Join the Pope St. John Paul II Novena for World Youth Day!

World Youth Day is coming up in less than three weeks in Krakow, Poland.

This massive event, started by Pope St. John Paul II, is hosted only every three years and draws millions of young Catholics. It’s a time for deepening their faith, discovering or rediscovering it, making friendships and connections with other Catholics across the world.

Can We Get 100,000 Amens?

One of the pilgrims going to World Youth Day downloaded my Pray Novenas app and then requested that I add Pope St. John Paul II in time for WYD.

Pope St. John Paul II novena for World Youth DayIn all the bustle of life I had forgotten that WYD was coming so soon, but I immediately added a JPII novena and messaged her back. Just a short time later sixty-five people were praying the novena.

But then I thought: what if could get 100,000 Catholics around the world praying this novena for World Youth Day and the pilgrims? How awesome would that be?

Pope St. John Paul II grew up in Poland, is the patron of WYD, and was archbishop of Krakow before becoming Pope, so he is the perfect saint to ask for prayers for this great event.

Be Not Afraid!

Pope St. John Paul II was the Pope that led my wife to discover authentic Catholicism. He was the Pope who I looked to as I contemplated becoming Catholic. His life was an inspiration to us and hundreds of millions of young Catholics around the world.

He told us that he believed in us, to not be afraid, to put out into the deep, to love Christ and others. And that is exactly what we have sought to do in our lives.

I’m too old for WYD now. The baton has passed to a younger generation, but I am hopeful and excited for the kindling of their faith by the power of the Holy Spirit during this event.

Let us pray for them, for protection against forces of wickedness, for growth in faith, for the discovering of vocations, for healing and for wisdom.

Join this massive outpouring of prayer and share this post with your Catholic friends to invite them to join in as well.

Get the free app and on July 23rd begin praying the JPII novena!

If you can’t pray with us, simply reference the novena below.

Novena to Pope St. John Paul II for WYD

(Credit for the prayers of this novena go to the JP2 Falcons and the John Paul II Training Center.)

Pope St. John Paul II was born Karol Wojtyla in 1920 in Poland. His mother died when he was a boy, and then as a late teen he faced the Nazi occupation of Poland.

In spite of the Nazis, he studied for the priesthood and was ordained in 1946. He went on to become auxiliary bishop of Krakow in 1958, and four years later was influential in the Second Vatican Council. In the 1960s he became Archbishop of Krakow then was elevated to the College of Cardinals.

After the surprising death of Pope John Paul I in 1978, Pope St. John Paul II was elected bishop of Rome, the first non-Italian pope in over 450 years.

JPII’s great love and wisdom inspired youth around the world. He tirelessly visited countless countries, bringing hope to people and spreading the Gospel of Christ.

He inaugurated World Youth Day, and every three years millions of young Catholics flock to the destination where the Pope leads them to go deeper in their faith.

Pope St. John Paul II died in April 2005.

Intro prayer for each day

O Blessed Trinity, we thank you for having graced the Church with Saint John Paul II and for allowing the tenderness of your fatherly care, the glory of the Cross of Christ and the splendor of the Spirit of love to shine through him.

Trusting fully in your infinite mercy and in the maternal intercession of Mary, he has given us a living image of Jesus the Good Shepherd. He has shown us that holiness is the necessary measure of ordinary Christian life and is the way of achieving eternal communion with you.

Grant us, by his intercession, and according to your will, the graces we implore (mention your intention here), through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Day 1

Dear St. John Paul II, you told us: The future starts today, not tomorrow. So, as we start our nine days with you, thank you for reminding me that with God’s Help, I can start again, but I need to start now, not at some point in the future. Your words are encouraging and motivating to me. Please be with me as I progress through these nine days in prayer with you.

Day 2

Dear John Paul, you told us: “I plead with you–never , ever give up on hope, never doubt, never tire, and never become discouraged. Be not afraid.” With your help, I will not give up my hope, I will be persistent and unafraid.

Day 3

Dear St. John Paul, you told us: “Have no fear of moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing that I am with you, therefore no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.” What more can I say, but thank you for your confidence in me. Help me have complete faith in God. Stand with me at all times as my intercessor and spiritual guide until I get to Heaven.

Day 4

Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure. Dear St. John Paul, just like St. Paul who described his journey as a race, you tell me that life with Jesus is a wonderful adventure. Life is not a sprint for me, but rather a winding marathon with its curves and its ups and downs. Help me by being with me at all times as I struggle in this race toward Christ.

Day 5

Dear St. John Paul, you tell me: Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. Let me be joyful on this wonderful adventure. Let me always have a true Christian joy in my path in life. Help me always be doing the Will of God in my life.

Day 6

Anything done for another is done for oneself. Dear John Paul, you tell us, just as Christ did, the Golden Rule. How simple it is to hear, yet so difficult, at times, to do. Be with me and help me see God in my neighbor, and in those I find unbearable

Day 7

The goal and target of our life is He, the Christ who awaits us — each one singly and altogether — to lead us across the boundaries of time to the eternal embrace of the God who loves us. Help me, dear St. John Paul to remember that God is the end-all. In every moment of my life, I need to be focused on my life with Christ, so that when my earthly life ends, my eternal life can begin with Jesus.

Day 8

People are made for happiness. Rightly, then, you thirst for happiness. Christ has the answer to this desire of yours. But He asks you to trust Him. True joy is a victory , something which cannot be obtained without a long and difficult struggle. Christ holds the secret of this victory.” Dear St. John Paul II, once again, you in simple words tell us that God is our victorious Savior; nothing is more important life with Him.

Day 9

Your motto was Totus tuus, or Totally yours (of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Dear St. John Paul, the surest, straightest road to Christ is through His Mother. When I am lost in life’s brambles, ask Our Lady to come rescue me and bring me back to the road that Jesus wants me on. Teach me your love for Mary.

Concluding Prayer for each day

Our Father
Hail Mary
Glory Be
(Optional) Divine Mercy Chaplet

Navigating the Tiber: Your Guidebook Has Arrived

I’m happy to announce that my second book from Catholic Answers has just been published: Navigating the Tiber: How to Help Your Friends and Family Journey Toward the Catholic Faith.

Origins of the Book

I was sitting at lunch one day with friends: one Catholic, two Protestants, and we were having a series of in-depth discussions about whether Catholicism was true or Protestantism was better.

Navigating the Tiber
Navigating the Tiber

The debate ranged all over: justification, the canon of Scripture, sola Scriptura, Bible interpretation, authority, perspicuity, Church Fathers, sacraments, and more.

My friend, George, asked me after each discussion how I decided to choose one topic over another, or use one argument to rebut their point versus a different one. We were able to talk one-on-one and I could mentor him in apologetics, not just the arguments but also the soft skills, the psychology, and how to connect one topic to another.

I could sit next to George each week and do this, but I couldn’t replicate that to all the other Catholics who have ever been in a discussion with Protestant friends and family, feeling stumped or confused or scared because the arguments their friends were making sounded so strong.

Navigating the Tiber was born.

This is the book I would give to any Catholic needing help in understanding Protestantism and helping their Protestant friends fairly consider the Catholic Church.

It takes you from defending your Faith to going on the offense and leading Protestants into Catholicism!

The Guidebook for Navigating the Tiber

The Tiber river flows through Rome and has been something of an unruly watercourse in its history with the city. To “cross the Tiber” means to become Catholic.

This metaphor became the book’s overall narrative image. I am helping you to navigate the waters of the Tiber with your friend, so that they can cross over. There are swift currents, dangerous shoals, hidden rocks, sea serpents, enemy ships, and many more obstacles that they (and you) will face. The book guides you through it all.

I actually wrote the initial draft for this book five years ago, before The Protestant’s Dilemma was even published. It was one of those manuscripts that just flowed out once the main idea was settled on. But over those five years I was able to hammer at it, refine it, add more experiences to it, and most of all work on it with my friend Todd Aglialoro at Catholic Answers.

Five years of hard word, whittled down to a concise paperback.

The goal: to equip you to lead Protestant friends to the Catholic Church.

Please do check it out, and let me know what you think!

A Novena Prayer Avalanche Has Started

Last week my neighbor and I launched Pray: the Catholic Novena App, and the response was staggering.

Thousands of Catholics downloaded and installed the app.

Countless novenas were begun.

Many people are even praying multiple novenas concurrently!

We Heard You: Facebook Login Removed!

Pray Catholic Novena app
Pray Catholic Novena app

Amid the tremendous positive feedback, one criticism emerged from many people: please remove the requirement to authenticate using facebook.

So we did.

We just released a new version of the app and the requirement to log in with facebook is gone.

For those interested, our rationale with having facebook integration from the get-go was to make it easy for you to invite friends to pray a novena with you. All friends who were also using the app and chose to be visible would show up as people you could notify when you started a novena so that they would pray it with you.

That feature is still there for those who do choose to connect the app to facebook, but if you choose not to then you can just pray the novena on your own (and email or text or call those friends and ask them to pray with you).

Reality is that so many people have had their facebook accounts hacked, or disagree with facebook’s ideologies and practices, or have had apps in the past that posted to facebook secretly without their permission, that they are (rightfully to a degree) wary and distrustful of facebook.

Boo for facebook.

Yay for praying novenas!

Why Make Such a Big Launch?

We did a coordinated launch that saw multiple blog posts from several sites go live on the same day:

I also did interviews on three radio shows including SonRise, Mater Dei, and Jen Fulwiler’s.

The reason for the big launch was to try to make a splash, especially in the Apple App Store.

Pray Catholic Novena App
Pray Catholic Novena App

The challenge nowadays with mobile apps is people finding them. With millions of apps, how does someone find yours?

Apple has algorithms that key off things like number of downloads, search terms used, number of installs, etc. Our app went to #2 in the search results for the word “Pray” and then became #1 as the launch went on. This is an incredible success. (The #1 app for Pray was an Islamic one for Ramadan.)

With the help of many friends we were able to get “above the fold” and on the radar of Apple’s search results, helping Catholics find us who 1) don’t read blogs and 2) don’t listen to Catholic radio.

Of course, longer term the best way for Catholics finding out about the app is for Catholics using the app to share it with them. We have already seen that happening but hope it grows even more.

Why Do Any of This?

Novenas are sort of hard to pray. Most Catholics don’t know about them or don’t bother praying them. But that’s a great shame! They are rich sources of devotion and can aid our spiritual lives greatly.

So we want Catholics to, first, pray novenas period, especially if they never have. Second we want Catholics to pray novenas regularly and to encourage them to complete the novenas they start. Third we want them to pray the novenas they want to pray when they want to pray them, for the intention they want to offer. Fourth we want to help them pray novenas together.

The app does all this, and we will continue to improve it. We’ve gotten hundreds of requests for new novenas–I put them in by hand one-by-one so it will take me a while to get to them all!

Also, we will eventually put in a way for people who like the app to be a patron of it; this will be optional and they will get some cool benefits we are working out, but it will enable us to improve the app and maintain its servers.

Imagine every Catholic in the world praying novenas! And God answering.

The world would change.

Let’s start it today.