Father Gerry Souza, right, Catholic chaplain at the Suffolk County House of Correction in Massachusetts, speaks at a Massachusetts Communities Action Network rally in September. (Photos courtesy of Massachusetts Communities Action Network)
Leaders from Brockton Interfaith Community hold boxes of signed petitions for minimum wage and earned sick time campaigns in 2014.
Iolanda Silva de Miranda believes the Gospel calls people to act when injustice is present.
Massachusetts Communities Action Network, a congregation-based community organization, came to her parish, St. Edith Stein in Brockton, to talk about the need to raise the state’s minimum wage, Silva de Miranda knew she had to step up.
After hearing how some people work two or three jobs to make ends meet and feed their families, she got involved.
“That’s what God calls us to,” the native of Cape Verde said. “Mary was about to have Jesus and all the doors were closed. Nobody wanted to let her in to have a baby. Sometimes we don’t see those (people). We close the door to the people. We close the door to the more needy and we exclude people.”
It has been a few years since Silva de Miranda, 52, joined the Brockton Interfaith Community, a member of MCAN. She now is co-president of BIC and serves on the MCAN board.
MCAN, an affiliate of the PICO National Network founded in 1972 by Jesuit Father John Baumann, spearheaded the statewide initiative to raise Massachusetts’ minimum wage. It took time to organize, educate, seek signatures on petitions and seek endorsements, like the one from the Massachusetts Catholic Conference representing the state’s bishops.
But Miranda de Silva said the work was worthwhile, especially when voters approved the minimum wage ballot measure in November 2014. By January Massachusetts will have the highest minimum wage in the country at $11 an hour.
For its minimum wage campaign and efforts to gain medical leave for low-income workers, MCAN received the Sister Margaret Cafferty Development of People Award from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development during the recent snowbound Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington.
MCAN, a recipient of CCHD national level grants, has worked for more than 30 years to better the lives of low-income people in Massachusetts through congregational organizing and education, said Lew Finfer, the organization’s director.
Early in its history MCAN focused on affordable housing, gang violence and improving conditions in schools. As the economy faltered, especially during the Great (Read More)
And why the success of Alcoholics Anonymous is based on the fact that it does!
In my last blog posting I described the recorded lecture series from Audible.com, which is also a book, called the Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal. I enjoyed it and much of what I heard I found interesting and, as I described in the last posting, very helpful in many ways.
Whatever her personal beliefs on spiritual matters are, she approaches this subject in these lectures as a pure scientist who observes what influences human behavior in order to help people have greater self-control. I have no reason to doubt the accuracy of her observations of general human behavior or her methods for controlling personal behavior based upon those observations. As I mentioned last time, much was consistent with traditional methods for controlling behavior. There were some insights that were new to me and when I tried them out myself they were very helpful in my self control.
However it was when she started to describe why we had these difficulties in the first place that I found myself less convinced.
If you remember, her assessment of the sort of problems in self control arose from an inner conflict. Part of us knows what is good for us in the long term but some people have a problem because they don’t have sufficient self control to live in accordance with what we know is good in the long term. This is because we are drawn to what will give us pleasure in the short term. So even thought the dieter knows he should eat healthily, he still can’t resist the cream cake when it is put in front of him.
All pretty reasonable so far.
But then she starts to give her reasons as to why she thinks that this conflict exists. She accounts for it in terms of evolution. She begins by assuming that in prehistoric man, all instincts would be in perfect harmony with each other, and with external circumstances. Because man had evolved to deal with his natural environment, she assumes, our emotions and instincts would work well for the sort of situation that prehistoric, precivilization man would have to deal with. When food is in short supply for example, it is important to eat as much as you can when it is available, she says. That instinct remains with us even though the situation has changed. Nowadays (Read More)
“Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” — Luke 5:10
Feb. 7, Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8
Psalm 138:1-5, 7-8
2) 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 or 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, 11
Gospel: Luke 5:1-11
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls his first disciples to follow him and join his mission to bring all people to God’s way of life.
His offer is convincing: Having the audacity to teach experienced fishermen how to fish, he demonstrates that if they follow his direction they’ll achieve a greater haul than they could attain themselves.
Jesus’ message is to all of us: Trust that by following his way you will draw people into his fold.
By contrast, a refrain we often hear in our social enterprises today, “Build it, and they will come,” is based on a belief in the pre-eminent power of our own will — through marketing.
However, any city planner will tell you: Build it in the wrong place and “they” won’t come, no matter how slick your marketing.
I learned how wise planning creates healthy, vibrant communities from my friend Joel, a longtime city planner in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Indeed, communities hire planners to direct development and growth to best serve the people’s needs. Build to enhance their lives and they will not only come but they’ll participate.
No wonder Joel, also a devoted Christian, understands how to respond to the call to build and develop Jesus’ community. He knows that Jesus’ instruction to “put out into deep water” means to go where God is most needed.
Joel and his wife chose for their faith community not a well-established congregation but a small church in a struggling low-income neighborhood where the people were open to God’s grace and just waiting to be “caught.”
Indeed, Jesus’ way brought in a large haul there.
Joel showed me a small neighborhood park that he and fellow church members developed, with the city’s blessing, on city property across the street from the church.
A local landscape architect volunteered to design the park. Then at-risk teens from the neighborhood joined with the church youth group to do the landscaping with plants and materials donated by local suppliers. Children from the nearby grade school created and installed small outdoor (Read More)
And how it can reinforce the Christian understanding of human behaviour.
I recently listened to a recorded lecture series which was intended to help people increase their self-control in order to have better lives. It was called the Willpower Instinct and was by Kelly McGonigal. It is available as a book or recorded lectures.
As I listened to this I had a number of thoughts. First, there is plenty here to help Christians to become more moral – I will describe these later on in this blog article.
Second, she approaches this subject as a pure scientist who observes the influences on human behavior in order to help people have great self-control. While I wouldn’t quarrel with her observations as a scientist or her methods for controlling personal behavior based upon those observations; I would say that her explanations as to why they work were, for the most part, unproven hypothesis. In fact, it sounded to me as though a Christian understanding of the human person could add even more to what she was offering. I will discuss how in a separate article. Here I want to consider how it struck me that her presentation might help Christians.
These recorded lectures were based upon talks and workshops that she offers that use modern psychological research to help people to gain self control. From the sound of it a lot of her clients are addicts and failed dieters. Through her workshops, she helps people to assert their will power over their own behavior. She defines will power as the capacity to do what part of you really wants to do when another part of you really doesn’t want to do it.
What it seems to boil down to in these lectures is trying to order our lives so that they are generally governed by our long term goals rather than short term responses. In order to do this we need to be able to do two things:
1. Do things that part of us doesn’t want to do.
2. Resist the desire to do things that part of does want to do.
So, for the addict the need is to learn how to resist that part of us that desires the pleasure of taking whatever substance or indulging in whatever behavior we are addicted to. For those who are procrastinating over doing something that we know gives long term benefits, it is about learning to overcome that (Read More)
By Tyler Orsburn
WASHINGTON — Today Catholic News Service launched its Catholic Home Missions Project, a project inspired by the canonization of St. Junipero Serra back in September.
More than 20,000 people attended the Sept. 23, 2015, canonization Mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the Spanish Franciscan at the Basilica of National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. The Franciscan Monastery in Washington had a Mass of celebration the following day.
A painting of St. Junipero Serra hangs in the Santa Barbara Mission Archives-Library in Santa Barbara, Calif. (CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec)
St. Junipero Serra is credited with founding nine missions in California, and one in Baja California, Mexico. Friars under his tutelage founded many others across California, in a territory that was then part of New Spain.
Steven Hackel, a history professor at the University of California at Riverside who has written a biography, “Junipero Serra: California’s Founding Father,” told CNS he thinks St. Junipero Serra as one of the little-heralded “‘founding fathers’ of the United States,” because he helped settle areas beyond the East Coast and was a contemporary of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Last spring we did a series of video stories on the life and ministry of St. Junipero and his evangelizing mission, and we included the views of some critical of the friar over his treatment of native peoples and their culture.
But what is a modern-day mission in the United States? Is it still just about evangelizing and baptizing? And how does the mission experience differ from St. Junipero Serra’s day in 1769 when he walked from Baja California, Mexico, and into what would become San Diego?
One difference is population density. No longer is west of the Mississippi River considered the Wild, Wild West. Another difference is cultural diversity. Native Americans no longer populate the landscape as they did in the 18th century. What would become the United States is now a mosaic of cultures that represents all continents.
Now, 247 years after St. Junipero Serra’s first mission was established in Southern California, the Catholic Church is firmly interwoven into the fabric of the land of the free and home of the brave.
Starting today — with stories, videos and photos — our reports on Catholic Home Missions take us to North Carolina, Texas, Idaho and Puerto Rico — four of the U.S. Catholic churches mission dioceses. The (Read More)
A girl receives Communion during a children’s first Communion Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 30. The Mass included about 400 extremely poor children, some living on the streets. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)
By Simone Orendain
CEBU, Philippines — Row after row of fidgety children, mostly flanked by their parents, filled the track infield of the Cebu Sports Complex. A few children were eating snacks, some were walking quickly with their parents, perhaps to find the nearest bathroom. Others sang hymns, and many chattered away.
The children’s first Communion Mass at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress included about 400 extremely poor children, some of whom live on the streets.
I don’t know what I was thinking when I expected children at the Mass to quiet down and take on some sort of serene quality once they received the Eucharist.
They received Communion alongside their parents, and many did all the kid things that they had been doing beforehand. One girl bypassed the kneeler and the eucharistic minister altogether and was led back into place. Another boy darted back to his row, chomping on the host.
But as I looked around this low-level chaos, I noticed one tiny girl with her hands together in prayer, kneeling on the dry brown grass in her white tights. She was praying intently. Then she crossed herself and sat back on her plastic chair with a very serious, solemn expression on her face.
“They are from Tacloban,” said Jocelyn Ala, a church lector at St. Joseph Parish, sitting behind her. “They survived the typhoon.”
First communicants carry flowers during a children’s first Communion Mass at the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 30. (CNS photo/Katarzyna Artymiak)
Ala, her sister and one other parishioner were taking care of the 10 children who all came to Cebu without their parents. She said the parents could not afford to make the trip. The children traveled to Cebu with the help of Dilaab, a Catholic foundation that seeks to catechize children, especially those from poor backgrounds.
Ala said all of these children’s families were intact after the Typhoon Haiyan ravaged its way across the central Philippines, killing or leaving missing some 7,300 people, mostly from the Tacloban area.
The little girl, 8-year old Joelle Marie Vito, told me she was “happy” after taking Communion because she had “Jesus with me.”
I pointed at her heart and I said, “Where, here?”
So then I asked what she liked (Read More)
The Catholic Artists’ Society series of talks entitled, the Art of the Beautiful continues this Saturday in New York Saturday with a presentation from architectural historian, Denis McNamara entitled, Incarnation and Transfiguration: Rediscovering the Iconic Nature of Church Buildings.
Anyone who has attended one of Denis’s lectures or seen the series of talks produced by the Liturgical Institute in Mundelein, where he works, will know that this promises to be a stimulating and enjoyable evening. As usual with the CAS events the talk is followed by a reception and Compline.
Just in case you can’t make out the detail on the poster above, the talk is at the Catholic Center, NYU, 238 Thompson Street. (Read More)
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, the Catholic peace organization, has been named a Public Peace Prize laureate.
The Washington resident learned of the honor last week from the Quebec-based organization sponsoring the honor.
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International. (CNS photo/Nancy Phelan Wiechec)
“For me the most delightful part of it is that it acknowledges the fact that there are so many peacemakers all over the world who don’t get a lot of notice who are nevertheless doing worthwhile work,” she told Catholic News Service.
Dennis was named an awardee in the Global Peace and Reconciliation Internationally Reputed Peacemaker category. She shared the prize in that category with the Rev. Michael Lapsley, an Anglican priest from South Africa, who founded the Institute for Healing of Memories to help in reconciliation efforts in the former apartheid-ridden country.
Public Peace Prize laureates are chosen by the public. Individuals can nominate people for consideration and winners are chosen based on letters of support that arrive for each nominee.
“I’m really touched by it especially because of the way that they gather the comments of people from all over the world,” Dennis said.
The Public Peace Prize fosters greater recognition of the work of peacemakers and peace initiatives locally, nationally and internationally. It evolved from the online 24 Hours for Peace in 2013-2014 to celebrate Jan. 1, the World Day of Peace.
Among its partners are L’Arche International, Global Network of Religions for Children, Faith and Light International, International Youth Advocacy Foundation, Pax Christi International, Organization for Peace and Social Cohesion in Ivory Coast and several Quebec-based organizations.
“The goal of it is to be very grass roots, very engaging with people all over the world,” Dennis said. “Not only are there a lot of people doing peacemaking, but we need a lot more.”
Other 2016 recipients include:
— Suzanne Loiselle, a peace and justice activist in Quebec. She is being awarded in the Justice and Solidarity Activist and Peacemaker category.
— Antoinette Layoun of Quebec province, a former child soldier in Lebanon who today teaches people how to achieve inner peace through constructive, loving lives. She is being awarded in the Personal Peacemaker and Social Peacemaker category.
— Narine Dat Sookram, a native of Guyana now living in Canada, has demonstrated how immigrants can provide rich social and economic contributions to society. He is being (Read More)
“If I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” — 1 Corinthians 13:2
Jan. 31, Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Psalm 71:1-6, 15-17
2) 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 or 1 Corinthians 13:4-13
Gospel: Luke 4:21-30
By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service
A day after our family celebrated my husband Tommy’s birthday, he sat looking back through a collection of photos that we reprinted as a retrospective of his life to date. He enjoyed remembering again the highlights we tried to capture in just 30 pictures.
The birthday party was small — just our immediate family sharing brunch and the memories the photographs triggered: him as a child, our wedding, his school years, smiling with his Army buddies in Vietnam, good times with friends and posing with each of the children during special moments of their own lives. The most recent is of him hugging his grandson.
There also was a photo of the newspaper office where he began his career. It recalled his life’s work, mostly as an editorial writer, dedicated to advocating human rights and dignity, justice, common purpose for the common good and holding community leaders accountable. Noble work, but he suffered plenty of slings and arrows for his efforts in the public square.
Tommy would never call himself a prophet, but I’m sure he’s taken some comfort over the years from the message in this week’s Scripture where God tells the prophet Jeremiah that although he will suffer for speaking the truth, God will carry him through.
Looking at our family photos and listening to our children’s joyful recollections of life with their dad, I realized just how it was that God strengthened him to fulfill his fundamental vocation.
The key is in today’s second reading, in which Paul teaches the Corinthians that truth and goodness are manifested through love. Love bears, believes, hopes and endures all things, he says.
Tommy’s moral truths are based on his deep Catholic faith. He handed those ideals on to his children who witnessed the personal costs of his public stance. But they accepted his high standards because they also experienced him living those values in how he loved them and me and others — friends and strangers alike.
On his (Read More)
A woman prays while waiting to take Communion during a Jan. 27 fellowship night between 51st International Eucharistic Congress delegates and parishioners of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart in Cebu, Philippines. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)
CEBU, Philippines — Throughout the week at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress, speakers have expressed how much Filipinos’ deep faith has struck them.
Cabbies play radio stations broadcasting religious messages: Bible verses, catechism and prayers. If they’re not listening to it, they’re talking about it.
Today a cabdriver kissed the cross on a rosary hanging from his rearview mirror and prayed the 3 p.m. prayer being broadcast. The other day, a different cab driver asked me what the congress what about and whether he could attend some sessions.
Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron chats with Archbishop Jose S. Palma of Cebu, Philippines, right, as Bishop Mylo Hubert Vergary of Pasig, Philippines, looks on before a Jan. 26 news conference at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)
Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron said Filipinos — whose country is 82 percent Catholic — are now doing what the Irish did when they spread Christianity across Europe a few centuries after it started. And, he added, having them in the U.S. is helping keep the church alive.
But Filipinos don’t go overseas with the intention of being missionaries. They usually end up simply practicing their faith when they arrive in countries where they find better-paying jobs than what they could find at home.
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, said it was “a concern” that, like in his country, people have to go abroad to find decent employment.
“Although it’s a difficulty, it’s a grace of God,” he said. “I wish to tell Filipinos that … I want to encourage them as migrants to go to other parts of the world … especially with the view of giving good news to other people.”
That “good news” was very much present to Marianne Servaas, a Belgian who lived in the Philippines for seven years, working with an evangelical student organization.
As she spoke to the packed pavilion of delegates from 71 countries about her conversion to Catholicism while living here, she said, “The way Christ is present in you (Filipinos) is almost touchable. You opened my heart to receive joy in life itself, and more so your joy is related to thankfulness and humility. Please do not lose it … in your (Read More)
Why I think that those who criticize Christian artistic tradition for always presenting Christ as a northern European are wrong.
I have read a number of articles over the years that criticize the traditional representation of Christ as being historically inaccurate and exemplifying historical northern European cultural bias. Twice I recently I have heard this discussion sparked off by the discovery of human remains in the Holy Land which date from the time of Christ, These have allowed scientists to create an image of the person from whom the bones came. The figure that is recreated is, surprise, surprise olive-skinned and semitic and so this indicates, so the logic goes, what Christ would probably have looked like. This being so, it demonstrates, so it is claimed, how narrow minded Europeans are, and how culturally narrow Christianity is for portraying Christ as a white, Caucasian. In short, it would be said, Christ didn’t look like this painting by Sir Anthony Van Dyck, as the Church has always maintained: He looked instead more like this scientific reconstruction of a man developed from a skull discovered in the Holy Land..(according the this article, here): Here is my reaction: first, if ever there was a concocted news piece this was one – does it really need the discovery of a skull as evidence for the suggestion to be made that a Jew living in the Middle East about 2,000 years ago might have been dark skinned and semitic? I think nearly every Christian today would at least ackowledge the possibility and it wouldn’t need the discovery of a skull to convince them. Second, I think that the argument reveals a narrow understanding of the Christian artistic tradition and a lack of appreciation of just how universally inclusive its. I will acknowledge that there is a tradition of artists who present Christ as their own race, or the race of those for whom the painting is intended. The idea is to encourage people to believe that Christ is a person with whom they can relate to at a personal level. This is natural. So Sir Anthony Van Dyck, who was northern European and who spent most of his professional life working in England might very well naturally paint Christ as a northern European. But why shouldn’t he? I feel that it is as reasonable for a European to paint Christ as (Read More)
TUCSON, Ariz. — Go outside on a clear night and count the stars.
Chances are you’re not seeing as many glittering points of light as you did as a child unless you live in a pretty secluded area.
John Barentine of the International Dark-Sky Association addresses the Vatican Observatory’s Faith and Astronomy Workshop. (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)
Humans, through all their progress, have lit up the planet so much that we’ve forgotten how magnificent a truly dark night sky can be. It’s only changed since 1879, when Thomas Alva Edison invented the light bulb.
The International Dark-Sky Association is working to alert and educate people, primarily in the United States and Europe, about the loss of the legacy of dark skies.
John Barentine, program manager at the Tucson, Arizona-based association, spent an hour at this month’s Faith and Astronomy Workshop sponsored by the Vatican Observatory, discussing how the natural night sky is under threat from the drive to light up the night in our communities.
By 2025 half of all U.S. residents will be living in perpetual twilight at night if current trends of electrification continue, Barentine said.
A slide produced by the International Dark-Sky Association depicts the advance of lighting across the U.S. since 1950 (CNS photo/Dennis Sadowski)
To illustrate his point, he showed before and after images of cities as seen from Earth orbit that are converting existing
street and security lights to energy-saving LED lighting. The photos showed how the blue-rich white LEDs obscure the landscape below. The International Dark-Sky Association fears that because LEDs use far less energy, cities will resist shielding the new lights to prevent photons from being scattered upward into the atmosphere.
Association staff members have worked with cities to show how LED lighting also can be a detriment to safety. The glare produced by unshielded lights actually limits a person’s ability to see what lurks in shadows, Barentine said as he produced a photo illustrating his argument.
The International Dark-Sky Association has developed model lighting legislation for cities, but has met with limited success. In places such as Tucson, where astronomy is a significant industry, standards limiting light pollution have been enacted.
However, Barentine noted, astronomers at Kitt Peak National Observatory 50 miles southwest of the city are more concerned that the glow of lights from ever-sprawling Phoenix 150 miles away now pose a greater threat to observing.
A professional astronomer, Barentine also pointed to studies (Read More)
By Simone Orendain
CEBU, Philippines — Concepcion Martinez Narvios said when God calls you to do something, answer “yes.”
Concepcion Martinez Narvios talks at her parish about helping to rehabilitate prostitutes. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)
When, more than 30 years ago, two Philippine-based Oblate Sisters asked Narvios to help find new vocations do the “hard work” of helping girls who were sex workers, she said yes. It wasn’t easy finding recruits then and it still isn’t easy now, said Narvios, 72.
The Oblate sister who mentored Narvios said the only thing that they could do for the girls was “just give them love. Love and care, because they never felt that from their parents. They never knew their parents. They were in the streets.”
“And it is true. Because the Lord is love,” she told a few dozen people visiting Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Parish during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress.
Narvios didn’t know until recently that she would be giving a quick talk on her work for the church.
“I was supposed to read something I prepared, but I didn’t. I said I wouldn’t cry, but I did,” she told me after her talk, as we walked to a wooden pew in the mostly empty church for a quick chat.
It was understandable that Narvios cried. Before the crowd that was made up of about one-third Spanish and Latin American delegates, she described in her native Spanish how difficult it was for her to eat and to sleep in a place where young girls, not yet in their teens, were being rehabilitated after prostitution. She said many of the girls had run away because they felt they had to earn a living, and selling their bodies made it “so easy for them.”
Narvios said that, over time, love would sustain the girls who stayed. They would leave their sordid lives behind, get an education and gain employment in professions such as social work.
Doing the tough work of trying to find new recruits for vocations, Narvios said she has had to follow three rules: never question the Lord, who “has a plan for us”; always see Christ in everyone whom you call brother and sister; and always use your talents out in the streets to help the needy.
When we were about to part ways, Narvios said she would probably contact me when she travels to Manila to meet with Oblates there about finding new nuns.
Then she said (Read More)
By Barb Fraze
Filipinos receive Communion during a Mass at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress opening ceremony in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 24. (CNS photo/Francis R. Malasig, EPA)
By Simone Orendain
CEBU, Philippines — At a gathering of thousands of Catholics from different corners of the world, inevitably you will hear comparisons to the Gospel passage describing Jesus taking five loaves of bread and a couple of fish and multiplying them to feed the group.
It happened when Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron spoke today before a packed pavilion of more than 12,000 delegates at the 51st International Eucharistic Congress. He said Jesus wanted to give food to the mass of people and took what his disciples were able to scrounge around for.
“Jesus, offering them to the Father, multiplies them under the feeding of the mighty crowd,” he said. “There’s the liturgy of the Eucharist. Jesus, up and down the centuries to the present day, feeds his hungry people.”
The bishop said it was an act of giving to the Lord what little one has, and it returns back to the giver manifold. It’s the giver who benefits because, as Bishop Barron said, “God doesn’t need anything.”
When 12 baskets of food were leftover, he said, it was symbolic of gathering in the 12 tribes under Israel.
“Look around this room,” Bishop Barron remarked. “You’ve got a bishop from Los Angeles, California, speaking to people in Cebu, Philippines, from all over the world. What are we all here for? To worship the God of Israel. How strange and how wonderful that the prophetic identity of ancient Israel has come true and we can see it in front of us now. There’s the 12 baskets, the 12 tribes. It’s true isn’t it? It’s true. … That’s the power of the Eucharist.”
Cardinal Charles Bo of Yangon, Myanmar, gives Communion during the 51st International Eucharistic Congress opening Mass in Cebu, Philippines, Jan. 24. (CNS photo/Francis R. Malasig, EPA)
Days before, a Japanese delegate who speaks English said her companion was deeply moved by the opening Mass of the congress.
Sister Yasuko Taguchi of Sapporo said her companion “was in tears, and she said this Mass was just like the Mass in the Bible, John (chapter) 6, when 5,000 people were fed.”
The opening Mass had a crowd of about 250,000, and Communion stations were set up all along the section dividers. I noticed a snapping sound, then I saw some eucharistic ministers were (Read More)
One of the most familiar images in Catholic churches today is the Divine Mercy image.
Most will be aware of the story of the vision of Sr Faustina and how she instructed an artist in Lithuania to paint it. What I did not know is that the images that we see most commonly in churches, and which are usually reproductions, are not reproductions of the original, but of painted copies of the original.
You can see this in the trailer for the documentary here.
I present this because I know that this image has a central place in popular piety of Catholics. But I am going to have to come clean here and give my personal opinion. I do not like the Divine Mercy image – I find it a poorly rendered naturalistic image and very sentimental and not conducive to prayer at all. Although now that I look at it, the original, shown above, does look less sentimental than the one I am used to seeing, which always looks something like this:
I did hear a story that Sr Faustina was never happy with the image either and in the end reluctantly agreed to its use assuming that no artist could ever reproduce satisfactorily what she had seen. Then years later, so the story went as related to me, she saw an image of Christ painted in the iconographic style and said, ‘That’s what he looked like!’ I can’t corroborate this, but I find it plausible.
Putting my personal preferences about the style aside, there is another very interesting point about this image, I am happy to accept that there is at least a basic likeness between the image and what Sr Faustina actually saw in her vision and described to the artist. The Divine Mercy image of Christ corresponds to the classic likeness that we are used to seeing in so many paintings from the tradition. He has a beard and long hair, for example. This corresponds also to other images not created by human hand, such as the Turin Shroud and the Mandylion.
Is this what Christ looked like historically? The skeptic would say that the Divine Mercy image looks as it does because Sr Faustina’s vision came from her imagination, which had been influenced by images that she had already seen; and it was not a vision direct from God at all. The criticisms from the politically correct who are interested (Read More)
By Simone Orendain
CEBU, Philippines — Msgr. Joseph Tan, spokesman for the International Eucharistic Congress, might be getting his wish: Delegates are starting to experience “classic Filipino hospitality.”
Msgr. Alfred Cedric Culmer and youth minister Lemareson Rolle, both of the Nassau Archdiocese in the Bahamas attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. (CNS/Simone Orendain)
Msgr. Alfred Cedric Culmer of the Bahamas’ Nassau Archdiocese had been in town for the congress less than three days, but he said he was so comfortable, “It feels like it’s been a month.”
Msgr. Culmer was struck by the Filipinos’ brand of Catholicism.
“They are deeply religious. You see it in their faith, their simplicity, their generosity,” he said. “It’s like the church of 2,000 years ago, like reading the Acts of the Apostles,” about how the church started. Filipinos say, “‘We’re very happy you’re here,’” he said.
Msgr. Culmer said that after Typhoon Haiyan destroyed much of the region and left more than 7,300 dead or missing, there was talk of moving the eucharistic congress somewhere else. But he says Pope Francis insisted it remain here.
“He said, ‘Absolutely not,’” he said. “This is a time for being church, for being in solidarity, which is what the Eucharist is all about.”
Australian delegate Alan Bowyer was attending a eucharistic congress for the first time. He’s the director of a small Catholic education system and was looking to deepen his awareness of “the Eucharist in mission and evangelization.” It was a phrase that has been coming up regularly during this congress.
Australian delegate Alan Bowyer talks with a group of catechists from the Philippines. At the 51st International Eucharistic Congress in Cebu, Philippines. (CNS photo/Simone Orendain)
Bowyer told CNS his school is one of several widely scattered across the Wagga Wagga Diocese in New South Wales, which he said is geographically the same size as France. “In this day and age, we are really in need of a world view.”
Plus, he said being in a country where just one-third of the population is Catholic is further isolating. He remarked about the contrast to the Philippines, which is 82 percent Catholic.
“It’s quite extraordinary, their level of devotion,” said Bowyer, calling it an “overt devotion to Catholicism.”
He said he noticed this not so much in the clergy but in ordinary people.
“They’re welcoming with extraordinary hospitality. I think that could be an expression of the church here,” he added.
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“Now you are Christ’s body, and individually parts of it.” — 1 Corinthians 12:27
Jan. 24, Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
Cycle C. Readings:
1) Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10
Psalm: 19:8-10, 15
2) 1 Corinthians 12:12-30 or 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27
Gospel: Luke 1:1-4; 4:14-21
By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service
In Luke’s Gospel for this weekend, Jesus rises in the temple to read from the Book of Isaiah, where he proclaims that the poor will have glad tidings brought to them, a year of liberty would be proclaimed to the captives, recovery of sight given to the blind, and the oppressed would be set free.
Jesus sits again, and with all eyes in the synagogue intently on him, says, “Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.”
We have the specifics outlined in the rest of the Gospels, as we see Jesus walking about performing wonders, healing the ill and proclaiming the coming of the kingdom of God, which he embodies, to rich and poor alike.
But building the kingdom doesn’t stop there. Paul, speaking to the Corinthians, addresses many of the dimensions of Jesus enfleshed in his people, his body. Paul emphasizes that all of us do not engage in the same manifestations of the Spirit: “The body is not a single part, but many,” he says.
That truth remains to this day. When I see Jesus in those I encounter, I see various manifestations of the body.
The young woman behind the deli counter at the grocery store has a smile and a presence that clearly identifies her as a believer. She confirms it when I ask her if she is a Christian and what church she attends.
My two colleagues from the Catholic press with whom I recently toured the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington are proclaimers of the Gospel. I know them both by their functions within the body and by their behavior across the years. They are servant leaders within the body of Christ.
My wife, whose compassion extends beyond her family and colleagues to generously embrace the immigrants and refugees she teaches, shows the healing power of love that endures. Would any of these alone show forth all the complexity of Christ’s body? It’s not necessary. It takes all of (Read More)
I have just received early notice of the premier of a new major work by composer Frank La Rocca in Dallas, Texas on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 8:00pm in Dallas, Texas. It is an oratoria called A Rose in Winter – the life of Saint Rita of Cascia. The original libretto is by Matthew Lickona.
The 90-minute work for chorus, orchestra, and soloists was commissioned by Saint Rita Catholic Church (URL) in Dallas, and is the brainchild of Alfred Calabrese, director of music at the parish.
The church is organizing a three-day conference entitled “High Above the Stars: Sainthood, Beauty, and Catholic Artistic Expression.” which will take place on three days prior to the performance (May 19 – 21. The conference is designed for musicians, artists, poets, theologians, and Catholic laity, and deals with the creation of sacred music and art, the promotion of beauty, and the quest for sainthood in everyday life. Masterclasses will be held for conductors, composers, and poets.
For more details, you can read a blog post on the Corpus Christi Watershed website written by Dr Calabrese, through the link here. We are told that a website with more details about the event and on how to register for the conference is coming soon. As soon as I have more information I will pass it on to you.
I would like to draw your attention to the latest edition of the Antiphon Journal. As usual, all the writers are worth reading, and their names will be recognizable to NLM readers. I mention it particularly this time because of the subject discussed in one article, by Fr Chris Renz, called Liturgical Piety, Awe, and Beauty in a New Liturgical Movement”.
I was excited to get a preview of what Fr Renz has written. In it he discusses the importance of developing an authentic liturgical piety to the evangelization of the culture. He is thinking here of the creation of a Catholic culture in the widest sense of the word, what he calls an ‘everyday way of being Catholic’. He explains very well, I think just how powerful an influence the liturgy is on the way we are as people and how this is reflected in what we do. This is a topic close to my heart.
Fr Renz is the Academic Dean and Assistant Professor of Religion and the Arts and Science of Theology at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology (the DSPT) at UC Berkeley.
Here are some examples of Paschal candles created by Gina Switzer of Columbus, Ohio. Her parish is St Patrick’s in Columbus (the Dominican church in the city).
I give you this information for two reasons. First is that if your parish needs a paschal candle you might consider commissioning one from Gina. Her website ginaswitzer.com has details of how to order and the designs that she has done in the past. So far she has six main themes and churches ask for modifications that make it appropriate to their parish. On the Paschal page of the website there is a downloadable catalog that has details. Smaller candels also make good gifts, named candles for baptisms for example.
. I asked Gina about her methods and she told me the following: ‘We design and decorate liturgical grade, 51% beeswax Paschal candles. We have designed images that express Christological themes and so they are appropriate for their liturgical use. I create the artwork which is then reproduced onto a thin gelatin film. Metal leaf is applied by hand along with some hand painting directly onto the candle before the gelatin is applied, also by hand, to the candle. Because each candle is custom made to order, our basic designs can be tweaked to fit a particular parishes needs, for example the Dominican cross for a Dominican parish, a celtic border for St. Patrick parish, and so on.’
The other reason for writing about this is that I hope it might inspire other artists to do what Gina is doing. I am regularly asked by priests where they can get hold of Paschal candles as they find the designs in the usual catalogs unsatisfactory. There seems to be a dearth in the market .