Denver, Colo., Sep 11, 2011 (CNA/Europa Press) - On Sept. 17, the Catholic Church celebrates the Italian cardinal and theologian St. Robert Bellarmine. One of the great saints of the Jesuit order, St. Robert has also been declared a Doctor of the Church and the patron of catechists.
Robert Bellarmine was born on October 4, 1542 in the Tuscan town of Montepulciano. His uncle was a cardinal who later became Pope Marcellus II. As a young man, Robert received his education from the Jesuit order, which had received written papal approval only two years before his birth.
In September of 1560, Robert entered the Jesuit order himself. He studied philosophy for three years in Rome, then taught the humanities until 1567, when he began a study of theology that lasted until 1569. The final stage of his training emphasized the refutation of Protestant errors.
Robert received ordination to the priesthood in Belgium, where his sermons drew crowds of both Catholics and Protestants. In 1576 he returned to Italy, and took up an academic position addressing theological controversies. The resulting work, his “Disputations,” became a classic of Catholic apologetics.
Near the end of the 1580s, the esteemed theologian became “Spiritual Father” to the Roman College. He served as a guide to St. Aloysius Gonzaga near the end of the young Jesuit's life, and helped produce the authoritative Latin text of the Bible called for by the recent Council of Trent.
Around the century's end Robert became an advisor to Pope Clement VIII. The Pope named him a cardinal in 1599, declaring him to be the most educated man in the Church. Robert played a part in a debate between Dominicans and Jesuits regarding grace, though the Pope later decided to appoint and consecrate him as the Archbishop of Capua.
The cardinal archbishop's three years in Capua stood out as an example of fidelity to the reforming spirit and decrees of the Council of Trent. He was considered as a possible Pope in two successive elections, but the thought of becoming Pope disturbed him and in the end he was never chosen.
In the early years of the 17th century, the cardinal took a public stand for the Church's freedom when it came under attack in Venice and England. He also attempted, though not successfully, to negotiate peace between the Vatican and his personal friend Galileo Galilei, over the scientist's insistence that not only the earth, but the entire universe, revolved around the sun.
Cardinal Bellarmine retired due to health problems in the summer of 1621. Two years before, he had set out his thoughts on the end of earthly life in a book titled “The Art of Dying Well.” In that work, the cardinal explained that preparing for death was life's most important business, since the state of one's soul at death would determine the person's eternal destiny.
St. Robert Bellarmine died on September 17, 1621. Pope Pius XI canonized him in 1931, and declared him to be a Doctor of the Church.
Kansas City, Mo., Sep 11, 2011 (CNA) - There was no way to let people know in advance, but yet they dug into their wallets and purses and they gave.
And who knows why? Maybe it was the bond that still exists from the decades until 1956 that Joplin, Mo., was part of the old Diocese of Kansas City.
Or maybe simply it was because people were hurting.
The sixth deadliest tornado in United States history struck Joplin on May 22, a Sunday evening.
Mike Halterman, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph, knew that the new Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri, serving Joplin and the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, had yet to hire its first permanent director, and the interim director, Kyle Schott, was already dealing with floods in southeast Missouri.
That very evening, Halterman contacted Schott, as well as Catholic Charities’ directors in the Diocese of Jefferson City and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
He knew the disaster was so great, that it wasn’t a matter of “Call us if we can help.” He knew it was time for Catholic Charities of Missouri to act.
“Teamwork,” Halterman told The Catholic Key. “We had a community that was hurting. It was easy to pull together.”
Halterman knew that Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri would need money as soon as possible.
He asked Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City – St. Joseph for permission to take up a special collection at all weekend Masses May 28-29 specifically for Charities’ tornado relief efforts in Joplin.
“Of course,” the bishop answered immediately.
Kathie Conwell, the Kansas City-St. Joseph Catholic Charities’ communications director, then got the word out to all parishes.
And with no more advance notice that a pastor saying, “We will be taking up a second collection for Joplin,” the money poured in — $134,833.68 just from people in the pews over the Memorial Day holiday weekend, giving from what cash they happened to have at Mass that day.
In addition, Conwell set up a link on the local Catholic Charities’ Web site where donations could be earmarked for Joplin. That brought in another $43,000.
How important is that money?
“It was critical,” said Maura Taylor, who began her job as the first executive director of Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri on June 13.
“The generosity of parishioners of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has been amazing,” Taylor said.
It came as no surprise to Halterman.
“They are part of the team,” Halterman said of the Catholics of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
“It’s not just the money. They care,” he said. “The come to the table every time there is a need.”
And Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph didn’t just send money.
Halterman assembled his staff and asked for two volunteers to join him and Conwell to provide on-site assistance in Joplin, for five days beginning May 26. That meant they would be giving up their holiday weekend with their families.
Case managers Jamie Wiggington and Patti O’Shea immediately stepped up.
The Kansas City-St. Joseph team arrived at St. Peter the Apostle Parish, the only parish of the city’s two Catholic parishes, left standing.
Conwell said that the pastor, Father J. Friedel, ask them first to turn the gym at adjacent McAuley High School into a relief center.
“When we got there, Father J. said, ‘Thank God, the cavalry is here!’” Conwell said. “He had been holding things together as best he could, but he needed us to help organize.”
Within hours, the high school gym became a relief distribution center, with clothes organized by size, and food, water and other essentials that were arriving by the truckload from all over the region and nation, including impromptu efforts led by parishes in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
There was no shortage of volunteer manpower, Conwell said.
“People were coming from all over. They were coming from Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas,” she said. “They would show up and say, ‘We’ve come to help Joplin.’”
Father Friedel had another urgent request.
Knowing that his weekend Masses would be packed with parishioners from the destroyed St. Mary’s Parish who had lost family and everything they owned, Father Friedel wanted to serve hot meals after each of the four weekend Masses to anyone who wanted one and asked the Kansas City response team to organize it.
“He wanted everything up and running by 5 o’clock Mass on Saturday. We had it ready that morning,” Halterman said.
“God bless the Knights of Columbus,” Conwell said. “They set up a mobile kitchen right away.”
The Kansas City team worked long and hard in Joplin. But Halterman and Conwell said they got far more in return.
The parishioners of the leveled St. Mary’s began salvaging whatever items they could on the day after the tornado. They found their Nativity set, but also unconsecrated communion bread and wine.
Father Friedel said the St. Mary’s bread and wine would be the bread and wine for the weekend Masses at St. Peter the Apostle, which he would concelebrate with St. Mary pastor Father Justin Monaghan, and Springfield-Cape Girardeau Bishop James V. Johnston.
The Kansas City team attended all four Masses.
“It was an experience I will never forget,” Halterman said. “In all my forty-plus years of my career, I have never been impacted like that. We were serving people in need at the worst time of their lives.”
At one Mass, Edie Howard came surrounded by surviving family and friends. Edie had taken off work to meet her husband, Rusty, and two children, daughter Harli Jayce, 5, and son Hayze Cole, for dinner. They had just said their goodbyes, and Edie was driving back to work when the tornado struck.
Edie immediately called Rusty who assured her that he and the children would seek refuge in the Home Depot on Range Line Drive. Their bodies were found under the rubble of a collapsed wall, the children clutched in their father’s arms.
In his homilies at each Mass, Father Friedel told the church packed with broken hearts that the world was looking to Joplin to be a sign of triumph over tragedy.
“Despite the fact that this tornado has ripped through our community and tattered our hearts, we still come here today to be reminded of the Word and to celebrate the Eucharist,” he said.
“Without those things in our lives, we cannot be who the Lord calls us to be in this time and in this place,” Father Friedel said.
He also assured the people of St. Mary’s that “however long it is that you are going to be with us, please know that we do not see you as guests. We see you as part of our larger Catholic family here in Joplin. You have a home here in St. Peter’s as long as you want it or need it.”
“The world is looking to us,” Father Friedel said. “Even though we are hurt, we still have to proclaim a message of hope. We proclaim that Christ is living among us, and that is why we are here today.
“Christ is our reason for hope,” he said.
“‘I will come to you,’ he promised, and the Lord does come to us today, in his Word and at this table, and because he lives, we live,” Father Friedel said.
“Scarred though we are, tears continuing to flow down our faces, as people of faith we need to continue to proclaim that our Lord lives, and because he lives, we live.”
Though the debris has been cleared, Joplin will need the help of people who care for years, said Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri director Maura Taylor.
But she said the money that has come in from around the nation, including all four Catholic dioceses in Missouri, has already made a tremendous difference.
Kristie lost her home and sent her two teen daughters to live with an uncle in Texas. She recently obtained a trailer provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), but did not have the money to bring her daughters home. Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri was able to buy the girls bus tickets and food for the trip home.
Rebecca lost her job when the nursing home she worked at was destroyed in the tornado. She protected her patients during the storm, then worked 24 hours without rest while they were relocated. With no job, her landlord threatened her with eviction. Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri paid her back-rent and bought her more time to find a job.
Regina and her family lost their home. After weeks of searching, they finally found a decent rental home, but couldn’t afford the security deposit and first month’s rent. Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri paid it.
Taylor said that since the tornado, Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri has served 4,632 people in 1,562 households. Of those households, nearly 60 percent are receiving ongoing, long-term case management services.
Taylor said Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri still needs cash donations for rent and utility assistance, temporary housing, and prescription medications.
“The needs of so many of the survivors are almost overwhelming,” she said.
“With so little affordable housing available, many are living in tent cities or their cars,” Taylor said. “The extreme heat in Joplin is making life even more difficult.”
Halterman said that Catholic Charities of Kansas City-St. Joseph will continue to help, as will the people of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.
“This is what our people are all about, reaching into their wallets out of the goodness of their hearts and giving to people in need,” he said.
“It makes me proud of our staff, proud of our people, and proud to be Catholic,” Halterman said.
Printed with permission from the Catholic Key, newspaper for the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Missouri.
Washington D.C., Sep 11, 2011 (CNA) - New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan hopes the United States can overcome social, economic, and religious troubles by recovering the “spirit of unity” that prevailed after the Sept. 11 attacks 10 years ago.
“Ten years ago we came together across religious, political, social and ethnic lines to stand as one people to heal wounds and defend against terrorism,” wrote Archbishop Dolan, who currently serves as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a Sept. 8 statement released by the conference.
“As we face today's challenges of people out of work, families struggling, and the continuing dangers of wars and terrorism, let us summon the 9/11 spirit of unity to confront our challenges.”
Archbishop Dolan described the 10th anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and United Flight 93 as “a time for remembrance, resolve and renewal.”
“In a special way,” he wrote, “we recall the selfless first responders—firefighters, police, chaplains, emergency workers, and other brave persons—who risked, and many times lost, their lives in their courageous efforts to save others.”
The archbishop urged Americans to look for renewal through prayer and service, as many did after the attacks.
“We turned to prayer, and then turned to one another to offer help and support,” the archbishop recalled. “Hands were folded in prayer and opened in service to those who had lost so much.”
He observed that compassionate faith is “the greatest resource we have” in the struggle to “reject hatred and resist terrorism.”
The U.S. bishops, Archbishop Dolan said, are committed to rejecting “extreme ideologies that perversely misuse religion,” while embracing “persons of all religions, including our Muslim neighbors.”
With regard to Islamic extremism, he said, the bishops “steadfastly refrain from blaming the many for the actions of a few.”
The New York archbishop recalled those whom the terrorists killed on 9/11, particularly the “selfless first responders – firefighters, police, chaplains, emergency workers, and other brave persons – who risked, and many times lost, their lives in their courageous efforts to save others.”
He also called to mind the “continuing sacrifices” of who have died in the wars that resulted directly or indirectly from 9/11, and called for a “responsible end to the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.”
“Let us pray that the lasting legacy of 9/11 is not fear, but rather hope for a world renewed,” Archbishop Dolan stated.
He encouraged the Church to embrace Pope Benedict XVI's words during his 2008 visit to Ground Zero, when the Pope prayed at what he called the “scene of incredible violence and pain.”
During that visit, the Pope prayed that “those whose lives were spared, may live so that the lives lost here may not have been lost in vain.”
Pope Benedict also asked God, on that occasion, to grant “the wisdom and courage to work tirelessly for a world where true peace and love reign, among nations and in the hearts of all.”
Rome, Italy, Sep 11, 2011 (CNA/EWTN News) - At the midday recitation of the Angelus, Pope Benedict marked the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks with a call for a rejection of violence and for a “Eucharistic spirituality” that rejects indifference towards others.
“I invite the leaders of nations and men of good will to always refuse violence as the solution to problems, to resist the temptation toward hatred and to work in society, inspired by the principles of solidarity, justice and peace,” he said.
He entrusted the attacks’ victims and their families to “the Lord of Life.”
The Pope also wrote a Sept. 11 letter to the U.S. bishops’ conference president Archbishop Timothy Dolan saying that terrorism cannot be justified under any circumstances.
“Every human life is precious in God's sight and no effort should be spared in the attempt to promote throughout the world a genuine respect for the inalienable rights and dignity of individuals and peoples everywhere,” he said.
Pope Benedict delivered his Angelus message at a shipyard in the Adriatic port of Ancona, where he presided at the conclusion of the 25th Italian National Eucharistic Congress. An estimated 100,000 people attended Sunday Mass with the Pope, Vatican Radio reports.
The Pope’s homily at Sunday Mass reflected on the congress’ theme “The Eucharist for Everyday Life.”
In giving himself daily in the Eucharist, he explained, God offers “the path to avoid indifference to the fate of our brothers and sisters, to enter the same logic of love and (the) gift of sacrifice of the Cross.”
“Those who know how to kneel before the Eucharist, those who receive the body of Christ cannot fail to be attentive, in the unfolding of the day, to situations unworthy of man and (to) know firsthand how to bend over the needy, how to break bread with the hungry, how to share water with the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned.”
He praised a “Eucharistic spirituality” as an antidote to “individualism and selfishness.” This spirituality leads to the rediscovery of gratuity and the centrality of relationships, especially our relationship with God.
“Man is incapable of giving life by himself. He can only be understood starting from God. It is our relationship with Him that gives consistency to our humanity and makes our lives good and right,” the Pope commented.