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May 24, 2015
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Denver's Archbishop Aquila restores sacraments to original order

Denver, Colo., May 23 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In an unprecedented change for an archdiocese, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver announced that the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion – will be restored to their original order.
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Denver's Archbishop Aquila restores sacraments to original order

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Insides that didn't decompose – and other stunning facts about Oscar Romero
Oscar Romero, a 'father of the poor,' beatified in El Salvador



US

Denver's Archbishop Aquila restores sacraments to original order

DENVER, COLO., May 23 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In an unprecedented change for an archdiocese, Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver announced that the Sacraments of Initiation – Baptism, Confirmation and First Communion – will be restored to their original order.

“In an increasingly secular world, the reality is this: the souls of our children are the battleground. As the shepherd of the Archdiocese of Denver, I must do everything I can to help those who form children win that battle,” he explained in his pastoral letter “Saints Among Us” released May 23.

“The world needs saints. Even as our society becomes more distant from faith and more forgetful of God, it still hungers for joyful witnesses who have been transformed by Christ,” he explained. “At the same time, new generations of Catholics need grace to sustain them in a non-Christian environment.”

In response to those needs, Archbishop Aquila said he’s chosen to restore the sacraments to the original order.

While the majority of dioceses and archdioceses have children baptized in infancy, receive the First Communion in first or second grade and Confirmation sometime in middle or high school, the original order placed Confirmation and First Communion in the same ceremony.

“This will make available every sacramental grace the Church has to offer to children who have reached the age of reason,” he explained.

When he made the change in his then-Diocese of Fargo in 2002, he said he was convinced by the “theological and pastoral reasons” that it was the right decision, but the feedback from parents after it was implemented further confirmed the change.

In his pastoral letter, Archbishop Aquila detailed a five year plan that will help parishes in Northern Colorado implement the changes by 2020.

It is his hope that after the change, Confirmation will no longer be the “sacrament of farewell” and Pope Francis regretfully called it, but rather “a profound encounter with each person of the Holy Trinity.”

As a result of the change, youth groups will need to adapt from sacramental preparation to “building community, fostering deeper relationships with each person of the Holy Trinity, and preparing them to be witnesses to the poor, those in need, and those who do not know Jesus Christ.”

This model, which is based on Jesus’ preparation of the Twelve Apostles, is already present in many parishes of the Archdiocese and is “bearing great fruits.”




Americas

Insides that didn't decompose – and other stunning facts about Oscar Romero

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR, May 23 (CNA/EWTN News) .- In his role as Vicar General, Monsignor Ricardo Urioste was one of the closest collaborators of Oscar Romero, the archbishop of San Salvador who was martyred for the faith in 1980 and beatified just this weekend.

And this monsignor has some stories to tell.

Among the most fascinating involve details surrounding the day Romero was killed, what the late archbishop really thought about the controversial and problematic Liberation Theology, and the fact that the martyr’s insides hadn’t decomposed when they were exhumed three years after his death.

Archbishop Romero was brutally killed while celebrating Mass on March 24, 1980 – a time when El Salvador was on the brink of civil war. In February Pope Francis officially recognized his death as having been for hatred of the faith and gave the green light for his beatification.

Msgr. Urioste, who currently heads up the Archbishop Romero Foundation, said that during the time the martyr lived, whenever “he preached, spoke, was a pastor, they accused him of being communist, Marxist, a politician, and a thousand things."

However, he noted how after 12 years of extensive study on the life and writings of the archbishop, the Vatican never found anything that supported these claims.

In an interview with CNA, Msgr. revealed some the of the lesser known facts surrounding the new blessed, as well as his continuing legacy on the Church and the world at large.

What happened on the day Archbishop Romero died

Msgr. Urioste can easily recall the day that Archbishop Romero was killed, saying that it was “an ordinary day of work” for him.

In the morning the archbishop had a meeting with a group of priests, and then they ate lunch together. After the meeting he went to confession with his usual confessor, which was a priest named Fr. Segundo Ascue.

Once he confessed, Archbishop Romero went to celebrate a 6 p.m. Mass in San Salvador’s hospital of Divine Providence, which was staffed by nuns. The Mass, Mons. Urioste recalled, had been widely publicized throughout the diocese.

While he was celebrating Mass in the hospital’s chapel, the archbishop was shot in the chest from outside.

Msgr. Urioste said that after getting a phone call informing him of what happened, “I immediately went to the hospital, and he was already taken to the polyclinic. A television set arrived, they interviewed me, and after I went to the hospital where he was."

He recalled how as the sisters were going to embalm Archbishop Romero’s body, he told them “please be careful not to drop his insides anywhere, but that they pick them up and bury them, and they did, burying them in front of the little apartment I had in the hospital where he lived."

Three years later, on the occasion St. John Paul II’s visit to the country, the nuns of the hospital “made a monument to the Virgin in the same place where we had buried (Romero’s) insides.”

“When they were digging they ran into the box and the plastic bag where they had placed the insides, and the blood was still liquid and the insides didn't have any bad smell,” he revealed.

“I don't want to say that it was a miracle, it's possible that it's a natural phenomenon, but the truth is that this happened, and we told the archbishop at the time (Arturo Rivera y Damas), look monsignor, this has happened and he said 'be quiet, don't tell anyone because they are going to say that they are our inventions,'” he said.

However, “Pope John Paul II was given a small canister with Archbishop Romero’s blood,” he noted.

Msgr. Urioste recalled that when John Paul II arrived to San Salvador, the first thing he did “was go to the cathedral without telling anyone. The cathedral was closed, they had to go and look for someone to open it so that the Pope could enter and kneel before the tomb of Archbishop Romero.”

John Paul II asked during his visit that no one manipulate the memory of Archbishop Romero, Msgr. Urioste recalled, and lamented how “they politicized him.”

“The left had politicized him, putting him as their banner. And the right politicized him, saying things that are untrue about the bishop, that are purely false, they denigrated him.”

One of the things that the Church in El Salvador wants, Msgr. Urioste said, is that “the figure of the archbishop, known now a little more than he was before, is a cause for reflection, a motive for peace, a motive for forgiveness, a motive for reconciliation with one another, and that we all have more patience to renew ourselves and follow the paths that Archbishop Romero proposed to us.”

“I think that (Romero’s) figure is going to contribute a lot to a better meeting and reconciliation in El Salvador,” he said.

What Archbishop Romero really thought about Liberation Theology

Despite the many accusations leveled against the archbishop of San Salvador, his Vicar General said that Romero “never had a Marxist thought or Marxist ideology in his mind.”

“If there had been, the Vatican, which has studied so much, would not have beatified him, if they had found that he had Marxist interests.”

The real backbone of his closeness to the poor, he said, was the Gospel and the teaching of the Church.

“He was a servant of the Gospel, he never read anything from Liberation Theology, but he read the Bible.”

Msgr. Urioste noted that the archbishop's library, “had all these books from the early Fathers of the Church, from the current Magisterium of the Church, but (he) never even opened any of the books from Liberation Theology, or Gustavo Gutiérrez, or of anyone else.”

“He read the Bible and there he encountered a Jesus in love with the poor and in this way started walking toward him,” he said.

What set Archbishop Romero apart

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Archbishop Romero was “his great sense of work. He was an extremely hardworking man and devoted to his work day and night – until midnight and until dawn,” Msgr. Urioste said.

He recalled how the archbishop would begin to prepare his Sunday homilies the day before, and would always include three reflections on the Eucharist. When Romero preached, he made frequent reference to the Fathers of the Church, based his comments on Church teaching and related his thoughts to the country's current reality.

“A homily that doesn't have this relation with what is happening sounds the same here as in Ireland, in Paris, as anywhere,” the priest said.

He recalled how in Romero's time the government was “a ferocious military dictatorship, which had 'national security' as it's theme.”

Everyone who either sided with the poor or expressed concern for them “was accused of being communist, they were sent to be killed without thinking more. There were 70 thousand deaths like this in the country at that time,” Msgr. Urioste noted.

“The social economic reality was of a lot of poverty, of a great lack of unemployment, of low wages.”

Ultimately, Archbishop Romero’s beatification, the monsignor said, is “a triumph of the truth.”

It is a triumph, he said, of the truth of “who Archbishop Romero really was, what he did, how he did it, from the Word of God, from the Magisterium of the Church, in defense of the poor, who were the favored ones of Jesus Christ and who were were also the favored ones of Archbishop Romero.”




Oscar Romero, a 'father of the poor,' beatified in El Salvador

SAN SALVADOR, EL SALVADOR, May 23 (CNA/EWTN News) .- Archbishop Oscar Romero was beatified in El Salvador this morning, with Pope Francis declaring from the Vatican that the martyr's feast will be celebrated on March 24 each year – the day “in which he was born into heaven.”

Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over Blessed Oscar Romero's May 23 beatification Mass in the capital city of San Salvador.

In his homily the cardinal said that “the figure of Romero is still alive and giving comfort to the marginalized of the earth.”

“His option for the poor was not ideological, but evangelical. His charity extended to the persecutors.”

Archbishop Romero was killed due to hatred of the faith on March 24, 1980, in the midst of the birth of a civil war between leftist guerrillas and the dictatorial government of the right. At the beginning of this year Pope Francis approved of his martyrdom and that the ceremony of his beatification be held.

The Mass began at 10:00 a.m. local time in front of a multitude of near 300,000 people, who filled the streets surrounding the Salvador Plaza of the Mundo de San Salvador.

At the beginning of the ceremony, the current archbishop of San Salvador, Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar Alas, read a message asking Pope Francis “to deign to enroll in the number of the blesseds this venerable servant of God Óscar Arnulfo Romero Galdámez.”

The postulator Archbishop Romero's cause, Mons. Vicenzo Paglia, then read a brief biography of the now Blessed.

In a letter read first in Latin and then in Spanish, Pope Francis said that “to fulfill the hope of many faithful Christians” and by virtue of his apostolic authority he authorized that hereafter Archbishop Romero “is called Blessed and his feast is celebrated the day of March 24, on the day that he was born into heaven.”

The Holy Father described the now Blessed Salvadoran as “Bishop and martyr, pastor according to the heart of Christ, evangelizer and father of the poor, heroic witness of the Kingdom of God.”





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