"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)
(Editor's note: The following report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City (VIS) —"Today, fifty years from the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, we begin with great joy the Year of Faith," said Benedict XVI during the course of a Mass celebrated this morning in St. Peter's Square. Concelebrating with the Pope were cardinals, patriarchs, and major archbishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches, Synod Fathers who are currently participating in a synodal assembly on the new evangelization, presidents of episcopal conferences from all over the world, and a number of Council Fathers from Vatican II. Also present at the celebration were Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and His Grace Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of the Anglican Communion.
"In order to evoke the Council," the Holy Father said, "this celebration has been enriched by several special signs: the opening procession, intended to recall the memorable one of the Council Fathers when they entered this basilica; the enthronement of a copy of the Book of the Gospels used at the Council; the consignment of the seven final Messages of the Council, and of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I will do before the final blessing. These signs help us not only to remember, they also offer us the possibility of going beyond commemorating. They invite us to enter more deeply into the spiritual movement which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning. And its true meaning was and remains faith in Christ, the apostolic faith, animated by the inner desire to communicate Christ to individuals and all people, in the Church's pilgrimage along the pathways of history."
Extracts from Benedict XVI's homily are given below.
Pope Benedict XVI
"The Year of Faith which we launch today is linked harmoniously with the Church's whole path over the last fifty years: from the Council, through the Magisterium of the Servant of God Paul VI, who proclaimed a Year of Faith in 1967, up to the Great Jubilee of the year 2000, with which Blessed John Paul II re-proposed to all humanity Jesus Christ as the one Savior, yesterday, today and forever. Between these two Popes, Paul VI and John Paul II, there was a deep and profound convergence, precisely upon Christ as the center of the cosmos and of history, and upon the apostolic eagerness to announce Him to the world. Jesus is the center of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God Whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfilment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter."
"Today's Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization . . . This mission of Christ, this movement of His continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense. The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because it is united to Him as a body to its head."
"Vatican Council II did not wish to deal with the theme of faith in one specific document. It was, however, animated by a desire, as it were, to immerse itself anew in the Christian mystery so as to re-propose it fruitfully to contemporary man . . . In his opening speech Blessed John XXIII presented the principal purpose of the Council in this way: "What above all concerns the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine be safeguarded and taught more effectively . . . Therefore, the principal purpose of this Council is not the discussion of this or that doctrinal theme, a Council is not required for that, . . . [but] this certain and immutable doctrine, which is to be faithfully respected, needs to be explored and presented in a way which responds to the needs of our time."
"In the light of these words, we can understand what I myself felt at the time: during the Council there was an emotional tension as we faced the common task of making the truth and beauty of the faith shine out in our time, without sacrificing it to the demands of the present or leaving it tied to the past: the eternal presence of God resounds in the faith, transcending time, yet it can only be welcomed by us in our own unrepeatable today. Therefore I believe that the most important thing . . . is to revive in the whole Church that positive tension, that yearning to announce Christ again to contemporary man. But, so that this interior thrust towards the new evangelization neither remain just an idea nor be lost in confusion, . . . I have often insisted on the need to return, as it were, to the "letter" of the Council - that is to its texts - also to draw from them its authentic spirit, and why I have repeated that the true legacy of Vatican II is to be found in them."
"The Council did not formulate anything new in matters of faith, nor did it wish to replace what was ancient. Rather, it concerned itself with seeing that the same faith might continue to be lived in the present day, that it might remain a living faith in a world of change . . . The Council Fathers wished to present the faith in a meaningful way; and if they opened themselves trustingly to dialogue with the modern world it is because they were certain of their faith, of the solid rock on which they stood. In the years following, however, many embraced uncritically the dominant mentality, placing in doubt the very foundations of the deposit of faith, which they sadly no longer felt able to accept as truths.
"If today the Church proposes a new Year of Faith and a new evangelization, it is not to honor an anniversary, but because there is more need of it, even more than there was fifty years ago! . . . Even the initiative to create a pontifical council for the promotion of the new evangelization . . . is to be understood in this context. Recent decades have seen the advance of a spiritual "decertification." In the Council's time it was already possible from a few tragic pages of history to know what a life or a world without God looked like, but now we see it every day around us . . . But it is in starting from the experience of this desert . . . that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us."
"In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living; thus in today's world there are innumerable signs, often expressed implicitly or negatively, of the thirst for God, for the ultimate meaning of life. And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path."
"The journey is a metaphor for life, and the wise wayfarer is one who has learned the art of living, and can share it with his brethren - as happens to pilgrims along the Way of St. James or similar routes which, not by chance, have again become popular in recent years. How come so many people today feel the need to make these journeys? Is it not because they find there, or at least intuit, the meaning of our existence in the world? This, then, is how we can picture the Year of Faith: a pilgrimage in the deserts of today's world, taking with us only what is necessary: . . . the Gospel and the faith of the Church, of which the Council documents are a luminous expression, as is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published twenty years ago.
"Venerable and dear brothers, October 11, 1962, was the Feast of Mary Most Holy, Mother of God. Let us entrust to her the Year of Faith, as I did last week when I went on pilgrimage to Loreto. May the Virgin Mary always shine out as a star along the way of the new evangelization."
The 99th World Day of Migrants and Refugees will be January 13. In his message for the Day, Pope Benedict XVI stated:
"The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, recalled that 'the Church goes forward together with humanity' (No. 40); therefore 'the joys and the hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts' (ibid., 1). The Servant of God Paul VI echoed these words when he called the Church an 'expert in humanity' (Populorum Progressio, 13), as did Blessed John Paul II when he stated that the human person is 'the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission . . . the way traced out by Christ Himself' (Centesimus Annus, 53). In the footsteps of my predecessors, I sought to emphasize in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate that 'the whole Church, in all her being and acting – when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity – is engaged in promoting integral human development' (No. 11). I was thinking also of the millions of men and women who, for various reasons, have known the experience of migration. Migration is in fact 'a striking phenomenon because of the sheer numbers of people involved, the social, economic, political, cultural, and religious problems it raises, and the dramatic challenges it poses to nations and the international community' (ibid., 62), for 'every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance' (ibid.).
"For this reason, I have chosen to dedicate the 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the theme 'Migrations: pilgrimage of faith and hope,' in conjunction with the celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, and at a time when the whole Church is celebrating the Year of Faith, taking up with enthusiasm the challenge of the new evangelization.
"Faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not infrequently try to leave behind the 'hopelessness' of an unpromising future. During their journey many of them are sustained by the deep trust that God never abandons His children; this certainty makes the pain of their uprooting and separation more tolerable and even gives them the hope of eventually returning to their country of origin. Faith and hope are often among the possessions which emigrants carry with them, knowing that with them, 'we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey' (Spe Salvi, 1).
"In the vast sector of migration, the Church shows her maternal concern in a variety of ways. On the one hand, she witnesses the immense poverty and suffering entailed in migration, leading often to painful and tragic situations. This inspires the creation of programs aimed at meeting emergencies through the generous help of individuals and groups, volunteer associations and movements, parochial and diocesan organizations in cooperation with all people of good will. The Church also works to highlight the positive aspects, the potential, and the resources which migrations offer. Along these lines, programs and centers of welcome have been established to help and sustain the full integration of migrants, asylum seekers, and refugees into a new social and cultural context, without neglecting the religious dimension, fundamental for every person's life. Indeed, it is to this dimension that the Church, by virtue of the mission entrusted to her by Christ, must devote special attention and care: this is her most important and specific task. For Christians coming from various parts of the world, attention to the religious dimension also entails ecumenical dialogue and the care of new communities, while for the Catholic faithful it involves, among other things, establishing new pastoral structures and showing esteem for the various rites, so as to foster full participation in the life of the local ecclesial community. Human promotion goes side by side with spiritual communion, which opens the way 'to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the only Savior of the world' (Porta Fidei, 6). The Church always offers a precious gift when she guides people to an encounter with Christ, which opens the way to a stable and trustworthy hope.
"Where migrants and refugees are concerned, the Church and her various agencies ought to avoid offering charitable services alone; they are also called to promote real integration in a society where all are active members and responsible for one another's welfare, generously offering a creative contribution and rightfully sharing in the same rights and duties. Emigrants bring with them a sense of trust and hope which has inspired and sustained their search for better opportunities in life. Yet they do not seek simply to improve their financial, social, and political condition. It is true that the experience of migration often begins in fear, especially when persecutions and violence are its cause, and in the trauma of having to leave behind family and possessions which had in some way ensured survival. But suffering, great losses, and at times a sense of disorientation before an uncertain future do not destroy the dream of being able to build, with hope and courage, a new life in a new country. Indeed, migrants trust that they will encounter acceptance, solidarity, and help, that they will meet people who sympathize with the distress and tragedy experienced by others, recognize the values and resources the latter have to offer, and are open to sharing humanly and materially with the needy and disadvantaged. It is important to realize that 'the reality of human solidarity, which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty' (Caritas in Veritate, 43). Migrants and refugees can experience, along with difficulties, new, welcoming relationships which enable them to enrich their new countries with their professional skills, their social and cultural heritage and, not infrequently, their witness of faith, which can bring new energy and life to communities of ancient Christian tradition, and invite others to encounter Christ and to come to know the Church.
"Certainly every state has the right to regulate migration and to enact policies dictated by the general requirements of the common good, albeit always in safeguarding respect for the dignity of each human person. The right of persons to migrate – as the Council's Constitution Gaudium et Spes, No. 65, recalled – is numbered among the fundamental human rights, allowing persons to settle wherever they consider best for the realization of their abilities, aspirations, and plans. In the current social and political context, however, even before the right to migrate, there is need to reaffirm the right not to emigrate, that is, to remain in one's homeland; as Blessed John Paul II stated: 'It is a basic human right to live in one's own country. However these rights become effective only if the factors that urge people to emigrate are constantly kept under control' (Address to the Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, October 9, 1998). Today in fact we can see that many migrations are the result of economic instability, the lack of essential goods, natural disasters, wars, and social unrest. Instead of a pilgrimage filled with trust, faith, and hope, migration then becomes an ordeal undertaken for the sake of survival, where men and women appear more as victims than as agents responsible for the decision to migrate. As a result, while some migrants attain a satisfactory social status and a dignified level of life through proper integration into their new social setting, many others are living at the margins, frequently exploited and deprived of their fundamental rights, or engaged in forms of behavior harmful to their host society. The process of integration entails rights and duties, attention and concern for the dignified existence of migrants; it also calls for attention on the part of migrants to the values offered by the society to which they now belong.
"In this regard, we must not overlook the question of irregular migration, an issue all the more pressing when it takes the form of human trafficking and exploitation, particularly of women and children. These crimes must be clearly condemned and prosecuted, while an orderly migration policy which does not end up in a hermetic sealing of borders more severe sanctions against irregular migrants and the adoption of measures meant to discourage new entries, could at least limit for many migrants the danger of falling prey to such forms of human trafficking. There is an urgent need for structured multilateral interventions for the development of the countries of departure, effective countermeasures aimed at eliminating human trafficking, comprehensive programs regulating legal entry, and a greater openness to considering individual cases calling for humanitarian protection more than political asylum. In addition to suitable legislation, there is a need for a patient and persevering effort to form minds and consciences. In all this, it is important to strengthen and develop understanding and cooperation between ecclesial and other institutions devoted to promoting the integral development of the human person. In the Christian vision, social and humanitarian commitment draws its strength from fidelity to the Gospel, in the knowledge that 'to follow Christ, the perfect man, is to become more human oneself' (Gaudium et Spes, 41).
"Dear brothers and sisters who yourselves are migrants, may this World Day help you renew your trust and hope in the Lord Who is always at our side! Take every opportunity to encounter Him and to see His face in the acts of kindness you receive during your pilgrimage of migration. Rejoice, for the Lord is near, and with Him you will be able to overcome obstacles and difficulties, treasuring the experiences of openness and acceptance that many people offer you. For 'life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach Him we also need lights close by – people who shine with His light and so guide us along our way' (Spe Salvi, 49).
"I entrust each of you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, sign of sure hope and consolation, our 'guiding star,' who with her maternal presence is close to us at every moment of our life. To all I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing."
To the editors:
Re: Prison To Praise, "No Stamp Needed"
I do Prison Correspondence Ministry at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Helotes, Tx. Our group is the only one, at least in San Antonio, that does correspondence with the inmates. When I read this article I hear the men say all the time, "I wrote my family, but haven't heard in months," or "I wrote my family and the letters were returned with 'No Forwarding Address.' " Yes, they move and never notify their loved one. How would you and I feel if people did this to us? Depressed for sure!
I'm proud of the man's friend for trying to encourage him to write. With the environment they live in daily, they need so much encouragement. This is what we try to do through our correspondence ministry.
My son was in for 15 years and just got out last February of this year. He sent me two names over 15 years ago and asked me to write these men as they had no one. I thought about it for a couple of weeks because I had that same inward fear that most people have. However, one Tuesday evening I went to Mass and heard the priest in his homily say, "How long are you going to stand on the shore before you take a step out into the deep and take a risk?"
That confirmed to me that God wanted me to do this ministry, so I came home and wrote both men. We built a great friendship and so my son sent me 13 more names. Knowing I couldn't handle all this alone, I went to our pastor and asked, "Could we form a ministry?" He responded, "Yes" immediately because he had done it when he was in Seminary and had developed a good friendship. Luckily there were two more ladies who had sons inside and another lady that has no one in but wanted to write prisoners.
We four ladies began writing to 20 men. This was in 2006! We now write over 300 men all over the state of Texas, a few in Oklahoma, and 36 in Zambia, Africa. We received the last 31 of those names about three months ago from a chaplain at one of the units asking for our help as pen pals to men with HIV/AIDS. I was amazed and asked our first man that wrote us about three years ago, "How did you find us?" He wrote back saying, "We were in an International Catholic Publication that they received on their unit." I was stunned but God says, "You plant the seed and I'll take it from there." He sure had!
I'll close now, but I just want you to know how much more needs to be written about Prison Ministry and Encouragement.
Loretta Lang, President
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
For those who cherish the Judeo-Christian principle of the sanctity of all innocent human life, the following are tidbits of good news to accompany good cheer this Christmas season.
This year's 40 Days For Life prayer campaign resulted in 604 babies known saved. In front of abortion mills across the country, pro-life prayer warriors prayed for 40 straight days, from September 26 through November 4.
This year's was the largest campaign yet, with 316 locations in 49 states, plus seven Canadian provinces. Not only have children been saved from the painful death of abortion, but also hundreds of men and women have been spared from the tragic effects of abortion, including a lifetime of regrets.
The ongoing Helpers of God's Precious Infants, begun locally 18 years ago, has now grown to four Saturdays per month (first, third, and fourth at Clifton with 8 a.m. Mass at Holy Name Church, Auburn Avenue, Rosary Procession to Planned Parenthood abortuary, closing with Benediction at the church; and second Saturday at St. Teresa of Avila Church, Overlook Avenue, with Mass at 8:30 a.m., and Rosary Procession to Planned Parenthood clinic), and has grown to over 100 participants each week, including a number of college and high school students.
Steven Mosher, president of Population Research Institute (www.pop.org), states: "Everyone agrees that Baby Seven Billion's birthday – the day that our planet becomes home to seven billion human beings – marks an important milestone. But is it a milestone on humanity's upward path that we should celebrate, or a warning sign of impending catastrophe?
"The prophets of doom and gloom, of population bombs and the baby booms, would have preferred that Baby Seven Billion had never been born.
"We at the Population Research Institute have a different take on the matter. We believe that the birth of Baby Seven Billion is cause for celebration.
"Let us also join together in celebrating the birth of Baby Seven Billion. He or she is a sign of our future, our hope and our prosperity.
"People are our greatest resource. Extraordinarily gifted people have helped to enrich civilization and lengthen life spans. But the fact is, everyone, rich or poor, is a unique creation with something priceless to offer to the rest of us.
"Baby Seven Billion, boy or girl, red or yellow, black or white, is not a liability, but an asset. Not a curse, but a blessing. For all of us."
As reported by American Life League (www.all.org):
"Texas will be able to cut off state funding to Planned Parenthood, at least for now, after a federal appeals court lifted an order that had blocked a new law banning funds to organizations linked to abortion providers from taking effect. The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that the state can turn off the funding spigot pending trial, though Texas intends to continue funding its broader program to provide women access to health care."
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals' "ruling affirms yet again that in Texas the Women's Health Program has no obligation to fund Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform or promote abortion," said Texas Governor Rick Perry, celebrating the decision. "In Texas we choose life, and we will immediately begin defunding all abortion affiliates to honor and uphold that choice." (lifesitenews.com)
"Chick-fil-A has learned upholding traditional values is not just good for the soul; it's also good for business. Since President Dan Cathay stirred up a firestorm of controversy and protests by daring to say in public that he supports traditional marriage, the fast food chain has enjoyed record sales and increased brand recognition.
"According to a report by USA Today, consumer use, visits, and ad awareness all rose measurably in the third quarter, despite widespread negative media coverage of Cathay's remarks to the Baptist Press opposing same-sex 'marriage.'"
"The upswing in business may have started August 1 with 'Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day,' when consumers flocked to Chick-fil-A restaurants nationwide to show their support for free speech and traditional marriage," reports lifesitenews.com.
The following excerpts are from a story published by One More Soul (www.OMSoul.com):
"One day, while praying for an end to abortion on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade which legalized the killing of babies in the womb in 1973, Sarah suddenly experienced the voice of God saying to her:
' "You have the spirit of abortion in you because you do not value children as you ought. You see them as a burden and something that would inconvenience your life.'
"She had believed that it was wrong to kill children through abortion, but she now realized that a deeply rooted contraceptive mentality within her had prejudiced her to not really value children or to even desire them.
"Rarely were children talked about in terms of 'abundance and overflowing joy,' Sarah Nelson of Denver, Colorado, told lifesitenews.com.
"In some circles it was strongly suggested that couples limit their family size for the good of God. Many couples saw two children as plenty.
"I was not really open to having children, nor had I been encouraged to be so from my church leadership. From this flowed the natural conclusion that contraception was fine.
"Sarah turned to the Catholic Church for answers and eventually became Catholic along with her now-husband Brennon. They now have two children and are hoping for more.
"'The gift God has given us, the ability to procreate with Him, why would we not want to be part of that?,' the couple often asks their friends."
The following is taken from the article "I Was Conceived in Rape. Did I Deserve to Be Aborted?" written by Ryan Bomberger, and published by lifesitenews.com.
"Rape. It's one of the most horrific things anyone can do to another human being.
"My birth mother's courage to endure nine months of a traumatic pregnancy has had reverberations she never could have known. Adopted into a loving multi-racial family of 15 and now an adoptive father myself, I cannot ever express my gratitude to a woman who helped to defy the myth of the 'unwanted.' And now The Radiance Foundation, founded by my wife Bethany and I, celebrates the beautiful intrinsic and irreplaceable value of every human life. My birth mother's singular choice of life for me has, literally, affected millions.
"In addition to my own story, there are many more of us out there, victims and would-be victims of such a senseless act of cruelty that can be redeemed. Our lives are reflective of how our humanity is extremely compassionate when we don't compound the horror of rape with the violence of abortion."
The best tidbit of news is "this day a child is born."
Character is Destiny is full of inspiring stories. Some of them may already be familiar to Catholics, that of saints, Thomas More, Joan of Arc, Maximilian Kolbe, or Mother Teresa. Some of those collected by authors John McCain and Mark Salter, however, might be less familiar. All are inspiring. Those on Faith, Cooperation, Courtesy, and Excellence, however, demonstrate the book's subtitle, "inspiring stories every young person should know and every adult should remember."
Under the heading "Faith" McCain tells of "the enemy who helped me understand the power of my faith." "This is war's greatest tragedy, but no matter how just or necessary your cause, a part of you must become less human to serve it on a battlefield."
To keep his human dignity McCain had to keep faith in his fellow POWs that some would survive to tell their story. They had to keep faith that America would do all it could to bring them back. They had to keep faith in "a God Whose love for [them] was ever present."
One Christmas when he was tied up in solitary, one of the guards quietly came in and loosened his ropes during the night, retying them in the morning. It was not until another Christmas came that he learned the reason, though he might have suspected. Then the guard made the sign of the cross in the dirt before rubbing it out.
"I have never forgotten him," McCain writes, "or the kindness he showed me as a testament to the faith we shared."
Under "Cooperation" they tell of John Wooden's character that led to his success as a coach. After World War II he was a basketball coach at Indiana State. He chose not to play in a national tournament because they would allow one of his players to play, an African-American. At UCLA his teams won 88 consecutive games and 10 championships.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says, "Coach taught us self-discipline, and he was always his own best example."
"[Basketball] is such a team sport. It's a beautiful game when it's played as a team." Wooden explains, "I tried to explain to my players that every person has a role and every role is important."
Under "Hopefulness" the authors tell of Puritan John Winthrop's journey to America. He hoped to find a better life there than in England with the Massachusetts Bay Company. He was selected its governor for "no other member of the company was considered a more just, wiser, more compassionate, or upright man."
Just three weeks after arriving at Salem, his son Henry drowned. Two hundred settlers returned to England when winter came.
The next year his wife Margaret came to him at what would become Boston, having lost two more of their children since he'd left, including the daughter he'd never seen. After 16 years Margaret too died, but he remarried and had a son before he died.
The life inspiring the virtue of "Courtesy" is that of Aung San Suu Kyi. The authors explain, "In Burma, courtesy is a rebellious gesture to a ruling elite that has tried to terrorize such refined kindness from their culture."
Suu, as she prefers to be called, returned to Burma from Oxford, because Burma needed her, the daughter of Gen. Aung San, Burma's greatest hero. She ran, won against the military regime, and then got imprisoned.
She has shown courtesy fearlessly for many years in prison or house arrest, because, as she said in her Peace Prize letter, "It is not power that corrupts, but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it, and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it."
The story of "the Black Gazelle," by Wilma Rudolph, comes under the title "Excellence." She was the 20th child of railroad porter Eddie and Blanche Rudolph, born two months premature. She contracted measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough, scarlet fever, and pneumonia by the age of five, when she got polio.
"The doctors told me I would never walk," she wrote, "but my mother told me I would, so I believed my mother."
By seven she could go to school with leg brace and crutches. She walked in the church without them just before her 10th birthday. At 16, she won a bronze in a 400-meter relay in Melbourne and made being the fastest woman in the world her goal.
In the Rome Olympics 19-year-old Cassius Clay, the future Mohammed Ali, won gold in boxing. Rudolph won three. Back in Claryville, she won again when she forced the town to let other blacks to parade and awards ceremony.
(Editor's note: Leiann Spontaneo is a lay associate of Priests for Life.)
No matter where we live or what job we do or how much money we make, we all share a similar ritual almost every day of every week. At some time or other, we check the mailbox. Checking the mailbox is always a treat . . . Sure, we find mostly ads, flyers, and bills, but some days we reach into our boxes and find a piece of "good mail" mixed in.
Getting "good mail" feels like hitting the jackpot. It makes us stand in the street or sit on the porch and smile. God sends us mail sometimes through a cherished friend or a total stranger, bringing someone into the loop of His love. (ef. Caron Loveless, Hugs from Heaven: Embraced by the Savior)
Do you ever see God in different pieces of mail? My mailbox is Roman Catholic. I am confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church. However, Joyce Meyer Ministries keeps showing up in my mailbox. What a combination. Lee Ezell writes in Porcupine People: Learning to Love the Unlovable (Servant) that she is grateful for what God has spread among different Christian dominations, which helps us step across invisible lines and forces us to come together to get the full picture of God. Ezell gives the example of being deeply immersed in Baptist churches since her conversion at a Billy Graham Crusade and learning Knowledge of God was enhanced and expanded through the charismatic experience and conversations and friendships with Roman Catholics, bringing her to respect the sense of God's mystery, the communion of saints and rich symbolism in worship . . .
Have you dropped something in the mail today? Mother Teresa wants us to be really holy, not in big things for we do not have big things to do, but the smaller the thing, that piece of mail, the greater the love. What should be important for us is how much love we put into giving. How much do we love? (cf. Mother Teresa, Where There is Love). Caron Loveless quotes D.M. Street as saying you should let God love you through others and let God love others through you.
(From An Unborn Baby)
(Editor's note: Mr. Smith writes from California. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
I want to live. Can you hear me cry? Does the silence mean I have to die?
I want to live. This is my voice. Does the silence mean I have no choice?
Look at my arms and legs, my tiny hands and feet. I'm perfectly made, not something incomplete.
Would you change your mind? Do you think I could be allowed to become a member of the human race?
I want to be loved, is that asking too much; to know the feeling of a mother's loving touch?
I want to stay where I am. Please don't take me away . . . I don't want to be one of those who are going to be murdered today!
(Editor's note: The following is a press release from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
WASHINGTON—The Catholic Church marked the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council by Blessed Pope John XXIII on October 11. The Council ran from 1962-1965, producing 16 documents over the course of four sessions. Over 2,000 bishops from around the world participated. The Council introduced major reforms and stands among the most significant religious events of the 20th Century.
To honor this anniversary, as well as the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI called for a Year of Faith, beginning October 11 and ending November 24, 2013, to strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example. Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans, chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Divine Worship, offers "10 Ways Vatican II Shapes the Church Today" to help Catholics appreciate the Council and how it relates to the Year of Faith:
1. Vatican II presented a renewed vision of what it means to be the Church. The Council document Lumen Gentium on the nature of the Church called the Church a light for the world and the source of salvation. The document Gaudium et Spes on the Church in the modern world said the Church shares the joys and sufferings of the world. Both documents refer to the Church as the People of God, reflecting a new appreciation of lay people that surfaced repeatedly at the Council.
2. It called the Eucharist the source and summit of the faith. The Council's document on the liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, describes Holy Communion as the main source of God's grace for Catholics. In the Eucharist, Catholics encounter the person of Christ. In this way, it is truly the foundation of the Church.
3. It reformed the liturgy. The changes to the Mass, perhaps the most well-known conciliar reform, promoted "full and active participation," which led to the Mass being translated into the vernacular, or local language, and celebrated as a dialogue between the celebrant and the congregation.
4. It said every Catholic is called to holiness and to be a missionary. The document on missionary activity, Ad Gentes, expanded the view of how the Church evangelizes. Missionaries were no longer sent just to remote areas of the world to spread the Good News; now all Catholics play a role in evangelizing through their lives.
5. It emphasized the importance of the family. According to Lumen Gentium, the family is the "Domestic Church." While the faith of the Church flourishes in parishes, dioceses, and nations around the world, before all else is the family. It is the family that provides a strong foundation for each believer.
6. It reshaped the Church's relationship with other Christians and other religions. At Vatican II, the Church adopted a spirit of respect and dialogue toward other faith traditions. Ensuing dialogues have built bridges of understanding and strengthened relationships with Orthodox Christians, Jews, Muslims, Protestants and others.
7. It promoted collaboration. The document Christus Dominus encouraged "collegiality," or collaboration within the Church. Bishops, priests, religious, and lay people all work together in a way that didn't in the past. Bishops collaborate through episcopal conferences like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and state-level Catholic Conferences. The Council also encouraged "subsidiarity," by which authority is divided up and decisions are made at the appropriate level.
8. It updated the Church… John XXIII saw Vatican II as a chance for renewal in the face of the "signs of the times" and said he called the Council to open a window and let in fresh air. This resulted in reforms that made the Church more accessible to the modern world, such as Mass in the vernacular and dialogue with other believers, and the openness of the Council was reflected in the presence men and women religious, lay people, and even non-Catholics among its official observers.
9. …but it also returned the Church to its roots. Vatican II also reformed the Church through a back-to-basics approach. This meant renewed appreciation for Scripture, the Church Fathers, and the restoration of ancient traditions such as the permanent diaconate and the multi-step process for adults joining the Church.
10. Then-Father Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) played a significant behind-the-scenes role. The bishops at Vatican II were assisted by brilliant theologians. These assistants, or periti, included Joseph Ratzinger, who assisted Cardinal Josef Frings of Cologne, Germany. Father Ratzinger was involved in drafting speeches, shaping documents and defining the overall trajectory of the Council. More information on the Year of Faith is available online: www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/year-of-faith/index.cfm
Vatican City (VIS) — On October 29 in the Holy See Press Office Cardinal Antonio Maria Veglio and Archbishop Joseph Kalathiparambil, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, presented the Pope's Message for the ninety-ninth World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which falls on January 13, 2013, and will have as its theme: "Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope."
"Today the phenomenon of migration is striking for the vast number of people involved," said Cardinal Veglio. "Suffice it, for example, to read the International Organization for Migration's World Migration Report 2011, which estimates a total of 214 million international migrants." To these must be added internally displaced persons, who numbered around 740 million in 2010. "Adding the two figures together, we see that nearly one billion human beings, a seventh of the global population, is today experiencing some form of migration," the cardinal said.
“The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately, justly, and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus. It was He Who sacrificed Himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse for Himself a people of His own, eager to do what is right.”
"On their existential pilgrimage towards a better future, migrants carry with them feelings of faith and hope, even if they are not yet aware exactly what they are searching for. To say that they are trying only to improve their economic or social situation would be to over simplify the issue. . . . It is true that not all migrants - even if they have a profound faith that, in migrating, God will be at their side - consider their journey as a movement towards God; i.e., a journey animated by faith. Nonetheless, it is precisely the people who do not yet know that they can discover God Who stretches out His hand to them, who may experience (and especially in countries of ancient Christian tradition) the genuine goodness of many ecclesial institutions who welcome and help them.
"It is, in fact, here in the immense context of migration," the president of the pontifical council added, "that the Church is called to show her maternal solicitude without distinction. In his message, the Holy Father identifies two channels for activity, which are not parallel but complementary. On the one hand is the more tangible element which, we could say, is more easily identifiable by the mass media and takes form in 'the creation of programs aimed at meeting emergencies.' . . . This is the most immediate form of attention. . . . The second element, more laborious and less 'media friendly' because it often requires a change of mentality, is: . . . supporting and accompanying the integration of migrants into their new socio-cultural surroundings."
Cardinal Veglio then went on to point out that the message for this World Day is being presented soon after the Pope's journey to Lebanon. "Thus," he said, "our gaze can turn specifically to the countries of the Middle East where the presence of Christian migrants, among believers of other religions, has a significant role in creating the very special identity of that region. . . . And this is true not only of the Middle East, but of the entire world. The phenomenon of migration obliges us to encounter different lifestyles and different cultures, stimulating the creation of new relationships."
"The Church plays an important role in the process of integration," the cardinal concluded. "She does this by accentuating the centrality and dignity of the person, emphasizing the protection of minorities and appreciation for their cultures; the contribution of migration to universal peace; the ecclesial and missionary dimension of migration, and the importance of dialogue and encounter within civil society, the ecclesial community and different confessions and religions. Moreover, in her efforts to resolve the human, social, and religious problems of emigration, the Church does not fail to give this increasingly significant phenomenon a distinctly humanist and Christian imprint."
Archbishop Kalathiparambil focused his remarks on the issue of refugees, highlighting the growing difficulties they face in seeking asylum. He made particular mention of the restrictive measures imposed by certain States "to hinder access to their territories," such as "the requirement of visas, sanctions applied to transporters, and lists of safe countries of origin. These measures," he said, "have encouraged the activities of smugglers and traffickers, and led to dangerous sea crossings during which far too many human lives have already been lost."
The archbishop went on: "All this comes about despite the international community's obligation to protect refugees and asylum seekers, out of respect for the Declaration and the spirit of human rights, refugees' rights, and international humanitarian law. Access to requesting asylum comes first and foremost; this also includes such primary needs as food, shelter, clothing, and medical assistance, but also the right to work and free movement. It cannot be over emphasized that asylum seekers find themselves having to travel beyond the frontiers of their own countries, and it is their right not to possess valid travel or identity documents."
“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.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com