Biloxi, Miss., Feb 27, 2011 (CNA) - One of the great commandments given by Jesus was “Love your neighbor.”
However, as Redemptorist Father Vic Karls told St. Alphonsus parishioners during a Feb. 6 parish mission talk, that’s not always an easy commandment to follow.
But, Father Karls added, “The Lord God gave us that great commandment and he taught us how to put that into practice in our life.”
Father Karls outlined three ways, prescribed by Jesus that will make it easier to follow this commandment
Mindful that people don’t always make it easy to love them, Father Karls said that, just as Jesus made an excuse for the people who put him to death – “Father forgive them for they know what they are doing” – human beings should also make excuses for their neighbor when he or she is being difficult to love.
“Many times, they don’t want to hurt you. They don’t mean to hurt you. It just slips out. They simply don’t know,” he said.
Father Karls said it is also important to pray for your neighbor and to perform good works for that person.
“But you know what I hear so often? I hear people say that ‘they are the ones that did the mean thing. They are the ones who have to come and apologize,’” Father Karls said.
“Jesus said something about that. He said, look, if you want peace in your life, it’s got to start some place. You can spend an entire lifetime looking out and saying, ‘It’s their fault.’ And your relationship is going to be strained for your entire life. Jesus said, if you want to live in peace, it’s got to start somewhere. It’s got to start right here. You’ve got to be the one. I don’t care if it was their fault. I don’t care if it wasn’t anybody’s fault. If you want to live in peace, you’re the one who’s going to have to start.”
To drive home his point, Father Karls led the congregation in singing Let There Be Peace on Earth,” the first line of which reads, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”
Sometimes, Father Karls said, loving one’s neighbor requires what he terms “tough love.”
“Sometimes in following what our Lord God told us to do – the steps to help us love our neighbor – sickness and abuse comes into the picture and we have to go into something called tough love,” he said.
“That is simply to stop helping other people in their abusive behavior. Tough love, real love is to do your best to get them to some professional help. They are addicted. They don’t have the ability to do it themselves. People who love them have the ability to help them.”
The mission, which featured morning and evening sessions, ran Feb.7 through Feb.10.
Printed with permission from the Gulf Pine Catholic, newspaper for the Diocese of Biloxi, Miss.
Denver, Colo., Feb 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
On March 3, the universal Church celebrates the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, a Philadelphia heiress who abandoned her family’s fortune to found an order of sisters dedicated to serving the impoverished African-American and American Indian populations of the United States.
Katharine was born November 26, 1858, into a wealthy and well-connected banking family. The family's wealth, however, did not prevent them from living out a serious commitment to their faith.
Her mother opened up the family house three times a week to feed and care for the poor, and her father had a deep personal prayer life. Both parents encouraged their daughters to think of the family's wealth not as their own, but as a gift from God which was to be used to help others.
During the summer months, Katharine and her sisters would teach catechism classes to the children of the workers on her family’s summer estate. The practice would prepare her for a life of service, with a strong focus on education and attention to the poor and vulnerable.
While traveling with her family through the Western U.S., Katharine witnessed the poor living conditions of the Native Americans. Eventually, while still a laywoman, she would give much of her own money to fund the missions and schools in these seriously deprived areas.
Eventually, however, the young heiress would give more than just funding to these much-needed missions and schools. She would decide to devote her whole life to the social and spiritual development of black and American Indian communities.
The inspiration for this work came to her during a visit to Rome, where she was granted an audience with Pope Leo XIII. During that time, Katharine had been considering a vocation to cloistered contemplative life as a nun. But when she asked Pope Leo XIII to send missionaries to Wyoming, he told Katharine she should undertake the work herself.
In February of 1891, she made her first vows in religious life – formally renouncing her fortune and her personal freedom, for the sake of growing closer to God in solidarity with the victims of injustice.
Although African-Americans had been freed from slavery, they continued to suffer serious abuse, and were often prevented from obtaining even a basic education. Much the same situation held in the case of the native American Indians, who had been forcibly moved into reservations over the course of the 19th century.
Katharine founded the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, for the purpose of living with these communities while helping them acquire education and grow in faith.
Between 1891 and 1935 she led her order in the founding and maintenance of almost 60 schools and missions, located primarily in the American West and Southwest. Among the prominent achievements of Drexel and her order is New Orleans' Xavier University, the only historically black Catholic college in the U.S.
Katharine was forced into retirement for the last 20 years of her life after she suffered a severe heart attack. Although she was no longer able to lead her order, she left the sisters with her charism of love and concern for the missions.
She died on March 3, 1955 and was canonized by Pope John Paul II on October 1, 2000.
Christchurch, New Zealand, Feb 27, 2011 (CNA) - After a fierce earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand this week claimed the lives of 113 people, local Bishop Barry Jones announced on Feb. 25 that all schools and parishes in the area will remain closed until inspected by safety officials.
The Feb. 22 earthquake – which has been described as the country's worst natural disaster in history – killed 113 people, with a further 200 still reported missing. It struck at 12:51p.m. local time on Tuesday and registered as a 6.3 magnitude quake on the Richter scale.
Bishop Jones said that local Catholic schools and churches, many of which were significantly damaged, will remain off limits until engineers have ruled them safe for use.
The Sydney Archdiocese reported that Christchurch's Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament was severely damaged in the earthquake. The building lost its two towers and has severe cracks throughout its edifice. The cathedral had been closed for repairs since an earthquake in the area last September. The public have not been allowed inside within the last several months during the church's reconstruction.
Rescuers hoped that signs of life had been detected in the destroyed Holy Cross Catholic chapel in central Christchurch, but could not locate anyone as of Feb. 24. According to NZ Catholic paper, however, chapel administrator Fr. Raymond Schmack assured Bishop Jones that he was the last person to leave the chapel the day of the earthquake.
In Feb. 23 comments at the end of his general audience, Pope Benedict XVI asked Catholics to join him in prayer for the victims.
“At this time, my thoughts turn especially to the people there who are being severely tested by this tragedy,” he said.
He prayed that God relieve the survivors’ suffering and that he support all those involved in rescue work, Vatican Radio reports.
Archbishop Charles Daniel Balvo, the apostolic nuncio to New Zealand, said the earthquake in Christchurch is “far worse” than the one that hit the same area in September.
Earthquake victims are still trapped and the collapsed buildings are “so unstable that it is difficult for rescuers to find them,” he said.
“The city is still 80 percent without water and electricity and relief camps have been set up for the people,” he continued.
The archbishop told Vatican Radio that New Zealanders are grateful for the Pope’s message of solidarity and prayers.
“The New Zealanders are very resilient and very well organized,” he added. “They will do a great deal to help themselves.”
Vatican City, Feb 27, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Faith in God's unending love does not take away the struggle for a decent life, but it does liberate men and women from the things of this world and fear of the future, said Pope Benedict XVI from St. Peter's Square.
The Sunday Angelus prayer brought many pilgrims and Romans out to the square under the Pope's studio window despite a relatively cold day for Italy. Many of those present also took advantage of the traditional free entry to the Vatican Museums available to all comers every last Sunday of the month.
In his pre-Angelus message, Pope Benedict called Sunday's readings some of the most "touching" in the Bible.
"He who believes in God ... puts the search for his kingdom and his will in the first position," commented the pontiff, calling this attitude "precisely the opposite of fatalism."
"Faith in providence, in fact, does not dispense one of the difficult struggle for a decent life, but liberates from the anxiety for things and the fear of tomorrow," he added.
His remarks drew upon the brief first reading from Scripture, where the prophet Isaiah consoles Jerusalem in its misfortune. "Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you," he writes.
This invitation to have confidence in God's steadfast love is also present in the Gospel reading from Matthew, explained Pope Benedict.
Jesus exhorts his disciples to place their faith in the same providence that feeds the birds of the sky, "clothes" the wild flowers in the field and "knows man's necessities," the Pope recounted.
The Lord tells the disciples, "do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all."
Pope Benedict said that this discourse "could seem unrealistic, if not evasive" in light of the misery in which some people live. "In reality," he explained, "the Lord wants to make it clearly understood that you cannot serve two masters: God and riches."
Although Jesus' teaching is "clear and valid for all," it can be practiced in a variety of ways depending on one's vocation, continued the Pope. The Franciscan friar follows these words "more radically," for example, while the father of a family has the duty of providing for his wife and children.
"In any case, though, the Christian is distinguished by absolute trust in the Heavenly Father, as it was for Jesus. It is precisely the relationship with God the Father that gives meaning to the entire life of Christ, to His words, His actions of salvation, to His passion, death and resurrection.
"Jesus has demonstrated to us what it means to live with our feet well planted on the ground, attentive to the concrete situations of our neighbors, and at the same time keeping always in the heart in heaven, immersed in the mercy of God.
The Pope concluded by inviting prayers for Mary's intercession for the protection of individuals, the path of the Church and the events of history.
"In particular, we invoke her intercession so that we all learn to live according to a simpler and more sober lifestyle in daily activity and in respect for creation, which God has entrusted to our protection."
In his French greeting after the Angelus prayer, the Pope invited the faithful to be witnesses of God's love to all those around them and to pray "that justice and dialogue might prevail over violence and profit."