"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
"Crucified Jesus" and "Risen Jesus"
Artwork by Joseph Fisher
On February 13, Pope Benedict XVI addressed members of the Pontifical Academy for Life meeting in Vatican City. The Pope's talk follows:
"I am pleased to welcome you and to offer you a cordial greeting on the occasion of the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. It is called to reflect on themes pertaining to the relationship between bioethics and the natural moral law which, because of the constant developments in this branch of science, appear ever more important in the context of our day . . .
"The problems that gravitate around the theme of bioethics demonstrate the priority given to the anthropological issue in the questions put to you. As I said in my latest Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate: 'A particularly crucial battleground in today's struggle between the supremacy of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics, where the very possibility of integral human development is radically called into question. In this most delicate and critical area, the fundamental question asserts itself forcefully: is man the product of his own labors or does he depend on God? 'Scientific discoveries in this field and the possibilities of technological intervention seem so advanced as to force a choice between two types of reasoning: reason open to transcendence or reason closed within immanence' (n. 74). In the face of such questions that touch so decisively on human life in its perennial tension between immanence and transcendence and that have immense importance for the culture of the future generations, it is necessary to set up an integral pedagogical project that allows these topics to be treated in a positive, balanced, and constructive perspective, especially regarding the relationship between faith and reason.
Please Pray For Priests
we pray that the Blessed Mother
wrap her mantle around Your priests
and through her intercession
strengthen them for their ministry.
We pray that Mary will guide Your priests
to follow her own words,
'Do whatever He tells you' (Jn 2:5).
May Your priests have the heart of St. Joseph,
Mary's most chaste spouse.
May the Blessed Mother's own pierced heart
inspire them to embrace
all who suffer at the foot of the cross.
May Your priests be holy,
filled with the fire of Your love
seeking nothing but Your greater glory
and the salvation of souls.
Saint John Vianney, pray for us.
"Bioethical issues often bring to the fore the reference to the dignity of the person. This is a fundamental principle which faith in the Crucified and Risen Jesus Christ has always defended, especially when, in respect of the simplest and most defenseless people, it is disregarded. God loves each human being uniquely and profoundly. Bioethics moreover, like every discipline, needs a reference that can guarantee a consistent reading of ethical issues that inevitably emerge in the face of the disputes that may arise from their interpretation. In this sphere the normative reference to the natural moral law comes into its own. Indeed, the recognition of human dignity as an inalienable right is founded primarily on this law, which is not written by a human hand but is engraved in human hearts by God the Creator. Every juridical order is required to recognize this law as inviolable and every individual is called to respect and promote it (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, nn. 1954-1960). Without the founding principle of human dignity the search for a source for the rights of the person would be arduous, and it would be impossible to reach an ethical judgement on the scientific breakthroughs that intervene directly in human life. It is necessary, therefore, to repeat firmly that there can be no understanding of human dignity as linked merely to external elements, such as scientific progress, graduality in the formation of human life, or facile pietism in the face of limited situations. When respect for the dignity of the person is invoked, it is fundamental that it should be full, total, and without restrictions other than those entailed in the recognition that it is always human life that is involved. Human life, of course, experiences its own development and the horizon of scientific and bioethical research is open; yet it is necessary to reassert that when it is a matter of contexts that concern the human being, scientists can never think that they are merely dealing with inanimate and manipulable matter. In fact, from the very first instant of the human being's life is characterized by the fact that it is human life and for this reason possesses its own dignity everywhere and in spite of all (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Dignitas Personae on Certain Bioethical Questions, n. 5). Otherwise, we should always be threatened by the risk of an exploitative use of science, with the inevitable consequence of slipping into arbitrary decisions, discrimination, and the financial interest of the strongest.
"Combining bioethics and the natural moral law makes it possible to ensure as best we can the necessary and unavoidable reference to that dignity which human life intrinsically possesses from its first moment until its natural end. On the contrary, in today's context, despite the increasing reference to the rights that guarantee the person's dignity, it is clear that recognition of these rights is not always applied to human life in its natural development or in its weakest stages. A similar contradiction demands that a commitment be assumed in the various social and cultural contexts to see that human life is recognized everywhere as an inalienable subject of law, and never as an object subjected to the arbitrary will of the strongest. History has shown how dangerous and harmful a State can be that proceeds to legislate on issues which affect the person and society, even claiming to be the source and principle of ethics. Without the universal principles that permit the verification of a common denominator for all humanity, the risk of drifting into relativism in the area of legislation should not be underestimated (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 1959). The natural moral law, strong in its universal character, makes it possible to ward off this danger and, above all, offers the legislator a guarantee for the authentic respect of both the person and the entire order of creatures. It is, as it were, a catalyzing source of consensus between people of different cultures and religions and permits them to overcome differences. This is because it asserts the existence of an order impressed within nature by the Creator and recognized as an instance of true rational ethical judgement in order to pursue good and avoid evil. Natural moral law 'belongs to the great heritage of human wisdom. Revelation, with its light, has contributed to further purifying and developing it' (Pope John Paul II, Address to participants in the Bi-Annual Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, February 6, 2004).
"Distinguished Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in the contemporary context your commitment appears to be ever more delicate and difficult, but the increasing sensitivity to human life is an encouragement to continue with ever greater dynamism and courage in this important service to life and to teaching the future generations the Gospel values. I hope you will all persevere in your study and research, so that the work of promoting and defending life may be more and more effective and fruitful. I accompany you with the Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to all who share with you in this daily commitment."
Pope Benedict XVI's Message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations emphasizes the importance of witness in promoting vocations to the priesthood and religious life. The message, dated November 13, 2009, follows:
"The 47th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, to be celebrated on the Fourth Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday – April 25, 2010, gives me the opportunity to offer for your meditation a theme which is most fitting for this Year for Priests: Witness Awakens Vocations. The fruitfulness of our efforts to promote vocations depends primarily on God's free action, yet, as pastoral experience confirms, it is also helped by the quality and depth of the personal and communal witness of those who have already answered the Lord's call to the ministerial priesthood and to the consecrated life, for their witness is then able to awaken in others a desire to respond generously to Christ's call. This theme is thus closely linked to the life and mission of priests and of consecrated persons. Hence, I wish to invite all those whom the Lord has called to work in His vineyard to renew their faithful response, particularly in this Year for Priests which I proclaimed on the 150th anniversary of the death of Saint John Mary Vianney, the Curé of Ars, an ever-timely model of a priest and a pastor.
"In the Old Testament the prophets knew that they were called to witness by their own lives to the message they proclaimed, and were prepared to face misunderstanding, rejection, and persecution. The task which God entrusted to them engaged them fully, like a 'burning fire' in the heart, a fire that could not be contained (cf. Jer 20:9). As a result, they were prepared to hand over to the Lord not only their voice, but their whole existence. In the fullness of time, Jesus, sent by the Father (cf. Jn 5:36), would bear witness to the love of God for all human beings, without distinction, with particular attention to the least ones, sinners, the outcast, and the poor. Jesus is the supreme Witness to God and to His concern for the salvation of all. At the dawn of the new age, John the Baptist, by devoting his whole life to preparing the way for Christ, bore witness that the promises of God are fulfilled in the Son of Mary of Nazareth. When John saw Jesus coming to the River Jordan where he was baptizing, he pointed Him out to his disciples as 'the lamb of God, Who takes away the sin of the world' (Jn 1:29). His testimony was so effective that two of his disciples 'hearing him say this, followed Jesus' (Jn 1:37).
"Similarly the calling of Peter, as we read in the Evangelist John, occurred through the witness of his brother Andrew, who, after meeting the Master and accepting His invitation to stay with Him, felt the need to share immediately with Peter what he discovered by 'staying' with the Lord: 'We have found the Messiah (which means Christ). He then brought him to Jesus' (Jn 1:41-42). This was also the case for Nathanael, Bartholomew, thanks to the witness of yet another disciple, Philip, who joyfully told him of his great discovery: 'We have found Him of Whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph' (Jn 1:45). God's free and gracious initiative encounters and challenges the human responsibility of all those who accept His invitation to become, through their own witness, the instruments of His divine call. This occurs in the Church even today: the Lord makes use of the witness of priests who are faithful to their mission in order to awaken new priestly and religious vocations for the service of the People of God. For this reason, I would like to mention three aspects of the life of a priest which I consider essential for an effective priestly witness.
"A fundamental element, one which can be seen in every vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life, is friendship with Christ. Jesus lived in constant union with the Father and this is what made the disciples eager to have the same experience; from Him they learned to live in communion and unceasing dialogue with God. If the priest is a 'man of God,' one who belongs to God and helps others to know and love Him, he cannot fail to cultivate a deep intimacy with God, abiding in His love and making space to hear His Word. Prayer is the first form of witness which awakens vocations. Like the Apostle Andrew, who tells his brother that he has come to know the Master, so to anyone who wants to be a disciple and witness of Christ must have 'seen' Him personally, come to know Him, and learned to love Him and to abide with Him.
"Another aspect of the consecration belonging to the priesthood and the religious life is the complete gift of oneself to God. The Apostle John writes: 'By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us; and therefore we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren' (1 Jn 3:16). With these words, he invites the disciples to enter into the very mind of Jesus Who in His entire life did the will of the Father, even to the ultimate gift of Himself on the Cross. Here, the mercy of God is shown in all its fullness; a merciful love that has overcome the darkness of evil, sin, and death. The figure of Jesus Who at the Last Supper, rises from the table, lays aside His garments, takes a towel, girds Himself with it, and stoops to wash the feet of the Apostles, expresses the sense of service and gift manifested in His entire existence, in obedience to the will of the Father (cf. Jn 13:3-15). In following Jesus, everyone called to a life of special consecration must do his utmost to testify that he has given himself completely to God. This is the source of his ability to give himself in turn to those whom Providence entrusts to him in his pastoral ministry with complete, constant, and faithful devotion, and with the joy of becoming a companion on the journey to so many brothers and sisters, enabling them too to become open to meeting Christ, so that his Word may become a light to their footsteps. The story of every vocation is almost always intertwined with the testimony of a priest who joyfully lives the gift of himself to his brothers and sisters for the sake of the Kingdom of God. This is because the presence and words of a priest have the ability to raise questions and to lead even to definitive decisions (cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis, 39).
"A third aspect which necessarily characterizes the priest and the consecrated person is a life of communion. Jesus showed that the mark of those who wish to be His disciples is profound communion in love: 'By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another' (Jn 13:35). In a particular way the priest must be a man of communion, open to all, capable of gathering into one the pilgrim flock which the goodness of the Lord has entrusted to him, helping to overcome divisions, to heal rifts, to settle conflicts and misunderstandings, and to forgive offenses. In July 2005, speaking to the clergy of Aosta, I noted that if young people see priests who appear distant and sad, they will hardly feel encouraged to follow their example. They will remain hesitant if they are led to think that this is the life of a priest. Instead, they need to see the example of a communion of life which can reveal to them the beauty of being a priest. Only then will a young man say, 'Yes, this could be my future; I can live like this' (Insegnamenti I, , 354). The Second Vatican Council, in speaking of the witness that awakens vocations, emphasizes the example of charity, and of fraternal cooperation which priests must offer (cf. Decree Optatam Totius, 2).
"Here I would like to recall the words of my venerable Predecessor John Paul II: 'The very life of priests, their unconditional dedication to God's flock, their witness of loving service to the Lord and to His Church – a witness marked by free acceptance of the Cross in the spirit of hope and Easter joy – their fraternal unity and zeal for the evangelization of the world are the first and most convincing factor in the growth of vocations' (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 41). It can be said that priestly vocations are born of contact with priests, as a sort of precious legacy handed down by word, example, and a whole way of life.
"The same can be said with regard to the consecrated life. The very life of men and women religious proclaims the love of Christ whenever they follow him in complete fidelity to the Gospel and joyfully make their own its criteria for judgement and conduct. They become 'signs of contradiction' for the world, whose thinking is often inspired by materialism, self-centeredness, and individualism. By letting themselves be won over by God through self-renunciation, their fidelity and the power of their witness constantly awaken in the hearts of many young people the desire to follow Christ in their turn, in a way that is generous and complete. To imitate Christ, chaste, poor, and obedient, and to identify with Him: this is the ideal of the consecrated life, a witness to the absolute primacy of God in human life and history.
"Every priest, every consecrated person, faithful to his or her vocation, radiates the joy of serving Christ and draws all Christians to respond to the universal call to holiness. Consequently, in order to foster vocations to the ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life, and to be more effective in promoting the discernment of vocations, we cannot do without the example of those who have already said 'yes' to God and to His plan for the life of each individual. Personal witness, in the form of concrete existential choices, will encourage young people for their part to make demanding decisions affecting their future. Those who would assist them need to have the skills for encounter and dialogue which are capable of enlightening and accompanying them, above all through the example of life lived as a vocation. This was what the holy Curé of Ars did: always in close contact with his parishioners, he taught them 'primarily by the witness of his life. It was from his example that the faithful learned to pray' (Letter Proclaiming the Year for Priests, June 16, 2009).
"May this World Day once again offer many young people a precious opportunity to reflect on their own vocation and to be faithful to it in simplicity, trust, and complete openness. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, watch over each tiny seed of a vocation in the hearts of those whom the Lord calls to follow Him more closely, may she help it to grow into a mature tree, bearing much good fruit for the Church and for all humanity. With this prayer, to all of you I impart my Apostolic Blessing."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
As the 2010 elections heat up, there is one issue which keeps demanding a significant amount of attention in all federal and state elections: Abortion. It's been over 33 years since Roe vs. Wade, where the Supreme Court decided "once and for all," that the intentional destruction of unborn children was now a "constitutional right," an act which even state legislators and Congress cannot now prohibit as a hideous crime.
For example, both the U.S. House version of the so-called health care reform bill and the U.S. Senate version clearly demonstrated that the Democratic leadership in the House and the Senate, along with the public support of President Barack Obama, were unwilling to abandon their initiative to fund abortion and to ration health care, even if it meant defeat.
What kind of people we will decide to be, what kind of nation we will have, depends, in part, on who is placed in positions of leadership in our federal, state, and local governments. Christians, who have received the faith in Jesus, have the moral obligation to participate in the electoral process and to base their vote on the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life.
If a candidate agreed with you on every issue, but supported the legalization of slavery or the legalization of child abuse, while arguing he was personally opposed, but he would not impose his morality on others, would you vote for him? Would he disqualify himself from your support and vote regardless of the office he was seeking?
Abortion is the ultimate child abuse. The issue of abortion is the disqualifying issue of our times.
In the U.S., the responsibility for the continuation of abortion on demand rests, in the final analysis, with the voters, especially those upon whom God has bestowed the Christian faith and the clear consistent teaching of the Catholic Church. It is upon us that the survival of our nation depends. As Pope John Paul II warned in his September 19, 1987, farewell speech to the United States, after his second visit:
"This is the dignity of America, the reason she exists, the condition for her survival – yes, the ultimate test of her greatness: to respect every human person, especially the weakest and most defenseless ones, those as yet unborn."
Abortion, contraception, human cloning and experimentation, euthanasia, assisted suicide, infanticide, sexual activity outside of marriage (i.e. adultery, homosexuality, etc.), are all condemned as intrinsically evil. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, Sections 2270-2275, 2276-2279, 2292-2295, and 2370.) They are never, under any circumstances, morally permissible.
Catholic Answers (www.catholic.com) teaches in its publication, Voter's Guide for Serious Catholics: "On most issues that come before voters or legislators, a Catholic can take one side or the other and not act contrary to his faith. Most matters do not have a 'Catholic position.'"
This pamphlet sets forth this simple but critical (and undeniable) distinction between issues which are intrinsically evil and those upon which Catholics may reasonably differ, explaining that there are "five non-negotiable issues," and that "citizens vote in favor of these evils if they vote in favor of candidates who propose to advance them:" (1) abortion; (2) euthanasia; (3) fetal (embryonic) stem cell research; (4) human cloning; and (5) homosexual "marriage."
"Candidates who endorse or promote any of the five non-negotiables should be considered to have disqualified themselves from holding public office, and you should not vote for them. You should make your choice from among the remaining candidates."
There are other issues and concerns which Christians need to address, but which are not intrinsically evil. Reasonable minds can differ on how to approach those issues and concerns.
For example, capital punishment, properly administered by the state, is not intrinsically evil. ". . . the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty. . ." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 2267-1997, revised edition). Reasonable Christian minds can differ on whether capital punishment should be used by the state, for which serious crimes, and under what safeguards.
Indifference to others, war, the environment, immigration, health care, drugs, and poverty are all issues which need to be concerns of Christians, but Christians can reasonably differ on the approaches to address these issues, the role of government, and the role of Church in relationship to these issues.
Archbishop William J. Levada, then the Archbishop of San Francisco, states: "Catholic social teaching covers a broad range of important issues. But among these the teaching on abortion holds a unique place. . . . There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war or applying the death penalty, but not with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
Although some Christians have falsely proclaimed that health care reform is a "moral imperative," health care, undoubtedly an issue of our times, remains an issue about which Christians can have different approaches. "There is a danger in being persuaded to think that the national government is the sole instrument of the common good," teaches Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of Fargo, North Dakota, as he expressed his opposition to the so-called health care reform. "States, towns, fraternal organizations, businesses, cooperatives, parishes, and especially the family have not only legitimate freedom to provide the goods they are rightly capable of supplying, but oftentimes do so with far greater efficiency, less bureaucracy and, most importantly, with personalized care and love."
The unwillingness to draw a clear distinction between core human life issues, which are morally and intrinsically evil, and issues and concerns about which Christians can reasonably and morally differ, is simply a pro-abortion ploy to undercut the Church's opposition to the killing of unborn children by abortion, and is shamefully used by pro-abortion politicians to deceive and confuse.
"The upshot of trying to put abortion, capital punishment, and war in one package, is that it makes chaos of Catholic morals and can lead one to misinterpret God's law so that, at least by omission, he will do what is objectively evil: namely refuse to defend the innocent," teaches Fr. Richard R. Roach, S.J., Professor of Moral Theology at Marquette University.
While not advocating capital punishment or indifference to other issues, it is important to repudiate the false homogenization of the true core life issues (abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide, cloning, human experimentation, and all attacks upon innocent human life) on the one hand, with other issues on which reasonable Christian minds can differ.
Christ has called all of us to bear witness to the truth. The truth that has been consistently taught by the Catholic Church for over 2,000 years is that abortion is morally wrong, a sinful act, and that no circumstances ever justify this act or make it any less than what it is, the killing of an unborn child.
One of the simplest ways for Americans to give witness to the truth is by how they vote. Does our vote give witness to the sanctity of all innocent human life, or does it help keep the killing machine in place?
Have we educated ourselves, meeting our individual Christian duty to do so, to know and understand fully the position of those seeking public office on this, the ultimate issue? Do we then vote for what we know is morally right, or do we allow other concerns to help us feel justified in voting for someone who supports abortion on demand, the funding of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, assisted suicide, health care rationing, human cloning, or so-called "same-sex marriage"?
We must not allow those seeking public office to mislead us by claiming that they are "pro-life," without disclosing specifically what their positions are and without responding to questionnaires submitted to them by pro-life organizations.
"Catholics who endorse pro-abortion legislation or who back politicians who do so are being radically inconsistent with their faith," teaches Bishop John J. Meyers.
"No cause takes precedence over the preservation of innocent human life. It would be irresponsible for us to claim to be pro-life while voting for candidates who support the right to abortion." Bishop John Smith, Trenton, New Jersey
"Stand Up for Life!", as commanded by Pope John Paul II.
Raised from the Dead by Fr. Albert J. Herbert is a good book during Easter to increase one's faith in the power of the Resurrection. He retells stories of resurrections from the dead from Scripture and from the lives of the saints. He also relates resurrection miracles to "Visits to and from the Other World," "Miraculous Bodily Phenomena," and our own resurrections at the End of the World.
"Miracles are performed for the glory of God and the good of men," he explains. "Miracles also provide proof for the truth of the Catholic Christian Faith."
"O Father, raise up among Christians numerous and holy vocations to the
priesthood, to keep the faith alive and guard the gracious memory of Your Son
Jesus through the preaching of His word and the administration of the
Sacraments, with which You continually renew Your faithful."
— Pope Benedict XVI —
In October, 1370, he writes, Catherine of Siena's mother, Mona Lapa, suddenly died, and she was very concerned about the state of her soul. Catherine had been told by God that it would be better that her mother die soon for many misfortunes awaited her. Lapa, however, had refused to confess before she died. What happened next was witnessed by Catherine's sister-in-law and two other women.
"Lord, my God, are these promises You made to me?" Catherine cried out. "That none of my house should go to hell? . . . I beg You not to let me be defrauded like this. As long as there is life in my body I shall not move from here until You have restored my mother to me."
Catherine's mother not only lived, she lived to be 89 and endured many sorrows.
In early March, 1430, Joan of Arc arrived in Lagny-sur-Marn on her way to Paris. There some villagers told her of a mother in distress over the stillbirth of her son. The woman asked only that the child might be brought back to life to be baptized, so Joan went to the church where the child had been laid before the statue of Mary where several young girls were already praying. When Joan added her own prayers, the boy began to yawn. He was baptized and then died again.
One of the 30 miracles recorded soon after Bernadine of Siena's death in 1444 was the resurrection of 11-year-old Blasio Massei of Cascia. His whole family had been praying to Bernadine, when the boy rose up on the way to his gravesite. He said Bernadine had restored him to life to tell of the wonders he had seen in Heaven.
In November of 1561 Teresa of Avila's six-year-old nephew Gonzalo died. Keeping his death secret from his wife Juana, her brother-in-law Juan de Ovalles carried the boy's cold body to her. Teresa covered him with her veil when Juana came into the room asking what was wrong. He began to breathe again.
In Lima, Peru, on November 8, 1639, five-year-old Mary Monroy fell from a second story along with an iron lattice that had split her skull, smashed her face, and popped out one eye. The distraught mother asked for oil from the lamp at Francis Solanus' tomb. When it was applied, the girl was instantly healed.
Andrew Bobola was martyred in 1657. His body was found to be incorrupt in 1702, his wounds still fresh. On February 1, 1711, in Pinsk, nine-year-old Anne was found dead by the maid sent to awake her for school. Her father, Capt. Peter Gluszynski had once said, "Until Bobola performs a miracle I shall not believe in his power." The Roman rite priest was not available, so the Greek Orthodox priest was sent for. Peter prayed to Andrew and when the priest read "The child is not dead but sleeping," she moved her head and awoke.
In September, 1741, a boy fell out of a window watching those leaving church while Paul of the Cross was giving a mission in Orbetello. The boy's parents fetched the departing missionary who returned, prayed, and restored him to life.
When John Baptist Ramirez's son died of a fever in 1647 in Chelva, he placed an image of Louis Bertrand on his body and prayed. The boy opened his eyes and asked for food. Louis was canonized 24 years later.
In Turin in 1849, 15-year-old Charles, who was attending the Oratory of Don Bosco, died before the saint could get there. Before the boy's mother and aunt Don Bosco said, "Charles! Rise!" and he tore himself out of his shroud. He gave thanks that he could repair the bad confession he had made. He had gone to hell, but a beautiful Lady had told him, "There is still hope for you have not yet been judged." After making a complete confession, he leaned back, closed his eyes, and died again.
On a lighter note Fr. Herbert includes the resurrections of Antonella and Martinello. A visiting priest had caught and cooked Francis of Paola's pet trout Antonella. When Francis sent a messenger to retrieve it, the thief threw it to the ground shattering it. Nevertheless when given the pieces the saint prayed, "Antonella, in the name of Charity, return to life!" On another occasion some workmen had cooked and eaten his pet lamb, Martinello. Like Ezekiel, Francis raised the lamb back to life from bones and fleece.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, Permanent Observer of the Vatican to the United Nations, addressed a United Nations meeting on the world economic and financial crisis on March 3. He spoke at a meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. His address follows:
". . . The Delegation of the Holy See wants to restate its conviction that the perspective of human rights provides a positive contribution for a solution to the current financial crisis. Even though some signs of recovery seem visible, the crisis continues to aggravate the conditions of millions of people in their access to the basic necessities of life and has adversely compromised the retirement plans of many. This situation, therefore, calls for new regulations and a sound global system of governance that ensures a sustainable and comprehensive path to development for all. In the establishment of new regulations and reliable governance there exists a unique opportunity to address the root causes of the crisis and to affirm an integrated approach to the implementation of all economic, social, civil, and political human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
"United Nations reports give plenty of evidence regarding the many negative consequences of the financial crisis: the scandal of hunger, the growing inequality worldwide, millions of unemployed people, and millions of others reduced to extreme poverty, institutional failures, lack of social protection for countless vulnerable persons. These imbalances, the Holy Father reminds us in the recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 'are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.' Equity and justice are essential criteria in the management of the world economy.
"The enjoyment of human rights becomes possible when States translate principles into law and make change on the ground a reality. While the State is the first actor in the implementation of human rights, it cannot fail to collaborate with all other players in its own civil society and with the international community, interconnected and interdependent as we are in today's globalized world. In fact, the common goal is the protection and respect of human dignity that binds together the entire human family, a unity rooted on the four basic principles of the centrality of the human person, solidarity, subsidiarity, and the common good. In this context, the review of the Human Rights Council should aim also at making change on the ground a reality and the concrete implementation of human rights, its priority.
". . . An important message conveyed by Pope Benedict XVI in Caritas in Veritate (CV) in this moment of economic crisis is the invitation to overcome the obsolete dichotomy between the economic, social, and ecological spheres. Markets and freedom are important requirements in building a healthy society, but the context within which they operate is global and must include the universal principles of honesty, justice, solidarity, and in addition the principles of 'reciprocity and gift.' The focus of concern in the reform of the financial system, and the economic models that are operative in government programs and corporate policies, should shift from goods and services to the persons who are recipients of these services; in this way, they have access to the resources to improve their position in life and thus place their talents at the service of their local community and the universal common good. The social doctrine of the Church has always pursued such a goal with special care for the more vulnerable members of society. In fact, by giving priority to human beings and the created order that supports them on their earthly journey, we can modify the rules that govern the financial system to serve concrete change, to move away from old habits of greed that led to the present crisis, and to promote effective integral development and the implementation of human rights since 'the primary capital to be safeguarded and valued is the human person in his or her integrity.' (CV, 25)"
The 14th Day of Consecrated Life was celebrated on February 2, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. At Vespers on this date, Pope Benedict XVI spoke directly to consecrated persons during his homily. The Pope said:
. . . "You have approached with total trust the 'throne of grace' that is Christ, His Cross, His Heart, His divine presence in the Eucharist. Each one of you has drawn close to Him as the source of pure and faithful Love, a Love so great and beautiful as to deserve all things, indeed more than our all, for a whole life does not suffice to reciprocate what Christ is and what He has done for us. But you have come close to Him and every day you come close to Him, so as to be helped in time of need and in the hour of trial.
"Consecrated people are called in a special way to be witnesses of this mercy of the Lord in which human beings find their salvation. They have a vivid experience of God's forgiveness, because they know that they are people saved, that they are great when they see themselves as small and feel renewed and enveloped by the holiness if God when they recognize their sins. For this reason, for contemporary men and women too, consecrated life remains a privileged school of 'compunction of heart,' of the humble recognition of one's poverty but it likewise remains a school of trust in God's mercy, in His love that never abandons us. Actually the closer we become to God, the closer we are to Him, the more helpful we are to others. Consecrated people experience God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness not only for themselves but also for their brothers and sisters since they are called to carry in their hearts and prayers the anxieties and expectations of human beings, especially those who are far from God. Cloistered communities in particular, with their specific commitment to fidelity in 'being with the Lord,' in 'standing beneath the Cross,' often carry out this vicarious role, united to the Christ of the Passion, taking upon themselves the suffering and trials of others and offering all with joy for the salvation of the world.
"Lastly, dear friends, let us raise to the Lord a hymn of thanksgiving and praise for consecrated life itself. If it did not exist, how much poorer the world would be! Quite apart from the superficial assessments of its usefulness the consecrated life is important precisely because it is a sign of unbounded generosity and love, and this all the more so in a world that risks being suffocated in the vortex of the ephemeral and the useful (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata, n. 105). Instead the consecrated life witnesses to the superabundance of love that is an incentive to 'lose' one's life in response to the superabundance of the love of the Lord Who first 'lost' His life for us.
"At this moment I am thinking of the consecrated people who feel the burden of their daily effort in which there is little human gratification. I am thinking of elderly men and women religious, religious who are sick and all who find their apostolate arduous. None of them is useless, for the Lord associates them with His 'throne of grace.' On the contrary they are a precious gift for the Church and the world that is thirsting for God and for His word.
"Full of trust and gratitude, let us, therefore, also renew the act of the total offering of ourselves, presenting ourselves in the Temple. May the Year for Priests be a further opportunity for religious who are priests to intensify their journey of sanctification and, for all consecrated men and women, may it be an encouragement to accompany and sustain their ministry with fervent prayer. This year of grace will have a crowning moment in Rome next June: the international meeting of priests to which I invite all who exercise the Sacred Ministry. Let us approach God Who is thrice Holy to offer our life and our mission, both personally and as a community of men and women consecrated to the Kingdom of God. Let us make this inner gesture in profound spiritual communion with the Virgin Mary. As we contemplate her in the act of presenting the Child Jesus in the Temple, let us venerate her as the first and perfect consecrated one, carried by the God Whom she carries in her arms; Virgin, poor and obedient, totally dedicated to us because she belongs totally to God. At her school and with her motherly help let us renew our 'here I am' and our 'fiat.' Amen."
I praise You, I love You, I adore You.
Send Your Holy Spirit to enlighten my mind to the truth of Your Son, Jesus, Priest and Victim.
Through the same Spirit guide my heart to His Sacred Heart, to renew in me a priestly passion that I, too, might lay down my life upon the altar.
May Your Spirit wash away my impurities and free me from all my transgressions in the Cup of Salvation,
Let only Your will be done in me.
May the Blessed Mother of Your dearly beloved Son, wrap her mantle around me and protect me from all evil.
May she guide me to do whatever He tells me.
May she teach me to have the heart of St. Joseph, her spouse, to protect and care for my bride.
And may her pierced heart inspire me to embrace as my own Your children who suffer at the foot of the cross.
I humbly cry to her: please be my consoling mother, and help me to be a better son.
Lord, make me a holy priest, inflamed with the fire of Your love, seeking nothing but Your greater glory and the salvation of souls.
I humbly bless and thank You, my Father, through the Spirit, in Christ Jesus, Your Son and my brother.
O Mary, Queen of priests, pray for us. Saint John Vianney, pray for us.
Fr. Peter Henriot, director of the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection in Zambia
(Photo credits: Trócaire)
belfast, ireland — The scandal of one billion people (1 in every 6 of the population) is a collective failure of world governments, those attending an event on March 8 at Queens University were told. The Irish Bishops' Overseas Development Agency, Trócaire, sponsored the talk as part of their Lenten campaign on the issue of global hunger.
In a press release, Trócaire reported:
"Keynote speaker Fr. Peter Henriot, director of the Jesuit Center for Theological Reflection in Zambia, told the audience that solving the problem of world hunger was not a matter of charity but of basic justice and human rights.
" 'There is enough food in the world to feed everyone,' Fr. Henriot said, 'so why in the 21st century have we over a billion people going to bed hungry every night? People have a fundamental right to be free from hunger. It is up to all of us to make decisions at a political, economic, spiritual, and personal level to ensure that pressure is brought to bear on governments and decision-makers to tackle this issue effectively.'
"Eithne McNulty, Trócaire's regional manager, said,
" 'It is particularly poignant that Trócaire's lecture on global hunger took place on 'International Women's Day.' Sixty percent of the hungry people in the world are female yet in Africa women produce up to 80% of the food. There is enough food in the world but people are hungry for a range of complex reasons or simply because they can't afford to buy food or cannot access land to grow it.
" 'We are delighted that Fr. Henriot was able to give our keynote address this year. For many years he has worked with people in Zambia who don't have enough to eat and from these experiences he has questioned the political and economic reasons why people are hungry." '
(Source: Trócaire press release)
vatican city — Pope Benedict XVI remembered Holocaust victims after his General Audience stating:
"Seventy-five years ago, on January 27, 1945, the gates of the Nazi concentration camp were opened in the Polish city of Oswiecim known in German as Auschwitz and the few remaining survivors were freed. This event and the testimonies of the survivors reveal to the world the horror of the unprecedented crimes committed in the extermination camps created by Nazi Germany. Today, we observe the 'Day of Memory,' in remembrance of all the victims of those crimes, especially of the planned extermination of the Jews, and of all those who, in the face of homicidal madness, risked their lives to protect the persecuted. Our hearts are moved as we think of the countless victims of a blind religious and racial hatred who suffered deportation, imprisonment, and death in those abhorrent and inhuman places. The memory of these events, particularly of the tragedy of the Shoah that struck the Hebrew people, evokes the need for an ever more earnest respect for the dignity of every person, so that all men and women may see themselves as part of one large family. May God almighty illuminate our hearts and minds, so that these kinds of tragedies may never be repeated!"
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
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