Manila, Philippines, Jan 18, 2015 / 04:39 am (CNA/EWTN News) – The Vatican’s spokesman said that papal history was made Sunday during Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines where an estimated 6 to 7 million people attended his closing Mass.

“The official number that has been given to us is between six and seven million,” Father Federico Lombardi told journalists at a press conference in Manila on Sunday, calling it the “largest event of the history of the Popes.”

In his homily for the Jan. 18 Closing Mass in the Philippines, Pope Francis pointed to our identity as God’s children, calling for the protection of the family against the numerous attacks that threaten it.

On Monday, our nation will celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A movie has just been released, Selma, which is based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches in Alabama. In the past several months, the news media has focused on white police officers who have fatally apprehended black criminals, which has caused much racial tension in our country. Some may wonder how much progress we have made since the 1960s. We as Christians have the opportunity to reflect on our own attitudes toward people of different skin colors, cultures, and languages. How is Dr. King’s dream of racial equality and harmony (achieved in a non-violent way) being enacted in our lives as Americans and as Catholics? If we struggle with prejudice of any sort, are we honest with ourselves and with God so that we can overcome these destructive attitudes?

On January 22 our nation will mark the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion legal throughout the U.S.

Since that tragic decision, more than 56 million children’s lives have been lost to abortion, and many suffer that loss — often in silence.

Join the Diocese of Tyler and millions of Catholics across the country by coming together in prayer for a “culture of life” from Saturday, January 17 –  Sunday, January 25.

Bishop Joseph Strickland has issued a liturgical instruction to the clergy and lay faithful of the Diocese of Tyler designed to foster a better understanding of the ritual “Sign of Peace” offered during Holy Mass and to ensure that this rite is carried out in a reverent manner.

The instruction comes after discussions by the Diocesan Liturgical Commission in response to the Circular Letter on the Ritual Expression of the Gift of Peace at Mass issued by the Holy See’s Congregation of Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments to the Bishops of the Church in the summer of 2014.

by Jennifer Gregory Miller for CatholicCulture.org

From the end of December into January, everyone is abuzz about making  New Year’s resolutions. Most resolutions revolve around health of the body: lose weight, exercise more, change bad eating habits. As we enter the third week of January, so many resolutions are already forgotten, broken, or being revised. The new gym memberships are lying fallow and exercise equipment is gathering dust. The gloomy winter weather weakens one’s willpower against comfort foods that are off the diet.

A new calendar and a new year gives a sense for many of a “clean slate” and inspires a fresh start or new beginnings. I’m not against making resolutions. I make my own and continually need to refresh them. But I find that making resolutions just for a new calendar year feels arbitrary and artificial. Applying new resolutions to change anything in my life needs to be balanced with the spiritual life. And I see that balance in two ways: 1) within the liturgical year 2) accomplished with God’s grace.