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My People

Vol. 24, Issue 12, December 2011

"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)

Instruments Of Peace, Not Violence And Terror

Assisi, Italy, the city of St. Francis, was again the site of a meeting for peace on October 27, the 25th anniversary of the meeting convened by Blessed John Paul II. Pope Benedict XVI, representatives of other faiths, and non-believers made a pilgrimage for a day of reflection, dialogue, and prayer for peace with the theme of "Pilgrims of Truth, Pilgrims of Peace." The group left Vatican City by train at 8 a.m. and arrived in Assisi at 9:45 a.m. Civic and religious leaders joined them at the Basilica of St. Mary of the Angels. Large crowds of the faithful could follow the proceedings on large screens set up in the square outside.

Pope Benedict XVI's address follows:

"Twenty-five years have passed since Blessed Pope John Paul II first invited representatives of the world's religions to Assisi to pray for peace. What has happened in the meantime? What is the state of play with regard to peace today? At that time the great threat to world peace came from the division of the earth into two mutually opposed blocs. A conspicuous symbol of this division was the Berlin Wall which traced the border between two worlds right through the heart of the city. In 1989, three years after Assisi, the wall came down, without bloodshed. Suddenly the vast arsenals that stood behind the wall were no longer significant. They had lost their terror. The peoples' will to freedom was stronger than the arsenals of violence. The question as to the causes of this dramatic change is complex and cannot be answered with simple formula. But in addition to economic and political factors, the deepest reason for the event is a spiritual one: behind material might there were no longer any spiritual convictions. The will to freedom was ultimately stronger than the fear of violence, which now lacked any spiritual veneer. For this victory of freedom, which was also, above all, a victory of peace, we give thanks. What is more, this was not merely, nor even primarily, about the freedom to believe, although it did include this. To that extent we may in some way link all this to our prayer for peace.

"But what happened next? Unfortunately, we cannot say that freedom and peace have characterized the situation ever since. Even if there is no threat of a great war hanging over us at present, nevertheless the world is unfortunately full of discord. It is not only that sporadic wars are continually being fought – violence as such is potentially ever present and it is a characteristic feature of our world. Freedom is a great good. But the world of freedom has proved to be largely directionless, and not a few have misinterpreted freedom as somehow including freedom for violence. Discord has taken on new and frightening guises, and the struggle for freedom must engage us all in a new way.

"Let us try to identify the new faces of violence and discord more closely. It seems to me that, in broad strokes, we may distinguish two types of the new forms of violence, which are the very antithesis of each other in terms of their motivation and manifest a number of differences in detail. Firstly there is terrorism, for which in place of a great war there are targeted attacks intended to strike the opponent destructively at key points, with no regard for the lives of innocent human beings, who are cruelly killed or wounded in the process. In the eyes of the perpetrators, the overriding goal of damage to the enemy justifies any form of cruelty. Everything that had been commonly recognized and sanctioned in international law as the limit of violence is overruled. We know that terrorism is often religiously motivated and that the specifically religious character of the attacks is proposed as a justification for the reckless cruelty that considers itself entitled to discard the rules of morality for the sake of the intended 'good.' In this case, religion does not serve peace, but is used as justification for violence.

"The post-Enlightenment critique of religion has repeatedly maintained that religion is a cause of violence and in this way it has fuelled hostility towards religions. The fact that, in the case we are considering here, religion really does motivate violence should be profoundly disturbing to us as religious persons. In a way that is more subtle but no less cruel, we also see religion as the cause of violence when force is used by the defenders of one religion against others. The religious delegates who were assembled in Assisi in 1986 wanted to say, and we now repeat it emphatically and firmly: this is not the true nature of religion. It is the antithesis of religion and contributes to its destruction. In response, an objection is raised: how do you know what the true nature of religion is? Does your assertion not derive from the fact that your religion has become a spent force? Others in their turn will object: is there such a thing as a common nature of religion that finds expression in all religions and is therefore applicable to them all? We must ask ourselves these questions, if we wish to argue realistically and credibly against religiously motivated violence. Herein lies a fundamental task for interreligious dialogue – an exercise which is to receive renewed emphasis through this meeting. As a Christian I want to say at this point: yes, it is true, in the course of history, force has also been used in the name of the Christian faith. We acknowledge it with great shame. But it is utterly clear that this was an abuse of the Christian faith, one that evidently contradicts its true nature. The God in Whom we Christians believe is the Creator and Father of all, and from Him all people are brothers and sisters and form one single family. For us the Cross of Christ is the sign of the God Who put 'suffering-with' (compassion) and 'loving-with' in place of force. His name is 'God of love and peace' (2 Cor 13:11). It is the task of all who bear responsibility for the Christian faith to purify the religion of Christians again and again from its very heart, so that it truly serves as an instrument of God's peace in the world, despite the fallibility of humans.

"If one basic type of violence today is religiously motivated and thus confronts religions with the question as to their true nature and obliges all of us to undergo purification, a second complex type of violence is motivated in precisely the opposite way: as a result of God's absence, his denial and the loss of humanity which goes hand in hand with it. The enemies of religion – as we said earlier – see in religion one of the principal sources of violence in the history of humanity and thus they demand that it disappear. But the denial of God has led to much cruelty and to a degree of violence that knows no bounds, which only becomes possible when man no longer recognizes any criterion or any judge above himself, now having only himself to take as a criterion. The horrors of the concentration camps reveal with utter clarity the consequences of God's absence.

"Yet I do not intend to speak further here about state-imposed atheism, but rather about the decline of man, which is accompanied by a change in the spiritual climate that occurs imperceptibly and hence is all the more dangerous. The worship of mammon, possessions, and power is proving to be a counter-religion, in which it is no longer man who counts but only personal advantage. The desire for happiness degenerates, for example, into an unbridled, inhuman craving, such as appears in the different forms of drug dependency. There are the powerful who trade in drugs and then the many who are seduced and destroyed by them, physically and spiritually. Force comes to be taken for granted and in parts of the world it threatens to destroy our young people. Because force is taken for granted, peace is destroyed and man destroys himself in this peace vacuum.

"The absence of God leads to the decline of man and of humanity. But where is God? Do we know Him, and can we show Him anew to humanity, in order to build true peace? Let us first briefly summarize our considerations thus far. I said that there is a way of understanding and using religion so that it becomes a source of violence, while the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. In this context I referred to the need for dialogue and I spoke of the constant need for purification of lived religion. On the other hand I said that the denial of God corrupts man, robs him of his criteria, and leads him to violence.

"In addition to the two phenomena of religion and anti-religion, a further basic orientation is found in the growing world of agnosticism: people to whom the gift of faith has not been given, but who are nevertheless on the lookout for truth, searching for God. Such people do not simply assert: 'There is no God.' They suffer from His absence and yet are inwardly making their way towards Him, inasmuch as they seek truth and goodness. They are 'pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace.' They ask questions of both sides. They take away from militant atheists the false certainty by which these claim to know that there is no God and they invite them to leave polemics aside and to become seekers who do not give up hope in the existence of truth and in the possibility and necessity of living by it. But they also challenge the followers of religions not to consider God as their own property, as if he belonged to them, in such a way that they feel vindicated in using force against others. These people are seeking the truth, they are seeking the true God, Whose image is frequently concealed in the religions because of the ways in which they are often practiced. Their inability to find God is partly the responsibility of believers with a limited or even falsified image of God. So all their struggling and questioning is in part an appeal to believers to purify their faith, so that God, the true God, becomes accessible. Therefore, I have consciously invited delegates of this third group to our meeting in Assisi, which does not simply bring together representatives of religious institutions. Rather it is a case of being together on a journey towards truth, a case of taking a decisive stand for human dignity, and a case of common engagement for peace against every form of destructive force. Finally I would like to assure you that the Catholic Church will not let up in her fight against violence, in her commitment for peace in the world. We are animated by the common desire to be 'pilgrims of truth, pilgrims of peace.' "

Migration Impacts Evangelization

Pope Benedict XVI considered new challenges to evangelization in his message for the 2012 World Day of Migrants and Refugees. This day will be observed on January 15, 2012. The Pope's Message, dated September 21, follows:

"Proclaiming Jesus Christ the one Savior of the world 'constitutes the essential mission of the Church. It is a task and mission which the vast and profound changes of present-day society make all the more urgent' (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 14). Indeed, today we feel the urgent need to give a fresh impetus and new approaches to the work of evangelization in a world in which the breaking down of frontiers and the new processes of globalization are bringing individuals and peoples even closer. This is both because of the development of the means of social communication and because of the frequency and ease with which individuals and groups can move about today. In this new situation we must reawaken in each one of us the enthusiasm and courage that motivated the first Christian communities to be undaunted heralds of the Gospel's newness, making St. Paul's words resonate in our hearts: 'For if I preach the gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!' (1 Cor 9:16).

" 'Migration and the New Evangelization' is the theme I have chosen this year for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and it arises from the aforesaid situation. The present time, in fact, calls upon the Church to embark on a new evangelization also in the vast and complex phenomenon of human mobility. This calls for an intensification of her missionary activity both in the regions where the Gospel is proclaimed for the first time and in countries with a Christian tradition.

"Blessed John Paul II invited us to 'nourish ourselves with the word in order to be "servants of the word" in the work of evangelization . . . [in] a situation which is becoming increasingly diversified and demanding, in the context of "globalization" and of the consequent new and uncertain mingling of peoples and cultures' (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 40). Internal or international migration, in fact, as an opening in search of better living conditions or to flee from the threat of persecution, war, violence, hunger, or natural disasters, has led to an unprecedented mingling of individuals and peoples, with new problems not only from the human standpoint but also from ethical, religious, and spiritual ones. The current and obvious consequences of secularization, the emergence of new sectarian movements, widespread insensitivity to the Christian faith and a marked tendency to fragmentation are obstacles to focusing on a unifying reference that would encourage the formation of 'one family of brothers and sisters in societies that are becoming ever more multiethnic and intercultural, where also people of various religions are urged to take part in dialogue, so that a serene and fruitful coexistence with respect for legitimate differences may be found,' as I wrote in my Message last year for this World Day. Our time is marked by endeavors to efface God and the Church's teaching from the horizon of life, while doubt, skepticism, and indifference are creeping in, seeking to eliminate all the social and symbolic visibility of the Christian faith.

"In this context migrants who have known and welcomed Christ are not infrequently constrained to consider Him no longer relevant to their lives, to lose the meaning of their faith, no longer to recognize themselves as members of the Church, and often lead a life no longer marked by Christ and His Gospel. Having grown up among peoples characterized by their Christian faith, they often emigrate to countries in which Christians are a minority or where the ancient tradition of faith, no longer a personal conviction or a community religion, has been reduced to a cultural fact. Here the Church is faced with the challenge of helping migrants keep their faith firm even when they are deprived of the cultural support that existed in their country of origin, and of identifying new pastoral approaches, as well as methods and expressions, for an ever vital reception of the Word of God. In some cases this is an opportunity to proclaim that, in Jesus Christ, humanity has been enabled to participate in the mystery of God and in His life of love. Humanity is also opened to a horizon of hope and peace, also through respectful dialogue and a tangible testimony of solidarity. In other cases there is the possibility of reawakening the dormant Christian conscience through a renewed proclamation of the Good News and a more consistent Christian life to enable people to rediscover the beauty of the encounter with Christ Who calls Christians to holiness wherever they may be, even in a foreign land.

"The phenomenon of migration today is also a providential opportunity for the proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world. Men and women from various regions of the earth who have not yet encountered Jesus Christ or know Him only partially, ask to be received in countries with an ancient Christian tradition. It is necessary to find adequate ways for them to meet and to become acquainted with Jesus Christ and to experience the invaluable gift of salvation which, for everyone, is a source of 'life in abundance' (cf. Jn 10:10); migrants themselves have a special role in this regard because they in turn can become 'heralds of God's word and witnesses to the Risen Jesus, the hope of the world' (Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 105).

"Pastoral workers – priests, religious, and lay people – play a crucial role in the demanding itinerary of the new evangelization in the context of migration. They work increasingly in a pluralist context: in communion with their Ordinaries, drawing on the Church's Magisterium. I invite them to seek ways of fraternal sharing and respectful proclamation, overcoming opposition and nationalism. For their part, the Churches of origin, of transit, and those that welcome the migration flows should find ways to increase their cooperation for the benefit both of those who depart and those who arrive, and, in any case, of those who, on their journey, stand in need of encountering the merciful face of Christ in the welcome given to one's neighbor. To achieve a fruitful pastoral service of communion, it may be useful to update the traditional structures of care for migrants and refugees, by setting beside them models that respond better to the new situations in which different peoples and cultures interact with one another.

"Asylum seekers, who fled from persecution, violence, and situations that put their life at risk, stand in need of our understanding and welcome, of respect for their human dignity and rights, as well as awareness of their duties. Their suffering pleads with individual states and the international community to adopt attitudes of reciprocal acceptance, overcoming fears and avoiding forms of discrimination, and to make provisions for concrete solidarity also through appropriate structures for hospitality and resettlement programs. All this entails mutual help between the suffering regions and those which, already for years, have accepted a large number of fleeing people, as well as a greater sharing of responsibilities among States.

"The press and the other media have an important role in making known, correctly, objectively, and honestly, the situation of those who have been forced to leave their homeland and their loved ones and want to start building a new life.

"Christian communities are to pay special attention to migrant workers and their families by accompanying them with prayer, solidarity, and Christian charity, by enhancing what is reciprocally enriching, as well as by fostering new political, economic, and social planning that promotes respect for the dignity of every human person, the safeguarding of the family, access to dignified housing, to work, and to welfare.

"Priests, men and women religious, lay people, and most of all young men and women are to be sensitive in offering support to their many sisters and brothers who, having fled from violence, have to face new lifestyles and the difficulty of integration. The proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ will be a source of relief, hope, and 'full joy' (cf. Jn 15:11).

"Lastly, I would like to mention the situation of numerous international students who are facing problems of integration, bureaucratic difficulties, hardship in the search for housing and welcoming structures. Christian communities are to be especially sensitive to the many young men and women who, precisely because of their youth, need reference points in addition to cultural growth, and have in their hearts a profound thirst for truth and the desire to encounter God. Universities of Christian inspiration are to be, in a special way, places of witness and of the spread of the new evangelization, seriously committed to contributing to social, cultural, and human progress in the academic milieu. They are also to promote intercultural dialogue and enhance the contribution that international students can give. If these students meet authentic Gospel witnesses and examples of Christian life, it will encourage them to become agents of the new evangelization.

"Dear friends, let us invoke the intercession of Mary, 'Our Lady of the Way,' so that the joyful proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ may bring hope to the hearts of those who are on the move on the roads of the world. To one and all I assure my prayers and impart my Apostolic Blessing."

In Defense of Life: Population Panic — Again!

Fred H. Summe
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012

by Fred H. Summe

The recent birth of person number 7 billion has caused another resurrection of the failed population doomsayers' failed predictions.

Malthusian Delusion and Erlich Error – Reimaged

The Rev. Thomas Malthus, Anglican clergyman, predicted in 1798 that there would be standing room only on this earth by 1890.

After the happy failure of Malthus' dismal predictions, the population controllers' crown was picked up by a Stanford University biology professor, Dr. Paul Erlich, The Population Bomb. The very first three sentences of the prologue to The Bomb will do for starters: "The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970's the world will undergo famines – hundreds of millions of people are going to starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…" Of course, nothing of the sort happened.

Undeterred by his miserably failed predictions, Erlich has returned with similar dismal forecasts, The Population Explosion.

The detailed refutation of Erlich's extravagance is set forth by Dr. Julian L. Simon: "Happily, every dramatic forecast by Erlich, who teaches at Stanford, and the other doomsayers, has turned out wrong. The U.S. famine deaths they predicted we would see on television never occurred. The Great Lakes are better than ever for sport fishing. The main pollutants, such as particulates and sulfur dioxide, have diminished. Metals, foods, and other natural resources have continued to become more available rather than more scarce."

Consider the ridiculous claim of population alarmists that there is not enough land to feed and house the growing world population. According to Dr. Jacqueline Kasun, in her book, The War on Population:

"No more than 1% to 3% of the earth's ice-free land area is occupied by human beings, and less than one-ninth is used for agricultural purposes. Eight times, and perhaps as much as 22 times, the world's present population could support itself at the present standard of living, using present technology, and this leaves half the earth's land surface open to wildlife and conservation areas.

"What's more, consider the aging population coupled with the below-replacement fertility/birth rate: In order to replace itself, a country must achieve at least 2.1 children per couple. Two years ago [2000] 51 countries had fallen below that number; today [2002] it is 61 countries that are not replacing themselves. Since young populations are needed for economic growth, this demographic freefall is, to say the least, troubling."


  • In 2011, Russia's National Parliament voted to restrict abortion for the first time in decades. Under the leadership of Lenin, Russia was the first nation to legalize abortion in 1920. Now faced with an ever-declining population, the Russian government offers women $10,000 for having more children.
  • Spain offered to give parents 25,000 euros for every newborn child, in its attempt to reverse the country's low birthrate.
  • In Italy, for the fourth consecutive year, more Italians died than were born.

"There is now an enormous array of UN agencies and related affiliates claiming an official interest in the reproductive decisions of the world's families," observes Dr. Kasun, professor of economics emeritus at Humboldt State University in California.

With the serious decline in population in Western developed nations, why does the United Nations, along with the United States and the European Union, pressure the undeveloped countries into reducing their population? "It is most likely that the primary reason is the quest for power. If the West is to have global control over the underdeveloped South, it must reduce population in the South or lose worldwide dominance," concludes Life Issues Connector.

Nations with larger populations, especially if blessed with abundant natural resources, can develop into world powers, unwilling to supply the Western world with cheap labor pools.

"They [first-world governments] too are haunted by the current demographic growth, and fear that the most prolific and poorest peoples represent a threat for the well-being and peace of their own countries. Consequently, rather than wishing to face and solve these serious problems with respect for the dignity of individuals and families and for every person's inviolable right to life, they prefer to promote and impose by whatever means a massive program of birth control," stated Pope Benedict XVI in his 2008 message to the World Day of Peace.

The reason why environmental extremists, governments, and the news media create this "crisis" is that they will offer a solution of more governmental control.

Sheldon Richman with the Cato Institute in Washington, D.C., warns: "Among the freedoms to be sacrificed is the deeply personal decision on the number of children they will have."

Professor Kasun concludes: "The real cause of poverty and pollution throughout the world is not overpopulation but government mismanagement of economic life, heavy taxes, corruption, restrictions on trade and productive effort, and misuse of resources."

Cause to Celebrate

In his 2008 message to World Day of Peace, Pope Benedict XVI continued: "Population is proving to be an asset, not a factor that contributes to poverty."

The Holy Father warned: "…there are international campaigns afoot to reduce birthrates, sometimes using methods that respect neither the dignity of the woman, nor the right of parents to choose responsibly how many children to have; graver still, these methods often fail to respect even the right to life. The extermination of millions of unborn children, in the name of the fight against poverty, actually constitutes the destruction of the poorest of all human beings."

When God blesses the world with the 7,000,000,001 person, the world can rejoice, for each person is a gift from God, someone to be cherished.

October 8 Annual Rosary March for World Peace, sponsored by Our Lady of Good Counsel, drew over 400 people to the Boone County Justice Center in Burlington, Kentucky.  At Fatima in 1917, the Blessed Virgin asked people to pray and do penance.  (photos by Bernie Kunkel)

"Overpopulation is a myth. The greatest threat facing the world today is not too many babies, but too few babies. History demonstrates that our greatest resource is people, which is in short supply in country after country around the globe as birth rates fall and populations age," states Steven W. Mosher, director of Population Research Institute. He continues:

"Our faith tells us to be generous in welcoming children into the world. How much good we could do by sharing this message with couples across the globe! Children are not commodities to be accepted or rejected at will. They are links to the future and teachers of their parents in the virtues of patience, prudence, and humility."

". . . Population growth drives technological progress, and that technological progress drives economic growth. …More kids make us richer, not poorer; and they make for human happiness." Forbes magazine

People of faith have long realized that the greatest resource any nation has is its people, for man is the greatest resource the world has ever known.

It is man's ability to reason which allows him to use the earth's resources for his betterment, and which, when combined with a faith in God and a reverence for all people, causes nations to prosper, raising up and not diminishing their neighbors.

People are viewed by the doom-and-gloom population control crowd as simply "more mouths to feed."

However, God creates people so that there will be heads to think, hearts to love, and hands to work.

"God has created a world big enough for all the lives He wishes to be born. It is only our hearts that are not big enough to want them and accept them…We are too often afraid of the sacrifices we might have to make. But where there is love, there is always sacrifice. And when we love until it hurts, there is joy and peace." Mother Teresa

Two thousand years ago, He came as a baby. The world did not welcome Him.

In the true Christmas spirit, let us welcome every unique and precious gift, with whom God has blessed us.


Priest Uses Media To Evangelize

by Michael Halm

Fr. Robert Barron

The "Catholicism" series on 80 PBS stations and on EWTN is not all that Fr. Robert Barron is doing. The Word on Fire Ministries which he founded is doing much of what Blessed John Paul II called "the new evangelization." The series itself guides the viewer, particularly lapsed Catholics, through the wondrous breadth and depth of the Catholic Faith. The website has a virtual tour of the places Fr. Barron visited, a forum for questions and much more.

The series begins with "Amazed and Afraid" in the Holy Land where the Church was founded upon Peter at Caesarea Philippi and in Jerusalem where the Holy Spirit came to the Church and to Rome. It continues in "Happy Are We" showing how the Church still proclaims Jesus in France, Poland, RussIa, and the United States.

In the third installment Fr. Barron become less the Church historian and more University of St. Mary of the Lake professor, when he talks on the "The Ineffable Mystery of God." There are, however, still visits to Sinai, Istanbul, Paris, and the Sistine Chapel. This followed by one of the most important elements of Catholicism, Mary. He does this by visiting some of the most visited Marian shrines, Lourdes and Guadalupe, as well as Nazareth and Ephesus.

"To the Ends of the Earth" tells of Peter" and Paul's missions to Jews and Gentiles. Other episodes focus on the Eucharist ("Word Made Flesh, True Bread of Heaven") and saints ("A Vast Company of Witnesses").

"The Fire of His Love" tells how the Holy Spirit still works through Catholics now, just as with Mary, Peter, Paul, and the other saints. The last of the 10-program series returns to Jerusalem, but emphasizes Jesus' second coming, "World without End — The Last Things."

George Weigel has called it "the most important media project in the history of the Catholic Church in America." Brad Miner, the Catholic Thing blogger, says it is "the most vivid catechism every created, a high def, illustrated manuscript for the 21st century."

It is not just an easily ignored or forgotten miniseries. With the DVDs are included study lessons by Carl Olson with commentary, and questions designed for both understanding and application. The book Catholicism: Journey to the Heart of the Faith also includes a facilitator's guide and answers and promotional materials.

There is a virtual tour following the production crew from Jerusalem in 2008 to Mt. Sinai in 2010, through 50 locations in 15 countries. There is an interactive map with photo galleries, videos, crew blogs, and art and architectural factoids.

There are companion guides on Conversion and Eucharist. There are follow-up books: Eucharist: Catholic Spirituality for Adults, The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path, And Now I See: A Theology of Transformation Bridging the Great Divide and more.

On his YouTube video channel from All Saints Day, Fr. Barron explained: "The saints are like a burning bush. They're on fire with Christ, but they are not consumed; they're lit up; they become more radiant. That's what we admire about them. That's why the artists portray them with haloes, I think. They are the source of illumination to others."

Matt Nathan Lee's comment is typical, "Thanks Father for all your explanation. It has helped me to strengthen my faith."

Luishazong wrote, "I've only watched 2 of your videos, but I must say they are amazing. I want to thank you for expressing to the world all these ideas and concepts that many just don't know or understand. They sure bring people closer to God. Amazing Channel, I subscribed! :D" [The colon and capital D at the end is read sideways as the emotion for "with a big smile."]

His Sunday sermons going back to 2000 can be downloaded in MP3. Number 563 for example, lists the three tasks of the Church: "Christ calls us to worship the Father, teach and evangelize in His name, and serve and care for Him in the poor."

John commented by writing, "Wonderful lesson as usual. Funny that the hardest part for me is the evangelization calling. Worshiping God, easy; helping the poor, kind of easy; evangelizing, hard. As Fr.Barron states, it is difficult to get out of the secular norms regarding telling others about our faith in God. Thanks, Fr. Barron, to remind me that the three go together and don't have to be divisive! God bless."'

Fr. Barron can also be found on Facebook, where we learn that he has such diverse interests as Gregorian Chant, Prince, "The Excorist," "Ground Hog Day," preaching, and the harmonica. On the Word on Fire Facebook page he has commented on the saints of the day, Pope Benedict's Year of Faith initiative, on current movies, and on the culture and how to change it.

Most of the activity at the Word on Fire forum is questions and answers about the Faith from lay people who have been touched by this far-reaching new evangelical Catholic ministry.

Prison To Praise: On Bended Knee

by A.J. Casson

(Editor’s note:  Mr. Casson writes from Missouri.  We welcome contributions from prisoners.  We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)

I bend my knee, to You my Lord, I do this, out of love, awe and reverence.
It is with a joyous heart that I give all praise and glory to You.
For You are my one Lord, my one God, my one redeemer.
So, tis in this most humble manner that I bid Thee Thy due.

Oh Lord, without You in my life, I was lost in sin, without You, my life was for naught.
Until the day, that You mercifully picked me up and showed me Your love.
Dearest Jesus, Your divine intervention saved me, for I was blind, but now I see.
The saving light that You shine on the world from the heavens above.

Oh, my sweet Jesus, You are the Holy Father’s only begotten and most worthy son.
For in Your infinite mercy You have blessed me, tis You I turn to,my closest friend.
Lord Jesus, tis only in You that I live my life, and when my time comes I will join You
In the heavenly place that You have prepared for me, where life has no end.

Blessed Jesus, tis the power of Your Holy Spirit that tends to my needs.
Lord, in times of woe, Your tender love calms and consoles me.
Each day as I worship, glorify, and give You thanks I come to love You more. 
Tis only to You, my Lord and Savior, to whom I bow my head and bend my knee.

As I walk down the pathway to Thee, I can hear angelic voices singing soft refrains of . . .
“Holy, Holy, Holy,” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”
Lord Jesus, I am awed by Your most Sacred Heart, that is filled with love and boundless mercy.
My heart rejoices in You my Lord and Savior, for You alone are the Holy one, You alone are my Lord.

On bended knee, I show my love for You, O Holy and righteous one.
For my mind, my heart, and my soul, I have given over freely, and joyfully so, to Thee.
Tis, upon me, that You have poured Your blessings of undying love and tender mercies.
I will forever rejoice in knowing that Your merciful love has set me free.  Amen.

Fight The Food Crisis

Pope Benedict XVI addressed issues raised by hunger, malnutrition, and the food crisis in a letter to Jacques Diouf, Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The Message was sent on the occasion of World Food Day 2011. It follows:

"While the annual celebration of World Food Day wishes to commemorate the foundation of the FAO and its commitment to agricultural development to combat hunger and malnutrition, it is also an opportunity to emphasize the plight of so many of our brothers and sisters who lack daily bread.

"The painful images of the numerous victims of hunger in the Horn of Africa impress us, as every day another chapter is added to what is one of the worst humanitarian catastrophes in recent decades. Immediate aid is of course essential in the face of the death from starvation of entire communities obliged to abandon the land of their origins, but it is also necessary to intervene in the medium- and long-term so that international intervention is not limited to responding only to emergencies.

"The situation is increasingly complicated by the difficult crisis that is affecting different sectors of the economy world wide and is hitting the most deprived, besides conditioning agricultural production, and the consequent possibility of access to foodstuffs. Nevertheless, the effort of the Governments and of the other members of the international community must be oriented to efficient coordination, aware that liberation from the yoke of hunger is the first concrete expression of the right to life which, in spite of being solemnly proclaimed, is often very far from being effectively put into practice.

"The theme chosen for this Day 'Food Prices: from Crisis to Stability' rightly invites us to reflect on the importance of the different factors that can provide individuals and the community with essential resources, starting with farming that must not be seen as a secondary activity but as the focus of every strategy of growth and integral development. This is even more important if we take into account that the availability of food is increasingly conditioned by the fluctuation of prices and sudden climate changes. At the same time we are seeing a steady abandonment of rural areas with a global decrease in agricultural production and therefore of food reserves. In addition, it seems, unfortunately, that here and there the idea of considering foodstuffs as any commercial product is spreading and therefore also subjected to speculation.

“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)

"The fact cannot be glossed over that despite the progress achieved to date and the promise of an economy that increasingly respects every person's dignity, the future of the human family needs a new impetus if it is to overcome the current fragile and uncertain situation. Although we are living in a global dimension there are evident signs of the deep division between those who lack daily sustenance and those who have huge resources at their disposal, who frequently do not use them for nutritional purposes or even destroy reserves. This confirms that globalization makes us feel closer but does not establish fraternity (cf. Caritas in Veritate, n. 19). This is why it is necessary to rediscover those values engraved on the heart of every person that have always inspired their action: the sentiment of compassion and of humanity for others, the duty of solidarity and the commitment to justice must return to being the basis of all action, including what is done by the international community.

"In the face of the widespread drama of hunger, the invitation to reflection, the analysis of problems, and even the readiness to intervene are not enough. All too often these factors remain unexpresssed, because they pertain to the emotional sphere and fail to jog the conscience and its quest for truth and goodness. There are frequent intentions to justify the conduct and omissions dictated by selfishness and by vested interests. On the contrary this Day aims to be a commitment to modify forms of conduct and decisions that ensure, today rather than tomorrow, that every person have access to the necessary food resources and that the farming sector have a sufficient level of investments and resources that are able to stabilize production, and hence the market. It is easy to reduce any consideration of the need for food to the growth of a population, knowing well that the causes of hunger have other roots and that they have taken a heavy toll on life among many a poor Lazarus who is not allowed to sit at table with the rich Epulo (cf. Paul VI, Populorum Progressio, n. 47).

"In fact it is a question of adopting an inner attitude of responsibility, able to inspire a different life style, with the necessary modest behavior and consumption, in order thereby: to promote the good of future generations in sustainable terms; the safeguard of the goods of creation; the distribution of resources and above all, the concrete commitment to the development of entire peoples and nations. On their part, the beneficiaries of international cooperation are conscientiously to employ solidarity funds 'by investing in rural infrastructures, irrigation systems, transport, organization of markets, and in the development and dissemination of agricultural technology that can make the best use of the human, natural, and socio-economic resources that are more readily available at the local level' (Caritas in Veritate, n. 27).

"It will be possible to put all this into practice if the international institutions also guarantee their service with impartiality and efficiency, but fully respecting the deepest convictions of the human spirit and every person's aspirations. In this perspective the FAO can contribute to guaranteeing adequate nutrition for all, to improving the methods of cultivation and of trade, and to protecting the fundamental rights of those who work the land, without forgetting the most authentic values which the rural world and those who live in it preserve.

"The Catholic Church feels close to the Institutions that are committed to guaranteeing food. Through her structures and development agencies, she will continue to accompany them actively in this effort to ensure that every people and community has the necessary food security and that no compromise or negotiations, however authoritative, can guarantee, without real solidarity and authentic brotherhood. 'The importance of this goal is such as to demand our openness to understand it in depth and to mobilize ourselves at the level of the "heart," so as to ensure that current economic and social processes evolve towards fully human outcomes' (Caritas in Veritate, n. 20). . ."

Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

Christians Face "Daunting Challenges"

Washington, dc — The North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation held its 81st meeting October 27-28. The meeting included reports on major events in Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Members issued a statement "On the plight of Churches in the Middle East." The October 29 statement reads:

The "Arab Spring" is unleashing forces that are having a devastating effect on the Christian communities of the Middle East. Our Churches in Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine report disturbing developments such as destruction of churches and massacres of innocent civilians that cause us grave concern. Many of our church leaders are calling Christians and all people of good will to stand in solidarity with the members of these ancient indigenous communities. In unity with them and each other, we the members of the North American Orthodox-Catholic Theological Consultation, gathered October 27-29, 2011, add our voice to their call.

We are concerned for our fellow Christians who, in the face of daunting challenges, struggle to maintain a necessary witness to Christ in their homelands. United with them in prayer and solidarity, we ask our fellow Christians living in the West to take time to develop a more realistic appreciation of their predicament. We ask our political leaders to exert more pressure where it can protect these Churches, many of which have survived centuries of hardship but now stand on the verge of disappearing completely.

When one part of the body suffers, all suffer (cf. 1 Cor. 12:26). As Christians in the West, we therefore have the vital responsibility to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters who live in fear for their lives and communities at this moment. As Orthodox and Catholic Christians we share this responsibility and this concern together.

(Source: USCCB press release)

Edge to Edge

Pray The News

“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 name Him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.”  (Is 9:1-2,5)

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 that we will grow in closeness to Jesus and in holiness this Advent and Christmas season.
  • We pray for an end to hunger and malnutrition.
  • We pray for peace on earth and for God's kingdom to come.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, and all attacks against life.
  • We pray for those in economic need.
  • We pray for migrants and refugees and for growth in understanding and friendship among people.
  • We pray for solidarity in the efforts to fight world hunger.
  • We pray for the victory of the culture of love and life over the culture of death.
  • We pray for the peoples of Africa to grow in faith and hope.
  • We pray that we will open our hearts to those in need and to the marginalized.
  • We pray for many conversions and that we will share our faith with many others.
  • We pray that the truth will be known, especially in regard to population and that we welcome each new life given by God.

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