"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
World Day of Peace Message: The Human Person Is At "The Heart of Peace"
World Day of The Sick Message: The Church Has Special Concern For The Sick
Singer Evangelizes With New Lyrics To Old Songs
In Defense of Life: Good News
Prison To Praise: Joseph's First Christmas
Pray The News
In his message for the World Day of Peace on January 1, Pope Benedict XVI focused on the role of the human person as being central to building peace and bringing a better future for children. The World Day of Peace was instituted by Pope Paul VI in 1968 and is celebrated each year on January 1.
Because of the importance of this subject and message, My People is publishing the Pope's message. The message, dated December 8, 2006, follows:
The Human Person, The Heart Of Peace
"At the beginning of the new year, I wish to extend prayerful good wishes for peace to Governments, leaders of nations, and all men and women of good will. In a special way, I invoke peace upon all those experiencing pain and suffering, those living under the threat of violence and armed aggression, and those who await their human and social emancipation, having had their dignity trampled upon. I invoke peace upon children, who by their innocence enrich humanity with goodness and hope, and by their sufferings compel us all to work for justice and peace. Out of concern for children, especially those whose future is compromised by exploitation and the malice of unscrupulous adults, I wish on this World Day of Peace to encourage everyone to reflect on the theme: The Human Person, the Heart of Peace. I am convinced that respect for the person promotes peace and that, in building peace, the foundations are laid for an authentic integral humanism. In this way a serene future is prepared for coming generations.
The human person and peace: gift and task
"Sacred Scripture affirms that 'God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them' (Gen 1:27). As one created in the image of God, each individual human being has the dignity of a person; he or she is not just something, but someone, capable of self-knowledge, self-possession, free self-giving, and entering into communion with others. At the same time, each person is called, by grace, to a covenant with the Creator, called to offer him a response of faith and love that no other creature can give in his place (1). From this supernatural perspective, one can understand the task entrusted to human beings to mature in the ability to love and to contribute to the progress of the world, renewing it in justice and in peace. In a striking synthesis, Saint Augustine teaches that 'God created us without our aid; but he did not choose to save us without our aid (2).' Consequently all human beings have the duty to cultivate an awareness of this twofold aspect of gift and task.
"Likewise, peace is both gift and task. If it is true that peace between individuals and peoples the ability to live together and to build relationships of justice and solidarity calls for unfailing commitment on our part, it is also true, and indeed more so, that peace is a gift from God. Peace is an aspect of God's activity, made manifest both in the creation of an orderly and harmonious universe and also in the redemption of humanity that needs to be rescued from the disorder of sin. Creation and Redemption thus provide a key that helps us begin to understand the meaning of our life on earth. My venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II, addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations on October 5, 1995, stated that 'we do not live in an irrational or meaningless world. . .there is a moral logic which is built into human life and which makes possible dialogue between individuals and peoples (3).' The transcendent 'grammar,' that is to say the body of rules for individual action and the reciprocal relationships of persons in accordance with justice and solidarity, is inscribed on human con-sciences, in which the wise plan of God is reflected. As I recently had occasion to reaffirm: 'we believe that at the beginning of everything is the Eternal Word, Reason and not Unreason (4).' Peace is thus also a task demanding of everyone a personal response consistent with God's plan. The criterion inspiring this response can only be respect for the 'grammar' written on human hearts by the divine Creator.
"From this standpoint, the norms of the natural law should not be viewed as externally imposed decrees, as restraints upon human freedom. Rather, they should be welcomed as a call to carry out faithfully the universal divine plan inscribed in the nature of human beings. Guided by these norms, all peoples within their respective cultures can draw near to the greatest mystery, which is the mystery of God. Today too, recognition and respect for natural law represents the foundation for a dialogue between the followers of the different religions and between believers and non-believers. As a great point of convergence, this is also a fundamental presupposition for authentic peace.
The right to life and to religious freedom
"The duty to respect the dignity of each human being, in whose nature the image of the Creator is reflected, means in consequence that the person can not be disposed of at will. Those with greater political, technical, or economic power may not use that power to violate the rights of others who are less fortunate. Peace is based on respect for the rights of all. Conscious of this, the Church champions the fundamental rights of each person. In particular she promotes and defends respect for the life and the religious freedom of everyone. Respect for the right to life at every stage firmly establishes a principle of decisive importance: life is a gift which is not completely at the disposal of the subject. Similarly, the affirmation of the right to religious freedom places the human being in a relationship with a transcendent principle which withdraws him from human caprice. The right to life and to the free expression of personal faith in God is not subject to the power of man. Peace requires the establishment of a clear boundary between what is at man's disposal and what is not: in this way unacceptable intrusions into the patrimony of specifically human values will be avoided.
"As far as the right to life is concerned, we must denounce its widespread violation in our society: alongside the victims of armed conflicts, terrorism, and the different forms of violence, there are the silent deaths caused by hunger, abortion, experimentation on human embryos, and euthanasia. How can we fail to see in all this an attack on peace? Abortion and embryonic experimentation constitute a direct denial of that attitude of acceptance of others which is indispensable for establishing lasting relationships of peace. As far as the free expression of personal faith is concerned, another disturbing symptom of lack of peace in the world is represented by the difficulties that both Christians and the followers of other religions frequently encounter in publicly and freely professing their religious convictions. Speaking of Christians in particular, I must point out with pain that not only are they at times prevented from doing so; in some States they are actually persecuted, and even recently tragic cases of ferocious violence have been recorded. There are regimes that impose a single religion upon everyone, while secular regimes often lead not so much to violent persecution as to systematic cultural denigration of religious beliefs. In both instances, a fundamental human right is not being respected, with serious repercussions for peaceful coexistence. This can only promote a mentality and culture that is not conducive to peace.
The natural equality of all persons
"At the origin of many tensions that threaten peace are surely the many unjust inequalities still tragically present in our world. Particularly insidious among these are, on the one hand, inequality in access to essential goods like food, water, shelter, health; on the other hand, there are persistent inequalities between men and women in the exercise of basic human rights.
"A fundamental element of building peace is the recognition of the essential equality of human persons springing from their common transcendental dignity. Equality on this level is a good belonging to all, inscribed in that natural 'grammar' which is deducible from the divine plan of creation; it is a good that cannot be ignored or scorned without causing serious repercussions which put peace at risk. The extremely grave deprivation afflicting many peoples, especially in Africa, lies at the root of violent reactions and thus inflicts a terrible wound on peace.
"Similarly, inadequate consideration for the condition of women helps to create instability in the fabric of society. I think of the exploitation of women who are treated as objects, and of the many ways that a lack of respect is shown for their dignity; I also think in a different context of the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms. There can be no illusion of a secure peace until these forms of discrimination are also overcome, since they injure the personal dignity impressed by the Creator upon every human being (5).
The "ecology of peace"
"In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote: 'Not only has God given the earth to man, who must use it with respect for the original good purpose for which it was given to him, but man too is God's gift to man. He must therefore respect the natural and moral structure with which he has been endowed (6).' By responding to this charge, entrusted to them by the Creator, men and women can join in bringing about a world of peace. Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a 'human' ecology, which in turn demands a 'social' ecology. All this means that humanity, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology. Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link between peace with creation and peace among men. Both of these presuppose peace with God. The poem-prayer of Saint Francis, known as 'the Canticle of Brother Sun,' is a wonderful and ever timely example of this multifaceted ecology of peace.
"The close connection between these two ecologies can be understood from the increasingly serious problem of energy supplies. In recent years, new nations have entered enthusiastically into industrial production, thereby increasing their energy needs. This has led to an unprecedented race for available resources. Meanwhile, some parts of the planet remain backward and development is effectively blocked, partly because of the rise in energy prices. What will happen to those peoples? What kind of development or non-development will be imposed on them by the scarcity of energy supplies? What injustices and conflicts will be provoked by the race for energy sources? And what will be the reaction of those who are excluded from this race? These are questions that show how respect for nature is closely linked to the need to establish, between individuals and between nations, relationships that are attentive to the dignity of the person and capable of satisfying his or her authentic needs. The destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth's resources cause grievances, conflicts, and wars, precisely because they are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development. Indeed, if development were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man's destructive capacities.
Reductive visions of man
"Thus there is an urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that can favor the growth of the 'tree of peace.' For this to happen, we must be guided by a vision of the person untainted by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political and economic interests which can instill hatred and violence. It is understandable that visions of man will vary from culture to culture. Yet what cannot be admitted is the cultivation of anthropological conceptions that contain the seeds of hostility and violence. Equally unacceptable are conceptions of God that would encourage intolerance and recourse to violence against others. This is a point which must be clearly reaffirmed: war in God's name is never acceptable! When a certain notion of God is at the origin of criminal acts, it is a sign that that notion has already become an ideology.
"Today, however, peace is not only threatened by the conflict between reductive visions of man, in other words, between ideologies. It is also threatened by indifference as to what constitutes man's true nature. Many of our contemporaries actually deny the existence of a specific human nature and thus open the door to the most extravagant interpretations of what essentially constitutes a human being. Here too clarity is necessary: a 'weak' vision of the person, which would leave room for every conception, even the most bizarre, only apparently favors peace. In reality, it hinders authentic dialogue and opens the way to authoritarian impositions, ultimately leaving the person defenseless and, as a result, easy prey to oppression and violence.
Human rights and international organizations
"A true and stable peace presupposes respect for human rights. Yet if these rights are grounded on a weak conception of the person, how can they fail to be themselves weakened? Here we can see how profoundly insufficient is a relativistic conception of the person when it comes to justifying and defending his rights. The difficulty in this case is clear: rights are proposed as absolute, yet the foundation on which they are supposed to rest is merely relative. Can we wonder that, faced with the 'inconvenient' demands posed by one right or another, someone will come along to question it or determine that it should be set aside? Only if they are grounded in the objective requirements of the nature bestowed on man by the Creator, can the rights attributed to Him be affirmed without fear of contradiction. It goes without saying, moreover, that human rights imply corresponding duties. In this regard, Mahatma Gandhi said wisely: 'The Ganges of rights flows from the Himalaya of duties.' Clarity over these basic presuppositions is needed if human rights, nowadays constantly under attack, are to be adequately defended. Without such clarity, the expression 'human rights' will end up being predicated of quite different subjects: in some cases, the human person marked by permanent dignity and rights that are valid always, everywhere, and for everyone, in other cases a person with changing dignity and constantly negotiable rights, with regard to content, time, and place.
"The protection of human rights is constantly referred to by international bodies and, in particular, the United Nations Organization, which set itself the fundamental task of promoting the human rights indicated in the 1948 Universal Declaration. That Declaration is regarded as a sort of moral commitment assumed by all mankind. There is a profound truth to this, especially if the rights described in the Declaration are held to be based not simply on the decisions of the assembly that approved them, but on man's very nature and his inalienable dignity as a person created by God. Consequently it is important for international agencies not to lose sight of the natural foundation of human rights. This would enable them to avoid the risk, unfortunately ever-present, of sliding towards a merely positivistic interpretation of those rights. Were that to happen, the international bodies would end up lacking the necessary authority to carry out their role as defenders of the fundamental rights of the person and of peoples, the chief justification for their very existence and activity.
International humanitarian law and the internal law of States
"The recognition that there exist inalienable human rights connected to our common human nature has led to the establishment of a body of international humanitarian law which States are committed to respect, even in the case of war. Unfortunately, to say nothing of past cases, this has not been consistently implemented in certain recent situations of war. Such, for example, was the case in the conflict that occurred a few months ago in southern Lebanon, where the duty 'to protect and help innocent victims' and to avoid involving the civilian population was largely ignored. The heart-rending situation in Lebanon and the new shape of conflicts, especially since the terrorist threat unleashed completely new forms of violence, demand that the international community reaffirm international humanitarian law, and apply it to all present-day situations of armed conflict, including those not currently provided for by international law. Moreover, the scourge of terrorism demands a profound reflection on the ethical limits restricting the use of modern methods of guaranteeing internal security. Increasingly, wars are not declared, especially when they are initiated by terrorist groups determined to attain their ends by any means available. In the face of the disturbing events of recent years, States cannot fail to recognize the need to establish clearer rules to counter effectively the dramatic decline that we are witnessing. War always represents a failure for the international community and a grave loss for humanity. When, despite every effort, war does break out, at least the essential principles of humanity and the basic values of all civil coexistence must be safeguarded; norms of conduct must be established that limit the damage as far as possible and help to alleviate the suffering of civilians and of all the victims of conflicts (7).
"Another disturbing issue is the desire recently shown by some States to acquire nuclear weapons. This has heightened even more the widespread climate of uncertainty and fear of a possible atomic catastrophe. We are brought back in time to the profound anxieties of the 'cold war' period. When it came to an end, there was hope that the atomic peril had been definitively overcome and that mankind could finally breathe a lasting sigh of relief. How timely, in this regard, is the warning of the Second Vatican Council that 'every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and humanity, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation (8).' Unfortunately, threatening clouds continue to gather on humanity's horizon. The way to ensure a future of peace for everyone is found not only in international accords for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but also in the determined commitment to seek their reduction and definitive dismantling. May every attempt be made to arrive through negotiation at the attainment of these objectives! The fate of the whole human family is at stake!
The Church as safeguard of the transcendence of the human person
"Finally, I wish to make an urgent appeal to the People of God: let every Christian be committed to tireless peace-making and strenuous defense of the dignity of the human person and his inalienable rights.
"With gratitude to the Lord for having called him to belong to his Church, which is 'the sign and safeguard of the transcendental dimension of the human person' (9) in the world, the Christian will tirelessly implore from God the fundamental good of peace, which is of such primary importance in the life of each person. Moreover, he will be proud to serve the cause of peace with generous devotion, offering help to his brothers and sisters, especially those who, in addition to suffering poverty and need, are also deprived of this precious good. Jesus has revealed to us that 'God is love' (1 Jn 4:8) and that the highest vocation of every person is love. In Christ we can find the ultimate reason for becoming staunch champions of human dignity and courageous builders of peace.
"Let every believer, then, unfailingly contribute to the advancement of a true integral humanism in accordance with the teachings of the Encyclical Letters Populorum Progressio and Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, whose respective fortieth and twentieth anniversaries we prepare to celebrate this year. To the Queen of Peace, the Mother of Jesus Christ 'our peace' (Eph 2:14), I entrust my urgent prayer for all humanity at the beginning of the year 2007, to which we look with hearts full of hope, notwithstanding the dangers and difficulties that surround us. May Mary show us, in her Son, the Way of peace, and enlighten our vision, so that we can recognize Christ's face in the face of every human person, the heart of peace!"
(1) Cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 357.
(2) Sermo 169, 11, 13: PL 38, 923.
(3) No. 3.
(4) Homily at Islinger Feld, Regensburg, September 12, 2006.
(5) Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of men and women in the Church and in the world (May 31, 2004), 15-16.
(6) No. 38.
(7) In this regard, the Catechism of the Catholic Church indicates strict and precise criteria: cf. 2307-2317.
(8) Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 80.
(9) Ibid., 76.
The major celebration of the World Day of the Sick on February 11 will be in Seoul, Korea, with other celebrations throughout the worldwide Church. In his message for this day, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
"On February 11, 2007, when the Church keeps the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of Lourdes, the Fifteenth World Day of the Sick will be celebrated in Seoul, Korea. A number of meetings, conferences, pastoral gatherings, and liturgical celebrations will take place with representatives of the Church in Korea, health care personnel, the sick, and their families. Once again the Church turns her eyes to those who suffer and calls attention to the incurably ill, many of whom are dying from terminal diseases. They are found on every continent, particularly in places where poverty and hardship cause immense misery and grief. Conscious of these sufferings, I will be spiritually present at the World Day of the Sick, united with those meeting to discuss the plight of the incurably ill in our world and encouraging the efforts of Christian communities in their witness to the Lord's tenderness and mercy.
"Sickness inevitably brings with it a moment of crisis and sober confrontation with one's own personal situation. Advances in the health sciences often provide the means necessary to meet this challenge, at least with regard to its physical aspects. Human life, however, has intrinsic limitations, and sooner or later it ends in death. This is an experience to which each human being is called, and one for which he or she must be prepared. Despite the advances of science, a cure cannot be found for every illness, and thus, in hospitals, hospices, and homes throughout the world we encounter the sufferings of our many brothers and sisters who are incurably and often terminally ill. In addition, many millions of people in our world still experience insanitary living conditions and lack access to much-needed medical resources, often of the most basic kind, with the result that the number of human beings considered 'incurable' is greatly increased.
"The Church wishes to support the incurably and terminally ill by calling for just social policies which can help to eliminate the causes of many diseases and by urging improved care for the dying and those for whom no medical remedy is available. There is a need to promote policies which create conditions where human beings can bear even incurable illnesses and death in a dignified manner. Here it is necessary to stress once again the need for more palliative care centers which provide integral care, offering the sick the human assistance and spiritual accompaniment they need. This is a right belonging to every human being, one which we must all be committed to defend.
"Here I would like to encourage the efforts of those who work daily to ensure that the incurably and terminally ill, together with their families, receive adequate and loving care. The Church, following the example of the Good Samaritan, has always shown particular concern for the infirm. Through her individual members and institutions, she continues to stand alongside the suffering and to attend the dying, striving to preserve their dignity at these significant moments of human existence. Many such individuals health care professionals, pastoral agents, and volunteers and institutions throughout the world are tirelessly serving the sick, in hospitals and in palliative care units, on city streets, in housing projects, and parishes.
"I now turn to you, my dear brothers and sisters suffering from incurable and terminal diseases. I encourage you to contemplate the sufferings of Christ crucified, and, in union with him, to turn to the Father with complete trust that all life, and your lives in particular, are in his hands. Trust that your sufferings, united to those of Christ, will prove fruitful for the needs of the Church and the world. I ask the Lord to strengthen your faith in his love, especially during these trials that you are experiencing. It is my hope that, wherever you are, you will always find the spiritual encouragement and strength needed to nourish your faith and bring you closer to the Father of Life. Through her priests and pastoral workers, the Church wishes to assist you and stand at your side, helping you in your hour of need, and thus making present Christ's own loving mercy towards those who suffer.
"In conclusion, I ask ecclesial communities throughout the world, and particularly those dedicated to the service of the infirm, to continue, with the help of Mary, Salus Infirmorum, to bear effective witness to the loving concern of God our Father. May the Blessed Virgin, our Mother, comfort those who are ill and sustain all who have devoted their lives, as Good Samaritans, to healing the physical and spiritual wounds of those who suffer. United to each of you in thought and prayer, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord."
by Michael Halm
Catholic recording artist Nick Alexander's new album, I Wanna Be Debated, contains the title song, new lyrics put to the tune of I Wanna Be Sedated by The Ramones. It therefore follows the pattern of his previous two in being new lyrics put to familiar tunes.
"I attempted," he explains, "to make this album as relatable to the average Joe as I possibly could, grounding this project in today's current issues. As a topical album, I address issues as vast as abstinence, the obesity crisis, Catholic guilt, depression, and the priestly scandal over the last few years."
His song may deal with serious topics, but by contrasting the Catholic perspective with the original tunes' secular one, he does it in an entertaining way. He converted to Catholicism in 1993 because of a gift book on Marian apparitions. In 1999 he was encouraged to record his "silly songs." Since then he's gotten married and performed for World Youth Day in Toronto and Proud 2 B Catholic.
"It is my opinion," Nick says at his website, "that this album is both my funniest release yet, but also my most encouraging."
To those who question his mixing of the sacred and secular, he asks, "Is there anything so wrong with taking what is so precious and trying to convey it in such a way that others can understand it?" There is precedent. This is just the sort of thing that St. Ephrem, "the Lyre of the Holy Spirit," did back in the 4th Century.
Oldies fans though not quite that old will recognize the tune of Suicide Hotline as I Am the Walrus by The Beatles, Love That Someone Right as Summer Nights by John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John, and Holy Thursday as Monday, Monday by The Mamas & Papas.
The new album also contains IXOYE (that's the Greek word for fish, the famous acronym for "Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior") to Footloose by Kenny Loggins. There's also Salad Bowl to Centerfold by The J. Geils Band, This Time of Forty Days to King of Pain by The Police, Careless Blunder to Careless Whisper by George Michael/Wham!, Nicene Creed to Dancing Queen by ABBA, Priest to Superman (It's Not Easy) by Five For Fighting, and Internet Bloggers to Radio Ga Ga by Queen. Just as with his other two albums he finishes this one with a wholly original worship song, Holy God, We Praise Your Great Name.
Podcaster Susan Bailey said in Grapevine News Minute, "I love this album and here's why it's crackling with excitement from the vocals to the last guitar and drum beat."
Youth director Maria Elena Ponce praises not only the presentation but the content: "I especially liked the emphasis you placed on encouraging the youth to have a greater appreciation for the Eucharist."
His first album, A Time to Laugh contained: Old Time Gregorian Chant to Old Time Rock and Roll by Bob Seger, Repent to Respect by Aretha Franklin, Transubstantiation to Revolution by The Beatles, I Got You Saved to I Got You Babe by Sonny & Cher, Tradition (500 Years) to I'm Gonna Be 500 Miles by The Proclaimers, Should I Stand or Should I Kneel to Should I Stay Or Should I Go by The Clash, Our Mass to Our House by Madness, Tithe After Tithe to Time After Time by Cyndi Lauper, Confession to Pressure by Billy Joel, and R.C.I.A. to Y.M.C.A. by The Village People. It too concluded on a serious note with the worship song, Father.
Eternal Life: The Party Album began with get Canonized A Saint to Fly Away by Lenny Kravitz, and continued with Don't Take That Crown to Don't Bring Me Down by ELO, Nahum, Zephaniah, Malachi to Jenny (867-5309) by Tommy Tutone, These Beads to These Dreams by Heart, Evangelize to I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor, Monastery Trip to White Room by Cream, Melt Me to Pinch Me by BNL, Therese of Lisieux to Electric Avenue by Eddy Grant, Teaching Them to Read to Turning Japanese by The Vapors, and We Want to Stand United to We Didn't Start the Fire by Billy Joel. It ended with Too Late Have I Loved You, based on St. Augustine's Confessions.
Nick does not just perform in the recording studio, however. To schedule "the Alexander experience," as he calls it, at your parish or youth group, he asks that he be contacted by e-mail at nickalexander.com. You can listen to, buy, and download his CDs there as well. He promises you will "be entertained, uplifted, and tickled silly while being affirmed of orthodox Catholic teaching."
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
Would you like to hear some good news? The prayer vigil sponsored by Helpers of God's Precious Infants, which has been celebrated on the second, third, and fourth Saturdays of each month, will now also be held on the first Saturday of each month.
Helpers of God's Precious Infants celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at Holy Name Church in Cincinnati, then process three blocks to the Planned Parenthood abortionary, reciting the 15 decades of the Rosary, then return to the Church for Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.
Ten years ago the prayer vigil was initiated and was held only on the second Saturday of each month. By the generosity of other priests and the dedication of so many faithful pro-lifers, Mass, the Rosary, and Benediction were later offered on the fourth Saturday of each month. In 2006, the third Saturday was added.
Why Pray There?
The priest who initiated this pro-life prayer effort was Fr. James Kelleher. While he was in the Cincinnati area to complete some of his studies, Fr. Kelleher introduced to a number of pro-lifers the efforts of Msgr. Phillip Reilly, who had begun in Brooklyn, New York, a prayer vigil known as Helpers of God's Precious Infants.
Fr. Paul Berschied of the Diocese of Covington and Fr. Gregory Konerman of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati made the commitment to offer the Mass on the second Saturday of each month.
It was Msgr. Reilly who had initiated a nationwide effort encouraging others to pray more frequently at abortion mills.
Fr. Reilly taught that abortionaries are the modern day Calvary, since it is there that innocent blood is being shed. His inspiration was Mary, who throughout her life lived the words "be it done to me according to Thy word." Saying yes finally brought her to a place called Calvary to witness the horrifying crucifixion of her Son.
There she did not beg God to save her Son's life, nor did she curse soldiers or the Jewish leaders responsible for this horror. Instead, she faithfully accepted the will of God, joining herself to the sacrifice her Son was making, resulting in two innocent people suffering for the sins of others.
One may ask, instead of traveling to Holy Name Church, why not just attend Saturday morning Mass at my local parish, and pray the Rosary there? Why stand in front of Planned Parenthood's abortion mill, sometimes in unpleasant weather, to publicly recite a Rosary, while competing with all the noises of a busy street? A quiet place would be more conducive to meditating on the mysteries of the holy Rosary.
As Msgr. Reilly explained, it is Mary whose witness calls us to be there at modern day Calvary, not only to pray and to work to save unborn children, their mothers and fathers, or the abortionists, but also to pray for the salvation of their souls and our own souls.
It was Mary's faithfulness that brought her to Calvary. She had no illusions that her presence would somehow change the outcome and her Son would be spared crucifixion. Surely, St. John knew the same. It was the 10 other apostles who would bitterly regret that they were not there to be faithful to Jesus.
It is important that we make the small sacrifice of also praying at the place where the blood of the innocent child is shed.
To help us initiate this pro-life prayer vigil on the first Saturday of each month, Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk will celebrate on Saturday, February 4, 2007, the 8:00 a.m. Mass at Holy Name Church, which is located on Auburn Avenue, about four blocks north of Christ Hospital.
The prayer vigil for the first Saturday of each month is a challenge to the pro-life youth, who are undertaking the initiative to encourage students to make a commitment to attend these first Saturday prayer vigils. Students are asked to encourage their fellow students to participate.
For more information, and suggestions on how to get this commitment started in especially the high schools and colleges, please contact Debbie Cappel at (513) 922-9270 or at email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For 2,000 years, Christians have found the life of Mary as a true witness of being faithful to the will of God. From her acceptance of the will of God, we now draw the inspiration to do the same. It is only in our attempt to follow Mary's example in her total abandonment to Divine Providence that pro-lifers can be inspired to continue their efforts, especially in light of the fact that after 34 years, abortion on demand still remains the law.
It is so easy to become discouraged, thinking, "What is the use?" or "What contribution can I make that will really change anything?" It is at these moments that a pro-lifer must turn to Mary to obtain the insight and grace to be faithful.
"And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also." 2 Timothy 2:2
by Louis Templeman
(Editor's Note: Mr. Templeman writes from prison and is a student in Guadalupe Bible College, one of the ministries in Presentation Ministries. We welcome contributions from prisoners and would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Becoming a human being is hard work. Becoming a human being by living a life of faith and harmony with God's intentions let me repeat is hard work. No one exemplifies how to do this work any better than Joseph, who, that first Christmas, did not get the day off.
Joseph demonstrates that the life of faith is a call to be fully human. In the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph is presented as a man of unwavering faith and of great justice. When receiving the shock of his life that the virgin he was engaged to was pregnant, he must have gone through mental anguish and sleepless nights. Yet, we don't hear him utter suspicions or accusations.
He was a faithful, righteous man of God. He was familiar with the law and the traditions of his people. Had he followed the written code of Scripture he would have brought Mary to public judgement and disgrace. The pain would have been unbearable to her. And, we may suppose, the pain would have been overwhelming for him as well. He seemed to know intuitively the spirit of the law was not in the exactitude of the letter but rather in the mercy of God.
Joseph could not marry her but neither could he cause her pain. He safeguarded her reputation in a way that adherence to the law could not. His personal anguish reflected the anguish of Father Abraham who in obedience to God's direction made preparations to sacrifice his son Isaac. Joseph, in an act that made the first Christmas possible, became the embodiment of the mercy of God, of mercy rejoicing over judgement.
Because of his virtue and faith, the angel of God presented to him a most awesome and singular privilege. By embracing Mary and her Son, Joseph received these blessings, joys, and sufferings:
1. To be with Jesus and Mary;
2. To experience the nearness of God, Immanuel;
3. To be the steward over God's greatest treasure;
4. To relive the history of the patriarchs in a descent and return from Egypt as a stranger in a strange land;
5. To be a refugee with Jesus;
6. To experience a total removal from earthly security and find God is his rock, his refuge, and his hope;
7. To endure the frustration and need that served to mock the promises he trusted in.
A nativity scene is lovely on a mantle, but the original moment was a very difficult experience for the Holy Family. It must have felt like a complete reversal of all God promised. God's promised Son born in such a place! Such rejection by those people! Joseph must have felt like a total failure. This stable was the best he could do? Yet, in our day comforted by a buffer of centuries we see only grace, a miracle directed to us through humility and trust. Joseph became a sign to us that no circumstance warrants despair. No human circumstance offers an excuse to say God is absent or to blame God for a lack of care. There is no time, no place where God is not present. There is never a reason to abandon our hope or lose our joy.
We look to Joseph who did the hard work of being fully human. He exhibited the long-suffering, the courage, the strength, the mercy, the humble obedience, and holiness to demonstrate he bore the image of God. He became a candle for God, allowing himself to burn in the fire of God's Spirit. He showed us during the birth of Jesus that faith need not be compromised by the ugliness of circumstances.
Joseph's God-centeredness was rooted in the ordinary routine of life. Joseph turned normal routine and necessary labor into a showplace of God's loving kindness. When he said yes to his angelic visitation, he was put to the test. Joseph prayed and paid for the privilege of seeing the glory of God. Because of his work the angels were able to sing to the shepherds: "Glory to God in the highest. . ."
If Joseph offered to place you on his prayer list, what would you say to him? Here's my suggestion: Joseph, you have been a role model of godly behavior. Pray that I can, like you, withstand any reversal of my plans, face ugly circumstances that mock God's promises, and be able to turn my routine and daily challenges into God-events, so that becoming fully human, I may bear God's image and shine as his candle. Pray that the Son you raised will shine brightly in my life. Amen.
Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com