Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Pope urges Gordon Brown to back 'ethical' financial system

From Times Online
March 31, 2009

Ruth Gledhill, Religion Correspondent

The Pope has urged Gordon Brown to push for the establishment of an ethical financial system at the G20 summit this week.

He has also called on the world leaders gathered in London to agree measures that offer security to families and workers.

Pope Benedict XVI says in a letter to the Prime Minister on the eve of the summit: “The only true and solid foundation is faith in the human person. For this reason all the measures proposed to rein in this crisis must seek, ultimately, to offer security to families and stability to workers and, through appropriate regulations and controls, to restore ethics to the financial world.”
He warns against “the spectre of the cancellation or drastic reduction of external assistance programmes, especially for Africa and for less developed countries elsewhere".

Related Links
Brown holds crisis meeting with Pope
Crisis could force millions into poverty: minister
Pope to visit Africa

He says: “Positive faith in the human person, and above all faith in the poorest men and women – of Africa and other regions of the world affected by extreme poverty – is what is needed if we are truly to come through the crisis once and for all, without turning our back on any region, and if we are definitively to prevent any recurrence of a situation similar to that in which we find ourselves today.”

Such a strong intervention by the Pope is unusual and is an indication of the depth of international concern about the social and welfare implications of the financial crisis.

The letter is also a reflection of the bond the two men formed when they met on Mr Brown's recent visit to the Holy See.
more...

See also articles from Zenit: "G-20 Summit Urged to Remember Africa" and "Text of Pope's Letter to British Prime Minister."

Seven Deadly Sins: Envy

By Jeri Holladay
3/31/2009
Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org/)

The Kingdom of God is not a zero-sum game in which we compete for limited love and respect. Each member of the Body of Christ is of infinite and unique importance (Rom12:3-8).


Cain, for example, envied his brother Abel. Because they were brothers, and in his mind equal petitioners for God’s favor, Cain presumed that God would treat their offerings the same. Blinded by his envy, he missed his chance to bring forth his best and instead killed his competitor, his brother.

WICHITA, Kansas (Catholic Online) - Envy is the most joyless of the Seven Deadly Sins, and trying to get to the bottom of it is like wrestling with a shadow. The glutton enjoys his banana split, at least for a moment, but the envious appears to derive only a gnawing sense of comparison, competition, and injustice from his secret sin. At its best, envy remains a hidden pool of ingratitude and resentment, secretly applauding the downfall and sorrow of others.

The envious resents the perceived preferential treatment of his peers. Questions fester in his mind, like “Why am I less popular, when I’m just as attractive?” Or “Why don’t people seek me out, ask my advice?” “Why was I laid off, or overlooked for promotion, when I’m a more productive worker?” “Why do I earn less for my work, when I am just as creative and intelligent?”

At its worst, envy strikes others through slander or gossip or actively tries to cause them to fail. Envy brings tension and conflict into families, schools, offices, parishes, and society. Ultimately, envy pits the person against God’s will for his life.

Envy not only draws comparisons but is deeply competitive. Cain, for example, envied his brother Abel. Because they were brothers, and in his mind equal petitioners for God’s favor, Cain presumed that God would treat their offerings the same. Yet he failed to distinguish between his brother’s offering of his choicest fruits and his own offering. Blinded by his envy, he missed his chance to bring forth his best and instead killed his competitor, his brother (Gen 4).
more...

See also from Inside Catholic, John Zmirak's entertaining and insightful article , "Envy: I See You in Hell."

Tuesday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Catholic Church
« March 31, 2009 »


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 31, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Lord, help us to do your will that your Church may grow and become more faithful in your service. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The world hates Christ because he bears witness to its evil works. As Christians we are charged to do the same. That is why if we are true Christians we will never be popular in the world. We should expect persecution and hatred to be heaped on us by the devil and his human agents.

Stational Church
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Meditation - Christ's Last Days

Every person who loves Christ now tries his best to remain close to his suffering Savior during the last hours of His earthly life. The liturgy places us directly in the midst of the recorded events and expects us to participate. During these next days, therefore, we will traverse each road with Jesus.

Yesterday (Friday) He came with His disciples from the desert village of Ephrem to Jericho. When near the Jordan we heard from His lips the third prophecy of the crucifixion. Then Salome approached with her two sons, John and James, and begged important positions for them in the coming kingdom. This gave Jesus the opportunity to proclaim His wonderful teaching on humility. We stand close and listen.
more...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Fight Abortion during Lent--through prayer and "Red Envelope Day"

Joseph Farah, in his commentary today from "Between the Lines," reminds those who want to fight abortion to join the effort, "Red Envelope Day."

This campaign and its timing during Lent, I believe, is very much in keeping with the penance we owe God due to our grievous sin as a nation--the abortion of over 50 million of our sons and daughters.


In the words of the founder of Red Envelope Day, Christ Otto, who is joined in the effort by Brian Potter, in answer to the question Why red?: "The envelopes represent the innocent blood shed through abortion, and the plea for the blood of Jesus over the sin of our nation. This campaign is a symbolic act to flood the mail with red."

Please see a video from Brian Potter, at RedEnvelopeDay.com, with directions on how to participate.

As for prayer, I'd recommend from Fumare, the following extremely powerful prayer to end abortion.

The Secret of Benedict XVI's Popularity. In Spite of Everything

Chiesa

Despite being rocked by criticism, this pope continues to enjoy the trust of the masses. His trip to Africa and a survey in Italy prove this. The reason is that he speaks of God to a humanity in search of direction

by Sandro Magister



ROME, March 27, 2009 – On the flight back from his trip to Cameroon and Angola, Benedict XVI told the journalists that two things in particular had been ingrained in his memory:

"On the one hand, the almost exuberant hospitality and the joy of a festive Africa. In the pope, they saw the personification of the fact that we are all children of God and his family. This family exists, and we, with all of our limitations, are in this family, and God is with us.

"On the other hand, there was the spirit of recollection at the liturgies, the strong sense of the sacred: in the liturgies, there was no self-representation of groups, no self-promotion, but the presence of the sacred, of God himself. Even the movements, the dances, were always respectful and cognizant of the divine presence."

Popularity and presence of God. The interweaving of these two elements is the secret of Joseph Ratzinger's pontificate.

***

That Benedict XVI is a popular pope might seem to be contradicted by the storm of hostile criticism rained down on him daily by the media all over the world. Over the past month, these criticisms have reached an unprecedented crescendo. Even official government representatives no longer hesitate to accuse the pope.

But the impression gathered from looking at the big numbers is different. On his voyages, Benedict XVI has always demonstrated levels of popularity beyond expectations. Not only in Africa, but also in difficult venues like the United States or France. In Rome, at the Angelus on Sunday at noon, St. Peter's Square is more packed, every time, than during the years of John Paul II.

This does not mean that these same crowds consistently accept and practice the teachings of the pope and of the Church. Countless surveys show that on marriage, sexuality, abortion, euthanasia, contraception, the views of a large number of people are more or less distant from the Catholic magisterium.

At the same time, however, many of these same people demonstrate a deeply rooted respect for the figure of the pope and the authority of the Church.
more...

Pope designates Holy Thursday collection for Catholics in Gaza Strip

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI has decided the collection taken up at his Holy Thursday evening Mass will be used to help support the Catholic community in the Gaza Strip.

Each year the pope chooses where to send the collection taken up during the Mass of the Lord's Supper at the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome.

Pope Benedict's decision to use the collection from the Mass April 9 to support Catholics in Gaza was announced by the Vatican March 30.

Each year the pope also asks a different person to write the meditations read during his Good Friday celebration of the Way of the Cross in Rome's Colosseum.

The meditations for the April 10 service were written by Archbishop Thomas Menamparampil of Guwahati, India, AsiaNews reported.

The Vatican also confirmed the pope would celebrate the usual slate of Holy Week and Easter liturgies: Palm Sunday Mass in St. Peter's Square April 5; on Holy Thursday, April 9, the morning chrism Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, followed by the evening Mass at St. John Lateran; on Good Friday, April 10, the afternoon liturgy of the Lord's Passion in St. Peter's Basilica, followed by the nighttime Way of the Cross; the Easter Vigil April 11 in St. Peter's Basilica; and Easter morning Mass April 12 in St. Peter's Square.

The papal preacher, Obama and a medieval monk

CNS Blog
Posted on March 30, 2009 by Cindy Wooden


Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa in a 2007 file photo. (CNS photo/Gregg McIntosh, The Michigan Catholic)

VATICAN CITY — When Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the papal household, offered his weekly Lenten meditation to the pope and members of the curia Friday, he put his finger on a mystery involving a medieval monk, Italian bloggers and President Barack Obama.

Father Cantalamessa was discussing the relationship between Christ and the Holy Spirit in a talk about the importance of the Holy Spirit in the life of both individuals and the church. But as a bit of background to his main point, he said:

The fact that the newly elected president of the United States, during his electoral campaign, referred to Joachim da Fiore three times has re-ignited interest in the doctrine of this medieval monk. Few of those who discuss him, especially on the Internet, know or bother to learn exactly what this author said. Every idea about the renewal of the church or of the world is casually attributed to him, including the idea of a new Pentecost for the church invoked by John XXIII.

One thing is certain. Whether or not it is attributed to Joachim da Fiore, the idea of a third Age of the Spirit that would succeed that of the Father in the Old Testament and of Christ in the New Testament is false and heretical because it strikes at the very heart of the dogma on the Trinity. The affirmation of Gregory Nazianzen is completely different. He distinguishes between three phases in the revelation of the Trinity: in the Old Testament, the Father is fully revealed and the Son is promised and proclaimed; in the New Testament, the Son is full revealed and the Spirit is promised and proclaimed; in the age of the church, the Holy Spirit is finally fully known and one rejoices in its presence.

But the only problem is that no one can seem to find any proof that as a candidate Obama actually cited Joachim of Fiore, who lived 1135-1202. There are dozens of Italian bloggers and Web sites that say Obama did, but the assertion cannot be backed up by an actual quote in an actual speech. In fact, the Joachim fan page on Facebook includes a link to Obama’s Aug. 28 speech accepting the nomination at the Democratic National Convention; a tag says that’s the speech that includes three references to Joachim. But it doesn’t.
more...

Monday of the Fifth Week of Lent

Catholic Culture
« March 30, 2009 »


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 30, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Father of love, source of all blessings, help us to pass from our old life of sin to the new life of grace. Prepare us for the glory of your kingdom. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


God's protection extends to all his children, to the innocent and sinful. He will never leave us to our enemies. Christ, the champion of the weak, shows himself in today's celebration of the word as defender of womankind against cruelty and lust. It is this same Champion and Defender that we meet in the Eucharistic mystery.

Stational Church
more...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The joy of the Church in Africa, fruit of the seed sowed by missionaries, Pope says

» 03/29/2009 13:56
VATICAN

Benedict XVI is grateful for the experience he had during his trip to Cameroon and Angola. He appreciated the joy and sense of the sacred found in the communities he visited, noting the fruitfulness of the missionaries’ work. He urges young people to attend the Mass to mark the fourth anniversary of the death of John Paul II.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) –Benedict XVI, in his address before today’s Angelus prayer to the pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square, expressed his thanks to God but also to the African Church for its joy and sense of the sacred and for the sacrifice of so many missionaries who live in this land, a topic he would further discuss in next Wednesday’s general audience.

“First of all,” he said, “I wish to the thank God and all those who in various ways have worked for the success of the apostolic trip I undertook in recent days in Africa. I call for the blessings of heaven to fall on the seeds scattered across this African land.”

The Pope noted that two factors impressed him during his trip to Africa. The first one was “the joy one could see in the faces of the people, joy to feel part of the one family of God.” The second was “the strong sense of the sacred that one could feel in the liturgical celebrations, a feature found in all African peoples, emerging, as it were, in each moment of my stay among these beloved communities.”

Speaking about the Sunday Gospel, which includes words by Jesus about the grain of wheat that dies producing “much fruit”) (John, 12:24), he said that “it is necessary . . . for Jesus to die like a grain of wheat which God the Father scattered around the world. Only thus can a new humanity develop and grow, free from the power of sin, but capable of living in brotherhood, like sons and daughters of the same Father who lives in heaven.”
more...

See also, "Pope Benedict praises sacrifices of African missionaries."

Fifth Sunday of Lent

Catholic Culture
« March 29, 2009 »

Old Calendar: Passion Sunday


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 29, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Father, help us to be like Christ your Son, who loved the world and died for our salvation. Inspire us by his love, guide us by his example, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Now there were some Greeks among those who had come up to worship at the feast. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, "Sir, we would like to see Jesus." Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus (John 12:20-22).

Previously called "Passion Sunday", this Sunday marks the beginning of Passiontide, a deeper time of Lent. This is the third Sunday of the scrutinies for the preparation of adult converts, and the final Sunday of Lent before the beginning of Holy Week. The Liturgy of the Word of this day speaks of re-creation, resurrection, and new life.

Stational Church
more...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

‘Sound bite’ reporting missed Pope’s Africa message, Knight of Columbus head says


Supreme Knight Carl Anderson

New Haven, Conn., Mar 28, 2009 / 08:20 am (CNA).- The poor reporting which inflamed controversy over Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on condom use in African HIV prevention missed his “larger message,” Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus Carl Anderson has charged. He claimed the media have created a sound bite “gotcha” game in which reporters and commentators uncritically accepted the opinions of papal critics.

The controversy also reflects a “fundamental difference” in philosophies, Anderson added. While the Pope believes that people are capable of doing the right thing, Anderson argues his critics do not.

Writing in his recent column “AIDS, Africa and Pope Benedict,” Anderson defended the accuracy of the Pope’s comments that reliance on condoms to combat the spread of AIDS risks “worsening the crisis.”

He cited a recent UNAIDS study which said “there are no definite examples yet of generalized epidemics that have been turned back by prevention programs based primarily on condom promotion.”

Anderson also cited a 2004 study of AIDS trends in Africa conducted by the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, which is headed by Dr. Edward C. Green. The study reported that behavior change is necessary to decrease HIV infection rates, but there has been “relatively little” promotion of behavior change relative to promotion of condom use.

“What the researchers mean by ‘primary behavior change’ is both abstinence and being faithful to one’s partner,” Anderson wrote.

In a recent interview with National Review Online, however, Dr. Green noted that the Pope’s comments presented monogamy as the best answer to AIDS, rather than abstinence.

In Green’s interview, cited by Anderson, the researcher also said that HIV rates tend to go up where condoms are readily available, possibly because condom users take more risks than they might otherwise.

Turning to critics of the Pope, Anderson argued many of them assume that “people cannot help themselves when it comes to having sex, and that advocating for better and more moral behavior is futile.”

“Many Africans who I know personally think otherwise,” he said.
more...

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Catholic Culture
« March 28, 2009 »

Old Calendar: St. John of Capistrano, confessor


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 28, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Lord, guide us in your gentle mercy, for left to ourselves we cannot do your will. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The theme of life and light has colored the Liturgy of this week. Before leading the catechumens into the Mystery of Christ's Passion and Death, the Church presents Christ to them once more as the Light of the world who has power to open man's eyes to his Light. He will veil it for a while during his Passion but it will burst forth in full splendor again on Easter morning.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. John de Brebeuf. His feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on October 19.

Stational Church
more...

Friday, March 27, 2009

"All Who Are Guided by the Spirit of God Are Sons of God" (Romans 8:14)

P. Raniero Cantalamessa, ofmcap

2009-03-27- The Lenten Sermon delivered in the presence of Benedict XVI

1. A new age of the of the Holy Spirit?

"Thus, condemnation will never come to those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit which gives life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death...anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. But when Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin but the spirit is alive because you have been justified; and if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead has made his home in you, then he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your own mortal bodies through his Spirit living in you".

These are four verses about the Holy Spirit from the eighth chapter of the Letter to the Romans. Christ's name is repeated a full six times in the text. The same frequency is repeated throughout the rest of the chapter, if we consider both the times he is referred to by his name and by the word Son. This fact is fundamentally important. It tells us that for Paul the Holy Spirit's work does not substitute Christ's work, rather it continues it, it fulfills it, and it actualizes it.

The fact that the recently elected president of the United States referenced Joachim of Fiore three times during his electoral campaign has renewed interest in medieval monk's teachings. Few of the people who talk about him, especially on the internet, know or care to know just what exactly this author said. Every idea of church or world renewal is offhandedly attributed to him, even the idea of a new Pentecost for the Church, which was invoked by John XXIII.

One thing is certain: whether or not it should be attributed to Joachim of Fiore, the idea of a third era of the Spirit that would follow on the era of the Old Testament Father and the New Testament Christ is false and heretical because it affects the very heart of the Trinitarian dogma. St. Gregory Nazianzen's statement is entirely different. He makes a distinction between three phases in the revelation of the Trinity: in the Old Testament the Father fully revealed himself and the Son is promised and announced; in the New Testament the Son fully revealed himself and the Holy Spirit is promised and announced; in the time of the Church, the Holy Spirit is finally fully known and we rejoice in his presence.[1]

Even I have been put on a list of Joachim of Fiore's followers just because I cited this text of St. Gregory in one of my books. But St. Gregory refers to the order of the manifestation of the Spirit, not its being or acting, and in this sense his position expresses a incontestable truth, that has been peacefully accepted by all tradition.

The so-called Joachimite thesis is ruled out by Paul and the whole New Testament. For them, the Holy Spirit is nothing other than the Spirit of Christ: objectively because it is the fruit of his Paschal mystery, subjectively because he is the one who pours it out over the Church, as Peter will say to the crowd on the very day of Pentecost: "Now raised to the heights by God's right hand, he has received from the Father the Holy Spirit, who was promised, and what you see and hear is the outpouring of that Spirit." (Acts 2:33) Therefore time of the Spirit is coextensive to the time of Christ.
more...

See also "Medieval monk hailed by Barack Obama was a heretic, says Vatican."

03/27/2009 - Lent: Ending Well?

Today's Catholic Culture Insights from Dr. Jeff Mirus, President, Trinity Communications:

The details have been released for Pope Benedict's trip to the Holy Land in the second week of May. See the Full Schedule. In many ways it would have been wonderful if the Holy Father could have been there for Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter itself. But his visit still reminds me that the time of Our Lord's death and Resurrection is drawing near.

A week from Sunday is Palm Sunday of the Lord's Passion. (As the name suggests, there is quite a bit of compromise when trying to fit things into the Liturgical Calendar!) Palm Sunday is the Church's most solemn commemoration of the Passion short of the Sacred Triduum itself.
Now, since I listed so many papal talks in my last message, I don't have a great deal of new library material to mention today. So let me take advantage of the lull to remind everyone, including myself, that we have less than two weeks until the Sacred Triduum begins. Perhaps we can all keep the remainder of Lent more faithfully by considering in advance what is approaching:

Holy Thursday

Good Friday

Holy Saturday

Please also remember to visit the Lenten Workshop if you need further ideas about how you and your family can finish Lent well.

On a different note entirely, I return to the problem of apologetics in my weekly column, this time looking at the nature of Friendly Persuasion.
more...

Pope and president of Cyprus discuss reunification efforts


Pope Benedict XVI / President Demetris Christofias

Vatican City, Mar 27, 2009 / 10:12 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI received the President of Cyprus at the Vatican Apostolic Palace today, where the two leaders discussed their hopes for reunification of the island nation as well as other international situations.

President Demetris Christofias of the Republic Cyprus spoke with Pope Benedict about the future of the country, expressing his particular concern for the situation of Christians in the Turkish controlled portion of the island.

Cyprus was divided into two by a Turkish invasion in 1974. The Turks took the northern half of the Mediterranean island, while the Greeks maintained control of the southern half. In 2004, a U.N. effort to reunite the country was rebuffed by Greek Cypriots, leaving the country divided.

The “cordial” discussion between President Christofias and the Pope included the Cypriot leader illustrating the “condition of many churches and Christian buildings in the north of the island,” according to the Vatican.

A 2006 meeting between then-President Tassos Papadopoulos and Pope Benedict involved the president giving the Pontiff a large photo album featuring pictures of over 300 Orthodox churches destroyed by the Turks or used for secular and non-religious activities.
more...

Legacy of beloved pontiff extolled

By Lilia Borlongan-Alvarez
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:44:00 03/27/2009

Filed Under: Religions

MANILA, Philippines – Unknown to many Catholics, the life of the late Karol Wojtyla, whose papacy changed the 20th century, was filled with telling anecdotes. For his fourth death anniversary (on April 2), we remember some of them with fondness:

Many recall that Pope John Paul II survived an assassination attempt at St. Peter’s Square by a Turkish gunman on May 13, 1981, but few know that when Karol was only 9 years old, he was almost shot by a policeman, whose bullet missed him by only a few inches.

Factory

He was also nearly killed when he was working in a chemical factory in his native Poland: On his way home late one evening, a German army truck hit him, and left him comatose in a ditch—until a woman found him! (He recuperated three weeks later.) Also, in 1982, four years into his pontificate, a deranged man tried to stab him during a visit to Fatima in Portugal, but was stopped by security men.

When he became archbishop, he wore his crumpled hat and neatly pressed but faded cassock. “His shirts had been mended so many times they were nearly patchwork. Though he received gifts continually, he gave almost all of them away, not for lack of gratitude, but because he had no understanding of accumulation,” reveal Msgr. Virgilio Levi and Christine Allison in the book, “John Paul II: A Tribute in Words and Pictures,”

As a Cardinal, he had an inkling that he was being eyed as a papal candidate, but “he engaged in the process with humility.” In 1964, he, who was becoming known as a progressive intellectual and moral theologian, shocked the Vatican Council by being the first speaker ever to address the convocation with a greeting to his “brothers and sisters,” paying homage to the women who were also present. On Oct. 16, 1978, he was elected the 264th pope.

During his first press conference in Rome, the youthful 58-year-old pontiff fielded questions in eight languages.

And the Filipino Catholic could never forget his first visit to the country in 1981 when he greeted the youth gathered at UST with: “Mga ginigiliw kong kabataan ng Maynila…”

Certain memorable moments are hard to forget: One of them took place during his coronation, where thousands streamed into St. Peter’s Square. Levi and Allison’s book recalls: “(During) his speech, he looked into the soul of each human being, and said, ‘Be…not…afraid!” Then, a strange thing happened: Grown men began to weep, nuns buried their faces in their hands, and jaded photographers dabbed their eyes.” Another heart-rending event was his 20-minute meeting with his Turkish assassin, whom he forgave.
more...

Remembering Sudan in Lent

The Catholic Thing
COLUMNS
Friday, 27 March 2009

By William Saunders

On March 4, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Omar Ahmad Al Bashir, the president of Sudan. The warrant charges Bashir with individual responsibility on five counts of crimes against humanity and two counts of war crimes. Specifically, it alleges he is criminally responsible for a campaign of murder, rape, torture, pillage, and forcible transfer against the civilian, and largely Islamic, population of Darfur. The ICC alleges the campaign, conducted over the five- year period from April 2003 to July 2008, was planned at the highest levels of the Sudanese government. The attacks were carried out by the Sudanese armed forces, the Sudanese police force, the Sudanese national security service, and allied “Janjaweed” militias. The warrant alleges Bashir either coordinated the design of the campaign or, as head of state, used state agencies to implement the campaign.

The issuance of the warrant caused immediate comment from many quarters. The Sudanese Voice for Freedom, a D.C.-based group, welcomed it as long overdue, while the Organization of African Unity denounced it as biased against Africa. On the day before, The New York Times featured contending editorials from Franklin Graham, the son of evangelist Billy Graham and the president of Samaritan’s Purse, which engages in relief work in Sudan, and from Desmond Tutu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and retired Anglican archbishop of Capetown, South Africa. Both men made strong arguments, nicely summarizing the views of those opposed to, and those in support of, the warrant.

Graham argued that issuing the warrant was a bad idea. The peace process, which resulted in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, partly owing to a strong push by the Bush Administration, Graham believed, would founder without Bashir. The fruit of that process – elections to be held this year in southern Sudan and a referendum to be held in 2011 on independence for the south – would be lost if Bashir were removed from office. It might also spur reprisals against aid workers and turn the country back to civil war.

Archbishop Tutu countered that justice required the issuance of the warrant and chided African leaders who protested it (after all, the victims were Africans, he noted): “As painful and inconvenient as justice may be, we have seen that the alternative – allowing accountability to fall by the wayside – is worse.”

Readers may recall that before the atrocities began in Darfur, they were widespread in the south of Sudan and in the Nuba Mountains (let’s call it “the south” for convenience’s sake). In fact, the explosion in Darfur essentially coincided with the winding down of the war in the south. Cynics will say that the Sudanese government signed the CPA, in part, to enable it to divert forces to Darfur.

The genocidal war against the people of southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains (recognized as such by the United States government) has been largely forgotten in the justified worldwide outrage over Darfur. But millions of innocent people were killed by the government in the prior war. The government, dominated by the radical National Islamic Front (NIF), targeted civilians, destroyed Christian churches, and revived the slave trade through a declaration of jihad against the “infidels” of the south.

Please note that I am not making an argument in favor of having the International Criminal Court, which many sage observers believe will be used, eventually, to advance a radical social agenda, and which, in any case, erodes national sovereignty. Rather the occasion of the issuance of the warrant for the president of Sudan is an opportunity to remember the dead, many of whom were true martyrs, dying for their Christian faith. Catholics should never forget, as John Paul the Great memorably put it: the age of the martyrs has returned. Being a Catholic in parts of the world such as Sudan can cost you your life. As the editor-in-chief of The Catholic Thing, Robert Royal, noted in his book, Catholic Martyrs of the Twentieth Century, the last century was particularly bloody, and persecution (rape, murder, brutality of all kinds) against Catholics and other Christians was widespread.
more...

Friday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Catholic Culture
« March 27, 2009 »

Old Calendar: St. John Damascene, confessor and doctor


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 27, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Father, our source of life, you know our weakness. May we reach out with joy to grasp your hand and walk more readily in your ways. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


"We have been ransomed with the precious blood of Christ, as with the blood of a lamb without blemish of spot (1 Pt 1:19)." Mortification and self-denial are indispensable means of acquiring strength of will and virtuous habits, and of preserving the life of the soul.

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. John Damascene. His feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on December 4.

Stational Church
more...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Itinerary of Pope Benedict's May 8-15 trip to the Holy Land

Vatican: Pope to begin first Middle East visit in Jordan








Amman, 26 March (AKI) - Pope Benedict XVI's first trip to the Middle East will begin in Jordan where he will visit a major mosque as well as Muslim religious leaders, diplomatic corps and rectors of Jordanian universities.

Benedict will arrive in the Jordanian capital Amman on 8 May and will begin his visit at the Regina Pacis centre for the handicapped and will then make a courtesy visit to the Jordian royal family at the al-Husseini palace.

During his stay in Jordan, Benedict will alsovisit the country's Hashemite Museum and the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal, located in Amman, where he will meet Muslim religious leaders.

Later that day he will preside at the celebration of Vespers with priests, religious, seminarians and ecclesial movements in the Greek-Melkite cathedral of St. George in Amman.

On the morning of Sunday 10 May, the pontiff will celebrate mass international stadium in Amman.
more...

» 03/26/2009 17:20
VATICAN – HOLY LAND

Papal trip to the Holy Land rich in meaning

The Vatican makes public the official programme of Benedict XVI’s visit to the Holy Land, scheduled for 8-15 May. It will be the third trip by a Pope in the modern era to the land where Jesus lived. In addition to the holy sites, the Holy Father will visit Yad Vashem, Amman’s main mosque, the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI’s often-expressed desire to visit the Holy Land is now becoming reality. The Vatican released today the programme of the Holy Father’s trip set for 8-15 May, in Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. In each country he will meet the head of state, Jordanian King Abdullah, Israeli President Peres and Palestinian President Abbas. This is the third papal visit in modern times to the land where Jesus lived. Pope Paul VI came in 1964 and John Paul II, in 2000.

In Jordan on 9 May Benedict XVI will visit the Memorial of Moses on Mount Nebo, the Mosque of al-Hussein bin Talal in Amman, and bless the cornerstone of the Patriarchate of Jerusalem's Madaba University. On the following day he will travel to Bethany Beyond the Jordan, site of the Lord's Baptism.

The Holy Father will arrive in Israel on Monday 11 May. After the welcome ceremony he will visit the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem and hold a meeting with organisations devoted to inter-faith dialogue.

On Tuesday 12 May, he will visit the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount in Jerusalem and meet the Grand Mufti. He will then visit the Western Wall and meet Israel’s two Chief Rabbis. In the afternoon he will celebrate Mass in the Valley of Josaphat.
more...

See also VIS press release: Programme of Holy Father's Trip to the Holy Land.

The Truth about Easter and Divine Mercy Sunday

By Robert R. Allard
3/25/2009

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)


The Church made it an official feast on the Octave Sunday of Easter (Second Sunday of Easter) in the year 2000 and by God’s providence, Pope John Paul II died on the Vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday just five years later.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - There has been so much confusion and discussion about Divine Mercy Sunday and how it all relates to Easter and it is about time that all of the misunderstandings get cleared up quickly.

Though it started out from a revelation that was made by Jesus to Saint Faustina, it is now an official feast in the Catholic Church. Divine Mercy Sunday is not to be considered part of a private devotion. There are still some things that are considered devotional that are associated with “Divine Mercy”, like the Chaplet and the Novena, but these devotionals should not be confused with what the Church has set in place for the observance of Divine Mercy Sunday.

Many have added to the confusion by suggesting that priests must provide special devotional services for Divine Mercy Sunday. This had caused many priests to shy away. Mercy Sunday is not a “party for devotees”, but it is in all truthfulness an astonishing “refuge for sinners.” It is an outstanding, timely gift from God. Make no doubt about it, the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit has fulfilled every request that Jesus made, but only because it had seen the hand of God.

The Church has not added anything new by naming this new feast, but just sort of re-energized what was always celebrated as a great feast in the early Church. Over the years, the Church had lost some of the fervor for the Octave of Easter. Octaves have always been associated with the celebration of great feasts. Some of the Jewish feasts in the Old Testament, such as the Feast of Tabernacles, were celebrated for a full 8 days and the very last day was always the greatest one.

The Gospel of John recalls the observance of the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles in the 7th chapter (John 7:37-39) and Saint John calls it the greatest day: “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me; let him drink who believes in Me. Scripture has it: ‘From within him rivers of living water shall flow’”. It is important that every word in these passages is taken to heart and analyzed very thoroughly.

The first day of an octave and the last day are considered as the same day, in fact, every day in between the first and last are part of the feast. Just look at the days of the week between Easter and the Octave of Easter: from Monday thru Saturday, they are all called “Easter” and each and every one of these days is the highest form of celebration called a solemnity. On each of those days, the Gloria and the Creed are recited, just like on Sundays. Each is considered a Sunday.

Don’t forget that the Gospel that has always been read on that Octave Sunday after Easter (John 20:19-31) covers the time from the evening of the Resurrection up until the following Sunday, an eight day octave. The first part of that Gospel narrates Jesus bestowing on the Apostles the power to forgive sins by breathing on them and saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” The second part of that Gospel is what happens on the very next Sunday, the octave, when Thomas finally sees Jesus in that same Upper Room as the rest of the Apostles had seen Him, just that very Sunday before.

Now recall the words of Jesus on the last and greatest (octave) day of that Feast of Tabernacles, “let him drink who (believes) in Me….” Now what did Jesus say to St. Thomas? “Blessed are those who have not seen and have (believed)”. Souls must believe to be blessed. The complete scenario of these two events has very great meaning. The Lord is showing us the importance of (believing) and trusting in Him in order to receive His (blessings) or, in other words, His grace.
more...

Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Catholic Culture
« March 26, 2009 »


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 26, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Merciful Father, may the penance of our lenten observance make us your obedient people. May the love within us be seen in what we do and lead us to the joy of Easter. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Guided by the teachings of the Church through its admirable liturgy and the interior action of the Holy Spirit, souls ought to penetrate, to feel and almost to live, during these holy days, the unutterable sufferings of Jesus, immense as man's iniquity, the justice of God, and the love of His Heart. Souls ought to venerate and love that purity which impelled by divine love, is transformed into inconceivable pain for blotting out the sins of the world. —Liturgical Preludes, Most Reverend Luis M. Martinez, D.D.

Stational Church
more...

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

President of Cyprus to Visit Benedict XVI

Community of Sant'Egidio Helping Country's Unification

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is planning to receive the president of the Republic of Cyprus, Demetris Christofias, in the midst of the country's negotiations for reunification.

Today, the Embassy of Cyprus to the Holy See reported that this visit to the Pope on Friday "aims at keeping and strengthening the existing good relations between Cyprus and the Holy See."

The president will be accompanied by his wife, Elsie, and the minister for foreign affairs, Markos Kyprianou. After greeting the Pontiff, the president will meet with the Pope's Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

The embassy reported that this visit takes place during the negotiations being carried out since early 2008, to find a solution to the division of the country. It noted that the Community of Sant'Egidio has played an important role in this process.

The president and his entourage are scheduled to have dinner on Friday with Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Sant'Egidio Community, before returning to Cyprus.
more...

Annunciation: The mystery of man's reconciliation with God

By Pope Saint Leo the Great
3/25/2009
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.Thus the Son of God enters this lowly world.


One and the same person – this must be said over and over again – is truly the Son of God and truly the son of man. He is God in virtue of the fact that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He is man in virtue of the fact that the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.

CHESAPEAKE, Va. (Catholic Online) - On this Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord we offer these inspired words from Pope St. Leo the Great for our readers:

From a letter by Saint Leo the Great, pope, The mystery of man's reconciliation with God

Lowliness is assured by majesty, weakness by power, mortality by eternity. To pay the debt of our sinful state, a nature that was incapable of suffering was joined to one that could suffer. Thus, in keeping with the healing that we needed, one and the same mediator between God and men, the man Jesus Christ, was able to die in one nature, and unable to die in the other.

He who is true God was therefore born in the complete and perfect nature of a true man, whole in his own nature, whole in ours. By our nature we mean what the Creator had fashioned in us from the beginning, and took to himself in order to restore it.

For in the Saviour there was no trace of what the deceiver introduced and man, being misled, allowed to enter. It does not follow that because he submitted to sharing in our human weakness he therefore shared in our sins.

He took the nature of a servant without stain of sin, enlarging our humanity without diminishing his divinity. He emptied himself; though invisible he made himself visible, though Creator and Lord of all things he chose to be one of us mortal men. Yet this was the condescension of compassion, not the loss of omnipotence. So he who in the nature of God had created man, became in the nature of a servant, man himself.
more...

Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord

Catholic Culture
« March 25, 2009 »

Old Calendar: Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 25, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: God our Father, your Word became man and was born of the Virgin Mary. May we become more like Jesus Christ, whom we acknowledge as our redeemer, God and man. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Again Lent's austerity is interrupted as we solemnly keep a feast in honor of the Annunciation. The Annunciation is a mystery that belongs to the temporal rather than to the sanctoral cycle in the Church's calendar. For the feast commemorates the most sublime moment in the history of time, the moment when the Second Divine Person of the most Holy Trinity assumed human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Thus it is a feast of our Lord, even as it is of Mary, although the liturgy centers wholly around the Mother of God. — The Church's Year of Grace, Pius Parsch

Stational Church
more...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Vast protest against Obama commencement address at Notre Dame gathers pace

Telegraph.co.uk

Damian Thompson

Holy Smoke








Posted By: Damian Thompson at Mar 24, 2009 at 01:34:44

Oh boy, have those Catholics who suck up to Barack Obama got a PR problem on their hands. As of tonight, 40,000 people - mostly Catholics - have signed a petition condemning the decision to ask the manically pro-abortion President to give the commencement address at Notre Dame University on May 17.



"Help Stop the Scandal at Our Lady's University" reads the message of this website, which gives out the phone number and email address of Fr John Jenkins, president of the historic Catholic institution in South Bend, Indiana.

The petition doesn't mince its words:

It is an outrage and a scandal that "Our Lady’s University," one of the premier Catholic universities in the United States, would bestow such an honor on President Obama given his clear support for policies and laws that directly contradict fundamental Catholic teachings on life and marriage.

This nation has many thousands of accomplished leaders in the Catholic Church, in business, in law, in education, in politics, in medicine, in social services, and in many other fields who would be far more appropriate choices to receive such an honor from the University of Notre Dame.

Instead Notre Dame has chosen prestige over principles, popularity over morality. Whatever may be President Obama’s admirable qualities, this honor comes on the heels of some of the most anti-life actions of any American president, including expanding federal funding for abortions and inviting taxpayer-funded research on stem cells from human embryos.

Other, more mildly worded petitions are also circulating, which don't call for Obama to be disinvited; but the version above, which does, is gathering tremendous pace.

Embarrassed, Fr Jenkins? You should be. Catholics who genuflect to Obama are, to use an Australian term, lower than shark's poo. Remember: this president is not just pro-choice; he is the most militantly pro-abortion politician ever to be elected to Congress. Universities that support a woman's right to late-term abortions should indeed honour this man. Those that don't, such as Catholic universities, shouldn't.

To sign, click here. I just have.
continue on, for comments...

See also these articles:

Petition against Obama's Notre Dame Honor Skyrockets Past 75,000 Signatures in Four Days

Notre Dame's Bishop Will Not Attend Obama-Honoring Graduation, Criticizes University's Decision

Bishop D'Arcy Will Not Attend Notre Dame Graduation

03/24/2009 - A Universal Salvific Mission

Today's message of a series of Catholic Culture Insights from Dr. Jeff Mirus, President, Trinity Communications:

The Pope's apostolic visit to Africa provides an outstanding opportunity to appreciate the Church's special love for the people in each region of the world in the context of her universal salvific mission. Here, for convenience, are Benedict XVI's addresses during his current trip:

Press Conference en Route to Cameroon
Reflection on St. Joseph at Vesper Service in Cameroon
Words to Cameroon Muslim Leaders
Africa Can Become the Continent of Hope
Publication of the "Instrumentum Laboris"
Meeting with the Special Council of the Synod for Africa
Meeting with the Sick at Yaounde
Farewell Address at Nsimalen Airport
Angola: Continue Peace-Building and Reconstruction
Meeting the Bishops of Angola and Sao Tome
Homily at Angola's São Paolo Church
Address to Youth at Dos Coqueiros Stadium
Address to Political & Civil Authorities in Luanda
Address to Movements on Promotion of Women
Comments at the Recitation of the Angelus in Luanda
Homily at Mass in Cimangola
Farewell Ceremony at Luanda Airport

That's probably enough to keep anyone busy, but I'd also like to call your attention today to two other items. First, I have a point to make on the brouhaha over the Pope's comments on the dangers of using condoms to fight AIDS, made at the beginning of his African excursion. See Moral Hazard.
more...

Indian bishop: pope's request for Via Crucis meditations shows love for Asia

» 03/24/2009 14:48
INDIA

by Nirmala Carvalho

Archbishop Menamparampil tells AsiaNews about his reaction to the announcement. For Good Friday, he recommends looking at Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate. His courage and serenity should inspire our lives today: we are not a persecuted Church, but a people of hope.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - "I have drawn much inspiration from the fearlessness of Christ before Pontius Pilate, who was at that moment in history the most powerful force, as he represented the Roman emperor. Christ was able to stand fearlessly only because of his inner rectitude and inner uprightness and the confidence and guarantee that he was sustained by Truth."

Thomas Menamparampil, archbishop of Guwahati, tells AsiaNews about how he approached the task entrusted to him by the pope, of writing the meditations for the Via Crucis on Good Friday at the Colosseum.

Menamparampil heard the news while he was in Mariampur, in the state of Assam, with 260 young candidates, postulants, and novices from 11 religious congregations and seminaries in his diocese. The bishop says "I was overwhelmed to be asked," and sees this choice by Benedict XVI as a sign that "His Holiness regards very highly the identity of Asia," "the cradle of civilization," "moreover, our Holy Father has a prophetic vision for Asia, a continent much cherished by him and his pontificate."

For the Indian bishop, the image of Jesus in front of Pontius Pilate is an exhortation for all Christians today, and especially those of India. "At that time in history, it was ‘culturally’ unthinkable for a person of such a humble background (like Christ) to stand so fearlessly before Pilate. Yet, Jesus stood alone before Pontius Pilate with a deep conviction and calmness, his attitude was calm and reflected his own inner rectitude and serenity. Christ was non-aggressive and non-threatening and completely unafraid, without playing victim and devoid of anxiety. This fearlessness of Christ is the inspiration of our lives and situation - not a persecuted Church, but a Church with a future, a people with a future, a people with Hope."

A faith that is solid and anchored in the message of the Gospel is "a major source of hope in hard times." Menamparampil confirms that he wanted to mention various places in the meditations for the Via Crucis, "from the Himalayas to the Alps and Americas. May the message of Christ echo to all the ends and corners of the world to enrich humanity." Archbishop Menamparampil, who is also the chairman of the Federation of Asian Bishops' Conference Commission for Evangelisation, says that he is convinced that "living out our faith leads to an enhanced human development in every field of life." And "a person with deep faith," the bishop asserts, "will be able to enrich society through development and also build bridges of understanding, peace and harmony."

Pope reflects on moments of joy-filled Africa trip

Aboard the papal plane, Mar 24, 2009 / 10:38 am (CNA).- En route to Rome from Africa, Pope Benedict spoke with journalists about his impressions of the African Church. The Holy Father said that he was impressed with the awareness of the sacred at the liturgies, the powerful sense of belonging to the family of God amongst Africans and his encounter with the suffering.

During his six-day visit to Cameroon and Angola, Pope Benedict said that he was particularly impressed by "this almost exuberant cordiality, this delight, of a rejoicing Africa."

The awareness of the connection between the faithful and the universal Church through Peter’s successor was also evident to Benedict XVI. "I felt they saw in the Pope ... the personification of the fact that we are the children and the family of God. This family exists and we, with all our limitations, are part of it, and God is with us."

Perhaps thinking of World Youth Day gatherings, the Pope related that he was "also moved by the spirit of meditative absorption in liturgy, the powerful sense of the sacred; in the liturgies there was no self-presentation of groups, no self-animation, but the presence of the sacred, of God Himself; even the movements were always movements of respect and awareness of the divine presence."

One incident that deeply affected the Pope was the death of two young women who were trampled at the gathering for youth on Saturday.

"I was also profoundly affected by the death of two girls during the stampede of people entering the Stadio dos Coqueiros, on Saturday. I prayed, and continue to pray, for them. ... All of us pray and hope that in the future things may be organized in such a way that this does not happen again."

Benedict XVI also explained that his meeting with the physically disabled and those suffering from traumatic experiences would remain with him as a "special memory." At the Cardinal Leger Centre, the Pope said, "it touched my heart to see a world of so much suffering, all the suffering, sadness and poverty of human existence; but also to see how State and Church work together to help those who suffer.

"It is, I believe, evident that by helping the suffering man becomes more human, the world becomes more human."
more...

Scientific studies vindicate Pope: Condom distribution linked to HIV increase

>» 03/19/2009 19:01
VATICAN

AIDS and the ‘threat’ posed by the Catholic Church
by Bernardo Cervellera

Rome (AsiaNews) – The “scourge [of AIDS] cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem,” said the Pope. Since he made the statement criticism has been voiced around the world for his alleged lack of sensitivity towards the tragic epidemic that is affecting many parts of the world, especially Africa.

Dutch Development Cooperation Minister Bert Koenders said the Pope’s remarks were “extraordinarily harmful and serious” and “making matters worse.” France’s foreign minister said that Benedict XVI’s words “put in danger public health policies and the imperative of protecting human life”. Germany’s health minister said that it would be “irresponsible” to deny “the poorest of the poor” the use of condoms.

So much (fake) humanitarianism by representatives of European governments is especially irrational and unscientific. The United Nations AIDS agency (UNAIDS) in a 2003 study indicated that condoms are ineffective in protecting against HIV an estimated 10 per cent of the time. Other studies have suggested that failure rates might be as high as 50 per cent.

In Thailand, Dr Somchai Pinyopornpanich, deputy head of the Disease Control Department in Bangkok, said that 46.9 per cent of men and 39.1 per cent of women who use condom are infected by HIV-AIDS.

When the Pope said “we risk worsening the problem,” statistics bear that out. Countries like South Africa, which have embraced safe sex and condom use with support from the United Nations, the European Union and non-governmental organisations have seen AIDS explode. Countries that have promoted abstinence and fidelity have cut infection rates.
more...

AllAfrica

Africa: Are World Media Fighting Pope Benedict XVI?
Henry Makori
24 March 2009
opinion

A priest I spoke to last week was so incensed by the media's coverage of Pope Benedict's comments on condoms he wished, jokingly though, that the Vatican would next time bar reporters of a certain international news organization from the papal plane.

The media house was among the first to report the pope's rejection of condoms to combat HIV. The pope spoke to reporters on his plane en route to Cameroon.

His comments sparked widely reported protests by HIV/Aids activists and some governments, nearly overshadowing whatever else the pontiff said on his first apostolic trip to Africa. The Vatican later issued a clarification.

The HIV/Aids scourge, the pope had said, "cannot be resolved by distributing condoms; quite the contrary, we risk worsening the problem. The solution can only come through a twofold commitment: firstly, the humanization of sexuality, in other words a spiritual and human renewal bringing a new way of behaving towards one another; and secondly, true friendship, above all with the suffering, a readiness - even through personal sacrifice - to stand by those who suffer".

Anything radical in that statement? Everyone knows that condoms are not the best guard against HIV and that the surest way to avoid infection is abstinence for the unmarried and fidelity within marriage. Moreover, Catholic opposition to condoms is well known, and no one would reasonably expect the pope to state otherwise.

Were the pope's remarks misrepresented by hostile secular media? A quick look at the reports reveals that they generally did not differ much from the clarification offered by the Holy See. Why then did the comment draw so much fire?
more...

Papal Preacher: Holy Spirit Empowers Us to Love

3/24/2009
Zenit News Agency (http://www.zenit.org/)

This love is the love with which God loves us and by which, at the same time, we are made capable of loving him and our neighbor.


What is meant by the fact that the Holy Spirit descends on the Church on the very day when Israel commemorated the gift of the law and the covenant?

VATICAN CITY (Zenit) - The Holy Spirit is the new law, working through charity in our hearts to enable us to be faithful to our love for God, says the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa said this Friday in his second Lenten sermon for 2009, given to the Curia at the Vatican. The theme of the sermon was " The Law of the Spirit That Gives Life: The Holy Spirit, the New Law of Christians."

Pentecost, he pointed out, was not a new feast for the Jews, who celebrated the gift of the law on Mount Sinai and the covenant, but Jesus came to enrich the day with a new meaning.

The preacher asked, "What is meant by the fact that the Holy Spirit descends on the Church on the very day when Israel commemorated the gift of the law and the covenant?"

He answered that the Spirit descends on the apostles on the day of Pentecost "to point out that he is the new law, the spiritual law that seals the new and eternal covenant and that consecrates the royal and priestly people that are the Church."

Thus, he noted, the "law of the Spirit" is "the law that he inscribes in hearts on Pentecost."
more...

For the full text of his sermon, see yesterday's post: "Father Cantalamessa's 2nd Lenten Sermon."

Seven Deadly Sins: Anger or Wrath

By Jeri Holladay
3/24/2009

Catholic Online (http://www.catholic.org/)

What drives anger? All the deadly sins work together, and anger, pride and envy form a particularly unholy alliance. At its core, however, anger may also be fueled by fear and insecurity.


Hot or cold, passive or aggressive, anger usually desires to punish or hurt others in some way. But anger can also turn inward, particularly when the angry person feels he/she is a powerless victim of his situation. Depression and even suicide is sometimes connected to repressed anger.

WICHITA, Kansas (Catholic Online) - They are driving along when she sees a text message from a previous girlfriend. An argument ensues, during which he bashes her head into the window of their Lamborghini and punches her repeatedly in the face.

A gunman walks into a church and starts shooting. Road rage rides the highways and aggression patrols the hallways of neighborhood schools. Many who would never openly express their hostility secretly enjoy seeing others do so on TV or in movies. With the crumbling economy and rising unemployment, we seem to have given ourselves permission to be furious.

The Church is careful to distinguish emotions, which arise unbidden and dissipate just as quickly, from the choice to nurture or act on these feelings. Mental rehearsals of angry exchanges keep the embers glowing, while the violence, cursing, belittling, and verbal abuse that periodically erupts reveals that the vice of anger simmers inside.

Like all of the deadly sins, anger (or wrath) is a potential rooted in the fallen nature of every person. Anger is deeply self-centered, impatient with the weaknesses of others and often driven by an aggrieved sense of entitlement rising up in response to real or imagined injury. It causes the breakdown of marriages, families, and friendships.
more...

Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Lent

Catholic Culture
« March 24, 2009 »

Old Calendar: St. Gabriel, archangel


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 24, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Father, may our Lenten observance prepare us to embrace the paschal mystery and to proclaim your salvation with joyful praise. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


The Liturgy continues to impress us with the hatred which the enemy of God has for his Anointed. We are not surprised at the opposition the Church has to go through, because Christ and his Church are one: the Whole Christ. He himself said at the last discourse before his Passion: "If they have persecuted me they will persecute you also. If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before you." (John 15:20, 18). — St. Andrew Bible Mission

According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, today is the feast of St. Gabriel. His feast in the Ordinary Form of the Roman Rite is celebrated on September 29 which is also the feast of Sts. Michael and Raphael.

Stational Church
more...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Solidarity among generations, nations and continents is the first challenge, says Pope

» 03/23/2009 12:39
VATICAN – AFRICA

Upon his departure from Africa Benedict XVI calls on the continent’s leaders to take care of those who “suffer for lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods.” May violence “never prevail over dialogue, nor fear and discouragement over trust, nor rancour over fraternal love.”

Luanda (AsiaNews) – Solidarity is the “first challenge to overcome”, that is solidarity among generations, nations and continents, “which should lead to an ever more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources among all people.” Solidarity, reconciliation and peace with special thoughts for refugees are the rallying cry Benedict XVI leaves in Angola, Africa and the world as he prepared to conclude his first trip to Africa this morning.

A lot of people stood in front of the nunciature, the Pope’s home since Friday when he arrived from Cameroon; a lot of people lined the road that led to Luanda’s ‘4 de Fevereiro’ Airport where the Pope left; and a lot of people also waited outside the air terminal.

Here Benedict XVI made “one last appeal”. “I would ask that the just realization of the fundamental aspirations of the most needy peoples should be the principal concern of those in public office, since their intention—I am sure—is to carry out the mission they have received not for themselves but for the sake of the common good. Our hearts cannot find peace while there are still brothers and sisters who suffer for lack of food, work, shelter or other fundamental goods. If we are to offer a definite response to these fellow human beings, the first challenge to be overcome is that of building solidarity: solidarity between generations, solidarity between nations and between continents, which should lead to an ever more equitable sharing of the earth’s resources among all people.”

The farewell ceremony was very low key. The Pope made his way through two rows of boy and girl scouts, almost like a tribute to the two scouts who died last Friday at Dos Coqueiros Stadium, crushed by the crowd. Indeed President José Eduardo dos Santos referred to them in his speech in which he thanked Benedict XVI for the solidarity he showed on that occasion.

The Pope thanked all those who made his visit a success. He thanked God that the Church he found is so alive and “and full of enthusiasm, despite the difficulties, able to take up its own cross and that of others, bearing witness before everyone to the saving power of the Gospel message. She continues to proclaim that the time of hope has come, and she is committed to bringing peace and promoting the exercise of fraternal charity in a way that is acceptable to all, respecting the ideas and sensitivities of each person.”

“I ask God to grant his protection and assistance to the countless refugees who have fled their country, and are now at large, waiting to be able to return home. The God of Heaven says to them once again: “Even if a woman should forget the child at her breast, yet I will not forget you’ (Is, 49:15). God loves you like sons and daughters; he watches over your days and your nights, your labours and your aspirations.”

“Dear Brothers and Sisters, friends from Africa, dear Angolans, take heart! Never tire of promoting peace, making gestures of forgiveness and working for national reconciliation, so that violence may never prevail over dialogue, nor fear and discouragement over trust, nor rancour over fraternal love. This is all possible if you recognize one another as children of the same Father, the one Father in Heaven.”

For the whole of Africa, the rendezvous is in Rome, for the 2nd Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to the continent.

Father Cantalamessa's 2nd Lenten Sermon

"The Law Is at the Service of Love and Defends It"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the second Lenten sermon Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher of the Pontifical Household, gave Friday at the Vatican in the presence of the Curia.

* * *

"The Law of The Spirit That Gives Life"

The Holy Spirit, the new law of Christians

1. The law of the Spirit and Pentecost

The way in which the Apostle begins his discussion of the Holy Spirit in Chapter 8 of the letter to the Romans is truly surprising: "Thus, condemnation will never come to those who are in Christ Jesus, because the law of the Spirit which gives life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death." He spent the entire preceding chapter using positive and uplifting words in describing the law. "The law of the Spirit" means the law that is the Spirit; the term is a genitive of apposition, or of definition; such as the phrase the flower of the rose refers to the flower that is itself a rose.

In order to understand what Paul means through this brief expression we need to refer to the event of Pentecost. In the Acts of the Apostles the story about the coming of the Holy Spirit begins with the words: "When Pentecost day came round, they had all met together" (Acts 2: 1). We deduce from these words that Pentecost predated... Pentecost. In other words, there already was a Pentecost feast day within Judaism and that was the feast day when the Holy Spirit descended.

There were fundamentally two different interpretations of the feast of Pentecost in the Old Testament. In the beginning Pentecost was the feast of the seven weeks (ref. Tobit 2:1), the feast of the harvest (ref. Numbers 28:26), when the first fruits were offered to God (ref. Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 16:9). Then afterward, in the time of Jesus, the feast was enriched with a new meaning: it was the feast of the giving of the law on Mount Sinai and of the covenant; in essence, the feast that celebrated the events described in Exodus chapters 19 and 20. (In fact, according to calculations based on the bible text, the law as given on Sinai fifty days after Passover).

Pentecost was transformed from being a feast tied to nature's cycles (the harvest) into a feast tied to salvation history: "This day of the feast of the weeks is the time of the gift of our Torah" says a text from the current Jewish liturgy. When they left Egypt the people walked for fifty days in the desert and, at the end of these, God gave Moses the law. Based on the law he established a covenant with the people and made them "a kingdom of priests and a holy people." (Ref. Exodus 19:4-6)

It seems like Luke purposefully described the descent of the Holy Spirit using terms that characterized the theophany of Sinai. In fact he used images that call to mind earthquakes and fire. The Church's liturgy confirms this interpretation by putting Exodus 19 among the readings of the Pentecost vigil.

What does this juxtaposition tell us about our Pentecost? In other words, what is meant by the fact that the Holy Spirit descends on the Church on the very day when Israel commemorated the gift of the law and the covenant? Even St. Augustine asked himself this question: "Why do even the Jews celebrate Pentecost? This is a great and marvelous mystery brothers: if you realize, on the day of Pentecost they received the law written by God's hand and on the same day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came."[1]

Another Father of the Church, this time from the East, helps us see that this interpretation of Pentecost was a common patrimony of the whole Church during the first centuries: "The law was given on the day of Pentecost; it was appropriate then that on the day when the old law was given, the same day the grace of the Spirit be also given."[2]
more...

Memorial of St. Turibio de Mogrovejo, bishop

Catholic Culture
« March 23, 2009 »


Daily Readings (on USCCB site):
»
March 23, 2009
(will open a new window)

Collect: Lord, through the apostolic work of St. Turibio and his unwavering love of truth, you helped your Church to grow. May your chosen people continue to grow in faith and holiness. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


St. Turibio, a Spaniard, served God from his infancy. Appointed Archbishop of Lima, he landed in South America in 1581. He died March 23, 1606, having, by his indefatigable zeal and by the boundlessness of his charity, literally renewed the face of the Church of Peru. According to the 1962 Missal of Bl. John XXIII the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite his feast is celebrated on April 27.

Stational Church
more...