New York City, N.Y., Apr 18, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York blessed 30 expectant mothers and their unborn children in an April 6 Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, offering a message of hope and love.
“I came to more fully recognize that my faith is not just for me, but also for my unborn son and for all other women struggling with faith and grace in a difficult time,” Kimberly Page told the New York-based Chiaroscuro Foundation.
“This Mass and this blessing have added so much to my life as a Catholic and how I will raise my son.”
Page said it was “redemptive” to see the Church recognize life from conception “even if conceived in circumstances that are not God's intention for the family.”
The 30 pregnant women included first-time mothers as well as women with other children.
Guests at the Mass included patients from the Gianna Center for Women’s Health, residents of Good Counsel Homes, members of the Sisters of Life and employees of the New York archdiocese’s Family Life Office.
Page said she had learned about the blessing through the Sisters of Life, who have been supporting her spiritually during her pregnancy. She said she had been “struggling with love and forgiveness” until the blessing.
Hearing her child being blessed in the womb “has helped me fully accept the grace and love that comes through Christ and his Church,” she said.
“To attend Mass as a single mother is terrifying and sometimes painful but to feel the grace and support from the sisters and from the cardinal has been invaluable,” Page said, adding that the Mass made her feel comfortable receiving Communion.
Cardinal Dolan used a prayer from the “Rite of Blessing for a Child in the Womb.” Published by the U.S. bishops in May 2012, the rite begins with a prayer for the child.
“God, author of all life, bless, we pray, this unborn child,” Cardinal Dolan prayed. “Give constant protection and grant a healthy birth.”
He said that God has brought to the pregnant woman “the wondrous joy of motherhood.”
“Grant her comfort in all anxiety and make her determined to lead her child along the ways of salvation,” he added.
Las Vegas, Nev., Apr 18, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Several hundred delegates of the Nevada Republican Party approved a party platform Saturday that lacks a pro-life plank and drops support for the definition of marriage as a union of one man and one woman.
Nevada State Party Chairman Michael McDonald told the Las Vegas Review-Journal he thought the party platform was “about inclusion, not exclusion.”
“This is where the party is going.”
Fewer than half of the original 520 party delegates were present to vote to approve the platform the evening of April 12 at the party’s annual convention, held at South Point Casino-Hotel in Las Vegas.
The platform vote took place long after the convention’s scheduled 9 a.m. start time, and the modified platform had been proposed by a committee, according to the Review-Journal.
The members of the platform committee said they had decided not to deal with the removed issues in 2014 because the U.S. Supreme Court and other courts had made decisions on them.
Platform committee member Dave Hockaday told the Review-Journal that the platform was a question of how the party can “back out of people’s personal lives.”
“We need to focus on issues where we can have an impact.”
CNA contacted Nevada Right to Life to comment on the platform change, but the organization could not be reached for comment.
Vatican City, Apr 18, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
In his homily for Good Friday’s Passion liturgy, papal preacher Raniero Cantalamessa decried the poisonous actions of those who exploit others for financial gain, urging all to repent of their sin.
“'The love of money,' Scripture says, 'is the root of all evil,' Cantalamessa said in his April 18 homily for Good Friday, stressing that “Behind every evil in our society is money, or at least money is also included there.”
“What lies behind the drug enterprise that destroys so many human lives, behind the phenomenon of the mafia, behind political corruption, behind the manufacturing and sale of weapons, and even behind – what a horrible thing to mention – the sale of human organs removed from children?”
Continuing, the preacher highlighted that “the financial crisis that the world has gone through and that this country is still going through, is it not in large part due to the ‘cursed hunger for gold,’ the auri sacra fames, on the part of some people?”
“Judas began with taking money out of the common purse. Does this say anything to certain administrators of public funds?”
Fr. Cantalamessa is a Franciscan Capuchin Catholic Priest who was appointed as preacher of the Papal Household by Bl. John Paul II in 1980, and who therefore gives a weekly sermon during Advent and Lent in the presence of the Pope, the cardinals, bishops an prelates of the Roman Curia and the general superiors of religious orders.
Taking Judas’ betrayal of Jesus as a launching point for his reflections, Fr. Cantalamessa noted how scripture states that he “became a traitor,” and that he “was thus not born a traitor and was not a traitor at the time Jesus chose him; he became a traitor!”
Questioning those present for the liturgy inside of St. Peter’s Basilica how Judas ended up betraying Jesus, the preacher observed how some attempt to describe him as either belonging to a group of extremists or as being disappointed with Jesus’ idea of the messiah and wanting to take things into his own hands.
Although these thesis might be artistic, Fr. Cantalamessa explained that “they have no historical basis whatsoever,” and that “The Gospels – the only reliable sources that we have about Judas’ character – speak of a more down-to-earth motive: money.”
“Why are people surprised at this explanation, finding it too banal? Has it not always been this way in history and is still this way today?” he asked, adding that “Mammon, money, is not just one idol among many: it is the idol par excellence, literally ‘a molten god.’”
Emphasizing how Satan is “the true enemy” of God, the Franciscan pointed out that “no one decides to serve Satan without a motive,” and that “whoever does it does so because they believe they will obtain some kind of power or temporal benefit from him.”
“No one can serve two masters. . .You cannot serve God and mammon,” he said, quoting the Gospel of Matthew. “Money is the ‘visible god’ in contrast to the true God who is invisible.”
Fr. Cantalamessa then went on to describe how mammon is “the anti-God” because through it “Faith, hope, and charity are no longer placed in God but in money,” and that “A sinister inversion of all values occurs.”
Stressing how scripture tells us that the love of money “is the root of all evil,” the preacher highlighted that it is the underlying motive for most, if not all, criminal activity, such as the mafia, the drug enterprise and the buying and selling of weapons.
“But apart from these criminal ways of acquiring money, is it not also a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice?”
“Like all idols, money is deceitful and lying: it promises security and instead takes it away; it promises freedom and instead destroys it,” he continued, drawing attention to those “placed in positions of responsibility who no longer knew in what bank or monetary paradise to hoard the proceeds of their corruption.”
Haven’t they “found themselves on trial in court or in a prison cell just when they were about to say to themselves, ‘Have a good time now, my soul,’” Fr. Cantalamessa asked.
“For whom did they do it? Was it worth it? Did they work for the good of their children and family, or their party, if that is really what they were seeking? Have they not instead ruined themselves and others?”
On how this betrayal of Jesus still continues today, the Franciscan observed that “the one betrayed is always Jesus,” and that “Judas sold the head, while his imitators sell body, because the poor are members of the body of Christ, whether they know it or not.”
Referring to how one can betray Jesus in other ways besides these “high-profile cases,” Fr. Cantalamessa explained that “A man who betrays his wife, or a wife her husband, betrays Christ.”
“The minister of God who is unfaithful to his state in life, or instead of feeding the sheep entrusted to him feeds himself, betrays Jesus. Whoever betrays their conscience betrays Jesus.”
Drawing attention to the Gospel’s account of how Judas hanged himself after attempting to return the silver he took in exchange for hanging Jesus over, the preacher urged the congregation not to “pass a hasty judgment here.”
“Jesus never abandoned Judas, and no one knows, after he hung himself from a tree with a rope around his neck, where he ended up: in Satan’s hands or in God’s hands,” he observed, expressing “Who can say what transpired in his soul during those final moments?”
“’Friend’ was the last word that Jesus addressed to him, and he could not have forgotten it, just as he could not have forgotten Jesus’ gaze.”
Explaining how although it is true that Jesus himself said of Judas that “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born,” the eternal destiny of man “is an inviolable secret kept by God.”
What his story ought to teach us, the priest continued, is “to surrender ourselves to the one who freely forgives, to throw ourselves likewise into the outstretched arms of the Crucified One.”
“The most important thing in the story of Judas is not his betrayal but Jesus’ response to it,” Fr. Cantalamessa noted, highlighting how Jesus knew what was happening inside of his disciple, but that he did not expose it because he wanted to give Judas “the opportunity right up until the last minute to turn back.”
“He sought out Peter after his denial to give him forgiveness, so who knows how he might have sought out Judas at some point in his way to Calavary!”
“So what will we do? Who will we follow, Judas or Peter?” the Franciscan questioned those in attendance, adding that “Peter had confidence in the mercy of Christ, and Judas did not! Judas’ greatest sin was not in having betrayed Christ but in having doubted his mercy.”
Concluding his reflections, Fr. Cantalamessa encouraged attendees to be confident in the forgiveness of God, pointing out that “there is a sacrament through which it is possible to have a sure experience of Christ’s mercy: the sacrament of reconciliation.”
“How wonderful this sacrament is! It is sweet to experience Jesus as Teacher, as Lord, but even sweeter to experience him as Redeemer, as the one who draws you out of the abyss, like he drew Peter out of the sea, as the one who touches you and, like he did with the leper, says to you, ‘I will; be clean.’”
“Jesus knows how to take all our sins, once we have repented, and make them ‘happy faults,’” he explained, “faults that would no longer be remembered if it were not for the experience of mercy and divine tenderness that they occasioned.”
Rome, Italy, Apr 18, 2014 (CNA/EWTN News) -
Following his celebration of the liturgy commemorating the Lord's Passion, Pope Francis led pilgrims in the traditional prayer of the Stations of the Cross, which was held inside of the Coliseum in Rome.
“I know Jesus guides us from the Cross to the resurrection,” Pope Francis said during his brief comments at the end of the meditations, adding that he “teaches us that evil does not have the final word, but love, mercy.”
“Oh Christ, help us to exclaim anew: 'Yesterday I was crucified with Christ, today I am resurrected with him; yesterday I was dead with Christ, today I am alive with him; yesterday I was buried with him, today I am resurrected with him,'” the Pope reflected.
“All together, we remember the sick,” the pontiff exhorted the crowd in his concluding remarks, “we remember all those abandoned,” and “we find in the trial of the Cross, a force of hope, of the hope of the resurrection and of the love of God.”
Beginning at 9 p.m. On Friday, the meditations for the prayer – which were written by Archbishop Giancarlo Bregantin who oversees the diocese of Campobasso-Boiano in Italy – reflected on the theme “In the suffering face of man is the profile of Christ.”
During an April 14 interview with CNA, the archbishop said that he referred to Pope Francis' example as well as the pontiff's first apostolic exhortation “Evangelii Gaudium” when writing the meditations.
“The true Way of the Cross is not what I have written, but what Pope Francis has done,” he said. “It is he who has made the Way of the Cross. I have only given words to what he writes and does. I am only a spokesman.”
“Evangelii Gaudium,” he observed is an “intense document” because in it the Pope “analyzes with clarity and gives very accurate and intense, real and courageous answers. Prophetic.”
Speaking of this year's stations, the archbishop explained that this year they have a special flavor because they represent “The Passion of Jesus which illuminates my passion.”
“It's not a sermon, a story or an exercise” he stated, clarifying that it is “immersing yourself in our pain, searching in the pain of Christ for the light that only Jesus can give to us,” and adding that “the 14 stations walk through all of the dramas of man from all times.”
“There is no pain in the world that is not fruitful. You never suffer in vain,” Archbishop Bregantin emphasized, reflecting that “to understand it each one of us has to know that he has before him the face of Jesus.”
“Because with these eyes, light and heart, it is possible to encounter in all parts of the world and in every pain and heart, a great hope.”
A centuries-old devotion, the Stations of the Cross originally began as a spiritual pilgrimage to the places marking the events of Christ's Passion and death for those who were unable to travel to the Holy Land in person, as well as for those who wished to relive their experience of going and those preparing to make the journey.
The practice of placing the “stations” of the Cross inside of churches, as well as the number of stations, 14, can be traced back at least to the 18th century.
Persons who carried the Cross during the prayer consisted of varying ages, backgrounds and states of life in the Church, and were all selected in order to illustrate the theme of suffering in Archbishop Bregantin's meditations.
During the prayer, large television screens were set up in the nearby Circo Massimo as well as on the via dei fori imperiali, which runs past the Colosseum, were put in place for participants who were unable to view what was happening inside.
Marta Jimenez contributed to this piece.