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Archive for February, 2013

By Deacon Keith Fournier February 2nd, 2013 Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Does the heroic leadership of Pope Benedict XVI represent one more fulfillment of the prophetic vision of the Saint whose Feast we celebrate? Pope Benedict XVI is steering the Ship through troubled waters, charting a path through those sure pillars of protection and heavenly aid. St. John Bosco, pray for us.

CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic online) – On January 31 in the Roman Calendar we celebrate the Feast of St John Bosco (also called Don Bosco). He lived in the 19th century and poured out his life serving the Church of Italy. Don Bosco was the founder of the Salesian Society and walked in a wonderful and intimate communion with the Lord. He also lived during a difficult time for both the world and the Church.

Among the accounts of his life, we read of a vision he shared on May 30, 1862. It comes to my mind frequently these days. The vision revealed the great threats facing the Church as she continues the redemptive mission of her Lord. It also reveals the path which will lead her to victory over her enemies. The vision has been the source of much inspiration, insight, speculation and reflection.

Images of the vision have been painted by many of the faithful. The paintings themselves have a prophetic effect on the observer. The saint saw the Church as a great Ship of Peter surrounded by a flotilla of other vessels. They were engaged in intense warfare. At the helm of the Church was the Pope who at one point in a fierce battle fell mortally wounded. The enemies of the Church closed in sensing this was their moment.

In the vision two columns then emerged from the great ocean. On one was a golden Monstrance with the Holy Eucharist exposed within it. The column was inscribed with the words “Salvation of Believers”. The other column held an Image of Mary, the Mother of God, inscribed with the words “The Help of Christians”. Here are words which purportedly reflect those actually spoken by the Saint in describing this vision:

“The entire enemy fleet closes in to intercept and sink the flagship at all costs. They bombard it with everything they have: books and pamphlets, incendiary bombs, firearms, cannons. The battle rages ever more furious. Beaked prows ram the flagship again and again, but to no avail, as, unscathed and undaunted, it keeps on its course. At times a formidable ram splinters a gaping hole into its hull, but, immediately, a breeze from the two columns instantly seals the gash.

“Meanwhile, enemy cannons blow up, firearms and beaks fall to pieces, ships crack up and sink to the bottom. In blind fury the enemy takes to hand-to-hand combat, cursing and blaspheming. Suddenly the Pope falls, seriously wounded. He is instantly helped up but, struck down a second time, dies. A shout of victory rises from the enemy and wild rejoicing sweeps their ships. But no sooner is the Pope dead than another takes his place. The captains of the auxiliary ships elected him so quickly that the news of the Pope’s death coincides with that of his successor’s election. The enemy’s self-assurance wanes.”

“Breaking through all resistance, the new Pope steers his ship safely between the two columns and moors it to the two columns; first to the one surmounted by the Host, and then to the other, topped by the statue of the Virgin. At this point something unexpected happens. The enemy ships panic and disperse, colliding with and scuttling each other. Some auxiliary ships which had gallantly fought alongside their flagship are the first to tie up at the two columns.”

This vision could describe what is occurring in our own day. We have been blessed with holy successors of Peter who are steering Christ’s Church through those two columns in very troubled waters. One, Blessed John Paul II, was shot – but saved through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin on a Marian Feast day. Another, Pope Benedict XVI, is leading the Church through the troubled waters of the dictatorship of relativism.

Both have engaged courageously in doing battle with those forces which oppose the Church. Both stood at the helm while steering her safely through the twin poles which certainly stand for orthodoxy (right teaching) and orthopraxy (right practice).

Blessed John Paul II is in the communion of Saints in the Church triumphant, interceding for the whole Church. His friend and successor, Pope Benedict XVI has continued providing heroic leadership to the Church. I am convinced he is leading the Church through turbulent waters into a new missionary age.

Throughout the Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II he called for a New Evangelization. His friend and successor, Pope Benedict XVI, has made this a central pillar of his pontificate. In a Motu Propio directive (which means issued on his own authority) Pope Benedict established a new dicastery (Vatican Office).

It underscored the seriousness with which he views this mission of the New Evangelization.  It is specifically tasked with evangelizing countries where the Gospel was announced centuries ago, but where its presence in peoples’ daily life seems to be all but lost.

Cultures formerly infused with a Christian culture are now regularly called post-Christian – and understandably so. Yes, there are many good and genuine Christians living within these Nations. However, the scourge of legal abortion, the attacks on true marriage and the family and society founded upon it, and the intolerance against people of faith, speaks clearly of the decline of Christian influence in these Nations. I prefer to refer to them as “Pre-Christian.”

They are now our mission field. When Blessed John Paul visited the Americas he wrote a letter “To the Church in America” http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_22011999_ecclesia-in-america_en.html  in which we find these words:

“The new Evangelization calls for a clearly conceived, serious, and well organized effort to evangelize culture. The Son of God, by taking upon Himself our human nature, became incarnate within a particular people, even though His redemptive death brought redemption to all people, of every culture, race and condition. The gift of His Spirit and His love are meant for each and every people and culture, in order to bring them all into unity after the perfect unity existing in the Triune God.” (# 70)

The New Evangelization requires an authentic renewal of the Church so that she can undertake such a new missionary outreach to the world. These two aspects of the one call are intricately connected. Only a Church fully alive in the Lord and filled with His Spirit can carry out such an evangelical mission.

The Church is Christ’s plan for the entire world. The early Fathers called her the world reconciled. She is a universal sign, sacrament and seed of the kingdom of God. These wonderful words from Par # 845 of the Catholic Catechism, citing words from the early fathers of the Church, should anchor us in hope:

“To reunite all his children, scattered and led astray by sin, the Father willed to call the whole of humanity together into his Son’s Church. The Church is the place where humanity must rediscover its unity and salvation. The Church is “the world reconciled.” She is that bark which “in the full sail of the Lord’s cross, by the breath of the Holy Spirit, navigates safely in this world.” According to another image dear to the Church Fathers, she is prefigured by Noah’s ark, which alone saves from the flood.”

Contemporary Western culture has lost its way, throwing off almost every remnant of Christian influence. It has embraced a new paganism. What Pope Benedict calls the Dictatorship of Relativism is the bad fruit of a rejection of a belief in the very existence of truth. In effect, the West has embraced a practical atheism. It is Eden’s error written large in an age which has rejected God and His plan.

Given the current state of our National moral decline we need to view the entire American continent as missionary territory, ripe for this New Evangelization. We also need to view the once Christian Nations of the European continent as mission territory.  Most importantly, we need to view ourselves as missionaries in a new missionary age.

Pope Benedict XVI will turn turned 86 years old on April 16, 2013. Some early observers indicated his age would make him some sort of caretaker Pope. His pace has demonstrated the observers were wrong. He has proven to be an indefatigable and tireless missionary of a Pope.

He has continued the pastoral visits of his predecessor with amazingly fruitful travels around the world. The youth of the world still flock to World Youth days and his genuine love for them – and they for him – is evident. He has pastorally and decisively dealt with serious matters concerning the need for a purification of the Church.

He is exactly what he told us when he began his service, a “simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord” Notice how little fanfare accompanied his birthday as well as this six year anniversary of his election. Clearly, to this successor of Peter, it is not about him, but about the Lord whom he serves. His diminutive size and humble manner reveal the holy heart of this man totally given over to the Lord.

He is a scholar of the highest order, yet able to communicate with simplicity and beauty because he is a man of deep prayer. He has given continual teaching to the faithful – including some of the finest hagiography in centuries – during his Wednesday Catechesis.

He made Church history, when Motu Propio, he released of the Apostolic Constitution on Groups of Anglicans which has begun the healing of the divided Western Church. The fruits of these Ordinariates will be recounted by future historians as among the most important events in the Third Millennium of the Church.

He has earned the great respect of Patriarchs and leaders of the Orthodox Church and is making progress toward some form of communion between Eastern and Western Christianity which could make the Third Millennium a millennium of communion.

He has championed the re-christianizing of Europe and passionately promoted the New Evangelization of the Church – even establishing a new Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization. He has been a champion of the New Ecclesial movements and helped to ensure that they are rooted in the heart of the Church and received as gift for the missionary work of the Church in this hour.

He has doggedly defended the Christian roots of the West and defended religious freedom as a fundamental human right. He has engaged the Islamic world with great charity and courage on the ground of dialogue in truth. He began the Courts of the Gentiles outreach engaging atheists and agnostics.

The Church is truly blessed to have him at the helm of the Barque of Peter as she sails into the Third Christian Millennium. His heroic leadership may well represent one more fulfillment of the prophetic vision of the Saint whose Feast we celebrate on this day.
We need to pray for him, take our place on the Bark of Peter and follow Him as he follows the Lord. He is steering the Ship through troubled waters, charting a path through those sure pillars of protection and heavenly aid. St. John Bosco, pray for us, pray for Pope Benedict XVI.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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By Adelaide Darling

Catholic News Agency (CNA)

Februray 3, 2013

Sisters of Life took part in the March for Life in Washington D.C. Jan. 25, 2013. Credit: Addie Mena/CNA.

Washington D.C., Feb 3, 2013 / 04:03 pm (CNA/EWTN News) –  Organizations that offer pro-life aid for women facing difficult pregnancies stressed that there are both resources and tools available for mothers in need.

The Sisters of Life “invite the women to come and live with us,” Sister Johanna, Superior of the Holy Respite in Manhattan, told CNA.

In addition to the religious vows of chastity, poverty and obedience, Sisters of Life take an additional vow to protect and defend the sacredness of human life.

Founded in 1991 by Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, the sisters care for expectant mothers, offer retreats and provide aid to women suffering from a past abortion.

Sister Johanna explained that women can come to the sisters at any stage in pregnancy, and “they are welcome to stay with us until they get back on their feet.”

During their stay at the convent, the material needs of both the mother and child are taken care of, allowing them “to just relax and be and pray and dream,” she said.

Even after their child is born and they have moved out of the convent, the sisters provide “any materials we’ve been given,” to continue assisting each mother.

“We always walk with them for as long as they need,” Sister Johanna added, saying that many mothers will often “check in” and visit, creating a strong and lasting community among the women.

Numerous members of the Sisters for Life attended the 2013 March for Life in Washington, D.C. The annual march – held this year on Jan. 25 – commemorates the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 court decision that effectively legalized abortion throughout America.

The National Maternity Housing Coalition was also present at the march. Sponsored by Heartbeat International, the coalition seeks to help homeless mothers in crisis pregnancy situations connect with housing providers.

“We can say to any woman in a crisis pregnancy situation in the United States, you can get help,” said Christopher Bell, founding member of the coalition.

He told CNA that the organization seeks “to help maternity homes that are already doing good work do better, and to help people who want to start new homes.”

The National Maternity Housing Coalition also offers training and educational opportunities to address the situations surrounding maternal homelessness, in order to help providers better meet the needs of the women who come to them.

Bell said the group plays a vital role in educating the public and aiding in the pro-life movement.

When asked in a recent study what they would do if their congregants were facing a crisis pregnancy, many said that they did not know, he explained.

While pro-life alternatives have existed for decades, Bell said, “we’re not known well enough by members of our own congregation, our own clergy, as well as certainly the general public who really needs it.”

“Pregnancy centers are small, so no one has an advertising budget,” he added, “so we need to get the word out there.”

Bell also noted that the organization “can handle it all,” providing aid for a variety of situations.

Various homes within the coalition can care for women with longer-term needs, mothers who already have multiple other children and special needs moms and babies.

“There’s so much love in the world to take care of every single child in those situations and every mother,” he said.

NOTE:  Please save a life peacefully and persuasively today.  If you know someone who is in trouble and has nowhere to turn in a pregnancy please suggest a Crisis Pregnancy Center.   A life is terrible waste.   Just be kind to someone its up to them in the end.   You can only do what God asks of you.  Pass this on to my fellow Catholics in the world.  We need to educate our own people in the struggle for life issues.  My blogroll has an organization to start with called Good Counsel Homes.   Check it out and pass it on to all Diocese if they arent aware of it.  Thanks and Peace to all of you who are in the Pro-Life Movement.

 

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Quoted from above video:

“Fr. Mark and Doug Barry cover highlights from the Walk for Life West Coast 2013.”

Please donate in some small way to your local Pregnancy Centers who support life.

See my blogroll for Good Counsel Homes and others who support life.

God Bless.

 

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VATICAN LETTER Jan-31-2013 (940 words) Backgrounder. With photos. xxxi

Father Wojciech Giertych, Pope Benedict XVI’s personal theologian, in the chapel at his residence in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Francis X. Rocca
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — In October, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith dismissed Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood because of his participation in the invalid ordination of a woman.

Since then, a Jesuit in Wisconsin has had his priestly faculties suspended after he celebrated a liturgy with a woman purporting to be a Catholic priest; and the Redemptorist order has confirmed that one of its members is under Vatican investigation for alleged ambiguities “regarding fundamental areas of Catholic doctrine,” apparently including the question of women’s ordination.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that only men can receive holy orders because Jesus chose men as his apostles and the “apostles did the same when they chose collaborators to succeed them in their ministry.” Blessed John Paul II wrote in 1994 that this teaching is definitive and not open to debate among Catholics.

Yet some Catholics persist in asking why, as traditional distinctions between the sexes break down in many areas of society, the Catholic clergy must remain an exclusively male vocation, and what this suggests about the church’s understanding of women’s worth and dignity.

Few are as well qualified to answer such questions as Dominican Father Wojciech Giertych.

As the theologian of the papal household, Father Giertych has the task of reviewing all speeches and texts submitted to Pope Benedict XVI to ensure they are free of doctrinal error. Though his office was not founded until the 13th century, the Dominican claims St. Paul the Apostle, who corrected St. Peter on important questions of church teaching, as his original forerunner. (A copy of Rembrandt’s portrait of St. Paul in prison hangs on a wall in Father Giertych’s apartment in the Apostolic Palace.)

“In theology, we base ourselves not on human expectations, but we base ourselves on the revealed word of God,” the theologian told Catholic News Service. “We are not free to invent the priesthood according to our own customs, according to our own expectations.”

Father Giertych rejects the idea that the all-male priesthood is a relic of obsolete social norms, as if such norms could have been binding on Jesus.

“Christ was courageous with respect to the local social customs, he was not afraid to be countercultural,” Father Giertych said. “He didn’t follow the expectations of the powerful, of Pilate, of Herod. He had his own work, his own mission.”

According to Father Giertych, theologians cannot say why Jesus chose only men as his Apostles, any more than they can explain the purposes of the incarnation or the Eucharist.

“In the mystery of faith, we need to be on our knees toward something that we received,” he said.

Nevertheless, he said, theology can help illuminate the “internal coherence and beauty of the mystery which has been offered to us by God.”

“The son of God became flesh, but became flesh not as sexless humanity but as a male,” Father Giertych said; and since a priest is supposed to serve as an image of Christ, his maleness is essential to that role.

Reflecting on differences between the sexes, Father Giertych suggested other reasons that men are especially suited to the priesthood.

Men are more likely to think of God in terms of philosophical definitions and logical syllogisms, he said, a quality valuable for fulfilling a priest’s duty to transmit church teaching.

Although the social and administrative aspects of church life are hardly off-limits to women, Father Giertych said priests love the church in a characteristically “male way” when they show concern “about structures, about the buildings of the church, about the roof of the church which is leaking, about the bishops’ conference, about the concordat between the church and the state.”

Father Giertych acknowledged that a Catholic woman might sincerely believe she is called to the priesthood, but said such a “subjective” belief does not indicate the objective existence of a vocation.

None of which means that women hold an inferior place in the church, he said.

“Every baptized person, both male and female, participates in the priesthood of Christ through the sacrament of baptism, drawing the fruits of the paschal mystery to one’s own soul,” he said. “And maybe in some sense we could say that, in this, women are more apt to draw from the mystery of Christ, by the quality of their prayer life, by the quality of their faith.”

Women are better able than men to perceive the “proximity of God” and enter into a relationship with him, Father Giertych said, pointing to the privileged role played by women in the New Testament.

“Women have a special access to the heart of Jesus,” he said, “in a very vivid way of approaching him, of touching him, of praying with him, of pouring ointment on his head, of kissing his feet.”

“The mission of the woman in the church is to convince the male that power is not most important in the church, not even sacramental power,” he said. “What is most important is the encounter with the living God through faith and charity.”

“So women don’t need the priesthood,” he said, “because their mission is so beautiful in the church anyway.”

This special relationship, the theologian said, is essentially related to Jesus’ maleness.

“I remember once a contemplative nun told me, ‘oh, wouldn’t it be horrible if Jesus were a woman?’ And it dawned on me that, for a woman, the access to Jesus in prayer is easier than for us men, because he’s male,” Father Giertych said. “The relationship of love, of attachment, the spousal relationship to Christ is easier for the woman.”

– – –

Editors: A video interview of Father Giertych is available at http://youtu.be/GfGJs-iFtS8

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