Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hang Up My Harp? Never!

During their sojourn in Babylon, the Judean exiles lamented, "How shall we sing the Lord's song in a foreign land?" (Ps 137:4) According to Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible , "They yearn for Zion, the center of their religious practice and the source of their joy. But Zion has been destroyed and deserted, and their harps, instruments for expressing praise and joy, have been hung up on the willows. The sorrow of the exiles is aggravated by the fact that their captors force them to sing a song of joy when they have no reason to rejoice. The exiles refuse to sing a song of Zion when ordered to do so by their captors because this would mean mocking and making a caricature of the Lord.... What the poet wants to say is: I refuse to sing as my captors tell me to sing. It is nevertheless impossible for me to forget Jerusalem. I can do no other than sing about Jerusalem, the pinnacle of my joy."

How could those exiles not sing about Jerusalem? How can I not do likewise? Jerusalem, my happy home! Jerusalem, my destiny! This valley of tears is surely an exile from our true home, for here we have no enduring city but seek the one that is to come (Heb 13:14). We have a building from God, St. Paul tells us, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands (2 Cor 5:1). And that, for me, is ample cause for great and constant rejoicing.

Yes, life is often hard, and the night is long. It is good to remember what Oswald Chambers reminds us, that the song bird is taught to sing in the dark. I, too, am a song bird, and God teaches me to sing in the night I spend on this earth. Each passing moment brings me closer to the break of day, to the Radiant Dawn from on High. I may weep and mourn, I may groan under my burden, longing to be clothed with my heavenly dwelling, but I know the one in whom I've placed my trust (2 Tim 1:12). He alone is my strength and my song, my praise and my salvation (Ps 118:14). He calls me unto Himself, as He calls each one of us, and, thankfully, we do not walk alone for "the journey makes us one" (Jerusalem My Destiny, Rory Cooney).

And so, I will sing. Yes, I can and I will! My voice may tremble and my pitch be flat, I may forget the melody and stumble over the words, but I will sing praise to my God while I live (Ps 146:2). Never ever will I hang up my harp or refuse to sing!
To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb I will sing;
To God and to the Lamb,
Who is the great I AM,
While millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
While millions join the theme, I will sing.

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on;
And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on.
And when from death I’m free I’ll sing His love for me,
And through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
And through eternity I’ll sing on.

What Wondrous Love Is This? (American Folk Song)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today's Feast: The Archangels!!!

Today we celebrate the feast of the archangels. Archangels!!! Definitely an occasion for an exclamation point -- or perhaps three since today we call upon this holy trio: Michael, Who is like God -- Gabriel, The Strength of God -- and Raphael, God’s Remedy (from a homily by St. Gregory the Great) !!!

Raphael is the healer, who bring us God's healing to make us fit and whole for the service of the Great King of Heaven and Earth. He brings us the healing of the King of Love so that we might love and serve Him alone, always singing His praises and always leading others to Him. Raphael, the guide of Tobias in the Old Testament, is sometimes called the Angel of Happy Meetings. There's a prayer to him that's been circulating within the church for a very long time, a poignent plea for him to lead and protect us as we make our way through this valley of tears. Raphael brings us healing by bringing us home to God. Today I ask Raphael to be our good remedy, we who so ardently yearn for full union with our Lord and with those whom we love so dearly.


O Raphael, lead us towards those we are waiting for, those who are waiting for us! Raphael, Angel of Happy Meetings, lead us by the hand towards those we are looking for! May all our movements, all their movements, be guided by your Light and transfigured by your joy.

Angel, guide of Tobias, lay the request we now address to you at the feet of Him on whose unveiled Face you are privileged to gaze. Lonely and tired, crushed by the separations and sorrows of earth, we feel the need of calling to you and of pleading for the protection of your wings, so that we may not be as strangers in the Province of Joy, all ignorant of the concerns of our country.

Remember the weak, you who are strong – you whose home lies beyond the region of thunder, in a land that is always peaceful, always serene, and bright with the resplendent glory of God.


Monday, September 28, 2009

The Lord Takes Delight In His People, part 2

Again I hear the psalmist say, "The Lord takes delight in his people" (Ps 149:4). This time, however, I ask, "Who, her?" And I hear Him say ... "yes, her ... the one so very dear to you ... the one whose joys and sorrows are your own ... the one who makes you laugh and cry all at the same time ... the one who is bone of your bones, flesh of your flesh, spirit of your spirit ... the one over whom you fret and worry, for whom you pray night and day, for whom you would gladly lay down your life if necessary ... the one who is your sister, your mother, your cousin, your friend of friends ... she is the joy of your heart and the apple of my eye ... yes, her, never forget that I love her a thousandfold more than you do, I cherish and protect her, I provide for all her needs in ways you can never begin to imagine ... upon her my favor rests .. be at peace then, and rejoice and be glad, for in her I take such great delight!"

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Persons Are Gifts

Today's first reading about the Lord bestowing the gift of his spirit on the seventy elders (Nm 11:25-29) reminds me of a poignant reading that was given to us young postulants shortly after we entered the Springfield Franciscans in the late sixties. I already knew that God gave gifts to his people, but this reflection revealed to me that we ourselves are gifts, precisely because of God's many gifts to us. I still have my original copy of this reflection, so tattered and tear-stained. Why tears? Because God is so very good to us, so kind and so wonderful, and so generous and so loving. His gifts are boundless, their beauty indescribable, their worth inestimable. His gifts are the very best – especially the gift of HIMSELF! How can I keep from singing?!

Persons Are Gifts (Author Unknown)

Persons are gifts ... at least Jesus thought so: "Father I want those you have given me to be where I am ...". I agree with Jesus ... and I also want those whom the Father has given me to be where I am.

Persons are gifts which the Father sends me wrapped. Some are wrapped very beautifully. They are very attractive when I first see them. Some come in very ordinary wrapping paper. Others have been mishandled in the mail. Once in a while, there is a "special delivery." Some people are gifts which come very loosely wrapped, others very tightly.

But the wrapping is not the gift. It is so easy to make this mistake. It's amusing when babies do it. Sometimes the gift is very easy to open up. Sometimes I need others to help. Is it because they are afraid? Does it hurt? Maybe they have been opened up before and thrown away. Could it be that the gift is not for me?

I am a person. Therefore, I am a gift, too. A gift to myself, first of all. The Father gave myself to me. Have I ever really looked inside the wrappings? Am I afraid to? perhaps I've never accepted the gift that I am. Could it be that there is something else inside the wrappings? Maybe I've never seen the wonderful gift that I am. Could the Father's gifts be anything but beautiful? I love the gifts which those who love me give to me: why not this gift from the Father?

And I am a gift to other persons. Am I willing to be given by the Father to others ... a person for others? Do others have to be content with the wrappings ... never permitted to enjoy the gift? Every meeting is an exchange of gifts. But a gift without a giver is not a gift. It is a thing devoid of relationship to a giver or a givee.

Friendship is a relationship between persons who see themselves as they really are ... gifts of the Father to each other ... for others.

A friend is a gift not just to me but to others through me. When I keep my friends ... possess them ... I destroy their "giftness." If I save their lives for me, I lose them. If I lose mine for others, I save them.

Persons are gifts ... gifts received and gifts given ... like the Son. Friendship is the response of person gifts to the giver.

Thank you, Father, for your beautiful gifts ... persons ... friends ... and for the most beautiful gift and friend of all ... your Son, Jesus Christ!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thuribles and Confession

One of my regular tasks as weekday sacristan in my parish is cleaning the two thuribles used for incensing during the celebration of Mass. Given our congregation of some 9,000 families and our regular schedule of ten Sunday Masses and two daily Masses along with multitudinous weddings, funerals, and other special liturgies, these thuribles get quite a work-out. I always seem to be behind in tending to them, so when I do get to them, I invariably need to expend a bit of effort and elbow grease to spiff them up.

The other day as I was cleaning one of the thuribles, I noticed yet again how the best approach is the gentle one -- slow and steady, a little bit at a time. Rubbing vigorously doesn't get the thuribles any cleaner any faster and just makes my joints hurt all the more. I got to thinking about confession and how I need to go often so that the gunk of my sins doesn't harden my heart with an impenetrable barrier. And when I do approach our Lord in this marvelous sacrament, I continue to be amazed at how kindly and gently He treats me! We hear in the words of absolution that God, the Father of mercies, has sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins, and we know that the Holy Spirit is the fire of God, and that our God is a consuming fire. But, as St. Francis de Sales reminds us, "the Holy Spirit is indeed violent but with a violence that is gentle, mild and peaceful."

Thank you, dear Father, for the tenderness of your love! May I never be afraid of the cleansing power of the sacrament of penance, for it is your lovely, life-giving gift to us. Amen.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Lord Takes Delight in His People, part 1

The refrain for today's responsorial psalm, which is the fourth verse of Psalm 149, always astonishes me. The Lord takes delight in his people! "Who, me?" I marvel somewhat disbelievingly. And I hear Him say ... "yes, you ... you who are my child, my sister, my bride, my mother ... I delight in you ... in the womb, before the daystar, I have begotten you ... I fashioned you out of nothingness, I created you in my own image and likeness, upon you my favor rests ... I have called you by name, I have loved you with an everlasting love, you are mine ... at my birth, I lay aside my glory to make my home with you … on the cross, I shed my blood for you that you might live forever ... in the resurrection, I returned to the Father to prepare a place for you … you, all for you, my dear one and only, for you are the love and joy of my heart! … I am your Jesus, and yes, I take delight in you." Ah, my dear Lord, truly I am "lost, all lost in wonder at the God thou art"!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Today's Memorial: St. Pio of Pietrelcina

Prayer of St. Pio of Pietrelcina after Holy Communion

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have You present so that I do not forget You. You know how easily I abandon You.

Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak and I need Your strength, that I may not fall so often.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my life, and without You, I am without fervor.

Stay with me, Lord, for You are my light, and without You, I am in darkness.

Stay with me, Lord, to show me Your will.

Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear Your voice and follow You.

Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love You very much, and always be in Your company.

Stay with me, Lord, if You wish me to be faithful to You.

Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for You, a nest of love.

Stay with me, Jesus, for it is getting late and the day is coming to a close, and life passes; death, judgment, eternity approaches. It is necessary to renew my strength, so that I will not stop along the way and for that, I need You. It is getting late and death approaches, I fear the darkness, the temptations, the dryness, the cross, the sorrows. O how I need You, my Jesus, in this night of exile!

Stay with me tonight, Jesus, in life with all it’s dangers. I need You.

Let me recognize You as Your disciples did at the breaking of the bread, so that the Eucharistic Communion be the Light which disperses the darkness, the force which sustains me, the unique joy of my heart.

Stay with me, Lord, because at the hour of my death, I want to remain united to You, if not by communion, at least by grace and love.

Stay with me, Jesus, I do not ask for divine consolation, because I do not merit it, but the gift of Your Presence, oh yes, I ask this of You!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for, Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more.

With a firm love, I will love You with all my heart while on earth and continue to love You perfectly during all eternity.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mother Autumn

Woodsy Path, Lincolnville, ME

Perhaps because I was an October baby and spent my first seven years living in New England, fall has always been my favorite time of year. What Gerard Manley Hopkins termed "hurrahing in harvest" comes naturally to me with the arrival of the autumn equinox. The vibrancy of fall exhilarates me, causing me instinctively to revel in the gift of life.

Autumn is a good and bountiful mother who initially presents this gift of life in spectacular form. She doesn't display her beauty -- she flaunts it, passionately, shamelessly. Day after day she reveals her precious goods, one more glorious than the other. Her manner is somewhat reckless. Such treasures so freely given to any passerby! I am not always so generous in sharing my carefully hoarded riches, and I experience both discomfort and awe as I witness such largess. I am a bit frightened by her generosity for I know that Mother Autumn will give all until seemingly nothing remains -- and then what?

Then, after the surrender comes the stripping, the emptiness. I cringe before such barrenness. This is not, however, a meaningless void. Rather, it is a sacred space, wherein the marvelous cycle of life-through-death continues throughout countless ages. This timeless rhythm must be repeated again and again, both in my own life-span and in that of all created beings. It is the rhythm of life burgeoning and regenerating, and it happens most often in fallow moments of stillness and rest.

In this place of darkness and silence, I must live by faith. The external lavish show does not belong here. Neither does the hoarding nor the miserliness. Mother Autumn bids me to willingly let go, to gladly undergo the little deaths. She demonstrates powerfully that the things I cling to so fondly serve little purpose, lovely and comforting though they may be. Precisely because she knows intrinsically her true inner wealth, this wise woman quietly puts aside her outer finery and lives from deep within. From this vantage point, she is empowered to stand fast, holding firm to the promise of the vision which will neither fail nor disappoint nor deceive, which will surely come and not delay.

Mother Autumn both manifests and celebrates the abundant life. She bespeaks of the mysteriously fertile life of the grain of wheat that falls into the earth and dies, a secret, hidden life which becomes richer and fuller in the very act of dying. Such a life wondrously transcends the limitations imposed by exterior forces and tenderly begets new life in endless measure.

When I listen to Mother Autumn's harvest hymn of praise, I hear her sing exultingly of the freedom that comes with abandon­ment to Divine Providence. From her I gratefully learn anew the joy of depending solely upon the Loving Creator. Caught up in her cosmic paean, Mother Autumn and I together proclaim the goodness and majesty of the One who alone is the Lord and Giver of Life.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Blessed are the poor in spirit!

Blessed are the poor in spirit…

…those who know their need for God, who rejoice in their littleness and exult to call God their Father…

…those who know they need others and who gladly accept their help…

…those who understand that they have nothing and are nothing and can do nothing except through God, with God and in God…

...those whose food and drink it is to do the will of their Father...

…those who are nobodies in the eyes of the world but somebodies in the eyes of God…

…those who can say "please" and "thank you" and "you go first" and "I'm sorry" and "I was wrong" -- and really mean it…

…those who keep company with the Mary, the Mother of Christ, and with all the angels and saints…

…those who make their home in the Church, their mother…

...those for whom no sacrifice is too great and no service too small...

…those who hope in God alone…

Blessed are the poor in spirit! Only they can sing with St. John of the Cross: "Mine are the heavens and mine is the earth. Mine are the nations, the just are mine and mine the sinners. The angels are mine, and the Mother of God, and all things are mine; and God himself is mine and for me, because Christ is mine and all for me." The kingdom of heaven is truly theirs!

Dear Jesus, help me to grasp what my greatest and truest riches are -- and deliver me from hoarding them. Amen.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Our Lady of Sorrows, continued

The Virgin Mary, who believed in the Lord's Word, did not lose her faith in God when she saw her Son rejected, offended and put on a cross. Rather she stayed with Jesus, suffering and praying, to the end. And she saw the radiant sunrise of his resurrection. Let us learn from her to bear witness to our faith with a life of humble service, ready to suffer personally to remain faithful to the Gospel of charity and truth, certain that nothing of what we do will be lost.

Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus message of 9/13/09

Dear Mary, teach me how to be one with your crucified Son as you were, how to stay with Him and with all our brothers and sisters in their pain and sorrow. May I always walk with you in the light of your Son's resurrection. Amen.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Today's Memorial: Our Lady of Sorrows

Mother of Sorrows

Solace of shock, pray for us
Healer of grief, pray for us.
Absorber of tears, pray for us

Protector of children, pray for us
Calmer of fear, pray for us
Healer of hurt, pray for us
Inspirer of courage, pray for us

Strengthener of faith, pray for us
Peace of the terrified, pray for us
Home of the lost, pray for us
Song of the brave, pray for us

Rest for the tired, pray for us
Forgiver of our enemies, pray for us
Guardian of our enemies’ children, pray for us

Way to the future, pray for us
Queen of Peace, pray for us

M. Therese Casey, La Mirada, CA

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Glory of Love

But far be it from me to glory in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ~Gal 6:14

What beautiful days these are in our liturgical year! Today we celebrate the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, tomorrow Our Lady of Sorrows. Such highs and lows, such joy and sadness! Yet, still and always, the glory of the Lord is revealed to us in the thick of it all. His is the glory of love -- unquenchable love, triumphant love, unconquerable love! Love that embraces all, love that suffers all, love that overcomes all! Love that draws all unto Himself, love that unites us forever in the one bond of love, love that will never let us go! Amazing love, abounding love, admirable love! May we always rejoice in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ! And, with Mary, His mother and ours, may we always stand "by him, sharing his sufferings" and those of all our brothers and sisters. Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift! (1 Cor 9:15)

Exaltation of the Holy Cross

All that you do for love is love. Fatigue and even death itself accepted for motives of love is nothing else but love!

Today is the feast of the Holy Cross. How beautiful and worthy of our love! It was hard work setting up the wood and erecting it on Calvary, but how happy are those who love the cross and carry it generously. It will appear in all its glory in the heavens when Christ Our Lord will come to judge the living and the dead. Heaven is the altar for all who are crucified; therefore, let us love the crosses that we meet as we go through life.

~St. Francis de Sales

Friday, September 11, 2009

Beauty for Ashes

Photography by Ann L. Krumrein give unto them beauty for ashes,
the oil of joy for mourning,
the garment of praise
for the spirit of heaviness...
Isaiah 61:3

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Nativity of Mary continued

When Mary was born, she was like a new lamp, all ready to be lit; to be lit by God with a light burning like the three-fold flame of his own love. The first flame of her lover was her choice, for God's glory, to be ever a virgin. So pleasing was this to the Father that he willed to entrust to her his beloved Son, that Son who is inseparable from the Divinity of himself and the Holy Spirit. The second flame of her love was her humility, so pelasing to the Son that he willed to take from her a true human body, and that humanity which was destined to be honoured in heaven above all things. The third flame of her love was her obedience, which brought to her from the Holy Spirit the fulness of grace.

It is true that these flames of Mary's love were not lit at the moment of her birth. She was still, as other children, only a little one, unaware of God's will. Yet God took more pleasure in her than in all other beings. She was like a sweet-sounding harp, not yet in tune; but he whose treasure she was knew how lovely the music he would make with her.

from the Bridgettine Office

Dear Mary, I also want to be lit by God, but I'm a bit afraid of being so totally consumed by the fire of His Love, as you were. Walk with me, dear Mother, today and always, lest I lose heart and falter. Amen.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

'The Birth of the Virgin', fresco by Juan de BorgoƱa, Cathedral of Toledo, c. 1495
When the most holy Virgin was born,
the whole world was made radiant.
Morning Prayer, Antiphon 1, The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The Church’s commemoration of Mary’s birth leads us to meditate on her closeness to us in our human condition. She too was born a daughter of the human race. She is our sister in the human family. At the same time we joyfully recognize that she is far above us. We are happy to call her our beloved Mother in the spiritual order. Her special greatness is the result of the unique and extraordinary mystery of God’s intervention “in the fullness of time” when he no longer spoke through the prophets, but through his Son. Because Mary offered herself as the humble servant of the Lord, the eternal Word was made flesh in her womb and the immense riches of redemptive love were released into human history. The whole life of the Church in every age and in every place is inseparably linked to the young Jewish woman who responded to the Angel’s message with total obedience to God’s will: “Let it be to me according to your word” (Luc. 1, 38).

In God’s eternal plan, Mary was called to give birth to the Savior whose Sacrifice on the Cross redeemed the world from its bondage to sin and death. In fulfilling her vocation she remained closely united to the saving work of her Son. As the Mother of the Church, “Mater Ecclesiae”, Mary invites all who have been reborn in Christ towards an ever deeper contemplation of the mystery of the Church. She inspires us to recognize the lofty vocation that each of us has received in Christ and guides us on our way towards the hope that has been stored up for us in heaven.

As we rejoice in her birth, let us invoke Mary’s maternal love and care upon [us]…. May she continue to draw [us] toward her divine Son. And through her prayers, may each of us find the strength we need to live fully our vocation as [members] of Christ’s one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

Pope John Paul II, 9/8/89

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Hail, Mother of Mercy!

"I am the Queen of Heaven and the Mother of Mercy;
I am the joy of the just, and the door through which sinners are brought to God."
~Our Lady's words to St. Brigid of Sweden

Friday, September 4, 2009

Prayer for a First Friday

O most sacred, most loving heart of Jesus, Thou art concealed in the Holy Eucharist, and Thou beatest for us still. Now as then Thou sayest, "With desire I have desired." I worship Thee, then, with all my best love and awe, with my fervent affection, with my most subdued, most resolved will. O make my heart beat with Thy heart. Purify it of all that is earthly, all that is proud and sensual, all that is hard and cruel, of all perversity, of all disorder, of all deadness. So fill it with Thee, that neither the events of the day nor the circumstances of the time may have power to ruffle it; but that in Thy love and Thy fear it may have peace.

~John Henry Cardinal Newman

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Today's Saint: Gregory the Great

The proof of love is in the works. Where love exists, it works great things.
~St. Gregory the Great

This statement of St. Gregory reminds me of the second reading we heard at Mass this past Sunday from James (1:17-18, 21b-22, 27), who advises us to "Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves." This exhortation immediately brought my dear friend Kathe Nowowiejski to my mind because she's one of the most faithful doers of the word I've very known. She often laments her inability to speak eloquently of the things of God, but, as I often reassure her, she doesn't need all those fine and lovely words because she is living the Word. And that is of much greater importance. Kathe gives birth to the Incarnate Word all day long through her countless acts of love and kindness. I am but one of many grateful recipients of her boundless goodness. One of the greatest things that Kathe's love works in me is an increase in my desire to serve others. And it's not just that I want to love and serve more, I actually do it because like begets like, love begets love. Ah, marvelous!

Thank you, dear Lord, for my friend Kathe, and for all those who, like her, show us how to love as you did. Amen.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Olive Tree

Today at Mass we sing with the psalmist "But I am like a growing olive tree in the house of God. I trust in the goodness of God for ever and ever" (Grail Psalter translation). This verse from Psalm 52 is a favorite and frequent song of mine. It resounded in my heart recently during confession when my spiritual father mentioned the olive tree as he counseled me to continue striving for patience. This tree, he told me, grows extremely slowly and bears fruit only after many years. Despite the imperceptible growth of the olive tree, one continues to cultivate it, knowing that in due time it will be fruitful. Likewise with patience, I must keep developing this little virtue, nurturing it over and over again, particularly when I feel most impatient.

Patience is an olive tree, and so I am. I grow in slow and unperceivable ways, known to the Divine Gardener alone. All the while, I trust in His goodness and mercy, confident that He who has begun this good work in me while bring it to fulfillment.

"I will thank you for evermore; for this is your doing. I will proclaim that your name is good, in the presence of your friends." Ps 52:11

P.S. The olive tree in the above picture is approximately 1,500 years old. I hope it doesn't take me that long to bear fruit!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Passion of Christ Today

The Holy Father's mission prayer intention for the month of September is "that Christians in Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar, who often meet with great difficulties, may not be discouraged from announcing the Gospel to their brothers, trusting in the strength of the Holy Spirit." I was reminded of this particular intention just now while reading several articles about Bui Thanh Hieu, a catechumen and a blogger who has been actively defending the Church in Vietnam. He was arrested by police in Hanoi on August 27 and has not been heard from since. In this article, Sr. Emily Nguyen from Vinh Diocese warns that "his arrest certainly is not the last one.”

Dear Lord Jesus, we pray for those who steadfastly proclaim your gospel in the face of great hostility and under the threat of personal harm. We beg you to increase their faith, renew their courage, and never let them be separated from your love. As they sow in tears, may they reap rejoicing, full of song. Amen.

For more information, see:
Vietnam detains dissident blogger, Reuters
Pope's speech distorted, catechumen, dissident bloggers arrested, VietCatholic News
Vietnam police detain dissident blogger, Associated Press
Vietnamese blogger arrested for challenging media distortions of Pope's speech, Catholic News Agency