"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
Pope Benedict XVI chose the following Biblical quotation as the theme for the 19th World Day of the Sick: "By His wounds you have been healed." (1 Pt 2:24) The Pope's message for the day, which was dated 11/21/2010, follows:
"Every year, on the day of the memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, which is celebrated on February 11, the Church proposes the World Day of the Sick. This event, as the venerable John Paul II wanted, becomes a propitious occasion to reflect upon the mystery of suffering and above all to make our communities and civil society more sensitive to our sick brothers and sisters. If every man is our brother, much more must the sick, the suffering, and those in need of care be, at the center of our attention, so that none of them feels forgotten or emarginated; indeed, 'the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through "compassion" is a cruel and inhuman society' (Encyclical letter Spe salvi, n. 38). The initiatives that will be organized in each diocese on the occasion of this Day should be a stimulus to make care for the suffering increasingly effective, also in view of the solemn celebration that will take place in 2013 at the Marian sanctuary of Altötting in Germany.
May this Lent be the Springtime of your life in the Spirit
"1. I still have in my heart the moment when, during the course of the pastoral visit to Turin, I was able to pause in reflection and prayer before the Holy Shroud, before that suffering face, which invites us to reflect on He Who took upon Himself the passion of man, of every time and place, even our sufferings, our difficulties, our sins. How many faithful, during the course of history, have passed in front of that burial cloth, which enveloped the body of a crucified man, and which completely corresponds to what the Gospels hand down to us about the passion and death of Jesus! To contemplate it is an invitation to reflect upon what St. Peter writes: 'By His wounds you have been healed' (1 Pt 2:24). The Son of God suffered, died, but rose again, and precisely because of this those wounds become the sign of our redemption, of forgiveness, and reconciliation with the Father; however they also become a test for the faith of the disciples and our faith: every time that the Lord speaks about His passion and death, they do not understand, they reject it, they oppose it. For them, as for us, suffering is always charged with mystery, difficult to accept and to bear. The two disciples of Emmaus walk sadly because of the events that had taken place in those days in Jerusalem, and only when the Risen One walks along the road with them do they open up to a new vision (cf. Lk 24:13-31). Even the apostle Thomas manifests the difficulty of believing in the way of redemptive passion: 'Unless I see the mark of the nails in His hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe' (Jn 20:25). But before Christ Who shows His wounds, his response is transformed into a moving profession of faith: 'My Lord and my God!' (Jn 20:28). What was at first an insurmountable obstacle, because it was a sign of Jesus' apparent failure, becomes, in the encounter with the Risen One, proof of a victorious love: 'Only a God Who loves us to the extent of taking upon Himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith.' (Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2007).
"2. Dear sick and suffering, it is precisely through the wounds of Christ that we are able to see, with eyes of hope, all the evils that afflict humanity. In rising again, the Lord did not remove suffering and evil from the world, but he defeated them at their root. He opposed the arrogance of Evil with the omnipotence of His Love. He has shown us, therefore, that the way of peace and joy is Love: 'Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another' (Jn 13:34). Christ, victor over death, is alive in our midst. And while with St. Thomas we also say 'My Lord and my God!,' let us follow our Master in readiness to spend our lives for our brothers and sisters (cf. 1 Jn 3:16), becoming messengers of a joy that does not fear pain, the joy of the Resurrection.
"St. Bernard observed: 'God cannot suffer but He can suffer with.' God, Who is Truth and Love in person, wanted to suffer for us and with us; He became man so that He could suffer with man, in a real way, in flesh and blood. To every human suffering, therefore, there has entered One Who shares suffering and endurance; in all suffering con-solatio is diffused, the consolation of God's participating love so as to make the star of hope rise (cf. Encyclical letter Spe salvi, n. 39).
"I repeat this message to you, dear brothers and sisters, so that you may be witnesses to it through your suffering, your lives, and your faith.
"3. Looking forward to the appointment of Madrid, in August 2011, for the World Youth Day, I would also like to address a special thought to young people, especially those who live the experience of illness. Often the Passion, the Cross of Jesus, generate fear because they seem to be the negation of life. In reality, it is exactly the contrary! The Cross is God's 'yes' to mankind, the highest and most intense expression of His love and the source from which flows eternal life. From the pierced heart of Jesus this divine life flowed. He alone is capable of liberating the world from evil and making His Kingdom of justice, peace, and love, to which we all aspire, grow (cf. Message for the World Youth Day 2011, n. 3). Dear young people, learn to 'see' and to 'meet' Jesus in the Eucharist, where He is present in a real way for us, to the point of making Himself food for our journey, but know how to recognize and serve Him also in the poor, in the sick, in our brothers and sisters who are suffering, and in difficulty, who need your help (cf. ibid., n. 4). To all you young people, both sick and healthy, I repeat my invitation to create bridges of love and solidarity so that nobody feels alone but near to God and part of the great family of His children (cf. General Audience, November 15, 2006).
“[T]here is little perception of our fundamental need of God’s forgiveness . . . Our modern consciousness . . . is generally no longer aware of the fact that we stand as debtors before God and that sin is a reality which can be overcome only by God’s initiative.”
— Pope Benedict XVI —
"4. When contemplating the wounds of Jesus, our gaze turns to His most Sacred Heart, in which God's love manifests itself in a supreme way. The Sacred Heart is Christ crucified, with the side opened by the lance from which flowed blood and water (cf. Jn 19:34), 'symbol of the sacraments of the Church, so that all men, drawn to the Heart of the Savior, might drink with joy from the perennial fountain of salvation' (Roman Missal, Preface for the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). Especially you, dear sick people, feel the nearness of this Heart full of love and draw with faith and joy from this source, praying: 'Water of the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear my prayers. In Your wounds, hide me' (Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola).
"5. At the end of this Message of mine for the next World Day of the Sick, I would like to express my affection to each and everyone, feeling myself a participant in the sufferings and hopes that you live every day in union with the crucified and risen Christ, so that He gives you peace and healing of heart. Together with Him may the Virgin Mary, whom we invoke with trust as Health of the Sick and Consoler of the Suffering, keep watch at your side! At the foot of the Cross the prophecy of Simeon was fulfilled for her: her heart as a Mother was pierced (cf. Lk 2:35). From the depths of her pain, a participation in that of her Son, Mary is made capable of accepting the new mission: to become the Mother of Christ in His members. At the hour of the Cross, Jesus presents to her each of His disciples, saying: 'Behold your son' (cf. Jn 19:26-27). Her maternal compassion for the Son becomes maternal compassion for each one of us in our daily sufferings (cf. Homily at Lourdes, September 15, 2008).
"Dear brothers and sisters, on this World Day of the Sick, I also invite the authorities to invest more and more in health-care structures that provide help and support to the suffering, above all the poorest and most in need, and addressing my thoughts to all dioceses I send an affectionate greeting to bishops, priests, consecrated people, seminarians, health-care workers, volunteers, and all those who dedicate themselves with love to treating and relieving the wounds of every sick brother and sister in hospitals or nursing homes and in families: in the faces of the sick you should know how to see always the Face of faces: that of Christ . . ."
Christian unity was the focus of Pope Benedict XVI's Angelus message on January 23.
He remarks follows:
"The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is being held in these days, from January 18 to 25. This year its theme is a passage from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles that sums up in a few words the life of the first Christian community of Jerusalem: 'And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers' (Acts 2:42). It is very significant that this theme was suggested by the Churches and Christian Communities of Jerusalem, reunited in an ecumenical spirit.
"We know how many trials our brothers and sisters of the Holy Land and of the Middle East must face. Their service is therefore all the more precious, strengthened by a witness which in some cases has even gone so far as the sacrifice of their life. Therefore, as we joyfully welcome the ideas offered for reflection by the Communities that live in Jerusalem, we gather round them and this becomes a further factor of communion for all.
"Today too, if we Christians are to be in the world a sign and instrument of close union with God and of unity among men we must found our life on these four 'hinges': a life founded on the faith of the Apostles passed on through the living Tradition of the Church, brotherly communion, the Eucharist, and prayer. Only in this way, by remaining firmly united to Christ, can the Church carry out her mission effectively, despite the limitations and shortcomings of her members, despite the divisions which the Apostle Paul already had to face in the community of Corinth as the Second Reading from the Bible this Sunday recalls, where he says: 'I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgement' (1 Cor 1:10).
"In fact, the Apostle knew that in the Christian community of Corinth discord and divisions had developed; therefore, with great firmness he added: 'Is Christ divided?' (1:13). By so saying he affirmed that every division in the Church is an offense to Christ; and, at the same time, that it is always in Him — the one Head and Lord — that we can find ourselves once again united, through the inexhaustible power of His grace.
"Here then is the ever timely appeal of today's Gospel: 'Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand' (Mt 4:17). The serious commitment of conversion to Christ is the way that leads the Church, in the time that God ordains, to full and visible unity. A number of ecumenical meetings in these days which are increasing everywhere in the world is a sign of this. As well as the presence of various ecumenical Delegations here in Rome, a meeting session of the Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches of the East will begin tomorrow. And the day after tomorrow we shall conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with the solemn celebration of Vespers on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, always go with us on this journey."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
"When I said no, the doctor got upset and he ended up taking my clothes off, hitting me, my legs were tied to the stirrups . . . I just remember my very last thought . . . looking up at the light and thinking, 'Don't fall asleep,'" related Robyn Reid to ABC News when her grandmother brought the then-three-months-pregnant 15-year-old to Dr. Kermit Gosnell's facility in January, 1998. As reported by lifesitenews.com, Reid said the drugs Gosnell gave her were so strong they knocked her out for 12 hours.
In January, Kermit Gosnell, 69, a family practice physician, who had no certification in gynecology or obstetrics, was arrested and indicted for murder in the death of Karnamaya Mongar, and seven counts of murder for killing seven living infants. Along with him, nine other employees, including his wife, were also arrested and indicted.
Philadelphia District Attorney, R. Seth Williams, a Democrat, released the 281-page grand jury report disclosing the evidence on which the arrest for eight counts of murder was based.
Karnamaya Mongar, a 41-year-old Nepalese refugee, died on November 20, 2009, after she overdosed on painkillers during an abortion in her nineteenth week of pregnancy.
The grand jury reported that a 15-year-old high school student administered intravenous anesthetic and that Pearl Gosnell, the abortionist's wife, a cosmetologist, performed late-term abortions.
"Had state and local officials performed their duties properly, Gosnell's clinic would have been shut down decades ago," the grand jury wrote. "If inspectors had looked solely for violations of Pennsylvania abortion regulations, there would have been ample grounds to revoke the approval of Gosnell's clinic as an abortion provider – as was demonstrated when DOH inspectors finally entered the facility in February 2010."
"Complaints about Gosnell to state regulators went no- where, even though 46 lawsuits were filed against him," reported the Cincinnati Enquirer.
It was only after a raid on the facility for a drug bust that authorities discovered this "house of horrors" and how gruesome was this abortion mill which had been operating for the last 30 years.
During a press conference, Williams said Gosnell "induced labor, forced the live birth of viable babies in the sixth, seventh, eighth month of pregnancy, and then killed those babies by cutting into the back of the neck with scissors and severing their spinal cord. There were bags and bottles holding aborted fetuses that were scattered throughout the building."
As reported in lifesitenews.com, the Pennsylvania District Attorney's office told ABC News that more and more victims were coming forward: "Phones were ringing off the hook. There are scores of women."
Lifesitenews.com continues its report:
"I said, 'I don't want to do this,' and he smacked me. They tied my hands and arms down and gave me more medication," Davida Johnson, who went to Gosnell in 2001, told The Associated Press.
Nicole Gaither, 38, told ABC News that she was in excruciating pain and could hardly sit down after Gosnell aborted her baby at five months gestation in 2001. It turned out that the abortionist had left parts of her baby's body inside her. When she went back, he sucked the remains out without giving her an anesthesia. Afterward he said, "Stand up, you aren't in that much pain."
When the police arrested Gosnell at his home, they discovered $240,000 in cash.
The following pictures were published in the grand jury report, and obtained through the website of Operation Rescue (operationrescue.org):
Left: Aborted baby remains in the freezer.
Right: Baby Boy A was aborted by Gosnell at 32 weeks, maybe later. After killing him, Gosnell cruelly joked, “This baby is big enough to walk around with me or walk me to the bus stop.”
"The Pennsylvania Department of Health abruptly decided, for political reasons, to stop inspecting abortion clinics at all . . . With the change of administration from Governor [Robert] Casey to Governor Ridge, officials concluded that inspections would be 'putting a barrier up to women' seeking abortions . . . Even nail salons in Pennsylvania are monitored more closely for client safety," states the grand jury report.
The late Governor Bob Casey, a Catholic, was one of the few true pro-life Democrats. Tom Ridge was and continues to be a strong pro-abortion Catholic Democrat. The grand jury report was released a day after Republican Tom Corbett replaced Democrat Governor Ed Rendell.
One hears little concern expressed by the pro-abortion movement. Even though we have so often been inundated with the expression "keep abortion safe and legal," decrying the so-called return of the "back alley abortions," we hear little concern from the abortion industry, who consistently protest and impede legislation to regulate and inspect abortion mills. All legislation which require the abortionist to inform a woman of what an abortion is, stages of development of a preborn child, risks of abortion and alternatives to abortion, have always met heavy protests and opposition from those who, while making money from killing babies, cry that we must protect a "woman's right to reproductive freedom."
"It's hard to tell the extent of egregious offenders because the abortion industry is almost completely unregulated," said Dr. Donna Harrison of Eau Claire, Michigan, president of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists, reports the Enquirer.
"Certainly Gosnell's mill is not the only 'house of horrors' in operation. He is just one of the few that have been caught. Horrific conditions and practices exist at most abortion clinics, and in fact, we have yet to find even one that obeys all the laws," states Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue.
The grand jury report also criticized National Abortion Federation, whose staff member did not report the violation she witnessed at Gosnell's abortion mill in 2009.
The abortionist Gosnell's indictments include the murdering of seven children. Since these children were born alive, and then killed by this abortionist, the act committed is in fact infanticide, subjecting him to criminal prosecution.
This again demonstrates how inconsistent and absurd our country's laws are since the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, in which the Supreme Court decriminalized the killing of an unborn child up until its birth, for any reason and by any method.
The gruesome and painful death endured by the children killed by Gosnell is the same gruesome and painful death these children would have experienced by an abortion performed when they still resided in their mother's womb, where no one would have heard the "silent scream."
Gosnell is being indicted for murdering a human person. Are the children he killed somehow more human on the outside of their mother's womb than they were minutes ago on the inside? Are they any more of a human person because they were in a stage of life referred to as sixth month or a stage of life referred to as nineteenth week, than a human person at the stage referred to as fertilization, when the egg and sperm are joined and a new, unique individual life begins, one which had never existed before and will never exist again?
How much longer will the Creator of life allow the "land of the free" to continue killing unborn children?
During his September 1987 second visit to the United States, Pope John Paul II spoke numerous times about the intrinsic evil of abortion. In his farewell address, he clearly warned Americans that their very survival depended on how and when the United States would conclude the issue of abortion: "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."
From a man who always taught clearly, never resorting to euphemisms or catchy clichés, his words, "the condition for her survival," was a warning, the seriousness of which should not go unnoticed.
by Michael Halm
The Bible Archeology Review contains many scholarly articles. Its website, however, also offers several free e-books, such as Easter: Exploring the Resurrection of Jesus; The First Christmas: The Story of Jesus' Birth in History and Legend; James, Brother of Jesus: Forged Antiquities; and the Trail of Oded and Robert Deutsch.
It also offers a variety of free downloadable articles, two of which ask the intriguing questions, "Did Jehosophat Really Jump?" and "Is Hershel Doomed to the Lake of Fire?"
In the first Leonard J. Greenspoon begins by telling where the expression "jumping Jehosophat" comes from. The London Daily Mail says, "Around the middle of the 19th century, his name was used in the United States as a mild oath, a euphemism for Jehovah or Jesus.
It first appeared in print in 1866 in Headless Horseman, "an adventure tale set in Texas by British author Mayne Reid." It was used as a euphemism for Jehovah or Jesus.
Then, however, he notes that the phrase may not be merely meaningless alliterative. He references Rev. Betty Peebles who claims that "praise dancers originated in the Bible with King Jehosophat under attack."
"God told Jehosophat," she says, " 'Don't carry any weapons into battle; just get yourself some praise dancers.' " (2 Chr 20)
“I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols
I will cleanse you. I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. I will put My spirit within you and make you live by My statutes, careful to observe My decrees.”
He also notes contemporary use by The New York Times movie review that "probably left most fans of westerns longing for the days when the hero never even kissed the girl and when the raciest flight of language might be Walter Brennan shouting 'jumpin' Jehosophat!' "
This Biblically inspired phrase is sometimes combined with others, as in "Jumpin' Jehosophat, Land o' Goshen and saints preserve us, they've done it again" as in The Washington Post's description of NBC.
In the second article Adela Yarbro Collins, author of Cosmology and Eschatology in Jewish and Christian Apocalypticism, wrote on whether the Gideons' claim that Jew Hershel Shanks, and other non-Christians, is destined for the lake of fire of Revelation 20 is true.
"Is Hershel Doomed to the Lake of Fire?" They even suggested that the earthquakes in Chile and Haiti may be signs that the end of time was near.
Collins emphasized that Revelation is not on beliefs but on works. Those who will be vindicated in Revelation 6:9 are those who have been slaughtered on account of the word of God, both Jews and Christians. They are described primarily as those who break the Ten Commandments, no matter what they believe or claim to believe.
She includes in her article an explanation of the long list of those bound for hellfire for the evil they have done.
The answers to these two questions are therefore "Yes, Jehosophat probably did jump," and "No, Jews are not necessarily condemned."
One of the most popular articles, however, is Ehud Netezer's "In Search of Herod's Tomb," reprinted after Netzer's death from a fall while working at Herodium last October.
"Herod's luxurious desert retreat, this architectural masterpiece has yielded many treasures," he wrote, "but none more exciting than the 2007 discovery of Herod's tomb."
Netzer retells Josephus' story of how Herod died at 70 "consumed with uncontrolled anger." He explains that modern physicians suggest it was "age-related failure of the heart and kidneys, with terminal edema of the lungs."
Then he proceeds with his own story: "The precise spot where we ultimately found the mausoleum eluded us for decades. We excavated almost all of Lower Herodium without finding it. Time and time again over the years our hopes were dashed. Excavating on the northeastern slope of the hill was a last desperate effort after years of disappointment. But here it was!"
The nearly destroyed mausoleum and its sarcophagus were, Netzer believed, destroyed by Jewish rebels who occupied the site during the Great Jewish Revolt because of dated coins found in the garbage heaps.
by John Stoneman
(Editor's note: Mr. Stoneman writes from Ohio. We welcome contributions from prisoners and would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
The Lord works in mysterious ways! Recently I was an inmate at a maximum security prison in Southern Ohio. I was quite sad because our priest was being reassigned to the Columbus area, leaving us without the sacraments, but most of all leaving me without my best friend. I had become very close to Fr. Klee, and his time at the prison was my only time of peace.
Then I was suddenly surprised by a reduction in my security level. I decided to choose a prison in London, Ohio, to go to. But once again the Lord stepped in. Instead I was sent to this camp in Marion, Ohio. I've heard some good things about it and took the news with a grain of salt. Three days before Christmas I was told to pack up and I was moved.
Imagine my surprise when I walked to the chapel and saw this sign "Catholic Mass, Bible Study, and Reconciliation with Fr. Joseph Klee." So far it has been smooth sailing for me here, and it's great to be reunited with my best friend. And to start the Liturgical Year off right, Fr. Klee was here for Mass on Christmas Day!
Let us always remember that the Lord works in His own ways and does things in His own time!
Thank You, Jesus!
At the celebration of Vespers for the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity on January 25, Pope Benedict XVI's homily addressed the importance of Christian unity. His homily follows:
"After the example of Jesus Who on the eve of His Passion prayed the Father for His disciples 'that they may all be one' (Jn 17:21), Christians continue ceaselessly to invoke the gift of unity from God. Their request becomes more intense during the Week of Prayer, which ends today, when the Churches and Ecclesial Communities meditate and pray together for the unity of all Christians.
"This year the theme offered for our meditation was suggested by the Christian Communities of Jerusalem, to which I would like to express my deep gratitude, together with the assurance of affection and prayers, on my part and on the part of the whole Church.
"The Christians of the Holy City are asking us to renew and strengthen our commitment to the re-establishment of full unity, by meditating on the model of life of Christ's first disciples, gathered in Jerusalem. 'They,' we read in the Acts of the Apostles, 'devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching, and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread, and the prayers' (Acts 2:42).
"This is the portrait of the first community which came into being in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost itself, inspired by the preaching that the Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed to all who had come to the Holy City for the feast. It was not a community closed in on itself but rather, catholic and universal since its birth, able to embrace peoples of different languages and cultures as the Book of the Acts of the Apostles itself attests.
"It was not a community founded on an agreement between its members nor on merely sharing a project or an ideal but rather was founded on deep communion with God Who revealed Himself in His Son, in the encounter with Christ, dead and Risen.
"In the brief synthesis which concludes the chapter that began with the account of the Holy Spirit's descent on the Day of Pentecost, the Evangelist Luke sums up the life of this first community: when they had listened to the words preached by Peter and had been baptized, they listened to the word of God passed on by the Apostles; they willingly stayed together, taking on the necessary services and freely and generously sharing their material possessions; they celebrated the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, the mystery of His death and Resurrection, in the Eucharist, repeating His gesture of the breaking of the bread; they praised the Lord and gave Him thanks constantly, calling on Him for help in difficulty.
"However, this description is not simply a memory of the past nor is it an example held up to imitate or an ideal objective to achieve. Rather, it is an affirmation of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church. It is an attestation, full of truth, that by uniting all things in Christ the Holy Spirit is the principle of unity of the Church and makes believers one.
"The Apostles' teaching, brotherly communion, the breaking of the bread, and prayers are the practical forms of the life of Jerusalem's first Christian community, gathered together by the action of the Holy Spirit, but at the same time constitute the essential features of all Christian communities, of every epoch and of every place. In other words we could say that they also represent the fundamental dimensions of unity of the visible Body of the Church.
"We must be grateful because in recent decades the ecumenical movement, 'fostered by the grace of the Holy Spirit' (Unitatis Redintegratio, n. 1), has taken significant steps forward, which have made it possible to reach an encouraging convergence and consensus on various points, developing relations of esteem and reciprocal respect between the Churches and the ecclesial Communities, as well as practical collaboration in facing the challenges of the contemporary world.
"However we know well that we are still far from that unity for which Christ prayed and which we find reflected in that portrait of the first community of Jerusalem.
"The unity to which Christ, through His Spirit, calls the Church is not only brought about at the level of organizational structures but at a far deeper level, acquires the form of unity expressed 'in the confession of one faith, in the common celebration of divine worship, and in the fraternal harmony of the family of God' (ibid., n. 2).
"The search for the re-establishment of unity among the divided Christians cannot therefore be reduced to recognition of the reciprocal differences and the achievement of a peaceful coexistence: what we yearn for is that unity for which Christ Himself prayed and which, by its nature is expressed in the communion of faith, of the sacraments, of the ministry.
"The journey towards this unity must be perceived as a moral imperative, the answer to a precise call of the Lord. For this reason it is necessary not to give in to the temptation of resignation or pessimism, which is lack of trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is our duty to continue enthusiastically on our way towards this goal with a strict and serious dialogue in order to deepen the common theological, liturgical, and spiritual patrimony; with reciprocal knowledge, with the ecumenical formation of the new generations and, especially, with conversion of heart and with prayer.
“The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God. (1 Cor 1:18)
"Indeed, as the Second Vatican Council declared, this 'holy objective — the reconciliation of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of Christ — transcends human powers and gifts. It therefore places its hope entirely in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the love of the Father for us, and in the power of the Holy Spirit' (ibid., n. 24).
"The Apostle Paul goes with us and supports us on this journey in search of full and visible unity among all Christians. Today we are solemnly celebrating the Feast of his Conversion. Before the Risen One appeared to him on the road to Damascus saying to him: 'I am Jesus, Whom you are persecuting!' (Acts 9:5), Saul was one of relentless adversaries of the early Christian communities. The Evangelist Luke describes Saul as one of those who approved the killing of Stephen in the days when a violent persecution broke out against the Christians of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 8:1).
"Saul departed from the Holy City to spread the persecution of Christians as far as Syria, and, after his conversion returned there to be introduced to the Apostles by Barnabas, who made himself the guarantor of the authenticity of his encounter with the Lord. From that time Paul was not only admitted to the Church as a member, but also as a preacher of the Gospel together with the other Apostles since, like them, the Risen Lord had appeared to him and he had received the special call to be 'a chosen instrument' in order to carry His Name to the peoples (cf. Acts 9:15).
"On his long missionary voyages, Paul, wandering as a pilgrim through different cities and regions, never forgot his bond of communion with the Church of Jerusalem.
"The collection for the Christians of that community who were very soon in need of help (cf. 1 Cor 16:1), occupied an important place in the concerns of Paul who considered it not only a work of charity but the sign and guarantee of unity and communion among the Churches he had founded and the primitive Community of the Holy City, a sign of the unity of the one Church of Christ . . .
"Dear brothers and sisters, trusting in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church, let us therefore invoke the gift of unity. United with Mary, who was present with the Apostles in the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, let us turn to God, Source of every gift, so that the miracle of Pentecost may be renewed for us today and, guided by the Holy Spirit, all Christians may re-establish full unity in Christ. Amen."
Vatican City — In his Angelus message on January 30, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the Beatitudes which were the subject of that day's Gospel.
The Pope said:
". . . Jesus, the new Moses, 'takes his seat on the cathedra of the mountain' (Jesus of Nazareth, Doubleday, New York 2007, p. 65) and proclaims 'blessed' the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the merciful, those who hunger for righteousness, the pure in heart, the persecuted (cf. Mt 5:3-10). It is not a new ideology, but a teaching that comes from on high and touches the human condition, the condition that the Lord, in becoming flesh, wished to assume in order to save it.
"Therefore 'the Sermon on the Mount is addressed to the entire world, the entire present and future, and yet it demands discipleship and can be understood and lived out only by following Jesus and accompanying Him on His journey' (Jesus of Nazareth, p. 69).
"The Beatitudes are a new program of life, to free oneself from the false values of the world and to open oneself to the true goods, present and future. Indeed, when God comforts, He satisfies the hunger for righteousness, He wipes away the tears of those who mourn, which means that, as well as compensating each one in a practical way, He opens the Kingdom of Heaven. 'The Beatitudes are the transposition of the Cross and Resurrection into discipleship' (ibid., p. 74). They mirror the life of the Son of God Who let Himself even be persecuted and despised until He was condemned to death so that salvation might be given to men and women.
"An ancient hermit says: 'The Beatitudes are gifts of God and we must say a great "thank you" to Him for them and for the rewards that derive from them, namely the Kingdom of God in the century to come and consolation here; the fullness of every good and mercy on God's part . . . once we have become images of Christ on earth' (Peter of Damascus, In Filocalia, Vol. 3, Turin 1985, p. 79).
"The Gospel of the Beatitudes is commented on with the actual history of the Church, the history of Christian holiness, because, as St. Paul writes, 'God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are' (1 Cor 1:27-28).
"For this reason the Church has no fear of poverty, contempt, or persecution in a society which is often attracted by material well-being and worldly power. St. Augustine reminds us that 'it serves nothing to suffer these evils, but rather to bear them in the Name of Jesus, not only with a serene soul but also with joy' (cf. De sermone Domini in monte, i, 5,13: ccl 35, 13).
"Dear brothers and sisters, let us invoke the Virgin Mary, the Blessed par excellence, asking her for the strength to seek the Lord (cf. Zeph 2:3) and to follow Him always, with joy, on the path of the Beatitudes."
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
vatican city — Pope Benedict XVI met with members of the joint international commission for theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches on January 28.
In his address, the Holy Father reviewed the history and progress of the group, stating:
"I am grateful for the work of the Commission which began in January 2003 as a shared initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort
and restore me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts,
of all that love me,
Christ in mouth
of friend and
Prayer attributed to
"As you know, the first phase of the dialogue, from 2003 to 2009, resulted in the common text entitled Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church. The document outlined aspects of fundamental ecclesiological principles that we share and identified issues requiring deeper reflection in successive phases of the dialogue. We can only be grateful that after almost fifteen hundred years of separation we still find agreement about the sacramental nature of the Church, about apostolic succession in priestly service, and about the impelling need to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in the world.
"In the second phase the Commission has reflected from an historical perspective on the ways in which the Churches expressed their communion down the ages. During the meeting this week you are deepening your study of the communion and communication that existed between the Churches until the mid-fifth century of Christian history, as well as the role played by monasticism in the life of the early Church.
"We must be confident that your theological reflection will lead our Churches not only to understand each other more deeply, but resolutely to continue our journey decisively towards the full communion to which we are called by the will of Christ. For this intention we have lifted up our common prayer during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which has just ended.
"Many of you come from regions where Christian individuals and communities face trials and difficulties that are a cause of deep concern for us all. All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in order to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches, sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities.
(Source: L'Osservatore Romano English edition)
God our Father, You sent Saint Patrick to preach Your glory to the people of Ireland. By the help of his prayers, may all Christians proclaim Your love to all men. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.
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.
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