Palermo, Italy, Oct 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - To carry the "explosive force" of the Gospel to the world takes a life based in the faith, said Pope Benedict XVI in his Sunday homily. In living with faith, even a "pinch," he taught, the Christian is able to take courageous action to renew the face of the earth.
The Holy Father began his pastoral visit to Sicily's capital city of Palermo with an outdoor Mass on the city's Mediterranean seafront on Sunday morning. Thousands of people, many with parasols or caps to keep them shaded from warm southern Italian sun, were in attendance to celebrate with the Pontiff.
Noting the difficulties in Sicilian society due to unemployment, uncertainty for what tomorrow might hold and the physical and moral suffering caused by organized crime on the island, the Pope turned to Sunday's liturgy to call them to look to the future with hope.
Turning to Sunday's readings that "speak to us of faith, which is the foundation of all Christian life," the Pope concentrated on the lessons to trust in God and to live with humility from the Gospel reading from Luke.
Luke begins by recounting how the disciples asked the Lord to increase their faith. The Pope explained the situation, observing that they are not asking for material goods or privileges, "but they are asking for the grace of faith, that orients and illuminates all life; they are asking for the grace to recognize God and to be able to be in an intimate relationship with Him, receiving ... all of His gifts, also those of courage, love and hope."
Referring to Jesus' example of transplanting a tree that follows in Sunday's reading, Benedict XVI said that "as a lever moves much more than its own weight, also the faith, even a pinch of faith, is able to do unthinkable, extraordinary things ... The faith - trusting Christ, accepting Him, letting Him transform us, following Him to the very end - makes humanly impossible things possible, in every reality."
The Holy Father then contemplated the second part of the Gospel reading which teaches humility in the parable that shows the unending service of the servant. He said that, in the same way, "we are servants of God, we are not his creditors, but we are always his debtors, because we owe everything to him, because everything is His gift."
"Before God," the Pope explained, "we must never present ourselves as those who believe to have rendered a service and merit a great recompense ... we never do enough for God."
Following these lessons, he said, "(i)f we do God's will every day, humbly, without demanding anything of Him, it will be Jesus himself to serve us, to help us, to encourage us, to give us strength and serenity."
Calling believers not to be afraid to bear witness to the faith in society, he said that faith will give them "God's strength" to do so courageously and confidently, "to move forward with new decision, to take the necessary initiatives to give an always more beautiful face to the earth."
And amidst the temptation to discouragement, he said, those who are "solidly founded in the faith, who have full trust in God and live in the Church, are able to carry the explosive force of the Gospel."
Urging Sicilians to confront the future with hope, Pope Benedict emphasized that "(w)ith the force of God, everything is possible!"
Palermo, Italy, Oct 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - At noon on Sunday, Pope Benedict prayed that all people might be strengthened in faith, hope and charity through the intercession of Mary. He asked, in particular, that she lead the faithful to "walk quickly and joyfully on the way of holiness."
Pope Benedict prayed the Angelus with an estimated 30,000 people present in Palermo, Sicily at the city's Foro Italico park during his pastoral visit there. Widely present among the attendees were banners bearing images of Fr. Pino Puglisi, a much-loved priest who was killed in Palermo by the mafia in 1993.
Reminded of the island's strong Marian devotion, Pope Benedict entrusted all Sicilian faithful to the Virgin Mary before the Angelus. He especially asked Our Lady to support families in love and educational commitment, to make the "seeds" of vocations fruitful among young people and to give people "courage in trials, hope in difficulties and renewed impetus to do good.
"May the Madonna comfort the sick and all the suffering," he continued praying, "and help Christian communities so that no person be marginalized or in need, but that each, especially the smallest and weakest, might feel accepted and valued."
Mary, said the Pope, "is the model of Christian life" to whom "we ask most of all to help us walk quickly and joyfully on the way of holiness, in the footsteps of so many brilliant witnesses of Christ, children of the Sicilian lands."
Remembering the concurrent celebration of the beatification of Anna Maria Adorni in Parma, Italy on Sunday, her devotion to saying the Rosary and the beginning of the Marian month of October, the Holy Father prayed that the "daily meditation of the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the 'praying Virgin', might fortify us all in faith, hope and charity."
After the Mass, the Holy Father went to the Archbishop of Palermo's residence for lunch with all the bishops of Sicily. Following this occasion, his Sunday afternoon schedule included a meeting with priests, religious and seminarians at the cathedral and an open-air encounter with young people and families in a city square.
Rome, Italy, Oct 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Anna Maria Adorni, in her life a mother, widow and consecrated religious, was beatified on Sunday. The 19th-century Italian blessed is remembered for her maternal charity to the needy, especially those in jail, and her constant prayer.
Archbishop Angelo Amato, the prefect of the Vatican's congregation for saints' causes, presided over the beatification liturgy in the cathedral of the Italian city of Parma.
In an article published in Saturday's edition of L'Osservatore Romano, the postulator for her cause for canonization, Fr. Guglielmo Camera, remembered how, despite many hardships, she did not give in to despair.
She was born in 1805 and at 39 years old, after her husband's passing and having suffered the early deaths of five of her six children, she took up a life of charity and relief for those in jail at her confessor's encouragement.
Other women followed in her example and their work expanded to the care of women released from jail, at-risk children and orphans through their house called the Institute of the Good Shepherd. In 1857, together with eight companions she was able to found a religious congregation which "called and considered themselves the 'Handmaidens of Blessed Mary Immaculate'," wrote Adorni's postulator.
Fr. Camera added that Blessed Adorni, who died in 1893, "is considered the mother of the marginalized, exploited, of all who are subject to new forms of slavery and, in particular, of the incarcerated and women offended in their human dignity."
The Holy Father also remembered Blessed Adorni in his address before the recitation of the Angelus on Sunday, calling her and "an exemplary spouse and mother" who later "dedicated herself to charity to jailed women and those in difficulty."
"Mother Adorni, because of her constant prayer, was called the 'living Rosary'," he recalled, as he urged the faithful to seek fortification in the prayer as she did, especially during the Marian month of October.
Blessed Guido Maria Conforti, Bishop of Parma in the times of Anna Maria Adorni wrote after her death that "her charity was without limits, it shone also in the darkest place of expiation, deprived of the light of truth.
"From the dismal jails where derelict souls received from that angel the word of comfort, of resignation, of peace, it extended itself in the miserable shacks," he said, "where the poor found aid in her, refreshment to their sorrows; to the bed of the infirm to which she gave, with maternal charity, all the physical and moral healings required by the necessities of each one."
Blessed Adorni's is the latest of a number of beatifications in the Catholic Church in recent months. Among others, English Cardinal John Henry Newman, Italian Chiara "Luce" Badano and Spanish Friar Leopold de Alpandeire have also been declared blesseds in separate ceremonies in their homelands. Later this month, on Oct. 17, the canonizations of Australia's Bl. Mary MacKillop, Canada's Bl. Andre Bessette and four others will take place in St. Peter's Square.
CNA STAFF, Oct 3, 2010 (CNA) - On October 7, the Roman Catholic Church will celebrate the yearly feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Known for several centuries by the alternate title of “Our Lady of Victory,” the feast day takes place in honor of a 16th century naval victory which secured Europe against Turkish invasion. Pope St. Pius V attributed the victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was invoked on the day of the battle through a campaign to pray the Rosary throughout Europe.
The feast always occurs one week after the similar Byzantine celebration of the Protection of the Mother of God, which most Eastern Orthodox Christians and Eastern Catholics celebrate on October 1 in memory of a 10th-century military victory which protected Constantinople against invasion after a reported Marian apparition.
Pope Leo XIII was particularly devoted to Our Lady of the Rosary, producing 11 encyclicals on the subject of this feast and its importance in the course of his long pontificate.
In the first of them, 1883's “Supremi Apostolatus Officio,” he echoed the words of the oldest known Marian prayer (known in the Latin tradition as the “Sub Tuum Praesidium”), when he wrote, “It has always been the habit of Catholics in danger and in troublous times to fly for refuge to Mary.”
“This devotion, so great and so confident, to the august Queen of Heaven,” Pope Leo continued, “has never shone forth with such brilliancy as when the militant Church of God has seemed to be endangered by the violence of heresy … or by an intolerable moral corruption, or by the attacks of powerful enemies.” Foremost among such “attacks” was the battle of Lepanto, a perilous and decisive moment in European and world history.
Troops of the Turkish Ottoman Empire had invaded and occupied the Byzantine empire by 1453, bringing a large portion of the increasingly divided Christian world under a version of Islamic law. For the next hundred years, the Turks expanded their empire westward on land, and asserted their naval power in the Mediterranean. In 1565 they attacked Malta, envisioning an eventual invasion of Rome. Though repelled at Malta, the Turks captured Cyprus in the fall of 1570.
The next year, three Catholic powers on the continent – Genoa, Spain, and the Papal States - formed an alliance called the Holy League, to defend their Christian civilization against Turkish invasion. Its fleets sailed to confront the Turks near the west coast of Greece on October 7, 1571.
Crew members on more than 200 ships prayed the Rosary in preparation for the battle - as did Christians throughout Europe, encouraged by the Pope to gather in their churches to invoke the Virgin Mary against the daunting Turkish forces.
Some accounts say that Pope Pius V was granted a miraculous vision of the Holy League's stunning victory. Without a doubt, the Pope understood the significance of the day's events, when he was eventually informed that all but 13 of the nearly 300 Turkish ships had been captured or sunk. He was moved to institute the feast now celebrated universally as Our Lady of the Rosary.
“Turkish victory at Lepanto would have been a catastrophe of the first magnitude for Christendom,” wrote military historian John F. Guilmartin, Jr., “and Europe would have followed a historical trajectory strikingly different from that which obtained.”
Vatican City, Oct 3, 2010 (CNA/EWTN News) - Reflecting on the content of an orchestral and choral program, Pope Benedict said that one particular piece gave voice to the witness of faith through martyrdom. And this, he explained, represents the greatest masterpiece of all, an act of authentic love.
A concert was offered for the Pope at the Vatican on Friday evening at Paul VI Hall by Italian energy company ENI, which led restoration efforts to renew the facade of St. Peter's Basilica for the Jubilee Year in 2000. More recently, they have been leading similar restoration efforts for the colonnade of St. Peter's Square.
The National Academy of St. Cecilia's orchestra and choir performed works by Ludwig von Beethoven, Franz Josef Haydn and Arvo Pärt, a modern Estonian composer of sacred music, during the program. Concluding the evening, the Holy Father pointed out some of the differences between the composers' works.
The pieces by two former composers represent art's universal dimension, "a way to conceive of man in his place in the world," he observed, while Arvo Pärt's piece showed another reality "not of the natural world." Pärt's work, "Cecilia, Roman virgin," said the Holy Father, "gives voice to the witness of the faith in Christ, which in a word says 'martyrdom'."
The text coupled with the key of the interpretation "seems to represent the place and the task of the faith in the universe," he said. It appears to show that "in the middle of the vital forces of nature, that surround man and are also within him, faith is a different force, that responds to a profound word, which 'came from silence,' as St. Ignatius of Antioch would say," explained the Pope.
Extrapolating the lesson to a greater scope, Benedict XVI said, that the "world of faith needs a great interior silence, to listen to and obey a voice that is beyond the visible and tangible."
It is a voice also present in natural phenomena, he added, as the "power that created and governs the universe." But, as St. Theresa of the Child Jesus, whose feast day was celebrated on Friday, teaches, he said, "to recognize it, we need a humble and obedient heart."
"Faith," he concluded, "follows this profound voice there where art itself alone cannot reach: it follows it on the way of bearing witness, of offering oneself for love, as Cecilia did. So the most beautiful work of art, the masterpiece of the human being is his every act of authentic love, from the littlest - in daily martyrdom - up to extreme sacrifice.
"Here," said the Pope, "life itself makes a song: an anticipation of that symphony that we will sing together in Paradise."
A beautiful moment during the concert came after the moving performance of Pärt's work, when the 75-year old composer was able to greet the Holy Father personally. He was also escorted to the stage to take a bow together with the musicians and singers.
St. Louis, Mo., Oct 3, 2010 (CNA) - Taking as his theme the statement of Pope Benedict XVI, that “every child brings us God's smile,” Archbishop Robert Carlson of St. Louis wrote on Wednesday that the defense of all members of humanity, from conception to natural death, is ultimately rooted in joy and gratitude for God's gift of life.
God, the archbishop taught, is “not cold or uncaring,” but “loving and joyful,” creating the universe and every human person for the sake of love. Archbishop Carlson expressed his thoughts in the St. Louis Review, in anticipation of this year's Respect Life Sunday on October 3.
“At just 11 weeks in the womb,” he observed, “an unborn child smiles. Skeptics say this is simply an involuntary contraction of face muscles. People of faith know better. We believe that this unborn child has already begun his or her lifelong journey as a child of God.”
“Because we are confident that every child brings us God's smile, we believe that the smiling child in his or her mother's womb is telling us something important.”
The same goodness of God, the archbishop pointed out, could be seen throughout nature. “Out of God's goodness comes all of creation - with its natural wonders, its breathtaking loveliness, and its marvelous diversity,” he enthused. “Minerals, plants, animals and human beings all come into existence because of the goodness of God.”
“Our human sinfulness,” the archbishop taught, causes us to “turn the smile (God) gave us into a frown or a scowl or even bitter tears. But that is not the way God made us.” Rather, he explained, we are meant to love and protect one another, understanding that “life is a precious gift to be treasured and nurtured and shared.”
Life's beginning and end, he said, both illustrate this truth vividly. “The innocence of the unborn child, and the vulnerability of those who are unable to care for themselves because of sickness or old age, remind us that we are responsible for supporting and caring for each other.”
The prelate warned that those who treat persons as an inconvenience or burden, are in reality only dehumanizing themselves.
“How we care for an unexpected child, a parent suffering from cognitive impairment or an infant with a disability does not reflect the degree of their humanity, but our own,” he stated. “We are as dependent on them as they are on us.”
“Every child, at every age of development, brings us God's smile and invites us to smile in return,” he continued, “to be grateful and loving and generous in sharing God's wonderful gift of life with others.”
Evoking Christ's central precept to “love one another as I have loved you,” Archbishop Carlson frankly described both the rigor and the beauty of a true respect for life. “There are be no compromise with the standard Jesus set and continually calls us to,” he affirmed. “The measure of love is to love without measure!”
Tombura-Yambio, Sudan, Oct 3, 2010 (CNA) - Ahead of an important visit to the U.K., a Sudanese bishop has said he will “ring the alarm bell” regarding the situation in his country. Opportunities to prepare for the upcoming secession referendum are dwindling and there are concerns that violence will return to the ravaged land if the election does not go well.
Bishop Eduardo Hiiboro Kussala will visit London, Edinburgh and Glasgow later this month, just three months before Sudan’s referendum on the possible secession of South Sudan. The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) is organizing key elements of his visit.
In a statement to ACN, Bishop Hiiboro said South Sudan faces the threat of renewed violence amid signs of a breakdown in preparations for the early January elections.
“I am coming to the great nation of the U.K. to ring the alarm bell regarding the situation in the Sudan,” commented the bishop, whose southern Diocese of Tombura-Yambio borders the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Amid reports that the Uganda-based rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) are terrorizing his diocese, Bishop Hiiboro said there is a “real and imminent threat” to the security of the people of Sudan and of the whole region.
He voiced concerns that the referendum could cause a disaster.
“If it goes well, the referendum will bring peace to a country which has suffered almost five decades of brutal civil war … but if not then Sudan will descend into violence and instability which will affect the whole region,” he told ACN.
The guarantors of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), especially the U.K., the EU, the U.S. and the U.N., need to show a “renewed political will and commitment” to engage the country throughout the coming years of transition, he said.
He and other bishops have often warned of Sudanese politicians’ lack of commitment to agreed pre-referendum guidelines. Concerns involve voter registration, involvement of diverse political factions and raising voter awareness.
“Opportunities to encourage success or prepare adequately for failure are rapidly dwindling. There is no time to waste,” Bishop Hiiboro emphasized.
According to ACN, there are fears that some political factions are preparing for war rather than work towards a long-term peace accord. The Sudanese civil war killed more than 2.5 million people.
The bishop repeated to ACN the fears of his fellow Christians that a united Sudan under the Khartoum-based Islamist regime would return the country to intimidation and persecution of non-Muslims.
“We have been witnesses of acts of unimaginable violence and contempt for mankind,” he commented. “How can we talk about a peaceful referendum without recalling with concern the persistent persecution of Christians which the Sudan has experienced? Have not the brutal facts not crushed any commitment to voting for a united Sudan?”
During his visit to the U.K. and to continental Europe, the bishop is expected to outline his concerns to a number of Catholic charities, government officials and Church leaders.
The bishop will keynote ACN’s annual Westminster Event on Oct. 16 after presiding at the 10:30 a.m. Mass in Westminster Cathedral.
More information on his visit is available at the website http://www.acnuk.org/events
Wichita, Kan., Oct 3, 2010 (CNA) - Father Emil Kapaun, a priest of the Diocese of Wichita, is among the 24 men, women, or groups nominated for the Eight Wonders of Kansas People, a campaign by the Kansas Sampler Foundation to promote and educate about the Sunflower State.
Fr. Kapaun is a priest of the diocese who died in a North Korean prisoner of war camp in 1951. The canonization process is underway for Father Kapaun, a war hero born and raised in Pilsen, Kansas.
The Kansas Sampler Foundation began its campaign with the Eight Wonders of Kansas. The current category is people.
Father John Hotze, judicial vicar for the diocese who is overseeing the diocesan canonization effort for Father Kapaun, said Father Kapaun was among the 125 originally nominated and is now one of the 24 finalists.
“The people who are in the running are rather interesting,” he said. “I have never heard of some of them and am surprised that some are from Kansas.”
Father Hotze asked the faithful of the diocese to vote and then pass the information about the Eight Wonder to others.
“It might be kind of neat to have Fr. Kapaun named one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas,” he said.
To vote for your favorite Kansans go to 8wonders.org. Each visitor will be asked to vote for eight. Anyone who is in the fourth grade or older may vote.
Voting will end on Friday, Oct. 22.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Advance, newspaper for the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas.