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My People

Vol. 30, Issue 1, January 2017

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


January 22 marks the 44th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v Wade decision legalizing abortion. Pro-lifers observe this date every year by marching and praying for life. This file photo shows a march in Washington, D.C.

Don't Close Door Of Mercy

The Church celebrated the feast of Christ the King and the end of the Holy Year of Mercy on Sunday, November 20. Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Vatican City. His homily follows:

"The Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, is the crown of the liturgical year and this Holy Year of Mercy. The Gospel in fact presents the kingship of Jesus as the culmination of His saving work, and it does so in a surprising way. 'The Christ of God, the Chosen One, the King' (Lk 23:35,37) appears without power or glory: He is on the cross, where He seems more to be conquered than conqueror. His kingship is paradoxical: His throne is the cross; His crown is made of thorns; He has no sceptre, but a reed is put into His hand; He does not have luxurious clothing, but is stripped of His tunic; He wears no shiny rings on His fingers, but His hands are pierced with nails; He has no treasure, but is sold for thirty pieces of silver.

"Jesus' reign is truly not of this world (cf. Jn 18:36); but for this reason, Saint Paul tells us in the Second Reading, we find redemption and forgiveness (cf. Col 1:13-14). For the grandeur of His kingdom is not power as defined by this world, but the love of God, a love capable of encountering and healing all things. Christ lowered Himself to us out of this love, He lived our human misery, He suffered the lowest point of our human condition: injustice, betrayal, abandonment; He experienced death, the tomb, hell. And so our King went to the ends of the universe in order to embrace and save every living being. He did not condemn us, nor did He conquer us, and He never disregarded our freedom, but He paved the way with a humble love that forgives all things, hopes all things, sustains all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:7). This love alone overcame and continues to overcome our worst enemies: sin, death, fear.

"... Today we proclaim this singular victory, by which Jesus became the King of every age, the Lord of history: with the sole power of love, which is the nature of God, His very life, and which has no end (cf. 1 Cor 13:8). We joyfully share the splendor of having Jesus as our King: His rule of love transforms sin into grace, death into resurrection, fear into trust.

"It would mean very little, however, if we believed Jesus was King of the universe, but did not make Him Lord of our lives: all this is empty if we do not personally accept Jesus and if we do not also accept His way of being King. The people presented to us in today's Gospel, however, help us. In addition to Jesus, three figures appear: the people who are looking on, those near the cross, and the criminal crucified next to Jesus.

"First, the people: the Gospel says that 'the people stood by, watching' (Lk 23:35): no one says a word, no one draws any closer. The people keep their distance, just to see what is happening. They are the same people who were pressing in on Jesus when they needed something, and who now keep their distance. Given the circumstances of our lives and our unfulfilled expectations, we too can be tempted to keep our distance from Jesus' kingship, to not accept completely the scandal of His humble love, which unsettles and disturbs us. We prefer to remain at the window, to stand apart, rather than draw near and be with Him. A people who are holy, however, who have Jesus as their King, are called to follow His way of tangible love; they are called to ask themselves, each one each day: 'What does love ask of me, where is it urging me to go? What answer am I giving Jesus with my life?'

"There is a second group, which includes various individuals: the leaders of the people, the soldiers, and a criminal. They all mock Jesus. They provoke Him in the same way: 'Save yourself!' (Lk 23:35,37,39). This temptation is worse than that of the people. They tempt Jesus, just as the devil did at the beginning of the Gospel (cf. Lk 4:1-13), to give up reigning as God wills, and instead to reign according to the world's ways: to come down from the cross and destroy His enemies! If He is God, let Him show His power and superiority! This temptation is a direct attack on love: 'save yourself' (vv. 37,39); not others, but yourself. Claim triumph for yourself with Your power, with Your glory, with Your victory. It is the most terrible temptation, the first and the last of the Gospel. When confronted with this attack on His very way of being, Jesus does not speak, He does not react. He does not defend Himself, He does not try to convince them, He does not mount a defense of His kingship. He continues rather to love; He forgives, He lives this moment of trial according to the Father's will, certain that love will bear fruit.

"In order to receive the kingship of Jesus, we are called to struggle against this temptation, called to fix our gaze on the Crucified One, to become ever more faithful to Him. How many times, even among ourselves, do we seek out the comforts and certainties offered by the world. How many times are we tempted to come down from the Cross. The lure of power and success seem an easy, quick way to spread the Gospel; we soon forget how the Kingdom of God works. This Year of Mercy invites us to rediscover the core, to return to what is essential. This time of mercy calls us to look to the true face of our King, the one that shines out at Easter, and to rediscover the youthful, beautiful face of the Church, the face that is radiant when it is welcoming, free, faithful, poor in means but rich in love, on mission. Mercy, which takes us to the heart of the Gospel, urges us to give up habits and practices which may be obstacles to serving the Kingdom of God; mercy urges us to orient ourselves only in the perennial and humble kingship of Jesus, not in submission to the precarious regalities and changing powers of every age.

"In the Gospel another person appears, closer to Jesus, the thief who begs Him: 'Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom' (v. 42). This person, simply looking at Jesus, believed in His kingdom. He was not closed in on himself, but rather - with his errors, his sins and his troubles - he turned to Jesus. He asked to be remembered, and he experienced God's mercy: 'Today you will be with Me in paradise' (v. 43). As soon as we give God the chance, He remembers us. He is ready to completely and forever cancel our sin, because His memory - unlike our own - does not record evil that has been done or keep score of injustices experienced. God has no memory of sin, but only of us, of each of us, we who are His beloved children. And He believes that it is always possible to start anew, to raise ourselves up.

"Let us also ask for the gift of this open and living memory. Let us ask for the grace of never closing the doors of reconciliation and pardon, but rather of knowing how to go beyond evil and differences, opening every possible pathway of hope. As God believes in us, infinitely beyond any merits we have, so too we are called to instil hope and provide opportunities to others. Because even if the Holy Door closes, the true door of mercy which is the heart of Christ always remains open wide for us. From the lacerated side of the Risen One until the very end of time flow mercy, consolation, and hope.

"So many pilgrims have crossed the threshold of the Holy Doors, and far away from the clamor of the daily news they have tasted the great goodness of the Lord. We give thanks for this, as we recall how we have received mercy in order to be merciful, in order that we too may become instruments of mercy. Let us go forward on this road together. May our Blessed Lady accompany us, she who was also close to the Cross, she who gave birth to us there as the tender Mother of the Church, who desires to gather all under her mantle. Beneath the Cross, she saw the good thief receive pardon, and she took Jesus' disciple as her son. She is Mother of Mercy, to whom we entrust ourselves: every situation we are in, every prayer we make, when lifted up to His merciful eyes, will find an answer."

No Justice, No Peace

Pope Francis addressed the plight of poor, homeless, marginalized people in a November 13 homily. The occasion was the Jubilee for the Social Excluded in Vatican City.

The Pope's homily follows:

" 'For you ... the sun of justice shall rise, with healing in its wings' (Mal 4:2). The words of the Prophet Malachi, which we heard in the first reading, shed light on today's Jubilee. They come to us from the last page of the last Old Testament prophet. They are words directed to those who trust in the Lord, who place their hope in Him, who see in Him life's greatest good and refuse to live only for themselves and their own interests. For those who are materially poor but rich in God, the sun of justice will rise. These are the poor in spirit, to whom Jesus promised the kingdom of heaven (cf. Mt 5:3) and whom God, through the words of the Prophet Malachi, calls 'my special possession' (Mal 3:17). The prophet contrasts them with the proud, those who seek a secure life in their self-sufficiency and their earthly possessions. This last page of the Old Testament raises challenging questions about the ultimate meaning of life: where do I look for security? In the Lord or in other forms of security not pleasing to God? Where is my life headed, what does my heart long for? The Lord of life or ephemeral things that cannot satisfy?

"Similar questions appear in today's Gospel. Jesus is in Jerusalem for the last and most important page of his earthly life: His death and resurrection. He is in the precincts of the Temple, 'adorned with noble stones and offerings' (Lk 21:5). People were speaking of the beautiful exterior of the temple, when Jesus says: 'The days will come when there shall not be left here one stone upon another' (v. 6). He adds that there will be no lack of conflicts, famine, convulsions on earth, and in the heavens. Jesus does not want to frighten us, but to tell us that everything we now see will inevitably pass away. Even the strongest kingdoms, the most sacred buildings and the surest realities of this world do not last for ever; sooner or later they fall.

"In response, people immediately put two questions to the Master: 'When will this be, and what will be the sign?' (v. 7). When and what ... We are constantly driven by curiosity: we want to know when and we want to see signs. Yet Jesus does not care for such curiosity. On the contrary, He exhorts us not to be taken in by apocalyptic preachers. Those who follow Jesus pay no heed to prophets of doom, the nonsense of horoscopes, or terrifying sermons and predictions that distract from the truly important things. Amid the din of so many voices, the Lord asks us to distinguish between what is from Him and what is from the false spirit. This is important: to distinguish the word of wisdom that the God speaks to us each day from the shouting of those who seek in God's name to frighten, to nourish division, and fear.

"Jesus firmly tells us not to be afraid of the upheavals in every period of history, not even in the face of the most serious trials and injustices that may befall His disciples. He asks us to persevere in the good and to place all our trust in God, who does not disappoint: 'Not a hair of your head will perish' (v. 18). God does not forget His faithful ones, His precious possession. He does not forget us.

"Today, however, He questions us about the meaning of our lives. Using an image, we could say that these readings serve as a 'strainer' through which our life can be poured: they remind us that almost everything in this world is passing away, like running water. But there are treasured realities that remain, like a precious stone in a strainer. What endures, what has value in life, what riches do not disappear? Surely these two: the Lord and our neighbor. These two riches do no disappear! These are the greatest goods; these are to be loved. Everything else - the heavens, the earth, all that is most beautiful, even this Basilica - will pass away; but we must never exclude God or others from our lives. "Today, though, when we speak of exclusion, we immediately think of concrete people, not useless objects but precious persons. The human person, set by God at the pinnacle of creation, is often discarded, set aside in favor of ephemeral things. This is unacceptable, because in God's eyes man is the most precious good. It is ominous that we are growing used to this rejection. We should be worried when our consciences are anaesthetized and we no longer see the brother or sister suffering at our side, or notice the grave problems in our world, which become a mere refrain familiar from the headlines on the evening news.

"... Today is your Jubilee. Your presence here helps us to be attuned to God's wavelength, to see what He sees. He sees not only appearances (cf. 1 Sam 16:7), but turns His gaze to the 'humble and contrite in spirit' (Is 66:2), to the many poor Lazaruses of our day. What harm we do to ourselves when we fail to notice Lazarus, excluded and cast out (cf. Lk 16:19-21)! It is turning away from God Himself. It is the symptom of a spiritual sclerosis when we are only interested in objects to be produced rather than on persons to be loved. This is the origin of the tragic contradiction of our age: as progress and new possibilities increase, which is a good thing, less and less people are able to benefit from them. This is a great injustice that should concern us much more than knowing when or how the world will end. Because we cannot go about our business quietly at home while Lazarus lies at the door. There is no peace in the homes of the prosperous as long as justice is lacking in the home of everyone.

"Today, in the cathedrals and sanctuaries throughout the world, the Doors of Mercy are being closed. Let us ask for the grace not to close our eyes to God who sees us and to our neighbor who asks something of us. Let us open our eyes to God, purifying the eye of our hearts of deceitful and fearful images, from the god of power and retribution, the projection of human pride and fear. Let us look with trust to the God of mercy, with the certainty that 'love never ends' (1 Cor 13:8). Let us renew our hope in the true life to which we are called, the life that will not pass away and that awaits us in communion with the Lord and with others, in a joy that will last forever, without end.

"And let us open our eyes to our neighbor, especially to our brothers and sisters who are forgotten and excluded, to the 'Lazarus' at our door. That is where the Church's magnifying glass is pointed. May the Lord free us from turning it towards ourselves. May He turn us away from the trappings that distract us, from interests and privileges, from attachment to power and glory, from being seduced by the spirit of the world. Our Mother the Church looks 'in particular to that portion of humanity that is suffering and crying out, because she knows that these people belong to her by evangelical right' (PAUL VI, Address at the beginning of the Second Session of the Second Vatican Council, September 29, 1963). By right but also by evangelical duty, for it is our responsibility to care for the true riches which are the poor. In the light of these reflections, I would like today to be the 'day of the poor.' We are reminded of this by an ancient tradition according to which the Roman martyr Lawrence, before suffering a cruel martyrdom for the love of the Lord, distributed the goods of the community to the poor, whom he described as the true treasure of the Church. May the Lord grant that we may look without fear to what truly matters, and turn our hearts to our true treasure."

Reach Out To Sick, Imprisoned

As part of his audiences focusing on the works of mercy, Pope Francis talked about visiting the sick and imprisoned. His November 9 audience follows:

"... Jesus' life, especially during the three years of His public ministry, was a continual encounter with people. Among them, the sick had a special place. How many pages of the Gospel tell of these encounters! The paralytic, the blind man, the leper, the possessed man, the epileptic, and the countless people suffering from illnesses of every kind ... Jesus made Himself close to each of them, and cured them with His presence and His healing power. Therefore, among the works of mercy, we cannot fail to visit and assist those who are sick.

"Together with this, we can also include being close to those who are in prison. Indeed, both the sick and the imprisoned live in conditions which limit their freedom. It is precisely when we lack [freedom] that we realize how precious it is! Jesus has given us the possibility of being free regardless of the limitations of illness and of restrictions. And He offers us the freedom which comes from an encounter with Him, and the new sense which this brings to our personal conditions.

"With this work of mercy, the Lord invites us to make an act of great humanity: sharing. Let us remember this word: sharing. Those who are sick often feel alone. We cannot hide the fact that, especially in our days, in sickness one experiences greater loneliness than at other times in life. A visit can make a person who is sick feel less alone, and a little companionship is great medicine! A smile, a caress, a handshake are simple gestures, but they are very important for those who feel abandoned. How many people dedicate themselves to visiting the sick in hospitals or in their homes! It is a priceless voluntary work. When it is done in the Lord's name, moreover, it also becomes an eloquent and effective expression of mercy. Let us not leave the sick alone! Let us not prevent them from finding consolation, or ourselves from being enriched by our closeness to those who suffer. Hospitals are true 'cathedrals of suffering' where, however, the power of supportive and compassionate charity is also made evident.

Happy Epiphany

"In the same way, I think of those who are locked up in prison. Jesus has not forgotten them either. By including the act of visiting of those in prison among the works of mercy, He wanted first and foremost to invite us to judge no one. Of course, if someone is in prison it is because he has done wrong, and did not respect the law or civil harmony. Therefore, in prison, he is serving his sentence. However, whatever a detainee may have done, he remains always beloved by God. Who is able to enter the depths of [an inmate's] conscience to understand what he is experiencing? Who can understand his suffering and remorse? It is too easy to wash our hands, declaring that he has done wrong. A Christian is called, above all, to assume responsibility, so that whoever has done wrong understands the evil he has carried out, and returns to his senses. The absence of freedom is, without a doubt, one of the hardest pills for a human being to swallow. Add this to degradation arising from the conditions which are often devoid of humanity in which these persons live, it is then truly the case in which a Christian is motivated to do everything to restore his dignity.

"Visiting people in prison is a work of mercy which, especially today, takes on a particular value due to the various forms of 'justicialism' to which we are exposed. Therefore, let no one point a finger at another. Instead, let us all be instruments of mercy, and have attitudes of sharing and respect. I often think about detainees ... I think of them often, I carry them in my heart. I wonder what led them to delinquency, and how they managed to succumb to various forms of evil. Yet, along with these thoughts, I feel that they all need closeness and tenderness, because God's mercy works wonders. How many tears I have seen shed on the cheeks of prisoners who had perhaps never wept before in their lives; and this is only because they feel welcomed and loved.

"And let us not forget that even Jesus and His Apostles experienced imprisonment. In the account of the Passion, we know of the suffering which the Lord endured: captured, dragged about like a criminal, derided, scourged, crowned with thorns ... He, the sole Innocent! And even Saint Peter and Saint Paul were in prison (cf. Acts 12:5; Phil 1:12-17). Last Sunday afternoon - which was the Sunday of the Jubilee for Prisoners - a group of detainees from Padua came to visit me. I asked them what they were going to do the following day, before returning to Padua. They told me: 'We will go to the Mamertine prison to share the experience of Saint Paul.' It was beautiful; hearing this did me good. These detainees wanted to find the imprisoned Paul. It was a beautiful thing, and it did me good. And even there, in prison, [Saints Peter and Paul] prayed and evangelized. The page from the Acts of the Apostles, which recounts Paul's imprisonment, is moving: he felt alone, and wished that some of his friends would pay him a visit (cf. 2 Tim 4:9-15). He felt alone because the vast majority had left him alone ... the great Paul.

"These works of mercy, as you can see, are age-old, yet ever timely. Jesus left what He was doing to go and visit Peter's mother-in-law; an age-old work of charity. Jesus did it.

"Let us not fall into indifference, but become instruments of God's mercy. All of us can be instruments of God's mercy, and this will do more good to us than to others because mercy passes through a gesture, a word, a visit, and this mercy is an act of restoring the joy and dignity which has been lost."

This Is A Time Of Mercy

Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter on November 21, the day after the conclusion of the Year of Mercy. Missericordia et misera (Mercy and Misery) is the title of the document. It is dated November 20.

The Holy Father stressed we continue to live in a time of mercy. He offered a number of suggestions to continue the celebration of mercy, including a day for making the Scriptures better known and encouraging the faithful to return the sacrament of Reconciliation to a primary place in Christian life.

Various initiatives, including Missionaries of Mercy, extending the faculties of all priests to absolve the sin of procured abortion. The Pope stated: "I want to insist as firmly as I can that abortion is a grave sin because it puts an end to an innocent life." He continued, "I can and I must state that there is no sin that God's mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father."

Although the Jubilee has ended, the Pope said "the door of mercy of our heart continues to remain wide open." He asked the faithful to continue to practice both new works of mercy and the traditional works of mercy. Pope Francis stated, "Let us make every effort ... to devise specific and responsible ways of practicing charity and the works of mercy. Mercy is inclusive and tends to expand in a way that knows no limits. Hence we are called to give new expression to the traditional works of mercy." The corporal and spiritual works of mercy continue to prove the immense positive influence of mercy as a social value. He urged the Church's continued vigilance and offering of solidarity in light of continued attacks on human dignity.

A World Day of the Poor, on the second to last Sunday of the liturgical year was proposed by Pope Francis. This day "will ... represent a genuine form of new evangelization ... which can renew the face of the Church as she perseveres in her perennial activity of pastoral conversion and witness to mercy." (Pope Francis)

In discussing this as a time of mercy, Pope Francis said: "... It is the time of mercy for each and all, since no one can think that he or she is cut off from God's closeness and the power of His tender love. It is the time of mercy because those who are weak and vulnerable, distant and alone, ought to feel the presence of brothers and sisters who can help them in their need. It is the time of mercy because the poor should feel that they are regarded with respect and concern by others who have overcome indifference and discovered what is essential in life. It is the time of mercy because no sinner can ever tire of asking forgiveness and all can feel the welcoming embrace of the Father."

Businessmen Can Be Agents Of Mercy

Pope Francis stressed "money must serve not rule" to participants in a meeting of the International Christian Union of business Executives (UNIAPAC) on November 17 in Vatican City.

The Pope's address follows:

"You have come to Rome - to the Vatican - in response to the invitation of Cardinal Peter Turkson and the authorities of the International Christian Union of Business Executives, with the noble goal of reflecting on the role of business people as agents of economic and social inclusion. I wish to assure you that, from this moment on, you will have my encouragement and prayers for your work. God's Providence has made this UNIAPAC meeting coincide with the conclusion of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. All human activities, including business, can be an exercise in mercy, which is partaking in God's love for mankind.

"Business activity constantly entails endless risks. In the parables of the treasure hidden in a field (cf. Mt 13:44) and of the fine pearls (cf. Mt 13:45), Jesus compares the attainment of the Kingdom of Heaven to entrepreneurial risk. Today I wish to reflect with you on three risks: the risk of using money well, the risk of honesty, and the risk of fraternity.

"First of all, the risk of using money. When speaking about businesses we immediately have to address one of the most difficult issues of moral perception: money. I have often said that 'money is the devil's dung,' repeating what Holy Fathers have said in the past. Leo XIII, who initiated the social doctrine of the Church, noted that the history of the 19th century had divided nations 'into two classes separated by a wide chasm' (Apostolic Letter Rerum Novarum, n. 47). Forty years later, Pius XI predicted the growth of an 'international imperialism' of finance (Encyclical Letter Quadragesimo Anno, n. 109). Forty years after that, Paul VI, referring to Rerum Novarum, warned that the excessive concentration of wealth and power could 'lead to a new and abusive form of economic domination on the social, cultural, and even political level' (Apostolic Letter Octogesima Adveniens, n. 44).

"In the parable of the dishonest steward, Jesus urges us to take responsibility for our friends with dishonest wealth, in order to be welcomed in the eternal habitations (cf. Lk 16:9-15). All of the Fathers of the Church have interpreted these words to mean that wealth is good when it is placed at the service of our neighbors, otherwise it is unjust (cf. Catena Aurea: The Gospel according to Luke, 16:8-13). Thus, money must serve, not rule. This is a key principle: money must serve, not rule. Money is only a technical instrument of intermediation, of comparison of values and rights, of the fulfilment of duties and saving. Like any technical instrument, money does not have a neutral value, but acquires value based on the aims and circumstances in which it is used. When we claim that money is neutral, we fall under its power. Enterprises must not exist to earn money, even though money serves to measure their functioning. Enterprises exist to serve.

"Therefore, it is urgent to restore the social meaning of financial and banking activities, with the best intelligence and imagination of business executives. This means assuming the risk of making life more complicated, of having to give up certain financial gains. Credit must be accessible for households, for small and medium-sized enterprises, for farmers, for educational activities, especially at the primary level, for general healthcare, for the improvement and integration of the poorest urban areas. A market-based financial logic makes credit more accessible and cheaper for those who already have resources, and more expensive and difficult for those who have less, to the point of leaving the poorest segments of the population in the hands of ruthless usurers. Likewise, at the international level, the financing of the poorest countries is easily transformed into a usurious activity. This is one of the great challenges for businesses, and for economists in general, who are called upon to achieve a stable and sufficient flow of credit that excludes no one and that can be paid off under fair and accessible conditions.

"While admitting it is possible to create business mechanisms that are available to all and that function to everyone's benefit, we must recognize that generous and abundant gratuitousness will always be necessary. It will also be necessary for the State to intervene to protect certain collective goods and ensure the fulfilment of basic human needs. My predecessor, Saint John Paul II, said that ignoring this leads to 'an "idolatry" of the market' (Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, n. 40).

"There is a second risk that must be assumed by business executives. The risk of honesty. Corruption is the worst social evil. It is the lie of seeking profit for oneself or one's own group with only the appearance of serving society. It is the destruction of the social fabric behind the semblance of fulfilling the law. It is the law of the jungle disguised by apparent social rationality. It is the deceit and exploitation of the weakest or least informed. It is the most vulgar selfishness, hidden behind apparent generosity. Corruption is generated by the adoration of money and returns to the corrupt, a prisoner of that same adoration. Corruption is a fraud against democracy and it opens the doors to other terrible evils such as drugs, prostitution and human trafficking, slavery, organ trafficking, arms trafficking, and so on. Corruption is becoming followers of the devil, the father of falsehood.

"Yet, 'corruption is not a vice limited to political life. There is corruption in politics, there is corruption in the business world, there is corruption in the communications media, there is corruption in the churches, but also there is corruption in the social organizations and popular movements' (Speech to Participants in the Third World Meeting of Popular Movements, November 5, 2016).

"One of the necessary conditions for social progress is the absence of corruption. Entrepreneurs may be tempted to give in to attempts at blackmail or extortion, justifying themselves with the thought of saving their company and its community of workers, or thinking that this way they will allow the company to grow and one day they will be able to free themselves from that evil. It is also possible for entrepreneurs to fall into the temptation of thinking that it is something everyone does, that small acts of corruption aimed at obtaining small advantages are not so important. Any attempted corruption, whether active or passive, is already the start of adoring Mammon.

"The third risk is that of fraternity. We have recalled that Saint John Paul II taught us that 'Even prior to the logic of a fair exchange ... there exists something which is due to man because he is man, by reason of his lofty dignity' (Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, n. 34). Benedict XVI also insisted on the importance of gratuitousness, as an unavoidable element of social and economic life. He said: 'Charity in truth places man before the astonishing experience of gift ... which expresses and makes present his transcendent dimension ... Economic, social, and political development ... needs to make room for the principle of gratuitousness as an expression of fraternity' (Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, n. 34).

"Business activity must always include the element of gratuitousness. Fair relationships between managers and workers must be respected and demanded by all parties; but at the same time, an enterprise is a community of work in which everyone deserves fraternal respect and appreciation from their superiors, co-workers, and subordinates. Respect for the other as brother or sister must also extend to the local community in which the enterprise is physically located, and in a certain sense, all of the enterprise's legal and economic relationships must be moderated, enveloped in a climate of respect and fraternity.

"There is no shortage of examples of actions of solidarity in favor of those most in need, carried out by people in businesses, clinics, universities, or other work and study communities. This should be a common way of acting, the result of profound convictions in everyone, to prevent it from becoming only an occasional activity to soothe one's conscience, or even worse, a way to obtain a return in terms of publicity.

"With regard to fraternity, I cannot but share with you the issue of emigration and refugees, which burdens our hearts. Today emigration and the movement of a multitude of people in search of protection have become a dramatic human problem. The Holy See and the local Churches are making extraordinary efforts to effectively deal with the causes of this situation, seeking the pacification of the regions and countries at war and promoting the spirit of welcoming; but we don't always get all that we want. I am asking you for help as well. On the one hand, try to convince governments to renounce any type of activities of war. As is often said in business environments, a 'bad' agreement is always better than a 'good' fight. On the other hand, collaborate to create sources of worthy, stable, and abundant work, both in the places of origin and in those of arrival, and in the latter, for both the local population and for immigrants. Immigration must continue to be an important factor in development.

"Most of us here belong to families of emigrants. Our grandparents or parents came from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Lebanon, or other countries, to South or North America, almost always under conditions of extreme poverty. They were able to support a family, progress even to the point of becoming entrepreneurs because they found societies that welcomed them, which at times were poor like them, but were willing to share what little they had. Preserve and pass on this spirit with Christian roots, showing your entrepreneurial talent here as well.

"For me UNIAPAC and ACDE evoke the memory of the Argentinian entrepreneur Enrique Shaw, one of the founders, whose cause for beatification I promoted when I was Archbishop of Buenos Aires. I urge you to follow his example, and that Catholics ask for his intercession to be good business people.

"The Gospel of two Sundays ago spoke of the vocation of Zacchaeus (cf. Lk 19:1-10), that rich man, head of the tax collectors of Jericho, who climbed a tree so he could see Jesus, and the Lord's gaze led him to a profound conversion. I hope this Conference may be like the sycamore of Jericho, a tree which you are all able to climb, so that through the scientific discussion of the aspects of business activity, you will find Jesus' gaze, and this will produce effective guidance to ensure that the activities of all of your enterprises always and effectively promote the common good..."

Businessmen Can Foster Human Dignity

Pope Francis encouraged participants in the Fortune-Time Global Forum meeting in Vatican City on December 3. This meeting involved Fortune 500 and Time 100 leaders. Vatican Radio reported they were "discussing technology and jobs, global health, food and water, commitment to communities, energy and the environment, and financial inclusion - each representing critical elements related to poverty alleviation."

Pope Francis' address follows:

"... I am very pleased to welcome all of you who are participating in the Fortune-Time Global Forum, and I express my appreciation for your work these past two days. I thank Mrs. Nancy Gibbs and Mr. Alan Murray for their kind words. The theme you have chosen, 'The 21st-Century Challenge: Forging a New Social Compact,' is very opportune and points to the urgent need for more inclusive and equitable economic models. Your time together has allowed for a substantive exchange of ideas and sharing of information. Important as this is, what is required now is not a new social compact in the abstract, but concrete ideas and decisive action which will benefit all people and which will begin to respond to the pressing issues of our day.

"I would like to offer a particular word of thanks for all that you are doing to promote the centrality and dignity of the human person within our institutions and economic models, and to draw attention to the plight of the poor and refugees, who are so often forgotten by society. When we ignore the cries of so many of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, we not only deny them their God-given rights and worth, but we also reject their wisdom and prevent them from offering their talents, traditions, and cultures to the world. In so doing, the poor and marginalized are made to suffer even more, and we ourselves grow impoverished, not only materially, but morally and spiritually.

"Our world today is marked by great unrest. Inequality between peoples continues to rise, and many communities are impacted directly by war and poverty, or the migration and displacement which flow from them. People want to make their voices heard and express their concerns and fears. They want to make their rightful contribution to their local communities and broader society, and to benefit from the resources and development too often reserved for the few. While this may create conflict and lay bare the many sorrows of our world, it also makes us realize that we are living in a moment of hope. For when we finally recognize the evil in our midst, we can seek healing by applying the remedy. Your very presence here today is a sign of such hope, because it shows that you recognize the issues before us and the imperative to act decisively. This strategy of renewal and hope calls for institutional and personal conversion; a change of heart that attaches primacy to the deepest expressions of our common humanity, our cultures, our religious beliefs, and our traditions.

"This fundamental renewal does not have to do simply with market economics, figures to be balanced, the development of raw materials and improvements made to infrastructures. No, what we are speaking about is the common good of humanity, of the right of each person to share in the resources of this world and to have the same opportunities to realize his or her potential, a potential that is ultimately based on the dignity of the children of God, created in His image and likeness.

"Our great challenge is to respond to global levels of injustice by promoting a local and even personal sense of responsibility so that no one is excluded from participating in society. Thus, the question before us is how best to encourage one another and our respective communities to respond to the suffering and needs we see, both from afar and in our midst. The renewal, purification and strengthening of solid economic models depends on our own personal conversion and generosity to those in need.

"I encourage you to continue the work you have begun at this Forum, and to seek ever more creative ways to transform our institutions and economic structures so that they may be able to respond to the needs of our day and be in service of the human person, especially those marginalized and discarded. I pray too that you may involve in your efforts those whom you seek to help; give them a voice, listen to their stories, learn from their experiences, and understand their needs. See in them a brother and a sister, a son and a daughter, a mother and a father. Amid the challenges of our day, see the human face of those you earnestly seek to help.

"I assure you of my prayer that your efforts will bear fruit, and of the Catholic Church's commitment to be a voice for those who otherwise are silenced. Upon you, your families, and all your colleagues, I invoke the divine blessings of wisdom, strength, and peace. Thank you."

Film Focuses On Christmas

by Michael Halm

This year's Christmas film "Believe" has a bit of "Christmas Carol" in it. Matthew Peyton is the most hated man in town, not like Scrooge for being miserly, but because he believes he has to cut back on the family business's employees and that he can no longer afford to sponsor the tradition christmas pageant as his father and grandfather had before him.

Then, of course, it gets worse. He's injured in an auto "accident," something like George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life." It's not an angel, however, that helps turn his life around, but the faith of a boy named Clarence and the faith expressed in works of the boy's mother.

It's not the 2013 film of the same name about soccer in 1984. This "Believe" premiered in Bristol and Grundy, Virginia, where it was filmed, in October during the PUSH! Film Festival and hit theaters in December.

It stars Southwest Virginia native Ryan O'Quinn and was co-produced by Matthew Pickett and Katy Bunn-Davidson also from the region. It was written and directed by Billy Dickson who with O'Quinn was executive producer.

Harry Smith of Smith Global Media brother of Will Smith, told Variety, "I picked 'Believe' as our first release because it's a great way to set the tone for what our company is about, filling the demand for top-quality family entertainment. We are extremely excited to bring wholesome family entertainment appealing to every genre, to audiences everywhere this holiday season."

O'Quinn is known for memorable roles in television shows and feature films such as "Starship Troopers" and "That Thing You Do." O'Quinn is also the author of Parenting Rules! The Hilarious Handbook for Surviving Parenthood and Marriage Rules! The Hilarious Handbook for Surviving Marriage. Coming soon he will appear in "A Horse from Heaven," another story of faith and healing about a girl and her horse.

Pickett worked on "Restitution" and on yet-to-be-released "Public Affairs." Dickson is known for "Babylon5: "The Gathering," "Ally McBeal" and "One Tree Hill."

Danielle Nicolet plays C.J.'s mother Sharon Joseph. She played a regular in the "Flash" and in several other TV series. She began acting in "The Jacksons: An American Dream" in 1992. The Internet Movie Data Base says, "She competed through her teenage years [in gymnastics], but finally admitted that acting was her dream. She has always played unpredictable characters, whether they be dramatic or comedic."

Isaac Ryan Brown plays Clarence Joseph, or C.J. as he prefers to be called. He has appeared in three movies already this year, in "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" as squatter boy, in "Dreams My Master" as Damien and in "the Land Before time XIV: Journey of the Brave" as the voice of Chomper. He started as Goby in "The Urban Odyssey of Washington D.C.: A Bicentennial Celebration of Washington D.C.'s Heritate 1791-1991" a year before Nicolet.

The film's facebook page has encouraging quotes from Scripture, "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) and "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." (Exodus 14:14) The site also has postings by the Salvation Army, long associated with christmas giving, with the message, "We believe giving hope is priceless."

Julie Rowe Saleda's comment was a prayer, "Dear Lord, bless this movie and those who produced it. Inspire everyone who sees it."

Gunnar Sizemore tweeted, "Good seeing 'Believe' ... at the west coast premier! Isaac ... was awesome!" and Tess McClaine wrote, "I'm quite excited to see 'Believe' this Christmas season! Sending the TRUE message of Christmas ... Christ!"

Light to the Nations

(A Christian Perspective on World News)

"we are with you"

BALTIMORE - On the first day of the Fall General Assembly, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, asked his brother bishops to support a post-election statement given by Bishop Eusebio Elizondo, auxiliary bishop of Seattle, Washington, and chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, repeating the words to our brothers and sisters who come to the country seeking a better life: "We are with you."

Below is the original statement issued November 11, and now supported by the body of bishops.

We would first like to congratulate President-elect Donald J. Trump and give our support for all efforts to work together to promote the common good, especially those to protect the most vulnerable among us. I personally pledge my prayers for Mr. Trump, all elected officials, and those who will work in the new administration. I offer a special word to migrant and refugee families living in the United States: be assured of our solidarity and continued accompaniment as you work for a better life.

We believe the family unit is the cornerstone of society, so it is vital to protect the integrity of the family. For this reason, we are reminded that behind every "statistic" is a person who is a mother, father, son, daughter, sister, or brother and has dignity as a child of God. We pray that as the new administration begins its role leading our country, it will recognize the contributions of refugees and immigrants to the overall prosperity and well-being of our nation. We will work to promote humane policies that protect refugees and immigrants' inherent dignity, keep families together, and honor and respect the laws of this nation.

Serving and welcoming people fleeing violence and conflict in various regions of the world is part of our identity as Catholics. The Church will continue this life-saving tradition. Today, with more than 65 million people forcibly displaced from their homes, the need to welcome refugees and provide freedom from persecution is more acute than ever and 80 of our dioceses across the country are eager to continue this wonderful act of accompaniment born of our Christian faith. We stand ready to work with a new administration to continue to ensure that refugees are humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security or our core values as Americans. A duty to welcome and protect newcomers, particularly refugees, is an integral part of our mission to help our neighbors in need.

We pray for President -elect Trump and all leaders in public life, that they may rise to the responsibilities entrusted to them with grace and courage. And may all of us as Catholics and Americans remain a people of solidarity with others in need and a nation of hospitality which treats others as we would like to be treated.

(Source: USCCB press release)

seek out the poor, the sick, those in spiritual need

WASHINGTON - Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), welcomed Pope Francis' apostolic letter encouraging people to continue spreading mercy to others in a November 23 statement.

Full statement follows:

Christ's mercy endures. The healing power of God's forgiveness is available to all who earnestly seek it. In his apostolic letter concluding the Year of Mercy, Pope Francis invites us to carry this life-giving message to all who need it. The Jubilee Year has been filled with grace, a grace that has refreshed our faith for the path of service ahead.

In our human weakness, we may feel beyond God's reach and forgotten by society. The merciful heart of Jesus is stronger than sin and Christians cannot be indifferent to the suffering around us. Let us seek out the poor, the sick, and all those in spiritual need. As we, ourselves, have been redeemed through God's mercy, let us generously share with our sisters and brothers what He has so generously given us. In this way, we will transform a Year of Mercy into a life of mercy.

We rely on the prayers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy and Consolation, who constantly intercedes for the Church and draws us ever closer to the compassionate embrace of her Son.

(Source: USCCB press release)

renew efforts against assisted suicide

WASHINGTON-The Washington, DC, City Council and the voters of Colorado both recently acted to legalize doctor-prescribed suicide. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, chair of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called for increased efforts to fight against assisted suicide, saying it must be "opposed with renewed vigor."

Cardinal Dolan's full statement dated November 21 follows:

Seven jurisdictions in the United States have now opened the legal door to this dangerous abuse of medicine, an alarming trend that must be stopped for the sake of human dignity and the sacredness of life.

In Colorado, Proposition 106 legalized the ability of a doctor to write prescriptions for the sole purpose of killing another human being, and the ability of insurance companies to refuse treatment of patients they consider terminal. The DC law is the most expansive and dangerous so far. It goes beyond assisted suicide by allowing third parties to administer the lethal drugs opening the door even further to coercion and abuse.

Every suicide is tragic, whether someone is young or old, healthy or sick. But the legalization of doctor-assisted suicide creates two classes of people: those whose suicides are to be prevented at any cost, and those whose suicides are deemed a positive good. We remove weapons and drugs that can cause harm to one group, while handing deadly drugs to the other, setting up yet another kind of life-threatening discrimination. This is completely unjust. Our inherent human dignity does not wane with the onset of illness or incapacity, and so all are worthy of protection.

The act of prescribing a fatal, poisonous dose, moreover, undermines the very heart of medicine. Doctors vow to do no harm, and yet assisted suicide is the ultimate abandonment of their patients.

What seriously ill - and often depressed -- patients need is authentic support, including doctors fully committed to their welfare and pain management as they enter their final days. Patients need our assurance that they are not a burden -- that it is a privilege to care for them as we ourselves hope to be cared for one day. A compassionate society devotes more attention, not less, to members facing the most vulnerable times in their lives.

So doctor-assisted suicide must now be opposed with renewed vigor. Catholics must join medical professionals, disability rights groups, and other concerned citizens in fighting for the authentic care of those facing terminal illness.

In 2011, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on assisted suicide, "To Live Each Day with Dignity." The full text, as well as information on the Catholic Church's advocacy on end-of-life issues, is available online:

(Source: USCCB press release)

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 that we will be instruments of God's peace and mercy.
  • We pray for strength for Christian businessmen and women.
  • We pray that we will grow in relationship with Jesus this Christmas season.
  • We pray in thanksgiving for all the saints.
  • We pray for an end to abortion, euthanasia, and all attacks on life.
  • We pray that we will share the Gospel with all we meet.
  • We pray for all families through the intercession of the Holy Family.
  • We pray for the victory of the civilization of love and life over the culture of death.
  • We pray for Christian unity.
  • We pray for Christians who are persecuted and are dying for their faith.
  • We pray that we will respond to the cry of the poor, suffering, sick, and marginalized.
  • We pray for an end to the scandal of global hunger and that we will share with others.

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Phone: (513) 662-5378

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



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