Sunday, May 31, 2015

Redemptoris Mater: An Introduction To Saint John Paul II's Encyclical On The Blessed Virgin Mary In The Life Of The Pilgrim Church

St. John Paul II at the dedication of the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace
On Sunday, November 14, 1999, Saint John Paul II dedicated the Redemptoris Mater Chapel in the Apostolic Palace at the conclusion of a restoration project which began in late 1996.

In keeping with the theme of May dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I thought it fitting to close out the month by sharing my recent reading of Saint John Paul II's encyclical Redemptoris Mater; a reflection on the role of Mary in the mystery of Christ and on her active and exemplary presence in the life of the Church.

The encyclical was issued on March 25, 1987, on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord as part of a preparation for the Marian Year in the Church—which began on June 7, 1987, on the Solemnity of Pentecost and ended on August 15, 1988, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary—and in anticipation of the Bimillennial Jubilee of the birth of Christ in the year 2000. Redemptoris Mater was also written to honour to Mary's jubilee.

Like many of his writings St. John Paul II has enriched the reader's understanding of Mary with his extensive references that are sure to prompt many—especially Marian devotees—to add to them to their reading lists.

For those whose faith journey has recently begun and are new to the Blessed Virgin Mary, this encyclical will provide you with a complete understanding of Our Lady's role and presence in the Church.

Those who recite the Rosary will find this document to be a perfect compliment to the contemplative aspect of the Rosary Devotion; it is thoroughly identifies and explains the various aspects of Mary's life: Her lived Rosary.

Redemptoris Mater is thirty six pages and includes an: Introduction, Part I - Mary In The Mystery of Christ; Part II - The Mother Of God At The Center Of The Pilgrim Church; Part III - Maternal Mediation and a Conclusion.

Redemptoris Mater is characteristic of Saint John Paul II's pontificate, a clear continuity with his predecessors and the teachings of the Church. This encyclical references several sources, in particular the Second Vatican Council's document, Lumen Gentiumthe Dogmatic Constitution of the Church.

Reading Redemptoris Mater I could not help but think of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI's Apostolic Letter Porta FIdei, issued for the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013) in which he encouraged the faithful to rediscover Second Vatican Council's documents as a means of establishing a point of reference where, "...[W]e find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning." (5)

It also reminded me of how this compliments St. Louis De Montfort's guidance, who stated in his book, True Devotion To Mary, that the quickest and most surest way to Jesus, is through Mary. 

Some of the other sources cited by Saint John Paul II were Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Letter Marialis Cultus, on the right ordering and development of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary; the Council of Ephesus (431) in which the truth of the divine motherhood of Mary (Theotókos-Mother of God) was solemnly confirmed as a truth of the Church's faithSt. Leo The Great (Pope 440-461) statement of Tradition, that "Mary's 'motherhood' of the Church is the reflection and extension of her motherhood of the Son of God," (24); and Pope Pius XII's definition of the Assumption to be a dogma of faith, that the immaculate Mother of God, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul to heavenly glory.

The Meaning of The Marian Year

Before writing about some of the content of Redemptoris Mater, I thought it best to elaborate on the meaning of the Marian Year so as to help you better understand why this encyclical was written.

The Marian Year was declared in part due to the special bond that exists between humanity and the Mother of God. It is a bond that was additionally recognized by one of Saint John Paul II's predecessors, Pope Pius XII, who in 1954, also proclaimed a Marian Year, "...[I]n order to highlight the exceptional holiness of the Mother of Christ as expressed in the mysteries of her Immaculate Conception (defined exactly a century before) and of her Assumption into heaven." (48) 

In declaring the Marian Year, Saint John Paul II followed the line of the Second Vatican Council, and in so doing, he wished to express the special presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of the Christ and his Church. He noted that this was a fundamental dimension of the Council's Mariology.

Building upon the Second Vatican Council, he also noted how the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in 1985, exhorted everyone to follow faithfully the teaching and guidelines of the Council. These two events, as Saint John Paul II stated, "...[E]mbody what the Holy Spirit himself wishes 'to say to the Church' in the present phase of history." (48) It was within this context that the Marian Year was declared with the goal of promoting a new and more careful reading of what the Council said about the Blessed Virgin Mary, in the mystery of Christ and of the Church.

Saint John Paul II emphasized that the contents of Redemptoris Mater "...[S]peak not only of the doctrine of faith but also of the life of faith, and thus of authentic 'Marian spirituality' seen in the light of Tradition, and especially the spirituality to which the Council exhorts us." (48) It is a Marian spirituality which has a rich source in the historical experience of individuals and Christian communities. Of the many witnesses and teachers of this spirituality, he particularly noted the example of Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, "...[W]ho proposes consecration to Christ through the hands of Mary, as an effective means for Christians to faithfully live their baptismal commitments." (48)

The Marian Year was declared not only as a time to recall that Mary preceded Christ's entry into the history of human family, but to also emphasize the moment when the mystery of the Incarnation was accomplished, that human history entered into the "fullness of time," with the Church being the sign of that fullness. Here is what Saint John Paul II had to further say about this:
As the People of God, the Church makes her pilgrim way towards eternity through faith, in the midst of all the peoples and nations, beginning from the day of Pentecost. Christ's Mother-who was present at the beginning of "the time of the Church," when in expectation of the coming of the Holy Spirit she devoted herself to prayer in the midst of the Apostles and her Son's disciples-constantly "precedes" the Church in her journey through human history. She is also the one who, precisely as the "handmaid of the Lord," cooperates unceasingly with the work of salvation accomplished by Christ, her Son. 
Thus by means of this Marian Year the Church is called not only to remember everything in her past that testifies to the special maternal cooperation of the Mother of God in the work of salvation in Christ the lord, but also, on her own part, to prepare for the future the paths of this cooperation. For the end of the second Christian Millennium opens up as a new prospect. (49)
There is so much that one could write about when referencing Saint John Paul II's encyclicals and especially on the subject of Mary, that an entire blog could be dedicated to his enormous contributions. Redemptoris Mater is certainly no exception. Below is a brief description of what each of the three main sections include.

The first section, Part 1 - Mary In The Mystery Of Christ details many important points to consider and understand about Mary's life, her existence and role in the Church: in the plan of salvation, Mary holds a special place entrusted to her by the Father; a meditation on Mary's fullness of grace; the Annunciation as the revelation of the mystery of the Incarnation; a dedicated subsection entitled Blessed is she who believed; a reflection on Mary's motherhood that expands beyond the fleshly bond and extends to its greater significance, the spiritual bond which is developed from hearing and keeping God's word.

The second section Part II - The Mother Of God At The Center Of The Pilgrim Church, includes the Church's journey and the unity of all Christians in which Saint John Paul II deals with a matter that was very dear to him, the ecumenical effort, one made easier by the sharing of both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches' reverence and devotion to Mary; a reflection on the "Magnificat" of the pilgrim Church that details Mary's constant presence on the journey of faith of the People of God; and the focus of today's post the subsection entitled, The Church, the People of God present in all the nations of the earth.

The third section, Part III - Maternal Mediation, emphasizes that the maternal role of Mary in no way obscures or diminishes the unique mediation of Christ, but rather it shows its power, it is mediation in Christ; Mary's role in the life of the Church and of every Christian; and the meaning of the Marian Year.

The Church, the People of God present in all the nations of the earth

Saint John Paul II begins this subsection from Part II by immediately quoting Lumen Gentium, "The Church 'like a pilgrim in a foreign land, presses forward amid the persecutions of the world and the consolations of God,' announcing the Cross and Death of the Lord until he comes." (25) It is a quote that instills in the reader a sense of journey; one in which he drew a comparison between the old "Church of God," Israel's exile in the desert with the "new Israel," the "Church of Christ." He went on to further identify the Church of Christ, when he noted that:
Likewise the new also called the Church of Christ (cf Mt 16:18). For he has bought it for himself with his blood (Acts 20:28), has filled it with his Spirit, and provided it with those means which befit it as a visible and social unity. God has gathered together as one all those who in faith look upon Jesus as the author of salvation and the source of unity and peace, and has established them as Church, that for each and all she may be the visible sacrament of this saving unity." (25)
Building upon the sense of journey, Saint John Paul II referred to the Second Vatican Council's analogy of the Church's pilgrimage with the Israel of the Old Covenant journeying through the desert. He explained that the Church's journey or pilgrimage has an external character, one that is visible in the time and space in which it historically takes place. Yet the essential element of the pilgrimage is interior, "...[I]t is a question of a pilgrimage through faith, by the 'power of the Risen Lord,' a pilgrimage in the Holy Spirit, given to the Church as the invisible Comforter (parakletos)." (25)

It is in this journey through space and time and even more so the history of souls, that Mary is present, as the one who is "blessed because she believed," as the one who advanced in the pilgrimage of faith, sharing unlike any other creature in the mystery of Christ. Quoting the Council further, Saint John Paul II noted that, "Mary figured profoundly in the history of salvation and in a certain way unites and mirrors within herself the central truths of the faith. Among all believers she is like a 'mirror' in which are reflected in the most profound and limpid way 'the mighty works of God' "(25) 

Referring again to the "mighty works of God," Saint John Paul II pointed out that the Church became aware of them on the day of Pentecost, when the Apostles gathered together in the Upper Room, were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in tongues. It is at this moment, the beginning of the journey of faith, the Church's pilgrimage through the history of individuals and peoples, that Mary is present "prayerfully imploring the gift of the Spirit." (26) It is through this beginning that Saint John Paul II elaborated on Mary's role and journey
In a sense her journey of faith is longer. The Holy Spirit had already come down upon her, and she became his faithful spouse at the Annunciation, welcoming the Word of the true God, offering "the full submission of intellect and will...and freely assenting to the truth revealed by him," indeed abandoning herself totally to God through "the obedience of faith," whereby she replied to the angel: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." The journey of faith made by Mary, whom we see praying in the Upper Room, is thus longer than that of the others gathered there: Mary "goes before them," "leads the way" for them. The moment of Pentecost in Jerusalem had been prepared for by the moment of the Annunciation in Nazareth, as well as by the Cross. In the Upper Room Mary's journey meets the Church's journey of faith. (26)
Continuing with the sense of journey, Saint John Paul II further emphasized Mary's presence at the beginning of the long journey of faith, who was amongst the Apostles at Pentecost, those who became the "seed of the new Israel." (27) Mary was present as an exceptional witness to the mystery of Christ. The Church was assiduous in prayer together with her, and at the same time "contemplated her in the light of the Word made man." (27) He noted that "Mary belongs indissolubly to the mystery of Christ, and she belongs also to the mystery of the Church from the beginning, from the day of the Church's birth." (27) Here is what he had to say about the importance of Mary's faith and its special inheritance of the Church: 
It is precisely Mary's faith which marks the beginning of the new and eternal Covenant of God with man in Jesus Christ; this heroic faith of hers "precedes" the apostolic witness of the Church, and ever remains in the Church's heart hidden like a special heritage of God's revelation. All those who from generation to generation accept the apostolic witness of the Church share in that mysterious inheritance, and in a sense share in Mary's faith. (27)
The benefit to the many generations since Pentecost has not only been a sharing in Mary's faith, but recourse to it in support of individual faith and that of communities. Saint John Paul II noted that those who accept the mystery of Christ not only turn to Mary with veneration, but do so with confidence in her, seeking support for their own faith. He identified this lively sharing in Mary's faith as a determining factor that put Mary in a special place in the Church's pilgrimage.

Mary's presence in the Church's mission in the world today is to be found in many different expressions, just as it has always been throughout the Church's history. Mary's presence is revealed through the faith and piety of individuals, the traditions of Christian families (the "Domestic Church"), missionary communities, religious institutes and dioceses; at many great shrines where not only individuals or local groups, but nations and societies, even entire continents seek to meet the Mother of the Lord. Saint John Paul II drew examples from: the land of Palestine, the spiritual homeland of all Christians, the same homeland of the Saviour and his Mother; at Marian centers such as Guadalupe, Fatima, Lourdes and Jasna Gora.

In addition there is also what Saint John Paul II referred to as, "geography of faith and Marian devotion," which includes all special places of pilgrimage in which the People of God seek to meet the Mother of God in the hope of a strengthening of their own faith. (28)

I hope today's post has encouraged you to strengthen or begin your Marian devotion in the spirit of Saint John Paul II, whose own Marian devotion permeated his entire life and pontificate. 

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

"The Family That Prays Together Stays Together" (Father Patrick Peyton)

Family Rosary Crusade rally in Melbourne, Australia in November, 1951

The month of May, dedicated to Our Lady, is always a calling for Catholics to spend more time with Our Blessed Mother, strengthening our Marian devotion with: increased Rosary recitation, devotional readings, personal prayers or novenas. What some individuals may have not considered is a group recitation of the Rosary with their own family.

Today's post seeks to encourage such a consideration in the spirit of Father Patrick Peyton, CSC who in addition to his Family Theater radio programs and numerous television films, spent much of his priestly ministry travelling the globe in support of the family by promoting prayer in the family, and spreading the Rosary Devotion through his international Family Rosary Crusades.

The importance of the family can not be overstated as "the first and vital cell of society," one that Fr. Peyton understood very well and worked tirelessly to strengthen and protect. Today's post is my tribute to a great priest and man whom I admire, whose life and ministry I hope many will come to know.

The Rosary and its importance for our lives and salvation was first made known to us by Our Lady, who in 1214 gave the Rosary to St. Dominic as a powerful means to convert the Albigensians and restore Catholicism from the heresy that had plagued the southern region of France. Since then, others throughout Catholic Church history were chosen by Our Lady to spread the Rosary Devotion.

One such individual was St. Louis De Montfort, who in the early seventeenth century wrote his well known book, The Secret of The Rosary, which provides essential information on the devotion, including the importance and added benefit of group recitation. You can find this exact information in the chapter entitled, Forty-Sixth Rose Group Recitation, in which he stated that there are several ways to recite the Rosary, but the method that gives God the greatest glory and benefits our souls the most, and which the Devil fears more than any other, is that of saying or chanting the Rosary publicly in two groups.

In reference to the scriptural passage of Matthew 18:20, He goes on to further remind us that "Our Blessed Lord expressly recommended common prayer to His apostles and disciples and promised that whenever two or three were gathered together in His name He would be there in the midst of them." (96)

Saint John Paul II and Fr. Patrick Peyton
In more recent times, we have Saint John Paul II who was well known for his Marian devotion. His daily recitation of the Rosary and his admission that it was his most favourite prayer were a complement to his Marian papal motto, "Totus Tuus," or "Totally Yours." So strong was his Rosary Devotion, that Our Lady chose him in 2002 to introduce a fourth set of mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries, which Saint John Paul II honoured with his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae and declaration of October'2002 to October'2003, as the Year of The Rosary.

Background History

Father Patrick Peyton was born on January 9, 1909 in Caracastle, County Mayo, Ireland. He came from a devout Catholic family, the sixth of nine children. It was not easy for his parents to provide, but no matter what material things may have been lacking, one thing was for certain, Fr. Patrick's parents ensured for their childrens' spiritual needs through a group recitation of the Rosary with the family, led each night by his father. The small house that he lived in was truly a home, one that he greatly appreciated that through the example of his parents, was "the best school, library, hospital and even church" he could ever attend.

His involvement with the Church began at a very early age as he became very close to his parish priest in Attymass at St. Joseph's parish, where he often served two early morning Masses each day. His application to two religious communities was refused because his family could not afford to pay for his education. This upset the young Patrick and discouraged him from pursuing the priesthood.

The practical necessities of life forced Fr. Patrick to leave Ireland for America, with his brother Tom in 1928. He was never to see his mother and father ever again, but before departing Ireland, his father said to him, "Be faithful to Our Lord in America." This is exactly what Fr. Patrick set out to do.

Upon arrival in America, in Scranton, Pennsylvania Fr. Patrick's brother Tom found a job working in the coal mines, while he found work as a sexton in the cathedral. It was a job that afforded him private and personal time in prayer to the Lord and Our lady. As Fr. Patrick stated:
In the quiet of that church, I would pray and pray before the Blessed Sacrament, and as the months went by, the thought of devoting my entire life to God got stronger and stronger. I had to at least try the seminary. I wasn't there long before I knew it was the right life for me. But at the height of my happiness, with ordination day only two years away, I had to face the crisis of my life.
The crisis that Fr. Patrick referred to was the discovery of tuberculosis which the doctors had informed him had developed for a year prior to the diagnosis; that he better pray because all medical treatment had failed. A fellow Irishman Fr. Cornelius Haggerty, CSC, encouraged him not to give up hope with the following words, "Mary is alive right here and now, Pat, She is a 100 per-cent, if you only believe it! You know how dedicated the Irish are to the Rosary. Well, pray it yourself, believing that Mary is alive and able to give you one hundred percent of what you ask."

Father Patrick's response was to fervently pray the Rosary more than he had ever done. After a novena of Rosaries, he declared himself cured on December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Doctors confirmed his declaration with medical tests and concurred, he was cured. Thrilled with his recovery and his return to his studies, he decided to dedicated his priesthood to Our Lady.

Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC
Father Patrick was ordained on June 14, 1940 and assigned as chaplain to the Brothers of the Holy Cross who taught at Vincentian Institute High School in Albany, New York. It was in prayer than Fr. Patrick decided he would repay Our Lady for his miraculous healing by promoting the Family Rosary all around the United States.

Setting out with intensity, boundless energy and great enthusiasm, Fr. Patrick embarked on his life long ministry. It was not long before he received assistance as many Brothers volunteered, as did students from the high school and the College of St. Rose. He made an effort to write and contact anyone who could help him, including many bishops to spread the Family Rosary which he officially founded in 1942.

Father Patrick spoke frequently at many parishes, referring with great affection to Our Lady's intercessory power, which included his own testimonial. He did not limit himself to personal testimonials, but embarked on taking the Family Rosary to the airwaves, beginning the radio program that became so well known with his ministry.

The radio program's humble beginning at a small radio station in Albany was seen by him as an opportunity to multiply his voice and reach many more people. He once remarked, "If only I could reach 5 million people in the U.S.A.!" At the time, World War II was raging on and there was a lot of hatred in the world. It was Fr. Peyton's belief that world peace ultimately depended on peace in the human heart and in the family. This conviction eventually became the second famous slogan attributed to his ministry, “A world at prayer is a world at peace.”

The success of the radio program prompted Father Patrick to take the broadcast to the national level. In New York City, he was granted an opportunity by a non-Christian woman, in charge of broadcasting at the Mutual Broadcasting System, to air his program at a certain time slot, conditional upon the inclusion of a Hollywood star. Trusting in Our Lady, Fr. Peyton accepted the air time and the attached condition.

With his trust firmly rooted in Our Lady, Fr. Peyton picked up the phone and asked the operator to get him Bing Crosby in Hollywood. He reached Bing Crosby who agreed to be on his program. Father Peyton also contacted the Sullivan family, whose five sons were killed during the war and asked the parents and the sister to lead the Rosary on the air. The program was broadcast on May 13, 1945, Mother's Day, and also on National Day of Thanksgiving for VE (Victory in Europe) Day on May 8,1945. It appeared that the entire country was listening; three hundred and eleven stations aired the program during Bing Crosby's talk on the importance of the Rosary. In addition, Cardinal Spellman of New York and President Truman also talked on the show. It was a time when the entire nation heard the impassioned voice of the "Rosary priest" encouraging them to strengthen their family life by praying the Rosary together.

Due to the success of the program, Mutual Broadcasting System offered Fr. Peyton a weekly time slot with the same condition of including top stars and writers from Hollywood. Celebrities positively responded, as did many more volunteers including Holy Cross priests and brothers. In 1947, Fr. Peyton opened up Family Theater Productions in Hollywood.

The Family Theater

Loretta Young starred in the first show, Flight From Home, on February 13, 1947. Father Peyton's devotion to Our Lady was so strong and obvious that Young remarked, "I never met a man so in love with a woman as Fr. Peyton was in love with the Blessed Mother." It was for this show that the slogan, "The family that prays together stays together," was used to promote family prayer. It soon became Fr. Peyton's slogan and a household phrase. 

Fr. Patrick Peyton, Jimmy Stewart, Don Amece and Loretta Young at the first Family Theater show in 1947

It was during that first episode that Jimmy Stewart told the Family Theater audience that, “...[W]ith the hope that families everywhere will always be together and that your home will be a happy one—with the conviction that prayer, simple prayer, will help keep it that way.” Every Sunday night, a celebrity host would make similar comments promoting prayer and family unity before and after that week’s radio drama. Family Theater’s basic message was simply that of strengthening the family through faith in God and prayer.

In his book, The Ear of GodFather Peyton expressed his vision of the family, “The family was meant to be the cradle of religion; restore to the family its religious soul and you enrich the entire country, you strengthen civilization.” Many people, including Hollywood entertainers, were happy to support this vision such as: Gary Cooper, Lucille Ball, Jane Wyatt, Henry Fonda, Jack Benny, Rosalind Russell, Shirley Temple, Margaret O’Brien, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Durante, Gene Kelly, Natalie Wood, Vincent Price, Charlton Heston and Raymond Burr.

In an era when radio was "the" communication medium, Fr. Peyton had succeeded in making Family Theater a Sunday-night fixture in many American homes. He effectively utilized radio and established a niche for his message in the most  popular communication medium of the 1940’s. His radio series received numerous awards, such as "Best Program of the year" on the Mutual Network by the Daily Radio trade magazine for four consecutive years, from 1948-1951. Family Theater became one of the longest weekly radio programs in history, lasting twenty two years. It had reached well over the five million people Fr. Peyton hoped for.

World Wide Rosary Rallies (Family Rosary Crusades)

Forging ahead with his mission, Fr. Peyton in 1948 began to organize huge Rosary rallies. He called them Family Rosary Crusades. So popular were these crusades that he received invitations from bishops around the world. The first photo above published with this post is one such rally in Melbourne, Australia. The one directly below this text is another; from the 1961 San Francisco rally in which five hundred thousand people attended and was deemed by the Archdiocesan archivist in 2003 as the number one event in the Archdiocese's one hundred and fifty year history.

The Family Rosary Crusade was a huge success in Latin America: in 1962, one million were in attendance in Colombia; one and a half million were in attendance in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1962; and another two million in Sao Paulo, Brazil in 1964; and in the Philippines, two million attended the rally.

San Francisco "Family Rosary Crusade rally in 1961

With the success of the Family Theater, Fr. Peyton continued to press forward to reach even more people on an international level. Below are his own words describing the next phase of his ministry, taken from the YouTube video of the web site,
With my work in Hollywood firmly established, I went on the road once more, eagerly seeking a way to reach more people personally. In the first year, we received requests from bishops in Western Canada and Alaska that covered a territory as large as the continental United States. From there we went to areas all over the eastern and western United States. Then to Eastern Canada and Newfoundland. As the crowds got larger, they overflowed open fields, filled the ballparks and crowded the stadiums. Not to witness a circus, not to see a ball game, but to pray to God together as a family. 
New York City was a milestone for the crusades and brought it national and international attention. Requests for crusades outdistanced our sources to answer them. From Newcastle in the north of England to Malaga in the south of Spain, the crusade message met acceptance by peoples who believed in its urgency, its necessity and its ability to meet the needs of the moment. To Burma, Thailand, Pakistan, Philippines, India and more. The people of Africa took us to their hearts as we did them. From South Africa the crusade went to Kenya, Tanganyika (together with the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba became Tanzania) and Uganda. Then to Rhodesia (now split into two countries, Zambia and Zimbabwe), Nyasaland (now Malawi) and the Sudan. 
With the new communication medium of the television, Fr. Peyton in the 50s added to his ministry with a massive film project producing three feature-length epic dramas in Spain on the life of Christ, divided into the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. Viewed by millions around the world, they were for many Latin Americans the first films ever seen. Adding to his efforts were television specials, interviews, documentaries and variety programs that included many of Hollywood's biggest stars.

Father Peyton's work achieved global importance and for a very brief period he had to break from his ministry because his presence was needed at the Second Vatican Council. Upon his arrival in Rome, he was warmly greeted by Pope Paul VI who encouraged him to continue his efforts on behalf of the family.

This wasn't the first instance that the Vatican took notice of his ministry. Pope Pius XII wrote two letters to Fr. Petyon that expressed his gratitude and encouraged him. Here is one of two letters available for viewing on line, in which Pope Pius XII addressed the letter to "Our Beloved Son, Father Patrick Peyton Priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross." Similarly, Pope John XXIII also wrote two letters of encouragement and gratitude. 

Another well known figure from the Church, Mother Teresa also supported his ministry. Even President Richard Dixon gave Fr. Peyton such a wonderful accolade in which he was quoted as saying, "...we honour a man who is not just a Catholic priest, he speaks for the best of America."

Fr. Peyton with Mother Teresa reciting the Rosary

Father Peyton's ministry saw him speak to twenty eight million people in person during the Family Rosary Crusades. Several million more were reached with over six hundred radio and television shows and through his films. Father Peyton passed away on June 3, 1992 at the age of 83, in San Pedro, California. He was buried at the cemetery of the Congregation of Holy Cross in Easton, Massachusetts

Holy Cross Family Ministries

Today the work of Fr. Peyton continues under the title of Holy Cross Family Ministries (HCFM). If you visit the web site, you will see an impressive effort that continues in the spirit of Fr. Peyton. Here is their mission statement, "In the spirit of our founder, Servant of God Patrick Peyton and under the sponsorship of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Holy Cross Family Ministries serves Jesus Christ and His Church throughout the world by promoting and supporting the spiritual well-being of the family." HCFM seeks to promote and support the spiritual well being of the family by: making the Rosary widely known, using media to share the Word of God, identifying the spiritual, physical and emotional needs of the family and creating programs to address those needs.

HCFM's Mission In Action entails carrying out their mission through face-to-face and media ministries: Family Rosary and Family Rosary International that encourages family prayer, especially the Rosary, Family Theater Productions which directs its efforts to the evangelization of the culture using mass media to entertain, inspire and educate families, The Father Peyton Family Institute which focuses on research, education and service in family life ministry and the relationship of spirituality to family.

To go into detail as to the contents of the Holy Cross Family Ministry web site would entail a separate blog post on its own, but I would like to point out one aspect that I found particularly interesting and impressive, the Hear From HCFM page, which really spot lights how well this ministry has utilized the internet to evangelize and help the family. At this page, one can sign up to receive emails that include information on: Beads and Blessings, a Biweekly newsletter from Family Rosary, Credits, a Biweekly newsletter from Family Theater ProductionsSunday Family Prayer, a weekly email with prayers and activities for families to do together each day, HCFM News, updates from Holy Cross Family Ministries, Prayer Of The Day, a daily morning prayer to start your day focused on what matters most and Weekly Homily Newsletter, an inspirational "homily" issued weekly. If you prefer, you could receive all the above via text to your cell phone as well.

So well thought out has been the effort at HCFM, that there is a separate web site dedicated to an on line store, At this location, what I found particularly interesting was the Audio section's Classic Radio; a collection of DVDs of radio programs from the past, including some big name Hollywood stars. Although these programs were produced well before my time, it was interesting to take a retro journey and capture the Catholic spirituality that provided an uplifting, humorous and meaningful look into family life.

Cause For Sainthood

Father Peyton's official status is Servant of God, which is granted to a candidate whose cause for sainthood has been presented by a promoter group, the Congregation Of Holy Cross, to the Vatican and accepted for investigation. This is but the first in a four step process for declaration of sainthood to occur.

For the cause to proceed, it must be determined and declared that Fr. Peyton's life was one of holiness and heroic virtue. The gathering of information to determine this began in October'2003. Testimonies of his heroic virtues and holiness were presented after which a Theological Commission and a Historical Commission were officially appointed. A Theological Commission is appointed to study the candidate’s writings, published and unpublished to ascertain faithfulness to teachings of the Catholic Church. The Historical Commission is appointed to collect and examine all the documents of the candidate. If the evidence presented is the proper proof needed, the candidate is then declared Venerable.

The next step in the cause is when the candidate is declared Blessed, which occurs when it has been determined that a miracle occurred attributed to his intercession. Under review since November'2005 has been the submission of a miraculous cure of a mother and son from East Africa, who together with the Holy Cross Fathers, prayed for Father Peyton’s intercession. To date both mother and son are symptom-free of the disease.

The miraculous cure has yet to be officially attributed to the intercession of Fr. Peyton. A six thousand page report has been submitted by a tribunal to Rome to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints where a review was conducted. A summary of the report was completed by the Postulator, Dr. Ambrosi, referred to as a Positio (Position Document). It is a thirteen hundred page study of Father Peyton’s life and ministry; the result of a four-year study completed in conjunction with the Archdiocese of Baltimore and thirty four other dioceses around the world.

In April of this year, Father Willy Raymond, CSC, Father David Marcham, and Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila, Philippines, presented the Positio to Cardinal Angelo Amato, SDB, the Prefect of the Congregation of the Causes of SaintsThe video below captures part of this presentation and further explains Fr. Peyton's life and the cause for sainthood.

What remains is for the Congregation of the Causes of Saints to confirm that Father Peyton led a life of holiness, a life of heroic virtue. If this proves to be the case, Fr. Peyton will receive the status of Venerable. If it is determined that through Fr. Peyton's intercession that the African woman and her child were cured, then his status will change to Blessed. Upon proof of a second miracle attributed to his intercession, Fr. Peyton will be declared a Saint

If today's post was the first you have ever heard of Fr. Patrick Peyton, I hope his life and ministry will encourage you to introduce prayer to your family including a daily recitation of the Rosary.

Prayer within the family is urgently needed in today's world with so many attacks against the family including: abortioncontraception, euthanasia, human embryo research, fertility clinics, pornography, LGBT agenda and propaganda, gender ideologysexual immorality in the education system, anti-life policy development within medical organizations and immoral laws.  

Father Peyton's ministry (HCFM) remains ever relevant and needed today; the perfect solution to the current and potential new threats against the family and world peace. The importance of the Rosary for world peace is not a new message, but given to us anew with Fr. Peyton's ministry. It was only a few decades prior to Fr. Peyton's efforts that Our Lady had already given this important message of the Rosary prayer for world peace in Fatima, Portugal. 

Today marks the anniversary of Our Lady's first appearance to Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, the three small children from Fatima, Portugal. Our Lady appeared to the children for six consecutive months, on the 13th of each month from May'1917, to October'1917. One of the two main requests given by Our Lady was for the daily recitation of the Rosary for peace in the world. So significant is the Rosary for peace in the world that Our Lady appeared to the children, introducing herself as "The Lady of the Rosary."

Our Lady continues today with her message of Rosary prayers for world peace in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina. On June 24, 1981, Our Lady began appearing to six visionaries that continues to this day. She introduced herself as the "Queen of Peace," and told the visionaries, "What I started in Fatima, I will finish in Medjugorje, my heart will triumph."

In the spirit of Fr. Peyton, may we all effectively utilize today's communication mediums to defend and strengthen the family, promote world peace and spread devotion to Our Lady through the Rosary.

Our Lady Queen of Peace, pray for us.