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Volume 5, Issue 12

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  • John N. Lupia
    ROMAN CATHOLIC NEWS Volume 5, Issue 12 THURSDAY 27 JANUARY 2005 Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time * * * WEAR THE BROWN SCAPULAR OF OUR LADY OF MOUNT
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 26, 2005

      Volume 5, Issue 12

      THURSDAY 27 JANUARY 2005

      Thursday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time

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      * * *

      . Commentary on Psalm 114(116)

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - This morning in the Holy See Press Office, Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, president of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", and Bishop Andre-Mutien Leonard of Namur, Belgium, an expert in questions relating to euthanasia, presented John Paul II's Message for Lent, whose theme is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you and length of days" (Deut 30:20).

      Archbishop Cordes affirmed that "the current relevance of the Message is clear when the Pope writes: 'Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly'." The archbishop pointed out how "the number of elderly people has increased rapidly over recent years, while at the same time the number of young people has diminished," consequently "a small percentage of young people must bear the burden of the large number of elderly."

      "It is clear that, with these new imbalances, the social cost of caring for the elderly constitutes a danger for the younger working population. This, in turn, may generate tension between the two groups or - as has already been written - a 'war of generations.' ... Also evident is the fear arising in young people, when they find themselves dependent, as a minority, on elderly people whose security, health and support they must at the same time guarantee."

      The president of "Cor Unum" indicated that "young people are becoming ever more aware that the elderly are an onus with various implications. They cost too much, they occupy living and housing space, they limit free time and amusement, they remind the young of their own future, they touch our feelings when they suffer and when they thus indicate our own future suffering. Why, then, not remove them from sight? Why not exile them behind high walls? Why not offer them an agreeable death, and so get rid of them for good?

      "There are associations that promote the 'right' - as they call it - to a 'dignified death.' The world of science offers concrete means to this end, cinema seeks to incite emotional attacks against existing laws, and politicians look to a new culture - the culture of death."

      "Politicians must not be allowed to sacrifice man's dignity to populist or economic interests," the archbishop concluded. "The dignity of man is untouchable, because it is a gift of God. Yet we must exercise our influence not only on the state and society: Even in our private life - in the family and the neighborhood - we must be guided by these words of the Pope."

      Bishop Leonard, recalling a phrase from the Pope's Lenten Message - "human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages" - then spoke about euthanasia, which he defined as "an explicit act or omission which, of itself or in its intention, brings death with the aim of ending the suffering of a terminally ill person."

      "Euthanasia in its true sense is not to be confused with the perfectly legal use of prescribed analgesic products that aim to suppress or alleviate pain, even though they may result in a shortening of life."

      The bishop of Namur made reference to paragraph nine of Recommendation 1418, approved by the Council of Europe in 1999, which "categorically excludes recourse to euthanasia for the terminally ill or dying, highlighting that the terminally ill or dying person's wish to die cannot of itself constitute a legal justification to carry out actions intended to bring about death."

      The bishop concluded by saying that in his Message, the Holy Father promotes a humanist approach. "Let us hope that this positive attitude, in keeping not only with the Catholic faith but also with philosophical humanism, prevails over the terrible temptation of euthanasia."

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - Pope John Paul's Message for Lent 2005, dated September 8, 2004, was published today in English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. The theme, taken from Deuteronomy 30:20 is "Loving the Lord ... means life to you, and length of days." The Pope says these are "the words of Moses, inviting the people "to embrace the Covenant with Yahweh in the country of Moab 'that you and your descendants may live, loving the Lord, your God, obeying His voice, and cleaving to Him'."

      Following are excerpts from the Message:

      "It is upon this theme that I would like to ask you to reflect during this Lent, in order to deepen the awareness of the role that the elderly are called to play in society and in the Church, and thus to prepare your hearts for the loving welcome that should always be reserved for them. Thanks to the contribution of science and medicine, one sees in society today a lengthening of the human life span and a subsequent increase in the number of elderly. This demands a more specific attention to the world of so-called 'old' age, in order to help its members to live their full potential by placing them at the service of the entire community. The care of the elderly, above all when they pass through difficult moments, must be of great concern to all the faithful, especially in the ecclesial communities of Western societies, where the problem is particularly present.

      "Human life is a precious gift to be loved and defended in each of its stages. The Commandment, 'You shall not kill!', always requires respecting and promoting human life, from its beginning to its natural end. It is a command that applies even in the presence of illness and when physical weakness reduces the person's ability to be self-reliant."

      "The elderly need to be understood and helped in this perspective. I wish, here, to express my appreciation to those who dedicate themselves to fulfilling these needs, and I also call upon other people of good will to take advantage of Lent for making their own personal contribution."

      "It is necessary to raise the awareness in public opinion that the elderly represent, in any case, a resource to be valued. For this reason, economic support and legislative initiatives, which allow them not to be excluded from social life, must be strengthened. In truth, during the last decade, society has become more attentive to their needs, and medicine has developed palliative cures that, along with an integral approach to the sick person, are particularly beneficial for long-term patients."

      "Knowledge of the nearness of the final goal leads the elderly person to focus on that which is essential, giving importance to those things that the passing of years do not destroy.

      "Precisely because of this condition, the elderly person can carry out his or her role in society. If it is true that man lives upon the heritage of those who preceded him, and that his future depends definitively on how the cultural values of his own people are transmitted to him, then the wisdom and experience of the elderly can illuminate his path on the way of progress toward an ever more complete form of civilisation."

      "What would happen if the People of God yielded to a certain current mentality that considers these people, our brothers and sisters, as almost useless when they are reduced in their capacities due to the difficulties of age or sickness? Instead, how different the community would be, if, beginning with the family, it tries always to remain open and welcoming towards them."

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, read a Message from Pope John Paul today at a gathering of more than 30 world leaders to mark the 60th anniversary of the liberation of prisoners from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. The cardinal is the Pope's special envoy to these commemorative ceremonies. The Message was dated January 15.

      The Holy Father called what happened in Auschwitz "the tragic fruit of programmed hatred," and said we must remember the millions "who, through no fault of their own, bore inhuman sufferings and were annihilated in the gas chambers and crematoriums."

      He recalled his 1979 trip, as Pope, to Auschwitz, where he "paused before memorial stones with dedications to the victims in many languages, ... stopping the longest before those written in Hebrew. I said: ... This people has its origins in Abraham, who is also our father in faith, as Paul of Tarsus said. This very people, who received from God the commandment 'Thou shall not kill', itself experienced in a special measure what it means to kill.. No one can stop in front of these memorials with indifference.

      "I repeat those words today. No one may overlook the tragedy of the Shoah. That attempt at a systematic destruction of an entire people falls like a shadow over Europe and the entire world; it is a crime that forever darkens the history of mankind. May this serve as a warning, today and for the future: there can never be a yielding to ideologies which justify trampling on human dignity on the basis of differences in race, skin color, language or religion. I appeal to everyone, and especially to those who, in the name of religion, would resort to acts of oppression and terror."

      The Holy Father said these reflections "accompanied" him at the penitential liturgy in St. Peter's during the Jubilee Year 2000 and on his pilgrimage to the Holy Land when he visited the Yad Vashem holocaust monument in Jerusalem.

      Continuing with memories of his 1979 trip to Auschwitz, John Paul II recalled the many memorials there written in Russian, noting that "the Russians had the highest number of people who so tragically lost their lives (in the war). The Roma were also destined to total extermination in Hitler's plan."

      Referring to the memorials inscribed in his native Polish, the Holy Father quoted his words from 1979, when he said that Auschwitz represented "yet another stage in the centuries-old struggle of this nation, my nation, for its fundamental rights among the peoples of Europe. Yet another loud cry for the right to have a place of its own on the map of Europe. Yet another painful reckoning with the conscience of humanity. The affirmation of this truth was a call for historical justice for this nation, which had made such great sacrifices in the cause of Europe's liberation from the infamous Nazi ideology, and which had been sold into slavery to another destructive ideology: that of Soviet communism."

      Pope John Paul said that, on that 1979 visit, and unceasingly since then, he has prayed for world peace, for respect for human dignity, for the rights of everyone "to seek the truth in freedom, and to follow the moral law."

      He underscored that, in the midst of unspeakable suffering, there were also great heroes, prisoners who "showed love not only for their fellow prisoners, but also for their tormentors. Many did so out of love for God and for man; others in the name of the highest spiritual values." He said such behavior demonstrated what the Bible often speaks of: "Even though man is capable of evil, and at times boundless evil, evil itself will never have the last word."

      In conclusion, the Holy Father said that today's ceremonies were principally "to honor the dead, to acknowledge historical reality and above all to ensure that those terrible events will serve as a summons for the men and women of today to ever greater responsibility for our common history. Never again, in any part of the world, must others experience what was experienced by these men and women whom we have mourned for sixty years!"

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - At midday today, Holy See Press Office Director Joaquin Navarro-Valls made the following declaration concerning a communique released yesterday by the Spanish Foreign Ministry on the Holy Father's address to Spanish prelates during their "ad limina" visit on January 24, 2005.

      "We have studied the communique released by the Administrative Office for External Communications of the Foreign Ministry of Madrid. For our part, we suggest an attentive reading of the entire papal address, which clearly illustrates the position of the Church. We note with satisfaction the will of the Spanish government to maintain a fruitful understanding with the Church by means of a permanent dialogue animated by mutual respect, as the communique itself says. This has been and always will be the policy of the Holy See."

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences six prelates from the Spanish Episcopal Conference on their "ad limina" visit:

      - Bishop Julian Lopez Martin of Leon.

      - Bishop Jose Vilaplana Blasco of Santander.

      - Archbishop Antonio Canizares Llovera of Toledo.

      - Bishop Francisco Cases Andreu of Albacete.

      - Bishop Antonio Angel Algora Hernando of Ciudad Real.

      - Bishop Ramon del Hoyo Lopez of Cuenca.

      * * *


      VATICAN CITY, JAN 27, 2005 (VIS) - The Holy Father appointed Msgr. Peter Neher, president of the 'Deutscher Caritasverband' in Germany, and Jean-Pierre Richer, president of 'Secours Catholique' in France, as members of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum."

      * * *

      Commentary on Psalm 114(116)
      "Intense Prayer of the Man in a Desperate Situation"

      VATICAN CITY, JAN. 26, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of John Paul II's address at today's general audience, which he dedicated to comment on Psalm 114(116):1-2,5,7-9.

      1. In Psalm 114(116), which was just proclaimed, the Psalmist's voice expresses his grateful love to the Lord, after he heard an intense supplication: "I love the Lord, who listened to my voice in supplication./ Who turned an ear to me" (verses 1-2). Immediately after this declaration of love there is a vivid description of the mortal nightmare that has gripped the life of the person at prayer (see verses 3-6).

      The drama is portrayed with the usual symbols of Psalms. The coils that entangle life are those of death, the snares that cause it anguish are the pangs of hell, which tries to entice the living to itself without ever being placated (see Proverbs 30:15-16).

      2. It is the image of a prey fallen into the trap of a relentless hunter. Death is like a grip that tightens (see Psalm 114[116]:3). Behind the person at prayer, therefore, is the risk of death, accompanied by a painful psychic experience: "I felt agony and dread" (verse 3). But from that tragic abyss he cries out to the only one who can extend a hand and snatch the anguished person at prayer from that inextricable tangle: "Then I called on the name of the Lord, 'O Lord, save my life!'" (verse 4).

      It is a brief but intense prayer of the man who, finding himself in a desperate situation, holds fast to the only plank of salvation. In the same way, the disciples cried out in the Gospel in the storm (see Matthew 8:25), in the same way Peter implored when, walking on the sea, he began to sink (see Matthew 14:30).

      3. Once saved, the person at prayer proclaims that the Lord is "gracious and just," more than that, "merciful" (Psalm 114[116]:5). This last adjective, in the Hebrew original, makes reference to the tenderness of a mother, evoking her "depths."

      Genuine trust always sees God as love, even if at times it is difficult to understand his actions. It is certain, nevertheless, that "The Lord protects the simple" (verse 6). Therefore, in misery and abandonment, one can always count on him, "Father of the fatherless, defender of widows" (Psalm 67[68]:6).

      4. A dialogue then begins between the Psalmist and his soul, which continues in the next Psalm 115, and should be considered as a whole with the one on which we are reflecting. It is what the Jewish tradition has done, giving origin to the sole Psalm 116, according to the Hebrew numbering of the Psalter. The Psalmist invites his soul to recover serene peace after the mortal nightmare (see Psalm 114[116]:7).

      Invoked with faith, the Lord extended his hand, broke the coils that encircled the person at prayer, dried the tears from his eyes, and stopped his precipitous descent into the infernal abyss (see verse 8). The change is clear and the song ends with a scene of light: The person at prayer returns to "the land of the living," that is, to the paths of the world, to "walk before the Lord." He joins the community prayer in the temple, anticipation of that communion with God that will await him at the end of his life (see verse 9).

      5. In concluding, we would like to take up again the most important passages of the Psalm, allowing ourselves to be guided by a great Christian writer of the third century, Origen, whose commentary in Greek on Psalm 114(116) has come to us in St. Jerome's Latin version.

      When reading that the Lord "inclined his ear to me," he observed: "We are little and low, we cannot stretch ourselves and raise ourselves on high. Because of this, the Lord inclines his ear and deigns to hear us. When all is said and done, given that we are men and we cannot become gods, God became man and inclined himself, according to what is written: 'He bowed the heavens, and came down' (Psalm 17[18]:10)."

      In fact, the Psalm continues further on, "The Lord protects the simple" (Psalm 114[116]:6): "If one is great, if one exalts oneself and is proud, the Lord does not protect one; if one thinks one is great, the Lord does not have mercy on one; but if one abases oneself, the Lord has mercy on one and protects one. So much so that he says: 'Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me' (Isaiah 8:18). And again: "When I was brought low, he saved me.'"

      Thus the one who is little and poor can recover peace, rest, as the Psalm says (see Psalm 114[116]:7) and as Origen himself comments: "When it is said: 'Return to your rest,' it is a sign that at first he had rest, and then lost it. ... God created us good and made us arbiters of our decisions, and placed us all in paradise, together with Adam. But because, by our free decision, we were precipitated from that blessedness, ending up in this valley of tears, the righteous one exhorts his soul to return to the place from which it fell. ... 'Return, my soul, to your rest: because the Lord has done good to you.' If you, soul, return to paradise, it is not because you are worthy, but because it is the work of the mercy of God. If you left paradise, it was by your fault; instead, your return is the work of the mercy of the Lord. Let us also say to our souls: 'Return to your rest.' Our rest is Christ, our God" (Origen-Jerome, "74 Omelie sul Libro dei Salmi" [74 Homilies on the Book of Psalms], Milan, 1993, pp. 409,412-413).

      [Translation by ZENIT]

      [At the end of the audience, a papal aide read the following summary in English:]

      Dear Brothers and Sisters,

      Psalm 114 reminds us of the great value of prayer. It speaks of an appeal for help addressed to God in a situation of extreme danger. The believer clings to the Lord as his only hope of salvation and expresses his grateful love for the protection he receives.

      Authentic faith always sees God as love, even if at times we find it difficult to understand fully his actions. Prayer helps us to rediscover the loving face of God. He never abandons his people but guarantees that, notwithstanding trials and suffering, in the end good triumphs.

      [The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

      I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including groups from Denmark, Canada and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke the peace and joy of our Lord, and I wish you a happy stay in Rome!

      * * *



      3. An Image of Lectio (continued)

      B. Meditatio

      "Meditation is the simple repetition of words or phrases that capture our attention. It is not an intellectual exercise, thinking about the text, but a surrender, through the repetition, to allow the Word to penetrate more deeply into our being until we become one with the text." (88)

      One of the methods used by educators, in former times, was a very effective technique of drilling a student. Student drills required repetition until the lesson was learned or ingrained by rote, i.e., in perfect memory. The distinction between meditatio and drilling is that in meditatio the meaning of the words is more critical than mere rote. The psychological disposition or interior disposition of mind and heart are altered or transformed by becoming one with the moral values carried by the words. So where drilling and rote can be, but not necessarily, an empty exercise of memorization, meditatio is focused on transformation by assimilation of spiritual values.

      C. Oratio

      "Prayer is a response of the heart to God. Filled with the Saving Word, we make our response. As St. Cyprian says, "In Scripture, God speaks to us, and in prayer we speak to God." (ibid.)

      Oratio is the response of meditatio. In meditatio we allow God's psychological and faith and moral values to become assimilated, one with our own mind and heart. Oratio is like Mary's "Fiat" or "Yes" to God. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary at Nazareth, St. Luke tells us that he announced her as chosen by God to be the mother of the Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary's response (oratio) was "Let it be done according to your Word." Our oratio imitates Mary's supreme example. We too respond to the spiritual affects of meditatio on the Word by also praying "Let it be done according to your Word."

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

      Biblica Online

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      5. Polish Rosary Hour by the Conventual Franciscans

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      Color Photograph of Mama Gili, Biography and Prayers

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

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

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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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