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Volume 1, No. 87

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  • jlupia2
    ROMAN CATHOLIC NEWS Volume 1, Issue 87 WEDNESDAY, 26 December, 2001 Feast of St. Stephen. Protomartyr Today s Lectionary Readings
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 26, 2001

      Volume 1, Issue 87

      WEDNESDAY, 26 December, 2001

      Feast of St. Stephen. Protomartyr

      Today's Lectionary Readings


      * * *

      • John Paul II´s Message for Christmas 2001
      "Divine Child Brings the Key to Peace for Mankind"
      • Pope´s Homily at Christmas Midnight Mass
      "He Has Vanquished the Power of Evil"
      • Day of Fasting Brings in Donations
      • Christmas in Bethlehem: Few Tourists, No Arafat
      Somber Mood over Jesus´ Birthplace
      • Cardinal Murphy-O´Connor on the State of the Church in Britain
      Invitation from the Queen Is One Sign of Hope
      • Astronomer´s Theory on Star of Bethlehem
      Says Roman Astrologers Saw a Divine Sign in Double Eclipse

      * * *

      John Paul II´s Message for Christmas 2001
      "Divine Child Brings the Key to Peace for Mankind"

      VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- Here is a translation
      of John Paul II's Christmas message "urbi et orbi" (to the city and
      the world), given at midday from the balcony of St. Peter's

      1. "Christ is our peace", "Christ is our peace; he has made the
      two into one people" (cf. Ephesians 2:14).

      At the dawn of the new millennium, which began with so much
      hope but is now threatened by dark clouds of violence and war,
      the words of the Apostle Paul which we listen to this Christmas
      are a powerful ray of light, a cry of trust and optimism.

      The Divine Child born in Bethlehem brings in his little hands as
      a gift the key to peace for mankind. He is the Prince of Peace!
      This is the joyful news which echoed that night in Bethlehem,
      and which I wish to reaffirm before the world on this blessed day.

      Let us listen once more to the words of the angel: "I bring you
      good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to
      you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ
      the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11).

      On this day the Church echoes the song of the angels and
      repeats their astonishing message, which first amazed the
      shepherds on the hills above Bethlehem.

      2. "Christ is our peace!" Christ, "the babe wrapped in swaddling
      cloths and lying in the manger" (Luke 2:12), is indeed our peace.
      A helpless Newborn Child in a lowly cave restores dignity to
      every life being born, and brings hope to those overcome by
      doubt and discouragement.

      He has come to heal life's wounds and to restore meaning to
      death itself. In that Child, meek and defenceless, crying in a cold
      and bare cave, God has destroyed sin, and planted the seed of a
      new humanity, called to bring to fulfilment the original plan of
      creation and to transcend it through the grace of redemption.

      3. "Christ is our peace!" Men and women of the third millennium,
      you who hunger for justice and peace, accept the message of
      Christmas, which today rings out around the world! Jesus was
      born to strengthen the bonds uniting individuals and peoples, to
      make them all, in himself, brothers and sisters.

      He came to break down "the dividing wall of hostility" (Ephesians
      2:14) and to make one family of all mankind. Yes, we can repeat
      with certainty: Today, in the Incarnate Word, peace is born! Peace
      to be implored, for God alone is its source and guarantee. Peace
      to be forged in a world in which peoples and nations, burdened
      with so many and such varied difficulties, hope for a new
      humanity united not just by economic interests but by the
      unceasing effort to bring about a society that is more just and

      4. Let us hasten like the shepherds to Bethlehem, let us pause
      in adoration in the cave, and gaze upon the Newborn Redeemer.
      In him we can recognize the face of every little child who is born,
      of whatever race or nation: the little Palestinian and the little
      Israeli; the little American and the little Afghan; the child of the
      Hutu and the child of the Tutsi ... whoever the child is, to Christ
      each one is special.

      Today my thoughts go to all the children of the world: so many,
      too many are the children condemned from birth to suffer
      through no fault of their own the effects of cruel conflicts. Let us
      save the children, in order to save the hope of humanity! This is
      what we are urgently called to do by that Child born in
      Bethlehem, the God who became man, to give us back the right
      to hope.

      5. Let us beg from Christ the gift of peace for all who are
      suffering as a result of conflicts old and new. Day after day, I bear
      in my heart the tragic problems of the Holy Land; every day I think
      with anxiety of all those who are dying of cold and hunger; every
      day there reaches me the desperate cry of those who, in so
      many parts of the world, call for a fairer distribution of resources
      and for gainful employment for all.

      Let no one lose hope in the power of God's love! May Christ be
      the light and support of those who believe and work, sometimes
      in the face of opposition, for encounter, dialogue and
      cooperation between cultures and religions.

      May Christ guide in peace the steps of those who tirelessly
      devote themselves to the progress of science and technology.
      May these great gifts of God never be used against respect for
      human dignity and its promotion!

      May God's holy name never be used as a justification for hatred!
      Let it never be used as an excuse for intolerance and violence!
      May the gentle face of the Child of Bethlehem remind everyone
      that we all have one Father.

      6. Christ is our peace! Brothers and Sisters, who are listening to
      me, open your hearts to this message of peace, open your
      hearts to Christ, the Son of the Virgin Mary, to the One who
      became "our peace"! Open them to the One who takes nothing
      away from us except our sin, and who gives us in return the
      fullness of humanity and joy.

      And You, the Child of Bethlehem whom we adore, bring peace to
      every family and town, to every nation and continent. Come, God
      made man! Come to be the heart of the world renewed by love!
      Come where the fate of humanity is most in peril! Come and do
      not delay! You are "our peace" (Ephesians 2:14)!

      * * *

      Pope´s Homily at Christmas Midnight Mass
      "He Has Vanquished the Power of Evil"

      VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2001 (ZENIT.org).- Here is a translation
      of John Paul II's homily at Christmas Midnight Mass in St. Peter's

      1. "Populus, qui ambulabat in tenebris, vidit lucem magnam --
      The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light"
      (Isaiah 9:1).

      Every year we listen again to these words of the Prophet Isaiah
      in the moving context of the liturgical re-evocation of Christ's
      Birth. Every year these words take on new meaning and cause
      us to relive the atmosphere of expectation and hope, of
      amazement and joy typical of Christmas.

      To the people, oppressed and suffering, who walked in
      darkness, there appeared "a great light". A truly "great" light
      indeed, because the light which radiates from the humility of the
      crib is the light of the new creation. If the first creation began with
      light (cf. Genesis 1:3), how much more splendid and "great" is
      the light which inaugurates the new creation: it is God himself
      made man!

      Christmas is an event of light, it is the feast of light: in the Child
      of Bethlehem the primordial light once more shines in
      humanity's heaven and dissipates the clouds of sin. The
      radiance of God's definitive triumph appears on the horizon of
      history in order to offer a new future of hope to a pilgrim people.

      2. "Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone"
      (Isaiah 9:1).

      These joyful tidings, proclaimed just now in our assembly, are
      also meant for us, the men and women of the dawn of the third
      millennium. Throughout the world the community of believers
      gathers in prayer to listen to it once again. Amid the cold and
      snow of winter or in the torrid heat of the tropics, tonight is a Holy
      Night for all.

      Long awaited, the splendour of the new Day at last shines forth.
      The Messiah is born, Emmanuel, God-with-us! He is born, who
      was announced by the Prophets of old and long invoked by all
      "who dwelt in the land of gloom". In the silence and the
      darkness of the night, the light becomes a word and message of

      But does this certainty of faith not seem to clash with the way
      things are today? If we listen to the relentless news headlines,
      these words of light and hope may seem like words from a
      dream. But that is precisely the challenge of faith, which makes
      this proclamation at once comforting and demanding. It make us
      feel that we are wrapped in the tender love of God, while at the
      same time it commits us to a practical love of God and of our

      3. "The grace of God has appeared, offering salvation to all"
      (Titus 2:11).

      Our hearts this Christmas are anxious and distressed because
      of the continuation in various parts of the world of war, social
      tensions, and the painful hardships in which so many people
      find themselves. We are all seeking an answer that will reassure

      The passage from the Letter to Titus which we have just heard
      reminds us that the birth of the Only-begotten Son of the Father
      has been revealed as "an offer of salvation" in every corner of the
      earth, at every time in history. The Child who is named
      "Wonder-Counsellor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of
      Peace" (Isaiah 9:5) is born for every man and woman. He brings
      with him the answer which can calm our fears and reinvigorate
      our hope.

      Yes, in this night filled with sacred memories, our trust in the
      redemptive power of the Word made flesh is confirmed. When
      darkness and evil seem to prevail, Christ tells us once more:
      Fear not! By his coming into the world he has vanquished the
      power of evil, freed us from the slavery of death and brought us
      back to the banquet of life.

      It is up to us to draw from the power of his victorious love by
      appropriating his "logic" of service and humility. Each of us is
      called to overcome with Christ "the mystery of iniquity", by
      becoming witnesses of solidarity and builders of peace. Let us
      go then to the cave of Bethlehem to meet him, and to meet, in
      him, all the world's children, every one of our brothers and
      sisters afflicted in body or oppressed in spirit.

      4. The shepherds, "once they had seen, made known what had
      been told them concerning this child" (Luke 2:17).

      Like the shepherds, we too on this wonderful night cannot fail to
      experience the desire to share with others the joy of our
      encounter with this "child wrapped in swaddling cloths", in whom
      the saving power of the Almighty is revealed. We cannot pause in
      ecstatic contemplation of the Messiah lying in the manger, and
      forget our obligation to bear witness to him.

      In haste we must once more set out on our journey. With joy we
      must leave the cave of Bethlehem in order to recount everywhere
      the marvel which we have witnessed. We have encountered light
      and life! In him, love has been bestowed upon us.

      5. "A child is born to us...". (Isaiah 9:5).

      We welcome you with joy, Almighty Lord of heaven and earth,
      who out of love became a Child "in Judea, in the city of David,
      which is called Bethlehem" (Luke 2:4).

      We welcome you with gratitude, new Light rising in the night of
      the world.

      We welcome you as our brother, the "Prince of Peace", who
      "made of the two one people" (cf. Ephesians 2:14).

      Fill us with your gifts, you who did not hesitate to begin human
      life like us. Make us children of God, you who for our sake
      desired to become a son of man (cf. Saint Augustine, Homilies,

      You, "Wonder-Counsellor", sure promise of peace; you, powerful
      presence of the "God-Hero"; you, our one God, who lie poor and
      humble in the dim light of the stable, welcome us around your

      Come, peoples of the earth, open to him the doors of your
      history! Come to worship the Son of the Virgin Mary, who
      descended among us, on this night prepared for down the

      Night of joy and peace.

      Venite, adoremus!

      * * *

      Day of Fasting Brings in Donations

      VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II's appeal
      to fast on Dec. 14 in the name of peace and to donate the meal
      money for victims of terrorism and of war has brought in some
      $650,000 in donations.

      Papal spokesman Joaquín Navarro-Valls on Monday said that
      the money would be used to help above all "children, the elderly,
      the sick, people left homeless and those most exposed to the
      danger of cold and of hunger in these winter months." No
      specific recipient of the aid was cited.

      "His Holiness thanks all those who wanted to respond
      generously to his appeal, and hopes that international solidarity
      continues to support populations in difficulty even beyond the
      emergency," Navarro-Valls said.

      The Holy Father chose the end of the Muslim fasting period of
      Ramadan for the one-day fast, saying he hoped it would help
      build comprehension between Christians and Muslims.

      The Pope has spoken out several times about the Sept. 11
      attacks and has declared that nothing justifies terrorism.

      * * *

      Christmas in Bethlehem: Few Tourists, No Arafat
      Somber Mood over Jesus´ Birthplace

      BETHLEHEM, West Bank, DEC. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Tourists
      on Christmas Day stayed away from the town where Jesus was
      born, frightened by more than a year of violence. Israel prevented
      Yasser Arafat from making his annual pilgrimage.

      Latin Patriarch Michel Sabbah conducted morning Mass in
      Bethlehem, and about 300 people gathered for an afternoon
      procession through nearby Shepherds' Field in the mostly
      Christian town of Beit Sahour, where biblical tradition says the
      herders watching their sheep heard the news of the Christ
      Child's birth, the Associated Press reported.

      The group, which included local residents as well as priests
      from abroad, held prayers in a nearby church. The annual longer
      procession, from Manger Square about two miles away, was
      scrapped for lack of participants.

      With pilgrims and tourists almost entirely absent this year, there
      were few Christmas decorations and Manger Square reverted by
      midmorning to a parking lot as local residents, many of them
      Muslims, milled about, conducting business as usual.

      On Christmas Eve, a few thousand people gathered in Manger
      Square, most of them local Palestinians. Posters of Arafat and
      Palestinian flags outnumbered Christmas decorations in front of
      the fourth-century Church of the Nativity, marking the traditional
      birthplace of Jesus.

      Politics overwhelmed the celebration. A high point of the evening
      was a speech by Arafat, who is marooned in the town of
      Ramallah, 12 miles to the north. Palestinians in Manger Square
      watching the speech on TV applauded after Arafat blasted the

      Arafat complained, "The Israeli tanks, the barriers and the rifles
      of the oppressors have prevented me from sharing with you our
      annual celebration on this divine and blessed occasion."

      An empty chair in the front row, a black and white checkered
      keffiyeh headdress draped across it, symbolized Arafat's
      absence during the Midnight Mass at St. Catherine's Church next
      to the Church of the Nativity. In front of the chair was a lectern,
      padded with gold upholstery, and a sign with Arafat's name.

      Another empty chair was reserved for Bethlehem Mayor Hanna
      Nasser, who boycotted the service because Arafat was banned.

      Some congregants fell to their knees during the service. An
      elderly nun sat to one side of the church, her head bowed, hands
      folded in prayer. The warmly dressed crowd of about 700 people
      finished the service with a rendition of the carol "Silent Night."

      Last week Arafat called for an end to the violence in a televised
      speech, and seven Palestinians were killed in clashes between
      the Palestinian police and supporters of Islamic militant groups.

      But Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government has
      maintained that Arafat has done far from enough, and on Monday
      banned him from traveling overland to Bethlehem, insisting he
      must first arrest the assassins of an Israeli Cabinet minister
      who was gunned down in October.

      It was the first time Arafat, a Muslim, has missed the Midnight
      Mass since 1995, when Israel turned the town over to
      Palestinian control a few days before Christmas under interim
      peace accords.

      * * *

      Cardinal Murphy-O´Connor on the State of the Church in Britain
      Invitation from the Queen Is One Sign of Hope

      LONDON, DEC. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Cormac
      Murphy-O'Connor takes his high-profile job in stride.

      It has taken him nearly two years to shake off the description of
      "Cardinal Basil Hume's successor" and make his mark, the
      Telegraph newspaper said in an article based on an interview
      with the archbishop of Westminster. The cardinal is now
      recognized as a national religious leader, the paper said.

      "I have settled in," he says. "At 67, I thought it was about time for
      me to go and then they pushed me up here. ... I am doing what I

      Next month he will be a guest of Queen Elizabeth at the
      Sandringham royal country residence and will preach at a
      service for the Royal Family. It is the first time that a Catholic
      archbishop has stayed with the monarch since the Reformation
      and indicates a formal end to the historic hostility between the
      Crown and Catholic Church.

      The cardinal is pleased to be asked about it. "I think it reflects a
      change in ecumenical relations," he said. "It shows the queen is
      closer to Roman Catholicism and it is significant that this is
      happening at the start of her golden jubilee year."

      He made front-page news in September when he told priests
      that Christianity was "nearly vanquished" in Britain. The Christian
      backdrop to social, economic and political decisions had
      disappeared, he said. His words hit a nerve. That was five days
      before Sept. 11.

      Like other denominations, the Catholic Church enjoyed bigger
      congregations after the attacks. "I would never predict a revival
      but I would not be surprised," he says.

      "We are becoming a world without a father as we lose the
      consciousness of faith," the cardinal observes. "In losing God
      from our lives, we are losing someone who loves us, accepts us
      and forgives us. Without him, where do we turn?"

      The cardinal has not supported the military action in Afghanistan
      and his statement on Sept 25 said military force should only be
      used as "a last resort." The war, he believes, will affect "relations
      between North and South, poor and rich, Islam and the West for
      a very long time."

      One of his New Year projects is to transform the way the Church
      evangelizes. He wants people to get out of their cozy parishes
      and spread the Gospel. A dose of "joy and hope," he believes,
      would solve the Church's big worries, such as falling Mass
      attendance and the lack of priests in training.

      He says: "The answer is not a big campaign to recruit priests.
      There needs to be a renewal of the whole Catholic community.
      We could abolish celibacy tomorrow and I do not think it would
      make any difference to the number of vocations."

      As bishop of Arundel and Brighton for 22 years, he had time to
      play the piano, walk on the South Downs and to play golf. Now
      there is little time for relaxing, and his baby grand piano lies
      untouched under a dust sheet.

      Much of his energy is taken up with introducing reforms which he
      believes will strengthen the Church. His gentle manner belies a
      reforming zeal.

      Under his leadership, a young public-relations professional has
      been imported to manage media relations. It is the first time that
      a layman has done the job.

      He has also abolished the five areas of Westminster Diocese
      and centralized its management. A diocesewide computer
      system which connects every priest to an Internet site is on its
      way. Next year he will close one or more of the seven seminaries
      and review their curriculum.

      But by far the biggest and most difficult reform has been to the
      Church's child protection strategy. The cardinal commissioned
      Lord Nolan to scrutinize the Catholic Church after a string of child
      abuse scandals.

      He came back with 83 recommendations and the bishops have
      accepted them all. The cardinal has set up a national office for
      child protection in Birmingham, and police checks on all Church
      workers and priests are now in place.

      He said: "I want the Roman Catholic Church to be a model for
      child protection. I am confident that from now on any negligence
      in the past will never be repeated.

      "Child abuse is very shameful thing and the actions of a tiny
      number of priests have reflected on the whole Church. Yes, we
      are damaged and I want us to be restored."

      * * *

      Astronomer´s Theory on Star of Bethlehem
      Says Roman Astrologers Saw a Divine Sign in Double Eclipse

      NEW YORK, DEC. 25, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A U.S. astronomer
      claims he has found the first mention of the star of Bethlehem
      outside the Bible, the magazine New Scientist reports.

      The reference to the star is in a fourth-century manuscript written
      by a Roman astrologer and Christian convert called Firmicus

      Michael Molnar, formerly of Rutgers University in New Jersey, is
      the originator of the idea that the star of Bethlehem was not a
      spectacular astronomical event such as a supernova or a comet
      but an obscure astrological one.

      Still, the event would have been of great significance to ancient
      Roman astrologers. After studying the symbolism on Roman
      coins, he concluded that the "star" was in fact a double eclipse of
      Jupiter in a rare astrological conjunction that occurred in Aries on
      March 20, in the year 6 B.C., and again a month later on April 17.

      Molnar believed that Roman astrologers would have interpreted
      such an event as signifying the birth of a divine king in Judea. But
      he lacked proof. Now he says he has found it, in the Mathesis, a
      book written by Maternus in A.D. 334. Maternus described an
      astrological event involving an eclipse of Jupiter by the Moon in
      Aries, and said that it signified the birth of a divine king.

      "Maternus did not mention Jesus' name," says Molnar. "But
      Roman astrology was a popular craze at the time and everyone
      reading the book would have known the reference was to Jesus
      and that the astrological event was the star of Bethlehem."

      So why did Maternus not mention Jesus by name? According to
      Molnar, early Christians hated pagan beliefs and did not want to
      justify the biblical story with astrological speculation. The idea
      that the stars govern our fate, obviously contradicted belief in a
      Christian God who controlled the universe.

      "Being a pagan who had converted to Christianity during his
      lifetime, Firmicus was torn," says Molnar. "Hence his use of
      astrology to support the Christian story, but in a veiled way."

      According to Molnar, it was essential to early Christians that the
      true nature of the star be hidden, otherwise theologians would
      be mired in debate about celestial influences that were not part
      of Christianity. So they buried the knowledge of the star's
      astrological roots and in time it was forgotten, Molnar contends.

      "I take Molnar's work quite seriously," says Owen Gingerich, a
      historian of astronomy at Harvard University. "Anything he comes
      up with along these lines has to be considered as being very
      likely correct."

      * * *



      * * *




      Monks of Adoration:

      * * *


      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 to perpetuate 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

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

      Volume 1, Issue 14 C
      Cause of Mama Gili as Servant of God (Part 1)

      Volume 1, No. 16
      Cause of Mama Gili as Servant of God (Part 2)

      Volume 1, No. 29
      Need a Miracle?

      Volume 1, No. 68
      Dolores Immacolata "Mama" Gili (1892-1985)

      * * *


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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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