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My People

Vol. 30, Issue 9, September 2017

"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


Hear The Cry Of The Poor

The first World Day of the Poor will be held on Sunday, November 19. Pope Francis issued the message for this day on June 13, the memorial of St. Anthony of Padua. His message follows:

Let us love, not with words but with deeds.

"1. 'Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in deed and in truth' (1 Jn 3:18). These words of the Apostle John voice an imperative that no Christian may disregard. The seriousness with which the 'beloved disciple' hands down Jesus' command to our own day is made even clearer by the contrast between the empty words so frequently on our lips and the concrete deeds against which we are called to measure ourselves. Love has no alibi. Whenever we set out to love as Jesus loved, we have to take the Lord as our example; especially when it comes to loving the poor. The Son of God's way of loving is well-known, and John spells it out clearly. It stands on two pillars: God loved us first (cf. 1 Jn 4:10.19), and He loved us by giving completely of Himself, even to laying down His life (cf. 1 Jn 3:16).

"Such love cannot go unanswered. Even though offered unconditionally, asking nothing in return, it so sets hearts on fire that all who experience it are led to love back, despite their limitations and sins. Yet this can only happen if we welcome God's grace, His merciful charity, as fully as possible into our hearts, so that our will and even our emotions are drawn to love both God and neighbor. In this way, the mercy that wells up - as it were - from the heart of the Trinity can shape our lives and bring forth compassion and works of mercy for the benefit of our brothers and sisters in need.

"2. 'This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him" (Ps 34:6). The Church has always understood the importance of this cry. We possess an outstanding testimony to this in the very first pages of the Acts of the Apostles, where Peter asks that seven men, 'full of the Spirit and of wisdom' (6:3), be chosen for the ministry of caring for the poor. This is certainly one of the first signs of the entrance of the Christian community upon the world's stage: the service of the poor. The earliest community realized that being a disciple of Jesus meant demonstrating fraternity and solidarity, in obedience to the Master's proclamation that the poor are blessed and heirs to the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3).

" 'They sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need' (Acts 2:45). In these words, we see clearly expressed the lively concern of the first Christians. The evangelist Luke, who more than any other speaks of mercy, does not exaggerate when he describes the practice of sharing in the early community. On the contrary, his words are addressed to believers in every generation, and thus also to us, in order to sustain our own witness and to encourage our care for those most in need. The same message is conveyed with similar conviction by the Apostle James. In his Letter, he spares no words: 'Listen, my beloved brethren. Has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He has promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you, and drag you into court? ... What does it profit, my brethren, if a man says he has faith but has not works? Can his faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and in lack of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and filled," without giving them the things needed for the body; what does it profit? So faith by itself, if it has not works, is dead (2:5-6.14-17).'

"3. Yet there have been times when Christians have not fully heeded this appeal, and have assumed a worldly way of thinking. Yet the Holy Spirit has not failed to call them to keep their gaze fixed on what is essential. He has raised up men and women who, in a variety of ways, have devoted their lives to the service of the poor. Over these two thousand years, how many pages of history have been written by Christians who, in utter simplicity and humility, and with generous and creative charity, have served their poorest brothers and sisters!

"The most outstanding example is that of Francis of Assisi, followed by many other holy men and women over the centuries. He was not satisfied to embrace lepers and give them alms, but chose to go to Gubbio to stay with them. He saw this meeting as the turning point of his conversion: 'When I was in my sins, it seemed a thing too bitter to look on lepers, and the Lord Himself led me among them and I showed them mercy. And when I left them, what had seemed bitter to me was changed into sweetness of mind and body' (Text 1-3: FF 110). This testimony shows the transformative power of charity and the Christian way of life.

"We may think of the poor simply as the beneficiaries of our occasional volunteer work, or of impromptu acts of generosity that appease our conscience. However good and useful such acts may be for making us sensitive to people's needs and the injustices that are often their cause, they ought to lead to a true encounter with the poor and a sharing that becomes a way of life. Our prayer and our journey of discipleship and conversion find the confirmation of their evangelic authenticity in precisely such charity and sharing. This way of life gives rise to joy and peace of soul, because we touch with our own hands the flesh of Christ. If we truly wish to encounter Christ, we have to touch His body in the suffering bodies of the poor, as a response to the sacramental communion bestowed in the Eucharist. The Body of Christ, broken in the sacred liturgy, can be seen, through charity and sharing, in the faces and persons of the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. Saint John Chrysostom's admonition remains ever timely: 'If you want to honor the body of Christ, do not scorn it when it is naked; do not honor the Eucharistic Christ with silk vestments, and then, leaving the church, neglect the other Christ suffering from cold and nakedness' (Hom. in Matthaeum, 50.3: PG 58).

"We are called, then, to draw near to the poor, to encounter them, to meet their gaze, to embrace them, and to let them feel the warmth of love that breaks through their solitude. Their outstretched hand is also an invitation to step out of our certainties and comforts, and to acknowledge the value of poverty in itself.

"4. Let us never forget that, for Christ's disciples, poverty is above all a call to follow Jesus in His own poverty. It means walking behind Him and beside Him, a journey that leads to the beatitude of the Kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3; Lk 6:20). Poverty means having a humble heart that accepts our creaturely limitations and sinfulness and thus enables us to overcome the temptation to feel omnipotent and immortal. Poverty is an interior attitude that avoids looking upon money, career, and luxury as our goal in life and the condition for our happiness. Poverty instead creates the conditions for freely shouldering our personal and social responsibilities, despite our limitations, with trust in God's closeness and the support of His grace. Poverty, understood in this way, is the yardstick that allows us to judge how best to use material goods and to build relationships that are neither selfish nor possessive (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, Nos. 25-45).

"Let us, then, take as our example Saint Francis and his witness of authentic poverty. Precisely because he kept his gaze fixed on Christ, Francis was able to see and serve Him in the poor. If we want to help change history and promote real development, we need to hear the cry of the poor and commit ourselves to ending their marginalization. At the same time, I ask the poor in our cities and our communities not to lose the sense of evangelical poverty that is part of their daily life.

"5. We know how hard it is for our contemporary world to see poverty clearly for what it is. Yet in myriad ways poverty challenges us daily, in faces marked by suffering, marginalization, oppression, violence, torture and imprisonment, war, deprivation of freedom and dignity, ignorance and illiteracy, medical emergencies and shortage of work, trafficking and slavery, exile, extreme poverty, and forced migration. Poverty has the face of women, men, and children exploited by base interests, crushed by the machinations of power and money. What a bitter and endless list we would have to compile were we to add the poverty born of social injustice, moral degeneration, the greed of a chosen few, and generalized indifference!

"Tragically, in our own time, even as ostentatious wealth accumulates in the hands of the privileged few, often in connection with illegal activities and the appalling exploitation of human dignity, there is a scandalous growth of poverty in broad sectors of society throughout our world. Faced with this scenario, we cannot remain passive, much less resigned. There is a poverty that stifles the spirit of initiative of so many young people by keeping them from finding work. There is a poverty that dulls the sense of personal responsibility and leaves others to do the work while we go looking for favors. There is a poverty that poisons the wells of participation and allows little room for professionalism; in this way it demeans the merit of those who do work and are productive. To all these forms of poverty we must respond with a new vision of life and society.

"All the poor - as Blessed Paul VI loved to say - belong to the Church by 'evangelical right' (Address at the Opening of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, September 29, 1963), and require of us a fundamental option on their behalf. Blessed, therefore, are the open hands that embrace the poor and help them: they are hands that bring hope. Blessed are the hands that reach beyond every barrier of culture, religion, and nationality, and pour the balm of consolation over the wounds of humanity. Blessed are the open hands that ask nothing in exchange, with no 'ifs' or 'buts' or 'maybes': they are hands that call down God's blessing upon their brothers and sisters.

"6. At the conclusion of the Jubilee of Mercy, I wanted to offer the Church a World Day of the Poor, so that throughout the world Christian communities can become an ever greater sign of Christ's charity for the least and those most in need. To the World Days instituted by my Predecessors, which are already a tradition in the life of our communities, I wish to add this one, which adds to them an exquisitely evangelical fullness, that is, Jesus' preferential love for the poor.

"I invite the whole Church, and men and women of good will everywhere, to turn their gaze on this day to all those who stretch out their hands and plead for our help and solidarity. They are our brothers and sisters, created and loved by the one Heavenly Father. This Day is meant, above all, to encourage believers to react against a culture of discard and waste, and to embrace the culture of encounter. At the same time, everyone, independent of religious affiliation, is invited to openness and sharing with the poor through concrete signs of solidarity and fraternity. God created the heavens and the earth for all; yet sadly some have erected barriers, walls and fences, betraying the original gift meant for all humanity, with none excluded.

"7. It is my wish that, in the week preceding the World Day of the Poor, which falls this year on November 19, the Thirty-third Sunday of Ordinary Time, Christian communities will make every effort to create moments of encounter and friendship, solidarity and concrete assistance. They can invite the poor and volunteers to take part together in the Eucharist on this Sunday, in such a way that there be an even more authentic celebration of the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Universal King, on the following Sunday. The kingship of Christ is most evident on Golgotha, when the Innocent One, nailed to the cross, poor, naked, and stripped of everything, incarnates and reveals the fullness of God's love. Jesus' complete abandonment to the Father expresses his utter poverty and reveals the power of the Love that awakens him to new life on the day of the Resurrection.

"This Sunday, if there are poor people where we live who seek protection and assistance, let us draw close to them: it will be a favorable moment to encounter the God we seek. Following the teaching of Scripture (cf. Gen 18:3-5; Heb 13:2), let us welcome them as honored guests at our table; they can be teachers who help us live the faith more consistently. With their trust and readiness to receive help, they show us in a quiet and often joyful way, how essential it is to live simply and to abandon ourselves to God's providence.

"8. At the heart of all the many concrete initiatives carried out on this day should always be prayer. Let us not forget that the Our Father is the prayer of the poor. Our asking for bread expresses our entrustment to God for our basic needs in life. Everything that Jesus taught us in this prayer expresses and brings together the cry of all who suffer from life's uncertainties and the lack of what they need. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He answered in the words with which the poor speak to our one Father, in whom all acknowledge themselves as brothers and sisters. The Our Father is a prayer said in the plural: the bread for which we ask is 'ours,' and that entails sharing, participation, and joint responsibility. In this prayer, all of us recognize our need to overcome every form of selfishness, in order to enter into the joy of mutual acceptance.

"9. I ask my brother Bishops, and all priests and deacons who by their vocation have the mission of supporting the poor, together with all consecrated persons and all associations, movements, and volunteers everywhere, to help make this World Day of the Poor a tradition that concretely contributes to evangelization in today's world.

"This new World Day, therefore, should become a powerful appeal to our consciences as believers, allowing us to grow in the conviction that sharing with the poor enables us to understand the deepest truth of the Gospel. The poor are not a problem: they are a resource from which to draw as we strive to accept and practice in our lives the essence of the Gospel."

Tourism Can Assist Development

The Church has issued a message for World Tourism Day. The message was issued June 29 and signed by Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, Prefect of the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.

The message states:

" 'Sustainable Tourism - a tool for development'

"1. On the annual occasion of World Tourism Day, celebrated every September 27, 2017, the Church joins civil society in addressing this phenomenon, in the conviction that every genuinely human activity must find its place in the hearts of Christ's disciples[1].

"For the first time, this message is issued by the new Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development, as part of its mission.

"The United Nations General Assembly has proclaimed 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development. Opportunely, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has followed in the same vein by choosing Sustainable Tourism: a tool for development as the theme for this year's Day.

"2. When we say tourism, we are talking about a phenomenon of major importance, both in light of the number of people involved (travellers and workers) and for the many benefits that it can bring to society (economic, cultural, and social), but also given the risks and dangers that it can create in many areas.

"According to the World Tourism Organization's latest Barometer, for the year 2016, the number of international tourist arrivals is around 1.2 billion. Worldwide, the sector accounts for 10% of GDP and 7% of total exports, also considering that 1 out of 11 jobs are in tourism. It therefore occupies an important place in the economies of individual states and in policies that focus on inclusive development and environmental sustainability globally.

"3. Tourism can be an important tool for growth and the fight against poverty. Nevertheless, according to the Church's social doctrine, true development 'cannot be restricted to economic growth alone.' In fact, "'to be authentic, it must be well rounded;' that is, 'it must foster the development of each man and of the whole man,' as the Encyclical Populorum progressio[2] notes. In this regard, Paul VI stressed the need to promote a 'full-bodied humanism,' including the material and spiritual needs for the full development of each person in dignity[3]. Twenty years later, in 1987, the UN introduced the concept of sustainable development as a development that 'meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs[4].' For the Church, the concept of integrality, when connected to the expression human development, also includes the United Nations' idea of sustainability, and embraces all aspects of life: social, economic, political, cultural, and spiritual, making them elements in a single synthesis, the human person.

"The UNWTO has applied these ideas to promoting sustainable tourism[5]. This means that it must be responsible, and not destructive or detrimental to the environment nor to the socio-cultural context of the locality. Moreover, it must be particularly respectful of the population and their heritage, with a view to safeguarding personal dignity and labor rights, especially those of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people. Holiday time cannot be a pretext either for irresponsibility or for exploitation: in fact, it is a noble time in which everyone can add value to one's own life and that of others. Sustainable tourism is also a development tool for economies in difficulty if it becomes a vehicle of new opportunities and not a source of problems.

"In its 2017 Resolution, the United Nations recognizes 'the important role of sustainable tourism as a positive instrument towards the eradication of poverty, the protection of the environment, the improvement of quality of life and the economic empowerment of women and youth and its contribution to the three dimensions of sustainable development, especially in developing countries[6].' In this sense, three dimensions of sustainability are promoted: the ecological, aiming for the maintenance of ecosystems; the social, which develops in harmony with the host community; and the economic, which stimulates inclusive growth. In the context of Agenda 2030, this International Year is therefore an opportunity to encourage governments to adopt appropriate policies, the industry to embrace good practice, and to raise awareness among consumers and local people, highlighting how an integral conception of tourism can contribute to sustainable development.

"4. Conscious that 'in all her being and actions, the Church is called to promote the integral development of the human person in the light of the Gospel[7],' we Christians want to offer our contribution so that tourism can assist in the development of peoples, especially the most disadvantaged. We therefore propose our reflection. We recognize God as the creator of the universe and father of all human beings, and He who makes us brothers. We must put the human person as the focus of our attention; we recognize the dignity of each person and the relationships among persons; we must share the principle of the common destiny of the human family and the universal destination of earthly goods. The human being acts not as a master, but as a 'responsible steward[8].' In acknowledging each other as brothers, we will understand 'the principle of gratuitousness and the logic of gift[9]' and our duties of solidarity, justice, and universal charity[10].

"We now ask ourselves: how can these principles be practically applied to the development of tourism? What are the consequences for tourists, entrepreneurs, workers, governors, and local communities? It is an open reflection. We invite all those involved in the sector to engage in serious discernment and to promote practices towards attaining this, accompanying behaviors and lifestyle changes towards a new way of relating to each other.

"The Church is making its own contribution, launching initiatives that really place tourism in the service of the integral development of the person. This is why we talk about tourism with a human touch, which is based on projects of community tourism, cooperation, solidarity, and an appreciation of the great artistic heritage which is an authentic way of beauty[11].

"In his address to the United Nations, Pope Francis stated: 'The common home of all men and women must continue to rise on the foundations of a right understanding of universal fraternity and respect for the sacredness of every human life, of every man and every woman [...]. This common home of all men and women must also be built on the understanding of a certain sacredness of created nature[12].' May we live out our commitment in the light of these words and these intentions!"

[1] Council II, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, December 7, 1965, no. 1.

[2] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum progressio, March 26, 1967, no. 14.

[3] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum progressio, March 26, 1967, no. 42.

[4] World Commission On Environment and Development, Our Common Future (also known as the Brundtland Report), August 1987. This Commission was created by the UN General Assembly in 1983.

[5] World Tourism Organization, The Hague Declaration on Tourism, April 10-14, 1989, Principle III.

[6] United Nations Organization, Resolution A/RES/70/193 approved by the General Assembly on December 22, 2015.

[7] Pope Francis, Apostolic Letter Humanam progressionem in the form of a 'Motu Proprio,' with which the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development was established, August 17, 2016.

[8] Pope Francis, Encyclical Laudato si', May 24, 2015, no. 116.

[9] Pope Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, June 29, 2009, no. 36.

[10] Pope Paul VI, Encyclical Populorum progressio, March 26, 1967, no. 44.

[11] Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, November 24, 2013, no. 167.

[12] Pope Francis, Address to the members of the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, September 25, 2015.

Fellowship And Feast

by Leiann Spontaneo

Church potluck meals are when each church member brings a dish prepared at home. Then all gather at one place to fellowship and feast. Below are some potluck themes to inspire and even motivate you and your church.

- Sandwiches -

These can be as hard or as easy as you like. You can go to your local deli and grab a few loaves of bread and lunchmeats or look in cookbooks on on-line for something more elaborate.

- Comfort Food -

Who does not like a pasta, potato casserole, or whatever you like to prepare in the middle of winter to fill our bellys up to fill the void of no sunny days?

- Meatless Friday During Lent -

Usually fish dinners and fish sandwiches are a staple during Lent on Fridays. However, spaghetti with marinara, potato dishes, and other vegetarian meals may be prepared and eaten.

- Breakfast -

This theme may be either for early-after Sunday services or to have as a breakfast-for-dinner theme. Everything from eggs, sausage, pancakes, oatmeal, waffles, bagels, etc.

- Pick A Country -

Could you imagine the variety of food with this theme? Whether Italian, Chinese, Mexican, etc. you will definitely not run out of ideas or get bored.

Cooking Credit: Pixabay

- Baked Potato Bar -

Have crockpots filled with cooked russets wrapped in aluminum foil and have a bar fixed up with numerous toppings, such as butter, cheese, sour cream, spaghetti sauce, pepperoni, mushrooms, etc. Use your creativity.

- Crockpot Theme -

Again, endless options. Crockpot food is often comfort food, yet not limited to. Try a new recipe or contribute a favorite.

- Soup and/or Salad -

You could either have just soup or just salad or have both. There are so many versions of both.

- On A Budget -

Simply create something with ingredients you already have in your pantry or something you can create with inexpensive ingredients from a discount or dollar store.

- 3 Ingredients or 5 Ingredients -

As-simple-as that. See what recipe you can create with only 3 or 5 ingredients, depending on which your church selects. This could be really neat research if you do not know of any off-hand. It may even become a staple in your kitchen for when money is tight or need something quick to prepare.

While growing up, my church never had potluck dinners. I think people would really bond by having potluck diners throughout the year ... different themes on various occasions to get people involved and in the spirit of friendship and giving.

Vatican Astronomer Addresses Faith, Science

by Michael Halm

Br. Guy Consolmagno, S. J., the new director of the Vatican Observatory, says, "The hardest thing I have to deal with is trying to figure out where people are coming from when they don't see [science and religion] as a natural fit. Both science and religion are taking what we thought we knew and trying to understand it."

A native of Detroit, Consolmagno got his Ph. D. in astronomy at MIT before joining the Jesuits. Connecting the alleged conflict between astronomy and theology specifically, he explains, "It had nothing to do with Galileo. It had nothing to do with Giordano Bruno. It was a political invention to serve the secular interests of the [late 19th century].

He came to the answer himself only after teaching astronomy for the Peace Corps at the University of Nairobi and out in the field. As Christians he explains, "We believe in a God Who decided to create and the first thing He creates is light, so He's doing nothing hidden, nothing in the dark. God says everything He has created is good. He invites us, His creation, to enjoy it, and one way of enjoying it is learning how it works."

Consolmagno now practices "science evangelization," having appeared on "The Colbert Report," "On Being" with Krista Tippett at several science fiction conventions and in "A Brief History of the End of Everything" series for the BBC. He urges his audiences, especially Catholics, to cherish science as a part of their birthright, born out of the work of medieval clerics trying to understand both the Creator and His creation. He quotes Albert Einstein's observation, "The amazing thing about the universe is that it can be understood."

Many are surprised to learn that the Big Bang Theory came from a Belgian priest, who had to convince Einstein of the implications of his Relativity Theory. Consolmagno's specialty is meteors and asteroids. Asteroid 4597 is named for him and nicknamed "Little Guy" and he has received the Carl Sagan medal for outstanding communication by as astronomer to the general public.

His collection of dialogues with Fr. Paul Mueller, Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? was in response to the question posed by Pope Francis, "Imagine if a Martian showed up, all big ears and big nose like a child's drawing, and he asked to be baptized. How would you react?" It's subtitled "... and Other Questions from the Astronomers' In-box at the Vatican Observatory."

In it they answer other such questions as "How do you reconcile The Big Bang with Genesis?", "Was the Star of Bethlehem just a pious religious story or an actual description of astronomical events?", "What really went down between Galileo and the Catholic Church and why do the effects of that confrontation still reverberate to this day?", and "Will the Universe came to an end?"

"The fact that people kept asking such questions," Br. Guy says, "made me realize that there must be something serious and real behind them, if only I could put my finger on what that was. Maybe those questions had hidden assumptions that weren't quite right, but how could we tease out those assumptions?"

One of the strangest questions was when someone wanted to know if he was really in touch with aliens. When he told him he was not, he replied, "Ha! I knew you wouldn't tell me the truth!" What's sad are all the people like him who don't ask questions but who are sure they already know the answers. Unfortunately, the more certain they are, the more likely it's nonsense. Over the years, some people have e-mailed me offering long, detailed proofs that everything we know about religion is wrong, or everything we know about science is wrong. Others have sent me detailed descriptions of their own interactions with aliens. I really feel for those people; they are in need of the sort of help that no one can give them over the internet."

Ann Ferro commented "This is THE PERFECT stepping stone to a better understanding of my faith. Yes, the initial chapters that use references to quantum and traditional physics as if they were M & M's were a bit daunting, but I persisted and fell in love with the repartee and the elegant way in which the authors explained the relationship between science and religion." Robert G. Rich, Jr., wrote, "This small book by two Jesuit astronomers at the Vatican Observatory is a gem of a discussion on science and the Bible. It is hard to find such a responsible discussion of these issues in an accessible and entertaining package of modest length, but the two Jesuit authors have done it."

Consolmagno has also written The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican, God's Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion, Brother Astronomer: Adventure of a Vatican Scientist, Turn Left at Orion: A Hundred Night Sky Objects to See in a Small Telescope - and How to Find Them, and the audio book, Meaning: Exploring the Big Questions of the Cosmos with a Vatican Scientist.

Celebrate Baptism

Pope Francis addressed the importance of Baptism during his August 2 general audience. He urged the faithful to celebrate their baptismal day. The Pope said:

"... There was a time when churches were oriented toward the East. You entered the sacred building from a door at the west end and, walking along the nave, you moved eastward. It was an important symbol for old-world man, an allegory which, in the course of history, has gradually died out. We men and women of the modern epoch, much less accustomed to grasping the great signs of the cosmos, hardly ever notice details of this sort. The West is the cardinal point of the setting sun, where the light dies out. The East, however, is the place where the shadows are overcome by the first light of dawn and it reminds us of Christ, the Sun risen on high, at the world's horizon (cf. Lk 1:78).

"The ancient Rites of Baptism called for the catechumens to pronounce the first part of their profession of faith keeping their gaze turned to the West. And in that stance they were asked: 'Do you renounce Satan, his service and his works?' - And the future Christians repeated in chorus: 'I do!' Then they turned toward the apse, in the direction of the East, where the light is born, and the candidates for Baptism were again questioned: 'Do you believe in God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit?' And this time they responded: 'I do!'

"In modern times the appeal of this Rite has been partially lost: we have lost sensitivity to the language of the cosmos. Naturally there remains the profession of faith made according to the Baptismal interrogation, which is proper to the celebration of several sacraments. However its significance remains intact. What does it mean to be Christians? It means looking to the light, continuing to make the profession of faith in the light, even when the world is enveloped in darkness and shadows.

"Christians are not exempt from external and even internal shadows. They do not live outside of the world, however; by the grace of Christ received in Baptism they are 'oriented' men and women: they do not believe in darkness, but in the dim light of day; they do not succumb to the night, but hope in the dawn; they are not defeated by death, but yearn to rise again; they are not cowered by evil, because they always trust in the infinite possibilities of good. And this is our Christian hope: the light of Jesus, the salvation that Jesus brings to us with His light that saves us from the darkness.

"We are those who believe that God is Father: this is the light! We are not orphans; we have a Father and our Father is God. We believe that Jesus descended among us; He shared our life, making Himself companion above all to the poorest and most frail: this is the light! We believe that the Holy Spirit works unceasingly for the good of humanity and of the world, and that even the worst suffering of history will be overcome: this is the hope that awakens us each morning! We believe that every affection, every friendship, every good yearning, every love, even the most minute and neglected, one day will find fulfilment in God: this is the power that spurs us to embrace our daily life with enthusiasm! And this is our hope: to live in hope and live in light, in the light of God the Father, in the light of Jesus the Savior, in the light of the Holy Spirit who urges us to go forth in life.

"There is then another very beautiful sign of the baptismal liturgy that reminds us of the importance of light. At the end of the Rite, the parents - if it is a child - or the baptized themselves - if they are adults - are consigned a candle, whose flame is lit from the Paschal Candle. It is a large candle that on Easter night enters the completely dark church, to demonstrate the mystery of Jesus' Resurrection; from that candle everyone lights their own candle and passes the flame on to those nearby: in that sign is the slow propagation of the Resurrection of Jesus in the lives of all Christians. The life of the Church - I will say a rather strong word - is contagious light. The more light of Jesus we Christians have, the more light of Jesus there is in the life of the Church, the more alive she is. The life of the Church is the contagion of light.

"The most beautiful exhortation that we can address to each other is to always remember our Baptism. I would like to ask you: how many of you remember the date of your Baptism? Do not answer because some may feel embarrassed! Think, and if you do not remember it, today you have homework to do: go to your mom, to your dad, to your aunt, to your uncle, to your grandma, grandpa, and ask them: 'What is the date of my Baptism?' And never forget it again! Is that clear? Will you do it? Today's task is to learn or remember the date of Baptism, which is the date of rebirth; it is the date of light; it is the date in which - allow me to say - in which we were infected by the light of Christ. We are born twice over: the first time into natural life; the second, thanks to the encounter with Christ, at the Baptismal font. There we died unto death, in order to live as children of God in this world. There we became human as we never could have imagined. This is why we all must spread the fragrance of the Chrism, with which we were anointed on the day of our Baptism. In us lives and operates the Spirit of Jesus, first born of many brothers and sisters, of all those who oppose the inevitability of darkness and death.

"What a grace it is when a Christian truly becomes a 'cristo-foro,' which means 'bearer of Jesus' in the world! Above all for those who are experiencing situations of grief, of despair, of darkness, and of hate. This can be understood from many fine details: from the light that a Christian conserves in his eyes, from the foundation of peace which is not undermined even on the most complicated of days, from the wish to begin to love again even when we have experienced many disappointments. In the future, when the story of our days is written, what will it say about us? That we were capable of hope, or that we put our light under a bushel? If we are true to our Baptism, we will spread the light of the hope - Baptism is the beginning of hope, that hope - of God, and we will be able to pass on to future generations the meaning of life."

Teach Through Living

Pope Francis sent a message, dated July 5, to those participating in the first international Catechetical symposium meeting July 11-14 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

His message follows:

"... I cordially greet ... those who will be participating in the various formation meetings organized by the Episcopal Commission for Catechesis and the Biblical Apostolate.

"In response to one of his followers who repeatedly asked that he teach him how to preach, Saint Francis answered in the following way: 'Brother [when we visit the sick, help children, and feed the poor] we are already preaching.' The vocation and task of catechists are encompassed in this beautiful lesson.

"Firstly, catechesis is not a 'job' or a task that is external to the person who is a catechist; because one 'is' a catechist and all of life revolves around this mission. In fact, 'being' a catechist is a vocation of service to the Church; what was received as a gift from the Lord should be transmitted in one's turn. Thus, catechists must constantly return to that first announcement of 'kerygma' which is the gift that changed their life. It is the fundamental proclamation that must continuously resound in the life of Christians, even more so in those who are called to proclaim and teach the faith. 'Nothing is more solid, profound, secure, meaningful, and wisdom-filled than that initial proclamation' (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 165). This proclamation should accompany faith which is already present in the piety of our people. It is necessary to assume all the potential of piety and love that popular religiosity contains, so that not only are the contents of the faith transmitted, but a true school of formation is also established, in which the gift of faith received is nurtured so that actions and words reflect the grace of being the disciples of Jesus.

"The Catechist walks from and with Christ. They are not persons who set out with their own ideas and tastes, but rather who let themselves be looked at by him, by that gaze that makes the heart burn. The more Jesus occupies the center of our lives, the more He allows us to come out of ourselves; He de-centers us and He brings us closer to others. This dynamic of love is like the movement of the heart: 'systole and diastole;' they concentrate to encounter the Lord and immediately open up, coming out of themselves for love, to bear witness to Jesus and speak of Jesus, to preach Jesus. He gives us the example Himself: He would retire to pray to the Father and then He would go immediately to meet those hungry and thirsty for God, to heal them and save them. This is the basis of the importance of 'mystagogic' catechesis, which is the constant encounter with the Word and with the sacraments and not something which is merely occasional, before the celebration of the sacraments of Christian initiation. Christian life is a process of growth and integration of all the dimensions of a person on a community journey of listening and answering (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, n. 166).

"Furthermore, catechists are creative; they seek to use different means and forms to proclaim Christ. It is beautiful to believe in Jesus because He is 'the way, and the truth, and the life' (Jn 14:6) who fills our existence with joy and cheerfulness. This endeavour to make Jesus known as the highest form of beauty brings us to encounter new signs and ways to transmit the faith. The means may be different but what is important is to keep in mind the style of Jesus who adapted to the people He had before Him in order to bring them closer to the love of God. One must know how to 'change,' to adapt in order to bring the message closer, though it is always the same, because God does not change, but renews all things in Him. In the creative endeavor to make Jesus known, we must not have fear because He is ahead of us in this task. He is already in today's man and He awaits us there.

"Dear catechists, I thank you for what you do, but especially because you walk with the People of God. I encourage you to be joyful messengers, custodians of the good and of the beauty which shines through the faithful life of the missionary disciple.

"May Jesus bless you and may the Holy Virgin, true 'educator of the faith,' take care of you.

"And please, do not forget to pray for me."

Light to the Nations

(A Christian Perspective on World News)

health care continues to challenge

WASHINGTON - In response to last night's (July 27) Senate vote on the "skinny repeal" bill, Bishop Frank J. Dewane of Venice, Florida, Chairman of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, has issued the following statement:

"Despite the Senate's decision not to pass legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act last night, the task of reforming the healthcare system still remains. The current healthcare system is not financially sustainable, lacks full Hyde protections and conscience rights, and is inaccessible to many immigrants. Inaction will result in harm for too many people.

A moment has opened for Congress, and indeed all Americans, to set aside party and personal political interest and pursue the common good of our nation and its people, especially the most vulnerable. In order to be just, any bill for consideration must:

• Protect the Medicaid program from changes that would harm millions of struggling Americans.

• Protect the safety net from any other changes that harm the poor, immigrants, or any others at the margins.

• Address the real probability of collapsing insurance markets and the corresponding loss of genuine affordability for those with limited means.

• Provide full Hyde Amendment provisions and much-needed conscience protections.

Any final agreement that respects human life and dignity, honors conscience rights, and ensures that everyone can access health care that is comprehensive, high quality, and truly affordable deserves the support of all of us.

The greatness of our country is not measured by the well-being of the powerful but how we have cared for the 'least of these.' Congress can and should pass health care legislation that lives up to that greatness."

(Source: USCCB press release)

pope encourages christian workers

Vatican City - Pope Francis has sent (July 16) a Message to the International Meeting of the World Movement of Christian Workers which has been taking place in Ávila, Spain, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation.

One hundred twenty delegates representing the Movement, present today in 79 countries are attending the event. The theme of the meeting is, "Land, Home, and Work for a Worthy Life". The message, signed by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, stresses that "the dignity of the person is closely united to these three realities" that remind us that the fundamental experience of the human being "is to feel rooted in the world, in one Family, in a society. "

"Land, home, and work - continues the Message - means fighting because every person lives in a manner consistent with his dignity and nobody is discarded. To this we encourage our faith in God, who sent His Son into the world because, sharing the story of His people, living in a family and working with His hands, He could redeem and save the human person with His Death and resurrection."

Finally, the Pope urges the Christian Workers Movement "to persevere with renewed impetus in the effort to bring the Gospel into the world of work."

(Source: Vatican Radio)

Edge To Edge

Edge to Edge

Pray The News

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 for healing and reconciliation in our country.
  • We pray that we will hear the cry of the poor.
  • We pray for wisdom as to how to reach out to the poor.
  • We pray for all leaders to be under the lordship of Jesus.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, violence, war, and for the victory of the civilization of love over the culture of death.
  • We pray for all workers through the intercession of St. Joseph.
  • We pray that we will know and celebrate our baptismal day.
  • We pray for peace throughout the world.
  • We pray for persecuted Christians to be strong in faith and courage.
  • We pray that tourism will be a tool for growth and development and will build community.
  • We pray for an end to racism and that we will have the heart of Christ for others.
  • We pray that we will pray the rosary and will be faithful to the message of Fatima.

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