A papal prayer for Memorial Day

MONTECASSINO — Pope Benedict XVI yesterday paid a visit to the Polish military cemetery in Montecassino, Italy. The prayer he recited there for all those who have fallen in any war seems appropriate to share today when the United States marks Memorial Day.

Here is the English translation of the pope’s prayer from the Vatican Information Service:

O God, our Father,

endless source of life and peace,

welcome into Your merciful embrace

the fallen of the war that raged here,

the fallen of all wars that have bloodied the earth.

Grant that they may enjoy the light that does not fail,

which, in the reflection of Your splendor,

illumines the consciences of all men and women of good will.

You, Who in Your Son Jesus Christ gave suffering humanity

a glorious witness of Your love for us,

You, Who in our Lord Christ

gave us the sign of a suffering that is never in vain,

but fruitful in Your redeeming power,

grant those who yet suffer

for the blind violence of fratricidal wars

the strength of the hope that does not fade,

the dream of a definitive civilization of life,

the courage of a real and daily activity of peace.

Give us your Paraclete Spirit

so that the men of our time

may understand that the gift of peace

is much more precious than any corruptible treasure,

and that while awaiting the day that does not end

we are all called to be builders of peace for the future of Your children.

Make all Christians more convinced witnesses of life,

the inestimable gift of Your love,

You Who live and reign for ever and ever


Exhibit tells Catholic veteran’s story

Edward Haider, a parishioner at St. Rose of Lima in Roseville, Minn.,  is one of many Minnesotans from World War II whose story is included in a new multimedia exhibit at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul called “Minnesota’s Greatest Generation: The Depression, The War, The Boom.”

In a simulated aircraft, museum visitors can get a sense of Haider’s experience as a paratrooper in a C-47 aircraft during the 1943 U.S. invasion of Sicily. Read more here in The Catholic Spirit, archdiocesan newspaper of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Christian exodus from Holy Land is an old story with new urgency

Pope Benedict XVI waves to journalists as he takes in the panoramic view from Mount Nebo In Madaba, Jordan, May 9.  (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

Pope Benedict XVI waves to journalists as he takes in the panoramic view from Mount Nebo In Madaba, Jordan, May 9. (CNS/Greg Tarczynski)

During Pope Benedict XVI’s apostolic trip to the Holy Land earlier this month, the pope time and again encouraged the small communities of Christians living there to remain faithful to their ancient beliefs and to their homeland. Both are serious pleas, but the latter especially so in these times. The flight of Christians from the Middle East has been a serious problem for decades. Christians, who have shared the Levant with Jews, Muslims and Druze for centuries, and were once the majority religious group in Lebanon, are now a dwindling minority in every region of the Middle East. The phenomenon was a considerable part of the CNS coverage of the trip.

The cover story of this month’s National Geographic is on the exodus of Christians from the Holy Land. Don Belt, the senior editor for foreign affairs, teamed up with photojournalist Ed Kashi to tell a bittersweet story in words and images on the “Forgotten Faithful” in the Levant. Their work illustrates the turbulent history of Christianity in these lands and the hope — and sometimes hopelessness — that fill the lives of the Christian families.

35-3-cover-315x450The Catholic Near East Welfare Association is a pontifical agency founded early in the last century to assist the Eastern Catholic churches and their works, especially in the Middle East. In this month’s issue of CNEWA’s One magazine, writer Daoud Kuttab and photographer Nader Daoud take a look at how one community of Christians, St. Pius X parish in Madaba, Jordan, works for peace among all peoples in their country.

Madaba is an ancient town outside of the Jordanian capital of Amman which Jewish and Christian tradition holds as the site where Moses was buried. In his trip Pope Benedict visited the town and blessed the cornerstone of a new Catholic university, the first in Jordan, being built by the Latin Patriarchate with the support of King Abdullah and the Jordanian government.

Even as Christians depart the Middle East in record numbers, the work of the church goes on.

Saying a prayer for maritime workers

Today is the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Mariners and People of the Sea.

The day was established by the U.S. bishops in November 2005 to encourage U.S. Catholics to support, pray and remember those who work in the maritime world. Recent stories about piracy remind us all how dangerous that work can be.

Today’s observance also highlights the Catholic Church’s Apostleship of the Sea ministry. The apostleship is a worldwide Catholic ministry that provides spiritual help and practical assistance to seafarers, their families  and all people of the sea. According to the U.S. bishops’ conference, there are apostleship chaplains and their ministry teams in 49 dioceses in 61 maritime posts. 

Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah, Ga.,  promoter of the apostleship, called on all dioceses to mark the special day of prayer “for the well-being and safety of maritime personnel, the vital role maritime workers play in the transport of goods by the waterways and the lives that have been lost at sea.”

The day of prayer falls on the National Maritime Day observance, which commemorates the first transatlantic crossing by the steamship Savannah in 1819.

2009 graduates ready for any storm

No one needed to give the 2009 graduating class from Xavier University of Louisiana and Loyola University New Orleans advice about weathering storms.

The students, who started their freshman year just days before Hurricane Katrina ripped through New Orleans, were scattered across the country as “The Big Easy” remained underwater and struggled to get back on its feet.

When classes finally resumed, many of the college students returned and now live to tell the tale of Katrina survival.

Xavier’s senior class aptly took the theme “From Storm to Stage” for their graduating year. At Loyola University’s May 9 graduation, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told graduates to wear the moniker “Katrina class” with pride because it speaks of their determination, endurance and commitment.

Graduation scaled back by swine flu

While schools across the country have periodically closed because of the swine flu outbreak, some colleges canceled their graduation ceremonies or altered the events by segregating ill students, banning traditional handshakes and keeping plenty of hand sanitizer at the ready.

St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary, Wis., a boarding school for boys 60 miles from Milwaukee, held a private graduation ceremony for its 46 graduates May 15. Guests, including all family members, were not allowed to attend since two students had been diagnosed with the flu and nearly 60 had experienced flu symptoms.

Sam Lucero, editor of  The Compass, newspaper of the Green Bay Diocese, was one of the parents barred from personally seeing his son get his diploma, although he could watch it on streaming video or on the DVD copy of the ceremony each parent was given.

Lucero writes about the the missing graduation in the newspaper’s blog, noting that at this school in particular, students come from across the U.S. and several other countries so there was plenty of disappointment across the board, especially among parents who had traveled quite a  distance to be there.

UPDATE: You can watch a Green Bay TV station’s story (after a brief commercial) on the Lucero family watching the graduation via computer here.

Oblate priest reported safe in Sri Lankan camp

A man rests on a mat as other Tamil civilians and their children sit near their belongings in a refugee camp located on the outskirts of the town of Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka May 4. (CNS photo/Reuters)

A man rests on a mat as other Tamil civilians and their children sit near their belongings in a refugee camp located on the outskirts of the town of Vavuniya in northern Sri Lanka May 4. (CNS photo/Reuters)

Oblate Father Saviripillai Edmund Reginald was reported May 21 to be safe with his parents in a government-run camp near the city of of Vavuniya, Sri Lanka.

He was able to get a message to family members outside of the country that he escaped the war zone where the final battle between Sri Lankan military forces and the Tamil Tiger rebels took place May 18. He had not been heard from since May 14.

Oblate Father Seamus Finn, the U.S. director of the Missionary Oblates’ justice, peace and integrity of creation program in Washington, said telephone calls are monitored and restrictions remain on the movement of the Tamil minority in the northern region of the country, especially those confined to the camps.

Concern remains for the future of the Tamil people, an ethnic group native to Tamil Nadu on the Indian subcontinent and the northeastern part of Sri Lanka, off the southeast coast of India. Tamils had sought an independent state in Sri Lanka for more than 50 years, and rebel factions initiated military action in 1983 with that goal in mind.

CNS will continue to report on the Catholic Church’s attempts to aid in recovery efforts and to assure that the human rights of the Tamil people are protected.