Vatican City, Jun 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) -
The Eucharist is the medicine which can heal our individualist society, Pope Benedict XVI said in his midday Angelus address on Corpus Christi Sunday.
“In an increasingly individualistic culture in which Western societies are immersed - and which is tending to spread throughout the world - the Eucharist is a kind of ‘antidote’ which operates in the minds and hearts of believers and is continually sowing in them the logic of communion, of service, of sharing - in other words, the logic of the Gospel,” said Pope Benedict to pilgrims in St. Peter's Square on June 26.
Catholics believe that the bread and wine offered by Christ at the Last Supper literally became his body and blood - and that this same miracle is repeated by priests at every Mass since. Hence the name of today’s festivity – "Corpus Christi" Sunday or "Body of Christ" Sunday.
“From the Eucharist,” observed the Pope, “the Risen Christ is truly present among his disciples and working with the power of the Holy Spirit. And in the following generations through the centuries, the Church, despite the limitations and human errors, has continued to be a force for communion throughout the world.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Eucharist as the “source and summit” of Christian life. As the Pope bluntly put it today, “without the Eucharist, the Church simply does not exist.”
The Pope noted this belief in the centrality of the Eucharist has manifested itself throughout the history of the Church, beginning with the earliest Christian communities in Jerusalem who shared all possessions in common.
“From what came all this? From the Eucharist that is the Risen Christ, truly present among his disciples and working with the power of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said.
He then drew upon the example of the fourth century Abitene martyrs from North Africa who chose to die rather than deprive themselves of Sunday Mass in the face of Roman persecution. They proclaimed “Sine Dominico non possumus - without the ‘Dominicum’ - without the Sunday Eucharist, we cannot live.”
Pope Benedict concluded by urging all pilgrims to turn to the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was described by Pope John Paul II as the “Woman of the Eucharist.”
“At her school, our lives become fully ‘Eucharistic,’ open to God and others, capable of transforming evil into good with the power of love, striving to promote unity, fellowship, brotherhood.”
Vatican City, Jun 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles and several hundred faithful from his archdiocese are nine time zones away from home this week to celebrate his reception of the pallium and the Feast of Corpus Christi.
On the first day of a five-day pilgrimage, around 100 people from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles joined Archbishop Gomez for Mass in Rome’s beautiful St. Ignatius of Loyola Church.
“On our pilgrimage,” he told those gathered, “we ask for the grace to have a strong faith, to really live the real presence of Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, to find a way to receive Jesus in Holy Communion as often as we can and to find the time to pray before the Blessed Sacrament.”
“I really believe that the allure of our Church in our country will be based on our devotion to Jesus in the Eucharist,” he said during the homily.
The archbishop noted Mother Teresa’s conviction that prayer before the Blessed Sacrament improves one’s spiritual life. The greatest moments at World Youth Days, he added, are the times set aside for Eucharistic adoration.
Gomez concelebrated the Mass for the Feast of Corpus Christi with his predecessor Cardinal Roger Mahony and a dozen other priests.
More than 150 other pilgrims will join them in the next few days as the archbishop prepares to receive the pallium from Pope Benedict XVI on June 29, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The pallium is a white woolen liturgical vestment emblazoned with six black crosses. It symbolizes an archbishop’s pastoral authority and his unity with the head of the Catholic Church, the Pope.
More than 40 other new metropolitan archbishops from around the world will receive a pallium this week at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Archbishop Gomez asked for prayers for the upcoming ceremony.
Among the pilgrim group representing Los Angeles, the largest archdiocese in the U.S., were Art and Barbara Najera who raised their five children in Santa Barbara, Calif.
The couple, along with their son Fr. Art Najera, are showing support for the archbishop this week.
Mrs. Najera told CNA that she was “thrilled” for Archbishop Gomez, and happy to be “home” in Rome.
“This is the home of our Church. And for my son to be able to come, it’s a real thrill to be able to be here and see his boss, basically.”
“We’re here also to honor the whole occasion,” said her husband. “Our new bishop, Archbishop Jose Gomez, he needs our prayers because he has a huge job being the archbishop of Los Angeles.
“He has a lot of work to do there. And we just pray that God will give him all of the strength and health to persevere and get the job done.”
Wednesday’s Papal Mass and Imposition of the Pallium will be broadcast in the U.S. by EWTN.
Pretoria, South Africa, Jun 26, 2011 (CNA) - The Catholic bishops of Southern Africa say that their government’s possible bailout of the small Kingdom of Swaziland should make government reforms a condition of the aid.
Swaziland, ruled by King Mswati III, is the last absolute monarchy in Africa.
“We believe that the Swaziland Government must abandon or at least reform the ‘Tinkhundla’ system of governance of royal favor and alliance which is a breeding place for corruption and greed.
“Monies intended for alleviating the people’s suffering are diverted to support the lavish lifestyle of the monarchy,” Cardinal Wilfrid Napier said in a June 24 statement from the Southern African Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“The people of Swaziland love their king and country, but the conditions that have created this crisis must not be disregarded by South Africa in considering a bailout.”
The Swaziland government has requested as much as $1.45 billion in aid. The country of about 1.4 million people has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in the world, at 26 percent, and the lowest life expectancy at 32 years. Its unemployment rate is 40 percent and rising, while 70 percent of its population lives on less than $6 per day.
A state of emergency in the country has also curtailed freedom of expression, association and dissent for the past 37 years.
The bishops said the South African government should make the loan conditional on Swaziland’s revocation of the state of emergency, its recognition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, its establishment of a “democratic process” for writing a new constitution, and the amendment of the constitution to reinstate “the full range of human rights.”
The conference said the bailout should also require that King Mswati enter into “meaningful dialogue” with his people to “facilitate movement towards true democracy.” No bailout money, the prelates insisted, should go directly or indirectly to fund the monarchy.
The bishops’ concerns echo those of the South Africa government. The underground Swaziland Solidarity Network said Africa’s biggest economy would only agree to a bailout if Mswati allows the return of democratic rule, Reuters reports.
South Africa's powerful COSATU union federation has also asked that aid be provided only if democracy is advanced.
Swaziland turned to South Africa after getting little help from the International Monetary Fund. The African Development Bank also refused a $150 million loan request.
King Mswati has at least a dozen wives and an estimated personal fortune of $200 million.
The Swaziland government has begun cutting the salaries of its top earners, including a 10 percent reduction in the cabinet’s pay. Civil service unions are resisting salary cuts for lower-paid workers.
The country’s fiscal crisis was brought on by a 60 percent drop in 2010 revenues from a regional customs union, the government’s main source of income, Agence France Presse reports.
The drop was partly caused by a decline in regional trade, but mainly because of a change in the formula used to distribute custom earnings. Swaziland failed to budget for the change.
Finance Minister Majozi Sithole has said state coffers are losing up to $11 million per month because of corruption.
Denver, Colo., Jun 26, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - On June 27, Roman Catholics will honor St. Cyril of Alexandria. An Egyptian bishop and theologian, he is best known for his role in the Council of Ephesus, where the Church confirmed that Christ is both God and man in one person. The Eastern churches celebrate St. Cyril of Alexandria on June 9.
Cyril was most likely born in Alexandria, the metropolis of ancient Egypt, between 370 and 380. From his writings, it appears he received a solid literary and theological education. Along with his uncle, Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria, he played a role in an early fifth-century dispute between the Egyptian and Greek churches. There is evidence he may have been a monk before becoming a bishop.
When Theophilus died in 412, Cyril was chosen to succeed him at the head of the Egyptian Church. He continued his uncle's policy of insisting on Alexandria's preeminence within the Church over Constantinople, despite the political prominence of the imperial capital. The two Eastern churches eventually re-established communion in approximately 418.
Ten years later, however, a theological dispute caused a new break between Alexandria and Constantinople. Cyril's reputation as a theologian, and later Doctor of the Church, arose from his defense of Catholic orthodoxy during this time.
In 428, a monk named Nestorius became the new Patriarch of Constantinople. It became clear that Nestorius was not willing to use the term “Mother of God” (“Theotokos”) to describe the Virgin Mary. Instead, he insisted on the term “Mother of Christ” (“Christotokos”).
During the fourth century, the Greek Church had already held two ecumenical councils to confirm Christ's eternal preexistence as God prior to his incarnation as a man. From this perennial belief, it followed logically that Mary was the mother of God. Veneration of Mary as “Theotokos” confirmed the doctrine of the incarnation, and Christ's status as equal to the God the Father.
Nestorius insisted that he, too, held these doctrines. But to Cyril, and many others, his refusal to acknowledge Mary as the Mother of God seemed to reveal a heretical view of Christ which would split him into two united but distinct persons: one fully human and born of Mary, the other fully divine and not subject to birth or death.
Cyril responded to this heretical tendency first through a series of letters to Nestorius (which are still in existence and studied today), then through an appeal to the Pope, and finally through the summoning of an ecumenical council in 431. Cyril presided over this council, stating that he was “filling the place of the most holy and blessed Archbishop of the Roman Church,” Pope Celestine, who had authorized it.
The council was a tumultuous affair. Patriarch John of Antioch, a friend of Nestorius, came to the city and convened a rival council which sought to condemn and depose Cyril. Tension between the advocates of Cyril and Nestorius erupted into physical violence at times, and both parties sought to convince the emperor in Constantinople to back their position.
During the council, which ran from June 22 to July 31 of the year 431, Cyril brilliantly defended the orthodox belief in Christ as a single eternally divine person who also became incarnate as a man. The council condemned Nestorius, who was deposed as patriarch and later suffered exile. Cyril, however, reconciled with John and many of the other Antiochian theologians who once supported Nestorius.
St. Cyril of Alexandria died on June 27, 444, having been a bishop for nearly 32 years. Long celebrated as a saint, particularly in the Eastern Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, he was declared a Doctor of the Church in 1883.
Denver, Colo., Jun 26, 2011 (CNA) - Joseph Aloysius Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, was ordained a priest June 29, 1951, in his native Germany. This year marks the 60th anniversary of his priestly ordination.
To honor the pontiff and this milestone, the Vatican Congregation for Clergy is encouraging Catholics worldwide to participate in 60 hours of eucharistic adoration to pray for the sanctification of the clergy and the gift of new priestly vocations.
“To have a spiritual observance of the Holy Father’s anniversary is significant; 60 years of priestly ordination is an important milestone,” said Deacon Charles Parker, director of liturgy for the Denver Archdiocese. “For the Holy Father to then turn that anniversary into something greater for the universal Church shows his ultimate care as the supreme shepherd of the Church for the flock entrusted to him.”
To mark the event in the Archdiocese of Denver, 60 hours of eucharistic adoration will be hosted over five days: June 27 (feast of Sts. Peter and Paul) through July 1, from 6 a.m.-6 p.m.; with the exception of June 29, when hours will be 9 a.m.-9 p.m. to accommodate family and work schedules.
The devotion will be held in the historic Christ the King Chapel at the St. John Vianney Theological Seminary on the campus of the John Paul II Center at 1300 S. Steele St. in Denver.
“It seemed fitting that we pray before the Blessed Sacrament for the gift of new vocations at one of the seminary chapels where the men are formed,” said Deacon Parker, adding that it is a rare opportunity for the public to visit the chapel.
“The seminary chapel isn’t always accessible to the public,” he said. “It’s a beautiful place to pray; and to take advantage of coming to the seminary to pray in an exquisite chapel for this cause is an opportunity that doesn’t happen very often.”
Following 6 p.m. Benediction on Monday, June 27 and Friday, July 1, Deacon Samuel Morehead, a seminarian at St. John Vianney, will provide 30-minute tours of the chapel.
The 8,000-square-foot chapel was dedicated July 17, 1931, in a ceremony presided by Bishop Urban J. Vehr, installed as bishop of Denver the preceding day. In 1989 it was added to the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior.
Chapel architect Jules Benoit Benedict, who also designed Denver’s Holy Ghost Church and the boathouse at Washington Park, regarded the seminary chapel as “his masterpiece.”
The architectural style of the classical Roman basilica is described as Lombard, conforming to the Romanesque style in Lombardy in northern Italy. The chapel is known for its brick tapestry walls and German stained glass windows, including 14 windows in the nave that reflect teachings about the priesthood.
The daily devotions will open at 6 a.m. with solemn exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and devotional hymns; at 10 a.m. recitation of the rosary; at 2 p.m. eucharistic reading; and close at 6 p.m. with solemn reposition and Benediction.
The exception is Wednesday, June 29, when the schedule will be as follows: 9 a.m. exposition and hymns, 2 p.m. rosary, 6 p.m. eucharistic reading and 9 p.m. reposition and Benediction.
“We hope that people come throughout the five days,” Deacon Parker said. “It’s a significant event in the life of the Church and a moment of profound grace for all of us to come together and to pray—when we don’t have priests, we don’t have all the sacraments.”
The concluding day, July 1, is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and World Day of Prayer for Priests. For the occasion, the U.S. bishops designed a prayer card that can be downloaded at www.foryourvocation.org. Copies of the prayer card will be available at Christ the King Chapel during the devotion week.
Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Denver, Colo.