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Volume 6, Issue 32

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  • John N. Lupia
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 27, 2006
      Roman Catholic News

      Volume 6, Issue 32

      TUESDAY 28 FEBRUARY 2006

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      VATICAN CITY, FEB 28, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao and Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, respectively president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples presented the document: "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies."

      The text of the document is the result of a broad-ranging study to which pastoral workers, experts and gypsies themselves have all contributed. The document's six chapters are divided into two sections: the first presents an overall view of the Church and gypsies, while the second concentrates on specific questions.

      Cardinal Hamao explained how the origins of a specific form of pastoral care for gypsies date back to the first half of the 20th century "through the individual initiatives of some zealous priests in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. The Holy See recognized it as a special mission in 1965, after the first historic international pilgrimage of gypsies to Rome, by creating the International Secretariat for the Apostolate of Nomads," which was later integrated into the Pontifical Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migration and Tourism, created by Paul VI in 1970.

      "Though the document refers to gypsies, whose number in Europe alone is about 15 million," the cardinal continued, "it is equally valid for other nomads, who share similar conditions of life in the various continents. In any case, nomadism is not the only characteristic of the gypsy people. ... It is their ethnicity, their culture and age-old traditions that we should take into account. Therefore the local Churches, in countries where they live, should find pastoral inspiration in these Guidelines, ... adapting them to the circumstances, needs and requirements of each group."

      The president of the pontifical council went on to note certain "positive signs of evolution" among gypsies, such as "a growing desire to attain literacy and professional formation, social and political awareness expressed by forming associations and parties, increasing participation in local and national management in some countries, and the presence of women in social and civic life." He also recalled the enthusiastic participation of gypsies at "the beatification of the Spanish martyr Ceferino Jimenez Malla, the first gypsy to be raised to the honor of the altar."

      Although the nomadic quality of gypsy life in some way reflects the condition of all mankind - "homo viator" - gypsies' right to identity often comes up against the "indifference or opposition" of many people, who "share habitual prejudices towards them. Signs of rejection persist, often without eliciting any reaction or protest from those who witness them."

      The cardinal added: "All this has caused untold suffering in the course of history, as we know. Their persecution reached its height especially during the past century. ... Obviously the Church too should recognize their right to have their own identity, and stir consciences in order to achieve greater justice for them."

      Returning to the subject of nomadism, Cardinal Hamao noted how this form of life "has given rise to an identity with its own languages, and a culture and religiosity with its own traditions, and a strong sense of belonging. ... Their way of life is essentially a living witness to inner freedom from the bonds of consumerism and of the false security based on people's presumed self-sufficiency."

      "These Guidelines," he concluded, "are a sign that the Church has a particular concern for gypsies, meaning that they are the receiver of a special pastoral action in appreciation of their culture. ... In fact, everyone should be welcomed in the Church, where there is no place for marginalization and exclusion."

      For his part, Archbishop Marchetto concentrated on pastoral activity, firstly noting that "the peculiar nature of gypsy culture makes evangelization merely 'from the outside' ineffective." All the same, "a genuine incarnation of the Gospel - called inculturation - cannot indiscriminately legitimize every aspect of their culture."

      He continued: "Indeed, the universal history of evangelization affirms that the spread of the Christian message has always been accompanied by a process of purification of cultures. ... However, purification does not mean emptying, but some amount of integration with the surrounding culture will be necessary: it is an intercultural process. Reconciliation and communion between gypsies and non-gypsies, therefore, include legitimate interaction between cultures."

      The archbishop praised the "strong sense of family which is seen among gypsies," but warned that this "should not degenerate, for instance, into perennial resentment between families and clans." He also recalled the need among gypsies for equal rights between men and women and stressed the fact that "honesty at work is a civic and Christian virtue, which cannot be disregarded." He also lamented the fact that "audiovisual or printed information rarely makes the general public aware of the positive aspects of gypsy culture, and most often deals with negative ones, which further damage their image."

      "Of course, gypsies are a special minority because they have no country of origin to give them the support they might need and this means the lack of political guarantees and some degree of civil protection. In fact while the arrival of other people seeking refuge and of 'boat people' enables mobilization of a given number of people and governments, that of gypsies usually brings about rejection, even if they come from very poor countries, and are sometimes forced to flee due to religious, racial or political persecution."

      Archbishop Marchetto pointed out that this situation can only be overcome with a common and comprehensive global policy, and that "it is vitally important that international organizations take an interest in gypsies."

      On the subject of the evangelization of gypsies, he said it "is a mission of the whole Church, because no Christian should remain indifferent to a situation of marginalization with respect to ecclesial communion. ... Moreover, in the catechesis, it is important to include dialogue that allows gypsies to express how they perceive and experience their relationship with God. Therefore, it is necessary to assess the convenience of translating the Bible, the various liturgical texts and prayer books, into the languages used by the different ethnic groups."

      The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Migrant Peoples concluded by highlighting the danger of the proselytism of religious sects among gypsies and indicating how "new ecclesial movements could play a special role in this specific pastoral care. With their strong sense of community and openness, and the availability and special warm-heartedness of their members."

      The complete document, "Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of Gypsies," will soon be available for consultation on the web page of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, at the following address:


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      VATICAN CITY, FEB 28, 2006 (VIS) - On March 5, the first Sunday of Lent, the annual spiritual exercises of the Holy Father and the Roman Curia will begin in the "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. This year's exercises, dedicated to the theme "Walking with Jesus towards Easter," will be directed by Cardinal Marco Ce, patriarch emeritus of Venice, Italy.

      The retreat will begin with Eucharistic exposition, the celebration of Vespers, an introductory meditation, adoration and Eucharistic blessing.

      Over the following days there will be the celebration of Lauds and meditation at 9 a.m.; celebration of Terce and meditation at 10.15 a.m.; meditation at 5 p.m.; and Vespers, adoration and Eucharistic blessing at 5.45 p.m.

      The spiritual exercises will come to an end on the morning of Saturday, March 11, with the celebration of Lauds and a closing meditation.

      During the retreat all audiences will be cancelled, including the weekly general audience of Wednesday, March 8.

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      VATICAN CITY, FEB 28, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father:

      - Accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, U.S.A., presented by Archbishop Joseph Anthony Fiorenza, upon having reached the age limit. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Daniel N. DiNardo.

      - Gave his assent to the canonical election carried out on February 9 by the Synod of Bishops of the Greek-Melkite Catholic Church meeting in Ain Traz, Lebanon, from February 6 to 11, 2006, of Archimandrite Georges Bakar, bursar of the Patriarchate of Alexandria, as patriarchal vicar of Jerusalem with the title of archbishop of Pelusio of the Greek-Melkite Catholics. The archbishop-elect was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1946 and ordained a priest in 1973.

      His Beatitude Gregoire III Laham, Greek-Melkite Catholic patriarch, with the consent of the synod of the patriarchal Church meeting in Ain Traz, Lebanon, from February 6 to 11, 2006, transferred, in accordance with canon 85 para. 3 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, Bishop Isidore Battikha B. A., auxiliary and "protosincellus" of Damascus of the Greek-Melkites, to the position of metropolitan archbishop of Homs, Hama and Jabrud (Catholics 27,000, priests 14, permanent deacons 1, religious 33), Syria.

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      Ash Wednesday

      And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

      Lent is a time for all of us to spiritually renew ourselves.

      It is a time when people are called by the Church to reflect deeper on their lives with God.

      Through this reflection we come to see our sins, failings and shortcomings and resolve to offer ourselves to God anew, to start afresh.

      This fresh start requires us to change our ways.

      Without sincere efforts to change on our part by breaking old bad habits we are doomed to lived a repeated cycle of our old former self.

      We are empowered by God to change if we seek to do that with all sincerity.

      As a token of our sincerity we come to pray more frequently, read Holy Scripture in our daily lectio divina, reflect on the Words of Christ and offer our minds and hearts to Him in love and sorrow for our sinfulness.

      The tokens we offer to God during Lent include sacrifices.

      The Church requires of us to keep days of fast and abstinence.

      On Ash Wednesday and Good Friday of Lent we are asked to fast by eating reduced portions of food and to abstain from eating meat.

      This fast and abstinence is required by all between the age of 18 to 60.

      Those who are between the age of 14 and 60 are required to abstain from eating meat on those days prescribed by the Church during Lent: Ash Wednesday, and every Friday until Easter Sunday.

      On all Fridays of Lent Catholics between the age of 14 and 60 are required to abstain from eating meat. Fasts are required for those between the ages of 18 to 60 on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

      For those between the age of 14 to 18 no fast is required only abstinence from eating meat.

      These fasts and days of abstinence are our tokens as signs and symbols of our repentance to change our sinful ways and bad habits and prayer to reform our lives.

      Christ taught us to give alms, perform works of charity, fast, weep and mourn our sins in private prayer.

      In the days when Jesus lived, walked the earth and preached these holy acts were frequently done in public for all to see.

      When a beggar could be seen on crowded streets those wishing to give them alms would blow a small trumpet calling their attention and the attention of everyone else.

      The beggar would come hearing the tinny sound of the trumpet blast and hold out their hand to see what the person offered to them as alms.

      This public display tarnished the work of charity since the giver of the alms was seeking applause, admiration and respect from their neighbor.

      The same was true with fasts and prayers.

      People would make it publicly known that they fasted and prayed and would do these things in public for the same vain reasons of public approval.

      Jesus taught us to do all these things in secret and privacy so that only God could see and know the good things we do out of love for Him and our neighbor.

      And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.

      [Print and distribute]

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      CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE: Reality Is Truth (pages 145-149)

      The fundamental teaching and theology of prayer is a raising of the mind and heart to God. No matter where the soul is along the way on the spiritual pilgrimage to God the essential meaning of prayer never changes. The beginner might get the wrong impression from reading books that prayer becomes complicated and technical and there are many things to know, learn and so forth. This basic wrong impression about advanced prayer is quite common. The truth and nature of prayer always remains the same in that the soul, wherever they may be along the way of perfection, prayer is and always will remain a raising up of one's mind and heart to God.

      We see this basic teaching in the spiritual classic by Walter Hilton, The Scale of Perfection. (Burnes Oates & Washbourne, 1927) Below Dom Hubert van Zeller cites passages from Chapter VIII of this book. Cognition refers to the intellect of the mind and affection to the heart. In advanced prayer, God allowing the soul to communicate with Him at a level and depth it has always longed for opens up the mind and heart. This is a small taste of what will become the beatific vision that the saints enjoy in heaven.

      "'The third part of contemplation, which is as perfect as it may be here, lies in both cognition and affection,' says Walter Hilton, describing the kind of prayer we are now considering, 'that is to say in knowing and in perfect loving of God . . . then by the grace of the Holy Spirit is he illuminated to see by understanding God and spiritual things . . . so that the soul is united for the time being and conformed to the image of the Trinity." (page 145)

      The Christian life is wholly the pursuit of Christ, and Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Therefore, Dom Hubert van Zeller says, “The Christian life is wholly the pursuit of truth.” (ibid.) The deeper the soul grows in union with Christ the clearer the vision of truth in God and all people and things. This depth of growth is the fruit of the seed planted within every human mind and heart by the Creator.

      In our own day we see this longing and yearning of the soul expressed in modern culture manifested in so many different ways. The popular singing group the Eurythmics in their golden record hit: Sweet Dreams, has a haunting refrain: “Everybody’s looking for something.” Here we see the soul of humanity aware of its own longing and yearning from within its depths, but without Christ the soul does not know what it is.

      “’Every organism,’ says St. Thomas, ‘strains towards its own proper perfection.’” (page 146) The human person has its proper perfection, Christ, the center of all things and model for human life and behavior. During the Renaissance Christ was displaced by man being the center and measure of all things since the dawn of modern intellectual enlightenment without respect or reverence for faith asserts itself to the denial of God. The proud and egotistical intellectual wrongly oriented is embarrassed to believe in miracles, the supernatural and the existence of God. These modern thinkers feel things of this nature are the subject for children, the aged, and the superstitious.

      The mind and heart of the human person must first be brought down low bowing before the Godhead and like Mary saying with all her mind, heart and strength “Yes” to God, or else it will become darkened by egotism, vanity and will never find itself or the happiness God intended from the beginning. The soul not oriented to Christ with mind and heart thinks it is the center and measure of all things and in its confusion and suffering finds its own amusement singing and dancing to the lyrics of the popular singing group the Eurythmics in their golden record hit: Sweet Dreams, and its haunting refrain: “Everybody’s looking for something.”

      Knowing our place in the universe and in this world is only possible if we submit to Christ. “Once again: live according to what you are and you will grow, or, in metaphor, St. Francis of Sales’ Là où Dieu nous a semés, il faut savoir fleurir: ‘We should know that only where God has planted us do we come to flower.’” (page 146)

      To grow in Christ we must accept the truth He gives us to guide us along our way and not choose another path for which He did not intend. This wrong path might be a good thing that has attracted us. It seems noble and good but when God does not wish it for you something always happens to prod you off that course and onto another God wishes for you. This discernment takes great humility and detachment to listen to God working through time and space in others, circumstances and events that reveal His holy will.

      Dom Hubert van Zeller gives us three examples from the lives of saints to show us that choosing the wrong vocation is not isolated and exclusive to worldly men and women but to those seeking God too. He points out in the life of St. Benedict Joseph Labré that he was intended to witness on the roads and streets and not buried in religious life. St. Jean Vianney was not meant to be buried in a cloister as a Carthusian monk, but instead, as the Curé of Ars. St. Osmund was not meant to be a scribe but a bishop. The examples of saints attempting wrong vocations and pursuits are vast. From them we learn something about ourselves --how we too might be pursuing the wrong path in life and need to listen to God working and reaching out to us through time and space in others, circumstances and events that reveal His holy will.

      Dom Hubert van Zeller give us a very good analogy about this seeking to be what we are not. “It is like a man looking at a photograph of himself and mentally imposing upon it an imagined image: he convinces himself that the likeness which exists only in his head, in his hopes, is what he really looks like. Anyone would tell him that the camera has done him ample justice but he prefers his touched up version. This faculty of seeing what we want to see extends to a wide range of religious perceptions.” (page 147)

      “In the spiritual order the same kind of astigmatism is called evasion, fantasy replacing reality. The dreary old sanctity that is expected of us is neglected for a nobler and more shining sanctity that we have seen in others and are now fashioning for ourselves. It means we are dictating to God, giving him specifications of a sanctity which is his alone to give. God rewards only his own gifts, not the gifts we try to get out of him.” (page 148)

      “In Cardinal Merry del Val’s well-known Litany of Humility the concluding prayer reads: ‘That others become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.’ Certainly one must need God’s grace to desire it, for most of us are too naturally eager to reach supernatural heights, and to beat others in competition. Yet the petition is entirely in line with what our Lord teaches in the parable of the talents. ‘Well done, good and faithful servant, because you have been faithful in a few things,’ which were all I gave you at the time, ‘I will place you over many.’ We may wish we had more talents but we should give thanks for the few that have been given us; we may wish we were holier but we should accept with thanksgiving the level of holiness God requires of us.” (page 149)

      Dom Hubert van Zeller, OSB, The Trodden Road. (Boston, MA: Daughters
      of St. Paul,1982) ISBN : 0-8198-7326-8 (cloth); ISBN : 0-8198-7327-6

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      3. Today's Lectionary Readings Text
      <http://www.usccb.org/nab/022806.shtml> (English)

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      Biblica Online

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      Monks of Adoration:

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      5. Polish Rosary Hour by the Conventual Franciscans

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      Color Photograph of Mama Gili, Biography and Prayers

      Cause of Mama Gili as Servant of God (Part 1)

      Cause of Mama Gili as Servant of God (Part 2)

      Need a Miracle?

      Dolores Immacolata "Mama" Gili (1892-1985)


      The Mama Gili Guild was established several years ago to gather,
      collect, and publish information on Dolores Immacolata Gili (1892-
      1985) for an investigation into her cause as a Servant of God, as
      well as to promote her cause and toperpetuate her cult by directing
      prayer groups assembled in her honor. It has continuously enjoyed the
      ecclesiastical approval of Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, and the Most
      Reverend John Joseph Myers, Archbishop of Newark, New Jersey.

      Call or write today regarding favors granted through the intercession
      of Dolores Immacolata "Mama" Gili, or, for more information about the
      cause of her investigation for canonization to:

      Rev. Dante DiGirolamo, Director
      Mama Gili Guild
      P. O. Box 455
      Kearny, New Jersey 07032
      Phone (973) 412-1170
      Fax (973) 412-7011

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      10. Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ. English Trans. Online

      Thomas a Kempis, De Imitatione Christi. Latin Text Online

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      When the Eucharistic host is elevated at Mass say:

      "Eternal Father, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
      I offer you the crucified Body of Your dearly beloved Son, Jesus
      Christ, in reparation for all the sins committed against you and for
      the conversion and salvation of the whole world."

      When the Eucharistic chalice is elevated at Mass say:

      "Eternal Father, through the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary,
      I offer you the precious Blood of Your dearly beloved Son, Jesus
      Christ, in reparation for all the sins committed against you and for
      the conversion and salvation of the whole world."

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      "during this important time, as the eve of the new millennium
      approaches unity among all Christians of the various confessions will
      increase until they reach full communion." John Paul II, Tertio
      Millennio Adveniente, 16

      "Keep close to the Mother of God as if you were the child Jesus
      clinging to her robes while walking down a dusty and busy crowded
      street and you'll always be safe."

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