Pope St. John Paul II’s Rookie Card

Today is the memorial for Pope St. John Paul II (Karol Wojtyla) as well as the 38th Anniversary of his Installation to the Papacy of the Catholic Church. Below you will find two pictures – the front and back of a prayer card from October 1978.

In some aspects, this prayer card for Pope St. John Paul II is like a “baseball rookie card.” It states the dates of his birth, ordination to the priesthood, elevation to the episcopate, cardinal creation, election to the papacy, and installation to the papacy.

If the prayer card below is like his baseball rookie card, then my blog post titled, Pope Saint John Paul: Mission Accomplished, is his induction to the Hall of Fame, well in this case, the Heavenly Kingdom.

In the 4½ years of writing on this blog, I have written about Pope St. John Paul over 50 times. He is one of the main reasons why I teach and write about the Catholic faith so much. His inspiration in my life, which began through Robert “BK” Kloska, has fueled many of my projects on here and in different parish and school positions that I have held over the years.

JP2 Rookie Card, Side 1JP2 Rookie Card, Side 2









For your reading pleasure today, here are the blog posts that I have written on the Polish Pope and Saint since last year’s memorial day –

1. Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

2. 7 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi 

3. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary’s Connection to Pentecost

4. “Mondays with Mary” – 5 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on Mary as the Virgin of Virgins

5. Remembering Pope St. John Paul II: Eleven Years Later

6. “Mondays with Mary” – 10 Quotes from Pope St. John Paul II on the Presentation of the Lord

7. 10 Quotes on the Holy Family from Pope St. John Paul II

This link will take you to the many other blog posts I have written on him.

Pope St. John Paul II…Pray For Us!

JP2, We Love You! 

Be Not Afraid! 

Beatification Pic of JP II

Karl von Habsburg: The Last Catholic Emperor and King of Austria

Today is the memorial for Blessed Karl of Austria, the last Catholic emperor and king of Austria, who is currently in the Canonization process.

Karl von Habsburg was born on August 17, 1887 in the country of Austria. He had a wonderful childhood and was taught the Catholic faith. He was a virtuous young man known for his generosity, loyalty, and intelligence. His tutor recollects that he loved serving as an altar boy in Mass. From his young days as a child, he had a great devotion and love for the Holy Eucharist and the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When he turned 16 years old, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Imperial Army.

After courting Princess Zita of Bourbon-Parma (now Venerable Zita) for some time, Karl takes her to the Marian Shrine of Mariazel. There he proposes to her in front of the Blessed Sacrament. He places their engagement under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. On the night before their wedding Karl tells his bride: “Now
 we must help each other get to Heaven.” Their marriage is blessed with eight children.

As a family, they focused on daily devotions such as the Rosary, novenas, and reading the Scriptures. They would attend daily Mass together, study the catechism, and were devoted to the Blessed Sacrament, the Immaculate Conception, and the Holy Cross.

Blessed Karl and Venerable Zita Wedding Photo

On June 28, 1914, Archduke
Ferdinand is assassinated beginning the First World War. Karl is the next in line for the throne. On November 30, 1916, Karl is elevated to Emperor. He was a good moral and Catholic emperor who desired to put the needs of his people before his own which did through spiritual and civil actions.

After the First World War was finished, he was told he had to give up his throne. He refused stating that the crown entrusted to him was from God and a holy trust. He could never betray God, his subjects or his dynasty. For Karl of Austria, the culture he bears is Christianity.

In the end, he is exiled with his family. At the end of his short life, at the point of death, he calls his eldest son to be at his bedside to say good-bye. He says to his son, Otto, watch “how a Catholic and Emperor conducts himself when dying.” At the age of 34 years old, in his wife’s arms, he enters eternity holding a crucifix and saying the words, “My Jesus, Thy Will be done—Jesus.”

At the Mass for his Beatification, Pope St. John Paul II said in his homily,

The decisive task of Christians consists in seeking, recognizing and following God’s will in all things. The Christian statesman, Charles of Austria, confronted this challenge every day. To his eyes, war appeared as “something appalling”. Amid the tumult of the First World War, he strove to promote the peace initiative of my Predecessor, Benedict XV.

From the beginning, the Emperor Charles conceived of his office as a holy service to his people. His chief concern was to follow the Christian vocation to holiness also in his political actions. For this reason, his thoughts turned to social assistance. May he be an example for all of us, especially for those who have political responsibilities in Europe today!

To learn more about Blessed Karl of Austria, I would suggest checking out these websites – Blessed Karl of Austria Beatification and Canonization SiteOrder of Malta – Blessed Charles of Austria, and Crisis Magazine – Blessed Karl von Habsburg.

Blessed Karl of Austria

Blessed Karl of Austria…Pray For Us.

“Mondays with Mary” – 10 Scripture passages from St. Luke’s Infancy Narrative that have influenced my Prayer life

Since tomorrow, October 18, is the feast for Saint Luke the Evangelist, I figured that I would draw from his own Infancy Narrative. The entire Infancy Narrative in St. Luke’s Gospel is beautiful, since it’s the Word of God and it’s the story and aftermath of the Birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but ever since I studied Mariology at Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, there are certain passages that move my heart either in prayer or during the Marian Solemnities in the liturgical cycle.

I can remember a time in graduate school sitting next to one of my fellow students in the Christ the King Chapel during Mass on the Immaculate Conception. When Mary’s Fiat was read during the Gospel Reading, we looked at each other and were brought to tears since our understanding of that scripture passage had drastically changed and we understood it differently than before. I remember thinking to myself that my relationship with Christ was strengthened because I now knew his Mother in a way I didn’t previously.

So for today’s “Mondays with Mary”, which happens to also be my 700th blog post, I give you 10 scripture passages from Saint Luke’s Infancy Narrative that have and continue to touch my heart. It’s fitting that the 700th post is a “Mondays with Mary”, since I have written for nearly 4 ½ years on the Blessed Virgin Mary. The translation of the scripture passages come the Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.

1. “And he came to her and said, ‘Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!’ But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.’ And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus” (Lk 1:28-31)

2. “And Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I have no husband?’” (Lk 1: 34)

3. “And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word’” (Lk 1:38). [This was the aforementioned passage that brought me to tears when in graduate school]

4. “In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth” (Lk 1:39-40).

5. “’Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:42-43) [Even as I write this to you today, my heart is penetrated with the words of St. Elizabeth, and think that these words could come from my lips.]


The Magnificat, which I have written about here

6. “’My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts, he has put down the mighty from their thrones, and exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent empty away.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity for ever’” (Lk 1:46-56).

7. “And Joseph also went from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary his betrothed, who was with child” (Lk 2:4-5).

8. “And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manager, because there was no place for them in the inn” (Lk 2:7).

9. “But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).

10. “…And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed’” (Lk 2:34-35).

I would encourage you to read or reread the Infancy Narrative in the Gospel of Saint Luke. I would also encourage you to include meditating on these passages this week during your daily prayer time.

For more information pertaining to the Infancy Narratives, I would suggest reading Pope Benedict XVI’s book, Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives.

Mary, the Most Holy Mother of God and Ever-Virgin…Pray for Us.

700th Blog Post 

The Canonization of Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio

Before the Fall of 2011, I had never heard of Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio. I first heard of the young Mexican martyr when I was teaching at a Catholic high school in Texas. The Spanish Club moderator and head of the Spanish Department knew of him and she made him their patron saint. Once I did learn about this very courageous young martyr, I researched information about him, which I actually coincided with the release of the film, For Greater Glory. I would highly encourage you to check out this film, if you have not seen it yet. At the very end of this post, there is an embedded clip from the film.

Saint Jose Sanchez del Rio was born on March 28, 1913 in Sahuayo, Michoacán, Mexico. Desiring to protect the religious freedom of his own faith and the faith of all Catholics in Mexico, he asked his mother for permission to join the Cristeros – the Mexican freedom fighters who fought against the Marxist government and soldiers. To learn more about the Cristeros War, I would encourage you to read about it here on Catholic Answers.

Two of his older brothers had already joined the movement, but his mother refused his request at first stating that he was too young. His response is saintly, “Mama, do not let me lose the opportunity to gain Heaven so easily and so soon.”

On February 5, 1928, St. Jose Sanchez was captured during a fight. He was placed in in a church sacristy. He was forced to watch the hanging of another Cristeros fighter, in the hopes that this would make him afraid and he would tell his captives information about his unit’s whereabouts. Before the man died, St. Jose said yet another saintly comment – “You will be Heaven before me. Prepare a place for me. Tell Christ the King I shall be with him soon.”

While in prison, St. Jose would pray the Rosary and sing hymns of faith. He wrote a letter to his mother telling him that he was in the hands of God now and ready to do God’s will. Although Jose’s father tried to ransom him out of prison, he was not able to attain the money he needed in time to save his son’s life.

On February 10, 1928, St. Jose was tortured in a very brutal way – the soles of his feet, the very skin of his feet, were sheered off by a knife. He was then forced to walk on salt, through the entire town, even walking up stone steps, to the cemetery where he would eventually be buried. Although he would scream in pain, the young saint refused to give in to his captor’s requests. During this long walk, the soldiers would taunt him and say, “If you shout ‘Death to Christ the King’, we will spare your life.” His response, “Long live Christ the King, Long live Our Lady of Guadalupe!”

Upon arriving at the cemetery, St. Jose was asked one last time if he would deny his faith in Jesus Christ, he responded with great strength and conviction, “Viva Cristo Rey!” (Long Live Christ the King!). He was first stabbed and then eventually shot in the back as he lied on the ground kissing a cross that he had drawn with his bloody hand.

Pope St. John Paul II declared St. Jose Sanchez del Rio a martyr. In 2005, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI beatified him, and today, Pope Francis declared him a Saint of the Universal Church. During his homily at the Canonization Mass today, Pope Francis said the following about St. Jose Sanchez del Rio and the other six saints canonized with him,

“The seven witnesses who were canonized today also fought the good fight of faith and love by their prayers. That is why they remained firm in faith, with a generous and steadfast heart.  Through their example and their intercession, may God also enable us to be men and women of prayer.  May we cry out day and night to God, without losing heart. May we let the Holy Spirit pray in us, and may we support one another in prayer, in order to keep our arms raised, until Divine Mercy wins the victory.”

Let us pray this day for the intercession of St. Jose Sanchez del Rio. Let us remember that St. Jose stood against a tyrannical Marxist government seeking to destroy the Catholic Church and let us take consolation in his life that Christ is always in control and will always be with us.

Viva Cristo Rey!

Our Lady of Guadalupe…Pray for Us! 

 Here is the scene of St. Jose Sanchez del Rio’s torture and martyrdom from the film, For Greater Glory – 

Source for article:

“Biographies of New Blesseds – 2005.” Eternal Word Television Network, n.d. Web. 16 Oct. 2016.

Quick Lessons from the Catechism: The Person and Society

In light of recent events developing in the world, I want to refocus my efforts and turn back towards a series I haven’t worked on for some time – Quick Lessons from the Catechism.

I think there are Catholics who are unaware that the universal Catechism of the Catholic Church focuses on many things that pertain to our every day lives. For today’s QLC, I want to focus on what the Catholic Church teaches on when it comes to The Person and Society. The human community’s image lies in the image of God and focuses on the divine. Paragraph 1877 in the Catechism states,

The vocation of humanity is to show forth the image of God and to be transformed into the image of the Father’s only Son. This vocation takes a personal form since each of us is called to enter into the divine beatitude; it also concerns the human community as a whole.

In his encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis (On Social Concern), Pope St. John Paul II says,

“Development that does not include the cultural, transcendent and religious dimensions of man and society, to the extent that it does not recognize the existence of such dimensions and does not endeavor to direct its goals and priorities toward the same, is even less conducive to authentic liberation. Human beings are totally free only when they are completely themselves, in the fullness of their rights and duties. The same can be said about society as a whole.”

For more on authentic liberation, I would encourage you to check out my QLC on The Freedom of Humanity and Religious Freedom.

With this being said, let’s examine quickly, what the Catechism of the Catholic Church states on The Person and Society –

There is a certain resemblance between the union of the divine persons and the fraternity that men ought to establish among themselves. [#1890]

The human person needs life in society in order to develop in accordance with his nature. Certain societies, such as the family and the state, correspond more directly to the nature of man. [#1891]

“The human person . . . is and ought to be the principle, the subject, and the object of every social organization” (GS 25 # 1). [1#892]

Widespread participation in voluntary associations and institutions is to be encouraged. [#1893]

In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies. [#1894]

Society ought to promote the exercise of virtue, not obstruct it. It should be animated by a just hierarchy of values. [#1895]

Where sin has perverted the social climate, it is necessary to call for the conversion of hearts and appeal to the grace of God. Charity urges just reforms. There is no solution to the social question apart from the Gospel (cf CA 3, 5). [#1896]

For more information on this topic, I would encourage you to read paragraphs 1878-1889. To read what Pope St. John Paul II has to say on Social Concern, I would encourage you to read the aforementioned encyclical. He experienced firsthand the destruction of the human person and authentic freedom in Poland after World War II.

“Mondays with Mary” – The Blessed Virgin’s Relationship to the Word of God

Over the past four weeks on Sunday nights, I have been teaching a class titled, A Catholic Understanding of the Bible, for the Institute of Catholic Theology at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona. As I was finishing up last night’s class, in the back of my mind was today’s “Mondays with Mary” since I said to the participants, as Catholics, we should look to the Blessed Virgin Mary as the perfect example of knowing God’s word. Her fiat at the Annunciation should be on each of our lips when it comes to the Word of God.

We all should have the same zeal and affirmation that our Blessed Mother had when the Angel of Gabriel came to her declaring that she would bear a son through the power of the Holy Spirit. In regards to the Scriptures, we need to say, Yes, as Mary said yes to God. If we embrace the Scriptures as Mary embraced God’s will in her life, then there is no saying what Our Lord will give to us through sacramental grace and knowledge of the Holy Word of God.

To drive this point home of Mary’s relationship and role to the Word of God, here are four quotes from Redemptoris Mater, the encyclical written Pope St. John Paul II, which focuses on the role of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the life of the Pilgrim Church –

1. “Is not Mary the first of ‘those who hear the word of God and do it’? And therefore does not the blessing uttered by Jesus in response to the woman in the crowd refer primarily to her?”

2. “Without any doubt, Mary is worthy of blessing by the very fact that she became the mother of Jesus according to the flesh (‘Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that you sucked’), but also and especially because already at the Annunciation she accepted the word of God, because she believed it, because she was obedient to God, and because she “kept” the word and “pondered it in her heart” (cf. Lk. 1:38, 45; 2:19, 51) and by means of her whole life accomplished it.”

Picture taken from - Galleria Nazionale dell'Umbria

Picture taken from – Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria

3. “The Church ‘becomes herself a mother by accepting God’s word with fidelity. Like Mary, who first believed by accepting the word of God revealed to her at the Annunciation and by remaining faithful to that word in all her trials even unto the Cross, so too the Church becomes a mother when, accepting with fidelity the word of God, ‘by her preaching and by baptism she brings forth to a new and immortal life children who are conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of God.’”

4. “Following the example of Mary, who kept and pondered in her heart everything relating to her divine Son (cf. Lk. 2:19, 51), the Church is committed to preserving the word of God and investigating its riches with discernment and prudence, in order to bear faithful witness to it before all mankind in every age.”

Mary’s role in Salvation History is fundamentally important for the life of the Church, however, her role in relation to the Word of God is just as important. Next time you read the Scriptures on our own, read them in the daily missal at Mass, or just listen to them at Mass, ask that the Blessed Mother help you to take the Word of God to your heart and say – “Yes!”

Mother of the Word Incarnate…Pray for Us.

The 2016 Presidential Election: Voting from a Catholic Perspective (taught in one awesome homily)

This has to be one of the best homilies that I have heard in recent memory and I hear good homilies on a weekly basis from my Pastor and Parochial Vicars at the parish I work for and attend.

This homily needs to be shared with everyone and anyone that is voting this coming election here in the United States of America. Either read it here or watch it below, but whatever you do, please share this your family and friends. This must go viral!

As I have said before on this blog, I am so glad that I live in the Diocese of Phoenix. We are very blessed to have Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted and priests like Fr. John Lankeit, my Pastor, Fr. Will Schmid, and many of their brother priests who are not afraid to preach the Gospel message of Jesus Christ.

For more information on voting as a Catholic, I would encourage you to read, Catholics in the Public Square, a document in it’s fourth edition and written by Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted.

More from Fr. John Lankeit, see A Catholic Priest walked into Target today.

Fr. John LankeitFr. John Lankeit is the Rector of The Cathedral of Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral in Phoenix, Arizona. He has been a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Phoenix since June 3, 2006. He has served as the Rector of the Cathedral since June 1, 2010. Fr. Lankeit is a dynamic speaker and homilist. His homilies can be heard here.

Note: After considerable thought and prayer, the comments on this blog post have been closed. Some trolls have shown up, some rather anti-Catholic rhetoric has also been given, but not approved, and extremism on both sides of the argument. Thank you to everyone that did comment.