Honolulu, Hawaii, Feb 13, 2011 (CNA) - At the mid-afternoon Mass for the feast of Blessed Marianne of Molokai Jan. 23 at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace, Bishop Larry Silva blended a handful of themes and events into a single message – “Christ’s love takes what is degraded and makes it glorious.”
In addition to commemorating Hawaii’s second candidate for sainthood, the bishop chose the occasion to incardinate two Filipino priests into the Diocese of Honolulu.
Bishop Silva started his homily on a harsh note, followed by a hopeful tone.
“I don’t know of any time in Catholic history when there was more bad publicity about Catholic priests,” he said, using the example of the recent clergy sex-abuse crisis.
“But in spite of that, the enrollment in seminaries is rising,” he said.
He spoke of how Blessed Marianne Cope, in answering the call to serve Hawaii’s sick, faced a disease that degraded the human body and responded with a love that glorified the human spirit.
The bishop tied the Franciscan sister’s unconditional response to the day’s Gospel story about the shoreline recruitment of the first Apostles.
“She too was smitten by the same love of Jesus that caused Peter, Andrew, James and John to leave all they had,” Bishop Silva said.
Bishop Silva continued his comparisons.
“There are a lot of things causing anxiety,” he said, going down a list of troubles that included “a very beloved priest who suddenly leaves the priesthood.”
“We are degraded in so many ways, but the Lord can make us glorious,” he said.
“We have so many challenges to face and yet we can get through them,” he said. “We can take what is degrading and make it glorious because we have the light that is Christ himself.”
The homily was followed by the incardination of Father Pascual Abaya and Father Mario Raquepo, both formerly of the Philippine Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia. Each stepped up to the altar, placed his right hand on the gold-covered book of the Gospels and pledged his allegiance to his new diocese and bishop.
The priests and bishop then signed papers on the altar to make it official. Father Raquepo has been in Hawaii for 21 years, Father Abaya for five.
The bishop compared the two priests’ 5,000-mile relocation to Hawaii from their Philippine homeland to Mother Marianne’s permanent move here from Syracuse, N.Y., which is 5,000 miles to the east.
Wearing shiny gold fabric leis, several dozen Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities, the new name for the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse following their recent merger with other east coast communities, sat in pews on either side of the altar.
The church was packed for the music-rich liturgy. Twenty priests and a half-dozen deacons participated. Among the laity present were two relatives of Blessed Marianne, her great, great grandniece Margaret Burnett and great, great grandnephew Dr. Paul DeMare.
Near the end of Mass, the bishop announced that the Sisters of St. Francis would be donating in May a first class relic of Blessed Marianne to the Diocese of Honolulu. The relic will be carried to each island for veneration before it is housed in the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace.
Tentative plans have the diocese “officially” receiving it in Honolulu on May 6. It would be taken for celebrations that evening to Topside Molokai and the next day to Kalaupapa. It would then be carried to the rest of the neighbor islands, arriving back in Honolulu for a Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace the evening of May 13, in anticipation of the sixth anniversary of Mother Marianne’s beatification on May 14.
It will remain permanently enshrined in the cathedral, which is already the home for a relic of St. Damien.
The bishop also brought to the Mass a packet of material about Blessed Marianne he is mailing to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in the hope it will persuade the bishops to put Blessed Marianne’s Jan. 23 feast day on the nation’s liturgical calendar.
He asked the cathedral congregation to pray for the success of the appeal.
The American bishops narrowly voted down an earlier request.
Printed with permission from the Hawaii Catholic Herald, newspaper for the Diocese of Honolulu.
Naples, Fla., Feb 13, 2011 (CNA) - A Mass commemorating “Terri’s Day,” the sixth anniversary of Terri Schiavo’s death, will take place on March 31 at the chapel of Ave Maria University in Florida.
Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, will be the main celebrant for the Mass. His organization and the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network, formerly known as the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, established the commemorative day in 2007. The event’s full name is the International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters.
The day is intended to foster education, prayer and activism concerning discrimination against the cognitively disabled. It also encourages advocacy for those in situations similar to Terri Schiavo, a severely disabled woman who died after a court order allowed her husband to have her nutrition and hydration removed.
“We must continue to raise the awareness of the potential threat of hospital 'ethics committees' across the country that are seeking to remove basic care, food and water even from those who are not terminally ill,” commented Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother.
Schindler said that in all but 10 states, doctors and hospitals have been empowered to disregard advance directives even in cases when they call for treatment with food and water.
“With the growing concern of health care rationing and the government wanting to get involved in our health care decisions, this issue will get much worse,” he predicted.
Terri’s Network has supported more than 1,000 families in its efforts to help protect the rights of people with cognitive disabilities.
More information about the event and about the defense of the medically vulnerable is available at the organization’s website, www.TerrisFight.org.
Denver, Colo., Feb 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Feb. 14, the universal Church will honor brothers Sts. Cyril and Methodius, who are called the “Apostles of the Slavs” for their tireless work in spreading the Gospel throughout Eastern Europe in the ninth century.
Such was their influence in Church history, through their evangelization efforts, that the late Pope John Paul II named the two brothers the patron saints of Europe along with fifth century monastic leader St. Benedict.
Born into a prestigious senatorial family in Thessalonica, in 827 and 826 respectively, Sts. Cyril and Methodius renounced their wealth and status. They chose instead to become priests.
Both were living in a monastery on the Bosporus – now known as the Istanbul strait which separates Europe and Asia – when the authorities from the Khazar Empire sent to Constantinople for a Christian missionary. Cyril was chosen and was accompanied by his brother. Both learned the Khazar language and converted many of the people.
Soon after the Khazar mission, there was a request from officials in Moravia – a region in the present-day Czech Republic – for missionaries who could preach and celebrate liturgical services in the local dialect. Although German missionaries had already labored among the people for some time, they had little success.
In order to fulfill this mission, Cyril and Methodius took the step of adapting the Greek alphabet into a script for the Slavonic language. The result was the “Cyrillic” alphabet, which was first used to translate the Bible and liturgical books. It also became the primary means of written communication for large portions of the world, including modern day Russia.
The two labored in Moravia for four years until 868, achieving greater success than the German missionaries. Their Byzantine origins and use of the vernacular language caused some German church officials to regard them with suspicion. However, after being summoned to Rome they met with Pope Adrian II who warmly approved of their methods.
Cyril and Methodius were commended by the pope for their missionary activity and ordained bishops. Yet Cyril would not return to Moravia, and died in Rome in 869.
In order to further Methodius' work in Moravia, Pope Adrian II appointed him archbishop of a new archdiocese in the territory, independent from the German church. Unfortunately this had the effect of angering his German critics, who had him deposed and imprisoned for a period of three years.
Pope Adrian's successor, John VIII, managed to have Methodius freed and had him reinstated as archbishop, after which he expanded his work to incorporate the region of modern day Poland. The new Pope continued to support Methodius' use of the Slavic languages in worship and his translations of the Bible, despite continuing controversy with some elements of the German church.
Eventually, with the assistance of several Greek priests, he translated the whole Bible into the language that is known today as Church Slavonic. He chose his successor from among the native Moravian Slavs whom he had evangelized, and died on April 6 in 885.
Sts. Cyril and Methodius' missionary work among the Slavs laid the essential foundation for the later Christianization of Ukraine and Russia in 988, when the Russian Prince Vladimir accepted Baptism.
Vatican City, Feb 13, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - At the Sunday Angelus, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the “new law” of love which Jesus offered during the Sermon on the Mount. He called on all people to follow Christ on the path to a more fraternal and supportive society.
From the window of his studio, the pontiff prayed the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square. Among them were hundreds of representatives of the Community of Sant'Egidio.
The “new law” of Jesus is recounted in Sunday's Gospel reading from Matthew. In it, said Pope Benedict, Jesus declares the “definitive revelation of the law” which he brought at his coming.
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to fulfill,” says Jesus in the Gospel account. To the disciples, he adds, “unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
“But,” asked the Pope, “in what does this 'fullness' of the Law of Christ and this 'superior' justice that he demands consist?”
Jesus explains this in a series of phrases that repropose the ancient commandments with his new teaching.
He says: “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors: You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment. But I say to you, whoever is angry with brother will be liable to judgment.”
Pope Benedict commented that Jesus’ manner of speaking made a “great impression” among the people because he claimed the same authority as God, the source of the law.
“The newness of Jesus consists, essentially, in the fact that he himself ‘fulfills’ the commandments with the love of God, with the strength of the Holy Spirit that lives in him,” said Pope Benedict.
“And we, through faith in Christ, can open ourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit, which makes us able to live the divine love.”
Every instruction thus becomes a “demand of love” and all people are joined together in a single commandment: to love God with all their hearts and their neighbors as themselves.
“Love is the fulfillment of the law,” the Pope added, quoting the words of St. Paul from the book of Romans.
In this light, the death of four ethnic Roma children in the outskirts of Rome last week “makes us to ask ourselves if a more supportive and fraternal society, more coherent in love, that is more Christian, may not have been able to avoid this tragic fact.”
On Feb. 6, the four burned to death when the shack they were living in caught fire. The Community of Sant'Egidio, the Diocese of Rome and Caritas have all shown their support in recent days for more complete measures of social integration to provide for the wellbeing of the Roma and other migrant peoples who often live in very poor conditions.
This question of responding to a rule of love, said the Pope, is valid for “so many other painful events, more or less noted, that happen daily in our cities and our countries.”
Jesus, he said, “descended from Heaven to bring us Heaven, to the height of God, on the path of love. He himself is this path: we must not do anything but follow him, to put the will of God in practice and enter into his Kingdom, in eternal life.”
He asked for the faithful to place their lives - as the Virgin Mary did - under the complete guidance of God’s law of love.