"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 greets the crowd at World Youth Day. (Credit: InterMirifica.net)
Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City, July 28, 2013 (VIS) – Yesterday evening the Pope celebrated a prayer vigil with almost two million young people at Copacabana. The Liturgy of the Word began with various testimonies and questions posed to the Holy Father.
At the end the Pope addressed the young, recalling how the Lord asked St. Francis of Assisi to do "his part for the life of the Church. . . . being at the service of the Church, loving her and working to make the countenance of Christ shine ever more brightly in her. Today too, as always, the Lord needs you, young people, for His Church. Dear young people, the Lord needs this. Today too, He is calling each of you to follow Him in His Church and to be missionaries."
Due to bad weather, this vigil, which should have celebrated at the "Campus Fidei" in Guaratiba, was transferred to Copacabana. Francis encouraged the participants to consider this situation. "Perhaps the Lord wishes to tell us that the true field of faith, the true Campus Fidei, is not a geographical location, but rather, it is us?" he said. The Holy Father introduced three images of the field, to "help us understand better what it means to be a disciple and a missionary.
"First, a field is a place for sowing seeds." Here the Pope mentioned the parable of the "sower who went out to sow seeds in the field; some seed fell on the path, some on rocky ground, some among thorns, and could not grow; other seed fell on good soil and brought forth much fruit. Jesus Himself explains the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God sown in our hearts. Today, every day," said the Pope, "but especially today, Jesus sows. When we welcome the Word of God, then we become the Campus Fidei, the field of faith. Please, let Christ and His Word enter into your life, let the seed of the Word of God be sown, let it germinate, let it grow. God will do everything but you must let Him in, you must let Him work and grow.
"I think that we have to ask ourselves honestly: what kind of ground are we? Maybe sometimes we are like the path: we hear the Lord's word but it changes nothing in our lives because we let ourselves be numbed by all the superficial voices competing for our attention; or we are like the rocky ground: we receive Jesus with enthusiasm, but we falter and, faced with difficulties, we don't have the courage to swim against the tide; or we are like the thorny ground: negativity, negative feelings choke the Lord's word in us. Do I have two attitudes in my heart: with one I am happy with God, and with the other I am happy with the devil? One which receives the seed of Jesus and at the same time waters the weeds? What is born in my heart?
"But today I am sure that the seed is falling on good soil, that you want to be good soil, not part-time Christians, not 'starchy' and superficial, but real. Seek out a patch of good land and let the seeds fall there; you will see that they will bear good fruit. I know that you want to become good ground, good Christians, not part-time Christians, those who seem to be Christians but in reality are not. Be authentic Christians. I am sure that you don't want to be duped by a false freedom, always at the beck and call of momentary fashions and fads. I know that you are aiming high, at long-lasting decisions which will make your lives meaningful. In silence, we must welcome the seed of Jesus. Everyone knows the name of the seed that enters: let it grow, and God will take care of it.
"Jesus asks us to follow Him for life, he asks us to be His disciples, to 'play on His team.' I think that most of you love sports! . . . Now, what do players do when they are asked to join a team? They have to train, and to train a lot! The same is true of our lives as the Lord's disciples. . . . Jesus offers us something bigger than the World Cup! He offers us the possibility of a fulfilled and fruitful life; He also offers us a future with Him, an endless future, eternal life. But He asks us to buy a ticket to this future, and the ticket is training, 'getting in shape,' bearing witness to our faith. By talking with Him in prayer."
Francis asked the young people various questions, to which he asked them to respond in silence, in their hearts. "Do I pray?" he said. "Do I let the Holy Spirit speak to my heart? Do I ask Jesus what He wants me to do? This is training. Putting questions to Jesus, talking with Jesus. And if you make mistakes in life, if you do something wrong, do not be afraid. . . . Always talk to Jesus, in good times and bad. That is prayer. This is how we enter into dialogue with Jesus and as a missionary disciple. And by the sacraments, which make His life grow within us and conform us to Christ. By loving one another, learning to listen, to understand, to forgive, to be accepting, and to help others, everybody, without exclusion or ostracism. This is the training we have to do to follow Jesus: prayer, sacraments, and helping others, serving others."
World Youth Day 2013 (Credit: InterMirifica.net)
Finally, the Holy Father spoke about the field as a construction site. "When our heart is good soil which receives the word of God, when we 'build up a sweat' in trying to live as Christians, we experience something tremendous: we are never alone, we are part of a family of brothers and sisters, all journeying on the same path: we are part of the Church; indeed, we are building up the Church and we are making history. Please, don't become footnotes to history. Be agents of history, go out and build a better world."
Pope Francis remarked that "in the Church of Jesus, we ourselves are the living stones. Jesus is asking us to build up His Church; each one of us is a living stone, a little building block. Each living stone contributes to the unity and the security of the Church. But He does not want us to build a little chapel which holds only a small group of persons. He asks us to make His living Church so large that it can hold all of humanity, that it can be a home for everyone.
"Please," he continued, "do not leave it to others to be the agents of change. You hold the future . . . continue to work against apathy and offer a Christian response to the social and political problems that arise all over the world. I ask you to be builders of the future, to set to work for a better world. Dear young people, please, do not live your lives as observers, watching the world go by. Go into the fray, as Jesus did – He did not sit back and watch. But where do we start? Once, Mother Teresa was asked what should be the first thing to change in the Church, and she replied: 'You and I.' Today I too repeat the words of Mother Teresa and I say to you: you and I must be the first to change.
"Dear friends, never forget that you are the field of faith! You are Christ's athletes! You are called to build a more beautiful Church and a better world. Let us lift our gaze to Our Lady. Mary helps us to follow Jesus, she gives us the example by her own 'yes' to God: 'I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me as you say.' All together, let us join Mary in saying to God: let it be done to me as You say.' "
Following Pope Francis' address, the deacons brought the Holy Sacrament in procession. After the Eucharistic adoration and prayers of the young people in several languages, the recitation of the "Salve Regina" concluded the celebration.
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
Vatican City (VIS) – A communique was published July 11 by the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples to mark the occasion of the 2013 World Tourism Day. The full original text is given below:
"On September 27, we will celebrate World Tourism Day, following the theme suggested for this year by the World Tourism Organization: 'Tourism and water: protecting our common future.' This is in line with the 'International Year of Cooperation for Water,' that was proclaimed by the General Assembly of the United Nations, during the International Decade for Action 'Water, source of life' (2005-2015), in order to highlight 'that water is critical for sustainable development, especially for environmental integrity and eradication of poverty and hunger, it is essential for the health and well-being of human beings, and is fundamental to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.'
"The Holy See also wishes to join in this commemoration, bringing its contribution from its own perspective, aware of the importance of the phenomenon of tourism at the present time and the challenges and opportunities it provides to our mission of evangelization. This is one of the economic sectors with the largest and fastest growth in the world. We must not forget that last year it exceeded the milestone of one billion international tourists, to which we must add the even higher figures of local tourism.
"In the tourism sector, water is of crucial importance, an asset and a resource. It is an asset because people feel naturally drawn to it, and there are millions of tourists seeking to enjoy this natural element during their days off, by choosing as their holiday destination some ecosystems where water is the most specific element (wetlands, beaches, rivers, lakes, waterfalls, islands, glaciers, or snowfields, just to name a few), or trying to grasp its many benefits (especially in seaside resorts or spas). At the same time, water is also a resource for the tourism industry and it is essential, among other things, to hotels, restaurants, and leisure activities.
"Looking at the future, tourism will be a real benefit if it will be able to manage these resources according to the criteria of the 'green economy,' an economy whose environmental impact is kept within acceptable limits. We are invited, therefore, to promote ecotourism, environmentally friendly and sustainable, that can surely promote the creation of new jobs, support the local economy, and reduce poverty.
"There is no doubt that tourism plays a fundamental role in preserving the environment, by being one of its great ally, but also a fierce enemy. If, for instance, in order to achieve a quick and easy economic profit, the tourism industry is allowed to pollute a place, this location will cease to be a popular destination for tourists.
"We know that water, key to sustainable development, is an essential element for life. Without water there is no life. 'However, year after year the pressure on this resource increases. One out of three people live in a country with moderate to high-water shortages, and it is possible that by 2030 the shortage will affect almost half of the world's population, since its demand may exceed the supply by 40%.' According to UN data, about one billion people have no access to drinking water. And the challenges related to this issue will increase significantly in the coming years, mainly because it is poorly distributed, polluted, and wasted, or priority is given to certain incorrect or unjust uses, in addition to the consequences of climate change. Tourism also is often in competition with other sectors for the usage of water, and not infrequently it is noted that water is abundant and is wasted in tourism structures, while for the surrounding populations it is scarce.
"The sustainable management of this natural resource is a challenge for the social, economic, and environmental order, but especially because of the ethical nature, starting from the principle of the universal destination of the goods of the earth, which is a natural and original right, to which it must be submitted all the legislation relating to those goods. The Social Doctrine of the Church highlights the validity and application of this principle, with explicit references to water.
"Indeed, our commitment to preserving creation stems from recognizing it as God's gift to the whole human family, and from hearing the Creator's calling, Who invites us to preserve it, aware of being the stewards, not owners, of the gift He gives us.
"Concern for the environment is an important topic for Pope Francis, who has already made many references to it. In the very Mass of the inauguration of his Petrine ministry he invited us to be 'stewards of creation, of God's plan written in nature, the guardians of the other, of the environment; let us not allow,' he said 'that signs of destruction and death accompany our journey in this world,' recalling that 'everything is entrusted to the custody of man, and it is everyone's responsibility.'
"Stressing even more this calling, the Holy Father stated during a General Audience: 'Cultivating and preserving creation is a directive of God given not only at the beginning of history, but to each one of us; it is part of His plan; it means allowing the world to grow responsibly, transforming it to be a garden, a living place for all . . . Instead we are often driven by pride of domination, of possession, manipulation, exploitation; we do not 'preserve' it, do not respect it, do not consider it as a free gift to care for. We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation.'
"If we foster this attitude of listening, we can discover how water speaks to us also of his Creator and reminds us of his story of love for humanity. Regarding this, it is eloquent the prayer for the blessing of water, that the Roman liturgy uses both at the Easter Vigil and in the Ritual of baptism, where it is recalled that the Lord used this gift as a sign and remembrance of His goodness: Creation, the flood that puts an end to sin, the crossing of the Red Sea that delivers from slavery, the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the washing of the feet that turns into the precept of love, the water pouring out of the side of Christ Crucified, the command of the Risen Lord to make disciples and baptize them . . . are milestones in the history of Salvation, in which water takes on a high symbolic value.
"Water speaks of life, purification, regeneration, and transcendence. In the liturgy, water manifests the life of God shared with us in Christ. Jesus Himself presents Himself as the One Who quenches our thirst, from Whose breast rivers of living water shall flow, and in His dialogue with the Samaritan woman He says: 'whoever drinks of the water that I will give will never thirst.' Thirst evokes the deepest yearnings of the human heart, his failures and his quest for authentic happiness beyond himself. And Christ is the One Who gives the water that quenches the thirst within, He is the source of rebirth, the bath that purifies. He is the source of living water.
"For this reason, it is necessary to reiterate that all those involved in the phenomenon of tourism have a big responsibility for water management, in order for this sector to be effectively a source of wealth at a social, ecological, cultural, and economic level. While we must work to fix the damage already done, we should also encourage its rational use and minimize the impact by promoting appropriate policies and providing effective ways, aiming at protecting our common future. Our attitude towards nature and the mismanagement of its resources cannot burden others as well as future generations.
"Therefore more determination from politicians and entrepreneurs is necessary, because, although all are aware of the challenges made by the issue of water, we are conscious that this willingness should be put into practice with binding, specific and verifiable commitments.
"This situation requires above all a change of mentality leading to adopt a different lifestyle marked by sobriety and self-discipline. We must ensure that tourists are aware and reflect on their responsibilities and the impact of their trip. They must be convinced that not everything is allowed, although they personally carry the economic burden. We need to educate and encourage the small gestures allowing us not to waste or pollute the water and, at the same time, help us appreciate even more its importance.
"We share the Holy Father's concern to take 'all the serious commitment to respect and preserve creation, to be responsible for every person, to oppose the culture of waste, to promote a culture of solidarity and encounter.' ..."
Fred H. Summe is Vice President of Northern Kentucky Right to Life, P.O. Box 1202, Covington, Kentucky 41012
The employer mandate of Obamacare, requiring all businesses with 50 or more employees to provide a full-time employee a government-approved hospitalization plan was to take effect on January 1, 2014. However, President Barack Obama has now declared he is postponing this for one year.
How convenient. This means this requirement of Obamacare would not go into effect until after the midterm elections of 2014.
Prior to the Obamacare time bomb exploding, Obama decided that he had the authority to ignore his own law by refusing to enforce it for one year. "This selective enforcement of laws has become an administration habit. . . . the Obama administration routinely suspends enforcement of or unilaterally rewrites via regulation the laws it dislikes. Now," the Wall Street Journal fumes, "it is doing it again on healthcare, without any consultation from, much less the approval of, Congress."
Also this summer, President Obama granted his final accommodation as to the mandate requiring all hospitalization plans to include coverage, at no extra charge, and with no co-payment, for contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs, regardless of whether the employer has any religious objections.
Now, "religious employers," but not employers who are religious, are "exempt" from the abortion-pill mandate, but the final rule requires self-insured religious organizations to hire third-party administrators to provide contraceptives, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs. So now religious organizations would not have to pay for these disservices, but must pay somebody else to provide them.
Same old, same old: instead of paying from your left pocket, you can now pay from your right pocket.
Obama, by what authority is unknown, also decided to postpone this abortion-pill mandate from August, 2013, to January 1, 2014.
In response to this 110-page abortion-pill regulation, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) stated that although the Conference is reviewing this new version of the mandate, ". . . our study has not discovered any new change that eliminates the need to continue defending our rights in Congress and the courts."
Dolan points out that there are two developments relative to insured plans and to self-insured plans.
For an insured plan, "The objectionable items will still be paid for by virtue of the fact that an employee belongs to the Catholic employer's plan."
As to self-insured plans, Obama's final rule "treats the employer's very act of objecting to the coverage of sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients as the legal authorization for a third-party administrator to secure the objectionable coverage."
Sr. Carol Keehan, CEO of the Catholic Health Association (CHA), issued a statement that: "HHS has now established an accommodation that will allow our ministries to continue offering health insurance plans for their employees as they have always done."
In contrast, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) is closer to the Catholic bishops' view than CHA. "The final rule still leaves many religious employers unprotected," said Leith Anderson, president of NAE. "The government should not compel any of its citizens to violate their consciences."
As pointed out by The Wanderer, Francis Cardinal George, OMI, then the president of the USCCB, said in 2010 that Sr. Keehan was "to blame" for Obamacare. CHA had thrown its enthusiastic support behind the law before it was passed, giving cover to Catholic legislators who might otherwise have been wary of going against the country's bishops.
In fact, pro-abortion news media and their Democratic allies repeatedly invoked Sr. Keehan's statements as "proof" that Obamacare is acceptable under Catholic teachings.
One also has to wonder why USCCB has not demanded that CHA remove the word "Catholic" from their name, and why Catholic hospitals, especially those whose board of directors is being controlled by the local ordinary, have not withdrawn from CHA, and publicly stated the reason to be that CHA supports hospitalization plans which pay for so-called services that are intrinsically evil.
Many pro-life groups also think that the push by many bishops for a federal government takeover of the healthcare industry is also to blame for this threat to religious freedom, which the bishops are now protesting. (The Pro-Life Office of the USCCB sadly stated that the conference "has not joined in efforts to repeal the law in its entirety, and we do not do so today.")
Some good news is that Hobby Lobby, the largest and only non-Catholic privately owned business to file a lawsuit against the HHS abortion-pill mandate, won a favorable decision from the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which ruled in a 5-3 decision that Hobby Lobby was entitled to a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of this mandate, pending their lawsuit.
The Court ruled: "Because the contraceptive-coverage requirement places substantial pressure on Hobby Lobby and Mardel [a Christian bookstore and educational supply company] to violate their sincere religious beliefs, their exercise of religion is substantially burdened."
The next day, the District Court did grant a temporary restraining order protecting these two companies from the massive financial penalties that would be imposed under Obamacare. Hobby Lobby would have been fined $1.3 million a day while their case was heard by the courts.
The Court noted that Hobby Lobby and Mardel "are entitled to bring claims under RFRA [Religious Freedom Restoration Act], have established a likelihood of success that their rights under this statute are substantially burdened by the contraceptive-coverage requirement, and have established an irreparable harm."
David Green, founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby, stated: "My family and I believe very strongly in our conviction that life begins at conception, and the emergency contraceptives that we would be forced to provide in our employee health plan under this mandate are contrary to that conviction."
Writing in Columbia, published by the Knights of Columbus, Archbishop William E. Lori first noted the quote on the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C., "God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever."
"The best way to defend religious liberty," teaches Lori, "is to practice one's faith. Religious liberty is under attack by an increasingly secular culture, in part because fewer people are going to church and participating in parish activities. …If 75 percent of Catholics went to Mass each week, I don't think religious freedom would be in such danger, at least in the United States."
Archbishop Charles Chaput
In April, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia told his audience:
"The worst enemies of religious freedom aren't 'out there' among the critics who hate Christ or the Gospel or the Church, or all three. The worst enemies are in here, with us – all of us, clergy, religious, and lay – when we live our faith with tepidness, cheap compromises, fear, routine, and hypocrisy. …
"I ask you to please pray for . . . the bishops of the United States – and the leaders of religious institutions across the country."
Judie Brown, President of American Life League, one of the nation's uncompromising pro-life organizations, which never fails to uphold Judeo-Christian principles, expounded upon Chaput's words: "…if Catholics fail to clean up their own healthcare houses and abide by Church teaching in every aspect, particularly those that impact respect for the dignity of the human being, then we deserve to live under the oppression of Obama and his cronies."
We have met the enemy, and the enemy is us.
The approved canonizations of the beloved Popes John XXIII?and John Paul II have been well publicized. Perhaps less well known, however, are the stories of the hundreds of saints Pope Francis has already canonized. He has already broken, almost doubled Pope Benedict XVI's canonization record.
In his book Their First Two Thousand Years, Ted Byfield retells the story of the Church, including the 800 men near Otranto, on Italy's "heel," who were told after a two-week siege to convert to Islam or die on August 14, 1480.
A tailor named Antonio Primaldi is said to have responded, "Now it is time for us to fight to save our souls for the Lord. And since he died on the cross for us, it is fitting that we should die for him."
His companions cheered. They were all led to the Hill of Minerva, later renamed the Hill of Martyrs. Primaldi was the first to be beheaded, but his headless body stood, "remaining stubbornly and astonishing upright on its feet. Not until all had been decapitated could the aghast executioners force Primaldi's corpse to lie prone." An Ottoman officer named Bersabei who witnessed their courageous faith and this miracle is said to have converted on the spot and been impaled for doing so. Thousands of others of the townspeople were sold into slavery.
St. Francis of Paula who had prophesied the capture of the city, however, had also prophesied its recapture. That happened the next year, after the sudden death of Sultan Mehmet "the Conqueror" under King Ferdinand's son Alfonso of Aragon. Francis was found to be incorrupt in 1562 as were those of the Otrantines.
These men naturally became the patron saints of the city of and whole archdiocese of Otranto. They have been credited, by delaying the invasion for that crucial two weeks, with saving "the Eternal City" from a similar fate to Constantinople.
The miracle necessary for their formal canonization involved the Poor Clare Sister Francesca Levote. She suffered from a serious form of cancer but was healed after a pilgrimage to pray before the martyrs' relics in Otranto, a few months before Pope John Paul II's visit in October, 1980, on the occasion of their 500th anniversary.
At their canonization Pope Francis said, "As we venerate the martyrs of Otranto, let us ask God to sustain those many Christians who, in these times and in many parts of the world, right now, still suffer violence, and give them the courage and fidelity to respond to evil with good."
Pope Francis also canonized with them two contemporary women from Latin America. One was Laura of St. Catherine of Siena Montoya y Upegui (April 27, 1897 - June 24, 1963). She journeyed with five other women by horseback in 1914 into the forests of Columbia to be a teacher and spiritual guide to the indigenous people.
The other, Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala (May 26, 1874 - October 21, 1949), co-founded the Congregation of the Handmaids of St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and the Poor. They dedicated themselves to nursing the sick in Mexico, during the persecutions of the 1920s. Known as "Mother Lupita," she hid the Guadalajara archbishop in an eye clinic for more than a year.
Other Blesseds still in the process toward canonization under Pope Francis came from Brazil, Spain, Italy, Poland, and Switzerland. Men and women, clergy, religious, and laity, they lived in the 16th through 20th centuries.
Bl. Francisca de Paula de Jesus Isabel (1810 - June 14, 1895), also known as Nhá Chica of Baependi, was a laywoman of the diocese of Campanha, Brazil. She dedicated herself to the Blessed Mother when her own mother died when she was 10. Although she never learned to read or write, she was noted for her heroic virtue. She built a church next to her house that became the Sanctuary of Our Lady de Conceicao.
Bl. Cristóbal López de Valladolid Orea (July 7, 1683 - July 21, 1690), known as "Fr. Christopher," was a hermit, a priest, and a member of the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis. He founded the Congregation of the Franciscan Hospitallers of Jesus the Nazarene in Córdoba, Spain. He died while tending to cholera victims there and miracles soon followed.
Bl. Luca Passi (Jan. 22, 1789 - April 18, 1866) was a priest and founder of the Institute of the Teaching Sisters and the Pious Society of Saint Dorothy most successfully in Frassinetti and Venezia, Italy. The second Italian, Bl. Luigi Novaese ( July 29, 1914 - July 7, 1984), was the youngest of nine children and healed of tuberculosis at 17 by the prayers of Don Bosco and his boys. He dedicated the rest of his life to serving the sick and in 1962 Pope John XXIII appointed him to take care of religious assistance in hospitals in all Italy.
Bl. Odoardo Focherin (June 6, 1907 - December 12, 1944), the third blessed from Italy, was a father martyred for his association with Italian Catholic Action. He died at the Hersbruck concentration camp, Germany.
Bl. Zofia Czeska neé Maciejowska (1584 - April 4, 1650) became a childless widow at 23. In 1625 she founded the first school for girls in Poland and the teaching Congregation of the Virgins of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The second Polish blessed, Bl. Malgorzata Lucia Szewczyk (c. 1828 - June 5, 1905), was born in the Ukraine, but founded the Congregation of the Daughters of the Sorrowful Mother of God or Seraphic Sisters in Poland. It now has outposts also in France, Sweden, the United States, and Italy as well.
Bl. Nicoló?Rusca (April 20, 1956 - September 4, 1618) was a priest tortured and martyred in Thussis, Switzerland. A Vatican official responsible has also reported that for the sainthood cause of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador has been "unblocked" by Pope Francis.
(Editor's note: Mr. Smith writes from California. We welcome contributions from prisoners. We would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)
Someone once said in the middle of many problems, "I can see the light at the end of the tunnel."
For Christians surrounded by dark and terrible circumstances, Jesus is the Light. However dim or distant that light might seem at first. It will get brighter and closer until victory is won.
Jesus said that he is ". . . the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life" (John 8:12).
In sickness, pain, and suffering there is light. The burdens and sorrows of life cannot block out the light. David saw the light in the valley of the shadow of death. Even in the face of death there is always light.
Elijah saw the light when God told him to appear before Ahab and tell him that rain was coming to the dry land. Obeying the Lord, Elijah spoke: ". . . Get thee up, eat and drink; for there is a sound of abundance of rain" (1 Kings 18:41).
Although Elijah had seen the light, others did not immediately. Elijah's servant looked to the sky eight times before he saw the light as a cloud the size of a man's hand arising from the sea which would soon drench the earth. ". . . God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another and the blood of Jesus christ His son cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:5-7).
Has the darkness of the world stolen your victory? Are you moping around; giving up when you should be boldly holding your head high?
Do you suffer more losses than wins? . . . The solution is to walk in the light. Pray for a closer walk with Jesus. Fellowship with believers who can share their light and read God's word for the bright, healing, winning sunshine of the true light.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel and it is Jesus.
(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)
World Youth Day 2013 (Credit: InterMirifica.net)
Vatican City (VIS) – At 10:00 a.m. on July 29 the Pope celebrated Holy Mass for the 28th World Youth Day on the beach at Copacabana. The celebration was scheduled to take place at the "Campus Fidei" of Guaratiba, which holds up to two million people, but due to poor weather conditions it was held instead at the carioco beach. Three million pilgrims participated; a further million joined the two million young people who had spent the night on the beach after the Saturday's prayer vigil. The event was attended by 1,500 bishops and 15,000 priests, as well as the presidents of Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, and Suriname. The Eucharistic liturgy began with the official hymn of World Youth Day, sung by a choir made up of priests from all over Brazil, including those who evangelize through the medium of religious music. The songs for the Holy Mass were selected by means of a national competition in which young Brazilians participated with their own original compositions.
The Pope based his homily on the theme of the 28th World Youth Day: "Go and make disciples of all nations," and after reflecting on the excitement of these days, of living faith with people from all four corners of the world, he said that the moment had come to transmit this experience to others. "Three simple ideas," he said. "Go, do not be afraid, and serve."
To explain the meaning of the first, Pope Francis spoke to the young about the beauty of meeting Jesus in the company of others during these days, and sensing the joy of faith, but added, "the experience of this encounter must not remain locked up in your life or in the small group of your parish, your movement, or your community. That would be like withholding oxygen from a flame that was burning strongly. Faith is a flame that grows stronger the more it is shared . . . so that everyone may know . . . Jesus Christ, the Lord of life and history.
"Sharing the experience of faith . . . proclaiming the Gospel: this is a command that the Lord entrusts to the whole Church, and that includes you," he continued, "but it is a command that is born not from a desire for domination, from a desire for power, but from the force of love, from the fact that Jesus first came into our midst and gave us, not a part of Himself, but the whole of Himself, and He gave His life in order to save us and to show us the love and mercy of God. Jesus . . . accompanies us . . . in our mission of love.
"Where does Jesus send us? There are no borders, no limits: He sends us to everyone. The Gospel is for everyone, not just for some. It is not only for those who seem closer to us, more receptive, more welcoming. . . . Do not be afraid to go and to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. The Lord seeks all, He wants everyone to feel the warmth of His mercy and His love."
The Holy Father emphasized that he wished for Christ's command, "Go," to resonate in the young of the Church in Latin America, as "this continent has received the proclamation of the Gospel which has marked its history and borne much fruit. Now . . . the Church needs you, your enthusiasm, your creativity, and the joy that is so characteristic of you.
"Some people might think: 'I have no particular preparation, how can I go and proclaim the Gospel?' " he continued, turning to the second idea, "do not be afraid." He explained that their fear is not very different from that of Jeremiah, who was also young when he was called by God to be a prophet. "In today's reading he exclaims: 'Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.' God says the same thing to you as He said to Jeremiah: 'Be not afraid . . . for I am with you to deliver you.' He is with us! Jesus . . . never leaves anyone alone. . . . And then, Jesus did not say: "One of you go," but "All of you go": we are sent together. Dear young friends, be aware of the companionship of the whole Church and also the communion of the saints on this mission. When we face challenges together, then we are strong, we discover resources we did not know we had. Jesus did not call the Apostles to live in isolation. He called them to form a group, a community."
Finally, service, explained the Pope, means "allowing our life to be identified with that of Jesus, it is sharing His sentiments, His thoughts, His actions. And the life of Jesus is a life for others. It is a life of service . . . Evangelizing means bearing personal witness to the love of God, it is overcoming our selfishness, it is serving by bending down to wash the feet of our brethren, as Jesus did.
"Go, do not be afraid, and serve," he concluded. "If you follow these three ideas, you will experience that the one who evangelizes is evangelized, the one who transmits the joy of faith receives more joy. Dear young friends, as you return to your homes, do not be afraid to be generous with Christ, to bear witness to His Gospel. . . . Bringing the Gospel is bringing God's power to pluck up and break down evil and violence, to destroy and overthrow the barriers of selfishness, intolerance and hatred, so as to build a new world. Jesus Christ is counting on you! The Church is counting on you! The Pope is counting on you!"
The above widely quoted truism by Confucius is certainly applicable to the current abortion debate. A pro-life group, Created Equal, is focusing on using powerful technology to reach the masses, bypassing the major media, which blacks out the showing of the victims of abortion.
Its Jumbo-Tron plays graphic abortion videos, and is managed by dozens of young people holding graphic hand-held pro-life signs and mobile billboards displaying aborted babies. This public education project has been touring multiple major cities, and most recently appeared on Cincinnati's Fountain Square on July 13, 2013.
For more information, visit Created Equal's website: createdequal.net
Why is it that we do not shrink from showing the ghastly pictures of the victims of the Nazi Holocaust, but wish to keep proof of the current medical holocaust from public knowledge?
vatican city — On July 10, Pope Francis sent a message to Muslims throughout the world. The occasion was the end of the month of Ramadan, which Muslims dedicate to fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
The Pope said: "It is a tradition by now that, on this occasion, the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends you a message of good wishes, together with a proposed theme for common reflection. This year, the first of my Pontificate, I have decided to sign this traditional message myself and to send it to you, dear friends, as an expression of esteem and friendship for all Muslims, especially those who are religious leaders.
"As you all know, when the Cardinals elected me as Bishop of Rome and Universal Pastor of the Catholic Church, I chose the name of 'Francis,' a very famous saint who loved God and every human being deeply, to the point of being called 'universal brother.' He loved, helped, and served the needy, the sick, and the poor; he also cared greatly for creation.
"I am aware that family and social dimensions enjoy a particular prominence for Muslims during this period, and it is worth noting that there are certain parallels in each of these areas with Christian faith and practice.
"This year, the theme on which I would like to reflect with you and with all who will read this message is one that concerns both Muslims and Christians: Promoting Mutual Respect through Education.
"This year's theme is intended to underline the importance of education in the way we understand each other, built upon the foundation of mutual respect. 'Respect' means an attitude of kindness towards people for whom we have consideration and esteem. 'Mutual' means that this is not a one-way process, but something shared by both sides.
"What we are called to respect in each person is first of all his life, his physical integrity, his dignity, and the rights deriving from that dignity, his reputation, his property, his ethnic and cultural identity, his ideas, and his political choices. We are therefore called to think, speak, and write respectfully of the other, not only in his presence, but always and everywhere, avoiding unfair criticism or defamation. Families, schools, religious teaching, and all forms of media have a role to play in achieving this goal.
"Turning to mutual respect in interreligious relations, especially between Christians and Muslims, we are called to respect the religion of the other, its teachings, its symbols, its values. Particular respect is due to religious leaders and to places of worship. How painful are attacks on one or other of these!
"It is clear that, when we show respect for the religion of our neighbors or when we offer them our good wishes on the occasion of a religious celebration, we simply seek to share their joy, without making reference to the content of their religious convictions.
"Regarding the education of Muslim and Christian youth, we have to bring up our young people to think and speak respectfully of other religions and their followers, and to avoid ridiculing or denigrating their convictions and practices.
"We all know that mutual respect is fundamental in any human relationship, especially among people who profess religious belief. In this way, sincere and lasting friendship can grow.
"When I received the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See on March 22, 2013, I said: 'It is not possible to establish true links with God, while ignoring other people. Hence it is important to intensify dialogue among the various religions, and I am thinking particularly of dialogue with Islam. At the Mass marking the beginning of my ministry, I greatly appreciated the presence of so many civil and religious leaders from the Islamic world.' With these words, I wished to emphasize once more the great importance of dialogue and cooperation among believers, in particular Christians and Muslims, and the need for it to be enhanced.
"With these sentiments, I reiterate my hope that all Christians and Muslims may be true promoters of mutual respect and friendship, in particular through education.
"Finally, I send you my prayerful good wishes, that your lives may glorify the Almighty and give joy to those around you.
Happy Feast to you All!"
vatican city — On July 19, Pope Francis sent the following message to Cardinal Agostino Vallini, Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome.
"I am spiritually united with you, with the community of the Capuchin Friars, and with all those who are gathered in the Basilica of St. Lawrence Outside-the-Walls to commemorate the violent bombing on July 19, 1943, which caused severe damage to the sacred building and to the whole district, as well as to other areas of the City, sowing death and destruction. Seventy years later the commemoration of that particularly dramatic event serves as an opportunity to pray for all those who died, as well as for a renewed reflection on the terrible scourge of war, and likewise as an expression of gratitude to the one who was a caring and provident father.
"I am referring to Venerable Pope Pius XII. In those terrible hours he made himself close to his fellow-citizens, so severely hit. Pope Pacelli did not hesitate a moment before rushing to the still smoking rubble in the San Lorenzo neighborhood, with no escort, to bring help and comfort to the distressed people. On that occasion too he showed himself to be a caring Pastor among his flock, especially in the hour of trial, who was ready to share in the suffering of his people. Along with him, I would like to remember all those who in such a tragic moment, cooperated by offering moral and material help to soothe the wounds of body and soul, and by bringing help to the homeless. I would like to mention Msgr. Giovanni Battista Montini, the future Paul VI, then Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who accompanied Pius XII on his visit to the district which had just been laid waste by bombs.
"Pope Pacelli's action was a sign of the ceaseless efforts of the Holy See and of the Church through her various structures — parishes, religious institutes, residential colleges — to bring relief to the people. A great many bishops, priests, and men and women religious in Rome and throughout Italy resembled the Good Samaritan of the Gospel parable, bending over their suffering brother, to help him and bring him comfort and hope. This was a demonstration of charity that was extended to every human being in danger and in need of acceptance and support.
"May remembrance of the bombardment on that dramatic day make Pope Pius XII's words ring out: 'Nothing is lost with peace, everything can be lost with war' (Radio Message, August 24, 1939). Peace is a gift of God which today too must find hearts willing to receive it and to toil to be builders of reconciliation and peace.
"I entrust all the inhabitants of the San Lorenzo district, especially the elderly, the sick, and people who are lonely or in difficulty to the motherly intercession of Mary, Salus Populi Romani. May she, the Virgin of tenderness and consolation, strengthen faith, hope, and charity, in order to radiate God's love and mercy throughout the world. . ."
vatican city (VIS) —"Fraternity, the foundation and pathway to peace": this is the theme of the 47th World Day of Peace, the first during the pontificate of Pope Francis.
The World Day of Peace was an initiative of Pope Paul VI and it is celebrated on the first day of each year. The Message for the World Day of Peace is sent to particular churches and chancelleries all around the world, drawing attention to the essential value of peace and the need to work tirelessly in order to attain it.
As the theme of his first Message for the World Day of Peace, Pope Francis has chosen Fraternity. Since the beginning of his Petrine Ministry, the Pope has stressed the need to combat the "throwaway culture" and to promote instead a "culture of encounter," in order to build a more just and peaceful world.
Fraternity is a dowry that every man and every woman brings with himself or herself as a human being, as a child of the one Father. In the face of the many tragedies that afflict the family of nations - poverty, hunger, underdevelopment, conflicts, migrations, pollution, inequalities, injustice, organized crime, fundamentalisms - fraternity is the foundation and the pathway to peace.
The culture of personal well-being leads to a loss of the sense of responsibility and fraternal relationship. Others, rather than being "like us," appear more as antagonists or enemies and are often treated as objects. Not uncommonly, the poor and needy are regarded as a "burden," a hindrance to development. At most, they are considered as recipients of aid or compassionate assistance. They are not seen as brothers and sisters, called to share the gifts of creation, the goods of progress and culture, to be partakers at the same table of the fullness of life, to be protagonists of integral and inclusive development.
Fraternity, a gift and task that comes from God the Father, urges us to be in solidarity against inequality and poverty that undermine the social fabric, to take care of every person, especially the weakest and most defenseless, to love him or her as oneself, with the very heart of Jesus Christ.
In a world that is constantly growing more interdependent, the good of fraternity is one that we cannot do without. It serves to defeat the spread of the globalization of indifference to which Pope Francis has frequently referred. The globalization of indifference must give way to a globalization of fraternity.
Fraternity should leave its mark on every aspect of life, including the economy, finance, civil society, politics, research, development, public and cultural institutions.
At the start of his ministry, Pope Francis issues a message in continuity with that of his predecessors, which proposes to everyone the pathway of fraternity, in order to give the world a more human face.
(Source: Vatican Information Service)
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