CNA STAFF, Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) - On February 14, the Catholic Church commemorates St. Valentine, the patron saint of couples and young people in love.
One tradition in the church is that St. Valentine was a Roman priest during the reign of Emperor Claudius II. The emperor realized that unmarried men made better soldiers so he forbade young men to become engaged or to marry. St. Valentine, realizing the injustice of this law, helped young couples to marry in secret.
He was eventually betrayed, and the emperor had him arrested and thrown in jail. He supposedly converted his jailer while he was incarcerated. Ultimately, he was martyred by beheading.
Another story of St. Valentine says that he was arrested for helping Christians escape the harsh and brutal conditions of Roman jails. He is purported to have fallen in love with a young woman, perhaps the jailer’s daughter. Before he died, he wrote her one last letter, which he signed, “from your Valentine.”
Thus, the first “valentine” was created.
Whatever his story, many couples remember St. Valentine on February 14 by expressing their love for one another with gifts of flowers, candies or jewelry.
St. Valentine is the patron saint of beekeepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, travelers and young people.
Olathe, Kan., Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) - Think of the church as a hospital, a Franciscan University professor told some 1,000 Christians at a conference on the evils of pornography. “We are all here not as doctors and nurses, but as patients,” said Catholic theologian Scott Hahn. “We all need intensive care.”
Hahn and his wife, Kimberly, were the keynote Catholic speakers at the annual twin Men of Valor/Women of Virtue conferences in Olathe, Kan. Co-sponsored by the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, the conferences are also mainly sponsored by the inter-denomination, anti-pornography National Coalition for the Protection of Children and Families, founded by Jerry Kirk, Kimberly Hahn’s father.
As it has for years, the conferences drew more than 1,000 Christians from both sides of the state line to learn more about raising faith-filled children in a culture saturated by sexual promiscuity. The Men of Valor Conference was held Jan. 30 at Mid-America Nazarene University, while a separate women’s conference the same day was held at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, both in Olathe, Kan.
Participants in both conferences gathered together on the college campus on the evening of Jan. 29 to hear all four keynoters — Mark Laaser of Faithful and True Ministries, and Dannah Gresh of Pure Freedom as well as the Hahns.
In his keynote, Scott Hahn stressed the “Theology of the Body” teachings of the late Pope John Paul II that sex reserved for a monogamous, sacramental marriage between one man and one woman is God’s greatest gift to humanity.
“When we enter into a marriage covenant, your body is saying (to a spouse), ‘I’m yours, and only yours,’ so that God’s life-giving love can be expressed through us,” Hahn said.
“It’s not about sacrifice,” he said. “It’s about sanctification.”
Citing the Bible that says that man and woman become one flesh, Hahn said that “the one flesh we become is so real, that nine months later, we have to give it a name.”
Hahn said that the commandments are not the product of a controlling God, but of a loving God.
“The commandments are a description of who we are and what we need,” he said. “God loves us more than we are ever capable of understanding. That’s why sin isn’t just about broken laws. Sin is about broken lives and broken hearts.”
Hahn said that Christians must continually fortify themselves against sin.
“This world is not a playground. It’s a battlefield,” he said.
“We face spiritual warfare, and we all know failure, and beginning over again and again,” Hahn said.
“This is what it means to get to heaven. We will be carrying these scars to God,” he said. “What we have to offer God is a humble and contrite heart.
“God is through all eternity a father,” he said. “We are here to internalize that, and to ask him to help us do what we cannot do alone.”
In her opening keynote, Kimberly Hahn told of how Noah’s wife immediately accepted God’s curious — to humans — command to her husband to build a huge ark, even without hearing it herself.
“Mrs. Noah believed the word of God through her husband,” she said. “There were no priests to go to, no pastors. She believed her husband and believed that God had spoken through him.”
And not just his wife, but his sons and their wives also believed Noah, “the spiritual head of the family.”
By believing they were all saved, even though the world ridiculed them.
“Men who head households, you must act for the salvation of your households,” Hahn said.
“The world isn’t going to change,” she said. “We are the ones who have to change.”
Speaking from the Protestant viewpoint, Laaser and Gresh both stressed that Satan is targeting marriages and families as the way to destroy the Christ’s church.
Gresh told of the societal pressures on the teen and pre-teen girls she works with, and how the sex-saturated culture is the opposite of God’s plan for their lives.
“When God looks down on earth in his quest to teach his passion for us, he sees a marriage bed, a pure and holy marriage bed. That’s the passion,” she said.
“If your relationship with your kids, with your wife has the potential to be the picture of Christ and his church, how motivated is Satan to destroy that image?” Gresh said.
“This weekend, we want to equip and motivate you to stomp on his head."
Laaser, without naming names, said he has counseled some of the world’s wealthiest and most famous people through sexual addictions.
One Hollywood star — “a name you would all know” — once confessed to having sex with more than 3,000 women.
“He told me that it was never enough. He always wanted more,” Laaser said.
“Sexual things are never enough to satisfy our souls,” he said.
Laaser said the famous star had no idea what he was hungering and thirsting for, he said quoting the Bible: “Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, they will be filled.”
Instead, the star and all others seeking satisfaction through promiscuity are trapped in a selfish, narcissistic lifestyle.
“How do I get selfless?” Laaser asked. Then answering with more questions, he said, “What are we willing to die for? Would you die for your spouse?”
Speaking directly to the men, Laaser said, “Then I would say to you, when you look at pornography or lust after another woman, you are killing your wife’s spirit.
“Can you turn to a life of purity?” Laaser asked. “If you are a man of valor, you are willing to die for those who love you.
“Tonight, are you willing not to die, but to die to yourself?” he asked. “If you are, then the resurrecting love of Jesus Christ will be made manifest in your life.”
Printed with permission from The Catholic Key, newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph Missouri.
Sacramento, Calif., Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) - Next month, the body of a California bishop under consideration for canonization will be transferred from a Sacramento cemetery to the parish he served during his lifetime. Supporters of his canonization hope moving his body will make it easier for the faithful to ask for the late bishop's intercession.
On March 27, the body of Servant of God Bishop Alphonse Gallegos, OAR will be exhumed from St. Mary Cemetery and moved to the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a parish in the heart of Sacramento where he served, reports the Sacramento Bee.
Bishop Alfonso Gallegos Apocada is the son of Joseph and Caciana Gallegos and had 10 siblings. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on February 20, 1931. From an early age he suffered from eye problems and had difficulty reading.
At the age of 19 he entered the Augustinian Recollects and was ordained eight years later.
He devoted his ministry to the education of young people and to working with gangs. In 1979 he was named the first director of the Office of Hispanic Affairs of California.
On November 4, 1981, he was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Sacramento.
“He was known for his constant joy, the patience he showed with this limited vision and his kindness and affection towards all, even those who made his ministry difficult. He also had an intense prayer life and commitment to the poor and the needy, especially the Hispanic immigrants who sought a better future in the United States,” reports his religious congregation, the Augustinian Recollects.
Fr. Eliseo Gonzalez, vice-postulator for the cause of the bishop's canonization explained to CNA that Bishop Gallegos wanted to be remembered as “having appreciated people and what they have to offer this world.”
“He was a people person,” Fr. Gonzales continued. “He was optimistic and joyful. Everyone seemed to be his friend,” and many considered him “to have been a living saint.”
Bishop Gallegos always supported the right to protest against abortion and prayed for the conversion of abortionists. He preached strongly against the culture of death, abortion and atomic weapons.
He died in an accident on October 6, 1991, when he was struck by a car while helping a driver push his stalled vehicle off the highway. He was 60 years old. Earlier that day he had joined the community in praying the Rosary for the end of abortion.
In 2005, his cause of beatification was opened and one year later the diocesan phase was concluded. Last year, he was declared a “Servant of God.”
Fr. Gonzalez also clarified for CNA that as of now, no miracles on behalf of the Servant of God have been documented. Two miracles will need to be approved by the Vatican for him to become the first saint from Sacramento.
Chicago, Ill., Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) - The New Ways Ministry for homosexual Catholics does not present an authentic view of Catholic teaching, Cardinal George has said. Rather, it confuses the faithful about the Church’s efforts to defend traditional marriage and to minister to homosexual persons.
“I wish to make it clear that, like other groups that claim to be Catholic but deny central aspects of Church teaching, New Ways Ministry has no approval or recognition from the Catholic Church and that they cannot speak on behalf of the Catholic faithful in the United States,” the cardinal explained.
Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), explained the history and status of the organization in a Feb. 5 statement
New Ways Ministry, based in Mount Rainier, Maryland, describes itself as a “gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice.” Since its founding in 1977, the cardinal said, “serious questions” have been raised about its adherence to Catholic teaching on homosexuality.
In 1984 the group’s founders, Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND, and Fr. Robert Nugent, were barred from continuing their activities in the Archdiocese of Washington.
That same year, their superiors ordered them to separate themselves from New Ways Ministry. The two resigned from leadership posts but continued their involvement until 1999, when the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said that because of “errors and ambiguities” in their approach, Sr. Gramick and Fr. Nugent are permanently prohibited from any pastoral work involving homosexual persons.
Cardinal George said New Ways Ministry’s “lack of adherence” to Church teaching on the morality of homosexual acts was the “central issue” in the censure of its founders and continues to be its “crucial defect.”
He then noted that the organization has criticized Church efforts to defend the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. It has also tried to rally Catholic support for initiatives to recognize same-sex “marriage.”
In March 2009 Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director of New Ways Ministry, testified for legislation favorable to homosexuals in the Maryland legislature.
He claimed that most Catholics do not hold the same position as the Catholic bishops.
“While the hierarchy is concerned with the ethics of sexual activity, the Catholic people are concerned about the benefits and quality of life that people experience,” De Bernardo argued.
In a response to Cardinal George’s statement, De Bernardo said the comments “will not impede or slow us in our efforts.”
He characterized the criticisms as questions arising from “individual Church leaders” and claimed New Ways Ministry programs have been reviewed and approved by “scores” of bishops and theologians.
But Cardinal George’s statement had criticized the organization for being misleading.
“No one should be misled by the claim that New Ways Ministry provides an authentic interpretation of Catholic teaching and an authentic Catholic pastoral practice,” the cardinal said. “Their claim to be Catholic only confuses the faithful regarding the authentic teaching and ministry of the Church with respect to persons with a homosexual inclination.”
Port au Prince, Haiti, Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) - As the Haitian government has declared four days of prayer to mark the one month anniversary of the devastating Jan. 12 earthquake, leaders from Catholic relief groups met to prepare further aid for quake victims.
At least 230,000 were killed in the quake, while half a million were made homeless.
Archbishop Bernardito C. Auza, apostolic nuncio to Haiti, on Thursday hosted a meeting for the Caritas affiliates at the Holy See’s embassy in the Haitian capital.
The meeting examined relief operations and long term challenges such as education, agriculture, reconstruction and disaster preparation, Caritas reports.
“We must help Haitians become self-sufficient. Haiti needs more structured support,” the archbishop said. “However, I look to the future with confidence.”
Also at the meeting were Caritas Internationalis Secretary General Lesley-Anne Knight, Caritas Latin America and Caribbean President Bishop Fernando Bargallo, Caritas Haiti’s diocesan directors, and representatives from Caritas organizations from around the world.
“Caritas is committed to not just rebuilding destroyed infrastructure but also to securing the dignity and sustainable development of all Haitians,” Lesley-Anne Knight explained.
Emergency shelter kits provided by Caritas Haiti and American Caritas member Catholic Relief Services (CRS) have helped 35,000 people. Another 10,000 kits have been prepared for distribution while 5,000 tents from Caritas Austria have arrived.
Caritas has provided food to over 200,000 people, medical supplies to 10,000, and other essential aid items to over 60,000.
CRS has distributed U.N. World Food Program rice to almost 200,000 people and hopes to complete its special distribution to another 57,000 this week.
Ten Caritas-sponsored sites are providing health care and 40 trained people are promoting public health messages in the camps. The Caritas-supported St. Francois de Sales Hospital is performing 20-25 surgeries every day.
Vatican City, Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) -
The Holy Father followed a visit to the Caritas homeless shelter in Rome on Sunday morning with the traditional midday Angelus at the Vatican. He spoke of Jesus' presentation of the Beatitudes and the importance of implementing their lessons and seeking justice in society.
The Beatitudes, announced in the Gospel of Luke, are based on the existence of “a divine justice that picks those who have been wrongly humiliated back up and humbles those who exalt themselves," said the Pope before the Angelus.
"The first will be last and the last will be first," quoted the Holy Father, adding that "this justice and this beatitude will be realized in the 'Kingdom of Heaven'... that will reach its fulfilment at the end of time but that is already present in history."
"Where the poor are consoled and admitted to the banquet of life, there, already, is manifested the justice of God," underscored the Pope. "This is the task that the disciples of the Lord are called to carry out also in today's society."
The Holy Father brought up the reality of this ideal which he had witnessed upon his visit earlier on Sunday morning to the Caritas homeless shelter at downtown Rome's Termini Station. He encouraged "all who work in this worthy institution and everyone, in all parts of the world, who work voluntarily in similar works of justice and love."
The Pope continued by teaching that the Gospel "responds positively to man's 'thirst for justice' " and proposes a revolution, not of social or political nature, "but that of love" that Christ achieved on his death and resurrection.
On these events, he concluded, are based the Beatitudes, which propose “a new horizon of justice, inaugurated by Easter, thanks to which we can become just and build a better world."
The Holy Father also invited everyone to read and meditate on his Message for Lent, which considers the theme of justice, in preparation for the coming Lenten season to start this Wednesday.
He prayed that we let ourselves be guided by Mary during this season "to be freed from illusion and self-sufficience, to recognize that we need God... and so enter into his Kingdom of justice, love and peace.
After the Angelus, the Holy Father directed his attention to the celebration of the lunar New Year celebrated in parts of Asia, especially in Vietnam and China. Citing the opportunity this holiday provides to strengthen family and generational ties, he expressed his wish for those who are celebrating to "maintain and grow the rich heritage of spiritual and moral values that are rooted concretely" in their cultures.
Vatican City, Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) - On Saturday Pope Benedict XVI addressed members of the Pontifical Academy for Life on the occasion of their general assembly. He emphasized to the group that human dignity must be protected as an "inalienable right" and that ethical decisions cannot be left solely to the State, which is subject to "relativistic drift."
The theme of this year's general assembly was "Bioethics and Natural Law," for which the Holy Father offered his own reflections. He spoke to the academy members in the Clementine Room in the Apostolic Palace.
When we speak of bioethics, said the Pope, the "dignity of the person" is often put at the forefront of the discussion. This is "a fundamental principle that the faith in Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen, has always defended, especially when it is disregarded towards the simplest and most vulnerable subjects."
Benedict XVI called the right to recognition of human dignity "inalienable"and added that its establishment is not "written by the hand of man, but... by God the Creator in the heart of man."
"Without the founding principle of human dignity it would be arduous to find a source for the rights of the person and impossible to reach an ethical judgment as to the achievements of science that intervene directly in human life."
He insisted that it is of upmost importance that the comprehension of human dignity not be considered as strictly tied to "external elements" such as scientific progress or the "gradualness" of the formation of human life. Rather, the invocation of dignity must be "full, total and without strings, besides that of recognizing that we are always before a human life."
The key of ethical research and investigation in science regarding human beings is to never consider that one is only dealing with "inanimate material," he continued. To do otherwise risks an “instrumental use of science,” which easily advances “abuse, discrimination and the economic interests of the strongest."
Pope Benedict observed that in the world today, the rights of human life in its"natural development and in states of greatest weakness" are not always recognized. This, he said, makes it important to promote human life as an "inalienable subject of right and never as an object subjected to abuse of the strongest."
"History has shown how dangerous and deleterious a State that proceeds to make legislation on matters that touch the person and society can be, when it tries to be the source and beginning of ethics."
Without universal principles that establish a "common denominator" for humanity, explained the Pope, we run the risk of a "relativistic drift at the legislative level."
However, he stated, the natural moral law “permits us to avoid this danger and, above all, offers the legislator the guarantee for a true respect for the person." It also "affirms the existence of an order printed in nature by the Creator and recognized as an instance of true, rational ethical judgment to pursue good and avoid evil."
Members of the Pontificial Academy for Life were led in the general assembly by their acpresident, Archbishop Rino Fisichella.
Rome, Italy, Feb 14, 2010 (CNA) -
The Holy Father paid a visit to the homeless shelter at Rome's central Termini Station on Sunday morning along with a number of Church, local government and business representatives. He spoke to the gathering of the importance of charity in promoting human dignity and building an civilization of love.
In his address to mark the occasion, Pope Benedict XVI recognized the many benefactors, workers and volunteers who employ themselves daily to taking action on the words of Jesus, "I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me..."
Directing his words to those assisted through these efforts, a number of whom were in attendance, the Holy Father said, "know that the Church loves you profoundly and won't abandon you, because it recognizes in every one of your faces the face of Christ" who identified himself particularly with the poor and indigent.
"The witness of charity... belongs to the mission of the Church together with the announcement of the truth of the Gospel," noted the Pope, adding that "man doesn't just need to be nurtured materially or helped to overcome moments of difficulty, but he also needs to know who he is and know the truth about himself, about his dignity."
And the Church, he explained, is "committed to announcing to all the truth of man, that he is loved by God, created in his image, redeemed by Christ and called to eternal communion with Him."
Through the actions of those who offer their services, pointed out the Pope, "so many people have been able to rediscover... dignity, sometimes lost through tragic events, and find again trust in themselves and hope in the future."
Speaking then to those who work in the facility, the Holy Father implored them to always be "joyful witnesses of the infinite love of God" and to "consider these friends of yours one of the most precious treasures of your life."
Benedict XVI further encouraged not only Catholics, but "all men of good will.. to work to build a future deserving of man, rediscovering in charity the 'propulsive' strength for a true development and for the realization of a more just and fraternal society" in both individual and social, economic and political relations.
It is important, he added, to promote the recognition that we compose a single human family. The ideals of giving and volunteering freely must be rediscovered today "as constitutive elements of daily living and interpersonal relations" so as to "prevail over the logic of profit and seeking individual interests."
The Caritas shelter, concluded the Holy Father, offers a concrete manifestation of the collaboration of the Christian community with civil institutions to promote the "common good" and thereby offer a "true school" in which youth and other volunteers can learn to be "builders of a civilization of love, capable of taking in others in their uniqueness and differences."
Joining Pope Benedict on the visit were the Cardinal Vicar General of Rome Agostino Vallini, president of Caritas Italy, Bishop Giuseppe Merisi, and other representatives of Caritas as well as numerous local government officials including the mayor of Rome. A delegate from among those helped through the shelter, Giovanna Cataldo, also gave a short address on the occasion.