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Vatican City, Dec 3, 2016 / 07:07 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis has again captured the hearts of the world, with a tear-jerking letter to a young Italian girl dying from cancer, which was read aloud at the girl's funeral once she passed away. 2 hours 26 min
Vatican City, Dec 2, 2016 / 09:58 am (EWTN News/CNA).- While he was in town for a global meeting on the crisis in the Mediterranean region, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry stopped by the Vatican for a meeting with Pope Francis that likely centered largely on the challenges of migration. 23 hours 35 min
Rome, Italy, Dec 2, 2016 / 08:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- A nun in the Democratic Republic of Congo was murdered earlier this week by unknown suspects in an apparent robbery, the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions has reported.
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Vatican City, Dec 2, 2016 / 06:15 am (EWTN News/CNA).- In his latest prayer video, which highlights his prayer intention for the month of December, Pope Francis focused on putting an end to the phenomenon of child-soldiers, which he called a "form of slavery." 1 day 3 hours
Vatican City, Dec 2, 2016 / 05:35 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Stephen Hawking's visit to the Vatican this week has raised curiosity, with some asking what exactly the famed astrophysicist and self-proclaimed atheist was doing in the heart of the Catholic Church. 1 day 3 hours
Washington D.C., Dec 2, 2016 / 05:11 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a death penalty case that could determine the fate of a man whom lawyers say is intellectually disabled.
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Amsterdam, Netherlands, Dec 2, 2016 / 05:09 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- A doctor in the Netherlands performed euthanasia on a 41 year-old father of two who claimed his alcoholism had made his life unbearable. 1 day 4 hours
Oklahoma City, Okla., Dec 2, 2016 / 01:40 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of Father Stanley Rother, a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City who served in Guatemala, making him the first martyr to have been born in the United States. 1 day 7 hours
Fatima, Portugal, Dec 1, 2016 / 08:32 am (EWTN News/CNA).- For the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, Pope Francis has decided to grant a plenary indulgence opportunity throughout the entire anniversary year, which began Nov. 27, 2016, and will end Nov. 26, 2017.

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New Orleans, La., Dec 1, 2016 / 07:06 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- When most people think of New Orleans, they think of Mardi Gras. The raucous parades, elaborate masks, and colorful beads associated with the Carnival season are largely synonymous with the southern Louisiana city. 2 days 2 hours
Vatican City, Dec 1, 2016 / 07:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- In his message for the 2017 World Day of Prayer for Vocations, Pope Francis focused on the need to be "missionary disciples" who first fall in love with God, and are then propelled into action, zealously spreading the Good News they have heard. 2 days 2 hours
Washington D.C., Dec 1, 2016 / 04:02 am (EWTN News/CNA).- Angela Desa was 28 years-old when she got Essure, a form of permanent birth control made of flexible metal and polyester coils inserted into her fallopian tubes. 2 days 5 hours
Manila, Philippines, Dec 1, 2016 / 04:02 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- An uptick in terrorist activity may cause Masses and other liturgical celebrations to be suspended in the capital city of Manila, Philippines, the country's bishop's conference has announced.
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Vienna, Austria, Dec 1, 2016 / 02:08 am (EWTN News/CNA).- European leaders gathered this week at a conference in Vienna to discuss Christian persecution and its resounding effect on Europe, particularly emphasizing the need to seriously address religious discrimination and genocide around the world. 2 days 7 hours
Washington D.C., Dec 1, 2016 / 01:34 pm (EWTN News/CNA).- Pro-life leaders have expressed their dissatisfaction as House Democrats re-elected pro-abortion Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as the House Minority Leader. 2 days 7 hours
Vatican City, Nov 30, 2016 / 11:16 am (EWTN News/CNA).- On Wednesday, Pope Francis added world famous director Martin Scorsese to the list of Hollywood stars he has welcomed for a private meeting in the Vatican, following an official Rome preview of Scorsese's new film "Silence." 2 days 22 hours

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(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday greeted participants of the Fortune-Time Global Forum . The Forum brings together Fortune 500 and Time 100 leaders, who were discussing technology and jobs, global health, food and water, commitment to communities, energy and the environment, and financial inclusion—each representing critical elements related to poverty alleviation. “Our world today is marked by great unrest,” – Pope Francis told them – “Inequality between peoples continues to rise, and many communities are impacted directly by war and poverty, or the migration and displacement which flow from them.  People want to make their voices heard and express their concerns and fears.” The Holy Father thanked them for their work promoting “the centrality and dignity of the human person within our institutions and economic models, and to draw attention to the plight of the poor and refugees, who are so often forgotten by society.” “When we ignore the cries of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we not only deny them their God-given rights and worth, but we also reject their wisdom and prevent them from offering their talents, traditions and cultures to the world,” – he continued – “In so doing, the poor and marginalized are made to suffer even more, and we ourselves grow impoverished, not only materially, but morally and spiritually.”   Pope Francis challenged the business leaders to respond to global levels of injustice by promoting a local – “and even personal” – sense of responsibility so that no one is excluded from participating in society.  “Thus, the question before us is how best to encourage one another and our respective communities to respond to the suffering and needs we see, both from afar and in our midst,” – the Holy Father said – “The renewal, purification and strengthening of solid economic models depends on our own personal conversion and generosity to those in need.”   The full text of Pope Francis’ speech is below   Greeting of His Holiness Pope Francis to Participants of the Fortune-Time Global Forum Saturday, 3 December 2016   Dear Friends, I am very pleased to welcome all of you who are participating in the Fortune-Time Global Forum, and I express my appreciation for your work these past two days.  I thank Mrs Nancy Gibbs and Mr Alan Murray for their kind words.  The theme you have chosen, “The 21st-Century Challenge: Forging a New Social Compact”, is very opportune and points to the urgent need for more inclusive and equitable economic models.  Your time together has allowed for a substantive exchange of ideas and sharing of information.  Important as this is, what is required now is not a new social compact in the abstract, but concrete ideas and decisive action which will benefit all people and which will begin to respond to the pressing issues of our day. I would like to offer a particular word of thanks for all that you are doing to promote the centrality and dignity of the human person within our institutions and economic models, and to draw attention to the plight of the poor and refugees, who are so often forgotten by society.  When we ignore the cries of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we not only deny them their God-given rights and worth, but we also reject their wisdom and prevent them from offering their talents, traditions and cultures to the world.  In so doing, the poor and marginalized are made to suffer even more, and we ourselves grow impoverished, not only materially, but morally and spiritually.   Our world today is marked by great unrest.  Inequality between peoples continues to rise, and many communities are impacted directly by war and poverty, or the migration and displacement which flow from them.  People want to make their voices heard and express their concerns and fears.  They want to make their rightful contribution to their local communities and broader society, and to benefit from the resources and development too often reserved for the few.  While this may create conflict and lay bare the many sorrows of our world, it also makes us realize that we are living in a moment of hope.  For when we finally recognize the evil in our midst, we can seek healing by applying the remedy.  Your very presence here today is a sign of such hope, because it shows that you recognize the issues before us and the imperative to act decisively.  This strategy of renewal and hope calls for institutional and personal conversion; a change of heart that attaches primacy to the deepest expressions of our common humanity, our cultures, our religious beliefs and our traditions.  This fundamental renewal does not have to do simply with market economics, figures to be balanced, the development of raw materials and improvements made to infrastructures.  No, what we are speaking about is the common good of humanity, of the right of each person to share in the resources of this world and to have the same opportunities to realize his or her potential, a potential that is ultimately based on the dignity of the children of God, created in his image and likeness.              Our great challenge is to respond to global levels of injustice by promoting a local and even personal sense of responsibility so that no one is excluded from participating in society.  Thus, the question before us is how best to encourage one another and our respective communities to respond to the suffering and needs we see, both from afar and in our midst.  The renewal, purification and strengthening of solid economic models depends on our own personal conversion and generosity to those in need. I encourage you to continue the work you have begun at this Forum, and to seek ever more creative ways to transform our institutions and economic structures so that they may be able to respond to the needs of our day and be in service of the human person, especially those marginalized and discarded.  I pray too that you may involve in your efforts those whom you seek to help; give them a voice, listen to their stories, learn from their experiences and understand their needs.  See in them a brother and a sister, a son and a daughter, a mother and a father.  Amid the challenges of our day, see the human face of those you earnestly seek to help.  I assure you of my prayer that your efforts will bear fruit, and of the Catholic Church’s commitment to be a voice for those who otherwise are silenced.  Upon you, your families and all your colleagues, I invoke the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and peace. Thank you. (from Vatican Radio)... 3 hours 2 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the President of the Eastern Republic of Uruguay, Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas, in a private audience on Friday. A communiqué from the Holy See Press Office said the Pope and the President held cordial discussions, in which they evoked the historical ties between the Holy See and Uruguay, and their “common interests for the integral development of the human person, respect for human rights, and social peace”. In this context, the two men underlined the “role and positive contribution made by Catholic institutions to the society of Uruguay, especially in the areas of human promotion, formation, and aid to those most in need”. The press release goes on to say the Pope and the President spoke about the national and regional situation, with special emphasis on democratic institutions and the social and humanitarian situation on the continent. Vázquez subsequently met with the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin. (from Vatican Radio)... 23 hours 56 min
(Vatican Radio) Papal preacher Father Raniero Cantalamessa on Friday offered his first Advent Sermon  to  Pope Francis, focusing on the Holy Spirit’s action in the Church. As preacher to the Papal Household, Capucin Father Cantalamessa gives a meditation to the Pope, Cardinals and members of the Roman Curia every Friday morning in Lent and Advent in the Apostolic Palace’s “Redemptoris Mater” Chapel.  Father Cantalamessa was named papal preacher by St. John Paul II in 1980, and was confirmed by both by Benedict XVI and by Pope Francis. Please find below the full text of the Reflection translated by Marsha Daigle Williamson: I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT 1. The Innovation after the Council With the celebration of the 50th year of the end of the Second Vatican Council, the first “post-conciliar” period comes to a close and a new one begins. If the first period was categorized by problems relating to the “reception” of the Council, this new period will be characterized, I believe, by the completion and integration of the Council—in other words, by re-reading the Council in the light of the fruit it produced while also highlighting what was lacking in it or only present in a seminal phase. The major innovation in theology and in the life of the Church after the Council has a specific name: the Holy Spirit. The Council had certainly not ignored the Holy Spirit’s action in the Church, but it had spoken of it almost always “in passing,” often mentioning him but without emphasizing his central role, not even in The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. In one conversation during the time that we were together on the International Theological Commission, I remember that Father Yves Congar used a striking image in this regard: he spoke of a Holy Spirit who is sprinkled here and there throughout the texts like sugar sprinkled on top of pastries without, however, being part of the recipe itself.  Nevertheless, the thaw had begun. We can say that the intuition of St. John XXIII about the Council as “a new Pentecost for the Church” found its actualization only later after the conclusion of the Council, as has so often happened in the history of the Councils. In the coming year, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church will occur. It is one of the many signs—the most noticeable because of the magnitude of the phenomenon—of an awakening to the Holy Spirit and charisms in the Church. The Council had paved the way for this reception, speaking in Lumen gentium of the charismatic dimension of the Church alongside the institutional and hierarchical dimension and insisting on the importance of charisms.  In his homily for the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday in 2012, Benedict XVI affirmed, Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. Contemporaneously the renewed experience of the Holy Spirit stimulated theological reflection.  Soon after the Council, treatises on the Holy Spirit multiplied: among Catholics, that of Yves Congar,  of Karl Rahner,  of Heribert Mühlen,  and of Hans Urs von Balthasar ; among Lutherans, that of Jürgen Moltmann,  of Michael Welker,  and many others. On the part of the magisterium there was the encyclical Dominum et vivificantem (On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World) by St. John Paul II. In 1982 on the occasion of Sixteenth Centenary of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, that same Supreme Pontiff sponsored the International Congress of Pneumatology at the Vatican, and its proceedings were published in two large volumes called Credo in Spiritum Sanctum.  In recent years we have witnessed a decisive step forward in this direction. Toward the end of his career Karl Barth made a provocative statement that was in part a self-criticism. He said that in the future a new theology would be developed, the “theology of the third article.”  By “third article” he of course meant the article in the creed about the Holy Spirit. His suggestion did not fall on deaf ears. It has given rise to the present theological current that is precisely named the “Theology of the Third Article.” I do not think that such a current aims to substitute itself for traditional theology (and it would be mistake if it did); rather it is meant to come alongside of it and reinvigorate it. It proposes to make the Holy Spirit not only the object of one treatise, pneumatology, but also the atmosphere, so to speak, in which the whole life of the Church and all theological research unfolds—for the Holy Spirit is the “light of dogmas,” as an ancient Church Father described him. The most complete treatment of this recent theological current is a volume by scholars that appeared in English this last September called Third Article Theology.  Beginning with the great tradition of the trinitarian doctrine, theologians from various Christian Churches offer their contributions to this book as an introduction to a systematic theology that is more open to the Spirit and more responsive to current needs. As a Catholic, I too was invited to contribute to the book with an essay on “Christology and Pneumatology in the Early Centuries of the Church.” 2. The Creed Read from Below The reasons that warrant this new theological orientation are not only dogmatic but also historical. In other words, we can understand what the theology of the third article is and what it aims for if we keep in mind how the actual Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol came about. That history clearly points to the usefulness of examining that symbol “in reverse” at some point, that is, starting from the end instead of from the beginning. Let me explain what I mean. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol reflects the Christian faith in its ultimate phase after all the council clarifications and definitions were completed in the 5th century. It reflects the order reached at the end of the process of formulating the dogma, but it does not, however, reflect the process itself, faith in the making. In other words, it does not correspond to the process by which the faith of the Church was actually formed historically, nor does it correspond to the process by which someone arrives at faith today, understood as a living faith in a living God. In today’s creed one begins with God the Father and Creator and moves on from him to the Son and his redemptive work, and finally to the Holy Spirit operating in the Church. In reality, the faith followed a reverse path. It was the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit that brought the Church to discover who Jesus was and what his teaching was. With Paul and above all with John we reach the point of ascending from Jesus to the Father. It is the Paraclete who, according to Jesus’ promise (see Jn 16:13), leads the disciples into “all the truth” about himself and the Father. Basil of Caesarea summarizes the development of revelation and of salvation history this way:  The way of the knowledge of God lies from One Spirit through the One Son to the One Father, and conversely the natural Goodness and the inherent Holiness and the royal Dignity extend from the Father through the Only-begotten to the Spirit.  In other words, on the level of creation and being, everything comes from the Father, goes through the Son, and reaches us through the Spirit. However, in the order of redemption and conscious awareness, everything begins with the Holy Spirit, goes through the Son Jesus Christ, and returns to the Father. We could say that St. Basil is the real initiator of Third Article Theology! In the Western tradition this is expressed concisely in the final stanza of the hymn “Veni creator.” Addressing the Holy Spirit, the Church prays, Per te sciamus da Patrem  noscamus atque Filium, Te utriusque Spiritum credamus omni tempore. Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow the Father and the Son to know; and Thee, through endless times confessed, of both the eternal Spirit blest. This does not in the least mean that the Church’s creed is imperfect or that it needs to be reformulated.  It cannot be other than what it is. However, what is sometimes useful is to change our approach to reading it so as to retrace the path by which it was formulated. There is the same contrast between the two ways of approaching the creed—as a finished product or in its process of formulation—as there is, on the one hand, between leaving St. Catherine’s Monastery early in the morning and personally climbing Mount Sinai and, on the other hand, reading the account of someone who climbed it before we did. 3. A Commentary on the “Third Article” With this in view, I would like to offer reflections on some aspects of the Holy Spirit’s action in the three meditations for Advent, beginning precisely with the third article of the creed that pertains to him.  The article includes three great affirmations. Let us start with the first one that says, a)    “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.” The creed does not say that the Holy Spirit is “the” Lord (just above in the creed we proclaim, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ”!). “Lord” (in the original text, to kyrion, neuter!) indicates here the nature, not the person; it says what the Holy Spirit is but not who he is.  “Lord” means that the Holy Spirit shares in the lordship of God, that he is in the category of Creator, and not the category of a creature. In other words, he has a divine nature. The Church reached this certainty based not only on Scripture, but also on her own experience of salvation. The Spirit, wrote St. Athanasius, cannot be a creature because when we are touched by him (in the sacraments, in the word, in prayer), we experience entering into contact with God in person and not with his intermediary. If the Spirit divinizes us, it means that he is God himself.   Could we not say the same thing in the symbol of faith in a more explicit way, defining the Holy Spirit purely and simply as “God and consubstantial with the Father” as was done for the Son? Certainly, and this was the criticism of the definition quickly leveled by some bishops, including Gregory Nazianzus. However, for reasons of expediency and peace, saying the same the thing  with equivalent expressions was preferred, attributing to the Spirit, in addition to the title of “Lord,” the isotimia, that is, equality with the Father and the Son in being adored and glorified by the Church. The description of the Spirit as “the giver of life” is drawn from various passages in the New Testament: “It is the Spirit that gives life” (Jn 6:63); “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2); “the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45); “the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life” (1 Cor 3:6). Let us ask three questions here. First, what kind of life does the Holy Spirit give? The answer: divine life, the life of Christ. A supernatural life, not a natural super-life. He creates the new man, not Nietzsche’s superman with his “pride of life.” Second, where does he give us this life? The answer: in baptism, which is in fact represented as a “rebirth in the Spirit” (see Jn 3:5), in the sacraments, in the word of God, in prayer, in faith, and in suffering that is accepted in union with Christ. Third, how does the Spirit give us life? The answer: by making the works of the flesh die! He gives us that life through a death. “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live,” St. Paul says in Romans 8:13. b) . . . Who Proceeds from the Father (and the Son), Who with the Father and the Son Is Adored and Glorified” Let us now move on to the second great affirmation of the creed about the Holy Spirit. Up to this point the creed has told us about the nature of the Spirit but not yet about the person of the Spirit. It has spoken of what he is but not who he is. It has also spoken to us about what the Spirit and the Father and the Son have in common—the fact of being God and giving life. With this present affirmation, however, we move on to what distinguishes the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son. What distinguishes him from the Father is that he proceeds from him. (The one who proceeds is other than the one from whom he proceeds!) What distinguishes the Spirit from the Son is that he proceeds from the Father not by generation but by spiration, a breathing forth. To express this in symbolic terms, he is not like a concept (logos) that proceeds from the mind but like a breath that proceeds from the mouth. This is the pivotal part of the article in the creed because it is intended to define the position that the Paraclete occupies in the Trinity. This part of the creed is known primarily for the problem of the Filioque that for a millennium was the main point of disagreement between the East and the West. I will not spend time on this problem because it has been discussed more than enough and also because I spoke about it myself in this setting during Lent last year in treating the points of agreement on faith between the East and the West.   I will limit myself to highlighting what we can retain from this part of the symbol that enriches our common faith, setting aside theological disputes.  It tells us that the Holy Spirit is not simply a “poor relative,” so to speak, in the Trinity. He is not “a way that God acts,” an energy or a fluid that permeates the universe like the Stoics thought. He is a “subsistent relation” and therefore a person. He is not so much “a third person singular” as he is “a first person plural.” He is the “We” of the Father and Son.  To express this in a human way, when the Father and the Son speak of the Holy Spirit they do not say “he”; instead they say “we” because he is the unity between the Father and the Son. Here we can see the extraordinary fecundity of St. Augustine’s insight in which the Father is the one who loves, the Son is the one loved, and the Spirit is the love that unites them, the reciprocal gift.  The belief of the Western Church that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son” is based on this. The Holy Spirit, nevertheless, will always remain the hidden God, even if we can know him by his effects. He is like the wind: no one knows where it comes from and where it will blow, but we can see the effects of its passing. He is like the light that illuminates everything around it but remains invisible. This is why the Spirit is the least known and least beloved of the three Persons, despite the fact that he is Love in person. It is easier to think of the Father and Son as “persons,” but that is more difficult for us to do with the Spirit. There are no human categories that can help us understand this mystery. To speak of the Father, we have the assistance of philosophy that deals with the First Cause (the God of the philosophers); to speak about the Son, we have the human analogy of a father-son relationship, and we also have the history of the Word becoming flesh. However, to speak of the Holy Spirit we have nothing but revelation and experience. Scripture itself speaks of him almost always by using symbols from nature: light, fire, wind, water, perfume, the dove.  We will fully understand who the Holy Spirit is only in Paradise. There we will live a life that will have no end, in a deepened understanding of him that will give us immense joy. He will be like a very gentle fire that will inundate our souls and fill us with bliss, like when love fills a person’s heart and that person is happy. c) “. . . Who Has Spoken through the Prophets” We have now come to the third and last affirmation about the Holy Spirit. After we have professed our faith in the life-giving and sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit in the first part of the article (the Spirit is the Lord and the giver of life), now his charismatic action is also mentioned. Regarding this action, there is one charism that is mentioned, the one that Paul holds to be the most important, namely, prophecy (see 1 Cor 14). In regard to the prophetic charism, the article mentions only one of its manifestations by the Holy Spirit: he “has spoken through the prophets,” that is, in the Old Testament. This affirmation is based on various texts in Scripture but in particular 2 Peter 1:21: “no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  4. An Article to Complete The Letter to the Hebrews says, “God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb1:1). The Spirit has not, therefore, ceased speaking by means of the prophets; he did so through Jesus and still speaks today in the Church. This point and other gaps in the symbol were gradually filled in by the practice of the Church without the need to change the text of the creed because of it (as unfortunately happened in the Latin world with the addition of the Filioque). We have an example of this in the epiclesis of the Orthodox liturgy attributed to St. James that prays as follows: Send . . . your most Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who is seated with you, God and Father, and with your only-begotten Son; he rules with you consubstantially and coeternally. He spoke through the Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament; he descended in the form of a dove upon our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, resting upon him, and descended on his holy apostles . . . on the day of holy Pentecost.  Anyone who tries to find everything in the article about the Holy Spirit, is going to be disappointed. This fact demonstrates the nature and the limit of every dogmatic definition. Its purpose is not to say everything about a tenet of faith but to draw a perimeter within which every affirmation about that doctrine must be placed and that no affirmation can contradict. In this case, there are the additional factors that the article was formulated at a time when the reflection on the Paraclete was just beginning and, as I said above, contingent historical circumstances (the emperor’s desire for peace) led to a compromise between the parties.   We are not, however, left with only the words in the creed about the Paraclete. Theology, liturgy, and Christian piety, both in the East and the West, have clothed in “flesh and blood” the succinct affirmations of the symbol of faith. In the sequence of Pentecost of our Latin liturgy, the intimate personal relationship of the Holy Spirit with every individual soul, which is not mentioned in the symbol, is expressed by titles like “father of the poor,” “the light of the heart,” “sweet guest of the soul,” and “greatest comforter.” The same sequence addresses a series of prayers to the Holy Spirit that are particularly beautiful and responsive to our needs. Let us conclude by proclaiming them together, hopefully seeking to identify among them the one that we feel we need the most. Lava quod est sordidum, riga quod est aridum, sana quod est saucium. Flecte quod est rigidum, fove quod est frigidum, rege quod est devium. Wash that which is sordid water that which is dry, heal that which is wounded. Make flexible that which is rigid, warm that which is cold, rule that which is deviant.   (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 31 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to mark the Calasanctian Jubilee Year – a special Jubilee marking the 400 th anniversary of the founding of the Pious Schools, which provide free education to the sons of the poor, and the Religious Order that runs them, commonly known as the Piarists, by St. Joseph Calasanctius (Joseph of Calasanz), Sch.P. Click below to hear our report In his Message, Pope Francis says, “[The Piarist Fathers] have always exercised their ministry in school, but have been able to incarnate their charisma also in several other areas. And, at the same time, they have been able to respond to the requests of the Church, assuming pastoral services wherever necessary.” He goes on to say, “Today more than ever we need an evangelizing pedagogy capable of changing the heart and reality in harmony with the Kingdom of God, making people protagonists and participants in the process. Christian education, especially among the poorest and where the Good News has little place or touches life marginally, is a privileged means to achieve this goal.” The Calasanctian Jubilee Year opened on November 27 of 2016 in the church of San Pantaleo in Rome, with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The Jubilee Year will end on November 25 of 2017, with a Eucharistic celebration in San Pantaleo, presided by the Father General of the Congregation of Piarists, Fr. Pedro Aguado, Sch.P. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 2 hours
(Vatican Radio) On 1 December, the Holy Father Pope Francis received in audience Cardinal Angelo Amato, S.D.B., Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. In the course of the audience, the Supreme Pontiff authorized the Congregation to promulgate decrees regarding several causes for canonization. The martyrdom of Father Stanley Rother, an American priest killed in Guatemala our of "hatred for the faith," was officially recognized; as was the heroic virtue of Mother Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood, the foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, which was the first contemplative community founded in Canada.  Below, please find the full list of decrees whose promulgation was authorized by Pope Francis:  The miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Giovanni, Schiavo, professed Priest of the Congregation of San Giuseppe; born 8 July 1903 and died 27 January 1967; The martyrdom of the Servant of God Vicente Queralt Lloret, professed Priest of the Congregation of the Missions, and 20 Companions, amongst them six professed priests of the same Congregation, five diocesan Priests, two religious Daughters of Charity, and seven Lay members of the Association Sons of Mary of the Miraculous Medal, killed in hatred of the Faith during the civil war in Spain between 1936 and 1937; The martyrdom of the Servant of God Teofilius Matulionis, Archbishop-Bishop of Kaišiadorys (Lithuania), born 22 June 1873 and died in hatred of the Faith on 20 August 1962; The martyrdom of the Servant of God Stanley Francis Rother, diocesan Priest; born on 27 March 1935 and died in hatred of the Faith 28 July 1981; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Guglielmo Massaia, of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, born 8 June 1809, died 6 August 1889; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Nunzio Russo, diocesan Priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross; born 30 October 1841, died 22 November 1906; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God José Bau Burguet, diocesan Priest, Pastor in Masarrochos (Spain); born 20 April 1867, died 22 November 1932; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Mario Ciceri, diocesan Priest; born 8 September 1900, died 4 April 1945; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Mary Joseph Aubert (née Suzanne Aubert), Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion; born 19 June 1835, died 1 October 1926; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God, Luce Rodríguez-Casanova y García San Miguel, Foundress of the Congregation of the Apostolic Ladies of the Sacred Heart; born 28 August 1873, died 8 January 1949; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood (Aurelia Caouette), Foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Union of Saint-Hyacinthe; born 11 July 1833, died 6 July 1905; The heroic virtue of the Servant of God, Leonia Maria Nastał, professed Sister of the Congregation of the Little Servant Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate; born 8 November 1903, died 10 January 1940. (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 2 hours
(Vatican Radio) On November 23, in the small Italian village of Massafra, a funeral Mass was offered for a young Italian girl, 10-year-old Paolina, who had died of a terrible illness. The Requiem Mass took place in the church of Saint Leopold Mandic,, with many parishioners present, including the local mayor. During the homily at the Mass, the pastor, Father Michele Quaranta read a letter sent to Paolina by Pope Francis. Paolina’s mother had written to the Holy Father to ask his blessing and his prayers for her daughter. Pope Francis had hoped to welcome to the young girl to the Vatican to meet her in person, but Paolina was already too sick to make the voyage. The full text of the Pope’s letter to Paolina can be read here: Dearest Paolina, Your photos are on my desk, because in your truly special gaze I see the light of goodness and of innocence. Thanks for sending them to me! Read this letter together with your and the kiss that I will give you now will be the kiss of the Pope. I join my hands to yours and to those of all those who are praying for you. And so we will make a long chain that, I’m sure, will reach to heaven. But remember that the first link in this chain is you, because you have Jesus in your heart! Remember that! So speak to Him, tell Him about yourself, but also talk about your mom and dad who have so much need of help and comfort in the face of the very difficult steps they are facing. You will certainly be a very good girl by suggesting to Jesus what to do for them! Remember, too, to tell Him what He should do for me, too, while I remember the things He ought to do for you. I give you a very, very big hug, and I bless you, together with your parents and your loved ones, with all my heart. Francis (from Vatican Radio)... 1 day 23 hours
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis’ prayer intention for December is for the End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.   The Apostleship of Prayer has produced the Pope’s Video on this prayer intention. The full text of the Pope’s Video is below: In this world, which has developed the most sophisticated technologies, weapons are sold that end up in the hands of child soldiers.  We must do everything possible so that the dignity of children may be respected, and end this form of slavery. Whoever you are, if you are moved as I am, I ask you to join in this prayer intention: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over. ... 2 days 28 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday encouraged the faithful to ask the Lord for help whenever they feel they may be resisting his grace. The Pope was speaking during his homily at morning Mass in Casa Santa Marta . Listen to the report by Linda Bordoni : Finding inspiration in the opening prayer of the day “May Your grace conquer the obstacles caused by our sins”, Pope Francis said each of us have obstacles in our hearts which resist God’s grace. He warned in particular against various types of obstacles [it. resistenze]: The ones  he called  ‘open obstacles’  that are born of good faith – like in Saul’s case when he resisted grace but was ‘convinced he was doing God’s will' before he was converted by Jesus. “Open obstacles are healthy” - the Pope said – “in the sense that they are open to the grace of conversion”.  The most ‘dangerous’ obstacles according to Francis are the hidden ones because they do not show themselves. Each of us, he said, have our own way of resisting grace but we must recognize it and allow the Lord to purify us. It’s the type of obstacle that Stephen accused the Doctors of Law of concealing whilst they wanted to appear as though they were in search of the glory of God. An accusation – the Pope said – that cost Stephen his life:          "We all have hidden obstacles; we must ask ourselves what is their nature. They always surface to stop a process of conversion. Always!” But, the Pope said,  in these cases we must passively and silently allow the process of change to take place.  “Think of when there is a process of change in an institution or in a family. I hear you say: 'But, there are obstacles… (…) Those kinds of obstacles are put there by the devil, to stop the Lord from going ahead.” Francis then spoke of three types of hidden obstacles:  The obstacle of ‘empty words’ which he illustrated with the example provided by the Gospel reading of the day which reads “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven;” and by the Parable of the two sons sent by their father to work in the vineyard: the first says ‘no’ and then goes ahead and does the work, while the other says ‘yes’ and then doesn’t go:  “Saying yes, yes, diplomatically; but then it is 'no, no, no'. So many words” he said. Saying yes – the Pope continued – so as not change anything is the ‘resistance of empty words.’ And then, he said, there is the “obstacle of words that justify": that’s when a person constantly justifies himself – he always finds a reason to oppose.  Too many excuses the Pope said do not exude the good “aroma of God”, but the “bad stink of the devil”. He said a Christian has no need to justify himself: “He is justified by the Word of God". This kind of resistance he explained is a resistance of words which I use “to attempt to justify my position when I do not follow what the Lord is indicating”. And then, he said, there's the obstacle of "accusatory words": when we accuse others so as not to look to ourselves. In this case too we are ‘resisting’ conversion and grace as illustrated by the Parable of the Pharisee and the publican. So, Pope Francis concluded, there are not only the great historical actions of resistance as for example the Maginot Line or other such events, but those that "are inside our hearts every day.” He said the resistance to grace is a good sign "because it shows that the Lord is working in us" and he invited us to make the obstacles fall in order to allow grace in. Wherever the Lord is there is a cross, the Pope said, be it a small one or a large one, and it is resistance to the Cross, to the Lord, that ultimately brings redemption. So, when there are obstacles we must not be afraid but ask for the Lord’s help and acknowledge that we are all sinners.     (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 41 min
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Thursday greeted a delegation of faithful from the Apostolic Administration of the Caucuses who were in Rome to thank the Holy Father for his recent Apostolic Visit to Georgia. Pope Francis told the delegation their visit brought him many memories of his trip. “I never thought I would find in Georgia what I saw: The culture, spirituality, a people that praises Jesus Christ as the Savior, because it is a Christian population,” – the Pope said – “It was for me a great joy.” He said he was also personally impressed by the person of Ilia II of Georgia, saying “I perceived there a man of God.” While acknowledging the problems faced by the small Catholic community, Pope Francis said he thought they would find a way “without forcing the issue, to slowly walk together.” The Pope concluded by remarking on the different faithful he met, calling the responsibility of the laypeople “a great thing,” and thanking the priests and religious for their work. “Go forward!” – Pope Francis said – “This work is like yeast, to make the thing grow. Thank you very much! And do not forget to pray for me.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 1 hour
(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis invited international students on Thursday to overcome the “globalization of indifference” with “the freshness, actuality, and daring of the Gospel.” He was speaking to participants of the IV World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. Listen to Devin Watkins’ report: The theme of the World Congress takes Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium as its focus, examining its contribution to moral challenges in the intellectual world. The Holy Father invited the students to approach their studies as a springboard to contributing to a healthier society. He reminded them of the words of St. Paul to Timothy: “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” The Pope went on to contrast the search for intellectual self-realization with a model for the good of all. “To the modern concept of the intellectual,” he said, “working for the realization of self and in search of personal recognition, often without care for their neighbor, it is necessary to counter with a model built on solidarity, which works for the common good and for peace.” The Holy Father said the experience of studying abroad “increases self-confidence” by expanding a person’s ability to relate with others, allowing one to “open up without fear to the other”. Turning to teachers and pastoral workers, the Pope invited them to “instill in young people love for the Gospel, the desire to live it concretely and announce it to others”. He said, “In this way, young people are formed who thirst for truth and not power, ready to defend their values and live mercy and charity, which are the fundamental pillars for a healthier society.” The Holy Father went on to say the phenomenon of international students, though promoting an encounter between cultures, can bring to the fore some negative aspects, “like the emergence of certain closures, defense mechanisms before diversity, internal walls which do not allow a person to look their brother or sister in the eye and realize their real needs”. He said a sad reality is the rise of a “globalization of indifference” which makes a person “incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor” ( cf. Apos. Exhort. Evangelii Gaudium, 54 ). In conclusion, Pope Francis said the experience of being an international student has the potential to “produce positive outcomes” on globalization, “with the freshness of the actuality and daring of the Gospel, in order to form new evangelizers ready to infect the world with the joy of Christ, even unto the ends of the earth.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 1 hour
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Wednesday met the Oscar-winning movie director Martin Scorsese whose latest film “Silence” recounts the persecution of a group of Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. In an interview with Vatican media, Scorsese spoke about his latest movie project, his past films, his life growing up in the noisy slums of New York and why he now values silence so much. Scorsese spoke to Vatican Radio’s Sean Patrick Lovett. Listen to the interview with the movie director Martin Scorsese: Scorsese said the making of his latest film “Silence” was a long-term project plagued by obstacles and interruptions due to ill health and other issues.  He described how the actual shooting of the film with many of the outdoor scenes filmed in remote mountainous terrain, often ankle-deep in mud, was physically very gruelling for him and all the others involved but he never wanted to abandon the project. Asked about the film’s title and what silence meant for him, Scorsese explained that it had taken him a long time over the course of his life to learn to seek out and appreciate the value of silence. He described how he grew up in the tenement slums of New York amidst a “cacophony” of sound from the streets and surrounding houses and the only silent place he could find then was in the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral of New York City, saying “I spent a lot of my time there.” Scorsese revealed that as part of his recent quest for more peace and quiet in his life, one of the rooms in his house has been specially sound-proofed.  The Oscar-winning director spoke about some of his earlier films which he said were full of noise and often very “frenetic” but pointed out that in this latest movie there is no music on the soundtrack and instead there are the background sounds of the landscape and the birds. He described it as a way of “finding out what silence sounds like.” (from Vatican Radio)... 2 days 22 hours

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From: The site of the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.
Posted
Bishop Joseph Binzer sprinkles Holy Water during a Tree Dedication Ceremony in Memory of Sister Dorothy Stang's Life & Legacy, outside the Bellarmine Chapel on Xavier University’s campus in Cincinnati Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)Bishop Joseph Binzer sprinkles Holy Water during a Tree Dedication Ceremony in Memory of Sister Dorothy Stang’s Life & Legacy, outside the Bellarmine Chapel on Xavier University’s campus in Cincinnati Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. (CT Photo/E.L. Hubbard)

By Gail Finke

The nearly two hundred men, women, and students who attended the US Catholic Mission Association (USCMA) national conference in Cincinnati last month come from different areas of the world and in serve different ways, but they all agree on one thing: Mission isn’t something you do, it’s a way of life.

“It’s pretty crazy to hear all this,” said Ryan Girgash, a junior at Xavier University, where the conference was held. “I’m born and raised in Cincinnati. To hear all these people from all over the world… their stories are eye-popping.”

Sister Victoria Oleka, a member of the Daughters of Divine Love, felt the same way. After doing mission work in Jamaica for 10 years, she moved to the United States to serve in urban New Jersey, and recently moved to her congregation’s farm in Illinois.

“It’s eye-opening for me,” she said, particularly the reaction of young white students to a tour of the Freedom Center. “If these young people can feel sorry for something that happened a long time ago, what does that say to we older ones? If they are changing their thinking, what are we doing? Are we coming up in the old mentality, or are we bringing this compassion to others?

“I am so happy to be here,” she added. “This vision here is really going to change the world if we can impart this to our communities and to the hierarchy of the Church.”

Missions to developing nations, to violent urban areas, and to the rural (largely non-Catholic) United States may seem to have little in common. But while the tasks and environments are different, missionaries say, the spirit is the same.

Before becoming involved in mission work, Xavier student and conference panelist Haley Beavers said, “I thought I could never be a missionary. I’m just me. But I realized that mission isn’t just the big protests and starting mass movements, it’s how I live my life every day.”

Fellow student and panelist Zach Moeller agreed. “I thought mission work was raking a yard or painting a building. But at Xavier I learned that it’s service and working for justice, with Christ as an example.”

Sister Tracy Kimme said that she didn’t want to come back to Cincinnati for her novitiate with the Sisters of Charity after spending three years in mission in New Mexico. “But I find that I’m on the margins right here on Eighth Street,” she said. “I see in my peers the deep desire to do good in the world.”

The 35th annual USCMA Conference included a weekend of talks, Mass and other liturgies, an awards dinner, and other activities, including the dedication and blessing of a tree on Xavier’s campus as a memorial to Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Dorothy Stang.

“There’s a great energy here for mission, a deep joy,” said Ursuline Sister Lorraine Louter, a presenter for Water With Blessings, a Middletown, KY-based organization that provides people all over the world with home filtration systems. “It’s great to get together with people like that.’

Father Tom Kirkendoll, with the Glenmary Home Missioners, said he has always worked in the rural United States and was excited to meet other missionaries. “Everybody I speak to is from somewhere new,” he said, “It’s amazing.”

At the Freedom Center, conference attendees saw the perpetual flame symbolizing freedom. Mike Gable, director of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s Mission Office, said the conference organizers brought the symbolism of the flame of truth, hope, faith, and freedom throughout the conference. “Slaves across the river knew that if a candle burned in the window of Reverend Rankin’s house, it was safe to cross the river,” he said. “At the commissioning ceremony we gave every participant a lantern to take the flame of faith home with them.”

The flame is already being passed on. Ricardo Nembhard, a Xavier junior whose theology class helped plan the event, said he’s now thinking about going on one of the university’s mission trips. “I think mission work would be pretty interesting,” he said. “It’s something that has always been in my mind.”
flame

4 hours 33 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/Thaier Al-Sudani, Reuters

By Doreen Abi Raad

BEIRUT (CNS) — The Syriac Catholic patriarch said he was horrified to see widespread devastation and what he called “ghost towns” during a recent visit to northern Iraq.

Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan wrote in an email to Catholic News Service that there was little left in some of the communities that he toured Nov. 27-29 and that “the emptiness of the streets except for military people … the devastation and burned-out houses and churches” was shocking.

About 100,000 Christians — among them more than 60,000 Syriac Catholics — were expelled from the Ninevah Plain by the Islamic State group in the summer of 2014 as the militants campaigned to expand their reach into Iraq.

Patriarch Younan also called for understanding from the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump about the plight and ordeal of all minorities, including Christians affected by violence in the region.

The patriarch told CNS about “walking through the Christian towns of Qaraqosh, Bartella and Karamles and witnessing the extent of devastation as if we had entered ghost towns!”

Graffiti and inscriptions “expressing hatred toward Christian symbols and doctrine were seen everywhere” on walls near streets, outside and inside houses and churches, he wrote.

“Aside from the looting, destruction of and damage to buildings, we discovered that the terrorists, out of hatred to the Christian faith, set fire to most of the buildings, including churches, schools, kindergartens and hospitals,” the patriarch’s message said, noting that only Christian properties were targeted.

In Qaraqosh — once inhabited by more than 50,000 Christians — the patriarch celebrated the Eucharist Nov. 28 “on an improvised small altar” in the incinerated sanctuary of the vandalized Church of the Immaculate Conception. That church, which had 2,200 seats before its desecration by Islamic State, was built by parishioners in the 1930s.

Few people could attend the liturgy, among them a few clergy and some armed youth and media representatives, the patriarch said.

“In my short homily, I just wanted to strengthen their faith in the redeemer’s altar and cross, although both were half broken behind us. I reminded them that we Christians are the descendants of martyrs and confessors, with a long history dating back to the evangelization of the apostles,” he wrote.

“I had the intention after its restoration five years ago, and still have it, to ask the Holy Father, the pope, to name this church as a minor basilica,” the patriarch added.

In addition to the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Qaraqosh, all of the churches the patriarch’s delegation visited, including St. Behnam and St. Sarah Monastery, which dates to the fourth century, sustained significant damage or were destroyed.

In opening the trip Nov. 27 in Irbil, which escaped being occupied by the militants, Patriarch Younan celebrated Mass for more than 800 displaced people at Our Lady of Peace Syriac Catholic Church. Located in the capital of the Kurdish region of Iraq, where many of those uprooted from the Ninevah Plain sought refuge, the church recently opened to serve refugees.

Concelebrating the liturgy were Syriac Catholic Archbishops Yohanna Moshe of Mosul and Ephrem Mansoor Abba of Baghdad and 20 priests. Patriarch Younan said he felt “mixed feelings” among the worshippers, who were pleased that the Islamic State group had been forced out of the Ninevah Plain during the current Iraqi military campaign, but also were saddened because of the “horrendous state” in which the militants left their communities.

The patriarch also said he met with the faith community, religious leaders and nongovernmental organizations to discuss the future of Christianity in northern Iraq.

Based on “what happened in recent times,” the patriarch noted, “it was the overall opinion that none would dare to return, rebuild and stay in the homeland, unless a safe zone for the Christian communities in the Plain of Ninevah is guaranteed.”

He called for a “stable, law-abiding and strong government” to support the establishment of an eventual self-administrative province under the central government of Iraq.

“I therefore reiterate what I have been saying for years. We, Christians in Iraq and Syria, feel abandoned, even betrayed, by the Western politicians of recent times,” Patriarch Younan said.

“We have been sold out for oil and forgotten because of our small number compared to the ‘Islamic Ummah’ (Islamic nation) in which we have lived for centuries.”

The patriarch urged the “so-called ‘civilized world’ to uphold its principles and to seriously defend” the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which he described as “vital for our survival.”

“It is time to stand up and condemn those regimes that still discriminate against non-Muslim communities, with (their) excuses such as … ‘our law, our education and governing system’ are based on our ‘particularities of culture, history and religion,'” the patriarch continued.

Patriarch Younan expressed his “strong hope” that the Trump administration “will understand our plight and the ordeal of all minorities, including Christians.”

“It is time that the United States be respected around the world,” and most particularly in the Middle East, as “a nation of hope and freedom and not a land of opportunism.”

– – –

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15 hours 13 min

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Tennessee Highway Patrol, handout via Reuters

By Bill Brewer

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (CNS) — St. Mary’s Catholic Church was at ground zero in the wildfires that devastated parts of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge Nov. 28, and while flames reached to within yards of the tourist city church, it appears to have been spared.

Some parishioners weren’t as fortunate.

Its pastor, Carmelite Father Antony Punnackal, was forced to evacuate St. Mary’s as intense fires came within 300 yards of the church that sits in the heart of Gatlinburg.

The church and rectory have been closed since then, but the priest has received reports that the buildings were spared from the blaze but sustained smoke damage and possible damage from high winds that fueled the flames.

The wildfires left a swath of destruction in and around the city of Gatlinburg, causing at least 13 deaths, more than 50 injuries, and tens of millions of dollars in property damage. Dozens of residents and visitors to the tourist destination still are missing. Three people who suffered serious burns were transported to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

As of midday Dec. 2, the city of 5,000 residents still was closed down, with only emergency personnel allowed to enter as well as residents and property owners on a limited basis.

“I know of seven families in our parish that lost everything,” Father Punnackal told The East Tennessee Catholic, the magazine of the Diocese of Knoxville. “Five of them lived in apartments that burned to the ground. They lost their housing and all their belongings. They’re also jobless because the businesses where they worked burned.”

Many evacuees reported fleeing through horrific infernos, with intense flames licking at their vehicles as they fled down narrow mountain roads to safety. But a number of residents and tourists perished in the flames, and rescue workers still were trying to account for everyone.

Some members of Holy Cross Parish in Pigeon Forge also lost their homes, belongings and businesses. The fires burned nearly 16,000 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Father Punnackal was told he could re-enter Gatlinburg Dec. 2 to assess the church and rectory. But he could only stay for a few hours.

He said that as he monitored the spreading fires Nov. 28, smoke was entering the church and rectory to the point it became unsafe to breathe. Shortly thereafter, he was forced to evacuate with just an overnight bag as fire threatened the property.

Father Punnackal has been staying at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Newport while his parishioners were spread out in shelters and hotels, or with family or friends.

“I’m now far away, and I can’t get to my parishioners. I have tried to go back, but I’ve been unsuccessful,” the priest said. “I greatly appreciate everyone offering help. I’m doing what I can, but we have a long way to go.”

While a severe drought over several months prompted many of the recent eastern Tennessee woodland blazes, officials are investigating whether some of the wind-whipped fires above Gatlinburg were caused by individuals, either accidentally or intentionally.

The wildfires raced down the mountains, eviscerating everything in their path: homes, condominiums, chalets, cabins, apartments, businesses, automobiles. YouTube was populated with harrowing cellphone videos of people fleeing, blinded by thick, suffocating smoke, many of them unsure if they would make it out alive. Some of them described the situation as escaping the “gates of hell” and running through “rivers of flame.”

As a stream of vehicles exited Gatlinburg and surrounding areas, shelters were set up to accommodate those displaced, which numbered as many as 2,000 at one point. Evacuees were receiving food, clothing and other help in shelters set up by the American Red Cross, said Father Andres Cano, pastor of Holy Cross.

“Many people are showing solidarity and generosity toward the people affected by the fires,” he said, adding that “there is a longtime recovery ahead for the people and the local community.”

Father Cano was assessing the impact of the wildfires on his parish. As of Dec. 1, the parish knew of one family that lost their home to fire, but more could be affected. He also said parishioners’ employers in and around Gatlinburg were affected, and those parishioners are now out of work.

Knoxville Bishop Richard F. Stika has been working with volunteers from around the diocese to get assistance to the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge communities.

On Dec. 1, the bishop announced a $25,000 grant for fire victims through the Diocese of Knoxville’s St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation. The $25,000 grant is in addition to $735,000 that the St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation will be distributing to charities and nonprofit groups throughout eastern Tennessee in 2017.

“What happened in the Gatlinburg area was unexpected, and each day we’re hearing about more lives lost, more property destroyed, and more heartache for many, many people. The St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation has a very precise way of evaluating grant distributions before they’re announced. In this case, the foundation felt it was best to react to this tragedy immediately,” Bishop Stika said.

“The St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation also recognizes that many communities across our entire diocese have been affected by wildfires, and more recently, tornadoes. For this reason, the $25,000 grant will be channeled into our diocesan Fund for Wildfire Victims. We want to make sure we can help everyone who needs assistance,” he added.

East Tennesseans began donating needed items to the Sevier County relief effort early Nov. 29, and those donations continue.

Sacred Heart Cathedral in Knoxville began a drive to collect bottled water, food, and clothing that has turned into a multiday effort. Those donated goods were delivered to the National Guard armory in Sevier County, just outside of Pigeon Forge, where Guard troops are assisting in the relief effort. Diocese of Knoxville schools also took part in collecting donations.

Bishop Stika said offers for assistance were coming in from around the country, including from Archbishop Paul D. Etienne of Anchorage, Alaska, who chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Catholic Home Missions, and the Archdiocese of New Orleans. He said Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, has helped in getting information out about the relief effort.

“It just shows that the Catholic Church is the face and hands of Jesus, and that we do together what we can’t do by ourselves. Together, with the Holy Spirit, we can overcome anything,” Bishop Stika said.

The diocese is accepting donations online for its assistance fund at http://tinyurl.com/j6gf2wd. All parishes and mission churches in the diocese were asked to hold a special collection at Masses the weekend of Dec. 3-4 for relief efforts.

The wildfires damaged or destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses, including about 300 buildings Gatlinburg and about another 400 in Pigeon Forge.

Sevier County native Dolly Parton announced her My People Foundation will give $1,000 a month in assistance to people affected by the wildfires that also destroyed a number of cabins near the Dollywood theme park. The theme park itself was not damaged in the fires, according to Dollywood officials.

Father David Boettner, rector of Knoxville’s Sacred Heart Cathedral, also was working to get assistance to St. Mary’s and Holy Cross parishioners.

He is confident the popular tourist destination will rebound.

“It is tourism that built this area and it is tourism that will bring it back,” Father Boettner said. “Dolly Parton, to her credit, has reinvested in her home community. The immediate need was emergency assistance. Now that has shifted to long-term needs, getting people back into housing, to get these folks back on their feet and rebuilding the community.”

– – –

Brewer is editor of The East Tennessee Catholic, magazine of the Diocese of Knoxville.

– – –

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.

16 hours 3 min

IMAGE: CNS

By

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis has recognized the martyrdom of Father Stanley Rother of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, making him the first martyr born in the United States.

The Vatican made the announcement Dec. 2. The recognition of his martyrdom clears the way for his beatification.

Father Rother, born March 27, 1935, on his family’s farm near Okarche, Oklahoma, was brutally murdered July 28, 1981, in a Guatemalan village where he ministered to the poor.

He went to Santiago Atitlan in 1968 on assignment from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He helped the people there build a small hospital, school and its first Catholic radio station. He was beloved by the locals, who called him “Padre Francisco.”

Many priests and religious in Guatemala became targets during the country’s 1960-1996 civil war as government forces cracked down on leftist rebels supported by the rural poor.

The bodies of some of Father Rother’s deacons and parishioners were left in front of his church and soon he received numerous death threats over his opposition to the presence of the Guatemalan military in the area.

Though he returned to Oklahoma for a brief period, he returned to the Guatemalan village to remain with the people he had grown to love during the more than dozen years he lived there.

He was gunned down at the age 46 in the rectory of his church in Santiago Atitlan. Government officials there put the blame on the Catholic Church for the unrest in the country that they said led to his death. On the day he died, troops also killed 13 townspeople and wounded 24 others in Santiago Atitlan, an isolated village 50 miles west of Guatemala City.

Many priests and religious lost their lives and thousands of civilians were kidnapped and killed during the years of state-sponsored oppression in the country.

While his body was returned to Oklahoma, his family gave permission for his heart and some of his blood to be enshrined in the church of the people he loved and served. A memorial plaque marks the place.

Father Rother was considered a martyr by the church in Guatemala and his name was included on a list of 78 martyrs for the faith killed during Guatemala’s 36-year-long civil war. The list of names to be considered for canonization was submitted by Guatemala’s bishops to St. John Paul II during a pastoral visit to Guatemala in 1996.

Because Father Rother was killed in Guatemala, his cause should have been undertaken there. But the local church lacked the resources for such an effort. The Guatemalan bishops’ conference agreed to a transfer of jurisdiction to the Oklahoma City Archdiocese.

News of the recognition was welcomed in Oklahoma.

“This comes as a great joy to all of us here not only in Oklahoma, but I think it’s a great blessing to the church in the United States,” Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City told Catholic News Service Dec. 2.

He also called the recognition of the priest’s martyrdom a gift to the Catholic Church in Guatemala.

Archbishop Coakley recalled how both he and Father Rother are alumni of Mount St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Maryland. He remembered a ceremony at the school a few months after the priest’s death in which a plaque was erected in his honor.

“His witness has marked me from my earliest days in priestly formation,” the archbishop said. “It’s a blessing to be the archbishop now who has the opportunity to bring to fruition the work on my predecessor Archbishop (Eusebius J.) Beltran.”

Now-retired Archbishop Beltran was head of the archdiocese when the sainthood cause for Father Rother was officially opened in 2007.

Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda, author of a 2015 biography of the priest, “The Shepherd Who Didn’t Run: Fr. Stanley Rother, Martyr from Oklahoma,” wrote in an email that the martyrdom recognition was “an incredible gift not only to the United States, but to the universal church.”

“I am delighted and grateful that more people will come to know and be changed by his beautiful story,” Scaperlanda said. “Not only because of his death as a martyr. But even more significantly, because his life and his priestly service remain a testament to the difference that one person can, and does, make.”

Scaperlanda described Father Rother’s martyrdom as a “reminder that we are all called to holiness in our ordinary lives, and that holy men and women come from ordinary places like Okarche, Oklahoma.”

Describing the priest as a faithful man, Scaperlanda said he was called to serve in the fields of Santiago Atitlan, Guatemala, alongside his Tz’utujil Mayan parishioners. “This is what his community remembers — that he was one of them,” she wrote. “And when their village suffered oppression and killings from a violent and brutal civil war, he remained one with them. He was truly the shepherd who didn’t run.”

– – –

Editor’s Note: A CNS review of Scaperlanda’s biography of Father Rother can be found at http://tinyurl.com/glcxso2.

 

 

 

– – –

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.

23 hours 33 min

stxavierteamphoto

STATE CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES

LaSalle (12-2) 14 vs. Perry (Massillon) 7

St. Xavier (9-5) vs. St. Ignatius (Cleveland) (13-1), Friday, December 2nd at 8:00 p.m.

All Archdiocese High School Standings

LaSalle Lancers 13-2 (Ohio State Division II Champions) (Greater Catholic South Football Champions)
*St. Xavier Bombers 9-5 (No 5. in Div I, Region 4)
Archbishop Alter Knights (Kettering) 13-1 (Greater Catholic North Football Champions) (No. 3 in Div IV, Region 14)
Summit Country Day Silver Knights 8-4
Lehman Cavaliers (Sidney) 7-4
Chaminade Julienne Eagles (Dayton) 7-4
Catholic Central Irish (Springfield) 6-4
Elder Panthers 6-5
Bishop Fenwick Falcons (Franklin) 6-4
Carroll Patriots (Dayton) 4-6 (unranked)
McNicholas Rockets 4-6 (Greater Central Catholic Football Champions)
Moeller Crusaders 4-6 (unranked)
Roger Bacon Spartans 4-6 (unranked)
Purcell Marian Cavaliers 3-7 (unranked)
Stephen T. Badin Rams (Hamilton) 2-8 (unranked)
*Advanced to State Championship

1 day 4 hours

adventcandlesbokeh

2016 ADVENT CALENDAR

ONGOING

St. Albert the Great, 3033 Far Hills Ave., 45429
Kettering
Christmas tree Sales Starting Saturday, November 26th
W-F 6-8:30 p.m.
Sat. 9-6 p.m. & Sun Noon-6 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/F2UnSDYEiat

1201161203

 

Aunt Mildred’s Salad

1 Head of lettuce – rinse and dry on paper towel, then rip into small pieces
1 head of cauliflower cut into small pieces
1 pound of bacon – fry or microwave, cut into small pieces
1 medium red onion – cut into small pieces
Toss the above in a small bowl

½ cup mayonnaise
½ cup of sugar over mayonnaise
½ cup parmesan cheese layered on top
Let sit overnight or for a few hours. Toss together when ready to serve.

Courtesy Mary Bolte of Our Lady of Victory Parish, Cincinnati

Friday, December 2, 2016

St. John the Evangelist, 9080 Cincinnati Dayton Rd., 45069
West Chester
Advent Lessons and Carols
7:30-9 p.m. in Church
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/EpvLecmA6x22

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Good Shepherd, 8815 E. Kemper Rd., 45249
Cincinnati
With Mary, We Wait in Joyful Hope
9-11:30 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/1fPNdtZpFEt

Immaculate Conception, 229 W. Anthony St., (Corner of Walnut and W. Anthony Sts.), 45822
Celina
Annual Christmas Bazaar and Lunch (in the Parish Activity Center)
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/NBUnD1kS48w

St. John the Evangelist, 9080 Cincinnati Dayton Rd., 45069
West Chester
Craft Show (in Pavilion, Center & Favret Hall)
9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/MFbY7GeRNJ62

St. Maximilian Kolbe, 5720 Hamilton Mason Rd., 45011
Liberty Township
Communal Penance Service
10 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/VNztvPX7vLD2

St. Patrick, 409 E. Main St., 45373
Troy
Advent Program (“Follow the Light”)
Dinner will follow 5 p.m. Mass
Program 7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/hfL9kdrXbHU2

Sunday, December 4, 2016

St. Albert the Great, 3033 Far Hills Ave., 45429
Kettering
Baby Jesus Shower
9:30-11 a.m. (Join us in the cafeteria for Advent activities)
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/97rpcGfodSB2

St. Anthony, 471 St. Anthony Rd., 45846
St. Anthony
Eucharistic Holy Hour
7-8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/a1S2pjuciQ92

St. Boniface, 310 S. Downing St., 45356
Piqua
Visit from St. Nick
After 11 a.m. Mass
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/GrhEzq9LJKk

Holy Trinity, 140 N Sixth St., 45103
Batavia
2-3 p.m. Christmas Concert
3-4 p.m. Refreshments in Connelly Hall following Concert
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/V285D7CyRq32

St. Julie Billiart, 224 Dayton St., 45011
Hamilton
Scripture and Songs of the Season
(Concert held during German Village Christmas walk)
4 p.m. FREE to attend
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ePT2gfQ6cpP2

St. Mary, 528 Broadway St., 45356
Piqua
Visit from St. Nick
After 9 a.m. Mass
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/gR9tdnP4BCP2

Monday, December 5, 2016

Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, 325 W. 8th St., 45202
Cincinnati
Advent Lunch with the Lord
12 Noon
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/QgyoigBvoL72

St Cecilia, 3105 Madison Rd., 45209
Cincinnati
Parish Advent Mission
7-8:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/fG6gkMMH1YN2

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Parish Reconciliation Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/1rBPF2U5eWF2

Holy Angels, South Main & Water Streets, 45365
Sidney
Choir/Band Concert (For outside guests)
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/fpEc7N2Fezq

St. Veronica, 4473 Mount Carmel Tobasco Rd., 45244
Mt. Carmel
Advent Evening Prayer
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/RvEycwD67sz

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

St. Cecilia, 3105 Madison Rd., 45209
Cincinnati
Parish Advent Mission
7-8:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9aU8ArmbSrs

Holy Angels, South Main & Water Streets, 45365
Sidney
Choir/Band Concert (For school students)
9 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/D97wuyZJLA52

St. John the Baptist, 5361 Dry Ridge Rd, 45252
Dry Ridge
6 p.m. Simple Supper
7 p.m. Evening Prayer
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/euKVfSbVcfF2

Piqua Catholic Elementary School, 218 S. Downing St., 45356
Piqua
Christmas Program
6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/5giECG1wE8k

Wendesday, December 7, 2016

St. Cecilia, 3105 Madison Rd., 45209
Cincinnati
Parish Advent Mission with Sacrament of Reconciliation
7-8:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/o1Du9YMTG1s

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Day of Prayer for Sick with Eucharistic Adoration
9 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/WBDpdYgiUok

Thursday, December 8, 2016
Holy Day of Obligation
Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Saturday, December 10, 2016

St. Francis Xavier, 607 Sycamore St., 45202
Cincinnati
Blue Christmas Prayer Service
10 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/Caa822maFPJ2

St. John the Baptist, 5361 Dry Ridge Rd, 45252
Dry Ridge
Breakfast in Bethlehem (Prayer, Fun, Food & Fellowship for whole family)
9 a.m.
$5 per person/$25 per family
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/cFam43YbRH82

Old St. Mary Church, 129 E. 13th St., 45202
Cincinnati
Rorate Mass (a German Tradition of celebrating a votive mass of the BVM)
6:45 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/huYeprBQZAA2

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Annunciation, 3547 Clifton Ave., 45220
Cincinnati
Bambinelli Sunday Blessing (Blessing of Christ Figures from Home Creches)
9 a.m. & 11 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/94B53YBerQF2

Good Shepherd, 8815 E. Kemper Rd., 45249
Cincinnati
Christmas Concert
6 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/7dwLEgkoYGU2

St. Albert the Great, 3033 Far Hills Ave., 45429
Kettering
Breakfast with Santa
After 8 & 9:30 a.m. Masses (Join us in Cafeteria)
Santa’s Bake Shop
After Masses (Buy baked good in Parish Center)
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/q4UubHd39VH2

Monday, December 12, 2016

Cathedral of St. Peter in Chains, 325 W. 8th St., 45202
Cincinnati
Advent Lunch with the Lord
12 Noon
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/UQK8PYvwvgt

St. Augustine, 48 N. Hanover, 45845
Minster
Reconciliation Services
7:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/K4sWTAiqEpK2

Corpus Christi, 2014 Springdale Rd., 45231
Cincinnati
Our Lady of Guadalupe Celebration
6 p.m. Mass
7 p.m. Fiesta
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/yD5cfnZzjeM2

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Good Shepherd, 8815 E. Kemper Rd., 45249
Cincinnati
Sacramental Reconciliation Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9fjM8fTfEVw

Holy Angels, South Main & Water Streets, 45365
Sidney
3rd &4th Grade Christmas Program
2 p.m. & 7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FuTRgeG8zHk

Holy Redeemer, 120 S. Eastmoor Dr, 45869
New Bremen
Reconciliation Services
7:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/6G3JRVu6Fk52

Holy Trinity, 140 N. Sixth St., 45103
Batavia
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
7-8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/cipDWp2Mtwn

Holy Trinity, 108 E. Main St., 45828
Coldwater
Penance Service
7:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/TMWD5g6yuzK2

St. Ann, 370 S. Fifth St., 45176
Williamsburg
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
7-8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/AaZuirf4TMv

St. Dominic, 4551 Delhi Pike, 45238
Cincinnati
Advent Parish Penance Service (Church)
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9jjnWT1XCCx

St. John Neumann, 12191 Mill Rd., 45240
Cincinnati
6 p.m. Simple Supper
7 p.m. Reconciliation Service
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FpmzUKts2zB2

St. Maximilian Kolbe, 5720 Hamilton Mason Rd., 45011
Liberty Township
Communal Penance Services
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/RCAeY2JBi2G2

St. Michael the Archangel, 11144 Spinner Ave., 45241
Sharonville
Parish Reconciliation Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ujGZFFNbhLx

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Annunciation, 3547 Clifton Ave., 45220
Cincinnati
Eucharistic Holy Hour at 7 p.m.
Benediction at 8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FtSDfWT28g12

St. Boniface, 310 S. Downing St., 45356
Piqua
Advent Penance Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/dqQW4zvES1C2

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Nativity Tour at 1 p.m.
Parish Reconciliation Service at 7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/pDAnGXdH2oA2

Holy Trinity, 108 E. Main St., 45828
Coldwater
Crib Blessing & St. Nick at 6:30 p.m.
Coffee House at 6:30 & 8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/buVkx2PRXP22

St. Joseph, 02441 State Route 364, 45865
Egypt
Reconciliation Services
7:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/s47TigP4CoN2

Old St Mary, 129 E. 13th St., 45202
Cincinnati
Musical Oratory of Advent
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/9zvpHv4Cbm32

St. Paul, 308 Phillips St., 45387
Yellow Springs
Advent Communal Reconciliation Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/3UorX9UTibx

Thursday, December 15, 2016

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Nativity Tour
12 Noon
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/p4scensBgNy

Holy Family, 3006 W. 8th St., 45205
Cincinnati
Lessons and Carols
9 a.m. & 7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ZYiYiptveXB2

St. Antoninus, 1500 Linneman Rd., 45238
Cincinnati
School Christmas Concert
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/YxGyBmUM36S2

St. John the Evangelist, 9080 Cincinnati Dayton Rd., 45069
West Chester
Advent Penance Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/o2KCwSvPZCG2

St. Louis, 210 N. Broadway, 45160
Owensville
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
7-8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FCqVEHoBmVx

St. Martin of Tours, 3720 Saint Martin Pl., 45211
Cheviot
Advent Reconciliation Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/4ipTtDRk5K22

St. Mary Hyde Park, 2853 Erie Ave, 45208
Cincinnati
Advent Penance Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/GYqNjoL9puE2

St. Michael, 33 Elm St., 45845
Ft. Loramie
Reconciliation Services
7:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/VWhTEUHa1b22

St. Philomena, Stonelick-Williams Corner Rd., 45103
Stonelick
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
7-8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/UZgLbNGkEkA2

St. William, 4108 W. 8th St., 45205
Cincinnati
Penance Service (Church)
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ytWGz5cX5sT2

Friday, December 16, 2016

All Saints, 8939 Montgomery Rd., 45236
Cincinnati
“Come & See” A Choral Christmas Concert
7:30 p.m.
Location: St. Francis De Sales, Walnut Hills
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/gTbU32Z71zS2

St. Anthony of Padua Maronite, 2530 Victory Pkwy, 45206
Cincinnati
Christmas Novena
6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/J5pJR5zfntK2

St. Francis de Sales, 1600 Madison Rd., 45206
Cincinnati
School Christmas Concert
9:30 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/z1ALP99DVhE2

Saturday, December 17, 2016

St. Ann, 370 S. Fifth St., 45176
Williamsburg
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
3-3:45 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/dbsSM5Ebkas

St. Anthony of Padua Maronite, 2530 Victory Pkwy, 45206
Cincinnati
Christmas Recital
5:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/miR8hcsznc82

Holy Trinity, 108 E. Main St., 45828
Coldwater
Penance and Reconciliation
3:30-4:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/o9qvq2ZxuhP2

St. Louis, 210 N. Broadway, 45160
Owensville
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
4-4:45 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FuSmUtqXvPP2

Sunday, December 18, 2016

St. Augustine, 48 N. Hanover, 45845
Minister
Christmas Choir Concert
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ftEKRBTyutQ2

St. Anthony, 471 Saint Anthony Rd., 45846
St. Anthony
Christmas Pageant
10:30 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/i7XLbzupCr72

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Nativity Tour
12:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/poXudJ1tPQz

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, 5890 Buckwheat Rd., 45150
Milford
Lessons & Carols
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/n49LhBWXDJs

St. John the Baptist, 5361 Dry Ridge Rd, 45252
Dry Ridge
Blue Christmas
6 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/v8CpDZdrzHz

St. Mary, 3821 Philothea Rd., 45828
Philothea
Christmas Pageant
9 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/HCnYXLz4nqt

Monday, December 19, 2016

St. Anthony of Padua Maronite, 2530 Victory Pkwy, 45206
Cincinnati
Christmas Novena
6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/WahDJJ6snKH2

St. Antoninus, 1500 Linneman Rd., 45238
Cincinnati
25th Anniversary Concert
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/o34WtgixHLm

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Nativity Tour
10 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/mgzWXZUY8TU2

Holy Family, 3006 W. 8th St., 45205
Cincinnati
Advent Taize prayer service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/HZxf8GqNLn82

Holy Trinity, 108 E. Main St., 45828
Coldwater
Penance and Reconciliation
6:30-7:05 a.m., 7:55-8:30 a.m., & 5:30 – 7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/S3q9hK1WSLE2

St. Jerome, 5858 Kellogg Rd., 45230
Cincinnati
Advent Penance Service
7:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/C7TUSoqKyum

St. Patrick, 409 E. Main St., 45373
Troy
Communal Penance Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/bx8KsWmV9k52

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

St. Anthony of Padua Maronite, 2530 Victory Pkwy, 45206
Cincinnati
Christmas Novena
6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/4SGqmYVpQYG2

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Advent Lessons and Carols
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/qenuKJjiCz22

St. Elizabeth Ann Seton & St. Andrew, 5890 Buckwheat Rd., 45150
Milford
Joint Advent Penance Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/Km34JiwzaaJ2

Holy Redeemer, 120 S. Eastmoor Dr., 45869
New Bremen
Advent Communal Reconciliation
7:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/PC7PTrFMGMs

Holy Trinity, 108 E. Main St., 45828
Coldwater
Penance and Reconciliation
6:30-7:05 a.m., 7:55-8:30 a.m., & 5:30-7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/uxJYGdhXCEs

St. Louis, 210 N. Broadway, 45160
Owensville
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
7-8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/yQhNmePpJSy

St. Martin of Tours, 3720 Saint Martin Pl., 45211
Cheviot
Vesper Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/pgHFRWkgcMK2

St. Philomena, Stonelick-Williams Corner Rd., 45103
Stonelick
Sacrament of Reconciliation for Advent
7-8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ix32BbZs8sy

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

St. Anthony of Padua Maronite, 2530 Victory Pkwy, 45206
Cincinnati
Christmas Novena
6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/zUkGaZCH9FL2

Ascension, 2025 Woodman Dr., 45420
Kettering
Longest Night Prayer Service
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/R5uCiiK41YF2

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Advent Lessons and Carols
8:30 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/iYBkCYUKxPt

St. Dominic, 4551 Delhi Rd., 45238
Cincinnati
Advent Concert with Mike Davis (Church)
7 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/h8usJg7tpAq

Holy Trinity, 108 E. Main St., 45828
Coldwater
Penance and Reconciliation
6:30-7:05 a.m., & 7:55-8:30 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/y4pHsuZf1z82

Thursday, December 22, 2016

St. Anthony of Padua Maronite, 2530 Victory Pkwy, 45206
Cincinnati
Christmas Novena
6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/FQaXvZXKfU62

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Nativity Tour
9:30 a.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/d2MhTEjtrd12

Friday, December 23, 2016

St. Anthony of Padua Maronite, 2530 Victory Pkwy, 45206
Cincinnati
Christmas Novena
6:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/J9nWHN1QXbv

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Annunciation, 3547 Clifton Ave., 45220
Cincinnati
Eucharistic Holy Hour at 7 p.m.
Benediction at 8 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/rtLFXz3Bytn

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

St. Columban, 894 Oakland Rd., 45140
Loveland
Nativity Tour
12:30 p.m.
Map: https://goo.gl/maps/pDmsX1xLbPq

st-anthony-friary-creche-outdoor-2

1 day 7 hours
Bishop Joseph Binzer admitted 25 men as Candidates for the Order of Deacon. (Photo by E.L. Hubbard.)Bishop Joseph Binzer admitted 25 men as Candidates for the Order of Deacon. (Photo by E.L. Hubbard.)

Athenauem of Ohio – On Sunday, November 20 Bishop Joseph Binzer celebrated Mass in the seminary’s St. Gregory the Great Chapel and admitted 25 men as Candidates for the Order of Deacon: 21 for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and 4 for the Diocese of Covington.

The Rite of Candidacy is the public act whereby those men, having completed the prerequisites, and believing themselves called by God to Holy Orders, petition the Church to be admitted to the course of study and formation that leads to ordination. The Church acknowledges their intention to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders and accepts them as candidates for possible ordination.

“This is another step along the path towards the permanent Diaconate for these men. They’ve certainly already done a great deal to get to this point in terms of discernment and study. But today they make a public statement of their intention to become permanent deacons. Now they commit themselves to being formed specifically for that service in the Church,” said Father Anthony Brausch, the Director of The Permanent Deacon Formation Program.

Father Brausch also emphasized that the Rite often involves more than the candidate: “It’s important to remember that if the man is married this Rite represents his wife’s willingness that he be formed for the diaconate since her consent is required before he can become a candidate.”

The Rite acknowledges that the Church is committed to helping the candidates discern whether they are called and forming them to fulfill that call in service to the Church.

The Permanent Deacon Formation Program consists of a three-year commitment to meet approximately every two weeks to study and pray. Before candidates are admitted to the formation program they must have completed the theological and ministerial requirements for obtaining the Certificate in Lay Ministry from the Athenaeum.

Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati

Nathan D. Beiersdorfer
Steven G. Broering
Peter J. Caccavari
Brian M. Caperton
Gregory P. Doud
Gregg N.Elking
Graham B. Galloway
Frank G. Ganschow
David W. Harcourt
Michael J. Huffman
Daniel W. Kahlig
Joseph M. Leep
Lawain McNeil
Michael W. Muse
James R. Niswonger
John W. O’Maley
Mark A. Patel
Charles W. Salway
James R.Strominger
Kenneth J. Wuebker
Paul C. Zlatic

Permanent Deacons for the Diocese of Covington

Brian R. Cox
James A. Fortner
Barry J. Henry
Joseph A. Wiedeman

1 day 15 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/David Maung

By

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Prayer services and special Masses will be held in many dioceses across the country as the U.S. Catholic Church has asked that the Dec. 12 feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe be a day of prayer with a focus on migrants and refugees.

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas.

“As Christmas approaches and especially on this feast of Our Lady, we are reminded of how our savior Jesus Christ was not born in the comfort of his own home, but rather in an unfamiliar manger,” said a Dec. 1 statement from Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, who is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The day of prayer is intended to be a time to place before a merciful God the hopes, fears and needs of all those families who have come to the United States seeking a better life.

“So many families are wondering how changes to immigration policy might impact them,” Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, USCCB vice president, said in a Dec. 1 statement. “We want them to know the church is with them, offers prayers on their behalf, and is actively monitoring developments at the diocesan, state, and national levels to be an effective advocate on their behalf.”

The USCCB suggested that Catholics unable to attend such a service or Mass Dec. 12 or who live in an area where one is not being held should “offer prayers wherever they may be.” The USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services office has developed a scriptural rosary called “Unity in Diversity” that includes prayers for migrants and refugees. It can be accessed at the Justice for Immigrants website at http://tinyurl.com/hldg3o9.

Another resource suggested by the USCCB is “Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope,” the 2003 pastoral letter issued jointly by the bishops of the United States and Mexico. Summary versions of the pastoral are available online in English at http://tinyurl.com/zpd4tex and in Spanish at http://tinyurl.com/hy2e69m.

A USCCB announcement on the day of prayer said the bishops’ conference would develop additional pastoral resources.

“To all those families separated and far from home in uncertain times, we join with you in a prayer for comfort and joy this Advent season,” Cardinal DiNardo added.

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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.

1 day 16 hours

stsusannaSt. Susanna released the mobile app for St. Susanna Catholic Parish in Mason, OH.

The parish staff can communicate with church members like never before with their very own customized mobile app. App content automatically updates via the parish website, social media platforms, and our vast library of prayer and learning resources.

The app also features a sacrament schedule, activities calendar, online donations, GPS directions, discussion board, photo capture, photo gallery, prayer journal, Rosary counter, virtual stamp check in tool, bulletins, and social media integration.

And, of course, the app features the ability for the staff to send push notifications directly to the user’s phone or tablet.

www.stsusanna.org

1 day 17 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Tennessee Highway Patrol, handout via Reuters

By

GATLINBURG, Tenn. (CNS) — Catholic parishioners in the Diocese of Knoxville are among those who have lost homes and businesses in the wildfires that ravaged tourist areas in the Great Smoky Mountains region Nov. 29, said Bishop Richard F. Stika of Knoxville.

News reports said the death toll from the fires had reached at least seven, with as many as 45 people suffering injuries. Two others died when a tornado swept through Tennessee the evening of Nov. 30.

AP reported that officials also have determined that at least 300 structures in Gatlinburg have been damaged or destroyed. Initial reports put the figure at 150 in the resort town. The blaze “left whole neighborhoods in ruins,” said Reuters.

More than 700 structures have been damaged or destroyed throughout Sevier County, which includes Gatlinburg.

“The Catholic community of east Tennessee continues to pray for those who have been affected by the terrible wildfires in Gatlinburg and other communities across the region,” Bishop Stika said. “We are grateful for all the men and women who bravely put themselves in harm’s way to protect people and property that were in danger.”

“I recognize that the good people of east Tennessee come together quickly in times of need. The Diocese of Knoxville shares that commitment,” he added.

Also late Nov. 30, the diocese received word that it appeared that St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Gatlinburg Gatlinburg suffered no fire damage. “The extent of any smoke or wind damage cannot be determined until officials reopen the roads into Gatlinburg,” a diocesan statement said.

Earlier that day, the diocese reported that the pastor, Father Antony Punnackal, had to evacuate but was safe.

Bishop Stika asked that all parishes and mission churches in the diocese hold a special collection at Masses the weekend of Dec. 3-4 to benefit victims of the fires in Gatlinburg and across the region. The diocese also set up an assistance fund for fire victims and was accepting donations online at http://tinyurl.com/j6gf2wd.

He reported that Mercy Sister Mary Christine Cremin, executive director of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee, was leading efforts to help many of the diocesan agency’s clients in Gatlinburg and Sevier County and anyone else in need of assistance.

The clergy and staff at Sacred Heart Cathedral and Sacred Heart Cathedral School initiated a food drive to benefit fire victims, and supplies were already on their way to Gatlinburg, according to the bishop.

“If conditions permit,” Bishop Stika said, he planned to celebrate Sunday Mass Dec. 4 at St. Mary’s in Gatlinburg.

“I ask that your prayers continue for all the victims and their families,” he said.

The twister that hit Tennessee was part of a storm system that spawned at least a dozen tornadoes that swept through parts of the South. The National Weather Service said parts of Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi also were affected. Besides the confirmed fatalities in Tennessee, at least 30 people in Alabama reported injuries.

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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.

1 day 18 hours

By Carol Glatz

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Upholding the truth and moral values isn’t easy, especially for young people, Pope Francis said.

“But with God’s help and with the sincere will to do good, every obstacle can be overcome,” he told international students and those who minister to them.

Students studying abroad and about 100 campus ministers and representatives of bishops’ conferences participated in the Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students Nov. 28-Dec. 2. The congress was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

Pope Francis said it was important that new generations always be inspired and guided to build a “healthier society,” especially when it comes to dealing with moral dilemmas.

Today, “the moral challenges to be addressed are many and it is not always easy to fight for affirming the truth and values, especially when one is young,” he said, but it can be done with God’s help and honest intentions.

He said he was pleased to see so many young students attending the congress because it showed that “challenges do not make you afraid, rather they drive you to work to build a more humane world. Never stop and don’t get discouraged because Christ’s Spirit will guide you if you listen to his voice.”

Pursuing higher studies, especially abroad in a new social and cultural context, helps students and the communities that host them to broaden their horizons, become more tolerant and welcoming, build trust and spark a desire to work for the common good, he said.

The pope told educators and pastoral workers to help deepen foreign students’ love for the Gospel and their desire to live it out concretely and share it with others.

By teaching how to think critically and to grow in Christian values, one forms young people who are “thirsty for truth and not power, ready to defend values and live mercy and charity — fundamental foundations for a healthier society.”

While the pope praised the benefits of getting an education abroad, he lamented “brain drain” — that is, the “painful” lack of social or employment opportunities in poorer countries, which pushes bright students to “abandon their own nation.”

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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.

1 day 19 hours

lasallecheerdownsThe La Salle Cheerleaders were privileged to work with the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati Cheerleaders. They will perform with the La Salle Cheerleaders at Halftime of an upcoming La Salle Basketball game and will be their 2nd performance at Bill Cady Court.

1 day 21 hours
steps at HCIPilgrims pray the steps at Holy Cross-Immaculata Church. (Courtesy Photo)

Holy Cross – Immaculata Church in Mt. Adams, famous for the annual tradition of “praying the steps” on Good Friday, is a launching a new tradition for the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Monday, Dec. 12.

Parishioners have been invited to take luminaria, decorate each in honor of a loved one, and return them to the parish.

On the feast day, hundreds of lighted luminaria will line the steps from St. Gregory Street to the church, where a vespers service will take place at 7 p.m.

All are welcome to take part in the service.

Holy Cross Immaculata, 30 Guido St., Cincinnati OH 45202
hciparish.org

2 days 4 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/courtesy Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — More than 70 presidents at Catholic colleges and universities have signed a statement pledging their support for students attending their schools who are legally protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA.

The statement, posted Nov. 30 on the website of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, says it hopes “the students in our communities who have qualified for DACA are able to continue their studies without interruption and that many more students in their situation will be welcome to contribute their talents to our campuses.”

President Barack Obama’s DACA program protects young immigrants brought into the United States by their parents as young children without legal permission. More than 720,000 of these young immigrants have been approved for the program, which protects them from deportation for two-year periods.

The college leaders’ statement also points out that “undocumented students need assistance in confronting legal and financial uncertainty and in managing the accompanying anxieties. We pledge to support these students — through our campus counseling and ministry support, through legal resources from those campuses with law schools and legal clinics and through whatever other services we may have at our disposal.”

The statement was released three weeks after the presidential election. During his campaign, President-elect Donald Trump promised to deport those who are in the country without legal permission; build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border; and enact a ban on Muslims entering the country until a system for what he called “extreme vetting” of refugees is in place.

Trump also made promises during his campaign to undo what he called Obama’s “overreaching” executive orders, including the president’s November 2014 expansion of his 2012 DACA program to allow more young immigrants people to benefit from its provisions that defer deportations and allow them to have work permits.

“Many of us count among our students young men and women who are undocumented, their families having fled violence and instability,” the presidents’ letter said, adding that these students have met the DACA criteria.

Signers of the letter represent large schools, like Villanova, which is outside Philadelphia, DePaul University in Chicago and The Catholic University of America in Washington, and small schools, like Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts, and Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa, and dozens of colleges in between. They include leaders who have been vocal in their support of students with DACA status, such as Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity Washington University, and Jesuit Father Kevin Wildes, president of Loyola University New Orleans. 

Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, and Jesuit Father Michael Sheeran, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, also signed the statement.

Many of the signers are presidents of Jesuit colleges and universities who signed a similar Nov. 30 statement issued by the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities that reiterated support for students who are in the United States without legal documents.

That statement, signed by 28 leaders, said: “We feel spiritually and morally compelled to raise a collective voice confirming our values and commitments as Americans and educators.”

The leaders pledged to continue working “to protect to the fullest extent of the law undocumented students on our campuses” and to promote retention of students with DACA status.

Several of the signers of both statements also signed a Nov. 21 letter with more than 400 college and university presidents from public and private institutions across the U.S. offering to meet with U.S. leaders on the issue of immigrant students and urging business, civic, religious and nonprofit sectors to join them in supporting DACA and undocumented immigrant students.

The letter from Catholic college and university presidents stressed that their schools “share a long history of educating students from a diverse array of socioeconomic, geographical and ethnic backgrounds, often welcoming those on society’s margins, especially immigrants and underprivileged populations.”

It also cited what Pope Francis said last year at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia when he welcomed many recent immigrants to the United States, pointing out that many of them came to the United States “at great personal cost, in the hope of building a new life.”

“Do not be discouraged by whatever hardships you face,” the pope told them. “I ask you not to forget that, like those who came here before you, you bring many gifts to this nation.”

John DeGioia, president of Georgetown University, who joined the statement with Jesuit college leaders, also sent a similar-themed message to members of the school community Nov. 29.

In the letter, he noted that he has been meeting with students, faculty and staff members from the university and “many of them have shared with me that they feel vulnerable and unsure about their futures or the futures of close friends and family.”

DeGioia stressed that Georgetown’s school community would continue to support the DACA program and “protect our undocumented students to the fullest extent of the law.”

“I wish to encourage each of us to recommit ourselves to supporting one another — to working together to do all that we can to ensure that our community is a place of deep care for each person, especially those who feel most vulnerable,” he wrote.

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Follow Zimmermann on Twitter @carolmaczim.

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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.

2 days 13 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/Christina Gray, Catholic San Francisco

By Christina Gray

SAN FRANCISCO (CNS) — Thomas Myron Hooker lived the last 20 years of his life without a roof over his head, but his death proved he was hardly without a home.

Hundreds of people — church families, neighbors, shopkeepers and perhaps even strangers touched by the cheerful kindness and generosity of the man who for years had made camp under a tarp on a street corner in San Francisco’s Richmond District — streamed into Star of the Sea Catholic Church Nov. 7 to express their respect and affection.

Hooker had endeared himself to the parish and surrounding community with his gentle spirit. He spent a part of each day praying in the back pews, said Star of the Sea pastor Father Joseph Illo, who eulogized him as “a kind of patron saint of the homeless.”

“The meaning of being homeless beyond shelter is when you lack a home, lack a family who understands you. You are homeless when you don’t feel you belong anywhere,” said Father Illo. “Many of us who live in more comfort are more homeless than Thomas was. He had a home with us.”

Thomas had “overcome his homelessness,” said Father Illo, who claimed Hooker’s body after his death Oct. 26 and planned the funeral Mass and reception that followed. McAvoy O’Hara & Evergreen Mortuary donated a casket and prepared the body for burial. A special collection was taken during the Mass so that Hooker might be laid to rest with dignity and a headstone at Holy Cross Cemetery in Colma.

According to a Richmond District blog, Hooker was originally from Trinidad and had spent time in Chicago before coming to San Francisco.

Every day, Hooker worked his way along Clement Street with his shopping cart and would stand at a corner near Walgreens, usually talking to himself.

“This was a man who never asked for anything,” Lea Grey Dimond, owner of Thidwick Books on Clement Street, told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocesan newspaper.

Hooker was one of three individuals profiled in a documentary about mental illness called “Voices.” In the trailer for the documentary, Hooker says with a huge grin: “I suffer a lot, you know, and when you suffer, you must know to be kind.”

At a reception in the school gym following the funeral Mass for him, the community took turns sharing memories of Hooker and offering parting thoughts. “Voices” was shown afterward.

“Thomas had a gift for loving generously and unconditionally,” said one speaker. “He brought our community something rare and special.”

A man in tears said he was overcome by the overflowing crowd who had come out to honor Hooker. The tears turned to laughter when he confessed he often “gave my money to Thomas instead of the church.”

Star of the Sea parishioners Arnold and Jean Low had brought food to Hooker for more than 20 years and were the ones to find him unresponsive on the morning of his death.

“Thomas was a kind and friendly soul, always had a smile on his face, always had something complimentary to say to you,” said Arnold Low. “There are other homeless souls for you to reach out to.

Also keep this in mind, he said: “When I am thirsty, you gave me to drink, when I was hungry, you gave me to eat, when I was cold you gave me clothes. Whatever you do for others, you do for me your Lord our God.”

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Gray is on the staff of Catholic San Francisco, newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

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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.

2 days 17 hours
Maria Stein Shrine (Courtesy Photo)Maria Stein Shrine (Courtesy Photo)

The Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics will be bringing in Christmas time with two special events.

St. Nick will visit at the Shrine at 1 p.m. on Dec. 3. All are welcome to come celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas by joining in prayer, pictures, cookies and hot cocoa. There is a cost of $3 per child. Please RSVP by Dec. 1 by calling 419-925-4532.

Matthew Hess, ministries and hospitality coordinator at the Shrine, said: “The feast of Saint Nicholas, celebrated by the Church on the sixth of December, is an important celebration throughout the Church and the world. Various cultures have special ways of marking the generosity of Saint Nicholas, who offers a timely lesson in selflessness for the Advent season, which prepares Christians for the coming of Christ at Christmas,” Hess said. “Many people of German decent in the area grew up with this tradition and they now have passed it on to their children. The celebration is also a way of connecting a real and holy man to the popular American tradition of Santa Clause.”

Also, beginning Dec. 1 and continuing through Jan. 9 (with the exception of Dec. 23-26, 31 and Jan. 1-2, when the Shrine will be closed) visit the Shrine to view and enjoy the “Christmas Traditions Nativities Exhibit.”

These displays are from the collection of Tim and Kathleen Nealeigh and include a variety of Nativities and St. Nicholas figurines from many different cultures.

“Since the first nativity scene was developed by Saint Francis of Assisi, different people have been putting their own spin on the birth of Christ. This display of nativities showcases the various ways the Jesus’ birth has been interpreted,” Hess said. “It is also an important reminder of what Christmas is really about, for at the center of these sets sits the Divine Christ Child. We too are called to be like the shepherds and kings who sought out Christ. Furthermore, much like the variety of figures from a range of cultures, each finds a path to God that is different from others. This display is meant to showcase the similarity woven intimately into our differences: Jesus the Messiah.”

There is no charge to experience the nativities display, however a free will offering will be taken.

The Shrine is located at 2291 St. John’s Rd. in Maria Stein. To learn more about the Maria Stein Shrine of the Holy Relics, visit www.mariasteinshrine.org.

2 days 18 hours

IMAGE: CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano, handout

By Cindy Wooden

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The morning after screening his film, “Silence,” for about 300 Jesuits, the U.S. director Martin Scorsese had a private audience with Pope Francis.

During the 15-minute audience Nov. 30, Pope Francis told Scorsese that he had read Japanese author Shusaku Endo’s historical novel, “Silence,” which inspired the film. The book and film are a fictionalized account of the persecution of Christians in 17th-century Japan; the central figures are Jesuit missionaries.

Pope Francis spoke to Scorsese, his wife and two daughters, and the film’s producer, about the early Jesuit missions to Japan and about the Twenty-Six Martyrs Museum and Monument in Nagasaki, which honors the Japanese martyrs executed on the site in 1597.

Scorsese gave the pope two paintings, which the Vatican said were “connected to the theme of the ‘hidden Christians,'” the Christians who kept their faith secret during the persecution. One of the paintings was of an image of Mary venerated in the 1700s.

The U.S. director screened the film Nov. 29 at the Jesuit-run Pontifical Oriental Institute in Rome for an international group of Jesuits and Nov. 30 in the Vatican for specially invited guests.

In an interview taped after he met the pope, Scorsese said the pope had told him that he hopes the film “bears fruit.”

Scorsese said an Episcopalian bishop gave him Endo’s novel in 1988 and, immediately after reading it, he wanted to make a film of it, but it took 28 years to understand the story, to figure out how to tell it, to get the funding and cast and crew together. “It was like a pilgrimage,” Scorsese told TV2000, the television channel of the Italian bishops’ conference.

All that time getting everything together, he said, means the film — set for a Dec. 23 release in the United States — is coming out at a time when religious freedom and religious intolerance are not just of historical interest, but are in the news today. “It wasn’t such a big topic when I began” more than two decades ago.

In the novel, the Jesuit priest and missionary Father Rodrigues is captured; to make him renounce the faith, the Japanese authorities force him to watch as local Christians are martyred. While he believes he would suffer for his faith, he has a difficult time refusing to publicly renounce Christianity when it would end the suffering of the others.

In the end, Scorsese told TV2000, Father Rodrigues “understands Christ, he understands the love of Christ and they can’t take that away from him. Everything else is stripped away but that.” He publicly recants.

“On the surface,” Scorsese said, the book’s title “refers to the silence of God,” though Father Rodrigues learns that “God is in the silence, that God has been there suffering with him.”

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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.

2 days 20 hours
Father Bob Hater who teaches students at the Athenauem of Ohio (Courtesy Photo)Father Bob Hater who teaches students at the Athenauem of Ohio (Courtesy Photo)

By Gail Deibler Finke

The Athenaeum of Ohio, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati’s seminary and graduate school, is offering half-price tuition to all lay students for the spring semester.

Funds from the One Hope, One Faith, One Love campaign are providing half-price tuition scholarships for the current academic year so that more people in the area can study at the institution. Father Benedict O’Cinnsealaigh, the school’s rector, says it’s a great time to try out a class or begin a degree program.

“The Athenaeum scholarship offers an outstanding opportunity to be educated and formed in the teaching of the church with faithfulness and conviction,” he said. “It’s an opportunity that should not be missed.”

Classes offered this spring include Ecclesiology, Sacramental Theology, Religious Freedom in the American Context, and Sacred Scripture Seen through Sacred Art. Classes at t both the Master’s and Certificate level are offered during the day, on weekends, and in the evenings.

The Athenaeum of Ohio Special Studies Division offers programs in Theology, Lay Pastoral Ministry, Biblical Studies, and Catholic Studies. Laypeople can take or audit classes for personal enrichment as well as for degree programs; the Lay Pastoral Ministry program is required for permanent deacons.

“The Athenaeum is a unique place of learning because it has one vision, one reason for existing, one hope, one vision, one message, and that is to be formed and educated in the teachings of Jesus and His Church,” said Father O’Cinnsealaigh. “All the others sciences are important but they are not the focus of our mission – to come to know Jesus – that’s our mission.

“All of our faculty and staff are committed to this and so is our seminarian and our students. Imagine being in a place, surrounded by people, who have this one goal — to know Jesus and proclaim His message to the world. Now that’s a community worth being part of.”

Registration is due in mid December and classes begin in January. For more information see www.growinwisdom.org; contact Father David Endres, dean, at 513- 233-6172, or dendres@athenaeum.edu; or contact Susan McGurgan, director of the Lay Pastoral Ministry Program, at 513-231-1200.

2 days 22 hours

standrew-grecoIn the synoptic Gospels, Andrew is a Galilean fisherman grouped with his brother, Peter, and with James and John in the inner circle of Apostles; in John’s Gospel, he is the disciple of John the Baptist who is the first to follow Jesus and who brings his brother to the Lord. Many traditions about Andrew come from the apocryphal second-century Acts of Andrew, which depicts him as a zealous missionary in the Black Sea region who is crucified—tied to an x-shaped cross—by the Roman governor. Some early church historians also said he evangelized in Greece and Asia Minor. He is the patron saint of Scotland, Russia, Greece, and those who fish for a living.

In his last words to the apostles, the Lord Jesus Christ gave them a mission: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20).

“Jesus Christ—the Word made flesh and Son of the Father—has an absolutely unique role in the salvation of the world. Similarly, the [Catholic] Church . . . uniquely contains the means of continuing Christ’s saving mission” (Bishop Joseph Fiorenza, Statement on Dominus Iesus, 2000).

Christ’s instruction to the apostles was a great call to those who became the first bishops and the first missionaries of the Church. They were told to go ad gentes—that is, “to the nations,” to those who did not know Christ—and to proclaim the Gospel. Because the apostles were faithful and obedient to Christ’s command, his Church has grown and flourished.

The responsibility for fulfilling that mandate passes on unchanged to the bishops and to all the Catholics of today. The word “catholic”—that is, “universal”—embodies God’s purpose for his Church. He wants to extend it to the farthest corners of the earth. He wants to show all people his love and mercy.

Missions are those “particular undertakings by which the heralds of the Gospel, sent out by the Church and going forth into the whole world, carry out the task of preaching the Gospel and planting the Church among peoples or groups who do not yet believe in Christ. . . . The proper purpose of this missionary activity is evangelization” (Ad Gentes, no. 6).

However, this mission is far from complete. There are many young churches that need missionaries to develop and grow. There are many dioceses, eparchies, and countries struggling with poverty, persecution, oppression, war, and immense suffering that need missionaries to witness to the light and love of Christ, bringing hope for the future.

The Church can never “withdraw from her permanent mission of bringing the Gospel to the multitudes—the millions and millions of men and women—who as yet do not know Christ the Redeemer of humanity” (On the Permanent Validity of the Church’s Missionary Mandate [Redemptoris Missio], no. 31, original italics). Therefore, all Catholics, by reason of their incorporation into the Church at Baptism, should fully participate and cooperate in Christ’s ongoing mission “to the nations.”

We, the Catholic bishops of the United States, commit ourselves anew to supporting the world mission effort, and we ask all Catholics to join us in this venture.
The Great Call of Apostleship was a statement released by the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops in June 2005. For the entire statement, click on http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe/teaching-the-spirit-of-mission-ad-gentes-continuing-pentecost-today.cfm

2 days 22 hours

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Today, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the pontifical household, gave the the first Advent sermon of this season.

Here is a translation of the text:

__

I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT

  1. The Innovation after the Council

With the celebration of the 50th year of the end of the Second Vatican Council, the first “post-conciliar” period comes to a close and a new one begins. If the first period was categorized by problems relating to the “reception” of the Council, this new period will be characterized, I believe, by the completion and integration of the Council—in other words, by re-reading the Council in the light of the fruit it produced while also highlighting what was lacking in it or only present in a seminal phase.

The major innovation in theology and in the life of the Church after the Council has a specific name: the Holy Spirit. The Council had certainly not ignored the Holy Spirit’s action in the Church, but it had spoken of it almost always “in passing,” often mentioning him but without emphasizing his central role, not even in The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. In one conversation during the time that we were together on the International Theological Commission, I remember that Father Yves Congar used a striking image in this regard: he spoke of a Holy Spirit who is sprinkled here and there throughout the texts like sugar sprinkled on top of pastries without, however, being part of the recipe itself.

Nevertheless, the thaw had begun. We can say that the intuition of St. John XXIII about the Council as “a new Pentecost for the Church” found its actualization only later after the conclusion of the Council, as has so often happened in the history of the Councils.

In the coming year, the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Charismatic Renewal in the Catholic Church will occur. It is one of the many signs—the most noticeable because of the magnitude of the phenomenon—of an awakening to the Holy Spirit and charisms in the Church. The Council had paved the way for this reception, speaking in Lumen gentium of the charismatic dimension of the Church alongside the institutional and hierarchical dimension and insisting on the importance of charisms.[1] In his homily for the Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday in 2012, Benedict XVI affirmed,

Anyone who considers the history of the post-conciliar era can recognize the process of true renewal, which often took unexpected forms in living movements and made almost tangible the inexhaustible vitality of holy Church, the presence and effectiveness of the Holy Spirit.

Contemporaneously the renewed experience of the Holy Spirit stimulated theological reflection.[2] Soon after the Council, treatises on the Holy Spirit multiplied: among Catholics, that of Yves Congar[3], of Karl Rahner[4], of Heribert Mühlen[5], and of Hans Urs von Balthasar[6]; among Lutherans, that of Jürgen Moltmann[7], of Michael Welker[8], and many others. On the part of the magisterium there was the encyclical Dominum et vivificantem (On the Holy Spirit in the Life of the Church and the World) by St. John Paul II. In 1982 on the occasion of Sixteenth Centenary of the First Council of Constantinople in 381, that same Supreme Pontiff sponsored the International Congress of Pneumatology at the Vatican, and its proceedings were published in two large volumes called Credo in Spiritum Sanctum[9].

In recent years we have witnessed a decisive step forward in this direction. Toward the end of his career Karl Barth made a provocative statement that was in part a self-criticism. He said that in the future a new theology would be developed, the “theology of the third article”[10]. By “third article” he of course meant the article in the creed about the Holy Spirit. His suggestion did not fall on deaf ears. It has given rise to the present theological current that is precisely named the “Theology of the Third Article.”

I do not think that such a current aims to substitute itself for traditional theology (and it would be mistake if it did); rather it is meant to come alongside of it and reinvigorate it. It proposes to make the Holy Spirit not only the object of one treatise, pneumatology, but also the atmosphere, so to speak, in which the whole life of the Church and all theological research unfolds—for the Holy Spirit is the “light of dogmas,” as an ancient Church Father described him.

The most complete treatment of this recent theological current is a volume by scholars that appeared in English this last September called Third Article Theology[11]. Beginning with the great tradition of the trinitarian doctrine, theologians from various Christian Churches offer their contributions to this book as an introduction to a systematic theology that is more open to the Spirit and more responsive to current needs. As a Catholic, I too was invited to contribute to the book with an essay on “Christology and Pneumatology in the Early Centuries of the Church.”

  1. The Creed Read from Below

The reasons that warrant this new theological orientation are not only dogmatic but also historical. In other words, we can understand what the theology of the third article is and what it aims for if we keep in mind how the actual Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol came about. That history clearly points to the usefulness of examining that symbol “in reverse” at some point, that is, starting from the end instead of from the beginning.

Let me explain what I mean. The Nicene-Constantinopolitan symbol reflects the Christian faith in its ultimate phase after all the council clarifications and definitions were completed in the 5th century. It reflects the order reached at the end of the process of formulating the dogma, but it does not, however, reflect the process itself, faith in the making. In other words, it does not correspond to the process by which the faith of the Church was actually formed historically, nor does it correspond to the process by which someone arrives at faith today, understood as a living faith in a living God.

In today’s creed one begins with God the Father and Creator and moves on from him to the Son and his redemptive work, and finally to the Holy Spirit operating in the Church. In reality, the faith followed a reverse path. It was the Pentecostal experience of the Spirit that brought the Church to discover who Jesus was and what his teaching was. With Paul and above all with John we reach the point of ascending from Jesus to the Father. It is the Paraclete who, according to Jesus’ promise (see Jn 16:13), leads the disciples into “all the truth” about himself and the Father.

Basil of Caesarea summarizes the development of revelation and of salvation history this way:

The way of the knowledge of God lies from One Spirit through the One Son to the One Father, and conversely the natural Goodness and the inherent Holiness and the royal Dignity extend from the Father through the Only-begotten to the Spirit[12].

In other words, on the level of creation and being, everything comes from the Father, goes through the Son, and reaches us through the Spirit. However, in the order of redemption and conscious awareness, everything begins with the Holy Spirit, goes through the Son Jesus Christ, and returns to the Father. We could say that St. Basil is the real initiator of Third Article Theology! In the Western tradition this is expressed concisely in the final stanza of the hymn “Veni creator.” Addressing the Holy Spirit, the Church prays,

Per te sciamus da Patrem
noscamus atque Filium,
Te utriusque Spiritum
credamus omni tempore.

Oh, may Thy grace on us bestow
the Father and the Son to know;
and Thee, through endless times confessed,
of both the eternal Spirit blest.

This does not in the least mean that the Church’s creed is imperfect or that it needs to be reformulated.  It cannot be other than what it is. However, what is sometimes useful is to change our approach to reading it so as to retrace the path by which it was formulated. There is the same contrast between the two ways of approaching the creed—as a finished product or in its process of formulation—as there is, on the one hand, between leaving St. Catherine’s Monastery early in the morning and personally climbing Mount Sinai and, on the other hand, reading the account of someone who climbed it before we did.

  1. A Commentary on the “Third Article”

With this in view, I would like to offer reflections on some aspects of the Holy Spirit’s action in the three meditations for Advent, beginning precisely with the third article of the creed that pertains to him.  The article includes three great affirmations. Let us start with the first one that says,

a) “I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.”

The creed does not say that the Holy Spirit is “the” Lord (just above in the creed we proclaim, “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ”!). “Lord” (in the original text, to kyrion, neuter!) indicates here the nature, not the person; it says what the Holy Spirit is but not who he is.  “Lord” means that the Holy Spirit shares in the lordship of God, that he is in the category of Creator, and not the category of a creature. In other words, he has a divine nature.

The Church reached this certainty based not only on Scripture, but also on her own experience of salvation. The Spirit, wrote St. Athanasius, cannot be a creature because when we are touched by him (in the sacraments, in the word, in prayer), we experience entering into contact with God in person and not with his intermediary. If the Spirit divinizes us, it means that he is God himself[13].

Could we not say the same thing in the symbol of faith in a more explicit way, defining the Holy Spirit purely and simply as “God and consubstantial with the Father” as was done for the Son? Certainly, and this was the criticism of the definition quickly leveled by some bishops, including Gregory Nazianzus. However, for reasons of expediency and peace, saying the same the thing  with equivalent expressions was preferred, attributing to the Spirit, in addition to the title of “Lord,” the isotimia, that is, equality with the Father and the Son in being adored and glorified by the Church.

The description of the Spirit as “the giver of life” is drawn from various passages in the New Testament: “It is the Spirit that gives life” (Jn 6:63); “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:2); “the last Adam became a life-giving spirit” (1 Cor 15:45); “the written code kills, but the Spirit gives life” (1 Cor 3:6).

Let us ask three questions here. First, what kind of life does the Holy Spirit give? The answer: divine life, the life of Christ. A supernatural life, not a natural super-life. He creates the new man, not Nietzsche’s superman with his “pride of life.” Second, where does he give us this life? The answer: in baptism, which is in fact represented as a “rebirth in the Spirit” (see Jn 3:5), in the sacraments, in the word of God, in prayer, in faith, and in suffering that is accepted in union with Christ. Third, how does the Spirit give us life? The answer: by making the works of the flesh die! He gives us that life through a death. “If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live,” St. Paul says in Romans 8:13.

b) . . . Who Proceeds from the Father (and the Son), Who with the Father and the Son Is Adored and Glorified”

Let us now move on to the second great affirmation of the creed about the Holy Spirit. Up to this point the creed has told us about the nature of the Spirit but not yet about the person of the Spirit. It has spoken of what he is but not who he is. It has also spoken to us about what the Spirit and the Father and the Son have in common—the fact of being God and giving life. With this present affirmation, however, we move on to what distinguishes the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son. What distinguishes him from the Father is that he proceeds from him. (The one who proceeds is other than the one from whom he proceeds!) What distinguishes the Spirit from the Son is that he proceeds from the Father not by generation but by spiration, a breathing forth. To express this in symbolic terms, he is not like a concept (logos) that proceeds from the mind but like a breath that proceeds from the mouth.

This is the pivotal part of the article in the creed because it is intended to define the position that the Paraclete occupies in the Trinity. This part of the creed is known primarily for the problem of the Filioque that for a millennium was the main point of disagreement between the East and the West. I will not spend time on this problem because it has been discussed more than enough and also because I spoke about it myself in this setting during Lent last year in treating the points of agreement on faith between the East and the West[14].

I will limit myself to highlighting what we can retain from this part of the symbol that enriches our common faith, setting aside theological disputes.  It tells us that the Holy Spirit is not simply a “poor relative,” so to speak, in the Trinity. He is not “a way that God acts,” an energy or a fluid that permeates the universe like the Stoics thought. He is a “subsistent relation” and therefore a person.

He is not so much “a third person singular” as he is “a first person plural.” He is the “We” of the Father and Son[15]. To express this in a human way, when the Father and the Son speak of the Holy Spirit they do not say “he”; instead they say “we” because he is the unity between the Father and the Son. Here we can see the extraordinary fecundity of St. Augustine’s insight in which the Father is the one who loves, the Son is the one loved, and the Spirit is the love that unites them, the reciprocal gift[16]. The belief of the Western Church that the Holy Spirit proceeds “from the Father and the Son” is based on this.

The Holy Spirit, nevertheless, will always remain the hidden God, even if we can know him by his effects. He is like the wind: no one knows where it comes from and where it will blow, but we can see the effects of its passing. He is like the light that illuminates everything around it but remains invisible.

This is why the Spirit is the least known and least beloved of the three Persons, despite the fact that he is Love in person. It is easier to think of the Father and Son as “persons,” but that is more difficult for us to do with the Spirit. There are no human categories that can help us understand this mystery. To speak of the Father, we have the assistance of philosophy that deals with the First Cause (the God of the philosophers); to speak about the Son, we have the human analogy of a father-son relationship, and we also have the history of the Word becoming flesh. However, to speak of the Holy Spirit we have nothing but revelation and experience. Scripture itself speaks of him almost always by using symbols from nature: light, fire, wind, water, perfume, the dove.

We will fully understand who the Holy Spirit is only in Paradise. There we will live a life that will have no end, in a deepened understanding of him that will give us immense joy. He will be like a very gentle fire that will inundate our souls and fill us with bliss, like when love fills a person’s heart and that person is happy.

c) “. . . Who Has Spoken through the Prophets”

We have now come to the third and last affirmation about the Holy Spirit. After we have professed our faith in the life-giving and sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit in the first part of the article (the Spirit is the Lord and the giver of life), now his charismatic action is also mentioned. Regarding this action, there is one charism that is mentioned, the one that Paul holds to be the most important, namely, prophecy (see 1 Cor 14).

In regard to the prophetic charism, the article mentions only one of its manifestations by the Holy Spirit: he “has spoken through the prophets,” that is, in the Old Testament. This affirmation is based on various texts in Scripture but in particular 2 Peter 1:21: “no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

  1. An Article to Complete

The Letter to the Hebrews says, “God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son” (Heb1:1). The Spirit has not, therefore, ceased speaking by means of the prophets; he did so through Jesus and still speaks today in the Church. This point and other gaps in the symbol were gradually filled in by the practice of the Church without the need to change the text of the creed because of it (as unfortunately happened in the Latin world with the addition of the Filioque). We have an example of this in the epiclesis of the Orthodox liturgy attributed to St. James that prays as follows:

Send . . . your most Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of life, who is seated with you, God and Father, and with your only-begotten Son; he rules with you consubstantially and coeternally. He spoke through the Law, the Prophets, and the New Testament; he descended in the form of a dove upon our Lord Jesus Christ in the Jordan River, resting upon him, and descended on his holy apostles . . . on the day of holy Pentecost[17].

Anyone who tries to find everything in the article about the Holy Spirit, is going to be disappointed. This fact demonstrates the nature and the limit of every dogmatic definition. Its purpose is not to say everything about a tenet of faith but to draw a perimeter within which every affirmation about that doctrine must be placed and that no affirmation can contradict. In this case, there are the additional factors that the article was formulated at a time when the reflection on the Paraclete was just beginning and, as I said above, contingent historical circumstances (the emperor’s desire for peace) led to a compromise between the parties.

We are not, however, left with only the words in the creed about the Paraclete. Theology, liturgy, and Christian piety, both in the East and the West, have clothed in “flesh and blood” the succinct affirmations of the symbol of faith. In the sequence of Pentecost of our Latin liturgy, the intimate personal relationship of the Holy Spirit with every individual soul, which is not mentioned in the symbol, is expressed by titles like “father of the poor,” “the light of the heart,” “sweet guest of the soul,” and “greatest comforter.” The same sequence addresses a series of prayers to the Holy Spirit that are particularly beautiful and responsive to our needs. Let us conclude by proclaiming them together, hopefully seeking to identify among them the one that we feel we need the most.

Lava quod est sordidum,
riga quod est aridum,
sana quod est saucium.

Flecte quod est rigidum,
fove quod est frigidum,
rege quod est devium.

Wash that which is sordid
water that which is dry,
heal that which is wounded.

Make flexible that which is rigid,
warm that which is cold,
rule that which is deviant.

____________________________

English translation by Marsha Daigle Williamson

[1] Lumen gentium (The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church), no. 12.

[2] See Klaus Heitmann and Heribert Mühlen, eds., Erfahrung und Theologie des Heiligen Geistes (Munich: Kösel, 1974).

[3]  Yves Congar, I Believe in the Holy Spirit, trans. Geoffrey Chapman (New York: Crossroad, 1983), p. 73ff; original, 1979-1980 in French.

[4] Karl Rahner, The Spirit in the Church, trans. J. G. Cumming (New York: Crossroad, 1985); original, 1977 in German.

[5] Heribert Mühlen, Der Heilige Geist als Person: Ich—Du—Wir [The Holy Spirit as a Person: I-You-We] (Munich: Aschendorf, 1963).

[6]  Hans Urs von Balthasar, Creator Spirit, vol. 3, Explorations in Theology, trans. Brian McNeil (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1993); original, 1967 in German.

[7]  Jürgen Moltmann, The Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), pp. 180-197; original, 1991 in German.

[8]  Michael Welker, God the Spirit, trans. John F. Hoffmeyer (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress 1994), pp. 40-44; original, 1992 in German.

[9]  Jose Saraiva Martins, ed., Credo in Spiritum Sanctum, 2 vols. (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1983).

[10]  See Karl Barth, “Concluding Unscientific Postscript on Schleiermacher,” in The Theology of Schleiermacher, ed. Dietrich Ritschl, trans. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), p. 278, and Karl Barth’s Table Talk, trans. John D. Godsey (Edinburgh: Oliver and Boyd, 1963), p. 28.

[11]  Myk Habets, ed., Third Article Theology: A Pneumatological Dogmatics (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2016).

[12]  Basil of Caesarea, On the Holy Spirit, XVIII, 47, in Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol. 8, p. 29; see De Spiritu Sancto, XVIII, 47 (PG 32, 153).

[13]  See St. Athanasius, “First Epistle to Serapion,” in The Letters of St. Athanasius Concerning the Holy Spirit, 1, 24, trans. C. R. B. Shapland (London: Epworth Press, 1951), p. 61ff; see also PG 26, p. 585.

[14]  See Raniero Cantalamessa, Due polmoni, un solo respiro. Oriente e occidente di fronte ai grandi misteri della fede ( Rome: Libreria Editrice Vaticana 2016), pp. 51-66  (French trans. Deux poumons, une seule respiration: Vers une pleine communion de foi entre Orient et Occident [Nouan le Fuzelier, France: Editions des Béatitudes,  2016], pp. 49-64).

[15]  See Mühlen, Der Heilige Geist als Person: Ich—Du—Wir. The first person to describe the Holy Spirit as the “divine we” was Søren Kierkegaard, Diary, 2A 731, April 23, 1838.

[16]  See St. Augustine, “On the Trinity,” Basic Writings of St. Augustine, vol. 2, ed. Whitney J. Oates (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1992), p. 790.

[17]  For the “Anaphora of St. James,” see Anton Hänggi and Irmgard Pahl, Prex Eucharistica: Textus e variis liturgiis antiquioribus selecti (Fribourg: Éditions Universitaires, 1968), p. 250.

 

20 hours 11 min

A good education makes use of human and divine knowledge to bring students to an understanding of the presence of God in every human being, says Pope Francis.

The Pope said this in a message of Nov. 27, to mark the Calasanctian Jubilee Year (from St. Joseph of Calasanz). The Jubilee marks the 400th anniversary of the founding of the Pious Schools, which provide free education to the poor, and the Religious Order that runs them, commonly known as the Piarists, founded by St. Joseph Calasanctius.

Pope Pius V established the order, “the first Congregation in the Church dedicated exclusively to the education of children and young people, especially the poorest,” Francis noted.

In his Message, the Holy Father also spoke of the Piarist Fathers as incarnating their mission beyond the classroom. “And, at the same time, they have been able to respond to the requests of the Church, assuming pastoral services wherever necessary.”

“Today more than ever we need an evangelizing pedagogy capable of changing the heart and reality in harmony with the Kingdom of God, making people protagonists and participants in the process,” he said. “Christian education, especially among the poorest and where the Good News has little place or touches life marginally, is a privileged means to achieve this goal.”

The Pontiff reflected: “I want to remember the strong words with which your founder described the ministry to which he dedicated his life: ‘Very dignified, very noble, very praiseworthy, very beneficial, very useful, very necessary, deeply rooted in our nature, very appreciated, very pleasant and very glorious’ (Memorial to Cardinal Tonti). These words are still valid! In fact, today there are millions of children without access to education, excluded in big cities, limited in their aspirations and plans for the future due to human selfishness and greed; thousands of children away from their homes and their schools due to wars, and requiring special educational attention. And all school children are continually in need of true teachers, to help them grow from deep roots, to show them Christ and to accompany them on the journey of life.”

The Pope also had words of encouragement for the spiritual life of the Piarists in the footsteps of Christ.

“Being part of a religious family for Saint Joseph Calasanz meant choosing a path of continuous and marked abasement,” he said. “Being Piarist is being, by definition, a person in a low state, a small one that can be identified with the small, a poor with the poor. The history of our salvation is the story of a supreme abasement: the divine becomes human, the celestial becomes terrestrial, the eternal becomes temporary, the absolute becomes fragile, the wisdom of God becomes madness and his strength becomes weakness; because Life, the true Life, is humbled to death, and death on the cross. To follow Jesus is to follow his abasement, to come, as He, to the bottom of humanity, of our weakness, and there to become a servant, as the One who did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for all.”

The Calasanctian Jubilee Year opened on November 27 of 2016 in the church of San Pantaleo in Rome, with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, Prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.

The Jubilee Year will end on November 25 of 2017, with a Eucharistic celebration in San Pantaleo, presided by the Father General of the Congregation of Piarists, Fr. Pedro Aguado, Sch.P.

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-message-to-piarist-fathers-for-anniversary-of-foundation/

20 hours 13 min

Pope Francis has authorized the Congregation for Saints’ Causes to promulgate decrees regarding several causes for canonization.

The martyrdom of Father Stanley Rother, an American priest killed in Guatemala out of “hatred for the faith,” was officially recognized; as was the heroic virtue of Mother Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood, the foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Precious Blood, which was the first contemplative community founded in Canada.

Below, please find the full list of decrees whose promulgation was authorized by Pope Francis:

  • The miracle, attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Giovanni Schiavo, professed Priest of the Congregation of San Giuseppe; born 8 July 1903 and died 27 January 1967;
  • The martyrdom of the Servant of God Vicente Queralt Lloret, professed Priest of the Congregation of the Missions, and 20 Companions, amongst them six professed priests of the same Congregation, five diocesan Priests, two religious Daughters of Charity, and seven Lay members of the Association Sons of Mary of the Miraculous Medal, killed in hatred of the Faith during the civil war in Spain between 1936 and 1937;
  • The martyrdom of the Servant of God Teofilius Matulionis, Archbishop-Bishop of Kaišiadorys (Lithuania), born 22 June 1873 and died in hatred of the Faith on 20 August 1962;
  • The martyrdom of the Servant of God Stanley Francis Rother, diocesan Priest; born on 27 March 1935 and died in hatred of the Faith 28 July 1981;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Guglielmo Massaia, of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin, Cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, born 8 June 1809, died 6 August 1889;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Nunzio Russo, diocesan Priest, Founder of the Congregation of the Daughters of the Cross; born 30 October 1841, died 22 November 1906;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God José Bau Burguet, diocesan Priest, Pastor in Masarrochos (Spain); born 20 April 1867, died 22 November 1932;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Mario Ciceri, diocesan Priest; born 8 September 1900, died 4 April 1945;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Mary Joseph Aubert (née Suzanne Aubert), Foundress of the Daughters of Our Lady of Compassion; born 19 June 1835, died 1 October 1926;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God, Luce Rodríguez-Casanova y García San Miguel, Foundress of the Congregation of the Apostolic Ladies of the Sacred Heart; born 28 August 1873, died 8 January 1949;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God Catherine Aurelia of the Precious Blood (Aurelia Caouette), Foundress of the Sisters Adorers of the Most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ of the Union of Saint-Hyacinthe; born 11 July 1833, died 6 July 1905;
  • The heroic virtue of the Servant of God, Leonia Maria Nastał, professed Sister of the Congregation of the Little Servant Sisters of the Blessed Virgin Mary Immaculate; born 8 November 1903, died 10 January 1940.
20 hours 18 min

US Secretary of State John Kerry was among those received in audience today by Pope Francis.

The secretary of state is Catholic.

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[Photos by L’Osservatore Romano]
20 hours 33 min

Here is a Vatican Radio-provided English translation of the message Pope Francis sent to the Piarist Fathers for the 400th anniversary of their foundation.

To The Very Reverend Father PEDRO AGUADO CUESTA
General Superior of the Piarist Fathers

With great joy I address you and all the Piarist brothers on the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the birth of the Pious Schools as a Religious Congregation and of the 250th anniversary of the canonization of St. Joseph Calasanz. On this happy occasion I also want to be present not only to celebrate the extraordinary history that you have written from the times of the Founder until today, but also to encourage you to continue it with enthusiasm, dedication and hope “for the glory of God and the usefulness of our neighbor” with the assurance that, although the circumstances in which the Order was born are not those of today, the needs it responds to remain essentially the same: children and young people need the distribution of the bread of piety and letters, the poor continue to call us and summon us, the society demands to be transformed according to the values of the Gospel, and the preaching of Jesus must be brought to all peoples and all nations.

Pope Paul V, 400 years ago, realized that it was the Holy Spirit who led Joseph of Calasanz to dedicate himself to the education of the children who at that time wandered in the streets of Rome, and for that reason he erected the “Pauline Congregation of the Poor of the Mother God of the Pious Schools” with the bull Ad ea per quae, as the first Congregation in the Church dedicated exclusively to the education of children and young people, especially the poorest. In the last century, Pius XII recognized the importance of his Founder, proclaiming him, on the occasion of the third centenary of his death and the second of his beatification, Heavenly Patron of all Christian public schools (Cf. Brief Providentissimus Deus: AAS 1948, 11, 454-455).

In these four centuries the Pious Schools have remained in a permanent attitude of openness to reality and of “going forth”: from Rome to the small Italian towns where their educational service was urgently requested; From Italy to European countries, where the Church wanted to solidly educate children in the Catholic faith; and later to other continents, to serve the Church and the world in the field of education. They have always exercised their ministry in school, but have been able to incarnate their charisma also in several other areas. And, at the same time, they have been able to respond to the requests of the Church, assuming pastoral services wherever necessary. Finally, in response to the wishes of Vatican II, which called for a more active participation of the laity in the life of the Church, they have opened the way for the Piarist Fraternities, inviting men and women of good will to share their charism and their mission, fostering a rich variety of vocations.

Since Calasanz began his educational activities, in 1597, until the Church erected the Congregation, twenty years passed, twenty intense years in which his identity was being shaped. On the anniversary we celebrate and you will live as Calasanctian Jubilee Year, I hope you will remember what you are and what you are called to be. I ask the Lord to grant you to live those dispositions that made your Founder a saint. In this way, the Pious Schools will be what San Calasanz wanted and what children and young people need.

I invite you to live this Jubilee Year as a new “Pentecost of the Piarists”. May the common house of the Pious Schools be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that the communion necessary to carry forward the mission of the Piarists in the world, surpassing the fears and barriers of all kinds, will be created. That your people, communities and works can radiate in all languages, places and cultures the liberating and saving force of the Gospel. May the Lord help you to always have a missionary spirit and readiness to get on the road.

The motto you have chosen for this Jubilee Year – To educate, Announce, To transform – guides and gives you directions. Remain open and attentive to the promptings of the Spirit. Above all, follow the traces that children and young people carry written in their eyes. Look at their faces and let them contaminate you by their brightness to be bearers of future and hope. May God grant you to be prophetically present in the corners where children suffer unjustly.

Today more than ever we need an evangelizing pedagogy capable of changing the heart and reality in harmony with the Kingdom of God, making people protagonists and participants in the process. Christian education, especially among the poorest and where the Good News has little place or touches life marginally, is a privileged means to achieve this goal. In an educational charisma such as yours, enormous potentialities are perceived, many of which are yet to be discovered. Education opens the possibility of understanding and welcoming the presence of God in the heart of every human being, from the earliest childhood, making use of human (“letters”) and divine (“piety”) knowledge. Only the coherence of a life based on this love will make you fruitful and fill you with children.

I want to remember the strong words with which your founder described the ministry to which he dedicated his life: “Very dignified, very noble, very praiseworthy, very beneficial, very useful, very necessary, deeply rooted in our nature, very appreciated, very pleasant and very glorious” (Memorial to Cardinal Tonti). These words are still valid! In fact, today there are millions of children without access to education, excluded in big cities, limited in their aspirations and plans for the future due to human selfishness and greed; thousands of children away from their homes and their schools due to wars, and requiring special educational attention. And all school children are continually in need of true teachers, to help them grow from deep roots, to show them Christ and to accompany them on the journey of life.

I do not want to stop saying one thing that I feel with particular force when I think about consecrated life. Being part of a religious family for Saint Joseph Calasanz meant choosing a path of continuous and marked abasement. Being Piarist is being, by definition, a person in a low state, a small one that can be identified with the small, a poor with the poor. The history of our salvation is the story of a supreme abasement: the divine becomes human, the celestial becomes terrestrial, the eternal becomes temporary, the absolute becomes fragile, the wisdom of God becomes madness and his strength becomes weakness; because Life, the true Life, is humbled to death, and death on the cross. To follow Jesus is to follow his abasement, to come, as He, to the bottom of humanity, of our weakness, and there to become a servant, as the One who did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for all Cf. Mt 20, 28).

St. Joseph of Calasanz said: “The shortest and easiest way to be exalted to self-knowledge and from this to the attributes of mercy, prudence and infinite patience of God, is to descend to give light to children and particularly to those who are the most helpless, because being this a trade so low and vile in the eyes of the world, few want to humiliate to it. (Epistolary, 1236). Your Founder discovered that the true path of self-knowledge and the exercise of the highest virtues was the abasement in front of children, especially to the most abandoned, to bring them to light. In the same way that the Lord wanted to put true happiness and joy in the baseness of the cross, you, as consecrated persons, should find your fullness and joy in the daily abasement among children and young people, especially the poorest and needy. You have not been founded for another greatness than that of smallness, or to any other summit than that of the abasement, which dresses you with the feelings of Christ and leads you to be cooperators of the Divine Truth and to become children with children and poor with the poor (cf. Constitutions, 19).

I entrust all of you, the Order, the Calasanctian Family and the Piarist Fraternities to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose name the Order of the Pious Schools bears. Mary, who was the first teacher of Jesus, is your model and protection to continue carrying out your mission, accompanying the little ones towards the Kingdom of God.

With these sentiments, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to all of you.

From the Vatican, November 27, 2016

21 hours 39 min

Uruguay’s President Tabaré Ramón Vázquez Rosas visited Pope Francis today in a private audience, going on to meet with the Pope’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

A communiqué from the Vatican press office reported that their cordial discussions noted the historical ties between the Holy See and Uruguay, and their “common interests for the integral development of the human person, respect for human rights, and social peace.”

They spoke of the “role and positive contribution made by Catholic institutions to the society of Uruguay, especially in the areas of human promotion, formation, and aid to those most in need.”

They also discussed the national and regional situation, with special emphasis on democratic institutions and the social and humanitarian situation on the continent.

 

21 hours 47 min

The Philippines is the only country in Asia where Christians—in this case Catholics—form the overwhelming majority of the country.

More than one-third of the population of some 100 million is under age 15; another 10 million Filipinos are living abroad.

Reinhard Backes, who oversees projects in the country for international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), just returned from a fact-finding mission to the Philippines.

Q: What is the main focus of the Church in the Philippines?

Backes: The Church is concerned about both the general and religious education of the faithful. The people are deeply religious, but poorly educated. To give one example, I attended a wedding on the island of Luzon. Ten couples were married at the same time, and all of them brought their children with them. There were quite a few of them. It was explained to me that many couples live together before marriage and only marry later, partly because they do not have the money—but also owing to a lack of understanding of the faith.

Q: What impressed you most on this trip?

Backes: The work of the Silsilah dialogue movement on Mindanao, where the fighting over the past four decades between government forces and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNFL) has cost the lives of around 120,000 people. ACN has long been supporting this initiative by Father Sebastiano D’Ambra, and Italian priest from Sicily, and Minda Sano, a Filipina woman who herself comes from Mindanao. “Silsilah“ is Arabic for chain, link or connection; the movement has been working for 40 years to promote dialogue between the various religious and ethnic groups, to educate teachers, strive for social justice, help refugees and establish schools, among other vital initiatives.

Roughly 60%  of the population of Mindanao is Christian, with Muslims account for the other 40%. However, on other islands, Muslims are in the majority, for example on Basilan. In some of those areas the extremist group “Abu Sayyaf“ (or Sword Fighters)  is active, launching attacks and abducting people for ransom money. In the past there have been repeated assassinations of priests, religious and ordinary faithful. However, the Silsilah movement has never allowed itself to be intimidated by the violence. Again and again its representatives encourage Muslims and Christians to come together and talk, building up trust and caring for the suffering victims on both sides.

Q: What are the local Church’s biggest needs at present?

Backes: An estimated 10,000 people died as the result of typhoon Yolanda on the island of Leyte in 2013. There was widespread devastation; many churches were destroyed, as well as the seminary in the Archdiocese of Palo. This was a one-story building not far from the coast, which was totally devastated. ACN has already helped the archdiocese to rebuild 10 churches. Now Archbishop John Forrosuelo Du has asked us to help for the rebuilding of the seminary as well. The work has already begun in fact, and the first seminarians are already living in the half finished complex. They are now building a massive multi-story building that will hopefully be able to withstand future natural disasters.

 

Aid to the Church in Need is an international Catholic charity under the guidance of the Holy See, providing assistance to the suffering and persecuted Church in more than 140 countries. www.churchinneed.org (USA); www.acnuk.org (UK); www.aidtochurch.org (AUS); www.acnireland.org (IRL); www.acn-aed-ca.org (CAN) www.acnmalta.org (Malta)

21 hours 54 min

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, welcomed Pope Francis’ November 20 apostolic letter “Misericordia et Misera. . . ” (“Mercy and Misery”). In his letter, Pope Francis extended the Year of Mercy provision granting priests worldwide a faculty related to the sin of abortion: “Lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion.”

Cardinal Dolan responded with gratitude in the following statement:

I express heartfelt appreciation for the Holy Father’s continued proclamation of God’s mercy worldwide, clearing the path to reconciliation and healing for all who have been involved in abortion.

Pope Francis wrote: “I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father” (Misericordia et Misera,. . . 12).

The Holy Father reminds us that God, the Father of Mercies, welcomes all those who are repentant, seeking mercy and peace after involvement in abortion — and that an experience of God’s great mercy gives rise to joy.

For many years in the United States, most bishops have granted their priests this faculty. In addition to sacramental confession, the Church offers confidential and compassionate help through diocesan Project Rachel ministries.

Since 1984, dedicated ministries throughout the nation have accompanied those seeking forgiveness, healing, and peace after losing a child to abortion. Wherever a person might be in their healing journey, Project Rachel offers free, confidential help.

To find the nearest diocesan healing ministry, go to the ‘Find Help’ map at www.hopeafterabortion.org or www.esperanzaposaborto.org.

23 hours 6 min

This article is reprinted from the Bioethics Observatory of the Catholic University of Valencia.

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Human adult stem cells (iPS) have been found to be the most clinically useful human cells for therapeutic purposes

Pluripotent cells (PCs) are defined as those from which cells of different tissue types can be obtained. These can be obtained either from preimplantation human embryonic cells, in which case pluripotent embryonic stem cells are obtained, or from somatic (adult) cells that can be reprogrammed to a state of pluripotentiality, called induced pluripotent cells (iPS cells).

Ad present stem cell treatments with human adult stem cells have been found to be most clinically useful human cells for therapeutic purposes, especially cells from bone marrow, peripheral blood, umbilical cord blood or other tissues. Mesenchymal cells obtained from bone marrow, placenta and the umbilical cord are particularly useful. These cells have the advantage of having low immunogenicity and the disadvantage that after being transplanted, they persist for very little time in the recipient, which poses problems for maintaining their effect over time. These cells can be obtained from the patients themselves or from external donors, which gives rise to autologous therapy (which uses cells from the patient themselves) or allogenic therapy (which uses cells from individuals other than the patient). Their use has so far given good results as regards their safety, which has been evaluated in very diverse clinical trials. However, pluripotent cells, both embryonic and iPS cells, have limited clinical applications as they have been used in little more than ocular diseases. Therefore, it is of no interest to analyse this clinical usefulness at present, following a magnificent review recently published in Nature Reviews/Molecular Cell Biology (17; 194-200, 2016).

Spinal cord injuries

Spinal cord injuries, most often traumatic, cause paraplegia in patients who suffer them, hence the importance of being able to treat them.

Studies to date have always been in the experimental area, with rats and mice, in which recovery of feet and tail movements has been confirmed in the injured animals. However, these data, well documented in rodents, have not been proven in humans, with the exception of a patient whose spinal cord was severely damaged with a knife. Two companies — Geron and Asteria — hope to commence clinical trials in humans.

Neurodegenerative diseases

  1. Huntington’s disease. Essentially characterised by loss of the sheath that protects the neurons. To date, nerve cells with their accompanying sheath have been produced from iPS cells, but much larger studies are required to test their therapeutic efficacy.
  2. Parkinson’s disease. As we know, this disease is due to a reduction in the proportion of dopamine-producing neurons, i.e. dopaminergic neurons. Although positive results have been obtained in rodents, in which the clinical symptoms of Parkinson’s were reduced, their clinical effect is not as evident in humans. A phase 1 clinical trial has been approved in Australia using human embryonic pluripotent cells fron embryos obtained by parthenogenesis. Some clinical experiments have also been carried out in mice and monkeys to check whether there is any clinical improvement in these animals. However, some technical aspects, particularly the purity of the transplanted material, must be improved before they can be used in humans.
  3. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ALS is a fatal disease characterised by progressive loss of neurocellular activity, leading to gradual loss of motor neurons. We know that motor neurones are maintained functionally active by another type of neurons, the astrocytes, so the use of the latter in phase 1 and 2 clinical trials could be interesting for the treatment of ALS. However, since the mechanisms of this disease are not well known, studies have so far failed to achieve steady recovery of damaged motor neurons. (Read last advace HERE)

Eye diseases

The area of ocular disease is the medical field where the most positive steps have been taken for the use of iPS cells (read more HERE), especially in age-related macular degeneration and Stargardt’s disease. Age-related macular degeneration is the most common cause of blindness in the over-60s. This disease leads to progressive loss of epithelium from the retina, affecting its photoreceptors and thus producing blindness.

To date, only preclinical studies in animals have been conducted, but a clinical trial was recently started in patients with age-related macular degeneration, using iPS cells derived from the patients’ own somatic cells. The first patient obtained encouraging results, in that there seemed to be no negative side effects and he obtained some improvement in his visual deficit. However, alterations were found in the genome of the second patient, derived from the reprogramming process, which led to the trial being halted by the Japanese health authorities. Therefore as far as we are aware, there are no ongoing human clinical trials at present.

Diabetes

Although there are positive preclinical studies for treating diabetes in animals with iPS cells, in the clinical area there is only one phase 1 and 2 ongoing multicentre clinical trial sponsored by the company ViaCyte. The procedure involves using a subcutaneous encapsulation medical device to treat patients with type 1 diabetes (last advance read HERE)

Heart disease

Recent studies have shown that heart cells derived from human embryonic stem cells can improve deteriorated cardiac function in animal models, but in the human setting we are aware of only one patient in which heart cells derived from human embryonic stem cells were implanted the infarcted area in parallel with a by-pass procedure. Although no adverse effects were recorded, and cardiac function appears to have improved at three months, the possibility of obtaining positive clinical results remains distant (read an example of the possible use of iPS cells HERE).

Future outlook

According to most experts, although clinical trials using cells obtained from embryonic stem cells or iPS cells have been proposed and are ongoing, it is generally agreed that it will still be a few years before these cells are really useful for human medicine.

1 day 4 hours

 

Roman Rite

Is 11.1 to 10; Ps 72; Rm 15.4 to 9; Mt 3,1-12

Ambrosian Rite

Is 40,1-11; Ps 71; B 10,5-9a; Mt 21, 1-9

Fourth Sunday of Advent

The entrance of the Messiah

1) The waiting for God and conversion.

On this second Sunday of Advent, the liturgy invites us to the conversion necessary to accommodate the coming Kingdom of heaven[1]: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Mt 3,1). This Kingdom of heaven is Jesus himself, our neighbor is the Son of God made flesh in the womb of a woman who brings salvation to all mankind. The salvation, brought by Christ and expected by us, is righteousness, joy, peace, love, truth, kindness, solidarity, fraternity, honest, and kindness.

Since the coming of God in our lives is imminent, John the Baptist strongly asks us to do penance. Penance cleans the heart, opens us to hope and enables us to encounter Jesus coming into the world.

However, it is important to consider that the call to conversion doing penance, is not just to live – during Advent – with a more sober style of life, more frequent prayer and more generous charity. Converting calls to an inner change, which begins with the recognition and the confession of sins. In fact, conversion indicates change of mind and behavior and demands the recognition that we are not worthy of God coming to live at our house.

It should also be kept in mind that the first conversion consists in faith[2], which is not only adherence to the content of a message, but adherence to a person who asks us to come into our lives and be accepted. Therefore, conversion is a radical and profound change. It implies not only a moral, but a theological change, that is a new way of thinking about God and to live in Him. It is a reorientation of our whole being: mind and heart, thought and action.

On the one hand, this orientation toward the Kingdom of Heaven is in line with the prophets, who intended the concreteness of conversion as the radical departure from anything that, up to this moment, was important. On the other hand, it goes further and shows that conversion is a turn towards the Kingdom of Heaven and to a novelty forthcoming with its needs and perspectives. It is about giving a decisive turn to life, orienting it in a new direction. It is the Kingdom of heaven that establishes and defines conversion, and not a series of human efforts.

  For this conversion to occur, let’s make our own the prayer that the priest does at the beginning of today’s Mass: “God of the living, awakens in us the desire for conversion, so that, renewed by your Holy Spirit, we implement in every human relationship the justice, meekness and peace that the incarnation of your Word has made sprout out on the earth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ our Lord (Collect of the Second Sunday of Advent – Year A).” Then the wish of St. Paul will become true: “May the God of peace himself make you perfectly holy and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The one who calls you is faithful, and he will also accomplish it. “(1 Thessalonians 5: 23-24)

2) Conversion from the top and conversion to the top of the stars.

This Sunday we are called to go spiritually in the desert, because the Gospel makes us listen to the “Voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight! And he, John, wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey “(Mt 3: 3-4). St. John the Baptist, the voice proclaiming the Word, is presented as an ascetic of the desert who wears rough robes, has a leather belt around his waist and feeds on insects. If we are not asked to be ascetic and to live John’s life in the desert, we are asked that our conversion be as evangelical as his.

This conversion has at least three characteristics.

The first is radicalism. Conversion is not an exterior or partial change, but a total reorientation of the whole being. It is a real shift from selfishness to love, from keeping everything to self to the gift of self.

The second feature is religiosity. It is not confronting with himself, but referring to God that man discovers the extent and the direction of his own change. The first conversion (in the etymological sense of turning to someone to be with him) is not that of a person towards God, but that of God towards every human being. It is a movement of grace that makes possible the change of man and provides the model for this change. In the night and in the solitude of a cave, the spring of humanity is coming: the Son of God who becomes a pilgrim from the stars above.

The third characteristic of the evangelical conversion is its profound humanity. Conversion means the return home, the recovery of full humanity and the finding of the identity of being a child, as in the parable of the prodigal son.

When on reasons in non-evangelical way, conversion is seen as a loss of what is human: In a wrong way, the people think: “if I do not convert to Crist, I find my humanity”. On the contrary, in fact, with the Cristian conversion, man is not lost, but finds himself, becoming free from the alienations that fascinate but destroy him.

Conversion is a constant journey to Christ to renew our “heavenly behavior” through a new desire for heaven. Let us therefore make different (changed) our hearts with the holy desire of Christ. In this way heaven (Christ) will find in us more space.

If we want life to grow, flourish and reach maturity so to pierce, one day, the veils of transience, the most important thing is that it must put more and deeper roots. If we want the fullness of God to fill us with grace, it is critical that our heart widens more and more to hold more and more.

Christian conduct, therefore fully human, becomes more perfect when it flows from a stronger desire for heaven: “Come, Lord, to visit us in peace, so that there we rejoice in You with a perfect heart” (see Antiphon to the Magnificat, first Vespers of Second Sunday of Advent).

This request: “Come, Lord Jesus” must be made by all Christians. The consecrated virgins, through their total gift of self to Christ, give an example beautiful, great and generous. They are aware that the bridegroom seeks his beloved and that they vigil waiting for him. They make theirs that passage of the Song of Songs: “A voice! My beloved! Here it comes, springing upon the mountains, leaping across the hills. My lover is like a gazelle or a young stag. See! He is standing behind our wall; gazing through the windows, peering through the lattices .”(2,8-9). I was sleeping, but my heart was awake. The sound of my lover knocking! “Open to me, my sister, my friend,my dove, my perfect one! (5.2). “I am my beloved and my beloved belongs to me” (6.3).

With their consecration, these virgin women show how it is possible and a source of joy to welcome Christ a sweetly expected guest and as the groom to whom to devote loyalty forever. They show us with humility that it is possible to always keep the lamps lit, waiting with love the coming of the Savior.

Starting from their example, I wish that, not only in this Advent season, all try to always be attentive to the voice of Christ and to love him above all things.

Patristic Reading

Saint John Chrysostom ( 344/354407)

Homily X. Matthew Chapter 3, Verse 1 And Matthew Chapter 3, Verse 2

Mt 3,1-7

“In those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

How “in those days”? For not then, surely, when He was a child, and came to Nazareth, but thirty years after, John cometh; as Luke also testifies. How then is it said, “in those days”? The Scripture is always wont to use this manner of speech, not only when it is mentioning what occurs in the time immediately after, but also of things which are to come to pass many years later. Thus also, for example, when His disciples came unto Him as He sat on the Mount of Olives, and sought to learn about His coming, and the taking of Jerusalem:1 and yet ye know how great is the interval between those several periods. I mean, that having spoken of the subversion of the mother city, and completed His discourse on that subject, and being about to pass to that on the consummation, he inserted, “Then shall these things also come to pass;”2 not bringing together the times by the word then, but indicating that time only in which these things were to happen. And this sort of thing he doth now also, saying, “In those days.” For this is not put to signify the days that come immediately after, but those in which these things were to take place, which he was preparing to relate.

“But why was it after thirty years,” it may be said, “that Jesus came unto His baptism”? After this baptism He was thenceforth to do away with the law: wherefore even until this age, which admits of all sins, He continues fulfilling it all; that no one might say, that because He Himself could not fulfill it, He did it away. For neither do all passions assail us at all times; but while in the first age of life there is much thoughtlessness and timidity, in that which comes after it, pleasure is more vehement, and after this again the desire of wealth. For this cause he awaits the fullness of His adult age, and throughout it all fulfills the law, and so comes to His baptism, adding it as something which follows upon the complete keeping of all the other commandments.

To prove that this was to Him the last good work of those enjoined by the law, hear His own words: “For thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness.”3 Now what He saith is like this: “We have performed all the duties of the law, we have not transgressed so much as one commandment. Since therefore this only remains, this too must be added, and so shall we “fulfill all righteousness.” For He here calls by the name of “righteousness” the full performance of all the commandments.

  1. Now that on this account Christ came to His baptism, is from this evident. But wherefore was this baptism devised for Him For that not of himself did the son of Zacharias proceed to this, but of God who moved him,—this Luke also declares, when he saith, “The word of the Lord came unto him,”4 that is, His commandment. And he himself too saith, “He that sent me to baptize with water, the same said to me, upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending like a dove, and remaining on Him, the same is He which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.”5 Wherefore then was he sent to baptize? The Baptist again makes this also plain to us, saying, “I knew Him not, but that He should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.”6

And if this was the only cause, how saith Luke, that “he came into the county about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins?”7 And yet it had not remission, but this gift pertained unto the baptism that was given afterwards; for in this “we are buried with Him,”8 and our old man was then crucified with Him, and before the cross there doth not appear remission anywhere; for everywhere this is imputed to His blood. And Paul too saith, “But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified,” not by the baptism of John, but “in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by the Spirit of our God.”9 And elsewhere too he saith, “John verily preached a baptism of repentance,” (he saith not “of remission,”) “that they should believe on Him that should come after him.”10 For when the sacrifice was not yet offered, nether had the spirit yet come down, nor sin was put away, nor the enmity removed, nor the curse destroyed; how was remission to take place?

What means then, “for the remission of sins?”

The Jews were senseless, and had never any feeling of their own sins, but while they were justly accountable for the worst evils, they were justifying themselves in every respect; and this more than anything caused their destruction, and led them away from the faith. This, for example, Paul himself was laying to their charge, when he said, that “they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about11 to establish their own, had not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”12 And again: “What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained13 to righteousness; but Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained14 unto the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by works.”15

Since therefore this was the cause of their evils, John cometh, doing nothing else but bringing them to a sense of their own sins. This, among other things, his very garb declared, being that of repentance and confession. This was indicated also by what he preached, for nothing else did he say, but “bring forth fruits meet for repentance.”16 Forasmuch then as their not condemning their own sins, as Paul also hath explained, made them start off from Christ, while their coming to a sense thereof would set them upon longing to seek after their Redeemer, and to desire remission; this John came to bring about, and to persuade them to repent, not in order that they might be punished, but that having become by repentance more humble, and condemning themselves, they might hasten to receive remission.

But let us see how exactly he hath expressed it; how, having said, that he “came preaching the baptism of repentance in the wilderness of Judaea,” he adds, “for remission,”as though he said, For this end he exhorted them to confess and repent of their sins; not that they should be punished, but that they might more easily receive the subsequent remission. For had they not condemned themselves, they could not have sought after His grace; and not seeking, they could not have obtained remission.

Thus that baptism led the way for this; wherefor also he said, that “they should believe on Him which should come after him;”17 together with that which hath been mentioned setting forth this other cause of His baptism. For neither would it have been as much for him to have gone about to their houses, and to have led Christ around, taking Him by the hand, and to have said, “Believe in This Man;” as for that blessed voice to be uttered, and all those other things performed in the presence and sight of all.

On account of this He cometh to the baptism. Since in fact both the credit of him that was baptizing, and the purport of the thing itself,18 was attracting the whole city, and calling it unto Jordan; and it became a great spectacle.19

Therefore he humbles them also when they are come, and persuades them to have no high fancies about themselves; showing them liable to the utmost evils, unless they would repent, and leaving their forefathers, and all vaunting in them, would receive Him that was coming.

Because in fact the things concerning Christ had been up to that time veiled, and many thought He was dead, owing to the massacre which took place at Bethlehem. For though at twelve years old He discovered Himself, yet did He also quickly veil Himself again. And for this cause there was need of that splendid exordium and of a loftier beginning. Wherefore also then for the first time he with clear voice proclaims things which the Jews had never heard, neither from prophets, nor from any besides; making mention of Heaven, and of the kingdom there, and no longer saying anything touching the earth.

But by the kingdom in this place he means His former and His last advent.

  1. “But what is this to the Jews?” one may say, “for they know not even what thou sayest.” “Why, for this cause,” saith he, “do I so speak, in order that being roused by the obscurity of my words, they may proceed to seek Him, whom I preach.” In point of fact, he so excited them with good hopes when they came near, that even many publicans and soldiers inquired whet they should do, and how they should direct their own life; which was a sign of being thenceforth set free from all worldly things, and of looking to other greater objects, and of forebodings things to come. Yea, for all, both the sights and the words of that time, led them unto lofty thoughts.

Conceive, for example, how great a thing it was to see a man after thirty years coming down from the wilderness, being the son of a chief priest, who had never known the common wants of men, and was on every account venerable, and had Isaiah with him. For he too was present proclaiming him, and saying, “This is he who I said should come crying, and preaching throughout the whole wilderness with a clear voice.” For so great was the earnestness of the prophets touching these things, that not their own Lord only, but him also who was to minister unto Him, they proclaimed a long time beforehand, and they not only mentioned him, but the place too in which he was to abide, and the manner of the doctrine which he had to teach when he came, and the good effect that was produced by him.

 

[1] “Kingdom of Heaven” is an expression typical of Saint Matthew who uses it 33 times in his Gospel. It is a Jewish way of saying that out of respect, substitutes “heaven” for God. The expression “Kingdom of Heaven’ indicates that God will reveal himself to all and with great power: the power of the Love that donates and doesn’t control.

[2]  Saint Thomas of Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I-IIae,q.113,a.4

1 day 4 hours

Young people who have been given the great opportunity to study must feel a responsibility to put their blessings to work and try to create a more fraternal world, says Pope Francis.

He said this today when he received participants in the Fourth World Congress for the Pastoral Care of International Students, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples. The five-day conference concludes tomorrow in Rome. Attended by students from 36 countries, the theme of the event is “Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium and moral challenges in the world of international students, with a view to a healthier society.”

“In our time, the moral challenges to be faced are many, and it is not always easy to fight for the affirmation of the truth and values, especially when young,” he admitted. “But with God’s help, and with the sincere wish to do good, every obstacle can be overcome.”

The Pope said that the “modern concept of the intellectual, engaged in the realisation of the self and in search of personal recognition, often without considering his or her neighbour” has to be countered with a more “fraternal model,” of someone “working for the common good and for peace.”

“Those who have the gift of being able to study also have a responsibility of service for the good of humanity, and being students in a country different from your own, in another cultural context … allows you to look at the world from a different perspective and to open up without fear to the other and that which is different. This causes students, and those who host them, to become more tolerant and hospitable. … It is important that the period spent abroad become an opportunity for the human and cultural growth of students, and that it be for them a starting point for returning in their country of origin to give their qualified contribution and also a further impulse to transmit the joy of the Good News.”

He also called for educational systems that “teach critical thought and to offer a path toward maturity in values. In this way, young people are formed to thirst for truth and not power, ready to defend values and to live with mercy and charity, the fundamental pillars for a healthier society.”

The Pope noted how exchange student programs are not new, but how globalization has made them more common.

But, he warned, “here too we witness negative aspects, such as the emergence of certain closed attitudes, defence mechanisms when faced with diversity … that prevent us from looking our brothers and sisters in the eye and discerning their real needs. Even among the young – and this is very sad – the ‘globalisation of indifference’ can creep in, making them incapable of feeling compassion for other people’s pain. In this way, these effects can have repercussions on people and on communities.”

“Instead, dear friends, let us hope that your way of living globalisation can produce positive outcomes and activate great potential,” he invited the students. “Indeed, you students, passing time far from your country, in different families and contexts, can develop a significant capacity for adaptation, learning to care for others as brothers and for creation as our common home, and this is decisive in making the world more human. … St. John Paul II liked to call you “sentinels of the morning”. I encourage you to be this way every day, with your gaze turned to Christ and to history. In this way you will be able to proclaim the salvation of Jesus and carry His light in a world too often darkened by the shadows of indifference, selfishness and war.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full translation: https://zenit.org/articles/popes-address-to-conference-on-ministry-to-international-students/

1 day 19 hours

A Day of Prayer with a focus on the plight of refugees and migrants will take place across the United States on December 12, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It will be a time to place before a merciful God the hopes, fears, and needs of all those families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

“As Christmas approaches and especially on this feast of Our Lady, we are reminded of how our savior Jesus Christ was not born in the comfort of his own home, but rather in an unfamiliar manger,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “To all those families separated and far from home in uncertain times, we join with you in a prayer for comfort and joy this Advent season,” Cardinal DiNardo added.

Prayer services and special Masses will be held in many dioceses across the country as the Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking an opportunity to provide for their families. If you are unable to attend or there is not one near you, Catholics are invited to offer prayers wherever they may be. For example, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ office of Migrant and Refugee Services (MRS) has also developed a Scriptural Rosary entitled “Unity in Diversity” that includes prayers for migrants and refugees at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/Scriptural-Rosary-Eng.pdf.  

“So many families are wondering how changes to immigration policy might impact them,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the USCCB. “We want them to know the Church is with them, offers prayers on their behalf, and is actively monitoring developments at the diocesan, state, and national levels to be an effective advocate on their behalf.”

In the coming days, the USCCB will be developing additional pastoral resources, reflecting the active collaboration of various USCCB Committees whose mandates touch on the concerns of migrants and refugees. These efforts will continue to follow the basic principles contained in Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, the 2003 pastoral letter issued jointly by the bishops of the United States and Mexico.

A pamphlet introducing and summarizing this document is available in both English (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/strangers-no-longer-together-on-the-journey-of-hope.cfm) and Spanish (http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/immigration/juntos-en-el-camino-de-la-esperanjuntos-en-el-camino.cfm/).

1 day 19 hours
[Adapted from Vatican Radio]

Finding inspiration in the opening prayer of the day “May Your grace conquer the obstacles caused by our sins,” Pope Francis said each of us have obstacles in our hearts which resist God’s grace.

He warned in particular against various types of obstacles [It. resistenze]:

The ones  he called  ‘open obstacles’  that are born of good faith – like in Saul’s case when he resisted grace but was ‘convinced he was doing God’s will’ before he was converted by Jesus.

“Open obstacles are healthy” – the Pope said – “in the sense that they are open to the grace of conversion”.

The most ‘dangerous’ obstacles according to Francis are the hidden ones because they do not show themselves. Each of us, he said, have our own way of resisting grace but we must recognize it and allow the Lord to purify us. It’s the type of obstacle that Stephen accused the Doctors of Law of concealing whilst they wanted to appear as though they were in search of the glory of God. An accusation – the Pope said – that cost Stephen his life: “We all have hidden obstacles; we must ask ourselves what is their nature. They always surface to stop a process of conversion. Always!”

But, the Pope said,  in these cases we must passively and silently allow the process of change to take place.

“Think of when there is a process of change in an institution or in a family. I hear you say: ‘But, there are obstacles… (…) Those kinds of obstacles are put there by the devil, to stop the Lord from going ahead.”

Francis then spoke of three types of hidden obstacles:

— the obstacle of ‘empty words’ which he illustrated with the example provided by the Gospel reading of the day which reads “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven;” and by the Parable of the two sons sent by their father to work in the vineyard: the first says ‘no’ and then goes ahead and does the work, while the other says ‘yes’ and then doesn’t go:

“Saying yes, yes, diplomatically; but then it is ‘no, no, no’. So many words” he said.

Saying yes – the Pope continued – so as not change anything is the ‘resistance of empty words.’

— the “obstacle of words that justify”: that’s when a person constantly justifies himself – he always finds a reason to oppose.

Too many excuses, the Pope said, do not exude the good “aroma of God”, but the “bad stink of the devil”.

He said a Christian has no need to justify himself: “He is justified by the Word of God”. This kind of resistance is a resistance of words which I use “to attempt to justify my position when I do not follow what the Lord is indicating”.

— the obstacle of “accusatory words”: when we accuse others so as not to look to ourselves. In this case too we are ‘resisting’ conversion and grace as illustrated by the Parable of the Pharisee and the publican.

Nevertheless, the Pope said, when we detect resistance to grace that’s a good sign, because it means the Lord is working in us. Resistance always tries to hide itself, so as to impede the Lord from bringing us forward. Because where the Lord is, there will “always be a cross.”

Thus, Francis said, we shouldn’t be afraid when we find these resistances lodged in our hearts, but rather to ask the Lord for help and to recognize that we are sinners. Resistance, he explained, is a fruit of the original sin that we all carry with us.

 

1 day 19 hours

(From Vatican Radio)

On November 23, in the small Italian village of Massafra, a funeral Mass was offered for a young Italian girl, 10-year-old Paolina, who had died of a terrible illness.

The Requiem Mass took place in the church of Saint Leopold Mandic, with many parishioners present, including the local mayor.

During the homily at the Mass, the pastor, Father Michele Quaranta read a letter sent to Paolina by Pope Francis. Paolina’s mother had written to the Holy Father to ask his blessing and his prayers for her daughter. Pope Francis had hoped to welcome the young girl to the Vatican to meet her in person, but Paolina was already too sick to make the voyage.

The full text of the Pope’s letter to Paolina can be read here:

Dearest Paolina,

Your photos are on my desk, because in your truly special gaze I see the light of goodness and of innocence. Thanks for sending them to me! Read this letter together with your and the kiss that I will give you now will be the kiss of the Pope. I join my hands to yours and to those of all those who are praying for you. And so we will make a long chain that, I’m sure, will reach to heaven. But remember that the first link in this chain is you, because you have Jesus in your heart! Remember that! So speak to Him, tell Him about yourself, but also talk about your mom and dad who have so much need of help and comfort in the face of the very difficult steps they are facing. You will certainly be a very good girl by suggesting to Jesus what to do for them! Remember, too, to tell Him what He should do for me, too, while I remember the things He ought to do for you. I give you a very, very big hug, and I bless you, together with your parents and your loved ones, with all my heart.

Francis

(from Vatican Radio)

1 day 20 hours

This year, Pope Francis began collaborating on video messages to illustrate his monthly prayer intentions, which are announced by the Apostleship of Prayer.

Today, the December video was released and is available here. It focuses on his prayer for an end to the use of child soldiers.

In the video, the Pope says:

In this world, which has developed the most sophisticated technologies, weapons are sold that end up in the hands of child soldiers.

We must do everything possible so that the dignity of children may be respected, and end this form of slavery.

Whoever you are, if you are moved as I am, I ask you to join in this prayer intention: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.

 

Videos for January-November can be viewed here: http://apostleshipofprayer.org/the-pope-video

 

 

1 day 21 hours

This month, Pope Francis is praying especially for an end to the use of child soldiers, and for the peoples of Europe.

The Apostleship of Prayer presented the Holy Father’s intentions for this last month of the year.

His universal prayer intention for December is: “That the scandal of child soldiers may be eliminated the world over.”

His intention for evangelisation is: “That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.”

2 days 11 min

Pope Francis today received in audience a delegation of faithful of the Apostolic Administration of the Caucasus, who came to the Vatican to thank the Pope for his visit to Georgia last September/October.

Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s greeting:

__

First of all thank you, thank you for this visit, which brings so many memories.

I never thought I would find in Georgia what I saw: culture, spirituality, a people that praises Jesus Christ as Savior, because they are a Christian people. It was a great joy for me.

Moreover, another thing that struck me very much, under the ecumenical profile, was the person of Patriarch Elias II: I simply perceived there a man of God. I know that there are so many problems, but I think the positive proposal of His Excellency [Monsignor Pasotto, Apostolic Administrator of the Caucasus] will go well; to find the way, without forcing it, to walk together, slowly.

And I remember also with great pleasure the meeting in the Cathedral … the questions of the laity … I saw the responsibility of the laity in your Church, and that is a great thing, it’s a great thing! Also the priests, the Religious, all … I remember well … And I thank you so much for this. Go forward! This work is like the leaven, to make the dough grow.

Thank you so much! And don’t forget to pray for me. And now I give you my blessing.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

2 days 6 hours

 

The 4th World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students — from 36 countries and five Continents — is underway in Rome from November 28 to December 2. The theme of the Congress, promoted and organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, is: “Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium and the Moral Challenges in the Intellectual World of International Students toward a Healthier Society.”

Here is a ZENIT translation of the address Pope Francis gave when he received the participants in audience this morning.

__

Lord Cardinals,

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Students,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of the 4th World Congress on the Pastoral Care of International Students, organized by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. I thank the Cardinal President for having introduced our meeting, and I express a warm greeting to the pastoral ministers and the University students present here.

The theme of your Congress is very interesting: it speaks of moral challenges in the world of international students, in view of a healthier society. This is the objective to keep always present: to build a healthier society. It is important that the new generations move in this direction, feel themselves responsible for the reality in which they live, and architects of the future.  Saint Paul’s words are a strong call and an inspired counsel also for today’s new generations, when he recommends that the young disciple Timothy give an example to the faithful in his words, in his behavior, in charity, in faith, in purity, without fear that someone might scorn his young age (cf. 1 Timothy 4:12).

The moral challenges to be addressed in our time are many and it’s not always easy to fight for the affirmation of the truth and of values, especially when one is young. However, with God’s help, and with the sincere will to do good, every obstacle can be overcome. I am happy because, if you are here, it is to demonstrate that the challenges do not make you fearful, but spur you to work to build a more human world. Never stop and don’t get discouraged, because Christ’s Spirit will guide you, if you listen to His voice.

It is necessary to oppose the modern concept of the intellectual, committed to his self-fulfilment and in search of personal recognition — often without taking his neighbor into account — with a more solidaristic model, which does its utmost for the common good and for peace. One who has the gift to be able to study also has the responsibility of service for the good of humanity. Learning is a privileged way for the integral development of society; to be students in a country other than one’s own, in another cultural horizon, enables one to learn new languages, new usages and customs. It enables one to look at the world with another perspective and to open oneself to the other and different one without fear . This leads students, and those who receive them, to become more tolerant and hospitable. By increasing the relational capacity, confidence grows in oneself and in others, horizons expand, the vision of the future is enlarged and the desire is born to build the common good together.

Schools and Universities are a privileged realm for the consolidation of sensitive consciences towards a more solidaristic development and to carry forward “a commitment of evangelization in an inter-disciplinary and integrated way” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium , 134). Therefore, I exhort you teachers and pastoral agents to infuse in young people love of the Gospel, the will to live it concretely and to proclaim it to others. It’s important that the time spent abroad becomes an occasion of human and cultural growth for the students and that it is for them a point of departure to return to their country of origin and to make their qualified contribution, also with the interior thrust to transmit the joy of the Good News. An education is necessary that teaches to think critically and that offers a course of maturation in values (cf. Ibid., 64). Thus young people are formed thirsty for truth and not for power, ready to defend values and to live mercy and charity, fundamental pillars for a healthier society.

Young people’s personal and cultural enrichment enables them to be more easily inserted in the world of work, ensuring for themselves a place in the community and becoming an integral part of it. For its part, society is called to offer the new generations valid occupational opportunities, avoiding the so-called  “brain drain.” That someone might choose freely to go to specialize himself and to work abroad, is something good and fecund; however, it is painful that prepared young people are induced to abandon their country because they lack adequate possibilities of insertion.

The phenomenon of international students isn’t new; however, it is being intensified due to so-called globalization, which has pulled down temporal borders and spaces, fostering encounter and exchange between cultures. But here also we witness negative implications, such as the rise of certain closures, defense mechanisms in face of diversity, interior walls that don’t enable one to look at a brother or sister in the eyes and to notice their real needs. Among young people also – and this is very sad — the “globalization of indifference” can insinuate itself, which renders us “incapable of feeling compassion in face of others’ cry of pain” (Ibid., 54). Thus it happens that these negative effects have repercussions on individuals and on communities. Instead, dear friends, we want to wager that your way of living globalization can produce positive successes and activate great potentialities. In fact, you students, spending time far from your country, in different families and contexts, can develop the notable capacity of adaptation, learning to be custodians of others as brothers, and of Creation as our common home, and this is decisive to render the world more human. Formative courses can accompany and orientate you, young students, in this direction, and they can do so with the freshness of current events and the audacity of the Gospel, to form new evangelizers ready to infect the world with the joy of Christ, to the ends of the earth.

Dear young people, Saint John Paul II liked to call you “watchmen of the morning.” I encourage you to be so every day, with your gaze turned to Christ and to history. Thus you will succeed in proclaiming Jesus’ salvation and to bring His light to a world too often darkened by the darkness of indifference, of egoism and of war. I entrust you all to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, our Mother. I bless you, your studies, your friendship and your missionary commitment. And you, please, don’t forget to pray for me.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

2 days 6 hours

Pope Francis today concluded his series of catecheses on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, which he began during the Jubilee year, focusing on the corporal work of burying the dead and the spiritual work of praying for the living and the deceased.

“Although the catecheses finish, mercy must continue,” the Pope exclaimed, offering the Lord thanks for the “consolation and comfort” of the graces of mercy.

Regarding burying the dead, the Pope said it might seem a “strange” work in our day, but that with the wars of our time, and the constant bombardment of certain regions, it is still sadly relevant. He spoke of the courage of Joseph of Arimathea in going to Pilate to request Jesus’ body, and offering Our Lord his own tomb.

Regarding prayer for the deceased, the Holy Father spoke of it as a “sign of gratitude for the testimony they left us and for the good they did.”

“It is to thank the Lord for having given them to us and for their love and their friendship,” he reflected.

The Pope spoke of the prayers for the dead in the liturgy, saying that we pray, “with Christian hope that [the deceased] may be with Him in Paradise, in the expectation of meeting one another again in that mystery of love, which we do not understand, but which we know is true because it is a promise Jesus made.”

As well, Francis continued, we need to pray for the living, all of us who “face every day the trials of life.”

“In fact, the Communion of Saints indicates that we are all immersed in the life of God and we live in His love. All, living and deceased, are in communion, that is, as a union; united in the community of all those who received Baptism, and of those who are nourished by the Body of Christ and are part of the great family of God. United, we are all the same family; therefore, we pray for one another.”

Blessing our children

The Bishop of Rome went on to note a few particular ways to pray for each other, mentioning the “mothers and fathers who bless their children in the morning and the evening. There is still this habit in some families: to bless a child is a prayer.”

He also spoke of praying for the sick when we go to visit them and the “silent intercession, sometimes with tears, of so many difficult situations for which to pray.” And of prayer of thanksgiving, “for good news concerning a friend, a relative, a colleague. […] This too is to pray for others! To thank the Lord when things go well.”

The Pope also recounted that at his residence, at the Casa Santa Marta, he had just yesterday received a visitor who told him about having to close his business due to insufficient finances, and how this person was concerned not so much for himself, but for leaving 50 families without work.

He was “a good Christian who prays with works: he came to Mass to pray that the Lord might give him a way out, not only for himself, but for the 50 families. This is a man who knows how to pray, with the heart and with the facts, he knows how to pray for his neighbor. He is in a difficult situation, and he does not look for the easiest way out […] It did me so much good to hear him!”

The Pope concluded saying that it is the Holy Spirit who prays in us.

“Therefore, let us open our hearts, so that the Holy Spirit, scrutinizing the desires that are deep inside us, is able to purify them and bring them to fulfilment. In any case, let us always ask for ourselves and for others that God’s Will be done, as in the Our Father, because His Will is certainly the greatest good, the goodness of a Father who never abandons us: to pray and to let the Holy Spirit pray in us. […]

“Concluding these catecheses on mercy, let us commit ourselves to pray for one another so that the works of corporal and spiritual mercy become increasingly our style of life. The catecheses, as I said at the beginning, finish here. We went through the 14 works of mercy, but mercy continues and we must exercise it in these 14 ways.”

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: https://zenit.org/articles/general-audience-on-burying-the-dead/

2 days 20 hours

(From Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis on Wednesday met the Italo-American movie director Martin Scorsese whose latest film “Silence” recounts the persecution of a group of Jesuit missionaries in 17th century Japan. Scorsese was accompanied at the audience in the Vatican by his wife, his two daughters, the producer of the “Silence” film and the Prefect of the Secretariat for Communications, Monsignor Dario Viganò.  A Vatican statement said the meeting was very cordial and lasted 15 minutes.

Pope Francis told those present that he had read the novel on which the film “Silence” was based, written by the late Japanese author Shusaku Endo.  Scorsese gave the Pope two paintings on the theme of “hidden Christians,” one of them a much-venerated image of the Madonna painted by a 17th century Japanese artist. Pope Francis gave his guests rosaries.

The audience in the Vatican came after a special screening of “Silence” in Rome on Tuesday night for more than 300 Jesuit priests. The movie is due to premiere in the United States this December.

Scorsese spoke to Vatican Radio’s Sean Patrick Lovett.

Scorsese said the making of his latest film “Silence” was a long-term project plagued by obstacles and interruptions due to ill health and other issues.  He described how the actual shooting of the film with many of the outdoor scenes filmed in remote mountainous terrain, often ankle-deep in mud, was physically very gruelling for him and all the others involved but he never wanted to abandon the project.

Asked about the film’s title and what silence meant for him, Scorsese explained that it had taken him a long time over the course of his life to learn to seek out and appreciate the value of silence.

He described how he grew up in the tenement slums of New York amidst a “cacophony” of sound from the streets and surrounding houses and the only silent place he could find then was in the old St. Patrick’s Cathedral of New York City, saying “I spent a lot of my time there.” Scorsese revealed that as part of his recent quest for more peace and quiet in his life, one of the rooms in his house has been specially sound-proofed.

The Oscar-winning director spoke about some of his earlier films which he said were full of noise and often very “frenetic” but pointed out that in this latest movie there is no music on the soundtrack and instead there are the background sounds of the landscape and the birds. He described it as a way of “finding out what silence sounds like.”

2 days 20 hours

At the end of today’s general audience, the Pope mentioned that Dec. 1 marks World AIDS Day, promoted by the United Nations.

“Millions of people live with this disease, and only half of them have access to live-saving treatment,” the Pope said. “I invite you to pray for them and for their loved ones, and to promote solidarity so that the poorest may also have access to adequate diagnosis and care. I appeal to all to act responsibly to avoid the further spread of this disease.”

The Holy Father also referred to an International Conference on the protection of heritage in conflict zones, organised by a joint initiative of France and the United Arab Emirates with the collaboration of UNESCO and to be held in Abu Dhabi from 2 to 3 December.

“A theme that is, unfortunately, dramatically relevant,” he observed. “In the conviction that the protection of cultural heritage constitutes an essential dimension of the defence of the human being, I hope that this event marks a new stage in the implementation of human rights.”

2 days 21 hours

Today, a Vatican delegation brought greetings and well wishes to the Orthodox Church on this feast of St. Andrew, the feast of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.

There is a traditional exchange of delegations for the respective feasts of the Patron Saints: 29 June in Rome for the celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul, and 30 November in Istanbul for the celebration of St. Andrew.

Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, led the delegation, accompanied by Bishop Brian Farrell and Msgr. Andrea Palmieri, respectively secretary and under-secretary of the dicastery.

In Istanbul they were joined by the apostolic nuncio in Turkey, Archbishop Paul F. Russell.

The Holy See delegation took part in the Divine Liturgy presided by His Holiness Bartholomew in the patriarchal church of St. George (Phanar), met with the Patriarch and conversed with the Synodal commission responsible for relations with the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Koch consigned to the Ecumenical Patriarch a handwritten message from Pope Francis at the end of the Divine Liturgy, and a gift.

Here is the text of the Pope’s message:

To His Holiness Bartholomaios
Archbishop of Constantinople
Ecumenical Patriarch

It gives me great joy, Your Holiness, to renew the tradition of sending a delegation to the solemn celebration of the feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, patron of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, in order to convey my best wishes to you, my beloved brother in Christ, as well as to the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and all the faithful gathered in remembrance of Saint Andrew. In this way, I am pleased to respond to your custom of sending a delegation of the Church of Constantinople for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul, patron saints of the Church of Rome.

The exchange of delegations between Rome and Constantinople on the occasion of the respective feast days honouring the brother apostles Peter and Andrew is a visible sign of the profound bonds that already unite us. So too, it is an expression of our yearning for ever deeper communion, until that day when, God willing, we may witness to our love for one another by sharing the same eucharistic table. In this journey towards the restoration of eucharistic communion between us, we are sustained by the intercession not only of our patron saints, but by the array of martyrs from every age, who “despite the tragedy of our divisions… have preserved an attachment to Christ and to the Father so radical and absolute as to lead even to the shedding of blood” (Saint Pope John PaulII, Ut unum sint, 83).

It is for Catholics a source of real encouragement that at the Great and Holy Council held last June in Crete, the strong commitment to re–establishing the unity of Christians was confirmed. Ever faithful to your own tradition, Your Holiness has always remained conscious of existing difficulties to unity and has never tired of supporting initiatives which foster encounter and dialogue. The history of relations between Christians, however, has sadly been marked by conflicts that have left a deep impression on the memory of the faithful. For this reason, some cling to attitudes of the past. We know that only prayer, common good works and dialogue can enable us to overcome division and grow closer to one another.

Thanks to the process of dialogue, over the last decades Catholics and Orthodox have begun to recognize one another as brothers and sisters and to value each other’s gifts, and together have proclaimed the Gospel, served humanity and the cause of peace, promoted the dignity of the human being and the inestimable value of the family, and cared for those most in need, as well as creation, our common home. The theological dialogue undertaken by the Joint International Commission has also made a significant contribution to mutual understanding. The recent document Synodality and Primacy in the First Millennium. Towards a Common Understanding in Service to the Unity of the Church is the fruit of a longstanding and intense study by members of the Joint International Commission, to whom I extend my heartfelt gratitude. Though many questions remain, this shared reflection on the relationship between synodality and primacy in the first millennium can offer a sure foundation for discerning ways in which primacy may be exercised in the Church when all Christians of East and West are finally reconciled.

I recall with great fondness our recent meeting in Assisi with other Christians and representatives of religious traditions gathered to offer a united appeal for peace throughout the world. Our gathering was a joyful opportunity to deepen our friendship, which finds expression in a shared vision regarding the great questions that affect the life of the Church and of all society.

Your Holiness, these are some of my deepest hopes that I have wanted to express in a spirit of genuine fraternity. In assuring you of my daily remembrance in prayer, I renew my best wishes for peace, health and abundant blessings upon you and all those entrusted to your care. With sentiments of brotherly affection and spiritual closeness, I exchange with Your Holiness an embrace of peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 30 November 2016

FRANCIS

2 days 21 hours

In his greetings to the faithful and pilgrims from different countries present at today’s general audience, the Pope gave a special address to Portuguese speakers: “I also wish to acknowledge the pain of the Brazilian people following the tragedy involving the soccer team, and to pray for the deceased players and their families. In Italy we understand well what this means as we recall the Superga air crash in 1949. They are harsh tragedies. Let us pray for them”.

The Holy Father referred to the death on 4 May 1949 of the entire Grande Torino team, when their aircraft crashed into the side of the Superga basilica in Turin, causing the death of all 31 people on board.

He was speaking about Monday’s plane crash in Colombia that took the lives of many players, coaches and invited guests from Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team. Only six people survived the crash; 71 were killed.

The Pope sent two telegrams to Brazil, expressing his sorrow at Monday’s crash, and assuring the victims of his prayers: https://zenit.org/articles/pope-mourns-victims-of-plane-crash-in-colombia/

St. Andrew

Among the Italians present, he greeted children affected by Batten disease, patients at Rome’s Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital, and the members of the Federation of institutes of educational activities, currently celebrating its 70th anniversary, whom he invited to “continue to support Catholic schools so as to safeguard parents’ freedom of choice in the education of their children”.

On the feast day of St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter, the Holy Father expressed his hope that the saint’s race to encounter the Lord would remind the young that “our life is a pilgrimage towards the House of the Father.”

“May his strength in facing martyrdom encourage you, dear sick people, when your suffering seems unbearable; and may his impassioned following of the Saviour lead you, dear newlyweds, to grasp the importance of love in your new family”.

“And on the feast day of the apostle Andrew”, he concluded, “I would like to greet the Church of Constantinople and the beloved Patriarch Bartholomew, and to join with him and the Church of Constantinople – this beautiful Church in the name of Peter and Andrew, together – and wish them all the best, all the Lord’s blessings, and a warm embrace”.

 

2 days 21 hours

Pope Francis says there is a need to “rediscover the meaning of politics.”

The Pope said this today when he received in audience participants in a pilgrimage of French elected representatives from the region of Rhône-Alpes, accompanied by the cardinal archbishop of Lyon, Philippe Barbarin, and by the bishops of the province of Lyon.

In his brief address, Francis emphasised that in the current international context, “characterised by frustration and fears, intensified by the attacks and blind violence that has so deeply lacerated your country, it is ever more important to seek out and develop the sense of common good and general interest.”

“Therefore I would like, along with the bishops of France, to underline the need, in a changing world, to rediscover the meaning of politics,” he said, referring to a document drafted by French bishops. He also recalled that 20 years ago the prelates published the text “Rehabiliter la politique,” which he said “did great good. And now there is this other, which will also do good.”

“There is no doubt,” he continued, “that French society is rich in potential, diversity that is called to become opportunity, provided that the Republic’s values of liberty, equality and fraternity are not merely proclaimed in an illusory fashion, but are instead deepened and understood in relation to their true foundation, which is transcendent. A genuine debate on the values and directions that are recognised as common to all is currently underway. In this debate, Christians are called to participate with believers of every faith and all men of good will, also non-believers, in order to promote the growth of a better world.”

“In this sense, the search for the common good that inspires you, leads you to listen with particular attention to all people in precarious conditions, without forgetting the migrants who have fled their countries as a result of war, poverty and violence. In this way, in exercising your responsibilities, you will be able to contribute to the building of a more just and humane society, a welcoming and fraternal society.”

The Pope concluded by commending their pilgrimage to Christ, “wellspring of our hope and our commitment to the service of the common good,” invoking the Lord’s blessing upon those present.

The Pope has spoken about the need for a recovery of politics on other occasions. For example, on his return trip from Azerbaijan in October, when asked a question about the political situation in the United States, he said he wanted to respond generally, not speaking to specific countries, but to emphasize that “when a country has two, three or four candidates who are unsatisfactory, it means that the political life of that country is perhaps overly ‘politicized’ but lacking in a political culture.”

“One of the tasks of the Church and of higher education is to teach people to develop a political culture. There are countries – I am thinking of Latin America – that are excessively politicized but lack a political culture. People belong to one party or another party or even a third, but for emotional reasons, without thinking clearly about the fundamentals, the proposals.”

2 days 21 hours

 

Pope Francis today concluded his series of catecheses on mercy, in the general audience held in Paul VI Hall.

The Pope focused his meditation on the theme: “Pray to God for the living and for the dead” (cf. Romans 8:25-27).

After summarizing his catechesis in several languages, the Holy Father expressed special greetings to groups of faithful present. Then he made an appeal on the occasion World AIDS Day, observed tomorrow, and on the occasion of the International Conference on the Protection of Patrimony in Areas of Conflict, which will be held at Abu Dhabi on December 2-3.

Here is a ZENIT translation of the Pope’s address:

* *  *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

With today’s catechesis, we conclude the series dedicated to mercy. But although the catecheses finish, mercy must continue! We thank the Lord for all this and we keep it in our heart as consolation and comfort.

The last work of spiritual mercy calls to pray for the living and the deceased. We can also place it side by side with the last work of corporal mercy, which invites to bury the dead. The latter might seem a strange request; instead, in some areas of the world that live under the scourge of war, with bombardments that day and night sow fear and innocent victims, this work is sadly timely. In this connection, the Bible <gives> a good example: that of old Tobit, who, at the risk of his own life, buried the dead despite the king’s prohibition (cf. Tobit 1:17-19; 2:2-4). There are those also today who risk their life to bury the poor victims of wars. Hence, this corporal work of mercy is not far from our daily existence. And it makes us think of what happened on Good Friday, when the Virgin Mary with John and some women were close to Jesus’ cross. After His death, Joseph of Arimathea came — a rich man, member of the Sanhedrin, but who had become a disciple of Jesus — and offered his new sepulcher for Him, excavated in the rock. He went personally to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body: a true work of mercy made with great courage (cf. Matthew 27:57-60)! For Christians, burial is an act of piety, but also an act of great faith. We place in the tomb the body of our dear ones, with the hope of their resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:1-34). It is a rite that remains strong and heartfelt in our people, and which finds special resonances in this month of November, dedicated in particular to remembering and praying for the deceased.

To pray for the deceased is, first of all, a sign of gratitude for the testimony they left us and for the good they did. It is to thank the Lord for having given them to us and for their love and their friendship. The priest says: “Remember, Lord, your faithful, who have preceded us with the sign of faith and sleep the sleep of peace” (Roman Canon). A simple, effective remembrance charged with meaning, because it entrusts our dear ones to God’s mercy. We pray with Christian hope that they may be with Him in Paradise, in the expectation of meeting one another again in that mystery of love, which we do not understand, but which we know is true because it is a promise Jesus made. All of us will resurrect and all of us will remain forever with Jesus, with Him.

The remembrance of the faithful deceased must not make us forget to pray also for the living who, together with us, face every day the trials of life. The necessity of this prayer is yet more evident if we place it in the light of the profession of faith, which says: “I believe in the Communion of Saints.” It is the mystery that expresses the beauty of the mercy that Jesus has revealed to us. In fact, the Communion of Saints indicates that we are all immersed in the life of God and we live in His love. All, living and deceased, are in communion, that is, as a union; united in the community of all those that received Baptism, and of those that are nourished by the Body of Christ and are part of the great family of God. United, we are all the same family; therefore, we pray for one another.

How many different ways there are to pray for our neighbor! They are all valid and accepted by God if done with the heart. I am thinking particularly of mothers and fathers who bless their children in the morning and the evening. There is still this habit in some families: to bless a child is a prayer; I am thinking of prayer for sick people, when we go to see them and pray for them; of the silent intercession, sometimes with tears, of so many difficult situations for which to pray. Yesterday a good man, a businessman, came to Mass at Casa Santa Marta. That young man must close his factory because he cannot make ends meet and he wept, saying: “I don’t like leaving more than 50 families without work. I could declare the failure of the business <and> go home with my money, but I will feel hurt all my life for these 50 families.” There is a good Christian who prays with works: he came to Mass to pray that the Lord might give him a way out, not only for himself, but for the 50 families. This is a man who knows how to pray, with the heart and with the facts, he knows how to pray for his neighbor. He is in a difficult situation, and he does not look for the easiest way out: “That they make do themselves.” This <man> is a Christian. It did me so much good to hear him!

And perhaps there are many like him, today, at this moment in which so many people suffer because of lack of work. I am also thinking of gratitude for good news concerning a friend, a relative, a colleague …: “Thank you, Lord, for this good thing!” This too is to pray for others! To thank the Lord when things go well. Sometimes, as Saint Paul says, “we do not know how to pray as we ought but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Romans 8:26).

It is the Spirit who prays in us. Therefore, let us open our hearts, so that the Holy Spirit, scrutinizing the desires that are deep inside us, is able to purify them and bring them to fulfilment. In any case, let us always ask for ourselves and for others that God’s Will be done, as in the Our Father, because His Will is certainly the greatest good, the goodness of a Father who never abandons us: to pray and to let the Holy Spirit pray in us. And this is good in life: pray thanking and praising God, asking for something, weeping when there is a difficulty, as that man. But may our heart be always open to the Spirit, so that He prays in us, with us and for us.

Concluding these catecheses on mercy, let us commit ourselves to pray for one another so that the works of corporal and spiritual mercy become increasingly our style of life. The catecheses, as I said at the beginning, finish here. We went through the 14 works of mercy, but mercy continues and we must exercise it in these 14 ways. Thank you.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

In Italian

I give a warm welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I greet the children affected by the Batten Syndrome, patients at the Bambino Gesu Hospital; the staff of the Technical Center of Military Aeronautics of Fiumicino; and the members of the Federation of Institutes of Educational Activities, gathered on the occasion of the seventieth <anniversary> of its foundation, and I invite them to continue in their endeavor of support to Catholic schools, so that the freedom of parents’ educational choice for their children is always safeguarded.

I greet the students, in particular those of the “Asisium” Institute and the delegation of the Municipality of Cervia, present here for the traditional delivery of salt.

An affectionate greeting goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Today is the Feast of the Apostle Andrew, brother of Saint Peter. May his run to the sepulcher to find the Lord remind you, dear young people, that our life is a pilgrimage towards the House of the Father; may his strength, in facing martyrdom, sustain you, dear sick, when your suffering seems unbearable; and may his passionate following of the Savior induce you, dear newlyweds, to understand the importance of love in your new family. And, on the feast of the Apostle Andrew, I would also like to greet the Church of Constantinople and the beloved Patriarch Bartholomew, and to unite myself to him and to the Church in Constantinople on this feast – to that Sister Church in the name of Peter and Andrew, all together – and to wish them all possible good, all the Lord’s blessing and a great embrace.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

The Holy Father’s Appeals

Tomorrow, December 1, is World AIDS Day, promoted by the United Nations. Millions of persons live with this sickness and only half of them have access to lifesaving therapies. I invite you to pray for them and for their dear ones and to promote solidarity so that even the poorest can benefit from diagnosis and adequate care. Finally, I make an appeal so that all adopt responsible behaviours to prevent the further spread of this sickness.

On the initiative of France and of the United Arab Emirates, with the collaboration of UNESCO, an international Conference on the Protection of Patrimony in Areas of Conflict will be held at Abu Dhabi this coming December 2-3 – a subject that unfortunately is tragically current. In the conviction that the protection of cultural riches constitutes an essential dimension  of the defense of the human being, I hope this event will mark a new stage in the process of the implementation of human rights.

[Original text: Italian]  [Translation by ZENIT]

2 days 22 hours

Pope Francis expressed his sorrow at news of Monday’s plane crash in Colombia, which took the lives of many players, coaches and invited guests from Brazil’s Chapecoense soccer team. Only six people survived the crash; 71 were killed.

The following messages of condolences were sent on behalf of the Holy Father by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin after the crash in La Ceja, Colombia.

Message to the bishop of Sonsón-Rionegro, Msgr. Fidel León Cadavid Marín

The Holy Father, profoundly saddened by the painful news of the serious air crash which has claimed many victims, raises prayers for the eternal repose of the deceased. Likewise I ask Your Excellency to convey His Holiness’ condolences to the relatives and to those who mourn such a profound loss, along with expressions of affection, solidarity and comfort to those who are wounded and affected by the tragic event. At the same time, Pope Francis asked the Lord to bestow on them the gifts of spiritual serenity and Christian hope, and imparts a heartfelt apostolic blessing.

Message to the president of the Episcopate of Brazil

Most Eminent Cardinal Dom Sérgio Da Rocha
Archbishop of Brasilia and president of the CNBB

Shocked by the tragic news of the air accident in Colombia which has claimed numerous victims from Brazil, Pope Francis asks His Eminence to convey his condolences and his participation in the suffering of all those who mourn. At the same time, as he commends the deceased to God, Father of Mercy, the Holy Father raises prayers to heaven for the consolation and rehabilitation of the wounded, and courage and the consolation of Christian hope for all those affected by the tragedy. To those who suffer as a result of the accident he imparts the comfort of his apostolic blessing.

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the crash. Early reports suggested that perhaps the plane ran out of fuel.

2 days 22 hours

The Vatican released today the Pope’s message for the annual World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which in 2017, will be held May 7.

The next synod of bishops, in October 2018, will be on the theme of “Youth, Faith and Vocational Discernment.”

Led by the Spirit for Mission

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the last few years, we have considered two aspects of the Christian vocation: the summons to “go out from ourselves” to hear the Lord’s voice, and the importance of the ecclesial community as the privileged place where God’s call is born, nourished and expressed.

Now, on this 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I would like to reflect on the missionary dimension of our Christian calling. Those who drawn by God’s voice and determined to follow Jesus soon discover within themselves an irrepressible desire to bring the Good News to their brothers and sisters through proclamation and the service of charity. All Christians are called to be missionaries of the Gospel! As disciples, we do not receive the gift of God’s love for our personal consolation, nor are we called to promote ourselves, or a business concern. We are simply men and women touched and transformed by the joy of God’s love, who cannot keep this experience just to ourselves. For “the Gospel joy which enlivens the community of disciples is a missionary joy (Evangelii Gaudium, 21).

Commitment to mission is not something added on to the Christian life as a kind of decoration, but is instead an essential element of faith itself. A relationship with the Lord entails being sent out into the world as prophets of his word and witnesses of his love.

Even if at times we are conscious of our weaknesses and tempted to discouragement, we need to turn with God with confidence. We must overcome a sense of our own inadequacy and not yield to pessimism, which merely turns us into passive spectators of a dreary and monotonous life. There is no room for fear! God himself comes to cleanse our “unclean lips” and equip us for the mission: “Your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out. Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send and who will go for us?’ And I said, ‘Here am I, send me’” (Is 6:6-8).

In the depths of their heart, all missionary disciples hear this divine voice bidding them to “go about”, as Jesus did, “doing good and healing all” (cf. Acts 10:38). I have mentioned that, by virtue of baptism, every Christian is a “Christopher”, a bearer of Christ, to his brothers and sisters (cf. Catechesis, 30 January 2016). This is particularly the case with those called to a life of special consecration and with priests, who have generously responded, “Here I am, Lord, send me!” With renewed missionary enthusiasm, priests are called to go forth from the sacred precincts of the temple and to let God’s tender love overflow for the sake of humanity (cf. Homily at the Chrism Mass, 24 March 2016). The Church needs such priests: serenely confident because they have discovered the true treasure, anxious to go out and joyfully to make it known to all (cf. Mt13:44).

Certainly many questions arise when we speak of the Christian mission. What does it mean to be a missionary of the Gospel? Who gives us the strength and courage to preach? What is the evangelical basis and inspiration of mission? We can respond to these questions by meditating on three scenes from the Gospels: the inauguration of Jesus’ mission in the synagogue at Nazareth (cf. Lk 4:16-30); the journey that, after his resurrection, he makes in the company of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35) and, finally, the parable of the sower and the seed (cf. Mt 4:26-27).

Jesus is anointed by the Spirit and sent. To be a missionary disciple means to share actively in the mission of Christ. Jesus himself described that mission in the synagogue of Nazareth in these words: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:18-19). This is also our mission: to be anointed by the Spirit, and to go out to our brothers and sisters in order to proclaim the word and to be for them a means of salvation.

Jesus is at our side every step of the way. The questions lurking in human hearts and the real challenges of life can make us feel bewildered, inadequate and hopeless. The Christian mission might appear to be mere utopian illusion or at least something beyond our reach. Yet if we contemplate the risen Jesus walking alongside the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-15), we can be filled with new confidence. In that Gospel scene, we have a true “liturgy of the street”, preceding that of the word and the breaking of the bread. We see that, at every step of the way, Jesus is at our side! The two disciples, overwhelmed by the scandal of the cross, return home on the path of defeat. Their hearts are broken, their hopes dashed and their dreams shattered. The joy of the Gospel has yielded to sadness. What does Jesus do? He does not judge them, but walks with them. Instead of raising a wall, he opens a breach. Gradually he transforms their discouragement. He makes their hearts burn within them, and he opens their eyes by proclaiming the word and breaking the bread. In the same way, a Christian does not bear the burden of mission alone, but realizes, even amid weariness and misunderstanding, that “Jesus walks with him, speaks to him, breathes with him, works with him. He senses Jesus alive with him in the midst of the missionary enterprise” (Evangelii Gaudium, 266).

Jesus makes the seed grow. Finally, it is important to let the Gospel teach us the way of proclamation. At times, even with the best intentions, we can indulge in a certain hunger for power, proselytism or intolerant fanaticism. Yet the Gospel tells us to reject the idolatry of power and success, undue concern for structures, and a kind of anxiety that has more to do with the spirit of conquest than that of service. The seed of the Kingdom, however tiny, unseen and at times insignificant, silently continues to grow, thanks to God’s tireless activity. “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep or rise night and day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he knows not how” (Mk 4:26-27). This is our first reason for confidence: God surpasses all our expectations and constantly surprises us by his generosity. He makes our efforts bear fruit beyond all human calculation.

With this confidence born of the Gospel, we become open to the silent working of the Spirit, which is the basis of mission. There can be no promotion of vocations or Christian mission apart from constant contemplative prayer. The Christian life needs to be nourished by attentive listening to God’s word and, above all, by the cultivation of a personal relationship with the Lord in Eucharistic adoration, the privileged “place” for our encounter with God.

I wish heartily to encourage this kind of profound friendship with the Lord, above all for the sake of imploring from on high new vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life. The People of God need to be guided by pastors whose lives are spent in service to the Gospel. I ask parish communities, associations and the many prayer groups present in the Church, not to yield to discouragement but to continue praying that the Lord will send workers to his harvest. May he give us priests enamoured of the Gospel, close to all their brothers and sisters, living signs of God’s merciful love.

Dear brothers and sisters, today too, we can regain fervour in preaching the Gospel and we can encourage young people in particular to take up the path of Christian discipleship. Despite a widespread sense that the faith is listless or reduced to mere “duties to discharge”, our young people desire to discover the perennial attraction of Jesus, to be challenged by his words and actions, and to cherish the ideal that he holds out of a life that is fully human, happy to spend itself in love.

Mary Most Holy, the Mother of our Saviour, had the courage to embrace this ideal, placing her youth and her enthusiasm in God’s hands. Through her intercession, may we be granted that same openness of heart, that same readiness to respond, “Here I am”, to the Lord’s call, and that same joy in setting out (cf. Lk 1:39), like her, to proclaim him to the whole world.

From the Vatican, 27 November 2016

First Sunday of Advent

FRANCIS

[Original text: Italian]

© Copyright – Libreria Editrice Vaticana

2 days 23 hours

The collection of signatures for the marriage and family European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) Mum Dad & Kids will continue until 3 April 2017, i.e. one year after its official commencement.

“I informed the European Commission of our intention in a letter addressed to Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans,” says Edit Frivaldszky, President of Mum, Dad & Kids.  In that letter, she also requested the Commission to remove from its website incorrect information stating the signature collection was to end at an earlier date.

“Many people have already supported Mum, Dad & Kids and we want to ensure that all those who want to support marriage and family have as much time as planned to do so,” Frivaldszky said.

“It is clear from the regulation for European Citizens’ Initiatives that the organisers have 12 months to collect signatures” says Maria Hildingsson, Secretary general of Mum, Dad & Kids. Indeed, article 5 (5) of regulation 211/2011 provides: All statements of support shall be collected after the date of registration of the proposed citizens’ initiative and within a period not exceeding 12 months.

“This provision says that the statements of support must be collected after the ECI has been registered, and within a period of 12 months or less. It does not say that this period must necessarily begin immediately on the day of registration. Indeed, it does not even say that it is for the Commission to decide upon the dates on which that period should begin or end.” says Mrs Hildingsson.

The provision furthermore stipulates:

At the end of that period, the register shall indicate that the period has expired and, where appropriate, that the required number of statements of support was not collected.

This means that at the end of the one-year period a mention should be inserted in the register that the period has expired. It does not mean that upon registering the ECI the Commission should decide, and mention in the register, the date on which the collection of signatures shall end.

”We did not launch the collection of signatures immediately after the initiative’s registration, but only on 4 April 2016. This was due to the difficult procedure for setting up, and obtaining official approval for, an online collection system for signatures in line with the technical requirements set out in Regulation 211/2011.” says Mrs Frivaldszky, who pursues “therefore we want to clarify our intention to go on with the collection until 3 April 2017 as we initially planned.”

An ECI, a tool introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, needs to collect at least 1 million signatures and reach the national quota set by the regulation for European Citizens’ Initiatives in at least seven Member States, which corresponds to a quarter of the 28 countries. Mum, Dad & Kids has reached more than half of the national quotas and one fifth of the total number of signatures required.

The Mum, Dad & Kids ECI invites the European Union to adopt a definition of marriage and family for the purpose of EU legislation, based on the smallest common denominator among the Member States. “Marriage is the union of one man and one woman” and “family is founded on marriage and/or descent” are the definitions that citizens of EU Member States are invited to support through their signature. Indeed, these definitions reflect the common ground of all EU Member States legislations, whilst respecting article 9 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

Article 9 of the Charter of Fundamental Right of the EU asserts that every Member State is competent to legislate on the definition of marriage and family. However, over time, more and more EU legislation refers to marriage and family, as illustrated by directives 2004/38/CE and 2003/86/CE.

In addition, there are texts that whilst addressing other issues refer to marriage and family, sometimes even by defining them, but in various ways in different texts. In parallel, the differences between national legislations on the definition of marriage and family are increasing. In this context the European texts have become difficult to understand and thereby to apply, are a source of difficulties and tensions. This is why, in a spirit of clarity, Mum, Dad & Kids suggests to adopt a definition of marriage and family by the European Union for all EU legislation, based on the common denominator of all Member States.

More information about the initiative and the organisers can be found atwww.mumdadandkids.eu

2 days 23 hours

Here is the English-language summary of the Pope’s address at the general audience this morning:

__

Dear Brothers and Sisters: Today we conclude our series of catecheses on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. The last of the corporal works of mercy, burying the dead, is not untimely, when we think of the many people who risk their lives in order to give decent burial to the victims of war and armed conflict in various parts of our world. Like Joseph of Arimathea, who offered his own tomb for the burial of Jesus, we Christians devoutly bury our dead in hope of the resurrection. The last of the spiritual works of mercy, praying for the living and the dead, is especially meaningful in this month of November, when we commemorate all the faithful departed. Prayer for the living and the dead is an eloquent expression of the communion of saints. Let us open our hearts to the Holy Spirit, who knows our deepest desires and hopes, and embrace in our prayer all those in any kind of need. May the corporal and spiritual works of mercy on which we have meditated throughout the Holy Year continue to inspire and guide our Christian lives on the path of God’s mercy.

 

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, particularly those from England, the Philippines and the United States of America. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ. God bless you!

2 days 23 hours

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I have been advocating the end of an unhealthy preoccupation with the problems presented by Pope Francis, but I am going to risk further comment because I find that Cardinal Müller’s current predicament offers a fairly healthy way to put things in perspective. The head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith says he cannot undertake to respond to the questions that have been raised about Amoris Laetitia unless Pope Francis instructs him to do so. However, he still managed to point out that the apostolic exhortation, which focuses on marriage, ought to be read in a manner consistent with previous statements and decisions of the Church.

1 day 1 hour

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Reliable world news and analysis from a Catholic perspective.
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A Franciscan woman religious was killed on Novembe 29 in Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

1 day 3 hours

An estimated 200,000 Muslims participated in a massive demonstration in Jakarta on December 2, calling for the immediate arrest of a Christian governor who has been charged with blasphemy against Islam.

1 day 3 hours

Pope Francis met on December 2 with President Tabaré Ramon Vazquez Rosas of Uruguay.

1 day 4 hours

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill of Moscow will dedicate a new cathedral in Paris this weekend.

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Pope Francis has sent a message to the Piarist Fathers, who are celebrating the 400th anniversary of their founding, thanking them for their dedication to providing free education for poor families.

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In a December 1 audience with the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, Pope Francis approved the publication of decrees that advance a dozen sainthood causes. Among them was a decree recognizing the first US citizen to be honored as a martyr.

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More than two million pilgrims are expected to travel to Caravaca de la Cruz, Spain, in 2017 for a jubilee year.

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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople, who holds a primacy of honor in Eastern Orthodoxy, emphasized the many areas of agreement between Pope Francis and himself in response to the social concerns of the day.

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A group of Muslims in an Egyptian village, fearing that a community center would become a church, burned down the center, looted businesses owned by Coptic Christians, and attacked 15 Christian homes, according to multiple reports.

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Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s federation of relief and development agencies, said that the recent COP22 UN climate conference in Marrakech, Morocco, sent a “positive yet weak signal of commitment to tackle climate change.”

1 day 12 hours

The owners of Timber Creek Bed & Breakfast in Paxton, Illinois, have been fined over $81,000 for declining to host a homosexual civil union ceremony in 2011.

1 day 12 hours

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Subcommittee on the Church in Latin America recently granted over $3.8 million to 204 projects to assist the work of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean.

1 day 13 hours

The prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has said that he will not respond to the dubia submitted by four cardinals about the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, unless Pope Francis instructs him to do so.

1 day 23 hours

The Catholic bishops of Nicaragua have raised their voices to denounce violence by the government against private citizens, pointing in particular to police attacks on farmers who had planned to demonstrate in the capital to protest the seizure of their properties.

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The legal costs associated with the bankruptcy filing of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese are approaching $12 million, Minnesota Public Radio reports.

2 days 3 hours

The Iraqi military is relying on militia groups—some of them organized along religious lines—to secure the territory that has been recaptured from the Islamic State, the Fides news service reports.

2 days 3 hours

Pope Francis met on December 1 with a delegation of Catholics from Georgia, and told that that it was a “great joy” for him to visit their country in September.

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Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane has been elected by the Australian bishops to chair a commission preparing for a national council in 2020.

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In a December 1 address to international students gathered in Rome, Pope Francis contrasted “the modern concept of the intellectual, engaged in the realisation of the self and in search of personal recognition, often without considering his or her neighbor, with a more fraternal model, working for the common good and for peace.”

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Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego has instructed a pastor to use his parish bulletin only for announcing calendar events, rather than his personal views.

2 days 4 hours

The ordination of a new bishop in Chengdu, China, saw a clash between loyal Catholics and police officials, provoked by the attendance of a bishop who has been excommunicated by the Vatican.

2 days 4 hours

Ukraine’s Latin-rite and Eastern-rite bishops recently recalled the Holodomor, the 1932-33 famine and genocide in which millions of Ukrainians perished under Stalin’s rule.

2 days 8 hours

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore has called upon President-elect Donald Trump to take several actions that would reverse mandates and executive orders issued by President Barack Obama and his administration that impinge upon religious liberty.

2 days 9 hours

Archbishop Charles Chaput, the chairman of the US bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, has called upon his brother bishops to “reaffirm our commitment to young people and our ministries with them.”

2 days 10 hours

Archbishop Georges Pontier of Marseille, the president of the Bishops’ Conference of France, has criticized President François Hollande for his support of a bill that would criminalize websites that “exert psychological or moral pressure to dissuade from recourse to abortion.”

2 days 10 hours

A Sudanese bishop has traveled to Europe to draw attention to what he describes as a “hidden and forgotten conflict”: government attacks on the people of the Nuba mountain region and Abyei.

2 days 10 hours

Pope Francis has lent his support to efforts by France and the United Arab Emirates to protect historically and culturally significant sites in war zones.

2 days 11 hours

More than 70 presidents of American Catholic colleges and universities have joined in a public statement of support for students from families of undocumented immigrants, saying that these students should be allowed to complete their studies.

2 days 23 hours

Speaking on November 30 to a group of French political leaders, Pope Francis said that Christians should cooperation “with believers of all religions, and all men of good will, even non-believers, in order to promote the building of a better world.”

2 days 23 hours

Legislators in the Netherlands have given preliminary approval to restrictions on the use of Islamic veils that cover the face.

2 days 23 hours

The Vatican has made public the prayer intentions of Pope Francis for December 2016.

2 days 23 hours

Pope Francis sent his greetings to the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew on November 30, the feast of St. Andrew, the patronal saint of the Constantinople see.

2 days 23 hours

NewsFeeds from Zenit, EWTN, CatholicCulture.org

From: Latest News Releases from USCCB
Posted

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), welcomed Pope Francis' November 20 apostolic letter "Misericordia et Misera" ("Mercy and Misery"). In his letter, Pope Francis extended the Year of Mercy provision granting priests worldwide a faculty related to the sin of abortion: "Lest any obstacle arise between the request for reconciliation and God's forgiveness, I henceforth grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion." Cardinal Dolan responded with gratitude in the following statement:

I express heartfelt appreciation for the Holy Father's continued proclamation of God's mercy worldwide, clearing the path to reconciliation and healing for all who have been involved in abortion.

Pope Francis wrote: "I wish to restate as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin, since it puts an end to an innocent life. In the same way, however, I can and must state that there is no sin that God's mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father" (Misericordia et Misera, 12).

The Holy Father reminds us that God, the Father of Mercies, welcomes all those who are repentant, seeking mercy and peace after involvement in abortion — and that an experience of God's great mercy gives rise to joy.  

For many years in the United States, most bishops have granted their priests this faculty. In addition to sacramental confession, the Church offers confidential and compassionate help through diocesan Project Rachel ministries.

Since 1984, dedicated ministries throughout the nation have accompanied those seeking forgiveness, healing, and peace after losing a child to abortion. Wherever a person might be in their healing journey, Project Rachel offers free, confidential help.

To find the nearest diocesan healing ministry, go to the 'Find Help' map at www.hopeafterabortion.org or www.esperanzaposaborto.org.

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Keywords: Pope Francis, Misericordia et Misera, USCCB, U.S. Catholic bishops, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Committee on Pro-Life Activities, mercy, abortion, sacramental confession, reconciliation, post-abortion healing, Project Rachel Ministry, hopeafterabortion.org, esperanzaposaborto.org

# # #
MEDIA CONTACT
Judy Keane
O: 202-541-3200

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WASHINGTON—A Day of Prayer with a focus on the plight of refugees and migrants will take place across the United States on December 12, 2016, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. It will be a time to place before a merciful God the hopes, fears, and needs of all those families who have come to the U.S. seeking a better life.

"As Christmas approaches and especially on this feast of Our Lady, we are reminded of how our savior Jesus Christ was not born in the comfort of his own home, but rather in an unfamiliar manger," said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). "To all those families separated and far from home in uncertain times, we join with you in a prayer for comfort and joy this Advent season," Cardinal DiNardo added.

Prayer services and special Masses will be held in many dioceses across the country as the Catholic Church continues to accompany migrants and refugees seeking an opportunity to provide for their families. If you are unable to attend or there is not one near you, Catholics are invited to offer prayers wherever they may be. For example, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' office of Migrant and Refugee Services (MRS) has also developed a Scriptural Rosary entitled "Unity in Diversity" that includes prayers for migrants and refugees at http://www.justiceforimmigrants.org/documents/Scriptural-Rosary-Eng.pdf.

"So many families are wondering how changes to immigration policy might impact them," said Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, vice-president of the USCCB. "We want them to know the Church is with them, offers prayers on their behalf, and is actively monitoring developments at the diocesan, state, and national levels to be an effective advocate on their behalf."

In the coming days, the USCCB will be developing additional pastoral resources, reflecting the active collaboration of various USCCB Committees whose mandates touch on the concerns of migrants and refugees. These efforts will continue to follow the basic principles contained in Strangers No Longer: Together on the Journey of Hope, the 2003 pastoral letter issued jointly by the bishops of the United States and Mexico. A pamphlet introducing and summarizing this document is available in both English (http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/upload/Broch-Eng-15-31-04-2.pdf) and Spanish (http://www.usccb.org/about/migration-and-refugee-services/national-migration-week/upload/Broc-Sp.pdf). # # # MEDIA CONTACT: Judy Keane O: 202-541-3200 ---- Keywords: U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, USCCB, Day of Prayer, Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, Archbishop José H. Gomez, migrant and refugee services, Advent, mercy, unity, solidarity.    
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