Archive of November 4, 2012

Catholic students aid education of Salvadoran villagers

Kentfield, Calif., Nov 4, 2012 (CNA) - When Marin Catholic High School President Tim Navone and principal Chris Valdez were mulling how to exercise the school’s mission – “faith, knowledge, service” – abroad, internationally, their best and brightest idea and connection to another culture was just down the hall at the Kentfield school.

It was Mario Pacheco, the owner of the custodial company that has cleaned Marin Catholic for 16 years. He’s a beloved member of the school’s community who lifted himself out of poverty in the village of El Carmen, El Salvador, and today is its unofficial mayor, if 3,000 miles away in Marin County. If there’s a dispute in El Carmen, his cellphone rings.

Navone knew the story of El Carmen well. For years he has been giving Pacheco used clothing and other goods that he delivers during his visits home several times a year. It’s a place mired in poverty, but the people are rich in spirit and spirituality, and it would be in El Carmen that the Marin Catholic students would carry out the mission.

In the project’s first year, a group of Marin Catholic students, all of them fairly advanced in Spanish, raised money to pay for the high school tuition and other school expenses of two young girls, Jenny and Julissa. They attended grade school at El Carmen School and since January, thanks to the fundraising, have been enrolled at a Catholic high school, Colegio Santa Isabel, in the nearby city of Cojutepeque. It is an opportunity they very likely would not have otherwise had and, with a degree, it will put them on a course for a better life.

“These kids will be getting jobs in Cojutepeque and/or San Salvador, and some will go on to college and they will have, absolutely, a better life path for sure, as did Mario,” said Navone.

“When they saw that people were coming into the village to help them they were obviously excited,” Jack Burnham, a 15-year-old sophomore who was among the group from Marin Catholic that visited El Carmen for a week beginning in late July, said of the people in the village in central El Salvador. “But they were especially excited for Jenny and Julissa going to the Catholic school. They can make something out of their lives and they have a really good opportunity to better their lives and their families’ lives and help them get out of poverty,” he said.

There is no industry in El Carmen. There are two stretches of paved road, one to the house that Pacheco built and from there to the church. There are two flush toilets in El Carmen – both at Pacheco’s house. The other dwellings are of cinder blocks or mud and sticks. Most of the people, after the eighth grade at El Carmen School, go to work at a Chinese-owned textile factory 20 minutes away. They earn $6 a day. A few people raise goats and make cheese and a few others raise corn to barter.

Still, on the week-long visit that was designed to be relationship-building with Jenny and Julissa – with the service piece of the project being the fundraising that followed – Jack, Mary Elizabeth Ward and six other students found the two girls, in addition to being enormously appreciative now that they’re in high school, to have values in common with them.

“We listened to music with them a lot on the bus rides and they had a lot of the music we listen to,” said Mary Elizabeth, also a 15-year-old sophomore, who next summer will be teaching English at the grade school and high school during her visit. “They are so happy to be who they are. And to be there,” she said. They’re staying in touch via Facebook, in Spanish.

Next year, eight new Marin Catholic students will be partnered with four new El Carmen School students, who will go on to Colegio Santa Isabel.

In addition to covering the tuition of $450 per year per student at Colegio Santa Isabel, transportation and other expenses, the fundraising is also going to cover four flush toilets and a kitchen at El Carmen School.

Here’s the Catholic element to the project:

Jack said that this year’s Marin Catholic theme – there’s a new one each year – is “Love one another as I love you,” John 15:12. The El Carmen project, he said, “illustrates that you treat the people in El Carmen the same as everybody here even when they are so different from us.” He added, “It is to treat everybody equally and not be prejudiced. They might not have as much material stuff as we do but they have a lot. They are very spiritual and they seem to be happy no matter what happens to them.”

Mary Elizabeth said, “We showed our love for them and they showed their love for us.”

Also on the trip were students Billy Alten, Cristina Banuelos, Gianmarco Rossi, Lauren Sharps, Christopher Yates and Sheela Ziari, along with Navone, Valdez, Pacheco and Spanish teachers Adam Groshong and Patricia Wagner.

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

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Church honors leadership of Pope St. Leo the Great on Nov. 10

Denver, Colo., Nov 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Nov. 10 is the Roman Catholic Church’s liturgical memorial of the fifth-century Pope Saint Leo I, known as “St. Leo the Great,” whose involvement in the fourth ecumenical council helped prevent the spread of error on Christ's divine and human natures.

St. Leo intervened for the safety of the Church in the West as well, persuading Attila the Hun to turn back from Rome.

Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians also maintain a devotion to the memory of Pope St. Leo the Great. Churches of the Byzantine tradition celebrate his feast day on Feb. 18.

“As the nickname soon attributed to him by tradition suggests,” Pope Benedict XVI said in a 2008 general audience on the saint, “he was truly one of the greatest pontiffs to have honoured the Roman See and made a very important contribution to strengthening its authority and prestige.”

Leo’s origins are obscure and his date of birth unknown. His ancestors are said to have come from Tuscany, though the future pope may have been born in that region or in Rome itself. He became a deacon in Rome in approximately 430, during the pontificate of Pope Celestine I.

During this time, central authority was beginning to decline in the Western portion of the Roman Empire. At some point between 432 and 440, during the reign of Pope St. Celestine’s successor Pope Sixtus III, the Roman Emperor Valentinian III commissioned Leo to travel to the region of Gaul and settle a dispute between military and civil officials.

Pope Sixtus III died in 440 and, like his predecessor Celestine, was canonized as a saint. Leo, away on his diplomatic mission at the time of the Pope’s death, was chosen to be the next Bishop of Rome. Reigning for over two decades, he sought to preserve the unity of the Church in its profession of faith, and to ensure the safety of his people against frequent barbarian invasions.

Leo used his authority, in both doctrinal and disciplinary matters, against a number of heresies troubling the Western church – including Pelagianism (involving the denial of Original Sin) and Manichaeanism (a gnostic system that saw matter as evil). In this same period, many Eastern Christians had begun arguing about the relationship between Jesus’ humanity and divinity.

As early as 445, Leo had intervened in this dispute in the East, which threatened to split the churches of Alexandria and Constantinople. Its eventual resolution was, in fact, rejected in some quarters – leading to the present-day split between Eastern Orthodoxy and the so-called “non-Chalcedonian churches” which accept only three ecumenical councils.

As the fifth-century Christological controversy continued, the Pope urged the gathering of an ecumenical council to resolve the matter. At the Council of Chalcedon in 451, the Pope’s teaching was received as authoritative by the Eastern bishops, who proclaimed: “Peter has spoken through the mouth of Leo.”

Leo’s teaching confirmed that Christ’s eternal divine personhood and nature did not absorb or negate the human nature that he assumed in time through the Incarnation. Instead, “the proper character of both natures was maintained and came together in a single person.”

“So without leaving his Father's glory behind, the Son of God comes down from his heavenly throne and enters the depths of our world,” the Pope taught. “Whilst remaining pre-existent, he begins to exist in time. The Lord of the universe veiled his measureless majesty and took on a servant's form. The God who knew no suffering did not despise becoming a suffering man, and, deathless as he is, to be subject to the laws of death.”

In 452, one year after the Council of Chalcedon, Pope Leo led a delegation which successfully negotiated with the barbarian king Attila to prevent an invasion of Rome. When the Vandal leader Genseric occupied Rome in 455, the Pope confronted him, unarmed, and obtained a guarantee of safety for many of the city’s inhabitants and the churches to which they had fled.

Pope St. Leo the Great died on Nov. 10, 461. He was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754. A large collection of his writings and sermons survives, and can be read in translation today.

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Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade

Chicago, Ill., Nov 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - After being closed for 10 years, the reopening of the National Shrine of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini in Chicago has helped energize the religious congregation she founded.

Sister Joan McGlinchey, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus’ representative at the shrine, said Mother Cabrini had “particular concern” for the poor and vulnerable, and the shrine “celebrates and remembers her holiness and her mission.”

The shrine’s reopening is a “coming back to life” and a “rebirth” for the missionary congregation Mother Cabrini founded, Sr. McGlinchey told CNA Nov. 2.

She said she feels “very hopeful and joyful” now that the shrine is open again.

For a decade the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus have worked to reopen the shrine, which is the former chapel of Columbus Hospital. Mother Cabrini founded Columbus Hospital in 1905, but the hospital was torn down in 2001 and the shrine closed in 2002.

The Italian-born Mother Cabrini arrived in the U.S. in 1889. She went on to establish 67 institutions including hospitals, schools and orphanages across North America and Latin America. She became the first U.S. citizen to be canonized and she is the patron saint of immigrants

Upon Mother Cabrini’s death at Columbus Hospital on Dec. 22, 1917, people began to visit her first-floor room to pay their respects and to pray. The national shrine in her honor was established in August 1955.

Before Columbus Hospital was demolished, Mother Cabrini’s room was dismantled, moved and rebuilt as an annex to the shrine.

Cardinal Francis George of Chicago presided over the inaugural liturgy and blessing at the shrine’s reopening Mass on Sept. 30.

Sr. McGlinchey said the saint’s message is “as relevant today as it was then” because Chicago is “blessed and challenged” with many immigrants.

“Through Mother Cabrini's work of providing health care and education for all, she was able to help immigrants embrace their new lives without abandoning their culture,” she said.

“People in Chicago knew her and admired what she did here and around the world for vulnerable populations. She knew what needed to be done and was able to get it done. She always relied on God and others to accomplish her mission.”

Visitors to the shrine can pray and learn more about the life of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini and her congregation. The shrine’s interior is adorned with hand-painted frescoes, fine marble statuary, gold mosaics, Florentine stained glass and decorative carvings.

The shrine offers a new generation the chance to learn about an American saint, Sr. McGlinchey said.

Since reopening, the shrine has hosted liturgies for groups of former patrons and employees of the hospital. It has also welcomed tour groups. Almost 3,000 people have visited in the past month.

The shrine is open daily, has weekend Masses with opportunities for confession, and hosts Eucharistic adoration on Fridays.

The shrine’s website is

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Pope reflects on the power of love

Vatican City, Nov 4, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI’s Nov. 4 Angelus address reflected on the Sunday Mass reading from St. Mark’s Gospel about the “greatest of all commandments,” giving special attention to the commandment to love God and neighbor.

“Jesus did not invent one nor the other, but revealed that they are, after all, a single commandment,” the Holy Father said with outstretched arms as he stood at his study window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

St. Peter’s Square was unusually packed with pilgrims and visitors—extraordinary both because of the sheer number of people, estimated to be as many as 50,000, and because of the dismal weather. Mist turned into rain as the Pope’s address ended with pealing bells and the blast of a particularly boisterous pilgrim’s air horn.

The Pope reflected on the nature of love, saying one must love with words and witness. He said that love begins not as a command but a gift from God. This gift allows people to see God as he does—with unconditional love—and this in turn should encourage everyone to view one another the same way.

“If the love of God has planted deep roots in a person, then he is able to love even those who do not deserve it, as does God toward us,” Pope Benedict said.

He likened God’s love to the unconditional love parents show their children, however undeserved.

Even if love is undeserved and rejected, it does not go unrewarded, the Pope explained. Love builds upon love and brings one ever closer to the source of love, God. Opening one’s heart toward others also means opening oneself to knowing God, “to feel that he is there and is good.”

Pope Benedict said that having loving eyes allows one to see God ever clearer so that one wants only what is good, never bad.

The Pope ended the formal part of his Angelus address by discussing the power of the Eucharist. He said this sacrament works miracles through helping people to accept the gift of love and to realize the blessings of the greatest commandment to love God and neighbor.

He said the Eucharist is the embodiment of this greatest commandment.

In the Eucharist, he said, Jesus “gifts us this twofold love, gifting himself, because, nourished by this bread, we love one another as he has loved us.”

After the Pope’s Angelus remarks, he recognized several groups of pilgrims from different countries in their native tongues. The pilgrims responded with varying levels of expression reflecting their cultures. Pilgrims from Latin countries tended to wave large banners and respond with jubilant exultation. Polish pilgrims, who are always well represented at the Angelus address, waved a banner and cheered with the gusto of a people whose faith and patriotic identity are so inseparable.

But happy applause and a few polite cheers came from the country last to be recognized.

“It’s representative of English restraint,” said Charles Cole, the assistant director of music at London’s Brompton Oratory, who is preparing an EWTN special for next year about achieving beauty through music. He was in Rome in his capacity as director of music at St. Philip’s School in London.

The boys were “very excited hearing our name mentioned,” said the school’s headmaster Harry Briggs-Davison. “We didn’t expect that.”

Every three years his school takes a Rome pilgrimage. One of the highlights of their three-day trip was yesterday’s audience with Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, who held a question-and-answer with the 40 boys dressed in their school’s sky-blue blazers.

“I asked him what the best part was about being a cardinal,” James Garadnon, a smiling blond-haired 11-year-old said with a gentle voice. “He paused, thought a moment, and said it was serving the Holy Father.”

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