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My People

Vol. 21, Issue 11, November 2008

"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


Youth from Presentation Ministries march with Canadians during World Youth Day in Australia. We are thankful for the joy and commitment of young people to Jesus and His Church. (Photo provided by Bethany Strasser.) – St. Francis of Assisi

Encyclical Witnesses To Truth About Married Love

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's encyclical, Humanae Vitae.  As part of the anniversary observance, Pope Benedict XVI sent a message for an International Congress on this encyclical.  In the message, dated October 4, the Pope wrote to Monsignor Livio Melina, president of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family.  His message follows:

"I learned with joy that the Pontifical Institute of which you are President and the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart have opportunely organized an International Congress on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae, an important Document that treats one of the essential aspects of the vocation to marriage and the specific journey of holiness that results from it. Indeed, having received the gift of love, husband and wife are called in turn to give themselves to each other without reserve. Only in this way are the acts proper and exclusive to spouses truly acts of love which, while they unite them in one flesh, build a genuine personal communion. Therefore, the logic of the totality of the gift intrinsically configures conjugal love and, thanks to the sacramental outpouring of the Holy Spirit, becomes the means to achieve authentic conjugal charity in their own life.

"The possibility of procreating a new human life is included in a married couple's integral gift of themselves. Since, in fact, every form of love endeavors to spread the fullness on which it lives, conjugal love has its own special way of communicating itself: the generation of children. Thus it not only resembles but also shares in the love of God Who wants to communicate Himself by calling the human person to life. Excluding this dimension of communication through an action that aims to prevent procreation means denying the intimate truth of spousal love, with which the divine gift is communicated: 'If the mission of generating life is not to be exposed to the arbitrary will of men, one must necessarily recognize insurmountable limits to the possibility of man's domination over his own body and its functions; limits which no man, whether a private individual or one invested with authority, may licitly surpass' (Humanae Vitae, n. 17). This is the essential nucleus of the teaching that my Venerable Predecessor Paul VI addressed to married couples and which the Servant of God John Paul II, in turn, reasserted on many occasions, illuminating its anthropological and moral basis.

"Forty years after the Encyclical's publication we can understand better how decisive this light was for understanding the great 'yes' that conjugal love involves. In this light, children are no longer the objective of a human project but are recognized as an authentic gift, to be accepted with an attitude of responsible generosity toward God, the first source of human life. This great 'yes' to the beauty of love certainly entails gratitude, both of the parents in receiving the gift of a child, and of the child himself, in knowing that his life originates in such a great and welcoming love.

"It is true, moreover, that serious circumstances may develop in the couple's growth which make it prudent to space out births or even to suspend them.  And it is here that knowledge of the natural rhythms of the woman's fertility becomes important for the couple's life. The methods of observation which enable the couple to determine the periods of fertility permit them to administer what the Creator has wisely inscribed in human nature without interfering with the integral significance of sexual giving. In this way spouses, respecting the full truth of their love, will be able to modulate its expression in conformity with these rhythms without taking anything from the totality of the gift of self that union in the flesh expresses. Obviously, this requires maturity in love which is not instantly acquired but involves dialogue and reciprocal listening, as well as a special mastery of the sexual impulse in a journey of growth in virtue.

"In this perspective, knowing that the Congress is also taking place through an initiative of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, I am likewise eager to express in particular my appreciation for all that this university institution does to support the International Paul VI Institute for Research in Human Fertility and Infertility for Responsible Procreation (ISI), which it gave to my unforgettable Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, thereby desiring to make, so to speak, an institutionalized response to the appeal launched by Pope Paul VI in paragraph n. 24 of the Encyclical, to 'men of science.'  A task of the ISI, in fact, is to improve the knowledge of the natural methods for controlling human fertility and of natural methods for overcoming possible infertility.  Today, 'thanks to the progress of the biological and medical sciences, man has at his disposal ever more effective therapeutic resources; but he can also acquire new powers, with unforeseeable consequences, over human life at its very beginning and in its first stages' (Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation, Donum vitae, n. 1). In this perspective, many researchers are engaged in the fight against sterility.  While fully safeguarding the dignity of human procreation, some have achieved results which previously seemed unattainable. 'Scientists therefore are to be encouraged to continue their research with the aim of preventing the causes of sterility and of being able to remedy them so that sterile couples will be able to procreate in full respect for their own personal dignity and that of the child to be born' (ibid., n. 8). It is precisely this goal that is proposed by the ISI Paul VI and by other similar centers, with the encouragement of the ecclesiastical authority.

"We may ask ourselves: how is it possible that the world today, and also many of the faithful, find it so difficult to understand the Church's message which illustrates and defends the beauty of conjugal love in its natural expression? Of course, in important human issues the technical solution often appears the easiest. Yet it actually conceals the basic question that concerns the meaning of human sexuality and the need for a responsible mastery of it so that its practice may become an expression of personal love. When love is at stake, technology cannot replace the maturation of freedom. Indeed, as we well know, not even reason suffices: it must be the heart that sees. Only the eyes of the heart succeed in understanding the proper needs of a great love, capable of embracing the totality of the human being. For this, the service that the Church offers in her pastoral care of marriages and families must be able to guide couples to understand with their hearts the marvellous plan that God has written into the human body, helping them to accept all that an authentic process of maturation involves . . ."

Mary Ministers Love And Hope

Pope Benedict XVI went to France in September to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes.  On September 15, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross, the Holy Father celebrated Mass at Lourdes.  His homily follows:

" 'Go and tell the priests that people should come here in procession, and that a chapel should be built here.'  This is the message Bernadette received from the 'beautiful lady' in the apparition of March 2, 1858. For 150 years, pilgrims have never ceased to come to the grotto of Massabielle to hear the message of conversion and hope which is addressed to them. And we have done the same; here we are this morning at the feet of Mary, the Immaculate Virgin, eager to learn from her alongside little Bernadette . . .

" 'What a great thing it is to possess the Cross! He who possesses it possesses a treasure' (Saint Andrew of Crete, Homily X on the Exaltation of the Cross, PG 97, 1020). On this day when the Church's liturgy celebrates the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, the Gospel you have just heard reminds us of the meaning of this great mystery: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that men might be saved (cf. Jn 3:16). The Son of God became vulnerable, assuming the condition of a slave, obedient even to death, death on a cross (cf. Phil 2:8). By His Cross we are saved. The instrument of torture which, on Good Friday, manifested God's judgement on the world, has become a source of life, pardon, mercy, a sign of reconciliation and peace. 'In order to be healed from sin, gaze upon Christ crucified!' said Saint Augustine (Treatise on Saint John, XII, 11). By raising our eyes towards the Crucified One, we adore Him Who came to take upon Himself the sin of the world and to give us eternal life. And the Church invites us proudly to lift up this glorious Cross so that the world can see the full extent of the love of the Crucified One for mankind, for every man and woman. She invites us to give thanks to God because from a tree which brought death, life has burst out anew. On this wood Jesus reveals to us His sovereign majesty, He reveals to us that He is exalted in glory. Yes, 'Come, let us adore Him!' In our midst is He Who loved us even to giving His life for us, He who invites every human being to draw near to Him with trust.

"This is the great mystery that Mary also entrusts to us this morning, inviting us to turn towards her Son. In fact, it is significant that, during the first apparition to Bernadette, Mary begins the encounter with the sign of the Cross. More than a simple sign, it is an initiation into the mysteries of the faith that Bernadette receives from Mary. The sign of the Cross is a kind of synthesis of our faith, for it tells how much God loves us; it tells us that there is a love in this world that is stronger than death, stronger than our weaknesses and sins. The power of love is stronger than the evil which threatens us. It is this mystery of the universality of God's love for men that Mary came to reveal here, in Lourdes.  She invites all people of good will, all those who suffer in heart or body, to raise their eyes towards the Cross of Jesus, so as to discover there the source of life, the source of salvation.

"The Church has received the mission of showing all people this loving face of God, manifested in Jesus Christ.   Are we able to understand that in the Crucified One of Golgotha, our dignity as children of God, tarnished by sin, is restored to us? Let us turn our gaze towards Christ.  It is He who will make us free to love as He loves us, and to build a reconciled world.  For on this Cross, Jesus took upon Himself the weight of all the sufferings and injustices of our humanity. He bore the humiliation and the discrimination, the torture suffered in many parts of the world by so many of our brothers and sisters for love of Christ. We entrust all this to Mary, mother of Jesus and our mother, present at the foot of the Cross.

"In order to welcome into our lives this glorious Cross, the celebration of the Jubilee of Our Lady's apparitions in Lourdes urges us to embark upon a journey of faith and conversion. Today, Mary comes to meet us, so as to show us the way towards a renewal of life for our communities and for each one of us. By welcoming her Son, Whom she presents to us, we are plunged into a living stream in which the faith can rediscover new vigor, in which the Church can be strengthened so as to proclaim the mystery of Christ ever more boldly. Jesus, born of Mary, is the Son of God, the sole Savior of all people, living and acting in His Church and in the world. The Church is sent everywhere in the world to proclaim this unique message and to invite people to receive it through an authentic conversion of heart. This mission, entrusted by Jesus to His disciples, receives here, on the occasion of this Jubilee, a breath of new life. After the example of the great evangelizers from your country, may the missionary spirit which animated so many men and women from France over the centuries, continue to be your pride and your commitment!

"When we follow the Jubilee Way in the footsteps of Bernadette, we are reminded of the heart of the message of Lourdes. Bernadette is the eldest daughter of a very poor family, with neither knowledge nor power, and in poor health. Mary chose her to transmit her message of conversion, prayer, and penance, which fully accord with words of Jesus: 'What You have hidden from the wise and understanding, You have revealed to babes' (Mt 11:25). On their spiritual journey, Christians too are called to render fruitful the grace of their Baptism, to nourish themselves with the Eucharist, to draw strength from prayer so as to bear witness and to express solidarity with all their fellow human beings (cf. Homage to the Virgin Mary, Piazza di Spagna, December 8, 2007). It is therefore a genuine catechesis that is being proposed to us in this way, under Mary's gaze. Let us allow her to instruct us too, and to guide us along the path that leads to the Kingdom of her Son!

"In the course of her catechesis, the 'beautiful lady' reveals her name to Bernadette: 'I am the Immaculate Conception.'  Mary thereby discloses the extraordinary grace that she has received from God, that of having been conceived without sin, for 'He has looked on His servant in her lowliness' (cf. Lk 1:48). Mary is the woman from this earth who gave herself totally to God, and who received the privilege of giving human life to His eternal Son. 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me' (Lk 1:38).  She is beauty transfigured, the image of the new humanity. By presenting herself in this way, in utter dependence upon God, Mary expresses in reality an attitude of total freedom, based upon the full recognition of her true dignity. This privilege concerns us too, for it discloses to us our own dignity as men and women, admittedly marked by sin, but saved in hope, a hope which allows us to face our daily life. This is the path which Mary opens up for man. To give oneself fully to God is to find the path of true freedom. For by turning towards God, man becomes himself. He rediscovers his original vocation as a person created in His image and likeness.

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, the primary purpose of the shrine at Lourdes is to be a place of encounter with God in prayer and a place of service to our brothers and sisters, notably through the welcome given to the sick, the poor, and all who suffer. In this place, Mary comes to us as a mother, always open to the needs of her children.  Through the light which streams from her face, God's mercy is made manifest. Let us allow ourselves to be touched by her gaze, which tells us that we are all loved by God and never abandoned by Him!  Mary comes to remind us that prayer which is humble and intense, trusting and persevering, must have a central place in our Christian lives. Prayer is indispensable if we are to receive Christ's power. 'People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone' (Deus Caritas Est, 36). To allow oneself to become absorbed by activity runs the risk of depriving prayer of its specifically Christian character and its true efficacy. The prayer of the Rosary, so dear to Bernadette and to Lourdes pilgrims, concentrates within itself the depths of the Gospel message. It introduces us to contemplation of the face of Christ. From this prayer of the humble, we can draw an abundance of graces.

"The presence of young people at Lourdes is also an important element. Dear friends, gathered this morning around the World Youth Day Cross: when Mary received the angel's visit, she was a young girl from Nazareth leading the simple and courageous life typical of the women of her village. And if God's gaze focussed particularly upon her, trusting in her, Mary wants to tell you once more that not one of you is indifferent in God's eyes. He directs His loving gaze upon each one of you and He calls you to a life that is happy and full of meaning.  Do not allow yourselves to be discouraged by difficulties! Mary was disturbed by the message of the angel who came to tell her that she would become the Mother of the Savior.  She was conscious of her frailty in the face of God's omnipotence. Nevertheless, she said 'yes,' without hesitating. And thanks to her yes, salvation came into the world, thereby changing the history of mankind. For your part, dear young people, do not be afraid to say yes to the Lord's summons when He invites you to walk in His footsteps. Respond generously to the Lord! Only He can fulfill the deepest aspirations of your heart. You have come to Lourdes in great numbers for attentive and generous service to the sick and to the other pilgrims, setting out in this way to follow Christ the servant. Serving our brothers and sisters opens our hearts and makes us available. In the silence of prayer, be prepared to confide in Mary, who spoke to Bernadette in a spirit of respect and trust towards her. May Mary help those who are called to marriage to discover the beauty of a genuine and profound love, lived as a reciprocal and faithful gift! To those among you whom He calls to follow Him in the priesthood or the religious life, I would like to reiterate all the joy that is to be had through giving one's life totally for the service of God and others. May Christian families and communities be places where solid vocations can come to birth and grow, for the service of the Church and the world!

"Mary's message is a message of hope for all men and women of our day, whatever their country of origin. I like to invoke Mary as the star of hope (Spe Salvi, 50). On the paths of our lives, so often shrouded in darkness, she is a beacon of hope who enlightens us and gives direction to our journey. Through her 'yes,' through the generous gift of herself, she has opened up to God the gates of our world and our history.  And she invites us to live like her in invincible hope, refusing to believe those who claim that we are trapped in the fatal power of destiny. She accompanies us with her maternal presence amid the events of our personal lives, our family lives, and our national lives. Happy are those men and women who place their trust in Him Who, at the very moment when He was offering His life for our salvation, gave us His Mother to be our own! . . ."

"I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving
be offered for all men, especially for kings and those in authority,
that we may be able to lead undisturbed and tranquil lives."
(1 Tm 2:1-2)

In Defense of Life: Distorting Truth

Fred H. Summe
Fred H. Summe, vice president of Northern Kentucky Right to Life

by Fred H. Summe

"I don't think anyone can tell you when life begins," asserts Nancy Pelosi (D), Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.  After claiming to be "an ardent, practicing Catholic" on the August 24 "Meet the Press," Pelosi continued by manipulating the Catholic Church's teaching:  "…Over the centuries, the Doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition …over the history of the Church, this is an issue of controversy."

Pro-lifers can be thankful for Pelosi's arrogantly self-assigned role as an instructor of what the Catholic Church teaches because it encouraged a few Catholic bishops to publicly expose the false teaching and hypocrisy of the so-called "Catholic" politicians.

Not a "Definition"

When human life begins is a reality, which is discovered, understood, and acknowledged.

Modern science has had no problems determining when human life begins.  "It is scientifically correct to say that an individual human life begins at conception, when the egg and sperm join to form the zygote, and that this developing human always is a member of our species in all stages of its life.  There is not one medical text in use in one medical school in this country that teaches to the contrary," teaches Micheline Matthews-Roth, M.D., principal research associate of the Harvard University Medical School.

"…what they [unborn children] are depends not at all upon the opinions of theologians of any faith," was the response of Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York to Pelosi's statement, as reported in The Wanderer.

Cardinal Egan went further in questioning whether such individuals should be serving in government:  "Anyone who dares to defend that they [unborn children] may be legitimately killed because another human being 'chooses' to do so or for any other equally ridiculous reason should not be providing leadership in a civilized democracy worthy of the name."

Church Teaching

To help justify their acceptance of this intrinsic evil, many have bought into the misrepresentation of the Church's teaching.  If any pope, council, early Father of the Church, or saint had ever expressed the idea that abortion was morally acceptable, be assured that these "Catholic" pro-abortion public figures would have no trouble in convincing the news media to widely disseminate such statements.

"Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.  This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable," is how the Catechism of the Catholic Church [2271] contradicts the proclamation of Pelosi.

The truth of the matter is that the early Church viewed abortion as morally wrong, even though medical science had not yet discovered the exact mechanism of fertilization.

"You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish."  The Didache, the First Century Catechism of the Apostles.

In the 1974 Declaration on Procured Abortion [Sec. 7], the Church answers this misrepresentation of the Church's teaching:

"…the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion.  It is true that in the Middle Ages, when the opinion was generally held that the spiritual soul was not present until after the first few weeks, a distinction was made in the evaluation of the sin and the gravity of penal sanctions.  Excellent authors allowed for the first period more lenient case solutions which they rejected for following periods.  But it was never denied at that time that procured abortion, even during the first days, was objectively a grave fault.  The condemnation was in fact unanimous."

In his book, The Facts of Life, Brian Clowes, Ph.D., with Human Life International, exposes this hypocrisy with a simple question:

". . . pro-abortionists  . . . cannot deny that preborn babies are alive and human, so they are deliberately basing their support of abortion on a question that science will never be able to answer . . . They assert that preborn children are not alive, not human, not persons, do not feel pain, are not viable, are not mentioned in the Bible, are not ensouled, and on and on.  Of course, it really doesn't matter to pro-abortionists when ensoulment occurs.  If, through some metaphysical/scientific breakthrough, we could prove preborn babies received their souls at the instant of fertilization, is anyone naive enough to expect pro-abortionists to immediately give up their precious abortion 'right'?"

Failure of Many to Teach

In response to Pelosi's statement, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver responded:  "Catholics who make excuses for it – whether they are famous or not – fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith."

Another one of the few bishops issuing statements was St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt, who exposed the real crisis of faith, by which those in favor of legalized killing of the unborn can justify their beliefs.  "…Speaker Pelosi's remarks underscore once again the need for Catholics, and especially Catholic politicians, to form their consciences according to the moral truths taught by the Catholic Church."

The Editor of National Review Online, Kathryn Jean Lopez, raises the inquiry:  "How did Catholic politicians reach such a sorry state? …Perhaps Pelosi has been given mixed signals by churchmen. Perhaps Pelosi truly believes she can write her own way without effectively removing herself from the Catholic Church. …That possibility underscores the need for more forthright priests and bishops like Chaput – for the benefit of Nancy Pelosis and Joe Bidens of the world, as well as every last Catholic vote they court."

For the most part, bishops in this country have failed to even address, much less implement, the Holy Father's teaching that Catholic public figures who dissent from the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion should, after being privately admonished and given an opportunity to correct their public statements or actions, be denied Holy Communion.  The few who have, saw an opportunity to reach to these public figures, and the faithful they influence, for the sake of their souls.

As one who has been active in the pro-life movement for more than 30 years, I personally want to thank Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her statement.  Although I could not disagree with it more, her statement has served as an opportunity to the bishops, some of whom are meeting the challenge, to publicly and clearly explain the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on abortion, the ultimate issue in this election and in our times.

Prison To Praise: We Must Forgive!

by William J. Maitre, Jr.

(Editor's note:  Mr. Maitre writes from Florida.  He shared this teaching at the August meeting of the prison's Kairos Ministry.  This important prison ministry has resulted in many inmates turning their lives over to Jesus.  We welcome contributions from prisoners and would like to hear from a variety of prisoners.)

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord?  How many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?  Up to seven times?"  Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy times seven times!"  (Mt 18:21-22)

How important is a spirit of forgiveness to our own life and walk?  Our Lord said, "If you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins."  (Mt 6:14-15)

My brothers, how many of us are right now harboring a spirit of unforgiveness?  How many of us are at odds with a close family member, long-time friend, neighbor, or co-worker?  We're thinking, "They were in the wrong.  They're the ones at fault.  They're the ones who need to change, to repent, to apologize.  I don't need to reach out to them!"

That's not the way Our Lord call us to view the situation.  St. Matthew quotes Our Lord as saying, "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar, first go and be reconciled to your brother then come and offer your gift."  (Mt 5:23-24)  Our Lord is saying, "If you're estranged from family or friends, I will not hear your prayers.  Be reconciled to your brothers and sisters first.  Then come before My throne and present your petitions."  We are to be the ones to break the ice.  To be the peacemakers, to show Christian love and forgiveness to others.

Nine years ago this past March I was summoned to the prison chapel at the Orlando Reception Center.  I was informed that my father had died in his sleep the previous night.  This was one week shy of the first anniversary of my mother's death.  Three things helped me get through that time.  1) I knew that my parents were together again and in the presence of Our Lord.  2) I knew that some day I would join them on those streets of gold.  And 3) I was sure that they knew that I loved them and was greatful for all they had done for me.  I told them so in every call and letter home.

Can each of you say the same thing about your family?  Think how you would feel it you were the one to receive the call telling you that someone close to you had just been called home.  That awful empty feeling in your heart would be made worse by the thought that you would NEVER have the chance to tell them how much they meant to you or that you loved them.  My friends, if the spirit of unforgiveness exists in your life, please change it today!  Make that call.  Write that letter.  Break the ice!  Be the peacemaker!

I'd like for everyone to take a moment to search their heart.  First, thank Our Lord for all the friends and family who have stood by us no matter what the circumstances.  Second, ask the Holy Spirit to point out to us those who we are at odds with for whatever reason.  Third, pray for the courage to reach out in love and forgiveness to those who we are estranged from, and the courage to be the peacemakers.

Books Focus On God

by Michael Halm

Several recent books seem to be dealing in different ways with the same questions, "If God exists, what does that mean to me?"  Anthony Flew, Newt Gingrich, Paul Davies, and Francis Collins come at God from four different directions.

After decades of insisting belief was a mistake, "A super-intelligence is the only good explanation for the origin of life and the complexity of Nature," Flew now says.  "I'm thinking of a God very different from the God of the Christian and far and away from the God of Islam, because both are depicted as omnipotent."  He now believes that such evidence has, and his book, There Is A God tells his journey from staunch atheism to deism.

His Theology and Falsification has become the most widely reprinted philosophical publication of the last 50 years.  Flew earned his fame by arguing that one should presuppose atheism until evidence of a God surfaces.

Newt Gingrich too has written a book Rediscovering God in America.  "There is no attack on American culture," he writes, "more destructive and more historically dishonest than the secular Left's relentless effort to drive God out of America's public square."

"I believe deeply that people fall short and that people have to recognize that they have to turn to God for forgiveness and to seek mercy," Gingrich said.  "I don't know how you could live with  yourself and not end up breaking down if you didn't find, try to find, some way to deal with your own weaknesses and to go to God about them."

Gingrich quotes many deist Founding Fathers, including George Washington, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton, and others,  who all believed that a republican form of government could not succeed without (in Adams' words) "a moral and religious people."

He takes his reader on a virtual tour of the most important monuments, buildings, and landmarks in Washington, D.C.  Starting with the National Archives, and its Declaration of Independence and Constitution, he continues on to the Washington Monument and the Jefferson, Lincoln, and Roosevelt Memorials.  Then come the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Capitol and Supreme Court buildings, the White House, the Library of Congress, the Ronald Reagan Building, the World War II Memorial, and Arlington National Cemetery.

He emphasizes the relevance of faith in all this concrete history and in the lives they commemorate.  He criticizes the courts' distortion of the meaning of the First Amendment with the mythical separation of church and state.  He uses America to rediscover the faith of her fathers.

In The Goldilocks Engima Paul Davies claims that new scientific discoveries have brought us to the brink of comprehending the underlying structure of nature.  The title "enigma" is why "the universe seems 'just right' for life."

Davies contends that life and consciousness are essential components, not merely interesting bonus features of the universe.

His previous books include The Mind of God and won the Templeton Prize for progress in religion, worth more than half a million pounds.

He gives the example of stars, hot gas held together by gravity, which if the force of gravity were stronger than it is, stars would burn far more quickly and expire sooner.  If, on the other hand, gravity were weaker, they would burn too dimly, and their energy output would not be enough to support life.  It seems that the strength of gravity, and seeming countless other constants of nature, are all "just right."  Even given this so-called anthropic principle, Davies says, we are left wondering why Nature (or God) chose the particular rules it did.

Although coming from a natural scientist's perspective, he does praise the insights of St. Augustine, Leibniz, and others, who approached the problem from a theistic perspective.  Davies, however, cannot believe in an Intelligent Designer.  Neither can he accept that the universe is just an accident in an infinite multiverse of possible universes.  Causality, he argues, could work backwards, so that the real cause of our universe is its endpoint.  Our conclusions, as Davies himself admits, are a matter of personal faith.

In The Language of God:  A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief geneticist Francis Collins explains why faith and reason can and do co-exist peacefully, and how they can actually complement each other.  As director of the National Human Genome Research Project, he has seen how intricately life seems to have been crafted.  He does not think, however, that the question of when life began is "the place for a thoughtful person to wager his faith."

Collins does admit he rejects deism because of its moral law, which seemed to represent God's personal involvement with His creatures.  He proposes instead that God did intelligently design His creation with such precision that Humans would be the result, but that He did all but start it naturally.  About a hundred thousand years ago God supernaturally created the first hominid soul, but so it would be indistinguishable from naturalism.  His concept of "BioLogos is not intended as a scientific theory.  Its truth can be tested only by the spiritual logic of the heart, the  mind, and the soul."

Africa Continues To Challenge

Monsignor Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, addressed at United Nations' High-Level Meeting on Africa September 22 in New York.  His speech follows:

"Africa has always played an important role in the various challenges taken up every year by the General Assembly of the United Nations. For the last 60 years Africa, with its historical and geographic particularities, has challenged the capacity of the United Nations to carry out the high ideals enshrined in its Charter of peace and prosperity for all. Recent history has also witnessed the capacity of African governments to harmonize their large variety of interests and local needs, their great cultural diversity, and the special geographic and climactic challenges with the need to coordinate a common response to the serious problems that affect without distinction the entire continent.

"The successes obtained in the consolidation of independence in the overcoming of the ideological conflicts of the twentieth century, in the abolition of apartheid, and more recently in the strengthening of the African Union and of many other regional structures of cooperation are a sign of hope in the potential of Africa. It is now high time to allow and encourage an African sense of ownership in leading a sustained and sustainable developmental process that frees all the peoples of Africa from the scourge of extreme poverty.

"The Holy See commends this very timely meeting aimed at taking stock of the implementation of various commitments put forward by the international community as well as the efforts being undertaken at the national level throughout Africa.

"My delegation expresses its appreciation for the Report of the Secretary-General. The Holy See echoes the Report's call for concrete action and believes that delivery must be the principal result at the international, regional, and national levels. The current outcome document constitutes an effective guide for such concrete action if accompanied by the political will to put its aspirations into practice.

"The development of Africa is a great opportunity for the whole world given its human resources and unique climactic and cultural diversity.  Africa is the 'youngest' of continents with sixty percent of its population under 25.  In a number of African countries growth has kept pace with and even surpassed that of developed nations.  Such growth, substantiated in the Report of the Secretary-General, is due not only to the improvement of the terms of exchange of raw materials but also to a generalized improvement in methods of government.

"In spite of this, however, the recent economic growth has not been sufficient to free from extreme poverty large segments of the population of Africa, and the average life expectancy remains one of the lowest in the world. Clearly there is still a long way to go in improving the health of the people of Africa . . .

"My delegation is privileged to outline here the day-to-day experiences of many communities of the Catholic Church present throughout the continent, even in its remotest corners, that share the burdens as well as the joys and achievements of many Africans. In the fight against HIV/AIDS as well as in the fields of education and health, the Catholic Church remains in the front line both from the point of view of the extension of its network of solidarity and the quality of its assistance.

"Strengthened by this experience, the Holy See encourages the participants in this High-Level meeting to continue efforts to adapt the development programs to the reality of Africa and achieve an authentic partnership, in which African countries are not simply a receiver of ideas and aids programmed from the outside, but a true agent of their own development.

"The present difficulties in reaching a world-wide consensus on international trade rules could serve as an impetus to re-launch a special round for Africa and for the LDCs, with the scope of strengthening regional trade and an appropriate way of inserting it into the international context, thus giving a substantial contribution to the reform of African structures of production.

"The purpose of a painstakingly planned and implemented international financial and commercial environment for Africa should be twofold: firstly, the creation of sufficient and productive urban employment for the young population of Africa; secondly, the promotion of and investment in a sustainable family farming system capable of meeting the food requirements of the whole of rural and urban African population and able to contribute to the trade gains of its countries.

"The increasing integration of NEPAD into the structures of the African Union is a very positive sign of progress in African ownership of its own development.

"African cultures have a keen sense of solidarity and community life. Such a precious heritage is an asset on which the Governments and African society should build in order to obtain effective results. At the same time, the preservation of African families and their cultural identity must be the ultimate objective of all economic plans of development and also the definitive measure of their effectiveness . . ."

Proclamation of Thanksgiving

By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies.  To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.  In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. 
Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements and the mines as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly then heretofore.  Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.  No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things.  They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.  And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and Union.

"America needs much prayer, lest it lose its soul."
— Pope John Paul II

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President:  Abraham Lincoln

William H. Seward, Secretary of State

Light to the Nations: A Christian Persepective on World News

Remembering Pope Paul VI

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI wrote Bishop Luciano Monari of Brescia, Italy, on the 30th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI.  In the message, dated July 26, the Pope wrote:

"On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI, I would like to send my cordial greetings and good wishes to you, Venerable Brother, to the Presbyterate and to the whole Diocesan Community of Brescia from which my Predecessor received the gift of faith and drew those great values of piety, culture, and humanity, to which he always conformed his life as a Priest, as a Bishop, and as the Successor of Peter. He was introduced to this Church by zealous Priests and always bound to it by a love that never faded and by sentiments of deep and sincere gratitude, which he never failed to express in various circumstances with gestures full of affection and veneration. I am also personally grateful to the Servant of God Paul VI for the trust he placed in me by appointing me Archbishop of Munich and, three months later, admitting me to the College of Cardinals.

"He was called by divine Providence to guide the Church in a historical period marked by a multitude of challenges and difficulties. In thinking back to the years of his Pontificate, one is struck by the missionary fervor that motivated him and impelled him to undertake demanding apostolic journeys even to distant nations and to make gestures of great ecclesial, missionary, and ecumenical importance.

"This Pontiff's name continues to be linked above all to the Second Vatican Council. The Lord desired that a son of the land of Brescia take the helm of the barque of Peter precisely during the celebration of the Council sessions and the years in which they were first implemented.

"With the passing of years the importance of his Pontificate for the Church and for the world becomes ever more obvious, as does the priceless heritage of his Magisterium and virtue that he bequeathed to believers and to humanity as a whole.

"Thirty years have passed since that August 6 of 1978, when Pope Paul VI died at the Summer Residence in Castel Gandolfo. It was the evening of the day on which the Church celebrates the luminous mystery of the Transfiguration of Christ. In the text he had prepared for the Angelus on August 6 but was unable to deliver, turning his gaze toward Christ transfigured, he wrote: 'That body, which is transfigured before the astonished eyes of the Apostles, is the body of Christ our brother, but it is also our body called to glory. That light, which bathes it, is and also will be our share of inheritance and of splendor. We are called to share such great glory because we are "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pt 1:4)' (L'Osservatore Romano English edition, August 17, 1978, p. 1).

"In commemorating his devout death, I thank God fervently for having given to the Church as Pastor a faithful witness of Christ the Lord, who was so sincerely and profoundly in love with the Church and was so close to the expectations and hopes of the people of his time, and I warmly hope that every member of the People of God will be able to honor his memory with the commitment to a sincere and constant search for truth . . ."


Edge To Edge

by Michael Halm

Edge to Edge Cartoon

Pray The News

May God bless America

"Remember that you have been called to live in freedom — but not a freedom that gives free rein to the flesh. Out of love, place yourselves at one another's service." (Gal 5:13)

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 in thanksgiving for God's many blessings.
  • We pray for the elections to be under the lordship of Jesus.
  • We pray for the faithful departed and the souls in purgatory.
  • We pray in thanksgiving for the ministry of the Popes.
  • We pray in thanksgiving for the ministry of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
  • We pray for the peoples of Africa and that others will offer effective assistance to them.
  • We pray that we will ask God for the grace to forgive others.
  • We pray for married couples to grow in love and holiness.
  • We pray that we will treat others with love and compassion.

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Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378,



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