Partygoers wear 2016-themed hats as they wait to ring in the new year at Sydney Harbor Dec. 31. (CNS photo/Jason Reed, Reuters)
By Father John Fields
Happy New Year Friday, March 25.
For many centuries because of Christian influence, March 25 was celebrated as New Year’s Day.
Since March 25 was calculated as the date of the crucifixion of Jesus, there was a belief that one died on the same day that one was conceived. If Jesus died on March 25 — the 14th of the Jewish month of Nissan, then he was also conceived on the 14th of Nissan — March 25. Therefore, March 25 was not only the date of his crucifixion, but also became the date of his Incarnation, hence the feast of the Annunciation March 25. And since in God there is perfection, a full nine months after March 25 would be December 25, which became the date of the nativity of Christ.
But March 25 also had other significance. Many believed it was also the date of Adam’s creation and fall; some traditions maintain it was also the fall of Lucifer; the fleeing of Moses and the Israelites from Egypt through the Red Sea; and the immolation of Isaac. These beliefs are found in the early martyrologies and writings of the early fathers of the church.
March 25 was also celebrated for centuries as New Year’s Day on the civil calendar because of Christian influence in society. In England, the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25 continued to be New Year’s Day until the adoption of the Gregorian calendar in 1752. Until 1751, March 25 was also celebrated as New Year’s Day in the American colonies, since they were under British rule. Even the town of Pisa, in Tuscany, Italy, continues to hold a New Year’s celebration on March 25 every year, including this year, a custom dating back to 1749.
So have a Happy New Year March 25!
– – –
Father Fields is director of communications for the Ukrainian Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbor Bridge and Opera House during a show to celebrate the New Year Jan. 1, 2014. (CNS photo/Jason Reed, Reuters)
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I was walking through downtown San Francisco this morning on one of the busiest streets in the city center and I noticed this little alleyway to my left.
What caught my eye is how with very little of architectural interest to work with, a few well tended plants have turned the space into a tiny little peaceful oasis in a busy city. It could have been piled high with garbage bags or the like (others I saw were) but someone has made the effort to make this little corner worth looking at. And everyone who passes, not just those who live and work down here can now have the pleasure of looking at the results of their work.
All it would need to perfect it would be little icon of Christ on the back wall, or perhaps a statue of the BVM, and a place of peace might even become a place of contemplation!
The cobblestones help too of course!
“And yet behold, the hand of the one who is to betray me is with me on the table.” — Luke 22:21
March 20, Palm Sunday
Cycle C. Readings:
At the procession with palms: Luke 19:28-40
1) Isaiah 50:4-7
Psalm 22:8-9, 17-20, 23-24
2) Philippians 2:6-11
Gospel: Luke 22:14-23:56 or Luke 23:1-49
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
There’s an acronym often used to describe Catholics who come to Mass only seldom: PACE (or sometimes CAPE) Catholics. The letters stand for “Palms-Ashes-Christmas-Easter” (or “Christmas-Ashes-Palms-Easter”), referring to the four occasions when they usually choose to attend, for whatever motive.
Since the readings for Palm Sunday are unusually lengthy and the Mass is 20-30 minutes longer than normal due to the beginning procession, I can only imagine that for many of these occasional attendees, the big draw must be the take-home of blessed palms.
Setting aside my indulgence in a bit of self-righteous sarcasm, I find that it’s extremely easy to congratulate myself for not being a PACE/CAPE Catholic, just as it’s quite easy to place myself outside the narrative of Christ’s passion. After all, I’ve heard the story many times before, I wasn’t there when it happened and I’m familiar with the eventual outcome.
So I listen to the readings and reassure myself that Jesus’ suffering is at an end and that I can count myself among the religiously observant few.
Unfortunately, I’m not the first to succumb to this sanctimonious way of thinking, nor will I be the last, I suspect. No sooner had Jesus instituted the sacrifice of his body and blood and predicted his betrayal than the apostles not only absolved themselves of any responsibility, but they argued among themselves about “which of them should be regarded as the greatest.”
“What blind arrogance!” we say smugly, and proceed to the eucharistic table as if we aren’t culpable of any wrongdoing ourselves.
But note whom Jesus identifies as his betrayer: the one whose hand “is with me on the table.” It could have been anyone. And, if I’m truly honest, that “one” is me, especially when I compare myself favorably with others while remaining blind to my own sin. In doing this, I not only approach the Lord’s table unworthily, but I desecrate it without a (Read More)
“Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’” — John 8:10
March 13, Fifth Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Isaiah 43:16-21
2) Philippians 3:8-14
Gospel: John 8:1-11
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
All of the Scriptures this weekend point to the future, a future filled with good things that proclaim the goodness of the Lord and his forgiveness. The Gospel tells us the story of the woman caught in adultery and Jesus’ words to her, so appropriate in this Year of Mercy: “Neither do I condemn you. Go, and from now on do not sin any more.”
I’m always reminded of a woman I encountered in the back of a church many years ago. I’d see her frequently in the darkened, empty church, kneeling in prayer, her head on her hands, a look of deep sorrow on her face.
For whatever reason, I spoke with her one day, and she alluded to something she had done that she said she could never be forgiven for. She didn’t say what it was, so I’ve never known, but she’s remained in the back of my mind across the intervening decades.
I remember gently trying to encourage her to accept God’s forgiveness and her insistence that she was beyond God’s grace.
She had a glow about her, a sense of holiness that I’ve seen in people I consider to be very holy. As much time as she spent in prayer, she had, no doubt, become quite familiar with what if feels like to be in God’s presence.
So what do we tell people when they fail to believe God can forgive them? How do we tell them to ask, to reach out to the hand extended in blessing? I still don’t know. I only know that those of us who know the depths of our own sinfulness must keep pointing the way, must keep telling those who have fallen that God himself will help them stand again.
Have you experienced deep feelings of unworthiness that make you doubt God’s ability to forgive you? How can you overcome these feelings to experience the unmerited favor of God, which is grace?
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Some of you may remember that on November 25th I wrote a short piece publicizing the idea of establishing parish based men’s groups that are part of the Holy League.
The idea is that the men’s Holy League meets monthly and has been formed in response to a call from Cardinal Burke and is intended to create a network of parish-based men’s groups in a structured Holy Hour.
The Holy League was first formed as part of the call to holiness and fortitude that occurred when Europe was under threat from Islamic forces and prior to the battle of Lepanto in 1571. The aim is to reestablish this in every Catholic parish. The intention is that it will form men to be engaged in spiritual combat and to participate in the transformation of the culture. Just as it did in the 16th century.
I would love to hear of any groups that have started and how they are doing. I would be happy to publicize your Holy League meeting.
The one I mentioned in my original blog post, in Manchester, NH is still going strong and is due to meet at St Raphael’s Church, Manchester at 7pm this coming Friday. The format is Compline, Eucharistic Adoration, prayer, short spiritual reflections, the availability of the Sacrament of Confession, Benediction and fraternity. Following the Holy Hour there is a Social Hour (bring something to drink). The conversation in this crowd of men is always hard hitting, intelligent and fun.
Aimed initially at ages 6-11 years in Chicago, it will offer a radically new form of education, that reaches back to the classical tradition in a way not seen in modern times. It will offer a formation in beauty and instill an ethos of creativity and the motivation to contribute to society in pursuit of their personal vocation.
Dostoevsky wrote famously, “Beauty will save the world.” But can it save Catholic education? The answer is yes! in the opinion of Michael and Kelly Sullivan who are creating The Sanctuary Academy in Chicago. I was excited recently when they contacted met to ask for advice in incorporating the principles of education on those described in the Way of Beauty into the school they are founding for students aged 6-11 years. Michael and Kelly are inspired also by another book, published last year by Angelico Press and written by Dr Ryan Topping. It is called, the Case for a Catholic Education:
As Ryan has masterfully pointed out, we are in a crisis of Catholic education. Our educational form has aped the public school industrial model of education with only marginal better testing outcomes, and disastrous results when it comes to faith engagement. The Church is losing 70% of its young people to apostasy and the remaining 30% are only nominally Catholic according to a recent study. We are living with the fruits of what Bishop Baron has called “beige Catholicism” where atheists and agnostics know our faith better than we do.
One response to this problem is The Sanctuary Academy, and they need your help.
The Sanctuary Academy is a new model of Catholic education that is combining The Acton Academy in Austin, TX with the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and The Way of Beauty (inspired by my book).
The Big Idea is that when children are free to pursue their own interests they will have accelerated learning and become lifelong learners in pursuit of the work God has called them to fulfill in His Kingdom. What children need alongside this ordered freedom is a culture of encounter, love and Beauty.
The Sanctuary Academy is seeking to form “world changers” to change the world through their encounter with the World Changer Himself.
How do I know about this new effort? I know the founders and am was honored to be asked to serve on the advisory board (Read More)
“Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.” — Luke 15:21
March 6, Fourth Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Joshua 5:9a, 10-12
2) 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
Gospel: Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
This week’s Gospel story of the prodigal son has always captivated me with its image of God the Father waiting with open arms, constantly ready to take his wayward child back into his loving embrace. There are so many facets to this parable’s message: the father’s unconditional love and mercy; the prodigal recognizing his sin and the joy of reconciliation; the sibling’s loyalty and how his resentment caused separation.
But who would think it has anything to do with climate change?
Well, think of “squander” and “a life of dissipation,” — or simply “prodigal,” which means wastefully extravagant — as the Scripture describes the son’s behavior.
Think of the father lovingly bestowing on his son all the resources he needed to maintain the good life he’d had under his parent’s care. Think of the son using up his inheritance that would have allowed him to ensure that same life for subsequent generations of his family.
When I read Pope Francis’ recent encyclical, “Laudato Si’” (“On Care for Our Common Home”), I got only as far as Paragraph 2 before I thought of the prodigal son.
The document reminds us that God has generously provided for all the needs of humanity through his gift of the natural world. Many of us, especially in the wealthiest countries, have wantonly, selfishly spent God’s gift of creation with increasingly wasteful consumption and depletion of its resources.
Does the parable of the prodigal son apply here? Is it a sin when I waste water or fail to speak up when my own electricity provider is destroying the habitat of endangered species? Of course it is.
In “Laudato Si’,” Pope Francis quotes Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians: “For human beings … to destroy the biological diversity of God’s creation; for human beings to degrade the integrity of the earth … to contaminate the earth’s waters, its land, its air and its life — these are sins.”
Through his emphatic reiteration of Catholic social teaching in “Laudato Si’,” our pope calls us to turn away from (Read More)
I am delighted to announce that The Sanctuary Academy in Chicago, which is a newly founded Catholic independent school that is devoted to a formation of young children so that they can contribute creatively to a culture of beauty. In this program education science, faith and art are united in the contemplation and creation of beauty.
They are founding it on the principles of the Acton Academy model which promotes the values of the Acton Institute – human flourishing in a society of faith and freedom. In order to give it a distinctive and authentically Catholic ethos they are going to incorporate the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and the principles outlined in my book the Way of Beauty adapted for young children.
I am a friend of the Michael and Kelly Sullivan who are the founders, and if you follow the link here you will find a video in which they explain the concept and they are asking for support. This is an exciting new project and it deserves support they are asking for – I am honored to be on the Advisory Board for the Academy. As an incentive, if you give to the project they are offering a number of book, including a copy of the Way of Beauty!
For more information go here.
Now available on Amazon and iTunes
Here is a series of documentaries which were a real eye-opener for me. I have often wondered why some countries have economies that seemingly have explosive growth and others remain in a state of permanent stagnation. Sometimes the answer is obvious. I can see that a region which is in a state brutal civil war is unlikely to develop economically. But what of those countries that are peaceful, why do some remain poor – is it simply a case that we in the developed world need to dig deeper and give more? The answer, it seems is no. Poverty, Inc gives an alternative viewpoint.
If ever there was field in which people have been measured by their intentions rather than results, it seems, it is in the efforts to eradicate poverty in the developing world. The intentions of people who give development aid are often noble, but the effects have been mixed at best, and in some cases disastrous.
Some of the problem is corruption and the fact that there are unscrupulous people around who pocket the money so that much of it never gets to where it is intended for. But it runs much deeper than that. It seems that problems are intrinsic to the whole system of aid that the West has created and there are terrible unintended consequences for the very people whom we want to help. Even if all involved are honest and diligent, the nature of the projects that the money is actually spent on is such that when you examine the effectiveness, they actually keep people in poverty. Whether it is intended or not, the people who really benefit most are those who are involved in the multi-billion dollar development business. As a result, leaders in the developing world are growing increasingly vocal in calling for change.
Here is a video, now available on Amazon and iTunes, which examines this problems and comes up with answers. Drawing from over 200 interviews filmed in 20 countries, Poverty, Inc. unearths an uncomfortable side of charity we can no longer ignore.
From TOMs Shoes to international adoptions, from solar panels to U.S. agricultural subsidies, the film is challenging and certainly made me wonder if I am part of the problem too? The evidence seems to suggest that the most effective answers are rooted in the cultural backdrop of faith and family from which the entrepreneurial drive (Read More)
“Merciful and gracious is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” — Psalm 103:8
Feb. 28, Third Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Exodus 3:1-8a, 13-15
Psalm 103:1-4, 6-8, 11
2) 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12
Gospel: Luke 13:1-9
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
In the reading from Exodus, God speaks of his intention to come down and rescue his people from the tyranny of the Egyptians, revealing that his mercy is not merely felt, but results in action.
The psalm response, too, speaks repeatedly of the mercy of God toward us, his people. We are to remember that he pardons our sins and redeems our lives from destruction. God is slow to anger and abounding in kindness toward those who fear him, the psalmist tells us.
In the Gospel, Jesus gets to the core of our response to God’s mercy in his reference to the barren fig tree. The owner comes and finds it without fruit for the third year in a row and instructs the gardener to cut it down. No, the gardener contends, “leave it for this year also, and I shall cultivate the ground around it and fertilize it; it may bear fruit in the future. If not you can cut it down.”
Lent is a special time for us to consider how we can respond to God’s generosity by showing mercy and performing acts of charity and justice toward others.
Thinking about my friends who were already showing the mercy of God in their actions, I came up with too many to list. They varied in age, race, gender and social status. Some were collectively engaged in mission work extending from Latin America to Russia, from Africa to Indonesia. Others were kind and good to their neighbors and families — to those close to them.
All shared joy and a sense of purpose and mission in what they did. They knew that their connection to God, their obligation to live out the love of God poured into their hearts was what kept them going.
My lesson for Lent will be to see how I can imitate their acts of goodness in my own life and in my own contacts with others, so that when the gardener checks on me, he might find me fruitful right (Read More)
Full details are now available online for the conference about sanctity, beauty and catholic artistic expression taking place at St Rita’s Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas; May 19-21.
It has been organized to showcase the world premiere of a specially commissioned Oratorio about St Rita. The oratorio, A Rose in Winter – the Life of St Rita of Cascia has been composed by Frank LaRocca and librettist Matthew Lickona. The performance will be conducted by Dr Alfred Calabrese.
Scheduled speakers are the composer, librettist and conductor; as well as Dr Ron Rombs and Dr Kathryn Rombs of the University of Dallas, Fr Michael Digrigoria OSA, Fr Joshua Whitfield of St Rita’s Church and myself. Titles and abstracts of the talks are on the website.
For more information and register go to stritaconference.com.
My hope is that they might commission a piece of art work to go with it! Judging from the selection on Google images when you put her name into the search engine, there aren’t many high quality holy images of her around! I like this one, which I found on the internet, but with no mention of who the artist is.
Archivist for Dorothy Day papers guilty of trespassing at drone base
Phil Runkel, left, walks with others Aug. 25 toward Volk Air National Guard Base in Wisconsin to voice concern with U.S. drone policy. (Courtesy Voices for Creative Nonviolence)
Phil Runkel, archivist for the papers of Dorothy Day at Marquette University’s Raynor Memorial Libraries, is among the most recent people found guilty of a crime for protesting the United States’ use of military drones.
The conviction on a trespassing charge came Feb.19 during a brief trial in Juneau County Circuit Court. Runkel was arrested Aug. 25 at an entrance of Volk Field Air National Guard Base in Camp Douglas, Wisconsin, where he joined a group of Catholic Workers and other activists concerned that the use of drones for extrajudicial killings constitutes a war crime.
Runkel attempted to tell the court during his trial that he entered the air base grounds under the belief that citizens have the legal privilege under international law to act in a nonviolent manner to halt the commission of a war crime. However, District Attorney Mike Solovey objected, saying there was nothing about intent in the law, according to courtroom observers.
Judge Paul Curran upheld the objection, quickly found Runkel guilty and issued a $232 fine.
Runkel was the most recent of the 14 people arrested for trespassing at Volk in August to be found guilty in a trial. The last trial is set for Feb. 25.
Similar nonviolent actions by Catholic Workers and others have been occurring at air bases around the country in an effort to call attention to drone warfare.
Lenten fast for climate justice
Catholics around the world again are fasting during Lent for climate justice in response to Pope Francis’ call to care for creation during the month of February.
Coordinated by the Global Catholic Climate Movement, the fast finds people in 57 countries taking a day to fast from food or perhaps even from expending nonrenewable energy and to pray in a special way for the environment.
The climate movement’s website has posted Pope Francis’ video message in which he calls on all people to “take good care of creation — a gift freely given — cultivating and protecting it for future generations.”
“The relationship between poverty and the fragility of the planet requires another way of managing the economy and measuring progress, conceiving a new way of living. Because we (Read More)
The Way of Beauty Book Will Be a Text Book for the Course.
The Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, which is part of the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley University in California is offering an exciting new Certificate in Theological Studies which is intended for working artists. This is a Masters level, four-course (12-unit) Certificate which is recommended for those who already have a working knowledge of a specific art medium (visual arts, music, architecture etc.) and wish to augment their expertise with a specialized focus in the relationship of the fine arts to Catholic worship and culture.
The approach to this certificate program assumes the “cross-disciplinary approach” between philosophy and theology that uniquely characterizes all DSPT curricula. Furthermore, in this particular program there will be a focus on the integration of theory with praxis, particularly as it applies to Catholic worship and culture. An emphasis on the outcomes of this course is on the evangelization of the culture through a well discerned engagement with contemporary cultures so that the creativity of the artist is directed towards the engagement of contemporary man, without any compromise of the core principles of a traditional Christian culture.
The Certificate program of studies is organized by the Academic Dean of the DSPT, Fr Chris Renz (some readers may remember that I highlighted his excellent article on liturgy and culture published in Antiphon recently). Also involved will be Fr Michael Morris, art historian and professor of religion and the arts at DSPT, who is also well known as a writer on Christian art and culture. . He and Fr Renz are both leading lights in the research institute for religion and the arts called the Santa Fe Institute which has over 12,000 volumes in its library. This resource will be available to students on this certificate.
Anyone who has read any of my writings over the years will see why I am enthusiastic about this – these themes of inculturation, worship and fresh creativity are at the heart of my own ideas about the evangelization of the culture. I am thrilled, as you can imagine, when Fr Renz told me that he intends to use my book the Way of Beauty as one of the texts for the opening course of the Certificate program.
The first course of the four to be offered, in the coming Fall, is called the Foundational Principles of Catholic Liturgy and (Read More)
“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we also await a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.” — Philippians 3:20
Feb. 21, Second Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Genesis 15:5-12, 17-18
Psalm 27:1, 7-9, 13-14
2) Philippians 3:17-4:1 or Philippians 3:20-4:1
Gospel: Luke 9:28b-36
By Sharon K. Perkins
Catholic News Service
I have a 2-year-old nephew who currently lives in Shanghai with his parents. He was born in China, but because my brother and his wife are U.S. citizens, their son received the full privileges and benefits of American citizenship even before his first glimpse of the United States; he only needed to obtain the necessary documentation.
When his parents’ residence in China ends, little Mateo, already the proud owner of a U.S. passport, will be welcomed into his “new” homeland and bound by its laws and obligations.
There’s a different kind of citizenship described in today’s readings, and we’re given a preview of it, beginning in Genesis. Abram, a sojourner and a foreigner, is promised more descendants than he can count and the possession of a land that is not his birthright.
Although no documents are signed, there is the solemn enactment of a covenant by which God binds himself to fulfill his promises. Before he even sees the land that God has given to him, Abram becomes its citizen.
In the Gospel, Peter, James and John saw the two great figures of their past, Moses and Elijah, on the mount of the Transfiguration. But Jesus also showed them a glimpse of their future citizenship. It was as if a curtain was pulled back and they were able to see a realm so glorious that they were overwhelmed, captivated, enthralled and frightened all at the same time.
St. Paul reminds us that “our citizenship is in heaven” and that “he will change our lowly body to conform with his glorified body.” Although we haven’t earned its rights and privileges, our citizenship has already been accomplished by Jesus’ “exodus” in Jerusalem — his suffering and death on a cross.
We are invited to inhabit a promised realm we have yet to see, living under its obligations while we “wait for the Lord with courage.” Like the psalmist, we can assert, “I believe that I shall see the (Read More)
Here is an inspiration for artists in the West!
The latest edition of the Orthodox Arts Journal has a feature on the recently dedicated Cathedral of the Protection of the Mother of God at Yasenevo, which overlooks Moscow. It is was dedicated by Patriarch Kirill and appropriately (given his recent meeting with Pope Francis) the mosaics especially draw inspiration from traditional Western iconographic forms. As the article explains, they looked to the Romanesque churches of Sicily built in the Byzantine influenced Romanesque style in the 12th century under the patronage of the Norman king, Roger II. In doing this, the art conforms fully to the principles that define the iconographic tradition, but in an exciting way that is unusual in Russia.
Below, the interior mosaics and the (very Russian) exterior of the cathedral:
Compare and contrast those with the interior and exterior of the Cappella Palatina in Palermo, Sicily
I have only seen the photographs that are included in the article, but based upon these I would say that this is a model lesson in how to draw into your own tradition outside influences without compromising core principles. It is fresh and exciting and this is the mark of a truly living tradition.
Furthermore, there is plenty of more conventional, Eastern style iconography here too, and the external appearance of the Church clearly that of an Eastern church.
I suggest that Catholics in the West should look at the way in which the Eastern Church so successfully reestablished its iconographic tradition of art in the mid-20th century. (The leader figures were Russian ex-patriots, theorists and painters living in Paris, the leading figures were Vladimir Lossky, P. D. Ouspensky and Gregory Kroug – we will be talking more about them and style of Russian icons in coming weeks!).
The new iconography is so much more than an unthinking recreation of the past – which would be pastiche. The best of the icon painters of of today who work in this tradition are producing work that bears the mark of its time and place; and can stand alongside the great artists of the past.
This is what I hope to see applied to our distinctly Western traditions of liturgical art in the future. If any of you are interested in knowing more about icons and also my ideas on how we might re-establish a culture of beauty in the West you can read (Read More)
By Tony Spence
The Chronicle of Philanthropy this month focus on the most generous donors in American with short descriptions of the top 50 givers. The total the Philanthropy 50 gave in 2015 was an impressive $7 billion with the median gift being $91.1 million. That’s pretty generous.
In comparison, the annual budget last year for the state of Oklahoma was $7. 2 billion. With a few more shekels, these guys could have funded the entire state last year.
The largest gift — $758.9 million — came from the estate of Richard Mellon Scaife, the Mellon oil and banking heir, principally to his two family foundations.
Gonzaga University’s main building and statue of St. Aloysius Gonzaga in Spokane, Wash. The university received $55 million from Myrtle Woldson, a Spokane businesswoman who died in 2014. (Gonzaga University photo)
But others, such as the second largest — $605 million from the estate of Texan John Santikos, owner of a large theater chain — was one of the “big bets” for social change, in his case to the San Antonio Area Foundation.
Donor recipients included medical and engineering research to improve lives. A Seattle self-made businessman, Donald Sirkin, left a $125 million bequest to the San Francisco-based Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an organization that had never raised more than $2 million in any year. Mr. Sirkin was losing his sight, and he wanted to make a big impact in one place. The gift will help Lighthouse finish its new headquarters and partner with tech companies to create products the blind can easily use.
Journalism got a boost from donors Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest. They gave $20 million to the non-profit he created, the Institute for Journalism in New Media. Lenfest started the organization when he turned the holding company for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Daily News and Philly.com over to it a while back. According to the Chronicle the gift will support the three media and award grants to others.
Universities and education were big beneficiaries. They received $2.1 billion in 2015. And Catholic institutions got windfalls. New York financier Stephen Schwarzman and wife Christine have the eighth largest gift — $40 million – to the Inner-City Scholarship Fund to pay for disadvantaged students to attend Catholic school in the city.
Businesswoman and savvy investor Myrtle Woldson, who died in 2014, gifted $55 million to Gonzaga University for a performing arts center and threw in (Read More)
By David Agren
CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico — In anticipation of Pope Francis’ Feb. 17 visit to this border city, an unlikely hashtag appeared: #PopeInJuarez.
The hashtag refers to Ciudad Juarez and the pope’s arrival in a city once considered “murder capital of the world.” It has seen a 92 percent drop in the homicide rate since the depth of its drug-related violence in 2010.
A painting of former President Benito Juarez of Mexico is seen in this 2004 file photo. (CNS photo/Mario Guzman, EPA)
However, the city’s namesake, former President Benito Juarez, once feuded with the Catholic Church and authored the 1850s reform laws that stripped the church of its properties, power in legal matters and even prohibited priests and nuns from wearing their habits in public.
Pope Francis’ visit to the country and Ciudad Juarez demonstrate the distance church-state relations have moved in Mexico, which only established relations with the Vatican in 1992. Already in the papal trip, politicians in the states the pope has visited have been eager to appear in public with him and published photos of their encounters on social media and state-subsidized media outlets. That the hashtag would appear in its Spanish form, #PapaEnJuarez, would appear to show a lessening of the anti-clerical attitudes, too — though some of it could be attributed to ignorance. The English-language hashtag appeared to emanate from neighboring El Paso, Texas.
Juarez is one of modern Mexico’s most celebrated figures. His image appears on the 20-peso note, while streets across the country are named after him, along with the Mexico City international airport and even the presidential airplane. He is revered in Mexico for leading it through the French intervention of the 1860s, heading the factions of liberals battling conservative forces in the country and becoming the first indigenous president, although his track record on indigenous land issues is considered unfriendly to indigenous peoples, said Ilan Semo, political historian at the Jesuit-run Iberoamerican University.
The phrase, “Among individuals, as among nations, respect for the rights of others is peace,” is attributed to Juarez and commonly quoted.
A less-flattering phrase also attributed to Juarez, “For my friends, grace and justice, for my enemies, the law,” has come to sum up Mexico’s powerful presidency and lack of the rule of law.
Juarez was born into poverty in the Mixtec region of Oaxaca state, was orphaned at a young age, moved to Oaxaca City, was taken in by a lay Franciscan and (Read More)
“Jesus … was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days, to be tempted by the devil.” — Luke 4:1-2
Feb. 14, First Sunday of Lent
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Deuteronomy 26:4-10
Psalm 91:1-2, 10-15
2) Romans 10:8-13
Gospel: Luke 4:1-13
By Jeff Hedglen
Catholic News Service
The most frequently asked question of Catholics at this time of year is, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Giving things up and doing extra things is definitely a big part of the Lenten season. I suppose another big question is how long will we keep firm in these intentions before totally failing at Lent.
I think one of the best reasons to give something up or do something extra in Lent is that it helps us grow in discipline. We are a culture that lets our emotions and feelings dictate our action or inaction.
Discipline can act as a balancing factor in our life. If we do what we do when we want to do it because we want to do it with no thought of self-control, we fall into the sin of gluttony or sloth. But if we can tame our passions with a little discipline, we can achieve greater heights of spiritual joy.
Strange as it may seem, there is more joy in discipline than in indulgence. One would think that giving in to temptation and enjoying the creature comforts would bring more satisfaction than denying ourselves or employing restraint, but this is not the case.
This week’s Gospel makes this abundantly clear when Jesus, in the middle of a 40-day fast, is tempted by the devil to give in to the moment and indulge his emotions. Yet, in the face of such temptation, Jesus reveals the truth that standing firm brings us closer to the will of God.
The word “disciple,” not coincidentally, has the same root as “discipline.” A disciple is one who follows the teachings of another person. When we discipline ourselves, we allow another’s teaching to guide and direct our paths. To be sure, disciplining ourselves is not easy. It takes, well, discipline.
So, when week two of Lent comes and we are tempted to abandon our resolve — eat the piece of cake or skip that daily Mass — let us be disciples of Jesus (Read More)
I am a great enthusiast for the Liturgy of the Hours. It holds a key, I believe, to the evangelization of the culture (if you want to know my arguments, I have included them in both books, the Little Oratory and the Way of Beauty).
Whatever our thoughts on the appropriateness of the vernacular in the Mass, I do think that the availability of the Liturgy of the Hours in the vernacular is one great gift of the Council. I am not a Latin scholar and generally, and certainly in my personal reading in order to pray the psalms properly I need to be able to understand the text as I read it. Reading or singing Latin while looking across the page at a translation on a regular daily basis does not work for me. The Mass is Latin does not present the same difficulty for me – the bulk of it is repeated and so with relatively little reference to additional texts I can participate.
I have often wondered if this question of language is why some traditionalists are not enthusiastic about the Liturgy of the Hours – tending to promote a piety that excludes it. Certainly, some I have met are reluctant to acknowledge any legitimate case for a value for the the vernacular in the liturgy for fear that it would undermine the argument for an exclusively Latin Mass. A piety focused on he Mass and the Rosary is wonderful of course, but one oriented to the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours is even better I suggest, and for me that means going to the English for the latter.
Ever since Pope Emeritus Benedict created the Anglican Ordinariates, I have felt that it has given the move for greater dignity and beauty in the liturgy in the English a huge boost. I wrote about the general principle of this when Pope Francis strengthened the mission of the Ordinariate in an article called Has Pope Francis Saved Western Culture?
It has taken time, quite reasonably for the approved and final versions for the texts to come forth. Now that the texts have been set for the Mass, I am hoping that we will see a final version of the Office soon in the US very soon. As a preview I use the version produced for England and Wales, which is in the Customary of Our Lady of (Read More)
I just attended a talk by the exorcist for diocese of San Jose dioceses Fr Gary Thomas. He is the subject of a book and a film The Rite starring Anthony Hopkins. (The talk was organized by a group called Catholics at Work.)
First, he was a great speaker. He described how almost by accident and after 20 years as a parish priest he found himself sent to Rome to learn how to celebrate the Rite of Exorcism. He was very clear in saying how, in his opinion, the rise in interest in New Age paganism in recent times has opened the door to adherents to the occult in greater numbers than before, which in turn opens the way to diabolical possession. He has always been inundated with requests (even before the publicity).
The fact that he described these things pretty much in the same straightforward, matter of fact way that one might describe what goes on in a marriage or baptism in a parish RCIA class only served to reinforce the truth of it all for me. If anything is to increase your faith in Christ and the Church and the power of good and the sacramental life, it is in listening to accounts of how they overpower the effects of possession by the devil and demons and the suffering of those poor people who are affected by them.
I wanted to pass on one little comment that he made almost in passing. I do not know where he stands liturgically in regard to the Mass – there was nothing in what he said that led me to believe that he celebrates the Latin Mass for example. However, he did explain that the Rite of Exorcism is only said in Latin. One reason is practical – there is no approved translation in English as yet. He gave another reason why he was so strongly in favor of the use of Latin in the Rite of Exorcism: ‘The Devil hates Latin, it is the universal language of the Church’. I asked him about this afterwards and he repeated it saying that his personal experiences as an exorcist who has performed many, many exorcisms have convinced him of this. He told me he had heard from exorcists who did exorcisms in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese (the only approved vernaculars for this Rite) that Latin was the most effective language.
I found an interview with (Read More)