Thursday, October 27, 2011

FREE Rock N Learn iPad App Sight Words for Reading HD

Rock ‘N Learn is proud to announce its latest new iPad App, Sight Words for Reading HD! 

Description: This app helps students learn sight words, the most common words in children's literature. It covers a few words from both the Fry's and Dolch lists. Words are presented in context in fun videos. This helps learners understand the meaning of the words, which aids in reading comprehension.

After watching the videos to learn new sight words, learners can test themselves with a flash card quiz. The words are presented in a random order, so the quiz is different every time!


This free app covers only six words from Rock 'N Learn's popular Sight Words DVD program. Look for more Sight Words apps coming soon!




Follow this link to check out this free app for Rock N Learn's Sight Words for Reading.




and don't miss out on our Rock N Learn Sight Word DVD giveaway
which ends at Midnight tonight (10/28)



If you would like to receive special offers from Rock N Learn, sign up for their emails {HERE}.  I would highly encourage you to check out their educational blog as well, since they discuss a lot of important educational topics.  


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Videos Explaining the New Missal {at home training for busy Moms}

Want to see some background knowledge on translating the Missal?  Here's a great video:




I, personally, have not had time to attend some of the classes/training available at my Parish but found these and thought they were so great I wanted to share them with you.




If you want to see more videos by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), join their YouTube Channel.

Blessings,
Erika

Six Practical Means to Overcome Sins and Faults of the Tongue

Ask a Carmelite Sister...

Sins and Faults of the Tongue: To Speak or not to Speak – That is the Question

Dear Sister,
There is a lot of noise around me – constantly. So much chatter. It seems to me that conversations in general are getting more superficial. I’m reminded of the title of one Shakespeare’s plays. It seems to fit what I am trying to say – Much Ado about Nothing.What are your thoughts?

Written by Sister Laus Gloriae, O.C.D. the Carmelite sister over at Integrated Catholic Life...hop on over to their website to read Sister's answer to this question: Six Practical Means to Overcome Sins and Faults of the Tongue

Blessings,
Erika

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Brother Francis: Let's Pray! {Catholic Children's DVDs}


You know my love for seeking out solid Catholic kids DVDs right?  I feel like I've hit the jackpot with this new one, it's called Brother Francis and it's created by Herald Kids.  Who is Brother Francis and what is this Catholic series about?  Here is the description from their website:
"Join Brother Francis and his friends as they inspire children in their Catholic faith.  This entertaining and instructive series features stories, visual examples, music and practical application!"
Practice makes perfect! This is a true saying whether one is playing basketball, drawing a picture, reading or even praying! In this wonderfully fun inaugural episode the ever-joyful Brother Francis will help your children establish a personal relationship with God!
This episode features:
  • “The Sign of the Cross” -- a catchy tune about an important prayer gesture.
  • “Let’s Pray!” -- a captivating song showing us how we can pray anywhere!
  • “The Our Father” -- the traditional prayer sung to a moving melody.
  • “With God’s Love!” -- a song that encourages us to serve others.
  • “The Little Way of Saint Therese” -- a visualized story . . . and lots of fun!
video




Faith Formation Features
The DVD we watched today is called Let's Pray! and it features two basic but important prayers,  The Sign of the Cross and The Our Father
and presented Saint Therese and her Little Way of doing things with big love.  It also includes two other authentic songs, "With God's Love!" and "Let's Pray!".

I love how this DVD starts and how Brother Francis compares prayer to sports (something kids can relate to) and basically to anything you want to do right, you have to practice it.  My kids laughed so much when Brother Francis explained the importance of attitude during prayer, if you want to make prayer boring, you pray in an uninterested way.  (Brother Francis goes on to pretend to fall asleep, my kids couldn't contain their laughter -wonder if they were relating to him?  LOL)  You don't want to have a conversation with anyone when you aren't interested in them do you?  Well why would you with God?

Animation
The animation is fantastic!  There are different kinds throughout but I just love how the main scenes of the video, although cartoons, the sky is always a real sky...which gives it a beautiful feel and a real one at that.  When the video went to talk about St. Therese the animation changed a little and made it look like it was older, which was neat because we were going back in time to learn about the little Saint!



Multiple Learning Styles
I also like that the video includes music and sets the prayers to music.  This helps all of our different kinds of learners, visual and auditory.  :)  I like that you can print activities out afterwards for the more tactile learners.  Each DVD has a set of print out pages with activities associated with the theme of the video and coloring pages as well.  There are a couple of pages recapping the main lessons of the video with some of the same illustrations from the DVD; I thought this was a neat feature.  My favorite page is the one called, "Lord, Help to be Holy", because it makes the kids really think about what they just learned in the DVD and almost make a little "pledge" or "promise" to God asking Him to make them Holy.  This page looks like this:


Languages
Since one of my goals this year is to expose the kids to more Spanish (my first language), I really love the fact that you can play the videos in English or in Spanish, El Hermano Zeferino.  We actually watched it in Spanish after watching it in English, it was great!  The Spanish was neutral Spanish (if you teach Spanish or a speaker, you know what I mean).  It was easy to listen and understand and follow.  This will definitely one of my go to resources to teach my kids prayers in Spanish!


Evaluation
Overall, I give this Brother Francis DVD entitled Let's Pray! an A+ for awesome illustrations, music, story line, and message!  This would make a great resource for every Catholic homeschool and also fantastic to have in our parishes as part of their Faith Formation programs.  Interested in ordering your own copy of this or any of the other Brother Francis DVDs?  Please visit Brother Francis at his website.



Get social with Brother Francis:
Facebook - Catholic Children dvdYouTube - Catholic Children AnimationTwitter - Catholic Youth Animationtumblr - Brother Francis Blog


Blessings,
Erika


A Colossal Set of Resources on All Saints Day


One of my most favorite Liturgical Celebrations (besides the obvious two big one: Christmas and Easter) has got to be All Saints Day!  I am enamored by the whole concept of the Communion of Saints.  Like I said in a post about Saints: Who needs Super Heroes when, as a Catholic, you have them, I love being able to ask those who are already in Heaven to pray for me and my little family!  :)  Here are some interesting facts about this beautiful celebration:

Liturgical Facts on All Saints:
Here are some facts about All Saints that I found on Churchyear.net:
Liturgical Color(s): White
Type of Holiday: SolemnityHoly Day of Obligation (West); Feast (East)
Time of Year: November 1 (in the East, the Sunday after Pentecost)
Duration: One Day
Celebrates/Symbolizes: All Saints, known and unknown
Alternate Names: All Hallows, Hallowmas, Halloween
Scriptural References: Mark 12:26-27; Ephesians 6:18; Hebrews 12:1, Revelation 5:8

Catholic Encyclopedia:  

Awesome Ideas Around the Web 
for All Saints/All Souls Day

Costumes:

Games:

Arts & Crafts:

Educational:

General Posts on All Saints:

Prayers:













Recipes:

En Españ
ol (All Saints/Souls Ideas in Spanish):
NOTA: Si tiene un blog con ideas en Español, favor de dejarme un "link" para agregarlo a esta lista, gracias!

Enjoy!


I am participating in the following All Saints Link Ups:










Catholic Inspired

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saint Parade 2010, What's in Store for All Saints this Year?


Last year was the first year we got to participate in a group All Saints celebration and picking the saints for each child was easy:


St. Joseph:
St. Joseph
Materials:

  • 1 Cotton King size Pillowcase (white)
  • 1 dark scarf
  • 1 pin
  • 1 walking stick (from outside)
  • 1 set of fake Lilies
  • long sleeves shirt
  • dark pants or jeans


Directions:  This was one of the easiest to make.  I bought a King-size pillowcase, made two wholes big enough for his arms and one for his head (I undid the stitching for this and then reinforced it on each end to make sure it didn't come undone.  Then I grabbed a dark colored scarf, put it over his shoulder and pinned it around his waist line.  I took a piece of white rope (like the ones for a clothing line) and tied it to his waist to give the costume some form.  Went to Dollar Store and bought a set of fake Lilies and hot glued them to a stick we got from outside, make sure you measure it and that it is your son's size before you glue the flowers. I had my son wear a long sleeved gray shirt and a pair of jeans.  :)




St. Therese of the Child Jesus
St. Therese:
I would love to tell you how this was made but I didn't make it, a friend of mine did and she passed it along to our little one, isn't it beautiful?  I found a website with some suggestions/directions for a nun costume: 

"Buy black material, cut a hole at the top for the neck or use a man's black T-shirt. Where a white turtleneck underneath, use a square of black material over the head as a veil, and wear a crucifix or cross."

She is holding a print out of a Crucifix glued on to foam paper and then it was glued on to some fake roses.  She wore brown boots.  :)


St. Noah:
St. Noah (and yep that is his ark)
Materials:

  • 1 Queen size pillowcase (burgundy red)
  • 1 scarf
  • 1 pin
  • 1small laundry basket
  • 3 sets of small (beanie-like) animals
  • long sleeves shirt
  • dark pants or jeans
  • contact paper to line the inside of drawers in wood pattern/color
  • an Exacto knife
Directions:  The directions for his "gown" is the same as St. Joseph's.  So I'll tell you about the "Ark".  I pre-cut six holes for the little animals to fit their heads out through.  Then I cut the bottom of the basket out completely.  I lined it with the contact paper (the ones to line the drawers.  Then I hot glued construction paper cut in "waves" to the bottom of the Ark.  Stuck the animals little heads out of the holes I had pre-cut and voila! Noah's Ark!


Here are more pictures of the kids:


St. Therese and St. Noah waiting patiently for the parade to begin.


St. Joseph and St. Therese doing a craft at Co-Op after the parade.



This year I have to add two more the youngest and the oldest and three other new ones....I don't have a clue yet, so I guess I'll have to do another post with the ones we came up with.  

What are your kids dressing up for All Saints Day?

Blessings,
Erika














Catholic Inspired

Friday, October 21, 2011

Homeschooling Day-to-Day: What do I do with babies and toddlers? PART 2

by Melody Lyons


Our preferences are often irrelevant
When my firstborn was ready to read I was ready to teach him. In fact, I had been planning for this moment for a year and it was going to go perfectly. I would put his baby sister down for a nap, sit with him on the big tan chair, and we would dive into delightful and focused learning together! The reality was that baby sister took five-minute naps and cried fifty percent of the day. Our lessons were almost always interrupted and instead of the peaceful scene I had envisioned, he sat and I stood and bounced with a squirming, crying little girl in my arms. Every lesson was stressful for me and felt like a huge failure. On the other hand, my son learned to read so well that he was able to read and comprehend high school level literature before he hit double digits. I wish I could take the credit for planning that success but truth be told, my plans usually don’t amount to much.

Sometimes the baby cries and crawls and falls and fills diapers. Sometimes toddlers pee on the carpet. Sometimes a fire truck goes by and my students race from their work to see it and lose all focus. Sometimes my 13-year old doesn’t get his math done because he’s watching the baby for me while I wash ketchup off the ceiling or read to a sibling. I do not prefer these situations. But the fact remains that nothing is really lost during such times… and I can recognize it when I step out of manager mode.

It’s about relationships
When your children are grown would you rather hear them say My mother was very tidy and organized or My mother really loved us and gave her best for us? Ideally, we’d love to hear both! Can we maintain a tidy homeschool and love our children well? Of course. But life does tend to get a little messy and sometimes we do have to choose.

When my youngest child was four months old, my teenager noticed that I had been holding and cuddling the baby for a very long time. He suggested that I should put him down for a while. This time goes quickly, Son, and I want to be present to this child just like I was present to you when you were an infant. These are the times when the dishes must wait and siblings learn to make sacrifices for each other.

The baby is now eight months old and I often allow the other children to interrupt their studies or duties in order to spend time with him. This is no loss. Babies grow quickly and I don’t want the kids to miss it just because they have spelling pages to do. In the grand scheme of things, a few pages of spelling are of little consequence.

When I’m feeling anxious about academic goals, I just call these moments “Early Childhood Development class”… and try to thank God for the beauty of family.

Homeschooling is difficult
We know what we want at the end of the homeschooling journey. We want to raise good, intelligent children who will become saints. We know that it takes a long period of hard work and constant struggles and prayer… and yet we still fall for the promises of easy solutions and magical programs. Can someone please give me the solution to the challenge of little ones during the school day? Do they have a pill for that? Ultimately, it all comes down to the blood, sweat, tears and prayers that are necessary for anything worth doing.

You can schedule your baby’s naps but he will still wake up when you don’t want him to. At those times, you’ll pick him up and do what you need to do. You can view this as a problem or as an act of love. Toddlers can be occupied with educational activities and playdough… but ultimately, what toddlers need most is you. You’ll spend your days trying to divide your time and multiply love. Don’t panic when it seems more than you can handle. Just say a prayer for help and make sure you look your children in the eyes and give them hugs more often than you want to.

The bottom line
If you need ideas for occupying the little ones during the school day, they are as close as a Google search away. Other than that, the truth is that you don’t have enough time, energy or smarts to meet every need at every moment. That’s a hard fact for us moms to swallow. The good news is that the success of homeschooling is all wrapped up in the family; and the family is all wrapped up in grace. Thanks be to God!

I set aside this evening to write this article. The older kids and my husband are at a ball game so it’s just like old times… just me, myself and the neediest littles in my family. No one to babysit for me. In between these typed lines I have accomplished the following: did the Hokey Pokey twice with my 4-year old while keeping my crawling baby from chewing on cords, baked cookies and ate too many of them, nursed the baby, held the baby while he napped, changed the baby (twice), made a pitcher of lemonade, answered the phone, answered a hundred questions from tiny voices, saved little bodies from big tumbles, read books, dried tears and wiped noses. And still they need more than the limited time I am giving them.

Resentment has no place here. Love gives all. Be at peace.


Dear beautiful homeschooling mamas…This is your homeschool. You can adjust deadlines as you see fit. Change goals. Schedule breaks. Play hooky to bake brownies and hug babies and pick flowers. You’re a great mom. Let’s all send up a prayer for each other, eh? Heaven knows we need it. Not because we are failing… but because we forget so often what it means to succeed.


*For a peek into my homeschool and the educational approach that keeps me sane and my children learning, visit me at Blossoming Joy.





*For a peek into my homeschool and the educational approach that keeps me sane and my children learning, visit me at Blossoming Joy.


Melody is a Catholic mama joyfully seeking truth, sanctity and a clean kitchen amidst the hustle and bustle of her full house. A happy wife and homeschooling mother of six, she is devoted to her vocation while finding bits of time for a few happy distractions. How does a Catholic homeschooling mother manage faith, family, education, creative pursuits, fitness and fellowship? The calendar is set. The reality is flexible. The days are colorful. The dishes are piling. The children are blossoming. The Lord is merciful. Blessed be the Lord! You can share in Melody’s journey of hope and joy at her blog, Blossoming Joy: A Journal of Home Education, Christian Womanhood and the Pursuit of Sanctity.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

WINNER!!! Abby Johnson's unPlanned Book is....



The winner of our unPlanned book giveaway by author and prolifer, Abby Johson is....


Congratulations Entry #24, Jenny!
Jenny's comment: 
"I've wanted to read this ever since it came out, so thank you for this opportunity!"
{Jenny, I will be sending you an email so that you can send me your information to put this AUTOGRAPHED book in the mail for you!  (yep, I got Abby to autograph the book last night!)  YAY!}


Thanks to everyone who participated in this great giveaway!  Don't forget we are also giving away a copy of Rock N Learn's newest educational DVD on Sight Words!
Blessings,
Erika

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Notre Dame du Clerge, Our Lady of the Clergy

I saw this beautiful image of our Blessed Mother over at Father Z's blog last night and I had to "borrow" her from him.  Isn't she beautiful?  I've never heard of Our Lady of the Clergy, so a friend helped me out and we actually found a little prayer which I posted below.  Thought this would be a great prayer to add to our daily devotions for the priesthood, deacons, bishops, cardinals, and Pope Benedict XVI.  Enjoy:


A Prayer:
O Mary, Queen of the Clergy , You are the Mother of the Church, the queen of the missions, the ideal complete and attractive of all the ecclesiastical virtues, deign to sow, with a royal profusion, the grace of priestly vocations and missionaries the pure in heart of the first communicants, prepare yourself the souls of young Levites to dangerous functions of the sacred ministry, fill out the priests, your favorite son, the burning heat of an untiring zeal, and garnish the holiness and Science for their glorious mission.

O Virgin priestly you who are the protectress of the Catholic hierarchy, enlighten and fortify our bishops that they are the vigilant pastors and leaders training your people. - Expand your powerful protection of our Holy Father the Pope, so that a firm hand to guide and secure the boat of your Church, through the storms and convulsions of the modern world, to the port of eternity.

August Queen of heaven and earth, O divine thief of my heart, draw all souls to you and chaining them to your heart virginal by the unbreakable bond of love so pure and so enthusiastic that they no longer live that to love you and please you, now in the shadows of exile, and soon in the splendor of eternal homeland. So be it!

P. Ignatius Mary OFM Imprimatur: Fr Paulus, CP Metis, 16.6.1925. E. Emel, vic. gen. (F. Conrad, Metz)


If you find out more about her, please email me RaisingLittleSaints {at} gmail.com, thank you!
Blessings,
Erika

Homeschooling Day-to-Day: What do I do with babies and toddlers? PART 1

by Melody Lyons


One of the most frequent questions I hear regarding the nuts and bolts of the homeschooling day is “What do I do with my baby and toddler while I’m trying to teach the older children?” Let’s face it, homeschooling mamas are the ultimate multi-taskers. Did you know that I can teach Latin, correct a spelling test, supervise a sewing project, cook dinner, write an article, chase a new crawler and help a toddler go to the bathroom all at the same time? Actually, I can’t do anything of the sort. And that, my friends, seems to be the problem; we are under the illusion that such management brilliance is actually possible.

I thought about detailing here some of the many and varied methods for scheduling infants and distracting toddlers so that the home educating mother can proceed with focused, quiet and well-planned teaching perfection. I thought about it… for about three minutes. I know all the suggestions and I’ve even used some of them. The reality, however, is that I have been only periodically successful because life messy and unpredictable. 

My solution? It’s a good one but can be hard to swallow, particularly for the “type A” personalities among us (you know who you are); but perhaps it can bring someone out there a little bit of peace.

Mothering our children or managing them
As homeschooling mothers, we are charged with the challenging task of managing our homes. This requires a good measure of discipline and planning as well as a tremendous amount of flexibility. Our vocation is a complicated thing and along with being a spiritual reality is also, practically speaking, our job.  Those of us with multiple children find that the day-to-day operations require all of our time and talents. We have an image in our minds of the perfect day and apply ourselves to making it a reality.

Enter the small, developing human beings in our lives. Messy. Testing. Unpredictable. Noisy. Needy. So needy.

This is where we each need to take a step back and examine the way we approach these little needy people. If we are finding ourselves frequently referring to our youngest children as “problems” in our homeschool, then perhaps we are spending too much time trying to manage our children instead of mothering them. There is a certain amount of management necessary within a family but caution is in order when we begin to manage relationships instead of engaging in them.

*Do you find yourself frequently brushing aside your little ones in order to tend to more “important” things or projects?
*Do you often become irritated when a little one approaches you with a need?
*Do  you use television, videos or video games to babysit the littles more than you would like to but feel that you have to in order to “get stuff done”?
*Have you allowed a spirit of resentment toward your children to creep into your heart because their needs are interfering with your plans?

These are questions that we must frequently address and honestly answer for the sake of our children. I find that these attitudes and actions sneak up on me over time when I am not paying attention. Almost anyone can set up a schedule and check off tasks. As homeschooling mothers, we are charged with a much, much greater responsibility.

How can I teach in all this chaos?
If there is actual chaos in your home, then you do need a basic plan and a hearty helping of discipline. But is it really chaos that you are experiencing or just the colorful, messy, noisy beauty of healthy family life? Are you upset because there is actual damage to the learning going on in your home or are you unhappy with the loss of the image of your “dream” school?

If you are homeschooling, then you do have an obligation to educate your children. It is my experience that this learning will happen whether or not there are babies crying, dishes in the sink or toddlers throwing tantrums. Life is not neat and tidy and it is certainly never easy. They will learn in spite of that… and they may learn more of the important things in life because of it.

If you send your children to a local institutional school, your children will be faced with many distractions such as disruptive classmates, fire drills, bells, difficult teachers, hot weather, bullies, assemblies, announcements, etc. Your homeschooled student would not necessarily be less distracted from learning in a school environment… it is really our preferences as home educating moms that are the issue here.

To be continued....



*For a peek into my homeschool and the educational approach that keeps me sane and my children learning, visit me at Blossoming Joy.


Melody is a Catholic mama joyfully seeking truth, sanctity and a clean kitchen amidst the hustle and bustle of her full house. A happy wife and homeschooling mother of six, she is devoted to her vocation while finding bits of time for a few happy distractions. How does a Catholic homeschooling mother manage faith, family, education, creative pursuits, fitness and fellowship? The calendar is set. The reality is flexible. The days are colorful. The dishes are piling. The children are blossoming. The Lord is merciful. Blessed be the Lord! You can share in Melody’s journey of hope and joy at her blog, Blossoming Joy: A Journal of Home Education, Christian Womanhood and the Pursuit of Sanctity.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Time to Restore Order in the Catholic Church

This has got to be the BEST interviews I've read regarding the Church in a long time.  It gives me comfort to know that Rome is ON THIS crisis situation and headed in the right direction.  Whether you like Michael Voris or not, doesn't matter, this message is really from Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy.


Restore Order by Real Catholic TV:





Cardinal Piacenza explains 'crisis' of Catholic priesthood (Catholic Caucus)
cna ^ | October 11, 2011

Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 5:20:58 PM by NYer
Cardinal Mauro Piacenza addressing seminarians in Los Angeles. Credit: Juan Martín Barajas
.- In an exclusive interview, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, addressed the “crisis” in the Catholic priesthood as portrayed by the media and said that each priest must respond by living his vocation faithfully.

As prefect, Cardinal Piacenza has the primary responsibility – after the Pope – of promoting the proper formation of diocesan priests and deacons. He is also responsible for the religious formation of all Catholics, especially through catechesis. 

Cardinal Piacenza was born on Sept. 15, 1944, in Genoa, Italy.  He was ordained a priest on Dec. 21, 1969 and was named president of the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Goods of the Church in October of 2003. Later that year, he was ordained a bishop.

He was named secretary of the Congregation for the Clergy and was ordained an archbishop on May 7, 2007. In October of 2010, he was named prefect of the congregation. Then on Nov. 20, 2010, he was made a cardinal.

Cardinal Piacenza granted an interview to CNA while he was in Los Angeles, Calif., where he was attending a meeting with the archdiocese's priests.
The full interview follows.

CNA:  A series of events and exaggerated reporting by the secular media has created a “crisis,” so to speak, of the image of a Catholic priest. How can we rescue that image for the good of the Church?


Cardenal Piacenza: In Catholic theology, image and reality are never separate. Image is repaired by repairing the interior. We must bring about healing first of all from “within.” We should not be too concerned about how things appear on the outside, but rather about “truly being.” It is easy to identify the dynamics that move these campaigns and the interests behind them.

We must never hide, but wherever necessary, we must recognize mistakes with humility and truthfulness and be willing to repair, whether humanly or spiritually, trusting more in the Lord than in our own poor human strengths. That is how the rescue will come, when a priest is who he is supposed to be: a man of God, a man of the sacred, and a man of prayer and, therefore, completely at the service of others, of their authentic and comprehensive well-being, whether spiritual or material, and of the good of the community as such.

CNA: How can we help Catholics who are disillusioned see that the so-called “sexual scandal” of the Church in no way defines the ministerial priesthood or the Church?

Cardinal Piacenza: On human level it is understandable –  as the Holy Father mentioned during the in-flight interview on his way to Germany – that some might think that they cannot see themselves in a Church in which certain despicable acts occur. However, on that occasion Benedict XVI himself clearly invited us to go to the heart of the nature of the Church, which is the living Body of the Risen Christ that prolongs His existence and salvific action through time.

The horrible sins of a few do not delegitimize the good actions of many, nor do they change the nature of the Church. They certainly weaken her credibility enormously, and therefore we are called to work ceaselessly for the conversion of each person and for that evangelical radicalness and fidelity which should always characterize an authentic minister of Christ. We should remember that in order to be truly believable we have to be true believers.

CNA: Some believe that this “crisis” is another argument in favor of reforming the way the priesthood is lived. For example, the demand for married priests as a solution to both the loneliness priests experience and the lack of priestly vocations. What does “reforming the clergy” really mean in the mind and magisterium of Pope Benedict XVI? 

Cardinal Piacenza: This kind of argument, if it were followed, would create an unprecedented break. The suggested cures would make the disease even worse and would turn the Gospel on its head. The issue is loneliness? Why? Is Christ a ghost?  Is the Church dead or alive? Were the holy priests of centuries past abnormal men? Is holiness a utopia, a matter for a predestined few, or a universal vocation, as the Second Vatican Council reminded us? If the climb is arduous, we should take vitamins, strengthen ourselves, and with great impetus, continue upwards with joy in our hearts.

Vocation means “calling,” and God continues to call, but we need to know how to listen, and in order to listen we must not cover our ears. We need to be silent, we need to see examples and signs and we need to draw close to the Church as the Body in which the encounter with Christ always takes place.

In order to be faithful we must be in love. Obedience, chastity in celibacy, total dedication to the ministry without limits of time or days, are not seen as constrictions if one is truly in love, but rather as the demands of the love that one cannot help but give. They aren’t a bunch of “no’s” but rather one big “yes,” like that of the Virgin Mary at the Annunciation.

The reform of the clergy? It is what I have been calling for since my time as a seminarian and later as a young priest (I am referring to 1968-69), and I am thrilled to hear the Holy Father continually call it one of the most urgent reforms needed in the Church. But let us remember that the reform we are speaking about is Catholic and not “worldly!”
To be extremely brief, we could say that the Pope greatly values a clergy that is truly and humbly proud of its identity and completely absorbed with the gift of grace it has received, and that consequently sees a clear distinction between the “Kingdom of God” and the world. A clergy that is not secularized and does not succumb to the passing fads and ways of the world. A clergy that recognizes, lives and proposes the primacy of God and understands how to bring out all of the consequences that flow from it. This means trusting not so much in structures or in human endeavor but rather, and above all, in the strength of the Spirit.

CNA: There is often talk of “women priests.” In fact, a movement exists in the United States that is demanding that women be made priests and bishops. It claims to have received this mandate from the successors of the apostles.

Cardinal Piacenza: Apostolic tradition in this sense is absolutely unequivocally clear. The great, uninterrupted tradition of the Church has always recognized that the Church has not received the power from Christ to confer ordination on women.

Any other claim smacks of self-justification and is historically and dogmatically unfounded. In any case, the Church cannot “innovate,” simply because she does not have the power to do so in this case.  The Church does not have greater power than Christ!

When we see non-Catholic communities led by women we should not be shocked, because where the ordained priesthood is not recognized, leadership is obviously entrusted to the lay faithful, and in such a case, what’s the difference if that lay faithful is a man or woman? The preference of one over the other would be a mere sociological fact and therefore changeable over time. If they were only men it would be discriminatory. The issue is not between men and women but between ordained faithful and lay faithful, and the Church is hierarchical because Jesus Christ founded it that way.

Priestly ordination, which is particular to the Catholic Church and to the Orthodox churches, is reserved to men, and this is not discrimination against women, but rather a consequence of the unsurpassed historicity of the act of the Incarnation and of the Pauline theology on the mystical body, in which each one has his own role and is sanctified and produces fruit consistent with his own place. 

If this is seen in terms of power, then we are totally off base, because in the Church only the Blessed Virgin Mary is “suppliant omnipotence” like none other, and thus she is more powerful in that sense than St. Peter. But Peter and the Virgin Mary have distinct roles that are both essential. I have heard this in not a few circles of the Anglican Communion as well.

CNA: From the point of view of numbers and quality, how does the Catholic Church look today in comparison with her recent past, and how does the future look?

Cardinal Piacenza: In general, the Catholic Church is growing in the world, especially because of the enormous contributions from the continents of Asia and Africa. These young churches are bringing a great freshness to the faith.

In recent decades – if I could use the expression – we have been playing rugby with the faith, hitting each other and sometimes hurting each other, and in the end no one scores any points.

There have been and there are problems in the Church, but we need to look forward with great hope! Not so much in the name of some naïve or superficial optimism, but rather in the name of the magnificent hope that is Christ, made real in the faith of each person, in the holiness of each person and in the perennial authentic reform of the Church.

If the great event of the Second Vatican Council was a breath of the Spirit that has blown into the world through the windows of the Church, then we need to recognize that a lot of worldliness has also blown in with the Spirit, creating a current and blowing the leaves all over. We’ve seen everything, and yet nothing has been lost, but order must patiently be restored. Order is restored above all by strongly affirming the primacy of the Risen Christ, present in the Eucharist. There is a great peaceful battle to be waged which is that of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, so that the entire world can become part of a network of prayer. United to the holy Rosary, in which we reflect on the salvific mysteries of Christ together with Mary, this will generate and develop a movement of reparation and penetration. 

I dream of a time in which there will not be a single diocese without at least one church or parish where the Sacrament of Love is adored day and night. Love must be loved! In every diocese, and better yet in every city and town, there should be hands raised to heaven pleading for a downpour of mercy upon everyone, those close and those far away, and then everything would change. 

Do you remember what happened when Moses’ hands were raised and what happened when they fell? Jesus has come to bring fire and he wishes for it to burn everywhere in order for the civilization of love to appear. 

This is the climate of the Catholic reform, the climate for the sanctification of the clergy and for the increase in holy priestly and religious vocations. This is the climate for the growth of Christian families that are true domestic churches. [emphasis mine] This is the climate for collaboration from the lay faithful and the clergy.  We must truly believe this, and in the United States there are and always have been many promising resources. Continue forward!