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The time I met Kobe Bryant at daily Mass: “Like all of us, he came to pray”…

News broke this afternoon that retired NBA player Kobe Bryant and his daughter died in a helicopter crash. Bryant was also a practicing Catholic, and explained in an interview how his faith helped him through some dark times. [See also: How Kobe Bryant’s Catholic Faith Pulled Him Through His Darkest Hour] Instagram user Cristina Ballestero revealed an amazing story about seeing Bryant at a weekday Mass at Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, Cali. Here’s her story below: Click here if you cannot see the post above. Here’s the text of her story (edited for easier reading): “I want to tell a story about the time I met Kobe Bryant. “I was sitting in the very back of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange, CA, on a weekday Mass. At the time I was very into wearing veils, and on this particular day, I had...

Why study Latin?

Ave Maria, Gloria in excelsis, Agnus Dei, Dominus Vobiscum, Sanctus, Tantum Ergo. These are just some of the Latin phrases that Catholics may recognize. Although it’s common to speak of Latin as a “dead” language, it remains alive within the Church, her sacred language of prayer, study, and unity. Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics to learn the basic prayers of the Mass and the rosary to be able to pray together throughout the world. This common language roots the Latin rite of the Church in a common identity and heritage. A sacred language also points to the transcendent mystery and reverence of the Mass, moving beyond the ordinary language of one’s daily routine. Not only has Latin served as the language of the Church since the third century, it also has provided the key language of educa...

12 great March for Life 2020 signs (with 7 bonus Baby Yodas)…

Thousands and thousands marched on Washington today to protect the right to life of the most vulnerable, the unborn. In recent years, I have gone and taken photos of the best signs but this year that was not possible. However, people were willing to share their great March for Life signs. There were many great Baby Yoda signs but they are all near the end. All images are used with permission and all I have done is sometimes cropped them. The links below each picture lead back to the source. An Unborn Baby is More than a Clump of Cells Image: Jennifer S. Bryson (@brysonjs) – used with permission. Emoji (because the girl is so young): Emoji One on Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 4.0) Abortion Discriminates Against the Disabled (Ableism) Carole Novielli (@CaroleNovielli) – used with permission He...

Bishop Joseph Strickland says he asked Pope Francis about McCarrick report at ad limina visit…

ROME — Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, said he asked Pope Francis about the Vatican investigation into Theodore E. McCarrick and the release of a promised report on how the former cardinal managed to rise through church ranks. The bishop, who was making his ad limina visit to Rome, drew widespread attention in August 2018 for a public statement saying he found “credible” the allegations made by retired Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States, regarding McCarrick. Vigano alleged that top Vatican officials, including Francis, knew for years that McCarrick had been accused of sexual misconduct. Strickland at the time called for a “thorough investigation, similar to those conducted any time allegations are deemed to be credible.” “Pope Francis was gre...

Homily for first Word of God Sunday: Why does God give us his Word?

“Jesus began to preach” (Mt 4:17). With these words, the evangelist Matthew introduces the ministry of Jesus. The One who is the Word of God has come to speak with us, in his own words and by his own life. On this first Sunday of the Word of God, let us go to the roots of his preaching, to the very source of the word of life. Today’s Gospel (Mt 4:12-23) helps us to know how, where and to whom Jesus began to preach. 1. How did he begin? With a very simple phrase: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (v. 17). This is the main message of all Jesus’ sermons: to tell us that the kingdom of heaven is at hand. What does this mean? The kingdom of heaven means the reign of God, that is, the way in which God reigns through his relationship with ...

Francis X. Maier — Good Servant of a Good Shepherd…

Fran and Suann Maier, pictured above with their son Dan, were named ‘Knight Commander’ and ‘Dame Commander’ in the Order of St. Gregory the Great by Pope Francis. The papal honors were conferred Dec. 9 by Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia. (Top inset photo below courtesy of Francis X. Maier. All other photos by Sarah Webb.) Francis X. Maier, Good Servant of a Good Shepherd “Christianity is fundamentally about friendship,” says the former Register editor in chief and longtime aide to Archbishop Charles Chaput, “and helping each other get to heaven.” In the late 1970s native New Yorker Francis X. Maier made the decision to leave Hollywood screenwriting to focus on writing a novel, The World on the Last Day, about the fall of Saigon. To support his wife and young family and supplement...

As an “act of mercy,” God has given some saints visions of Hell. Here’s what we can learn from them…..

Hell is the final guarantee that what we do here and now really matters: That’s the message Paul Thigpen gives in the book Saints Who Saw Hell: And Other Catholic Witnesses to the Fate of the Damned. “If Hell doesn’t exist, then all roads lead to the same destination, whether it’s Heaven, or annihilation, or something else. And if all roads lead to the same place, it ultimately makes no difference which road we take. On the other hand, if our choices will lead us ultimately to one of two utterly different destinies, then our choices have crucially different consequences,” he continues. Reflecting on Hell, Thigpen emphasizes, deepens our appreciation of Heaven. “The more horrible we understand Hell to be, the more deeply we fathom what God wants to save us from, the more grateful we are tha...

Are you a “conversational narcissist?” Here’s how to recognize it, and how to avoid it…..

With our archives now 3,500+ articles deep, we’ve decided to republish a classic piece each Friday to help our newer readers discover some of the best, evergreen gems from the past. This article was originally published in May 2011.  Last month I met up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in forever to have lunch. Having both read and written about how to be an effective and charismatic conversationalist, I followed the old dictum of listening more than talking and asking the other person engaging questions about themselves. This is supposed to charm your conversation partner. I guess it worked because my friend talked about himself for an hour straight and didn’t ask me a single question. When we’ve talked about the ins and outs of making good conversation before, someone inevitably ask...

What do we mean by the word “mystery?”…

In the secular world, a “mystery” is something that baffles or eludes understanding, something that lies undisclosed. And the usual attitude of the world toward mystery is to solve it, get to the bottom of, or uncover it. Mysteries must be overcome! The riddle, or “who-done-it” must be solved! In the Christian and especially the Catholic world, “mystery” is something a bit different. Here, mystery refers to the fact that there are hidden dimensions in things, people, and situations that extend beyond their visible, physical dimensions. One of the best definitions I have read of “mystery” is by the theologian and philosopher John Le Croix. Fr. Francis Martin introduced it to me some years ago in one of his recorded conferences. Le Croix says, Mystery is that which opens temporality and give...

A plea for Pakistan’s Christians…

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput sent the following letter to Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan this morning. January 21, 2020 Prime Minister Imran KhanCare of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the United States3517 International Court NW,Washington, DC 20008 Your Excellency: Many Pakistani Catholic families currently live in the Greater Philadelphia region. They are a great blessing to our community. These are very impressive people, grateful for their Pakistani heritage, whose Catholic faith was nourished in Pakistan. However, the hardships now faced by Christians in Pakistan profoundly concern them. On their behalf, I write to you—as their local archbishop, but also as a former Commissioner with the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (...

The Lamb from the ‘Ghent Altarpiece’ is worrying art lovers…

Written by Rob Picheta, CNN “There are no words to express the result” was the beaming reaction of Belgium’s Royal Institute for Cultural Heritage, after a 15th-century masterpiece — painted over shortly after completion — was restored to its former glory. And they were right — commentators have been left speechless by one particular aspect of the newly revealed painting. The latest panel of the “Ghent Altarpiece,” a large work by Hubert and Jan van Eyck, was unveiled in December as part of an ongoing project to restore the painting to its original design. The painting — also known as “The Adoration of the Mystic Lamb” — depicts a lamb, representing Jesus, being sacrificed on an altar. And it’s this holy lamb tha...

Supreme Court split over Montana case on public funding for religious schools…

People lined up Tuesday outside the Supreme Court ahead of oral arguments in the Montana case. Photo: lawrence hurley/Reuters By Jess Bravin Updated Jan. 22, 2020 4:32 pm ET WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court appeared ready Wednesday to reinstate a Montana program providing state aid to religious schools, after arguments in which conservative justices cited anti-Catholic sentiment in the 19th century that led many states to bar public support for sectarian education. The program at issue was relatively small; it provided up to a $150 tax credit to residents who contributed a like amount to organizations providing scholarships to private schools, whether secular or religious. The Montana Supreme Court struck down the entire program, finding it violated the state constitution’s ban on public suppo...

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