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Archive of March 18, 2012

California woman’s sainthood cause opened by Monterey diocese

Monterey, Calif., Mar 18, 2012 (CNA) -

The Vatican is reviewing documents that would allow the cause of sainthood to go forward for a wife, mother, and possible mystic who was baptized Catholic in 1935 after becoming disillusioned with the Mormon faith.

Cora Evans reported visions of Jesus and the saints and a mission from Jesus to promote the “Mystical Humanity of Christ,” the idea that Christ is always within us and we should behave always as Christ would, said Mike McDevitt, a parishioner at Our Lady of the Pillar in Half Moon Bay, who is the promoter of Evans’ cause of sainthood. The spirituality is also focused on praying the Mass.

Evans’ two children were baptized with her in Ogden, Utah, and her husband, Mack, became Catholic shortly afterward, with many family and friends following her from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints into the Catholic Church, said McDevitt. Born in 1904, she died in Boulder Creek, near Monterey, March 30, 1957. She moved to Southern California in 1941 and to Boulder Creek, Calif. in 1956.

“Cora loved the Mormons. She considered the Mormons her heritage people,” said McDevitt. “She wanted them to know who Jesus was and she wanted them to have the Eucharist. She prayed for Mormons.”

Evans rejected the Mormon faith in 1924, after experiencing the secret rituals of Mormon marriage in the temple in Salt Lake City, for what she considered to be false teachings about God, and began a 10-year search for the true religion, according to a biography presented to the Vatican in February 2011. Evans became Catholic shortly after listening to the Catholic radio hour on Dec. 9, 1934, when she was too sick to change the station despite a great aversion to Catholicism, McDevitt said. She went to nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church with questions because what she heard was nothing like what she had been taught about Catholicism, he said. She was baptized March 30, 1935.

The promoters of Evans’ cause are waiting for the Vatican to rule if the investigation can go forward by giving a Nihil Obstat, or “no objection.”

Jesus as well as many saints reportedly appeared multiple times to Evans, according to the two-page chronology sent by Monterey Bishop Richard Garcia to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints in Rome.

In a reported vision Dec. 24, 1946, Jesus entrusted Evans with the mission “to promulgate the Mystical Humanity of Christ (the Divine Indwelling) within souls – as a way of prayer in the United States and throughout the world. Jesus promises to foster the devotion,” according to the document.

Was this a true vision or a true mission from Jesus? That is what the process is designed to discover, said Father Joseph Grimaldi, a canon lawyer who was appointed by Bishop Garcia as the postulator for the Cora Evans sainthood cause. A postulator guides the process forward. Her numerous writings recording her visions, as yet unpublished, have been reviewed by one theologian and found without fault, said Father Grimaldi, but the priest said more reviews will be necessary.

“The case seems pretty hopeful despite the fact that Cora Evans is relatively unknown,” said Father Grimaldi. Father Grimaldi was involved with verifying the miracle that led to the canonization of St. Damien of Molokai and with the exhumation of the body of one of St. Damien’s helpers, Blessed Marianne Cope, who will be canonized Oct. 21.

For the Catholic Church to declare someone a saint, a miracle must occur and be verified after the cause of sainthood is opened. That will lead to the person being beatified, or declared Blessed. After beatification, another miracle must occur and be verified, for canonization.

“She is known particularly for her spirituality. She might be a good example of someone who was married, led a very good, very holy life, doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way,” Father Grimaldi said.

Evans experienced the stigmata, the wounds of Jesus on the cross, according to reports, but that in itself is not a guarantee of canonization, Father Grimaldi said.

One positive indication is that McDevitt’s retreats focused on the mystical humanity of Christ are garnering more attention, Father Grimaldi said. “He’s been giving these retreats on a regular basis and they are well received,” the priest said, noting that about 80 have been presented, many at parishes of the Archdiocese of San Francisco. Still, Father Grimaldi said, “We have a long ways to go.”

Posted with permission from Catholic San Francisco, official newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco.

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St. Enda, Irish monastic pioneer, remembered March 21

Denver, Colo., Mar 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On March 21, four days after the feast day of Ireland's patron Saint Patrick, the Catholic Church honors Saint Enda of Aran, a warrior-turned-monk considered to be one of the founders of Irish monasticism.

Born during the fifth century, Enda inherited control of a large territory in present-day Northern Ireland from his father Conall. His sister Fanchea, however, had already embraced consecrated religious life with a community in Meath, and looked unfavorably on the battles and conquests of her brother.

Enda is said to have made a deal with his sister, promising to change his ways if he could marry one of the young women of her convent. But this was a ruse on Fanchea's part, as the promised girl soon died. Fanchea forced him to view the girl's corpse, to teach him that he, too, would face death and judgment.

In this way, Fanchea – whom the Church also remembers as a saint – succeeded in turning her brother not only from violence, but even from marriage. He left Ireland for several years, during which time he became a monk and was ordained as a priest.

Upon his return to Ireland, he petitioned his King Aengus of Munster – who was married to another of Enda's sisters – to grant him land for a monastic settlement on the Aran Islands, a beautiful but austere location near Galway Bay off Ireland's west coast.

During its early years, Enda's island mission had around 150 monks. As the community grew, he divided up the territory between his disciples, who founded their own monasteries to accommodate the large number of vocations.

Enda did not found a religious order in the modern sense, but he did hold a position of authority and leadership over the monastic settlements of Aran – which became known as “Aran of the Saints,” renowned for the monks' strict rule of life and passionate love for God.

While living on an Irish island, Enda's monks imitated the asceticism and simplicity of the earliest Egytian desert hermits.

The monks of Aran lived alone in their stone cells, slept on the ground, ate together in silence, and survived by farming and fishing. St. Enda's monastic rule, like those of St. Basil in the Greek East and St. Benedict in the Latin West, set aside many hours for prayer and the study of scripture.

During his own lifetime, Enda's monastic settlement on the Aran islands became an important pilgrimage destination, as well as a center for the evangelizations of surrounding areas. At least two dozen canonized individuals had some association with “Aran of the Saints.”

St. Enda himself died in old age around the year 530. An early chronicler of his life declared that it would “never be known until the day of judgment, the number of saints whose bodies lie in the soil of Aran,” on account of the onetime-warrior's response to God's surprising call.

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Intervention could tear Syria apart, Melkite patriarch warns

Rome, Italy, Mar 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Western military aid to Syrian rebels could prove disastrous for the country, according to the Damascus-based head of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church.

“It is time now to have some accord,” Patriarch Gregorios III told CNA on March 15, “and not to arm the opposition, not to attack the regime.”

There is a window of opportunity, he said, to “call both sides” to negotiate and prevent a civil war. But if this opportunity passes, “it will be more difficult because the opposition will be united, maybe more armed, and then more blood. Then it is finished.”

“In order to avoid this very, very sorrowful, very dark end, let us go the way of concord, of dialogue.”

The Eastern Catholic leader spoke to CNA shortly after he met with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican, to discuss the Church's prospects in the midst of a conflict that is drawing worldwide attention.

That same day, the Patriarch confirmed that Pope Benedict would be visiting Lebanon from Sept. 14-16, with the possibility of a stop in Syria “if the situation improves.”

Syrian Christians and other religious minorities are concerned about what the future may hold, if the regime of President Bashar al-Assad collapses. The worst-case scenario is a power struggle between different Muslim groups, as has occurred in Iraq.

But Patriarch Gregorios believes there are alternatives to a sudden regime change that could plunge the country into chaos. He is also convinced that the Church can help the cause of peace in the “shaken Arab world” at large.

“I am very convinced that all Syrians can go on a new way together. It is my vision as a Christian. And my hope is that this vision can also be taken into consideration by my partners in Europe.”

In his own comments on the Syrian situation, Pope Benedict has favored a path of negotiation and  dialogue between the regime and its opponents. Patriarch Gregorios said the Pope was “very attentive” to the vision he outlined, for Christians “to be instruments of peace in the Middle East.”

“Unless we come to a calm, we cannot have a real 'spring,'” said the patriarch. He wants to see the Arab world united and peaceful, not divided along the fault-lines of religious identity and political agendas.

During 2011, Patriarch Gregorios called on Western leaders not to support the revolutions taking place in several Arab countries. Instead, he urged them to back gradual reforms and changes, in order to avoid destabilizing complex and sometimes volatile situations.

In Thursday's interview, he stressed Western countries' duty to help Syria in a responsible and peaceful way. What is needed, he said, is not arms and incitement, but “dialogue, not only between Syrians and Syrians, but a call to dialogue in the Arab world, a call to unity in the Arab world.”

He also cautioned Western observers of the Syrian conflict against developing a distorted idea of what is happening in his country.

“We have much disinformation, misinformation and manipulation,” he noted. “In Damascus, I really live in peace, (with) schools, churches, businesses and so on. The suburbs are sometimes calm, sometimes not. And there are some times when it is very dangerous, other times when it is not.”

During the March 15 press conference at the Melkite headquarters in Rome, he indicated that some Western media outlets should scrutinize their sources more carefully.

“I have first-hand information,” he told reporters, contrasting this with “information from the television.”

“My best friend, a Maronite bishop named Paul Zayah, has a nephew who lives in Dubai. Walking in the street on his way to work, he hears behind him a person who picks up his cellphone and says, 'I'm in Homs now. I can see how the army of the regime is attacking the houses, women, mothers and children.'”

“That's 'news' from a 'primary source,' fresh from the town of 'Homs,' – but he was in Dubai,” the Melkite patriarch said. “And this goes on and on.”

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Listen to Jesus’ voice in the desert of Lent, Pope tells Christians

Vatican City, Mar 18, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) -

Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Christians to walk with Jesus across the desert of Lent, to “listen more closely to the voice of God, and to unmask the temptations that speak within each of us.”

Before praying the traditional Sunday Angelus prayer at noon, Pope Benedict offered those pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square a reflection on how Lent is a “journey with Jesus through the desert.”

“On the horizon of the desert looms the Cross,” he said. “Jesus knows that it is the culmination of his mission: in fact, the Cross of Christ is the height of love, which gives us salvation.

“He himself says in today's Gospel: ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life,’” the Pope recalled.

He based his words on the Gospel reading from St. John for the fourth Sunday of Lent, a day that is popularly known as Laetare (Rejoice) Sunday, which marks the halfway point of the penitential season.

The Pope explained that in a similar way to how the Jews were healed from poisonous snake bites in the wilderness when they looked at the bronze serpent Moses created, so too are Christians healed of their sins by gazing upon Christ on the cross.

“Jesus will be lifted upon the Cross,” he said, “that whoever is in danger of death because of sin, turning in faith to Him who died for us, is saved. For God -- St. John writes – ‘did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.’”

The Pope brought his remarks to a close by looking ahead to the March 19 Solemnity of St. Joseph, after whom he is named, and his upcoming March 23-29 trip to Mexico and Cuba.

“Dear friends, tomorrow we celebrate the feast of St. Joseph. I sincerely thank all those who have remembered me in prayer in the days before my name day. In particular, I ask you to pray for the apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba that I will begin next Friday.”

He entrusted the trip to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is “so loved and revered in these two countries that I am going to visit.”

After praying the Angelus, Pope Benedict offered greetings in multiple languages to those present. He urged English-speaking pilgrims to keep their eyes fixed upon the goal of Lent, “when we will accompany our Lord on the path to Calvary, so as to rise with him to new life.”

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Catholicism offers love lessons contraception fails to teach

New York City, N.Y., Mar 18, 2012 (CNA) - Proponents of the recent Health and Human Services contraceptive coverage mandate often criticize Catholic teachings. Yet how many have truly considered the reasons behind our opposition to artificial birth control?

Have they explored research linking contraceptive use to higher rates of divorce, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion?

I’ve come to embrace Catholic sexual teachings not because I was taught them from childhood (I was not) but through my own reflection. As a Harvard undergrad and now a Princeton Ph.D. student, I’ve engaged with defenders of radical feminism and sexual liberalism, yet I find the Catholic position more convincing.

Any informed citizen — especially anyone inclined to dismiss Catholic sexual teachings as obsolete or anti-woman — ought to know some basics about the Catholic perspective.

First, the concern for women who need birth control pills as a hormone treatment is a nonissue. As Pope Paul VI’s encyclical "Humanae Vitae" states, medications necessary to treat hormonal imbalances are morally unproblematic, even if infertility is a side effect. Mandating insurance coverage for such treatments would be acceptable from a Catholic perspective. Catholicism is not against treating diseases; it is against treating fertility as if it were a disease.

"Humanae Vitae" is also noteworthy for predicting that liberal sexual ideology, and the “contraceptive mentality” it fosters, will lead to the treatment of women as sex objects. Indeed, our post sexual revolution culture is marked by the objectification of women.

The feminization of poverty (60 percent of those in poverty are single mothers) was an equally predictable result of the higher divorce and out-of-wedlock pregnancy rates that came in the wake of sexual “liberation.”

Contraceptive use increases unplanned pregnancies because when you make a risky behavior less risky, people engage in more of it. Two-thirds of unplanned pregnancies occur among women using birth control.

That also means more abortion — the ultimate backup “contraceptive.” Contraceptives fail at least 10 to 15 percent of the time, with 54 percent of women having abortions using contraception the month they became pregnant, according to the Guttmacher Institute. And, it is important to note, some “contraceptives” can themselves cause abortions — for example, “Ella,” which works similarly to the abortion drug RU-486.Catholicism teaches that sex is about committed love. Relationships based on sensual attraction don’t offer what we’re really longing for — love that endures even when age or illness take their toll.

Sex is powerful body language that says, “I give myself to you completely and for the rest of my life.” To say that with your body when you haven’t said it with your heart and mind is like nodding “yes” while thinking “no.”

The prospect of pregnancy is a nagging reminder that sex inherently calls for total, life-long commitment. Contraception undermines that because it involves making a complete gift of your self while intentionally holding back the capacity to procreate, which is essential to that gift. 

Catholicism teaches that sexual union is profoundly good, within marriage and with openness to the gift of new life — the only context in which you actually mean what your bodies are saying.

This doesn’t imply having as many children as possible — in fact, natural family planning methods are 99 percent effective when used correctly — though it does imply a huge shift in our cultural understanding of sex.

The “quick fix” sexual culture has been tried and found sorely wanting. Catholicism reminds us that there is another option, and challenges us not to settle for anything less than genuine love.

Moschella is a doctoral candidate in political philosophy at Princeton University, specializing in parental rights in education.

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