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Volume 4, Issue 232

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  • John N. Lupia
    ROMAN CATHOLIC NEWS Volume 4, Issue 232 WEDNESDAY 22 December 2004 Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent * * * WEAR THE BROWN SCAPULAR OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 21, 2004
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      Volume 4, Issue 232

      WEDNESDAY 22 December 2004

      Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

      * * *


      * * *

      . Christian Martyrs: Witnesses for the World
      . Jerusalem Patriarch Sees Hope for Peace
      . Congolese Prelate Warns Nation Is in Danger
      . Tribute Made to Brazilian Envoy Who Helped Jews
      . What Christians Should Get Out of Christmas

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, DEC 22, 2004 (VIS) - In today's general audience, celebrated in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father spoke about the mystery of Christmas.

      John Paul II said that "during these days of preparation for Christmas we pray continually in the liturgy 'Come Lord Jesus'."

      "On Christmas," he continued, "we contemplate the great mystery of God becoming man in the Virgin's womb. He is born in Bethlehem to share our fragile human condition! He comes among us and brings salvation to the whole world. His mission will be to reunite all human beings and peoples in the one family of the children of God. We can say that in the mystery of Christmas, we contemplate the 'leap forward' in the history of salvation."

      The Pope emphasized that "in Christ we are offered the gift of a new and fuller communion with Him. Hope springs up in our hearts, and the gates of heaven are opened for us."

      The Holy Father concluded by expressing his desire that "the celebration of Christmas may be a propitious occasion to truly live the value and meaning of the great event of Jesus' birth."

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, DEC 22, 2004 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Fr. Sebastiao Bandeira Coelho, rector of the major seminary of the diocese of Balsas, as auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese of Manaus (area 64,079, population 1,405,835, Catholics 1,200,000, priests 122, religious 266), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Riacao, Brazil in 1959 and was ordained a priest in 1984.

      * * *

      Christian Martyrs: Witnesses for the World
      Says Secretary of Congregation for Sainthood Causes

      VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Because of the values they incarnated, Christian martyrs are the patrimony of the whole of humanity, not only of the Church, says a Vatican official.

      Archbishop Edward Nowak, secretary of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes, made that point during an address at the inauguration of the new academic year of the "Studium" of the Vatican dicastery, held at the Patristic Institute Augustinianum.

      The "Studium" was established 20 years ago in response to the need to form people specialized in carrying forward a cause of canonization, from the first phases. Until last year, the studies were carried out by more than 1,600 people.

      The text of the monsignor's introduction, with the title in Italian "The Church Is Again the Church of Martyrs," was issued earlier this month by L'Osservatore Romano.

      "The century that has just ended was presented as a time of very many martyrs. Some historians say that, in the 20th century, Christianity experienced the greatest persecution of its history," the prelate noted.

      According to John Paul II, "at the end of the second millennium, the Church is again the Church of martyrs, the persecutions against believers, priests, religious and laity have produced a great sowing of martyrs in different parts of the world."

      Martyrdom always has formed a part of the life of the Church, Archbishop Nowak said. He mentioned for example the persecution of the Armenian people, the Spanish and Mexican martyrs, and the victims of the Nazi and Communist eras, as well as the present time.

      "The martyrs are, in the first place, an inestimable and precious value in itself for the Church herself," he said. "In the second place, they are bearers of a great message. Their martyrdom is above all the testimony of faith and of the Church.

      "In particular, the martyr is a witness who has undertaken the following of Christ, to the giving up of his life, in order to witness to the truth of the Gospel."

      The Vatican official said that martyrdom is "the scandal, the absurd, the paradox of Christianity. From a martyr who was killed, other faithful were born, hundreds, thousands. There is no reasonable explanation. Perhaps there is one, namely the person of Christ, his defeat on the cross, which generated Christianity, and millions and millions of Christians in all ages."

      The secretary of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes added that "the martyrs are also a great patrimony of humanity. These persons, in civil language, are the heroes of society."

      "They incarnate values of civility, fidelity, solidarity, primacy of conscience, primacy of being over having, heroism unto death, forgiveness, and help," he added. "Because of this, they are the most beautiful and true pages of history. Not only those of the Church but also of humanity."

      * * *

      Jerusalem Patriarch Sees Hope for Peace
      Christmas Message of Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
      "There Seem to Be Prospects of Peace"

      JERUSALEM, DEC. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Christmas message of Latin-rite Patriarch Michel Sabbah of Jerusalem, presented today at a press conference held in the patriarchate's headquarters.

      "I am listening. What is God's message? God's message is peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly" (Psalm 84[85]:9).

      1. A Blessed and Joyous Christmas to all who seek peace and justice in this Holy Land. May the peace and joy of Christmas fill your hearts and minds. With all of you, and with the psalmist, "I am listening. What is God's message? God's message is peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly" (Psalm 84[85]:9).

      We celebrate Christmas and we rejoice so as to renew our energies, learn patience, and conquer the forces of evil in our land. As we celebrate Christmas, we pray, we pray more than ever, we fast, and we purify our hearts and our intentions so that we might be filled with the holiness, life, love and strength of spirit that are needed to build the peace that seems so difficult, if not impossible, to attain.

      2. At this time, there seem to be prospects of peace. We are hopeful that peace will indeed come about, after so many prayers, so many lives sacrificed, so many tears, and so much suffering. We hope that the political leaders will have the courage needed to sign a just and definitive peace and to accept the painful sacrifices this might entail either for themselves personally or for their people.

      Each one of us has surely drawn lessons from the past violence that has destroyed the image of God in both the perpetrators and the victims, the oppressors and the oppressed. Though, in recent years, there have been many victims, much fear, many homes demolished, and much agricultural land devastated, we are still at the same point. Israelis are still looking for security, and Palestinians are still yearning for an end to the occupation, for their freedom and for their independence.

      Yet, both peoples are destined to live together in peace. This is our conviction, and we believe that it remains possible.

      3. However, the people must be freed from fear and given reasons to hope. It is the role of the leaders to facilitate this process. Palestinian leaders are now preparing for their elections with great calm and have adopted plans for peace. Israeli leaders are invited to do likewise by putting an end to their military interventions and by stopping the construction of the wall as well as the hunt for the wanted, which only increases the number of prisoners and dead. Peace cannot be held hostage to those who still see violence as a means of obtaining justice and peace.

      For its part, the wall of separation will really never separate or protect. Quite to the contrary, it will only increase hate, ignorance of the other, and, therefore, hostility toward the other and, as a further consequence, violence and insecurity. What is needed is a search, in all humility, for the underlying causes of the violence. In all humility and sincerity, the cries of the poor and the oppressed must be heard. Ending the oppression and the humiliation of the Palestinians would at the same time put an end to the fear and insecurity of the Israelis. It would also put an end to those who are exploiting the attendant oppression and the poverty.

      The wall of separation will not produce secure borders. Only friendly hearts can produce them. With friendly hearts, all borders will become pure symbols and disappear before the life and joy that will come from being able to live in peace and fraternity.

      4. Religious leaders have a double role at this time: to continue insisting on justice, on the dignity of the human person, on security, and on the end to occupation. But at the same time, they must point out the paths to peace. Neither of the two peoples is condemned to continue offering up its youth to death. Each one has the desire and the right to see its young people live like their counterparts elsewhere in the world. The Israelis are not condemned to live eternally in insecurity and war. Likewise, the Palestinians are not condemned to live eternally asking for an end to the occupation and to remain on the road to death.

      5. We have seen the life and we have heard what says the Lord. God says "peace for his people, for his faithful, if only they renounce their folly" (Psalm 84[85]:9). The Christian significance of Christmas is this: the Word of God has made his entrance into the world and has brought us life. Christmas is a promise of life, joy, and dignity in the presence of God who has chosen our land to be his dwelling: "No one has ever seen God. It is the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known. From his fullness we have all of us received" (John 1:18,16). Only in this perspective and in the presence of God can the peace of Jerusalem and of the Holy Land be built.

      To all, a Blessed Christmas filled with Peace, Justice and Joy.

      + Michel Sabbah, Patriarch

      * * *

      Congolese Prelate Warns Nation Is in Danger
      Cites Incursions by Rwandans

      KINSHASA, Congo, DEC. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The Kinshasa government has to resolve the causes of aggression against the country from neighboring Rwanda, says a leading Congolese bishop.

      Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, president of the bishops' conference, in a message, urged the government to seek the help of the international community to address "all the pretexts that are the cause of repeated aggressions against our country."

      "The Nation Is in Danger: Congolese People, Mobilize," is the title of the Kisangani archbishop's message, published at www.Fomeka.net, in which he assesses the state of the country and the risk of war.

      "We condemn all the violence in progress in the Democratic Republic of Congo and firmly reaffirm that the national integrity and the country's sovereignty cannot be negotiated. We say no to the Balkanization of Congo," he said.

      "For some time," the archbishop warned, "… trustworthy information points once again to the presence of foreign troops on Congolese territory. The resumption of fighting causes movements of populations that are already extremely tested, thus creating a new and grave humanitarian crisis."

      The prelate believes that "this situation becomes even more scandalous and worrying because it is taking place some weeks after the signing of the solemn agreement of Dar es Salaam, in which heads of state of the Great Lakes region committed themselves to resolve jointly the problems of the region."

      The crisis that has exploded in the last few weeks in eastern Congo can "dangerously compromise" the process of transition which should lead the country to democratic elections, the archbishop said.

      The process of national transition began in June 2003 with the formation of a government of national unity, which brings together all the parties and guerrilla movements. The government's mission it is to prepare for the 2005 general elections.

      Since 1998, the war in Congo has cost 3.5 million lives. The powers of the Great Lakes region are fighting over control of Congo's immense natural resources.

      Tension in the Congolese eastern province of Kivu North increased at the end of November.

      Then, Rwandan officials threatened military intervention, reportedly crossing over the border into the Congolese forest to counter some rebel groups that are preparing new attacks against their native Rwanda, according to the Missionary Service News Agency. The Kigali government denied that it crossed the border.

      Archbishop Monsengwo described Rwanda's talk of countering the rebel groups as a "pretext."

      "We witness with indignation that every time that the Congo moves toward peace, visible and invisible forces try to block the path of growth towards a strong and prosperous state," the archbishop said in his message.

      The prelate recommended that Rwanda "withdraw its troops from the Congolese territory and understand that good neighbor relations, peace and development are preferable to a futile war."

      He recommended to the Congolese leadership that a new government be formed "capable of managing with competence and efficiency the crisis that threatens the country's territorial integrity and that might compromise the transition."

      Hundreds of Rwandan soldiers and militias faithful to Kigali are laying waste to the border region of Kivu. The Italian newspaper Avvenire estimates that there are hundreds of victims from the fighting, and that tens of thousands of civilians are fleeing the area. The United Nations also confirms the "invasion."

      * * *

      Tribute Made to Brazilian Envoy Who Helped Jews
      Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas Contravened Orders

      NEW YORK, DEC. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation recently paid tribute to Brazilian diplomat Luiz Martins de Souza Dantas, who saved numerous Jews from the Nazis.

      Souza, motivated by what he later called a "feeling of Christian mercy," granted diplomatic visas to hundreds of Jews fleeing Nazi persecution during World War II, the Wallenberg Foundation said.

      A ceremony in Souza's honor marked a key event of Human Rights Week and took place at the Brazilian Consulate General in New York. The ceremony included the presentation of Souza's biography, "Quixote nas Trevas" ("Quixote in Darkness"), by historian Fábio Koifman.

      According to his biographer, Souza saved around 800 people from extermination, contravening orders given by then president of Brazil, Getúlio Vargas.

      The ambassador (1876-1954), who for 20 years led his country's diplomatic mission in France, granted diplomatic visas to hundreds of people to enter Brazil who were otherwise deemed "undesirable" under immigration policy. Many of those saved were Jews.

      In June 2003 Souza, a Catholic, was recognized as "Righteous Among the Nations" by the Holocaust Museum in Israel. The award is conferred annually on those who, under the Nazi regime, risked their lives for the good of others.

      Baruj Tenembaum, founder of the Wallenberg foundation, and John Crisóstomo, vice president and coordinator of the commemorations of the 50th anniversary of Aristides de Sousa Mendes y Souza Dantas, conferred the 2004 Souza Dantas Award on Koifman and the Brazilian consul general in New York.

      The award, given Dec. 6, is conferred for the sincere commitment made to honor the "Brazilian diplomat savior of Jews," and extend his legacy in the contemporary diplomatic world.

      Attending the meeting were diplomatic delegations from the Holy See, Sweden, Argentina, Israel, Switzerland, Belgium, Bulgaria, Mexico, Turkey, the Czech Republic, China, El Salvador and Angola.

      During the ceremony, messages were read from the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano; the former mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani; and U.S. congressman Tom Lantos.

      * * *

      What Christians Should Get Out of Christmas
      According to President of Pontifical Council "Cor Unum"

      VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2004 (Zenit.org).- The event of Jesus' birth should prompt Christians to practice charity, says the head of the Vatican dicastery that organizes and manages the Pope's charitable works.

      ZENIT interviewed Archbishop Paul Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum," about the true meaning of Christmas.

      Q: Why do Christians celebrate Jesus' birth?

      Archbishop Cordes: This question, which seems superfluous, must be answered again today in a spirit of faith, whether in reference to some of our contemporaries or to some politicians. God, almighty Creator of the universe, before whose incommensurable dimensions astronomy is ever more astonished, has sent his Son to us as a sign of his love and of his will to save us.

      In fact, by increasingly obfuscating the profound reason for the celebration of his birth, modern man's culture and habits of life are unable to keep alive the truths of Christianity. Therefore, the Gospel needs heralds and witnesses to forge people's lives.

      Q: What meaning and mystery is hidden behind the decision of the Son of God to become man?

      Archbishop Cordes: It has been revealed, to us Christians, that God is love. This is not so, for example, in the case of Islam, for which there is an unapproachable and hidden author of a law, whose will alone can be known by men.

      For us, God has a face, and we can say "You" to him. Moreover, he has a Son, because his love is not sterile, but dynamic and creative. Therefore, if the fact of being able to establish an I-You relationship with God distinguishes biblical Revelation in an unfathomable way from the Koran, much more so does the fatherhood of God!

      In the Koran, Allah has 99 names, but never the name Father. On the contrary, it would be a scandalous sacrilege for a Muslim to assert that Allah has a son.

      In the centuries preceding his birth, Jesus was anxiously awaited by the Chosen People. The Old Testament is an impressive document of the hope of salvation and liberation by Yahweh. In the fullness of time God finally sent his Son, born of the Virgin Mary. Thus, in him he was able to begin the history of redemption, because God has the power to efface sin. Only Christ's divine nature could do this.

      In his divinity, Jesus has effaced all of humanity's offenses, those of ancestors, those of every day and also our own, those hidden or denied. Faults, as we know, are the root of all misery and despair.

      Christians take the example of the birth of the Savior to practice charity, love toward one's neighbor, understood not as philanthropy, but as a commitment of truth and faith.

      Q: Can you explain the meaning of Christian charity, and in what way the Vatican dicastery you head practices charity?

      Archbishop Cordes: The Apostle John exhorts us not to love just with words, but with deeds and in truth. It is expected from us that our charity be visible and reflected in concrete works.

      To do good in this sense means that people should alleviate suffering and promote greater justice. Moreover, Christians are fully aware that they cannot keep the love they received from the Redeemer to themselves.

      Therefore, the source of their charity is not human capacity, but a gift of God. Thus the love that comes from God must also embrace one's enemy. It goes beyond human liking.

      We in "Cor Unum" give signs of this love and of participation in the name of the Holy Father in situations of particular need. We also inspire in a Christian manner the remarkable and effective work of many charitable organizations in the world.

      Q: What are the ways and actions that you would indicate to celebrate Christmas worthily?

      Archbishop Cordes: In addition to gifts, affection for parents, friends and neighbors, for me it is part of Christmas to become ever more like Christ, born as our brother. Listening to the Word of God, prayer, the sacrament of penance and the celebration of the Eucharist help us to make this feast an event of Christian faith.

      * * *



      2. Meditatio

      Fr. Pennington explains two very distinct methods of medition are part of the repertoire of Catholic tradition. The popular form reads a text and imagines the scene in details in order to attain its inner reality with all of its significance realized as insights to its meaning. Fr. Pennington warns of the danger to this approach since it is guided by the false self. He says, "There is a danger of getting caught up in one's own thoughts and ideas, images and insights--a danger that is not absent from lectio. Since the false self is made up of what I have and what I do, it makes a play here to do something, to create some brilliant ideas and insights and then to hang onto them. All our thoughts, ideas and insights, all our creations are in danger of becoming idols. We have to be ready to break them to pieces and pass beyond them to the Reality that they of their nature point to." (60).

      The second method of meditation Fr. Pennington presents is the oldest form dating to the first millennium. It consists in taking a word and repeating it throughout the day until it becomes one with our heart. He tells us, "The word was to be received not only mentally but also affectively, expanding the listening that we are, opening us to allow the fullness of Reality to come in, to see things as God sees them, forming in us the mind of Christ." (61).

      This last type or method of meditation requires from us to keep a word all day long, reflecting on it in our hearts and making it part of our own attitude and disposition. "How different would our day be," he says, "if we took from our lectio a word like,"Whatever you do to the least, you do to me," and it kept sounding in our hearts all through the day? As we encounter each person, we hear again, ,"Whatever you do to the least, you do to me"? It is the Christ--no matter what guise he comes in." (pages 61-62).

      He then goes on to give an illustration of this Christ-like mind from the life of Mother Theresa of Calcutta. After attending a terminally ill man from the street she lay prostrate at his feet in prayer as soon as he expired. She announced "I had the privilege this morning of caring for the dying Christ." (62)

      Rev. M. Basil Pennington, OCSO, Lectio Divina. Renewing the Ancient
      Practice of Praying the Scriptures. (Crossroad, NY, 1998) ISBN 0-8245-
      1779-2 (hardcover); ISBN 0-8245-1736-9 (paperback).

      * * *


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      3. Today's Lectionary Readings Text
      <http://www.nccbuscc.org/nab/122204.htm> (English)

      <http://www.alingilalyawmi.org> (Arabic)

      Biblica Online

      * * *




      Monks of Adoration:

      * * *

      5. Polish Rosary Hour by the Conventual Franciscans

      * * *



      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 toperpetuate her cult by directing
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      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

      * * *


      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."

      * * *


      "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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