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Archive of February 16, 2013

Conclave may take place earlier than expected

Vatican City, Feb 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican's spokesman announced today that the coming conclave to elect Pope Benedict XVI's successor might be convened in shorter order than previously thought.

"It is possible that church authorities can prepare a proposal to be taken up by the cardinals on the first day after the papal vacancy," Holy See Press Office director Fr. Federico Lombardi told the press on Feb. 16.

Church law currently prescribes that from the moment a Pope dies or renounces the pontificate "the Cardinal electors who are present must wait fifteen full days for those who are absent."

In Blessed John Paul II's 1996 document, the Apostolic Consitution titled "Universi Dominici Gregis," cardinals are decreed to commence the voting process behind closed doors no sooner than 15 days, but no later than 20 into the "sede vacante" period.

Given the unprecedented circumstances of the Pope's planned resignation on Feb. 28, however, Fr. Lombardi stated that the date could be moved forward.

"In the Constitution, it says between 15 and 20 days, but, this period is to 'wait,' that is to give those who need it the time necessary to reach the Vatican. In the eventuality that the cardinals were already all here, the Constitution could be interpreted in a different way," said the press office director.

Fr. Lombardi said it would be in the hands of the College of Cardinals, led by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, to decide.

He also revealed that Pope Benedict XVI will likely be spending two months at the papal residence in Castel Gandolfo following his resignation. He will be waiting there for renovations to be completed on Mater Ecclesiae monastery. Joining him at the property within the Vatican gardens will be his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, and members of his current household staff.

Meanwhile, preparations continue for the final papal general audience on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Vatican Radio reported that thousands will be "flocking" to St. Peter's Square, where they will be able to attend Pope Benedict XVI's “last great appointment with the People of God.”

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Lombardi coaching and living by 'faith, family, football'

New Orleans, La., Feb 16, 2013 (CNA) - Joe Lombardi has one of the most recognizable last names in sports thanks to his iconic grandfather, Vince, who took the National Football League by storm during his coaching tenure with the Green Bay Packers.

Joe carried on his famous grandfather's Super Bowl winning legacy by winning a world championship ring of his own as a coach with the 2009 New Orleans Saints, but it all takes a backseat when it comes to his Catholic faith.

He lives by his grandfather's credo of "Faith, Family, and Football," and was emphatic that the importance of the trio was followed in that order.  His Catholic faith has played an instrumental role in his life, Lombardi said of his grandfather.  Vince died just nine months after Joe was born in 1970.

"I never had a chance to really meet my grandfather, but the things he has passed on about our Catholic faith lives on with me today," said Lombardi, who has been married to his wife Julie for 13 years and has six children.

He has been successful in various coaching positions on different levels from offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Mercyhurst College to coach of tight ends and running backs for the New York/New Jersey Hitmen of the now-defunct XFL.  He coached tight ends and tackles at Virginia Military Institute and even played for the United States Air Force Academy, where he was named a lieutenant and served four years and earned three letters.

These various positions have helped season Lombardi and allowed him to bring those experiences to the position he holds currently in the NFL as quarterbacks coach for New Orleans.  Yet he does not hesitate to explain how the game of football and his Catholic faith are similar in building a foundation for success.

"In football, you deal with the Xs and Os and the game is about the fundamentals such as blocking, tackling, throwing, and catching the ball," Lombardi said.  "You look at the fundamentals of our Catholic faith and they are built on our sacraments, confession, the rosary, and attending Mass."

"Football can be a very demanding profession, and it takes a lot of time from your family.  You are up early and go to bed late and many things get put on hold.  I have a long drive and there's no reason why I can't say a rosary instead of listening to music in the car while driving across the bridge on the way to practice or on the way home.  I don't golf, I don't fish, I don't hunt, and I have no hobbies.  I live a simple life.  It is all for my family and my faith."

His daily life is guided by using his Catholic faith and has helped through many situations over the years.  One that stands out to him is a conversation where he had to defend his stringent following of the Catholic faith.

"I have friends who are not Catholic and they sometimes bring up reasons why they disagree with the Catholic church and its teachings, and even some friends who are Catholic sometimes are skeptical of their own faith," Lombardi said.  "There are other religions for others to follow, but they do not stress the important aspects such as sacraments, confession, going to Mass, and more.  I have some friends who say they do not want to be told what they have to do."

Lombardi said that his Catholic faith is very important to him and plays an instrumental role in his life, but nothing is more important to him than the sacraments of Mass and the holy Eucharist.

"I can be talking to a friend and they can tell me parts of the Catholic faith that are not important to them," Lombard said.  "It is all about the sacraments for me."

"Your faith gives you a sense of perspective.  It shows how the world is a small blip and we are working all toward eternity.  You have to trust that things will work out.  It may not be what you want at the time, but God has bigger plans for you.  It is an eternal thing that is much bigger and keeps our feet on the ground."

Lombardi sums up how he would describe his Catholic faith to someone he never met in a quote by famed writer C.S. Lewis who became known as one of the most influential Christian writers of the 20th century.

"Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance.  The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."

Posted with permission from the Catholic Sports Association, an organization dedicated to highlighting Catholic sports professionals and enriching junior high and high school student-athletes with Catholic sports articles, conferences, a Web series, and other programs.

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US couple's elopement results in 80 years of marriage

Hartford, Conn., Feb 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - John and Ann Betar, a Fairfield, Conn. couple who eloped to escape an arranged marriage 80 years ago, have been honored as the longest-married couple in the U.S. by an organization dedicated to strengthening marriage.

“John and Ann really exemplify people who are committed to a long-term marriage,” Dick Baumbach, a coordinator of Worldwide Marriage Encounter's Lifelong Marriage Project, told CNA Feb. 15.

“They didn’t really see their achievement as that much, except as two people who have been very much in love and have been for a few years.”

“Long marriages can exist in this country,” Baumbach said.

The Betars grew up in a Syrian emigrant community in Bridgeport, Conn. John, who is about four years older than Ann, used to drive her to school in his Ford Roadster.

Ann was supposed to marry a man 20 years older in a marriage arranged by her father. Instead, the couple decided to elope to Harrison, N.Y. to be married. She was 17. He was 21.

“Some people said it would never last. We showed them,” John said.

John is now 101 years old and Ann is 97. They have had five children, 14 grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. They celebrated their 80th anniversary on Nov. 25, 2012.

Ann said she and her husband are “very fortunate.”

“It is unconditional love and understanding. We have had that. We consider it a blessing,” she told ABC News in November.

“I fell for her right away,” John said. “Gradually she liked me and we got together.”

They have a picture of themselves in wedding clothes that was actually taken six months after their wedding. Ann borrowed a wedding dress from a friend.

After marrying, Ann became a housewife who raised the children.

John had sold newspapers in the 1920s for two cents per issue. He became a fruit peddler before opening his own grocery store in 1938. He retired in 1964.

The couple are founding members of their Antiochian Orthodox church. John bought a six-acre plot of land for the church next to his grocery store for $42,000 out of his own pocket.

The two have had some sadness in their life. Two of their children have died.

The couple recently survived Hurricane Sandy and had to move in with their granddaughter while their home was repaired. They are again living on their own at their home on the beach.

In his remarks to ABC, John gave some advice for a lasting marriage.

“Get along. Compromise. Live within your means and be content,” he said.  “And let your wife be the boss.”

“We don’t have bosses,” Ann objected, recommending that spouses don’t hold grudges and live by their commitments.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter picked the Betars out of the many nominations it received from Oct. 15, 2012 to Jan. 10, 2013. It is possible there are U.S. couples who have been married longer, but their family and friends did not nominate them.

Baumbach with his wife and project coordinator Diane honored the Betars with at their granddaughters’ home in Fairfield, Conn. on Feb. 9. The Baumbachs presented the couple with three framed certificates: one from the marriage encounter group, an official statement from Conn. Governor Daniel Malloy, and a statement of recognition from Congress.

Baumbach said the award shows that long-married couples “can be a light to the world for what they accomplish.”

The Betars will also receive several presents whose delivery was delayed by the winter storms in the northeast.

Worldwide Marriage Encounter was founded by a Spanish priest in 1952. It has offered faith-based weekend marriage enrichment retreats for 44 years. Its present programs include evening and half-day programs presented at parishes and other church venues. The organization has a presence in almost 100 countries.

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Spanish laywoman could be made saint

Vatican City, Feb 16, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A Spanish laywoman born over a hundred years ago could be made saint after the results of an investigation to have her beatified were submitted Feb. 15 at the Vatican.

“She was important because she was a woman, a lay woman and a pioneer of consecrated laity,” who anticipated “the Second Vatican Council’s universal call for sainthood,” said Pina Milana, director of Instituto Secular Operarias Parroquiales Magdalena Aulina.

Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach of Barcelona closed the diocesan process for the canonization of Magdalena Aulina on Feb. 9.

On Feb. 15, the documents from the diocesan phase were submitted to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints at the Vatican.

Milana explained to CNA that this means her canonization process is now entering a second phase, known as “the Roman phase,” which will involve her life and heroic virtues being studied in greater depth.

The investigation process for her beatification initially began over six years ago on Nov. 3, 2006.

“We completely trust God and in the wisdom of the Holy Church that Magdalena Aulina will be presented as a model of daily holiness for the diocesan and universal Church,” Milana stated.

“The strength of prayer of the whole Institute and of the Aulina family will be our support and hope in this new phase,” she said.

Magdalena Aulina Saurina was born in 1897 in Bañolas, a Catalan town in northern Spain, to a wool and coal merchant and a woman of deep religious beliefs.

At the age of 15 she read the biography of Saint Gemma Galgani, known for her imitation of the passion of Christ and for receiving his wounds, and was inspired to follow her lifestyle.

“She was determined and clairvoyant woman of faith and hope with a boundless love for Christ, his Church and the human person, regardless of their social class or religious idea,” said Milana.

In 1916, Magdalena organized a month devoted to Mary with the children of Bañolas.

She felt she had a religious vocation but she also wanted to live like St. Gemma, who was a secular.

In 1921 she fell ill with problems in her heart and head, which worsened two years later. She prayed a novena to St. Gemma and was healed. Her doctors said her healing could not be explained.

Magdalena then had mystical visions of the saint that led her to promote her veneration and the building of a fountain in Bañolas dedicated to the saint, who was at the time being beatified.

She founded an association in Banyoles in 1922, which combined promoting religious life with Christian education for children. It offered a place of retreat and recreation for girls who did not attend school, as well as literacy classes and vocational training.

“Her new way of living complete consecration to God in the midst of the world, among people, to be leaven in the dough, attracted a multitude of people,” said the director of the Institute promoting her canonization.

“And thanks to her faith, today her “Instituto Secular Operarias Parroquiales” is present in Spain, Italy, France, Puerto Rico, Paraguay, Equatorial Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

She moved in together with other girls who shared her mission in 1931 and went on to make vows of chastity, poverty and obedience.

Magdalena Aulina died in Barcelona on May 15, 1956.

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July 23, 2014

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Mt 13:1-9

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First Reading:: Jer 1:1, 4-10
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