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Volume 6, Issue 56

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  • John N. Lupia
    Message 1 of 1 , May 18, 2006
      Roman Catholic News

      Volume 6, Issue 56

      SATURDAY 27 MAY 2006

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      VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2006 (VIS) - At 5.15 p.m. today, Benedict XVI arrived by helicopter at the Polish city of Czestochowa to visit the Shrine of the Virgin of Jasna Gora, Poland's most famous Marian shrine, where John Paul II confided his pontificate to the Mother of God.

      The image of the Virgin of Jasna Gora is decked with new vestments, in fulfillment of a vow to mark the 350th anniversary of the defense of her shrine against Swedish troops by Fr. Augustin Kordecki, and as an _expression of gratitude for the life of John Paul II on the 25th anniversary of the birth of the "Solidarnosc" trade union. The image's golden crowns were blessed and offered by John Paul II on April 1 2005, the eve of his death.

      At 6 p.m., having visited the convent of the shrine, which is under the care of the Pauline Fathers, the Holy Father met with religious, seminarians and representatives from Catholic movements and institutes of consecrated life.

      In his address to the them, Pope Benedict began by affirming that "Mary, the Mother of the Lord, is among us. Today it is she who leads our meditation; she teaches us how to pray. Mary shows us how to open our minds and our hearts to the power of the Holy Spirit, Who comes to us so as to be brought to the whole world."

      "Mary sustained the faith of Peter and the Apostles in the Upper Room, and today she sustains my faith and yours," said the Pope. "Faith is contact with the mystery of God. ... It is the gift, given to us in Baptism, which makes our encounter with God possible. God is hidden in mystery; to claim to understand Him would mean to want to confine Him within our thinking and knowing, and consequently to lose Him irremediably. With faith, however, we can open up a way through concepts, even theological concepts, and can 'touch' the living God."

      "In the Upper Room the Apostles did not know what awaited them. They were afraid and worried about their own future. ... Mary, 'she who believed in the fulfillment of the Lord's words,' ... taught perseverance in the faith. By her own attitude she convinced them that the Holy Spirit, in His wisdom, knew well the path on which He was leading them, and that consequently they could place their confidence in God."

      "Many of you here present have experienced this secret call of the Holy Spirit and have responded. ... It was Jesus who called you, inviting you to a more profound union with Him."

      "Do you remember," the Holy Father asked the religious, "your enthusiasm when you began the pilgrimage of the consecrated life, trusting in the grace of God? Try not to lose this first fervor, and let Mary lead you to an ever fuller adherence."

      He cried: "Dear men and women religious, dear consecrated persons! Whatever the mission entrusted to you, ... maintain in your hearts the primacy of your consecrated life" which, "lived in faith, unites you closely to God, calls forth charisms and confers an extraordinary fruitfulness to your service."

      Turning to address seminarians, the Pope recommended they reflect "on the way Mary learned from Jesus! From her very first 'fiat,' through the long, ordinary years of the hidden life, as she brought up Jesus, ... she 'learned' Him moment by moment. ... On your journey of preparation, and in your future priestly ministry, let Mary guide you as you 'learn' Jesus. Keep your eyes fixed on Him. Let Him form you, so that in your ministry you will be able to show Him to all who approach you."

      "The vitality of your communities," Benedict XVI told representatives of the new movements in the Church, "is a sign of the Holy Spirit's active presence! It is from the faith of the Church and from the richness of the fruits of the Holy Spirit that your mission has been born. ... Believe in the grace of God which accompanies you and bring it into the living fabric of the Church, especially in places the priest or religious cannot reach."

      "You are nourished," he continued, "by different schools of spirituality recognized by the Church. Draw upon the wisdom of the saints, have recourse to the heritage they have left us. Form your minds and your hearts on the works of the great masters and witnesses of the faith, knowing that the schools of spirituality must not be a treasure locked up in convents or libraries.

      "The Gospel wisdom, contained in the writings of the great saints and attested to in their lives, must be brought in a mature way, not childishly or aggressively, to the world of culture and work, to the world of the media and politics. ... The authenticity of your faith and mission, which does not draw attention to itself but truly radiates faith and love, can be tested by measuring it against Mary's faith. ... Remain in her school!"

      "God is love," the Holy Father concluded, "These were the words that I placed at the beginning of the first Encyclical of my pontificate. ... This is the most important, most central truth about God. To all for whom it is difficult to believe in God, I say again today: 'God is love.' Dear friends, be witnesses to this truth."

      At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI returned by helicopter to Krakow where, after dinner, he appeared at the balcony of the archbishop's palace to greet people gathered in the street below, following a custom of John Paul II when he visited Krakow.

      "I know," he told them, "that on the second of each month, at the time my beloved predecessor died, you meet here to commemorate him and pray for his elevation to the honors of the altar. May this prayer be of support to those who concern themselves with his cause [of beatification] and enrich your hearts with grace."

      "Despite his death, he - young in God - is among us, he invites us to reinvigorate the grace of faith and renew ourselves in the Spirit."

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      VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2006 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today, having celebrated a private Mass in the chapel of the archbishop's palace in Krakow, the Holy Father travelled by car to Wadowice, the home town of John Paul II.

      The Pope visited the basilica of the Immaculate Conception, where Karol Wojtyla was baptized, before going on to see the house in which he was born. On May 18, 1984, in honor of the late pontiff's 64th birthday, the house was converted into a museum. Benedict XVI visited the apartment in which the Wojtyla family lived, which is now used as an exhibition space for photographs recording Karol Wojtyla's life as priest, bishop and Pope.

      At 11 a.m., the Pope met with local inhabitants in Wadowice's Rynek Square, in front of the basilica of the Immaculate Conception.

      Following a greeting from Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow, the Pope delivered his address. "I wished to stop precisely here, in the place where his faith began and matured," he said referring to his predecessor, "to pray together with all of you that he may soon be elevated to the glory of the altars."

      The Holy Father then recalled how John Paul II would often refer to the baptismal font of the church of Wadowice where, on June 20, 1920 he received the Sacrament of Christian initiation, and for which he had "special veneration." This, said Pope Benedict, is "the key to understanding the consistency of his faith, the radicalism of his Christian life and the desire for sanctity that he continuously manifested."

      "His love for the Church was born in the parish of Wadowice. In it he experienced the sacramental life, evangelization and the formation of a mature faith. For this reason, as a priest, as a bishop and as Pope, he treated parish communities with such great care. In the spirit of that same solicitude, during the visit 'ad limina,' I asked the Polish bishops to do everything possible to ensure that the Polish parish would truly be an 'ecclesial community' and a 'family of the Church'."

      The Holy Father then recalled another "characteristic of the faith and spirituality of John Paul II, which is united to this place. ... The deep attachment of the inhabitants of Wadowice to the local image of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. ... This memory helps us arrive at the source of the conviction that nourished John Paul II: the conviction regarding the exceptional place that the Mother of God had in his life, a conviction that he himself, filled with devotion, expressed in the motto 'Totus tuus.' Until the last moments of his earthly pilgrimage he remained faithful to this dedication."

      "In the spirit of this devotion," the Pope concluded, "before this image I wish to give thanks to God for the pontificate of John Paul II and, like him, I ask that Our Lady watch over the Church which by the will of God has been entrusted to me to guide. I also ask all of you to pray for me just as you prayed for your great fellow countryman."

      At the end of the meeting, the Holy Father travelled by car to the Shrine of the Virgin of Kalwaria. The shrine, dedicated to the Passion of Jesus and the Virgin of Sorrows, takes its name from the Calvary of Jerusalem. Its 15 kilometer-long Via Crucis is the only Way of the Cross to be included among UNESCO's world heritage sites. As a youth Karol Wojtyla used to make frequent pilgrimages there.

      After visiting the shrine, Benedict XVI delivered a brief greeting to the community of Friars Minor living in the convent of the shrine, and to the faithful gathered there. The Pope recalled how, during his first journey to Poland, Pope John Paul II had visited this shrine and had dedicated his address to the topic of prayer. "At the conclusion he said: 'I ask you to pray for me here during my life and after my death.' Today, I wanted to pause for a moment in the chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, with gratitude, to pray for him as he requested. Following the example of John Paul II, I also turn to you, kindly asking that you pray for me and for all the Church."

      During his return journey to Krakow, the Pope visited the Shrine of Divine Mercy in Langiewniki. He paused in prayer before the tomb of St. Faustina Kowalska where Karol Wojtyla frequently came to pray when he was a worker and later as a clandestine seminarian in the 1940s. Benedict XVI also visited the basilica where he met with 800 sick people.

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      VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2006 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed:

      - Msgr. Lajos Varga of the clergy of the diocese of Vac, Hungary, pastor of Paszto, as auxiliary of the diocese of Vac (area 8,800, population 1,116,000, Catholics 640,000, priests 222, permanent deacons 5, religious 191). The bishop-elect was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1950 and ordained a priest in 1974.

      - Fr. Pablo Virgilio Siongco David of the clergy of the archdiocese of San Fernando, Philippines, professor of Holy Scripture in the archdiocesan seminary, as auxiliary of the same archdiocese (area 2,180, population 3,060,000, Catholics 2,855,000, priests 165, religious 212). The bishop-elect was born in Betis, Philippines in 1959 and ordained a priest in 1983.

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      VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2006 (VIS) - The Pope departed from Rome's Fiumicino airport at 8.50 a.m. today bound for Poland where he landed, following a flight of just over two hours, at the international airport of Warsaw-Okecie. Waiting to welcome the Holy Father were Lech Kaczynski, president of Poland, accompanied by his wife, Cardinal Jozef Glemp, primate of the Polish Catholic Church, and Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow.

      After listening to the president's welcome speech, Benedict XVI affirmed in his own address that he had come to Poland "to follow in the footsteps" of Servant of God John Paul II, "from his boyhood until his departure for the memorable conclave of 1978." He also mentioned the theme of his trip, taken from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians: "Stand firm in your faith."

      "This is no mere sentimental journey," the Pope added, "but rather a journey of faith, a part of the mission entrusted to me by the Lord in the person of the Apostle Peter."

      Recalling the various stages of his forthcoming journey - Warsaw, Czestochowa, Krakow, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Krakow - he concluded: "Finally, I shall go to Auschwitz. There I hope especially to meet survivors of the Nazi terror who come from different countries, all of whom suffered under that tragic tyranny."

      Earlier, during the flight from Warsaw to Rome, speaking to journalists accompanying him on his trip, the Pope described what happened in the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau as "something monstrous."

      While visiting the camps, he added, he will "think of the many dead," but will also seek "to understand how it was possible for man to fall so low and down tread others."

      "Let us hope that, from Auschwitz, there arises a new sense of humanism and a vision of man as the image of God. Let us hope this will serve to prevent such things ever happening again."

      At the end of the welcome ceremony, Benedict XVI travelled by popemobile to the cathedral of Warsaw, dedicated to St. John, where he participated in a meeting with clergy.

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      VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2006 (VIS) - At 12.30 p.m. today, the Pope participated in a meeting with clergy in the cathedral of Warsaw, which is dedicated to St. John.

      Opening his address, the Holy Father recalled the figure of Servant of God Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, known in Poland as "Primate of the Millennium" who, "abandoning himself to Christ and to His Mother, knew how to serve the Church faithfully, despite the tragic and prolonged trials that surrounded him."

      After calling on the assembled priests to "believe in the power of your priesthood," Benedict XVI said: "Let us not be consumed with haste, as if time dedicated to Christ in silent prayer were time wasted. ... There is no need to be discouraged on account of the fact that prayer requires effort, or because of the impression that Jesus remains silent. He is indeed silent, but He is at work."

      "In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host. Be assiduous in the prayer of adoration and teach it to the faithful. It is a source of comfort and light particularly to those who are suffering."

      The Holy Father emphasized how "the faithful expect only one thing from priests: that they be specialists in promoting the encounter between man and God. The priest is not asked to be an expert in economics, construction or politics. He is expected to be an expert in the spiritual life."

      "In the face of the temptations of relativism or the permissive society, there is absolutely no need for the priest to know all the latest changing currents of thought; what the faithful expect from him is that he be a witness to the eternal wisdom contained in the revealed Word. Solicitude for the quality of personal prayer and for good theological formation bear fruit in life."

      "Christ," said Benedict XVI, "needs priests who are mature, virile, capable of cultivating an authentic spiritual paternity."

      After recalling how John Paul II, "on the occasion of the Great Jubilee, ... frequently exhorted Christians to do penance for infidelities of the past," he said: "We must therefore learn to live Christian penance with sincerity. By practicing it, we confess individual sins in union with others, before them and before God.

      "Yet we must guard against the arrogant claim of setting ourselves up to judge earlier generations, who lived in different times and different circumstances. Humble sincerity is needed in order not to deny the sins of the past, and at the same time not to indulge in facile accusations in the absence of real evidence or without regard for the different preconceptions of the time. ... As we ask pardon for the wrong that was done in the past, we must also remember the good accomplished with the help of divine grace."

      The Church in Poland today, the Holy Father said, "faces an enormous pastoral challenge: ... The scourge of unemployment [which] obliges many people to go abroad. It is a widespread and large-scale phenomenon. When families are divided in this way, when social links are broken, the Church cannot remain indifferent."

      He concluded by exhorting the priests to "serve everyone; be accessible in the parishes and in the confessionals, accompany the new movements and associations, support families, do not forget the link with young people, remember the poor and the abandoned."

      At the end of the meeting, before leaving the cathedral, the Pope paused in prayer before the tombs of two late primates of Poland: Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski (1901-1981) and August Hlond (1881-1948).

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      VATICAN CITY, MAY 25, 2006 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. today, the Holy Father traveled to the presidential palace in Warsaw, where he paid a courtesy visit to Lech Kaczynski, president of the Republic of Poland. During the visit he also greeted the prime minister, and the two presidents of the country's parliament.

      Following his meeting with the Polish president, Benedict XVI moved on to the Lutheran church of the Most Holy Trinity where he met delegates from the seven Churches that form the Polish Council for Ecumenism (PRE): Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, Methodists, Baptists, Old Catholic Mariavite Church, Autocephalous Orthodox Church in Poland, Evangelical Reformed, and Polish Catholic. Since 1970, the PRE has supported theological dialogue with the Catholic Church, and met with John Paul II in Poland during his pastoral visits to the country.

      In the church of the Most Holy Trinity, site of numerous ecumenical encounters, John Paul II presided over an ecumenical service for unity on June 9, 1991.

      Addressing those present, Benedict XVI said: "Together with you I give thanks for the gift of this encounter of common prayer. I see it as a stage in the implementation of the firm purpose I expressed at the beginning of my pontificate, to consider a priority in my ministry the restoration of full visible unity among Christians."

      The Pope went on to refer to the "responsibility" inherent in announcing the message of Christ. A message which "must reach everyone on earth, thanks to the commitment of those who believe in Him and who are called to bear witness that He is truly sent by the Father. ... The task of Christ's disciples, the task of each of us, is therefore to tend towards ... unity, in such a way that we become, as Christians, the visible sign of His saving message, addressed to every human being."

      The Pope recalled the words pronounced in the same church by John Paul II: "The seriousness of the task prohibits all haste or impatience, but the duty to respond to Christ's will demands that we remain firm on the path towards peace and unity among all Christians."

      "Since that encounter, much has changed," Pope Benedict continued. "God has granted us to take many steps towards mutual understanding and rapprochement." In this context, he mentioned "the publication of the Encyclical Letter 'Ut Unum Sint;' the Christological agreements with the pre-Chalcedonian Churches; the signing at Augsburg of the 'Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification;' ... the ecumenical memorial of twentieth-century witnesses of faith," and the great ecumenical initiatives in Poland.

      "We note much progress in the field of ecumenism and yet we always await something more," said the Pope, going on to focus on two specific issues: "The charitable service of the Churches," and "married life and family life."

      "We cannot forget," he said, "the essential idea that from the outset constituted the very firm foundation for the disciples' unity: 'within the community of believers there can never be room for a poverty that denies anyone what is needed for a dignified life.' This idea is always current. ... Accepting contemporary charitable challenges depends in large measure on our mutual cooperation. ... I note with appreciation that in the community of the Catholic Church and in other Churches and ecclesial communities, various new forms of charitable activity have spread and old ones have reappeared with renewed vigor. They are forms which often combine evangelization and works of charity. It seems that, despite all the differences that need to be overcome in the sphere of interdenominational dialogue, it is legitimate to attribute charitable commitment to the ecumenical community of Christ's disciples in search of full unity. We can all collaborate in helping the needy, by exploiting this network of reciprocal relations which is the fruit of dialogue among ourselves and of joint action."

      On the second issue, the Pope noted how, "in today's world, in which international and intercultural relations are multiplying, it happens increasingly often that young people from different traditions, different religions, or different Christian denominations, decide to start a family." This is often "a difficult decision that brings with it various dangers concerning perseverance in the faith, the future structuring of the family, and the creation of an atmosphere of unity within the family. ... Nevertheless, thanks to the spread of ecumenical dialogue on a larger scale, the decision can lead to the formation of a practical workshop of unity."

      The Holy Father concluded by expressing his appreciation to the Bilateral Commission of the Council for Ecumenical Issues of the Polish Episcopal Conference and to the Polish Council for Ecumenism, "which have begun to draft a document presenting common Christian teaching on marriage and family life and establishing principles acceptable to all for contracting interdenominational marriages, indicating a common program of pastoral care for such marriages."

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      VATICAN CITY, MAY 26, 2006 (VIS) - At 9.15 this morning, the Pope travelled from the apostolic nunciature, where he had spent the night, to Warsaw's Pilsudski Square, also known as Victory Square, where he presided at a Eucharistic concelebration. It was in Pilsudski Square, on June 2 1979, that John Paul II began his first pastoral visit to his homeland.

      Concelebrating with the Holy Father were Polish cardinals and bishops, as well as bishops from other countries and a large number of priests. The service was attended by 270,000 people, including Lech Kaczynski, president of Poland, and other civil authorities.

      Addressing the faithful gathered under the driving rain, Benedict XVI recalled in his homily how in the same square, "on the eve of Pentecost, Pope John Paul II uttered the significant words of the prayer 'Let your Spirit descend, and renew the face of the earth.' And he added: 'The face of this land'."

      "How can we not thank God today for all that was accomplished in your native land and in the whole world during the pontificate of John Paul II? Before our eyes, changes occurred in entire political, economic and social systems. People in various countries regained their freedom and their sense of dignity."

      Faced with people or groups who obscure Church tradition, "seeking to falsify the Word of Christ and to remove from the Gospel those truths which, in their view, are too uncomfortable for modern man," said the Pope, "every Christian is bound to confront his own convictions continually with the teachings of the Gospel and of the Church's Tradition in the effort to remain faithful to the word of Christ, even when it is demanding and, humanly speaking, hard to understand.

      "We must not yield to the temptation of relativism or of a subjectivist and selective interpretation of Sacred Scripture. Only the whole truth can open us to adherence to Christ, Who died and rose for our salvation."

      After highlighting how "faith consists in an intimate relationship with Christ," Benedict XVI made it clear that to love Christ means "trusting Him even in times of trial. ... Entrusting ourselves to Christ, we lose nothing, we gain everything. In His hands our life acquires its true meaning. ... To love Him is to remain in dialogue with Him, in order to know His will and to put it into effect promptly."

      He added: "Yet living one's personal faith as a love-relationship with Christ also means being ready to renounce everything that constitutes a denial of His love. ... Faith as adherence to Christ is revealed as love that prompts us to promote the good inscribed by the Creator into the nature of every man and woman among us, into the personality of every human being and into everything that exists in the world."

      The Pope concluded his homily by recalling that 27 years ago, "in this place, Pope John Paul II said: 'Poland has become nowadays the land of particularly responsible witness.' I ask you now," he added, "to cultivate this rich heritage of faith transmitted to you by earlier generations, the heritage of the thought and the service of that great Pole who was Pope John Paul II. Stand firm in your faith, hand it down to your children, bear witness to the grace which you have experienced so abundantly through the Holy Spirit in the course of your history."

      At the conclusion of the Mass, the Holy Father returned to the apostolic nunciature, where he had lunch with members of his entourage.

      Early this afternoon, he will travel by helicopter to Czestochowa where he will visit the most famous Marian shrine in Poland and meet with religious, seminarians and representatives from Catholic movements and institutes of consecrated life. He will then move on to Krakow where he is due spend the night in the archbishop's place.

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      3. Today's Lectionary Readings Text
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      AUDIO RECORDINGS OF THE DIVINE OFFICE: recited by the Monks of


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      5. Polish Rosary Hour by the Conventual Franciscans


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      10. Thomas a Kempis, Imitation of Christ. English Trans. 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 will
      always be

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