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Archive of August 26, 2012

Pope Benedict: insincerity is 'the mark of the devil'

Vatican City, Aug 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that a lack of sincerity in life is “the mark of the devil” as witnessed in the decision of Judas Iscariot to continue following Jesus Christ even after he had ceased to believe in him.

“The problem is that Judas did not go away, and his most serious fault was falsehood, which is the mark of the devil. This is why Jesus said to the Twelve: ‘One of you is a devil’,” said the Pope in his midday Angelus address to pilgrims at Castel Gandolfo Aug. 26.

The pontiff said that Catholics pray to the Virgin Mary to help them to believe in Jesus as St. Peter did and “to be always sincere with him and with all people.”

The Pope continued his recent weeks’ reflections upon Jesus’s “Bread of Life” discourse as delivered in the synagogue of Capernaum.

After Christ declared himself to be “the living bread which came down from heaven” many of those who had followed him, records St. John in his Gospel, “drew back and no longer went about with him.” 

Asked by Jesus if they too will leave, St. Peter replied on behalf of the Twelve “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” 

The one exception, said Pope Benedict, was Judas Iscariot who “could have left, as many of the disciples did; indeed, he would have left if he were honest.” Instead, he chose to remain with Jesus. Not because of faith or love, said the Pope, but out of a secret desire to take vengeance on his master.

“Because Judas felt betrayed by Jesus, and decided that he in turn would betray him. Judas was a Zealot, and wanted a triumphant Messiah, who would lead a revolt against the Romans.” Jesus, however, “had disappointed those expectations.”

The Pope, turning to the 11 apostles who did believe, reminded pilgrims of “a beautiful commentary” of St. Augustine in which the Church Father observed how St. Peter “believed and understood.”

“He does not say we have understood and believed, but we believed and understood. We have believed in order to be able to understand,” wrote St. Augustine in his Commentary on the Gospel of John.

After reciting the Angelus, the Pope expressed some special words of welcome to the new class of seminarians at Rome’s Pontifical North American College.

“Dear seminarians, use your time in Rome to conform yourselves more completely to Christ. Indeed, may all of us remain faithful to the Lord, even when our faith in his teachings is tested. May God bless you all!”

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St. Jeanne Jugan, Little Sisters of the Poor foundress, honored Aug. 30

Denver, Colo., Aug 26, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - On Aug. 30, the Catholic Church celebrates Saint Jeanne Jugan, also known as Sister Mary of the Cross. During the 19th century, she founded the Little Sisters of the Poor with the goal of imitating Christ's humility through service to elderly people in need.

In his homily for her canonization in October 2009, Pope Benedict XVI praised St. Jeanne as “a beacon to guide our societies” toward a renewed love for those in old age. The Pope recalled how she “lived the mystery of love” in a way that remains “ever timely while so many elderly people are suffering from numerous forms of poverty and solitude and are sometimes also abandoned by their families.”

Born on Oct. 25, 1792 in a port city of the French region of Brittany, Jeanne Jugan grew up during the  political and religious upheavals of the French Revolution. Four years after she was born, her father was lost at sea. Her mother struggled to provide for Jeanne and her three siblings, while also providing them secretly with religious instruction amid the anti-Catholic persecutions of the day.

Jeanne worked as a shepherdess, and later as a domestic servant. At age 18, and again six years later, she declined two marriage proposals from the same man. She told her mother that God had other plans, and was calling her to “a work which is not yet founded.”

At age 25, the young woman joined the Third Order of St. John Eudes, a religious association for laypersons founded during the 17th century. Jeanne worked as a nurse in the town of Saint-Servan for six years, but had to leave her position due to health troubles. Afterward she worked for 12 years as the servant of a fellow member of the third order, until the woman's death in 1835.

During 1839, a year of economic hardship in Saint-Servan, Jeanne was sharing an apartment with an older woman and an orphaned young lady. It was during the winter of this year that Jeanne encountered Anne Chauvin, an elderly woman who was blind, partially paralyzed, and had no one to care for her.

Jeanne carried Anne home to her apartment and took her in from that day forward, letting the woman have her bed while Jeanne slept in the attic. She soon took in two more old women in need of help, and by 1841 she had rented a room to provide housing for a dozen elderly people. The following year, she acquired an unused convent building that could house 40 of them.

During the 1840s, many other young women joined Jeanne in her mission of service to the elderly poor. By begging in the streets, the foundress was able to establish four more homes for their beneficiaries by the end of the decade. By 1850, over 100 women had joined the congregation that had become known as the Little Sisters of the Poor.

However, Jeanne Jugan – known in religious life as Sister Mary of the Cross – had been forced out of her leadership role by Father Auguste Le Pailleur, the priest who had been appointed superior general of the congregation. In an apparent effort to suppress her true role as foundress, the superior general ordered her into retirement and a life of obscurity for 27 years.

During these years, she served the order through her prayers and by accepting the trial permitted by God. At the time of her death on Aug. 29, 1879, she was not known to have founded the order, which by then had 2,400 members serving internationally. Fr. Le Pailleur, however, was eventually investigated and disciplined, and St. Jeanne Jugan came to be acknowledged as their foundress.

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Rimini volunteers bring meeting's message to their work

Rimini, Italy, Aug 26, 2012 (CNA) - Three young Canadians all give one reason for volunteering at this year’s Rimini Meeting – they encounter Jesus Christ through their involvement with the lay Catholic group Communion and Liberation.

“What I really remember of my first encounter with Communion and Liberation was that I had never met people – Catholic or non-Catholic – who were so alive, so free, and so fascinated by reality,” Francesca Silano, 24, told CNA in an Aug. 23 interview.

Standing on either side of her were 25-year-old Giacomo Zucchi and 22-year-old Marc Charabati, both from Montreal and both with an identical experience of the movement that was founded in the 1950s by the late Father Luigi Giussani.

 “For me it’s been the way through which Christ revealed himself to me, in a sense, became present in my life,” said Zucchi, a law student at the University of Montreal. Zucchi said he belongs to the movement because it’s where he sees Jesus “more clearly” and where he is “helped to see him more clearly everywhere else in my life.”

“It also introduced me to this unity between faith and the rest of your life,” Charabati remarked, after listening to his two friends.

The three Canadian volunteers are just three of the 4,000 volunteers who make the Rimini Meeting possible.

This year’s event has drawn over 800,000 visitors from more than 20 countries to visit the Rimini Fiera Conference Center. Attendees are able to enjoy seminars, guest speakers, exhibitions, cinema, theatre, music and sporting events.  The overarching theme explored throughout has been “By Nature, Man is in Relation to the Infinite.”

The Canadians’ task for the week has been to work in one of the many food outlets that cater to visitors. In return, they have to pay for their own travel and lodgings.

But despite the seemingly unfair trade, they firmly believe they got a good deal.

“The theme of the meeting becomes like this question that you carry with you when you go to work every day,” Silano related.

 “So it has become a really fascinating dialogue, even with the tiredness and the fact that you are burning hot, that means you finish the day and find yourself so happy.”

“Yeah, working with everybody had been very simple and very beautiful,” added Charabati. “As Francesca said, you may feel completely dead, completely tired, and yet there is still this possibility to experience how beautiful all this is in a very different way.”

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Midwest drought to impact altar bread prices

Greenville, R.I., Aug 26, 2012 (CNA) - Manufacturers of altar bread are preparing to face rising costs of wheat flour as grain prices fluctuate in the wake of a severe drought that continues to plague the Midwest and Western Canada, although they expect to pass along only a minimal price increase to their customers.

In Clyde, Mo., Benedictine Sister Rita Claire Dohn, manager of the altar bread ministry of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, has witnessed a 25 percent increase in the price of wheat flour since the convent last received a delivery two months ago.

“That’s pretty steep when there isn’t a large profit margin,” Sister Dohn emphasized, adding that the convent is the largest religious producer of altar breads in the world. The sisters offer their altar breads wholesale to many smaller convents that resell the life-giving breads to support their community.

“You have to be competitive,” she continued, noting that the sisters are being cautious and have yet to increase the prices of their goods.

She added that the sisters will “hold off as long as possible,” on passing on to their customers any price increases. In addition to making altar bread, the 52-member community is supported by the sale of liturgical vestments and gourmet popcorn.

Sister Dohn said the Clyde monastery produces about 125 million altar breads per year, from whole wheat or white bread. A package containing 500 hosts costs $5.

A farmer in Kansas produces the whole-wheat flour they use, and the white flour comes from a commercial miller in Missouri. Because of contractual obligations, the sisters would not release specific information regarding wheat prices or their suppliers.

Sister Dohn said that the prolonged drought has already taken a toll on the monastery grounds, where new landscaping has withered and died.

“The trees are totally burned,” she lamented. “It looks like fall; the leaves are falling off the trees.”

She added that many of the monastery’s lay employees are also farmers, and many have had corn and soybean crops destroyed by the drought.

According to the National Weather Service, Climate Prediction Center, based in Maryland, drought has affected more than 60 percent of the contiguous 48 states as of mid-August, although significant expansion stopped during the last two weeks.

About one-quarter of the country has experienced extreme to exceptional drought, primarily in a large area extending from the central Rockies eastward through the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys. Many parts of the Midwest received 8 to 12 inches less precipitation than normal from April 1-August 14, with a few areas reporting deficits exceeding one foot of rainfall.

Locally, at the Cavanagh Company, in Greenville, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of altar breads, the Midwest drought has yet to make its impact felt.

General Manager Andy Cavanagh said the company hasn’t yet witnessed an increase in the price it pays for its wheat flour, although it has been notified by its supplier to expect higher prices in the near future as the price of wheat continues to rise.

“We have not felt the effects of this yet,” Cavanagh said, adding that the price of wheat flour doubled in 2008 when a wheat shortage developed as a result of Midwestern farmers shifting their focus to corn, which at the time was more lucrative.

“It’s tough to foresee what the future prices will bring,” Cavanagh added, noting that the company currently pays about $29 for 100 pounds of wheat flour.

The fourth generation altar bread manufacturer said that while his company is utilizing its current inventory of wheat flour, he does expect a slight increase in the cost of the next shipment in a few weeks.

“I’m assuming it won’t be much of a price difference,” he continued. “We pass it on as gently as possible.”

Cavanagh added that the company would increase prices by two percent on October 1, which he attributed to rising employee medical insurance and energy costs, and other operational factors, but not because of an increase in the price of wheat flour.

The company currently produces hosts in whole wheat and white varieties and larger celebration breads in whole wheat.

Cavanagh said that the company operates 24 hours a day, and uses 100 pounds of wheat flour every 20 minutes, for a total of 1.9 million pounds a year. The altar breads are distributed to church goods stores and other retailers, such as convents, throughout the United States, Canada, Australia, England, Africa and the Caribbean.

He emphasized that because the company produces altar breads in volume, the cost to retailers should not be significantly higher.

Father David Green, pastor of St. Martha Church, East Providence, said he has witnessed slight periodic increases in the cost of altar breads during the 11 years he has been a pastor.

“It hasn’t become prohibitive,” he said, noting that the higher prices are in line with the cost of living increases that affect most products.

Tony Prattico, the parish’s bookkeeper, said that he purchases celebration hosts directly from Cavanagh. Last month, the cost of a box of 100 of the large celebration hosts was $7.71, an increase of 15 cents from February 2011.

Posted with permission from The Rhode Island Catholic, official newspaper for the Diocese of Providence, R.I.

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