Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Drew Brees was honored as Sports Illustrated's sportsman of the year for his championship on the field and his charity off it.
Brees became the award's 57th recipient when the magazine made the announcement Tuesday on the "Today" show. The quarterback led the long-suffering New Orleans Saints to their first Super Bowl title in February, lifting the spirits of the hurricane-battered city.
But the cover story notes he's done much more than inspire with his brilliant play. Since Brees joined the Saints in 2006, just months after Hurricane Katrina tore through the city, his foundation has worked with nearly 50 New Orleans schools and organizations to aid in recovery.
"The more that I've learned about the award and that it goes well beyond what you accomplish on the field, that it's very much about what you do off the field as well, with community service and your family, makes the award even more special to me," Brees said.
Brees is the fifth NFL quarterback to be honored, and third in six years. The Pittsburgh Steelers' Terry Bradshaw won in 1979; the San Francisco 49ers' Joe Montana in 1990; the New England Patriots' Tom Brady in 2005; and the Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre in 2007.
Sports Illustrated Group editor Terry McDonell said he had been "determined not to be a slave to a calendar" in considering NFL players, even though it might seem like an eternity between the Super Bowl and the announcement of the award. But Brees' contributions outside of football made this selection easy.
"It's year-round for him," McDonell said.
Brees will be recognized at a ceremony Tuesday in New York with past winners, including Bill Russell, Curt Schilling and Montana.
Pope Benedict XVI welcomed the season of Advent during the Angelus prayer on Sunday, remarking on the nature of “expectation” and calling it a “profoundly human” experience.
On the afternoon of Nov. 28, the Pope appeared at the window of his study overlooking St. Peter's Square and addressed the crowds gathered below. He greeted pilgrims several times in different languages.
The Pontiff opened his comments by discussing what he called the “dual nature” of the Advent season. The Church during this time, he said, focuses both on the first coming of Jesus as an infant born of the Virgin Mary and also on “His glorious return, when he will come to judge the living and the dead.”
He described the Church's expectation and reflection on both events as a “profoundly human” experience in which “the faith becomes, so to say, a single thing with our flesh and our heart.”
"Expectation and awaiting represent a dimension that touches our entire individual, family and social existence,” he added, saying that it is “present in many situations, from the smallest and most insignificant to the most important.”
The Pope mentioned the examples of a couple expecting a child, a person waiting for the results of an exam, someone expecting the arrival of a friend from far away, or the anticipation of someone meeting a loved one.
“We could say that man is alive so long as he expects, so long as hope remains alive his heart.”
Pope Benedict continued to say that men and women can be recognized by their expectations, and that “our moral and spiritual 'stature' may be measured by what our hopes are.”
In “this time of preparation for Christmas each of us may ask ourselves: what do I expect?
“This same question can be posed at the level of the family, the community, the nation.
“What do we expect together? What unites our aspirations, what brings us together?” he asked.
The Pope also recalled how the nation of Israel had a strong expectation of the Messiah before Christ's birth, hoping this figure would save them from moral and political slavery.
“But no one could have imagined that the Messiah would be born of a humble girl like Mary, who had been promised in marriage to the good Joseph,” he said. “Neither could she have imagined it; yet in her heart the expectation of the Savior was so great, her faith and hope so ardent, that in her He could find a worthy mother.”
Mary is “the woman of Advent,” the Pope declared, urging those in attendance to “learn from her” in order to “live a daily life with a new spirit, with feelings of profound expectation which only the coming of God can satisfy.”
“There is a mysterious correspondence between the expectation of God and that of Mary, the creature 'full of grace,' completely transparent before the Almighty's plan of love,” he said.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Hat tip to Lead Kindly Light!
Benedict XVI is emphasizing the daily living of the Gospel as the element that gives beauty to the consecrated life, and the key to renewal in this vocation.
The Pope stated this Friday when he received in audience participants in a biannual general assembly of the Union of Superiors General of religious congregations. The assembly focused on the theme of consecrated life in Europe.
"The profound renewal of the consecrated life begins with the centrality of the Word of God," the Pontiff said, "and more concretely in the Gospel, supreme rule for all of you."
"The consecrated life is a plant with a wealth of branches that has its roots in the Gospel," he said.
The Holy Father continued, "This is demonstrated by the history of your institutes, in which the firm will to live the message of Christ and configure your life to him, is and remains the fundamental criterion of vocational discernment and of your personal and communal discernment."
He affirmed that "the Gospel lived daily is the element that gives beauty to the consecrated life and presents you before the world as a trustworthy alternative."
"Contemporary society needs and the Church expects you to be a living Gospel," Benedict XVI stated.
"You are seekers of God by vocation," he affirmed. "To this pursuit you consecrate the most precious energies of your life."
"You seek the definitive, you seek God, keeping your gaze fixed upon him," the Pope added. "Always be passionate pursuers and witnesses of God!"
The Pontiff stressed a "fundamental aspect of the consecrated life:" fraternity.
"Fraternal life is one of the aspects greatly sought by young people when they draw near to your life," he acknowledged.
"It is an important prophetic element that you offer to a fundamentally individualistic society," the Holy Father added.
He continued: "I know the efforts that you are making in this field, as I also know the difficulties that communal life has.
"There is need of serious and constant discernment to listen to what the Spirit says to the communities, to recognize what comes from the Lord and what is contrary to him."
Benedict XVI urged, "Be masters of discernment so that your brothers and sisters assume this 'habitus' and your communities become an eloquent sign for the world of today."
"A last element that I would like to highlight is mission," he said. "Mission is the Church's mode of being and, in it, of the consecrated life itself."
"It is part of your identity," the Pope affirmed. "It moves you to bring the Gospel to everyone, without limits."
He noted that "mission, supported by a powerful experience of God, by a robust formation and by a fraternal life in community, is a key for understanding and revitalizing consecrated life."
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Pope Benedict XVI heralded the beginning of Advent this year with an unprecedented worldwide pro-life vigil. On Saturday night at St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, he urged respect for human life and warned against adult “selfishness” and the “darkening of consciences” in modern society.
On Nov. 27, St. Peter's was the center of global focus, as dioceses around the world joined the Pope's invitation to prepare for the season of Christmas by joining in a special Vespers service for the unborn.
Although it is common for the Pope to encourage prayer for particular intentions, the request for a coordinated worldwide vigil – to be held on the same date and approximately the same time, in all dioceses – is highly exceptional.
Pope Benedict began his homily saying that God became a child to experience the life of man in order to “to save it completely, fully.”
“The beginning of the liturgical year helps us to relive the expectation of God made flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary,” he said, adding that the “Incarnation reveals to us, with intense light and in an amazing way, that every human life has an incomparable, a most elevated dignity.”
Because “God loves us so deeply, totally, without distinction,” the Pope noted that belief in “Jesus Christ also means having a new outlook on man, a look of trust and hope.”
Humankind, therefore, “has the right not to be treated as an object of possession or something to manipulate at will, not to be reduced to a mere instrument for the benefit of others and their interests,” he said.
“In this vein we find the Church's concern for the unborn, the most fragile, the most threatened by the selfishness of adults and the darkening of consciences,” the Pontiff added.
He then reiterated the Church's stance against abortion, warning against “cultural tendencies that seek to anesthetize consciences with misleading motivations.”
“With regard to the embryo in the womb, science itself highlights its autonomy capable of interaction with the mother, the coordination of biological processes, the continuity of development, the growing complexity of the organism,” he said. “This is not an accumulation of biological material, but a new living being, dynamic and wonderfully ordered, a new unique human being.”
“So was Jesus in Mary's womb, so it was for all of us in our mother’s womb.”
Pope Benedict went on to say that even after birth, children around the world face abandonment, hunger, poverty, disease, abuse, violence or exploitation.
“I urge the protagonists of politics, economic and social communications to do everything in their power to promote a culture which respects human life, to provide favorable conditions and support networks for the reception and development of life,” he said.
The Pope concluded by entrusting prayers for the unborn to the Virgin Mary, “who welcomed the Son of God made man with faith, with her maternal womb, with loving care, with nurturing support and vibrant with love.”
The following is an Advent message of Pope Benedict from 2008:
Today, with the First Sunday of Advent, we begin a new liturgical year. This season invites us to reflect on the dimension of time, which always exerts great fascination over us. However, after the example of what Jesus loved to do, I wish to start with a very concrete observation: we all say that we do not have enough time, because the pace of daily life has become frenetic for everyone. In this regard too, the Church has "good news" to bring: God gives us his time. We always have little time; especially for the Lord, we do not know how or, sometimes, we do not want to find it. Well, God has time for us! This is the first thing that the beginning of a liturgical year makes us rediscover with ever new amazement. Yes, God gives us his time, because he entered history with his Word and his works of salvation to open it to eternity, to make it become a covenantal history. In this prospective, already in itself time is a fundamental sign of God's love: a gift that man, as with everything else, is able to make the most of or, on the contrary, to waste; to take in its significance or to neglect with obtuse superficiality.
Then there are the three great "points" in time, which delineate the history of salvation: at the beginning, Creation; the Incarnation-Redemption at the centre and at the end the "parousia", the final coming that also includes the Last Judgment. However, these three moments should not be viewed merely in chronological succession. In fact, Creation is at the origin of all things but it also continues and is actuated through the whole span of cosmic becoming, until the end of time. So too, although the Incarnation-Redemption occurred at a specific moment in history the period of Jesus' journey on earth it nevertheless extends its radius of action to all the preceding time and all that is to come. And in their turn, the final coming and the Last Judgment, which were decisively anticipated precisely in the Cross of Christ, exercise their influence on the conduct of the people of every age.
The liturgical season of Advent celebrates the coming of God in its two moments: it first invites us to reawaken our expectation of Christ's glorious return, then, as Christmas approaches, it calls us to welcome the Word made man for our salvation. Yet the Lord comes into our lives continually. How timely then, is Jesus' call, which on this First Sunday is powerfully proposed to us: "Watch!" (Mk 13: 33, 35, 37). It is addressed to the disciples but also to everyone, because each one, at a time known to God alone, will be called to account for his life. This involves a proper detachment from earthly goods, sincere repentance for one's errors, active charity to one's neighbour and above all a humble and confident entrustment to the hands of God, our tender and merciful Father. The icon of Advent is the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus. Let us invoke her so that she may help us also to become an extension of humanity for the Lord who comes.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
For this reason, Advent is synonymous with hope: not the vain waiting for a faceless god, but concrete and certain trust in the return of him who has already visited us, of the "Spouse" who with his blood has sealed with humanity a pact that is an eternal covenant. It is a hope that stimulates vigilance, the characteristic virtue of this special liturgical season. Vigilance in prayer, fostered by a loving expectation; vigilance in the dynamics of concrete charity, aware that the Kingdom of God comes close whenever men learn to live as brothers.
2. The Christian community begins Advent with these resolutions, keeping the spirit vigilant, the better to receive the message of the Word of God. In today's liturgy we hear the famous and wonderful oracle of the Prophet Isaiah, spoken at a time of crisis in the history of Israel. "In the days to come, the mountain of the Lord's house shall be established as the highest mountain and raised above the hills. All nations shall stream toward it;... they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again" (cf. Isaiah 2,1-5).
These words contain a promise of peace that is more urgent than ever for humanity and, in particular, for the Holy Land, from where even today, unfortunately, sad and worrying news reaches us. May the words of the Prophet Isaiah inspire the minds and hearts of believers and of all men and women of good will, so that the day of fasting on 14 December and the meeting in Assisi of the representatives of the world religions next 24 January will help to create a more serene and solidary climate in the world.
3. I entrust this invocation for peace to Mary, vigilant Virgin and Mother of hope. In a few days, with renewed faith we will celebrate the Solemnity of her Immaculate Conception. May she guide us on the way, helping every human person and nation to look to the "mountain of the Lord", an image of the final triumph of Christ and the advent of his Kingdom of peace.
We pray for the conversion of our enemies to Christianity, so they may come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as the redeemer and savior of the world.
We pray for the soldiers as they spend Christmas away from home, for comfort, strength and consolation- for the spirit of justice and forgiveness to reign in their hearts as they do the duties of the country.
For more prayers of Pope John Paul II please click here.
Voices - Chant from Avignon is worth a listen! The Benedictine Nuns of Abbaye Notre Dame de L'Annonciation released their debut cd this morning in the US. It is already #24 in the UK! You can listen to it at www.chantfromavignon.com and purchase it from Ignatius Press!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the lands!
Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into God's presence with singing!
Know that the Lord is God! It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him, bless his name!
For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures for ever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.
Join Fr. Thomas Rosica as he interviews Salesian Fr. Michael Pace, trained as a civil lawyer and now serving as pastor in one of Toronto's largest parishes. Fr. Pace speaks of his membership in the Religious Congregation founded by Don Bosco, and his great hope for the Church and young people today.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
This is cool! I enjoy looking at the faces of the kids. They need to sing this as a flash mob on line for the TSA!
The following comes from Zenit.org:
Here is an excerpt from German journalist Peter Seewald's book-interview with Benedict XVI titled "Light of the World," which is scheduled to be released Tuesday by Ignatius Press. The excerpt comes from Chapter 6, titled "Time for Conversion."
* * *
Seewald: At the beginning of the third millennium the peoples of the earth are experiencing an upheaval of hitherto unimaginable proportions, economically, ecologically, socially. Scientists regard the next decade as decisive for the continued existence of the planet. Holy Father, you yourself in January 2009 used dramatic words in addressing diplomats in Rome: “Our future is at stake, as well as the fate of our planet.” Unless we manage soon to introduce conversion on a broader basis, you said in another passage, the helplessness and the scenario of chaos would be intensified enormously. In Fatima your homily had an almost apocalyptic tone: “Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end. . ..”
Do you see in the signs of the time signals of a world-altering caesura?
Benedict XVI: There are of course signs that frighten us, that worry us. But there are also other signs with which we can connect and which give us hope. We have indeed spoken at length already about the scenario of terror and danger. I would add here one more thing from the visits by the bishops that burns inside of me.
Many, many bishops, above all from Latin America, tell me that wherever the road of drug production and trafficking passes -- and that includes large sectors of these countries -- it is as if an evil monster had its hand on the country and had corrupted the people. I believe we do not always have an adequate idea of the power of this serpent of drug trafficking and consumption that spans the globe. It destroys youth, it destroys families, it leads to violence and endangers the future of entire nations.
This, too, is one of the terrible responsibilities of the West: that it uses drugs and that it thereby creates countries that have to supply it, which in the end exhausts and destroys them. A craving for happiness has developed that cannot content itself with things as they are. And that then flees into the devil’s paradise, if you will, and destroys people all around.
And then there is a further problem. The destruction that sex tourism wreaks on our young people, the bishops say, is something we cannot even begin to imagine. The destructive processes at work in that are extraordinary and are born from the arrogance and the boredom and the false freedom of the Western world.
You see, man strives for eternal joy; he would like pleasure in the extreme, would like what is eternal. But when there is no God, it is not granted to him and it cannot be. Then he himself must now create something that is fictitious, a false eternity.
This is a sign of the times that should be an urgent challenge to us, especially as Christians. We have to show -- and also live this accordingly -- that the eternity man needs can come only from God. That God is the first thing necessary in order to be able to withstand the afflictions of this time. That we must mobilize, so to speak, all the powers of the soul and of the good so that a genuine coin can stand up against the false coin -- and in this way the cycle of evil can be broken and stopped.
Seewald: Looking at the end of natural resources, the end of an old epoch, the end of a particular way of life, we become aware again in a fundamental way of the finiteness of things -- and also of the end of life in general. Many people see already in the signs of this time the portent of an end time. Maybe the world is not going under, they say, but it is going in a new direction. A society that has become sick, in which psychological problems especially are on the increase, longs for healing and redemption and is actually begging for it.
Shouldn’t we reflect also on whether this new direction might possibly be connected with Christ’s Second Coming?
Benedict XVI: The important thing, as you say, is that a need for healing exists, that man can understand again somehow what redemption means. Man recognizes that if God is not there, existence becomes sick and man cannot survive like that. That he needs an answer that he himself cannot give. In that respect this time is a time of Advent that also offers much that is good. The great communication, for example, that we have today can lead, on the one hand, to complete depersonalization. Then one is just swimming in a sea of communication and no longer encounters persons at all. But, on the other hand, it can also be an opportunity. For instance, to become aware of one another, to encounter one another, to help each other, to go out of ourselves.
So it seems to me important not to see only the negative side. While we must be very keenly aware of it, we must also see all the opportunities for good that are there; the hopes, the new possibilities for being human that exist. So as then, finally, to proclaim the need for change, which cannot happen without an interior conversion.
Seewald: What does that mean concretely?
Benedict XVI: Part of this conversion is putting God in first place again. That changes everything else. And inquiring about God’s words, so as to allow them as realities to shine into one’s own life. We must, so to speak, dare again the experiment with God -- so as to allow him to work within our society.
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On the Net:
To purchase "Light of the World": www.LightOfTheWorldBook.com
Seminaries in England have seen a rise in the number applicants this fall – the highest number in over a decade, according to the local bishops' conference.
This September, 56 men began their journey towards the priesthood in the country, the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales announced on Nov. 15, adding that Pope Benedict's recent visit to the U.K. may boost numbers in the near future.
“The number of people responding to the call of Christ to be priests and religious has been rising slowly but surely,” said Fr. Stephen Langridge, Chairman of the Vocations Directors of England and Wales.
At their annual seminar in Birmingham earlier this month, local vocation directors discussed what has contributed to the increased interest in vocations within the U.K. One example, the recently held “Invocation” festival held in Birmingham this July 2010 for Catholic young adults, drew close to 300 men and women seeking further vocational discernment. The event was so popular that it is slated to be held again in June of 2011.
In addition to this initiative, several dioceses and religious orders are running discernment groups for young men and women, the bishops' conference reported. Vocation seminar participants also noted World Youth Day Madrid in 2011 as an opportunity for young people to enrich their knowledge of Catholicism and increase their individual vocation discernment.
Fr. Christopher Jamison, director of the National Office of Vocation, who attended the Birmingham seminar, noted the life of St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, whom the Pope canonized during his recent papal trip.
“When everybody in the Church takes seriously Newman’s insight that ‘God has created me to do him some definite service,’ then a greater number discover their call to the priesthood and religious life,” Fr. Jamison said.
Monday, November 22, 2010
The Rector Major of the Salesians, Fr Pascual Chávez, is inviting all the members of the Salesian Family to unite in the initiative promoted by the Global Network of Religions for Children to celebrate the “World Day of Prayer and Action for Children and Youth” which is celebrated tomorrow, 20 November.
Since 2008 this organisation has associated itself with the Universal Children’s Day established by the United Nations in 1989 on the occasion of the approval of the Convention on Children’s Rights adding to the international message of the UNO a specifically spiritual and inter-religious dimension.
The Rector Major’s invitation to the members of the Salesian Family to unite in this venture follows on from his other interventions: the appeal at the Campidoglio in Rome in 2002 “Before it is too late let us save the children, the future of the world”; the Strenna for 2008 “Let us educate with the heart of Don Bosco, to develop to their full potential the lives of the young, especially the poorest and most disadvantaged, promoting their rights; and the International Congress “The Preventive System and Human Rights” in January 2009.
In the letter – available on the sdb.org site and in the Service section of ANS – Fr Chávez issues his invitation to the Salesian Family, in the conviction that “only if religious leaders and all of us join together in our efforts will it be possible to respond adequately to the dramatic and massive violations to the dignity and to the fundamental rights of children in the world.”
Fr Chávez attaches to his letter the “Inter-religious Prayer for Children” – also found in the ANS Service – with the invitation to say it on Saturday 20 November in order to “send a strong message to the whole world of mission and commitment.”
Benedict XVI is highlighting the royalty of Christ the King on the cross, as he received the good thief into his kingdom.
The Pope stated this today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.
The Pontiff had just concelebrated in St. Peter's Basilica the liturgy of the Solemnity of Christ the King along with the 24 new cardinals created Saturday in the consistory.
"The Gospel of St. Luke presents, as in a great painting, the royalty of Jesus in the moment of his crucifixion," the Holy Father affirmed.
He noted that "the leaders of the people and the soldiers deride the firstborn of all creation and they test him to see if he has the power to save himself from death."
"In fact, while the Lord finds himself between two criminals, one of them, aware of his own sins, opens himself to truth, arrives at faith and prays to the king of the Jews: 'Jesus remember me when you come into your kingdom,'" Benedict XVI noted.
He added, "From him who 'is before all things and in whom all things exist' the so-called good thief immediately receives forgiveness and the joy of entering into the Kingdom of Heaven."
"With these words," the Pope affirmed, "Jesus, from the throne of the cross receives every man with infinite mercy."
He referenced St. Ambrose, who said that this "is a beautiful example of conversion to which one should aspire: forgiveness is quickly offered the thief and the grace is more abundant than the request."
Despite media claims of a revolutionary change, Pope Benedict is not altering Catholic teaching on condom use or justifying the disordered use of sexuality, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has explained.
In a Nov. 21 statement from Vatican Radio, Fr. Lombardi discussed the Pope’s comments in Peter Seewald’s forthcoming book “Light of the World: the Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.”
In these comments “the Pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the Church but he reaffirms it, putting it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility,” the spokesman said.
In Seewald’s book, Pope Benedict says that the Church “of course” does not regard condom use as “a real or moral solution” to the problem of AIDS. According to Fr. Lombardi, his treatment of the topic considers an “exceptional situation” in which a sexual act presents a true risk for another’s life.
In a short passage at the end of the tenth chapter of Seewald’s book, the Pope discusses the “banalization of sexuality” which treats sexuality as a drug. The pontiff uses the example of a prostitute.
“In such a case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality,” the spokesman explained. Rather, the use of the condom to lessen the danger of contagion may be “a first act of responsibility” and “a first step on the path toward a more human sexuality” rather than acting to put another’s life at risk.
“In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary turning point,” Fr. Lombardi said.
He added that there is some novelty in hearing this discussion from a Pope, even in “a colloquial and non-magisterial form.” According to the spokesman, this was an “original contribution” because it refuted the “illusory path” of trust in condom use. At the same time, the papal comments showed a “far-sighted vision” attentive to the small steps which an “often very poor spiritually” humanity must take towards “a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.”
Fr. Lombardi repeated Pope Benedict’s view that concentrating solely on the condom banalizes sexuality. This obscures its meaning as an expression of love between people and makes it become like a drug.
Fighting against this banalization preserves sexuality's positive value and helps it to have a positive effect on “the whole of man’s being,” Pope Benedict says in Seewald’s book.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Over the past year, we have seen the important Lukan theme of the imitation of Jesus, especially in his ministry of forgiveness and reconciliation. In Luke's moving Gospel story of the crucifixion, this theme reaches its apex.
Jesus' final moments
Today's Gospel (23:35-43) is recounted only by Luke. The penitent sinner receives salvation through the crucified Jesus. Luke's moving scene of the crucifixion is filled with details typical of his portrayal of Jesus. He is crucified with the two criminals surrounding him, fulfilling Jesus' own prediction at the supper table (23:37). Just as Jesus had repeatedly taught his disciples not to respond to violence with more violence and to be forgiving, so he forgives the very men who had condemned him and who drive the stakes into his body (23:34).
When one of the crucified criminals joins in the chorus of derision that accompanies Jesus to his death, the other confesses his sin and asks for mercy (23:39-43). It is Luke's prescription for authentic conversion as exemplified in the story of publican and the sinner (18:9-14) and so Jesus promises this man not only forgiveness but also a place at his side that very day as his journey to God triumphantly reaches its home in paradise.
Only Luke describes this poignant scene (23:39-43): One of the criminals who hung alongside Christ derided him, saying, "Are you not the Messiah? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked the other criminal, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed have been condemned justly, for we are getting what we deserve for our deeds, but this man has done nothing wrong." This one then said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." Christ replied, "Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise."
The image of the dying Jesus jars us with such a sense of shame and powerlessness in Luke, who describes the death of the Son of God, the King of the Jews. Luke gives us a lexicon of abuse and humiliation: criminals, condemnation, crucifixion, nakedness, scoffing, mocking, taunting, deriding, reviling, sneering ... hardly the stuff of kingship, and no crowns here except one of thorns. We are face-to-face with agony and grief, and a cacophony of insults instead of songs and praise.
A kingship that embraces
Kingship, when God is involved, does not ask people to ignore the failures, but embraces those experiences and redeems them. Throughout salvation history, God's promise to the people was a king who is righteous, deals wisely, executes justice and righteousness in the land, and enables the people to live securely. In Jesus, God has fulfilled that promise.
In the story of Jesus, kingship is recast. The miracle lies in the fact that God shares the potential hopelessness of the human situation, but does so as king, as the source of our hope and life. That is what the criminal on the cross with Jesus in today's Gospel scene (23:35-43) partly grasped. He asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom. He was looking to a future reign, but Jesus handed out the royal pardon immediately. This was simply the culmination of the way Jesus lived: He never dressed as we think a king should, or did things properly by our standards. Jesus' kingdom is unlike the one that Pilate knows and is willingly or unwillingly part of. The Roman kingdom was one of arbitrariness, privileges, domination, vengeance, vindictiveness, and occupation. Jesus' kingdom is built on love, service, justice, reconciliation and peace.
Very few can measure up to Christ's kingly stature, remaining powerless in the face of the powerful. Many of us resist with power, even though we resort to very refined forms of pressure and manipulation. As we contemplate Christ crucified, we understand something of why Christ has remained a king, even up to modern times: He didn't bow down. He never responded to violence with more violence. He forgave until the end.
God's agent in history
Today's second reading from Paul's letter to the Colossians (1:12-20) is a summary about redemption by God the Father. The imagery echoes the Exodus experience and Jesus' theme of the kingdom. Redemption in this text is explained as forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 2:38; Romans 3:24-25; Ephesians 1:7).
The lines of this reading are most likely an early Christian hymn, known to the Colossians and taken up into the letter from liturgical use. They present Christ as the mediator of creation (1:15-18a) and of redemption (Colossians 1:18b-20). Christ (though not mentioned by name) is preeminent and supreme as God's agent in the creation of all things, as prior to all things.
There is a second, very important point at the heart of this section of Paul's letter to the Colossians. Pauline usage is to speak of the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Romans 12:4-5). Some think that the author of Colossians has inserted the reference to the church here so as to define "head of the body" in Paul's customary way. When Christ was raised by God as firstborn from the dead (cf. Acts 26:23; Rev 1:5), he was placed over the community, the church, that he had brought into being, but he is also indicated as crown of the whole new creation, over all things. His further role is to reconcile all things (Colossians 1:20) for God or possibly "to himself." The blood of his cross (20) is the most specific reference in the hymn to redemption through Christ's death, a central theme in Paul (cf. Colossians 2:14-15; 1 Corinthians 1:17, 18, 23).
The kingdom and the Church
As we celebrate the feast of Christ's kingship today, let me leave you with this one thought that has been on my mind for the past year in particular. If we follow the example of the prophets of ancient Israel who worked within the framework of the structures of the faith of God's people of their day, then we in our day cannot marginalize Christian revelation and its ecclesial transmission by proposing a non-Christian vision where misuse of the terminology "Kingdom or Reign of God" is a substitute for Jesus Christ and his Church. The Church is the necessary vehicle, and privileged instrument for us to encounter Jesus Christ, to receive his life through the sacraments, to hear his Word mediated through preaching and the interpretation of the Church, and to journey toward the fullness of the kingdom of heaven, which lies ahead of us.
Jesus Christ is our great prophet. He is the only full revelation of God and he is the Lord and Savior of all men and women. We must be watchful and vigilant that the Christian terminology is never emptied of its theological meaning so as to be better integrated into a "vision" or a supposedly "new wisdom" of this age.
On this great feast, let us remember that Jesus took his wounds to heaven, and there is a place in heaven for our wounds because our king bears his in glory. Perhaps we need to cry out: "Where are you, God?" And today we are given the answer: God is hanging on a tree, in the broken body of a young man -- arms outstretched to embrace us, and gently asking us to climb up onto the cross with him, and look at the world from an entirely new perspective. Or perhaps we need to cry out for mercy, asking that he not forget us in the New Jerusalem: "Jesus, remember me, when you come into your kingdom."
And from the depth of our own darkness and shadows, we might have to pray with the Cleopas and his companion on the road to Emmaus, "Stay with us, Lord, for it is almost evening and the day is far spent." Or maybe in the midst of our despair, we recognize the source of our hope and echo the words of Jesus, "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."
What a strange form of kingship Christ offers us today! May today's feast force us to remember the appalling fact of our salvation. When all around us seems to be darkness, destruction, night, and even death, let us never forget that we are not alone. In our midst hangs the Crucified One, arms outstretched in loving mercy and welcome. May we have the courage to ask our benevolent king to remember us in his kingdom, and the peace to know that paradise is already in our midst even when every external sign indicates darkness and death. This is abundant life on the Royal Road of the Cross.
[The readings for the solemnity of Christ the King are 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43]
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Pope Benedict welcomed the newest cardinals Nov. 20 with a call to service and sacrifice, even if it means spilling their blood.
Two Americans, Donald W. Wuerl and Raymond L. Burke, are among the 24 new cardinals the Pope "created" on Nov. 20. Others come from a variety of countries, from Ecuador to Zambia, while 10 are Italians.
The warm reception they received inside St. Peter's Basilica contrasted with the cool morning in Rome, which was drenched by the steady rain of a late fall thunderstorm.
As the soon-to-be members of the Cardinal's College processed to the high altar they were met with cheers, applause and even an airhorn which was quickly silenced by Vatican security.
Flags from many nations waved to greet them, including many from Sri Lanka and the Congo, to welcome their countrymen in the group.
The extremely festive initial atmosphere was punctuated by eruptions of applause at the Pope's announcement, one-by-one, of the names of each candidate.
The Congo's Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa and Germany's Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, the youngest in the group at 57 years old, received enormous ovations.
The basilica quickly took on a solemn and prayerful spirit, as the reading of the Scriptures began. The readings were laden with meaning for the guests of honor.
The first was an excerpt from the First Letter of Peter in which he called Christians to always be ready to bear witness to the reason for their hope so that "those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.
A passage from the Gospel of St. Mark recounted Jesus' teaching to his closest disciples that he who strives to be first will be last. Jesus told them, "whoever wishes to be great among you will be your servant; whoever wishes to be first among you will be the slave of all.
"For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
The Pope picked up on the theme in his homily. He said.that Christ's teaching of service indicated a new path for Christian communites and a new way of exercising authority.
Christ thus taught that the fulfillment of the work entrusted to one by God "is the path of the humble gift of oneself up to the sacrifice of life, the path of the Passion, the path of the Cross," explained Pope Benedict XVI.
It is a valid message for the entire Church and especially for her leaders, he said.
"It is not the logic of dominion, of power according to human criteria, but the logic of bowing to wash feet, the logic of service, the logic of the Cross that is at the foundation of every exercise of authority."
He then directed his words to the 24 cardinals-to-be. "(T)he mission, to which God has called you today and that qualifies you for an ecclesial service even more laden with responsibility requires an always greater will to assume the style of the Son of God, who came among us as He who serves."
Each man took on this responsibility as he swore fidelity and obedience to the Pope and his successors.
The Pope also reminded each new cardinal that the dignity of the office is symbolized by the color red, "signifying that you are ready to act with fortitude, even to the point of spilling your blood for the increase of the Christian faith, for peace and harmony among the people of God, for freedom and the spread of the Holy Roman Catholic Church."
At these words, the Pope received them one-by-one, placing the "berretta," the traditional three-cornered red hat, upon each of their heads. The second in line, Patriarch Antonios Naguib of Alexandria, Egypt of the Copts, was the lone man who did not receive the traditional hat. He instead received a special modification of the long black headdress traditional to the leader of the Copts.
And, as each received his new title and an embrace from the Pope, the faithful once again filled the basilica with cheers of joy for the new "princes of the Church."
There is a special day in Gettysburg every November called Remembrance Day. It commemorates Abraham Lincoln's visit to Gettysburg to dedicate the National Cemetery. You may have heard of the little speech he gave at the event, a speech now known as the Gettysburg Address.
The official date of Remembrance Day is November 19. There is an annual ceremony at the National Cemetery on this date. On the Saturday of that week there is always a parade. The very first one was held on November 19, 1863 when Lincoln and Union troops made the journey from the center of town to the cemetery. On November 19, 1946, the Gettysburg Address anniversary date was formally designated as "Dedication Day" by a joint resolution of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
You can learn more at the Gettysburg site.
Friday, November 19, 2010
This short but powerful film begins by explaining the reality and gravity of sin and the effect it has on our lives and the lives of others. You then discover the Biblical roots of the need for a confession of sins, and the institution of Confession as a sacrament by Jesus Christ. Although presenting sin in its true light, this film focuses on the love and mercy of God - that although we are all sinners, He is always waiting, patiently, lovingly, fatherly, for us to return.
Commentary is provided by well known speakers and authors including Fr Nicholas Schofield, Fr Thomas Crean, Fr Marcus Holden, Fr Jeremy Davies and more. It is an ideal film for any Catholic who has been away from Confession for a long period of time, or for those who are anxious or worried about this sacrament. For those who already frequent the sacrament, it will offer inspiration and encouragement to continue to grow in their spiritual life.
Also contains a leaflet on how to make an examination of conscience and a good confession.
You can order the DVD here.
Archbishop Jose Gomez, the Coadjutor Archbishop of Los Angeles, has written a brilliant and inspiring book, “Men of Brave Heart,” about the role of the virtue of courage in the life of priests.
He places his discussion within the context how the virtue of courage was understood in Greek and Roman culture and how that understanding was transformed by the coming of Christianity. He points out that Christianity brought about a new and persuasive approach to virtue training and acquisition.
Seminary professors and moral theologians will appreciate how Archbishop Gomez supplies extensive explanations of the role of the “infused” theological and cardinal virtues as God’s gifts, designed to produce in us the essentials of the life of holiness while at the same time purifying and perfecting the acquired natural virtues.
But this book can be read not only by priests and seminarians and formation directors. It will be helpful for anyone seeking to grow in virtue.
I especially liked the quotes the archbishop selected from St. Thomas Aquinas to support his eight themes about courage. One salient quote is this: “The acquired virtues ready one for civil life, but the infused virtues for a spiritual life, which comes only from grace as a result of the virtuous one’s membership in the Church.”
In general, Archbishop Gomez’ extensive treatment of St. Thomas treats him much more as a spiritual director than as an analytic philosopher or theologian, thereby making the great Church doctor more accessible to his readers.
Archbishop Gomez’s themes range from martyrdom, empowerment by Christ, letting go of fear. He insists that the traditional virtues — the theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity, and the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude — are the missing links in contemporary Catholic spiritual writings. His book is an urgent call to a return to the virtues. And it is a call he makes to those in families raising their children, in schools forming students, in seminaries forming future priests, and in convents shaping the future women religious of our country.
The popularity of “values” education in our country in recent years has resulted in focusing moral training on the subjective behavior of individuals; in the process, the traditional approach to character development and the development of virtues has been largely lost in the today’s education of the young. Archbishop Gomez links the need for virtues education to the Second Vatican Council’s “universal call to holiness.” And his call comes at a critical moment in the faith formation of our people. In plain language, he explains that there can be no holiness without virtue — and no growth in holiness without the specific virtue of courage.
Archbishop Gomez draws much of his thinking from his doctoral dissertation on courage where he reviewed the thinking of St. Augustine and other Church Fathers, as well as Aquinas. He adds to that academic background a deep understanding of the role of the virtues in the great spiritual writers of Church history. Nonetheless he has found a way to communicate this treasury of teaching in today’s idiom. He includes numerous inspirational stories of martyrs and other brave Catholics in Church history. His account of the “tough priest,” Jesuit Father Walter Cizek, is engaging, tragic and motivating — illustrating the truth that courage is based on radical dependence on God.
To all those who have been drawn to St. Paul’s devotion to the mystery of God’s strength made manifest in human weakness, the archbishop’s chapter on “power made perfect in weakness” will come as a long overdue message. I do not pretend to have lived this ideal, but it is a goal I would invoke the Spirit’s help to reach.
In my opinion, the final chapter is the crown of this book. Seldom in modern times have I read a better summons for the formation of priests and seminarians. His numerous quotes are positive prayer starters, such as the one from Italian Father Didimo Mantiero: “Christ won souls not by the force of his marvelous words, but by the power of his constant prayer.” Then there are the words of Aquinas, “The priest has only two acts, to consecrate the Body and the Blood of Christ and to prepare the people to receive this sacrament.”
In the seminary of days past I was nourished by the writings of the Benedictine Abbot Blessed Columba Marmion, whose tomb I visited at Maredsous, near Belgium, and at whose beatification I was present in 2000. I appreciated the Marmion quote in this book, “Ask the Holy Spirit to enlighten your intelligence and inflame your heart.”
This book tells us of the archbishop’s love of priests and his prayerful advice should be read by as many as possible. I also hope it will be used widely in the formation of seminarians.
This is a new show that includes interviews with Mother Assumpta, Sr. Joseph Andrew, Sr. Mary Samuel, Sr. John Dominic and other Sisters; as well as on-site filming of the First and Final Profession Masses and this year’s Entrance Day, during which we welcomed 22 Aspirants.
The show will feature the experience of a Sister entering religious life and the meaning of religious profession as being ‘married’ to Christ.
You may recall that Oprah first reached out to our community on February 9th of this year due to an interest in the hidden aspects of religious life. Click here to watch an excerpt from that program.
The response from the first show was so positive that the Sisters were asked if we would be open to another opportunity to share our life. We have accepted this invitation in the hopes of reaching an audience we might not otherwise reach with the witness of our life and the Gospel. Please join us in praying that the show will be for the good of souls and the honor of God.
As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, let us give thanks to God for His bountiful goodness. May God bless you and your families during this holiday season.
In Jesus and Mary,
The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
Thursday, November 18, 2010
At a Press Conference held yesterday Tuesday 16 November, the Holy See announced an important new method of presenting and spreading the Church’s message to the world. In addition to new management structures for the broadcasts of the Vatican Television Centre two other significant projects were mentioned.
The Press Conference introducing the new high definition television unit of the Vatican Television Centre was also the occasion for Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, to announce the two other initiatives.
The first is the renewal of the site of the (PCCS) - http://www.pope2you.net/ – so that users will be able to be constantly updated regarding the activities of the Pope. The site, which since it was first launched has had over 5 million visits is now a model for a site addressed directly at the young: with an internal link to pages of Facebook and YouTube, with applications for streaming on internet and for the modern smartphones.
When the updating process is shortly completed, it will be even easier for the young people throughout the world to use the site and so “follow the Pope, listen to his words and in a certain sense dialogue with him”.
The second project Archbishop Celli announced was a new multi-media Web site which would bring together several sources of Vatican news, such as the Vatican press office, L`Osservatore Romano newspaper, Vatican Radio, the Vatican Television Centre and the Fides news service of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.
It is a need "much felt by the workers," said the Archbishop, although he gave assurances that the independence of each agency would always be maintained.
Yet to be defined is the name of the page, as well as the timeframe for launching the new site.