Vatican City, Sep 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Spanish Capuchin friar who was known across the city of Granada, Spain for his simplicity was beatified on Sunday morning. The Holy Father invited the faithful to follow his example and to love all people, "without exception."
Brother Leopold de Alpandeire, born Francisco Sánchez Márquez, was beatified at an airfield near Granada with an estimated 60,000 people in attendance. Prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes, Archbishop Angelo Amato, presided over the ceremony along with a number concelebrants including Cardinal Antonio María Cañizares and all the bishops of Andalusia, led by Archbishop of Granada, Javier Martínez.
The Capuchin friar, who lived from 1864-1956, was remembered in August by the general minister of the Capuchin Order of Friars Minor, Br. Mauro Jöhri. Br. Mauro wrote that the Blessed was "before all else a 'man of God,' steeped in His Spirit."
For 50 years, he recalled, Br. Leopold walked the streets of Granada "distributing the alms of love, lending color to the sad days of many, creating unity and harmony, leading all to meet God and lending dignity to everyday tasks."
In a pastoral letter written for the occasion, the Archbishop of Granada said that in the "simple" spirituality and life of the friar "the word of the Gospel is once again fulfilled, 'Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.'”
"This is fulfilled in the world, in effect" he said, "and it is fulfilled in Br. Leopold. The contrast between the programs of the world with the categories and criteria of Br. Leopold cannot be more radical.”
"But Br. Leopold is not a utopia," the prelate concluded, "he is a being in flesh and bone."
Uniting himself with the celebrations in Granada after Sunday's Angelus, Pope Benedict said that "the life of this simple and austere Capuchin religious is a song to humility and confidence in God and a luminous model of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin Mary."
He invited "all, following the example of the new Blessed, to serve the Lord with a sincere heart, so that we might experience the immense love that He has for us and which makes it possible to love all men without exception."
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Holy Father asked the faithful to accompany him on his trip to Great Britain next week by way of prayers. Referring to the focal point of the trip, Cardinal John Henry Newman, he said that the 19th-century prelate continues to be a "source of inspiration" to the contemporary world and Christian unity.
Prior to the recitation of the Marian prayer at noon on Sunday, the Holy Father concluded his catechesis on the prodigal son by noting that he will be proclaiming Cardinal Newman a "blessed" next week. He said, "I ask all of you to accompany me in prayer on this Apostolic Trip."
Just minutes later, in his French-language greeting after the Angelus, he repeated his petition for prayers and said that he is "delighted" to be going to the U.K.
Speaking of the figure of John Henry Newman, he explained that the soon-to-be blessed's "personality and teaching can be a source of inspiration for our age and for ecumenism" that everyone can draw from.
Newman converted from the Anglican Church to Catholicism halfway through his 90-year life and is highly esteemed by the current Pope, in particular for his stand against a culture of relativism.
New head of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Archbishop Kurt Koch, commented to journalists last Thursday that the visit will "strongly affirm the close bonds" between the Catholic and Anglican Churches.
The U.K. tour will begin with a meeting with the Queen of England on Thursday, Sept. 16 in Scotland and conclude with the Beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman on Sunday, Sept. 19.
There is great interest in the occasion also from the Anglican Church. The Anglican primate, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, will meet with Pope privately on Friday and they will both participate in other initiatives throughout the day, including an ecumenical celebration. In a further show of goodwill, Archbishop Williams will also be in attendance for Saturday morning's Mass at Westminster Cathedral.
Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 12, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - "Repentance is the measure of the faith and thanks to it one returns to the Truth," taught the Holy Father on Sunday. Making reference to the parable of the prodigal son, he said that "only faith" can bring joy out of selfishness and renew relationships with God and neighbor.
Standing out among the crowd of pilgrims in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo for Sunday's Angelus prayer was a bubbly group of Poles. Also making themselves known were separate Italian groups who had arrived by bicycle and motorcycle.
Before praying the Angelus with these and the many others gathered, Pope Benedict XVI explained that Jesus' three "parables of mercy" from Sunday's liturgy are "no mere words." Rather, "they constitute an explanation of His very being and activity."
The shepherd who finds the lost sheep is "the Lord himself" who redeems "sinful humanity" by taking it upon himself, said the Pope. And the parable of the prodigal son, he explained, shows a young man who takes his inheritance out into the world only to be "reduced to misery."
Turning to the prodigal son's return "to his senses," Benedict XVI pointed out that the "speech he prepares for his homecoming reveals to us the full extent of the inner pilgrimage he is now making ... returning 'home,' to himself and to the father."
These words are found in Luke's Gospel: "I shall rise up and go to my father, and I will say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am not worthy to be called your son."
Offering St. Augustine's insight in this context, Benedict XVI said, "The Word itself calleth thee to return: and there is the place of rest imperturbable, where love is not forsaken, if itself forsaketh not."
And when the son returns, recalled the Pope, "moved with compassion ... and full of joy," the father organizes a feast.
"Dear friends," he asked, "how can we not open our hearts to the certainty that, despite being sinners, we are loved by God?
"Repentance is the measure of the faith and thanks to it one returns to the Truth," explained the Holy Father, saying that God is "always first" to seek us out and "never tires" of doing so.
Highlighting the difference between the prodigal son's "indignant" brother and elated father, the Pope said that "only the faith can transform selfishness into joy and renew just relations with neighbor and with God."
The Pope summarized this lesson succinctly in his Polish greeting after the Angelus: "As the father anxiously waited for the prodigal son, God awaits with open arms the sinner who sincerely wishes to repent and live in the light of his love."
Concluding his address before the recitation of the Marian prayer, the Holy Father asked for prayers during his Apostolic Journey to the UK this week and entrusted "our path of conversion to God" to the Virgin Mary.
Sacramento, Calif., Sep 12, 2010 (CNA) - A California bill which changes all legal references to “marriage” to say “civil marriage” should be vetoed, the California Catholic Conference has advocated. While the bill purports to protect religious ministers from being forced to perform same-sex “marriages,” the conference says the legislation creates confusion and ignores true threats to religious freedom.
Democratic state representative Mark Leno's SB 906 “does not accomplish anything except create more confusion about marriage laws in California,” the conference’s Catholic Legislative Network (CLN) said in a Sept. 8 “Action Alert.”
The alert argued that all state law is already civil. “Why place the word ‘civil’ in civil law?” it asked.
The conference added that supporters of the bill recognize that the state cannot create or change religious practices.
The proposed law changes the wording of Prop. 22, which states that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. It ignores the identical constitutional language of Proposition 8, whose constitutionality is being challenged in federal court.
“The bill discounts the concerns of voters that religious institutions would be penalized if they did not publicly accommodate same-sex partnerships in their facilities or benefits,” the CLN alert said. “If supporters wanted to offer true protection for religious groups they could clarify the appropriate exemptions in law. Yet this bill does not do that.”
The CLN asked citizens to urge Gov. Schwarzenegger to veto the bill.
Austin, Texas, Sep 12, 2010 (CNA) - Sister Elizabeth Ann O’Reilly and Dr. Katie O’Reilly are identical twins. Growing up in New Orleans, they both enjoyed science and both considered careers in medicine. However, in college both had spiritual conversions that led them on different, yet often parallel, paths.
Despite their different vocations, major events in their lives have occurred at about the same time.
“The year I got my white coat, my second year in medical school, she got her habit,” Dr. O’Reilly said. “The year I got married she professed her final vows.”
“And the same year she started medical school, I began convent,” Sister Elizabeth Ann said. “Both take eight to 10 years.”
They arrived in Central Texas a month apart, living their vocations in different ways. Sister Elizabeth Ann was among eight Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist who arrived in August 2009 from the motherhouse in Ann Arbor, Mich., at the invitation of Bishop Gregory Aymond, who is now archbishop of New Orleans. She works at the diocesan Pastoral Center, helping to expand the presence of the sisters in the diocese.
Dr. O’Reilly works for LitePath, a group of pathologists that contract with area hospitals, including Seton Medical Center Hays in Kyle, where she offices. She and her husband Doug Consiglio are parents to eight-month-old Theresa.
In high school, they forged their own identities and when it came time to choose a college, they went their separate ways.
They joke that they took different paths because Dr. O’Reilly attended a Jesuit university –– Loyola University New Orleans –– while Sister Elizabeth Ann attended a Franciscan university –– the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio.
The separation was hard on Dr. O’Reilly.
“When she left, people called me ‘water works,’” she said, recalling all the tears after being separated from her twin for the first time. “I was thinking of how different things would be.”
When Sister Elizabeth Ann entered convent, the separation seemed more permanent to Dr. O’Reilly. However, she soon realized their different vocations did not separate them.
“Even though she’s a sister, she’s still my sister,” Dr. O’Reilly said. “I realized God gives the family graces when he takes away a sibling.”
That grace led the two of them to grow deeper in their faith. The two continue to support each other in their vocations as well as in their spiritual lives.
“We are best friends, even when we are separated,” Sister Elizabeth Ann said. “The conversion experience allowed me to change paths because I let God use the gifts I have.”
Despite the fact that she has been Sister Elizabeth Ann for several years, sometimes Dr. O’Reilly uses her given name –– Carey –– although she quickly corrects herself in the same sentence. Sister Elizabeth Ann realizes old habits die hard –– especially since they’ve been together since before they were born.
Dr. O’Reilly feels blessed to have her sister as a spiritual role model.
“There was a period when I questioned my faith and didn’t go to Mass,” said Dr. O’Reilly. “But her faith is rock solid.”
Their faith was tested as their parents divorced when they were 16. Their brothers were 18 and 12. The two brothers drifted apart after leaving home but have recently become close to their sisters.
“My sister’s faith was incredible,” said Dr. O’Reilly. “Because of the strength of her faith, my faith was strengthened and it continues to grow.”
Sister Elizabeth Ann said she knows she can count on her sister for support and to always be there for her the way the sisters in her religious community are. She greatly admires her sister’s dedication to her vocation as a wife, mother and doctor.
“She gets up very early but is always so joyous in the sacrifices she makes for the people she loves,” said Sister Elizabeth Ann. “The love for her spouse and child makes me want to love Christ more and sacrifice joyfully.”
Sister Elizabeth Ann said her sister is also a good role model.
“One time I was watching Theresa all day and it was time for vespers,” Sister Elizabeth said. “I was tired and didn’t feel like it. But I remembered how my sister gives the sacrifice of time and I thought, ‘I want to be like that.’ It’s very concrete.”
“Except it doesn’t feel like sacrifice,” noted Dr. O’Reilly. “It’s a gift.”
The foundation for both women is God. Dr. O’Reilly likes working at a Catholic hospital because she can attend daily Mass and take time during the day for prayer in the chapel. She also has benefited from her sister’s wisdom, which comes from her deep spirituality.
“There are troubled times in life when only a sibling can understand,” Dr. O’Reilly said. “She’s very wise. It comes from prayer and faith. Any time I come to her with an issue she gives me the wisest advice.”
Sister Elizabeth Ann said her sibling supports her through prayer and by simply living her vocation.
“She’s a faithful reminder that in those moments when I’m tired, my sister is busy being a doctor, wife and mother,” said Sister Elizabeth Ann. “It makes it easier for me give of myself to my vocation.”
Printed with permission from the Catholic Spirit, newspaper for the Diocese of Austin, Texas.
CNA STAFF, Sep 12, 2010 (CNA) - One of the most beloved saints of the Christian East, the renowned preacher and fourth-century Archbishop of Constantinople John Chrysostom, will be remembered and celebrated in the Roman Catholic Church on September 13, the day before the anniversary of his death in 407.
Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians, who regard the Byzantine archbishop as one of the most important of the early Church Fathers, commemorate him a month later on November 13, the date that he assumed the position of archbishop in the Eastern imperial capital.
Among Christians of the Byzantine tradition, St. John Chrysostom is best known for the liturgical rite traditionally ascribed to him. Eastern Catholic and Orthodox churches still celebrate the “Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom” as their most common form of Eucharistic worship.
In the West, he is numbered among the 33 “Doctors of the Church,” and remembered especially for his extensive and profound teachings on the subject of the Holy Eucharist. Along with St. Joseph, he was named co-patron of the Second Vatican Council by Bl. John XXIII.
Born around 349 in the Syrian city of Antioch, which is today a part of Turkey, John received an education in the classical works of Greek. He was baptized at age 19 or 20 and mentored by the local Bishop Meletius, going on to attend a school of theology in the city.
For a total of six years, John left behind the relative wealth of his family background and lived a strict lifestyle as a monastic hermit, devoting himself entirely to prayer, fasting, and study of the Bible. This regimen permanently damaged his health, however, and he returned to the city to serve in the local church, eventually becoming a deacon and then priest.
After serving as a priest at Antioch for 12 years, from 386 to 397, John was selected for the position of Archbishop of Constantinople, which had become the imperial capital in 330. The city's prestige subjected the Church of Constantinople to frequent intrigues of the wealthy and powerful. Chrysostom, the former hermit, had to be brought to the city by force for his installation as archbishop.
Beginning in 398, he proclaimed the Gospel message in bold and eloquent sermons that earned him the nickname of “Golden Mouth” (the actual meaning of his title “Chrysostomos”). His preaching and witness also earned him the enmity of the Empress Eudoxia, however, and of others in the Church and state who resented his refusal of wealth and social status and his attempts to reform the clergy.
Condemned on false charges after six years at Constantinople, John was driven into exile and died en route to Pontus, along the Black Sea, in 407. The Church has preserved over 900 of St. John Chrysostom's renowned sermons, along with his profound last words: “Glory to God for all things!”
In addition to highlighting Chrysostom's love of the Eucharist and his dedication to preaching, Pope Benedict spoke in 2009 of the saint's care for the social development of the poor --which he said made St. John Chrysostom “one of the great Fathers of the Church's social doctrine”-- and his concern for the Christian family as a “Church in miniature.”
St. John Chrysostom's life and preaching, the Pope taught, were also a witness to the essential unity of the Church: “The faithful in Rome,” he quoted the Greek saint as saying, “consider those in India as members of their own body.”