Category Archives: Prayers


Back in the fifteenth century, in a tiny village near Nuremberg, lived a family with eighteen children. Eighteen!

In order merely to keep food on the table for this big family, the father and head of the household, a goldsmith by profession, worked almost eighteen hours a day at his trade and any other paying chore he could find in the neighbourhood.

Despite their seemingly hopeless condition, two of Albrecht Durer the Elder’s children had a dream. They both wanted to pursue their talent for art, but they knew full well that their father would never be financially able to send either of them to Nuremberg to study at the Academy.

After many long discussions at night in their crowded bed, the two boys finally worked out a pact. They would toss a coin. The loser would go down into the nearby mines and, with his earnings, support his brother while he attended the academy. Then, when that brother who won the toss completed his studies, in four years, he would support the other brother at the academy, either with sales of his artwork or, if necessary, also by labouring in the mines.

They tossed a coin on a Sunday morning after church. Albrecht Durer won the toss and went off to Nuremberg.

Praying Hands

This is Albert Durer’s Hands painted by his brother Albrecht Durer

Albert went down into the dangerous mines and, for the next four years, financed his brother, whose work at the academy was almost an immediate sensation. Albrecht’s etchings, his woodcuts, and his oils were far better than those of most of his professors, and by the time he graduated, he was beginning to earn considerable fees for his commissioned works.

When the young artist returned to his village, the Durer family held a festive dinner on their lawn to celebrate Albrecht’s triumphant homecoming. After a long and memorable meal, punctuated with music and laughter, Albrecht rose from his honoured position at the head of the table to drink a toast to his beloved brother for the years of sacrifice that had enabled Albrecht to fulfil his ambition. His closing words were, “And now, Albert, blessed brother of mine, now it is your turn. Now you can go to Nuremberg to pursue your dream, and I will take care of you.”

All heads turned in eager expectation to the far end of the table where Albert sat, tears streaming down his pale face, shaking his lowered head from side to side while he sobbed and repeated, over and over, “No …no …no …no.”

Finally, Albert rose and wiped the tears from his cheeks. He glanced down the long table at the faces he loved, and then, holding his hands close to his right cheek, he said softly, “No, brother. I cannot go to Nuremberg. It is too late for me. Look … look what four years in the mines have done to my hands! The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass to return your toast, much less make delicate lines on parchment or canvas with a pen or a brush. No, brother … for me it is too late.”

More than 450 years have passed. By now, Albrecht Durer’s hundreds of masterful portraits, pen and silver point sketches, water-colours, charcoals, woodcuts, and copper engravings hang in every great museum in the world, but the odds are great that you, like most people, are familiar with only one of Albrecht Durer’s works. More than merely being familiar with it, you very well may have a reproduction hanging in your home or office.

One day, to pay homage to Albert for all that he had sacrificed, Albrecht Durer painstakingly drew his brother’s abused hands with palms together and thin fingers stretched skyward. He called his powerful drawing simply “Hands,” but the entire world almost immediately opened their hearts to his great masterpiece and renamed his tribute of love “The Praying Hands.”

The next time you see a copy of that touching creation, take a second look. Let it be your reminder, if you still need one, that no one – no one – – ever makes it alone!


Pope explains what the opening lines of the Apocalypse can teach us about prayer

The Pope made a short visit to the Vatican to lead Wednesday’s general audience. With roughly 7,000 people in attendance, the Pope talked about the opening lines of the Apocalypse, by explaining the power of prayer. Benedict XVI said  prayer is much more than just words and requests, but rather it’s a way to speak with God and to listen to Him. After the general audience, the Pope returned to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“Today we consider the theme of prayer as found at the start of the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse.  In some ways, it is a difficult book, but it contains many riches.  Even the opening verses of the Book contain a great deal: they tell us that prayer means, above all, listening to the God who speaks to us.

Today, amid the din of so many useless words, many people have lost the habit of listening, even to God’s word.  The opening lines of the Apocalypse teach us that prayer is not just more words, asking God to grant our various needs, but rather it must begin as praise to God for his love, and for his gift of Jesus Christ, who has brought us strength, hope and salvation.

We are to welcome Jesus into our lives, to proclaim our “Yes!” to Christ and to nourish and deepen our Christian living.  Constant prayer will reveal to us the meaning of God’s presence in our lives and in history.  Prayer with others, liturgical prayer in particular, will deepen our awareness of the crucified and risen Jesus in our midst.  Thus, the more we know, love and follow Christ, the more we will want to meet him in prayer, for he is the peace, hope and strength of our lives.

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today, including those from England, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, and the United States.  I am especially pleased to welcome the group of Missionary Sisters Servants of the Holy Spirit as well as the young men and women of the Focolare Movement who have been participating in this year’s Genfest in Budapest.  Dear young people, you have taken to heart Christ’s call to promote unity in the human family by courageously building bridges.

I therefore encourage you: be strong in your Catholic faith; and let the simple joy, the pure love, and the profound peace that come from the encounter with Jesus Christ make you radiant witnesses of the Good News before the young people of your own lands.  God bless all of you abundantly!”




Easter from Bjorn Amundsen on Vimeo.

“The Crucible” [도가니 — Dogani]

“The Crucible” [도가니], is a South Korean Movie (originally a Novel written  Gong Ji-Young) based on a true story of deaf students at Gwangju Inhwa School who were sexually abused by the Head Masters and a teacher in the early 2000.

The children lost the case. However, the film has sparked public outcry over lenient court rulings, prompting police to reopen the case and lawmakers to introduce bills for the human rights of the vulnerable.

After watching the film, I was able to come up with this aphorism:

Some says that we should change the world. Still others, says that we should not change the world but our attitudes. But I say, “we should neither change the world nor our attitudes. we should just not let the world change us!”

I pray that all those who have the chance to watch it will be moved; that the people who were wronged be justified; and the people who were involved in this crime against the helpless and hopeless children be punished accordingly.

Below are some links to the film and to the original case.

Official trailer:

A Student’s Prayer — St. Thomas Aquinas

Creator of all things,
true source of light and wisdom,
origin of all being,
graciously let a ray of your light penetrate
the darkness of my understanding.

Take from me the double darkness
in which I have been born,
an obscurity of sin and ignorance.

Give me a keen understanding,
a retentive memory, and
the ability to grasp things
correctly and fundamentally.

Grant me the talent
of being exact in my explanations
and the ability to express myself
with thoroughness and charm.

Point out the beginning,
direct the progress,
and help in the completion.

I ask this through Christ our Lord.

The Eucharist

Nihil Obstat (Nothing contrary to the faith): Rev. Fr. Isidro Rodriguez

It has been previously established that the Eucharist must occupy the center and summit of the whole priestly life and ministry. That is why it is encouraged that priests must celebrate the Eucharist at least daily, even if there is no assembly gathered. Such was the importance placed by the Holy Father in the celebration of the Eucharist in the life of priests that he even extends it to those who are still in formation like us. In Pastores Dabo Vobis, the Holy Father has this to say to those undergoing priestly formation: “It is fitting that seminarians take part everyday in Eucharistic celebration, in such a way that afterwards, they will take it up as a rule in their priestly life this daily celebration.” The practice of going to Mass must start from the very moment a person enters the seminary. When the time comes that the same person is ordained into the ministry, what initially began as a practice has now become a habit. I think this is the whole thrust of the seminary formation and the wisdom behind the long years that is involved in the training of future ministers.

Habits, values, and virtues are qualities which can be acquired through time. They are not to be taken as independent realities; rather, as experience would tell us, they are elements of a single movement. Habits that are formed through the repetition of a similar act would reveal a deeper meaning aside from the act itself that is being performed. This deeper meaning in the repeated performance of an act is what we call value. When one no longer sees the act itself but the reason and purpose behind its performance, then one has already placed a value on that specific act.

Another corollary element besides time in the overall movement from habits to virtues is constancy. This refers to the repetition of an act done on a regular basis. This constancy in the performance of an act will gradually elevate that act from simply a habit into the level of virtue, wherein the act is no longer seen as something external to the person performing such; rather he sees it as an integral part of his person. This is the principle behind the structured schedules being implemented in the seminary. They are not intended as an end for themselves alone but are directed towards honing virtues.

 Time and constancy are two important elements in the training of future ministers of the church not only in their spiritual life but even goes further to the other aspects as well. In a similar fashion, therefore, when a seminarian during his formation developed the habit of attending the celebration of the Eucharist, then in all probability, this same person when he becomes priest will celebrate it also faithfully.

But the formative aspect of the Eucharist does not end in the development of virtue. It is presupposed that after a seminarian has learned to place a substantial amount of value in his daily attendance in the Eucharistic celebration, it will gradually enable him to develop a specific way of life – a Eucharistic spirituality. It is clear that the frequent or daily reception of the Blessed Eucharist increases their union with Christ, nourishes the spiritual life more abundantly, strengthens the soul in virtue, and gives the communicant a stronger pledge of eternal happiness.