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September 4th, 2008

Tony Melendez – Inspirational Video With Pope

Tony Melendez – Inspirational Video With Pope

It was an unforgettable moment when, on September 15, 1987, Tony Melendez played his guitar for Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles. Born without arms, he performed a touching song entitled ‘Never Be The Same’. When the Pope approached him from the stage to kiss him in appreciation, it seemed to reflect the sentiments of the entire country.

Tony Melendez and Pope John Paul 2

Never Be the Same was an appropriate song, for those few moments changed Tony Melendez’ life and brought his unrestrained abilities as a guitarist into national attention. It seems to be a fitting place for a man who has spent his life putting personal confidence above his handicap.

A “thalidomide baby,” Tony was born without arms because his mother was prescribed thalidomide a drug used to help calm morning sickness during her pregnancy. He was brought to the Los Angeles area from Nicaragua to be fitted with artificial arms. He wore them until he was ten, when he disposed of them. “I didn’t feel comfortable,” he explains, “I could use my feet so much more.”

His proficiency with his feet extended to more areas than just day-to-day care. He remembers that “at first, I started playing push-button organ. Then in high school I began playing around with the guitar and harmonica.” He also began writing his own songs. Whether it was “playing around” with music or merely adjusting to a normal high school routine, Tony never let his handicap get in his way. “I was pretty secure in what I could do,” he says.

It was also in high school that he became deeply involved in the Catholic Church. “I went when I was a kid because my parents took me. I drifted away as I got a little older. When I was in high school, my brother kept saying ‘come on, you’ve gotta go. It’s great!’ So I went again and made a lot of friends, and wound up changing my life in the process.

During this time, he considered becoming a priest but couldn’t, because priests were required to have an index finger and thumb. The news disappointed him but he persevered in his church activities, using his talents as a guitarist and composer for masses and church related events. Demand for him increased to the point where he was directing and singing in music groups at up to five masses on a given Sunday. It caught people’s attention, including someone with the group organizing activities for the monumental visit of Pope John Paul II in 1987.

“Someone pulled my name out of somewhere and asked me to go to a meeting,” Tony recalls. “I wasn’t sure what it was.” It turned out to be an audition and Tony was accepted. “I was really excited when I heard.”

Excitement became nervousness and then jubilation when the Pope responded to Tony’s playing, with a kiss. He notes now that he wasn’t sure how to react. “I was told not to move or the security might take me out, so I was very surprised when the Pope leaped off the four-foot stage to greet me.”

Since then Tony has traveled across the United States and forty foreign countries, making countless television appearances, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, Geraldo, CBS This Morning, The Late Show with Arsenio Hall, 700 Club, Robert Schuller, and prime-time network specials for Variety Clubs and Very Special Arts. He also performed at The World Series, where he sang the National Anthem for the fifth game of the 1989 series. Tony has had the opportunity to give four additional performances for the Pope, twice in the Vatican and the another in the Pope’s homeland of Poland, and in Denver Colorado for World Youth Day 1993. Along with television and major personal appearances, newspapers and magazines articles have appear on him through out the world. Now an author his best-selling autobiography, A Gift of Hope, was published in 1989 by Harper & Row.

He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including special commendations from President Reagan, The State of California, Variety Clubs of America, Very Special Arts, The City of Los Angeles, and countless other civic and charitable organizations. He has also received the first annual Inspirational Hero Award from the NFL Alumni Association at Super Bowl XXIII in Miami.

A highly talented composer and musician, Tony recorded his first album in 1989, a collection of contemporary Christian songs entitled, Never Be the Same, which resulted in nominations for Best New Artist of the Year from Cashbox Magazine and the Gospel Music Association. His debut Spanish LP, El Muro Se Cayo And The Walls Came Tumblin’ Down, was released to critical acclaim by Latin radio stations across the country. Ways of the Wise, Tony’s second Christian album, includes the musical talents of Gary Chapman and Phil Keaggy. The fall of 1990 CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) Magazine Top Pop List charted Ways of the Wise, Tony’s first single released from the album, at #3.

Tony’s latest album Hands In Heaven (Toe Jam Music), which he co-produced, is a musical look into the heart and soul. Selections such as “Lowly Servant,” is a prayer for help and guidance in the struggles of life. “Everybody Sing,” is an uplifting Calypso praise and worship song. “Love Is the Answer,” is a remake of the 1970’s England Dan & John Ford Coley hit. “I Wish I Could Hold You; ” Tony’s touching dedication to his wife Lynn and kids. The title song, “Hands In Heaven,” is a beautiful tribute to those friends and relatives who have passed on and are now praying for us before the throne of God in Heaven – all reflect the perceptive and deeply-rooted insights into the life and faith of Tony Melendez.

Currently, Tony resides in Branson Missouri, which is most known for its small-town hospitality and world class entertainment. “Lynn and I love each other deeply and music brought us together. So, one day we’ll share all of these memories with our children. Music has opened the door to my dreams and I will keep singing, continue to share my life, and keep making’ music for all who will listen.”

Also watch Nick Vujicic in another most inspirational video

August 17th, 2008

Pope John Paul II Shot In Vatican

 

Take a look at the video above showing TV reports on the assasination attempt on  Pope John Paul II in the Vatican on May 13th, 1981, done by a turkish Mehmet Ali Agca.

 

One frame from a spool of 8mm film catches a hand holding a gun (pic above in white circle) rising above the crowd and aiming at Pope John Paul II as he rides through St. Peter’s Square. An instant later, the pontiff was shot.

On May 13, 1981: A young Turk, Mehmet Alì Agca, shot the pope in the abdomen and hand while he circles St. Peter’s Square. The pope is hospitalized for 22 days.

Pope John Paul II met with his would-be assassin, Turkish terrorist Mehmet Ali Agca, in Agca’s prison cell in Rome. Italy’s President Carlo Azeglio Ciampi pardoned Mehmet Ali Agca in 2000 and Italian Justice Minister Piero Fassino then authorized Agca’s extradition to Turkey to serve a prison sentence for an unrelated killing.

During a private meeting following Pope John Paul II’s weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, the pope embraced Muzeyen Agca, mother of Mehmet Ali Agca – the man who shot the Pontiff 15 years earlier. Agca’s lawyer said she plans to file appeals with Italian authorities either for his pardon or transfer to Turkey.

According to a Vatican spokesman, the Pontiff personally intervened with Italian authorities to gain the release and pardon of Mehmet Ali Agca, the Turk who sought to kill him in 1981. The Pontiff, speaking to children at a Rome parish on Oct. 10, 1999, said the teachings of Christ instructed him to forgive Agca.

Important dates on this:-

The Pope Shot!: On May 13, at 5:19 p.m. a young Turk Mehmet Alì Agca shoots the Pope in the abdomen and hand while he circles St. Peter’s Square… Severely, wounded, the Pope was operated on for 6 hours at Gemelli hospital, and he was hospitalized for 22 days.

On May 17, John Paul II recites the Angelus at Gemelli hospital: “Pray for the brother who shot me, whom I have sincerely forgiven”.

On June 20, the Pope is hospitalized for an infection linked to his shooting injuries. He undergoes surgery on Aug. 5, and is discharged nine days later.

On July 15, 1992, John Paul II undergoes surgery to remove a benign intestinal tumor. He is released from Gemelli Polyclinic 11 days later.

On No.11, 1993, while in the Hall of Benediction, the Pope dislocates his right shoulder during a fall at the end of the audience. He undergoes operation and spends one day at the hospital. His shoulder is immobilized for one month.

On April 29, 1994, following an accidental fall, which caused a fracture of the right femur, John Paul II recovers at Gemelli Polyclinic after undergoing hip replacement surgery. He is released 28 days later.

On Oct.6, 1996, the Pope enters the hospital for surgery to remove an inflamed appendix. His scheduled operation takes place on the morning of Oct. 8. He is released a week later.

Parkinson’s disease: On Jan.3, 2001, after months of speculation, one of the pope’s physicians confirms that the pontiff is suffering from Parkinson’s disease. John Paul’s left hand visibly trembles and he has a slow, stooped gait – all symptoms of Parkinson’s.

See Mother Mary holding John Paul II in Her arms when he was shot

July 18th, 2008

World Youth Day, Sydney

A boat carrying Pope sails on Sydney Harbor A crowd of over 200,000 watch Pope seen on screen Catholic clergy listen as Pope addresses pilgrims Police hold back barricades as pilgrims try to catch a glimpse

Pope and Australian Governor General Sir Michael Jeffery receive a general salute Pope Benedict XVI flanked by youths aboard of Sydney 2000 vessel Pope Benedict XVI gestures to the thousands of pilgrims at Bangaroo Pope Benedict XVI inspects a guard of honor as part of World Youth Day

Pope Benedict XVI inspects a guard of honour during the ceremonial welcome Pope Benedict XVI inspects an Honor Guard at Government House Pope Benedict XVI is introduced by Cardinal George Pell pope prays at shrine at the mary mackillop memorial chapel

Pope Benedict XVI prays at the shrine Pope Benedict XVI raises his hands as he walks with Australian Governor General Pope Benedict XVI remarks as Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd listens Pope Benedict XVI shakes hands with Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence

Pope Benedict XVI watches a group of aboriginal dancers Pope Benedict XVI waves after he arrives at Government House in Sydney Pope Benedict XVI waves as he inspects an Honor Guard Pope Benedict XVI waves as he leave Bangaroo after  World Youth Day

Pope Benedict XVI waves from his pope mobile as he arrives at Bangaroo Pope Benedict XVI waves from the stage as he arrives at Bangaroo Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims as he passes the Sydney Opera House Pope Benedict XVI waves while arriving at Bangaroo

Pope flanked by Cardinal George Pell greets pilgrims Pope is welcomed to Australia by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd Pope leaving after World Youth Day The World Youth Day Cross is transported across Sydney Harbor

Thousands of pilgrims wait for the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI Youths walk with flags at the Barangaroo East Darling Harbour in Sydney. Pope Benedict XVI listens as Australian Prime Minister welcomes him Kevin Rudd,Wife and Pope

Pope embraces an aboriginal elder Pope  listens at St Marys Cathedral Crypt Pope signs visitors book at Admiralty House Youths pray near candles at St. Marys Cathedral

Sydney has never seen anything like it since the Olympics. Not even that event, however, could match the spectacle of a papal ‘boatacade’ gliding past the bridge and the opera house to deliver Pope Benedict into the cheering embrace of 200,000 young people from around the world.

The Pope’s arrival at World Youth Day had a theatrical quality worthy of the media world in which today’s young people live. By contrast, his message to them was delivered in a self-effacing, direct manner, making clear that the Pope refuses to cast himself as a rock star; he is a teacher and he set about teaching. The young listened with great respect, some closing their eyes, concentrating deeply on his words. He commended to them the care of the planet that he had flown over, inviting them to live by the values of truth, beauty and goodness as the way to heal the scars not only of our planet but also of our souls. Cries of delight erupted as the Pope concluded by greeting the different language groups. The final singing of the World Youth Day anthem, Receive the Power of the Holy Spirit, had the crowd in full voice, hands lifted high and swaying gently in time with the simple alleluia of the chorus, all nationalities united in one word and one gesture.

You would have to be hard hearted not to be moved by so many young people singing their hearts out affirming their acceptance of the Pope’s demanding invitation to follow Christ. Yet hard hearted is exactly the quality that has characterised the Australian media coverage leading up to the event. The city’s leading daily, the Sydney Morning Herald, has for weeks been pursuing an agenda highlighting the civic disruption, the cost to the taxpayer and a whole host of local concerns summed up in the headline ‘The Stations of the Very Cross.’ In parallel, the national TV channel, ABC, led a concerted attack on Cardinal Pell, with ‘Lateline’ (think Newsnight) running negative stories about his alleged mishandling of cases of clerical abuse. All the perpetrators had gone to jail but the Cardinal was still in the firing line from the victims or their families. Insensitive remarks by church spokesmen prolonged the agony. This coverage had become so negative by the weekend before the Pope’s arrival, that The Australian ran a leading article saying that the Sydney Morning Herald and the ABC were guilty of ‘squalid myopia’, urging Australians to be proud of hosting WYD in Sydney. Surprisingly, the BBC correspondent in Australia appears to be following the ABC agenda, so BBC reports are heavily weighted towards the clerical abuse agenda. Stunning images of joyful young people lining Sydney harbour were accompanied by a commentary on clerical abuse.

The Sydneysiders themselves have greeted the young with warmth and delight, so eventually the Sydney Morning Herald has run feel good headlines. But the experience of those of us simultaneously watching the events and the media is not just how different the reports are to the event. Rather, I am left with a feeling that while the young are full of energetic hope, bringing soul to one of the world’s great cities, the Australian hierarchy is struggling to cope with its detractors. The Pope will sail through this but how will the local church be when the Pope and the pilgrims have left? The youth will have been deeply affirmed in their faith, for sure, and I pray that the same will be true for the Australian Catholic Church.

The media in Australia, hate what they cannot control and influence. Media, the world over, know the press gives power. That is why the rich own papers and T.V stations. The press lose control when the faityhful gather at events like WYD. They press don’t set the adenda, and so they attack.

Generally the media is quite anti-Christianity, particularly  Catholics or Evangelicals. I don’t know if its secular institutional bias or market forces: sex sells! I mean who cares about the thousands in Burma, Zimbabwe or Iraq surviving on church provision? And true to form, the world-wide media have ignored this  WYD event. Google, had one, only one entry on this event, and it led with the BBC lead line about clerical abuse.

Seems no one wants to hear “good news” these days. Maybe because the “Good News” is counter-cultural.

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