Here is a review of a selection of Frank La Rocca’s compositions called In This Place, written by Br Brad T. Elliot OP; it appeared first, in slightly altered form, on page 49 of the Fall 2015 edition of Sacred Music, the journal of the CMAA.
I have only just seen this, but I thought to bring it to your attention for a couple of reasons, the first being that I think that Frank La Rocca’s work deserves to get more attention.
The second reason is that the principles by which the reviewer judges the merit of La Rocca’s works are themselves worthy of study. Br Brad Elliot, who is a Dominican of the Western Province of the United States, has a good grasp of music theory (way beyond my own) and of the principles of sacred music. He brings his knowledge of both into the discussion. As such, in this short piece, I feel he outlines succinctly a guide for patrons, composers, and for the judgment of such compositions, in accord with general principles are applicable in all the creative arts.
Br Brad explains very well why it is imperative that we always have new compositions to breathe life into any artistic tradition. No tradition can rely on a canon of past works alone; without continuing creativity, it will cease to engage new people and become dead. As he puts it:
Simply put, the giving over or tradere of the past into the future must pass through the present as a necessary middle term; the present is where the real tradition takes place.
He stresses also the importance of exploring modern forms of music, as he says:
…modern harmony should not be feared as a threat to sacred beauty.
But he is quick to point out that such exploration can never be used as a reason for compromising the essential principles of sacred music.
Is Frank La Rocca’s music doing this? Perhaps. I think so, and Br Brad thinks so. But we must be clear that fulfillment of the criteria that Br Brad lays down is not the only requirement. In the end, it has to appeal at a natural level to many people as well. This is the great challenge to the artist in any field, and the mark of true creativity. Neither Br Brad nor myself are the final arbiters of taste and so the final test of its goodness is not (Read More)
Pilgrims sporting ponchos the color of World Youth Day did not have their spirits dampened by rain July 26. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)
By Dennis Sadowski
KRAKOW, Poland — What’s a little summer downpour among friends?
Priscilla Ho and her friends from St. Francis Xavier Church in Vancouver, British Columbia, took an afternoon thundershower in stride as they made their way through Krakow’s Old City to the opening Mass for World Youth Day.
“It shouldn’t bother anybody,” she said near the city’s famed Planty, a park that encircles the Old City. “I’m here to get to know God a little better and be inspired by the city of Pope John Paul II.”
Seas of pilgrims in bright red, blue and yellow ponchos — the colors of World Youth Day — made their way through the city in waves toward Blonia Park for the opening Mass.
Doreen Kempf, 24 and her cousin, Chiara Titze, 17, both of Trier, Germany, stayed dry under red ponchos. “The rain doesn’t hurt,” Kempf said.
“The people are from different countries and we practice peace and we have the same belief in God and the same values. That’s all that matters,” she said.
Lucas Krobeth and a group of 13 of his friends from Klagenfurt, Austria, stood outside of the Basilica of the Holy Trinity as the last raindrops fell before walking to the Mass.
“I’m here because there are so many young people who pray and we will pray together,” he said. “We pray together and you see you are not alone praying to God.”
Pilgrims jammed buses and trams and joined special programs of music, faith-sharing and study in parks and squares across the city in the hours before the Mass. North of the central city, in Krowoderski Park, a group of about 100 young people from France listened to a midday concert of contemporary inspirational music. Nearby another 20 young people involved in the Global Catholic Climate Movement gathered for a prayer service to inaugurate the World Youth Day eco-village.
They planned to spend time gathering signatures on a petition — the same one endorsed by Pope Francis — asking world leaders to take immediate action on climate change and to protect the planet. Their goal is 1 million signatures; the GCCM reports about 900,000 names to date.
Allen Ottaro, 32, executive director of Catholic Youth Movement for Environmental Sustainability in Africa, said he wanted to bring the concerns expressed by St. John (Read More)
By Rhina Guidos
Catholic youth from towns near Peñitas, Texas cheer while kicking off World Youth Day July 26, 2016. Even though the pope is in Poland, he sent a video message specifically to the group gathered in Texas, even though many from the impoverished area can’t travel. (CNS photo by Amber Donaldson)
By Brenda Nettles Riojas
Catholic News Service
MISSION, Texas (CNS) – As World Youth Day kicked off in Poland today, a group of Catholic youth in Texas, some without the money to travel to Poland and others without the legal papers to travel there, got the next best thing: Pope Francis came to them via video, with a message tailored for the community there.
Why did the rural area known as Pueblo de Palmas, near Peñitas get such an honor? Why would the Holy Father send a message to the people of a rural area that some consider “insignificant”?
Three missionary sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who have been living and helping in the area for 12 years will tell you that it’s because the people of God here have a deep faith that is not daunted by poverty or other hardships they may endure.
Father Michael Montoya, a Missionary of Jesus priest, is pastor of St. Anne Catholic Church in Peñitas, Texas and its three missionary churches. He said the idea of connecting the youth in the area to the more global event in such a personal way started off as an idea to help the young people in one of the poorest areas in the country see how they are connected with the church and other young people from around the world.
Given the poverty levels in the community and their immigration status, it is impossible for most to travel. For those in Peñitas, explains Father Montoya, traveling from their homes to church comes with risk. Some fear that if they are pulled over for something such as a minor traffic infraction, they could be deported. Father Montoya points to what he refers to as a “military presence” in the area. There is a no shortage of local police, sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, U.S. border patrol agents and National Guard patrolling the area located just miles from the U.S.-Mexico border.
“It’s a constant reminder to the people that something is not right. We live so close to the wall that divides families, it affects self-identity. All the images we receive from the outside are (Read More)
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, greets Babalwa Matikinca, an area manager for the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force. The encounter took place in the Global Village of the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
By Paul Jeffrey
DURBAN, South Africa — At an international conference about AIDS that brought 18,000 people to this seaside city, it was the big things that usually drew attention: a plenary where the actress Charlize Theron said sexism and racism prevent us from ending AIDS, a media scrum surrounding Sir Elton John and Prince Harry as they pleaded for people to get tested, even a press conference where researchers discussed arcane vaccine trials that could change the face of the epidemic. But sometimes it’s the small events that tell a larger story.
Thabo Makgoba is the Anglican archbishop of Cape Town. He’s a rather prominent guy. But he’s fairly humble, so when he stopped by the Interfaith Networking Zone in the conference’s Global Village July 19, not many people paid attention. He chatted with folks, but then needed to leave for a press conference.
The Global Village was a wild maze of displays, booths and discussion areas sponsored by special interest groups representing all sorts of people touched by AIDS. Right across from the interfaith area was the Sex Workers Networking Zone. Archbishop Makgoba stopped there and introduced himself to the women.
Among those he greeted was Babalwa Matikinca, who works in the Eastern Cape for the Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT). She told me she had been having an emotional day, and when the archbishop suddenly appeared, she started crying.
“I was so grateful. It was a blessing. I was happy. I was happy. I was happy,” she said.
Matikinca does education and helps run support groups for sex workers, and she said the church needs to cross into their world more often.
A mannequin wears a hat crafted from condoms July 20 during the 2016 International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. (CNS photo/Paul Jeffrey)
“Sex workers are often operating in hideaway zones, their work unknown to their family because there is a lot of stigma. They feel alone. The church should be a place where they can find comfort and support to help them cope. Just like Jesus, who, when people wanted to stone a sex worker, said that only those who hadn’t sinned could do it,” she (Read More)
Paulina Tempinska of Krakow, Poland, helps a World Youth Day at John Paul II Airport. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)
By Dennis Sadowski
KRAKOW, Poland — If it wasn’t Michel Zak’s smile that World Youth Day pilgrims noticed as they arrived at Krakow’s John Paul II Airport, they were sure to see the enormous baby blue foam hand he was waving.
Zak, 25, who lives in France, wanted to make sure the first impression the pilgrims had was positive, and if it took waving a strange looking hand, so be it.
One of a crew of 70 young adult volunteers welcoming people from around the world to World Youth Day, Zak said he had been helping French-speaking people communicate with their Polish hosts. He said it was a way to live out his faith in a diverse world.
Volunteers were easy to spot and not just for their smiles. They wore bright blue polo shirts with a large “V” emblazoned on the back in white; a small World Youth Day logo was on the front.
Jacinta Ching of Sydney was handing out single-decade rosaries made of bright red and gold rings and a reproduction of the cross St. John Paul II carried throughout his priesthood.
“Seeing all the people coming in sure gives a lot of excitement,” said Ching, 26, who works in the treasury department for New South Wales. “It’s really cool to be here as the world is coming here. Coming here from a secular country and every couple of blocks you have a Catholic church in a country that is unapologetically Catholic is inspiring.”
Jacinta Ching of Australia, Augustin Woronoff of Belgium, Jeanne Danson of Switzerland, Lucia Hoppanova and Marianna Burbova, both of Slovakia, were among 70 volunteers greeting World Youth Day pilgrims at John Paul II Airport in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)
The volunteers included young adults from Belgium, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, New Zealand and elsewhere. Several said they wanted to step up because World Youth Day doesn’t happen every year.
Paulina Tempinska, 20, of Krakow, who is studying law at Jagiellonian University, said she found the time volunteering — 10 hours and counting July 24 — worthwhile.
“I love helping people. I love to see how they react. I love to see their emotions. I feel so blessed when I help them. I also want to meet people who believe in God,” she said before returning to the information booth to answer questions from pilgrims.
Jeanne Danson, 29, (Read More)
Here is an interesting nugget of a post by Carrie Gress from blog.pontifex.university.
In it she contrasts a traditional approach to philosophy, as would have been taught at the School of Chartres, with the typical modern approach. The example she gives of the discussion in a contemporary philosophy class emphasizes how philosophy – the love of wisdom – has become too focussed on analytical thinking, which looks at details, and neglects synthetic thinking. Synthetic thinking is that which allows us to take a step back, so to speak, and create a synthesis by placing the detail in the context of the whole. This is precisely what a traditional formation in beauty – which included the seven liberal arts that Carrie mentions – trains the person to do naturally. Knowledge only becomes wisdom when we can understand how any information relates to the bigger picture, which in the final synthesis (as distinct from the final analysis!) is our human purpose. Carrie is a philsopher, author (and mom) . I encourage you to check out her personal site carriegress.com
I’ve just started doing some research on Chartres Cathedral and ran across this quotation from 11th century Thierry of Chartres. In his work, the Heptateuchon, Thierry says, “Philosophy has two principal instruments, the mind and its expression. The mind is enlightened by the Quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music), its expression, elegant, reasonable, ornate is provide by the Trivium (grammar, rhetoric and dialectic).” These seven liberal arts and the artists who most exemplify them are featured on the Royal Portal of Chartres Cathedral. (Geometry: Euclid, Rhetoric: Cicero, Dialectic: Aristotle, Arithmetic: Boethius, Astronomy: Ptolemy, Grammar: either Donatus or Priscian)
What is striking about this is:
A) How foreign the notions of the Quadrivium and Trivium seem to us today. What does astronomy have to do with philosophy?
B) How technical and abstract philosophy has become. Philosophy, the love of wisdom, has only a few academic corners where it can actually call itself that. In most university settings, philosophers resort to very precise language and techniques that strike most on the outside as, at best, impenetrable, and at worst, nonsensical.
The one semester I spent doing doctoral studies at a well-known university drove this home to me. The methods of logic have overtaken the field in strangely anachronistic and confounding ways. For a course on Plato, a general assignment would be to read five paragraphs from a (Read More)
“Give us each day our daily bread and forgive us our sins for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us.” — Luke 11:3-4
July 24, Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 18:20-32
Psalm 138:1-3, 6-8
2) Colossians 2:12-14
Gospel: Luke 11:1-13
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
I’m currently reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln.”
Reading this week’s Scriptures on God’s generous dealings with his people, I can’t help but think of Lincoln and his tremendous desire to be at peace with all men.
The book is framed around the way he built his cabinet, primarily from men who had run against him for the Republican nomination for the presidency in 1860: William H. Seward, Salmon P. Chase and Edward Bates, from New York, Ohio and Missouri, respectively. None had respect for Lincoln when they began their cabinet positions, yet only one ended up being disloyal to him. Seward, the one who had lost the most to him, ended up as his secretary of state and perhaps his closest friend and confidant.
But Lincoln’s team-building, reconciling ways were not limited to these three. He had built relationships within his home state of Illinois, prior to his nomination, that involved reaching out and offering an olive branch to anyone who might have been estranged from him.
Throughout his political career, Lincoln continued to exercise this magnanimous wisdom sincerely and consistently.
It would seem there is no great public figure in human history who has so pervasively modeled his behavior on Jesus and his teachings.
Abraham’s bargaining for the salvation of Sodom and Gomorrah would have sounded reasonable to Lincoln.
Jesus’ assurance that God would grant the Holy Spirit to those who ask him — for “what father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish” — probably governed Lincoln’s relations with the many supplicants who sought favors, positions or reconciliation from him.
This man who sought to preserve the Union fought equally hard to bring reconciliation with his separated brethren, the estranged Southerners, even as the bitter Civil War came to a close. Striving for reconciliation with all parties made him a target for an assassin’s bullets.
Much good literature includes a Christ figure, and we should be able to (Read More)
A man holds a cross during “Together 2016” July 16. (CNS photo/Ana Franco-Guzman)
By Ana Franco-Guzman
WASHINGTON (CNS) — Sunscreen, water, a bag, Bible, notebook, money to purchase food and a good singing voice were all on Loren Soto-Barrios’ “what to bring” list for last weekend’s “Together 2016” in Washington.
“Together 2016” was an initiative by Nick Hall, founder of the PULSE movement, who said the underlying message of the event was to “awaken culture to the reality of Jesus.”
“Francis Chan and Hillsong United,” 22-year-old Soto-Barrios told me when asked who she was most excited to see. They were among a number of speakers and recording artists who headlined the gathering, held near the Washington Monument.
She and her friends Michael Herelle, 22, Caitlyn Sass, 24, and Steve Nieves, 24, were four people in a crowd of about 350,000 people at the event. Soto-Barrios talked to me about the experience and what it took to get here for it.
On the Friday before, Herelle, Sass and Soto-Barrios left New Jersey and drove to Delaware to pick up Nieves. They were out of the house Saturday morning at about 7:30 a.m. to drive to Washington.
They then took a Metro subway train from The Catholic University of America stop to arrive at the National Mall by 9 a.m. It was at the Metro that we unexpectedly crossed paths.
“Once at the event, I saw that the line lasted for miles (but) I was not upset,” Soto-Barrios told me. “I had the opposite reaction, I was rejoicing. I could not believe this many people were waiting in line for this event. Everyone was there for Jesus, and it blew my mind that there were that many people there. I thank God for moments like that.”
In line the group of four split up, so that it would be easier to reserve a spot on the lawn. Herelle and Soto-Barrios waited in a security line, carrying the bags for all four. The other two went through an entrance for those without bags.
Soto-Barrios said at that moment she thought of “Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World” by Joanna Weaver, saying that “like the man in the book,” Herelle would carry everyone’s “burdens” (bags) and would not be able to keep going. But Herelle told her it “was much easier to do this and that this was not the case.”
Once inside the fence, it was (Read More)
It was with sadness that I learned of the death on Saturday of Fr Michael Morris OP after an illness. For many years he has been a great advocate for beauty in sacred art and the culture, who could talk about anything from traditional Christian iconography to Hollywood movie posters. Many will know of his writing through his monthly art reviews in the Magnificat magazine.
I met him first in 2001 when I turned up at his office in Berkeley, California, looking for help and advice about transforming Catholic culture. I was a complete unkown who had read John Paul II’s Letter to Artists and had set off for America armed with a few poorly formed ideas and plenty of passion, but very little else. He was kind enough to take the time to listen to this odd stranger hammering on his door out of the blue, and offered encouragement and wise advice. He was also very amusing.
We had been in touch ever since and I saw him only 10 days ago. Although obviously suffering, he still just wanted to talk about art and a course he was planning to teach for the DSPT, the Dominican School in Berkeley next year; and to introduce me to an artist friend of his. The program at the GTU in Berkeley, Religion and the Arts, which he devoted so much time to is known internationally.
He will be missed by many.
“Now that you have come this close to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” — Genesis 18:5
July 17, Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15:2-3, 5
2) Colossians 1:24-28
Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
My mother never ceases to amaze me. Any time I come for a visit, even on short notice, she’s got some sort of homemade treat ready in a matter of minutes. Whether it’s a piece of blackberry pie or chicken noodle soup, scratch-made spaghetti sauce or my favorite klobase sandwich, she’s able to produce something out of her freezer or pantry that makes me happy to sit at her kitchen table for a nice long visit.
I’m not the only one. Mom has a large “extended family” that includes parish priests, her kids’ former college roommates, retired army buddies and their wives, or old friends just passing through. And if she’s visiting their home, she never arrives empty-handed. And she makes it look so easy!
I think that Mom simply plans for generosity. As with Abraham and Sarah’s fine flour or tender, choice steer, Mom has already stocked up her supplies, and, even more important, she has the attitude that nothing is too good for guests. Nor are her visitors considered an imposition, for in welcoming them and seeing to their comfort, she welcomes the Lord.
In today’s Gospel, Martha and Mary illustrate both sides of that hospitality coin. Martha honors the tradition of her ancestors Abraham and Sarah by fussing over the preparations, the food, a comfortable environment. Mary attends to the guest in a different way, extending personal welcome and attention. Jesus isn’t unappreciative of Martha’s efforts, but her anxiety and worry are evidence that her focus is off-kilter.
In this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we are asked to reflect anew on the spiritual and corporal works of mercy. At the root of each of them — whether visiting the sick, feeding the hungry, comforting the sorrowful or instructing the ignorant — is an attitude of hospitality, of welcoming our Lord — the guest, as he comes to us in need of mercy and compassion.
This doesn’t just happen. (Read More)
The choice of music at Mass matters to me. It was hearing polyphony and chant done well that contributed to my conversion. It was hearing practically every other style of music in church that contributed to my not becoming a Christian until I did.
I grew up hearing Methodist hymns in church, and today I can’t bear to sing them or any other “traditional” 19th century-style hymn, even if the words are written by Fr Faber. I hate Christmas carols and find them sentimental. I had grown tired of Silent Night and Ding Dong Merrily on High before I was 10 years old, and today always refuse to go caroling in the neighborhood on the grounds that I don’t want to chase any more people away from the Church.
I find the attempts to be musically current in church even more repellent. Whether it’s the Woodstock-throwback-with-added-sugar of the standard pew missalet, candied Cat Stevens presented by a cantor in a faux operatic or broadway-musical style, or the more recent equivalents, imitations of the pop music of the moment to “get the young people in,” it’s all the same to me. If ever there was an award that labels a musical artist as a legend in his own lunchtime, it’s “Christian album of the year.” Attempts at being Christian and cutting edge always seem outdated five minutes after they were composed, and most weren’t that great for the four minutes they were relevant.
Whenever I am in church and expected to sing along to such inventions, I shift uneasily and look down at the ground, hoping nobody notices I’m not joining in. (That’s assuming I can hit the pitch, which is usually too high for most men anyway.) It is an attempt to appeal to young people that feels to me like an imitation of the foolish parent who tries to hard to be liked by his adolescent children by adopting inappropriate teenage fashions; he inevitably misses the mark, and loses self respect and the respect of the younger generation in the process. To my mind, there’s nothing more embarrassing than a grown-up trying to be hip and groovy when the words “hip” and “groovy” haven’t been hip and groovy for a long, long time. I thought that when I was 13-year-old atheist and I still think it today.
And I’m not just talking about the music for the Novus Ordo or the Masses (Read More)
By Junno Arocho Esteves
A Pokemon Go avatar in St. Peter’s Square.
ROME — Pokemon Go, the location-based augmented reality game based on the popular animated cartoon, has swept across the United States and has made it here to Italy.
The most coveted Pokestop in Vatican City, however, is the least accessible one: the window of the papal apartment where Pope Francis delivers his Sunday Angelus address.
Using a mobile phone’s GPS and camera, players can catch and train virtual Pokemon as well as battle with other players at designated areas called Pokegyms.
As players walk around, they can reach designated areas in the maps called Pokestops where they can pick items, such as Pokeballs, unhatched Pokemon eggs, and other goodies.
The window of the papal apartments is one of the many Pokestops in Vatican City.
Given my schedule, I’m not one to indulge in mobile games as often as I’d like, and maybe it’s for the better since I get hooked so easily. But after seeing all the fuss online, I decided to give it try. And yes, I got hooked.
I found myself walking aimlessly through the streets of Rome stopping every so often at a Pokestop or trying to catch a rogue Pokemon for my collection.
A walk from the office to St. Peter’s Square takes no more than 2 minutes. With Pokemon Go, it took me about 5 minutes, often times bumping into tourists because I was staring at my phone.
Looking around the square, almost every tourist had a phone; I was looking for any novice Pokemon masters like myself looking for goodies at one of the many Pokestops in St. Peter’s.
One young tourist stares at her mobile phone in St. Peter’s Square. (CNS photo/ Junno Arocho Esteves)
However, going around, discreetly looking at other people’s phones, I noticed they were either texting, snapping selfies in front of the basilica or recording videos of their children scurrying across the square.
Pokemon Go might bring a lot of people back to church, but not in the way one would expect, particularly because some Pokestops are actually churches. While riding a bus near the Vatican, I passed by the Roman parish of St. Peter the Apostle. And yes, it’s a Pokestop.
Nevertheless, I came to the realization that not only was I fully engrossed in the game, I was also alienating myself.
The Roman parish of St. Peter the Apostle is one of many Pokestops in Rome.
I was (Read More)
Here for the first time is a piece by iconographer, Keri Wiederspahn. She will be doing a series of posts about her faith and her work as an icon painter and influences on both. She is on the faculty of Pontifex University, which will offer courses in the Fall. We haven’t featured France much on the Way of Beauty to date (perhaps its a reflection of my being English, I don’t know), but this certainly helps to redress the balance. Thank you Keri!
Here it is:
Beauty leads the way to inspire wonder and holds the key to mystery and a call to transcendence.
By Keri Wiederspahn
Several decades ago, as an unchurched 15-year old drawn to art and already identifying myself as an aspiring artist, I was blessed with a transformative encounter on a trip to the ancient cliff-side village of Rocamadour in the South of France not far from where my parents and I were spending the year on my father’s sabbatical in the Dordogne Valley.
Medieval discoveries were now expected daily in our lives in this new land, but this pilgrim experience became something altogether different — my first encounter with the infinite beauty and love of God received through a sacred aesthetic experience. A true source of theology was manifest in this place of tangible space, color and sculpted form, celebrating the joy and mystery of salvation while revealing an unexpected door of mercy that initiated my early hunger and thirst for God.
With flights of steps worn smooth from the centuries of pilgrimage by kings, bishops, nobles and common folk, various legends and fact intermingle surrounding Rocamadour through St. Amadour who is said to have built the cliff-side chapel in honor of the Blessed Virgin, attributed to also having carved the simple Black Madonna known for its miraculous happenings.
The sense of the Other is profound in this place, rich with the gift of Divine inspiration.
The carved Black Madonna remains cloistered in its chapel to this day, and it was from within the centuries-old resonance of prayer that Christ somehow became real to me for the first time through this most simple presentation of Christ through his Mother.
It turns out that many conversions happened in this humble chapel — composer Francis Poulenc was one of them, a great talent influenced and mentored by Eric Satie, who after spending extended time in the chapel, dedicated the remainder of (Read More)
Young boy seen in a refugee camp in Libya in 2012. (CNS photo/Reuters)
By Ana Franco-Guzman
Refugees arriving in the United States are resilient people who want to contribute to society, believes Darwensi Clark of the U.S. bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services.
He’s seen it among the refugees he has worked with through the years.
Refugees are in a difficult position, he told Catholic News Service after a recent World Refugee Day program sponsored by MRS. Refugees don’t want to flee their homes and enter into an uncomfortable situation, which no one else would want, said Clark, who is associate director of processing operations for MRS.
For that reason, Americans should work to better understand what’s happening overseas to force people to flee their homeland, Clark said.
A refugee and an asylee shared their stories during the event.
Mussie Hadgu, a refugee from Eritrea who now lives in Arlington, Virginia, said he knows that with hard work anyone can succeed in the U.S.
“It’s hard to be a refugee,” he said. “There are many challenges in coming to a new country.” Mussie fled his beloved country in 2007 and sought refuge in Kenya. He stayed in Kenya for 7 years before resettling in the U.S. with the help of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington.
Yosief Habte is an asylee from Asmara, Eritrea, who shared his story at the event. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington has helped him find his new jobs, which are working for Metro and, in his free time, doing watercolor and collage paintings.
A veiled Afghan woman waits at U.N.-funded center in Pakistan in 2012. (CNS photo/Reuters)
For the record MRS is the world’s largest nongovernmental resettlement organization. The organization has helped resettle more than 1 million refugees in the U.S. in its 50-year history.
Under definitions of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, a refugee is someone who has been forced to flee their home because of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or participation in a social group.
An asylee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to his or her homeland or to seek the protection of that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution.
Asylees seek protection once they are in the U.S. while refugees apply for refugee status overseas.
The UNHCR reports there are 19.5 million refugees and 38.2 million internally displaced persons worldwide.
A person must (Read More)
“Who is my neighbor?” — Luke 10:29
July 10, Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Deuteronomy 30:10-14
Psalm 69:14, 17, 30-31, 33-34, 36-37 or Psalm 19:8-11
2) Colossians 1:15-20
Gospel: Luke 10:25-37
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
One difficulty of living the Christian life is that while most of it is simple, it’s often not easy. Love God, love your neighbor — simple concepts, but not always easy to accomplish.
Similar precepts are: serve the poor, sin less, pray daily, read the Bible regularly, and attend and participate fully at Mass on Sunday. There are many others, but you get the idea. All of these are so simple and basic that I hardly need to mention them, but none is easy to bring to fruition.
These tasks are not difficult because, as Moses says in this week’s first reading from Deuteronomy, we don’t have to go up in the sky to complete them or across the ocean to achieve them. No, he says, they are already planted within us; we only have to carry them out. Simple but not easy.
This week’s Gospel is one of the most challenging messages in the whole Bible. In answering the question, “Who is my neighbor?” Jesus uses a person all Jews of the day despised. Jews were not to associate with Samaritans, so to use this person as the example of mercy would have seemed quite outlandish.
For modern-day Christians, this example may seem a bit simple, but as soon as you bring it up-to-date, it is not as easy as it sounds. For instance, think of the people or groups you find it hard to like, even people who have totally different viewpoints, morals, faith and country of origin than you do. These are our Samaritans; these are our neighbors.
We all have people in our lives that irk us far past what is holy. It is these people that Jesus says are our neighbors. It is these people we are to love. Pope Francis has trumpeted this message from Jesus that we are to go beyond our comfort zone and love these neighbors. Depending on the situation, this may not even be simple, let alone easy.
Yet Jesus calls us to do it all the same. His exact words are, (Read More)
Here are some photos of a walk I did recently in the hills overlooking the town of Martinez in the San Francisco Bay area of California. As you can see, pasture land that was green and lush a couple of months ago is now brown, and only the oak trees remain verdent, standing proud in the landscape as the send their roots deep into the soil in search of water.
I have been visiting this part of the world for many years now (my brother lives in the area) and when I first visited it was at this time of the year and I found the landscape to dry and dusty to seem beautiful – I was used to the English countryside which is green just about all year round. Somehow just to look at what seems an almost dead landscape made me feel thirsty. However after many visits I have now seen this landscape at other times of the year and I realised that in the winter, which is the rainy season, this area looks as green as England. Interestingly, I found that this knowledge of how it changes through the year changed my appreciation of the landscape even in the dry season. It was as though my memory of how lush it could be was always part of my impression. So it now seemed akin to the pleasure of seeing the yellowing and browning of trees in autumn – when you know that this is just temporary and that as part of cycle of seasons there will be a rebirth later in the year, it no longer seems desolate and inhospitable now.
The town of Martinez itself, incidentally, is on the south shore of the Carquinez Strait in the San Francisco Bay. The area to north of this is inlet contains the Napa Valley, famous for its vinyards. I like the views of the town below, which has an oil refinery and is visited by tankers. If you watch the boat traffic, you can see these tankers and tug boats motoring through the straight. They make a majestic sight.
But before we had the pleasure of the view, we had to put in the work and walk up the hillside firstly through the trees and then up the bare hillside in the sunshine.
This is farmland with public access. There is alwas the risk (Read More)
By Carol Glatz
Screengrab of the videogame character, Frisk, and Pope Francis from Matthew Patrick’s YouTube video “Game Theory: Why I gave the pope Undertale.” Patrick met the pope with other YouTubers in May.
VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis got game — an online, role-playing, cult video game, that is.
Appropriately, the game is not a stereotypical virtual world of bloody combat by blasphemous brutes, but the critically acclaimed video game, Undertale, which lets players choose to dialogue with and feel mercy for “monsters” rather than attack and kill them.
U.S. gamer, Matthew Patrick, was one of a dozen YouTubers, who met with the pope in May as part of a world congress sponsored by Scholas Occurrentes. The highly popular vloggers, who have, when tallied together, about 25 million subscribers, were invited to meet and interview the pope.
I just interviewed the POPE! I am literally #blessed@Pontifex pic.twitter.com/S6soqWuPcC
— Matthew Patrick (@MatPatGT) May 29, 2016
Patrick, whose screen name is MatPat, revealed on his “The Game Theorists” YouTube channel July 5 that, during the papal encounter, he gave the pope an activation code to purchase and download Undertale because the popular release “speaks his language.”
“This year is his self-proclaimed Year of Mercy for the Catholic Church, a period celebrating forgiveness and compassion,” Patrick said in his video. “What’s the recurring theme throughout Undertale? Mercy,” he said, not only for the innocent, but even for “the most vile murderers.”
The 29-year-old self-described “information addict” gives an extensive explanation in his 16-minute video of why he chose to give the pope the game instead of, what he parodied as being, more distinctively American gifts like “an over-sized hamburger, a cowboy hat and a bald eagle carrying a machine gun.”
“If I was going to be the representative of any culture it was going to be of this culture, the Internet culture, and more specifically of gamers because our voice has so rarely gotten represented offline,” he said. Whenever the gaming world does make the news, he said, “it’s always, always, in the negative,” portraying gamers as killers or misogynists.
Giving the pope access to an online world that encourages solving problems peacefully was “an important symbolic gesture for all of us gamers,” he said. It was a way to counteract all the negative coverage gamers often get and “educate the world about the good works of gaming.”
The popularity of Undertale (Read More)
By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY — Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, editor of the journal La Civilta Cattolica, interviewed Cardinal Christoph Schonborn about Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” and reaction to it.
The journal provided Catholic News Service with an English translation of the interview and its website — www.laciviltacattolica.it — was scheduled to post selections in English from the interview at 3 p.m. Rome time today.
Here are two of the questions and answers:
Father Spadaro: Some have spoken of AL as a minor document, a personal opinion of the pope (so to speak) without full magisterial value. What value does this exhortation possess? Is it an act of the magisterium? This seems obvious, but it is good to specify it in these times, in order to prevent some voices from creating confusion among the faithful when they assert that this is not the case …
Cardinal Schonborn: It is obvious that this is an act of the magisterium: It is an apostolic exhortation. It is clear that the pope is exercising here his role of pastor, of master and teacher of the faith, after having benefited from the consultation of the two synods. I have no doubt that it must be said that this is a pontifical document of great quality, an authentic teaching of sacra doctrina, which leads us back to the contemporary relevance of the Word of God.
Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna arriving at a 2014 session of the Synod of Bishops on the family. (CNS/Paul Haring)
I have read it many times, and each time I note the delicacy of its composition and an ever greater quantity of details that contain a rich teaching. There is no lack of passages in the exhortation that affirm their doctrinal value strongly and decisively. This can be recognized from the tone and the content of what is said, when we relate these to the intention of the text — for example, when the pope writes: “I urgently ask …”, “It is no longer possible to say …”, “I have wanted to present to the entire church …”, and so on. AL is an act of the magisterium that makes the teaching of the church present and relevant today. Just as we read the Council of Nicaea in the light of the Council of Constantinople, and Vatican I in the light of Vatican II, so now we must read the previous statements of the (Read More)
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, which opened in 1993 in Washington has the words of Elie Wiesel carved in stone at its entrance: “For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.”
Catholic high school teacher views an exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum during a 1998 training program for Catholic teachers. (CNS photo by Bob Roller)
Wiesel, the Holocaust survivor, Nobel Peace Prize recipient and prolific author who died July 2 at the age of 87, was passionate about helping people not only remember atrocities but to take responsibility for them by making sure evil does not get the upper hand again.
He did this not only with his writings — most famously through “Night” — the autobiographical account of his time in concentration camps as a teenager — but also through helping found the Holocaust museum , which he envisioned as a “living memorial” to serve as a warning about the fragility of democracy and the dangers of unchecked hatred.
When the museum opened 23 years ago, Catholic News Service reported:
The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum not only recounts the deaths of millions of victims of World War II, but it presents a lesson for all people, according to Jewish and Catholic leaders.
“It tells a crucial story, summing up the underside of the 20th century,” said Eugene J. Fisher, associate director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.
He called the new museum’s role “extremely important” in “helping all Christians remember what can happen if we’re not extremely vigilant.”
The museum, near all the other museums along the National Mall, deserves to be visited, and perhaps Wiesel’s death is a poignant reminder of that.
I had the chance to tour it before it officially opened and wrote this for CNS:
Once inside the museum, the visitor has stepped into another world. And for the few hours it takes to see the entire exhibit, that world closes in. There are no hallways where one can escape; no opportunity to go back and forth among displays. The museum is designed to make one feel pushed along, almost forced, as were the concentration camp prisoners.
Amid the discomfort, there is also a connection with the persecuted. Visitors are immediately given a computerized identity card of a Holocaust victim who matches their own age and sex. The card includes a short biography which is updated at stations (Read More)
By Barb Fraze
St. Leonard’s Crypt below Wawel Cathedral dates to the 11th century. It holds the tombs of Polish royalty and military heroes. Father Karol Wotyla (St. John Paul II) celebrated his first Mass as a priest in the crypt. The city, once the royal capital of Poland, will host the international World Youth Day in July. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
There’s so much to experience in Krakow and its surroundings that it’s difficult to parse a list of helpful tips and favorites. However, while traveling with Poles around Poland last year, CNS contributor Nancy Wiechec was able to come up with a short list to pass on to World Youth Day pilgrims. Print out or save to your phone for quick reference.
Key Polish words
Dzień dobry (Jeyn dob-ry) Hello or good day, formal
Cześć (Chesht-sh) Hello or goodbye, informal
Spoko (S-poko) Cool, no problem
Dobrze (Dob-sheh) Good or well
Dziękuję (Jen-koo-yeah) Thank you
Magiczny Kraków (Ma-geech-nih Krah-koof) Magical Krakow
Obwarzanki for sale in central Krakow. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Foods to try
Pierogi: These Polish dumplings come filled with savory meats, cheese or seasoned cabbage and mushrooms. There are also fruit-filled varieties. They come boiled, fried or baked.
Kabanosy: Thin, dry smoked pork sausages that are a good on-the-go snack. Think jerky. Krakowski Kredens Tradycja Galicyjska in Krakow sells them and other Polish delicacies.
Obwarzanki: These chewy dough rings, sometimes shaped like a pretzel, are sprinkled with salt, poppy and/or sesame seeds. Get them fresh in the morning from street carts across Krakow. At about 1.5 Polish zloty (40 cents), they are a bargain.
Zapiekanka: A toasted half sandwich roll topped with melted cheese, mushrooms and ketchup was a Communist-era omnipresent street food. It’s made a comeback with better quality and a seemingly infinite variety of toppings.
Zurek: Poles love a good soup. This savory broth of soured rye meal and herbs is often made hearty with fresh Polish sausage, hardboiled eggs and bacon.
Kremówki papieskie: A favorite of St. John Paul II from his hometown of Wadowice, papal cream cake is now a sought-after sweet across the country.
This is an interior view taken in early September of St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, Poland. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
Main Market Square and St. Mary’s Basilica
Wawel Castle and Cathedral
St. Peter and Paul Church
Sanctuary of the Divine Mercy
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