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My People

Vol. 27, Issue 1, January 2014

"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


January 22 marks the 41st anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision legalizing abortion. Each year pro-lifers observe this date by marching and praying for life. This file photo shows a march in Washington, D.C.

Pope Denounces Scandal Of Hunger

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)

Vatican City (VIS) – The Holy Father has recorded a video message for the world campaign against worldwide hunger, launched today (December 10) by Caritas Internationalis with the theme "One human family, food for all."

Caritas' campaign began with a "wave of prayer." Starting on the Pacific Island of Samoa, at midday local time, Caritas organizations at midday in each country take part in a prayer service to pray and reflect on the issue of hunger. A press conference was held at 10.30 this morning in the Basilica of St. Cecilia in Rome, with the participation of, among others, the general secretary of Caritas Internationalis Michael Roy, the director of Caritas Senegal Abbe Ambroise Tine, the director of the diocesan branch of Caritas in Rome, Msgr. Enrico Feroci, and Ferruccio Ferrante, of Caritas Italiana. The conference included the screening of Pope Francis' video message, the full text of which we publish below:

"Dear brothers and sisters,

Today, I am happy to announce to you the launch of a campaign against global hunger by our very own Caritas Internationalis and to tell you that I intend to give my full support. This confederation, together with its 164 member organizations works in 200 countries and territories around the world and its work is at the heart of the mission of the Church and of Her attention towards all those who suffer because of the scandal of hunger, those with whom the Lord identified when He said, "I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat."

When the Apostles said to Jesus that the people who had come to listen to His words were hungry, He invited them to go and look for food. Being poor themselves, all they found were five loaves and two fish. But with the grace of God, they managed to feed a multitude of people, even managing to collect what was left over and avoiding that it went to waste.

We are in front of a global scandal of around one billion – one billion people who still suffer from hunger today. We cannot look the other way and pretend this does not exist. The food available in the world is enough to feed everyone. The parable of the multiplication of the loaves and fish teaches us exactly this: that if there is the will, what we have never ends. On the contrary, it abounds and does not get wasted.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to make space in your heart for this emergency of respecting the God-given rights of everyone to have access to adequate food. We share what we have in Christian charity with those who face numerous obstacles to satisfy such a basic need. At the same time we promote an authentic cooperation with the poor so that through the fruits of their and our work they can live a dignified life.

I invite all of the institutions of the world, the Church, each of us, as one single human family, to give a voice to all of those who suffer silently from hunger, so that this voice becomes a roar which can shake the world.

This campaign is also an invitation to all of us to become more conscious in our food choices, which often lead to waste and a poor use of the resources available to us. It is also a reminder to stop thinking that our daily actions do not have an impact on the lives of those who suffer from hunger first-hand.

I ask you from the bottom of my heart to support our Caritas organizations in this noble campaign where they will act as one human family to ensure food for all.

Let us pray that the Lord gives us the grace to envisage a world in which no one must ever again die of hunger. And asking for this grace, I give you my blessing."

Rediscover Christian Joy

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)

“The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all men. It trains us to reject godless ways and worldly desires, and live temperately and devoutly in this age as we await our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of the great God and of our Savior Christ Jesus. It was He Who sacrificed Himself for us, to redeem us from all unrighteousness and to cleanse for Himself a people of His own, eager to do what is right” (Titus 2:11-14).


Happy Epiphany!

Vatican City (VIS) – This morning (November 26) in the Holy See Press Office a press conference was held to present Pope Francis' Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Gaudium" (The Joy of the Gospel), written following the Synod of Bishops on "New Evangelization for the Transmission of Faith", which took place from October 7 to 28, 2012, and convoked by his predecessor Benedict XVI. The text was presented by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, accompanied by Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops and Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli.

The exhortation, which is 222 pages long, is divided into five chapters and an introduction. The chapters are dedicated to the Church's missionary transformation, the crisis of communal commitment, the proclamation of the gospel, the social dimension of evangelization, and spirit-filled evangelizers.

We publish below the text presented by Archbishop Fisichella, preserving the numbers referring to the corresponding paragraphs in the exhortation:

"If we were to sum up Pope Francis's Evangelii Gaudium in a few words, we could say that it is an Apostolic Exhortation written around the theme of Christian joy in order that the Church may rediscover the original source of evangelization in the contemporary world. Pope Francis offers this document to the Church as a map and guide to her pastoral mission in the near future. It is an invitation to recover a prophetic and positive vision of reality without ignoring the current challenges. Pope Francis instills courage and urges us to look ahead despite the present crisis, making the cross and the resurrection of Christ once again our 'the victory banner' (85)."

The several references in Evangelii Gaudium to the Propositions of the October, 2012 Synod on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith are a testimony to the extent to which the last Synod has influenced the drafting of this Exhortation. This text, however, goes beyond the experience of the Synod. The Pope commits to paper not only his previous pastoral experience, but above all his call to seize the moment of grace in which the Church is living in order to embrace with faith, conviction, and enthusiasm a new phase in the journey of evangelization. Extending the teaching of the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi of Paul VI (1975), he emphasizes the centrality of the person of Jesus Christ, the first evangelizer, who today calls each and every one of us to participate with Him in the work of salvation (12). "The Church's missionary action is the paradigm for all of her endeavors" (15), affirms the Holy Father, so that it is necessary to seize this favorable moment in order to catch sight of and live out this "new stage" of evangelization (17). This missionary action is articulated in two themes which mark the basic outline of the Exhortation. On the one hand, Pope Francis addresses the particular Churches because, living in the first-person the challenges and opportunities characteristic of their cultural context, they are able to highlight aspects of the new evangelization which are peculiar to their countries. On the other hand, the Pope sets out a common denominator in order that the whole Church, and each individual evangelizer, may discover a common methodology born of the conviction that evangelization is always participatory, shared and never isolated. The following seven points, gathered together in the five chapters of the Exhortation, constitute the fundamental pillars of Pope Francis' vision of the new evangelization: the reform of the Church in a missionary key, the temptations of pastoral agents, the Church understood as the totality of the People of God which evangelizes, the homily and its preparation, the social inclusion of the poor, peace and social dialogue, and the spiritual motivations for the Church's missionary action. The cement which binds these themes together is concentrated in the merciful love of God which goes forth to meet every person in order to manifest the heart of his revelation: the life of every person acquires meaning in the encounter with Jesus Christ and in the joy of sharing this experience of love with others (8). The first chapter, therefore, proceeds in the light of the reform of the Church in a missionary key, called as she is to "go out" of herself in order to meet others. It is "the dynamic of exodus and the gift of going out of oneself, walking and sowing ever a new, always further and beyond" (21), that the Pope explains in these pages. The Church must make "this intimacy of Jesus, which is an itinerant intimacy", its own intimacy (23). The Pope, as we are already accustomed to, makes use of effective expressions and creates neologisms to grasp the nature of the Church's evangelizing action. First among these is the concept of "primerear", namely God preceding us in love and indicating to the Church the path to follow. The Church does not find herself in a dead-end, but is following in the very footsteps of Christ (cfr. 1 Peter 2,21). Thus the Church is certain of the path she must follow. She does not tread this path in fear since she knows that she is called "to go out in search of those who are far from her and arrive at the crossroads in order to invite those who are excluded. She is filled with an unlimited desire to offer mercy" (24). In order for this to occur, Pope Francis again stresses the need for "pastoral conversion" (25). This involves passing from a bureaucratic, static, and administrative vision of pastoral ministry to a perspective which is not only missionary but is in a permanent state of evangelization (25). In fact, alongside the structures which facilitate and sustain the Church's missionary activity there are, unfortunately, "ecclesial structures which can jeopardize the dynamism of evangelization" (26). The existence of stagnant and stale pastoral practices obliges us, therefore, to be boldly creative in order to rethink evangelization. In this sense, the Pope affirms that: "an identification of the goals without adequate research on the part of the community as to how to achieve them is doomed to end in mere fantasy" (33).

It is necessary, therefore, "to concentrate on what is essential" (35) and to know that only a systematic approach, i.e. one that is unitary, progressive, and proportional to the faith, can be of true assistance. This implies for the Church the capacity to bring out "the hierarchy of truths" and its proper reference to the heart of the Gospel (37-39), thereby avoiding the danger of presenting the faith only in the light of some moral questions as if these could stand apart from the centrality of love. If we lose sight of this perspective, "the moral edifice of the Church runs the risk of becoming a house of cards, and this is our biggest danger" (39). So there is a strong appeal from the Pope to find a healthy balance between the content of the faith and the language in which it is expressed. It may happen at times that the rigidity of linguistic precision can be to the detriment of content, thus compromising the genuine vision of the faith (41).

One of the central passages in this chapter is certainly paragraph 32 in which Pope Francis illustrates the urgency of bringing to fruition some of the perspectives of the Second Vatican Council, in particular the exercise of the Primacy of the Successor of Peter and of the role of Episcopal Conferences. John Paul II in Ut unum sint, had already requested assistance in order to better understand the obligations of the Pope in ecumenical dialogue. Now, Pope Francis continues in this request and sees that a more coherent form of assistance could be derived from the further development of the theoretical foundations of Episcopal Conferences. Another passage of particular intensity for its pastoral implications are paragraphs 38-45. The heart of the Gospel "is incarnate within the limits of the human language". As a consequence, doctrine is inserted into "the cage of language"—to use Wittgenstein's expression—which implies the necessity of a real discernment between the poverty and the limits of language, on the one hand, and the often yet to be discovered richness of the content of faith, on the other. The danger that the Church may at times fail to consider this dynamic is a real one, giving rise to an unjustified fortress mentality in relation to certain questions which risks rendering the Gospel message inflexible while at the same time losing sight of the dynamic proper to its development.

The second chapter is dedicated to recognizing the challenges of the contemporary world and to overcoming the easy temptations which undermine the New Evangelization. In the first place, the Pope affirms, we must recover our identity without those inferiority complexes which lead to "concealing our identity and convictions … and end up suffocating the joy of our mission as we become obsessed over becoming like everyone else possessing the things which they possess" (79). This makes Christians fall into "a kind of relativism which is more dangerous than the doctrinal one" (80), because it impinges directly on the lifestyle of believers. So it happens that many expressions of our pastoral activity suffer from a kind of weariness which derives from placing the accent on the initiatives themselves and not on the person. The Pope believes that the temptation of a "de-personalization of the person" in order to become better organized is both real and common. By the same token, the challenges in evangelization should be accepted more as a chance to grow and as not as a reason for falling into depression. There should be no talk, then, of a "sense of defeat" (85). It is essential that we recover interpersonal relationships to which we must accord a priority over the technology which seeks to govern relationships as with a remote control, deciding where, when, and for how long to meet others on the basis of one's own preferences (88). As well as the more usual and more diffuse challenges, however, we must be alive to those which impinge more directly on our lives: the sense of "daily uncertainty, with evil consequences", the various forms of "social disparity", the "fetishism of money and the dictatorship of a faceless economy", the "exasperation of consumption," and "unbridled consumerism"... In short, we find ourselves in the presence of a "globalization of indifference" and a "sneering contempt" towards ethics, accompanied by a constant attempt to marginalize every critical warning over the supremacy of the market which, with its "trickle down" creates the illusion of helping the poor (cfr nn. 52-64). If the Church today appears still highly credible in many countries of the world, even where it is a minority, its is because of her works of charity and solidarity (65).

In the evangelization of our time, therefore, and most especially in the face of the challenges of the great "urban cultures" (71), Christians are invited to flee from two phenomenawhich undermine its very nature and which Pope Francis defines as "worldliness" (93). First, the "charm of Gnosticism" which implies a faith closed in on itself, not least in its own doctrinal certainties, and which erects its own experience as the criterion of truth by which to judge others. Second, a "self-referential and Promethean Neo-Pelagianism" of those who maintain that the grace is only an accessory while progress is obtained only through personal commitment and force. All of this stands in contradiction to evangelization. It creates a type of "narcissistic elitism" which must be avoided (94). Who do we want to be, asks the Pope, "Generals of defeated troops" or "foot soldiers of a platoon which continues to fight?" The risk of a "worldly Church in spiritual or pastoral trappings" (96), is not hidden but real. It is vital, then, not to succumb to these temptations but to offer the testimony of communion (99). This testimony is reinforced by complementarity. Starting from this consideration, Pope Francis explains the necessity of the promotion of lay people and women, and the need to foster vocations and the priestly life. To look upon the Church in the light of the progress of these last decades demands that we subtract ourselves from a mentality of power and embrace a logic of service for the united construction of the Church (102-108).

Evangelization is the task of the entire People of God, without exception. It is not, nor could it be, reserved or delegated to any particular group. All baptized people are directly involved. Pope Francis explains, in the third chapter of the Exhortation, how evangelization may develop and the various stages which may indicate its progress. First, he is keen to underline the "the primacy of grace" which works tirelessly in the life of every evangelizer (112). Then the Pope develops the theme of the great role played by various cultures in the process of the inculturation of the Gospel, and which prevents a particular culture from falling into a "vainglorious sacralization of itself" (117). He then indicates the fundamental direction of the new evangelization in the interpersonal relationships (127-129) and in the testimony of life (121). He insists, furthermore, on rediscovering the value of popular piety as an expression of the genuine faith of many people who thereby give true testimony of their simple encounter with the love of God (122-126). Finally, the Pope invites theologians to study the mediations necessary in order to arrive at an appreciation of the various forms of evangelization (133), reflecting more at length on the homily as a privileged from of evangelization which requires an authentic passion and love for the Word of God and for the people to whom it is entrusted (135-158). The fourth chapter is given over to a reflection on the social dimension of evangelization. This is a theme which is dear to Pope Francis since, as he states, "If this dimension is not explained in the correct way, we run the risk of disfiguring the authentic and full meaning of the mission of evangelization" (176). This is the great theme of the link between the preaching of the Gospel and the promotion of human life in all of its expressions This promotion of every human being must be holistic and capable of avoiding the relegation of religion to the private sphere, with no incidence in social and public life. A "faith which is authentic always implies a profound desire to change the world" (183). Two great themes emerge in this section of the Exhortation: the "social inclusion of the poor" and "peace and social dialogue." The particular evangelical passion with which the Pope speaks about them is indicative of his conviction that they will decide the future of humanity.

As far as concerns the "social inclusion of the poor," with the New Evangelization the Church feels it is her mission "to contribute to the resolution of the instrumental causes of poverty and to promote the integral development of the poor," as well as undertaking "simple and daily gestures of solidarity in the face of the many concrete situations of need" which are constantly before our eyes (188). What emerges from these closely written pages is an invitation to recognize the "salvific force" which the poor possess and which must be brought to the center of the life of the Church with the New Evangelization (198). This implies that first of all, before any concrete experience, there be a rediscovery of the attention due to this theme together with its urgency and the need to promote its awareness. Moreover, the fundamental option for the poor which asks to be put into practice is, in the mind of Pope Francis, primarily a "religious and spiritual attention" which must take priority over all else (200). On these questions Pope Francis speaks with extreme frankness and clarity. The "Shepherd of a Church without borders" (210) cannot allow himself to look away. This is why the Pope demands that we consider the problems of migration and is equally strong in his denunciation of the new forms of slavery. "Where is the person that you are killing every day in his secret little factory, in networks of prostitution, in children used for professional begging, in those who must work in secret because they are irregular? Let us not pretend. All of us have some share of responsibility in these situations" (211). Also, the Pope is equally forceful in his defense of human life in its beginning and of the dignity of every human person (213). Concerning this latter aspect, the Pope announces four principles which serve as a common denominator for the promotion of peace and its concrete social application. Recalling, perhaps, his studies into Romano Guardini, Pope Francis seems to create a new polar opposition. He reminds us that "time is superior to space," "unity prevails over conflict," "reality is more important than ideas," and that "the whole is greater than its parts." These principles open up to the dimension of dialogue as the first contribution towards peace, a dimension which is extended in the Exhortation to the areas of science, ecumenism, and non-Christian religions.

The final chapter seeks to express the "spirit of the New Evangelization" (260). This is developed under the primacy of the action of the Holy Spirit which always and anew infuses the missionary impulse in the Church beginning with the life of prayer whose center is contemplation (264). In conclusion, the Virgin Mary, "Star of the New Evangelization" is presented as the icon of every authentic preaching and transmission of the Gospel which the Church is called to undertake in the coming decades with a strong enthusiasm and an unchanging love for the Lord Jesus.

"Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the joy of evangelization" (83). The language of this Apostolic Exhortation is clear, immediate, free from rhetoric and insinuations. Pope Francis goes to the heart of the problems which touch the lives of men and women of today and which demand of the Church more than a simple presence. The Church is asked to actively program a renewed pastoral practice which reflects her engagement in the New Evangelization. The Gospel must reach everyone, without exception. Some, however, are more privileged than others. Pope Francis leaves us in no doubt as to his position: "Not so much friends and rich neighbors, but above all the poor, the sick, those who are often ignored and forgotten … there must be no doubts or explanations which weaken the clarity of this message" (48).

As in other crucial moments of her history, it is with a sense of urgency that the Church prepares to engage in the New Evangelization in a spirit of adoration so as to behold once again, with a "contemplative gaze," the signs of the presence of God. The signs of the times are not only encouraging, but are serve as a criterion for effective witness (71). Pope Francis reminds us, first of all, of the central mystery of our faith: "Let us not run away from the resurrection of Jesus, let us not surrender, come what may" (3). He shows us a Church which is the companion of those who are our contemporaries in the seeking after God and in the desire to see Him.

Holmes Tackles Biblical Mysteries

by Michael Halm

Len Bailey's novel, Sherlock Holmes and the Needle's Eye is better explained by its subtitle, "The World's Greatest Detective Tackles the Bible's Ultimate Mysteries." It doesn't, of course, cover all of the Bible's mysteries, but it does come up with plausible solutions to ten of them. Presumably — or hopefully — there will be many more such mysteries coming.

Diane Lawrence pleads in her review, "Please write more in this genre." Pamela Jane Sutton comments, "The words 'riveting' and 'Bible study guide' have never been used in the same sentence, until now. This is a must read!"

Nancy Famolari wrote, "I enjoyed each one, although some, like "The Hanging Man," were particularly well done. The Biblical puzzles are all fascinating. The author has done a considerable amount of research and all his facts seem to be accurate."

Bob Hostetler puts it a bit less enthusiastically, and with different favorites, "As can be expected, some were more convincing than others and some were highly speculative — especially for the world's first and greatest consulting detective. My personal favorites were the chapters on the raising of Lazarus and the woman caught in adultery."

"Don't be fooled like me," Kenneth G. Campbell III warns. "These are mysteries, not contradictions. I thought this would be an apologetics book, but to my surprise Holmes and Watson get assigned to go back in time to find answers to interesting and helpful Bible questions."

Bailey, a history major from Trinity College, pits Holmes's hyperrationalism against Dr. Watson's simple faith, all the time using Biblical and historical references, both Victorian and Biblical. By the end the reader is perhaps a bit more convinced that the truth, and the Truth, can be reached via either. Mrs. Hudson, their landlady, even takes part in a couple of the adventures.

"In truth, Holmes and Watson are the halves of one man, any man, sliced down the middle into a head-half and a heart-half," Bailey explains. "Every person harbors rebellion toward God: we want to go our own way, to act in accordance with our wisdom and reasoning. But every person possesses a faith part, no matter how small: we want to believe that God (the real God) is a Father in Whose arms we find forgiveness and in Whose arms we can rest. This is the real beauty of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson: They represent every man."

Amber Godman says, "Having just read an original Sherlock Holmes, I picked up this new version with much skepticism. However, within the first few paragraphs I was not disappointed . . . I was intrigued by the author's use of very familiar stories from Sunday school and the nuances of mystery that they held."

After Holmes constructs a time machine from Moriarty's design, a mysterious client poses unsolved mysteries to solve using it. Sometimes it makes them mere observers of the past, other times they take an active role in the events. Why the machine behaves the way it does is an on-going mystery itself.

It is more than just a mystery novel or a series of mystery stories, however. Bailey also provides Investigative Study Questions to help the reader ponder these mysteries and connect them to their own lives. It is a Bible Study Guide like none other.

The Needle's Eye refers to the time machine that takes Holmes and Watson to Giloh in Judea to discover why Ahithophel hung himself. Finding out involves investigating both his and David's families, and quite a lot of political intrigue in 2 Samuel. This investigation uncovers envy, jealousy, revenge, lust, despair in the royal family.

They go back to answer the question of why young David chose five stones when confronting Goliath. Could it be his faith in the Lord was weak? Did it have to do with the sacred Penteuch? They wonder with the disciples why Jesus waited to visit the dying Lazarus.

The reader is invited to ponder "Why does God delay answering prayer? Why does He seem to always answer them in the most unexpected ways? Or is all history just 'co-incidence' and 'change?' "

Another mystery lies in what Jesus wrote in the sand when the woman caught in adultery was accused. They could not see for the crowd. Watson proposes that Jesus wrote the Pharisees' past sins, but Holmes disposes of the hypothesis. Watson, as usual however, does intentionally lead Holmes to the most logical solution by scrutinizing in Mark, John, and Philipians.

The investigation of Matthew 23:25, leads to unexpected discoveries about all of the prophets from Abel to Jesus Himself. Investigating the Temptation in the Desert, Holmes is led on the trail of the Devil himself. The quest is "just when was the 'more opportune time' for the last temptation? It proves not to involve Mary Magdalen.

They follow Paul in his travels to learn why he went where he did. They are confronted by the Romans more than once and by the London police as well. They reconcile Luke and Matthew's genealogies by tying it into a previous mystery. They sort out the confusing variety of Herods and find out why when Jesus was born when He was.' At the Battle of Jericho and again back in London, Mrs. Watson proves herself more that merely a good cook and a long-suffering landlady. She also adds much of the comic relief in a very tense situation.

This book may even encourage the reader to read some of the reference books Bailey lists. These include Thirty Days in the Land with Jesus by Charles H. Dyer, Matters and Customs in the Bible by Victor H. Matthews, and The Annotatd Sherlock Holmes by William S. Baring-Gould. It might even encourage someone as apparently irreligious as Sherlock Holmes to read the Bible.

Mary Lavers, for example, wrote, "I may not be a Christian, but the Sherlockian in me LOVED [her emphasis] it!"

Creative Silence

by Nita Reuter

(Editor's note: Mrs. Reuter writes from AR. We thank God for her. She is 86 years old and said these words of inspiration came to her during morning prayer.)

In Creative Silence
A rose blooms . . .
Stars shine . . .
The sun heats the waters of the lake . . .
Grass grows . . .
Trees bring forth life . . .
Lilies give forth their sweet aroma . . .
Honeysuckle flavors the air . . .
Fireflies flicker

Clouds form . . . in silence
Rainbows appear . . .
Butterflies flutter . . .
Wheat fields bow before the wind . . .
A fresh snow covers the hillside . . .
Seeds burst open . . .
Sprouts break the Earth's crust . . .
Blossoms turn to fruit . . . in silence
Fruit ripens . . .
Seeds are scattered . . .
The sun sets . . . and
Dawn appears . . .
Leaves change colors in the fall . . .
The moon shines across the waters of Galilee . . .
Flowers have no voice . . .
They only speak with their presence.
Nature speaks in silence!
A mountain is a moment of silent majesty!
An ocean is a movement of depth and wisdom.
It holds mystery in its deep waters.

Jesus was conceived in Mary's womb . . . In silence!
Jesus rose from the dead . . . In silence! Alleluia!
Jesus ascended into heaven . . . In silence!

God speaks in the sacred silence of our hearts!

Don't Be Deaf To Cry Of Poor

(Editor's note: This report was provided by Vatican Information Service.)

Vatican City (VIS) – December 8 was the first time that Pope Francis has paid the traditional homage to Mary Immaculate in Rome's Piazza di Spagna. During his journey by jeep from the Vatican to the center of Rome, the Holy Father was warmly received by Roman faithful and greeted the thousands of people gathered in the streets near the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See, opposite the statue of the Virgin, to which the Pope offers a floral wreath on the day of the Immaculate Conception.

As is traditional, the Pope stopped briefly in front of the Church of the Most Holy Trinity where he received the tribute from the Via Condotti Storeowners Association, and proceeded on foot to the Square, where he embraced several children and patients in wheelchairs, and shook hands with many people. After greeting Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the city of Rome, and Ignazio Marino, mayor of the capital, he recited the following prayer, composed specially for the occasion:

"Virgin most holy and immaculate,
to you, the honor of our people,
and the loving protector of our city,
do we turn with loving trust.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you there is no sin.
Awaken in all of us a renewed desire for holness:
May the splendor of truth shine forth in our words,
the song of charity resound in our works,
purity and chastity abide in our hearts and bodies,
and the full beauty of the Gospel be evident in our lives.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you the Word of God became flesh.

Help us always to heed the Lord's voice:
May we never be indifferent to the cry of the poor,
or untouched by the sufferings of the sick and those in need;
may we be sensitive to the loneliness of the elderly and the vulnerability of children,
and always love and cherish the life of every human being.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
In you is the fullness of joy born of life with God.
Help us never to forget the meaning of our earthly journey:
May the kindly light of faith illumine our days,
the comforting power of hope direct our steps,
the contagious warmth of love stir our hearts;
and may our gaze be fixed on God, in whom true joy is found.

You are all-beautiful, O Mary!
Hear our prayer, graciously hear our plea:

May the beauty of God's merciful love in Jesus abide in our hearts,
and may this divine beauty save us, our city and the entire world.

After the act of veneration, the Pope went on to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where, as announced during the Angelus, he prayed before the image of Mary "Salus populi romani," for all and especially for the inhabitants of the capital.

Light to the Nations: A Christian Perspective on World News

More Christians Persecuted Today

Vatican City (VIS) – At midday November 17 the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope commented on Jesus' discourse in Jerusalem about the end of time. Jesus exhorted the apostles not to be deceived by false messiahs and not to be paralysed by fear, but rather to live this moment of waiting in hope, as a time of witness and perseverance.

The Holy Father emphasized the relevance of these words even to us now in the twenty-first century. "It is a call to discernment," he said. "Even nowadays, in fact, there are false 'saviors' who seek to take Jesus' place: leaders of this world, gurus, holy men, people who want to attract hearts and minds, especially of young people. Jesus warns us: 'do not follow them.' And the Lord also helps us not to be afraid when faced with wars and revolutions, natural disasters, and epidemics: Jesus liberates us from fatalism and false apocalyptic visions. … He reminds us that we are entirely in God's hands! The adversity we encounter on account of our faith and our adhesion to the Gospel are opportunities for witness; they should not turn us away from the Lord but rather encourage us to abandon ourselves more fully to Him, to the strength of His Spirit and His grace."

"In this moment", he continued, unscripted, "let us think of the many Christian brothers and sisters who suffer persecution for their faith. There are many of them. Perhaps more than in the first centuries. Jesus is with them. Let us also be united with them by our prayer and our affection. Let us admire their courage and their witness. They are our brothers and sisters, who in many parts of the world suffer for being faithful to Jesus Christ. Let us extend our heartfelt and affectionate greetings to them."

Francis highlighted Jesus' promise to us as a guarantee of victory: "'Stand firm, and you will win life'. … This is a call to hope and patience, to know how to await the certain fruits of salvation, trusting in the deep meaning of life and history; the trials and difficulties form part of a greater design, and the Lord, the master of history, guides all to its fulfilment. Despite the disorder and catastrophes that afflict the world, God's plan of goodness and mercy will prevail."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

Young Have Special Role In Digital Age

Vatican City (VIS) - "To proclaim Christ in the digital era is a special field for the work of the young," since for them the internet is in a certain sense their natural home. It is a widespread, complex reality in continual evolution, and its development continues to pose the ever-valid question of the relationship between faith and culture."

Pope Francis commented that the theme, chosen by the Pontifical Council for the Laity in its plenary assembly – "Proclaiming Christ in the digital era" – was "a very current question" which however recalled the first centuries of Christianity in which "the Church wished to measure up to the extraordinary legacy of Greek culture."

"Faced with philosophies of great depth and an educational method of exceptional value, but infused with pagan elements, the Fathers did not shy away from comparison, nor did they compromise with any ideas contrary to their faith. Instead, they were able to recognize and assimilate the most elevated concepts, transforming them from within in the light of the Word of God. They implemented St. Paul's call to 'test everything, hold on to the good.' Also, among the opportunities and dangers of the internet, it is necessary to test everything, aware that we certainly find false currencies, dangerous illusions, and traps to be avoided. But, guided by the Holy Spirit, we will also discover valuable opportunities to lead mankind towards the luminous face of the Lord."

Among the possibilities offered by digital communication, the most important "regards the proclamation of the Gospel. It is certainly not enough to acquire technological skills, although these are important. It is above all about meeting real women and men, often harmed or lost, to offer them real reasons for hope. Proclamation requires authentic and direct human relations to flow into a personal encounter with the Lord. Therefore the internet is not enough, technology is not sufficient. This, however, does not mean that the presence of the Church on the web is useless; on the contrary, it is indispensable to be present, always in an evangelical style, in what has become for many people, especially the young, a sort of life environment, to reawaken the insuppressible questions the heart asks about the meaning of existence, and to indicate the way to He Who is the answer, the divine Mercy made flesh, the Lord Jesus."

Francis concluded by commenting that the Church forever walks a path "in the search of new ways to proclaim the Gospel. The contribution and the witness of lay faithful is shown every day to be indispensable."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

Christians "Suffer Gravely" In Middle East

Vatican City (VIS) - "The memorable Vatican Council II also had the merit of explicitly mentioning that in the ancient liturgies of the Oriental Churches, in their theology, spirituality and canonical discipline 'there remains conspicuous the tradition that has been handed down from the Apostles through the Fathers and that forms part of the divinely revealed and undivided heritage of the universal Church,' " said Pope Francis this morning (November 21), as he received in audience the patriarchs and major archbishops of the Oriental Churches, along with the cardinals, metropolitan archbishops, and bishops of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches. The Congregation, whose prefect is Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, is holding its plenary assembly in these days, on the theme of the magisterium of Vatican Council II with regard to the Christian East.

"From an evaluation of the path taken so far, guidelines will emerge intended to support the mission entrusted by the Council to our brothers and sisters in the East: that of 'promoting the unity of all Christians, especially Eastern Christians.' The Holy Spirit has guided them in this task on paths through history that have not always been easy, nurturing their faith in Christ, in the universal Church, and in Peter's Successor, even at great cost, not infrequently unto martyrdom. The entire Church is truly grateful to you for this!" exclaimed the Pope. Then, following the example of his predecessors, he reaffirmed that "within the ecclesiastical community, there exist legitimate particular Churches, with their own traditions, which however fully retain the primacy of the Chair of Peter, which presides over the universal communion of charity, protects the legitimate differences between them and ensures that the particularity of these Churches not only does not damage the unity of the whole, but instead serves it; the Council tells us that this variety is necessary for unity."

Pope Francis commented that the patriarchs and major archbishops had spoken to him this morning about the situation faced by the various Oriental Churches, in particular "the renewed vitality of those long oppressed under communist regimes, the missionary dynamism of those who refer to the preachings of the apostle Thomas, and the perseverance of those who live in the Middle East, not infrequently as a 'little flock' in environments riven by hostility and conflict, as well as hidden persecutions." A further problem is that of the diaspora, one of the key points of the plenary assembly, and which is growing in every continent. The Holy Father reiterated the importance of doing everything possible to facilitate "pastoral care both in the original territories and where the oriental communities are long established, favoring at the same time communion and brotherhood with communities of the Latin rite. To this effect, it would be useful to promote renewed vitality in existing entities of consultation between the single Churches and the Holy See."

"My thoughts turn especially to the blessed land where Christ lived, died, and rose again … and where the light of faith has not been extinguished, but instead burns brightly. It is the 'light of the East' that 'has illumined that universal Church, from the moment when a rising sun appeared above us: Jesus Christ, our Lord'. As a consequence, each Catholic has a debt of gratitude towards the Churches that live in the region. From these we may learn, among other things, the patience and perseverance of the daily exercise, at times wearisome, of the ecumenical spirit and interreligious dialogue. The geographical, historical, and cultural context in which they have lived for centuries has indeed made them natural interlocutors with numerous other Christian confessions and with other religions."

"Considerable worry is caused by the conditions of life faced by Christians who in many parts of the Middle East suffer gravely as a consequence of current tensions and conflicts. Tears often still flow in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and other areas in the Holy Land. The Bishop of Rome will not rest while there are still men and women, of any religion, whose dignity is undermined, who are deprived of the basic requirements for survival, robbed of their future, or forced to live as fugitives or refugees."

"Today, along with the pastors of the Oriental Churches, we make an appeal for the respect of the right to a dignified life and to freely profess one's own faith. We must not resign ourselves to thinking of a Middle East without Christians, who for two thousand years have proclaimed Christ's name, integrated as citizens to all effects in the social, cultural, and religious life of the nations to which they belong. The suffering of the youngest and the weakest, with the silence of victims, poses the insistent question, 'What is left of the night?' … I, therefore, turn to the entire Church to exhort her support in prayer, that may obtain reconciliation and peace from the merciful heart of God. Prayer disarms ignorance and generates dialogue where there is open conflict. If it is sincere and persistent, it will make our voice humble and firm, capable of being heard by the leaders of nations."

The Pope concluded by speaking about Jerusalem, "our spiritual birthplace. I hope for every consolation, so that it may truly be a prophesy of that definitive convocation, from east to west, promised by God."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

Edge to Edge

Pray The News

For The Spirit Of Jesus


In Our Society O Jesus, come back into our society, our family life, our souls, and reign there as our peaceful Sovereign. Enlighten with the splendor of faith and the charity of Your tender heart the souls of those who work for the good of the people, for Your poor. Impart to them Your own spirit, a spirit of discipline, order, and gentleness, preserving the flame of enthusiasm ever alight in their hearts . . . May that day come very soon, when we shall see You restored to the center of civic life, borne on the shoulders of Your joyful people.

Because we are sons and daughters of God, saved by Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit, we do not merely read the news but make the news. We direct the course of world events by faith expressed in action and intercession. Please pray for the stories covered in this paper. Clip out this intercessory list and make it part of your daily prayer.

  • We pray that we will rediscover Christian joy and bring Jesus to the whole world.
  • We pray that we will spread the message of God's love and mercy.
  • We pray for peace throughout the world and especially in the Middle East.
  • We pray that we will be instruments of God's peace.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, violence, war, and all attacks against life.
  • We pray for the victory of the civilization of love and life over the culture of death.
  • We pray for Christian unity.
  • We pray for Christians who are persecuted and are dying for their faith.
  • We pray that we will respond to the cry of the poor, suffering, sick, and marginalized.
  • We pray for an end to the scandal of global hunger and that we will share with others.

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