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Prayer Cards for the Fortnight for Freedom

Below are links to downloadable prayer cards that can be used during the Fortnight for Freedom and beyond.  The cards are available in both English and Spanish.

English Mary Immaculate Our Lady of Guadalupe St Thomas More
Spanish Mary Immaculate Our Lady of Guadalupe St Thomas More

Featured Events

Catholic News Headlines

  • IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy CBC News via By ST. PAUL, Alberta (CNS) -- As firefighters fought to save Fort McMurray from a wildfire that threatened to destroy the northern Alberta city, a bishop gave thanks that there had been no loss of life. St. Paul Bishop Paul Terrio, whose diocese includes Fort McMurray, also said in a May 4 statement that the city's St. Paul Church is rumored to have been destroyed in the blaze that forced the evacuation of the city's entire population the previous day. There were no reports of deaths or serious injuries. Bishop Terrio said that with the community still in shock from the damage in Fort McMurray, "Let us give thanks to our Lord and God that, with some 60,000-70,000 people evacuated from the community in a matter of hours, there has been no loss of life." "Really, this in itself constitutes a major achievement," the bishop said. "I want to thank and commend all the security and firefighting services, the public authorities but especially the good people of Fort McMurray. Once again, the people of Fort McMurray have rallied together and reached out to help and protect each other." The entire neighborhood of Beacon Hill appeared to be lost, according to local officials, while the fire had spread to other neighborhoods. Officials said they feared the fire could worsen. Bishop Terrio said that as the full extent of loss and damage becomes to be known, the whole community would be called upon to help rebuild and resettle the city. The diocese planned a second collection at all Masses May 7-8 as a first step for the relief effort and to support all those who lost their homes. "This fire disaster is a hard blow at a time when Fort McMurray is already struggling under an adverse economic situation," wrote Bishop Terrio, noting the economic slowdown with the worldwide drop in oil prices that has severely affected the local economy in the heart of Canada's oil country. "But with our faith, our hope and our love for each other, we shall, as a young local evacuee said on Facebook last night, build a 'better Fort McMurray,'" he said.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/L'Osservatore Romano via ReutersBy Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- A new Vatican magazine will give attention to women's voices, something that often has been missing in the church despite women's important role in announcing the Gospel, said Cardinal Pietro Parolin. "If we do not listen attentively to the voice of women in the great decisive moments in the life of the church, we would lose" the crucial contribution of the feminine genius in the church, Cardinal Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, said at an event May 3 launching the magazine format. "Women-Church-World," which began as a monthly insert in the Vatican newspaper, will now feature two new sections: one "focusing on art with women's sensitivity and power of expression," and the other on the Bible, according to L'Osservatore Romano's website. "The renovation comes in response to many women's need to share, reflect and make their voices heard," the newspaper said. The new format and new sections were introduced to the press by Cardinal Parolin; Lucetta Scaraffia, the magazine's coordinator; Elisa Zamboni, a columnist from the Italian ecumenical Community of Bose; and Giovanni Maria Vian, editor-in-chief of the Vatican newspaper. Cardinal Parolin said the new magazine serves not only to make the presence of women in the church known, but to "pave the way to a new and positive habit" of listening to women. "Women-Church-World," he added, hopes to "implement the male and female synergy that so often has been invoked in official documents but not always put into practice." "Today, therefore, it is necessary to explore together -- men and women, lay and consecrated -- the interpretation of sacred texts and draw ideas to reshape and expand the role and service -- not the servitude -- of women in the church," the cardinal said. The front cover of the magazine's May issue features an icon of the Visitation, an image that Scaraffia said defines the publication's mission. Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth, Scaraffia wrote in the magazine's first editorial, is not just a moment of solidarity between women but a manifestation that both are "able to see the true and profound meaning of the events they are going through, to discern the divine even when it is still hidden." "The Visitation therefore is the icon of our project: women who bring to light, to the knowledge of the world, what other women have to say or have said and written in the past; what they do or have done," Scaraffia said. - - -Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Paul HaringBy Carol GlatzVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- There is no such thing as a soul that is lost forever, only people who are waiting to be found, Pope Francis said. God is not part of humanity's "throwaway culture" and does not shut out the sinner and those most in need, the pope said May 4 during his weekly general audience. Because of his immense love for everyone, God takes the illogical step of leaving his faithful flock behind in the harsh desert to seek out the one who has gone missing, he told those gathered in St. Peter's Square. The pope reflected on the Gospel parable of the good shepherd, which, he said, reflects Jesus' concern for sinners and God's commitment to never give up on anyone. Jesus uses the parable to explain how "his closeness to sinners must not scandalize, but, on the contrary, encourage everyone to seriously reflect on how we live our faith," the pope said. The parable, he said, responds to the doctors of the law and the Pharisees, who "were proud, arrogant, believed themselves just," and, therefore, became suspicious or shocked seeing Jesus welcome and eat with sinners. The parable according to the Gospel of Luke begins, "What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the 99 in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it?" The query, the pope said, introduces a paradox that questions how smart this shepherd could be when he abandons his precious flock, not in a safe pen, but in the dangerous desert just for one sheep. "He could have reasoned, 'Well, let's look at the numbers: I have 99, I lost one, oh well,'" the pope said. But, "no. He goes looking for it because everyone is very important to him and that (sheep) is the one most in need, the most abandoned, the most rejected and he goes out to find it." The story might make people think that the good shepherd doesn't care about the ones he leaves behind, the pope said, "But in actuality it's not like that. The lesson Jesus wants to give us instead is that no sheep can be lost. The Lord cannot resign himself to the fact that even one single person may be lost." God's desire to save all his children is so "unstoppable, not even 99 sheep can hold the shepherd back and keep him locked up in the pen." "We are all forewarned -- mercy toward sinners is the way God works" and "nothing and no one will be able to take away his will of salvation" for all of humanity, the pope said. "God doesn't know our current throwaway culture," he said. "God throws nobody away. God loves everyone, seeks out everyone, everybody -- one by one." The parable shows how everything depends on the shepherd and his willingness to look for the lost ones. But it also tells the faithful flock that they will always be on the move, that they "do not possess the Lord, they cannot fool themselves keeping him imprisoned in our mindset and game plans," Pope Francis said. "The shepherd will be found where the lost sheep is," he said, and it is up to the flock to follow the shepherd's same journey of mercy so all 100 may be reunited again and rejoice. The church needs to reflect often on the parable of the lost sheep, he said, because there is always someone who has strayed from the fold. Sometimes seeing that empty place at the table, the pope said, "is discouraging and makes us believe that the loss is inevitable, an illness without a cure. And then we run the risk of closing ourselves up in the pen where there will be no smell of sheep, but the stink of stale air." Christians, he said, must never have the musty smell of confinement, which happens when a parish or community loses its missionary zeal and cuts itself off from others, seeing itself as "we -- quote unquote -- the righteous." Christians must understand that in Jesus' eyes, no one is ever lost for good; there "are only sheep that must be found." God waits up until the very end, like he did for the good thief, who repented before he died on the cross next to Jesus, the pope said. No distance is too far to keep the shepherd away, and "no flock can give up on a brother" because the joy of finding what was lost belongs both to the faithful and the shepherd, he said. "We are all sheep who have been found again and welcomed by the Lord's mercy, called to gather the whole flock together with him," Pope Francis said.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • By Junno Arocho EstevesVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christians distracted from the path set out by Jesus can turn into decrepit "spiritual mummies," Pope Francis said at his morning Mass. Spiritual mummies stray from the path of Christian life by choosing to stand still "not doing evil, but not doing good" either, the pope said May 3 in his homily during Mass in the Domus Sanctae Marthae. "A Christian who doesn't walk, who doesn't move on the path, is a 'non-Christian' Christian. No one knows what he is. He is a bit of a 'paganized' Christian; he's there, he's still, but he doesn't go forward in Christian life. The Beatitudes do not flourish in his life; he does not do the works of mercy; he is still," the pope said. The day's Gospel reading was Jesus' discourse during the Last Supper in which he tells his disciples that he is "the way, the truth and the life." "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father," Jesus said. The pope said there are two types of Christians who fail in following the true path: those who are stubborn and those who wander like vagabonds. Stubborn Christians tend to believe they know the path and "do not allow the voice of the Lord to tell them: 'Go back and take the right path,'" he said. On the other hand, vagabond Christians walk around aimlessly in circles and are easily distracted by worldly vanities. "There are others who on the path are seduced by something beautiful and they stop midway; fascinated by what they see -- by this idea, by that proposal, by that landscape -- and they stop! Christian life is not something charming: it is a truth! It is Jesus Christ!" he said. Pope Francis called on the faithful to reflect on whether they have strayed from the path of Christian life laid out in the Beatitudes and the works of mercy. Although Jesus' path leads to the cross, it is also '"full of consolations" and "peace in the soul." "Let us ask the Holy Spirit to teach us to walk well (on this path), always! And when we tire, (to give us) a little refreshment to go forward. Let us ask for this grace," the pope said. - - -Follow Arocho on Twitter: @arochoju.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

  • IMAGE: CNS/Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard SpencerBy Paul HaringVATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis receives countless gifts, but most do not require anything in return. However, at his audience with members of the military April 30, the pope received a small gift with a tradition -- and obligation -- attached. Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer of the U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services gave the pope a military challenge coin with a prayer from St. Francis of Assisi stamped on it. Bishop Spencer, who ministers to U.S. service members in Europe and Asia, explained to the pope -- and then to Catholic News Service -- the tradition of military challenge coins. "A long-standing military tradition is for leaders to 'coin' a person as an outward sign of appreciation and admiration for their actions and service," the bishop said. Military challenge coins come with a catch. "The next time the two of you meet after being 'coined,' the person receiving the coin must show the coin from the original presenter. If they do not have the coin with them, then they owe you a beer!" said Bishop Spencer, whose began his military service as an Army officer in 1973. Bishop Spencer said he explained the custom to the pope, who "asked, with a smile, if I would accept wine instead!" In offering wine, the pope was in fact keeping with the original European heritage of challenge coins. The history begins in World War I when an airman with the U.S. Army Air Service was shot down and captured by the Germany army, who took away his identification and belongings. U.S. Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman, who wrote a recent article about challenge coins for U.S. Air Force websites, explained the story: "While escaping from the grasp of the Germans, the pilot made his way to France, where they believed he was a spy and sentenced him to be executed. To prove his identity and save his life, he revealed a bronze medallion with his flying squadron's emblem, confirming he was an American pilot. The French spared his life and celebrated by giving him a bottle of wine instead," wrote Heitzman. Carrying a unit coin became a tradition for the saved pilot's squadron in Germany. Coin challenges developed as a way to ensure everyone was carrying their coin. If they didn't have it, they would be buying drinks. But coins are much more than just a fun tradition that leads to drinks. They also are exchanged on important occasions and mark significant events in a service member's career. Many service members display important coins in cases as a reminder. Pope Francis would have no trouble participating in a coin challenge. The Vatican has a long history of creating papal coins. The 2016 Pope Francis coins available from the Vatican are genuine euro tender and range in value from one euro-cent to a 50-euro gold coin that sells for 1,090 euro.- - -Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.