Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pope upholds primacy of Gregorian chant :: EWTN News

Pope Benedict XVI has reminded church musicians of the primacy of Gregorian chant in the Mass, describing it “as the supreme model of sacred music.”

Read more:
Pope upholds primacy of Gregorian chant :: EWTN News

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day and the Saints

Private John Steele on a church 
in Sainte Mere Englise.
An effigy of the paratrooper still hangs on
the church today!

In honor of Memorial Day this year, I went with two of the best people I know to visit the Armed Forces Military Museum in Largo Florida. The trip was well worth the 2 hour drive as the museum was fantastic and exceeded all of our expectations. The exhibits were very well done and I will definitely be visiting again soon!

Being a veteran myself, the visit was especially meaningful and added an additional dynamic to the whole experience. The museum was educational in a historical respect, but I also felt as if I was learning about family members that I had not previously met. The shared experience of serving in combat seems to create a unique bond that transcends time and even nationalities.

Being a Catholic, as it turns out, unexpectedly added yet another dynamic that quickly turned my thoughts from the "Band of Brothers" to the "Communion of Saints."

 As we made our way through the exhibits we began to notice an interesting, and pretty awesome, trend. There were Catholic prayer books and rosaries among the personal effects of veterans from each time period displayed. These devotional items belonged to faithful Catholics who served in combat anytime from World War I to the War in Iraq.

The shared experience of combat among these veterans establishes a unique and substantial bond, yet it is incomparable to "the faith of the Church, received from the apostles. Faith is a treasure of life which is enriched by being shared" (CCC #949). They are members of the body of Christ. The faith of these veterans draws them into a supernatural communion of charity in which "none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together...In this solidarity with all men, living or dead, which is founded on the communion of saints, the least of our acts done in charity redounds to the profit of all" (CCC #953). The natural inclination to honor and remember our veterans who have sacrificed so much reinforces the orthodox Catholic teaching on the communion of saints.

World War II  Europe

War in Afghanistan

World War II Pacific Theater

World War I

Korean War

This was my grandfather's.
 I had it with me during the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan. 

Thank you to all veterans.
Thank you to all Saints.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Fr Barron: Papal Infallibility & Sunday's Homily

Listen to Fr. Barron's Homily for Sunday, May 29th. Sermon 542 : The Spirit of Power and of Truth : 6th Sunday of Easter

The Scriptures for this Sunday offer some glimpse of the Holy Spirit in advance of the great feast of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit is the heavenly grace that enlivens the Church in all aspects of its mission.

Listen live via streaming here.
Download homily here.

Catholic Answers Live Schedule: May 30-Jun 3

Are you interested in a specific topic? You can search the Catholic Answers Live show archives here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Brent Stubbs to be on the Journey Home

Brent will soon be in the "hot seat" telling his conversion story to Marcus Grodi and the world when he appears as a guest on the Journey Home on EWTN. Congratulations, Brent!

Read about it here: I'll Be on EWTN!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Grace Builds on Nature

Mark P. Shea

In his Letters to an American Lady, on November 10, 1952, C. S. Lewis wrote:
I believe that, in the present divided state of Christendom, those who are at the heart of each division are all closer to one another than those who are at the fringes. I would even carry this beyond the borders of Christianity: how much more one has in common with a real Jew or Muslim than with a wretched liberalising, occidentalised specimen of the same categories.

I think Lewis has a point. One of the things our faith teaches us is that grace builds on nature — that God begins with the human “raw material” He creates and, if you will, co-creates us via the risky business of giving us free will. Accordingly, human beings have spread out across the globe in a vast array of cultures (including religious cultures) that respond to Christ in a vast assortment of ways. (And yes, if Paul on the Areopagus has anything to teach us, it is that non-Christians, when they respond to the “light that lightens every man,” are, in some sense, responding to Christ, though very imperfectly. If it were not so, Paul would have told pagans to abandon their pursuit of the Unknown God, not identified the Unknown God as Jesus Christ [Acts 17].)

Within the Catholic communion, in which the fullness of Christ’s revelation subsists, we see a host of different sorts of spirituality and piety. A Franciscan is not a Dominican is not a Jesuit is not Carmelite, but all are Catholic (giving rise to a host of Catholic intramural jokes, such as the interview I once saw with a Franciscan who noted that “Dominicans are great preachers and Jesuits are brilliant, but when it comes to humility we’re tops”).
 Click here to keep reading (Link to article)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Fifth Mark of the Chruch

One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic.....and Papal communciations with outer space.

Full text of conversation :

Dear astronauts,

I am very happy to have this extraordinary opportunity to converse with you during your mission. I am especially grateful to be able to speak to so many of you, as both crews are present on the Space Station at this time.

Humanity is experiencing a period of extremely rapid progress in the fields of scientific knowledge and technical applications. In a sense, you are our representatives – spear-heading humanity’s exploration of new spaces and possibilities for our future, going beyond the limitations of our everyday existence.
We all admire your courage, as well as the discipline and commitment with which you prepared yourselves for this mission. We are convinced you are inspired by noble ideals and that you intend placing the results of your research and endeavours at the disposal of all humanity and for the common good.

This conversation gives me the chance to express my own admiration and appreciation to you and to all those who collaborate in making your mission possible, and to add my heartfelt encouragement to bring it to a safe and successful conclusion.

But this is a conversation, so I must not be the only one doing the talking.
I am very curious to hear you tell me about your experiences and your reflections.
If you don’t mind, I would like to ask you a few questions…

First Question:
From the Space Station you have a very different view of the Earth. You fly over different continents and nations several times a day. I think it must be obvious to you how we all live together on one Earth and how absurd it is that we fight and kill each other one. I know that Mark Kelly’s wife was a victim of a serious attack and I hope her health continues to improve. When you are contemplating the Earth from up there, do you ever wonder about the way nations and people live together down here, or about how science can contribute to the cause of peace?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Completely Random Book Suggestions

I am not sure why the topic of the rapture might be on anyone's mind today, May 20th, 2011, but on the off chance that it is, here some book recommendations:

Oh, if you wait until tomorrow before heading to your local Catholic bookstore, there may be less traffic.

Will Catholics Be Left Behind? by Carl E Olson
An exhaustive Catholic critique of premillennial dispensationalism, the "pretrib rapture," the Left Behind phenomenon, and Fundamentalist eschatology, written by a former Fundamentalist/dispensationalist. Examines the historical, biblical, and theological roots of the "left behind" theology and the belief in a rapture event separate from the Second Coming. Also contains chapters on the Book of Revelation, the millennial kingdom, and Catholic eschatology.

The Rapture Trap by Dr. Paul Thigpen
Paul Thigpen, Ph.D., lays out in clear, simple terms the biblical foundations of Catholic teaching on the close of the age--the "end times." Along with Scripture, he draws from Tradition, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Church history, and contemporary experience to reveal the shortcomings of the rapture doctrine and the larger tangle of twisted religious teachings to which it is tied.

In his latest book, Michael Barber takes a detailed look at the book of Revelation and its rich tapestry of prophecy, history, and biblical allusion. Verse by verse, Coming Soon unravels the hidden threads of meaning in the Book of Revelation, all the while celebrating this beautiful and glorious vision of God.

Some quick resources for those not interested in purchasing books:
The Rapture
Rapture Fever May Be Injurious to your Spiritual Health

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Pentecostal Convert: Brent Stubbs

Fellow Floridian, Brent Stubbs, tells his conversion story here.

Brent has a great blog you can visit here.

History: It Happens

Onward PC Soldiers
Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven.

By Thomas F. Madden

Every May thousands of medieval scholars descend on Kalamazoo, Michigan for the International Congress on Medieval Studies. It is the largest such gathering in the world, featuring hundreds of papers on virtually every imaginable topic in medieval history and culture. This year the meeting coincided with the release of the much-anticipated film, The Kingdom of Heaven, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Orlando Bloom — a film that is set during the period of the Crusades. As a Crusade historian, I knew I would be asked about the movie, so I decided to see it sooner rather than later. Ducking out on what I am sure was a fascinating session called “Focus on Fluids: Analyzing Urine in the Middle Ages,” I corralled a few of my graduate students and headed to the local cineplex to catch the matinee. The theater was largely empty — a bad omen, given the number of geeky medievalists in town.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Feast Day of Saint Damien of Molokai


Every age has its stories of heroic men and women whose faith challenges them to reach out in heroic love and service to alleviate the sufferings of their brothers and sisters.

This is the story of one such hero. He was born Joseph De Veuster, a Belgian farm boy. He is known now to all the world as Damien the Leper. His bronze figure graces the statuary hall in Washington, D.C.

Damien's compassion for the lepers led him to spend sixteen years in the "living graveyard that was Molokai," where he died at the age of forty-nine in service to people suffering from the terrible disease of leprosy.

Damien never lost sight of his life's purpose, despite the many difficulties and sufferings he bore. It was only his faith that enabled him to endure the trials that his life's work caused him.

We hope that you enjoy this story and find it a source of strength and encouragement.

Click here to read the rest of the story at ETWN's website.

There is a film about Saint Damien's time on the island of Molokai that I personally enjoyed.

Steve Greydanus of Decent Films Guide provided the following review:

Entertainment Value
Value (+4/-4)

By Steven D. Greydanus

Based on Hilde Eynikel’s biography of Blessed Fr. Damien de Veuster, Molokai: The Story of Father Damien tells the edifying, at times wrenching story of the 19th-century “Apostle to the Lepers,” who for fifteen years lived and finally died in a leper colony on the Hawaiian island of Moloka’i.

A native of Belgium, ordained in Honolulu, at the age of 33 Fr. Damien volunteered to become the first and only priest serving the leper colony. There he spent himself attending as best he could to the people’s needs, both spiritual and physical, offering the sacraments but also dressing wounds, helping to shelter them from the elements, even constructing coffins and digging graves.

This inspiring, episodic biopic depicts Fr. Damien (David Wenham, Peter Jackson’s Faramir in The Lord of the Rings) as a man consumed by a singular sense of duty and obligation, lacking any thought but the spiritual and temporal good of those in his care and the good of his own soul. To church and state leaders in O’ahu he ceaselessly campaigns for more funds and medicine, nuns to help with the care of the sick, and for more frequent confession for himself.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Father Robert Barron's Weekly Homily: The Road to Emmaus : 3rd Sunday of Easter

Like the two disciples walking towards Emmaus, a symbol of worldly power and security, and away from Jerusalem, the center of sacrifice, we need to be stopped in our tracks. Christ appears to them, but they do not recognize him. They do not recognize him because they are walking the wrong way. The recognition of the pattern of Christ’s life does come until the Eucharistic act which presents the pattern of sacrificial love. Then they immediately go back to Jerusalem, the place of suffering love.

Click here to listen via streaming

Click here to download homily

Sunday Bible Reflection by Dr. Scott Hahn: May 8th, 2011

May 8th, 2011 - 3rd Sunday of Easter
Acts 2:14,22-28
Psalm 16:1-2, 5, 7-11
1 Peter 1:17-21
Luke 24:13-35

Click here to listen and read along

We should put ourselves in the shoes of the disciples in today’s Gospel. Downcast and confused they’re making their way down the road, unable to understand all the things that have occurred.

They know what they’ve seen - a prophet mighty in word and deed. They know what they were hoping for - that He would be the redeemer of Israel. But they don’t know what to make of His violent death at the hands of their rulers.

They can’t even recognize Jesus as He draws near to walk with them. He seems like just another foreigner visiting Jerusalem for the Passover.

Note that Jesus doesn’t disclose His identity until they they describe how they found His tomb empty but “Him they did not see.” That’s how it is with us, too. Unless He revealed himself we would see only an empty tomb and a meaningless death.

How does Jesus make himself known at Emmaus? First, He interprets “all the Scriptures” as referring to Him. In today’s First Reading and Epistle, Peter also opens the Scriptures to proclaim the meaning of Christ’s death according to the Father’s “set plan” - foreknown before the foundation of the world.

Jesus is described as a new Moses and a new Passover lamb. He is the One of whom David sang in today’s Psalm - whose soul was not abandoned to corruption but was shown the path of life.
After opening the Scriptures, Jesus at table took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples - exactly what He did at the Last Supper (see Luke 22:14-20).

In every Eucharist, we reenact that Easter Sunday at Emmaus. Jesus reveals himself to us in our journey. He speaks to our hearts in the Scriptures. Then at the table of the altar, in the person of the priest, He breaks the bread.

The disciples begged him, “Stay with us.” So He does. Though He has vanished from our sight, in the Eucharist - as at Emmaus - we know Him in the breaking of the bread.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Catholicism Series to be Shown on Public Televesion

From the Word on Fire Blog:
CHICAGO- May 5, 2011: The story of the Catholic Church to be presented on public television this fall.

WTTW, Chicago’s premier public television station, announced that it will premiere and distribute four episodes of Catholicism – a multi-part documentary series for public television – in October 2011 to public television stations nationwide. This epic television production illustrates the history and treasures of a global religion shared by more than one billion people around the world. The series is filmed in stunning high-definition and spans more than 50 locations in 15 countries. 

Catholicism is fascinating television. This series will be of great interest to viewers who want a better understanding of the impact and meaning this faith continues to have throughout the world,” said Dan Soles, WTTW’s Senior Vice President and Chief Television Content Officer. “I am pleased and honored that this production has a home with WTTW and that public television stations around the country will have an opportunity to broadcast this important work,” he added.
Father Robert Barron, the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary and a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago, is the creator and host of the series. The executive producer is acclaimed filmmaker Mike Leonard, a veteran correspondent for NBC’s Todayshow and producer of the popular public television series Ride of Our Lives. Together, Fr. Barron and Leonard spent two years traveling the world with a crew of seasoned network television producers.

In this sweeping documentary, Father Barron tells the story of Catholicism around the world – using art, architecture, literature, music and all the riches of the Catholic tradition.  The production crew travels to some of the most magnificent and sacred sites in Jerusalem, Rome, Krakow, Warsaw, New York, Istanbul, Ephesus, Lourdes, Mexico City, Athens, Corinth, Mexico City, Uganda, Manila, Sao Paolo, Auschwitz, Kolkata, Philadelphia, Chicago, and beyond.
The team was granted exclusive access to film privately in many locations inaccessible to the general public.

 Highlights include some of the world’s architectural and artistic masterpieces and most sacred places: The Dome of The Rock, the Hagia Sophia, the tomb of Mother Teresa, The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, rare views of the Pantheon, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Sistine Chapel and the Pope’s private gardens, Chartres, Notre Dame, and Cologne Cathedrals, as well as one of the largest religious celebrations on the planet – the feast of the Ugandan martyrs.
WTTW will distribute and locally air four 60-minute episodes of the series: “Amazed and Afraid: The Revelation of God Become Man,” “The Ineffable Mystery of God: That Than Which Nothing Greater Can Be Thought,” “Our Tainted Nature’s Solitary Boast: Mary, the Mother of God,” and “The Indispensable Men: Peter, Paul and the Missionary Adventure.”
Viewers can preview the film at wttw.com/catholicism and CatholicismProject.org.
Pre-order Now at:  www.CatholicismPreorder.org

About Fr. Robert Barron: An acclaimed author, speaker, and theologian from Western Springs, Illinois, Fr. Robert Barron is also the founder of Word On Fire, a global, non-profit media group. He is the Francis Cardinal George Professor of Faith and Culture at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago. Ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1986, Fr. Barron has published numerous books, essays, and DVD programs. He is a frequent commentator on faith and culture for The Chicago Tribune, NBC Nightly News, FOX News, Our Sunday Visitor, The Catholic Herald in London, The Washington Post, CNN and The Catholic New World. He lectures extensively in the United States and abroad, including the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican and the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Fr. Barron received a Master's Degree in Philosophy from the Catholic University of America and a doctorate in Sacred Theology from the Institut Catholique de Paris. Cardinal Francis George calls Father Barron “one of the Church's best messengers.”
About Word On Fire: Word On Fire (www.WordOnFire.org) reaches millions of people through its weekly programs, which have been broadcast on WGN America, Relevant Radio, The Eternal Word Television Network, the popular Word On Fire YouTube Channel, and the Word On Fire website, which offers daily blogs, articles, commentaries, and over ten years of weekly sermon podcasts.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Jim Caviezel Shunned by Hollywood After Playing Jesus

Deacon Greg Kandra of The Deacon's Bench posted this story originally  featured on the Daily Mail news site.

Actor Jim Caviezel has claimed his Hollywood career was wrecked by playing Jesus.

He said he was ‘rejected in my own industry’ after taking on the lead role in Mel Gibson's controversial movie ‘The Passion of the Christ’. Since playing the son of God in the 2004 film he said offers had dried up and he is shunned by many within the industry.

Although a box office hit taking more than $400million worldwide it was condemned as being anti-Semitic. Gibson, the film's director, was later accused of making anti-Jewish remarks after being arrested for drink driving.

 Caviezel said he was warned against taking the part by Gibson who warned him he would never work in Hollywood again. 'He said, "You'll never work in this town again." I told him, "We all have to embrace our crosses".' Caviezel told an audience of churchgoers in Orlando, Florida.

Since Passion of the Christ, the 42-year-old has only appeared in a handful of films. Prior to playing Jesus he was considered one of Hollywood rising stars and appeared in The Count of Monte Cristo’ and ‘ngel Eyes with Jennifer Lopez.

One of his biggest hits was in 2000 with time-travel thriller Frequency opposite Dennis Quaid.
Caviezel, a devout Roman Catholic, said he knew playing Jesus would be risky. 'Jesus is as controversial now as he has ever been,’ Caviezel said. ‘Not much has changed in 2,000 years.’
He said he wasn't worried about the stalling of his career. During his 20 minute talk, Caviezel spoke of the troubles that have dogged Gibson. ‘Mel Gibson, he's a horrible sinner, isn't he?’ Caviezel said. ‘Mel Gibson doesn't need your judgment, he needs your prayers.’ Caviezel said that his faith is his guide, both personally and professionally.

He said it was no coincidence that ‘in my 33rd year, I was called to play Jesus,’ and joked about his initials also being the same as Jesus Christ.

The actor spoke about the film and its negative effect on his career while at a megachurch in Orlando to promote a new audio book of the Bible. Caviezel plays Jesus and other Hollywood stars, including Richard Dreyfuss, appear on the CD.

Pointing to a DVD of his famous film, Caviezel said ‘This is The Passion of the Christ.’
Pointing to the CD boxed set of the new audio book of the Bible, Words of Promise,  he said: ‘This is The Passion on Steroids.’

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria

                                   BENEDICT XVI
Paul VI Audience Hall
Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Saint Athanasius of Alexandria

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Continuing our revisitation of the great Teachers of the ancient Church, let us focus our attention today on St Athanasius of Alexandria.

Only a few years after his death, this authentic protagonist of the Christian tradition was already hailed as "the pillar of the Church" by Gregory of Nazianzus, the great theologian and Bishop of Constantinople (Orationes, 21, 26), and he has always been considered a model of orthodoxy in both East and West.
As a result, it was not by chance that Gian Lorenzo Bernini placed his statue among those of the four holy Doctors of the Eastern and Western Churches - together with the images of Ambrose, John Chrysostom and Augustine - which surround the Chair of St Peter in the marvellous apse of the Vatican Basilica.

Athanasius was undoubtedly one of the most important and revered early Church Fathers. But this great Saint was above all the impassioned theologian of the Incarnation of the Logos, the Word of God who - as the Prologue of the fourth Gospel says - "became flesh and dwelt among us" (Jn 1: 14).

For this very reason Athanasius was also the most important and tenacious adversary of the Arian heresy, which at that time threatened faith in Christ, reduced to a creature "halfway" between God and man, according to a recurring tendency in history which we also see manifested today in various forms.
In all likelihood Athanasius was born in Alexandria, Egypt, in about the year 300 A.D. He received a good education before becoming a deacon and secretary to the Bishop of Alexandria, the great Egyptian metropolis. As a close collaborator of his Bishop, the young cleric took part with him in the Council of Nicaea, the first Ecumenical Council, convoked by the Emperor Constantine in May 325 A.D. to ensure Church unity. The Nicene Fathers were thus able to address various issues and primarily the serious problem that had arisen a few years earlier from the preaching of the Alexandrian priest, Arius.

With his theory, Arius threatened authentic faith in Christ, declaring that the Logos was not a true God but a created God, a creature "halfway" between God and man who hence remained for ever inaccessible to us. The Bishops gathered in Nicaea responded by developing and establishing the "Symbol of faith" ["Creed"] which, completed later at the First Council of Constantinople, has endured in the traditions of various Christian denominations and in the liturgy as the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed.

In this fundamental text - which expresses the faith of the undivided Church and which we also recite today, every Sunday, in the Eucharistic celebration - the Greek term homooúsios is featured, in Latin consubstantialis: it means that the Son, the Logos, is "of the same substance" as the Father, he is God of God, he is his substance. Thus, the full divinity of the Son, which was denied by the Arians, was brought into the limelight.

In 328 A.D., when Bishop Alexander died, Athanasius succeeded him as Bishop of Alexandria. He showed straightaway that he was determined to reject any compromise with regard to the Arian theories condemned by the Council of Nicaea.

Bryan Cross Interviewed on Local News

Called to Communion contributor Bryan Cross was interivewed about Pope John Paul's beatification.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Congratulations Brandon

Brandon Vogt is a fellow Floridian and lives relatively close to where I do. We have never met, but I did win a free book (Confessions by St. Augustine) from one his blog giveaways. I just wanted to say congratulations and thanks for the book!

Article from the Orlando Sentinel
In the three years since he converted to Roman Catholicism, 24-year-old Brandon Vogt has become a well-known Catholic blogger and the author of a soon-to-be-published book on the church and social media. Now he has been invited to Rome by the Vatican.

Vogt will be one of 150 bloggers worldwide to participate Monday in a conference in Rome on the future of the Catholic Church and new media.

To Vogt, a mechanical engineer from Casselberry, the conference is like his book come to life: a recognition by the Catholic Church that social media are the method God has chosen to speak in this day and age.

"I take the blogging conference as a big sign that the Vatican recognizes we're behind [other denominations], and we need to get on board," Vogt said. "It's the most potent tool the church has ever had in its arsenal to reach the world."

His book, "The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet," includes contributions from 11 other Catholic bloggers whom Vogt met through his own blog, The Thin Veil. Scheduled for publication Aug. 1, the book includes sections on role of new media in evangelism, faith, community and activism.

Some of the book's contributors also will attend the Vatican conference, which includes panel discussions by Catholic bloggers from around the world and Vatican officials. It follows today's beatification of Pope John Paul II, which is a step toward his sainthood.

During the beatification ceremony, the Vatican will demonstrate its embrace of social media with YouTube videos, blogs, tweets and streaming video of the event. Vogt sees this use of social media by the Vatican on the eve of the blogging convention as the fulfillment of Pope John Paul's own advocacy of new technology.

"New media is going to open up the world to people in ways the church has never seen before," Vogt said. "The question is whether the church is going to be there or be absent."

The Catholic Church has been slow to adopt social media as a means of spreading the Gospel and attracting people to the church. The interactive nature of Twitter and Facebook have been a concern for church officials who fear those forms of dialogue can become forums for anti-Catholic diatribes.

When the Orlando Catholic Diocese, for example, started its own Facebook page in 2010, it allowed only "fans" and not "friends." You could read what the diocese was doing, but you couldn't speak back.

The church is going to have to overcome its fear of what people might say if it wants to use social media to spread the word of God, Vogt said. Social media is all about conversation and dialogue — which makes it different from the books, radio and television that came before it.

"[New media] enables people around the world to share, comment on and discuss a wide variety of topics," Vogt writes in his book's introduction. "Unlike any of the past technologies, New Media is grounded on interactive community."

But Vogt also cautions that social media have their drawbacks. Some elements of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube — forms built for short attention spans — go against the principles of spiritual contemplation such as prayer, contemplation and meditation.

"The church should use these tools of social media enthusiastically but prudently," Vogt said.

The Catholic Church announced its plans to hold the blogging conference about three weeks ago and invited Catholics participating in social media to apply online. A week ago, the Vatican posted on its website the names of those chosen to attend.

Brandon's name appeared 17th on the alphabetical list between Bohdan Pankevych and Carol Glatz.

"It was like middle school, going down the list to see if I made the cut," Vogt said. "I turned to my wife and said, 'I'm going to Rome.' "

He will be going to Rome on his own dime. The invitation did not include plane tickets or lodging.

Nonetheless, the opportunity to participate in a Vatican-sponsored conference is a thrill and an honor for Vogt, who became a Catholic in 2008, the same year he graduated from college, got married and moved to Orlando.

"I'm profoundly excited," he said. "To see something like this coming together is exactly why I wrote the book."

Beatification of John Paul II

The following is from the Vatican website and links will be added as they become available.

A tribute to John Paul II

Calendar of the Beatification

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Vigil in Preparation for the Beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II
Circus Maximus, at 20:00

  • Address of the Holy Father Benedict XVI connected by a video link
Sunday, 1 May 2011

Holy Mass for the Beatification of the Servant of God John Paul II
Saint Peter's Square, at 10:00

Monday, 2 May 2011

Thanksgiving Mass for the Beatification
Saint Peter's Square, at 10:30

Homily of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

Friday 29 April 2011

Briefing regarding the events related to the Beatification of John Paul II (Video)
Holy See Press Office

General Decree

Office of Readings

Collect and Readings