"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 Francis has approved the causes for canonization of Blessed John Paul II (shown above) and Blessed John XXIII.|
(Editor's note: This article was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City (VIS) A press conference was held July 5 in the Holy See Press Office to present Pope Francis' first encyclical, "Lumen Fidei." The conference was presented by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Archbishops Gerhard Ludwig Muller and Rino Fisichella, respectively prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and president of the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization.
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller began the presentations, explaining that "'Lumen Fidei' is divided into four parts, which can be seen as four aspects of one whole."
"In the first part", he said, "we move from the faith of Abraham, the man who recognized in the voice of God 'a profound call which was always present at the core of his being,' to the faith of the People of Israel. The history of the faith of Israel, in its turn, is a continual passage from 'the temptation to unbelief' and the adoration of idols, 'works of the hands of man,' to the confession 'of God's mighty deeds and the progressive fulfilment of His promises.' This leads ultimately to the history of Jesus, a summary of salvation, in which all the diverse threads of the history of Israel are united and fulfilled. In Jesus we are able to say definitively that 'we know and believe the love that God has for us' because He is 'the complete manifestation of God's reliability.' "
Archbishop Muller continued, "In the second part, the encyclical forcefully raises the question of truth as one which is 'central to faith.' Because faith has to do with knowledge of reality it is intrinsically linked to truth: 'faith without truth does not save it remains a beautiful story or it is reduced to a lofty sentiment.' "
"Faith, which opens us to the love of God, transforms the way we see things 'because love itself brings enlightenment.' Love is authentic when it binds us to the truth and truth attracts us to itself with the force of love. 'This discovery of love as a source of knowledge, which is part of the primordial experience of every man and woman' is confirmed for us in the 'biblical understanding of faith' and is one of the most beautiful and important ideas emphasized in this encyclical." He explained, "Faith helps us to draw out the profound meaning of reality. In this way we can understand how faith is able to 'illuminate the questions of our own time about truth,' the great questions which arise in the human heart when faced either with the beauty of reality or by its dramas."
Archbishop Muller went on to highlight several key points of the encyclical, starting with "the origin of faith, which if it profoundly touches the believer, is an event which does not close the person in on himself in an isolated and isolating 'face-to-face' with God. Faith in fact 'is born of an encounter which takes place in history' and 'is passed on by contact from one person to another, just as one candle is lighted from another.' "
Secondly, he pointed out "a quotation from the Sermons of St. Leo the Great that is included in the third part of the encyclical: 'If the faith is not one, then it is not faith.' We live today in a world which, despite all its connectedness and globalization, is fragmented and divided into many 'worlds' that, even if in communication with one another, are often and intentionally isolated and in conflict. The unity of the faith is, therefore, the precious gift that the Holy Father and his fellow Bishops are called to foster, guarantee, and witness to, as the first fruits of a unity that wants to give itself as a gift to the whole world."
Finally, he referred to a passage from the fourth chapter of the encyclical: "While it is true that authentic faith fills one with joy and 'a desire to live life to the fullest' here we see concretely the connection between the teaching of Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI 'the light of faith does not make us forget the sufferings of the world.' Rather it opens us up to 'an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.' "
The encyclical, concluded Archbishop Muller, "wishes to restate in a new way the truth that faith in Jesus Christ is a good for humanity 'truly a good for everyone; a common good': 'Its light does not simply brighten ... the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope."
This was followed by a presentation by Cardinal Ouellet, who emphasized that the encyclical "speaks of faith like an experience of communion, of the enlargement of the 'I' and solidarity in the path the Church takes with Christ for the salvation of humanity. Objectively, the light of faith guides the meaning of life, brings comfort and consolation to unsettled or despondent hearts, but also commits believers to place themselves at the service of the common good of humanity through the announcement and authentic sharing of the grace of God. Subjectively, faith offers an opening to Christ's Love, a welcome, the opportunity to enter into a relationship that enlarges the 'I' to the dimensions of 'we' which is not merely human, within the Church, but also truly divine, and therefore an authentic participation in the 'we' of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."
"Starting from this trinitary 'we' that is extended to become an ecclesial 'we,' the encyclical naturally refers back to the 'we' of the family, the most privileged context for the transmission of faith. On the other hand the encyclical reminds us of the deep affinities between faith and the endless love a man and woman promise to each other when they unite in matrimony. The encyclical also offers a considerable contribution regarding the pertinence of faith to social life, that our cities may be constructed in justice and peace, with respect for every individual and his or her liberty, thanks to the contribution faith offers in the comfort of the suffering and the settlement of conflicts. The tendency to confine faith to the private sphere is calmly but decisively rejected here" and "many aspects developed previously in the encyclicals on charity and hope are complemented here by this depiction of faith as communion and service for the common good."
"Finally," the cardinal concluded, "the encyclical contemplates Mary, the ideal personification of faith, who heard the Word and cherished it within her heart, she who followed Jesus and let herself be transformed by Him."
The final presentation was given by Archbishop Fisichella, who returned to the words of the Holy Father. "'Those who believe, see.' This expression encapsulates the teaching of Pope Francis in this, his first encyclical. It is a text situated on the horizon created by the binomial 'light' and 'love.' It teaches a path the Pope proposes to the Church in order that she might recover her mission in today's world. Presenting faith, the encyclical invites us to return our attention to the basis of the Church and of every believer. This is the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God Who, through His death and resurrection, revealed to us the fullness and depth of His love. beginning from the assumption that faith is born of love, the knowledge of faith and the knowledge of love are linked as an inseparable pair in which love, however, assumes a role of undisputed primacy. The 'light of faith' is brought into the 'light of love.' "
Archbishop Fisichella commented that "Lumen Fidei" is published in the middle of the Year of Faith, and that it was signed on June 29, the feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, first witnesses to the faith of the Church of Rome, where Peter's Successor is called to confirm all brothers in the unity of faith. He stated that Benedict XVI was frequently asked to write an encyclical on faith, so as to conclude the triad he had begun with "Deus caritas est" on love, and "Spe salvi" on hope. "The Pope was not convinced that he was able to take on this further task," explained the archbishop. "Nonetheless, this insistence eventually prevailed, and Benedict XVI decided that he would write the encyclical to offer it at the end of the Year of Faith. However, history took a different turn and this encyclical is now offered to us today by Pope Francis ... as a 'program' for how to continue to live this Year of Faith which has seen the Church involved in many highly formative experiences."
He added, "It must be said without hesitation while 'Lumen Fidei' resumes some of the intuition and themes typical of the ministry of Benedict XVI, it is fully Pope Francesco's text. Here we encounter his style the immediacy of his expressions, the rich images he uses, and the peculiarity of his use of quotations from ancient and modern authors, make this text a true introduction to his teaching. For example, a close reading of these pages immediately reveals a strong recurrence of the three verbs that Pope Francesco used in his first homily to the Cardinals on the day following his election: proceed, build, confess. In a certain sense it may be said that this encyclical is structured on the basis of these three verbs and clarifies their meaning."
In "Lumen Fidei" the Pope does not forget this year's two key dates: the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and the twentieth anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "With regard to the first event, Pope Francis confirms that it was a 'Council on faith,' with the aim of placing at the center of the life of the Church the primacy of God and the need to restate this today, in different culture and societies, in a comprehensible and credible way. With regard to the Catechism, the encyclical reiterates its validity as a tool by which the Church carries out its task of transmitting faith with the living memory of the proclamation of Jesus Christ. It is also worth noting that in this context Pope Francis underlines the great value of the Profession of the Faith, the Creed which allows faith to be experienced as living and effective in the lives of those who believe, who frequently experience an unjustified illiteracy regarding matters of faith. In these pages, the profound value of the Creed is reiterated, not only to recall the synthesis of the faith but above all to make clear the necessary commitment to change one's life those who believe, in summary, are called to live responsibly in the world."
" 'Lumen Fidei,' " he concluded, is an encyclical with a strong pastoral connotation. Pope Francesco, with his pastor's sensibility, manages to translate many questions of a strictly theological character into themes that can assist in reflection and catechesis. No one should be afraid to look to great ideals and to pursue them. Faith and love are the first to be proposed. In a period of cultural weakness such as the present age, this invitation is a provocation and a challenge to which we cannot remain indifferent."
Pope Francis remembered Pope John XXIII when he greeted a pilgrimage from the diocese of Bergamo on June 3. His talk follows:
". . . Exactly 50 years ago, at this very time, Blessed John XXIII departed this world. Those who, like myself, have reached a certain age have vivid memories of the emotion that spread everywhere in those days. St. Peter's Square had become an open-air shrine, welcoming by day and by night faithful of all ages and social backgrounds, fearful and praying for the Pope's health. The whole world had recognized Pope John as a pastor and father; a pastor because he was a father. What had made him one? How had he been able to reach the heart of people so different from each other and even many non-Christians? To answer this question we may refer to his episcopal motto, Oboedientia et Pax: obedience and peace. 'These words,' Mons. Roncalli noted on the eve of his episcopal ordination, 'in a certain way sum up my story and my life.' (Journal of a Soul, retreat in preparation for episcopal ordination, March 13-17, 1925). Obedience and peace.
"I would like to start with peace, because this is the most obvious aspect, the one that people perceived in Pope John: Angelo Roncalli was a man who could communicate peace; natural, serene, and cordial peace; a peace which, with his election to the Pontificate, was manifested to the whole world and was described as 'goodness.'
"It is so beautiful to find a priest, a good priest, filled with goodness. And this reminds me of something that St. Ignatius of Loyola said to the Jesuits but I am not advertising! when he was talking about the qualities a superior should have. And he said: he must have this and that... a long list of qualities. Lastly, however, he says this: 'and if he does not possess these virtues, he must at least have great goodness.' It is the essential. He is a father. A priest with goodness. This was undoubtedly a distinctive trait of his personality which enabled him to make firm friendships everywhere, as was particularly evident in his ministry as Papal Representative. He served in this capacity for almost three decades, frequently in touch with environments and worlds far removed from the Catholic universe in which he had been born and raised. In those very milieus he proved an effective weaver of relationships and a solid champion of unity, both in the ecclesiastical community and outside it. Moreover he was open to dialogue with the Christians of other Churches, with representatives of the Jewish and Muslim worlds and with many other people of good will.
"Indeed Pope John conveyed peace because his mind was profoundly at peace: he had let the Holy Spirit create peace within him. And this mind filled with peace was the result of long and challenging work on himself, abundant traces of which have been left in the Journal of a Soul. In it we can see Roncalli the seminarian, the priest, the bishop coming to grips with the gradual process of purification of the heart. We see him, day by day, taking pains to recognize and mortify the desires that stemmed from his own selfishness and to discern the inspirations of the Lord, letting himself be guided by wise spiritual directors and be inspired by teachers such as St. Francis de Sales and St. Charles Borromeo. In reading these writings we truly see a soul being formed under the action of the Holy Spirit Who works in His Church, in souls: it was the Spirit Himself Who, with these good inclinations, brought peace to Roncalli's soul.
"Here we come to the second and crucial word: 'obedience.' Although peacefulness was his external feature, Roncalli's inner disposition consisted of obedience. Obedience, in fact, was his means for attaining peace. First of all it had a very simple and practical meaning: carrying out in the Church the service that his superiors asked of him, seeking nothing for himself, not shrinking from anything requested of him, even when it meant leaving his homeland to face worlds unknown to him and staying long years in places where Catholics were few and far between. It was his willingness to be led like a child that forged his career as a priest, with which you are well acquainted; secretary to Bishop Radini Tedeschi and at the same time teacher and spiritual director at the diocesan seminary; Papal Representative in Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece, and in France; Pastor of the Venetian Church, and, finally, Bishop of Rome. Yet through this obedience, Roncalli as a priest and as a bishop also lived a deeper faithfulness, which we could describe, as he might have said, as abandonment to Divine Providence. He constantly recognized in faith that through living in this way, seemingly led by others and not by his own preferences or on the basis of his own spiritual sensibility, God was designing a project of His own. He was a man of governance, he was a leader. But he was a leader led by the Holy Spirit, out of obedience.
"The future Pope John experienced even more profoundly, through this daily abandonment to God's will, a purification that enabled him to be completely detached from himself and to adhere to Christ. It was in this manner that he let the holiness shine out which the Church was later to recognize officially. 'Whoever loses his life for My sake, he will save it,' Jesus says (Lk 9:24). This is the true source of Pope John's goodness, of the peace he disseminated throughout the world. It is here that the root of his holiness is found: in his evangelical obedience.
"This is a lesson for each one of us, but also for the Church of our time: if we let ourselves be led by the Holy Spirit, if we are able to mortify our selfishness to make room for the Lord's love and for His will, we will find peace, we will be builders of peace and will spread peace around us. Fifty years after his death the wise and fatherly guidance of Pope John, his love for the Church's Tradition and his awareness of the constant need for renewal, his prophetic intuition of the convocation of the Second Vatican Council, and his offering of his life for its success stand as milestones in the history of the Church in the 20th century; and as a bright beacon for the journey that lies ahead.
". . . You are rightly proud of the 'Good Pope,' a shining example of faith and virtue for entire generations of Christians in your land. Preserve his spirit, continue to deepen your knowledge in the study of his life and his writings, but above all, imitate his holiness. Let yourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. Do not be afraid of taking risks, just as he was not afraid. Docility to the Spirit, love for the Church and so on.... The Lord will do everything. May he continue from heaven lovingly to accompany your Church, which he loved so deeply in his life, and obtain for her from the Lord, the gift of numerous holy priests, of vocations to the religious and missionary life, as well as vocations to family life and to be committed lay people in the Church and in the world. Thank you for your visit to Pope John! I warmly bless you all . . ."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
"Planned Parenthood was investigated for illegal late-term abortions and failure to report child rape as required by law. Evidence obtained revealed that during a time the abortion provider performed hundreds of abortions on children 13 years of age and younger, Planned Parenthood only reported one case of child molestation," states former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who initiated the investigation against Planned Parenthood.
Last summer, the District Attorney, Steve Howe, announced that he was dismissing the 23 felony charges against Planned Parenthood because documents key to the prosecution were destroyed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in 2005, at the time the agency was managed by former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius. (As President Obama's appointee of the Department of Health and Human Services, Sebelius issued a mandate that all employers, through their hospitalization plans, pay for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. Threatened with substantial fines, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with other numerous churches, businesses, pro-life organizations, and charities, filed suits across the country to protect their religious liberty in not being forced to subsidize such intrinsic evils.)
The District Attorney stated that Sebelius' appointee, former Attorney General Stephen Six, destroyed other key evidence, knowing that the records were part of the criminal prosecution against Planned Parenthood, a strong political ally and supporter of Sebelius.
"This evidence was reviewed by independent district judges, who found probable cause to believe Planned Parenthood committed crimes. In fact, in every single instance the evidence was reviewed, probable cause was found. Yet now, none of these charges will ever reach open court," reports LifeNews.com.
Northern Kentucky Right to Life is indeed proud to invite Phill Kline to address the 40th Annual Celebration of Life scheduled for Sunday, September 15, 2013, at The Gardens of Park Hills, 1622 Dixie Highway, Park Hills, Kentucky (three miles south of Cincinnati) (I-75, Exit 189; turn west onto Kyles Lane to Dixie Hwy. [US 25]; turn north onto Dixie Hwy. for 0.4 miles [on left, next to Covington Catholic High School]).
The doors will open at 1:15 p.m., followed by the showing of a pro-life film at 1:30 p.m. Refreshments and exhibits will be available at 2:00 p.m. with the program commencing at 2:30 p.m. (Free babysitting is provided.)
Tickets ($10.00) and additional information can be obtained from Stan Barczak, Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington 41012. (859-431-6380). (Tickets can be obtained in advance or at the door.)
This former Attorney General of Kansas is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Liberty University School of Law in Lynchburg, Virginia, and also serves as Director of The Amistad Journey for the Life Issues Institute of Cincinnati. Mr. Kline was named by Planned Parenthood as one of the 15 "domestic terrorists," along with James Dobson, Fr. Frank Pavone, and U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. This former Chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association was recognized as the Prosecutor of the Year by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
For additional information about Phill Kline, go to his website: standwithtruth.com.
Now pending before the Kansas Supreme Court is the law license and career of Phill Kline. In November, 2012, ethics violations were filed against him by the attorney who represented the abortionist who was the object of Kline's investigation.
"Kline's investigation was marred by repeated obstructive efforts on the part of former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius' administration, whose goal was to discredit Kline, conceal incriminating evidence of crimes committed by the abortion clinics, and destroy his investigations," reports LifeNews.com.
"There remain two institutions still firmly in the grasp of the political climate created by Sebelius that worked to protect abortion clinics from accountability under the law at any cost. Those two institutions are the Disciplinary Administrator's office and the Kansas Supreme Court." (Unlike almost all other states, the Kansas Supreme Court justices are appointed by the governor for life, without need for any form of confirmation. Sebelius and her lieutenant governor have appointed five of the seven justices.)
"Two investigators working for the Disciplinary Administrator's office, which [was] prosecuting Kline, issued a report clearing Kline of wrongdoing and recommended that the case not proceed. The report was improperly suppressed by Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett for three years and only surfaced as Kline was about to face an ethics hearing," continued LifeNews.com. Two of the three disciplinary board members were campaign contributors to Kline's political opponents.
The Kansas Supreme Court rejected Friend of the Court briefs filed by two attorney groups on behalf of Kline, further raising questions as to whether the Court could hear this case fairly. An unprecedented five of the seven Supreme Court justices have recused themselves because of their biased history of involvement against Kline's investigations of the abortion industry.
"If ever there was a politically motivated case, this is it," said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation. "The entire case against Kline is evidence of deep political corruption that has protected the abortion criminals while brutally punishing those who attempt to hold the criminals accountable under the law."
However, time has proven what Kline's investigations had uncovered. LifeNews.com reports the following:
After the Court hearing, it became known that one of the staff attorneys of the Supreme Court, Sarah Peterson Herr, had tweeted-attacked Phill Kline, calling him a "douche bag" and indicating she had inside knowledge on how the judge would rule, predicting that Kline would be disbarred for "not less than seven years."
Staff attorneys heavily influence the court, since their duty includes "ascertaining facts from a record of legal pleadings and trial transcripts, researching applicable law, and providing comprehensive legal analysis from an objective viewpoint."
Kline's attorney, Tom Condit, demanded a full and independent investigation into the apparent political bias. Condit, a longtime pro-life Cincinnati attorney, is a past recipient of Northern Kentucky Right to Life's John Bauer award.
The Kansas Supreme Court spokesman, Ron Keefober, last December indicated to reporters that the Court would be seeking an independent investigation into bias.
"Despite this protracted whitewash, the fact remains that Planned Parenthood is now on the defensive around the nation due to their failure to report child sexual molestation, alleged financial fraud, and failure to comply with reasonable abortion restrictions and these facts were first investigated and revealed in Kansas. The truth in Kansas is clear for those who want to see it the destruction of documents, deceptive legal opinions, and acts of political cowardice cannot erase that truth.
"The truth also remains that no one has acted to ensure that the hundreds of child victims of sexual molestation taken to Kansas abortion clinics are safe. This remains the most shocking and sorrowful fact emerging from this story of corruption and cover-up," states Kline.
"As the keynote speaker for our statewide life banquet, Phill had everyone on the edge of their seats as we followed his story of determination and courage in the fight for life. He demonstrated that no matter the odds or the sacrifices demanded, when we are called to stand up for truth and justice we must never hold back. He never did!" states Michael Ciccocioppo, Executive Director of Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.
"The turtle can protect himself against a mild Spring shower by drawing his head into his shell. However, this defense is woefully inadequate against the awesome power of the gathering terrible tornado of the crushing of religious freedom by the HHS Mandate, the increase of euthanasia by healthcare rationing under Obamacare, etc. Face reality objectively. Come and learn from Phill Kline, the current victim of governmental persecution, how to develop promptly and courageously the essential tools necessary for survival, and for returning truth and morality to our Nation," states Robert C. Cetrulo, J.D., President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life.
Catholic Underground described "Crescendo" as "a short, period film that celebrates the incredible potential of every single human life." Dr. Ted Baehr of Movieguide called it "a beautiful, powerful, transformational short movie that reveals an important deeper truth." Hannah Welch at the International Movie Database (imdb.com) wrote, "Wonderful film, truly a masterpiece Was inspired by the acting. All those involved, kudos. Overall a great film. The adult actors were full of imagination and portrayed their characters with great skill and feeling. The child actors were joyful and inspiring to watch as they filled the screen with their sweet faces and awesome expressive portrayal of their characters. I would recommend seeing this when you are able as you will not be disappointed."
Based on her diary, it's the story of Maria Magdalena, pregnant by her abusive, alcoholic, and adulterous husband, a short story, told in just 15 minutes. She tries to take her own life, but doesn't and so changes the world. The child she did not kill along with herself they named Lodewijk, now known to the world as Ludwig van Beethoven.
The film has won more than 11 international awards, including the Rochester International Film Festival's Best of fest award. It has, however, been attracting more national attention in the politically-divided United States, because Pattie Mallette is its executive producer.
Mallette is better known as the author of Nowhere But Up: The Story of Justin Bieber's Mom. Justin attracted the same controversial attention when he told Rolling Stone, "I really don't believe in abortion . . . It's like killing a baby." In 2011, he donated proceeds from one of his songs to help save the Bethesda Center in Lonton, Ont., where his mother stayed while pregnant with him.
"I am involved with this project to tell my story and to encourage young women and to give them hope," Mallette explains, "not to make a controversial statement or to promote what I think other women should do."
"When I became pregnant," she says, "I knew for myself that I had to keep my baby and I want other women in the same situation to know that there is a place for them to go if they find themselves with nowhere to turn."
"I don't know where we would be without that [crisis pregnancy] center," Mallette says, adding, "I would hope that anyone, whether for or against abortion, would always want any young woman who may need a place to be cared for, loved, and helped, to have what she would need."
The other executive producer, Eduardo Verastegui, was the star in "Bella," produced by his own production company, Metanoia Films, and in "For Greater Glory."
The co-producer of the film, Jason Jones, was co-executive producer of "Bella." That film made $10 million at the box office and, more importantly, is credited with saving lives.
"Over 581 women chose life after seeing 'Bella,' " he notes, "and we know that 'Crescendo' will continue to inspire a global movement that transcends time and cultures to communicate the dignity and worth of the human being."
Jason is the founder of HERO (Human-Rights Education and Relief Organization), a non-profit for promoting human dignity outside of film. In 2009, despite the government's warning of unsafe travel, he visited Darfur distributing $2 million in food, medicine, and other aid.
As the president and founder of Movie to Movement, he headed the grassroots campaign for the political documentary "2016: Obama's America." Movie to Movement teamed up with Heartbeat International, the world's largest network of pregnancy help ministries, to raise money for local CPCs through private and public showings and the sale of DVDs at cpcmovie.com. For every DVD bought they will donate a copy to a Crisis Pregnancy Center.
Peggy Hartshom, Heartbeat International's president, says, "This film is riveting and its powerful and life affirming finale will stay in your heart. What a unique, enjoyable, and beautiful way to raise a much needed million dollars to save and change lives in our pregnancy help centers, clinics, and housing ministries!"
"This film serves our cause to defend life," explained Jones, whose personal story has propelled him to work in support of crisis pregnancy centers all over the world.
Jones' own story is that when he was 17, his pregnant girlfriend's father pressured her to have an abortion at 6 months. "Crescendo" is dedicated to Jessica Jones, their aborted baby, who would now have been 23 years old.
Miss USA 1996, Ali Ladry, played in both "Bella" and "Crescendo." More recently she gave birth to her and her husband Alejandro Monteverde's third child.
Casey Vroman of Students for Life of America saw the film at the Los Angeles Regional Leadership Summit. "I was so impressed with the way the team brought the injustice of our day to a time and place many of us are removed from. It left me feeling more passionate to fight the injustice than before."
Dr. Alveda King of Priests for Life said, " 'Crescendo' touches the heart and soul of life's bittersweet song with a powerful promise that if the notes are left in God's hand, He will create a masterpiece."
(Editor's note: Mr. McClure writes from Texas. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
I would like to share my conversion story. I am currently incarcerated in Texas and have been here over twenty-six years. With absolutely no doubt, I say I'm blessed. Here's why:
When I was arrested for murder I knew who God was and that He was supposed to forgive all sins. I was already mad at Him for letting my life get so terrible. This completed my breaking of all 10 of the Commandments. I just knew that God would send me to Hell where I belonged.
One day I challenged God. I prayed, "God, if You still have anything to do with me, You'll have to show me. I need a pair of tennies." I was barefooted when I was arrested. "If You want me, send me some tennies." That was the end of my prayer.
Three days later while I was in my solitary cell a priest steps in front of my door. He tells me his name is Father Albert and that he likes to run every morning. He says that he prays while he runs. "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner." He continued, "Three days ago while I was running, God told me to bring you tennis shoes." We talked for a few more minutes and he left.
Absolute proof, right? Not for me. I said another prayer. "God, if this isn't just a coincidence, send me some socks to go with these tennies." Well, three days later the guards come to my door and tell me I have a visitor. I was baffled because not only was it not visiting day, I had no visitors ever before. When I get to the visiting room and look through the little window, there is an elderly nun sitting there with a big smile. She tells me her name is Sister Roberta and that she has a rather strange story to tell me. She said that she sits vigil every morning and prays the Rosary. "Three days ago while praying, God told me to bring you some socks." We talked a little while and she went home.
I then had no doubt that God still loved me and wanted me. It took me some time to forgive myself and accept God's forgiveness but I did. That's why no matter how long I stay here I'll be blessed. God is with me.
I hope others will be encouraged by this story and know God is with them regardless of the situation or circumstances. May God's peace be with you.
On June 16, "Gospel of Life" Day was celebrated in a Mass in St. Peter's Square. Pope Francis' homily follows:
"This celebration has a very beautiful name: the Gospel of Life. In this Eucharist, in the Year of Faith, let us thank the Lord for the gift of life in all its forms, and at the same time let us proclaim the Gospel of Life.
"On the basis of the word of God which we have heard, I would like to offer you three simple points of meditation for our faith: first, the Bible reveals to us the Living God, the God Who is life and the source of life; second, Jesus Christ bestows life and the Holy Spirit maintains us in life; and third, following God's way leads to life, whereas following idols leads to death.
1. The first reading, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, speaks to us of life and death. King David wants to hide the act of adultery which he committed with the wife of Uriah the Hittite, a soldier in his army. To do so, he gives the order that Uriah be placed on the front lines and so be killed in battle. The Bible shows us the human drama in all its reality: good and evil, passion, sin, and its consequences. Whenever we want to assert ourselves, when we become wrapped up in our own selfishness and put ourselves in the place of God, we end up spawning death. King David's adultery is one example of this. Selfishness leads to lies, as we attempt to deceive ourselves and those around us. But God cannot be deceived. We heard how the prophet says to David: 'Why have you done evil in the Lord's sight?' (cf. 2 Sam 12:9). The King is forced to face his deeds of death; what he has done is truly a deed of death, not life! He recognizes what he has done and he begs forgiveness: 'I have sinned against the Lord!' (v. 13). The God of mercy, Who desires life and always forgives us, now forgives David and restores him to life. The prophet tells him: 'The Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.'
"What is the image we have of God? Perhaps He appears to us as a severe judge, as someone who curtails our freedom and the way we live our lives. But the Scriptures everywhere tell us that God is the Living One, the one who bestows life and points the way to fullness of life. I think of the beginning of the Book of Genesis: God fashions man out of the dust of the earth; He breathes in His nostrils the breath of life, and man becomes a living being (cf. 2:7). God is the source of life; thanks to His breath, man has life. God's breath sustains the entire journey of our life on earth. I also think of the calling of Moses, where the Lord says that He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of the living. When He sends Moses to Pharaoh to set His people free, He reveals His name: 'I am who I am,' the God Who enters into our history, sets us free from slavery and death, and brings life to His people because He is the Living One. I also think of the gift of the Ten Commandments: a path God points out to us towards a life which is truly free and fulfilling. The commandments are not a litany of prohibitions you must not do this, you must not do that, you must not do the other; on the contrary, they are a great 'Yes!': a yes to God, to Love, to life. Dear friends, our lives are fulfilled in God alone, because only He is the Living One!
"2. Today's Gospel brings us another step forward. Jesus allows a woman who was a sinner to approach Him during a meal in the house of a Pharisee, scandalizing those present. Not only does He let the woman approach but He even forgives her sins, saying: 'Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little' (Lk 7:47). Jesus is the incarnation of the Living God, the one who brings life amid so many deeds of death, amid sin, selfishness, and self-absorption. Jesus accepts, loves, uplifts, encourages, forgives, restores the ability to walk, gives back life. Throughout the Gospels we see how Jesus by His words and actions brings the transforming life of God. This was the experience of the woman who anointed the feet of the Lord with ointment: she felt understood, loved, and she responded by a gesture of love: she let herself be touched by God's mercy, she obtained forgiveness, and she started a new life. God, the Living One, is merciful. Do you agree? Let's say it together: God, the Living One, is merciful! All together now: God, the Living One, is merciful. Once again: God, the Living One is merciful!
"This was also the experience of the Apostle Paul, as we heard in the second reading: 'The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me' (Gal 2:20). What is this life? It is God's own life. And who brings us this life? It is the Holy Spirit, the gift of the risen Christ. The Spirit leads us into the divine life as true children of God, as sons and daughters in the only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are we open to the Holy Spirit? Do we let ourselves be guided by Him? Christians are 'spiritual.' This does not mean that we are people who live 'in the clouds,' far removed from real life, as if it were some kind of mirage. No! The Christian is someone who thinks and acts in everyday life according to God's will, someone who allows his or her life to be guided and nourished by the Holy Spirit, to be a full life, a life worthy of true sons and daughters. And this entails realism and fruitfulness. Those who let themselves be led by the Holy Spirit are realists, they know how to survey and assess reality. They are also fruitful; their lives bring new life to birth all around them.
"3. God is the Living One, the Merciful One; Jesus brings us the life of God; the Holy Spirit gives and keeps us in our new life as true sons and daughters of God. But all too often, as we know from experience, people do not choose life, they do not accept the 'Gospel of Life' but let themselves be led by ideologies and ways of thinking that block life, that do not respect life, because they are dictated by selfishness, self-interest, profit, power, and pleasure, and not by love, by concern for the good of others. It is the eternal dream of wanting to build the city of man without God, without God's life and love a new Tower of Babel. It is the idea that rejecting God, the message of Christ, the Gospel of Life, will somehow lead to freedom, to complete human fulfilment. As a result, the Living God is replaced by fleeting human idols which offer the intoxication of a flash of freedom, but in the end bring new forms of slavery and death. The wisdom of the Psalmist says: 'The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes' (Ps 19:8). Let us always remember: the Lord is the Living One, He is merciful. The Lord is the Living One, He is merciful.
". . . Let us look to God as the God of Life, let us look to His law, to the Gospel message, as the way to freedom and life. The Living God sets us free! Let us say 'Yes' to love and not selfishness. Let us say 'Yes' to life and not death. Let us say 'Yes' to freedom and not enslavement to the many idols of our time. In a word, let us say 'Yes' to the God Who is love, life, and freedom, and Who never disappoints (cf. 1 Jn 4:8; Jn 11:2; Jn 8:32); let us say 'Yes' to the God Who is the Living One and the Merciful One. Only faith in the Living God saves us: in the God Who in Jesus Christ has given us His own life by the gift of the Holy Spirit and has made it possible to live as true sons and daughters of God through His mercy. This faith brings us freedom and happiness. Let us ask Mary, Mother of Life, to help us receive and bear constant witness to the 'Gospel of Life.' Amen."
Immediately after the Mass, at the Angelus, Pope Francis said:
". . . I am pleased to recall that yesterday Odardo Focherini, husband and father of seven children, a journalist, was beatified in Carpi. Arrested and incarcerated in hatred of his Catholic faith, he died in the concentration camp of Hersbruck in 1944 at the age of 37. He saved many Jews from Nazi persecution. Together with the Church in Carpi, let us give thanks to God for this witness to the Gospel of Life!
"I warmly thank all of you who have come from Rome and from many parts of Italy and of the world, especially the families and those who are more directly involved in the promotion and protection of life."
The Pope concluded:
"Let us turn now to Our Lady, entrusting all human life, especially the most fragile, helpless, and threatened, to her motherly protection."
On June 9, at the Angelus, Pope Francis compared the compassion of Jesus to a mother's love. His remarks follow:
"Good morning! The month of June is traditionally dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the greatest human expression of divine love. In fact last Friday we celebrated the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and this feast sets the tone for the entire month. Popular piety highly values symbols, and the Heart of Jesus is the ultimate symbol of God's mercy. But it is not an imaginary symbol; it is a real symbol which represents the center, the source from which salvation flowed for all of humanity.
"In the Gospels we find various references to the Heart of Jesus. For example there is a passage in which Christ Himself says: 'Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart" (Mt 11:28-29). Then there is the key account of Christ's death according to John. Indeed this Evangelist bears witness to what he saw on Calvary, that is, when Jesus was already dead a soldier pierced His side with a spear and blood and water came out of the wound (cf. Jn 19:33-34). In that apparently coincidental sign John recognizes the fulfillment of the prophecies: from the Heart of Jesus, the Lamb sacrificed on the Cross, flow forgiveness and life for all people.
"The mercy of Jesus is not only an emotion; it is a force which gives life that raises man! Today's Gospel also tells us this in the episode of the widow of Nain (Lk 7:11-17). With His disciples, Jesus arrives in Nain, a village in Galilee, right at the moment when a funeral is taking place. A boy, the only son of a widow, is being carried for burial. Jesus immediately fixes His gaze on the crying mother. The Evangelist Luke says: 'And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her' (v. 13). This 'compassion' is God's love for man, it is mercy, thus the attitude of God in contact with human misery, with our destitution, our suffering, our anguish. The biblical term 'compassion' recalls a mother's womb. The mother in fact reacts in a way all her own in confronting the pain of her children. It is in this way, according to Scripture, that God loves us.
"What is the fruit of this love and mercy? It is life! Jesus says to the widow of Nain: 'Do not weep' and then He calls the dead boy and awakes him as if from sleep (cf. vv. 13-15). Let's think about this, it's beautiful: God's mercy gives life to man, it raises him from the dead. Let us not forget that the Lord always watches over us with mercy; He always watches over us with mercy. Let us not be afraid of approaching Him! He has a merciful heart! If we show Him our inner wounds, our inner sins, He will always forgive us. It is pure mercy. Let us go to Jesus!
"Let us turn to the Virgin Mary: her Immaculate Heart, a mother's heart, has fully shared in the 'compassion' of God, especially in the hour of the passion and death of Jesus. May Mary help us to be mild, humble, and merciful with our brothers."
Vatican City (VIS) . . . The Holy Father Francis received participants in the 86th Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Organizations for Aid to the Oriental Churches (ROACO) on June 20. This organization, under the sponsorship of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, is formed from various organizations around the world including: the Catholic Near East Welfare Association; Aid to the Church in Need; Renovabis; and Oeuvre d'Orient, which financially and spiritually assist members of the Church in the East.
Francis gave thanks to God for the "fidelity to Christ, the Gospel, and the Church that the Eastern Catholics have given proof of throughout the centuries, facing every struggle for the Christian name and 'keeping the faith.' Like my predecessors, I wish to encourage and support you in your exercise of charity, which is the only reason for Jesus' disciples to brag. This charity springs from God's love in Christ. The Cross is its vertex, the luminous sign of God's mercy and love for all, which has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. I ask you to accompany me in the task of uniting faith and charity, which is inherent to the Petrine ministry."
The Pope encouraged the members of ROACO to continue their labor of carrying out projects that give priority to formation, above all of the youth, without forgetting that such projects "should be a sign of God's profession of love that constitutes the Christian identity.
"The presence of the patriarchs of Alexandria of the Copts and of Babylon of the Chaldeans as well as of the papal representatives in the Holy Land and in Syria, the auxiliary bishop of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, and the Custos of the Holy Land carries me to the holy places of our Redemption but also revives in me a deep ecclesial concern for the plight of our many brothers and sisters who are living a seemingly endless situation of insecurity and violence, which doesn't spare the innocent or the weakest.
"We believers are asked to constantly and confidently pray that the Lord may grant the longed-for peace, together with a concrete solidarity and sharing. I would like to once again, from the bottom of my heart, appeal to the leaders of nations and international organizations, to believers of every religion, and to all men and women of good will to put an end to all the pain, all the violence, and all religious, cultural, and social discrimination. May the conflict that sows death leave space for the encounter and the reconciliation that bring life.
"To all those who are suffering I strongly say: 'Never lose hope! The Church is with you, accompanies you, and supports you!' I ask you to do everything possible to alleviate the serious needs of the affected populations, especially in Syria, the people of beloved Syria, and the ever more numerous refugees and displaced persons. ... I repeat to you: remember in your prayers the Church of Syria Jesus Christ will watch over it and your charity. I entrust the countless victims to the Lord of Life and implore the Most Holy Mother of God to console all of those in the 'time of great distress.' It is true; what's happening in Syria is a great distress!"
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City, (VIS) At 11:00 on June 20, in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic palace, the Holy Father Francis received the participants in the 38th Session of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The Pope began by speaking of the particular difficulty of the current worldwide situation caused not only by the economic crisis "but also due to problems associated with security, the great number of continuing conflicts, climate change, and the preservation of biological diversity. All these situations demand of FAO a renewed commitment to tackling the many problems of the agricultural sector and of all those living and working in rural areas."
The Pope noted that there are many possible initiatives and solutions and that they don't only have to do with increasing production seeing that current levels of production are sufficient, in spite of which "millions of people are still suffering and dying of starvation. This is truly scandalous. A way has to be found to enable everyone to benefit from the fruits of the earth ... to satisfy the demands of justice, fairness, and respect for every human being."
Francis repeated that the goal of meeting with the participants in the FAO conference was "to share the idea that something more can and must be done in order to provide a new stimulus to international activity on behalf of the poor, inspired by something more than mere goodwill or, worse, promises which all too often have not been kept." If current situations and living conditions aren't examined in terms of the human person and human dignity, the Pope said, then they run the risk of "risk turning into vague abstractions in the face of issues like the use of force, war, malnutrition, marginalization, the violation of basic liberties, and financial speculation, which presently affects the price of food, treating it like any other merchandise and overlooking its primary function."
The Holy Father declared that the present situation, "while directly linked to financial and economic factors, is also a consequence of a crisis of convictions and values, including those which are the basis of international life." He, therefore, asked the FAO, its member States, and the entire international community to open their hearts. "There is a need to move beyond indifference and a tendency to look the other way, and urgently to attend to immediate needs leaving behind the temptations of power, wealth, or self-interest and instead serving the human family, especially the needy and those suffering from hunger and malnutrition."
Likewise, the Pope mentioned that dedicating the coming year to the rural family was a very expressive decision that, beyond a mere commemoration, will be an occasion to "reaffirm the conviction that every family is the principal setting for the growth of each individual, since it is through the family that human beings become open to life and the natural need for relationships with others."
Pope Francis noted that "the Catholic Church, with all her structures and institutions, is at your side in this effort, which is aimed at building concrete solidarity, and the Holy See follows with interest and encourages the initiatives and activities undertaken by the FAO."
"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." (Ez 36:25-27)
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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