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Volume 3, Issue 185

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  • John N. Lupia
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 1, 2003
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      Volume 3, Issue 185
      THURSDAY 2 October 2003

      Feast of Guardian Angels

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      • Reflection on Canticle of Zechariah
      • Pope Stresses Need to Pray the Rosary
      • Papal Intention: for Youth to Be Witnesses of Christ
      • Stem Cell Research Could Treat Women Like Tools, Warns Holy See
      • 60,000 March in Support of Cardinal Sandoval
      • Oakland Bishop Retires; Coadjutor Vigneron to Take Helm
      • Vatican Reporters Reflect on the "Apostle Pope"
      • Church in Colombia to Mediate in Kidnappings

      * * *

      Reflection on Canticle of Zechariah

      Christ, Light "in the Shadow of Death," John Paul II Says

      VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to reflect on the Canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1:68-79).

      1. At the end of our journey through the Psalms and canticles of the Liturgy of Lauds, we want to reflect on a prayer that appears every morning at the moment of praise. It is the Benedictus, the canticle intoned by Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, when the birth of his son changed his life, removing the doubt that rendered him mute, a significant punishment for his lack of faith and praise.

      Now, instead, Zechariah can celebrate the God who saves, and he does so with this hymn, referred to by the evangelist Luke in a way that certainly reflects its liturgical use within the early Christian community (see Luke 1:68-79).

      The same evangelist defines it as a prophetic song, inspired by the breath of the Holy Spirit (see 1:67). We are, in fact, before a blessing that proclaims the salvific actions and the liberation offered by the Lord to his people. It is, indeed, a "prophetic" reading of history, namely, the discovery of the intimate and profound meaning of all human vicissitudes, guided by the hidden but effective hand of the Lord, which is intertwined with the weak and uncertain hand of man.

      2. The text is solemn and, in the Greek original, is made up of only two sentences (see verses 68-75; 76-79). Following the introduction, characterized by a laudatory blessing, we can identify in the body of the canticle virtually three stanzas, which exalt as many themes, destined to mark the whole history of salvation: the covenant with David (see verses 68-71), the covenant with Abraham (see verses 72-75), the Baptist who introduces us to the new covenant in Christ (see verses 76-79). The whole prayer tends toward the end that David and Abraham indicate with their presence.

      The vertex is summarized in a conclusive phrase: "the daybreak from on high will visit us" (verse 78). The expression, which at first glance seems paradoxical in uniting "high" and "daybreak" is, in fact, significant.

      3. In fact, in the Greek original the "rising sun" is "anatole," a word that means either the solar light which shines on our planet, or the sprouting shoot. Both images have a messianic value in biblical tradition.

      On one hand, speaking of Emmanuel, Isaiah reminds us that "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;/ Upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone" (9:1). On the other hand, referring again to king Emmanuel, he describes him as "a shoot from the stump of Jesse," namely, from the dynasty of David, a shoot enveloped by the Spirit of God (see Isaiah 11:1-2).

      With Christ, therefore, the light appears that enlightens every creature (see John 1:9) and life flowers, as the evangelist John will say when uniting, precisely, these two realities: "through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race" (1:4).

      4. Humanity, which dwells "in darkness and in the shadow of death" is illuminated by this radiance of revelation (see Luke 1:79). As the prophet Malachi announced, "for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays" (3:20). This sun will "guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:79).

      We move, now, having that light as our point of reference; and our uncertain steps, which during the day often walk on dark and slippery ways, are sustained by the light of the truth that Christ sheds on the world and on history.

      At this point, we would like to cede the word to a teacher of the Church, one of her Doctors, the British Bede the Venerable (seventh to eighth centuries) who in his Homily on the Birth of St. John the Baptist, commented thus on the Canticle of Zechariah: "The Lord ... has visited us like a doctor does his patients, because to cure the inveterate sickness of our pride, he has offered us the new example of his humility; he has redeemed his people, because he has liberated us, who had become servants of sin and slaves of the ancient enemy, at the price of his blood -- Christ found us who were lying "in darkness and the shadow of death,' that is, oppressed by the long blindness of sin and ignorance. ... He has brought us the true light of his knowledge and, banishing the darkness of error, he has shown us the sure way to the heavenly homeland. He has directed the steps of our works to make us walk in the way of truth, which he has shown us, and to make us enter the home of eternal peace, which he has promised us."

      5. Finally, drawing from other biblical texts, the Venerable Bede concluded thus, giving thanks for the gifts received: "Given that we are in possession of these gifts of the eternal goodness, dear brothers .... let us also bless the Lord at all times (see Psalm 33:2), because 'he has visited and redeemed his people.' May his praise be always on our lips, may we preserve his memory and proclaim the virtue of Him who has 'called you out of darkness into his marvelous light' (1 Peter 2:9). Let us ask him constantly for his help, so that he will preserve in us the light of knowledge that he has given us, and lead us to the day of perfection" ("Omelie sul Vangelo," [Homilies on the Gospel Rome], 1990, pp. 464-465).

      [Translation by ZENIT]

      [At the end of the audience, the Holy Father gave this summary in English:]

      Dear Brothers and Sisters,

      Our commentary on the Psalms and canticles from Morning Prayer concludes today with the Canticle of Zechariah, commonly known as the Benedictus. It is a prophetic canticle, in which the father of John the Baptist, indicates three events in God's liberation of Israel: the covenant with Abraham, the covenant with David, and the new covenant with Christ. Like the "dawn from on high," Christ gives light and guides us into the way of peace. As the Venerable Bede notes: Christ shows us "the sure way to reach our heavenly homeland."

      I offer greetings to the English-speaking visitors present today, especially those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the United States. I am pleased to offer a warm welcome and express my appreciation to the members of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, accompanied by His Eminence Cardinal Szoka. Upon all of you I invoke the grace and peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

      * * *

      Pope Stresses Need to Pray the Rosary

      Urges Confidence in the Virgin Mary

      VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Looking ahead to his pilgrimage to Pompeii in southern Italy, John Paul II invited believers to pray the rosary.

      "God willing, on Oct. 7, the day dedicated to the Blessed Virgin of the Rosary," the Pope told today's general audience, "I will go on pilgrimage to the Shrine of Pompeii to thank God for the work of sanctification of hearts that he realizes uninterruptedly thanks to this prayer."

      At that moment of the audience, the Holy Father was greeting Polish pilgrims who were among the 12,000 faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

      "Let us take ever more recourse to her," John Paul II said in his mother tongue. "May the living of the mysteries of Christ with Mary bring us ever closer to him, and be a spiritual path toward our meeting with him in the glory of heaven."

      The Holy Father, who at times seemed fatigued while reading his address and greeting pilgrims in 10 languages, spoke again in Italian before bidding the pilgrims farewell. He reminded them that this month marks the end of the Year of the Rosary.

      Greeting young people, the sick and newlyweds in the square, the Pontiff invited them to "pray with devotion this prayer so loved by the tradition of the Christian people."

      "Abandon yourselves with confidence into the hands of Mary, invoking her incessantly with the rosary, meditation of the mysteries of Christ," he added, prompting spontaneous applause from the faithful.

      On his pilgrimage to Pompeii, the Holy Father will leave the Vatican by helicopter at 9 a.m. He will go to pray for world peace and to recite the rosary at a shrine near Naples. He is scheduled to return to Rome at 1:30 p.m.

      Vatican sources confirmed to ZENIT that the Pope, as previously scheduled, will participate this Sunday in the Mass of canonization of three blessed: Daniel Comboni, Arnold Janssen and Josef Freinademetz.

      * * *

      Papal Intention: for Youth to Be Witnesses of Christ

      VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- During October, John Paul II will pray that Christian youth will be witnesses of Christ, so that the Church will have holy pastors and missionaries.

      Every month, the Pope offers his prayers and sacrifices for a special intention, published by the Apostleship of Prayer.

      This month the intention is: "That young people may follow Christ, the Way, the Truth, the Life, with generous enthusiasm and be ready to bear witness to him in all the situations in which they live."

      Every month the Holy Father also has a missionary intention. On this occasion it is: "That for the Church, God will not fail to provide pastors who are rich in wisdom and holiness and ready to defend the light of the Gospel to the very ends of the earth."

      The Apostleship of Prayer explained that these intentions, which all the faithful are called to pray for, seek among other things to help Catholics "to feel with the Church," as "they are windows open to the current problems of the world."

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      Stem Cell Research Could Treat Women Like Tools, Warns Holy See

      In an Address Urging Ban on All Forms of Human Cloning

      NEW YORK, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Vatican again urged a ban on all forms of human cloning and warned that some embryonic cell research could end up "instrumentalizing women."

      In a speech to a U.N. panel, the Vatican nevertheless appealing to the world community for research with adult stem cells that poses no ethical problems.

      Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See's permanent observer at the United Nations, expressed these points in a speech to the U.N. study commission now meeting to approve an "International Convention Against the Reproductive Cloning of Human Beings."

      In his address Monday, he supported research with human adult stem cells "when pursued in a way that it does not offend human dignity and, if applied clinically, respects the principle of informed consent."

      Archbishop Migliore stressed that "the cloning of human embryos to produce stem cells for potential therapeutic use has not only failed to demonstrate any verifiable scientific promise, it also raises serious ethical questions."

      He noted that the "experimental or research cloning of embryonic stem cells requires the production of millions of human embryos with the intention of destroying them as part of the process of using them for scientific research."

      "Destroying this embryo results in a deliberate suppression of an innocent human life," the archbishop said. "The early human embryo, not yet implanted into a womb, is nonetheless a human individual, with a human life."

      Women also suffer the problems of a moral character that stem from human reproductive cloning, he said.

      He explained that research in embryonic cells requires, in order "to be effective, a large number of human eggs or oocytes. The process of obtaining these eggs, which is not without risk, would use women's bodies as mere reservoirs of oocytes, instrumentalizing women and undermining their dignity."

      To this must be added "the massive demand for human oocytes which would disproportionately affect the poor and marginalized women of the world, bringing a new type of injustice, victimization and discrimination into existence," Archbishop Migliore continued.

      Thus, the Holy See holds that "only a comprehensive convention on human cloning, which would address all these issues and not just reproductive cloning, will be able to respond to the challenges of the 21st century on this issue," he said.

      The archbishop further warned that, while a partial agreement might address immediately some issues related to human cloning, it could generate more problems.

      He suggested instead that research in "adult" stem cells is a "scientific way" of great hopes and a "moral and valid way" for the good of all, not just of some individuals.

      "With the passage of each day, their great scientific promise increases," he said. "Do we really want to render an effective and timely service to many of our fellow human beings suffering from incurable diseases? I am sure we all do."

      Thus, the international community "must give a powerful signal" in this direction, he added.

      The U.N. meeting represents a fundamental stage in the efforts to prohibit human cloning. It is the objective of the study commission, established at the initiative of France and Germany in 2001.

      These two countries asked the United Nations to prohibit clearly the practice of reproductive cloning, which the international body had already said was worrying because of its consequences to human dignity.

      However, the commission has limited itself to say a simple "no" to cloning with reproductive ends, leaving for another occasion the examination of "therapeutic" cloning, namely, the cloning of embryos for their subsequent use in the extraction of stem cells.

      The study will continue until Oct. 3. The commission consequently might present a resolution to the General Assembly for debate Oct. 20.

      * * *

      60,000 March in Support of Cardinal Sandoval

      Mexican Archbishop Under Investigation

      GUADALAJARA, Mexico, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- More than 60,000 Catholics joined forces to march "for peace and justice" in support of Guadalajara's Cardinal Juan Sandoval lñiguez, who is under investigation by Mexico's attorney general's office.

      Posters reading "I believe in the cardinal" were carried by the marchers on Sunday, and hundreds of banners expressed the affection and confidence of Guadalajara's Catholics in their pastor, the city's archdiocesan weekly newspaper reported. Catholics from other cities also joined the march.

      The march ended at the cathedral. During the Mass, the archbishop said that he would not "cease his struggle for truth and justice," and thanked Catholics for their support "in these difficult times."

      According to the organizers, members of the archdiocese's Commission of Lay Organizations, the march had two objectives: "To express publicly unconditional support for our pastor, Cardinal Juan Sandoval," and "to make very clear that, as Church, the lay faithful do not waive their demand for the truth until there is full clarification of the assassination of Cardinal Juan Jesús Posadas Ocampo." The latter was murdered in 1993.

      "We believe that this absurd accusation against our pastor is only a 'ploy' to deflect attention from Cardinal Sandoval's courageous insistence to know the truth about the crime against his predecessor," the organizers said in a statement.

      The cardinal's supporters demand that the attorney general's office observe impartiality and respect for the law. "Guilty ones must not be fabricated at random, nor the real delinquents exonerated," the statement said.

      Cardinal Sandoval and the others targeted in the money-laundering probe presented a complaint to the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights. He also filed a complaint with the National Commission on Human Rights, citing violations of his rights stemming from the investigation.

      * * *

      Oakland Bishop Retires; Coadjutor Vigneron to Take Helm

      OAKLAND, California, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II accepted the resignation of Bishop John Cummins, 75, of Oakland, the Vatican press office announced today. Coadjutor Bishop Allen Vigneron will become ordinary of the diocese.

      Allen Vigneron was born on Oct. 21, 1948, in Mount Clemens, Michigan. He earned a licentiate in theology at the Gregorian University, Rome, in 1977, and a Ph.D. at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., in 1988. He was ordained a priest of the Detroit Archdiocese on July 26, 1975.

      Appointed auxiliary bishop of Detroit on June 12, 1996, he was ordained a bishop the following July 9. He was appointed coadjutor bishop of Oakland last Jan. 10 and installed Feb. 26.

      John Cummins had been appointed bishop of Oakland in May 1977. The diocese comprises Alameda and Contra Costa counties in Northern California. It has a Catholic population of 432,890 in a total population of 2.43 million.

      * * *

      Vatican Reporters Reflect on the "Apostle Pope"

      Preaching Christ Is His Passion, They Say

      ROME, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Can anything new be said about John Paul II after a quarter century of pontificate? Several Vatican correspondents asked themselves this very question in the Foreign Press Room here.

      The journalists were attending the presentation Tuesday of a book on the Pope by the late journalist Domenico del Rio.

      They concluded that much could still be discovered about John Paul II, not only by listing his unpublished activities but by reflecting in-depth on the meaning of his mission.

      Regarding the Pope's health, they offered no predictions since many such predictions in the past have been proved wrong.

      Marco Tossati, Vatican correspondent of La Stampa, recalled that journalists considered the Pope all but dead "at least six times since 1992."

      Speculation about the Holy Father's health resurfaced when the German magazine Bunde quoted Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as saying that the Pope is not well and "we must pray for him."

      The cardinal's statements, though made Sept. 22, triggered fresh speculation in the media when they were published this week.

      Reflecting on John Paul II's pontificate, Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican Television Center, portrayed the Pope as having the ability "to look at distant horizons, in space and time."

      According to Luigi Accatoli, religious correspondent of Il Corriere della Sera, this pontificate can be summarized thus: "Of his 10 fingers, John Paul II has used nine to preach the Gospel and one to govern the Church."

      "He is an apostle Pope, centering everything on the preaching of Jesus Christ," added this author of many books. "Today the Pope appears vulnerable and weak because he knows he cannot come down from the cross." He added that John Paul II "interprets his mission in terms of faith."

      Tossati observed that one of the mistakes of journalists who follow the Pope on his trips is "to focus attention on everything the Pontiff does," when, in fact, they should understand his mentality and realize that the Pope's objective is none other than to "oblige the local Churches to take up their role, before him and before their own country, to define themselves, to be themselves."

      The journalists commented on the figure of Domenico del Rio, a Vatican specialist, who died early this year. From being an outspoken critic, del Rio became a great admirer of John Paul II, thanks to his Christian witness.

      In his posthumous book, "Karol, The Great" (Paoline Publishers), del Rio presents the Holy Father as "great in strength at the beginning of his pontificate, and great in his frailty in recent times."

      * * *

      Church in Colombia to Mediate in Kidnappings

      BOGOTA, Colombia, OCT. 1, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Catholic Church representatives, at the request of the government, will mediate for the release of seven foreigners kidnapped by leftist guerrillas.

      "The Church expresses its willingness to collaborate with a way out that will enable the kidnapped to regain their freedom alive and soon," said Father Darío Echeverry, the secretary-general of the National Conciliation Commission.

      Rebels of the National Liberation Army (ELN) kidnapped four Israelis, a Briton, a Spaniard and a German on Sept. 12. The kidnappings took place when the foreigners were visiting Colombia's Lost City, Indian ruins of the Tayrona culture, in the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, about 950 kilometers (590 miles) north of Bogota.

      Father Echeverry's statement was published in response to an affirmation of Luis Carlos Restrepo, High Commissioner for Peace, who revealed that President Alvaro Uribe's government asked the Church "to initiate a humanitarian endeavor for the purpose of seeking the release of kidnapped foreigners controlled by the ELN."

      The government requested the Church's mediation shortly after the ELN claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of the foreigners, and said it was prepared to find a "bloodless way out."

      There were 2,986 abductions in 2002. Most kidnappings were carried out by the guerrillas looking for ransom.

      * * *


      Chapter Two (continued)

      St. Gregory the Great’s teaching of the Christian life describes the human condition as lived misery. “Man’s wretchedness comes from his physical nature, from Original Sin, from the egoism that harries each one of us, which is always on the watch, and which tends to vitiate all our actions, even the good ones. It must be put to rout constantly: not only at the outset of our actions, by purifying our intentions, but also during our actions, and again at the end, for it is always a menace to us.” (37).

      St. Gregory the Great speaks of the “weight” that attracts us to earthly desires and “gravity” that describes corruption characteristic of sin, which is why we speak of “grave sins”.

      He also speaks of interior agitation as inquietude, the lack of serenity, tranquility and peace of mind basic to the human condition.

      We bring our human condition with us in all our relationships, interactions and undertakings, including lectio divina. This is why it is easy for us to apply the text of Scripture to our current condition and state of life. Elevating our minds and hearts to God prayerfully in lectio divina opens us up to the realization of our frailty and infirmity and our need for God’s healing mercy, grace and love.

      Jean Leclercq, O.S.B., The Love of Learning and the Desire For God. A Study of Monastic Culture. (NY: Fordham University Press, 1961, 1974) ISBN 0-8232-0406-5

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      3. Today's Lectionary Readings Text

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      5. Polish Rosary Hour by the Conventual Franciscans

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      Our Father Movie

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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 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 to:

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      Phone (973) 412-1170
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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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