"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
Pro-lifers rallied at Fountain Square in Cincinnati on January 24 in support of life. (Photo provided by Fred Summe)
Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the traditional practice of fasting in his message for Lent. The message, dated December 11, follows:
"At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving, fasting – to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God's power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, 'dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride' (Paschal Præconium). For this year's Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord's fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public ministry. We read in the Gospel: 'Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards He was hungry' (Mt 4:1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34:28) and Elijah's fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19:8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.
"We might wonder what value and meaning there is for us Christians in depriving ourselves of something that in itself is good and useful for our bodily sustenance. The Sacred Scriptures and the entire Christian tradition teach that fasting is a great help to avoid sin and all that leads to it. For this reason, the history of salvation is replete with occasions that invite fasting. In the very first pages of Sacred Scripture, the Lord commands man to abstain from partaking of the prohibited fruit: 'You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die' (Gn 2:16-17). Commenting on the divine injunction, Saint Basil observes that 'fasting was ordained in Paradise,' and 'the first commandment in this sense was delivered to Adam.' He thus concludes: ' "You shall not eat" is a law of fasting and abstinence' (cf. Sermo de jejunio: PG 31, 163, 98). Since all of us are weighed down by sin and its consequences, fasting is proposed to us as an instrument to restore friendship with God. Such was the case with Ezra, who, in preparation for the journey from exile back to the Promised Land, calls upon the assembled people to fast so that 'we might humble ourselves before our God' (8,21). The Almighty heard their prayer and assured them of His favor and protection. In the same way, the people of Nineveh, responding to Jonah's call to repentance, proclaimed a fast, as a sign of their sincerity, saying: 'Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from His fierce anger, so that we perish not?' (3,9). In this instance, too, God saw their works and spared them.
"In the New Testament, Jesus brings to light the profound motive for fasting, condemning the attitude of the Pharisees, who scrupulously observed the prescriptions of the law, but whose hearts were far from God. True fasting, as the divine Master repeats elsewhere, is rather to do the will of the Heavenly Father, Who 'sees in secret, and will reward you' (Mt 6:18). He Himself sets the example, answering Satan, at the end of the forty days spent in the desert that 'man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God' (Mt 4:4). The true fast is thus directed to eating the 'true food,' which is to do the Father's will (cf. Jn 4: 34). If, therefore, Adam disobeyed the Lord's command 'of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat,' the believer, through fasting, intends to submit himself humbly to God, trusting in His goodness and mercy.
"The practice of fasting is very present in the first Christian community (cf. Acts 13:3; 14:22; 27:21; 2 Cor 6:5). The Church Fathers, too, speak of the force of fasting to bridle sin, especially the lusts of the 'old Adam,' and open in the heart of the believer a path to God. Moreover, fasting is a practice that is encountered frequently and recommended by the saints of every age. Saint Peter Chrysologus writes: 'Fasting is the soul of prayer, mercy is the lifeblood of fasting. So if you pray, fast; if you fast, show mercy; if you want your petition to be heard, hear the petition of others. If you do not close your ear to others, you open God's ear to yourself' (Sermo 43: PL 52, 320, 322).
"In our own day, fasting seems to have lost something of its spiritual meaning, and has taken on, in a culture characterized by the search for material well-being, a therapeutic value for the care of one's body. Fasting certainly brings benefits to physical well-being, but for believers, it is, in the first place, a 'therapy' to heal all that prevents them from conformity to the will of God. In the Apostolic Constitution Pænitemini of 1966, the Servant of God Paul VI saw the need to present fasting within the call of every Christian to 'no longer live for himself, but for Him Who loves him and gave Himself for him . . . he will also have to live for his brethren' (cf. Ch. I). Lent could be a propitious time to present again the norms contained in the Apostolic Constitution, so that the authentic and perennial significance of this long held practice may be rediscovered, and thus assist us to mortify our egoism and open our heart to love of God and neighbor, the first and greatest Commandment of the new Law and compendium of the entire Gospel (cf. Mt 22:34-40).
"The faithful practice of fasting contributes, moreover, to conferring unity to the whole person, body and soul, helping to avoid sin and grow in intimacy with the Lord. Saint Augustine, who knew all too well his own negative impulses, defining them as 'twisted and tangled knottiness' (Confessions II: 10.18), writes: 'I will certainly impose privation, but it is so that He will forgive me, to be pleasing in His eyes, that I may enjoy His delightfulness' (Sermo 400: 3, 3: PL 40, 708). Denying material food, which nourishes our body, nurtures an interior disposition to listen to Christ and be fed by His saving word. Through fasting and praying, we allow Him to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.
"At the same time, fasting is an aid to open our eyes to the situation in which so many of our brothers and sisters live. In his First Letter, Saint John admonishes: 'If anyone has the world's goods, and sees his brother in need, yet shuts up his bowels of compassion from him – how does the love of God abide in him?' (3:17). Voluntary fasting enables us to grow in the spirit of the Good Samaritan, who bends low and goes to the help of his suffering brother (cf. Encyclical Deus caritas est, 15). By freely embracing an act of self-denial for the sake of another, we make a statement that our brother or sister in need is not a stranger. It is precisely to keep alive this welcoming and attentive attitude towards our brothers and sisters that I encourage the parishes and every other community to intensify in Lent the custom of private and communal fasts, joined to the reading of the Word of God, prayer and almsgiving. From the beginning, this has been the hallmark of the Christian community, in which special collections were taken up (cf. 2 Cor 8-9; Rm 15:25-27), the faithful being invited to give to the poor what had been set aside from their fast (Didascalia Ap., V, 20,18). This practice needs to be rediscovered and encouraged again in our day, especially during the liturgical season of Lent.
"From what I have said thus far, it seems abundantly clear that fasting represents an important ascetical practice, a spiritual arm to do battle against every possible disordered attachment to ourselves. Freely chosen detachment from the pleasure of food and other material goods helps the disciple of Christ to control the appetites of nature, weakened by original sin, whose negative effects impact the entire human person. Quite opportunely, an ancient hymn of the Lenten liturgy exhorts: 'Utamur ergo parcius, / verbis cibis et potibus, / somno, iocis et arctius / perstemus in custodia – Let us use sparingly words, food and drink, sleep and amusements. May we be more alert in the custody of our senses.'
"Dear brothers and sisters, it is good to see how the ultimate goal of fasting is to help each one of us, as the Servant of God Pope John Paul II wrote, to make the complete gift of self to God (cf. Encyclical Veritatis splendor, 21). May every family and Christian community use well this time of Lent, therefore, in order to cast aside all that distracts the spirit and grow in whatever nourishes the soul, moving it to love of God and neighbor. I am thinking especially of a greater commitment to prayer, lectio divina, recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and active participation in the Eucharist, especially the Holy Sunday Mass. With this interior disposition, let us enter the penitential spirit of Lent. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Causa nostrae laetitiae, accompany and support us in the effort to free our heart from slavery to sin, making it evermore a 'living tabernacle of God.' With these wishes, while assuring every believer and ecclesial community of my prayer for a fruitful Lenten journey, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing."
In his video address at the conclusion of Mass ending the Sixth World Meeting of Families in Mexico City, Pope Benedict XVI discussed the contributions the Christian family can make to society. In his January 18 address, the Pope indicated:
"We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world."
-St. Francis of Assisi
"This World Meeting of Families has aimed to encourage Christian homes so that their members may be people who are free and rich in human and Gospel values, on their way towards holiness; that is the best service that we Christians can offer contemporary society. The Christian response to the challenges that confront the family and human life in general must face consists in reinforcing trust in the Lord and the vigor that derives from faith itself, which is nourished in attentive listening to the Word of God.
"How beautiful it is to gather as a family to let God speak to the hearts of its members through His living and effective Word. In prayer, especially in the recitation of the Rosary, as it was recited yesterday, the family contemplates the mysteries of the life of Jesus, interiorizes the values on which it meditates, and feels called to embody them in its life.
"The family is an indispensable foundation for society and for peoples, just as it is an irreplaceable good for children, whose coming into the world as the fruit of love, of the total and generous gift of their parents, deserve to be born. As Jesus demonstrated by honoring the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, the family occupies a fundamental role in a person's upbringing. It is a true school of humanity and perennial values. No one has given life to himself.
"From others we received life, which develops and matures with the truths and values that we learn in our relationship and communion with others. In this regard, the family founded on the indissoluble matrimony of a man and a woman is the expression of the relational, filial, and communal dimensions. It is the setting in which men and women can be born with dignity, and can grow and develop in an integral manner (cf. Homily at Holy Mass for the Fifth World Meeting of Families, Valencia, July 9, 2006).
"However, this educational task is complicated by a deceptive concept of freedom, in which caprice and the subjective impulses of the individual are exalted to the point of leaving each person locked within the prison of his own self. The true freedom of the human being derives from his creation in the image and likeness of God. For this reason freedom must be exercised responsibly, always opting for the authentic good so that it may become love, a gift of self. For this reason, more than theories, the intimacy and love that are characteristic of the family community are needed. It is at home that people truly learn to live, to value life and health, freedom and peace, justice and truth, work, harmony and respect.
"Today more than ever the witness and public commitment of all the baptized is necessary to reaffirm the dignity and the unique, irreplaceable value of the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman open to life, and also of human life in all of its stages.
"Legal and administrative measures must be promoted that support families with their inalienable rights, necessary if they are to continue to carry out their extraordinary mission. The witnesses given at yesterday's celebration show that today too the family can stand firm in the love of God and renew humanity in the new millennium.
"I wish to express my closeness and to assure my prayers for all the families that bear witness to fidelity in especially difficult circumstances. I encourage the many families who, at times living in the midst of setbacks and misunderstandings, set an example of generosity and trust in God, in the hope that they will not lack the assistance they need. I am also thinking of the families who are suffering because of poverty, sickness, marginalization or emigration and, most especially, of Christian families that are being persecuted for their faith. The Pope is very close to all of you and accompanies you in your daily efforts.
"Before concluding this meeting, I am pleased to announce that the Seventh World Meeting of Families will take place, God willing, in Italy, in the city of Milan in the year 2012, on the theme: 'The family, work and celebration' . . .
"I entrust all the families of the world to the protection of the Most Holy Virgin, so widely venerated in the noble land of Mexico under the title of Guadalupe. To her, the one who always reminds us that our happiness lies in doing Christ's will (cf. Jn 2:5), I now say:
"Most Holy Mother of Guadalupe,
who have shown your love
and your tenderness to the peoples of the American continent,
fill with joy and hope all the peoples and families of the world.
"We entrust to you,
who go before us and guide us on our journey of faith
towards the eternal Homeland,
the joys, the plans, the anxieties, and the desires of all families.
to you we turn, trusting in your tenderness as Mother.
Do not ignore the prayers we address to you
for the whole world's families
in this crucial period in history;
instead, welcome us all in your heart as Mother
and guide us on our way towards the heavenly Homeland.
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life
One way of building up "an authentic culture of life," suggested Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Evangelium Vitae, is the donation of organs, "performed in an authentically accepted manner..."
In the name of fraternal charity, the Church encourages organ transplants. Under moral law, the Church, however, places restrictions on organ donations.
When discussing the Church's position on organ donations, there are two relevant types of organ transplants: inter vivos and postmortem.
An example in the first category would be a donation of bone marrow or of one of two healthy kidneys. Organ transplants such as these do not threaten the life or health of the donor.
On the other hand, organs which are necessary for sustaining life can be donated only after the death of the donor. These would include such vital organs as the heart, lung, and liver.
As set out in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2296, there are three requirements. The first requirement is that there must be informed consent given by the donor or someone who can legitimately make such a decision.
Secondly, moral law requires that "the physical and psychological dangers and risks incurred by the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient."
"How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too
— Mother Teresa
Thirdly, the Catechism teaches: "It is morally inadmissible directly to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order to delay the death of the other persons."
In other words, if the removal of the vital organs from the donor causes or hastens his death, then the organ transplant is morally wrong.
The natural moral law, as taught by Christianity for two thousand years, holds that evil may never be done that good might come of it (Romans 3:8). The end does not justify the means.
The removal of vital organs that would cause or hasten the death of the donor is intrinsically evil and no matter what "good" may be the purpose for the removal, it is morally impermissible. The fact that the donor's death is inevitable and imminent does not morally authorize another to cause or quicken the death of that person.
After death has occurred, the Church would not only permit, but also encourage removal of any vital organs that could benefit those who are ill. However, the difficulty arises in the fact that many vital organs when taken from a person who is surely deceased, are then unsuitable for transplantation.
As reported in Catholic World Report in 2000, Pope John Paul II stated: "Vital organs which occur singly in the body can be removed only after death -- that is, from the body of someone who is certainly dead."
The problem arises that if doctors wait to make sure that a person is "certainly dead," the vital organ may also die and is no longer beneficial.
Can it be determined with certainty that death has occurred prior to the vital organs deteriorating to a state where they can no longer be used for transplantation?
Writing in the Catholic World Report, Bishop Fabian Wendelin Bruskewitz and Bishop Robert T. Vasa, joined by members of the medical community, conclude: "... we maintain that the present human transplantation procedures promote the intrinsic good of the recipient while not preserving, but rather extinguishing, the life of the donor.
"However, the medical community knows that unpaired vital organs taken from a 'certainly dead' donor are unsuitable for transplantation.
"... when healthy vital organs are taken in accordance with the legal common practice of medicine, the donor is killed."
U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt (R) addresses the Pro-life rally at Cincinnati Fountain Square on Saturday, January 24.
In order to facilitate organ donations, there have been numerous attempts to redefine death in an arbitrary fashion divorced from true biological facts. Bishop Bruskewitz and his co-authors warn: "Every transplant center agrees that death is whatever and whenever a doctor says it is."
Last November, Pope Benedict XVI praised the meritorious nature of the act of organ donation, but condemned the abuses in the organ transplant industry. He reminded all that: "It is helpful to remember, however, that the individual vital organs cannot be extracted except ex cadavere . . . In these years science has accomplished further progress in certifying the death of the patient. It is good, therefore, that the results attained receive the consent of the entire scientific community in order to further research for solutions that give certainty to all. In an area such as this, in fact, there cannot be the slightest suspicion of arbitration, and where certainty has not been attained the principle of precaution must prevail. …However, in these cases the principal criteria of respect for the life of the donor must always prevail so that the extraction of organs be performed only in the case of his true death."
Dr. A. Alan Shewmon, professor of neurology and pediatrics at UCLA, after praising the Pope's references to "the entire scientific community" and "certainty," stated: "It can hardly be claimed that there is a 'consensus of the entire scientific community' and 'certainty' regarding the diagnosis of brain death, when some countries define it in terms of the whole brain while others in terms of only the brain stem…there is a persistent current of publications in the medical and philosophical literatures questioning whether any sort of purely neurological 'death' is true death…Until a true professional consensus is reached on such important aspects, 'the principle of caution should prevail.'"
Christians must not be misled by "legal" definitions of death. Just because a law, or an "accepted" medical "ethic" may assert when death occurs, the definition cannot change the reality when death does in fact occur. In determining what is right and what is wrong, an individual must look to reality, and not to an arbitrary definition.
"Let us search and examine our ways that we may return to the Lord! Let
us reach out our hearts toward God in heaven!"
Even if the condition of an individual may result in that person being declared dead under a prevailing definition, if in realty, he is living, and vital organs are removed, causing his death, then he was killed. Ignoring the fact that someone is killed, in order to make available more organ transplants to those whose lives may be saved, is justifying an evil by arguing it will accomplish a good.
Paul A. Byrne, M.D., former president of the Catholic Medical Association, writing in Celebrate Life, published by American Life League, warns that patients have been declared "brain dead," and are alive today. He relates the story of 21-year-old Zack Dunlap, who four hours after an accident was declared "brain-dead." As they were preparing to remove his organs, a nurse scraped his foot and beneath one of his fingernails, whereupon he moved. He later stated that he heard doctors pronounce him dead twice.
Organ donation will only build up an authentic culture of life if it first respects the sanctity of each human life, from fertilization to natural death.
Debt slavery is nothing new. Proverbs 22:7 says, "The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender." Saint Paul advised, "Owe no debt to anyone except the debt that binds us to love one another." (Romans 13:8)
However, most debtors today don't even realize how enslaved they are. Credit Cards.com found more than 90 percent of those surveyed thought themselves as having the same — or less — debt as the average American.
The average college graduate is now $20,000 in debt and the average principal amount owed on a mortgage, before bailouts, was about $70,000. Myvesta.org figures the average American spends $1.22 for every dollar they earn.
According to the latest consumer debt statistics by the Federal Reserve Bank, U.S. consumers are indebted to the tune of over $2.5 trillion. Of that, almost $1 trillion is revolving consumer (credit card) debt. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve, however, 25% have no credit cards, and slightly more pay off their entire balance every month. Less than half owe all the credit card debt.
Besides this private debt, we all have a huge national debt. To keep track of the national debt Seymour Durst put up a debt clock in New York in 1989, when it was about 2.7 trillion dollars. When it passed ten trillion late in 2008, the dollar sign was replaced with a one. A re-design is underway, with enough space for a quadrillion dollars, which might last more than another twenty years. Right now it figures to be over $37,000 per capita.
As Neal Boortz explains it, "A politician cannot spend one dime on any spending project without first taking that dime from the person who earned it. So, when a politician votes for a spending bill, he is saying that he believes the government should spend that particular dollar rather than the individual who worked for it."
National Defense accounts for most of the national debt. The country was born in debt from the Revolutionary War, but on January 8, 1835, President Andrew Jackson paid it off. It soon returned, however, skyrocketing from $65 million to $16,569 million with the Civil War. After World War II it was $260 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about three trillion 1835 dollars.
Income redistribution programs such as the Departments of Health and Human Services, HUD, and Agriculture (food stamps) account for the second largest portion of the debt. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has written that: "Future growth in spending per beneficiary for Medicare and Medicaid — the federal government's major health care programs — will be the most important determinant of long-term trends in federal spending." The interest on the debt is the third largest portion of the debt.
It is no wonder, therefore, that Andrew L. Yarrow, author of Forgive Us Our Debts, writes, "Americans feel like they are paying a lot on April 15, only to see highways clogged and deteriorating, workers' livelihoods not being protected, global warming going unaddressed, schools failing, and sundry other failing public services."
Defaulting on the debt, however, is not considered a viable solution. It would do great damage to many pension funds, life insurance companies, banks, state, county, and municipal governments, and foreign governments, securities, 22 percent of those are to China, 19 to Japan, and 12 to the United Kingdom.
All is not hopeless, however, at least for some of the most indebted countries. Rev. Bob Edgar in "Ending Debt Slavery" says, "Thanks to debt relief commitments in 1999 and 2005, now more than 20 countries have seen 100% debt cancellation from the IMF, World Bank, and African Development Bank.
(Editor's Note: Mr. Diller writes from Pennsylvania. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Do not attempt to be the star of the show; be the co-star or supporting actor. Help the other actors look good. The leading man is number one, and the co-star second. Give the main performer the applause. The co-star and the featured artist both play significant roles. The script has been written and doesn't need to be changed. Your function is to support the entire cast and obey the instructions of the director. The goal is to create a good movie, one that you'd like to watch, a show that is inspiring and encouraging to the audience.
Each new scene contributes to the whole presentation. All scenes are equally important or vital to each other. Nothing is unimportant. Rehearsal is as important as the performance. When alone in the privacy of solitude, ponder your principles. Get ready to serve your fellowman with good acting and study how to portray your character. Be prepared, bless others with your good performance.
Focused attention should be placed on the present act. The act you already performed in the last scene is over. Your errors and mistakes can be noticed, then corrected. Don't bring mistakes into the new scene. You did your best so move on without dejection.
Follow the desires of the director. Seek His approval, make sure you hear His voice. He knows what the picture should resemble, He knows the whole story line.
Do not judge the ability of other players. The director will make the corrections as needed. The more you seek to please, the more you will be pleased.
Respond in a positive manner to each actor that speaks with you. When you hear a voice directing words your way, open your mouth and let your lines come out. You be spontaneous; others too are spontaneous actors speaking lines that come to them.
Get ready to perform. The curtain rises and the show called life begins. Your part to play is to be a helper, the co-star, and not the leading man. The one you speak with is always more important than yourself.
VATICAN CITY — In his Angelus message on February 15, Pope Benedict XVI referred to that day's Gospel of the healing of a leper (Mk 1:40-45) and stressed the importance of the Sacrament of Penance.
The Pope said: "Jesus said to the leper: 'Be made clean!' According to the ancient Jewish law (cf. Lv 13-14), leprosy was not only considered a disease but also the most serious form of ritual 'impurity.' It was the priests' duty to diagnose it and to declare unclean the sick person who had to be isolated from the community and live outside the populated area until his eventual and well-certified recovery. Thus, leprosy constituted a kind of religious and civil death, and its healing a kind of resurrection. It is possible to see leprosy as a symbol of sin, which is the true impurity of heart that can distance us from God. It is not in fact the physical disease of leprosy that separates us from God as the ancient norms supposed but sin, spiritual and moral evil. This is why the Psalmist exclaims: 'Blessed is he whose fault is taken away, whose sin is covered,' and then says, addressing God: 'I acknowledged my sin to You, my guilt I covered not. I said, 'I confess my faults to the Lord' and You took away the guilt of my sin" (32: 1, 5). The sins that we commit distance us from God and, if we do not humbly confess them, trusting in divine mercy, they will finally bring about the death of the soul. This miracle thus has a strong symbolic value. Jesus, as Isaiah had prophesied, is the Servant of the Lord Who 'has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows' (Is 53: 4). In His Passion He will become as a leper, made impure by our sins, separated from God: He will do all this out of love, to obtain for us reconciliation, forgiveness, and salvation. In the Sacrament of Penance, the Crucified and Risen Christ purifies us through His ministers with His infinite mercy, restores us to communion with the heavenly Father and with our brothers, and makes us a gift of His love, His joy, and His peace. His peace.
"Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary whom God preserved from every stain of sin so that she may help us to avoid sin and to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Confession, the sacrament of forgiveness, whose value and importance for our Christian life must be rediscovered today."
new york — The United Nations Security Council has been considering the issue of protection of civilians in armed conflicts. Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, pointed out at a Janaury 14 Security Council meeting that: "The Security Council has been dealing with the topic of the protection of civilians in armed conflicts for more than ten years. Yet civilian security during conflict is becoming more and more critical, if not at times dramatic, as we have been witnessing in these past months, weeks, and days in the Gaza Strip, Iraq, Darfur, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to name just a few."
He continued . . . "The overwhelming mistreatment of civilians in too many parts of the world does not seem to be just a side effect of war. We continue to see civilians deliberately targeted as a means for achieving political or military gains. In the past few days we have witnessed a practical failure, from every side, to respect the distinction of civilians from military targets. It is sadly clear that political and military designs supersede basic respect for the dignity and rights of persons and communities, when methods or armaments are used without taking all reasonable measures to avoid civilians; when women and children are used as a shield for combatants; when humanitarian access is denied in the Gaza Strip; when people are displaced and villages destroyed in Darfur and when we see sexual violence devastating the lives of women and children in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.f the Congo.
"We adore You, O Christ, and we praise You because by Your Holy Cross, You have
redeemed the world." the world
– St. Francis of Assisi
"In such a context, protection of civilians requires not only a renewed commitment to humanitarian law, but demands first and foremost good political will and action. Protection of civilians must be based on a widespread responsible exercise of leadership. This requires leaders to exercise the right to defend their own citizens or the right to self-determination by resorting only to legitimate means; and it requires them to fully recognize their responsibility toward the international community and respect other States and communities' right to exist and coexist in peace. The broad spectrum of mechanisms the UN is putting in place to ensure the protection of civilians will be successful if, at the very least, it is able to foster a culture of responsible exercise of leadership among its members and holds them and every party in a conflict accountable to such a responsibility towards individuals and communities.
"The increasing burden of war casualties and consequences imposed on civilians comes also from the massive production, continued innovation and sophistication of armaments. The ever higher quality and availability of small arms and light weapons, as well as anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions, tragically make the killing of human beings that much easier and more efficient. In this context, my delegation fully supports and encourages the objectives of the recent General Assembly resolution Towards an Arms Trade Treaty, which lays down the first important step toward a legally binding instrument on arms trade and transfers. Likewise, my delegation welcomes the adoption of the Cluster Munitions Convention and encourages countries to ratify this treaty as a matter of priority and a sign of their commitment to addressing civilian casualties . . (Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
Pope Benedict XVI stressed the importance of the family in his message to those participating in the recitation of the Rosary on January 17 at the Sixth World Day of Families in Mexico City.
The Pope said: "The theme of this Sixth World Meeting of Families, The family, teacher of human and Christian values, reminds us that the home environment is a school of humanity and Christian life for all its members, with beneficial consequences for people, the Church, and society. In fact, the home is called to live and to foster reciprocal love and truth, respect and justice, loyalty and collaboration, service and availability to others, especially the weakest. The Christian home, which must 'show forth to all men Christ's living presence in the world and the authentic nature of the Church' (Gaudium et spes, n. 48), must be imbued with God's presence, placing in His hands everyday events and asking His help in carrying out its indispensable mission.ble mission.
"For this reason prayer in the family at the most suitable and significant moments is of supreme importance since, as the Lord Himself assured us: 'Where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I in the midst of them' (Mt 18:20). And the Teacher is certainly with the family that listens and meditates on the Word of God, that learns from Him what is most important in life (cf. Lk 10:41-42) and puts His teachings into practice (cf. Lk 11:28). In this way, personal and family life is transformed, gradually improved and enriched with dialogue, faith is transmitted to the children, the pleasure of being together grows and the home is further united and consolidated, like the house built upon rock (cf. Mt 7: 24-25). May Pastors not cease to help families to benefit fully from the Word of God in Sacred Scripture.
"With the strength that stems from prayer the family is transformed into a community of disciples and missionaries of Christ. In the family the Gospel is welcomed, passed on and it radiates. As my venerable Predecessor Pope Paul VI said: 'The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them' (Evangelii nuntiandi, n. 71).
"By living filial trust and obedience to God, fidelity and the generous acceptance of children, care for the weakest and promptness in forgiving, the Christian family becomes a living Gospel legible to all (cf. 2 Cor 3:2), as a sign of credibility that is perhaps more persuasive and better able to challenge the world today. The family should also bring its witness of life and explicit profession of faith to the various contexts of its surroundings, such as the school and various other associations. It should also be committed to the catechetical formation of the children and the pastoral activities of its parish community, especially those related to preparation for marriage or specifically addressed to family life.
"Coexistence in the home is a gift for people and a source of inspiration for social coexistence, showing that freedom and solidarity are complementary, that the good of each one must take into account the good of the others and that strict justice demands openness to understanding and forgiveness for the sake of the common good. Indeed, social relations can take as a reference point the values that constitute authentic family life in order to become increasingly humanized every day and directed towards building 'the civilization of love.'
"Furthermore, the family is also a vital cell of society, the first and decisive resource for its development. It is also, frequently, the last resort for people whose needs the established structures cannot meet satisfactorily.
"[T]here is little perception of our fundamental need of God's forgiveness . .
. Our modern consciousness . . . is generally no longer aware of the fact that
we stand as debtors before God and that sin is a reality which can be overcome
only by God's initiative."
— Pope Benedict XV
"Because of its essential role in society, the family has a right to have its proper identity recognized that is not to be confused with other forms of coexistence. It is likewise entitled to expect proper cultural, legal, financial, social, and health-care protection and, most particularly, to receive support that, taking into account the number of children, provides sufficient financial resources to allow it to choose the type of education and school freely.
"It is therefore necessary to promote a family culture and policy that the families themselves can develop in an organized manner. For this reason I encourage them to join associations that promote the identity and rights of the family, in accordance with an anthropological vision consistent with the Gospel, while I invite the said organizations to cooperate with one another to ensure that their coordinated activity may be more effective.
"To conclude, I urge all of you to have great trust, for the family is in the Heart of God, Creator and Savior. Working for families is working for the worthy and luminous future of humanity and for the construction of the Kingdom of God. Let us humbly invoke divine grace so that it may help us to collaborate with enthusiasm and joy in the noble cause of the family, called to be evangelized and evangelizing, human and humanizing. May we be accompanied by the maternal intercession and heavenly protection of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, whom I invoke today with the glorious title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and to whom, as Mother, I entrust the families of the whole world . . ."
"I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put My spirit within you and make you live by My statutes, careful to observe My decrees."
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.
"To Him whose power now at work in us can do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine - to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations, world without end.
Amen." (Eph 3:20-21)
- In memory of my father (anniversary of death March 20), Curtis B. Kennedy
"The love of Christ impels us who have reached the conviction that since one died for all, all died. He died for all so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for Him Who for their sakes died and was raised up"
(2 Cor 5:14-15).
- W. Pope
"May God strenghen you inwardly through the working of His Spirit. May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life" (Eph 3:16-17).
- Shirley Suddeth
"A word fitly spoken, is like apples of gold in a silver setting."
- Charlotte Hirt
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com