"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." 2 Chronicles 7:14
Palestinian Christians Face Growing Difficulties
Meeting Humanity's Need For Food Continues To Challenge World
In Defense of Life: A Turn Around
The Chronicles of Narnia Movies Begin
Prison To Praise: Ice Water In Hell
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
Pray the News
The Holy See pointed to growing difficulties faced by Palestinian Christians in an intervention at a United Nations meeting in New York on November 1, on the subject of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.
Mons. Celestino Migliore spoke on behalf of the Vatican, stating:
"My delegation, having carefully reviewed the Report of the Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), expresses once again its appreciation for the work of the Agency during this time of significant challenges.
"The Holy See willingly acknowledges the help that UNRWA offers all Palestinian refugees, without discrim-ination or reference to their religion, as is only just. Nevertheless, we are obliged this year to draw attention to the growing difficulties faced by Palestinian Christians who, although they belong to a faith born in that very land, are sometimes viewed with suspicion by their neighbors. Doubly discriminated against, it is hardly surprising to learn that this tiny group – less than 2% of the local Palestinian population – is particularly marginalized.
"All Palestinians have the right to fair and fair-minded treatment from their peers and from the recognized authorities alike. Religious extremism of any kind, implicated in attacks, abuse, and harassment of Christians in the area around Bethlehem recently, is not to be tolerated. No matter who is targeted by violence and bigotry, such acts are a stain on the conscience of peoples. It is thus the hope of my delegation that solutions will be found by local leaderships which will address the needs of all the members of local communities who suffer from violence.
"Moreover, of ongoing concern is the security wall which cuts access to some Palestinians' lands and water sources, as well as to employment, commerce, education, medical care, and freedom of worship. My delegation freely acknowledges the right of all peoples to live in peace and security; on the other hand, we believe that the Holy Land is in greater need of bridges than of walls.
"In the hope that the many problems of the region will be resolved by negotiation and dialogue, my delegation underlines that a lasting solution will include the question of the Holy City of Jerusalem. In light of the numerous incidents of violence and the challenge to free movement posed by the security wall, the Holy See renews its support for '. . . internationally guaranteed provisions to ensure the freedom of religion and of conscience of its inhabitants, as well as permanent, free, and unhindered access to the Holy Places by the faithful of all religions and nationalities' (A/RES/ES-10/2).
"Jerusalem is the acknowledged home of the three Abrahamic faiths, and whoever has custody of the Holy City has a particular responsibility for it before the international community. Borrowing the recent words of Pope Benedict XVI, we hope that Jerusalem will one day be 'a home of harmony and peace' for all believers.
"The time is long overdue for fraternal, open dialogue in order to bring about the birth of two states, side by side, mutually respecting each other's right to exist and prosper. There have already been far too many innocent victims, be they Israeli or Palestinian, Jews, Christians, and Moslems alike. Only with a just and lasting peace – not imposed, but secured through negotiation – will the legitimate aspirations of all the peoples of the Holy Land be fulfilled."
Humanity continues to be challenged by the need to make further progress in meeting the need for development to meet the nutritional needs of all people.
The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano spoke before the FAO at its Rome headquarters on October 17.
Cardinal Sodano stated:
"I am pleased to be taking part in this extraordinary assembly to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. I convey to you all the respectful greeting of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, who has asked me to convey to you all his cordial good wishes for the success of your work.
"Today, we are recording an important anniversary. It reminds us of the felicitous occasion of the establishment of the FAO that came into being to free humanity from the specter of hunger by promoting agricultural projects in every country, with an effective cooperation between States.
"This is an ever timely goal. Indeed, it is becoming more urgent than ever in the face of a world situation in which peoples are affected by terrible and recurrent food crises, whereas there are other countries whose abundant production gives rise to numerous questions regarding their lifestyle.
"Today, the FAO is faced by a world which, despite certain painful divisions, expresses a growing need to focus together on common objectives in order to give a sense of solidarity to the coexistence of the human family.
"I therefore feel I should offer special thanks to all who work at the FAO and in particular to you, Mr. Director General, to whom I once again express my deepest gratitude for the ongoing commitment to such an important sector as that of food and agriculture.
"One date escapes no one: the establishment of the FAO coincides with the formation of the larger 'family of Nations' with whose ideals the Organization is associated, as is clearly emphasized by the harmony between the key principles that govern its Constitutions and those contained in the United Nations Charter.
"To promote agricultural development and the formation of conditions that fully guarantee the fundamental right to nutrition is a crucial contribution to the cause of international security, hence, to peace. In founding the FAO on October 16, 1945, the International Community did not only express the wish to reinforce an effective cooperation between the States in such a fundamental sector as agriculture, but also gave a hint of its intention to find ways of guaranteeing sufficient food for the whole world through a rational sharing of the fruits of the earth.
"Today, 60 years later, we must not allow the enormous difficulties still inherent in this task to undermine the firmness of the commitment.
"The celebration of an anniversary is a time to reflect on what has been achieved so far and on the obstacles that stand in the way of future action. In practical terms, what factors are preventing international action from changing the world situation towards a dimension worthy of the human person?
"It is well known that it is possible at a global level to make sufficient food available to satisfy the needs of all. So why do so many people risk dying of starvation?
"There are many reasons for this paradoxical situation in which abundance and scarcity live side by side. One consists in the fact that certain forms of development aid are subordinate to the actuation on the part of poorer countries of structural-adjustment policies in order to allow them access to the market of agricultural products. Then in the more developed countries, there is a consumer culture that tends to exalt false needs to the detriment of real ones.
"An effective campaign against hunger therefore requires far more than a mere indication of the correct functioning of market mechanisms or techniques for obtaining higher standards of food production.
"It is becoming necessary, first of all, to rediscover the meaning of the human being in his or her individual and community dimension, starting with family life, where a sense of solidarity and sharing is born. I have before me the example of the rural family called to handle the small family business with its work, but also to pass on the idea of relations based on the exchange of reciprocal knowledge, values, prompt assistance, and respect. This picture corresponds well with the need to build relations between peoples on the basis of a constant and authentic availability, which can prepare every country to satisfy the necessities of those in need.
"Distinguished Authorities, the Catholic Church is close to you in your endeavors at the service of the common good, as is testified by the attention with which the Holy See has followed the FAO's activity since 1948. In celebrating this 60th anniversary with you, the Apostolic See desires to assure you of its constant support in your commitment to the human cause, which in practice means openness to life, respect for the order of creation, and adherence to those ethical principles that have always been at the root of social life.
"My hope is also addressed to all who work at every level to guarantee the efficacy of the Organization's action: it is the wish that they may be able to convey in their contribution through their technical and professional service not only excellency, but also relations of true friendship that are expressed in sincere esteem for the different traditions and cultures of the earth's peoples.
"The Prophet Isaiah proclaimed the dawn of universal peace, linking it to an image that has great significance for the FAO: there will be peace, in fact, when the peoples 'beat their swords into plow-shares and their spears into pruning hooks' (Is 2:4).
"These words suggest the fight against hunger as a priority commitment that aims to provide everyone with the means to earn his or her daily bread, instead of channeling resources to conflicts and wars. The more that is spent on weapons, the less there is for the hungry.
"The fight against hunger is the arduous task to which you, who are responsible for the FAO, are called, together with the organizers of the World Food Program. Through me, Pope Benedict XVI sends you his warm encouragement for this commitment at the service of the international community.
"May Almighty God, Giver of all good things, pour out abundant Blessings upon your work."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
The red 5:15 on the alarm clock stared back at me, while it screeched, demanding that I get up and get moving. All the while I was pondering, "Why am I doing this?" I somehow vaguely remember moving from the hotel room to Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, and then wondering how I was going to even stay awake through the 6 a.m. Mass.
At the arrival of about 100 students, the Franciscan priest began Mass. Father commented on the sanctity of all human life and our call to give witness. Prayers were offered for young mothers contemplating an abortion, for those who fail in offering her true advice and support, for those who profit from the destruction of an unborn child, and especially for the unborn children.
After the final blessing, the students divided into their cars, anxious to get to their destination. With my daughter, Monica, and with Jessica, a pre-pharmacy student from Montana, I drove out of Steubenville through a dense fog and headed toward Pittsburgh, all the while thinking, "What motivates these college students to do this?"
Within a half hour, rugged Pittsburgh greeted us through the fog, as we continued driving through the streets of this city which had already become alive with traffic, to arrive at a simple building.
After the students greeted each other, they took their positions.
"Wait a minute. Wait a minute," I thought. "Wasn't anybody going to stop and get something to eat for breakfast, not even a doughnut?"
A majority of the students lined up along the sidewalk, and commenced bombarding the abortion clinic on the opposite side of this narrow street with a quiet barrage of prayers and hymns.
Other students, armed with literature, guarded the surrounding corners of the intersection, while a few marched in front of the clinic, waiting for an opportunity to serve.
From the doors of the abortion clinic, exited about ten people in yellow t-shirts, identified as "pro-choice escorts."
I stared at the prayer warriors lining the street, wondering, "Why do they come here and pray? Why don't they just pray in the chapel, in front of the Eucharist, where it's nice and comfortable and free of the noise from the traffic?" As the student leaders of the Rosary announced the Fifth Joyful Mystery, "Don't you know, I must be about My Father's business?" pushed its way into my thoughts. The students kept on praying.
I moved into the street to make way for a man who looked angry and frustrated, and a woman who found the sidewalk the only thing of interest at which to look. Following a footstep behind was a young girl who obviously had been crying. They walked past the abortion clinic, traveling farther down the street.
As the students had finished a long litany of other prayers before starting the Sorrowful Mysteries, I noticed again on the other side of the street the man, the woman, and the young girl, this time with some of the student sidewalk counselors offering them a brochure picturing the development of an unborn child. The father took the literature but kept walking, as the threesome were then greeted by the yellow shirt escorts who tried to block and separate the students from talking any further to this family. They disappeared through the front doors of the yellow brick abortion mill.
The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery was announced, as I thought, "This is Calvary. This is where innocent blood is shed." The group of students kept on praying, with no signs of wanting to break up or go elsewhere. They remained, as 2,000 years ago did Mary, the women who accompanied her, and St. John. "It was the other ten who always regretted that even though their presence would not have changed the outcome, they had failed Him by not being there," I reminded myself.
Reinforcements arrived. About ten seminarians from St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, along with a priest, filled out the ranks of the prayer warriors.
A young couple came from the opposite direction. Both were greeted by the students, who again offered them the literature, speaking with them as they walked toward the abortion mill. The escorts wasted no time in pushing and blocking the way of the students, in order to "protect" those coming in from receiving the truth.
As the threesome who had arrived earlier now walked out, the escorts quickly surrounded them to "protect" them from the students, who persistently tried to touch their hearts. The man and the woman were in too much of a hurry to talk. The young lady was too busy crying.
"How many little babies were going to die here today?" saddened my thoughts, depressed my emotions. "How many young girls will leave today, soon to be grieved by the death of their child, a regret that will simply not go away?"
After about an hour and a half, my legs and back, now tired of standing, told the rest of me that it was time to go. "What good will be accomplished here anyway?" Looking around, it was obvious that I would find no weakening among these students, who were now just starting the Glorious Mysteries. They didn't want to rush off to do other things on this Saturday morning. Nobody was ready to leave; the students kept on praying.
Looking up, I noticed the couple again coming out of the clinic, heavily guarded by the yellow shirts, but taking time to exchange remarks with a male student, who was the counselor closest to the entrance.
The students continued with their prayers, as I watched the clock approach 10 a.m. After a few minutes, my daughter grabbed my arm, and announced gleefully that there was a "turn around."
"A what? What is a turn around?" I questioned.
"That couple, didn't you see that couple? They came out of the clinic. Dave said that they had changed their minds," explained Monica. "The counselors are trying to get them to go to one of the pro-life pregnancy centers."
The students kept on in their prayers, finishing the Rosary, which they followed with other prayers and silent reflection.
Crossing the street, I approached Dave, a Texan, and inquired about what happened.
"I asked them if they had an abortion before, and she said she had four other abortions. I told her about Christ's mercy, and all three of us started crying. She said she would change her life."
Returning back to the other side of the street, joining the prayer warriors, I noticed a few more students arriving, which I assumed was the "second shift." It was now 10:30, and a number of the escorts had left.
The students were concluding their prayer and were now offering praise for the "turn around," for the life saved. "Each day, 4,000 American babies die by abortion," I thought. "Today it could have been 4,001, but someone was here, someone cared. Soon, this child will bless this couple."
As the original group headed back to the cars, from the seminarians and the new arrivals came the words, "the First Joyful Mystery."
With Monica and Jessica, I drove the 50 minutes back to Steubenville. Still excited about the baby saved, they discussed previous Saturdays, on which some days there were "turn arounds." They were already making plans for next Saturday.
A number of students expressed their intent on now getting something to eat before they caught a nap. I looked around at the students, and my heart filled with hope. They had given up their Saturday morning; they were as tired as I was; and they were filled with joy.
Next year when the University again has Parent Weekend, I am going to get up and make that 6 a.m. Mass, and join those students praying in front of the abortion clinic so I can once again experience the joy of their sacrifice to Jesus for His "unwanted" children, whom these students greatly loved.
To the baby who was "turned around," Merry Christmas!
by Michael Halm
This December the first of a projected series of the high-budget adaptations of C. S. Lewis' classic The Chronicles of Narnia will begin. The first film, The Narnia Chronicles: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, will premiere in New Zealand where it was made (as were the films of Lewis' friend J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Ring trilogy). It premiers on December 8th, the feast of the Immaculate Conception, there as well as simultaneously in Germany, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, and the next day in the United States.
The rights to adapt all seven books in Lewis' series has been granted by his stepson Douglas Gresham. MovieFone calls it "sheer cinematic gold," not only because of the first film, but because of the promise. As it puts it, there is in the popular series "enough to fill movie screens for the next decade – at least."
Unlike the Harry Potter series of books and films, they depict witchcraft as evil and family as good. As Lewis quoted Wisdom as saying in his The Pilgrim's Regress, "For this end I made your senses and for this end your imagination, that you might see my face and live." This brings to mind Pope John Paul II's admonition to look upon His face.
Tilda Swinton, who plays the evil White Witch, says that "This is not a religious film." Pastor Jarvis Ward, who watched a preview, however says, "It has a gospel message." Like Jesus' parables, believers can see and unbelievers cannot, but might yet.
In Lewis' own words from the book, "Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning. . .which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again."
This is just what Andrew Adamson, the film's director, noted for Shrek and Shrek 2, says he was trying to do. "I really wanted to bring the world of Narnia to life how I imagined it as a child.
"To me," he says, "the main messages are that of family, sacrifice, and forgiveness. I can't think of more relevant messages for today."
The basic plot elements cannot be denied that Aslan, who created and maintains the existence of Narnia, dies and rises from the dead to save it, that the leader of Narnia is Peter, Aslan's representative, that Narnia – and our own world that we think we know – is just a shadow of the Real World.
Governor Jeb Bush has promoted a reading contest before the movie comes out though ninety million have already read The Chronicles. There are already posters, costumes, and companion storybooks available for Christmas presents. SermonCentral.com has a Narnia-based sermon contest whose prize is a trip for two to London. The multi-hundred -million-dollar film is being marketed by Motive Marketing, which also marketed Mel Gibson's record-breaking The Passion of the Christ and distributed by Disney.
Walter Hooper, Lewis' biographer, now a convert to the Catholic Church, recently shared on Eternal Word Television (EWTN) of his own visit to Narnia. The Italian town of Narni on the river Nar, formerly called Narnia, is home to Bl. Lucia of Narnia. "Coincidentally" this is the same as the name of Lewis' goddaughter, Lucy Barfield, to whom he dedicated the book, and his heroine, Lucy Eve's Daughter.
There has been an Emmy-winning animated version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and a BBC version of four of the books, including Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair. Until the high-quality film versions of The Horse and His Boy, The Magician's Nephew, the prequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and the climactic The Last Battle come out in the theaters, you can always read and re-read the books. Generations of visitors to Narnia, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve, have encountered giants and dragons. Talking Animals and mythic creatures, even new ones like marshwiggles, had great adventures and fought and won just wars, and ultimately arrived at the unimaginably glorious Land of Aslan.
As Lewis concluded, "All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."
by Louis Templeman
(Editor's note: Mr. Templeman writes from prison. He is a student in Guadalupe Bible College, part of Presentation Ministries.)
That difficult, anxiety-filled week prior to my sentencing hearing I had two special encounters arranged by the Holy Spirit to prepare me for my entry into prison. I did not want fantasy. I needed a faith that was courageous in the face of a harsh reality.
First, I had a short, simple dream. In my dream I was staring into the face of a woman. Very attractive, very sad. Looking at me as if she were my mother, with an expression that exuded wisdom and compassion. I saw her from the shoulders up. Her sadness was about me. Her sorrow was sympathetic. It gave me a feeling of foreboding about my appointment in the courthouse. However, it kept me from feeling alone.
The second experience occurred as I was praying earnestly on my knees. I was asking God for a miracle. I was distraught that my life had been ruined and my reputation destroyed. Still, I wanted God to lessen the financial, spiritual, and emotional trauma to my wife and children. And, also, I was very frightened at the prospect of life in prison. I begged God to speak to me. I don't remember if I opened the scripture at random or if the reference Acts 20:23 just dropped into my thoughts. I just can't recall but I do remember the shock of these sobering words on March 6, 2002, two days before I was sentenced: ". . .that prison and trouble wait for me."
It was a prophetic word from God. It was shocking, but I accepted it. I was void of courage. I simply relinquished my fantasies and hopes for a miracle and tried to trust in God Who promised to go with me through this fire.
Once incarcerated I encountered what Joan Didion refers to as the "shallowness of sanity." My mind fell prey, automatically, to improbable, even hysterical scenarios of escape. Keeping my mind free from magical thinking became a difficult ongoing struggle.
When I was a professional counselor in the child protection field, I often met with dysfunctional parents, who in the face of shame and the loss of their children, engaged in magical thinking. Magical thinking is an emotional dysfunction that, unfortunately, can mask the practice of faith. An emotionally distraught child of a fresh divorce may say, "I'll go to bed when I should, I'll do my homework on time, and I'll be nice to my little brother and then Daddy will come home."
Most inmates practice magical thinking. To hear functionally illiterate men arrogantly spouting fine points of criminal law is to witness the futility of magical thinking. Or to hear a man you know is engaging in homosexual practices or dope smoking speak of God's personal promise to reduce his sentence is to hear what I've begun to refer to as hysterical religion, which is simply a pious mask on magical thinking.
I will not insult the Holy Spirit by referring to His promises to me as hysteria or magical thinking. However, I did have to go through some sifting of my thoughts, some bathing of my prayers in reality, as well as bathing my reality in prayer. I am confident I will have, against all odds, a successful, fulfilling, and happy second half of my life. It may or may not include a miracle of early release. I have God's promise but I do not have His schedule.
The ugly injustice of my misfortune weighs on me so. I have been treated so unfairly. My two youngest children are growing up fatherless, stigmatized by my imprisonment. My father is sick and I cannot visit him. I have missed four funerals. Another one of my adult daughters will have a wedding without her father to walk her down the aisle. I have not even met the man she plans to marry.
These are valid, stinging sorrows. They make life very difficult. Still, I have learned to discover joy. It is always there. I may as well look for it. The finding of joy in this unlikely spot has led me to the metaphor, ice water in hell. It fits nicely the serendipities I receive from fellow inmates (Christian or otherwise), from visitors, from volunteers who minister through the chapel, and from personal prayer experiences, all of which ameliorate the struggle of prison life.
This ice water strengthens and refreshes and equips me to not only find my own ice water but to have enough to share with others. I try to find opportunities to give the ice water of good works, acts of kindness, listening ear, prayers, etc, to those with whom I make personal contact. I hope you who read these short works find refreshment in what is meant as ice water from hell.
We all endure our own personal hells and stew in solitary prisons. To quote an old rock song that validates this idea: "Freedom? That's just some people talking. Your prison is walking through this world all alone."
I am learning that sorrows, struggles, and sufferings are often the doorbell that God rings to draw us to answer His call.
Recently, I received two helpings of this ice water through the mail. One, from my mother. And, one from Joe B., my correspondence school mentor.
I have a prayer I pray everyday to St. Therese of the Child Jesus. I want fellowship. I want to enjoy in the divine conversation as much as Jesus is pleased to allow me. I was thinking of her during master count. I spoke to her something like, "I want to hear from you. I believe in the Communion of the Saints but it's difficult to resist the temptation that I am playing mind games." I wanted some kind of tangible something with her signature on it.
Shortly after I prayed, the sergeant delivered my mail from Joe. In it was a letter, some inserts, and 14 pages of graded course work. It was nearly lights-out and I decided to read it on Saturday. During morning devotions my calender of Scripture readings alerted me it was the feast day of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. Later on that morning, I read Joe's mail. On one of the inserts in bold print I found: "The value of our life does not depend on the place we occupy. It depends on the way we occupy that place" – St. Therese.
Thank God for beautiful coincidences. Consider those words, that author, and the timing, from my particular perspective. Ice water, indeed!
Two days later, Monday evening, just before mail I was talking to Jesus, "Lord, I am thankful that, even in this place, I have found such contentment. I have such confidence that all my prayers and needs are covered. Nevertheless, I do wish, now and then, that You would speak specifically as to my time. Seems to me You have promised me a miraculous release, of my name being retrieved, and of meaningful work/vocation after prison. But it's been 3 1/2 years. At times I feel mocked by such promises. Am I having magical thinking? Please talk to me." I was wanting God's schedule. Just moments later, my mother's mail came.
Like Joe, she also referenced a saint. This one a Dutch Protestant, Andrew Murray: "In time of trouble say, first He brought me here; it is by His will I am in this place; in that I will rest. Next, He will keep me in His love and give me the grace in this trial to behave as His child. Then, He will make the trial a blessing teaching me the lessons He means for me to learn and working in me the grace He intends for me. Last, in His good time He can bring me out again, how and when only He knows. Say, 'I am here by God's appointment, in God's keeping, under His training for His time.'"
Please, don't think me presumptuous for saying I am lucky to be in prison. Why? Because I have to look for Jesus. When I need comfort, I cannot go get a dish of ice cream, find someone to hug me, watch a movie, play some music, etc. I have learned to be thankful for this experience. It has caused me to realize and experience how accessible Jesus is.
If the only way I could taste this ice water is to go through this hell, then this hell is worth it. You know the point I am making. We all go through our personal hells from time to time. The ice water is there. Don't go 'round thirsty.
Celebrating the Benefits of Vatican II Renewal
VATICAN CITY – In his Angelus message on November 6, Pope Benedict XVI remembered the benefits of Vatican II's Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation.
The Pope stated:
"On November 18, 1965, the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council approved the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation Dei Verbum. This Document is one of the pillars on which the entire Council is built. It addresses Revelation and its transmission, the inspiration and interpretation of Sacred Scripture and its fundamental importance in the life of the Church.
"Gathering the fruits of the theological renewal that preceded it, Vatican II put Christ at the center, presenting Him as 'both the mediator and the sum total of Revelation' (n. 2). Indeed, the Lord Jesus, the Word made flesh Who died and rose, brought to completion the work of salvation, consisting of deeds and words, and fully manifested the face and will of God so that no new public revelation is to be expected until His glorious return (cf. n. 3).
"The Apostles and their successors, the Bishops, are depositories of the message that Christ entrusted to His Church so that it might be passed on in its integrity to all generations. Sacred Scripture of the Old and New Testaments and sacred Tradition contain this message, whose understanding develops in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit.
"This same Tradition makes known the integral canon of the sacred Books. It makes them directly understandable and operative so that God, Who has spoken to the Patriarchs and Prophets, does not cease to speak to the Church and through her, to the world (cf. n. 8).
"The Church does not live for herself but for the Gospel, and it is always in the Gospel that she finds the direction for her journey.
"The conciliar Constitution Dei Verbum emphasized appreciation for the Word of God, which developed into a profound renewal for the life of the Ecclesial Community, especially in preaching, catechesis, theology, spirit-uality, and ecumenical relations. Indeed, it is the Word of God which guides believers, through the action of the Holy Spirit, towards all truth (cf. Jn 16:13).
"Among the many fruits of this biblical springtime I would like to mention the spread of the ancient practice of Lectio divina or 'spiritual reading' of Sacred Scripture. It consists in pouring over a biblical text for some time, reading it and rereading it, as it were, 'ruminating' on it as the Fathers say and squeezing from it, so to speak, all its 'juice,' so that it may nourish meditation and contemplation and, like water, succeed in irrigating life itself.
"One condition for Lectio divina is that the mind and heart be illumined by the Holy Spirit, that is, by the same Spirit Who inspired the Scriptures, and that they be approached with an attitude of 'reverential hearing.' "This attitude was typical of Mary Most Holy, as the icon of the Annunciation symbolically portrays: the Virgin receives the heavenly Messenger while she is intent on meditating upon the Sacred Scriptures, usually shown by a book that Mary holds in her hand, on her lap, or on a lectern.
"This is also the image of the Church which the Council itself offered in the Constitution Dei Verbum: 'Hearing the Word of God with reverence. . .' (n. 1).
"Let us pray that like Mary, the Church will be a humble handmaid of the divine Word and will always proclaim it with firm trust, so that 'the whole world. . .through hearing it may believe, through belief. . . may hope, through hope. . . may come to love' (ibid.)."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
40th Anniversary of the Declaration "Nostra Aetate"
VATICAN CITY – In his letter on October 26, Pope Benedict XVI's message for the 40th Anniversary of The Declaration "Nostra Aetate" was to give gratitude to the Almighty God for the witnessing of the reconciliation and improved understanding between the Christian and Jews.
The Pope stated:
"Forty years have passed since my predecessor Pope Paul VI promulgated the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Church's relation to Non-Christian Religions Nostra Aetate, which opened up a new era of relations with the Jewish People and offered the basis for a sincere theological dialogue. This anniversary gives us abundant reason to express gratitude to Almighty God for the witness of all those who, despite a complex and often painful history, and especially after the tragic experience of the Shoah, which was inspired by a neo-pagan racist ideology, worked courageously to foster reconciliation and improved understanding between Christians and Jews.
"In laying the foundations for a renewed relationship between the Jewish People and the Church, Nostra Aetate stressed the need to overcome past prejudices, misunder-standings, indifference, and the language of contempt and hostility. The Declaration has been the occasion of greater mutual understanding and respect, cooperation, and, often, friendship between Catholics and Jews. It has also challenged them to recognize their shared spiritual roots and to appreciate their rich heritage of faith in the One God, maker of heaven and earth, Who established His covenant with the Chosen People, revealed His commandments, and taught hope in those messianic promises which give confidence and comfort in the struggles of life.
"On this anniversary, as we look back over four decades of fruitful contacts between the Church and the Jewish People, we need to renew our commitment to the work that yet remains to be done. In this regard, from the first days of my Pontificate and in a particular way during my recent visit to the Synagogue in Cologne, I have expressed my own firm determination to walk in the footsteps traced by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II. The Jewish-Christian dialogue must continue to enrich and deepen the bonds of friendship which have developed, while preaching and catechesis must be committed to ensuring that our mutual relations are presented in the light of the principles set forth by the Council. As we look to the future, I express my hope that both in theological dialogue and in everyday contacts and collaboration, Christians and Jews will offer an ever more compelling shared witness to the One God and His commandments, the sanctity of life, the promotion of human dignity, the rights of the family, and the need to build a world of justice, reconciliation, and peace for future generations.
"On this anniversary I assure you of my prayers for you and your associates, and for all those who have committed themselves to fostering increased understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews in accordance with the spirit of Nostra Aetate. Upon all of you I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, joy, and peace."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
Remembering is Duty and Responsibility
NWE YORK – Mons. Celestino Migliore represented the Vatican at a meeting of the 60th General Assembly of the United Nations and spoke in support of a resolution on Holocaust Remembrance.
"Remembering is a duty and a common responsibility. This is especially true in the case of the Holocaust and so my Delegation is pleased to salute the resolution on Holocaust remembrance and to congratulate all those who sponsored it.
"The responsibility of all nations to remember gains new strength as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the extermination camps and the establishment of the United Nations.
"For 60 years we have had the horror of this kind of crime before us, in spite of which history has still repeated itself. An International Convention on the subject has not prevented the kind of thinking that leads to genocide, the violence that perpetrates genocide, the injustices that make it possible, or the interests that allow a genocide to be sustained over time. The 20th century witnessed genocides, atrocities, mass killings, and ethnic cleansings which deplorably were not confined to just one continent. As we stand before the Holocaust, it is only right that we remember and pledge the best of our collective efforts to make sure that, having named this crime, the world's nations will recognize it for what it is and prevent it in the future.
"May the Holocaust serve as a warning to prevent us from yielding to ideologies which justify contempt for human dignity on the basis of race, color, language, or religion.
"In this context, it would be well also to recall and renew our support for Security Council Resolution 1624 which both condemned 'in the strongest terms the incitement of terrorist acts' and repudiated 'attempts at the justification or glorification (apologie) of terrorist acts that may incite further terrorist acts.' It further emphasized the 'continuing international efforts to enhance dialogue and broaden understanding among civilizations, in an effort to prevent the indiscriminate targeting of different religions and cultures, and addressing unresolved regional conflicts and the full range of global issues.'
"After the Shoah, the first step towards prevention was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many more steps forward are needed. In every country the memory of the Holocaust must be preserved as a commitment to spare future generations such horror.
"During his visit to the Holy Land, the late Pope John Paul II made a point of going to Yad Vashem, the memorial to the Shoah. At the foot of the Temple's Western Wall he prayed for forgiveness and for the conversion of hearts and minds.
"Asking pardon purifies the memory, and remembering the Holocaust gives us an occasion for this purification of memory to occur, to detect early symptoms of genocide and to reject them, and to take timely and firm measures to overcome social and international injustices of all kinds.
"The program of outreach, as well as other measures, may well prove useful in this regard, in order to show that, with political will, more can be done, more can be achieved.
"The Holy See is ready to continue working in this sense."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
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