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My People

Vol. 21, Issue 12, December 2008

"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


O Come Let Us Adore Him
"When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, He saved us; not because of any righteous deeds we had done, but because of His mercy. He saved us through the baptism of new birth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He lavished on us through Jesus Christ our Savior, that we might be justified by His grace and become heirs, in hope, of eternal life. You can depend on this to be true." (Titus 3:4-8)

United Effort Required To Meet Food Crisis

World Food Day was observed on October 16.  In a letter, dated October 13, to Jacques Diouf, Director General of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Pope Benedict XVI wrote:

"The theme chosen this year for World Food Day, 'World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy,' permits a reflection on what has been achieved in the fight against hunger and on the obstacles to the action of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the face of new challenges that threaten the life of the human family.

"This Day is being celebrated at a particularly difficult time for the world nutritional situation, when the availability of foods seems inadequate in relation to consumption and climate change contributes to endangering the survival of millions of men, women, and children, forced to leave their country in search of food. These circumstances mean that, together with the FAO, everyone must respond in terms of solidarity with actions free from all conditioning and truly at the service of the common good.

"Last June, the High-Level Conference on World Food Security afforded the FAO an opportunity to remind the International Community of its direct responsibilities for food insecurity while basic aid for emergency situations risks being limited. In the Message I addressed to the participants at the time I pointed out the need 'to adopt courageous measures, that would not stop before hunger and malnutrition, as if they simply concerned unsolvable, endemic phenomena' (Message of the Holy Father, June 2, 2008, read by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, at the headquarters of the FAO, Rome, on that date).

"The first task is to eliminate the causes that prevent authentic respect for the person's dignity. The means and resources of which the world disposes today can procure sufficient food to satisfy the growing needs of all. This has been demonstrated by the first results of the effort to increase global production levels in the face of the shortage recorded in recent harvests. So why is it not possible to prevent so many people suffering the most extreme consequences of hunger?  There are numerous reasons for this situation in which abundance and a deficit often coexist. Thus one can mention the food race that does not stop in spite of the constantly diminishing supply of foodstuffs which imposes reductions on the nutritional capacity of the poorest regions of the world, or the lack of determination to conclude negotiations and to check the selfishness of States and groups of countries or further, to put an end to that "unbridled speculation" which affects the mechanisms of prices and consumption. The absence of a correct administration of food resources caused by corruption in public life or growing investments in weapons and sophisticated military technology to the detriment of the primary needs of people also plays an important role.

"These very different reasons originate in a false sense of the values on which international relations should be based and, in particular, in the widespread attitude in contemporary culture which gives exclusive priority to the race for material goods, forgetting the true nature of the human person and his deepest aspirations. Unfortunately, the result is the inability of many to take charge of the needs of the poor and to understand them, and the denial of their inalienable dignity. An effective campaign against hunger thus demands far more than a mere scientific study to confront climate change or give priority to the agricultural production of food. It is necessary first of all to rediscover the meaning of the human person, in his individual and community dimensions, from the founding of family life, a source of love and affection from which the sense of solidarity and sharing develop. This setting satisfies the need to build relations between peoples, based on constant and authentic availability, to enable each country to satisfy the requirements of needy people but also to transmit the idea of relations based on a reciprocal exchange of knowledge, values, rapid assistance, and respect.

"This commitment to promoting effective social justice in international relations demands of each one an awareness that the goods of creation are destined for all, and that in the world community economies must be oriented toward the sharing of these goods, their lasting use, and the fair division of the benefits that derive from them.

"In the changing context of international relations, where uncertainties seem to be growing and new challenges are glimpsed, the experience acquired to date by the FAO alongside that of other Institutions active in the fight against hunger can play a fundamental role in promoting a new way of understanding international cooperation. One essential condition for increasing production levels, for guaranteeing the identity of indigenous communities as well as peace and security in the world, is to guarantee access to land, thereby favoring farm workers and upholding their rights.

"The Catholic Church is close to you in all these efforts. This is testified by the attention with which the Holy See has followed the activity of the FAO since 1948, constantly supporting your endeavors so that your commitment to the cause of the human being might be pursued. This means, in practice, openness to life, respect for the order of Creation, and adherence to the ethical principles that have always been the basis of social life.

"With these wishes, I invoke upon you, Mr. Director General, as well as upon all the representatives of the Nations, the Blessing of the Most High that you may work generously with a sense of justice for the most neglected peoples."

Pius XII: A Man Of Peace And Courage

October 9 marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, who led the church during the difficult days of World War II.  While many, including Jewish leaders, have attested to his heroic actions to save lives, other revisionist historians and authors have questioned his leadership.  He has been subjected to vicious attacks.

On October 9, a Mass was celebrated at St. Peter's Basilica to commemorate the anniversary.  Pope Benedict XVI's homily follows:

"The passage from the Book of Sirach and the Prologue to St. Peter's First Letter, proclaimed as the First and Second Readings, offer us important ideas for reflection at this Eucharistic celebration during which we are commemorating my Venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Pius XII. Exactly 50 years have passed since his death in the early hours of October 9, 1958. Sirach, as we have heard, reminded whomever intended to follow the Lord that they must prepare themselves to face trials, difficulties, and suffering. He recommended that in order not to succumb to them they needed an upright and steadfast heart, patience and fidelity to God as well as firm determination in pursuing the path of good. Suffering refines the heart of the Lord's disciple, just as gold is purified in the crucible:  'Accept whatever is brought upon you,' the sacred author writes, 'and in changes that humble you be patient.  For gold is tested in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of humiliation' (2: 4-5).

"In the passage that has been presented to us, St. Peter, for his part, goes further when he asked Christians of the communities of Asia Minor, which were being 'afflicted by various trials,' to 'rejoice' in spite of all (1 Pt 1:6).  Trial is in fact necessary, he observes, 'so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to [your] praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ' (1 Pt 1:7).  And then for the second time he urges them to rejoice, indeed to exult, with 'unutterable and exalted joy' (v. 8).  The profound reason for this spiritual rejoicing is to be found in love for Jesus and the certainty of His invisible presence.  It is He Who makes the faith and hope of believers indestructible, even in the most arduous and complicated events of life.

"In the light of these biblical texts we may interpret the earthly life of Pope Pacelli and his long service to the Church, which began in 1901, under Leo XIII, and continued with St. Pius X, Benedict XV, and Pius XI. Above all, these biblical texts help us to understand from what source he drew courage and patience in his Pontifical ministry during the tormented years of the Second World War and in the post-war period, equally complex, of reconstruction and of the difficult international relations which have passed into history known by the significant appellative 'Cold War.'

" 'Miserere mei, Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam':  with this invocation of Psalm 51[50], Pius XII began his Testament. And he continued: 'These words, which, aware of my unworthiness and insufficiency, I pronounced at the moment in which with trepidation I accepted the election as Supreme Pontiff, I now repeat with even greater justification.'  At the time he had two years to live. Abandonment in the merciful hands of God: this was the attitude constantly cultivated by my Venerable Predecessor, the last of the Popes to have been born in Rome, who belonged to a family which had been close to the Holy See for years. In Germany, where he had been Apostolic Nuncio, first in Munich and then in Berlin until 1929, he was appreciated especially for having collaborated with Benedict xv in the attempt to stop the 'senseless slaughter' of the Great War and for having realized from the outset, the danger constituted by the monstrous National-Socialist ideology with its pernicious anti-Semitic and anti-Catholic roots. He was created a Cardinal in December 1929 and, shortly afterwards, became Secretary of State.  For nine years he was a faithful collaborator of Pius XI, in an epoch marked by various brands of totalitarianism: Fascist, Nazi, and Soviet-Communist, which he respectively condemned in the Encyclicals Non abbiamo bisogno, Mit brennender sorge and Divini Redemptoris.

" 'He who hears My word and believes . . . has eternal life' (Jn 5:24).  Jesus' assurance, which we heard in the Gospel, reminds us of the hardest years of Pius XII's Pontificate when, realizing the lack of any human security, he also felt the strong need to cleave to Christ the one certainty that never fails through a constant, acetic effort.  The Word of God thus became a light on his journey, a journey on which Pope Pacelli had to console evacuees and the persecuted; he had to wipe away tears of pain and mourn the innumerable victims of the War.  Christ alone is man's true hope; only by trusting in Him can the human heart open itself to the love that conquers hate. This knowledge accompanied Pius XII in his ministry as Successor of Peter, a ministry that began precisely when the menacing clouds of a new world war were gathering over Europe and the rest of the world.  He sought to avoid this conflict in every way.  'The danger is imminent, but there is still time. Nothing is lost with peace; all can be lost with war!', he had cried in his Radio Message of August 24, 1939 (aas, xxxi, 1939, p. 334).

"The war highlighted the love he felt for his 'beloved Rome,' a love attested by the intense charitable work he promoted on behalf of the persecuted, without distinction of religion, race, nationality, or political affiliation.  When the city was occupied and he was repeatedly advised to leave the Vatican to seek safety, his determined answer was always the same: 'I will not leave Rome and my duty even if it means I should die' (cf. Summarium, p. 186).  Relatives and other witnesses also mentioned the deprivation of food, heating, clothes, comforts to which he voluntarily subjected himself in order to share the condition of the people, so harshly tried by the bombing and the consequences of war (cf. A. Tornielli, Pius XII, Un uomo sul trono di Pietro).  And how can we forget his Christmas Radio Message in December 1942?  His voice broken by emotion, he deplored the situation of 'hundreds of thousands of men and women who, without any fault of their own, sometimes only because of their nationality or race, have been consigned to death or to a slow decline' (AAS, xxxv, 1943, p. 23), with a clear reference to the deportation and extermination of the Jews. He often acted secretly and silently because, in the light of the practical situations of that complex period of history, he foresaw that only in this way could he avoid the worst and save the greatest possible number of Jews. Numerous and unanimous attestations of gratitude for his interventions were addressed to him at the end of the war, as well as at the time of his death, from the highest authorities of the Jewish world such as, for example, Israel's Minister for Foreign Affairs Golda Meir, who wrote: 'When fearful martyrdom came to our people, the voice of the Pope was raised for its victims. The life of our times was enriched by a voice speaking out about great moral truths above the tumult of daily conflict' and concluded with emotion: 'We mourn a great Servant of peace.'

"Unfortunately, the debate in history on the figure of the Servant of God Pius XII which has not always been the calmest failed to highlight all the aspects of his multi-faceted Pontificate.  He addressed an enormous number of Discourses, Allocutions, and Messages to scientists, doctors, exponents of the most widely varied categories of work. Today, some of these are still extraordinarily relevant and continue to be a reliable reference point. Paul VI, who was his faithful collaborator for many years, described him as an erudite man, a scholar, open to modern forms of research and culture, and whose fidelity both to the principles of human rationality and to the intangible deposit of the truth of the faith was always firm and consistent. Paul VI considered him a precursor to the Second Vatican Council (cf. Angelus, March 10, 1974). From this perspective many of his documents deserve mention, but I limit myself to citing just a few. In the Encyclical Mystici Corporis, published on June 29, 1943, while the War was raging, he described the spiritual and visible relations that unite people with the Incarnate Word and suggested integrating in this perspective all the principal themes of ecclesiology, offering for the first time a dogmatic and theological synthesis that was to form the basis of Lumen gentium, the Conciliar Dogmatic Constitution on the Church.

"A few months later, on  September 20, 1943, with the Encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu, he established the doctrinal norms for the study of Sacred Scripture, bringing to the fore its importance and role in Christian life. This is a Document that witnesses to great openness to scientific research on the biblical texts. How can we fail to mention this Encyclical while the work of the Synod is underway on precisely 'The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church'? It was thanks to the prophetic intuition of Pius XII that a serious study of the characteristics of ancient historiography was initiated, for a better understanding of the nature of the Sacred Books that does not diminish them or deny their historical value. The examination of 'literary genres' which aimed at understanding better what the sacred author had wished to express was viewed with some suspicion until 1943, partly because of the abuses that had occurred. The Encyclical recognized its correct application, declaring legitimate its use not only for the study of the Old Testament but also of the New.  'In the present day indeed this art which is called textual criticism and which is used with great and praiseworthy results in the editions of profane authors, is also quite rightly employed in the case of the Sacred Books, because of that very reverence which is due to the Word of God,' the Pope explained.  And he added: 'for its very purpose is to ensure that the sacred text be restored, as perfectly as possible, be purified from the corruptions due to the carelessness of the copyists and be freed, as far as may be done, from glosses and omissions, from the interchange and repetition of words and from all other kinds of mistakes, which are wont to make their way gradually into writings handed down through many centuries' (Divino afflante Spiritu, n. 17; AAS, xxxv, 1943, p. 336).

"The third Encyclical I would like to mention is Mediator Dei, on the liturgy, published on November 20, 1947.  With this Document, the Servant of God gave an impetus to the liturgical movement, insisting on the 'chief element of divine worship,' that 'must be interior. For we must always live in Christ and give ourselves to Him completely, so that in Him, with Him, and through Him the heavenly Father may be duly glorified,' he wrote. 'The sacred liturgy requires that these two elements be intimately linked with each other . . . Otherwise religion clearly amounts to mere formalism, without meaning and without content' [n. 24]. Then we cannot omit to mention the considerable impetus that this Pontiff gave to the Church's missionary activity with the Encyclicals Evangelii praecones (1951) and Fidei donum (1957), bringing to the fore every community's duty to proclaim the Gospel to the peoples, as the Second Vatican Council was to do with courageous energy. Moreover, Pope Pacelli demonstrated his love for the missions at the very beginning of his Pontificate, when in October 1939, he chose to ordain personally 12 Bishops from mission countries, among whom were one Indian, one Chinese, and one Japanese Prelate, the first African Bishop and the first Bishop of Madagascar. Finally, one of his constant pastoral concerns was the promotion of the role of lay people, so that the ecclesial community could avail itself of all available energies and resources. For this too, the Church and the world are grateful to him.

"Dear brothers and sisters, while we pray that the cause of Beatification of the Servant of God Pius XII may proceed successfully, it is good to remember that holiness was his ideal, an ideal that he did not fail to propose to all. It was for this reason that he promoted the causes of Beatification and Canonization of people who belonged to different nations, people from all the states of life, roles and professions and allowed ample room for women.  As a sign of steadfast hope, he held up to humanity Mary herself, the Woman of salvation, proclaiming the Dogma of the Assumption during the Holy Year of 1950.  In our world, assailed as it was then by preoccupations and worries about its future, in this world where, perhaps more than in any other epoch, the distancing of many from truth and virtue lets us glimpse scenarios devoid of hope, Pius XII invites us to turn our gaze to Mary, taken up into heavenly glory. He invites us to call on her confidently, so that she may make us appreciate increasingly the value of life on earth and help us to turn our gaze to the true destination to which we are all bound: eternal life which, as Jesus assures us, those who listen to and obey His words already possess. Amen!"

In Defense of Life: Unleashing Love

Fred H. Summe
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life

by Fred H. Summe

Suffering's deepest meaning is the unleashing of love.

All of us try to avoid suffering, whether it is emotional, physical, psycho-logical, mental, etc.  However, in the depths of our hearts, we acknowledge that suffering can be beneficial to us.

An unusually insightful article titled "Unleashing Love . . . Why We Care for Those Who Suffer," authored by Dr. Peter Colosi, and published in the Franciscan Way, delves into the mystery of suffering.

This philosophy professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville, at its Gaming, Austria, campus, differentiates the two kinds of love.

The love witnessed by Mother Teresa, a "love of the individual," centers around the needs of a particular person.

On the other hand, "love of mankind" sets aside the needs of any individual, in order to pursue what is perceived as best for society as a whole.  This type of love is the "love" espoused by most of today's secular humanists.

The concept of the "love of mankind," implies that meeting the needs of a particular individual can wastefully expend and drain the resources of society, thus diminishing society's ability to deal with overall suffering.

Christianity, as exemplified by Mother Teresa, also desires that the overall suffering be diminished, but Christianity never suggests reducing the suffering of mankind by ignoring the needs of a particular individual or by killing someone.

 On the other hand, secular humanists, frequently under the disguise of compassion for all, place little value on the individual, and thus find it easy to justify the killing of the unborn, the handicapped, the infirmed or the aged, in order to reduce suffering.


As Dr. Colosi observed, it is our love of an individual that "opens our eyes to the true source of the worth of persons: their inner preciousness, unrepeatability, and uniqueness…That love then has the remarkable power of allowing one to see more clearly and deeply the unique preciousness, as well as the humanity, of the person you love."

A basic message of Christianity has always been that each individual, no matter what his physical, mental, psychological, or economic condition is, still has a life worthy to be lived.  Human dignity is not based on a person's condition.

In spite of what goal our cost-conscious culture may desire to achieve, "loving each person is an infinitely higher value than cost management and perfect physical health."

"While the love you have for someone is one reason why you would never kill him, it is not the deepest reason.  The deepest reason is the inner worth of the person.  Your love for him is inside of you, but his humanity, uniqueness, and preciousness are inside of him," states Dr. Colosi.


As medical institutions, including many so-called Catholic ones, welcome legalization of euthanasia by state courts all across the country, the ancient Judeo-Christian principle that one should never kill, but always care, is being abandoned.

The withdrawing of food and hydration from a patient in order to starve him to death is now being applauded as a good, beneficial act, one which will relieve the suffering of the patient and of the family, while reducing the economic burden on society's medical resources.

"The request to be killed is actually a plea for two basic things," explained Professor Colosi, "to be loved and to find pain relief.  As soon as these people feel loved and/or have their pain managed, they no longer ask to be killed…Pain is the trump card used by pro-euthanasia activists to promote their cause, but in our high-tech world we have the ability to eliminate this reason for the request to be killed."

Human Dignity

The article then quotes a March 20, 2004, address of Pope John Paul II:

"I feel the duty to reaffirm strongly that the intrinsic value and personal dignity of every human being do not change, no matter what the concrete circumstances of his or her life.  A man, even if seriously ill or disabled in the exercise of his highest functions, is and always will be a man, and he will never become a 'vegetable' or an 'animal.'  Even our brothers and sisters who find themselves in the clinical condition of a 'vegetative state' retain their human dignity in all its fullness" (, April 5, 2004).

As we all realize, suffering is unavoidable and it is part of life.  As the Holy Father exposes, one of the deepest meanings of suffering is its ability to "unleash love."  When the individual, whether oneself or someone he loves, experiences suffering it "unleashes love."

When the suffering of the one in need combines with the suffering of the one who deeply cares, love abounds from the hearts of both, revealing a deep joy, even in the midst of pain.  The Holy Father iterates that the ability of suffering to "unleash love," "which if realized in individual cases, will eventually result in the entire civilization of love," observes Dr. Colosi.

The author concludes:  "If utilitarians are sincere in their desire to bring about the greatest good for the greatest number of people, let them strive to achieve a civilization of love on the only basis possible: the inviolable preciousness of every person."

May the Christ Child this Christmas bless you and your loved ones.

Catholics, Muslims Dialogue

Catholics and Muslims met in Vatican City in November.  Pope Benedict XVI addressed participants in a seminar on November 6.

His address follows: ". . . Our meeting takes place at the conclusion of the important Seminar organized by the 'Catholic-Muslim Forum' established between the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and representatives of the 138 Muslim leaders who signed the Open Letter to Christian leaders of October 13, 2007. This gathering is a clear sign of our mutual esteem and our desire to listen respectfully to one another. I can assure you that I have prayerfully followed the progress of your meeting, conscious that it represents one more step along the way towards greater understanding between Muslims and Christians within the framework of other regular encounters which the Holy See promotes with various Muslim groups. The Open Letter 'A Common Word between us and you' has received numerous responses, and has given rise to dialogue, specific initiatives and meetings, aimed at helping us to know one another more deeply and to grow in esteem for our shared values. The great interest which the present Seminar has awakened is an incentive for us to ensure that the reflections and the positive developments which emerge from Muslim-Christian dialogue are not limited to a small group of experts and scholars, but are passed on as a precious legacy to be placed at the service of all, to bear fruit in the way we live each day.

"The theme which you have chosen for your meeting – 'Love of God, Love of Neighbor: The Dignity of the Human Person and Mutual Respect' – is particularly significant. It was taken from the Open Letter, which presents love of God and love of neighbor as the heart of Islam and Christianity alike. This theme highlights even more clearly the theological and spiritual foundations of a central teaching of our respective religions.

"The Christian tradition proclaims that God is Love (cf. 1 Jn 4:16). It was out of love that He created the whole universe, and by His love He becomes present in human history. The love of God became visible, manifested fully and definitively in Jesus Christ.   He thus came down to meet man and, while remaining God, took on our nature. He gave Himself in order to restore full dignity to each person and to bring us salvation. How could we ever explain the mystery of the incarnation and the redemption except by Love?  This infinite and eternal love enables us to respond by giving all our love in return: love for God and love for neighbor.  This truth, which we consider foundational, was what I wished to emphasize in my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, since this is a central teaching of the Christian faith. Our calling and mission is to share freely with others the love which God lavishes upon us without any merit of our own.

"I am well aware that Muslims and Christians have different approaches in matters regarding God.  Yet we can and must be worshippers of the one God Who created us and is concerned about each person in every corner of the world.  Together we must show, by our mutual respect and solidarity, that we consider ourselves members of one family: the family that God has loved and gathered together from the creation of the world to the end of human history.

"I was pleased to learn that you were able at this meeting to adopt a common position on the need to worship God totally and to love our fellow men and women disinterestedly, especially those in distress and need. God calls us to work together on behalf of the victims of disease, hunger, poverty, injustice, and violence. For Christians, the love of God is inseparably bound to the love of our brothers and sisters, of all men and women, without distinction of race and culture. As Saint John writes: 'Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God Whom they have not seen' (1 Jn 4:20).

"The Muslim tradition is also quite clear in encouraging practical commitment in serving the most needy, and readily recalls the 'Golden Rule' in its own version: your faith will not be perfect, unless you do unto others that which you wish for yourselves.  We should thus work together in promoting genuine respect for the dignity of the human person and fundamental human rights, even though our anthropological visions and our theologies justify this in different ways. There is a great and vast field in which we can act together in defending and promoting the moral values which are part of our common heritage. Only by starting with the recognition of the centrality of the person and the dignity of each human being, respecting and defending life which is the gift of God, and is thus sacred for Christians and for Muslims alike – only on the basis of this recognition, can we find a common ground for building a more fraternal world, a world in which confrontations and differences are peacefully settled, and the devastating power of ideologies is neutralized.

"My hope, once again, is that these fundamental human rights will be protected for all people everywhere. Political and religious leaders have the duty of ensuring the free exercise of these rights in full respect for each individual's freedom of conscience and freedom of religion. The discrimination and violence which even today religious people experience throughout the world, and the often violent persecutions to which they are subject, represent unacceptable and unjustifiable acts, all the more grave and deplorable when they are carried out in the name of God. God's name can only be a name of peace and fraternity, justice and love. We are challenged to demonstrate, by our words and above all by our deeds, that the message of our religions is unfailingly a message of harmony and mutual understanding. It is essential that we do so, lest we weaken the credibility and the effectiveness not only of our dialogue, but also of our religions themselves.

"I pray that the 'Catholic-Muslim Forum,' now confidently taking its first steps, can become ever more a space for dialogue, and assist us in treading together the path to an ever fuller knowledge of Truth. The present meeting is also a privileged occasion for committing ourselves to a more heartfelt quest for love of God and love of neighbor, the indispensable condition for offering the men and women of our time an authentic service of reconciliation and peace.

"Dear friends, let us unite our efforts, animated by good will, in order to overcome all misunderstanding and disagreements.  Let us resolve to overcome past prejudices and to correct the often distorted images of the other which even today can create difficulties in our relations; let us work with one another to educate all people, especially the young, to build a common future.  May God sustain us in our good intentions, and enable our communities to live consistently the truth of love, which constitutes the heart of the religious man, and is the basis of respect for the dignity of each person.  May God, the merciful and compassionate One, assist us in this challenging mission, protect us, bless us, and enlighten us always with the power of His love."

Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

Thanking God for Blessed John XXIII

image "The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus. It was He Who sacrificed Himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse for Himself a people of His own, eager to do what is right" (Titus 2:11-14).

vatican city — October 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the election of Pope John XXIII.  At a Mass to commemorate this anniversary, Pope Benedict XVI thanked God ". . . who has granted us to relive the announcement of great joy (gaudium magnum) that rang out 50 years ago on this day and at this time from the Loggia of the Vatican Basilica.  It was a prelude and prophecy of the experience of fatherhood that God was to offer us in abundance through the words, acts, and ecclesial service of the Good Pope.  God's grace was preparing a demanding and promising season for the Church and society, and in the docility to the Spirit that distinguished the entire life of John XXIII it found the good soil in which concord, hope, unity, and peace would germinate for the good of all of humanity.  Pope John pointed to faith in Christ and belonging to the Church, Mother and Teacher, as a guarantee of a fruitful Christian witness in the world.  Thus, in the strong contrasts of his time, the Pope was a man and pastor of peace who was able to open in the East and in the West unexpected horizons of brotherhood between Christians and of dialogue with all."

The Pope continued ". . . The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council was a truly special gift, offered to the Church by John XXIII, who decided, prepared, and inaugurated it.  We are all committed to accepting this gift appropriately, continuing to meditate on its teachings and applying its active guidelines in life." The Holy Father referred to the importance of the parish and the family:  "It is in the parish that one learns to actually live out one's faith.  This makes it possible to keep alive the rich tradition of the past and to re-propose its values in a secularized social milieu that is frequently hostile or indifferent.  Thinking precisely of such situations, Pope John said in his Encyclical Pacem in terris: the believer 'must be a glowing point of light in the world, a nucleus of love, a leaven of the whole mass.  He will be so in proportion to his degree of spiritual union with God' (n. 164).  This was the great Pontiff's life program and it can become the ideal of every believer and every Christian community that knows how to draw from the Eucharistic celebration, from the fount of the gratuitous, faithful, and merciful love of the Risen Crucified One.

"Allow me to place a special emphasis on the family, the central subject of ecclesial life, the womb of education in the faith and the irreplaceable cell of social life. In this regard the future Pope John wrote in a letter to his relatives:  'The education that leaves the deepest traces is always that provided at home. I have forgotten much of what I have read in books but I still remember very clearly all that I learned from my parents and from the elderly' (December 20, 1932). In particular, in the family's daily life one learns to live the fundamental Christian precept of love. This is precisely why the Church counts on the family, whose mission it is to express everywhere, through her children, 'the fullness of Christian charity, than which nothing is more effective in eradicating the seeds of discord, nothing more efficacious in promoting concord, just peace, and the brotherly unity of all' (Gaudet Mater Ecclesia) . . ."    

(Source:  L'Osservatore Romano English edition)

New Church Groups Are a Precious Resource

image "The virgin shall be with child and give birth to a son, and they shall calll Him Emmanual," a name which means "God is with us."  (Mt 1:23)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI addressed a meeting organized by the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships on October 31.

In his address, the Pope said:  ". . . The Ecclesial Movements and New Communities which blossomed after the Second Vatican Council, constitute a unique gift of the Lord and a precious resource for the life of the Church. They should be accepted with trust and valued for the various contributions they place at the service of the common benefit in an ordered and fruitful way. Your current reflection on the centrality of Christ in preaching is very interesting as well as on the importance of 'Charisms in the life of the particular Church,' referring to Pauline theology, the New Testament, and the experience of the Charismatic Renewal. What we learn in the New Testament on charism, which appeared as visible signs of the coming of the Holy Spirit, is not a historical event of the past, but a reality ever alive. It is the same divine Spirit, soul of the Church, that acts in every age and those mysterious and effective interventions of the Spirit are manifest in our time in a providential way. The Movements and New Communities are like an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the Church and in contemporary society. We can, therefore, rightly say that one of the positive elements and aspects of the Community of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal is precisely their emphasis on the charisms or gifts of the Holy Spirit and their merit lies in having recalled their topicality in the Church.

"The People who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing . . . for a child is born to us, a Son is given us; upon His shoulder dominion rests.  They made Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace."
(Is 9:1-2,5)

"In various Documents the Second Vatican Council makes reference to the Movements and new Ecclesial Communities, especially in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, where we read: 'Whether these charisms be very remarkable or more simple and widely diffused, they are to be received with thanksgiving and consolation' (n. 12). Later the Catechism of the Catholic Church also emphasized the value and importance of new charisms in the Church, whose authenticity however is guaranteed by their openness to subject themselves to the discernment of the ecclesiastic authority (cf. n. 2003). Precisely because we are assisting at a promising flowering of Movements and Ecclesial Communities, it is important that Pastors exercise prudent and wise discernment in their regard. I sincerely hope that dialogue between Pastors and Ecclesial Movements intensifies at all levels: parish, diocesan, and with the Apostolic See. I know that opportune ways are being studied to give Pontifical recognition to the New Movements and Ecclesial Communities and many have already received it. This fact the recognition or establishment of international associations on the part of the Holy See for the universal Church Pastors, especially Bishops, cannot fail to take it into account in their dutiful discernment that lies within their competence (cf. Congregation for Bishops, Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops Apostolorum Successores, ch. 4, 8) . . .

"Dear brothers and sisters, safeguarding the fidelity to the Catholic and ecclesial identity on the part of each one of your communities will permit you to render everywhere a living and active witness of the profound mystery of the Church. And it will be this indeed that promotes the capacity of the various communities to attract new members. I entrust the work of your respective conventions to the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church, living Temple of the Holy Spirit, and to the intercession of Sts. Francis and Clare of Assisi, examples of holiness and spiritual renewal, while I affectionately impart to you and to all your communities a special Apostolic Blessing."


Pray The News

image "Today in the city of David a Savior has been born for you: you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests' " (Lk 2:11-14).

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.

  • We pray for all to grow closer to the Christ Child this Advent and Christmas season.
  • We pray for solidarity in the efforts to fight world hunger.
  • We pray that suffering will result in a great unleashing of love.
  • We pray for the truth to be known about the efforts of Pope Pius XII.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, and all attacks against life.
  • We pray for those in economic need.
  • We pray for the transition to a new administration in the United States to be under the Lordship of Jesus.
  • We pray for continued efforts in Catholic-Muslim dialogue and understanding.

Edge To Edge

by Michael Halm


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