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My People

Vol. 27, Issue 12, December 2014

"If my people, who are called by My name, humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their evil ways, I will hear them from heaven and pardon their sins and revive their land." — 2 Chronicles 7:14


Growing Threats To Peace In Middle East

On October 4, the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State celebrated mass with apostolic nuncios in several countries in the Middle East. His homily follows:

"Our meeting is the fruit of the peace brought to the world by Christ, who gave Himself for all of us, as the Eucharist which comes to nourish us every day with the newness of His divine life, and is illuminated by the noble and holy figure of St. Francis, a witness to the way of charity, of humility, and of poverty as the privileged paths to take to truly become new beings, capable of comprehending and fulfilling the will of the Father and attaining salvation.

"The Saint from Assisi teaches us the rationale, the courage, and the patience of dialogue, even with those furthest away, in order that, touched by the purity of our intentions, they may amend and desist from their violent and subversive tactics.

"Today we are celebrating this Holy Eucharist with anxiety for what is occurring in several countries in the Middle East.

"We are seriously alarmed at seeing the growing threats to peace, and dismayed at the situation of the Christian communities living in the territories between Syria and Iraq, controlled by an entity which tramples on rights and adopts terroristic methods as it seeks to extend its power.

"These communities, who have lived in those lands since apostolic times, are thus facing situations of grave danger and of open persecution. They are often forced to abandon everything and flee from their homes and their country.

"It is depressing to observe how persistent and active the forces of evil are; what great strides the conviction has made in a few corrupt minds that violence and terror are the methods to employ in order to impose dominion over others, even masked by the pretense of expressing a particular religious viewpoint!

"This is an obvious perversion of genuine religious consciousness with tragic consequences, which calls for a response. The Church cannot remain silent in the face of the persecution suffered by her children, and the international community cannot remain neutral between the assailant and the assailed.

"'Preserve me, O God, for in thee I take refuge' (Ps 16[15]:1). Thus prays the Psalmist. He, who has no shortage of difficulties and violent adversaries, turns confidently to the Lord. He is not dismayed by the wicked and their machinations, because he knows that his life is in God's hands. He knows that his true strength and security is the Lord, who gives him peace and gladness, and who is preparing for him a definitive future of joy. It is a gladness which does not fail even in tribulation and danger, because it is grounded in God. It is a joy like that felt by St. Francis, who identified with the Crucified Christ to the point of receiving the stigmata within his own flesh. It is the gladness of every faithful Christian who knows that History is guided by Providence, and that the forces of evil will not prevail.

"This certainty which makes us rejoice, far from letting us be idle or inactive spectators, spurs us as individuals and as a Christian community, as a Church, to constant and trusting prayer and to implement every practical initiative to raise the awareness of Governments and to inform public opinion. Everything possible should be done to alleviate the situation of our sorely tried brothers and to stop the aggressors. Providence also needs our support and that of our freedom and of our diligence and creativity, of our initiative and our daily effort.

"Persecuted Christians and all those who are suffering unjustly must be able to recognize the Church as the institution that defends them, that prays and acts for them, that is not afraid to assert the truth, that makes itself the voice of the voiceless, defender and support for the abandoned, displaced and discriminated against.

"Indeed, everything depends on God and on His Grace, but it is also necessary to act as if everything depended on us, on our prayer, and on our solidarity.

"I thank you, dear Apostolic Nuncios who work in the Middle East, for having accepted this invitation to come to the Vatican during these days in order to study in depth cum et sub Petro the situation in the countries where you are posted to represent the Holy See. I thank you for your work and your presence, by which you contribute to the peace and understanding among the peoples. The voice of the Holy Father speaks through you. Through you are made clear the actions of the Apostolic See to uphold the right to life and to religious freedom, the cornerstones of human rights. Through your prudent work, awareness is raised among Governments and international organizations with regard to their duty to guarantee peace and security in the manner established by international law, in order to render the aggressors harmless.

"We are all called to commit ourselves to this task for world peace, for the continuity and development of the presence of the Christian communities of the Middle East, for the common good of humanity.

"In the rejoicing hymn that we proclaimed, taken from the passage in Matthew, Jesus thanks and praises the Heavenly Father for having revealed the divine mysteries to babes, to those who have a pure and simple heart (cf. Mt 11:25), and not to those who are closed to the love of God, thinking they do not need it and can do without it. And this revealed mystery is Jesus Christ, in whom the true face of the Father is unveiled and whose yoke is truly easy and whose burden is light, while other yokes are so heavy and inhuman as to crush and disfigure the face of the human being.

"May St. Francis, profoundly identified with Christ Our Peace, and for this reason the prophet of peace and dialogue, intercede for us, help us to be credible witnesses of the Risen Christ. Let us pray to the Lord to convert the hearts of aggressors and bend them to His easy yoke."

Hunger Threatens Peace

Pope Francis stressed that those suffering from hunger and malnutrition are people, not numbers and must be treated with dignity in his message for World Food Day. The Day was observed on October 16. Pope Francis sent a message dated October 16 to Professor Jose Gragiano Da Silva, Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The Pope's message follows:

"Again this year, the World Food Day echoes the cry of our many brothers and sisters who, in many parts of the world, do not have enough to eat every day. This causes us to reflect on the enormous quantity of food wasted, on the produce destroyed and on price speculation in the name of the god of profit. This is one of the most dramatic paradoxes of our time which we are witnessing helplessly and often with indifference, incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of other people's pain, 'as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own" (Gaudium Evangelii, 54).

"Despite the progress that is being made in many countries, recent data continue to indicate a troubling situation, compounded by the general reduction of public development aid. But looking beyond those statistics, one notes an aspect of the problem that has not yet received all due consideration when formulating policies and plans of action: those who suffer due to food insecurity and malnutrition are people, not numbers, and precisely because of their dignity as people, they come before any calculation or economic project.

"The theme proposed by the FAO for this year's World Food Day — Family Farming: Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth — highlights the need to begin with people, as individuals or as groups, to propose new forms and methods of managing the different aspects of nutrition. Specifically, it is necessary to further acknowledge the role of the rural family, and to develop its full potential. This year dedicated to family agriculture, which is now coming to a close, serves to ascertain once again that the rural family is able to satisfy the demand for food without destroying the resources of Creation. However, to this end, we must take into account not only their technical necessities, but also their human, spiritual, social needs, and we must learn from their experience, from their capacity to work, and most of all, from that bond of love, of solidarity, and of generosity that which exists between its members and which is called to become a model for life in society.

"Indeed, the family promotes dialogue among the different generations and provides the foundation for true social integration, apart from representing that hoped-for synergy between agricultural work and substantiability. Who more than the rural family is concerned with preserving nature for generations to come? And who more than the rural family has at heart cohesion between people and social groups? Certainly the norms and initiatives in favor of the family on a local, national, and international level are still very far from their true needs and this is a gap to fill. It is important that the rural family is spoken about and that the international years are celebrated to recall its relevance, but this is not enough: these reflections must be followed by concrete initiatives.

"Defending rural communities from the serious threats posed by human action or natural disasters must be a strategy but rather a from of permanent action aimed at promoting their participation in decision-making, at making appropriate technologies available, and extending their use, always with respect for the natural environment. Acting in this way can alter the methods of international cooperation and aid for the hungry and malnourished.

"Never more than at this moment has the world been in need of unity among people and among nations in order to overcome the divisions that exist and the current conflicts, and above all to seek concrete ways out of a crisis that is global, but whose burden falls mostly on the poor. This is demonstrated precisely by food insecurity: although it is true that it interests all countries to a varying degree, it nevertheless affects, first and foremost, the weakest part of the world's population. Let us consider the men and women, of every age and condition, who are victims of bloody conflicts and their consequent devastation and misery, including the lack of housing, medical care, and education, who lose every hope of a dignified life. We have an obligation towards these people, of solidarity and sharing. These obligations cannot be limited to food distribution which can only be a 'technical' remedy, more or less effective, but that terminates when what is set aside for this purpose runs out.

"Instead, sharing means to be a neighbor to all human beings, to recognize a common dignity, to understand needs and sustain them in finding a remedy, with the same spirit of love which is lived in the family. This same love leads us to preserve Creation as the most precious common good on which depends not the abstract future of the planet but the life of the human family to which it has been entrusted. This consideration calls for an education and formation capable of integrating various cultural approaches, customs, local ways of working without substituting them in the name of an alleged cultural or technical superiority.

"To defeat hunger, is not enough to meet the needs of those who are less fortunate or to help through aid and donations those who live in situations of emergency. It is instead necessary to change the paradigm of aid and of development policies, to modify the international laws regarding the production and trade of agricultural products, guaranteeing, to countries in which agriculture represents the foundation of the economy and of survival, the self-determination of their own agriculture market.

"How long will we continue to defend systems of production and consumption which exclude most of the world's population even from the crumbs which fall from the tables of the rich? The time has come to think and decide, beginning with each person and community rather than from market trends. Therefore there must be a change in the concept of work, goals, and economic activity, food production, and environmental protection. This is perhaps the only possibility for building an authentic future of peace, which today is also threatened by food insecurity.

"This approach, which allows us to glimpse a new kind of cooperation, must involve and be of interest to States, international institutions and organizations of civil society, as well as communities of believers that, with their many works, live together with the least and share the same situations and needs, frustrations, and hopes.

"The Catholic Church, for her part, while pursuing her charitable works on the different continents, remains available to offer, enlighten, and accompany both the elaboration of policies and their practical implementation, aware that faith becomes visible by putting into practice God's plan for the human family and for the world through that profound and real fraternity that is not exclusive to Christians, but that includes all peoples.

"May the Almighty bless the FAO, its Member States and those who give the best of themselves to feed the world and care for the earth for the benefit of all."

Seek Unity, Don't Fear Diversity

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

Vatican City (VIS) - "Seek the unity which is the work of the Holy Spirit and do not be afraid of diversity," said Pope Francis in his address to a thousand members of the Catholic Fraternity of the Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowship, who are about to begin their Sixteenth International Conference on the theme "Praise and Worship for a New Evangelization."

"Unity does not imply uniformity; it does not necessarily mean doing everything together or thinking in the same way," he underlined. "Nor does it signify a loss of identity. Unity in diversity is actually the opposite: it involves the joyful recognition and acceptance of the various gifts which the Holy Spirit gives to each one and the placing of these gifts at the service of all members of the Church. It means knowing how to listen, to accept differences, and having the freedom to think differently and express oneself with complete respect towards the other who is my brother or sister. Do not be afraid of differences!"

Referring to the program, where the names of the Communities are mentioned, he noted that in the introduction there is the phrase, "to share the Baptism in the Holy Spirit with the whole Church," and reiterated that the Church and all Christians need to open their hearts to the sanctifying action of the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit ... reveals Jesus Christ to us, and leads us to a personal encounter with him. ... Is this your experience? Share it with others! In order to share this experience, you must live it and bear witness to it!"

"Praise is the 'breath' which gives us life, because it is intimacy with God, an intimacy that grows through daily praise," continued the Holy Father, explaining how spiritual life "works" by analogy with human respiration. "Breathing is made up of two stages: inhaling, the intake of air, and exhaling, the letting out of this air. The spiritual life is fed, nourished, by prayer and is expressed outwardly through mission: inhaling and exhaling. When we inhale, by prayer, we receive the fresh air of the Holy Spirit. When exhaling this air, we announce Jesus Christ risen by the same Spirit. No one can live without breathing. It is the same for the Christian: without praise and mission there is no Christian life. And with praise, worship. We rarely speak about worship. What do we do when we pray? We ask things of God, we give thanks ... But worshipping and adoring God is part of breathing – praise and worship."

The Pope emphasized that "Charismatic Renewal has reminded the Church of the necessity and importance of the prayer of praise," which is "the recognition of the Lordship of God over us and over all creation expressed through dance, music and song. ... The prayer of praise bears fruit in us. Sarah danced as she celebrated her fertility – at the age of ninety! This fruitfulness gives praise to God. ... Together with the prayer of praise, the prayer of intercession is, in these days, a cry to the Father for our Christian brothers and sisters who are persecuted and murdered, and for the cause of peace in our turbulent world."

"Charismatic Renewal is, by its very nature, ecumenical," he remarked, citing the words of Blessed Paul VI: "The power of evangelization will find itself considerably diminished if those who proclaim the Gospel are divided among themselves in all sorts of ways. Is this not perhaps one of the great sicknesses of evangelization today? The Lord's spiritual testament tells us that unity among his followers is not only the proof that we are his but also the proof that he is sent by the Father. It is the test of the credibility of Christians and of Christ himself. Yes, the destiny of evangelization is certainly bound up with the witness of unity given by the Church' ".

Spiritual ecumenism, he concluded, is "praying and proclaiming together that Jesus is Lord, and coming together to help the poor in all their poverty. We must not forget that today the blood of Jesus, poured out by many Christian martyrs in various parts of the world, calls us and compels us towards the goal of unity. For persecutors, we are not divided: we are not Lutherans, Orthodox, Evangelicals, Catholics. No! We are one. For persecutors, we are Christians. It is an ecumenism of blood that we live today!"

"Every Single Christmas"

by Leiann Spontaneo

On the IgnitumToday website, I found an article that really hit home called, "Singles! Advent is Our Time." The article states, "As another glorious Christmas approaches, many of us, in the single state of life, are experiencing mixed emotions. Who doesn't enjoy the warm glow of the season? Whether it's the extra regard, for the less fortunate, family time, seasonal goodies, or blockbuster movie releases that get your heart a-flutter, there's something for everyone this time of year. But Christmas can also be a painful reminder of what we are lacking in our lives. As holiday gatherings which you must awkwardly attend alone and newly engaged couples crop up, the merry can quickly get hairy. That, my dear Catholic single friends, is where Advent comes in.

We are blessed with an entire season leading up to the joyful celebration of Christmas that possesses quite a different tone. Patience. Longing. Reflection. Vigilance. Hope . . . As Morrow states in Christian Courtship In An Over Sexed World (as I will quote him extremely), "We might imagine Jesus saying, to the single Christian, 'Do not worry about when or whom you are to marry. Your heavenly Father knows you want a good devout spouse. See first His Kingdom and His righteous-ness and this will be given you as well.'"

On Catholic Online, in an article titled, "Christian courtship: Different from the dating game," Henrietta Gomes quotes Father Jerome Magat saying, '. . . now dating, for some, has become a mere hobby . . .'"

Following, Morrow states that even those who live chastely have to deal with the problem of disrespect . . . when a man treats woman disrespectfully she needs to withdraw a bit and say something like, 'We need to talk,' then tell him in a quiet time why she is unhappy. If he doesn't shape up after several warnings, she needs to tell him. 'This is not working out so well. I think we should go out with other people.' She must be ready to follow through and forget him . . . every devout Christian woman should have a genuine, while humble, awareness of her great value - that she is a great prize.

Morrow then goes on to say, "If a man just won't pick up on the behavior thing, you need to tell him goodbye, nicely. Perhaps you'll plant a seed that will help him reform and become a good husband for someone else."

There are two sets of dating rules/action plans one has come across and would like to list for you singles to think about. On Catholic Answers Forms, a person calling themselves TrueLight gave twelve (12) safety rules for Catholic dating, such as 1. Be sure your life is based firmly on prayer. 2.) Never be alone together. 3.) Watch your conversations. 4.) Make your time together active time. 5.) Make sure your activities are wholesome. 6.) Dress appropriately and modestly. 7.) Avoid actions that cause arousal. 8.) Be honest about yourself. 9.) Be honest with yourself. 10.) Keep any kisses to a quick peck. 11.) End it as soon as your realize this is not the person for you. 12.) Don't be secretive about your dating. Whereas, Morrow's action plan is 1. Commit to living a real Christian chastity no matter what you have done in the past. 2.) Take care of yourself physically, spiritually, and mentally. Eat right, get your sleep, get plenty of exercise and drink very little alcohol. Practice a regular prayer routine and have some real fun every week. 3.) Develop a positive Christian outlook toward life knowing that such an attitude makes you more attractive. 4.) Take charge of your social life; don't simply take what comes. 5.) Ladies, take charge of your dealing with men. Don't presume you must settle. Tell the men politely what you like and don't like. 6.) Be polite with everyone and 7.) End relationships that are going nowhere.

Finally, Marge Fenelon of Cudahy, Wisconsin, wrote on the internet, quoting Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical, Casti Connubii (On Christian Marriage), "Lastly, let them not omit to ask the prudent advice of their parents with regard to the partner and let them regard this advice, in no light manner, in order that by their mature knowledge and experience of human affairs, they may guard against a disastrous choice and on the threshold of matrimony, may receive more abundantly the divine blessing of the Commandment, 'Honor they Father and thy mother' . . . Fenelon says, "Parents help their children to discern true love by modeling healthy and holy love themselves." She then quotes Mark Hart as stating, "Parents should be affectionate in front of their kids. They should model healthy communication, even healthy 'arguing' and 'disagreeing,' constant gentleness, mercy, compassion, and mutual respect. In short, parents should 'become' the person they desire their children to 'bring home.'

Blessings to you this holiday season!

Martyrs Offer Great Witness

by Michael Halm

"Divine charity is the most precious gift of the Heart of Christ and of His Spirit: It is this which imparted to the Apostles and martyrs that fortitude, by the strength of which they fought their battles like heroes till death in order to preach the truth of the Gospel and bear witness to it by the shedding of their blood."

Pope Pius XII,
Haurietis Aquas

Martyrs are not easily identified until their deaths, but they are certainly a crowd of witnesses throughout history, throughout the world. In Faces of Holiness Ann Ball tells of Fr. David Galvan, who dropped out of the seminary and even got drunk and jailed for hitting his girlfriend. After a year's probation he was allowed to return and ordained in 1909. He was arrested for aiding the wounded and dying when persecutions started in Guadalajara. Going to his execution by firing squad he said, "What greater glory is there than to die saving a soul?"

Jacque Fesch was an atheist like his father. After being separated from a wife he married when she became pregnant, he tried armed robbery After being wounded himself when the gun discharged when he hit the shopkeeper, he then killed a policeman, before his blood trail led other police to him.

His Catholic mother offered her suffering from terminal cancer that he might die well. His awaiting his execution by beheading in 1959 he wrote, "Now, He is all that matters . . . I am amazed and surprised at the change grace has affected in me.

"Above all I have wanted to make you understand the Cross. Crucified love! Was there ever a greater crime? It is this sacrifice which saves us and it is through it that Jesus continues to live here below."

In Letters from the Saints (Hawthorn Books, Inc.) we have a wonderful glimpse into Fr. Theophane Venard's last days.

"Adieu, dearest father and sister, bothers, do not mourn, do not shed tears over me, live the years that lie ahead in unity and love. One day we shall meet one another again in Heaven.

"The mandarin treated me with every consideration. His brother came at least ten times to try to persuade me to trample the cross under foot rather than see me die young. When the judges asked again for the last time, he said, "What! I have preached the religion of the cross all my life until this very hour, and you can expect me to objure it now? I do not set so high a price upon this world's pleasures as to want to purchase them by apostasy."

To his family he wrote, "Adieu, dearest father, sister, brother . . . , do not mourn . . . One day we shall meet one another again in Heaven.

"Within a few short hours my soul will quit this Earth, exile over, and battle won. I shall mount upwards and enter into our true home. There among God's elect I shall gaze upon what eye of man cannot imagine, hear undreamt - of harmonies, enjoy a happiness the heart cannot remotely comprehend."

He had been fortified by his cooks who smuggled the Eucharist to him during his imprisonment and another priest in disguise heard his last confession. On the way to his beheading he sang the Magnificent.

The persecution of Christians in Viet Nam began in 1630. By 1864 an estimated 300,000 were martyred, many by beheading, often after horrible tortures, reminiscent of Maccabees or the daily news. In St. John Paul's Book of Saints by Matthew, Margaret, and Stephen Bunson are listed man of these martyrs of which very little is known.

Fr. John Charles Cornay was framed with weapons planted in his garden. He was tortured and forced to watch other Christians being tortured, but kept the faith. Before his beheading in 1837, he wrote his parents, "Be comforted; soon it will all be over and I shall be waiting for you in Heaven."

Agnes Thanh Thi Le was sentenced to be trampled by an elephant in 1841. When going to her death she requested beautiful clothes and ebony fan. When asked why, she answered, "I go to meet the Divine Husband."

Bishop Melchior Garcia Sampedes watched as his two servers were beheaded. When he would not abandon the Faith, he was executed with a dull blade. For twelve blows he repeated the name "Jesus!" and received another fifteen before it as over. When he was buried, elephants refuse to walk on his grave.

Francis Igleby and his companions were martyred in the persecutions in England in 1586. Jesuit Roch Gonzalez was martyred by a hatchet in the back in Paraquay in 1628. Maria Pilar of St. Francis Borgia and her companion Carmelite sisters of Guadalajara were shot in 1936. Fr. Peter Chang Wen Chao was martyred in 1948 and Bishop Vincent Eugene Bossilkov in 1952.

Bishop Lawrence Imbert, called "Bom" ("Good"), gave himself up rather than have others die trying to save him. After severe beatings he was beheaded with Frs. Philibert Maubant and James Honore Chastan in 1839 Korea.

Bishop Valentine Berriochora knew he risked his life by accepting the assignment to the Philippines. After two years of torture he was beheaded with Bishop Jerome Hermosilla in 1861. In 1940 Philip Siphong and Srs. Agnes Phila, Bibiana Khamphai, Maria Phon, and Cecilia Butsi were martyred in Thailand.

Marek Krizin, a Croat, Stephan Pongracz, a Hungarian, and Melchior Grodecz, a Czech, were martyred together in Slovakia in 1619. Sr. Rosalie du Verdier de la Sorinire and her twenty-six companions were killed in France 1794. Fr. Felipe de Jesus Munarriz and fifth companions were martyred in Barbastro, Spain, in 1936. There is even a St. Casanova, Ignazio Casanova, martyred with the Scalopian martyrs in 1936.

Learn From St. Teresa Of Avila

March 28, 2015, will mark the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila. Pope Francis sent a message, dated October 15, St. Teresa's feast day to Bishop Jesus Garcia Burillo of Avila, Spain. The message, which marked the opening of the Teresian Jubilee Year, follows:

"On March 28, 1515 in Ávila, a baby was born who in time would become known as St. Teresa of Jesus. As the fifth centenary of her birth approaches, I turn my gaze to that city to give thanks to God for the gift of this great woman and to encourage the faithful of the beloved Diocese of Ávila and all the people of Spain to learn the history of this distinguished Foundress, as well as to read her books which, along with her daughters in the numerous Carmelite convents scattered throughout the world, continue to tell us who and how Mother Teresa was and what she can teach us men and women of today.

"At the school of the saintly traveller, we learn how to be pilgrims. The image of a path can very well summarize the lesson of her life and her work. Teresa understood life as a way of perfection, along which God leads man, from task to task, up to Him and, at the same time, puts him on a journey toward mankind. Along which paths does the Lord wish to lead us, following in the footsteps of St. Teresa who takes us by the hand? I would like to recall four that do me much good: those of joy, of prayer, of fraternity, and of time itself.

"Teresa of Jesus asks her Sisters to 'go cheerfully about whatever services you are ordered to do' (The Way of Perfection 18, 5). True holiness is a joy, for 'an unhappy saint is a pitiful saint.' Saints, before being courageous heroes, are the fruit of God's grace to mankind. Every saint shows us a feature of the multifaceted face of God. In St. Teresa we contemplate God, who, being the 'sovereign Lord, of majesty supreme' (Poems 2), reveals Himself close and a companion and feels joy conversing with men: God becomes joyful with us. And feeling His love, a contagious and unconcealable joy was born in the Saint that she radiated around her. This joy is a journey that must be followed throughout life. It is not instantaneous, superficial, tumultuous. It must already be sought by 'at the beginning' (Life 13, 1). Express the inner joy of the soul, it is humble and 'modest' (cf. The Book of Foundations 12, 1). It is not reached by an easy shortcut that bypasses sacrifice, suffering or the cross, but is found by enduring labor and pain (cf. Life 6, 2; 30, 8), looking to the Crucifix and seeking the Risen One (cf. The Way of Perfection 26, 4). For this reason St. Teresa's joy is neither selfish nor self-referential. Like that of heaven, it consists in the 'joy in the rejoicings of all' (The Way of Perfection 30, 5), placing oneself at the service of others with unselfish love. As she told one of her monasteries in difficulty, the Saint would also tell us today, especially the young: 'Do not stop going cheerfully about!' (Letter 284, 4). The Gospel is not a bag of lead which one drags arduously, but a font of joy which fills the heart with God and impels it to serve one's brothers!

"The Saint also travelled the path of prayer, which she beautifully defined as 'being on terms of friendship with God, frequently conversing in secret with Him who, we know, loves us' (Life 8, 5). When times are 'difficult,' 'the friends of God should be strong' in order to support the weak (Life 15, 5). To pray is not a means of escape, nor even to place oneself in a bubble or to isolate oneself, but to go forward in a friendship; and the more this friendship grows, the more one comes into contact with the Lord, the 'true Friend' and faithful 'companion' on the journey, with whom 'everything can be borne,' because, always, 'He helps, He strengthens, He never fails' (Life 22, 9). In order to pray, 'it is not so essential to think much as to love much' (Interior Castle IV, 1, 7), in turning one's eyes in order to look at those who do not fail to look lovingly at us and to patiently support us (cf. The Way of Perfection 26, 3-4). God is able to lead souls to Himself through many roads, but prayer is 'a safe way' (Life 13, 19). Leaving it means getting lost (cf. Life 19, 6). This counsel of the Saint is of perennial relevance. Thus, go forth along the path of prayer, with determination, without stopping, until the end! This applies particularly to all religious who are committed to consecrated life. In a culture of the provisional, you live the faith of 'for ever, ever, ever' (Life 1, 4); in a world without hope, you demonstrate the fruitfulness of a 'heart with love fast bound' (Poems 5); and in a society with so many idols, you witness that 'God alone suffices' (Poems 9). We cannot undertake this journey alone, but together. For the reformer Saint, the path of prayer passes by the way of fraternity in the bosom of the Mother Church. Her providential response to this, born of divine inspiration and of her feminine intuition, to the problems of the Church and of the society of her time was to: to establish small communities of women who, by imitating the 'Apostolic College,' followed Christ, living the Gospel in a simple way and supporting all the Church with a life made prayer. For this reason 'sisters,' were 'brought here' (The Way of Perfection 8, 1) and this was the promise: 'that Christ would be in the midst of us; (Life 32, 14). What a beautiful definition of fraternity in the Church: to journey together with Christ as brothers! To this end, Teresa of Jesus does not recommend many things to us, only three: love for each other, detachment from everything, and to have true humility, 'which, although I put it last, is the most important of the three and embraces all the rest' (The Way of Perfection 4, 4). In these times, how I should like there to be more fraternal Christian communities where one makes this journey: going forth in the truth of the humility that frees us from ourselves in order to love others more and better, above all the poor! There is nothing more beautiful than to live and die as children of this Mother Church! Precisely because she is mother with open doors, the Church is always on the way toward men to lead them to the 'living water' (cf. Jn 4:10) that irrigates the garden of their thirsty heart. The holy writer and master of prayer was, at the same time, Foundress and missionary on the streets of Spain. Her mystic experience did not separate her from the world nor from the concerns of the people. On the contrary, it gave her new impetus and courage for daily work and duties, because 'the Lord goes along with you' even 'amidst the pots and pans' (The Book of the Foundations 5, 8). She experienced the difficulties of her time — which was so complicated — without giving in to the temptation to bitter complaining, but rather, accepting it in faith as an opportunity to take a step forward on the journey. For 'at all times God is ever ready to bestow good favors upon those who serve him in earnest' (The Book of the Foundations 4, 5). Today Teresa tells us: pray more in order to truly understand what is happening around you and thus to act better. Prayer conquers pessimism and generates good initiatives (cf. Interior Castle VII 4, 6). This is Teresian realism, which requires work instead of emotions, and love instead of dreams; the realism of humble love in the face of anxious asceticism! At times the Saint shortens her pleasant letters saying: 'We are on the path' (Letter 469, 7.9), to express the urgency of continuing the task begun until the end. When the world is aflame, one cannot waste time on affairs of little importance. If only everyone were infected by this holy haste to go out to journey along the paths of our time, with the Gospel in hand and the Spirit in the heart!

"'It is time to walk!' (Anna de san Bartolomeo, Últimas acciones de la vida de santa Teresa). These were the words St. Teresa of Ávila said shortly before her death, which summarize her life and become for us, especially for the Carmelite Family, for her fellow citizens and for all the people of Spain, a precious legacy to be treasured and enriched.

"Dear Brother, with my cordial greeting, I say to all: 'It is time to walk,' to set out on the paths of joy, of prayer, of fraternity, of time lived as grace! Let us be taken by the hand of St. Teresa as we go through the journey of life. May her footsteps always lead us to Jesus. I ask you, please, to pray for me, for I need it. May Jesus bless you and may the Virgin Mary protect you!"

Light to the Nations

(A Christian Perspective on World News)


Vatican City (VIS) - After praying the Angelus, the Pope commented that 25 years ago today (November 9), on November 8, 1989, saw the fall of the Berlin Wall "which had long divided the city in two and was a symbol of the ideological division of Europe and the entire world. It took place suddenly, but it had been made possible by the long and tireless efforts of many people who fought, prayed, and suffered for it; some of them even sacrificed their lives". Among these people, St. John Paul II played a central role. Let us pray that, with the Lord's help and the collaboration of all persons of good will, a culture of encounter may become ever more widespread, able to bring down all the walls that continue to divide the world; and that innocent people will never more be persecuted and even killed for their beliefs and their religion. Where there is a wall, there is a closed heart. We need bridges, not walls!"

He added that today Italy holds a day of thanksgiving, the theme of which this year is "Feed the planet, energy for life", and the Holy Father joined with the bishops in expressing his hope that renewed efforts might ensure "that no-one lacks the daily sustenance that God gives to all." He added, "I assure my closeness to the world of agriculture, and urge you to cultivate the land in a sustainable and fair way. In this context, the Diocese of Rome is holding a day for the protection of the creation, the aim of which is to promote lifestyles based on respect for the environment, reaffirming the alliance between human beings, guardians of creation, and the Creator."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

annulment process must be kept separate

Vatican City (VIS) - Before arriving in St. Peter's Square for the usual Wednesday morning (November 5) general audience, Pope Francis received in audience the participants in the course on marriage organized by the Roman Rota, in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. The Pope commented that during the recent Synod of Bishops, there had been discussions regarding the procedures for annulment and the need to streamline them for reasons of justice. Francis also spoke of the many people who wait for years for a judgement to be reached. "Sometimes the procedures are very long and difficult, which does not help matters, and people give up."

The Pontiff emphasized the importance of this type of course and the need to be careful to ensure that the procedures do not become linked to economic interests, referring to public scandals. He noted that during the Synod some proposals had been made regarding the costs of the process. "When spiritual interest is attached to economic interests, then it not a matter of God." He concluded, "The Mother Church has enough generosity to be able to provide justice freely, as we are freely justified by Jesus Christ. This point is important - these two issues must be separate."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

solidarity to eradicate poverty

Vatican City (VIS) - Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations in New York, spoke at the 69th Session of the General Assembly held on October 23, regarding the "Eradication of Poverty."

Speaking in English, the nuncio expressed the Holy See delegation's belief that "countries should develop evidence-based policies and strategies to combat extreme poverty, rather than relying on pre-conceived one-size-fits-all solutions. Analyses and suggested solutions need to be based on on-the-ground expertise and lived experience, rather than on imposed ready-made solutions from the outside, which are not always devoid of ideological colorings."

He also remarked that sustainable development "requires the participation of all in the life of families, communities, organizations, and societies. Participation is the antidote to exclusion, be it social, political, economic, or cultural." Another barrier to sustainable development, he noted, is "the exclusion of women from equal and active participation in the development of their communities. Excluding women and girls from education and subjecting them to violence and discrimination violates their inherent dignity and fundamental human rights."

"My delegation wishes to highlight that poverty is not mere exclusion from economic development; it is as multifaceted and multidimensional as the human person . . . Other than its more obvious economic expression, poverty also manifests itself in the educational, social, political, cultural, and spiritual dimensions of life. ... Development is more than the sum total of resources invested into development projects and their measurable material results. ... In our efforts to eradicate poverty, we must always return to the foundational principle of our efforts, namely to promote the authentic development of the whole person and of all peoples. Each of us needs to contribute. Each of us can benefit. This is solidarity."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

LACK of food isn't hunger's root cause

Vatican City (VIS) - Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Holy See Permanent Observer at the United Nations, spoke at the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly on October 28, on the theme of "Agriculture development, food security, and nutrition."

The nuncio observed that according to the Secretary General's report, since 1990 there has been a 17% decrease in the number of people suffering from chronic hunger. However, he added, "it also means that we still have almost 850 million people suffering from acute hunger. The number is already shocking in itself, but what must shock us even more is the fact that behind those numbers are real people, with their fundamental dignity and rights. Thus, eradicating hunger is not only a high priority development goal; it is a moral imperative."

However, he added, "it is not for lack of food in the world that they suffer acute hunger, because the current levels of world food production are sufficient to feed everyone. The problem lies elsewhere, such as in the lack of conservation technologies among smallholder producers, in weak or absent government support to incentivize the commercialization of products, or in the lack of infrastructure for better food distribution and marketing."

He remarked that the whole "United Nations family" must renew its efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the world, putting it at the forefront of its collective efforts. "It is for this reason that the Holy See welcomes the incorporation of food security, nutrition, and sustainable agriculture as components of the sustainable development goals. ... The Holy See also welcomes the focus that the report of the Secretary General on Agricultural Development, Food Security, and Nutrition puts on those regions of the world where hunger and malnutrition are still at unacceptable levels. The Holy See also appreciates the report's focus on groups most vulnerable to malnutrition, like pregnant women and children below five years old."

He continued, "The theme of this year's World Food Day tells us that the family is key in the fight to end hunger. ... This recognition of the role of the family must be accompanied by policies and initiatives that really respond to the needs of farming families and communities." He concluded by reminding those present that an international conference on nutrition will be held in Rome next month, aiming to bring together "government leaders, other top-level policy-makers, and representatives of intergovernmental organizations and civil society, to take stock of progress made in improving nutrition and to seek new ways to boost national and global efforts to improve health."

(Source: Vatican Information Service)

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 peace throughout the world and especially in the Middle East.
  • We pray for an end to war, violence, and terrorism.
  • We pray for persecuted Christians throughout the world.
  • We pray for the elderly to be loved, valued, and appreciated.
  • We pray that there will be many conversions this Christmas.
  • We pray for all families to grow in holiness.
  • We pray for all to have warm shelter in cold weather.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, and all attacks against life.
  • We pray for the sick, suffering, and marginalized.
  • We pray that there will be a creative solution to the problem of hunger and for an end to hunger.
  • We pray for a spirit of sharing and forgiveness.

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