Archive of September 26, 2010

Saint Jerome, pioneer and patron of scripture studies, to be remembered September 30

CNA STAFF, Sep 26, 2010 (CNA) - Saint Jerome, the priest, monk and Doctor of the Church renowned for his extraordinary depth of learning and translations of the Bible into Latin in the Vulgate, will be celebrated by the Church with his memorial on September 30.

Besides his contributions as a Church Father and patronage of subsequent Catholic scholarship, Jerome is also regarded as a patron of people with difficult personalities—owing to the sometimes extreme approach which he took in articulating his scholarly opinions and the teaching of the Church. He is also notable for his devotion to the ascetic life, and for his insistence on the importance of Hebrew scholarship for Christians.

Born around 340 as Eusebius Hieronymous Sophronius in present-day Croatia, Jerome received Christian instruction from his father, who sent him to Rome for instruction in rhetoric and classical literature. His youth was thus dominated by a struggle between worldly pursuits --which brought him into many types of temptation-- and the inclination to a life of faith, a feeling evoked by regular trips to the Roman catacombs with his friends in the city.

Baptized in 360 by Pope Liberius, Jerome traveled widely among the monastic and intellectual centers of the newly Christian empire. Upon returning to the city of his birth, following the end of a local crisis caused by the Arian heresy, he worked closely with two other future saints, Chromatius and Heliodorus, who were outstanding teachers of orthodox theology.

Seeking a life more akin to the first generation of “desert fathers,” Jerome left the Adriatic and traveled east to Syria, visiting several Greek cities of civil and ecclesiastical importance on the way to his real destination: “a wild and stony desert ... to which, through fear or hell, I had voluntarily condemned myself, with no other company but scorpions and wild beasts.”

Jerome's letters vividly chronicle the temptations and trials he endured during several years as a desert hermit. Nevertheless, after his ordination by the bishop of Antioch, followed by periods of study in Constantinople and service at Rome to Pope Damasus I, Jerome opted permanently for a solitary and ascetic life in the city of Bethlehem from the mid-380s.

Jerome remained engaged both as an arbitrator and disputant of controversies in the Church, and served as a spiritual father to a group of nuns who had become his disciples in Rome. Monks and pilgrims from a wide array of nations and cultures also found their way to his monastery, where he commented that “as many different choirs chant the psalms as there are nations.”

Rejecting pagan literature as a distraction, Jerome undertook to learn Hebrew from a Christian monk who had converted from Judaism. Somewhat unusually for a fourth-century Christian priest, he also studied with Jewish rabbis, striving to maintain the connection between Hebrew language and culture, and the emerging world of Greek and Latin-speaking Christianity. Prepared by these ventures, Jerome spent 15 years translating most of the Hebrew Bible into its authoritative Latin version.

After living through both Barbarian invasions of the Roman empire, and a resurgence of riots sparked by doctrinal disputes in the Church, Jerome died in his Bethlehem monastery in 420.

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Benedict XVI and Vatican prelates remember example of Blessed Chiara 'Luce' Badano

Vatican City, Sep 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Chiara “Luce” Badano, a teenage Italian member of the Focolare Movement, was beatified on Saturday. Church leaders and others remembered her in celebrations throughout the weekend for her example of love, Christian coherence and charity. They called her a reminder that “everyone has sufficient grace to become saints.”

Born in 1971, Chiara died in 1990 at nearly 19 years of age. Her biography describes a life lived in total devotion to God and abandonment to His will. Many witnesses have testified to the happiness she transmitted in spite of the pain of the bone cancer which eventually took her life.

Thousands of people gathered at the Marian Sanctuary of Divine Love just outside of Rome for the Mass and Rite of Beatification on Saturday afternoon. The young blessed was remembered by Archbishop Angelo Amato during the celebration as a girl with “a heart crystalline like water from the source.”

Noting specific acts of charity throughout her short life, Archbishop Angelo Amato, head of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, cited one witness' testimony that being with her gave a person the "feeling of finding God."

Thanking the Lord for her life of charity and goodness in spite of the difficulties of her disease, the archbishop remembered Chiara as a "modern, sporty, positive girl, (who) transmits to us a message of optimism and hope."

He added that she shows that “the brief season of youth can be lived in holiness” and also that “today there are virtuous young people, who in family, at school, in society do not fritter away their lives.”

The archbishop called her beatification "good news" in the midst of a world "rich with well-being, but often sick with sadness and unhappiness." He concluded that Chiara's story invites all people, young and old, to a "freshness and enthusiasm for the faith" while serving as a reminder that "everyone has sufficient grace to become saints."

After a youth celebration in Chiara's honor at the Vatican's Paul VI Hall which ran late into the evening on Saturday, Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone presided over a thanksgiving Mass at the basilica of St. Paul Outside-the-walls on Sunday morning. Cardinal Bertone spoke of the saintly young woman as a "brilliant" and "credible” example of “authenticity and altruism.”

The cardinal recalled a conversation with the Holy Father last week on the flight back from the U.K., when the Pope told him that "this, our Blessed is a valuable example for young people."

Pope Benedict spoke of this example in his pre-Angelus catechesis on Sunday, which participants in the Mass followed along with from big screens set up at St. Paul's basilica after the morning Eucharistic celebration with Cardinal Bertone.

Speaking of Chiara's way of living as a demonstration of how Love, "with a capital 'L'," gives true happiness, he said that for everyone, she was "a ray of light, as her nickname says: 'Chiara Luce' (Clear Light)."

The Pope noted that the celebration is not only for those from her parish, local diocese and the Focolare Movement. Rather, her beatification was a festival for all young people, who can “find in her an example of Christian coherence."

He recalled the "full adherence to the will of God" in her life down to her last words, addressed to her mother: "Mom, bye. Be happy because I am."

Chiara "Luce" Badano's feast day will be celebrated every year on Oct. 29.

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Christians’ lack of faith prevents cultural renewal, Archbishop Chaput tells Catholic scholars

Baltimore, Md., Sep 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Christians’ lack of faith and cowardice are the primary obstacles to Christian culture at a time when unbelief is the spirit-destroying “state religion” of the modern world, Archbishop Charles Chaput has told a gathering of academics. He urged personal repentance and witness as the path to cultural renewal.

The Archbishop of Denver delivered his remarks on Sunday in Baltimore to the annual convention of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, which awarded him the organization’s Cardinal O'Boyle Award.

He told the scholars that their task is to strengthen their zeal in advancing the Gospel, their courage in struggling against sin, and their “candor in naming good and evil.” He advised them to use their God-given skills to strengthen this spirit in each other, their students, and their colleagues.

“If you do only that, but do it well, then God will do the rest,” Archbishop Chaput declared.

Comparing American Catholics to the ancient Israelites who “forgot their faith because they weren’t taught,” he said that if Catholics no longer know their faith or their obligations, “we leaders, parents and teachers have no one to blame but ourselves.”

His general remarks focused upon the “construction” of Christian culture and the state of American society.

Noting the 70th anniversary of theologian Fr. John Courtney Murray’s college talks on Christian culture, the archbishop cited Murray’s belief that there is a “profound religious truth” at the base of democracy: the “intrinsic dignity” of human nature and the “spiritual freedom” of the human soul.

Fr. Murray, a Jesuit whose thought was influential at the Second Vatican Council, said the task of constructing a culture is “essentially spiritual” and all man’s cultural effort is at root an effort to submit to “the truth and the beauty and the good that is outside him” in order to conform his soul to an “ordered harmony.”

While these thoughts are true and beautiful, Archbishop Chaput continued, “they bear little likeness to our real culture in 2010.”

Briefly summarizing “what’s gone strange with America,” the archbishop said that listing and complaining about problems achieves little.

“And more importantly, as Murray would say, it isn’t a Christian response,” he continued, suggesting that the missionary obligations of Christians include renewing their country’s ideals.

The archbishop noted the influences of the United States’ Protestant and Enlightenment roots. Catholics were largely absent from the American founding and have “always been strangers in a strange land.”

He also recalled the influence of the Roman Empire on early American colonists, saying that despite Rome’s flaws the Roman virtues of piety, austerity, courage, justice and self-mastery were “revered” by the American Founders.

“As with Rome, the fruits of American power now surround us. But success has always its cost in personal and national illusions. As a people, we seem to become more foreign to our origins every year.”

A healthy civic life depends on “permanent virtues” rooted in God and not self-developed “values,” he continued.

Citing St. Augustine, C.S. Lewis and the political philosophers Leszek Kolakowski and J.L. Talmon, Archbishop Chaput warned that the self-evident truths spoken of in the Declaration of Independence are “not at all self-evident to the modern intellectual world.” Democracy too can become totalitarian.

“Unbelief – whether deliberate and ideological, or lazy and pragmatic – is the state religion of the modern world,” he commented. “The fruit of that orthodoxy is a compression and destruction of the human spirit, and a society without higher purpose. This is the logic of the choices that America is already making. But they can be unmade. And they can be redeemed.”

For Fr. Murray, he told the scholars, “there is no real ‘humanism’ without the cross of Jesus Christ. And dismantling the inhuman parody we call ‘modern American culture’ begins not with violence but with the conversion of our own hearts.”

“The central problem in constructing a Christian culture is our lack of faith and the cowardice it produces,” the archbishop stated. “We need to admit this. And then we need to submit ourselves to a path of repentance and change, and unselfish witness to others.”

He recounted his reaction to the Manhattan Declaration, a manifesto by leading Protestant and Catholic thinkers about pro-life issues, marriage and religious freedom. He took the document as a caution that a certain kind of America he and many others knew “no longer exists.”

Nonetheless, he urged the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars to look to Christ to renew themselves and their country:

“Sunday is the day we celebrate the Risen Christ, the real source of our freedom and joy. Christian faith in the Risen Jesus converted an empire. It changed the course of history and gave meaning to entire civilization. And in the Risen Christ, I believe God is now calling us, starting with those of us here today, to do the same.”

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Eternal destiny of poor in the hands of all people, says Pope

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 26, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict taught on Sunday that providing for the poor of the world takes precedence over providing for one's own comfort. Their "eternal destiny," he said, depends on the conduct of all people and it is in everyone's hands to make the decision to live a "path of love," in service and charity to others.

Meeting with the faithful and pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo for the last time this year before his return to Rome next Friday, the Holy Father looked rested as he spoke of Sunday's Gospel and saintly examples of charity. He based his catechesis on Sunday's Gospel from Luke in which the poor man, Lazarus, is taken up to heaven by the angels while the rich man at whose door he begged finds himself in hell.

The parable's message "goes beyond" Christ's words "Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God is yours," taught the Pope.

He said to "remember that, while we are in this world, we must listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the Sacred Scriptures and live according to His will, otherwise, after death, it will be too late to mend our ways."

The parable teaches us two things, Benedict XVI explained, "that God loves the poor and lifts them up from their humiliation" and "that their eternal destiny is conditioned by our conduct. It is up to us to follow the path that God has shown us to reach life, and this path is love, not understood as a feeling, but as service to others, in the charity of Christ."

He phrased Sunday's catechetical message succinctly in his English-language greeting, calling the story of Lazarus "a warning to have a special care for the poor in all circumstances. As followers of our blessed Lord," he insisted, "let us always look to other first, before we look to our own comfort."

Concluding, the Pope pointed to several saintly examples of charity. Recalling the "happy coincidence" of Monday's celebration of the Feast of the patron of Catholic charitable organizations, St. Vincent de Paul, and the 350th anniversary of his death, Pope Benedict said that this saint "touched with his own hand the strong contrast between the richest and the poorest."

He also remembered the influence of St. Louise of Marillac, with whom St. Vincent founded the "Daughters of Charity," the first women's congregation to live out their vocation outside of the convent and among the sick and needy of the world.

Referring to the context of "Christian coherence," Pope Benedict then spoke briefly of the life of recently beatified Blessed Chiara Badano, saying that she demonstrated that "only Love with a capital 'L' gives true happiness."

Before Benedict XVI prayed the Angelus, he praised God "because love is stronger than evil and death" and thanked Mary, who "leads young people, also through difficulties and suffering, to fall in love with Jesus and discover the beauty of life."

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Balance of work and 'true' rest essential for health of families, says Holy Father

Vatican City, Sep 26, 2010 (CNA) - Family, work and holidays are God's gifts for a "fully human existence," said the Pope in a message to prepare for the next World Meeting of Families. While work and consumption behavior threaten to replace holidays as times of rest, he wrote, time off must recover its "true sense."

A letter from Pope Benedict to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, in which he sets the tone for the next Word Meeting of Families, was presented at a press conference on Friday at the Holy See's Press Office. Cardinal Antonelli himself, as well as his top aides within the dicastery and representatives of the Archdiocese of Milan, were on hand to launch preparations for the encounter to take place in Milan from May 30-June 3, 2012.

In the letter, the Pope established the encounter's scope in "work" and "rest" as elements "intimately connected" with the life of the family. Juggling work and free time, he wrote, conditions the family's choices, influences intra-family relations and affects the family in the life of the Church and society.

"Sacred Scripture," he added, "tells us that the family, work and holidays are gifts and blessings from God to help us to live a fully human existence."

The Pope observed that in the contemporary world, the workplace is ruled by market competition seeking maximum profit and free time is perceived as a time for "evasion and consumption." These factors, he pointed out, "contribute to breaking up the family and the community and spreading an individualistic lifestyle."

What is needed, he concluded in the letter, is "a reflection and a commitment meant to reconcile work demands and times with those of the family and to recover the true sense of the holiday, especially Sunday ... the day of family, community and solidarity."

Pope Benedict himself will take part in the festivities of the World Meeting, presiding over an evening session for the families on June 2 and Mass the next morning.

Promoting the "work and rest" theme during the press conference, Cardinal Antonelli said that it "could become an important contribution to the defense and promotion of authentic human values in today's world, beginning with a new style of family life."

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Mexican cardinal defends position on gay 'marriage'

Mexico City, Mexico, Sep 26, 2010 (CNA) - Cardinal Norberto Rivera of Mexico City and archdiocesan spokesman, Father Hugo Valdemar, have rejected a request by the National Council for the Prevention of Discrimination (NCPD) to reach a settlement with the plaintiffs who have filed a lawsuit against the clergy members for speaking out against gay "marriage."

Both the cardinal and Fr. Valdemar were sued for their statements in opposition to the country’s Supreme Court ruling allowing homosexual marriage and adoption.

In response to a request by the NCPD to reach a settlement, Cardinal Rivera and his spokesman refused saying, “Our positions regarding the issue of marriage and adoption between persons of the same sex are not reconcilable through a settlement process, because our position emanates from our religious creed.”

However, they did express their willingness to engage in a respectful dialogue with NCPD officials “that is centered on the equality of all persons to exercise their due rights and freedoms.”

Respect for the family is essential on the part of the Church as well as the State, which is called “to protect and support the true nature of marriage and the family, public morality, the rights of parents and domestic well being,” they said.

“Our conduct has always been based on the exercise of our religious freedom, which is expressed in the Constitution … and thus guarantees that this freedom cannot be restricted or suspended,” the cardinal and his spokesman added.

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World Youth Day to inspire seminarians

Sioux City, Iowa, Sep 26, 2010 (CNA) - When a group of young adults from the Diocese of Sioux City heads off to Spain for the 2011 World Youth Day, among the diocesan pilgrims will be nine seminarians. According to seminarian Pat Behm, the experience will allow them to grow spiritually.

“Fundamentally, World Youth Day is not a vacation; it is a pilgrimage,” he stressed. “It is a pilgrimage to another part of the world to meet the person of Jesus Christ and the pope, his vicar here on earth. The opportunities for adoration, Mass, confession and catechesis are great and their value is beyond measure.”

He cited other benefits of the pilgrimage such as an opportunity to be connected to the universal church.

“This obviously means being connected and united with our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, but it also means being united with the Body of Christ throughout the world,” Behm said. “World Youth Day is a tremendous way to be united with and experience in a radically new way, our brothers and sisters throughout the world.”

Another valuable experience, he added, will be in seeing the poor. Even in the midst of an economic crisis the seminarian said the United States remains a wealthy nation by the rest of the world’s standards.

Andrea Jenson, assistant director of youth and young adult ministry who is coordinating the trip, said she is very excited to have the seminarians along on the trip “because they are the future priests. I hope that this pilgrimage will encourage the seminarians in their discernment and strengthen them in their call to the priesthood.”

The Diocese of Sioux City is presently seeking donations to offset the cost of the pilgrimage for the seminarians. At $3,800 per person, the diocese hopes to raise $34,200. If they raise over that amount, it will be set aside for the World Youth Day 2014.

“The seminarians are dedicating their time and service to the Diocese of Sioux City through answering God’s call,” Jenson said. “They have such busy schedules with school, ministry and prayer that they are not able to work during the school year. We are hoping that the diocese will respond generously in support of the seminarians as well as pray for God’s blessing on this pilgrimage.”

Behm, who was born in Fort Dodge and raised in Storm Lake, said that parishioners’ support will help the seminarians grow closer to one another and closer to the Holy Father.

“God-willing, when we become priests, this experience will make us better priests and better able to serve the people of the Diocese of Sioux City,” he said. “If you generously choose to contribute to this effort, it is very possible that you will be helping to support your own future pastor. I would also like to say that the Lord is never outdone in generosity. We see this evidenced over and over again in Scriptures, but it is really true.”

He pointed out that he attended World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto and found that to be one of the most formative experiences in his life and it even contributed to his entering the seminary in 2003.

Father Brad Pelzel, director of vocations, pointed out that he has attended World Youth Days in 2002 and 2008 and found them to be moments of joy and re-commitment to his faith and vocation.

“To be gathered with millions of other Catholics celebrating their faith joyfully and publically is a moment I wish every Catholic could experience, especially priests and seminarians,” he said.

With WYD intended for people aged 18-40, Father Pelzel said the gathering is not meant for the church of tomorrow but rather the church of today.

“To witness the energy, goodness, vitality, commitment and joy of millions of Catholics, young and not so young, actively engaging the world through their faith is to experience the working of the Holy Spirit in truly its most universal, that is “Catholic” manner outside of the sacred Mass itself,” said Father Pelzel, who will be unable to accompany the seminarians due to prior commitments.

Jenson said that having the seminarians in the group will be great for the others on the pilgrimage as they will be able to witness how the young men are living out their call from God. The seminarians will also be able to share their knowledge of the faith.

By the time of the trip, Behm should be ordained a transitional deacon. The seminarian is hopeful that he will be able to not only assist at Mass with the Holy Father but also to preach at a small, private Mass for the diocesan pilgrimage group.

If someone is on the fence about making a donation to this cause, Behm would encourage them to pray about this and discern if this is what Jesus is calling them to do.

Printed with permission from the Catholic Globe, newspaper for the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa.

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