CNA STAFF, Jul 19, 2009 (CNA) - On Thursday, the Church will celebrate the feast day of St. Bridget of Sweden. Bridget received visions of Christ’s suffering many times throughout her life and went on to found the order of the Most Holy Savior.
Daughter of Birger Persson, the governor and provincial judge of Uppland, and of Ingeborg Bengtsdotter, Bridget was born in Sweden in 1303. From the time she was a child, she was greatly devoted to the passion of Jesus.
When she was only ten, it is recorded that she had a vision on Jesus on the cross and heard him say, “Look at me, my daughter."
"Who has treated you like this?" cried little Bridget.
Jesus answered, "They who despise me and refuse my love for them.” From that moment on, Bridget tried to stop people from offending Jesus.
When she was 14, she married 18-year old Ulf. Like Bridget, Ulf had set his heart on serving God. They had eight children, of whom one was St. Catherine of Sweden. Bridget and Ulf served the Swedish court. Bridget was the queen's personal maid. Bridget tried to help King Magnus and Queen Blanche lead better lives, however for the most part, they did not listen to her.
All her life, Bridget had marvelous visions and received special messages from God. In obedience to them, she visited many rulers and important people in the Church. She explained humbly what God expected of them.
After her husband died, Bridget put away her rich clothes and lived as a poor nun. Later, in 1346, she began the order of the Most Holy Savior, also known as Bridgettines. She still kept up her own busy life, traveling about doing good everywhere she went. And through all this activity, Jesus continued to reveal many secrets to her. These she received without the least bit of pride.
Shortly before she died, the saint went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. At the shrines there, she had visions of what Jesus had said and done in each place.
All St. Bridget's revelations on the sufferings of Jesus were published after her death.
St. Bridget died in Rome on July 23, 1373. She was proclaimed a saint by Pope Boniface IX in 1391.
Fort Wayne, Ind., Jul 19, 2009 (CNA) - Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend John M. D’Arcy has issued new norms on the placement of the tabernacle in churches, aiming to end controversy on the topic.
The bishop described the new norms and the reasons for them in a July 19 letter posted on the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend website and addressed to priests, deacons, religious, and all the faithful.
“The presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament is at the center of our faith and of the devotional life of our Catholic people,” his letter began.
Saying tabernacle placement has become “a source of controversy,” he said the Eucharist should always be “a means of unity and communion, and never of division.”
“The place of the tabernacle in our church should reflect our faith in the real presence of Christ, and should always be guided by church documents,” Bishop D’Arcy continued.
In his experience, people have always desired the tabernacle to be “central and visible” and find it “confusing” when it is not.
The norms state that the tabernacle should be “prominently located in the sanctuary of the church, along the central axis behind the main altar ... at an elevated, open location in the apse area, or in another central place in the sanctuary that is equally conspicuous.”
If a high altar with a tabernacle remains in place, the norms add, “it is appropriate to continue using this noble structure for the reservation of the Blessed Sacrament.”
The norms are to applied to all future construction or restoration projects, and in churches where the tabernacle is not centrally located a consultation should begin to determine how to do so.
Bishop D’Arcy explained that he asked norms for the placement of the tabernacle to be prepared by his diocese’s Office of Worship. The norms were refined and improved by the Presbyteral Council, the Liturgical Commission, and the Environment and Arts Committee.
“I urge all priests to follow these norms carefully and completely, and most importantly — to foster devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.” his letter concluded.
Bishop D’Arcy promulgated the norms on June 14, the Feast of Corpus Christi, and they will become effective on August 4 2009, the Feast of St. John Mary Vianney, patron saint of priests.
London, England, Jul 19, 2009 (CNA) - Correction quickly came to an official with a British diocesan-funded marriage organization who claimed that married couples are no better than other family forms at raising children. His critics say the research is clear that a marriage of a man and a woman is the “gold standard” in childrearing.
Terry Prendergast, chief executive of Marriage Care, recently told the homosexual Catholic group Quest that children do best “in a family where the adult relationship is steady, stable and loving.”
“Note that I stress adult, not married, since there is no evidence that suggests that children do best with heterosexual couples,” he said.
His remarks claim that families “other than the married man, woman and added child” find themselves “discriminated against and denigrated.” Those in non-traditional families “attempt to live out good, Catholic lives whilst being judged and bracketed by those in authority, or those who appear to have reached the Kingdom already.”
Prendergast also claims that the government appears “much more pastoral and compassionate” by making many benefits available for “different family forms.” In his view, this suggests that “the state is even more concerned for families than Church [sic].”
According to the Catholic Herald, he also criticized ideas of the Holy Family which he said are rooted in “evangelical, right-wing religious thought.” He claimed abuse is “rampant” in the traditional family, citing the case of Joseph Fritzl, who repeatedly raped his daughter and kept her as prisoner over a long period of years.
A spokesman for the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales rejected Prendergast’s comments, saying they are “clearly not a reflection of the Church’s teaching, nor those of the Bishops’ Conference.”
“The Church's vision is that the crucially important quality of stability in family life needs gender complementarity and role modeling too,” he told the Catholic Herald.
Sociologist Patricia Morgan was also critical.
“I can't believe that someone has come out with this,” she told the Catholic Herald. "We've had 20 years of very well-controlled statistics and all the time we get this repeated conclusion: children do best educationally, behaviorally and in every other sphere when raised by two original biological, married parents.
"Problems tend to be two or three times as likely with single parents, and with step-parents it varies on whether they are married,” she continued. “Marriage is the gold standard.”
She added that child abuse is “massively higher” with lone parents and stepfathers.
The Centre for Social Justice this week released its report “Every Family Matters” on the family in Britain. It claimed that family break-up cost taxpayers billions of pounds every year and reported findings which showed that children brought up by married parents are uniformly more successful.
The report says British children in a “lone parent” family are 75 percent more likely to fail at school, 70 percent more likely to become a drug addict, 50 percent more likely to develop an alcohol problem and 35 percent more likely to experience unemployment and welfare dependency.
Further, 70 percent of young criminal offenders come from single parent families.
Such findings are replicated in the United States as well. An American College of Pediatricians article on marriage and the family explains:
“The positive impact of a married mother and father on a child’s development has been scientifically verified across all measures of well-being. The ideal family in which to rear and nurture children consists of two biological parents in a harmonious marriage.”
Turin, Italy, Jul 19, 2009 (CNA) - In the first public outing of his current vacation in Les Combes, Pope Benedict XVI told 9,000 faithful gathered in Italy’s Romano Canavese village, the birthplace of Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, not to be discouraged by the current economic crisis or to forget those people who are worse off.
Before the recitation of the Angelus prayer, his first public appearance since a minor accident broke his wrist on Thursday night, the Pope thanked the doctors of Aosta.
“I have been treated with skill and courtesy,” he said.
“Dear friends, do not be discouraged!” Pope Benedict continued, “Providence always helps those who do good and are committed to justice. It helps those who think not only of themselves, but also of those who are worse off.”
“The fundamental values of family and respect for human life, attention to social justice, the ability to tackle hard work and sacrifice, strong bonds with the Christian faith through parish life, especially participation in the Holy Mass, have been down through the centuries your true strength,” he said. “These same values will allow the generation of today to build their own future with hope, giving rise to a truly united and fraternal society, where all the different aspects, the institutions and the economy, are imbued with the Gospel.”
“In a special way, I speak to young people, of whom we must think in an educational perspective,” the Holy Father pointed out. “Here, as everywhere, we must ask ourselves what kind of culture are they being proposed, what kind of examples and models are proposed to them, and we must assess whether they are likely to encourage them to follow the ways of the Gospel and of real freedom. Young people are resourceful, but they must be helped to overcome the temptation of easy and deceptive paths so as to find the path of true and full life.”
“Dear brothers and sisters, in this land of yours, full of Christian traditions and human values, many male and female vocations have flourished, in particular for the Salesian Family, like that of Cardinal Bertone, who was born in your own parish, was baptized in this church and grew up in a family where he assimilated a genuine faith,” the Pontiff concluded. “Your diocese owes much to the sons and daughters of Don Bosco, for their fruitful and widespread presence throughout the area since the years when their Holy Founder was still alive. This is further encouragement for your diocesan community to increasingly engage in the context of education and vocation.”
Pope Benedict’s day will continue with lunch at the birthplace of Cardinal Bertone. In the afternoon, he will return to Les Combes. On Friday, he will recite Vespers in the cathedral of Aosta and on Sunday, the Angelus in Les Combes.