Father Rich Is Leading a Tour to the Holy Land: February 13-23, & An Interview of Fr. James Martin, S. J.

The Holy Land

The Holy Land

As anyone who has ever accompanied Fr. Rich on a tour can tell you, you couldn’t have a better experience than to travel with him.  Here is your opportunity to go on pilgrimage to the sites where our faith began.

Father Rich:


Other than Rome, my favorite place to visit is Israel.  Every four to five years I host a tour of the Holy Land, because I think it is an important opportunity for people to visit the places our Savior lived and died.

My love affair with the Holy Land grew out of my time in the seminary when I spent six months in Israel studying the scriptures.  I am embarrassed to say that before that experience my scripture classes were about my least favorite subject to take in seminary.  After the time I spent in Israel the opposite was true.  Studying the Scriptures came to life and I took as many classes as I possibly could.

Once again on February 13-23, I will be bringing a group of people to the Holy Land.  This trip will be open to the public and will be advertised widely, but here in our parishes first.  I am deliberately choosing February, because that is when the prices are lowest. and also because it is right before we enter into the season of Lent, which is a great way to start that sacred season.

The single most misunderstood aspect of visiting the Holy Land is that people think it is dangerous; the opposite is true.  In fact, I would say it is safer to travel to Israel than it is to just about anywhere because the security is over the top.  I would feel much more secure in Israel than I would walking downtown on First Street.  So if security reasons have prevented you in the past from going to the Holy Land, you can honestly put that to rest.  It is as safe as any place you will visit because of the immense security.

If going to the Holy Land has been on your bucket list, contact the office for a brochure.  I would love to have as many parishioners as possible.—Father Rich

Here is a link to more information about the Holy Land from FR James Martin, author of FR Rich’s latest favorite book, Jesus, A Pilgrimage:

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Jesus A Pilgrimage

Father James Martin, S. J.

Father James Martin, S. J.

Full Episode: December 24, 2015

October 22: The Feast of St. John Paul, & Commentary by Father Rich


john paul ii statue


This weekend, Saturday, October 22nd, is the feast day of my favorite saint Pope John Paul II. I have long been fascinated by the lives of the saints all the way back to high school, and I remember even years ago saying that as soon as John Paul II dies he will automatically be my favorite saint.

The influence he has had in my life is hard to measure, and that is from before I had the opportunity to meet him, which I did on seven different occasions. If it were not for his example, I am not sure I would be a priest today. He made that much of an impact on me.

He was the preeminent priest role model for my generation. I remember when I was in the seminary one of the priests on staff made the comment that if a novelist tried to invent the character of John Paul II, it wouldn’t be believable. His story growing up under Nazi occupation and then Communist rule through most of his life, only to be thrust into the papacy, followed by having one of the most instrumental roles in bringing the Iron Curtain down without the shedding of blood: his life is almost beyond believable.

In the case of this great saint, we certainly see God inspiring the right person at the right time in history for his greater purposes.

St. John Paul II, pray for us.   –Father Rich


First Class Relic of St. John Paul II

First Class Relic of St. John Paul II


September 14: The Exultation of the Holy Cross with Commentary by Fr. Rich

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

Relic of the True Cross of Christ belonging to Pope Clement XI

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is the site in Jerusalem that is built over the site of the crucifixion.  Please read Fr. Rich’s commentary about this ancient chruch.









In Search of the True Cross of Christ: A Commentary by Father Richard Kunst

Father Rich


If you have ever had the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem, you have probably visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, a beautiful and ancient church that is built over the site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Believe it or not, this same church is claimed to have been the tomb of Adam, who, according to tradition, was buried below where the crucifixion took place. This is why so many old crucifixes have a skull and crossbones below Jesus’ feet. According to the ancient tradition, some of Christ’s blood seeped into the ground and touched Adam’s skull, bringing the old Adam to life briefly with the blood of the new Adam.

The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is also associated with another historical event. On the lowest level of this ancient church is a chapel dedicated to St. Helena, mother of Constantine.

This unique chapel is clearly in what was an ancient stone mining area, and the claim is that it’s the site where the saint discovered the true cross on which Christ was crucified. Sept. 14 is the feast day of the Exaltation of the Cross, also known as The Triumph of the Cross. It is the anniversary of St. Helena’s finding the cross of Jesus in the area of this humble little chapel in the bowels of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

The accounts of St. Helena’s finding of the cross do differ in some details, but the basic outline says that when her son the emperor made Christianity legal, she went to the Holy Land to look for relics associated with the life of Christ. Apparently the Jews had torn down the original site on the spot of the current church and buried it with a mound of dirt and rocks.

During the digging, three crosses were found with no markings that showed one of them to be the cross of Christ. So the bishop of Jerusalem, a man named Macarius, claimed to have heard from God that they were to bring the three crosses to the bedside of a woman who was at the point of death and touch the crosses to her body. The third cross cured her. By means of this miracle, the saint determined that the cross that cured the woman was indeed the true cross Jesus died on.

From there St. Helena took the true cross (along with other relics she found) back to Rome, where a church was built to house them. To this day you can go to Rome and visit the church of Santa Croce in Gerusalemme and see the relics St. Helena collected.

Since that time, the church has often distributed small slivers of the cross that St. Helena found to monasteries, bishops, royalty and others for the devotion of the faithful. But over time it seemed as though so many of these relics were distributed that, as the 16th century humanist Erasmus said, “if all the fragments were collected together, they would appear to form a fair cargo for a merchant ship.”

That comment from Erasmus was the impetus for an investigation of the known relics by a 19th-century French scholar named Charles de Fluery. De Fluery was determined to discover exactly how much of the supposed true cross really was distributed. De Fluery’s findings were surprising for even the most ardent supporters of the relics.

He calculated the entire cross to weigh approximately 220 pounds and have a volume of 10,900 cubic inches. After exhaustive research and travel to all the known shrines that claimed relics of the cross, his findings were that the total volume that he had measured came to 240 cubic inches. Surprised himself by this finding, he estimated quite liberally that the smaller fragments in private hands were 10 times the known larger fragments, coming to the figure of 2,400 cubic inches, which was less than 20 percent the estimated size of the cross Jesus would have been crucified on. De Fluery came to the tested conclusion that the surviving fragments of the true cross could not possibly be large enough in volume to crucify a man on.

All this being said, there is still room for some valid skepticism. No doubt there are a lot of spurious relics out there that are a cause of skepticism. Like any relic, relics of the true cross need to have valid documentation before they can be venerated in a public setting. Perhaps we should take President Ronald Reagan’s advice to “trust but verify” when it comes to relics claiming to be from the true cross of Christ.

Still, these relics are meant to move us more towards faith than skepticism. So if you see one of these purported relics, it is better to pray than to doubt.

Early in the fourth century St. Helena, mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, went to Jerusalem in search of the holy places of Christ’s life. She razed the second-century Temple of Aphrodite, which tradition held was built over the Savior’s tomb, and her son built the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher over the tomb. During the excavation, workers found three crosses. Legend has it that the one on which Jesus died was identified when its touch healed a dying woman.

The cross immediately became an object of veneration. At a Good Friday celebration in Jerusalem toward the end of the fourth century, according to an eyewitness, the wood was taken out of its silver container and placed on a table together with the inscription Pilate ordered placed above Jesus’ head: Then “all the people pass through one by one; all of them bow down, touching the cross and the inscription, first with their foreheads, then with their eyes; and, after kissing the cross, they move on.”

To this day the Eastern Churches, Catholic and Orthodox alike, celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross on the September anniversary of the basilica’s dedication. The feast entered the Western calendar in the seventh century after Emperor Heraclius recovered the cross from the Persians, who had carried it off in 614, 15 years earlier. According to the story, the emperor intended to carry the cross back into Jerusalem himself, but was unable to move forward until he took off his imperial garb and became a barefoot pilgrim.

The cross is today the universal image of Christian belief. Countless generations of artists have turned it into a thing of beauty to be carried in procession or worn as jewelry. To the eyes of the first Christians, it had no beauty. It stood outside too many city walls, decorated only with decaying corpses, as a threat to anyone who defied Rome’s authority—including Christians who refused sacrifice to Roman gods. Although believers spoke of the cross as the instrument of salvation, it seldom appeared in Christian art unless disguised as an anchor or the Chi-Rho until after Constantine’s edict of toleration.  —Father Richard Kunst

The Northern Cross: What Can I do to Help My Children Stay Catholic

Father Mike Schmitz

Father Mike Schmitz

The following column from the September 2016 issue of the Northern Cross is being used with the permission of Father Mike Schmitz.  It is a subject that is pertinent to Catholic parents and contains, some very power things you can choose to do that will make a difference in your children’s lives.

We thank Father Mike for his willingness to allow us to re-print his column here.






Father Mike Schmitz:

The Question:

I keep trying to do all that I can to help our children know of God’s love for them.  I want them to be truly “Catholic”; not merely in name, but as their deepest identity.  In the face of a seemingly hostile culture, what can I do?


Thank you so much for asking about this.  While there are no fool-proof “strategies” for passing along the Faith to your children, there are some very powerful things that you can choose to do that will make a difference in your children’s lives (and their eternities).  In fact, I will name four here.

First, teach your children how to pray.  I have a friend who lamented the fact that, as Catholics, we “have been taught how to repeat, not how to pray”.  I don’t know if you are aware of this, but a recent study indicated that upwards of 47% of Catholics in America state that they are not absolutely certain that a personal relationship with God is ever possible.  Reflect on that for a moment.  The entire basis of Catholicism is centered around the fact that God broke into this world in Jesus Christ, and that He continues to animate and engage us through the Holy Spirit on a moment-by-moment basis.  As Catholics, we have unprecedented access to the Father.  And it has even been revealed that God is not some distant “power”, but that He has become our Father when we were made His children through Baptism!  And yet, almost half of the Catholics in this country are not aware that we can have a personal relationship with Him.  Teach your children how to pray.  Teach them that God is their Father and show them how you talk to Him.

Second, speaking of fathers, there is something that is often entirely missed in our culture: the power of a father’s blessing.  Dads, bless your children.  Did you know that, in God’s original plan for the people of Israel, every father of a family was the priest of the family?  At the golden calf incident, this was obscured and in many ways lost.  But in the new covenant, the father of the family is the priest of the “domestic church” (aka “the family”).  This means that there is power in a father’s blessing.  This was brought home to me in a real way when I was having a conversation with a priest who is an exorcist in another diocese.  He described to me the case of a young woman who had been cursed by her father.  While the exorcism was freeing her through the power of Jesus Christ, there was a bunch of “push back” because her father continued to curse his own daughter.  He noted how powerful that curse was because it was her father who was doing it.  After staring at him in shock that a dad would do that, a thought suddenly came to my mind.  I said, “If that is the case with a father’s curse, what does that mean if a dad blesses his child in the Name of Jesus?”  He looked at me and said, “You can’t imagine the power of grace that a dad’s blessing has over his children.”  Fathers, pronounce the blessing of God over your children.  It can be a simple sign of the Cross traced on their foreheads…or if they are far away from you, raising your hand in their direction and praying, “Bless you in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  It might not be “Sacramental” in the way a priest’s blessing is, but it is part of the “primordial sacrament”.

Third, there is very little can compete with an authentic witness to Jesus Christ and His Church.  When moms and dads give witness that they truly strive to live what we profess on Sundays, there is power.  This does not mean being overly strict or demanding with one’s own children.  In fact, St. John Paul testifies to the authentic witness of his own father.  He wrote, “The mere fact of seeing [my father] on his knees had a decisive influence on my early years. He was so hard on himself that he had no need to be hard on his son; his example alone was sufficient to inculcate discipline and a sense of duty. He was an exceptional person.”   He went on to state, “…his example was in a way my first seminary”.  For another incredible example, Saint John of the Cross cited his mother and her willingness to raise him and his brother in the Faith despite the great sacrifices she had to make in order to be Catholic.  It was her example that inspired him and his brother.  Many mothers have had that sanctifying effect on their children. 

Fourth, we must not underestimate the power of prayer.  As many people know, Saint Augustine was absolutely opposed to the Catholic Faith of his mom in his early years.  An incredibly bright young person, he seemed to delight in throwing his mom’s faith in her face (and seemed to despise her desire to share Christ with him!).  But she remained steadfast in prayer.  But here is something we often overlook: she did not merely “throw up a few prayers”.  She begged God on behalf of both of her sons.  She prayed.  She fasted.  She was so vigilant in her prayers that Saint Ambrose once famously told her, “As you live, it is impossible that the child of such tears should perish.”  A father’s blessing is powerful.  A mother’s prayers have power as well.  If you desire this conversion, be gentle with your child, but be strict with yourself.  This might mean fasting for them.  The spirit of this age is alive and well.  It can often only be driven out of your children with prayer and fasting.  Fast for your children.  This might be a fasting from food.  But it can be any mortification.  Offer up your grief and your sufferings for your children.  You can even ask God to accept whatever suffering you experience as you age and approach death for the salvation and sanctification of your children. 

You may not see the fruit of these four powerful tools in your life.  But you are a person who knows that there is more to this life.  Do not lose heart.  Never lose heart.  God desires the salvation of your children even more than you do.  Trust in Him.

in Christ.



A Message from Father Rich about the Rich Tradition of the Holy Year of Mercy

The following column was written by Father Rich at the beginning of the Holy Year of Mercy.  We are re-printing it for you towards the end of this Holy Year and invite you to read it and view the documentary recommended below.  A trailer is provided and some information about it, too.

Don’t miss history being made in Holy Year of Mercy



Last December, 2015, was  the start of a pretty big deal. Several months beforehand, Pope Francis announced the Holy Year of Mercy, starting Dec. 8 and running through 2016.

A Holy Year is very different from other themed years. You may remember the Year of St. Paul or the Year of Consecrated Life just concluding. These and others like them are simply different themes the recent popes have asked the church to focus on in any given year, but a Holy Year is a completely different animal with much greater significance.

When Pope Boniface called the first Christian Jubilee in 1300, he intended to keep the same biblical themes of forgiveness and the remission of sins. So too, Pope Francis has called for this to remain the same for the new Holy Year, which we will commence this month.Though the first Catholic Holy Year was established by Pope Boniface VIII for 1300, the concept of the Holy Year goes back to the Old Testament, when every 50th year was a year of “Yobel” (meaning “ram’s horn”), because the special year was proclaimed by the blast of the ram’s horns. In these years, slaves were to go free and debts were to be forgiven. In the Christian era, the word “Yobel” was transliterated to “Jubileus” (“jubilee”), meaning “joyous festivity.”

There are two types of Holy Years, “ordinary” and “extraordinary.” An ordinary Holy Year is one on the regular interval of every 25 years, so the next ordinary Holy Year will be in the year 2025. This 25-year interval was established by Pope Paul II in 1475. Before that, there was no set rule for the frequency.

Then there is the very rare extraordinary Holy Year, which is called outside that normal interval. We have had three previous extraordinary Holy Years in all of church history: 1390, 1933 and 1983 — and now 2016.

As far as the ordinary Holy Years, there have been occasions throughout history in which they were either suspended or greatly curtailed for political reasons in which the church was threatened. For example, 1825 was the only Holy Year of the nineteenth century in which the Holy Door was opened.

The primary symbol of the Holy Year is the Holy Door, which is strictly symbolic, showing that God’s mercy is open to everyone who seeks it. These Holy Doors are in each of the four major basilicas in Rome, and they are always bricked up and closed off except during the Holy Year.

The most significant of the doors is at St. Peter’s Basilica, but the other three major basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Major and St. Paul Outside the Walls have the same tradition. Each of these churches will have an ancient ritual played out to open the Holy Year. In the case of St. Peter’s, it will be the pope symbolically knocking on the door (often with a hammer) to open it. At each of other three major basilicas, a cardinal will do the same.

One of the other ancient traditions associated with the Holy Year is the acquiring of Holy Year bricks. There are approximately 3,000 bricks blocking the Holy Door of St. Peter’s.

In the early years of the celebration, when the pope and his assistants would open the sacred door at the beginning of the year there would be a frenzy by the public, scrambling to acquire full bricks or even portions of bricks relics. Often people would get hurt in this scramble, and at times even the pope got caught up in the crowd. For the opening of the Holy Year of 1575, eight people actually got trampled to death, and several of the pilgrims got through the door before Pope Gregory XIII did!

In recent years the Holy See has chosen different methods of distribution to avoid the unseemly behavior that may seem more like “Black Friday” shopping than an ancient papal ritual.

As a personal aside, I have a brick from every Holy Year since 1775 in my papal collection, as can be seen on http://www.papalartifacts.com/

So, early this month we will be able to witness history being made in the truest sense of the term, and although it may be a blip on the screen to the secular media, it is indeed monumental in the life of the church.

May this extraordinary Holy Year of Mercy inspire all of us to give thanks to God for his great mercy shown to us, and then in turn show it to others.

About the Documentary Featured Here:

Jubilee, 700 Years of Seeking Forgiveness

Jubilee, 700 Years of Seeking Forgiveness

Having recently viewed this incredible documentary, Jubilee, 700 Years Seeking Forgiveness, I can honestly say I cannot recommend it highly enough.  I was literally spellbound by the amount of detail and stunning images of the major basilicas in Rome and by the history of the Jubilee.  Watching it did more to acquaint me with a major tradition of our Church, that most of us probably are not aware of, than anything else I’ve read or heard about it.  You will know you’ve been in the presence of a holy celebration afterwards.  And here we are, in this Jubilee of Mercy, with the chance to participate in it, even on a diocesan level, for our own Cathedral has a Holy Door, where we might pass into sacred space to partake of this beautiful tradition.
Please take the time to watch the trailer and consider buying or renting the documentary.  You will be satisfied!
This is not just any year in Rome. Thousands of pilgrims are coming to the heart of Christianity because it is the Holy Year of Mercy. The tradition, dating back more than seven centuries,  now has a documentary.
“This is Pope Francis’ first Holy Year so 700 years of Jubilee traditions are being collected, but with their own label: the Jubilee of Mercy.”
The documentary by television news agency, Rome Reports, delves into the origins of the Jubilee, from its first announcement in the year 1300 by Pope Boniface VIII to the extraordinary Jubilee this year.
“I grant a plenary indulgence to all Christians who come to Rome to visit the great shrines of St. Peter and St. Paul.”
To enrich the story, here is a collection of some of the most authoritative voices, including the spokesman for Pope John Paul II, the organizer of this Jubilee and the Vatican Secret Archives historian who discovers some clues hidden so far within the depths of history.
“The world knows nothing of these documents because no one has studied them in depth. Researchers have been carried away by the charm of that magical air and mystery.”
The almost 50-minute documentary delves into the problems Jubilees have faced throughout history, from floods in Rome to political problems with the new Italian state.
“On one side external religious manifestations were forbidden, they could not hold processions, parades, nothing religious in the streets of the city.”
The story reaches the last Jubilees, with the success of years 1950 and 2000, and the special emotion that a sick John Paul II found in Rome with millions of young people.
It also explains the novelty of this Holy Year of Mercy in comparison to all previous Jubilees.
‘Jubilee: 700 years seeking forgiveness’ can be seen on Vimeo in English, Spanishand Italian. It is a way to comprehend the great historical weight of this celebration for the Church before passing through the Holy Door.


A Message from Duluth Area Catholic Schools: Called to Be One

Called to Be One Logo

Called to Be One Logo

Called To Be One, is a project of the Duluth Area Catholic Schools in support of Catholic school education in Duluth.  Bishop Paul Sirba announced the formation of this project in aletter to all Duluth Area Catholic School families.  As the letter states, the project was commissioned to produce a plan that will unify the Duluth Area Catholic Schools into one school that uses multiple campuses and offers a continuum of Catholic education from Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade.  The project will also work to support the growth of Catholic school education across all of the Diocese of Duluth.

Your input is a key component in the planning process.  There are three ways that you can directly contribute to the future of Catholic education in Duluth; First, please take the survey found here.  The survey will take 20-30 minutes to complete and will be used throughout the planning process.  Second, register and attend one of the planning retreats, September 24th (register here) or November 12th (register here) at St. James in Duluth.  Third, please pray for the future of Catholic education in the Diocese of Duluth.  Your prayers matter.

Here is a link to all the information regarding this update:


Papal Minutes, the Papal Expert & the RPR Network

FR Hankshake 3 Kiss

A new Catholic radio station in our area, the RPR Network (www.yourcatholicradiostation.com) is featuring the Curator of Papal Artifacts in a series entitled, Papal Minutes with Fr. Richard Kunst.

All the Minutes (with the exception of Pope Benedict XIV) are connected to popes on Papal Artifacts.  They include some details we’ve not included in the past–for example, what occurred from a window in the Vatican just prior to the election of Pope Pius X?  Giuseppe Sarto’s surname is translated, “tailor.”  You can find out by accessing the above link.  

Enjoy the Papal Minutesa gift from the Curator of Papal Artifacts!

A gift from our Pastor!

And here is a link to the  RPR interview with Father Kunst on April 19: ( go to 43.00 minutes  to access Father’s interview.)


WWEN, 88.1 FM: RPR Is Featuring Father Rich’s “Papal Minutes”

July 24: The Feast of St. Charbel, & Fr. Rich’s Commentary

Saint Charbel Makhlouf

Saint Charbel Makhlouf

St. Charbel, A Role Model About Preparation for Eucharist

When Pope John Paul the Great was criticized for canonizing so many saints, he acknowledged that he did, indeed, deliberately raise more saints to the altar than any of his predecessors, because he believed we are living in a time that needs saints as witnesses more than ever.  There have been books written about the people he canonized and beatified, and it is quite refreshing to read about many of them, because we can identify with people from our own era who lived a heroic faith life. 

As much as I like hagiography, the study of the saints, I have to admit that many of them, living in a different era, seem to be a bit untouchable, or even unreal.  In many cases they became “kitsch,” entering so much into the piety of worldwide Catholicism that they became little more than statues.  I am reminded of St. Therese of Lisieux who has rightly been called the greatest saint of modern times.  Her statue seems to be in a majority of churches, but I’d like to know how many people in the pews actually know anything about her life. 

I very much enjoy reading about those who lived seemingly normal yet holy lives.  They were simply examples of the Gospel, lived.  However, we can also learn something from the “untouchable” saints, those who for whatever reason seem otherworldly to us.  In the month of July we have one such saint.  On October 9th, 1977, Pope Paul VI canonized a Lebanese Maronite Rite monk, Charbel (or Sharbel)) Makhlouf.  While very few saints are honored with a place on the universal liturgical calendar, St. Charbel is one who is so revered that he does, indeed, have a feast day, which we celebrate on July 24th.

St. Charbel was born in 1828 in Northern Lebanon.  In 1859 he became a priest with particularly strong devotions, both to the Blessed Mother and even more so for the Eucharist.  For the last decades of his life, he was a hermit, living in the mountains in complete poverty. This austere behavior is one of the reasons he seems to be untouchable: how many of us can identify with a Lebanese Maronite monk, living in complete solitude, eating hardly anything, and all the while performing miracles?  Probably not many of us.  Yet it is St. Charbel’s prayer practice that makes him even more unique, while at the same time giving us an incredibly relevant example.

St. Charbel’s life was centered on the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass, and this devotion intensified in his last twenty years.  He would regularly celebrate Mass at noon, but he would awaken eight to ten hours beforehand to pray continuously in preparation for receiving Christ in the Eucharist.  Imagine!  Ten hours of prayer in preparation to receive Communion!    But it doesn’t end there.  Afterwards, he would spend another eight to ten hours in a prayer of thanksgiving for having received the Eucharist! 

The Eucharist was literally the center of his life, and everything else revolved around it.  This seems to add to his otherworldly status; who among us could do something like that, day in and day out for decades?  Who among us would want to?  And yet, what a beautiful example!

Reflecting on the life of St. Charbel calls to mind a common frustration among my brother priests and me.  On a regular basis, many people come into Mass late.   Often they are so late they miss one or two of the readings.  It is even more common for whole portions of the church to be empty after communion.  While we are happy that these people at least come to Mass, think of the contrast between our experience and that of St. Charbel, who would spend hours in prayer both before and after receiving communion. 

We would never go to a movie late, or leave before the story was over.  Why in the world, then, would we do that with the Divine Liturgy where heaven and earth meet?

St. Alphonsus de’ Liguori (1696-1787), born 130 years before St. Charbel, believed that if we didn’t receive our first communion until we turned 100, we would still not have sufficient time to prepare.  At another time, he said that once we receive communion, twelve angels surround us, worshiping what we just consumed.  Obviously, that is not dogma, but it is food for thought if we are tempted to leave Mass early.

The saints are always icons of having lived the Gospels, including those who seem to be so different from us.  St. Charbel is a great example of this.  I pray to him that through his intercession more people will grow in awe and reverence for Christ’s Eucharistic presence.  —Father Rich

St. Charbel, pray for us!

Blessed Pope Paul VI canonized Charbel Makhluf on October 9, 1977.

Copyright Image

Here is a link to the official website of Saint Sharbel Makhluf whose feast day is July 24th:


Father Rich’s Apologetics Column for July 2016: St. Mary Magdalene

Relic of St. Mary Magdalen

Relic of St. Mary Magdalen

Pope Elevates Memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to Feast Day


Recognizing St. Mary Magdalene’s role as the first to witness Christ’s resurrection and as a “true and authentic evangelizer,” Pope Francis raised the July 22 memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to a feast on the church’s liturgical calendar, the Vatican announced.

A decree formalizing the decision was published by the Congregation for Divine Worship June 10 along with an article explaining its significance.

Both the decree and the article were titled “Apostolorum Apostola” (“Apostle of the Apostles”).

In the article for the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Arthur Roche, secretary of the congregation, wrote that in celebrating “an evangelist who proclaims the central joyous message of Easter,” St. Mary Magdalene’s feast day is a call for all Christians to “reflect more deeply on the dignity of women, the new evangelization and the greatness of the mystery of divine mercy.”

“Pope Francis has taken this decision precisely in the context of the Jubilee of Mercy to highlight the relevance of this woman who showed great love for Christ and was much loved by Christ,” Archbishop Roche wrote.

While most liturgical celebrations of individual saints during the year are known formally as memorials, those classified as feasts are reserved for important events in Christian history and for saints of particular significance, such as the Twelve Apostles.

In his apostolic letter “Dies Domini” (“The Lord’s Day), St. John Paul II explained that the “commemoration of the saints does not obscure the centrality of Christ, but on the contrary extols it, demonstrating as it does the power of the redemption wrought by him.”

Preaching about St. Mary Magdalene, Pope Francis highlighted Christ’s mercy toward a woman who was “exploited and despised by those who believed they were righteous,” but she was loved and forgiven by him.

Her tears at Christ’s empty tomb are a reminder that “sometimes in our lives, tears are the lenses we need to see Jesus,” the pope said April 2, 2013, during Mass in his residence, the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Pope Francis also mentions her specifically in the prayer he composed for the Year of Mercy: “Your loving gaze freed Zacchaeus and Matthew from being enslaved by money; the adulteress and Magdalene from seeking happiness only in created things; made Peter weep after his betrayal, and assured paradise to the repentant thief.”

Archbishop Roche explained that in giving St. Mary Magdalene the honor of being the first person to see the empty tomb and the first to listen to the truth of the resurrection, “Jesus has a special consideration and mercy for this woman, who manifests her love for him, looking for him in the garden with anguish and suffering.”

Drawing a comparison between Eve, who “spread death where there was life,” and St. Mary Magdalene, who “proclaimed life from the tomb, a place of death,” the archbishop said her feast day is a lesson for all Christians to trust in Christ who is “alive and risen.”

“It is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman has the same level of feast given to the celebration of the apostles in the general Roman calendar and highlights the special mission of this woman who is an example and model for every woman in the church.”  —Father Rich


Coming Soon to Our Parish Library: Liberating a Continent

Liberating a Continent John Paul II

Liberating a Continent
John Paul II

St. John’s library will soon acquire this documentary about Saint John Paul’s role in the collapse of communism.  Please take a moment to view the trailer featured below.  And if you’re interested in viewing this production, either with a group or individually, let our secretary, Anny, know you’d like to be on a list.  722.6332

One of history’s greatest examples of the triumph of spiritual power over violence and oppression is vividly recounted in Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism, a new documentary film that poignantly captures the intricate role played by John Paul in the collapse of communism and the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe.

Featuring the unique insights of intellectual and cultural leaders such as papal biographer George Weigel, esteemed Polish historian Norman Davies, Pontifical John Paul II Institute Vice President Carl Anderson, John Paul’s lifelong assistant Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Reagan National Security Advisor Richard Allen, and many others, this inspiring film gives an inside look at the improbable downfall of one of history’s most brutal regimes.

Narrated by Jim Caviezel (Passion of the Christ, Person of Interest) and with original music by Joe Kraemer (Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Jack Reacher) this is the incredible story of one man’s unwavering faith born of deep personal suffering, his steadfast defense of the dignity of the human person amidst the horrors of Nazi and Soviet Occupation, and his unyielding belief in the spiritual unity of Europe. Liberating a Continent convincingly reveals how these convictions toppled an evil empire and how they remain today the moral foundations for a prosperous and free Europe.


Here is a link to the home page of this production:




Liberating a Continent

Liberating a Continent