"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
Fight Against Hunger Continues
Blessed John XXIII Gives Lesson In Living
IN DEFENSE OF LIFE: Countercultural
Experience The Nativity Story
Prison To Praise: My Cloister Is A Prison Cell
Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News
Pray The News
On November 4, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations sponsored a "special event" on the "realization of the human right to food." Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council on Justice and Peace, made the following statement:
". . .Poverty is a multidimensional social phenomenon. Definitions of poverty and its causes vary by gender, age, culture, and other social and economic contexts. For example, in both rural and urban areas of the world, men associate poverty with a lack of material assets, whereas for women poverty is defined as food insecurity. Generational differences emerge as well. Younger men in some parts of the world consider the ability to generate an income as the most important asset, whereas older men in other parts of the world consider the status connected to traditional agricultural lifestyles to be most important.
"A person's status and location affect perceived causes of poverty. For example, in some areas farmers link poverty to drought; the urban poor link poverty to rising prices and fewer employment opportunities; and the rich link poverty to the deterioration in domestic and international terms of trade, neglect of time-honored customs and traditions, a lack of motivation among certain classes and groups of people, price liberalization and devaluation, lack of education, and absence of government. Poverty never results from the lack of one thing, but from many interlocking factors that manifest themselves in the experiences of the poor.
"The material aspects of poverty are well known. Hunger and food insecurity remain the core concerns. For poor families, meeting the most basic needs for food, water, and shelter can be a daily struggle; this becomes acute when there is unemployment and underemployment, or lack of productive land or other income-earning assets
"Fuelled by the insufficient availability of food, the lack of physical and economic access to food, poor biological absorption, poor health practices, and access to potable water, not to mention other political, economic, and social factors, the raging scourge of hunger continues to plague millions and millions of men, women, and children throughout the world.
"On October 19, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI sent a message to Mr. Jacques Diouf on the occasion of World Food Day. In that message, the Pope said:
'Very often, international action to combat hunger ignores the human factor, and priority is given instead to technical and socio-economic aspects. Local communities need to be involved in choices and decisions concerning land use, since farmland is being diverted increasingly to other purposes, often with damaging effects on the environment and the long-term viability of the land. If the human person is treated as the protagonist, it becomes clear that the short-term economic gains must be placed within the context of better long-term planning for food security, with regard to both quantity and quality.'
"While poverty is material in nature, it has psychological effectssuch as distress at being unable to feed one's children, or insecurity from not knowing where the next meal will come from, or shame at having to go without food. Frequently, parents relate that they deal with food insecurity by going hungry so that they will not have to see their children starve.
"We must continue to seek effective and timely solutions to the plight of people who suffer from hunger. We must work together as a human family, and as a family of nations, so that the starving and those who want for nothing, the very poor and the very rich, those who lack the necessary means, and others who lavishly waste them, no longer live side by side. Such contrasts between poverty and wealth are intolerable for humanity.
"The right to have enough to eat is fundamental and inalienable for every person and for their family. It is the task of nations, their leaders, their economic powers, and all people of good will to seek every opportunity for a more equitable sharing of resources which are not lacking, and of consumer goods; for by this sharing, all will express a true solidarity rooted in a knowledge of and appreciation for the dignity of every human person.
"In order to respond to this pressing need, there is much talk and reflection about how to achieve 'food security' for all people. Such a concept must be based on a desire for deeper solutions which flow from profound solidarity among all people. Food security must stress components such as: the production of a sufficient amount of food, a stable supply throughout the year, access to food for all, the proper and equitable distribution, and a commitment to producing the components of a balanced and healthy diet in keeping with local nutritional practices.
"Concrete efforts must be made to bring about true agrarian reform. In some countries, for example, 1% of the population controls 50% of the land. A more equitable distribution of land, with the consequent increase in participation in food production, especially by the poor, is an important component of any such solution. In this regard, the right of women to have access to land must also be strongly reaffirmed."
Cardinal Martino then gave examples of many Catholic efforts, including those of Catholic Relief Services, Jesuit Relief Services and Caritas.
Cardinal Martino continued: "On a global scale, sustainable agricultural development must be fostered by encouraging study and development of crops which produce a high yield. It is particularly important that, wherever possible, results of such development be made available to parts of the world where agricultural production is deficient. In addition, economic policies which result in an inadequate distribution of already existing food which is sufficient to feed the world's population cannot be allowed to continue.
"If the world is to have sustainable agriculture, the international community must acknowledge that peace is a prior and fundamental condition. Wars not only bring poverty, they also breed famine by forcing massive displacements of peoples and render their land either unsafe or unsuitable for growing food.
"As we consider the conditions for food security and sustainable agriculture as means to ending the scourge of hunger, we must admit that in our day there exists what the late Pope John Paul II once called 'structures of famine,' which can only be overcome with an attitude of solidarity touching on every aspect of development: formation and use of capital, investments, surpluses, and production and distribution systems. Each phase has an underlying moral and ethical dimension. Indeed, economic policies themselves cannot be separated from ethical consideration.
"Here also we find once again the demand for the universal destination of goods. The social lien on the right to private property was thereby regularly expressed in public law in order to make up for the individual failures to comply with this demand. These failures include: the excessive desire for wealth, ill-gotten profits, and so many other ways of exercising ownership, possession, and knowledge, along with the denial of the fact that created goods must always serve everyone equitably.
"All people of good will are capable of perceiving the ethical issues that are at stake and that are linked to the future of the world economy: combating hunger and malnutrition, contributing to food security and the endogenous agricultural development of developing countries, developing these countries' export potential and preserving the natural resources of planet-wide relevance.
"The Church's social teaching views all these as constituent components of the universal common good, which must be identified and fostered by the developed countries. These components must also stand as the essential objective of international economic organizations and as the challenge facing the globalization of trade. This universal common good, once it has been recognized, should be the inspiration for strengthening the legal, institutional, and political framework governing international trade. This will demand courage on the part of the leaders of social, governmental, and trade union institutions, since it is today so difficult to set the interests of each individual within a consistent vision of the common good.
"Today more than ever, in the face of recurring crises and the pursuit of narrow self-interest, there must be cooperation and solidarity between States, each of which should be attentive to the needs of its weakest citizens, who are the first to suffer from poverty. Without this solidarity, there is a risk of limiting or even impeding the world of international organizations that set out to fight hunger and malnutrition.
"Finally, again in the words of the late John Paul II, 'Individuals and whole peoples will finally be judged by history in relation to how they actually fulfill their obligation to contribute to the good of their fellow human beings. . .It is to be hoped that everyone individuals, groups, private undertakings, and public bodies will take proper care of the most needy, beginning with the basic right to satisfy one's own hunger' (Pope John Paul II, Nov. 10, 1985). Thank you."
The 44th anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Council was October 11, 2006. Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican Secretary of State, recalled the historic event in a Mass celebrating the memorial of Blessed John XXIII, who convened Vatican II in the Vatican on October 11.
Cardinal Bertone's homily follows:
"Pope John XXIII's message is still extraordinarily timely today. His life, his Discourses, and his actions bring us to the heart of the faith and the heart of Christian commitment.
"As we know, one of Pope John's most important decisions was to convoke the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, which was inaugurated on October 11, 1962, here in St. Peter's Basilica.
"I was present (indeed, by a fortunate circumstance, it was I who organized the distribution of the first Council Documents 'sub peculiari secreto' to the Council Fathers!), and I remember how the day unfolded to its extraordinary conclusion in St. Peter's Square by moonlight.
"We could recall a wealth of Pope John's teachings and episodes concerning him, but today I intend to focus on several thoughts which might be useful in our personal life and spiritual renewal.
"The Church, in his view, has a motherly face: her task is to keep 'her arms open to receive everyone.' She is a 'home for one and all' that 'desires to belong to everyone, and in particular she is the Church of the poor, like the village fountain,' with no distinctions of race or religion.
"The Church's holiness and human wisdom are expressed very clearly in what is called 'The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII':
"1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.
"2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.
"3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.
"4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.
"5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
"6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.
"7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.
"8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
"9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.
"10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
"To conclude: here is an all-embracing resolution: 'I want to be kind, today and always, to everyone.' In this way, we can put Pope John's hope for every Christian into practice: 'Every believer in this world must be a spark of light, a core of love, life-giving leaven in the mass: and the more he is so, the more he will live, in his innermost depths, in communion with God.'"
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
"On the horizon of our era there are gathering ever darker 'signs of death': a custom has become widely established in some places it threatens to become almost an institution of taking the lives of human beings even before they are born, or before they reach the natural point of death." John Paul II
John Paul II in his writings and speeches frequently used the term "culture of death," by which he warned modern man that society was using the killing of innocent people as a solution to social problems. Instead of assisting those in need, our society chooses to eliminate those in need.
As stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, abortion and euthanasia are abominable crimes. Yet, as pointed out by John Paul II, abortion and euthanasia have become well accepted. Since our nation has embraced these two "signs of death," it is clear that we reside in a "culture of death."
What happened? It wasn't too many years ago that the American people, our laws, and our culture viewed abortion and "mercy killing" as morally unacceptable.
As Jesus taught, we speak from the overflow of our heart. Those principles we hold dear in our heart will dictate our actions. No doubt, principles that were held by the vast majority of Americans have long been abandoned, precipitating a change in what acts we will now accept as moral.
Over the years, we have seen Americans abandon their faith in God, rejecting their Judeo-Christian roots.
Attending church services on Sunday continues to descend for Americans to an all-time low. Our busy lives find little time for worship, prayer, or study.
Even our national holidays have lost their religious basis. At Thanksgiving, no one would dare to even ask the question, "To whom are we thankful?" It is just a time to foster the good emotional feeling of being "thankful." Why we have a holiday on December 25 to celebrate "Season's Greetings" is a mystery.
Another attitude which has changed in the United States concerns on what we base our moral beliefs. The concept that it is God Who decides what is right and wrong, what is good and evil, and that it is through the Church that we come to understand His wisdom, is being rejected by our society.
If God doesn't decide what is right or wrong, then it must be up to us to decide. On moral issues, Americans used to argue from what was stated in the Scriptures, or what was taught by the Church, as the basis for deciding a moral course of action. Now, we all start with, "I think," or "I feel."
Many Americans think that they as an individual can decide what is right or wrong, and then that makes it right or wrong. No wonder they are not appalled when a legislative body or a court decrees that what was considered an immoral act is a right protected by the law.
"What is okay for you, may not be okay for me, or vice versa," expresses what many, including those who think of themselves as being Christians, use as the basis for their moral decisions. One's actions quickly become based on one's self-interest.
As Americans embrace secular humanism, a cloud of moral uncertainty has descended upon us.
Once we have abandoned God and moral truth, we find that our law and culture establishes what was known to be morally wrong, as a protected institution. In 1973, abortion went from a hideous crime to a constitutional right. Once thought to be murder, euthanasia has received the blessing of many courts. Our judiciary has sanctified the act of starving someone to death through the withdrawal of food and hydration, by referring to such an act as "discontinuing life-prolonging treatment."
In our culture there is "an excessive preoccupation with the isolated self," teaches Donald DeMarco, Ph.D. DeMarco concludes:
"What is essentially characteristic of a 'culture of death' is that everything comes apart leaving less and less, until there is nothing. God is eclipsed, neighbor is ignored, love is abandoned, conscience is deformed, truth is neglected, and freedom is misunderstood. On the other hand, what is characteristic of a 'culture of life' is that everything comes together. Love, life, freedom, conscience, and truth are essentially in harmony with each other."
For 2,000 years, the Church has told us that we should be "countercultural." Today, the "culture of life" is countercultural.
As John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life) taught:
"The request which arises from the human heart in the supreme confrontation with suffering and death, especially when faced with the temptation to give up in utter desperation, is above all a request for companionship, sympathy, and support in the time of trial. It is a plea for help to keep on hoping when all human hopes fail."
So how can we be countercultural?
First, we must again deepen our embrace of God by practicing more intently our faith, through our worship, prayer, and study. We can only be effective witnesses to the extent that we allow God to work through us.
Secondly, we must espouse that there is a morality established by God not subject to our personal changes. We as sinners ask God for forgiveness, but we do not pray that He changes His mind as to what is morally acceptable in order that we may feel comfortable in doing what is wrong.
Thirdly, it is us that God is calling to provide to those in great need the companionship, sympathy, and support their sufferings require. It is through us that Jesus chooses to bring His message of hope.
"Stand up for life," commanded John Paul II
Standing up for life may mean explaining to someone why abortion is the killing of a child, or it may mean volunteering to help at a problem pregnancy center.
Standing up for life may mean helping elect those who are pro-life and espouse the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life, or it may mean collecting diapers and baby items to give to expectant mothers.
Standing up for life may be writing a letter to the editor on the subject that providing food and water to a comatose patient is not a medical treatment and thus cannot be withdrawn. It may be visiting someone in a nursing home whom you may not even know.
"Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me." Matthew 25:40b
by Michael Joseph Halm
The release of The Nativity Story is the first time in nearly half a century that any major studio has released a religious film. Even more surprisingly it premiered at the Vatican, at the request of those who had seen the preview. This time it came from New Line Cinema, made a major studio by their very successful Lord of the Rings trilogy. Also a factor has to be the box office success of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, which told of the end of Jesus' life. Moviemakers seem to be beginning to notice what kind of films the public will support.
"(This film) isn't something that most people know pretty well," Oscar Isaac, who plays Joseph, explains. "It's something that was really trying to find a deeper truth about what these people went through and what they're really feeling."
The reviewer at the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) wrote enthusiastically that the film "depicts the emotion, the hope, the awesomeness of God and much more that you don't really think about when thinking about the Nativity. This is what Christmas is all about!"
Screenwriter Mike Rich is known for his Radio and Rookie. He says that his inspiration, however, came in December two years ago from the cover stories on the historical Jesus in Time and Newsweek and, of course, the original sources. After nearly a year's research, he finished the first draft in five weeks of writing with intercession from his parish.
He tried to put himself and so the audience into the hard life of a couple of faithful young Jewish newlyweds under Roman oppression. They then find God changing the whole world in ways they never expected through them.
The film opens with the climax of the massacre of the Holy Innocents and then portrays the rest of the story as a flashback. The annunciation scene is not given the emphasis that the Catholic Church gives it.
Director Catherine Hardwicke says that she was intrigued by how Rich "had gotten right inside the heart and soul of these characters." Both her previous films, Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown also dealt with teens facing crises, so she felt she had to do it.
At one point in the filming, when the donkey was most uncooperative, she asked that the cast and crew pray in all of their seven languages. They did and the donkey did as he was directed to until the sun set that day.
Keisha Castle-Hughes was an Oscar nominee five years ago at eleven when she starred in Whale Rider and has had some exposure to Mary in having gone to Mass with her grandparents. Taking the role of Mary, however, forced her to take a closer look at this teen-in-crisis role.
"She was just a girl," she says, "and she was just, like, playing with her friends. and then she's married to a guy that's totally older than her, and then the next minute she's got the hugest responsibility and becomes, like, the mother of the world."
Isaac, who is ten years older than Keisha, tells how playing the role of Joseph in the film encouraged him to get deeper into the Scriptures. He not only read and mediated on the nativity narratives in Luke and Matthew, but also the Song of Solomon and 1 Corinthians 13.
"I think what surprised me was how full of love he is," Isaac says, "and really, love for her. No matter how angry he is, no matter how he is tempted to (humiliate her), or even with the desire to scream and yell, and throw her out into the street, because he loves her so much, he doesn't do that."
This seems to come through as indicated by the reactions of many of those who have seen it. Women are saying, "I want a husband like Joseph!" and men, "I want to be a husband like Joseph!"
Keisha had to learn to press olives and grapes, milk a goat, make cheese, and ride a donkey on a dusty road in the midday heat. Isaac had to learn carpentry, and learned to like it. Viewers have a chance to experience, at least vicariously, the everyday life and the extraordinary challenges that this holy couple faced in their first journey together.
The perhaps too human portrayal of the birth of Jesus, the Sinless One born of the Immaculate, might also not be as viewers had envisioned it. It very well may not have looked very out of the ordinary, as extraordinary as it may have been.
Like their Son, Joseph and Mary were fully human. We, like them, are also called to change the world by the grace of God.
by John Young
(Editor's note: Mr. Young writes from Texas. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
I must confess that when my friend Robert first proposed that we do our time in prison as that we were living in a monastery I thought the idea so ludicrous I laughed out loud. But after several months of considering the proposition, I began to find the idea more and more appealing. After all, as Rob was quick to point out, "Stone walls do not a prison make."1
Actually, I soon found that Robert's notion of prison as a "monastic" experience was well-founded. Although there have been prisons throughout recorded history, the concept of incarceration as punishment is a fairly recent development. It was not until the 16th century that petty criminals in England were first confined in "work houses," and the imprisonment of felons didn't become common until the 17th century. The notion of long-term incarceration, however, wasn't developed until the end of the 18th century when, spurred by their deep religious beliefs, the Pennsylvania-Dutch Quakers abolished capital punishment and substituted incarceration as the primary punishment for felonies.2
Two distinct penal models (the Auburn and Pennsylvania) evolved based on different adaptations of the monastic principles of solitude, silence, and expiation.
Needless to say, this "penitential" penology became quite popular and by the mid-19th century most of the states, as well as several European countries, had followed Pennsylvania's lead in building "penitentiaries."3
Unfortunately, while a "house of penitence" would have no doubt been helpful to the meditative Quakers who devised the system, the suitability of the remedy for the vast majority who were subsequently incarcerated is highly doubtful.4
It is a sad fact, recorded almost daily in the newspapers, that most criminals are not reformed by prison. Despite the various penologies that have been advanced over the years, as well as the sometimes countless millions spent annually on rehabilitation and educational programs, almost without exception those who do time in prison are discharged with an "education" society didn't intend: a criminal one.5 But while most simply learn how to be better criminals, some offenders manage to reform their lives not through the states' compulsory education and/or "rehabilitation programs (although these may be helpful), but by learning to "live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.6
Putting away one's former way of life,7 however, is not an easy task. Our Lord tells us, quite plainly, that many will not be strong enough.8
It would, I think, be an exercise in futility to attempt to compare and contrast prisons and monasteries. Although the roots of our current prison system can be traced back to the English work houses and the monastic institutions,9 the Quakers' penology of "repentance" has been long abandoned. Today, the prevailing theory in American penology is one of punishment and retribution; i.e., "put 'em in a cage, poke 'em with a sharp stick, and keep 'em so miserable they'll never come back."10 Furthermore, our prisons can no longer be described as the "desert solitude" that Alexis de Tocqueville observed in 1831;11 for "silence, isolation and (?) are no longer the general rule."12
Nevertheless, prison and monastic life can (and do) converge for those who are willing to view prison as an opportunity to seek union with God. After all, a monastery in the final analysis is simply a residence for those under religious vows. Thomas A. Kempis counseled, "What you wear and the customs you follow contribute little; rather, changing your ways and refocusing all your energies toward the spiritual life will make you a true religious."13 It is the disposition of the heart, that a prisoner (or anyone else, for that matter) bent on true conversion must strive to develop.
Fortunately our prisons (even if they do little else) still provide ample opportunity for prayer, introspection, and self-discipline and it is from these fragments of similitude with the monastic lifestyle that a vibrant spiritual life can be nurtured by those who desire "to rekindle the gift of God that is within" them.14
Our Father admonishes us to "be still and know what that I am God"15 for good reason: He speaks to us with a "still, small voice"16 which the din of our contemporary Western society not to mention the sheer cacophony of the cell-block all too easily drowns out. It is necessary, therefore, for us to quiet ourselves to "come away to a deserted place and rest"17 in order to hear the voice of God. Even Jesus habitually withdrew to the desert or the mountain top in order to pray in solitude.18
But solitude can be a fearsome experience, for it is the silence of our hearts that in we confront and grapple with the "demons" (?) who all too often makes a royal mess of our lives19 our "dark" side; our "shadow;"20 our true self.
It is the fear of our "shadow" that keeps most of us from undertaking any really serious introspection. After all, nobody wants to acknowledge that they're a "slave to sin"21 and that their entire life has been nothing but a "chasing of the wind."22 But if we are serious about reforming ourselves, we must look within.
In conclusion, the heart of the matter is that one's time in prison can be a holy experience. In his rule, Saint Benedict admonished that "the monk's life ought at all seasons to bear a Lenten Character,"23 and this is also true for the prisoner who is seeking conversion. In fact, the four areas that Saint Benedict stresses in his rule Humility, Obedience, Silence, and Prayer are the foundation stones that a prisoner must use to effect the same experience. If one is willing to become Humble and Obedient (yes, you will have to obey the prison rules and so forth), then your time in prison can be used to simplify your lifestyle,24 to crucify your passions and desires,25 and to learn to live as a child of light.26 Like Saint Paul, who spent time in several prisons for preaching the Gospel before being executed, you can learn to live a truly Christian life while doing time. If you want to. After all, any experience inside, or outside, of prison from which nothing is learned is a waste of time.
I do not, however, wish to leave the reader with the impression that it is only by conforming your life to a monastic rule that time in prison can be profitable. Quite the contrary! As Johann Christoph Arnold's father noted, "To experience even a little taste of godforsakenness is decisive to the inner life."27 And, so I have already asserted, you can use your time to become a better criminal. . . Doomed to repeat the same sort of mistakes that led to your incarceration. . . Or you can repent, and change your life. The choice is entirely yours. As for me, my cloister is a prison cell. Deo gratias!
1 Lovelace, Richard To Altlia from Prison
2 Cf. Morris, Norval The Future of Imprisonment (Chicago, Ill., 1974), p. 4.
3 Dodge, Calvert R. A World Without Prisons: Alternatives to Incarceration Throughout the World (Lexington Books: D.C. Health and Company, Lexington, Mass. Toronto, 1979), p. 5.
4 Cf. The Future of Imprisonment, p. 4.
5 Kornblum, William Sociology In a Changing World, 3d Ed. (Harcourt Brace College Publishers, Fort Worth, TX, 1994), pp 233-234
6 Cf. Romans 8:4
7 Cf. Ephesians 4:22
8 Cf. Luke 13:24
9 Collier's Encyclopedia, (P.F. Collier & Sons, New York, 1952), Vol. 15, p. 530.
10 Willing, Richard (Title of Citation Lost), USA Today, April 21, 1996, front page
11 Encyclopedia of Sociology (DPG Reference Publishing, Inc., Guilford, Connecticut, 1981), p. 218
12 Dodge, Calvert R. A World Without Prisons, p. 7
13 Thomas A. Kempis The Imitation of Christ, trans. And ed. William C. Cressy (Ave Maria Press, Notre Dame, IN, 1989), p. 45, Book I, Chapter XVII
14 Cf. 2 Timothy 1:6
15 Psalms 46:11
16 1 Kings 19:12
17 Mark 6:31
18 Cf. Mark 1:35, Luke 6:12, and Luke 9:18
19 Cf. Caulfield, Sean The Experience of Praying (Paulist Press, New York/Ramsey, 1980), p. 32-34
20 Cf. Miller, William A. Make Friends With Your Shadow: How to Use Positively the Negative Side of your Personality (Augsburg Publishing House; Minneapolis, 1981), p. 56-62
21 Cf. Romans 6:17
22 Cf. Ecclesiastes 1:14
23 The Rule of Saint Benedict Chapter XLIX "The Observance of Lent"
24 Cf. 1 Peter 2:11
25 Cf. Gal. 5:24
26 Cf. Eph. 5:8
27 Arnold, Johann Christoph Seeking Peace: Notes and Conversations Along The Way, The Plough Publishing House, Farmington, PA 1988, p. 38
VATICAN CITY Pope Benedict XVI stressed the importance of the witness of Christian spouses in his Angelus message of October. The Sunday Gospel readings for that day referred to Jesus' statements on marriage. In his comments after the Angelus, the Holy Father stated:
". . .My thoughts. . .go to all Christian spouses: I thank the Lord with them for the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage, and I urge them to remain faithful to their vocation in every season of life, 'in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health,' as they promised in the sacramental rite.
"Conscious of the grace they have received, may Christian husbands and wives build a family open to life and capable of facing united the many complex challenges of our time.
"Today, there is a special need for their witness. There is a need for families that do not let themselves be swept away by modern cultural currents inspired by hedonism and relativism, and which are ready instead to carry out their mission in the Church and in society with generous dedication.
"In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, the Servant of God John Paul II wrote that 'the sacrament of marriage makes Christian couples and parents witnesses of Christ "to the end of the earth," missionaries, in the true and proper sense, of love and life' (cf. n. 54). Their mission is directed both to inside the family - especially in reciprocal service and the education of the children - and to outside it. Indeed, the domestic community is called to be a sign of God's love for all.
"The Christian family can only fulfill this mission if it is supported by divine grace. It is therefore necessary for Christian couples to pray tirelessly and to persevere in their daily efforts to maintain the commitments they assumed on their wedding day . . ."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
VATICAN CITY November 11, 2006, marked the 90th anniversary of the Battle of Verdun in World War I. Pope Benedict XVI sent a letter, dated October 21, to Bishop Francois Maupu of Verdun. The occasion was marked by a Mass and prayers for peace and reconciliation.
The Holy Father said in his letter:
". . .The Eucharist, through which we celebrate Christ's victory over death, shows us that God is stronger than all the dark powers of history, that love is stronger than hate and, as St. Paul said, that Christ by his Crucifixion has broken down the dividing wall of hostility to reconcile men and women with one another (cf. Eph 2:14-17).
"We must give thanks for the ground covered since the great World Wars that stained Europe with blood and took a heavy toll of victims. It is up to us today to ensure that the sacrifice of the men who fell on the battlefields through patriotic love was not in vain.
"The mortal remains of all the fallen, regardless of their nationality, now rest in the ossuary at Douaumont, thanks to your predecessor, Bishop Ginisty, who took the initiative to have them laid to rest there and had engraved on the pediment of the building the word that sums it all up: Pax.
"In a Note of August 1, 1917, sent to the leaders of the belligerents, my Predecessor Pope Benedict XV proposed lasting peace, and at the same time launched a pressing appeal to put an end to what he called a 'senseless massacre.'
"(The Battle of) Verdun, a somber moment in the history of the Continent, must live on in peoples' memory as an event never to be either forgotten or repeated, inviting the French and the Germans and, more broadly, all Europeans, to turn to the future and to base their relations on brotherhood, solidarity, and friendship between peoples.
"May our contemporaries, particularly the young generation, draw on all that history can teach us and, relying on the Christian roots and values that largely contributed to shaping the Europe of the nations and the Europe of the peoples, undertake to forge ties of brotherhood and charity with one another for the good of all and for the development of countries, helping the poorer and smaller ones.
"Verdun is also one of the symbols of reconciliation between two great European nations, former enemies; it appeals to all countries at war to take such steps that will bring people joy, since reconciliation alone makes it possible to build the future and allows for hope.
"Only reconciliation and mutual forgiveness can pave the way to true peace. Coming from a Christian spirit, they also form part of the criteria for political action. Today, this is the responsibility of the leaders and peoples of Europe and of all nations. . ."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
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