Posted on 04/25/2019 20:00 PM (Saint of the Day | AmericanCatholic.org)
Saint Pedro de San José Betancur
Saint of the Day for April 26
(March 19, 1626 – April 25, 1667)
Saint Pedro de San José Betancur’s Story
Central America claimed its first saint with the canonization of Pedro de San José Betancur. Known as the “Saint Francis of the Americas,” Pedro de Betancur is the first saint to have worked and died in Guatemala.
Pedro very much wanted to become a priest, but God had other plans for the young man born into a poor family on Tenerife in the Canary Islands. Pedro was a shepherd until age 24, when he began to make his way to Guatemala, hoping to connect with a relative engaged in government service there. By the time he reached Havana, he was out of money. After working there to earn more, he got to Guatemala City the following year. When he arrived, he was so destitute that he joined the breadline that the Franciscans had established.
Soon, Pedro enrolled in the local Jesuit college in hopes of studying for the priesthood. No matter how hard he tried, however, he could not master the material; he withdrew from school. In 1655, he joined the Secular Franciscan Order. Three years later, he opened a hospital for the convalescent poor; a shelter for the homeless, and a school for the poor soon followed. Not wanting to neglect the rich of Guatemala City, Pedro began walking through their part of town ringing a bell and inviting them to repent.
Other men came to share in Pedro’s work. Out of this group came the Bethlehemite Congregation, which won papal approval after Pedro’s death. A Bethlehemite sisters’ community, similarly founded after Pedro’s death, was inspired by his life of prayer and compassion.
He is sometimes credited with originating the Christmas Eve posadas procession in which people representing Mary and Joseph seek a night’s lodging from their neighbors. The custom soon spread to Mexico and other Central American countries.
Pedro died in 1667, and was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Guatemala City on July 30, 2002.
Calling the new saint an “outstanding example” of Christian mercy, the Holy Father noted that Saint Pedro practiced mercy “heroically with the lowliest and the most deprived.” Speaking to the estimated 500,000 Guatemalans in attendance, the Holy Father spoke of the social ills that plague the country today and of the need for change.
“Let us think of the children and young people who are homeless or deprived of an education; of abandoned women with their many needs; of the hordes of social outcasts who live in the cities; of the victims of organized crime, of prostitution or of drugs; of the sick who are neglected and the elderly who live in loneliness,” he said in his homily during the three-hour liturgy.
As humans, we often pride ourselves on our ability to reason. But as Pedro’s life shows, other skills may be an even more crucial element of our humanity than a clever mind: compassion, imagination, love. Unable to master studies for the priesthood despite his efforts, Pedro responded to the needs of homeless and sick people; he provided education to the poor and salvation to the rich. He became holy—as fully human as any of us can ever be.
Posted on 04/24/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
Famished after a particularly strenuous session in physical therapy, I sought out the fastest high protein lunch I could put together — a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of milk. As I smeared the peanut butter onto fresh bread, an old Raffi song popped into my head — a favorite of my kids, when they were young and addicted to the affable kiddie troubadour: A peanut butter sandwich made with jam One for me, and one for David Amram… stick, stick, stick, stick, stick! Suddenly, prompted by nothing conscious, I could imagine a voice objecting. “We shouldn’t sing that song! It’s not inclusive! It’s not sensitive to kids who are allergic to peanut butter and could die from it!” Alright, how to shift that, I wondered… An almond butter sandwich made with jam One for me, and one for David Amram… Again the voice…
Posted on 04/23/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
Some people are called to be a good sailor. Some people have a calling to be a good tiller of the land. Some people are called to be a good friend. You have to be the best at whatever you are called at. Whatever you do. It’s about confidence, not arrogance. — Bob Dylan My grandfather wrote me in a letter, “It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it. It’s not what you make, it’s who you become in the making. It’s not about getting recognized for what you’ve done, it’s recognizing what you’ve done you did for the right reason. And the right reason is always the Almighty and your fellow man. The rest is incidental.” “Being best at it” is to strive to do each thing you do with full intention, as if each action were the first, last and only thing you will ever do.
Posted on 04/22/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
In light of the upcoming release of the brand new course in the Word on Fire Institute, “How ‘Nones’ Misread the Bible” we thought we would sit down to discuss the Bible and its role in evangelization. This course is taught by Dr. Anthony Pagliarini of Notre Dame University and offers the best in biblical scholarship and how we can understand the common misgivings people might have when discussing or reading scripture. The new course starts on Monday, April 29th, so be sure to visit the Word on Fire Institute to learn more about everything being offered and to get ready for the new course! Listen in: Want to know more about the Word on Fire Institute? Be sure to check out: www.wordonfire.institute…
Posted on 04/21/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
Recently, a death arose that brought me back to Brian Doyle’s bittersweet essay, Notes from a Wake. An Irish priest had passed. Amid photographs and a chalice, whiskey and a few fine cigars smoked “on a side porch under a cedar tree [by] a dozen men and two women,” family, friends and the faithful gathered. An old friend told stories of his youth. Younger folks sang – and debated the lyrics – of an old Irish song, St. Brendan’s Fair Isle. A tally was made of family baptisms, marriages and funerals performed by the deceased. Jokes were told. A slow jig was danced. Infants were up too late. Food was packaged up. And then it was done. It was perfect. That’s how I want to be remembered. A few years ago, David Brooks wrote The Road to Character. With more heartache than anguish, he mourns what we have become in…
Posted on 04/18/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
“She hears, upon that water without a sound, a voice that cries, ‘The tomb in Palestine is not the porch of spirits lingering. It is the grave of Jesus where he lay…’” Somber words. One should say, inappropriate words for Easter Sunday. They come from the American poet Wallace Stevens, and they are an excerpt from his poem “Sunday Morning.” The poem is about a loss and lack of faith in the meaning of not only Easter but every Sunday since then, for Sunday is enshrined with significance—not because it is a casual day of leisure but because it is the day when Christ rose from the dead. In Wallace Stevens’ poem, faith in what the event of Christ’s resurrection accomplished in history has been lost. The modern mind is content with the distractions of the news of the day, willing to accept that the frame of reference for life’s…
Posted on 04/17/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
A short fiction inspired by Luke 22:10. She guided the tiny mouse out of its corner with a gentle nudge of her broom, laughing as she teased it this way and that, helping the frightened creature find its way out the door, down the steps and into a street teeming with merchants hawking apples and herbs, with shoppers, and those hurrying to the temple. She didn’t mind mice very much, but not in this room, and not today. No space being made ready for Passover and the seder meal could be permitted faithless intruders, even helpless little grey ones with adorable pink noses. Moving on to gather dust and cobwebs from the corners, she began, all unconsciously, to hum under her breath—a joyful little melody learned from her mother, who would quietly sing it over and over in rhythm with her movements as she would grind flour: “O praise him,…
Posted on 04/16/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
The conversations happening today in the field of artificial intelligence, known as AI, are completely mind-blowing. Aside from AI robots using 3D printing to build bridges in the Netherlands or cars in Los Angeles with digital nervous systems, the crucial topic of discussion is the unknown potentialities which AI technology could precipitate. The central question which belabors not only scientists and engineers but also economists, politicians, and Christians is ultimately: “What will happen once AI is let out of the box?” Despite the wide variety of speculation within AI scholarship and social media, everyone agrees that the future of AI is a frightening yet seductive mystery from which no one can look away. “AI could be terrible, and it could be great,” remarked Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors. “Only one thing is for sure,” he says. “We will not control it.” The big idea within AI circles is the…
Posted on 04/15/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
After the devastating fires at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, we thought we would share a few of Bishop Barron’s personal and spiritual insights on this incredible masterpiece of architecture, beauty, and culture. May Our Lady intercede for the church of Paris, and for the universal Church, as we lament this loss. Bishop Barron on Cathedral of Notre Dame Rose Window Friends, as we grieve the fire still engulfing the Cathedral of Notre Dame, here's a short clip from a talk I recently gave on "Catholicism and Beauty" in which I reflect on my first visit to the Cathedral, gazing on its majestic rose window. Notre Dame, Our Lady, pray for us! Posted by Bishop Robert Barron on Monday, April 15, 2019 …
Posted on 04/14/2019 20:00 PM (Word On Fire Blog Feed)
In a lot of ways the modern world, to me, is a Christian heresy because many of these extraordinary ideas—the rights of man, the idea that everybody should be free—[these ideas from] Locke and Hume and all these people were informed by Christianity so their ideas didn’t simply come out of some kind of philosophical vacuum. —Sheikh Hamza Yusuf One of the lasting images I have from my repeated readings of C.S. Lewis is the metaphor he offers about the relationship between Christianity and the modern Western world: inoculation. According to Lewis, we can distance ourselves from Christianity because we constantly receive small doses of it. Enough Christian-ness makes us immune to Christianity. Take, for example, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Adopted by the UN in the wake of World War II, the Declaration was a landmark international statement on the dignity of human life and…