may be shattered by the power of the light and life which shone forth from Jerusalem to all the world that first Easter morn.

Christ is risen, alleluia! He is truly risen, alleluia!

Benedict XVI
Homily at Mass in Josaphat Valley May 12, 2009


Saint John Chrysostom

“When you are before the altar where Christ reposes, you ought no longer to think that you are amongst men; but believe that there are troops of angels and archangels standing by you, and trembling with respect before the sovereign Master of Heaven and earth. Therefore, when you are in church, be there in silence, fear, and veneration.”
- Saint John Chrysostom


"Cathedral of the Plains"
Saint Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria, Kansas

The "Cathedral of the Plains" is Saint Fidelis Catholic Church in Victoria, Kansas. It has seating for 1,100 people, which, at the time of it's dedication, made it the largest church west of the Mississippi River. The church is 220 feet long, 110 feet wide at the transepts and 75 feet at the nave. Its ceiling is 44 feet above the ground and the towers are 141 feet tall.

Three previous churches served the community of predominately German immigrants, but the present church was begun in 1908 and completed in 1911. The exterior is constructed of large native limestone blocks weighing from 50 to 100 pounds each.

The Romanesque design church contains German windows & works of art, Austrian hand carved stations of the cross, and Italian marble altar. The church is open to the public (free) from dawn to dusk. Stop by early on a Friday evening and you may be treated to the sounds of the Saint Fidelis organist rehearsing. Groups or individuals may arrange a guided tour by contacting Francis Schippers at (785) 735-2230.

Sunday Masses are celebrated in St. Fidelis Church at 5PM on Saturday and 10:30AM on Sundays Daily Mass is celebrated at 7PM on Wednesday and 6:45AM on the other weekdays.

St. Fidelis Catholic Church is not the seat for a bishop, so it is not a Cathedral. It received its nickname from William Jennings Bryan when he visited St. Fidelis in 1912.


Holy Cross Shrine
Pfeifer, Kansas

Holy Cross Shrine in Pfeifer, Kansas is a magnificent 1918 church building which towers 165 feet above the handful of homes remaining in the town surrounding it. Although the Catholic parish served by Holy Cross Church was dissolved in 1993, the building itself remains open to the public on a daily basis. The few remaining parishioners formed Holy Cross Charities, a non-profit corporation that depends solely upon donations to maintain the church and nearby cemetery. Contributions may be sent to P. 0. Box 5, Pfeifer, KS 67660.

Holy Cross Church features a vaulted rib ceiling supported by decorative columns and pointed arches for the windows and doorways. The structure is 50 feet wide at the nave, and 75 feet wide at the transepts. At 165 feet high, the main tower is believed to be the tallest Gothic church spire in Kansas. The two side spires are each 100 feet high. Construction of the post rock limestone church began in 1915 and it was dedicated on May 3, 1918.

The building is in good condition. During my January, 2009 visit there was scaffolding in the sanctuary for painting that was about to be done, but it did not take away from the beauty of the structure. I was particularly taken with a smaller stain glass window which showed the church, wheat, and a sunflower.

The nearby Holy Cross Cemetery has many interesting ornate Volga German iron crosses and is worth a special visit.

The population of Pfeifer, Kansas is 13.


Catholic Bamberg: Vierzehnheiligen
Courtesy The New Liturgical Movement


St. Peter Students Learn About Other Rites of the Church

By Christopher M. Riggs
The Catholic Advance

About 90 students from St. Peter Catholic School, Schulte, participated in a liturgy of the Eastern Rite of the Ukrainian Catholic Church Tuesday, May 5, in St. John Chapel at Newman University, Wichita.
Father Joseph Tatro, chaplain at Newman, has faculties, or permission, to celebrate Eastern Rite liturgies as well as the Latin Rite Mass, the more familiar liturgy celebrated in the Diocese of Wichita. His faculties for the Eastern Rites are from the St. Nicholas Ukrainian Eparchy in Chicago.

Father Joseph Tatro, chaplain at Newman University, Wichita, talks to about 90 middle school students from St. Peter Parish, Schulte, before celebrating an Easter Rite Divine Liturgy. The students attended the liturgy as part of their religious education.

“It was special for the kids. It was educational,” Father Tatro said. “Sister Mary Clare Johnson has been teaching about the universal church but to get an understanding beyond the parish, they talked about the Eastern Rite churches.”Sister Mary Clare is a member of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary of Wichita.The children learned that there is only one, universal Catholic Church, but it is made up of the Latin Church – by far the largest – and 21 Eastern churches. The 21 Eastern churches use one of eight rites. Rites are liturgical and disciplinary traditions used in celebrating the sacraments.

There is more than one way to fulfill what Jesus said when he asked the apostles in Luke 22:19 to “Do this in remembrance of me.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 814, explains that the difference in the way the Mass is celebrated does not deter from the oneness of the church: “From the beginning, this one Church has been marked by a great diversity which comes from both the variety of God’s gifts and the diversity of those who receive them…,” the catechism says. “Holding a rightful place in the communion of the Church there are also particular Churches that retain their own traditions. The great richness of such diversity is not opposed to the Church’s unity.”


Submitted by James Spencer

Here is information about the Pope's general audience, held on March 11, 2009, in which he talked about St. Boniface. This was the original Saint that St. Anthony Catholic Church was named after.
VATICAN CITY, 11 MAR 2009 (VIS) - In today's general audience, held in St. Peter's Square, the Pope focused his remarks on St. Boniface, "apostle of the Germans".
This saint, Benedict XVI explained, was born in Great Britain around the year 675 "and baptised with the name of Winfred. Attracted by the monastic ideal, he entered a monastery while still very young. ... Having been ordained a priest at the age of around thirty, he felt called to pursue the apostolate among the pagans of continental Europe".
"In the year 716 Winfred and several companions travelled to Frisia (modern-day Holland) but he encountered opposition from a local chieftain and the attempted evangelisation failed. ... Two years later he went to Rome to meet Pope Gregory II who, ... having given him the new name of Boniface, granted him official letters entrusting him with the mission of preaching the Gospel among the people of Germany".
Boniface "achieved great results" and the Pontiff consecrated him as a bishop. "Showing great prudence" the saint "restored ecclesiastical discipline, called a number of synods to ensure the authority of sacred canons, and strengthened communion with the Roman Pontiff".
The Holy Father also recalled how Boniface "backed the foundation of various monasteries, for both men and women, to act as beacons irradiating human and Christian faith and culture in the region".
Shortly before his eightieth birthday, Boniface "readied himself for a new evangelising mission, ... returning to Frisia where his work had begun". There, "as he was celebrating Mass in Dokkum on 5 June 754, he was attacked by a band of pagans" and killed.
"What message", Pope Benedict asked, "can we draw from the teaching and the prodigious activities of this great missionary and martyr?" Firstly, he went on, "the central importance of the Word of God, lived and interpreted in the faith of the Church, which he preached and to which he bore witness even unto the supreme gift of self in martyrdom". Secondly, "his faithful communion with the Apostolic See, which was a fixed and central principle of his missionary work".
"One result of this commitment was the firm spirit of cohesion around Peter's Successor which Boniface transmitted to the Churches in his mission territories, uniting England, Germany and France to Rome, and thus making a decisive contribution to establishing the Christian roots which would produce fertile fruits over later centuries".
A third characteristic of the saint identified by the Holy Father was his "promotion of the encounter between Roman Christian culture and Germanic culture. Transmitting the ancient heritage of Christian values, he gave the people he evangelised a more humane lifestyle, thanks to which the inalienable rights of the person enjoyed greater respect".
"Boniface's courageous witness", said the Pope, "is an invitation to us all to welcome the Word of God into our lives as an essential point of reference, to love the Church passionately, to feel a joint responsibility for her future, and to seek unity around Peter's Successor. At the same time, he reminds us that Christianity, favouring the spread of culture, promotes the progress of mankind. Now it is up to us to show ourselves worthy of such a prestigious heritage, and to bring it to fruit to the advantage of coming generations".
The Holy Father concluded by saying that if we compare St. Boniface's "burning faith and dedication to the Gospel" with "our own faith, often lukewarm and bureaucratised, we have to ask ourselves: how can we renew it so as to ensure the precious gift of the Gospel reaches our own times?"


Thomas A'Kempis
For the Greater Glory of God and the Honor of The Blessed Virgin Mary
By James Spencer

"When thou shalt arrive thus far, that tribulation shall be sweet to thee, and thou shalt relish it for love of Christ, then think that all is well with thee, for thou has found a paradise on earth. As long as suffering is grievous to thee, and thou seekest to fly from it, so long shall it be ill with thee; and the (desire of) flying from tribulation shall pursue thee everywhere."
(This is part 11 of 14 of Book II, Chapter 12, "The Royal Road of the Holy Cross," from The Imitation of Christ by Thomas A'Kempis.)


The following is from an actual report in a major anti-clerical publication, O Dia, in Fatima, dated October 17th, 1917:

"At one o'clock in the afternoon, midday by the sun, the rain stopped. The sky, pearly gray in color, illuminated the vast arid landscape with a strange light. The sun had a transparent gauzy veil so that eyes could easily be fixed upon it. The gray mother-of-pearl tone turned into a sheet of silver which broke up as the clouds were torn apart and the silver sun, enveloped in the same gauzy gray light, was seen to whirl and turn in the circle of broken clouds. A cry went up from every mouth and people fell on their knees on the muddy ground. The light turned a beautiful blue as if it had come through the stained-glass windows of a cathedral and spread itself over the people who knelt with outstretched hands. The blue faded slowly and then the light seemed to pass through yellow glass. Yellow stains fell against white handkerchiefs, against the dark skirts of women. They were reported on the trees, on the stones and on the serra. People wept and prayed with uncovered heads in the presence of the miracle they had awaited.

From the road, where the vehicles were parked and where hundreds of people who had not dared to brave the mud were congregated, one could see the immense multitude turn toward the sun, which appeared free from clouds and in its zenith. It looked like a plaque of dull silver and it was possible to look at it without the least discomfort. It might have been an eclipse that was taking place. But at that moment a great shout went up and one could hear the spectators nearest at hand shouting:

" A miracle! A miracle!" Before the astonished eyes of the crowd, whose aspect was Biblical as they stood bareheaded, eagerly searching the sky, the sun trembled, made sudden incredible movements outside any cosmic laws - the sun "danced" according to the typical expression of the people.

This was not the sparkling of a heavenly body, for it spun round on itself in a mad whirl, when suddenly a clamour was heard from all the people. The sun, whirling, seemed to loosen itself from the firmament and advance threateningly upon the earth as if to crush us with its huge fiery weight. The sensation during these moments was terrible."

It was in this apparition that the now famous three secrets of Fatima were told to Lucia dos Santos, Francisco and Jacinta Marto. They were disclosed in 1942, after they had been committed to writing in four separate memoirs between 1935 and 1941, by the surviving seeress - Lucia. The Secrets revealed by the Blessed Virgin in 1917 were:

· A vision of the reality of hell, previously described, which so horrified the visionaries that they willingly took on every penance and mortification they could imagine, if it could only prevent souls from going there. Mary said to them, "You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart."

· "World War I will end soon. However, if humanity does not stop offending God, another and worse war will break out in the reign of Pius XI. When you see a night illuminated by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign that God gives you, that He is going to punish the world for its crimes by means of war, hunger, persecution of the Church and of the Holy Father. To forestall this, I shall come to ask consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart and the communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my request is heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace. If not, Russia shall spread her errors throughout the world, promoting wars and persecution of the Church; the good will be martyred, the Holy Father will have much to suffer, various nations will be annihilated; in the end my Immaculate Heart shall triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me which will be converted, and some time of peace will be given to the world."

· The third Secret, Lucia said it could be opened "not before 1960". Three Popes are reported to have read it in the years since 1960, but decided not to publicize the contents, until the Vatican released it in June, 2000.

VATICAN CITY, JUN 26, 2000 (VIS) - Given below is the complete translation of the original Portuguese text of the third part of the secret of Fatima, revealed to the three shepherd children at Cova da Iria-Fatima on July 13, 1917, and committed to paper by Sr. Lucia on January 3, 1944:

"I write in obedience to you, my God, who command me to do so through his Excellency the Bishop of Leiria and through your Most Holy Mother and mine.

"After the two parts which I have already explained, at the left of Our Lady and a little above, we saw an Angel with a flaming sword in his left hand; flashing, it gave out flames that looked as though they would set the world on fire; but they died out in contact with the splendor that Our Lady radiated towards him from her right hand: pointing to the earth with his right hand, the Angel cried out in a loud voice: 'Penance, Penance, Penance!'. And we saw in an immense light that is God: 'something similar to how people appear in a mirror when they pass in front of it' a Bishop dressed in White 'we had the impression that it was the Holy Father'. Other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious going up a steep mountain, at the top of which there was a big Cross of rough-hewn trunks as of a cork-tree with the bark; before reaching there the Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow, he prayed for the souls of the corpses he met on his way; having reached the top of the mountain, on his knees at the foot of the big Cross he was killed by a group of soldiers who fired bullets and arrows at him, and in the same way there died one after another the other Bishops, Priests, men and women Religious, and various lay people of different ranks and positions. Beneath the two arms of the Cross there were two Angels each with a crystal aspersorium in his hand, in which they gathered up the blood of the Martyrs and with it sprinkled the souls that were making their way to God."

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Post # 77

Topics: Catholic Bamberg: The Church of St. Getreu....Thomas A'Kempis 1; Thoreau 0: Submitted By James Spencer...."The Mother": Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty....Heretic Repellant: Fun Pic....Latin Never Abrogated: Repeat, Rinse, Repeat....Cardinal Llovera: On The Motu Proprio....Eight Habits of Highly Effective Bishops: Episcopal Qualities and the Syntax of Liberals (Kansas Catholic.blogspot View)....Sola Scriptura: The Luther Invention....You Build With Peace, Not With War: By Robert Moynihan, Inside the Vatican


Catholic Bamberg: The Church of St. Getreu

The New Liturgical Movement


Blogger's note: Please go to the New Liturgical Movement website to see all these beautiful pictures.

Starting off our series about Catholic Bamberg (cf. introductory post here) is the church of St. Getreu. This, like so many other things, is a foundation of St. Otto. Since he is such a determining figure for Bamberg, and we will encounter him quite often.

The name "Getreu" is a literal translation of "Fides", and refers to St. Fides (Foy) of Agen, whose relics are kept in the Abbey of Ste. Foy in Conques-en-Rouergue. St. Otto's foundation thus, like other churches and chapels he founded, represents an important station on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. St. Getreu was a priory of nearby St. Michael's Abbey (which we will visit in one of the next posts of the series). Its present form dates from the 1730s.

Here is an impression of the interior in its entirety:


Thomas A'Kempis 1; Thoreau 0

submitted by James Spencer

When I took American Romanticism at Creighton University back about the time Caesar was crossing the Rubicon, I especially enjoyed Henry David Thoreau's wit and wisdom.  However, without the Faith, even his immense talent falls woefully short.  Here's an example: 

Thomas A'Kempis: "If you carry your cross willingly, it will carry you . . . if you carry it unwillingly, it will burden you the more and nevertheless you must carry it. . . .  If you throw off one cross, you will undoubtedly find another, and perhaps a heavier." 

H.D. Thoreau: "Most people live in a state of quiet desperation." Both describe the universally-shared "human condition" (pardon the exhausted cliche), but what a difference in the perspectives!


"The Mother" 
by Cardinal Jozsef Mindszenty
submitted by Larry Bethel

“The most important person on earth is a mother.
She cannot claim the honor of having built Notre Dame Cathedral.
She need not.
“She has built something more
magnificent than any cathedral—
a dwelling for an immortal soul,
the tiny perfection of her baby's body…
“The angels have not been blessed with such a grace.
They cannot share in God's creative miracle to
bring new saints to Heaven. Only a human mother can.
Mothers are closer to God the Creator than any other creature;
God joins forces with mothers in performing this act of creation…
“What on God's good earth is more glorious than this; to be a mother?”

—Cardinal Mindszenty


Just in at Angelus Press — "The Mother" by Cardinal Mindszenty.  Cardinal Mindszenty's respect for Mothers was deep and abiding.  He wrote one book on a Mother and had planned two more; however, his imprisonment by the Nazis and then the Communists prevented the completion of his work. 
Now reprinted in beautiful hardcover w/ dust-jacket.


Heretic Repellant


Latin Has Never Been Abrogated as the Language of the Church
If you repeat it enough...somethings bound to stick!

Blogger's note: Most of us who read this blog are well aware of Latin as the sacred language of the Church. Amazingly, a lot of my Catholic friends are just not  aware that a sacred language exists for Catholics. So, in the interest of teaching through repetition, here it is again in the official writings. Footnote: I took this from someone else and the comments following are not mine. However, I cannot find the original source to credit the writer.

Some points about Latin and the Catholic Church:

-- Latin Has Never Been Abrogated as the Language of the Church. Latin is still the language of the Church, even though Vatican II extended, in limited cases, the use of vernacular tongues. Some points from the documents of Vatican II illustrate how far we have strayed from the true teachings of the Council:

Sacrosanctum Concilium 
(Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), 

36.1: Particular law remaining in force, the use of the Latin language is to be preserved in the Latin rites.

Id. at 54:....steps should be taken so that the faithful may also be able to say or to sing together in Latin those parts of the Ordinary of the Mass which pertain to them. 

Id. at 101.1: In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly. The vernacular version, however, must be one that is drawn up according to the provision of Art. 36.

Optatum Totius (Decree On Priestly Training), 13: Before beginning specifically ecclesiastical subjects, seminarians should be equipped with that humanistic and scientific training which young men in their own countries are wont to have as a foundation for higher studies. Moreover they are to acquire a knowledge of Latin which will enable them to understand and make use of the sources of so many sciences and of the documents of the Church.

-- Latin Makes it Harder to Tinker with the Liturgy. It is altogether possible to commit liturgical abuses in Latin, but it cannot be possible to do it to the extent it has been done in vernacular liturgies. 

-- Latin Preserves the Integrity of the Faith. The safest way to preserve Catholic doctrine intact is by preserving it in a language that is no longer a vernacular tongue, and therefore no longer subject to the vicissitudes of change and evolution.

-- Latin Is a Mark of Universality. The Mass in Latin was recognizable to any Catholic. A Catholic could travel anywhere and be perfectly at home at Mass, even though he could not understand the language of the homily. Those who hold that Latin left the majority of Catholics ignorant of what truly happens in the Mass bear the burden of proving their assertion. The existence of children's books explaining the preconciliar Mass (I happen to own one from the 1940s), boys who served the Mass, Latin classes in Catholic schools, and the existence of Missals providing the Latin text side-by-side with the vernacular translation, all serve to give the lie to the idea that people did not understand the Mass before the changes. On the other hand, the marked decline in reverence on the part of many of us at Mass is a strong indication that fewer people than ever truly understand what is happening at Mass, even though it is now seldom offered in Latin. 

-- Latin Is a Mark of Unity. All Catholics could participate in a Latin Mass, even though they were from different countries and spoke different languages. Setting aside Latin as the language of the liturgy -- which was never permitted by Vatican II, let alone mandated -- has led to the balkanization of parishes. Now parishes are divided into ethnic enclaves that rarely intermingle, even for worship. Efforts to divide one Mass up into several vernacular languages serves rather to accentuate disunity than to overcome it; they can never substitute adequately for the loss of a universal language.

Besides being unlawful, the discarding of Latin, and the fostering of hostility toward Latin among the faithful, was downright foolish. Hopefully, the damage will soon be undone. 


Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera on the Motu Proprio
Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments
---- Introduction of Father Nicola Bux’s book, The Reform of Benedict XVI ----
submitted by Larry Bethel

Courtesy NCRegister

“If we truly believe that the Eucharist is really the ‘source and summit of Christian life’ – as the Second Vatican Council reminds us — we cannot admit that it is celebrated in an unworthy manner. For many, accepting the conciliar reform has meant celebrating a Mass which in one way or another had to be ‘desacralized.’ How many priests have been called ‘backward’ or ‘anticonciliar’ because of the mere fact of celebrating in a solemn or pious manner or simply for fully obeying the rubrics! It is imperative to get out of this dialectic.”

These are the words of Cardinal Antonio Cañizares Llovera, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, in an introduction he wrote for a new edition of Father Nicola Bux’s book, The Reform of Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Cañizares offers his comments in the context of discussing Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum, which encourages more widespread celebration of the extraordinary form of the Mass in Latin.

The cardinal credits Benedict’s motu proprio with helping to heal divisions in the Church caused by conflicting views about the liturgical reform initiated by the Second Vatican Council, and with highlighting that the Council never intended that the reform should injure the Church’s liturgical patrimony.

Writes Cardinal Cañizares,

The reform has been implemented and it has mainly been experienced as an absolute change, as if an abyss should be created between the “before” and the “after” the Council, in a context where the term “preconciliar” was used like an insult. Here also the phenomenon occurred which the Pope notes in his recent letter to the bishops of 10 March 2009: “Sometimes one has the impression that our society needs at least one group for which there need not be any tolerance; which one can unperturbedly set upon with hatred.” For years this was the case in good measure with the priests and faithful attached to the form of Mass inherited throughout the centuries, who were often treated “like lepers,” as the then Cardinal Ratzinger bluntly put it.

Today, thanks to the Motu Proprio, this situation is changing notably. And it is doing so in large part because the intention of the Pope has not only been to satisfy the followers of Monsignor Lefevbre, nor to confine himself to respond to the just wishes of the faithful who feel attached, for various reasons, to the liturgical heritage represented by the Roman rite, but also, and in a special way, to open the liturgical richness of the Church to all the faithful, thus making possible the discovery of the treasures of the liturgical patrimony of the Church to those who still do not know it. How many times is the attitude of those who disdain them not due to anything other than this ignorance! Therefore, considered from this last aspect, the Motu Proprio makes sense beyond the presence or absence of conflicts: even if there were not a single “traditionalist” whom to satisfy, this “discovery” would have been enough to justify the provisions of the Pope.


Episcopal Qualities and the Syntax of Liberals
Courtesy of Kansas Catholic

Blogger's note: While Kansas Catholic offers a more "street level" view of this article I urge you, good readers, to read the original article at inside Catholic.com as well. It is much too long to post here. Here is the link.

A well-done article at Inside Catholic is entitled "Eight Habits of Highly Effective Bishops." Below are the eight habits listed in the article.

If you read the article, you will see the author's intent is to promote orthodoxy among Catholic bishops in the U.S. After reading the article, I thought I would provide likely liberal translations of the named habits by using their abundant buzzwords and their even more abundant ability to obfuscate (i.e. change the meaning of the listed habits while saying something that appears completely inoffensive).

1. A bishop must be personally holy.
Liberal translation: A bishop must be pastoral.

2. A bishop must promote and defend the authentic Catholic faith.
Liberal translation: A bishop must creatively apply Catholic social doctrine to the evolving challenges of our modern age.

3. A bishop must be committed to Catholic education.
Liberal translation: A bishop must educate Catholics of their obligations to those that the church has marginalized.

4. A bishop must work to strengthen the Catholic family.
Liberal translation: A bishop must work to make the Catholic family inclusive.

5. A bishop must foster vocations.
Liberal translation: A bishop must work to remove barriers to vocations for all of the People of God.

6. A bishop must love the Mass.
Liberal translation: A bishop must make the Mass welcoming and accessible to all. 

7. A bishop must be willing to start from scratch.
Liberal translation: A bishop must build upon the liberating spirit that infused the Second Vatican Council.

8. A bishop must be vocal in the public square.
Liberal translation: A bishop must listen to the "signs of the times" while engaging other faith traditions in such a way as to promote interfaith understanding.

See how just a little tweaking can change the whole meaning of what a bishop should be?
Most of us have lived through a period of transition in the Church, one where tradition was abandoned in search of a new way. As that new way begins to finally fall by the wayside (having born such little fruit), many of us are left with its vapid lexicon still wandering between our ears--like a lost tribe.
The new way, like all things that strive for relevancy, never really found it. How could it? Tradition, like nature itself, defines relevancy, and cannot be put aside. The resurgence of tradition, those fundamentals of the faith as practiced for centuries, cannot be done in by simple word play, at least not for long. And Lord knows they've tried--and will try still. Luckily, the educated and informed laity, the one that was to bring forth the new way to its triumph, can see through the word play at last.
Of course, as Holy Mother Church is comprised of dioceses, parishes are the building blocks of those same dioceses. So what is said here about bishops also applies to parish priests. Pray for our bishops and priests.


Sola Scriptura
The Luther Invention

Blogger's note: Again I do not have the author of this writing but it came form a Catholic forum somewhere. It deals with a poster's question about the legitimacy of the protestant idea of Sola Scriptura. I thought it was a great answer so here it is...

"The reality is that it never occurred to any christian to take the position that the Bible is the sole rule of faith and contains EVERY legitimate element of divine revelation until Martin Luther dreamt that idea up in the 1500's. Prior to that time, the Church operated on the model shown in the Acts of the Apostles: apostles established new churches in new towns and ordained/annointed a bishop to hold authority there when the apostle left (or died). The bishops (and apostles) gathered together to discuss controversies and determine the authentic christian response to them. When controversies got REALLY bad, Peter (and later his successors) decided the issue with divine assisstance. Catholics believe that this is not "development by man using the bible as a guide" (the bible didn't even exist for the first few hundred years of this) but rather God's design for the function and preservation of the Church. 

The major reason the NT writings were considered authoritative was because the authors held apostolic office. It took a few hundred years before there was general agreement on which books were inspired revelation and became the new testament. By that time, ALL the major elements of catholicism were in place and not controversial (sacraments, communion of saints, apostolic succession, Marian devotion, etc). Curiously enough for the protestants, Scripture does not ever contain a statement that the model of church operation described above was supposed to end at a certain point and Scripture to take over as the sole source of authority. How careless of God to forget an important detail like that..."


"You Build With Peace, Not With War"
By Robert Moynihan
Courtesy Inside the Vatican
submitted by Michael O'Neill

On the eve of Pope Benedict's trip to the Holy Land, Inside the Vatican spoke with Archbishop Jean Benjamin Sleiman (photo), Latin-rite archbishop of Baghdad, Iraq, on the hopes for the region and the world from this trip...
By Robert Moynihan
Pope Benedict is scheduled to leave Rome today for his historic pastoral trip to the Holy Land (May 8-15). The trip has six main purposes which may be summarized in a phrase: to build peace through speaking truth. We will publish a regular commentary on the events of the Pope's trip.
The way for Israel to secure its future lies not through making war, but through building a just peace, the Archbishop of the Catholic Church in Baghdad, Iraq, Jean Benjamin Sleiman, told Inside the Vatican magazine on the eve of Pope's departure for the Holy Land.  
"This trip is very dear to Pope's heart," the archbishop said. "But it is also very important for Israel. The Pope in his addresses will layout the principles by which the Israelis and Palestinians in coming months and years can develop a lasting peace. The question is whether this message will be heard and acted upon. I think it is a historically dramatic occasion when one man will speak words which will, if they are listened to, change history."
Sleiman, 63, a native of Lebanon, has been Latin-rite bishop of Baghdad for eight years, since 2001. He is considered one of the leading spokesman among Catholics in the Middle East for the continued presence of the Christian community of that part of the world. He spoke to Inside the Vatican (Photo below: Archbishop Sleiman with the author meeting in Washington D.C.) in Washington DC, where he was meeting with US Senators and Congressmen to discuss the life of the Christian community in Iraq and its prospects for a secure future.
The Archbishop is persuaded that, despite the difficulty facing the Christians of Iraq, there are profound reasons to stay there and, if they have left, to return.
"We have had a tremendous flight of Christians from Iraq," he said. "This is what I told the Pope on my last visit with him.
"I explained that many of the young people who seek a better life in places like London and Paris and Stockholm end up losing their faith. Iraq society puts tremendous value on a close-knit family. When the young people leave Iraq and get off on their own, away from their parents and grandparents, they often lose their way.
"So from a pastoral perspective, I feel compelled as a bishop to encourage the Christians to stay in Iraq, even thought I understand their desire to seek a better life elsewhere. I know that the 'better life' for them would be to keep their faith." 

When the archbishop spoke of his talks with Pope Benedict, he became animated. "Pope Benedict is a holy man, a intelligent man, and a humble man," he said. "He is kind and he listens attentively to those to whom he speaks." 
Sleiman was born in Lebanon, near Byblos. He is one of five children and grew up speaking French and Arabic (he also speaks excellent English and Italian).
He felt the first promptings of a religious vocation in the admiration  he felt for several of the priest who were his teachers. But later his vocation entered a deeper phase.
"I no longer simply wanted to imitate the life and character of the men I admired," he said. "I wanted to commit myself totally to something higher — to the highest thing I could find. And that highest was the priesthood, conforming my life to the life of Christ."
"The Muslims of the world are very confident that they will be the planet's future," he continued. "But I believe the future is in Christ. The Pope will proclaim this hope throughout his trip, to everyone in the Middle East, and to the whole world watching."
Sleiman said he would have been in Jordan to greet the Pope upon his arrival, but the need to explain the  situation of the Christians in Iraq to U.S. officials was so urgent that he decided to take more than a week in the United States to make his case.  
The man who discovered and promoted Sleiman for the position in Baghdad was the Italian Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, in 2001 the head of the Vatican's Congregation of Oriental Churches, under Pope John Paul II. Silvestrini, a career Vatican diplomat who has since retired, visited Saddam Hussein personally to try to persuade him to come to a compromise with the Western powers before the 2003 war began.
Both Silverstrini and Pope John Paul II found in Sleiman a man with the diplomatic tact to work well in the explosive atmosphere of Baghdad and with the deep faith needed to be an effective pastor to the diverse Latin-rite community in the Iraqi capital (some 30,000 Poles, 6,000 Brazilians and many other nationalities).